Sonderjourneys

Sonderbooks

Sonderquotes

Sonderblessings

God Heals Hurting Marriages

Squeetus

Saints and Spinners

Brotherhood 2.0

Book Buds Kidlit Reviews

A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy

NeverEndingSearch

Unshelved

Monday, July 16, 2007

Feeds

Since I've decided to do my posted at my new blog location, www.sonderbooks.com/sonderjourneys/, I've decided to use this location to track interesting websites. I'm going to start adding feeds to this website, and then I (and you!) can easily click on the entries to read more.

Monday, July 02, 2007

My Sonderjourneys blog has a new location

I've decided to move my Sonderjourneys blog into my main website, Sonderbooks.com.

However, I decided to keep the Blogger website, and I've put RSS feeds into it, so now you can use this site to track entries to my other four blogs--Sonderjourneys, Sonderbooks, Sonderquotes, and Sonderblessings. You can click on the entry to go to any of these blogs you are interested in.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

God doesn't give up on us.

A verse struck me this week. I realized that we can give up on God all we want. We can turn our backs on Him. We can tell Him it's OVER!

But He will never give up on us.

In Jeremiah 31, God tells us that He has heard Ephraim's moanings of repentance. Before we can ask Him--"But will you forgive? Ephraim totally turned his back on You. You can't forgive that can you?"--God answers:

"Is not Ephraim my dear son,
the child in whom I delight?
Though I often speak against him,
I still remember him.
Therefore my heart yearns for him;
I have great compassion for him,"
declares the Lord.


May we learn to show the kind of forgiveness that God shows toward us.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Winged Joy



He who bends to himself a joy
Doth the winged life destroy.
But he who kisses the joy as it flies
Lives in eternity's sunrise.
--William Blake

A Refreshing Thought

Recently, at Home Fellowship, a friend pointed out the beautiful words of a song by Casting Crowns: "How refreshing to know you don't need me; how amazing to find that you want me" ("In Me," from Casting Crown's album, Lifesong).

I got to thinking. Isn't that how all our relationships should be? Yes, we should rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep. However, if our well-being and very life is all wrapped up in someone else, isn't that the path to codependency?

There's a sense where I start feeling that if I truly wanted my marriage to be restored, I wouldn't be happy until it IS.

However, now I also feel God is asking me to Rejoice in the present. And that should be no surprise. I mean, He asks all Christians to rejoice always (Philippians 4:4). We're supposed to be anxious for nothing (Philippians 4:7). And over and over again in the Psalms, David tells God all his troubles--and then rejoices as He is reminded of how wonderfully good God is, despite the troubles David's going through right now. ("You have made me see troubles, many and bitter, but you will restore me again. From the depths of the earth you will again bring me up. You will increase my honor and comfort me once again.")

Psalm 4 comes to mind:

Answer me when I call to you, O my righteous God.
Give me relief from my distress;
be merciful to me, and hear my prayer....
Many are asking, "Who can show us any good?"
Let the light of your face shine upon us, O Lord.
You have filled my heart with greater joy
than when their grain and new wine abound.
I will lie down and sleep in peace,
for you alone, O Lord,
make me dwell in safety.


I think, in relationships, we need to hold each other with an open hand. Yes, I love my husband. I so want him in my life. But that's a much healthier place to be than desperately needing him, and refusing to be happy without him. God needs to be enough for me.

God will not be at all lessened if I don't love Him. That's refreshing. However, to my amazement, He loves me and He wants me.

Although I want my husband to be happy; I want my marriage to be restored; and I want us to share life together again--God's showing me that I need to look to God to meet my needs, and if my husband does not want to meet my needs, I need to let him go. I need to rejoice in the blessings God is pouring out upon me and go on with the life God has called me to live.

But I can still want him. I can still pray for him. I can still remember the wonderful things about him, admire him as a father of my sons, and treasure the beautiful memories that we do share. I can still wish him well and wish him joy.

Refusing to be joyful when the one you love is not with you or is not happy is not love--It's emotional blackmail. And I don't think ANY parent will ever get through the teen years if they refuse to be happy when the children they love are unhappy!

It sounds harsh to say that you don't need someone you love. But in the end, I do believe, our dependence needs to be upon God. People will always let you down, in big ways and small ways, and it's not valuing them to let them ruin your life.

This morning, I looked back on the wonderful book, How We Choose To Be Happy, by Rick Foster and Greg Hicks. This paragraph jumped out at me:

If you're blaming someone, you're looking backward. It is impossible to look backward and forward at the same time. My focus is on learning from the past to make the future better, not on punishing someone for what happened. It's a waste of time (page 61).

In The Great Divorce, C.S. Lewis has George MacDonald, in heaven, explaining why he was wrong on earth about universal salvation. (A little unfair, I might add!) "It must be one way or the other. Either the day must come when joy persists and all the makers of misery are no longer able to infect it: or else for ever and ever the makers of misery can destroy in others the happiness they reject for themselves" (p. 121).

