I lost more than a marriage

tin can phone

[Guest Post by Kathy Moore – I have been walking alongside my friend through her separation, and then divorce. It has been especially hard to watch as the gossip train has started, and doesn’t seem to stop. If you are a “Christian” who knows others who have been destroyed by gossip, please forward this to them. If you are one of them — be encouraged by my friend Kathy’s story today.]

I am divorced.  

Out of obedience to the Lord, I have been silent to share my story — until now. Due to continuing gossip, I have felt the Lord’s prompting to speak truth.

Matthew 5:13-14 reminds me as a Jesus follower I am to be salt and light to the world.  Salt, as we all know, flavors, and light reveals. In addition to being a flavoring, salt is a healing agent, though at first it stings like no one’s business.

And light? While we are thankful for all the wonderful gifts it brings into our lives. Sometimes, when we look straight into it — we are blinded. I realize that there is a cost in being salt and light.

I have had my own healing happen through the stinging, cleansing agents of salt. I have looked into the light and been found wanting.  

I have yielded to both the stinging and the blinding, and I have come out stronger for it. I have come out a stronger follower of Jesus, a more compassionate friend, an empathetic leader, and a mom who is able to instill healthy boundaries into her children.

It was not without pain, tears or anger at God. 
God has brought me full circle. 

He took an anger so deep that it turned logic into chaos. He lovingly comforted me as I came to the cross, a 41 year old broken, humbled, beaten woman full of repentance and asking for forgiveness. He has restored my heart, even in my deep brokenness.

It is time to speak up and confront the abuse — spiritual and otherwise — that continues in my life and the lives of my children.

January 2011, my life unraveled. 

I had known for many years that things were not right. I worked and worked to make things right. But. Nothing stuck. Healing did not occur. My husband and I had separated 3 times in 15 years together.

The final time, I sought assistance from church leaders. I realize now they were not equipped for such a large task. I knew that my church did not support divorce, and I didn’t want one — but I knew I could not keep living in a terrible situation.

I was angry.
I was hurting.
I was out of options. 

The problems had started years and years before. I never really had the guts to bring the situation into the light. My husband and I did not fight well. As a matter of fact, the fights often turned abusive. Chocking, hitting, name calling, and being thrown down occurred more than once.

I admit, sometimes I fought back. The last time we fought, my diamond left a cut above his eye. But years of verbal, physical and emotional abuse left their mark on me. All I wanted was out. And so I began swallowing over-the-counter migraine medicine. That one act created a firestorm that led to my eventual divorce. Unfortunately, the firestorm really didn’t hit the true cause of my misery — abuse. It only added to the abuse by adding a layer of spiritual abuse.

When I filed for legal separation, I lost more than a marriage, I lost a church family and the support of those I had counted on.  

I was left a shadow of what I had once been.

What I have failed to mention is all the gossip that has occurred since my separation, and then divorce. Though I filed for separation, I was not the one to check the divorce box. I never wanted divorce. I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt what was happening inside the four walls was not healthy for me or my kids and it wasn’t getting any better.

I have been called a run-away wife. 
I have been told that he found better women. 
I have been told I am a terrible mother.
It has been said that I’ve slept around.

And who said all these things? Christians. The very ones who turned their backs and didn’t wait around for the real story.

I am tired. 
I am righteously angry. 
And now, my children have gotten caught in the insipid chatter.

Ladies and gentleman, abuse is never ok. Abuse is a symptom of a much deeper issue. 

I tried everything imaginable to stop the abuse. I stayed for 15 years. I loved my husband. I wanted a better future.  I drove those who really loved and cared about me nuts, because I could not leave my marriage. And yet, the marriage and abuse were killing me, slowly.

It is a rare day when I don’t pray for my children’s father.
It is a rare day that goes by when I don’t grieve over my broken marriage.
It is a rare day that goes by when I am not confronted with the damage of divorce. 

On the other hand, rarely am I not thankful for who I have become. I wish I had had this strength when I was married, I believe maybe there could have been a different ending.

I like who I am.
I like who God created me to be.
I like the woman who relies fully on Jesus — for everything. 

God has shown up and continues to show up — financially, emotionally, and with gifts I couldn’t have asked for.

And yet, the gossip continues. People. I am divorced. I left an ugly situation hoping and praying for a different outcome, which still hasn’t come. However, God has come into my life and scooped out the anger and given me a heart of forgiveness towards my children’s dad; a forgiveness I’ve extended verbally to him.

Before the Lord, I am clean.

I have kept silent about the true nature of my marriage, because I wanted to protect not only my kids, but their dad as well.

I prayed that understanding would come. I have begged and pleaded with the Lord for someone to stand up for me — and yet here I am, with full peace knowing I must stand up now and speak truth.

Truth shines light on wrongdoings. 
Truth exposes sin. 
Truth is love. 

Love isn’t just sappy and happy. Sometimes love hurts. But, what is the outcome? Peace. True, God-given peace. I have walked a very lonely road. Often times the road has left me in the dark, by myself for long periods of time.

I’m thankful for it.
I’m thankful that I know Jesus intimately.
I’m thankful that it’s purely Jesus, me and my kids going down this road.

