Being Confident of This

Grace for the work-in-progress woman

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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Much Ado about Missions: Praying T.H.U.M.B.

We’ve reached  the third and final week of our Much Ado about Missions series – helping you develop a missions mindset in your home!  If you missed the Introduction to this series, you can view it here.  Also, if you need to catch up, you can find all of the posts listed under the weekly wrap-ups:  Week 1 (teaching missions in the home) or Week 2 (missions experiences for the whole family).

In our third week, we’re focusing on praying for the Nations.  I don’t know about you, but I often pray for unsaved friends and family members.  And since my husband is a pastor, I sometimes even remember to pray for the unsaved in our local community.  I also pray for our missionary friends and those we support.  However, one thing I very seldom remember to do is pray for the most unreached people groups of the world!

Today I’m going to share with you the T.H.U.M.B. method, borrowed (with permission) from some new missionary friends.  The T.H.U.M.B. method is unique because it focuses on praying for the largest unreached people groups according to specific prayer points based on the spiritual beliefs of those groups.

Much Ado about Missions, how tonpray for unreached people groups, praying for the lost using T.H.U.M.B. method

One important distinction to make is that unreached people groups aren’t simply unsaved people.  Unsaved people will always exist on earth until the end of time.  However, the Bible is clear that all nations must be reached with the gospel before Christ will return.  Unreached people groups are those who have literally no gospel presence.

It’s not just that they are unsaved, but that they also have absolutely no opportunity to learn of salvation! Whole generations of men, women, and children are being born, living, and dying without ever hearing of God’s provision in the form of Jesus.

As a follower of Christ, I would like to be more intentional about praying for these unreached peoples, that they might have the opportunity to hear the Good News for God’s glory!  My plan is to use the T.H.U.M.B. method and pray for one group each day of the week, Monday through Friday.  One apsect of T.H.U.M.B. that I love most is that it is so easy to remember!

Much Ado About Missions: Praying T.H.U.M.B., praying for unreached people groups, missions, the THUMB method of praying for the

T – Tribal groups – as you might imagine, these are people who live in remote locations, some only reachable by helicopter or boat or weeks of hiking.  They have their own languages, cultures, and spiritual beliefs.  Many tribal people live in fear of upsetting the spirits, beings they believe are responsible for the health of family members, the growth of crops, and so forth.  So, when bad things happen, it’s because the spirits are unhappy and must be appeased.  Often these beliefs lead to tragedies such as witch trials, ritualistic deaths, beatings and other brutality. These people live in oppressive spiritual darkness.

H – Hindus – Hindus worship many, many gods.  Therefore, one of the challenges missionaries and believers face in sharing the gospel with Hindus is differentiating between their gods and the One True God.  Sadly, Jesus can easily become just one more god that they add on.

U – Unbelievers in China – they cheated a little on this one to fit the acronym. 🙂  The unbelieving in China are over a billion strong!  One of the unique challenges faced by missionaries to this particular unreached people group is that because of the communist government, believers must be careful about how they share their faith.  China is not fully open to missionaries, so many believers enter as teachers, businessmen and women, and so forth. They work jobs while also trying to learn Chinese and develop discipling relationships with others.

M – Muslims – the Islam religion is spreading world-wide.  Muslims believe in only one god, Allah, but they believe that Jesus was merely a prophet, like so many other prophets.  The Islam faith rests on the pillars of Islam, many of which are based on “good works.” Like China, many parts of the Muslim world are still completely closed off to missionary presence.

B – Buddhists – There are various forms of Buddhism, but most Buddhists do not believe in a god or gods.  They do, however, follow the teachings of a man  named Buddha, who emphasized the need to understand self and the world in a more “enlightened” way.  While I don’t understand all of the Buddhist beliefs and practices, I do know that much of it is based on personal efforts.  Thus, the need for a Savior is a foreign concept.

For more information on the T.H.U.M.B. technique and its specific praying points, please visit Beyond the Bullingtons – the Bullington’s are nearing the end of their training to be church-planting missionaries with New Tribes Mission.

