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Archive for the ‘Unequally Yoked’ Category

On the cusp of the previous post, I AM NOT AN EVANGELIST…I have been thinking. In fact, God’s been pouring stuff into my heart at such a rate, I can barely process it all. Aren’t we saying something about God every minute of everyday?  I mean whether we are purposeful about it or not!  Again I think I have a unique vantage point because Mr. Handsome isn’t a believer so I see from both sides of the coin – I know that he watches every move of every person who claims to have Christ in their heart. You might not notice his gaze, but it’s there, quiet and strong. He also watches those who make no claim.

I have been writing a lot lately and I asked a dear friend if I could interview him – I am interested in his perspective as an unbeliever married to a believer.  His response intrigued me and challenged me all at once.  My friend said that more often than not, Christians hide themselves behind “serving others” or the fact that because they have Christ in their hearts, they don’t sin anymore.  He he has felt the judgement of Christians and it doesn’t leave him with invitations or more questions, it leaves him with a sour taste in his mouth.

Jesus came to show us the WAY to live…I wonder if sometimes we’re so busy trying to “figure it out” and “do it right” that we forget what LIFE is all about. Life is for the living, it’s about living. I think about all the ways I’ve messed up in the past, how many times I’ve shown, not Christ in my behavior, but myself. My weaknesses. My ugliness. It happens. It will happen again. There will be people who are watching me, because of my claims, and who will pounce and say, “SEE! I knew it!” …hopefully they will offer me grace and forgiveness. Hopefully I can offer the same thing to them. Just like every culture – there are good people and bad people.  Let’s be honest. There are good people who aren’t believers. There are bad people who are. I guess if we are really being honest, is there such a thing as good or bad – is that it easy? Or is it more complicated?

There are wounded people.

Some hide it better than others – sometimes it makes good people do bad things.

When I begin to focus on the believers vs. unbelievers – a certain level of panic rises within me…what if I do it wrong?  What if they see me at my worst? What if they realize I am a sinner? What if they are there in that one moment when an ugly word slips out of my mouth or that moment when I snap at my child in frustration?! What if…what if…what if…

Let me alleviate all doubt – I am a sinner. I am wounded. I am broken. I make mistakes. I am not perfect.

I am also a daughter to the King of Kings. I am created with purpose, with passion, with love. I can be silly. I love to laugh. I sing at the top of my lungs when I bake, sometimes I even dance around the kitchen. I love to serve people. I love to listen. I love to share. I love good coffee and better friendship. I cry, sometimes because I’m sad and sometimes because I’m happy.

If I fret over all of the eyes that look at me and just how they see me – I’ll be in a never ending cycle of doubt and even fear and I’ll always be searching for a way to make them see me better!

Here’s the truth. Here is the only answer I can give to my friend, or anyone else who asks the question…

How have I been impacted by Christ in my life?

Well before I gave Him the Great Invitation – the weight of the world fell on my shoulders. Performance. Perfectionism. Money. Materialism. Work. To me, understanding what it is to be the child of God changed (changes) me in a way I could never have dreamed or ask and in ways I never want to go back. When you know what it is to be an adopted child, loved like nothing you’ve ever known on earth, it changes your perspective. When you truly understand that you are worth, literally worth dying for; it changes the way you look at yourself.  When you know that even though you have done the things you have and you should be dead (or worse), you are loved beyond measure…loved enough that He would watch His own son be tortured on the cross to pay for your sins, it changes the way you love others. When you know that no matter what you do or don’t do, he will keep loving you, forgiving you and offering you grace; it changes the way you offer forgiveness and grace to others.

That isn’t a promise from me to you. It’s still your choice. You can be a Christian and not think about any of those things. You can give the Great Invitation and choose to allow none of these things to shape your heart. You may ask yourself, what’s the point of it all, church, Bible study?  Well if what you just read isn’t the impact God is having on you – then maybe you’re missing the point.  Maybe you’re so busy looking at yourself through the eyes of others – others who, no matter how much they love you, will fail you, will hurt you, will miss you at times…

Try looking at yourself through the eyes of the
Father who longs to know you.

