Dealing with the uncomfortable

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This is Lucy. Lucy is our second schnauzer who we adopted about a year ago. She is ORNERY! (If you don't speak southern, that means she's a mess! Always getting into trouble!) She's also a walking set of illustrations for life, and I'll share one of those stories in my new book coming uot this fall, How Can I Possibly Forgive? Rescuing Your Heart from Resentment and Regret.

This is Lucy's bed that came with her and is a whole lot smaller than she is now, but she LOVES it. It's her spot, her safe place, where she goes when she wants to be comfortable despite the fact she's technically outgrown it.

Every time I see her in it, I take a picture because it just makes me laugh at how she loves that little bed when she has to scrunch up just so in order to fit into it.

Her insistence in staying in something so little because it's familiar also makes me think about how we do that in life. Have you ever been in a season in your life - maybe in your job, maybe at church, in a situation with friends - where you know God's telling you to move, to change, to try something new, to step out and lead or walk in a brand new direction?

You know He's telling you, but you still hesitate, you still resist, you sorta just stand there in place hoping God doesn't really mean you, because if you're honest, you really like where you are, right now. Ever been there?

My husband and I are going to be starting and co-teaching a brand new Sunday school class in our church beginning one week from tomorrow. We're excited to see what God does with this group, but as the time gets closer, the realization of what's happening is starting to set in.

This afternoon, we're going to a crawfish boil with the class we've been in since we moved back to our hometown, and it suddenly hit how hard this will actually be. Because if I'm honest, we feel comfortable in the class we're in. Our friends are there, we like our teachers, we've enjoyed the fellowship and community with the other couples.

So stepping out to lead another class isn't easy. We won't know everyone who comes.. at least at first. We'll have to feel our way with those who join us in how things are set up, how our class will look, what our class needs will be.

But God never calls us to be comfortable - He does ask us to be available, and it's through our willingness to be available that His incredible hand shiens - His purpose becomes obvious - His will is confirmed.

So I share this with you for a couple of reasons - first, as we step out in faith, connecting couples in our church and community who haven't yet really joined in with a small group, please keep us in your prayers.

Second, if you find yourself sometimes like my girl Lucy, doing your very best to stay squeezed into the spot where you've been comfortable, but the grunting and groaning and maybe even actual growing pains you're experiencing are letting you know God wants to move you somewhere else so He can use you to glorify Him and His plan and SEE His plan unfold - go ahead my friend, and stand up and stretch out those cramped-up legs!

Walk forward towards that new place or job or move or class or leadership role He's calling you to move to. It's okay to be a little uncomfortable when you do it - because you'll be looking at Him with every step you slowly take.

And that's exactly what He wants you to do.

When Your Kid’s Name Isn’t Called

School Awards

School Awards

So the other day I did something exceptionally brave.

Or maybe, in hindsight, really dumb.

I went to my son's 7th grade awards program.

Now - no one told me to go to his awards program. I didn't get a note, or a text, or an email from one of his teachers or his principals suggesting I might come. (Though my friend Karim, whose son Carlos is super smart, didn't either, and she went. So there's a little reasoning for you that I wasn't completely crazy.) I almost texted a teacher friend to ask if I should go, but if I'm being honest, I was actually afraid of what she might say. So, no, no one told me to go to the awards program the other day.

I just went. And not without a whole lot of hope.

It's been a tough year, y'all.

My husband, Cliff, was deployed for most of it and he left for stateside training and mobilization in California about three weeks before Caleb started school. The day he left U.S. soil for Aghanistan was also the same day I picked our 12-going-on-20-year-old son up in the car line and his first question to me was "Mom, how old were you when you first started dating?"

Hello, teenage hormones. What nice timing you have.

(And just in case you only have girls and can't imagine that boys go hormone crazy too - let me make it clear - THEY DO. They very.much.do. I have the slamming doors, rolling the eyes one minute and giving me a big hug and "I love you Mom" in the next minute stories to prove it. Teen boys go just as nuts as teen girls. So I guess we're all lucky. Lucky us.)

