The Real Power a Woman Holds

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Yes, the idea for this post came from the latest Avengers movie. I’m a boy mama. And, I embraced the “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” philosophy a long time ago. I haven’t been able to shake the scene where Black Widow, played by Scarlett Johannson, soothes the savage beast in the Incredible Hulk with her gentle lullaby words. Soft and whispery, she tenderly approaches him. And, as her hand touches his, he melts into her with a shiver. The giant, unreachable, unreasonable, indestructible, huge, strong beast…melts at her touch. All of his rage…his frustrations…dissipate when she speaks to him with love.

It is her softness that melts him.

He is safe with her. Reassured. Loved. And, he melts.

She is strong. Strong enough to take on the toughest of bad guys. But her true beauty…her true strength…shines through her soft touch and gentle words.

There’s a message there, women.

1 Peter 3 speaks of “the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.”

Sometimes, in my busyness. In my independence. I forget…just how much my husband needs the softness God created me with, in order to soothe away the daily frustrations piled on his mortal shoulders. How much more he needs my soft, tender words that create a safe haven for him from the harsh world. Words of hope, love, encouragement that build him up and strengthen him to get back in there and fight the good fight another day. He needs them whispered in a sultry lullaby. More than the clanging symbols of criticisms or harsh, negative words…or even short distracted responses. Beautiful, strong women…our husbands need the softness of our touch…and the tender words of love we have to give. He cares more than you know about having your approval…about knowing that he is someone you respect and honor. He needs your love and encouragement…your gentleness…more than you know. That’s where your strength lies. Use it for good. Use it to encourage your man.

The following is from an old post, but the advice still holds true.

Intimacy in marriage…loving your husband in his love language…

I have found in conversations over the years, with married friends of mine, that the subject of marital intimacy can be a real issue. I don’t want to stereotype, because it can sometimes be the other way around. But, much of the time husbands enjoy feeling loved by their wives in a physical way. Women often feel loved when we are most secure, with gentle words of affirmation, time spent together, as well as physically.

In encouraging female friends of mine over the years, I have heard many say that they need to feel loved by their husbands in order to enjoy the physical part of marriage. They may say, “I wish my husband would…”(fill in the blank.). Some may enjoy physical intimacy, but fail to make it a priority…getting busy with the needs of children, work, home, etc.

In sixteen years of marriage (now twenty-one years!), I’ve learned a few things that I’d like to share with you…woman-to-woman. These things are thoughts I’ve shared with friends who struggle in this area. And, although, I’m hardly an expert… and feel a little shy even talking about it, I think it’s something that’s important. I wish we talked about this subject more as wives, and encouraged young women on this subject. Don’t worry, I’ll keep it pure.

1. Make time with your husband a priority, and start speaking his love language. While you should not go into this with thoughts of what you may get out of it (Physical intimacy should never be used to manipulate.), you may be surprised to find that if you are more physically affectionate and open to him, he may respond by being more loving with you in your love language. As he feels more secure in your love, he will reach out to you in more loving ways. Maybe words of affirmation…maybe hugs…you will be surprised at how you can melt his heart with your love. And, yes…it really is that simple.

2. Do not underestimate the importance of physical intimacy in marriage. A good friend of mine calls it the “glue that holds us together”. God designed sex in marriage to be a blessing. The marriage bed is “pure and undefiled”. So, we are supposed to enjoy one another, and make it fun. (Don’t believe me? Have you ever read the Song of Solomon?) Yes, it is for the purpose of reproduction…but also so much more. It is meant to be a blessing to both of you. Have you ever noticed that when we neglect this part of our relationship, there is more tension and distance? But, when we are making it a priority, there is a bond of affection and often more patience. We look at each other through eyes of love. And that love and commitment is renewed and solidified in the act of marriage. (The Act of Marriage is also the name of a really good book that encourages Christian couples in this area, too!)

3. Remember that your husband speaks a physical love language. Your love and respect give him confidence to be the man he is called to be. He needs this from you. It is part (a big part) of your role as helpmate. If he swats you on the behind as he walks through the kitchen, take it as a compliment and a sign of his affection. Be glad he thinks your behind is “swat-worthy”. And, you may just be surprised, if you begin responding to him in a physical way how he will respond to you.

4. Communicate with your husband about your needs and intimacy, using words of love and affirmation. And make sure he feels safe communicating with you. Remember this gift in marriage is not just for your husband, but for you too!

5. Don’t let your body image keep you from enjoying your husband physically. Some wives feel less than perfect (aren’t we all!), especially when comparing themselves to the unattainable images bombarding us in all forms of media. I think most husbands, though, are less critical, and maybe don’t even see the flaws we see when we look in the mirror. Most of the time, a man enjoys the soft physical beauty of his wife, and sees her through the eyes of love. I know this may not always be the case, but I think it is most of the time.

If this is an area you struggle with, I hope you found a little encouragement here. I just want to encourage wives to make loving their husbands a priority.

Be blessed and encouraged today! Now…go give your man a big kiss and tell him how great he is!

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Walking With You ~ The Ripples Flow to our Marriage

Walking With You was created to help support those who have lost a child. Together we share our stories, helpful information, scriptures, encouraging words, prayer requests, and more. Thank you to those of you who have joined us for the past few weeks…for courageously sharing your stories. If you haven’t joined us yet, and would like to, you are more than welcome. This week, we are sharing the impact our loss(es) had on our marriage.

Tim and I were married very young and we had a two-year-old when we faced the loss of our twin daughters, Faith and Grace. I had endured a long and extremely difficult hospital stay that caused a great deal of stress and concern for my young husband. We were twenty-one years old at the time.

Losing Faith and Grace was such a shock for us. We had prayed and hoped for a miracle. And, honestly…I just didn’t think that our babies would be among those that didn’t make it. Maybe I was just young enough that I still thought I was “invincible” and that covered my children as well. I don’t know what Tim thought at the time, and I was too absorbed in my own pain to ask. Just the same, we were shocked and devastated.

I wish I could remember clear details, but it’s very fuzzy for me. I do remember Tim missing me and worrying about us during the long hospital stay. It took all my strength to survive, so I didn’t feel the missing as much at the time. I remember how he tried to make me laugh while wheeling my ridiculously large pregnant self to the specialist. I remember his smile when we found out we would have identical twin girls. And I remember the anguish on his face as the tears fell while he stood beside me as I held our baby girls and sang Amazing Grace. I remember how he tried to make me laugh and succeeded some hours after they were born. How he slept in the recovery room watching some random movie with me. I remember the ache of leaving the hospital with empty arms and a canyon of emptiness in my heart. I remember leaning on him for strength as we stood by their grave on that cold November day. And…the agony of sorrow when he went back to work. He held me often during those early days as I cried.

Even while we were in the hospital, I knew that we were forever changed by the loss of our girls…that we had shared something that only the two of us could ever really understand. It separated us from the rest of the world, and bound us more solidly as one flesh. I believe it drew us closer. He was quiet with his grief, having to remain strong. He needed to return to work right away to support our family and pay the mountain of medical bills.

