Being Confident of This

Grace for the work-in-progress woman

Spring, and Fret ~ Grace and Truth Week 7

The Grace and Truth link-up was full of great reads last week, so much so that I had an unusually difficult time choosing just one to feature. So, I’m slightly bending the rules today to include at least a couple of the posts that were meaningful to me. :)

I really enjoyed this upbeat and hope-filled post from Cathy at Thoughts on Books about waiting for Spring. It’s full of beautiful photos and edifying scriptures.

One other post I just had to feature is Arabah Joy’s What You Really Need to Fast From This Lent. She breaks down a simple but powerful verse and wrings every bit of truth from the pieces!

I hope you take time to stop by the blogs above and be encouraged by the words there!

Jen :)

Thanks for linking up with us last week. If you were featured, feel free to grab a featured button below!

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Grace & Truth : A Weekly Christian Link Up

Grace & Truth exists to point people to Jesus! We hope this link-up will be a source of encouragement each and every week. If you’re a blogger our hope is that you’ll use this space as a way to meet new friends within the Christian blogging community. If you’re a reader our hope is that you’ll meet new bloggers that love Jesus just as much as you do! Most of all, we hope you’ll meet Jesus here.

Meet Your Hosts

Satisfaction Through Christ
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The Brown Tribe
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A Divine Encounter
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1.) Follow your hosts via their blog and/or social media channels. This is not mandatory, but appreciated!

2.) Leave 1-2 of your most recent CHRISTIAN LIVING posts. Please do not link DIY, Crafts, Recipes, etc. Links of this kind will be deleted. We also reserve the right to delete posts that don’t align with the theme or that are deemed by the hostesses to be inappropriate.

3.) Visit 1-2 other links and leave a meaningful comment! We want to encourage community, so please don’t link and run!

4.) All links are randomly sorted – feel free to link as early or as late as you’d like. The playing field is even!

In order to be featured next week:

5.) Grab a button or link back to encourage new linkers. This is not mandatory to participate, but is required to be featured.

6.) Each host will choose one link to feature and promote via their social media channels next week.

7.) By linking up you agree to allow the hosts to use your featured post image if you are chosen as a feature for next week.

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Who Controls Your Eating? ~ Grace and Truth Week 6

A few weeks ago my husband shared an illustration in one of his sermons that struck me in a new way, even though I had heard it before (based on My Heart, Christ’s Home by Robert Mounger).  He tells the story of Christ’s visit to a home. In the story, Jesus is shown from room to room, making various comments and pointing out sin and needs. But when He asks for a peak inside of the odorous hall closet, He’s denied.

We all have those closeted-off spaces in our hearts, areas we wish to keep to ourselves. Perhaps we feel the closet is too disgusting for Christ’s redemption. Perhaps we wish to maintain control over that area. Perhaps we simply don’t want to be told what to do with it.

When I heard the illustration told again, I recognized two areas that I’ve been unwilling to let the Lord have control of until recent years. Sure, I’ve given him bits and pieces here and there, but not the full access He is asking for.  One of these areas is my health, specifically my eating habits.

Lately, the Father has been teaching me how often sin comes into play in my eating. He’s making me call it what it is – sin.  He’s not letting me “off the hook” any longer.  He desires to free me from this slavery, and I’m beginning to yearn for that freedom myself!

So, I really appreciated Sarah Knepper’s post this week about emotional eating.  She was even brave enough to start a video diary and confess this problem face to face (well, digitally)!  I can relate to so much of what she wrote and said, so I’m happy to share it with you all.

emotional eating, over-eating, weight-loss-journey, Christian living

You can also find Sarah on facebook,twitter, and pinterest.

Thanks for the encouragement, Sarah!

Jen :)

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Grace & Truth : A Weekly Christian Link Up

Grace & Truth exists to point people to Jesus! We hope this link-up will be a source of encouragement each and every week. If you’re a blogger our hope is that you’ll use this space as a way to meet new friends within the Christian blogging community. If you’re a reader our hope is that you’ll meet new bloggers that love Jesus just as much as you do! Most of all, we hope you’ll meet Jesus here.

Meet Your Hosts

Satisfaction Through Christ
BLOG
| FACEBOOK | PINTEREST | TWITTER |G+

Kaylene Yoder
BLOG | FACEBOOK | PINTEREST | TWITTER | G+

The Brown Tribe
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Arabah Joy
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A Divine Encounter
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Being Confident of This
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Busy Being Blessed
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Sharing Redemption’s Stories
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Grace&Truth-Rules2

1.) Follow your hosts via their blog and/or social media channels. This is not mandatory, but appreciated!

2.) Leave 1-2 of your most recent CHRISTIAN LIVING posts. Please do not link DIY, Crafts, Recipes, etc. Links of this kind will be deleted. We also reserve the right to delete posts that don’t align with the theme or that are deemed by the hostesses to be inappropriate.

