Cleaning Up the Debris…

Week 4, “Tearing Down Lies”

Second of 2 Parts dealing with STD’s and Pornography

When Gary and I were dating, our choice to live apart and abstain from sex until after marriage garnered questions from more than one stranger. Often the conversation would begin with an innocent question such as, “What will you be doing this weekend?”

During that time I loved the challenge this question brought to the table! My eyes would twinkle as I’d respond, “My fiance is driving up for the day, and we are….(fill in the blank with “going to the beach”, “going to the park”, or whatever we were planning).”

Their startled reaction invariably went something like this: “You mean you don’t live together? But you do sleep together, don’t you?” (Yes, total strangers would ask such questions!)

Since my response was, “No, we believe in waiting until after marriage for that.”  The final question would be, “Well, then how will you know…uh…if…uh…things…you know…will work fine between you?”

It brought me pleasure to state truthfully I wasn’t worried, because we serve a big God. Since he brought us together, he would take care of that as well.

On one occasion, as a young man from the car rental agency ferried me from the rental place to my vehicle, we had the above conversation.  But because of time, I was able to also share the beauty of knowing my fiance waited for me, even after having been sexually active 25 years in his prior marriage.  Adding, I was so important he’d willingly forgo his own pleasure to wait until we’d fully committed ourselves before God and friends in marriage made me feel very special.  I shared how that willingness gave me a sense of security, knowing if he’d go that far, he’d also be less likely to cheat on me later if/when things got hard.  That young man having never thought of such things, said he found it important enough he needed to take time to contemplate my ideas further.

What Does the Bible Say?

19 Now, the effects of the corrupt nature are obvious: illicit sex, perversion, promiscuity, 20 idolatry, drug use, hatred, rivalry, jealousy, angry outbursts, selfish ambition, conflict, factions, 21 envy, drunkenness, wild partying, and similar things. I’ve told you in the past and I’m telling you again that people who do these kinds of things will not inherit God’s kingdom. Galatians 5:19-21 (GW)

18 Stay away from sexual sins. Other sins that people commit don’t affect their bodies the same way sexual sins do. People who sin sexually sin against their own bodies.

1 Corinthians 6:18 (GW)

21 I’m afraid that when I come to you again, my God may humble me. I may have to grieve over many who formerly led sinful lives and have not changed the way they think and act about the perversion, sexual sins, and promiscuity in which they have been involved. 2 Corinthians 12:21 (GW)

But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart. Matthew 5:28 (NLT)

What Should Be Our Response?

As the body of Christ, we have an awesome gift to offer the world.  Today’s culture has no idea they can wait, and that waiting can make for more healthy marriages later on. They’ve never heard that God’s laws regarding sex and marriage are for their own benefit, and that in abiding by them, they will less likely face STD’s, the issues of pornographic addiction, and the heartbreak stemming from repeatedly giving yourself away intimately to those willing to take but never commit.

Rather than blush, thinking of abstinence as “archaic”, we can confidently share the beauty of waiting.  We can  live out the reality of marriage representing Christ and his church. Christ’s grand sacrificial love providing a home,  name,  and heritage to a bride so below him,  and a bride so in love she willingly saves herself for his return and their union. We can also share that within even this perfect union there are at times great struggles and conflicts as we grow in coming to know him more intimately, and as we wait for the full benefits of our relationship.  (Ephesians 5)

Will this still all the waves pounding at our culture? No,  but it will help strengthen two of its greatest foundations – marriage and family. It will also rescue some from being swept away by the pounding lies of our culture.

We as the hands and feet of Jesus have a responsibility to tell the truth, because the truth is what sets men free.

With love and prayers,

Robin <3

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Harmless Ripples or a Devastating Tsunami?

Week 3 of “Tearing Down Lies”

One of my favorite activities when camping at the lake as a child was to skip stones.  The skill is two-fold. First you must find the flattest, smoothest stone. Then with a proper flick of the wrist, skim the stone across the top of the water at just the right angle. The goal is to have the stone “skip” as many times as possible.  I think my all time best was about 6 skips. My stones were small, and therefore the effects on the surrounding lake were harmless.

