Freeze, Frozen, or Forgiven?

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been reading the book “God Never Blinks” by Regina Brett. I haven’t been reading it front to back like you would  a normal book.  I’ve been flipping through and finding a little passage that relates to my day.  Last night I found one that has summed up my life the past month or so.

The section was titled “When in Doubt, Just Take the Next Right Step.”

The analogy that was used was the game of freeze tag.  Once you are tagged, you stop (or freeze) in place.

I can relate to being tagged in my life and I just stop in place.  I don’t look around, I don’t move forward.  And I definitely don’t move backwards.  I’m just there – blindsided by a strong hand that has stopped me in place.

I stay in my own little world stuck in one spot wondering what my next step is going to be.  Stay where I’m at and think of endless possibilities of how to become unfrozen?  Try to break my icy mold by myself and continue on?  Try to retrace my steps and find a way around finding myself stuck in a place I don’t want to be in?

Being human, we get so wrapped up into what has gone wrong, we freeze.  We meditate on all the things that have happened, all the things we wish we could have done, or all of the things that were done.

Shane and I experienced this about a month ago.  We were so blindsided by the actions of others that we froze in place.  When you take a married couple and both of them freeze at different places on the field in different positions, it’s not good.  You can’t communicate, you can’t console, and you can’t encourage forward movement.  You stay in place, facing different directions trying to figure out what comes next.

Well, in our situation, the obvious “next step” for us was a prayer of forgiveness.  We needed to forgive so that we could move forward.  We wanted to forgive so we could move forward.

However:

Forgiveness doesn’t always mean reconciliation.

I struggled with this concept – and still kind of do.  I have been raised thinking that if you forgive someone, their wrong doings are “erased” and you make the effort to restore what you had before you became frozen.  That’s just how it was.  That’s how it’s always been.

But, Shane showed me a new option:  you can forgive without having reconciliation.  Somethings just can’t be, won’t be, or (even in some situations) shouldn’t be resolved.

Kind of like that saying “Hate the sin, love the sinner.”  You can love someone without approving of their every move, decisions, or choices.

We “practice what we preach”.  We try to see everyone through the eyes of Christ and love everyone as we love ourselves, but there are times where this just doesn’t seem possible.  But we are told in Ephesians 5:1-2 “Therefore, be imitators of God, as dearly loved children.  And walk in love, as the Messiah also loved us and gave Himself for us, a sacrificial and fragrant offering to God.”

We cannot be imitators of God if we are walking around judging, ridiculing, wishing ill upon our neighbors, or not loving our neighbors.

When Shane sat me down and told me that there can be forgiveness and Christ-like love but not necessarily reconciliation, it caught me off guard.  But here is where it begins to make sense. (Authors note:  Feel free to correct me here if I am wrong.)

Forgiveness and Christ-like love can be one-sided.  You can forgive someone without them knowing or returning the favor.  Just the same, you can show love to someone without them wanting to receive it or returning it.

We, as Christians, can fulfill our duty as being imitators without the acknowledgement of the receiving end.

Up until the last few days, I was frozen in place.  I thought that I had broken my mold and began my journey forward.  I was wrong.  I was just as frozen last week as I was a month ago.  I hadn’t taken the next right step. I had prayed but I hadn’t put into action what I had prayed for – because I was stuck.

I want to move forward and ONLY forward.  I will not be looking back, dwelling on the past.

If you have wronged me, my husband, or my kids, know that you are forgiven and you are loved.

Just as I have been forgiven, I have forgiven.  I have forgiven, I have loved, but I cannot reconcile at this point in time.

But I am no longer frozen.  I will not stand stationary waiting for the world around me to change.  I need to be the change in the world.

I need to take that next right step.

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Cross The Line.

Have you ever really sat back and thought about everything that a line can do?  It can be a barrier, it can be a way to organize things, it can cause division among things, or it can be a path to follow.

For example, the lines on the roads.  If they are followed correctly, they guide traffic safely.  However, you remove those lines, there becomes chaos.