3.) Visit 1-2 other links and leave a meaningful comment! We want to encourage community, so please don’t link and run!

4.) All links are randomly sorted – feel free to link as early or as late as you’d like. The playing field is even!

In order to be featured next week:

5.) Grab a button or link back to encourage new linkers. This is not mandatory to participate, but is required to be featured.

6.) Each host will choose one link to feature and promote via their social media channels next week.

7.) By linking up you agree to allow the hosts to use your featured post image if you are chosen as a feature for next week.

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Fighting Weight-loss Failure

So, lately I’ve put myself out there in some big ways here at Being Confident of This.  I’ve told you why I hate speaking my goals aloud, why it frightens me.  Claiming that I’m working on losing weight, self-control, healthy living, is scary because it also makes me accountable to all who hear those words. It makes me accountable to myself and to my Lord, too.

And the Lord must be doing some sort of work in this area of health because He just won’t let it rest. :)

Last week, I wrote about the 5th cookie – how we can be like disobedient children who want our things our way. As I walked away from that post, and headed into Valentine’s weekend, I was pumped. I was ready!

Somewhere along the line, I decided that since it was Valentine’s Day, I would allow myself to cheat a little. It began with just a few pieces of candy that our children shared with me and extended right on into the evening with fried food. In fact, that sin snowballed right through the weekend and into Monday!

The problem wasn’t just that I failed to reach my healthy eating goals. The real problem with cheating on my plan is that I didn’t even ask the Lord if it was okay. I shut Him out.

Fighting-Weight-loss-Failure, when you cheat on your eating plan, sin, disobedience, failing in your weight-loss journey, failing to meet goals

I hadn’t really thought about this before until one of my readers pointed out that when she wants something, she takes it without asking, even if she knows punishment (such as gained weight) will follow, because it’s worth it at the time.  I think all too often, I like to live in denial of the punishment coming my way, not because I think God is going to be angry with me, but because natural consequences follow my unhealthy choices!

Truly, the worst part of falling off the healthy wagon this weekend wasn’t the over-full, bloated body but that I felt like such a hypocrite. Boy, did the Enemy seize on that feeling, too!  I knew I was wrong. I knew I had failed, disobeyed.

He knew it, too, that father of lies. Didn’t you just write about making healthy choices and respecting the boundaries God gives you?  Didn’t you just tell your readers that those boundaries are for your benefit?  You’re such a hypocrite!  You’ll never get a grip on this area. Success will always elude you when it comes to food… You’re doomed to life as a big girl…You might as well just give up now!

Whenever I start listening to the Enemy’s lies, I want to hide away like Eve in the Garden. Instead of running to the Father to confess my sin, I often try to deny it. I pretend it doesn’t exist. I blame others. I act like it’s not a big deal – just a “little” sin.

I justify the sin.

But somewhere deep inside, I know the truth of my own choices. I know, too, that my Father is gentle and patient and loving. I know He forgives sin as far as the East is from the West.  I know He’s waiting….just waiting. I don’t avoid Him because of His character but because of the wound to my own pride. I consistently fail on my own.

I need Him.

With each comment here and on facebook, with each share notification, I’m reminded of His lesson. He’s been calling me, using my own words to beckon me to His side. He’s relentless. He pursues without tiring.  He does all of this because He loves me.

He loves me.

He loves you, too, sister, even those of you wallowing in failure as I have been the past couple of days.  He loves those of you who feel you have no hope left. He loves those of you who struggle with doubts about His very goodness.

You see, the Enemy’s initial accusations were true – I was a hypocrite by choice, but the rest of what followed was all lies. I know that with the Father’s help, I can overcome, even in the area of healthy eating. I can say no to food. I can say yes to exercise.  I can learn to trust the Father’s boundaries, even after a failure, especially after a failure! I can trust His work-in-progress in me. :)

1 John 1:9

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

That promise always rings true. He is faithful, my sisters in Christ. Whatever boundary you’ve been struggling with, He is faithful.

Don’t wait any longer.

Confess.

Cry out to Jesus.

Let Him pick you up from this place.

Let Him be the author of your come-back.

When you do, the weight of sin will be lifted; the Accuser will be silenced.

And you…you will be white as snow.

Jen :)

Sharing with: Grace and Truth, Faith Filled Friday, Fellowship Friday,

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The 5th Cookie ~ a Lesson in Boundaries

As my friend tells it, the whole ruckus started over the fifth cookie. We were at Mom’s Group, a small gathering of moms with young children, when her daughter begged for just one more cookie.  But you see, she’d already eaten four others, and my friend was afraid that the preschooler might become physically ill if she ate any more. So, my friend said no like a good mom who is always looking out for her child’s well-being.

