Wednesday, June 29, 2011

a surprise waiting in the wilderness

Green Desert Sunset

two weeks ago a friend of mine who is doing a series on the song of solomon on her blog every wednesday emailed me and asked me if i would like to write a guest post.  she told me i could pick any part of the book that i wanted to focus on.  i immediately knew what chapter i would write about that was so near and dear to my heart i had even written a song out of it.  here is a little taste of my post.

you will have to go visit barbie at a freshly brewed life to read the whole story of my journey to encountering God.
i had always described my dry and painful seasons as my wilderness seasons.  we all have them.  they are the times when we feel the most hidden: invisible really.  we feel that we are walking around in circles through a hot desert and all that we want is a cool drink of water... the touch of the Holy Spirit upon our dry hearts.  we can look for miles in all directions and see nothing.  i used to despise the wilderness.  i thought it was punishment for somehow doing something wrong... 

i was sure that the dry wilderness i found myself in was something of my own making... somehow my own fault.  i did not know then what i know now...

go to my freshly brewed life to read the rest of my very first guest blog post where i describe my surprising discovery about the wilderness seasons.  leave a comment both here and there so i know you read it.


i am looking forward to hearing your feedback! 


Monday, June 27, 2011

He is worthy

We Are All Reaching Up In Our Own Way...
some days it is easier to be thankful than others.  sometimes it just seems so obvious all that He has done in our lives.  other days, we struggle to see His activity.  but regardless of how much our hearts are moved in any particular moment, He is always active in our lives and He is always faithful.  He is the God who never fails us. 

Field of Poppies

we give thanks every day, not because we feel like it but because
He is worthy.  

enter His gates with thanksgiving 
and His courts with praise. 
give thanks to Him, 
bless His name.
psalm 100:4

241 - 251:

241. feeling the Holy Spirit on my heart while I play the piano and worship Jesus.

242. my brother and sister (and their spouses) who graciously watched my kiddos while bill and i went to a house of prayer gathering for the day out of town.

243. plums off of our little plum tree in the backyard.

244. my sister picking blueberries for me at a you-pick place.  fresh yummy blueberries.

245. the discipline of having to write what i am thankful for, so i have to focus on being thankful even when i do not feel like it.

246. my kids napping/resting all at the same time so i can have time by myself to spend with the Lord.

247. enough grace for this moment.  then more grace for the next moment.  moment by moment.

248. a friend's simple encouragement this weekend, "you are a good mom."  it meant the world to me.

249. my generous parents-  every sunday having lunch at their house, their treat.

250. my chickens, even though they angered me by eating my bell pepper plants in the garden.

251. the fact that He hasn't failed me yet. 

i am linked up at a holy experience.

what are you thankful for?
please share in the comments below.


Friday, June 24, 2011

simple woman's daybook 6.24.11

for today:

outside my window... it is a bright beautiful blue sky day!  it is supposed to be in the 90's - a mild summer day around here.

i am thinking... about an upcoming guest post i am doing.  watch for it!  i will let you know when it is up and give you the link to go check it out.

i am thankful... for so much!  one thing in particular is that i was able to spend time with a dear friend who happens to also be one of our partners (and who was also one of my college roommates).  i love when there is a still that heart connect with someone over the years even when we do not live in the same place or get to talk all the time... but it is still there.  i think it is evidence of the Holy Spirit.

remembering... how fast this past year has flown by when i look at my little guy cruise around furniture and realize he is almost 1!  how do little ones grow up so quickly?!  i have adored each and every season of their lives, but i must say i always have fond memories of the baby days.  i think i am a baby addict.

from the learning rooms... well, since it is summer, we decided to do a library reading program with our kiddos.  asher has flown through the simple bookmarks where you color in the picture for each 20 minutes that you read.  he is reading sometimes 2 hours a day or more!  right now he is working on re-reading (yes, i just did say re-reading, as in reading for the 2nd time) the entire chronicles of narnia.  did i fail to mention that he is 7, just finished up with 1st grade?  i do not know how to keep up with this kid.  if we home-schooled him, i bet he could graduate in like a year or two!  okay, so i kid.  kinda.  there is no way i would let my genius child graduate at 9.

