Thursday, April 17, 2014

Numbing vs. Healing

When I think of the differences between those of us who claim Christ as our Savior and those who don't, one thing struck me the other day as a stark contrast between the two groups. And it's probably not the normal, typical responses - "We're sinners saved by grace" or "We are broken people just with a Savior" and so on. No, it went beyond that and to a place that just about anyone can comprehend regardless of their biblical savvy.

I'm talking about how people choose to numb vs. heal their spirits, their inner selves, their "chi" or whatever the latest jargon is for what makes you who you are. Your innate self at its basest level is in need of one or the other; your choice is whether you choose to heal or to numb. 

The vast majority of people on this planet choose to numb. It comes in many forms. You can see it culturally as you span the globe. Take the eastern cultures views on religion and notice a connection between appeasing the spirits of ancestors for their inner peace. You see the radical Islamist dedicate his unfailing and blanket commitment to Allah via violence, oppression of others, and even suicide as a way to make good to his god. Even Buddhists find "peace" in their chantings and rituals and rigid abstentions all for the sake of nirvana. And then in places of the Western world, we like to drown our spirits in spirits. A lot. Or we maximize our sexuality to encompass more than our virgin selves ever could have pondered. We take up hobbies and find good deeds to satisfy that nagging feeling at night as we nod off to sleep…"do I really make a difference? And do I really matter? Does any of it matter?" Those are just some examples. 

Even Christians fall prey to numbing for the sake of looking in the mirror without disgust. We check off our list of "good" we do like Bible reading, attending church whenever the doors are open, signing up for the bake sale and children's church, and don't forget the missions trip! But the heart of the matter is really our purpose behind such activities. Why do we do it? It's a great question that really demands to be answered every day. It's a perfect question when we're reflecting over Christ's sacrifice during communion. We dare not drink judgment on ourselves. We better make sure we understand fully that Christ's sacrifice is sufficient for all our healing needs down to the deepest part of who He made us to be. If we don't fully rely on this, we are hypocrites and just like the Pharisees who swooned over the specifics of the law to get straight A's instead of taking the spirit of the law to heart and letting it guide them in righteousness. 

I had a little crying session yesterday. Yes, I'm pregnant and hormonal. But still, crying isn't normal for me to express frustration and discouragement. But yesterday, it was the perfect outlet. I was feeling quite overwhelmed in what I have on my plate for responsibility. I have 2 crazy, lovable, rambunctious boys to train up and protect. I have a baby soon to come who will need me almost constantly while maintaining the prior 2. I am on track to regain my position in Mary Kay AND earn a car, which I have never done. I live 20+ hours from both families and rely on non-family to help me with child care, for which I gladly pay. I don't end each day feeling super productive or prospered. I got zero responses from the many people I contacted yesterday for my business and haven't had the month I was expecting AT ALL. Plus, my husband is needed for Easter prep and rehearsal and such, which means I get few breaks from being mom in order to work to grow my business. 

It was in that moment where this all culminated in my brain and heart and soul and stomach and left me feeling blah. I felt helpless and defeated. Discouragement raged inside of me. Knowing that it was probably just a passing phase, I kept on working. I pushed through. Then when 9 pm hit, I put my phone down and went upstairs and just laid on the bed, silent tears falling while I stared at the beige wall. It was in that broken, awful moment where I was releasing all that crap inside me that I heard words of Jesus going through my head. Things like, "My yoke is easy", "I am the way, the truth, and the life", "I go to prepare a place for you", and "But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth." And don't forget that "spirit of power" that was written to Timothy! I felt the burden lifting and realized that I was trying to numb with success what Jesus had healed at the cross. Yes, success in my business is important because it will allow so much more freedom for our family and open up our abundance to give greatly beyond what we've been able to in the past. However, I was allowing the lack of daily success, monthly success to overshadow the grace that had so greatly and perfectly washed over my inability to save myself. I have a permanent home with Jesus to ponder! I am forgiven! I may feel icky for the moment with the way things were going, but I ultimately have rest and peace and healing

So no more numbing for me! My worth is not dependent on how much I sell or how many appts I have on my books. It doesn't matter if my house is clean and my kids ate 3 square meals. Jesus has it all covered better than any health insurance plan. The healing has taken place and is lasting. Why should I allow anything else to numb a healthy soul?

