Friday, October 10, 2008

A Weekend to Remember

My beautiful sister Rachel had won on the radio a couple's pass to FamilyLife's "Weekend To Remember". A couple's marriage retreat conference. With Rachel expecting # 7 and the stresses of life, she and Al were looking forward with great anticipation to this weekend away here in Greensboro.
When Greg lost his job, Rachel called soon after and told us she wanted to give this "Weekend to Remember" to us. After talking about it, we gratefully accepted it. The timing was incredible! Greg lost his job on Tuesday, and the retreat was the weekend following.

On Thursday, we had a family picnic/outing to a local park (Centennial Gardens). It is a peaceful park in the middle of Greensboro, with a bog garden across the street (a more natural habitat) that includes some small waterfalls. It was a gift from the Lord. We enjoyed a relaxing family time surrounded by the beauty of His amazing creation. We were silly together and colored each other's hair pink with poke berry juice.

Friday night, we checked into the hotel (Al and Rachel had given us a hotel room for the weekend also) and began the conference.
It was an incredible, refreshing weekend. It was so good to be able to re-connect. We have a great marriage, but every marriage takes tending and nurturing. They do not survive or thrive by accident.
It was so good to just be reminded of the order God has laid out for our marriages. I am always amazed at the order of God's plans for every detail of our lives. It reminds me that the train of our lives runs best and with the most purpose on the tracks He has designed for us. Within His plan is freedom to thrive, not the bondage the enemy would have us believe. It is GOOD!!!!!
We had a great date night, and it was all so good. One neat little thing that reminded me that God delights in granting us our heart's desires was: during one session, the speaker had just gone over the promotion of the book "Sacred Marriage" by Gary Thomas. "That's the book I've wanted for a long time". I whispered to Greg. Minutes later, the speaker asked: "Who had parents who were a great example in their marriage?" Greg elbowed me "Your parents were" he said "Raise your hand." So I did. The speaker picked up "Sacred Marriage" from the table and gave it to me!!
The premise of the book is "What if God designed marriage to make us holy rather than happy?" This is a burning message in my heart that I so long for people to know.
Disrespecting, not actively loving and rejecting our mates is all-out rejection of the good gift God has specifically given to us. When we do this, in a way we are rejecting God. He designed marriage to be an example of the relationship between Christ and the church. What a daunting task! But with a willing heart, and His grace and help, we can do it.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Giving Christ the Wheel

The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives.
~ Psalm 37:23, NLT

We are godly, because we are covered with the righteousness of Christ, not by our own righteousness (which is only filthy rags).

Greg has desired at his job to be a good steward of the trust God had given him there. But even before the frightening economic developments of the past few weeks, life often seemed like a game of one step forward, two steps back. We had been praying for months and even years for God's guidance and direction for Greg's career. He has been working as a sales manager at Dutch Barns for the last 11 years. Greg is tremendously loyal and dedicated, as well as with a low "change need" level. So, wanting to be sure to stay within the bounds of God's will, rather than being led astray only by our discontent, he stayed where he was. We prayed that if God wanted him elsewhere, He would make it CRYSTAL CLEAR.

In the past several months the growing frustration with his job, with a lagging economy suppressing sales in a business where he was selling buildings that are somewhat of a "luxury" (not a necessity), Greg knew that things could not go on as they were forever. About a week or so ago, Greg was impressed to pray and lay his job and future career and life completely at the altar. To give it to God. In his words he told me "I am just giving God the steering wheel." He chose again, to be content where God had blessed him with a job, to do it well to the best of his ability with a humble attitude of thankfulness, and allow God to work as He pleased.

I believe God works with us where we are. God often leads us with a sense of discontentment, but He also instructs us to live in contentment. There are those who would be out pounding the pavement the moment they felt an ounce of discontentment. There are those who would do nothing at all to make a change, ever. Greg is somewhere in between. I often call him "hyper-responsible", because he fulfills his commitments with admirable determination, and pursues his responsibilities with great loyalty and devotion.

Anyway, September 30th; (with God in the drivers seat) Dutch Barns informed Greg that his position was being cut (along with a few others), so he currently does not have a job. This of course came as a stunning shock. Any sudden change is always difficult to understand and deal with. It is sad to us, because it is the "end of an era." My father, brothers and brother-in-law all work there, and it's not only the loss of a job, but the loss of an environment where your co-workers are also your cheerleaders who want the best for you.

We all know that God works in ways that we do not understand, and the He is the One who is our ultimate provider. He is a dangerous God. But He loves us beyond our wildest comprehension. We look forward to see where God in the driver's seat plans to take us on this wild ride for this next portion of our lives.

Though we are stunned, we are thankful, because God has answered half of our prayers, and He could not have made that part any more CRYSTAL CLEAR! We know He holds our future in His hands, and we trust Him to continue to provide for our needs, just as He always has.

On a political note; with small (medium, and large) businesses that provide jobs for workers struggling in our economy, I pray the next President does not raise taxes on businesses, (and break the already burdened back of our economy) but lowers them in order to enable these businesses to survive and thrive, and provide jobs for families and people who are already being hurt by our lagging economy. If there is nothing for people to hope to achieve, but mere survival, it seems the American dream will not be worth working towards if we are merely punished for succeeding. It would be the rape of hope.

But with our government, as with our personal lives, our part is to do what we can, and trust God for the outcome. He sets up and tears down rulers. They will ultimately answer to Him, whether or not they acknowledge that. He will place and allow whomever He wishes to be in authority. We must trust Him in times of prosperity and in times of persecution. Our strength comes from the Lord.