Posts Tagged ‘marriage’

Prepare to Meet Your Maker


There have been too many negative impacts on our culture in what has been called the “Fatherless Generation” because so many dads have abandoned their families and kids have been raised without a dad in their lives.  But it seems like these days, our society is embracing the idea of broken families as a positive.  It’s like they have decided that the traditional family is not such a good thing—that there are no real benefits to having a mom and a dad who get married have kids and raise a family together.  But the truth is that our society has suffered because of the lack of responsibility of so many fathers.  And our culture has discounted the impact that good, godly fathers can have on, not only in their own families, but on society as a whole.  A Godly dad inspires courage, compassion, morality, and most important of all soul-saving faith in his progeny.  And if you multiply those qualities across a society of children you wind up with a courageous, compassionate, moral, and faithful generation, which benefits society with people who increase kindness, hard work, prosperity, and prayer.  And when that happens, the nation and the world becomes a better place to live—not to mention a lot more people who enjoy a living relationship with the Lord.

Aww vs. Awe


You know the difference between puppy love and true love?  True love has NOTHING to do with the butterfly feeling in your stomach, or a magical first kiss or “falling” into anything.  Puppy love is the purely emotional stuff.  True love is that which remains committed regardless of emotion–so that even when you don’t feel like it, you still work to serve the other person and make sacrifices to give the other what is best.  A relationship of true love is the only kind that lasts, because it is committed through thick and thin.  Emotions can go up and down and butterflies fly away and initial feelings always change, but true love never gives up.  True love isn’t fallen into, it’s committed to with perseverance and integrity.

A Wedding


I think too many people think marriage is just a wedding.  It’s all about planning the perfect day.  And usually that day flies by and after a few months you can’t even remember everything that happened on that day that was supposed to be so special.

How much more stable could our society be if people took planning for marriage as seriously as they took planning for the wedding?  If people actually kept their wedding promises, it would mean the relationship would be lifelong and rewarding, so the families would be stable and the culture made up of all those stable families would be stronger.

More thoughts from Frog’s awesome wife


Update on November 5th post:

First off, let me apologize for allowing so much time to lapse since my last post. With the holidays and spending time with family, it was so easy to let this just slide by. But I know some of you keep looking forward to me adding new posts and sermons. So I will get back to doing that on a regular basis.

We’ve had a lot of things going on between then and now, and I have really been looking forward to sharing this update with you all.

If you remember we shared some very tough personal experiences with you for a few reasons. One was to be an encouragement to others who shared in our suffering. Another was to help people be an encouragement to their friends dealing with infertility. And the most important reason was to talk about how great God is even in the midst of pain and trials. We are so thankful for God’s faithfulness throughout our lives. Without him our hope would have been dashed so long ago. But with God, we have found peace and even joy in the midst of our worst experiences. And Jesus himself said, “With God all things are possible.”

We have believed that for a long time, and we continue to believe it, and God continues to prove his faithfulness to us over and over. And we want to continue to be an example for you of just how awesome God is.

We are so thankful for so many wonderful friends and family members who have been an encouragement and support to us. Now let us return the favor. If you don’t know God, if you want a life filled with peace regardless of outside circumstances, the only way is through a relationship with Jesus Christ. And I’m not talking about praying some prayer and then going on with life as usual. I’m talking about a total spiritual makeover, where you surrender everything in your past—all your old terrible choices—in exchange for a new life of purity and commitment to the life that Christ commands. When you do that—when you forsake your wickedness and turn to God for forgiveness, he is faithful to forgive. And you can experience the joy of never being alone again.

Paul expressed his thanks for support and encouragement from his friends, and at the same time pointed out that even better was the blessing of living through Christ.

Philippians 4:10-13 How I praise the Lord that you are concerned about me again. I know you have always been concerned for me, but you didn’t have the chance to help me. Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.

And I hope that this update from Jenna will be just one more encouragement in you grabbing at that chance to live through Christ:

If you haven’t read my first post from November 5th, go HERE first. Then come back for part 2!

