V is for Victory Over Death AND Divorce

barred tomb

What is holding you back? Jesus has the power to raise the dead. Listen for His call.

I recently reread the Bible passage The Raising of Lazarus, and, as often happens when I pick up the Bible or read Laudate’s downloaded version, I found a new message in the familiar story.

Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.  So when he heard that he was ill, he remained for two days in the place where he was. Then after this he said to his disciples, “Let us go back to Judea.”

~ John 11:5-7

SO

How can one little word have such impact? 

So when he (Jesus) heard that he was ill, he remained for TWO DAYS in the place where he was.”

And during those two days, Lazarus died.

How long those two days must have felt for Mary and Martha and those mourning Lazarus.

And yet, Jesus stayed where he was. Not only did he stay, but before that the Bible says, “Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.”

This means that he stayed BECAUSE he loved them???

We tend to think that if someone loves us they should do what we want, when we want, the way we want. If I had been Martha or Mary, I’d have been pretty upset with Jesus. Martha and Mary’s words show they may have been upset too,

Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” (John 11: 21)

When Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” (John 11:32)

At this, Jesus became deeply troubled and wept with them. Jesus Loved Lazarus and knew death was a part of life so why would He weep?

I wonder if He wept because He wished people didn’t have to experience death and for the sorrow death causes. Jesus knew better things lie ahead for those who believe in Him, yet still, He wept.

And then, He called to Lazarus and raised him from the dead.

Jesus waited to call Lazarus until he had been “asleep” for two full days. He joined in the weeping. He became deeply troubled.

Why? Why, when He could have snapped His fingers and cured Lazarus before the man even sneezed, did he allow all this suffering and sorrow and loss?

The Bible tells us Jesus Loved the family SO He allowed them to suffer, yet, He overcame their suffering and provided a deeper joy than they could have realized had they not gone through that dark period. He Loved them enough to let them suffer so that they would have a greater Love than before – and at the same time, Jesus suffered with them. He wept while they wept.

We can try to rewrite the Bible, claim that people change or things just didn’t work out, but the Bible clearly states Marriage is until death do us part.

When we break those vows it hurts not only us, as death hurt Lazarus, but those around us. We see Martha and Mary weeping, but also anonymous townsfolk. Death, whether it is the death of an individual or the death of a marriage, has rippling affects across society.

And Jesus mourns and weeps along with us for the death.

However, Jesus has power to resurrect the divorced just as He did Lazarus. He has the power to call us from the grave of divorce and bring us to a new life a greater joy and love.

You are not meant to sit in mourning in darkness forever. Will you rise when He calls?

Your Turn To Share:

When did it seem as though God was waiting to answer your prayers? Was it for a job, a child, a home, a move? Has an answer delayed shown you better results than you’d have hoped?

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God Bless…

U is for Unity vs Conformity

soldiers lined up in uniform

We were not meant to conform for the sake of conforming, but to be chosen.

Conformity – it’s what I did when I was with him.

Unity – it’s what I longed for.

Growing up, life was all about doing what was expected, doing the right thing, and we were taught to not question. I don’t blame anyone. It’s just the way it was.

I was taught to obey.

I brought that into my marriage.

And so, when big decisions were made and I was not allowed a say, I was hurt but didn’t speak up too much. When I tried, it didn’t matter.

I always lost in big things.

He decided what car we would drive.

He decided whether we would buy or build our home.

He decided what kind of home we would build.

He decided where we would build that home.

He decided what loans we would have.

He decided he would work so I could not.

It wasn’t until the end of the marriage that I began to speak up, and speak up I did, and I made mistakes in that speaking up. Maybe that’s why he left. Maybe he was looking for someone with no voice, someone to do what he wanted,

But I was learning I had value beyond his reach

and with that value came voice

and with that voice came risk

and with that risk came some mistakes.

Conformity - it’s what I did when I was with him, conforming to his wishes.

Unity - it’s what I longed for, but unity is never achieved through the control of conformity.

We are called to be better than that. We are called to be unique and special.

But you are “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people of his own, so that you may announce the praises” of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

(1 Peter 2:9)

I bring lessons of my past into the future my children will inherit; I must be extra careful to not raise my children to be conformers but to think for themselves and to act in a way that reflects the Love of the Lord.

That can be hard to do. It means watching them take falls and make decisions I disagree with, but if they are allowed to fall over little things, they will learn more than if I force them to conform to my way.

And they will know their true value, they will know they are part of, “a chosen race,” chosen not by skin color, dialect, or location, but chosen by the power of the holy Spirit, chosen for greatness.

When my life is still so out of control, the idea of loosening the hold I have on my children can be terrifying, but I let them go so one day, we can be truly unified as the chosen race.

Your Turn To Share:

When did you conform to something you shouldn’t have? How did that experience affect you?
How do you let your children take control rather than trying to make them conform to your hopes, dreams, expectations?

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God Bless…

T is for a Testimony I Never Wanted

sun beam through darkened woods.

Without our struggles, we can’t understand the call of Testimony.

I’ll never forget the first time I heard someone use the word testimony while talking to me.

