The wedding vow should rein.

Why Marriage?

Lots of people enter into marriage. And lots of people choose to leave this bond.

I think the choices are sometimes confusing because many do not even know what on earth marriage is. They imagine some vain, silly thing or they fantasize about the marriage night without thinking of the next day.

Wedding, marriage, ringDays.

Weeks.

Months.

Years.

Decades.

Lifetime.

Yeah, they fail to realize it’s a long walk in the same direction.

So I want to talk about what marriage is and why you should go there.

First, marriage is good. It is important to know that.

It also is important to note that I did not say marriage is for everyone.

Even the Bible, which pushes marriage a lot (because it is good) does not claim that marriage is for everyone— 

I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, it is good for them if they abide even as I. But if they cannot contain, let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn. 1 Corinthians 7:8-10

Marriage is kind of like chocolate; we all know it is good, but it’s not for everyone, does not do much for everyone.

Those people should not eat chocolate.

In the same way, if marriage is not for you, you should not do marriage. Marrying and divorcing over and over, is the same as beginning to eat chocolate, spitting it out, and complaining. A waste and an insult to those who love it!

How childish! Just stay out of my chocolate, thank you.

Wedding ringsBut, what’s so good about marriage?

Well, it makes for an easier life.

WHAT?!

Yep. Marriage, done right, is the way to an easier life, just as chocolate, in an éclair, is the bomb.

Oh, you’ve been sampling chocolate without carbs and cream? Wow. No wonder.

The easier life comes when you and your spouse are a great team. You cook; he eats. Ha!

Seriously, he provides food, and you cook. Yeah. Makes sense, as does his bringing home money and your taking care of making sure he has toilet paper. Matter of fact, when two walk together and one falls, the other can lift him up.

Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up. Again, if two lie together, then they have heat: but how can one be warm alone? Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

Ever cry on his shoulder?

That.

Ever stay up late to make sure he has a shirt for tomorrow’s huge meeting?

That.

And in case you think it’s not easier to split chores, just imagine if YOU had to bring home the bacon and fry it up in a pan and iron your own shirt while worrying about the huge meeting tomorrow…see? Easier. Yep.

Next comes the children. Assuming you have children, having a dad for them is totally important. In fact, it’s so important, it’s worth overlooking his tendency to drop his socks where he falls asleep. In fact, it’s so important, it’s worth cooking for him. Even (gasp!) ironing for him…

Why is it so important?

Because: girls tend to marry the guys who remind them of their dads, and guys tend to copy their dads as they grow up. Maybe not in choice of profession, but in attitude and method applied to whatever profession they choose.

I know. That is scary. The important thing to realize is that it is true.

And without a dad, your girls will not know what to look for and your guys will not know what to be. Just saying.

Not only that, but one more thing: Stable marriages build stable societies. Think about it….

If everyone has no idea what to become or what to look for in a spouse, what do we get? (Just look around you for the answer to that.) Our society is broken—I hope, not beyond repair—because we have experimented with the validity of marriage. And that is the truth, so don’t argue.

And last, but definitely NOT least, marriage is mandated in the Word of our God. Now, you may not have “given Him permission” to BE your God, but He has not taken that very seriously, Himself. He IS. He made that clear, and He wants to let you in on it, but He will not force you. Still, He is the only true God and He is totally willing to help you make your marriage work, if you are open to the idea….

Look:  

Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh. Genesis 2:24

But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her aleady in his heart. Matthew 5:28

 But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery. Matthew 5:32

The woman answered and said, I have no husband. Jesus said unto her, Thou hast well said, I have no husband: For thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband: in that saidst thou truly. John 4: 17-18

Furthermore, marriage is foundational to the entire experience of our God. He made sure it was easy to tell this by stating it clearly in His Word, many times.

The most clear statement of His intent is here:

But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God. 1 Corinthians 11:3

Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. Ephesians 5: 22-24

And for some reason, I think it’s not too much of a stretch for you to realize the new believers are the children in this union between Christ and his Bride…

And therefore, it is no surprise that if a marriage is working, we find corresponding felicity in body, soul, and spirit of all its members. The dad lives longer, is excited to return home and see what amazing food is cooking, to be blessed by loving children acting delighted at his feet, and to ease himself into whatever Cheerious-free room his wife has designated safe for his enjoyment. Haha!

Mom is sheltered in place in this violent world, drawing her strength and purpose from the precious lives growing up around her, and delighting in their progress.

Children grow up strong and bold, learning how to be brave members of a future society, and learning trust and love in their soft nest.

But when marriage has been forgone or has been allowed to die and rot, we find Dad maybe not even coming home right away, but “needing” a stiff belt or two, dinner totally not ready because Mom has not been home today, feeling unsatisfied with his earnings and taking it upon herself to earn more (in money, only, not in satisfaction) and the children unruly and rebellious, due to no parental influence.

Believe me, Dad will stray, and the children will grow into more and more violence and even gender confusion.

