Bloom Where You Are Planted

….regardless of the circumstances of life….


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Day 20

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1.  The wind…it reminds me that, even though I can’t see God, I can still FEEL Him.

2.  Tomato soup…who knew that was good?

3.  Slippers on cold days

4.  A clean house that doesn’t smell like dog or armpit

5.  Provisions


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Truth and Honesty: My Story

When I was in the world of dating (thanking the good Lord He saw fit to bring Big Daddy into my life and I am no longer dating!)….my theory was “go out and get as many free meals/movies as I can.”  How stupid was that?  By having that mentality, bad things happened….really bad things happened by a guy I was “in love” with.  He was a master manipulator and I was young and naive…I loved the idea of being in love.  I would have walked over hot coals for him and, in a sense, I did.  Now, I have forgiven him for his choices and I have moved on.  The things that happened have made me who I am and it has allowed me to minister to women/young girls who are in mentally abusive relationships.  Would I have chosen that path for myself?  No.  Did my parents choose that for me?  No.  They didn’t even know until I was well into my 30s.  Did the Lord choose that path for me?  No….but there is freewill and this man was not a believer.

I was blessed with Big Daddy in that we caught each others eye immediately.  We met in January 1993, started dating in May, engaged in September, married in June and a family soon followed as I was pregnant within 7 months of our marriage.  Most people didn’t even know we were dating and we came up engaged!  I brought A LOT of baggage into my relationship with him, whereas, he had never dated anyone :)  He didn’t deserve that baggage.  Had I been patient and waited on the Lord and followed that “lamp unto my feet” (Ps. 119:105), I would have been spared severe trauma.  My marriage would have been different, I would imagine.  The Lord knew who I needed and He provided him.  He has blessed me with 21 years with a man that I adore though drives me bonkers (keeping it real)!

I remember looking at him and giving him a list of things I would NOT do (I will cut my hair if I want, I will wear what I want, I will wear or not wear make up if I want, I will not be submission, I will not be a doormat, I will not walk behind you, I will speak my mind and if you don’t like my opinion you can Hit.  The.  Road.)  Bless his sweet heart.  He would just stand there and stare at me.  I’m pretty certain he was waiting for my head to start spinning and pop off.  I guess the mental/emotional abuse had just come to a head, in me.  My mama always said that I kept it all in until my belly got full and then people needed to look out because I was gonna explode and it was gonna lack all kinds of tact or grace.  I do that…I keep things in.  I try to handle things myself without letting the outside world in.  I keep my emotions in check and I lack tear ducts, so crying is rare for me.  When I do cry…it is U.G.L.Y. it ain’t got no alibi its UGLY!

For my kids….I want different for them.  I want them to know themselves.  I want them to be solid in who they are in Christ.  I want to keep them from physical and mental harm.  I want to hold the keys to their hearts until that one day, that the Lord brings a person to them….a person who is their forever.  That person, however, has to earn the key to their hearts.  Big Daddy and I will hold this boy (or girl’s) feet to the fire and we will ask the tough questions.  We will give them impromptu life lessons.  We will make sure they have a relationship with the Lord.  In the end…whether a potential suitor is here for a bit or for a lifetime…the most important thing is the assurance of this person’s salvation.  I want my kids to know that emotions come from the Lord and Jesus, Himself, experienced emotions (another post to follow on this subject).

If a potential suitor is not willing to follow some rules, then they are not the person for my child. If they can’t handle the fire, then get out of the kitchen.  We are talking about the heart of my children.  The single most important thing my children will ever decide is to whether or not to follow Christ.  The second biggest decision of their lives is who they will spend the rest of their days with (or they may choose the blessing of single life). I am not going to mess around with either one of these decisions.  Our job, as parents, is to guide and to instruct.  We have to teach and be an example.  I fail every single day.  Big Daddy fails every single day, but we can admit our failures and we can move on and learn from them.

We have rules, as parents, and our children should have their own personal convictions on certain issues.  These convictions rise from how they were brought up and their relationship with the Lord, but some come from life experiences that they may not want to repeat.  Thankfully, I only have one child in the “courting” realm and another wanting to be in the “courting” realm.  The other 4….they are too young :)  Bug is okay with some stuff (ie hand holding or side hugs)…she isn’t okay with kissing, tickling, prolonged hugs, or any sort of intimacy (which should be held off till marriage).  This ideal may change for her.  We are not telling her DO NOT do this this and this…we do, however, remind her that she must look to Jesus to fill any emptiness and that any amount of physical touch is giving a part of her heart to this boy and it can open herself (and him) to certain things that can never be taken back.  If he is NOT the one the Lord has in mind for her future, then she is holding hands, etc with someone else’s husband.  Dramatic?  Maybe. Truth?  Absolutely.