However, her daughter saw the “no” as coming from a mean mommy who wanted to limit her fun and pleasure. She wanted that fifth cookie, and she wanted it bad!  How could her mommy deny her such a good thing? A loud power struggle ensued as my embarrassed friend removed her daughter from the room for some discipline.

When my friend recounted the incident later that day during our parenting class, I realized something important – sometimes I’m like the preschooler who wants the fifth cookie!  the fifth cookie lesson in boundaries, when-God-says-no, why-God-says-no, obeying-God-in-what-we-eat, healthy-living, obedience, watching-your-weight, making-healthy-choices, persevering-in-weight-loss We’ve talked before here in this space about how God creates boundaries for us because He loves us, not to keep us from experiencing pleasure or to deny all our wants.  He creates boundaries simply for our own protection, much like my friend, the loving mother.  She said no in order to protect her child, to keep her child from pain of a belly-ache, the harm of the consequence of over-indulging.

In the same way, our Heavenly Father lays out boundaries in His word in order to protect us, to keep us from harmful consequences. I’d like to pretend that those boundaries are for really “serious” sins like murder, stealing, sexual immorality, idolatry, blasphemy, and so forth. But the truth is that the boundaries are for so-called “little” sins, too.

Even sins like over-eating.

Yes, sometimes I’m the preschooler who wants the fifth cookie, but the Holy Spirit tells me no. Then it’s my choice whether or not to heed that boundary that the Father has put into place for my own protection. You see, He knows the ultimate consequences of the fifth cookie – not just the extra weight, but the potential health risks that go along with it.  Even more, He knows what that lack of self-control says about the condition of my heart!

When I’m just dying for the fifth cookie, or the slice of pizza, or the brownie, or the glass of cherry coke, I’m allowing myself to be ruled by food, by pleasure. Our Father isn’t content that I should be a slave to food, nor to any other earthly thing (or person). He sent His one and only Son just for this – to set us free!

I know one area that I’ve not allowed Him into in the past is my fat girl insecurities, but He wants to set me free from that, too.

I long for this freedom, don’t you, my sisters in Christ?

I shared earlier this year about my one word – persevere. When I chose this word (or when it was chosen for me), I knew that one area in which I needed to persevere most was in this area of healthy eating and healthy living. I’ve bought into the lie that I cannot change these habits for too long now.

1 Cor. 10:13  No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful;he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.

The Father is setting new boundaries for me, and sometimes I don’t like it. Like the preschooler, I fight it. I fight Him. I justify that one more bite won’t hurt. One more cookie will be okay. Surely my Father wouldn’t deny me this simple pleasure, right?  After all, I have freedom in Christ for all things, yes? Don’t fall for those lies, sister. Don’t be Eve in the garden, taking just one bite of juicy, forbidden fruit! the fifth cookie lessons in boundaries, God's-boundaries-for-our-good, why-God's-boundaries-are-for-our-benefit, over-weight, healthy-living, healthy choices, obedience

If I’m crossing the boundary in having that fifth cookie (or third, or maybe even the very first one!), then I’m opening myself up to all of those consequences that He so desperately wants to keep me from. 

Maybe you don’t struggle with food, my sisters in Christ, but I’m sure you struggle with His boundaries in another area – loving others? obedience? abiding in Him? keeping your thoughts pure? respecting your husband? being patient with your children?  honoring Christ every day (not just on Sundays)?

That fifth cookie, that movie you’re dying to see, that strong word bursting forth from your mouth, that stray thought, that questionable relationship, that extra sleep – whatever it is that keeps us from the abundant good He has planned for our lives becomes evil, quickly becomes slavery. His plan is better, sisters.

1 Cor. 10:23  “I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial.“I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive.

Whatever your struggle might be, recognize that our Father lays out your boundaries because He loves you, because He wishes to protect you from harm!  Remember that you have the power of Christ in you – the ability to overcome! the fifth cookie lesson in boundaries, why-God-gives-us-boundaries, boundaries-for-our-own-protection, weight-issues, healthy-eating, trying-to-lose-weight, obey I’m learning that this food battle is going to be just that – a real war. I need His strength to persevere. I need His will-power to say no to the fifth cookie, even if My Fitness Pal says I have still have calories left in the day. ;)

I must be sensitive to the Holy Spirit and rely on His leading moment by moment. One day at a time. That’s how I’ll persevere in this area of healthy living.

By His strength and grace alone!

Jen :)

Related articles:

Fat Girl Insecurities

Fighting Weight-loss Failure

Sharing with: Grace and Truth, Tell His Story, The Mommy Club, Wedded Wednesday, Fellowship Friday

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How We Love ~ Grace and Truth Week 5

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, I’ve been thinking a lot about love. How we love our husbands, how we love our children, how we love neighbors and friends and even the church. The agape love we are called to is a mighty force when we see it in action. It’s a beautiful, awe-inspiring thing!  Unfortunately, we often miss opportunities to demonstrate such sacrificial love in our homes, our communities, and our churches.

