THE PERFECT HUSBAND

Every woman wants the perfect husband. Someone who will care for her and respect her.

Although many say there is no perfect man I dare to disagree.

When my husband left me twenty years ago, I was devastated.

There is a verse in the Bible which says that God is a father to the fatherless and a defender of widows.

I do believe that God is a father to the children of single mothers and I know that he has defended me, even though my ex is still living.

It is amazing to me how much my love for God the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit has grown over the years when I have been a single mother.

I remember when I was first single how he protected my children from a pedophile who preyed on children of other single parents. My God did not allow that man anywhere near my children.

I also felt His counsel one night when I actually heard a demonic sound outside my house. He told me to stay inside and put on every outside light that I could. It was that night that someone was murdered in their driveway and it was right in my neighborhood.

So He has protected me but how has he loved me?

The one time I asked Him out on a date when I was in Florida. He showed me clothes that were beautiful and also on sale. But more than that… He changed the weather because I was just a bit too hot.

Then there was the time I was driving through Oklahoma while going home to a family reunion. The rain was pelting my rental car and I was pleading to God to hold back any hail. I didn’t have insurance on the rental car for damages. As I was praying I saw a rainbow out on the horizon and within minutes God had put the start of a rainbow within a stone’s throw from my car. I know of no other person who has actually seen the start of a rainbow that close.

Do you know of any husband that can do that?

These memories are so cherished by me.

Yet there is an intimacy between people who have been married for several years and who have raised children. Where is that intimacy?

The other night my son did something very sweet for me and my daughter looked at him like he had lost his mind and then asked if I had asked him to do that. I said, “No, he just did it because he is a sweet son.”

Later on that night I heard the Holy Spirit “Did you see that look on Natalie’s face when Cameron took out the trash?” Somehow just the way that thought came to me it started busting me out in giggles.

Then the Holy Spirit came to comfort me and to explain to me in words I can not even express; why it was I went through a horrible heartbreaking time with this very son. During this time, my son was not living with me but my love for him did not wane, His character grew in ways I never could have imagined while he was away from me.

It has become amazing to me the level of intimacy I have with my perfect husband, which is Jesus Christ my Lord. We have gone beyond talking and listening. He knows my thoughts and it has come to the point where I know His thoughts in many circumstances.

People say they hear God speak. For some reason I have been privileged enough to go deeper than that. God doesn’t speak to me much. He thinks to me now. It’s the craziest thing. I can absorb a whole story from God in a second and it always makes such perfect logical sense.

If you are a single mother I would encourage you to draw close to God. He is the best provider, defender and lover you could ever wish for. Don’t keep throwing yourself at men if they just want sex. God wants better than that for you. He wants a man who will love you like He does. Unconditionally and without an agenda.

 

 

THANKFUL

I never thought I would say this. It has tooken me twenty years, a lot of pain and a great deal of reflection to come to this point. Yet this year I have added one more person to my list of people that I am thankful for.

I am actually thankful for my ex-husband.

I am thankful that he has been present and very involved in the lives of my children.

I think it is extremely important for both parents to be involved in the upbringing of children.

I am thankful that he allowed me the privilege of doing most of the raising. He had them every single weekend but I was more nurturing and I had them the majority of the time.

During the teenage years he wanted the boys to live with him in Florida. I resisted but now I see that this time with their Dad and stepmother taught them a lot about life.

This past week my youngest son stayed with me and he was such a help to me. He fixed so many things in my house and helped me in so many different ways. He is such a good son and he is a remarkable young man.

I know that his Dad taught him how to do drywall and that is what he did in some areas of my house. I am thankful that my ex taught my sons how to be resourceful and how to do home repairs.

I wish he would have been more generous in child support but I managed. I have always been good at managing money and as a result of not getting much child support I was forced to become successful in my career. I am very respected as being a competent professional in my field.

If I had gotten the full amount of child support I may have become dependent on him instead of independent in my own right.

I like being independent. I also don’t hold any animosity towards him or his wife on account of money. They give as much as they can to help out the children and I am thankful for everything they have done for the children.

I think this may be the ultimate in forgiveness.

