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October 2006

13 entries from September 2006

Interview with Nancy Kennedy

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Today I am thrilled to welcome Nancy Kennedy, author of When He Doesn’t Believe to Spiritually Unequal Marriage.

Originally, from California Nancy lives in central Florida with her husband, Barry. Her two daughters, Alison and Laura, are grown. Alison is married with one daughter, Caroline (age 4 ½). Laura is going to college part-time in Charlotte, N.C. and working full-time.
Nancy works as a features writer and religion columnist for the Citrus County Chronicle in Florida. She also writes books and speaks at Christian women’s retreats. She is a member of Seven Rivers Presbyterian Church in Lecanto, Florida.

Personal testimony by Lynn Donovan: Five years ago I found myself ready to give up on my spiritually unequal marriage. It was during this time I discovered Nancy Kennedy’s book. It became a road map to healing my marriage. I could relate to the struggles she experienced. Her words of advice set me on a life-changing course. I thank God for Nancy and her wise advice.

LD: Welcome Nancy and thank you for your willingness to share more of yourself with us. Since writing your book six years ago, I thought it would be great to catch up with you. How many years have you and Barry been married now?

NK: As of today– 31 ½ years.

LD: Are you spiritually mismatched today? If he came to faith, how did that happen? If not, are you discouraged?

NK: I would say yes, we are still spiritually mismatched, although I’ve thought for a long time – for more than 20 years – that he came to faith in Christ shortly after I did. There was a moment that he changed, but he didn’t follow through with it. So, I can’t be sure. At times I do get discouraged as well as anxious, frustrated, confused, angry, impatient… But I always come back to “God knows, and I can’t do anything about it anyway.”

LD: What inspired you to write your book?

NK: My agent at the time asked me to do this book. I hesitated because I would never want to embarrass my husband, but I asked him and he said it was fine with him. I told him that I wanted to help women not be Jesus freaks with their husbands and to learn to relax and let God be God. He was all for that!

More than that, I know how greatly God changed me. Once I grasped His great sovereignty and that I cannot, cannot, CANNOT change another human’s heart no matter how sincere I am or how hard I try, I knew that I was on to something and felt compelled to share it with as many women as I could.

We are tremendous instruments for peace as well as for turmoil in our homes.

LD: Is there a new chapter you wish you could add?

NK: I think I said it all.

LD: I know you recently wrote a devotional titled, Between Two Loves. Can you tell us more about what you have done and what you are working on now?

NK: Sadly, the devotional is out of print, although I have some copies left. Right now I’m eagerly awaiting the release of my newest book, Girl on a Swing, about freedom in Christ and experiencing God’s smile. It will be out Oct. 31, 2006.

LD: I have also found your writing on Family.org. Tell us about your work with Focus on the Family and any other organizations who offer encouragement to spiritually mismatched marriages.

NK: Focus on the Family excerpted chapters from When He Doesn’t Believe a few years ago, which I was thrilled with. Also, Family Life Today with Dennis Rainey and Bob Lepine and also Nancy Leigh DeMoss had me on their radio programs for a week’s worth of shows.

LD: What is the best advice you would give to us on the road behind you?

NK: Relax—God is God and we are not. Whenever I start to fret and get frustrated and think, “God, why don’t You DO SOMETHING?!” I remind myself that He IS doing something—He’s just not done yet.

My husband recently went through open-heart surgery and he was surprised and quite touched by the outpouring of cards and prayers from people he doesn’t even know. In my community I’m quite well-known from my position at the newspaper and hundreds of readers of my column sent him their love, including an entire kindergarten class at a local Christian school. That spoke volumes to him—and I saw his spiritual heart soften.

LD: Finally the question most of us need answering, how did your children navigate through the conflicts regarding faith? Now that they are adults, did they become believers? What parenting advice would you suggest?

NK: My daughters both came to faith in Christ when they were preschoolers. My oldest was never openly rebellious, but she stopped going to church after she moved away from home. My youngest is a classic prodigal, although her heart often returns to Jesus, even if just for a moment.

Even in the most devout Christian homes, kids stray. My pastor says, “Think of the most perfect parent ever—God the Father—and then look at the way His kids turned out (meaning us).” That should give us all hope.