At the end of last week, I wrote about loving even when marriage is difficult. So, of course, the title of Christy’s (from Faith Like Dirty Diapers) post immediately intrigued me, and I wasn’t disappointed!  This is one of my favorite lines from what she wrote: “What I built in my sinful flesh has to be dismantled by “divine power.” I CANNOT do this alone. I need the Spirit of God to intervene in a mighty way.”

Amen, sister!  I’m realizing that over the last decade or so, the Lord has been tearing down the human constructs in my marriage and rebuilding new ones based on Christ!  Be sure to stop by and read the post for yourself. You can also catch Christy on facebook.

I pray that as we go into Valentine’s weekend, we’ll be overwhelmed by the Father’s love, which will overflow in agape love towards all of the people in our lives!

Jen :)

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Grace & Truth : A Weekly Christian Link Up

Grace & Truth exists to point people to Jesus! We hope this link-up will be a source of encouragement each and every week. If you’re a blogger our hope is that you’ll use this space as a way to meet new friends within the Christian blogging community. If you’re a reader our hope is that you’ll meet new bloggers that love Jesus just as much as you do! Most of all, we hope you’ll meet Jesus here.

Meet Your Hosts

Satisfaction Through Christ
BLOG
| FACEBOOK | PINTEREST | TWITTER |G+

Kaylene Yoder
BLOG | FACEBOOK | PINTEREST | TWITTER | G+

The Brown Tribe
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Arabah Joy
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Grace&Truth-Rules2

1.) Follow your hosts via their blog and/or social media channels. This is not mandatory, but appreciated!

2.) Leave 1-2 of your most recent CHRISTIAN LIVING posts. Please do not link DIY, Crafts, Recipes, etc. Links of this kind will be deleted. We also reserve the right to delete posts that don’t align with the theme or that are deemed by the hostesses to be inappropriate.

3.) Visit 1-2 other links and leave a meaningful comment! We want to encourage community, so please don’t link and run!

4.) All links are randomly sorted – feel free to link as early or as late as you’d like. The playing field is even!

In order to be featured next week:

5.) Grab a button or link back to encourage new linkers. This is not mandatory to participate, but is required to be featured.

6.) Each host will choose one link to feature and promote via their social media channels next week.

7.) By linking up you agree to allow the hosts to use your featured post image if you are chosen as a feature for next week.

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6 Ways to Stir Up Love in a Difficult Marriage

A few days ago, I shared just part of my struggling marriage story and how difficult Valentine’s Day is when you don’t feel like celebrating love. If you didn’t catch that first part, please go back and read For the Wife Who Doesn’t Feel Like Celebrating Love before you read any further here so that you can get the whole picture. :)

I’m happy to say that our marriage is in a much stronger place now than it was then, although not without its problems. So, this Valentine’s Day will be easier than the one I previously described.

However, I know so many of you wives out there are hurting, too. How do I know? Because the number one searched word that leads people to this blog is the word “unloved” from a post I wrote way back in 2013.  I’ve been contacted by so many Christian wives who truly desire to walk in obedience to the Lord even in the midst of marriage problems, but they just aren’t sure how. I have been that wife myself!

So, if you find yourself in a marriage that just plain stinks this Valentine’s Day – if you believe you can’t show love because you feel so unloved – I have some advice for you that comes from my personal experience as a struggling wife.

6 Ways to Stir Up Love in a Difficult Marriage

1. Remember who you are in Christ. This has been key for me in overcoming lies from the Enemy about my marriage. In Christ, I am completely and perfectly fulfilled. I am perfectly loved. I am wanted. I am cherished. I am chosen.  Any loving that I do, has to flow from that place of understanding who I am as a Daughter of the King and Christ’s Bride.  When I find my identity in Christ instead of in my marriage, then I can survive the tough times.

2. Pray. Pray without ceasing that the Lord will give you His unfailing love for your man. I can’t tell you how often I’ve begged this of our Father over the years. That agape love comes not from us, my sisters in Christ. Rather, it is an overflow of abiding in the One who IS perfect Love. Pray for your man, as well. The Lord can effect changes in his heart that you can never hope to make!

6-ways-to-stir-up-love-in-a-difficult-marriage, helping a hurting marriage, struggling wife, difficult marriage, how to feel love, how to fall in love again, how to love a difficult spouse

3. Seek counsel. My husband and I might face the effects of PTSD on our marriage for the rest of our lives. I pray not, but it could be so.  We’ve found a few godly friends who really “get” us and even more importantly, “get” our marriage dynamic.  They understand because they’ve been there, too.  However, I highly recommend seeking out a godly Christian counselor.  We’ve been through several over our nearly 16 years of marriage.

