Thursday, February 4

It's a PROCESS!

Scotty and I talk to a lot of people about marriage issues. In these discussions, we hear repeated phrases. One phrase is this, "I just wish my husband was the spiritual leader he's SUPPOSED to be." Before I say another word, I want to affirm that, YES!, the Bible calls the HUSBAND to be the spiritual leader of the home. Also, I believe there are a NUMBER of consequences families receive when the husband refuses to be the spiritual leader of the family. Having said that, I want to also say that I've been guilty of USING THAT as an excuse NOT to be what called called ME to be, as the wife.

See, I don't think our men are necessarily REFUSING to be the spiritual leader. What if, they just don't know how? What if, God's design in marriage is that the husband works with God IN A PROCESS to develop him into the spiritual leader? And, here's the catch... what if the wife is to be PART OF THAT PROCESS?

I'll agree that it would be so much easier if we all just married the spiritual rock... the guy that grew up in the most awesome family that taught and prepared him to be what his future wife and children needed him to be. It would be SUPER AWESOME if all women said, "I do," to the man ALREADY equipped to be EVERYTHING she and their future children needed him to be. That would be amazing! However, then he'd become GOD to that woman and her children; therefore, diminishing God's plan that HE actually be God.

There go's that plan!

So, we are left with our current state. Ladies, we ALL marry men that lack the necessary tools to be the perfect, spiritual leader of our families. In fact, we live in such a fallen state that most of our men have no idea what it even means to be a leader. Many don't know where to start. Therefore, in youth, immaturity, and selfishness, our men lead poorly or don't lead at all. This is IN NO WAY a men-bashing statement. Actually, I want to speak to the women of these men (myself included).

STOP POINTING FINGERS AND GET ON BOARD WITH GOD'S PLAN! 
 
Yes! In God's design, your husband will lean on God to lead and guide your family well.  But, there will be a process to get him to that point, and YOU are privileged to be part of that process. I know! I know! You've BEEN part of the process! You've been telling him over and over and over that he's supposed to lead. But, that's not really what I mean.

Pray for your husband! During the day, pray that God will capture your husband's heart in a way that gives him COURAGE to lead. If you haven't thought about it before, leading in today's world would be SCARY! I'm glad I don't have to do it. REALLY! It's a daunting task. And, if our husbands are going to do it well, they will have to SURRENDER and lead under the authority and guidance of God every step of the way. It WILL NOT be a natural surrender. So, PRAY with all you've got in you. We must take ALL of the energy we've  been using to point fingers, complain, and grumble and use that energy to PRAY! I know that I am FOR Scotty becoming the leader he can be, but I wonder if sometimes my actions appear to be AGAINST him? When I'm regularly praying FOR him, my actions more often demonstrate that I am not against him in the everyday issues.

Pray for your heart in the process. I have learned something about myself over the past couple of years.... I HATE A PROCESS! I really, really do. I much prefer God just move and work in a MIGHTY, powerful, IMMEDIATE way. I want to pray for the miracle and watch it happen. I think most of us are that way. But, marriage is for LIFE. And, although we don't like it, some of the things God wants to accomplish through this beautiful partnership will take LIFE. You know where your husband struggles. We are most definitely praying for God to do what only God can do in those areas of struggle. I'd like to suggest that we add to that prayer, though. Let's ask God to strengthen US in the process. Only He knows how long the process will take and ONLY HE can prepare us to ENJOY it along the way. Ask The Lord to show you even the tiniest areas of progress. Those areas build hope, and we want to see them!

Pray for your cooperation in the process. For me, this is where it gets tricky. In our marriage, there are times when I need to have some time with Scotty and RESPECTFULLY point out an area where I feel he needs to lead better. When that is the case, I pray HARD and seek my words carefully. God has called me to be his helper; and sometimes, that means I have to initiate a difficult conversation. Sometimes, though, I see an area that I'd like Scotty to lead more in, and I KNOW my job is simply to pray more. In these instances I must face the fact that I'm not called to fix every struggle my husband has. He has his own walk of faith, and some things will be between him and God. I've got to know when to stay out of that. This is my struggle.... Where do I help and where do I stay out of it? I won't say I've figured it out. But, I will say I've found God, yet again, to be FAITHFUL! He leads and guides me when I confess my great need for Him.

Pray for endurance in the process!! What if you knew it was going to take FIFTY YEARS for your husband to become the husband God wants him to be? Would it be worth it to stick around and find out? I've got a little experience in this area. Scotty and I will have been married NINETEEN years this May. He tells people that my first husband was a real jerk. I'VE NEVER BEEN MARRIED BEFORE! He's talking about himself; and in some ways (not a lot of ways) he's right! The past 4.5 years have brought about REAL and HUGE changes in Scotty. He's not a PERFECT husband, but he's pretty awesome in all ways that matter. However, getting to this point has been a PROCESS. In 2011, I had BIBLICAL support in getting out! God (only God) gave me the endurance to stay and fight for our marriage. Looking back, I know He empowered me with that endurance; because, remember, I HATE A PROCESS! I'm so glad he did! I would have missed out on the beautiful work God has done in Scotty's life. He's used failure to capture Scotty's heart, and our family is stronger because of it. There will be struggles in Scotty's life that will take another 4, 10, 20, years for God to work through and work out. But, I'm convinced I want to be part of the process. When the battle is TOUGH, the victory is SWEET! And, the tougher the battle, the sweeter the victory. I want to endure until the very end! Prayer is the key!

Scotty and I know a man who STRUGGLED with all things good as a young person. In his teens, he struggled with having respect for authority and committing to purity. In his twenties, he struggled with being the young man God called him to be. As his thirties approached, all seemed to be caving in. Every area of his life was marked by this man's struggle; his marriage, his family, his work environment, etc. Life was HARD; and what made it even HARDER was knowing that his OWN choices created each difficult scenario. SELFISHNESS hindered his ability to SURRENDER his ways to God's ways. By age 35, he was going through a divorce, losing his business, and on his way to isolation and regret.

This man is older now, and God has taken hold (again) of his heart. He's not perfect. BUT, his life is bearing the fruit of repentance and surrender. His story isn't any different than MANY others. We all tend to mark our young lives with selfishness and pride. As we cooperate with God, He bends us and breaks us SO THAT we mature by losing the devotion to SELF and giving ourselves to HIS way. It's a process! What I find most tragic about this man's story is the fact that the "wife of his youth" is missing out on the beauty of what God is doing in his life. She gave up and gave in and had Biblical support to do so. However, she is missing this beautiful work of God. She doesn't get to be part of God redemption in this man's life.

