69 posts categorized "Needs In Marriage"

A Revelation of Love For My Husband

image from www.spirituallyunequalmarriage.comThey say.... Love is blind. But, marriage is a real eye-opener!

My friends, a few weeks ago, my husband, whom I refer to as my pre-believer, celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary. As I remember through the seasons of our union, I recall the challenges, the laughter, the fun and the really hard times as well. But mostly as I consider this landmark in our marriage, I find that the difficult years have been replaced with peace. Struggles and fear have been given over to unconditional love and acceptance. We are truly living the abundant life and our marriage is sanctified through my faith, as the believer in our home (1 Corinthians 7:14).

Mike and I are planning a European Cruise this summer to celebrate and spend time alone together. But what I found interesting is that the Lord gave me a gift for our marriage anniversary. It was unexpected and delivered with power and authority and ROCKED my world.

Today, I want to give this gift to you.

When you face the seasons of struggle, disappointment, loneliness, or confusion in your own marriage, open up this gift, and read it again. Allow the LORD to pull you into His vision of your marriage.

Every January at my local church we have a weeklong series of meeting where we intentionally seek God through prayer, guest speakers and worship. It was this January, 2017 on the fourth of the five night of events, that I stood in worship. And when the music began…. The LORD spoke.

You see, I had been crying out for a fresh revelation of love from our Father for weeks. But on this particular night, God answered with a fresh revelation of love for my husband. And it changed me.

Standing next to my usual seat on the second row, I lifted my hands and suddenly God came down and began to bombard my mind and heart with a revelation of just how much I truly DO love my husband. I felt wave after wave of love, care, compassion wash over me. I LOVE this man, fully, deeply from my core, unconditionally, and with full forgiveness for any harm or offence of the past. This love revelation felt like a gushing river and a fullness at the same time that I didn’t know that I possessed.

I truly didn’t understand the depth of love I had for my husband until that moment. (Is that weird?)

Years of pain and loneliness were gone, washed away by God. Unmet expectations, disappointment, feelings of longing, all became insignificant and felt selfish, yet they too washed away under the flood of love that continued to pour into me like an epic torrent.

Then God turned it up…..

He showed me where I had hurt my husband. The years and words that landed with pain on his heart. Where I minimized him, held him back by my words, slashed is manhood, and assaulted him with humiliation. Ugh…. Hard to admit.

I began bawling under this revelation.

If this wasn’t enough, God ratcheted up the revelation and then really poured it out. I was given insight to see with spiritual eyes the little boy that resides within my husband. The small child that needs nurturing, care, tenderness and understanding. The small man who has longs and needs for me to smile with kindness toward this boy. To tell him he is good. To say they things and be the one person on earth who can affirm his worth and value that I know is God-given.

Gulp.

Did you know that our husbands need this core of their person to be nurtured? It’s a deep need within him. And he has chosen one single person to offer him this affirmation. Just one… Just one, for all of his adult life, his wife. It’s a powerful and humbling responsibility.

I was made aware of how I failed to be a wife who loved well and the vice grip of pain nearly chocked me. But God…..

BUT GOD….

He allowed me to see just how much I REALLY loved this man. I mean, I really, really love him more than any person on earth. Next to God, I love him with all of my heart. I know I didn't perceive this reality until that moment. And God also released me of my failures in the light of the authentic love I hold for him (love covers a multitude of sins 1 Peter 4:8)

Well, the service ended and I literally sprinted out of the building. Arriving home, I ran into the kitchen and into my husband’s shocked and concerned arms. His face said it all: What the heck is going on as I was still bawling. I began to repent of where I failed him. I promise to love him well for the rest of our lives. And to tell him that I love him with all that I am and with a full heart.

Challenge: I challenge you to ask God for a revelation of love for your husband. It will change your thoughts, your prayer life for him, it will change your priorities and your family dynamic. God’s kinda cool that way!

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Guest Post: Perceptions by Dee Rusnak

Happy New Year, SUMites! So good to be back with you! Hope you had a wonderful Christmas filled with special moments of delight and love. I'm so glad my daughters and son-in-love were with us this year. Our Christmas was busy and fun!

As we walk into 2017 together, my friends, I want to encourage you to press into your relationship with God even deeper, to sit with Him quietly and begin asking Him what He wants to do and be for you in 2017. This is a great way to get ready for our praying and fasting next week.

I keep hearing God say, "I want to do something different." I don't fully understand what that is yet, as I've been very distracted with the holidays and family, but I'm trusting He will show me. I'm so ready for "different"! How about you?

Here's a wonderful post by our very own Dee Rusnak (thank you, Dee!) to help us reflect upon the lens we're looking through and ask God for wisdom and alignment with His lens. I love you, SUMites! And I'm walking expectantly into 2017 with you. ~Dineen

Perception
by Dee Rusnak

Dee and Jerry“Making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.” Proverbs 2:2-5

There’s a commercial on television for a product that can reduce the effects of a migraine headache. The mother in this piece wants desperately to understand what her daughter suffers during her migraine. Hence, the makers of this product developed a virtual reality simulation of a migraine and placed the device over the mother’s eyes so she, too, can experience what her daughter endures. Understanding immediately consumed this mother’s heart as she finally saw what her daughter sees, and her daughter was filled with great relief. Mom gets it. “How much better it is to acquire wisdom than gold; to acquire understanding is more desirable than silver.” Proverbs 16:16

I, too, have suffered with ocular (or visual) migraines since I was 13, which went undiagnosed until I was in my late 40’s. That is when I returned to the workforce and they became more frequent. I mentioned it to my family doctor who said, “Oh, I get those. They’re visual migraines.” What??? I did some investigating online and what I found was astounding. Much like the mother in the commercial, I saw on my screen the actual pictures of what I see during my migraine episodes. I learned what triggers them and what to avoid to deter them. Sharing this with my family finally brought understanding to all of us. We get it. “Wisdom is of utmost importance, therefore get wisdom, and with all your effort work to acquire understanding.” Proverbs 4:7

Being misunderstood is quite frustrating and causes division. No matter how much we try to explain, people still don’t get it and can be coldly dismissive. We’re not much better. We expect certain responses and judge others for failing to live up to them. But, God doesn’t ask us to pray to be understood. He asks us to pray to understand…understand Him and others. In his book Love and Respect, (you gotta read this book!) Dr. Emerson Eggerichs explains when God created men and women, He wired us differently and gave us distinctive roles. We both can experience, see, and hear the same situation, yet are at odds as to what we perceive. We each have our own lenses and grow angry because the other person is coming from the opposite pole. We fail to want to see the whole picture, to go see it from their side. Once we begin to understand this fundamental principle, then a light begins to shine. Oh, now I think I get it. “Whoever is patient has great understanding, but one who is quick-tempered displays folly.” Proverbs 14:29

Because we and our pre-believing spouses are unequal spiritually, the condition becomes more complex. As we try to talk to them about Jesus or His Word or anything about God, to them we are talking gibberish. We want so desperately for them to see what we see, but their lenses are still very much distorted and they cannot comprehend without God’s intervention. When my grandkids were toddlers, they often spoke unintelligibly and demanded that I repeat what they said, confirming they were understood. More often than not they cried out in frustration because I wasn’t getting it. I had to quickly set aside all logic and enter their world to see things as they see them. Perhaps we need to do the same for our spouses. What's more, we were once where they are. I get where they are. “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” 1 Corinthians 1:18

Removing my glasses and making the effort to see through someone else’s lenses is what the Lord has been teaching me this season. Not only wanting to see their side of things, but God’s perception of it as well. The Lord isn’t asking me to ditch my glasses, but merely trying on someone else’s, helping me to meet them where they are. After all, how often has God met me with His grace, patience and love to bring me into His understanding? Often this effort can result in correcting my own vision, causing me to see things more clearly. In addition, attempting to understand another’s perspective commonly initiates that same effort from the other person. Let’s help each other get it. “Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.” 2 Timothy 2:7

Understanding is a tremendously blessed relief. That is why God refers to it as “better than gold.” Our world today certainly needs it, as do our households. We seek God first, for there is no better wisdom than from Him. He will give us the discernment to understand what appears confusing, and give us direction on how to proceed. Imagine how many chasms can be narrowed, walls dismantled, and divisions eliminated if we only make the attempt to try to see things from someone else’s perception.

“I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know Him better.” Ephesians 1:17

Dee Rusnak and her husband, both retired, live in Westerville, Ohio. They have three grown sons and four adorable grandchildren (with another on the way this summer)!

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Reaction Mode

Dear friends, the following is a post I did a few years back. The Holy Spirit has continually reminded me of this post the last week or so, but I wasn't sure if it was a needed subject at the moment. Then on Thursday as I was working on the registration details for the Hope Ignited conference our healing rooms and my church were hosting, I heard the Holy Spirit say over and over again throughout the day, "Don't take offense."

I assumed it was for me, specifically something the Holy Spirit knew I would encounter at some point over the weekend at the conference. Then our worship leader gave a word on this very subject Friday evening. I knew then it was a corporate word. And then Lynn's post yesterday confirmed that! Wow! Don't you just love how the Holy Spirit speaks to us?

God is on the move, my friends, to restore this nation to peace and righteousness. I truly believe we will be astonished in how He does this through His amazing love.

So, I present to you, "Reaction Mode," originally posted in September of 2011. I pray it speaks to your heart and encourages you. I've updated it just a bit for our community needs right now.

 

Reactions Mode

6a00d83451ee9f69e2014e8b804fe8970d-320wiAre you in reaction mode in your marriage?

I remember to this day when I made this revelation about my marriage. I stood in our home office, about to react to something my husband said. I believe at that moment the Holy Spirit stopped me and then gave me a complete picture of the situation. And it wasn’t pretty. If this pattern didn’t stop soon, my marriage would soon crash and burn.

And even more sobering (i.e. convicting)? I was the heart of the problem, because my heart was in a bad shape. Years of resentment toward my husband and unmet expectations had created a barrier between us.

What I call “reaction mode” is this highly destructive and very draining place where you and your spouse are walking in your marriage more like adversaries than partners. Every comment is scrutinized under suspicion and communication has completely broken down.

