Don’t take the Wind out of their Sails- Communicating God’s Way

 

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Dad warned me in my single years, “You take the wind out of their sails.” Whether I asked for his advice or not—like father, like daughter. “You talk too much. You don’t always have to have the last word.”

This week I found a journal entry, Rolling, written those years. Timely in light of my recent daily prayer …for humility.

Rolling—

I’m so controlling,

I’m a ball that’s rolling

Over my man, again,

Taking the wind out of his sail.

My mouth,

A forceful gale.

God I need help…to stop myself,

I must lose

for us

to win

I don’t know what spurred this poem in those days, but we all know words have the power to build up or tear down. I’ve been working on my heart-mouth sync since I accepted Jesus Christ as Lord at 17. Then it was sarcasm and gossip. My delivery can take a twisted turn pretty quick.

Nowadays, I have a husband who picks up on the tiniest attitude, my sacred mirror. Bummer for me. I have to speak from a heart of respect and a thoughtful mind for a gracious delivery if I’m feeling at all tweaked.(impatient, judgmental, sarcastic,petty). Many times, silence is golden.

Pastor Greg Laurie gave a sermon at a harbor in Crete, Greece. Pointing to docked sailboats he explained in Ephesians 5:18 when Paul spoke of us being filled with the Spirit—it had the  meaning of these sails filled with the gusts of wind and ready for the journey.

James 3:4 says “although ships are large and driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go…”the tongue is like a little rudder that steers a great ship—

If any of you have struggled for a lifetime with mouth problems, I have found practicing spiritual disciplines really helps.

Start the day asking for humility and to be filled with the Holy Spirit. When we’re emptied of pride and selfish ways (impatience, judgment) we can be filled with His Spirit and gentleness—strength under control.

Jesus loves to be walking with us on this journey. He helped Peter, the impetuous apostle. He can help any of us who have the uncanny ability some will never know….to speak before thinking. Did I say that?

 “May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.”    Psalm 19:14

 

Japanese Garden SF

How to Weed Hearts and Grow a Garden for Two

 

Japanese Garden SF

Yesterday I weeded the little patch across from the sliding glass door where our budding rose tree dove toward the dirt midweek. Steve propped it up with a stake again and I yanked at crabgrass ½ inch round and 6 inches under—that nasty grass is back? Wow. I’d spent hours removing stones and crabgrass many springs ago.

 

Now, it felt right to have my  husband working it too—two tending their garden together.  Spring a decade past “weeding and writing” filled my days in the midst of writing my book and acquiring a fixer upper.

 

Gardening invadedmy thoughts after hearing “You have a garden with every person in your life.”  How was I doing maintaining the garden with various friends and family? I hated weeding which was a chore growing up.

 

Pondering this concept, I first practiced “weeding sessions” when I was dating.  We would share observations, disgruntles and negative emotions that were hiding dormant (unseen) by the other. Of course, many times we knew something was up because although hidden by silence, nonverbals would creep through like crabgrass roots strangling any beneficial growth. I knew once exposed and removed, seeds could be sown, beautiful thoughts and good acts and deeds to nourish the soil of our heart and create a fragrant garden together. It required care and commitment.

 

Every plot of land, every relationship or garden between two people needs maintenance. Is there a child we are at odds with? An estranged sibling? Difficult parent or spouse? Critical thoughts, like weeds must be chucked. God’s counsel, His Word, encourages us to forgive as Christ forgave us insults, being misunderstood, harshness, apathy. Failures, mistakes, and wounds from ill-spoken words or none at all.

 

People are fragile. Handle with care, a saying from my teens, reminds me of flowers. Hearts must be fertilized and tended, seeded by affirming thoughts and prayers resulting in spoken affirmations and validations. Making plans and creating good memories replants the ground of our heart with fragrant blooms where once weeds stood dominant. We must get past the past to plan and create thriving gardens, joyful flowers.

 

As we rehearse prayerfully and practice speaking the truth in love, we become more skilled. When we measure our words with respect and intentionally speak in a gentle tone, anger defuses. When we allow Christ to teach us humility, God’s ways, to practice understanding—we look at the beam in our own eye before mentioning the beam in someone else’s. The rubble and weeds of pride break free from our hearts. When judgement dies, mercy lives, mercy that triumphs over judgement.

 

I never garden in the rain. Nowadays I am learning to observe the sunshine or dampness on my husband’s face—like noting the weather condition in his life. It’s like God saying when. Wait. Not now, means more time to pray for softness for both of us. Ground that is ready. Diplomacy means we agree to meet… and weed. Without agreement stubborn weeds resist. Timing is everything. I love to weed after a good rain- the weeds come out with half the effort.

