Tuesday, July 30, 2013

What Does Marriage Mean to Today's Generation?

It was an overcast morning, but by 3:00 the sun was out and the wind a bit gusty..."should be a good day for a wedding," I thought to myself. There was quite a lot of anticipation(and a little curiosity), and some uneasiness, in the air.

My nephew was to become a husband on this day, and we were going to gain a new family member. The two had been a couple since high school, over 5 years ago. Now they were tying the knot and making the commitment to 

Love and cherish...
     for better or for worse, 
           for richer, for poorer, 
               in sickness and in health, 
from this day forward... 
                     until death do us part.

As the minister gave his brief, but unique, presentation on the two becoming one, I wondered if they (as with most dating, engaged, or newly-wed couples) REALLY comprehended what it meant to become ONE!
Genesis 2:21–24

21 So the Lord God caused a qdeep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. 22 And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made8 into a woman and brought her to the man. 23 Then the man said,
“This at last is rbone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called Woman,
because she was staken out of Man.”9
24 tTherefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.

 "The term “one flesh” means that just as our bodies are one whole entity and cannot be divided into pieces and still be a whole, so God intended it to be with the marriage relationship. There are no longer two entities (two individuals), but now there is one entity (a married couple)."

As they walked out of the church and balloons were released, I wondered if they knew that they didn't have what it takes to keep a relationship going...on thier own. 
Unless and only if they turned to the Lord daily for wisdom and strength, were they going to make this relationship last!
There will be disagreements. There will be arguments. There will be difficult times. They will need the Holy Spirit's leading during those times, to guide them and show them how to respond with love, not react to each other in anger.This somewhat traditional, but also a bit non-traditional, wedding made me think about this generation and the times we are living in. I think about my own son, who will soon be 21 and is out discovering the world and will most likely marry some day. The desire to stay pure, and seek to marry someone with high Christian moral standards is almost non-existant in society. (If they marry at all, as living together, divorce, and infidelity are still going strong.)
I think that this generation of couples, especially young couples are bent on making sure they are right and that they put their own needs above their spouse's needs. They often think that if you have disagreements, it must mean you aren't in love and they break up quickly over leaving the tube off the toothpaste or not having a clean house. Sometimes they realize that the issues they didn't think were that big of a deal were actually major problems, like financial problems, in-laws, or being unequally yoked due to differences in faith/beliefs.
I suppose some of that happens in all marriages, but the love and commitment of a lasting marriage relationship makes the couple determined to work through those issues that come up.
 At the wedding reception, the bride and groom had their first dance as husband and wife. Then the DJ had all married couples go the the dance floor. Little by little he asked those who were married less than 5 years to go sit down...then 10, 15, 20, etc. The last couple dancing ended up being my aunt and uncle...married 43 years!! I wondered what my nephew and new niece would be doing in 43 years. Would this be them?
  After the music stopped, the DJ asked my aunt and uncle, what kept them together all these years. I think they were in such shock at being the longest together that they didn't know what to say. Of course, love was their reply...but knowing my aunt and uncle all my life, I know all the elements that kept them together. First and foremost, their shared faith - in God and in each other. There were MANY difficult times in their marriage, but they were committed to support and stand by one another through thick and thin. They put each other's needs, and the needs of their family(3 children) first, while running a large family business.
I believe marriages in this generation struggle to survive. So much is against couples who don't start out with strong Christian morals. The fight to keep Biblical, traditonal marriage alive in our society, is getting tougher and tougher. We need God's healing and leading to change how this generation sees marriage!!

Continuing to count my blessings, one by one at   "Multitude on Mondays".
1,429 - The wonderful (imperfect) marriage I have with my hubby...we will be married 27 years next January!
1,430 -  Time spent with my sister and mom, as we went fishing on our lake Sunday afternoon.
1,431 -  God's protection and provision.
1,432 -  Being able to show God's love and comfort to our neighbors, who recently lost a son. Taking a meal and sympathy card to them.
1,433 -  Texting with my son, who still misses us now and then(as we miss him)!
1,434 - Spending time with family, especially with my siblings. We have not been ALL together in several years!

My sister, me, and my two brothers. The brother to the right was father of the groom.

The New York Times has a column called:
Making It Last: Profiles of couples who have been together more than 25 years.
It's full of great stories of how couples have weathered the storms of marriage and are still in love with each other! I love reading those kinds of stories!!!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Roots, Bridges, and Light

How far down do roots go? 
 What do bridges connect us to?
What benefit does light have
These were a few of the questions that swirled in my head recently.  

This past weekend we went and visited our son in southern Indiana.
We spent one day walking and observing some very unique places in nature and another day in darkness .

As we walked through a park-like setting, we noticed a tree near a stream. I thought of how determined that tree was to reach the water from it's high bank.  It looked as though the ground had washed out beneath it, but it still held up and the branches had beautiful green leaves growing on them above.
"For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit. "(Jeremiah 17:8)

I thought of how we are like this tree, planted by the water. Our water is like the Word of God...

