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My head was whirling and drawing in oxygen was growing more difficult with each breath. Did what I just witness actually happen or am I trapped in someone else’s nightmare? How did I end up here sitting on this bus stop bench in Tucson, Arizona next to a complete stranger who is also somehow my husband?

A few minutes ago, a taxi cab pulled up in front of us and a beautiful brunette stepped out wearing a form-fitting business blazer, pencil skirt, and black high heels. I will never forget how she briskly came clickety-clacking up to us in a tizzy. “Excuse me,” she gushed. “I just moved here from Connecticut three days ago and I’m in dire need of some crack rock. Do you know where I might be able to find a dealer?”

I was torn between being excited that I have just met a fellow who is also from Connecticut and feeling pity for this woman who is so addicted to illegal drugs that she risked admitting her sin to the lot of us bus-riding folk, any one of whom could have been an undercover police officer ready to arrest her for the confession. But of course we are simply good citizens who just want to get to work and certainly don’t know anything about…

“Just a moment,” the man who looked exactly like my husband replied. He whipped out a pocket-sized notebook and pen and began jotting down a name and number from memory. He swiftly ripped the piece of paper from the pad and handed it to the well-dressed woman who clutched it to her breast like she had just won the lottery. With tears welling in her eyes, she profusely thanked the man who I thought was my husband only a moment ago. “No problem!” He called out as if he were a knight in shining armor who just saved the day. She stepped back into the taxi and drove off.

Everything was spinning. My own husband, who used to teach Wednesday night Bible study at my church back in Connecticut only two years ago, knows a crack rock dealer’s phone number by heart. Is this real life? Certainly I have wandered onto the set of the wrong movie because I didn’t know my lines or even my part. Wait a minute, who am I?

Now let me see, I know my name is Dannielle and I come from a small conservative farming town in Connecticut where the neighbors are your friends and you can leave your bicycle out in your yard without worrying that someone might steal it. I was raised since infancy in an evangelical Christian church where we were so close I called people Mimi and Uncle who were not my Mimi and Uncle. I was the girl who was saving my first kiss for marriage. I was the girl who, at six years old, knew who would be my bridesmaids and what color they were going to wear as I waltzed down the aisle holding a bouquet of fragrant stargazer lilies which represent purity. I know who I am, but who is my groom? This man, who now appears much thinner to me, is not the man I married.

The man I married wouldn’t have stopped going to church right after the honeymoon. The man I married wouldn’t have hit me six months after the wedding in the truck on the way to Ohio. The man I married wouldn’t have continued hitting me or sat me down and told me he no longer believed in the Bible or Jesus. The man I married wouldn’t have stayed out late at night lying about where he was and who he was with and what he was doing. Things started making sense in my mind as I pieced together the puzzle. The man I married wouldn’t have told me he’s moving to Arizona with or without me… but yet he did. I only followed him here because I was desperately trying to save my marriage. I was in denial about who I married and I was just now seeing clearly.

You see, I come from a community where divorce is not a word in our vocabulary. Divorce was what other people did, not us. When things are broken, you fix them. You don’t throw them away. I had been trying to “fix” my husband for four years and I was just now realizing that it’s impossible to fix people. My loving pastor, in his limited human wisdom, gave me the best biblical advice he knew how at the time: He gave me 1 Peter 3:1 which tells the wife of a husband who is disobedient to God’s Word to win him over without a word by her chaste behavior. I clung to that verse like a life preserver in the middle of a stormy ocean. It was that verse that kept me going when my husband choked me, threw me down the stairs, and even when one night he put a knife to my throat. I knew I could endure the suffering because one day it would all be worth it when I won my husband back to Christ and we both lived happily ever after and rode off into the sunset on white stallions. It was also the verse that allowed me to forgive my husband when he told me he no longer believed I was his soul mate and I found out he had been at another woman’s apartment at 2 am.

I don’t tell you these things to hurt my ex-husband in any way. I wish no ill upon him. I still deeply love him as a human being and I still pray for him. I tell you these things because it’s my story, too, and I have a right to tell it. Yes, he is my ex-husband now because shortly after that day when I discovered he was doing drugs he packed up his belongings and he drove away from me. I had begged him to stay. I had pleaded with him that we could work things out. He could go to drug rehab. We could get marriage counseling. But he didn’t want to fix anything, he just wanted to continue doing drugs without my nagging for him to stop.

That was seven years ago. It feels simultaneously like a lifetime ago, but also like it was just yesterday. I was willing to reconcile with him and I wish a reconciliation were the end of my story, but it’s not. For reconciliation to happen, both people have to be willing to make sacrifices. My husband called about three months after he left and said he’d be willing to reconcile if I would give up the Bible. I really wish I were making this up, but sometimes the truth is stranger than fiction. “You’re brainwashed by the church,” he told me. “If you burn your Bible, then I will know you really love me.” It sounds so ridiculous, like a line from a cheesy Christian movie they threw out because no one would believe anyone would actually say it. I told him that while I loved him and wanted to reconcile, I loved God more and I would not be burning my Bible. If he wanted to reconcile with me, he would have to repent of his sins and walk with Jesus Christ again as I believe he once had. Again, I really wish I were making this up, but one time when my dad was organizing some boxes my ex-husband left in my parents’ basement, he found a dark book among his belongings about mind control and manipulation techniques. It could very well be that he was just a wolf in sheep’s clothing the whole time.

For many years, my identity was wrapped around being a wife. So much of my purpose in life was centered on supporting my husband, helping him get better, and “winning him over without a word.” When he left me, I didn’t know what to do with myself or even who I was anymore. I blamed myself for not loving him good enough to win him over to Christ. But you know what? I am not defined by what happened to me and his choices were not my fault. I am a beloved daughter of the one true God, created for good works that He prepared beforehand. Even if my husband changed into a man I didn’t recognize, I still serve a God who never changes and who is always faithful to provide a way of escape. Not a sparrow falls from the sky without His knowing it.

The only time the heroine wins the monster over is in fairy tales like Beauty and the Beast. I learned that I can’t change someone else’s behavior, but I can change how I respond. The blood of Jesus Christ alone has the transforming power to replace hearts of stone with hearts of flesh.

Idols of the Heart

Golden Calf
The story of the Golden Calf is found in Exodus 32:1–6.

Recently, I re-read the story in the Bible when the children of Israel, after having seen the astounding power of God through several miraculous signs and miracles, fashion a golden calf and bow down and worship it. WHY?! Why, after seeing with their own eyes how God delivered them from the ten plagues (which only affected the Egyptians) and then experiencing the marvelous wonder that was the parting of the Red Sea, walking across dry land, and watching Pharaoh’s army drown beneath the waves? How could they turn their back on God and turn to a god of their own making?

Moses was up on Mount Sinai receiving the Ten Commandments, written by the finger of God. He was gone for 40 days. Meanwhile, the Israelites were lowkey freaking out because they thought that Moses had deserted them or maybe even died. They hadn’t seen the power of God in a while and maybe they thought God had left them, too. They began to worry what would happen to them without Moses leading them so in their anxiousness, they made a god they could see. That was comfortable for them and familiar to them since they were accustomed to having visual representations of gods when they were in bondage in Egypt for the last 200 years.