And that, my dear woman, is why we do this.

And if that’s not for you, just turn the page, Sister, and stay out of my chocolate. And I will pray for you.

A Pure Heart Is Honest

Soul Honesty—Now.

Have you ever had to deal with nostalgia so deep you can hardly breathe?

We were traveling to our old home place when it hit me. Familiar names, amazing names the uninitiated might not be able to pronounce, names I learned as a child and still remember, the pronunciation rolling off the tongue like warm water from a fountain, forcing memories of long ago tornado reports from the radio in our basement.

Abandoned stores built of local stone with “Support Our Troops” graffitied onto the windows, old home places with enormous cedar trees gracing the front lawns, highways with at least two “runaway truck ramps” where the mighty semi drivers can stall out in an enormous sand pit, broom sedge hills, scrub oaks, falling rock, and mind-boggling vistas dotted with mansions mingling in wide-open skies with humble cottages—all vied for my eyes and my memories.

Clean up Your Heart before You Grow Old!And my heart.

I came from a land defined by indefinable beauty, of Ozarks and rolling-hill farmland, to a land of clay, closed in by pines, three inches below sea level, with French laws and language. I had to reacclimate and it took me a few years. Eventually we moved once more to a simple, frank, and industrious people who don’t mind drawing a person in, where I again, could see the sun and grow a garden.

And I, too, put down roots.

Now, every trip to my motherland reminds me of other things, things I left behind, things not good, painful things, and with nostalgia comes a depression that also feels familiar, welcoming, comforting.

Hello, darkness, my old friend…

The revisiting of abandoned pain is dangerous.

I mean, you are free. Why test the weight of what you laid down? To see if you could still carry it, if need arose? You could. Too see if it still would hurt? It would. And laying it down again would hurt, too. Again.

So those who declare you can never go home again are wrong, in a way.

You can go, but it hurts. Home changes. People rise or fall—won’t be where you left them, where you remember them, although they inhabit the same amazing home you see (in your memory) every day.

They don’t appreciate it like you do. And that is because they still see it every day but you only fantasize it. And because they do not miss it and you do.

Don’t it always seem to go: You don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone?

So, in my travels, I migrate from the exterior to the interior when the outside changes too much. I rest from trying to comprehend when insanity spills into my path. Don’t you? We withdraw, right?

I instantly notice: The incomprehensible fades into the cosmos without assistance from me. I simply lower the blinds, close the curtains, for a few days, in my mind, and voilà, the trouble, the interruption, has flown away, has been replaced by something new.

When we open up again, we are older; we awaken to a world where certain things do not matter anymore. Until they do, again.

So when we mature, when we realize which issues are devoid of substance, and when we gel—when the glue dries—we can relax, right? The stupidity has settled to the bottom like boulders, and the clean sand and pure water of wisdom has risen to a peaceful lake at the top for the viewing pleasure of all. You can drink of these crystal waters, dispense the wisdom even to friends and acquaintances.

Yes, they can reach inside with one hand while reaching out with the other, sharing from the depths of this lovely, rock-bottomed pool. It’s so good, so handy, so fresh, so fun . . . .

And earthquakes can happen.

The water can muddy, the walls break down, exposing the bad rock.

How? Do you ask?

Clean up Your Heart before You Grow Old!Old age is how. Laxness. Forgetfulness. Memory loss. Senility. Alzheimer’s.

You begin slipping. Learned skills fade. Taboos crumble away.

Taboos? Crumble?

Yes. Taboos will be one of the last things to go. All the social niceties your mama taught you will diminish. All the sweet honeychile scripted sayings you always said but did not mean will desert you.

All that will remain is your true personality, your soul. What your family will see, then, is whatever you are now, when you think no one is looking.

Because by then you will not realize anyone is looking.

A speaker tells of an elderly Christian couple who shared life all of their adult years and had retired to a retirement home, both suffering with the extreme forgetfulness of extreme age. Actually rather unaware of time or other boundaries, the two walked or sat, talking together all of every day, words that few could make sense of. Staff, observing them carefully, for their safety’s sake, noticed they never had a cross word, never showed any sign of depression or bitterness, and never seemed to grasp the reality around them. At an age when most elderly are painfully crippled by a difficult past life, these two shone like a beacon, their past safe in their weakness, locked in the bottomless well of forgiveness.

So, what are you? What will they see when you no longer have the ability to hide it? Sweet? Bitter? Angry? Forgiving?

Get with God. The One Who gave you a soul can fill you with His Pillar of Fire and purify and keep your soul.

Until your final day.

Acting? Being? Feeling?

Love—Acting? Being? Feeling?

Love is not a feeling; it’s an act of your will.  –Don Francisco

I love being a woman.

I consider it one of the (if not THE) most important positions on earth, because I understand what it means to be one.

I didn’t always. I used to think men had a better (easier) life, but I was a child and did not understand womanhood. I outgrew that; I began to understand.

