A girl who dreams of the man that will sweep her off of her feet, complete her emotionally, and fulfill her every dream. A boy who searches for the woman that will make him feel whole and cared for, who will fulfill his every desire, and complete his vision of happiness and contentment. They meet. They fall in love. They plan their future, marry, and ride off into the sunset. They pay no mind to the short comings of the other, they see only the beauty, and strength in one another, side by side they set out to conquer the world…..
Then they wake up. They realize that 5 years into marriage, they are no closer to the goal of the perfect life then they were when they met, in fact they are further from it, their dreams and love for one another have been dimmed by life, bills, kids, dogs, laundry, arguments and that clump of toothpaste that lies forever in the sink; stranded with no one to care enough to just wipe it off and send it down the drain.
You see what these two perfectly imperfect human beings DO realize is their need for completion, their need for wholeness, for fulfillment. What they don’t realize, until years after the honeymoon, is that the person they married is just as incomplete as they are and that there’s no way for one person to fulfill every need to complete the other. They realize that they are each half a person on their own, but joined together their two halves don’t make a whole.
Now before the logical type A’s jump all over me, I want to clarify that I am not implying this theory in a literal mathematical sense; yes, I know that 1/2 plus 1/2 equals 1 whole numerically, you can stop worrying about the future of my poor homeschooled kids… what I am saying is, as it pertains to relationships, you cannot join together two imperfect, incomplete people and expect to make a whole person, in my opinion it doesn’t work that way. I believe when men and women have the expectation that “if they could just marry that right person then they will be complete and lacking nothing”, they are setting themselves and their marriage up for failure, and here’s why…
You can’t force pieces that don’t fit
I marveled at the determination of one of my sons when he was 3 as he would sit down to put a puzzle together. He would take a puzzle piece that looked as if it fit into a specific spot; same color, almost exact shape, but because it wasn’t the correct piece, it would just refuse to interlock with the other pieces in that area. He would grunt and push, and press, and growl, and rip the piece to almost shreds until finally he had forced the piece into the incorrect spot. His desire to fill the space superseded the will to find the right solution to the puzzle.
We often times look to our spouse to fulfill empty spaces in our hearts and lives, we so long for fulfillment that we try to force the imperfections and short comings out of the other person and begin to force our spouse to fit into and fill that space in our heart to make us feel complete and whole, we begin to play the “If/Then game”, it looks something like this; “If you would just lose weight, then I would be affectionate”, “If you would take me on more dates, then I’d feel loved”, “If you kept the house picked up, then I’d feel at home here”, “If you help me with the kids more, then I would respect you”, “If you ironed my shirts, then I might have a better attitude about you behind your back”, “If you listened to me more then I wouldn’t feel so alone”, “If you didn’t nag so much, then I would feel more loved”.
Maybe you’ve said something along these lines in your marriage, or have heard it said in a friend’s marriage, either way the fact is that our needs for wholeness are unique to each of us individually and it is an impossible burden for another person to take on the responsibility of fulfilling something in us that they are incapable of fulfilling.
It is impossible for another imperfect human being to fill a God shaped space in our heart…
Iron Sharpens Iron
“Iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” – Proverbs 27:17
The purpose of relationships are to reflect our strengths and weaknesses in a way that encourages us to become all that God intends for us, and to support us on our journey. The intent of relationships has never been to fulfill the spaces in our hearts, but to support us as we become. God places the people in our lives that specifically connect with us and possess qualities that will sharpen our strengths and support us as God is made perfect in our weakness.
It is often our instinct to see the imperfections of another and want to change them, to perfect them, because we think we see the solutions to their problems. On the contrary when we focus so much on the short comings of our spouse we forget to examine our own hearts and realize, though our problems may look different, we still have just as much to work on as the other person does. When we begin to have a humble understanding of our own need for salvation and growth, we can have more grace and patience with others especially our spouse on their journey of growth. They may grow A LOT slower than we would hope for, but to understand that it’s NOT YOUR JOB to fix them, nor do you have the capacity to do the job only God can do, you will begin to find peace in releasing the bitterness towards them for their imperfections and really begin to dig deep into your own journey.
Your purpose to your spouse is to sharpen them, to reflect grace, humility, and patience to them so they can see for themselves what needs to be worked on. Your spouses purpose is to do the same for you, NOT to fulfill your every need and desire, but to sharpen you by reflecting that grace that’s needed on the journey.
The Source of Wholeness
“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of Lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” – James 1:17
He possesses every single thing that you could ever possibly need. He has the plan, the strategy, the solutions, the victory. He has authored your life, and He WILL finish the good work according to His purpose (Philippians 1:6). You can let go of all of those expectations that leave you disappointed and lonely, the expectations that have tricked you and left you feeling unloved, unattractive, insecure, angry, bitter, and on the verge of divorce or insanity. You can leave those in the dust and have peace knowing it’s not your burden to bear your spouse’s imperfections, it’s God’s job to work with him/her.
In addition to that and most importantly, stop burdening your spouse with the responsibility of “completing” you, eventually that castle will fall and all of the hope and stability you’ve placed in them, and rely on them for, WILL crash down, because they are human, and you will be left standing alone.
Fix your eyes and heart on your own journey, draw close to the only One that can truly fill all of those spaces, heal your hurts, and complete you, He is a solid rock on which your foundation is secure and you’ll NEVER be let down, NEVER. The world may crumble around you, your spouse will show their uglies and society’s ideals will cast you out and give you death by comparison, but God will be constant, He is the one gamble you can afford to take.
Listen; relax!! Enjoy your journey together; no pressure, no lofty expectation of one another, just freedom to become all that you’re meant to become. Have fun with your spouse; laugh, play, lighten up and LIVE!!! Equally importantly; start your personal journey, work on you, and appreciate the process because when you can each individually become a whole person in Christ; lacking nothing, you will begin to see unity and fullness in your marriage, then you will watch the greatness unfold and true purpose working in and through the two of you!
