Tuesday, June 30, 2009


(be sure to turn off music on side bar before playing video)

I wonder...
Not only what it would be like if we stood firm, as Ephesians 6:10-14 directs us...
but if we dedicated ourselves to standing firm beside each other.

No matter the race, social status, orientation or religion...

What would that world look like?

http://playingforchange.com/ - From the award-winning documentary, "Playing For Change: Peace Through Music", comes the first of many "songs around the world" being released independently. Featured is a cover of the Ben E. King classic by musicians around the world adding their part to the song as it travelled the globe.

Click on the video to read more about this.

Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

1 Cor. 15:58

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

Gal. 5:1

Monday, June 22, 2009

The Best Father of All

Sunday school teacher pulls out white sheets of paper and passes them around the table. I stare down at mine. Blank. Devoid. Like the person I was supposed to create a card for.

I didn't hate Father's Day. I hated the reaction when asked, "What will you draw for your dad?"
"Uh, don't have one. Guess I can make one for Grandpa."

The staggered looks were what got me most. Back then, two parent families were the norm, not blended or single parent families. Then also would come the questions.

"Where is he?"
"Is he dead?"
"Where does he live now?"

All of these I really had no answer for. I wasn't even sure what he looked like. And to explain, or try to explain the stories I'd heard were far worse than keeping silent with a slight shrug of the shoulder.

Had to make him leave...
Hurt mom once to many times...
Never wanted children...

Then one day, one particular Father's day, someone said the right thing at the right time...

"It's OK, honey. God can be the father you don't have, if you'll let him. . ."

Eyes glazed with hope. "Really?"

I was old enough, I guess, to take that to heart. I've never felt fatherless again.

And so began my relationship with my Heavenly Daddy. All I had to do was accept his son Jesus into my life. Then I had a Dad and a best friend. Later, they introduced me to the Holy Spirit, my comforter and guide along life's journey.

I made a Father's Day card this year. As I thought about what kind of picture I could draw, I saw him holding me as a babe. Even then, He was there. I was never supposed to be born. Mom wasn't able to have children. Like Hannah, she petitioned God until he relented and gave into her wish.
Over the years, my heart has connected with His heart. The things I love about him are numerous like the stars. In my picture, I wrote only a few of those qualities I adore about him. The picture could never hold all of them:
Giver of grace and mercy
Has a vision for my future
Keeps promises
Dream maker and giver...

Not long ago, when I was going through a particular difficult time, I sought prayer. During that time, God spoke Psalm 139 over me. I wrote the words in the robe because they now surround me and cover all I do and all I believe.
God, investigate my life, search me and know me...
You are familiar with all my ways...
You know my going out and my lying down
Where can I go and get away from you? NOWHERE!
No matter where I go, you are there
You created my innermost being...
Knit me together...
I am wonderfully made!

Father of the Fatherless. Keeper of all mankind. Lover of my soul!
This and so much more.
My life has never been the same since that day. He's been my constant companion in all things.
I love him more than life itself.
Blessed am I to have such a father.
Best part of all... he's there for anyone else who wants a Dad. He's there, arms open and ready to receive, to hold and to care for all. Orphan or not.

I do hope He likes my card. And I hope it ends up on his fridge with all His other favorite pictures.
God bless!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Faith and Prayer #26

Dear Glorious Saints,

I recently read again one of my favorite Bible stories: the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and the fiery furnace. I have always loved that story and a few years ago the Lord really spoke to me through it. This week God reminded again of the truth of what He said.

The part that really captured me was when they came out of the furnace: “They saw the fire had not harmed their bodies, nor was a hair of their heads singed; their robes were not scorched, and there was no smell of fire on them.” (Dan. 3: 27)

I was going through a really hard time and not handling it too well and I told the Lord, “Not only do I smell of smoke, Lord, I stink!” In His great kindness He said to me, “It’s okay, Marianne. You are still in the fire, but when you come out you will smell just fine.”

What tremendous encouragement that was to me! He was still in the process of burning away the cords that bound me but when He was done, just like the three Israelites, I would be fine.

How grateful I have been for that word through the years. There have been many fires and lots of smoke but I thank Him so much that as I have come out of each one, I have emerged unharmed, looking a little more like Him, and not smelling too bad either!

So I am confident of this: “…that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Ph. 1:6)

Smelling better,

Marianne Paulus is a marriage and family educator. She offers weekly classes in the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex on Marriage Preparation. She also teaches at the Mid-Cities Pregnancy Center.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Paving the Way

Finding a Way to Heal a Marriage
Awake, north wind, and come, south wind!
Blow on my garden, that its fragrance may spread abroad.
Let my lover come into his garden and taste of its choice fruits.
Song of Songs 4:16

When we moved into our new house, the back yard looked barren. It had been neglected and left to grow at will... the clay ground hard and sparse, patches of grass choked with weeds and the many trees blocked life-giving rays of light.
We attempted to fix it up some, adding a covering to the porch, then building a small deck to set the bar-b-quers on. Yet, it still lacked.
Unfortunately, over the past year, we found our marriage lacked as well. Our relationship looked no better than the back yard, hard, sparse and dark. We sought counseling.

The counselor told us that we needed to find something in common. We needed to restore our friendship. He had his hobbies and I had mine... and hardly ever the two would meet.

After trying a few activities... I remain a avid hater of bowling...
and card games...
and sports activities make me nauseous, too...
we prayed for God to show us. Then we both looked out the back door.
So began the Castle's Backyard Pathway Project

Both of us hate mowing. We pay the man for that pesky task. The backyard, small, narrow, and not worth the energy to pull the mower cord just to shave down a bunch of weeds.
But if we could create walkways and bordered gardens...

And true to our independent, different natures, we picked our different jobs, based on our different skills.

We'd obtained a bunch of white bricks for free. So...

Brick cleaning became his job.

Brick laying mine.

Arguments cropped up along the way.

"You can't do that. It wont work." I often said.
"Sure it will. This is how it needs to be done." His tight-lipped reply.
"It needs to be done right!" I'd even stomp my foot for emphasis.
Then, after sitting and thinking about it, I'd realize, "Drat, he's right! Ugh!"

I hate when they want to grab a tape recorder... It's just not right.

And throughout the process, everything began to grow...

Beauty sprung up. Appreciation. Teamwork.

Then we ran out of white bricks and had to find a compromise...

Yet, in the end, it worked out. The result is so much a semblance of a Castle creation.

It's quirky with the red and white mixed in together. And it dips and bumps. It doesn't match up in some places.

A true Castle creation, no doubt.

Yet, it did something for us. It did something for the yard, as well, that now is springing with life and beauty and produce!

So are we.

In this, we've found a connection, a common goal and something that causes us to work together, talk and laugh much, even in the arguments.

This "project" has paved a way to healing in so many ways.

"So Abraham called that place The Lord Will Provide.

And to this day it is said, "On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided."
Genesis 22:14

Father, when we call out to you for help and direction, you provide. When we knock, you open. When we seek, you help us find. Thank you for providing ways to bring healing, restoration and new life to this garden that is our family.

photos from our walkway project.
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