Our current counselor is by far my favorite. He doesn’t downplay the reality of PTSD as some do, neither does he downplay the power of Christ. He brings scripture into our sessions and ends each one with a prayer that brings encouragement to our hearts.  My sisters in Christ, there is an indescribable comfort in realizing that your marriage problems are not unique. Others have faced them and overcome them before!  You are not alone as the Enemy would have you believe. Seek help! And if your man won’t go with you, please don’t use that as an excuse not to get help for yourself.

4. Make a list. Sometimes when I’m really struggling to love my husband, I make a list. I take note of all the things I admire about him – all the reasons for loving who he is as a person.  This really helps me to turn my focus from the negative, things I dislike, to the positive, things I like.  It also helps me to look back and see the ways in which he has grown over the years. After all, he is a work-in-progress, just as I am. Remembering that fact helps me to show him more grace and love.

5. Read your old journals or love notes. Every once in a great while, I pull out my memory box and look through pictures or keepsakes from the early years. I read the notes my husband wrote to me. It’s easier to love someone when I remember that he loves me, too! The memory box also helps me to remember how marriage can be easy between us.  It doesn’t always have to be a struggle (that’s another lie straight from the Enemy, sisters!). Good years will return as long as we both continue to follow the Lord and pursue each other.

6. Pursue your man.  Okay, honestly, I still fight this one so hard at times – it’s a pride issue for me and an area the Lord is still working in.  However, I’m learning that when I obediently reach out to my husband instead of waiting for him to reach out to me, he responds and we both gain. Pursuing him might be as simple as stopping what I’m doing and looking him in the eyes when he speaks to me, or choosing to sit next to him on the couch and hold his hand even if he sat way over there in the first place.;)

6-Ways-to-Stir-Up-Love-In-a-Difficult-Marriage, how to love when you feel unloved, bringing back the feeling of love to a struggling marriage, loving someone who isn't loving you, loving as God loves us

I know how difficult the above advice is to hear when you’re so broken-hearted, so wounded, so unloved.

Yes, I know it is.

But I have faith in the God who works out the impossible! I’ve seen it in my own marriage in places where He has torn down our shabby constructs of love in order to build up newer, stronger foundations that rest on Him alone. I believe Him when he says I can do ALL things through His strength – even loving someone whom I might believe to be undeserving of my love. I can love someone who doesn’t love me in return, perhaps even someone who truly despises me at the moment, because of the power of Christ in me. And you can do it, too!

You can celebrate Valentine’s Day without glossing over that fact that your marriage is hurting. You can be honest with your spouse. You can choose to act lovingly toward him even if he is not reciprocating. You can cling to the hope that Christ redeems us, and He redeems our marriages, too!

You can, my sisters in Christ.

Father, when we feel discouraged in our marriages, when we struggle to speak even a few loving words to our husbands, help us to remember that our marriages are works-in-progress, too.  Show us the progress, Lord!  Give us agape love for our husbands so that they might be drawn to us and drawn to You.  Remind us to pray for them. Remind us to pursue them. Show us every small way in which we can encourage and uplift them because of Your strength in us. And when we’re feeling so unloved ourselves, help us to turn to You, the Author of perfect Love. Teach us to be satisfied in You.  Especially on this Valentine’s Day, I ask you to bind up the brokenhearted and give them Hope!  Because of Your one and only Son’s death on our behalf….

Amen!

Jen :)

Related Articles:

For the Wife Who Doesn’t Feel Like Celebrating Love

How to Love When You Feel Unloved

Through My Grace-colored Glasses

It Was Ugly

For more encouraging articles on marriage, check out the Celebrating Marriage pinterest board!

Sharing this post with:

Making Your Home Sing Monday, Titus 2 Tuesday, Wedded Wednesday, Tell His Story, Wholehearted Home

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A Lost Coin and Marriage ~ Grace and Truth Week 4

Yesterday I talked about the tough times in marriage here on the blog. So, today I’m pleased to feature another blogger’s unique take on losing things and marriage. Her post is a little more light-hearted, yet contains important truths!  Be sure to visit Aimee at a Work of Grace for more truth-filled reading.  and of course, take a look at the featured post below. Thanks, Aimee for the great read! :)

marriage, working on marriage, celebrating marriage, maintaining marriage, What Have You Lost?

You can also find Aimee on Google Plus, Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest!

Now, on to this week’s link-up!

Jen :)

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Grace & Truth : A Weekly Christian Link Up

Grace & Truth exists to point people to Jesus! We hope this link-up will be a source of encouragement each and every week. If you’re a blogger our hope is that you’ll use this space as a way to meet new friends within the Christian blogging community. If you’re a reader our hope is that you’ll meet new bloggers that love Jesus just as much as you do! Most of all, we hope you’ll meet Jesus here.