from the kitchen... so... you may think i am a bit strange and crazy (unless you are a strange crazy real foodie like me), but lately i have been really into water kefir.  i know, several of you may be scratching your heads thinking, what?  she is fermenting water?!!  yes, it is true.  probiotics, you know?  though i do not write about food much here on my blog, lots of the blogs i personally subscribe to in my google reader are blogs about natural living and real food.  my own dad wonders where i came from?!  oh my. 

i was making homemade yogurt for the probiotic benefits, but two (and a 3rd suspect) of my kids struggle with digesting lactose, so i am trying the water kefir route to avoid the dairy yet get all the probiotic benefits.  so far, so good.  my favorite one right now?  well, i have been adding a bit of vanilla extract (homemade of course) and half a cinnamon stick and it is creme soda-ish.  i have also been adding it to our summer smoothies.  even bill approves, but he is always up for my crazy food schemes.
i am wearing... well, i am not quite ready for the day yet... but i assure you today i will be in shorts, a tank and flip flops.  that is the way we dress around here in the summer.

i am creating... more headbands for my lovely etsy store.  i am sorry i have neglected it as of late, but life has just been so busy and flying by!  the good news is i listed a new one last night and it was already featured on a treasury.  so fun!

i am going... to an all house of prayer gathering in roseville this weekend.  i am looking forward to connecting with the other house of prayer folk in california.  i am hoping for some good heart connects and encouragement.

i am reading... the book of luke in my Bible reading challenge.  i am both enjoying reading the gospels and being so challenged by the words and life of Jesus as i read.  so many times christianity can become so status quo, at least for me personally, and then when i come face to face with our Savior and His life i am challenged to change and shaken out of the comfortable.

i am hoping... to go camping this summer.  we are working out the detail of a little trip to lake siskiyou and i am so looking forward to it.

i am hearing... the sound of the boys' pencils coloring on paper and coloring books at the table and the baby boy crawl around exploring.  it is actually pretty quiet in here for 4 little boys, and yet no one is "into" anything.

around the house... i have been rather overwhelmed by this area of my life.  does it not seem like there is no possible way to catch up or keep up on the house?  it is such a huge job and i would love to hire like a dozen people to knock off all the things on our to do list around here!  anyone willing to work for the dazzling pay of a good dinner?
one of my favorite things... is summer time.  i just love blue skies, sunshine, (even the heat, yes even the heat), hanging out by water, spending time outdoors, big salads as the main course, fresh fruit and lots of it, camping trips, longer days, and on and on.

pondering... the topic that i am writing my guest post on... in working on it i have had the opportunity to reflect on past seasons of my life which felt excruciatingly difficult and it is amazing to realize God's faithfulness in the midst.  they say that hindsight is 20/20 right?  (who are they infamous they anyways?  they always say the smartest things.)

a few plans for the rest of the week: i already mentioned how we are going to spend time with other houses of prayer in california.  other than that, i believe our weekend consists of going to church and spending time with my family.  sunday for us is always family time.  we have had sunday lunch (which 90% of the time is pizza) with my parents and siblings every sunday for, well, forever.  it is a great tradition.

picture for the day:

this is my newly listed headband at my store.  so summery, huh?!  

i am linked up with other lovely ladies at the simple woman's daybook.  


Monday, June 20, 2011

how to find true joy

i want to be happy.  we all do, right?

i want to experience the depths of true joy... perfect joy.  it is an innate within every human being to crave this perfect joy... this elusive perfect joy.  with great achievement that i believed would bring me the satisfaction i was longing for, i have found hollow numbness.  in conquest and victory the depth of bliss is so superficial, it is surprising.  it is God's will for me to experience this sweetness of true joy, but how, i have often wondered, is this sweetness i have imagined and know to be possible actually realized?

