Sunday, May 28, 2006

Marriage...and our Lord

Ok. I'm not married nor am I getting married soon, but as I've been reading Captivating, I've been thinking about what it means to have Christ be my true love, my first love, my perfect love. I've been thinking about what my heart desires and how that desire/need is met. I want to be pursued...I want someone to find me see my mind as uncharted waters they can't wait to explore. I want them to view my soul as the Louisiana Purchase, something they have some sort of stake in, though they don't know what all it contains. I got this in my e-mail devotional, today, and at first I hated reading it because I don't want to read things that make me doubt my single status or that eat away at my faith in God's plan, but then I realized that this post wasn't just about the way a husband and wife should act. It's about how we should be with our Lord. We don't know God, and we should be eager to learn all about Him, though we can never even dream of understanding. We should take pleasure in pursuing our Lord with our whole hearts, growing in our love for Him. When we're in a healthy relationship with God, I believe we will be able to have healthy relationships with each other. Our love for God will spill over into our relationships and shape our marriages. It will be amazing. Check out Isaiah 54. It's pretty tight.

And here's my e-mail devotional from today:

"Behold, I am coming soon!" (Revelation 22:12)

Lisa and I went to see the movie "Seabiscuit" with Rob and Jill, two of our closest friends. At the start of the movie, I sat by Rob and Lisa sat by Jill, so that Lisa and Jill could share some unbuttered popcorn and Rob and I could assault our arteries with the buttered kind. But halfway through the movie, Lisa had to get up for a moment, and Rob slipped over to sit by his wife.

There was something wonderfully refreshing in seeing a man who has been married for eighteen years still eager to sit by his wife for the last hour of a movie. That simple movement said a great deal about Rob and Jill's marriage, and it personifies a biblical truth.

I heard of one wedding in which the bridegroom actually walked down the aisle instead of the bride, in order to capture the biblical picture of Christ -- the bridegroom -- going to his bride, the church. As Christ pursues the church, so the husband is to pursue his wife. (Note to future husbands: it's rare the woman indeed who would even consider giving up that famous walk down the aisle; I wouldn't recommend trying this at home!)

Marriage is more than a commitment; it is a movement toward someone. Husbands, are you still moving toward your wife? Or have you settled in, assuming you know her as well as she can be known, and thus turning your sights to other discoveries and challenges? Even worse, are you violating your vows with the "silent treatment" or a refusal to communicate?

Wives, are you moving toward your husband? Are you still pursuing him, seeking to get to know him, trying to draw closer to him? Have you considered new ways to please and pleasure him, or have you become stagnant in judgment, falling back to see if he'll come after you?

Jesus moves towards us even in our sin; will we move toward our spouses even in theirs?

Movement is about more than communication; it's about the force of our wills. Are we choosing to pursue greater intimacy in our relationship? Do we seek to resolve conflict, or do we push it aside, assuming "it's not worth the hassle" while letting our love grow colder? Are we still trying to understand our spouses' worlds -- their temptations and trials, their frustrations and challenges -- or are we too consumed with our own? Are we praying for our spouses, encouraging them to grow in grace and holiness, or are we tearing them down behind their backs, gossiping about them so everyone will feel sorry for how difficult we have it?

Honestly ask yourself, "Do I know my spouse any better today than I did three years ago?" If not, maybe you've stopped moving toward your spouse. And if you've stopped moving toward your spouse, you've stopped being married in the fully biblical sense of the word.

This week, why not launch yourself on a new exploration -- your spouse? Why not see what new things you can learn -- how you can grow even closer to each other, how you can give up a little more independence and embrace a little more interdependence? Why not make a renewed attempt to study your spouse every bit as much as a biology student studies the movement of cells under a microscope or a seminary student pores over thick reference books late into the night?

So many people say the "excitement" has left their marriage. Well, exploration is one of the most exciting journeys known to humankind. Most of the globe has been mapped, many times over -- but that person who wears your ring? There are still secrets yet unknown and yet to be explored on that side of the bed.

So get busy!

