N is for No, Something God Often Says

Jesus Dies on the Cross - Twelfth Station

God often says No even letting the unthinkable happen.

God has the power to grant us any wish we desire, but sometimes His answer is just No.

Sometimes, we can excuse loss by thinking that someone else needed whatever we were denied more than we did.

No, your team will not win the basketball game.
No, you will not get into that college.
No, you will not receive that scholarship.
No, you will not get that job.

Sometimes we receive a no as a result of sin. In those instances, the best we can do is to repent, beg the Lord for forgiveness, and work to avoid future temptations. It does not make what was done to us right, but to sit around and not examine our own thoughts, words, and actions helps no one.

No, you will not avoid foreclosure.
No, your marriage will not be resurrected.

Other times, there seems to be no reason for the No. How can sin or the idea of someone else needing something more justify some of the No’s we receive?

No, your baby will not be saved.
No, your child will not be found.

We are hardly the first to receive the No answer. Our trials are not unique but rather, our most painful No’s are the same No’s all people have experienced for thousands of years. In the Bible, we find many instances of God saying no to His followers.

God said no when Moses hoped to make it to the Promised Land.
God said no when King David’s son died.
God even said no to Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane - twice.

Often times we do not know the reason behind the No’s we receive. This doesn’t mean there isn’t a purpose to them. It doesn’t mean we can’t mourn for them, but it also doesn’t mean we have to be consumed by them.

When presented by Life’s no’s, we are also presented with choices. We may choose to stamp our feet and act like a  petulant child, or we can use our experiences to help others and to treasure all the blessings God says Yes to.

With every no, there is a yes to something else. That yes, may be caked in countless layers of sorrow and pain, but the yes is there if we simultaneously wait patiently and search actively.

Never give up.

How have the No’s in your life affected you? Can you find any Yes’s to those No’s?

God Bless…

M is for Marriage – A Meaningless Word

Wedding rings stackedMy first full-time teaching position was at a Catholic school outside of Charlotte, NC where I taught fifth grade language arts among other things. One of the basic skills I taught was strengthening writing through the use of strong vocabulary.

I abhorred overused, meaningless words like nice and good and bad, so my students brainstormed more precise language. Over the year, we devised a list of words we couldn’t use in class, “Blah Words,” like those above. The kids made suggestions and, as their understanding of vocabulary grew, a number of Blah Words were added.

Marriage was NOT a Blah Word.

Marriage was meant to be one man and one woman united by God as one flesh until death do them part so that they could help one another and ultimately bring children into the world.

But over time, the word marriage changed drastically, and many are now confused about who should be married and what marriage really means.

Marriage, as it is presented by God in the Bible, is strong and unchanging. Multiple spouses was not an option. Divorce was not an option. Gay marriage was not an option.

Sort of.

Biblical men had multiple wives partly because women were unable to earn a living or properly care for all the needs of the children in those days (and I’d argue, still today!) Because of this, men married more than one woman. Additionally, Moses allowed divorce only because of the, “hardness of your hearts” (Matthew 19 speaks of this and more on marriage and divorce). We never see gay marriage in the Bible.

The Trouble Defining Marriage

The trouble defining marriage began in Biblical times. Because of our human flaws and struggles on this harsh earth, such as the death of a father or the leaving of a husband, marriage was twisted from God’s original design to allow multiple spouses.

And with that twist, the word marriage lost meaning.

And then as time continued, wee’ve seen more and more men and women are walking out on their families in pursuit of their own happiness without real regard for those left behind. Some without a trace. Others fool themselves into thinking they are fulfilling their obligations by satisfying the court system.

And the word marriage lost its permanence.

We have shows like Sister Wives showing multiple partners living together under one roof, raising children, dividing chores, and we think this is okay. And, although they said it would never happen, we even watched a woman in Great Britain marry her dog.

And the word marriage became a joke.

Today, we have people marrying those they were never meant to marry. Gay couples not only demanding to be married, but bullying believers into providing services for their ceremonies. Catholic adoption agencies forced to close because they cannot morally place children with same sex couples.

And the word marriage became a word to be feared rather than embraced.

People didn’t forget what marriage meant. They chose to stop remembering. They chose to ignore what marriage was intended to be, what a real marriage is, the work it entails, the blessings it bestows upon children and society, and yes, even on husbands and wives.

We’ve mistakenly fallen into the trap of thinking if it makes someone feel good, then it must be good, and if it doesn’t feel good, if it doesn’t make you happy, change the definition.

And so Marriage is Now Defined As:

  • celebrated by two people … or not
  • between a man and a woman … or not
  • permanent … or not

Marriage became a Blah Word, a word so overused, we (as a society) no longer have a real definition for marriage.

And the saddest part is that, in our never-ending quest for what feels good, in our pursuit of elusive happiness, we think have created more strife, more poverty, and more broken homes than had we strengthened the word marriage and reached out to those unsure of that true definition, not through a compromising of definitions and values, but by showing them God’s Love and letting Him reveal His plan for marriage.

Today, society has created a mockery of marriage and a subsequent dependence on the government rather than on God, but one day, we will need to account for all we have said and done here.

You know what the Bible says on marriage.

How do you define marriage? Are you justifying a change to God’s definition?

 God Bless…

L is for Love of Ex-Spouse

love in black and white rose

How do I Love an ex?

