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The thrust of this poem is…

the letters have     c
                                 o
                                  l
                                  l
                                 a
                                 p
                                 s
                                 e
                                 d
black holes threaten to swallow whole
any abstract word they attempted to create

even concrete words find themselves
endangered, drowning in the pools of
quizzes and lectures, having grown
weary from academic nonsense

the narrow views of those who think they
know more than the Omniscient:
chronic disease filling lungs with a
sickness worse than pneumonia

pretty piano music plays softly while
silver-tongued lies relentlessly reveal
their designs of attack on the Spirit

refuge is offered:
no latchstring is needed
to unlock some imagined bolt—

protection found
in the Word which never will collapse.

written for Monday Melting #19

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Pleasant (and unpleasant) Surprises

Today has been really interesting.  Felt sick and mostly stayed home.  Ok, I felt lazy too!  🙂  But, my stomach has been a “blender” today, so I didn’t feel like venturing out too far.  However, I needed to do some venturing and forced myself to do so starting around 1ish.  About that same time, my 2-year-old daughter decided to find out whether or not my cell phone can float in the bathtub.  It can’t.

Later in the day, my van would threaten to leave me stranded—I’m still trying to figure out what my 2-year-old did to the van!  Surprisingly enough though,  I drove about 100 miles in said van after the unpleasant surprise of nearly stalling out.  I spent time with my father and saw the parents of an old friend.  Enjoyable, but put me behind schedule for a Small Group I lead on Monday nights.  With no phone, I was unable to let people know I would get to the meeting a little late.   Well it wasn’t really “people” I wanted to notify; they are teenagers.  They used to be “people.”  They will one day be “people” again. But I digress…

No worries though, the students who were able to make it tonight waited patiently for me to arrive.  And when I say “waited patiently,” I mean they rearranged our meeting space!  They also created a new game using notecards, pool balls, and bolts. There I go digressing again.

But now the “real fun” begins—the pleasant surprises.  Since we were limited on time, we wound up just hanging out and having an informal discussion about what it means to “follow Jesus.”  This discussion was loosely based on the book we are studying, Not a Fan.  Mostly it was just a chance for them to talk about the challenges of living out their faith in the day-to-day reality of teenage life.  And, long story short, they are passionate about being more than fans of Christ—they passionately long to follow Him.

The other pleasant surprise happened when I left the meeting to go home.  About a mile from my office I realized I had left some things behind. I needed to return and grab them, so I started driving back.  I decided to make my return trip through a neighborhood I don’t frequently drive through—a student lives there who has just lost his father to cancer.  My intention was to merely do a “drive by” (shooting up prayers for him as I drove by the house), but he was actually out in his driveway playing basketball.  Alone.  It was a great opportunity to visit and pray with him rather than just for him.  And I absolutely believe God orchestrated the opportunity to meet with him on “his turf.”  It was a moment that perhaps surprised me, but not God.  🙂

I hope you’ve also had a few pleasant surprises today!

The Week in Quotes!

I’ve done precious little blogging this week.  Haven’t written much and haven’t read much.  But I have found some really great “nuggets” of wisdom in much of the little I have read.  I wanted to share with you some quotes from a few of the writings I was impacted by this week.  This is also a great way for you to perhaps discover a new blog you’ll love.  And, who knows, maybe I’ll pick up some “finder fees” for sending you their way?  I doubt it, but a boy can dream, right?!?  🙂

This pretty much punched me in the gut.  Lots of wisdom in this quote:

No one is ever satisfied when they’re not doing their best.  When you do your best and fail it’s more acceptable than failing when you aren’t really trying.”

The quote below touches on some conversations my wife and I have had this week.  I’m “thankful” to know others are in our shoes and can speak to it in such a powerful way!

The last few times I was faced with this blatant ungratefulness I didn’t handle it very well.  I got irritable and frustrated and snappy.  How dare my children be so ungrateful?  Don’t they appreciate all I do for them, all I give them?  It was at about that point I felt God whispering in my ear about my own gratitude towards Him.  Do I even notice all the things He does for me on a daily basis?  How many blessings in my life do I treat as burdens? …I realized then and there that if I expect my kids to be grateful, I need to show them exactly what it looks like.”

Charles is such an encouraging blogger/author/poet.  I look forward to reading his homespun wisdom and Godly insight every week.