Monday, March 10, 2014

Missing Someone I've Never Met

Today I celebrate my husband's 31 years of life! I'm so glad that Don & Vikki had a bonus baby who became my husband and helped me produce 2 gorgeous boys and our Baby Hunt! 

Some may not know that this is actually Baby Hunt 4.0. We found out September '08 that I was indeed pregnant with our first baby! It was quite surreal and overwhelming, especially for Monte. But just a couple months into it we found out that this Baby Hunt had stopped growing around 6.5 weeks. I would have been around 10 weeks when we found out. So around May 21, 2009 was that Baby's due date. Each year it hits me when it starts getting close that I have a child in heaven who is fortunate enough to have never felt pain and live with Jesus. But I also get hit with the pain of missing someone I never got to meet officially or see face to face. I can only imagine what this child looks like and sounds like. I can only wonder if it is a boy or a girl. Not that it matters in heaven, but my earthly mind is curious. 

Some have asked if I knew why. Unfortunately, no. My main guess after being much more knowledgable and informed about pregnancy and things regarding fertility that it was probably a low progesterone issue. But it could have been a defect or abnormality probably of the heart, which begins beating just a couple of weeks after conception. God only knows. And I'm okay with that. 

But I also had to deal with another hurt - the hurt of people not getting it when I told them. And it took me a long time to tell most people. Good thing I waited. This wound was fresh and open for a long time. Satan was definitely working on me to betray God and lash out at people. Bitterness and anger were trying to consume me and I had to fight those with everything I had. I even remember one Sunday soon after having to hold my communion in my hands for what seemed like eternity weeping because I couldn't honestly take it knowing I had not examined my heart and was carrying junk not yet submitted to God. I was heavy with emotional burdens of pain, sadness, grief, anger, frustration, questioning, and doubt. And one of God's sweet angels swooped in and prayed over us as she saw my agony. Bless her. Even now, being 25 weeks pregnant with our 4th baby, the pain is real and present. I'm typing through tears. And that's what many people don't get if they haven't been there. 

Losing a baby in utero, especially earlier on in gestation, is sometimes viewed as "easier" than losing one later on who could be held and seen and cherished as a mother desires. I have to say that I cringe at such language as it implies less value of the babies lost earlier on, like it's not as difficult to handle. I know it's not intentional. However, I had more than one encounter where I was "encouraged" to feel a certain way because it was so early. A great read recently was from a blog of a woman who suffered losses and saw a great disconnect in how many pro-lifers treat babies to be aborted and babies who are lost by miscarriage. I encourage you take the time to read and share. We as the body of Christ need to be aware of how we speak and act towards those who lose babies before birth no matter how. And it needs to be consistent and saturated in God's love.

I can't tell you exactly how to act towards anyone you know who is suffering with this kind of loss. Every loss is unique. What I can tell you, however, is that you can never go wrong with arms that are willing to receive someone hurting and ears that are ready to listen and listen and listen. Please keep your mouth shut and assume all the questions asked as being rhetorical. Get a box of tissues or a hanky and allot a good chunk of time to just being there. Grief is not logical or rational. It hurts. And if you have kids, just pretend you lost one of yours. And then feel the hurt it would bring. That's where your friend is. It's a dark, lonely vacuum of pain. The light is present and will be noticeable soon, but until then, be that pillar of support. Bite your tongue if you feel the need to tell her how to feel (or him) or why she should be grateful. (Really???) And just be loving and gentle and there. Treat those who've lost just as if they had lost a child after years of life. It matters and it counts. 

Monday, March 3, 2014

My Heart Grows Faint

I'm having a hard time stomaching the lack of equality in our country. 

