When You’re Suddenly Broken

Early this morning I just wrote. I needed to process. When I started writing I wasn’t even sure anyone would ever read the words but me.

The next post I had ready to go was more about building our marriages…about the importance of date nights. In light of circumstances this week and things that have happened even over the last couple of days…I just can’t post that. Not now. Not today.

It’s still good and I still believe it, and it’s still coming. It’s just not for now.

Right now I’m mad.

Mad. Disappointed. Hurt. Grieving. Burdened. Sorrowful. Overwhelmed. Shocked. Upset. Angry. Sad. Furious. Confused.

I’m sitting here thinking about the many amazing young gymnasts who lived through hell…feeling trapped and isolated. I’m thinking about the fear and shame these young girls have carried. They were living their dream and then found themselves in the middle of a nightmare.

I’m thinking about the students who just lost their lives at the school shooting in Florida. I’m thinking about the Moms and Dads who sent their kiddos off to school that day with a kiss and never imagined they wouldn’t be kissing them good night later that day.

I’m thinking about the precious families in our own church who just lost husbands and fathers in the last two days. It’s close to home and it hurts…bad.

These situations have been on replay…running through my mind.

The questions start to flood.

Why? Over and over again…Why?

I’m asking questions, and I know the victims affected, the parents who lost children, and the families around us have to be asking questions too.

It’s hard not to. It’s hard not to look up and scream, “If You are really good, then why did this happen?!” It’s hard not to ask “why” a million times over. It’s hard not to wonder, “WHERE WERE YOU?!”

We look around and think, “It wasn’t supposed to be like this.” One second life is whole and the next moment broken pieces are shattered on the ground.

Last night and again this morning…all I can do is will myself to say, “You are good and I trust You.” The end. My mind starts to doubt and wander…

Every time I want to shout, “WHY?”…instead I fight to whisper, “You are good and I trust You.”

There are things we can’t understand and no amount of “why” will make it make sense.

At the end of 2016 when we were in the hospital with my Dad, and we weren’t sure he would be coming back home with us, I remember sitting in the CCU waiting room thinking, “What am I going to do?”

I knew I had a choice. I was angry at God…mad and hurt that we were in this situation.

I was going to run, the question was…where.

For those few moments I thought about running away…in my fear, anger, and disappointment I wanted to turn and run away.

Immediately, “The name of the Lord is a strong tower, the righteous run into it and they are safe” came to mind…like a lifeline thrown at me when I was in the middle of drowning.

I knew right then I could run away or I could run into.

We want to turn and run – somehow escape the reality we find ourselves in.

That night in the hospital room my “running into” didn’t look like someone running to the love of their life. It wasn’t a carefree run. I didn’t happily and joyfully run into His arms. I didn’t run into Him and let Him wrap His arms around me.

No. It was angry and it was frustrated…it was a desperate run…it was a fighting run.

It looked more like when a parent is trying to hold a child who is throwing a fit. That’s what my run looked like that night.

I don’t like this, I don’t want this, I don’t understand this, I’m feeling mad and hurt that  this is happening…but I have no where else to go…

“The name of the Lord is a strong tower, the righteous run into it and they are safe.”

I ran into it like a champion fighter trying to take down his opponent…but that tower is strong. He could handle my fight.

I am convinced we serve a God who can handle us – with all our questions and all our emotions.

He can handle our broken.

We don’t have to have it together in order for Him to hold us together.

I laid in bed last night thinking about all the people whose faces I’ve never seen who are going through such pain, and I was thinking about all the people whose faces I know well…who are right here, near and dear to my heart…all these people who are hurting and who feel like running.

My prayer for every person who finds themselves living a nightmare right now…every person who finds themselves broken…not sure how to think or where to go or if they can even put one foot in front of the other….when you find the strength to run, let it be into the Strong Tower that Jesus is.

We might not get an answer to our “why” but we will be held by the Comforter.

We might not understand but we can run into the one who understands.

We might not “feel” safe but running into that strong tower – even kicking and screaming and fighting – is the safest place we can be.

My prayer, for myself, and so many other precious people today is that we would dig deep and will ourselves to run into Jesus.

If we have to make the choice to run into Him a thousand times over today then we make the choice a thousand times over. 

