Nov 042014
 

I don’t blog like I used to, and I’m truly grateful to those of you who still humor my occasional tirades and gabfests by stopping in from time-to-time. Some of you may not know it, but in its heyday this blog was decently well-read. My inbox was filled to the brim. I don’t think I ever caught up (I just wrote a book). We–my handsome husband and I–were called to the front of our local church to pray for hurting marriages. If you wanted to encourage an on-the-brink couple, you–the evangelical internet–might have directed the wife to my blog. Thousands of you did, ’cause we had a testimony. And in case you’re not familiar with the lingo, testimony means, “Something really bad happened, and then something wonderful happened to make all the bad seem worth it.”

For the past few weeks I’ve been looking again at Abraham’s story. I love Abraham. And I mean him no disrespect, but I love how intrinsically flawed he was. He wasn’t like Noah. The dark splotch on Noah’s record is a night of I-am-literally-alone, loneliness induced drunkenness. Are you gonna say you blame him? But Abraham, Abraham was a witness at his own wife’s wedding–twice–just to save his own skin. That’s pretty hard to live down. And the way I read it, Abraham prayed the way for the Ammonites and the Moabites. He begat a family feud (though we can blame that one on his wife). These are immensely consequential bad days. Though, of course, God had a plan for all of the bad days. Despite what might look like a marred record, Abe lived a life of unimaginable faith.

Abraham died without seeing the fulfillment of all that God had promised, but he died still knowing he would see it one day. Faith, not miraculous blessing, is what Abraham’s legacy boasts. Abraham’s testimony is faith for the journey; it is not the destination. If I ever get the chance to really sit down and talk with Abraham, I don’t want to hear about the day Isaac was born–not right away. And it’s not that I don’t hold tight to the pertaining promise, but there are other things I want to know before I ask about the ram in the thicket.

I want to hear about that long, grueling walk to the top of Mount Moriah. I want to hear about the day he told the king of Sodom to take a hike. I want to know what was going through his mind as he readied servants to fight kings. I want to hear about the years he spent waiting for Isaac. I want to hear about Ishmael; I want to know all about Ishmael. And I want to hear about the day he sent Ishmael to wander away.

So please, stop. Stop telling me that God is good because of how He’s said yes to your prayers. It makes a great story: how He saved you from the fiery furnace. What makes it a true, lasting testimony is that He strengthened you to stand in the flames. Yes, God gives us good things, and of course we should tell people about them; but the goodness of God is not defined by what He gives us. Judging God by His blessings is like judging an earthly parent by the birthday presents they give. Good parenting is made in moments of disciplining, teaching, training, and late-night heart-to-heart talking. Presents are just a bonus.

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So if you’re one of the few still stumbling upon my old posts and gleaning encouragement from my testimony, please glean encouragement from this: I still believe every word. I’m still standing (usually smiling) and trusting. God is good–all the time–in sunshine and in rain.

 

 

 November 4, 2014  Christianity, Marriage 6 Responses »
Oct 272014
 

God, YHVH, divorced His own Bride, Israel (though He also made a way to bring her back). Instead of reiterating the fact in every point of this post, I’ve decided to get it out of the way right now: There are valid reasons for divorce. I’d argue that the following are the invalid ones.

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1. You’re tired of being taken for granted.

 

Feeling unappreciated, whether in big ways or small ways, isn’t fun. It’s easy to imagine a life where your alternate-universe husband comes home from work and sweeps you into his arms. He praises the dinner–whether left-overs, take-out, or gourmet. He marvels over the state of the house–whether immaculate or cluttered. He goes on and on about the cleanliness, and overall cuteness, of your children and the fact that you look even more beautiful than you did the day before. If you work outside the home, he asks you about your job. He remembers the inside-the-home drama and the outside-the-home drama, and he deeply cares about every detail.

Would that be nice? Of course! That would be incredibly nice. It’s not happening in your marriage, so you have to imagine it–leading you to dwell on the fact that all of your Facebook friends are happily married to handsome Prince Charmings while you are stuck with Shrek.

