Archive | January 2011

Sometimes The Words Aren’t There…

Sometimes I have SO much in my heart that I need to pray about, only to hit my knees and find the words simply are not there.  I have burdens on my heart and I want to lift those up but I cannot begin to put into words what is in my heart. 

I’m so thankful that He knows…only He knows my heart and knows the deepest thoughts and concerns there.  Sometimes the silent heart of prayer is what is needed.  And sometimes it is the song sung from the heart and soul that carries those burdens heavenward.  Tonight is one of  those times when words fail me.  And one of those many times when I can just worship and praise Him with songs and know that the Lord hears the cry of my imperfect attempts to pray, and knows what weighs me down, and WILL answer.

This is one of my favorite songs of late on the radio, and Sunday morning Mr. Wonderful sent it to me on email.  It is ministering to my heart tonight where I cannot form the words to pray but my heart does, and I know the Holy Spirit intercedes for me, as scripture says.


The Same…But Different

A  number of years ago we got to hear Pastor Mark Webb preach at the Mid-American Reformed Baptist Family Conference, and he used that phrase throughout one of his rather amusing sermons.  To this day if someone says it and others laugh,  you know they attended that conference.

I was noticing this past Sunday, my 5th one in a row back in my church home, how that applies.  So much is the same  and yet different. 

Many of the same faces are there, but many are not and have been replaced by new ones.  Of  those that are the same, many have grown up from little kids that I last recall! Some families expanded in number through natural and adoptive means. 

I am now sitting on the ‘sheep’ side of the church.  That was a running joke that we had always sat on the goat’s side, so when I came back I was told I needed to sit with sheep this time.  So in that sense it is different, from the view to the pew occupants. 

That is something I’ve noticed that has been a bit of a brief emotional moment here and there, the absence of half of a couple that at one time were so precious to us (me and the ex) as friends.  He is there, the remaining half of that couple, with their  kids, in the same pew as always.  Second row from the front, goat side.  For years we all shared that pew, often had lunch after church together, played Rook on Friday or Saturday evenings, attended the men’s softball games while our husbands played and we socialized with the women.   It was a far more relaxed and fun time back then, and for a moment I sat and looked over at that pew noticing who was missing, and it hurt a bit.  I stopped and prayed for my friend, I miss her in my life so much.  For years she was my best friend, we shared so much, including some dark parts of our hearts, and some horribly painful times in our lives.  Our friendship was truly forged in the fires of trials when we came together and leaned on each other, prayed for each other, and sat on ‘attitude row’ together at women’s bible study on Friday mornings. (we were your non-conformists of sorts back then!)  Later she and I  would also go on to walk those dark and sinful roads together as well.  I prayed for her while sitting there in church, that one day she too would return to her faith.  Her and my ex.  Where  they land  not so important, but that they do in fact return to where  I know their  hearts truly believed, where fruit was evident in them and where one day again their lives would be honoring to the Lord.

I just thought of her again this evening and stopped to pray.  On one of the shelves of my desk is a Zingle-Berry she gave me one year long ago for my birthday.  I love this thing, it is cute and reminds me of us both.  But especially me, as chocolate to me is a food group and should be the base of the food pyramid!

I miss you, C, very very much!  I’ve made it my goal to pray for you whenever I see the Zingle-Berry. 

Music, Messages and Tossing The Baby Out With The Bath Water

I recently saw a song/video from Youtube on a friend’s Facebook.  The song was one of many that of late have ministered to my heart.  My heart, the one that has come crawling out of the sin swamp and back up onto a road that is uphill, steep, and full of obstacles that often seem insurmountable.  My heart that was drawn back over several months not only by the gently shared faith of a man I dearly love, but also through music being played long before Thanksgiving on a local Christian station, Christmas music.  Many a Scroogy type whined about it but my boss played the station at work and a number of the  songs  like “Breath of Heaven” kept eating at me.  I had wanted to go back to a church a number of times in the past years but never could convince the ex to go.  I should have gone alone.

Music finally was the key that turned the lock of my heart and I returned to my former church and been SO thankful.  And in this time I’ve been listening daily the K-Love radio and a number of  CDs  I had collected (Oh so thankful I didn’t toss those out during the dark valley years), and a CD my friend, Jane, gave me  my first Sunday back in church.  Music and the message in many of the songs have been ministering to my heart and soul a great deal.

