Friday, September 28, 2012

Which Comes First, Better or Worse?

The hubby is dealing with some major sciatica pain. He spent 4 days in the hospital this week trying to find the root cause for the pain. We were told that there is some scar tissue in the area where he had back surgery four years ago and that could be impinging on the sciatic nerve.

Our life has taken a detour from where we were headed just a week ago. Now our day consists of rearranging his home space. Each transition to a different part of the room consists of moving heating pads, extension cords, his laptop, tv remotes, phones, pillows, pads and waiting for the pain to subside after each transition. He is feeling frustrated that the simple task of walking is so difficult right now. And of all things, Lord help us, I'm doing the cooking! We all know how much I like that!

This is the time of marriage that the part of the wedding vows "for better or worse" encompasses. Brides and grooms across the world say them everyday, saying them but not ever realizing what "worse" will mean in their marriage.

Better: in a more excellent manner
to greater advantage
to a higher or greater degree

Worse: of more inferior quality, value, or condition
more unfavorable, difficult, unpleasant, or painful
more faulty, unsuitable, or incorrect


I, _______, take you,______ for times more excellent, greater, and higher. I take you for times more inferior, more unfavorable, difficult, unpleasant, or painful, for times more faulty, unsuitable, or incorrect.


I don't think any of us married longer than our honeymoon would admit that when we took our vows we had any idea of what "worse" could mean. I think it's safe to say that most of us girls took the vows with love in our eyes singing that old song, "love will keep us together."

If we could time travel and I could visit myself the day before my wedding and say to Ronda the bride, "you are going to have moments that are tough. You are going to have days that are tough. You are going to have weeks, months, and yes, even years, that are harder than you could possibly know," I'm sure the bride in me would have looked at the 27 years married woman and laugh and laugh and laugh, never really believing how much for better for worse will test me, grow me, weaken me, knock me down and pull me back up.

No young bride and groom can comprehend the toll it takes on a marriage taking care of a sick child, losing a job, moving away from family, the death of a child, the innumerable transitions and challenges that will force its way into a marriage. It's probably good that we couldn't comprehend it in the beginning, because who would ever get married if they could see all the ways that their marriage will be tested?

Is there any way to prepare for it? Probably not. For one can't predict what the future holds. Marriage is a lot like parenting, ever growing, maturing and adapting to the new needs and challenges that constantly surface. One trial is built on another, giving strength to face the challenges to come.

As I get older and have walked through some great challenges with my husband, I can say that each one we've had, in the end, did make us stronger, closer, and more committed. There are a few that I wish we could have avoided along the way, but if we had we may not have learned what we learned by going through it.

Better isn't always better. Sometimes the worse is really the better. Both are temporary and change almost as quickly as the sun rises and sets, but I believe the worse is what makes us better.

When the worse hits, it makes us better equipped for the next worse. We aren't promised life on earth to be better. The better is still to come.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Christmas in September

I've been somewhat overwhelmed, no, more like distracted this week. We've had several distractors going on all at once and a trip to Wal-Mart on Saturday was evidence that I was a little, yes, overwhelmed.

I was near the garden department and saw that the Christmas trees were already set up, lights aglow. Now normally I would have said, "I can't believe they have Christmas decorations out already and it's only September!" I remember when I was a kid and we saw no hint of Christmas until the day after Thanksgiving. No commercials, no decorations in the store, nothing! Each year it seems that the sale of Christmas begins earlier and earlier.

But Saturday, I don't know, I just stopped for a minute and looked at the trees and thought, thank God I see a Christmas tree! I was so glad for the reminder that Jesus is coming, the celebration of his birth is coming, the reminder that Emmanuel is with me, even at Walmart! I immediately felt so much calmer realizing that the King was close by. The Christmas tree display was the reminder I needed to get focused on Who had my back.

Let me go back and add a sidenote to this story. Friday I was in Walmart (I was there 3 times this weekend!) and when I went to pay for my items, I couldn't for the life of me remember my PIN. The cashier let me try it a couple times and when it wouldn't come to me, I finally had him run it as credit. I was my PIN number on the tip of my brain, my tongue, my mind!!! It was nowhere to be found!