The first semester was evil horrible awful. We spent HOURS at the table every night doing homework that should have only taken an hour or so. I was part cheerleader, drill sergeant and prison warden. When I wasn't helping him after school, I was doing online research during the day, trying to find extra help in what he was studying and looking for why he was having such a hard time. We tried rewarding for good grades. Consequences for bad. But nothing seemed to really help. I felt like I was homeschooling without actually having him HOME to SCHOOL. I was also beginning to wonder if someone had re-enrolled me in middle school as a terribly twisted joke because didn't I already go through Algebra 1 (and did JUST AS BAD THEN AS I WAS DOING NOW?! Okay, I was doing worse now, because according to my son's math teacher, that is "not how you do it." Thanks Common Core. Appreciate it.) 

I checked his grades hourly daily and had reoccuring heart paralysis every time the screen came up with "Your child has received a FAILING GRADE TODAY." Which makes me ask the question -why can't they do that for really good grades too? Just to help even out the emotional extremes? Because if I'm honest, I didn't see "Your child has received a FAILING GRADE TODAY..." I just saw "HEY MOM - YOU FAIL! YOUR CHILD DIDN'T MAKE THE CUT TODAY."

If you're a mom of an only child, you will understand this - because when you only have one - you only have one. You are ONE and DONE. You don't have any more chances to get it right. There are no first pancakes in an only child situation. If this kid doesn't live up to your every dream, you don't have three more chances to alter your parenting methods and come out with a different outcome. When you have one child - this is it. When you're the parent of an Only, it's the Olympics, the Triple Crown, the World Series, and Miss America all rolled into one, and right or wrong, as a mom, you can feel all (both real and imagined) eyes on you when your child isn't successful - because after all, you only have one, right? What's the problem? What are you not doing right?

Add all of that to the emotions and exhaustion of a deployment, and you've got serious pressure going on. All I could think was, I cannot let my son fail 7th grade while his dad's gone.

By Christmas break, I'd tried everything. I knew Caleb was trying. I knew he was tired of the bad grades and I knew he was working hard in his classes and studying at home. But nothing was getting better. It was time to look for other reasons why he was struggling. After some testing, evaluations and input from his teachers and by his doctor, we not only had a better idea of what we were dealing with, but also a plan in place to help him improve.

During the second semester, we saw a turn around. It wasn't an overnight miracle, but gradually, his grades started improving, and I could see his confidence returning. We no longer had to spend hours at the table trying to finish homework. He could do his work, and I could check it after he was finished. As and Bs were starting to come home. The online grade sheet wasn't yelling at me nearly as much about failing grades.  Life was starting to feel a little less like one big middle school study hall.

And then he got sick. No fever, but a headache that wouldn't stop and vomiting at least twice a day.

Every. single. day.

His doctor ran every kind of test and nothing tested positive. At first she thought virus, then flu, then maybe migraines. When it was finally over, he had missed 22 days of school.

I'll spare you all of the details, but after more doctor visits and hospital admittances than he's had in his whole life leading up to this mystery illness, they were finally able to stop the headache and nausea. And about two weeks later we got a more conclusive test back that showed he'd indeed had Mono. It's sad when you're happy it was mono and not chronic migraines. I just wish we'd known that six weeks earlier.

Despite missing all of that time in school, I'd tried my best to keep him up on his homework and classwork teachers sent home, and miracle of miracles, the week before the awards program, his grades were posting happy looking As and Bs. SERIOUSLY. He had to come down with Mono for something to click and his studying to improve?

So I went to his awards program, because surely he might get SOMETHING. Like Most Improved? After this crazy year, he really needed an award.

Ok, let's be honest. This mama needed an AWARD.

So there I sat, in the mom rows, with all of the other award-expecting, camera-toting mothers, holding my breath as I listened to Perfect Attendance names get called. Yeah, that wasn't going to be Caleb. Those were the kids who gave everyone else viruses and colds because their parents sent them to school whether they were sick or not. I'm now starting to see the Perfect Attendance strategy...  I chatted softly with my friend Karim, cooed over her little baby girl in her arms, and took a picture of my friend LiliBeth's son getting an award, since I knew she was at work and couldn't be there herself.