I realize that someone may be reading this today that is  in a difficult marriage. My brain is swimming in the different scenarios, and some of them are BEYOND tough. I'd ask you to commit your marriage AGAIN to the Lord. Acknowledge that redeeming the mess WILL BE a process... and it could be a very long one. Admit that the ONLY person in your marriage you can change is YOU. Ask God to work in YOU so that you'll be prepared for WHATEVER He chooses to do in your marriage. Be BOLD and HOPEFUL in seeing the beauty God can bring. Remember, the harder the fight the sweeter the victory. What better legacy can you leave for your children, your friends, the world than the legacy of SEEING THE THING THROUGH! Do what you said you would do, because God WILL do what He said he would do! And, you don't want to miss it.

Friday, January 1

2016: BELIEVE

I've always thought that a common theme of old people conversation is the rapid passing of time. They (old people) commonly say things like,

It seems like only yesterday, you were...

This year has simply flown by!

and, Where has the time gone?

Yet, for months now, I have said things like,

Is it possible that my child is turning 13? It seems like yesterday I was rocking him to sleep. 

2015 has been the shortest year ever. It's flown by!

and, Where has the year gone?

Yes. I've said ALL of these things, but I am NOT old! So, clearly my thought processes were incorrect. Time really is speeding up. :)

With time progressing rapidly and life moving at break-neck speed, I'm on a mission with the Lord. He is challenging me to BELIEVE Him fully, and I'm determined to do so.

Please don't be confused. I've believed in the Lord for the majority of my life. At any moment (since I was 7 years old) I would answer questions of my belief system with FULL belief in the God of the Bible. But, I'm going to say I've not really allowed myself to BELIEVE Him as His Word calls for me to believe. I'm going to go a step further and say that I've not SEEN many real life examples of this kind of belief in the lives of Christians I've looked to and looked up to. I don't want that to seem like a criticism! I'm not judging or blaming. I'm simply saying that I am currently under the conviction that I don't live with enough BELIEF (maybe because I haven't been readily exposed to it), but I want to!

The kind of faith I'm feeling challenged to pursue is causing me to evaluate my entire belief system. I've grown up in very conservative Christianity. I'm grateful for my upbringing. However, I have to wonder if I've missed out on the full revelation of God at work among us, because I've had certain expectations and guideline about HOW He works. And, I'm not going to beat around the bush, because my posts are long enough already, but my denomination has been so OUTWARDLY opposed to the "name it and claim it" teaching that I've found myself shutting out ANY resemblance to that philosophy.

Don't worry... I'm not leaping to the other side. I'm not tossing out all of my good, credible, BIBLICAL upbringing to jump on a bandwagon of sorts. But, I have some questions in my heart. Consistently, I find myself in passages of scripture urging believers to ASK, to SEEK FOR ABUNDANCE, to GO FOR MORE, and to MARVEL at the works of God. When I look to those with more education than I have or those who've been in spiritual authority over me throughout my years, I find a cautious belief system. Often, I see powerless faith that might be too uncertain of the reality of God's activity in our lives to ask BIG things with expectant hearts and to see Him work in MIGHTY ways. I honestly want to be taught to approach God COURAGEOUSLY and to lay out my petitions with hope but also with trust that His sovereignty rules. Yet, everywhere I turn I see whole hearted, courageous and public believers being VERBALLY DESTROYED for their faith, belief, and crazy ideas that God would somehow want to bless His creation.

I feel there MUST BE a holy and sacred space between powerless, unbelieving theology and simplified "name it and claim it in Jesus" teaching. So, this year, my word is 'BELIEVE.' I am committed to searching the scripture for myself during this year with the guidance of the Holy Spirit and Godly teachers to challenge the cautious faith I've always had. Boldly, I'm going to ask for impossible things and watch for God's activity in my daily life. Don't worry, my prayer to Him also involves a pleading that He demonstrate to me where my belief is false and that he shield me from incorrect or improper thinking. I trust Him as my perfect teacher. I'm also asking that He FLOOD MY LIFE with real people who exhibit real belief. I'm asking for God to raise up people in my life that aren't afraid to approach the throne with MIGHTY requests... believing He will answer... and knowing that His answers ALWAYS come. They may not come the way I expect or want. But, if we're not asking, how will we see all the ways He is working?

I'm sick and tired of powerless Christianity! I'm completely OVER the mentality that we're here just suffering through this life to get to eternity with our Father. I've seen enough of it! This year I'm praying for LIFE CHANGING BELIEF, and I'm praying it will spread throughout all believing communities. I'm reading Beth Moore's book, Believing God. I picked it up in Lifeway a few weeks ago. I didn't want to read it. I wasn't looking for a book for me. But, I felt God wouldn't let me leave it. I got a few pages in and KNEW it was exactly what I need to be reading. I may need to read it over and over for a very long time. There are two quotes in the book that I've gone back to daily to read and think on,

A big difference exists between trying to manipulate God to give us what we want and cooperating with God so He can give us what He wants. The latter is our goal. 

Godless philosophies have not been my temptation. In my life experience the most dangerously influential opinions have been those held by intellectuals and scholars who profess Christianity byt deny the veracity and present power of the Bible. 

OK... So, I'm declaring my very own FAITH CHALLENGE. In 2016, I'm NOT going to be afraid to ASK, to look for WONDERS, or to question my current thinking. BELIEVE is my word; so to start, I'm going to trust He can handle my questions. He's God! In Him is power. John 10:10 says that Jesus came SO THAT, in Him, we could have abundant life. Personally, I want the FULLNESS of that abundant life. I don't want to miss out on what He wants to give. Ever! The Bible includes character after character that ASKED big things from God, believed Him for the answer, and received. 

Like Beth, Godless philosophies have NEVER tempted me. However, I'm afraid I've adopted a philosophy that believes in God without ever really believing in the life-fueling power He possesses and shares. I've lived with such fear of asking with improper motives that I've preferred simply not asking. How sad! I will exercise my faith by ASKING, AND ASKING, AND ASKING all the while trusting that He has priorities when giving, because He is SOVEREIGN. He knows what brings honor and glory. He knows what I need for the future. And, He gives perfectly where both are concerned. 

Full BELIEF in THAT KIND OF GOD will cast out FEAR and usher in POWERFUL, ABUNDANT, LIVING. I'm looking forward to a great year! 