someone shared this story of st. francis with me a couple years ago and it has stuck with me unlike many stories i have heard.  i could not express better what st. francis described as perfect joy to brother leo while they were on a walk one bitterly cold winter day.  conviction gripped my heart... it still grips me, as my vision for joy was not high enough.  i had foolishly imagined that i could maintain my rights and still experience the fullness of joy that Jesus walked in... that He longs for us to be immersed in.
one day in winter, as st francis was going with brother leo from perugia to st mary of the angels, and was suffering greatly from the cold, he called to brother leo, who was walking on before him, and said to him: "brother leo, if it were to please God that the friars minor should give, in all lands, a great example of holiness and edification, write down, and note carefully, that this would not be perfect joy." 

a little further on, st francis called to him a second time: "o brother leo, if the friars minor were to make the lame to walk, if they should make straight the crooked, chase away demons, give sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, speech to the dumb, and, what is even a far greater work, if they should raise the dead after four days, write that this would not be perfect joy." 

shortly after, he cried out again: "o brother leo, if the friars minor knew all languages; if they were versed in all science; if they could explain all Scripture; if they had the gift of prophecy, and could reveal, not only all future things, but likewise the secrets of all consciences and all souls, write that this would not be perfect joy." 

after proceeding a few steps farther, he cried out again with a loud voice: "o brother leo, thou little lamb of God! if the friars minor could speak with the tongues of angels; if they could explain the course of the stars; if they knew the virtues of all plants; if all the treasures of the earth were revealed to them; if they were acquainted with the various qualities of all birds, of all fish, of all animals, of men, of trees, of stones, of roots, and of waters - write that this would not be perfect joy." 

shortly after, he cried out again: "o brother leo, if the friars minor had the gift of preaching so as to convert all infidels to the faith of Christ, write that this would not be perfect joy." 

now when this manner of discourse had lasted for the space of two miles, brother leo wondered much within himself; and, questioning the saint, he said: "father, i pray thee teach me wherein is perfect joy."

st francis answered: "if, when we shall arrive at st mary of the angels, all drenched with rain and trembling with cold, all covered with mud and exhausted from hunger; if, when we knock at the convent-gate, the porter should come angrily and ask us who we are; if, after we have told him, we are two of the brethren', he should answer angrily, what ye say is not the truth; ye are but two impostors going about to deceive the world, and take away the alms of the poor; begone i say'; if then he refuse to open to us, and leave us outside, exposed to the snow and rain, suffering from cold and hunger till nightfall - then, if we accept such injustice, such cruelty and such contempt with patience, without being ruffled and without murmuring, believing with humility and charity that the porter really knows us, and that it is God who maketh him to speak thus against us, write down, o brother leo, that this is perfect joy

and if we knock again, and the porter come out in anger to drive us away with oaths and blows, as if we were vile impostors, saying, 'begone, miserable robbers! to the hospital, for here you shall neither eat nor sleep!' - and if we accept all this with patience, with joy, and with charity, o brother leo, write that this indeed is perfect joy. 

and if, urged by cold and hunger, we knock again, calling to the porter and entreating him with many tears to open to us and give us shelter, for the love of God, and if he come out more angry than before, exclaiming, 'these are but importunate rascals, i will deal with them as they deserve'; and taking a knotted stick, he seize us by the hood, throwing us on the ground, rolling us in the snow, and shall beat and wound us with the knots in the stick - if we bear all these injuries with patience and joy, thinking of the sufferings of our Blessed Lord, which we would share out of love for Him, write, o brother leo, that here, finally, is perfect joy. 

when we suffer and are mistreated and anger no longer has a hold on our hearts...

- then -

we have found true joy.



counting gifts...

223 - 240:

223.  time to get away to starbucks to study the book of isaiah while my dear hubby watches the kids.

224.  living near so much family and getting to spend time together.

225. my amazing daddy who is a great father and friend.

226. winter clothes put away, organized and stored for the next child to grow into, and summer clothes hung and ready.

227. plants growing in the garden.

228. a new gallon of coconut oil in the cupboard.

229. sparkly pink eyeshadow.

230. little hands of my boys praying for me to overcome anger.

231. vision to know this perfect joy.

232. watching my husband perform a wedding ceremony and love welling up inside because i know he is living all that he is charging the young couple to do.

