Musings From A Musical Mind

Archive for the ‘Wisdom’ Category

Faithful

English: Image for BBVA EAGLEs article

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My puppy puts me to shame

She is loyal

Faithful

She will not leave my side

even in the early morning when she’s hungry

She waits for me

to have my devotions

and coffee

and to fully

get up

and put my slippers on

even though it takes me

several minutes

to finally go downstairs

She does not get upset

or anxious

she trusts

and waits

 

How faithful am I?

How patient?

Can I wait?

Do I run ahead?

Anticipate?

Set my own course?

Am I willing to wait

on God

for the things

He says I must?

Can I sit

and  quietly contemplate

drink in

calm my scattered mind

and just

be faithful?

I’m tired

and need strength

I complain

fuss and fume

I need

to relax

stop the spinning

sit back

and wait.

But those who wait upon God get fresh strength. 
   They spread their wings and soar like eagles,
They run and don’t get tired, 
   they walk and don’t lag behind.  Isaiah 40:31  Message Bible

What about you?  Feeling weary?  Need some fresh strength today?  I know a source of strength that will not only renew – but help you to soar like an eagle.  Imagine running and not getting tired, walking and not lagging behind?

Yes – I think I can – I know I can – Lord help me to...wait.

God Bless

Being Left Alone

English: An anxious person

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Sometimes things just happen.  Sometimes it’s a good thing.  Sometimes it’s bad.    There are things and people added to our plans – and sometimes things and people are taken away.  There are times of happiness, comfort and safety – But  then there is a time of desolation, hurt and loss.

No one wants to feel abandoned, isolated and left behind.  While it may not happen so much when we’re young – sooner or later it does as we get older.  The same comforts, circumstances and even people in our lives, that are with us when we begin our journey, or part way through our journey – sometimes do not continue with us the rest of the way.  It is the feeling of being “left alone”.  It is difficult to understand.  But it is called life.

This week we’ve been training our 14 week old puppy, Daisy to stay home alone – without anyone here.  Training her to wait – be patient – that we will come back again – therefore reassuring her, by our return that she is not being left permanently.  It is a training for us too as we do not want her to feel lonely, brush her aside like she is not important – but at the same time we want to reduce her anxiety by the fact that we will return.  It is difficult to explain that to a puppy.

In the same way – I wonder how much our earthly anxiety is a mixture of “unnecessary worry” and “childlike anxiety” simply because we do not understand our situation and circumstances like God does.  We don’t have the ability to wait and trust that God sees the bigger picture – and that it is only for a “season” and not “forever”.  I’m sure that God must say, “I know best.  I can see everything all at once.  Trust me”  But we miss it – because we’re too busy being uncomfortable at our own perceived feeling of “being left”.  And more than that – that God doesn’t hear us or understand.

There are some lessons that can only be learned without anyone with me.  Feeling that isolation is good for me.  In anxiety I learn trust.  In feeling abandoned by my overwhelming circumstance – I learn faith.  And I also want to remain hopeful that God has all the answers to the questions I have.  That there will be a time when I understand.

And until then – I must learn the same painful lesson that our puppy must.  Being left alone is sometimes how God speaks His most powerful insights to me.  It is in that lesson, that I am stronger, more compassionate to others, and ready for God to use me again.

When was the last time you feel completely alone?  When you lost something you thought you would always have?  Did you hear God speak to you?

 

God Bless

Could You Sing This At Your Wedding And Beyond?

Yesterday our pastor spoke on a familiar passage of scripture from Ephesians 5:21-29

“Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word and to present her to himself as a radiant church without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church”

It is a powerful passage that has been abused and misused over the years.  But the point is that – just as we should take up the heart of a servant – like Jesus did for us by his demonstration and example – so husbands and wives should live in submission to each other.

If there is physical and emotional abuse – it should not be tolerated and backed up with the above scripture – as God clearly wants us to live as servants to each other.

As Stephen was talking – something stood out to me.  He said, “Husbands should be spending all of themselves on their wives.”  As a musician, my mind quickly thought of the lyrics where I had heard that terminology before:  Jon McLaughlin – “A Song You Might Hear At A Wedding”.  These song lyrics are powerful and I encourage you to listen to this great song video.  It is the beautiful expression of a man for his wife.  You will love the line “I promise to spend the rest of me on you”.  Powerful and poignant.