That is all He really cares about is your heart and relationship with Him.
There is no mold. There is no MUST DO list.
Just love and relationship with someone who loves you so much,
he died for you.

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I need an editor to come up with some good blog titles.  I was going to call this “Instant Healing vs. Healing Journey”.  Then I was thinking about the scripture in Matthew 22:35-40 Love your neighbor as yourself and I thought maybe this should be titled “What does it look like to love yourself?”…but in the end, all of those things point to Him and “He Does All Things Well”.

If you’ve read my blog before, you know that my husband Mr. Handsome, and I are unequally yoked. Most of the time I can weather the storms that come because of that but sometimes I am so weak and weary. I feel guilty because I’ve talked to my friends about this so many times yet still I lament. I must sound like a broken record.  But then I remember Paul’s thorn and in 2 Cor. 12:9 Jesus says “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”  I am reminded that human weakness provides the ideal opportunity for divine power. I have no idea why I experience this pain – It isn’t because I don’t have faith that Mr. H will be saved – I do! Maybe it’s so Mr. H can see the pain of my heart (know my heart), or to remind me to press into Him and not to lean on my own strength and understanding.

Sometimes we look at our pain and we think it’s a grain of sand compared to what others are going through – yet I don’t believe God measures pain. The pain is real.  In those moments I can’t seem to escape it or push it down.  I think it’s important to share this with friends who love me and who will hold up my arms when I’m weary. I think it’s important to feel that pain (I’m reminded of the book The Gift of Pain) …but not to build a house and dwell there!  The pain of this won’t go away if I will it to or if I ignore it, not until Mr. H is saved, but the storm does pass.

This is where the thoughts of instant healing vs. a healing journey come in.  I know, without a doubt that God can bring Mr. H to his knees today; that He can bring complete healing right this minute…and sometimes he does. It’s instant.  Other times it is more of a journey. My prayer is that His will be done and not my own, even if it means a painful journey.  Would I want to miss one moment with God – to really be WITH Him and not just FOR him? So I embrace the journey. Sometimes that means sobbing in His lap instead of passionately marching in His streets.  They are of equal importance and both come out of love – love for others in ministry but also love for myself because I am His! I can’t have one without the other.  If I can’t love myself well, I can’t love others well…and how well I love myself is a direct reflection of how well I love God.  This is where I remember the scripture in Matthew to love myself as I love my neighbor.  The question isn’t who is my neighbor, it’s how well do I love myself? Sometimes it’s easier to help with others’ pain than to look mine straight in the face.

All of this to say…we’re going to go through things.  We can’t just hide them under the rug, we can’t will them to go away – sometimes we just have to take the time to embrace the feeling, in the moment, and

face the pain of it until the storm passes.

A friend sent me a quote today from a FB update (Mark – lead from Casting Crowns). He said

“As believers we have to see through the eyes of Jesus that people are not our enemy. For them to see Jesus through us we are going to have to climb off their backs and start washing their feet.”

I thought about what that means to me, for today… I think we can go even further than that to say that sometimes we have to face our own pain, sit (cry if you need to) and

let Jesus wash our feet so that we can sit before others and wash their feet.

Because He really does do all things well. 
If He hasn’t brought instant answers, instant healing, it’s because the journey is just as important to Him as the answer.  He wants to hear our hearts. Ps 34:18 says that He is close to the broken hearted. I can just picture His tear stained shirt washing my feet today as I sob for the heart of my beloved husband.

He does all things well…

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If you’ve read my blog before then you know that Mr. Handsome and I are unequally yoked.  I used to lament and feel sorry for myself. I have cried enough tears over this to make a Lake Superior – pun intended!

My mentor told me recently that when our babes are small, they mostly depend on Mama to teach them and direct them.  This is such an important time…and blessed are those who have a Mama there to guide them.  But when our boys begin to grow out of childish things, it is the Father who draws out the men in them and guides them into manhood.  We are experiencing this right now as Booker is 15 and Monkey is nearly 13.

