Three Things I’ve Learned in 24 Years of Marriage!

wedding-picture

Yes, as you read today’s Monday Morning Blog, December 19, 2016, hubby and I are celebrating our 24th wedding anniversary! Several of you have mentioned you enjoy learning a little about my life lessons in these Monday mornings blogs, so as I pondered what to share with you so close to Christmas, I thought what better words of wisdom than what God has taught me about loss, life, and love in our marriage. I hope you’ll keep reading, even if you’re not married, because the principles God has taught me can apply to any relationship.

Loss of Expectations

Our wedding, just six days before Christmas, was a second marriage for both of us. Dave had three children and I had one daughter. I was single for seventeen years and Dave only a few years. The kids ranged in age from fifteen to nineteen, so I didn’t anticipate any problems in everyone living happily ever after.

Well, if you’ve blended a family or been around one, you’re probably laughing hysterically about now. Blending didn’t come without its challenges, and we all brought baggage and different ways of doing things from our original families. I learned right away that I was going to have to lower, and in many cases lose, my expectations: we would never be a nuclear family. Christmas or holidays or special occasions would always be a compromise of negotiating between two families, which would only become more complicated as the kids married and added extended families with their own traditions.

I couldn’t control who would be with us on what day or at what time . . . or even at all. There has only been one time since all our grandchildren were born that all four children, their spouses, and the eleven grandchildren were together, and that was at Thanksgiving six years ago at our son’s house—it wasn’t even at our home. For Dave’s 70th birthday last year, I had a dream . . . still hadn’t let go of all those expectations . . . of the whole family celebrating together for a reunion at our home in Idaho, where some had yet to visit. But one family couldn’t join us.

Dave and I have learned to pray about each event, and then enjoy who comes and not worry over who doesn’t. That hasn’t been an easy lesson for me to learn, but it has been necessary to maintain sanity and family relations. It relieves stress, worry, and disappointment when I let go of my expectations and let God fulfill His.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

What Divorced Christians Want You To Know

Life Is Ever Evolving

When we were first married, Dave had a wonderful job with great benefits. I was so happy that I would have some relief from the pressures of supporting a family after seventeen years of being a single mom. So after three years, we decided when the last child left home, I could quit my job and go into full-time lay ministry starting the Woman to Woman Mentoring Ministry at Saddleback Church. If you’re not familiar with the term “lay ministry,” it means no pay. I was never on staff at Saddleback. Three months after I quit my job, Dave was laid off from his corporate career and that was the end of a corporate job with benefits and great income . . . forever!

Read more of that story at About His Work Ministries.

Dave eventually found various labor-intensive jobs, until the last one resulted in him having to have reconstructive foot surgery and medically retire, which is how we ended up moving to Idaho. I tell that story, along with his multiple layoffs, in Dear God, He’s Home!: A Woman’s Guide to Her Stay-At-Home Man.

Right before Dave’s second layoff, I had my first battle with Breast Cancer and started radiation two days before our 10th wedding anniversary. Little did we know then that I would go on to have breast cancer two more times, and 6 ft. 4 in. Dave would take a job that had him in a uniform crawling on his belly under houses and in attics. But through it all, God has kept me About His Work, and used us in a mighty way. Dave supports me as I write and speak for the Lord. Dave is my helpmate with his techie abilities, helping with the website, and for those of you who receive our newsletter, I write the articles but he puts it together.

Dave now travels with me when I speak, and the women really appreciate how we work as a team with him “manning” the book table. I used to pray that God would send me an assistant . . . I just never expected it to be Dave. Our personalities and gifts are polar opposite, but God has taught us, as life has evolved over these twenty-four years, how to combine our differences into a united effort working together for the Lord. What Satan tries to pull apart and use to separate us, we’ve learned to identify and let God make us stronger and better together.

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.” Ecclesiastes 3:1

Love Jesus First

pastor-pete-marrying-us

If you’ve read Praying for Your Prodigal Daughter or Dear God, He’s Home! I talk about a Marriage Builders course taught at the time by Pastor Pete McKenzie who married us [picture above]. On a whiteboard, Pastor Pete would draw a triangle with God at the pinnacle, a stick figure man in one lower triangle corner, and a stick figure woman in the opposite corner. Then he would draw an arrow across the bottom of the triangle explaining that when we have our eyes on each other, we’re the farthest apart. Next he would draw arrows up each side of the triangle, explaining that as we each move closer to God, we move closer together.

triangle-charm

On one of our early anniversaries, Dave had a charm made for me (picture above) symbolizing that triangle with the pearl of God at the top and our birthstones on each corner. Yes, my birthstone is a diamond! As long as Dave and I remember to keep Jesus first in our lives, everything runs smoothly in our marriage, no matter how our expectations are dashed, or how our life is evolving for good or bad. But if we take our eyes off Jesus, even for a moment, chaos can reign in our home.

All relationships have challenges, and so often those magnify at Christmas and holidays. I hope the three lessons I’ve learned in my marriage, will help you maintain peace, joy, and Jesus’s love no matter what your circumstances or challenges this year or in the New Year. They’re definitely not the only three lessons I’ve learned, but they’re definitely at the foundation of all the others.

“Grace to all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with an undying love.” Ephesians 6:24

Merry Holy and Blessed Christmas to all my dear friends and family.

wedding-on-boat

 

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What Does It Mean to “Love Your Neighbor” During an Election or Anytime

“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:36-40

While walking and praying this past week, the Lord put Matthew 22:36-40 on my heart and impressed on me to write a blog post tying it into the November 8, 2016 election. I wrestled with the thought and wondered if He really meant I should write it after the election, when some might be reading this post happy and others upset about the results. I’ve been vocal on social media, trying to encourage Christians to take a stand for the conservative Republican platform in the election and imploring everyone to look at platforms not personalities of the two candidates. One person said she tried not to take a particular side, but to follow “Love your neighbor.” There it was again. I’ve learned that when God really wants me to do something, He doesn’t let up until I get it.

I thought about how often this verse is taken out of context instead of the complete, “Love your neighbor, as yourself.” It’s sometimes used in chastisement or even as a rationalization for accepting sin.

What Does the Greatest Commandment Say About “Love”?

Matthew 22:36-40 says the first thing we’re to do is love the Lord our God with all our heart, mind, and soul—love His Word and His ways more than anything else in the world! Everything in us strives to please God first: honor the way He wants us living with a pure heart and mind as the Holy Spirit indwells our soul. God’s standards . . . His Word and His Ways . . . govern every decision and choice we make, every thought we allow in our mind . . . yes, every vote.

Then the second commandment is like it . . . we do the same thing with our neighbor . . . but we don’t just love our neighbor, we love our neighbor as ourselves . . . the same self that loves God with all our mind, heart, and soul. We don’t love our neighbor by the world’s words and ways, but by God’s Word, His Ways, and the Holy Spirit.

Thus the cultural rub. When Christians apply the world’s definition of “love your neighbor” . . . tolerate your neighbor’s sin, just love on them or you’re judging them . . . we aren’t loving our neighbor as ourselves or according to God’s Word, His Ways, and the Holy Spirit. Consequently, many Christians “love their neighbors” straight into hell, without ever telling them about heaven. Not loving or caring about them enough to go to the hard places of talking about good and evil, sin, repentance, forgiveness, and eternal life with Jesus.

The most loving thing any Christian can do is tell someone about Jesus and share the Gospel.

Love them enough to tell about eternity in heaven and the reality of hell.

Meet them where they’re at, but don’t leave them there.

Aren’t you glad someone stepped out of his or her comfort zone to tell you about Jesus and help you make changes in your life and ask Jesus for forgiveness? I am. Otherwise, none of us would be Christians today. I would still be wallowing in my backslidden life if Greg Laurie had not loved a whole group of “neighbors” and asked us “Are you ready to die tonight?”

Christians shouldn’t just love ourselves to heaven, we should love our neighbors to heaven too!

