To Be an Imitator

I wanted to show you something I wrote for a freelance writing opportunity for a newspaper. It has to do with love.

For The Love of Your Husband

Yes, my husband irritates me very much at times. He puts all his clothes into one load without sorting them. He leaves the lid to the toilet seat up and he doesn’t know which cabinets the towels go in. To this day, he doesn’t know the proper way to fold laundry! I could go on and on. However, I choose to focus on the good he does for me.

Our daughter recently moved out and he put motion sensor lights all around the house so I could see everything. This way I would feel safe while he is at work. He fixes everything in the house, makes sure the bills are paid on time, changes the A/C filters when it’s time and does all the car maintenance himself on our vehicles. Why would I possibly complain about this man?

In 2006, I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. I’ve had many complications due to the MS arise. He’s been there through it all…multiple doctor visits, etc. The vows quoted, “for better, for worse, in sickness and in health”, he takes seriously. He hasn’t gone anywhere.

On top of all this, I’ve had multiple surgeries and he has been by my side for each one. I’ve had a surgery each year since 2013. I just recently had a Bladder Augmentation. He cleaned my behind from diarrhea, slept on a sofa in the hospital room for a total of five nights and survived on canned tuna, guacamole and peanut butter he had brought from home. He also gave me showers. So, what can I say? What kind of man does this? I’ll tell you. It’s a good man and I don’t care how he folds laundry!

This is just a sample of how much my husband loves me. He does so much more. The question is, do I show him as much love? I don’t think so.

How much love do you show your spouse? Would you do for him or her what I described in the sample article I wrote above? What if your spouse suddenly had a bad car accident and became disabled or became very sick with some disease? Would you stay or would you leave? I ask the question, because I know of some people who lost their spouse after being diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis.

Think about the vows you repeated at your wedding…”for better or worse, in sickness and in health til death do us part”.   Don’t you take those vows seriously? You should. God does. Marriage is a covenant before God. Marriage is sacred to God.

Covenant means to promise, to agree to do or not to do certain things. When you repeat your vows to wed, you are repeating them before God, whether you are Christians or not. So many people now-a-days go into marriage with the attitude if it doesn’t work out, they’ll just get a divorce. This is wrong! This is NOT how God intended marriage to be!

My husband, Freddie and I

My husband, Freddie and I

My husband and I will be married 28 years on August 20. It has been a very hard road. There were even times we didn’t like one another. For one reason or another, we have stuck it through. We enjoy the best marriage we’ve ever had now. Can it be even better?  Yes.  Always.

Psalms 74:20 says

Have respect unto the covenant; For the dark places of the earth are full of the habitations of violence.

Shouldn’t you respect EVERY covenant you make, including marriage? You should stay true to your word. That is integrity. God is true to his word. How would you feel if God said if you believe in Christ and accept him in your heart that you would be saved then took it back because of something you did wrong that doesn’t please him?

There are correct ways to love like God. You are given the characteristics of godly love in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil, does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Read that verse slowly. Read it over and over again until it is in your spirit.

My husband, Freddie and I

My husband, Freddie and I

The love you are used to giving is conditional. This is the way of the world, not of God. For instance, you may think, “If he/she shows me love, I will do so in return.” You don’t love as God instructs, because you are afraid. You are afraid of rejection. You can be afraid of being taken advantage of. God didn’t give you a spirit of fear. 2 Timothy 1:7 says

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

Perhaps you’re resentful toward your spouse for not loving you the way you think they should. This doesn’t matter to God. I’m not saying God doesn’t see or care about your pain. I mean you are to love your spouse God’s way, regardless of the situation. God commands you to love one another (John 13:34, 1 John 4:11, 1 John 3:11). Also, read the following:

John 15:12

“This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.”

John 15:17

“These things I command you, that you love one another.”

1 John 3:23

And this is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His son Jesus Christ and love one another, as He gave us commandment.

Jesus said in John 13:35

“By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Love is a big deal to God. God is love! You are to be an imitator of God. It says so in Ephesians 5:1

Be ye therefore imitators of God, as beloved children

Doesn’t your spouse qualify as loving “one another”? You look at the above verses and think of family, church members and friends, even ones you don’t like. However, do you think of your spouse when you read them?

The good news is you aren’t expected to love in a godly way by just sheer will power. God will help you. He doesn’t leave you or forsake you. Study the word “love” in your Bible. Pray and ask God to help you keep this great commandment.

Do I think my husband still needs work in the way he loves me? Yes, but so do I.

Let me apologize for my extended silence. I have been dealing with many medical issues due to the Multiple Sclerosis (MS) since the beginning of last November. I have also been blessed with three new grandchildren. Lydia, who was in NICU for two months last year, in which my daughter really needed me. I currently have a granddaughter in NICU and I have one healthy grandson! There may be spaces of times I don’t write as I may be dealing with medical problems that may arise or family situations. I have not abandoned my blog or my readers! Thank you for your patience.

Lydia, my angel!

Lydia, my angel!

