thoughts and words

Thoughts are the compass of your life

 For as he thinks in his heart, so is he. As one who reckons, he says to you, eat and drink, yet his heart is not with you [but is grudging the cost]. ~Proverbs 23:7

Just like the selfish person progressed in the direction of their thought pattern, we also will move in the direction of our own thoughts.  Happy thoughts progress towards better and miserable towards worse.

Nagging

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… the contentions of a wife are a continual dripping.

… better to dwell in a corner of the housetop [on the flat oriental roof, exposed to all kinds of weather] than in a house shared with a nagging, quarrelsome, and faultfinding woman.

… better to dwell in a desert land than with a contentious woman and with vexation.

… better to dwell in the corner of the housetop than to share a house with a disagreeing, quarrelsome, and scolding woman.

True, it’s hard to hear, but God told us for a reason.  I’m guessing it does more damage than we realize.  Nagging is hurtful to your husband’s ears and toxic to your marriage.  And probably doesn’t make God too happy either.

~   Let’s not be like that   ~

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Only Focus on The Good

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When the demands of a God-centered marriage contrast against the world’s view, our vision towards marriage in general, can become jaded.  When this happens it gets really hard to see marriage as a gift, much less be thankful for it.  The world calls our flesh to do what’s best for itself, to think of self first and to have its own way.

There is a temptation to want it now and to think we know what’s best instead of waiting for God’s plan to unfold. Remember, He said His ways are higher than ours and Jesus said His peace is different than the peace of the world.   Don’t look at a God-centered marriage with lenses that have been fitted to the world’s view.

When you find yourself in an emotional tight spot, sin crouching at the door of your temptation, resist the lure to think negative low thoughts about your husband.  Instead through gratitude and praise, elevate your mind to the higher things.

In their letter to the Philippians, Paul and Timothy tell them, and us, that we’ll do best by filling our minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious — the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse.

Be empowered by grace as you head into your weekend!

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POSSESSION (part 3) Courage to Possess

Possession Introduction here.  Possession (part 2) here.

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Who am I listening to?

Obstacles are about pushing past fear, and Satan knows this.  That’s why he spends so much time pushing the obstacle to block the blessing.  He knows that the more his voice focuses on the problem of the obstacle, the better chance he has of getting us to fold in fear of that obstacle.  It is simply a matter of time.  But, if we choose faith in  God rather than fear of  the obstacle, we become conquerors instead of victims.

Victim:  Fear of the obstacle

Fear is a parasite that feeds on your strength and releases toxin into your soul.  This toxin clouds your mind so you can’t think straight, and it has one purpose:  to mess with your emotions so that you end up with a victim mentality.
The Israelites learned about fear the hard way, remember?  The only ones who actually made it into Canaan were Joshua and Caleb … all the faithless complainers died (Numbers 13/14).  They were unable to conquer because they listened to the wrong counsel – the victims’ counsel.  It’s easy to recognize a victim mentality because their words always diminish.  The scouts themselves were terrified and the only way they could get the Israelites to embrace victim mentality was to convince them of just how impossible it would be to possess Canaan.  So, they gave a report that would distort the nation’s view of God’s power … the power that would have freed them to conquer as they chose obedience to God’s plan. Listen to the negative words that the spies used to cultivate fear instead of faith:

We can’t attack those people;

they’re way stronger than we are. […]

We scouted out the land from one end to the other—it’s a land that swallows people whole.

Everybody we saw was huge.

Why, we even saw the Nephilim giants.

Alongside them we felt like grasshoppers.

And they looked down on us as if we were grasshoppers.”

(Numbers 13:31-33)

 

This report was not only false – as it was directly opposite to what God had told them – but it was also malicious and designed to injure His reputation in the eyes of everyone.  The scouts slowly glided through the congregation of Israel whispering secretly to rally everyone against Joshua and Caleb.  It wasn’t that they lied, per se, they just capitalized on only one aspect of the situation.  It was slick and Satan’s fingerprint is all over it:  a lie by omission.  They told the truth, just not the whole truth.

Who am I listening to and what are they saying?

Conqueror:  Faith in God

Conquerors are people like David, Jesus and Peter. They have a power perspective not a victim view.  Goliath was a giant but David didn’t focus on that.  There were only a few fish and some bread, not enough for all the people, but Jesus didn’t focus on that.  Walk on water?  Impossible!  But Peter didn’t focus on that. (At least, not at first)  In Peter we see both choices stacked back to back.  At first he is fully engaged in the power perspective:

“Lord, if it is [really] You, Command me to come to You on the water. […] So Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water.