When was the last time you spent yourself on someone?  As a husband or wife – do you practice this each day?  Isn’t it about time?

 

God Bless

My Truth

A father and his daughter, 1923

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I’ve been watching the reality show about Ryan and Tatum O’Neil on the OWN station – the tumultuous father and daughter relationship resulting in a separation and silence for the past 25 years.  They both agreed it was time to put the past behind them and try to begin again to rebuild their lost relationship – through this series on cable.

It has been very interesting and heartbreaking at the same time.  To get a glimpse into someone’s pain is never easy – to feel hope for them as they talk and uncover much of their difficulties – and why things went so bad for them.  Through counseling, alone and together, they are getting to the deep issues which caused their separation in the first place.

But what I’ve noticed is this:  We all have our own truth.  It is ours.  

Truth cannot be negotiated or argued.  It is different for everyone.  It is something that we believe about ourselves, others and our situation.

In having my truth – I am not saying that you do not have yours as well – but my truth – is my truth.  It is my version of the story – it is what I believe in my heart of hearts.

We do damage to ourselves and others when we try to rewrite their truth for them.

When two people have different “truths” – and will not validate the other for having their own unique truth – there can be no settling of accounts – no matter how much counseling they have.  And at the end of the day – their personal truth will be all they have.

I really believe with all my heart – that all people just want to be recognized and validated for having their own truth.  No matter how weird it may sound.  Even if you think you know better and think they are ALL MESSED UP.  We want someone to say to us, “I understand.  I get how you could feel that way.  I see you”  So often we never get that response that we are seeking.

All Ryan needs from his daughter, Tatum is this:  “I see you Dad – I’m just as much to blame as you are”  And Tatum needs to hear Ryan say, “I take ownership in my part of our separation.  I made many mistakes and I’m sorry you felt abandoned”  Isn’t it too bad – they will probably never be able to really say those things to each other – too much history – too much blame – too much sadness.

I am glad to know this:   The only solid place for me to go when regarding the “truth” is Jesus. The Bible tells me that He IS the Truth and the Life.  And with so many personal “truths” out there – varying with every person on the planet – He is the only constant who never changes.  I can run to Him – feel that acknowledgment and validation from the source – the creator – who holds My past with all of its regret – the present with all of its unanswered questions – and the future with all of its secrets, not yet revealed to us.  When others shun, devalue and withhold from us – He is there holding out loving arms of truth to me.

Do you allow others to have their personal truth?  Do you feel validated from others?  Have you acknowledged Jesus to be the only real truth in your life?

God Bless

New Dream

dreams and wishes. 62/365

Image by nicole.pierce.photography ♥ via Flickr

I looked for someone

like searching in a fog

chasing after

an endless mist

straining for

that unattainable someone

or something

thinking that it would satisfy

what’s deep within

heart-sick and weary

all my efforts

came up empty

and my searching

and reaching

brought no relief

for I found

that in the searching

it was me that I found instead

alone and empty

sad and confused

“Is what I seek

my dream only?

never satisfied

why do

I continue to pursue?

Are my “dreams” just those I make up

bringing emptiness

and endless struggle

instead of fulfillment

and relief?”

And yet I searched for you

my unobtainable someone

and something

that threatened to destroy

and devour me

The one I craved

the things I craved

could be my undoing

and the searching

and dreaming for them

like a slow death

And at the end of the road

I was still there

running on empty

defeated and broken…

It was when I was at my weakest

and tired of running after

and insisting on my own way

that He came

and I heard

a still small voice

and in my confusion

and tears

which caused me to slow down

be still

and listen

that I heard Him

that voice changed me

as He reached in

and held the broken

and confused me

and finally I don’t need to know

all the reasons for before

I reluctantly surrender

and replace

all the running

and searching

for something unknown

instead of something

that does not satisfy

and begin a new path

with His dreams

and plans for me

and at the end of the road

there is no disappointment

and emptiness

or brokenness

and I have almost 

vanished from view

even though

my selfishness and pride

are still there

but they are covered

and kept in check

and it is He that is waiting

giving me

a new dream

which fulfills

and satisfies

instead of

all the things

I wanted

and thought I needed

He is giving me

much more

than I could ever dream

as He replaces my will

with new people

new things

and a new dream

 

What is your dream today?  Have you surrendered yours for His?