Idols of the Heart

We may not physically worship a golden idol in 2020, but how many of us have lost trust in God’s provision and committed the sin of worry just like the Israelites did? Right now, everyone is totally freaking out that they will starve to death or have nothing to wipe their bums because neither toilet paper, napkins, diaper wipes, nor tissues can be found in any store near or far. #CoronaVirus

There is another story in the Bible about a beautiful, elegant woman who gained favor wherever she went due to her extravagant beauty. Her beauty was her power and a man named Jacob fell in love with her at first sight.

Rachel Hides the Idols

The story of Rachel stealing the idols can be found in Genesis 31.

One day, Jacob told Rachel that they were leaving to a far off place. Rachel began to worry about what that might mean. She was moving away from where she grew up, leaving behind her family and everything she knew. She began to panic. What did she do? She went through a lot of trouble to secretly steal her father’s household idols. Then she lied about it and hid them. What does this reveal about Rachel’s heart? She didn’t trust Yahweh to protect and provide for her away from home. She felt she needed the comfort that her father’s idols brought.

Rachel longed with all her being to be a mother. Back then, women did not have much use except to give birth to sons. Rachel had been used to being the favorite her entire life, but now she saw that her sister Leah was gaining all the favor. She said to Jacob, “GIVE ME CHILDREN OR ELSE I’LL DIE!” (As if Jacob were the one in control of her womb.) Jacob’s response was, “What, am I God?” He knew that it was God and only God who opens and closes the womb. Rachel began to feel worthless and her barrenness was an ugliness she could not bear. She sank into deep depression and allowed her desire for motherhood to twist her thinking. She complained and pouted and felt, “Woah is me, it’s not fair.” But even in the midst of her unbelief, God graciously opened Rachel’s womb and gave her a son. Was Rachel thankful?

She named her son Joseph which means “May Jehovah increase.” She wanted MORE. She wasn’t satisfied. Isn’t that the root of idolatry? We aren’t content with what we have. We always want MORE MORE MORE. Rachel thought that having children would bring her the joy she so desperately craved, but once God ended her infertility, she still wasn’t happy.

What Rachel thought would bring her blessing and favor eventually ended up bringing her death. She did end up having another son, but she died in the process of childbirth. Right before she gave up she spirit, she named her son Benoni which means “Son of my Sorrow.” (Jacob ended up changing his name to Benjamin meaning “Son of my Right Hand.”)

rachelbirth

What idols are lurking in the dark corners of my heart? An idol is anything that my heart longs for in order to make my life seem meaningful and happy. An idol is anything I desire other than God that allows me to seem like I am doing alright and everything is going to be okay. An idol is anything I trust in outside of God to give me what I need. An idol is anything that I am willing to sin in order to obtain or anything I do as an act of pouting because I can’t have my way or anything that I seek to bring me which only God can supply. An idol is anything that absorbs my affections and imaginations more than God. An idol is anything I invest my identity in.  For Rachel, her identity was in having children, and she ultimately died for want of it.

“A counterfeit god is anything so central and essential to your life that, should you lose it, your life would feel hardly worth living.”

-Tim Keller

How often I find myself utterly frustrated because I haven’t found a job in months. I have experienced rejection after rejection and it’s so easy to apply those rejections to my self-worth and feel less than. I have believed that if I just keep working hard enough, applying to as many positions as I can, then eventually I will reap the benefits of my hard work and finally gain employment. That has not been the case. If I’m operating out of fear or believing that I have the power to manipulate outcomes, then I am not trusting in God alone to provide for my needs. I am making having a job an idol in my heart.

Another idol in my heart is the intense yearning to be a wife and mother. I know that this is supposed to be my sabbatical year, but I have often caught myself saying something like, “If I am never to be married, I hope that I die young, because this cruel life will be too much to bear without someone to love.” It’s all I’ve ever really wanted anyway. I never dreamed of a fancy career, that was always my sister, not me. I just wanted to be a stay-at-home mama and homeschool my kids. I have even turned down perfectly nice gentlemen because they didn’t want a wife who homeschooled.

How can I stop worrying that I’ll never get married? The scarcity of single Christian men is sometimes all I can think about. Worry is TOXIC. It just keeps you busy doing absolutely NOTHING. It blinds us to what God has done for us and how He is working and what He will do in the future… all because we are focusing on our problem and how we are going to solve it. Self-sufficiency disables trust. The Bible says to focus our thoughts above and to seek Him first. Whenever we dwell on a thought, the more we focus on it, and the more it takes over real estate in our brain. We have to replace negative thoughts with truth. Essentially, whatever I am worrying about today is an idol that I must tear down and confess.

Father God, expose the idols in my life that are lying to me and telling me what I need to feel secure and fulfilled. I renounce all covetousness and envy of what other people have. Cut down any idols in my life. Help me not to give my fears and concerns permission to discourage me. You are the Sovereign Lord in control of all things and you have given me every tool to fight against that which tries to steal my peace. I lay down all my burdens at Your feet and I ask You Lord to give me sweet rest. Forgive me for trying to handle things on my own and help me to see my life through Your perspective, not my own. Enable me to be content with the way things are… but I also pray You grant me the desires of my heart. I ask that you conform my desires to what You want for me in this moment. Help me to take this life day by day.  In Jesus’ name, AMEN.

Fertility Fears & More Sevens

I am reading through the Bible in one year. So far I have kept up faithfully and made up the daily reading the next day if I missed one. I came across something in Genesis that is very poignant as I turn 35 this year, the year doctors say women begin having complications with pregnancy (source).

I noticed that Abraham was 86 when he had Ishmael. He wasn’t worried at all that he wouldn’t be able to have children as this was an acceptable time back in his day to be able to bear children. When Sarah offered her handmaid Hagar at age 76 as a solution to her dilemma, notice that she didn’t say “I am old,” as the reason she couldn’t get pregnant. Instead, she said, “The Lord has prevented me from having children,” because before that she and her husband had been trying to conceive. However, 14 years must have made a huge difference in fertility because then at 100 and 90 years old, Abraham laughs at God telling him that he and Sarah would have a son come next year (Genesis 17:17).

If you read Genesis 11, you will see a long list of people with the age they were at the time of their first child being born and how long they lived after that. Adam had Seth at age 130 and Adam lived to 930. Noah had his first son at 500! Noah lived to 950. There were not that many generations between Noah and Abraham (who lived to 175) but their lifespans started to gradually shorten. My guess is that people noticed the trend of living shorter and shorter lives so they began having children younger and younger.

If you are interested, Noah’s son Shem wasn’t worried about old age because he didn’t have his first son Arpachshad until he was 100. He had many children after that and lived until he was 600 and then died. Arpachshad lived until 411 and had his first son at 35. I must be the biggest Bible dork (besides my friend Valerie who tops them ALL) but I made this chart to visualize the fact that people were increasingly worried about their fertility after the flood.

Name Years Lived Age upon having first child
Shem 600 100
Arpachshad 411 35
Shelah 406 30
Eber 463 34
Peleg 239 30
Reu 239 32
Serug 230 30
Nahor 148 29
Terah 275 70

Now, you can see Terah is living on the wild side and waits until he is 70 before he gives birth to what I can only understand from the text to be triplets: good old Father Abraham (who had many sons) and his two brothers Haran and Nahor (not to be confused with his grandpa Nahor.)