Though not always true, I find this often starts with women. We stop communicating out of unforgiveness and resentment. Or, like me, we never learned to communicate in a healthy manner.

The saddest part of reaction mode is that it leads to contempt toward one another. And where there is contempt, respect and love no longer exist. They simply can’t coexist. For example, a husband reacts back to his wife harshly, because he’s not receiving his deepest desire, which is to be respected. The wife then retreats or closes herself off, feeling unloved when her deepest desire is to be loved.

Do you see the vicious cycle? That’s the first and most crucial step to breaking reaction mode—seeing this pattern in your marriage. Whether you are male or female, this pattern will not stop until you make the first move. What does this change look like?

  1. Be Careful What You Speak.

You know, there were times that I realized my reactions to my husband bordered on the behavior of a sarcastic teenager. Not a pretty sight but very convicting when recognized. Our words have the power to build or break down. If you’re inclined to speak without thinking first, stop right now and ask God to help control your mouth. This is a biblical principle and He will help you. Trust me on that.

A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. — Proverbs 15:1

We can also seek the Holy Spirit for the right words to speak as well. If we choose words that are honest and without an agenda to prove we’re right or place blame, we can be instrumental to restoring peace to our marriage.

  1. Dwell on the Positive.

It’s easy to fall into this place where we think our spouse has an ulterior motive to his or her words. Even simple requests can turn into a battleground, because we’ve somehow fallen into the lie that our spouse intends to harm us. This suspicion perpetuates the reaction mode and is its fuel. Suspicion can also be fueled by lies, so the best way to combat this is to counteract with the truth. What does your spouse do well?

Make a list. My husband is great about making sure the garbage goes out every week. I appreciate this even more when he’s out of town and I have to do it. Yuck! He’s also great about going grocery shopping with me, and he’s quick to show his love and affection. Start with small things and your list will grow. Then study it whenever you fall into thinking those negative thoughts about your spouse.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. — Philippians 4:8

A negative thought feeds the enemy and breeds more negativity. This can even evolve into scenarios playing out in your mind of how your spouse could potentially hurt you. Then you wind up hurt and defensive over something that never even happened.

A positive thought feeds the spirit and releases the Holy Spirit to work in your mind for transformation (Romans 12:2). He also works in your heart to help you forgive and allow God’s love to flow more freely to and through you.

Which one do you want to grow “fatter” in your life?

  1. Respect Him Even When You Don’t Want To, Love Her Even When She’s Unlovable.

Our hubbies need to know we will still stand by them when they mess up. And they will mess up, just as we do. We need to extend that hand of grace and acceptance, just as we want it extended to us. I’ve never seen anything quite as destructive to a marriage as contempt. And it is subtle in its presence. This goes right back to number one in how we use our words.

Add to that how you sound. What is your tone? Are you speaking in a way that solicits cooperation or are you condemning and accusing? This was the biggest area that I needed to change, and I know I could not have done it without God’s help. Sometimes we aren’t even aware that our tone and words hurt those we love. Pull out that list you made and go over it again. When it’s hard to show respect to your husband, find the things you can respect and show it to him. Then watch him bloom under your praise.

… and the wife must respect her husband. — Ephesians 5:33b

And loving someone when they are unlovable is one of the most powerful and sacrificial things a person can do. I have watched a woman be astonished by the fact that my church was assisting her out of our own desire to help and we weren’t getting paid by the government to do it. I have been deeply humbled by my husband's love when I was in pain and cranky. Love speaks louder than anything. Anything! Love changes hearts, marriages, families, cities and nations.

God is love so when we love, even when a person hasn’t “earned it,” we display His heart and presence in the most powerful way possible by revealing His very nature. Love (1 John 4).

  1. Keep a “We” Mentality.

Isn’t this really the truth we forget? We enter in to marriage as two “I’s” and suddenly have to figure out what it means to be a “we.” This requires putting our spouse first, this means loving and respecting even when we don’t feel it, this means seeing our marriage truly as a team effort and pulling our weight even when we feel our spouse isn’t. God sees our heart and our efforts. Your actions to honor Him in your marriage are never wasted!

Don’t quit the team. Be the one who stands strong and keeps Christ in the middle—your faith and prayers do that (1 Cor. 7:14). Whatever issues you’re dealing with, remember that you and your spouse are a team. Blame solves nothing. Teamwork always gets the job done.

For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh. —Genesis 2:24

Finally, remember that we can’t make these changes on our own. We need God’s help. Start with prayer and trust that God really can work in you, in your spouse and in your marriage to bring change and healing. It takes time, but when we desire God’s will for our marriage—a partnership built on love and respect—He will give us the desire of our heart (Psalm 37:4).

SUMites, I want to leave you with one final thought here (and this is a new part I'm adding). No matter where we are in our faith journey, God sees us the same way through His love and according to who He created us to be. We are His righteousness through Christ Jesus. And He never changes for He is the God of today, yesterday and tomorrow. He doesn't function within time as we do. He is present in all places—past present and future.

Now this is where it gets really interesting and may blow your mind a bit. Just as He sees us in this way, as who He created us to be, He sees our spouse the same way. He does not define them by their lack of faith but according to the measure of faith He has set aside for them. He sees them as they are intended to be, His children. I believe that is the heart of Eccl. 3:11 too. 

Father God, give us Your eyes, Your perspective of our spouse. Help us see them in the potential and in the light of eternity that You've placed within them so that we can love them according to that image and be part of releasing the truth of Your love in them. Thank You, Lord! Thank You! In the amazing name of Jesus, amen!

Love you so much, SUMites! And God loves you even better. ;-)
Dineen

 

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THRIVE in your Spiritually Mismatched Marriage and raise your children to faith. Our books are filled with practical experience and Biblical advice. -click or tap the photo-

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A SUMite Question: How Do I Stay Connected to My Spouse?

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My friends, one of the most challenging areas in a SUM is staying connected to our spouse, so today I want to tackle a reader question. Actually, this is a question that is asked frequently so I’ve edited this most recent one and included some additional parts from past questions so that it will encompass more.

 

y hubby and I have been married for many years. I came to faith only a few years ago and now there’s this enormous area of incompatibility and difference between us. I’ve looked to my church for support, but how do I build a church life when my other half is not in it? 

My husband has also shared he’s concerned about losing my love. I feel so sad that he feels this way…and how can I keep going to church when he feels like this? I don’t know what to do: do I stay home now and make him feel secure and loved, or do I keep on going to church for my own needs?  And what about our kids? They’re still young, and I want them to grow up knowing who God is now and not when they’re already adults like I did.

The other issue is that all our friends aren’t believers, and I’m finding those friendships so difficult to relate to now – so I need church and other believers for encouragement and support.  

I feel the Holy Spirit’s conviction to take care of my hubby and avoid erecting barriers, but what does taking care of him look like?  I’m feeling quite stressed about it, and I feel bad he feels so sad! Any advice?  

My friend, you’ve described the dilemma we all seem to face in our mismatched marriages. Staying connected to our husbands can be a real challenge, because we are very much changed—reborn. After my hubby told me he’d decided he was an atheist, I had no clue how to move forward, and I mourned deeply. So deeply. The next day he asked me if I’d ever be able to look at him again. I didn’t even realize I’d done that and like you, I felt horrible! I had to reassure him that I loved him and nothing would change that. 

From that point on I had to be very intentional to follow God’s leading in what I committed to at church. I think it’s important that we’re plugged into a faith community in some way, because it’s very difficult to stay strong without it. We need other believers so we are challenged and can grow, as well as be supported and encouraged. 

Early on I did wind up stepping down from my position as a youth minister, because it was very demanding and required traveling for youth trips. I realized my hubby and my two young girls needed more of my time and that was okay. I had put my marriage and family first.

During that time I expressed to my husband my need to go to church, but that I could be flexible if we wanted to make plans. Or just wanted an occasional quiet morning together. I can count on one hand how many times he’s asked me to miss church for him in 20 years. 

And I also explained that I wanted to take our girls to church. He was fine with that as long as they would be allowed to make their own choice when they grew older. I agreed and trusted God for that. They both chose Jesus, btw. :-)

More than anything, I think our spouses just need to know they are still important in our lives. I’ve explained to my husband that loving God helps me love him better, and my actions have proved that out. Amazingly, my husband has become more loving and giving over the years as well.

Just be honest with him. Tell him how it grieves you that he feels bad and talk about how to work it out. Just as you want to respect his needs, he should respect yours too, and you need a faith community. You may need to limit some of your extra activities if you find you’re doing a lot. Find a balance that works for you and follow what God is telling you. Trust Him to show you what to do and to keep you growing. It may not be what you expect, but I know it will be really good! And trust God to take care of your hubby’s heart when He does call you to do something. God is in the details of everything in our life and He works for our good in ALL of it. Unbelief will not stop His love!

And most importantly, don’t let the spiritual mismatch define your marriage. Find other things you two can do together to stay connected and have things in common. You will need to do this because otherwise you both could wind up living very separate lives. This will happen to some degree, because you both will be interested in doing things that don’t overlap. My hubby does disc golf and I do church. LOL! We have friends that we spend time with together, and we both have our own friends. 

Don’t lose hope, my friend. Look at this situation as temporary, because one day we will be united in faith. Trust God to do what He says He will do. And in His timing. He is so faithful!

 

SUMites, I pray this encourages and inspires you too. If you have ideas of how to stay connected to your spouse, please share them in the comments. Let’s inspire one another. And if you have a question, feel free to share that too. 

Love you, my friends! Next week I will return to our foundations series and explore truths about faith, hope, love and inheritance. And whatever else Holy Spirit is wanting to show us. And tomorrow—another Friday prayer.

Big hugs!
Dineen

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THRIVE in your Spiritually Mismatched Marriage and raise your children to faith. Our books are filled with practical experience and Biblical advice. -click or tap the photo-

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Loneliness and What Jesus Says

LonelyCan I just say: Amazing!