How Did Jesus Love His Neighbor?

For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.

When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners. Now, most people would not be willing to die for an upright person, though someone might perhaps be willing to die for a person who is especially good. But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God’s condemnation. 10 For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of his Son. 1So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God. Romans 5:5-11 NLT

It’s not easy confronting someone with their sin, but when we don’t, we’re condoning it. We do need to establish a relationship first, then share the Gospel and help them confront their sin, ask for forgiveness, and change their ways. Three biblical examples of Jesus loving his neighbor and introducing them to Himself come to mind.

  • When Jesus met the Samaritan woman at the well, He asked her for a drink (relationship); He told her about living water and eternal life (shared the Gospel); asked about her husband and she admitted she had no husband (confession). He told her he knew she had had five husbands and the man she was living with was not her husband (confronted her sin). He didn’t send her back home to live with her boyfriend, He told her the truth in love (Eph. 4:15). She became the first woman evangelist, “Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, ‘He told me everything I ever did.’ (John 1:4-42)
  • To the woman caught in adultery who he rescued from being stoned to death, He didn’t say: Well they’re all sinners too, we all sin, so no big deal. I don’t condemn you so just be more careful next time. He told her “Go now and leave your life of sin.” (John 8:2-15)
  • Zacchaeus was a fraudulent tax collector. When Jesus saw him he said, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” (Relationship) People were upset at Jesus for going to a “sinner’s” house, but Zacchaeus realized his sin (confronted with sin, he repented) and “Jesus said to him, Today salvation has come to this house.’” (Luke 19:1-10). Salvation not just to Zacchaeus, but to everyone in the house . . . you know Jesus shared the Gospel while he ate with them.

I wrote a blog post that might help with Balancing Grace and Truth.

What Does Love Your Neighbor Have to Do with the Election?

two-platforms

So how does this all tie into the election? Let’s look at the top five moral issues of two completely different political platforms that clearly delineate God’s way versus the world’s way—two different Americas. Ask yourself is this what it means to “love my neighbor like myself?” Is this what I want for myself . . . my family . . .  my neighbor? Is this what God wants for His people, for America?

A Christian can’t straddle the line between the two platforms. You must take a stand for right versus wrong, good versus evil. Some “neighbors” will listen and some like the “progressive liberal atheist” lesbian couple supporting Clinton who told me they want to spend eternity in hell together, or the atheist supporting Clinton who would not answer my question asking if she knows where she will spend eternity—will not listen.

If you love your neighbor enough to hope that someday he or she will know Jesus and be in eternity with you, then you must choose the platform that will allow you to freely share the love of Jesus with your neighbor. As I look at these platforms, it’s clear to me there’s only one choice. If you’re reading this after election day, admittedly it’s going to be harder, but we still must honor Matthew 22:36-40.

  1. Sanctity of human life

Democratic

Democrats seek to repeal the 1976 Hyde Amendment so that federal funds can be used to pay for abortions. The platform says, “We will continue to stand up to Republican efforts to defund Planned Parenthood health centers.” Democrats support ratification of UN efforts that affirm “the reproductive rights of women” globally.

Republican
The GOP asserts the sanctity of human life and affirms,The unborn child has a fundamental right to life which cannot be infringed.” The party supports a Human Life Amendment making clear that the 14th Amendment’s protections apply to children before birth, and it salutes states that require informed consent, parental consent, waiting periods and clinic regulation.

Question: Did God mean that loving your neighbor should give them the right to murder their unborn baby He created?

  1. Marriage

Democratic
Democrats applaud last year’s Supreme Court ruling that “LGBT people—like other Americans—have the right to marry the person they love.”

Republican
The GOP platform condemns the Supreme Court’s rulings that removed the ability of Congress and the people to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman. The GOP urges the reversal of those decisions, whether through judicial reconsideration or a constitutional amendment.

Question: Did God mean that loving your neighbor should redefine marriage to include same-sex marriage?

  1. Religious freedom—Acknowledging God

Democratic
The Democratic platform says: “We support a progressive vision of religious freedom that respects pluralism and rejects the misuse of religion to discriminate.” The party opposes a religious test to bar immigrants or refugees from entering the country.

Republican
Republicans affirm that religious freedom in the Bill of Rights protects the right of the people to practice their faith in their everyday lives. The platform endorses the First Amendment Defense Act, which would protect faith-based institutions and individuals from government discrimination.

Question: Did God mean that loving your neighbor should condone and legalize sin forcing pastors to perform gay marriages or be punished as we’ve seen with bakers, florists, photographers; students shouldn’t be allowed to use God’s name or Scripture in commencement speeches; Christian businesses like Hobby Lobby should be forced to pay for abortions?

  1. Federal Judges

Democratic
The platform says: “We will appoint judges who defend the constitutional principles of liberty and equality for all, and will protect a woman’s right to safe and legal abortion.”

Republican
The GOP platform states: “A critical threat to our country’s constitutional order is an activist judiciary that usurps powers properly reserved to the people through other branches of government.” The GOP supports the appointment of justices and judges who respect the constitutional limits on their power and respect the authority of the states.

Question: Did God mean that loving your neighbor should allow unrighteous judges to make laws beyond their constitutional limits that enforce and legalize sin?

  1. Israel and Jerusalem

Democratic
The platform states: “We will always support Israel’s right to defend itself, including by retaining its qualitative military edge, and oppose any effort to delegitimize Israel. … While Jerusalem is a matter for final status negotiations, it should remain the capital of Israel, an undivided city accessible to people of all faiths.”

Republican
Republicans express “unequivocal support for Israel,” pointing out that it is the only Middle Eastern country with freedom of speech and freedom of religion. The GOP recognizes “Jerusalem as the eternal and indivisible capital of the Jewish state.” The party opposes the U.N.’s treatment of Israel as a pariah state.

Question: Did God mean that loving your neighbor would mean that America should aid the enemies of our ally and God’s chosen people of Israel?

These five platform issues came from Billy Gramham.org Democratic and Republican Party Platforms. More issues are described on their website.

I hope you take the time to read the platforms before you vote and don’t get caught up in the media rhetoric, because the answers to the above questions will be what we live with in the future, and depending on the results of the election, every believer must remember:

In God we trust, not in man or woman.

You can still make a difference. The article I wrote for Crosswalk.com might be helpful You Don’t Have to Make Movies or Get Elected to Change Culture.

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Kim Davis: A Modern-Day Paul

Kim Davis' mug shot

If you do not stand firm in your faith, then you will not stand at all. Isaiah 7:9 HCSB

You’ve probably been following the case of Kim Davis, the Rowan county clerk in Kentucky imprisoned in federal jail for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Kim worked in the county clerk offices for 26 years as deputy for her mother, county clerk for 40 years, and then the community elected Kim last November to that position after her mother’s retirement. However the most impressive statistic about Kim Davis is that as a Christian of only four years, she was willing to go to jail to honor God.

When Kim took the job as county clerk, like most of us, she never imagined a day when America, a country founded on Judeo/Christian values, would legalize a moral atrocity like same-sex marriage. Kim didn’t seek notoriety or attention and she’s not the first county clerk to object to granting marriage licenses to gays, but she is the first who was willing to put her Christian faith on the line. In her statement, she wrote that her refusal to issue marriage licenses to gays  “Is not a light issue for me. It’s a Heaven or Hell decision.”

She added: “I want to continue to perform my duties, but I also am requesting what our Founders envisioned — that conscience and religious freedom would be protected. That is all I am asking. I never sought to be in this position, and I would much rather not have been placed in this position.”

She also used her statement as an opportunity to give her testimony of becoming a Christian. Like the apostle Paul, and all of us, she had a past, but she’s forgiven and saved and telling others:
“In addition to my desire to serve the people of Rowan County, I owe my life to Jesus Christ who loves me and gave His life for me. Following the death of my godly mother-in-law over four years ago, I went to church to fulfill her dying wish. There I heard a message of grace and forgiveness and surrendered my life to Jesus Christ. I am not perfect. No one is. But I am forgiven and I love my Lord and must be obedient to Him and to the Word of God. I never imagined a day like this would come, where I would be asked to violate a central teaching of Scripture and of Jesus Himself regarding marriage.”