 

How do we live without grace? Not only being gracious with someone else but with ourselves. Each situation is different even if it’s the same issue whether with the same person or someone else. If we have avoided resolving conflict from fear of how-to, if we haven’t pursued building a relationship or garden with someone for awhile—our tools will be rusty. It starts with asking God for help and courage to start.

We are equipped with all we need—two ears to listen patiently, one mouth to say less over more and a heart that beats to love as God designed. We must let go of the outcome before we start, but not let go of an attitude of  faith, hope and love. It is impossible to plan a conversation or control it. We must trust  our Master Gardener to help us get in and start when he says now. He knows how to prune anything and how to grow every flower and fragrance we can imagine—or can’t.  

 

Pursue (think plant!)  righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience and gentleness of heart.   1 Timothy 6:11 

 

 

 

 

Japanese Garden SF

Gratefulness from First Time Forty-Something Parents

Bruce and Betsy knew each other fifteen years through mutual friends. But they did not connect until the time was right. Betsy had not dated anyone past a few weeks. Why? It didn't take long for her to know there was no future potential. She was a busy professional with close family and friends.

Bruce said,I was 43 and Betsy was 39 and at one time we both figured we would not or may not ever get married. Now we have two children who have no idea their parents could be old enough to be grandparents. God hears our cry.”

 Psalm 130:6  My soul waits for the Lord, more than the night watchmen that watch for the morning.

As a single engineer, sailor and outdoor enthusiast, he climbed mountains—Mt Whitney and Half-Dome. Now he builds mountains…out of sand on the beach with his children. His first born had successful heart surgery to heal congenital anomalies.

Today he expressed his gratefulness, once again, of God's gracious gifts to him:

“We are so blessed as well to be alive and thankful to God for his provision.  We had a good reminder of this on Valentines Day; the hospital had a reunion for all the kids who had heart surgery in the last year.  We enjoyed seeing the nurses and doctors who were used by God to heal Samuel and it was amazing to see the many little children who had been through 3 and 4 surgeries already by 4 years old.  We praise God for his loving kindness and grace to our family and that Samuel is fixed.”

 “I am amazed at God's blessing – we are celebrating 5 years of marriage this weekend and just thank God for the blessing of children that we get to enjoy in our life. 

Samuel blurted out in his Awana class Sunday night, "My dad is 48."   The Awana leader figured I didn't want everyone to know how old I was, but I love it because it is a real joy to be healthy. I do not deserve these blessings but God give us much more than we deserve every day.

From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, the name of the Lord is to be praised.” Psalm 113:3

Priceless Marriage

This week I heard a lady talking about the Hope Diamond she saw on a recent vacation.
“HOw big is it?” I asked.
“This big!” she said, making a circle with her fingers so large she stated, “It’s hard to believe anyone would wear this rock.”
Then, an hour later, I had a brief conversation with another woman. Her husband died suddenly last February. They were married forty years; he was diagnosed with cancer out-of-the-blue (an avid marathon runner) and was gone in three months. She said he did so well, even after chemo, he told her two days before he passed, “I feel so good it’s hard to believe I’m going to die!” But, he did.
“We had a wonderful marriage,” she looked at me through true-blue eyes.
“That is a rarity,” I said, thinking of the Hope Diamond. “What a blessing.”
“I feel blessed,” she said. “It was really a happy time and a wonderful marriage.”
I didn’t see sadness. Only gratefulness. It was easy to see his love still keeps her content now, that she has been loved and is loved.
Priceless human love is well expressed in Song of Solomon 7:6,7…
“Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm; for love is as strong as death, its jealousy unyielding as the grave. It burns like blazing fire, like a mighty flame.
Many waters cannot quench love; rivers cannot wash it away. If one were to give all the wealth of his house for love, it would be utterly scorned.”

Fireproof

“If you want to see a good movie, take your wife to see Fireproof!” I suggested following one of the workers out to the front driveway of my house on Wednesday.

“So it’s about putting out fires in your marriage?” the handyman threw some stuff in the back of his cab, where his teenage son sat listening.

“Well, something like that,” I smiled. “Take her on a date night.”

“You think she would be happy with me if I took her to see this movie?” he opened the driver’s door and looked directly at me.

“Yes, I do.”

“Okay then,” he grinned. “If it will make her happy, we’ll go.” He waved goodbye.

