Monday, December 29, 2014

Dangerous Liaisons

(Originally posted January 5, 2012)

"Above all else, guard your heart for it is the wellspring of life." -- Proverbs 4:23
Any man or woman with a shred of romance in their soul can relate to the movie, "An Affair to Remember." Full of memorable quotes, one that stands out in my mind is, "You don't plan these things...they just happen." When it comes to matters of the heart, though, sometimes "these things" can be prevented and disaster can be averted.

Take, for instance, the classic office romance. A new employee is hired, or two co-workers collaborate on a project and over the course of time an innocent collaboration becomes an emotional attachment that has the potential of becoming a full-blown illicit affair. With little warning, seemingly innocent relationships become dangerous liaisons as emotions burn out of control like a wildfire and eventually someone -- possibly an innocent spouse or significant other -- gets burned. A marriage goes up in flames, lives are ruined, and the romance that sparked it all is extinguished, leaving wounded hearts smoldering and scarred. Think it can't happen to you? Oh, yes, it can if you don't guard your heart!

At the moment we are saved, God's Holy Spirit comes to live within us and provides that "check in our spirit" that signals danger. If you are flirting with emotions toward an individual who is not your spouse, then clearly you have left your heart unguarded and vulnerable to the deception of the enemy, who seeks to destroy your marriage and damage your reputation.    Perhaps you are not married, but the other individual is.  No matter how unhappy he or she may be in their marriage, it is just as wrong for you to desire a relationship with that married individual as it would be for you to compromise your own marriage. 

As Christians, we are not immune to these affairs of the heart, but we are equipped with the weapons to resist the enemy, if we choose to.  If you find yourself in a situation where you feel your affection for your spouse has been compromised by your feelings for a co-worker, neighbor, or other individual with whom you have frequent, close contact, ask yourself why you feel the way you do.  Is it because the other person makes you feel appreciated and valued for what you do for him or her when, at home, you merely feel taken for granted?   Sometimes it is not the love of another individual that steals our affection, but simply the expression of appreciation from someone outside our own family and the sense of importance and fulfillment that our work gives us as a result.  Whichever the case may be, we allow that individual or sense of importance to become an idol, displacing God in our hearts and making room for a host of destructive emotions and behaviors.

Guard your heart vigilantly -- no one but you can. Look to the One whose affections and approval matter above all others and seek to please Him, rather than any man or woman. Ask God, who created you for a relationship with Him, to purify your heart, renew your love for Him and your spouse, and give you a sense of purpose as you surrender your service to Him. No man, or woman, is as faithful as our God. It is God's approval and love you should be seeking, even if that requires you to leave your job or sever communications with that person who has taken center stage in your mind and in your heart. 

If your fear of losing income or possessions causes you to stay in a situation where you know you don't belong, consider the higher cost you may have to pay if you stay and ask God for a way out.   "No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it" (1 Corinthians 10:13).

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Life Is Not a Hallmark Movie

It all began with a box of Grace Livingston Hill romance novels given to me perhaps before I was even a teenager.  That box of novels I read voraciously, dreaming of true love and the Prince Charming who would someday sweep me off my feet and ride with me into a blazing sunset.  Now I find myself spending hours watching the Hallmark channel during the holidays, totally caught up in one predictable story line after another.

I know only too well that life is not a Hallmark movie, though I certainly wish it could be. I was fortunate to date some fairly romantic and pleasant fellows on my way to the altar. Some were very skilled at the art of romance and stopped at nothing in their attempts to make me happy and win my heart.  Others drained me dry emotionally because they carried the baggage of brokenness or addiction.  God, in his mercy, gave me wisdom to break off the relationships that were unhealthy despite my tendency to hang on in an effort to "save" the other person.  On a few occasions I was the one whose heart was the casualty in a breakup.

Although my spouse of nearly twenty eight years doesn't fit the persona of a Hallmark movie leading man, he has been faithful and steadfast in his love for me. When the Lord brought us together thirty years ago I was a mess!  I had been in and out of one bad relationship after another, compromised the morals and scriptural principles I knew to be true, and given up on love.  Shortly before we met I told the Lord that I was done. Period. My attempts at finding love had only resulted in self-destructive behavior and a great deal of hurt, not only to myself but to others as well.

Instead of walking into a local piano bar one evening I walked into a roller-skating rink--alone.  All I knew was that a local Christian radio station was sponsoring the music and that my hopes of meeting a Christian were higher in the skating rink than they were in a bar.  I didn't really think I'd meet my life-partner that night, but that is precisely what happened.  Five years after we married we renewed our vows in that very roller rink!

Since that day over thirty years ago Steve and I have had our ups and downs. There have been times when our marriage has been rosy and seasons where disillusionment and disappointment have threatened to be our undoing. Staying married has been hard work, but we have both honored our vows and remained committed and faithful to each other. Love has not been all wine and roses and candlelight. At times it has yielded spontaneous laughter and at other times, stretched our faith muscles and our patience with one another.