Our annual fast never fails to disappoint. So many great testimonies were shared of how the Lord moved in our lives. Many of you received a “word” for their year and I know many of us were loved on by our Lord through this community experience. I’m convinced our fast is powerful and one day as we are in heaven, we will fully comprehend the impact our prayers and fasting had upon people and this earth. Neat!!! (Thank you Rosheeda Lee for starting this annual tradition.)

In the next several weeks I want to turn our focus to loneliness in marriage. And you know, as I contemplated this issue, a bunch of different emotions rolled over me. Also, the Holy Spirit sprang up with some perspective that I want to share that I believe is truth for all of us.

I will tell you that as I considered returning to this particular topic and thought about writing about it again, my heart filled up with dread, anxiousness and aversion. I HATE thinking about my feelings and experiences when I’m walking in the seasons of loneliness in my spiritual mismatch. It’s not that I’m in denial that I have challenging periods of marriage but I just believe that by dwelling on the pain and injustice of it all, only brings me more sorrow, woe is me attitudes, and I lose the ground I gained from the enemy.

Moving through this topic, however, it’s okay to share your frustrations and the difficulties you are enduring. As I stated in December: A little bit of commiseration is needed and understandable. Sharing our thoughts about our struggles allows for honest and authentic conversation, which is needed especially is you are new to the unequally yoked walk. But there is a fine line between the commiseration and focus on our troubles.

I’m choosing this New Year to refrain from focusing on our troubles to focusing on what Jesus says about our situations. Some of the topics which I want to write about, I’ve not covered here at SUM prior to now. But I believe looking straight into the Word for our truths, even the tough truths, is what ultimately will prove to be our victory and our joy.

In all my years of living unequally yoked have proven to me that God’s Word is absolutely true, even the hard stuff. When I fully embrace the teachings, I live better, love wholly, and discover more and more of God’s Kingdom here on earth.

What say you?

Up for this adventure?

Let’s look at some hard truths and make them real and powerful in our lives. Let’s start with this one:

“Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn “‘a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law— a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’—Matthew 10:34-35

Yikes!!!!

How do we wrangle with this in an unequally yoked marriage? BTW, I don’t know the answer. And let’s have grace with one another as we share our thoughts in the discussion. I’m seeking truth for us. And God’s truth does what?

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God[a] may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. — 2 Timothy 3:1-17

I believe God is sending us on this journey because a shift in our heart is required. What do you think? See you in the comments. Love you my friends. I’m so deeply blessed and humbled that you walk this difficult road with me. THANK YOU. Hugs, Lynn

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The Physical Connection

Today's archival post is from August 18, 2009 and was a guest post on Patty Wysong's blog, Adding Zest. Since we've been covering spiritual warfare, this post is another aspect of the importance our armor can play in staying connected to our pre-believer. Love you, my friends! ~Dineen

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One of the most difficult parts of a spiritually unequal marriage (S.U.M.) is the aspect of spiritual warfare. You might say, as the believing spouse, we are like a missionary on the front lines. Some of us have an easier time living and sharing our faith with our spouse and family. Others must literally keep their Christianity in the shadows—books in drawers, Bibles hidden, etc.

Part of this struggle comes in the great challenge of staying connected to our spouse. God designed our emotional, physical, and intellectual characteristics to be based in our spirituality. In other words, He is to be the center of our world. And He’s the one who helps us keep these three areas balanced.

When we as the believer come from such a place, connecting to our unbelieving spouse can be very difficult and discouraging. As women we tend to look for this connection in the emotional aspect where men connect better on the emotional level through the physical aspect. Thus, I’ve noticed that sex can wind up holding a more critical place in a S.U.M.

Amazingly, in God's great plan, sex is meant to be deeply spiritual, too. I believe this is also why the Bible describes sexual immorality as a sin against ourselves, because it strikes against our spirit. This is also what makes us so vulnerable to spiritual attack in the form of sexual temptation.

So how do we fight this battle?

  1. Start with your armor. Wear it daily. (Eph 6:10-17) At times I literally pray these verses and visualize putting these physical pieces of armor on. As an artist, I’m visual by nature. This helps me to remember whose protecting me.
  2. Pray over your marriage bed. This starts before you even hit the bedroom. Pray for God to provide special times for you and your spouse to be alone and for that time to be protected. The marriage bed is sacred. Do not let anything else interfere with that.
  3. Make the effort. Did you know that mystery and anticipation are forms of foreplay? Do the set-up. If you’ve made plans for an interlude that night, spend the day thinking about your husband. Send him private messages that you’re thinking about him. Give him hints about your plans. Be creative. Build it up. Make sure you’re the only one on his mind.
  4. Let him know he’s the only man in your world. In a S.U.M. it’s not unusual for the unbelieving spouse to see God as a third party who’s taking his wife’s attention away. Without faith, they can’t see it any other way than interference. Intimacy is a great way to reassure your husband his place is secure in your life. 

Most of these principles apply to marriage in general. Staying connected to our spouse is a challenge in any kind of marriage, especially in a world ruled by an enemy whose greatest target is relationships.

In a S.U.M. connecting is even more critical, because it’s not just a relationship at stake but a soul as well. God’s called us to the front lines of battle where, most often, our actions speak louder than anything we have to say.

Praying and believing,
Dineen

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Submission - The Books of Peter

image from www.spirituallyunequalmarriage.comWives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. 3 Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to adorn themselves. They submitted themselves to their own husbands, like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her lord. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear. —1 Peter 3:1-6

When I was a young wife, this passage raised my hackles. But as I have now lived more than two decades with my unbelieving spouse, I testify to the power and truth behind this wisdom.

I know that there remains great confusion in the “church” over what Peter intends here. I’ve known women who were told to submit to men who were abusive and evil. Although I think in general, church leadership has steered away from this kind of demand in the past decade. I know that within homes, especially marriages of the unequally yoked, husbands have quoted this verse to their believing wives in order to manipulate and control them. Let me be clear, if a man quotes this to his wife he is speaking out of fear and arrogance. His intent is not love but to control.

A husband of integrity would never need to speak this verse to his wife. And a wife should never acquiesce to a man who holds scripture over her to control her. And wives you don’t get off easy either. Mutual respect and love should reign supreme in your relationship and thus a husband would never think of manipulating his wife in such a way. Love and respect must be the core of every marriage. Of course, people aren’t perfect and most of us are somewhere on the path learning to love and respect our spouse well.

Reading back through 1 Peter 3, I can only offer what I have learned in the two plus decades that I have tried to apply this passage to my life. Trying to win my husband with my words of confrontation, condemnation, conviction, manipulation, fear, and begging, well….. it just doesn’t work. Period. The end.

You know what works? The behavior of purity and reverence of my life. What does that look like? Well, my husband CANNOT deny that I believe. He sees the hours I spend with my Lord. He has witnessed my years of praying for him and our family. He sees that I am clothed with hope. He sees that I possess a relentless well spring of joy and that I am a person of profound faith.

I am adorned with a grace that allows me to forgive the unforgivable and I have modeled that to him and our children. I have been honored with an unfading beauty which is the Spirit of the Living God. My husband may not understand it, but our home is a peaceful place. It is a sanctuary that allows him, our children and myself to live authentically. I have friends who call and want to visit just because our house is and I quote, “so peaceful.” My faith changes the atmosphere of my home and often improves the atmosphere wherever I go. (More stories for another day)

I have willingly laid down many dreams and hopes in support of this one man because God said he is worth it. I’ve cried at times and then I’ve prayed with power. I’ve lived the best that I can within the love and power of Jesus. I have adorned myself with humility, most of the time *grin*, and have done the right thing by loving him with a full heart. The dreams I had as a young wife may have been lost but in return God has given me abundantly more than I could have hoped, conceived or dreamed. And God is not finished yet.

At the end of this particular passage Peter urges wives to do what is right and when we do, we will walk in the legacy of Godly women who have gone before us. How beautiful is that? I want to pass this legacy on to my daughter.

And finally Peter says, “Do not give way to fear.”

Submission is not fear. Submission is love and respect. And by the way, it goes both ways between a husband and a wife. Now, this is where the rubber meets the road: Submission is meeting the needs of our spouse. As a believer it means meeting his/her needs even when yours remain unmet. But do not fear because over time, just like me, you will discover that your husband  will begin to meet your needs and he will treat you with respect because you modeled it first. And my dear wives, if there are needs in your heart that are never met by your earthly husband, Jesus will more than meet them all.

I leave you now with a story of ultimate submission. I pray this story wrecks you in every good way because this man's submission was for us:

Jesus Christ, who, though he was God, did not demand and cling to his rights as God, but laid aside his mighty power and glory, taking the disguise of a slave and becoming like men. And he humbled himself even further, going so far as actually to die a criminal’s death on a cross.

Yet it was because of this that God raised him up to the heights of heaven and gave him a name which is above every other name, that at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Wives, do not fear, let Christ raise you up. Because when He does, your husband will fall to his knees and acknowledge that you were right all along and he will proclaim that Jesus is Lord! Never stop praying. Never stop hoping and never stop re-presenting Christ in your marriage, home, family and to the world!

image from www.spirituallyunequalmarriage.com Winninghim

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When Is It My Turn?

SUMites, 

Let’s have a chat. 

Matthew 13 44I’m pretty sure that last week’s posts about Janet and Trish’s spouses coming to faith brought about a range of feelings in our SUM Nation. 

But today I want to speak to those of us who may feel forgotten. For those of you who read these stories and whispered, “God, when? When is it my turn? When will this happen in my life.” 

So many emotions, feelings and thoughts were made know to me in this past week. True happiness for these women. Feelings of jealously, then followed by guilt because their story seems so far from a reality in our life. Perhaps you are confused and maybe a few of us are really just MAD. Mad at God. Mad at our spouse. Mad at ourselves for being in this predicament. Anybody????? 

Can I ask you to hear me out for a minute? 

Firstly, gang, I’m right there with you. I have prayed for my husband for so long and with such passion that I’m puzzled. I ask the same question, “When God?” 

So I guess this message today is for all of you who are behind me on this rocky road of the unequally yoked path. I want to point out some things I bet that you haven’t realized while traveling this journey. There are often times that we are so intently focused on two things that we miss so much the Lord is bringing to us in our daily lives. They are: Our spouse’s salvation, our pain. 

