Oh what a night…

Today I finally got around to adding the additional pics from my wedding taken by my good friend Aaron over at Carp Dime to Facebook.  As I was going through and remembering that special day I couldn’t help but recognize how incredibly blessed I truly am.  Though the journey has been a long and hard one it has brought about a lot of good.

I have learned a lot throughout it all but the greatest lesson I have learned is to trust God in all things.  To follow His voice above the noise and to choose to love and do right instead of choosing evil.

I have been blessed beyond measure and I know it is because of God’s unconditional love and grace.

Some special moments from December 1, 2012

My "other half"

I love my husband.  I love my husband more than I can express in words.  As I type those words, my eyes fill with tears from the flood of emotion.  I have never known this.  On the other side, my husband loves me.  He loves me with an intensity that too is beyond description.  It is a love that I was made to believe did not exist. Now, because of him, I am confident that it is real.

Over the years, I was given books and articles written by Christian writers debunking the myth of “Hollywood love” or true love.  I read what was written believing that settling for a relationship and not expecting to be loved, honored or cherished was the way love worked.  It was a lie.  It was a frustrating lie.  It was a lie that left me feeling empty and cold.  I became cynical and grew to accept that I did not deserve to be loved unconditionally.  I did not deserve to be honored.  I did not deserve to be desired by someone.  It left me feeling as if I did not matter.  It left me doubting God’s love.

I find it fascinating that anyone would say that true love does not exist.  It is like saying that God’s love is not real.  Clearly, in 1 Corinthians 13:4 a clear picture of love is painted.

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud
or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged.It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out.Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

Again, in Romans 5:8 we read that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  Does that not sound like something that comes straight out of a Hollywood movie?  Someone giving up their life for the one they love?

I read those verses and I hear true love. I hear what I see in the movies.  Is it really a love that is too good to be true? A love that no one can live up to?  Love cannot be that perfect.  Right?!  So we are made to believe.

I found true love.  I believe it does exist.  For me, it started with finally finding security in my relationship with Christ.  It began with me allowing the walls of hurt to fall.  By allowing those walls to be removed, it gave Him the room to fill me up and take His rightful place in my life.  (You can read about that discovery here and here.) From there my heart began to heal.  It was made ready for the one who would love me the way in which God designed us to love.

On December 1, I married my soul mate.  I say that today after claiming for a very long time such a thing did not exist.  My heart had grown cold to the idea that anyone could love me in such a way.  The idea that someone could be my “other half” was a laughable notion.  After a roller coaster ride with many curves, loops and gigantic hills, I found mine.  I found the person who completes me.  As cheesy as that line many sound, it is the truth.  He is my other half.

Our love is not all about butterflies and roses all the time.  Matthew and I can argue with the best of them.  We would not be human if we did not disagree every once in a while.  It all comes back to those disagreements. Those disagreements are what balance us out.  It keeps us in check.  It is in those moments that I realize what I have with him.  In the middle of an argument, I see the love in his eyes or hear the hurt in his voice and I want nothing more than to grab hold of him and not let go.  Those moments in the middle of an argument makes me see the man I absolutely adore with every fiber of my being and no longer care if I am right or wrong.   Those special moments come because this man loves me as he is called to love me.  He loves me as Christ loves the church.

It is fascinating to discover that God’s truth is real.  When things are lined up as God has arranged them to be, everything falls into place.  Love becomes a fairy tale.  That fairy tale is made real by those moments in which my husband makes me confident of his love.  He lives out his love for me.  It is not just words.  It is not just ending a phone call with “love you.”  It is lived out on a daily basis.  He writes me and has written me countless love letters.  It is not unusual for me to get into my car and find a letter in the visor reminding me of how much he loves me. It is not unusual for him to ask me to dance in the middle of the lobby of an Olive Garden with Frank Sinatra crooning away over the speaker.  It is not unusual for my husband to sit up with me at night when my head is hurting too much to sleep even when he has to get up at four in the morning.  It is not unusual for me to find my husband staring at me with a look of love flowing from his eyes.  His love for me is perfect.  His love for me is complete. However, I know that the love he has for me comes because of his love for the Lord. The love Matthew has for me is an overflow of his relationship with Christ.  For the first time in my life, because of my husband, I get a taste of how my Father in Heaven not only sees me but how He loves me.  It is amazing.  It is a gift.  It is a blessing. 

God has a design for marriage.  Matthew and I were flipping through Song of Solomon and I realized that God loves romance.  He created romance. We read:

You have captured my heart,

    my treasure,<sup value="[c]”>[c] my bride.

You hold it hostage with one glance of your eyes,

    with a single jewel of your necklace.