As for advice…pray hard. Parenting is difficult, but God’s grace covers us all.
The bottom line is, God is God. Salvation is His and He calls the shots. And He uses everything we go through for His glory and our ultimate good.

LD: Great advice! Your words of encouragement bring honor to our King.

Lord, I lift up Nancy Kennedy, her husband and children to You today. Thank you for each of them and their willingness to share their lives. Thank you for Nancy's strong faith in You and in her marriage. Lord, lavish Your love on her life and bless her continuing work and ministry. In Christ’s name I pray. Amen

You can find a complete list of Nancy's books in the right sidebar. Be blessed!

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Jerry Jenkins and Billy Graham

On Saturday, I was tickled to meet and talk with Jerry Jenkins author of the Left Behind series. He was the keynote speaker at the San Diego Christian Writers Conference this year. Jerry’s wit and humor were delightful.

During his address to the conferees, Jerry spoke about writing the memoirs of Billy Graham. Jerry told us about the authentic humility of this man of God and how humbling it was to write the story of Mr. Graham’s life.

I must admit that in years prior I have not been in touch with the Graham ministry because I thought it was appealing to my mother’s generation. Shame on me! What treasures I have denied myself.

Jerry spoke about interviewing Mr. Graham. He asked him a question I will never forget. Join in the conversation between Jerry and Billy Graham….. (my paraphrase)

JJ: How do you maintain your spiritual life in the face of your busy schedule?

BG: I have consistently practiced two things. I pray unceasingly and I search the scriptures.

JJ: How do you do that?

BG: I pray constantly, without ceasing. Through everything, the LORD and I talk, all day, every day.

JJ: What do you mean you search the scriptures?

BG: I leave my bible open in a place where I can see it easily. When I see it lying open I go to it and read. Sometimes a verse, sometimes two, or perhaps a chapter or two. I follow the LORD’s leading.

JJ: How do you feel when your schedule keeps you from reading the scripture?

BG: I don’t think that has ever happened!!!

LET THIS SINK IN, LET IS RESSONATE IN YOUR SOUL.

Today in my home on the kitchen counter, you will find my open bible. Do you know why Billy Graham is a man after God’s own heart??

These two simple things lead us to God’s heart. I will begin today to pray unceasingly and to search the scriptures. Thank you, Mr. Graham. Thank you, Jerry Jenkins.

Be blessed, Lynn 

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The Desert Experience

Recently, I have talked with several friends who are living through a desert experience. They are in the midst of intense struggle; physical, emotional, and or spiritual.

All of us will live in the desert during some part of our journey with Christ. He also endured the desert for 40 days. Read Matthew 4:1-11.

What I know to be true about the desert experience is this: God is at work on my heart. I found God would grow my character to serve Him in a way I could not have imagined prior. In the desert, I wrestle with strongholds in my life. I clearly see God is with me in the experience only after I leave the wilderness.

To encourage those of us in the desert right now I want to share an excerpt from Breaking Free by Beth Moore. IT IS WORTH THE READ!

One of the most common occurrences in the lives of those sent to prison is the subsequent serving of divorce papers by the spouse. Few prisoners have people on the outside standing by them throughout lengthy incarcerations. Most people would just as soon forget prisoners existed. They are the unpeople of our society. The same trend appears in less tangible terms among Christians. The best of our churches tend to welcome those captive (to alcohol, drugs, homosexuality, promiscuity, and so forth) at first; but if they don’t “fix” pretty quickly, they will probably soon be despised. We like success stories – powerful testimonies. A captive in our midst wears out her welcome if she doesn’t get with it and change.

In gracious contrast God stands by us until we are free. He never forsakes us. God is the only One who is not repelled by the depth and length of our needs. Although God never excuses our sin and rebellion, He is fully aware of what drives our actions. When I was growing up, I had no idea why I was making some poor decisions, but God knew. Even thought my rebellion was still sin, God’s heart was full of compassion. Through loving chastisement, He continued to strive with me and waited patiently for me to leave my prison.

No matter how long we struggle, God is not giving up on us. Even if we’ve drained all the human resources around us dry, He is our inexhaustible well of living water. He may allow the life of a captive to grow more and more difficult, so she will be more desperate to do what freedom in Christ requires-but He will never divorce her. He woos and He waits. The measures God takes to woo us to liberty may be excruciating at times, but they are often more powerful evidences of His unfailing love than all the obvious blessings we could expound. Few truly know the unfailing love of God like the captive set free. “Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love…and tell of his works with songs of joy” (Ps. 107:21-22) Beloved, if He has become God alone to you, you have a powerful story to tell. Start talking!

