Movement in the Silence

One song can change a moment, one idea can change a world, one step can start a journey, but a prayer can change the impossible. -Unknown

I was recently reminded that the God that holds the universe together, is also working in the smallest of details in our lives.

After meeting a girl years ago, she & I were recently reconnected. I step back & look at all the details & elements that caused our paths to cross again & the fingerprints of God are obvious. She & I had no idea that we would ultimately become so close after only spending a couple hours together many years ago. I know God is doing this in every situation of our lives whether we’re aware of it or not; whether we can see it or not.

There are prayers that I have prayed for months- even years, but have not yet seen anything change. After a while I begin to feel discouraged when I don’t see all the loose ends tied up. I know that the Lord hears me, but if I’m completely honest, I get frustrated sometimes when I can’t physically see Him working. I want everything to come together perfectly, in my timing. Put it in a box, tie a pretty little bow around it & call it answered.

But I’ve realized something. If I have faith that God hears me & is working, then the silence I feel just means He is patiently orchestrating details behind the scenes where I cannot see. I could try to force random pieces of a puzzle together, but it would not look anything like it was meant to. It takes time, patience & knowing what that puzzle was created to look like. Only God himself knows that about our lives.

May we never confuse silence for idleness. We can be confident in the fact that God is moving, even in the silence.

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for & assurance about what we do not see.
Hebrews 11:1

Casually crossing someone’s path today could bring about a strong friendship years from now. A decision we made months ago could lead to an extraordinary opportunity today. A loving word spoken to someone could eternally impact that person’s heart. These things happen because He is in our every situation, every detail & every breath.

He is arranging every moment of our day to complete a beautiful masterpiece of our lives. It would seem to me that a perfect God would not want to dirty His hands in the messy details of our imperfect lives. But He does. And the reason He does is almost too great to comprehend.

He LOVES us.

He loves YOU.

He is in the midst of your situation & He is working.

He isn’t blindly grabbing at unpredictable details to put them together & attempt to make some sort of sense of them. No, His fingerprint & sovereign grasp is on every element & He is lovingly holding & using them to bring you good. He is bringing you closer to His heart & directing your feet to step into the greatness of your destiny.

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

Precious friend, even though you cannot see or understand everything that is going on, be confident in knowing that your God does. He has strategically placed you where you are. He has set you among the people you know for a reason. He is walking with you through this situation & He is working it for your good.

He sees you. He is right there with you. He delights in you. And He is tying it all together to wrap His goodness & love oh-so-tightly around you.

I declare my God as faithful.

Golden Idols and Felt Boards

Golden Idols and Felt Boards

prayWhenever I hear the word “idol” I always get two images in my head. The first image, I have to thank my Sunday school teachers for.  Thanks to the felt visuals displayed on our felt board, I will always associate “idol” with a golden, felt calf. But that’s a whole different story.

The second thing I always think about when I hear that word “idol” is someone worshipping something other than our God. It is almost always a “bad” idol that I am thinking about.

And of course, I do not have idols in my life. I’m a good Christian. There are no golden, felt calves in my house. No sir.

But I heard something interesting this week. And it’s challenging me like crazy.

Are you ready for it?

Idols are usually formed from good things.

Did you catch that? Things that we can make into “idols” are usually not bad in and of themselves. This makes it a little more difficult to identify them, because after all, they’re good, wonderful things…on their own.

Now I don’t know about you, but I was perfectly comfortable placing all the ugly, dirty, obviously wrong things in the “idol” box. I could happily look in that box and say, “Nope. I haven’t put any of those bad things above God. I’m good. No idol here.”

But just because I don’t physically bow down before something that is obviously bad or chant in front of it or intentionally place it above God, doesn’t mean I’ve set God at the absolute highest and rightful place in my life. Or in my heart.

So how do we know whether or not we have created an idol out of something or someone?

Before this week, I would have thought an easy way to figure that out would be to ask the question, “Well, what are you living for?”

