If you’re in the pit of despair…

In your marriage and in all your relationships, you will face challenges.  In response to those challenges, we often wring our hands in despair, get mad at God, sink into depression, lash out at people around us, get really grouchy, and on and on.  We act as if we’re surprised that we’ve encountered heartache and trials.  Well, here’s a news flash for you.  Trouble is normal and to be expected.  After all, Jesus says in John 16:33 “In this world you will have trouble“.  Drat.

However, God has a plan to do something wonderful in the middle of our challenges…if we decide to move out of despair and self-pity.  God wants to teach us something.  He doesn’t waste any opportunities for our personal growth!  In the middle of our suffering, God gives us the choice to either wallow in depression or contemplate what He might be trying to teach us.  Romans 5:3-5 sums this up well: “We also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.  And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”

The choice is yours.  You can stay mired in despair if you want to, or you can anticipate a time of great personal growth and shaping of your character.  Could God be teaching you patience, or perhaps teaching you to be courageous in confronting abuse, or maybe teaching you to help and comfort others who share a similar heartache?  Maybe the Lord simply wants to teach you to draw even closer to Him and to trust in Him completely.

Maybe the Lord is planning to answer your prayers in a way that will blow your mind!  When I’m in a time of discouragement or challenge, I like to give my concern to God in prayer and then encourage myself by saying this…”I can’t wait to see what God is going to do!!!”

3 Bible verses that heal insecurity

Most women are plagued by insecurity.  As a result of our insecurity, we end up putting up with rude or abusive behavior from others.  Our insecurity leads up to covet what other women have.  Our insecurity prompts us to put other people down so we look better in comparison.   When we are drowning in insecurity, we tend to expect a man to be the “answer”.  We seek and catch a husband and then expect him to make us feel better about ourselves by constantly telling us that we’re beautiful, desirable, smart, funny, intelligent, etc.   However, husbands are imperfect themselves, and something could happen to take them away from you!  Therefore, a husband can’t be a reliable source of security for you.

I believe we would benefit by frequently meditating on 3 particular Bible verses.  They are great reminders of how God sees us and who He is to us.  The first one is a reminder that He loves us and even delights in us!  This verse portrays the picture of a loving father tenderly cradling his daughter in his arms.  Here is the verse.  Zephaniah 3:17  “The Lord your God is with you.  He is mighty to save.  He will take great delight in you.  He will quiet you with His love.  He will rejoice over you with singing.”   Close your eyes and picture God smiling at you as he holds you.  Hear him whispering those words to you.  Ah. So good. 

The second verse reveals that God is our loving father, so even if your own parents have let you down, God will remain faithful!  Psalm 27:10  Even if my father and mother abandon me, the Lord will hold me close.   God will never leave you!  This makes me feel so much more secure.  And the third verse reveals God as our husband and protector.  Isaiah 54:5 For your Maker is your husband— the Lord Almighty is his name.  Wow! The maker of heaven and earth, the commander of heaven’s army of angels is your husband.  Relax.  He will take care of you.  Yes!

** or view this topic as a 2 minute VIDEO BELOW

A simple challenge for wives

When’s the last time you said it?  You probably think I’m asking about the last time you told your husband “I love you”, but that’s not where I’m leading.  My question is this:  When is the last time you admitted to your husband that you were wrong?  We like to pretend as if we’re never “wrong”, but that’s not only prideful, it’s not true!

Think about it.  Have you been disrespectful toward your husband by rolling your eyes or by using cutting sarcasm?  Have you given him the look that basically says “you’re a jerk” or “you disgust me”?  Have you been stressed or frustrated about something unrelated to him and lashed out at your husband because he happened to be present?  (I’ve done that more than a few times! Ugh.)

If you want to be even more beautiful to your husband, be humble and admit when you are out of line or just plain wrong.  You might believe that confessing your wrongs will put you in a weak position in your marriage, but the opposite is true.  Proverbs 28:13 says “Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy.”  Oh, and by the way, instead of simply saying “I’m sorry”, go a step further in humility by saying “I was wrong. Please forgive me.”

Don’t fall for this female temptation

It may give you a little thrill, but it leads downhill!  The thrill I’m talking about is that little rush women get when we draw the attention of a man. It feels SO good!  This is all completely fine as long as the man is your husband, but often we go out in public dressed in such a way that other men are tempted to lust over our bodies. 