There are figurative lines when we talk about personal boundaries.  Nobody can see them, but you know they are there.

But what about when it comes to faith?  Christ drew a line for us to follow:
“Jesus told him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me’.” ~John 14:6 HCSB

He gave us a very black and white statement.  No one can get to the Father unless they believe in Jesus.  But this is where the line gets blurred for some people.

See, you can either be on one side of the line or the other – either you believe or you don’t – there is no grey area.

There are those believers who claim to be believers but do not show actions of a believer.  In other words they do not show Christ’s love, they do not pray for others, and/or they do not give up complete control of their lives to/for Christ.

On the other hand, you have those who are believers and show Christ’s love to the best of their Earthly ability, they pray for others – especially those who come to them in need, and they offer their whole lives to Christ.

I will not sit here and say that it is easy for me to turn over complete control of my life.  After all, who could keep up a schedule like ours if you have zero control over it?  Well, the answer is simple – He can.

I gave up complete control of my life in early 2013.  Up until then, I was one of those believers who said they believed (and I truly did) but I did not show it.  I did hide behind my faith.  I was scared to offend those around me who didn’t believe.  As soon as I gave up control of my life, He started to do some pretty amazing things.

He brought me out of an abusive relationship.  He healed my broken self into something that He could use for His glory.  He called me back into an education program that I loved.  He gave me a job offer that allowed me to escape the daily grind of a gas station.  He allowed my path to cross with a man that I had only dreamed about.  He showed me a way to share my life story, my faith story, and my heart on a public forum.  He lead us to a home church.  He has done it all.

The difference between the “new” believer in me and the “old” believer in me?  The old believer believed that Jesus was my Savior.  The new believer in me believes that Jesus is my Lord and Savior.  They key difference being the word Lord.

One of the definitions of the word Lord is “act in a superior and domineering manner towards someone”.

I have began to follow His greatest command for us: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.” ~Matthew 22:37
He has come first and foremost in my life – even during times that I wish I could maintain control.  I cannot do it without Him.  He knows what I can handle and He knows that I need Him to help me through.

Do you hold Christ above yourself or do you feel that you come first?

We saw the line that Christ gave us – “No one comes to the Father except through me.”

If you have not accepted Christ and your Lord and Savior, do you feel that he is going to let you to the Father off of some excuse as to why you felt that you were superior to Christ?

When He stretched out his arms on that cross, He forgave all of our sins.  That shows us that not one person should be viewed over the other.  We are all sinners and we have all been forgiven.  So why is it that people still feel that they can control when Christ is in their lives and when he ‘doesn’t need to be there’?

Wonderful things begin to happen in life when you decide that you want to give up complete control.  Until then, His arms are still stretched open waiting for you to realize that He is the way, the truth and the life.

“No one comes to the Father Except through me.”

Which side of the line are you on?

*Blog topic credit goes to Shane.  Thanks, love!*

It’s More Fun Than Expected.

One thing that everyone takes for granted at one point or another is time.  Perfect example; you probably noticed (or you didn’t) that I didn’t post on Saturday.  Instead, I spent the morning attending my daughters spelling bee (or at least driving there.  She didn’t get past the written round), working out in the yard, getting my homework caught up, planting my garden/re-seeding my herbs, and spending some one-on-one time with my husband.

The day just seemed to fly by and it wasn’t until we were on our way to Sioux Falls that I realized I hadn’t made a post.  But, that wasn’t the time to do it.  I was on a date with my husband and the last thing that I needed to do was stick my nose in my phone and write a post.

The only time I touched my phone was to take pictures when we were at the sports complex playing Glow Golf.  Other than that, I did not communicate with anyone other than my husband and the employees of the businesses that we visited.

I got messages like “Why are you ignoring me?”  “Are you mad?”  “How did I upset you?”  None of these were the case.  I was putting effort into keeping my marriage a happy marriage and supporting my husband.  Because, believe it or not, he needs me just as much as I need him.

