What To Do When Your Spouse Doesn’t Believe

cropped-img_7845.jpgEthan and I decided to get baptized together just before marriage. It was Ethan’s idea and I was elated. He even wrote a testimony to share when it was our turn to get in the pool. It was beautiful. He talked about how we were committed to building our marriage on the rock and foundation of Jesus. It is still a joyful and precious moment in my mind.

But Ethan has really struggled in his faith for the last few years. He has such a passionate heart for justice, and in a world full of the suffering of the innocent and helpless, it makes him really question and even doubt God’s love and control simultaneously. For him, it is hard to make those two things reconcile with the world we live in. He also believes that science has started to point away from the existence of God, which makes him question further.

At first, seeing him pull away from God made me do the same, because I was praying that God would speak so clearly to him, that the scales would be removed from his eyes, that he would get revelation from the Lord for the answers to the things he couldn’t figure out or peace about the things God doesn’t want to reveal to him… but it doesn’t always happen immediately or in the time frame we think is best.

It’s God’s plan. We’ve gotta trust it.

So here are some things we can do for our spouses as they wrestle with their faith:

PRAY FOR THEM. Knew that was coming, huh? It is imperative that we do this!!! These prayers may not be answered right away, but we must persevere. Do they need a better group of friends? Pray for it! Do they need a mentor? Pray for it! Do they need to hear God’s voice? Pray for it! We also need to pray against the enemy for them, as they probably aren’t doing that for themselves. You can be fighting spiritually for them, on their behalf, helping them along the journey, as it is, ultimately, the enemy trying to keep them from joining with Christ to fulfill their God-given purpose and bring glory to His kingdom. Think “War Room” (if you haven’t seen it, it is worth renting and even purchasing – this movie is powerful). Tell the enemy he can’t have your husband. Pray against any spiritual attacks against your husband that God brings to your mind. Get your sword out and keep it bloody!!!

“Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up…(The Parable of the Persistent Widow)…’And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will He keep putting them off? I tell you, He will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?'” – Luke 18:1,7-8

“Then Jesus said to them, ‘Suppose you have a friend, an you go to him at midnight and say, “Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have no food to offer him.” And suppose the one inside answers, “Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children and I are in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything.” I tell you, even though he will not get up and give you the bread because of friendship, yet because of your shameless audacity he will surely get up and give you as much as you need. So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” – Luke 11:5-10

“The seventy-two returned with joy and said, ‘Lord, event the demons submit to us in Your name.’ He replied, ‘I saw satan fall like lightning from heaven. I have given you authority to trample of snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.'” Luke 10:17-20

“‘Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.'” – Ephesians 6:10-12

See also Ephesians 1:15-23 – this really parallels how I feel praying for Ethan. This is a great place to start if you like to pray scripture!

DO NOT LET YOUR FAITH WALK SUFFER IN ANY WAY. IN FACT, KICK IT UP A NOTCH. When Ethan started to really doubt, I started to feel awkward about talking to him about God stuff and doing God stuff with him and around him, so I toned it down substantially. But then I realized that my faith walk is my own, as is his. We can play a part in each others, but with Jesus, it’s a relationship, and the only way to have a relationship with somebody is to personally pursue them, to spend time with them, to put in the effort yourselfMy relationship with Christ is mine to own, and mine alone, as is Ethan’s. That’s when I decided I would continue to pursue Christ openly, and that changed everything. I ask Ethan to pray with me when I feel led, I share my cool God stories with him, I ask him to read the Word with me when I feel led to, I talk to him about my faith, even struggles with my faith, I talk to him about his faith, I tell him I’m praying for him, I ask him if I can pray over him when God prompts me… You have to decide to be obedient to Christ first and foremost. You have to live out the command to love God first and others second. 

“Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested Him with this question: ‘Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?’ Jesus replied: ‘”Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” all the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.'” – Matthew 22:34-40

ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER THAN WORDS – BE AN EXAMPLE OF CHRIST AND WALK THE WALK. There is nothing more inspiring than watching somebody you know truly live out their faith and seeing God’s transformation in them. Show them that your faith isn’t just words, that it is a life choice – something more than just a belief, something that is worth living for. Something that is real, tangible, and powerful. As you pursue Jesus each day, you will learn more about Him and He will continue to renew your mind to be more like His. Serve as Jesus serves. Forgive as Jesus forgives. Ask forgiveness in humility when you do wrong. Pursue joy and peace in the Lord. Be obedient. Take leaps of faith.

“Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do no believe the word, they may be won over without words but by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. Your beauty should not come from outward adornment… Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.” – 1 Peter 3: 1-6

“What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. But someone will say, ‘You have faith; I have deeds.’ Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. You believe that there is one God. Good! Event the demons believe that – and shudder. You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did.” – James 2: 14-22

RESPECT THE JOURNEY GOD HAS THEM ON. God is not surprised by their unbelief. He made them. He knows them (Psalm 139). He knows the struggle in their hearts. He can handle the questions. He can even handle the anger. They are on their own journey, a journey God knew would be their path. We have to surrender our spouses over to the Lord and trust Him. Worrying and stressing about it will not convert your spouse, but exhaust and frustrate you both. All we need to do is be obedient to God’s nudges and love them through it. Appreciate their journey and where they are at in it.