233. a dear little boy passed out in his charming little suit after a long night at the wedding.

234. an encouraging chat with a friend over ichat - being filled with courage to keep going.

235. t-ball practice in the smoldering summer sun.

236. build-your-own burrito father's day.

237. divine protection over my children when a dresser fell sunday morning.  not one was hurt.  the dresser is now anchored to the wall.

238. connecting with my husband in prayer bringing our burdens to the Lord together.

239. my grandma who always bakes extra of whatever special something she is baking so there is enough to send home to us.

240. a slow dance at a wedding with a husband who only dances as an act of sacrificial love.

i am linked up at a holy experience.

do you have vision to see what He has waiting for you?


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

you cannot have it all

To-do list book.

i cannot do it all.  i cannot have it all.

                                                               whatever is this all anyways??

some days it feels as if i cannot even do anything. 

someone asked a while back how i get everything done.  how, might you ask, do i balance being a mom of four boys, teach piano lessons, cook wholesome meals, be involved in a house of prayer ministry, maintain a house, pursue creative outlets, lead worship, have friends, pursue a relationship with God,  cultivate a healthy marriage, and on and on and on?  well, the simple answer is that i don't.

i am always coming up short.

i know a blog can look like someone has it all together and can juggle all the balls of life without ever having one fall.  the reality for me is that some days i don't only drop one of the balls, but they all come crashing down on the floor.

i have one big fat to do list that never gets checked off.  i push items from today back to tomorrow... and then the next day... and the next.  

just like everyone else, i am a broken human being who has big desires to become something, to do something worthwhile with my life, to accomplish this list of to dos.  just like everyone else, i fall short so many times in so many areas. 

my husband was telling me last night, really all human beings are the same. there is comfort for me in this: you and i, sitting possibly on opposite sides of the planet, are really more alike than we realize.  we can relate.  we have hopes and dreams.  we have weaknesses and failures.  there is no one who is that image we try to live up to that does it all and has it all.

that person just doesn't really exist.

you cannot have it all.

you cannot do it all.

but you can do what is before you and you can have what is in reach.  

for me, right now, it is a fussy baby pulling at me as i try to type out this blog post.  

this fussy baby.

photo by myriah grubbs

and yet, there are things that will not get done as i choose him over choosing my all important to do list.

for me, being in full time ministry, sometimes i have to choose between my involvement level in ministry and the needs of my family.  i cannot do it all.  but this means in all practicality that there are things that will not get done.  

i would love to write more on the topic of balancing family and ministry (or whatever work or activity has been put before you).  i have written before about the tension between balancing life and finding time with God.   but for now i will just leave you with the encouragement that you are not alone if you are feeling like you aren't measuring up.

we are all the same.  there are no super humans.  

we are broken and weak...
                                            yet sincere and beautiful.

a wise man once called it dark yet lovely...


Friday, June 10, 2011

5 thoughts before bed

standing in a puddle as i watch my boys' swim lessons in the rain

1. some days i wish i had a redo button.  today would be one of the days i would definitely use it.  there were many many opportunities.  ever had that moment when in almost an out-of-body experience you wonder, who is this mad woman and what did she do with the real me?  or even worse, is this the real me?  i am sure my all too patient husband was wondering who this crazy wife was and how did she happen to show up today instead of fun wife.  some days i am so glad that tomorrow is a new day and that His mercies are enough to cover a multitude of sin.  i definitely am in need of mercy.

2. i am thinking about marriage. i am still getting feedback from my post last weekend on how you do not have to get divorced.  i am amazed at the willingness of people who do not know each other to share a part of their journey in order to allow us all to grow.  i am convinced that if we can get vision to survive in our marriage, we can also grow to the place of becoming best friends with our husband (or wife).  i am amazed even with the great relationship i have with my husband how so many times i can slip into entitlement mentality (you treat me like this... or else!).  but to put the shoe on the other foot... well, let's say ouch!