I continue to pray for the kid’s dad. I pray true, salt and light repentance occurs.   continue to speak truth into my kid’s lives. I continue to love them and have fun with them and all the while encourage a deeper relationship with Jesus. For those that think they are helping by speaking “truth” into my kid’s lives about me or my church or my life — stop it. If you really want to help, confront the sin that is standing right in front of you masquerading as “right” living.

For the rest of you who have so faithfully stood by my side through tears and really, really tough junk. Thank you. I pray one day I can do the same for you.

Kathy MooreI am Kathy Moore, a daughter of Jesus and mom to three. Writing is my passion and encouraging others towards a deeper, more authentic relationship with Jesus is my goal. I’m funny, serious, a bit weird at times, but overall a fun person to hang out with. I’ve been through a lot–just like the rest of humanity and try to use my “a lot” to help others. Connect with me at delivered2thrive.com.

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Our Need For Intimacy

need for intimacy

[Guest Post by Priscilla Cash – When I got an email from a military wife, I had to say yes. Not just because I support our military, but because I know many military wives and moms who can relate. I hope you are encouraged by her vulnerability and courage to share about intimacy.]

It was not just that I was a woman. It was not just that I had seen too many TV shows or read too many novels.

Deep within, I knew I needed intimacy. It is a profound need. We crave it, we seek it, but it often alludes us. And so, as a teenager, I waited, feeling like there was a deep, vacant hole in my soul.

I have journal entries from those days before I was married, chronicling the loneliness. It brought me closer to Jesus. My relationship with God grew as I looked to Him to fill the void. Even so, I knew that God had something more for me.

A man came into my life and I was swept up into a beautiful and tender romance. I had never imagined anyone being so happy. The love and intimate friendship we shared was unlike anything I had ever known before. We were married late in 2010.

For two and a half years, our relationship grew. Sometimes we argued and hurt each other, but forgiveness and love continued to abound. God blessed us. Then in 2012, my husband, a soldier in the Pennsylvania National Guard, was called up to deploy to Afghanistan. We bravely set about making plans. I slowly transitioned into doing everything at home, while he was away frequently for training. We spent the moments we had together as wisely as we could and prepared for the unknown.

In late summer, my husband left for Texas for four months of pre-deployment training. In January he boarded a plane and left for Afghanistan. His residence became a little combat outpost with weak Internet and poor living conditions. My residence was our small apartment, with his empty shoes left by the door.

Intimacy became a long-distant memory and I struggled to maintain a connection to a man surviving in a world dramatically different from my own.

Intimacy eroded over the months that followed.

By the time my husband came home, nine months later, I had changed. As strange as this may sound, I had grieved when he left and it changed me. I became closed, hard, and tenaciously independent. As much as I tried to understand that my husband had done what he needed to do, I still felt like a dear and intimate friendship had been ripped from me. Now I was lost and unsure where even to begin to put the pieces back together

As our marriage began to struggle, I found myself pushing my husband away. I realized that something needed to change, but I could not force myself to engage, try as I might. It only resulted in me feeling angry, bitter, and broken.

So I began to pray, desperately. My husband began to pray. We talked and talked and talked. And as I came to God, broken, having only enough courage to utter the word, “help,” God began to work. But not in the way that I had expected.

I wanted God to fix me and our marriage, to miraculously zap things back to the way they used to be.

Instead, He drew me to Himself.

I found my deep need for intimacy being nurtured and healed by God’s hand. Whenever anger and bitterness rose their ugly heads, I felt God’s gentle calling, “Priscilla, come back to me. I’m here.”

I still have a long way to go, but seeing God’s hand in my life, touching me deeply where I have needed it the most, has been a life-changing experience for me. No one wants to go through hard times. No one knows exactly how they’ll handle those times when they do arise. But God is always there, touching and healing in intimate ways.

I fear we try to “fix” things much more often than we’re meant too. When we’re supposed to be leaning on God, we’re running around trying to force things to happen and make our lives perfect looking, while deep within, our spirit smothers.

I’ve found that God addresses our need for intimacy by drawing us to Himself first.

Only then, when we’re nestled close to Him, are we free to begin to engage fully in other relationships. If you’re going through something similar, I’d ask you, dear sister, to kneel where you are and hold up closed fists to God. Slowly let your fingers open and give your burdens, one at a time, into His hands. He’s gentle with the sorrowful and the weak and the worn out.

He loves you.
Rich intimacy awaits.

Priscilla CashPriscilla Cash is married to an Army National Guard Soldier, a veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom. She spends much of her time caring for their precious toddler son, keeping their home running and trying to better her skills as a wife, mother, friend, and follower of Christ. When she’s not engaged in the above, you’ll find her reading, freelance writing, crocheting, and bookmaking. You can find her on her blog at priscillacash.blogspot.com.

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Don't Throw Yourself Away

throw yourself away

[Guest Post by Wendy Griffith – I really resonate with her story and not throwing your life away. If you find yourself struggling with your worth in Christ today, be encouraged! You are not alone.]

My heart was crushed—but somehow I was still breathing.

