Sunday, April 27, 2014

A Saved Marriage - Mine!

In honor of Bert's and mine upcoming 8th(!) Wedding Anniversary, I am re-posting stories (one this week and another one two weeks from now) about some of the struggles - and miracles - Bert and I experienced in our marriage. I think you will easily see why I consider these two posts my favorites!

After reading our stories, please feel free to leave a comment sharing your stories; including how Bert and I (and our readers) can encourage you.
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A Saved Marriage - Mine!

Bert sat in his chair in our living room without turning on the television. Whenever he does that, I know something is on his mind. But I wasn’t expecting, “I’m not happy in this marriage.”

The words punched me in my stomach. I was so stunned that I couldn’t answer; but my thoughts screamed, Neither am I!
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For years, Bert and I have been having difficulties in our marriage. However, later that evening, I picked up the book, Love & Respect, with the intent of finishing it this time. As I began to practice the principles presented in Dr. Emerson Eggerichs’ book, not only did God use it to change my behavior, but our marriage changed as well.

Now Bert and I are both becoming the spouses we always wanted to be. He asked me to forgive him for the years of rejection, and I asked him to forgive my years of disrespectful behavior.

A few months later, Bert registered us to attend the Love & Respect Marriage Conference which was held this past weekend. It was fabulous!

I asked Bert what he liked most about the conference. He said “I liked the way Emerson challenged me to keep my focus on what God is calling me to do as a husband – to love you unconditionally. When Emerson acted out God (in heaven) pulling for us to succeed, it helped me to see how God is always there to help me not to react to you in an unloving way.”

My favorite moment at the conference was when Bert took my hand and led me down the aisle. We joined the other married couples to commit ourselves, before God, to love and respect our spouses unconditionally.

Did you catch it? Bert took my hand and led me – rather than me elbowing him to “please let’s do this!”

As we continue to apply what we learned from the Love & Respect book and conference, Bert and I candidly admit we have not arrived. We are a “work in progress” for sure! However, we are pleased to report: forgiving, loving and respecting each other is much easier today than when our journey first began.

My prayer:
Father, help me to lean on You and Your Word so I can continue to respect my husband, Bert, unconditionally!

Bert's prayer:
Dear Heavenly Father, please help me to remember to always love Sheryl, no matter the circumstances. Guide me to have the wisdom to appreciate her and to understand her even when we disagree. Let me always love Sheryl as myself.

This week’s goal:
This week, Bert and I commit to continue showing each other unconditional love and respect with our words, actions and thoughts. And to ask God how He would like us to reach out to other couples with the love and respect message.

What about you?
  • Do you need help in the way you speak or behave toward your husband or wife?


Ephesians 5:33 (NIV)
However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

Note: Memorizing Scripture Blog (for anyone) and the Coffee with Sheryl blog (for ladies) both have the Current Goals tab located under the blogs' headers. "Current Goals" offers several practical links including topics such as: being a better spouse or parent, choosing better eating and exercising habits, overcoming addictions, dealing with depression, etc. The Immediate Goals link (for setting task-related goals) is only available at the Coffee with Sheryl Blog

You may use pseudonyms (fake names).

Monday, April 21, 2014

Some People Die Before They Hit Bottom

Photo by Imagens Evang√©licas (Flickr) 

I will get up, go to my father, and tell him I’m sorry – that  I’m really, really sorry. Jason let out a
heavy sigh and slid down the wall to a seated position. He squeezed his eyes shut for a long moment. But after all I’ve done to him, why would he forgive me?

Then Jason sat up straighter and almost smiled (the first time he came even near to smiling in months). Talking to an empty liquor bottle, he said, “What if I go back home and ask Dad if I can sleep on the floor of the garage. I’d eat whatever leftovers they would be willing to give me.” His stomach growled in agreement. “In return, I’ll wash and wax the cars, mow the grass, clean the gutters – and do whatever other chores he gives me.”

He might just go for it. Jason stood up and punched the concrete wall just hard enough to feel it. Letting out a long sigh, he picked up his backpack, and took the first steps back home.

While still a long ways off, he could just barely see the fence that surrounded the house he once called home. He wiped  the sweat from his eyes with his sleeve, and  noticed a man hurrying toward him.“Whoa! Is that Dad? If that is him, I never saw him run so fast. He must be madder than I thought.” Jason got up and turned to flee in the opposite direction.

“Jason! Jason!! Don’t turn away. Wait for me!”

Jason didn’t know what to think, but out of sheer exhaustion and desperation, he decided to wait. As his dad got closer, sweat poured from Jason’s brow. His heart began to pound harder and harder. This is a bad idea. Maybe, I should run –

Before Jason could finish his thought, his dad threw his arms around him and hugged him very tightly.

Jason, hesitated only for a moment before he wrapped his arms around his father and hugged him very tightly, too. “Dad, I’m sorry.”

 “Son! I’ve been watching for you. Watching and waiting for you to come home!”
(This story is based on Luke 15:11-24)
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As we read a story like this, it doesn’t take us long to recall our own weak moments, does it? Perhaps this morning, you yelled at your husband or slapped your child,. Or maybe you stole an idea from your co-worker, or money from your parent’s wallet, or cheated on a test at school, or relapsed into drugs or sexual immorality.

Or maybe you’ve done something much, much worse.

Luke 15: (New American Standard Bible)
:18 I will get up and go to my father, and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in your sight.
:20 So he got up and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion for him, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.

What choices are you making that you constantly regret?

