Lance is in America and I am here. I went to church by myself. Greeted fRamily members and new friends. Sat down to the beginnings of a praise song. It was so odd not to hear his booming voice sing along. So strange to not lean over onto his shoulder, or to hold his hand when the Pastor prayed as was our usual thing. I ended up holding onto my own hand and fiddling a lot with my bible. It was unsettling to see the empty chair beside me, I picked up my purse from the floor and plopped it on the chair in an attempt to fill the void. And then, taking my own advice from my last blog: How to Run to Jesus with Arthritic Knees. And I found, “Yet, I am not alone, for the Father is with me!” John 16:32b! What followed were thoughts about the single people in my life, those who face the empty seat every week, and not just at church, but everywhere, even at home.
It wasn’t too long ago I rode the so wrong high horse of judgementalism towards divorces. It was my contention that IF ANYONE got divorced it was completely selfish and if you got divorced it’s because you weren’t trying hard enough. Oh, and, that God hates divorce. And then someone very close to me got divorced and it was very clear that in order to protect her family she did the best thing for them. A mother protecting her children. How can that be wrong? And, turns out, from her ex’s actions and lack of actions, it was the absolute right thing to do. Her church did not help in any way, there was no compassion, support, encouragement, certainly none of Jesus’ grace, mercy or love anywhere. The fall of the high horse was short but painful.
Since then, God has lead me to more beautiful women whose husbands were chameleon Christians at best and abusive at the least. These men seem to hate their blessings…their wives and children. They only want something to show off, or display….is a wife compelled to spend her life these ungodly conditions? Is this what God would intend for the lives of His children?
In the ESV version of the Holy Bible, the oft quoted verse of ‘God hates divorce’, is translated, thusly, “for the man who does not love his wife but divorces her, says the Lord, the God of Israel, covers his garment with violence, says the Lord of hosts. So guard yourselves in your spirit and do not be faithless.” Malachi 2:16. The reason it is not the typically translated “God hates divorces” is because the compliers/researchers/preachers/teachers who put the ESV version together believe that even in the latter translation the emphasis is not that God hates the DIVORCED, but DIVORCES. The ESV Bible has a huge section on how they came to conclude the scripture thusly, which I would encourage you to check out if you are interested. Our problem is we very often hate the divorced, the people. We don’t show any of Jesus’ grace, mercy or love and instead condemn and ride off on our high horse without having done anything except pour verbal vinegar into the existing wounds of the divorced person. In the person who is close to me divorce, no one should have trouble, because her husband was unfaithful numerous times, emotionally abandoned her family, and he was emotionally divorced her when he sent her away. And I’ve met many women since who have experienced the same thing. How sad God must be that when one of His children hurts the most His other children do nothing but righteously judge and kick them when they need HIs grace, mercy and love the most.
The empty chair beside me is a reminder that single people, moms, dads who once had a marriage relationship and participated in church together, must be painfully lonely at first, coming to a place where they once were two and now, alone. My friend, Mel, tells me that even when she was single, never having had the experience of the marriage relationship in church yet, she felt outside, not included. I don’ t think that it’s intentional, it’s just that people are focused on themselves or on those who are obviously doing something wrong – like, in their opinion, getting divorced.
I am glad that God fractured my judgemental attitude towards divorced people. I hope that He will continue to remind me that Jesus’ actions were always full of grace, mercy and love, and strive to have those be my first reactions.
I pray I don’t have to experience the empty seat too often. But, mostly, I pray that His children will love His other children and be listeners, encouragers, supporters. I’m not saying, however, that we should just ignore blatant disregard for His word, but instead, we should be totally absorbed and soaked in HIs word, it should be in our hearts and on our lips. It should be like our language. And, in this attitude, I am sure that those who have to sit with an empty seat beside them, will, hopefully, not be sitting alone for long.
I leave this post with a peaceful picture for you. One I took in Tahiti. Tahiti Sunset. Blessings to you.
