Grow or die: it's your choice

I remember the day she said it. Eyes puffy from the wailing, I sat as she whispered truth into my heart. Just moments before I had stood at the door as he walked away, casting 10 years of marriage casually aside for the arms of another. The pain pressed so deep that it was hard to breathe. Fear threatened my tomorrows and the loneliness fell cold onto the dark of my life.

"You get to choose. Will you grow from this or die from this?"

The circumstances were excruciating and completely out of my control. I was walking this valley. The reality crushed every ounce of hope in that moment. There was nothing that I could do to get out of it. Nothing I could say or think or pray that would change this moment. I was walking this valley.

"You have a choice about one thing," she promised. "You can choose to grow from this or die from this."

The truth soothed my broken soul and I made a promise. I didn't have control over the circumstances. I couldn't change the fact that he left. But I could set my mind to grow. From that moment, I set my gaze on the only One who could change the destruction of my family and I knew that the change would begin with me. It's easy to place blame, but that is not God's purpose. He desires to change everyone involved.

Friend, every valley in our lives has purpose. God is fully sovereign over every moment and He will use this pain to grow our faith. We only need to trust with hands wide open, raised high toward our loving and gracious Father. May we open His word with an eager heart, ready to hear how He wants to change us.

For when He is finished, we will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of His splendor. Is 61:3

 

Looking for encouragement as you walk through the valley? Join us in a private Facebook group for standers: Intentionally Standing.

 

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you can't win your spouse back

you can't win your spouse back

It was really a hysterical sight. All 20 lbs of my two year old sporting his mamma's winter coat. Try as he might, there was no level of arranging that would make that coat fit him. He was simply too small. I watched him fidget and tug for quite sometime. At first, he was all smiles, but soon his inability to change the situation led to frustration.

As I watched him, I couldn't help but think of myself. Oh how often I "put on" my God sized circumstances and try and do something with them. I fidget and fumble trying to arrange and manipulate the situation in hopes of easing the pain. It doesn't take long before I find myself in a heap of frustration. I forget that the circumstances aren't mine to begin with. They don't fit me, so why am I trying to make them?

After nearly 3 years of standing for my marriage, I find that I still fall into this trap from time to time. Somehow I fail to translate the absurdity of a toddler wearing an adult jacket into a practical life lesson. I convince myself that I am capable of handling the situation and I set out to try it on. There's no doubt that other people struggle with this exact problem. In fact, as of today, there are 3,647 books in print on the topic of saving your marriage.

Clearly people are frustrated over their circumstances. If you dig a little deeper, the number drops to 860 with the addition of the term "christian." Did you catch that? There are over 3,000 MORE books in print for saving your marriage that don't involve God? Wow, I am seeing visions of a toddler trying to wear an adult jacket right about now. Honestly, I can't even imagine what kind of solution these books offer for saving your marriage, but I assure you that it won't work.

In fact, absolutely nothing that you do will work. Anything you or I do to bring our spouses home will end up leaving us feeling frustrated, because the problem is not ours to handle. There is no level of zipping, pulling, crying, or loving that will ultimately make a difference in your spouse's heart. Oh, you might get a temporary change, but make no mistake---> God is the only chance that a person has at changing his/her heart for good.

I've talked with so many standers who are lost in a sea of worry over their choices. Friend, stop fretting. Don't let the enemy talk you into trying to control something that doesn't belong to you. Don't worry about what you will say the next time he picks up the kids or what you should do about that request that he made of you. Pray about it. Listen to God and just obey. Because if you can't do anything to win your spouse back, then you can't do anything so bad that God can not work in his/her life. Trust Him.

Of course, this is not a license to file for divorce or treat your beloved disrespectfully. By all means, those things are clearly not in obedience to God. This is a call to lay it all down. A call to realize that nothing that you say, do, or think will change the circumstances. God wants the glory for the restoration of your family. He isn't going to get that glory if you have a hand in it. He's already got 1000 things in motion. As long as you are not working against Him, there is no burden to carry. You just need the faith to walk in obedience. No more tossing and turning over legal decisions, spoken words, or specific behaviors. You need only be still.

