Welcome to Mellie's mind...

Where thoughts can be funny, can race at all hours of the day and night and can sometimes not make any sense!

Enjoy the ride!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

The Love Dare- Day Twenty-five

What I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, I did it for your sakes in the presence of Christ. – 2 Corinthians 2:10

This one is tough – perhaps the toughest dare in the book.  But if there is to be any hope for your marriage, this is a challenge that must absolutely be taken seriously.  Counselors and ministers who deal with broken couples on a regular basis will tell you that this is the most complex problem of all, a rupture that is often the last to be repaired.  It cannot just be considered and contemplated but must be deliberately put into practice.  Forgiveness has to happen, or a successful marriage won’t.

Jesus painted a vivid image of forgiveness in His parable of the ungrateful servant.  A man who owed a sizable sum of money was surprised when his master heard his appeals for mercy and totally canceled his debt.  But upon being released from this enormous load, the servant did a most unexpected thing; he went to another man who owed him a much smaller amount and demanded immediate payment.  When the master heard of it, things changed dramatically in his arrangement with the slave.  “His lord, moved with anger, handed him over to the torturers until he should repay all that was owed him” (Matthew 18:34).  A day that had begun with joy and relief ended in grief and hopelessness.

Torture. Prison. When you think of unforgiveness, this is what should come to your mind, for Jesus said, “My heavenly Father will also do the same to you, if each of does not forgive his brother from your heart” (Matthew 18:35).

Imagine you find yourself in a prison-like setting.  As you look around, you see a number of cells visible from where you’re standing.  You see people from your past incarcerated there – people who wounded you as a child.  You see people you once called friends but who wronged you at some point in life.  You might see one or both of your parents there, perhaps a brother or sister or some other family member.  Even your spouse is locked in nearby, trapped with all the others in this jail of your own making.

This prison, you see, is a room in your own heart.  This dark, drafty, depressing chamber exists inside you every day.  But not far away, Jesus is standing there, extending to you a key that will release every inmate.

No. You don’t want any part of it.  These people have hurt you too badly.  They knew what they were doing and yet they did it anyway – even your spouse, the one you should have been able to count on most of all.  So you resist and turn away.  You’re unwilling to stay here any longer – seeing Jesus, seeing the key in His hand, knowing what He’s asking you to do.  It’s just too much.

But in trying to escape, you make a startling discovery.  There is no way out.  You’re trapped inside with all other captives.  Your unforgiveness, anger, and bitterness have made a prisoner of you as well.  Like the servant in Jesus’ story, who was forgiven an impossible debt, you have chosen not to forgive and have been handed over to the jailers and torturers.  Your freedom is now dependent on your forgiveness.

Coming to this conclusion usually takes us a while. We see all kinds of dangers and risks involved in forgiving others.  For instance, what they did was really wrong, whether they admit it or  not.  They may not even be sorry about it.  They may feel perfectly justified in their actions, even going so far as to blame you for it.  But forgiveness doesn’t absolve anyone of blame.  It doesn’t clear their record with God.  It just clears you of having to worry about how to punish them.  When you forgive another person, you’re not turning them loose.  You’re just turning them over to God, who can be counted on to deal with them His way.  You’re saving yourself the trouble of scripting any more arguments or trying to prevail in this situation.  It’s not about winning and losing anymore. It’s about freedom.  It’s about letting go.

That’s why you often hear people who have genuinely forgiven say, “It felt like a weight being lifted off my shoulders.”  Yes, that’s exactly what it is.  It’s like a breath of fresh air rushing into your hear.  The stale dankness of the prison house is flooded with light and coolness.  For the first time in a long time, you feel at peace.  You feel free.

But how do you do it?  You release your anger and the responsibility for judging this person to the Lord.  “Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath for it is written, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord” (Romans 12:19).

How do you know you’ve done it?  You know it when the thought of their name or the sight of their face – rather than causing your blood to boil – causes you to feel sorry for them instead, to pity them, to genuinely hope they get this turned around.

There’s so much more that could be said and so many emotional issues you may need to fight through to get there.  But great marriages are not created by people who never hurt each other, only by people who choose to keep “no record of wrongs” (1 Corinthians 13:5).

Today’s Dare

Whatever you haven’t forgiven in your mate, forgive it today.  Let it go.  Just as we ask Jesus to “forgive us our debts” each day, we must ask Him to help us “forgive our debtors” each day as well.  Unforgiveness has been keeping you and your spouse in prison too long.  Say from your heart, “I choose to forgive.”

Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.  (Luke 23:34).

Wow, these are some hard chapters these past couple of days.  Not only did I bring forth the realization, or rather acceptance, that I live in total fear in my everyday life now I am facing the fact that I am living in my own prison as well.  I am looking around at all the cells filled with people who have wronged me or who have hurt me and I am right there trapped inside the cell walls with them.  

