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Posts Tagged ‘christian’

If stereotypes hold true (which is rarely the case), I might imagine him as a burly, rough-around-the-edges sort of guy.  But because of his willing sacrifice, the entire world now recognizes him as the man who endured the pain of chemical burns in order to pull his co-worker to safety.

Just yesterday, Rob Nuckolos jumped waist-deep into a vat of nitric acid when he saw a co-worker fall 40 feet into the corrosive liquid.  As a an experienced contractor, Mr. Nuckolos had to have known the probable side effects of nitric acid–severe burns, coughing up of blood, low blood pressure, and possible long-term damage to eyesight.  Why, then, did he follow his friend into liquid fire?  Because Mr. Nuckolos acted out of love.  Not love as emotion or love as a feeling, but love as a noun–an action oriented, selfless giving of oneself despite the cost.

It’s an unbelieveable story–repulsive in its horror and beautiful in its sacrifice–that reminds me of the story of another man.  He was a blue-collar worker from Galilee–a town ridiculed for the worthless rabble it produced.  But, because of his willing sacrifice, the world knows him as the One who endured the pain of crucifixion in order to offer us salvation.

As the Creator of all things, Jesus knew what he would endure–temporary loss of glory, poverty, contempt, and abuse to the point of being unrecognizable.  Why, then, did the King of Kings embrace life as a man?  Because he acted out of love–the kind of love meant to bring us safely home.

Greater love has no man than this, that he lay his life down for his friends.  John 15:13

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Dave came home one evening after standing duty. “You’ll never guess who stopped by with dinner tonight–Rachel. And she brought T.J., too.” Surprised, I paused to listen. “You know, I’ve seen her a lot lately. Last week, she asked if I would spend some time with T.J. cause he misses his dad so much. When I got there, he was in bed for the night and she was dressed to kill. Rachel asked if I wanted to watch a movie with her, but I said you were waiting for me and hustled out of there. It’s been uncomfortable.”
I wasn’t surprised. The woman I had known as “friend” was lonely, unhappy, and looking for love. In her desperation, she didn’t mind betraying our friendship if a relationship with Dave might be a possibility.
A few years later, I found myself in a similar situation. Ben’s elementary school teacher seemed fond of my little boy–and of flirting. As a room mother, I spent regular time in the classroom and endured his winks and familiarity because they were inherent to his personality. Mr. Leonard began confiding in me, “Tina and I are having trouble. The girls won’t talk to me and I don’t know what to do.” I felt sorry for Mr. Leonard and appreciated the attention he gave my little boy, but knew that he was more than professionally interested when, during a couple’s dinner, he said, “Tina won’t be coming to the party. She doesn’t want to meet you because I told her you are everything beautiful and I’m attracted to you.” I stammered something incoherent and, red-faced, hurried to my husband’s side.
Thankfully, Dave and I had invested enough time and attention in our relationship that neither of us were tempted to take advantage of these situations. But lengthy deployments, grad school, and emotional ups and downs have all created deficits in our marriage at certain times. If Tina or Mr. Leonard had approached us during our more vulnerable moments, would the outcome have been any different? While I like to think we would still make the right and honorable choice, both of us are human and–sometimes–are less than honorable.
To protect our marriage and one another, Dave and I set up certain boundaries as a safeguard. They are to:
1.  Avoid building friendships with anyone of the opposite sex. We don’t meet childhood friends for coffee, join colleagues for lunch, or engage in activities unless the other is present.
2. Give each other access to all Facebook and e-mail accounts.
3. Be transparent with each other when emotional needs aren’t being met and make our relationship a priority.

Recommended book:

His Needs, Her Needs:  Building an Affair-Proof Marriage by Willard F. Harley, Jr.

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My husband loves honey-do lists–the longer the list, the more satisfied he feels when each item has a bold hash mark through it.  Mow the lawn.  Done.  Change the light fixtures.  All set.  Pay the bills.  Taken care of.  Despite Dave’s affinity for these lists, I have never given him one.  Even more than that, I’m careful not to mention things that need to be taken care of around the house because–like Santa’s list– they’ll be added to the queue.

