Saturday, February 23, 2013

Forever After!

Today marks another year of true love.

Today marks many lessons learned through some tough times.

Today marks many years of laughter and tears.

Today marks 28 years of faithfulness to each other.

Today begins another year of love, wonder and adventure.

I prayed for the man I married; a heart felt prayer, on my knees, in my bed, with tears streaming down my face. I was 17.  God heard my prayer that night, and answered with more than I ever dreamed or imagined possible.

Rick and I were introduced two weeks later on a "blind date".  We went to a Youth/College Bible Study at his church and then double dated with friends afterwards at Pizza Inn.  I knew that night that God had answered my prayer.  We never dated anyone else, and five years later, on February 23,1985, we were married. 

As a true, hopeless romantic, I believed in fairy tales!  He was my Prince Charming and I was his Princess.  After 28 years, I may not believe in "Happily Ever After", but I do believe in "Forever After". 

You see, every day has its challenges and some days I may not feel happy.  Happiness comes and goes because its just a feeling.  Marriage is not a feeling; its a promise to love and to do life together Forever After;  after the wedding;  after the honeymoon; after an argument; after children. 

After the vows, whatever happens, we will stay together because we love each other and we promised!  But I can honestly say we have had lots of Happy!

No marriage is perfect, but with Jesus Christ tying the knot, it will not be broken.  Marriage is a lifetime of growing together, learning together, and loving together everyday! Rick and I are stronger because of lessons learned.  Our love is deeper today because our wedding vows were not just words.  Forever After is a solemn vow we made to each other and to God in front of hundreds of witnesses.  "What God hath joined together, let no man put assunder (separate)."

In a true Forever After marriage, divorce doesn't exist.  The word is not even in our vocabulary. No matter what, we vowed to work out our differences.  We vowed to put our spouse's best interest ahead of ourselves. We vowed to stay together...forever.

Love sacrifices. Love suffers. Love never fails.  Love never gives up! 

As we continue our Forever After journey, I can hardly wait to see what God has instore for us.
I love you, Sweetheart!  Thank you for loving me!

My Pleasure,

Friday, February 22, 2013

Remembering Rehearsal Night

 As I sit here on the eve of mine and Rick's 28th wedding anniversary, we would be finishing up our rehearsal dinner about now.  It was a night to remember, but I remember it...barely.


The week before we were to be married, I came down with some sort of flu.  I had never been that sick in my life.  On Wednesday night, my high school chorus teacher came by my house to see me.  All I really remember was she was there and I couldn't lift my head off the pillow.  I felt awful.

By Friday, I was better, but I also had had an allergic reaction to the medicine.  My mother, being the good nurse that she was, gave me a benadryl. The rehearsal is a blur.  I only remember my father-in-law-to-be giving a sweet speech at dinner which was held at AJ's on Devine Street. 

 My heart's desire from the time I could speak was to be a wife and a mommy.  The night before my heart's desire was to come true, I could hardly function, less remember.
Isn't that the way it is?  We get our hopes up for something really special, pour time and effort into it, and because we've allowed our expectations to get out of control, we end up being disappointed.  Why?
Psalm 37:4 says, "Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart." NIV

The answer to the "why" question is...because when we put so much delight in making our own plans, we forget that the Lord is our delight.  Our plans will fail, but the Lord never fails or disappoints. 
I've had to be taught this lesson many times over our 28 years of marriage, and I can say without a doubt, that the Lord has never failed me or disappointed me.  I've disappointed Him and I've disappointed myself.  I've questioned God about many things that I thought should have happened differently. He lets me rant, but then He brings me to my senses and lifts the veil of disappointment so I can see clearly that He always has my best interest at heart.  When our desires are His desires, we are never disappointed.  He will always give us the desires of our heart when we have a heart like His.

Tomorrow is our celebration day; the day when God gave me the first desire of my heart;
to be a wife.
Thank you, Jesus, for letting me remember that the wedding rehearsal was not what I needed to remember. The wedding ceremony was where you would fulfill my heart's desire, and that I do remember!  Amen.