Very unlike skipping stones, on March 11, 2011, an earthquake rocked Japan, causing a massive tsunami. Over 18,000 people died, and the damage to their nuclear power industry was still being felt as late as 2016, 5 years after the disaster. The total effect on Japan was devastating, but there were smaller, less devastating effects from the shift of the earth’s plates from Norway to Antarctica. Extremely high waves swept one man out to sea, and damaged harbors and tourist areas along the West Coast of North America and Hawaii. Debris from the tsunami washed up on the shores of North America up to 2 years later according to Life Science.

Crashing Against the Walls of Our Culture…

As I watch our culture spin out of control, the above exemplify for me how we so often categorize behaviors and ideas as harmless as skipping stones when they are really far more devastating than the effects of an earthquake causing a tsunami.

Two such ideas are:

“What I do with my body is my business.  And what I do in the privacy of my home affects no one but me.”

Maybe we don’t realize the magnitude of the danger associated with “my private business” because we minimize the importance of our actions, and the lasting effects on those around us.

Some of the debris washing up on shore from these tsunamis are:

STD’s…

Our children used to be taught engaging in sex outside of a committed marriage would cause great harm. Now they are taught that engaging in sex is their “right”, and a necessity in dealing with their urges. They aren’t warned that in spite of “safe sex” they are at a very high risk for STD’s.

According to the CDC, more than half of all STD’s are now contracted by our 15-24 year old children.  The CDC considers it such a threat, their website opens with banners stating that Gonorrhea is becoming resistant to drugs, and Syphilis is on the rise at alarming rates. They estimate 2.86 million cases of chlamydia and 820,000 cases of gonorrhea occur annually in the United States with 10-15% of these cases developing Pelvic Inflammatory disease and infertility. Most cases have no symptoms.

In 1960 there were only 2 STD’s and now there are 25, according to Dr. Ray Bohlin, siting statistics from data gathered by the Medical Institute for Sexual Health of Austin, Texas. His report sited that these diseases effect 5% of our population, with 63% of new infections effecting those under 25 years of age.

Pornography…

Our society teaches our young people that curiosity with pornography is normal.  They aren’t warned that pornography’s addictions feed a massive industry utilizing mainly women’s and children’s bodies to sell their product.

According to Safe Families, in 2003 there were 1.3 million pornographic websites comprising 260 million pagesThe total porn industry revenue for 2006: $13.3 billion in the United States; $97 billion worldwide.

According to Focus On the Family, recent statistics show teen addiction rates are absolutely staggeringMore than one in five children has access to pornographic websites. By college, 87 percent of men and 31 percent of women view pornography on a regular basis. And, close to half of American households have reported pornography is a problem in their homes.

What’s the big deal?  Pornography relegates sexual “intimacy” to a one sided fantasy with the page or photo becoming the partner.  That photo never say “no”.  It always smiles. It always agrees. It never feels pain, remorse, or rejection. Therefore, one living out their fantasies with porn develop false ideas of what sex should be and how a sexual partner thinks and behaves. Again, according to Focus On the Family, women become “objects” without feelings, a “sport” to be won and conquered, and a “commodity” that can be bought and sold.

The effects of pornography on our society are staggering! It is a major factor in the growing sex trade in the US. It also factors in the rise of STD’s, along with the destruction of marriage and the family. Not to minimalized, it also contributes to the rising medical costs associated with all of this.

The Truth…..

Everyone is effected by choices made in private.  And, the effects of those private choices will be felt for generations.

The Church…

So, what can we as the church in America do about it? We will continue this discussion next week,  but for now:

  • Remember that behind each statistic is the name of someone’s daughter, son, or parent. Pray for these torn families.
  • Consider your own private choices, and how they are affecting others.
  • Talk with your children about their private choices.
  • Don’t use this opportunity to begin pointing fingers, for the Lord God looks to us first.

Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14 (NIV)

“Father, I see the devastation all around me, and I often blame society, the schools, or anyone but me. Forgive me. Give me a heart to shine your pure light, and flavor my world with pure salt, mingled with extravagant love.  Thank you.  In Jesus’ name, amen.

With love and prayers,

Robin <3

 

 

 

 

How Do I Deal With Grief?

I’m in a bit of a mood this week, saddened by the death of my friend.  Praying much for the family, grieving with them as friends.  And remembering……the time I was where they are now.

Really, it can’t help but bring back memories.  And it can’t help but cause my heart to want to pour out all I would long to tell them, if I could.  All I would long to tell their closest friends.

“This is what grief looks like from the inside – no matter what it looks like from the outside.”

“This is what you may experience.  You may feel like you are going crazy, but no, you aren’t crazy.  It’s just grief.”

Yes, things will come back to a new, beautiful normal, in time, because of Jesus.”

“Friends and family – this is how you can help. This is what they may need you to understand.”

So, dear ones.  Please join me this week as I tackle pieces of my own story – and how God has taught me to deal with grief.  I may get teary eyed a bit, and so may you.  Especially if you’ve been there.  As the week progresses, if something tugs at your heart – share it.  If you disagree with something I say, or have a differing viewpoint – we all come at grief from differing personalities, and vastly varying experiences. So please share.  If you find these posts beneficial and know of someone going through it right now – please share with them.

Finally, if this brings up your own story of grief, I would love to share your sorrow.  I would love to pray.  Feel free to let me know.  The contact form below if for those moments when privacy is desired, but total isolation is not.

Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows… Isaiah 53:4

With love and prayers,

Robin <3

Worth the Wait

Gary and I will be married 5 years this Fall.  We’d both been married before – successful, long-lived marriages of over 25 years each.  We’d both learned a thing or two about marriage before we wed.

But like all couples, we’ve had our rough moments since the wedding day.

We are a cross-cultural marriage, Gary having lived in the mountain regions of Kentucky and West Virginia much of his first marriage, where he and his first wife spent their lives together in ministry. I grew up in the Midwestern suburbs, and spent several years of my first marriage traveling the world with my first husband’s job.

Gary a country boy at heart, and I a city girl by experience.

He loves to dress up jeans and a t-shirt with his favorite baseball cap; and I love to wear jeans with a nice blouse, jewelry and sometimes a hat.

But we both love Jesus, knowing he’d brought us together – looking forward to the day we’d serve him side by side.  We’d both lived through loving and being loved by a spouse no matter the cost.  For each of us, the cost was watching our spouses become ill and die. We’d both persevered watching our sons struggle with the death of their other parent.

We’ve both weathered and grown through some pretty harsh life experiences. The experiences we share, are also the experiences that we don’t share – each so similar, yet so different.

Blending our cultures and experiences hasn’t always been easy, and for the first year was especially difficult.  So many misunderstandings between 5 people, and so many new ways of doing things. I’m so glad we were reminded before we married, that all couples, no matter what, go through a time of getting used to the new norm.

As I remember those early days, I revel in the time we now share:

The boys are now out of the home – grown and choosing their own way.  We celebrate their adulthood, and enjoy this new season of life.

Gary and I for the first time in our marriage are alone in the house – and are enjoying it immensely!  We cherish this time together!

I’m so glad we waited for this time, and didn’t give up when things were difficult!  The difficulties we forged through together have only made this time sweeter!

For everything there is a season,
    a time for every activity under heaven.
A time to be born and a time to die.
    A time to plant and a time to harvest.
A time to kill and a time to heal.
    A time to tear down and a time to build up.
A time to cry and a time to laugh.
    A time to grieve and a time to dance.
A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones.
    A time to embrace and a time to turn away.
A time to search and a time to quit searching.
    A time to keep and a time to throw away.
A time to tear and a time to mend.
    A time to be quiet and a time to speak.
A time to love and a time to hate.
    A time for war and a time for peace.

What do people really get for all their hard work? 10 I have seen the burden God has placed on us all. 11 Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-11 (NLT) (emphasis mine)

Are you currently in a difficult season, my friend?  Unable to see the end from the beginning?  If your life has been given over to Christ’s lead, then trust and wait.  He never fails to keep a promise.