I can see, especially in the season we’re in right now as a family, not how my God has used me or my faith to change my husband, but rather

how He has used my amazing husband to change me and my faith. 

Now – you all know what a true gift church is to me.  Being 2 hours from town and not being able to get to church every week – I deeply cherish the times I do get to go (see the right column for the category “Church”).  I particularly appreciate my church, Evangel Chapel…so know now that this post is not made at the expense of the church (any church).  If you feel inclined to take it that way, please take a minute to pray about it and read it again.  Of course, it’s covered in prayer long before I ever push post here…on my end.

We have a little guest cabin which Mr. H and I have worked very hard on.  Our heart is to create a sanctuary for friends and loved ones to come when they need to get away and rest.  We’ve had many guests over the years, lots of people from the “church world” too.

God has me right where He wants me, this I know.  As I said, He’s used my husband to change my faith, rather grow it!  Perhaps because my husband is not saved, I am extra sensitive to the fact that non-Christians watch, ever more closely, those who claim to have Christ in their hearts.  One couple we had out from the church world is a good example of this.  While his wife and I were inside baking, the husband brought out a few beers to share with hubby.  Don’t get me wrong, I see nothing wrong with having a beer on a hot day or a glass of wine on a summer’s evening – it’s that all too often there is a shift that takes place in the heart of some at this time.  The husband started talking about people at church and how righteous they can be. The things The Husband would share with mine over the next hour would not only shock my husband, but the blue air of profanity began to pollute our clean country living.  I’ll admit, I was angry.  This man knows full well how many years I’ve prayed for Mr. H’s salvation –

for godly men to rise up beside him and show him that they’ll stand for the love of Christ.

Another time our son spent the day with a boy from church and when he came home, he admitted that he had disobeyed our rules of NO YouTube without adult supervision.  He and I were neck deep in a good discussion when Mr. H came home from work. He listened awhile.

“Can I ask you something son?” Dad said.  “Yeah sure,” said Boy.

“Do you claim to have Christ in your heart?”

“Yes,” said Boy.

“Then you have to live it. Words mean nothing. If you claim this then you can be assured that 100 pairs of eyes are watching to see if you will live what you say.”  He went on to share a story about the dad of this boy and how when we’ve gone to get him and I go into the house for tea, the dad swears up a storm of gossip and bashing others…and it makes him wonder just what kind of God this man serves.  “You don’t change how you act or who you are depending on who you’re with.  Know who you are and stand firm in it, no matter what.”

What kind of God do you serve?

My husband is a quiet man. A good man.  He’s not perfect (nor am I)…but he is who he claims to be; he is Father to 2 Princes and 1 Princess.  He’s drawing out the men in his boys and teaching his daughter what to look for in a man who will someday claim to love her.  He is a man who has a good many godly qualities. I have learned more about God, about faith, and even about who I am as a woman of faith – from this man than from any man I’ve ever known; saved or unsaved!

Do you claim to have Christ in your heart?

 

 

Col. 4:5 “Be wise in the way you act towards outsiders (unbelievers), make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasonsed with salt, so that you may know how to respond to everyone.” 

 

Where are you, men of courage, men of integrity?

Where are you women of courage, Titus woman?

 

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I’m reading the book Courageous by Randy Alcorn, based on the movie by the creators of Fireproof.  I think the movie comes out in September and I can not wait to see it!
WOW. 
I have loved this book. I’ve devoured it in two days!  It really address’ the crisis we’re having in the world right now;
with demoralizing our men and stripping them of their manhood and respect.  Then we wonder why they won’t stand up.  This is a really good book, one that every man in the world should read. I plan on making it required reading for Booker in school this year…

I have witnessed so many marriages in this past year, struggle to the point of dissolving and every one of them made my heart ache.
What on earth is going on?
Because Mr. H and I are unequally yoked, I get a lot of questions about how I handle the differences in our home.
What about the man loving the wife like Christ loved the church?
Those are really tough questions. Yes, God calls the men of this world to do that and the Bible teaches them how to stand;
but that is when they have committed their hearts to Christ.  Even Christian men have to know the Bible in order to follow it.
It’s hard work committing to study. Who has the time?

