Saturday, November 22, 2008

Love Dare - Day 27: Love Encourages

So, the last few (gut wrenchingly difficult) days have been all about looking inward. Seeing the things in our selves that are less than perfect and trying to FIX THEM! Today, I am proud to say, is ..... yeah, more of the same ... sorry!

However, it is not quite as bad as I just made it sound.

"Guard my soul and deliver me; do not let me be ashamed, for I take refuge in you."- Psalm 25: 20

Many people go into marriage with expectations. The problem with that is, most of those expectations are too high for ANYONE to reach. The perfect boyfriend becomes a little less wonderful when you realize that he has trouble hitting the hamper with his socks, the sink with his toothpastey spittle (gotta admit, that just made me giggle), the dishwasher with his dirty cup, or the top of the toilet with the LID! On the other hand, that sweet girl you put so high on that pedestal wile you were dating slipped off a little when you realized that she does not fold your socks the right way, doesn't vacuum NEARLY enough, cannot cook like your mama and doesn't really look like THAT all the time! These discoveries were inevitable, because our humanity is irrefutable. We cannot change it and we cannot shake it ... and neither can our spouses.

So, what do we do with this new found knowledge? Do we constantly throw it into our spouse's face that they are not perfect? Do we nag and nag and, um, nag them to change their ways? Or, do we allow them their humanity and not make them feel less because of it?

Because, ya know, that is what we are SUPPOSED to do!

Marriage is a unique relationship, created by God Himself, to unite two people in love and respect. We are meant to be our spouse's biggest cheerleader, strongest supporter and best friend. Home is meant to be the safest place for our loves to be. They should not have to walk around on eggshells, afraid to make a move for fear of being called out - again - for their imperfections! We are called to be the one person that our spouse can be the most at ease with. The most themselves with. Are you that person?

Because, don't WE want that too? Don't we want a safe haven to retreat to, knowing that we can be ourselves! And, knowing that that is something that we need, should we not want to give that to the one that we love?

There is an illustration in the Bible of this. Jesus, himself, told a story about the person who pointed out the speck in his brother's eye while failing to notice the log in his own (Matthew 7). How can we ask them to remove the speck and not expect them to want us to lose the log? Truth is, it goes both ways.

But, the other truth is, we can only control ourselves. We cannot control our spouse. Is that a revelation to you? I know that, at one time, it was for me. We cannot force our spouse to be or do anything at all. We can, however, accept them as they are and encourage them. And that is where change begins.

Let's face it, someone constantly on our case, nagging us about every little thing, only makes us dig in our heels and fight back. However, when someone who always sees the best in us, encourages us and LOVES US UNCONDITIONALLY, makes a loving suggestion for our own good, we just might listen.

The thing to remember is this - this dare is NOT about finding a way to change your spouse. It is about finding, in yourself, a way to accept them they way that they are! About loving them no matter what. And, most importantly, learning to encourage them in everything that they are, do and will ever be.


Eliminate the poison of unrealistic expectations in your home. Think of one area where your spouse has told you you're expecting too much, and tell them you're sorry for being so hard on them about it. Promise them you'll seek to understand, and assure them of your unconditional love.

Treat that love of yours the way that you want to be treated. Love the way that you want to be loved. Encourage the way that YOU want to be encouraged - no matter what! The One who teaches us to love, told us, Himself, that THAT is the most important part of love.

See ya tomorrow!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Hot For The Holidays - Week 10

Hot for the Holidays

OK, the good news is this - I did not gain weight on my vacation. In fact, I actually lost nearly a whole pound!

And the GREAT news is this - I lost 3 pounds this week!!! for a total of 3.7 pounds down!!!!! Oooooh yeah!!!

And, the super fantabulous news is this - as I had been hovering around the 15 pound mark before I went on vacation, this puts me OVER 15 POUNDS DOWN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

That is what I am talking about!

Now, we are supposed to tell what our "Ah Ha" moment was and how it inspired us to lose the weight.

My moment was when I had to buy a shirt for family photos in the plus size section ...

... and then had to buy a complete outfit for Sophie's adoption in the plus size store.