When we wear skin-tight clothes, cleavage-displaying shirts, extremely short skirts or midriff-baring tops, we are leading other men downhill.  The attention might feel good, but do you really want to lead these men into the sin of lust?  In Luke 17:1 Jesus said to his disciples: “Things that cause people to stumble are bound to come, but woe to anyone through whom they come.”  Also, 1 Corinthians 10:32 says “Do not cause anyone to stumble“.

Let’s pledge to dress modestly instead of provocatively around our male co-workers, men at the store, and men at church.  Let’s not be the downfall of the men around us.  Think of it this way.  Would you like it if another woman was dressing provocatively in front of your husband?

— or view this topic as a 2 minute VIDEO BELOW

3 things husbands want in communication

Want to improve your communication interactions with your husband?  Well, maybe it would help if you understood three things that really matter to most men when it comes to communication.  Here they are:

1)  Most husbands prefer that their wife be direct in stating what they want or need.  They don’t respond to hints.  They don’t want to have to read between the lines or try to read your mind.  They just want you to come right out and state what you want or need…and it helps if you can state your needs calmly, without a lot of drama or intense emotion.

2)  Most husbands want you to keep it simple and short.  They don’t want long explanations or fascinating details.  Their minds begin to wander after about 30 seconds!  So get to the point quickly.  Ecclesiastes 5:3 is a good reminder.  It says “Many words mark the speech of a fool“.

3)  All husbands need their wives to be respectful, both while talking and while listening. This is Biblical. Ephesians 5:33 says “the wife must respect her husband“.  This means speaking to your husband in a respectful tone and making sure your body language and facial expressions show honor.  No eye-rolling!  It also means that you listen attentively when your husband is speaking to you, and you refrain from interrupting him, finishing his sentences, or correcting him.  Oh, and one more thing.  It means you let him have a few moments to unwind when

How to find fulfillment & purpose

I seem to bump into quite a few women who seem to either struggle with discouragement and mild depression or simply feel unfulfilled.  When it comes to both these conditions, there aren’t necessarily simple answers, but I’ve come to realize that taking one particular step often brings significant help.  That step is to get outside yourself and begin serving those less fortunate.  Yes, really!

This is God’s instruction to us all.  In fact, He says in Isaiah 58 that the kind of “fasting” that he desires is not to appear super religious by denying yourself food or pleasure.  Instead he desires us to “loose the chains of injustice”…to share your food with the hungry…to provide the poor wanderer with shelter. He says “then your light will break forth like the dawn and your healing will quickly appear” (Isaiah 58:8)

Is it time to stop focusing on what’s wrong with your circumstances and to look for opportunities to serve those in need all around you?  I can almost guarantee that you WILL become more fulfilled when you begin helping others.  You will find purpose in each day. You will find soul-deep joy along the way. Try it!

Emotional abuse defined

Yesterday, we examined what constitutes physical abuse within a marriage.  Today, let’s explore something much more subtle and overlooked…verbal and/or emotional abuse.  Once again, I strongly urge women to take a stand against abuse of any kind.  Keep in mind, you are showing your children (especially your daughters) that either women are supposed to be weak, helpless, perpetual victims or that women can be confident and strong while still displaying love and kindness.

After doing much research, here’s a fairly comprehensive list of behavior that constitutes verbal, emotional or psychological abuse:  Frequently calling you obscene names, often yelling in rage, a pattern of constantly criticizing you and putting you down, prolonged periods of refusing to talk to you at all, pattern of ridiculing or making fun of you, pattern of mocking you or mean-spirited sarcasm, verbal threats of violence, intimidation through displaying knives or guns, constantly accusing you of wrongdoing, forbidding you to talk to parents or siblings, preventing you from leaving the house, refusing to allow you to talk on the phone, forbidding you from speaking to friends or neighbors, gas-lighting you by causing you to question your memory of what happened.

Again, I urge you to take a stand against this kind of abuse.  You are a valuable woman.  You are God’s daughter and precious in His sight.  Don’t allow yourself to be emotionally pummeled.  You will slowly be destroyed.  That is NOT God’s plan for you.  In fact, God instructs us to guard our hearts in Proverbs 4:23….”Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life“.  If you are suffering this kind of abuse, please talk to your pastor, pastor’s wife, or a certified counselor.  Your husband may be upset, but you must protect your heart.  By the way, if you fear for your physical safety as a result of revealing the emotional abuse, then take protective measures such as moving to a friend’s home or a domestic violence shelter while you work through the issues with your husband.