So much of what I wanted to save for my husband was taken from me.  It was not voluntary.  I didn’t just come to him with small pieces removed from my heart…I came to him with giant chunks missing and parts of my heart just blackened and dead.  The wounds of these things have healed, but there are still scars that I must contend with…eventually those scars fade.  I am thankful that Bart came to me with his whole heart…fully intact.  I am also thankful that that the Lord extended a tremendous amount of patience and love for me.

Once your purity is taken (in my case) or given (in most cases)…..you can’t get that back, but the Lord can restore your choices.  You can re-commit to the Lord to remain pure until He sees fit to bring you the one that He chose for you.  Love yourself enough to make that commitment, but be prepared to struggle with it.  That pandora’s box has been opened and satan will use that to tempt you on every level. Whether that temptation is through a new boy/girlfriend, pornography, graphic photos in magazines, sex scenes that show up on your favorite shows…he will remind you of how good it feels and that there is nothing wrong with “feeling” good.  That, my friends, is a lie straight from the pit of hell.  God meant for sex to occur between people who have committed their lives to each other and to God.  It is meant for the marriage bed, not for the backseat of a car with a stranger.  When you do that latter….it messes with your head….it chips away at your heart….it leaves you constantly trying to fill that void.

I hope and pray that my children are patient and wait on the Lord.  Will I love them if they choose differently or make mistakes?  Uhm, yes!  There is not question about that.  God will still love them too, plus He has already forgiven them for past, present and future sins when He died on that cross because my children all have accepted Jesus in their sweet little hearts (all except for one and he is young :) )!  It will grieve His heart and it will grieve our hearts but that grief doesn’t replace the tremendous amount of love I have for my children.  Sex isn’t just about getting pregnant, nowadays.  There are lifelong diseases that can occur or even death if those diseases go untreated.  I certainly don’t want that for my kids.  Oh, I wish the Lord would just return and we could all live in the new Heaven….then this whole point would be moot.


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So Sweet

I am blessed to know these two people.  The love they have for each other and for the Lord is so precious.  You can see in his eyes and hear in his voice how he feels about his lady. So excited to see this next phase in their lives with their precious new one.  You two are a blessing, indeed!

Guys, who read this, let the Lord fill your heart first.  Once He fills your heart, He will bring to you the “one” that is your forever.  Lead your lady even before you are married.  Ask her how you can pray for her.  Grow in the knowledge of the Lord as individuals and as a couple.  Be the one that is the Spiritual leader when you are courting, engaged, and married..do not put her i in a position that has to be the one that says “let’s do a Bible study, let’s pray together, how can I pray for you?”  She is your helpmeet, not the leader.  She needs to secure her position firmly beside you and she needs to lift you up.  You have the hard job.

Girls, let the Lord fill your heart.  Do not settle for someone who is not going to take on the role of Spiritual leader.  Your job is to be submissive, loving, edifying, and to lift your man up.  If he says “can you find us a good Bible study,” then find one!  If he is willing then you can take the time to ask around and find a study that is good for you both.  Make sure you ask him how you can pray for him.  Be intentional.  You need to have your own, personal walk but you two also need to grow and walk together, spiritually.


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Day 19

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1.  Transparency

2.  Long oversized sweaters

3.  Zest soap…dangit it smells good

4.  Lima beans…I do love them

5.  Christmas lights strung all over people’s houses…I’m thinking like the Griswalds!


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Truth and Honesty: Courting Questions

This is a LONG list…edit it to suit your needs.  I have added Scripture references, I’m sure there are some references that I have missed…so feel free to comment and let me know.

What are your habits with regard to Bible study?

Bible Study

What is your opinion of personal witnessing?

Witnessing

What would you say is your spiritual gift(s)?

Spiritual Gifts

Describe your relationship with your father?

Do any mental or emotional illnesses that could affect your children run in your family?

Describe your relationship with your mother?

Can you describe your relationship with your grandparents?

Can you describe your relationship with your friends?

Friendships

Are you consistently faithful in fulfilling your commitments?

Commitments

Do you show a regular willingness to serve others?  In what ways?

Serving Others

In what ways is self-centeredness expressed in your life?

Self-Centeredness

Are you ever manipulative of others?

Manipulation

What kinds of situations cause you frustration?  How do you respond?

Frustration

What circumstances might make you impatient or angry?

Impatience

How do you handle anger?

Anger

Have you ever been violent?

Do you raise your voice when angry?

Have you ever had to deal with a broken relationship? If so, please provide the details of that relationship, how long ago, the situation, and how did you handle it?

Relationships

Do you have any physical or mental disabilities or diseases?