Alice, my ladybug

Alice, my ladybug

 

 

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Mercy Me

Last Saturday I had to be at church by 10:00 am for a craft project with a bunch of women at church. I had invited my daughter to go.

Well, I slept through my alarm. I actually woke up at 8:30 am. This wouldn’t have been bad if I was going to the church alone. However, all I had time to do was get throw myself together and let our two dogs out. Then I jumped in the car to pick up my daughter. Afterwards, we had to drive to the church, located in Orange, Texas, which is an additional twenty minutes away from her apartment.

Don’t you know when you’re in a hurry you always get behind a slow poke driving 50 mph on a 75 mph road? It’s always a two lane road too! Thus was my situation. I found myself behind an old, dirty work truck of some sort and he was just taking his time. I did real good following the speed limits, like I normally do. I usually am not the speed demon (with a few exceptions). I arrived at my daughter’s apartment and waited impatiently for her.

Finally, we are heading out of Bridge City, Texas crossing over the bridge toward Orange. I’m not paying attention to my speed and know I’m not creeping, but know the speed increases slightly over the bridge. Long story short, I see a cop right past the bridge. That’s when I check my speedometer. I always check my speedometer when I see a cop car, even when I’m going the speed limit (am I the only one that does this?).The lights of the cop car come on and my daughter assures me that they are for me. I mutter something out loud as she asks me if I was speeding. I mentioned the speed increases and pull over while Ashley is telling me the speed limit is 45 mph over the bridge.

A lady cop comes to my driver’s side door and says she’s stopping me for speeding. I was going 60 in a 45. She asks me a few questions, I give her my insurance and registration and hand her my license. She returns to her car. My daughter is talking to me and all I can hear is the voice in my head saying I’m going to get a ticket. I then catch myself saying to my daughter that her dad’s going to be so mad at me. Then it hits me what I’m actually speaking out loud. Immediately my thoughts turn to the Lord and I say “Mercy, Lord”. In my mind I’m praying I don’t get a ticket. Bridge City cops are notorious ticket writers.

I’m watching her in my side mirror as she’s returning to my car. I see a pink slip in her hand. She is standing beside me within a couple minutes explaining to me she is giving me a warning for the speed instead of a speeding ticket! Glory be to God for his mercy!

Did you know that God is not only a faithful God, a loving God and a forgiving God, but he is a merciful God! I’m not just talking about small things like speeding tickets, but with all things and all people.

The Bible says in Lamentations that God’s mercies are new every day. Read Lamentations 3:22-23

It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.

I thank God that his mercies are new every day. I mess up a lot. Who doesn’t? However, sometimes I lose sight of the fact that I am to show as much mercy to others that God has shown and continually shows to me. God commands that you show mercy in Luke 6:36

Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

In Matthew 18:21-22, Peter asks Jesus how many times he should forgive someone…

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times…

Jesus goes on to tell Peter a parable about a King wanting to collect what one of his servants owes him. This servant owed the King more than he could ever make in a lifetime. The King had ordered the man, his family and all he owned be sold to repay the debt. However, when the servant pleaded with him for mercy, the King gave it to him and forgave all his debt. Later, that same servant went and found a fellow servant who owed him money and demanded repayment. When his fellow servant pleaded for mercy, he gave him none and had him thrown in jail. The other servants saw this and told the King. The King was very upset with the wickedness of this servant whom he had forgiven so much debt. The King asked him shouldn’t he have shown the same mercy that was given to him? Then, angry, the King handed him over to the jailers to be tortured until he could repay the debt.

Jesus then says in Matthew 18:35            

“This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”

God observes how you treat others. The consequence of James 2:13, because judgement without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful, proves to be true in the parable spoken above. The verse continues on to say Mercy triumphs over judgment.

When God shows you mercy, he doesn’t even remember your sins. He says in Hebrews 8:12

For I will be merciful to their iniquities, and their sins will I remember no more.

He expects you to show the same mercy to others. The reward for showing mercy to others is receiving mercy yourself. It says so in Matthew 5:7

Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.

It is very important not to let bitterness take root in your heart over something wrong that’s been done to you. It is impossible to show mercy to someone with underlying bitterness in your heart. When there is bitterness, mercy can’t be genuine no matter what words you say.

I’m not saying showing mercy is easy. Far from it! Mercy is something you have to practice. Begin by showing mercy to one person you don’t believe deserves it. Then pick someone else or another situation. Soon, mercy will become a way of life to you. Don’t misunderstand showing mercy as being a doormat. There is a time to stand up and speak out, but let God guide you as to when those times should be.

I’m not saying that by showing mercy, it condones the wrong someone may have done to you. I’m not saying that your relationship with that person has to be the same as it’s always been in the past. It won’t be, even if you salvage the relationship. And sometimes, a relationship can’t be salvaged. It’s going to take you to be the stronger, more mature person. God will give you the grace to do so. God’s grace is always sufficient for you.

Show mercy to others. Then pray for the ones that hurt you. Then release it to the Lord. That is the best thing to do. Also, remember, you WILL reap what you sow.