For years I prayed with selfishness for my husband’s salvation. Those prayers were completely selfish and unproductive. My motives for his salvation, at the core, were to make my life easier. And my other prayers were the lamenting of the pain of disappointment in my marriage. Now, hear me, I’m not minimizing either. 

However, I have arrived at a place in my faith and marriage that I can share a smidgen of wisdom with you in the hopes you acquire the blessings intended for us in these unique marriages much sooner than I found them. Okay? 

Let’s be real. The unequally yoked life is hard. Compounding different world views with a spouse who struggles with an addiction or destructive behaviors is almost unbearable at times. But it’s in this real pain that we are forced to surrender our self and to lean fully into the arms of our healer, Jesus. 

I know without a doubt that I would not have the faith life I have today without the years of struggle. And you know what? God knew that too. An easily life for me would have robbed me so many miraculous encounters with the King. Because I chose to believe the Word and surrender many of my preconceived ideas over to God, I now live in great favor, tremendous joy and profound supernatural peace. I literally hear the voice of God now and I am on fire with the Holy Spirit. Knowing what I know today, I would go through it all again to receive the rare and priceless gifts I am now walking in. Today I truly understand what it is like to hold a pearl of great price in the palm of your hands. 

My friends, reflect of the lives of Janet and Trish. Janet fasted. Have you sincerely fasted for a number of days? Have you prayed night and day asking for God’s wisdom and for the salvation of your spouse? Have you surrendered your heart to God and given Him everything. That is no small task and it takes years. 

Be patient with yourself. The greatest thing you can do is to choose to see all that is right before your eyes while you think you are waiting for life to begin when your spouse comes to faith. 

God is speaking to you. Have you learned to hear Him?
Jesus is your betrothed. Have you acknowledged that He wants your heart every day?
The Holy Spirit has so much power to bring to bear in your life. Have you grieved Him? 

So this week let’s say to God, “Papa, I know I have wondered when it would be my turn. And Lord, I greatly desire to see my spouse come to faith. But teach me now, today, to be so in tune with your spirit that I don’t miss anything more that you have for me. Be gentle with me while I learn to let go of fear, pride, selfish ambition, arrogance and judgment. And fill me today with your good gifts. Let me life represent you well, Lord. In Jesus name. Amen.”

image from www.spirituallyunequalmarriage.com

Stay tuned as I want to finish up the series about healing on Friday. Why are some healed and others are not? 

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Reader Question: I'm the Daughter of an Unequally Yoked Marriage

Thank you for your ministry. I am the daughter of an unequally yoked marriage. My mom has recently (within the past 10 years) tried to seek godly Christian women to find support/encouragement but so far she has found none. As a result I have been the one to hear my mom vent about the struggles and pain.

My parents have been married for about 40 years and only about three years ago did my dad claim to profess faith in Christ. Today's (April 26) reader question along with listening to your interview on Focus on the Family aired on March 26 has motivated me to write this email. How can you love someone for who they are when he has told you several times over the course of the marriage and continues to say to you (even with his profession of faith) that you are the cause of his unhappiness and blames you for why he gets upset and angry? How can you love someone who unleashes his wrath and anger against you with verbal assaults and in his fits of rage will throw things towards your direction? 

There are other baggage/sin that each of my parents bring into their marriage that complicates things (of course). Regardless, you remind me of the foundational place of where we all should begin. You are right when you said on the Focus on the Family interview aired on March 27, 2012, "we need to love God more than we love ourselves. Our commitment to marriage is our commitment to Christ." 

It is hard to see past the fog. Thank you for your Biblical counsel to spouses who are in spiritually unequal marriages. Would appreciate some encouragement to pass along to my mom. I plan on sending my mom the link to your website as well as giving my mom a copy of your book, Winning Him Without Words

My friend, I am so touched by your heart for your mom. I know it hasn't been easy for you to be her sounding board. I truly believe she will find the support and encouragement she needs in our community at SpirituallyUnequalMarriage.com. Lynn and I are there blogging almost everyday and interacting with the community of believers who are walking this very same path. Yes, please direct her to our site there and here is a link our interviews page that has many of our broadcasts. I'm praying that your mom will listen and be encouraged as she listens. She is not a lone. There are many of us out there and we are stronger together.

You ask how can we love someone who does these things? We can't, not without Jesus, and the love the He has for us and our spouse flowing through us. I know I can't love my husband as I do without God's help and he's a pretty lovable guy and easy to get alone with! So with such a challenge as your mom faces, she needs Jesus even more to do this through her. The Word tells us God IS love so when we ask Him to love for us, to flow that through us, especially to those who are difficult to love, we are also transformed. I find it astonishing how God does it as I've watched Him do this in my own life.

But let me also say, my friend, that it sounds like the issues your mother is dealing with are not due to a spiritual mismatch. These are issues that can be present in even believing couples. I strongly encourage you to encourage you mom to seek Christian counseling. God doesn't desire us to live in that kind of treatment (and please forgive me if this sounds harsh but your dad's behavior toward your mom could border on being emotionally abusive) and if we don't know how to set boundaries that tell even those we love that their behavior isn't appropriate, we can become enablers for it to continue.

Your sweet mom is not in charge of making your dad happy nor is he in charge of making her happy. This is something the world tells us and it's truly built on lies. Our joy, peace and contentment come from knowing Jesus, and happiness comes in those places as well. Yet to blame another person for our unhappiness, anger and discontent is not taking responsibility for ourselves. It's not easy to look in these places and realize this. Trust me, I know. Early in my marriage before I knew Christ I blamed my husband for my unhappiness, because I didn't understand that a human being couldn't meet the needs God placed in me for only Him to meet.

That your mom is seeking encouragement is wonderful! Tell her that for us and tell her we would love the chance to get to know her better and share our hearts with her. Our SUM community is built upon two things: the love of God and that we are not alone. 

Again, let me commend you for your heart for your mom. Know that all of this is God leading her to what she needs so that ultimately she will know Him better, trust Him more and walk in the truth that He alone will supply all her needs from His amazing love (Phil 4:19).

I'm praying for you and your family, my friend. God is definitely working here even if it may not seem so. He's working through you and all your years of praying to help bring your mom to a stronger place of faith and breakthrough so that both your parents can walk in the freedom Jesus died to give us. I truly believe that and I pray it encourages you too.

Much love and lots of hugs to you!
Dineen

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Gang, still waiting to hear back from Walmart if we are approved and what date. I will give the update on Monday, Hugs, Lynn

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Special Guest Today! Please Welcome Suzie Eller!

My precious friends, today I want to introduce you to Susanne (Suzie) Eller. She's been a great support to the SUM ministry and now we get to share her with you! Suzie's message of forgiveness in her book, The Unburdened Heart is desperately needed today and by so many. I hope you find answers and comfort in her words below. 

Feel free to leave comments and pray for each other. This is a tough topic. And we'll do a random drawing from the comments for a book winner, who will receive a copy of her book.

Love you all dearly and know you are in my heart and prayers!
Hugs!
Dineen

SE13-1060-682x1024Suzanne (Suzie) Eller is a Proverbs 31 Ministries speaker and author. She’s written six books, hundreds of articles, and writes devos with Encouragement for Today that reaches over 500,000 women. Suzie is a radio co-host with Luann Prater at Encouragement Cafe Joy FM. She encourages women through two Facebook communities reaching over 20,000 five days a week. She’s been featured on TV and radio such as Focus on the Family, Aspiring Women, 100 Huntley Street, KLOVE, MidDay Connection, The Harvest Show, and many others. Most importantly, she is a wife, mom, and “Gaga” to four beautiful grandbabies. Connect with Suzie at www.tsuzanneeller.com

 

Suzie, you’ve been listening to many stories from women who struggle to forgive. How many women struggle with forgiveness in their marriages?
 
Nearly 50% of the women who share their stories on my blog, or in person, say that their biggest struggle to forgive is in their marriage.
 
For many, it’s when a spouse is continually unkind, or says words that diminish her.
 
In this instance, many women bear their soul and are told either to get out, to seek counsel, or to submit.
 
The first leaves a woman who desires to stay and work things out because she loves her husband and wants her marriage to succeed, with a heavier burden. 
 
In the second, seeking counsel is wise advice, as long as it’s counsel that is skilled in helping a couple, with God’s help, find new ground in their marriage. Many times “counsel” can be someone who do not have those skills.
 
The third, to submit, is often shared without proper context. The word “submit” is thrown out without the beautiful framework of instructing husbands to love their wives as “Christ loved the church”. This is why wise counsel is key. Submission is respect, it’s great love, it’s working through the harder spots.
 
So, how do you begin to forgive in this instance?
 
It’s a blend of truth, grace, and confidence.
 
Forgiveness doesn’t mean that abuse is allowed to continue. However, he’s not yours to fix, and that’s where we often spend our energies.
 
What can you do then? You can speak the truth. Truth is shared, perhaps in the setting of a counselor’s office, or perhaps in a moment where it’s not heated, after prayer and with love, and with the intent of working toward a healthier relationship. Truth is coated with grace, knowing that we all fall short. It’s shared with wisdom and without accusation. And in some instances, it’s shared with healthy boundaries, not to punish, but to work toward the healthiest relationship possible. (A great book on boundaries that is both healthy and filled with wisdom is Boundaries in Marriage by Cloud and Townsend.)
 
What about unfaithfulness?
 
A percentage of that 50% wrote in that they struggled to forgive because of unfaithfulness. I shared Carlie’s story, a woman whose husband left her after 29 years of marriage. In this case, the word forgive meant that God moved into the broken and raw places of His daughter. He knew her. He knew her heart. She intentionally walked into a relationship with God during that painful time so that He could fill up her “temple”, residing in Her, healing her, moving in her in those moments when she wanted nothing more than to take revenge, or lash out. In Carlie’s case, her husband went on with his new life, but she also had new life that filled her up in the harder months ahead. She was redefined in so many ways – single mom, single woman. But her role as God’s daughter was made that much more clear and concrete.
 
