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Did You Know Marriage Takes Work?

 

Rich and I have been married 41 years this May. There have been great times filled with joy, growth and love. And there have been times of struggle and pain. There have been times when we’ve hurt each other deeply.  There have been times when we’ve blessed each other immensely.

Mom and Dad cancerIt helps to know that we have had strong mentor roles in both of our parents who cared for each other and stayed by each other through very difficult times. For example, in 2002 both of my parents were diagnosed with cancer in the salivary gland within 4 weeks of each other. I watched them devote themselves to care and love each other through the difficult times of chemo, radiation, meds and health changes.

I saw my mother-in-law struggle with cancerearl and betty laughing of the stomach, liver, lungs and bone for five years while my father-in-law encouraged, supported and cared for her. Then my mom struggled with the debilitating effects of Parkinsons disease and dementia, and my dad showed a level of care and patience for her I never had seen before. When my mother-in-law was diagnosed with multiple system atrophy where the muscles in her body progressively shut down, I saw the love and commitment to God shine through my father-in-law as he devotedly cared for her. There were days I’m sure both dads wanted to just cry out “Why?” or “How Long, O Lord?”.

Sometimes difficulties in marriages can be just petty things – squeezing the toothpaste differently, putting the toilet paper on the “wrong” direction, leaving dishes laying around. But other times it can be serious difficulties. Sometimes it can be withdrawal or detachment from the relationship. Illnesses, such as depression, cancer, addictions, autoimmune disorders, all can alter the way “marriage is supposed to be”.

In the past few years Rich and I have been going through some challenging times. Through these difficulties, God has brought us closer and closer to Him. We have both found strength, comfort and encouragement from His word. We both work hard at spending time meditating on a small portion of God’s word so that it gives us hope, encouragement and guidance for our journey together. I guess that may be why when I was reading Romans 12:9-10 [New Living Translation] verse 10 really struck me:

Bleeding Heart

Delight in Honoring each other Rom 12 10b

Wow! Have I really loved Rich with GENUINE AFFECTION – God’s unfailing and unconditional love type of affection – especially when life has been difficult and Rich hasn’t lived up to my expectations? And then even more so – Do I really take delight in honoring him?

If something Rich did hurt me deeply, do I pretend to love him, or do I still really love him? And can I, through God’s leading, hate what is wrong and hold tightly to what is good about him?

This passage has really challenged me in the past few days to keep my focus on loving Rich with God’s unconditional love –

“Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good.  Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. ”       ~ Romans 12:9-10 NLT

You know, when we put our hope and trust in God, we are filled with His unfailing love. And He tells us to share His unconditional, unfailing love with others. Maybe doing that should begin at home!

Praying for you as you work through your relationships, that you trust in God’s unconditional and unfailing love to guide you.  ~ From a continual work in progress – Faye

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The Gift of Love

On this journey of life, we find that the road isn’t straight and that path isn’t even. Many times there are hills to climb, canyons to cross, roots to trip over, parched deserts to cross, and more. We can’t do it alone.

God has given each of us the wonderful gift of His love. We need to spend time in God’s Word to begin to grasp a portion of how wide, long, high and deep is God’s love for each and every one of us.

Eph 3 18

God, in His infinite love, has given each one of us the gift of salvation.  All we need to do is ask God into our heart, admit we are sinners, and surrender our lives to His leading. His unconditional, unfailing, amazing love fills us with His grace.

Praying you know God’s wonderful love ~ Faye

How Wide, Long, High, and Deep …

A couple years ago my husband and I took a trip out West to enjoy God’s beautiful creation in Colorado, Utah, Arizona and Nevada.  We were privileged one evening to spend time on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon watching the sunset. It is incredible to watch the colors change in intensity in the depths of the canyon as the sun reaches into its depths and then slowly hides behind the heights of the canyon.  It was totally indescribable, magnificent! Photos are great to remember the event, but they don’t do justice to actually being there.

