A Prayer Of Wrestling...

I didn't write this though I can really relate to it....a prayer for times when I've wondered if I could walk in faith for one more day; times when I've needed to wrestle with God like Jacob did, or groan to Him like David because of the struggles within my heart.

I'll bet you've been there a time or two yourself...especially if you're married.

When loving means to grapple,
When kindness is a fight, against the self that gives,
And him who takes, when heartache is the payment,
For proffered grace
Lord , hear my prayer

When fury is my bread, and grief the the vim that animates my bones,
When those I love are my foes,
When hate and mercy grapple for my soul,
When I the turncoat am,
The soldier who won’t stand to bear the battle
Lord hear my prayer

When living is a breaking of heart and hope and bone,
When rash, I rave at heaven,

And strike out blindly against the cold,

When I am Jacob, wrestling against the Lord

And lamed by grace, I fall

Lord hold me close,
and be my prayer.

~ Sarah, Thoroughly Alive


A Devastating Loss...

If you've been following us for a while or have ever heard us on any of our ministry calls, you may know that my first marriage ended because my husband passed away and as heartbreaking as it is to lose a spouse, I can't begin to imagine how devastating it would be to lose a child. If you have, I'm deeply sorry....more sorry than I can say.

A couple of weeks ago, we got a call at 5 in the morning letting us know that the home of our friends, the Hogans, was on fire and two of their daughters were trapped inside. Despite every effort, the firefighters - while eventually getting them out - were unable to revive them and they passed away.

Not only has this family suffered the loss of their children, the home they lived in was lost as well ~ they'll be rebuilding their lives in many ways.

Unbelievably, Extreme Home Makeover is currently looking for a deserving family in Maine - which is where our friends live - to bless with a home and a Facebook campaign has been started to nominate this family. This article in the Sun Journal (their local paper) contains links to the specific facebook page as well as an email address to send your nomination to.

I have no idea what the criteria is for EHM when going through their decision process and, of course, a new home will never bring their girls back, but it could help them begin to rebuild their lives as they walk through this season of healing. Won't you take a moment and nominate them along with us and if you have a facebook page will you please post the link above in your status bar so that your fb friends can join the campaign? Thanks.


Should Sex Be The Solution...

I’ve been hearing a lot lately about conferences for women wherein the speaker(s) exhorts married women to entice their husbands by actively participate in ‘sexing up’ the relationship between the two of them. You know, things like wearing sexy lingerie, giving their bedroom a romantic makeover, giving their husband a lap dance, incorporating adult toys into lovemaking, pole dancing…you get the idea. All exciting options for a husband and wife to enjoy together and I’m sure Michael would love there to be a pole in our bedroom or to have me on his lap dressed in some diaphanous scrap of nothing (which would quickly be off of me in any case). For us, there’s a deep level of safety and trust that allows for this kind of….expansion… in our sex life which is largely due to the fact that Michael has been proactive in being a godly husband by living with me in understanding, initiating life into our marriage and pursuing me in a loving way.

For a lot of wives, seeking to turn her husband’s heart towards her via sex has been nothing but an unsuccessful attempt to bring emotional closeness and intimacy to the relationship and for them, it's felt like one-sided trampy, slutty sex instead of fun, erotic sex enjoyed by the two of them. And it’s not because she’s not beautiful or sexy or willing.

Recently, I was set to interview a woman who puts together conferences like the one mentioned above; here’s a snippet of an email I sent her:

I'm very much looking forward to interviewing you and learning more about you, your conference and talking about the importance of sex and romance within marriage.

The sexual relationship between a husband and wife is an area where a lot of the couples we minister to struggle; be it from neglect, complacency, abuse, adultery, etc., and this would be something that I would like to get your perspective on, along with a husband's role in helping his wife feel safe enough with him that she'd be willing to deepen her intimate relationship with him and with God as she begins to explore the godliness of being a sexy wife.
In truth, most of the Christian wives we talk with have gone down the "try to be more sexy" road in order to win over their husbands and they've had a very negative experience.

This may be a bit of a different spin on things for you with regard to your ministry; we really talk a lot on a husband's role in the marriage insofar as him being a source of life and strength to his wife, living in understanding with her, laying his life down for her and loving her unconditionally and him being an initiator with her instead of a responder.

I haven’t heard back from her since I sent this over a week ago which I find kind of telling and sort of sad, really. Sex is an important, precious and integral part of a marriage and we teach couples that when a husband is being with his wife the way God calls him to and the way her heart needs, she’ll naturally respond positively; mirroring back the love she receives. As a result, the couple experiences an incredible, organic flow of giving and receiving between them that flows into every aspect of their marriage and makes it better…including the sex. This is what it looks like for Michael and me as we've moved forward in our restoration ~ rather than sex being the solution for keeping us together (which never works), it's become a part of the answer that draws us ever towards one another.