I have some more dates to add to my list:

November 5th, 2009 – the day I posted our story online for the world to read
I had strange feelings on this day. On one hand, it felt great to get everything out on paper and actually SEE how God has been working all along. I knew I was being obedient to Him by typing up our personal story to use as a testimony. On the other hand, it felt a little awkward to have such a personal story out there on the INTERNET for who-knows-who to read! However, I got a lot of positive feedback from it, and no one has said anything stupid to me in awhile, so I think it was worth it! 🙂

November 17th, 2009 – the day I was told it was impossible to get pregnant
After my last visit to the infertility specialist at the end of October, I had to return for more labs. They drew about eight vials of blood and told me they would let me know the results soon. Almost three weeks later, I hadn’t heard anything so I decided to call. The nurse called me back a few hours later. She asked why I had called. Umm…because I had labs done a long time ago that you promised to call me back about, and it never happened. (That’s what went through my head, but I’m never that mean on the phone). 🙂 Her response: Oh yeah, the doctor wants to start you on a new medication. My thought: How long have you known this and when were you going to call me and tell me?? She goes on: You have a hormone level that is too high and it is IMPOSSIBLE (she really stressed that word and spit it out like venom) for you to get pregnant like that. I think my head was spinning at this point. How do you get a job working with people, not to mention highly emotional infertile people, when you don’t even know how to treat them with a little care and decency? I have never spoken to a nurse before who was as rude as this one, and to be that rude when delivering such news blew my mind. Also on my mind was the fact that I had never been told it was impossible before. I had always been given hope. And in that moment she told me, I thought: Well, that’s what you think. God can do it; He doesn’t need doctors.

November 27th, 2009 – the day I finally saw two lines
The day after Thanksgiving, I was relaxing at home with Frog and his sister, Joanne, who was in town visiting. It was late in the evening, and Joanne and I were hungry. When I found myself eating pickles followed up by ice cream, we joked about being pregnant. I hadn’t been paying a lot of attention to my cycle or what day it was, since it was the holidays, and I wasn’t expecting anything to happen anyway. But then I thought, maybe I should get a pregnancy test. We were going to Wal-Mart anyway to get some more snacks, so we decided to pick one up. (Apparently the two Thanksgiving dinners we had eaten in the past two days weren’t filling enough!). I told Joanne she would have to carry it around the store, in case we ran into any of my students. I think I saw at least three of them in there that night. Love the small town…really. I took the test as soon as we got home. I had barely set it down on the counter when the second line began to show up, very dark purple. I couldn’t even begin to count the number of tests I’ve seen with one line, but this was my first time ever seeing a positive pregnancy test. I was shaking. I couldn’t believe it. Funny how you pray and pray about something, and when it actually happens, you are somewhat surprised. Why is that??
I brought it out to the kitchen where Frog and Joanne were making some nachos, and held it out to Frog with tears in my eyes. I didn’t say a word, and he just looked at me in shock. He gave me a great big hug as I set the test down in front of Joanne, so she would know what was going on. She broke the silence by screaming. She’s enthusiastic like that. 🙂 I will never forget those moments. We stood together in the kitchen and prayed and thanked God for this wonderful gift. I felt so blessed.

