74 posts categorized "Needs In Marriage"

Attending Chruch Alone
Church or no-Church. What is a Girl to Do?

Continued from Monday.

I just couldn’t do it any longer. Sacrifice another morning. I survive because of those two little hours where I refuel, gain perspective and fill my soul with spiritual strength in order to face the week ahead and the spiritual battles which are inevitable.

His non-confrontational persona leapt forward and he mumbled something inaudible and shuffled myself and my daughter into a row. My eyes burned but I was able to sit through the service.

Which brings us to yesterday (last week), actually rewind a bit further to late Saturday evening. We arrived home after an evening with friends. I am angry because it is 1:00 a.m. and church in the morning is now doubtful. It is then that I decide the last straw has landed on my back. Such strange timing.

I launch into this tirade, “It looks like I am going to miss church again. I am angry because we were out late and you did nothing to wrap up the evening at an hour to allow me rest and to get up early to attend church with my small group.”

There is much more to this building dynamic which is the result of numerous repeats of this scenario. You will have to trust me on this. I didn’t freak-out over a single event. This is a long in the making.

Now bear with me on this me because this exchange appears selfish and in fact it may be. However, at this moment, I am truly over it! I don’t want my husband to EVER attend church with me again unless he wants to. The conversation ended with me flopping into bed.

The next morning, “Sweetie, I want you to know that I in fact, was planning to attend church with you. Not because it would make you happy but because I wanted to.”

Sheesh!

We didn’t make it to church. As I write this post, I am puzzling. How could I traverse a complete 360 about this most important topic and really mean it? More perplexing, I haven’t been able to work through the rightness of it nor God’s perspective (yet).

The way I see it, for years, I applied pressure on my husband to such a degree that he attended church ONLY to make me happy. The result, he finally starts attending we are both miserable.

This is my dilemma. I believed, with all that I am, church would reach my husband. Untrue as of right now. Furthermore, I think I am happier about going alone than sitting by my man and feeling the stress of his displeasure.

I know many of you KNOW exactly what I speak of. I am unable as of this moment to give you the answer but the answer I seek. Not only for me but for you who have also faced or will face this strange turn of events.

I commit this to you my friends, God has brought this situation alive and to the forefront. He is preparing a learning moment, dare I say, a paradigm shift for me and for many of you. I am seeking the truth of navigating – church or no-church, with fervent prayer and a persistence not present before.

Our Lord has never failed to show me the truth of my situations, marriage, parenting, friendships. I will remain faithful and trust He will do the same in this. And, when I know. You will know.

Until then, I want to hear from you and how many of you traverse the quandary of, Church or no-church. Share with me. Be Blessed, Lynn

I plan to talk with you about what I am learning about myself, this situation, about my husband's journey and our Great Big God on Monday. Please tune in for that conversation. It is gonna be good. Love ya! Lynn


Let’s Talk, Part 2

1022995_lovers_blissLast week we had a great discussion about communication. Lots of great comments and input. Let me see if I can summarize some of what was shared.

Talking: The true key to communication, although we do communicate with our body language and tone of voice, but we’ll leave that to another post. Kathleen gave us a good example of how she tried to meet her husband on his terms and interests. And based upon what she said, her efforts were rewarded. Her husband encouraged her. The point here is she took the time to find a way to involve herself in something her husband liked to do, therefore opening more opportunities for them to communicate and share. (Guess I’ll give disc golf another shot. Stay tuned for more on that one!)

Choices: Part of the underlying thread of communication is the choice to participate and even choose an activity conducive to talking. Having dinner instead of a movie. Taking a walk together for exercise instead of going to the gym and then going different directions. Or even doing activities in the same room—reading, like Gretchen’s example—but still keeping physical contact (there’s that body language again…) and being open to share and talk when the mood hits. Just be sure to pick an activity in which you and your spouse won’t mind interruptions. Kathryn made a great suggestion of having a regular date night. Here’s an opportunity to get creative in the planning and even challenge one another to try new things. Let’s admit it, part of the battle is falling into old routines that leave one or both spouses dissatisfied.

Part of this also applies to the situation like our anonymous friend shared. Yes, we want to reach out to our unbelieving spouses and find common ground, but we can’t compromise to sin in order to do it. God would never ask that of us anyway. Perhaps in anonymous’ case, the family could work together to find appropriate shows and movies they can watch together, and leave a clear boundary that he’s on his own when she and her son find the content offensive. Their actions will continue to speak volumes.

Setting Aside Agendas: With this comes Amber’s excellent point. Humility. If we can go into our effort to connect with our spouses with humility, with our own agendas set aside, perhaps we can reach them in new ways. Sure, it may mean doing something like wading through burrs and dry grass to find a Frisbee disc on a hot day, but am I willing to put aside my discomfort and make the point of the activity—to spend time together—the focus?

Rob gave us a reverse scenario of this one. He found something he felt would be interesting to both him and his wife. And not only that, it turned into an opportunity for him to share his faith. His persistence paid off.

Prayer: At the risk of sounding like a broken record, let’s pray and ask God to show us new ways to communicate with our spouses. When we’ve tried everything and have basically moved on to live separate lives for the most part as Grammy shared with us, I still believe God can break these barriers in ways we can’t even imagine. So yes, when we are in a difficult marriage, we should continue to grow and pursue our own interests, but we shouldn’t give up on our difficult spouses, nor throw that valuable respect Tamara talked about out the window. Nor should we keep ourselves stagnant just to make our spouse happy. The enemy would love nothing better. When we can’t seem to make any ground in these situations, God can. And we can too through his guiding hand and strength. (Phil. 4:13)

So, let's keep sharing new ways to communicate with our spouses. And if you see me on the disc golf range, be sure to wave hello. I’ll be the one picking burrs out of my socks.

Praying and believing,
Dineen


Attending Church Alone
Church or no-Church

Things often play out very strange.

I am going to share a story with you. I am still trying to process the circumstances of the past two weeks looking for the hand-print of God in this. I would be interested to know if any of you have experienced what I experienced and how you processed it.

 _____

One of the most consistent Google searches which bring new readers to Spiritually Unequal Marriage is this: Attending Church Alone.

I am not surprised by this. For many years, going to church alone was an enormous obstacle for me. Our society is after all, structured primarily around couples. Ever been to the amusement park? Two chairs together on the roller coaster. What about going to the movie theater alone? Shudder!

And finally, church. Organized religion, for the most part, revolves around couples – families. I am not condemning this truth only pointing out that the typical church centers around husbands AND wives. Church leadership doesn’t intend to isolate singles. After all look at the many thriving singles programs churches offer. Manalonechurch

However, being married and single is a category most churches can’t even begin to comprehend. With this said, the reality of attending church alone is excruciating. Many Sundays, I would sit down in the sanctuary by myself. Soon a cute couple would shuffle down the row in front of me. I always seemed to notice they were holding hands. Woman prayingThen they would sit directly in front of me thus making it impossible for me to ignore them. And finally they would shoot each other a dazzling, I-am-in-love-with-you-and-so-glad-to-be-in-church-with-you, smile.

Pain.

I’m not saying anything is wrong with this scenario. In fact, it is very right. But for me……. my heart could be wrenched right out of my chest. The pastor’s message would become lost as his words floated above me, indistinguishable because I was lost in a turbulent sea of unfulfilled longing which threatened to completely swallow me up. Anyone relate?