Blessings on your journey to becoming whole, by the power of the Spirit!
I have a past. We all do. I’m far from perfect and my past is full of good choices and bad choices. For the longest time I would stew on all of the ways I could have done better, things I should have done or shouldn’t have said. I lived with so much guilt and pressure in my day to day because I couldn’t let go of anything, and as a direct result of that I struggled with anxiety, depression and anger.
Isaiah 43:18 – “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. 19 See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness, and streams in the wasteland.”
God began to make streams in the wastelands of my past. I had to understand that, much like a car, I had a rearview mirror in my life, I could look into it anytime I wanted and for some things, such as a learning aid, it is beneficial to look into that mirror but to dwell on it, only meant that I couldn’t move forward with the rest of my life.
The Benefits of a Rearview
The Reality of the Rearview
You Have Right Now
“Yesterday is history, Tomorrow is a mystery, Today is a gift, that’s why it’s called the “present” so unwrap it and enjoy it.”
This is easier said than done for some of us, and I know this first hand since I happen to be a STRONG futuristic thinker/planner with a “let’s get it done quick!” undertone and a side of “success is determined by your level of preparedness!” on a platter. I moved so quick, and planned so far ahead that as I was doing one thing, I’d be thinking of the next five things that were going to happen after it was over. I spent my free time scrapbooking, not because I love to scrapbook so much as I wanted to take the time to look at the pictures, and enjoy the memory of being in the moment, since I wasn’t in the moment at the time. It was quite sad really, I realized that was living my life in pictures and not in real time. I knew that I was wired this way for a reason, but I felt God calling me to get some balance in my life and learn to use these gifts to be a blessing to myself, others and for the Kingdom.
One of the most intensely painful but most cherished lessons God has taught me is to slow down, s l o w d o w n, s l-l-o-o-o-o-o-w-w-w down, breathe in each moment, and really be alive. I know you’re thinking, why would that be painful? but understand that I was used to doing everything at the speed of light, buzzing around from one task to another, getting every little thing checked off my list. I spent a lot of time being impatient, flustered and nervous. In addition to that I spent a lot of time beating myself up for past words, actions, choices, behaviors and so on because I so badly wanted to have everything running smoothly and perfectly. So in all honesty, to force myself to just slow down and appreciate each moment was really tough for me.
So it began that each day I would get this nagging feeling to just move slower, talk slower, react slower. Even when I would fold laundry, I would feel that pressing feeling to slow each fold down, take note of the shirt I was folding, which child it belonged to, noting how big they’ve grown, the memory of the ice cream stain that was on it, etc. In the mornings when I would sit outside on the bench reading my Bible, I would take the time to read and re-read a verse over and over again, I would write down my surroundings; the colors, noises, activity. I remember one morning about 2 months into this process, a hummingbird flew up to the porch where I was sitting, he was looking in the hanging flower baskets for some breakfast I assume, anyway I put my hands in my lap and sat very still, watching him, and he got so close to me that at one point I closed my eyes and I could feel the wind from his wings blowing lightly on my face. It was so precious that it brought tears to my eyes, and it was then that I truly understood all that I was missing in my day to day by rushing through everything. This may sound silly but I learned to really listen to what my kids were saying to me, I’d kneel down and look them in the eye, and I would just be amazed at how much I loved each of them.
The biggest lesson I learned from the “slow season” was that I didn’t have to wrestle over my past, it didn’t define my today or my tomorrow, Jesus had already covered all of it, forgiven it all, and separated it from my life. So I let it go, found my identity in who God said I am and decided to live each day deeper and with more purpose, to truly be ALIVE!
Habakkuk 2:4b (MSG) “But the person in right standing before God, through loyal and steady believing, is fully alive, really alive.”
This applies to not just your personal life, but your marriage, parenting, friendships, and family relationships as well. Quit living in, and bringing up the past, put it behind you and keep moving forward.
If you struggle with where you are because you haven’t given up your past, I understand, I’ve been there in my own unique way. God has better for you, you have so much more life to live than the emptiness that your past can offer. You cannot expect to effectively move forward in your journey if you’re living in the rearview mirror!
Battlefield of the Mind – Joyce Meyer
Victory Over the Darkness – Neil T. Anderson
Your Best Life Now – Joel Osteen
Eight Ways to Keep the Devil Under Your Feet – Joyce Meyer
Overcoming Hurts and Anger – Carlson
I heard a story recently on the radio about a guy in California, who went to a Home Depot, headed down the tool isle, grabbed a couple different kinds of saws and began to saw both of his arms off. As soon as he got all the way down to the bone, he passed out and was rushed to the hospital in critical condition.
Later that very same day, there was a commercial I happen to catch on TV while I was running at the gym, about a show called “Preacher’s Daughters”. After seeing several plugs for it, I gathered that it was a show that follows these Pastors and their families to air the rebellion, disobedience and strife that’s stirred up in their lives. I couldn’t help but wonder why in the world someone who’s suppose to be an example of the love and life of God would deliberately expose and exalt the disaster happening in their lives and the lives of their children to make some money and have a little fame.
It’s sad but true to say that these are just a couple of examples of the frequent experiences I have with things that disturb me in our society today, and when I see and hear these kinds of stories and others like them, my first reaction a lot of the time is to think “What in the world is wrong with people?!” I think it’s safe to say that we all jump immediately to blaming something or somebody for many of these kinds of indecencies; parents, music, movies, bullies, cultures, religions, government, spouses, teachers, etc.
