Impress. Talk. Tie. Bind. Write.

Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates.

Deuteronomy 6:4-9

I was recently doing my usual nightly “fast dash” clean up before bedtime – which means that I try to get as much as I can cleaned up and put away in 20 minutes or less. This time “limit” is just a mental thing for me because if I don’t set some kind of goal I will be up all night organizing and doing more than necessary because I tend to lose track of time when I am cleaning. I have to pace myself or I will inadvertently wear myself out. It’s amazing how much clutter and what a huge mess two big people, two little people and a big dog can make in just a couple of days.

Anyway, I digress. The point of this story is that in the course of cleaning up, I found something that needed to go back in big C’s backpack for the next day of school. While I had her bag, I decided I would “de-clutter” it as well. She has a tendency to find “treasures” on the bus and on the ground at school that get put in the zippered pockets. As I was throwing out broken pencils, rocks, wilted flowers (i.e.: weeds) and old hair clips, I found among the treasures a rolled up piece of paper like a scroll that was bound with a bright blue rubber band. I recognized the rubber band. It came off of the asparagus I had cooked a couple of weeks before. I was just about to toss this all in the garbage but at the last-minute, I decided to take off the rubber band and unroll the paper to make sure nothing of importance was on it. This is what I found:

I got a little emotional because my daughter’s words are so beautiful but even more than this, I was filled with an overwhelming conviction. My 7 year-old little girl is applying scripture in a practical way in everyday life. The scripture Deuteronomy 6:4-9 (see above) came flooding to my mind. She was literally writing scripture down so that she would remember to obey the Lord’s commandments and “tying” them to her belongings. Maybe the amazing kids leaders and pastors at our church told them to do this during a recent lesson, I don’t know. But still, it blew me away.

When I looked up the verse, it was interesting to me that along with the part I had remembered; there were words that I had forgotten – “These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children.” Impress them on your children. That word, “impress” sounded really important and since I have children, I need to know what exactly that means I am called to do. So, I looked up the definition.

Impress [v. im-pres; n. im-pres]

1. to affect deeply or strongly in mind or feelings; influence in opinion.

2. to fix deeply or firmly on the mind or memory, as ideas or facts.

3. to urge, as something to be remembered or done.

4. to press (a thing) into or on something.

5. to impose a particular characteristic or quality upon.

All of those definitions could be used in this Biblical reference. “Influence them with scripture, fix the words deeply into their mind, urge them to remember these scriptures, press the words into their lives, impose this feeling upon them.” Even though there are several variations of meaning, each one could work. Which is why I think the writer used that word. It is a word that has great depth of meaning. It reveals to the reader just how important it is to keep God’s commandments and love Him with our entire being – so much so that we can’t help but talk about them with our children…a lot and write them all over the house and on our belongings so we will remember and so it will be hard to forget God’s words. Impress the words. Talk about them. Tie them. Bind them. Write them.

The Message version says it like this: “Write these commandments that I’ve given you today on your hearts. Get them inside of you and then get them inside your children.” I love how descriptive and visual that version is. We are to get scripture on the INSIDE and have it on the inside so much that it starts overflowing out of us at all times – even when we are just sitting around at home, out and about, going to bed and when we wake up. I think of it as keeping scripture tucked away in every little nook and cranny of our spirit so that we can’t help but have some escape…trickling out every so often and overflowing on those around us, including our children.
So, I am off now to write some scriptures on my door, my forehead or maybe even on a sticky note wrapped up with a rubber band to put in my purse!

Categories: Mommy Musings, Spiritual Reflections, Writing

For Better. For Worse. Forever.

