Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Run and Hide

A friend once described to me his arrival to Florida, from DC. As he looked out the airplane window during the landing, he vividly remembers seeing all the palm trees and rays of sunshine! It was in that moment that he decided he would move to Florida.

Florida is known as the Sunshine State. Any Floridian can tell you when "Snow Bird" season is and that it is a fact that Florida is a place people not only visit, but retire to as well. This article published by Men's Health, rocked the Tampa Bay area -- my pastor mentioned it in church and it made radio talk. How could Tampa and St. Petersburg both be on the top of the saddest cities in America list? I mean, come on, it's the Sunshine State!

Here are my thoughts....
People everywhere face troubles that could drive them to extreme sadness and depression. Since Florida is often called the "melting pot" and is a retirement hot spot, I see how people would think residing in sunny Florida would bring them to a life of rest, peace... no problems. Unfortunately, wrong. Life's problems, issues, and troubles tend to follow us, regardless of our geographic location. So here is where I disagree with the "saddest cities" philosophy -- "sad people" can be found everywhere. And having spent my life thus far under the Florida sun, I know it isn't Tampa Bay that contributes to sadness.

People today attempt to run and hide from life, rather than face it head on.  Life can seem overwhelming. Problems can seem unsolvable. But we "..can do all things through him who strengthens..." us (Philippians 4:13). So, what are you running from? Where have you run to hide from life's problems? What are you afraid of? Let God walk you through it.

"Be strong and courageous and do it. Do not be dismayed, for the LORD with you. He will not leave you or forsake you, until all the finished." - 1 Chronicles 28:20

Monday, April 16, 2012

Boys or Men?

The other evening, I was watching Grey's Anatomy with my husband. In the tenth episode of the  third season, the chief of surgery says to one of his top surgeons, "I am tired of you men acting like boys!" In the two following episodes, there is a theme of fatherhood. This all got me thinking about the importance of men.

First, let me share that yes, I am a woman and I know I am a woman. I cannot accurately tell men what they should be doing or how to best do so. However, I can share, from experience, what the women in men's lives need and expect from them... and how damaging it can be if the men don't provide that.

Every woman has men in her life-- a husbandfather, step-father, grandfather, brother, son, cousin, friends... And those men play important roles in the lives of women around them. When these men fail to provide safe and loving relationships with the women in their lives, or act like immature boys rather than responsible and courageous men, the women reap the consequences. Women are to be led, cherished, and loved by men -- this is a picture of God's love! From experience, I have had many damaging relationships with men, but I have also had some very special, healthy, and uplifting relationships with Godly men. Those positive relationships with men have given me a better picture of the love God has for me and has helped [begin to] mold me into the woman God designed me to be.

So here's my question:
Ladies- are the men in your life living up to the standards of manhood? are you settling for what the world says a man is?
Men- are you living a life of immaturity and passivity, or are you taking every opportunity you have to share with the women in your life just how precious they are? are you following God's lead in how to appropriately lead the women in your life?

Men and women need each other. God designed us that way. So men, stop acting like boys.

Then the LORD God said, "It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him." - Genesis 2:18

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Love Like You Mean It

Love. Such a loaded word. In today's culture, we "love" so many things that I think the word has lost some of it's value. I remember as a school-aged kid writing I :heart: ____ (insert boys name) on my hand in colorful gel pen. That certainly wasn't love, the name changed regularly, but I was being fooled by the world at an early age about love.

The phrase "I love you" is something my husband says to me several times each day. And he sincerely means it! I remember the first time Tyler said those three words. We were indulging on cheesecake under the stars when he turned to me and expressed that he loved me. My response: "Are you sure?" Poor guy. He was sure! And as we're now into our second year of marriage, he continues to pursue, woo, and love me.

