Personal Musing: Ten years ago July 17, 2010

Ten years ago today, July 17th, I married my wife. It was a small ceremony at the Chapel of Love at Mall of America. We had a big wedding in Brazil the following January. The wedding was for me an apex moment and culmination of growth and healing that occurred in the many years since. A lot has come and gone since that wonderful day ten years ago. One thing is certain, that through it all I still love my wife deeply and consider her a gift. The worst moments of the past ten years ultimately have drawn me closer to God and a deeper awareness of His love. There is no doubt in my mind that God brought us together.

Looking back on my life and not getting married until thirty-five. Not even dating. There were reasons behind my not dating. One reason was a distrust for women that stretches back to ways been treated by girls growing up and other distorted views. There was a lot of fear and anxiety and a lot of untruthful negative perspectives about women. And for what was not untrue, a recognition that for whatever hurt and pain and uncertainty that can come into play, that God has great reward for entering into the relationship.

Yet, in that anxiety there were certainly moments that could have asked a woman out and perhaps even fostered a relationship. However, there was always a part of how God created me that would just “know” that a relationship would not be right. Now perhaps it was fears talking, because I was absolutely shy and clueless. Perhaps there were things lost out because settled for unacted on infatuations and fantasies of the mind. Regardless, at some level, choices made were not just of fear, but a deep knowledge that something would not be right.

With my wife, I know God brought me and Liz together for His reasons and purposes. See there was no question upon the first phone conversation in my mind where things ultimately were headed. I just knew where the relationship would end up and followed it through to the point of taking significant risks, such has meeting her sight unseen.

One of the amazing things and difficult things is God did bring us together as complementary but opposites. She is strong in areas I am weak and vice versa. She is emotional and passionate. I am easy going. She is detail oriented, I am adaptable. No there are ways that we are alike with strong empathy and compassion for others.

So today, as July 17th has started, I am filled with love and gratitude and thank God for the blessings, for even the hard times and the pain. For in all this, God refines us and draws us closer to Him. So today I praise God for my wife and ask for her to be lifted up in prayer, as she continues to endure trials that leave me agonizing to stand in support. The trials do not present any serious long term harm, just ongoing difficulties that are difficult to endure, with no answer or end in sight.

Personal Reflection: A gift on this day

Today is a day where God saw fit many years ago to bring into this world the person who became my wife and partner.  It is hard to fully put to words the thoughts, yet God created and gave life to my wife, Liz Blake.   God knitted her together in the womb.  Now it is hard to comprehend what God’s thoughts were when he knitted her together. Was I on his mind when he formed her in the womb?  How does the variance of our wills come into play?  These are answers we do not have as get lost in the complicated quagmire in the paradoxes of understanding God.  I know that today, on this day, God brought Liz to this world and she would one day become my wife.  Now we have moments of joy and pain, struggle and ease.  Yet, God has touched me through her, and I believe her through me.  So I thank God today for the gift of my wife, born many years ago on this day.  So today is a day of thanksgiving and blessing.  Even in thinking about God’s blessing of Liz, my thoughts go to my life journey, the ups and down, the moving past defenses and fears to get to the point where we are today.  God knew Liz needed a man like me as her partner and mate, and vice versa.  Please take time today to thank God for Liz, whether you know her or not.  Take time to thank God for the ways he as blessed you, even if times are tough and struggles and grief cloud your views.  For God is love, and he delights in seeing how we respond to love as our stories play out.  Also please take time to pray for Liz and what God has in store for her in the year to come. If you know her, find a way to bless her and wish her a Happy Birthday.

Thoughts from a Funeral: Do you fully love?

My wife plays piano and as such at times I get privileged to attend things like other peoples weddings and funerals that normally would not attend.  Tonight I was at a funeral of  Josephine “Josie” Foy mother to a member of New Joy church, David Foy.  The church is the one I am a member of and had asked for prayer for the pastoral search earlier this year.  I don’t recall if I ever met Josephine in my time around the Foy family, but I don’t think so.   Being around funerals or intense emotion is always intense for me as I take on the emotions that are there as an empathetic response.  The funeral was touching and one that did present a sound Gospel message as well.  The special music was touching and fitting of the event and those mourning the loss certainly must have been touched.   The funeral as a whole touched me as well, particularly the Eulogy David Foy shared and the bit of this woman’s life.

Josephine “Josie” Foy apparently lived a hard life and her father was physically abusive. She was a simple woman with limited skills.  David may the point that why her skills may be limited she always gave her all.  She gave everything she had into trying to raise her children in difficult times and much poverty.  She poured herself into her children.   So the first way I was touched is to reflect on the importance of total giving of self to God.  If we do not give fully of what God has given us and walk in true surrender we fall short of genuine response to God.

Another point that touched me from what David shared in the Eulogy was his description of Joyce as content.  He indicated that  whatever she was asked she responded “I’m fine.”   He suggested that her reply was not the simple polite exchange but a true reflection of her state of mind, for her she was always fine regardless. 

The third element David shared about his mother that touched me, was that he was uncertain until just before she died of her position in Jesus.  His wife Heidi years ago and been led to share Jesus with his mom and her significant other and they at that time, opened their hearts to Jesus.  David had doubted the sincerity of that encounter until his mother assured him that she was ready to die on all levels, meaning she was right before God.

Now all that is interesting but the most powerful element learning about David and his mother was his telling about his reaction to the fact that as children his mother had given away David and his sisters and they moved on to foster care.  David talked about confronting his mother as a young adult and being able to let go of bitterness because he learned that her action was one of self-sacrifice and love.  She couldn’t care for the children herself so she gave them away.   This story really points to the importance of perspective.  When looking at things from our own eyes and pain we can view things that were done of pure love, to be something done out of evil.  We have the view that no one who loves another would cause pain or abandonment.  Yet, here, David’s mother Josephine Foy gave up David and his sisters because she loved them enough to recognize they needed more than she could provide.  And ultimately God has used that story even to this day with David’s Eulogy of his mother, and the impact on myself and others. 

Ultimately from this story the over all message is that of the importance of loving totally, giving all of self.  Josephine gave her all at great personal loss and even becoming the object of anger because of love.  She did not hold back.  Her life reflected brightly God’s love.  True, she likely made many hurtful choices that came from self, but she also reflected God’s love even before she had entered His Kingdom.  In reflecting on  1 John 4:7 (KJV) comes to mind:

Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.

Josephine Foy before officially entering the Kingdom of God, showed pure love.  When she was presented with the opportunity to turn fully to God, she did not hesitate and accepted it so easily it left lingering doubt.  Yet, the quick acceptance seems to flow  from the truth of this verse.  Those that love are born of God and know God and when told of how to reconcile fully to God, there is no real hesitation as the state of heart being centered on love accepts what is known in the heart as true.

Now to wrap this article up, please consider to take to heart the life of Josie Foy.  Love God and others with all that you are and by so doing reflect God’s love.  In so doing you will learn more about God and grow in intimacy, for intimacy with God is known in how we love.