April 12, 2003

My husband and I have an anniversary coming up. It has been nine years of marriage and ten years of togetherness. It has been better and worse than I ever thought marriage could be. We have had struggles and trials that have made us question everything. There have been moments when we fully realize that what we went through the first several years of our marriage probably would have made a lot of people give up. When we explain just a fraction of what we battled during the first years of marriage, some have made it clear that they wouldn’t have blamed us if we had called it quits.
But we didn’t. We persevered. Even on days when neither of us wanted to, we CHOSE to love. We chose to stay. We chose to fight for our marriage. It was nothing we did on our own, of course. I truly believe God gave us the strength to continue in hope. He surrounded us with strong believers who wanted our marriage to succeed, who loved on us, prayed over us and mentored us. We would not be where we are today if God had not brought specific people into our lives at exactly the right time. And I don’t think it’s hard to see that He has fully blessed us for being faithful to Him and to our love. He has blessed our marriage in ways I can’t describe in words. It is not perfect nor will it ever be, but we have found that the past couple of years have been better and more fulfilling than we ever believed marriage could be. Instead of a “seven-year itch,” our seventh year of marriage was when God came in and cleared away so much of the debris that had been weighing our marriage down. We feel more love for each other than the day we got married. Because of how much we have been through together our love is deeper, richer and more meaningful than I believe it would have been had we not walked through the valleys.
I am not writing this out of pride but actually out of a deep and personal humility. On this month of my anniversary, I want everyone to know the meaning behind the obligatory Facebook anniversary “status.” I don’t want anyone to think everything is perfect, that we have it all together and then possibly get discouraged about their own marriage. Marriage is so hard and it takes work – a lot of work. But it is worth it. I hope to encourage couples to keep going – no matter how long you’ve been married. Fight for each other. Don’t let the enemy win. It will never be a fairy tale but God has big plans. And it will be more than anything you could have ever dreamed on your own.
Marriage has brought out the worst in my husband and I at times. But it seems like our culture wants us to keep that hush-hush and put on a pretty, fake facade. We definitely felt this way for years. We tried to keep our “junk” hidden – where the problems grew and festered, only getting worse and worse. It is not a topic that people freely bring up. It is so hard to be vulnerable – even with your own spouse. But we started attending a church where we learned how to do life differently – especially when it comes to relationships. We sought counseling. We were mentored and we grew. We learned about how important the word “grace” is. And we started giving it more and getting it more. I know that if we hadn’t gotten to this point in our marriage, the current season of life we are in would have been significantly worse.
So, here’s to love that lasts and marriages that are full of God’s unending grace. Grace that fills up the dark and empty spaces that we don’t know what to do with. Grace that gives us renewed love for one another every single day. Here is just a fraction of my thankfulness…
I am thankful for a husband who walks with me in my darkness. He finishes my sentences when I can’t find the words. He sees the pain in my eyes when no one else notices. He is my best friend. He finds optimism when I can only see negative. He worries about me. . . constantly. He holds me when the pain is too much to bear and lets me cry my frustrations out on him. When I’m talking to friends, he whispers the word I am looking for when my brain cannot do it for me. He is always scanning my face for what my body might be enduring at any given moment. He lets “it” go so that the argument will go away too. He reads my every movement. He listens to my complaints. He makes Lyme jokes when we are with friends to get the 800 pound gorilla out of the room. He remembers for me when my memory has faded. He vacuums for me when he knows my body needs to rest. When I can only think of “relapse,” and “permanent damage” he talks about “remission” and “new treatments.” He gives me hope. He prays healing over the disease. He lets me sleep in. He makes me coffee and breakfast. He is not upset if dinner is not ready when he gets home and we have to order out. He puts up with my mood swings and my days of self loathing. He takes the girls to school because he knows how hard mornings are for me. He leaves work to be with me during IV treatments and sits for hours because he knows I’m scared – even if I said I wasn’t. Before falling asleep, he tells me to wake him up if I need anything, even if I just need to talk.
This is love. Real – Tough – Messy – Powerful – Life giving – Peace giving – Grace giving – Forgiving – Uplifting – LOVE.
Thank you, Ryan for your love, patience and your dedication to our marriage. Thank you for fighting so hard when many things were stacked up against us to fail. Thank you for enduring this “in sickness” season of our marriage along with me with so much grace. I could never do it without you. I love you.
Happy 9 years. To us.

Categories: Memories, My Journey With Lyme, Spiritual Reflections, Writing