Anyway, all of this to say, that I was already freaking out about 2020 being so soon on the horizon and now it is here. I am still alone and I still have no prospects for marriage. It is probably time I start reconciling myself to never being able to smell the scent of my newborn baby’s skin snuggled against my breast. I want this with every fiber of my being and I cry out to the Lord to be able to experience this before it is too late.

Brianna Wilbur Photography

God bless all the well-meaning people of the world, but if one more person uses Sarah as an example of being able to have children in old age someone is gunna have a broken nose! (Not really but UGH!) She lived during a time when it was laughable that a 90 year old woman might have a baby, but it was still possible. Nowadays, it is possible to have a baby after 45 but very, very, very rare.

I am so incredibly conflicted by Gretchen Louise’s advice not to rush and my very real biological timeline that threatens to derail my future motherhood by my desire to wait for a desirable husband. I will repost her advice here for you.

Advice in the Season of Waiting

1. Don’t rush.

Marriage is not a place at which you will “arrive” but a season which will come in His time.

2. Don’t spend all your time wishing you were married.

Marriage is not the end goal of life.

3. Don’t sit around waiting for your man to come.

Marriage is not your highest calling.”

4. Don’t fall in love.

True love is a plant of slow growth which will be the sweeter for strong roots and a sure foundation.

5. Don’t marry for the sake of marriage alone.

‘Tis better to be single than to wish you were.

6. Don’t rush.

It takes time to prove the mettle of a man, and only time will reveal a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

7. You will marry a sinner.

Open your eyes wide to his faults and think long and hard about whether you want to spend the rest of your life living with those imperfections magnified one hundred-fold.

8. Listen to the counsel of those who know and love you both.

They can see red flags that are invisible from your perspective.

9. Marry a friend.

Most of married life is lived side by side, not face to face.

10. Don’t rush.

You will have the rest of your lives together.

Being married to your best friend is worth the wait.

I know I said I would let 2020 be sabbatical year and I meant it. Joshua had to walk around the city of Jericho 7 days to make those freaking walls come down. If he had given up on the 5th day or the 6th day because the French peas were jeering and taunting him singing “Keep walking, but you won’t knock down our wall. Keep walking, but she isn’t gonna fall! It’s plain to see your brains are very small to think walking will be knocking down our wall.” (Veggie Tales reference!)  I have to have faith that this year I will tear down that stupid wall blocking me from my dreams if I have faith in God and rest in His provision.

Noah was in the stinking ark smelling elephant poop for months. But in the 7th month on the 17th day, the ark finally rested on Mount Ararat. He waited and waited some more until the flood waters went down, wondering if he would be cooped up with crazy apes and complaining family members with cabin fever and claustrophobia forever. He sent out the dove but she came right back, not finding a place to rest. He waited 7 days and sent her out again and she returned with an olive branch in her beak. (Olive trees represent PEACE.) Then Noah waited 7 more days and sent the dove back out again, but this time, she did not return because she found a nice new home in a tree somewhere. I need to have PEACE in my heart that if I just keep waiting, the flood waters I feel I am drowning in will gradually diminish and I will eventually find the future home where I belong.

My Sabbatical Year

I got married on June 7th, 2009. 2020 marks seven years since my husband left me.

Seven is an important number to God and is the most frequent number mentioned in His Word. In fact, the Bible returns 483 results for seven, seventh, sevenfold, etc. (I just realized I am writing this on the seventh day of the month.)

seven

Seven is thought to represent “completion” as the Lord created the world in six days and rested on the seventh. I am thinking about this idea of completion and I am hoping that several things in my life will be completed. One thing that I hope will be completed is my anxiety over my singleness.

ANXIETY

For years I have fretted over the lack of single Christian men and the very real statistical probability that I will end up dying alone because of the sheer lack of marriageable Christian men in church. But what does God say about anxiety?

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

-Philippians 4:6-7

My anxiety stems from a lack of trust in God. If God wants to give me a husband then He will. He is a God who is not only able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think (Ephesians 3:20) but as our Father who loves us, He desires to give us good gifts (Matthew 7:11). I guess I’ve been struggling to really internalize this truth.

Another important instance where the number seven shows up in the Bible is when God tells the Israelites to fallow the fields every seven years. The land needs to rest and be left alone to rejuvenate itself. This is so that the fields can produce a better harvest and also so that the poor people would be provided for.


“But on the seventh year you shall let it rest and lie fallow, so that the needy of your people may eat; and whatever they leave the beast of the field may eat. You are to do the same with your vineyard and your olive grove.”

-Exodus 23:11

The phrase “year you shall let it rest” is all one Hebrew word. The word is “shamat” and Blue Letter Bible tells me that the KJV translates it in several different ways including: release, throw down, discontinue, and let rest. I think 2020 is the year that I plow and harrow the soil of my heart, but do not sow seeds in it in order to restore the fertility. There has been so much exhausting toiling to find a husband: joining every dating site I can find online, participating in speed dating events, church hopping and joining Bible studies from different churches, and joining single Christian groups on Facebook. I am doing a lot of planting, but I am not harvesting anything except bitter disappointment and envy that others have what I long for. I hope this will be the year that all my striving ceases, I cast my cares on the Lord, and take up His yoke.

Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

-Matthew 11:30

DEBT

When my husband left me, I went into a tailspin of financial crisis. He left me with a mountain of debt that I couldn’t begin to pay off with my minimum wage job. I had to downsize to a smaller apartment that I could afford which was stressful because I had to let go of many of my belongings in order to fit into my cramped little home. I struggled living paycheck to paycheck for years and had to count pennies and live with a bare bones budget that did not allow for any entertainment whatsoever.

Leviticus 25 not only talks about the sabbatical year of resting the dirt, but it also talks about the year of Jubilee which takes place in the 50th year (after seven times seven years). In the year of Jubilee, slaves are freed, debts are forgiven, and property that has been taken is restored to the rightful owner’s family. So this year, I pray that I will work hard to pay off all that I owe and be freed from that burden. This year, I hope, is the year my debt will be completed.

SLAVERY

I have been a slave to my emotions for years. I was finally done grieving the loss of my marriage and the future I imagined for us together after about two years, but I am still to this day grieving who I used to be before I got married and the future I could have had if I never married him. I left everything I loved behind when I moved to Arizona in a last ditch effort to save my crumbling marriage: my job, the masters degree I was working toward, my family and my church family I loved. I had to start all over in a new place with no support.

Whereas I never before struggled with lust, sexual temptation became a part of my daily struggles after my husband left me. Whereas I never used to be an envious person, I frequently find envy creeping into my heart when I see happy married couples, especially those with children. I felt angry at God for allowing me to be abused for so many years and I felt disconnected from Him for allowing me to get into that situation in the first place since He knew what would ultimately happen and could have prevented it. As each year that goes by and I am still alone, loneliness threatens to choke me to death. Fears that I will always be alone keep me up late at night crying into my pillow. Resentment at God for letting this happen and for not providing someone else I can be a “helper suitable” to loom over my head and make me feel guilty, but there doesn’t seem to be anything I can do to stop these feelings from growing more and more out of control like pesky weeds.

Ruth got a kinsman redeemer (Ruth 4:13-14 ) and Job was given twice of what he had before (Job 42:10). The people of Israel were restored to them the years that the locusts had eaten (Joel 2:25). Maybe 2020 is the year that I let go of my impatience and anger and I am freed from the chains of resentment, self pity, bitterness, and depression. I need to count my blessings every day and hold on to hope that something beautiful is in my future.