The Lord will fight for you. You need only be still. Exodus 14:14

Looking for encouragement as you walk through the valley? Join us in a private Facebook group for standers: Intentionally Standing.

sometimes it's just not alright

Sleep had finally come after hours of wrestling with the fear of circumstances and finances. Dawn had not yet broken, but the silence was pierced by her text.

There was another woman. Again.

I could hardly breathe for the pain. The horror pressed down on my soul as I grasped for words. The feelings and memories of my own despair haunted me. I wanted desperately to whisper "everything is going to be alright," but the words wouldn't come.

The truth was, everything was not alright.

I sat in the silence of darkness, tears flowing, crying out to God over all that was wrong in my friend's life. In my life. In our children's lives. In the lives of the thousands of others that have walked this path. In the moment, all I could do was pray. In the darkness, all I could do was give it to God.

Slowly the moments passed to days and my prayers increased in desperation. The situation began to cast doubt on my stand and that truth hurt. I wanted to trust God. I NEEDED to trust God. But it hurt.

Confident that this was an issue of faith, I began to pray over my faith verses and claim the truth that God is trustworthy and keeps His promises. But nothing changed. The tears kept coming and I became overwhelmed with grief. I pleaded on her behalf and mine. I begged God to help me understand.

But the truth is, sometimes life just hurts. Sometimes daddies leave their babies and sometimes promises are broken. Sometimes life just isn't alright.

Oh, how we want to believe that God would never allow this, but it simply isn't so. To imply that God doesn't allow pain, is to imply that He isn't truly sovereign There is pain and He is still in control. It's a truth that our feeble minds will never understand on this earth. A truth that leaves us on our knees clinging to the ONE who never breaks promises.

Friend, it might not feel alright for you right now. But that's ok. It's ok to hurt.  It's ok to cry out for mercy. I pray that you will find rest in Him knowing that He sees your pain and He holds every tear in His hands. Cling to the truth of who HE is, because in Him, through Him, and by Him...all things are made right.

No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. Romans 4:20-21

 

Are you looking for encouragement as you stand for you marriage despite circumstances? Please join us at Intentionally Standing.

 

{This post is linked up at Growing Home, Time-Warp Wife, and Far Above Rubies}

when love requires grace

when love requires grace
"OUR CULTURE HAS BOUGHT INTO TWO HUGE LIES. The first is that if you disagree with someone's lifestyle, you must fear them or hate them. The second is that to love someone means you agree with everything they believe or do. Both are nonsense. You don't have to compromise convictions to be compassionate." - Rick Warren

I didn't immediately know that I was "standing" for my marriage. Honestly, I'm not even sure what I was doing. I knew that I loved my husband and when I married him I told him that I didn't believe in divorce. I was serious about my commitment. I had grown up in a broken home. Maybe I was fearful that my children would grow up with the same insecurities and hardships that I had faced as a kid. Or perhaps I was simply embarassed that I had failed as a wife. All I knew was that God wouldn't allow me to let go of the life that I had built was this man.

My choice to forgive him was met with a lot of opposition. Friends, family, and pastors warned me that if I let him stay, that I would be condoning his behavior.

I think we are tempted to buy this lie as standers. We fear that if we stand for our marriage, it means that we condone adultery or addictions. Not so. We can stand for our marriage and what is right WITHOUT agreeing with the behavior of our spouse. It's called grace.

You see, I am not more worthy of God's grace than my beloved. My sins are counted the same and without God I live in a hopeless state of depravity. Standing for your marriage is not a license for your beloved to commit adultery or give in to an alcohol addiction. It's not permission to view pornography or break your vow. It's a compassionate extention of the same grace that has covered our own depravity.

It's called love. Real love. The unadulterated kind of love that is exclusive in the Bible. The kind of love that is patient and kind. It's the kind of love that bears all things and endures all things. Not some things. Not most things. ALL things. (1 Corinthians 13:4-8) Love endures ALL things.

This may not be the kind of love that the world wants to give. It's not self-serving or contingent on the love of another. It's not filled with fairytale endings or romantic dinners. We'd like to think that this is God's definition. We want to insert a few words into that verse like- love endures all things, except when he/she...