Acting, Being, Feeing, LoveThere are many women, today, who have never outgrown it.

Their parents have failed them. Probably others have failed them too. Abused or neglected, they never have come to any understanding of womanhood, what it is, what it means for them and for all humankind. Not having been loved or cherished, they do not love or cherish who they are, what they are. In fact, they hate womanhood so much and their part in it, that they make themselves ugly and abhorable. They become manlike and adopt warlike attitudes of terrorizing and fighting. Yes, they are so full of self-hate, yet they look for someone else to blame. They attack so compulsively that their hatred and fury extends to even the elderly, murdering the elderly. It is so sad.

And it is so unnecessary.

I wish I could make them understand that being a woman is a good thing.

But being also the wounded, frightened children that they are, that this current culture has made them, they do not and cannot understand this goodness.

How it grieves me that the beauty of what they are is lost to them.

They are like broken radios that get no good reception, so broadcast only garbled static.

Like broken eggs, they leave behind only messes and rot.

Like broken tires, they lose their usefulness and must be repaired or replaced, because to give them credibility only makes them worse, makes them irreparable.

A whole woman, who has been cherished rather than spoiled, trained rather than abused, accepted rather than ridiculed, sheltered rather than thrust out to sink or swim, will think better of it when tempted to throw herself away.

Remember—I didn’t much like being a girl, either. I get that.

But I learned something that unraveled the whole ugly knot for me, and I hope will, for you, too.

And here, I must insert my heart cry. I wish with all my heart I could open this truth to them, to the hurting ones who think the solution to their pain will come if they hurt others. But I’m pretty sure that is not my job. I’m pretty sure I’m not one they would listen to. On the other hand, though, I feel sure that some of you out there are ready for this and longing for it and will recognize it for the truth. I write this for you:

A little girl’s understanding is not enough.

Long ago, growing up in a God-centered atmosphere, I knew that God is my Father and Jesus is the most important person in life. I mean, I still believe if you can only know the NAME of Jesus, you almost don’t need much else.

Lately He’s been showing me that although from my viewpoint, I should love Jesus, above all, that is not His exact viewpoint. Yes, we should live our lives as if it’s all about Him. That’s right, but why?

Because He lived, and still lives, His life as if it’s all about His Bride.

Yes the heavenly husband is completely taken with His Bride.

Okay, that sounds good, right? Because it’s so—VBS—or something?

So why is this modern, educated, gal, who once took umbrage at these ideas, now spouting them?

BECAUSE…

Because having waded in these waters for almost a lifetime, I one day decided it is safe to jump right in.

Because at the bottom of the deep end of the pool, I found gold.

Because although I’m not a great “swimmer”, I’m drawing treasure up from the depths that: Is. So. Good.

Because this treasure is so good it makes me forget to breathe.

It makes tears in my eyes.

It makes me stop, lost in thought, and smile a mysterious smile.

It makes being a woman so good, I never want to be anything else, ever again.

And by “woman” I mean the full-blown, classical, true image of pure womanhood.

(NO! Not the stinky stereotypes! I’m throwing those badboys out on their ears!) Please!

Let’s look at this love we received, though. I know some of us do not feel loved, do not live where love is practiced as it should be. I know humans fail and half of all humans are men, so probably men fail. Okay.

But let’s look at the Bible. If it’s not there, it’s not truth, right?

From almost day-one, God has shown what He thought of women. Adam is having a great time enjoying all the beauty around him and suddenly God says this shocking thing: Something is NOT GOOD! Whoa. No woman = not good. Not good that the new human be a single entity.

And then Adam and Eve eat the forbidden fruit, and although it was even Eve’s idea. God places the blame on Adam. What gives?

Sarah obeys her husband, who’s told her to do something mortally wrong, and God gets her way out of her scrapes, and places the blame squarely on Abraham. Yet, when Sarah tells Abraham what to do and he does it—the blame falls again, straight down on Abraham.

Why did He die? Because we sinned? To pay for that? To buy us back? Yes that and much more.

Yet it was not good that man should be alone, but it was not for loneliness’s sake. He created male and female versions of all the animals, but the man He made a single entity, with the woman within the man. Why? What is He showing? What is He trying to tease out of us? Why did He bother, at all?

Acting? Being? Feeling? Love!Because He is love. It’s His big deal, what He’s all about. He makes, shows, teaches, and gives love. He invented love. He is absolutely and T-totally given up to love. It is what He is—Love. Nothing else.

How does He go about showing, being love?

First, He sets us up. We have spouses, children, parents that we love. Or loved.

He makes love an integral part of our lives. We understand love. And we love.

Perhaps we wasted love or lost love or have forgotten how to love.

But we comprehend love.

And because we know love, it is possible for us to resist it, escape it, avoid it, and deliberately starve it.

So, do we punish love?—I think so. Because love is far more than a feeling. Yes, and love, I have discovered, is far more than an action.

Love is a person.

God is love.

And we align with His enemy.

And that is an act of the will.