 

God Bless

 

 

Preparing for Absence

Greg and I are on the verge of launching our baby out into the world.  The count down has begun – he leaves for California next month.

And while we have really been “Empty Nesters”  for a while – you know what I mean – daughter Ashlee moved out 3 years ago – and from the moment Shawn had a driver’s license (on his 16th birthday) – we didn’t see much of him after that.  People think I’m kidding when I say that Shawn eats and sleeps here – sometimes.  It’s absolutely true.  It is still going to be an adjustment around here.

We have plans after Shawn leaves next month.  We are going to go into his room with gloves on and several garbage bags and begin the grueling process of fumigation and bringing normal back into chaos – the room of a teenage boy.

My car that Shawn has taken possession of the last 3 years – will once again be MINE!  A little worse for wear – but still paid for and MINE!  Did I mention that the car is MINE?  Just in case you are confused in that matter – I know that I have been.  Oh you know what I mean – you have a conversation with your teenager and you end up leaving the room muttering someone non-coherent like, “I’m right – I KNOW I am” as you feel all reality slipping from your fragile grasp.  So when I say I was confused – I really mean it.

We plan to clean the inside and outside of MY car – and fumigate it – so that it does NOT smell like a boy’s locker room.  My CD’s will finally be right where I left them – there will be no sticky stuff in the cup holder and on the seats – there will not be wrappers and other junk in MY car.  It will be left in pristine condition – just as I always have left it – BEFORE my son got his license and decided to take ownership.

We will have quiet at night when we turn in.  No more yelling or calling Shawn on the phone to get him to TURN DOWN the TV that we can hear in our bedroom.  No more late night cooking food and smelling it wafting upstairs where we are trying to sleep.  No more late showers and running water FOREVER next to our bedroom.  No more talking on the phone in the middle of the night – or hopping up the stairs and slamming doors (because he always forgets) – to wake us up.  None of that – just peaceful, blissful quiet.

Yes – we are preparing for absence – just as much as Shawn is anxious to be out on his own.  We worry just a little about how he will pay his bills – and survive out there – but we also realize that it is a part of his growing up – to be out on his own and figure it out.

I hope we have prepared him.  He is very grounded and mature for almost 20 – and most of all – he is a loving, kind and generous person – full of talent, laughter and fun – has many friends and has always landed on his feet – through rough times and setbacks.  I’m proud of him and can’t wait to see what God has next for him – as he discovers his own place in this world.  God has equipped him with a love for music and a talent that is his special gift – I’m excited to see how God will use that in him.

And so as we prepare – with a little over a month to go – we know we are also ready.

And there’s always iChat and Skype, right?

God Bless

Authenticity Or Tact? What Do You Value?

Greg and I were driving down the road the other day and we were discussing something and all of a sudden he blurted out, “This would make an excellent topic for your blog – a poll on what our society values – Authenticity Or Tact!”

To be honest – I value Authenticity.  No longer one who “stuffs” things and hides behind a smiling veneer – I want things to be told just how they are.  The old “Tell It Like It Is” – rings true to me and burns through my heart and soul.  But I also realize that with ‘telling it like it is’ – there is a personal cost.  And I also realize that Authenticity is subjective at best.

We are a society that is fast becoming desensitized to any and all forms of good manners, chivalry, being the bigger person, kindness, scruples and yes, tact.  I read about it online – through blog posts, facebook and twitter updates and I see and experience it in person – those who will not look me in the eye and say, “good morning” – or “how are you today” – or anything at all.

A few months ago I was in a Starbucks with my husband and was getting cream for my coffee and there was a man in his late twenties or early thirties standing at the bar.  I spoke a greeting to him – I’m very friendly and outgoing and usually always speak first – that was no surprise that I had to do so with him.  What surprised and even shocked me was this:  there was no response from him at all.  None.  Nada.  He did not even look at me.  Bad manners you say?  Poor breeding?  No tact?  Yes.  Sadly – all of these.   Was he being real?  Authentic?  True to himself?  Probably.  What I saw – is probably who he really is.  And no – he was not hard of hearing – he was able to talk and listen on his phone just fine.

Since I am a member of this society – and even belong to a generation that values manners and tact – to me that is rude and unacceptable.