It seems like only yesterday I was writing those same words about 2015.... So, maybe I AM just a wee bit old. (tear)



Tuesday, December 29

New Year/Same You

I never got around to writing that Christmas post I SO wanted to write. The "God With Us" of Christmas is AMAZING to me. And, I was surrounded by it this year. Everywhere I turned, I was confronted with Emmanuel either in the worship of Him or in humanity's great need for Him. The fact that Jesus left His home in Heaven and came to Earth in FULL human form is nothing short of AMAZING. Don't you think there were prettier ways to save us? There's not a lot of "pretty" here on Earth in comparison to the perfection of Heaven. WE are a collective mess. But, His determination to REDEEM the ugliness of sin in our lives drove Him to come and live with us. "The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. And, we beheld His glory."

Maybe this concept was even more real to me this year, because my Fall was even uglier than it has been in the past. The year, 2015, is ending, and I'm not overly sad to see it go. You know what years past have held for me, and I'll agree that some have been tough. But, this year was ugly and tough in a way that I NEVER expected when 2015 began. On the EXACT Friday in August that I received terrible news 4 years prior, my family received news that someone dear to us was leaving our life by choice. And, while my devastation four years ago was met with a person ready and willing to dig in and WORK to restore and redeem our relationship, this relational break was met with distance and refusal to participate in any kind of restoring process. I have been devastated. I have been confused. And, in that trauma, I've hit the very end of me (I thought I'd already been there) and been forced to search even harder for clarity, vision, and a way out of the darkness. So, IT MATTERS TO ME that the WORD didn't just call us to light. He actually CAME to walk us to the light in HIMSELF.

Thank you, Jesus.

So, YES, this Fall was DIFFICULT! BUT... I'm ending this tough year in more JOY than I've even known, because God has USED what I would label a problem to lead me to MORE truth, MORE clarity, and MORE of HIM.

As 2016 begins, I'm extremely hopeful. I know and trust God is going to do HUGE things in me and in my family. I am BELIEVING that we are going to see NEW things in 2016.

"See, I am doing a new thing!
    Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
    and streams in the wasteland."
Isaiah 43:19

However, the disaster that I've lived through in the past few months has taught me something about ME. I have a habit of looking for new when God may prefer that I look to make new out of the old. Earlier this year, actually I believe it was at the very start of 2015, I expressed to my counselor that I was experiencing such darkness. I couldn't explain it well, but what I said to her was that I'd leave me lengthy and worshipful quiet time with the Lord in the morning feeling refreshed and renewed only to walk into the kitchen and snap at the very first person that annoyed me. In other words, my time alone with God wasn't transferring into the life that I was leading with other people. Honestly, if that is the case, what's the point!? If my interaction with other people isn't TRANSFORMED by the power of the Gospel, I believe the power of the Gospel hasn't TRULY transformed ME!

Life is a process. Our God is a miracle working God, BUT sometimes we miss out on the miracles by expecting them to happen instantaneously. As I'm setting goals for this new year, I definitely want to cooperate with God to experience some NEW things. More than that, though, I feel called and persuaded to commit to SAME in a NEW way. I feel motivated to STEWARD WELL the relationships, possessions, and callings I already have SO THAT God can move in NEW and MIRACULOUS ways in MUNDANE and ROUTINE experiences. 

Yesterday, I went back to a sermon series that I listened to at the beginning of this year. It meant a lot to me then. But, I was afraid I didn't hear all that I needed to hear. I was right. The series was titled, The Power of Same. In it, Steven Furtick uses the John 15 command to remain in Me to challenge his congregation to spiritual disciplines that keep us GROWING in Him. Our tendency and human nature want to cut out, move on, start over when life hits rocky patches. It would be so much easier to label these times as mistakes and find an excuse to end it and move on. But, often, God allows us to LIVE in those difficulties FOR A TIME (sometimes a long time) to show us our OWN need to be pruned and developed. If I'm never forced to stick around when a relationship, a job, a situation, a church family gets difficult, I'll never learn the process through which sanctification and true growth occur in my own heart. 

As hard as life has been, I feel like blinders have been removed from my eyes. I no longer get up from my quiet time and feel all of the power leave me. I've stepped deeper into relationship with the Lord KNOWING that He brings that YUCK in me to the surface SO THAT He can expose it, heal it, and one day use it. The process may be ugly, but the outcome is beautiful. And, when He cuts back (prunes), it's always to produce MORE. 

"I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be EVEN MORE fruitful."
John 15: 1-2
Ouch! All branches are pruned. He cuts off the ones that bear no fruit, and that's PAINFUL. But, He says He'll also prune (cut back) every branch that DOES bear fruit so that it will produce MORE fruit. And, that's painful, too. I believe all of us would SAY we want to produce more fruit, but sticking around for the pruning proves to difficult to bear at times. I'm in, though. In the past four years, He's proven to me TWICE that the pruning will hurt (it's excruciating). The outcome, however, is COMPLETELY WORTH IT! 

Instead of asking God for NEW this year, what if we ask Him to produce MORE with our SAME as we REMAIN IN HIM. As the pastor stated, "Resolutions are meaningless without routines to back them up." Our God works miracles, but we get to participate in them. And, truly, doesn't the payoff mean more when we've actually had to participate in the difficulties along the way. Recommit. Refocus. And, TRUST AND BELIEVE that, in every situation,

"The ONE who calls you is faithful, and He will do it."
1 Thessalonians 5:24
 

Tuesday, November 24

FIGHT to the LIFE!

I'm on my own in God's Word right now. Our Bible study has ended, and I'm without a curriculum. My plan was to read through Paul's letters. Studying his letters to the Thessalonians really made me want to read through the others (so many others) to find his purposes in writing to each group of people.

I hope to do that at some point. But, this week, I've felt led to study JESUS. One thing Children of the Day highlighted for me is that NEW TESTAMENT LIVING isn't easy. It just isn't! Living life as a Christ follower in this world means that I'm constantly faced with difficult problems that don't have easy solutions. What makes these situations even harder is that I'm also surrounded by religion wanting to cover every difficulty with easy answers. For the life of me, I can't figure out WHY! I don't think I'll quickly answer that question. So, before I look at Paul's letters to New Testament believers, I decided I should head back to the Gospels and study this Jesus I want to follow. JOHN -- that's where I'm starting.

In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. (1:4)

OK... So, there's nothing crazy and new about that verse. I've read it a million times. There isn't a thing that sounds earth shattering about any one of the individual words. They're all simple words, really. I decided to look them up anyway. The word light (phos) comes from the Greek root meaning to shine or to make manifest/known. In this verse, "light" speaks to the purpose of life that was found in Him (Jesus). Strong's says, "By metonymy, light is spoken of Jesus as the great Teacher and Saviour of the world who brought life and immortality to light in His gospel."

