Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Unexpected Anniversary Lesson

This week sweet hubby and I celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary. The days leading up to the date were filled with the demands and rhythms of life and we held off any celebrations for a few days. 

One of those life scenarios dealt with our vehicle. Since my knowledge of my car consists only of driving and putting gas in, sweet hubby has always urged me to pay attention if something is not right and let him know. I noticed a different sound while driving and mentioned it to him. Together we went to the car and determined the sound came from the fan of the air conditioner control knob. 

Anniversary day came and as he went to work, I was to take the vehicle to the repair shop and tell them what was wrong. The technician came to the car and listened. "The blower fan is stopped up" was the quick diagnosis. A series of questions were asked such as did I park under trees, were pine trees near the car etc. Usually leaves can fall and get trapped in this area and hinder the fan from  blowing correctly.  Answering no to all the questions, they took the car back to take a look. 

After examining the car, it was determined a mouse has found it's way into the blower and made a completely round nest! We had never seen a mouse around the car or house, never heard it or found other evidence of it. The mouse simply snuck in and made a nest which blocked the fan from moving freely. The repair cost ended up being much more than we would have spent on any anniversary gift, but since air conditioning through a Florida summer is a priority, we made the payment.

Through 30 years of marriage, we've walked through and experienced the truth of those vows - for better for worse, in sickness and health, for richer or poorer. We've learned commitment, sacrifice, extending grace and forgiveness. Through daily life, just like that little mouse built, traps can come and hinder the flow of a good marriage. Breezing through the days we may hardly notice a patch of stuffing being built up bit by bit. Attitudes, words, selfish desires, not considering the other spouse and a dozen other little things can be used to build a nest bit by bit that hinders the flow of love. By the time the noise in my car began, the nest was fully formed. In our marriages, if we allow these little hindrances to build, they can cause 'noise' in our marriage. 

The cost for cleaning out the nest in my car was steep and in the future, I will be alert for any mice activity. The fix for cleaning out a nest in a marriage would be much more steep. Daily diligence, attention and keeping the lines of love and communication open will go a long way to distract any nest builders.

Happy 30th to us. I will always remember the life lesson and gift!

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Friday, June 14, 2019

Hey Dad, I Think I Got it Now!

With Father's Day coming up quickly, our thoughts naturally turn to our fathers, it is extra special if you are a girl who have or had a dad that loved and supported her. 

My father is no longer with us, but he left a healthy dose of memories - along with instructions on how to use them! As a girl growing up, my father often spoke of his father who passed away before I was born. My father was greatly influenced by his father and his passing deeply affected him and he freely shared from his grief. He shared memories from his childhood and the love that was passed between them which was very special. 

My favorite memory of my father was when we were on vacation at the beach. The day was cloudless as Dad and I went into the ocean to swim and were standing with the waves gently washing over us. We were truly making memories and he wanted to make sure this one was planted deep into my heart. He spoke of his father and the pain he felt when he passed away. He shared how memories of his dad right after his death would bring tears to his eyes and pain to his heart. After time passed, those same memories began to be less painful and more meaningful. That day he shared with me at the beach, he was looking back with a joy that the memories brought to his heart. He told me when he passed away, the process of pain and grief I would feel would eventually change to something so special that days like we were experiencing would become a cherished part of my heart. Truly he was right. As I think back to that day, it no longer hurts, but brings joy to my heart.

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As much as I loved my father, he lived a life that brought much pain to our family. Addiction took away the father I knew as a young girl. The choices he made in life came with a great cost. A business, friends, respect and his family were some of the devastating losses in his life. When moments of clarity came through for him, he still emphasized his love for me. I understood enough to know that even in the midst of this battle, I was always loved by my father. His lifestyle ended up costing him his life and now 30 years later, his advice that day on the ocean has come true. He impacted my life greatly because he wanted the best for me and no matter the circumstances, I knew he loved me. 

My dad died tragically 8 days before my wedding. I vividly remember on the way to our honeymoon we had to drive through the beach town my family vacationed in. Grief was too intense to even look out the window. During the drive, my eyes were on the floor along with those memories that brought tears. During that time, life was lived day by day, passing though stages of grief relying on the grace of God to make it through. Now, 30 years later, the picture of grace that God gave is abundantly clear. Looking back, God brought triumph out of tragedy. The world we live in will bring heartache, trials, grief and pain. Only God can comfort our hearts and walk us through the new normals of life. 

The man that married me 30 years ago this month is a father to our 3 sons.  And what a father he is! He daily sacrifices for our good, gives of himself for the betterment of others. He loves, encourages and pours into our sons and his greatest desire is to leave a legacy of godliness, integrity and wisdom to them. What a redeeming and gracious God we serve!  We recently spent some time at that same beach, where just as Dad said, my memories are not painful, but bring peace to my heart and a spirit of gratitude.

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A true father's love cannot be stopped. It flows through hard times, crisis, grief and circumstances. Our Heavenly Father loves us with a love that is unconditional and will always be near us. Memories can  bring blessing and joy to hearts that remember loss and the theme of redeeming love will always ring in our hearts as we seek and trust God.

This Father's Day, may we remember our earthy fathers and their love as we also rejoice in the love of our Heavenly Father. His love supersedes all human love and desires great things for us. 

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Your Love Will Turn the Key

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"If you give a little more then you're asking for your love will turn the key." If you grew up in the 70s era, you can probably sing the words right along with the Bee Gees. On my morning runs, I fill my heart with doses of preaching or inspirational encouragement. Usually on the last mile, I let Pandora music bring me home. 

Winding down from a run, I sang along with this song. Just days from coming home for a romantic mini vacation, the song flowed from the heart and brought a smile to my face as I realized the truth of the words. 