But I am also torn.  I love to hear about people – how they really are.  No fluff – no pretense – no hiding behind a smile.  “How are you?  GREAT just GREAT!”  Doesn’t cut it anymore.  Now I know you can’t just ‘spill your guts’ to everyone and there’s a time and place for everything – but sometimes it makes me want to scream when people act like everything is okay – and their world is falling apart.

We have known people over the years – friends in fact, who seemed to have it all together and then one day – their household and relationship blew up!  No one knew about it – until after it was too late.

What does this say about us as a society?  As a Christian community?  As individuals?  It tells me this:  We do not give permission for people to be really real with us.  We hold them at an arm’s length to protect ourselves.  We think, ‘I have too much on my own plate – to deal with their junk’ – and it is felt and understood by those people that we push away.  What does “bearing each others burdens” really mean?  It means:  Listening.  It means: Praying.  It means: Getting involved.

Authenticity comes with a price tag.

Tact requires censoring yourself.

Authenticity says:  I will share my information with you even if it hurts.

Tact says:  I will not hurt you.

What do you value?  What do you think our society values?  How do we have the best of both worlds?  How can I stay true to myself and still love and value you – even if we disagree?

Something to thing about.

God Bless

To Tell The Truth

The Ten Commandments of the Mosaic Law on a mo...

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Our pastor spoke on the subject of “Truth” on Sunday.  It is part of his series on “The Ten Commandments”.  Each has been thought-provoking and has made every one of us look at these commandments in a different light.

Our small group wrestled with this subject of “truth”  last night – as we revisited the message from Sunday.

Truth is very subjective.  We each have a unique way of looking at events – past and present.  We have a way of justifying our own view-point – and even twisting facts to present ourselves in a better light.  All of us our self-centered to the core – and it’s only through the grace and love of Jesus that we have any hope at all.  Outside of Him – we mess it up pretty badly.

What is truth?

The only truth we know is the person of Jesus Christ – who is Himself the embodiment of truth – the living Word of God. Apart from Him we are destined to get it only partially right – struggling with ourselves and others until we die.

People have been wrestling with the subject of truth since the Garden of Eden.  And the enemy has been trying to twist the truth so that even we start to doubt what God really said – and what He really meant when He said it.  We twist truth just enough to justify our actions. We all do it.  And though Satan is the “Father of lies” – we need to realize something about our own nature – we lie and don’t always tell the whole truth – even when we believe we have.  And sometimes we cannot point our finger and blame him.  We don’t need to look any further than our own self for the real blame. We want something – so we twist truth to get it.  We don’t want to be blamed for something that we had a part in – so we point a finger at another person or at Satan and deflect any blame off of us.  That kind of deceit is not lost on God – He knows what the score is – even if other people are fooled – even if we have even successfully fooled ourselves.

The difference between our truth and the truth of God – is that our truth can be self-centered and twisted – God’s truth is always redemptive and without agenda.

I want it.  I will lie to get it.  I will call it truth.  I am in denial.

The Word Of God sets up boundaries for us.  If we stay within the protection of those boundaries – we live a life of truth and safety.  When we step outside of God’s protection – He will not stop us – in fact He will let us do it – it’s just not the best for us – and the fall-out is enormous and does not bring lasting peace and happiness.

Truth.  What is truth?

Bill Cosby was quoted as saying, “The only time children tell the truth is when they are in pain”  They lie to get what they want – they are just not as clever as we are.  But we all do this.  When in pain – and we are forced to “come clean” with the truth   it looks a lot differently than what we had lied to ourselves about.  And sometimes saying and speaking the truth is lonely and misunderstood.  It’s not always comfortable.  In fact it’s down right miserable at times.  Simple truth is like that.  And some people get it and some don’t.

Jesus knew this.  There were those in His time that did not get it either.  Truth was way too threatening for them.  And they had Him killed because of it.

Can we always tell the truth?  Even if it hurts to say it?  Even if we know if might split apart a relationship?  Even if it will cause repercussions among family and friends?  Do I strive to live in truth?  To say only the things that are redemptive and good?  To live a life of honor and transparency?  Not always.  I’ve blown it – just like you.  But I want to model my life after Christ’s example – and it’s a start to come clean with what the truth really is – and not be satisfied with “half-truths” and “gossip” about others just to make myself appear better.