My Pleasure,

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

What to Wear... The Belt of Truth (Lesson 2)

What is truth
Why do we need to wear the belt of truth?
As we continue our study, we are continuing to examine Ephesians 6:10-20. 
Paul repeats the instruction to "put on the full armor of God" this week.  We discussed that the reason instructions are repeated is because we are poor listeners and repetition helps us follow through.  When God says something once it's important, but when He repeats Himself, you better listen up.
"Therefore, put on the full armor of God."
Ephesians 6:13
Why is it so important that we put on the FULL armor of God?  The girls answered because where we aren't covered with God's protection, we are vulnerable and weak.  The parts that are uncovered are fair game for the enemy to wound us. 
The item of Designer wear that we are hanging in our spiritual closets this week is the belt of truth!  A belt is used to hold everything else in place.  Truth is what holds our armor in place.  Truth grounds us in our faith. Truth....
What is truth?
We need to know what truth is before we can wear it and wear it well.  Jesus tells Pilate in John 18:37 that He has come to testify to the truth.  Jesus is a witness of truth.  The Greek word for truth is absolute.  Something that's absolute cannot change.  It is what it is and there is no discussion.
The reason Jesus came to earth was to show us the Father.  If Jesus came to testify to the truth, then He came to testify to the Father.  God is truth. God is absolute.  He never changes.  He is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
Jesus also tells His disciples in John 14:6, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." NIV  Jesus is the only way to God.  No matter what anyone may say, there is no other way.  Believing with a whole heart in Jesus Christ is how we become connected to the Father.  Jesus is Truth.  Jesus is absolute. He never changes.  He is the same yesterday, today, and forever.  Hebrews 1:3 tells us that Jesus is the exact representation of the Father, therefore, Jesus is TRUTH!
Being protected from the devil and his schemes begins with knowing TRUTH. To know Jesus is to know TRUTH.  Knowing Him begins with faith and ends with faith. Knowing Him comes about through a personal relationship, saturating our minds with His Word, praying, learning, growing and maturing in our faith. 
When we are belted with the Truth, then the full armor will stay in place.  So our job this week is to clean out any untruth that is hanging in our spiritual closets and to hold on to the absolute truth- Jesus! 
Until next week...
My Pleasure,

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

What to Wear...The Battle of the Vowels (Lesson 1)

We learned this week in our What to Wear...from this day forward study that at the center of SIN is "I" or "self". When we follow through with our selfish desires, we sin. 
Being in Christ means we have become a new creation.  (Read 2 Corinthians 5:17)
Old things pass away and all things become new.
As a new creation, our old nature is now in conflict with the new nature. In other words, the flesh is battling the Spirit take-over.  The new nature moving in is not welcomed by the old nature which is moving out
This Spiritual take-over is a process of removing "self" and replacing it with Christ! 
I like to think of it as a vowel swap from "I" to "O";
S-I-N to S-O-N!
When the new nature moves in this begins our spiritual journey; our walk with Christ.
As we walk this journey, we will have to do battle every day.  To win these battles, we have to be fully armed with the armor of God.  (Ephesians 6:10-20) These battles are not against people, but against the forces of Satan.  Any time we are not covered, the enemy can move into that area of weakness.  If we are not strong in the Lord and in the power of His might (Ephesians 6:10), then the old nature can creep back in and do the
vowel swap; "O" for "I". Although our salvation cannot be stripped away,
 we can appear to have lost it, by living in defeat.
When we are strong in the Lord and in the power of His might, we can defeat the enemy! We do not have to swap vowels! We can rest in the SON! 
You see, Jesus Christ has already won THE battle over Satan! So, because we're in Christ, we have the same power inside of us to defeat sin in our daily lives.
The goal of a Christian is to live his or her life to bring glory to God. That means we strive to live a sin-less life. Not that we will ever be perfect on this side of heaven, but we can sin less and less as the "I" moves out and the "O" moves in.
More Christ means more joy.  More peace. More faith. More trust.
More of the full life here on earth!
Who is winning the battle for your heart?
As we continue this study, we will be identifying the armor that will protect us from Satan's schemes.  The more we know Christ, the more we can stand against the evil one.  But we have to know What to Wear...from this day forward!
Until next week...
My Pleasure,

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

"What to Wear..."- The Cover-Up

This past Sunday was the beginning!
Introduction to...
What to Wear... from this day forward
A spiritual closet cleansing and reorganizing
11th and 12th grade girls
2 teachers
So exciting!


