Being Confident of This

Grace for the work-in-progress woman

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!

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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.;)

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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!

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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! 🙂

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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

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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.

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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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One Simple Way to Meet Your Goals

I’ll admit, I tend to resist goals.

My perfectionist nature resists setting a standard for fear that I might fail. It’s one of the reasons I had such a hard time finding my “one word.”

I don’t like to be wrong.

I don’t like to fall short.

But the flip side of that is never stretching myself, never reaching for something more, never giving myself a chance to succeed.

It’s not that I don’t have any goals for myself at all for; it’s just that I don’t often claim them, don’t voice them aloud, don’t share them with others, don’t hold myself accountable.  I’m guilty of keeping my goals general rather than specific because that makes them easier to meet.

However, this year I recognize the need to risk a little more, step out in faith while trusting in the God who is at work in us and promises to complete that work (Phil. 1:6).  I recognize the need to put some of the goals I hold in my mind and heart into actual words and to share them here with you all.

So, here goes – goals for 2015. 🙂

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One of my goals for the year is to do my part in restoring my health. I need more sleep. I need more exercise. I need to eat more balanced meals and to take in less sugar. This past month or so of illness has been eye-opening. I need to do these things in order to be healthy, but more importantly to honor the Father with my body, to walk in obedience with Him.

I’m not sure how to make those goals specific other than to say I aim to eat the recommended daily values of fruits and veggies and to also limit myself to those daily values in other areas where I tend to eat as I wish. I started using My Fitness Pal to help me keep track of both my activity and my eating habits.  I also aim to be in bed by 11 p.m. at the latest! Pray for me, sisters!

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Another goal for the year is to use my time more wisely through better planning.  Time management affects so many areas of my life, but to be specific, I plan to spend at least two mornings a week writing and working on this blog. Previously, I’ve squeezed writing in here and there, but I’m finding lately that if I don’t plan time to write, it just doesn’t happen. And then I lay awake at night with all of these great ideas and phrases and sometimes whole sentences or paragraphs swirling around in my mind. Anyone else? 🙂

I want to obey the Lord in best using this gift of writing. I don’t want to put that on hold unless He asks that of me, and lately He seems to be asking more in this area. So, I want to be faithful even if it means saying a firm “no” to other things that occupy my time.

Women everywhere understand this pull to be involved in ALL of the good things, but often in our attempts to do so, we miss out on the best things. Especially as a pastor’s wife, I’m learning that over-scheduling is rampant in our world and creates unnecessary stress. If I want the best for me and for my family, I have to learn to follow the Holy Spirit’s leading and not man’s wisdom. I make it my goal to please Christ.

“Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.”

Gal. 1:10

A final goal is to love my husband as Christ does.  It’s been a really tough year for both of us. The trials have been nearly constant and there is always the temptation to withdraw into oneself in order to survive the refining fires. But we cannot! For the sake of our marriage and our family, we must learn to suffer together, to support one another even when we already feel the weight of our own burdens. I see already how the Father is working that understanding into us, teaching us a better way. I know He will be faithful to complete the work in our marriage, as well.

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One practical way I can love my husband better is to consistently reach out to him, whether through words or actions or touch. I can hug and kiss him when he leaves for the day and when he comes home. I can look at him and ask him how his day was even if I’m busy when he comes in the door. My goal is to intentionally seek connection with him, to encourage him, and to help him feel loved – every day.

Whew!

When I read all of the words above, I am easily overwhelmed!  I see all of the flaws, the areas that need work. There are so many and I…I am only one. Do you feel that same lacking, sisters?  That same inadequacy?

However, the Father reminds me that I can accomplish these goals by doing one simple thing: abide in Him.

It’s true! If I focus on abiding in Him, I will be sensitive to His leading and these other areas of life will fall into place so much easier than if I try to work towards these goals all on my own.  If I get up with this long list of “must do’s” each day, I’ll be worn out and discouraged before lunchtime. But if I get up with the goal of abiding in Him and following His leading, I can be at peace. You can too!

It comes back to that work-in-progress truth, my sisters in Christ.

He promises.

And I believe Him.

