My Filthy Rags

I had three major confrontations with the Lord in 2001. They began at the women’s Bible study (testimony here) and continued through the summer, when I finally dipped into a pile of articles Doug had given me to read.

Those articles would eventually be life changing, but I didn’t want anything to do with them at first. Oh, I was very happy for him, because he’d finally found a ministry that actually addressed his spiritual need. It was the first time we’d heard anyone use the term sexual addiction, and these men* had testimonies to back up their articles. He felt so much hope, and I was hopeful, too. Maybe, this was the answer we’d been waiting for, and all my suffering would finally be over. 

You see, while I recognized there was a spiritual war going on, I didn’t realize Doug and I each had battles to fight. I thought this war was his war, because it was his fault. If he would just do the right thing, we’d win the war and live happily ever after. Wasn’t I doing my part?  Keep the home fires burning, Caroline! Despite the fact God had been dealing with me all year long, calling me to yield to His will for my life, I just didn’t understand that there was something for me to do. I was sure our problems started with him, and would only end when he stopped living a chronic cycle of Sin-Repent-Repeat. In the meanwhile, I would be the good Christian wife I thought I was and endure this suffering. Isn’t that what longsuffering means?

Wives, God doesn’t call us to endure our husband’s sin. If we’re just holding our own, trying to get better at enduring, we’re wasting our time. That’s as far away from being a help meet as we can get. Yet, I know that’s what most wives think they’re supposed to do: don’t quit on him. Without meaning to, they become his enabler.  

You see there is a difference between godly endurance and human endurance, and too often we confuse them. Godly endurance stands out, because it bears spiritual fruit in both you and him. It doesn’t enable him to stay unchanged and in sin, but instead reminds him that his race isn’t over. We don’t ignore his fall and fail to hold him to account, but urge him to get up (repent) and keep going.  

I’m not sure when I gave in and picked-up an article, but I do remember the words took me by surprise. Like a tsunami. The first article was called, “Why People Remain in Sin and Bondage,” by David Kyle Foster. I remember thinking that maybe this article would help me understand Doug better, but instead it helped me understand myself better. It was an incredible experience. Yes, it was life changing.  I very clearly recall sitting in bed and sensing the presence of Christ beside me. I could see myself next to Him, my head down, looking at the pure white drapes of His robe. It was then I finally saw my filthy rags. I wept, I repented. My eyes were opened. For so long I had seen myself somehow ahead of Doug on this course, but suddenly I realized we were in the same place. I had no advantage over him, because I didn’t struggle with his brand of sin. I was not further ahead, because I had grown-up in Sunday school classes. We were equally wretched sinners, both in need of a Savior. 

Looking back now, I realize that God was preparing me for what was soon to come. If our family was going to survive the onslaught Satan had prepared for us, I was going to have to rise up out of my selfish version of Christianity and become a woman God could actually use. I was going to have to put my flesh in its place, just as much as Doug would—though in very different ways. I was now in the war.

*David Kyle Foster (Pure Passion) and Steve Gallagher (Pure Life Miniseries)

In The Beginning

About 20 years ago, Doug and I were in the battle of our lives. We didn’t know it, but we were at a turning point. How we came through this was going to redefine the rest of our lives. And, though we were battling for the same cause, we were fighting on different fronts. He had his fight, and I had mine.

Of course, I did not understand any of this at the time. From my perspective then, this war was essentially his fault, and his deliverance was going to bring an end to the conflict. That was the focus of my prayer life: that God would deliver him.

However, God had a call on my life that I wasn’t answering. It was the call to be my husband’s help meet. Though I had grown-up in church, I was never taught the true, biblical meaning of the word. I never heard a pastor preach on it, and my premarital counseling never even mentioned it. No one ever told me it was God’s call on every wife’s life. No one ever told me the spiritual responsibility I had, or the spiritual authority God had given me. I wish I’d been equipped from the beginning with all I learned that year, and the years since, because I think it would have made all the difference.

That’s why I blog about it now. I am desperate to see Christian men fulfill the call of God on their lives, but they cannot do it alone. 

“And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.” Genesis 2:18, KJV

God recognized man’s need, and made woman. However, there is a job to be done here. It is not just a title; a position of honor. It is a calling. 

And, it’s a calling I am still learning to answer. I have an excellent Teacher, but I am a poor student. So, I am learning as I type. I am determined to keep typing, though. I believe there is at least one woman who will read this, receive it, and it will make all the difference for her, her husband, her marriage, her family, and the Kingdom of God. I believe that with all my heart. It is a call that may not be easy, ladies—especially, if your husband is not walking with the Lord. However, it is a ministry unto the Lord. Your obedience to this call has eternal consequences—and, eternal rewards! 

So, yes, I will be writing more on the subject and filing these posts in the “Help Meet” category so they can be easily found.