 Your love delights me,

    my treasure, my bride.

Your love is better than wine,

    your perfume more fragrant than spices.

Your lips are as sweet as nectar, my bride.

Song of Solomon 4:9-11

What a beautifully romantic passage. How tender and sweet. Full of love.  God created those things around us that add romance to our world.  Those birds that sing love songs to one another in the trees.  He created those butterflies that dance from flower to flower.  He created the flowers that grace us every spring with color and fragrance. He created the sunrises that greet us every morning with a breath-taking splendor of color. God created romance.  It was His idea.  His creation.  And it is all because God IS love. 

Grounded in Truth

Love this devotional! It is full of truth and well needed life application.  Living a life grounded in God’s truth is a powerful life!

Grounded in Truth
Charles Stanley

Psalm 25:4-10

If we’ll let the truths of Scripture fill our minds, guard our emotions, and influence our conduct, God will richly reward us. I’m talking about spiritual blessings here (though He at times chooses to bless materially as well). By reading and meditating on His Word, you’ll learn to understand His ways. This isn’t something we can figure out on our own, because His ways are unlike ours—they are higher, bigger, and eternal.

Also, your relationship with the Lord will grow increasingly more intimate because He chooses to reveal Himself to those who seek Him and obey His instructions. When you see that God always keeps His promises, your confidence in His faithfulness will soar. No matter what the situation, you’ll know you can trust Him. Then He’ll transform your worries into joyful anticipation about what He’s going to do next in your life. Even if hard times await, you’ll be convinced that the Lord will work them out for good.

A life grounded in truth is powerful. Those who live by the Word develop spiritual discernment, which guides their choices and guards against deception. Because they demonstrate wisdom and godliness, the Lord enables them to impact others greatly. Since He knows they can be trusted, He also gives them greater responsibilities and opportunities for service in His kingdom.

With all this available to us, wouldn’t it be wise to invest our time and energy in building the truth of God’s Word into our lives? The other activities which clamor for our attention seem so important or pleasurable, but none of them can offer us the spiritual riches of a life grounded in truth.

Troubled Heart

We all know I love my husband.  Not a secret.  Today I love him even more.  A few postings ago I wrote about the wedding gift that he gave to me the night we were married.  It was a calendar with each date marked with a different passage of randomly chosen scripture.  Scripture picked and placed on days without any rhyme or reason.

Today’s verse is from John 14 and says; Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. God in His sovereignty knew how my day would go today and He blessed me with an amazing husband who walks with Him in obedience and wrote down that verse for this day for me months ago.  As my husband reminded me of the verse for today, it was as if God spoke into my heart reassuring me that He is here.  I am overwhelmed. So amazing!  So awesome to see God’s hand at work.  To feel His presence.  To know that you are loved and protected.  It is incredible.

God loves His children.  He speaks to us through His Word. He provides our every need.  Every one of them.  It is amazing.  Once again, what the enemy meant for harm, God has used for good AGAIN!  Life is good!  God is good!  He is faithful beyond words!


The Lord himself will fight for you. Just stay calm.
Exodus 14:14

God fights for me.  When I stay still, He fights.  When I stay quiet, He fights.  When I stay calm, God continues to fight on my behalf.  I do not have to do anything.  He will do it all if I just choose to follow Him in simple obedience.

Each time that there is suffering from some form of pain, injustice or offense, I have to remember that people are not my enemy.  Satan is my enemy.  Satan’s mission is to steal, kill and destroy.  He works hard to accomplish his agenda.  However being a child of an awesome God, I am given an incredible secret weapon.  It is a weapon that is certain to defeat the enemy and most assuredly destroy his agenda.
Back to the verse from my last post, Romans 12:21, “Do not let yourself be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”  Hidden in that verse is the weapon.  It is one that the enemy absolutely hates because he knows that he CANNOT stand up against it.  It is only a secret weapon because most Christians miss its simplicity.  As a Christians, I am given the God-given ability to be good to people who offend and hurt me.  My flesh may scream out for revenge but God tells me to press through the hurt by repaying all evil with good.  Good overcomes all evil.  Just like the saying, “kill ‘em with kindness.”  It is that simple.

Don’t get me wrong though, being good can be hard when I am on emotional overload but God does not ask me to do anything without giving me what I need to accomplish it.  He has given me the power of the Holy Spirit who lives within me. He has given me the power to remain rational and calm.  He is there to help me “to be good.”  It is by God’s grace and mercy that I can cry out to Him for help no matter how hurt I am because of the actions and words of others.  Instead of lashing out at them, He gives me the strength to offer a simple kind word or even pray for them.  I CAN overcome evil with good.  I can extend kindness and grace by choosing to obey His word because of the grace He bestowed upon me through the work of His Son on the cross.  Choosing to follow His truth in obedience is surely an act of my will.  I have to make the conscience choice to be kind and “do good” but eventually I find that the right feelings follow as God works it all out in my heart.