Come on Most Improved... 

They got to the C-average award, given to students who maintained a 2. 5-2.9 GPA or better all year. They call this one the Thumbs Up Award, and my friend Karim looked over at me excitedly, her eyes looking hopeful, and said, "Oh, I bet this could be Caleb's!"

I chuckled and leaned over to her. "I HATE this award," I said. "It's like the "Sorry you couldn't make As and B's" award." She smiled as she shook her head and rolled her eyes at me. Did I mention she's a doctor? Super smart. Her son has her brain genes. He does not get the Thumbs Up award. Caleb got mine unfortunately (aren't you proud that I didn't say his father's?). But I listened patiently to the list of students, and tried not to sigh too loudly when Caleb's name wasn't called. Yeah, there was at least one grade that first semester that might have knocked him out of the running for that one... the same one that kept him from going on his band trip with all of his friends when he was forced to stay behind with all of the "bad kids" who got in trouble for various things like throwing books or running when they shouldn't have been, or not listening to a teacher. Caleb's sin was not passing one too many tests. Like I said, it was a rough year.

Come on Most Improved... don't they give out an award for Most Improved?

By the time they got to the straight As all year long awards and not one but SIX mamas sitting around me all pulled out their smart phones at once and started videoing, it hit me that my son's name was not going to be called.

Like, at all.

There was no award for Most Improved.

That Thumbs Up piece of paper was suddenly looking pretty good.

I sat and glanced at my 13-year-old several rows in front of me, whose face is in that weird ablong-shaped no-longer-a-little-boy-but-not-quite-a-man stage. He'd glanced over his shoulder at me, his face saying what he probably knew I was thinking. No awardSorry.

As the rest of the program wrapped up, I sat there, in the middle of the straight A mom section, and tried to push down the frustration bubbling to the top. I'm competitive by nature. Usually with myself. But I've always tried hard not to be THAT parent that pushes her kid to be what he's not. Which hasn't been easy. He's laid back, like his daddy. Doesn't always have a plan for the future, let alone for tomorrow. He just lives life. Doesn't have to have a strategy. Doesn't even have to have a goal. He's happy. He's content. Just being him. His video-game playing, tv-watching him.

It drives me CRAZY.

As his mom, and someone who has always had a plan and a passion, I've worried that his contentment - while a highly desired trait if you're, maybe, a funeral home director or, I don't know, GHANDI, will hold him back or that having no obvious outright passion in this crazy fast world we live in will cause him to miss out on things. It's probably why I'm always encouraging him to try new stuff. I've even told him that I wouldn't care if he makes below-average grades if he were interested in something else - like bike mechanics.

Or underwater fishing.

Mission work. No, I don't mind if you decide to go to Africa.

SOMETHING.

I keep looking for the day he'll find the "thing" that gets him running in the race instead of contentedly hanging out on the side, cheering everyone else on as they run by.

But as I sat in that seat, with beaming-for-good-reason parents all around me because they'd heard their kids names get called, God reminded me that Caleb hasn't grown up completely void of anything I might have passed onto him.

He might not be running in hot pursuit of something right now at the ripe old age of 13, but he also doesn't run after what everyone else is running after. He never has. When he was just a little guy in water wings, and all the other kids were jumping off the side of the pool, he'd run with just as much energy DOWN.THE.STAIRS into the shallow end and splash around with the rest of them.

He makes his own decisions and follows his own gut and usually most of the time makes the right choices, regardless of what friends or others his age are doing. And in that way, he is his own person. He is thinking outside the proverbial everyman box. In his own way, he's pursuing the path God's laying out for him.

NOT the path his mama keeps trying to shovel or put down in front of him in a neat five-step plan.

So, no, I didn't hear my kid's name called at the awards program this year.

I don't have any pictures to share on FB with the countless other moms in my news feed excitedly proclaiming how smart or how athletic or how all-around great students their children are.

