The Art Of Marriage

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It’s cute, right?

I mean, that’s what I thought as I saw this quote repeatedly while searching the topic of love & marriage on the internet.

Except, I have a problem with it…

Love is not an emotion, a fickle feeling that comes and goes as it pleases. Like a roller coaster going to extreme heights and then on to severe lows. Love is a person, and that person is God himself.

1 John 4:8 says, “He who does not love has not become acquainted with God [does not and never did know Him], for God is love.”

When we know that our spouse was created in the image of God, it becomes infinitely easier to love them. Whether there are differences of opinion or obstacles to work through, ultimately when you chose to see the face of God reflected in the eyes of your spouse, you’ll never lose respect for them.

“So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” Genesis 1:27 (NLT)

“This is the family tree of the human race: When God created the human race, he made it godlike, with a nature akin to God. He created both male and female and blessed them, the whole human race.” Genesis 5:1-2 (MSG)

When you make a choice to love someone with a God-Love, there’s no need for falling… together you will stand as one for eternity. There will come a recognition that you are no longer two individuals roaming like nomads through life’s uncertainties, but you are now one. You become a force of divine connection; spirit, soul and body.

“The Man said,’Finally! Bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh! Name her Woman for she was made from Man.’ Therefore a man leaves his father and mother and embraces his wife. They become one flesh. The two of them, the Man and his Wife, were naked, but they felt no shame.” Genesis 2:23-25 (MSG)

“Haven’t you read the Scriptures?” Jesus replied. “They record that from the beginning ‘God made them male and female.’” And he said, “‘This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.’ Since they are no longer two but one, let no one split apart what God has joined together.” (Matt. 19:4-6 NLT)

So the secret to my marriage is seeing God, the personification of Love, in my husband’s eyes. No matter what circumstance arises, to step back – take a breath- and realize we are one. To be angry at him is to be upset with my own self. If you are married or even single and waiting for the right one God has for you, remember that love is a choice. Choose to love with the God-Love.

 

Baptism of Fire

There’s always a moment.

A space in time, seemingly etched out of eternity. In that moment when Heaven meets destiny… a vision is birthed. A purpose revealed. A dream conceived. It is those moments the Greek word Kairos refers to. It’s meaning is  “the appointed time in the purpose of God”, the time when God acts.

We all have these moments, whether we recognize them or not. If you take the time to pause and think back over your life, there are situations that stand out to you. It could have been an ordinary, mundane day- you were going through the motions and then suddenly something stands out. You are remembering a significant moment. A God-moment. I want to share with you a God-moment that I had shortly after I married Charlie (my super amazing preacher-man husband).

It’s Friday night, around 8 pm. I’m 22, and newly married. Instead of heading out to the movies or a dinner date, we headed to a prayer meeting. I had been to several prayer meetings up to this point in my life. Some in the wee early hours of day, when I am sure not even the angels are awake. They were quiet, peaceful and most of us laid prostrate on the floor… seeking our sleep rather than our God. Then there was the ones I went to in college. These were vivacious, as the exuberant prayers of young preachers, teachers and students would rend the barrier between Heaven and Earth creating an atmosphere filled with electric faith.

I had even been to this church’s prayer meetings before, and as we were on our way I expected the kind where each person would take the microphone and pray; declaring and decreeing, prophesying over the specific topic they were assigned. This was not the case for that night. It was to be a God-moment, an encounter that branded me. Like the heated metal of a branding rod, the fiery embossing mark of God would forever be seared into my heart.

As I sat in my chair, lights dim and others spread about the room, I began to seek God.

Previously that night, Charlie and I had a conversation discussing Acts 2 and what we knew of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. We both grew up in Pentecostal homes and churches, and both at young ages received the baptism with the evidence of speaking in tongues. But where was the evidence of the fire? This is what puzzled us that night, what drove us to a place of desperation in God.

Luke 3:16-17 states, “John answered, saying unto them all, I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire: Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and will gather the wheat into his garner; but the chaff he will burn with fire unquenchable.”