Maybe I'm reading too much into it. But, it struck me that this seemingly small definition DOES bring something crazy and new... something earth shattering... to my understanding of who Jesus is and what His coming accomplished. The Gospel does not begin with Christ's incarnation. It BEGINS in Genesis, chapter 1. I love reading the Old Testament, and the Gospel is VERY PRESENT in its story line. God chose us. From the very beginning, His relationship with mankind was HIS idea. The Old Testament is FULL of testimony demonstrating God's faithfulness to the covenant He made with His people. Humanity consistently chose to separate themselves from the One, TRUE God, but HE continuously pursued. In the Old Testament, though, Gospel relationship required DEATH. Every visit to the Tabernacle to meet with God required the death of an animal. Blood repeatedly poured out so that Gospel relationship between God and man could take place. 

Jesus stepped into the New Testament bringing life and immortality (eternal life) to light in the Gospel. Sin is still a big deal. Death IS required for relationship restoration. But, in Him, THE death occurred, THE blood spilled, and THE life won. This life IS the light of men. This life is what John says will shine, enlighten, and make the Gospel known. Can you even imagine how hard it must have been to break away from the mindset of DEATH to LIFE in Gospel relationship for those whose lives were driven by sacrifice?

John 1:4 expresses Jesus' call to LIVE. He overcame death SO we get to live! I do not think that means life in Him will be easy. I don't think answers are laid out perfectly for every situation. But, I DO believe LIFE should be what we're pursuing since LIFE is what Christ brought to light in His Gospel. But, we seem way too eager to kill....

That marriage that isn't exactly what we thought it would be? Kill it! I'm sure there's a legitimate reason why it's in your best interest to quit.

The job that's requiring too much time and energy investment EVEN THOUGH God opened the door and has shown His purposes in it? Move on... There are other jobs!

The plans to teach children in the mindset of Deuteronomy 6 that continue to fail because of a busy schedule? Those plans can die, because no one is helping to accomplish them anyway.

The controversy in the church over (insert hot topic of choice) that has the entire congregation divided? Death to the group! Two churches are better than one, right?

Maybe I'm being dramatic. But, this seems to be the world we live in. It's so easy to believe THE LIFE Christ gave should be simple or at least have some simple answers. It's tempting to assume any continued difficulty means a wrong choice has been made; therefore, the only solution is change the situation...KILL the problem, so life can be easier.  We may work at fixing the complication, but investing in the LIFE of that situation has a time limit. If it's taking too long or the answers don't become clear; then, it's DEATH! The ONLY answer is to kill it, remove it, and move on to what God's really calling us to. Surely, HIS WILL won't require so much energy!

This morning, though, I've been confronted with Jesus who came into the darkness, the death, the difficult and was LIFE... IN the darkness, IN the death, and IN the difficult. I'm enlightened that John chose to introduce Christ as the One who brought LIFE... not only death and sacrifice.... to His gospel. And, I'm challenged that John went on to say, And the light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not overpower it. The darkness HAD to cause difficulty, but it lacked the power to kill the LIGHT.

So, maybe we're killing the wrong things. Maybe our war is against the wrong enemy; therefore, we speak death over relationships, situations, and opportunities that, through Christ and in His power, were intended to bring HIS LIFE to light.
What if someone in that difficult marriage chose to kill the pride and misconceived expectation and let the relationship LIVE?

Is it possible to stick with the calling IN the difficult work environment to bring death to the part of the flesh always needing something from others that only God can give SO THAT the positive influence in the negative atmosphere LIVES?

I'd love to see more dreams about the way parenting is SUPPOSED TO BE die while the determination to teach and instill true value LIVES on for generations to come.

And, Lord Jesus, can we GET A GRIP  in our churches in such a way that love and unity LIVE while personal preference and division DIE?

We are fast approaching the time of year to celebrate the Word becoming flesh to dwell among us. The incarnation of Jesus Christ is life changing and life giving. He brought LIFE to light in the Gospel, so let's seek THAT life. In the difficult drama (and we ALL have it), seek to KILL what needs to die and LIVE (in and through Him) where He's called for LIFE. 

THAT'S the transforming living of the Gospel. And, I know a world that would LOVE to see a little of THAT LIFE!

Friday, November 6

Grief & Loss to Joy & Fullness

Since my last post, life has taken on a new level of difficult. That's a refreshing way to begin your reading, I know! Truly, I don't have another way to say it.

...we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed, perplexed but not despairing, persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.
2 Corinthians 4:8-9
The beginning of the school year is CRAZY busy for us due to the kick off of TOT, homeschool, and all of the normal things required for getting back to a daily schedule. It's also an emotional time for us as we remember Scotty's confession as well as celebrate repentance and healing. Truly, after having done this season 3 times, THAT combination of events is enough to stretch me emotionally, spiritually, and physically beyond what I can handle.

This year, though, we faced EVEN MORE trauma during our already pressure-filled Fall; and, for a solid two months, I COULD NOT get a grip. It felt as if I'd take a couple of steps in a positive direction only to fall headfirst in the opposite direction. Over. And over. And OVER!

I'm going to be very vague in details out of respect for all involved. But, I NEED to write. I need to unload. And, I need to share, ONCE AGAIN, of God's faithfulness in my confusion.

In many ways, if feels like I am living through ANOTHER betrayal. This betrayal has NOTHING to do with my husband. And, this situation is not in any way similar to the betrayal I experienced 4 years ago with people close to me. But, in SO MANY WAYS, this hurts EVEN MORE. Is that even possible?

By definition, betrayal is a disappointment, a loss of hope, an act that disregards relationship. It causes pain; but, in this case, it's caused confusion more than anything else. Judgements and criticisms were made about Scotty and me and how we do life. We didn't understand them or know what to do with them. After begging for clarification as to what it all meant and given no explanation, we have no other choice but to move on. We move on SADLY and with a gaping hole where there was once sweet relationship.

I can move on. I WILL move on. But, you KNOW I have to analyze first. I have to LEARN SOMETHING from the pressure. If God allowed it, there's something to be gained. I believe we will be learning from this for many years to come. I believe God will restore and heal for the sake of unity! For now, I believe God wants me to learn how to receive judgement in relationship well. 