Sure, I have said a thousand times I forgive you or I have prayed and asked God to give me the heart of forgiveness and felt like I really had but deep down inside the fear I spoke of yesterday brings me right back to the jail cell I reside in with those who have hurt me.

Why do I keep coming back to this place of fear and not forgiving?  Why do I allow myself to be instantly angered when I think of someone who has came against me or my marriage?  Why do I tell feel like I have forgiven but I can not forget?  When will this all go away and when will I be free? 

I heard a sermon today and one part of the message was this quote:

“My job is to respond to the invitation of this God by glorifying him through living in obedience to all that he has commanded of me.  In doing so, I fully trust that He is good and that He is for me.  I trust that greater life is found in how God wired the universe to work, rather than how I think the universe should work.”

This quote speaks to me because it makes me understand something about myself...... I seek control and when I do not have control I let fear take me over and control me.  It goes hand and hand with each other and when I allow that fear to control me I also allow it to bring up the past doings that have hurt me and I am right back to feeling like I have not totally forgiven.

It was not until today that I actually understood that forgiveness is something I need to constantly work on and constantly ask God to help me with.  I just can't "say" I forgive you and that will be the end of it.  I need to continue to pray for the strength, I need to continue to seek God in my daily life allowing me to let go of the things that hurt me and my fears.  If someone continues to wrong me and I have to continue to forgive over and over again well that is when I have to make a choice to stop allowing the behavior and make changes in my life.

But as of today I will forgive again, I will focus on the wonderful life I have and I will focus on the greatness of my marriage that my hubby and I are working on.  I will pray and continue to pray when I feel like fear is taking me over.  I will refuse to allow myself to think about the people and situations that have wronged me because I am not going to live in that jail anymore.

It is not for me to judge, it is not for me to punish and it is not for me to not forgive the hurt in my life.  That is between them and their God. What is my job is to love my hubby, my family and my friends the way God commands me to and make the best of what I have.  I am blessed, I live a blessed life and my marriage has taken a turn for the better.  These are all the things I have to be grateful for and rather than spending my time in fear I am going to choose to forgive and move on.

"Great marriages are not created by people who never hurt each other, only by people who choose to keep “no record of wrongs” (1 Corinthians 13:5).

I will not keep a record of wrongs, I am stronger than that and my marriage deserves better.


I have always been, I believe, consistent and generous when it comes to forgiving other people. I do not like to keep grudges. Besides, the few times I have tried to, I generally tend to forget anyways what I am supposed to be upset at them about......very inconvenient.

For me, forgiving others has been easy.

Forgiving myself, on the other hand, has been a hard learned life lesson.

We all mistakes. Sometimes knowingly, sometimes unknowingly. Sometimes minor and insignificant, sometimes life changing. I am strong believer in not making excuses for one's failures. I do not make them for myself, and I do not accept them from others. E for effort, I suppose, but results are what matters (imagine being a 4 to 8 year old child of mine and hearing that over and over again). I kid the children...sort of.

It has taken me a long time to forgive myself--to understand that I a mistake or series of mistakes does not have to define who and what I am, at least not once I learn to forgive myself so that others can also be free to forgive me.

Forgiving oneself, for me, is harder than it may seem.

Regret, guilt--emotions I was taught as a young child were not God-given, but rather evil's way of keeping you down and destroying your spirit. Yet, I spent many years living with both of them. I learned that harboring these emotions only led to more destructive behavior, which only furthered the depth of the underlying negative feelings.

Life can be a bitch, eh?

Finally, almost in an instant--I made a decision to forgive myself. To move forward. To remember who and what I am, and what I can offer. I have never felt so powerful as a person and as a spirit as I am today.

This self-forgiveness has literally freed my spirit and mind to move forward onto bigger and better things. Through this journey, I have learned and am continuing to learn to both love and respect myself, and in doing so, I am loving and respecting my wife, my family, and my God.

And, understanding I am human will still make mistakes, I also understand that I have principals and values that guide my decisions. Right or wrong, as long as I am doing what i believe to be the right thing, I can look myself in the mirror every night and every morning, and know that I deserve to have the opportunities that I have, and that I also have the power and spiritual authority to continue to expand on them.

As it is often said, everyone we meet is to some degree fighting their own battle and at a certain point in their own journey. We respect them for who they are and the positives that they bring, and we learn to forgive their misdeeds...including our own.

This, to me, allows us lead a truly happy life.

~ Joseph

The Love Dare-Day Twenty Four

The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.  
– 1 John 2:17

Adam and Eve were supplied with everything they needed in the Garden of Eden.  They had fellowship with God and intimacy with one another.  But after Eve was deceived by the serpent, she saw the forbidden fruit and set her heart on it.  Before long, Adam joined in her wishes, and against God’s command both of them ate.