Ephesians 5:25 says “Husbands, love your wives as Christ loves the church.”  Christ didn’t just do enough work to get by.  He pursued His people and sought them out because He loved them.  This verse points at the husbands and that they are supposed to love their wives in this way, but it’s not just the husbands.  Wives, it’s us too.

Pursue your husband the way you did when you were first dating.  Those stolen glances, the flirty eyes, the little giggles, the sweaty palms when you held their hand for the first time, and the butterflies in your stomach.  Leave little notes for one another, take date nights just the two of you and leave the phones at home or in the car.

It is all too easy for the outside world to get in the way of marriages now.  Not only do we have those men and women who are so unhappy in their relationships that they set out to ruin others, we have technology.  Literally anything can be at our fingertips in a matter of seconds.  Pornography, a conversation with an ex, a flirty conversation with someone other than your spouse, pictures of other people who you lust after.  We also have other forms of technology that are just as invasive.  Video games, computer games, online gambling, television series, etc.  The list of things that can invade a marriage are endless.

But it isn’t just technology and unfaithfulness either.  It’s kids too.  You get so busy running and scurrying that soon one day turns into six days and you can’t remember the last time you had an actual conversation with your spouse.

As soon as one of those things works it way in, it is hard to maintain the level of communication and the amount of dedication that our spouse needs.  We would rather sit down and zone out to the latest episode of Revenge/Grey’s Anatomy/Dancing With The Stars/The Walking Dead or sit down and indulge ourselves in our computer/video game until we reach the next level…or the next….or the next.  We then lose track of time and it’s time to head to bed and you don’t even know how your husband or wife’s day at work went, how their doctor’s appointment went, what they spent most of the day thinking about, etc.

I’m guilty for sitting down in front of the TV for a couple of hours without muttering more than 7 words at Shane.  But, he will sit next to me, he will rub my feet or hold my hand, and he will just be there.  Sometimes, that’s all I need.  I’m not good at communicating how I feel most of the time, or offering suggestions as to how it can be fixed.  My head spins on things that it shouldn’t and it ruins my day and I spend the next 2-3 days picking myself up out of the dumps.  But that doesn’t mean that I don’t try to communicate these things.

I’m also guilty for jumping to my phone when I hear a game notification, an e-mail, a call, a text, or a Facebook chime come through.  I’ve told countless friends that I will be there for them whenever they need me, and I have been and will continue to be.  But I also need to keep in mind that my family comes first.  My family needs me and they can’t have me when I let these things get in the middle of us.

I’ve had a couple of people tell me that their marriage “isn’t as fun as they expected.”  Let me ask you this, when was the last time you had a date with your husband?  When was the last time you put down the phone, turned off the electronics, and had a meaningful conversation?  When was the last time you listened to what your husband had to say and offered advice or support or vice versa?

To be honest, my marriage is more fun that I expected.  Did I expect to fight all the time?  No.  But I was always warned on how it takes a lot of work and it’s exhausting and it’s a full-time job.  Yes, it is a full-time job; there is laundry to be done, bills to be paid, dishes to be caught up, dusting that has been neglected for weeks, floors that are disgusting, mouths to be fed and treats that need to be baked.  That doesn’t include the yard work that needs to be done, the basement that needs cleaning, concerts and sporting events that need attending, the dogs that need to be fed and walked, the cat that needs to be fed, and the flower garden that needs weeding.

But it’s fun.  We find a way to enjoy these things together. We’ve turned bills into a lesson about money for the kids.  We’ve created meals out of random foods in the kitchen.  We’ve found enough stuff in half the basement to hold a healthy garage sale.  We cuddle with the dogs before bed.  We plant, dig, rake, and tend to the outdoor things together.  We compete to see who can tend to the dishes or the laundry first so that the other doesn’t have to do it.  Just because it’s work doesn’t mean it can’t be fun.

I realize that you need your friends as well, but you married your spouse, you didn’t marry your friends.  Marriage takes work.  A lot of work.  But how can we put work into something if we are always putting distractions and addictions before our husbands or wives?

Not only do we have to work with our spouse, we have to work with the Lord as well.

“Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves.  A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”  Ecclesiastes 4:12

It was refreshing to get out and disconnect from the world for a few hours.  I got my behind handed to me in Glow Golf and we ate super unhealthy burgers that fixed our (my) burger and fries craving.  But we were spending quality time together and we were able to work on our marriage while having fun.  We talked about faith, we talked about friends, we picked on each other, we talked about family, we watched people in Sioux Falls, we relaxed.  Together.  We probably even prayed together without realizing we were probably doing it together.

Marriage is all what you make it.  What have you made yours?

By Your Side.

This past week I was fighting a hard battle.  I was having some vicious spiritual and emotional battles going on.  I was barely functioning for a week.  Everything was a challenge.  I was trying to sift through issues and tackle them one at a time but I could only do so much.  However, I was fighting to turn them over to God; even though I hammer it over and over again in my posts.

I had hit a point later in the week (Thursday or Fridayish) where I was so frustrated and beaten down that all I could do was cry.  I felt like I had failed my husband, the kids, myself and especially God.  I had fallen behind in school work, house work, and other general responsibilities.  Sunday came and I felt like church is exactly what I needed to “reset” my struggles.

I sobbed during church.  I couldn’t even sing a full song without bursting into uncontrollable tears.  It felt like every song we sang was directed towards me or the battles I had fought the past week.  I felt like God was doing some work in me, but why was it so hard to let go?  It got to the point where I had to actually leave church, gather myself, and then come back in.  I physically couldn’t stop the crying no matter how hard I tried.

This is one of the songs that we sang.  It was definitely the hardest to maintain my composure (HA!  More like black streaked face the entire song!)
I love this song and it is so true!

He was by my side through all my struggles, but Satan was battling back and made me feel like I was going at it alone.  There was not one point where I was alone, spiritually or physically.  God wanted me to stop fighting but I felt like all I could do was fight; fight to keep Satan out as best as I could.

He loves us and He is there for us.  We don’t need to fight alone; He’s fighting for us and with us.

Hidden Faces.

Betrayal (verb) : to deliver or expose to an enemy by disloyalty; to be unfaithful; to disappoint.
Denial (noun) : an assertion that something that is said or believed is false; refusal to believe doctrine; disbelief of existence of a thing.

At some point in our lives, we have all experienced one of these emotions.  Maybe from family, friends, co-workers, or maybe in some cases, ourselves.  There have been times that we may have denied a friendship or talked about someone behind their back with someone else, there may have been times that we refused to believe someone even though they were telling us the truth, there may have been times where we have disappointed others or ourselves.

But the extent that we have felt these emotions are nothing compared to what Christ felt.  He was betrayed not once but three times by one of His followers, He was mocked, He was tortured; all so that we didn’t have to be.

But His denial didn’t stop with Peter; it continues with us.  I’ll be the first to admit that there have been times where I didn’t admit to being a believer.  The friends I spent most of my time around in High School were not believers and I got tired to fighting the fight of trying to convince them to believe.    Even though I didn’t deny it, the fact that I didn’t defend my faith – defend Him – wasn’t close enough to betrayal – it was betrayal.  My betrayal to Him was worse when I stopped worshiping.  I quit going to church, I stopped praying, I took my issues upon myself and majority of the time, they got worse.

We turn our faces in fear as to what others will think.  We get the frame of mind that no situation is bad enough to where we need His help.  We lose faith because of things we may have been put through in our lives; deaths, abuse, divorce, life-threatening diseases/illnesses, and so on.  We become bitter and closed off because we just don’t understand “why us.”

But since Jesus died on the cross for our sins, we no longer have to live like fearful and faithless cowards.  We can stand proud, confess our sins, and ask for forgiveness.

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” ~ 1 John 1:9
He is there to make our crimson stained lives white again.  He is there to cleanse us from all that is unholy.

Since yesterday was Resurrection Sunday, Shane and I braved watching The Passion of the Christ with the kids.  Talk about a tough movie to watch; especially with two kids who are visually sensitive to movies like this.