I know some of you are wondering  if I’ve lost touch with reality.  You may be thinking, “What I wouldn’t do just to get my husband to take out the trash or wash the dishes.  She’s nuts!”  The issue for me is not whether or not chores get done or if I can rely on Dave’s help at home.  Instead, I’m concerned about spending time together.  We’ve actually agreed to put all work aside by noon on weekends–just to guarantee time is spent doing what is necessary at home AND necessary for our relationship.

Love–in my language–is spelled T-I-M-E.  Others of you may feel most loved when your husband brings you flowers, writes a love note, snuggles–or vacuums the family room.  What is it that make you feel special?  Starry-eyed?  Affectionate?  While you’re thinking about it, pause to consider what feeds your husband’s love for you.  Does he beam when you pack his lunch?  Would he prefer a back rub?  Or, does he just need to hear you say, “I’d marry you all over again.”?

Early in our marriage, Dave and I read a great book by Gary Chapman called The Five Love Languages.  If you want to know your spouse better–or even need to share with him what would help you feel loved and appreciated–then you might want to read it.  Even better, read it together.  Who knows, maybe your chores will get done after all!

Does he need…

  • words of affirmation?  Tuck love notes in his dresser drawer, lunchbox, and CD case.
  • time together?  Plan a date for him–action movies, pizza, and beer.
  • acts of service?  Ask him to make a honey-do list for you.
  • physical touch?  Cozy up during a football game or hold his hand–in public.
  • gifts?  Stop by the office with coffee or give him a book he’s always wanted to read.

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 “I am by nature a people pleaser, which means that by nature I’m a coward.”  –Pastor Mark Bates

Those words resounded with me.  How many times in my relationships had I been “diplomatic” in order to avoid disappointing someone?  Or, even worse, appeared to agree with that person, but instead proceeded to erect a DMZ (Demilitarized Zone for those of you who are non-military wives)?

What is a DMZ?  Let me illustrate.  Imagine I am South Korea.  Dave, my dear husband, is North Korea (for demonstration purposes only).  We’ve been at war with one another–although we can’t seem to remember why or even how it all began.  Now, though, we’ve decided to declare a tenuous peace.  We’re tired, bear noticeable war wounds, and need to regroup.  An agreement is drawn and, with distrust in our eyes, we draw lines in the sand.  If neither of us crosses this line, we’ll be just fine.  Peace has been made.  Really?  Have North and South Korea found that to be true?

Of course not.  Peace in the home is not the absence of conflict, but the presence of humility.  As Matthew 5:3 reminds us, “Blessed are the poor in spirit.”  Another version puts it plainly, “Great blessings belong to those who are humble.”  I don’t know about you, but humility in the marriage relationship can be tough.  What if he’s the one was wrong in the first place–or, if I was just a little bit in the wrong?  Shouldn’t he apologize first; ask forgiveness first?  Maybe–maybe not.  But am I more concerned with who crossed the DMZ first or do I desire to be reconciled in my relationship with the one I call husband?

I tell you honestly that making peace after even after an imagined insult  is one of my greatest areas of struggle in marriage.  Could it be a challenge for everyone?  I would guess that it is–after all, don’t we all enjoy being “right”? Most of the time, though, being right is far less important than acting in love.

3 Tactical Pointers to Help Disarm the DMZ–and Declare Peace

  • Relinquish your “rights” and admit your “wrongs”
  • Make the first move
  • “Do it badly if you must.  It’s worse not to do  anything at all!”  –Pastor Mark Bates

What works best for you to diffuse tension?  How have you learned humility in your marriage? 

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As we prayed together, her tears fell onto our intertwined hands. My heart broke as she uttered desperate words, “Lord, help me.” My precious friend, horribly abused as a child and still suffering its repercussions as an adult, looked up and asked, “Why?”