Choose Your Battles
I’m a fighter by nature. My great-grandmother was 100% Irish and from the stories I’ve heard, she had a fierce temper and presence about her that made even the strongest man hide. So naturally, I could find a reason to scrap with anybody over anything, anywhere, anytime, and in my former years I truly did. I fought my parents, my friends, my brother, the law, even my teachers, in fact my mother enrolled me in Catholic school half way through Kindergarten because my teacher and I were always at odds, and I couldn’t advance educationally because of the constant strife between her and I, this was in Kindergarten!!! You can imagine the rest of teen years…
As a young mother, I took this approach and attitude with my kids and my husband, and as a young adult in general I took this approach with the issues of the world that got my attention. I went on and fought every battle, and was determined to win. I had something to say about every situation that arose. I spent my life exhausted, bitter and depleted, never having energy to laugh, play, grow or LIVE!
Through my walk with Christ, He had to teach me to choose my battles. He had to show me that by constantly putting up a fight, I wasn’t going to change every situation, I wasn’t going to change people and I alone wasn’t going to change the world, and that not every battle was worth the effort.
While there were issues I was called to stand against, and truth that I was called to stand for, there were many things in life that I was going to have to let go of, like going 20 miles out of my way to grocery shop because I’d boycotted a store due to the actions of the CEO…. (I mean seriously, if I’d boycotted every person, product, or establishment that was imperfect in some way I’d be barred to my house for life!!) I needed to rid myself of hateful attitudes towards all the crazy people aired on the 10 o’clock news, I needed to stop carrying on and on about who had the nerve to put the toilet paper roll on with the paper coming from underneath instead of over the top, and investigating every clump of toothpaste that was left in the sink! And oh how I needed to stop lecturing everyone and their mother about the effects of this food, or that product, or this lifestyle and that parenting style, and realize that just because it was something that God was teaching me, it didn’t mean it was for everyone… On and on it could go, if we chose to fight every battle with every opinion on every topic that we have. Good grief, I can’t tell you how much life and energy I got back after I came to terms with the fact that I was wasting a lot of time addressing things that I was not called to address.
A Swing and a Miss
As I said before, I used to be so exhausted all of the time. I would fall into bed at night just fatigue, and frustrated with many of the actions of my day. Even after I learned to choose my battles and work hard to fight only those that were really important to my calling in life, I was just always discouraged and frustrated with it all. I would spend my days, arguing with my kids, crying over spilled milk, shaking my fist at God, and being at odds with family members, friends and even random customer service representatives. I would cry out to God and prayerfully ask Him to help me with my anger and constant frustration with the seemingly endless battles of the world, and most of the time it would come out more like “Oh God, just kill me already!”
Then one weekend I attended a “Bridging the Gap” women’s retreat up in Alexandria, MN. I met a prophetic minister through a friend of mine, and she began to speak into my life in a powerful way. In the midst of speaking to me she identified that I was a fighter, and that I spent my life exhausted because I was always ‘swinging and missing’. As she spoke, God illuminated the fact, that the reason I was always so exhausted and never winning over these hurdles in my life was because I was swinging at the decoys, and missing the target. I imagined myself in a boxing ring with gloves and mouth guard, hopping around swinging like crazy at thin air, wearing myself out, while my opponent just sat on the other side of the ring laughing at me. Eventually I would get so tired that I’d “KO” myself! Like a light switch I realized that I needed to stop swinging and start learning to do a one punch knock out on the situation.
I had to identify what I was swinging at. A certain demographic or movement of people, an establishment or corporation, someone’s lifestyle, a faulty choice that was made, or an act of offense that was performed…. none of these things could account for the real issue, these were all symptoms of the real issue, the issue of the heart and the battle for the soul. Swinging at any of these will leave you tired, unfulfilled, hateful and bitter, which changes nothing.
Know Your Enemy
Ephesians 6:12 – “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”
What then is my target, who is my enemy? Is it God when the tsunami rushes in and sweeps away thousands? Is it my husband or kids when I feel invisible and unappreciated? Is it the reality TV that airs a false perception of what’s normal and exalts evil as good? What about the music that drives the teenager into a dark place or internet sites that produce the pornography that separates a husband from his wife? Is it the bar that serves the alcohol to the guy that drives home drunk and kills an innocent person? Is it the companies that manufacture the gun that ends up in the hand of a deranged killer? Or perhaps is it the government when a father loses his job and is unable to support his family?
How would we respond to these situations in life then if we couldn’t point our finger at someone or something, could we find peace amidst it all?
Yes, I whole heartedly believe that you should stand up for those things you believe in, in a constructive and prudent way; Pray, vote, fund ministry and outreach to parts of the world in need, volunteer for a cause, minister to hearts in need, share LIFE with those around you. Discipline your children and safeguard them from things that are detrimental to their spiritual and physical health; Keep them from watching smut TV, listening to garbage music and reading crap magazines. After all that’s why you are their parent, to lead them, protect them, and bring them up in a way so they are well equipped and ready to be leaders!
But listen folks, our enemy is not with flesh and blood, our enemy is NOT other people! Our fight is with the dark spiritual forces of this world that are battling for our very souls. There is an assignment on your life whether you believe it or not. Our weapons to fight the enemy of darkness is not of physical nature, it is not to hurl insults or curses against your neighbor, or to wish ill, harm or death upon those who do us wrong. Open your eyes, and your heart, don’t be numb with hate and bitterness for the things you cannot control, but be filled with LIFE and LOVE and overflow in prayer and ministry to those around you, and LIVE each day with wild abandon, allowing God to show you your calling so you can make a real difference in this life.
“For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. 4 The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.” ~ 2 Corinthians 10:3-4
…. So before you take aim and ready yourself to begin waging war in the battles of life, big or small, public or private, be sure to “Know Your Enemy”.
