Archive for October, 2016

Oct 31

Hello friends!! There are so many different ways that God goes about repairing the broken places in a marriage. He uses His Word, people, circumstances, time, and prayer amongst other things. He knows us deeply and intimately, and He knows our hearts towards one another. He understands the intricacies of our motivations, reactions, and what makes us “tick”.  In my experience, there are three types of issues that create conflict within a marriage. His issues, Her issues, and Our issues. The first step to being able to pray in a strategic way is to properly identify the difference between the three of these.

When my husband and I got married, boy were we in for a rude awakening. We thought things would be instantly rosy, the grass would be greener, the sky a more brilliant blue, and all of our other problems would melt away in our love and devotion to one another. HA!!! We immediately came to realize that our fears surfaced, our insecurities deepened, and our vulnerabilities were ever-present. We fought and cried and then fought some more. But, how could we possibly have “issues” the first few weeks of marriage? Because these issues that were coming to the surface were not “Our issues” but issues we had brought with us from the past.

I came to realize as we talked and prayed that I had my own baggage that I didn’t realize was hidden, and it began to come to the surface when I was with someone all the time. I wanted my husband to think I was this amazing, perfect wife. I blamed him for everything because I didn’t want him to know I was flawed. But, he wasn’t to blame for everything. I had a lot of past hurts and even more fears. He had his own stuff too. Things that had happened in his life both to him and in front of him that left him hurt, skeptical, and confused. We spent a long time focusing on the other person’s baggage, but it wasn’t until we realized that we had our own stuff to deal with that we were able to begin making forward progress.

So, here’s the thing. A very good question that one might ask right about now is, “How do I get my spouse to deal with his/her stuff?” My answer would be prayer. It is not our job to fix the heart of our spouse. It is our job to bring it to the One who can, but it is more important that you bring your stuff before the Lord. When you get the healing you need, the dynamic of your home will automatically change because the things that triggered you will no longer affect you. Many of the things that bothered you will become your prayer burden for your spouse, and as a result of your change, your spouse will change too. Ephesians 5  talks about being submitted to one another. There is an underlying principle here. You and your spouse are one. “He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated his own body, but feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church-for we are members of his body. For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” Ephesians 5:28b-31 (NIV) Therefore, if one changes, they both change.

Preparing for strategic prayer begins with identifying what the issues are. The way we do that is by asking God to reveal them to us. To get real practical, sit down with a notebook and pen, and just say something like this, “Lord, I open my whole heart to you. I invite you to look into the deepest parts of me and I trust that you love me no matter what you find and that you are the God that heals. Please reveal the places you would like to touch and heal completely.” Write down anything that comes to you. This will help you begin to pray strategically. There may be some things that God chooses to heal immediately, and if He does that is great!! Victory! However, there will more than likely be things that He heals through process.

The next step in your strategic prayer preparation is to identify the things in your marriage that are truly bothering you. Things that hurt you, things that hurt your children, things that break intimacy. Realize that God can handle it and write down all of those things. Because of our unique vantage point, we can see what our spouse needs better than they can sometimes. We can intercede for them in a way that no one else can. Check your heart before God, because you want to bless them and not curse them. But be real with the problems, for I assure you that God does not need things sugar-coated.

The last preparation step in preparing for strategic prayer is to identify specific promises in God’s word that resonate with your situation. Take your concerns to the Word, and ask the Holy Spirit to guide you to the verses that speak directly to your marriage. Write those down as well. For example, “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed, perplexed, but not in despair, persecuted, but not abandoned, struck down but not destroyed.” 2Corinthians 4:8-9(NIV)  There are many, many promises. Let God reveal them to you and keep record of them.

Once you have done this you are ready to pray strategically. I wrote down my prayers. I started with glorifying God for who He is. It prepared my heart before Him. I then asked God to specifically move on the areas He had revealed to me that He wanted to heal. I gave Him full permission and authority to do what He had to do. I then asked Him specifically to move on the areas of my marriage that needed His attention. I gave Him the toughest and seemingly most impossible problems to deal with. I then reminded Him of His word (but I was really reminding myself). I thanked Him in advance for the faith He had given me and for answering all of my concerns. I took my time writing these prayers, and I prayed them word for word everyday. I prayed them whenever fighting ensued, whenever doubt crept in, whenever I felt led by the Spirit to pray.