3. my baby is growing up and i don't know where the time is going!  my second most viewed post at this point is a sister maternity photo shoot my dear sister-in-love photographer took of me and my sissy when we were pregnant together (for the 3rd time!!!) and due only 10 days apart.  i hoped to have twin cousins born on the same day.  she had her wish and they each had their own birthday.  my dear sweet simeon is 10 months old and myriah documented him so perfectly.  i still am in awe of his red hair, blue eyes, and thumb-sucking sweetness.  sure, he doesn't sleep at night, but after 4 boys in 6 years what do i know of sleep?  if you can't sleep, look at his sweet pictures.  they promise to not disappoint.

4. people often ask me, so i haven't seen you for a while, what have you been up to?  i am always taken back by that question.  i have two routine responses: nothing really or we are so busy! 

both are true.

when you are a mom to four boys you don't always have a lot of exciting events to show for your time and effort, but somehow you are going every minute of the day at a reckless speed until you collapse onto the couch unable to move with the piles of clean clothes staring at you challenging you to put them away.  the couch wins yet again.

yesterday i was gone for 11 hours straight- and i don't have a "job!" (i know, i know, i know.  i was already corrected by my mom that i have the busiest job in the world.  besides my busy job, i also do teach piano and do little bits of ministry with my husband on the side).  my point is, however, that i have dedicated this time of my life to being a mom, so my answer to the above question seems pointless if the person isn't currently in the thick of mounds of filthy clothes to clean (i do have boys), noses and bums to wipe, chickens to feed, garden to tend to, gifts to make, piano lessons to teach, swim lessons to supervise so the kiddos don't drown, driving kids back and forth to do, school board meetings to attend, bikes to ride, books to read, meals to make, dishes to wash, groceries to buy, wood floors to clean yet again, attitudes to discipline, and cuddles to take because time is going too quickly and this mommy is overwhelmed!  but, other than all that, i haven't been up to much.

5. i love the summer!  i love the heat of where i live. (am i crazy?!)  did you know that one day a couple years ago, the city i live in was the hottest place on earth?  hotter than the sahara desert.  and better yet, my dear hubby bill was re-roofing our house that very day.  needless to say they took a "break" during midday as the tar of the shingles literally was melting beneath their feet.  i love swimming, the lake, the beach, the longer days, the bike rides, the kiddos home all day long, the sun darkening our skin and lightening our hair, camping, bare feet, warm nights, bbq dinners, garden bounty, and happy memories made.  i am so thankful it is summer. 

what is something on your mind?


Monday, June 6, 2011

from where you came

sometimes you can really only understand who you are when you see from where you came.

you visit an area and it just feels like home.  you could see yourself happy living there all the days of your life... and you realize that for generations before your people did live there.  there on the land.  there in harmony with the nature around them.  there before the gold rush brought all the pioneers to change the simple way of life into something a lot less simple.

a longing for the simple times stirs within.  wide open spaces.  a place to let 4 little boys run free and far and not worry about who they may meet or what car may not see them.  entertained for countless hours by the very creation of the Creator.

weren't we made to enjoy all that He made?

sleeping to the sounds of rushing water.

swimming in the swimming hole in the heat of the summer. 

having a place to bury those you love close to home, right at home, where they are always near though you know they are no longer there.

i think i found a piece of myself when my family and i went to see the property where my great great grandma, the great great great grandma of my children, a woman i never met, lived.  back to my roots.  a place i had never before seen with my eyes but felt like i was coming back to where i belonged.

the native blood runs deep though the pale skin, light eyes, and blond hair speak louder.

and something about knowing where i come from, finding just one more piece of the puzzle that makes up me and the way i see the world brings safety.  stability.  history.

generations i have never known have shaped me and influenced who i am.  and i wonder what they would think of the generations that follow.  though our lives look different at first glance, are we really all that different than from where we came?

the beauty of His creation leaves me in wonder and awe.  the thought that my family lived on this land makes me long to live here too. 

this is my country - the home of my people.

counting gifts...

200 - 222:

200. a photoshoot for simeon with the amazing myriah grubbs.

201. fresh eggs from the back yard.

202. the last week of school festivities.

203. uriah's pre-k graduation.  is it possible my mama's boy is growing up so fast?