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The Christian Blogosphere

The Christian blogging community is an amazing place. I have been delighted to read the vast and varying blogs dedicated to serving Jesus. Our community of men and women has a passion to share their hope in Christ with a lost world.

Christian bloggers propel me, as a believer, to grow in my relationship with Christ. Our community also challenges me to rethink my opinions to insure they stand on scripture. I am pushed to release prejudices that limit my ability to love others. In addition, I share in the joy and pain of fellow sojourners. I see people living their faith in the everyday mundane as well as those who are facing seemingly insurmountable difficulties. Christ is honored through our lives!

I am humbled to be a participant in this amazing community. I thank all of the Christians in the Blogosphere for their contribution and love of our Savior.

Check out some great posts at Christianblogger.com and be inspired!

Future Post Note:

I am currently preparing for an interview with Nancy Kennedy, author of When He Doesn’t Believe. I am praying to have it completed and post it in a few days. Stay tuned! Be blessed, Lynn

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Going It Alone - Christ who strengthens me

It is through Christ who strengthens us that we can attend church alone and thrive in our experience.

I attend church alone. I abandoned my self-consciousness years ago. I can walk into the auditorium and sit in the front row. Okay, the second to the front row. I purposely look for another woman seated alone. I will sit down by her and wait for the Spirit to open a door for conversation. Sometimes we talk, sometimes not.

I don’t feel angry prior to leaving for church and arriving home is much easier today than in years past.

I have peace. I am thriving in this part of my Christian faith journey. I can still stumble from time-to-time and those old frustrations will invade my heart. Now, however, I know what to do with them and I don’t suffer as long as in years past. Praise God, neither does my spouse.

I lead an active life through my church. I don’t over commit myself but serve in one area that is meaningful and rewarding.

So when Sunday arrives, pray, rejoice and relax. God has a perfect plan for our lives, our spouses, and our marriages. You can take that promise to the bank! Be blessed! Lynn

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Going It Alone - Their Perspective

What is their perspective? Can our unbelieving spouses harbor feelings that are identical to ours? In fact, they usually do.

An impromptu interview with my husband was revealing. I asked him if he would be willing to share his perspective with me regarding the emotions a nonbeliever experiences when faith becomes a disagreement in marriage. Nonbelievers usually rest in one of two camps: indifference or antagonistic. The spouse of a believer will experience a range of emotions as they navigate the new direction of their marriage.

Hurt/betrayal: Spouses think to themselves, “It wasn’t me who changed.” They may not actually say this out loud but the thought has occurred to our spouse on many an occasion.

As our relationship with Christ grows, we are changed. We exclude our spouse from activities and friendships purposefully or unknowingly because we think he/she won’t be interested or may be hostile to any suggestion of something Christian. Our spouse feels alienated, hurt, and alone. We have experience the same feelings from a different direction. They also feel betrayed because we changed our belief system (core values) in midstream.

Pressure/resentment: Our spouses feel the pressure to change, to attend church, to become someone they are not ready to be. I know my husband has felt resentment because I pushed him hard to attend church. He also told me he feels conspicuous during our communion service because he does not participate. Funny, I never knew this until I interviewed him. I challenge you to interview your spouse. I am certain you will find the exercise enlightening.

Time spent away at church events can become a thorn in the marriage. Resentment festers because of church commitments. Take a careful look at these activities. Pray about what you should retain in your life and what must go. Your marriage must be a priority over events. Note: I say “events” not your personal relationship with Christ. Nurture your alone time with Christ daily. This effort will benefit your marriage.

My spouse resents the changes in our social life. As a couple, we are excluded from certain social events because I am a believer. Or, I purposely exclude myself from certain social events because I am a believer. Small issues like this, however, breed big resentments in our spouse’s hearts. Communication is the key here. My spouse and I talk about these situations frequently. We are able to work through our feelings about these social activities and derive an acceptable outcome for both of us.