November 30th, 2009 – the last time I EVER went to the infertility specialist
We had been told before by the infertility specialist that when we become pregnant, he sees you for your first twelve weeks of prenatal care, since they are the most crucial. He then “graduates” you to a regular obstetrician for the remainder of your pregnancy. First thing Monday morning, I called his office and asked to come in for a blood test to confirm what the home test had told me. I was also wondering if I should continue the medicine they had put me on to bring the one hormone level down, and wanting to make sure my other hormone, which was typically too low, was ok. The low hormone meant that I had a greater chance of miscarrying if I did not have any medication to increase it, which I didn’t. I was completely out. I got my blood drawn, went into another room to talk about these questions, and was confronted by the woman who works with insurance in the office. She flat out said we would not be able to be seen by the doctor anymore. Since we got pregnant on our own, insurance would not cover us to see him anymore. I asked what she meant by “on our own.” We have been seeing him for over a year, and you are telling me that nothing he did in the past year had any impact? Apparently not. She said that she would still test the blood she had just drawn and call me in the morning to let me know all the levels and what needed to be done. They wouldn’t bill me for that visit, since I had no way of knowing it wouldn’t be covered by insurance. I thought that was actually pretty nice of them.
We had no sooner left the parking lot, with the building still in sight, when my cell phone rings and it’s the woman we had just been speaking with. She told me I would have to have my labs redrawn elsewhere. Basically, they tossed my blood in the trash and wouldn’t run any tests on it. They KNEW my risk of miscarriage if my hormone level was still too low. They were the ones who TOLD me it was low in the first place. And they wouldn’t help me out at all. Again, I was so frustrated. At that point, I would have paid anything to know that everything was ok, but they didn’t even give me the option. We drove over to my OB’s office and I shakily tried explaining the seriousness of the situation to the woman in reception. The best she could do was have a nurse call me. No one seemed to understand the urgency in why I needed to find out if my hormones were stable. It was such a discouraging day, in what I felt was supposed to be a happy time. My friend Andrea really came through for me, and provided me with more reassurance than she probably knows. 🙂

December 8th, 2009 – the day I finally felt like a doctor cared about me
My OB’s office called and gave me the news that I was “definitely pregnant” and all my hormone levels looked good! It seemed like the longest week and a half of my life, but I’m glad it ended with good news! They even said they wanted to do an early ultrasound, which I didn’t expect to be able to have. I LOVE my OB’s office, and can totally see the blessing in disguise of not being at the infertility specialist’s office anymore. While I thought that I wouldn’t be as well taken care of outside of their office, since I’m just a “regular” pregnant woman to everyone else, the opposite is actually true. The doctor and her nurse have been very understanding of our situation and I never leave feeling worse than when I came.

December 10th, 2009 – the day we got to see and hear our baby’s heartbeat
One would think that having an ultrasound at 6 weeks isn’t all that exciting, since there isn’t much to see, but after 2 years of WAITING for the opportunity, it was amazing. Barely 4mm in size, the baby had a strong heartbeat that we could both see and hear. I thanked God, yet again, for blessing us with a child. I don’t ever want to forget where I came from, what it feels like to be infertile, or be ungrateful for what I have.

Today, January 21st, 2010 – our 12 week appointment
We got to hear the baby’s heartbeat with a doppler machine today. That sound can never get old. I want to buy my own doppler and listen to it all the time!
Time is flying by already, and I can’t believe the first trimester is OVER. I am slowly growing bigger and trying to hide it from my students for a little longer. 🙂 They would tell me I looked pregnant way before I ever actually WAS pregnant, so I’m really surprised no one has said anything recently. Middle schoolers can be so nice.
I have been blessed by people wanting to throw us baby showers, giving us baby gifts already, asking constantly how I’m feeling (although I have people who are mad at me for not being sick at all), and just having people rejoice with us in the good news. It was hard to tell all our friends who are still waiting for their children, but they have been so wonderful about it. I think most of them have taken the news better than I would have if the situation were reversed. It’s made me realize what a terrible person I can be sometimes!
I love reading about how the baby is growing, and what is happening each week. I am amazed at how God forms life inside a woman and how everything works together to create a baby. What a miracle! I’m sure I will be further astounded as I feel the baby move and kick, and definitely when I experience the birth of our child!
Our baby is due August 5th. We are so appreciative of all the prayers that you’ve given us throughout this time. We look forward to sharing more about how God is working along the way. We are forever grateful for the opportunity to become parents and raise a child to know Him. We will definitely have quite the story to tell our child about the journey we went on to meet him or her.

This is how I ended my November 5th post:
“I hope and pray that this month is when God decides to show up and bless us with a child. I can say that it will all be because of Him, because we can’t use any medical interventions to help us. All along I’ve prayed that no matter what happens that God will use our situation to bring glory to His name and to bless and encourage others. I think now would be a perfect time for that! But, even if He doesn’t decide to do that, I will still love Him, still serve Him, and still praise Him. He has been too good to me to do otherwise.”