Unburdened-Heart_GrassSky_smallFor those whose spouse asked for forgiveness and who desired to change, forgiving is key as you rebuild trust. But give yourself permission to be honest with your heavenly father, with the understanding that there is nothing in scripture that condones unfaithfulness. It’s not in God’s plan or His character. If He grieves over the fallen sparrow (Matt. 10:29), then He grieves over your marriage. He is big enough to handle your honesty while leading you to a new level of spiritual intimacy with Him and even tender vulnerability in your relationship with Him as you work through this harder aspect of forgiving. At this moment, it may seem impossible to forgive on your own, but are you willing? That’s the only question that you need to answer. God is a Healer, and my prayer is that your marriage goes to a new place, but also that you sense God’s hand over you as you work through this difficult place, and that one day you look back and see His tender touch over you and your marriage.
 

Read chapter one of Suzie's book.

Listen to Suzie share her journey to forgiveness.

 

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Welcome to the S.U.M. Community!

BetterTogetherMy friends, I'm chatting today with Suzie Eller on her Moms Together Facebook page. I hope you'll pop over and join the discussion. 

If you've found yourself here from Suzie's page, we want to welcome you to the Spiritually Unequal Marriage (SUM) Community! I hope you'll check out our Join Us Community Page there in the sidebar and learn more about this amazing community of believers sharing a common journey of faith.

If you are spiritually mismatched, your desire to love and walk with the Lord while being spiritually mismatched is precious! This desire is the spark God asks for so that He can supply the strength and wisdom for you to travel this path. It’s not an easy one, but I find the richest paths of life are often fraught with challenges and trials.

You play a very influential role in your husband’s life. I don’t know the circumstances of how you wound up mismatched, doesn’t matter now. What matters is that you realize one, your marriage is still blessed by God and two, God has a plan for you within your marriage. You are the closest person to your husband who can show him (not with words but with actions) who Jesus is.

During this time season of being spiritually mismatched, seek God for his direction in your marriage. Seek God also for your deepest needs, ones your husband really can’t and shouldn’t fill. This will prevent you from having unrealistic expectations of your husband, one’s he can’t possibly meet since he doesn’t share your belief system.

And finally and most importantly, trust God with your marriage and your life. I know this isn’t easy, and we learn how to trust God in steps as they pertain to certain areas of our lives, but God loves you, sees you, and knows you better than anyone. No matter how difficult certain times or situations may become, remember that God works for the good of those who love him and are called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28).

Dear friend, you are most definitely called to be on the front lines for your husband. God will show you what to do. And we are honored to be on the journey with you.

Praying & believing,
Dineen 

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Weekend Devo — Feeding on God's Best

IStock_000013074149XSmallLike newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good. — 1Peter 2:2-3

Have you ever noticed how you wind up drifting away from your spouse when you don’t spend time together and make time to talk and interact—on purpose, not just out of necessity? Have you noticed how you drift away from God when you forget to pray or wind up so busy you don’t keep that appointed time to meet with Him?

Do you see the connection? Our marriages are an earthly representation of our relationship to Christ, as his bride. When we see our marriages as a training ground of being intentional in a relationship, we are learning what it means to be intentional in our relationship with God.

Just as we have to be intentional in our marriages in order to grow closer to our spouse and mature the relationship, we need to do the same thing in our relationship with God to mature spiritually.

We can’t keep living on milk. Sometimes we have to take a hefty bite of the solid stuff and chew on it for a while to learn and grow in our marriages and our faith. Even when it seems scary, too hard, or just too much work.

Remaining in infancy keeps us from fully experiencing who God is, who our spouses are, and what our marriages and faith lives can become. We miss out on the tasty, meaty stuff.

I know this faith walk isn’t easy. Sometimes God calls us to trust Him in whole new ways and calls us to difficult tasks and directions. Not to starve or punish us, but to feed us with His best.

Praying & believing,
Dineen

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What Does Respect Really Mean?

IStock_000015408103XSmallAt church one Sunday, a friend who is also mismatched asked me about how to handle a situation that she either went behind her husband’s back to do what she thought was right in fulfilling a law or being up front and asking for his input and leadership with the understanding that he may well tell her no.

These are the times our faith will be challenged and tested. This is also why Lynn and I are constantly encouraging you to keep a daily appointment with God because first and foremost and in EVERY situation, our first step is to pray and seek God’s wisdom and direction above all else—above what we think, above what others think and above what our spouse might even think.

And here is what I have found to be true over and over again. When we seek God first in these kinds of situations with a complete desire (and I do mean a totally and completely willing heart) to do God’s will and please Him no matter what, even if it means stepping away from what we want to do, God will work out the details. I have seen Him sway the most unbelieving heart into alignment with a believing wife on difficult matters because she sought God first.

I also do not believe God will allow us to be put in a place where honoring Him dishonors our husband (in God’s perspective, not our husband’s). How can He when He has clearly laid out in His word to respect our husband? To do so would be a conflict of God’s character.

However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.— Ephesians 5:33

And I absolutely LOVE how the Expositors Bible Commentary explains this respect:

“A respect that is conditioned by and expressive of reverence for Christ.” (emphasis mine)

Even though Paul’s words imply an assumption that the husband will love his wife as to be worthy of such deference, I still believe we can show this respect to our husbands with the motivation of serving God, conditioned by and out of reverence for Christ.

And we do this by:

  1. Seeking God’s will with a willing heart
  2. Studying God’s Word to understand His will and character
  3. Trusting God to handle the results

This is especially critical to my friend in this case because she genuinely wanted to do what was right, but she was struggling between the letter and the spirit of the law. Legalism would have led her to go behind her husband’s back—not something God would ask her to do. But genuinely seeking God’s direction first and intervention in the situation will lead her in to the right solution—one she can have peace about and that will include her husband’s leadership.

And by her actions in this situation, she is ultimately honoring both God and her husband, regardless of the outcome. She can walk firmly in that reassurance, security AND protection, and have peace about the matter.

This is just one part of God’s design for marriage—a design that ultimately leads to a partnership that gives both partners freedom and protection.

Praying and believing,
Dineen

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An Interview with Lexie Baltimore, Part 2

Welcome back, everyone! Here's the second half of Lexie's interview.

Lexie

Okay, here’s a tough one, Lexie and I hope you don’t mind us asking, but I think it’s an area we should address. How did you wind up handling your feelings for Nate?

First of all, I went to God and confessed them. I had to, you know? God not only forgave me (of course He would), He also helped me understand that I wasn’t really “attracted” to Nate per say but was drawn to what I perceived to be a man of faith and envied that. That is what I truly had to repent of, envy and comparing. I’m learning to be content in my marriage and how to love my husband just as he is. God takes care of the rest.

What suggestions do you have for those times when things just seem so hopeless? Being mismatched can cause a marriage to be a roller coaster emotionally and spiritually. How do you combat those low times?

I stay close to God. Always. Even if I don’t feel like it. I find that a heavy heart is always uplifted by those precious words in the Bible. There’s so much in there, so many who have struggled before us and God put their stories and struggles right there for us to read and learn from.

Plus, it’s really hard to lose hope when God puts it on your heart to help someone who needs help or prayer. That helps me keep things in perspective. And the small group I’m part of is such a blessing in my life. These ladies are mismatched too. We pray for each other and hold each other up though it all.

The worst thing to do is to isolate yourself. I used to do that too. That’s where the enemy gains power and control in your life. We need other Christians to stay strong, I understand that now. Especially in a mismatched marriage.

But I’m noticing that the roller coaster is becoming more like a boat ride now. We have smooth waters most of the time, choppy waters occasionally. As long as I keep my eyes on Jesus, things smooth out and we sail along.

What are the strongest words of encouragement you ever received related to your situation?

You’re not alone. When I found out there were others out there like me, my whole world began to change. Being with other women who were mismatched—it was like we didn’t even need to say anything. We just knew and understood each other. That literally freed my soul from the lock down the enemy had cleverly put in place.

Can I share one more?

Sure, go ahead.

Abby talks a lot about what we go through as preparation. That encouraged me so much because one, it meant God had to put His seal of approval on everything we go through, which two, means that He views it all through His eyes of love and chooses what will help us and allows only that. Trusting God is where we experience the greatest freedom. That never stops surprising me.

Wow, thank you for sharing that, Lexie. That is very encouraging. Okay, we’re at the final question. Are you ready?

Shoot away.

Lexie's husband, Hugh
Lexie's husband, Hugh

Where are you and Hugh headed now?

(She looks off in the distance with a whimsical smile.) We are on an incredible journey right now of rediscovering each other. God is doing some pretty cool stuff in Hugh’s life too. He and Jeremy still read the story of Noah’s Ark at least one or twice a week. 

Sounds like progess?

We’re getting there. Slowly but surely. That was God’s plan all along.

 

Well, that wraps up Lexie's interview. I hope you enjoyed it. Remember, leave a comment for another book drawing, and be sure to come back Friday for some behind the scenes secrets, like:

  • How The Soul Saver turned out to be almost prophetic in my life.
  • What made me nearly give up on Lexie's story.
  • How God opened the door for this story in the place I least expected.

Again, thank you for sharing this journey with me, my dear friends! Means to world to me.

Praying and believing,
Dineen 

 

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That Old Familiar Ache

PrayerIt snuck up on me again, that old familiar ache. The one I used to walk around with constantly early on in my mismatched marriage. I thought I’d made peace with it, made the choice to trust God with my husband’s salvation and the future of our marriage. I’d learned to bring that ache, that longing to share my faith with my husband to God and leave it in His hands.

But there it was again just days before Good Friday.

Why now and why so suddenly? Had I stopped trusting God somehow? Had I taken it back from God? Or was God trying to show me or remind me of something?

I did a mental review of the last few weeks and nothing came to mind that might have shaken my foundation of trust in this area. If anything, my marriage and my relationship was better than ever.

And there it was. I’d hit this place of contentment with things as they were. Now there’s nothing wrong with being content in my marriage. Paul even speaks of how he learned to be content in every situation.

I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. — Philippians 4:11-12

Though Paul referenced his physical needs, his meaning is deeper when he speaks of “every situation.” He trusted God for everything. He was content.