That’s the progression.  From eyes to heart to action.  And then follows shame and regret.

We, too, have been supplied with everything we need for a full, productive, enriching life.  “We have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either” (1 Timothy 6:7).  But the Bible goes on to say that, having basics of food and clothing, we should be “content.”  And Jesus promised these two things would always be provided to God’s children (Matthew 6:25-33).

God’s blessings, however, go so far beyond these fundamental needs, we could rightly say that we want for nothing.  Yet like Adam and Eve, we still want more.  So we set our eyes and hearts on seeking worldly pleasure.  We try to meet legitimate needs in illegitimate ways.  For many it’s seeking sexual fulfillment in another person or in pornographic images designed to feel like a real person.  We look, stare, and fantasize.  We try to be discreet but barely turn our eyes away.  And once our eyes are capture by curiosity, our hearts become entangled. Then we act on our lust.

We can also lust after possessions or power or prideful ambition.  We see what others have and we want it.  Our hearts are deceived into saying, “I could be happy if I only had this.”  Then we make the decision to go after it.

“But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction” (1 Timothy 6:9).

Lust is in opposition to love.  It means to set your heart and passions on something forbidden.  And for a believer it’s the first step out of fellowship with the Lord and with others.  That’s because every object of your lust – whether it’s a young coworker or a film actress, or coveting after a half-million dollar house or a sports car – represents the beginnings of a lie.  This person or thing that seems to promise sheer satisfaction is more like a bottomless pit of unmet longings.

Lust always breeds more lust.  “What is the source of the wars and the fights among you?  Don’t they come from the cravings that are at war within you?  (James 4:1 HCSB).  Lust will make you dissatisfied with your husband or wife.  It breeds anger, numbs hearts, and destroys marriages.  Rather than fullness, it leads to emptiness.

It’s time to expose lust for what it really is – a misguided thirst for satisfaction that only God can fulfill.  Lust is like a warning light on the dashboard of your heart, alerting you to the fact that you are not allowing God’s love to fill you.  When your eyes and heart are on Him, your actions will lead you to lasting joy, not to endless cycles of regret and condemnation.

“His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.  For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust” (2 Peter 1:3-4).

Are you tired of being lied to by lust?  Are you fed up with believing that forbidden pleasures are able to keep you happy and content?  Then begin setting your eyes on the Word of God.  Let His promises of peace and freedom work their way into your heart.  Daily receive the unconditional love He has already proven to your through the cross. Focus on being grateful for everything God has already given you rather than choosing discontentment.

You’ll find yourself so full on what He provides, you won’t be hungry anymore for the junk food of lust.

And while you’re at it, set your eyes and heart on your spouse again.  “Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice in the wife of your youth … Be exhilarated always with her love.  For why should you, my son, be exhilarated with an adulteress and embrace the bosom of a foreigner?  For the ways of a man are before the eyes of the Lord, and He watches all his paths” (Proverbs 5:18-21).

“Do not love the world nor the things in the world.  If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (1 John 2:15).  Lust is the best this world has to offer, but love offers you the best life in the world.

Today’s Dare

End it now.  Identify every object of lust in your life and remove it.  Single out every lie you’ve swallowed in pursuing forbidden pleasure and reject it.  Lust cannot be allowed to live in a back bedroom.  It must be killed and destroyed – today – and replaced with the sure promises of God and a heart filled with His perfect love.

Act as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil.  (1 Peter 2:16)
"It’s time to expose lust for what it really is – a misguided thirst for satisfaction that only God can fulfill.  Lust is like a warning light on the dashboard of your heart, alerting you to the fact that you are not allowing God’s love to fill you.  When your eyes and heart are on Him, your actions will lead you to lasting joy, not to endless cycles of regret and condemnation."

I think when most people hear the word lust or if asked to describe lust they think of attraction and physical lust... when I began this chapter this is exactly what was in the back of my head while reading it.  Here I thought I was in the clear because I do not "lust" over anyone of the opposite sex.  Sure, there are men who I find attractive and I might think to myself "He looks good today, or good in that outfit or what a big smile he has."  But my thoughts are never far from my hubby.  The one man I truly lust after is my husband.

But as the paragraph I listed above states "lust is a misguided thirst for satisfaction that only God can fulfill."  This statement made me really look at my life yesterday and last night giving me the ability to search within myself and find where my misguided thirst is.

I live in fear.  I have lived in fear all my life.  My mother could never hold a job or a place to live for very long.  We depended on the men in her life to provide assistance when needed.  I began to help support my family at the age of 13 when I could babysit.  I lived in fear of the lights and power being turned off (because it happened all the time) I lived in fear of having to move and change schools and I lived in fear that one day my depressed, bipolar mother would just up and leave us three kids.  All things I feared as a child came true.

