Archives For Kingdom of God

May 25, 1974 I married the most wonderful guy!!

May 25, 1974 I married the most wonderful guy!!

The following post came up in my Facebook newsfeed today, so I revamped it a little and have re-posted it.

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The day Don and I were married no one could have convinced us we could be any more in love than we were that day! However, after 41+ years of marriage we both know love can deepen or it can fade. We have experienced both, and we have chosen the path of deepening our love.

It didn’t happen overnight, and at times it took hard work!

One of those times, was six months into our marriage. It was a lonely and scary season, and it felt as if we were adrift at sea with no compass to guide us. Thankfully, at that time we were scheduled to take a group of college kids to a campus ministry retreat, where (unknown to us) the speaker’s topic for the weekend was “Relationships”. Not only did his presentation include humorous anecdotes regarding the difficulty of communication in marriage, but it also brought much-needed answers!

One resource mentioned by the speaker was a book titled “To Understand Each Other” by Paul Tournier. This concise book opened our eyes and our hearts to the amazing dynamics of communication. Tournier’s challenge was to be courageous enough to share our true selves with one another, and as a result come to a deeper understanding of the person God brought to us in marriage.

As we worked to apply the concepts in the book we began to move past our fears and share our deepest thoughts. The author was right —it definitely took courage to remove our self-protective shields and care more about understanding each other than being understood. It was a process that took time and caring. But it also brought incredible transformation! Our communication deepened, our acceptance of one another flowed more easily and our enjoyment of each other became a delight! We fell more deeply in love!

Today, as I look back at that season, here are a few helpful “take-aways” from what we went through:

  1.  Listen and apply the counsel from someone who has walked the path ahead of you.
  2. Ask this question of each other — “What do you hear me saying?” Their answer will let you know if they are still not understanding what you are saying. Try again to explain. And then ask the question again. Keep at it until understanding comes.
  3. Handle your spouses heart as carefully as you want yours handled.
  4. Work hard to understand your spouse, rather than working to be understood.

Winnie in Wonder

About mid-summer, Don and I took our almost-15-month-old granddaughter Winnie, and her Daddy (Drew), on a fun excursion to the Henry Doorly Zoo. Like her parents, Winnie demonstrated that she could make everything a fun-filled adventure. Her little “pointer” finger never stopped showing us whatever had grabbed her attention. We “oohed” and “aahed” over anything or anyone she noticed. It was as if we were viewing everything at the zoo through her eyes. And in so doing, we touched the wonder she had found.

While reading the Bible the following day, my attention was drawn to the wonder people expressed as they witnessed Jesus demonstrating incredible miracles. When He calmed the raging storm, it stated And the men were stunned with bewildered wonder and marveled...” When He told the paralytic to take up his mat and walk, it said, “When the crowds saw it (the paralyzed man healed), they were struck with fear and awe and they recognized God by bursting into praise and thankfulness.”

As I read those powerful words, I remembered Winnie’s priceless expressions throughout the previous day. The display of wonder in her eyes, the exclamation of “Ooh” or the sudden intake of her breath. With a fresh sense of wonder piercing my heart, I began to pray: 

Lord, I want to always marvel at Your goodness and at the way You touch our lives and the lives of those around us! I want to thrill at the awareness of You and the closeness of Your Presence in my every day life. I want to rejoice over Your goodness to mankind. I want to bow in honor to You for what You accomplished on the Cross. I want to dance and rejoice with delight at the reality of Your resurrection. And I want to burst into praise and thanksgiving for building your church in the earth!

Jesus, I want to always look at You and Your Kingdom the way Winnie looked with awe and wonder at each new facet of this new world she entered a few short months ago.

Just as her delight caused me to see life through fresh, new eyes, may my life express such great delight for You that it causes those around me to see You with fresh, new eyes.

And may we, altogether, express our wonder at the goodness of You!

Selah!

 

Don & Tyler

Barnabas means “son of encouragement”.

In the Bible we know a lot about the apostle Paul. But, there was a man named Barnabas who first came alongside Paul and encouraged him to move into the relationships and purposes God had for him. Barnabas made a difference in Paul’s life and in the connections he made.

I have been given the gift of my own personal “Barnabas” — my husband, Don. The other day, I heard a friend tell him, “You’re the most encouraging man I’ve ever known.” And it’s true! Throughout our lives, I have repeatedly heard people acknowledge to Don how his words of encouragement came exactly when they needed them, or because of his words of affirmation they took new steps of faith.

Don sees “the gold” in people and tells them what he sees. He notices their best traits and calls them out. He encourages them to step out and use the gifts they have and to become who God intends them to be. Often, he will return from a meeting with other men or pastor friends, and he will begin telling me about one of the men, and he will either begin or end by stating, “he’s a really nice man, I really like him.” He truly means it. He likes people and sees the good in them.

Over the years I’ve watched him bring loads of encouragement to our children. He tells them of his faith in them, his trust in them, how proud of them he is, and then declares over them their strengths, abilities and graces. I consider it a privilege to hear him speak into their lives! He’s done it from the moment they were born until this very day. And now he does it with our grandchildren! They too are the recipients of their own personal Barnabas.

I sometimes wonder how the kids and grandkids view this gift of encouragement, or how they feel when they hear his words of love and affirmation. But I need only watch as their faces light up, their shoulders lift, and the dark clouds part, to understand what a difference he makes by speaking life to them and placing great worth and value upon them.

Throughout our 41 years of marriage, I have tried to learn from Don, how to be an encourager; how to be someone’s Barnabas. Here are the specifics I have applied in order to help develop the gift of encouragement.