But my contentment made me question whether I was simply at peace with God’s plan for my husband’s impending salvation (I believe, I believe!) or had I started to lose hope in the waiting? Had my prayers lagged and desire waned to keep praying?

Every once in a while I think it’s good to take an inventory of where we are at in our faith. Sometimes life has a way of becoming so busy with the doing and the routines that we “do” without thinking “why.”

That's what I had done recently in my marriage. I’d prayed and asked God to show me the difference. Had I truly given Him that ache in my heart in exchange for His reassurances that no matter what happens, I have Him and I am His? Or, had I become complacent, living for the now with my husband because he is a good and moral man by nature, which makes living in a mismatched marriage a little easier? Had I allowed complacency to make me forget what’s at stake in the end?

But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. — 1Timothy 6:6-7

I’m being honest and authentic here because you deserve it, my friends. Our battles don’t always lie in the obvious conflicts and issues we face being in a mismatched marriage. Sometimes the enemy works in the subtle areas we forget to take notice of. Complacency can be his tool as well.

Do I have an answer to my question? No, actually I don’t. I don’t know why the ache returned. I’m begining to think there’s more than one answer to this question because God is never found in just one place or one level. Even the Scriptures are full of many layers and meanings.

Perhaps complacency is one factor. I do believe I have trusted God for my huband’s future and I do believe one day he will come to know Jesus because God gave me this reassurance many years ago. Maybe God allowed me to feel that ache again so that in this gift of reassurance, I didn’t become lazy or forgetful.

I also believe God gives us things like this so that we don’t lose compassion and understanding for others walking difficult paths. So I believe that is part of the ache I felt even more keenly as I sat in church Friday evening.

Because as I sat there, yearning for my sweet guy to know Jesus, not just for me, but to know this amazing and wonderful God who was willing to become man as well God and suffer a most horrible death for my husband, I prayed for him to understand that kind of love.

And I thought of all of you. How we walk this path on a daily basis, some days good, some days bad, but we walk it together as sisters and brothers in Christ.

I left the church that night with a prayer to leave that ache at the cross. I can think of no better place for it. God met my needs in many ways that evening. He met me in my heart, He met me in the nudge He gave to a sweet friend at church to invite me to sit with her instead of alone, and I know He is meeting my pleas and prayers for my husband—my need for this man I love so dearly to know the One who loves him even more.

I know this because God’s Word says so:

And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus. — Phil 4:19

My dear friends, may God meet ALL your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus. He is faithful and He is good and you can be sure He will do this for you. Leave that ache at the cross and watch how our Great Lord and Savior redeems it.

Praying and believing,
Dineen

*****

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Messy and Broken Could Be The Best Place To Be

image from www.spirituallyunequalmarriage.comIt’s Sunday afternoon as I write this post, I know I should be asking you to listen to Dineen and me on the radio today. But, right now I just can’t. My heart is heavy.  

In a rare moment, this morning at church at the request of our Pastor, I went to the front of the church to be available to pray with anyone who needs prayer. I’ve never done this before and wouldn’t you just know God KNEW there was one woman, a wife, who needed me, whom I could so relate. As I looking into her face, I could see a not-so-distant reflection of me only a few years ago. 

She was struggling in her marriage. 

My heart is broken for her. 

My heart is truly broken for all of our messy marriages. 

I am broken for those of us who are married and yet lonely, who are sad, angry, disappointed. My heart breaks for us who are isolated even at church because we don’t fit the typical church family shape. My heart hurts for those of us who are desperate to share intimacy with our spouse and to know a marriage where Christ is the center and not ridiculed by the very person who was supposed to be our soul mate. 

My heart is broken. But….. (With God there is always a but.) 

My sweet friends it’s when we are broken that God can do His best work. It’s when we have finally reached a place that we just can’t do “it” anymore. That is when we finally surrender our pain, our expectations, our marriage, and our spouse’s salvation to an all-powerful and good God. 

I am an ordinary woman. A 5’4” blonde who doesn’t have this walk with God all figured out. I don’t have all the answers but I have one thing and it’s all I need. 

I have Jesus. 

I love Jesus with every part of me. And Jesus loves me. And that is the simple key to living in peace and to loving my nonbeliever. The transforming love of Christ and His Word has changed everything. 

My friends, you CAN do this messy marriage thing. You can thrive in your spiritual mismatch. You can raise Godly kids in the midst of different world views. You can laugh, OUT LOUD with praises on your lips. You can experience peace that surpasses all understanding. You can love profoundly and with passion. 

Dineen and I are ordinary wives but we serve the Extraordinary God of the Universe and His son, Jesus. And our marriages have been redeemed, our kids are safe in our Savior’s hands and we are on the most amazing journey any believer could hope to travel. 

Oh please, travel this crazy, mixed up road with us. Learn to hear the Father’s voice. Watch as He astonished you with unexpected and fantastic answers to prayer. Let Him comfort you and teach you new ways to live. 

Walk with us and behold…… His desires for your life will be the greatest thing you will ever experience. 

Psalms 37:4 Delight yourself in the Lord 
and He will give you the desires of your heart. 

I bear witness to the truth of God’s Word. 

Today, if you are brokenhearted, leave your prayer request in the comments. We will pray for each of them. We have a prayer team that will pray for you by name. Take a step forward in your walk toward heaven and watch all that our Great God will do in you, around you and allow him to amaze you this very week. 

FocuslogoBe blessed my friends, Lynn 

To listen to our Focus on the Family interview, click here. We pray that every word reflects Jesus. To God be all honor and glory. 

And, if you are new to our website, visit our New Hear page. Step off on the path to healing this very hour.

*****

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Our Place of Influence (Part 2): What does that look like?

IStock_000015200654XSmallLast week I wrote about our place of influence in our marriage. How do we get there and what does it look like? Let’s start where I ended last week.

1. Pray for wisdom and guidance. It starts right here. Without God’s wisdom and guidance, none of this is possible. It’s like groping in the dark for a light switch. If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him (James 1:5). First and foremost, we need to be cultivating a relationship with God. If you do just this one thing, the rest of the steps below will fall into place.

2. Pray for change in you. As I shared last week, we are often the heart of our families. That means we are also a catalyst for change. Ask God to help you be the wife and mother HE (not your husband or family) needs you to be. This means you’re asking God to use you to be this person of influence and change in the lives of your husband and children. This means asking God to help you see your husband as a blessing, not a burden. We are not martyrs in our own homes, but we can be missionaries.

3. Pray for your husband. This is most likely your highest calling. Pray for his protection, for his mind and heart to know and accept Jesus, and pray for him as the leader of your family. He may not be the spiritual leader of your family right now, but he is still the leader of you and your family in general. Allow him to lead! This is where you will find your greatest calling and challenge as a wife—to stand by your husband, to affirm him as a man, as a husband, as a father. In doing this we serve him and we serve God. The amazing thing is, when we take this place, we discover what God truly means by, “and the two will become one.” This is a beautiful place of partnership where we work together as a team, as a “we” and not two “I”s working against each other. Our greatest gift to our husband is to help him reach his God-given potential, even in the midst of his unbelief or lagging faith. Remember, God is working there too.

4. Pray for your children. This is your legacy. This is your influence on future generations. This is your mark on eternity. As I said before, we often set the tone and pattern in our family. Nothing has been more rewarding than to see my oldest daughter choose a relationship with a godly man and desire to have a marriage based upon God’s design. Even in their engagement I see these two taking their God-given and ordained places in their relationship. It is truly a thing of beauty. All the years that I’ve poured into my marriage and into my family are bearing fruit in her. That is so humbling and so rewarding. I’ve already received some of my treasure in the here and now.

5. Pray for and encourage other women in mismatched marriages. Lynn and I are walking and talking testimonies to this. If you look at 2 Cor. 1:3-7, you’ll see that God never intends for us to keep what we know about and learn from Him to ourselves. Those areas of victory will be used to help others. That right there is another blessing we can receive in this lifetime. I can think of no better way to serve God than to share His hope—to share Him—with others so that they too can know love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control in their lives and their marriages. This is the example we have in Titus 2 as well.

6. Be still and know God is God. Quit trying to fix your husband, your kids, your life...youself. If you look at the Lord’s prayer, the end affirms that God’s kingdom, power and glory are forever. Pray these prayers and then trust that God is already in action. He probably was even before you said a word. The hardest part is waiting on God’s timing. I waited 16 years for my husband to accept my faith, to accept this is who I am and I’m not going to change. It’s a small step forward and worth the wait. Ten years ago I was impatient and anxious for my husband to know Jesus NOW! Today I am content and thankful that he now accepts my faith, understands this is who I am, and chooses to love me and walk the road of marriage together.

My friends, I write these things from my heart and from my experience. And with this comes the full understanding that we cannot do this, fill this place of influence without constantly seeking God for strength, wisdom and courage. Do not let your husband’s unbelief and the lies of the enemy tell you that you can’t be this kind of wife to your husband. You can and God will give you everything you need to do so.

Just trust Him. Trust Him to equip you. The most amazing part of this journey, for me, is finding myself and my life in Christ. This is the part that’s hard to put in words other than to say that there is nothing more peaceful and empowering than walking in obedience to God. Had I clung to what I wanted instead of allowing God to be the one in control, I would not have the marriage I have now. I wouldn’t have the life of joy I’m experiencing now! This is what Jesus meant when he said we must lose our life to get it back and that his burden is light. Though our lives will always have conflicts, challenges and trials, His way is the best way to live a life of joy and peace in the midst of it all.

In walking this path as a mismatched wife I have found purpose, joy and amazing faith. This is God’s doing, not mine. And we have so much more waiting for us in heaven. That’s when we will see the full picture of what our place of influence truly accomplished for God.

Amen?

Lynn shared that we’ll be giving away two copies of the Resolution for Women. I feel led to buy one for myself, sign it and put it in a card for my husband as a Valentine’s Day present. To be honest, the idea scares me—what will my husband think of it? How will he react? I’m choosing to step out in courage and follow what I believe to be God asking me to testify openly to my husband what my place in our marriage means to me. I’m praying for God’s courage and for my husband’s heart to receive my gift.