The friend had  someone that responded  with an article about the band that sings the song, and their  warped theology.  In fact it takes issue with a large  number of  contemporary Christian music artists of late.  I will be the first to admit that yes, many do NOT walk a very straight path and many  flat out  make me question their salvation.  Until I remember where I just came  from recently myself.  My walk was very real, my heart very much the Lord’s years ago, the fruit, I believe, was there.  However I allowed seeds of sin to take  root in me and little by little those sins were  cultivated into lush wrongs  and the Lord let  go and let me have  my way.  My way was very far from Him.   I am thankful  that  the consequences of  my sin, though quite the prices to have to pay for rebellion,  were not far worse.   Would my faith and that which I share be less a blessing to someone in need because of where I have walked in darkness while professing to be a believer?

Many of the artists in the article were favorites of mine.  One, Amy Grant, sings the song I mentioned, ‘Breath Of Heaven’.  There  are lines of that song that are SO good they make a great prayer  from the heart.  She herself may be a lousy example of walking with Christ, but does that  diminish the message in the song? I think not!  The David Crowder band, despite whatever maybe wrong with them, have some very good songs out there being played that are ministering to believers, in spite of the  sinners singing them!  In fact, EVERY christian is a  sinner, and has areas of  sin in their life, but that doesn’t mean that the message of the gospel they share is wrong because they have areas of sin to deal  with.

What of the many hymns that, my understanding, were once bar tunes that the words were changed too.  Does that make the hymn useless that is packed with truth because the tune originated as a beer bash melody??? Of course not!  And oh what  of the hidden sins, and maybe not so hidden,  of those that wrote the words  to the hymns we now cherish?  If it is discovered that  Thomas Chisholm was a terrible sinner would we rip “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” from  our hymnals? Let us hope not, the song is written from scripture and very powerful.  Certainly we would not condone the sinner but we wouldn’t remove the music/message over it  I  hope.

If we tossed all the music/songs because the writer is a sinner, the book of Psalms would  be pretty small.  David was guilty of coveting his neighbor’s  wife, adultery, and murder all while being a man after God’s own heart. Even Paul admitted to be a sinner at times!

Romans 7:15-21 (New American Standard Bible)

15For what I am doing, (A)I do not understand; for I am not practicing (B)what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate.

16But if I do the very thing I do not want to do, I agree with (C)the Law, confessing that the Law is good.

17So now, (D)no longer am I the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me.

18For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my (E)flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not.

19For (F)the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want.

20But if I am doing the very thing I do not want, (G)I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me.

21I find then (H)the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good.

Just because the artist may have a wrong walk, the music and the message in the music can still be worth sharing as you just never know who it will touch and how it will  minister.  Don’t  toss  the baby out with the bath water!

Spreading My Wings A Bit More…

If you follow my other blog page you know that taking steps of  independence in being single has been difficult for me, way outside of my comfort zone.  It started with getting my own phone number, apart from the now ex, and the phone I wanted that I ‘didn’t need’ so wasn’t allowed to have it.

Over the past year there have been many such steps in my metamorphosis from my cocoon, mostly baby steps but once in a while, as today, I take a bigger one.

Francesco Marino / FreeDigitalPhotos

My pastor had forwarded information for a family enrichment retreat at the end of the month, and it is for couples and singles!  I registered today, a huge step really as I will be going alone.  Oh I am certain there may be others from my church, but I’m going to go, have my own room, and attend by myself.  For me this is a big hairy deal! 

It is exciting because I do anticipate it will be a very good retreat dealing with conflict between people in a family/relationship,  from a biblical perspective.  I’m certain the things taught will be applicable in all relationships.  I really miss the Mid America Reformed Baptist Family Conferences, so even though this is only 1.5 days, it will be good to be in a group of believers learning from God’s Word  in a relaxed, casual setting.  I can hardly wait!

And it is exciting that I did it, all on my own, all by myself!  🙂

Carefully Re-Packed And Topped With A Bow

My heart is still in such a fragile state that extreme care is needed when handling it.  It beats steady again, but it still is so very raw and tender that it must be dealt with ever so carefully and gently. 

Last year was the year of mourning and healing as my heart had to be brought back to life and kept on life support in ICU.  By the end of the year it could feel again, with intensity, and I had opened it up to love someone that is and always will be very special to me.  My heart learned that it is still capable of loving someone completely, and also that it is very much at risk of  being hurt entirely too easily.

Just the other day I posted about sexual purity and the lines Mr. Wonderful and I had crossed, lines  clearly drawn by God and very brazenly stepped over by us.  In that coming together I learned what it can really be like when all parts of me connect with all parts of someone else.  In a word, priceless.  Very precious are the memories of those times and they will always be with me, as he will always be in a special place within my heart.