God’s truth has brought me so much freedom.  It has released me from the evil in the world and the hold it can have on my life.  Knowing that God is on my side and that He fights for me allows me to let go and “be good” because HE equips me with all I need to stand against the enemy.  Because of this freedom, I can make my own choices as to how I will react to a situation instead of being a prisoner to the bitterness and negative emotions that can consume me and rob me of God’s blessings in my life.  If I want a life that is fruitful for Christ then I must live a faithful life that reflects God’s word to be true.  Good DOES overcome evil!

The good, the bad and the harvest of blessing…

Feelings.  We women have a plethora of feelings.  Our feelings can drive us in all sorts of crazy directions.  Sometimes when we are dealing with hurt, it is incredibly hard to rein those feelings in and look for truth at the heart of a situation.

Every second of every day, evil is at work.  Not a minute passes by that evil is not attempting to trip us up or get us tangled in the mess that feelings can bring.  When we are hurting, human nature screams for revenge.  We want payback.  We want to see someone get what is coming to them.  Those feelings can drive us to do evil things.  That is where truth steps in and we let go of feelings.

Romans 12:21 says that we are “not to be overcome by evil but to overcome evil with good.”  Not particularly the thing in which we want to do when we are hurting.  It is much easier to lash out.  It feels good to get those feelings out.  In that moment anyway.  Later when conviction sets in, we realize what we have said or done to hurt another.  Suddenly we are feeling worse.  Suddenly our troubles have grown.  We have created quite the mess.

There is a reason why we are told to overcome evil with good.  There is a reason why we are told in Ephesians to be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you. (4:32)  When we walk a life professing to follow Christ, we are to promote peace, kindness, love and forgiveness.  When someone has wronged us, we are truly to turn the other cheek.  We are to follow the example Christ set for us.  If we want forgiveness from God then we must offer forgiveness to others. Personally, it frustrates me.  It is hard when my family is constantly being hurt. Personally, I am tired of being bullied.  I am tired of people who use their power to abuse others.  However, I follow an awesome God.  He sent His Son to give up His life for me and so I choose to be a reflection of Christ.  I choose to forgive.  Because of these choices, I am reaping the benefits of following Him in obedience.

So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone—especially to those in the family of faith.

Galatians 6:9-10

By choosing to do good, God blesses.  I have never known that to be truer than I do right now.  Not too long ago, yet again, evil tried to harm my family.  In someone’s attempt to cause dissension and hurt through manipulation and drama, I witnessed God do something great.  What someone meant for bad, God turned it around and used it for good.  My family became closer.  My children grew closer to their step-dad.  An event transpired that brought truth to light for us all and a great revelation occurred. 

Over a year ago, I received an email from a woman who reminded me that true character reveals itself in time.  For a year, I have patiently waited for my children to discover truth.  It is happening. It is truly a remarkable thing when you can experience God working.  To clearly see good overcome something that was meant to hurt and destroy is exciting. 

Sometimes we cannot stop the evil.  Sometimes the story, the good and bad parts have to play out.  No matter how ugly it can get I am learning that it is best to sit back and give God the control.  Allowing the story to unfold the way in which He has it written allows the good to radiate through leaving you to recognize that it is clearly Him doing the great and good work in your life.  I am so thankful for the good and the bad.  It is hard to sit back and be hurt but letting go of the feelings and focusing on what I know to be true allows God the room He needs to do great things in my story.

Today as I write this out and think through the events that have transpired,  I am so incredibly thankful for my husband. He sets an example for my children.  My husband is not perfect and he has made bad choices in his life.  However, I know the kind of man that he is…he does not blame others for his mistakes.  He takes ownership and seeks forgiveness.  He stays silent when others would try to cause him harm.  He trusts God to handle the issues and turns the other cheek.  He does not speak ill of others.  Especially in front of my children.  He is amazing that way and my children recognize that in him.  It is evident what a person who walks with Christ should look like and they are able to compare others accordingly in order to seek out truth.  What someone did in order to cause harm in my family, God turned it around and used it as a time to draw my family closer to together.  God is faithful in ALL things.  He is definitely my Protector.  He promises to protect His children and when we allow Him that position, He is faithful to fulfill His promises.  I am learning that you do not mess with His kids!

Verdict revealed

So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death.

Romans 8:1-2

I’m sitting in a courtroom at a table near the judge’s bench.