The Seven Steps to Resolving Unbiblical Thoughts and Bad Feelings

1. Confess the sin as I recognize it

– 1 John 1:9

2. Commit to follow Jesus

– Luke 9:23-24

3. Judge myself biblically

– Matthew 7:1-5

4. Love God and love others

– Matthew 22:37-39

5. Practice forgiveness

– Ephesians 4:32

6. Count trials as joy

– James 1:2

7. Pray unceasingly

– Philippians 4:6-7

 

Moving Forward

For those of you just now stumbling upon my blog, welcome! It’s nice to “meet” you!

Foundations of Sapphires 

I started this blogging journey to chronicle my personal struggles with separation and divorce. Over time, it became a place of lighthearted venting about my dating escapades. I haven’t updated since last September which is the month I met my boyfriend!

YES! I have found love! (But more about that later.) Lately I’ve been thinking about the fact that I’ve neglected this blog because I’m no longer grieving the loss of my marriage or dealing with difficult decisions regarding that. I’m also no longer involved in online dating shenanigans so I’ve stopped writing about that as well. What other purpose does this blog serve than as a record of a broken woman who climbed out of the pit of despair and allowed Jesus to put her back together again? Jesus bulldozed my old foundation of abuse and hopelessness, threw the wreckage away, and rebuilt my structure on a foundation of sapphires- the symbol of faithfulness, wisdom, virtue, and true love. I’ve decided that this may or may not be my last entry as I wrap up this chapter of my life and move on to new horizons. I hope the words I’ve left here over the course the past five years can be of some help to you if you are going through a tough time and faced with many difficult decisions.

matthew2

I’m so blessed that we found one another. He showers me with affection in just the right way that fills up my heart with love. He consistently puts me before himself and brings me closer to my Heavenly Father.  I thank Him that He brought us together.

Overcoming my Past

Nearly five years after my husband left, I still feel like the same old me, but in a way, I am a new and improved version of myself. Through this experience, I have changed negative attitudes and developed a positive outlook, gained new perspectives, set new goals for the future, grown stronger in my faith, and become an individual that has more love and respect for myself. After years of biblical counseling and personal study, I can smell bull crap from a mile away and I don’t put up with it now, no Sir-Ree-Bob!

What I Have Learned in Dating After Divorce

  • Your new partner is NOT your ex. Just because something seems familiar doesn’t mean the same patterns are going to repeat themselves. I’ll admit that things were pretty difficult in the beginning of my relationship due to the trauma, brainwashing, and various types of abuse I experienced in my marriage, but I’ve learned to give these fears and burdens to God, open up my heart to love, and let myself be vulnerable. It feels so good to trust again.
  • I’ve learned to avoid saying things like, “You’re doing ‘X’ just like so-and-so used to do.” It’s important to share your feelings about the past abuse with your new partner, but try not to compare them because they are two different people with different personalities, values, behaviors, and life experiences. If you are genuinely concerned about your new partner’s actions, speak with a trusted friend, family member, or elder at your church to gain insight from someone who is emotionally removed from the situation.
  • Do not rely on your feelings! Feelings change so you cannot trust them. Every day we must choose to love the person we picked for who he is, not for how he makes us feel.
  • I used to believe that leaving a marriage for any reason other than adultery was sinful, but now I believe that God wants you to be safe. Even though my ex-husband was cruel and frighteningly unpredictable, I remained patiently committed, naively believing that my persistent, undying love would conquer all and that if I just stuck with it, we would eventually reap the “happily ever after” outcome of a healthy, mutually respectful, and intimate partnership.  Boy, was I delusional!
  • The abuse was NOT my fault. I can be pretty hard on myself as I’m a perfectionist, so I blamed myself for years for what happened to me but I learned that there was nothing I could have done to make the abuse stop except get out sooner. I was never going to leave so God provided a way of escape, as He always does for those who love Him.
  • Above all, I have learned to let God write my love story. I’ve given Him the reigns of my relationship and let the Perfect Lover teach me how to love and be loved. It is the most freeing experience to trust God that my life is in His hands and He loves me with an everlasting love. When I put Him first, my joy and sense of security come first, too.

Tips If You’re at the Beginning of Your Journey

  • Sometimes it’s hard to recognize abuse in your own relationship. Being able to call it by its name is the first step to stopping it. Abusers can’t abuse if they don’t have a victim! Abuse can be so subtle that you don’t even realize it’s happening or perhaps it’s gone on so long that it has become normative. Here are two resources I’ve found to assess whether or not you’re being abused: [One] [Two] Once you are able to acknowledge your situation for what it is, educate yourself about it. Knowledge is power.
  • Find accountability. This is your support network. It’s important to have people you love and trust in your corner. Speak the truth, no matter how scary it is. Personally, I struggled between my need to speak out about what was happening and my perceived need to  protect my abuser’s reputation and integrity. After you share your burden with others, it will be such a relief! Validation will empower you as you take the steps to make positive changes in your life.
  • Time will bear witness of true, heartfelt change. Your abuser will try to get you to come back once you are safely at a distance but don’t put yourself back in harm’s way unless you and other witnesses have seen serious change over a period of time. Abuse is not normal and you shouldn’t have to accept it.
  • Remember that you can still be who you want to be apart from him. You are deeply cherished because you belong to God and He has prepared a beautiful purpose for you even before you were born. If your relationship doesn’t survive, you still have a bright future ahead.

For further reading, please visit this library of resources I put together that helped me transition into this new stage of my life.

Thank you for joining me on my road to healing! This is not the end but the beginning of something new and beautiful!

Serious Trust Issues

At long last, this blog entry unveils a message I have been endeavoring but have been unable to write for some time. I’m not sure where to begin so I’ll just dive in.

trustissues

In the beginning of March, I deleted my online dating profile for the first time after nearly a year of membership. This was to focus on someone who I believed had a lot of potential. After a month, we both agreed that we weren’t compatible. It was disappointing, but I was okay. For the first time since I started dating after my divorce, I didn’t go right back to seeing who else was out there. I decided to give online dating a break and focus on my relationship with God. I haven’t re-activated my profile since.

The month of April was pretty rough because my best friend died of cancer. However, April was also full of blessings because my youngest sister got married and I was able to spend time with family in Connecticut as her bridesmaid. I decided on the guest bed of my parent’s rental house (my childhood home burned down last August) that if I never get married again that I was content with that. That was the first time since my husband left me that I was able to say that and genuinely mean it. I wrote in my journal that night that I couldn’t picture my future wedding. All my life I had been planning my dream wedding and I got to see it unfold exactly how I imagined in 2009. (I even wrote a blog entry about how it still remains the best day of my life.) But now I couldn’t picture the dress, I couldn’t picture my bridesmaids, and most of all, I couldn’t picture falling in love again.


My heart was calloused and bruised from so many rejections and heartbreaks, I didn’t think my heart was capable of feeling anything for anyone ever again.