God won’t waste your pain

Christmas can be one of the happiest times of the year. However, it can also be one of the hardest times of the year for those who have lost a loved one, or find themselves alone in a new town, or have little money to buy presents because of a recent job loss. No one really embraces heartbreak or suffering.  We usually do everything we can to avoid it, and we often complain to God when He doesn’t put an end to it at our first request.  But maybe he is allowing the suffering for a really good reason.  Maybe He has purpose even when he allows us to experience disappointment or even heartbreak.

I think of several stories from the Bible.  Joseph’s story in Genesis, chapters 37-50, is a prime example.  Even though Joseph endured great suffering for many years as he wrongly spent time in prison, God had a masterful plan he was executing behind the scenes….a plan that would involve Joseph rising to great power in Egypt and helping his family gain food during a famine in Israel.  I also think of the great apostles Peter and Paul.  They were beaten and thrown into prison, but God later miraculously freed them from prison and their story inspired many to follow Christ.

The Bible reveals that there is purpose in suffering and heartbreak.  Romans 5:3-5 says “…we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”   So, perhaps instead of feeling sorry for ourselves or feeling anger toward God, maybe you and I should choose to trust God even in the midst of heartbreak.  Maybe we should ask God to use our suffering to build our character.  God won’t waste your heartbreak.  He will use it to do something beautiful.

Something busy women need to know!

Most women have extremely busy schedules these days.  I don’t know if life has always been so chaotic for women, but it sure is that way in 2021!  If you’re a wife and a mom, you’re likely running around like crazy trying to take care of the kids and your man and the household and schooling (possibly at home) and maybe even a full-time job.  Whew.  I get stressed out just listing all your roles.

Let’s not kid ourselves.  None of us is Super Woman.  You have limited time and physical energy.  You also have only so much you can give mentally, emotionally and spiritually before you’re completely drained.  That’s why it’s vital for you and me to take a break during each and every day to refresh ourselves.  We do NOT need to feel guilty about this.  Even Jesus “often withdrew to desolate places” (Luke 5:16) to take a break from the demands of people and refresh his soul.  We also need to step out of the desert and onto a lush oasis for a half hour or so in order to rehydrate our souls.  We just need to make sure we choose a healthy oasis.

What is your oasis?  What recharges your batteries?  What refreshes your soul?  Reading a good novel (not a smutty one though!)?  Lying on your bed surrounded by fluffy pillows?  Drinking a cup of coffee while writing in your journal?  Reading a chapter in the Bible and then closing your eyes to meditate on what God is saying to you?  Taking a bubble bath?  Scrapbooking?  Listening to worship music while sitting in front of the fireplace?  Checking out tasty recipes on Pinterest?  Dancing to 70’s music in your living room while no one is watching?

Get rid of this stinking thinking

You’ve heard the expression “You are what you think”.  Well it’s true, and unfortunately many women stay stuck in oppression, poverty, chaos, and loneliness because of the stinking thoughts the enemy has whispered to them repeatedly over the years.  Often these women truly did suffer a wounding event in the past, but the enemy piles on by getting them to believe lies about their identity, their abilities, God’s ability, and their future.

These lies, that then become our “stinking thinking”, may sound something like this:  “I’m unlovable”… “I can’t handle this”… “I’ll never get over this”… “I’m broken”… “I’m not able to”… “It’s hopeless”… “God doesn’t seem to care”… “I can never trust anyone”… “God isn’t going to come to my rescue”.

It’s time we start bossing around these thoughts!  The minute you hear one of those thoughts in your head, remind yourself that the enemy of your soul WANTS you to embrace that stinking thinking so that he can keep you oppressed!  Jesus WANTS you to have the opposite…a fulfilling life!   John 10:10  The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.

Ladies, it’s time we take a stand and refuse to align our thoughts with the devil.  The moment those negative, hopeless thoughts enter your mind, immediately coach your soul with the truth.  Here are a couple of truths to get you started: 

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”-Philippians 4:13

”He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.”-Psalm 40:2

”If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?”-Romans 8:31-32

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding: in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your path straight”-Proverbs 3:5-6