If anyone takes anything away from all my rambling, I want it to be that God is faithful. He is loving; He is good. I know that now that I have been given the desire of my heart, it sounds easy to say that. However, back in November, when I had NO idea what was about to happen, I still felt the same way. When I stopped making it all about me, and started making it all about God, He definitely showed up and blessed us. I pray that if you are struggling with God or struggling with what YOU want, that you will trust Him enough to say, “Whatever you want, God. I’ll do whatever you want.” And mean it. Trust Him and He will come through for you. He will never let you down.

Thoughts from Frog’s awesome wife


I wanted to share something that my beautiful and wonderful wife wrote about recently.  We’ve been dealing with infertility now for 2 years.  And that started with the most heartbreaking experience of my entire life…watching the death of my own child.  I don’t post this for sympathy.  God has not only helped both of us personally through this experience, but he has helped our relationship grow even stronger.  Only God could bring such a great blessing out of such a horrific tragedy.    That’s what he promises for everybody who loves him…

Romans 8:28 says “And we know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose”

Anyway, we wanted to share this online for 3 reasons…

The first is because we want to encourage others who might be facing similar difficulties.  It’s not easy to suffer this kind of loss.  But a cord of many strands is not easily broken, and we want you to know that you are not alone!

Another reason for sharing is to help people who might have friends and loved ones going through this kind of pain.  We want you to be able to support your friends through their struggles and not put your foot in your mouth.  Job’s friends said some extremely hurtful things in trying to give him advice through his loss.  In situations like this, it’s often best not to make suggestions out of ignorance, but rather to demonstrate your love and support without added “helpful advice.”

Finally, and most importantly, we wanted to share our experience because of something the apostle Paul wrote about.  He mentioned a difficulty he dealt with and how he repeatedly prayed for relief from God…

2 Cor. 12:8-10 Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away.  Each time he said, “My gracious favor is all you need. My power works best in your weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may work through me.  Since I know it is all for Christ’s good, I am quite content with my weaknesses and with insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

We really have found God’s strength in the midst of our weakness.  And since we have been praying that God would be glorified through this trial, we figured the more people who knew about what we have experienced, the more glory God would get because of it.  So without further ado, this is what my wife wrote:

A lot of dates stick out to me as important in my life.  I’ve always had a knack for remembering weird things, like dates, phone numbers, addresses, etc.  Sometimes it’s helpful; other times people look at me like I’m a freak for remembering such specifics.  These dates have been on my mind lately as I process what is going on in my life:

October 16, 2000 – the day I met my husband

I don’t really remember much about this day.  I know it was fall break, I was home from college, and my friends were trying to set Frog up with someone else who was already dating.  Needless to say, that didn’t work out.  He didn’t make that big of an impression on me.  He was just “Chris and Spring’s friend.”  🙂

May 15, 2002 – our first date

I was working at Chili’s one night when I saw a guy sitting a booth and smiling at me.  I realized that I knew him and it was Frog!  I went over to say hi and we chatted for a bit.  Before he left, he found me to say goodbye and ask for my number.  The next week we went on a picnic and to see the premiere of Star Wars Episode II at midnight.  I pretty much knew I was hooked after that night, even if he did take me to see a ridiculously long movie in the middle of the night.

May 10, 2003 – the day we got engaged

It was the night of Frog’s “surprise” birthday party, and I was not expecting a proposal.  We had been talking about marriage for awhile, but he told me he couldn’t afford a ring (liar!) so I was patiently waiting.  He wrote me a song, got some friends in on it, and proposed in front of many friends while I was cutting his cake.  I wasn’t paying a lot of attention to him, thinking he was being silly, till I heard the words “marry me” in the song and thought I should start listening!

February 14, 2004 – our wedding day

I couldn’t wait for this day.  Looking back, I wouldn’t say it was a perfect wedding day, but I knew that didn’t matter.  All we wanted was to be married and begin our life together.  I had no idea what that would entail.