When you are thankful for someone who may have hurt you and you think of them with gratitude, instead of pain. I think at that point you may have crossed the threshold from pain into forgiveness.

I can tell you this. It is like stepping out of a horrible, blinding storm and walking into the brilliance of a sunset.

WANTING TO BE LOVED

I am currently reading a biography of Rita Hayworth.  She was a beautiful movie star. It is interesting to note that her life was not without some challenges.

When I first became interested in her I heard her father had trained her to dance.  He supposedly had a dance studio and she was his star pupil.

I was a bit envious. I wanted to dance so bad when I was a little girl, but my Dad was a farmer and we lived in a little town where dancing was considered a sin. So my dreams of becoming a ballerina were not fulfilled.

As I read the biography of Rita Hayworth, I realized she didn’t really want to dance and there is a good chance that her father molested her.

I would take my father over hers any day of the year. Having a father who respects sexual boundaries is far better than one who could teach me how to dance.

However, there is something else I noticed in her biography. Rita Hayworth wanted to be loved. She married several times and always wanted a peaceful home life where she could feel loved.

I have known several people who said all they ever wanted was to be loved.

You would think it would be easy to fulfill that desire wouldn’t you?

It isn’t. It is the most exasperating challenge to encounter.

There are two people in my life who have said this to me.

I have tried my hardest to love both of them but it was never enough. It was exhausting to continually put my goals and ideals aside to try and meet theirs.

Each time I thought I had pleased them, the bar would just be set higher for the next round.

I ended losing my zest for life and abandoning my passion of writing to try and prove my love for them. Even with that sacrifice the constant neediness of their weakness was not satisfied.

Rita Hayworth was so devoid of love she got involved with more than one man who was married at the time. I am in no way judging her, just stating the facts.

It seems as if sexual immorality is a character trait among people who want to be loved.

To want to be loved is not a bad thing in itself but to desire physical intimacy outside of marriage is.

I see it merely as having your priorities mixed up. We are to love the Lord our God with all of our heart, soul and mind first. Then love our neighbors as ourselves. (Matthew 22:36-40).

If you are willing to sin to show someone else that you love them, then they are not from God, no matter what they may proclaim.

To love God is to honor and obey his commandments. “In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome.” 1 John 5:3.

When you love God first and others second, priorities tend to fall in place like a gentle spring rain and you feel refreshed, instead of exhausted.

GOING TO CHURCH

There are several reasons why I go to church. One is to hear the word of God being spoken and to learn more about God.

The other is for the fellowship. I have finally found a church which feels like a warm and welcoming family.

I also have found that it is important to serve if you are in a body of Christ. Because my church currently meets in a warehouse we always have to set up and take down each Sunday. I help set up the coffee table one Sunday a month. It isn’t much but it is what I can do.

I consider it a privilege to tithe 10% of my income when I go to church. I find it amazing that God only asks for that little when I know how much He has done for me.

Since I have started attending Vibrant Church I rarely miss. One of the reasons I don’t miss is because the sermon is the highlight of my week. The other reason is that the church members would notice if I was not in attendance. I would miss seeing them and they would miss seeing me.

The reasons why I go to church are all good.

Recently my mother mentioned to me that my brother had stopped going to church.  Since his wife left him, a lot of the church members have succumbed to the poison of gossip. They have been complicit in spreading the lies.

So my brother stopped going to church because he didn’t feel welcomed there.

I haven’t prayed that he would go back. Why should he?

He grew up in that church with those people teaching him in Sunday school and DVBS. He was married in that church. He served that church in various roles. People in that church, more than any other people in the universe, should know the character of my brother.

He is a good man.

They should have never spread the lies without confronting him in meekness as it says in Galations 6:1. “Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted.”

If they had confronted him then he could have told them the truth about his relationship with this “Other” woman. The fact is that he didn’t commit adultery but they have committed sins by using their words for evil instead of good. Ephesians 4:29  “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”

Nonetheless, I still have tender feelings about my home church. So I considered praying that he would return there.

Then last Sunday the Massacre in Sutherland Springs happened and I realized that some people go to church for the wrong reasons. They go to church to exact vengeance on others.