YOU PROBABLY WON’T WIN YOUR SPOUSE OVER BY DEBATING/ARGUING. You want to keep the door open on communication about faith. Arguing is actually a way the enemy can get in to shut it, making it you against your spouse, as opposed to you walking alongside your spouse. If any of you have taken the 16 Personalities test, check this out: my husband got “The Debator” and I got “The Defender,” (according to this test, we are each other’s exact opposite in personality types). Can you imagine a heated debate between us about the most important thing in the universe? Not. Pretty. And not productive. These impassioned debates-turned-arguments created a big rift in the faith part of our relationship. I was so focused on winning him back, winning those debates, getting my points across, that I lost focus on just loving him through his questions, doubts, and fears, which again, goes back to the previous point – appreciate the journey God has them on. God kept telling me, over and over, “I don’t need you to defend Me.” But it took me forever to believe it and realize that He just wants me to continue to show him compassion. To be a good listener. And to be a good listener to Him in those situations, so He can tell me when to speak, what to say, or when to only listen.

“Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them: ‘Any kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and a house divided against itself will fall.'” – Luke 11:17

REMEMBER THAT THEY ARE A CHILD OF GOD. Whose are they first and foremost? God’s. And through God, how should we see them? As a potential brother or sister in Christ. How does God see them? As worthy of unconditional love and grace. We should not stop loving them or divorce them (see 1 Corinthians 7: 12-16) because they doubt or struggle or have turned their backs on God entirely, we must be an example of Christ to them and show them unconditional love. God loved us before we believed in Him, we should love our spouses whether they believe or not. This was a game changer for me, and I was finally able to let go of the idea that I had to have a Christian husband, which had really become an idol to me. I started to look at Ethan as a child of God – somebody God imagined and masterfully created for a purpose (Ephesians 1:11-12), somebody God was willing to die for. I saw him completely differently. I stopped focusing on “flaws,” which are really just wounds surfacing or differences in our preferences, pasts, and personalities, and I started focusing on his gifts and strengths. I started to see the beauty of God’s creation that is Ethan. I started to really appreciate his character. And because of this renewed perspective of my husband, grace flows much more easily, and I’m getting that much closer to learning what it looks like to love unconditionally. It’s about choosing to love them sacrificially and in spite of their short-comings. This unconditional love, I’ve found, is an essential piece to the joyful and successful marriage puzzle.

“‘A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.'” – John 13:34

“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son…” – John 3:16

So, brothers and sisters, let’s continue to fight for our spouses, to love them in the middle of the mighty battle over their hearts and souls. Have a tender heart and a tough hide. Seek first the kingdom of God and He will guide you through the battlefield. The enemy cannot have our spouses or our marriages, in Jesus’ name!!!

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6 Ways to Become a Submissive & Respectful Wife

6 ways to be a submissive and respectful wife2

I have pondered a great deal on what it means to be a submissive wife. Ever since I gave my life to the Lord and began preparing my heart for my husband, I wondered at the concept. Now I’m well into the thick of marriage (over one year!) and God told me it’s time to stop wondering and start doing the work.

My husband and I have finally started learning afresh what God’s design is for the dynamic between a husband & wife, why He designed it that way, and how to live it out. I have relied on revelations from the Lord to show me how to take on this challenge of renewing my mind on these roles day by day. Both of our mothers grew up in broken, abusive homes, where their mothers lead out of necessity more than anything, so neither me, nor my husband, grew up seeing an example what this looks like.

Keep in mind as you embark on this journey – sometimes revelations come before mistakes are made, sometimes after. Be patient and keep one ear up to the Lord through it all and be sure to deal out plenty of grace!

Let’s start with scripture.

I had heard this one at least one million times, but it only sank in very recently:

“Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.” – Ephesians 5:22-24

Yeah, yeah. Read it before, give me something new… Right? That’s what I would’ve thought!

But let me rephrase and begin with the first strategy:


ONE: Submit your life daily to the Lord and you will be a submissive wife.

God designed marriage, therefore He wants you to be a submissive wife. If you seek the Lord first, He will prompt you on HOW to be a submissive wife. Let the creator coach you! Consider asking Him some questions throughout your day. Like: “What can I do to make my husband feel honored today?” “What can I do to show respect to my husband?” “How can I serve my husband right now?” “What does my husband need from me right now?”

It was also extremely helpful for me to think of it in these terms because it gives me something more tangible to go off of, something that I do have experience with, having been a believer for years now. I have been practicing submitting my life to the Lord since that first day I surrendered! So I ask myself, “What does my submission to the Lord look like?”

  1. I ask Him what He wants me to do. After He tells me, obedience is the submissive way.
  2. I trust Him with scary decisions, that He knows my heart’s desires, and that He knows what is best. Then, once again, obedience to His will is the submissive way.
  3. I trust Him with small decisions and trust that He cares when I ask.
  4. I lean on Him when I feel drained, confused, or too weak to continue on my own.
  5. I am honest with Him about my mistakes and ask for forgiveness. Then I seek wisdom from Him on how I can fix it.
  6. I try to bring Him honor and glory with my actions and words.
  7. I try to honor him with my body and my sexuality.

Now, just as the scripture says, let’s apply these things to my husband.

