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Being born a female…

When I was a young, abused girl, I can remember questioning God (I did not know for sure that He existed, but I hoped that He did) as to why I wasn’t born a male. I clearly recall thinking that the abuse that I was suffering at the hands of men who should have loved and cherished my femininity, would not have occurred if I was a male.

For many of my confused young teenage years, I was mad about being a female, especially an abused one. God heard my cries and saw my suffering, even though I did not know it way back then. But, in my heart, I had no desire to try to be a male on my own whim; I guess that I was questioning God about my abuse deep down inside. I wondered why He allowed it.

I probably pondered it for many years; it’s a gray area these days, but revealing my heart and my journey can help someone. After all, at the chronological age of 64 at this writing, I’ve been privileged to learn a thing or two. Not that I think that wisdom comes with age because true wisdom comes from God at any age, but God has certainly given me more years to “learn the lessons of life”.

One day, many years ago, after a personal journey (later, I’ll write about it), I accepted Jesus as my Savior – knowing that I had, at the very least, broken several of His Ten Commandments. Understanding that if I broke even one, I was guilty of them all, it frightened me to spend another day without Jesus’ saving grace. All that I believed on that wonderful day in May 1981 at the young age of 28 years was that Jesus is the Son of God who came to this earth to take away a penalty that I deserved for being a sinner. I was changed forever – literally.

So, how was I changed? What happened inside of me and around me to change my destiny? My blog is about this incredible journey, full of wild and crazy adventures with Jesus and with other people in my life. It is my privilege and duty to share with you.

By my 40th wedding anniversary, I learned about sacrificial love.

Always on our anniversary, we remember our wedding day.  And we celebrate another year of our love together.  I love to celebrate with my husband, Skip, and simply enjoy him.  This day marks our 40th celebration as husband and wife.  We lavish each other with gifts of kindness, attention, sweetness and well, love.  My heart is full of him all the time, but it simply bubbles over on such an occasion as this.  Sometimes, however, my heart has not always bubbled over for him because I have misjudged his motives and mine.  These were times when I had not yet learned to “die” to my own selfishness.

My desire is for my earthly husband.  God gives wives that desire.  But another desire exists…for my heavenly Husband.  God says that He is the Only One who knows the motives of our heart.  He is the Only One who will transform those motives to line up with His perfect motives.  Sometimes, my motives are not pure toward my husband, whether it be my husband of 40 years or my eternal Husband.  And, over the years, others have judged my husband with incorrect motives and have spoken unkind things about him.  But God says that He is the Only One who knows the motives of our heart.  He is the Only One who will transform those motives to line up with His.  God loves to show us about loving with His love – empty of our selfish desires; especially toward the ones that we love the deepest and most intimately.

My husband is a quiet, humble man of God who loves me and I believe that he would die for me.  He loves God and is saddened by the lies spoken against Him. He loves his country and is saddened by those who try to destroy it.  He loves his family and is saddened by anyone who wants to destroy them.  He loves God’s creation – all of it and it pains him to see destruction of God’s beauty.

God blessed us with four wonderful children who are now having children of their own.  Throughout the years as we raised our children, my husband had to demonstrate tough love on rebellion – at least to the extent that he understood how to be tough.  Sometimes our beloved children judged his toughness incorrectly and that hurt.  But, don’t we do the same thing with God?  We judge Him incorrectly because we don’t know His heart.  That saddens God.

In the past several years, I been seeking God’s heart as I desire to know Him and fall more deeply in love with Him.  I have been given the time to examine many areas of my life and my character as the Holy Spirit leads me.  I thought about my beloved husband of 40 years.  The trials have made us stronger.  Jesus is the Center of our marriage today.  But it wasn’t always that way.

Back Where You Belong by Jack Vittriano

Sometimes, we misjudged each other’s hearts.  We blamed each other for our failures.  But, because of grace and mercy, we began to ask God to examine our hearts, and they were not empty words.   Not only did we want to know each other’s hearts…I mean, really know, but we wanted to know our own hearts.  And we wanted to know our spiritual Husband’s heart…I mean, really know it.  As I discovered, neither husband is a hard taskmaster…at least not toward His beloved family.  And each  husband has the responsibility of helping his wife be all that she was created to be.

When we are born into the family of God, He looks at us in a new way.  God is always for us and He always loves us.  It’s just like when my husband and I were married, we looked at each other in a new way.  Sure, we understood our passionate love for each other at first but as we celebrated another and yet another anniversary, our love grew to include a deep companionship and deeper, more sacrificial love.

