I blame the movies

I blame the movie Fireproof. Or maybe I blame the book of Job. Maybe Probably Definitely both. No…I’m sorry. It’s neither.

It’s Disney! Definitely Disney, and maybe Oprah or Joel Osteen too.

What am I talking about, you ask? What, you can’t figure it out? It’s the happily ever after mentality. Think about it.

blame the movies

Okay, that’s not quite it either. But isn’t it true that we often just expect life to go “happily ever after” if we simply do the right things? I mean, just go through the Love Dare. It’ll fix your marriage. Just remain faithful. God will give you everything back that you lost. Slay the dragon, destroy the wicked witch. Be good enough. Do good enough. Everything will fall into place – almost magically. Aren’t there plenty of biblical, fictional, and even life examples of this? So what’s the problem? Why doesn’t it work for me!?! Why isn’t it working for my friends, for those I pray for regularly, for my own family??? Why does divorce still happen? Why do bad things happen to good people?

Why isn’t my life easier?

These are just a few of the questions I hurl toward God, sometimes with no small amount of animosity. I see my friends who are hurting, whose lives, marriages, families, careers are just falling apart. I can’t help but wonder...

How can God let this stuff happen?

Did you notice what I said at the beginning, though? I didn’t say I blame God. And I don’t really blame those other things either. Romans 3:23 says “the wages of sin is death.” Okay, is it just me, or does it bug you that the sentence structure of this passage doesn’t jive? Shouldn’t it say the wage (singular) of sin is death? Maybe not. Because I must admit, I’ve seen a lot of death so far in my lifetime. And not just physical death. Relationships die. Dreams die. Everything around me is in a perpetual state of decay and headed toward death. That’s the ripple effect of sin. My sin.

I heard it said recently: “Today’s difficulties are often the result of yesterday’s disobedience.”

And I know. Every mess in my life and every mess I see around me is a result of one thing: sin. But sometimes my difficulties are not a direct result of my disobedience. Sometimes – or maybe often – it’s someone else’s sin that has encroached upon my life. And I have no control over that. And it makes me mad, sad, upset, depressed. Even despondent sometimes. Not often would I ever just “cherry pick” one verse out of scripture, out of context, and then use it for my own purposes. But one verse really grabbed my attention recently. In John 13:7, Jesus makes the statement “What I do you do not realize now, but you will understand hereafter.” I encourage you to read the context of that statement for yourself. I think you’ll decide that my application is appropriate and within the context of what Jesus was really communicating in that moment.

There are just gonna be times when life doesn’t make sense.

Sometimes I think we make life more difficult than it has to be. In fact, another quote (origin unknown) that I’ve latched onto is this one:

“Life wouldn’t be so difficult if we didn’t expect it to be so easy.”

I recently watched a movie about a tough topic – a young child experiencing the effects of her parents’ own selfishness and subsequent divorce. The movie was chaotic, harsh, and troublesome. And then, there was no “happily ever after.” The movie just ended. What? They didn’t package it up all nice with a big red bow? Actually, I was very relieved. I didn’t want it to end well. I didn’t want the writers or producers to make light of this seriously difficult situation! That’s just not reality. The wages of sin IS death! Every conceivable form of death. But as Jesus said, one day we will understand. We will come to the full realization of what Christ’s humble life of servanthood, most shameful death, His burial, and His resurrection were all about!

“What I do you do not realize now, but you will understand hereafter.” ~ Jesus in John 13:7

 

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Putting the Pieces Back Together

I had run so far away. I had no one to turn to. Making matters worse, I found out I was pregnant. I was abandoned by my boyfriend and had a strained relationship with my parents. WHAT A MESS I HAD MADE! Putting the Pieces Back Together

I felt like God had failed me because my grandfather walked out on us all. I was under so much stress I thought I was going to lose my mind and began to have warning signs of problems in the pregnancy. Being the black sheep in the family and having no one to call, I called my grandfather. We hadn’t spoken but twice during the previous three years and I didn’t know if he would even talk to me.

As I began to tell him what was going on, he immediately said that "we" would be there as soon as possible. I had mixed feelings about the WE, because I knew that included his new wife and child. I still do not know how they got to me so quickly that night! They put their arms around me, loved me, and told me everything was going to be okay. I wasn’t so sure... how was I going to raise a child on my own? They convinced me to move in with them so they could help me.

Granddaddy made the dreaded phone call to my mom letting her know I was pregnant. I will never know what was said during that conversation, but things started to slowly change for us all after that call. We began talking and relationships began to mend. It was awkward at times, but God was at work. When I had the baby, my family was there with me. Several life changing things happened that weekend...

First, I became a mother receiving the beautiful gift of a baby boy. I saw a broken family joined together celebrating this new gift of new life. Hope for a brighter future entered my soul.

Next, my parents asked me to come back home so they could help me.

Lastly, my parents' pastor and his family came to visit me at the hospital. It was their first Sunday as pastor and they had never met me, however, they came and LOVED me. This display of God’s love began to break through the walls around my heart and reminded me of who I really am…a daughter of the King!

Days were not always easy and I felt so ashamed of the mess I had made. I moved back home and began putting the broken pieces back together. People encouraged me, accepted my child and me, and prayed for us. I rededicated my life to Christ and we continued to heal. I felt like the prodigal son in Luke 15:11-32.

Take a look at some of the things shown in these scriptures as it applies to all prodigals.