God bless you tonight. ❤

Counting to 30

We started the weekend trying to define the years of our life. We wanted to pick a highlight or hallmark from each year. Some years it was easy to do, others were sort of a blur. A few years, we just didn’t want to remember.

We also found that it was hard to pick a word to describe some years, because we were often having very different experiences—even though our individual experiences had everything to do with what was happening in the other person’s life.

Ultimately, looking back gave us a lot of perspective. It was informative. Interesting. I think it was a good exercise. Like Doug wrote on Facebook: “You know that God has been in your marriage when you can share with one another the best and the worst of thirty years. and yet be more in love than ever.”

Anyway, we did make a list of sorts, but in the end I don’t know if it’s worth sharing.  Our life has been complicated and wonderful, challenging and beautiful, but all that really matters here is Jesus. His hand has been there through it all, and looking back I see it so clearly, how He walked with us and led us and kept us. In the end, our marriage is something we leave to our children and grandchildren to evaluate, and I hope they see us as flawed as we are and see Him as perfect as He is, knowing that He is why we are still we. ❤

Happy 30th, Saxophone Player. God was so kind to give me you. I know there won’t be marriage in Heaven, but I know we’ll always be best friends. I love you, Doug. XO

When Mercy Seasons Justice

This monologue came to mind the other day.  I cannot get it out of my mind, so I decided to share it. The words are so beautiful.

In case you aren’t familiar with the scene, Portia has disguised herself as a lawyer, in order to advocate for her husband. She is speaking to Shylock, who is demanding a pound of flesh to repay his debt.

Of course, plays are meant to be heard, especially Shakespeare. I think Laura Carmichael does a lovely job.

Such good words to remember.

The quality of mercy is not strained

The quality of mercy is not strained.
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest:
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.
‘Tis mightiest in the mightiest; it becomes
The thronèd monarch better than his crown.
His scepter shows the force of temporal power,
The attribute to awe and majesty
Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings;
But mercy is above this sceptered sway.
It is enthronèd in the hearts of kings;
It is an attribute to God Himself;
And earthly power doth then show likest God’s
When mercy seasons justice. Therefore, Jew,
Though justice be thy plea, consider this:
That in the course of justice none of us
Should see salvation. We do pray for mercy,
And that same prayer doth teach us all to render
The deeds of mercy. I have spoke thus much
To mitigate the justice of thy plea,
Which, if thou follow, this strict court of Venice
Must needs give sentence ‘gainst the merchant there.

— Portia, in William ShakespeareThe Merchant of Venice, Act 4, Scene 1.

 

Six Months

In the winter of Hannah’s 5th grade year, a fellow PTA mom invited me to join a Bible study she attended. I agreed to join her. Our church did not have a women’s Bible study, and I knew my spiritual life was in rough shape. Plus, I felt ashamed to reject her invitation. The Bible study was only once a week, but it was one of the hardest commitments I ever made.

You see, each time I walked into that church, I felt as if I was walking through the hallway naked—heart, mind, and soul exposed. I cannot think of another time in my life I have ever felt so uncomfortable. You would think I’d have recognized this as the Holy Spirit’s conviction, an evidence of my sinful heart, but I was deeply deceived. I had fully given myself over to vain and selfish pursuits.


It started very sincerely. I had such good motives. We were living in a small town on the New England seacoast, and I loved it there. My little family had a very nice life. There were no private, Christian schools close by, so we enrolled Hannah in the public schools and I became a frequent volunteer.  As a stay-at-home mom, I had the time to give, so I gave many hours to the PTA. I worked hard and that dedication eventually made a place for me in the PTA Mom’s clique. That led to my being asked to become Co-President, and I was delighted. 

I rather enjoyed being a big fish in a little pond, and the little bit of power and influence I yielded felt like a well-deserved reward. I said it was all about the children—especially my own—but I was deceiving myself. The truth was, I was an embittered wife and the PTA was a way I could make things all about me.

While I worked so hard to improve the school for everyone else’s children, my own daughter was neglected. How many nights did I leave her and Doug at home, because I had an important meeting to attend? How many vacation days did Doug spend on PTA work days? I hate to think how much money and how many hours I spent. There was just enough “success” from one month to the next to keep me thinking it was all worth it.


Then, something happened. Something very unexpected.

It was in April of Hannah’s 5th-grade year. I was sitting in a circle with the other ladies in that Bible study, Bibles and folders on our lap, when the leader asked a question that hadn’t been in our study notes. She asked us to just say the first thing that came to mind, without analyzing the question or our answer.

Now, before I share her question, I want to ask you to do the same. Don’t think; don’t analyze. Just say the first thing that comes to mind.

Her question was:

“What would you do, if you knew for sure that Jesus Christ was coming (the Rapture of the church) in six months?”


