When marriage stinks!

Sometimes, if we are honest, marriage just stinks! You are not longer feeling love (far from it and it’s been a while!) and you begin to think (or have already thought for quite a while) that getting out of the marriage will be the best thing to do.

Before you catch the next bus out of town, (or push him onto it) take a breath and think.

Marriage vows are for keeps. Think back to your wedding day. {Pause and remember} You were happy. You looking forward to spending the rest of your life with this guy. It was a joyous, wonderful day.

Then reality hit. You began to see the real person you had married, and he, you. The first few years were probably mostly good, but somehow things started to turn sour, and now you have a foot out the door.

Don’t act rashly. This is your husband, whom you are joined together with, in a vow made to God, that is not lightly broken. Despite his short-comings, and yours, you can make this work, but it takes two to want to push through this hard time onto a better marriage.

Don’t check-out. Don’t let your mind dwell on the “grass that is greener on the other side of the fence” and the freedom you suppose is there. Sadly the grass is the same there as it is here. The much-promised freedom is not freedom because you take yourself there, dragging the baggage of a broken marriage wherever you go. Don’t go there. Not even in your thoughts.

Capture your thoughts, and turn them towards making this marriage work. It can work! You may still not like him very much and not “feeling the love” but to quote an old adage “love is not a feeling but an action.” Years ago, I wanted to check out. I had had enough. However, the marriage vow-thing kept me from crossing the threshold and leaving. As I thought about the seriousness of making a vow before God, I also decided I didn’t want to live with my husband as a flatmate. There can be, and is, so much more to marriage than “friends with benefits”, than co-habiting together but essentially leading totally separate and different lives.

So much more. So having decided we weren’t going to live as flatmates, I chose to show love as an action. What is your husband’s love language? How does he really feel loved by you? My husband loves it when I do things for him (acts of service). So… I started by making his lunch for him; at first slapping the sandwiches together, muttering that I am doing this because I love him, and writing love notes (in not-very-loving script!) on his lunch paper. Eventually, the love notes became easier to write because I felt the love (and so did he).

I am not saying this happened overnight or that it was easy or that we didn’t have ups and downs since then BUT what I am saying is that your marriage can be absolutely incredible because you stayed and worked on it.

Here is a man that knows you, has loved you (at least somewhere in the past!) and wants your loving too. Give him a go. Now I know there can be deep-rooted issues and problems that require a lot of work and probably need help from someone outside the marriage. If you go to a counsellor/pastor/older woman, don’t just go thinking the problems are all his. Hello, there are two in this marriage and you both contribute to it’s joys and to it’s sorrows and hardships. It is better to go as a couple and work through things together (at least for most of the sessions). Look at your own life/personality/attitudes that may contributing to this situation (before pointing the finger in the other direction).

There is hope! I strongly encourage you to work through the tough times and you will reap the harvest of a strong marriage later on. Being married to your best friend, who loves, cherishes and protects you and who in return feels safe and secure in your love, is just the best thing.

So don’t leave, or let him leave. Work on your marriage. Show your commitment to the relationship and to him. Marriage doesn’t have to stink, far from it!

 

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Motherhood is a sacrifice!

I recently had a young mum say to me that it seems like she is doing all the sacrificing (to raise the children at home full-time) and her husband wasn’t, so much.

Let me tell you that husbands DO sacrifice everyday so that he can provide for his family. My husband is a pastor. He sacrifices what he would like to do, (mountain climbing, hiking and being outdoors in general) to do the job God has called him to do at this time. There are days (which many men feel and particularly pastors) when he would rather be doing something else. Anything else! We ALL feel like that at times. Mums can feel like they are stuck at home, minding the children, cleaning the house, doing the laundry and they would be doing anything else but!

However, being a mother is a very high calling. You are given these precious children as a gift to nurture, love and raise to know God, to respect and love others, to learn obedience, to become selfless and productive citizens of God’s kingdom. Sadly the world does not appreciate the stay-at-home-mother nor does it realise that it is such an important and vital role in society. But God does and He promises that He will never leave us nor forsake and that He will supply ALL that we need to do His calling.

Raising children is not easy. There is not formula (sadly), no mathematical equation, no set of rules that will guarantee that your children will love the Lord, and will love others as themselves. We are all different, our children are unique and the whole lot of us are sinners. Mix all that up together and it makes for a challenging and yet, oh so, rewarding period in your lives.

My “baby” is now 14 years old. I still have 3 out of our 7 at home. Already it seems like time has flown so fast and I can see the end of this era of child-raising is in sight.