I was really touched by the men in this book, how they stood and kept each other accountable.
The Resolution they made and how they walked it with one another deeply touched my heart.
They lived by Scripture.

Why aren’t more men doing this?

Because it means being vulnerable. That is scary, especially for men.

Why aren’t more women doing this?
Same reason.

Then I got to thinking…

Maybe it’s me who should take this book to heart.

If we expect men to stand up and be Courageous as leaders of our families, as spiritual head of our home,
then shouldn’t we, as wives, stand up too?

How many of us know what the scripture says about being a wife and mother?
Sure, we’ve all ready Proverbs 31 but have we studied it?
Have we ask God to show us what it means in regards to His heart for us, as wives, as mothers?

What if we took the time to study the Bible together instead of chit chat?
What if we banded together,

A Circle of Sisters,

and make our own resolution?

I think God could do something powerful with this;
Something powerful in our families.

Are you up to the challenge?

 

 

 

 

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I’m sitting here about to stuff my turkey and I’m wondering what you are doing today.  I wish I could get a little glimpse into each of your homes to see how you are celebrating this special time.  This morning, I was really overwhelmed with how great this time is.  Nothing could ever truly prepare us for the depth of the meaning of the resurrection; and I can’t wait til I’m “home” so that I can feel the heart of the Lord in regards to this day.

Years ago when I was lamenting over spending Easter without a word of God in our home, my husband was vulnerable enough to tell me that Easter is very special to him.  Even though he is not saved and (claims that he) does not believe in the resurrection, Easter is a special time for him.  For me, if my kids couldn’t experience Easter for the right reasons, I didn’t want them to just experience it the way the world does either.  In my selfishness at not being able to celebrate the resurrection, I had decided there was no point in making a big deal of Easter.  He shared his heart with me and ask me to prepare a special meal and celebrate Easter together as a family.  I wonder if he knows why Easter is special to him, in his own heart?  (wink wink).

So the children and I have spent all morning cleaning the house – working together as a family to prepare a special meal.  We invited “home” Grandma and Grandpa to dinner to share in this special day with us.  We won’t say grace when we eat.  We won’t talk about what the Lord sacrificed for us or the crucifixion of the Son…not with words anyway. 

God knows my heart.

He knows the longings of my soul.  I wonder where you are today. I wonder how many of you are preparing to eat a meal with your unsaved husbands or families.  Maybe you’re feeling sorry for yourself – as I am today (just being honest – Easter is the hardest time for me in regards to Mr. Handsome’s salvation).  Dear friends, THIS is the reason Jesus gave himself on the cross. My husband. My family. YOUR husband. Your unsaved relatives.  He is risen and He has not for a moment forgotten about the longings of your heart in regards to the salvation of the ones you love. He is good. He is faithful. 

He is risen!

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I have a few dear friends who are single.  I know that they have longed for husbands at times in their lives and I’m so honored to share my life with them.   I’ll tell you that they inspire me and challenge me in my walk (thank you dear ones, you know who you are).  There are times when I’ve envied them for their ability to just serve Christ wholly – while I know there have been times they might have envied me with my opportunity to serve my husband and minister to my babies…

Ultimately though, aren’t the desires of our hearts the same – a willingness to allow everything we do to bring us closer to God?  Yes, we both desire to be wholly surrendered to Him, with a deep connection and intimacy with God!  I love that this is our goal and that in our own ways – God gives us the gift of being able to seek that out!

The next book study we’re doing on our forum for wives is Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas. I can not wait!!!!  Gary Thomas says of a man and woman within a marriage (both saved);

What both of us crave more than anything else is to be intimately close to the God who made us. If that relationship is right, we won’t make such severe demands on our marriage, asking each other, expecting each other, to compensate for spiritual emptiness.

