wedding

Spreading the Rose Petals

wedding

As most of you already know, Saturday was Wedding Day around here. Our oldest daughter was married on Saturday and is now happily honeymooning with her groom in the Caribbean.

Saturday dawned bright and clear. It all felt a little surreal, quite honestly. After a flurry of activity and many camera clicks, we were finally ready for the five o’clock ceremony.

I walked down the aisle with the best man, aware that all eyes were on me for that brief moment. I breathed a sigh of relief as I sat in my appointed seat and eyes were moved elsewhere.

I then watched my daughters walk down as maids of honor, followed by the bridesmaids and groomsmen.

And then came the children.

If you know my daughter, you know that she loves children. First came two beautiful nieces, their hands tightly holding the strings that were attached to the big, round balloons floating above their heads. And then came a handsome and very serious nephew, pulling a wagon which was supposed to hold two baby nieces. However, we heard a howl in the back and so only one adorable and wide-eyed baby girl was in that wagon.

And then came the official flower girl and ring-bearer. The ring-bearer was another nephew and the bride has been the flower girl’s nanny since she was born. This charming couple was tightly holding hands. Meanwhile, the basket holding the white rose petals stayed filled to the brim. They carefully walked down the aisle. I thought she forgot about the rose petals, but when they got to the front, they dropped hands to go different directions and that is when she put her small hand into that basket and pulled out a handful of petals. And then another. And another. She just kept pulling out those petals and spreading them over the ground where the bride and groom would soon be standing.

I finally told her that it was probably enough and she dutifully moved to her position beside the maid of honor.

I then had the privilege of standing and turning, as all eyes turned towards the stunning bride. It was an overwhelming moment and the next hour flew by, as we listened to two of our favorite pastors in all the world present very helpful challenges not only to the couple, but to us, the witnesses.

It was a beautiful ceremony and reception and I am proud of all the thought and effort that my daughter put into making the evening a wonderful experience for all who attended. It was her hope– and ours– that it would be God-honoring, first and foremost, and also enjoyable. I hope that we accomplished that.

I heard later that the flower girl told her mother, very logically, that it wasn’t possible to drop the petals before she let go of the ring-bearer’s hand. Ah, the wisdom of children.

As I was thinking about her words this morning, I had to smile. You know, she may be on to something there.

How often do we try to hold on to our own dreams and desires and please God, too? It’s like we want the best of both worlds. And, yet, it is absolutely impossible. We cannot totally experience the all-surpassing peace and joy that God promises us until we let go of our own desires. Of course, the most awesome thing of all is that when we do this, God changes us and fills our hearts with desires that please Him.

During the ceremony, one of the pastors talked about how God’s purpose for marriage can only be accomplished if we die to ourselves. He then added that living for Christ can really only be done well if we die to ourselves.

Yes, that is exactly what I saw in the flower girl’s actions. You can’t really do what you have to do until your hands are free.

You have to love the simple lessons we can learn from children.

Now, I’d better get going. I have a ton of wedding clean-up to do :)

 

How do we keep love from fading?

We met the man and his family while they were going through a personal tragedy. His wife had just had a miscarriage in the last couple of days and it was a rough time. They already had a couple of young children and seemed like a very nice Christian family with whom we could enjoy a friendship. Alas, circumstances often dictate who you truly get to know in life and so we were never able to develop a relationship with them.

Fast forward a couple of years.

Eric is giving an estimate to a lady who has a lot of time to talk. She tells him about the couple across the street who are going through a nasty divorce. Words like prostitution and pornography come up.  Eric tries to be polite but he is really there to give an estimate. But the more she talks, the more he starts to suspect that he may know who this couple is.

When Eric arrived home we did a little investigating. Oh, how sad. The couple getting the nasty divorce is the couple we met a few years earlier. Our hearts ached for them. What in the world had happened?

This story is not a strange one to any of us. All too frequently, a husband or wife is trapped in sexual sin, marriages break up, and life changes drastically for the entire family.

But why? How does this happen?

I do not even begin to presume I have the answer to this. But I can think of a few ways to protect ourselves from being “that” couple. Of course, you are only one half of the equation, so that is what makes it tricky, isn’t it?? But, for what it’s worth, here are a few suggestions–

1.  Get to know God by faithfully reading His Word, praying, and listening to godly {doctrinally-sound} men expound His word via church and podcast. How can we even know what pleases God if we don’t know His Word? Conviction can be conveniently bypassed if we aren’t in tune with God.