Much Ado About Missions: Praying T.H.U.M.B., praying for unreached people groups, missions, the THUMB method of praying for the

Why not make praying T.H.U.M.B. part of your daily or weekly prayer routine?  As your children, or even grandchildren, grow old enough to understand, you can teach them this acronym so that they might pray for the largest unreached people groups alongside you.

You might even consider praying for a different unreached group at a certain time of day, such as a mealtime or  bedtime.  The acronym is easy to remember, so why not connect it to an easy-to-remember time of day?  As I mentioned in the introduction to this series, nearly a third of the world’s total population remains unreached.  Praying is one way that we can all do our part!

How can you use the T.H.U.M.B. method in your home?

Jen : )

You may find me at any of these lovely blogs.

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It Was Ugly (A Five Minute Friday)

Five Minute Friday: Beautiful

It was ugly. There was a bee sting and disobedient children followed by a sudden realization that all was not well. Disappointment, frustration, harsh words, and fear all balled up into one, a wound ripped open in the midst of a beautiful day. It was the kind of deep wound that ruins any thought of fun or enjoyment. And the children were watching, and I felt stuck.

I didn’t want to go to the beach anymore. I didn’t want to spend another second within a five foot radius of him. I wanted to admit defeat, to go home and sob in my bed, alone. I wanted to rage against him and flail my fists and ask, “How could you??”

But the children were there, conspicuously quiet in their seats, and everyone was waiting for me. We could either go to the beach and hope for redemption or we could suffer in silence for hours on the drive home. I didn’t want to go, but I couldn’t leave either. A rock and a hard place. And the children were waiting in the backseats.
It was Ugly, how an argument threatened to ruin a beautiful day, how to recover when you feel stuck,  hope for redemption of a bad day

Silent tears fell, and an inward scream of, “It’s not fair!”  But it wasn’t fair for them, the innocents in the backseat, either.  And I knew he was sorry.  And I knew I should be sorry, too.

A war wages within, and I feel helpless to call a truce. Then a prayer, a pleading for mercy and forgiveness, a desperate cry for joy and peace rather than chaos.  Slowly, the tears dry up as peace floods my being.  He’s with us, our Comforter and Redeemer.  I’m ready now.

The walk to the beach is long, sandy dunes, and four year olds floundering in flip flops, and heavy bags filled with towels and clothing.  And I’m tempted to go back to the struggle, but I don’t.  Instead I focus on the prize, the joy that awaits on the other end, the fun I know we’ll have if we can just get there without falling to pieces.

The sun and the sand, the waves and the seagull calls, the laughter of children happy to be at peace, happy to run and dig and splash – they were all worth it, that sacrifice of giving in when I had the “right” to fight, that obedience to trust that He could bring joy in the midst of pain. He is powerful when we are helpless.

sandcastle

I pray that we won’t remember the ugly, that 15 minutes that threatened to ruin it all. I pray we’ll remember  instead the wild beauty of the dunes, the slippery feel of the clay on the lake bottom, the giant sandcastle that was bigger than any we’d ever built before, the laughter of buckets of water raining over unsuspecting heads, the rocks we collected, the look between just the two of us as we recognize our many blessings.

It was ugly.

And then it was beautiful.

Jen 🙂

Today I’m linking up with Lisa-Jo Baker for Five Minute Friday – where we write for five minutes on a word-prompt she gives us.  Stop by and check it out!

Also linking up at:

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A Blogger’s Prayer

This weekend marked the one month birthday of this blog, Being Confident of This.  It’s a blog I started, but I’ve decided not to call it my blog anymore because it really isn’t.  It’s God’s blog. The reason I say it’s His blog is because He’s done greater things for it in this short time than I could have ever imagined!

I’m happy to tell you that today “Being Confident of This” is being featured on two other blogs! Exciting! 🙂  My cousin, Angie, at http://www.angieknutson.com/ has been a huge help to me in my blogging journey this far.  She has a wealth of knowledge and has been kind enough to share it with me, in spite of her own busy schedule, on multiple occasions.  I really appreciate her support! Tomorrow she’ll be sharing a brand new post from me about how to handle dreary mornings, so stay tuned for that!!