There came a time when I knew my need to grieve openly and talk about the girls brought him pain, and I was grateful to share all my emotions and words with my friend, Ginny. I respected Tim’s need to protect himself and our family from the emotions in planning the memorial service, keeping it private. We didn’t want to add the family drama that often came with any event on both sides of our families to and already painful time. We weren’t prepared to have a funeral for our children. It seemed so unspeakable to us at the time. And we both felt protective of our girls. It was important to me to respect his need to keep things private.

Months later, we began trying to have another baby, and I think Tim wanted to help ease the ache of emptiness for me…for both of us. I have often felt a great burden for the dads who grieve for their babies in a world that doesn’t allow them to express their feelings openly. They have to be strong…and, a father doesn’t just feel the weight of his own loss, but the pain he sees his wife enduring…a pain he can do nothing to fix. A pain he couldn’t protect her from. He couldn’t protect his family from this.

Finally, after many complications that left my body battling infection for about a year after the birth of Faith and Grace, we conceived Thomas. We felt relieved, apprehensive, and excited. Midway through the pregnancy, when we sat in that room and heard the words “incompatible with life” in regards to our precious son…I looked over at Tim…and I saw the life drain out of him. It was as if the light went out and darkness filled his face. Hope left. I have never felt more darkness, myself. I remember him convincing me to take the steps to leave the hospital.

I remember facing “the choice”, and he was quiet, but seemed relieved when I chose to continue the pregnancy. He supported that decision. As I watched him agonize over the fact that he was helpless to protect our family from walking this path again, I struggled with the burden of being “the one” who brought this pain on our family. I know that wasn’t really true. But, I felt that burden. And, to this day, one of the hardest things…the thought that brings tears to my eyes each time I think of it is the grief of Tim and Timothy…and the fact that I couldn’t spare them of this pain. The sorrow it caused them to watch me carry our sweet Thomas, knowing we would have to say good-bye to him.

The stress of that time was heavy on us. I wish I would have had the knowledge or support of those who had walked there, like so many of you. I did have the Lord, and He was enough. He did carry me and pour out His grace. But, sometimes, I think I could have done more to cherish that time. I felt my presence caused pain to my family. A reminder of impending sorrow. It may not have. And they didn’t say that to me, but there was a distance. Mostly because of the stress of the situation. Tim was quiet and distant as the time grew near to meet our Thomas. The pain caused him to delve deep into a protective shell. I clung to the Lord for strength, and leaned on Ginny and Dinah, as he wrestled with what was happening within.

When Thomas was born, the pain was so great for Tim. I felt the joy of meeting Thomas, while Tim’s sorrow broke forth heavily. We leaned on each other once more in those early days, and he respected that I needed to talk about and remember our children and I respected that he often needed me to do that with someone other than him. After the initial days of grief, we talked little about the experience to each other. This time when the desperate ache for a baby to fill my empty arms came, neither of us had the courage to say that we were ready to try for another baby. Fear of another loss was so strong. Tim was very protective of that.

When we were surprised with James’ conception, it was a time of great trepidation and anticipation. I wanted to hold on to hope and joy…knowing that I would not get this chance again. I wanted to cherish every moment I was given with this precious baby. But, for Tim, all that we had endured had taken it’s toll, and the stress of watching me struggle through another pregnancy and the possibility of another loss was just too much. It was a very difficult time in our marriage. God brought us through a great deal of struggles. He has healed our brokenness, renewed our love and strengthened our joy. We walk with Him and trust in Him together, now. But it was quite a journey to this place.

There is so much about that time between us that needs to stay between us. But, I want to share a few things because I know that many of you struggle with the fact that men and women grieve differently. It’s one of the main things we are asked about…marriage concerns and grieving differently.

The thing is men and women are made differently (as you well know!). And we grieve differently. Every individual actually is unique in their grief. He may be quiet, distant, angry, protective, or tearful. You may feel like talking about your babies, need to be close, angry, tearful, or distant. You may not be feeling the same things at the same time. This can cause division and resentment when we do not understand that our spouse is still grieving, even if he/she is not grieving the same way we are.

Tim and I shared this sorrow…and this entire journey, but we rarely talk about it. We are able more now than we did years ago. He supports this ministry and all that we are doing. He is part of this ministry and he helps make decisions….often reaching out in his own way to those who cross our path. We have always respected each other’s need to grieve differently and communicate that grief in different ways. It doesn’t mean that we did not offer love and support to each other. We did and we do. But, sometimes, I went to a friend to talk or share a memory that I thought may be painful for him. And we didn’t let that come between us. It’s O.K. that he didn’t want to go to a special remembrance service years later. And it’s O.K. with him that I did need to go. I think it’s important to recognize and free each other from expectations here. It will prevent being hurt when we feel that our expectations are not met. And, it prevents resentment and division from forming between the two of us.

We are not some perfect example to be held up for display. Indeed, our path to the beauty we experience today was once covered in tattered ashes of brokenness. It is a messy journey, and we often didn’t “do it right”. We are truly bathed in God’s grace. I could write several statistics saying that there is no way Tim and I should still be married. We were married young, became parents at a young age, from divorced families (generations of divorced families actually), and we lost three of five of our children by the time we were twenty-three years old. And yet, here we are loving each other and the God that kept us through it all. I don’t say that as any great success on our part, but as a testimony to the greatness of the God we serve and the power of His grace that is always sufficient. We share a love today that is deeper and sweeter because of where we have walked. It is true that our God does “make all things beautiful in His time”.

Here are just a few words of wisdom we have gleaned:

1. Respect each other’s need to grieve differently. If at all possible, do not do things that may bring pain to your spouse. At the same time, do not deprive yourself of doing the things you feel you need to do to honor your baby your way. Find a way to honor your baby that also honors the feelings of your spouse.

2. Find time to laugh and do things that you enjoy together. Grieving is hard, heavy work. Find some time to keep it light.

3. Keep life as simple as you can. Try not to take on too much for your family schedule. Protect yourselves and each other from extra stress or things that may bring unneeded sorrow.

4. Find ways to honor the memory of your baby as a family.

5. Communicate with love and respect.

6. Take comfort in physical affection. Do not turn away from each other, but turn toward each other.

7. Pray together and for each other. God is able to mend your broken hearts and keep your marriage. Guard your marriage and bathe it in prayer. You may feel too weak to pray sometimes. That’s O.K….saying, “God, help me…it hurts too much to even pray.” is still a prayer. It’s been a prayer of mine many times.

Two are better than one,
Because they have a good reward for their labor.
For if they fall, one will lift up his companion.
But woe to him who is alone when he falls,
For he has no one to help him up.
Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm;
But how can one be warm alone?
Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him.
And a threefold cord is not quickly broken.
~Ecclesiastes 4:8-12

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Thank you again for joining us. Please let us know if we can support you in any way as you grieve the loss of your baby. I would be happy to send you a Dreams of You Memory Package and to pray for your needs. Also, it can help to share with someone who has walked this path. It is our desire to encourage you in your marriage…to pray for you…and offer any support we have to give. Next week, we will be sharing about how our other children faced their grief and ways to support them as they grieve their sibling. If you do not have children, we will also include facing another pregnancy after the loss…and our feelings about that.