Gay Hairdresser Refusing NM Governor As Client
Gay Couple Cries Discrimination
Ugandan Aid Cut Due To Anti-Gay Bill

The level of fairness and equality in expressing ourselves, even through our work, is threatened if we aren't on the right side of the issue. And the worst part of it all is that some Christians are taking too much leeway in embracing people at the expense of standing up for God's word. More on that in a moment.

This is just a snippet of the hypocrisy and how we Christians should be warned to fall prey to our ears being tickled as a way to gain public support. 

Gay Hairdresser - If we review the facts, this gentleman has every right to refuse service to someone. Or at least he should. However, if the governor had called him and cancelled her appointments and said she'd never be using his services again because he's gay, there would be a firestorm of media crying "Hate!" and "Bigot!" Plus, what if the same standards were applied to him as were applied to the businesses already sued, threatened and run out of business? He would be forced to cut her hair or pay massive fines. That sounds like the freedom bells ringing, huh? One line from this last link is particularly striking stating, "It shows that tolerance is one way."

Gay Couple Cries Discrimination - Their florist and friend for 10 years is the violator in this story. She respects them, treats them with love & kindness and has never spoken ill of these great customers. But then she dare not participate in their ceremony with her services?? Outrageous and hateful. I couldn't believe this when I read it. Their backlash on social media sparked the politically expedient case against her by the Attorney General. 

Ugandan Aid Cut - Now, I'm not a huge fan of what Uganda has done. And like most Americans, I haven't read the bill word for word. However, this stance on gays is still incredibly mild in comparison to all the countries who have Islamic militants who would hang or shoot gays (and Christians, for that matter) in the streets. And yet, our country still gives aid to some of these countries. Why the disconnect? I'm sure it has something to do with the fact that Uganda is considered a Christian nation. But then again, I could just be taking it out of proportion, right?

That's one thing I hear from my friends who aren't as conservative as I am. "Oh, Amy. You're taking this way too seriously." Am I? It's seeming to always go one way and not the other. It's like reparations for past discrepancies. What ever happened to just treating people like people and respecting them despite their differences? Instead it's a vengeance, a pay back for past harms. A blanket offense to anyone disagreeing. 

Politically, I'm all for states' rights and respect these decisions made by the people therein. The gay marriage debate that was taken all the way up to the Supreme Court was deemed "not a federal issue". And yet federal judges are silencing the voices of each state's constituents where their gay marriage ban or traditional marriage definition is being declared unconstitutional. So that's one point. It's literally being forced into law. 

Now let's connect how some Christians are getting caught up in the social expediency of accepting the argument on marriage equality. Or for those who are actually champions for their gay & lesbian friends getting married. Or even yet, those who are criticizing fellow Christians who choose to practice their faith in all they do "as if working for the Lord." 

But that's still not the worst of it. I've been reading blogs and posts by some who are Christians and yet support their gay friends to get married. I'm reading how some of them are actually cussing over the fact that some of these Christian business owners aren't "showing the love of Jesus" through their services. And alas, some who didn't read a word of AZ's bill to protect religious beliefs of business owners accusing the writers as being hateful and bigoted towards gays despite words describing such no where to be found in the legislation. What message are we Christians sending? It's quite mixed, especially to the younger generations. And how else can a Christian business owner operate? Under the compulsion of the government when it's in direct conflict with his faith? Filter check, please.

I'm all for loving people as they are just like Jesus did. But Jesus often told people, "Go and sin no more" or "Your faith has healed you." These people were challenged to rise above alongside His compassion. Are we not to do the same? Are we to stand by our friends who are gay and applaud them in getting married? I guess you can take any other sin and insert it accordingly and ask yourself the same question again. Are we to stand by our friends who ________________ and applaud them in ________________? Insert "are pregnant" and "getting an abortion" or "love each other" and "are moving in together". Maybe "watch porn" and "broken relationships". No. Of course we wouldn't support any of those scenarios. Even if it was as "mild" as "cheat on their tests" and "passing Trig", we still would proclaim it as wrong. Or would we? It seems our moral compass is off. And it has nothing to do with the source of morality being skewed. 