But striving to Live in truth is the only way to live.  And some day I hope to arrive there.

God Bless

Below enjoy a song from John Mayer “Say what you need to say” – one of my favorites – follow the link to “Watch this on youtube”

Is Your Guard Up? Should It Be?

Signature of Eleanor Roosevelt.

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If someone betrays you once, it’s their fault; if they betray you twice, it’s your fault. ~Eleanor Roosevelt

 

We are really big into “self-protection” these days.  When someone hurts us – the first thing that we want to do is either lash back at them – or run, duck and cover.  And while neither of these options are good choices and ultimately can leave a residual effect that follows you for years – it is good to know just how to handle your emotions when this does happen – if it has not happened – wait for it.  It will.

We all have people and situations in our lives that bring us distress.  Life is made up of imperfect human beings – from different backgrounds and families.  To expect that everyone is like “me” – is unrealistic – and yet somehow we expect that people will act and react like us.

Betrayal can come in many different forms.  The most important thing that I can do is to keep my own heart from bitterness and wrong motive.  How do I do this?

1.  Be more concerned about relationship than about being right How often have I felt justified to tell someone off – knowing they were DEAD WRONG and I was RIGHT?  Holding my tongue was hard in those situations – but it also  quickly diffused a very sticky situation.  Words cannot be retracted – even with theatrical apologies.  We have a funny and uncanny way of remembering.  Words remain imprinted on the mind.  Therefore – be slow to speak – careful to weigh each word and keep the relationship at the top of the priority list.  If you HAVE to speak – do it carefully and with a lot of love.

2. Be the first to forgive Not easy to do.  It writes and sings well – but putting that into everyday practice takes an act of my will. And living it day after day especially after I’ve said that I forgive – is even more difficult when things pop up from time to time that remind me of a nasty situation.

3. Maintain a standard of right behavior and don’t lower your behavior to compensate for others who don’t get it. We must model right behavior to others.  Retaliation and the “blame game” is a junior high tactic that never worked very well when we WERE in junior high.  Don’t resort to this as an adult – it never works – and makes you appear “smaller” to others.

4. Be loving – but not gullible. I’m guilty of this one.  Where is the line?  It’s hard to detect it sometimes.  I have learned a lot – but have still not arrived.  I love to get involved with people and hear about their lives, dreams, goals etc.  I find it fascinating.  I empathize with hurting and broken people.  I’ve been told that I am naive and can be “played” – or at least that is what has happened on occasion.  I’m wiser now and have learned a lesson or two about just whom I can have close to me or whom I can confide in, etc.  It is like walking a “tightrope” for me – because I love to engage with people and believe that God made me like this for a reason.  But gullible I am not – at least I have had to work very hard at it.

5. Accept that others will sometimes get it wrong – misjudge, jump to conclusions or turn away based on faulty information. Even Jesus was misjudged, treated badly and betrayed.  He is our ultimate example.  He still loved – He still gave – He did not compromise Himself – He did not blame or try to deflect – He was who He was – and even though others treated Him badly and ultimately had Him killed – He never tried to defend Himself, was never nasty to anyone – He told it like it was – that is all.  He lived a life of love and acceptance of others – giving freely of Himself.

6. Always believe the best in people – even when they betray Again Jesus is our great example here.  Jesus trained 12 men while He walked this earth.  He knew they were only human and that some of them would turn away – He even knew about Judas betraying Him – and Peter denying Him before they did it.  Still He believed the best for them and prayed for them. He lovingly restored Peter.  How much more should we be able to forgive, believe the best and want to restore others to a healthy relationship with God and with us?

7. Find your worth and value in God alone I am in trouble the minute I have an expectation in someone and they let me down.  Or they do not validate me like I think I deserve to be – or worse yet – they betray me.  My worth is not based on what someone else thinks of me, says about me – or does to me. My worth and value come from God alone. When I remember this – it puts everything into perspective for me.  Since I am highly valued by God – I can risk loving you too. There is no fear in stepping out and doing the right thing – because God LOVES ME.  I am valuable to Him – He made me exactly like I am – and no one is just like me!  There’s freedom in that!