And then when I compared the pics of me at Hattie's adoption (in which I had lost 35 pounds)...

... to those at Sophie's adoption (in which I had gained all of them back!). OK, someone tie me to a treadmill and set it on high!!!

My good ah ha moment came when I went to said store to buy an outfit for the wedding and everything was too big!!!! Now, granted, the stuff in the regular sections were still a little snug, so I did end up buying from that store, but SuperModel had to lend me a belt to make the dress work!!!!

Plus, the jeans that I bought before the trip, that were a bit snug, I wore them babies on the airplane home! Yep, they are that comfy now!!!


So, how did you do?!?!

Love Dare - Day 26: Love is Responsible

OK, I know that I told ya yesterday was hard ... and, um, so is today. I know, two hard days in a row.... I am sorry. It is all my fault. Although I did not write the dare, I should have read ahead and told you that it WOULD get hard ... I take full responsibility. I am truly sorry.

"When you judge another, you condemn yourself, since you, the judge, do the same things." - Romans 2:1

Today is about taking responsibility for the things you do wrong. Yesterday was about learning to truly forgive, today is about knowing when to admit you are wrong and ask for forgiveness yourself.

Society does not lend itself well to admitting we are wrong. Politicians sling mud (we know that all to well ... don't even get me started!!!) and cast the blame on everyone BUT themselves. Celebrities blame the press when they drive with children on their laps, drive drunk, or, simply drive people crazy! Ads for debt consolidation agencies tell us it is not our faults ... Ummmm, HELLO?!?!?! I didn't see President Bush swiping your card at McDonald's!!!! Or mine for that matter!

Can I tell you how very MUCH God is convicting me, humbling me and shaping me through this study. And, just for future reference, doing the Love Dare, Beth Moore's Breaking Free AND Max Lucado's Jesus study all at the same time can do a Holy number on the image you see in the mirror. Truly, that much Truth ... WOW! I do not think I have spent this much time on my knees since ... well EVER!!!!

Just wanted you to know, if this is denting your ego and exposing ginormous spots in your conscience in need of cleansing, you are soooooooooooooooo not alone!

Anyhoo - Yes, it easy to cast the blame. In fact, we are TRAINED to cast the blame from a very early age. "My dog ate my homework", "my alarm didn't go off", "I didn't realize ...", "you never told me ...", the list goes on and on and on ...

Truth is, we are selfish. WE ARE HUMAN!!! We make mistakes, we all do, it is in our very nature (thank you, again, Adam and Eve!!!), and owning up to those mistakes goes against our nature. It is hard to do. But, it MUST be done. When we come to Jesus we repent of our sins and accept His mercy. But it does not end there, we sin every day, so we must repent every day.

And I am not talking about a blanket "sorry God" meant to cover all errors, I am talking about asking God to SHOW you your sins and then truly laying them at the foot of the cross and begging Him to teach you a lesson and show you the way to go! It is hard, but it is necessary. We will never be perfect, but living lives of righteousness means consistently striving to be more like Him. Not settling with where we are now, but continuously moving forward to where He is! The fruits of our labor will be seen, not on this earth, but in His presence as we enter the gates of Heaven. And, if that is not something to strive for, well, I do not know what is!

Now, I bet you could write a list of 10 things your spouse did, just today, that frustrated you. But, if I asked you to write a list of what YOU did to frustrate them, could you. No, really, think hard. You KNOW there is at least 10 things there as well. So, how do you make up for those things and take responsibility for our actions. YOU OWN IT!!!

Here is an example ... and, no, I am not proud!

Yesterday morning was a busy one for me - getting Hattie off to school, Bible Study, Love Dare, Sophie, etc... So, when I woke up, I immediately prayed for peace. Hubby and I prayed over each other as we was leaving for work (I was still in bed) and, again, I prayed for peace. Then I asked Hubbs what time it was ... let's just say it was much later than I had wanted to get up. Before I had even set one foot on the floor I was throwing a fit and BLAMING MY MAN for not waking me up so I could get ready! WHAT?!?!?! Is that not an ALARM CLOCK on my side of the bed?!?!?! And, that, dear friends, is how I sent him off for the day.