"But his delight is to meditate on the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in season, whose leaf also shall not whither; and whatever he does shall prosper." 
(Psalm 1:3)

Oh, that we would daily desire His Living Water!
Without it, we are dry and withered.  
We have to be determined to drink from the stream every day and be refreshed. We then will bear fruit and our leaves will be many! Hallelujah!!
Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.  
(Colossians 2: 7)


The many bridges we crossed and saw also reminded me that Jesus is the only Bridge to God! 
 "For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Jesus Christ." (1 Timothy 2:5)


We also toured a cave that was down deep under the ground. It was dark and eerie, but also interesting. This also reminded me of the darkness of sin. We are intrigued by temptation and darkness, but once God's light is revealed, we see the truth.
 "But if a man walk in the night, he stumbleth, because there is no light in him."
John 11:10
 "This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.  If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth.  But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin." 1 John 1:5-7
 "The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light."  Romans 13:12

Once we have seen His light, everything is clear and it is easier to find our way...for we then can see our Maker and follow Him.
 "For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,”made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ."  2 Corinthians 4:6
 "I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God."
(Ephesians 3:17-19)

Continuing to count my blessings, one by one at   "Multitude on Mondays".
1,421 - God's beautiful creation, especially the unique sights and places.
1,422 -  A wonderful weekend with our son!
1,423 - Safety in our travels
1,424 - A good night's sleep (It even rained hard through the night and I never heard it!)
1,425 - The light that Jesus shines, so we can see all the blessings He has for us!
1,426 - Jesus - the Bridge that connects us with God!
1,427 - Watching fish pop the top of the water for bugs, on our lake, on a quiet evening, as the moon rises in the sky.
1,428 - A cool evening breeze, after having a hot, muggy week.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Even If. . .

 “When life is good, enjoy it.
But when life is hard, remember; God gives good times, and hard times and no one knows what tomorrow will bring.”
Ecclesiastes 7:14

Several weeks ago, I wrote about a book I've been studying for my ladies Bible study group called "Cultivating Contentment" (Here). The most recent chapter we've been studying is on being content, "even if" trials and hardships come into our lives. I think for most of us, that is something we struggle with, no matter how strong our faith is.

To find joy and contentment while in pain and suffering is just not a natural response. Our natural tendency is to be angry, resentful, even depressed.
But, not only does God call us to be content, but He also instructs us to consider it "pure joy" in James 1:2!  
"Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,whenever you face trials of many kinds,"

Umm, o.k., you may be asking(like I did), "Did I just read that right? Is God really saying we must be joyful in times of trials? Why in the world would He tell us to consider it pure joy? And how are we supposed to do that anyways?"
If you continue to read on to verses 3 and 4, it says:
" . . . because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."

 "Nothing any of us experiences is pointless. 
The good, the bad, the ugly, even the things we think will kill us - God uses it all, and He devises our destiny out of the stuff in our trash. He sifts it out, shows us the value, and then uses it to help others because of it."
Luci Swindoll

"I have learned that pain has purpose, which at the peak of excruciating discomfort, brings me little conslolation.
Hindsight, though, has often proven pain's value.
In fact, I have found pain to be one of life's most effective teachers. It gains one's full attention!"
Patsy Clairmont

Because we know that ultimately what's up ahead (if we love and trust God's promises), will be glorious, we CAN find joy, in spite of hardships.

We must also remember that "this too shall pass". Whether it's cancer or problems in a marriage or with our children, knowing that there will be an end to our suffering helps us cope.  

"God's purpose in our temporary discomfort is not to develop calluses that harden our hearts, but to strengthen us and inspire growth."  

In the days ahead, especially on the days when everything seems to be going wrong, bring to mind the Scriptures below. 
  • Ecclesiastes 9:9 and 11:8
  • John 16:33
  • 1 Peter 1:6-7 and 4:12-13
  • Isaiah 41:10 and 54:10
"Face each day with your eyes wide open, looking for what God has for you in each day - especially when those trials come.
Pray that you will be teachable and ready to learn the lessons God wants you to understand. 
Pray you can learn to be content". . .Even If. . .

This song came to my mind right away, as I read and studied about
contentment through difficult times. It's such a great reminder that God IS faithful, EVEN IF the healing doesn't come. . .

Continuing to count my blessings, one by one at   "Multitude on Mondays".
1,411 -  The blooming lilies in my pot on the porch.   
1,412 - A few cooler, but still sunny days.
1,413 - Knowing that even if the clouds return and life is hard, I know God is still faithful and standing(2 Timothy 4:17) beside me through it all.
1,414 - The Lord providing what I needed to fill my bosses shoes, while she is gone on vacation!
1,415 - Thankful for a responsible, hard working husband!
1,416 - The heat and humidity is back, and I am SO thankful for air conditioning!
1,419 - Also, thankful to be living on the lake, where I can cool off on one of my floatation mattresses on the water!
1,418 - Watching a para-sailer on our lake, as I float on the water.

1,419 - Being reminded of the small joys God brings into life...like para-sailing! (Such a creative recreational activity)
1,420 - My hubby joining me in the water, when he got home from work. Spending time just floating and talking.