So now let me put a twist on this scenario. It’s utterly strange to me as I contemplate what I am going to share.

In the recent months since my husband's unemployment, he has attended church with me sporadically. Elated just doesn’t describe how excited I felt over this change in our relationship in early January. Every unbelieving spouse, hopes –dreams- about this day. We think, finally, he will hear the truth spoken and because it is delivered by someone other than me, perhaps the Holy Spirit will finally breakthrough to him.

A desperation prayer is then quickly uttered. “O Lord, please, please, let this be the day he is baptized.”

Well, I am still waiting. And in recent weeks, a new phenomenon has emerged into our intricate church attendance drama.

ME.

Recently when my husband chooses to attend church, I faced some unexpected and baffling scenarios. The night or morning before church, my husband would launch into complaints. “The music's too loud. It is a waste of time. Why do we stand through the long singing time? All the men that I observe in church just aren’t’ into it, so why do we sing? And, why is church so long anyway? An hour is enough.”

At first I would answer these questions. “Popular Christian music isn’t like the old hymns. Younger people like it louder and more energetic. So do I.”

“We stand because we honor God as we stand to our feet and from my perspective the singing (worship) isn’t long enough.”

“Many, many people including men really, honestly, like the music.”

And I just leave the whole length-of-the-service thing completely alone. If you love Jesus, you like to be there. If you don’t…….

In addition to these complaints, he would use body language to display his displeasure during the service once we arrive. And if I am brutally honest, I found myself in silent tears as I observed the hostility in him while I stood at his side in church on random Sundays. Because of these verbal and nonverbal complaints, the once-a week- worship and reconnection which I desperately needed was subtly stolen from me. It was just too much for me to ignore.

It seems last week I couldn’t take anymore. It was Father’s Day. He complained about getting up early. “I am not going to rush to get ready. We will get there when we get there” he said as he stepped into the shower.

My disappointment mounted. I LOVE TO WORSHIP. The music can absolutely revive my heart.

We walked into the church that morning and the music was loud but not piercing. He immediately mumbled some caustic remark to me. Girls and Men…. I just snapped. “You do not need to be here. I don’t want you to come to church just to make me happy. I no longer want you here if you don’t desire to be here so please leave right now and I will get a ride home.”

I stared straight into his face with an intensity that could have bored holes through his head. At the moment, I wish they would have. Not kidding!

_____

~This post has gone long but I have so much more of the story to tell. It's already written and I will meet you again here on Friday, July 3rd for the conclusion as well as a question for you. Please come back. Also, today give me your thoughts and share your experiences about church or no-church. Be Blessed, Lynn


Let's Talk

1022995_lovers_bliss Communication is a vital part of any relationship. And I'll be honest. Right now I'm not communicating very well with my hubby. Thanks to some wonderful prayer warriors, I can sense it's getting better, but I'm still not quite on track, or where I'd like to be. Because, let's face it, in a SUM, it's like we're constantly on stage, don't you think? I know I do. We want to our unbelieving spouses to witness what God's done or doing in our lives, but that's not always easy.

So, let's hang out and talk a little bit here about the challenges of communication and how we can find ways to improve our talking, and listening skills.

One area I think makes a big difference in communication is staying connected. This can be a real challenge in any kind of marriage. We grow older, our interests change, and before you know it, you're more like two people living separate lives who occasionally intersect than a married couple.

I know I've tried playing an online game with my hubby, and even went disc golfing with him once. But I'm finding myself more challenged to find things we can connect with and through, since our beliefs are so different.

So, what have you found works in helping stay connected to your spouse? Let's get a convo going here, people! Let's talk!

Looking forward to reading your comments!
Dineen


Books, Books, and Books

Welcome to the final week of our Open Forum. We've tackled some tough questions the last several weeks. It has been and honor and a pleasure for us to serve our readers this way. Please, feel free at any time to leave a question you may have in the comments or email Lynn and I directly through our "meet" pages.

This week's question is from Melonie K.:

1009935_question_con_3Since I am a newer reader and have basically just picked up where you were when I found you, do you have suggestions for books that might be available at the library on SUMs? Because I'm LDS, I'd really prefer something that isn't too denominationally focused - titles that are more "general" Christian, that focus on Scripture and personal stories, rather than a certain church's doctrine?


Dineen's Answer: Great question, Melonie. Summer seems like a good reading time so we saved your question for last. Books are an excellent way to find support, encouragement, and understanding. First, let me say that Lynn and I are firm believers in the Bible coming above all other books. You may feel you can't find what you need for your situation in God's Word, but I promise you will. Even if you start with an online Bible search like BibleGateway.com and use their keyword search feature, you will find Scriptures to bring you comfort, memorize, and pray. Be careful of reading books and looking for what you need there more than you search the Bible.

Here at SUM, we also have a  page, Absolute Best Books, with a long list of books Lynn and I are happy to recommend. You'll see several in the side bar along with a link to this page. These are books we've read ourselves or researched. Melonie, I encourage you to start there.

In addition to those listed in our library, I'd like to offer these as well:

Spiritually Single by Marcia Mitchell — this book is out of print, but I did find it on Amazon. Printed in 1984 by Bethany House, this is the first book I ever read on the subject being unequally yoked along with Beloved Unbeliever by Jo Berry. Both are excellent books.

Fasting for Spiritual Break Through by Elmer L. Towns — This book outlines nine different biblical fasts. A great too for breakthroughs.

Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas — A lot of the principles Lynn and I share here go across the board to marriage in general. This book is one of the best and it's priniciples apply to all kinds of marriages.

The Love Dare by Stephen Kendrick and Alex Kendrick — We did this study on the 1PeterLiving Loop and witnessed many marriages change for the better.

The Husband Project by Kathi Lipp — This book is like a fun and flirty version of the Love Dare. I haven't had a chance to do this one myself yet, but I know Kathi, the research she put into this book, and her heart behind the book. This is a book to have fun with.

Alone in Marriage by Susie Larson — This book is in my "plan to explore" pile. The book covers a wide range of issues such as pornography, addiction, and depression which place the woman in a lonely position in the marriage. I can't recommend it until I read it, but I put it out there as a possibility for you to explore.

Melonie, pretty much all the books listed here and above are biblically based and nondenominational. I hope this gives you a good list to take to your library, and I hope they at least have some of these books. A lot of libraries will even order them if you ask. That's worth looking into.

Happy reading! — Dineen

Lynn's Answer:  I echo Dineen, we write looking to the Word of God for our final answer and authority about marriage and life. However, I also believe there are men and women who have been inspired by the Holy Spirit to write exceptional books which help others to find healing, encouragement and joyful living through the truths of Jesus Christ.

In particular, one specific book became my lifeline in the early years of my marriage. When He Doesn't Believe by Nancy Kennedy. You can find this book in the sidebar. I was a new believer and struggling with my marriage when I discovered this book. Without this tool, I don't know where my marriage would be today. I was so thankful to discover Nancy and since then she has been so kind to be a guest contributor here at Spiritually Unequal Marriage. You can read her posts here and here.

All of the books in our recommended reading are great books. Happy reading this summer.

Now on a different note. Last month in my Women's Ministry Newsletter, I offered some fiction and nonfiction - Beach Reads. These are great books to tote along on summer vacation.