The Bible tells me in several places that I am loved by the Lord: "The LORD your God...will quiet you by his love." - Zephaniah 3:17, "As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you." - John 15:9, "...the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." - Galatians 2:20, "We love because he first loved us." - 1 John 4:19 and in so many other passages! I first heard about the love of God when I was a five year old girl. My neighbor, who was six or seven years old at the time, told me that if I asked Jesus to live in my heart that I would live forever. It is because of God's unending love that he desires us to be with Him in perfect relationship, for all eternity!

Last night I had an exciting and emotional "ah-ha!" moment. Before last night, I could have written the above text and meant every single word. But after last night, those words have both meaning and depth. It hit me that I am passionately loved by both my God and my husband-- in spite of my imperfections, both inside and out. What an overwhelming thing to have hit you at once! I was crying uncontrollably; one because I have been married for almost a year and a half and just now am realizing that my husband actually loves me the way he says he does --no matter what I look like or how crazy I can be-- and two because even though my heart is full of sin and my body is wasting away, God loves me! "And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ." - Philippians 1:6 The Lord knows I am still imperfect, but with patience, He grows me all the while, loving me. Man oh man! What a blessed lil lady I am!!

There are not words to describe just how grateful I am that my husband's love teaches me about the Lord's love.

"Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her."
 - Ephesians 5:25

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Reading List

As an elementary school aged child, my mother signed me up for the Babysitters Club Book Club. I hated to read. Reading bored me more than anything else! As a member of the Babysitters Club Book Club, the books would come by the tens or so each month. Is that a joke? The pressure I felt to read these books probably contributed to the perfectionistic tendencies I have today. I could not possibly read them all before the next batch came, so why even try? was my thought. Needless to say, that book club unfortunately ended up being a waste of money.

It wasn't until college that I began to enjoy reading. I finally found books that challenged me and seemed purposeful to read. I am grateful for the turn around in my attitude towards reading, because I realize now that books are such a valuable resource!

I am finishing up a book that has been hard not to read in one sitting. And as I finish this one, I have one lined up to read next. My list of books read and to-read got me thinking... there are so many good books out there, but often times it's hard to know if the one you pick up off the shelf at the bookstore is going to be good and worth the purchase. I have read these books over the past few years and would highly recommend them:

  • Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers
  • A Lineage of Grace by Francine Rivers
  • Completely His: Loving Jesus Without Limits by Shannon Ethridge (and accompanying devotionals!)
  • Every Woman's Battle: Discovering God's Plan for Sexual and Emotional Fulfillment by Shannon Ethridge
  • Changes That Heal by Dr. Henry Cloud
  • Boundaries in Dating by Dr. Henry Cloud & Dr. John Townsend
  • How People Grow by Dr. Henry Cloud & Dr. John Townsend
  • Safe People by Dr. Henry Cloud & Dr. John Townsend
  • The Search for Significance: Seeing Your True Worth Through God's Eyes by Robert S. McGee
  • Wilderness Skills for Women: How to Survive Heartbreak and Other Full-Blown Meltdowns by Marian Jordan
  • Sex and the City Uncovered: Exposing the Emptiness and Healing the Hurt by Marian Jordan
  • Captivating: Unveiling the Mystery of a Woman's Soul by John & Staci Eldredge
  • The Master Plan of Evangelism by Robert Emerson Coleman
  • Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ by John Piper
  • Soul Print by Mark Batterson
  • In A Pit With A Lion on A Snowy Day by Mark Batterson
The books on my shelf and "to-read" list:
  • Radiant: Living as Light in a Dark World by Marian Jordan
  • Sacred Marriage: What if God Designed Marriage to Make Us Holy More Than to Make Us Happy by Gary Thomas
  • To Be Told: God Invites You to Coauthor Your Future by Dan Alendar
  • Personal Disciplemaking: A Step-By-Step Guide for Leading a New Christian From Birth to Maturity by Christopher Adsit  

What books have you recently read, enjoyed, and are worth recommending? Are there any books you have lined up to read next?