November 5, 2007 – the day we agreed to start trying to have a family

For as long as I can remember, all I EVER wanted to be was a mom.  I know that when people would ask me when I was younger (and even in high school) what I wanted to be when I grew up, I said a mom.  My own mom must have been a good example for me, because I wanted to do exactly what she did, stay home, raise kids, and even homeschool them.  My parents forced me to go to college and get a higher education, so I decided to be a teacher in order to be prepared to teach my own children some day.

Fast forward many years, I was married and I wanted to have a family.  My husband had a lot of worries about being a father, so we put things off for awhile.  We spent a lot of time avoiding the question, “So when are you going to have kids?” (which I now realize is a very rude question).  I told people that I never wanted to have kids so that they would leave me alone.  I found out later that I had a lot of people convinced and they had given up hope of us ever having children.  Frog eventually realized how important it really was to me to have children (apparently I had him fooled, too?).  He came home one day and said he’d been praying about it and was ready to start trying.  I was so excited and sure we’d have a kid within a year.  I mean, who didn’t?  Everyone who wants kids gets them, right?

March 29, 2008 – the day we lost our first child

A couple days before this, I remember thinking that I would be so grateful for a child when I finally did get pregnant, since we had been trying for so long now.  I was actually about seven weeks pregnant at the time and never knew it.  Looking back, I should have realized, but I wasn’t one to test obsessively and get my hopes up.  I’ll spare you the details, but that Saturday morning was spent in two emergency rooms, taking an ambulance between the two, and being examined by no fewer than three doctors.  I found out that I was pregnant and, in the same breath, that I was having a miscarriage.  I will NEVER forget that day.  One, for the pain and sadness that I felt, and two, for the peace of God that I felt.  Sure, I questioned why in the world this was happening to me, but at the same time I could see how God was working and taking care of me all day long.  I was definitely devastated, and I can’t even describe all the emotions I felt that day.  If you’ve had a miscarriage before, you can probably identify, but I know all experiences are different.  Most are fortunate enough to not have to go to the emergency room and watch the doctor remove their baby and place him or her in a specimen cup.  I have always trusted God so easily, and I admit that this experience shook me up and really tested my faith.  I think I handled things well that day, but once the shock of what had just happened wore off, it got more difficult.

October 27, 2008 – our first appointment with an infertility specialist

So a year went by and we still had not had a successful pregnancy.  We tried to remain optimistic, but as that one year mark loomed before us, we figured there might be a problem.  I watched as friend after friend became pregnant and gave birth.  It seriously felt like every day I was hearing another announcement of someone’s pregnancy or birth.  We decided to see an infertility specialist to determine if there were any physical problems that needed to be dealt with.  Going into the appointment, I wasn’t sure what I hoped he’d find.  Either that everything was fine and I wouldn’t need any treatment, or that he’d find a cause and be able to fix it.  After many, many tests it was determined that I have slightly low hormone levels, which would prevent me from carrying a baby if one were to implant.  That was it.  Everything else looked great for the both of us.  We were sure that God had provided us with the solution to our problem…really expensive, really loathsome medication.  We were grateful though, that we didn’t need any surgeries or anything more serious done to fix a condition.  It seemed like a simple solution, and the doctor all but promised us we’d be pregnant by this Christmas (2008) or have a baby by next Christmas (2009).