 

Cultivating Gratitude in your Marriage

Let’s see if you can relate…

Husband comes home from work and begins to talk about his day. You listen, somewhat empathetically, while internally you are rolling your eyes and thinking about the challenges your day held.

Or maybe, your wife starts going on and on about all she’s had to deal with and get done that day, and all you’re thinking is, “Seriously? You’ve got nothing on me.”

One day, I walked in the door and Casey had just cleaned up the kitchen – even swept the floor.  He was pleased with himself…I could tell by the goofy grin he was wearing.

Being the awesome wife that I am…I said nothing. (I know, I know…I’m horrible.) A few minutes pass and he says, “What? No ‘thank you’ for sweeping the floor?”

To which I replied, “Do you know how many times a week I sweep this floor without a ‘thank you’ or anyone even noticing?!”  (Yes, I did. It was a real proud moment.)

Incase you were wondering…being slapped in the face with your own selfish nature and immaturity doesn’t feel great. Can you relate?

So, what do we do?

1 Thessalonians 5:18 says, “In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”

I think we like to over complicate things. Sometimes, the solution can be simple and straightforward.

Just. Give. Thanks. Give thanks in everything.

Do we really want to be in a competition for who had the busiest work day or who did the most with the kids or who picked up the slack around the house?

Really? It sounds so trivial, but it’s what we do to each other.

He says, “I changed the light bulb for you.”  If caught in the wrong moment, instead of a “Thank you” we list off “yeah, well I unloaded and reloaded the dishwasher three times, and I did six loads of laundry, and I drove our kids around everywhere, and I managed to still make supper…”

What starts out as an innocent statement turns into a battle for who’s going to win the trophy. Sometimes, it’s the seemingly small things that can so easily drive a wedge between us.

So often, in an effort to combat our own feelings of being unappreciated, we depreciate what our spouse brings to the table.

How’s that workin’ for us?

Perhaps if we sowed thankfulness, we might reap thankfulness. If we offered appreciation, we would reap appreciation.

If we cultivated an attitude of thankfulness in our marriage, what would happen? If we could just let those two little words, “thank you,” find their way from our lips to our spouses’ ear, what would happen?

I can tell you, from experience, there will be a shift in your heart. A thankful heart prepares the way for the Lord. When you excercise thanksgiving you will be changed, and your spouse will be blessed. 

The more we practice thankfulness the easier it will become.

Husband changed the light bulb in that hard to reach place – “Thank You.” Doesn’t matter what you’ve done that day; doesn’t even matter if you’d been asking him to do it for three weeks, and he finally got around to it. “Thank you.” That’s it.

When we take our focus off of fighting for and winning the “appreciation trophy”, we are more able to walk in the position of freely giving it.

Obviously we won’t get it right all the time. Otherwise, when I saw that clean kitchen – swept floor included – and that goofy grin on my husband’s face…”thank” and “you” would have been the two words that found their way out of my mouth.

It was easy enough (well, it wasn’t too terribly bad…Okay. Fine. It was hard, but I did it) to say, “You know what, it doesn’t matter if I never hear another word of gratitude for what I do around here…I am thankful for the help. Thanks for cleaning up the kitchen and sweeping today.”

Just start. Even if you feel like the starting point is muttering the words. Do it. You mutter the words “thank you” until you find them easy to say.

Find something to say “thank you” for today.

Don’t fight for that trophy anymore – instead, become the one handing out trophies left and right!

Let your thankful heart bless, and maybe surprise, your spouse today.

 

 

 

Loving Your Husband Well

As I sit here contemplating what it looks like to “love your husband” all I can really think about are all the times and ways I have not shown mine the kind of love the Word of God encourages a wife to give her husband. So, yeah…there’s that. IMG_2193

Like the times he walks in the door and I’m busy with the kids or with something around the house and he gets a quick, “Oh, hey…glad your home…can you take the trash out?”

Or the times he’s gone out of his way to bless and serve me in some way and it barely gets even a nod of appreciation.

Or what about the days that are challenging for him, and he does something hard? There are days he could use a boost…a little encouragement to keep going…a little cheering on, but his cheerleader is nowhere to be found. I’m too busy, caught up in my own world, to meet him where he is.

So, what does a real, true, deep down, knock-him-off-his-feet kind of love look like, and what’s getting in the way of giving that?