But then his focus shifts to the victim view:

But then he saw [the effects of] the wind, he was frightened and began to sink […].”

Shifting our focus from faith to fear will always diminish us to failure.
Caleb displayed a power perspective by challenging the Israelites to ignore the spies, “Don’t listen to these guys, it doesn’t matter what the obstacles are, whether we are grasshoppers or not, it’s about who God is!  You are focusing on the wrong thing!  If we remember God and choose His promise … we are able.”   Caleb didn’t deny the truth of who or what the obstacles were, but concentrated on God’s supernatural ability instead of human strength.

Wrap up 

quote in textAll marriages face obstacles. Some are small and benign, and perhaps even laughable after some time has passed; and some are great offences that require everything you have in your soul.  It’s the greatest offences that bring greatest temptation to have our focus snatched away from the blessing and centered on the obstacle.
Listen to the voice you are hearing.  Really listen.  What does it say?
Does it say that your land of milk & honey is not possible because the obstacles and the giants are too big for you to conquer?  … too big for God to conquer?  After you listen to the voices is your attention drawn to the obstacle rather than God’s power and blessing?  How about the intent behind the voice?  Does it sound like the scouts – hopeless, weak and giving up in fear?  Or, does it sound like Caleb’s words – full of hope, strength and promise?
In the final analysis we need to silence the voices of the spies by listening to a Caleb; it is a voice that pushes through feelings of fear, with faith in God.  It says:  Don’t be afraid (John 14:27).  You will be more than OK (Rom 8:37).  Never, never,  NEVER give up. (ok, that one was Winston Churchill, but I believe he paraphrased it from Heb 13:5)

Who am I listening to

and are they a Caleb

encouraging me to courageously possess my land?!

POSSESSION (Part 2) Civil War Instead of Unity

You can find the introduction to the Possession Series here.

Isn’t it amazing how something can start out right and end up so wrong?  When the whole nation of Israel walked away from their captors into freedom, it seemed like the hard work was behind them.  But according to God’s plan, the work was just beginning.  As they journeyed through the wilderness they were a unit of one.  Up until now God had done it all. Up until now their oneness was assumed.  But things were about to change.  They would begin the work of possessing their own land.  Their oneness was about to be tested by their enemies.

Faith unites, fear divides

The Israelites were shown the good and the bad of this project.  Their enemies were threatening but God meant for this intimidation to unite them in their quest to conquer and possess the land He had given them: their  land.  Instead of being empowered by faith, they chose fear, and everyone except Joshua and Caleb saw only obstacles and none of the promise.  By focusing on the problems, these leaders played right into Satan’s sphere of fear and took down all the people with them!

Fear led the whole nation in the complete opposite direction of what God had said, “Scout it!  Conquer and possess it!”  They chose the advice of the majority  instead of obeying Joshua and Caleb, who were telling them what they already knew, “God is able!”

Satan got the dissension that he set out to achieve:  division among the nation based on fear.  Even though God had taken steps to show them the goodness and blessings before they began, they didn’t start out with the end in mind.

United in faith

There is a huge correlation here to our marriages.  We start out so right:  A wedding.  A celebration of Oneness and a promise of hope and faith.  But then life begins to happen, unity is stressed and tested and we turn against each other.  The natural contrast between male and female – which God intended to unite us as powerful allies against our common enemy – is turned inward towards each other.  Our focus is wrong:  We try to possess the wrong thing and use the wrong weapons against the wrong enemy.  We are blinded to the blessing that comes with the original purpose of marriage.

Satan’s strategy of negative focus in marriage will yield the same results as it did for the nation of Israel:   infighting to division.  Negative thoughts get stuck in our minds as we focus on difficulties.  Soon we think all the problems in our marriage are giant sized and unconquerable, even by God.  As our focus narrows into singular concentration, every little offence (real or imagined) is magnified into an impasse.  And Satan slips through the crack that we’ve opened and whispers:

  • “he always does this”
  • “this marriage will never change”
  • “there is no other choice
  • “there is no way this marriage can last”
  • “this is just impossible to live with”
  • “this just is not fair
  • “this is not right

Focusing on these obstacles causes them to grow, in our reality, turning them into mythic giants.  Soon the vision of your husband gets corrupted, which leads to a view of hopelessness in the marriage.  Losing sight of the blessing is a scary place to be, but the saddest part is that fear has replaced your faith in God’s power of healing and restoration.