  1. I ask him what he needs from me – that day or bigger picture. “Is there anything you would like me to get done around the house today?” “How can I be a better wife for you?” “How are we doing?” “What would you like to do today?”
  2. I trust him with big-decision situations. If I disagree with him, I will lovingly and respectfully share my concerns, trust that he hears them, and trust that he is taking them into consideration because of his love for me and our family. After he decides what is best, I respect his decision by supporting him in it. If it goes wrong, I will not gloat or belittle him, but continue to show him respect and give him encouragement and, most importantly, grace.
  3. If he is asks me, “How are you?” or “What’s the matter?” I will answer honestly in a respectful way. If he has upset me, I will answer without casting blame or condemnation for something he has done wrong, but share openly how I feel. I will confide in him so that our conversations can be real, authentic, and relationship building.
  4. I will let him know when I need him. I will ask him for help and swallow my pride. Men need to feel needed. I will honor my husband by asking him to step in and be my knight in shining armor.
  5. I will admit my mistakes and genuinely ask him for his forgiveness. I will honor him by accepting it and promising him that I will work on that part of my flesh.
  6. When I speak of my husband to others, it will be words of respect and admiration. My words will honor my husband in that they will speak life over him to others so that they have no reason to look at him in a negative light. I will speak of his good qualities or hold my tongue. I will not give into temptation when surrounded by other women complaining about their husbands. I have realized this is incredibly important, but not a commonly shared belief in the world. As a wife, you will see his deep-rooted character flaws, and he will see yours. Just because those truths are found does not give you permission to speak of them publicly. If you need to vent, I encourage you to go to the Lord before anybody else. He is an amazing listener. There have been countless days where He has completely satisfied my need to talk about some struggle in my marriage.
  7. I put effort into my appearance out of love and respect for my husband. I dress in a beautiful, modest way when in public. I dress sexy for him at home. I show interest in sex with my husband, and even initiate intimacy. I try to keep my eyes and thoughts for him and him alone.

How do you submit to the Lord? Write it out and use that as a guideline for some tangible ways on how to submit to your husband!

Notice that all of the ways one can submit to the Lord (see above) are closely tied to an act of obedience. Which brings me to…


TWO: Be obedient to the Lord and you will be a submissive wife.

Scary or difficult though it may be at times to be obedient to the Lord, it always bears fruit. Whether the Lord is telling me to drop the subject, not say anything at all (because it’s not a big deal), do the dishes, or put more effort into my appearance, if you are obedient to the Lord, your actions will honor your husband.

“God, do I keep fighting for my way or let him make the choice?”“God, I don’t feel like he’s listening to me, do I keep pushing or back off?” “God, how can I submit to him when I think he’s making the wrong choice?” “God, what do you want me to do, right now, in this moment, to be a submissive wife?”

Don’t be afraid to be honest with the Lord about how you’re feeling. There have been many moments where I feel intensely upset, because I feel like my feelings are being swept under the rug. I told God exactly how I felt in that moment, how frustrated I was, how I felt like I had to stick up for myself to be heard, then asked the Lord what He thinks. In most cases, he told me I was the one not listening, that I was actually being selfish, to trust Him with it and let it go, etc. Then I would find out later on that the Lord was working on my husbands heart in amazing ways behind the scenes the whole time.

God knows what He is doing!!

Sometimes, your husband will make mistakes. Sometimes, if you are being obedient and prayerful in those moments of do-i-submit-or-do-I-fight, God will ask you to let him make those mistakes. I know I certainly learn from my mistakes! Remember – he is on his own journey with the Lord, too!

If, however, your husband is asking you to do something that is morally wrong or something that the Lord is pressing on your heart as wrong, remember that you are to submit to the Lord first, before your husband. That means that you choose to please the Lord before your husband. Always.


THREE: Have a servant’s heart.

You need to be ready and willing to serve the Lord to serve your husband (see scripture above). A lot of days, there aren’t any family decisions that need to be made, so how best do I show that love and respect to my husband then?

A lot of the time, the Lord will put tasks on my heart. A lot of times, they’re menial – tasks that can wait till tomorrow and tasks that I don’t often feel like taking care of. Sometimes they are tasks that are cumbersome, highly inconvenient, or force me out of my comfort zone. That’s where obedience comes back into play.

Selfishness is my greatest enemy in my quest to be a servant and a submissive wife. Oh, how many times I think “later” or “tomorrow” or “wow, I really don’t feel like doing that right now… I’d rather just blah blah blah.” So we have to choose whether we are going to obey the Lord or obey our flesh.

Also, these “menial” tasks mean so much to our family. My husband has texted me multiple times in the last month saying how much he appreciates that when he gets home, he doesn’t have to worry about dishes or picking up, and that he loves that I take care of the home for our family. (Granted, I am working part time, so I can’t speak into this too much for full-time workers, but that is all the more reason to explore this with the Lord, and what serving looks like for you in your home!)

Don’t get me wrong, there have been tasks that I’ve completed that I never got verbal appreciation for – that’s okay! I was obedient and submissive to the Lord. He saw and He appreciates it.


FOUR: Keep your husband’s role in perspective.

God’s design for marriage is for the husband to be the head of the household. He is responsible for the well-being of the family.

It is his job to lead with a servant’s heart, to make decisions out of love and consideration for his family over himself, to be deferential to his family, to protect with his life, to raise his family in the Lord, to show his wife that she is loved and cherished and beautiful, and more, as is explained in the rest of Ephesians 5.

“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the Word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies.  He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church – for we are all 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.’ This is a profound mystery – but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.” – Ephesians 5: 25-33

As one of my mentors told me: “At the end of the day, it’s his head on the chopping block. Everybody will hold him responsible for a lot of what happens to your family. That’s a lot of pressure!” It is a truly noble and difficult role – one God designed men to shoulder for His perfect reasons.