We are for each other and we love each other – as completely as we can understand.   Jesus loves us so much that He died so that “we” could be one with Him and enter into a sacred covenant with Him.  In the same way, my husband and I were joined together in a sacred covenant ordained by  God.  In that covenant, we have learned that we are to stop judging each other and love each other the same way that Christ loves us.  That’s supernatural – for without God’s hand in our marriage and in our lives, we would have perished.  We continue to lay down our own lives and die to our selfish desires – little by little – the same way that we lay down our lives for our spiritual Husband – little by little – until we are so entwined with Him that His will becomes ours and we become the fullness of each other in the sacred covenant.

It saddens me that so few couples are enjoying what we have been blessed to have.  People misjudge others.  People misjudge God.  People don’t forgive themselves or else blame God for stuff that the devil has done to them.  Immaturity – blindness – selfishness – sin.  All the attributes of the fallen sin nature of humanity.  Why do human beings reject the love of God towards them?  God says because the devil has blinded them.  Is God a hard taskmaster?  Some think so.  I did, for many years.  But, God already exhibited His tough love toward us – through His Son, Jesus, Whom He sacrificed for us.  Can love get any tougher than that?

As I consider my life and this occasion, my heart grieves for the deception of the people in the world who blame and misjudge our beloved Heavenly Father and Husband.

Father, use me to show others how wonderful You are.  Bring Your Bride’s heart into alignment with Your heart that we may be one.  Thank you for giving my husband and I forty years together to learn about love and You.

Letters from home…

Many years ago, during my basic training days in the United States Air Force, I looked forward to mail call just like every new recruit.  When I left for basic training, my husband, Skip, was my boyfriend.  He faithfully wrote to me every day.  Mail call always meant a letter from home.  I anticipated a letter from him and could hardly wait to open it when I got back to my room.  I clung to every word that he wrote, reading and re-reading each letter.  I cherished them and pondered them in my heart and thought about  him all day long.  What do you imagine the outcome would have been if I had thrown away all of those letters?  Or what if I would have simply tied them with a pretty ribbon and stacked them neatly in my drawer?  What a silly thought, you say, and I agree.

About half-way through “basic” (that’s military lingo), we were permitted to make a phone call (pre-cell phone days).  I greatly anticipated hearing Skip’s voice on the phone.  While talking to him, he asked me to marry him!  I accepted his proposal and a few days later, my engagement ring arrived during mail call.  Some of the other young women in the barracks shared in my excitement and said that I was so “lucky” to have such a loving, romantic fiance.  But some warned me about trusting him and that he may not mean what he said and “be careful that I don’t get hurt”.

Which voices did I choose to believe?  Of course, I believed the voice of my future husband and no one could persuade me otherwise.  Now, I began receiving two or three letters a day.  I was on his mind 24-7!  I was (and still am) his beloved.  I cannot even explain in words how my heart felt the day that I stepped off the plane once I finished “basic” and saw my husband face-to-face as he wrapped his loving arms around me.

Fast forward 40 years.  Last night, our pastor spoke about our hearts toward God and His heart toward us as He revealed deeper revelation from His Letter.  As I walked out of worship service with my husband, the Lord instilled a deeper love in my heart for Him and His letter to us: the Bible – His Letter from Home to every one of His beloved.

We are engaged to Christ for eternity.  I was pondering what had just been spoken to us through God’s Love Letter as God used His servant to impart the words to those who wanted to hear.  I considered the similarities and the differences between my earthly husband and my Heavenly Husband.  Why would I believe my imperfect earthly husband’s words and not believe my perfect Heavenly Husband’s words?  Should I put any less “weight” on the Love Letter from God than I did on those love letters from Skip?

God lovingly reminded me of my anticipation of Skip’s letters, of the promise of marriage and of the fact that I believed and clung to every word that my earthly husband spoke to me through his letters and through that one phone call.  Did I doubt anything that my future husband said to me?  Did I doubt his love for me?  Of course not!  Then, why is it that I sometimes doubt any word that God has written to me?  Why do I sometimes believe the voices of those who want me to doubt my future Husband’s love and plan for me?

Last night, I determined in my heart to read and re-read the Love Letter from Home with the same committed heart that I had as a young bride-to-be over 40 years ago.  My anticipation to hurry to my room and read His words to me has heightened.

