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21 entries from June 2010

Thankful Thursday -

Let us give thanks. It is Thankful Thursday.

This month we are spending the HOT month of July here at Spiritually Unequal Marriage. Next month we will meet up with Laurie of Women Taking A Stand and in September we will share our thanks with Iris of Grace Alone

Hi Everyone. So glad you joined me to give praise and thanksgiving to our Lord. 

I have so many things to be thankful as we start the second half of 2010. SAY WHAT?  Half the year has rushed passed already. Whoa!

I must pause on this July 1st to give thanks for the privileges of living in America. As we celebrate our 234th birthday, I do pause to ask all of you to pray along with me for this nation, it's leaders and especially the people and animals affected by the Gulf oil spill.

On another note, I want to share one of my favorite people with you. Okay, he's not a people but he thinks he is.

Imported Photos 00115

 

This is Peanut.

Believe it or not, I learn a great deal about unconditional love and loyalty from this mutt. I also see so many parallels in living for the Lord as this little pup lives for the joy of our family.

Peanut was born a happy, playful and pretty much a giddy little dog. He was sweet and curious and always up for adventure. He would prance around the kitchen when he received a dog bone and he would race to the front door when it was time for a walk.

But..... life happened to Peanut.

Early in his life he slipped away from the safety of our home late at night. He was met, we think, by one or two coyotes who were looking for a meal. I don't know how he escaped but he limped home, torn, bleeding and full of fear.

Five days later I visited Peanut at the veterinarian hospital and the vet pronounced, "I think Peanut has decided to live."

Whew! We took the little guy home. But that's not all. 

He tore his foot open at the park. Another vet visit

He was jumped by a big dog on a walk. Gash in the side, Another visit to the all night animal hospital

Seizure. Another late night to the Animal hospital. Etc.

I have spent more money on this dogs injuries than all of my other pets I have own my entire life combined. There is a brand spankin' new addition to the vet's office that is named after the Donovans *grin*.

Sheesh!                                                              

The many traumas this little guy has experienced has changed my dog. He is often frightened. Won't go outside for long. He trembles over any loud noise and is jumpy and hesitant. I've watched as fear has taken up residence and squashed his once adventurous spirit. 

He has learned the hard way, much like we do, that we live in a dangerous world at times. He has also learned that under our protection he is safe well cared for and receives enormous amounts of pets on the back each evening.

I think about the times I ran away from the Lord during my prodigal years. How I encountered danger and struggle. Those dark years were often scary and uncertain. I made bad choices and today, bare the consequences of my actions. There were wolves disguised in sheep's clothing waiting to tear my heart apart......

However, I returned home.

My Lord doctored me up. Invested enormous amounts of love and care into my healing. His Son paid a heavy price to have a mansion built for me. 

So, as I look down at my little Peanut tonight and smile at him with love and stroke his back to give him comfort and security, my big imagination comes to life. I see my Lord, reaching down with a gentle smile, a hand of comfort and a heart of grace as he gently speaks soothing words to the broken places in my soul.

Psalm 147:3 He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. 

I read this passage this morning as my dog sat with my on the couch during my quiet time. Tears flooded my eyes. He indeed, heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.

and..... those of little dogs as well. Imported Photos 00111  

Be blessed, Lynn

What are you thankful for. Write your Thankful Thursday post, then link up here, visit a few of the others and mostly offer praise for the Lord is good and He is faithful. Hugs, Lynn

*****

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Pursuing Salvation

Prayer:Confession The other night I sat with a friend in a coffee shop as we swapped the latest details of our lives. I shared with her about my father’s funeral, which led to me telling her about a conversation I recently had with my husband.

I asked him this question years ago, but since my father’s death, the need to ask again had suddenly presented itself. Did he still believe when he died, that was it? He just ceased to exist. He said yes. Then I asked what if at the end, he finds out he’s wrong?

His answer continues to make me fearful for him. He said he’d deal with it. I expressed my concern over this and what it really means. And I shared my heart. I didn’t want to think about him not being in heaven. I told him I wanted him there with me.

But for him this is foolishness. God doesn’t exist, therefore, worrying over something nonexistent makes no sense to him.

I shared this with my friend, and she brought up the Scriptures below and her suspicion that there might be a clue to be found. I took up her challenge.

15-16But if the unbeliever leaves, let him do so. A believing man or woman is not bound in such circumstances; God has called us to live in peace. How do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or, how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife?

17Nevertheless, each one should retain the place in life that the Lord assigned to him and to which God has called him. This is the rule I lay down in all the churches. — 1Cor. 7:16-17

All through the Psalms, the writers call out to God to save them. The Hebrew form of the word “save” predominantly used is yasha` which means to be delivered, to be saved (in battle), be victorious, and even is used in terms of saving from moral troubles.

In the New Testament, when the disciples and others call to Christ to save them, the Greek word used for save is sōzō and means to save, keep safe and sound, to rescue from danger or destruction. When used in reference to a person it goes further to mean to save from suffering (from perishing), from disease, to make well, heal, and restore health. The technical biblical sense of the word tenders upon the penalties of Messianic judgment and “to save from the evils which obstruct the reception of the Messianic deliverance.”*

The one used in 1Cor. 7:15-17 is sōzō. As I read its meanings, a thought crossed my mind. We know we can’t save our unbelieving spouses. We don’t hold that power, nor the authority. We are called to pray for them according to God’s will. But what if our roll as Christ’s representatives played a deeper role than we’ve considered. What if we were to view ourselves as an element of healing in our spouses’ spiritual lives and this is our calling?

Take a look at these verses as translated in The Message:

15-16On the other hand, if the unbelieving spouse walks out, you've got to let him or her go. You don't have to hold on desperately. God has called us to make the best of it, as peacefully as we can. You never know, wife: The way you handle this might bring your husband not only back to you but to God. You never know, husband: The way you handle this might bring your wife not only back to you but to God.