More Stuff I Learned From Dinah ~ Being a Student of Husbands & Sons and Getting Out of the Way

I grew up in a household where the mother was in charge. Generations of gritty, strong women pepper the history of my family tree.  My mom wasn’t the type of girl to rely on a man to take care of her. She took care of herself, and was appalled by women that did not. I suppose it was the time she spent learning early on that she was the only person who would not disappoint her, desert her, or break her heart. She was an on again, off again single mother…but even when she was married, she was in charge. She was a tiny, beautiful, 100 pound spitfire of determination, grit, and class. Even when she wore her denim bib overalls and flannel shirt covered in glue to the factory job where she made paint rollers, she had class and the kind of beauty that draws admiration. My first memory of wondering if I would be like her someday is when I was about 7 and she was maybe 25. We were swinging on the swings, and I stretched my legs as far as I could, trying to match her pace. Her thin legs were tan and smooth, and stretched gracefully out further than my little legs. I remember thinking that she was grown up and I wanted to be like her someday. Twenty-five…that seemed to be the perfect age. That was the age of grown up. And my mother was awesome. (More thoughts on that in a later, yet-to-be-written post!)

My own initiation into adulthood brought me to a one bedroom apartment, married to an eighteen year old senior in high school, and the mother of a little boy. I didn’t feel grown up or graceful, like my mother on the swing. In fact, I felt anxiety-ridden and unsure. I was never gritty, and my tendency toward softness, girliness, and the fact that I could never hide my tears when anything grazed the surface of my heart always bewildered my mother. The only real toughness I displayed growing up was the fact that I would kill a spider without blinking to protect my baby brother. I would probably do almost anything to protect my baby brother.

It occurs to me that I’m telling a prologue. Dinah would be so annoyed if she were here. This post really isn’t about my mother. Although, I think a little background helps sometimes. Hence the prologue. Oh great…now I’m explaining the prologue!

Dinah came into my life, early on, when I didn’t have a clue how to be a wife and mother to little boys. I was instantly and instinctively a mom, but the wife thing…and the understanding of the male gender thing…notsomuch. I wanted to be in charge, in control. I wanted to resort to what I knew of watching a wife and mother. You can only really count on yourself. (Men leave, men disappoint.) When Timothy was a baby, our roles seemed pretty natural…what with all the nurturing, nursing, and caregiving a mother is naturally created to do. But, as our oldest boy grew older, it was evident that I must decrease and it was time for the learning-to-be-a-man business that only a strong male role model, like say a father, can teach. I didn’t know how to begin to get out of the way.

It made Dinah, a strong woman in her own right, crazy to watch me stumble along, oblivious to the ways of a man. She would say that I didn’t like men…that I learned that from my mother. I’m not sure if she was right about that. I have always adored and admired men…but maybe I haven’t always respected them. She would ask me how I could know so little about men when I had all those brothers. How could that be?! I’m pretty sure she thought I was a fool. And, I was…at first. But, I learned to become a good student of God’s Word, a student who listened to the wise women of the church, and most of all a student of my husband and son. Dinah taught me about learning to understand my husband, use less words, and get out of the way. But, it was has proven to be a lifelong lesson.

It has been an ongoing battle for me to get out of the way. I would think my husband should parent this way, or it would be better if he had a heart to heart with our boys in the way I thought he should, using lots of words and feelings. I didn’t understand his strong, quiet ways. I wasn’t sure how a dad should fit into a family. I read scripture to our boys, fretted over them, and prayed and guarded them like a fiend. Sometimes to the point where they didn’t hear my words.

Dinah taught me that the goal of parenting a son was to give him a vision of being a man who would protect and provide for his family. A strong man of character and integrity, a godly, courageous man. It takes some grit to survive this world. For some silly reason, I thought it was up to me to give them that vision and grit. Girly, clueless me.

I spent years trying to get out of the way, trying to peel my grip off our oldest son, even as we buried three babies, and my instinct was to hold on tighter to the one that remained…the one that first made me a mother. Even though I’ve learned to let go in many ways, I find, I’m still learning…still holding on some.

Tim took them hunting…with guns and fishing…with hooks. I remember my anxiety and Dinah talking me through it, sternly. Tim and Timothy would sit in the woods for hours, barely speaking a word, in the cold, in the freezing rain and snow… waiting for the elusive deer. Hours of waiting…days…weeks. Then my tender-hearted boy shot his gun and killed a deer, providing meat for our family. I didn’t understand the point of it then. It didn’t seem like they were building anything substantial just sitting there. I would have thought you were crazy if you suggested that they were building a relationship of respect for one another and God’s creation. They were building character, patience, perseverance, courage, integrity, endurance, and the ultimate feeling of providing for a family. No…I had no idea that’s what was going on.

Yesterday, our 10-year-old, James went hunting for the first time and shot his first deer. I noticed the twinkle in his eye when he described his father’s Tiger Woods style fist pump when he shot the deer. A satisfied fist pump from dad is worth more than all the gold in the world. I get that, now. Before he left, I prayed through my what-ifs, and thought about Dinah telling me to be a student of  my husband and sons. I have been a student of them. And, I’ve learned to appreciate their ways, once unnoticed by my foolish eyes, even if it is still hard for this mama-heart to watch her boy walk out into the harsh world with a gun slung on his back. Like Mary, I put those thoughts away to ponder them in my heart…pat my boy on the back on the way out the door, saying simply “You can do it.” And, when he returns from the man-world I don’t understand, a bloodied deer proudly in tow, I will welcome him with pride. These days, I’ll even help them process the meat!

You see, all these years, while I struggled to figure out how to train these boys to be men, in the recesses of my mind still thinking it was up to me, my husband was quietly leading by example. And, his life has spoken louder than any of my striving. It seems that the quiet way Tim chose to do the hard things, to work hard to support our family, to have integrity and courage. The quiet way he taught them through experience and example to protect and provide…without many words at all…has inspired them more than any idea I’ve tried to plant in their hearts. You see, a man with strength and goodness in his heart can inspire a boy to want to do the hard things himself…to overcome the obstacles…to fight the good fight. Just the act of Tim sitting in church on Sunday morning and folding his hands in prayer and the act of getting up everyday to do a back-breaking job without a word of complaint, rushing to the baseball game in boots still covered in mud and concrete… speaks volumes to them about what a man does…what a man looks like. A son will strive to earn the respect of a father who may not even be the greatest example….but a son with a great father, the kind that lives a good, quiet life and honors the Lord…working hard for his family. Well, there is no limit to what is inspired in the heart of a son with a father like that.