Ask God to renew your mind about what your husband’s role truly looks like.


FIVE: The only part of your marriage you can work on is you. SUBMIT the rest to God.

If you feel your husband is not doing one or any of those jobs listed in the previous strategy correctly/whole-heartedly/at all, that is something you need to submit to the Lord. Give it to Him to work on, pray for your husband, and then do your part. Just because your husband is not leading the way you would like does not give you the go-ahead to not be a submissive wife.

In “Captivating” by Stasi Elderedge, it talks about how the sin tendency of women is to control, and the sin tendency of men is to become passive. You don’t want to live a life being deceived by the enemy that you have to run the home for it to be done well or correctly. Dig into that with the Lord.

The more I’ve submitted to the Lord, and therefore my husband, the healthier our relationship has been, and the more my husband’s leadership role has developed and strengthened. Trust that whatever steps God asks you to take, He knows your heart, He hears your needs, and He is working on it in ways that you cannot see. So focus on your part and what God is asking you to do, give your husband grace, pray for him, and watch God work!


SIX: Work on unconditionally respecting your husband.

Whoa, wait. What?

In the book “Love and Respect” by Emerson Eggerichs, it talks about how a woman’s greatest desire is to be loved, and a man’s greatest desire is to be respected. It also talks about how women expect their husbands to love them unconditionally, but laughed when asked if they could unconditionally respect their husbands. They said that respect was something to be earned by them, and that they often did not earn it.

Ironic, isn’t it? When I read this, my jaw dropped. I had never thought about how unbalanced I was in my expectations from my husband vs. my output to my husband.

We expect our husbands to speak to us in a loving way during disagreements – even when they think we are wrong or when they are upset or hurt. They deserve to be spoken to with respect in that same situation.

We expect our husbands to love us after a heated fight. They deserve to be treated with respect and honor after a heated fight.

We expect our husbands to talk about us to others with love in his words and voice. Our husbands deserve for us to talk about them with respect and honor to others. That means you speak life over each other or you hold your tongue.

We should try to unconditionally respect our husbands, just like we want them to try to unconditionally love us.


It’s been about a month now, and the Lord has already begun to change my heart and behaviors in major ways. He has shed light on my tone of voice, my argumentative attitude that would flare up, my struggle with procrastination, our sex life, letting my anger get to the point of a digging comment, being slow to anger in general, trying to protect my husband by asking him to not do dangerous things, where I struggle most with selfishness, and on, and on, and on… It has been truly an amazing transformation already. Because of all these things, my relationship with my husband has drastically improved, and he has noticed and thanked me for it. We argue far less, he feels more loved, respected, and appreciated, there is less stress in our home, our marriage is healthier than ever, I am feeling closer to and more in love with him, I am bringing glory to the Lord and strengthening my relationship with Jesus, I am becoming more and more the woman he designed me to be, and on, and on, and on… The benefits are endless!

Though embarking on this journey was intimidating, scary at times, and occasionally overwhelming, I am overcome with excitement about it. I am seeing God’s transformative and redemptive power in a whole new way! I am witnessing Him working daily in my relationship with my husband and in our family dynamic. And, I’m overjoyed to say, because my mother found Christ and because she did the work to get healing from her past through Jesus, I can now explore this new concept with her, and I get to witness the fruit of this labor in a marriage outside of my own, that I have observed my whole life. This journey has greatly strengthened my faith and brought me closer to the Lord! I’m so thankful to serve a God that cares so deeply about every one of us, our husbands, our marriages, and the legacies we are creating for our families. Praise God, who gives wisdom generously and freely to those that seek Him!!

Soul Mates or Spouses by Choice?

Locking and Unlocking: Wedding Vows

The above article is such a tremendous peek into the mystery and wonder of marriage.  Me and my hubby have been married almost 8 months now, and I still cannot believe how much we have grown as a couple.  We have fought through the hardest of times and enjoyed the best of times together.  Our relationship is full of laughter, but also full of effort and sacrifice.  Christ knew what He was doing when He created the covenant of marriage, and I am thankful for it.

I always tease Ethan and say, “we’re soul mates” when we both do the same ridiculous thing or learn the most ludicrous facts about each other… Like that my cheek fits perfectly in his eye socket… No joke.  Then one day, during a discussion, he asked me if I am married to him because God told me he was “the one.”  I pondered that for a while, and answered something along the lines of, “That’s part of it!”  And then he pointed out the fact that, while that is amazing because the Creator, who knows my heart’s desires and needs, has brought me a man He sees as suitable for me, He also loves me enough to let me choose.  Then he told me that if I were in a line of the most beautiful women in the world that were also highly compatible with him, he would still choose me.  He didn’t only marry me because God gave him the green light (which is pivotal), but that he wanted to choose me, above all the other possibilities out there, because… well… because he wanted to.

That is amazing.  The power of choice is a very big deal on this earth.  God nudges, God speaks, but we must choose the path, either the path to obedience and surrender, or the path we make for ourselves.  It is a choice to let the Lord guide your steps.  Our choice to obey, to surrender, to have faith, to worship Him are how we show the Lord we truly love him.  He does not force us to do so.  Just like the Lord did not force me to marry Ethan, or force him to marry me.  He brought us together with all of our gifts, talents, strengths, weaknesses, baggage, and brokenness and let US choose so that each day we spend together, every fight we have, we can always remember the most important facts – that God is for us, and that we chose to vow our lifetime, our energy, our love, our affection, our sexuality, everything to the one person we married – and how very big of a deal that is.