The younger one said to his father, Father; give me my share of the estate! ~Luke 15:12

The first signs of trouble in our lives come when we focus on ourselves and what we believe we are entitled to have. OUCH, that hurts! For me, it was my grandfather had failed and God allowed it to happen. I deserved better, I deserved to do what I wanted to do. I took what I thought was MINE and ran straight into trouble, just like the prodigal son.

He ran away, lived wildly, began to be in need, hired himself out...no one gave him anything. ~ from Luke 15:13-16

Prodigal living focuses only on yourself and the result is losing everything. I needed something so desperately to fill the void and I sold myself…right into the hands of Satan and he gave me NOTHING but DESTRUCTION. The void grew!

But when he came to his SENSES!!! ~Luke 15:17

Isn’t this what many of us are waiting on in our lives? Waiting for someone to wake up and smell the coffee? If I could only knock some sense into them... Notice, though, that when the prodigal was at rock bottom he began to realize even the servants at home were better off than he was. He had a GOD moment. Sometimes, you have to hit rock bottom before you come to your senses!

When he noticed his son from afar…the father planned a HOMECOMING. ~ from Luke 15:21-24

The father gave his son the best robe and put a ring on his finger. How many times have we acted selfishly when someone asks us to forgive them? How many times do we respond with the attitude of the prodigal’s brother? I encourage you to praise a prodigal on their return. My family encouraged and empowered me to make positive changes.

The father responds with love to the angry son. ~ from Luke 15:31-32.

You see, I was once dead, broken, destructive and wild. I squandered everything that was mine and sat in the pig slops alone… BUT through the love of others, the prayers of the faithful, and the revelation of God’s truth, I AM ALIVE AGAIN! We are blessed to have a father who loves us no matter what and rejoices in our homecoming!

This Father's love helped me put the pieces of my broken life together and gave me the strength to share this life changing love with others. I encourage you today to LOVE everyone…especially the broken. Love the prodigals, show them unconditional love that only comes from Jesus. It’s through Love the lost are found, the dead are raised, and the pieces are molded back together into the beautiful image of God.

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My Two Dads: A Double Portion

As I pray for restoration of one area in my life, I am reminded of how much God desires restoration in all areas of our lives.  Before my husband and I separated, over a year ago, I had not set foot in my dad’s house for three years. After my mother (the love of his life) died, he remarried. It was not a good situation and my brothers and I became estranged from my dad. We rarely saw him, which was a complete change of how close we used to be as a family. Restoration When I started this restoration journey for my own marriage and family, I began to see God work in all the other fractured parts of my life. Soon after my husband and I separated, my dad re-entered our lives.  I hadn't even realized what a profound affect this was having in my heart and marriage. As my heart was filled with love from a father to a daughter, I felt myself begin to ‘grow up’.  As I began to experience healing in this area, I was able to begin to relate to my husband less as the ‘wounded little girl’ and more as a ‘grown woman and wife’.  As my relationship with my earthly father improved, so did my understanding of my Heavenly Father.

There was going to be more to God’s amazing redemptive power and desire for wholeness in my life than just this though. You see, the story of the relationship with my father goes beyond three years of estrangement. It starts with my birth. For the first half of my childhood, I thought I was brown. My dad is of Latino descent, my mother is white. One evening, my mother shared with me that my dad was not my biological father. They began dating when my mom was pregnant with me, at 17 years old.

It would take me decades to realize how much the technicality of my biological origins impacted my soul and every other aspect of my life. I was in denial for years that there was a deep ache in my heart and unanswered questions about my identity. Again, during this marital separation, God would show me, how much He desires restoration and wholeness for every part—even the parts we swear never affected us, the parts that seem impossible to reconcile.

I turned 40 this past April. Maybe a week later, I received a message on Face Book…from my biological father, Alan. He offered condolences on the passing of my mother and indicated a desire to be in my life. God had been working on my heart, all this time, in such a way, that I was ready and willing to accept this man into my life, ‘As Is’.  A man, a father, I never knew, suddenly here, like the missing piece of a puzzle that I didn’t even have the picture to compare—that I would never have known how to put together. But God knew. He knew the timing. He knew what I needed, even before I did.

I never would have, nor could have, imagined I would ever meet this man. My dad (who raised me) was enough in my life. He is an awesome dad and did his best. Suddenly, there was this healing. No longer was my identity of one who was ‘rejected’ but one who was ‘chosen’. My dad chose to raise and love me as his own, regardless of biology. Now, no longer was I ‘forgotten’ but ‘remembered’. My biological father never forgot me or my existence and he sought me out. God has given me an opportunity that I know many never have.

double portionHow could I reject it? There was no feeling of resentment or bitterness or anger. Only healing, forgiveness and openness to what God wanted to do with this. I still can’t believe it when I look at it myself. A life time of inner struggle and striving to figure out and be who I am meant to be, and here I am.

How blessed am I to have not one, but now TWO dads in my life. TWO men that both claim to love and care about me. Prayers for restoration are never only about a situation or just a marriage or one relationship. Restoration goes beyond that. God desires to restore our very souls. The deep hidden places we sometimes can’t even admit exist. But He knows.  He keeps His promises and He is always working...above and beyond what we could ever possibly imagine. I know it won’t stop there either. I can’t help but be excited and look forward to the day my marriage is made whole too. Keep praying.

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