I became thankful that my brother is not going to church at this time in his life. The people in that town need to seek truth instead of lies. They need to reach out to my brother with compassion and love.

Until they do this I hope he does not cross the threshold of that church. Because if it isn’t a place where he is loved and where he can worship God, it isn’t really a church anyhow.

MY BROTHER

I have posted recently about my brother’s wife leaving him. This event has upset the apple cart of my family of origin.

My brother is a farmer and his wife left him right before harvest. She was his grain cart driver and she was very good at that. I went with him last year on a combine run and I took note of how well she performed this task.

This year he had to hire this task out. His hired hand could only work until the end of this week. Problem is that my brother is not done with harvest.  So my brother-in-law, John, is coming to help him finish harvest.

It is such a relief to all of us that God has provided help for my brother through this time of hardship.

Yet, it is not the harvest which vexes my soul as much as how the little town I grew up in has responded to this hardship.

I am hearing all kinds of lies and rumors about my brother. My brother has been rumored to have had an adulterous affair, someone has lied and said he was the father of this other woman’s baby, the rumors have grown in their evil to include his massage therapist also.

I do not know who is spreading these rumors but they have hurt my brother so much that he doesn’t want to even go into town.

I know that some of the ones who have spread the lies have been church members of the church I grew up in. I have wanted to go back there and take over the pulpit and give those small town idiots a piece of my mind.

As I have been cooking for my brother to send him care packages I have been rehearsing my speech. I have been full of self-righteous indignation at the lunacy of those small minded people.

Then yesterday I was listening to Christian radio and the Turning Point sermon. The pastor quoted Galatians 6:1 “Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted.”

I had to check myself. I was not thinking about these gossip mongers with any bit of gentleness. I was willing to throw hell fire and brimstone at them on account of my brother. I wanted to wring their necks. What God wanted me to do is most likely to pray for them.

There is a reason why I moved away from this town. I am so thankful I am not within driving distance of it because I know I am not yet at the stage of “gentleness.”

I know my brother did not do wrong.  He only had lunch with this other woman but he should have always had his wife present. He did not engage in any physical intimacy with this woman. A sexual affair was out of the question.

My brother is having his divorce hearing this next Friday. I would like to ask for intercessory prayer for him. He is at risk of losing everything he has worked for all of his life.

There are few people in the world which I love as much as I love my brother. Even though he was three years older than me and a boy, as a little girl I knew one thing was certain. I would always be his protector because I was fearless and he always had so much fear.

I would also ask that you pray for me. To see him go through this much pain is torture for my heart. To lose a sister-in-law which I dearly loved is even worse than torture.

I am realizing that the path from heart break to gentleness may be a very long and tortured road.

HELPING THE HOMELESS

I have mentioned my friend, who is homeless, on my blog before. I met her at Starbucks where she offered to pray for me. This amazing child of God had nothing other than a tent in the woods and some clothes to wear.

Even more amazing was that she always prayed that God would bless me with prosperity. I have a house, a nice house, and a car. Here she was with so little less than what I had and she was asking for God to bless me with more. Her purity humbled me.

As I said, I have a house and she was homeless. I have guest rooms upstairs that are unoccupied. I kept asking God what he wanted me to do for her. There were several days I took her food. There were other days I took her Bible verses and prayed with her.

I kept hearing from God that she needed to go to a home that was backed by a church. I have a lovely church I go to but she has not attended that church. She was attending other churches.

I kept praying and receiving the same answer. Then I went to that Starbucks and she wasn’t there. I went again and asked around. No one knew where she was.

I had her phone number so I called her and she answered. She was living with a family who was backed by a church who ministered to Jewish people.  She was so excited to be in this home. When I met her at Starbucks she showed me a picture of the beautiful family she was staying with.

I am so thankful that I was obedient to God in this matter. If I had invited her into my home she would have never met the wonderful family she is staying with.

God knows my limits.  Although I love my family staying with me I don’t know if I would be so kind to others.

I am so thankful for the counsel of the Holy Spirit who guides and protects not only me but also my dear friend who used to be homeless.