When we criticize Christians who stand up for the sake of the Gospel, we are a divided house that will not stand. I'm not saying you can blindly accept what all Christians are saying or doing, but what message does it send to those Christians when they did nothing wrong and receive backlash from those who claim the same faith? Romans 14 teaches us to be careful not to force our personal behavioral convictions on other believers who may have weaker faith. You may think they should be loving by letting their businesses be used for such events as the ones above. But what if their convictions won't let them? We'd be asking them to sin against their consciences. Or even the Holy Spirit! What's wrong with standing up for those Christians? 

I've lost friends to this issue though. And it doesn't matter how mainstream we are. The Bible says in Ephesians 4 that we should "speak the truth in love." But it also warns not to expect a warm reception with the truth. In 2 Thessalonians, Paul writes that some hold to their wickedness despite knowing the truth. And in so, God allows them to believe the lie. These wicked of any kind, essentially, have a veil over their eyes that hides the truth from them. They have given themselves to Satan's lies. 

And be warned, like the florist in the article above, that even your love isn't sufficient to reach some. Had she gone against her conviction she would be left with an empty faith for the sake of appeasing 2 people who are caught in the darkness. What then? Do we applaud her acceptance while she grieves the loss of her spiritual integrity? And she did the Biblical and honest thing by sharing why she couldn't. There was no regard for her faith. There was no mutual respect. 

The Bible is very clear that we will have troubles in this life. Jesus warned the apostles that some will refuse to listen and cast them out of their cities. He also warned that he did not come to unite us as human family but as a heavenly one. Strife is consistent with the Christian life. Being persecuted for the faith is a joy to be celebrated to be counted worthy! If we relent on any sinful issue and would rather embrace people while not sharing the truth in love, what are we sacrificing? How are we glorifying Christ and His sacrifice through that? 

Love does not equal indiscriminate support for any and every decision. Just like any good parent, the love happens automatically regardless of choices. But discipline and punishment come with decisions that are out of God's will. Let's be sure we are 100% clear on what love really is before we give lip service or "prove" our acceptance of others and whose glory we're really after. I want God to know that I pray for those who "persecute" me and reach out to them with His love when I can. I want God to see that my heart is true to His word while loving people who couldn't care less about my faith. And if I'm going to choose between honoring God and accepting someone's lifestyle of sin, whether it's gambling, fornication, cheating on their taxes or otherwise, I'm choosing God. And I don't apologize for that.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Staying Home & Saving Green

I am often asked how I am able to stay home while having a minister husband. It's not just one thing that allows us to make it work; it's several. Some of it is a mindset, some of it certain principles we live by, and some of it is just how we spend our money. Here are the reasons and ways we make it work. I hope something in here may be helpful or encouraging to everyone who reads. And maybe it'll inspire someone to be bold and alter their circumstances in order to stay home, save money, etc.

