Our imagination is bigger than we think!

Our imagination is bigger than we think!

Recently, Jeff and I were privileged to be a part of my cousin’s daughter’s wedding. I say apart because, Jeff performed the wedding and I was the day of coordinator. Which is a fancy term, that basically means I told everyone what to do that day, but my family would probably say that was nothing new. 

 

There are two reasons why this was such a special occasion. The first is because it was kind of surreal going back home for this special occasion.  You see,thirty years ago, it would of been my mom and dad doing this, because that is just what their role was in the family. When anything came up that needed a preacher, my mom and dad were the ones the family called on. Because my parents were both ministers with the Assemblies of God for over 40 yrs. 

In fact it was 18 years ago my mom performed the wedding of my cousin and his wife, only because my daddy had already gone home to heaven. So to say we keep things like this in the family is sort of an understatement. It truly felt the mantel was passed on to Jeff and I, not only in ministry but by performing the wedding in the exact same church where my mom performed my cousin’s wedding, and now his daughter was getting married. 

Another neat thing about this special event is when we went back to this town I was born in (Iola Kansas) and where Jeff and I served in the church not once but twice, we not only got to see many friends from our church there. It was endearing as we drove around town remembering all the blessings God had brought us while we lived there.  

Now our life has never been without problems, so we were also reminded of the difficult times as well. But because we kept our focus on the good, the bad didn’t over shadow us, even going to the graveside of my parents was not a disappointment because I know where they are and it isn’t in that grave, but it is in heaven. 

One thing that was a surprise though was how much smaller things felt. As Jeff and I was driving to the park entrance, He even made the comment “I remember it being a lot further down this road” and when we entered the old church, where we had pastored, I made the comment “I remember these rooms being bigger”. 

Now had the street gotten any shorter or the room any smaller since the last time we were there? No, but our mind had made them much bigger than they really were. In the six years since our last visit to the town and the probably 20 plus years since we had been inside the church, nothing had changed about these places but in my mind they were so much bigger. 

Isn’t that what happens to all of us though, and I don’t mean just physical things but just about any idea we have in our mind can be blown up much bigger than what it actually is. For instance someone says something to you and you might not think anything about it right away, but if you sit and dwell on it, the longer you think about it the bigger the conversation can get and the more offense we can take. 

We often allow things to fester and grow in our minds much bigger than they actually are. Romans 12:2  reminds us “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—His good, pleasing and perfect will.”  Satan doesn’t want us to be happy and at peace, that is why he drops negative thoughts in our minds that we focus on. Because he wants us to focus on the bad in every situation.

Paul tells us in Philippians 4:8 …… Fix your thoughts on what is true and good and right. Think about things that are pure and lovely, and dwell on the fine, good things in others. Think about all you can praise God for and be glad about. (TLB) 

If we only dwell on the negative in our lives, we will end up magnifying everything we think about over and over again for an extended period of time and the truth is the situation or the issue often isn’t as big has our mind imagines it to be. 

I remember my dad telling the story of a church he pastored where there was so much offense between two families in the church that they refuse to speak to each other and sat on separate sides of the church. One day my dad brought the leaders of both sides of the family into his office and told them, “It is time this feud stops! Now tell me why you can’t get along? What happened between your two families that has made you so mad?” The two people thought for a moment and looked at my dad and said “We can’t remember” Here they had been mad at each other for 40yrs., refuse to have anything to do with each other, all while calling themselves Christians and they couldn’t remember what they were mad about? 

Satan had taken something that obviously wasn’t that big of a deal and magnify it into a family feud that lasted years and who knows how many countless people were turned off of the idea of knowing Christ because of these so called Christian’s actions. All because they had dwelled on something way to long and allowed Satan to make it much bigger than what the situation obviously really was. 

So what are you thinking about? What keeps you up at night? What has you so angry you are refusing to speak to someone? Whatever it is, try stepping back and focusing on Phil 4:8.  Because you aren’t doing it for the people you are upset with you are doing it for you, and because God asked you to, and God only asks us to do what He knows is best for us.

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We love like we have been loved

We love like we have been loved

Recently,I got to sit around and reminisce with our oldest son about past Christmases he had with his Grandma Lewis. (my momma) He reminded me that she showed up one year in her car completely packed from front to back, top to bottom, with Christmas presents and only enough room for her to sit in the driver’s seat with her little head of her barely 5 ft frame peeping over the steering wheel. This was the perfect example of a Christmas with my mom or any holiday truthfully,  and for no reason that I can comprehend, Lee accused his father and I of being worst with his kids. Just because we always bring his kids something when we come to visit or send presents on holidays when we can’t be there. As I explained to my daughter-in-love. We love those kids like we have been loved. It can be as something as silly as a bag of apples and oranges that Jeff will bring in a box and act as if it is something super special, lining the children all up and telling them to close their eyes because he has a prize for them. To the better gifts that the grandchildren say I know how to pick out. We all laugh and have a good time, just making them feel special.

 

I guess you could say gift giving was my family’s love language. I can’t even image only giving one gift a piece to my grand kids at Christmas. Now mind you, we don’t necessarily give big expensive gifts and I have even been know to buy good used toys for my grands and give them. I can remember my mom wrapping a 6 pack of sock by taking each pair out and wrapping it individually, just so it looked there were like a lot of gifts under the tree. My mom who lived on less than $700 a month in her retirement years, found so much joy in giving that she would find ways to make sure all 3 of us (at the time) would have tons of gifts under the tree. Not that buying presents is the only way to show love, but it is and outward sign of an inward feeling for my family. My parents who raised me, showed me such unconditional love when they took me in as a newborn and raised me as I was their own. I know without a doubt they would of given their lives for me.