Earlier in this passage, he talks about "the demand of the loveless and the self-imprisoned that they should be allowed to blackmail the universe: that till they consent to be happy (on their own terms) no one else shall taste their joy: that theirs should be the final power; that Hell should be able to veto heaven" (p. 120).

In the past, I've thought this argument rather strong. Indeed, he's explaining what I'm trying to say here--that just because one we deeply love is unhappy does not mean that we have to be unhappy.

However, I think now I see the fallacy with regard to universal (eventual) salvation. The whole reason we can rejoice, even when someone we love is going through hell, is knowing that, one day, God's love will reach them. One day, though it be an eternity away, they will know how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ. And then their joy will be so complete, and our own joy will be all the more complete.

It's not that we don't care about their suffering or that their suffering doesn't matter. It's knowing that a loving God will bring great good out of their suffering, showing them His tremendous love, just as God has done for us.

In her book, The Irrational Season, Madeleine L'Engle shares some truly wise thoughts on marriage:

To marry is the biggest risk in human relations that a person can take…. If we commit ourselves to one person for life this is not, as many people think, a rejection of freedom; rather, it demands the courage to move into all the risks of freedom, and the risk of love which is permanent; into that love which is not possession but participation....

I’ve learned something else about family and failure and promises: when a promise is broken, the promise still remains. In one way or another, we are all unfaithful to each other, and physical unfaithfulness is not the worst kind there is. We do break our most solemn promises, and sometimes we break them when we don’t even realize it. If a marriage has to be the pearly-pink perfection suggested by commercials for coffee or canned spaghetti sauce or laundry detergents, it is never going to work…. I can look at the long years of my marriage with gratitude, and hope for many more, only when I accept our failures.

It is a free relationship, but it is built on promises. Like every other couple we break our promises one way or another, but we take the breaking of the promises seriously; the fact that the promise has been broken does not make us permissive about breaking it again; instead, we try to mend. We have used an extraordinary amount of glue.

No long-term marriage is made easily, and there have been times when I’ve been so angry or so hurt that I thought my love would never recover. And then, in the midst of near despair, something has happened beneath the surface. A bright little flashing fish of hope has flicked silver fins and the water is bright and suddenly I am returned to a state of love again—till next time. I’ve learned that there will always be a next time, and that I will submerge in darkness and misery, but that I won’t stay submerged. And each time something has been learned under the waters; something has been gained; and a new kind of love has grown. The best I can ask for is that this love, which has been built on countless failures, will continue to grow. I can say no more than that this is mystery, and gift, and that somehow or other, through grace, our failures can be redeemed and blessed.

Not possession but participation.
Hmm. Sounds a lot like wanting someone, but not requiring them to meet my needs.

May my own failures be redeemed and blessed. And may I not fail to rejoice when God asks me to rejoice--and then blesses me to make it easy. He is good.

Psalm 119:74-76

May those who fear you turn to me,
for I have put my hope in your word.
I know, O Lord, that your laws are righteous,
and in faithfulness you have afflicted me.
May your unfailing love be my comfort,
according to your promise to your servant.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

The View From the Top


Okay, the Climb IS a Bit Difficult!





Here's me, starting out on the hike.





This is a bit further along the path!

Worth the Climb!





A climb up a waterfall is definitely hard--but so worth it!

How Hard Is That?

I'm not visiting castles any more, since I'm living in America now. However, life is still a journey. God has been teaching me a lot lately, and I find I learn a lesson better when I write about it. So I'm going to start blogging about the journey of life, throwing in some castle pictures as I go.

I'm currently reading through a book by Joyce Meyer called Battlefield of the Mind: Winning the Battle in Your Mind. I'm reading a chapter each morning while eating breakfast. It doesn't seem like brilliant new ideas--but they are still ideas I need to hear and be reminded of.

This morning I read Chapter 18. She's going through "Wilderness Mentalities"--attitudes that kept the Children of Israel in the wilderness for 40 years and that also keep us figuratively in the wilderness much longer than we need to be. Today's chapter was called "Please make it easy; I can't take it if things are too hard!"

I was especially struck by this paragraph: "Even when we are determined to press through and do something, we spend so much time thinking and talking about 'how hard it is' that the project ends up being much more difficult than it would have been had we been positive instead of negative."

The reason that paragraph hit me was that just a couple of days ago, my friend and I were commiserating about how often our sons complain and complain over schoolwork. By the time they stop complaining about how much they have to do or how hard it is, they could have finished the schoolwork three times over! Watching it frustrates us to no end.

However, reading this, I realized that I do exactly the same thing--about life! I think about the things I feel God is specifically asking me to do at this time in my life:

1. Don't brood over past hurts. God forgives, and God can beautifully handle any lessons that the ones who hurt me need to be taught.

2. Don't worry about the future. God can handle it.

3. Rejoice!

Okay, those jobs don't really sound terribly hard, do they?