Relationships provide accountability. One of the great things about living in relationship is that all of our "yuck" is exposed. If we stick it out (and don't run away), that "yuck" comes to the surface often and can be scraped off. Sanctification. When people REALLY KNOW US and are given permission to speak into our lives, we can USE THEIR CRITICISMS to produce more holiness. David did that with Nathan in First Samuel. It has just dawned on me that  David could have responded very differently to Nathan's accusation. If he'd REFUSED to see his sin, his heart would have hardened, bitterness and defensiveness would have taken over, and the outcome of David's life would be very different. 

So, when the judgement was first handed to us, Scotty and I wanted to use it for even more sanctification. We've studied. We've prayed. We've asked for input from Godly men and women that know us and know our history. We continue to seek counsel. We DID NOT want to disregard the complaint just because we didn't agree. "Taking stock" and changing perspective is necessary. Part of the struggle of the last two months has been a beautiful thing as we've used what hurt to cooperate with God to bring EVEN MORE healing to our family.

All accountability must be tested. This one is hard for me, but not all criticism is to be received EVEN IF it comes from someone you love and look up to. This is where we are. We've taken the concern to heart, and we haven't found validity. Therefore, we must carry on in the life God has for us. My emotions have been in a tail spin, because (from the beginning) I felt the judgements made of my little family were WRONG, but they came from a person I've always thought was RIGHT. Maybe that's why I dug so hard and long to make sure I wasn't missing something. The truth is, there will always be people who disagree with choices we make. The truth is, we will always come up short in doing this life perfectly. But, at the end of the day, we have to do what God has called us to do. Period

I don't think it's any coincidence that I'm in the middle of Beth Moor's, Children of the Day, during this MAJOR relational fall out. This Bible study is ALL ABOUT relationships. We are called to them, and we are called to do them well. I feel like I could live such a holy life if all I did each day was go to Bible study, read my Bible, and journal my studies. If I never had to actually practice what I learn in long term relationship, I could really be CHRIST-LIKE. No! There's NO running away from relationships if we want to live the Christian life with any impact on this world. Our relationships are the place we get to practice our learning.

So, while I can currently record the last couple of months as the HARDEST MONTHS OF MY FORTY YEAR OLD LIFE. I know that they'll also be a spiritual marker in my personal timeline. Grief and loss have driven me to JOY and the pursuit of MORE WHOLENESS. I will continue toward the next marker with a much larger GRATITUDE for God's people that know me (good and bad) and still choose to actively love me. And, I have a renewed desire to make that kind of commitment to the people God has placed in my life. 

God, your way is hard! So often, I want to lash out. I want to plead my case. I want to run and hide when my case isn't heard. In Christ, YOU didn't do any of that. So, I confess that I'm taking this thing one step at a time. Lead me in YOUR WAY and carry me when that way is too difficult for me. Thank you for giving me the courage to fulfill the commitments I've made in relationship. Thank you for those that make that same commitment to me. We know all of these gifts come straight from you, so help us to steward them WELL. 

Saturday, August 29

Don't Do Life Alone!

We were created for relationships! God said it, and I agree.

Then the LORD God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him."
Genesis 2:18
So, then, WHY are relationships so hard? Why is it that our helpers sometimes DON'T seem suitable for us? I'm just being honest; but, even with my helper, my natural tendency is STILL to isolate. I much prefer HIDING the less attractive and showing only what I think is appropriate. And, can I REALLY have a suitable helper if he doesn't really KNOW me?

Over the past few years, I've uncovered this difficulty about me. I'm a "stuffer." We all know the HUGE complications that come from NOT sharing thoughts, emotions, and feelings. But, I have a really 'KIND' reason for not wanting to share. If I feel like MY feelings about a situation will hurt SOMEONE ELSE'S feelings, it's not worth it to me. I'd rather STUFF my emotions in order to save another's. 

For starters, there's this guy....

  You better believe there have been some feelings over the years that I DID NOT want to share with him. They were tough emotions, and he'd caused some of them, and we'd been making so much progress, and I thought it would just stir it all up again to share? Wasn't that correct thinking?

The simple answer is, "YES!" BUT... Scotty along with my really good therapist have taught me that it's STILL worth it to share. It's always the best, most healthy option to speak openly with your significant other even when the content is UGLY!

Now, I don't have to share the full extent of that ugly content here. What I do want to share is THE GIFT I've been given by Scotty's desire to enter in to this honest relationship with me. 

Full Acceptance. In a world where ALL OF US are putting only our best onto social media, something is happening that is extremely ironic. The world has more access to our lives than ever, BUT no one SEES any reality at all. Then, we can get so caught up in all of the 'likes' and positive comments that we believe we need that acceptance and wouldn't get it if ANYONE knew the less attractive parts of our lives. See, the Facebook version of me is many times different than the home version of me. Everyone doesn't have to know all of my JUNK. But if I didn't feel comfortable sharing the yuck with SOMEONE I'd be tempted to believe that the less attractive parts of me make ME less than. I tell Scotty all the time, "I'm just a mess!" Letting someone see that and feeling his commitment to being WITH me IN that mess expresses complete acceptance to me. 

A Tool for Sanctification. Oh yeah... if you're married you are nodding in agreement now. A person is sanctified when he or she is used for the purpose God intended. I WANT THAT! Living with someone day in and day out is tricky. Living with and raising kids with someone that is so very different can create an IMPOSSIBLE environment to live out the Godly life well. Maybe it's just me, but sometimes I'm convinced I could do this life better on my own. Here's why that's a big, fat, LIE.... On my own, I'd have no one to call me out on my hypocrisy. Now, don't take that the wrong way. My husband doesn't keep a running list of all of the ways my words and actions don't match up. However, it's in the difficulties of our communication that God is able to show me how I'm FIGHTING against HIS best for me. The impurity bubbles to the surface; and, if I'll cooperate with it, God can use these uncomfortable interactions with Scotty to burn it away!  There are some things about Amy that MUST BE burned up in order for me to fulfill the purposes God has for me. Many, many times, God uses Scotty to expose those things. 

Safety. This may seem like an odd one! In previous posts, I've written about the fact that Scotty has always had this deep down conviction that if anyone REALLY knew him they'd run from him QUICKLY. There's depth there I won't go into. But, over the past couple of years, I've come to realize I have this same FALSE belief, but it plays out a little differently. In my case, somehow I created this belief that to struggle outwardly may make it TOO HARD for others to be in relationship with me. In other words, I've felt that struggling outwardly in relationship would send those I love running AWAY FROM me. It's fear, and it's unfounded, but it's been real. So, for a couple of years, relating to me has been BEYOND difficult for Scotty. And, HE'S STILL HERE.... every day.... asking for more (maybe he's crazy).... and committing to stay the course no matter what. Man, he must want to run sometimes. He doesn't! And, in that "stick and stay" mentality, I'm gaining a confidence and certainty that is new for me. 