Mothers have an important role in the lives of their sons, don’t get me wrong. They need our love and nurturing as keepers of the home. They need us to be their haven from the harsh world, a cheerleader that always believes in them, and a listening ear when they have a hankering every few months or so to share what’s on their minds. Even, every once in awhile, a gentle voice of wisdom (with very few, non-preachy words, of course.) And, most of all a prayer warrior…standing in the gap for them while they go out and fight the good fight. But, I am still in awe of the beauty of the way a dad can inspire a son to be a man, simply by living. Sometimes our part is to pray, and get out of the way.

Micah 6:8
He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justly, To love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God?

 

Running in Heaven’s Meadows, Our Anniversary, and Some Reminders

When I think of my baby girls in heaven, I have always imagined them at about the 5-8 age range, with long brown hair falling in waves down their backs and ribbons weaving through their curls. In my mind, they are running through meadows, hands clasped, giggling and swinging on swings hanging from trees, full of life and joy. Complete.
It has been that way, since the day we said good-bye to Faith and Grace. That is the image in my mind. I picture Thomas sometimes as a baby and sometimes as a young boy, but more often as a baby. But, for Faith and Grace, it has always been the meadow.
Running free, hair flowing.
Maybe because they are my girls, daughters of my heart, born of my womb. And, I long for freedom…long to taste it’s sweetness and dance in the breeze. Maybe, because I love to inhale the scent of summer with the sun shining on my face. I long to be in that place of perfect freedom, the light of Jesus shining on my face, basking in the glory of heaven’s meadows. And, my sweet daughters are there, along with two of the most influential women in my life, my mother and Dinah.
I don’t know if you know Maryline. But, she is amazing. The above picture is one she drew of my girls with hands clasped, hair blowing free, standing in the meadow. So beautiful. I am so grateful for this precious gift.

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Today is our 17th wedding anniversary. Walking through life with this man has been one of the greatest gifts I’ve experienced. Even greater has been to watch him come to know the Lord, and grow into not only a wonderful husband and father, but a man of God…humble and strong. The unfolding of his faith will always be one of my favorite miracles. If anyone wonders if God still performs miracles, I have a house full of them. They all play guitar and golf and make messes, and make me laugh, and they proclaim the name of Jesus…each in their own unique manly, boyish, simple way. A way that often astounds and humbles me….a way very different than the way I proclaim His name…but a way full of truth and beauty…a way that would make the common man stop and listen…and believe…an easy way that just fits into life. While we are far from perfect, and our marriage has been riddled with many storms, Tim is a man, easy to honor…training young men to be the same. And, he is a man who values friendship and family, strong and rugged…but soft-hearted and sentimental at the same time. Life with him is a precious gift, and I thank God everyday for this marriage that He has rescued and restored with more beauty than I could have ever imagined. Beauty born from much ugly. My favorite kind…for that is the stuff of miracles.

We celebrated last night at one of our favorite restaurants (because they give you heavenly bread…and an unlimited supply of it!), Texas Roadhouse.

And… on a completely unrelated note…

Today, James and I are going to see the new Diary of a Wimpy Kid and we are super-psyched! I have learned to love books that get my boys reading. Meet them where they are…that’s what this veteran mom says! (I think Dinah would like that saying, don’t you?)
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Made to Crave

O.K….just wanted to give everyone a quick reminder that we are starting the Made to Crave Study this Monday. Get your books and read the Intro and Chapter One…and please be ready to discuss and encourage one another in the comments and Blog Frog. I think it will be really important to share and be accountable to each other as we seek to lay down some of the stuff we’ve been holding on to and learn to go to God for comfort instead. So far, I am loving what this book is saying…and really looking forward to reading with you! It’s not too late to join in. If you are someone who goes to food…or anything…instead of going to God to satisfy your cravings, this study could be a real encouragement to you.

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Sufficient Grace Online Auction

I don’t know if you’ve heard, but our way-awesome friend and SGM board member, Holly Haas, is having an online auction to benefit Sufficient Grace. Items are being added to the list daily as people have been stepping up to donate for the auction. If you would like to join in with a donation, it’s not too late. Also, help us spread the word. We would love to see many people attend to place bids and join in the fun! You can get a cute item…and support a wonderful cause! You can find more information about the auction taking place on April 6-8  here…and view items on the Caring for Carleigh facebook page, where bids can be placed on those days. Holly has a goal to raise more than $1,000 for Sufficient Grace. Will you help us? Please pray for her efforts and join in if you’re able!

Prayer Request for Hurting Marriages

This past week, two families have come to us requesting prayer for hurting marriages. Both of these Christian families are in urgent need of prayer! In both cases, the wife and children have left the home. Please, please, please take some time this evening to lift these families in prayer. They are not alone. Satan is working to tear families apart all over the world. This battle is not flesh and blood. It is spiritual, and best fought on our knees in prayer. Tim and I will be praying at 6:30 this evening. I hope you will join us from your homes or where ever you are at that time…or anytime.

Ephesians 6:12 (New King James Version)

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age,[a] against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.

Matthew 18:20 (New King James Version)
For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.”

I’m sure it still counts if we are coming from different places…agreeing in prayer…lifting our voices in one accord. Let’s pray together for these marriages…for the sanctity of marriage. Our foe is a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour….but our God is able to heal and restore even the most broken relationships. He is able to protect and defend these marriages. We are living proof of His ability to make beauty from ashes.

Please pray with us!

Things Dinah said…

Dinah was a character. One of a kind. Well, I have no doubt she still is…just heaven-style, now. But, if you were listening, she was full of wisdom. This morning I awoke with her words on my mind. Here are some of my favorite Dinah-isms. I may come back and add to the list later as I remember. I have a whole-lifetime of her words in my heart.

On marriage and keeping a home…

“You’re giving that man way too many words. He cannot handle every thought in your mind and every feeling you have. Without a word…He is won without a word. How do you not know that after growing up with all those brothers?”

Incidentally…she also said the above phrase about my boys…whenever I gave them too many directions or over explained…=) She would say, “You know he heard about three words of what you just said, don’t you?”

“Your home should be a haven to all who enter.”

“Let the kids play, but start getting things in order an hour before your husband comes home: have the house picked up, children clean and presentable, supper cooked and comb your hair, put on some lipstick,  and wear something pretty before that man comes home. He should come home to order and peace.”

“My mother took a nap everyday. I think that’s a good idea.”

“If it blesses your husband when you make him breakfast before work, then get up and make him breakfast.”

“The way you present yourselves and your family is a reflection of whether or not you honor your husband.”

“Never get too tired, angry, hungry, or lonely.”

“Make sure those boys know how to conduct themselves in any situation. You never know when you might have to eat dinner with the president.”

“Make sure those boys know how to treat a lady with respect and use their manners.”

“Make sure those boys know the Word. Better to pay them to learn scripture than to do their chores or get good grades. Sometimes good godly fear and reverence are necessary for a boy to know. They need to respect the things of God. Respect is the language young men speak.Then, they can learn about grace.”

“Baseball games and golf matches are not an excuse not to feed your family something healthy.”

She loved James Dobson’s philosophy about helping our kids find their niche: “You have to find some area of life..some skill or ability or activity for your children to experience success…keep looking until you find whatever it is.”