Fiction:

Sophie's Heart by: Lori Wick

The Princess by: Lori Wick

Redeeming Love by: Francine Rivers

The Mark of the Lion Series by: Francine Rivers, Book I & II - A Voice in the Wind & Echo

In The Darkness Danger in the Shadows by: Dee Henderson Negotiator by: Dee Henderson

Nonfiction:

Love and Respect by: Dr. Emerson Eggerichs

Power of a Praying Wife by: Stormie Omartian

Intimacy With The Almighty by: Charles Swindol

The Dream Giver: Following Your God-Given Destiny by:Bruce Wilkinson

The Five Love Languages by: Gary Chapman

I Dared to Call Him Father by Bilquis Sheikh (By far.... My personal favorite this year... Thanks Dee)

You can find all of these titles at Christianbook.com.

God bless and happy reading. Also, if you are interested in doing a book review for any of these titles, please email me,, Lynn. Have a blessed week and happy reading. You're in for a great time this summer. Hugs.


Are You Thriving?

To read last week’s post and pray for your marriage journey this summer, read Thriving Despite (click here).

Before we start to understand how we thrive in a spiritually unequal marriage or any marriage we need to ask a few questions first. Okay, one specific question. Why is marriage so hard? Why is it that when we marry, it isn’t happily ever after?

In the book, Thriving Despite a Difficult Marriage, the author’s describe a myriad of difficulties in a relationship. Communication, religious differences (yep, we know that one), sex, *needs in marriage, etc, but they go on to say something profound.

In the core of almost all couples they believe the difficulties in their marriages are caused by their spouse. Hmmmmm, what do you think about this?

The authors continue; If you focus on your spouse’s defects you will only become more self-righteous and miserable. OUCH! Is this statement directed at me, Lord?

I can tell you in my early years of marriage I was confused. I was disappointed and I experienced pain. And, I will not minimize that we experience pain. Pain comes with disappointment because we need to receive something from our spouse he/she cannot give. Pain because we desperately want to give something they are unable to give. So how can we move past this pain and the disappointment? What do we do with the thought that the decades loom ahead of us with little hope of change?

The author’s have penned the answer very simply: We must understand that unfulfilled desire results in disappointment. But with God’s grace, healthy desires can be embraced and the heart can be kept alive and thriving despite disappointment.

We are going to learn how to take our disappointment and desires and change them, re-craft them into a healthy future. I think this book exactly mirrors what the Lord, God, Himself, did for me over the years. He worked to tear down my unmet desires and replaced them with new, Godly, desires. He wiped away my disappointments and then lifted me to new adventures I couldn’t have dreamed up in my wildest dreams.

Do you want your wildest dreams about your marriage surpassed? Do you want to look at your spouse and actually know in your heart honest forgiveness, genuine and authentic love? It sounds impossible to many of you right now. Believe me, I’ve been there. But….. We serve the LORD, GOD, ALMIGHTY! He has brought you here because He wants you to live with joy in your heart. Love in your marriage and to thrive in this life. He wants you to get over your disappointment because He has a ton of work for you to do for the Kingdom! I promise He does and it is a blast to serve the God of the universe.

So next week, Freedom.

There is so much more about living with difficult spouses in this book. I highly recommend it to anyone struggling in marriage. Be Blessed, Lynn

062148: Thriving Despite a Difficult Marriage Thriving Despite a Difficult Marriage
By Michael Misja & Chuck Misja

 

*To learn about a man and a woman’s basic needs in marriage, please read this series of posts,His Needs, Her Needs (click here).


The Missing Link

Welcome to week three of our Open Forum. This week's question touches one of the hardest areas of a spiritually mismatched marriage.

This week's question is from Nicole:

1009935_question_con_3 "Yes you guys are great. What a much needed website! Would you guys share any feelings of guilt talking about your husbands or just with holding information. Because he is the source of much sadness for me and because he doesn't get it I feel like I can't share certain things when it relates to my faith. He lately has been teasing -"I didn't know I was marrying a nun." So I of course hold back experiences and events, but I feel almost like I'm hiding a part of me to him."


Lynn's Answer: Hi Nicole, I wish I could sit with you and give you a hug. I can tell you that your feelings and what you are experiencing is a common issue among those of us who are unequally yoked.

Withholding or choosing not to share your faith experiences with your spouse seems to go against everything we think marriage is all about. When we marry we expect to have one person with whom we feel safe to tell them our most intimate secrets. What we discover, however, is that our spouse doesn’t want to know what we are feeling with regard to faith.

I know that I would try to tell my husband about, for example, a fantastic message at church that changed my life. He would roll his eyes or make some comment – similar to the nun comment- which brought shame. It would hurt deeply to be excited about some change in my spiritual life only to have shared my feelings and then made to feel silly, weak or childish.

We deeply desire our spouse to respect us just as they want respect from us. It brings pain when they don’t respect our faith. With this said, you are not alone to want to hold back your experiences. This is okay to do but painful I realize. What we must recognize is we are experiencing faith, a spiritual experience.

~They simply don’t get it!

1 Corinthians 2:14 (NIV) The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.

I can attest to this. Over the years I have experienced some pretty amazing supernatural things. Once in a while, if the right moment arrives, I am able to share these incredible “moments” with my husband. He listens with full attention. He rarely has a comment about what I describe. I have asked him, “What do you do with all these things I tell you about?”

He will look at me and shake his head and say, “I don’t know.”

My husband literally doesn’t know how to process the spiritual realm. He is unable to understand because it is only God who reveals these things. God will reveal truth when His timing is perfect, not ours…. *bummer*

So cling to your experiences. Treasure your faith and all that happens to you just as Mary treasured all these things and pondered them in her heart. There will be a day when your husband is ready to really hear the truth. But for today when the sting of an insult lands upon you from the man you love. Arm yourself in the love of Christ. It is through the supernatural love of Jesus we are empowered to forgive and love and fight the good fight for our unbelieving spouse.

Never give up hope and never stop praying. Fix your eyes on Christ to help you through the pain. Christ never once, failed to meet me in my pain and wrap His comforting arms around me. What a relief!

Love you Nicole. Write us anytime. Thank you for sharing your heart. Lynn

Dineen's Answer: Nicole, you've hit upon the greatest source of our heartache in a SUM. I think we all have to deal with this. In fact, I wrote a post on this in 2007, To Know and Be Known, that is still one of our more popular posts. When I've looked at our stats, I'm amazed at how often this topic is searched on the web. Seeing the recurrent theme tells me this need is universal.

God created us for intimacy with him, and our relationships here on earth are a reflection of that. We naturally we desire this deep intimacy with our spouses on three levels: physically, emotionally, and spiritually. All three (kind of like the Trinity) are an integral part of marriage according to how God created it. When one part is lacking or missing, the relationship suffers.

In a SUM, the spiritual link is missing. Without this connection, we find it very difficult to share with our spouse who we are on this level. As you said it, Nicole, "because he just doesn't get it." You're exactly right. He doesn't have this ability, and for now, I'm sorry to say, that's the way it has to be until he takes the step to accept Christ. It's not that he doesn't want to understand. He just can't. (This could also account for his remark to you as a defense mechanism, because he's feeling insecure. Just a thought...)