But I’ve been challenged this week to ask myself a different question. I shouldn’t ask myself what I’m living for, but ask myself, “What am I most afraid of losing?”

The answer to that question reveals where my value, heart and life are held.

Ouch. Did anybody else feel the sting of that question?

“What am I most afraid of losing?”

Another interesting telltale sign of identifying an idol is looking at the areas of our lives that we have uncontrolled emotions in. What or who are those emotions directed at? Once we identify that, we can probably agree that too much of our heart, value and life is being held in that thing or person.

Financial stability
Success in a career
Spouse
Family
Physical beauty
A relationship
Control
Social status
Life plans
Marriage

The list is endless. Do you see how all of these things are not bad things? They’re good things. Things we should love and value…but not idolize. Even when an idol is created out of a good thing, it’s still an idol. And an idol will always, always break our hearts.

No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other….”
Luke 16:13

Lord, please reveal areas of my life that I am holding closer to my heart than you. Show me the people and relationships that I’ve allowed to hold my value, heart and life. And as You reveal these things, please fill those places with Your truth! May I place You, my Savior, above every one else and my Salvation in You above every thing else! You are the one, true God worthy of my praise, affection, energy and attention! You are holy and anything other than You is counterfeit and temporary. In Jesus’ name, Amen!

But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him.
John 4:23

To Love, Cherish and…Honor?

“Wives, honor your husbands.”

We know we should honor our husbands, but what exactly does that look like?

I know that’s a pretty loaded question. There are countless ways to honor our husbands & I think each one can look just as different as each marriage. But in every way that we can honor our husbands, there is common thread running through the middle of them all. And it’s respect.

Honor is defined as “regard with great respect.” There are numerous Bible verses like Ephesians 5:33 instructing husbands to love their wives & for wives to honor their husbands.

However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.
Ephesians 5:33

This verse reveals the core need that each of us has within our marriages. That’s not to say that husbands don’t need love or wives don’t need respect. But men & women are wired differently & generally speaking, women thrive when they’re loved & men thrive when they’re respected.

Nearly ½ of marriages, both in & out of the church, end in divorce. Why aren’t we, as Christians, following God’s words regarding our marriages? It was God that, you know, created marriage. Maybe He knows a thing or two about what it should look like & how to keep it functioning correctly. Right?

Please know this before I go on: I’m sharing this with you as I look in the mirror. There is not one ounce of judgement or condemnation in my heart as I write this. In fact, I’m overflowing with love for you, my sisters. My words come from a very tender & intimate spot of my heart. I’ve been in a place of frustration, confusion & isolation. I’ve felt the sting of hopelessness. I’ve endured that hurt. It wasn’t for years & years like some of you, but I have been there for a significant amount of time & understand things are complicated & there’s no 1, 2, 3 fix for some things. But I have experienced the restoration, healing & joy that God can bring back into a marriage through living out love & respect to one another. And it is from that beautiful place that I am sharing this with you.

There have been times where my husband & I have felt like we were on completely very different pages…even in different books. Lines of communication were being tangled up with emotions, senses of entitlement, a lack of patience for each other & just plain frustration.

I would think to myself, “It’s hard to communicate with you when I don’t feel loved.” I knew my husband loved me, but feeling disconnected with him emotionally drained the feelings of being loved, cherished & important. I felt like he needed to put the issue & his point of view aside & make sure I was feeling valued & heard. I wanted him to put himself in my shoes, see my perspective & stop holding onto his opinion so tightly. Even if I didn’t deserve it, I needed my need for feeling loved to come before the issue at hand.

But what I kept hearing from him was, “I need to feel respected. It’s hard to communicate with you when I feel like you don’t care about what I say or when I feel like I’m being degraded or disrespected.”