As soon as that garage door closed I felt the weight of conviction. I was W.R.O.N.G. and the first time I talked to Hubbs on the phone, I admitted it, I begged his forgiveness and he was so kind to look past my blame and apologize to me for forgetting that it was Thursday and that I had to be up early. OUCH! Have I really been so dad-blamed hard on him that he is sorry for MY mistakes.

Then, this morning, I opened my little Love Dare book and read about responsibility ...

Yeah, I think I better call him and apologize again.

So, what do you need to call your spouse about today?

Take time to pray through your areas of wrongdoing. Ask for God's forgiveness, then humble yourself enough to admit them to your spouse. Do it sincerely and truthfully. Ask your spouse for forgiveness as well. No matter how they respond, make sure you cover your responsibility in love. Even if they respond with criticism, accept is by receiving it as counsel.

Note that it said "no matter how they respond". You are doing this for them, not your own justification. Do not expect them to jump to your arms blessing you with forgiveness. If they do, take it as a gift. If they don't, take it as a lesson and keep on taking the responsibility until they believe you are sincere!

I am praying for you!!! You can do it!

See ya tomorrow!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Vacation Memories - and other Randomness

Our vacation started on an airplane. Hattie is an old pro, but it was Sophie's first trip.

Next trip, I think we will buy her her own seat... She was fid-get-yyyyy!

This is my April Lei Lei - she is truly one of the best friends a girl could ask for! I love her mucho!!!
And this is Laura - love her too. And one time we went to Jamba Juice and ....

(Just kiddin' Laura, I won't tell 'em you hit a parked car in the parking lot!)

OK, this is the part that will make Hubby cringe if he knew I posted it ...

I was doing laundry one day, and found Sophie going through the whites pile...

Looks like she found a new toy!!

This is another friend Heather - AKA Roni. We spent a day at the park with her and two of her lovely children...
Hattie got to ride a camel - it was the desert, ya know!!!

This is Roni's youngest baby, Jarron. We spent the day ironing out the details of Jarron and Sophie's future wedding arrangement. And thanks to the fact that I brought food and Roni didn't, we paid our dowry and they are now officially betrothed!!! And, to think, a few chicken dinos and some grapes secured my daughter's future!

But look at that face, how could I resist?

And this is Roni's middle child, and only girl, Elly.

Seriously, does that girl make pretty kids or what?!?!?!

It is a well known fact that this vacation was planned around which restaurants not available here I could visit...
Sonic was first on the list!
And, the addiction is passed on to the next generation ...

My Maggie Magpie (and her Mom Diane and Bro Josiah) joined us for some In-N-Out ..
They and her Dad, Dirk (aka Bird Man), also joined us after church at Rubios, where Magpie and I had our usual "who can eat more of their bean N cheese burrito before it explodes and spills beans everywhere" challenge ... She totally won - this time!!!!! (no pics, sorry)

And, of course, we had to visit Chick-Fil-A .... Can ya say YUMMY!!!

Miss Sophie's walking skills took off!
And, THIS is what happens when little girls are learning to walk.
Thankfully, it happened AFTER family pictures!
And, first thing the next morning, she fell again and got a black eye.
OK, I have kids to feed and get to bed, so the rest of the pics and stories will have to wait.
Still to come, wedding fun and a family day at the park!!!! (I know, ya can't wait can ya?!?!?!)

Love Dare - Day 25: Love Forgives

This is probably the hardest day in our journey. And it is also one of the most vital days in our journey. Love Forgives - How about YOUR love ... does IT forgive?

"What I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, I did it for your sakes in the presence of Christ." - 2 Corinthians 2:10

In the Love Dare book there is an illustration of what unforgiveness does to our heart. Imagine that you find yourself in a prison. You look all around you and see cell after cell after cell. And in those cells you see people you know - some you have loved and others you have, well, NOT loved. They all share one thing in common - they have hurt you. As you walk along the line of cells and look inside at the faces of those held captive, you find your blood beginning to boil as you relive each and every hurt. You also feel a little more betrayed with each cell because each one holds someone that you held a little more dear than the last. What started off as kids in school and co-workers soon became old crushes, friends, siblings, parents and even your spouse. At the end of the row you see Jesus. In His hand He holds the key to every cell, which He offers to you. You are being given the chance to free them all from their captivity. But you refuse that chance. You feel that they deserve what they are being given - they deserve their captivity! You decide to let them rot...