In essence, we wind up "hiding" or withholding this aspect of ourselves out of protection and the reality that it's something we can't share effectively. That's why this blog is so vital and resources like it. And going to church or Bible study. We need to connect to other believers and share our faith experiences.

But most importantly, we need to turn this desire toward God. Be very careful, because this can make you vulnerable. When we don't find what we deeply need (or think we need) in our spouse, temptation can easily come in when we see what we want in another person, thing, or pursuit. Then we can cross the line into adultery or idolatry.

So, Nicole, you more than anyone, I wish I could give you a huge hug and tell you it's normal to feel this way. Unfortunate, but normal. This desire to share ourselves comes from a deeper desire to be known and accepted by our spouse. And just as you desire this, he does, too.

My advice is not to focus on this issue, but instead to find other ways to connect with your husband. Keeping a connection is important because you may be finding that the closer you walk with God, the wider the gap may become between you and your husband, because of this spiritual incongruity. And be sure to let your husband know that, even if he doesn't understand your faith, YOU love and accept him just as he is. This is spoken through your actions and will be your greatest testimony of Christ.

And more importantly, remember that God knows you better than anyone. He knows your needs, wants and desires because he created them. He is ultimately the one to fulfill them as well. When you feel that ache, run to Jesus, our ultimate groom. He's your best comfort during this time of spiritual loneliness.

Praying and believing,
Dineen


Thriving Despite

Your hope is that God will give you the wisdom, courage, and strength to defeat the enemy’s attempts to corrupt your heart so you can remain alive and passionate. With a thriving heart you will be able to live vibrantly and allow God to offer a powerful love through you to whomever He puts in your path, especially your spouse. The result is that God will be honored and life will be immensely fulfilling.

The description above is an excerpt from the book, Thriving Despite a Difficult Marriage. To read the first part of this series of posts go here.

The goal of this book is not to offer another strategy to get your spouse’s attention or to find the way to successfully heal your marriage. But someone who commits to thriving despite will be in the best position to have a strong marriage. A thriving person is willing to accept who the spouse really is without an agenda to change the partner. Thriving people are prepared to accept that certain things may never happen in their marriage and to grieve the loss. By accepting and grieving the loss of things that will not happen or are not possible, a person becomes free to focus on what is possible in the marriage.

So as we work through this series, I feel a tugging on my heart to go down two roads. One road is what we do when our spouse is unable, unwilling to change –this is the thriving despite model. I know there are many of you living your days in a marriage where you have done everything possible to create a change in your spouse. You have read books, been to counseling, taken courses, and prayed the roof off of your home but you have come to the conclusion things will not change. There is hope for you.

I also believe that many of our spouses can change and are willing to change under the right motivations and circumstances. I believe we need to spend some time looking at our responsibility in the relationship with regard to maturity in both our spouse and ourselves. There is hope for you.

For a few weeks I am going to dedicate posts to the first scenario. So, like the book, I have a few questions for you.

  • What if you believed in God’s love for you so deeply that you were confident you could love strongly and wisely no matter what?
  • What if you committed to finding purpose and passion for life that didn’t depend on your spouse’s response or approval?
  • What if you had the capacity to accept your spouse as he or she is and have a lifestyle of forgiveness?

If you are reading this post today, God is preparing your for a journey.

This summer, 2009, He is at work to change something. It is likely that what He is desperately working to change is a heart. Could it be the heart of your spouse? Or is it your heart?

Right now, take five minutes and talk with Jesus. Tell Him about your heart, your pain, your disappointment. Ask Him today, to prepare you for this journey in the weeks ahead to see your spouse with His eyes. Ask the Lord to take away all the confusion about your pain. Ask Him the really difficult question, Lord, let me see the truth about my marriage. Let me see where I need to do better as well as my spouse. Ask Him to make this summer the year your entire marriage, your life, is changed for the better.

I believe in a powerful, life-changing God. I believe He can do fantastic work in the hearts of men and women. I believe He is standing at our front door waiting to come in and teach us to thrive in our spiritually unequal marriage.

Be Blessed and have a fantastic week, Lynn

062148: Thriving Despite a Difficult Marriage Thriving Despite a Difficult Marriage
By Michael Misja & Chuck Misja

Marriage Monday Springtime Marriage

This Marriage Monday we are returning to Christine at Fruit In Season. Christine founded Marriage Monday years ago. I adore her and am thrilled she will be hosting for the next four months. Her topic, Seasons In Marriage, is wonderful. I often write about the season in which I find my marriage, but I feel the Lord calling me to write about springtime marriage. After all, its spring and many June weddings are around the corner.

The Noticer and a really great question.

I WON!

Yes, I won a book, The Noticer, by Andy Andrews.

It arrived in the mail Friday. (Thank you Ashlie of Mommycosm) I can’t put it down. Currently I am reading a chapter where the Noticer is speaking to high school age kids about why so many marriages end in divorce. I find the dialog and the principal truthful.

The beginning of a marriage actually starts early, dating. The Noticer likens clues for compatibility to a leaf. Yep, a leaf. Every person drops clues – a leaf about themselves. You can lean a lot about a tree from its leaf. i.e. age, height, fruit bearing….

The Noticer goes on to explain to the kids that after the physical attraction wanes you must have something to share, commonality. Ask this question. How does he/she fit in with my friends and then family? This assumes you have chosen wise friends and there is a genuine trust between you. How does your fiance relate? Do they enjoy being part of the group?

If your fiance is consistently trying to separate you from your friends, that leaf needs much discernment and prayer.

I found The Noticer makes many wise observations. A happy Springtime Marriage begins when you are companionable.

Be Blessed, Lynn

Tomorrow, Dineen and I are responding to our Open Forum Questions. The question tomorrow: Would you also give some thoughts or advice to someone who is/has been in a deep relationship with someone who is not really a believer, though not yet married to this person.

I believe this question is excellent, heartfelt and honest.

I receive emails such as this from time-to-time. I have permission to share with you one of my recent replies. This question is absolutely relevant to springtime marriage and dating. Have a fantastic Monday. See you tomorrow.

229216: The Noticer: Sometimes, All a Person Needs Is a Little Perspective The Noticer: Sometimes, All a Person Needs Is a Little Perspective
By Andy Andrews

Open Forum

SUMButton Spiritually Unequal Marriage is fast approaching the end of our third year. I bet Lynn is shaking her head in disbelief right now. I went back through the posts to see the very first one! Hee hee...May 1st.

Personally, I can't believe it's been almost two years since I joined in the "fun" here at SUM. Wow! Thank you, Lynn! This ministry has meant to world to me—to us both. To be able to offer comfort, encouragement, and hope...and to have received it as well...

Okay, okay, before I get all mushy, or you think I'm leaving or something, I have an idea. I'm proposing a bit of an open forum today. If you have a question or a subject that you want to see addressed or want to explore further, leave it in the comments. Lynn and I will pray over each one and do our best to share our wisdom, give direction, or even just offer our prayers.

Come on now, don't be shy. We want to know what you're thinking about, struggling with, worrying over, and wondering about. And being in a spiritually mismatched marriage isn't easy. This blog is here to serve, and what better way than for us to ask you, our precious readers, what you need answers about. We'll do our best, and God will do the rest.

He's really good at that, you know?