It took A LOT of effort to retrain ourselves & be intentional about how we communicated with each other. It took prayer, it took outside assistance & it took willingness & commitment from the both of us. I realized that as I was asking him to make my need to feel loved, even during a disagreement, a higher priority then making his point, he was basically asking me to do the same thing. But I wasn’t giving it to him. Because my selfish, self-entitled nature was telling me that I was right & that my opinions & needs should come first, I didn’t want to “give in” first. But when there’s 2 people involved, that doesn’t work. And if that cycle isn’t broken, it will drag us down into a very miserable, lonely, unhealthy pit.

The saying, “if you both try to win an argument, you’ll both lose” sums it up perfectly. It’s not about winning or being right. It’s about working TOGETHER & finding a solution TOGETHER. Aren’t we glad that we are able to receive grace, mercy & salvation – all of which we don’t “deserve”? I know for myself, it’s easy to take something good that I don’t deserve, but far more challenging to give it out when I feel the other person is undeserving. But that is the heart of Jesus & we are called to emulate it, not only when it’s easy or deserved.

Being aware of & sensitive to each other’s needs has changed the way my husband & I communicate. Instead of being right, we try to put our pride aside & truly hear the other person. If we can’t see eye to eye on an issue (which is totally ok & happens most of the time! Welcome to marriage!) then we try to find a mutual ground & compromise to land on. It may not be 100% the way we each want it as individuals, but it’s exactly what we need together, in our relationship & marriage. We have by no means perfected this & probably never will. We still mess up & say things we shouldn’t have. But overall, we are trying. And I know that it will be a lifelong process with many opportunities to practice this.

Our husbands want…no, need to feel strong, capable & respected.

The many forms that honor takes are too vast to list, but here are a few things that honoring our husbands is not. It is NOT:

– embarrassing him in front of other people

– tearing him down to friends

– complaining about him to family

– degrading him through Facebook statuses

– saying hurtful things to his face because he “deserves” it or hurt my feelings first

– threatening to leave or divorce him

– telling him he isn’t a good provider/husband/father to intentionally wound him

– saying your marriage was a mistake

– making him sleep on the couch or withholding sex as a punishment

(These are all important, but PLEASE understand that this last one, is not as harmless as most wives think it is. Guard your husband! Especially if he is in a vulnerable or discouraged state of mind, guard him! The perversion & sin of this world will welcome him & promise to fill his need to feel desired & respected. But it will devour him whole. This is a slippery slope that can lead to things that will ultimately damage you both even further! Guard him even when you don’t like him. The stakes are too high.)

If your marriage is in a place of brokenness or frustration, can I just say how sorry I am that you’re in that place? It’s not a pretty place to be. It can feel isolating & hopeless. But it’s not. I promise! If you haven’t already, I encourage you to find a godly pastor or person at your local to church to talk to. Most churches will do this for free. Sometimes we just need a godly, outside perspective to create more balance & give us clarity so we can figure out which steps to take towards healing & restoration. We all need someone to talk to, so find that handful of “safe” people that will fight for your marriage with you. But keep it limited to just them. There’s a huge difference between seeking support from godly people & sharing tender, personal information with the entire world. One is constructive the other is destructive.

I don’t wait to take my car in when I’ve driven it into the ground, the tires have fallen off & it won’t drive anymore. I consistently go in to have the oil changed, get a tune up & have the tires rotated. If I take this much preventative care to maintain my car, why wouldn’t I do the same with my precious marriage?

Getting counseling or asking for godly advice does NOT mean you’re failing in your marriage. It means you’re FIGHTING for it! And that my friend, takes heart, energy & time. And it is admirable & beautiful. Every marriage has their “stuff”. I promise you that. It’s how we handle those issues that matter. One of the most tragic things we can do is judge someone for reaching out for help in their marriage, or individually. I greatly admire any couple who goes for counseling regardless of whether or not they have an issue they’re trying to resolve or are just getting a tune up!

Dear sister, you are loved & treasured beyond your wildest imagination! I rally behind you to fight for your marriage!! And as always, feel free to contact me if I can pray for specifics with you or help direct you to resources that might be helpful.

Just remember- it’s one action, one word, one opportunity at a time.

Be blessed & know – our God is FAITHFUL in your marriage.