Question:  "Why do we wear clothes?"
One Girl's Answer:  "Because we would get arrested if we didn't."
Oh, how they make me smile!
The above question was designed to get the girls to think...

to think back...

way back;

back... to the beginning...

to the very first attempt of a cover-up.

The very first sin occured in Genesis 3 resulting in shame and an attempt to cover up the sin and shame.  This attempted cover-up set God's redemption plan, which was designed before time began, into motion- right there in the garden. (Read Genesis 3)
Eve dwelled on doubt. Doubt was placed in her mind by the truth-twisting serpent (Satan).  The doubt led Eve to question God and His promise about the forbidden fruit.  Then the questioning led to the acceptance of the twisted truth, convincing herself that God didn't really mean what He said.  Forming her own conclusion over God's truth, Eve examined the mouth-watering fruit, took the forbidden bite, and sin was birthed.

Serving the forbidden fruit to her husband, they both fell short; short of God's glory-the glory they were already experiencing- and as their eyes opened spiritualy, knowing good and evil, they were ashamed; ashamed because they were naked.  They attempted to cover themselves with fig leaves and tried to hide from God in the garden.  But God knew what they had done. They had to own up and face their sin.
So...this is why we wear clothes!  S-I-N.  Sin.

Because they couldn't cover up their sin, God made animal skins for them to wear.  God killed the animals to get the skins to cover Adam and Eve's sin.  This was the first picture of redemption- the shedding of blood- the first sacrifice, performed by God Himself. Adam and Eve couldn't cover their sin; only God could make the sacrifice to pay the price for sin.  His Son, Jesus Christ, would be the ultimate sacrifice in the fullness of time.

What to Wear... from this day forward is the new study that my daughter's discipleship group is working through this semester.  As she is becoming a young woman, and my time with her slips away, I know I have to be intentional about teaching her some very important spiritual principles.  My spiritual walk catapulted during my senior year in high school and through college. I pray with a sincere heart that this Bible study, which was written as a graduation gift for her and for the girls who have graced our home through the years, might help in doing the same for them.  As we study God's Word together, learn from and encourage one another, my blog over the next several weeks will include a recap of each week's lesson.

Please join us!

My Pleasure,

Saturday, February 2, 2013

"What to Wear...from this day forward" is a new Bible study (Living Real Curriculum) I've written dedicated to my daughter as a graduation present.  This past summer I attended the She Speaks Conference for the second time, and just like the first time I attended, God spoke very clearly to me as to what I was to do with my writing.

So this past fall instead of teaching a Bible study, I spent my time writing one and, beginning this week, I will have the privilege of teaching it to my daughter's small group at church.  I'm truly praying that this will be a time of great spiritual growth for her, as well as, for the girls who participate. 

The purpose of this study is to clean out what doesn't fit or flatter and place in our spiritual closets the fashion wear designed by the Master to fit and flatter the Person of Jesus Christ; the Person whom we carry inside our hearts and represent each and every day.

Each lesson will teach about an item, or items, that need to hang in our spiritual closets.  As the closet of our hearts is cleaned out and reorganized, the goal is to dress with God's best for spiritual success. 

The armor of God in Ephesians 6 is the spiritual wear designed for battle with the enemy.  If we're not covered, then Satan can easily attack.  When we aren't prepared for battle, we are weak.  The enemy loves to defeat God's children.  Since he cannot strip us of our salvation, he seeks to steal our joy, distort our reflection of Jesus, and destroy our influence on others for Christ.  But when we are prepared for battle with God's armor, we are protected from Satan's antics and destruction in our lives.

In Galatians 5, we discover the spiritual accessories designed by the Master Designer.  The fruits of the Spirit add a splash of color and texture to our spiritual wardrobe.  Blended with the personality that God has created us with, these priceless accessories cause those around us to take notice; not of us, but taking notice of the Person of Jesus Christ living inside us.

As we go through this study, I hope you'll join me each week as we proceed with a much needed spiritual spring cleaning so we can be all that God has designed us to be as we select "What to Wear... from this day forward".

My Pleasure,