Only thing is, they are not the only ones locked up. You realize that YOU are in the prison with them. And YOUR cell looks out over all of theirs. So, not only are you in prison too, you have to face all of THEM on top of everything else. You had the chance to set them free and instead placed yourself in that prison with them.

Welcome to unforgiveness.

The Bible tells a tale of a slave who is brought to task regarding his debts to the master. He cannot pay - there is no way - and he begs the master to forgive him. The master does forgive - he graciously releases the slave from an enormous debt. The forgiven slave then leaves and finds another man who owes HIM money - a small amount, but still, the dept is there. He demands payment and, when the second man cannot pay, he demands punishment. The master hears of this and calls the slave in. He wants to know why, when he was forgiven so much, he could not forgive another of something so small. When the slave refuses to let it go, the master decides to punish him for the first debt, the enormous one, and throws him into prison. And Jesus tells us that "my Heavenly Father will also do the same to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart."(Matt. 18: 35)

You see, the thing about unforgiveness is, it does not hurt the other party near as much as it hurts the one harboring the unforgiveness. And, when it is present in a marriage, it ends up hurting EVERYONE. You, your spouse, your children, EVERYONE! And it spreads through the family like a wildfire that leaves ashes and destruction in it's path.

You promised to love and honor, and part of loving and honoring is forgiving. It just is. Plain and simple. You must learn to forgive for your spouse's sake and for yours. Not to mention the children, those around you and all who love you. Your marriage has the capacity to be an excellent Christian witness to those around you. How is it faring in that department?

Have you ever heard someone who has forgiven another person say that is is like a weight being lifted? Have you ever wondered why that is? Because it releases the forgiver as much as the forgivee. Forgiving is not saying that what the other person has done is OK, it is saying that you no longer take responsibility for the punishment. When you forgive, you give that responsibility over to God (where it belongs!). You let God be the one who takes the responsibility of deciding the other person's judgement. And YOU let that responsibility go. It IS relieving! Because it IS the way that it is meant to be!

And when you can actually say that you have forgiven, you can even look the other person in the face and not feel that knot in the pit of your stomach. You know, that knot that makes you sick to your stomach and wears you down? It will not be there anymore!

Whatever you haven't forgiven in your mate, forgive it today. Let it go. Just as we ask Jesus to "forgive us our debts" each day, we must ask Him to help us "forgive us our debtors" each day as well. Unforgiveness has been keeping you and your spouse in prison too long. Say from your heart, "I choose to forgive."

There is sooooo much more to be said of forgiveness. More than time or space - or attention span - allows. But, the thing to remember is this: Good marriages are not created by people who never hurt each other, but rather by people who choose to "keep no record of wrongs."
(1Corinthians 13:5)

I am praying for you!!!

See ya tomorrow!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Love Dare - Day 24: Love vs. Lust

The grass is always greener on the other side.

I am sure that you have heard that before right? Well, guess what - that grass has to be mowed too. And, truth be told, if you got to that side of the fence and treated that grass the way you treat the grass you have now, eventually it will be the same shade of green! Life is what you put into what you have, not what you hope to have someday.

That million dollar house on the hill, the one you have had your eye on for years, still has to be cleaned (and how many more square feet of floors to be mopped are there?!?!), decorated and - even worse - PAYED FOR! Home is where your heart is ... where is YOURS?

And, that movie star you have had a crush on forever, he or she has morning breath too. And mood swings, temper tantrums, bad days, bad HAIR days, and the list goes on. Sure, they look good on the screen (hellooooooo, makeup artists!) and on the magazine cover (can you say AIRBRUSH?!?!), but what do they look like in real life, first thing in the morning? Probably not at all like what you are thinking!!! Love is what you choose to stand by no matter what! Lust is what you look for to satisfy your here and now...