October 26, 2009 – our last appointment with an infertility specialist

One year later, almost to the day, we found ourselves back in the doctor’s office.  The medication hadn’t worked, unless its primary purpose was to drain the life out of me and exhaust me.  It was awesome at doing that.  We had been through so many ups and downs.  Our friends were now having their second kid in the time that we had even been trying to have one.  We dealt with a lot of people’s well-meaning advice, which was actually just hurtful.  In case you were wondering, there are no statistics that prove if you just adopt a baby you’ll get pregnant.  You also cannot just take a vacation and magically come home pregnant.  Also, if you stop trying, you can’t get pregnant either.  Because, well, you need to…never mind.  And apparently we should just be grateful for the children that we have in our lives, even if they aren’t ours.  We stood by and learned of our students and youth group members getting pregnant and having babies.  It’s really easy to wonder where is God in all of this, when nothing seems fair.  The infertility specialist has said that we make him look bad, because there is absolutely no reason why we should not be pregnant yet.  Everything is working as it should be.  At this doctor’s appointment, we said we were ready to start pursuing other methods of having a baby, which we had discussed before.  The doctor decides to tell us that Frog needs blood tests done that he’s already had before, which run between $600 and $800, and we can’t have any procedures done until they do the same tests.  And that I also need to have a bajillion more tests done (I’m really surprised I have any blood left at this point).  At least my tests are covered by insurance, but since we didn’t find out about them until now, we can’t move forward with conceiving a baby.  Then we found out that the doctor’s office doesn’t do any procedures in December, so we are looking at next year before we can get anywhere.  I can’t even get refills on the medication I have been taking for an entire year until these tests are done.  To top it all off, the one test that Frog has had done, they lost the results of and he will need to do it again unless he can come up with them.  We left feeling more frustrated than ever.

Today – where I’m at and what I’ve learned

I am SO thankful to have God in my life.  I don’t know how in the world I would have gotten through these past two years without Him.  He has given me peace and reassurance and hope that I cannot describe.  I have definitely had periods of time where I felt the opposite of all that.  I remember one time I was unhappy about something and Frog told me to pray about it.  My response was, “Like that’s going to do any good.”  As soon as I said it, I couldn’t believe that I had.  I couldn’t believe that I had let myself become so cynical about the power of prayer, just because God hadn’t yet answered my prayer in the way I wanted Him to.  I’ve wanted to go back and start over and erase everything that had happened on this infertility journey, just so I could get my way.  Would that make me a happier person?  Probably not.

I know that God lets NOTHING go to waste.  He will not allow something bad to happen to me that He will not use for good.  Some days I find it easy to trust Him, and other times I have to CHOOSE to trust Him.  I let myself get worried and worked up over the circumstances I’m in, and I forget who’s really in charge.  In my heart, I really only want what God wants.  If God wants us to have a large family, then I am all for it.  If He wants us to never experience parenthood, then I KNOW I will be ok.  He is so much greater than I am and sees so much more than I can.  He knows what’s best for me, and if I’m willing to let Him, He’ll make it happen.

Would I go back and change anything in the two years we’ve been trying to have a family, if I could?  I don’t know.  I wish so much that our first child would not have died.  I would have a one year old today.  I imagine how life would be different and what he or she would have looked like.  I’m looking forward to meeting him or her in Heaven someday.  But, as weird as it sounds, I’ve become grateful for the infertility.  I don’t want it to last forever, but I’ve learned so much and grown so much that I have a hard time seeing it as an evil thing all around.

It has forced me to depend on God.  I can do nothing without Him.  Well, I can, but it doesn’t work out.  🙂  I’ve learned more about God’s character, love, and faithfulness to us.

I am more sensitive to others in my same situation.  I cannot even describe how wonderful the friendships are to me of those who are experiencing or have experienced infertility themselves.  I don’t ask stupid questions or make rude comments when people don’t have children, because I know the pain that it causes.  I believe God has used me to reach out to others who are hurting from infertility, and He has put others in my life when I was the one hurting.

I have learned about forgiveness.  This is because of the stupid questions and rude comments that I hear from people.  Most of the time they are unintentional, but if I were to hold a grudge against someone because of their ignorance, I would only be hurting myself.

I didn’t think it was possible to love my husband even more than I already did, but I do.  We have grown so close through this experience.  He has been my rock, my strength, my voice of reason at times.  I love knowing that he is behind me 100%.  I am so thankful to God for giving me a husband who is incredibly understanding and patient.  Part of the reason this is so difficult is because I know what a wonderful father he would be, and it hurts to not be able to see it in reality.