When I am being the biggest turd in the world, just a total putz… Ethan chooses to show me love and forgiveness.  He chooses to believe the best of me, even when faced with my worst.  If Ethan wasn’t given the choice to love me or not, if he was somehow forced to love me day in and day out, if it was a mechanical autopilot thing…  I wouldn’t see it as love, but as his job, an obligation, and nothing more.  It wouldn’t be special.  It may seem like a very daunting task in that moment of anger or frustration or hurt to show me love, but it is something he saw worthy to commit to for the rest of his life.  That is truly special.

My God, my Father that loves me, brought me a man.  He told me that he could be the one I marry.  He gave me nothing but green lights.  That man, though he knew he was also taking on the responsibility of another life, one that he played no part in, saw something special about me and got all green lights from the Lord as well.  There were hard times, harder than most dating people have to go through, including the moment he had to turn his back on his family because they thought and publicly announced the worst of me for having a child out of wedlock (though they do not acknowledge that I chose not to have an abortion).  Ethan chose me.  Regardless of what the world said, regardless of the verbal abuse from his family that we both had to endure, regardless of the reprimanding from friends because I have a child…  That man had to turn his back on the world for me, and he continues to do so on a daily basis because he believes I am worth fighting for.  Not just because God told him to, but because he chooses to each day out of love for me.

There is so much to be amazed by in marriage.  The power of choice is one of those things, and man… does it carry a lot of weight.  God’s lead + our choice = a very very big deal.

An update on saving sex for marriage: 3 months into marriage

An update on saving sex for marriage 3 months

I am writing this as a follow-up of my other article Why sex is for marriage ONLY & 8 benefits of waiting, because I could not read enough life experiences and witness accounts for the purity battle while we were fighting through it.  It is one of the hardest battles I believe any person will go through.

Here is some encouragement for those out there: I am nothing but grateful that we fought that hard and succeeded in our battle to save our sex life for marriage, and it was worth every moment of struggle.

Here is why and/or what I have learned about sex within marriage, after saving it for marriage:

a.)  Our wedding night was beyond all of my hopes and dreams and expectations.  But understand this: we went into the first time with little to no expectation other than to just enjoy each other (I strongly recommend this for reasons c and d).  We did just that, and it was amazing.  After the bond that was created after 2.5 years of spiritual and emotional bonding, after the healing process I had to go through for my sexual past, after all of the vulnerable moments… we were ready.  Ready to learn what God intended sex to be.  Here is what I experienced – no shame, no guilt, no insecurity, only excitement, anticipation, love, and peace.  That was a huge moment for me, because that was something I had never experienced before.  I took so much comfort in knowing that Ethan is my husband, because I knew that I could trust him with my sexuality and that he would not change.  I knew he would still strive to love me unconditionally.

b.)  Sex is extraordinary, and extraordinarily temporary.  I remember my mom suggesting before the honeymoon, “You guys can go for a day trip here, and see the sites there, and yaddah yaddah yaddah…” and I remember thinking, “Woman, we are not leaving our cabin!  We’re gonna be too busy having sex!  Do you understand how excited we are after all this waiting?  Sheesh!!”  But guess what – our bodies could only have so much sex.  Literally, things stopped working after day 3 and we had to start setting time restraints so that we could let our bodies recuperate adequately enough, because without them we wanted to keep trying.  It sounds so funny, but it’s the honest truth!

So during our 8 hours of rest, we were back to our old way of life – just hanging out together, shooting the breeze, making each other laugh, being silly, talking about things that matter to us, bickering from time to time.  It was then that I realized that had I been spending that time with anybody but my husband, I would have been disappointed and bored out of my mind.  But our relationship was not built on the foundation of sex, it was built on an emotional and spiritual bond.  That time that we spent together one-on-one, in nature, without our daughter… was priceless.  Sex supplements a relationship – it cannot sustain it or build a relationship past physical gratification.

c.)  Keep sex in perspective.  Keep reminding yourself what God intended sex to be.

The world has twisted sex into being something other than what it was made to be: something based on performance, physical satisfaction, the need to reach orgasm, and the need for sexual encounters to be wild and exotic.  Something purely physical that doesn’t often enter into the realm of emotional or spiritual connection.  Something revolving around the selfish desires of the person seeking satisfaction rather than seeking to satisfy the desires of the other.

This worldly vision of sex is something that a couple must fight together.  We have to focus on what sex was made to be, not what the world says it should be.  God opened my eyes to my own thoughts starting to follow this path about a month into our marriage.  I found myself thinking more about performance than connecting with my husband.  I thought more about my own satisfaction than showing him how much I love him, and making him feel how much I love him.  I was thinking more about my own wants and desires than my husband’s.

