Tuesday, October 31, 2006

"Sacred Marriage - What if God designed marriage to make us holy more than to make us happy?"

"Lowered Expectations" was a Saturday Night Live skit in the past. It spoofed all the self help, I'm happy, your happy stuff that was going around back then. But, its applicable now, without the spoofing, when you think about your role in your marriage. It's definately something I'm working on, lowering my expectations. Not of me, but what I expect out of Brandi.

I have a tendancy to get upset with Brandi or with a situation when the issue or scenario doesn't go exactly as I expected it to go. (Stop laughing...) So, what I'm working on is lowering my expectations. See, I have discovered that I don't always hold myself to the high standard that I hold Brandi and others! OUCH!

The book by Gary Thomas called "Sacred Marriage", really helped me get in this direction. In a round about way, it let me know that Brandi isn't messing up, she's just giving me the opportunity to be more Christlike. She provides situations that test whether or not I respond with love, mercy & grace. Then I figured out that I haven't arrived at perfection yet and I do my part in presenting Brandi with opportunities to practice being Christlike. (Seriously, it ain't funny...)

So, what if God designed marriage to make us holy more than to make us happy? How are we doing? I realized that Brandi will help me on my way to being Christlike the most because I hang out with her the most. I've also discovered that adding Jada will TRIPLE my opportunities to be Christlike! YIKES! I outta be walking on water by Spring! (Just kidding, of course).

I'm glad the bible makes it clear that its a long road to Sanctification and its not expected the moment we're saved. Sometimes, I can't even see the end of the road to Sanctification, but we have to keep on walking that road. I recommend that book to help you on the way.

Just found this article from "Focus onthe Family" that does a better job of expressing what I just tried.

Monday, October 30, 2006

The Value of the Local Church

Back in 2000 when Brandi and I first started attending HPC, it was a culture shock. We come from a "different" kind of church and HPC was certainly, from our perspective, a different kind of church. We knew that we were supposed to be there, but we were uncomfortable with the new way of doing things. We are very careful not to criticize the church we came from. There is no value in that. We weren't running from anything, we were just invited and felt we were supposed to stay. We're pretty glad we did.

Our participation in our local church turned out to be an invaluable asset as we walked through the last 6 years of our lives. The resources we were exposed to really helped us stay on the right path. Our Pastor and staff stated from the pulpit that they do not have the best preachers, but we have been reached during their sermons. I guess the Truth has a way of finding us, when we're looking.

First of all, we have learned how to grow closer to Christ and take advantage of all the tools He has for us to be able to make it through this life. We have discovered that there is an abundant life available to all who seek it and are able to take advantage of it. We have been able to strengthen our marriage while serving in the Marriage Ministry. We know this was a very important step as we were about to fight through our fertility issues for the next 6 years.

Our friends from HPC have been there for us. Praying for us, encouraging us, guiding us and keeping our heads above water. If there wasn't life being poured out form the pulpit and from the leadership at HPC, our friends wouldn't have God's Spirit to work through them to help us. We believe the annointing flows from the Head. So, we are thankful that the Pastors and Leadership at HPC have a heart to minister to the needs they see.

I've said before, it is very scary to imagine the last 6 years without the spiritual foundation we've been able to build at our local church. That's where is all starts. I know some people have been hurt by churches or church leaders. I know that the only exposure to churches some people have is the reporting of scandals on the TV, internet or newspapers. But, there is value in being a part of the local church.

See, Brandi and I haven't arrived yet. We've still got a COUPLE of things to work on. But, thanks to the gathering of believers at a local church, we can take advantage of other people's talents, gifts, and callings to stand in the gap for us in our time of need. It's all about the Body of Christ. One part can't function without the other. The parts work together to carry out its function.

So, a strong shout out to the many people who have been part of our lives for the past 6 years. Thanks for being the Body!

The Lamberts

Friday, October 27, 2006

Half My Life

Today, October 27, 2006, is me and Brandi's 17 year "dating anniversary" and marks the day that Brandi and I have been together 17 years or half my life. Two years ago, we celebrated her "Half My Life" anniversary.

This one is probably the sweetest considering the incredible journey we've just finished by adopting Jada. I can write forever about what we've been through the last 17 years, but I'll just say that it has been really incredible growing up with Brandi. We were 15 and 17 years old when we started dating and now we're 32 and 34 years old. We married at 19 and 21 years old and moved off to South Carolina when I was in the U.S. Navy. We've experienced a lot together.