Even today, seventeen-and-a-half years later, thinking about that moment makes me emotional. I remember it so clearly. This was my answer: 

“I would support my husband’s ministry.”

What? 

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing myself say. Didn’t I already support him? Hadn’t I encouraged him in everything he did for the Lord? It’s not as tough he was called to full-time ministry. How much support did he need?

I hate to say this, but I just didn’t get it. I prayed a prayer of some description before the Bible study finished, committing myself to at least meditating on what this meant, but my prayer was a lot of blah, blah, blah. I went home and went back to work, with the PTA still my priority.  In fact, our biggest events of the year were still coming up.

By June, the Bible study had ended for the summer, and Hannah would soon be promoted to the junior high. PTA elections were held, and I was asked to continue my work. The vote was unanimous, and I made sure there would be no more co- in my title. Why did we need two co-presidents, when I did all the work? Honestly, if I had asked to be called the Queen of the PTA, they would have probably agreed, because I had elevated the PTA. People kept telling me it had been the best year anyone could recall—the most events, the most funds raised, the most accomplishments. The Superintendent and School Board respected me. Teachers appreciated me. Principals feared me. Parents depended on me. 

And, then something happened. Something very unexpected.

I woke up on a lovely, warm and sunny day, and couldn’t speak. I could barely swallow. I went to bed perfectly well, there had been no signs of illness. Yet, I woke-up sicker than I could remember ever being. The doctor said it was an “extreme case” of strep throat. No one else in my circle had strep, or even knew someone with it. Nonetheless, there I was, sick as a dog. It was time for the final event of the year, an event I’d been planning for and looking forward to for over a year, the biggest production of the year, and something no one else had even done there: a Volunteer Appreciation Banquet. Everything was coming together beautifully. I’d made all of the thank you gifts. Food had been arranged. Beautiful invitations were designed by yours truly, and mailed in envelopes I’d addressed myself. The big event was just days away, but I was completely derailed.


I don’t know why*, but knew God had something to do with what was happening. For almost two weeks, I sat in bed silent. I couldn’t even whisper. I had to turn all the plans for my big event over to my co-president. She’d call with questions, and I’d write the answers down for Doug to tell her for me. I couldn’t believe what was happening. The grand finale of my year, and I wouldn’t even be able to attend. I wasn’t going to get my victory lap. 

But, during that silence, God finally got me to stop and listen. And, He spoke one simple thing to me.

“Come home.”


Despite my sinful heart, I did fear God. I knew not to disobey a direct order. The instruction was simple, but I knew what it meant.

Once my voice returned (almost the day after the banquet), I resigned from the PTA. I was actually very thankful to make my exit, and never missed it.

Homeschooling was also an very easy transition to make. We were committed to keeping Hannah connected to her school friends, and she seemed excited about the prospect of being an independent learner.

Supporting my husband’s ministry was the one thing I wasn’t sure how to do, but within a week’s time I would learn that the struggle he’d confessed after our tenth anniversary debacle had not been overcome. In fact, I began to see that Satan was aiming for his heart, trying to take away not just his victory, but his very life. My husband needed me, and I was going to begin learning how to pray for him and love him through the spiritual battle that was waiting right around the corner.

*Actually, I do know why, now that I have written this: it was the peace I felt about it all. I wasn’t angry or fretting. I was resigned in my heart. I knew I had brought this upon myself, because I had not been heeding the Holy Spirit all winter and spring, as He had tried to get me to see my sinfulness and selfishness. I was walking in rebellion, but His mercy stopped me in my tracks. Thank You, Jesus!

Being His Help Meet

“The heart of her husband safely trusts her; so he will have no lack of gain.” (Proverbs 31:11)

There is a lot that can be said of spiritual accountability. There are a lot of ways we find accountability within the Body of Christ: between pastor and congregant, between co-laborers, between fellow church members—to name but a few. There are formal accountability relationships, and there is that more casual accountability we expect from everyone within the Body. It’s a huge topic, with lots of room for discussion, debate, and disagreement.

However, I am limiting the focus here to one accountability relationship that exists for every married*, Christian couple: the spiritual accountability between a husband and wife. More to the point, the responsibility a wife has before God to hold her husband accountable to the Word of the Lord. We are not to be one another’s correctional officers, and we are not to be the Holy Spirit’s conviction (not that we could be), but we do have an accountability before God for the one whom the Lord says should safely trust in us.


IN THE BEGINNING

I think it is vitally important to the Body of Christ—to every Christian marriage—that wives walk in the vital role God has given them: being a help meet for their husband. In fact, I believe many broken marriages, as well as much of the spiritual compromise in the church today, can be traced back to wives who neglected this responsibility.

Pardon me, while I duck for cover.