I encourage you that God is strategic and orderly. He loves to be asked to heal marriage. It delights Him to do it, and your prayer for your marriage will begin to change the pattern. Trust Him and give Him the glory, for I believe you will begin to see changes and you will get the healing and restoration you most desire!!! God bless you, and if there is anything I can pray for I would be happy to agree with you in prayer. 

Oct 24

Hello Friends! I have a confession to make. I have been wrestling with God over money, yes money. My husband and I are trying very hard to get out of debt. We have sacrificed for years and been quite aggressive with it. We were on a path to being debt free by the end of this year and then we were hit with thousands of dollars in repairs to our only vehicle. My husband and I have been believing God for this and it has completely knocked the wind out of our sails. As I have been praying I have felt less and less faith in my voice. I have felt abandoned by God and angry with Him all at the same time. So the real question that I must ask myself is, “Do you trust God?” Well, here is what I have come up with thus far.

First, what is my motive? Why do I want to be debt free? My husband and I will both tell you that our biggest reason for wanting to be debt free is that we believe that we can do more for the kingdom of God when we are no longer a slave to the world. We feel strongly that God does not delight in debt, but that if we are in debt we should pay it back in a timely manner. We believe that God’s word declares over His people that we are the head and not the tail, above and not beneath, the lender and not the borrower. (See Deuteronomy 28:12-14) In fact, we believe these things so strongly that we declare them over our family every day.

Second, has God been faithful up until now? The answer is unwaveringly yes! Every major hurdle my family has ever encountered has been met by God’s grace. It may not have always looked the way we had pictured in our finite minds, but He has always been faithful to His word and His promises to us. In fact, even when I really try to find even a single time when He wasn’t faithful, all I can come up with was, “Well, that didn’t go how I thought, but the goal was still accomplished.” God sees the beginning from the end, and His purposes are more than likely even greater than ours. I have noticed, in my walk with God, that I purpose something in my heart and He directs my steps. (See Proverbs 16:9) Why is that? I think it is because God has some work to do in my heart to prepare me for entering into the new reality that I am believing Him for. But what I have learned through the process is that God is faithful and that I am always a work in progress. Not only does He always get us there, but he does it in such a way that we are fully prepared to receive it! What a loving Father!

Third, where is my faith? Is my faith in our ability to get out of debt or in God’s faithfulness to get us there? Hmmmm….. I think the reason I have been struggling is because I put a cap and a time limit on this miracle. I really wanted it to be my way, in my timing, and by our sacrifices and hard work. We are discouraged because that was where we put our faith. I have been asking God for more faith lately, and He has shown me that I have a lot of faith, it is just misplaced. God does not want me to stop believing we are going to be debt free, He wants me to trust that He knows how to get us there in a way that will last. You see, I think in a way we need a heart change. We need to vanquish the poverty mentality and we need to realize that our financial blessings are not of our own doing. As long as we are trying to do this of our own power, we will reap the pride of it for years to come. However, if God renews our minds and changes our hearts regarding our financial situation, we will be prepared to receive the blessing when it finally arrives.

I think this is a lesson for me that goes beyond our financial situation and can be brought into any situation a married couple is facing. One thing I have come to know, the process is almost never pleasant, but it bears the most amazing fruit that lasts and lasts. It also has left us in a more humble position before our God, and has kept us trusting Him and feeling secure in His love and faithfulness. Do I trust God? I trust Him so much more than I will ever trust myself, because my sight is limited and my understanding is extraordinarily lacking until God reveals it in His perfect timing. So what is it that you are believing God for? Do you trust Him to get you there? I encourage you to look beyond your circumstances and consider what God is doing and why. It is entirely possible he is preparing your heart to receive it!

Oct 12

Hello Friends! I hope you all are well!! I have been asking God if there is anything else He would like me to cover in my communication series. No answer for a few days so forgive me for the delay. When I was talking with a friend the other day the Lord reminded me that communication should ultimately lead to something very important.