In regards to children with stubborn wills: “You always need to have more time than they do.” (That’s fine…I’ll wait it out…I’ve got time.) And also…”If you do find yourself in a battle of wills with your child…you must win.” Hence the waiting it out. Better, of course to avoid the battle of wills whenever possible. =)

On the way we present ourselves to others…

She hated it when people spoke with too much slang or “dumbed down” their speech. She would say it’s important to have a good “command of the English language”.

She was appalled by “poor-talking”….focusing on what we don’t have….acting like one is just so poor when they have plenty. She would say…”My Father owns the cattle on a thousand hills…it is disrespectful to act like He hasn’t provided plenty.”

On my family…

“Tim is such a good dad because he has horse sense.”

She always loved to say at various times when she was super proud of my kids or Tim, or anyone else, really. “He is just a rock star…really he’s a rock star.” She is one of the only people other than my mom and mother-in-law that I have felt like I could really brag about my kids when I was proud of them, and she would care just as much and feel just as proud. She claimed us as her own, and rightly so.

For her final resting place, she said she wanted to be “where Kelly’s babies are”. And, so that’s where she will be.

On God’s ways being higher than ours…

“He is who He is and He does what He does.”

One of my favorites when I was giving her too many of my words…(Ya’ll know I like words!)

“Are you almost done giving me the prologue? I haven’t got all day…can you just get to the point?” I do love a good prologue.  Everything has a story. =)

On God’s ways regarding grief and healing…

(The words below are taken from the Dreams of You Memory Book, Copyright 2004-2011 Sufficient Grace Ministries, Kelly Gerken. They were born like so many things in a woman’s life from a conversation Dinah and I shared about grief and God’s ways as He heals our hearts. I’ve shared them here before, but they seem fitting to share again here. Oh, I just remembered another phrase she always said when something wasn’t right….”This just ain’t fittin’!” She wouldn’t say that about this.)

My friend Dinah gives a great analogy of how God mysteriously works. She likens it to the changing of the seasons. In the autumn the leaves change colors. Often though it is so gradual, so subtle that we don’t realize it fully until one day the tress are orange, yellow, red and brown instead of green. In the same way as winter approached, the leaves fall from the tress. One day, we notice that the leaves are gone. We know they must have been falling for some time, but it was so subtle and gradual that we hardly noticed, until, one day when they were all gone and the land was stark and bare. When spring comes, everything brings forth new life. What once was dead is alive again. And one day it happens. You wake up and the leaves have returned once more – green and shiny and new. You can’t point to a time when they began to bloom, exactly. You may have seen a bud or two. But it seems that it is sudden. In reality it was happening all the time, subtle, gradual, unseen, changing and restoring life. That is the best illustration I have heard of the way the Holy Spirit works in us to heal and restore. How subtly God works in us to change us until one day what once was, is no more. One day , we are no longer struggling. We have overcome what once held us captive, be it bitterness, pain, grief, or sin. God had been healing us all along, working while we struggled. He will take the tatters ashes of the broken hearts and made them into something beautiful … God will use every tear, every moment of brokenness to make beauty from ashes to heal our pain and restore our joy.


Created to be a Helpmate…Chapter Six…Lies Women Believe About Marriage

This week’s chapter of Lies Women Believe is so full of important truths and revealing lies that women struggle with…too much for one post. I’m going to skim through some of the concepts and leave links to posts that have previously covered some of these important topics on marriage.

Let’s dig in. I find it interesting, but certainly not surprising, that Satan began the demise of the human race by attacking the holy institution of marriage. I remember when God began to reveal to me the beauty He intended for marriage…the mystical miracle, the intricate plan. It delighted me to learn the nuances….to watch the unfolding of His love story as we lived ours. When I learned through His Word how He designed marriage to reflect our relationship with Him…to grow us into the people He created us to be…to tangibly show us a picture of His love. That blows my mind today as much as it did the first day I realized that incredible earth-shaking truth.

Last night, at the Heart to Heart marriage enrichment evening at our church, (which by the way was delightful and full of laughter), the speakers talked about God’s intention for intimacy in marriage. Complete intimacy…not just in a physical sense. But the idea that we can completely trust ourselves with one another, lay down all of our rights to whatever we think we have the right to, open ourselves up, being vulnerable, knowing that we are safe with one another. They spoke of the oneness we are meant to share: body, heart, and mind. A connectedness that is nothing short of a miracle.

It’s possible…when we do things His way.

And, it’s amazing when it happens. I remember when it began for me. It was when I learned that I needed to stop waiting for Tim to change and just let God start changing me. It was when He began to love Tim through me, teaching me about the beauty and freeing gift of submission. The importance of building my husband up…respecting and honoring him….giving myself to him in ways that spoke his love language. It was when He taught me to start praying and get out of the way. Stop undermining and start encouraging. Stop looking to Tim to meet my every need…and start looking to Jesus. Before Tim walked with the Lord, God began to reveal the beautiful qualities He had already placed in him…qualities that God would one day use in Tim’s life to bring honor to Him, and show the love of Jesus to others. He taught me to stop looking at flaws and showed me how “love always hopes, always endures, thinks no evil”. Love doesn’t look at what we lack…love looks at the blessed gifts in each of us. I learned about dying to my selfish wants and desires and something incredible happened.

As I gave myself to Tim, loving him with abandon and no strings attached….as I prayed and learned to get out of the way…God began to work in both of us until broken things were restored, sins were forgiven, hurts were healed, and he began to give his heart to me in ways that I needed. It is a circle of love…of laying it all down. And, a mutual submitting that defies logic. In losing our lives, we gain life. In laying it all down, we are filled. In giving all the love in our hearts, we are given back love. It’s the way our relationship with God should look…the oneness, the being completely submitted to Him, the vulnerability, the trust, the sheer beauty of loving with complete abandon.

Basically all of the above…covers most of the truth about the following lies covered in Chapter Six of Lies Women Believe, by Nancy Leigh DeMoss:

Lie 21: I have to have a husband to be happy.
Truth: “The Truth is that the ultimate purpose of marriage is not to make us happy, but to glorify God.” Nancy shares some more excellent points in this chapter about not overwhelming our husbands with all of our needs.

Lie 22: It is my responsibility to change my mate.
Truth: Only the Holy Spirit can change our spouse…and it’s not our job. We will get much further by living a Godly life (winning our husband’s without a word – not nagging!), praying, and getting out of the way, allowing God to work. I would also like to add that our husband’s flaws are none of our business and we should not even look at or dwell on them. Time is much better spent dealing with our own flaws…something we can change.

Lie 23: My husband is supposed to serve me.
Truth: “God did not make the man to be a ‘helper’ to the woman. He made the woman to be a ‘helper’ to the man.” (Such truthful words from the author, based on scripture.) The beautiful thing is that if we fulfill our roles as helpmate, often it makes it easier for our husbands to fulfill their roles as a loving spiritual leader…one that loves us so much he will give his life for us. He gives his life for us, by laying down his own wants and putting us first, just as we do the same for him. It is truly a beautiful circle of love…and mutual submission.