Love should be less of a feeling, an emotion dictated by the whims of the heart, than an action we are called to. The Bible tells us to Love our Enemies. Matthew 5:43-48 very clearly states,

…love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you (Matt 5:44)

and

For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have? Do not tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brother only, what is unusual about that? Do not pagans do the same? So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect. (Matt 5:46-48)

This always gets me.

How do I love my enemy?

Right now, my greatest enemy is my ex-husband,

the one I counted on to protect my children,

the one on whose chest I rested my cheek thinking all was right in the world,

the one who now wishes to destroy me.

So how do I love this man, this monster?

It is not easy, but God doesn’t call us to do what’s easy. He calls us to do what is right, and what can be more right than to Love?

How to Love an Ex:

  1. Change our vocabulary. In K is for Kill I spoke of how speech can tear down another and how words often precede action. Even mentally using tear down words contradicts who this man was meant to be. He was not created to be a “monster;” however, by thinking of him as such, I may help push him toward that end.
  2. Second, stop judging. Ohhh… this is so hard! I struggle to make ends meet, to find time, and am so exhausted I can feel anger well up in me. I KNOW this is not God’s plan, but I also KNOW it is not for me to judge my ex or his girlfriend. Even more so, I know it is not for me to judge what material possessions God allows my ex or his girlfriend to have, and I am certainly not qualified to judge how the Lord treats them in the final days.
  3. Act in Love. I’m often tempted to send off that nasty text message or quip some cutting comment. Some days I just want to reach out and shake them, but that is the me controlled by my ex’s evil side (a side we all have). Fortunately, the Lord gives us power over those desires, and when we act, not through our own power but through His grace, we find an incredible ability to Love.
  4. When we fail to Love, we must not give up. I have never been sorry I didn’t send an angry text or delivered that cutting blow, but there have been plenty of times I’ve let that hatred tense my muscles, consume my mind, well up in my heart, threatening to consume my body, mind, and soul and then regretted it. When I fail to love, I have that momentary rush of adrenaline, that feeling of satisfaction from one upmanship, but, later, in a quiet moment of prayer or when facing my children, I realize what I’ve done and I shamefacedly have to turn to God for forgiveness – again.

And I am again thankful for the Lord’s Grace for me, and in that Grace He has for me, I find hope that He applies that Grace on my ex and his girlfriend as well.

And that is when I realize that I am called to Love as God would have me Love, not as I would have.

Please Share Your Thoughts:

Who do you find most difficult to Love? How do you go about loving someone you really don’t like, trust, or respect?

 God Bless…

K is for Kill

Thou shall not kill - cemetery

Death comes from more than just physical blows.

I’ve never killed anyone.

Or have I?

The fifth commandment very clearly states,

Thou shall not Kill.

It seems simple enough. As long as I don’t put a gun to someone and pull the trigger, hold a knife to the throat of another, push someone in front of a moving train, I’ve got that commandment covered, right? Piece of cake. Dust my hands off. Check that commandment off the list, and move on to the next one:  Thou shall not commit adultery

- or can I?

Sometimes we tend to oversimplify things. Yes, the commandment says, “Thou shall not kill,” but what does that really mean?

Do we think the Lord meant thou shall not kill physically in a Cain and Abel sort of way?

Did the Lord say, “Well, as long as their blood is not crying up to me from the ground, all is good?”

We know the Lord, Father of all, hears our mourning and weeping. The prayer, Hail Holy Queen, refers to God’s children as, “mourning and weeping in the valley of tears.” That mourning and weeping comes from the pain and suffering we endure on this earth, separated from the utopia God wants for us. That suffering comes from the loss of a loved one, from physical pain we endure and see in others, and from confusion and fear of the unknown, but it comes from other places too.

That suffering comes from a source that can be prevented if we give it the attention we are called to and don’t make excuses – our thoughts and words.

Words are often the precursor to physical blows in domestic violence. Verbal bullying in schools leads to assault, vengeance, and suicide. Wounds caused by words can be more damaging, harder to identify, longer lasting, and more difficult to prevent  than physical wounds.

We speak harshly to our children and our spouses. We mock the stranger in the grocery store and the friend we bump into at the bank. We are often unconscious of how often our words can harm another, but words are very powerful.

In so many instances, words cause death. Words, intentional or unintentional, can cause a chipping away at self-worth, a loss of who the target was meant to be,  the death of the person’s spirit.

When that happens there is a death. We become responsible for killing a piece of the soul of another human being, another child of God. When we kill the soul of another, we inflict pain on them that can tempt to sin by turning from God.

But anyone who is the downfall of one of these little ones who have faith in me would be better drowned in the depths of the sea with a great millstone round his neck.

Matthew 18:6

Mark and Luke have similar verses. Remember, to the Father, we are all His children. He loves even those we find most unlovable. It is very clear that when we use our words to hurt another, we will be held responsible.

The 10 Commandments tell us, “Thou shall not kill.” I know I have broken this commandment many times. Thank the Lord for His forgiveness and the strength to help me hold my tongue next time.

Thou shall not kill. It means more than a physical death. Hold yourself to a higher standard.

Have you witnessed this killing of another? How do you protect those around you from falling victim to this death? How do you protect yourself when someone tries to kill a piece of you?

God Bless…

J is for Jesus

If you’ve read my posts, you know how much I can talk,

but I have no words worthy of my choice for the Letter J.

Please take the time you would have spent reading my blog

to spend quiet time with the one who came to this corrupt world for the love of you:

JesusContinue Reading