God made sex to connect a husband and wife physically.  God made sex to make babies.  God made sex to be a service to each other, a way of showing physically how much a wife loves her husband or how much a husband loves his wife.  It is a humbling experience when you realize that your thoughts have strayed to the selfish end with sex, and it has been so freeing for me since I have redirected my thoughts to purely enjoying my husband and wanting him to feel deeply loved and happy.  I will also say that without my selfishness, sex has been far more pleasurable and powerful for me.

d.)  Be willing and ready to work at it.  It takes trial and error, it takes moments of laughter, it may even be frustrating at times.  Nobody can do it flawlessly.  Don’t expect that from yourself or your spouse.  Just enjoy each other, remember that sex is meant to be a loving act and an act of service to your spouse – it doesn’t always have to produce great or mind-blowing results.  As Timothy Keller says in “The Meaning of Marriage”,

“With sex, we were trying to be vulnerable to each other, to give each other the gift of barefaced rejoicing in one another, and to know the pleasure of giving one another pleasure.  And as the weeks went by, and then the years, we did it better and better.  Yes, it means making love sometimes when one or even both of you are not “in the mood.”  But sex in a marriage, done to give joy rather than to impress, can change your mood on the spot.  The best sex makes you want to weep tears of joy, not bask in the glow of a good performance.”

e.)  You will find your sex life under attack at some point.  Sex is an important part of marriage, and marriage is a very sacred thing – of course Satan would attack your sex life.  We were certainly under attack within the first month or so.  Wounds from my husband’s past and my own mistakes (no matter how small) were stirring up feelings of distrust.  Distrust and the vulnerability that comes with sex do not mix.  Our sex life suffered from that for a while, and it was extremely scary and disheartening.  But after a lot of talks, and a lot of prayer, we are back on track building our relationship emotionally, spiritually, and sexually.

I have read and heard a lot of stories from people who reprimand others for waiting to have sex until marriage because they had an awful experience doing so and it ended their marriage.  In most cases, I would be willing to bet that some, if not all, of the following were at play: their expectations of each other were too high (probably brought on by our hyper sexualized culture and/or pornography), they were thinking more of their own satisfaction than their spouse’s, they were seeking to impress rather than connect, their sexual relationship was under serious attack from the enemy.

Push through the attacks, seek God in how to fight for your marriage, and then obey.

Faith: level expert

God has taught me so much over the last few months about faith – to strive for the ultimate kind of faith.  

The faith of the Proverbs 31 woman – where she looks into the future and laughs without fear at the days to come – at all the uncertainties of the future – at all of the to-do’s that never get done – at all the deadlines she struggles to meet – at all the trials she knows she is bound to face.  

The faith of Abraham.  A man who gets this ridiculous and outlandish promise from God that his old, dying body will sow a seed in the old, dying, and barren body of his wife.  They are both dinosaurs and God makes this promise.  Though Abraham and his wife do experience a lapse of faith, as we all do, they return to the Lord’s promise, and pursue the Lord.

I don’t know about you, but if God told me something crazy like that, I would wonder and doubt whether or not it was real – did it really come from God?  I know He can do anything, but that’s pretty major.  Was that just me, hoping that will happen, or was it His voice I heard.  And then if you have to wait for His promise, it becomes a question of – did I miss it?  Has He changed His mind?  What do I have to do to make it happen?  And, I don’t want to wait anymore.

I love Romans 4.  It talks in depth about the faith of Abraham.  Verse 18-21:

“Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, ‘So shall your offspring be.’  Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.” 

God can so work miracles.  And He is a pro at it.  Over the journey I’ve been on in the last month, God has been slowly and carefully showing me how trustworthy He is, how much He loves me, and how perfect His plan is, and how much power He has in my life if I let Him in to lead.

Here is the work God has done in my life over the last month, and the lessons He has taught me, as well as the affirmations He has given me of His faithfulness and power.

Miracle #1.

My daughter was admitted into the ER Monday afternoon for extremely high blood sugar (400), dehydration, and to be tested for diabetes. She had been getting sick every hour or so all of Easter and through the night. All of the nurses and doctors were sure that she had diabetes. Many of them told us to prepare for the news of the last test, which they were all convinced would verify that she has type 1 diabetes, and to prepare for this serious lifestyle change.

They gave us crash-courses in the process of checking her blood 4-5 times a day and giving 4 or so injections of insulin per day to compensate for the number of carbs eaten per meal and to stabilize her overnight. They told us that the next day, we would give her the injections ourselves.  Ethan told me I had to find the strength to do this, but all I felt was fear and saddness for my daughter for this life-long and potentially life-threatening burden she would face.  My precious baby girl, pleading the nurses “please don’t poke me again” while sobbing.  I went into the bathroom in our room and wept, pleading with God, telling Him I could not do this, and if there was any way that He could change this situation, that He would.

And then the next day everything changed, her blood sugar had stabilized.  She looked and felt better.  We asked the nurses to hold off on the insulin shots after breakfast, since we still hadn’t gotten the last test back, which a few of them did not like.  Luckily, we got the approval to do that of the doctor on the floor.  Then the endocrinologist came in, thoroughly confused but excited saying “The nurses on the floor kept telling me, ‘you need to convince them that she has diabetes, because they still don’t believe it.'”  So he studied that last blood test that we’d been holding our last hope in.  And, by the grace of God and against all of the other evidence, he informed us that she does not have diabetes.  He admitted that he had never seen anything like it, and the same went for all of the nurses of the floor.

As they monitored the blood sugar throughout the day, they found that she had fully stabilized and fully recovered. After so many surprising changes, the nurses started saying how surprised, and confused, and happy for us they were. Words cannot describe how thankful I am or how much I learned through this whole experience. It was a terrific and scary reality check that Jesus can work miracles when we believe and if it is God’s will.  He loves my daughter, He loves me, and He answered my cry for help.  I thank Him greatly for caring for my precious gift.

Miracle #2.