Three times in the book of Jeremiah, in response to the moral sins of the people, God also said, “I have never commanded such a horrible deed; it never even crossed my mind to command such a thing!” (Jer. 7:31, 19:5, 32:35 NLT). It never crossed most of our minds that our country would ever consider doing something so abominable and against the nature of how God created marriage and men and women.

Side Note

When people ask me: “Where in the Bible does Jesus condemn homosexuality?” I counter with “Where does He condone it?” The people of Jesus’ time knew the Old Testament and they were fully aware of what constituted moral sins and what goes against God’s ways. Something our culture has forgotten. Jesus didn’t explicitly say don’t have sex with your animal either, so does that mean it’s OK and marriage to your animal whom you “love” should be legalized? And if it was, would you expect Kim to grant those licenses too?

The LGBT advocates and supporters have no moral argument and they know it. Dark chooses to stay in the dark. “The look on their faces testifies against them, and like Sodom, they flaunt their sin. They do not conceal it. Woe to them, for they have brought evil on themselves” (Isaiah 3:9).

Praise God, if you’re a believer, He has enabled you to share in the inheritance that belongs to his people, who live in the light. 13 For he has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of his dear Son” (Col. 1:12:13).

What saddens me is the number of Christians and churches buying into the lie. Any Christian who supports gay marriage and doesn’t think it’s a sin, doesn’t know his or her Bible, cover to cover. I don’t care if they’re pastors, popes, priests, presidents, legislators, judges … they’re human, fallible, and wrong! “Your leaders mislead you, they confuse the direction of your paths” (Isaiah 3:12).

They have stepped out of the light into the darkness. If you’re one of those people, I implore you to open up your Bible, start in Genesis and read all the way to Revelations. Don’t pick a verse here or there, read the whole Book of God and you will clearly know what God calls sin–immorality, idolatry, murder, lies, sexual perversion and lust, adultery and more …. It’s all in there along with what He thinks of those who support, encourage, and purposely engage in sin. You don’t want to be one of those people. Kim Davis, who has only been a Christian for four years, reminded us: “It’s a Heaven or Hell decision.”

I’ve had Christians ask me what I think Kim Davis should have done, and I answer, “Just what she did.” There’s no right way to do the wrong immoral thing no matter who tells you to do it or what immoral laws our government passes. If anything, they should grandfather her in and not expect her to abide by a “law” that changed long after she started working in the county clerk’s office. Granting gay marriage licenses isn’t the job she signed up for: compliance or quitting aren’t viable options. That sounds a lot like a dictatorship. Some have tried to use the verses about giving unto Caesar what is Caesar’s. Again, that tells me they don’t know their Bible. Those verses were talking about taxes. Don’t cheat on your taxes. But let’s look a little closer at the whole context of what Jesus said in Matthew 22:17-21 NLT:

17 Now tell us what you think about this: Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?”

18 But Jesus knew their evil motives. “You hypocrites!” he said. “Why are you trying to trap me? 19 Here, show me the coin used for the tax.” When they handed him a Roman coin,[a] 20 he asked, “Whose picture and title are stamped on it?”

21 “Caesar’s,” they replied.

Well, then,” he said, “give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and give to God what belongs to God.”

What’s on the back of your coins?

thatyoumightknowhim.com

thatyoumightknowhim.com

What Next?

Those who are honest and fair, who refuse to profit by fraud, who stay far away from bribes, who refuse to listen to those who plot murder, who shut their eyes to all enticement to do wrong— 16 these are the ones who will dwell on high. The rocks of the mountains will be their fortress. Food will be supplied to them, and they will have water in abundance. Is. 33:15-16

Those who are honest and fair,
who refuse to profit by fraud,
who stay far away from bribes,
who refuse to listen to those who plot murder,
who shut their eyes to all enticement to do wrong—
these are the ones who will dwell on high.
The rocks of the mountains will be their fortress.
Food will be supplied to them,
and they will have water in abundance. Isaiah 33:15-16

As I write this post, Kim Davis was released from jail and we all wait for what will happen when she returns to work. Last Sunday, Kim Davis was still in jail when our pastor Brian Smith spoke on the book of Colossians. He emotionally prefaced that the Lord had him pacing in his office as he prepared this sermon, especially in light of current events. He read an introduction to us prior to the sermon. Before I share that introduction with his permission, let’s look at a few passages Paul wrote to the Colossians while he too was in prison for his faith. Remember that the Colossian believers were also bucking the Roman government who wanted everyone to recognize Caesar as Lord.

 So we have not stopped praying for you since we first heard about you. We ask God to give you complete knowledge of his will and to give you spiritual wisdom and understanding. 10 Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit. All the while, you will grow as you learn to know God better and better. We also pray that you will be strengthened with all his glorious power so you will have all the endurance and patience you need. May you be filled with joy… Col. 1:9-11

Christ Is Supreme

15 Christ is the visible image of the invisible God.
    He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation,[a]
16 for through him God created everything
    in the heavenly realms and on earth.
He made the things we can see
    and the things we can’t see—
such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world.
    Everything was created through him and for him.
17 He existed before anything else,
    and he holds all creation together.
18 Christ is also the head of the church,
    which is his body.
He is the beginning,
    supreme over all who rise from the dead.[b]
    So he is first in everything. Col. 1:15-18

23 But you must continue to believe this truth and stand firmly in it. Don’t drift away from the assurance you received when you heard the Good News. The Good News has been preached all over the world, and I, Paul, have been appointed as God’s servant to proclaim it. Col. 1:23

 Don’t let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers[a] of this world, rather than from Christ.” Col. 2:8

Marriage should be honoredPastor Brian Smith’s Opening to Sermon on Colossians:

There are voices in our world who tell us that we are to follow their authority. People who claim to know what is best for nations and individuals are hard at work to mold everyone into their image. This is not new: Rome had a plethora of gods and idols, and above all was the emperor. The people of his kingdom were to declare, “Caesar is Lord!”

China has a similar attitude, but there the government, communism, is to be recognized as the supreme ruler. To disagree is to be in jeopardy of the charge of “upsetting the social order.” Any activists can expect severe persecution or prison.

Our country is evidently following a similar secular, materialistic agenda: Federal laws are pre-eminent, government is the provider of goods for life, and to think differently brings the charge, “You are upsetting the social order!”

Christians are made to look like they missed the bus—“This is the 21st century. Get in step with the advancements of this society and culture. Life is changing and the experts are to be followed, you dummies!”

However, we as Christians are confident that God’s ways have not changed. He is the ultimate expert; He is Creator and Sustainer of the universe and of our lives. To contradict Him is to invite disaster, personally and universally. We’re already seeing these effects.

Our spiritual education is important; learning God’s ways is a priority and following the One who holds eternity has greater consequences than trying to have peace and security apart from God. So we need to tune into God.

He is not oblivious to your needs and circumstances. He will meet you where you are, but each of us must turn to face Him, acknowledge Him, respond to what He reveals, and obey.

Janet’s Challenge to You

war-room-2Christians put an expressly Christian movie, War Room, in the #1 ranking in the box office over Labor Day weekend. Surely, we can put a Conservative, Bible-Believing-Following, Christian in the Oval Office! Let’s do it…are you with me?

Woe to those who call evil good
and good evil,
who substitute darkness for light
and light for darkness,
who substitute bitter for sweet
and sweet for bitter. Isaiah 5:20 HCSB

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Caught Between Gay and God

The Bible

I’m back after taking a brief blogging sabbatical in June. We had a wonderful family reunion and then I headed off to Orlando for the Advanced Writer’s and Speaker’s Conference and the International Christian Retail Show. And that’s where I was when I heard the Supreme Court’s decision to legalize gay marriage. The room swirled around me and I felt nauseated. How could this have happened? Why were five judges allowed to try and overrule The Judge? How could they make a legal ruling on a moral issue? What was God feeling about all of this? What should Christians do? What should I do?