I first saw in in 2004 while I was in confirmation.  At the time, I was a bit put off by all the blood and gore that was shown but I didn’t fully understand the meaning behind it.

However, watching it 11 years later had a whole new feel to it.  I understood why these things were happening.  I found a greater appreciation for what He endured so that we didn’t have to.  But, the kids covered their eyes and hid their faces as the most pivotal points in the movie were happening. (But I can’t say that I blame them.)

But then I realized our biggest faults here on Earth.

We hide our faces.

We hide in fear that we may not “fit in” or that we will be viewed as “weak.”

We cannot keep living a life of masquerade.  How can He help us if we don’t allow Him to?

Sometimes we just need a pivotal moment in our lives to knock us down and show us that we cannot keep living our lives the way we had been.  My moment?  When I realized I had been brainwashed to become a person I wasn’t.  When I realized I was fighting with my family more than I was talking to them.  When I realized that that ring on my finger felt more like a noose.  That was when I realized that I needed Jesus and that I needed to stop living in denial and misery.

We have two choices; continue on a destructive path harming ourselves and those around us or ask Him to guide us back onto the path that He has laid out for us.

He gave His life for us, the least we could do is give up our lives to Him.

What is your choice?

Are you willing to uncover your face?
Are you willing to uncover your face?

Overwhelmed.

With this being Holy Week, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about all the feelings and emotions that Jesus endured for me; us.

He suffered betrayal, anguish, anger, distress, grief, sadness, weariness, and crucifixion.  However, he also felt things such as compassion, gladness, joy, love, peace, and sympathy.

He felt the human emotions that we feel.  However, he still managed to lead a sin free life.

He suffered for US.

He died for US.

He rose for US.

He forgives US.

To even try and wrap my head around that just consumes me.  He has every right to turn His cheek at me, but yet I feel his embrace and love.

I am literally overwhelmed by what He has done and what he continues to do.  I couldn’t say it any better than this song.

All I Could Have Asked For.

Throughout the week, I come across different things that I feel would be great to blog about.  But, of course, when it comes down to sit down and write, I draw a blank as to what should be my topic of the day.

So, I asked the husband what I should write about for my Thankful Tuesday post, and he did a wonderful job picking; however, I’m saving that for next week.  The reason?  He gave me something to write about in answering my question.

Shane is all that I’ve ever looked for in a life partner.  There are just so many reasons that I’ve fallen in love with him.  Things ranging in being able to hold a serious conversation one minute and then diving into a messy game of twister.  But there is one characteristic that I can say that will tie it all together.  He is an active head of the household.

He’s like the living Super Man.  He wakes up everyday at 4:45 AM, starts coffee, gets the dogs out and comes and wakes me up around anywhere between 4:50 AM and 5:15 AM.  (Depending on the morning and how tired I am… maybe 5:30 AM or later.)  He the proceeds to go to work driving truck and delivering products around the area.  Doesn’t sound like a whole lot for you who don’t know his job in detail but it’s a lot of manual labor.  He then comes home after a day that lasts between 10-12 hours.  He then does the dishes, does the laundry, cleans the house, monkeys around out in the garage, fiddles around in the yard, plays with the dogs, and on and on and on.  Add the kids into the mix every two weeks, and he interacts with them as well.

We see in different areas of the Bible what God expects from the head of the household.  1 Peter 3:7 tells us “Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.”  Ephesians 5:25 says “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.”  1 Timothy 5:8 states “Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”

Within those three small verses we see that husbands are to be considerate, respectful, loving, and provide for their family.

Just in that small paragraph where I described Shane, you can see that he is loving and provides for the kids and I.  But what I didn’t go into detail with is his consideration and how respectful he is.

Just to give you a glimpse into how selfless he is, when I found myself in a situation of abuse, he opened his doors to me.  He did not ask for a penny for bills since I was driving an hour to and from work daily.  All he asked was that I helped with the groceries as well as help with household chores.  But the months that I was there before we got married, he respected my space as well as my feelings.  He knew that there were days where I just needed me time.  He respected that.  In most cases, he ran a bubble bath for me, had a book ready with candles lit and he disappeared for 45 minutes to an hour so I could just escape my life for those few moments.