So far, He’s used this blog to reach others, but even more, He’s used it to reach me.  How often do we set out in life to lead others, to teach them, only to realize we are being taught ourselves?  That’s how I feel about this whole blogging experience so far. 🙂

A Blogger's Prayer

So, here’s my prayer as I continue on in this journey:

I see what you did there, God.  I see how you used that post about Mary Moments in a Martha World to remind me that the best thing is spending time with you.  I see how the post about  being a Transformer convicted me to live out truth in love.  I see that the biggest flaw in our Sanity Saving Chore Charts is whether or not we as parents are consistent in our follow-up.

At the same time, Lord, I’m learning that I have to be careful with this blogging thing.  I heard my little boy the other day when he said I was spending too much time on the computer. I know I need to watch how much time I pour into this.  I have to find balance between my time with you and blogging and family and church.  It’s not easy, but I know You’ll help me.  I see now that it’s part of the process, part of that work in progress.

Father, I’m also learning that you just want me to be me and to trust You to give me the words to say.  When I try to create a fabulous post on my own – it flops. 🙂  When I trust You for the message, it soars.  I see how that works, God, and I’m trying to get out of the way so that You can use me.

I am the vine

I also see, Lord, the potential to find my worth in the numbers (now I know what my pastoring husband feels like!).  I don’t want numbers to be a measure of who I am.  I want who I am to be found in You alone.  Help me to be obedient to You in sharing the messages You give without worrying about how many people are visiting today, tomorrow, or the next day.  Help me to remember that the value is in the obedience to You.

Most of all, Lord, I want to remember that it was Your idea to create this blog, not mine!  Like anything else in my life, it ultimately belongs to You.  Help me to surrender that control!  Help me to remember that You can bring an audience all on Your own with no help from me.  I’m simply the vessel.  Make me a humble vessel.

Thank You, Father, for this amazing journey.

In Christ alone,

Jen 🙂

What is God teaching you lately?  If you feel free to share, leave a comment! 🙂

Also linking up at any of these lovely blogs.

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Peaceful Parenting (No Thanks to Pinterest)

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I’ll be honest, we’ve been experiencing some parenting problems in our home recently.  With four children, it’s bound to happen from time to time!  Our middle child is struggling socially at school since we moved last summer and has requested to home school this fall.  While I’m willing and capable of teaching him at home, we want to be certain it is the best solution for him.  We don’t want a temporary social issue to become a lifelong problem for him, so we are somewhat hesitant to let him withdraw.  On the other hand, he is highly intelligent, so perhaps being able to work at a quicker pace would allow him to better blossom and gain self-confidence.  Either choice is accompanied by both positives and negatives.

At the same time, one of our preschoolers has been demonstrating some very disrespectful behavior by grunting or growling when I attempt to correct him.  It’s basically the same thing as saying, “NO, Mom!” Part of the problem is that I wasn’t expecting such stubbornness to surface at the age of four!  What happened to my sweet two-year-old?  The one who was going to make it easy for me by skipping the terrible two’s altogether?  His new attitude feels much like a surprise attack, and I’m left floundering for some sort of defense!

We’ve tried various methods of correction: a gentle verbal reproach, a second chance to respond respectfully, some time alone to think about his behavior, even a consequence.  Although we’ve been consistently correcting his behavior, I’m often tempted to wonder if it’s really doing any good.  Continuing in our efforts to parent with Christ in mind is difficult when we are not seeing results.  What am I doing wrong?  What should I do differently?  Sometimes when we’re parenting, there is no clear right or wrong answer.

And this is where I struggle.  When I lack enough evidence or direction to declare one parenting choice as superior to another for our children and our family, I often worry that I’ll make the “wrong choice.” I can become obsessed with gathering information from various sources in an attempt to make an informed decision. Unfortunately, when I turn to parenting resources (even Christian parenting resources), I often find that they can contradict each other in the details.