Saturday, May 27, 2006

I think Something Needs to be Done

Something needs to be done to strengthen the body of Christ. Something needs to be done to help Christians in America underestand the personal relationship they have with Christ. Something needs to be done so that young men won't disappear from the church as soon as they get confirmed. Something needs to be done so that young people won't feel like being confirmed is some obligation that they have, something they do because it is required of them, something they do to please their parents. Something needs to be done so they can realize that coming together at church for worship or Sunday school or Bible study is a remarkable blessing and privelage. They need to be lit on fire! Something needs to be done to bring young people together as a family in Christ so that they feel connected to the larger group and know that they're loved. Something needs to be done so that the church in America would stop shrinking as the church grows overseas. The Gospel has yet to be declared to all the nations, but gains are being made. But we're losing ground in the United States, which saddens me deeply. Something needs to be done. I have ideas, but I don't know if I'm the one to execute them. I just pray that God would lead someone to minister to these young people. I pray that God's will is the something that is done.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Under attack...good thing I have friends

*sigh* There's so much on my mind, again...probably because in my 10 hours on the assembly I have a lot of time to think. I'm excited and scared about the girls' group this summer. I mean, the opportunity is exciting and things are falling into place, which is typically a sign that I am pursuing God's will and not just some whim of my own, but I'm so anxious...I mean, do you believe in spiritual warfare? Not everyone does, but I do, especially right now. It seems whenever I get going on something having to do with the girls' group, whenever I'm getting stuff together for the retreat or for our first meeting, I'm suddenly hit with fear and doubts and insecurities. Like when I was mailing out invitations to all the girls at church, I was so afraid because some of those girls I didn't know and some of them, I don't expect to come, and some came last year but I don't know if they'll be disappointed to see my name on the letter. I mean, who wants to spend the summer with me? Who really wants to spend time talking with me about what it means to be a girl of God? I don't have any of the answers, I know that. God is the only one who can answer the questions because it's perfectly clear that I am not a godly woman....yet? The dumb part is the fact that as I prepare to talk to these girls about how they are beautiful, how they are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139), I'm hit with concerns about my recent weight gain, with the fact that I now way as much as I did my freshman year of high school, before I was all anorexic...I finally gained the weight back, and it scares me a bit...I wasn't happy when I was here before, but choosing to work my butt off to lose all that weight never made me happy either...So clearly, it's not an issue of weight, it's an issue of how I look at myself in the mirror. The solution is not to work out for hours and count calories, it's to work on my insides so I can look at myself in the mirror, no matter how bit I am, and tell myself that I truly am beautiful. I guess I'm scared and unsure about the girls' group ministry this summer. I mean, I feel called to be doing it, I have a vision for where to take it, but...I feel so...doubted...I doubt my abilities, and it seems that some of the people around me doubt my abilities, my motives, my decision to spend my money on it...I just...need to pray, I guess. I would appreciate your prayers as well. It'd help a'd also help if there was someone else who cared to hear my plans, someone who could be excited with me and share in my passion and my vision...but I'm not alone...God is with me, and He shares my passion and vision for these young ladies because He loves them, too. So, by God's grace and with His strength, I'll press on.

(Sidenote: I want to thank the anonymous blogger who has been've encouraged me on a number of days, now...that means a lot to me.)

residual thoughts

I was thinking, today...surprising, I know. :P

Seriously, though, I was thinking about love. *sigh* Yes, my friend, I said I was thinking about how magnificent God's love for me is, and how thankful I am for that love. God is truly the lover of my soul. He's all I need. How flippin' awesome is that? I mean, just as I was despairing about what it means to be have passed up on be risking abandonment...a life of singleness...loneliness...anyway, just as I was pondering such thoughts and feelings, I was overwhelmed by God's love for me. I was struck by His beauty, His care, His kindness...He is the lover of my heart and soul. He's better than any man.

Then I realized that my husband would love me like God does. He will love me as Christ loves me...or as nearly as he can. No, he won't be perfect, nor will his love be perfect, but he'll use Christ as a model. He'll find me captivating...and beautiful...he'll love my soul...and my body. It'll be amazing...don't get me wrong, though. I'm not in a hurry. I have God. I'll always have God, and that's more than enough for me.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

a thank you

I really want to thank whoever posted the anonymous comment on my blog yesterday.