So, we miss something BEAUTIFUL in the pretty world of Facebook and Instagram. Truly knowing and being truly known EVEN WHEN the content is messy IS the BEAUTY that is relational living. None of us will HIGH JUMP to wellness in our relationships. 

Celebrations require accomplishments.

Victory requires a fight.

And, worthwhile relationships require true communication.

I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.
 Ephesians 4: 1-3

Tuesday, August 25

Just Thoughts...

As most of you know, my world was ROCKED by sin a few years ago. The sin was adultery, and it was devastating. There aren't really any words that can explain the pain I experienced when I discovered my little family was changing... that life would never again be as simple as it had been so far. No! words!

There's really no way for me to share with you the fear involved in NOT knowing what the next moments would look like. Even years into recovery, the difficulties still caused questions and uncertainty. For me, when parts of the pain were still present a year or two after confession, I'd be struck by this question... Can I do this forever? 

 P.S. -- The enemy is REALLY good at making us think the good is temporary but the difficult is forever.

It would be impossible to tell you how unbearable it was to PUBLICLY experience the pain, the suffering, the uncertainty, the devastation, and the shock WHILE those around us gloated, schemed, and cast judgement over our future.  

It would be IMPOSSIBLE, because THAT wasn't our  experience!

Now, I'm not so naive that I believe there weren't those people. But, they aren't who I remember. Scotty and I were fortunate! We were surrounded by an ARMY of believers warring on our behalf and encouraging us to do the same. What a blessing! (By the way, THANK YOU again to SO MANY.) 

Today, another believing family is facing similar emotions. I realize the situation is different. These are FAMOUS believers. The sin has more history and more depth. Regardless, they are in a MESS. And, I'm telling you, it's a SCARY mess. I can't weigh in on the situation any more than that... Life is HARD, and the choices of this well known husband/father has made his family's life EVEN HARDER. For that, I pray GRACE AND MERCY. I pray HEALTH AND HEALING. And, I pray JESUS, COME QUICKLY. 

My thoughts today have less to do with this family and more to do with this question, Why is it our NATURAL tendency, as believers, to rejoice (a little or a lot) over the BIG sins of those around us? Why does that seem to PUFF UP our egos? And, the big question,  

Why don't we realize the SIN in that???

God has done this AMAZING thing for me, and it began a few years ago. It's amazing EVEN THOUGH it kind of made me mad for a while! He's been showing me MY SINS every time I try to focus only on Scotty's. Isn't THAT crazy? Can you even imagine? Each and every time I want to focus on this HUGE sin my husband committed... betrayal to our family... God points out the sin that is my very own. 

Does that sound mean? Sometimes, it FELT mean! But, it might be the thing I'm most grateful for in our story. Now, please don't hear me say that God has shown me sin that CAUSED my husband to fail. You ARE NOT hearing that! Sin doesn't work like that. I could say more! I won't. :)!

But, over the years, God has shown me MY OWN WAYS that are detrimental to living the life I SAY I want to live. In other words, what I WANT out of life and what I GIVE to life don't always match.


I'll just give you one example...

In my home, with the people I love most, I have this GREAT difficulty LIVING OUT what I'm learning from God. I get up early in the morning. I spend time with God and His Word; and, most mornings, I feel like He's done a work in my heart. Then, I walk out of my room and into the kitchen where my husband and three precious children are readying for the day. Many days (not every day), I'm quickly overtaken by this irritation, simple moodiness, or an absurd frustration. And, by gosh, I want them to KNOW IT! So, these emotions will be seen on my face and heard in my actions. There you have it, selfishness, moodiness, ungratefulness, and distrust all wrapped up in one scenario.

Now, I'm not being too hard on myself. I'm not going to wallow in disgust over my moodiness and ungratefulness. But, I AM going to acknowledge that it is SIN. Left untreated, it COULD create pain in my marriage and family JUST AS DAMAGING AS Scotty's sin of adultery. And, every time my human reasoning tries to say, "You are NOT going to liken moodiness to adultery," I'm staring in the face of another relationship-destroying sin... PRIDE!

Can you see the arrogance? What would cause me to DESIRE to focus on the pain caused by a "larger" sin in another person when I KNOW words hurt, unreasonable voice tones can be alarming, and (oh my goodness) unusually tense or rough body language is downright confusing? I'll tell you...

Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall. Proverbs 16:18

This has been an ongoing work within me... God is CONSTANTLY pushing and prodding. He's forcing me to truly FEEL the depth of my own sin. He's allowing me to see the ways my own life history has created these distancing tendencies. And, while the PROCESS has been grueling, it's been extremely rewarding. It's brought me to a greater dependence on HIM. It's caused me to recognize that my WORDS don't matter a bit if I can't WALK THEM OUT on a daily basis, with the people I love, in the relationships He's given. It's HARD! But, it's BEAUTIFUL!

So, when the news hit that ANOTHER believing brother had fallen to sexual immorality, I cringed. I was momentarily tempted to cast stones. I wanted to put myself beside him in comparison (yucky pride!) and sigh a bit of relief that I don't have THAT sin to repent of. But, I can't! My own human-ness is too exhausting to focus on another's. The ground is COMPLETELY LEVEL at the throne of grace. And, thank goodness, because I NEED my fair share.

Sunday, June 21

But.... Even If

I've listened to TWO sermons this week on prayer. I was convicted by each one; and, after having some time to think about them, I have a couple of questions.

Question 1 -- If I really believed in the power of God Paul wrote about in Ephesians, wouldn't I ask God for more? Couldn't I pray BIGGER?

For this reason, I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man; so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge that you may be filled up to all the fulness of God. Now to Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all t hat we ask or think according to the power that works within us.... to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever." 3: 14-21

I think we're willing to ask God for BIG things when those things have to do with the spiritual, but I've been watching an ever growing assumption that to ask for anything big in other areas of life is quite nearly heresy. There's this phrase floating around Christian circles that is treated like a four letter word.... we almost have to whisper it.... and the pastors that seem to be preaching in line with this horrendous phrase might as well be printed on "WANTED" posters. Yes! You know it, prosperity gospel

I said it! And, I said it without a look of disgust on my face OR venom spewing from my mouth. If you know me at all, you now that I DO NOT believe God blesses financially or in any other way just because we are living a certain way. I CAN'T believe His reward to the extremely faithful is abundance and monetary prosperity. I'm not sure I really believe that those who've been slandered for teaching a prosperity gospel actually believe that either. (Disclaimer... I don't choose to listen to the pastors associated with the prosperity gospel... just not the style I prefer... but I've listened enough to believe that the public lynching may be slanderous and equally dangerous.)