At the end of May, a very dear friend who I admire and deeply respect began pursuing me romantically. I’ve known him since October of last year, we have the same friend group, and we see each other on a weekly basis. I was unsure if taking our friendship to the next level was the best choice so I prayed about it every day, but I didn’t get an answer. Meanwhile, as I began praying about him, my feelings for him began to deepen as I thought about him in a new way that I hadn’t really let myself before. I became smitten with him, complete with the butterflies in my stomach when I thought about him and all the other clichés you can think of. But he flip-flopped back and forth every day about whether or not he wanted to commit to me. One day he would tell me, “I’m sure God brought you into my life for a reason and I believe that it’s because you’re the dream woman I’ve been praying for my whole life.” Then the next day he would tell me with worry in his voice, “Are we too similar to each other? Do our lifestyles coalesce? I’m just not sure if this is what God wants.” That very night he would apologize for doubting and say I was exactly what he needed and that he wanted to invest his time in me. “I’m sorry I did that to you, I have a fear of rejection. Please be patient with me.” He promised me he wouldn’t change his mind again but then of course the next day he would. My emotions were on a roller coaster with him and my heart was anxious and upset all the time. The feelings I felt surrounding his unpredictability were akin to those when I was I an abusive marriage. I knew I had to escape this cycle of pain but an unhealthy neediness had ravished my heart. I was addicted to this sick game. The next time he asked me to be his girlfriend, he said he had peace when he prayed about it and he was sure this time. I thought we were finally done riding the roller coaster so I said, “Yes.” That was a very good day. 🙂 The next day, however, he kissed me, and I wasn’t ready. I didn’t feel loved when he kissed me… I just felt kind of used. He assured me that his kiss meant something special and not to take it lightly because he hadn’t kissed anyone in seven years. That made me feel better. The next day we were holding hands while watching a movie in the theatre and he let go of my hand about fifteen minutes into the movie and said, “Holding your hand is distracting me. I can’t focus on the movie and I’ve been wanting to see it for a long time.” What he said was so shocking that I couldn’t believe my ears. “Really?” Was all I could reply. Not going to lie, this disturbed me more than anything else that had previously happened in our relationship. If you can’t hold your girlfriend’s hand, what’s the point of dating in the first place? You might as well just be friends. Physical touch is my love language and I definitely did not feel loved in that moment… I felt rejected, abandoned, and unwanted. Call me a drama queen if you wish, but this was the final straw. I did NOT want to be in a relationship with someone who didn’t want to be close to me in that way.

broken

That relationship messed me up big time and turned my world upside down. The sense of loss was so much deeper than any other because this was a trusted friend I had invested a lot of time and love into who was breaking my heart. I found myself crying all the time. Fear wracked my body that I would be alone forever and no one would ever love me. My own dear friend couldn’t even love me, what was wrong with me? The world swirled around me in a blur as loneliness hung over me like a dark cloud. I pulled my body out of bed every morning and went to work but inside I was thinking, “What’s the point?” I went from being content in my singleness to desperately, urgently needing someone to love me or else I would be miserable for the rest of my life.

This whole ordeal was God’s answer to my prayer a few weeks earlier. I asked God to break my heart because when I am broken, I am closest to Him (Psalm 34:18) and there is NOTHING I want more in this life than to be close to Him. Pain brings us to our knees and makes us cry out to Him because there is no where else to turn for peace and comfort.

I still long for someone I can come home to. Who will just let me cry on his shoulder if I had a bad day at work. Someone who won’t get tired of my presence or feel the need for space from me. Someone who will accept me and adore me, even if I’m feeling crappy.

Yes, yes, I know what you are thinking. GOD is that One who loves me with this kind of love. He is the One I should be running to at the end of a long, hard day.

But…

I still long for a man. Is that wrong? I don’t think so. I think God created me with a desire to be a wife and He wouldn’t give me that desire and not meet that need. I need to trust Him that He WILL provide the right person at the right time. And if there isn’t a person after all, I need to believe that is His very best plan for my life. His way is better than my way.

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I need to let go of this idea that my life will be better if I’m in a relationship.


All being in a relationship has brought me in the past is PAIN. If I never find a man who loves me the way I deserve to be loved… who wants to spend all his time with me, holding me tight and having deep conversations with me, that means I’ll do better with just me and God. If I never find this man, that means God has looked high and low all over planet Earth and has not found a single soul who will compliment me and make my life better. Maybe my life is better alone. I could choose to view this as a complete slap in the face or I could view it as a blessing. God knows exactly what my heart and soul need and He doesn’t want me to have anything less than that. It’s better to be alone than be in a frustrating relationship where my needs aren’t being met and let’s be honest… I’m a pretty needy person. 😉

Ask yourself these two questions:

  • Is God really good?
  • Do I trust God to be God?

Who do you say God is? Do you believe He sees you? Do you believe He will meet your needs? Does He not fill the Heavens and the Earth? (Jeremiah 23:24) Does anything escape His notice? (Psalm 139:7) Heaven is His throne and the earth is His footstool (Isaiah 66:1). He can do all things and no plan of His can be thwarted (Job 42:2). He knows everything from every hair on your head (Matthew 10:30) to every star in the sky and each one has a special name He’s given it (Psalm 147:4). Not a single sparrow falls to the ground without God’s allowance (Matthew 10:29). He is Sovereign over all. He has mighty power over all things at all times in all ways and His understanding is infinite.

“Ah, Lord GOD! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and by Your outstretched arm! Nothing is too difficult for You.” -Jeremiah 32:17

If you are struggling with pain today, please take comfort in knowing that God not only knows your situation but He deeply cares (1 Peter 5:7). He is holding you in the palm of His hand and He will never, ever let you go (Deuteronomy 31:6). If you worship a God who is somehow limited in His power then you do not worship the same God I do. If you worship a God who doesn’t care about you or isn’t capable of helping you, then you do not worship the same God I do. (Psalm 107:1) My God is mighty to save and He wants to fill up my cup til it overflows.

When it comes to trusting God’s goodness C. S. Lewis said it best, “We are not necessarily doubting that God will do the best for us; we are wondering how painful the best will turn out to be.”

The mind feasts on what it is focused on. If you keep thinking about what you don’t have, you’ll be miserable. If you count your blessings, you’ll have a thankful heart. What consumes your mind will be the making or breaking of your identity. Instead of thinking about how badly I need a relationship to be happy, I will replace those thoughts with this prayer, “God, I trust that you are good at being God. I trust you will take care of me and do what is best for me.

You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. -Isaiah 26:3

My whole life I’ve searched for a love that would fill me up.. a love in which I was known intimately and deeply treasured. The truth is, when God created me, His heart exploded with a tremendous love and He’s been pursuing me ever since, wooing me and whispering, “I love you. I will never let you go.” When I dwell on this truth, my heart is filled up with love. I have been desperately craving this affectionate embrace and I’ve been looking everywhere except up. If I live from this place of abundant love, I will stop begging men for scraps of love.

My feelings may shift when people I love are unpredictable, but the Lord is my Shepherd, I lack nothing. He quiets my heart with His love. He leads me besides quiet waters and refreshes my soul. When I am confused and hesitant, He is assurance. When I am hopeless, He is strength. When I depleated, He is fulfillment. When I am exhausted, He is rejuvination.

“The Lord your God in your midst, The Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.” – Zephaniah 3:17

Every time I become enamored with something that I think will bring lasting fulfillment, I make room in my heart for it. I forget that I’m already complete in Christ and I don’t need anything else to make my happy (Colossians 2:10, Psalm 16:11). And every single time, the thing I am in love with proves its absolute inability to fulfill me and I feel even more empty than before.