Today, I found myself pondering God's thoughts towards me, His daughter. I was thinking about the times when I feel gorgeous. It seems the times I feel the best about myself, the times I look the best, the times I am at my most witty, the times when I'm passionately absorbed in something, the times that I sing the best, the times that I am funny and charming...are all times that I am alone.

I don't know if anyone notices me during the times when I feel like a true beauty, when I feel like I'm spinning in circles in a twirly skirt...on the inside. It kind of makes me sad. I mean, yeah, I want someone who loves me when I'm far from being at my finest, but I also wish someone would notice me when I feel gorgeous and share in my joy...share in my beauty.

Anyway, I realize that it's silly to have expectations like that about a man...friend or otherwise...And I started to think about what God thought of me. I wondered if He smiled at the times when I feel gorgeous and feel like dancing, if He liked the songs I sing in the shower, if He chuckles when I fall asleep talking to Him in McRory Gardens...I just...I wondered if He really did love me like that.

That's when I read that comment...that anonymous comment that said that God was captivated by made me blush. I mean, it's me. God is the one who is captivating and amazing...the thought of Him loving me like that...makes me want to cry. It does go along with Isaiah 54:5, though...God being a husband...God is everything because He is that amazing.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Who am I? Can I be beautiful too?

It's true. Everything I've been reading in Captivating is true. I do want romance; I want to be pursued. I want to be an important and necessary part of an adventure; I long to be needed. I want to be beautiful....

When I was little, I wanted people to be fascinated by think I was special and worth their time. I was a charmer and an entertainer...I sang and told jokes...I danced and smiled.

I grew up. I don't know when it was that I started to realize that I was different...when I started to realize that not everyone wanted to see what I could do...that not everyone cares about Takara.

Maybe it was middle school. I kept trying to find ways to make me stand out. Labels that would set me apart as special and interesting and amazing. I was the "tall one"...I tried to be an athlete. I was a musician for a while...a bassoonist. I was the smart one. Nothing worked. Maybe that's why I was anorexic; I don't even quite know why I was, anymore. It hasn't mattered.

The real point is the fact that I'm almost grown up, now. I don't get to hide behind accomplishments and hobbies. I can't use them to make myself seem more important...I'm too old for that...I've tried to cope a bajillion different ways. I've managed to be both the timid girl that hides behind busyness to avoid letting people see her as well as the controlling girl who tries not to need anyone...yeah, I'm not very good at not needing people, but the fact of the matter is that I actually am broken...or fallen. I'm not the kind of woman I was made to be, and it kind of kills me inside. It scares me. Even though I'm reading a book that talks about how every woman is beautiful, though they typically have their doubts about it, I feel like it's true for everyone but me. Example: I was reading out at the dam, today...I sat in a tree and read a chapter before walking back to my car. As I walked, I thought about how there were too many people around. I wondered if they were looking at me. A part of me hoped they were and that they were thinking about the beautiful girl out at the river by herself...but another part of me dreaded the thought of them looking at me. I mean what if they were actually thinking about how my hair was looking sloppy and how my hips are too wide...what if they saw that I wasn't showing my teeth when I smiled or...something...

It just seems a wee bit ironic that I could talk to young girls about how they are beautiful and precious and deserve to be treated as such...when I struggle to say that to myself...or treat myself that way...

So, just as my book suggests, I am plagued by questions: Am I lovely? Do you see me? Do you want to see me? Are you captivated by what you find in me?

I don't know that I'm looking for anyone to post answers...I don't know if I'd believe them...I mean, they'd just be words...

I want to be beautiful...

Beautiful by Bethany Dillon...I'll post my thoughts in a few minutes...but these lyrics...they're my soul's cry.

I was so unique
Now I feel skin deep
I count on the make-up to cover it all
Crying myself to sleep cause I
cannot keep their attention
I thought I could be strong
But it's killing me

Does someone hear my cry?
I'm dying for new life

I want to be beautiful
Make you stand in awe
Look inside my heart,
and be amazed
I want to hear you say
Who I am is quite enough
Just want to be worthy of love
And beautiful

Sometimes I wish I was someone other than me
Fighting to make the mirror happy
Trying to find whatever is missing
Won't you help me back to glory


You make me beautiful
You make me stand in awe
You step inside my heart, and I am amazed
I love to hear You say
Who I am is quite enough
You make me worthy of love and beautiful

Monday, May 01, 2006

Love or Fear?