What is today won’t be forever.

God will make all things beautiful, in their time.  He promises.

While you are waiting through this season, do you have a support system of godly people to uphold and encourage you?  Attending a local church where Jesus is worshiped, and families are made, is so critical to making it through all seasons!

Let me know if I can pray for you.

With love and prayers,

Robin <3

 

Re-post, Introducing Me

This is actually found by perusing the categories at the top of my opening page.  I’ve decided to re-post it because I’ve made some necessary changes.

If we intend on having coffee regularly, or even on occasion, I’d love to get to know you better.  I figure it’s only fair you get to know me as well.  I won’t take up too much of your time, but please let me tell you about myself.  I also figure because we will, on occasion, converse about topics that may hit close to the heart, I thought I’d answer some questions you would ask if you could.

Why did you decide on “En Courage”?

Life isn’t easy, and we all need a good dose of courage now and then!  I know I do.  I want this to be a safe community, where you can encourage and be encouraged when life is at its toughest.

Do you wonder sometimes how you are going to make it?

Do you wish there was someone who understood the cries of your heart?

Do you need hope that there is more to life than the immediate heartaches and struggles?

Do you need to know, this moment, that you aren’t alone?

This space, our table, is a good place to find some courage and hope for the heart during those hard times.

What allows you the ability to write about the hope that you speak of, with such conviction?

I’ve experienced some of the hardest of life and have found where hope and courage to keep going can be found!

Being a teenager for me wasn’t discovering boys and enjoying proms. My pre-teen and teen years were hard enough that I’ve often said I would either be dead, or have lapsed into very unhealthy life choices, were it not for Jesus and parents who taught me about the beauty and power of a relationship with him that protected and carried me.

Raising an adopted son with moderate to severe autism, from 5 years old has brought more challenges, heartaches, and joys than we ever could have imagined.

Losing my first husband to melanoma in 2008 after 25 years of marriage is probably the greatest challenge I’ve ever faced.  It was a 2 year illness that slowly seeped his life away.

Blending two families who have each been through much trauma and heartache since 2012, has had its own challenges.  My son has lost 2 previous families and now a father.  My step sons, also adopted. lost a previous family, and a mother. My husband and I have each lost a spouse to death.

Yet, in all of this, I have come to know a God who is alive, extremely loving, immensely gracious, overwhelmingly compassionate, and powerfully able to change lives.  Because of him, I have found a hope that is enduring.  I want to share that with any who will listen!

What will I gain from spending time with you on “En Courage”?

Through sharing the stories, struggles, and victories of life, I want you to discover there is hope.  Not when you have it all together.  Not when you can finally fix yourself or others. But when you are at your weakest, and when life is darkest.  Because Jesus is safe.  Because His love is relentless. Because He powerfully made a way for US.

I would love to hear from you!

As we sit over coffee, and you begin to feel more at ease, please share your heart and stories with us.  Either at the common table for all to read, or in the quiet of a private email.  email.rlseaton@gmail.com

With love,

Robin  <3

Even Though I Can’t “Fix It”

When my deceased husband and I adopted Evan at 5 years old, he struggled greatly, as anyone would.  We mistakenly thought, however, that love, and our “vast wisdom” would eventually fix everything.  It didn’t, but with time, God is.

There is a huge difference between being there for someone in their struggle, whether it be fear, anxiety, stress, or in this case adoption; and thinking I can “fix it”. I was very naive, and a bit arrogant (well maybe a lot arrogant),  but don’t we all go there at times?  Don’t we all think we can “fix it” for us or someone else?

I don’t know why, but it took a lot of years, a lot of heartache, and shear exhaustion before I began to realize I can’t fix anyone’s life for them.  Truthfully, I can’t even fix my own.

Even though I can’t fix it, Jesus can.

I often, without meaning to, want a quick fix because I want relief for myself or my loved one.  Yet God sees the bigger picture, longing to make us whole and free, completely lacking nothing – in spite of our circumstances.