Fear/disappointment: Many spouses fear their marriage may dissolve over Christianity. They fear rejection. They think their spouse will find them less desirable because they are a nonbeliever. It is up to us, the believers, to lavish love on our nonbelievers. Many times what they receive is criticism, harshness and the cold shoulder. This is where we must employ the concepts from proven sources such as, Love & Respect. Many wise Christians offer sound advice on building a strong marriage. Use these resources well and often.

Remember This: What we need to remember are two important concepts. Involve your spouse in your Christian life to the extent he/she agrees. Don’t push Christianity upon them. Invitations to home church, Bible study, progressive dinners, etc., are not met with enthusiasm. Take this advice from a woman who tried all of these ridiculous attempts. DON’T DO IT!!!

The second thing to remember is; people change. Throughout our lives, we change. I am certainly not the same woman today as I was in my twenties. Praise God!! We change. We grow. If it wasn’t our Christianity that changed us it would be some other passion. Understanding this concept will free you from guilt. Successful marriage is navigating change together through the years. It is the surrender of self by both partners. That is real love. This is the love that Christ models for us.

Now go and do likewise!! Be blessed!


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Going It Alone - Grief in the Sanctuary

One other area of the “church alone” experience that could just cripple me was grief. I would arrive at church, sit down then I would notice all of the couples seated around me. Observing a husband with his arm around his wife during the service could be excruciatingly painful. I think I would mourn for what I perceived as lost forever. A Christ centered family and marriage. My grief was real enough that I could not concentrate on the service. I believe this also contributed to the conflicts that arose at home when I returned from church. My poor husband. When this grief stuck that is when I wholeheartedly climbed into the arms of Christ. My prayer life stepped up and I found genuine comfort and I release my grief. Once again, Christ used my spiritual singleness to teach me to pray! I no longer sit in church and find myself grief-stricken. I now look for other women who are sitting alone and I purposefully go sit next to them. Sometimes God opens the door for conversation about attending church alone. I find these divine appointments absolutely, amazing. I have much more to say about how we can help those who are following behind us on this path of spiritual singleness. I plan to post about this in a few days. The next post I want to share is “their perspective.” I actually interviewed my husband yesterday about his thoughts and feelings about God, church and our marriage. This was an eye opener. He has given his permission to share his thoughts. Next post…… Are they just as mad, hurt and disappointed as we are????? I have some interesting perspectives from not only my husband but also others who are living in a mismatched marriage and don’t believe. Until then, be blessed, Lynn

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Going It Alone - Before and After

The battle is already raging around me. Conflicting thoughts invade my conscious mind flashing swiftly. Do I go to church today? I could stay home. Will I have to fight with my kids to get them to church with me? Will my husband get out of bed? I know I am going to be angry, I can already feel it. God wants me to join Him. I want to sing! Is it a football Sunday, there is not a chance my hubby will be joining me. Is there? Yikes!! What a mess and I haven’t even jumped out of bed yet!! Sunday was torture for me. I usually experience one the two scenarios on any given Sunday morning: 1) Anger or frustration followed by pouting before I left for church or 2) anger or frustration followed by pouting arriving home from church. In the early years of our marriage, I was convinced that if my husband would just attend church and hear the truth of God’s word, he would be saved and life would be forever blissful. I pushed him hard to go to church with me. I must admit that this man loves me because he would attend from time-to-time just to keep the peace and make me happy. But what resentment this created in his heart - a story for another day. On mornings when he refused to attend, my anger and disappointment would erupt. I couldn’t help it. Sometimes I would bang things around or tears would just come and I would leave for church feeling completely deflated. Bing, enemy wins this round. Many mornings I went off to church alone with a smile on my face and with great anticipation in my heart. I would experience the mountaintop with God through worship. The pastor would deliver a message that had me practically skipping when I left church. Then…… I would arrive home and the lump under the covers was still under the covers. To this day, I cannot figure out why this bothered me so much. I became angry in an instant and the experience of the morning evaporated. Bing, enemy wins this round also. Slowly, slowly through honest prayer I released my disappointments to Christ. I would pray in the car while driving to or from church, Jesus, I am crawling up into your arms for comfort. Sooth my heart and let me turn to you for the companionship I desire at church. Lord, sit with me so I won’t feel alone. Amen I prayed along these lines many times and for months and not just in the car. Jesus used my loneliness to draw me to Him. At the time, I didn’t comprehend that I was placing my husband at the center of my church experience but Christ knew. Jesus wanted my whole heart and when I began to give it to Him, he would cradle me in the most amazing and supernatural way in His gentle yet firm arms. I still love to crawl into the arms of my Savior today and He still loves to hold on to me. Slowly I released my negative feelings directed at my husband. I can attend church with or without him and I am happy. Tomorrow I will talk about one other strong flash point for me: Grief in the Sanctuary! Be blessed, Lynn

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Going It Alone - It starts the night before

My apologies, this post is tardy. Life interrupted my blogging. Go figure!