I know there are other mamas who are in the same boat. Mamas of middle school boys who haven't yet figured out why studying is important, mamas of high school juniors who would much rather be hanging out with friends than learning anything, mamas of kids who - you name the reason - just haven't made the grade. Mamas like my friend whose child is severely autistic, who shook her head and chuckled at me when I shared this story the other day with her. She's never heard her son's name called for an award. But it doesn't mean she still doesn't wish at times that she could. There's some perspective for you.

So I didn't hear my kid's name this year - but I can be confident - and content (ok, I'm working on that last one) - that my son's name has already been called by God Himself when He brought him into this world and gave me the absolute privilege and blessing of being his mama. That God knows Caleb's name because Caleb knows God's - and I can be thankful he made that eternal decision and commitment way before we were ever thinking about getting some trophy or certificate at a school awards day. I can breathe easier as I focus less on what I think he should be growing up to be, and instead be prayerfully confident God's growing him up to be who He's called him to be.

Bottom line?

I have no idea who my son is going to become or what he's going to do, whether he will ever have awards in his future, or not, whether he will ever be recognized for anything outside of just being his cute sweet and sometimes teenage awkward and moody self (though, come on, of course I still hope he does - I'm his mama, after all.) But just as Hannah committed her precious son Samuel to the Lord, each and every day I have to do the same with my Caleb. I also have to remind myself that God knows what He's doing and He knows where He's leading my son. (and it's really ok if I never get the memo.)

It's God's job to lead my son to where He wants him to go, just as He lead me when I was growing up (have I really grown up?). It's my job as his mom to pray for him, encourage him, and watch him get there.

And when that day happens? You can bet I'll be the one cheering the loudest.

Yes, I'll be THAT mom.

I AM that mom.

So, like me, if you're struggling with the perfect kid envy virus that seems to hit about this time of year when all of the other parents around you are touting their kids successes and grand accomplishments, making it even more painfully clear that your child is NOT a perfect kid -  can I just encourage you that it's ok?

That for all of the seemingly perfect awards and wonderful honors so many of our friends children have, they also have their own hangups and struggles and problems you just don't know about?

That maybe, some of them might even be wishing their kids could be more laid back like yours, and not so stressed out they're in tears if they don't make As on everything?

Hey, it could happen.

Enjoy your summer free of grade-checking and homework-prodding. And every once in awhile, just for fun, call your child's name. He still needs to hear it.

 

 

Remember.

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It's late in the day and you have just been through one of the most harrowing life-tumbling roller coaster rides you've ever experienced. You're exhausted. Your body hurts, your head aches, your emotions feel as fragile as handmade paper. You just want to curl up and shut the world away for a few hours of uninterrupted sleep but worry keeps you from doing so. You have to keep moving. You have to keep going. The last several weeks have been tough, and you're not sure when true relief will really be in sight. The uncertainty of what's ahead is overwhelming sometimes to handle and you wonder what's going to happen to you and your family. But right now, the thing you're worried most about is when your next meal will be.

Probably none of us have experienced as many challenges as the Israelites did once they left Egypt but I think we've often felt the same emotions as they. Worry, uncertainty, wonder, a sense of hopelessness, a feeling of unsure footing.

Life can be pretty bewildering at times, can't it? It can be hard to believe that God is paying attention. But He is. We can look at the Israelites story to know that.

In Exodus 16 we find God's people in their second month of travel after leaving Egypt. They're in the wilderness and there is absolutely nothing around. No gas stations, no fast food places, not even a rest stop. They've walked for days with nothing in their stomachs and Egypt's all you can eat Cairo buffets are starting to look pretty good again. Forget the little fact about slavery and bondage as the price of admission; at least in Egypt they weren’t constantly hungry!

They share their complaints with the leader of this guided tour, Moses, and they make it clear that his comment card is about to get really bad reviews.

"Why didn't God let us die in comfort in Egypt where we had lamb stew and all
the bread we could eat? You've brought us out into this wilderness to starve us
to death, the whole company of Israel!" (Exodus 16:3-The Message)

But God hears their griping and like the patient and kind father that He is, He answers their cries for help.