There is an assignment on your life. Actually, there are two assignments on your life. One assignment is for your benefit, your growth, and for you to become all that you were intended so that those around you could benefit and the world would be changed in some way. The other assignment, is to take you out.
The Forward Assignment
Jeremiah 29:11 – “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
We are here for a purpose, we are here to rise up and grow into our calling in life, become the greatness that God has put in us and run our race of life. This assignment is to bring health, hope, prosperity, joy, peace, reconciliation with God, power, strength, and the like. It is not just for our benefit though, it is so that out of our own abundance, we may pour into those around us and make a difference in the world. To pass a legacy of purpose to our children and grandchildren, and to inspire and uplift those in our sphere to take up their assigment and become and live the way they were intended to live, in abundance.
John 10:10 “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” – NIV
The Assignment of Darkness
The second assignment on your life is pretty simple really, it’s to take you and everything that you are suppose to be, out of the game. The enemy wants you gone, he wants to conceal who you really are by convincing you that you aren’t anything more than just another person here on earth, that you don’t posess any special gifts or power, and that life is easiest being lived in the average – (In fact there is a book by John Mason “An Enemy Called Average” I highly reccommend reading it). The bombs that go off in life like; death, sickness, disease, poverty, anxiety, brokenness, struggle, fear, doubt, insecurity, and detattchement are all meant to stop you, to put you out of order, to keep you from seeing and becoming who you really are.
John 10:10 – The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows). – Amplified Version
Again I say, the one and only intent of the enemy is to take you out, he is a liar, a stealer, a cheater, and the king of destruction.
What is Our Response?
Do we have a choice as to which assignment is carried out? Does it matter how we respond? Will it change the outcome for us? YES!
James 4:7-10 “So let God work his will in you. Yell a loud no to the Devil and watch him scamper. Say a quiet yes to God and he’ll be there in no time. Quit dabbling in sin. Purify your inner life. Quit playing the field…” (MSG)
I’ve highlighted the action words in this verse, to make the point that you have a will, and God does have an amazing plan for your life, however God will not force you to do anything. You have to make a choice on how you respond to life. You also have to put on your big boy/girl pants and take responsibility for the cause and effect in your life and learn to be accountable to the things you can change. Sometimes when things happen to us in life it’s because of our choices, and lifestyle. Sometimes things happen because life is life after all, but our response to these things is where true character is shown and the outcome can be changed.
The other week, I was on Netflix and I stumbled across the original Batman Movie from 1966 with Adam West. There are so many questions that arose while watching this movie like; does shark repellant spray really exist? If so does it work? Further more, how does said large shark hang from Batman’s boot in mid-air without ripping his leg off? and so on.
The scene in particular that caught my attention was when Commodore Schmidlapp was being held hostage on his own yacht by 4 extremely flamboyant villans in obnoxiously bright clothing and painted faces, and yet he was oblivious to it all, he seemingly had no idea that he was a hostage. These villans apparently did such a great job manipulating him, with top of the line room service, fake scenery and official noises of the sea that Schmidlapp truly thought he was on course, headed for his destination and things were hunky dory.
As cheesy as this movie is today, this scene revealed something so profound to me about the way in which we go about walking through life, thinking we are on course because the enemy does such a fine job of encouraging us to fill our voids with everything from intoxication to lust to running after money, and then spending all our money buying the latest and greatest crap. We’re hunting for that next thrill in life to make us forget about the questions we really have, like “Why am I here?” “What is my purpose?” and “What’s the point of life?”. Many believe they are living freely but do not realize they are being held hostage in their own life.
You see the enemy doesn’t want you to stop and evaluate your purpose or ask such questions that I listed above, he wants you to be average, status quo, “ok”, comfortable, “fine”, because if you dare ask these important questions, he knows that you’ll get an answer and when you get the answer, your eyes will be opened to an entirely different level of living, that will threaten the kingdom of darkness something fierce!
Matthew 7:7 “Ask, and what you are asking for will be given to you. Look, and what you are looking for you will find. Knock, and the door you are knocking on will be opened to you.”
You want to know the purpose and assignment of greatness on your life? just ASK.
Live Free or Die Hard
Galatians 3:13-14 “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law, by becoming the curse for us…so that we would receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.”
You were born to live free, Jesus died so you could LIVE, you are no longer a slave to the carnal, but free by the Spirit to live by the Spirit so that you can see amazing things come to pass in and through you, to leave a legacy for generations to come.
Why do you hang on so tight? What in the world are you hanging on to? Why do you defend your ways so strongly? Sometimes when I’m listening to people talk, I think, “do they even know that what they so vigorously defend is actually limiting them?!”
Take a look at your life, you are dying, we all are, as soon as we’re born, we’re dying. Why on earth do you want to “comfortably” fly under the radar and just live an average, mainstream life without really finding truth about your purpose and seeing it come to pass? What else are you planning to do with your time!?
So my question to you is this, will justice prevail in your life? Will you choose to keep going around this mountain, getting the same results? Will you ask the hard questions in life? Will you continue to lose hope when life doesn’t go your way, or continue to hang on tightly to things that will burn away in the end?
Will You Choose to Live Free or Die Hard?
*** Check out my short testimony on the “About Me” page. I briefly sum up the assignment of the enemy that followed me when I was a young girl, left me for dead spiritually and considered me a loss…. until God picked me up, showed me who I really am and sent me on a mission to raise hell against darkness. ***
Be blessed as you CHOOSE to LIVE FREE!!!
As always here is a suggested book list…
An Enemy Called Average – John Mason
A Spiritual Awakening – Tommie Zito
The Unusual Suspect – Stephen Baldwin
Victory Over the Darkness – Neil T. Anderson
Your Best Life Now – Joel Osteen
I really enjoy the movie Secretariat. If you haven’t ever seen it, I strongly reccommend it. There’s something so spectacular about a winner’s spirit, a fighter’s heart and a faith that could move mountains that just fires me up! I have a passion to see people win in life, to rise above despite of their circumstances, not shy away from the battle and become mighty, leave a legacy, and show God’s true power and strength.