17And don't be wishing you were someplace else or with someone else. Where you are right now is God's place for you. Live and obey and love and believe right there. God, not your marital status, defines your life. (my emphasis) Don't think I'm being harder on you than on the others. I give this same counsel in all the churches.

The line I emphasized says it all, doesn’t it? What is God calling you to do in your marriage?

Praying and believing,
Dineen

*Greek and Hebrew definitions researched at www.blueletterbible.org.

*****

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A Marriage Delivered from the Pit of Hell!

This is a day of great rejoicing and celebration. 

When I first started chatting with Deb, she was living in shall I say, a "difficult marriage." I watched and prayed over the months for her and her husband. There was a point where even me, the believer in marriage and the one person who believes any marriage can be restored, doubted this marriage could be healed.

Oh Praise be to Jesus because in our doubt, struggle and sometimes, hell on earth, Jesus can heal a marriage. Today it is my great privilege to share my friend Deborah with all of you. Many of you know her from our loop at 1Peter3Living on Yahoo. Many of you held her in prayer. THANK YOU. 

Already, at a young age of 26, she has lived through a marriage she never imagined could happen to her yet she discovered triumph through the power of Jesus Christ. Although her marriage story is still relatively new, it should be a story that encourages all of us to believe and to pray.

So now, I give you Deb. This story is worth the read. Be blessed, Lynn 

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First of all I want to say how privileged I am to be able to share my story on Spiritually Unequal Marriage. I never envisioned myself in this position, mainly because the struggles I have experienced over the last three years seemed unending and at times hopeless, but wonder of wonders, here I am to tell the tale and rejoice over what God has done. 

For all of you who haven't met me yet, my name is Deb and I have been married to my husband for almost three years. There were doubts in more than one quarter if we would ever make it to one year let alone three, but that would be jumping ahead of the story. : ) 

Following our four year engagement, (we weathered two and a half of those years apart in different countries) and subsequent wedding on September 2007, it was only three months later that I found myself Googling 'loneliness in marriage' in the hopes of finding help for my newfound struggles. This is how I stumbled across Spiritually Unequal Marriage. Through this website God has led me to a place where I have become strengthened and equipped through the prayers and support of people who have now become like family. Your posts and e-mails have kept me sane on the crazy days and grateful on the good days. I’m so thankful to know you. 

To backtrack, my relationship with my spouse had always been characterized by significant ups and downs. I would attribute this partly to our dysfunctional upbringings, partly to our equally intense and opposite personalities, and also to the fact that any marriage, especially one where believers are involved, is a favorite target of Satan. 

When we first met what attracted me most to my husband was his passionate love for Christ. He was absolutely radiant with the light of Jesus and I had never met anyone with whom I clicked so well spiritually. Throughout our engagement however, he had some negative experiences in the church we were attending at the time, and by the time we were married I was more or less holding onto what I had seen rather than what I was seeing regarding his walk with God. Despite this development, I was still fondly hoping that he would soon 'snap out of it', and become the spiritual leader that I had always wanted him to be. I knew that if he would only get it together in the spiritual department we would soon experience marital bliss on a near perfect scale and live out all my dreams together. I say this all with a wry smile, because you may be smiling too at my naiveté. (On a side note, I still very much believe in these dreams, but more on that later.) 

Needless to say, I unwittingly placed such a burden of my expectations for happiness on him, that with his own inability to handle some of his own issues, let alone mine combined, we began having conflict that only heightened as the days and weeks continued. For the first few months he was more or less strong enough to handle my anger and frustration, but it wasn't long before he threw up his hands in defeat and retreated into his shell. His words to me at the time were that I could no longer count on his support, spiritually or emotionally, as a husband or even a friend, and that all he cared to do from then on was find his satisfaction in online gaming. He participated in an online game, EverQuest, often shortened to EQ, which is a 3D fantasy-themed massively multiplayer online role-playing game. You can imagine how crushed I was to discover that everything I had wanted was now beyond reach. What doubled my anguish was the feeling that I was entitled to at least a measure of happiness. 

From the age of three I had dedicated my life to God and since then my best dreams culminated in a desire to serve Him with a husband who wanted the same thing. With that as my foundation, how was it possible that things could have gone so awry? 

For months we coexisted in an extremely tense and hostile environment. With the best I had I tried to cope with the new situation, but each day would find me in tears of despair. I have memories of walking the streets weeping, begging God to intervene. I still remember the nights and early mornings when he wouldn't come to bed but spent all hours of the night and morning gaming in his computer room. I can still recall his dark anger at my attempts to intervene. 

What I secretly hoped was temporary became solidly worse as five hours of gaming stretched into ten and ten into fifteen and my husband's obsession deepened into addiction. The disappointment and bitterness I carried had now become a weight I couldn't bear. At this point I was asking everyone I knew for help and prayer. I was unashamed in my needs, and I know that many of your prayers are what carried me through those initial troubled days. (A quiet thank you again for that.) 

It was only eight months after we married that I left home and took up residence elsewhere. This was decided upon after explaining my situation to pastors and friends who agreed that our situation had become so volatile that it was no longer safe. What I never conceived could happen was now a reality and I was separated from the love of my life and desperate and alone. From that point followed a year and a half period where our relationship fluctuated from okay to ugly and I was barely coping from day to day. 

Looking back it puts a lump in my throat to see how tenderly God cared for me over that time. I was extremely blessed to have an excellent church which gave me a lot of support and help. At every point I needed help, Jesus provided a friend who would send me a letter at just the right time, or a text when I thought I was going over the edge. In every possible way He was saying to me - 'I am watching over you. Don't despair.' 

Of course, being Deb, I did despair, even many times a day, but I also clung to Him like I never had before. This period, for me, was characterized by an intense and painful learning curve. Through it God was revealing to me areas of my life that He wanted to heal and transform. I didn't realize how imbalanced I was in my perceptions and thoughts about marriage, myself and even God. It wasn't until I was separated from Dans that I was able to see how needy and insecure I was and how much I had relied upon him to complete me. I had gotten to the point where I blamed him for all the unhealthy ways I expressed my frustrations and felt that if it wasn't for his lack of spirituality, I would be making better choices. 