It had been just a week since my breakup with a man whom I had once believed was the love of my life when Dr. Pat Robertson, founder and chairman of the Christian Broadcasting Network, called me into his office.

Like a concerned father, Pat gently commanded, “Wendy, come in here. Tell me what happened.” The compassion in his voice caused the tears that were already close to the surface to come flooding down my cheeks. I reached for the box of tissues on his desk and told him everything. Robertson, a man who has sat down with presidents and kings, a man who once ran for president of the United States and who formed a global media empire, wanted to hear about my heartbreak. I was deeply moved.

After I had finished talking, Pat gave me some heartfelt advice.

“Wendy, you are special. You are beautiful, and you are talented. Don’t throw yourself away!”

At the time I wasn’t quite sure what Pat meant by, “Don’t throw yourself away,” but apparently God wanted me to remember it, because Pat said it over and over during our short time together. “Don’t throw yourself away!” Later I figured it out. He meant, “Don’t settle. Don’t throw yourself away on a guy who is not worthy of you, because you are worth so much more than you realize.”

The kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it (Matthew 13: 45-46).

Ladies, the Lord wants you to know that you are a pearl of great price, a treasure worth pursuing and protecting. You are worth fighting for and, like the pearl in the parable, worth everything it might cost a guy to obtain you. You are worth someone sacrificing his time, his routine, his comfort, his money, his whatever in order to have you. You are worth it!

One of the most inspiring love stories in the Bible is the story of Jacob and Rachel. In fact, it may be one of the greatest love stories of all time.

Jacob had been sent by his father Isaac to find a wife from a relative’s family. He traveled a long distance to his mother’s family, and when he met Rachel at a well, for him it was love at first sight. Jacob single-handedly moved the great stone cover off the well, perhaps trying to impress Rachel:

“When Jacob saw Rachel, daughter of his uncle Laban, and Laban’s sheep, he went over and rolled the stone away from the mouth of the well and watered his uncle’s sheep. Then Jacob kissed Rachel and began to weep aloud” (Gen. 29:10-11, NIV).

Interestingly, it wasn’t Rachel who cried but Jacob. He seemed to know with certainty that Rachel would be his bride. Rachel ran to her father and told him about the young traveler. Rachel’s father, Laban, ran out to meet Jacob, and then he hugged him and kissed him and invited him to his home.

Jacob stayed with Laban’s family and within a month fell deeply in love with Rachel. He was determined to marry her. But before he would allow Jacob to do so, Rachel’s father convinced Jacob to work for him for seven years. Jacob agreed. Jacob was so in love with Rachel that the Bible says the time flew by: “They seemed like only a few days to him because of his love for her” (Gen. 29:20, NIV). Wow, talk about romantic! I’d like to see a modern romantic comedy come even close to depicting this kind of love and sacrifice.

Jesus Is the Ultimate Example

There are many examples of men who “paid the price” for their brides, but the apostle Paul says that the greatest example of sacrificial love is Jesus: “In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him” (1 John 4:9).

What kind of love sacrifices its very life so that we might live? The love of Jesus does—and the Bible calls men to love their wives with that same kind of love:

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself (Eph. 5:25-28, emphasis added).

You are a prize to be won, and so am I! You are worth fighting for. You are not only worthy of love, but you are worthy of “I love you” period.

You are a royal daughter of the Most High King, a princess in the palace, a pearl of great price and beautiful beyond measure.

Wendy GriffithWendy Griffith is an anchor and senior reporter for the Christian Broadcasting Network and cohost of CBN’s flagship show, The 700 Club, with CBN founder Dr. Pat Robertson. She also co-anchors two other shows for CBN: Christian World News and CBN Newswatch. Wendy is the coauthor, with Craig von Buseck, of Praying the News. More information can be found on YouAreAPrize.com.

(Adapted from You Are a Prize to Be Won!, by Wendy Griffith. Copyright (2014), Gospel Light/Regal Books, Ventura, CA 93003. Used by permission.)

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When it's Easier to Declare Defeat

declare defeat

[Guest Post by Mara Rose – I am so encouraged by her story because someday if my husband and I decide to have kids I will have to go off my medications, and that will not be easy. I love what she says that God still performs medical miracles. Believe it! Be encouraged today my friends.]

Sometimes it’s easier to declare defeat prior to trying, rather than to try and fail later.

There are so many things that we can worry about in life. And our worries can be amplified when we decide to have children. This past summer, my husband and I decided that we felt ready to start a family. Unfortunately, my ability to carry a child was still questionable.

My issue with doubt and self-defeat stems from 15 years of chronic pain and a questionable reproductive disease known as Endometriosis. I’ve spent years on medications to try and help me function “normally”.

I have often thought that my body should come with an instruction manual. Thankfully my Maker knows the number of hairs on my head, He knows my fears, He knows my desires, He knit me together in the womb, He knows it all.

Yet, I still had doubt.

What would happen to my body if I went off medications? What would happen to my pain if I got pregnant? Not only that, but statistics say women with Endometriosis can take up to 1 year to get pregnant and some aren’t able to conceive at all.

The answers were uncertain — which is when we took a leap of faith and gave it a try.