How can we show our husbands the kind of love they were designed to need?

We often say, “All my needs are met in Christ, but my husband/wife could certainly help!” That’s part of the beauty in God’s design and purpose for marriage.

My husband…your husband…was designed, by God, to need a specific kind of love and you were put in his life to give it.

In Titus 2 it says, “then they can train the younger women to love their husbands…” This is a specific instruction to wives, and the word used here for “love” is philandros. Paul uses a word that comes from the root of “phileo” to describe the love of a wife to her husband.

Phileo love is a tender, affectionate, passionate kind of love. It emphasizes enjoyment and respect in the relationship. It literally means: “to approve of, to like, to treat affectionately or kindly, to welcome, befriend, to show signs of love, to kiss.”

Phileo is not a dutiful love; it is to be characterized by joy and delight!

We all know the saying “Oh, I know my wife loves me, I just don’t think she likes me right now.” However, according to the definition of Phileo, these should be one in the same!

So, what keeps us from doing this? What stops us from giving our husbands this kind of love?

  • We are exhausted and spread thin. We get busy and caught up with life, work, children, projects, etc…we are distracted and out of the habit. Everything but our husbands get the best of us. Anyone else, or is it just me?
  • We decide it’s our job to “keep them humble.” We take it upon ourselves to keep them grounded. It’s hard to build someone up when you’re trying to make sure they don’t think too much of themselves.
  • Sometimes we withhold this kind of love because we want to control and manipulate our husbands. “He’s not doing anything I want him to do – so why would I give him what he wants?  If I do, what leverage/control do I have left?”  We believe more in the power of behavior modification than the power of the Holy Spirit. “When he does something I want, then I will love him well.”
  • Then there are times when how we love our husbands has more to do with our own identity and insecurity, and less to do with the man we married. If we don’t see our own worth and value it will make it harder to give worth and value to others. 
  • The journey we’ve walked can also make it hard to give this love freely. Hurts, wounds, and sin issues add up over time and cloud our ability to see clearly. So often, we become experts in each others’ weaknesses instead of experts in each others’ strengths. How quickly could we come up with a list of things that “annoy” us about our spouse vs. things we love and are thankful for?
  • Human nature tells us that our needs are the real ones and our perspective is the right one. Sometimes we have a hard time recognizing a need that our spouse has, simply because we don’t share that same need.

These are just a few of the road blocks we might run into over time, but no road block is permanent.

Just start removing them.

If you’re busy, distracted, and caught up in life – slow down. When your husband walks in the door, greet him with some Phileo love! If you’ve made it your mission to keep his feet on the ground, turn it around…you be his biggest fan and support.If you find yourself only focusing on his areas of weakness…stop and change the focus of your thinking. Remind yourself of the good that is within him and dwell on that.

Maybe you’re thinking, “But, you don’t know my husband.”

Jesus, himself, is our example of phileo love. He was kind and welcoming; His nature and character never changed based on how people around him were acting.

Jesus never grew bitter or hard hearted. He didn’t shut down, or give a look that could kill, or get all sassy and naggy…He simply continued to love with a tender affection. He genuinely liked people and He loved with joy and delight.

His heart remained soft – even when undeservedly dying on cross.

Sure, it would be easier to give this kind of love if our husbands were the picture of perfection 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. News flash – that is no ones reality! (It’s certainly not ours! Moss family motto – “not perfect but being perfected.”)

While we cannot control how our husbands are walking, we can control ourselves.

We are instructed to have this kind of love for our husbands – regardless of their actions or response.

It’s not always about liking what he does but liking who he is.

Love your husband well, friends. Love him with a love that lets him know he’s your hero and friend. Love him with a phileo love that lets him know you even like him…you like him a lot.

 

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My Issue with Valentine’s Day

“I really love my new MacBook Pro! I literally don’t know what I would do without it!”

Seriously!?! Let’s go back and think through what you just said. And to be clear, adding the words “really” and “literally” do not convey a deeper sense of your fondness for your computer. Rather, it reveals the shallow and superficial nature of the world in which many of us live.

We live in a comparison culture that over values greatness…in every way. Nothing is ever good unless its better than something else. We have traded intrinsic worth for a competitive, comparative system where we must not only be better than but must also prove it. This has led to the misuse and devaluing of words to the point that many of them no longer have any significant meaning.