So many questions without answers, except for the ones about what should Christians and I do? We should stand firm on the Bible even though there are those who try to twist the Bible to support their opposing views. God showed me that the gay community calls heterosexuals “straight” and here’s the definition of straight from Roget’s Super Thesaurus:

  1. Unbent, undeviating, linear, direct, square, aligned.
  2. Honest straightforward, frank, candid, upfront, forthright, trustworthy, reliable, sincere.
  3. Undiluted, pure, whole, unmodified, unmixed.

So stay straight and undeviating in your faith, aligned with God’s “undiluted” Word.

If heterosexuals are straight what are homosexuals? Often they are meandering, mixed up, confused, off track, and  lost their moral compass. They may turn to the gay lifestyle because of something in their past. No one is born homosexual, but circumstances in their life might lead them to seek refuge in the gay community and they need our help, love, and guidance in straightening up their life from the twists and turns it’s taken. What they don’t need is for us to twist, bend, and expand Scripture to make it support the culture’s view of homosexuality.

You Probably Know a Person Sinning Sexually

Most people today know someone who is living in sexual sin. Maybe it’s a friend, a neighbor, a co-worker, a niece or nephew, a sister or brother. Maybe it’s one of your own children. Sadly, our culture now normalizes many of these sexual sins—hooking up, sex outside of marriage, living together, getting pregnant before marriage .. or maybe no intention of marrying, transgenderism…. While adultery still seems acknowledged as a sin and unacceptable, the gay agenda is becoming accepted and now the courts have had the audacity to legally change the definition of marriage to include a relationship outside of God’s design. But no law can change the laws of God. There’s no right way to do the wrong thing!

Today’s culture not only tolerates sexual sin, it accepts and celebrates it. So what are you to do about that person you know who is choosing a sinful, immoral sexual lifestyle, when the majority of society has decided it’s no big deal? You love that person and you want to continue the relationship, even though as a Christian you feel convicted that something isn’t right about this. You want to support them, and try to convince yourself that because it’s your child or loved one who has chosen sin, it’s really not all that bad.

Many of you are torn between love for your friend or relative and love for God’s Word? If that’s you, ask yourself some hard questions: How could I confront them about the sin and help them find their way to God’s forgiveness? How could I let them wallow in the dark, knowing that for those who have accepted the world’s ways over Jesus’ ways, they’re going to end up in eternal fire instead of eternity with Jesus? How could I ever forgive myself for not praying for them to change their ways? How could I go before Holy God with a clean heart knowing that I might have enabled my friend or loved one’s sin rather than loving him or her to the cross?

A friend recently posted this on Facebook “I am finding so many Christians waffling in their beliefs because they have become more concerned with the approval and appeasement of someone they know and love rather than being more concerned with that person’s eternity.”

This is exactly what I’m seeing too and it’s breaking my heart. I wonder if Christians who have changed their profile picture to a gay flag, realize that they’re waving a flag that says a professed Christian now has decided to oppose God’s ways in favor of the world’s ways? How will they explain that to God when they meet someday? How will they tell Him that the applause of men meant more to them than the applause from heaven?

How could anyone interpret “Love your neighbor as yourself” to mean loving your neighbor’s sin? Does anyone love himself or herself more when sinning? Is anyone happier when he or she sins? Do you celebrate your sin and even try to get it legalized?

What About the Person Who Claims to be a Christian but Also Persists in Sexual Sin or Approves of Same-Sex Marriage?

Last week, I attended the International Christian Retail Show and picked up John Bevere’s Good or God? It caught my attention since my new book coming out in March is How Good is God? I Can’t Remember…. Here’s an excerpt from Bevere’s book:

“Have you encountered someone who professes to know Jesus Christ, and has done so for some time, but lives as if he or she has never met Him? Why is this? This person is simply not experiencing the process of transformation. They are not being changed into His likeness.

Paul prophesied that our days will be difficult. Interestingly, he wrote that these stressful times will not result from persecution for our faith, as in his day, but from professing Christians who don’t keep the words of Jesus.

Paul clearly stated, “They will hold to the outward form of our religion, but reject its real power (2 Timothy 3:5 TEV). These professing believes are deceived, for they will be “always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (2 Timothy 3:7 TEV)…. Many such “believers” attend churches, conferences, worship nights, Bible schools, and connect groups. They love learning but remain unchanged in character and behavior.

Here’s the bottom line: only those who walk in holiness can see God—can enter His presence. Jesus couldn’t have made it any clearer when He said, “A little while longer and the world will see Me no more, but you will see Me. Because I live, you will live also. He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me … I will love him and manifest Myself to him” (John 14:19, 21).

Jesus stated that only those who keep His commandments are the ones He will make Himself apparent to. They will be the ones who see Him, who enter His presence and thereby come to know Him intimately. This privilege is not promised to all believers, only to those who pursue obeying His Word—those who pursue holiness.”

A good word from John Bevere to those who profess to be Christians but are living in sin instead of holiness or are enabling and cheering on someone living in sin. If I just described a Christian you know, here is what believers are called on to do…

Dear brothers and sisters, if another believer is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself. (Galatians 6:1-2)

Our Story

Lest you think I don’t know what it’s like to have a loved one choosing to sin, or haven’t been there myself, I wrote a book sharing the journey of praying for my daughter who was living with her boyfriend … something I had modeled to her when I was in my backsliding years running from God. Now, you may say that it’s no big deal anymore with so many people choosing to live together…but I beg to differ with you. Sin is ALWAYS a big deal no matter how many people are doing it. Majority never trumps morality.

majority

I had rededicated my life to the Lord and thought Kim would follow in my footsteps, but she didn’t. I had a hard choice. I loved my only daughter with an unconditional love, but I could not love what she was doing. I never condemned her, but I never condoned her chosen lifestyle. I did nothing to enable, celebrate, or support her choice.

Instead, I loved her like crazy with an unending mother’s love, kept communication open, and prayed every single day for her out of God’s Word. I prayed Scripture over her and for her. That didn’t make her happy, and she wanted nothing to do with my faith. But that didn’t daunt me. Knowing that she was not a believer and was going to hell, kept me on my knees every day for six years. Today we share our story together in Praying for Your Prodigal Daughter and in person, and she always thanks God and me that I never gave up or gave in to the sins she was committing.

Do you love your friend or relative enough to stand in opposition to their sin and stand in the gap for their salvation? You will be accountable for how you answer that question. I pray you choose eternal life for them, it’s the most loving thing you could do. Ignoring their sin, condoning their sin, and celebrating their sin, loves them straight into hell, which is real. We’re all going to die and go to either heaven or hell. What kept me on my knees for my daughter was a recurring dream of her calling out to me from the fiery pit asking me why I didn’t tell her where she was going? I knew that I would continue to expectantly and persistently pray for her until my final breath. Praise God, I got to witness her transformation into the godly woman she is today.