Lie 24: If I submit to my husband, I will be miserable.
Truth: Submission is one of the most liberating gifts God has given us. It is meant for our good and our protection. Meant to show us a full picture of our relationship with Him. I encourage you to study out Nancy’s thoughts further…as there is much deception about the true gift submission is meant to be. I shared a bit about it in this post: Submission and  this post  Great Expectations.

Lie 25: If my husband is passive, I’ve Got to Take the Initiative or nothing will get done.”
Truth: In my words…we are most of the time better off if we get out of the way and pray than stand in our husband’s way of being the man God has created him to be. We fulfill our role much better as an encourager than one who continually steps in front of our husband or takes the reigns from his hands. Trust God…and trust your husband. They can handle it.

Lie 26: Sometimes divorce is a better option than staying in a bad marriage.
Truth: “Marriage is a lifelong covenant, He is faithful and we can be too. There is no marriage God cannot heal…no person He can’t change. God’s grace is sufficient…This is not to say that sometimes, for safety…in cases of abuse and habitual infidelity that a woman should stay in an unsafe situation. God gives wisdom and we should seek His direction and a woman should keep her children and herself safe, should she find herself in such a destructive relationship. But, too many people give up on marriage instead of sticking it out through the hard stuff…through the disappointments. There is joy on the other side, and He can enable you to remain faithful.

Love to all this Valentine’s Day….praying that all may know how precious you are to our loving Father…and how deeply loved you are….

What We Don’t Love About Marriage Enrichment Seminars….Giveaway Winners…and Humbling Thoughts on Expectations

Congrats to the winners listed below. Please email me your address and I will ship your items. Also, if you are a baby lost mama, and have not received a Dreams of You Memory Book and Comfort Bear from Sufficient Grace and would like one, please let me know in the email and we will include that with your “prize”.

Gift of Time Book Winners
Melissa
Teresa

Love Post Giveaway Winners
Beauty Will Rise CD – Deanna
When I’m With You (JJ Heller) CD – Kristin

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Just a little heads-up. I’m going to be honest in this post. Hope you will still love me when I’m done. Truthfully, that matters to me much more than it should…more than I would like to admit. We aren’t supposed to care what other people think. But, I do. I’m weak like that.

First…I’m going to share a little secret. Tim and I are not marriage enrichment seminar people. Don’t get me wrong, we’re glad they exist. Obviously, we think marriage should be encouraged and enriched. I’m not sure what it is…or why I feel compelled to search out the deep mystery of it at 4:00a.m., but we struggle with marriage enriching activities. Even the movie Fireproof, which I have recommended, and even gave away on this blog….we didn’t feel encouraged by it. I’m grateful the movie exists and wholeheartedly embrace and endorse it’s message. I think it is a wonderful movie, with a much-needed message that honors God and marriage beautifully. But, we didn’t feel closer after watching it. We felt as if we had already walked through that time of struggle in our marriage…that God had brought us to a different place. And, frankly….call us shallow…we thought we would rather spend our time laughing together. Honestly, we’ve cried plenty over the years…we’ve searched out the deep things…felt the depth of them…we’ve done hard. And, in some ways…we still are. Life isn’t perfect or easy.

Marriage enrichment seminars are often not our favorite thing, either. And here’s why…I think. They can be a great encouragement to some and have wonderful value. But, here’s the danger. They can also point out flaws in one another we weren’t looking at before. They can plant expectations in our hearts and minds…that lead to disappointment when one of us does not meet that expectation for the other. Love doesn’t put expectations on another. Love lays it all down…the expectations, the selfish wants, the “what about me’s”, the rights we think we have. Love lays it all down. And, love doesn’t look at the flaws. Check out I Corinthians 13. Perhaps I’m writing all of this as a reminder to myself, because we are going to a marriage enrichment thing at church tonight. And, quite frankly, it’s on my mind.

Most of the time, I’ll be honest…..Tim and I would rather go to dinner, walk around The Guitar Center, and laugh together. Play music together. Hold hands and pray on Sunday morning. Or, in the summer…soak in the beauty of God’s creation on the golf course…and laugh some more. Those are the moments that enrich our marriage. That feels like time well spent. Time appreciating the simple gift of one another. Not dwelling on all the ways we may or may not measure up. Right or wrong, that’s how we often feel about marriage enrichment….like it’s a measuring stick. I know it’s not meant to be that way. Not at all. We may, or may not be the only ones who feel this way. I’m doubting we are, if we’re honest. ;) Anyway, tonight we are going. And, I’m secretly hoping for some laughs.
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O.K…last uncomfortably honest revelation and then I’m going to make some tea with honey and start this day.

We’ve been sharing posts on the Lies Women Believe Study. I was determined before I started it, not to grow discouraged if I posted each week, and heard nothing in reply. Remembering previous studies, when I thought others, who showed enthusiasm at first, would join in and encourage one another on the blog…that we could discuss and pray for each other on each week’s topic. I was disappointed when that didn’t happen. Like marriage enrichment….I had expectations. Expectations are never good. They always lead to discouragement. Because at some point, none of us will measure up.

I prayed about the study, telling myself that I was doing it to serve the Lord, to be an encouragement, and because I needed to do the study. I needed the accountability…the commitment. So, I purposed in my heart…stay focused on the Lord. Just do the study each week. Pray. Write the post. Don’t look at whether or not anyone is participating. Just obey. I sent books out to those interested. I was exciting to see that several of you were interested. I launched in with enthusiasm, and then it happened. Slowly, less and less people joined in to add their thoughts. I shared my heart in the posts, but the discussion I hoped for where we all encouraged one another didn’t happen. My expectations…no matter how I tried not to have any…weren’t met.

Along the way, a few ladies have shared that they are reading along. And they have been blessed by the book. Instead of just being glad they were getting blessed, I wondered why they hadn’t joined in on the blog posts and Blog Frog, encouraging each other more in the study. I was grateful to know they were joining in and grateful for the conversation it sparked in that moment. Their input encouraged me to continue, knowing that others where being encouraged. But, as I continued and heard from less and less from my blogger friends, I grew discouraged again. Frustrated by my own expectations, I missed the blessing. I missed the true point of why God laid it on my heart to do the study in the first place…to encourage other women in the areas we struggle. What does it matter if it’s not happening the way I pictured it? What matters is, it’s happening. Women are reading the book and getting stretched and thinking differently about a few things. God is speaking truth into their hearts. Isn’t that the goal?

Yes.

But, for a little while, I was small and hurt. Feeling lonely after pouring out my own heart and getting little to no response. This week, I wrote about the struggles many women face with priorities and the difference between condemnation and conviction. A topic I thought might be of interest…even if some aren’t reading the book. Something I thought we all struggle with to some degree as moms with various roles in a busy world.

And…crickets.

 I wondered…should I keep going with the study? Is anyone out there? Is this helping? Is it relevant? Is it being a good steward of time?