He also listens to me whine and complain about the little things that don’t go right or that are frustrating me.  All while he’s also probably had one of the worst days and doesn’t say anything until I’ve said my piece and he’s talked me into a calm.

He has done so much for me on a personal level.  But, he’s also helped me immensely on my spiritual level as well.  He’s become my rock in many spiritual battles that I’ve had as well as been a wonderful example of Christ’s unfailing love.  He takes responsibility for us getting to church on time and that we do our nightly readings and prayers.

He is just so strong and supportive and doesn’t even realize that he’s everything I could have asked for and more.

The Root Of All Evil.

When I ask you to think of the things that make you most happy in life, what comes to mind?  Your car?  Your house?  Your closet full of clothes?  Your electronic devices?  Any other material items that you may have purchased?

They say that money cannot buy you happiness, but yet that’s what society show us.  If you’re mad/sad/upset/etc., there is always retail therapy.  If you want someone to fall “in love” with you, buy them things – a lot of expensive-ish things.  If you mess up in your relationship, buy them flowers, jewelry, or clothes to say “I’m sorry.”

We don’t blink an eye at spending $50 on a large bouquet of flowers to say “I love you.” or “I’m Sorry.” or spending $50 at the liquor store for a “fun” Friday or Saturday night.  Yet, when the offering plate comes around at church, we cringe at the thought of throwing a $50 bill in.  Why is that?

Is it fear that we will never see that money again?  That that money may be spent in “better” places?  Let’s face it, we have spent large amounts of money on some ridiculous things that we didn’t need.  I’ll be the first to admit, a few years ago, I would have rather spent my money on fast food, pop, candy, etc. instead of throwing it in the offering plate and giving back to The One who gave me all.  I would have rather chased after that temporary feel good than chase fulfillment in knowing that my money was going somewhere much better than the local gas station or fast food store.

Matthew 6: 19-21 says “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.  But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

A lot of truth rings out in that passage.  When we leave  bikes out in the rain, they rust over time.  When mice get into vehicles, they chew and destroy.  We put more money into repairs and maintenance over time than the initial purchase probably was.  Look at cars, for example, oil changes, tires, rotation, transmission flush, replacing brakes, replace wheel bearings, replace tie rod ends, head gasket repairs, and the list goes on.

With maintenance and repairs comes frustration.  “How much money are we going to have to put into this?!” The more money we spend, the more upset we get.  Sound familiar?

“For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.  Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.”  1 Timothy 6:10

Shane and I do not live outside of our means.  We don’t drive brand new vehicles, we tell our kids no, we budget wisely.  We weren’t aware of how much wasteful spending we had until we laid out the budget.  All the little $2.00 and $5.00 transactions added up.  We were placing our temporary feel good above our giving to the Lord – the one who provided us with the items for that feel good moment.

Shane and I have become much happier and feel more blessed now that we are actually “putting our money where our mouth is.”  We used to be the “hypocrites” who didn’t understand those who could spend endless amounts of money on alcohol or material items but claimed they couldn’t afford an offering; but we were no different with our pop or snack purchases here and there.  We didn’t need those things and they put a dent into what we could give.  There were weeks where it was too tight for comfort but we offered what we could.  After we cut our needless spending, we found that we were able to comfortably offer more unto the Lord when we weren’t so focused on ourselves and our desires so who were we to judge others?

We don’t realize how selfish we really are until we stake a step back and realize how much we do for our satisfaction (pop, fast food, electronics, etc.) instead of His satisfaction.

I realize that there are some of you who are doing all you can to make ends meet, I’ve been there done that.  God doesn’t care about the amount of money you have or the amount that you give.  However, he does care if we start to worship the goods that money can buy.

“No one can serve two masters.  Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other.  You cannot serve both God and money.”  ~Matthew 6:24

So, what makes you happy?