My first thought after reading the positive pregnancy test was, “Holy cow! This is a miracle.” My second thought was, “I need to talk to my doctor”.

Joking aside, it is incredible to know that despite my doubts and fears — God blesses us anyway!

In the first several weeks of this pregnancy, I was gripped with anxiety and uncertainty. I felt better after speaking with my doctor about how to treat my pain while pregnant, but I still had fear.

One day I was overcome with emotions (and hormones). My husband lovingly took my hand and said, “You aren’t the first person to have chronic pain and be pregnant. Trust God to take care of it.”

Even with the blessing of this miracle baby growing inside me, I was focused on trying to control my pain instead of giving it over to the Lord.

Our baby isn’t here yet but I am already learning so many things about myself through this pregnancy. Everything has improved since my first trimester. There are still challenging pain and energy days, but I’m learning to cope with it. Most importantly, I have to say that my faith in the Lord has grown immensely. He showed me that His Plan and His Power is far greater than any statistic or prognosis.

No matter what your doctor has told you, medical miracles still happen every day! Believe it.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:4-7, NIV).

Mara_RoseMara Rose is an up-and-coming author and Christian writer. She has endured years of chronic pain and strives to be a light for Jesus even on the darkest days. She lives in Wisconsin with her husband, Jonathan, who serves in the military and is an OIF Veteran. You can read more from Mara on her blog,wordsbymara.com, or on Twitter @MsMaraRose.

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Playing The Jesus Card

the-Jesus-card

[Guest Post by Jenifer Jernigan – Like all authors meet, we met through social media. I love her vulnerability, her voice, and the desperation behind her story. I am honored for Jenifer to share her story, and if you, like her, have felt like taking your life–you are not alone! I know her story is long but please read the whole thing. You will be blessed!]

The summer months found me serving as a youth intern in a local church, teaching, ministering, and loving on kids who became an important part of my life.

The fall semester ushered in months of studying through the Psalms in my Old Testament class and Paul’s Prison Epistles in New Testament class.

I was happy.
My heart was full.
I was in a good place.

But the heat of the summer months melted away to nothing, and the coolness of the crisp fall air blew through so very quickly. And there I was, in the dead of winter, broken, yet again, into a million pieces, heart cold and calloused, experiencing a death all its own.

We sat there, my friend and I, on the sidewalk outside the cof­fee shop, he numb from the icy-cold air, me numb from my shat­tered world. Coffee-shop music played in the background. Bells jingled each time the heavy glass door opened. People hurried in from the cold to warm their bodies with yummy deliciousness. They laughed and shrilled with glee. Some shared secrets and made grand plans. Others came to enjoy time alone away from the busyness of their lives.

It was almost like an out-of-body experience, if such a thing exists. I saw them all, the many who walked past. And I heard the music, the bell jingles, the laughter, and even the ahhs as the warmth of the patrons’ treats made its way into their bellies. Yet, at the exact same time, I saw absolutely nothing and heard not a whisper. I was lost in an ocean of broken dreams; a sea of emptiness enveloped me. And years of innocence lost, wrongs done, and wounds inflicted welled up inside me.

The minutes passed by and turned into hours, how many exactly, I have no idea. My friend was the first one to speak.

“Ya know,” he said, “God has a plan and reason for everything.”

Immediately I felt a fire burn deep within. Slowly I turned my head, looked straight into his eyes, and loudly whispered my rage. “Do not play the Jesus card with me! Do you understand me? Do not tell me everything has a purpose and a plan. Are you f#*&^*$ kidding me?”

I stood to my feet, pacing back and forth, heart beating hard and loud, like a thousand bass drums. “Don’t say that to me!” I screamed. “Don’t!”

People stopped dead in their tracks to gawk at my public display of brokenness and pain.

“I can’t do this!” I went on. “Do you know how bad this hurts? I can’t breathe. I can’t think. I can’t feel. Except . . . I feel everything. And my mind races. It wasn’t supposed to be this way. It wasn’t sup­posed to end like this. It wasn’t supposed to end at all!”

A madwoman walking is what I was. I mumbled. I screamed obscenities. I cried; no, I wailed in pain. I lashed out at my friend in unimaginable ways. He sat there, silent.

As I paced with fists clenched, the tears poured from my eyes. The pain, the ache, the emptiness inevitably forced me to my knees. My friend came to my side, trying to ease the burden, to lighten the load of pain that weighed me down because years of hurts and heartaches and things that should never happen to anyone had just broken me.

“Don’t touch me!” I shouted. “Don’t touch me! Please don’t touch me!” I cried uncontrollably, hugging my waist, my head lying against the gravel parking lot.

But my friend didn’t listen. He lifted me up from my puddle of pain so I could see into his eyes.

“I will play the Jesus card,” he said, “because it’s the winning card. And the pain you feel right now will one day subside. And you’ll be able to stand, victorious over this emptiness you feel.”

That was 1998. The pain I felt that cold winter night, the ache that left my heart empty, didn’t vanish in a few short days; it took years. Years of God working and me surrendering. Years of God healing and me accepting His healing and realizing there was pur­pose for my pain.