2.  Talk, talk, and talk some more with your spouse. No secrets.  Keep communicating even when it is really hard. And, trust me, it is really hard sometimes.

3.  Forgive and move on. I know it sounds so basic, but it is so critical. Forgiveness holds the key to many of our relationships, quite honestly.

4.  Protect your spouse. Don’t downgrade your spouse to your co-workers or on the sidelines of the soccer field. Sure he may be a jerk or she may be lazy, but that doesn’t give us the right to talk negatively about them. If you are really struggling, pick one or two godly counselors or friends who can encourage you to make biblical choices and keep your mouth shut around everyone else.

5.  Be the same person at home as you are at church.  Who are we really?  You have heard it said that true character is who you are when no one is around. There is a lot of truth in that.  Do you make the choice to do what’s right even when no one is looking?  We need to be same person no matter where we are. By the way, this is key in keeping your children’s hearts, as well. No one respects a hypocrite.

6.  Don’t be too proud to ask for help. Sometimes the problems are so big, you know that your marriage will not survive without some help. Be very careful to choose a godly counselor. I heard a story many years ago of a couple who went for Christian marriage counseling and a few sessions in they were told they should get a divorce. Come again?  That is not Christian marriage counseling.  Just because someone says they are a Christian counselor doesn’t mean they are. Get references and mission statements before entrusting your entire life in their hands.

7.  And, last but not least, have fun together!  Nothing is better for Eric and I than doing something fun and outside routine together. It is a great reminder of why we fell in love in the first place.  I know how tough it is to make time for this. Our schedules are so busy with soccer games and piano lessons and homework and church commitments and work functions and…the list could go on and on. However, it is critical that we make this a priority. It helps us stay connected as married couples.

These are seven tips, but I am not so naive to think that it is that simple. I know that so many struggles and problems that arise in marriages stem back to childhood issues never resolved or affairs never discussed. There are many cases of abuse and pride and addictions. Christian marriages are facing an explosion of darts from the enemy. However, I do believe that if we could put these seven tips in place in our own marriages, we’d have a new beginning on a great marriage! And we know, without a shadow of a doubt, that it is God’s will for us to love each other and stay married ’til death do us part.

As much as it is up to us personally, let’s keep our marriages strong and healthy.

 

This is linked up here :)

A Wedding Story

The following is a true story. I heard it firsthand from a friend who was involved in this wedding.  I do not know the bride, the groom, or any of their family or friends. I want to tell you this story because I think we Christians are totally unaware of the damage being done to the cause of Christ by our worldly weddings. Please note that, while I am sticking to the main points of the actual story, I have added a few extra details to make it read more like a story.

Once upon a time two Christian young people got engaged. They had a wonderful time planning their wedding and reception. They wanted to have a Christian wedding but they were also determined to include an open bar and dancing at their wedding. It was a celebration and they deserved to celebrate! Some frowned at their decision, but most kept their mouths shut. They didn’t want to rain on anyone’s parade. And, after all, what could a little drinking and dancing hurt?  Few people want to be labeled fuddy-duddy and closed-minded.

And so the beautiful day arrived.  The wedding took place in a little church and the ceremony was centered on the Bible’s words regarding love and marriage. Afterwards, the group moved to the reception hall, where the typical drinking, dancing, and partying took place. This led to the inevitable tipsiness and garish jokes while they all danced unreservedly to the ungodly music playing in the background.

As this all went on, one family member – an unbeliever – sat there, stunned.  How was this any different than how he would act?  What difference did Christ even make? His family had been trying to reach him with the message of the gospel for years. But all of their hard work was ruined in the course of a few, short, worldly hours, where they showed themselves to be just like him.

Before he left that day, he shared his disillusionment and disappointment with a family member.  He was disgusted and no longer gave any seriousness to the gospel message.  If this is what Christianity was, it wasn’t any different than what he had.  He loved people.  He gave money to good causes. He was kind to others. And he liked to party.  The only difference he saw Christianity making in the life of his family was to waste a few hours each week in church.  No, thank you.  And, with that, he left.

Did he ever change his mind about Christianity?  I have no idea.  But there is no question that great damage was done that day to the witness of that family for the cause of Christ.

How many other times has this happened?  Where unsaved family members sit there and wonder what in the world is the difference?  I think we would be very wise to consider the serious spiritual ramifications of including the world’s partying traditions before making them a part of our very special celebrations.

 

I Corinthians 10:31 Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

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