As you know, God has created principles that govern healthy relationships. When we put these principles into practice within the context of marriage we are able to mirror and reflect what our relationship with our Bridegroom Jesus Christ looks like. One of these, in my opinion, is the most influential in allowing for longevity and happiness within marriage. It is the principle of forgiveness.

Now there are entire books and books upon books written on the subject, but for now I want to focus on one question. Why was it so important that Jesus died to forgive us? When we talk about what Jesus did on the cross, we don’t say He died to redeem us, although he did. We don’t say He died to adopt us, although he did. We don’t say He died to give us a chance to know God our Father, although He did. We say He died to forgive us our sins. When we lead people to ask Jesus to come into their heart and be Lord of their life, the prayer always includes asking for forgiveness. So why is this so important?

The answer is this: what we are asking Jesus for is relationship with God. We are not simply asking to worship Him and follow His commands and precepts. e want a healthy, intimate relationship with the Almighty, and if we have offended Him in any way we want to humble ourselves before Him and make it right. Jesus paved the way for us to have relationship with God the Father by paying the price for our sins. You see, every sin comes at a cost to the relationship. Every offense and every hurt costs us intimacy, and it works the same way in every relationship, especially marriage.

When I married my husband, all I wanted was for us to be close, happy, and secure in each other. However, from the very beginning we had all these expectations of each other and neither one of us were living up to those expectations. The disappointment that ensued came out in our conversations and in the tone of our voices. I’m sure you know the feelings that crop up when you do not think your spouse is happy with you. That’s when walls come up and intimacy drops dramatically. Why would you let someone into the deepest parts of you if the little they do know disappoints them? At least that was what was going back and forth with my husband and I for a long while. As a result we said and did many hurtful things to one another, Our emotional separation led to physical separation, yet all the while we just wanted to be close and happy. We talked and talked, but seemed to get nowhere. The day came when we had to make a decision. Were we going to stay together and work it out or  go our separate ways? I remember God spoke to me and said that the only path forward was the one paved with forgiveness. The title of this blog is “The Secret to a Happy Marriage”. So what is so secret about forgiveness? It is that in the secret place in your heart is where you make the decision to forgive. It is also in the secret place where God heals your wounds once you have forgiven.

My husband and I had a conversation the weekend before I moved back home. We talked about how we were going to move forward. One of the things we both agreed upon was that we had to forgive the past in order to move forward differently. We decided not to bring up the past in arguments anymore and not to intentionally hold things against one another that had occurred in the past. That conversation became for us a paradigm shift and things began to change from there for the better. A couple of things we noticed: forgiveness does not equal trust and just because you have decided to forgive does not make everything better overnight. By forgiving one another we released ourselves from reliving the same arguments and it gave us a chance to start fresh. Little by little we began to regain trust between us. We spoke to each other from a place of love instead of contempt. Our intimacy grew with each kind gesture and with each loving word for one another. Eventually our love, trust, and intimacy was restored, but it all took place in the secret place. We cannot tell you what God did there, just that he healed, redeemed the time, and restored our marriage. Forgiving one another is the key to restoring right relationship. It is the only way forward for some marriages, especially ones on the brink of ending. If there is anything left saving, this is the method God uses to save. It is how he saved us from eternal destruction and it is how he will save everything that needs saving.

2 Corinthians 5:17-21 says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And He has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making His appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” I also implore you in your marriages, be reconciled to one another. Be reconciled through Christ, and the way we do that is to be reconciled through forgiveness, for this is the means that Christ uses in order for true and complete reconciliation to take place.

God Bless You!!

Oct 04

Hello Friends! I hope everyone is well! The last post I explained the importance of meditating on what was said in order to gain a greater understanding and perspective. It is vitally important to meditate if we want to deepen our intimacy with our spouse and especially with God, because it allows us to know them better.

The biggest difference between a marriage and any other relationship is trust. A marriage was set up by God to give you a safe place to be intimate and exposed. Like the garden in the beginning, God created man to have an intimate relationship with Him, without even the slightest mistrust or fear. Adam and Eve were naked and didn’t even know it. They had complete access to God and all God had created was given into their care. The trust went both ways and was unhindered by lies, deceptions, darkness, and adulteries. There was open and honest communication in the garden. It wasn’t until lies, disobedience, mistrust, and deception creeped in that the relationship began to deteriorate.