“I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ.” -Philippians 3:8

The Desires of Your Heart

“Delight yourself in the LORD, and He will give you the desires of your heart.” -Psalm 37:4

That was a verse from my last blog entry and I wanted to talk about it today because there is a lot of confusion and misunderstanding surrounding the promise behind it.

The Heart Wants What it Wants

Each and every one of us has a deep, intense, heartfelt desire. Leave a comment and let me know what it is that burns within you because I’d like to join you in prayer. Perhaps you have a family member you hope will get saved? Perhaps it is an addiction you hope to overcome? A goal weight you’d like to reach? A health issue? A destination you’d like to travel? For me, it is the yearning for a family of my own, a loving husband and children.

Trust in the LORD and Do Good

The surrounding context of Psalm 37 tells us to wait, have patience, trust in God, commit our way to Him, don’t worry, and rest.  It speaks about trusting God’s plan and waiting to see what He will do, aligning our will with His will. When our mind is united with His mind we are becoming more like Him. His desires become our desires. THIS is delighting ourself in Him.

Delight ~ Hebrew word עָנַג

de·light / dəˈlīt

verb

  • To please (someone) greatly
  • To be exquistely happy about
  • To make merry over
  • To give pleasure to

To delight yourself in the Lord is to serve Him with enthusiasm (Ephesians 6:7, Colossians 3:23). To have exceeding joy in your salvation (Psalm 51:12, Psalm 13:5). Letting Him satisfy your every need (Psalm 23:1, Philippians 4:19, Matthew 6:33).  To live contented with what you already have (Hebrews 13:5, 1 Timothy 6:6, Philippians 4:12) rejoice in the Lord always (Philippians 4:4) and be thankful (1 Chronicles 16:34, Philippians 4:6).

According to His Will

When we are delighting in God and submitting to His will, He blesses us with provisions, protection, deliverance, guidence, stability, and peace. But Psalm 37:4 is not a quid pro quo verse. Jesus said, “If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it” (John 14:14). Notice He said IN MY NAME. He didn’t say, “Ask me anything and I will do it,” but only if it was according to His will.

There are many examples in scripture of unanswered prayer. For example, we read the story of Paul’s thorn in his flesh in 2 Corinthians 12:7-9. Paul asked God to remove it three times but for one reason or another, God chose not to say “yes.”

Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane with droplets of blood pouring out of his sweat glands in complete anguish. He prayed earnestly, “Father, if You are willing, take this cup from Me. Yet not My will, but Yours be done” (Luke 22:42). Obviously, if God had answered THAT prayer then all of us would be going to Hell!!!

Sometimes God chooses not to answer our prayers, even when we’re delighting ourselves in Him and trusting Him with our whole heart. But because we know and trust that He “works all things together for good” (Romans 8:28) we can praise Him and thank Him even when we are experiencing great pain.

Hillary Scott wrote this song right after she had a miscarriage which was the hardest trial she had ever gone through. She said in an interview, “Even when it hurts… God’s will is what’s best. Sometimes we don’t understand God’s promises until eternity. His ways are so much bigger than our ways. He sees the whole picture.”

When we are trying to pray but can’t find the words to say we can say these four words:
“Thy will be done.” 

Be Still and Know

James 1:2 says, “Consider it pure joy whenever you face trials” but it is definitely easier said than done as Scott sings in her song. How do we delight ourselves in the Lord in the midst of trials? The secret is reminding ourselves that He is God… and we are not. “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). God uses trials to remind us that we need Him and to increase our faith. Without faith it is impossible to please Him (Hebrews 11:6).

It’s hard to count it all joy when we’re distracted by the noise. That’s why Jesus intentionally rose early before anyone else to have his regularly scheduled time to be alone with God every morning. Jesus disciplined Himself to do this because quiet time with God was of utmost priority to Him. We can’t get lost in the business of life and put God on the back burner. We need to be open to hearing His “still small voice.” Isaiah 30:21 says, “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.'” If we aren’t listening, we’ll miss it.

Where is Your Delight?

It’s frustrating when we’re still single with verses like Psalm 37:4 laying around that seem to offer so much hope. Yet despite our unanswered prayers to the desires of our heart, God has a plan for “those who love Him and who are called according to His purpose.” First I’d like to ask you: Where is your joy? Is it in a relationship with a human being or is it in a relationship with the Lord? There is nothing wrong with wanting to be in a relationship but our delight must be FIRST in the Lord. If time with God it is not a priority in your life then your joy is not in the Lord.

Second, are you “trusting God and doing good?” I read a statistic that only 5% of people are saving sex for marriage. I don’t know the statistic, but many believers choose to be unequally yoked with unbelievers and live impure lifestyles. Sin grieves the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4:30). God might choose not to bless you if you haven’t turned over all areas of your life to Him. When we repent of our sins and walk with the Lord, He removes our heart of stone and replaces it with a heart of flesh (Ezekiel 11:19). Then he plants His desires for us in our heart. As the old, beloved hymn goes, “Trust and obey for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus!”

Third, continue to pray, “YOUR way, not my way, Yahweh! Thy will be done. Make Your desires for me the desires of my heart.” Then be still and wait on Him. Waiting SUCKS but God tells us to wait over and over in scripture. Don’t rush. Be patient. He has His perfect timing.

Finally, delight yourself in the Lord! The Psalmist sings in Psalm 73:25, “There is none upon earth that I desire beside thee.” Is that true in your life? 

There is a funny story I’d like to share with you. My roommate in college gave me a poem for Valentine’s Day. The last line of the poem reads thus:

Since from His bounty I receive
Such proofs of love divine,
Had I a thousand hearts to give,
Lord, they should all be Thine

I joked, “Can we just give God 999 hearts and save one for Mathew?” (At this time, my ex-husband was my boyfriend.) We both tilted our heads back with deep, belly laughter but then we both got quiet and serious. There is no room to give God 99% of our heart and keep 1% for ourselves. We have to give Him our WHOLE heart.

He is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think (Ephesians 3:20-21). He longs to bless us with good gifts (Matthew 7:11). But first He wants us to be completely satisfied in Him (John 6:35; John 7:37-39). When He is the object of our desire, we will have more of Him! Draw close to Him and He draws close to you (James 4:8).

When We Feel Empty

It wasn’t even a full three days since I posted “Singleness is NOT a Punishment!” when my dear, sweet friend sent me this through Facebook message:

princess_warrior

If you have ever seen this or something like this, I want to just help erase any of the damage that it may have done to your heart.

warrior

First of all, who else saw Xena the Warrior Princess when you first starting reading that? Ha! But I digress. Let’s respond to the letter from the anonymous internet person to the Princess Warrior. (Which is supposed to be a letter from God the Father to me, His beloved daughter.)

First of all, I look nothing like sexy Xena the Warrior Princess nor do I feel like her, even though I do know I am a daughter of the King and in His army.  Second of all, I would have to honestly say that, for the most part, I desire the approval of God alone. When I was young I sought the approval of my parents and my teachers and now that I’m an adult I seek the approval of my boss. There is a certain crush of mine who I highly admire and respect and from time to time I will find myself desiring his approval but it’s only because I hold him in such high regard. I don’t think validation should come from anywhere but from above as we are complete in Jesus Christ (Colossians 2:9-10) but I don’t think the desire to feel accepted and supported is wrong. In fact, that’s not only normal but God designed it that way. Allow me to explain:

The letter goes on to say, “I designed you to desire Me and Me alone.”