 

I was talking this past week to a friend who had, a negative experience in love. She was previously in an abusive relationship and now that she has found new love she was scared to take the next step. She told me,” If you have never felt a love like that than it is hard to realize you can be loved in that way.”

 

That really got me thinking, in this world where New York just approved to legalize abortion up to the day of birth, made me ask “What are people so scared of? As parents, our jobs are not easy it can be a scary thing raising a child and being solely responsible for it.  Especially if you have never really been loved. We live in a society where the traditional roles have been shattered and whether you agree with it or not you have to say that it has only made people more confused about their place in relationships are. Perhaps that is why marriage seems to becoming more and more extinct. People are afraid to commit to marriage and we have to ask the question why? Are they afraid to love because they have never really been loved?

 

Marriage is a covenant between two people before God committing their love to one another forever and the wise ones who make that covenant know it can’t be done without God’s help. Many who make that covenant these days know they need to love like the way they have been loved. With an unconditional love that the father above has given them. It is only when we accept that love and trust in the Heavenly Father that we can really love like we are suppose to love. Jeff Miller knows me, He knows every part about me, the good, the bad and they ugly,  and he still loves me. So when I get upset with Jeff, I have to remember how much he has put up with from me.

 

If we will all just be honest with ourselves, none of us are perfect but yet we have the God who created the universe who wants to be part of our life. Yet, we can’t grasp that kind of love. We can’t grasp the idea of God not expecting perfection but, He is simply looking for surrender. As a child it wasn’t uncommon that under the Christmas tree each year it would be full of gifts. Jeff and I did the same with our children and now with our grands. We simply are showing the love that we received. I hope today, you realize there is a man who hung on a tree and gave His life for you. Because He loves you. How about today we love Him with unconditional love too. How about we surrender our life to Him and share the amazing love He has given us with others.

The Not So Perfect Couple!

Recently, Jeff and I celebrated our 32nd wedding anniversary. On Facebook, I posted a video I had asked our daughter to put together a couple years ago which reflected so much of our past. But, as I watched it this year, it seemed incomplete to me. Oh, sure, there were the pictures of Jeff and me from our teen years; pictures of us dressed up so much we could have gone to a prom. (We never did though; that’s a long story for later.) Pictures of our honeymoon; pictures of Jeff, headed to the airport to leave me for nine long months to go to the Philippines with the USAF, after being married for just three weeks; pictures of our babies, from birth till now. And, all that caused a plethora of memories to rush in.  

But honestly, it all looked a little fake to me – or maybe I should say, the premise of it all made us appear to be something that we aren’t.  We aren’t “Perfect”! What you didn’t see in that video is the tears that have been cried over loved ones dying, infertility, the extended childhood illness we went through with our son, the learning disabilities,  the financial infidelity,  the rejection of our extended family, emotional infidelity, homelessness, joblessness, the harsh words said to each other, and the tender moments when forgiveness came. You didn’t see the 13 moves we made – in three states and two countries – and the 18-plus jobs Jeff had to support us.
The “perfect pictures” you see on the video aren’t what makes our life perfect. What does make our life perfect for me, is knowing that Jeffrey Miller knows the worst of me and still chooses to find the best in me. It is knowing that, no matter how aggravating I am to that man, I know he would give His life for me! It is the times we have stood together through the trials and prayed together. It is the times that we couldn’t stand to be in the same room with each other, but God’s grace brought us together once again.
See, the video, which makes our life appear perfect, is just a perception. If anyone had been a fly on the walls of our lives for the last 36 years, they would never say, “This is a ‘Perfect Couple!’” No, they would be scratching their heads, asking, “How did this young couple, who met at the ages of 13 and 16, even make it down the aisle, let alone still stand together 32 years later?”
But i am here to proclaim, it is simply by the grace of God! There is nothing good within either of us that deserves the grace that God has given us, let alone the grace we have received from each other. God’s faithfulness has completed us and, without that grace, we would not have had the stamina it has taken to stick out this life-long commitment we made some 32 years ago.
Were their times we wanted to quit? You bet! The odds were stacked against us, yet we still prevailed; not in ourselves, but in the strength of God. There were days when we could not have taken another step in this relationship if it wasn’t for the grace of God, carrying us through. But God directed our steps and saw us through. He is the One who gave us the strength to try it one more day.
In this day and age, when the sanctity of marriage is being attacked all around us, we must remember that the only way we can make it another 32 years is not in the strength that we have within ourselves, but it is only through the love and saving grace of Jesus Christ.
In our first 32 years of marriage, we have learned that love is not a feeling, but a choice; an action; a verb. It isn’t about what we feel, but it is about what we know and then, what we do!
Yes, love is a choice, and I am so glad that through it all, we made that choice! Even when it was a tough one! So don’t let the pretty pictures on Facebook deceive you. There isn’t a couple that has been married for very long that won’t tell you that they have all had their struggles and their trials. The only difference in the outcome is the choices they made.
So I encourage you: whatever issue you are having right now with the person you love, remember, “Love is a choice.” I will also give you some amazing advice that a good friend of mind gave me – after she had almost lost her marriage – when I was in the hardest part of our marriage, and was ready to walk out the door. She told me, “All I can tell you, Alesa, is this: If you will hang in there and not quit, it will be worth it – I promise!”  She was right. It was those words that God used through her that encouraged me to stay one more day and is why we are where we are today.
So hang in there, don’t quit! I promise, “it will be worth it!!”