Tuesday, July 26, 2011

What Are You Building?

"...the builder of a house has greater honor than the house itself."
{Hebrews 3:3} 

They say building a house will either make or break your marriage. This statement has both intimidated and challenged us over the past 8 years as we have spent the majority of our marriage building our house. Both processes have taken lots of hard work, love, sweat, and tears to form solid, firm foundations. Those foundations have both been built with Jesus Christ as their Cornerstone. It has taken time and wisdom to learn how to build according to His plan and a whole lot more hard work to turn those plans into reality... to build a strong, sturdy shelter that will withstand the storms of time and outside forces beyond our control.

Sure, we've made our mistakes through these processes... and many costly ones at that. But, that doesn't mean we'll ever stop building. No, we'll hopefully learn from those mistakes and be able to do a better job of building in light of them.

Building is a loud, messy, difficult, and even painful process. We continue building because we look forward to living in what we will have built over time. We've made a decision to go at it again and again until we get it right. We don't want our home to just be a 'livable' one; what we want is a beautiful, healthy, thriving one. If we are going to work hard at something, we want it to be the best it can be; something that will show off Christ's handiwork in us, something to be admired and something that we can be proud of. 

It takes time to build something right... time and lots of hard, messy, even painful work. While it may be difficult, the reward of building something beautiful to live in and pass down over generations is worth the difficulties of the process.

Every day my husband and I have been learning to live out our marriage mission statement by making the Father's "joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind." {Philippians 2:2} . We're definitely not perfect at it, but we're learning. We're committed to seeing this thing through to the end... 'til death do us part.

Building a solid marriage isn't easy, but it's SO worth it... and today we're celebrating what we've built so far!

For Further Thought:

  • What kind of marriage are you building? What kind of home do you want to live in?
  • Are you committed to working hard in your marriage to build something that will withstand and outlast the tests of time? Will your marriage be something that you will be proud of as you leave behind its legacy to your children?
  • When times get tough, do you have a tendency to stop building? Or do you keep moving forward?
  • What have you learned from the mistakes you've made along the way that will help you build better, stronger and smarter next time? 
  • Do you need to seek advice, counsel, or wisdom in how to build a better marriage? Do you have a good plan? A good model?
  • Do you have a mission statement for your marriage?

Friday, July 22, 2011

Courage For Today

"But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness." 
{Hebrews 3:13}
I wonder what would happen if we, as Christians, truly took this scripture to heart... and practice. What would our relationships look like? In light of this verse, we should be some of the best people to be around- after all, who wouldn't want to be around someone who was consistently giving out encouragement every day?
The truth is, most of us are too busy trying to get encouragement instead of trying to give it.
... And we wonder why we are so discouraged all the time? ...It's because we've got it all backwards! God's economy is so much different than the world's. The world says you need to get more to prosper... God's Word says you need to give more to prosper. Proverbs 11:25 says it this way:
"A generous person will prosper;
whoever refreshes others will be refreshed." 
You see, we can't expect to enjoy an abundant harvest of encouragement without first sowing a whole bunch of encouragement "seeds." Want to be encouraged all the time? Who wouldn't?! Sow encouragement into the lives of others on a regular basis and you'll begin to be encouraged on a regular basis. 

Encouragement should not be seen as something to be given out as a one-time event. After all, how would we feel if we only received encouragement as a one-time event? The truth is, we all need it much more often than we'll ever realize or even vocalize... otherwise, I don't think Paul would have exhorted us to give it out daily! 
Today, your uplifting words have the power to make all the difference in the world to someone.
And the good news is, not only will they make all the difference in the world in someone else's life, they'll also make all the difference in the world in your own. 

Want to feel loved today? Express love to someone else. Want to be stronger through seasons of trials? Sow words of strength into the life of someone you know who is going through trials of their own. Not only will their burdens seem lighter, but your own will too. 

Encouragement comes in many forms and is much easier to give out than you think. A quick note, a quick call, a quick email or text message... a hug, a smile, a hand to hold, a helping hand... a "Thank you," an "I love you." 

Not only will someone else enjoy the refreshing waters of encouragement as they flow freely from your lips, but you will too. The very courage you give someone else in the battles they face today will give you strength and courage for your own.

For Further Thought:

  • Who could use a word of encouragement from you today? Your spouse? Your children? A co-worker? A stranger?
  • How could your friendships benefit from a regular practice of giving more encouragement?
  • Who could you show support today? Maybe with a meal? A kind gesture? A helping hand?
  • Who could use some help or motivation? A timely and thoughtful gift? A kind word?
  • How can you express your gratitude to someone who has blessed your life?
  • Who would be blessed to know that you are praying for them?

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Dear Abby

“Give sorrow words. The grief that does not speak whispers the o'er-fraught heart, and bids it break.”  
–Wiliiam Shakespeare
Today's post is in honor the unborn child we loved and lost in a miscarriage a year ago from today's date.

Dear Abby,

My dear beautiful daughter, your Heavenly Father whispered your name to me before your father and I could ever whisper it in your little ear…. Abigail is your name. Abigail is the word we exchanged for the intense sorrow and grief our broken hearts experienced a year ago… the day you left my womb and took a piece of our hearts with you. While I didn’t know it at the time, Abigail, you see, means “the Father’s joy,” and it is truly the Father’s joy that you added to our lives.

Through you, Abigail, I was able to experience the Father’s joy so much more fully than I ever would have without this experience of intense grief and sorrow. Perhaps, Little One, the Father used your death as much as your life to teach me… Although you never experienced the beauty of the world when you would open your eyes for the first time, you opened the eyes of my heart to so much… to the fullness of love, hope, and comfort afforded me in depths I would never otherwise have known except through the unknown depths of pain, suffering, and sorrow I plummeted into.

It was you Little One, my Abigail, that the Father used to clearly illustrate to me the principle of exchanging death for life… 

... of exchanging the ashes of my brokenness for the hope of what beautiful things God might create with such unconventional elements… 

... of exchanging my tears of grief and mourning over your death with the ointment of joy over the Life still within me- the Life you and I share- and the joy that, despite these mere moments we are apart, we will soon be together in the present reality of eternity… 

...of exchanging my spirit so heavy with despair with the light and beautiful garment of praise for a Sovereign and trustworthy God - praise which, when wrapped around my heavy, hurting, disappointed, and grief-laden heart, slowly began to lift me in the reality and peace that you are wrapped in our Father’s arms, just as you always were... and as I always am.

Through your brief life and even in your death, God used you to birth new things in me, Abby. I have been inspired to live a little more… laugh a little more… give more of myself to the things that really matter and let go of the things that don’t. You taught me to more fully appreciate the miracle of life all around me... to treasure the gifts of each day, each moment, to be spent with the precious lives of those around me.

It was you, Abby, who God used as a light to reveal treasures to me that I didn’t even know I had or was even looking for… treasures that I would only discover in the darkness of an abandoned womb... an empty tomb in my body which will forever echo in my heart with the good news of an empty tomb of long ago... of one our Savior once abandoned. That, my dear one, is an amazing legacy to have left in my heart for such a short life you lived... for you have taught me all that I ever hoped to teach you. You lived your life fully, my Little One, and I am forever grateful.

Little One, my Abigail, you are my treasure forever laid up in my heart and in heaven. I love you.

For Further Reading: Isaiah 61:1-3