It  reminds me of describing to a nonbeliever the incredible love of God.  How could the Creator of the universe, know each and every person ever conceived? How can He know the number of hairs on our head? How can He write our names on His heart? He is totally indescribable! His love is beyond all knowledge or understanding. He gave His one and only Son, Jesus Christ, to die and rise again so that we may be saved and live with Him forever in eternity – inconceivable, amazing love!God's Abundant Love

Paul desires for us to have the power to understand God’s unconditional love for each one of us even though it is too great to fully understand.  In Ephesians 3:14-21 he says:

When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. I pray that from His glorious, unlimited resources He will empower you with inner strength through His Spirit.  Then Christ will make His home in your hearts as you trust in Him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong.  And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep His love is.  May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.

Now all glory to God, who is able, through His mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.  Glory to Him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen.

DSC_0202As much as it is almost impossible to SEE all of the Grand Canyon let alone hike, God’s love is so much greater. We will never fully understand it all on this earth. But oh the hope that fills this believer’s heart for the day when she will stand before God and FULLY UNDERSTAND the width and length and height and depth of my Creator, Lord and Savior.

May you have a taste of the incredible and unconditional love God has for you ~ Faye

I am linked with Missional Women

Anticipation and Unconditional Love

I was reading 1 John 4:7-21 which focuses on – God is love, God’s unconditional love. When we are filled with His love, we have to share that love with our brothers and sisters in Christ, we can’t keep it to ourselves.

As I was reading and reflecting on verses 17 and 18, I was filled with thoughts of what a wonderful blessing to even think of let alone imagine being the bride of Christ. When I read, “there is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out all fear.” All I could picture was a honeymoon night where a couple comes together for the first time – somewhat shy, with anticipation but fully in love. That love overlooks the body faults and blemishes. Being the bride of Christ, I will be able to BOLDLY and CONFIDENTLY approach the judgment day because God sees me through LOVING EYES and the GRACE of Christ’s blood shed on the cross. He doesn’t see my sinfulness. I can’t imagine what it will be like to be in the ultimate experience of unconditional love, but I am SO READY! Come, LORD Jesus, come quickly!

The real focus of those verses are very challenging, at least to me. Mark 6:31-35 tells of Jesus talking to a crowd of people when His someone said His family was outside to see Him.

Jesus asked, “Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?” Then He looked at those around Him and said, “Look, these are my mother and my brothers. Anyone who does God’s will is my brother and my sister and my mother.”

After reading that, I have to admit I have a large family in Christ that I need to be loving unconditionally. That includes loving some who have hurt me deeply. I need to surrender to God, seek His forgiveness, follow His will and leading. Then filled with His unconditional love, turn to others and love the people who are my family in Christ. I’m so grateful through God’s grace, forgiveness and love, He can change any heart – including mine.

In just a week and a half we will begin the Advent season. The anticipation of celebrating Christ’s birth and looking forward to His coming again are exciting. These thoughts fill me with longing. But then I look at verses 20-21 – “If someone says, ‘I love God,’ but hates a Christian brother or sister, that person is a liar; for if we don’t love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we cannot see? And He has given us this command: Those who love God must also love their Christian brothers and sisters.” I realize it is really easy to get excited about anticipating Christ’s return, without looking at the responsibility of changing me. I love God! I can get lost in worshiping and glorifying God. But if I really LOVE GOD, I need to be showing this openly to my brother and sister in Christ.

I like the notes from my study Bible on our love grows more perfect  (v. 17).  It doesn’t mean flawless, but mature and complete.  It doesn’t mean I will be able to love perfectly and completely unconditionally as God. However, as I mature in my relationship with God, God’s love transforms me into the person He wants me to be.

Praise God as I grow in my love of Him, my fears are set aside for judgment day. I mature in my love for my family in Christ, and I eagerly anticipate the day I am taken as His bride in heaven.

I ENJOY singing And Can It Be by Charles Wesley, particularly the last verse: 

No condemnation now I dread, for Christ, and all in Him, is mine! Alive in Him, my living Head, and clothed in righteousness divine, bold I approach the eternal throne and claim the crown through Christ my own. Amazing love, how can it be that You, my LORD, should die for me?

Enjoy the wonderful blessing of knowing we can BOLDING approach the throne of God through His Grace and LOVE!

God’s Abundant Blessings ~ Faye

http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1%20john%204:7-21&version=NLT

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