I realize that on the surface my statements may sound harsh or unfair. It will probably sound especially cruel and unkind to the wife who is suffering under the burden of her husband’s habitual sinfulness. However, one should not presume I hold a wife responsible for her husband’s choice to sin against God. Never. Perish the thought! He is a freewill agent. However, too many women raise their hands in despair at the thought of their husband’s transgressions. They play the role of victim, instead of walking in the role Christ has given them. They lament his sin, but are unwilling to rise up like Abigail to stop them. And, honestly, I don’t blame the modern, Christian woman. Who has ever preached a sermon on Abigail, except Ernie Kajala? Who is talking to wives about being a help meet? It sounds like something straight out of the 17th century. Who believes in help meets anymore? Well, I do. It’s the first calling God gave to women, and He is still calling wives to be help meets today.

This subject is so much bigger than this blog post can handle, so I will only touch on one aspect of being a help meet: accountability.  I hope I will be able to share enough to exhort and encourage any Christian wife who may be reading this, looking for a way to help her struggling husband—or, just striving to be a more godly wife. God has entrusted wives with a very important role to play in their husband’s lives, but He has also given them tremendous power with which to do it.  I truly believe that any wife who will embrace the responsibility of being a help meet to her husband will see her life, husband, marriage, and family transformed for the glory of God. Truly, we ignore this aspect of being his help meet at our own peril. It may be his spiritual life, but it is our marriage. Our family. Our life. Do you want to lose it, or are you willing to do whatever it takes to save it?

IN HIS OWN WORDS

We have all seen the woman standing beside her husband at the podium, listening as he confesses to the world his transgressions. Often, these are political couples, but there have been far too many ministry couples in that very same position. Of such scandals in recent history, one ministry couple stands out to me, and the wife’s words are telling.

I am speaking of Ted and Gayle Haggard. In 2005, Time magazine called Ted Haggard one of the most influential evangelical Christians in the country, but a year later he would face the pain and shame of having his secret life brought into the light.

It wasn’t only his secret life on display, though. The eyes of the world were focused on her husband, but I was only paying attention to her. The wife. I watched her. I waited to see what she would do. While some pitied her, feeling indignant on her behalf, I asked, “Didn’t she know? How could she not? Why didn’t she do anything about it?”

In a televised interview** three years after the headlines broke the news of his hidden life to the world, Brother Ted shared that he had prayed repeatedly for God to do whatever it took to stop him from continuing down this road. He says he promised God: “Never again.”

In reading the article written about the interview, it is clear our Brother was in a hard battle. He came into marriage sexually broken by abuse from his childhood, but his efforts to seek spiritual counsel never addressed that brokenness.

Does the abuse from his childhood excuse his sinful choices? Absolutely not. Did the fact his attempts to seek help lead nowhere pardon his guilt? No. Brother Ted broke the laws of man and God. And, the consequence of his sinful choices brought a tremendous amount of trouble to his family and to the Christian church.

IN HER OWN WORDS

Ted Haggard’s story isn’t an original. We’ve heard it over, and over, and over. Unfortunately, his wife’s story is familiar, too.

In the same interview, and in a subsequent interview*** conducted after her book, Why I Stayed, was published, Gayle Haggard said she had known of her husband’s struggle since early in their marriage, but “assumed” it was under control.

When Ted confesses his guilt to her, after the news broke, she said, “I can’t think of anything that would have been a greater shock.”

Where was the accountability!?

I actually think Ted and Gayle would appreciate my using them as an example, because I believe they know there was a breakdown of accountability in their relationship. At least that is what is indicated in things I have read. I do not know them personally, but I believe Gayle when she describes herself as naive. I would say most wives are probably just as naive. She said he had told her about a non-contact, sexual encounter with another man, but she had not understood the gravity of what he was saying.

Honestly, my heart goes out to my Sister. She was a bride in the ’80’s. There was little to no ministry for anyone struggling with sexual brokenness in the 1980’s. Who could they have gone to for help? She says she prayed for her husband, and went on with life. This was after the birth of the third of their five children. She had a lot on her plate. Holding her husband accountable wasn’t something she even considered.

And, it should be noted, anyone living with a habitual sin is going to become a very good liar. The strength of their ability to deceive others is what allows their behavior to continue for so long.

IN MY OWN WORDS

Doug and I moved back to the East Coast just in time to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary in the city where we were married, Boston, Massachusetts. We couldn’t afford to stay at the same hotel we had stayed in for our honeymoon, but I found a very good substitute. I was so excited. A weekend away with the love of my life in the city of our dreams. It couldn’t get any better for me.

Yet, for Doug, it seemed things couldn’t be any worse. I kept feeling like I had to cheer him up, prod him on. He didn’t seem very happy. I didn’t understand. In truth, this was how he was normally, but I thought on our 10th anniversary, away in Boston, staying in this really cool place, that he’d be a little happier.