But I need you to know something; those years found me bro­ken many more times by the weight of pains.

They also found me searching to be accepted. Searching to be loved. Searching to be heard. Searching for the real me. And my search led me from one unhealthy relationship to the next, from one bottle of alcohol to another, and from one shopping spree to the next door-buster sale. During those years I married and had my first child, but I still searched for more. My searching and pain dead-ended in a court­room, with me uttering a word I never thought I’d utter: “Guilty.”

I then found myself in an extremely dark place for two years.

On a daily basis I contemplated taking my life; I’d attempted it years before, but this time I knew I wouldn’t fail. I emotionally dis­connected from my daughter and husband; I felt nothing for them. I was out all hours of the night, driving dark roads, sitting in empty parking lots, hiding from the world because I was so very ashamed of what I’d become.

Driven face to the ground once again, like Paul, I had my own Damascus road experience. And once again my heart screamed out as tears poured from my eyes, God, I’m a mess. I’m a complete and utter failure. I’m stupid. I’m used up. I’m alone. I hate myself. And believe me when I tell You, You want nothing to do with me! I’m sure there are others far less complicated than me. Others who are better suited and much more deserving than me to be Your child.

My insides were jacked up. I’d been deeply wounded by others and myself. And my wounds were bleeding and festering and stunk to high heaven. I had absolutely nothing to offer God. There were no credentials to my name. No great accolades or endorsements to cause heads to turn my way. I was just a confused, shame-filled, broken-down girl.

But God had purpose for my pain.

The day God chose me and turned my insides upside down and right side out, the day He turned my unlikeliness into something extraordinary in His book, I was a hot mess. But today I stand changed from the inside out only because the Word of God has rocked me to the core, healing the wounds that left me empty and lonely. I stand brave, not fearful. I stand whole, not broken. For those of you who are hurting today, weighed down by an oversized load of pain, heartache, hurt, and complete emptiness, may I lay the Jesus card on the table and say to you, “God has a plan and reason for all your pain”?

It’s okay if you can’t see His plan and purpose right now through your pain; and it’s okay if you scream obscenities at me.

And while the perception may be that you’re “the perfect Jesus girl,” the reality may be that you’re standing in a very different, very wounded place this very moment. People may not see that, but Jesus does. It’s okay. You don’t have to be who others think you should be. It’s okay for you to feel your pain. But what’s not okay is for you to stay buried by it, broken down in a puddle of hurt and heartache.

The time will come, and for each of us it’s different, when you’ll have to look your friend Jesus in the face, choose to allow Him to lift you above the pain, and embrace the healing He offers. The day will come when you’ll have to lay it all at His feet and allow Him to carry the load of your heartache. Until that day comes, even if you’re only able to know this in your head, know that God is actively working, there is purpose for your pain, and one day, you’ll stand on the other side of it, sharing your grace story for His honor and glory.

Jenifer JerniganJenifer is a Bible teacher whose passion is to equip women to d.i.v.e. deeper into God’s Word, teaching them to study Scriptures for themselves. Her book, Dive Deeper, is a part of Thomas Nelson’s new InScribed Studies Collection. Visit with Jenifer at jeniferjernigan.com.

*Excerpt taken from Jenifer Jernigan’s new book, Dive Deeper: Finding Deep Faith Beyond Shallow Religion. (Thomas Nelson, March 2014. Used with permission.)

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Why Not Pursue Him?

why-not-pursue-him

[Guest Post by Paula Hendricks – I met her many years ago at the True Woman Conference in Chicago, IL. We were roommies and it was fun to meet her when I published my first book, and now years later it’s my turn to return the favor. Please welcome my friend Paula!]

Ever been tempted to force your fairy tale? Yea, me, too.

On those days when I’m tempted to act like a beggar or an orphan (instead of an adopted daughter of the King of Kings!), here are four truths I often come back to. I pray they spare you the frustration and heartache I’ve experienced along the way.

1. You are already loved completely and unconditionally. 

You no longer have to fight for attention or find your worth in a boyfriend. Listen to how deeply—and how long—the King has loved you:

“I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness” (Jer. 31:3).

2. You don’t know what is best for you, but God does.

Have you ever set your sights on a guy only to realize later he’s totally wrong for you? I’ve done that more times than I care to count. That’s because:

“Desire without knowledge is not good, and whoever makes haste with his feet misses his way” (Prov. 19:2).

God, unlike us, knows everything. Including the hearts of all guys (1 Kings 8:39b). You can trust Him to lead and protect you, His daughter, even when you don’t realize you need protecting.

3. You’re not actually waiting on a guy to pursue you—you’re waiting on God.

Whenever you’re frustrated over how long it’s taking a guy to notice you, remember that God is in control of everything:

“The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord; he directs it wherever he pleases” (Prov. 21:1).

If the Lord can move the heart of the most powerful man in the land, He can turn any guy’s heart. Wait for His perfect timing.

4. God has nothing but good in store for those who wait on Him. 

You can rest easy. Psalm 25:3 says:

“None who wait for you shall be put to shame.”