Job 39:21-22 “It paws fiercely, rejoicing in its strength, and charges into the fray. 22 It laughs at fear, afraid of nothing; it does not shy away from the sword.”
Running the Race
My husband and I were training for a triathalon a couple of years ago and it happen to be my first experience with running. Since I’d never run before, I had to train my body to learn endurance and how to sustain a pace for a period of time. a few months into the process, I’d gone out for my morning run and my left knee began to give me trouble. There was a sharp, tight, pain behind it that would twinge every time my foot hit the pavement. My first instinct was to stop running and get the weight off of my foot to ease the pain, but as I slowed down to evaluate it, the pain got worse. So I regained my pace and steadied. The pain was still persisting, but if I tried to slow down, even to just walk, the pain was so bad I would limp and hop around, so I had to stay at a running pace to keep the pain manageable.
I had two choices, either I finish my course and deal with the situation after I get home, or I turn around and run straight home and be done for the day. I decided I was going to finish my course, since it hurt either way, I wasn’t going to shy away from the pain and turn around. After about 15 minutes more, I realized that somewhere along the way, the pain had left, my knee loosened up and I was running my full pace and close to done with the course. Once I realized this particular pain worked itself out if I pushed through it, it never deterred me again. It would show up now and then, but I paid no mind to it, and ran through until it subsided.
We all have a race to run. A physical, mental, emotional, and most importantly a spirtual race. We each have a course laid out, we have to train, endure, overcome and build muscle to the harshness of life. We have to be ready for battle, ready to stand firm for the finish, the fire will come and when it does you’ll be stretched, challenged and often times discouraged. Decide to run your race whatever the course is, and make your decision final no matter what adverse weather or pain may come.
Hebrews 12:1b “…and let us run with perseverance, the race marked out for us.”
Run For the Prize
1 Corinthians 9:24 “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.”
When Christ came to suffer and die for you and I, so we could live freely, all that the law required was one drop of His precious, and spotless blood to settle the debt, but instead of just the one required drop, Jesus gave it all, He bled every last drop of His blood from His body on that cross, even so that as John 19:34 says, ” Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water.“ Water ran from His wounds because that’s all that was left in Him. That was the example He left for you and I. When you consider how to run your race, whatever you do, run your race with passion, with purpose and with the prize in mind.
If you start a business, work hard at it. If you sign up for an event, train for it. If you’re married, give 110% of yourself in service to your spouse. If you’re in school, study for tests. If you want next level living and have a committment to God, run to Him with wild abandon. Whatever the race, dig deep, give it everything you got, lay everything on the line and run for the prize.
Finishing the Race
Anybody can sign up for a 5k, enroll in school, get married, read a page in the bible, say a prayer, start a job, workout for a day, go to church once a year or try anything. What separates the winners from the rest is your committment to see the thing through.
You’re going to go through tough times, school gets boring, parenting is stressful, jobs are demanding, change is frustrating and you’ll be tempted to give up and turn back, but DON’T DO IT! Stay the course, follow through, finish strong. Anybody can start something, it takes guts, strength, faith, and passion to finish it.
2 Timothy 4:7 “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”
(Justin, Evelyn -our 2nd daughter- and I posing before the Heart of the Lakes Triathalon, 2010)
Blessings as you run the race that is life!
Suggested Books to Read
Reaching Your Dreams – Tommy Barnett
The Purpose Driven Life – Rick Warren
You Can if You Think You Can – Norman Vincent Peale
Government, Churches, Schools, Health care, Media, The FDA, The workplace, Your sphere of influence… They all have opinions, they all have a direction, an expectation, a standard, a current or path that wishes to instruct you, shape you, and show you “how it’s suppose to be done”.
Certain churches might tell you, you have to do A,B,C before you can get to heaven, the school may tell you that your child talks too much or has “behavioral issues” and needs pills, the media will on one hand, tell you you’re too fat and offer you diet pills, and on the other hand convince you that Pop Tarts are considered a perfectly nutritious breakfast. Your doctor will push medications and vaccinations as a cure to your problems, your workplace may offer promotion in exchange for your integrity, peace or family life, your sphere of influence might encourage you to take out loans for things you cannot afford to keep up with people you don’t even like, and the government might try to convince you that they are a god… and we’ll leave that one alone.
Often times alot of these organizations, or individuals will use bully tactics, manipulations, lies, propaganda, sales pitches, guilt trips, threats, shame, or fear to get you to eat what they are serving. And for lack of knowledge, understanding, option or help most of us jump in the current, and swim in the direction we are told to, the path of least resistance.
Have you ever taken your shoes off, rolled your pants legs up and walked into a river with a strong current? It takes alot of energy and work to go against the flow of the water and often times you end up either getting out of the way or yielding to it’s strength and direction. There is a current in the world that is much the same, it’s moving strongly in a direction and it’s difficult to believe that there is any other way. Have you ever stopped to ask yourself why you make the decisions you make when it comes to your health, kids, education, food consumption, faith etc.? Have you ever really researched and educated yourself to find the truth about what decision is truly best for you and your family?