For God did not spare even the angels who sinned. He threw them into hell, in gloomy pits of darkness, where they are being held until the day of judgment. And God did not spare the ancient world—except for Noah and the seven others in his family. Noah warned the world of God’s righteous judgment. So God protected Noah when he destroyed the world of ungodly people with a vast flood. Later, God condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah and turned them into heaps of ashes. He made them an example of what will happen to ungodly people. But God also rescued Lot out of Sodom because he was a righteous man who was sick of the shameful immorality of the wicked people around him. Yes, Lot was a righteous man who was tormented in his soul by the wickedness he saw and heard day after day. So you see, the Lord knows how to rescue godly people from their trials, even while keeping the wicked under punishment until the day of final judgment. 10 He is especially hard on those who follow their own twisted sexual desire, and who despise authority.—1 Peter 2:4-10 NLT

Here is an example of how I prayed Scripture:

I pray that my daughter Kim will know the truth and that the truth will set her free. (1 John 8:32 )

Lord my daughter Kim has lost her footing and been swept off her feet by lawless and loose-talking unsavory people. Please grow her in grace and understanding of You, our Master and Savior, Jesus Christ. (2 Peter 3:28 MSG)

I pray that in all ways Kim will submit to you and you will make her ways straight. (Psalm 3:6)

There are 40 Days of Praying Scripture in the Appendix of Praying for Your Prodigal Daughter which would apply to anyone you are praying for and there are also stories from praying mothers of lesbians and other sexual sins.

Stand Strong

http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2015/june-web-only/here-we-stand-evangelical-declaration-on-marriage.html?utm_source=ctweekly-html&utm_medium=Newsletter&utm_term=11212054&utm_content=366195810&utm_campaign=2013&start=1

If like me, you’re speaking out against the immoral atrocities taking place in our culture and getting a push back from professing Christians, the Holy Spirit reminded me that this is what Moses and Jeremiah must have experienced. Or Paul when he saw the churches who professed to know Jesus and follow Jesus, turn to sinful and immoral ways. How he pleaded, begged, professed his love with them in 1 and 2 Corinthians, Ephesians, Romans, Galatians, Colossians and left those pleadings and counsel for us to read and apply today…and yet look at how far we’ve fallen away. Yes, grace can cover a multitude of sins … but grace and mercy comes after confession, repentance, asking for forgiveness from Jesus, and a sincere change of heart to go and sin no more!

This is the message we heard from Jesus and now declare to you: God is light, and there is no darkness in him at all. So we are lying if we say we have fellowship with God but go on living in spiritual darkness; we are not practicing the truth. But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin.

If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. If we claim we have not sinned, we are calling God a liar and showing that his word has no place in our hearts. 1 John 1:5-10.

If you received this post by email comment here.

Here are additional posts you might want to read. I wrote the one on Balancing Grace and Truth last year.

Balancing Grace and Truth

These 35 Companies Just Told America Exactly What They Think About the SCOTUS Gay Marriage Ruling

40 Questions for Christians Now Waving Rainbow Flags

Here We Stand: An Evangelical Declaration on Marriage

A Surprise Prophetic Word about the Supreme Court Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

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When You’re Mom #2

As many of you know, Dave and I are a blended family. Our children were all in their teens when we married and I thought it would be smooth sailing, but we definitely had many challenges. With Christ at the center of our marriage, and agreeing that divorce would NEVER be an option, praise God we made it through and our sweet kids are all brothers and sisters in Christ and in family.

But during the difficult years, I longed for someone to mentor me from the perspective of “been there done that, made it through with Christ and you will too” and I’ll pray for you and help you. But I never found that mentor. I bought the few Christian books there were for step families and Dave and I joined a support group at church. I would have gone to a retreat in a heartbeat. I know Laura Petherbridge personally as a friend and fellow author and speaker, and if you’re a stepmom you will enjoy her book and this retreat. If you know stepmoms or have a support group at your church, please share this blog post.

Laura is giving away a copy of her book, 101 Tips for the Smart Stepmom so leave a comment to enter the drawing and check the box to receive follow up emails to this post so we can let you know if you won, or check back on Friday. We’ve given away a book a week all month. I love it.

Helping Hurting Women

By Laura Petherbridge

Sisterhood of stepmoms logo

“Please remove my name from your mailing list,” the woman’s email requested. “I am no longer a stepmom.”

My heart sank as I finished her note. Divorce. Again. She became one of the census statistics which reports that 60-73% of stepfamilies fail.

I cried out to God, “Lord, one more marriage gone. One more home fractured. One more child believing, ‘marriage doesn’t work’ because he/she has now witnessed two demolished families.”

“Lord, help me to reach stepmoms before it’s too late. Please, show me how to provide help, healing and hope. They need a spa for their weary soul, they need a—RETREAT!!”

Last year when I had the idea to conduct a stepmom retreat, I assumed it would be a one-time event. I asked a few stepmom sisters who offered a similar stepmom outreach to join me. And that one step, that one decision, has rocked my world.

We Can’t Stop Now

cover 101TipsSmartStepmom

Since I’ve written two books for Stepmoms I’ve gotten used to them emailing me for help, but now at the retreat they were in my arms. Their tears, pending divorces, and the voices of their hurting children, were looking me in the eyes. And their begging pleas, “I’m afraid I might not make it. I feel like a failure. Show me how to survive life in a stepfamily,” could not be silenced in my head.

“What are we going to do now?” was the question each teammate asked as we ate lunch together after the retreat.

“We can’t stop now,” one team member shared. “We must do more of these events, more stepmoms need our help.”

And so with no money, no sponsor, no guidebook to follow, and no website established, we launched a ministry, Sisterhood of Stepmoms.

Within two weeks of establishing a Facebook page we had 700 likes, and now one year later, it’s over 2400. Stepmoms from everywhere began sharing how grateful they were to receive help and a place to find healing.

The Church Typically Doesn’t Understand

The church rarely has a ministry that meets the needs of stepmoms.

“I went to a mom’s conference, and a women’s retreat geared for families, but none of the issues they addressed applied to my situation,” stepmom Lisa shared.

“I need to know how to parent alongside my stepson’s mother. She lives very differently than we do, with completely diffident view of what is right and wrong. Plus I can’t figure out how to handle my husband’s inability to discipline his kids. Even though his ex-wife is the one who left the marriage for another man, he is plagued by guilt because his kids are from a divorced home.”

This is why a ministry specifically designed for stepfamilies, which can address their unique issues is a huge need. Many statistics show that there are more stepfamilies in the USA today than there are first time families. They avoid the church because there isn’t a place for them.

God Has Other Plans

Before this stepmom mentoring occurred, I kept asking God for a “nice, clean” women’s ministry. You know something with pink ribbons and flowing butterflies. I was seeking a ministry that the annual church women’s luncheon would eagerly embrace for their keynote.

Wrong.

God had other plans, and I’m so glad. Whether it’s; the childhood shame and trauma associated with my parent’s divorce, the devastation when my husband walked out of our marriage, or the stress of being a stepmom, the wounds of my past provide me with the insight to mentor, encourage, or instruct others. When given to Jesus, my scars serve a higher calling. The destruction is transformed into a restoration for another.

I’m thrilled to be on this journey. Here’s another email that explains why. It reads differently than the previous.

“Dear Laura, Thank you for your ministry to stepmoms. I want you to know it saved my marriage. I was on the verge of divorce; I couldn’t take stepfamily living anymore. And you taught me that with God’s help I can learn how to live above the circumstances. You offered practical, no-nonsense, real life information which changed my attitude and perspective. You gave me tools and hope. My husband immediately noticed, and now I think we will make it.”

It doesn’t get any better than that.

The next retreat, geared for ANY women who is a single parent or dating, engaged or married to a man with kids (young or old), is April 17-19th, at the gorgeous Sandy Cove Retreat Center.

What Can YOU Do?

Won’t YOU be the one to reach out to a stepmom, and show her where to find help, healing and hope?

Leave a comment to enter drawing for a free book. Be sure to check the box to receive follow up comments to this post or check back on Friday to see if you won!

Copyright © 2014 Laura Petherbridge. All rights reserved

 

petherbridge headshot closeup 2008

Laura Petherbridge is an international author and speaker who serves couples and single adults with topics on relationships, step-parenting, divorce prevention, and divorce recovery. She is the author of 101 Tips for The Smart Stepmom—Expert Advice from One Stepmom to Another and When “I Do” Becomes “I Don’t”—Practical Steps for Healing During Separation and Divorce, and a featured expert on the DivorceCare DVD series. Her book The Smart Stepmom, is co-authored with stepfamily expert Ron Deal. Her website is www.TheSmartStepmom.com

 

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How to Have a Date with Jesus

FullSizeRender-1 (2)Be My Valentine!