Thus began my adulthood of living in fear.  I would find myself in a relationship feeling secure and feeling like this was where I was meant to be and then my world would cave in.  As I got older I learned it was easier to love and leave then love and be left so I started living a life where I was the one calling the shots, or so I thought.  My life was in turmoil and I had no idea how to properly live in it.

My fears to this day are still a real factor, as real as the rain falling from the sky today.  However, these fears that I have held onto and that I KNOW evil helps me hang onto, control my life and control the conditions of my life.

Some of my fears come from my past, some come from the hard times with my hubby, some come directly from my hubby but none of them are to blame.  It is my fault I do not let go of them and it is my fault that I let fear take over me and run me like a bad habit.

My misguided thirst is for me to live a perfect life.  A life where there are no outside temptations for my hubby. Where there is no white lies or hidden secrets in our marriage.  Where there is no fear of being left or being hurt.  Where my kids live a stress free life free from pain.  Where I can have an argument with my hubby or I can stand up and say "I am not going to put up with this any longer" and not have the fear of him walking out.  Where my self worth is higher than my self doubts and where age doesn't define me but celebrates me.  These are my misguided thirst and they are damaging my relationship.

I must learn, as the chapter states, " Let His promises of peace and freedom work their way into your heart.  Daily receive the unconditional love He has already proven to your through the cross. Focus on being grateful for everything God has already given you rather than choosing discontentment."

Just like I am learning to let go and give God my issues, I need to learn to force fear to let go of me and live in the freedom of God and focus on what He has given me and what I am blessed with.  I can not live in a life where I expect my hubby to push away my fears and push away the feeling of not being good enough.. I have to do this on my own and I have to allow God to do it for me.

Today I am going to start rejecting fear and rejecting that it will control me.  Today I will stop looking to my hubby to fix what is wrong with me and rejoice that I have this time with my hubby.  Today I will be thankful that God brought us together, brought us back together and that the scheme of life is bigger than how I feel in this very moment.  Today I am going to do what I can in prayer to push away fear and begin to live the life God wants me to live.


"It’s time to expose lust for what it really is – a misguided thirst for satisfaction that only God can fulfill. "

Hate is a strong word that should be used sparingly.

I hate things. I hate clutter. I hate being surrounded by "stuff". I hate drawers full of things; often clutter and stuff.

I don't know why. But I know I do.

I like things simple. I prefer to have little and make do with what I have. There was a time in my life, not long ago, where I must have had 40 ties. With those ties, must have been 100 shirts. I would find a shirt that I liked, and get all possible colors for it. Why? Because I could. Because I didn't have 20 kids or anything else to do with my resources. But mainly because I lusted after things seeking satisfaction that I could never obtain through "things."

Now, I hate them (things).

Perhaps, it is because it reminds me of regrets and mistakes past. Perhaps because I associate "things" and clutter with chaos and disorganization. Perhaps I was dropped one too many times as a baby....who knows.

Life, to me, is now worth living NOT because of all the things I could buy, have, posses. But rather, because I could have virtually anything I wanted but instead have chosen to find my satisfaction in giving to others; loving the family I have been blessed with that love me for who I am, not what I have or could have.

For the first time in my adult life, I AM satisfied.

Does this mean I do not have a nice car? No. Does this mean I do not provide nice cars or clothes for my children and my wife? No. I work hard (as does my spouse) and I work intelligently, and this produces and provides a blessed life. But what it does mean is that I do not let these things define who I am. I do not work for these things. I work to provide stability and a future for my family--not for the next latest, greatest gadget or piece of clothing.

I prefer simple. For me, keeping things simple prevents me from getting distracted. Keeping things simple allows my mind to breathe; allows my mind to prosper and create. Keeping things simple allows me to focus on what matters--the people and relationships of those that I love and care about.

I lust for the love and affection of my family and my God. I find satisfaction in the love given to me by my children and my wife, and the opportunity that I have to lead and teach them what not to do and how not to be, often times from my own mistakes.

So, next time you see me wearing the same tie over and over again, at least you'll know why!



Thursday, May 23, 2013

The Love Dare-Day Twenty Three

[Love] always protects. – 1 Corinthians 13:7 NIV

Marriage is made up of many things, including joys, sorrows, successes, and failures.  But when you think about what you want marriage to be like, the furthest thing from your mind is a battleground.  However, there are some battles you should be more than willing to fight.  These are battles that pertain to protecting your spouse.

Unfortunately your marriage has enemies out there.  They come in different forms and use different strategies, but nonetheless they will conspire to destroy your relationship unless you know how to ward them off.