It is another beautiful Sunday today and yes, I attended church this morning, alone. However, my eleven-year-old daughter joined me this morning. She volunteered, without my prompting, to work in the Kindergarten classroom while I attended church. I plan to write a series of articles next month on children, faith, and mismatched marriage. Our children are more of a concern than attending church alone. I would be grateful for your insights on this subject, please Email Me.

Going it Alone – It starts the night before.

Lesson 1:

Dineen Miller, who has been a guest writer for Spiritually Unequal Marriage, offered an excellent suggestion to prepare our hearts for Sunday mornings. Pray! Dineen is right on the mark! I know this is the typical suggestion for every Christian dilemma. However, it is what we pray for and how we pray that can change lives. Usually it is my life that is changed!!

I began to pray on Saturday morning, usually in my quiet time before the King. I would bring my desires for a Christian home before Him. I found if I humbly petition God for my spouse, my children and myself, my feelings of anger would melt away and were replaced with a genuine peace. A sincere, yet simple prayer might be something like this:

O Lord Jesus, Sunday mornings can tear my heart up. I ache, with a longing deep inside, for my spouse to know you. I ask, Lord, that you would soften his heart. Open his spiritual eyes to see there is an all-powerful God who loves people.

Later today, Lord, I will ask my spouse to go to church with me. Please prepare my heart for whatever his answer might be. Do not let my emotions overcome me. I know that your plan for my husband’s salvation is perfect. Let me rest in this knowledge. Let your love flow through me so powerfully that others see you. Let that love melt the hearts of my spouse and kids.

Tomorrow morning the enemy will throw many diversions into my path to keep me from your house. I bind the enemy by the power of the shed blood of Christ. I seek to worship you with a sincere heart. Wash me in the teaching from your word. Renew my soul for another week.

Mostly Lord I ask that you would change me. Change my selfish desires to desires that truly honor you. Let me live everyday as a follower of the Most High. I love you, Amen.

Let me make a bold promise right now……. God hears every prayer from a sincere and humble heart. Even this simple request whispered in earnest, is undeniable to our God. He will answer in ways we cannot fathom or expect. This is true of my life.

Lesson 2:

Another lesson learned was to stop dropping hints to my husband about going to church. I would wait anxiously on a Sunday morning to see if my husband would get out of bed to get ready for church. I would make an unusual amount of noise in the bathroom to insure I awakened him. What a lame idea! This game playing stressed me out and unwittingly set me up for a giant disappointment. Which, was subsequently followed by tears or anger or both. Then, inevitably, the slamming of the door as I headed off to church alone.

Then I began to ask my husband about church on Saturday night. “No pressure honey, but do you want to go to church tomorrow?” Asking early and with zero pressure gave my husband time to think it through and then freed him to attend on his terms.
This is spelled R-E-S-P-E-C-T!
WOW, what change occurred in both of us. I was no longer stressed on Sunday and amazingly, he attends more often now than when I threw a fit. Surprised? I also found I was not angry when he declined.

Okay, these are workable suggestions for the night before. But, Sunday arrives, off we go alone, we sit down behind the happy couple holding hands and we are overcome with regret and grief. What do we do with Sunday morning???

The next post…. Sunday morning alone and I am over it!

Be blessed this Lord’s Day, Lynn

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Going It Alone - Oh, the Social Pressure

When was the last time you went to the movie theater alone? What about going to a restaurant by yourself? Can you relate to the words profoundly uncomfortable and self-conscious? It feels like every other person in the place notices you, which multiplies your conspicuousness.

The thought of going alone to a social gathering can be paralyzing. Many single people experience aloneness anxiety in social situations. However, I am of the opinion that married people who attend social events alone, experience singleness anxiety, as well as feelings of, hurt, disappointment, and sadness. We also feel cheated! So why is it so difficult?