God didn’t let me stay there too long however, and my anger with my husband began giving way to acknowledgement that he was not wholly responsible for our marriage breakdown. I began attending regular counseling with my pastor’s wife Connie, who walked me through inner healing and forgiveness. Together we asked God to reveal the root issues as to why I had become co-dependent and why I felt trapped no matter which way I looked. In answer to the most tormenting why question of all - 'why me?' God revealed that sometimes He allows wounds in our life to heal even deeper ones, and this was certainly true in my case. 

What broke my heart most regarding our situation was that my husband had renounced God and cursed Him to his face. I judged him in my heart for this, without realizing that God’s command for us to love our enemies and bless those that curse us (Matt 5:44) means that He also acts according to that same standard of behavior. This means that any of our spouses, no matter if they have never known God, or have known Him and then turned away, are still loved by the Father and blessed regardless. (Matt 5:45) 

About a year into our separation my husband began attending counseling with me which was in itself a huge miracle. He had become so resistant to any kind of help that I wondered if he would ever reach out again. From there we began to dialogue about our differences and slowly came to understand and forgive each other, bit by bit. Even the tiniest steps were huge, as we had so much ground to gain. I think because the progress seemed so slow, months later I was beginning to lose faith again that things would really improve. 

In January this year, however major things started to happen. I believe that as a result of many people's prayer and intercession, he lost the desire to play computer games. For those of you who don't know about gaming, for someone like my husband who played upward of 16 hours almost every day for two years, this is the equivalent to a heroin addict suddenly deciding they don't need the drug anymore. This decision was the catalyst for a completely brand new season for both of us. From that point on we have continued to heal and just two months ago we found a lovely apartment and moved in together! 

Thank you Jesus. 

Even more amazing is the continued newness that we are now experiencing in our relationship. We have actually had times of praying together, sharing our hearts about life and where we stand with God, and are finally discovering the ability to talk over even the toughest of issues without becoming enemies. 

You have to know how hopeless it seemed for two and a half years to grasp the fullness of how amazing this is. I know that we will continue to have our battles, but God has truly done amazing things in my marriage. 

By no means am I intimating that our struggles are over, or even that we have come through everything. In a real sense we are only just starting. What I am saying is that God restored hope where there was none, took us out of a muddy pit and placed our feet on solid ground. 

Debs and Dans (3)  I hope this story blesses you as much as I have been blessed to recount it. Through it I have gained a knowing that I never had before: no matter how tough a situation can be God will see us through it stronger than before. 

~Deb

Bio:   Hi I'm Deb. Born of Greek parents in sunny Perth, Australia, I now live and work in the not-so-sunny but gorgeous state of Washington. I met my husband in the Old City of Jerusalem in 2003 while completing the second year of my BA in English and Jewish studies. Following a lengthy four year engagement Dans and I were married in Tulsa Oklahoma on September 2007. I currently work for an airline which provides plenty of drama and 'scope for the imagination. Some of my best loves are traveling, reading classic literature, taking long road trips and eating chocolate.

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Weekend Devo — Our Greatest Strength

Hi there! I'm making my video blog debut today! Bear with me as I learn the ropes. :-) Hopefully my "greenness" won't take away from the message. Have a wonderfully blessed weekend with your spouse and stay strong in WHO YOU ARE!
Praying and believing,
Dineen



*****

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Here I Go Again.....
Where DO We Draw the Line?

I’m in a quandary. 

I have shared with you in past months how comparing our spouse to another spouse is a toxic occupation. For example we try not to notice but can’t help to observe how “Cindy’s” husband (not her real name) is amazingly considerate of her. We watch her husband with the kids and think, "Wow, what a great Dad.”. He opens the door for Cindy after parking the car and they walk toward the worship center holding hands. We know this man stops for flowers every Friday on his way home from work. Etc., etc. etc….. 

And to top it off, the man prays with his wife. 

Boy howdy, that green buzzard of envy takes up residence in our hearts at times. It’s not that we want THAT guy but we sure wish our forgetful and less considerate spouse would take a lesson or two. 

So, here is what’s bugging me. 

Without comparing our marriage to others we wouldn’t know when we are in a dangerous or seriously harmful relationship. Without comparisons, would we know when behaviors are outside the boundaries of a healthy marriage relationship? On the flip side, we need good examples. We need to view other marriages to understand the Biblical model and learn to emulate a Godly marriage. 

However, at what point do we go too far. Where is the danger in comparisons and where is the benefit? Where do we draw the line? Is the line a moving target? 

I ask this question because I don’t know. So, I’m asking you. Where is the balance? Do we dare compare? 

Okay, let me hear your thoughts. This is going to be a great conversation and I will tell you as I hit the publish button, I prayed over this conversation that the Lord would lead us to His truth. 

Be blessed, Lynn PS. 

Will be checking in and joining the conversation.

*****

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Thankful Thursday 2 Timothy 1:7

Let us give thanks. It is Thankful Thursday.

This month we are meeting with Iris of Grace Alone. We will meet back here in July.

I'm a tad behind with my Thankful Thursday post and just have a quick moment to share something before I rush out to the courthouse to report for Jury Duty.

Today my mind is drawn to this scripture 2 Timothy 1:7 For God did not give us a spirit of fear, but a spirit of power, of love and of a sound mind.

I recall Lysa TerKeurst speaking about this passage a few weeks ago. It still is present in my mind how we must stand of the truths we know and reign in our emotions.

I believe this passage became absolutely real to me in the past several weeks. I am so thankful for the truth of God's Word and it's ever present power in the life of an ordinary woman.

What are you thankful for? 

Be blessed, Lynn

*****

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What’s Your Tone?