Jen 🙂

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Welcome to the New Christian Living Link-up ~ #GraceTruth

I’m beyond excited to introduce you all to something that has been in the works for several weeks now. Faithful readers and Lofter buddies know that we’ve hosted a link-up called #TheLoft for some months now. Recently our hosting group was offered an opportunity to merge with quite a few other like-minded faith bloggers in a new, bigger weekly link-up. Although we’re sad to lose a little of the intimacy that a smaller group allows for, we are enthusiastic about the opportunities this new link-up brings for all faith bloggers.

So, without further ado, I invite you to join us for Grace & Truth, a weekly Christian link-up!

Jen 🙂

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.

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Satisfaction Through Christ
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The Brown Tribe
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A Virtuous Woman
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Reader Favorites ~ 2014

I’m so thankful for you, my faithful readers, my sisters in Christ (and let’s not forget the brothers, too).  You have made this space a friendly zone for sharing my most personal writings, and 2014 was just the year for it.  All year long, the Father has been challenging me to “Take Courage.” and having encouraging readers certainly helps me to do just that!

Often this space is mostly for me, a place to share what is on my heart, what I want to write about and hear about. But today I want to share YOUR favorites from 2014.  If you haven’t read these top posts before, just click on the individual pictures. Perhaps you’ll find a new favorite. 🙂

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Most time in the #1 spot:

marriage, Christian marriage, how to love an unloving spouse, feeling unloved, want to feel loved, loving a difficult spouse

“I’ll be honest. As a busy mom of four, I wrestle with this idea that God should be my sole supply. After all, God cannot help with the bedtime routine or sweep the kitchen or sign permissions slips or pay the bills, at least not in a physical sense.  I wrestle, too, with feelings of disappointment and unkind thoughts toward a husband whom I truly wish to respect.

So, how can I demonstrate love for my husband even when he’s not demonstrating love for me?”

Most comments in 2014:

confidence, fat girl insecurities, insecure, overweight, fat, trying to lose weight, obese, heavy, healthy body image, health

“I’ll never forget the first time I heard the word aimed at me.  He spewed it out like vomit, his eyes filled with disgust. “Fat,”  the boy accused me, and I believed it even though I wasn’t anywhere near “fat” back then.

I always was a…”

Runner-up for most comments in 2014:

That New Girl: Finding Confidence

confidence, finding confidence, that new girl, no condemnation, identity, loving yourself, identity in Christ, self-acceptance, imperfect progress

“Sin temporarily hijacks our child-of-God identity, the world teaches us that we will never be enough, and the pride and insecurity of self often confirms the lies. But the truth, sisters, the amazing truth is that we don’t have to be enough because He is already everything for us. It’s this Christ-confidence that sets us free!”

Most comments of all (even though it’s from 2013):

marriage, imperfect progress, perfectionism, grace, through my grace-colored glasses, work in progress

“Last night I had a little run-in with Perfectionism again.  He just won’t leave me alone.

He follows me wherever I go, pointing out flaws in my house-keeping, my parenting, my marriage relationship, even my walk with the Lord… He whispers lies to me: “you’ll never change” or “you’re never going to be good enough” or “why even bother anymore.”

I’ve been enslaved by his words before, but last night was different…”

The Top 5 written in 2014:

#1

big list of energetic indoor fun, high-energy kids, boys with energy, stuck indoors, cabin fever, school break, I'm bored, kids bored, get energy out

Are the kids driving you crazy? Do your boys have too much energy to stay cooped up indoors? Need a cure for cabin fever?  Is the weather outside frightful?  This huge list of ideas for expending pent-up energy while stuck indoors will help you stay sane!

#2

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For moms, dads, Sunday School teachers, homeschooling families, Children’s Church leaders and anyone else who works with little ones – here’s how to help them hide the Word away in their hearts.

#3

dollar store deals, cheap homeschool supplies, early childhood education, preschool, toddler, preschooling with dollar store deals, what to buy at the dollar store for homeschool

This isn’t just a list of what to buy for the littles at the dollar store. It’s also a list of how to use the items you buy!  Great deals + great activities=happy learners.