Some are clever and seem attractive, only to undermine your love and appreciation for one another.  Others try to lure your heart away from your spouse by feeding you unhealthy fantasies and unrealistic comparisons.  It’s a battle you must wage to protect your marriage – when love puts on armor and picks up a sword to defend its own.  Your mate and your marriage need your constant protection from things like:

Harmful influences.  Are you allowing certain habits to poison your home?  The Internet and television can be productive and enjoyable additions to your life, but they can also bring in destructive content and drain away precious hours from your family.  The same thing goes for work schedules that keep you separated from each other for unhealthy amounts of time.

You can’t protect your home when you’re rarely there, nor when you’re relationally disconnected.  You have to fight to keep balance right.

Unhealthy relationships.  Not everyone has the material to be a good friend.  Not every man you hunt and fish with speaks wisely when it comes to matters of marriage.  Not every woman in your lunch group has a good perspective on commitment and priorities.  In fact, anyone who undermines your marriage does not deserve to be given the title of “friend.”  And certainly you must be on guard at all times from allowing opposite-sex relationships at work, the gym, or even church to draw you emotionally away from the one to whom you’ve already given your heart.

Shame.  Everyone deals with some level of inferiority and weakness.  And because marriage has a way of exposing it all to you and your mate, you need to protect your wife or husband’s vulnerability by never speaking negatively about them in public.  Their secrets are your secrets (unless, of course, these involve destructive behaviors that are putting you, your children, or themselves in grave danger).  Generally speaking, love hides the fault of others.  It covers their shame.

Parasites. Watch out for parasites.  A parasite is anything that latches onto you or your partner and sucks the life out of your marriage.  They’re usually in the form of addictions, like gambling, drugs, or pornography.  They promise pleasure but grow like a disease and consume more and more of your thoughts, time, and money.  They steal away your loyalty and heart from those you love.  Marriages rarely survive if parasites are present.  If you love your spouse, you must destroy any addiction that has your heart.  If you don’t, it will destroy you.

The Bible speaks plainly about this protective role, often using the analogy of a shepherd.  God warned, “My flock has become prey … food for all the beasts of the field.”  How so?  “For lack of a shepherd.”  Not because these men were too weak to perform their duties but because they didn’t pay attention.  Instead of watching to make sure that the sheep weren’t being picked off by predators, “the shepherds fed themselves and did not feed My flock” (Ezekial 34:8).  They took extra good care of their own needs and appetites but gave little thought to the safety of those under their supervision.

Wives – you have a role as protector in your marriage. You must guard your heart from being led away through novels, magazines, and other forms of entertainment that blur your perception of reality and put unfair expectations on your husband.  Instead you must do your part in helping him feel strong, while also avoiding talk-show thinking that can lure your attention away from your family.  “The wise woman builds her house, but the foolish tears it down with her own hands” (Proverbs 14:1).

Men – you are the head of your home.  You are the one responsible before God for guarding the gate and standing your ground against anything that would threaten your wife or marriage.  This is no small assignment.  It requires a heart of courage and a head for preemptive action.  Jesus said, “If the head of the house had known at what time of the night the thief was coming, he would have been on the alert and would not have allowed his house to be broken into” (Matthew 24:43).  This role is yours.  Take it seriously.

Today’s Dare

Remove anything that is hindering your relationship, any addiction or influence that’s stealing your affections and turning your heart away from your spouse.

You will be restored if you remove unrighteousness far from your tent.  (Job 22:23).

I have never been one of those women who spend her time watching soap operas, reading magazines on how to do this or that or romance novels.  I had a hard life growing up and learned there were no fairy tales and there are no magical kingdoms with happily ever afters.

But with that being said I do believe in REAL love.  I do believe in soul mates and I do believe in people finding who they were meant to be with.  I enjoy movies that focus on these sort of beliefs such as:

The Notebook http://youtu.be/S3G3fILPQAU
What Dreams May Come http://youtu.be/TPZpQsEFcKI
My Life http://youtu.be/L8dAe3u0vWg
Fireproof http://youtu.be/84q0SXW781c
The Family Man http://youtu.be/OnouJoQs52c 
Romeo and Julie the 1968 Version http://youtu.be/gvCpDknV6Ps
  These movies, my top choices, describe not only a love between and a man and a woman but it shows the struggles that life can bring and how love can overcome those struggles.  These types of movies glorify the love two people share rather than glorify hate, adultery, and violence like most other movies.  They don't cloud your perception with unrealistic expectations for a man or for a women they just focus on what is important.... LOVE.