Then, earlier today, another friend shared how the study is blessing her. I told her some of my struggle with the lack of response, and saw when I heard my words out loud, how ugly it sounded for me to be discouraged about my expectations not getting met. I was missing the fact that God was blessing her for taking part in the study. She said, “I’m sorry it’s not turning out the way you hoped, but God is blessing me through the study. He is changing me, and I just wanted you to know.” I was so humbled by the beauty of what she was saying in contrast to the ugliness of my flesh in that weak moment. God gently reminded me…it’s not about me. Even if we never see the fruit…even if there is not the response we hoped, or any response at all…our job is just to do what God has laid on our hearts to do. We never know how He may be using it to minister to someone’s heart. And…we don’t have to know.

My pastor often says, even if one person shows up to a bible study, he would teach. It is up to the Lord to do the work in someone else’s heart and life. We are just the vessel. We just obey. Just show up. Just write the blog post. Whether anyone reads it or not…whether it speaks to anyone else’s heart or not. That isn’t ours to decide…or even to know. God gives the increase. He gets the glory. We are just humbled and blessed beyond words that He is merciful enough to take us along for the ride.

For those who have shared what they are experiencing during this study…thank you. To those who are out there reading along, thank you. I pray that you are getting blessed and encouraged, as I have been, doing this study. (Also…please don’t take this post wrong. I understand getting busy and juggling many things. This isn’t meant to induce guilt. Just wanted to share something God spoke to my heart and revealed about a wrong attitude I was having…not trying to discourage…but rather encourage!)

O.K…I think that’s enough raw honesty for now…and way too much exposure. I’m going to hit publish before I think too much more about this, and sip my tea, and soak in this Saturday.

Have a blessed day! And thanks for sticking with me…flaws and all.

Snapshots of Love

                                                       What Love Really Means

Giveaway is now closed…winners have been announced!

I am joining with Mattie and several other sweet bloggy-friends to share What Love Really Means during the month of February. I must say, this post has been tugging at my heart, hanging over my head, and nagging on my mind since I agreed to write it. Love is such a vast topic, and we, with our finite, human minds are so inadequate to describe such a glorious mystery. I know I cannot share the depths of all that love really is in this little post. So, I will share but a piece of what love has come to mean to me. Snapshots of love God has bestowed on our lives and a few of love’s many languages spoken into our hearts.

The greatest love story ever told, is of course, the story of Jesus, coming to redeem and save His broken people. The greatest earthly love story I’ve ever known is my own, or rather, it is the story of the love He has woven between us.

Some snapshots of our love…

Laughter…

That’s the first love language Tim spoke to me. He made me laugh like no one ever has, and he did it in the midst of such teenage angst and brokenness. That laughter was music to my soul and a healing balm to all my broken places. He stole my heart with his quick-witted humor and chocolate brown eyes. There was an honest purity in those eyes. I trusted him.

Steadfast…

I was a spitfire. My own storm. A huge pain in the neck. (Sometimes I still am.) And, he stood firm in the midst of my fury and passion. I close my eyes and remember a shouting match that was mostly me shouting and spewing forth too many words, and him standing steadfast. He knocked on the door I had just slammed in his face, and thrust a tiny diamond in front of me, asking me to marry him, with a sheepish grin, while I still seethed with ugliness. The beginning of a life filled with moments of imperfection covered by grace, I said “yes”, and slipped the dainty ring on my finger.

Doing the Hard Things…

The Ashes…

Working, going to school, staying when others would have walked away…
Sitting by Timothy’s hospital bed, laying down his own plans…choosing us…
Scraping by on minimum wage…
Hanging on by a thread, two clueless young hearts trying to be grown-ups before our time in a tiny one bedroom apartment with a baby bouncing in the crib….
Me on my knees, surrendering at the foot of the cross, and him breathing in the black air of the factory and studying government…
Stolen moments of laughter in a foreign place of sorrow through the fresh heaviness of grief, laughter that only he could deliver as my arms ached for the girls I held for moments in my arms, but forever in my heart…
Standing by the grave of our only daughters on a cold November day, coaxing me to leave with his words of reassurance…
Him, going to work still freshly broken and coming home to me, collapsing in his arms in a puddle of grief and emptiness…
Trying again…an attempt to fill the emptiness…
His face, drained of color and the agony gripping my heart when we heard the words “incompatible with life”.
Driving home in the rain…
Another tiny coffin, this time lined in blue…
Weeping together…
Me, on my knees again at the feet of Jesus…
Abiding, remaining, loving through the hard. Letting God love through me, when I was too weak.

Redemption and Grace…

The Beauty…

A sweet miracle and the sound of our newborn baby’s cry…the sweetest sound…
Coming home…
His hands, calloused from hard work, folded in prayer on Sunday morning.
Him, standing in the food line, dressed in his suit on the day we buried my mother, carrying our plates, thinking when my brain stopped…
The guitar music that fills our house…
The sound of my voice blending with his guitar, lifted in worship…becoming one.
The teasing from our boys as they learn the love language of their father…just make her laugh, and everything will be o.k.
Me…the sucker for a good laugh. The three of them, all wearing a satisfied grin.
Riding home from the golf course in the truck beside him with the windows down, inhaling the sweetness of summer, with my hair blowing free and Need to Breathe turned up on the radio…

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Love is in all of those things…in the good, the bad, and the ugly of life. It’s in the laughter and the tears, the exciting and the mundane. It holds you beside the grave and laughs with you in the back yard. It stays when the world leaves….when all you want to do is run away…it stays to do hard. Determined, steadfast, true. Giving when you’re empty. In the weeping, in the laughing, in the music of it all…love remains.

I am in awe of God’s love. Continually in awe, as I watch Him weave this beautiful tapestry through our lives. His abiding love has carried us through laughter and tears, and continues to cover us with mercies…new every morning. I pray you know that kind of love. If you don’t, start looking for it…in the everyday. In the hard things, in the little things, in the beauty of the world around you. Ask God to show Himself and His love to you. Ask Him to fill your heart with His love for those around you. That’s a prayer He is just waiting to answer.

For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. ~ Ephesians 3:14-19

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A Little More on Love Languages…

When I was a young wife and mother, some wise women from the church began to mentor me shortly after I gave my life to Jesus. They taught me about honoring my husband and training my children, and keeping my home. But, one of the most valuable lessons was to learn to be a student of my husband. To learn how to speak his love language. While Tim, in his manly-manness, differs quite a bit in what makes his heart skip a beat from what makes my heart flutter in my girly-girlyness….we have found a common ground in laughing together. Laughter and teasing were love languages spoken in both our homes, growing up…and that is a heritage we have passed on to our children.