Let me be honest, I’m a bit rebellious by nature. Okay maybe alot rebellious, and those of you who know me well are probably having a good laugh right now. Just ask my poor mother, I’m sure she can attest of my strong-willed attitude as a little girl and my husband could give strong confirmation of my insubordinate tendancies as well. I’m not sure whether I should blame my full blooded Irish great grandmother or the incredible amount of German heritage that I have on my dad’s side of the family. Either way, as much as I work hard to correct the extremes of my personality as to build respect for authority, and submission to leadership, I have also learned why I appreciate my process of challenging the system, asking questions and finding my own answers. When I first became a young adult, and a mother I remember how dependant I was on the opinions and directions of the above listed entities, and wondering how I was ever going to fit in the box that they were tucking me into, I was empty and un-fulfilled, but then again so was everyone else so I accepted it as the way it was destined to be and jumped in. It didn’t take long before I was deep into debt, anxiety/depression, sickness, broken relationships and feeling like a failure.
Break on Through!
I was really discouraged with my life as a young adult, and frankly I was looking at those around me who’d been adults for a while and I wasn’t liking what I was seeing. I’d seen the product that the system was spitting out, and it wasn’t all that appealing. I was growing increasingly frustrated with my situation but it wasn’t until my husband and I got married and we started doing alot of reading together, that I began to see a paradigm shift in life. Each month we would read one new non-fiction book covering topics such as marriage, health, finances, parenting and education. I began to see a whole new side to the world, a side that offered hope, individuality, greatness and freedom. I would read about how to overcome my past and the pain that shaped my insecurities, how to break out of the box. I was challenged often times to question the decisions I’d made in areas where I’d just gone along with what I was told was the “normal” way to do things. I began to really look into each area and make decisions about what was best for me and my family even if that meant it wasn’t widely acceptable or flowing with the current. I began to feel much better about taking control of my life instead of letting society make all my decisions for me, but there was still a void that I couldn’t seem to fill.
A Need for The Compass
When I was pregnant with my second daughter, a business partner and friend invited us to attend his church one Friday night and we accepted. I sat and listened as the pastor told me about the love God has for me just as I was, and how He wants to have a relationship with me, a friendship, that He wasn’t interested in throwing a rule book at me, but changing me from the inside so I could become the greatness that He’s put in me. The scales began to peel back from my eyes and I felt new life spring from my spirit! I’d found the compass that I’d been missing and with that I found new purpose, new vision, new hope and excitment! Wow, even though that time was close to 10 years ago, I remember that brand new growth and excitment like it was yesterday, because I’m still growing and still excited about life! See, once I broke through and began to grow, I never stopped, as long as I continue to hunger for growth, truth and meaning I find myself being fed with knowledge, excitment and vision!
Matthew 5:6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they will be filled.”
Acts 2:28 “You have made known to me the paths of life; You will fill me with joy in your presence.”
You Have to Know You’re Free!
I’ve often heard different perspectives told of how slavery was abolished and captives were set free from their masters back years ago. What a glorious time that must have been, how happy and excited they were to be free, all of those wonderful people must have immediately packed up their things and headed out to explore their lives. The truth is though, that there were many that stayed slaves for years after slavery was abolished. Not necessarily because they chose to stay, although there were some who did, but because there were some that didn’t know they were free! They hadn’t been told that they were free, and didn’t know any better.
I look back at my life in the earlier years and realize I was in the same lack of knowledge, I had no idea the kind of freedom I had as a woman, a mother, a wife, or a child of the Most High God. I thought that what I had done in my past and what I was told to do in my present, was the end for me, there was no other way. Truth is a treasure and rewarder of those who diligently seek it. How do you know if what you are doing or how you are living, is right? If you could know the truth about life, would you want to know? If you were living a lie, would you want to know it? If there is a better version of your life waiting for you, would you want to find it? I dare you to challenge the norm, search for truth and answers and see what you come up with!
John 8:32 – “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
I will say this again, would you quit buying things you can’t afford, with money you don’t have, to impress people you don’t even like?! It’s absurd the trouble we get ourselves into, just to keep up with the standard. I am certainly not saying to live a mediocre life, I believe God wants us to flourish, no I’m saying live a high quality of life because you are blessed not because you are self-proclaimed, when you force it, it shows, everybody knows it, and it’s unattractive. When you force yourself into a lifestyle that makes you appear more important than you are, it eats away your peace and joy, it causes stress and ugliness. So what you’re left with is large amounts of debt, a bad attitude, high blood pressure, and a Porsche, really? really. When you are focused, instead, on chasing your dreams, achieving your goals, and growing into a blessed life, it will speak of it’s own quality, you will be at peace, you will be a giver, and you won’t be afraid to share every piece of your abundance with those around you because you own it, it doesn’t own you.
What would you say if someone asked you what your gifts in life are? Would you say; Service, Care giving, Praying, Comforting, Healing, Communicating, Educating, Counseling? Perhaps something creative like music, decorating, cooking, sewing, crafting, building etc. or maybe you have a heart for children, young adults, inner city kids, financially supporting causes like widows, orphans, the homeless or natural disasters?
If you do know what your gifts and talents are, do you use them to serve yourself or to serve others? Chances are if you get that feeling that you don’t know your purpose in life, or feel empty and unfulfilled you aren’t using your gifts to serve somebody other than yourself.
I want to draw attention to a scripture in Mark, when Jesus was in the midst of giving away what God had placed in Him…
A woman who had suffered a condition of hemorrhaging for twelve years—a long succession of physicians had treated her, and treated her badly, taking all her money and leaving her worse off than before—had heard about Jesus. She slipped in from behind and touched his robe. She was thinking to herself, “If I can put a finger on his robe, I can get well.” The moment she did it, the flow of blood dried up. She could feel the change and knew her plague was over and done with.
30 At the same moment, Jesus felt energy discharging from him. He turned around to the crowd and asked, “Who touched my robe?” 31 His disciples said, “What are you talking about? With this crowd pushing and jostling you, you’re asking, ‘Who touched me?’ Dozens have touched you!” 32-33 But he went on asking, looking around to see who had done it. The woman, knowing what had happened, knowing she was the one, stepped up in fear and trembling, knelt before him, and gave him the whole story. 34 Jesus said to her, “Daughter, you took a risk of faith, and now you’re healed and whole. Live well, live blessed! Be healed of your plague.”