What started as frustration after all of last week’s appointments, turned into another, “Ok, God, I see what you’re doing here” moment.  He is always faithful and always sustains me, even when I feel like there’s no way out.  I was so discouraged thinking we would have no chance of getting pregnant till next year sometime.  Then I began to think that maybe God is the one who caused all of hassle with last minute tests and insurance changes.  Maybe He is trying to strip away any possibility for doctors to get any glory from this.  I hope and pray that this month is when God decides to show up and bless us with a child.  I can say that it will all be because of Him, because we can’t use any medical interventions to help us.  All along I’ve prayed that no matter what happens that God will use our situation to bring glory to His name and to bless and encourage others.  I think now would be a perfect time for that!  But, even if He doesn’t decide to do that, I will still love Him, still serve Him, and still praise Him.  He has been too good to me to do otherwise.

Feel free to leave any comments, if you will be praying for us, or if this has encouraged you at all, or if you just want to say hi.  Thank you for reading and thinking of us.  We appreciate your prayers so much and know that they have supported us.

***Check out the update to this story HERE.

All you need is Love


What’s love got to do…got to do with it?  Ok, if we have an idea of what love really is…if you have a basic understanding of what it means, how do you apply it to religion?  Because Christians are always talking about love.  “Jesus loves you” and “I just love God so much” and “Christianity is a love relationship,” what does all that mean?  How does it apply to real life?  Because that’s what really matters.  Isn’t it?  I mean, people can talk about love all the time, but if it doesn’t make a difference in their behavior or how they treat people, then it’s not really love.  Right?

In the last talk I kind of hit on how love can be expressed in different degrees that build onto each other.  We can have friendships and a bond of kinship with people, and we can add commitment to basic friendships, and stick by somebody’s side through whatever.  Then, when we’re ready to make the ultimate commitment and put someone else’s needs above our own, we get married and love just continues to multiply as commitment and intimacy grow together.  Like adding fuel to a fire, our compassion and passion combine and a man and woman come together in the kind of relationship that begins to reveal the depth of what God feels toward us.  When we are willing to sacrifice and commit everything to benefit another person, we get a glimpse of what God feels and does for us.

And like any relationship, it takes work.  You can’t even have a good friendship unless you are willing to contribute to the health of your relationship.  But the really cool thing is how we benefit from giving our love to other people and back to God.  It’s mind blowing to see how our love grows even n the midst of sacrifice.  The people who really understand love, who have really figured it out, find the secret that giving in a relationship is the only way to get the real benefits of love.  And when we discover that secret we find out what we were made for.  If God made us in his image, and if God is love, then it just makes sense that we were built to give and receive love.

Ever wonder what the secret of life is?  It’s loving.  That’s just the way God designed us.

PS. In the very beginning of this talk I spend a minute talking about making it though hard times and how God is with us through the trials we face, and how God  even takes advantage of the tough things we go through to help us become better people.  Sometimes love means just being around for comfort.  And sometimes it means helping a person get up and keep walking, even if it means pushing outside of our comfort zones so we can grow.

My wife and I lost a child through a miscarriage, and it was one of the most difficult experiences I have ever felt.  But God really showed me his peace through the whole ordeal.  And God has used our tragedy to help us be able to comfort others who have suffered similar loss and to encourage people going through infertility and we have even grown closer to each other in the midst of that painful trial.

What is love?


Baby don’t hurt me…

No, this isn’t about 80’s music.  But I think it does deal with the questions that Haddaway brought up in his lyrics and the questions that a lot of people have about love.  Did you ever wonder why so many marriages fail?  Did you ever wonder why God said that sexual immorality hurts people more than anything else?  Maybe you remember when Jesus used the connection of a husband and wife as an example of the connection that God wants to share with all of us.  Did you ever wonder what that means?

True love does have a mysterious quality to it because of how powerful it is and how deeply it affects us.  But it’s also something that is meant to be understood.  In fact, I don’t think anybody can really experience love to it’s full, powerful potential unless they understand it on a basic level.  Too many people ruin love by replacing it with selfishness and greed and hunger and lust and things that have nothing to do with real love.  And I think so much of the confusion and pain that people deal with in relationships and romance and marriage come when we lose the meaning of what it means to love.