I had finals while all of this was happening with my daughter.  I had to email my professors to ask for pity and for a rescheduled final (not easy at the school I go to).  Luckily my first was accepting.  My second was as well, but I had nearly no sleep and my study plan had gone from bountiful hours to nearly nothing – and this was for my second to last math class, called Abstract Algebra – notorious for being difficult and for some failures.  I’d been praying the whole last month a prayer based off of the Romans 4:18-21 verse, stating that I recognized that I did not have the time, patience, or interest in the subject to pass it with my own power and efforts, but that I trust He has the power to prosper me and make me successful.  I felt His comfort each time I did, and my burden always lightened, and my stress levels always lowered.  This was God’s will that I go to school for this degree, He made that clear to me.  I had to trust Him.  And man did I mean that prayer as I sat down with that final exam.  He kept His promise – I passed.

Then I sat down to take my last exam, and, stupid and irresponsible me, I didn’t think I needed to study that much for it.  It was a math history class, for crying out loud.  Then I sat down to take it, counted all the points I thought I’d scraped together, and realized that I was about to get a 20% on the final exam.  I prayed that the professor would look on me in favor.  By the grace of God alone, he did and he allowed me to come back the next day to finish once I told him the truth about what had happened and my poor decision to not invest enough time to study for this exam.

Even when I goofed up majorly, God was there and He still kept His promise.  It was not by my power or by my might, but by His Spirit.  I cannot boast about my own power or will, because I could not have passed these without Him.  He made that abundantly clear.  Not in those circumstances.  I give all the glory to the Lord.

Miracle #3.

I started my LAST class Tuesday, the hardest class in my Bachelors of Mathematics, and I’ve already failed it once. The prof. is in the middle of his pep talk (HW collected every Tuesday, pop quizzes on some Thursdays, 2 midterms, no make-up exams…) and I’m wondering how I will pull off taking that week off for a honeymoon with Ethan, which has been our dream since we started talking marriage (2 years ago).  I started rehearsing what I can say to this man to hopefully get some sort of pity, praying God helps Him look on me in favor… Then he says, “But we won’t have class one week. I’ll be gone the 10th-14th.” That is the week after my wedding. Teachers, especially for an accelerated course, NEVER take vacation time…. but this man will… the week after my wedding… I get to spend that whole week just me and my husband! We get to have a honeymoon!!  God is such a boss at lining everything up perfectly. Ethan had picked our date last fall, little did we know that when He did, it would be the one weekend where we would be able to live out our dream of taking a honeymoon the week following.  And any of you that have read my blog before know how long we have been waiting to have sex… and it’s been a battle that we have fought successfully.  And now we get to spend a whole week devoted to each other, away from the world, as newlyweds.  

Miracle #4.

Ethan and I are house/apartment hunting.  Intensely.  We loved the idea for a place in a downtown area, cause that’d be a blast, but we’d pretty much written it out of the books due to cost.  We’ll be married in less than 4 weeks, and we’d like to move Ethan into our place to get everything settled the week before the wedding.  God has also lead us to this: I need to stay at home with my daughter and help her adjust to all of these life changes.  To pour into her, focus on her, and mother her thoroughly throughout the month of June.  Make sense logically and financially?  Nope.  Make sense when living a faith-based life, trusting that God will provide the means to support ourselves and keep His promise?  Yep.  Then the other day, after this idea was challenged and attacked by the enemy, I reaffirmed this plan that Ethan had come to with the Lord, and he accepted my support.  We’ve prayed and prayed God would lead us to the RIGHT place.  Not just a nice place.  Then we found out that one of Ethan’s coworkers is moving out May 30th from her 2 bedroom apartment above a store in the downtown of our hometown.  And get this – her rent is $435 a month.  It is a safe and beautiful area.  That is unheard of.  We called immediately, I talked to the owner, and he said we can count on it.  We are continuing to pray that God keeps this transition successful, and we trust that He will.

Miracle #5.

Ethan and I debated the logistics of going on a honeymoon.  Can we really afford to travel anywhere?  That was both of our dream.  We had the idea of going to an up-north cabin, somewhere secluded in nature (nature is a spiritual pathway for both of us).  Found several beautiful ones that were super affordable.  We’d need about $500 for the whole week.  Can we really justify spending that, though, given our plan for my being a stay-at-home mom for at least the first month?  Yes we can, because my mom informed me that our wedding gift is $500.

 

I read the gospel of Mark just last week and there was a reoccurring theme: belief in God’s power leads to miracles.  If we do not believe, He does not work miracles.  In the Bible, it says literally that Jesus couldn’t.  I also believe that part of it is because if He does work them, they will be seen as luck and it will bring no glory to the Lord.

I want to open up this one to everybody.  I would love for this to be a running testimony of miracles God has worked in your lives, whether recently or in the past.  I believe that personal testimony is a great proponent of our faith – and if a lot of people write of their experience, think of how powerful it can be for somebody exploring their faith, or somebody experiencing a set-back in it.

Encouragement for those mocked and insulted (especially for their faith)

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When mocked and insulted because you believe in Jesus, remember 3 things:

  • Your faith is substantial enough for somebody to feel threatened or offended by it, and though I’m sure they would never admit the former, I have very strong evidence this is the case more often than not.  Christianity challenges people to live beyond their selfishness, put others first, live for something bigger than themselves, and to have faith in something they cannot “see.”