Sweet hubby and I will celebrate 30 years of marriage next month. Along with that wonderful milestone we are looking at the empty nest as the youngest of our sons is graduating with college plans in the fall. The transition to the empty nest is upon us as we spend most evenings alone. The years of ball games, travel ball tournaments, jam packed schedules have faded away. The kids are busy with school and work but no longer 'need' us as they did in the past. We're learning to embrace the quietness and focus on things being just the two of us. 

One of those transitions involves vacations. We recently decided to go to the beach for a few days, just the two of us. A perfect condo was found with a fantastic view. Hours were spent sitting on the balcony reading, eating and simply gazing at the ocean. Early mornings were the best. I've always loved sunrise at the beach and would plan to get up and out to catch the sunrise. This year, while the coffee was brewing, I opened the curtains and the stillness and expectation of a new day greeted me. Days were spent sitting together on the beach, not having to be alert to where the kids were. Leisurely walks were taken without worry of what the kids were doing. Family vacations were wonderful and our hearts cherished memories of our boys playing in the sand, swimming, riding waves. But this new season is pretty good too!

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Image may contain: one or more people, ocean, sky, water and outdoor

Image may contain: ocean, sky, cloud, outdoor, water and nature

Concentrating on the upcoming empty nest and time together directs our focus more to each other. In the craziness of raising children family focus is often broad. There is so much to do, places to be and things to keep on top of. Through the slower pace of life, it becomes easier to consider each other. Truly that is a great key to a good marriage, learning or re-learning what is important to the other one, being ready to love, serve and extend kindness to. "If you give a little more than you're asking for, your love will turn the key." The key to each other's hearts is a precious and valuable thing. What a beautiful gift marriage can be. As such a gift from God, it needs to be nurtured and tended to. The seasons of life change, children join the family, add their own source of joy and blessing, than as God intended, leave the nest to become independent adults. Then, there remains 2- with the vow in place 'til death do us part'. When we're in it for the long haul, let's make the most of it!

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Monday, April 22, 2019

The Cure for Easter Letdown - He's Still Alive

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Easter is one of my favorite holidays.  The joy begins with the truth of Easter and the resurrection of Jesus and what it means for us today. It is also a weekend full of celebrating with church and family. 

There is much preparation and planning that goes into Easter weekend for my family. Those weeks ahead help us prepare for a whirlwind of activity the weekend brings. There is a children's Easter activity we take part in each year at our church as well as being involved in Easter Sunrise Service. Following church service, we gather with our family for a special lunch and time of fellowship. This weekend contains back to back events that keep us busy and enjoying each event. I love and thrive on being an active part with such special times. 

But then, Monday comes and it's all over. Nothing new on the horizon to plan out, no details to be constantly going through my mind, no food to prepare, no house to clean, just some extra time to be still.  

While preparing for the back to normal week, I saw a post on social media:

"No one says “Monday’s coming!” After a day of celebrating our risen Lord, the work week returns. The enemy would like nothing more than for us to get bogged down by the details of life and forget that the same Jesus we celebrated yesterday is alive to bring us joy today.
“Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy,”

Because Easter is 'over', doesn't mean that Jesus isn't still alive! Romans 8 shares such a powerful truth of the newness of a life in Christ. Through His death on the cross, sin does not have to have dominion over us anymore. He gives us a new life when we welcome Him to change our hearts. That same spirit that raised Jesus from the dead lives in us and bring new life which never ends. 
"But you are not controlled by your sinful nature. You are controlled by the Spirit if you have the Spirit of God living in you..... The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you." 

So, Easter is over, memories were made and now we should be refreshed and renewed by the truth that Jesus is alive and He lives forevermore. As we go through our daily walks and routines, we can be assured He can keep us living victoriously in good times and be strengthened to face challenging times. 

II Peter 1:3-4 By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence. 4 And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.

Friday, April 19, 2019

Good Friday, When Hope Began

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This is Easter weekend, which in our home begins with a day off from work/school and a full weekend ahead which will include church and family celebrations.

The Easter weekend begins with Good Friday. As a Christian, Good Friday is a significant day of the year because it celebrates probably the most profound weekend in the history of the world. Ever since Jesus died and was raised, Christians have proclaimed the cross and resurrection of Jesus to be the decisive turning point for all creation. 

On Good Friday we remember the day Jesus willingly suffered and died by crucifixion as the ultimate sacrifice for our sins. It is followed by Easter, the glorious celebration of the day Jesus was raised from the dead, heralding his victory over sin and death and pointing ahead to a future resurrection for all who are united to him by faith. 

Beginning with Good Friday and why it is called 'good', lies the basis of our faith. Our sinful nature, God's redeeming plan, the Resurrection of our Lord is the foundation of our faith.  Romans 8 explains it so well...

"So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. 2 And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death. 3 The law of Moses was unable to save us because of the weakness of our sinful nature. So God did what the law could not do. He sent his own Son in a body like the bodies we sinners have. And in that body God declared an end to sin’s control over us by giving his Son as a sacrifice for our sins. 4 He did this so that the just requirement of the law would be fully satisfied for us, who no longer follow our sinful nature but instead follow the Spirit." 

With the realization that we are all sinners, which is the reason Jesus came to earth to die. Through that death, sin was defeated, forgiveness and a bridge to a Holy God was made. "Jesus paid it all, all to Him I owe. Sin had left a crimson stain, He washed it white as snow." 

As Good Friday begins the weekend of great celebration and joy, may we ponder and reflect with thanksgiving the death on the cross that began our life in Christ. May your Easter weekend be one blessed with the spiritual blessings of God and your hearts and homes be filled with His presence.