#4

Saving money on kid's clothes, clothing budget, frugal, stewardship, single income family, clothing budget, tight budget, saving money, frugal living

This is part one of two posts on how to save money when buying clothes for a large family.  With three boys and one girl in the house, our tight budget really gets stretched when it comes to purchasing clothes and shoes for the kids. Over the years, I’ve learned quite a few tricks for working within our small clothing budget to make the most of it.

#5

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Kid-friendly Advent with Free Printables!  I created these as a companion to the Christmas ADVENTure Box that we do each year as an advent activity with our children. Our boys especially love the adventure aspect of it.  It’s an easy, flexible way to keep Christ in Christmas!

Thanks for making 2014 a great year for Being Confident of This!  And even though this isn’t a reader favorite (yet!), I want to leave you with one last post as you head into the new year. It’s close to my heart and really sums up what this year has been about for us.

Courage to Face a Giant

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Take Courage in the new year, my sisters!

Jen 🙂

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Courage to Face a Giant

Have you ever asked the Father for something big, something miraculous, and been so afraid that He might choose to say no that you avoid His presence altogether?

I have.

So you hide away, like the original sinners amongst the leaves in the garden, and when He calls, you cower because what if you don’t like what He has to say?  What if you don’t have the courage to face what’s coming?

Yeah, that’s me lately.

Courage, fear, cowering, hiding, avoiding

You feel this yearning to give in and stumble to His arms, yet your stubborn heart resists with questions like why? and right now?

My sisters in Christ, have you ever felt like David before Goliath,  wondering what happened to your army, praying for the courage to “fight the good fight” even if it means you’re doing it alone?

Yeah, that’s me, too.

And perhaps, like me, you feel more than a little lonely standing there with your simple slingshot in hand. Maybe you long for a superhero sidekick or two…or three.

As you stand there, wind in your face, jeers wafting through the air from the Enemy’s camp, you hear a still small voice speak, “Courage!”

“Take Courage, my daughter.”

That’s the message I’ve been receiving from the Father all year long.

He’s been sending it to me a million different ways. Through a Beth Moore simulcast.  Through Bible Study.  Through a talk He had me prepare for a MOPS group. Through prayer and quiet time.  Through facebook posts and pintrest pins… you name the method – He’s used it.

At times I’ve soared gloriously on that message, that promise.  Other times I find myself a doubting Thomas, looking for evidence, asking for proof.

And I keep looking for rescue to come in human form, but He tells me, “Courage.”

Galations 1:1-0

 For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ.

At first, I thought He meant the message for me in one specific area – that of pursuing writing and speaking.  But after a while I began to see that Courage applies to so many other areas of my life – marriage, parenting, trusting God, finances, and lately… well, this potentially life-changing  Giant.

Here’s the thing I’m learning about Courage, sisters: it’s not supposed to come from me or you or any human source.

Surprised? I was.

When you search for the word Courage in the Old Testament, you often find it used in connection with the phrase “be strong,” especially in the early years of Joshua’s leadership.

Keep in mind that Joshua was new in his leadership role, and he had some big shoes to fill. I mean, who wants to follow Moses, the man with the burning bush experience and the credit of leading the Israelites out of slavery?!

In addition, Joshua faced the enormous task of leading the people of Israel to conquer the Promised Land – hooray, right?!  Well, sure that sounds good after wandering in the desert an extra forty years, but something I didn’t realize until this year is that the Promised Land wasn’t empty.

No.

The Promised Land was filled with “giants” and well-fortified cities.  Joshua faced this very land.  No more Moses to look up to and learn from.  He was flying on his own set of wings now with a seemingly impossible task lying before him.

I’m sure Joshua was afraid. I’m sure he wasn’t completely certain that he was up to the task.

I’m positive because the Lord reassured him again and again in the first chapters of Joshua that He would be with Joshua.  He commanded Joshua four times to “be strong and courageous” in the first chapter alone!

And I’ve realized something about myself this year: I’ve taken the world’s view on Courage – you know, chin up, man up, just do it, what’s the worst that can happen, and all of the other sentiments we use to get past fear.

Maybe you have taken that view, too, without even realizing it.