I don’t know, but God reassures us that pain will not go unanswered, ” [I], God, see the trouble of the afflicted; [I] consider their grief and take it in hand. …[I] am the helper of the fatherless.” (Psalm 10:14)

The young woman shifted nervously in her the seat; embarrassment and fear apparent in the quaking of her voice . “The baby and I were just evicted and my husband moved to Seattle. Why couldn’t they wait?”

I don’t know,  but be encouraged! God loves those who are in need–spiritually or otherwise. His promise is for you. “[I] rescue the poor from those too strong for them, the poor and needy from those who rob them.” (Psalm 35:10)

Her baby, surrounded by wires and tubes, lay in the small bassinet. His tiny chest bore the mark of an incision. Nothing more could be done. The mother’s words were barely a whisper, “Why my baby?”

I don’t know, but Jesus‘ words assure us, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live,…and whoever lives by believing in me will never die.” (John 11:25)

There is so much more waiting for us . His name is Jesus!

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More often than not, my mornings consist of reminders, reprimands, and rushing.  Did you pack your jacket?  Change that attitude, little mister.  If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say it at all.  Then, my children scramble out the of the car–backpacks slung across their tiny shoulders.  I won’t see them again until the sound of the bell sends them rushing out of the building–laughing and ready for a snack.

As I pull away, I’m consumed by “mommy guilt”.  Did I remember to tell them I love them?  Were my words more than just directives or critiques?  Will they know they’re prayed for today?  Did I say anything nice?

There are times the guilt is well-earned.  Sometimes my words fail to build up my children, husband, friends, or even strangers I encounter.  As Proverbs 16:24 reminds us, “Pleasant words are a honeycomb,  sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.”

Tomorrow–whether I’m in the midst of the morning rush, the dinner hour, or the bedtime routine–I’m going to slow down enough to remind those around me of how important they are to me.  I’ll tell them they are a precious gift in this life.

Then, I’ll let the “mommy guilt” go–at least for the day.

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I can imagine the perfect woman for my husband–and she is not me.  Now, I’m not suggesting I would rather Dave be married to someone else.  What I am saying is that if I were his best friend, parent, or sibling I would have expected him to marry someone unlike me.

Dave’s perfect wife  would  eagerly anticipate the next shared hike together, certain she could conquer the ragged terrain of any mountain.  This someone would engage in political debates, enjoy running in marathons, and read Time magazine.

Instead Dave chose a woman who’s afraid of heights, rarely reveals her political affiliation, and prefers a relaxing walk on the beach to the rush of endorphins at the end of a five-mile run.  And my favorite reading material?  Think Jane Eyre and Anna Karenina.  I don’t remember when I read Time last.

But, Dave didn’t want perfect–he wanted me.  And, after all of our years together, he still does.  The remarkable part of all this is Dave is more aware of my flaws, faults, and foibles than during the early years of our marriage.  He sees me clearly.

My dislike for closet doors haphazardly left open?  Dave hears about it regularly.  The temper that flares when we disagree about discipline?  He’s been an object of that anger.  My high-maintenance food ordering habits?  If the avocado is fresh than I’ll have the southwestern burger, if not then I’d like the patty melt with the onion straws on the side but no cheese.  Yes, Dave is aware of this hang-up.  (He says I’m discerning; not picky.)

Despite knowing me as intimately as he does, Dave loves me all the more.  What, then, is principle number three?  Accept your husband for who he is.  You cannot change him.  When you are convinced your husband needs to change, begin praying the Lord will change you.

3 Ways to Demonstrate Acceptance Toward Your Husband

  • Talking Trash–Have you been around a group of women lately?  Don’t join their “My Husband is an Idiot Club”.  Honor him with words of affirmation–even when he isn’t nearby.

             Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others upEphesians 4:29

  • Point of Reference–Extend grace and mercy to the husband you have pledged to love.

             Out of respect for Christ, be courteously reverent to one another. Ephesians 5:21

  • Practically Speaking-  Just put the lid down yourself.  He won’t mind and it will make you happy!

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His gaze locked on what lay ahead, Connor swept past the sidelines.  He seemed oblivious to the crowd and focused on the goal.  “Time!” the official said, as my son burst across the finish line.