Since you understand the deep, wounding pain of being taken for granted day in and day out, I’m going to assume you greet your husband with the gratitude and understanding you wish he lavished upon you. Being the sainted woman you are, you probably run to the door when you hear his brakes squealing or his car pulling into the garage. After all, who doesn’t love being greeted with a smile? You understand this even if he doesn’t, so you throw your arms around him and tell him how great he smells after a hard day of work. You thank him, every day and profusely, for working so hard to provide for his family. You express your gratitude over the fact that he came home at all, and you applaud his consistent fidelity.

I once sat with my husband in a counselor’s office. While I listened, the counselor explained to my husband the concept of a “love bank.” He said, “A wife expects her husband to come home, to provide, and to be faithful. If you are doing those three things, you can get points for the extra things. If you are not doing those things, you will not get points for anything you do beyond them. You will never actually earn points for doing those three things, however; they are simply what is expected.”

That last part seemed incredibly unfair to me, and I wondered what my three things were. What was I not getting credit for? The housework? Meals? Sex? It seemed to me that since all human beings enjoy getting credit for the expected things that we should give credit for the expected things as well. Makes sense, right? At the very least, it’s worth trying out on the man that you promised to cherish. Sow and reap, baby.

 

2. You’re tired of feeling like a single parent.

 

Based on the experiences of about 95% of the husbands I’ve talked to, many men shy away from parenting simply because they’re afraid of doing it wrong. Where does this silly fear come from? Well, it comes from their perfect wives. Moms read parenting books and parenting blogs; we spend twelve hours a day studying the personalities of our young children. Actually, we had a forty-week head start on the whole thing.  So, when stranger dad dares to discipline wrong or teach wrong or diaper wrong or feed wrong…basically parent wrong, resident mom has the tendency to let him know it. Now, no, most moms don’t actually say“You’re wrong, stranger.” But few of us are opposed to a well-placed sigh, a delicate eye-roll, or a feminine smirk. Killing him softly? You betcha. Expecting our husbands to man up may require us to woman down. And since it’s probably going to be at least equally as hard to watch a step-dad doing things wrong, I wouldn’t count on lush pastures in this pursuit of happiness, either.

 

3. You’re tired of being the spiritual leader.

 

Maybe it’s the times we live in. For whatever reason, I know quite a few godly women who are living with less than righteous husbands. These are not villainous men, mind you, it’s just that they don’t crack their Bibles. They rarely, if ever, lead their families in prayer. They’re simply not the spiritual leaders of their homes.

At least, that’s what I hear from their tired wives.

In Genesis chapter two, God told Adam that he was in need of a helper. To fulfill this need, God created Chava (whom we call Eve). The word for helper is the Hebrew word ezer (which comes from the root word azar). The word azar has military connotations. It means helper, yes, but more accurately it means protector. It’s a fierce word, and it implies continual, unyielding, encircling protection. I picture a woman dressed for battle. Her sword is drawn, and her countenance is serious as she continually guards her family. She makes a circle around them. Safely inside that circle, her husband is free from the distractions of the enemy and is able to lead his family and his community into relationship with the Creator. In a traditional Hebrew wedding, the bride circles her groom seven times. Perhaps a deeper understanding of the role a wife fills is the real reason behind this ritual.

Is it possible for a wife to be faithful to her post while her husband sits protected–and does nothing? Of course, and this is where wives tend to take over. The problem is, though, that in dropping her sword to pick up his scepter, the family is left vulnerable to attack. So keep (or start) studying the Word, keep (or start)  teaching your children, and keep (or start)  encircling your family in prayer for their protection. But if you’re tired of leading your husband, maybe it’s because you’re not meant to lead your husband. Your role was forged in the Garden of Eden, and the grass has never been greener.

 

 

 October 27, 2014  Marriage 1 Response »
May 142014
 

{There will be quite a few of these reposts as I take an audit of the theology in my past posts. I’m not changing this one, but it’s particularly relevant to me, today. I’ve been in a bit of a mood. This post was originally published on March 1, 2009, just before Baby Bear was born.}

So, I’m about to have a baby. I’m not threatening labor so you’ll all check in five times a day. The birth really could be three weeks away; I just have the feeling that it’s going to be much sooner. Of course, now that I’m actually ready for him he may decide to delay a bit.