IStock_000002904078XSmall In his book Blink, Malcolm Gladwell uses many examples of the ways we make split decisions. Early on in the book he makes reference to Dr. John Gottman’s “Four Horsemen:” defensiveness, stonewalling, criticism, and contempt. Gottman says the most important of these and the most destructive is contempt.

As a writer, I’m very much aware of people’s body language. When I write fiction, I like to use these aspects of our communication to bring across a character’s emotional state. Body language says a lot. Most interestingly, I had a chance recently to observe both of these aspects right in a grocery store and the subject of my observation was a married couple.

I walked down an aisle in search of my favorite cereal and passed a couple with a young child in the front of their shopping cart. At first I didn’t pay much attention, but what caught my notice first was the tone in which the wife was speaking to her husband.

Contempt.

Though I couldn’t tell you the subject of their conversation, I cued in quickly on the contempt that defined her tone of communication. We’ve talked a lot here about how important respect is in relationship and another word for contempt is disrespect.

I will tell you I was surprised at the level that I witnessed. I lingered in the aisle, curious to observe this couple for just a moment longer. When I glanced at the husband, I immediately noticed he stood with his hands in his pockets, back slumped and his head down. He didn’t say much either. Often he wasn’t able to because the wife was quick to counter his answer. Again, with contempt.

Sadly, I can say this was me in the early years of my marriage. And I will share that it takes a lot of time to rebuild a relationship from this point and allow the husband to trust his place in the marriage. What I have now is a marriage that is growing and flourishing, a true partnership. Not one trying to impose over the other.

The heart of this attitude is pride I think. That may sting to hear, but I do think it comes from a place where we think we are better than another person. And we know that’s not biblical.

For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you. — Romans 12:3

None of us receive God’s contempt but his grace instead. Truly something to think about.

Praying and believing,
Dineen

*****

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False Hope?

Cooltexthope  Last Monday many of you tuned in and listened to my video log entitled, Powerful One Sentence Prayer. Thanks for tuning in and listening. I was moved by your many thoughtful and hopeful comments. I believe strongly in the power of prayer. My confidence in Christ is so strong that even though I face a monumental setback with regard to the hope for my husband’s salvation, I will not stop praying. (see Friday’s post for a Chronicles of the Donovan Clan update.) 

One of the comments from last Monday has been on my mind and heart heavily since it was posted. I will tell you I think it has validity and it is a discussion we need to engage as it relates to marriage. 

Below is the comment. Read through it and let me know your thoughts. Let’s have a real conversation about how we navigate a difficult marriage in which this woman speaks. To get a full understanding of her comment, click here and listen to the video log message, then come back and let’s chat. 

Love this blog, Lynn and Dineen. What a beautiful heart you both have. God bless you for helping women like you do. Question: can we really use a prayer like some magical wand we wave over husbands? When do we finally recognize that Christ may call us to endure certain loss in our marriage and let go of expectations? Maybe this question is taking an entirely different direction, but I'd love to hear some responses. As a woman in a marriage with no emotional, spiritual, or sexual needs being met, but a comfortable house and paid utilities, I gave up praying like that twenty years ago. Just to live in peace with this man is the most I can hope for, not because of my lack of faith, but because Jesus has not chosen to change anything about this man. I've been told to divorce him but please don't misunderstand. I don't want to disparage anyone's faith or hope in the Lord to bring about change; God can do whatever He thinks is best for the individual. But I don't give others false hope. The more I pray, the more loss I experience which only shows me the overcoming power of Christ to bring me through the terrible heartache with healing and joy in spite of the pain. Maybe I'm wrong about all this but it seems I've had to let go of all expectations to ever be loved the way I want to be, by my very own husband and don't see or hear anyone talking about this. 

Dineen and I look forward to joining this conversation. We will be checking in and adding some of our thoughts and our experience. I am also greatly interested in any scriptures or prayers you can suggest to us on this subject. 

Thank you for taking time to write something in the comments. I know that there are many readers who never leave comments but they look to our online Christian Community to support and grow their faith. 

BIG hugs, Lynn

*****

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Weekend Devo — God Changes Attitudes

908745_the_king  For seven days they celebrated with joy the Feast of Unleavened Bread, because the LORD had filled them with joy by changing the attitude of the king of Assyria, so that he assisted them in the work on the house of God, the God of Israel. — Ezra 6:22 

This story in Ezra 6 is most fascinating. An order by King Darius to search the archives led to the discovery of a decree made by King Cyrus that the temple be rebuilt. Once found, King Darius ordered the Temple be finished. 

As I read this, one thought went through my head. If God can change the attitude of a king (especially self-centered and prideful ones) then… 

God can change the attitude of anyone. 

God can change the heart of anyone. 

God can change unbelief to belief in anyone. 

Let’s praise God for being stronger than anything we face, including our spouse’s unbelief. And let’s BELIEVE this kind of change is possible in our precious loved ones as well as within ourselves. 

We praise you, Lord, for your greatness and your gentleness. Forgive our unbelief and help us BELIEVE! Us, and our unbelieving loved one. We give you all the glory. In Christ’s powerful name, amen!

Praying and believing,
Dineen

*****

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Chronicles of the Donovan Clan

It’s been a long time since I have written about our family. I think I am finally at a place to give you an update and share with you what has transpired in the months since my husband’s return to work. 

For those of you who are new here, I will give you a quick recap. Last year, January 2009, my husband lost his job. He was fairly certain he would find new employment quickly as he works in the High Tech industry. However, after three months passed he found himself surprised and then worried. The worry and stress grew as month six came and went. As I recall, it was about then, June of last year, he began to pray. I remember clearly my husband walking into my tiny hallway office, grabbing my hand, leading me to the family room because he wanted to pray for a potential job. 

I watched this amazing journey unfold as my husband went to church, opened his bible, prayed. Sounds like a believer, yes???? In November following a strong prayer weekend in which I attended in Florida, indeed, the Lord came through and my husband accepted a job the day before Thanksgiving. I remember talking with my man about how God had watched over us through the lean months of unemployment. 