Is it possible that we've taken God's call to contentment and traded it for complacency? Has this RAGE against the "prosperity gospel" given us an excuse to settle for LESS THAN? Could we be giving up on experiences with God we could only have in pursuing MORE WITH HIM than we currently have?

More intimacy in marriage,

More favor at work,

More stability in our finances, 

The Bible is full of scripture encouraging us to ASK big things in HIS name. Until this week, though, I've not heard the guidance to ask God for abundance.... in relationship, in work, or in finances. Why? There's probably a really good reason.

GREED!

It's ugly. It can cause a person to miss God for the pursuit of more. And, it smothers gratitude. So, I have another question.

Question 2 -- How can I pray BIG prayers... prayers asking for God's abundance in all areas of my life.... and still live in the contentment and rest He calls me to? How can I seek MORE without allowing that MORE to steal gratitude and contentment?

I've found what I believe is the answer to that question...


Three kids in Babylon had, what I believe to be, the right idea about praying BIG and expecting God to answer. You know the story.... Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego refused to bow down to the King's idol, and they were to be thrown into the fiery furnace. Just prior to being tossed in, the king gave them one, final opportunity to bow.

They could have responded in FEAR, bowing to the idol, and given up the opportunity to participate with God in the miracle.

They could have responded in COMPLACENCY, simply accepting death, and given up the opportunity to see God in the miracle.

They chose to respond BOLDLY. They didn't just ASK God for the miracle, they announced what God WOULD do for them. They prayed believing and God acted on their behalf. But, listen to their words. It seems the key to praying boldly WITH contentment is found here....

If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire, and HE will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But, even if HE does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.
 Daniel 3: 17 & 18

There it is! I don't think living contently means we don't push for more. It can't mean that we take everything 'as is' and live complacently. No! Paul says we serve a God of POWER, a God able to do more than I could even imagine. Jesus Himself said to ask anything in HIS name and it will be given. So, we ask for the BIG thing! And, we ask BELIEVING. We also ask TRUSTING that the goodness of God is goodness REGARDLESS of the answer.

So, participate with God in prayer. Be bold in your requests! Be specific and be honest. He KNOWS your heart's desires. Don't discount certain requests because you've labeled them as too big, too shallow, too (fill in the blank.) Just ask!

Believe in God's power to answer that request in a HUGE way. Ask Him to answer in a way that demonstrates HIMSELF and changes you for the better.

Trust that if God chooses not to answer big, HE IS still BIG, and POWERFUL, and GOOD! He knows best, and my acknowledgment of that fact allows me to live in contentment with HIS process. 

Truly I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, 'Be taken up and cast into the sea,' and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he is going to happen, it shall be granted to him. Therefore I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they shall be granted to you.
Mark 11: 23 & 24

Monday, June 15

Lessons Learned on a Baseball Field

Today, I had a conversation with my oldest. It was a conversation we've had before. For a couple of different reasons, though, we had it again today.

We had a conversation about baseball.....


"We play ball on Sundays and sometimes miss church, and MANY people don't think that's ok. Do you know why your dad and I have made this decision?"

Bless him.... His mom is a "talker outter." He's not! That's alright, because I wasn't either when I was twelve. After our short discussion driving to the ball fields, I had long thoughts about more than I said to him. Our baseball adventure has been A tool God has used to solidify a number of lessons He's taught me about Himself.

It ALL belongs to God! EveryTHING is His. Every MOMENT is His. Prior to Christ coming, God's people had the Sabbath day to enter into His HOLY rest.... to enter into His presence. They had strict times for this meeting with God, and they had strict ways to do it. Their Sabbath Law went way beyond remember the Sabbath and keep it holy. Leviticus is FULL of heavy law that was to be obeyed. In Christ, EVERY day is a Sabbath. As a believer, I have the privilege of calling EVERY, SINGLE day Sabbath. I have the great honor to enter into HIS, HOLY REST every moment of every day. Praise Jesus! I can do this in my church, and I can do this on a ball field. I can meet with God right here during my morning quiet time, and I can chat with him as I stroll through the grocery store.

I'm humbled by this realization.

Freedom is freedom and captivity is captivity. Simple, right? Jesus spoke REPEATEDLY about freedom in the New Testament. It seems like He wouldn't have had to tell captives they are FREE more than once. I would think that prisoners would need ONLY ONE mention of freedom to run with it and never look back. But, Jesus kept reminding people they were free. Paul went on to remind US as well. I wonder why they kept forgetting? Why do I keep forgetting? I have a sneaky suspicion it has something to do with another word the Bible says MUCH about.... FEAR! In my own life, I've had times of fearing the opinions of others SO MUCH that I walked right back into my cell of LAW. It's neat and clean and nobody asks questions. The problem is this....

"Behold I, Paul, say to you that if you receive circumcision, Christ will be of no benefit to you. And I testify again to every man who receives circumcision, that he is under obligation to keep the WHOLE law." Galatians 5: 2,3

Obeying the WHOLE law has proven to be an impossibility. Christ came because the Law had done it's job in showing us that we are incapable of COMPLETE obedience. So, on Sunday, I could refuse to let Caleb play at the times set up for him. We could let his team down every time there's a game scheduled prior to noon on a Sunday. ((And, let me be clear, If the Lord pressed upon Scotty or me to do that, WE WOULD!!)) Or, we could recognize that singling out that ONE law concerning the Sabbath would place me under obligation to keep the WHOLE law. And, THAT is not my calling.

I'm grateful for this lesson.

No matter where I am, JESUS is the point. Church is not. I LOVE church. I believe church membership is important. I do NOT believe a person can claim to be a GROWING, gospel centered Christian and NOT be part of a community of believers. But, I want to fall more and more in love with JESUS than my church. I want the same thing for my children. So, as long as my children are living with us, we will place importance on being in church on Sundays. When we aren't, though, we will outwardly express gratitude to a God that can be found wherever we are; in a car traveling on vacation, visiting relatives, or playing ball. To do ANYTHING else would be teaching them to love religion. John Eldridge says,

"Francis of Assisi was called “the second Christ” because his life was so totally given over to expressing the life of Jesus. What can we learn from this man devoted like no other? “As Saint Francis did not love humanity but men, so he did not love Christianity but Christ,” wrote Chesterton. Wow. Just let that sink in. Francis didn’t fall in love with church; he fell in love with Jesus. “His religion was not a thing like a theory but a thing like a love-affair.