God puts us on this earth to do His will, and He blesses us with everything we need to do it. It might be assets, talent, a strong body, intelligence, health, or just a good and loving personality. Whatever attributes you need, to do what the Lord needs done, are available to you, and I believe when you begin to focus on God and His will for your life, He will provide them to you, and you will know how to use them to His glory.”

Linnea’s site has become one of my favorites to read each week.  Especially this week!  Things were hopping over there, and as usual, she brought much insight “to the table.”

My hope in readily confessing my dark side is to get people to stop and think about their own….Truthful self-awareness must exact humility and humility is required in order to love others as we love ourselves.”

RabidMongoose always is a straight-shooter with well informed posts about issues of spirituality—especially for men.  But this post was a great read for all of us since it deals with an issue we all face at times.

We look at resentments. We’ve found out they are a distortion of the truth – a way to take a situation, cast the blame on somebody else, and totally escape, so we have nothing to do with it whatsoever!” – Joe McQ, The Steps We Took …This quote from Joe McQ’s book The Steps We Took sums up perfectly what I do with my resentments: I absolve myself completely of all responsibility for a problematic situation, making the issue everyone’s’ fault but mine. Resentment is a tool I use to live in denial: It allows me to create a shield around my fragile persona that ‘protects’ me from the truth about myself…I cannot keep holding all these resentments in. I need to accept responsibility for my own actions…

Feel free to share some quotes you have found (or wisdom you have written) in the comments below!  You’ll help me do a better job of catching up before the week is *officially* over!

Now I have the privilege of getting ready for a “date night” with my Beautiful Bride.  Hope to catch up with all of you wonderful bloggers soon!

This is the day…

Today has been a long one.  For me.  For the girls.  Especially for my Beautiful Bride!  I’m tired just remembering it all!  🙂

“Day in the life” posts aren’t the norm around here.  But I think there’s some spiritual insight worth sharing along with, so here goes:  Ran over a bike first thing this morn.  Oldest left it right behind my van!  (Yeah, I’m cool enough to drive a van!)  Not a happy Dad, but no time to dole out the proper punishment cause I was running late for church.  Same daughter decided to go to “Neighbor Boy’s” house for breakfast (yes, that Neighbor Boy!).  Only she didn’t ask for permission.  Her mother assumed she had gone to church with me; I had told her to go back in the house to Mom.  Brief moment of panic when I returned home and we realized we had “lost” a child.

Find her, scold her, load her in Mom’s van so we can drive the 45 mins. to a different worship service where I’m scheduled to speak.  Really encouraging service, and then off to lunch at Grandmother’s.  What a special thing that my little family can spend time with my grandparents who are both in their 80’s!  But it did mean almost an hour of driving home mid-afternoon only to load right back up and head to the talent show.  (with a quick meeting somehow squeezed in between)

Middle child and I were asked to sing a song; one I had written and she loves to help me sing.  So we did.  Which means my wife went “above and beyond” to support me when I spoke this morn, and J when she sang tonight.  But I could tell she was really worn out and I encouraged her to go home after J’s performance and get some rest.  Leaving me at the mercy of someone else for a ride home.  Someone who couldn’t leave talent show/church for another couple hours.  Oh man, it was a long day!

But on the way home, my “taxi driver” really needed to talk about some things going on in his life.  And I realized that a verse I had read in worship earlier today was being lived out nearly 12 hours later…even if I’m being poured out as an offering for the sacrifice and service of your faith, I am glad and rejoice*…Poured out.”  I felt that when parenting today.  I saw that in my wife today.  I lived that in “church life” today.  And at the end of the day, hopefully I will join Paul in being glad and rejoicing for the chance to pour my life out if it helps others grow closer to Christ.

This is the day…the day the Lord has made!  I will rejoice.  I will be glad.

* Philippians 2:17


Are Whores Worth the Trouble?

 

Your spring water is for you and you only,
not to be passed around among strangers.
Bless your fresh-flowing fountain!
Enjoy the wife you married as a young man!
Lovely as an angel, beautiful as a rose–
don’t ever quit taking delight in her body.
Never take her love for granted!
Why would you trade enduring intimacies for
cheap thrills with a whore?

Proverbs 5:17-20, The Message

Welcome to my friends from “talk-about-marriage,” real life friends, other bloggers, and complete strangers. Not sure how you found these words, but glad you did.