In my mind, one of the most important and often misused words in the English language is “love.” “I love my house.I love my car. I love my job. I love ice cream and popcorn.” If your like me, trying to fight for words to still have meaning, statements like those make you cringe.

This is the time of year when our culture tries to show us what love is and teach us how to express it to those we care most about. On some level, I can appreciate this emphasis. However, as the world tries to show us what love is, we begin to clearly see the lack of true understanding of love.

The month leading up to February fourteenth seems to have been turned into a national monument dedicated to the destruction of the true meaning of the word “love.” I am certain that Saint Valentine is literally turning over in his actual grave at this exact moment.

All it takes is a casual stroll through your local Walmart to see exactly what I am talking about. From the chick flicks playing in electronics to the three full aisles of candy, the lack of understanding of “love” could not be more apparent.

I suppose words such as “like, fondness, or attraction”  do not express the depth of our feelings well enough.  And words like “lust, selfish enabling, and mutual codependency,” though more accurate reflections of our true feelings, wouldn’t fit on those tiny heart shaped candies.

The good news for us husbands is that we have more than our culture to teach us what love is and how to walk in love towards our wives.  There is a better way.  There is more to love than our culture shows. Usually, we open a dictionary when we want to know what a word means.  In this case, there’s a different book we need to open.

The Bible is not only the source of the true meaning of love, it is the source of true love itself.

Here we see it defined, explained and demonstrated.  Here we are taught not only what love is but also how to find it and are given the power to walk in it.

-Love is about identity: 1 John 4:8 tells is that “God is love.” Love is not just something God does or has, God is love.

-Love is active: “For God so love the world that He gave…” John 3:16 teaches us that there was action motivated out of God’s love for us.

-Love is more than an emotion or passing feeling: 1 Corinthians 13 provides an eloquent and clear definition of love.

Husbands, I would especially encourage you during this season not to allow culture to define your love for your wife. Ephesians 5:25 says “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.”

The Greek word translated ‘love’ in this verse is ‘agapao.’ This form of love is often referred to as unconditional love. Agapaō can be defined as a word that “expresses the ideal kind of love, that which is exercised by the will rather than emotion, not determined by the beauty or desirability of the object, but by the noble intention of the one who loves.”

The quality of love that husbands are directed to have towards their wives is not an emotion but is an action initiated by a voluntary choice. Unconditional love means fully aware of all the conditions, I make a choice to say that they do not matter relative to the value I place on the object of the love.

Husbands, we are directed to love our wives in this manner— all day, every day!

Obviously, men, we can not fully love our wives without first loving Jesus.

It is only in and through our relationship with Christ that we can learn what true love is and find the power to truly love.

The Grass Isn’t Always Greener

On an unusually warm January day, the girls spent the afternoon playing in the backyard. They came running inside and called for me to come see a special cloud they had spied in the sky. This was, of course, not an ordinary cloud. This was a cloud that they were just sure had to be a portal to another world. (Yes, we have read all the Chronicles of Narnia books, and yes, the girls have active imaginations.) Ellie quickly says, “Mom, can you just pop us over to the other side of the fence so we can get closer?”

“No, baby, you can’t go in that field. It doesn’t belong to us.”  This was, naturally, met with a wave of sad emotion, and through her sobs, “But if you don’t, we’re going to miss our chance to go through the portal!”

I, willing to help, gave a perfectly logical solution, “Baby, why don’t you go ahead and just pretend that you made it through the portal? You can pretend you are now on the other side and you can start exploring!” At this point, both daughters look up at me like I had just suggested they take a bath with their clothes on. With eyes rolling, “Mom, don’t be silly.”

Oh, I’m the silly one? You’re the ones who think if you cross this fence you will get close enough to the cloud to be able to get to another world by going through a portal in the sky?!

Then they asked, “Well, can we cross the fence and go play in the side field?” To which I replied, “Girls, why can’t you just play on the thirty acres that DO belong to us?”

Without missing a beat, Victoria responds, “You know, Mom…the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.”

Those two crazy girls could play absolutely anywhere on our farm. They have plenty of space to roam, but that afternoon all they wanted to do was cross the fence.

Ugh. Why is this so true?

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Why do we stand right there in the middle of all that is ours, yet look longingly at the next field over?

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