That night a flock of quail descends on the camp. Roast quail is quickly fired up in every campfire kitchen and stomachs feel fuller that night than they have in a while. The next morning, the families roll out of bed and to their astonishment, find little thin manna cakes all over the ground. They cautiously pick the flaky bread up, examining it. Man-hu, they ask. What is it?

Moses reminds them. It's God's provision. Once again He met their needs.

We have really short-term memories, don't we? It has been less than two months, less than eight weeks, less than 40 days, and the Israelites have already forgotten the miracles they've witnessed. They’ve had an up close view of God in action and they’ve already let it slip. He brought them out of Egypt by sending Moses to persuade Pharoah to let them go. And then when Pharoah changed his mind, God parted the Red Sea, allowing the Israelites to cross, and preventing the Egyptians from following. They were dying of thirst and God gave them cool flowing water to drink. But none of that mattered once the hunger pains set in.

They hadn’t yet learned to look for the manna.

I confess I am no better sometimes. After all of the miracles I have witnessed in my 30-some years, the interventions I have seen first hand from God in my life, the blessings He's poured out, there are many times I too am complaining of hunger pains - not the physical, but the emotional. Like a child, I'm wanting something. Instant reaction. Instant gratification. Instant supply to my whiny demand.

I need to be quiet. I need to listen. I need to look.

There is no reason to fret. Instead, I need to lift my eyes to the sky. Expect the manna to fall.

We can do this when we remember the manna that has fallen before. Just like the Israelites should have remembered the massive waters of the Red Sea parting and lifting like waves on heavenly pulleys, so should we remember when God has saved us from ourselves. Or provided when we needed it most. Or orchestrated a blessing completely undeserved.

The manna that we will find in the morning may not look exactly like we thought it would. It may not come at the exact time we believe it should. But we can, without doubt, without hesitation, without exasperation, be certain that it will come eventually.

So ask yourself today - where has God brought you manna? Can you name the ways He has walked beside you? It could be something as little as a stranger opening a door for you at the exact moment you needed to see kindness, or as big as a bill being paid off that you had unceasingly prayed about. Take a moment and write some of these manna moments down. Remember them and thank God for them.

By remembering, we can then more easily expect fresh manna to fall.

Photo Credit: Philerooski via Compfight cc

From the Archives: God’s Purposes

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While Sara is wrapping up a very intense time of writing, thank you for praying for her. She is so grateful for your encouragement through your comments, tweets and Facebook messages. If you haven't taken the time to follow Sara on Twitter or Facebook, click on over and join her! We have another fun giveaway in store for you in the coming days and we don't want you to miss your chance to win. In the meantime, be blessed with the following archived post from 2008. ~ Sara's Team

Yesterday morning, I woke up and grabbed my copy of "My Utmost for His Highest." Sometimes I read this for my devotion for the day, sometimes I read "Daily Light" which is a devotional I learned about from Ruth Graham that uses only scripture, pulling verses together which is pretty neat.

So yesterday, before I even got out of bed, I started reading the entry for the day.

Here was the verse:

"And all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of Man shall be accomplished... And they understood none of these things." Luke 18:31, 34

That struck me because I don't think I ever think a whole lot about what went on with the disciples as they were following Jesus around during His ministry on earth. Can you imagine what it was like after Jesus was crucified, rose again and went to Heaven? We know that the Holy Spirit was with them, and they were empowered by that. Still, the thought of doing God's work on earth on their own must have been a little overwhelming.

When we are in relationship with God, we don't write the blueprints to the plans. We don't send our orders up through prayer and ask God to deliver. Or, at least we shouldn't. Something that I've always remembered from going through Henry Blackaby's "Experiencing God" study so many years ago is that we need to see how we fit into God's will - not the other way around. It's the difference between good and great - we can do many good things on our own, but only the great can be experienced when we follow God's purpose.