I wouldn’t find out that weekend, but soon after I learned the reason behind his bad mood, behind all of his bad moods, and the night he finally explained was a very long and painful one. It was the night my husband confessed he had been living in secret sin.

Like Gayle, I had known of his struggles. I knew very well. And, like Gayle, I “assumed” that since his last “confession” everything was fine. I didn’t know I had a responsibility to hold my husband spiritually accountable. I didn’t even understand what that meant.

Instead of seeing my part in his failure, I got mad. I cried. I yelled. I accused. I threatened. I did everything wrong. Especially, when dealing with someone in addiction and brokenness. I didn’t know better, that’s for sure. I had a few lessons to learn. Yet, the worst thing about it all was that I lacked the spiritual strength to stand against the Enemy’s assault. I was so compromised in my own walk that faith could not rise up. Friends, it is much easier to point a finger of blame, than it is to conduct a rescue mission when our husband has sailed off course. It takes real spiritual muscle to grab someone out of the grip of sin.

As I said earlier, we are not one another’s correctional officers, and we are not to be the Holy Spirit’s conviction, but we should be making a deep, spiritual investment in the lives of the one whom the Lord has brought us into the most intimate of relationships. That spiritual investment is vital, if we are going to be able to support them as a help meet. It is also the groundwork we must lay, before we can hold our husband’s accountable.

BIBLICAL ACCOUNTABILITY

Someone on Twitter shared a list of rules a girlfriend has written up for her boyfriend. It was a very strict list of things he could not do, she would not do, and he had to do. I read it and felt sorry for any man who would submit to that kind of woman. Everything on her list was born from fear—fear he would be unfaithful, fear she wasn’t good enough, fear of being mistreated, etc. It was really sad. I felt sorry for her, too.

Trying to hold our husbands accountable by controlling them is not biblical accountability. Controlling your husband’s behavior will not help him become a godly man, or bring him freedom from sin. It won’t bring the fearful wife peace of mind, either. She is counting on herself, not God. That’s a fatal mistake. If we are not willing to give God control, we are denying His sovereignty over our lives and our marriage. We are hindering our husband’s spiritual growth.  We are denying the fact that he has an independent relationship with God, and that God loves him much more than we do—He has much more invested in him, and is much more wanting him to walk in righteousness. The controlling behavior is born out out of fear, and where fear rules faith cannot. I tell wives they don’t have to trust their husbands, but they do have to trust God. For most of us, we just are not walking close enough to the Lord for the job He has given us as help meet. Wives want the fix to all be on his side. He’s the one with the problem. He’s the one who needs help who needs to change. Well, he’s the one you married, sweetheart. And, God custom made you to be his help meet.

Accountability is important in our house. We believe we need to hold one another accountable, and as Christians we hold each other accountable to the Word of God. The Bible is our standard. And, that’s challenging! After I learned of this secret life of sin Doug lived, the first thing God told me to do was to minister to him. Minister to him? But, God, I’m the victim. I’m the one hurting here. God saw things differently, and I had a choice: see it God’s way, or try to go it on my own.

Well, I knew I couldn’t go it on my own. And, I feared disobeying God. The Bible is very clear that we are to obey God, so there was no way I could ignore His directive.

I don’t like that my husband came into marriage with sexual brokenness, and I have failed 500,000 times at being a godly help meet to him. However, the times I have been able to serve him well have only brought a blessing to my life, my marriage, and my family. More importantly, though, he is a transformed man. He is not the man I celebrated ten years of marriage with, and he’s not even the man I married again after 26 years. Years and years ago, God gave me a vision of who the Saxophone Player was called to be, and I have seen that vision come to life. That has been God’s work in his life, and his yielding to the Potter’s hand, but I know I have played a small part in who he is today. I am so thankful for a God who takes the broken and makes them whole. It is a process that will likely take our entire life on earth, and still not be completed until Heaven, but we must remember this life on earth is fleeting. As long as it might be, it is only a blink of the eye compared to the eternity we have before us. We must also remember that God is using our husbands to perfect Himself in us. Not every wife will marry a man with the same challenges, but every wife is still called to help her husband meet God’s expectations for his life. He may be a dandy fellow with no secret sin, but is he serving God in his community? Is he leading his family as the priest of his home? Is he laying up treasures in Heaven, or only on earth? Or, is he so busy working for the Lord he is not caring well for his relationships with his children, or family? I don’t know your husband, I don’t know God’s call on his life, but you do. As his wife, the Lord has entrusted you with this responsibility. Embrace it. He will help you accomplish it. He will help you learn to surrender to Him and walk closer to Him and trust Him more than what you see with your own eyes.