Is God calling you to have courage and take a step of faith in your marriage?

Praying and believing,
Dineen

*****

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Our Place of Influence: Where do we choose to stand?


IStock_000015200654XSmallWhen I try to explain to someone the role of influence we hold in our husband’s lives, it’s almost too difficult to put into words what I sense so deeply in my heart. I will say it is something I feel very passionate about.

As women, we hold a very important place in the lives of our family. In many ways, as wives and mothers, we are the heart of our family. We influence the mood, the routines and the relationships of everyone in our home.

We have a wonderful biblical example in the story of Esther. Did you know she was unequally yoked? She was a Jewess married to a Persian King—a pagan. Talk about finding yourself in a mismatched marriage and a unique situation, right?

Yet if you follow the story, Esther finds herself suddenly in a position to influence her husband for the sake of her people. Yes, hers is a life and death situation but we can glean so much from her story.

At first she is afraid of the risk. If she approaches her husband and stands for her beliefs, she’ll ripple the waters. Yet her Uncle and mentor, Mordecai, reminds her that even in her place as Queen, she will not escape the fate of her people. He gently yet firmly shows her that this is most likely her time to stand strong in her faith—that it’s no accident she is where she is.

What I find so fascinating in this story is that God isn’t even mentioned verbally, yet He is very much present. Nor does Esther try to convert the King to her beliefs. Through fasting and prayer, Esther receives the strength and guidance she needs to help save her people. She influences her husband through her gentle spirit, her confidence in God and actions that garner her husband’s favor and trust. She puts aside her fear and concern for herself to achieve a greater goal than her own comfort.

As wives of faith, we stand on the front lines for our husbands. And like Mordecai asked Esther, “who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:13), and as Paul asks, “How do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or, how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife? Nevertheless, each one should retain the place in life that the Lord assigned to him and to which God has called him” (1 Cor. 7:16-17), where are we choosing to stand?

For me, I’m in this place by marriage and by calling. I feel called to stand by my husband to support him, to pray for him, to encourage him and affirm him. I want to be a reflection of Christ in his life. No, I don't go before an earthly king, but I stand before our heavenly King, petitioning for the soul of my loved ones. For me, this is a place of honor and one I want to do well—finish well. One day I will stand before Jesus, and I so want to hear him say, “well done!”

Walking in a spiritually mismatched marriage means leaving our places of fear and walking in courage and confidence that God has placed us in our marriages for a higher calling than our own happiness. I know that can seem overwhelming at times, almost as if it’s too much responsibility, but the beauty of it is, we are not called to function in this place of influence within the parameters of our own definition and strength. As I’ve said before, God never places us somewhere without equipping us. (And please understand that I’m not saying we must stay in abusive marriages—that is a very different situation.)

Finally, I want to tell you that in this place of service, which I consider to be so very noble, God meets our needs. Every one of them. This is the part I find difficult to put into the words. The lonely places, the disappointments, the heartache, the struggles—God has met me in every one of these places and has met my need, healed my heart and taught me how to walk the path of a mismatched wife.

All this still within the parameters of a mismatched marriage. Not after my husband came to faith. Now. This frees me to love my husband just as he is and allows me to enjoy our marriage. My focus isn’t on our differences, which often causes us to see our spouse as an enemy. My focus is on seeing my husband as my partner and friend. And I know if I’m feeling this freedom, he is too. That’s how I’m influencing him.

Next week I will talk more about this place of influence in our mismatched marriages and talk about what that looks like. In the meantime, start praying and asking God what place He’s calling you to in your marriage.

Dear Lord, I ask that you help me to understand my place of influence in my husband’s life. Let my heart be knitted to his as a conduit of your love and mine so that he may know who You are. In Christ’s name, amen.

Praying and believing,
Dineen

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No More Marriage?

IStock_000016466788XSmallJesus replied, “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God. At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven. — Matthew 22: 29-30

I don’t know about you but this verse has always made me stop and wonder. What does it mean? Why will marriage cease to exist?

Bear with me here, because I had a sudden light bulb moment recently. I won’t claim it to be biblical or swear it came from God, but to me, it makes sense.

Marriage is probably the closest representation we have here as to our relationship with God. It’s a covenant He created and provides a safe “place” for us to connect with another person in intimacy—physically for reproduction and to know each other, mentally to fulfill certain emotional needs and to create unity, and spiritually to grow together in our connection to God and understanding His place in our lives.

Along with life, marriage is a training ground to make us more Christ-like and to prepare us for eternity.

So, let’s talk about eternity. Once there we will be complete in Christ.

In the physical sense: We will know and be known even as we are known (1 Cor. 13:12). Thus the separation created by sin is eliminated and we will know intimacy with God as He intended it to be (think of Garden of Eden before the Fall but even better!). And we certainly won’t need to reproduce!

In the mental/emotional sense: I can imagine all our needs will be perfectly met, if we even have any. Unity will be our natural state because we will truly experience our presence in the body of Christ and what that connection means. The barriers that so often hinder relationship will also be gone, like envy, jealousy, insecurity, etc.

In the spiritual sense: In heaven we step into the fulfillment of our spirituality because we are with God. Sin is gone, thus nothing separates us or hinders our closeness to God.

In this light, it makes perfect sense to me that there would be no more marriage, nor will there be issues as far as those who have married more than once. In heaven we are all united as one in God’s family. We are all His and He is ours—equally.

I don’t know about you but the beauty and perfection of it blows me away and is almost incomprehensible.

Now step back and think of your marriage in these terms. How’s it look now?

Praying and believing,
Dineen

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Talking Without Words

IStock_000012579309XSmallPart of a presentation I’m giving on Wednesday has a section about romance and romancing your guy. I love this part because I get to give a group of women some facts and tangible ideas of how to romance their husbands.

Some of this lands on communication and its vital role in any relationship. And it can be a useful tool to flirt with your spouse. But how do we really communicate?

Recent statistics show that only 7% of our communication is done with words and 38% with intonation and sound of voice. Which means over half of our communication is done with our body. Fifty-five percent to be precise and most of that is done with our eyes.

Think about that a minute. Do you look at your husband when you talk to him? Do you focus on him when he’s speaking to you? Can you remember the details of his eyes? (That one I just threw in there for fun).

How about tone? That’s probably one of the most frustrating areas that I have in my communication. My tone can sound almost angry at times when I’m actually not. I’ve had to school my voice and pay attention to how I sound.

Facial expression is a big one too. I can be lost in my thoughts (more than likely the story I’m currently working on) or trying to figure something out, and my family will think I’m upset because I look so serious.

My point is, communication isn’t just about words. It’s about our body language and our focus. Ever talked to someone who didn’t say a word to interrupt but you could clearly tell by their body language that they weren’t listening?

Think about how you communicate to your spouse and to your children. We tend to be more aware of these areas with friends and even strangers but totally “let down our hair” when it comes to our loved ones and forget to pay this simple courtesy to ones we love most.

Not sure how you communicate most? Ask your spouse. See what he or she has to say and pay attention to how your spouse communicates over the next few days. Some of my biggest eyeopeners in this area have been in the messages I didn’t realize I was sending.

Praying and believing,
Dineen

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And the Walls Came A-Tumbling Down

IStock_000003877105XSmallLynn’s post yesterday talked about the walls we erect that keep our guys on the outside. I want to share with you how this translated into my life.

I walked into my marriage with the expectations I’d leaned from the pages of romance novels and movies. I’d bought into the fairytale. Everything was fine in the beginning but then the reality began to settle in.

My husband wasn’t perfect. He didn’t do the things I thought he should. He didn’t get that he had a role to play in the script I’d written in my mind and heart. He didn’t even know his lines!

How dare he let me down like that? How dare he not do the things around the house that seemed so obvious to me? How dare he not pull his weight in the relationship?

So what else could I do? I jumped in and did it. After all, these are things that have to be done and done right. You know the saying, if you want it done right, you have to do it yourself. So I did!

I did everything. I had to. No one else would. I took care of the kids, the house—everything. And I worked so hard to get things just right and either he didn’t notice or the kids just undid it all so that I had to do all over again.

Life wasn’t fair. Why didn’t he get that if he would just do things the way I wanted and was there when I needed him, life would be so much easier.

Let’s fast forward to a little ways into my marriage. We’d moved to Switzerland because of a work opportunity for my husband. Things started out great, then went from bad to worse. The weight of the world on my shoulders effectively doubled.

I walked into my new church one day and was approached by a soft-spoken woman. She handed me a piece of paper about a group called 1Peter3, a group for women married to unbelievers. I joined immediately and we studied the book Beloved Unbeliever together.

God began to open my eyes through this and another Bible study, Experiencing God. Not to see my husband’s faults and lack, but to see my own. I began to see how much I pressure I had put upon my marriage and my husband through my expectations. I backed off, reassessed, and started to painfully change the way I talked to my husband. I became aware of my words. My marriage began to improve greatly as God taught me to respect my husband.

Still, there was this pattern that seemed to show up. Things would go great for a while and then go down the drain again. Why? Why did this keep coming back? Why did we keep getting stuck in this place? I’d done pretty well in communicating my needs and helping to understand what I was saying without being condemning, so why did the same issues keep cropping up?

One day I was walking into my kitchen. Maybe I was praying, I don’t clearly remember. What I do remember was a very clear and sudden thought.

“It’s not him who has to change, it’s me. It’s not his perceptions that need adjustment, it’s mine.”

Like a light bulb bursting with light, this truth exploded in my head and did a number on my heart. I realized I had let go of my expectations of what I wanted and had replaced them with negative expectations. The kind where you expect your spouse to do what he’s always done, to disappoint you the way he always done, to let you down the way he’s always done.

I’d placed these negative expectations on my husband, ones he could actually meet, but never gave him a chance to do anything else. The problem was, each one added a brick to that wall around me, the one I thought would keep me from feeling the hurt of being let down. And my poor guy kept bouncing into it, feeling as if he could never do anything right.

It’s a vicious cycle. It destroys marriages. It destroys people.