Who even remembers him for that? If people know him now it’s only as the statue in the garden of the friar with the birds and bunnies. He’s been made a cartoon by the religious fog, just as it happened to Jesus. Which brings us back to something essential for loving Jesus, for making your faith more like a love affair—you are going to have to break with the religious. If you want Jesus, you’re going to have to end the relationship with the religious glaze."

I can't think of anything that would make me more sad that my children falling into a relationship with the religious glaze. I want them to LOVE God with their whole heart, mind, soul, and strength. During a few months out of the year, we get to celebrate a God that placed a love of ball  and a talent for the sport within Caleb ON THE VERY FIELD he gets to play. We do this on weekdays, on Saturdays, and , yes, on Sundays. 

I'm blessed by these experiences.

Yesterday, Caleb and I had our "talk" on the way to ball fields where we'd play no games. We gathered with other teams to pray for, support monetarily, and honor a family that lost a son Saturday. He was a ball player too. A summer storm blew in during his game, and he was struck by a falling limb getting off the field. Before going in, our coaches joined our boys together and spoke TRUTH to them.... truth about life and hardship, THE truth that BEING the gospel to the people God places in life is vitally important. We never know when our earthly time is over. But, when you are close enough to experience another person's end, you realize what matters. 



Having a relationship with Christ matters.

Lifting up HIS GREAT NAME in every area of life matters.

And, people matter!

I've been transformed by this tragedy.

I pray I never again second guess the life we've been given in THIS season God has called us to. Wherever I am and whatever I'm doing, I don't want to miss out on opportunities to love and serve God OR to be the recipient of that love and support.

What a HUGE price Jesus paid so that I could experience this at all times, in all places.... He did what the LAW could never do.

And, I am relieved.

Sunday, May 10

Help Needed....

This is probably one of the hardest blog posts I've ever sat down to write. It's not tough because of any yucky news to share. Today, I'm asking for help, and that's NO FUN for me. I'd much rather tell a funny story, brag on the Lord, or just share a lesson I've learned.

I've felt the need to ask for help via this blog for a while now. I haven't made time to sit down and write.... Possibly because I haven't really WANTED to do it. I woke up this morning with a determination to be obedient and see where it leads.

Scotty and I are coming out of a THREE YEAR time period where the Lord very clearly told us to focus on us; our marriage and our family. We've said "NO" to ministry possibilities, and we've turned down things we really WANTED to do, because God told us to work on US! In the beginning, that was hard to do. We've always been pretty active in church, community, and elsewhere. However, the inward, family focus is our normal. So.... on God's calendar, that's a perfect time for a new normal.

We are restless! We feel it's time to share, time to minister, and time to build up the Body using all the Lord has taught us. That's why I'm asking you for help. I'm asking you to pray for us as we try and determine what that is.... what this will look like for us.
  • Ministry -- I want to be VERY CLEAR here. Our ministry COULD BE walking one, single couple through the process of healing from adultery. It could be facilitating a small group of couples within our church. We ARE NOT seeking fame and fortune and a worldwide speaking career. I'm even hesitant to call it "ministry" 3 short years after our chaos. I'm grateful that we felt HIS leading to heal quietly FIRST. I'm always amazed at those that immediately begin ministering to others. We needed to time to RE-build in a healthy way, and God gave it to us. We've been able to pray with and encourage a few couples that have been sent our way. But, overall, our 'ministry' was to each other. And, now God is saying, "there's more." Will you pray that we follow HIS leading and live obediently?
  • Book -- Ahhhh...... My fingers are shaking as I type book. I've shared with a FEW people that Scotty has written a book. Actually, he started it 2 years ago, finished it quickly, and then it was kind of put aside for a while. He pulled it back out last year and added some personal stories to it. Then, he went back through THIS BLOG (as far back as 2008) and pulled posts from me. I didn't know all that he was going through or the sins that he was hiding as I wrote each entry. But, he's been able to put my experiences with his story to show how deceptive Satan can be, how feeble man is, and how God STILL works it all out for good when we are willing to cooperate. Then, he asked me to write at the end of a few chapters. It's FINISHED mostly. We are editing a bit and have NO IDEA what to do after that. We'd love to have copies to be able to give to couples when they approach us. It's our story, and it provides a place to start when someone asks us for help. Even though that will be small scale publishing, the financial aspect will be a stretch. So, please pray for the entire process.... our willingness to share as we need to, funding, and God's use of the material as He see fit. 
  • Our family -- I can't go any further without asking you to pray for our family. We LOVE sharing our story with people that need to hear it. Nothing brings a greater sense of REDEMPTION than being able to brag on our MIGHTY God that SAVED our marriage and continues to pour out HIS mercy on us. But, it's emotional. Sometimes, the stories are so similar to ours that listening makes me feel like I've been punched in the stomach. Other times, the stories are very different, and it's just hard to know what to say. Please pray protection over our family as the Enemy will surely attempt to tear us down as we seek to build others up.
During our last year in Clinton, life was so uncertain! We didn't know ANYTHING. I can't remember much detail about life at that time. But, I remember with great clarity sitting in our den and TRYING to reassure our children. We had a "FOR SALE" sign in our yard but NO IDEA where we were going if/when the house sold. And, we lived this way for a WHILE. Because we couldn't give them answers, we memorized Proverbs 3: 5-6; Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your path. Any time we had a question with no answer, we'd just recite our verse. 

He DID direct our path. True to His Word, the Lord has been FAITHFUL in showing us where to go and what to do. Because He's given us this feeling of restlessness and desire to use our experience for His good, I KNOW He will direct our path again. I just want to OBEY Him no matter what it looks like.

Thank you in advance for your prayers. And, I'd like to ask one more thing. As you pray, if you have a message of encouragement or advice, if God lays something on your heart during your prayer time, I'd ask that you share it with us. My email is listed above. If you'd rather send a message to Scotty, I can give you his email. Just as Aaron and Hur held up Moses' arms in the desert when he struggled to follow through with God's instruction, many of YOU have shared words that have lifted me up at just the right time in my journey. I believe God will continue to encourage us through other people.

Show US Your ways, O LORD; Teach US Your paths. Lead US in Your truth and teach US,
For You are the God of OUR salvation; On You WE wait all the day.
Psalm 25: 4-5