I have miracle stories of provision as well as accounts of the Lord bringing three opportunities to work before my husband in early November and then delivered the perfect job, which is where he works today. (One story is so much a miracle that it is being included in a book ~amazing)

I was convinced this journey was my husband’s trek to the cross of Christ. But, as I write these words today, I must concede it hasn’t played out in the way I expected or wanted. 

Back in November I carefully and respectfully asked my husband if he had made promises to God. He said he had and he was considering baptism. I was thrilled and I waited anxiously for him to move forward in his faith journey. What happened after that is what caught me off guard. 

He began making excuses for not attending church, football season. “I’ll go to church after the season is over.” 

So I waited all the time believing. After football season, it was then our church was without a pastor. 

Here is where the story becomes difficult to share. Our new pastor spoke at church for two weekends in May. I could feel the excitement in our worship center. This man was the man for our church. I just knew my husband would like him and he attended church to listen to him speak. 

Finally, the time arrived for which I have prayed for years.

On the way home after service, I felt like the fullness of time had finally arrived. All the roadblocks were overcome and now my man would feel comfortable to continue his journey toward Christ and start with baptism. 

Sitting in the car, I asked him about the pastor. 

Well, I was utterly shocked at his reply. Let’s say he thought he was “okay.” 

I was utterly crushed. 

This is why. It was as if my future rush before my eyes in a flash. You see I had just turned 50 and the realization is that our new pastor will be a teacher in our church for probably a minimum of 10 years. This is the reality that hit me. I will be 60 years old and still doing this faith thing all by myself. 

It’s not about the preacher. It’s about my husband. It wouldn’t matter who was teaching, my husband is unwilling to surrender. 

I was devastated as I realized in that singular moment, I will be walking the journey of faith alone for the rest of my life. 

For about two weeks my hope wavered. I begged God to explain why this happened. I asked God, “Am I praying within your will for my husband?” 

I grieved. 

I grieved over the hope I had for the later years of my life and that my husband would be an enthusiastic participant in living for Jesus. It was not to be. 

This long journey of unemployment did not end at the foot of the cross. 

I think I was so spiritually sick that several people sensed it. I received emails, phone calls a card in the mail. (This just proves to me how connected we all are at the spiritual level. I hadn’t told anyone and yet God sent others to pray for me and help me regain perspective.) 

I experienced a temporary loss of hope. I experienced the enemy snatching my faith away, stealing the truth from under me. 

But, Jesus heard my prayers and lifted me out of my sadness and told me to stand upon the truths that I so clearly know.

What I want to tell you today is this: I will never give up hope for my husband’s salvation. I have also learned some things about hope: 

Satan's attack on hope has been to deceive us into thinking that God will "endorse" our own dreams, passions, and desires if we hold onto them dearly and have enough "faith". Scripture, however, commands us to deny ourselves, take up our crosses, and follow Christ in dying to self. We are to hope in His will, His word, His life, and not our own. Self-indulgent "hope" is "on shifting sand" and is really no hope at all--but mere delusion, rebellion, and disobedience. 

Our only real hope is Christ, and Him crucified. Everything in the universe will soon melt away, including all of our vain and false "hopes". Everything we think so important now--gone! All of our hopes will then be shown for what they were. We will then be face to face with Him who bought us with such a great price and commanded us to follow. ~C.S. Lewis 

I am hearing the Lord asking me to sacrifice my “self-indulgent hope” for this life I dream about. He is calling me to continue to live out my faith based upon the promises of His Word. He is asking me to trust Him in the face of a life of faith alone - without my earthly partner. 

Gulp. 

It’s hard to even write it down and try to reconcile that it may be what is required. Could you do it? Can you look full in the face of what your biggest hope is and say to Jesus, “I surrender it?” 

This is where my mustard seed faith becomes as big as a mountain. I know the truth. I know Jesus. I can’t change anyone, especially my husband, I can only change me. I choose Jesus. It is by His power and love that I can face the rest of my life and still find great joy in the living. It is Jesus who takes my disappointment and turns it into a smile. It is the Redeemer who will remove this old dream and give me a bigger and better dream. 

I cannot, will not ever, never stop praying for the salvation of my husband. When he finally is baptized at perhaps age 85, you can bet this old woman will be posting a photo here of a gray-haired couple. You can be assured that we are both standing in our walkers and shouting to the heavens praises for God’s ways are always best ways.  Old-couple  

For all of you who have traveled along with me on this long journey, hoping and praying for us, I am humbly and utterly thankful. I don’t understand the why of it all and when I ask the Lord about it, He chooses not to explain. I only hear this, “Lynn, this is serving my purposes.” 

That is good enough for me. Be Blessed, Lynn

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Thankful Thursday - Father's Day

Let us give thanks. It is Thankful Thursday.

This month we are meeting with Iris of Grace Alone. We will meet back here in July.

Sunday is Father's Day!

Proverbs 12:18 Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.

I just want to remind everyone that Father's Day is this Sunday. You may be thinking about purchasing a necktie or a soap-on-rope but perhaps one of the bests gifts we could give is forgiveness and respect. 

DadandchildOne gift that you can give your husband is absolutely priceless. Look him in the eyes and say to him, "You can always be secure in the fact that I will never speak about you to others in a disparaging way."

He may not react or even comment but I can tell you, he will never forget this promise. 

Later this summer when you are standing about at a BBQ and other wives start in on the husband bashing, remember your promise and walk away. Better yet, say something which builds him up in the eyes of your friends. 

This Sunday see your husband as your hero. Tell him what makes him a great Dad. Love him with the love of Christ and see what God will do in your man. 

Happy Thankful Thursday All. BIG hugs, Lynn

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Things My Father Taught Me

535251_nexus I'm writing my post from the other side of the country. Sadly, my father passed away June 6 after battling cancer for seven years. My youngest daughter and I flew out for the service. This is the first time I've lost someone close to me, so it's been a huge learning experience as well. Here's what I've learned so far:

God prepares us for our trials. As scary and difficult as it was to go through my daughter's cancer diagnosis and recovery, this time prepared and strengthened me to handle my father's death. I can even look back to other times in my life and see how they also strengthened me. This has shown me another facet of God's complete provision.