Praying and believing,
Dineen


The Social Dynamics of Uniquely Yoked!

I woke on Sunday morning with an old Hymn on my lips. Literally, I awoke singing…. He arose. He arose. Hallelujah, Christ arose…

How does that happen?

I mean it was really cool. But how on Easter morning do I wake with an old hymn in my soul? Hmmmm I don’t think I have heard that hymn for over 20 years. Aren't you facinated with how the spirit world works?

Decorative clip art2

The Donovan Clan had a busy weekend. What was interesting to me is how the social thing plays out in an unequally yoked marriage.

On Saturday we spent time with some friends from the neighborhood. Sunday afternoon we visited our new friends from our Church life group and later that day, we stopped at the home of friends from the neighborhood.

Some were believers, some were not. We had a great time but it was interesting to watch the different dynamics and how my husband and I interact with one another and the social dynamics of the crowd. 

So, this has led me to ask; How do we handle social events when we are married to an unbeliever?

This is an area which is difficult to navigate. What happens when our spouse wants to head to the bar for the afternoon and wants us to go? Is this necessarily bad? What happens when we ask our spouse to attend a “church” function in which they are not comfortable? How do we navigate this very real and challenging area of social obligation? How do we balance our need for social activity?

What are your thoughts? Share with me a situation where you had to navigate a challenging social event. What did you do?

Have a blessed week, Lynn


Marriage: Contract or Covenant?

28239619Today is the last day of The Love Dare. If you've followed us over at 1Peter3Living, then congratulations for journeying through 40 days of dares. If you've read the book, or are reading it, on your own, congrats to you too for investing in your marriage.

As I think back over the last 40 days, three points in this book stand out for me. One, love is a choice. Lately God is showing me the strength in choice. I talked about this in last week's devotional.

The second is that you must lead your heart, not let it lead you. So true. We simply need look at the world to see what happens when the heart leads. In the secular world, we tend to think the heart only capable of good and therefore a good judge, but those of us revealed in the light of God know full well how the heart can also be deceitful and selfish.

The third is that marriage is a covenant, not a contract. This goes much deeper because a contract can be broken by mutual consent, where as a covenant is meant to be unbreakable. God is our greatest example of a covenant keeper. Look at his promises to Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, and His ultimate covenant with us made through the blood of his Son.

We are called to these same standards in marriage, and God freely gives us his strength to do so. But it always seems to come back to making a choice.

What's your choice?

Praying and believing,
Dineen


Hallmark Holiday

Tomorrow is such a strange day. Valentine’s Day!

This day could make me one of the happiest women alive or shatter my life. In the early years of my marriage, I had expectations of surprise trips to some warm destination. I dreamed of three dozen roses arriving at the bank which would make all my coworkers green with envy. I wanted him to sweep me off my feet because after all I deserved it. I mean really….. After all, he was lucky enough to snag me.

Ahem….

Don’t pretend you haven't had thoughts along these lines as a young bride. Perhaps you still might.

Well, I am writing to you today for a couple of reasons. I wish when I was young and starry eyed about love, a wise woman would have come along side me to help me get a grip on reality. I may not be the wisest woman but I care so very much about your tender heart.

My first five Valentine’s Days I was lucky in that my husband remembered to buy me a card. Many of you tomorrow won’t receive anything from your spouse. However, I wanted bouquets of flowers. I was so disappointed I cried…. Alone in the closet. Okay, Jesus cried along with me.

So, as tomorrow looms, it helps to share a heads-up. Our husband’s might disappoint us. Remember, our expectations of our men can be very selfish and our men often feel that no matter what they do, they can never make us happy. (Yikes, is anyone feeling convicted here?)

I can hear some of you saying right now…. But, why shouldn’t I expect some token of love on this day we celebrate romantic love? Well, honestly, I believe you should. However, it doesn’t always happen.

Let me share how our Valentine’s Day changed over the years. After five years of a card when “I wanted more,” I took matters into my own hands.

I began to plan Valentine’s Day and didn’t wait for my man to make dinner reservations. I made reservations or planned a candle light dinner at home. If I wanted a bouquet of flowers, I bought them. I bought lingerie then wrapped it up to give to him with a promise to model it.

I’m not sure when it started to happen but flowers began to arrive at the house around Valentine’s Day in the strangest way. I remember opening up the front door one year to a smiling FedEx driver. The driver looked at me wearing a great big smile and holding a large thin box. She said, “Mrs. Donovan, this is one of my favorite deliveries to make.” The box was filled with live fresh flowers. They were pink and beautiful and …… guess what…

I cried.

But not in the closet.

God can change any man but I bet He is gonna change you first. Don’t wait this V-day. Plan something now and make tomorrow a great day.

PS. Last week I knew my husband was planning to send me flowers for Valentine’s Day in spite of the fact that we are unemployed and can’t afford it. I looked at him one afternoon last week and said, “Honey, please don’t send me flowers. Really, I mean it. I appreciate knowing that you are willing even if we don’t have the money. I don’t need them this year.”

Go figure. Never thought I would say that in a million years…. But, I did.

Have a wonderful day and don’t forget that Jesus is really the only one who can fill the hole in our hearts. Happy Valentine’s Day and may the Lord send you several tiny love notes this weekend.

Be Blessed, Lynn


I Can't Believe I sent this to a Radio Station.

It is strange but I find myself listening to a Christian Radio Station that is located in Texas. I found this station through ITunes and have enjoyed the music and positive message. I listen while I write and blog.

Well today the station asked their listeners to submit a fun and creative relationship-building tool.

HeartValentine’s Day is Saturday and I thought this is a perfect idea for us to share here as well. So, share with me a creative relationship-building tool you have proven in your own marriage. Then log-on to the station KLOVE and submit it there as well.

If they select your suggestion you can win A DVD copy of the movie Fireproof and a copy of The Love Dare book. Since we are starting our Love Dare today at 1Peter3Living, I thought I would enter.

Why not?

I have posted this suggestion at Spiritually Unequal Marriage because it works..... and is perfect for this week heading towards Valentine’s Day. Your V-day could turn out to be very, uhem, un-boring.

Okay here it is…. Gasp!

After 17 years of marriage, I knew it was possible our relationship could languish into boredom and routine. My husband would leave for work and never think about me the rest of the day. Gone were the days when he couldn’t wait to get home to see me.

One day I decided I wanted him to think about me all day. I zinged off a quick email to his Blackberry, "Honey, what color are my panties?"

Shocking?

Perhaps but it worked. He couldn’t stop thinking about me ALL DAY LONG. *grin*

Fun, spice, and Christ are the reasons we are thriving in our 17 years of marriage.

Okay gang.... Let's hear your tip. You are some of the wittiest and wisest people I know. I am sure there are some good ones. Don't be shy. All of us can use a tip to make our marriage better. Be Blessed, Lynn


Weekend Devotion—Resolving Conflict (Part 2)

Welcome to week two of a three part series from Purpose Driven Life, Daily Devotional about resolving conflicts with your spouse. Have a blessed weekend and enjoy your spouse!
Praying and believing,
Dineen

Top

How to Resolve Conflict with Your Spouse (Part 2)
by Rick Warren

If you’re going to pull together when you’re pulled apart, you have to:

Convene a peace conference. Conflict does not resolve itself. It must be dealt with intentionally. Conflict gets worse when you leave it alone. Jesus says don’t ignore it. Deal with the issue while you can. If you’ve got something wrong with somebody or they’ve got something wrong with you, God says you go to them.