Don’t want to give you any false impressions. I’m certainly not a counselor (for marriage or much else). Heck, I’m not even a good “canceler”—I messed up canceling the monthly Nutri System delivery. Got another one yesterday, though I thought I was done forever. At least my daughters got to play with dry ice! And this time, no trips to the Emergency Room! Don’t ask…

I’m not all that smart either. If you don’t believe me, just ask my wife. 🙂 What I am, however, is a broken, humbled (and forgiven!) man. I’m also a “rehabbed” man, if you will. Still a work in progress—very much so! But, nonetheless, I’m a very different man, husband, and father today than I was just a few months ago. You CAN ask about that! Hopefully I’ve gained some wisdom during my recent season of growth. Wisdom valuable enough to share. So that’s one of the things I plan to do with this brand-new, shiny blog.

First up is some advice for husbands based upon the Bible verses found above (Proverbs 5:17-20). If you aren’t one to believe in much of what the Bible has to say, you should still take a gander. It’s just some good advice for all of us husbands, no matter your religious views. Proverbs, after all, is a book of plain-spoken wisdom. The Message makes it even easier to understand for a country boy like me!

So listen up husbands: You are married to the most wonderful woman in the world. No, really, you are! OK, actually I am. But, you see, you are too. Have I confused you yet?

And before you “call me out” on it, I want to clarify that I know some of you are probably not married to a “wonderful woman”—been there, and understand the frustration. But the larger point to understand, is that if you are married, you owe it to yourself and your wife to see her as the most wonderful, beautiful woman in the entire world. She should know that you consider her “lovely as an angel” and hear you say she’s as “beautiful as a rose.” Some of you need to quit laughing. A good many of you can wipe the disgusted look off your face. And for those of you who already know she’s certain of your admiration and love: Good job! Keep it up!

There are many reasons we husbands neglect this simple advice—to “enjoy” our wives, to “bless” them, to NEVER take them for granted! Some of my personal reasons were work, work, and more work (I literally worked a job, ran a business, and managed rental property for the first 7 years of our marriage). Who’s got time to emotionally invest in marriage in the midst of all that busy-ness? I’m sure a lot of you can identify. There were also my preoccupations with hobbies (from cars to football and much in between), preoccupations with stupid wastes-of-time (facebook, anyone?), and some emotional baggage I carried from a previous heartache as well as my parents’ divorce.

There are so many more reasons we husbands fail to follow the “words of wisdom” found above. Resentment, bitterness, lack of forgiveness, laziness, selfishness, rebellion, hardened hearts…the list can go on and on. One of the biggest challenges we men face in completely honoring our wives (making her feel beautiful, enjoying her, blessing her, NEVER taking her for granted, etc.) is our battle with lust. I personally don’t know a single man who hasn’t struggled with this battle in some regard—even the most morally upright men I know! Due to our visual nature, and how we are wired, it’s going to be an issue that we as men will deal with. However, a lot of us choose not to “deal with it.” We choose to feed it! Bad choice!

You see, when you are fantasizing over movie-stars, models, and random girls who expose themselves all over the Internet, you are choosing to exchange “enduring intimacies” with the most wonderful woman in your world for “cheap thrills” with a whore. It’s an awful and painful price to pay. And you pay this heavy, heavy price for something cheap and meaningless!

So what’s the answer? How do we deal with it? I think the most important response is found in God and trusting Him to give victory in your life over lustful thoughts. In my life, this is a critical part of the answer. However, even outside of a dependance upon God, there are some important things you can do to honor your wife. First, make up your mind that this is a battle you will fight! No more “boys will be boys” attitude that excuses your actions. And secondly, determine in your heart and mind that your wife is THE standard for beauty, hotness, sexyness, etc. My wife is absolutely the standard in my mind of what a beautiful, sexy woman looks like. There is no comparison! And there never will be! This mindset makes a world of difference for me in my thought life and the temptations I face.

So do it boys! Honor your wife, enjoy her, delight in her, bless her! Determine in your heart and mind that she is the loveliest lady ever, “beautiful as a rose.” Make sure she knows it not only through your words but with your actions. Make her THE standard for beauty in your life and do it today. Enduring intimacies with your wife are soooo much more enjoyable than the cheap thrills you’ll find anywhere else!

And for all you gals who may be reading, I have some advice for you too. Understand the battle your husbands face and give them a little grace. Men are wired to be visual and we definitely live in a visual world. Don’t excuse the actions when lines are crossed, but be willing to be understanding and helpful to your husband as he tackles this challenge!