"The world is passing away, and also it's lusts; but the one who does the will of God, lives forever." 1John 2:17

Have you ever wondered what was so tempting about that stinkin' apple in the Garden of Eden? I mean, c'mon, Adam and Eve had. it. all. They were face to face friends with God, had their choice of ANYTHING else to eat, and they lived in THE GARDEN OF EDEN!!! They had a perfect life, and they threw it away for a single bite of the one thing that was forbidden. Oh, sure, you could say that EVE threw it away, but, we all know that Adam took a bite too!!! And what did it get them? Nothing but pain. Pain that, thank you very much, we have all had to live with ever since!

Well, we do the same thing. Every day we are faced with our forbidden temptations, and every day we give in - if only in our minds. We are not satisfied with the body we have been given, we want to look like the magazine cover (heck, even THEY want to look like they look on the magazine cover!!). We want our home to look like the cover of Better Homes and Gardens - because, hello, it is "BETTER"!!! Says so right there on the magazine! There is always something out there that is better or bigger or faster or prettier or .... you get the point. The thing about that is, when we get the better thing, there is something better than THAT out there too! It is a never ending cycle of want and lust.

What we need to realize is this - life will never satisfy. Nothing on this earth will ever be enough. And, do you wanna know why? Because this life is not what we were created for. This earth is not our true home. We were created for the Garden of Eden, and we blew it. Thankfully, Jesus paid our penalty and served our sentence and bought our ticket back into perfection ... only this time, it will be Heaven. Thing is, we have to accept the ticket that He offers. We have to look past all of the temptation and find the one TRUE and REAL offer of something better.

In the meantime, while we are here on earth, we have all that we need. HE is all that we need. We just have to realize that and be satisfied with that.

When you married your mate, you chose that one person above all others. You promised to love and honor that person - and that person alone - until death do you part. That promise does not become null and void because you THINK you have found something better, bigger, prettier, etc... Truth is, love is what you CHOOSE to make it. So, make it a promise that you keep. If looking at the other side of the fence makes you question the choice you have made, then STOP LOOKING!!!! It is that simple. And it is up to you!

I will say it again, it is up to you.

You do, however, have a weapon against the temptation. It is in the same person that faced, and fought off, every temptation know to man. His name is Jesus. Call on Him to help you wage the war against your own demons.

End it NOW. Identify every object of lust in your life and remove it. Single out every lie you've swallowed in pursuing forbidden pleasure and reject it. Lust cannot be allowed to live in a back bedroom. It must be killed and destroyed - TODAY - and replaced with the sure promises of God and a heart filled with His perfect love."

And, after you have cast out all of the objects of your lust, let God remind you of all that He has given you and the love that He has Blessed your life with - your spouse! Look for the things that you first fell in love with - in your house, your car, your life and, especially, your mate. You may realize just how very green your own grass really is!

Remember, I am praying for you!! See ya tomorrow!

Monday, November 17, 2008

AZ Visit ... Took 2 Slide Shows!

So, I had to take a LOT of pictures to get it all in, but I did it!

We had a blast and I think it shows. We are happy to be home and, especially, back in our own beds! We have stories to tell, and those will come in the days to come - with specific pictures to highlight! And I think we miss it all already!

We love you AZ and AZ Family!!!

Love Dare - Day 23: Love Always Protects

So, Insurance companies do not offer Marriage Protection - have you ever wondered why? Well, I am gonna tell you. It is because protecting your marriage is YOUR JOB!!!!! Not to mention, it is a job that should be taken more seriously than any other job you have.

Believe me when I say that there is a lot of "stuff" out there looking to undermine, harm, or even destroy your marriage - and I bet there are a few of them in your house. Things that, in and of themselves, are not harmful, but given the chance, could prove fatal. Things that seem safe, and even fun, can prove to be the biggest danger of all...

"(Love) always protects." - 1 Corinthians 13:7

Your marriage has enemies - enemies that come in various forms, that apply themselves in various strategical ways and that are all set on destroying your relationship. Now, I realize that that may sound like I am harboring some kind of conspiracy theory, but you can believe me, those enemies ARE out there. I have seen them. And, if we do not do our part to ward them off, no insurance company in the land can save us.