I challenge you to find a passage in the Bible that says that. You will be hard-pressed to find such a verse because I guarentee it is not there.

Have you ever been in a crowded room, yet felt completely isolated? It’s not a good feeling at all, is it? Loneliness has never been part of God’s plan for his children. After all, in the beginning when God created the Heavens, the earth, the water, trees, flowers, birds, fish, and animals, He looked over each day of creation and declared it to be good. However, upon creating man, God stopped and for the very first time declared something as “not good.” He said, “It is NOT GOOD that man should be alone.”

Adam had God by his side and yet God still said, “It is not good that man should be alone.” Not until after God created Eve did God say, “…and it was VERY good.” All this is to say that we need each other and to deny that is to deny God’s design. Yes, we were designed to desire God, but He also designed us to yearn for a helpmate in life. We are sexual beings and our bodies are naturally created with a longing to be intimate and to be fruitful and multiply. Is it a sin that we desire these things? NO!

Some Christians might tell you that desiring sex is a sin but that is not biblical. The distinction comes from the OBJECT of our desire. If our desires are fixating on something evil (i.e. adultery, fornication, etc) then the desire itself is evil (Matthew 5:28, Matthew 15:19, 1 Corinthians 6:18-20). If our desire fixates on something good (i.e. marriage, companionship) then the desire itself is good (Proverbs 5:18-19, Song of Solomon 2:5-7, Proverbs 18:22, Ephesians 5:28). Sexual desire is wholesome, honorable, and right when it is enjoyed within the boundaries of holy matrimony.

“Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things.” -Philippians 4:8

We have become a generation with a distorted view of marriage.  When we try to convince singles that we shouldn’t desire sexual intimacy or that longing for marriage is somehow unholy then we are giving Satan the credit for God’s beautiful design.

I have said it before and I’ll say it again: Psalm 37:4 is NOT an equation.

Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. -Psalm 37:4

If Psalm 37:4 were an equation, then I’m pretty sure I would have a husband and children by now. Don’t believe for one second that if you’re still waiting on the Lord for this blessing that you must not be doing something you’re supposed to be doing.  Though it certainly feels like a curse, singleness is very much a blessing.  I know that it hurts, especially when you’re lying awake at night in your empty bed with nothing but pillows to squeeze for comfort.

Now let’s take a look at another passage in the letter:

“When you choose to live for Me, you will never again be thirsty for attention…”

Is that really true? What kind of a message does that send to people who struggle with depression? With aching emptiness and longing? With grief and loss associated with divorce? Just because we’ve given our lives to Jesus and chosen to live for Him doesn’t mean that we don’t still struggle with the pain of an empty womb or the longing to share our lives with a companion by our side. Telling a woman that she’ll never thirst for attention if she chooses to live for God… Do you see how that could be detrimental to her spirit? “Oh, I am still thirsty for love and affection…” She thinks. “I must not be fully living for God.” 

In the wise words of one of my favorite authors Alyssa Joy Bethke: “God is good and everything that happens is for our good. Not necessarily for our happiness but for our holiness. God’s goal is to make us more like His son, and often that involves trials and pain. But those difficulties are opportunities to rely on our Savior, to run into His arms, to nestle ourselves in His embrace and to walk with Him.”

Emptiness is that feeling left over after you give something your absolute all and it still doesn’t turn out the way you worked so hard for it to. You’re exhausted of energy, depleated of hope, and disappointed that it didn’t work out. Perhaps you have some unfulfilled dreams or a place in your heart that aches because your beloved didn’t return your love. Perhaps, like me, you fought hard to save your marriage and did everything possible to redeem it but it still fell apart in your hands.

God’s Word offers some promises to combat the emptiness and find fulfillment in Christ.

“I am the LORD your God, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt. Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it.” – Psalm 81:10

“For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” – 2 Corinthians 12:10

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” – Romans 15:13

“I ask God from the wealth of His glory to give you power through His Spirit to be strong in your inner selves,  and I pray that Christ will make His home in your hearts through faith as you open the door and invite Him in.  I pray that you may have your roots and foundation in love, so that you, together with all God’s people, may have the power to understand how broad and long, how high and deep, is Christ’s love. Yes, may you come to know the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love—although it can never be fully known—and be so completely filled with the very nature of God.” -Ephesians 3:16-19

Just because we’ve completely given our lives to God doesn’t mean the longings He’s plsb10065339i-001aced there will completely go away. I believe they are from Him and they aren’t sinful. I mean, not all of us are called to be nuns!!! On the plane home from my sister’s wedding last weeekend I saw a nun. I immediately was drawn to her because of her calm, elegant beauty and of course the curiousity of what made her decide to live under the vows of poverty and chastity but especially the latter. Perhaps she doesn’t have those desires? I can’t imagine not having those desires. If she DOES have those desires then I applaud her for her strength and uncompromising commitment to purity.  She is SO KICK-BUTT! Wish I would have had the courage to ask her my questions. Again, I digress.

It’s healthy to recognize that sometimes the longings we feel aren’t for anything Earth can provide. Psalmist cries out to God, “You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek You; I thirst for You, my whole being longs for You, in a dry and parched land where there is no water.” (Psalm 63:1). Just like the Samaritan woman at the well who thirsted for Living Water, God put a longing in our heart that was intended to lead us back to Him. There is an emptiness that ONLY HE can fill. There is a deep thirst that ONLY HE can quench. If His love doesn’t fill you up, then nothing else will.

“Now let me ask you again, My beloved daughter: Whom do you seek?”

If you’re like me, you’re COMPLETELY honest with yourself and if your desires are the same as mine then you’re seeking a husband. The Bible says, But seek ye FIRST the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” -Matthew 6:33. It never says it’s wrong to seek a husband, but make sure God is first in your heart.

As for me, I’m allowing God to use this loneliness and emptiness to teach me what it means to depend upon His strength and love every day. I know that having a husband won’t satisfy the craving that only God can fill. When you allow yourself to be controlled by Christ’s love you have the indwelling of God’s presence and are closer to unity and maturity. I don’t think we can ever experience the whole measure of the perfection that is found in Christ (Ephesians 4:13) this side of Heaven, but I do believe we can experience joy and fullness here on Earth. I pray this for us both, dear reader, that we would be filled with His love and be content in our single season.

Beware of the Little Foxes

Men are getting bolder these days but have less tact than they used to. (In my experience anyway.) Allow me to share some actual quotes from men to me the past couple weeks:

“Is it wrong that I want to grab your booty?”

“You are very attractive and I wish I could give you my heart and love the hell out of you. I want to be intimate with your mind and make love to you.”

“You have a nice booty though. A classy little booty. I am taking you out on a date. We would be making out like no other getting the windows steamy like in high school.”

“That dress makes you look like you got back.” (I got so mad I yelled at him, “If you love my butt so much, why don’t you marry it!?”)

If you are reading this right now and happened to make one of the above comments, I forgive you. Truly I do. It’s in the past and I’m moving on from this… but at the time when you said it, it made me feel like a piece of meat. Please consider thinking before you speak. If you wouldn’t say it to your sister or your mom, you probably shouldn’t say it to your friend.

All of these were spoken or written by men I consider friends. I have known since childhood that “friend” is such a strong word. “A friend loves at all times,” (Proverbs 17:17) was my favorite verse and I even had it on matching bracelets with my best friend. Recently I’ve been reminded that I need to stop throwing that word “friend” around so much with people. A true friend honors, respects, and loves you… he doesn’t make you feel like you’re just a piece of meat.