LET’S REVIEW

  1. Christian wives are called to be their husband’s help meet.
  2. Part of being his help meet means holding him accountable to God’s Word.
  3. We must have a strong, intimate relationship with the Lord in order to do this.
  4. Faith must rule us, not fear.
  5. Seeing our husbands surrendered and submitted to the control of the Holy Spirit should be our objective, not trying to control them ourselves.
  6. God cares about our husbands more than we do, and has a much more vested interest in his victory over sin.
  7. It takes obedience to serve our husbands as their help meet. God will equip us and lead us in doing this, if we will obey Him

I pray God bless any wife who is reading this. God will lead you and help you as you seek to obey Him in being a help meet to your husband.


*There are some important relevant differences between married and unmarried Christian couples where spiritual accountability is concerned, but that is a subject for another post.

**On January 31, 2009, Ted and Gayle Haggard were interviewed by Oprah Winfrey. LINK

***In January 2010, Gayle Haggard was interviewed again by OprahWinfrey. LINK

10 Very Good Reasons to Shower Her with Flowers

The new Bride observed the beautiful flowers the Saxophone Player brought me at Christmastime. “Tell my husband to buy me flowers, too,” she said. I laughed to myself and thought, You’ve been married for two weeks. Give the guy a chance!

I know women aren’t all alike, but some of us need romance like we need rainy days in bed—and, if that evoked images of cozy sweaters, good books, and hot tea, you are clearly on that team. Those romantic gestures are more than a breath of fresh air for the likes of us—they are the breath of life!

So, for all the new husbands and old, who may think flowers are a luxury to be saved for birthdays and anniversaries, please consider the following list.

10 Very Good Reasons to Shower Her with Flowers 

  1. She needs romance.
    Like air. Seriously.
  2. Empty vases.
    There is nothing as sad as an empty vase, collecting dust.
  3. She wants bragging rights. 
    You know she’ll take a picture and post it. She likes to show you off.
  4. She’s still the one.
    Remind her.
  5. Remind yourself.
    Buying her flowers causes you to stop and think just about her.
  6. It’s a testimony.
    Showing her love shows others something about yourself.
  7. If you don’t, who will? 
    Think about it.
  8. She needs beauty.
    She strives for beauty in your home. Make it a little easier for her.
  9. They’re a great investment. 
    Every time she sees them, it’s like you just gave them to her again
  10. It’s Tuesday.
    Basically, any day of the week works, but Tuesday’s good.

 2018-02-25 06.09.15

This was originally published January 11, 2016.

A Magnifying Glass and a Mirror

I originally wrote this list for my daughter.

She was still single, and articles were always flying around about what kind of man to marry. I would read them and scratch my head. Something was missing.

So,  I started writing, and this is what came out. For everything I thought a husband should be, I realized there was a proper response for the woman. That made sense to me.

Personally, I appreciate reminders like this. We aren’t wrong to want better from our husbands, but let’s focus instead on giving him our best. Let’s put down the magnifying glass, and pick up a mirror. You will see, it is a very different picture.

 

Marriage Musts

1. He must listen to you.
           Be kind. 

2. He must keep growing.
           Be the sunshine of his life. 

3. He must have a grateful heart.
           Be considerate of his needs. 

4. He must care about your personal growth.
           Be willing to change.

 5. He must never give up.
           Be merciful, when he fails.

 6. He must make you laugh.
           Be charmed by his efforts.

7. He must be in love with God.
           Be sure God is your first love, too. 

8. He must be the priest of your home.
           Be his intercessor.

9. He must be affectionate.
           Be his comfort.

10. He must be generous.
           Be a good steward.

11. He must be a provider.
           Be content with what you have.

13. He must defend you.
           Be careful to choose your fights well.

14. He must hold himself to a biblical standard.
           Be “a woman who fears God.” (Proverbs 31)

15. He must have a servant’s heart.
          Be willing to serve alongside him.

16. He must communicate.
          Be a good listener.

17. He must make you feel beautiful.
          Be the woman who makes him feel like a man.

18. He must care about your interests.
          Be invested in his.

19. He must be respectful of your family.
          Be in love with his.

20. He must be kind and gentle.
          Be strong and supportive.

21. He must be transparent.
          Be slow to anger.

22. He must be your Brother in Christ.
          Be first his Sister, than his wife.

23. He must cherish you.
          Be respectful of him.

24. He must share the duties of homekeeping.
          Be a good manager of your home.

25. He must lay down his life for you.
          Be his best friend.

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Today’s Journal: 7/14/16

Outside my window it has been a classic, New England summer’s day. Not very fond of humidity, but it’s the price we pay for a long, winter’s nap.

I am thinking about spiritual growth and how God proves His love. (Hebrews 12:6-11) 

I am thankful for a visit with some of the Thursday night ladies.  It was really nice to sit together, again.