But that’s just not God’s view, my sisters;  that’s not what He’s telling Joshua. It’s not what He’s telling me or you, either. Because when you look up the Hebrew for “strong and courageous,” you find both words or phrases (be strong, take courage) linked back to the Hebrew root “chazaq”  (pronounced khaw-zak’).

Last year I wrote about that root, but I was more focused on waiting patiently.

This year He’s telling me, “Take Courage!”

We must take it, you see, because “chazaq” doesn’t come from any human source. No, chazaq comes from a supernatural act: as in David’s triumph over Goliath, as in Samson pushing down the pillars, as in angel armies going before Joshua as he led the Israelites in battle for the Promised Land.

Don’t you see? The courage comes from Him, sisters!  He doesn’t expect us to muster courage up within ourselves. He offers it from His very nature, for our taking!

courage quote, fail or succeed, take courage in the Lord, be strong and courageous

It’s true. We’re destined to succeed in whatever He sets before us when “chazaq” comes into play.

So, I’m asking for some BIG things right now, Father.  And I’m a little afraid, so I’ve been hiding out, avoiding your Presence.  Hiding has only served to leave me feeling lonely and a little bit miserable. But like my friend Arabah Joy wrote, I’m asking for “rain” and I’m taking my umbrella with me.  I know I’m lacking in the courage department right now and the fear seems to be winning a little bit.  But I hear you say, “Courage, daughter,” and I know that means that You’ve got this. Chazaq – it’s Your Courage, not mine.

It’s Your battle, not mine.

Suddenly that giant doesn’t seem so big.

And I’m crying, but I’m grinning, too, ‘cause I’ve missed you, Father.

I’ve missed you.

Joshua 1:9

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lordyour God is with you wherever you go.

I hear Him whisper Courage to me, and to you, too, sister.

Do you hear it?

Jen 🙂

Sharing with: #TheLoft, Cornerstone Confessions, Rich Faith Rising, Missional Women, Jennifer Dukes Lee/Tell His Story, Work in progress Wednesdays,

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When Gratitude Comes Hard

It’s Five Minute Friday once again, where we gather at Lisa-Jo Baker’s place and free-write for five(ish) minutes on a one word prompt. This week the word is Grateful. Join us if you like!

Grateful, gratitude, hard times, motherhood

Some days the gratefulness comes easy like those lazy days of summer when the sunlight lingers and the breeze flutters warm and balmy. No deadlines looming on the horizon. No crazy schedule. Those are the days when the kids frolic outdoors like all of the Wild Things that they are. We’re happy and healthy and carefree.

On other days, the story isn’t quite so bright.  The winter lingered a little too long and leftover cabin fever rules the day.  Laundry piles up in one messy mountain, and the littlest boy who’s been potty trained for more than a year now, wets himself not once, not twice, but three times in one day for some unknown reason.

These are the days when children bicker and whine and complain, and we find ourselves unable to help them because the bickering and whining and complaining is going on in our hearts, too.

But in Lysa Terkeurst’s book, Unglued, I read about turning that attitude into gratitude, and I know it can be done.  Because who wouldn’t feel grateful for a healthy child, or food in the fridge, or soft beds to sleep in?

So even when the gratitude comes hard and we must dig deep to find the good in our day, it still comes. It still comes.

And I’m so grateful.

Grateful for grace and the promise of a God who will never give up on me, never quit working in my life (Phil. 1:6).

Grateful for the blessing of a Mom (and Dad) who love the Lord and taught me the truth of salvation.

Grateful for a house full of rowdy, messy children who simultaneously make my days exhausting and wonderful.

Grateful for 15 years wedded to a man who continues to seek the Lord and love me even when life gets a little crazy.

And for so many other things,

I give thanks.

No more attitude, just gratitude.

Because He is good.

All the time.

Jen 🙂

You may find me sharing at any of these lovely places or here:

Christian Mommy Blogger, Missional Women, My Freshly Brewed Life,

Beauty Through Imperfection, Managing Your Blessings

 

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Truth, Opposite of Lie

“If you can’t say anything nice, then don’t say anything at all,” right?  Maybe not. For Five Minute Friday, Lisa Jo asked us to write about the word truth. Honestly,I don’t have any great new truths to share with you today, just an old truth that I need to hear over and over again.  It’s part of that work-in-progress me, I guess.