Fellow “basic trainers”, our Husband-to-be is returning for His Bride one day soon.  Don’t be deceived by the voices of the enemy.  Read and re-read the Love Letter and cling to every Word that is written.  If your Beloved wakes you up at 3 a.m., get up and go spend a some time with Him.  He wants to talk to you.  We can trust Him to fulfill every Word that He wrote.  We can rest assured that God’s promises are true, that He is not a liar and this His thoughts toward us are good.  God loves and adores His betrothed and we are on His mind 24-7  – and even greater than that  – we are on His mind for eternity.  Just like I received my engagement ring – the promise of future marriage from my earthly husband, God sent His Holy Spirit to us until we see our Beloved.  Precious Bride of Christ, arise, for the world will soon know of God’s love for you as we draw near to the time when “basic” is over and we will see Him face-to-face.

You ain’t give up squat.

Does God take things away?  Job 1:21 says that the “…Lord gave and the Lord has taken away, blessed be the name of the Lord”.  In my human reasoning, (not the fruitful way to reason with God) I had trouble relating to a God who takes away.  From my personal experiences, I had much taken from me and I did not equate someone who takes away as someone who loves me.  See what I mean?  Consequently, I had a battle in the background of my mind about the love of God toward me if He takes things away.

Once again, God spoke through my pastor, Asa Dockery, and shed new light on a question that I pondered quietly for a few years.   Sometime in February – okay – I forgot to journal the date – but I wrote the expression because it caught my attention.  Pastor was quite expressive when he explained what our Lord said.  “Jesus said, “You ain’t give up squat.  Look at what I’m going to give you when you let it go.”  I love our pastor’s southern drawl and speaking style.  He pulls no punches.  Anyway, I considered what he said and the Holy Spirit spoke to my heart.

He brought to mind the times when all four of our children were infants and toddlers.  We had to go through a stage when each one had to give up their pacifier.  Our daughter had a favorite bear and one son had a favorite blanket as well as pacifiers.  Coaxing each one of them to give up their “security” took some doing.  I’m sure many can relate to what I am saying.  As their parents, we knew it would be very silly for them as young adults, still getting comfort from a pacifier.  Then God said to me, “well, you are still trying to get comfort from “this” and I have something better for you if you will give up your pacifier, Georgia.”

I cried, just like each one of our children did.  But not because I did not want to let my pacifier go, but because I realized that I had believed a lie about God’s character.  He never takes anything away.  We really don’t have to give up “squat”.  Just like we coaxed our young children gently into laying down their infant pacifiers so that they could pick up something better, God only asks us to do the same.  I think that many of His children are still carrying around their pacifiers.  By laying down the thing that was a temporary fix, we can pick up what God has for us.

Do you see it?  So, in actuality, God never asks us to give up anything – only to lay down something in order to pick up the next thing that He has waiting for us.  If you are holding on to something and are afraid to let it go, ask your Father to help you grow up.  Honestly, He has something better that brings much more comfort than an old pacifier.

God used a pig and some fish to persuade us.

I grew up with some knowledge about God and Jesus and Heaven.  I have a vague memory of attending a Christian class in the Lutheran Church across the street from my high school  (yes, Bible classes were taught in public high schools back then.)  My family knew about God, but we had no relationship with God.  My young teenage years were filled with abuse and rejection.  Details are not necessary, but I remember sitting on my bed under my window one night, staring at the stars, weeping with a deep ache in my heart.  I asked God if He really existed to deliver me from my situation.  I did not think about Him much anymore, and little did I know that I was on His mind.

I was on His mind...

I graduated from high school and left home quickly and  met my future husband, Skip.  He knew even less about God, but it didn’t matter to me.  He was wild and adventurous and I loved him as  much as my teenage heart could love.  We were two wounded young people, hoping that the love that we so deeply desired would be fulfilled in each other.

Fast forward several years to 1976.  We had been married for four years.  We were clueless about God and childless.  We did not get the clueless part yet, but the childless part was evident.  As clearly as if it were yesterday, I recall sitting on my little back porch in our Maryland apartment and weeping again with the same aching  in my heart that I had as a young teenager.  I asked God again if He existed and if He did, would He give us a child.  We had exhausted all of our means and I desperately wanted a child to love.  Little did I know that I was pregnant at that very moment.