I try to keep a good balance in my home, I have not always been good at it, and I try and let my hubby know that he is the ONLY man for me and the only man I am focused on.  There is no opportunity for me to have my heart taken because it belongs to only him.  My hubby is my life, he is my best friend, he is my protector and he is the love of my life.  I will do what I need to do till the day God calls me home to not only say these things but to show him.

When I was given a real second chance with my hubby and he not only came home physically but mentally I removed influences that would hinder my relationship with him.  And most importantly I got out of God's way and gave it all to Him to work on rather than trying to control everything.

My marriage has been restored, my faith has been restored and our love has been restored.


Men – you are the head of your home.  You are the one responsible before God for guarding the gate and standing your ground against anything that would threaten your wife or marriage.  This is no small assignment.  It requires a heart of courage and a head for preemptive action.

Hope. Faith. Trust. Love. Patience. Desire. Understanding. Prayer. Peace.

I decided to write the words that came to mind, when I asked myself to describe my wife and what she seeks in this life/what characteristics best describe her.

It is a tremendous responsibility knowing that my wife loves me with all her being, and her happiness--her true happiness and peace for her soul lies for the most part within my hands. Here is a woman, that like all husbands I suppose, I would not hesitate to defend her and lay down my life for hers. And yet, life is rarely so dramatic.

So far I have not been called upon to save her life in this manner. Rather, I have been called upon to lead her and our family to a place of peace, with a foundation of love and faith. It has been a long-time coming. My wife has been patiently waiting, guiding me...hoping for a better day.

As a child, I felt abandoned by my biological mother. As a young adult, my sister who was very close to me, died unexpectedly. My mother, after being reunited for a few years, died unexpectedly of cancer. These experiences only added to my sense of abandonment. That sooner or later, everyone and anything dear to me would be taken or otherwise leave me.

While not a psychologist, I have come to learn that much of my past behavior was a defense mechanism of sort. I had the mentality that bad things would happen...so why not hasten the occurrence and get it out of the way already. After all, it is always the uncertainty, they say, that is the worst. Makes sense, right?

I thought so too.

For many years...decades...I lived my life this way. For today. Tomorrow was not going to come. Reckless...hasten the "bad thing" to happen already.

When Michelle and I were apart, for the first time I felt what it was to really love someone. She was gone. I had left. And I missed her and felt a pain that I never known before. The pain that I saw in her..emotionally and physically, when I communicated to her that it was time for me to move on....was something I wish but know I can never take back. But, the experience I know...however painful and regretful was, unfortunately, necessary for me.It allowed me to understand what love was...true love...and to realize it had been with me all along. That home with my wife and family is, in fact, where I belong.

When Michelle accepted me back, I felt for the first time since a small child that I was with someone that truly was never going to leave me.

We will have ups and downs in our marriage. God willing, we have another 50 years in us...and I know I can screw up a lot in a day...let a long 5 decades:).

But I also know, for the first time in my entire marriage...that I am not "missing out" on anything by being married to Michelle. Rather, I am truly when of the few lucky ones that has found the woman of my dreams...loves her...is in love with her...and--is loved by her. It is an honor to be her husband and represent our family. An honor that I now take seriously and will protect it from all threats, at any cost.

My wife's prayers have been answered. It has been a long journey, but now--we can take the rest of it (truly) together.


Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Love Dare- Day Twenty Two

I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness.  Then you will know the Lord. – Hosea 2:20

As Christians, love is the basis of our whole identity.  Our spiritual rebirth came about because “God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

When asked to clarify what the greatest commandments of all were, Jesus answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart … your soul … your strength … your mind … and your neighbor as yourself” (Luke 10:27).

Our love for each other is supposed to be how people distinguish us as Christ’s disciples (John 13:35).  It is the root and ground of our existence (Ephesians 3:17), meant to be expressed with passion and fervency (1 Peter 4:8).  It is a quality that we are to “abound” in more and more (1 Thessalonians 3:12), always getting better at it, becoming increasingly defined by it.

So if love is what we were created to share, what do you do when your love is rejected?  How do you handle it when the one to whom you’ve pledged your life stops accepting the love you’re called to give?

The account of prophet Hosea is one of the most remarkable in the Bible.  Against all logic and propriety, God instructed him to marry a prostitute.  He wanted Hosea’s marriage to show what Heaven’s unconditional love looks like towards us.  Hosea’s union with Gomer produced three children but, as expected, this woman who had long made her living in immorality was not content to stay faithful to one man.  So Hosea was left to deal with a broken heart and the shame of abandonment.

He had loved her, but she had spurned his love.  They had grown close, but now she had been disloyal and adulterous, rejecting him for the lust of total strangers.

Time passed, and God spoke to Hosea again.  God told him to go and reaffirm his love for this woman who had been repeatedly unfaithful.  This time she had reached a new low and had to be bought off the slave block, but Hosea paid the price for her redemption and bought her home.  Yes, she had treated his love with contempt.  She had dealt treacherously with his heart.  But he welcomed her back into his life, expressing an unconditional love.