Meet Your Hosts

Satisfaction Through Christ
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Kaylene Yoder
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The Brown Tribe
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Arabah Joy
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A Divine Encounter
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Leah Adams
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Being Confident of This
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Busy Being Blessed
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1.) Follow your hosts via their blog and/or social media channels. This is not mandatory, but appreciated!

2.) Leave 1-2 of your most recent CHRISTIAN LIVING posts. Please do not link DIY, Crafts, Recipes, etc. Links of this kind will be deleted. We also reserve the right to delete posts that don’t align with the theme or that are deemed by the hostesses to be inappropriate.

3.) Visit 1-2 other links and leave a meaningful comment! We want to encourage community, so please don’t link and run!

4.) All links are randomly sorted – feel free to link as early or as late as you’d like. The playing field is even!

In order to be featured next week:

5.) Grab a button or link back to encourage new linkers. This is not mandatory to participate, but is required to be featured.

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7.) By linking up you agree to allow the hosts to use your featured post image if you are chosen as a feature for next week.

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For the Wife Who Doesn’t Feel Like Celebrating Love

It’s no secret to those who know me well that my marriage isn’t perfect. Whose is, really? :)

So maybe you’ve spent time there lately, in that part of the marriage vows that we all like to ignore – the “for worse?” And with Valentine’s Day just around the corner, your pain is magnified because while everyone else is celebrating love, you’re left wondering where the love has gone. Perhaps you don’t even want to celebrate Valentine’s Day at all?

You’re not alone. I’ve been to that place, too.

Early on in our marriage, my husband revealed a secret about past trauma that he had kept hidden for years. He had survived things as a child that nearly made me vomit when I heard them, yet never spoke a word!  That revelation (and other difficult circumstances) led to a really dark time in our marriage.

After talking with some trusted friends, we finally sought professional help, but it was years later before we learned that my husband really struggled with PTSD (Post-traumatic Stress Disorder). Yes, the kind that soldiers get when they’ve been to war.

At some point, I began to wonder – who is this man that I married? Followed by the thought - this isn’t what I signed up for.

We continued to struggle in our marriage, partially because of his own personal fight with demons from the past and partially because I was believing lies from the Enemy about myself, about him, and about us.  I worried a lot about whether we would make it.

Sometimes I even longed for the release and relief of a separation. Wouldn’t it be so much easier on my own? But I knew that divorce was a sin. I also knew I didn’t want that life for my children, and I knew that part of me still loved my husband in spite of not feeling the love at the moment, so ultimately we decided to stick it out. But it wasn’t easy.

And then came Valentine’s Day, a day for celebrating love and marriage.

The problem was that I didn’t feel “in love” anymore. In fact, at times I didn’t even like my husband, and I don’t think he liked me very much either.  I didn’t want to celebrate Valentine’s Day at all.

for-the-wife-who-doesnt-feel-like-celebrating-love, don't-want-to-celebrate-valentines-day, not-in-love-anymore, feeling-unloved-on-Valentines-Day, not celebrating Valentine's Day, painful Valentine's Day, troubled marriage, difficult marriage, a wife who feels unloved

So, how can you buy a Valentine’s Day card for your husband when it feels like a lie to even say a simple, “I love you” or “You’re wonderful?”  There are no Valentine’s Day cards that talk about staying committed even though marriage really stinks right now.  There are no Valentine’s Day cards that talk about how you weep at night, yet you hold onto hope for better days.  No, those cards don’t exist.

What could I do?  To buy a sentimental card felt like a lie; it would be dishonest.  Finally, I settled on a more general card, then added my own note to it.

I wrote about how hard life had been lately for both of us. I wrote how sorry I was for my own failures as a wife. I wrote about what I saw in him when we first fell in love. Most importantly, I wrote how I planned to stick by him, for better or for worse, even though marriage seemed so much more than “worse” at the moment.

In so many words, I told him I believed in us and I believed in our God.

My husband still keeps those cards, even the ones from the rough years (yes, years). They mean something to him. They mean something to me, too.

We survived that rough Valentine’s Day and some rough anniversaries, too. Although I’d love to tell you we never visited the dark times again in these last 15 years, it would be a lie.  We have. Every marriage has its ups and downs. That’s just normal. :)

So, this Valentine’s Day, my heart goes out to you, the wife who doesn’t feel like celebrating, the wife who feels so unloved and maybe even trapped. I know that Valentine’s Day shines a great big spotlight on your source of pain. I know you feel alone in this. I know the loving feelings just aren’t there at the moment, as much as you wish them to be.

Take heart, lonely wife. The Father has not forgotten you!

Psalm 34:17-18

The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them;
    he delivers them from all their troubles.
     The Lord is close to the brokenhearted
    and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”

This is just part of my story of surviving Valentine’s Day when you feel unloved… and unloving.  I hope you’ll join us for Part 2 (only two days away!) in which I share six practical tips for stirring up love when marriage just plain stinks.