Wow. Isn’t that thought provoking?  Now, what about me?  My husband is not saved yet so in what way does that unbalance things?  I won’t be untruthful, it does unbalance things somewhat…because obviously the above goal is not shared by both he and I.  I used to LONG for my husband to read all the Christian Marriage Books that I’ve read for years – thinking, “well he needs this more than I do!”  I would read these books and think, “that is all well and good for the perfect Christian wife with the perfect Christian marriage to the perfect Christian man…”  Let me share one of the more brilliant insights I’ve gleaned as I’ve listened to the hearts of women for over 6 years on my forum, Loving Our Husbands ~ there is no such thing!  What my husband needs is a wife who cherishes him, who lifts him to the King, who believes in him, who respects him…the last thing he needs is a good book! 

He needs to SEE the love of Christ at work in our home! 

So I think this message is for every one of us!  When I think about my precious sisters in Christ who are single, their marriage is to the King as mine is to my beloved (and eventually to the bridegroom Himself) – our goal is the same…a deeper intimacy with God. 

What if God designed marriage to make us Holy more than to make us Happy?

This is certainly true within my own marriage.  I’ve waited 12 years for my husband’s salvation.  I’ve prayed, I’ve wept, I’ve begged, I’ve grown!  God has twisted my spirit with His as I’ve waited.  Isa. 40: 31  But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength.  He’s shown me a deeper understanding in His providential care. He’s shown me how to trust Him evermore when I can’t see where I’m going.  He’s nurtured a meek and quiet spirit within; given me the heart of a servant.  I can’t even begin to say all of the ways He has changed me.  How grateful I am for a God that never leaves me where I am.

I am so excited about this book study.  You can follow along as we share some of the discussions we have, on our forum blog, Loving Our Husbands. I hope you’ll be blessed.

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I am fascinated by this topic.  I am writing as part of a theme for Chrysalis and Marriage Monday. Go check out some other posts on this topic.  I’m also really hoping my friend Kristi will write for this because her story is fantastic!!!!

Finances are often an area of friction in marriage.  When Mr. H and I met, he was extremely frugal and I was totally UNconscious of spending. I had no one depending on me so if I wanted something, I worked hard and bought it!  I also didn’t mind buying things on credit – it was all about what I wanted then.  You can imagine the stress this put Mr. H under when we got married.  Poor man, what he’s had to put up with…

As I began to seek Christ in our marriage – and genuinely learn what it meant to be a godly wife, I began to see the importance of this topic!  For me, it is an extension of submission…what I mean is an extension of my submission to Christ in the area of my marriage.  I began to see that finances were really important to Mr. H and even though, at first I didn’t get it, I made a conscious choice to be more thoughtful of my husband in this area.  I started with little things; I wouldn’t stop for coffee when I was uptown, I’d go and have coffee at my mom’s instead.  I wouldn’t go out for lunch, I would go to the grocery store (remember we’re two hours from home when we’re in town) and pick up salad fixin’s.  I became much more careful in the small things, which eventually grew into bigger things. I started asking my husband how he felt about me spending money on this or that.  He has never once said no to me – but I know that my asking his opinion (not his permission) meant a lot to him. It made him feel respected, valued – listened to.

I realize now that I’ve become just as frugal as he is!  We don’t actually have a budget – we’re just very, very careful about how we spend our money. We make a huge effort to save every year and put something down on the debt we have remaining. We’ve made an effort not to buy things on credit.

Another area I had to submit to Christ is the area of tithing.  With Mr. H not being saved, I didn’t think it was right to tithe our money without discussing it with him.  I decided, and dedicated to GOD, that I would not tithe or give money to the church without discussing it with Mr. H first.   I am not saying this is the only way – but rather, it was the way I felt led to do it in our situation.  I began mentioning certain things that our church would be collecting for; like the family who lost their son and our church was helping fix up their house to sell – or the mission that our church does by building houses in Mexico for families who would otherwise never own a house.  Of course, long before even mentioning this, I would prayerfully take it to God.  The most beautiful thing began to happen…Mr. H would say on his own, “I think we should give X amount of $ for that.”  I know this never would have happened if I’d continued to disrespect his feelings on the matter of finances. 

As with all of the tough issues that come up in marriage – when we truly take them to HIM in prayer and consider one another, it’s not so tough after all.

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