I'll be the first to admit that I am not always loving or easy to love. But somewhere deep inside is undying love and a great appreciation for a man who has been faithful, steadfast, and true -- a model of Christ's love, the foundation for our marriage.

Life may not be a Hallmark movie and our marriage may not be the most passionate on the planet. But I am willing to try harder to win over the heart of my husband by becoming God's ideal of a wife wholly devoted to her Lord and her man. It will take more love and respect and sacrifice than I have given in the past, but in the end will result in our happily ever after.


Copyright © 2014 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved. www.deedeewike.com

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Thank you for visiting my blog! You are encouraged to post a comment and share this blog with a friend. By sharing, you are helping to encourage others with the truth of God's Word!

A New Direction

Very few people read this blog even when I post the link on social media.  I might as well be talking to a brick wall, or perhaps just to myself most of the time. It doesn't matter, though, as long as someone is reached with the truth and encouragement of God's Word.  It has been my mission to write about life by taking the experiences I have had or the emotions I have felt in certain situations and sharing the lessons God taught me through them. Response to the things I have written has varied, but I have always written with the hope that someone would benefit from my mistakes and the hard lessons I have learned from them.

Over the course of the past six years I have authored three devotional books (all published), some magazine articles, and a few dozen newspaper columns.  Book sales have been lackluster and hits to the blog have been underwhelming.  The most hits I ever had was to a blog inspired by the Chilean mine accident several years ago and a news report that told of an "errant white butterfly."  Not sure why I am even sharing this except to say that things didn't quite turn out the way I thought they would.

I'm not sure where any of this is going, quite honestly.  I only know that in many aspects of my life I feel I am supposed to move in a new direction. Not knowing what that direction is, I am prayerfully seeking God's will and waiting on his direction rather than making my own way.  I have in mind what I think he might be trying to accomplish in my life, but I've "misunderstood" him before so I'm not going to declare anything until I have confirmation.  But I don't think the new direction is going to include much writing.  On the other hand, my greatest inspiration may be just around the corner.

2014 was a year of great change, including a move away from everything that was familiar to me -- family, friends, church, and a city where I'd lived all my life.  But the changes have been positive ones.  I have moved from what I had thought would be a flourishing writing and speaking ministry to a dream job in a small Methodist church, where I am able to put my God-given skills and past ministry experience to use serving a sweet congregation.  I have been able to use my music education and choral experience to work with their choir on occasion.  The work I do there is very rewarding and I know now that this ministry is why God uprooted me and moved me from Virginia.

Still, I believe he has even greater things in store for me in the days ahead. Or maybe I am just longing for more of him every day.  Whatever lies ahead I choose to embrace the adventure of not knowing--the adventure of placing all my trust in the One who knows the rest of the story. The road will no doubt be paved with difficulties and heartache, but God will remain my faithful companion and guide on the journey.

In just a few days we will turn the pages of our calendars to a brand new year.  What will your new year look like?  Will you embrace the adventure and live to your full potential, or will you shrink back in fear of heartache, failure, and loss.

In a sense, I believe God is calling us all to go in a new direction -- to walk by faith, not by sight; to make the most of our time, not waste it; to give more and seek less for ourselves; and to live victorious and holy lives so that others may know there truly is a God in heaven and that his Son, Jesus, is our only way to get there.

Do you need to move in a different direction in the coming year? If your heart is longing for more, perhaps the answer is yes. Prayerfully seek God's plan and purpose for your life and dare to embrace the adventure of living wholly surrendered to him. No matter how rough the journey may be at times, he will stay right beside you. Through every adversity you will see a little more of him until eventually, he will become all you need and everything you want.



Copyright © 2014 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved. www.deedeewike.com

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Thank you for visiting my blog! You are encouraged to post a comment and share this blog with a friend. By sharing, you are helping to encourage others with the truth of God's Word!

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Let the Adventure Begin!

As 2014 comes to a close many of us will sigh deeply and say, "I'm glad to have this year behind me.  I hope 2015 is a much better year!"  Many of us experienced the painful loss of loved ones or the devastating diagnosis of chronic or terminal illness. Others found themselves uprooted and relocated or suffered the hardship of financial reversal.

Hopefully as this year draws to a close you will look back and see the hand of God in your circumstances. The suffering you experienced in 2014 may not have been on your radar but it was on God's. Did you sense him near you when the times were the hardest? Were you able to say, "I trust you, God," even though you didn't understand why he would allow such hardship?

We faced our own challenges as a family:  the loss of Steve's job and the hunt for a new one, which resulted in a relocation to Virginia because God closed every other door to employment in Tennessee; our out-of-state move, completed in two phases, with a four-month period of separation and the challenge of managing two households, parenting our kids without Steve present in our home, and finding a buyer for our home in Tennessee; the loss of Steve's dad in February and the unanticipated challenge of having to sell their home and move his mom to Virginia at the same time we were preparing for our move; and finding jobs for Chris and me as Joy started ninth grade in a new school. We also faced serious financial challenges as the result of my unemployment for nearly four months and the expense of the move itself.