8. Live a peaceful life – do not spin in other people’s drama How many times to we spin with things we should not?  We get involved in other people’s lives in such a way that it is unhealthy for us and our family?  We press in – where we have no business.  Some things we need to walk away from – in order to have peace in our homes – and that includes good friends and family.  Jesus bring peace to us and wants us to find that rest – He doesn’t call us to “spin” – but to be peacemakers in a lost and dying world.  When we have peace and are restful spirits – we can minister to others in a more effective way.

9. Love your family and friends God has entrusted us with our spouse and our children.  They are precious “gifts”.  We are called to support and love them.  God also gives us the “gift” of friendship too – those who do not HAVE to love us and be in our world – they choose to be.  Be a good friend and it will be returned.

10. Be trustworthy When someone confides in you – BE TRUSTWORTHY.  “Loose lips sink ships” was a phrase during WWII – and the enemy was able to break down our defenses because people “talked”.  I take a confidence very seriously and I hope you do too.  I have risked telling someone close to me too much about my personal stuff – only to have it told to someone who I did NOT want to know anything about it.  It was horrible and painful and now it has made me wiser and much more determined to be a trustworthy friend.  I hope your friends and family can trust you.  I love it when people just know they can come to me about anything and that I will pray for them – but most of all – I will keep it to myself.

 

Remember – like Eleanor Roosevelt said above – be careful – guard yourself and take precautions – once is “shame on them” – but after that – it’s “shame on me”.  Can you keep your guard up – and still love?  Yes.

 

God Bless

Are You Vulnerable?

Vector image of two human figures with hands i...

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Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.

Proverbs 4:23

Our pastor spoke on the seventh commandment this last Sunday.  And then we discussed it last night in our small group.

This is a difficult subject to address – especially in a society where the rate of divorce is about 50% – which means 1 out of every 2 marriages will fail – if left untreated.

We seem to be a society that doesn’t care to address the issue of adultery – especially in the church.  We know that people fail – even high-profile ministers and staff members.  They were not guarding their heart – or protecting their “blind spot”.  But why it happens in the first place – is quickly swept under the rug.  We seem quick to want to usher them into counseling and not want an embarrassment for the church in any way. The church seems ill-equipped to handle the growing problem of adultery and just why it happens so much.   The epidemic seems to be no respecter of persons. Women fall into this almost as much as men do – and for very different reasons.

It is so simple to quote scriptures and to think we have guarded our hearts – before we’re married – or even when we are married – but  this “secret sin” is a heart problem and not a quick fix.  And it has been a problem since the beginning of time when sin entered the world.

We have many friends in our circle who have either found themselves a victim of a spouse having an affair and leaving – or committed this themselves and are now in another relationship and marriage.  It is easy to pass judgment and even try to “play God” with them – thinking that because nothing has happened like that to us – we are somehow superior.  I grow up thinking that someone falling into a moral temptation or failure was somehow very weak spiritually – wasn’t reading their Bible or praying everyday.  Now I know that although these spiritual disciplines are good for us – it does not guarantee our safety.  And I don’t think being weak spiritually is the problem – nor do I think it is the work of Satan – although he certainly is in the business of destroying lives.

I believe it is a heart issue.  The Bible says that our heart is “deceitfully wicked”  in other words – we are self-centered to the core and want our own way!  We wrestle with our own selfish motives in about every aspect of our lives.  The flesh DOES NOT like to be told “NO”!  It takes that renewing of the mind that David talks about in the Psalms in order for us to resist temptation – and even then, temptation is very strong.

We also have to realize that some have been a recipient of a failed marriage – or a moral failure of some kind.   And sometimes even though someone has failed in a marriage – is truly remorseful and wanting to begin again – the spouse will not reconcile. We have a way of holding these victims of un-forgiveness as “prisoners” – thinking that somehow we need to make them pay!  Like it’s our job or something.  Lord help us!  Let’s be compassionate – none of us is above temptation.  We might be one that fails in some way – let’s treat others with love and mercy – we may need it someday!

I believe we need better education in marriages – and an understanding of what things are likely to happen – if we are not guarded.