In the past two weeks instead of my usual go to comfort mode – food, Jesus urged me to run to Him. RUN to Him because that is where true, lasting, honest, non-fattening comfort is found. I have bad knees from arthritis and some kind of mess up from our bike accident, so actual feet on the pavement running isn’t going to happen anytime soon. But that doesn’t mean my soul can’t run.
There are plenty of Bible folk who ran. I reckon they didn’t have bikes or cars, so getting somewhere fast, involved running. David ran when he had to get away from crazy King Saul. More than once when people recognized Jesus, they ran to him and brought their friends in case anyone needed healing. The servant girl heard Peter at the gate, and was so excited she didn’t open the gate, just turned and ran to tell the others Peter had arrived. The two apostles ran to the tomb when they heard it was empty, one reaching it before the other one because he was faster. (If that little tidbit is important enough to be included in the Word, I’m putting it here). Running, running, running.
I kept hearing this message: to run to Jesus, and so, I did. When I felt overwhelmed, I spiritually ran to Jesus. Kinda sad? Took it to Jesus. Satan whispering my name? Jesus. Really excited? High fiving Jesus. (Which is high fiving myself and saying, ‘we did it Jesus, high five!’)
It’s made a big change in my attitude and put my focus where I know it should be – on He, not me.
God designed us each uniquely. He gave me a love of nature and a love of music. Song really speaks to my spirit. So, while I’m being the clay to His potter hands, and learning how to run, in spite of bad knees, He also gave me a song! It’s called RUN, (of course it is!) by Sanctus Real. What a great God! Equipping me with every good thing I need to be a vessel He can use…arthritic knees maybe, but no arthritic soul.
I don’t have any pictures of me running, so I’m giving you the other favorite: a bird.
Don’t let life get you down, RUN to Jesus! He’s waiting for you!
You know Pinterest, right? Of course you do—everyone knows Pinterest. It's that awesome little social media pinboard website that lets people share all kinds of amazing gems hidden on the internet.
PINTEREST IS OUT TO DESTROY YOU AND EAT YOUR SOUL.
Once upon a time, when your wife volunteered to make a birthday cake to celebrate her mother's and sister's birthdays, she could just throw a can of frosting on top of one of Mrs.
Never before been in a situation where I felt I needed a new word to adequately describe a relationship. Family seemed sufficient for family and friend seemed sufficient for friends. Enemies, yeah, pretty easy to understand. And, then, God gifted us with people here in Australia who aren’t ‘family’ (we are in no way blood related) who are significantly more than ‘friends’. What to do?
Thus the word ‘fRamly‘ was born!
When we lived in the US we had both friends and family. Sometimes we were closer to friends than some of our family members, and some family members only put up with us because we were family, some friends were only friends because of something they perceived they could obtain by being friends. In Australia there are only friends, no family lives here and probably no family will ever come to visit us as it is so far and costly. Back in the US we spent most holidays with family. Our grown children are also our good friends and when you are the Nana and Papa to ten of the most amazing, handsome, beautiful, smartest (they are all geniuses) grandkids, well, you really don’t want to spend time with anyone else. Family is enough. But, with no family here we were a very lonely twosome.
I guess it started when we invited a few friendly souls over for BBQ. Sonja had read my Facebook plea to meet with someone from church and reached out. She’s really to blame for the new word fRamily. Then, she invited us to a Connect group ; a small home group and we met Peta and Cam and their gorgeous daughter Jameson, we met Carmel and Rees and their kiddos, Adam and Corina the twins and their little red-headed boy, and Rachel and Caleb, Jenny and her boys, Mel and Jessu. Soon we were hosting parties and shindigs and invited to places and events and suddenly the heart pain of being so far away from those we loved ebbed a little, because we were/are loved and love folks here.
So here’s to family, friends and fRamily - all whom I love and cherish and appreciate so very much. I’m not sure how long the Lord will have us here in Oz but I’m praying wherever he sends us next, fRamily are already waiting.
Here’s a few fRamily members at our New Year’s Eve Party