204. spending time at the watchthe house of prayer fills my soul.

205. encountering the Holy Spirit in reading the book of matthew.  a fresh revelation of Jesus my Messiah.

206. the brother-in-law who makes me a white mocha every time i am at his house.  every time.  and i don't even have to ask.

207. going to the property my great great grandma used to own and experiencing family history.  connecting with my roots.

208. realizing so much of who i am comes from who i have come from.

209. freshly swept wood floors.

210. watching swim lessons in the misty rain knowing that sunny days are coming.

211. sunny days are coming!

212. contact lenses in my eyes so i can actually see again after having to wear only my glasses for the past week and a half.

213. an unexpected cash gift at just the right time.

214. a night out with the girls and laughing and laughing and laughing.

215. homemade bean burritos.

216. summer with my kids home!!

217. the amazing response in the comments of my lastest blog post about divorce.  the willingness of readers to be vulnerable and let us all learn and grow from each others experiences and battles.

218. laughing til tears are running down my face.

219. the privilege to raise 4 boys who will be mighty men.

220. learning how to balance all the plates of life and the grace to pick them up when they come crashing down.

221. beautiful northern california.  i am so blessed to live where i do.  i am often in awe of the beauty that God created all around me.

222. fresh homemade strawberry pie at grandma's house when any family member comes in town to visit.  thank you grandma and thank you visiting family!

i am linked up at a holy experience.

what beauty is around you?


Sunday, June 5, 2011

you do not have to get divorced


i have noticed for a while the vacuum of silence on this topic.  it is a touchy subject.  many people have either been divorced, know someone who has been divorced, or are contemplating getting divorced.  many of our leaders and pastors have been divorced or are closely tied to those who have been divorced, and so they are silent on the issue.  we don't often get godly counsel on this topic.  i do not have all the answers about marriage and divorce, but i am here to tell you one thing:

you do not have to get divorced.

i am not being idealistic about marriage.  we are approaching 10 years of marriage within the next year, and though i am not a 50 year veteran i am also not a twinkling eyed newlywed with unrealistic expectations for life in a covenant relationship.

a history of sticking it out

my parents are still married (almost 40 years!) - their first and only marriage.  each of their parents were the same until the death of both my grandpas - faithful to their only marriage covenant until the end.  as far as i know, the story is the same many generations back.  i am not aware of a divorce in my direct lineage on either side.

this is not to sing my own praises.  this is not to say that i nor any of the generations before me haven't had problems and struggles in our/their marriages.  this is simply to state they did not give up.

just as i stated in my very first blog post about the reason this blog is called at the gate called beautiful, silver and gold have i none but what i do have i will give freely to you.  my hope today is to give you hope that you can stay married. 

i will be scattered i am sure, but once again let me make my whole point clear from the beginning:

you do not have to get divorced.

i had a dream...

a couple years ago i had a very vivid dream about two friends of mine who are married.  in the dream i was standing in the lobby of our church and this couple who i knew had been struggling in their marriage came up to me and told me that they were done and getting a divorce.  i looked into their faces and i knew they both refused to reconcile.  i instantly fell to the ground at their feet and wept and wept and wept.

when i woke up i have to say i was very shaken.  the dream felt so real and from what i already knew about my two friends i knew it was a dream from God.  i prayed about the dream and asked the Lord what it meant and what in the world was i supposed to do with it.  i felt very strongly like in the dream i wasn't myself, but instead i represented the Holy Spirit.  the deep grief i felt and the uncontrollable weeping over their feet let me taste of how grieved He is about the hopelessness people get to when they finally just give up on their covenant in marriage.

the grief was as if someone had just died.  this is the emotional investment i believe the Lord has in our marriage covenant.  for us to give up and get divorced - this is the death of our marriage and it isn't only between the man and wife.  marriage is between the man, wife, and God Himself.

what does God say about divorce?

in malachi 2:16 it says very plainly,
for I hate divorce, says the Lord, the God of israel...

how does God feel about marriage?

the most powerful story of redeeming love in the Bible reveals to us how God feels about marriage and thus about divorce: the story of hosea.