This afternoon I was overcome by anger toward Papa Bear (who was lying down while I was cleaning the kitchen). Doesn’t he know he’s not allowed to rest in my presence!? But seriously, I hadn’t even asked him to help. And when I told him my back was hurting, he responded, “Just sit down, I’ll clean the kitchen later.” But “later” wasn’t in my plan, so my anger burned on.

Am I the only one this happens to?

I’ve spent the past hour or so talking to the Lord about anger. I know that anger is a good thing. Anger is from God, but in our sinfulness we direct it at the wrong things. We allow Satan to use it as a weapon against our souls. My guideline for anger is simple: I can be angry at Satan, and at sin, without losing my cool; any other focus and my peace is gone.

Hormonal anger is a little trickier. I think that’s because it doesn’t seem to have an actual place in our spiritual lives. In my own life, at least, I’ve never found it useful. It’s more like a cloud that wants to move in between me and my Creator–separating me from all peace and grace. I guess that its sole purpose would be as something to be overcome.

Any tips?

For me, the most victory comes when I recognize the problem. Maybe it would have been nice if Papa Bear had jumped up and cleaned the kitchen (unrealistic, but nice), but his inability to act like a woman was probably not the real source of my anger.

What is the source of my peace? 

When the kids respond angrily toward their siblings, we go through a little memorized dialog:

“Who fills your heart with peace?”

“Jesus does.”

“Who fills your heart with joy?”

“Jesus does.”

“Can your sister steal your peace and joy?”

“No.”

“Who can steal your peace and joy?”

“NO ONE CAN!!!”

I have talked in great lengths with my children about their ability to give away their fruit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control). We always choose to “loose it”. The Devil can’t make us do it, and neither can anyone else.

At least, that’s what I tell my kids.

I can and will pray for indescribable peace over these next few weeks. But it’s really God’s decision. I know He’ll give me peace in abundance, but He may not give me as much as I’d like. That is, He probably won’t transform my home into a fairy land of self-cleaning kitchens and self-wiping bottoms. He will, most assuredly, have something to teach me through the struggle.

And I really do pray that I’ll learn it.

 

May 132014
 

{Because I have gone through some pretty dramatic changes over the past two years, I’ve decided to go through old posts in this category to audit their theology. This one stands fine as it was. Originally posted on January 23, 2009.}

 

For the past few weeks I have been overwhelmingly burdened for marriages. Unfortunately, this burden hasn’t come out of nowhere, but it is a direct result of suffering in my immediate circle of wives. I know God has a deep heart for marriage. He invented it. He designed it for our good, and He clearly created one woman for one man. But it always goes that what God loves, Satan hates. And let me tell you people, we have an infinitely powerful God, but we do not have a weakling for an enemy. Not by a long shot.

So, I’ve been asking God how I should be praying when I intercede on behalf of this crumbling institution (By the way, it’s crumbling because of Satan’s willfulness and our weak flesh, not because of anyone else. You will find me championing many a conservative political cause, but not the “sanctity of marriage”. That, in my humble not-to-be-heavily-weighed opinion, is between us and our Lord.).

In case you’d like to join me (or you have anything to add), here’s my prayer for marriage:

Perfect God and vastly creative Heavenly Father, I come to you in desire of your perfect will for marriage. I beg you to turn our hearts to you and teach us to love the things that you love. Separate us from our selfishness, and give us the grace to lay down our lives for each other.

Give wives the great strength to be women. Teach us to pray with fervency and to speak with gentleness. Teach us to love our husbands as men and to truly understand what they need. Show us how to suffer in silence and how to stand and fight. Comfort us when our husbands fail us, and never let their failures cause us to doubt your goodness and love. Keep our soft hearts soft, and soften them where they’re hard. And help us to weigh your Spirit in us far above our fleshly desires.

Give our husbands the strength to be men. Grow them up in the warrior power of your Holy Spirit. Reveal the true manliness of commitment and protection to their bloodied and used souls. Heal their broken hearts, and be the father and shepherd to their boyishness. Turn their hearts wholly to their wives, and teach them to love with selfless abandon.

Give married couples the strength to fight. Teach us to fight fair, and teach us to fight for the things worth fighting for. Make us one in body, mind, and spirit, that we may truly reflect your son and His Bride. Protect that precious picture through everything that we do. Make us selfless and tender, forgiving and kind, and always slow to anger.