Any allergies?

Prior or current health problems?

Do you drink alcohol? If so, what and how often?

What are your views on alcohol?

Do you smoke?

What are your views on smoking?

Are your spending habits disciplined?

Do you tithe?

Tithe

What is your view of debt?

Debt

How would you describe your work ethic?

Work Ethic

Do you have a high standard of excellence?

Do you tend to be either slothful or a workaholic?

How many hours per week do you work?

What is your discipline in studying?

Do you read regularly, and if so, what?

Who is your favorite author?

Outside the Bible, what would be your five favorite non-fiction books?

Five favorite fiction books?

What are your habits regarding sleeping?

Are you lethargic?

Are your sleep habits irregular?

Do you follow a regular schedule?

Are you organized?

Would you consider yourself neat or messy?

What is your practice regarding personal prayer?

Prayer Life

Do you tend to be more of a leader or follower in life?

In making decisions, what role does God’s Word play?

God’s Word

What is your attitude toward women/men?

What is their purpose?

What is your view on the role of a spouse?

Role of Wife

Role of Husband

What are your views on women working outside the home?

What are your views concerning divorce and remarriage?

Divorce

Can you tell me your thoughts on how a man should provide for a wife and family?

Can you tell me your thoughts on how a man should protect a wife and children?

How do you feel about guns?

How do you see your future relationship with your in-laws working out?

What has been your prior experience with dating and romance?

Dating

Have you ever kissed or been physically intimate in any way with a girl/woman? If so, explain the circumstances.

Premarital Sex

How do you relate to children?

How often are you around children?

What are your thoughts regarding birth control and family planning?

Birth Control

Family Planning

How many children do you hope to have?

What is your attitude toward adopting children?

Adoption

What are your views on child training, including corporal punishment?

Discipline

What are your views on homeschooling?

Homeschooling

What are your thoughts on family worship?

What would be the key attributes of such a practice in your home?

When you fail someone, what actions do you take to rectify the situation?

Forgiveness

Are you honest?

Honesty

Do you ever slant the truth for your own benefit?

http://www.openbible.info/topics/lying

How have you prepared yourself for marriage?

Preparing for Marriage

In what ways do you think you may need to grow before marriage?

What does “leave and cleave” mean to you?

Leave and Cleave

Are you prepared to put your wife first, before all others, including your parents?

Do you use offensive language?

Speech

Do you watch television, R-rated movies? PG-rated movies?

What were the last five movies you watched?

What kind of music do you prefer?

What kind of music would you find offensive?

Have you ever been exposed to pornography? If so, explain the extent and the circumstances.

Pornography

What are your views on homosexuality?

Homosexuality

Do you currently use any type of drugs? Have you in your past? If so, explain the extent and the circumstances.

Do you have any financial debt? If so, explain the extent and the circumstances.

Have you ever been in trouble with the law? If so, explain the extent and the circumstances.

What tendencies do you have toward prejudice or racism?

Prejudice

Racism

Have you ever had periods of rebellion? If so, explain the extent and the circumstances.

Are there any unsettled issues with your parents?

What is your attitude toward pets? Indoor? Outdoor?

What are your political leanings?

What is your general attitude toward civil government?

What is (are) your favorite sources for news?

What are your interests, hobbies, talents?

What are your income producing (vocational) skills?

What do you value most highly in life? What next?

What do you tend to do in your spare time?

If “your” daughter were marrying “you,” what cautions would you have?

What are your thoughts on alternative medicine?

What are your thoughts on immunizations?

Do you prefer to live in the city, suburbs, town, or country; farm, seaside, mountains, or desert? Why?

Describe a typical week day in your life from start to finish.

Describe a typical Saturday in your life from start to finish.

Describe a typical Sunday in your life from start to finish.

Do you have a personal timetable for marriage? If so, what is it?

What type of education are you hoping that your future spouse will have?

List the five most important characteristics of a spouse (for you personally).

List any characteristics or personality traits that would bother or irritate you in a spouse.

**These questions were first found at http://yoursacredcalling.com/blog/courtship-questions-for-potential-suitors/.  I edited some of them and I added Scripture**


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Truth and Honesty: Dating

My oh my…..parenting is SO hard….when you are in the bliss of baby making you don’t think about the teen years and all the drama that is going to ensue because you want a large family and you want your kids to be close in age.  You can take super cute pictures of them all dressed alike…march them out of the mini van, forming a line behind daddy and trailing him like little ducks.  It is such a sweet sweet image.

Then, the image shatters.

Puberty has hit.

Run for cover.

Call your parents and apologize for being born.

Jump in the storm cellar.

Batten down the hatches.

Arm yourself with lots of coke, cheese, and bags upon bags of cheese flavored items.