Fear always begins in the mind. The heart ruminates on thoughts and finally gives birth to actions.  Can you see it?  It is exactly the same technique that Satan used with the Israelites!  It is a scare tactic meant to keep us away from our blessing.

Level headed faith

There probably is some unfairness in your marriage and probably some character traits or habits that are hard to live with.  Both of you are broken people living in a broken world; broken people are hurt and hurting people hurt others.

Don’t deny the obstacles that are obviously present, or the tribulations that come with an offence.  Rather, let faith lead your focus to the truth that overcomes obstacles.  Faith will encourage you to say, “I will go at once and possess my marriage of milk and honey, for I am well able to conquer any obstacle” (paraphrased for application).  Faith like Caleb’s enables us to look past the obstacles without denying their reality.  He didn’t disagree with anything that the scouts said.  He didn’t try to explain away any of the obstacles, argue the truth about their size, or deny that they existed.  He simply responded with truth:  Let us go up at once and possess it; we are well able to conquer it.

You already have been given a marriage of milk and honey. All that is needed is possession.

Wrap up

Is someone saying your husband is not good? (that’s a giant)  Is someone saying you have to leave your marriage because you have no other choice? (that’s a giant)  Or are they saying that your current situation is impossible to live in?  (yep, giant)

People mean well. They just don’t realize they are being used by the enemy to direct your focus onto the current obstacles instead of the blessing of the plan that comes after the obstacles.  Paul told us to keep our eyes on the prize and keep moving forward. We do that by laying aside the sin of fear and the comments of the nay-sayers, the bad reports.

A universal truth of God’s design is that whenever there is a wide opened door of opportunity, there will also be many adversaries.  Marriage is that open door of opportunity, so we can expect our Adversary to push back.  Let your focus pass over those giants, right into the promise that God showed you when you first met your husband.  Each obstacle you conquer will bring you closer to possessing a marriage of milk & honey.

 

From The Lemonade Stand – (Part 2 – The Sugar)

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Last post I generously shared my lemons, and I thank you all for your support!  But now it’s time to look for that sugar, the part that really completes the lemonade.  You can find the full sour from Part 1, here.

In Part 1, I ended with, “You can’t make lemonade without the addition of some sugar.  It’s the contrasting of the sour and the sweet that really bring this drink to life.  I already shared some of the sugar that came our way through our wonderful neighbours.  But there’s more – if I will open my eyes to see it.”

The first and foremost serving of the sugar is that our family is secure and intact.  Our children are safe in Saskatchewan, and we are safe in Alberta.  We are divided by seven hours, but in the larger scheme of life, seven hours isn’t that big of a deal.  This is a huge blessing that I need to show gratitude for every day, and one that is often overlooked.  I think our initial appreciation depends on our point of reference.  If you ask someone whose family is fractured or someone who has received a less-than-favourable medical diagnosis, they’ll tell you that family and health are everything.

The cooling system in the car:  Darrell is extremely knowledgeable when it comes to anything mechanical.  He knows exactly what a vehicle needs and how to install all the parts when they arrive.  His skill saves us a small fortune in the automotive area of our budget.  The parts did come in on time and have been installed, and our car is now back to good!

Rocky and Adrienne:  Pets bring a quality to a family that is almost too precious to speak of. We see through them an unconditional love and acceptance in action instead of words.  Any effort they need from us is just not comparable.

My new laptop:  There is a computer sales and repair store just down the street from Darrell’s apartment, so I took it there to see if I could get a diagnosis.  It took about an hour and a half, but although I fully expected to pay for his time, he said, “No charge.”  Thank you Arthur from VM Systems.  Your generosity is very much appreciated!  We had purchased the laptop from Staples, and even though it was past the warranty, they agreed to swap it for a new one.

And finally, when on my extended stay, I’ve discovered a great tea shop!  This is a big deal for me because I’m a hardcore coffee drinker.  I never, in a million years, thought I could ever enjoy a pot of tea the way I enjoy coffee … but now I do.  Thanks to Everything Tea and Gifts for broadening my pallet!

As you move into the Christmas season, which can easily become marked with pressure that can tempt you to be sour and frustrated, remember to let joy sweeten your interactions with people.

Thank you for reading Upwithmarriage.  