So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free.  John 8:36 (NLT)

Relief is a cheep substitute for Freedom.

So, what can I do to help?

  1.  Stand with my loved one, no matter how hard it gets.
  2. This is not too big for God – keep my focus on God as I pray for their focus.
  3. Pray for their endurance and strength, asking the Holy Spirit to do His loving good through the struggle.
  4. Worry is just another form of “fix it”.  Yield it to God.
  5. Stop pointing out how they can “fix it”.  Words, even wise ones, can eventually become no more than ugly noise.  Pray for their receptivity to his voice, and be quiet.
  6. Never say, “It will be all right”.  It may never be “all right”.  Rather pray that they become able to experience a very loving God, and see his magnificent plan emerge from the ashes of what they now experience.
  7. Ask for God’s wisdom regularly.  Speak in his timing with the words he longs for them to hear.
  8. Remind them (and yourself) regularly of God’s magnificent promises.
  9. I may need to step back temporarily to regain perspective.
  10. If the situation becomes toxic, I need to trust if God says “let go”.  My letting go doesn’t mean God has.  It may be the very thing necessary to bring the healing and wholeness I long for them to experience.

And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.

16 Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. 17 And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father. Colossians 3:15-17

I’d love to hear what you’ve learned.

With love,

Robin

A Most Faithful, Compassionate Ally

This past summer, I saw the faithfulness of God in a very intimate way.

I published a post last July entitled “I Do Matter“.  The article referred to a conversation with my now grown adopted son that came about because of a book I was reading entitled “The Primal Wound.” Through this book, I was learning many kids traumatized by adoption (even those adopted from birth), don’t consider their adoptive mom as “Mom”, because they somehow innately remember their birth-mom.  It made me wonder what Evan would say, and because of a comment he’d made weeks before stating I never let him tell the truth, God’s Spirit prompted me to give him the opportunity to be real. However, I wasn’t prepared for his answer.

His response of ‘no’ (I never considered you my mom) along with all I was reading brought to the surface such crushing pain as I hadn’t felt in years. In the middle of the swirling flow of emotions that followed, I began to lose sight of my Lord, and felt very alone. Unable to rise above the overwhelming waves, even Sunday worship, a time where I’d normally find great solace, became difficult. One Sunday as I attempted to worship, my eyes filled with tears, and in that moment, I sensed God’s presence intimately, and uniquely.  I knew he’d heard my pleas, and wanted me to know he was there.  He cared.

During a morning walk days later, I remembered words I’d heard on the radio that morning, “Maybe the battle you think you need to win isn’t without but within”. As I recounted those words, I prayed, “Lord, I understand you may want me to fight this battle rather than remove it.  But, if you would, please hold me right now.  If you don’t think that best, I understand.” Suddenly, as though God heaved his own pain-filled sigh, his voice inaudibly spoke, “My child, if you only understood I’ve been holding you all along.”

“My child, if you only understood that I have been holding you all along.”

God is a faithful, compassionate ally.

Isaiah 42:1-4 ““Look at my servant, whom I strengthen.
    He is my chosen one, who pleases me.
I have put my Spirit upon him.
    He will bring justice to the nations.
He will not shout
    or raise his voice in public.
He will not crush the weakest reed
    or put out a flickering candle.
    He will bring justice to all who have been wronged.
He will not falter or lose heart
    until justice prevails throughout the earth.
    Even distant lands beyond the sea will wait for his instruction. (NLT, emphasis mine)

Those verses were written hundreds of years before Christ was born, yet they speak of him.  They proclaim his compassionate faithfulness, even in the most desperate times.

My healing is coming slowly, and with it a depth of relationship with my faithful, compassionate ally that I never would have imagined.

Lord, I’ve seen your faithfulness, and know I’ll continue to see it.  Please, for those reading who feel like weak reeds nearly broken, and flickering candles nearly snuffed; reveal yourself as the one who never falters or loses heart as you care for your injured ones so compassionately.  Please show yourself faithful.  Thank you!  In Jesus’ name, amen.

With much love,

Robin <3