I had to tear down the bricks and it would take a while. First, I had to break this habit of negative expectations that I’d developed and see in my husband the potential God had created in him. Until I did, my husband would never become the man God had fashioned him to be. And two, I had to rebuild trust in our marriage. I had to show my husband I believed in him, that I truly supported him, and trusted him. Respected him.

My desire to change my husband shifted to a desire to change me. I wanted to change. I needed to change. I was desperate for freedom! I prayed for God to change me, to change my heart, to change my thinking, and to help me love my husband the way Jesus loves him.

God took my pain and desire and used it to tear down the walls I had built around my emotions. He freed me from lies and bad habits and showed me how to affirm, appreciate and out-love my husband.

Friends, this is not easy to share with you. I have no shame admitting my path because I know God has forgiven and redeemed me and my past. But to write this out brings me tears. It’s not been an easy journey. It’s been painful but so worth it!

God is gracious, kind and faithful. I shared in our Weekend Devo what my husband did for me last week. That is not how it’s always been. It has taken work and time to reach this place of where I can love him without expectation and the more I do—the more I love my husband through Jesus—the more our marriage has healed and thrived.

For so many years I wanted my guy to fit a mold that I had created for the perfect husband. To finally release him from that and to just love and appreciate the man he is, and then to out-love him as we’ve been doing here, brought something from his mouth I thought I would never hear. He actually referred to a task that needed to be done in our home as a “job for him, a husband’s job.” Something I never would have imagined I’d hear him say.

I still stumble at times and God is quick to show me and pick me up so I can apologize to my husband. The results of this journey are still coming in. I’ve changed dramatically and my husband has responded in so many unexpected ways. Now he’s starting to out-love me. That was never my motivation for out-loving him. I wanted only to be obedient to God for the sake of my husband’s future salvation, to show him Jesus.

The world will tell you that your perfect mate will meet your every need. God will tell you that He is all that you need and will show that He’s already met your every need in His Son Jesus. When we live in this truth, we are free to love Jesus and everyone He puts in our path. We truly love because He first loved us.

God sees your desires and efforts, your pain and struggles in your marriage. He wants to show you a better way. Ask him. He’s just waiting for you to make the first move.

Praying and believing,
Dineen

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Spouse-Based or God-Based?

IStock_000010120543XSmallWhat is the difference between a spouse-based marriage and a God-based marriage?

This is the question my Sunday school leader asked our group this past weekend. We’re currently doing Gary Thomas’ video series, Sacred Marriage, which goes with his book by the same title. It’s a great course, and I have loved hearing different perspectives on marriage and how God works in our marriages and uses them to refine us.

The answer to this question also fits into our “Out-Love Your Spouse” challenge. So here it is:

A spouse-based marriage is performance based. In other words, I’ll do something nice for him if he does something for me. Or, why should I do that for her? She never does anything for me? And how about this one: He was grumpy last night. No way am I going to be nice to him today.

Basically, as long as our spouse is performing to our standards, and meeting our needs, we will love them, help them, and be a good spouse in return. As soon as they stop meeting that standard, we withdraw our affection, love and help.

In a God-based marriage we love our spouse because that is what Jesus has asked us to do—love one another. We love our spouse whether they are grumpy or happy. We help our spouse without the expectation of getting something in return. We serve our spouse as an act of serving God.

See the difference? I know this challenge to “out-love” our spouse isn’t an easy one, especially if you’re in a difficult marriage. Especially if you’re in a situation where there is hostility and rebuff. But I want to encourage you to persevere, because I am confident of two things:

1. When we love our spouse from the motivation that we are serving God—being obedient to God—God sees our efforts. Our spouse may not, but God sees. And He is faithful!

2. In some way, our spouse will be affected on some level. They may not respond right away. They may not respond in a way that you’d expect. But when we are loving our spouse from the motivation to serve God—in essence, if we are loving our spouse from a place of loving Jesus—we become a conduit for the love of Christ to reach our spouse. That’s powerful!

Look at Hebrews 10:23-24:

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.

My friends, we heard what Shelley shared with Lynn in the video about what her pastor told her. Our calling to love and serve begins right in our own homes. God wants us to start there before He can bring us out into the mission fields of our workplace, our neighborhood, or even our friends and extended family.

Don’t give up. God calls us to love even the most unlovable. Even if that defines our spouse at the moment. And if we’re totally honest here, we aren’t always very lovable either, are we?

Last week, I did small things for my hubby, like sitting on the couch with him instead of the chair I usually sit on. I looked for little things that would make his life a little easier and his home a haven to return to. God put this on my heart as away to comfort my stressed out guy. One night, this poor guy thanked me for making dinner—twice in one meal. I didn’t ask for that appreciation. I only sought to do what God was showing me to do.

And finally, let me say that just because our spouse isn’t a believer (yet) doesn't mean we can’t have a God-centered marriage. You are the conduit to bring God into your marriage. Keep the faith and remember that through that very same faith, your spouse partakes in your sanctification (read “Sanctified Unbeliever” here) and God’s covering.

Praying and believing,
Dineen

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THRIVE in your Spiritually Mismatched Marriage and raise your children to faith. Our books are filled with practical experience and Biblical advice. -click or tap the photo-

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The Silent Talker

IStock_000014622874XSmall So far, we’ve been talking about our words—how we use them and even when. I have to share with you that early on in my marriage, I didn’t always use my words wisely when I did speak up, but my biggest issue was not speaking up at all.

Instead I held things in, choosing my own discomfort over dealing with a conflict or disagreement. I swallowed hurts at times that should have been expressed or shared in good ways in order to seek resolution.

If you’re a “stuffer” like me, you know what happens eventually. You blow like a volcano, spewing your resentment and anger on anyone who happens to be around. I functioned this way for many years and my family likened my outbursts to a small volcano that occasionally blew just enough to let off some steam. They even had me pegged down to how long between outbursts.

The thing is, I didn’t like being that volcano. Even in the middle of a “steam release,” I can recall asking myself, “Why am I doing this?” The lesson I painfully learned was that though we had spans of what seemed like peaceful times, the waters beneath my seemingly calm exterior were slowly reaching critical mass.

The reason I’m sharing this is to make a distinction between being a doormat and actually speaking when something needs to be said. Sometimes we’re put in a position where we do need to let our spouse know they crossed a boundary, when something they said hurt our feelings, or when something they promised they would do didn’t get done.

But it comes down to how we speak up and what our attitude is. No matter how good our marriage might be, it’s not easy living with another person on a daily basis. Roommates can be changed, marriages can’t (or shouldn’t). So how do we communicate in ways that bring understanding and edification at the same time?

Let’s look at what God has to say:

Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. — Ephesians 4:14-16 (emphasis mine)

This is a great piece of Scripture, because even though Paul is referring to spreading the Good News, it’s a model for all communication. When our motivation and attitude stem from a desire to speak truth in order to bring understanding and peace, when we speak from a place of concern not only for ourselves but for the other person as well, we’ve shifted from a place of blame to partnership.

In marriage this is critical. It’s what I call a “we mentality.” As opposed to an “I mentality,” where we wind up speaking out of anger and resentment.

Let’s look at another great peace of Scripture:

Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. — Colossians 4:6

Again, Paul is referring to how the disciples were to speak to “outsiders,” how they were to witness to unbelievers.

My friends, may I propose that we are in that same place? We have an “outsider” in our very homes on a daily basis. How much more critical is it that we speak words full of grace and seasoned with salt?

Speaking the truth in love means expressing our care, our hurt, our frustration with the goal of bringing peace. Instead of seeing our spouse as the enemy in these moments, what if we spoke with the goal to restore the “we” in our marriage? What if we spoke with the objective to bring understanding and to find a mutual solution? What if we spoke with the mind and heart of Christ so that our spouse would have the opportunity to witness what that is?

Yes, sometimes it is best to not speak but other times, we need to in order to help our spouse grow and learn. Just as we need to. This is part of the function of marriage, as iron sharpens iron, we are helping each other to grow into better people. Marriage is teamwork.

This does not mean keeping our mouths shut and not speaking up when a boundary has been crossed, nor does it mean we are in a place to become critical and confrontational. It means we consider our words and motivations, then pray before speaking.

There are still times that I have to remind myself that I need to say something. No more stuffing! And there are times that as the words are coming across my lips, that I literally rephrase because I realize my words convey an “I” mentality instead of a “we.”

We are not perfect. Neither is our spouse. But as Paul says in Ephesians 4, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ.” In all things, I want to grow up to be like Christ. How about you?

Praying and believing,
Dineen

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Weekend Devo — Are you listening, dear?

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This 1881 engraving appeared in Charles Dickens "Bleak House" and is actually depicting a marriage proposal. What cracks me up is the woman is oblivious to what he's doing. Even the bird on the poor guy's shoulder is more aware of what's going on than she is.

Do you do that? Sometimes I do. I'm so tuned into finishing something or distracted with something in my thoughts (we writers do that A LOT!) that I realize my poor husband has said something to me and I've missed it. What's worse is seeing his disappointed expression when he says, "You weren't listening, were you?"

Everyone wants to be heard. And more importantly, our spouses do. So here's an extra challenge for you as part of our "Out-love Your Spouse" October challenge. Listen intentionally and really pay attention when they are talking. Repeat parts back to show that you really heard them. Interact, ask questions and acknowledge what they're saying.

We wouldn't want them to do any less for us, right?

Praying and believing,
Dineen 

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THRIVE in your Spiritually Mismatched Marriage and raise your children to faith. Our books are filled with practical experience and Biblical advice. -click or tap the photo-

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Live Near Dublin, CA? Let's talk about romance.

This Friday I will be at Lighthouse Christian Supply in Dublin, CA to speak about putting romance back into our marriages. This is going to be a fun presentation full of great ideas and lots of laughs. It's all part of our "out loving your spouse" challenge so if you're in the area, I hope you'll stop by! Hugs! ~Dineen

RibbonHeart

Putting the Romance Back into Your Marriage
October 7 @ 7:00 p.m. 
7188 Amador Plaza Rd.
Dublin, CA

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THRIVE in your Spiritually Mismatched Marriage and raise your children to faith. Our books are filled with practical experience and Biblical advice. -click or tap the photo-

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