When? At once. Postponed conflict only gets worse. Another verse in the Bible says, “Don’t let the sun go down on your anger” (Ephesians 4:26 HCSB). I think that means 24 hours would be the maximum amount of time you should let something go unresolved. You need to settle it as soon as possible, before it festers and turns into bitterness.

Consider my mate’s perspective. I can’t just look at my own viewpoint, my own situation; I have to look at your viewpoint too. This is very difficult because it’s not natural. It requires an intentional shift where I have to change my focus from looking at my needs to looking at your needs. It takes God to do that.

When you understand where people are coming from, it’s so much easier. The better you understand your mate, the less conflict you’re likely to have with him or her.

How do you learn to understand your spouse? Listen. Listen more than you talk. This again is not easy for many of us. It’s not easy for me. Some of us get so anxious to make our point, to tell our side, to defend ourselves that we don’t even stop to listen to the other person’s point of view or what they are saying.

You are most like Christ when you ask, “What are her/his needs and how can I meet them?” When you’re angry, you’re preoccupied with yourself. But when you’re like Christ, you look to each other’s interests and not merely your own. One of the most powerful peacemaking statements you can say to your husband/wife is, “I’m sorry. I was only thinking of myself.”

© 2008 Purpose Driven Life. All rights reserved.


Weekend Devotion - Resolving Conflict

For the next three weekends, Lynn and I would like to share a series provided by Purpose Driven Life, Daily Devotional about resolving conflicts with your spouse. Have a blessed weekend and enjoy your spouse!
Praying and believing,
Dineen

Top

How to Resolve Conflict with Your Spouse (Part 1)
by Rick Warren


You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. James 4:2 (NIV)

Sometimes the biggest conflicts in marriage are over the most trivial issues. One of the silliest fights Kay and I ever had was over bath soap.

If you’re going to pull together when you’re pulled apart, you have to:

Call on God for help. Pray about it. Before you go to your spouse about the problem, discuss it with God. This may solve the problem right there. Practice what I call “ventilating vertically.” Many of you are very good at ventilating horizontally, but ventilating vertically is when you come to God and say, “Here’s how I feel,” and you just lay it out.

James 4:2 teaches, “You quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God” (NIV). Conflict often occurs when we expect other people to meet needs that only God himself can meet in our lives.

Confess your part of the conflict. Before I start attacking and blaming, I need to do a frank evaluation and ask, “How much of this conflict is my fault? I need to do an honest checkup and admit my part. When you’re wrong, admit it. And when you’re right, shut up!

Be honest. Matthew 7:3-5, Jesus said, “Why do you look at the speck in another’s eye and pay no attention to the log in your own eye? … First take the log out of your own eye, and then you will be able to see clearly” (GNT).

I need to ask, “Am I being unrealistic? Am I being insensitive? Am I being overly sensitive? Am I being too demanding? Am I being ungrateful?”

Tomorrow we’ll look at two more steps to resolving conflict with your spouse.

© 2008 Purpose Driven Life. All rights reserved.


A Death In The Family

This week I received an email from a very close friend. She has been a reader here at Spiritually Unequal Marriage for some time now. I have grown to love her and her family deeply. This week my sister in the Lord wrote me to tell me of a death in her family.

Reeling in the aftermath of this death is a woman bereft of hope. Her dreams of living a life of contentment, fulfillment, and joy are crushed.

This woman is not alone. Every one of us who lives unequally yoked is likely to experience this life-altering death.

You see, she arrived at a place where reality kills your expectations. We arrive in this grief when we face the naked truth that our spouse is not turning to Jesus as we expected.

Our dreams of attending church together are smashed. Our heart-hopes to serve God united at a team are victim of a spiritual deepfreeze. The utter reality that we may wait decades before our spouse is saved knocks the breath from our lives.

We grieve. We shed bitter tears and find our will to remain committed to the devoid decades ahead wavering. We are angry…. at our spouse…. at our circumstances….at the ourselves…. at God.

I lived through this valley and I can promise you it felt like someone died. My dreams of discussing scripture, sharing devotions, leading a Sunday school class, building homes in Mexico….. so, so many fantasies were striped away in a moment of realization.

Why am I sharing this very sad time with you? Because most of us living in hope for our spouse’s salvation don’t expect to find ourselves at this desolate place. Ever. Sooner or later it is likely.

But...... (you knew this was coming)

But, if I can rise out of this abyss with my trampled heart, so can you. I spent significant time wrapped in the arms of Christ in the beginning. Now think about this. Isn’t this where Jesus wanted me all along? Isn’t my relationship with Him more important than teaching Sunday school and building homes in Mexico? Don’t you think the Lord knew what I really needed?

What the Lord did surgically to rebuild my heart is more significant than my old dreams. He led me to pray differently for my husband. He also gave me permission to serve God’s Kingdom without my husband by my side. He showed me how my dreams were meager trinkets compared to the fantastic, fun, and overwhelmingly fulfilling life He now has given to little ole’ me.

Today I want you to know two things that every unequally yoked spouse needs to know.

  • You will arrive at this place of grief. God will take your there on purpose.
  • He will recraft your broken heart and give you a new dream reality, bigger and better than you thought possible.

    Also, I want to give you permission, if you need it: Don’t wait for your spouse to serve the Kingdom. Years ago I heard Patsy Clairmont say these very words at a Women of Faith Event. This was the permission I needed to begin to serve in a Bible study.

    I leave this with you today:

    James 1:4
    Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

    He really loves us. So much so, He will not leave us unchanged. Be Blessed, Lynn


  • The Judgment of Others

    900907_dilemaI spoke with a friend at church Sunday who is also unequally yoked, and she brought up an issue I think we all run into at one point or another. As unequally yoked spouses, what can we do to cross the faith barrier to connect with our unbelieving spouses? And in so doing, how do we handle the judgments we sometimes receive from other believers.

    We’ve talked in the past about how our actions speak louder than words. Sometimes the actions God call us to can look questionable in the eyes of others. I’ve recently joined my husband in playing an online video game that some would consider the “wrong influence.” Is it my first choice of activities? No, but it’s something my husband enjoys and joining him sends the message that I want to spend time with him, and I’m willing to do it on his terms (without sinning, of course) to show my love and acceptance of him.

    I knew going into this that other Christians I know would not approve, but I moved this direction out of obedience. This was something God put on my heart to do. Let me cover some key points here:

    1. God gave me the freedom to do this in order to connect to my husband. Had I not had this clarity and reassurance, I would not have gone this direction. I made sure God approved first.

    2. This isn’t something addictive in my husband’s life, nor potentially addictive to me. Therefore, I wasn’t sinning against God. I believe things like this, whether they are a sin for an individual, must also be determined on an individual basis. What may be a sin for me isn’t a sin for you. And vice versa. For example, I know I struggle with the sin of gluttony, so for me to overindulge in an oversized piece of cheesecake is a sin. For you, this may be a rare treat that you’ve chosen to enjoy, but you could get up and walk away at any time. The point here is, the motivation and whether that force holds you in bondage.