Luther's meaning of the First Commandment, as recorded in Luther's Small Catechism (which I diligently memorized years ago for my confirmation but can no long precisely recall in its enirity), he writes, "We are to fear, love and trust God above all else." This is a common theme through out Luther's Catechism..."fear, love, and trust". It's a seeming paradox, for it does hold great truth about the nature of our realationship with God.

My e-mail devotion for the day addressed this topic:
“Fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge. Only fools despise wisdom and discipline” (Proverbs 1:7).

"Are we to fear or love God?" asked our facilitator in a small group.

After a brief discussion we concluded that we are to do both: fear and love God. How can that be?

Fear without love makes God a merciless judge waiting to pounce on us if we do wrong. We don’t want to get near a God like that.

Love without fear, however, makes God to be a comedian who wants everyone to just be happy--- the old man in the sky with flowing white hair patting everyone on the head, mumbling, "Bless you. Everything will be just fine." That’s not love. It’s sentimental fluff.

Because God is awesome and holy, we fear Him. Because God is kind and good, we love Him.

In C.S. Lewis’ book, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, the children are to meet Aslan, the lion king of Narnia and they are afraid. "Is he tame?" one asks.

"Oh, no," Mr. Beaver says. "You have every right to be afraid of him, for he is fierce."

Then he smiles at the children, "but don’t be afraid, Aslan is not tame but he is good."

We are to fear God, to honor and respect Him, to live in awe of His power, and to obey His Word. But because we know He is good, we also love and trust Him.

Consider a child who loves and trusts his father. He knows his father will provide for him, look after him, protect him, stand by him and fight for him. Still, when he’s been naughty, he’s afraid all the same. Why? "What will dad do to me now?" he worries. He knows that he’s done something to displease his father and there will be consequences.

And what does a loving father do? Excuse bad behavior? Allow it to continue? No. Because he loves his child deeply, he’ll allow him or her to face the consequences. Otherwise, the child will not learn about the real world. The child will not grow and mature and learn from his or her mistakes.

Real love takes the long-term view. It punishes to prevent more harm. It disciplines to create more growth. It sometimes withholds what we think is good to give us something better.

Thus, the love of God is both tough and tender. Our response to a God like that is to fear and love Him.

~Father, I thank You that You love me enough to discipline me.

It very much reminds me of Hebrews 12:
1Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. 2Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
4In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. 5And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons:
"My son, do not make light of the Lord's discipline,
and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,
6because the Lord disciplines those he loves,
and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son."[a]

7Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? 8If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. 9Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! 10Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. 11No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

12Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. 13"Make level paths for your feet,"[b] so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.

Warning Against Refusing God
14Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. 15See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many. 16See that no one is sexually immoral, or is godless like Esau, who for a single meal sold his inheritance rights as the oldest son. 17Afterward, as you know, when he wanted to inherit this blessing, he was rejected. He could bring about no change of mind, though he sought the blessing with tears.
18You have not come to a mountain that can be touched and that is burning with fire; to darkness, gloom and storm; 19to a trumpet blast or to such a voice speaking words that those who heard it begged that no further word be spoken to them, 20because they could not bear what was commanded: "If even an animal touches the mountain, it must be stoned."[c] 21The sight was so terrifying that Moses said, "I am trembling with fear."[d]

22But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, 23to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the judge of all men, to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, 24to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.

25See to it that you do not refuse him who speaks. If they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, how much less will we, if we turn away from him who warns us from heaven? 26At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, "Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens."[e] 27The words "once more" indicate the removing of what can be shaken—that is, created things—so that what cannot be shaken may remain.

28Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, 29for our "God is a consuming fire."

For some reason, that imagery very much appeals to me. I like that my Father loves me enough to punish me when I do wrong yet has grace enough to sustain me and encourage me to do better. That's my meditation for the day, I guess.

Grace and peace to each of you.


A few thoughts on what love is. Yes, some of them came from a forward, others did not, but give 'em a might just get all starry-eyed...or teary-eyed...I did...