Treasure this time you have been given. Make the most of it. Yes, you need to make sacrifices, yes, you need to firm and loving, consistent and know when to show grace, to laugh with your children and at yourself, to know when you have stepped over the anger/frustrated boundary and you need to ask forgiveness. You may need to seek help and support from others (most problems are not new under the sun).

Trust in God for strength and wisdom and walk closely with Jesus. Ask for help to be godly everyday. Read Col 3: 12-15. Memorise it. Pray it into your life. Work on your marriage (the second most important thing (after God) that will benefit your parenting), and lastly, love your children.


The Hand That Rocks the Cradle Rules the World

      • by William Ross Wallace (1819-1881)

Blessings on the hand of women!
Angels guard its strength and grace.
In the palace, cottage, hovel,
Oh, no matter where the place;
Would that never storms assailed it,
Rainbows ever gently curled,
For the hand that rocks the cradle
Is the hand that rules the world.

Infancy’s the tender fountain,
Power may with beauty flow,
Mothers first to guide the streamlets,
From them souls unresting grow —
Grow on for the good or evil,
Sunshine streamed or evil hurled,
For the hand that rocks the cradle
Is the hand that rules the world.

Woman, how divine your mission,
Here upon our natal sod;
Keep – oh, keep the young heart open
Always to the breath of God!
All true trophies of the ages
Are from mother-love impearled,
For the hand that rocks the cradle
Is the hand that rules the world.

Blessings on the hand of women!
Fathers, sons, and daughters cry,
And the sacred song is mingled
With the worship in the sky —
Mingles where no tempest darkens,
Rainbows evermore are hurled;
For the hand that rocks the cradle
Is the hand that rules the world.

 

Why do I cry on my birthday?

Nearly every year, on my birthday, I cry. Despite the huge efforts by my husband to “cover all the bases” and “to meet all expectations”, I still cry.

This year was no different. My gorgeous husband gave me beautiful yellow lilies, chocolates, a huge glazed pot for the garden and took me out for a beautiful dinner. And still I cried!

My youngest son, cooked me breakfast (bacon, eggs, tomato and croissant, and coffee) and brought it to me beautifully decorated on a white tray with a flowers in a vase. And still I cried!

All of my children (bar one, who always forgets!) contacted me by phone, video (thank you to the crazy ones), text and Facebook, and still I cried!

Why? It is because I am adopted!

Pure and simple. I have recognised this adoption grief for over 20 years and yet I still find birthdays difficult. Not every year, but most years I find myself crying.

The day of my birth reminds me that something happened that changed my life forever. After spending 9 months in the womb of a woman, listening to her heart-beat, to her voice, knowing the nurture and security of her, I suddenly lost her. She was no longer there. A grief so profound and deep overtook me, and yet, I had no way of expressing it. And there was no way of bringing back that which was lost.

56 years later the grief still hit when I no longer expected it. When I know the reason. When I think I am “over it”. When I know I am a child of God who is loved and securely His forever. When I am loved by a husband who goes above and beyond to show his love for me. When I am surrounded by loving children. When I have loving brothers and sisters (both familial and through Christ). Yes, even with all that, grief still manages to take me by surprise.

But you know what? I’m ok!

It’s ok that I still cry! Grief does that to a person. I see my friends who have lost a daughter or a husband or a parent and guess what? They still cry sometimes. So it is with me. Like when my (adopted) mum died.  At times grief for her would hit me when I least expected it, because I was suddenly reminded that I missed her. After 9 years those times are becoming less. Adoption grief is similar.(Except that I could rationalise her death. She was old and sick with cancer, yet her death still shocked me.)

I know the reason I cry on my birthdays, I’m ok with it and it is part of the healing process.

This unexplainable (adoption) grief hits many adoptees, often on their birthday. It is a perpetual, annual reminder of a grief that was never acknowledged or expressed (nor could it be). But armed with this knowledge, I accept it, and thank the Lord for the many good things that have come because of my adoption (like being brought up in a Christian home). I may still have birthdays when I cry but that’s ok too. Grief is part of who I am, and it has helped to shape me into the person I am today. For those of us who have experienced deep loss know its ok to cry at times. For those who haven’t, don’t expect us to “get over it” because, I tell you, the loss never goes away. Our lives may become filled with other things/people and we seem to move on, but the loss remains. Don’t be patronising or offer platitudes or try to fix us. Be patient with us, sit with us, listen to us, hug us and pass the tissues. Oh and a cup of tea would be nice too.

So to those who asked if I had a “good” birthday, I can honestly say, “yes” but I still cried!