Last  night I came to realize  that loving  someone, no matter h0w much, doesn’t mean you can measure up to their standards.  The bar he sets for those he allows close to his heart is a high one, and far above where I am able to reach.  I don’t really fault him for that, everyone has a right to their expectations of others they wish to be involved with.  We’re in two very different places in that regard.  In a relationship with no real direction, and no binding commitment I set no expectations, limitations or standards on the other party.  I cannot be disappointed that way.  He on the other hand has expectations and limitations that I simply cannot live up too.

I am a very strong personality, and require  an equal or stronger personality in a potential mate or I’d walk all over them.  It would  not be purposeful, I am just somewhat of the bull in a china shop as I go through life.  I spent 23 years bending over backward in one failed attempt after the next to live up to someone’s standards and expectations until I had changed, hidden, and compromised so much of myself that when I looked in the mirror I no longer knew the woman looking back at me. My ex-husband was a control freak, and I mean that with the best of intentions.  He required his world to be just so, a place  for everything and everything in its place,  including me.  Order, his order, was the way things had to be or he was simply not happy.  And sooner or later it went by his order anyway.  I never measured up and never would.  I was always the one to take responsibility, to apologize first, to take the blame to keep the peace.   Last year when that relationship ended I promised myself to never let that happen again, never change or compromise who I am, and  never  apologize  for being me.  And yet I was doing it all over again with Mr. Wonderful, attempting and miserably failing, to meet his expectations. 

I  do not want to give the wrong impression, he is very much wonderful, and there is nothing wrong with the standards and expectations he has, for someone else.  I am not the person that can meet them, I am a perfectly imperfect woman that just doesn’t make the grade in this particular relationship.  I don’t fault him for that and I certainly don’t fault myself.  To continue to attempt to reach that level of perfection would mean letting go of who I am all over again and I’ve just uncovering me!  I’m not going to change who I am for anyone nor would  I want them to change for me.  I fell in love  with who he is, not who  I’d want him to be.  I accepted and loved every imperfect piece of who I was getting to know,  and was fully prepared to be committed to that man.  But not at the cost of me, not if I have to change who I am and how I am in order to make someone else happy. 

He tossed in the towel last night, and I realized as I watched it float  onto the floor of the ring that even though this makes me sad, and it is painful, it would be more painful to change me to meet his expectations.   He will remain in my heart, and that is okay.   But I won’t stop living.

I went to bed last night, cried a bit, then prayed, a LOT.  I handed it all over to God to work on.  This morning I woke up at peace with it all. I think He does His best work in me when I’m asleep and cannot keep interfering trying to do it myself. 🙂  I  took out the box again, filled it up with soft packing material, and placed my heart carefully inside of it, then filled it up to the brim with more of the material to surround and protect it.  I placed the lid on and then wrapped the ribbon around and tied it in a pretty bow.  My heart will stay in there and continue to grow and heal where it cannot be harmed for now. 

After thinking on it all and praying about it, I’m going to take a year off away from “dating” relationships.  I took a full year to mourn and heal, now I feel a year to nurture me is in order. I am going to spend this year getting to know Marti.  I need to sit quietly at the feet of my Heavenly Father’s throne and be fed, taught and become who HE wants me to be. I will keep my heart wrapped up in that pretty box and let it grow under God’s care.  When and if the time comes for someone to untie that bow and remove it from that container, it will have to be someone that can love it like their own, cherish it, and not try to change it.  They will have to accept that it is a gift to be treasured as it is, no refunds or exhanges, no picking only the parts they like, it is all or nothing.  The worst comes with the best as a package deal or it stays right here, in the box.

SEXUAL PURITY – Satisfying The Hunger Part 2

Disclaimer: The subject matter of this post is a bit adult in nature and not appropriate material for younger audiences.

This is the second part of this subject matter, if you missed Part 1 you may wish to read that first, click here.

I was not at all prepared for the intense connection that I have with Mr. Wonderful.  When we met up and reconnected I had made it crystal clear that I was NOT seeking a relationship, just a friend with benefits.  He saw through my shield and into my heart but was willing to go along with things as I stated.  Things between us moved at incredible speed and next thing I knew we crossed into a physical relationship.  What took place between us was truly making love like I’ve never known.  He agrees, nothing ever was so intense for him before either.  We both realize more than our fleshly desires were there, our minds and souls connected, and our hearts.  We got a very serious education that day in  the two becoming one flesh.  It isn’t just the physical act, something happened that forged all of our beings into one.   I wanted to believe it was just that first time rush, but I’ve had my share of ‘first times’ and nothing in my experience or his compares.  Despite our carefully built walls when in those moments of physical expression we both realize we are seeing clear the core of each other in the eyes and there are no blocks, no locked doors on our hearts and souls, and frankly it is incredibly beautiful and special, and unnerving. 