Here are just a few of these "enemies" -

Harmful Influences - TV and the internet might seem fine, but if given a chance, they can get out of hand. If you watch the wrong things on TV, you can find yourself lusting after another and comparing yourself, or worse, your spouse, to people on the screen. It can also lead to wanting - wanting that car, that house, that dress, THAT LIFE!!! Just watch your child watching commercials at Christmas time and then look at their lists ... they didn't come up with those items on their own, those ads between WonderPets and Backyardigans helped!!! And the internet can be a harmless passage of time and a way to contact friends and relatives - even a way to MAKE friends, I know I have. However, it too can lead us astray. You only need to watch the evening news to know the dangers of Myspace and other internet sights for kids today. Well, kids are not the only ones in danger. Lurkers and perverts aside (I hope we would know how to avoid them!!), the internet can become an addictive distraction that takes time away from what should be our main focus - our spouse and our family. So can TV for that matter - and I am sure that there are others (books, telephone, etc...) that we must be guarded against.

Unhealthy Relationships - It is an obvious reality that we should protect ourselves from unhealthy relations with those of the opposite sex (see day 22 for more on that!!), but you may not realize that we must also guard against friendships of the same gender. Not every woman at church is going to be a positive influence on your marriage. Some women have been hurt and can harbor harsh feelings about men in general, and they will look for any and every opportunity to show your man for the louse she is sure that he is ... do not be fooled! And, men, not every hunting, fishing, golfing or even Bible Studying pal is knowledgeable when it comes to marriage - take their "words of wisdom" with a grain of salt!

Shame - You are meant to be your spouse's biggest cheerleader - and vice-verse (sp?!?). You know each other inside and out, and that knowledge is given and accepted in trust. You must refrain from joining those husband bashing/wife slamming conversations and guard your spouse's pride. Now, for me, this is one I have to strive for. Not because I do not have immense respect for my man - I do! - but because sarcasm is a family trait! I have to be very careful to not throw a zinger, all in ggod fun, aimed at my man in mixed (or any) company. And sadly, I am not always very mindful of that fact. We must remember to BUILD UP our loves, not tear them down in the interest of stimulating conversation! AND, we must guard their secrets with our lives - unless they are endangering us, our children or themselves - at all costs!

Parasites - This is anything that latches on and sucks the life out of your marriage, or you. They usually come in the form of an addiction - gambling, alcohol (or worse), pornography and the like. They start off pleasurable, but soon begin to steal the joy from everything and everyone. I have know of two marriages in my life that were endangered due to parasites. Both marriages survived, but only because the parties involved took their spouses (and themselves) to task, took control of their marriage and did all that was necessary to rid their homes and their lives of the nastiness. Sadly, all too many marriages are not as strong. It is in us to fight it, and it is up to us to DO IT. Call on the Lord for the strength you will need and start exterminating!

The Bible very clearly tells us what our roles are to be in marriage. Wives are to be attentive and protective of our love - build him up, respect him and love and support him in everything. "The wise woman builds her house, but the foolish tears it down with her own hands." Prov 14:1. And, men are to be the head of the home. You are called upon to be the guard and protector against all evil - spiritual and otherwise. Stand at the ready to protect against any and all prey.

Remove anything that is hindering your relationship, any addiction or influence that is stealing your affection and turning your heart away from your spouse.

This is OUR responsibility. I am watching a very dear person to me deal with the loss of her husband right now. No, he did not die, rather he fell prey to old sins and addictions. She tried to save him, did all in her power to pull him away to safety, but he does not want to be saved. She is feeling the loss deeply, because she took her marriage vows as sacred promises before God (as she should), but in order to protect herself from being pulled in, she has had to walk away from the pit. We all thought that he was freed from his demons, but we were all wrong. No one can free him if he does not want to be free, a lesson my sweet friend is learning the hard way. We must protect ourselves, as well as our loves.

I am praying for you!

see ya tomorrow!

Picture Perfect Monday - The Wedding!!!

Our camera done us wrong, but we got a few good shots ...