We don’t have to wait until we hit bottom before we realize we’ve got to change. Frankly, some of you may run out of time before you ever hit bottom. Your choices may kill you first!

What if:
  • While we're still in the cycle of our sinful or bad choices, instead of continually running away from, or avoiding God, we say, “I will rise and go to my Father?”
  • We allow God to throw His loving and compassionate arms around us, so He can help us break the cycle?
  • We don’t wait until we hit bottom?

Prayer:
Father, again I thank You for Your immense mercy! Instead of adding to my feelings of guilt and failure, You constantly offer compassion, love and grace. Help me to never delay coming to You when I am in need of Your strength – especially regarding the choices I make.

This week’s goal (and practical applications):
This week as I meditate on the story of the Prodigal Son, especially Luke 15:18 and 20, I will ask the Holy Spirit to remind me to get up and go to my Father even when – no, especially when – I am “still a long way off” from where I need to be.

For instance,
When I see myself caught up in sinful behavior, I will break the cycle by repenting. Instead of avoiding having my quiet time, I will go to my Father. I will spend as much time with Him as I need to throughout the day.

I will not wait to hit bottom in any situation, even in those as “minor” as behaving disrespectfully to Bert, but will seek an accountability person early in the process.

And I will be sure to select helpful Bible verses to memorize or meditate on.

What do you think? Let’s have a real conversation about this topic!
  • Will you take the first step back to your Father?
  • Please don’t let the shame you feel keep you from “facing God.”  He is waiting for you right now. Take the first step – and then picture Him running to you!

Will you do it today? Now?

Post your comments on one or more points mentioned using the comment link. Click on the Sharing Guidelines tab for instructions on how to post comments)

Note: Memorizing Scripture Blog (for anyone) and the Coffee with Sheryl blog (for ladies) both have the Current Goals tab located under the blogs' headers. "Current Goals" offers several practical links including topics such as: being a better spouse or parent, choosing better eating and exercising habits, overcoming addictions, dealing with depression, etc. The Immediate Goals link (for setting task-related goals) is only available at the Coffee with Sheryl Blog

You may use pseudonyms (fake names).


  

Monday, April 7, 2014

I Have Sinned


Photo by Kaarel Damian Tamre'   (Flickr)

I have sinned. Then why do I continually expect others to walk faultlessly around me?

I have sinned by hurting and offending others almost every day of my life. With my thoughts, my words, my attitudes and actions, I have sinned – often.

Therefore, who am I to take offense when someone lies to me, speaks ill of me, steals from me, disrespects me or rejects me? Or when they rudely disagree with me or cause me aggravation because they invaded my schedule or ignored my wishes? Not to mention, when they fail to appreciate me?

How can I dare to expect better treatment considering the fact that I do the very same things to others?

Matthew 7:12 (New American Standard Bible)
In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you.

I desire to be treated with fairness, truth, integrity, honor, acceptance and love. Therefore, is it too ridiculous that I would be required to offer the same to those around me?

What if the person who has hurt me, quickly regretted his or her actions? Have we not hurt someone, but due to our pride or shame, never found the courage to make it right? What if the person who has offended us is experiencing the same thing?

Would it be possible - could we consider - approaching offenders as good-willed people who regret their actions? How would that change our attitudes?

What if:
  • Instead of expecting to be treated perfectly by others, we strive to love and serve others as a true Christ follower, even when – rather, especially when – they aren’t “perfect” toward us?
  • Instead of returning a less than loving response, we consider how we would want to be treated? Perhaps offer a kind word or deed, a prayer or at least a smile?
  • We see those who hurt us as imperfect people, but good-willed? (Just as we desperately need others to see us?)

Prayer:
Father, You know well the number of times I’ve come to You needing mercy for the way I treat others. I pray that Your love for me (and Your love dwelling within me) will compel me to treat people the very same way You would want me to treat them! Help me to remember how much I need Your grace and to offer that same grace to those around me.

This week’s goal (and practical application):
This week, as I meditate on (with the intent to memorize) Matthew 7:12, I will ask God to help me to remember my faults and to teach me how to treat others with compassion, mercy and longsuffering.

For instance, when I catch myself becoming irritated when someone hurts or offends me, I will ask God to help me to remember my faults and to help me immediately pray for him or her. Furthermore, when applicable, I will seek a way to do something kind for that person, always keeping in mind how I would want (and need) to be treated.

In order to be ready, I will make a list ahead of time of Christlike responses I can use, such as: writing a note of apology admitting my part in the conflict, “feeding my enemy’” by baking (or buying!) a plate of brownies, or simply asking him or her how can I make things right between us.

Lastly, I will continually thank God for His longsuffering, grace, and mercy which He so graciously lavishes on me.

What do you think? Let’s have a real conversation about this topic!
  • How could these ideas change our relationships?
  • How could these thoughts change us?
  • How many times have you regretted your rude or thoughtless behavior? How would that memory – or the consequences of that moment – been altered had that person offered immediate forgiveness and grace?
Post your comments on one or more points mentioned using the comment link. Click on the Sharing Guidelines tab for instructions on how to post comments)

Note: Memorizing Scripture Blog (for anyone) and the Coffee with Sheryl blog (for ladies) both have the Current Goals tab located under the blogs' headers. "Current Goals" offers several practical links including topics such as: being a better spouse or parent, choosing better eating and exercising habits, overcoming addictions, dealing with depression, etc. The Immediate Goals link (for setting task-related goals) is only available at the Coffee with Sheryl Blog

You may use pseudonyms (fake names).
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