    3. Sometimes what we know is the right course of action may displease others. As Paul says, we can’t please others and still please God. Our job/joy is to be obedient to God, not the whims and opinions of others who may or may not understand our situations.

    Sometimes these situations can bring unfair judgments upon us by other Christians. I ran into this when I didn’t force my teenagers to go to church. For a believing couple who is united in going to church, this works for them. They’re modeling the importance of church in the lives of a believer. But in an unequally yoked marriage, this sends an entirely different message to the unbeliever. The dynamics are completely different.

    In this situation I had to completely trust God to move in my daughters’ lives and be the best Godly influence to them on a daily basis. Not only did I honor God in this but I also honored an agreement I’d made with my husband years back. When our girls were small, he agreed to let me take the girls to church if I agreed that in the end, our girls would make their own choice.

    Did God come through? You bet he did! My oldest daughter attends her own church and even told her dad recently that she couldn’t miss church Sunday because she’d missed the Sunday before. What a testimony she had that day! And my youngest daughter is very strong in her belief in God and Jesus, and even witnesses to her online friends about God’s love. So you see, sometimes we will receive judgment, but we must remain true to God in our obedience. I promise you, God won’t let you down.

    “There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbor?” — James 4:12(NIV)

    Let me close with one final thought. When we are in a situation where a fellow Christian wrongly judges us, be very careful not to fall under the same sin. We can easily judge them for their offense and then we are just as guilty.

    This takes us back to point three, that we are to please God, not others. We can leave the judgment of others to God for correction, and believe me, he will see and handle it. Trust him to do so, and move forward in obedience to him.

    Amazingly, God will use our active obedience to not only witness to our spouses, but to inspire and encourage those on the sidelines watching as well.

    Going forth boldly!
    Dineen

    Photo by Zoran Ozetsky

    http://www.dezignia.com


    Fantasy Football and God

    Say What?

    Many of you who have been readers at Spiritually Unequal Marriage for some time know I hear from God while in the bathroom. Many times I am buck nakid’ in the shower and sometimes I am in the closet getting dressed. Today I was blow-drying my hair…. Guess what the Lord prompted me to do?

    Join a Fantasy Football Team. Nfl

    I can tell you NEVER in a million years did this idea come from my own thoughts. It was God.

    WHAT A HOOT!

    Why, you ask?

    My husband has been part of a neighborhood team for several years. He has a blast goofing around with his fantasy team and braggin’ about his wins to the neighbors. Side Note: Poor guy incurs more losses than wins but has a ton of fun anyway.

    This is recreational fun. It fulfills a great need in my husband and I want to share in the experience. In 2007 I reviewed the book, His Needs, Her Needs by Willard F. Harley, Jr. This book covers the five most important needs of a man in marriage and a woman in marriage. Recreational Companionship is an important need for a man. Click here to read this series.

    When I walked into my husband’s home office and told him I wanted to participate, he got the funniest grin on his face. He said, “Okay, but do you understand you have to draft a team?”

    I like football. However, I barely understand the rules and usually only watch it on television when my beloved Denver Bronocs are playing. So taking on a fantasy team is a big commitment. But, oh so worth it.Denver_broncos_logo

    My husband is trilled!

    He grinned and said, “I will call the Commissioner and see if we can get you in.”

    Then my husband got worried. A) I have God on my side. B) I have another secret weapon. My son. When it comes to sports, he is the best read, knowledgeable man I know. Hee hee.

    Woo Hoo! There will be a blonde winner at the end of this season!!!

    I can’t wait to share the camaraderie with my husband and our neighbors, guys and gals are in this league.

    Now help me with two things.

    1) I need a team name.

    2) Purposely look for a new way to enjoy recreational companionship with your spouse this fall. Write me and tell me what it is.

    Go Bronocs!!! Be Blessed, Lynn

    PS. Boo, Raiders!


    Showing Christ

    994404_love_letterIf I could tell my husband one thing today, I would tell him I love him.

    If I could speak special words to him today, I would speak of my love for him.

    If I could show him who I love most, I would show him Christ.


    How do we show Christ? How do we convey with actions what we’d like to say with words? How can we show Christ and not just speak of him?

    For the unequally yoked, this is our greatest challenge, isn’t it? More often than not, it’s our actions that speak of our faith more effectively than our words. I came across these Scriptures today in 2 Corinthians 3:2-3:

    You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everybody. You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.

    I love the imagery Paul uses here. He speaks of showing ourselves as a message from Christ so undeniable that we leave a permanent impression on the hearts of those we meet. Or love.

    That’s a tall order to fulfill by far, but Paul makes another point clear here. It is not by our efforts that we do this. If it were, we would be the ones taking credit for another’s Salvation. Even to the point of saying we, our own efforts, had saved them.

    No, Paul refers directly to the Spirit of the living God. The Holy Spirit is the ink, the markings, the unforgettable and undeniable presence of God, made visible with his Son through us. We are simply the parchment, a willing and ready surface for the Holy Spirit to make his mark.

    I find such comfort and inspiration in that. Comfort in the sense that it isn’t up to us to know what to say or how to say it. God has equipped us with his Holy Spirit to do that for us. We need only listen and obey. To be willing vessels for God to use in reaching our unbelieving loved ones.

    And inspiring to know that God can use us in such a noble fashion. He doesn’t need to, He chooses to. He could do this all on his own, but He’s selected us to be those letters of Christ to our unbelieving spouses right here and now.

    So I ask, what is your message to your unbelieving spouse? What words can you show through your actions today? Are you willing to let the Holy Spirit make his mark on you for the benefit of your unbelieving loved one?

    Precious Father, use us as your parchment. Make us love letters to our unbelieving spouses. Show us how to show You, Jesus. Lord, help us to be willing instruments, in the image of Jesus, to bring your message of love and grace to the world. Jesus, you are the ultimate love letter and we are so grateful for You. In your Holy and Precious Name we pray, amen.

    Praying and believing,
    Dineen


    Marriage Monday — It's back!

    1st Monday Every Month at Chrysalis

    Marriage Monday is back!
    This week is an open topic and since Lynn is on vacation, this little mousey (Dineen) gets to play!
    So I've chosen a topic I'm betting you can relate to.

    We Have a Failure to Communicate

    839305_angerHave you ever had a conversation with your spouse that turned into an argument? (I know, stupid question. Maybe I should ask who hasn’t.)

    I will confess, the one thing I have bragged about my marriage in the past is our ability to communicate. We’ve always been talkers, sharers, and pretty good listeners. But for the first time in our twenty years of marriage, I’m noticing a new pattern.

    Miscommunication.

    Now, as a woman, I will say I’ve had times where I thought I’d made my meaning clear, then realized after the fact that my dear husband heard a different thing. I’ve learned the hard way that the poor guy can’t read my mind.

    But this is different. The tables have turned. Several times of late he’s communicated something, which I then responded to. To my utter surprise, he’s come back, frustrated that I’ve not understood his meaning. Then he proceeds to say what he meant.

    Truly, I’m standing there with my mouth hanging open, wondering on earth how he thought I could have figured that out. Really, honest, and for true!

    Friends, God really does have a sense of humor. I believe God is using this to show me how easily our words can be misinterpreted and how important it is to say what we mean. And exactly what we mean. Because if this is how I’ve bewildered my poor hubby over the years, then I’m determined not do that to him again!