Until then,

Jen :)

Related articles:

6 Ways to Stir Up Love in a Difficult Marriage

How to Love When You Feel Unloved

Through My Grace-colored Glasses

It Was Ugly

The Day I Saw Red

Because We’ve Been Falsely Accused

Sharing this post with: Tell His Story, Wedded Wednesay, Wifey Wednesdays, Wholehearted Wednesdays, Grace and Truth, Unite, Titus 2 Tuesdays, Making Your Home Sing Monday, The Homemaking Party

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How Sanctification Gives Us Hope ~ So Great a Salvation Series

It’s likely you’ve heard the admonition to “preach the gospel to yourself.” But do you have a practical, systematic way for doing that? What do you say when you preach the gospel to yourself?

The gospel message about Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection has the ability to enrich us and make us wealthy in mind and spirit, word and deed (see Colossians 3:16). Yet if we have little grasp on how to effectively let it, we miss out on the power it holds.

Preaching the gospel to ourselves means allowing our thinking, emotions, and responses to daily be shaped by the truth of the gospel.

In this series, we hope to give you practical help in preaching the gospel to yourself. We’ve pulled key gospel concepts and compiled them into a list of words, such as justification, redemption, and sanctification. Don’t let the big words scare you because we’ve explained them!

We’ve also summarized each of these powerful truths in a useable way.

We hope this series will deepen your grasp on the gospel and give you verbiage for what to say when you preach the gospel to yourself.

So-Great-a-Salvation, preaching-the-gospel-to-yourself, gospel series, sanctification, justification, reconciliation, adoption

How to use this series:

To begin, read my post below. Then visit each of the links for more gospel words. Take notes while you visit! You may want to bookmark this page because you’ll probably want to come back here often.

Gospel Words:

Justification by Arabah

Sanctification by Jen

Redemption by Rebekah

Reconciliation by Kathy

Regeneration by Marci

Atonement by Leah

Adoption by Kerry

Consecration by Kimberly

Sanctification

In the Old Testament, there is little mention of the word sanctification. In fact, the NIV doesn’t use that particular word at all, while the NASB mentions of sanctification refer to only a single Hebrew word “qadash” (kaw-dash’). Qadash mostly described objects which were “set apart” for use by God. These were not ordinary objects meant for everyday use, but special items such as those used in the tabernacle by the priests (ceremonial items, the ark of the covenant, etc.). Thus, qadash refers to the uncommon, those things or people (mainly priests) set apart strictly for the Lord.

In the New Testament, we see a different sort of sanctification. Two Greek words are used by both the NIV and NASB: hagiazo (hag-ee-ad’-zo),  the verb form which means to make holy or to sanctify, and hagiasmos  (hag-ee-as-mos’), the noun form which means sanctification or holiness.  Both words also relate to hagios (hag’-ee-os), the adjective form used to describe us as Christians.

In essence, to sanctify means to make holy.  However, the New Testament version of making holy describes a process, the process by which the common (mankind) is set apart and made uncommon!

Sanctification can be broken down into 3 P-words:

  1. Position – In Christ, we are considered sanctified before the Lord. We are already perfect, already uncommon, already complete because of Christ’s blood covering over us. When the Father looks at us, He sees not the work that still needs to be done; instead, He sees only the blood of his perfect Son. The work of positional sanctification takes place the moment we accept God’s free gift of forgiveness through His Son’s death on the cross in payment for our sins. So, for those of us who are in Christ, positional sanctification is in the past – it’s a work already accomplished.
  2. Progress – Although we are positionally perfect in Christ, realistically we know that sin keeps us from perfection. Thus, progressive sanctification refers to the process of growing in Christ-likeness. It is the present and continuing form of sanctification, that work in progress that I speak of so often here.  As we grow in Christ-likeness, His image reflected in us becomes more and more clear!
  3. Perfection – There is also a future component to sanctification. One day, when life on this earth ends for us, we will be made complete in Christ.  At that point in time, the work in progress will be finished!  Sin will mar us no more. We will bear the Father’s image perfectly, and the view God has of us on behalf of His Son will match our true character! Just imagine – no more struggling to do right, no more guilt, no more frustration with self!

How-Sanctification-Gives-Us-Hope, sanctification, set-apart, identity in Christ, preach-the-gospel-to-yourself-series, gospel words,

How does sanctification apply to everyday life? 

Romans 12:1-2 “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.  Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

While we know our position in Christ is secure, we recognize the need for continuing change, for progress.  We know we must be sensitive to the Holy Spirit so that we allow the Lord to mold us into His image.  Therefore, sanctification is a combination of our willingness to follow Christ in obedience and His powerful work in our lives to free us from sin.  According to the verses above from Romans, we offer our bodies and minds; God transforms them. The evidence of the sanctification process in us? The fruit of the Spirit. :)

This quote from J. I. Packer defines it well.