But God didn't write that. He said...love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

This is God's kind of love. And it's forever. (v.8)

 

Do you find this kind of love difficult? We'd love to hear about your experiences.

 

Are you looking for encouragement as you stand for you marriage despite circumstances? Please join us at Intentionally Standing.

{linking up with Time-Warp Wife, Far Above Rubies, and Growing Home}

when your fairytale falls apart

It's every girl's dream. A beautiful gown, a handsome prince and the promise of forever. The dream paints a fairytale  and etches "happily ever after" in our hearts. It's what we long for. It's what we search for, knowing that our beloved will complete our lives. And then one day we find it.  We walk down the aisle to forever and we promise.

To love and to cherish...

In sickness and in health...

Till death do us part...

Happily ever after. Well... at least for a year. Or a few months. Ok, one whole day?  Sadly, the fairytale always fades and real life disappoints. It turns out that love isn't a fairytale and life isn't happily ever after. Instead of cherish...it's scream and yell. Instead of love... it's "take out the trash" or "why can't you come home in time for dinner?" Suddenly he's lazy and she's put on some weight. Throw in a few kids and the situation is toxic. We forget the vow.

To love and to cherish...Till death do us part.

The very words fall heavy on my heart: the fairytale shattered. Tainted by years of angry comments and selfish manipulations. Blemished by a recording of wrongs and a refusing to forgive. We all want to believe that it's not true of our own marriage, of our own hearts, but the truth tells a different story. Marriage is hard. It's not a fairy tale and the doing is a very different story than we imagined.

So we live in denial... until everything falls apart.

I've been there.  My "happily ever after" crashed head on into betrayal. My heart begged to wake up from the horrific nightmare only to find it a dream. But it wasn't a dream. It was 3am and I wept alone in that bed playing the words over and over again in my mind. "I don't love you."

"I've NEVER loved you." The words cut deep into my soul. My mind couldn't be wrapped around the insanity of such a statement. Instead I replayed countless memories of smiles, precious babes being born, and nights in his arms. While no marriage is perfect, I could only remember a good one. I was blind to the dark tunnel that our selfish ambitions had hurled us into. I unknowingly refused to see the blaring holes that I had tried to fill with the love of a man. Holes that could never be filled by anything but a holy God. Holes that left me demanding and unsatisfied.

He left. Tears invaded as I watched the brake lights of  "happily ever after" fade into the distance. The moments were excruciating. Questions haunting.

What do I do now?

To everyone else, the answer seemed obvious. Kick him out and demand a divorce. After all, the Bible allows for it in the case of adultery, right? I'd heard it so many times. Honestly, it sounded pretty good...until I remembered the vow. The words spoken before a holy God. To love and to cherish...till death do us part. By HIS grace, God had begun changing me. He whispered promises in my ear. Promises of healing and redemption. Promises that He loved and adored me. Promises that He would carry me through. I realized that love wasn't what made a marriage work. It was the covenant: the promise of forever. I knew that I must honor this covenant, even if he wouldn't.

As high as God is above man, so high are the sanctity, the rights, and the promise of love. It is not your love that sustains the marriage, but from now on, the marriage that sustains your love.

~DIETRICH BONHOEFFER, Letters and Papers from Prison, 27–28 (taken from This Momentary Marriage)

 

Friend, is your marriage in trouble? Maybe the suitcases are packed. Maybe he/she has been gone for years. No matter what your circumstances are... you are not the only one who has ever been through this kind of pain. You are not the only one to ever lose hope or wonder how God could possibly restore your marriage.

I know you want to give up. But you promised. You made a covenant before God to love him/her. Will you honor it?

I would love for you to join me here every Tuesday as we stand. Intentionally. Honoring the vow we made....loving, forgiving, and trusting in His beautiful plan for our lives. Until next week, you can find me on the Intentionally Standing Facebook page, a private group where we can encourage one another or over at Not Consumed. I can't wait to meet you.

{This post was linked up with Hip Homeschool, Growing Home, Far Above RubiesRaising HomemakersDeep Roots at HomeNew Life StewardWomen Living Well, and We are THAT family}