God is with us in our grief. During the last week of my father's life, he was resident at a hospice house. This turned out to be a huge blessing in more ways than one. Just a couple days after he was admitted, I received a private email from a reader, asking for prayer for her marriage. Through our communications, she shared she was a hospice nurse. Though this dear woman had contacted me for prayer, she wound up praying for and encouraging me in my time of need. I know that was God's provision as well, sending a precious and understanding heart to give me support at a critical time.

God desires us to live without fear. The strangest realization has emerged in this time of reflection, loss, and grief. Having never lost someone close to me, I've feared this kind of loss. As the days progressed before my father's passing, I experienced God's constant comfort and reassurance. I realized that I didn't need to fear the pain of loss or disappointment because God was with me. He will always be there to walk the journey with me. I also realized that in protecting myself from this potential pain, I also handicapped my ability to experience elation. In other words, I will now to dare to dream and not fear disappointment. If I believe God is with me in my trials, grief and loss, then I choose also to believe that God is there working in my dreams and aspirations. I trust he's the one in control of all that and placed those desires there to begin with. I will dare to dream of the possibilities, and rest in the promise that God will bring all things to pass as he wills in his timing. And it will be good.

My earthly father taught me much on this earth, and in his death, I've learned even more, thanks to the provision of our heavenly Father. No matter what we experience in life, we can trust that God will be with us, and we can know that God will bring purpose from our pain and struggles.

Whether in life or in our mismatched marriages, we can persevere, hope, and dream. And we can trust that God is in control of it all, working for our good.

Praying and believing,
Dineen


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Bloom and Grow.... Forever

I was sitting in yet another class, at a Women’s Ministry, anticipating once again how I could learn something about surviving in a marriage with an unsaved husband. I’d been to many different kinds of classes on marriage and many different churches, searching and searching. There must be someone, some pastor, some ministry, someone that would help me to know how I could save my husband. I had been struggling for 25 years spiritually unequal in a 31 year marriage. Why was there never a sermon preached about it? I knew I wanted to live my life for Jesus. I just could not figure out how I could do that and also be with my husband. Oh how wonderful it would be to be able to do the Lord’s work together, after all we were a team. God what are you thinking here? How was I able to do this, if my husband is not onboard? We have to do this together. Please save him. 

Once again, I stated my name in this new class and told my story. How I was looking for spiritual intimacy with my husband and just how lonely I was. Everyone looked at me so sadly. I did learn about our different love languages and how it could make our marriage closer if we new each others language. It was fun but you see, that was not our problem at all. We couldn’t speak spiritual language. Our marriage is really great. We love each other very much. He’s my best friend on earth. Our wedding invitations read “ The more love that is shared, the more quickly it grows”. Well, it grew and grew and grew over the years. We’ve had a blast and still do. Raised a son, traveled halfway around the world living in a sailboat the whole time. Literally we are close. 

But I am lonely, Lord. How can I live for you and still live with someone who does not know You in his heart? I contemplated leaving, but I love him so. I don’t want to lose him. 

At the end of the class session, my leader gave me a book, “How to be the Happy Wife of an Unsaved Husband” by Linda Davis. WHAT? You mean there’s a book? Finally! Thank-you, Thank you! I went home immediately and started reading. It brought me to my knees in tears, sobbing tears. This book was exactly me. Oh no, Lord. Forgive me, please! I have been trying to control everything. Even trying to save my own husband and believing it was my fault he was not saved. 

Jesus taught me that day that I didn’t have to worry one bit about my man, that he was in His hands. It is His job to save him and that I was to let go and surrender him. And, “Cindi, I want you to just bloom. I have work for you, and I want you to just bloom into the most beautiful flower that I have created you to be.” In quoting Linda, “Your husband’s unbelief is no reason to hold back your own spiritual growth.” What I learned from that was not only surrendering my husband to God, but myself. It freed me up to grow and I’ve been blooming and growing ever since. God has led me to teach a class on the Unequally Yoked at my church. I love that others have the opportunity to share and know that they are not alone in this. The outpouring is amazing! God is amazing! 

I now see my husband through God’s eyes and love him how God wants me to love him. Our relationship is even closer than ever, different and more peaceful. There are changes in him and I believe it’s because of what God has changed in "me". God has a plan for my man as well and I relax and trust God to do His part with his salvation. I wait, but I bloom and grow....forever.

Cindi Valli Cindi Valli

My name is Cindi Valli and I am a born again Christian as of 25 years. I am married 31 years to the sweetest man ever. We have one son, who just turned 30 who we raised together on a boat. I home schooled him most of the time and we have traveled half way around the world on 3 separate sailboats. The most recent one we've had for 20 years and still live aboard. I have led a class in Bible Study Fellowship in the past and am currently leading a class called "Uniquely Yoked" at my church. I absolutely love Jesus and trust in Him with all my heart and I lean not on my own understanding. In all my ways, I try to acknowledge Him and when I do He always directs my path. Proverbs 3:5-6

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Powerful One Sentence Prayer

If you are married, this simple prayer will radically change your life, your spouse and your marriage. It doesn't matter if your spouse is a believer or unbeliever..... This prayer is for you. Be blessed, Lynn

 

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Thankful Thursday - School's Out!

Let us give thanks. It is Thankful Thursday.

This month we are meeting with Iris of Grace Alone. We will meet back here in July.

Well, this is the last week of school here in California. Yep, the school year is long, well into June and it's a short summer as the next school year begins August 11th. Sheesh. My daughter is fit to be tied. 

Thoughts of school flood my mind. All of the firsts. It was my daughter's freshman year of high school. I am thankful mostly that the Lord stood by her side and she grew a little more into the woman she is going to be. 