He created marriage (in the garden before the fall) to give us a safe place to be our truest selves. We should be able to expose our hearts, our secrets, our insecurities, and our regrets to our spouse without fear of judgement. Notice I say should…..but it is not always that way, is it? I know for me, my husband and I messed it up so many times. My husband would try to explain something to me so I could really understand how he felt, and I would jump all over him. I would tell him he shouldn’t feel that way or I would somehow make him feel stupid for it. I was not a very compassionate person. He was the one who taught me how to listen with compassion. He explained to me that it was not his job to judge me but to love me through it and allow God to work on me as I brought what was hidden in the darkness out into the light. He gave me a platform to verbalize my insecurities, confess my sins, and get to the heart of the matter.

What does it mean to get to the heart of the matter? Let me give an example. I used to smoke cigarettes regularly. I started when I was very young, right around the time that life began to get hard and I had to grow up. It quickly became my coping mechanism. For years, everything that was bad that happened in the day to day was stuffed down into my lungs. So….on July 1 2007 I decided to quit. I had a renewed passion for the Lord and I felt God pressing me to do it. Boy oh boy how the anxiety grew with each passing day of not smoking. Of course, on the surface I thought it was just from the cigarettes, and I believed that when it was all out of my system I would not feel the anxiety anymore. That was not the case, however, and there were many things that triggered my anxiety until finally on day I just picked up the bad habit all over again. I would tell myself, “I need them. I’m addicted” What a lie that was! The truth is I needed to go back and deal with my past. I had to face some things that had happened and get healing from God. The smoking was surface level. The real problem was much deeper, in the darkness, in hidden places. I didn’t even know how to handle it.

So….I laid them down again (the cigarettes) and started on a journey that forever changed my life. I decided in my heart that I was going to fully expose my heart and my past to God, ugly as it was, and let Him have His way. If you have ever done a spring cleaning you know, it is always messier before it is cleaner. I spent many months crying myself to sleep and not even knowing why. I asked forgiveness for many things. I felt the deepest despair I will ever know. I was lost….or so I thought. The whole time my husband helped me process what I was going through. It was certainly not always convenient (at 3am) and not easy for him to remain positive with me spewing out negativity, but then something began to change without me even being fully aware of it. My burden was lighter and lighter. The pit in my stomach that had been there forever was suddenly gone. Hope began to rise up as the Lord was healing the deepest parts of me.

My husband and I did this for each other for over two years. It was not an overnight thing, and it was not pretty, but God brought beauty from ashes. He taught me that the biggest blessing in marriage is that you have someone who will stick by you and love you no matter what, and that kind of love conquers all fear. The hardest thing in communicating with your spouse is to get to the heart of the matter because our inner voice tells us that it will not go well for us if we do that. I am here to say, that voice is lying to you to keep your secrets hidden. As long as they are hidden you can not get the healing you most desire. Satan works in dark places where there is no hope and no love, no compassion and no healing. Our God is a loving, compassionate God and He alone can heal.

It is not the job of our spouse to heal us. It is not their job to judge us. We are responsible to love each other as Christ loved the church. This relationship was designed by God to give us a companion to walk out this journey with us. A great way to look at it is to realize that since God brings us together and makes us “one” then each of our deepest hurts, desires, regrets, secrets, insecurities, hopes, fears, and the like affect both people. To the extent that we can deal with those things is the extent that we can both experience healing and the fullest measure of joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, and self control. It is just as much to your benefit as it is to theirs to give your spouse a platform whereby they can be vulnerable with you (and vice versa).

I know this is deep, but this is getting to the heart of the matter. Nothing can be fixed if we are unable or unwilling to look at the real problems. Many times, what we think is the problem is just the beginning. Let God go deeper, and trust Him, because it may look ugly, but it won’t stay ugly. “When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.'” (John 8:12 NIV) And later He goes on to say “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” (John 8:34-36 NIV) God Bless!