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Reconciliation

I talked about guilt and regret last week. I mentioned the conflict between my daughter and me. I’m not saying there weren’t good times. There were (there still are). I only wish there had been more. I love her so much, but I don’t believe she fully understands how much. Most importantly, I know God loves us both and cares about our relationship.

Ashley is very gifted, beautiful and smart. She has a beautiful, high soprano singing voice and is a talented painter.  Ashley used to be a veterinary technician and can be asked just about anything regarding dogs and cats and she can answer you intelligently. Ashley has long, straight light brown hair (she’d say blonde) with gorgeous green eyes. She’s short, like me, but has been blessed with a couple more inches. Many people say she looks like me, which is a compliment, because she is beautiful. In fact, she just recently had a newborn baby girl and her baby girl is as beautiful as she is. Yes, just like every parent, I hope she’s learned from my mistakes. However, she is a success at everything she sets her mind to. I know she is going to be a fantastic mother. She already is.

She had moved out to start her own life. However, I noticed something unusual. Even though we fought a lot, I missed her. I missed the Ashley and me that enjoyed each other’s company when we weren’t at odds. Also, you don’t really notice the little things someone does for you until they’re not around to do it. She would put the flea prevention on all the animals and keep their nails trimmed. She’d help me sweep and mop the floors sometimes (this is difficult for me physically). She was always there to lift a heavy bag for me or get something down for me that was too high (I can’t use a ladder due to balance issues).

I really enjoy it when she comes over now. We don’t even have to do anything. Just having her around is nice.   I think we were both trying to be the queen of the same castle. Well, there’s only room for one queen per castle and now we each have our own castle, which is good.

I can say now that we are actually becoming friends and she even talks to me about things she never used to before. There’s a closeness that’s slowly developing that I really enjoy. It’s a friendship that gets sweeter all the time with great promise for something even greater in the future.

Did you know God is in the business of reconciliation? It is because God looks at people differently than you do. You are not to look at anyone with your natural eyes. Read II Corinthians 5:16-19

So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come. The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.

He doesn’t want you to hold anyone’s sin against them either. You can’t do that and be reconciled to someone. After all, God wiped the slate clean for you.

Reconciliation is possible for any relationship. I’m praying he reconciles the relationship between me and my daughter, Ashley. I can see him working. However, I have to do my part. Oftentimes, God expects you to do something. You are to do your part and he will do his. In fact, you aren’t even to give an offering to him if you need to be reconciled to someone. See Matthew 5:23-24

Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.

Reconciliation is obviously very important to God. What relationship do you need reconciled? Is God telling you to do something? Then, do it.

When thinking of a relationship needing to be reconciled, I think of King David and his relationship with God. It says in the Bible that David was a man after God’s own heart. He was greatly blessed by God, even becoming the king. Then he committed adultery with Bathsheba. To add to things, Bathsheba became pregnant. So, David, not wanting the adultery to be found out, plots and arranges the death of Bathsheba’s husband.

The adultery gave way to more and more sin. However, doesn’t the Bible say that David was a man after God’s own heart? He was. David wasn’t perfect, obviously. He committed some very serious sins.

I’ve often heard people refer to King David and only recount his sins. They say he was an adulterer and a murderer. They don’t know or understand the full meaning of the story. The key they miss is that eventually, David did repent. He repented with his whole heart. Although he repented, David still suffered the consequence of all his sin and the son Bathsheba bore him, died. Despite everything, David’s repentance was genuine and God reconciled their relationship.

God loved David, but David needed to repent before reconciliation could take place. It had to start with David. In this example, I’m referring to the relationship between God and David. However, whatever relationship in your life you are believing reconciliation for, it has to start with you. Yes, you. God always starts with you. I know. It doesn’t always seem fair, especially when you believe you’re the one who was wronged. Doesn’t matter. God ALWAYS starts with you.

I want to take a moment here to make a point. Since my daughter and I have been talking more I’ve realized the hurts and sorrows in her heart that I didn’t know existed. I understand why she was and is the way she is now. There were other situations going on throughout her life that I wasn’t aware of other than my yelling at her all the time. As a result, I see her in a completely different light now. It’s like I have glasses on clearing up my vision. I can see her for the first time.

“What’s your point?” you ask? Remember when I mentioned above how God will start with you. He started with me. First he gave me some glasses. Those glasses brought conviction. I’d been so frustrated with her and so angry with her all the time, because of the arguing and so on and so on, that I didn’t see her troubled heart. No, that doesn’t excuse every argument full of nasty words exchanged between us, but I was seeing how my heart wasn’t right, not hers. That conviction brought me to my knees with tears streaming down my face repenting and asking God’s forgiveness for thinking only of myself and not noticing her pain. God had started with me. I had been living in a glass house.

I am doing what I can to make our relationship better. No, I am not perfect. The only one that’s perfect is Christ. I’m making it a point to try to show her more love and affection. I’m making more of an effort to take notice of my tone of voice and to say more loving things to her. I still mess it up from time to time, but I am a work in progress. I AM trying. As I take a step closer in our relationship, I witness her do the same. I believe one day it will be as if nothing has ever happened between us. What a day that will be! To God be all the glory!

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