So today, I am thankful for teachers. The teachers in our very large high school, for the most part, are amazing. My shy daughter blossomed under the direction of her Performing Arts teacher. It was so cool to watch her change into a confident young woman. Thank you.

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Awards ceremony: Performing Arts

I am thankful for all teachers. Those who teach our children and those who taught us when we were small. I am thankful for those who continue to teach us even as adults. 

One of my goals has always been to learn something new everyday. I do. 

I give thanks to the Lord for teachers. Happy Thankful Thursday. Be Blessed, Lynn

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Is Divorce Really the Answer? — Part 2

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In last week’s post, I shared a list of lies and false beliefs from Nancy Leigh DeMoss’ book, Lies Women Believe. The second part of her book title is, “And the Truth That Sets Them Free.” Today I want to share the list of truths she counters those lies with.

  • There is no marriage God cannot heal.
  • The primary purpose of marriage is not to be happy, but to glorify God and reflect His redeeming, covenant love.
  • God uses the rough edges of each partner in a marriage to conform the other to the image of Christ. Your mate’s weaknesses can become a tool in God’s hand to make you into the woman He created you to be.
  • True love—God’s love—is unconditional and never fails. We cannot love another human being perfectly on our own. But God can love anyone through us, if we are willing to let Him. Love in not a feeling; it is a commitment to act in the best interests of another. By God’s grace, we can choose to love anyone, even if we do not have warm feelings toward that person.
  • Marriage is a covenant. God is a covenant-keeping God. He kept His promises to the nation of Israel, even when they were spiritually adulterous and pursued other lovers (see Jeremiah 11:10; Ezekiel 20:16; Hosea 2:13). The Lord Jesus keeps His promises to His bride—the church—even when we are unfaithful to Him. Because He is faithful to keep His promises, it is never right for us to break the marriage covenant that was intended to be a picture of the redemptive relationship between God and His people.
  • God has commanded us to forgive without limit.
  • Your faithfulness and willingness to extend sacrificial love to your mate may be the means of his spiritual healing, even as Christ’s suffering was the means by which we were healed (1Peter 2:24-25; 1Corninthians 7:12-14).
  • You don’t solve your problems by putting on another pair of shoes under the bed. (Statistically, second marriages have a higher divorce rate than first marriages.)
  • God’s grace is sufficient to enable you to be faithful to your mate and to love and forgive without limit.
  • God will never forsake you. Regardless of what you must endure, He will be there to carry you through.
  • The rewards of faithfulness in this life may not be fully experienced until eternity. But faithfulness will be rewarded and it will be worth the wait!*
I know some of this may be hard to swallow, but Lynn and I can tell you from experience that these are the truths that allow us to thrive in our mismatched marriages.

You might be thinking that if you do all this, you’ll have nothing left for you. I know I did for a long time. Let me tell you that’s also a lie. You can’t out give God. When you choose to love your spouse sacrificially, you will be amazed at what can happen. Of how God does reward you in this lifetime.

For years I never felt my husband would be there for me in a time of crisis or difficulty. I was envious of women who called their husbands their best friend or their hero. I wanted to have that kind of relationship with my husband. I wanted to know I could rely on him to be there in a crunch.

But God called me first to love my husband as He loved him. To love him as if he were a Christian and no differently. That was the beginning of great change. Next, God wanted me to get out of the way. To trust Him in letting my husband lead our family. More change. Instead of asking God to change my husband, I began to ask Him to change my attitude. Then God called me to love my husband above myself, to be there for him in whatever way God asked me too. Even when it seemed risky. Again, more change came.

I can stand before you today a completely different wife than I was 15 years ago. The amazing thing is that my husband is not the same husband he was even just five years ago. My change became the catalyst to his change, and these last few weeks have been the proof. In the midst of loss, my husband has come along side me is ways I never imagined him capable. I am in awe and give God all the glory for this miracle.

Now I can say I am married to my best friend and he’s my hero. I adore this guy and am so thankful for him.

You can have this too! Remember, you’re not doing the changing. God is changing you! You just have to let Him. Decide to love your spouse, whether or not your feelings of love are there. I promise you, the feelings will follow. You will fall in love with your spouse all over again.

The greatest truth we can learn is that love is a choice, not a feeling. Just as Christ chose to love us in our sin and die for us. He made a choice based on truth.

Praying and believing,
Dineen

*Excerpts taken from Lies Women Believe and the Truths That Set Them Free by Nancy Leigh DeMoss, pages 159-160.

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Lysa TerKeurst and a Portion

Was I excited or what?

Lysa TerKeurst visited my home town over the weekend. She was the speaker at the Crossline Community Church women’s retreat here in our valley. The retreat was fantastic and the gals from Crossline welcomed me into their sisterhood with open arms. 

Most of you know I adore Lysa. She is a powerful speaker and writer. I have read just about all of her books and I am super excited for her next one to be released late this year. I also read her blog every day. It’s that good. 

Over breakfast on Saturday, I chatted with Lysa and Holly Good, her traveling buddy, also an amazing woman who servers our Jesus. Lysa is as generous and kind in person, one-on-one, as she appears on stage, at her blog, and throughout her books. 

Here is a photo of us at breakfast. 

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 (don't know what was going on with the strange crook in my neck. *sheesh*)

This is Lysa and Holly. 

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It was a great privilege to spend time with her and I am deeply thankful she made time to meet with me. We chatted about ministry, books, blogs, her traveling schedule (grueling, I might add) and a bazillion other things. Lisa loves Jesus and her words to me personally and to the women attending the conference were powerful, life-changing and filled with the truth of God’s love. 

All of the ladies but especially me, were inspired. Several women crossed the line and accepted Jesus into their heart on Saturday. The Lambs book of life shines brighter today. Praise the Lord. 

Imported Photos 00012 Today I am compelled to share some of Lysa’s teaching. She was leading us through a few scriptures that came alive for me. 

Psalm 73:26 My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

Lysa asked, “I wonder if we started to pray and ask God for Him to be our portion, how different our lives would be.” 