I am reading Biography of George Peabody by Phebe A. Hanaford, published in 1882. Want to more about the man who bequeathed a library to our town.

I am working on assorted projects. Nothing too exciting.

I am hoping to get a postage scale for free. Figured I’ll hope until I’m forced to buy one. You never know.

I am praying for children. Parents have the privilege of modeling the love relationship between Christ and the Body.  Or, they can provoke their children to wrath.

I am meditating on Ephesians 6:4.


P.S.

On very hot days, you gotta think SNOW! Here are some “chilling” pictures of winter’s past, to help you cool off! Click to enlarge.

 

What an Apology Isn’t

Bad things happen.

People make mistakes. Say the wrong thing. Do the wrong thing. React and act out. It just happens. No one is always perfectly behaved, and sometimes our actions hurt other people.

When our actions hurt others, and there is a breech in relationship, repairing that breech and restoring the relationship need to be a top priority. One of the first steps we should take is issuing an apology.

Simple enough, right? We go to the offended party, admit our wrong doing, acknowledge the hurt we have caused, and say we are sorry.

If we are Jesus people, and our offense was sinful, we must also repent to the Lord. That is an absolute must, as our sinfulness also created a breech between us and God.

Still sounds easy, yes?

Well, not always. Repentance is pretty easy, but apologizing right can be hard.

DO YOU KNOW SELFISH SAM?
Sometimes, we are in relationships with people like Selfish Sam. Selfish Sam isn’t a bad guy. At least, he says he wants to be good. Yet, he isn’t really ready or willing or able to either recognize his wrong doing, or acknowledge how his offense has hurt another person’s feelings. People like Selfish Sam seem to think they inhabit a bubble, where their selfish or thoughtless actions only touch themselves.

Or, maybe they think everyone else is made of stone,  with no feelings at all.

I recently witnessed an apology from someone a lot like Selfish Sam, and it spurred this post. His apology  sounded a little like this: “I’m sorry, but there’s only so much I can take of her staring out a window crying. How am I supposed to put up with that?”

Yeah, I was horrified, too.

He went on to to say, “I always apologize. And, I always have a reason why I’m angry, and why I do the things I do.”

Did I mention how self-righteous he was about having an excuse for his wicked behavior? It was painful to watch this display of selfishness and arrogance, without saying something I might regret.

My tongue has almost recovered.

SAYING SORRY
      “How else am I supposed to react, when he does that?”
      “I know I am wrong, but he’s wrong, too!”
“I’m sorry, but she just makes me so mad!”

      “I’m sorry, but it’s not my fault.”
“I can’t help myself.”

When I hear these kinds of apologies, I know I’m listening to someone who still doesn’t get it. They are still not taking responsibility for their own behavior, and until we can own that, we aren’t apologizing well. We are acting like immature babies.

This is what an apology isn’t:

  • An apology is never an excuse for wrongdoing.
  • An apology is never an opportunity to point out someone else’s faults.
  • An apology is never an accomplishment or a reason to boast.

It is going to take time for an immature person to understand that their actions aren’t all about them. Some folks lack empathy, and really cannot see how their behavior impacts others.

In those cases, if a person is really sorry, give them credit for that. It’s an important step.  They may not understand the depth of hurt they have caused someone else, but that’s our opportunity to help them grow into more mature and caring people (Proverbs 27:17).

Note to Remember: our goal should be restoration in any relationship that has suffered a breech. That is not always possible, or profitable, but when it is, it is a responsibility of both parties. Always be willing to do your part.

 A LITTLE EMPATHY GOES A LONG WAY
Sympathy is important. It shows we care that something bad has happened to someone; and it definitely has its place. However, not when we are the offender. The last thing offended an party wants is our pity. The last thing they need is for us to feel sorry for them. They want us to understand the seriousness of what we have done, and do something to show it won’t happen again.

The best way to do that is through empathy.

Empathy is identifying with another person’s feelings. It takes a measure of selflessness to do that, because we have to let our guard down. We have to be willing to suspend our preconceived notions and let go of our own perceptions. We have to be willing to accept that the other person’s point of view is 100% valid.

There may be some errors in their understanding of what happened, and they may be reacting in a bigger way than they should, but an apology is not the time to judge whether or not a person’s reaction is immature or if their point of view and how they feel is 100% fair or right. Explain yourself, correct the facts. In a relationship, there will be time to work those things out.

Saying we are sorry for what we did wrong is good, but understanding how the other person feels—as if the offense had happened to us, but instead of being us, we are them—is so important.  This is not easy to do, but it helps us take responsibility for what we have done, and works to not only preserve our relationship, but strengthens the bond we share with the person we have done wrong.