What do you think?

$40 worth of Honesty


So the other day me and mi linda esposa, Jenna, were at WalMart to get a couple picture frames and a B-day card for Chris–his birthday is next Sunday!  Anyway, we also were thinking it would be nice to have a couple new pillows for our bed. (You know how pillows get flat and hard after too many years of use?)  So while we were looking at pillows, we also looked at sheets.  We had 1 set of bedsheets that we use all the time, and they have always been a tight fit on the mattress–they barely cover the whole side of the mattress.   So we figured, ‘We’ve got a little extra in the household budget, let’s get some new sheets.’  The really nice 400 thread count, Egyptian cotton sheets were on sale for $35.  So we got ’em.  With the taxes, they were a little less than $40.

Pretty exciting, right?  Ok, here’s where the plot thickens:

This lady starts checking me out…because we had taken all our stuff to the checkout lane.  Anyway, she bags everything up and and we cart it out to the car.  But something wasn’t right.  The total on the receipt was less than what I thought it should be–by about $40.  So we took a closer look, and sure enough, somehow the sheets never got rung up at the register.  So now I’ve got a choice to make; do I keep the sheets as a gift from the benevolent WalMart corporation that was kind enough to put them in a nice plastic gift bag for me…or do I go back in and pay for what the checkout lady missed?  As soon as I asked that question, I already knew the answer.  My conscience told me the right thing to do was to pay for what I wanted to keep.

I grumbled about it.  Even as I walked back into the store, I thought about how much I was spending on being honest.  I wondered how much difference this would make.  $40 is didley to a multi-billion dollar operation like WalMart.  They certainly aren’t going to notice or care about what I was doing.  I wondered how much it mattered to God.  I know he always wants us to do the right thing.  But was this something he’d be really happy about or simply satisfied that I did what was right?  I didn’t do it for a reward or for recognition, but I did plenty of bad things in my life B.C. and it would be super cool to know anytime that I did something to really make God happy.  I would pay way more than $40 anytime I can make my relationship with God closer.  The more I hear from him the better my life gets. So my real question was, did I gain anything for being honest–besides bed sheets?  What does $40 worth of honesty get you?  You can’t buy God–he owns the universe.  His law says to be holy, so being honest was simply my duty to him.  But does the fact that I was faithful in this small matter help connect me any closer with my Savior?

I shared all these thoughts with Jenna on the drive home, and she pointed out the fact that actually listening to and obeying God’s leading on my heart would promote more leading from God.  Jesus said “Those who love me are the ones who keep my commands.”  And he said when we are faithful with the small things he asks us to do that he will bless us with bigger things.  So listening to the still small voice of God’s Spirit in my heart, and doing what was right, demonstrated my love for God and proved to him that I was faithful in this way.  So he now has that much more reason to bless me with more of his trust.  What a cool thought–something as small as that could improve my relationship with the Almighty!  Not that he ever loves me more or less, but to prove my faithfulness in service to God–even in a small way, just makes me feel good all over.

God has blessed us with more than enough to get by.  We can sleep on Egyptian cotton sheets.  When most of the world lives on $1 or $2 a day, I feel extremely blessed.  So we prayed in the car, on the way home that God would help us to always be as honest as he has been generous to us.  He has given an overabundance to us.  So we can give an over abundance of honesty and faithfulness to his commands.  In the grand scheme of our lives $40 is a tiny drop in the bucket.  But the priceless rewards for righteousness are worth more than any bank could hold in its vaults.

I thank God for the opportunity he presented to make that choice to pay for the sheets or not.  It was a great chance to stop and think about all the blessings God has given us and how much doing the right thing is really worth in life.  May your life be filled with moments of doing the right thing in big ways and small.  And may you know an abundance of God’s blessings through your faithfulness!

PS. My father-in-law pointed out that if you want God to bless your marriage bed, you shouldn’t sleep on stolen sheets!