Thoughts on a Thursday

I shouldn’t be blogging right now, but if I don’t get some words out of me I’m going to explode. So much is happening. Inside me. All around me. There is just so much on my mind. I’ve been promising myself I would blog for weeks, but blogging is a luxury of time I haven’t been able to afford.

Yet, I gotta release the valve. Gotta let a few things out.

  1. Preparing for the 15th Anniversary Celebration for the ministry my husband and I started directing in 2004: New Brothers Fellowship. Memories flood my mind as I look through old newsletters and old pictures. So many people. So may prayer requests. So many answered prayers.
  2. I am baking cookies. A lot of cookies. I haven’t baked a lot of cookies in a long time, but it’s one of my very favorite things to do.
  3. Making curtains for my daughter’s kitchen. Just valances. And, really plain. I don’t do complicated. I only mention it, because I should have made them about a year ago. I hate that it took me so long to even get started. I love to sew, though I have little skill. I wish it was a regular part of my life.
  4. I don’t know why I have eczema now, but I am experiencing first hand the life my husband has lead his entire life. Our skin issues are a little different, but it’s all bad. I don’t feel sorry for us, though. We have skin, and I’m very thankful to have skin.
  5. I see many of Hannah’s peers falling away from Christ and it makes me very angry. I am not mad at them. I am mad at Satan. He laid traps. He crept in under the cover of darkness. He has truly been a wolf, stealing the Master’s sheep. And, I’m not going to stand for it. I’m taking names and I’m praying. The parable of the Prodigal Son is there for a reason. They may all have to sleep with the pigs, before they realize what they have forsaken, but so be it. They will not die there.
  6. The truth is that in MANY CASES it was Christians that hurt these children, now adults. It makes me so mad. Satan is such a liar, thief, and destroyer. We have to face him with utter fearlessness, folks. We need to take back what he has stolen. I’m not saying these backslidden children are without fault. They made a freewill choice to sin. Yet, when a child has not been given truth and taught how to walk in Christ, they are going to have a hard time facing a temptation that promises to comfort their immediate and acute emotional pain and mental distress. If they do not know God, if they do not have spiritual support, what else will they do? I’m not speaking of anyone in particular here, but too many parents have permissively allowed Satan into their homes. They have not set a guard. Too many wives waiting on their husbands to do it, because too many women have not been taught how to be women of God (just a hint: it means more than not denying him physical intimacy). I know people look at Hannah and say, “Well, it’s easy for you to talk.” My kid is amazing, but if you think I wasn’t on guard like a hawk every step of the way, you’re wrong. If you don’t think Satan was at every corner, laying traps and luring her to death, you’re wrong. I never took her innocence or purity or faith for granted. Not for a second. I knew the Devil too well to think she was safe. In fact, it was in the darkest days of our marriage that the Holy Spirit told me to take my eyes off myself and see that the Enemy was really after Hannah. It was all about destroying her. That is true for every child out there, mom and dad. It’s not about you; it’s about them.
  7. I am thinking of posting sermons here that I think some of you might like. I have done it in the past, and have meant to do it regularly, but writing the outlines takes a lot of time. I may just post the message and write the outline later. I know most sermons I share no one listens to except Doug, but it will also be good for me. I will be able to quickly find those messages that have impacted me. The same goes for prophecy updates. I am very picky about which ones I will watch, because there’s a lot out there that’s just stupid and self-serving.
  8. The impeachment stuff is clogging our news, but I urge you to pay attention to the Middle East. It’s what happens there that best indicates where we are on God’s timeline.
  9. As for the impeachment stuff. I don’t think it will go far. It’s so baseless. So stupid. In fact, every American should hope and pray it doesn’t go anywhere, because there is no evidence of an impeachable offense. I am praying that Democrats in the House start to find the courage to speak out against it. It’s a shameful thing to rob anyone of their right to a defense, and their right to be innocent until proven guilty.
  10. Keep looking up, folks. The Rapture really could take place any time. Every prophecy that needs to be fulfilled before the Rapture has been fulfilled.
  11. I am so concerned for Americans who are left behind. They have no idea how severe the judgment of God is going to be on this nation. I don’t mean the Tribulation; I just mean God’s judgment for how we have murdered and abused children. I know this next statement may cause some to think I’m a real freak, but I also doubt anyone will read this, so here it goes: Trump, despite his many past and current sins, has done more to stop the flood of sin against children in our country than any President in U.S. history. I believe his presidency has held back the judgment of God.
  12. I believe our nation has been blessed for Trump’s support of Israel (not that it protects us from judgment). I also think he might be the President who does not send military aid to Israel during the Ezekiel 38-39 war. That has to be the case though, because no one but God can receive the credit for the victory Israel will experience.
  13. I need to go back to work.
  14. Don’t be afraid to obey the Lord, whatever He may be asking of you, calling you to do. Don’t be afraid. If it isn’t His will, He’ll stop you. Just prayerfully and humbly take that first step, then the second.
  15. These are interesting days. I don’t know what God is doing, but something is going on.

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. ❤

Starting the New Year

If working hard means getting a good start to the new year, then I think Doug and I have a lot to look forward to in 2019.

We took a working vacation over Christmas and the New Year, which meant we worked at home only, no outside appointments. We stayed up late, and slept as long as possible.