“God’s method of sanctification is neither activism (self-reliant activity) nor apathy (God-reliant passivity), but God-dependent effort (2 Cor. 7:1; Phil. 3:10-14; Heb. 12:14).”

The worst thing we can possibly do as Christians is to relegate our Redeemer to the work of salvation, yet bar Him from the work of sanctification. If we trust Christ for eternity, but not for the day to day, then we limit His power. We fail to find freedom and the abundant life He has planned for us.

My sisters, the power of Christ in us is real. His promise to make us into new creations is not just for some distant future when we become complete in Him, but it’s for today! Right now! Moment by moment.

Our Savior came to free us from sin, not just from the guilt of sin, but from sin itself.  This is the goal of sanctification – freeing us to become whom He meant us to be from the very beginning – His image bearers.

Perfect.

Holy.

Set-apart.

Uncommon.

So, we can claim the promise of my life verse, Phil. 1:6, which perfectly sums up the 3 P-words of sanctification. (Key verse to memorize!)

“[B]eing confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (emphasis mine)

He began the work (position); He carries it on (progress); He promises completion (perfection).

I’ve been reminded of this truth often this winter. There comes a time in the Midwest when the landscape becomes a palette of brownish gray dead things.  The grass is dead. The trees are dead. And unless there is fresh snow, the roads become ugly gray muck. At some point, it seems as if spring will never come.

But as I looked out our window the other day, I noticed a tree that was budding.  Even beneath the snow, you could see the slight redness of the buds. Although the tree looked dead, important work was taking place beneath the surface of what I first saw.

Growth.

And in several weeks, we will see the fully glory of that work when all of nature bursts forth in colorful re-birth.

Spring. New Life. Hope.

As I contemplated these things, the Lord reminded me of how often this scenario plays out in my own spiritual landscape.  At times, it seems my progress is stunted – there is too much “deadness” about me, too much sin.  I see only gray and become easily overwhelmed and discouraged.

But beneath the surface, He is doing important work in me. I may not see all of the fruits of sanctification yet, but they will come! And when they do, they will be glorious to behold!

So, the next time you feel overwhelmed by your own sin, stuck in a rut, doomed to failure – preach the gospel truth of sanctification to yourself.

“I am God’s work in progress. As such, I aim not for perfection but for imperfect progress (growth and transformation), only by the power of Christ in me. In the meantime, I trust His promise to carry that work to completion.”

This, my sisters in Christ, this is the hope of sanctification.

Jen :)

Sharing with: Grace and Truth, Wholehearted Wednesdays, The Homemaking Party

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Help for “Waist Watchers” ~ #GraceTruth Week 3

As soon as I saw the title of this post from Sarah Ann in the link-up last week, I knew I had to read it. I’m ever so glad I did because her words and the verses she shared encouraged me as I persevere in my health goals! Of course, after reading her post, I knew it had to be my feature for this week because it fits right in with the work the Lord is doing in my life lately. I think all women could benefit from what she has shared here, so be sure to stop by and visit Sarah Ann at Faith Along the Way this week.

 

Yesterday, I wrote about a setback I had in regards to my workout regimen. I’ve been slowly regaining strength and endurance, for which I am very thankful. I know the Lord is teaching me to persevere, my word for the year, even in this area – especially since my track record has not been great. As soon as I hit a road-bump in working out or weight loss, I tend to get frustrated and give up. By the grace of God, not this year!

I hope you all will join us for the link-up below and receive some encouragement. Next week we’ll announce the winner of our fabulous giveaway!

Jen :)

 

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Grace & Truth : A Weekly Christian Link Up

Grace & Truth exists to point people to Jesus! We hope this link-up will be a source of encouragement each and every week. If you’re a blogger our hope is that you’ll use this space as a way to meet new friends within the Christian blogging community. If you’re a reader our hope is that you’ll meet new bloggers that love Jesus just as much as you do! Most of all, we hope you’ll meet Jesus here.

Meet Your Hosts

 

Satisfaction Through Christ
BLOG
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Kaylene Yoder
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The Brown Tribe
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Arabah Joy
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A Divine Encounter
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Leah Adams
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Being Confident of This
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3.) Visit 1-2 other links and leave a meaningful comment! We want to encourage community, so please don’t link and run!

4.) All links are randomly sorted – feel free to link as early or as late as you’d like. The playing field is even!

In order to be featured next week:

5.) Grab a button or link back to encourage new linkers. This is not mandatory to participate, but is required to be featured.

6.) Each host will choose one link to feature and promote via their social media channels next week.

7.) By linking up you agree to allow the hosts to use your featured post image if you are chosen as a feature for next week.

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