Someone says ‘All rise’ and everyone stands. Suddenly there is lightning and thunder, smoke and fire as the Judge enters the room. The Judge is the most terrifying, frightening, glorious being you have ever seen. Winged beings fly around him, covering their faces while crying, “Holy! Holy! Holy!” Everyone in the court room falls to the floor in abject fear. Then the Judge sits down, slams his gavel on his desk, and says, “Let the proceedings begin.”

Now the prosecutor stands. My blood runs cold as I see that the prosecutor is none other than the ancient Serpent himself. He is trembling and I see the fear in the yellow slits of his eyes as he nervously inches forward toward the Judge’s bench and summons up the courage to speak.

“Your Honor, you are the righteoussss Judge,” he hisses. ”All justice is in your hands. And I – I demand justice this morning. You see, the defendant” – and he turns slowly and looks right at…ME, with his terrible eyes. And he slowly points a long, gnarled finger at me – “The defendant is guilty of breaking your holy law and has violated divine justice. He has rebelled against you, ignored you and spit in your face. He has failed to thank you for all your blessings, and he has worshipped false gods. These crimes must be punished! Give the defendant to me – let me take him where he deserves to go.”

There is silence in courtroom. Every eye is on the Judge. And my heart is sinking because every accusation of the prosecutor is true.

Suddenly the silence is broken and I hear someone say loudly, “I OBJECT Your Honor!” Every eye turns to see the defense attorney standing beside me. How had I not seen him before?

“I have paid for the defendant’s crimes – every one. Remember, I took his place and his punishment and satisfied your justice on the cross.”

“Objection sustained!” says the Judge.

“But Your Honor,” snarls the prosecutor, “Even last week the defendant had over a hundred ssssselfish thoughts in his mind. The defendant doubted your goodness and hated someone in his heart. You said that’s the same as murder. He must be punished!”

“Objection Your Honor! Again, I paid for those sins as well.”

“Objection sustained!”

“But Your Honor…” I think I detect a note of desperation in the prosecutor’s voice. ”Not only has the defendant committed willful crimes, but he has failed to love you with all his heart, soul, mind and strength from the day he was born. That’s the great commandment. And he fails to love his neighbor as himself, the second greatest commandment, every day.”

“Objection! Your Honor I not only paid for all the sins he actively committed, but I paid for all he failed to do as well. I paid for all his failures with his children. All the times he’s failed to love his wife. I paid for every failure. And you have decreed that once sin is paid for it does not need to be paid for a second time.”

“Objection sustained!” Shouts the judge slamming his gavel down on his desk.

“But Your Honor…”

“Sit down Mr. Prosecutor. I’ve heard quite enough from you. There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. I declare this man to be not guilty in my sight. And I declare him to be righteous in Christ. Court dismissed!”

“But Your Honor…”

“Michael! Please escort the prosecutor out of the court room.”

Radiate like the dawn

There are two words that can be used to describe faith: certain and sure. Both of these words need a stable beginning and ending place. Faith begins with believing in God’s character and believing He IS who He says He is while the end is believing in His promises and that He WILL do what He promises. Believing that God fulfills His promises, though we may not see those promises come to fruition, is demonstrating true faith!

Choosing to trust not only His promises today but His faithfulness and goodness as well!

Don’t worry about the wicked
or envy those who do wrong. For like grass, they soon fade away.
Like spring flowers, they soon wither.

Trust in the LORD and do good.
Then you will live safely in the land and prosper. Take delight in the LORD,
and he will give you your heart’s desires. Commit everything you do to the LORD.

Trust him, and he will help you. He will make your innocence radiate like the dawn,
and the justice of your cause will shine like the noonday sun. Be still in the presence of the LORD,
and wait patiently for him to act.

Don’t worry about evil people who prosper
or fret about their wicked schemes.

Stop being angry!
Turn from your rage!
Do not lose your temper—
it only leads to harm. For the wicked will be destroyed,
but those who trust in the LORD will possess the land. Soon the wicked will disappear.

Though you look for them, they will be gone. The lowly will possess the land
and will live in peace and prosperity.

The wicked plot against the godly;
they snarl at them in defiance. But the Lord just laughs,
for he sees their day of judgment coming. The wicked draw their swords
and string their bows
to kill the poor and the oppressed,
to slaughter those who do right. But their swords will stab their own hearts,
and their bows will be broken. It is better to be godly and have little
than to be evil and rich. For the strength of the wicked will be shattered,
but the LORD takes care of the godly.

Day by day the LORD takes care of the innocent,
and they will receive an inheritance that lasts forever.

Psalm 37:1-18