Through every challenge and in every circumstance I knew that God was with me. Trusting in him and embracing all these challenges as an adventure was my only hope of surviving the chaos and the loss of everything familiar and comfortable.  The only way I could muster up the faith to endure it all was by spending time daily in his presence, quietly reading his Word, praying for his guidance and wisdom, confessing with my mouth--even when it was difficult at times--that I trusted him. It took a conscious effort and a determined will to trust God, but he never failed me. Not once.

None of us knows what challenges we will face in the new year. But I can promise you that if you will spend time daily with God, getting to know him and his Word, he will show you how to navigate the challenges, give you his peace in the midst of your storms, and fill you with the grace and hope you will need to climb every mountain. The things you will face may not be on your radar, but God knows the way you will take and when he has tested you, you will come forth as gold (Job 23:10).

Don't fear the future or shrink away from the challenges. Instead, embrace the adventure knowing that God will be with you every step of the way. "Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the LORD your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you” (Deuteronomy 31:6, ESV).


Copyright © 2014 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved. www.deedeewike.com

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Thank you for visiting my blog! You are encouraged to post a comment and share this blog with a friend. By sharing, you are helping to encourage others with the truth of God's Word!

Friday, December 26, 2014

But Wait, There's More!

Another Christmas has come and gone.  Wrapping paper has been tossed in the trash or used as fuel in the fireplace.  Leftovers have been wrapped up and refrigerated for the next meal or frozen for the next family gathering.  Loved ones have been put in planes, or as in the case of my husband and daughter, our "land yacht" (aka my station wagon) and sent back home.  And many of us are left asking, "Is that all there is?"

Thankfully, Christmas is only the beginning of the story.  Jesus, whose birthday we celebrate, still lives in the hearts of those who follow him.  His birth was just the beginning of an amazing story of love, miracles, healing, and sacrifice. His death on Calvary's cross was not the end of his story.  His resurrection is living proof that there is more yet to come!

If you feel let down now that the hoidays are over, look up!  Christ, who is seated with God in heaven, is eager to enter the hearts of all humankind, walk beside us as we journey through this life, and usher us into his kingdom where we will have lasting fellowship with him.  In the meantime, we can experience the expectation of Christmas each and every day by living our lives surrendered to his will, standing on the promises of his Word, and walking in the power of his Holy Spirit.



Copyright © 2014 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved. www.deedeewike.com

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Thank you for visiting my blog! You are encouraged to post a comment and share this blog with a friend. By sharing, you are helping to encourage others with the truth of God's Word!

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Whatever

Whatever life may throw at me
Whatever troubles come
I'll lift my eyes to heaven and say
"This world is not my home."
When sickness comes, the auto dies
Or work creates some stress
I'll think of others and their pain
And know how much I'm blessed.
Though hard I try to pay off debt
And reach a life of ease
I'm oft reminded that whatever comes
God promises His peace.
Whatever life may throw at you
Or troubles come your way
Remember that God's in control
Of each and every day.
He doesn't promise freedom from
The things that cause us grief
But if we will believe His Word
He promises relief.
Upon His Word and promises
I choose to take my stand
In confidence, whatever comes,
I'll reach my Promised Land.


Copyright © 2014 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved. www.deedeewike.com

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Thank you for visiting my blog! You are encouraged to post a comment and share this blog with a friend. By sharing, you are helping to encourage others with the truth of God's Word!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Still Finding My Way

A few years back, sometime between the publication of my first devotional book in late 2009 and my last book in 2013, I vainly envisioned myself with a speaking ministry that would provide opportunities for me to encourage large groups of women in churches throughout the South.  As a working mom I could barely find time to take care of my family and work obligations, let alone market and build interest in my books and speaking ministry.  By taking my cue from the positive feedback of others rather than seeking God's will, I inevitably set myself up for failure.  But sometimes failure is a good thing.

God has a way of humbling us, often before we recognize His call or reach our God-ordained ministry. While I believe God has used my books and blogs to encourage others in their faith walk, I am now convinced that the idea of a writing and speaking ministry was probably never His plan for me.  The events of this year have convinced me of that more than ever.

What has been the lesson I have learned in all of this?  That God's thoughts are not my thoughts, neither are His ways my ways (Isaiah 55:8). The beauty of the journey is that no matter how many detours I take along the way He will always patiently and divinely redirect my steps so that I walk beside Him and serve in the places of ministry He chooses.

Our greatest career ambition will never surpass the fulfillment of finding ourselves in God's perfect will or carrying out His plan for our lives. No adventure is greater than walking in the path He ordains. Although our choices are sometimes costly, God never wastes the experiences of those who ultimately seek to do His will.  Of that I am most certain.

It doesn't matter to me if I ever write or sell another book. All that matters is encouraging others with His Word -- the ultimate and eternal bestseller -- and living each day to know God more and use all He has given me to make a difference in the lives of others.  Could anything be better than that?



Copyright © 2014 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved. www.deedeewike.com

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Thank you for visiting my blog! You are encouraged to post a comment and share this blog with a friend. By sharing, you are helping to encourage others with the truth of God's Word!