That’s a fact you can count on from Your God who makes promises and keeps them. Of course, that doesn’t mean we’ll always get what we want when we want it. God tells us that in this world we will have trouble. But ultimately, in the end, He will work everything together for the good of those who love Him (Rom. 8:28).

Having said this, I feel like I should add the following disclaimer . . .

Trusting God with your love life doesn’t mean everything will work out beautifully, or that you’ll get what you want. God isn’t a formula. God is a Person—one who’s more interested in securing our forever happiness than our temporary happiness. Hard to believe, but as our Creator, He knows better than we do what will truly make us happy. And ultimately, the ache we’re looking to fill will never be satisfied by anyone or anything other than Him.

And with that said—why not pursue Him?

Paula HendricksPaula Hendricks lives in southwest Michigan where she no longer tries to catch guys’ attention by swallowing live goldfish, arm wrestling, and jumping down flights of stairs. Instead, she blogs for teen girls and women by day and journals her adventures by night. She’s worked at Revive Our Hearts for nearly nine years (whew!), where she currently serves as Writing and Editorial Manager. Catch more of her writing at PaulaWrites.com.

 

confessions of a boy crazy girl*Adapted from Confessions of a Boy-Crazy Girl: On Her Journey from Neediness to Freedom.

To win a copy of Paula’s book please leave a comment, and the winner will be chosen at random on March 6.

[Photo: Robby Mueller via photopin cc]

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Marriage Is My Idol

marriage is my idol

[Guest Post by Jessica Dickson – I just love her heart and how she speaks truth over her singleness. When I read this I couldn’t help but want to post it immediately. If you struggle with viewing marriage as an idol — be encouraged!]

I have a confession — Marriage is my idol.

Was my idol.

The worst part? It took me forever to realize it. I thought if I wasn’t perfect, nobody would want me. Few knew, but I hated myself. I thought I needed someone to love me and tell me I was okay. My mind set up a prison that I guarded. It was inconceivable that anyone could love me. God did restructuring in my heart in 2009 that set me up to receive love.

Through a series of events, He showed me my need for change. I was 24, living with fists clenched tightly. Things would go wrong without me in control. My pride whispered and shouted — so I took the weight of the world on my shoulders.

Everything went wrong.

I was in graduate school. Things at work got crazy. There were cancer diagnoses, sickness, and death. Life swirled, and I spiraled.

Cried.
Panicked.
Cried more.
Was anxious.

When I contemplated taking my life, it was time to make a change.

I packed my pride and went to counseling. Through laughter and tears, I was broken there. God broke my Superwoman complex, speaking truth in love through my counselor.

What I believed about God and others changed also.

I left with confidence in myself that came from understanding who God said I am — unchanging because of God’s unchanging love and grace. Now I never have to doubt my beauty or that I am wonderfully made.

Fast forward to last year. I was praying in church and God said: marriage is my idol. It won’t save you because I already did that.

As tears streamed down my face, I was confused. Hearing the joys and struggles from married friends, with counseling, had broken my expectations that it would fix me, I thought.

These thoughts came subtler.

Though I believed the good things that God said about me, I also believed something else. Another lie — that a man would validate (prove the accuracy of) my worth. But who could prove the accuracy of what God says?

God is truth; His word is true.

Recently, I’ve learned the beauty of having my value as a woman affirmed (upheld as true or supported).

Do you know the difference?

Your value is God-given. No father, mother, sister, brother, boyfriend, friend, or anyone can give you worth — but only help you discover God’s truth.

Now I make healthier choices — letting go of a man I had feelings for when he wasn’t into me. Deciding that a “friend” with no loyalty no longer deserved to speak into my life. Standing in what I know to be true, contrary to circumstances.

This process is not without tears.

Saying goodbye to people whose actions and voices contradict the words God sings over me in His goodness is not for the weak. It’s for those made strong by His strength.

It’s why Jesus didn’t give in when tempted in the wilderness. He knew what was true because He knew the source of His identity — The Lord. Jesus had nothing to prove when challenged to save Himself from temptations.

And neither do we.
Nothing.
Ever.

Not that we’re smart or beautiful or light or heavy enough, love-able, or anything. You and I are uniquely made in the image of God.

Handcrafted with deep beauty.
Graven on the palms of God.
Dearly loved.
Strong in our weaknesses.
Here for a purpose.

You reflect God’s glory here. If the people and things in your life don’t scream your value to the world, they don’t need prominence if they don’t agree with God.

You can love them. Pray for them. Point them to Jesus. But don’t look to them for your worth or believe their words or deeds that attempt to devalue you.

Now I walk in love, victory, and peace because I know God, who was, is, and will always be. My worth will not be more priceless, nor life more precious.

If I get a husband tomorrow, I will be no more valuable than I am right now.

God will remove idols from our hearts, but when He gives us the opportunity to destroy them, we should. Your idol might not be marriage or the white knight; but, whatever is can be put in its proper place by a true picture of who God is and what He says about you.

No person or circumstance can steal your identity in Him.

Jessica DicksonJessica works in Student Affairs at a small college in Daytona Beach. Her background is in counseling, and her heart is for people to live emotionally, spiritually, and physically healthy lives. She loves cooking and eating delicious food, BodyCombat, being off Facebook indefinitely, prayer, and reading. You can find her on Twitter @jessicaddickson.