So there I sat, deliberate in my petition before God. My face as flint. I would have the fire.

May I remind you that in a place of desperation, a place of an earnest heart, you don’t care what others think. You only care for what your eyes are fixed upon, and mine were stayed upon what Revelation 1:14-16 describes here; His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire;And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters. And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp twoedged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength.”

Momentarily I found myself on the floor, somehow pinned there. Lacking the ability to move, to even control my hands and arms. I was frozen stiff at the burning feet of God. It was then, a wave of intense heat came rushing over me and in a panic I helplessly tried to wriggle out of the heavy sweatshirt I was wearing. It felt as if molten lava was pumping through my veins, taking its course through out my body and purging my soul. Like the Prophet Jeremiah who declared, “His Word is in my heart like a fire. It’s like a fire shut up in my bones! I am worn out trying to hold it in! I can’t do it!”

I too could not keep it in.

I’m not going to pretend that was the most delightfully pleasant experience ever in God, because it wasn’t. It hurt. Yet it was necessary. It was the very thing I was seeking; an encounter with a living God that would burn so deep his love for me that I would forever be changed. It was the Baptism of Fire.

So tonight, as you read this. You might think this all a bit too strange. Or you may just be daring enough to stop playing patty-cake and have a real experience with the living God. You may need a supernatural encounter with Him, to know he is real. He is alive and he loves you with an everlasting love.

 

“I prayed from a half hour after sunrise to a half hour before sunset. There was nowhere to pray in the Indian camp. I went into the woods and knelt in the snow. It was up to my chin. I wrestled in prayer until a half hour before sunset, and I could only touch the snow with the tips of my fingers. The heat of my body had melted the snow.” – David Brainerd (American Missionary to Native American- Indians)

“Smart men walked on the moon, daring men walked on the ocean floor, but wise men walk with God.” – Leonard Ravenhill

 

 

 

 

 

Five

Shortly after arriving home today from an outing with the family, I glanced down at my cell phone to see that the time was 5:55. I snapped a quick screen shot, because the same thing happened to me yesterday – March 20 (The First Day of Spring).

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Typically you won’t find me reading deeply into random things or chasing down an interpretation of the billboard signs along the highway. However, I do know when the Holy Spirit is telling me something and I find the best results when I turn my ear to listen.

Like the layers of an onion, often a thing is not as it seems until we begin peeling away. As I peeled away at what the Lord wanted to show me, I saw 3 layers.

First, Five is a number associated with Grace.

Grace by definition is God’s unmerited favor. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary grace is: unmerited divine assistance given humans for their regeneration or sanctification; a virtue coming from God; a state of sanctification enjoyed through divine grace.

Second, Galatians 5… pretty much the entire chapter resonated inside me as I began to read it. Often, I’ll read a portion of scripture in the King James Version and then re-read it in The Message translation. I find the wording much more vibrant and captivating. So instead of typing out the entire chapter here… Go, go read it. I’ll wait.

No really… I have a two year old, I can wait.

Alright, How was it? I want to point out a few verses that stood out to me.

vs. 1 “Christ has set us free to live a free life. So take your stand! Never again let anyone put a harness of slavery on you.”

  •  You are FREE!

vs. 4-6 “I suspect you would never intend this, but this is what happens. When you attempt to live by your own religious plans and projects, you are cut off from Christ, you fall out of grace. Meanwhile we expectantly wait for a satisfying relationship with the Spirit. For in Christ, neither our most conscientious religion nor disregard of religion amounts to anything. What matters is something far more interior: faith expressed in love.”

  • You may be religious or anti-religious, but you still don’t have the one-up on LOVE! Faith is expressed in love.

vs. 13-15 “It is absolutely clear that God has called you to a free life. Just make sure that you don’t use this freedom as an excuse to do whatever you want to do and destroy your freedom. Rather, use your freedom to serve one another in love; that’s how freedom grows. For everything we know about God’s Word is summed up in a single sentence: Love others as you love yourself. That’s an act of true freedom. If you bite and ravage each other, watch out—in no time at all you will be annihilating each other, and where will your precious freedom be then?”