This is a true story, but it was used as a picture of God’s love for us.  He showers His favor on us without measure, though in return we often don’t pay attention.  At times we have acted shamefully and deemed His love an intrusion, as if it’s keeping us from what we really want.  We have rejected Him in many ways – even after receiving His gift of eternal salvation – and yet He still loves us.  He still remains faithful.

Even so, His love doesn’t keep Him from calling us to account for our mistreatment of Him.  We pay more of a price for our rejection than we often realize.  Yet He still chooses to respond with grace and mercy.  “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace” (Ephesians 1:7).  In Him we have the model of what rejected love does.  It stays faithful.

Jesus called us to this kind of love in the passage known as the Sermon on the Mount.  He said to “love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you” (Luke 6:27-28).

"If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you?  For even sinners love those who love them.  If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you?  For even sinners do the same"  (Luke 6:32-33).

"Love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men" (Luke 6:35).

From the vantage point of the wedding altar, you would never have dreamed that the person you married might later become to you a kind of "enemy," one you would need to love as an act of almost total sacrifice.  And yet far too often in marriage, the relationship does indeed dwindle down to that level.  Even to the point of betrayal or, sadly, to unfaithfulness.

For many, this is the beginning of the end.  Some respond by rapidly moving toward a tragic divorce.  Others, more protective of their reputation than even their own happiness, decide to keep the charade going.  But they have no intention of liking it--much less of loving each other again.

This is not the model, however for the follower of Christ.  If love is to be like His, it must love even when its overtures are returned unwanted.  And for your love to be like that, it must be His love to begin with.

You can give undeserved love to your spouse because God gave undeserved love to you--repeatedly, enduringly.  Love is often expressed the most to those who deserve it the least.

Ask Him to fill you with the kind of love only He can provide, then purpose to give it to your mate in a way that reflects your gratefulness to God for loving you.  That's the beauty of redeeming love.  That's the power of faithfulness.

Today's Dare
Love is a choice, not a feeling.  It is an initiated action, not a knee-jerk reaction.  Choose today to be committed to love even if your spouse has lost most of their interest in receiving it.  Say to them today in words similar to these, "I love you.  Period.  I choose to love you even if you don't love me in return."

I have chosen the faithful way. (Psalm 119:30)

This is a very powerful chapter for me and the story of Hosea is one I was not aware of.  What true love God demonstrates to us and what true faith Hosea demonstrated to God when he did what he was told to do.  I ended up reading the story of Hosea and Gomer so I had a full understanding of it.

First Hosea was told to marry a sinner, one who was a known prostitute.  After they had their children she could not fight off the demons and left him and her kids and went back to being a prostitute.  God told Hosea to go and bring his wife back from her sins and love her and forgiver her and show her unconditional love as HE shows us.  When Hosea found his wife she was being sold as a prostitute and he had to buy her.  Hosea told his wife Gomer he loved her and she was to come home and never share herself with another again.  That unconditional love Hosea showed his wife is so powerful to me and so moving, I was almost in tears reading the story yesterday.

In my hubby's blog yesterday  http://michellegalvan.blogspot.com/2013/05/the-love-dare-day-twenty-one.html

 My hubby stated "I have an amazing, supportive, tolerant wife."  I do not think I am tolerant, I think being tolerant is giving the impression that I allow things to happen, I tolerate behaviors when in reality that is not the case.  I do not tolerate certain things in my marriage but what I have learned to be is forgiving.  This is the message that I try and express to my hubby. I will not tolerate certain behaviors but I will forgive them with the promise of change.  I feel Hosea was the same way, he forgave to show his love for his wife and for God and that is what I do in my marriage.  I want my hubby to know and feel unconditional love given to me by the grace of God.

Marriage is hard.  It takes work.  There is not one day that you can just let your marriage be on idle.  Just like you work hard at work and you give it all you got to get to the next promotion or achieve the next bonus you have to do this in your marriage.  So many of my friends just think they can get married and live happily ever after but it doesn't work that way.  We spend weeks, months and sometimes years learning about our partners and learning their ins and outs why when we get married do we think the work is over?  Why do we think we can just lay around on the couch and pass gas and scratch ourselves?  (No, my hubby does not do this.. I am referring to my friend who has a husband who does) We should want to be at our very best IN the marriage so that we can keep that love and desire between us alive and fulfilling for both. This is when the REAL work should begin.