Oswald Chambers talks about how from every standpoint, when you look at the life of Christ, it was a failure. Except from God's view. "...what seemed like failure from man's standpoint was a tremendous triumph from God's, because God's purpose is never man's purpose."

God's purpose is never man's purpose. Somewhere along the way we've gotten it into our heads that we will always be favored, our lives will always be rosy and God will never let bad things happen to us, and if bad things do happen, then God is punishing us. But I don't believe that's the case. The Christian life is not a call to the good life - at least not by the world's standards. Yet, how many of us still aspire for the big house, the big cars, the big investments and stock options? I think that's just human desire. But that's not God's desire. His desire is to grow us in Him. He wants us trusting Him, leaning on Him, serving Him. But so often, I think we look at it the other way.

God's purpose is never man's purpose. And He uses us most when we are at our least. When we are swinging without a net, when we are running without our good shoes, when we are just trying to make it through one more day. (Click on the Keep Reading link for the rest of this post...)

I always thought I would sing for ministry. A lot of people don't know this but my degree is actually in music. During my college years, though, God deliberately and clearly changed my purpose to His. Instead of encouraging people through song, He wanted me to encourage people through words. Left up to me, I would have done the other. Even once He had me pointed in the direction of writing, I often tried to figure those next steps out on my own. I thought I'd write for a Christian organization, making a good salary, and winning awards. For the rest of my career. :)We like things to be sewn up with nothing left undone, don't we? We like knowing the "rest of the story." We like mysteries, only when we can figure out or be told what really happened by the end. (But I'm convinced that God likes to offer twists to the story.)

The Christian life isn't like a sixty-minute CSI on tv. We may never know some of the answers for why things happen. But if we follow God's direction, His leading, we can be sure that His purpose will be achieved.

One more quote from Oswald:

The call of God can never be stated explicitly, it is implicit. The call of God is like the call of the sea, no one hears it but the one who has the nature of the sea in him. It cannot be stated definitely what the call of God is to, because His call is to be in comradeship with Himself for His own purposes, and the test is to believe that God knows what He is after. The things that happen do not happen by chance, they happen entirely in the decree of God. God is working out His purposes.

How is God working out His purposes in your life today? See, I almost wrote, what are you doing today to help God work out His purposes? But I don't believe it's up to us to do. I believe it's up to us to observe. To recognize. To stand back and say, "OK God, work Your purpose in my life." He wants us to simply be. 

See, I may not understand why God allows my husband to be sent to the other side of the world for a deployment, leaving his family at home by themselves. I may not understand when bad things happen and service members are killed in combat, leaving families and loved ones to grieve. I don't understand why military marriages are put in such stressful and straining situations such as deployment multiple times.

But I do know this: I do know God cares. And that He loves. And that He wants to grow us in Him. When we decide to put His purposes first, that's when we can experience His peace. His love. His hope.

Ask God to continue to work out His purposes in your life. And trust that He will. 

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. - Matthew 6:34

Dear Spiritually Abusive Husband

Dear Spiritually Abusive Husband,

I don't know you, but your wife emailed me today looking for help and advice.

Dear Spiritually Abusive Husband

Apparently, you travel a lot and when you do, you spend a lot of time at night on your computer, looking at porn. She's not sure, probably because she doesn't want to think or admit to herself that it could really be that bad, but she suspects your addiction hasn't stopped at just the computer screen.

You've told her you don't think this is wrong, though you'll flat out deny that you do it if anyone asks. Except for your wife who found out by accident. Computer technology makes it pretty hard to hide anything these days, by the way.

Since you know she knows, you've told her it's no big deal, that what you're doing isn't wrong, it's certainly not adultery. You've told her she should be thinking about what's wrong with her. You're very good at quoting scripture to her, and you've marked all the passages where it talks about how wives need to submit to their husbands, and overlook their husband's faults.

So why am I writing you? Because apparently she noticed you bought my book, My So-Called Life as a Submissive Wife, for your Kindle. And her heart fell to her stomach, because no doubt you bought it planning to read about a "real" submissive wife who doesn't give lip and is fine taking orders, and you lined up your legal pad, ready to take a whole lot of notes to give her when you get back from your latest trip.