We are created to be social beings (Geneses 2:18) . From the time we are small, in most instances, we have lived in community with one another, parents, siblings, and friends. We then marry and become a couple. Our need for social interaction and validation stems from our Godly design (relationship) and our childhood experiences of community.

What I like to call coupledom is reinforced in our society through so many social activities. Two-ticket give-a-ways, two seats at the amusement park, there are many, many activities designed for two. Unfortunately, this is also true in our local church.

Many activities seem geared for couples, families, young people, or older people. Married adults who are not joined at church by their partner feel left out. Socializing with couples is hard because we feel out-of-place with out our mate by our side. Attending church alone is one of the bravest endeavors for a spiritually single person. We feel alone even when we are surrounded by people.

So how do we combat the loneliness and arrive at church with the right attitude? How do we rise above the grief when seated behind a happy couple in the sanctuary? What do we do with the thoughts of inflicting bodily harm on the lump under the covers on Sunday morning???

I have some real and practical suggestions to offer that have been so effective in my life. I want to share them tomorrow. I would like to hear from you. What do you do to combat some of the feelings this post evokes??

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Going It Alone - How did I get here?

So how do we find ourselves sitting in a pew alone? The stories are vast. Men and women become unequally yoked in four ways. Let’s take a look.

1) God will win over a spouse after marriage. This is probably the most common, especially with wives.

2) Sometimes, there is deception intentional or not intentional before vows. The spouse says they believe when in reality they have not truly surrendered to Christ.

3) On the other side, a believing couple marries but one spouse grows in their faith while the other stagnates.

4) Finally, willful disobedience. A believer marries a nonbeliever thinking I will win him/her over later.

This is my story, willful rebellion. That’s hard to type on the page. I want to share my story, however, to offer you hope. Our Great God worked through my rebellion to create in me a woman who is intensely in love with her redeemer. He has used my husband’s difficult questions and skepticism to grow my faith and character. I am eternally grateful.

The journey has been long and formidable. The years of confusion, fear and loneliness could bring me to the point where I wanted to give up. God would have none of that, however, and today I live in peace with my husband and with God. I am madly in love with them both.

Tomorrow we will look at aloneness in our society and how social pressures add to the alone feeling when we attend church. For today be blessed and know that Jesus can redeem even the most rebellious! Praise God!! Lynn


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Going It Alone - Preface

As I started to organize my thoughts and research materials for the up-coming series on church attendance, I was impressed by the Spirit to first begin with a different post.

Today, take a minute to remember your love story. How did your love for your spouse begin?

When did you meet? How did you meet? Who introduced the two of you? What was it about your spouse that intrigued you? Do you remember thinking about him or her all day long? What were some of the fun things you did together? What caused you to be moonstruck? Was it his smile? Was it her laugh? Remember the fragrance he wore. What quirky mannerisms endeared you to her?

It is my prayer, this process will keep love in the forefront of our minds as we endeavor to tackle tough emotions in the posts to follow. If we have not love, we have nothing. Take a minute to read: 1 Corinthians 13 in a fresh way.

Lord, I hold my spouse up to You today. I thank you Father for my life-partner. Help me find a way to show love to my helpmate, today. Let love for my spouse flow out of the boundless love you lavish on me. Amen

Stay tuned for ……… Going it alone!

Be blessed,

Lynn

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Beautiful Sunday Morning!

What a beautiful Sunday morning!! I am up early to read, pray and then I am going to church.

Yes, I am going alone.

I sincerely love going to church. I feel a supernatural recharge when surrounded by like-minded people who love Jesus. Going to church alone, however, was an enormous obstacle in the early years. It was almost incapacitating emotionally when I would sit behind a couple who were, perhaps holding hands. Noticing a family together at church was crushing and I would grieve.

I would grieve my aloneness and what I thought was a broken family before God. I would become so upset that I couldn’t focus on the message, which I desperately needed to hear.

Today, I am free of that hurt and on my way to The House of the Lord! I can’t wait to get there.

This week I am going to discuss how to break free of the fears, hurts, and expectations of going to church alone.

This is one of the most difficult areas in a mismatch marriage. I want to hear how many of you have overcome. Please leave me your thoughts. Be blessed,

Lynn

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