Bigger than that…it is wrong.  It is sinfully wrong and I don’t mean that in a good way.  God is crystal clear about sex outside of marriage and we chose to ignore that and go our own way in this one area.

We have both realized that when two TRULY become one,  being apart is hell.   I  don’t just miss him, his voice, his touch, my heart craves his, my mind desires his, my soul feels as if it is torn and not whole  when his is apart from my own.  Two becoming one,  truly one,  is meant for the married because you crave the other person on every level,  not just physical.  In fact we’ve come to realize the physical is an expression of what is going on at the heart, mind and soul level.  We HUNGER for each other, and at least for me I can say it is a tormenting thing.  I now understand 1 Corinthians 7:9 so much better:

1 Corinthians 7:9 (New King James Version)

9 but if they cannot exercise self-control, let them marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion.

The burning passion is painful on each level.

I’ve become aware now of something else. Now understand this is my take, my perspective on this.  We come into this world without God, in a state of sin and until we find His perfect forgiveness and grace we hunger for Him.  As we grow that hunger grows with us, but we try to fill that void with all manner of things, collecting things, over consumption of food, alcohol, drugs or even sex.  We are never completely satisfied until we turn to the Lord, nothing we do can fill the hunger with in us.  Love and marriage, per the Bible, is a reflection of the love Christ has for His church, His people.  It is the earthly example of true love, putting the best interest of others ahead of ourselves regardless of  cost to  ourselves.*  In a marriage relationship that honors God,  things work like they should.  Don’t get me wrong, it won’t be perfect.  I saw a tweet from Pastor and singer Steve Camp (@sjcamp) the other day that said “marriage is two forgivers learning to live together”.  OH how true that is! 

 I have also come to realize that before we ever experience sexual relations with anyone we begin to hunger for our mates,  prior to even knowing them.  Something within us desires to mate, to share that special one fleshness, our souls begin to seek.  We search for something to fill that hunger, and sadly often attempt to fill it with sexual promiscuity.  We go from encounter to encounter trying to fill  an unsatiable desire within us that can only be filled by that one person meant to be our partner for life.  Perhaps there is more than one out there, but I think so many are so unhappy because they jumped into a marriage with someone they did NOT connect with on the heart, mind and soul levels before taking  their vows and then connecting physically.  Love at first sight may indeed be real, but more of a intense draw at first sight.  One soul recognizing the other as it’s mate, or other half.  Mr. Wonderful experienced that with just seeing my photo on my Myspace, the intense desire to know me and not on a physical level.  When I met him I too felt that, but I was married and did the right thing by ignoring it and keeping him at arm’s length to avoid the temptation.  Had I entertained a physical encounter then, when deep in a sinful lifestyle that would have allowed for it,  it would have destroyed my marriage and I knew it.  At the time I did not understand why I knew this, I just did.  Something in both of us screamed “MINE” and it was horribly upsetting and painful.

Sadly, while we’ve desired to do this relationship the right way, this is an area we crossed lines in and have sinned.  Now in a desire to back up the truck a bit and do it ALL right in God’s eyes, we have to deal with the intense craving that burns deeper than  the physical desire for each other.   The hunger that distresses our minds, hearts  and souls when apart.  While the physical need is a difficult struggle, we actually do find without the sexual part, when we are together,  the other levels are satisified for the time we are in each others presence and the physical takes a back burner.  This spoke volumes to me about what we had done in crossing the lines and allowing the one flesh before it was the right time.  The hardest part of this being that as jaded as we both are we don’t even know where this will head.  We both carry so many scars from past relationships, so many cracks in our hearts from gluing them back together that we just don’t know if we can proceed toward a life time commitment.  I only know that now that I realize the level on which we connected, I cannot be satisified with anyone else.

Meanwhile…the area  of sexual purity is one I have struggled with all my life because I long ago crossed the line,  continuing again and again to sin in this area.  It is the one area I am most weak and the one I am now most determined to keep right and honor God in until such a time as it can be RIGHT.  If  I can continue to see my sin as God sees it,  as filthy rags, then I cannot say I love Him and deliberately,  knowingly go against Him in this area.  If and when marriage again is a part of my life, then the hunger will be satisfied as it should be.  And until then I must honor God and satisfy the hunger with Him and His Word.

*condensed version of a definition of love an elder at church came up with –  will share full version as a blog later this month.

Copyright © 2011 – The AirBrushed Diva/Marti Gardner – ALL RIGHTS RESERVED