Monday, July 31, 2006

Of Sharks and Men

Don Reed was a professional diver who fed tank sharks for a living. He had a healthy respect for the creatures, but still developed a special bond with one of his sevengill sharks. There were many times when he felt that just perhaps the shark was bonding to him as well – until the day he felt her powerful jaws clamp down on him!

You see, Don made a dangerous mistake: he allowed his emotions to get in the way of what he knew to be true. He knew all along that she was a shark, and that he could at any moment become shark food. But he wanted to believe that she was different than she really was. Thankfully, he survived the incident with relatively few wounds, but the words of a friend left a greater impression on him than the sharp teeth: “If you truly love an animal, you must love it for what it is, not for what you want it to be.” It was then that he realized his mistake, but he also began to appreciate her for what she really was – a slim, graceful water creature who would always be a shark.

Friends, when I read this story, it just about knocked me over! Here is one lost man telling another lost man something that many Christians never even think about, let alone understand.

I have a wonderful husband who loves me desperately and takes good care of me, but there are many times when I let my expectations of him get in the way of his sweetness. I cannot expect him to act in a given situation the way I would act. He is simply not me! (And that’s a real good thing, by the way. Could you imagine being married to yourself? J) To expect him to watch the children the way I do, or clean the way I do, or do anything the way I do would be completely senseless, and the sooner I figure that out, the better.

I must love him for what he is.

This requires a good, hard look at the facts, which we often try to sugar-coat. We want things to go a certain way, and then get upset when they don’t go that way! It also requires that we understand that our way may not always be the best way. Now, I’m not talking about living a godly life – that’s living God’s way, not our way, and His way is ALWAYS the best way – but I am talking about the day-to-day tasks that do not have a right and a wrong way to do them, like washing dishes, or scrubbing the table.

Notice that I am applying this to the upline of our authority – our husbands – not to the downline of our children. If you are trying to train a child to set a table, and you want it done a certain way, then by all means, require that it be done the way you want it done. But don’t expect to train your husband! If he wants to set the table backwards, just be glad he is setting the table at all!

Love him for what he is. If he is a man who barks orders and then whirls around and expects you and the children to follow, then love him for his command man personality (and fall in line quick! J) If your husband is very slow to make decisions, then love him for the fact that he is very careful before choosing one way over another. If he has a million idealistic ideas, then love him for his desire to change the world. Realize that if even one of them gets accomplished in his lifetime, that will be of greater impact than the vast majority of men accomplish.

Love him for what he is, not for what you want him to be.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Rising Above the Roller Coaster

This month has been an incredible whirlwind emotional rollercoaster for my family and I – but especially for me.

It was the first day of this month that we gave our daughter away in marriage. And I mean, it was a giving away – she is now living in upper Michigan, and we are traveling on the road – we will not see her during the week like many people see their married children. We will not get to be with her and her new husband for dinner every once in awhile. We do not get to see the look of love pass between the two of them as they sit in the church service. She has been given away, and we no longer have her.

It has been truly difficult for me, and I have been unable to really write about it until now.

But I quickly remind myself that this is God’s plan. The man she married is a wonderful, godly, loving, hard-working young man, and a great preacher. She married in the Will of God, and I need to be thankful for the direction He has led us. I need to put my emotions aside, wipe my selfish tears, and thank God for His working to establish another godly home.

I am learning to rise above the roller coaster.

I despise emotional roller coasters. I hate the great swings of loneliness, the dips of depression, and the downs of irritation. And yet I find myself bound to this roller coaster, being in the flesh. My hormones are especially the culprits – or, at least I like to blame them! Being bound to the flesh means riding the roller coaster, unless I can find a way to release myself from the bonds of this world and float above the dipping, churning ride.

But I find myself unable to rise above this world on my own – I need God. God is strong enough to release me by His promises, to take care of me, and of my family, and of my daughter who is gone. He is strong enough to help me, encourage me, and strengthen me through these times. His Will is wonderful enough to walk even in the dark. He is enough - for me. Through Him, I can float above this crazy roller coaster of life.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006


Yesterday I was talking to a dear friend of mine, and we were discussing our favorite subject: child training. We were talking about the fine balance between being stern and being friends with your children, and she mentioned that, in her family, the two never seemed to combine at all, and at one time her brother went out the window and ran away. To this day, he blames rules for why he left home.

Now, I know nothing of this young man’s parents, or his family, so I cannot say one thing about them. But it got me thinking: was it really rules that was the problem?

Everyone has standards. My standard for a sandwich is that it must have mayonnaise, and it cannot have mustard. Tomatoes are out, and cucumbers are in. And, it ought to have whole-wheat bread rather than dried white glue. Though my standards for a sandwich are not the same as someone elses, I still have standards.

In our lives, we have standards. The only difference is, that some people have much lower standards than others.

Since we have been on the road these past few weeks, we have been staying at church missions apartments, homes, motels, and missions houses. While staying in a home for a few weeks, I noticed the very high standards of cleanliness the host family has. They diligently washed every dish as it was dirtied, kept the washer and dryer going, and even folded and put the laundry away when it was clean! Though I didn’t do the white glove test, the corners of their rooms were visually clean, and the home had very little clutter. It was quite a refreshment to be there.

My pastor tells of the time when he and his wife and children were invited to stay in the home of a widower. “It ain’t much,” he said, “but I’d love to have y’all.” They should have clued them in, but they couldn’t have been prepared for what happened when they got to the man’s home. The coffeepot was a disgusting black, clutter was everywhere, and when you walked, it crunched! Later, they told us that when they went to go to bed, they had to moved a mound of laundry off the bed (clean laundry? Who knows?), and the roaches scattered!

This poor man obviously had a standard for cleanliness, but it certainly wasn’t up to my pastor’s standards!

In our home, we have rules. These rules are not the same as someone else’s, but they are rules just the same. My assertation is that it is not the rules that are the problem – everybody has rules, just rules of varying degrees. What happened, then? Why do people go out windows and run away? I believe it is the lack of a solid, loving relationship. Rules without a relationship always breeds rebellion.

It is vitally important that we develop close relationships to our children. We need to love them deeply, so much so that they truly know we love them! Never let down the standard, and never set aside a good rule that has stood your family for years, but increase the expressions of love to your children. They will listen to what you have to say if they know that you love them and you are looking for what is best for them.