I sat in my seat and her words hit me with the full force of the Holy Spirit. What if I asked Jesus to be my portion in my marriage? What if I asked Jesus to be my portion when I want to turn to junk food? What if I asked Jesus to be my portion……. ? 

So, today, along with Lysa, I ask you to begin praying this simple prayer: 

Jesus, be my portion of (insert your struggle here) for today. 

Lysa shared, “Even when Jesus taught us to pray, He asked for His portion. Matthew 6:11 Give us today our daily bread. If Jesus asked for His portion, we should too.” 

Jesus is our portion. Jesus is our groom. Jesus is our healer. Jesus IS. 

Have an amazing week. Fill it up with Jesus and watch as the cares of this earth become strangely dim. Be blessed, Lynn

Check out more portion prayers posted on Lysa's blog here: Portion Prayers

Also, I want to give a shout out to e-Mom and all my friends over at Chrysalis. Can't wait to read all about the Honeymoons. I hope to join in again next month. 

First Monday of every month at Chrysalis


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Weekend Devo — God's Love

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I will not speak with you much longer, for the prince of this world is coming. He has no hold on me, but the world must learn that I love the Father and that I do exactly what my Father has commanded me. — John 14:30-31


This verse was part of my Bible reading yesterday, and I found myself lingering over verse 31. You can almost hear the strength and yearning in Christ’s words. As God’s children, Jesus wants us to understand that He loves the Father and only wants to do His will. He’s all about the Father’s will.

As I read this, my thought was what an amazing example this gives us for our pursuit of faith and our relationship with God. We have this amazing Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit, which is bound not only by power but by LOVE!

That’s a new thought for me and so amazing to comprehend. Our God is all about love, pure and simple. Good or bad, in the end, it’s all about how He loves us.

Lord, you are so amazing in your love for us, a love so deep and wide it’s incomprehensible and overwhelming! Thanks for love us so completely, so sacrificially, and so endlessly. We don’t deserve it, yet you gift us this amazing love out of your pure goodness. We worship and adore you. In Christ’s most holy name, amen!

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I'm Not A Perfect Mother

Highschoollunchroom I'm not a perfect mother by a long way. I am also married to an unbeliever so the challenges to raise a child to love Jesus are enormous. But, along the way I may have done a few things right. The best thing I did.....

Join me today over at Laced With Grace for a story on Proverbs 22:6. Be blessed, (The Prodigal Daughter) Lynn


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Is Divorce Really the Answer?

IStock_000005523181Medium“No sooner does a couple say, “I do,” than the Serpent rears his ugly head and sets out to destroy that marriage. He knows every divorce is an attack on the character of God and on the earthly picture of divine redemption. Before the wedding reception is over, Satan is looking for opportunities to plant seeds of deception in the hearts of the newlyweds.” —Nancy Leigh DeMoss, Lies Women Believe (p. 156)

That’s a sobering statement, isn’t it? We’ve been doing a lot of chatting on the 1Peter3Living loop on the aspects of spiritual warfare specifically in a spiritually mismatched marriage. As Nancy Leigh DeMoss says, marriage is under constant attack. I believe it’s even more so in a spiritual mismatch because we are a constant godly influence to an unbeliever.

This specific chapter that I’m quoting from Lies Women Believe is the chapter about divorce. Specifically how sometimes we are deceived into believing our situation is hopeless and divorce is the best solution.

DeMoss gives a very realistic picture of the progression of lies and deceptions cleverly placed in our paths of marriage that strategically conquer and destroy (sound familiar) our marriages.

Look at these examples she gives:

  • Forgets an anniversary
  • Shows up an hour late for a date and forgets to call
  • Agrees for the two of you to work on a project without talking to you first
  • Tells his parents you’ll be there for Christmas, when you were hoping to spend Christmas with your parents
  • Or any one of a thousand “offenses”

She goes on to say, “To nurse the offense, rather than choosing to forgive and release it, is to become vulnerable to deception that grows bigger and stronger with the passing of time.”

  • He’s always inconsiderate.
  • He doesn’t care that he hurt me.
  • He’s impossible to live with.
  • He’ll never be any different.
  • _____________ (insert name of other man) is so much more thoughtful and considerate. He doesn’t treat his wife that way.
  • There’s no way this marriage can work.
  • I’d be happier if I were married to the _____________ (the “other” man).
  • If my husband doesn’t love and respect me, I have the right to leave him.
  • Sometimes two people just can’t make a marriage work—apparently, we weren’t meant for each other.
  • I’m better off getting a divorce than staying in a miserable marriage.
  • I don’t have any alternative. There’s just no way I can stay married to him.*

See how it progresses? Barring any situations of abuse or addiction, the wife in this scenario has totally convinced herself her husband is the problem, and her focus is completely on herself—her happiness and her hurts. She’s decided the situation (the marriage) is hopeless.

But we know better, don’t we? What situation is hopeless in God’s eyes? We serve a huge God who can do anything, including save a seemingly hopeless marriage.

Over at our Facebook page, I’ve invited people to share their testimonies on how God has worked or is working in their marriages. I hope you’ll go read some of those testimonies. They’re awesome. Or feel free to leave yours here in the comments.

And if you’re in this place of hopelessness, please let us know how we can pray for you. Then come back next week as I continue sharing some wonderful truths to counter these lies the enemy has deceived us all with. We can fight and win this battle because our God is bigger, greater, and stronger than any lie the enemy thinks he can use to deceive us.

Praying and believing,
Dineen

 

*Excerpts taken from Lies Women Believe and the Truths That Set Them Free by Nancy Leigh DeMoss, pages 156-158.

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I'm Lonely In My Marriage

There is an epidemic of loneliness in our world. And more staggering is the number of people who are married and feel alone. Does it strike you as a strange paradox, to be married and be lonely? How can that happen? How can we live under one roof, share the same bed, live together, and feel utterly alone?....

Read the entire article at Exemplify today: I'm Lonely In My Marriage.

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