I’d called Dave Ramsey‘s radio show looking for financial advice. I’m sure I must have sounded like I felt – shaky, scared, alone…I don’t think Dave quite knew what to say when I told him my husband had walked out suddenly leaving me five months pregnant with our fifth little boy. Most people didn’t know what to say, especially in the raw months immediately after, but Dave offered me the gift of taking Financial Peace University for free.

A new class began right after Kaleb was born, and he and I shlepped the 45 minutes or so each way once a week to take the night session. I’m sure people there wondered why I brought my newborn. I was breastfeeding and couldn’t leave this precious little bundle behind. I think, even more than that, in those early days, he was my lifeline, my reason for living, and I was terrified of losing him too.

On the final night of class, everyone spoke of their plans for the future. I explained my situation and how desperately I wanted to provide for my children. When I finished speaking one of the men who ran the class just hung his head low and shook it slowly,

“You’ll have an amazing testimony one day,” he said to me.

And I thought felt all the air I had been holding in for months leave in a rush,

“Really? Really?? Really???

The words played in my head repeatedly.

I didn’t want an amazing testimony!

I wanted my husband back. I wanted the love I we shared. I wanted the friendship and laughter we enjoyed right up until a few days before he announced he was leaving. I wanted the hand holding as we fell asleep. I wanted the inside jokes. I wanted the peace and security from resting my head on his chest. I wanted my boys to grow up with two parents sharing the burdens and the benefits.

I wanted so much.

But I did not want a testimony.

I was willing to put in hard work to make our relationship work. I was willing to move past his affairs, to beg forgiveness for the wrongs I had done, to love, honor, and cherish even through the pain.

But God had other plans.

God wanted me to have a testimony.

And I have finally accepted that testimony.

I have worked harder than I ever thought possible to make our relationship work – God’s and mine. I have asked Him to forgive my wrongdoings and have accepted His forgiveness though I am not worthy of it. I have found faith, hope, and Love in spite of myself.

And now I have a testimony.   

That testimony does not prevent me from feeling anger and pain and fear and doubt. I wish my husband had chosen differently, but I now have the power to overcome such negativity and wouldn’t trade a relationship with my ex for what I’ve discovered since his leaving. God has used my testimony to reach others in similar situations; I cannot think of anything I’d rather do.

And to Mike, that Dave Ramsey leader, thank you for speaking the word testimony to me. I am glad God put you there to plant that thought in my heart.

Your Turn to Share:

Have you had a testimony you didn’t want?
How have you fulfilled that testimony?
What works could God be performing through your struggles?

God Bless…

S is for Searching for a Savior

Wedding rings stackedMaybe we shouldn’t have gotten married. I honestly don’t know anymore. It’s a moot point now anyway, and I’m done going over and over the details trying to figure out what went wrong, who went wrong, whether the marriage was valid or not.

It’s before the annulment tribunal, still in the final stages. I’ll leave it for them to decide and, for the rest of my life, I’ll wait for God’s final judgment. Lord have mercy on us!

20 years ago, I thought I loved my husband. I thought I was ready to get married. I thought a lot of things, but I also now look back and wonder something else.

Was I really searching for a Savior?

My childhood hit some bumps in the road, and my self-esteem certainly took more than its share of beatings. I was awkward and shy and ugly and vulnerable, and I was looking for someone to fill those gaps.

Maybe that’s what attracted me to my husband. He flattered me and seemed nice enough, but too often I looked away when things bothered me. I failed to question things he did and said and also failed to question things he didn’t do or say. Worse, I made excuses for things I did to please him but didn’t agree with.

In my desire to find someone, anyone, I was dishonest with myself and with my husband. I am over simplifying things here a bit. I do believe I really loved him.

But I also wonder if I was looking for someone to save me from the life I’d had.

Searching for a savior 20 years later:

Now, five years have passed since my husband left suddenly, and I view things very differently. I’ve begun to think about dating again (some day), but I know I have to be very careful to not make the same mistakes I did before; one of my biggest mistakes would be to fall for a man who does not have my values and my priorities, to give in to the exhaustion, loneliness, and fear and compromise.

In some ways, many of us are more susceptible to compromise after having gone through the trauma of being abandoned suddenly and divorce, but in other ways, we can be made stronger for surviving. We now know who we are and our own value, a value that does not come from anything we do, but a value that comes from our true Savior.

I am still making mistakes, but if I keep my eye on the Lord, I will stand on my own with Him. I won’t be tempted to look for another Savior – and what a gift that will be for anyone I may some day get involved with, no one wants that responsibility.

We have a Savior waiting for us to fly to Him. Share with Him your triumphs and your struggles. Let Him fulfill His purpose in your heart. Let Him save you!

Share your Story:

Have you ever put too much pressure on someone? Hoped someone would live up to your expectations and were surprised that they didn’t”

God Bless…

He is Risen Easter 2014

The Lord is Risen!Jesus conquered death and rebuilt the church in three days.

Give Him the ashes of your life and patiently, prayerfully, positively let Him show how He will resurrect you too.

Thank you, my Lord Jesus Christ. Thank you. 

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God Bless You this Easter Sunday.