  • Just because you are free, doesn’t mean you do or say whatever you want. Do not hurt others, for in doing this you strip yourself of the very freedom you flaunted.

vs. 25-26 Since this is the kind of life we have chosen, the life of the Spirit, let us make sure that we do not just hold it as an idea in our heads or a sentiment in our hearts, but work out its implications in every detail of our lives. That means we will not compare ourselves with each other as if one of us were better and another worse. We have far more interesting things to do with our lives. Each of us is an original.”

  • Don’t compare yourself to any one else. You are uniquely you and there can not be another.

Third, Isaiah 55… Luckily for you, I did copy this one in its entirety here because it’s just so juicy! It is a promise, a covenant. And in the last layer of the onion I was peeling today, God said this covenant was for me… and if it’s for me, then it is for you, my dear reader. So as you enter this new Spring Season- hold on to this Word from the Lord.

1-5 “Hey there! All who are thirsty, come to the water! Are you penniless? Come anyway—buy and eat! Come, buy your drinks, buy wine and milk.Buy without money—everything’s free! Why do you spend your money on junk food, your hard-earned cash on cotton candy? Listen to me, listen well: Eat only the best, fill yourself with only the finest. Pay attention, come close now, listen carefully to my life-giving, life-nourishing words. I’m making a lasting covenant commitment with you, the same that I made with David: sure, solid, enduring love. I set him up as a witness to the nations, made him a prince and leader of the nations, And now I’m doing it to you: You’ll summon nations you’ve never heard of, and nations who’ve never heard of you will come running to you Because of me, your God, because The Holy of Israel has honored you.” 

6-7 “Seek God while he’s here to be found, pray to him while he’s close at hand. Let the wicked abandon their way of life and the evil their way of thinking. Let them come back to God, who is merciful, come back to our God, who is lavish with forgiveness.

8-11 I don’t think the way you think. The way you work isn’t the way I work.” God’s Decree. “For as the sky soars high above earth,so the way I work surpasses the way you work, and the way I think is beyond the way you think. Just as rain and snow descend from the skies and don’t go back until they’ve watered the earth, Doing their work of making things grow and blossom,producing seed for farmers and food for the hungry, So will the words that come out of my mouth not come back empty-handed. They’ll do the work I sent them to do, they’ll complete the assignment I gave them.”

12-13 “So you’ll go out in joy, you’ll be led into a whole and complete life. The mountains and hills will lead the parade, bursting with song. All the trees of the forest will join the procession, exuberant with applause. No more thistles, but giant sequoias, no more thorn bushes, but stately pines—Monuments to me, to God, living and lasting evidence of God.”

The Crazy Brave.

I’d like to think I have read a lot of books…. Pregnancy books, Parenting books, Discipline books, Super-Nanny books, Child Education books… but often it seems I am most well versed in Children’s books. Mainly the kind with cardboard pages, vivid colors and few words. So, in those moments when Sponge Bob is taking over the living room, Elmo the bathroom, and Veggie Tales your prayer closet… I’d like you to take a moment and remember who you really are and that you have the awesome privilege to raise and nurture actual human beings. Though they may be small, they carry greatness in them. So here is my Ode to Motherhood…

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This goes out to the crazy ones…to the dreamers.To the ones who never let a toddler’s “no” stop them. To all the Mamas with “time out” corners in every room. You are the brave ones.

Here’s to you. The midnight hall walkers, the crying baby rockers, the boo-boo kissing, tummy-ache hugging, bubble bath drawing, lullaby singing, boogie-monster scaring Mamas. You are the brave ones.

To the ones that chose life, and then carried it around for the better half of one year. Here’s to you… the nausea, the heartburn, the stretch marks and scars… to wider hips and a body that will never quite be the same. You are the brave ones.

Here’s to the ones who understand that the little things are usually the biggest. And that the bedtime whispered “I love you’s” are a currency from Heaven. You are important, invaluable, incredible and irreplaceable.

So, here’s to all you Mamas, you are the crazy brave ones.