I pray the blessing of growth in your life and marriage, that you will aggressively pursue Christ’s love to feed your heart so that you can live the life of a lover.  I pray that grace and wisdom will increase with the strength of your stride as you move forward into 2014.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

Darrell & Robyn

From The Lemonade Stand

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We all know about those infamous curveballs you get from life and the saying that goes with them: When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.

Well, step up to my lemonade stand, free of charge.

Last weekend was the end of my two week cycle for visiting Darrell in Alberta.  We were supposed to be heading back to Saskatchewan early Saturday morning, but things didn’t progress as we planned.  In the midst of an unseasonably cold snap (-45ish), we lost our cooling system in the car. [In keeping with the lemonade philosophy, it was necessary for the car to break on the same day we were going to travel instead of a couple days before.]

We turned around to go back, and headed straight to Canadian Tire to pick up and install the necessary parts.  We hoped that we could get home with no more than a hiccup in the schedule, but our day wasn’t destined to go that way.  It would take 3 to 4 days to get the parts in from Edmonton.  When we found two automotive supply stores right in town, but they were both closed until Monday, it became evident that I would not be coming home for another week.

[The growth opportunity(s) were starting to come into focus now]

There were a couple of problems: First, I had already been away from the kids for two weeks and really didn’t want to stretch it to three – it’s just too long, and I miss them!  Second, food is an issue.  Well, not all food, just fresh food.  My pantry is usually chock full and I generally have a well-stocked dairy supply in our secondary fridge in the basement.  But fruits and veggies don’t last as long, and both our girls like their raw foods.  Because we live in a rural area and neither of our daughters can legally drive alone yet, a quick jaunt to the market is out of the question.

[Even though my van sits there with a fully operational cooling system!]

This is where irreplaceable neighbours come in!  We’ve had the great fortune of being blessed with wonderful neighbours in every place we’ve ever lived.  Our current neighbours are no exception to this!  They are awesome!  If it wasn’t for them in this season we are in, we may not have been able to pull it off.  Mrs. K. (I know you are reading), “Thank you from the depths of our hearts.  We love you and Mr. K. not only for your help, but also for not making us feel small in any way when we reached out to you guys!” [I know it’s not owed – but a cheesecake is on its way!] “Thank you again for being so great about it.”

[This part wasn’t ‘lemons’ – it was some sugar.  There will be more on that part later.]

Next problem:  Our dogs!

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I bring them with me when I visit Darrell, and they’re on ‘special’ food.  It’s special food because it took us an especially long time to get them converted from a dog food full of fillers to this natural, grain-free type.  We worked very hard: listening to a lot of whining and barking; and watching a lot of begging as they deprived themselves day after day, eating only the few bits of kibble necessary to sustain life.

[Those of you who are not dog people won’t understand this craziness.]

Anyway, I had only brought enough food for two weeks.  I buy locally whenever I can, so I couldn’t get their food from any of the big chains here.  It feels like all my hard work with them has gone down the tubes this week. [That one’s not a huge lemon, but it is still a lemon.]

And now, back to the car.  When we ordered the parts on Monday, the weather was wonderfully mild; but when they came in the following day, the temperature started to drop back to the sub-sub below again.  My man was out in minus 30, tearing apart the dashboard of our car. *sigh*

It was OK, accepting that I was going to be here for another week, instead of at home planning my Christmas baking and menu and getting the house organized for our company.  I thought, this won’t be so bad.  I’ll catch up on some research and writing and get my files organized for 2014.  But then my brand new computer, only two months old… yep, fried!  So much for that idea.

Then I got the text from Darrell, “Remember how at work, I suggested that we give the guys the option to work on a Saturday to make up the time between Christmas and New Year’s?  Well, that’s this Saturday.”  This means we can’t leave until Saturday night.  When we arrive, he’ll only have a brief resting period between the 7-hour drive there and back so that he can return to work on Monday.

This is on top of quitting smoking (for almost 3 months now), and needing to restock from home my supply of herbs, oils and vitamins for my daily breakfast power drink.

You can’t make lemonade without the addition of some sugar.  It’s the contrasting of the sour and the sweet that really bring this drink to life.  I already shared some of the sugar that came our way through our wonderful neighbours.  But there’s more – if I will open my eyes to see it.  I’ll share more of the sugar in my next post, but for now, it’s Saturday and I’ve got to get packed up and my menu plan organized so I can grocery shop when we pass through Medicine Hat on the way to home.

But for now, I’ll …

lemon