Why do men treat us like this? It’s probably because we’ve let them. We don’t call them out. We continue to let them make comments like this. Don’t get me wrong, I like when men are forward. (Saves me so much time trying to figure out if they are interested or not.) But I don’t appreciate it when a man who only considers me a friend and has no intentions of pursuing long-term romance says something sexual to me. I don’t appreciate it when I’ve already told a man I’m not interested but he doesn’t cease to pursue me. PLEASE, for the love of all things good, keep your comments about my body and what you want to do to me to yourself… unless you’re my husband. In that case, by all means, talk dirty to me!

LITTLEFOXESTHATSPOIL

I’ve been thinking about what I allow in my life. My vineyards are blooming with tender grapes but I’ve let the little foxes in. I’ve put myself in positions where men exploited the situation for their own benefit because I was lonely and misplaced my trust. I put my foot down! I want genuine love.  From this day forward, I am going to call men out when they make comments like this every single time. Why yes, I DO want to make out until the windows go foggy and I DO want a man to squeeze my butt. But I don’t want a shadow of the real thing… I want to be cherished and treasured and adored until death do us part.

The realization hit me that I was beginning to lose faith that I would ever find this person to love me completely and wholeheartedly. Well, just look at how the men in my life treat me!

Perhaps someone you love betrayed you. Someone you trusted abandoned you or was unfaithful to you. Someone you believed would protect you hurt you. Someone you considered a friend made you feel objectified. As life drifts by and we encounter heartbreak after heartbreak, we begin to lose faith that love of any kind is real.

When people let me down I just remember that God’s love will never fail me. We have to mentally separate our experience with people from our idea of God. God is NOT human. We can’t let our relationship with God be tainted or distorted by comparing it with friendships or relationships with people who have let us down, disappointed us, and rejected us. God doesn’t lie. He never breaks a promise. And He doesn’t ever leave us. He is holy and perfect. He is loyal and true. He is always good and always kind. His love is unmeasurable and incomparible to any love we’ve ever known on Earth.

Set God apart in your heart because He is not like any other. Humans fail. We just do. That’s our inevitable nature. But God loves us so extravagantly and eternally and He will never break our heart.

The Devil is a LIAR!

April 3rd marked four years of being single. I have been officially single as long as I’ve been married. To commemorate this occasion I had to write another blog entry.

So many of my posts lately have the theme of “love yourself,” like this one here for instance.

There is something I realized about self-esteem: it’s a positive thing in theory to have confidence in your own worth but the devil loves to distort good things because he’s in the business of deception.

I apologize for being part of the problem when our culture lies to us and tells us we need to “love ourselves.”

Don’t get me wrong, we do have inherent value but it’s not because we’ve bestowed it upon ourselves. It’s not even because we’ve reminded ourselves of our intrinsic worth in God’s eyes.

If we go purely based on what God says in His Word, we are extremely precious (Matthew 6:25-34, Luke 12:6-7) because we are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:13-16)  in His image (Genesis 1:27) for a beautiful purpose (Ephesians 2:10, Jeremiah 29:11) and dearly loved by Him (Romans 5:8, Romans 8:32, John 3:16).

We can stand in the mirror all day and recite self affirmations, “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone it, people like me!” Doing this every day when you wake up in the morning and before you go to bed might even give you a strong sense of being loved, but this is not the way to truly experience the fullness of God’s love.

Yes, I do love myself, maybe even so much that one might say it borders on pride. (The negative kind.) My pride was brought down a peg or two when my good friend Jamie helped me to realize that I had been listening to the devil’s lies again. See, the devil likes to attack us where we are strong. I happen to have a lot of self confidence so the devil decided to twist this and use it against me.

After a series of dates with men who are not my spiritual equal I was beginning to feel a little puffed up. (I guess I felt like it was better than feeling chronically frustrated and disappointed.) I mean, it’s hard not have your ego stroked when a guy tells you, “You are an amazing person… I consider myself Christian and live Christian values but obviously I’m not at the same level you are with your devotion.” This has happened to me countless times that it’s starting to become a theme. I’m truly grateful that they notice this and tell me right away because I’m not really good with that whole thing… it sounds pretty judgemental to say “we’re not on the same level” doesn’t it?

One day I woke up and just started feeling sorry for myself. I heard the devil say, “You’re so unique, you’re not ever going to find anyone who is compatible with you. You’re a freak anomaly… even if you did find someone as weird and quirky as you, what are the chances you’d be like-minded? I sat on the pity pot all day and thought about why I’m alone and why I’ll probably always be alone.

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Then my best friend posted this on her Facebook wall and it gave me a swift kick in the pants. I realized my “woe is me” attitude problem was a serious pride problem, too.

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The Bible says no one really hates their own body but nourishes and cherishes it (Ephesians 5:29). We are deeply sensitive to our own needs and feelings and constantly aware of how other people affect us. The reason we are so easily hurt is because we want to be accepted and treated with respect and admiration. If we didn’t care about ourselves then we wouldn’t care if people rejected, neglected, and abused us. No, we do not need to love ourselves… that is an innate, natural thing to do. What we really need to do is DENY OURSELVES. 

Jesus said that “If any of you wants to be My follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow Me” (Matthew 16:24). He also said if you are unwilling to do this then you are not worthy of Him (Matthew 10:28).

Our problem is not that we have poor self-image… it’s that we have a poor image of who God is. Our need is not to love ourselves more but to accept His incredible love for us. We need to give up any idea of what we think we’re here on Earth to do and submit to His plan for our lives. When we abide in His love then we stop focusing on ourselves and instead we begin to shower His love on others instinctively.

I believe it is our pride and selfishness that keeps us from having an intimate relationship with God. Jesus said these chilling words in Matthew 7:21-23, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of Heaven, but only the one who does the will of My Father who is in Heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and cast out demons in Your name, and do many mighty works in Your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you workers of lawlessness.'” 

I say these things because I feel compelled to. I know I won’t be Miss Popular for saying this but the Christian life is not easy. Many people choose the highway to Hell but the gateway to life is very narrow and only a few ever find it (Matthew 7:14).

“As for me, may I never boast about anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. Because of that cross, my interest in this world has been crucified, and the world’s interest in me has also died.” (Galatians 6:14)

My prayer for you all who have stuck it out and are still reading this blog entry (thank you, btw) is that you would know how truly, madly, deeply loved you are. Only with the correct view of God’s love will you ever begin to even scratch the surface in understanding how precious you are. I pray you will know that you are worthy of great love and that you wouldn’t be afraid to open your heart to receive it. No one is really afraid of love… people are afraid of rejection, betrayal, and abandonment. But in Christ there is only complete acceptance and faithfulness. I pray you would have confidence in God’s love. He will never let you down and He will never leave you. There is no want to those who trust Him and those who seek Him will lack no good thing. Taste and see that the LORD is good! (Psalm 34:8-10) Not only is He good, but He is ready to forgive and abundant in lovingkindness to all who call upon Him. (Psalm 86:5)

“But those who wish to boast should boast in this alone: that they truly know Me and understand that I am the LORD who demonstrates unfailing love and who brings justice and righteousness to the earth, and that I delight in these things. I, the LORD, have spoken!” (Jeremiah 9:24)