Little Moments

Today, on the way to run errands I glanced down at the clock in my minivan.

11:30.

Lunch time at school for Nehemiah…

Parents are often welcome and encouraged to join students during lunch, but I had already gone on Monday.

I had errands to run. A To-Do List to check off. A few fleeting hours before my tiny tornado of a toddler would wake up from her nap.

Then, in that moment, I had this thought…

He’s only 7 once. He’s only in First Grade this year. There will be a time when he’s 17 and won’t run past all the other kids to jump into my arms. He won’t want to leave his friends at the table to tell jokes and make funny-faced pictures with me…

So instead of driving straight, I turned. I made another right turn into the school parking lot. I grabbed my purse and rushed into the building like I was late for an important job interview. I signed in, slapped my name badge on and made my way to the cafeteria.

There he was. His back facing me. Dressed in a little white polo with jeans, rocking some high-top converse. He turned, jumped from his seat and ran to me. You would have thought he hadn’t seen me for days, that it wasn’t I who dropped him off only 4 hours earlier. He hugged me tight and I knew the errands could wait just another 30 minutes. I knew that fruit roll up would make his day and the silly photos we took could be framed… for when he’s 17 and forgets how cool his Mom really is.

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Happy Friday! Enjoy your little moments that lead to special memories. :)

Fourteen Sunsets

Fourteen sunrises.

Fourteen morning cups of coffee.

Fourteen afternoon walks and evening sunsets.

Fourteen days.

Last month, Charlie set off on a fourteen day journey across 2 continents. He left America to travel Europe and South Africa, preaching the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ. He ministered several meetings and saw miracles, signs and wonders. 

In Durban, South Africa this happened…

A young woman was in the local hospital with a kidney infection and kidney stones. Charlie was ministering on a Sunday morning and several people in attendance had placed articles of clothing or other items on the altar to receive prayer and take back to loved ones. During this service the young woman’s husband placed her necklace with a beautiful golden cross on the pulpit. He was believing for her miracle.

Acts 19:11-12 (NIV)  says, “God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, so that even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured and the evil spirits left them.”

This loving husband took the necklace, after the meeting, and placed it on her. Suddenly, her body temperature began to rise into a fever and the golden cross on her necklace began to burn her. Immediately they took it off and the symptoms left her body… She was completely healed of her kidney infection and stones.

The following day the hospital ran tests on her and verified that she was well and cleared her with a clean bill of health! 

 

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This is just one story of the fourteen days my husband was gone. One life that was forever touched. Two hearts that were seared with the love and healing power of Christ. She and her husband received a miracle from a living God. 

My living God.

So, for the fourteen morning hugs and the fourteen goodnight kisses… I will gladly share.

I will share my heart, my husband, with others because I know that they will meet the living God. They will be touched by the power of His presence and be introduced to the Savior, Jesus Christ. 

 

 

“Father, make of me a crisis man. Bring those I contact to decision. Let me not be a milepost on a single road; make me a fork, that men must turn one way or another on facing Christ in me.” – Jim Elliot (Missionary to Ecuador)

 

Cheerleaders.

Who remembers high school?

You know. The completely awkward time in your life where you thought you had everything figured out and knew exactly who you were and what you wanted out of life.

Now, who remembers the high school cheerleaders?

I do. Well, I can’t name them all to you now… But there was a time that I could.

As a Freshman in a mid-size private school located in Upstate New York, I desperately wanted to be a Cheerleader for the basketball team. We were too small to have a football team, so this was the only time there were cheerleaders. They were so fabulous with their long hair in bows, shiny lip gloss and glittery smiles… Pretty much everything I was NOT.

When try outs came, my friends and I went to the gym as prepared as we thought possible. I’m going to go ahead and skip through the devastatingly awkward try out I had and just let you know that the days after were torture… We must have waited about a week to call in to a RECORDING of a list of the girls that made the squad.

It was a time before cell phones… So on that Wednesday night I slipped out of Youth Group with one if my best friends. We crept downstairs to the church kitchen where a phone hung on the wall. Standing there, in the doorway of the kitchen, we called the recording. I may have dialed twice… Why? Because I heard ALL my friend’s names including the one next to me, but I didn’t hear mine.