SISTER-IN-LAW

I mentioned yesterday that my brother was facing a divorce. I never really liked my sister-in-law. I didn’t think she liked me so I wasn’t going to waste the time on her.

Then one summer my brother and her decided to visit. I discovered on that trip that I liked my sister-in-law. I mean, I really liked her and may even go so far as to say that I loved her.

The more I opened up the door to a friendship with her, the more I began appreciating her. I knew that my family was not the easiest bunch of people to assimilate into and so I tried to make her feel as comfortable as possible when I was around her.

She was one of my dear friends.

Now that she is divorcing my brother it would be easy to jump over the fence into hate.

I have not made that jump. I still love her.

It is interesting to note that my mother never liked her and now my brother says that she is mentally unstable.

I listen to both of them but keep my opinions to myself.

My sister-in-law was temperamental but that is a far cry from mentally unstable.

She is also the mother of my two nieces. Every time I think about responding in an ugly manner to her, I think how it may affect my relationship with those two young women.

It is a tenuous path of discipline and self-control to sit on the side lines and see her hurt my brother but I have held my tongue when I wanted to lash out.

This morning in church I was reminded that we can grieve the Holy Spirit. Ephesians 4:29-32

“29 Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.

30 And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.

31 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:

32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”

This trial, which vexes my heart, I am sure also saddens God. It is important for me not to speak evil of others, even if they are doing what I consider an evil act.

It is my privilege as a Christian to keep leading those who are so beset by evil back onto the path of faith and love. Even if they don’t want to be on that path, I need to keep shining that light.

DISTRACTIONS

There are so many distractions that the world can lay in your path.

In the Bible it says, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all of these things shall be added unto you.”

That is easy to do if your path is not fraught with the dangers of heart ache and heart-break. I find that when the devil seeks to destroy me and those I love, my mind becomes obsessed with the chaos that is left in his wake.

At the present, my life is wonderful and I AM focused on seeking God first. I have some issues to straighten out with certain people in my life which may result in some broken relationships. Yet, overall, my life is drama free.

Unfortunately, I can not say the same thing for my brother.

He is living in the town I grew up in. It is a very, very small town and is smaller yet, in its ability to abide by the Word of God.

It is not that people do not go to church in that town. They go as if addicted. There are five churches in that town for less than 1,000 people.  Most Sundays they flood the churches like fire ants at a picnic.

My brother is the only one of my siblings who stayed in that town. He is tending the farm which I grew up on. He married his high school sweetheart. Their marriage has lasted for thirty-five years. They have two grown daughters. One which has struggled with cancer.

I have always marveled that he could stay in that town and be happy. He was quite happy until his wife left him just a few weeks ago.

They had a big fight and he had been insensitive to her feelings. She walked out and moved in with her parents. This happened right after he had completed building her a fabulous mansion out in the country.

Then the lies started and gossip spread through that town like a wildfire.

My brother was accused of having an affair with another woman, even though all that they did was have lunch. My brother was never behind closed doors with this woman. He liked her as a friend and that is all.

That lie started the fuel for another lie. Soon the rumor was that my brother was having an affair with his physical therapist. Those idiots don’t even know the difference in therapists. He didn’t have a physical therapist. He only had a massage therapist and he certainly didn’t have an affair with her.

The divorce papers were served a couple of weeks ago.

Apparently Nebraska considers women to be much more important than what Texas does. His wife has filed for half of his net worth.

I actually had to pay my ex-husband in my divorce and I got no alimony and little child support. If I ever get married again it is going to be on another continent or Mars. I will never make that mistake in Texas again.

When you are a farmer, much of your net worth is tied up in the equipment. My brother went into horrible debt to build his wife their new mansion. He doesn’t have any net worth. He has only debt. So he will have to sell his equipment which will cause him to have to quit farming. On top of this, his wife is demanding alimony. Don’t know how he is going to do that if he can’t farm.

My concern is not for his finances. I fear he will not survive this ordeal. He has chronic health problems which are worse with stress.