I say “see” because the worldly definition of it limits the sight of God to a face or person or visible presence of some sort.  However, many of us see God in so many things around us: a beautiful sunset, nature in general, the face of a chid, in the love of another person, in miraculous situations that cannot be explained logically, in the everyday “coincidences” that lead to something so much greater.  We see Him working all the time.

But our belief goes beyond sight – it moves through all the other senses.  We can feel His love, feel His healing, feel His forgiveness as weighty regrets are lifted off of our shoulders.  We can feel the freedom that comes with accepting help and accepting the fact that we are not in control.  We feel the empowerment of the Holy Spirit when we are helped through overwhelming situations.  We feel His peace as He teaches us to have faith in His provisions for all of our needs.  We can hear His voice (true story, we just have to train ourselves to listen).  We can taste the victory of eternity – that is what we are fighting towards, and we want as many people to join us as possible.

When tempted to fight back against a nasty post about my faith and my mission today (I had an absolutely superb come-back, by the way, which made it all the more tempting), I waited, prayed, and realized that I was saying it all out of anger – it would not do any good for that person’s faith (or lack of it) for me to make a catty remark back.  Instead, I realized it was a “turn the cheek” moment and didn’t say a word.  Though it was difficult, that was not a moment that God could have used for His glory, it was only for mine.  Eventually, I was thankful for this nudge after a period of cooling down and a very insightful talk with my mom.

But this whole concept goes beyond attacks on our faith, it applies to attacks in any aspect of life.  My mom has been disrespected at her job lately in unacceptable ways, via e-mail – one of the most cowardly ways to bully.  One man used the phrase this isn’t baking cookies.”  Sexist, belittling, and offensive.  Well played, sir.  But my mom let the Spirit lead her, and after a few hours of prayer and cooling down, she took the Romans 12:20 route of heaping burning coals on his head by showing him grace and kindness and patience.  God sees what she did, and the man will probably realize how rude he is being when he realizes how incredibly nice she is being.  A beacon of light that cannot be quashed.

I also love to hear the stories of my fiancé boldly defending his faith to those that challenge him.  He is the type of guy that likes a debate, and he can debate without getting heated.  I truly believe it is a gift, because when he is challenged, he can debate in such a way that doesn’t turn people more off to the thought of Jesus, but actually begins the eye-opening process.  The movie God’s Not Dead reminded me of him, I just knew that he would love being in the main character’s shoes.

It’s all about what the Spirit is calling you to do in that moment, no matter what our pride or emotions are telling us.  If God tells you to stand your ground, do it and let God speak through you. If He tells you to turn the other cheek, then either the person is not ready to receive the truth or the situation is too emotionally charged and you cannot give the truth in a non-negative way.  Or, like me, you’re about to speak out in anger that will not lead to any glory for God.

  • We are molded by trials.  God can and will use everything for His glory.

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.  Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.” (James 1:2-8)

“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,  through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” (Romans 5:1-5)

Here are some Bible quotes that I have found extremely encouraging over the last few days:

 (Romans 8:18) 

I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”

(1 Peter 4:12-19)  

“Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.  But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.  If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.  If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler.  However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.  For it is time for judgment to begin with God’s household; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God?  And,

‘If it is hard for the righteous to be saved,
    what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?’

So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.” 

(1 Corinthians 3:18-2o)  

“Stop deceiving yourselves. If you think you are wise by this world’s standards, you need to become a fool to be truly wise.  For the wisdom of this world is foolishness to God. As the Scriptures say,

‘He traps the wise
    in the snare of their own cleverness.’

And again,

‘The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise;
    he knows they are worthless.'”

Bible quotes about suffering for Christ

Fight to Follow

So I asked God what He wants me to write tonight, cause I felt a nudge to write something.  I walked over to my Bible, and said, “What do You want me to say tonight, God?” and opened to Romans 6.  Romans 6:15-23 stuck out like a sore but beautiful thumb.

The cool part is, Ethan and I have been struggling with sexual temptation, I have friends struggling with various temptations (over sex and/or substances), and I have been reading and responding to several comments from couples that are dabbling with the idea of having sex before marriage or are already doing so and don’t intend to stop, but are Christian couples that want to pursue Christ individually and/or as a couple.  I honestly believe that this is God’s response, to them and to myself.  Pray for the ears to hear and the heart to receive, and then read what He says, cause it’s pretty stinkin’ awesome.

Slaves to Righteousness

 

15 What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? By no means! 16 Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? 17 But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance. 18 You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.

 

19 I am using an example from everyday life because of your human limitations. Just as you used to offer yourselves as slaves to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer yourselves as slaves to righteousness leading to holiness.

Let’s do this, brothers and sisters!!  I am so pumped, guys.  When God calls you out on a sin, it is a moment when He is saying, “You’ve got it wrong, child.  What I have for you is so much better, you cannot even imagine.”  Let’s commit to His ways, let’s worship Him with our bodies, with our choices, with our sacrifices (whatever they may be).  Let’s show HIM how much we love Him.  Let’s give Him the throne of our lives and take off the idols!  Let’s trust God’s will for our lives and follow His lead.  God’s way is the most fulfilling, let’s let Him prove it!!

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” – Jesus (John 10:10)

Let’s let God fight with us and for us.  God can help us overcome every temptation and every struggle, but the initial choice to do so is our own.  We’ve got His Spirit in us, we can tap into His power, He will empower us to win if we choose.

“For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.  We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ…” (2 Corinthians 10:3-5)

Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.  For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:11-12)

photo credit: Adam Sally (see more art here, linkedin)