... hopefully the photographer had a more user friendly camera and we will have better shots later!!!

Love Dare - Day 22: Love Is Faithful

Oh, my wonderful Love Dare-ers, I have done you wrong. Two whole days I missed without even an explanation. Let's just say that, silly me, I thought it would SLOW DOWN after the wedding madness. But, that is just when the FAMILY MADNESS began! 'Cause my whole fam came into town for the wedding. And most of 'em had never met our Miss Sophie! Craziness was a given!

But, we are back home now - brrrrrrrrr! - so, hopefully, back to normal!

And, I hope that you can forgive me!

I am just gonna dive into today ... here we go!

"I will betroth you to me in faithfulness. Then you will know the Lord."
- Hosea 2:20

So, this is a touchy one in our house. Not because either of us has ever been unfaithful, but because one of us has had an unfaithful spouse in the past. A past which came slamming back into the present last week when our oldest child (from Hubby's first marriage) got married. A happy event, but one that forced hubby to come face to face with his ex-wife and the one with whom she was unfaithful. YIKES! Thankfully, the event was also bathed in prayer, and so went off without any unkind words or deeds. Just a little (OK, a LOT) of uncomfortableness.

Now, we have spent the last few days learning what love is SUPPOSED to be. The love given freely to us by God and the love demonstrated so perfectly to us in Christ. The love that we are now supposed to give. A tall order, I know. Thankfully, with the love of our Father and our Savior, there is also forgiveness and faithfulness. Where would be without it?

So, when Hubby's first marriage fell apart it was heartbreaking. I was a witness to it all and I can tell you that my man handled it all by the letter of the Book. Meaning that he was a strong Christian witness to his wife (whom I knew and had a friendship with at the time) and to all of those around him. He did not ever spread it around or give cause for gossip. He merely asked those closest to him to pray for his marriage. For over a year he bathed his marriage and his wife in prayer, sought Christian counsel (and begged her to join him - she did not), fell on his face before God and did all he could do to save the marriage. She however wanted no part of it. As soon as she was "caught" she left their home and moved in with the "other man". He still tried though. He was faithful.

There eventually came a time, though, when he had to pick up the pieces and move on. He had sons whom had to be shown that their dad was OK. Sons who needed to see that their dad could go on. About a year after THAT we began dating and eventually married. And, with a strong Christian faith and faithfulness on BOTH sides, we are strong. But it is not in US to be strong. It is all in HIM and what HE gives us.

In the book of Hosea, there resides a love story. It is not a widely read book, and thus, the story is not well known. But it is a beautiful example of God's love, His faithfulness, and His redemption that is poured out onto His children. A story about love, adultery, forgiveness and NEW love. A story with a HAPPY ending. I encourage you to check it out.

The point is this - AGAPE love, true love, is faithful even when hurt and even when the other party is unfaithful. This does not mean that we let ourselves get tromped on over and over. It means that we offer faithful love and forgiveness and a chance at healing. It is not, we KNOW, in us. But it IS in the One who teaches us to love. And HE can love that way through us! I have seen Christian marriages survive this kind of hurt and bounce back with a love that is stronger and a TRUST that is stronger, in the end, because of the testing.

I PRAY that you have never and will never know this kind of betrayal. But faithfulness, and betrayal, are not restricted to adultery. There are other kinds of pain and betrayal that we must find and offer forgiveness for. Sometimes on a daily basis. I encourage you to offer these things to the Lord and let Him love THROUGH you. And, let Him love YOU!

Love is a choice, not a feeling. It is an initiated action, not a knee-jerk reaction. Choose today to be committed to love even if your spouse has lost most of their interest in receiving it. Say to them today in words similar to these, "I love you even if you don't love me in return."

In Hubby's case, she had no interest in returning his love anymore. She made a choice to walk away. But that did not alter HIS choice to offer her forgiveness and a promise of renewed love and trust. His offer was not accepted, however. And how many times do we not accept our Father's offer of forgiveness and renewed trust and unaltering love? How many times do we not OFFER it to those that we love the most?

I encourage you, today, to start fresh and let love reign in your marriage and in your life.

See ya tomorrow!