Mark 5:25-33 (MSG)
This is such a powerful scripture for so many reasons and I’ve often heard it used when someone is preaching on, the faith of the woman who touched Jesus’ robe, however for this point, I want to draw attention to the highlighted portion, when Jesus felt the energy leave him when the woman touched him…
After Jesus says “who touched my robe?” The disciples almost scoff at his remark saying Uh, what do you mean pal, there are tons of people touching you! But the disciples didn’t understand what Jesus was saying, there were dozens of people pushing, pulling, grabbing and reaching out to Jesus so it wasn’t an issue of someone merely touching him, He’d felt energy leaving from Him, or the New King James version says “And Jesus, immediately knowing in Himself that power had gone out of Him…”
Eventually the woman confessed the story to Him and He commended her for her faith and sent her off to live a blessed life, which is amazing in and of itself, But why do you think Jesus was able to feel the power leaving Him? What was the power that was leaving Him? And how did this power leave Him?
Jesus walked this earth and freely gave away all that he had, there wasn’t one need He wasn’t ready and willing to fill. He had a passion that caused the gifts that were in Him to actively seek out the faith in a person whom would be willing to receive what He was giving. It would be as an analogy of His hands being on fire and He was constantly searching for an ice bath to submerge them in to cool them off!
Whatever your gifts are, did you know they are meant to be given away? Even further than that, they are meant to be given away in faith, faith that whom ever they reach that it will impact and change lives for the better. Only when we give our talents and gifts away, will we see the gift become even stronger than before.
How often do we do things out of obligation and not passion? How often do we turn away the needs of others because we “don’t have time” or capacity to deal with it because our busy lives have taken up too much of our thoughts, money, time and energy?
How often do you truly open your eyes on the journey of life and look around you to breathe in your surroundings and ask yourself what you have to give and how you can effectively give it away?
If you are a parent or a grandparent you probably understand that our children/grandchildren should be our number one mission field, yet how often are we just too tired to deal with them, and fill their ever nagging needs or take the time to communicate properly with them, teach them, spend time with them, laugh with them, understand them, all because we pour ourselves into so many other empty things day to day? This may be offensive, but even those “spiritual” or “worthy causes” and things we tangle ourselves up in are not always a positive thing, if they are getting more attention than God, our spouse or our kids and making us crabby, ugly or distant from those most important in our lives. – Oh yes I did just go there!
I pray that you will be sparked to ask those questions in your soul and that just as I’ve been spurred on, that you will begin to seek after a heart that gives away the gifts inside of you, so passionately and deeply that you feel the power leaving the depths of your spirit to reach and fill a need somewhere to someone so much so that you have to say “Who touched my robe?”
Be blessed, favored and highly annointed for the ministry of life,
Beyond Talent – John Maxwell
The Minister’s Life of Obedience – Windgate
Falling in love is easy. It seems we fall in and out of love with people as we would a favorite pair of shoes or chocolate cake….mmmm that sounds good, I need a piece of chocolate cake…okay so where was I, yes love, what is this epidemic of love and why doesn’t it last? Why is it that we seem to fall in love so easily but especially this day in age we can’t seem to make it last?
Well lets look at the word “Love” what does it really mean to love someone? Do we love our husband or wife when we have those gushy heartfelt feelings for them? Do those butterflies in our stomache or our racing heart indicate that we love them? What about that season of our relationship when our spouse can do no wrong, and we enjoy being around them every minute of the day, that must mean we truly love them.
“The person meant for you, is the person who will love you even when there’s no reason to love you.” – Unknown
I took the liberty of looking up the definition of the word “love” in the dictionary, and what I found disappointed me, the reference of the word love is in a noun form, and the definitions range from “a feeling of warm personal attatchment, to a sexual passion or desire.” Excuse me for saying so but that’s not LOVE, that’s LUST!
It doesn’t take much to feel a sexual passion or desire for someone else, I mean just look at your TV or favorite clothing magazine, they even know this, that’s why half naked people are plastered all over for you to see, because it appeals to the human emotion. Take a look at pop stars, I’ve seen grown men ad women bawling their eyes out because this pop star touched their hand, I mean it’s pretty obvious that we allow ourselves to become personally attached to pretty much anyone that can appeal to our emotions, so c’mon really, this is our definition of love?
I will say that those passing feelings are important, and I believe can and should be a part of your marriage, but they don’t last on their own, and when those gushy feelings go, it’s not an indicator of “falling out of love” with someone, it’s indicating that the small stuff is ending, and the largeness of marriage is beginning, and the largeness of marriage takes work, sacrifice, self-lessness, compromise, humility, grace, forgiveness and faith. (Really this applies to any deep relationship however I’m just touching on marriage in this post.)
There is a chapter in the bible when Jesus was dealing with the disciples’ objections to the stipulations of marriage. Up to the point that Christ walked, the law of Moses deemed it okay to divorce your wife and provided the process on how to do it. Wanting to badger Jesus, the pharisees asked him the question whether it was permissable to divorce your wife or not, and Jesus basically said, no, God’s design was for the institution of a man and woman to join in marriage was meant to be a life long covenant and that’s what Christ wanted to restore. He made the exception in dealing with adultery and you can read more on that in Matthew 19, but other than adultery, He said that he was restoring the original intent of marriage. The disciples were very discouraged by this statement…. but I love Jesus’ response to them….