Sure, sometimes I wouldn’t mind a little sappiness. And, Tim…being a student of his wife’s love language has learned that, and occasionally obliges. (I must urgently interject here, though, that it is important to keep your focus OFF the idea that your husband should be a student of you, learning to speak your love language. Instead, keep your focus on learning his. Many times, he will follow suit, but that should never be your goal or focus. Love always yields. Don’t worry about what you will get back. Love gives without expectations.) In general, my boys show love by teasing me or getting me to laugh. They probably would never say anything this sappy, but I imagine my laughter is music to them, like their guitar playing is to me. They don’t say things like that with words, but with the satisfied grins on their faces once they hear the coveted laugh.

The other simple thing I’ve learned about loving my boys…and I believe this is almost universal for boys of all ages…is to listen and take interest in their stories. They love to tell their stories, and make us laugh. It is a great compliment to you, if they are willing to share. So, accept that as a gift of love…even if it’s a story about how they beat the next level on the Star Wars game or the crazy thing Jimmy did in science class today.

For more about Loving Your Husband in His Language, click here.

Giveaway!

In honor of love and marriage and all the good stuff God gives us in both, I would like to give away two CDs…one to each winner. One is Beauty Will Rise by Stephen Curtis Chapman….because he and Mary Beth have shared a beautiful love story, with God’s grace woven throughout. And JJ Heller’s When I’m With You, because I love her…and I love that she and her husband make beautiful, God-honoring music together. Plus, there’s a song on the CD called, What Love Really Means…which seems quite fitting! To enter, leave a comment on this post telling me which CD you would like. You can also share a snapshot of love in your own life…or share a bit of your own love language if you want. Or not. We like grace here! =)

Winners, Unanswered Prayers, One Way News and More SGM Christmas Extravaganza Coming Soon!

WWY Remembering at Christmas Ornament Winners Announced here. Congrats to the winners!

And, now the winner of the Reunion Necklace:

heathermohr from In this Storm

And….

The Winner of the Reunion Key Ring:

The Blue Sparrow

Please email me your address and I will get those right out to you this week!
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In other news, I have been doing some thinking about unanswered prayers….or prayers answered differently than we expected. About life’s disappointments and all of the goodbyes along the way.

These verses from Habakuk 3 mean so much to me as I reflect on the days in the past I spent waiting on the Lord…and some of the prayers of my heart currently awaiting answers.

Though the fig tree may not blossom,

Nor fruit be on the vines;
Though the labor of the olive may fail,
And the fields yield no food;
Though the flock may be cut off from the fold,
And there be no herd in the stalls—


Yet I will rejoice in the LORD,
I will joy in the God of my salvation.
The LORD God is my strength;
He will make my feet like deer’s feet,
And He will make me walk on my high hills.

I think of the years I saw little fruit in my marriage…the years we spent unequally yoked…the years I spent claiming these promises, allowing them to wash over me. What was the promise? Did I know all those years ago that one day I would stand on a stage beside my husband and join my voice with his in worship to our Savior? Did I know that when I sat alone in the church pew?

No….I didn’t.
The fig trees did not blossom and there appeared to be no fruit on our vines in the early years of our marriage as we muddled through the best we could. Trusting in what we couldn’t see, clinging to Him despite what we saw with our human eyes.

Did I know when I stood over the grave of my daughters on that cold November morning that one day their lives would be used to offer comfort and hope to hundreds….and soon thousands of families? Did I know that their lives would serve to create a tenderness in our hearts…that they would be part of the beautiful tapestry of this family…a piece of the puzzle that both shattered us, left us broken, and yet was essential to our healing all at the same time?

Did I know when I heard the words incompatible with life in regards to our Thomas on that rainy day? Did I know when we lept off the cliff in the fog and carried our sweet boy, praying for a miracle while planning a funeral? Did I know that His sufficient grace was carrying me those days, weeks, and months… and that He was waiting to fill me with the sweetest joy and comfort in what should have been the darkest moment of my life?

No…I didn’t.

The fields yielded no food…the sheep were cut off from the fold…and there was no herd in the stall.

But the prayer of my heart remained…

Yet I will rejoice in the LORD,

I will joy in the God of my salvation.
The LORD God is my strength;
He will make my feet like deer’s feet,
And He will make me walk on my high hills.

There were disappointments… incredible losses…prayers that weren’t answered the way I hoped. And, there still are some…in this life. But, looking back on those days…seeing what I couldn’t see then. Knowing the faithfulness of my God…sometimes, it’s good to look back and see what He has brought us through…to see how what once seemed hopeless has blossomed into hope…what once was a pile of ashes has turned to beauty.

If you are still in that place…still waiting for an answer or trying to make sense of an answer you never wanted…keep clinging…keep trusting in Him. Keep trusting…even when you don’t see. For, He is good…even when life is bad. He is faithful…even when we are faithless. He has a plan and purpose…even when we don’t understand. He is working long after we have given up.

When all you see is emptiness…

When it seems all hope is gone…

When you stand in front of the ruins broken and weary…

Remember this promise from Joel 2…

Fear not, O land;

Be glad and rejoice,
For the LORD has done marvelous things!
Do not be afraid, you beasts of the field;
For the open pastures are springing up,


And the tree bears its fruit;
The fig tree and the vine yield their strength.
Be glad then, you children of Zion,
And rejoice in the LORD your God;


For He has given you the former rain faithfully,
And He will cause the rain to come down for you—
The former rain,
And the latter rain in the first month.


The threshing floors shall be full of wheat,
And the vats shall overflow with new wine and oil.
“ So I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten,
The crawling locust,
The consuming locust,
And the chewing locust,
My great army which I sent among you.

You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied,
And praise the name of the LORD your God,
Who has dealt wondrously with you;
And My people shall never be put to shame.


Then you shall know that I am in the midst of Israel:


I am the LORD your God
And there is no other.
My people shall never be put to shame.

Keep waiting and trusting for His restoration…for He sees all that has been stolen, all the years the locusts have eaten…He will restore them…and His restoration is a beautiful thing to behold.

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Speaking of restoration, our band, One Way, had the opportunity to share worship music and our family/ministry testimony last Sunday at Holgate United Methodist Church. Thank you so much for your prayers. The day was a blessing, and we were so grateful for the kindness and welcoming spirit offered to us by Pastor Susan and the congregation.

No matter how we struggle through our days, how Satan attacks with doubt, how the locusts seem to feast on our lives, and even when the fig tree doesn’t bloom….

God is faithful to meet us there…and to carry us through…and to restore all that is broken.

Tim and I singing Days of Elijah…

Sharing our family and SGM testimony…

I didn’t know this sign was up there until I saw theses pics! Holgate UM made it, and I noticed they mentioned our church home. I probably would have said we were there to represent Sufficient Grace… although we are proud to say we are from Harvest…so  hopefully our church doesn’t mind claiming us! =)

God’s grace and faithfulness bring me to my knees. Our boys sat in the audience, as we worshipped together. And, I closed my eyes, remembering that once fruitless tree…now blossoming and growing in abundance. Sweet grace…washing over me…

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P.S. Tune in tomorrow for the BIGGEST giveaway in Sufficient Grace history!!! This is the finale of the SGM Christmas Extravaganza 2010…and it is going to be so much fun!!! It will include several of my favorite things! I hope you will join us.