God told the prophet hosea that his marriage would be a prophetic picture of God's relationship with His people israel.  God told hosea to go marry a prostitute.  
when the Lord first spoke through hosea, the Lord said to hosea, "go, take to yourself a wife of harlotry and have children of harlotry; for the land commits flagrant harlotry, forsaking the Lord."  hosea 1:2
the story of hosea is amazing.  this wife, who he sincerely loves, cheats on him again and again and again.  he even has to go and drag her back home against her will.  she has a child that is not his, but another man's.  how painful did that have to be?!  yet through all of this he keeps taking her back.  it got to the dire point when God spoke to hosea again:
then the Lord said to me, "go again, love a woman who is loved by her husband, yet an adulteress, even as the Lord loves the sons of israel, though they turn to other gods and love raisin cakes." so i bought her for myself for fifteen shekels of silver and a homer and a half of barley.  hosea 3:1
hosea went and bought his wife back while she was in prostitution, so that he could bring her back home.  she was an adulteress.  she did not deserve his love.  yet, he loved her.  he did not leave her, nor did he let her leave.  he kept pursuing.  he remained in covenant, though she trampled all over it.  
...and God was the One who told him to do it.  

God loves marriage. 

God wanted to show through hosea that though His people did not value their covenant with Him, He would stay faithful to His covenant with them.  God is a God of covenant.  He does not take covenant lightly.  marriage is a covenant in the eyes of God, not just a contract in the eyes of men.  

God loves marriage.  God hates divorce.

it was never a part of the plan...

it breaks our hearts when those we love get divorced.  God  Himself weeps over the broken covenants.  He is not distant and unfeeling.  He is a God who weeps.  

you see, divorce was never in God's plan.  it is not the way He meant it to be.  even Jesus said when questioned about the instruction moses gave about divorce that it was only given because their hearts were already hardened.  the marriage covenant was never meant be broken.  in matthew 19: 
He said to them, "because of your hardness of heart moses permitted you to divorce your wives; but from the beginning it has not been this way.
"and I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery."

this is a hard saying.  even for me to read, who hasn't been divorced and doesn't have a lineage of divorce, i still wince when i read Jesus's words.  these are not arbitrary words.  these are the words of the One who died to give us forgiveness of our sins and the promise of resurrected life.  i think many of us, if we were honest, would say in response the very same thing that His disciples said.
the disciples said to Him, "if the relationship of the man with his wife is like this, it is better not to marry."

if we truly had a revelation of the importance of marriage to God Himself, if we had just a taste of the grief He personally experiences when two people give up on their covenant to each other, if we saw the tears He cries, then we would take entering into marriage a whole lot more seriously and soberly, just like the disciples who heard the serious sober words for themselves.

it was never a part of the plan.  divorce was never meant to be an option.  in a day and age when anyone can get a divorce for any reason without contest, it is hard to not think in the back of our minds when we enter into a marriage covenant that the option in on the table.  to God, it is not on the table.

isn't there a clause to that forever thing?

you may have noticed the "clause" in what Jesus said to His followers.  what if your husband or wife cheats on you?  i am in no way diminishing the pain of this type of betrayal because i have to say that my heart would be broken into so many pieces it is hard to think it could ever be whole again.  yet i am here to say, even though a "clause" exists, this too is only because of our hardness of hearts.  if we look to the example in hosea, the one that God said was a picture of His commitment to His bride, we can see that even unfaithfulness in marriage can be overcome.  

i believe when we come to marriage with our lists of if he does this it is over, or i would leave if she ever did that... we are setting our marriage up to fail.  we are subtly prepping our hearts to look for the way out instead of pressing through to the way to overcome.