1. I still work. Yes, I bring home some bacon. It's not always a lot and it varies. But I've chosen a work form home business, which allows me the flexibility to work around what matters most to me: God & family. And I sell a product that is consumable, which gives me residual income even when I'm not actually working. And since I've been doing it for 12 years, I have a solid customer base.
2. We sacrifice luxuries. We understand and practice needs vs wants. So things like cable/satellite TV, eating out often, getting my nails done, regular Starbucks trips & recreational shopping are all things we don't have/do.  
3. I don't succumb to social & cultural expectations for being a mom. I don't pay for professional pictures often for our kids and family. I'm not very extravagant in festivities such as birthday parties & holidays. I stay away from Pinterest for the sake of my time and not getting sucked into that vortex. I don't feel my kids have to look like they have stepped out of an ad when we leave the house. We chose to wait on finding out gender of our babies to keep ourselves from spending. All of these supposed standards are great marketing for certain businesses but tempting snares for moms who feel they need to comply. 
4. We don't have car payments. Neither of our cars have keyless entry, each is at least 10 years old, and there is nothing fancy about our sound systems. However, they run well, are safe and are worth a little extra from time to time to keep in good shape. 
5. We use meal plans (most of the time). This helps with more intentional grocery shopping. It can trim extras and unnecessary spending.
6. I coupon and check best deals when I can. I don't sit for hours in front of the computer or stalk the $1 store to horde Sunday papers. I also don't stock up needless items. But I do check the match ups each week before I go shopping to see if there are great prices on what we will be eating and our regular staples. 
7. We give at least 10% of our income to our church and have other consistent ways we give. We've learned that having an open hand allows for being gifted and blessed; a tight fist has no room for receiving more. 
8. I nursed our kids for at least a full year, made homemade baby food and cloth diapered.
9. We make household cleaners, detergents, etc. I was super skeptical of these at first. I've definitely come around and am really glad that we tried them out. We make our own laundry detergent, cloth diaper detergent, wipe solution, disinfectant (rubbing alcohol & water or vinegar & water), dusting solution, and probably a few others I can't remember off the top of my head. Did you notice none of these recipes are original to me?? 
10. We hardly ever buy our kids toys. And yes, that includes birthdays & Christmas. Considering how generous our families & friends are and how much joy they get out of buying gifts for them, we restrain ourselves to stick to things that are either essentials (like socks, underwear & shoes) or educational. The few toys we've gotten them were mostly from Goodwill! And guess what? They adore them and think they're so cool. I'll ride that wave as long as I can.
11. We use a budget! This is a big one. It's one of those annoying things to set up that yields huge dividends down the road. We used Financial Peace University with Dave Ramsey as our guideline and have adapted it digitally to our liking. This keeps us in check in each area of spending, giving & saving. We like telling our money where to go instead of it going without our say. We are also debt free! This saves us from "stupid tax" (AKA interest) coming out of our budget every month and gives us more freedom with our spending.
12. We are grateful. Abundantly and consistently grateful. We never want to hear ourselves complaining about stuff, especially. We give credit where it's due to God for always providing.
13. We keep it all in perspective. We no longer have car lust or gadget envy like we may have had as teens & young adults. We know what is required to run our home and complete our work & tasks. If that's all we have, it is quite enough. If we ever doubt, we take in some humble pie by reminding ourselves what we have in comparison to most people in the world. And in those places, the people can have more joy & hope than we do! Good lesson.
14. I always evaluate cost vs value before committing to something like a service or regular expense. For example, I could go to a gym to work out, and it may even have child care included that's super good for my kids. However, I evaluate the demand in my day, the cost from my fun money each month, and the time I'm gone around getting there and ready to work out. Instead, I find ways to work out from home that are effective and suit my style. Then I crack my own whip and get to work! 
15. We even save money when it comes to our dogs. In a society where pets can be valued equally as children for some, these costs can get quite outrageous. We care about our dogs dearly and would be quite sad if they died. However, we did not pay more than $60 to adopt either of them. I have checked out vets to find the best rates for necessary services. And when they do die, which will happen, there will be no fancy memorial or place for them in the back yard. Plus, we have an approximate dollar amount we will not exceed in the event they need a lifesaving measure. As much as it hurts to say goodbye, it hurts worse to go to financial extremes to save them when they are just animals and possibly no guarantee of it working. Once they're gone, they will not have conscious thought of who we are. That's hard to type even for this pragmatist! 

This list is not completely exhaustive or meant to be a lecture to anyone. I just want to share if it can be helpful. I know there are many hearts of women who want to get back in the home and feel stuck. Probably the best thing to do first is to PRAY! Then go from there. 

Friday, February 14, 2014

The Real War On Women

There is a war on women. But contrary to our beloved media's reporting, it's not from the Republicans. It's not even political, even though that is symptomatic of the actual problem.