I like the words on this blog to be uplifting, but this week I’m not in an uplifting place.  Instead, I find myself in a let’s-be-honest, sometimes-life-stinks place.  I know you understand because sometimes you find yourself there, too.  And I’m learning to be okay with that.

So, here’s the truth, even though it might not be very nice.

Truth.

This is the week that never ends.

The one when my husband and I cannot seem to get along. 😉

The one when I feel so worn down by life that even simple, everyday chores like laundry and caring for children seem to carry such weight.

And I feel like such a whiner for even writing those words because I know, I know, I know the truth, the truth that so many people have it so much worse, and that I… I live a blessed life in many, many ways.

It’s just that this week has left me feeling so discouraged and lonely and needy, and it’s just not me!

It’s a lie, this feeling that I’m stuck, that life will always be difficult this way, that I can’t……

That’s the biggest truth and biggest lie all wrapped up in one, isn’t it?

I can’t.

The statement is true in a sense.  On my own, I can’t.  On my own, the strength is gone, the patience is gone, the desire to do right is gone.  On my own, I want to bury my head in the sand and stay there waiting for better tomorrows.

But “I can’t” is also a lie because I’m not on my own.  I’m in Christ.  And in Christ, I am more than a conqueror.  That’s right – more, sisters!  In Christ, I am already victorious.  In Christ, I am also fully loved, fully accepted, fully provided for, fully complete.

In Christ alone, my Hope is found.

In Christ Alone, hope, encouragement

Truth.

It’s the opposite of the lies I’m tempted to listen to.

In Christ, I can.

And it comes down to my choice, and your choice. Which one will we give ear to today?

I pray it’s truth.

Jen 🙂

Love this music from Mandisa for a boost!

I’m linking up with the Five Minute Friday crew over at Lisa Jo’s place, where we free-write for five minutes on a one-word prompt – no stressing, no over-thinking, no planning, no editing.  Join us!

You may also find me linked up at any of these lovely blogs.

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How to Love When You Feel Unloved

In the spirit of truth-sharing, I’ll tell you that being the wife I am called to be is my weak area, my Achilles heel. I never feel so much like Paul in Romans 7, battling with the flesh, as when marital issues arise. How can I love my husband when I myself feel so unloved? Often Satan and sin have me so ensnared that I even become confused as to what “right” really is.
How to love when you feel unloved, Christian marriage, difficult marriage, feeling unloved

Lately I’ve been reminded of this weakness as our marriage is under extra strain.  I could make excuses.  Truthfully, the pressure just brings forth what is already there, lurking beneath the surface, waiting for the perfect opportunity to rise up.  Like many married couples, we tend to get caught up in the cycle of an argument that’s been played out time and time again.  And that can be so frustrating!  Revisiting those same issues makes us feel like failures, trapped by the past, stalled in our progress.

marriage, troubled marriage, feeling unloved, encouragement for marriage

But I’m not satisfied with a marriage that’s merely okay, and I mean that in the best of ways, I really do.  I desperately want to grow ever closer to the type of intimacy God intended for us  to experience as man and wife. I don’t want to be fatalistic or resigned in my outlook, even though I may feel that way at times.  Because if I settle for “this is as good as it gets,” then where is my hope in the God who transforms souls, including my own?

Marriage is hard work, just like parenting is hard work.  If it were easy, we would not be challenged to grow!  Marriage teaches me things about myself that I loathe: how selfish I am, how easily offended, how weak and needy.  But unless I see the truth of where I stand, what chance do I have to move on from that spot?

By far the most difficult times in our marriage occur when we are both bearing unusual burdens that slowly wear us down, burdens like extended illness, or financial stress, or parenting issues, or major decisions, or unpredictable catastrophes.  We’re both weak.  We’re both worn and frayed.  We’re both longing for rest.   You’ve been there before, I’m sure – those times in life when you both feel like you need a good long vacation from reality.  🙂

As much as I’d like to blame our marital strife on my husband’s inadequacies, I know the issues at hand aren’t his alone.  We’re called to be sacrificial in our love for one another, but when I’m already at the end of my rope, I often feel there is nothing left to give.   I become selfish; I withhold kindness.  I justify.  How can I lift my husband up when I can barely lift myself up, Father?