How could anyone not appreciate the messages of a movie like Fireproof? Surely it helped the 200 couples who visited it opening night from our church—but also, last Friday night thirteen single friends met to check it out. Granted it was difficult for a couple of people who have been married. It was too real. Real life. Real dynamics. And real answers—but only if two people embrace the answers together.

I was reminded of the influence of friends when people go through shaky times in marriage. “My wife’s friends are pulling her away from me,” a young married man with a toddler, once shared. She was bored and unhappy. The partying, pleasure-seeking group of gals she met up with on the neighborhood turned her allegiance from family to the fast life. She left and hitched up with a motorcycle group. Last time I saw her, she was dressed in black, living the dark side.

“To the the hungry soul every bitter thing is sweet,” so the Proverbs says. And so without God, without a center, we are prone to naivety and self-absorption leading to quick fixes. The actress played her emotions well. She was ready to be duped. There for the grace of God go….

And who is not aware of the destructive capacity of a bad temper? “Rescue him once and you’ll have to do it again,” the Bible says. God’s nature is not demonstrated by man’s anger. Nor is love cultivated in a marriage. The man raged against his wife …and God. Humility is when we are humble not just with God, but played out in real life to the people around us, especially those closest to us.

The temptations that drive wedges into the fragility of fidelity at shaky times was portrayed vividly by the reality of scenes close to home. Always there is a cost to poor choices, and when people are bound in marriage the other person bears the consequences, somehow, some way.

The message is true and needed. This isn’t Hollywood. It isn’t Magic Mountain. It is America. The couple is an American couple we can all relate to in some degree. And those of us who have seen marriages saved and restored, it is reality.

God is a God of hope. There is always a chance for a smoldering wick to be rekindled in the hearts of two people and ignited again with God’s love, strength and hope.

“Everyone should see Fireproof.” my ex-sister in law stated. I agree.

Calling Two Hearts

Living our calling isn’t always easy as a single. But as a couple?

It can get tricky when two people are trying to live the lives God intended for them, doing what God wants them to do and consider their partner. To nourish the soul is to often let go’ of what one person wants in a relationship in order to meet the other person’s calling or need.

Yesterday I learned an engaged couple in their forties, both never married—broke their engagement because the woman said she would never leave the church she was attending. He did not agree with some of the doctrine of the church, nor feel comfortable there. One might say, “They can each go to their own church.” He wanted to be able to attend church together. It was a deal-breaker. And that’s how it must be, before they become one under God and face other decisions that can require a much bigger sacrifice.

Like the one I read today in Worldwide Challenge.

The article was about a well-loved army chaplain, Chaplain Zell, who has four boys. The smiles on the faces of he and his wife of eleven years and all the boys, almost cracks through the magazine page it is so genuine. However, he spends a lot of time away in Iraq since he joined the army in 2002 as a chaplain.

Apparently, they were on a “married date” six years ago when he shared his desire—that he felt God was calling him to become a military chaplain. Wanting to be on the same page about everything, especially a huge decision like this, his wife assured her husband.
She flipped over a restaurant comment card and wrote on the back, “I, Amy Zell, permit my husband Michael to follow his heart. If that leads him to be in the military chaplaincy, so be it.” They later framed it as a reminder.

It is touching to observe marriage as God intended. As singles, we must wait for the mate we can support and be supported by, in the same way. “The only thing worse than waiting is wishing you had.” ( Thanks Grandma.)

a marriage: a home

I read a note a married woman wrote to a new bride:

Sometimes I feel like Sarah too–I think all of us in some way or
another, as a wife, feel like we sacrifice a lot for our
husbands…but, it’s worth it! Just keep reminding yourself that your
home is not a physical place anymore.

Your home is wherever John is.

So, if he moves you to Tiperary or Badooka, Kentucky. you can say
with assurance, “I am home, because I am with John.”

This reminded me so much of Jesus saying if we love him and follow his teachings, he and the Father would love us and come and make their home with us. (John 14:23) Jesus sacrificed his life for us, His church, his bride, so we could be eternally connected.

In Ephesians 5:25 it talks about husbands loving their wives as Christ loved the church, followed by the picture of two becoming one. Marriage is described (Eph. 5:32-33) as a mystery— similar to Christ and the church—the love, the abiding, the unity of a husband and a wife.

The picture of God loving us as His church and making a home with us is reflected by the marriage relationship: a man and woman loving each other, staying together – making a home together.

And although we don’t see it enough, certainly it exists as evidenced by this woman’s marriage. The light but sincere way she spurs the young bride to love and sacrifice for her husband as she has, is a picture of divine love. Where there is love, there is sacrifice and reward. One that can’t be measured… but treasured.