My only hope is that somehow he can survive this ordeal. My other hope is that I can stop worrying about what this may do to my brother and my family. It is difficult to seek the Kingdom of God when the devil is attacking the brother you love with your whole heart. Very difficult indeed….

 

 

LONELY

Anyone who reads my blog may think I rarely have times when I feel lonely.

I live in a beautiful suburb of Fort Worth.

I have a darling daughter who has roomed with me for the past five years. She has transformed from a hostile and surly teenager into a beautiful and loving young woman whom I simply adore.

I have friends. Quite a few, in fact. I am on good terms with all of my neighbors. I have a good number of women who are my friends. I also have some guys who have become dear friends of mine.

Yet, just a few months ago I was crying our to God for more. There was a hunger that I had not quenched. It has been a hunger that has been raging in my soul for most of my life.

When reflecting on this, I believe that this hunger is tied to the calling on my life to minister to other women in Christ. This calling on my life is woven into my passion for Christian writing.

Yet, I have women friends, I am continuing to write posts on my blog, as well as completing my novel. So in some ways I am fulfilling my destiny but there was still a sadness within my heart.

I was missing something.

I had been going to a megachurch where the pastor was quite excellent. Yet, I felt invisible. Nobody knew me and no one cared about me.

I was searching for something more meaningful. I cried out to God to quench this sadness within me and He came to my rescue in the most wonderful way…

I have always been a nut about keeping slim. After menopause this became quite difficult. When I saw  a Cardio dance class that was starting up in my neighborhood I jumped in.

That is where I met my friend, Erin. She led the class. I really liked her.

One of the women in the class had asked if anyone knew of a church that they could recommend. Erin suggested that that we try out her church, “The Vibrant Church.”

Then Erin backed out of the Cardio dance class. She was struggling in her personal life with some issues which haunted her from her childhood.

I became concerned about her and I started going to her church because of my concern for her. In the mean time I was really starting to like the sermons.

Then my best friend, Kathy Raney, died. I decided to start volunteering in honor of her because she was always helping someone.

I began to enjoy serving in the church.

Then I got scheduled for vocal cord surgery. My friend from church, Lori Petty, ministered to me through that event as if she was an angel from God.

I realized the other day what I was looking for was not a second husband, not more girlfriends or guys who are friends but I was looking for fellowship.

I needed a church which cared about me as if I was their sister in Christ and I have found that now in the Vibrant Church.

VOCAL CORD SURGERY

On October 12th I had vocal cord surgery. My dear, sweet boyfriend was kind enough to take me into the hospital early in the morning. When I walked in the door at Harris Methodist Southlake Hospital it almost felt as if it was a vacation, the staff was so kind.

When I woke up my sweet friend from church, Lori Petty, picked me up from the hospital. ‘

My daughter had soup, croissants and a bouquet on my counter to welcome me home. She also wrote me a very sweet note.

I had so many friends who were praying for me and the vocal cord surgery. I was very humbled and grateful.

I could not talk at all for five days but on the fifth day I started. My voice was lower than it had been before in tone and I liked it a lot.

I made the mistake of using bad words for a bit and then caught myself. I had been forced to whisper for over a year due to this ailment and I thought I had learned to choose my words more carefully through this experience.

There were things that had happened recently that caused me to become frustrated with life. My brother’s marriage of 35 years fell apart at the seams. One of my best friends had passed away and I lost two dear pets whom I had loved.

When I get frustrated I can choose wrong words to vent my frustration. That does not do anything to solve the problems.

So I knew I had to get a grip.

Out of a need to divert my attention from all of the sadness that had enveloped my world I started watching the Netflix series, The Good Place. I became hooked and binge watched the whole first season.

In The Good Place, they are not allowed to use bad words so instead of saying “f…  you” they say, “fork you.” I though that was so cute and funny. Every bad word had an r inserted to transform the word, so that sh.. would turn into shirt and so on and so forth.

Yet, I realized I needed to choose other words entirely to get my point across, so as not to offend the Holy Spirit.

I remember running across a quote one day which said, “Profanity is a weak mind trying to make a strong point.”

I am trying very hard to use my new voice to honor God and I believe strengthening my mind in the process.