In our “how-to” age, we can access a hundred different opinions or even tried-and-true techniques about any given subject.  Do you know how many different methods Pintrest lists for something basic like potty-training?  Throw a pee-pee party.  Let them go at their own pace.  Model the behavior using a peeing doll. Use a reward chart. Let them run around naked for a few days.  I even found a pin for a potty-training app!  Which one should a desperate parent choose??

peaceful parenting choice graphic

As a mother of four children (all potty-trained now, whew!), I know that all of these methods have some merit, but not a single one will work well with every child, every time.  Thus, a potential problem with looking to others for help is the tendency to see that repeatedly re-pinned, how-to post as “gospel-truth.”

As I was thinking about social media and how it has changed the way we parent, I wondered: what happened to relying on the Spirit to guide us?  What happened to prayer?  Shouldn’t it be the first on our list of things to do when parenting challenges us? I’ll be the first to admit that when I encounter a problem or challenge, I often run to other humans for wisdom first!  It’s natural to ask our peers for advice.  However, consider King Solomon’s humble request, “Give me wisdom and knowledge, that I may lead this people, for who is able to govern this great people of yours?” (2 Chron. 2:10).

You see, Solomon had some pretty big shoes to fill when taking over his father David’s kingdom.  How would you like to be next in line after the “man after God’s own heart?”  Solomon knew he lacked wisdom for leading. He also faced a huge project, the building of the temple! The temple would be a place of worship for generations to come, and the burden rested on Solomon’s shoulders.

Parenting is a little like that, isn’t it?  We know that the choices we make will affect not only our own children, but also our children’s children and even the generations to come.  Like Solomon’s task, our task is also great, for a whole world of lost people is at stake! The key is remembering who our children ultimately belong to.  Solomon recognized that He was given authority not over his OWN people, but over GOD’S people.  In the same way, as parents we’ve been entrusted with these beautiful beings, but they don’t really belong to us.  They belong to Him.  Like Solomon, we should ask Him for wisdom to lead them, His children.

Please hear me out; I’m not suggesting we exclude the advice of others. I really do enjoy Facebook, Pintrest, and other social media forums and have successfully used many ideas from other savvy moms (along with a few epic failures)! 🙂   I believe technology can be a wonderful tool for us sisters in Christ to share wisdom from the Lord. I firmly believe women are meant to teach and encourage one another in their Christ-centered living.  Titus and Timothy both address the blessings older, more experienced women have to offer to younger generations.  However, what I am suggesting is that we not forget the ultimate source of wisdom when it comes to parenting, or really anything in life – our Father God.

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In the midst of my parenting problems, I hear His voice.  Trust Me.  Ask ME for wisdom instead of asking others first. Be led by the Holy Spirit and by my WordAfter all, I am their Creator; who better to understand them and their needs, but me?  Persevere in your purposeful parenting and wait to see what happens.

I still don’t know how to best correct our four-year-old’s sudden defiance, nor do I know where our middle child will attend school this coming fall.  Both situations are works in progress. Perhaps what both require is simply more time.  However, I do know that in the midst of my uncertainty, I can trust Him.  He is in control. He knows my heart is in the right place.  He knows I want to be a peaceful parent, not one ruled by fear, or dare I even say, by Pintrest? 🙂

My sisters in Christ, if like me, you often feel confused by the wide variety of parenting styles, methods, and opinions out there, I hope today you hear His voice: trust in Me.  If you find yourself lying wide awake at night wondering, “What am I going to do with this child?!,” ask for wisdom.  And then sleep peacefully knowing that although your children have imperfect parents, they are perfectly protected in the hands of the Father.

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I’d love to hear from you, if you are willing to share!

What parenting issues are you struggling with lately?  What scriptures have you turned to for wisdom or  encouragement in parenting?

Jen 🙂

If pressure to be a perfect parent plagues you, you might enjoy:

107436d28e757e8b972839cfd80fcc8c

  You might also enjoy:

http://wegotreal.com/things-arent-always-as-they-seem/

Also linking up at:

http://abidingwoman.com/

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