    Communication is important in a marriage. Good communication is vital. Choosing our words intentionally and thoughtfully could mean the difference between a conversation and an argument.

    And God has give one particular juicy tidbit to guide us in our communication.

    Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. — Ephesians 4:15

    God calls us to apply love to all aspects of our lives, including our speech. And in doing so, how wonderful to know we bring ourselves closer to Christ.

    Praying and believing,
    Dineen


    For more Marriage Monday, visit Chrysalis.


    More about John...

    591856_modern_stained_glassThe next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, "Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is the one I meant when I said, 'A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.' I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel." John 1:29-31 (NIV)

    The next day John was there again with two of his disciples. When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, "Look, the Lamb of God!"

    When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus. Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, "What do you want?"

    They said, "Rabbi" (which means Teacher), "where are you staying?"

    "Come," he replied, "and you will see."

    So they went and saw where he was staying, and spent that day with him. It was about the tenth hour.

    Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, was one of the two who heard what John had said and who had followed Jesus. The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, "We have found the Messiah" (that is, the Christ). And he brought him to Jesus.

    Jesus looked at him and said, "You are Simon son of John. You will be called Cephas" (which, when translated, is Peter). — John 1:35-42 (NIV)

    Several of you let me know that Sunday’s post really challenged you. I think that’s what God had in mind, because like you, it truly challenged me. Yet I find John is still walking around in my head, as if his story still needs to be told. Or perhaps the writer in me is just trying to understand a character not well defined in the Bible.

    What struck me from the above verses was how the two disciples following John left him and followed Jesus. One of whom was Peter, the one who Jesus planned to build his church upon. Again the picture shows John’s mission of preparing things for Jesus. He enlisted these two men for the Messiah’s cause and then released them to the Lord he’d faithfully served.

    But did he wonder? Did he watch these two men go with Jesus and long to go with them? Did he wonder why he wasn’t destined to be one of the twelve—a confidant and friend to the long awaited One?

    After all, he’d spent his whole life preparing for this time, didn’t he? At least as far as what we’re told in the Bible, his life course was set from the womb. And as we know from God’s Word in Psalm 139, even before that.

    We could argue that John didn’t wish or long to be a part of this select group, because his calling was as necessary as the disciples. He had his place, his roll to play in a most important story. But I can’t help thinking that some small and very human part of him wanted to be included, to be like the rest. To fit into this elite crowd, instead of walking a seemingly lonely path to his death.

    How often have we found ourselves in this very same position? Wishing we were some place else. Comparing our position with others and longing for the same circumstances. Watching couples at church, and aching to know, even just for a moment, what it feels like to have your spouse at your side, worshipping the one true God. Longing to know what it’s like to pray with your spouse over the issues you’re both facing together. Desperate for your children to see you both united by a common faith.

    Maybe John did feel left out at times and maybe he did wish he could be one of the disciples instead of missing all the action with Jesus while he sat in a prison. But he must have overcome these feelings and doubts, because even when it meant risking everything, he did what he’d been sent to do. He spoke the truth and stayed his course.

    The path of the unequally yoked is one of the hardest I’ve ever had to walk and am still walking. It’s easy to get lost in wishes, wonderments and longings, and miss the big picture. John may not have had the glory of the twelve, but he proved himself faithful and never wavered in his service. He may have had doubts, but he didn’t run away or give up.

    Perhaps his resolve and strength came from having the Holy Spirit. John wasn’t set on his mission and left to flounder, just as we aren’t either. Jesus sent reassurance to John, letting him know his cause was just and complete. And he praised John for what he’d done.

    And in those glimpses I catch the reality of John. He didn’t come to serve men but to serve Christ. In the end, it didn’t matter how he fit in or what he did or didn’t have. He fulfilled his calling to prepare the way for Jesus. As simple as that.

    John kept his eyes on Jesus. He knew it wasn’t about him but about the mighty God he served. And that’s where I find inspiration. John’s story wasn’t about him, it was about Jesus.

    And preparing the way.

    Praying, believing, and preparing…
    Dineen


    Contentment

    813780_thumbs_upHave you ever had one of those weeks where you notice a common theme? The subject of a devotional, an email that comes over your favorite prayer loop, Sunday’s sermon, this weeks subject at your small group Bible study…

    Those are the times I pay close attention, because I know God has something teach or show me. This has happened over the last week and the subject has been about contentment.

    Paul touches on this subject very clearly in Philippians 4:11-13:

    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. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.

    At first glance, it’s easy to assign material needs to these verses, and you would be correct. But Paul addresses a deeper level in the latter part of verse 12—“being content in any and every situation.”

    On daily basis, we struggle with this issue in our unequally yoked marriages. How do we find contentment in the midst of conflict? How do we reach the point of saying like Paul did, “I am content in my situation?”

    First, there’s one fallacy in the questions I posed above. If you’ll notice my emphasis is on “we.” Yet if you look at verse 13, Paul gives us the answer to those “how” questions.

    We are not capable of finding this contentment alone. Paul gives all the credit to Jesus, totally and completely. He recognized his own limitations and believed completely in Christ to make up for what he lacked. And more.

    But the true, underlying theme here goes even deeper than contentment and is true in any situation, no matter what it may be. And I can say this with certainty. Keeping our eyes on God is the key—to contentment, to peace, to hope, to perseverance.

    He’s our one and only answer to everything we need. And more.

    Praying and believing,
    Dineen


    Does Hair Matter in Marriage?

    One thing I love about our 1Peter3Living group is our willingness to tackle sensitive issues in marriage. Today we are discussing a touchy subject to be sure. I thought I would share it here at Spiritually Unequal Marriage. Does the length of a woman’s hair matter in marriage?

    Believe it or not, like it or not, fair or not, the issue of hair length matters, A LOT! I think what we need to clarify is that the length of hair is not so much a spiritual issue but a gender issue.

    Women consider hair their personal property. After all, we are adults and should be able to choose the style we wish to wear. Makes sense to me.

    So why does it matter to a man the length his wive's hair? What we need to remember is God created men visual. One of the five most important needs of a man is an attractive spouse. This is not my opinion but the opinion of renowned Christian clinical psychologist, Dr. Willard F. Harley, Jr. Also, the psychologist I work with at Spiritually Unequal Marriage, Rebecca Saville.

    Here is an excerpt from Dr. Harley’s book: Dr. Harley points out the woman was once attractive but has become lazy. After the marriage vows, she lets herself go. With this said, Dr. Harley simply states: a woman should take pains to look something like the woman her husband married. When a man’s wife looks good, he feels good.

    Now I don’t want to hurt any feelings. The length of hair may not matter to many husbands but often it does.

    Is it fair that men have this need or desire? Perhaps not but it is the way God created men. Is it fair that women have the need to speak 5,000 words a day minimum and our men must listen, perhaps not? It is what it is. If this need is real in your husband, why not give him the gift of longer hair?

    When I realized the five basic needs of my husband and began to meet them, he began to meet some of my needs. It is a miracle.

    Last summer I reviewed Dr. Harley’s book, His Needs, Her Needs. You can read about the five needs of men and women here (click). Or, please read this book, His Needs, Her Needs. It will help you understand the gender differences and the needs of your spouse. It also helped me understand myself better.

    Have a blessed day. Merry CHRISTmas. Lynn