This war on women has been going on since just after the beginning of time. You can read the account in Genesis when Eve made the fatal choice to eat from the forbidden tree going against God's specific instructions. She took upon her the worst enemy a girl could have - Satan. He was the one who enticed her and reasoned God's warning away in order to get her to fall. He tickled her ears with haughty words of grandeur to secure her demise. And in the process, she took down her husband with her. Ugh. I think we'll all be standing in line with the rest of our female former humans in heaven to ask her just what she was thinking. Am I right? 

But then I think to myself, "Would I have been so strong to withstand Satan's words?" I'd like to say so, but there's no guarantee. And what women hasn't struggled with being on par with someone else and knowing just as much and being just as capable? I could guess maybe Mother Theresa, but she was enough of a humble disciple to admit that she may not have turned Satan down either. So with this in mind, I think about what women are being bombarded with today and how we battle it out.

In Genesis, God was clear on the relationship between Satan and Eve (and consequently, all of us ladies who come after her) and what she would suffer as a result of her sin. He said, "And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel." & "I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing; with pain you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you." (Gen 3:15, 16) 

Ah, rats! "He will rule over you." Come on! This is not today's woman we're talking about, is it? Yeah. Yeah, it is. So many women today want to complain about how the Bible has set up the "hierarchy", if you will, in marriage. Did you read why? Why does he rule over you? Because of sin. It never ceases to amaze me that so many things we despise in this humanity of ours pretty much traces back to sin. In fact, it all does. It makes perfect sense, and we should be aware of this before we continue to reluctantly submit to our husbands and complain that he is the head of the household. I actually think Christ has redeemed this part of marriage though by creating a biblical mindset for both men & women that is complimentary to each other and creates a peaceful and unified home. We can rise victorious in that thought! Christ has yet redeemed us again in another way we may not have ever considered. Praise Jesus! The cross wins again. And this part of the war on women has been won. 

Okay, so back to Satan. This "enmity between you and the woman, between your offspring and hers" is referencing, prophesying even, how Satan will be vanquished by Christ's victory over sin & death. Satan is cunning and quite sharp. He knows more than anyone that God will follow through on his promises and the standards He sets. I mean, he did get kicked out of heaven for assuming himself better and more powerful than God. He was a victim of God's wrath already. But the father of lies couldn't help himself. He tried and tried and tries to beat God. But despite the small victory of Jesus' death, Satan will never be able to claim all of our souls. Christ was a sufficient sacrifice to end sin's power, and He redeemed that "enmity" between the woman & Satan. And part of the war on women has been won. 

Now I can't say that Christ has redeemed that whole "pains in childbearing" part. I guess you can say that God led modern medicine to find out how to do a spinal or epidural for that. But I'm at a loss for that part tying in to Christ's redemption. I'd love to hear it if you have some way of connecting those together. :-)

But a cultural norm that is beginning to fade, luckily, is the idea that women are subjected to motherhood strictly because of their ability to conceive and carry children. Some women find it a burden and a curse ("pains in childbearing"?). And here is another war on women. Women are taught to loathe their reproductive systems (directly & indirectly) and force their bodies to act accordingly so that they can enjoy sex freely without threat of pregnancy. And if the body doesn't comply, it is treated harshly to correct its mistake. Satan really has the wool over the eyes of some women now, doesn't he? He uses haughty words of grandeur to tickle their ears and then causes them to feel ashamed when the sin has taken place and the appropriate measures must be taken to make it "right." He tempts and then points the finger. He watches her fall and then kicks her while she's down. I think this war on women won't be redeemed (in our human eyes) here on earth overall. It seems to be a war that is fought and won one woman at a time as she decides to claim Jesus as Lord. I don't know for sure. But I do know that there are plenty of women out there who are desperately needing the peace and healing and forgiveness that Christ offers. And I'm praying that I can be of assistance to help those ladies find their way to Him to truly end the real war on women.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

All The Single Ladies - 50th Post!

To all of the single ladies out there…

You are beautiful. 

You are worthy.

You are capable.

You can definitely be enough without a spouse!


Most of you probably want one. And that's not bad. It does get bad when our hearts stray from what God intends for us to have. His fullest, biggest dreams for his children are to find peace in Him and to have a loving relationship with Him that honors who He is. However, he made us not to be alone. For most people, that means having a spouse to live alongside for the rest of our lives. 

