Tuesday, February 14, 2012

He Will Steady You

Do you remember when you first learned how to ride a bicycle?

There is a really cute video online with a little boy, about 5 years old, who obviously just took his first solo ride on a two wheeler. He tells his dad "I feel, I feel happy of myself!" Click here to watch his 1 min video

This little guy is decked out. He's got the helmet, a puffy fleece jacket, knee pads and gloves with the fingers cut out. I don’t know about you, but I did not have all that protective gear when I learned how to ride a bike. I’m pretty sure I skipped the training wheels step all together. I remember my little sister having training wheels, but I think both my brother and I went straight from a tricycle to a two wheeler.

We were at the mercy of the pavement.

Could that be true? I wasn't sure, so I called my mom.

"Mom do you remember when I learned to ride a bicycle?"

"All I remember is your dad running up and down the street with you, holding on to the back of your bike."

I remember that too.

I didn't go out alone to face the pavement. My dad was right beside me, holding me steady until I found my balance.

In Isaiah 41 from The Message Bible God says to his children, "I’ve picked you, I haven’t dropped you. Don’t panic I’m with you. There’s no need to fear for I’m your God. I’ll give you strength. I'll help you. I’ll hold you steady, keep a firm grip on you."

I love that picture of God.

I am so blessed that my dad was right beside me when I learned to ride my bike. I hope you had someone there to help you too. I KNOW we all have a Father, a God who is near. He is with us to help us, to strengthen us,to hold us STEADY.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Stuck Like Glue

"Dot, dot, dot - don't use a lot." Our son’s preschool teacher repeated her gluing mantra over and over, but to no avail. Pink and red construction paper hearts and white doilies swam in a sea of sloppy gloppy stickiness. With that age group less is never more.

Do you remember discovering the amazing properties of school glue? It goes on white but dries clear. It practically disappears! David remembers letting glue dry on his fingers and then peeling it off tip by tip. Glue can take two separate items and make them one. It is a fascinating substance.

Jesus mentioned glue in the context of marriage. He said “For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife.” The original Greek word for cleave is “kollao” which literally means “to glue”. Husbands and wives are to bond, adhere, and be glued to one another.

As our boys have grown into adolescence, David has taken each of them away for a special weekend they call their “Journey to Manhood.” David used material from FamilyLife Publishing by Dennis & Barbara Rainey called Passport2Purity. Together they listened to messages, answered discussion questions and worked on object lessons. One of the lessons involves glue. Although the focus with our preteens was to discourage exclusive relationships, we see a slightly different lesson for marriages.

No mess for me

If we take two paper hearts and stack them up or rub them together, neither is changed. They are still two pieces of paper. In the same way, it’s relatively easy for two people to cohabitate without connection. Do you know couples like this? They go through the motions without sharing much. They exist in the same space but occupy separate lives. Life is neat and tidy when all you have to think about is yourself.

A little dab won’t do ya

Dot some glue on those paper hearts and they’ll stick for a good long while, but over the years glue gets dry and brittle. Like my mom’s high school scrapbook - years later when we found it in the storage room, pictures and papers slipped right off the pages. You’ve heard that silly story about a husband saying “I told my wife I loved her on our wedding day and that hasn’t changed, why would I keep saying it?” That attitude doesn’t work! The principle of “leave and cleave” is not a one time occurrence. It is an ongoing process.

Less is never more

Invite a preschooler to glue your paper hearts and it’s a completely different story. They’ll smear glue all over the paper, take the lid off the bottle and pour it on until the tacky white stuff oozes out from under the paper. Then they’ll want to do it all over again the next day…..and the next day. What a great model for bonding as husband and wife. We can’t be stingy when we think about connecting our hearts, even if things get a little messy. We have to keep gluing, keep cleaving, and keep joining together. We have to pursue intimacy.

In counseling, we learned that intimacy causes short term instability. It’s tempting to avoid that temporary shakiness by holding back or pretending and not sharing your true feelings. David and I both have moments when we know that being open and honest is a risk and could make life uncomfortable for a while. We are learning to press through that fear, knowing the instability won’t last long. When we chose vulnerability, we strengthen the bond between us. We are stuck like glue.

Try This:

Gather some paper, scissors, and pens and make a hand-made valentine for your sweetheart this year. Don’t forget the glue! Write your own special version of “Roses Are Red….”

If you need to have “the talk” with your pre-teen, we recommend Passport2Purity. Find out more at FamilyLife.com

Deut 13:4 says “Ye shall walk after the LORD your God, and fear him, and keep his commandments, and obey his voice, and ye shall serve him, and cleave unto him.” (KJV) What would it look like to glue yourself to God?

This was our article for the February edition of Austin Faith & Family magazine. Unfortunately the magazine is closing. We are grateful for the opportunity to share our thoughts on marriage with the Austin community.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Is the Seed Still in the Barn?

My grandparents were farmers and one of the greatest joys I had growing up in North Dakota was spending a week on the farm. We would wake up every morning to the smell the sausage sizzling in the kitchen. We didn't eat cereal on the farm. We ate real food. We would help my grandmother milk the cows, gather eggs, and make lunch for the men in the fields which oddly enough included my little brother.

There is so much work to do on a farm but it didn’t matter how busy things got, we never missed church on Sunday. My grandmother served with the ladies auxiliary. It was just a part of who we are. So I have this legacy of faith. Life gets busy, but you still get to church on Sunday. Challenges come. Hail storms, droughts and blizzards blow in, but God remains faithful.

A farmer knows, when you plant a seed in the ground a harvest is coming.

In Haggai 2:19, we hear God speaking:

"I am giving you a promise now while the seed is still in the barn. You have not yet harvested your grain, and your grapevines, fig trees, pomegranates, and olive trees have not yet produced their crops. But from this day onward I will bless you."

God is saying, it’s not harvest time. In fact, you haven't even planted your seed. Blessing comes from ME!

Other translations of this verse begin with a question - Is the seed still in the barn? What a great question for the beginning of a new year. Is the seed still in the barn? Are there dreams and hopes in you? Is there untapped potential waiting to be planted?

Now is a good time to get the seed out of the barn and plant it in some fertile ground. Know that God is faithful. Blessing comes from Him.