I know I don’t have to remind you that this Saturday is Valentine’s Day! A day we set aside for showing that special someone how much they mean to us. It can also be a difficult time for someone who doesn’t have an object of his or her affection to dote on or be the recipient of doting … but it doesn’t need to be a sad day for those who know Jesus as their First Love!

My First Prayer Garden

 Almost twenty years ago, the revelation hit me that even though I was happily married after being single for 17 years, my husband was not first in my love life, Jesus was. And shouldn’t I approach my special time with Jesus each day with the same attitude I would lavish on my earthly love, Dave. So I set about finding a special place to spend with my First Love every day and I called it my prayer garden. At this time, we were living in sunny Southern California so I could have my quiet time outside almost every day. I’ll share with you in a moment how I’ve carried on this date with Jesus in my new home of Idaho. Here is the story that I wrote in 2001 of how I initially created the special “date” atmosphere in California.

Thinking of Jesus as the lover of my soul and the One I love above all others, gave me the idea of creating a romantic atmosphere for my daily “Quiet Time” with Jesus. It needed all the touches of a special date. First, it must be quiet and free of interruptions, so that meant outside. Since my backyard is all cement, I arranged colorful potted plants in a shaded alcove of the patio and hung a humming bird feeder. I placed a chair for Jesus and a chair for me with a small table in the center for a romantic fragrant candle. I later added wind chimes, and my son-in-law made a waterfall. Walla I had a Prayer Garden.

 

My Prayer Garden

My Prayer Garden

My Date Bag with Jesus is always Packed

Then I pack a ‘date bag’ with my Bible, a journal, devotional, highlighters, pens, Post-it notes, current Bible Study, and oh yes, a lighter for the candle. One trip back into the house for something I forgot could be a major distraction. prayer garden 1

My “Date Bag” with Jesus

First thing every morning, I grab my cup of coffee, my date bag, a blanket or sweater if it is chilly, and head out for my date with Jesus in our Prayer Garden. Here is a major key to intimate time with my First Love—I shut the door to ALL interruptions. The answering machine gets the phone, and the family knows I am having my Jesus date when the Do Not Disturb sign is out.

When our date is finished, I repack my date bag and put it back in the same spot every time by the patio door so it is ready for tomorrow’s big date. If the weather is not good, Jesus and I curl up together on the couch, and I play soft instrumental worship music in the background.

To keep romance exciting, it’s good to vary the activities on dates, so I constantly add freshness to my Quiet Time with variety. Each Christmas, I pick out a new devotional for the coming year. I select one with an area for journaling love letters to the Lord. I start my Quiet Time date by praying the armor of God from Ephesians 6:10-18 and would never think of going into my day without this spiritual protection. I alternate working on my small group Bible studies or one I am doing for fun. Some years I read completely through the Bible, and other times, I leisurely enjoy the Scriptures.

At the end of our date, I sit back close my eyes and linger in conversational prayer, letting my First Love talk to me. He always whispers words of love and endearment as He reveals His plans, visions, and goals for us. Often, there are answers to prayers and questions, and many times, we just share a sweet silence. Like any wonderful date, I hate for it to end, but I know my First Love will be waiting eagerly for our special date tomorrow.

Idaho Quiet Times

Now that we live in Idaho with its four seasons, my Quiet Time locations change with the season: when the weather is nice, I’m out on the deck and when it’s snowing or cold I have a quiet time area right outside my office with a beautiful view out the window. I still have my Quiet Time bag packed and ready to go depending on where I’m having my date with Jesus. It’s my most favorite part of the day!

View from deck quiet times.

View from deck quiet times.

Indoors Quiet Time

Indoors Quiet Time

 

 

View from Indoor Quiet Time!Indoor Quiet Time View

How about you? Tell me about your dates with Jesus. Leave a comment below, or if you receive my blogs by email click and leave a comment.

 

Happy Valentine’s Day! Here is a poem I wrote about my California Prayer Garden. Enjoy!

OUR PRAYER GARDEN

You wanted to meet me early in the morning

          In a place that was special to just you and me.

My heart was willing, and I had such a yearning

          To talk and be in your presence daily.


I began to arise just after the sun came up,

          And searched for a place where we could meet.

It had to be quiet where no one would interrupt,

          For the time that we shared would be so sweet.

 

I moved from room to room,

          As I tried to find the aura,

For you and me to just commune

          Every day at the same hour.

 

As we began to spend our time,

          I felt you nudging as I would pray:

“Our get-togethers need fresh air and sunshine.

          Let’s be amongst the beauty of the day.”

 

Of course, it was there all along.

          The table, the patio, the view–

I had all the makings for a Prayer Garden,

          But flowers were sadly very few.

 

A “green thumb” I have never been,

          But I knew this was the spot for us.

And it would not be a Prayer Garden,

          Without the ferns, oleanders and hibiscus.

 

A shopping trip to the nursery was fun,

          Even though I didn’t know what to buy.

Some flowers wanted shade and others liked sun,

          So I just bought what caught my eye.

 

Soon my garden was worthy of comment.

          The flower beds were colorful and in full blossom,

And the array of potted plants carpeted the cement.

          The transformation was truly awesome.

 

One final touch called out to me,

          Wind chimes to catch Your breath in the breeze.

A hummingbird feeder for quiet company,

          In the place where we will meet when ‘er You please.

Jesus, I know now why you sought a garden

          When you went to pray alone that night.

Amongst Your creation God’s presence is sovereign,              

          You just know God’s plans will turn out right.

Janet Thompson 7/17/96

 

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Are You Loving Your Husband to Death?

Love Your Body Like God Loves It

Love Your Body Like God Loves It

Several years ago, I led a group of women through Cynthia Heald’s Loving Your Husband Bible study. When we got to the chapter on “She Brings Him Good, not Harm,” I thought it would be a good time to talk about taking care of our husbands by feeding them well. The wives’ reactions stunned me. You would have thought I had asked them to give their husband’s a foot massage every night!

How dare I think they had time in their busy schedules of—taking care of kids, car pools, the gym, working, and feeding picky kids—to worry about what they fed a husband who often came home after the family dinner anyway. How could I expect them to add preparing healthy food to their already overburdened lives!? Even as I write this, I can still hear the indignation and anger in their voices as each one agreed with the other that this was over the top!

After I recovered from my shock at their response, I said, “Don’t you want your husband to be around to help you raise your children? Don’t you want him to have a long, productive healthy life? Don’t you love him and care about his health?” They were not convinced.

Your Husband’s Well-Being Could Depend on You

When I try to encourage women whose husbands are overweight or have high cholesterol, high blood pressure, or high blood sugar, or have just suffered a heart attack, to prepare healthy food for these beloved men, the wives often tell me meekly, “I can’t take away his one pleasure.” Seriously—food is his only pleasure? Or as I watched one wife give Kentucky Fried Chicken to her husband who had just had open-heart surgery, “He loves it so much. I can’t deny him food he likes.”

To all of these women I say, “You are loving your husband to death.”

I’ve heard all the excuses—he eats lunch on his own. I can’t be his conscience or police what he eats. He’ll make it himself if I don’t make it for him. He won’t eat anything else. If he doesn’t care, I don’t care. And on and on . . .

One woman commented on last month’s Loving Your Body—90 Days to a Physical Renewal blog post by Debbie Alsdorf: “And while my hubby is supportive of me doing what I need to do for good health, he can only take ‘healthy’ food so long and then he wants processed foods.”

Debbie’s reply:

“Though my husband is very supportive, he did not do this plan with me. What he did do is eat the basic same dinner that I ate so I wouldn’t have to prepare two different things. My dinners usually consisted of lean protein, salad, and vegetable. Last night I had delicious grilled chicken, mashed cauliflower and grilled zucchini. It doesn’t get much better….Really! Sometimes I would add a starch for him, but he ended up quite happy without it. He still had his ice cream at night….I got used to not joining him in that. Without doing it fully, he lost one shirt size and one pant size in the 90 days!