The mark of a good apology is one that convinces the wounded party that their feelings are more important than the feelings of the offender. A good apology acknowledges that the other person was hurt, taken for granted, misused, or ignored.

Let me give you an example…

A brother steals his little sister’s favorite doll and uses it to play astronaut. He straps the doll to a rocket and fires it up. The doll falls back to earth in the neighborhood pond. She is lost forever, and the sister believes her doll has suffered a terrible death, and that she has forever lost her best friend.

Being older and wiser, the brother knows dolls do not die. He also knows that his sister will have many best friends in life, and a doll cannot really be a best friend anyway. His temptation is to discount her emotional reaction, because he recognizes it is immature and incorrect. He apologizes for taking the doll without permission and losing the doll in the pond, but he doesn’t acknowledge that his selfishness and poor judgment have caused her tremendous heartache. He just sees her doll as something that be easily replaced. Why should she be so upset? 

This is a lack of empathy. When we are saying to ourselves, or others, that they shouldn’t be so upset, that it wasn’t that bad, or they’re overreacting, we are showing a lack of empathy. The brother doesn’t empathize with his sister’s feelings. He is judging her feelings as invalid, and therefore not putting her feelings first. From his point of view, it was just an inexpensive toy. He does not acknowledge the impact of his actions on her personally. Consequently, he has not gotten to know his sister better, he has not repaired the breech in their relationship, he has not helped restore trust, and has he not learned to be more sensitive to the feelings of others.

What has he learned? Not to launch his rockets near the pond.

ARE YOU THE OFFENDED, OR THE OFFENDER?
In such cases, where a nominal apology has been given, it will seem that all is back to normal. After all, the offender apologized, and the offended has forgiven.

Yet, under the surface there is still an unsettled feeling, and try though they might, the offended is finding it hard to trust the offender, again.  The breech was not repaired. The relationship has been left vulnerable. The next offense, no matter how minor, will bring more destructive. The breech will widen, and it will be harder and harder for that relationship to survive—especially as a healthy relationship.

This is why it is so important for us to learn to apologize in a meaningful and effective way, to be sure we have shown our sincere concern for the other’s feelings. We can only do that through an honest expression of empathy.

You may be reading this is and saying to yourself, “This is ridiculous! I don’t need someone to empathize with me, or understand my feelings. People need to get over it!”

That might work for you, but it might not work for the person you’ve hurt, offended, misused, or taken for granted.

Ask yourself this: do you end up losing more relationships than you keep? Do you find yourself often blaming others for failing you, or forcing you out of their life? I encourage you to allow the Holy Spirit to search your heart. It may be that you are putting your own feelings before the feelings of others, and never realized it. It may not be intentional, but a reaction to your own unresolved heartache and mistreatment. The Holy Spirit can heal that hurt, if we will trust Him with it.

On the other hand…are you reading this and thinking about a wrong apology you have received, or a wrong doing you have suffered? Are your trying to cope with hurt feelings that just don’t seem to heal? Does it seem that you are the only one who can recognize the breech in a relationship?  Do you feel resentment or anger or heartache over a long-awaited apology that still hasn’t arrived?

I want to urge you to go to consider Matthew 5:9, where the Lord calls us to be peacemakers. Partner that passage with Matthew 18:15-17, which instructs the one who is offended to go to the offender.  Your temptation may be to believe the person who owes you an apology also has the responsibility to come to you, but the Bible shows us it works both ways. If you are sitting on an offense, you have an obligation to tell the person. How can it be right to allow that breech to sit unattended, growing wider by the day? Is that being a peacemaker?

Whether it is an unacknowledged offense, or an apology that just didn’t hit the spot, so to speak, go to your brother or sister. Don’t hesitate! “Hey, I know you apologized, but I’m still struggling with this. My feelings were really hurt, and it doesn’t seem like you even care about me.” If they’re clueless, clue them in: “You probably don’t realize it, but when you did/said that, it really made me feel bad.” As I mentioned above, our goal should be restoration in any relationship that has suffered a breech—whether we are responsible for the breech, to not.

Folks, let’s not hold grudges, or give place in our heart to bitterness. Let’s give people a chance to do the right thing. And, let’s do it ourselves. Be quick to acknowledge hurt we have caused, and quick to show empathy and offer sincere apologies. This will absolutely require being willing to take down some walls, or at least open some doors, to share with the other our hurt, or to acknowledge our failure. In either case, it is ultimately pride that will hinder such intimacy.

Yet, such intimacy can bring abundant rewards. While some relationships will not survive an offense, I believe that if we repair these breeches with healthy apologies and forgiveness, a relationship can prosper in spite of even numerous offenses. Even in a very dark, a place that has perhaps been dormant for years, the light of truth can bring forth new life. And, I believe this because it is my testimony. It is my own story.

I hope and pray you will find something here that ministers to you.

God bless you all!

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