[Photo: Thomas Leuthard via photopin cc]

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I never wanted a bruised heart

bruised heart

[Guest Post by Laura – I appreciate how brave Laura is! This is the second time she has shared her story of rape on DevotionalDiva.com, and I love seeing how far she has come and how her story continues to encourage others. If you struggle with a bruised, broken, or shattered heart — be encouraged today!]

Bruised. I bruise easily.

Bruises seem to appear randomly on my knees or shins, and I can’t remember bumping into anything. To make matters worse, I can be a little klutzy. On the bright side, I’ve never broken a bone. But I’m fairly sure that a broken bone hurts exponentially more than a bruise. And just like bones and knees, our hearts can end up broken and bruised throughout our lives.

Perhaps it was naiveté, but I always thought that meeting someone, falling in love and getting married wouldn’t leave me bruised.

Why?

Maybe it was the relationship books that I read in high school and college, the ones that made it seem like if you followed God, everything would end up fairly wonderful, and the process would lack confusion and chaos. It didn’t take too long after college for me to realize that those books weren’t accurate.

But I still wanted it to be my story – a relationship without a bruised heart, no klutzy steps, no confusing words or actions. It would be my fairy tale.

Part of that fairy tale disappeared one night in South Africa when I was raped during a home invasion.

And a piece of my heart broke then as well. Suddenly the fairy tale seemed incredibly distant. Who would want to be in a relationship with me? Who would want to marry me? Eventually I reached a point where I could look in the mirror and tell myself that someone would, that I wasn’t too broken.

I still wanted the rest of my fairy tale to be perfect, however. So I was careful with my heart. Balancing hope and risk with reality and guardedness.

Not easy.

But I think I managed fairly well. It helped that I was living overseas, that there weren’t any guys interested in me.

And then there was a message.
Followed by a flurry of messages and flirting.
A few phone calls.
Then fewer messages.
No phone calls.
Followed by confusion and impatience.

Throughout the entire time there was lots of prayer. I was honest and brave. And while my heart wasn’t broken, it definitely came out bruised.

Once I admitted to myself and to God that I was bruised, that I wasn’t as strong as I thought I was, I felt relief. Relief in knowing that it was okay to be bruised, that it was okay to be hurt, that it was okay to not have a fairy tale ending. And now I focus on being open again, on not putting up walls, on trusting God’s plan.

I never wanted a bruised heart. I wanted the fairy tale. And I’m sure that many women would say the same thing.

But this bruise to my heart, which faded and eventually vanished, taught me a lot. About how sometimes the bruises in my life are more about the lessons learned and less about the bruise. About how I am partly responsible for how deep the bruise becomes and how long it lasts. About how important patience and waiting are when there is the potential for a relationship. About how I still struggle with high expectations. About how God doesn’t always answers my prayers the way I want Him to.

About how trusting God is far more important than seeking my own desires.

Question: What have your bruises taught you about God or about yourself?

LauraGod has given Laura a heart for teen and young adult girls, as well as a love for drinking coffee and living overseas, and she loves when all three of these come together. She currently lives in Ireland and writes regularly about life, ministry and healing on her blog http://chattingaboutlife.wordpress.com.

[Photot: CarbonNYC via photopin cc]

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A Happy You Comes Before a Happy Wife

happy wife

[Guest Post by Arlene Pellicane – I just love the question she asks because so many women ask it before getting married. Now that I AM married, I can honestly say she speaks the truth! Don’t be afraid to wrestling with this question yourself, and be encouraged today!]

Have you ever met someone who thought her happiness was dependent on getting married?

I remember being in my twenties, dateless, without a speck of hope when it came to romance.  But I always believed that a happy me preceded a happy wife.

In other words, if I couldn’t be happy alone, I couldn’t be happy with someone either.  I love the story John Maxwell shares in his book Make Today Count. He and his wife Margaret had been married for a few years. He was speaking at a pastor’s conference and she was presenting a session for the spouses. He writes:

During the Q and A time, a woman stood up and asked, “Does John make you happy?”  I have to say, I was really looking forward to hearing Margaret’s answer. I’m an attentive husband, and I love Margaret dearly. What kind of praise would she lavish on me?

“Does John make me happy?” she considered. “No, he doesn’t.” I looked to see where the closest exit was. “The first two or three years we were married,” she continued, “I thought it was John’s job to make me happy. But he didn’t. He wasn’t mean to me or anything. He’s a good husband. But nobody can make another person happy. That was my job.”

A happy you has to exist before there can be a happy wife.

Happiness begins with a choice you make. When you wake up in the morning, you don’t only decide what you are going to eat for breakfast. You decide whether you’re going to be irritable or even keeled, cheerful or melancholy.  An attitude isn’t thrust upon you. You have the great honor of choosing how you will respond on any given day – whether married or not.

Happiness in marriage can be found in some counter-intuitive places. Through serving your spouse instead of waiting for him to serve you. Through seeking God instead of seeking your own good. Through make wise choices instead of waiting for great circumstances.