1.  FOCUS on one person. Whether Don’s with me, his children, grandchildren or in a group of people, he focuses on the person to whom he is talking.

2. LISTEN as they tell their story. Ask them about their life, and then listen carefully. Refrain from thinking about what you will say next.

3. Find the GOLD. Their strengths and abilities will emerge as they tell their story. Remember these and prepare to let them know what you’ve heard in their story.

4. Speak LIFE! Verbally affirm their strengths and abilities. Recount what they said in their story and use it to point out to them their strengths and abilities.

5. WATCH as your words of life help them become who they were meant to be!

Do you have a Barnabas in your life?

And whose Barnabas will you be?

 

 

 

 

Her One Last Tear

June 5, 2015 — 6 Comments

Yvette Yates

As her daughter’s realized she had probably taken her last breath, they bent near to listen more closely. Looking at their mother’s peaceful face, they noticed one tear resting on her cheek. Their mom was gone. Gone to be with “her Jesus.”

She always called Him, “My Jesus”.

My friend, Yvette, had a heart filled with love for Jesus, her husband, children, grandchildren, friends, family and church. She fell madly in love with Jesus, and her life was spent serving Him and His church. She was one of the most loyal women and one of the most faithful and diligent “pray-ers” I have ever met. Many people arriving at our church were greeted by her sweet spirit and endearing smile. Her loving ways made everyone feel welcomed and loved.

For many years she dealt with heart problems, but it seemed she always bounced back from them. When she went into the hospital this time, I assumed, as did everyone else, she would once again come back from the health problems she was facing.

Not this time.

She fought hard to win over her failing health. She wanted to stay and spend more time with her girls and their families. To pray more for those she always carried in her heart. She fought the good fight of faith. She pressed on to the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. And she won! Not the way we had prayed and hoped she would win. Her love for Jesus won!

I don’t believe the tear her girls discovered on her cheek was a tear of sadness or sorrow.

I believe, as her physical life was not quite over and she drew closer to heaven, her spiritual eyes opened and she caught her first sight of Jesus as He truly is. I imagine this long-awaited glimpse of “her Jesus” caused her eyes to fill with tears and suddenly, as her sorrows were swallowed up in a moment of revelation,

one of those tears slipped onto her cheek.

And as she grasped His hand to walk into eternity, I can easily hear Him say,

“Yvette, we have to leave it here, because past this veil there are no more tears.”

 

servant picture

I received a new bible recently, and while reading it I found myself dwelling on Abraham’s servant. This nameless man who was asked by Abraham to find a wife for his son, Isaac. To some, this story might seem unimportant, but to me, it revealed something profound and weighty.

As it begins Abraham is too old to take a 500 mile journey to his homeland, to find a wife for his son. It’s an urgent matter because the fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham is dependent upon Isaac getting married and having children.

God had told Abraham ” I will multiply your descendants like the stars of the heavens and like the sand on the seashore. And your Seed will possess the gates of His enemies. And in your Seed all the nations of the earth will be blessed.”

Abraham is adamant with his servant that Isaac not marry any of the women in the land where they presently reside. So this unnamed, yet loyal servant, takes an oath to find a wife for Isaac, and embarks upon the journey.

At his arrival in the city of Abraham’s relatives, he settles his caravan and prays to God about finding the right woman for Isaac. It is unclear whether or not he knows God for himself. He addresses God as “O Lord, God of my master Abraham”, yet he fully believes God will answer him. Twice the Bible records he “bowed low and worshiped the Lord.”

As he succeeds in finding Isaac’s wife, Rebekah, he again, acknowledges the God of his master by saying, “Praise the Lord, the God of my master Abraham. The Lord has shown unfailing love and faithfulness to my master, for he has led me straight to my master’s relatives.”

Rebekah agrees to come back with him and become Isaac’s wife and the promise of God passes on to Isaac and Rebekah to be fruitful and multiply, so the descendants of Abraham will become like the stars of the heavens and all the nations of the earth will be blessed.

But this servant, this man who stepped in and helped bring about this paramount aspect of God’s promise to Abraham, is never mentioned again. Nowhere is he mentioned or given credit for what he did on Abraham and Isaac’s behalf. Yet, had he not been exceedingly loyal and faithful, the promise given to Abraham could have ended at this point.

He had no notoriety, no fame, no platform, and was not mentioned by his name. The oath he took, the long journey, the success of his mission…none of it was about him. He did none of it for himself. Even his prayers were not about himself…they were for his master, his master’s son and for us — the descendants of Abraham. He acted from a heart of great servanthood.

This unknown servant reminds me of the greatest servant who would journey from heaven to earth, to embrace and fulfill one mission…the saving of mankind.

“I did not come to be served, but to serve…”   Jesus

 

 

Not Many Fathers

November 19, 2013 — 6 Comments

Dave Richards & Scott Squires

This picture speaks

Of a belief

Made reality.

Two men…generations apart

The older embracing the younger

Pointing the way

“Under his wings you, young man, will find refuge.”

A loving spiritual father

Encouraging, restoring, inspiring

Reassuring, strengthening

Giving identity.

Teacher, apostle

Mentor.

The younger

a spiritual son

Listening, learning

Attentive, receiving

Growing into the man God intended

Fulfilling the call of God

Stretching his wings

Learning to soar.

In the future

His own arm will embrace

Someone younger

Point him to the future

And pass down

The lessons learned

Continuing the call

of spiritual fatherhood.

Selah