10 Jesus’ disciples objected, “If those are the terms of marriage, we’re stuck. Why get married?”
11-12 But Jesus said, “Not everyone is mature enough to live a married life. It requires a certain aptitude and grace. Marriage isn’t for everyone. Some, from birth seemingly, never give marriage a thought. Others never get asked—or accepted. And some decide not to get married for kingdom reasons. But if you’re capable of growing into the largeness of marriage, do it.” (Matthew 19:10-12 MSG)
I remember when my husband and I first got married, and every time he’d say or do something that made me mad, I would instantly go to that place in my mind that shut down and assumed we needed to just get a divorce. We’d enter those stressful seasons where just the sound of him blowing his nose sent me into a irritable fog, and I read it as an indicator that I just didn’t love him anymore and it was time to move on. See I grew up in brokenness and assumed that every good thing ended at some point. It wasn’t until God began to show me the truth about what it meant to love, that I realized I had the ability to love through hard times and pain, and as a matter of fact, that’s when love in it’s truest form was being lived out. Love is in fact a verb, an action verb, it’s the act of giving a person what he/she needs or wants when they don’t deserve it. It’s easy to love a person that’s loveable…
31-34 “Here is a simple rule of thumb for behavior: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you; then grab the initiative and do it for them! If you only love the lovable, do you expect a pat on the back? Run-of-the-mill sinners do that. If you only help those who help you, do you expect a medal? Garden-variety sinners do that. If you only give for what you hope to get out of it, do you think that’s charity? The stingiest of pawnbrokers does that.
35-36 “I tell you, love your enemies. Help and give without expecting a return. You’ll never—I promise—regret it. Live out this God-created identity the way our Father lives toward us, generously and graciously, even when we’re at our worst. Our Father is kind; you be kind. (MSG)
Just think, if Jesus asks us to treat our enemies with such grace and mercy, how do you think we should be treating the one we’ve promised our hearts to for life? And might I add that sometimes when we are in the thick of battle in our marriage, it seems that our spouse is our enemy, so even more so this verse applies!
I want to very briefly venture through a typical wedding vow, this may have not been your exact wedding vow but you may have had some version of this to your spouse at your wedding….
I Jon take you Jane to be my lawfully wedded wife, to have and to hold from this day forward…
For better or worse – It’s easy to love someone when they’re at their best, but what about when the two of you are growing at a different pace and don’t relate to or understand one another? Or how about when you’re in the middle of the stress of life and there’s alot of responsibility and not alot of fun? How about when you disagree on seemingly everything? Will it be as easy when you and your spouse aren’t spring chickens anymore and your spouse is growing hair out of his ears, or gravity takes it’s toll on your wife’s body after children and she’s not a young hot bod anymore?
In sickness and in health – what if the sickness is a thyroid disease and your spouses weight begins to grow or plummet? What if the sickness is terminal? How about mental or emotional sickness? Eating disorders, paralyzation, struggles with alcohol, depression, social or general anxiety, and the list goes on…
In good times and in bad – We all know how much fun marriage is when we’re in good times, but what about those bad times? Do they last? Is it possible to love someone during a bad time? Bad times are different for every couple, but when you find yourself in the middle of a season that you would refer to as a “bad time” how do you handle that? What should our response be? You feel lost, lonely, forgotten, taken advantage of, tired, bored, un-loved, un-cared for, what do you do? Does this part of the promise we gave to our spouse really apply to even those darkest and lowly of places?
There is no cut and dry answer to these questions, but they are questions that we all come face to face with. I will say that from experience, the more my husband and I go through in life together instead of giving up, the stronger and closer we become. He is my very best friend, and it’s not because we just magically get along or always see eye to eye, or are 100% compatible, it’s because we’ve resolved to live an excellent life in all areas including our marriage. As a matter of fact, I know when we hit those seasons of our relationship that seem so lonely and dark and I feel like giving up and running away, that we’re about to enter into a whole new level of our marriage and it’s always greater than the former level. Remember that tough times don’t last but tough people and tough marriages do!
When you feel that you and your spouse are on a different path, you can’t relate, you no longer like the same things, your’e not the same anymore, remember that we all grow differently, and the two of you will always grow apart, it’s what makes you human, the key is as you are on your own journeys, to continue to find eachother in the midst of it all, just the way you found eachother the first time. Appreciate your ever growing differences, instead of fighting for your own way, find the lesson in learning from the other person, embrace their uniqueness, shoot a smile across the room when chaos is breaking out with the kids to let the other know you’re on their side, allow God to open your heart and mind to new possibilities and perspectives.
Dare I say to you that maybe you’re the one that needs to change, not the spouse!! Live your life to serve, to truly love your spouse and find your friendship through everything, find a way to relate to laugh, to live, don’t give up. When the season is dark, know that there is hope, God always makes things turn for good for those who love Him, dark times don’t last. Enjoy the journey, you only get one.
It really discourages me when I see people hopping from relationship to relationship, in eager hopes that this next one will offer all that they’ve dreamed of. Thinking the grass is always greener, only to realize that no matter who you are with, you will always hit a point of work, it takes work to love others and love yourself. You have to be determined to get through the tough times if you want the great times to last, and those great times don’t come for free, the path of the great times comes through the tough times!
I have a good friend of mine who said something quite funny but so very true “If you have a King/Queen, don’t shuffle the deck, you might just end up with a Joker!”
I will not pretend to know your current situation or your past situations, but I encourage you to use divorce and giving up as a very last resort. Take your worries, your hurts and your fears to the Lord and let him heal you. He’s there to fill you up, because your spouse was never meant to be your source of feeling complete, God has to be your source, if you look to your marriage to fulfill you and keep you sustained, you will always be disappointed. Let God show you what it means to be whole, and allow your spouse to be your best friend on your journey….
God bless you and your marriage, there is nothing more powerful than unity!
Fit to Be Tied – Hybels
For Women Only – Shaunti Feldhahn
For Men Only – Shaunti Feldhahn
The Marriage You’ve Always Wanted – Dr. Gary Chapman