Love Your Husband to Life

“I want to meet this woman who has my dad eating turkey burgers!”—Michelle, hubby Dave’s oldest daughter

When Dave and I first started dating, he was a heavy beefeater and didn’t eat healthy. I’ve always eaten healthy since my first career was as a Registered Dietitian, so when I prepared a meal it was always chicken, turkey, or fish, no fried foods, lots of veggies and salads, no added salt, and very little sugar. Dave probably went along with this because he wanted to make a good impression and was falling in love.

However, after we were married he had some real adjustments to make to what I cooked at home, but he ate whatever he wanted at lunch. Dave had always had bronchial problems and he was on antibiotics far too often. I also knew that his dad had quadruple bypass surgery so Dave could have a propensity to heart disease also. We had a long talk and I said how much I loved him and wanted him to be around for a long time, and I would do my part by making sure the food I fed him was healthy and that he got exercise with me at the gym.

Dave lost 10 pounds our first year of marriage, his bronchial issues went away, and he started enjoying the food I prepared. I honored the foods he didn’t like, but introduced him to a new way of eating. Whenever he protested, I just reminded him that I loved him and wanted us to grow old together. Love won him over.

Then twelve years ago when I was diagnosed with breast cancer, we took eating healthy to another level. We budgeted to buy exclusively organic, avoid processed foods, and eat raw as much as possible. I still didn’t give Dave foods he didn’t like, but I didn’t give him a food he did like if it wasn’t good for him or me. Dave’s response: If this will save my wife’s life, I’ll do whatever it takes.

He also agreed to start taking his lunches instead of the fast food he was grabbing. Now after 22 years of feeding my hubby healthy food, his doctor says he is 98% healthier than the men the doctor sees in his practice. At 68 years-old, Dave takes no medications, all of his blood work is pristine, and he is in excellent health.

I loved my husband to life and you can too.

Here is what I responded to the woman in the blog comment above whose husband wanted processed foods:

I will be praying for you. I know all the health issues you’ve had and I’m sure healthy eating would help you so much. God provides healthy “fuel” to keep our bodies running optimally. My hubby had a hard time too at first, but when I had breast cancer (now three times), he agreed to do whatever it took. He had made many changes when we married, but he made huge strides after breast cancer. But he doesn’t do everything I do…and that’s ok.

Maybe you could convince your hubby that healthy eating would be so good for him too…because you love him and want him to be around for a long time. But until then, make the change yourself and set the example as he watches you enjoy more energy and live healthier.

Practical Tips

1. For years, I didn’t cook veggies Dave doesn’t like: asparagus, onions, peppers, cauliflower, beets, cooked spinach, and artichokes. Then it dawned on me: I could make them for myself! Dave will eat raw spinach in salads so we eat it that way, which is much better for us. Often a hearty salad is dinner. Read labels on salad dressings or make your own heart-healthy ones with olive oil, vinegar, and herbs.

2. Bake, broil, grill, BBQ, roast, and steam. Don’t fry.

3. You are probably the main purchaser of food, so don’t have tempting, unhealthy food in the house.

4. Cook with herbs instead of salt. Don’t set the saltshaker on the table.

5. Cut back on red meat to several times a week, or none if he will agree and eat more wild fish, and organic or grass-fed chicken and turkey. Substitute turkey burger for hamburger. Eliminate processed/brined lunchmeats. Roast a turkey or chicken and slice for sandwiches.

6. Offer to pack a lunch for him. If he doesn’t agree, then be sure the meals you do prepare for him are healthy.

7. Do some research into what “healthy” means. For example if cholesterol is a problem, learn what foods are high in cholesterol. A simple “Google” search will provide answers to many of your questions.

8. Cut back on portion size. Dish up food on plates in the kitchen instead of putting food on the table with the temptation to have a second or third helping.

9. Limit desserts to special occasions or maybe on a weekend night—not every night.

10. Avoid casseroles—they are usually high in fat and calories. Another fallacy I often hear is that it just takes too much time to eat healthy. Not true. It’s much quicker to broil a lean piece of chicken or fish, steam veggies, and make a salad then the time it takes to make lasagna or a casserole.

Smother your hubby with love and let him know you are researching ways to prepare good tasting healthy foods that his body will love because you and God love him so much and want him to be around for a long long time. What husband could resist that? Mine can’t, and he’s so happy, happy, happy . . .

My hubby is Happy Happy Happy and Healthy!

My hubby is Happy Happy Happy and Healthy!

 

 

 

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What is Your Apology Language?

 Sienna's graduation day from Kindergarten

“I hear you, but I don’t know what you said . . .”

That was the response from 5-year-old granddaughter Sienna after I had given her and her two older siblings three things to remember about going to the pool that day. When I asked them each to repeat back to me what I said, Sienna couldn’t remember. Finally, she cried out the above statement.

An “ah ha” moment for me.

Flashing before my eyes were all the frustrated conversations I had had with my husband when he couldn’t remember something I had said. I would say, “You don’t listen to me.” To which he would respond, “I am listening to you. I hear you.” There we would be at a standstill . . . . if he heard me, why didn’t he know what I said?

Then little Sienna put it all in perspective—I wasn’t speaking his or her “language.” I wasn’t saying things in a way that resonated with them, so they had no idea what I said.

5 Love Languages

As I’ve said in earlier posts, Dr. Gary Chapman, author of the bestseller 5 Love Languages, was our speaker for the Love Song Couples Getaway. You are probably familiar with his conclusions that we all have a love language and we typically love others in the “language” that speaks to us. They are:
1. Words of affirmation
2. Gifts
3. Acts of service
4. Quality time
5. Physical touch

He commented that usually a husband and wife have different love languages or “dialects,” and it’s important we learn to speak the language of our spouse. My love language is acts of service, and my husband’s is physical touch. So if I hold his hand while we’re walking somewhere or when we’re sitting next to each other, he feels loved and happy. If he sees things that need fixing around the house and fixes them without me asking or reminding him, I feel loved and cherished.

Interestingly, our children and teenagers all have a love language too, and it’s vital that parents learn what makes their children feel loved. Not speaking their love language can lead to a rebellious teen.

For more information, and to take a test to determine your love language, go to Dr. Chapman’s website.

5 Apology Languages

New to me was Dr. Chapman’s discovery that people apologize five basic ways. We all have an “apology language” which makes us feel the apology is sincere. If you don’t apologize in the language that speaks to me, there’s a good chance I’ll have trouble believing that you really mean it.

Here they are:
1. Expressing regret: “I’m sorry that I . . . .” Note that just saying, “I’m sorry” is not enough. These people need to hear what you are sorry for, and for goodness sake, don’t follow it with “but . . . .”
2. Accepting responsibility: “I was wrong . . . .”
3. Offering to make restitution: “What can I do to make this right?”
4. Genuinely repenting or desire to change: “I don’t like what I just did. I don’t want it to keep happening.”
5. Requesting forgiveness: “Will you forgive me?” If you want to communicate a sincere apology that the other person receives well, you have to learn the other person’s apology language.

What is Your Apology Language?

If you don’t know what speaks to you as a sincere apology allowing you to forgive, Dr. Chapman said to ask yourself these three questions:
1. When I apologize, what do I typically say or do?
2. What hurts me most deeply about this situation? Why am I having trouble forgiving? This person needs #4, a repentance apology because they feel like someone is saying just they’re sorry, but keep on offending.
3. What could they say, or do, that would make it easier for me to forgive them?

If You’re Married . . .

Pastor Rick on couples forgivingPastor Rick Warren at Saddleback Church

In my Bible study, Face-to-Face with Euodia and Syntyche: From Conflict to Community, I discuss forgiveness myths that often keep us from receiving the peace that comes from forgiving someone, whether or not they apologize.