We also hosted an Open House for ministry volunteers, which was a lot of fun.

Doug did throw his back out after Christmas, but I knew it was coming. The week before he had been doing a lot of lifting and moving, and I kept hearing him say, “There’s something funny going on with my back.” I also caught a head cold, but if it stays in my head, it won’t be too bad.

It’s going to be interesting this year, because we are rolling into 2019 with so much already in place. Normally, we spend January seeking the Lord for His course of action, His plan for the ministry. Well, He set the course for us before 2018 ended; we just have to keep doing what we were doing. So, we have a running start. I like it!

You know, I was thinking about the highlights of 2018 the other day. Isaac, our grandson, was definitely a highlight. How God moved in my heart was a highlight. Doug and I arrived at a new place of goodness in our marriage this past year, and that was a highlight.* It was almost like we remembered we were friends. Maybe, working together frustrates friendship. I think it might. And, HopeMail has been a very big highlight, too. I love how that is coming along.

However, my greatest highlight of 2018 is something I wanted to do all year long. I actually did work on it throughout the year, but it wasn’t until just before Christmas that all the pieces fell into place. It may not seem like a big deal, and you will wonder why it took so long, but I managed to finally finish our spare room, making it a place where the grandbabies can hangout and Doug can play his piano.

And, when those two things come together, well, my heart is pretty full.

I am very thankful the Lord did not despair of me in 2018. His kindness overwhelms me. He does love us like a Father, and we know that because He doesn’t love us any less when we’re ornery. It’s almost like He loves us louder, to make sure that in our blindness we don’t lose our way.

* I would feel dishonest if I did not add that I’ve been repeatedly cranky with him the past couple weeks, which is disappointing for me. I’ve had to apologize a lot. I want to blame my thyroid, but I think it’s more likely just ugly sin.

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

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.

 

Indulge Her!

Indulge is a good word with a bad reputation.

Indulge
verb,
in·dulge \in-ˈdəlj\
1: to allow (yourself) to have or do something as a special pleasure
2: to allow (someone) to have or do something even though it may not be proper, healthy, appropriate, etc.
3: to patiently allow (someone) to do or say something
Source: Merriam-Webster’s Learner’s Dictionary

It’s that second definition that causes trouble. We don’t indulge in what is ungodly—there’s no good in that.  However, there’s no harm in “patiently allowing someone to say or do something”, or allowing yourself or someone else “to have or do something as a special pleasure.”

Let me give you a little example.

I lovelovelove the flowers that come up in the yard every Spring—from the little violets to the daffodils to the random crocus and iris. They are little surprises. And, this year, because we had almost no snow, there were many, many surprises!

When it came time to mow the lawn (the Saxophone Player has decided to undertake this himself this year, kudos to him), guess what he did? He indulged his crazy wife’s passion for wildflowers. He mowed right around those mystery plants that had popped up in the middle of the yard, just because I thought they might be flowers. Well, yesterday, one of them bloomed!

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It didn’t cost Doug any money or much effort to indulge my curiosity, but it did bring me great joy to see those flowers today. I just kept thinking about how sweet my husband was to do that for me, and it got me thinking of other ways he has indulged my whims. I felt so grateful for him.

Gentlemen, I challenge you: indulge her!

Think about something she’s talked about that you didn’t really pay much attention to at first. Maybe, she’s talked about going on a picnic, or she’s concerned about your health and wants you to see a doctor, or she’s always wanted a blue front door. Maybe, she really wants a flowerbed outside her kitchen window (me, last year), or needs a few minutes to finish her blog post, before starting supper (me, right now). Why not indulge her a little?

Afterall, fellas, don’t you indulge in her? You indulge in her beauty, in her womanhood, in her devotion, in her forgiveness, in her mercy, in her prayers, in her faithfulness, in her patience—and, on and on!

Look at the example God gives us. King Ahasuerus’ wife, Queen Esther, came to him with an unusal series of requests. What was his response? Pure indulgence!
“What is your petition, Queen Esther? What do you wish? Whatever it is, I will give it to you, even if it is half of my kingdom!” (Esther 7:1, TLB)

Her husband had no idea what she would ask of him, but he had determined to indulge her, whatever she asked. He indulged her persistence, he indulged her inquiries, he indulged her invitations, and finally he indulged her deepest concerns and convictions.

The beauty of this story, though, is that his indulging her was ultimately for his own good. He came out the winner.

Even from this distance, I can hear the naysayers. I can hear the men who are talking to their screen right now, saying, “Oh, yeah? Well, what about Eve? Adam indulged her request, and look what happened there!” Remember what I said up top: we do not indulge what is ungodly. Adam knew not to take of that fruit.

Let’s get back to Ahasuerus and Esther. Read the Book of Esther for yourself, if you think I’m wrong. There are other biblical examples I could share, but I really think Esther and her king are the ultimate proof of my theory: indulging your wife makes a better life!

So, take my challenge. Indulge her!
  • Indulge her whimsy.
  • Indulge her imagination.
  • Indulge her curiousity.
  • Indulge her concerns.
  • Indulge her talents.
  • Indulge her passions.
  • Indulge her preferences.

At least, a little.  It doesn’t have to cost you much, but it will pay off big dividends for you in the end. Trust me. You’ll be glad you did. Make it a habit, and you can make history, too.