Protect us from offense and temptation. Teach us to speak your words, and to speak them often. Give us time to spend with one another and remove distraction and worry from our minds. Let us return to romance, pure and holy, childlike and fun.

Bless us, heal us, and restore us by the power of your incredible name. In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

 

Aug 082013
 

I once had a marriage—a covenant. It started with flowers and caviar and ended with screams and tears. In the beginning it was based on the things on which all holy marriages are based. There were rules, some spoken and some not. There were expectations, some spoken and some not. There were beautiful, starry-eyed promises. And these guidelines and fences (at least the ones we’d taken from Scripture) were good. In fact, those things were perfect. What was impetuously imperfect was our ability to live up to those things we’d hastily promised. We both failed, my husband and I, in ways too numerous to number. When my husband bucked against the primary fence of marriage, our covenant snapped in two. Yet, no fault was found with or could ever be found with our covenant (the guidelines Yehovah established for marriage). He does not design imperfect but holy and freeing and good. The fault was with the humans involved…

Read more at Whatever is Lovely.

{I won’t normally beg you to click, but I’m begging you to today. This post has my heart…as do all of your wonderful questions from this week. I promise, I am tacking my e-mail just as quickly as I can.}

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 August 8, 2013  Christianity, Marriage Comments Off on A Covenant Worth Renewing
Jul 212013
 

I was a few months pregnant with my second set of twins before I saw the proof of what was wrong in my marriage. As I soaked belly deep in a tub full of tears I told the Father that I couldn’t go on. The “D” word was in my future, though after watching my faithful parents brave ups and downs I couldn’t have imagined it would ever be. I had cooked him steaks at two in the morning. I wrote love letters. I wore lingerie…I liked lingerie! “I can’t do this!” I sobbed, and all manner of ocean life would have thrived happily in my saltwater bath.

Be real or go home, that’s kinda my blogging motto.

The Father’s response that night wasn’t a cheery “Sure you can!” or even a leading toward divorce. What the Father spoke to my heart so clearly has been my prayer for the past seven years.

[read the rest at whatislovely.com]

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P.S. Today was my first time to pick up my weekly assignment and blog at the ministry that has [thus far] changed seven lives. Maybe all best friends should blog together. I hope you’ll feel that way as we muddle our way through long-distance friendships and you smile as you follow along. We love each other, we love Yeshua, and we’re walking the same path in this difficult life. These are the things blogs are made of–if not the best memories of our lives.

 July 21, 2013  Marriage Comments Off on Picking up Something Beautiful
Mar 192013
 

Have y’all seen the photos circling the internet of people “caught” sleeping? If you haven’t, let me fill you in. Whether it’s a solitary but serious mess up (poor girl!) and a bunch of people making fun of her or a whole bunch of photo bloopers, I really can’t say. But apparently, Facebook knows you’re in a healthy, happy relationship if your significant other grabs your phone while you’re napping (because you are so cute he or she can’t resist taking pictures of your angelic self). There are some things I miss about being in a relationship, but having my photo taken while I’m sleeping ain’t  one of ’em.

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Because this attention while unconscious is so significant, because you’re nobody until you have a stalker, some unfortunate young women (and even a few guys) have decided to fake this self-worth by taking selfies with their eyes closed! And, of course, this doesn’t work out well for those who have mirrors anywhere near their beds. Mirrors catch things like oddly positioned arms holding glowing cell phones, y’all.

Here’s the thing: I don’t mean to ruin all the fun people are having at these poor self-photographers’ expense; I might have chuckled to myself at first. But really, this just isn’t funny at all. Are we a generation of people who truly believe that we’re nobody until we’re loved by Prince Charming or Ms. Right? Yes, I think that’s exactly who we are! I’d like to collect nickles for every time someone has given me that, “How could you be happy? You’re single!” stare. Cause really, I could use more nickles. I am happy, though. That happiness has nothing to do with a relationship status that can be changed and everything to do with my relationship with the One who will never let me go. Somebody does love me (and you). And, for the record, He watches over me while I sleep.

If you’re happy single, you’ll be happy married. If you’re waiting for a spouse to fulfill you, you’ll be pretty miserable for the rest of your life. Just a thought. Now, put down that camera and go to sleep.

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 March 19, 2013  Marriage, Me 4 Responses »
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