Thud.

That was my teenage heart getting crammed into my throat as I tried not to cry my eyes out.

Failure. It happens. Sometimes you just don’t make the squad…

Is this the time when you give up, get depressed and eat a tub of Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream? Yes. Well, maybe… I probably did that. BUT I was 15 and we just can’t do that in adult life. :)

So, I will tell you what happened next…

Another year went by and Basketball season was quickly approaching. That meant Cheerleaders… But this time, I didn’t want to try out.  I didn’t know if I could face rejection again. That’s the weird thing about failure or rejection… it teases you. It tells you, You can’t face me. But the thing is, you already have. So who cares if it shows up again? How will you respond to its taunts?

Convinced by a  friend that had been on the squad 2 years in a row,  I  tried out again. But first I wanted to make sure I was really truly prepared. So  I asked her to help me create a cheer. We met after school and practiced, going over the moves until it was solid. I went into that gym with confidence I didn’t know I could have and made the squad that year.

What am I trying to say in all this?

In life, not everyone is going to be your cheerleader. They won’t all line up on the sidelines with pom-pom in hand cheering your name. In fact, sometimes it’s Failure that shows up, cheering the loudest. In those moments, grab your own bag of glitter and pom-pom’s and cheer for yourself. Don’t let the taunts from the crowd stop you from trying again. Go after your dreams and don’t ever give up. Quiet the voices of failure by facing them head-on and going for it anyway!

Defeat Your Disappoinment

Disappointment.

Yuck. I don’t even like writing that word. Just looking at it makes me cringe a bit. How about  you?

When something in life is disappointing, it fails to meet your expectation.

Plain and simple. No matter how high or low those expectations were set, something has fallen short of meeting them.

Everyone will experience disappointment at some point; whether it’s family, work, church, friends, school, even your goals and dreams. The KEY is… How are you going to respond? How are you going to face inevitable disappointment as it lurks around the corner like a schoolyard bully? Are you giving up your lunch money so easily? Or are you willing to FIGHT for it?

Isaiah 40:31  in the Amplified Bible says, “But those who wait for the Lord [who expect, look for, and hope in Him] shall change and renew their strength and power; they shall lift their wings and mount up [close to God] as eagles [mount up to the sun]; they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint or become tired.”

Today, if you are facing disappointment of any kind. Be encouraged! God will give you peace and rest to soar over obstacles that may be holding you back. He will also give you strength and strategy to accomplish those things that you desire.

Don’t give up and don’t quit.

You are rare, and there is only one of you.

So, be you.

 

I Have Seen The Vision…

The other day, my husband and I were going through boxes of items we had in storage. We came across this…

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Memories came flooding in. This world map hung on my wall in that small dorm room in Columbus, Ohio. I remember speaking to another young woman who was also studying Missions. She said, “Brynn, you need to get a map and mark the countries you want to go to and start praying over them now. Watch what God will do.”

That day I went to the local Office Max, picked up my very own map and taped it up on my wall. I marked it with scriptures and promises from God. I began to pray and declare over the map and the nations God had laid on my heart.

I took that map to every apartment and home I have lived in since that tiny dorm room. It’s a bit worn and so now I keep it tucked away for safe keeping, but it is always a reminder of God’s promise. Psalm 2:8 (NIV) declares, “Ask me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession.”

At the top of the map I wrote a quote from The Challenge Of Missions, a book I had been studying. When I read it, it burned within me. The inscription is blurred, but it reads: “I have seen the vision and for self I cannot live; life is less than worthless ’till my all I give.” – Oswald J. Smith

The One Thing Paul Did

Have you ever failed at something? Public or Private. You just felt alone and didn’t know how to get back on your feet? Read the following guest post by my hubs, Charlie Shamp. I know it will hit home for you. 

The full article can be viewed at http://www.destinyencounters.com under Prophet’s Loft. Or just click on this fab photo :)

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Enjoy!