A group of professional people posed this question to a group of 4 to 8 year-olds: "What does love mean?" The answers they got were broader and deeper than anyone could have imagined. See what you think:

"When my grandmother got arthritis, she couldn't bend over and paint her
toenails anymore.
So my grandfather does it for her all the time, even when his hands got
arthritis too. That's love."
Rebecca- age 8

"When someone loves you, the way they say your name is different.
You just know that your name is safe in their mouth."
Billy - age 4

"Love is when a girl puts on perfume and a boy puts on shaving cologne and
they go out and smell each other."
Karl - age 5

"Love is when you go out to eat and give somebody most of your French fries
without making them give you any of theirs."
Chrissy - age 6

"Love is what makes you smile when you're tired."
Terri - age 4

"Love is when my mommy makes coffee for my daddy and she takes a sip before
giving it to him, to make sure the taste is OK."
Danny - age 7

"Love is when you kiss all the time. Then when you get tired of kissing, you still want to be together and you talk more.
My Mommy and Daddy are like that. They look gross when they kiss"
Emily - age 8

"Love is what's in the room with you at Christmas if you stop opening
presents and listen."
Bobby - age 7

"If you want to learn to love better, you should start with a friend who
you hate,"
Nikka - age 6

"Love is when you tell a guy you like his shirt, then he wears it
Noelle - age 7

"Love is like a little old woman and a little old man who are still friends
even after they know each other so well."
Tommy - age 6

"During my piano recital, I was on a stage and I was scared. I looked at all the people watching me and saw my daddy waving and smiling. He was the only one doing that. I wasn't scared anymore."
Cindy - age 8

"My mommy loves me more than anybody .
You don't see anyone else kissing me to sleep at night."
Clare - age 6

"Love is when Mommy gives Daddy the best piece of chicken."
Elaine-age 5

"Love is when Mommy sees Daddy smelly and sweaty and still says he is
handsomer than Robert Redford."
Chris - age 7

"Love is when your puppy licks your face even after you left him alone all day."
Mary Ann - age 4

"I know my older sister loves me because she gives me all her old clothes
and has to go out and buy new ones."
Lauren - age 4

"When you love somebody, your eyelashes go up and down and little stars
come out of you."
Karen - age 7

"Love is when Mommy sees Daddy on the toilet and she doesn't think it's gross."
Mark - age 6

"You really shouldn't say 'I love you' unless you mean it. But if you mean
it, you should say it a lot. People forget."
Jessica - age 8

"Love is when a girl asks for a french fry, and he gives her all of them."
Nikki- age 4

And the final one -- Author and lecturer Leo Buscagla once talked
about a contest he was asked to judge.
The purpose of the contest was to find the most caring child.
The winner was a four year old child whose next door neighbor
was an elderly gentleman who had recently lost his wife.
Upon seeing the man cry, the little boy went into the old
gentleman's yard, climbed onto his lap, and just sat there.
When his Mother asked what he had said to the neighbor, the little boy said,
"Nothing, I just helped him cry"

Genesis 22:2
"And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of."

Genesis 24:67
"And Isaac brought her into his mother Sarah's tent, and took Rebekah, and she became his wife; and he loved her: and Isaac was comforted after his mother's death."

Genesis 29:20
"And Jacob served seven years for Rachel; and they seemed unto him but a few days, for the love he had to her."

Exodus 20:6
"And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments."

Deuteronomy 6:5
"And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might."

1 John 4:18
"There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love."

Matthew 10:37
"He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me."

Proverbs 10:12
"Hatred stirreth up strifes: but love covereth all sins."

Romans 8:38-39
"For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

Ephesians 5:25-32
"25Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;

26That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,

27That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.

28So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself.

29For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church:

30For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.

31For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.

32This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church."

Hebrews 6:10-12
" 10For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister.

11And we desire that every one of you do shew the same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end:

12That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises."

Matthew 22:37
"Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind."

Romans 12:9
"Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good."

Peter 1:22
"Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently:"

1 John 3:18
"My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth."

John 15:13
"Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends."

Romans 5:8
"But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."

-A lot to read, I know, but I hope you enjoyed it....May the love of Christ fill your hearts and light up your lives.