Sacrificial Love, marriage, how to love, feeling unloved, hope

I have a feeling I’m not alone in this, this desire we wives have to be rescued by our husbands when the going gets tough.  This desire to have men of strength come charging in to save the day. This desire to let ourselves be the weak ones for once.  This desire to feel protected and cherished and cared for.  Because for all of our outward strength (and we mamas are masters of disguise), we often harbor needs that remain hidden.

The problem is that in wishing my husband would take on that role of Rescuer, I’m asking him to fill a space only our Father God can truly fill.   When I ask him to fill up that empty space, I’m asking to be disappointed.  My husband is imperfect.  Sometimes he lets me down, as I do him.  Sometimes he needs a Rescuer just as I do.  Sometimes he is weak.  He is only human after all.  My desire for him to be what even I cannot is quite unfair, isn’t it?

I’ll be honest. As a busy mom of four, I wrestle with this idea that God should be my sole supply. After all, God cannot help with the bedtime routine or sweep the kitchen or sign permissions slips or pay the bills, at least not in a physical sense.  I wrestle, too, with feelings of disappointment and unkind thoughts toward a husband whom I truly wish to respect.

So, how can I demonstrate love for my husband even when he’s not demonstrating love for me?  How do I overcome the seeming injustice so that I can be the wife after God that my heart desires to be?  How can I be so filled with the Spirit, with the Father’s love for my husband, that I have a constant and abundant supply to give?

Honestly, I have no clear answers. I have only ideas, inklings of what it takes.  Prayer would be a good start.  Telling God where I’m really at, even if it’s ugly.  Letting Him know how unfair it feels, how hurt I am, how afraid.  Asking Him to bring light to the Enemy’s lies, lies about how it will never change, about how it never has changed, about how you’re stuck.  They are Satan’s favorite lies. You’re trapped in this loveless marriage forever! He’s unfair!  He doesn’t appreciate you!  You shouldn’t have to put up with this! (I think Satan might be the biggest drama queen of all.)

Fear versus Trust

Praying for supernatural intervention helps.  God can change my husband’s heart, as well as my own, quicker than an hours-long “discussion.”  He can give me a supernatural love for my man, something that is not naturally “in me.”  He can help me see the truth in the situation and  who my husband is in the Father’s eyes, a dearly beloved son.

The Father can melt my stubbornness, soothe my anger, hold my hurt, and forgive my sin, too.

He can remind me of how big my husband’s shoes are, how broad his shoulders.  He can help me see clearly the load that often sits there and understand why my man sometimes stumbles beneath it.

When I see that truth, who my husband really, truly is at heart, I’m overwhelmed by compassion and ashamed by my traitorous thoughts.  I may not feel any stronger.  I still desperately need rescuing.  I may even carry wounds from the wrestling.  But at last I see that we two are the same: lonely, weary hearts in search of love and acceptance and a Rescuer.

You’re tired?  Me, too.  You want to escape from life right now?  Me, too.  You feel inadequate?  Me, too. You hurt?  Me, too.

Instead of being angry with my hubby for failing to rescue me, we can turn hand in hand to the Father, the One who rescues us both.

This is how we love, sisters, by gazing into the face of Love Himself.

Greater Love has no man than this…

And so we stand, my husband and I, in the face of Perfect Love.

Side by side.

Fear washed away.

Compassion in our eyes.

Forgiveness on our faces.

Wearing our Grace-colored glasses.

Because we serve the God of all Hope!

We’re merely works in progress here on Earth.

But we are not alone.

And this is not our home.

Jen 🙂

When do you feel strain in your marriage the most?  How do you take it to the Lord?

You may find me linking up at any of these lovely places. 🙂

You can find more great posts on marriage here:

For the Wife Who Doesn’t Feel Like Celebrating Love

6 Ways to Stir Up Love in a Difficult Marriage

Life in Grace

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