My Cherie Amour...

I had to get out of the house this morning. Like....immediately. You know those days. I'm sure you've had them. It wasn't because anyone was doing any one particular thing it's just that all of their 'particular things' were driving me crazy and I knew if I stayed I'd quickly become a terrible mother which would then be followed by me quickly becoming a terrible wife so I grabbed my computer and the car keys and drove myself to Starbucks and here I comfortably sit. Except that the music they're playing this morning are all old R&B songs which makes me feel like Jeff is sitting down right next to me so......shit.

There's a bright spot though....a small one but I'll take it. Since I'll be here for a couple of hours I asked the barista to put my latte in a ceramic cup and when I went to the bar to pick it up, he'd made a little heart in the foam. Sweet. Thank you Mr. barista; and thank you God for little love notes. He, the barista, was so happy to do it - gave him a chance to be creative - which I totally get - and he confessed how happy he got when people ordered their coffee in a real cup so that he could give their drink a bit of flair. This was followed by a brief conversation of appreciation of the real vs. imitation, specifically....a book you can hold with pages you can turn and library mustiness you can smell vs. reading on a kindle; putting oil in a pot and filling it popcorn and smelling the steam and shaking the pan over the burner and putting all that white fluffy stuff in a bowl and saturating it with real butter and salt vs. microwave popcorn. You get the idea.

I'm just feeling overwhelmed. So much to do and so much going on. Be still and know seems a vague instruction; something easily brushed aside in the presence of being pulled in so many different directions.

All this to say that I'm not feeling like anyone's "dear love" today...not yet anyway. Perhaps another latte?


Reaping and Sowing....

"Whatever you give a woman, she will make greater. If you give her sperm, she'll give you a baby. If you give her a house, she'll give you a home. If you give her groceries, she'll give you a meal. If you give her a smile, she'll give you her heart. She multiplies and enlarges what is given to her. So, if you give her any crap, be ready to receive a ton of shit."

While this is definitely comical, there's a ton of truth in it. Just ask any woman you know or, better yet, think of your wife and what she gives you as a result of what you give her. A woman will respond to what her husband initiates so guys, if you don't like the way your wife is being with you at a particular moment, stop and take stock of what you're initiating. If there's something coming up for her you can either bring healing to her heart or break it further.

Reaping and sowing indeed.



Today Michael was talking to a husband who is working through the restoration process with his wife and towards the end of the conversation, he told the man, "A woman is like a little bird. If you hold her too tight, you'll crush her. But if she feels safe with you she'll perch on your shoulder and sing a sweet song."

Isn't my man the greatest? Anyway, it reminded me of this little video I found a while back...enjoy!


A Matter of Lack...

(from Annalea) Michael and I were talking about Christian marriages over the weekend and there's something we've been noticing lately that's becoming really apparent when we talk to other couples and hear their stories. Not surprisingly enough, it's pretty much across the board in these marriages ~ it certainly was in ours ~ and is linked to lack...within the church. Namely:

no lack of the church expecting a wife to be Christlike toward her husband

and a complete lack in the church of expecting a husband to be Christlike toward his wife

Why is this? When did it become acceptable for the bride to pursue the groom? I certainly never heard the story where Cinderella searches out Prince Charming to see if the slipper fits. Doesn't make sense does it? It shouldn't; yet this is the underlying message that gets told over and over again. The result? A lack of husbands who are mature godly men because they don't have a church calling them into accountability when it comes to loving their wives as the Lord calls them to.

(from Michael) This seems to be fueled by an unspoken belief among Christian men that they can't love their wives as Christ loves us, so why even bother? And if a husband's trying isn't that good enough and shouldn't she be meeting him half way? These begin to become excuses for a husband not to obey God or to justify his disobedience. It's practically considered scandalous for someone to point to Eph 5:25 and suggest that a Christian husband actually behave like a Christian husband.

Hard to do? At times, yes. But Jesus doesn't ask us to do anything to make us suffer; that's a narrow-minded view of Christianity. Any suffering in our walk with Christ is only temporary and is part and parcel of the sanctification process that always leads to blessings and glory in Christ. Anyway, most of our suffering is either a consequence of the choices we make or a result of something in our lives that needs to be whittled away.

There should never be a lack in the church when it comes to Christian marriage. Just revisit all the verses in the bible pertaining to marriage, the emphasis is on a Christian husband and Christian wife being mutually submitted to God and to one another; there's no 50/50. There's simply an "all in" relationship between the two which leaves neither one of them lacking. Isn't that what Jesus gives to us? Remember, He wants us to be one with Him as He is with the Father and Christian marriage has always been designed by God to reflect His nature...which never lacks.