God's plan for us is to be overcomers, not those who simply escape hardship. 

and isn't His promise that He will work all things together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (romans 8:28)? 

all things.

even marriage, however unhappy and unfulfilled and unfaithful it has been.

as long as it is up to me...

i told my husband a number of years ago that as long as it was up to me, i was in this marriage for life.  now, you would think this was an obvious statement because we made wedding vows of i will love you as long as we both shall live... but you see, we were walking through a season when many people close to us were giving up on their marriages and opting for divorce (many because of marital unfaithfulness and affairs).  i had a series of nightmares where bill was cheating on me or leaving me for another woman.  i had one dream at the time where we split up and each took one of our sons (we only had the older two boys at that point) and i obviously took the baby because i was nursing.  i remember how real the dream seemed and how much i missed asher my oldest son.   it was terrible. when i woke up, i could feel the fear of what if this nightmare happens to us too?

instead of trying to "think positive", oh this will never ever happen to us, i decided to look the worst possible senario straight in the face and decide how i would choose to respond if i ever did have to be faced with it in my life.  i decided, after prayer and soberness, that if my husband were to be unfaithful to me, i would stay with him and work it out.  as long as it was up to me, our marriage would not end.  i would be faithful to my end of our covenant regardless of if he was faithful or unfaithful.  it took a lot of courage to tell him.  i vividly remember the evening when i told him that even if he left me, cheated on me, or wanted a divorce, i would fight for our marriage because i made a promise.

i am not saying this would be easy and i am not saying i wouldn't struggle with forgiveness big time, but i believe it is right and it is the way God intended marriage to be.  one partner for life.  a picture of His commitment to us and our commitment to Him. 

divorce is not an option.

marriage counseling

in our several years in full-time ministry and pastoring, and even before, we have had the privilege to counsel many engaged and newlywed couples.  the one thing that i have said the strongest above any other thing, (above money or children or love languages or intimacy or so much more!), is that divorce cannot ever be an option.  it cannot be a threat in a heated argument that is thrown out there to manipulate the other person into submitting.  divorce cannot ever be on the table.

what comes out of our mouths comes from our hearts.  what our mouths say influence what our hearts believe.  it is a cycle.  the darkness that comes out is strengthened by our agreement with our lips.

do not give the idea of divorce a place in your marriage.  period.

if you have, now is the time to repent and stop.  ask for forgiveness.  start anew.

this alone will be huge.  if you do not entertain the idea of escaping, but are faced with the reality that this is what and who you are stuck with for life, i assure you that you will be much more motivated to make it a better marriage instead of looking forward to someone else.  it is the way we as humans work.  if we know that we do not have a choice about leaving, we try to make where we are the most comfortable and bearable we can.

we want to be happy.  

it is possible to be happy in your marriage.

let me tell you, divorce will not make you happy.  the current problem may go away, but you will not be happy.

but you can allow the Lord to have the messed up, broken, real marriage you have and let Him have His work and bring true joy out of what you were almost willing to give up on.  that is how He works.  He works all things together... right?  even the ugly stuff.  He is personally invested in it.  He loves covenant and is a rewarder of those who are faithful to their covenants.  

the one who keeps his promise when it hurts

i know there is so much more that could be said on this topic, and i may have already offended many of those who read this, (though that is not at all my intent).  i want to leave you with this.  two years ago i was doing a study on psalm 15 which is about who can dwell in the house of the Lord.  there are a list of requirements for the one who can dwell with Him many of which got my attention.  one that jumped out at me was 
he swears to his own hurt and does not change;  

this could pretty simply be said the one who keeps his promise even when it hurts.  i believe this applies to our covenant in marriage.  there will be many times when it is to our own hurt and pain to keep our promise, but i promise you it will be worth it.  i am not saying that everything will magically be better and, honestly, you could be in a up and down marriage for the rest of your life.  but if you are faithful to what you promised, if you do not take the easy road out, if you do not opt for divorce, then i promise you He will be faithful to you because you were faithful to your word.  

i promise you.  

He is a God who rewards and He is watching.  i believe that your marriage can end up amazing on this side of eternity, but even if it doesn't, you do not have to get divorce.  

there is something so much greater - becoming like Him who keeps His word every single time even to the point of laying down His life and dying on a cross.  He didn't back out when it got hard... 

...and we don't have to either.

hang in there.  He is deeply invested in your marriage and if you ask Him, He will give you the grace to stay.

you do not have to get divorced.

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