It is easy to take your spouse for granted.  We’ve all heard the cliché’s “He doesn’t see me anymore” or “She doesn’t appreciate me” – and soon a very magical thing happens – someone else does. It is easy to let this happen.  Usually it is not a IN YOUR FACE kind of moment with someone else.  No.  It’s very subtle and starts out very innocently.  It’s usually a trusted friend – or someone you work with and spend a lot of time with.  It’s usually a heart connection – you find that this person makes you feel good about yourself again.  This person makes you laugh and makes you feel young.  There is usually a moment when something changes in the relationship – you sense something is different and you find yourself being drawn to them and wanting to spend more time with them – even getting defensive and protective about them – and you find you’ve crossed the line into the emotions and the heart.  You care about them.  Really care.

At this point you have a choice.  You can continue – or you can turn away.  Hard as that may be.  Now here’s the dicey part of the equation:  Sometimes there isn’t a firm foundation in your already struggling marriage relationship – and there is nothing to go back to. That isn’t always the case – but for the majority of cases – I think it is.  Most people don’t stray from their marriage unless something is seriously lacking in their own. This is not an excuse – simply reality.

So adultery happens because it is a choice – and seems like the better alternative in comparison to what is not waiting for them at home.  Those that have found themselves in the throes of this emotional decision usually weigh the good and the bad – and in the end – knowing it will cause all sorts of personal and emotional problems – they do it anyway. You pass the point of no return.

I’m not making excuses for them – and after some soul-searching  when the bottom drops out for these people – neither are they. They know very well what they have done.  It is against the natural order that God has set up – as protection for our heart and lives.  And they know that.  Ask anyone who has failed in this area – even emotionally and they will tell you it is a horrible pain that you never recover from – the guilt, remorse, pain of losing friends and family – even children because of their decision is a terrible thing and worse punishment than any man could inflict on them.

God does forgive – that’s the good news.  No one is safe from sin.  We are all capable of making really bad choices in life – and then having to live with them – even after God has forgiven us. Look at the life of King David.  He was a “man after God’s own heart” and yet he was an adulterer, a liar and a murderer.   He repented and God forgave him – but there were still consequences to his actions – and they followed him the rest of his life.

How can we help those who have failed in this area?  Don’t shun them and treat them like they are criminals.  If they have repented before God – then who are we to judge them?  Love them and welcome them back with open arms – being kind and gracious just like Jesus is toward you when you blow it.

How can we guard our marriage?  I believe it starts with our own heart.  I believe it takes a big person to take full responsibility for his or her own actions – and not blame others for mistakes.  If you are a compassionate person who likes to reach out and help others – be wise as you listen and also as you share yourself.  Know where your weak areas are.  Do you like to help hurting people?  Does it make you feel good when they seem to respond positively to your encouragement and attention?  Are you drawn to people who are flatterers?  Do you like to be around people who make you feel good about yourself?  Especially the opposite sex?  Do you like to live close to the edge?  Careful – many a person has been burned by casually flirting with someone and opening up an area of their heart.

Be accountable to other people who you trust in your life. We have a small group that meets every week in our home – and we have pledged to be accountable to these people.  It was in my closing prayer last night that we would know for sure – that when we find ourselves in trouble – that these people will have our back and be a support and help to us during a time of temptation.

We also need to cultivate an emotional connection with our spouse.  So many times the man will think if his physical needs are being met – he doesn’t have to connect with his wife.  Wrong.  Women connect with their emotions and their hearts. They need someone who values them and meets those needs before she can bond and connect with him physically.  And as I learned in our small group last night – both men and women are capable of “withholding” as a means of control.

Women need to be smart when it comes to your husband.  If you do not give him that attention he needs – both emotionally and physically – he will be vulnerable and open to flattery and connection with someone else. And Men – you need to be smart too – if she isn’t connecting with you – someone else will be glad to step in and connect with her.  Don’t let that happen. Romance her and take care of her emotional needs.  Don’t be naive – things don’t just happen. A good marriage is no exception.  A marriage will go through many different seasons – if you are not willing to change and adapt – it is just not simply enough to say – “We made a promise many years ago”.  That promise can be broken by as simple a thing as neglect.  I’ve seen it happen many, many, MANY times over the years.

Find a way to connect with your spouse today – cultivate romance, caring, understanding and friendship in your relationship.  Put all your energies into making your marriage better – and if you have failed in this area and find yourself in a new relationship due to circumstances either out of your control – or because of your own choices – guard your already fragile  heart. Cultivate boundaries and protection around your heart – and begin again with your spouse in forgiveness.

God Bless

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