Protecting Your Marriage

I was going to blog on another topic this week until I read the cnn.com article about Facebook and spouse cheating, I couldn’t get that topic out of my head. I read the article with horror and realized how desperately important it is to set boundaries in marriage. Not that I didn’t know that already, being married to a pastor and all, but those boundaries are for everyone, not just a pastor and his family.

Boundaries? you might be wondering by now. What do you mean? Let me explain by sharing boundaries of my own.

A)   I always tell Dan when a man wants to be my friend on Facebook. Why? It keeps me accountable to all the men who want to be my friend and makes me examine my motives on wanting this person to be my friend. It also lessons the reasons for Dan to be suspicious of me (which to my knowledge, he never has, but I do not want to give him reason either).

B)   Dan and I both have each other’s passwords to Facebook and email accounts. Not that we have anything to hide, but it gives a certain level of accountability.

C)   We have permission to question each other if something doesn’t seem right (this is done in a respectful and humble manner, not accusatory). I can’t tell you how many times this open honesty with each other has diffused misunderstandings between Dan and I.

D)   During times of frustration in marriage, it can be easy to go to another person and find understanding from them (especially through emails and Facebook). This is DANGEROUS when you go to someone of the opposite sex. You begin to find yourself attracted to that other person because they understand you while you and your spouse are at odds. Instead, pray, pray, pray, for your spouse. If you need to talk to someone, go to a trusted friend who you know will point you back to your marriage and God (not simply take your side).

E)   If you find your heart and mind wandering towards another person, take those thoughts captive! Spend less time with that person. Focus on your spouse. Be on your knees before God. Fight for your marriage!

A wonderful woman, Mary E. DeMuth wrote a great article about protecting her marriage. Although aimed at those in the Christian publishing world, her advice can be applied to all marriages. Here is the link www.christianfictiononlinemagazine.com/june-09-brilliant_real.html

Marriage is worth fighting for. The scary thing is, you might be fighting yourself.

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The Scariest Words

We just can’t afford to keep you on.

I don’t love you anymore.

It’s cancer.

We’re not prepared for this kind of emergency.

Mom, I’m pregnant.

Some of these words I have heard, some of them I have not. They are scary words, filling one with the wish that they could go back in time and prevent them from happening. But let me share with you what words for me would be the most frightening to hear.

These words came to me a couple weeks before I went to a conference. They were not real, not yet anyway. But they lingered there in the back of my mind. At this conference, I was having dinner with a couple people and someone brought up the question: What is your goal in life? Being creative people with a sense of humor, everyone around the table began to say things like “Become dictator of the world,” and “Go on every roller coaster there is.” I smiled and laughed with the rest until it was my turn. Then I felt God urging me to share those words.

I took a shaky sip from my water, then put down the cup. I looked around the table, took a deep breath and began.

I do not want to get to heaven and have God say, “Morgan, you led a pretty good middle class life. Not many bad things happened to you, you had a nice house, nice car, nice family. But let me show you what your life could have been… if you had let me have my way with it.”

The mood at the table suddenly dropped a couple degrees. People shuffled their silverware around. Someone cleared her throat. I wanted to apologize, but those words were the true goal of my life. I do not want to hear God say those words. Those words would leave me feeling I had done nothing with my life. I lived, I died, and nothing came of it. I want my life to count for more. I want it to mean something.

Now don’t get me wrong. A nice life is not a bad thing. But if in pursuit of that life we miss hearing God’s voice, then we miss out on our lives being something amazing. What good is it to have a nice house, a secure job, a published book if in the end, it was all for me? No, I want my life to count for more. I want it to have maximum impact. And the only way is to hear God’s quiet voice, directing me towards his plans for my life.

And then having the courage to do it.

Lessons learned from a Guinea Pig

Vanilla and Butterscotch

Butterscotch and Vanilla. No, they are not flavors; they are the names of two guinea pigs I own. Vanilla is very vocal, he squeals whenever the refrigerator opens because he thinks I am going to get him carrots. He also loves to be petted and purrs loudly whenever I do so.

Butterscotch on the other hand is a very quiet pig. He looks around with inquisitive pink eyes and never lets his guard down. I can count on one hand how many times he has purred for me (and they were very quiet purrs).

As I was petting them one day, I realized something: how such small creatures had such different personalities. And it made me think of God. God could have made the whole world with only a few varieties of animals and we would never have known. But no, he created a vast amount of life, each unique.

Then I thought about how God could have given each animal a bland personality. You know, all dogs the same, all horses the same, all mice the same. But instead, he infused each animal with its own personality and quirks.  He placed his fingertip on each one and left it unique and special, all for his glory.

I stopped petting Butterscotch and Vanilla. Butterscotch looked at me inquisitively while Vanilla tried to position his body under my hand again.  I looked at them and felt such awe at a God who is so connected with his creation. Even the smallest detail never escapes his eye.

Amazing how God used two little guinea pigs to reveal Himself to me 🙂

In Darkness there is Light

This is not only a tagline for the kind of fiction I write; it is a tagline for my life. When my husband was laid off and went almost a year without work, there was light. When my son became so ill he stopped breathing and had to be lifeflighted to Portland, there was light. When a lump the size of a golf ball was found in my breast, there was light.

It wasn’t a blazing light; it wasn’t a burst of sunshine. The darkness that filled my life during those times felt so overbearing that I felt I would be crushed beneath it. Save for that light. A single, solitary light, like the flicker of a flame above a small candle.

That light in my life was Jesus.

Perhaps it took such dark circumstances for me to see him. It can be hard to see a candle in broad daylight. Perhaps it took turning everything dark around me for me to finally see him, much like a candle in a dark room has a way of grabbing our eye.

But I finally saw the one who in His word says I am the Light of the World. Jesus became more to me than just a quick five-minute devotion time or a prayer thrown up in haste before I went out the door. He became more than dressing up in my best for Sunday or begrudgingly giving time to watch kids in Sunday school.

He became real. And so did I.

Those first few nights after my husband was laid off, I finally told God how I felt. I was real with him. I told him I was scared, angry, alone. And when my son stopped breathing in my arms, I screamed to God I needed a miracle. And when faced with the possibility of cancer not once but twice in my life, I realized how limited life is and nothing but people can leave this world with me.

During the darkest times in my life, I finally saw Jesus as more than an icon for a religion or a distant Sunday school story. The knowledge of him I carried around in my head for years finally sunk down into my heart. Now I can say I finally know God, or at least on the path to knowing him more fully.

There is a lot of darkness out there. But in darkness there is light. And his name is Jesus Christ.

In Darkness there is Light

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