And that's where we need to have a little talk.

First, I hope you realize just how wrong your original notion was. I'm as lippy and stubborn as the next gal, but God's done a whole lot in my life the last few years, teaching me what it means to be a godly wife and mom. I am very much a work in progress.

Second, I'd like to introduce you to my husband, Cliff. Cliff is not a perfect man, but he is a loving man. He is a man who wants to follow after God, who doesn't always get it right, but doesn't give up trying. He is a loving husband, who lets me know every.single.day. how much he loves me.

Lately, he likes telling me, "I love you desperately." 

And do you know what that says to me? He loves me so much he will do anything for me. He will do everything for me. He loves me as God calls him to love me, "as Christ loves the church." That is not an easy thing. (Remember my comment about lippy and stubborn.)

Cliff knows something that you have not yet learned. His leadership in our marriage has a direct influence on whether I follow him or not. He knows he can't force me to submit to him. But he can lead me, and if he leads me well, submission isn't an issue. It only becomes an issue if his life with Christ isn't right, and that spills out in his attitude and actions and words towards me.

You have a precious wife. I can tell by what she says in her email that she loves you. But her heart is breaking.

Pornography is wrong. It is emotional adultery. You are lusting after other women in your heart, and scripture speaks to that (like - don't do it.) The intense anger that you show towards your wife, the scripture you quote at her, the control and manipulation you throw at her, is all an attempt to keep your sin a secret. But all sin comes out eventually. Because God already knows. 

The thing is, though, you don't have to keep living like this. There is JOY in sexual intimacy with your wife, you can have happiness and full sexual contentment but what you've done has defiled -  yes defiled, that same word you like to use with her when you're trying to convince her that anything goes because you're married - your  relationship with your wife because you've allowed immorality into your life and subsequently into your home.

I prayed for you this morning.

I prayed for you and your wife, that God will get hold of your heart and that He will restore your relationship with Him because when you invite sin into your life, like you do every time you sit down in front of a porn site in your hotel room, you are putting one.more.wall up between you and God. And all He wants to do is just knock those walls down and know you.

God has dreams for you as a husband and a leader for your home. Good dreams. Amazing dreams. But you are throwing them away for things that will never ever ever make you truly happy. And you are destroying a relationship that God fully intended to use to help you be the man He wants you to be. But YOUR actions - not your wife's - are damaging it severely.

I hope you really have been reading my book.

And I hope you've realized a few important points that my husband and I both learned during that year.

1) You cannot change your spouse. You can only change yourself. So before you keep worrying about what your wife is or isn't doing for you, take a little time to examine what YOU need to be doing, and what YOU need to change.

2) Change in a spouse happens most directly when there is change in YOU. I saw first hand the influence I had on my husband's life - and I also saw the influence he had on mine, but neither one of us was the best influence we could be when we weren't fully following God first.

3) Biblical submission is not the job of a husband to enforceLet me REPEAT: Biblical submission is not YOUR job as a husband to enforce. It is only in your God-fearing and God-loving leadership, emulating the very LOVE of CHRIST, that a wife will respond to that leadership and choose to be submissive.

I am praying that you will go to one of the pastors at your church and start a sincere dialogue on how you can get help to overcome and break free from your addiction to porn. I am praying that you find a godly man who will be a mentor for you and show you what being a godly husband looks like. And I am praying that God restores your marriage to be the full, amazing, loving relationship He desires it to be.

So please, STOP quoting scriptures to your wife when your own heart needs some time in the Word first. Find ways to show her LOVE, and not anger or hate. God did not give her to you as your wife to be your slave or your verbal whipping boy to take the brunt of your anger. He gave her to you to be your helper, and if you were a smart man, which I think you can be, you would also realize He gave her to you for you to treasure.

"Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her to make her holy, cleansing her with the washing of water by the word. He did this to present the church to Himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or anything like that, but holy and blameless. In the same way, husbands are to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hates his own flesh but provides and cares for it, just as Christ does for the church..." {Ephesians 5:25-29}

 Jesus loves you.