It ain't easy. And I won't belittle the fact that it seems to be harder and harder to find good guys out there. Maybe this just feels like a room closing in on you as you approach a certain age that you just knew you'd already be married. No matter what though, having a good guy to share your life with is no small or simple task. Women all around have proven that it's not worth it to settle. Women all around have proven that it's not expedient to find a guy to marry just as a sperm donor in order to have kids. The quality of a marriage begins long before you get married. Hopefully, your parents started grooming you to become a great wife to your future husband. How? By showing you what a great wife looks like and what kind of husband a great wife should have. I am truly sorry if you don't feel that you had that kind of influence. But, regardless, you do have a brain and can read and find what God wants for you in a marriage. 

Now I've never been one for being a wimpy girl. Those who know me well know this is quite true. But I did have as a period in my life where I was wimpy in the relationship department. I allowed myself to not hold in high esteem the things I should have been looking for in a man. I ignored and excused away every red flag. And I paid for it. My heart hurt. And it wasn't the severance of the relationship that hurt the worst. That was merely a flesh wound. I hurt my soul. I hurt the very core of who I am when I chose to relent to worldly standards. That's a burn that takes a LONG time to heal. But it did by God's grace. 

So please hear my hurt & my heart, single ladies. IT AIN'T WORTH IT! No matter how much you may feel like settling or giving in will soothe your aches for love and affection and/or children, you will only end up on the path to disappointment unless God really gets a hold of that relationship to transform it to his glory. 

Please set up for yourself guidelines. Boundaries, if you will, for your heart. I wised up pretty quickly after this broken never-should-have-been relationship. I made a list that had godly and personal requirements for the man I was to marry. Notice I wasn't just focusing on dates or having fun or meeting different people. I wanted to meet him. I wanted to focus my prayers and desires of my heart on what God wanted for me in a husband. And guess what? He delivered! And I wasn't even aware. (I lack some of that women's intuition a lot of time.)

All of my list I found in Monte. Who would have thought? I mean, he was skinny. Still is. He looked 12. Barely looks 20 now. He's not a dominant personality like me. He is in no way a reflection of who everyone thought I would marry. But so what? God had a plan and knew what he was doing. We just allowed him to do it and tried our hardest to let His plan be ours. Now, 10 years later, I have no regrets and find great comfort and trust in my husband. It's remarkable and wonderful way to live. 

If you haven't done this yet (make one) or have had one for years now, keep praying over it as if your marriage depends on it. God is good! Truly. Trust in Him. 

This link is to a blog that has 12 non-negotiables in a husband. This is a helpful post to begin/revise your list. And the link at the bottom shows what men should have on their list as non-negotiables as well. That can be your springboard to better yourself in ways to prepare to be the most amazing wife possible. But maybe you won't ever get married. So in this process you have to be willing to relent that possibility. I know those words sting or cause some intense negative emotion in you. But I truly believe that if I hadn't met Monte, I may still be a single woman. Maybe it's easier for me to say that since it didn't come to pass. I get that. But I want to highly encourage you to consider that not finding that kind of love isn't the greatest loss of life on earth - losing your integrity in Christ and sense of self in order to satisfy an earthly desire is. Then having to live with those consequences. It's a steep price to pay.

The Husband List

Once you've made your list, pray over it like crazy. You should even share it with others you trust explicitly. If you just know in your heart that it'll happen, then bring in the troops and start the battle on the spiritual side! And know that you have to be willing to be receptive to a person who may not be who you alway pictured in your head. You may just pass up the greatest catch just for you. After Jesus, of course (wink)!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Christian Women & Their Sexuality: Marriage to last a lifetime

God designed us to be married for our entire lives!

Yes, well our entire life post-nuptial. There is one growing trend for people to think of marriage more as a commodity instead of a commitment where it can be disposable and/or replaced when not working or rising to expectations. 