So why, why do I hear myself telling people how hard it is to carry these out? Why do I say, "It would be so much easier if I could just say, 'To hell with that person!' and get angry and put them out of my life." Now there's a lie of Satan!

Okay, maybe as far as doing it goes, brooding and resentment is easier. But as far as being easier on me, easier on my body, easier on my well-being, easier on my relationships, rejoicing is unbelievably easier!

Now, even with that said, it's one thing to say, "Don't brood, forgive." and quite another thing to do it. Joyce Meyer speaks to that issue, too. She says, "Things get hard when we are trying to do them independently without relying on God's grace. If everything in life were easy, we would not even need the power of the Holy Spirit to help us.... He is in us and with us all the time to help us, to enable us to do what we cannot do--and, I might add, to do with ease what would be hard without him."

After I read that, I got to thinking that it's not like this journey through a crisis in my marriage and separation from my husband has not been hard. It's unquestionably been the hardest time in my life.

As I was thinking about that, she continued on: "Sometimes God leads us the hard way instead of the easy way, because He is doing a work in us. How will we ever learn to lean on Him, if everything in our lives is so easy that we can handle it by ourselves?"

Going back to the Children of Israel, she says, "He took them the harder way to teach them Who He was and that they could not depend on themselves."

Amen!!! In the end, the harder way is worth it. However, when the way starts getting easier, let's not try to make much of our "suffering" and complain about the hard road. When the path starts being easier, don't waste your time talking about the big mountain you see coming up or complaining about the peak you just climbed. Be quiet, rejoice in a downhill stretch, and start walking! :)

Let's see, next I'll post a picture of a castle at the top of a waterfall. We had a steep, steep climb to get there, and then a gorgeous view rewarded us at the top. Climbing back to the car was much easier--but being tired still made it hard. How annoying, though, it would be to spend the whole downhill climb complaining about how tired we were!

Friday, May 11, 2007

Rainbows

Back in November 2005, the week after my husband told me he wanted a divorce, I went to a Writer’s Conference in Paris, where I’d be meeting up with some dear friends. (Described below.)

On the way to the train station, I prayed earnestly about my marriage and about the conference. As I was praying, I looked up and saw a beautiful rainbow shining over the way I was traveling. I laughed and decided I should take it as a sign that both the conference and my marriage would go well.

The trip to Paris ended up being one of the best weeks of my life. We even had sunshine and warmth in November! When I got home I told people that I hoped the rainbow was also a sign that my marriage would be restored—and soon after, I saw another one.

Fast forward to April 2007. My husband is in a literal far country, with no signs of softening toward me. However, I have gotten many signs from God that he will come back, and God is going to make him a spiritual leader. When I learned that my husband (in the military) is coming back to my state—still 3 or 4 hours away, God told me, “Don’t worry. I will take care of it. Simply rejoice.”

Still, I had these niggling worries in the back of my mind that maybe all this was just my own wishful thinking.

Then, one Sunday morning, we were singing a song we’ve never sung before in church. It was “I Can See Clearly Now,” with a Christian verse put on the end. The second verse goes like this:

I think I can make it now, the pain is gone.

[My thoughts: “Yes, God’s getting me through!”]

All of the bad feelings have disappeared.

[“Well, most of them!”]

Here is the rainbow I’ve been prayin for.

[“Oh, yes! Remember that rainbow on the way to Paris! And it really did come true as a sign of a wonderful week in Paris! I hope it’s also a sign that my marriage will be healed and become a thing of beauty!”]

It’s gonna be a bright (bright), bright (bright) Sun-Shiny day.

["Remember how sunshiny it was in Paris, even in November? That was such a gift of God. Wouldn’t it be neat to pray for a rainbow right NOW? But that would be silly, and not really fair. Of course God can’t give me a rainbow now. I mean, come on, we’re inside! Besides that, it’s already bright and sunshiny, so there’s no way a rainbow could even shine through the back window. This isn’t the sort of day when rainbows appear. But it would sure confirm that my marriage is going to be restored. Well, I’ll just thank Him for a bright sunshiny day and the wonderful memories from Paris. I won't test God by asking Him for something impossible"]

We finished the song, but were still standing and singing. A woman walked in, and chose a spot (still standing), a couple of rows ahead of me, smack in front of me, with no one in between us.

Immediately, I noticed she had an Eiffel Tower on her colorful blouse. I always notice Eiffel Towers. Her back—with the Eiffel Tower standing tall over an impressionistic scene—was in full view of me. “How pretty!” I nudged my son, “Look! Paris!” Then I kind of gasped.

Because it was kind of impressionistic, but the blouse definitely had rainbow colors in a curved sort of shape over Paris.

Just when I had been thinking that God couldn’t bring a rainbow inside, He did exactly that. I was completely blown away. I don’t doubt it any more. That was far too specific, too carefully crafted especially for me.

God is amazing. I can imagine Him smiling as he sent that rainbow inside, just for me. I can’t wait to see what He will do next.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005


The tower lit up at night. Posted by Picasa

Another beautiful evening out my window. Posted by Picasa