I have taken to read the Book of Proverbs, one chapter a day.  Today was chapter 2 and it just confirmed my reading from the Love Dare yesterday:

My son, if you accept my words
    and store up my commands within you,
turning your ear to wisdom
    and applying your heart to understanding—
indeed, if you call out for insight
    and cry aloud for understanding,
and if you look for it as for silver
    and search for it as for hidden treasure,
then you will understand the fear of the Lord
    and find the knowledge of God.
For the Lord gives wisdom;
    from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.
He holds success in store for the upright,
    he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless,
for he guards the course of the just
    and protects the way of his faithful ones.

Love is a choice, not a feeling.  I choose to love and to continue to love my hubby for all the days of my life and with that love I will work to grow into a better wife, mother, child of God and leader of family and friends.  I only have one life and only have one true love in this life and I am going to do whatever it takes to honor, protect and value that love.


I have chosen the faithful way. (Psalm 119:30)

For me, this scripture has strength in its simplicity. I have indeed chosen the faithful way.

When we first read this statement, I think many of us think of the obvious--being physically faithful to our spouse; fidelity. While this is certainly part of it, I also believe this statement means much more than this. It means, to me, "the faithful way"--our thoughts, words, deeds, and actions. We have all been in situations where someone is being friendly, even flirtatious. This is, I believe, a natural part of life.

I have learned, however, that it being faithful to my wife, I respect and honor in her in everything I do. I can't stop people from being flirtatious. I can, however, control how I react...ensure that I react in a way that honors my wife, my family, and ultimately myself.

My wife has told me over the years, although it admittedly took several years for me to grasp and embrace the concept, that what each one of us does reflects on the other. I understand and remind myself that Michelle and I are one. I love her unconditionally. When I disrespect her, I am also disrespecting myself. What I do or don't do, is a reflection on her, just as what she does or doesn't do is a reflection on me. We are truly one, united under God.

I too choose to love my wife. I choose to value and respect her. She is my best friend and confidant. She loves me for who and what I am. For the reason, I strive to be the best  husband, father, and man I can be.

To me, this is truly choosing the faithful way.

~ Joseph

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

A Bucket List

 A Bucket List

Today it came to my attention my friend Kathy, who died last October, had a bucket list saved on her phone.  Apparently her mother found it after she passed.  I am always interested in learning new things about Kathy.  Some may find it morbid to seek out and learn things about your dead friend but for me it eases the pain of losing her.  I regret not knowing her more and I regret not having more time to spend with her.  I honestly thought her and I would be a part of each others lives, thus giving me more time to find out about her past, her dreams and experiencing her future with her.  She use to talk to me about what she wanted to do for a career, about how she wanted to live her life and how she wanted to have kids.  She would tell me about some of the dreams she had for traveling but there was still so much more to her that I wanted to learn, if only I would have been given the time.  I am grateful that her parents allow me into some private areas of their daughter’s life and I am grateful her mother will share things about Kathy with me, like this bucket list.  It helps with the pain, it helps me represent her better for the foundation and frankly it helps me keep her spirit alive around me.  I feel like sometimes I am her voice, and Kathy isn't done talking yet.

Her mother sent me the bucket list tonight while I was at the gym.  As soon as I got home, and when I had a quiet moment alone, I took a few minutes to read it.  Her list got me wondering, when did she make this bucket list?  Did she make it after she was diagnosed, did she make it after treatments when they thought they got all the cancer, or did she make it when she knew she was really going to die… and soon.  Then I got to thinking about my own bucket list.  

I have never made a bucket list.  Sure, I have heard people talk about their bucket list and things they wanted to do before they die but it never occurred to me that I should make one. I always thought it was kind of silly to have a bucket list, if you want to live your life then do it.  But now that I see Kathy’s bucket list I can understand what it really means.
Her list describes aspirations for herself, dreams of travel, dreams of what the kind of person she wanted to be and dreams of the life she wanted to live.  It was more than a list of silly or crazy things to do, each one of hers has a true meaning behind them and a true beauty that comes forth with each one.  It reminded me of the beauty and grace that she had when she was in the living and it reminds me of the unspeakable beauty and grace she has now in the Heavens.  Her list also gives me a starting point to my own list and a starting point on some things I can accomplish for Kathy.

I don't know what will come of Kathy's list, I do not know what will go on mine or become of mine but what I do know is life is simple.  You live and you die.  You love and you lose.  You have happiness and you have pain.  You have joy and you have sadness.  You have triumph and you have defeat.  No one is any better than anyone else and no one incapable of achieving what they set out to achieve.

I am going to make a bucket list.  I can only hope that when I am dead and gone that my family will be able to look back on it and remember me as fondly as I do when I read Kathy's and by the grace of God I will be given the years needed to accomplish mine, and some of hers.

Do you have a bucket list?

Here is a trailer from a movie a few years back.  I love both of the main actors but never thought to watch it.  I think now I will watch it.