He loves you so much, He was willing to go to a cross for you. When you can fully accept that truth, and then read what His Word says in Ephesians above, and equate the two, I hope and pray it CHANGES you, that you will realize that the lust you are experiencing with porn is no longer satisfying.

...that the only true satisfaction you can receive from intimacy comes from Him.

From the Archives: 5 Ways to Show Your Spouse is Important

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Since I have met a mini-word goal working on my new book, The Sound of Forgiveness, I wanted to check in with you. Writing is not as glamorous as you may think. With every stroke of the keyboard, there is still a list a mile long of other tasks waiting to be done as a wife and mom -- cooking, cleaning, laundry, helping with homework, mopping up water from heavy rain that got into my office.. . On and on it goes! Your prayers and support are vital to me when I'm up against a deadline and I wanted to take a moment and thank you from the bottom of my heart!

I also wanted to remind you of the great e-book sale going on right now for My So-Called Life as a Proverbs 31 Wife for your Kindle, Nook and e-reader. I saw it the other day on Amazon for just $2.51 on Kindle and I think CBD had it for even less! This is a great deal. Hope you'll share this news with your friends if you enjoyed the book and think they will too. There's just a few more days left until it goes back to regular price.

In the meantime, please hop over to my Facebook page where I've announced the winners of the 10 copies of My So-Called Life as a Submissive Wife. And if you didn't win this time, don't worry. There will be plenty of great giveaways coming in the weeks ahead.

Before I head back to my office to work on my next 10,000 words, take a minute and read this post from the archives. This is a great week to be challenged to show our spouse that they mean the world to us and are important. Enjoy! (And keep checking back here at the blog...  like I said, I've got some few more giveaways up my sleeve!)

From the Archives: 5 Ways to Show Your Spouse is Important

From the Archives: Unsettled

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While I'm busy pounding away at the keyboard on my latest project, The Sound of Forgiveness, my team has pulled a post from the Archives specifically for your Saturday morning. And don't forget to pop over to my Facebook page and check out the latest sale on My So-Called Life as a Proverbs 31 Wife, and the fun giveaway we're having for its sequel, My So-Called Life as a Submissive Wife. Hurry! The giveaway ends Tuesday.

In the meantime, grab a cup of coffee and enjoy this post originally written in 2011. I love God's timeless Word and I pray that you hear from Him today.

 


 

Have you ever waited for God to work?

You're expecting, you're counting, you're hoping, you're.... waiting.

And the longer you wait, the more anxious you become? Or maybe the more perplexed? Or confused? Or discouraged?

Have you ever waited for God to work?

And yet, isn't God working all the time? For even when His hand is not obvious, isn't His Hand still on it?

Know what I mean?

He's got it. He's on it. He's working.

We just can't see it.

We're like the child who can't wait to open the beautiful wrapped gift sitting in front of him.

But it's not time.

And so we wait.

And we fidget and we get up and walk around, and we sigh loudly, or complain quietly.

That the waiting is taking too long.

Waiting makes us feel...unsettled.

I don't like to feel unsettled.

Limbo is not the address I wish to post on my Christmas cards this year.

But I think about some other folks who felt unsettled... and they got to feel that way for 40 years. And they sighed loudly, and they complained softly (and sometimes not so softly) and yet...

God was still in control.

Still in charge.

Still with a plan.

I think God uses our unsettled-ness to focus our attention. I'm doing a personal study of Hebrews this month and over and over, the author reminds us of God's sovereignty. And Jesus's gift. And God's plan for us all.

So we wait... for the things spoken, and unspoken. With hearts yearning for hope and spirits hoping for peace.

And let the unsettled feelings come.

Because regardless of how long we'll continue to wait...

There is one foundation we can rest our unsettled heads.

The Lord is my rock, 

my fortress, and my deliverer, 

my God, my mountain where I seek refuge, 

my shield  and the horn of my salvation, 

my stronghold. 

~ Psalm 18:2

Faith in the midst of uncertainty reminds us what faith means in the first place.