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Beach Baptisms and More . . .

In last week’s blog, I shared the amazing vacation that Dave and I took with the Love Song Couples Getaway—our second vacation with this God-centered group. Read in two earlier blogs how we discovered this group and about our trips to Maui and the Bahamas. Both of these vacations overflowed with fun and friendships, but we also had great worship and Christian teaching that challenged us to strengthen our marriages and our walk with the Lord. On both trips, there was an invitation to accept Jesus as your Savior or rededicate your life, followed by beach baptisms.

On the beaches of Maui, 87 people, including a young boy passing by, were baptized in the ocean and 39 people were baptized in the Bahama’s ocean. What a celebration that was and an amazing memory for all those who experienced the joy of making a public statement of faith and for those of us who prayed for them and cheered them on.

Chad and Andrea Burnell  (Idaho Falls} being baptized by Pastor Jim Wright in the Bahamas

 

More new friends: Holly and Bob Isenberger (WY) Jackie and Steve Riley (WA) and Dave and me celebrating with Chad and Andrea after their beach baptism

 

Why Be Baptized?

Baptism is an outward expression of an inward change of heart when we accept Jesus as our personal Savior. We believe that Jesus is who He said He was—the Son of God who died to bear our sins so that we might have eternal life. We receive salvation by admitting we have sinned, asking for the Lord’s forgiveness, and believing that Jesus Christ died for our sins and arose three days later to offer eternal life with Him to those who believe:

If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. Romans 10:9-10

Jesus said there was no other way. We cannot work our way into Heaven with good deeds and someone else cannot make the decision for us—not our parents, our spouses, our friends, or our church—it’s our personal decision. Only we can determine whether we believe in Jesus, and we need to be old enough to understand and acknowledge what it means to make Jesus Lord of our life.

 
Jesus’ baptism by John the Baptist symbolized what Jesus was soon going to do for us on the cross—dying, being buried three days, and then rising again. Immersion water baptism of a person who has accepted Christ as their Savior, symbolizes dying with Christ to their old sinful life and rising up out of the water a new person in Christ.

As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him.” Matthew 3:16

The baptism itself does not save us or make us Christians, just as wearing a wedding ring doesn’t make us married. The wedding ring shows the world we’re united with and committed to another person, so baptism tells the world we’re united with and committed to Christ.

Baptism is an expression of faith. You must be able to hear, understand, and reason. A christening or infant baptism is a choice made by the parents; a profession of faith baptism can only be made by someone old enough to make decisions for themselves. Peter explained at Pentecost,

“Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Acts 2:38

There is a progression—we hear, believe, repent of our sins and ask for forgiveness, then publicly profess our faith through baptism, and receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

My Daughter and Granddaughter’s Baptism

In Praying for Your Prodigal Daughter, I talk about praying and fasting that my daughter Kim would want to be baptized after she accepted Jesus as her Savior. My husband Dave and I had the blessing of baptizing Kim and her fiancé Toby two weeks before their wedding. I said at the time, “You give your child their first birth, but what a joy to be part of her being born again in Christ and wanting the world to know!”

The day after we returned home from our Love Song Couples Getaway this year, my 8 year-old granddaughter, Katelyn, was baptized. Katelyn accepted Christ as her Savior last year at our churches VBS, and this year she was ready to be baptized. She’s been attending AWANA’s for three years and Sunday School on Sundays. Her parents felt she was now old enough to understand her decision to follow Christ and they had the honor of baptizing their daughter. Following is the precious video of Katelyn’s baptism—

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20

 

 

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God Given Dreams Do Come True

I hope you all had a blessed Mother’s Day honoring your moms and being honored if you are a mom. This week, I want to introduce to you my friend Stephanie Shott who has a heart for moms and a burden for moms mentoring other moms, one mom at a time. Stephanie is the founder of The M.O.M Initiative where I am honored to be a mentor mom!

As you will read here, Stephanie and I are kindred spirits and share the same passion for women mentoring women according to Titus 2:3-5.

Please welcome Stephanie Shott—

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A God Dream

Has God placed a dream in your heart but you feel like you’re in God’s waiting room? Wondering if your dream will ever come true? Like the Lord isn’t working fast enough and then suddenly everything begins to fall in place?

That has been my story for the past four years; but the tide has turned and I feel like a fly on the wall of my life as I watch the Lord put together the pieces of the ministry puzzle for The M.O.M. Initiative.  TMI LOGO ~ SMALL

The ministry has been in place for two years and the final piece of the puzzle is coming out in July—The Making of a Mom(available for pre-order)—the premier book to work in tandem with The M.O.M. Initiative.

It’s written for moms and also serves as a resource for the church.

A Book for Every Mom

If you’re a mom, I wrote The Making of a Mom to meet you in the messy places of real life motherhood—to lay a biblical foundation for motherhood and to help you embrace the truth that you are deeply treasured by God…that He sees you and He LOVES you. You weren’t meant to make this journey alone.

The Making of a Mom answers the deep questions of a mom’s heart. “Am I enough?” “Will I ever get it right?” “How can I not mess up my kids when I’m such a mess?”

A Resource for Churches

Uniquely written as an in-reach and an outreach resource, The Making of a Mom includes questions at the end of each chapter and planning guides in the back.

The Making of a Mom answers the three questions almost every mentor, ministry leader, and small group leader asks…

1. What will I say?

The questions at the end of each chapter serve as a catalyst for conversation.

2. What will I do?

The venue-specific planning guides in the back of the book provide the tools to mentor moms in your church, your home, and in your community.

3. What will I use?

The Making of a Mom is a dual-purpose book to reach moms who don’t know Christ and minister to the ones who already know Him.

An Invitation to be ONE in a MILLION!

Are you a mom who would like a mentor? Are you a ministry leader who is looking to begin a mentor ministry to moms? Have you been trying to figure out how you can reach your community for Christ? Would you consider the power of missional mentoring?

The ultimate goal of The M.O.M. Initiative is to impact 1,000,000 moms for Christ through the power of missional mentoring. It really is possible! If three moms in half the churches in the United States mentor three other mothers, over 1,000,000 moms and 2,500,000 children will learn how to live Christ-centered lives.

Exciting to think about, isn’t it?

I’m asking women’s ministry leaders to join me in August as we launch M.O.M. Groups and begin reaching moms through the power of mentoring.

I’m asking every mom to tell your women’s ministry leaders about The M.O.M. Groups and join one yourself.

I’m asking YOU to JOIN ME to REACH MOMS for CHRIST in YOUR COMMUNITY!

To connect with The M.O.M. Initiative to reach moms for Christ in your community, please click this link to find out more about how you can help us reach ONE MILLION MOMS for Christ.

We’re Better Together

Oh…and I can’t forget to tell you about BETTER TOGETHER! The Lord not only put the pieces of the ministry puzzle together, but also He did exceedingly, abundantly above all I could ask or think when He connected the dots for our first conference. (He’s really good at exceedingly, abundantly, isn’t He?! 🙂 )

We’re extremely blessed because Janet Thompson is one of the keynotes and she will also be sharing 4 workshops…so you won’t want to miss it!

BETTER TOGETHER is a conference in Jacksonville, Florida, July 31st – August 2nd, where 20 speakers are converging together to share 45 workshops for women of ALL ages and ALL stages of life! It’s a weekend of fun, fellowship, giveaways, and sound biblical teaching you can depend on!

Come be refreshed, refueled, encouraged, and equipped.

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If the Lord has tucked a dream in your heart, I want to encourage you to keep on keepin’ on for Jesus. Don’t give up and don’t give in. He who has called you to it will see you through it.

So, don’t lose heart. The Lord sees your hard work and He who began a good work in you will complete it. Dreams do come true…in His time.

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Stephanie Shott and me at our first TMI Mentor Mom Retreat

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