This is a topic that can stir up quite the tornado of emotions in people. Some have strong feelings for condemning divorce and others in justifying it. No matter what our personal opinions are we need to face the source of marriage and what He says about it all. He has several places in Scripture where this is discussed. The essentials are such:
1. Don't divorce. God hates it. Malachi 2:16
2. Adultery is the justifiable basis for divorce per Jesus. Matthew 19:9
3. Don't marry a divorced woman (or man). Matthew 5:32; Mark 10:11; Luke 16:18
4.  Paul had another exception for a believing spouse: to allow an unbelieving spouse to leave if s/he wants, which leaves the believer able to remarry. 1 Corinthians 7:15
Biblical References to Divorce

So…….where do we go from here? Let's start at square 1. God made Adam & Eve. Eve was the complement to Adam. God saw that there needed to be a companion more like Adam that would supplement the relationship for him. First. Marriage. Ever. And notice there was no fancy ceremony. No ring. No honeymoon. No theme, colors, flower girls, boutonnieres, mothers-in-law, etc. How was marriage solidified? Good, ol' fashioned consummation. That's right. He lay with his wife or joined himself with her. Yes, erotic. But that's how God fashioned us. When our bodies unite we seal the deal. 

On we go. From here we are monogamous within marriage. And for good reason. There are so many dynamics to a thriving, growing marriage that it makes it very difficult to share all of yourself with more than one person, especially at once. This monogamy unlocks the door to a whole world of intimacy with just your spouse. You can be 100% who God made you with your spouse. This bond was never taken lightly by God, and we should be wise to honor that with our actions.

I'd like to focus on #4 above since it's got some underlying context. Or at least some believe it to have such. This has been coined the "Pauline privilege", which can be summed up like this:

'According to this concept, Paul taught that if an unbelieving spouse leaves a believer, the believer is not bound to the marriage relationship, but is free to remarry" (1 Corinthians 7:15). And some people recognize such a thing as a "constructive desertion," which would be when a husband so brutalizes his wife that it is impossible to live with him any longer; or when a wife has so harassed, or brutalized her husband that it becomes impossible for him to stay with her. When that happens, whether or not the person actually moves out, the situation is the equivalent of desertion, and divorce and remarriage are permissible.'
What Does the Bible Say About Divorce And Remarriage?

I see this as having a spouse who doesn't practice the faith despite the words that come from his/her mouth or the show that goes on each Sunday. However, I am very careful to ever advise in this direction. I have a dear friend whose husband just would not stop hurting her by cheating (sex addict despite her being willing to have sex with him daily and to his standards). He constantly betrayed their marriage vows and her. I was livid! But I never told her to divorce him. Why? First of all, she was in it for a lifetime. She is a superbly godly woman who strives to exist for His glory. She did not feel led to divorce. Her husband had somewhat of a relationship with God but had not let himself be sold out to His purpose instead of his own. She was sure that God's grace is sufficient. I did tell her after a tearful phone conversation that she can have him "hand[ed] over to Satan." (1 Cor 5:5)

Now this "Pauline privilege" does expound into areas that people are much more likely to encounter than just literally having an unbelieving spouse leave you. There is abuse in some marriages that threatens more than just the emotions. And other actions that are being taken out against spouses can be considered "desertion" by this concept. 

Despite this, the underwritten rule is to remain married and monogamous to each other. Let Christ so fill your lives that you each take joy in continuing in this relationship. When He is the pinnacle of your world, staying married isn't hard. And considering divorce should almost be laughable. 

Marriage is no joke. More of us in the church need to be the champions of strong marriages; the more men who do this the better! God is so good and gives us this gift on earth. Our mindsets will determine whether or not we enjoy it. If you feel that you and your spouse may not make it or are struggling, please seek council from a trusted source. No marriage is immune to hardships & struggles. No marriage is too good to need counseling. You'd probably be surprised by how many great marriages have taken the time to get help. Don't let pride keep you from finding a way to mend the wounds. Your marriage will come out even better when you push through and conquer the trials!