Our firstborn son  arrived in March 1977.   Although I was filled with excitement, I had continuous lurking thoughts about death, either his or ours.  If he died, how could I live with the pain?  What would happen to him if he died?  Worse, if we died, who would take care of him?  Or if my husband died, who would take care of us?  Or if I died, how would my husband take care of him?  What if God would take him away from us as a punishment for our sins.  Once again, I asked God if He existed.  I called the church where we were married and asked them what would happen to Mike if he died.  I don’t recall the details that followed, but I remember that we took Mike and had him “sprinkled” and dedicated to the Lord.  We had no idea what that meant except that the preacher assured us that if he died, he would go to Heaven.  We felt better, but forgot about God again until a few years later.

God heard my cries

We had bought our first home and I was preparing for Easter.  I love to cook and entertain, so every occasion to do so was fun for me, especially in my new home.  We celebrated Easter with an Easter egg hunt and a ham dinner.  I had a Bible, which was a “sacred ornament” in our home and it laid on the coffee table.  I kept it dusted and wouldn’t allow anyone to put anything on top of it.  Sometimes, I’d pick it up and read it, but only on special occasions, so this was one of those times.  I had no idea where to read, so I would just open to a passage.  On this day, I opened the Bible to this passage:

Leviticus 11:7-8

New International Version (NIV)

7 And the pig, though it has a divided hoof, does not chew the cud; it is unclean for you.8 You must not eat their meat or touch their carcasses; they are unclean for you.
I quickly closed the Bible and started thinking about what I just read…I must  not eat pig.  I was going to have a ham for Easter in a few days.  I began to wonder if I ate the pig if God would hold me accountable and then something awful would happen to me.  Fear and confusion began to rise in me again.  I talked to Skip about it and he said that he did  not understand but suggested that I call Judy.  She was one of our new neighbors who had talked about her church and invited us a few times, but we had not yet accepted her invitation.  She had a daughter and Mike and her were playmates.  So I called Judy and explained my dilemma.  She giggled and told me not to worry.  Then she asked me if I would like a visit from her pastor.  I said that I would like that.
I’m not 100% sure, but I think that it was the very next day when Pastor Sam came to talk to Skip and I.  The quick response from a stranger immediately spoke to my heart.  He did not even know us and he traveled 45 minutes to sit in our home and talk to us about our pig situation.  He could have just called on the phone or sent a brochure, right?
He lovingly explained that the restriction that I had read was applicable to the Jewish people way back then.  It was okay for us to eat our ham for dinner.  God would not punish us.  Phew, were we relieved.  We enjoyed dinner, but this time, someone pursued us with the love of God.  Pastor Sam came back to our house several times and shared the glorious good news of Jesus Christ and began to teach us about God.  We began attending Church.  Then, my heart was ready and in May 1979, one week prior to our 5th wedding anniversary, I went to Church, accepted Jesus Christ as my personal Savior and was immersed in Christian baptism.  I’ll never forget the moment that I was saved and I’ll never forget standing up in front of the Church confessing, “I believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God and that He died for my sins…”  Confession with the mouth is an important to element of salvation.  I’ll always remember how I felt: loved, forgiven and pure before God.  But, Skip did not come forward with me that day.  He was still unsure that this was the real deal.
God's Word will remain forever
We had made new friends in church.  One young couple was especially zealous for God and took us under their wings; Kenny and Barb.  We had shared several meals with them at their home, as they fed us physically and spiritually.  Their love for God was contagious.  What precious memories we have of our beginning days as new believers.  Kenny and Skip decided to go fishing.  Kenny was persistent with Skip concerning his salvation.  While fishing, they were talking about God sitting in the boat because they weren’t catching any fish.  But, then neither was anyone else on the river.  So Skip, being the skeptic that he was, decided to put God to the test.  Silently, he asked God, “If you are for real and this is real, then  let us catch fish”.

It's not Skip and Kenny, but you get the idea.

God knows what stirs each person’s heart toward Him.  He answered Skip’s prayer and Kenny and Skip began to catch fish and catch fish and catch fish.  They filled their cooler.  And just so that Skip could not mistake his “luck” with God’s answer to his request, no one around them was catching any fish!  Skip knew God had answered his prayer.  The next Sunday, on our 5th wedding anniversary (by the way, five is the number of grace), Skip came forward and accepted Jesus Christ as his personal Savior and was immersed in Christian baptism.
That’s how God pursued and caught us.  Now we were both born into the family of God and life took on new meaning.  The incredible fellowship and love shown to us by the family of God in that Church nurtured us.  God even sent another Earl (Skip’s real name) and Georgia (what are the odds?) with whom we developed an eternal friendship.  We will be eternally grateful for Pastor Sam (who has since gone home to his reward) and our new church family.  Little did we know how much we would need them in the years to follow.