Push the button that not only keeps you in the cellar…but more importantly, keeps your psycho kids out!

Then, in 5-6-7 years when the locks move and the door opens…light will hit your face and you will see images of those sweet children, now grown, looking back at you.

You will be sitting in a corner, on a sugar high from all the coke, with permanently orange fingers and face….you will be clutching your last bag of Doritos.  Your tongue will be raw from licking all the cheese off and surrounding you will be empty coke cans and lots and lots of cheeseless chips.

That is sort of where I’m heading.  My oldest, who will be 19 next week (good gracious) is branching into her own.  She is odd, quirky, laughs at herself, trips up stairs, coffee loving, oven burning, mission minded precious being.  Then, there is that boy that just won’t leave.  The kid will not leave.  I have done everything I know to do besides yelling GO AWAY!  I DON’T LIKE CHANGE!  That would be rude ;)

They are approaching a time when tough questions need to be asked and answered.  Let me tell you right now, we are not the Duggars. I do like them.  I do watch them.  I want to be a fly on their wall because it can’t always be lollipops and unicorns at their house.  If it is….I need a piece of whatever it is they are eating!

We have rules.  We court more than date because I want as much of my daughter’s heart, to go to the man that she is going to marry, as  humanly possible.  I want her to guard herself and to follow in what the Lord says about dating and marriage.  I don’t want her to give away more than she needs to with a person that may not be in her future.  I pray that the Lord gives each of them a clear direction and vision because hearts are getting vested and before anymore “vesting” happens…they need to know where each other stands on certain things.  Important life issues.

Big Daddy and I didn’t do that…heck…most people didn’t even know we were dating before we were engaged….We met in January, dated in May, engaged in September, married the following June, pregnant the following February…we moved fast.  We learned the answers to all these great life questions AFTER we were married.  That probably wasn’t a wise choice.  That is where I admire the Duggars because they do talk about the tough stuff and if you don’t have the same views on things and can’t compromise on the things that you differ on…then you need to move on down the road.  The Lord has someone better prepared for you.

You can’t stake your whole life and your whole happiness and your whole joy on one person.  That person will disappoint you.  That person will fail you. That person will upset you and let you down.  That person is fallible…not perfect…the only Person to find your joy and happiness in is the Lord…that’s it.

How is your walk?

What are you studying?

What has the Lord revealed to you?

Who is holding you accountable…because it really doesn’t need to always be your significant other?

This person needs to be one step ahead of you, Spiritually, and of the same gender.

Do you have a mentor?  Who is older than you that you can talk too and learn from.  My mentor is 80 years old and she will put me in my place faster than I can blink my eye, but she also ALWAYS points me towards the Lord.

Who are your friends?

Are they believers?

Do they lift you up and edify you?

What are you watching/listening too?  Is it edifying because crap in is crap out.

If that person were to say “this is too much too fast” will you go down into a swirly twirly depression that you can’t get out of?  If that answer is yes…you need to back off and look to Jesus.

Do you edify your “other” person?

Do you talk about Scripture?

Do you pray over and with that person?

Do you study the Word alone and then do a couples Bible study with that person?

Are you the Spiritual leader of this relationship?

These are all very important questions that need to be answered as individuals and as a couple.  I may post some other “dating/relationship/courting” types of questions that really get you thinking about what you want out of life and what you want out of a potential mate.  I’m not saying have your daughter (or son) hand this list over to any/everyone they are interested in…but if the talking continues and you see hearts moving then it may not be a bad idea.  I would rather my kids take this list, answer it immediately, then take their answers and compare it with what Scripture says to see what matches up and what needs to be prayed over and know themselves before jumping into a relationship.  I would also like to see their suitors (male or female) do the same and then they need to come together to see where Scripture lines up with their answers.  If you don’t agree or can’t compromise, then let it go gracefully and remain friends.  There is no harm or foul in that.  If the answers do line up or compromising can happen, then this might be the person the Lord has for you!

Be wise and discerning.

Know who you are in Christ and what He has done for you.

Look to God to fill your emptiness.

Know, love, and accept yourself.

Be firm in your faith.

Be willing to grow.

Let God be the head of you.

Know your role in a relationship.

Hold each other accountable and then have your own accountability partner.

Compromise.

Love.

Forgive.

Show mercy.

Say you are sorry.

Be willing to let go.

Make sure the hole in your heart is filled by the only One who can fill it and do not look towards your mate to fill it.


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Day 15

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This is a bit of a repeat, but he is worth repeating….

1.  His love for the Lord

2. His love for his children

3. His intense love for me

4. His eyes

5. His nice butt :) (hey, after 21 years…he still turns my crank!)

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