This morning I woke up feeling like I hadn’t slept–as if I had been in a race, too.  Family life has been a whirlwind this week–complete with visits to the ER, trips to the vet’s office, school concerts, complaints at work, and not much down time.  I’m burned out.  Beat up.  Tired.  Have you been there?  Do life’s ups and downs sometimes chip away at your fortitude?

As I lay on my bed wishing for just thirty more minutes of sleep, the image of Connor running through the rope at the end of those 200 meters flashed into my mind.  I know he’d been weary, but my son persevered–even after a 4:30 a.m. get up, 6:30 a.m. football practice, regular school day and then a 4:30 p.m. track meet.

Instead of complaining, Connor ran the race.  He stayed the course.  He won.

Unknowingly, my son reminded me of the apostle Paul’s words, “1 Cor.24-25You’ve all been to the stadium and seen the athletes race. Everyone runs; one wins. Run to win. All good athletes train hard. They do it for a gold medal that tarnishes and fades. You’re after one that’s gold eternally.

26-27I don’t know about you, but I’m running hard for the finish line. I’m giving it everything I’ve got.” (The Message)

Today, I’m going to look ahead with my eyes focused on the goal.  I might need to walk when I’m weary, but I’ll get there.  So will you.

Let’t give it everything we’ve got.

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Twenty years before, you would have noticed a simple farmhouse with a large picture window overlooking the fields.  Now all that remains is a blackened trunk sprouting unruly branches–the memorial of a family heritage, a symbol of struggle, and the testimony of living triumphantly.

That scarred tree stands next to a gaping hole, marking the place of my childhood home–a place I loved.  I remember a quaint, welcoming home with a picture window that invited the morning sunrise in every day.  Green grass, fed by the nearby creek, wrapped around the house and a stand of Russian olive trees waved in the background.

But one starry December evening, my childhood home was swallowed by angry flames.  Only the tree remained.

While the antiquated electrical system may have been at fault, I often wonder.  You see, our home was also a place of fear and dysfunction, rage and drunkenness, threats and retribution.  My mother, brother, and I were always at risk.  Then…I told.  Was the truth too difficult to bear?  Did the remorse result in the physical purging of guilty reminders?  Perhaps.  Perhaps not.

But the blackened tree still stands–bravely pointing upward, bearing the wounds of its past, and determined to live the life it was meant to.

Friend, what scarred trees are there in your life that serve as reminders of personal struggle as well as His goodness and grace?

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I left the comforts of home today–loaded down with two children bundled safely in the mini-van–for a spring break adventure.  I’d originally planned to visit the butterfly garden outside the city limits, but changed my mind when my companions began asking, “How long will it take before we’re there?”.  Additional time spent in the confines of a 1999 Mercury with impatient grade-schoolers is not something I choose without careful consideration, but the real reason I didn’t venture any further was my lack of confidence.

I didn’t trust Mapquest–or myself.  The “what-if’s” quelled my desire to go beyond what I already knew.  What if the directions weren’t accurate?  What if I took a wrong turn and ended up in the middle of Wyoming without cell phone service?  What if the kids had to use the restroom and we had no other choice but to stop at a run-down, no-name gas station?  Ick!

So, I played it safe.  Our little adventure was relegated to known territory.  Familiar roads.  Comfortable venues.

My spiritual life is prone to the same sort of roadblock.  I sometimes lack confidence in the roadmap and, ultimately, the One who has engineered life itself.  The “what-if’s” begin to cloud my thinking and slow–or eliminate–my progress.  What if God’s word isn’t trustworthy?  What if I misunderstand His plan and end up an Israelite in the middle of the desert?  What if  I fail to go the right direction and stall out at the edge of the Promised Land–able to see it, but forbidden to enter?

Those are the times God reminds me of all the places we’ve already travelled together, where we’ve been, and how far we’ve come.  Tomorrow’s adventure could be the most exciting yet.  Maybe I’ll even visit the butterfly garden.

You’re word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.  Psalm 119:105

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