Now back to yesterday. I got my groceries and other items and put my purchases on the belt. The cashier began ringing them up and bagging them. I was putting the bags in the cart as she checked them and when it came time to run my debit card through and put in my pin, I was sure I had it right this time, it wouldn't go. She tried one more time, then I had her try it as credit and it wouldn't go. (I'm guessing WalMart's computer brain was better than mine at the moment and recognized this card had the same problem the day before and wouldn't let me put a single cent through either debit or credit! So there I stood, my basket full of bagged items, ice-cream melting and all and no way to pay for them!

Out of the corner of my eye I saw someone I knew coming up to me and I told her what was going on. I told her of the problem with my PIN number the day before and asked her if she would be willing to pay for my bill. Without hesitating she pulled out her card, ran it through, AUTHORIZATION APPROVED!

She was heaven-sent. She was an early Christmas present.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Lavish Lifestyles of God's Rich and Not So Famous

Do you ever think about the word lavish? It's ok if you immediately thought to yourself, "No! Who thinks of lavish?" Well, I do, or should I say, it's a word that has rattled around in my head since I first came across it in the Bible. It seemed an odd word to be used in the Bible.

I used to think of the word "lavish" in relation to extreme wealth. A television show that was on when I was a teenager was "The Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous" and it was known for showing the lavish homes, cars, and vacations the rich and famous could afford. Materialistic wealth is one thing, spiritual wealth is in fact entirely different and that's what I find so peculiar about this word lavish being used in the Bible of all places.

As I am often compelled to do, I had to look the word up. So bear with me here for a minute, if this bores you, scroll down, I promise I'm going to make a point.

First, the English definition of Lavish according to Merriam-Webster 2012.

lavish - Adjective
1. expending or bestowing profusely
2a: expended or produced in abundance
b: marked by profusion or excess

Origin: Middle English laves, lavage, probably from Middle French lavasse, lavache downpour of rain, from laver to wash.

First use: 15th century

Synonyms: amply, bounteously, bountifully, freehandedly, freeheartedly, generously, liberally, openhandedly, unstintingly (not restricting or holding back

Antonyms: stingily, ungenerously, penny-pinching, frugality

lavish - transitive verb

to expend or bestow with profusion*
First use: 1542
Synonyms: heap, rain, pour, shower
Antonyms: conserve

There are only six places in the NIV (New International Version) Bible where the word lavished is used. Four places in the Old Testament and two places in the New Testament. Interestingly, one English word is translated for SIX different Hebrew and Greek words, but I'm curious about only one for now.

Ephesians 1:7-8 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.

Lavished here is translated from the Greek word perisseuo - to have abundance, more than enough, overflow

God's grace is LAVISHED on us. It is (down)poured on us, heaped on us, it is abundant, plentiful, bounteous, liberally given to us. There is no sin too big for God to hold back his love from us. We are His. When He lavishes something on someone He loves he's not just giving you one thing, forgiveness of sins or the riches of his grace, he lavishes ALL wisdom and understanding along with it.

His Grace is really too big for words to describe, for songs to be sung about, for hearts to reflect on. His love for us is abundant. He is not a penny-pincher when it comes to sharing. He is not frugal nor is he stingy. He is generous, He is liberal in his sharing. He pours on us, like a downpour of rain...

his love

and mercy

and freedom

and grace

and hope

and wisdom

and understanding

and love

and joy

and contentment

and forgiveness

and restoration

He pours it all down on His child. He will never run out of His love for you. He never runs low on His patience for you when you just don't seem to get it, when you get caught in the same vicious cycle you've been trying to free yourself from. He can free you!

You are His child. He is the One who gives all, and gives abundantly. Even in the rough stuff, the dark places, you are being drenched with his blessings. Even when you don't feel it or see it or have forgotten it, He is still pouring it on. That's what's getting you through the day. That's what is putting one foot in front of the other when you don't think you can go through one more bad thing.

His abundance is being poured on you when you're tired, when you're weak, when you're thirsty, when you don't know how the bills are going to be paid, or what the medical tests will find, or you wonder, "will my child EVER be normal?!"

Know this: are loved. are forgiven. are free from sin.

Lavishly...You are His.

*I had to look up a couple words from the definition (I'm a word freak, I know!)

expend: to make use of for a specific purpose

bestow: to put to use, to put in a particular or appropriate place, to convey as a gift usually used with on or upon

perfusion: to pour over