Things only got better in 2000 when we rededicated our lives and our marriage to Christ at Healing Place Church. It has been great to see how God has blessed us and how He has prepared us and provided for us in each season of our lives and marriage.

There's a lot of things I can say about Brandi, but I think this sums it up:

Proverbs 31: 28-31
Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: “Many daughters have done well, but you excel them all.” Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, but a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her own works praise her in the gates.

I'm very excited and looking forward to what's ahead of us.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Personal Finance - Consider This

I'm sure we all have asked God for an increase in our finances. It would seem that if we had a little bit more income we would have some relief in our situation. But consider the parable of the talents. At the end of the parable it suggests that we have to be good stewards of what He has given us at first, and then He will give us more.

So, that may mean we should try to be at peace and be content with what we have now. That should be the first goal. Jesus is in the changing heart business. I think He would like to change our hearts, not our income. I think He would rather us be good stewards of what we have before we ask for more.

After all, we should be moving toward relying on God first, not our finances. He should be our source, not our income. Would you rather have less income with more faith in God's provision and providence or wealthier with less reliance on God?

We might say, "But, if we make more, wouldn't we be able to give more to the Kingdom?" But, we've all been taught that if we are not givers with our little pile of money, what makes us think we'll be givers with a big pile of money?

Do you know that you can be a giver, but not be a cheerful giver? Remember, God doesn't want our sacrifices (tithe/offerings), he wants us to have merciful hearts and know Him more.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Parenting - Husbands Beware

I work rotating shift work, so on my days off, I have the awesome opportunity to take care of Jada some days. It's been a rollercoaster ride since we've been home. After 13 years of DINKing it, (Double Income No Kids), we now have a 15 month old to take care of. Major life change.

I now have a new appreciation and a wakeup call I'd like to share with husbands. Childcare is HARD WORK!! I hope to shed a little light on husbands that are in the dark. If you're not in the dark and you understand what it takes to maintain a household with kids, than congratulations and pray for those of us who were or are still in the dark.

I have experienced what it's like to chase a 14 month old around the house all day for several days while the dishes in the sink, clothes in the hamper, trash in the can and dust on the floor pile up! See, at that age, you just can't walk away from the infant/toddler and do these chores. Nap time isn't enough time to catch up either, especially when you have the opportunity to nap yourselves.

If you're like me, you've heard horror stories of the stay at home mom working it all day and the husband comes home and waits for dinner while "resting" from his hard day's work. The fact is, the work of an domestic engineer is never done! So, if by some chance any of you guys have been slacking in helping out the wife with some of the household duties, step up!

It's not only physically tiring, its emotionally tiring. Even though its an awesome opportunity to teach, mold and discipline your child, you tend to risk losing your cool when the clothes, dishes, trash and dust are piling up and you can't get the infant/toddler to LISTEN!!

I've heard the value of a stay at home mother to be anywhere from $50,000 to $130,000 annual salary. That's fair. I encourage husbands to consider the physical, emotional and spiritual load that comes along with maintaining a household.

Help out and even better, show your appreciation. Say, "Thank You", send some flowers, treat her to a meal. Do something, she's earned it.

Seven Year Itch?

I'm back to blogging outside the adoption blog. Things are sort of settling down with Jada. She's adjusting very well and we may just be gettin' into the groove very soon.

I took a Sociology class on the family 2 semesters ago and we talked about an interesting statistic. In surveys about marriage and divorce, the highest divorce rate occurs between the 2nd and 3rd years of marriages. Yes, that means the 7 year itch has decreased down to 2 years.

This little facts is one of the reasons I like working with engaged couples at HPC. We mentor engaged couples using "Preparing For Marriage", a bible study by Family Life. It's a GREAT tool for helping engaged couples discuss issues before the wedding. Helps to minimize the 'surprises' that can sneek up on newlyweds.

It's obvious that marriage is under major attack in the social and spiritual arena. Divorce rates are similar for church goers and non church goers. I can't think of a better ministry to serve in. Just think how important it is to have a Christ centered marriage. A strong marriage can help you serve the local church with your time, talent & treasure. A strong marriage can help you be better parents to your children by being a living example God's intention for marriage. A strong marriage can give you the peace and confidence to excel at your profession. A strong marriage is pleasing to God, it honors God and most importantly, laying down your life, your needs and wants is mirroring the image of Christ to your spouse. Being Christlike is always a good thing to do.

Need a marriage checkup? We all do. I really encourage you to take advantage of the many tools available through your local church or Christian literature that can help you take your marriage to the next level. Christ came to give us life and life abundantly, that includes our marriages.