It’s not up to your husband, your address, or your circumstances to make you happy.

You are the one who ultimately makes the decision to choose joy. When you place your hope in your marriage to make you happy, you will be disappointed. But when you put your hope in God, you will find enough joy in Him to last you a lifetime.

As you look around, you see a lot of people singing the blues about marriage. Becoming a happy wife seems impossible on many days. Yet this desperation is where hope can really shine.

Is it really possible to have joy on a regular basis in your marriage?
Can you really be happy in your current situation?

If you are married to a decent man who is not abusive, I am here to tell you that happiness can indeed start with you.  But you must begin by placing your hope in God.

Question:  Who are you counting on to bring you joy? What unrealistic expectations might you have for what your husband will do for you? 

*Today’s blog is an excerpt from 31 Days to Becoming a Happy Wife (Harvest House, 2014).

Arlene Pellicane 600x600jpgArlene Pellicane is a speaker and author of 31 Days to Becoming a Happy Wife.  You can visit her website at www.ArlenePellicane.com Arlene lives in San Diego with her husband James and three children.

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Your Pain has a Purpose

Your Pain has a Purpose

[Guest Post by Kate Motaung – We both write for iBelieve.com and it’s always nice to share a fellow writer’s story, especially when they write about one of my favorite Bible verses–Romans 8:28. Be encouraged my friends!]

I have a limited threshold for listening to the news.

My stomach churns and I swallow hard as I hear story after story of brokenness. Like shards of glass pieced together, the resulting mosaic has very few smooth edges.

Shards of large scale calamities.
Tsunamis swallowing entire villages.
Hurricanes ripping through hearts and homes.
Government corruption.
Human trafficking.
Missile attacks.
Economic instability.
School shootings.

All stemming from the same source — a bite of fruit in a perfect garden. I turn off the radio with a heavy sigh, unable to take any more.

But the shards of hardship are not just ‘out there,’ in the news. The jagged effects of the fall cut into everyday life.

Divorce.
Miscarriage.
Cancer.
Rebellious children.
Unemployment.

The list goes on, and begs the question: “Isn’t there any good left in the world?”

Cue Romans 8.

The red velvet curtain opens and another character appears on the stage, right in the midst of the chaotic scene called life. The trials and tribulations do not subside, but the wordless script of this newly revealed Person in the background transforms everything.

His very presence causes new elements to arise:

Hope.
Purpose.
Glory.

The suffering is no longer senseless; your pain has a purpose now.

This has been a hard truth for me to wrap my mind around — one that I may never fully understand. It’s a truth that has caused many to reject God altogether, claiming it’s just too hard to accept.

How could the mass destruction afforded by a typhoon be good? How could the brutal murders of innocent school children be good?

Of course they weren’t. 
They were horrendous. 
Devastating. 
Heart-breaking.

The Bible doesn’t say they were good.

But it does say that ‘in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose’ (Romans 8:28).

It took me years to connect each note in this beautiful song of hope. First, I had to realize that it does not say that all things are good. It says that God works all things for good.

There’s a big difference.

Secondly, He does not work all things for the good of all people, but rather ‘of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.’

Thirdly, I had to accept that He does not just work some things for the good of those who love him, but all things. The delightful things and the gut-wrenching things.

What a comfort and blessing to be wrapped in the sovereign blanket plan of the Lord, with each experience carefully knit for our good!

But one question remains: What exactly does this passage mean by ‘good’?

Some may think of blessings like health, success, prosperity, or happiness. Those are good things, to be sure. But they’re not the ‘good’ that is spoken of here.

Verse 29 reveals, “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son ….”

Conformed to the likeness of his Son.

Is it possible that in all things God is working for His children to become more like Christ?

I think so.

But what about that miscarriage? That car crash? That terminal illness?

I once spoke to a family whose little girl died in her mother’s arms on the mission field just weeks before I met them.  My heart was weighted down with their burden for days after our conversation.

Yet in spite of their acute loss, the words spoken by the girl’s father were infused with hope.

He shared openly of the intense pain they have endured, and how the gnawing ache continues to be ever-present. Yet he confessed that he loves Jesus even more as a result. His desire for heaven has increased manifoldly. He has grown exponentially in his understanding of the depth of God’s love and the agony that our Heavenly Father sustained as He sacrificed His only Son.

Has God used tragedy in your life to conform you to the likeness of His Son?

Life hurts.
The news hurts.

But as I hear story after story of pain and tragedy, I ask God to help me trust that He is indeed working all things for the good of those who love him, conforming each one of us to the likeness of His Son.

Question: How is God using your current circumstances to conform you to His likeness?

Kate MotaungKate Motaung grew up on the shores of Lake Michigan before spending ten years in Cape Town, South Africa. She spends her days relying on the Lord’s grace to support her South African husband in his ministry and homeschool their three children. Kate writes for iBelieve and Ungrind, and has contributed to (In)Courage, Start Marriage Right, Thriving Family, Radiant Magazine, MOPS, and Young Disciple Magazine.  She blogs at Heading Home and can be found on Twitter @k8motaung.

Photo: klearchos, Creative Commons]

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