 

 

 

When Christians commit suicide

Last week a Christian husband and father ended his life by his own hand. Later in the week a young Christian university student ended her life too. How can we even begin to understand what would drive a faithful Christian to commit suicide? Is this a sin that cannot be forgiven? What can we say about a person’s spiritual state who has died by suicide?

Sometimes, a Christian can feel that life is so over-whelming and hopeless, so they think that their loved ones would be better off, rather than having them moping around and being a burden, that they act out of this despair and put an end to their life. It isn’t necessarily a lack of faith or trust in the Lord. But rather their thinking has become distorted and warped. They can still have a strong faith in the work of Jesus Christ on the cross on their behalf, and yet not be able to see a way out of their particular circumstance.  If you have never suffered from deep depression, it can be almost impossible to understand how anyone, let alone a Christian can reach such a crisis. Sadly, more and more people are choosing suicide to bring an end to the difficulties they face each day.

Someone who is suffering from depression and/or anxiety needs to see a medical practitioner for help. They may be prescribed medication to help or offered counselling to work through the issues that are at the bottom of their despair. Strong family/friend/church support is essential too. However, this support may be not accepted, or they may even push people away, preferring their own sad company. A person who is deeply depressed may find it very difficult to relate to others, to socialise with people, and to show love, even to their closest family. In turn, those closest to them can feel unloved and uncared for, and when the person commits suicide, can feel totally abandoned and guilt-ridden (If only they had done more!).

So how does this all work for a Christian? Shouldn’t they just put their trust in the Lord? If they did, they wouldn’t get depressed, right? Isn’t it a lack of faith? A person can have a strong faith and yet experience deep depression. As I wrote in a previous post, depression lies to you and distorts reality into a twisted version where hopelessness, darkness and lack of life-purpose becomes the norm.

John Piper shared a very helpful meditation he gave at a funeral for a Christian who had committed suicide. He addresses the “unforgivable sin”  as the continual rejection of God’s Spirit, as a persistent and continual denial and resisting of the Holy Spirit. We all die with sins we haven’t repented of or confessed and yet we have confidence that we, who love the Lord Jesus Christ, will live eternally with him. Suicide is a sin, yes, but not an unforgivable one that will condemn someone to damnation forever.

How can I support someone who is deeply depressed: (not in any particular order)

  • Show your love for them, day in and day out
  • Feed them and make sure they are drinking plenty of water
  • Get them out into the sunshine, to get Vitamin D
  • Make sure they are getting enough sleep, and yet not spending too much time in bed.
  • Try and encourage them to get some exercise (it enables a healthy sleep).
  • Take them to a medical professional
  • Make sure they continue to take their medication, if they are prescribed it.
  • Talk to them, often (even if it is a one-sided conversation).
  • Encourage them to maintain relationships with family/friends/church, though this may be difficult and the last thing they want to do.
  • Offer a way out. A change of job. Drop some university courses. Move house. Tell them that whatever is needed to be done to change the circumstances that are over-whelming them, you will support them 100%. The Lord has promised us to always offer us a way out of temptation to sin.
  • If you are married, let the person know you are in this Together, Long Term, Whatever It Takes!
  • Read Psalms to them (and/or encourage them to read them). There are many psalms that describe life in the pit and how the psalmist puts his trust in the Lord to deliver him.
  • PRAY, PRAY and PRAY.

Your loved one may still decide to end their life. It is not your fault. They have made that decision, not you. They have decided there is no way out except death and acted on it. They do not see that somewhere, somehow there is a way out nor do they see the devastating effect their suicide will have on others. We do not always understand the whys and wherefores of such sad circumstances, but the Lord has promised to be with us, and comforts us with His Spirit and His Word. May God give you His peace.

A Recipe For a Christian Marriage

A Recipe for a Christian marriage:

One large measure of faith

1 C understanding

1 Tbsp each of compassion, gentleness, peace, self-control

A dash of spiciness

1 C Contentment

1 C friendship

Blend with mutual hobbies, friendships and hospitality.

Gently fold in differences of opinion and loving respect, quickly adding submission and forgiveness.

Pour in Bible devotions and studies and let it stand.

Sweeten with laughter and add pure extract of hugs and kisses.

Add lashings of encouragement as required.

Sift out pride, selfishness and anger.

Stir with love and humility until there is unity.

Garnish with music and creativity.

Sprinkle with good communication and cover with prayer.

Bake in the slow-cooker of faithfulness for the years ahead.

Serve on the hope of life eternal.

Your marriage is founded on the covenant you made with each other and with God when you married. This is your rock solid foundation. This is the superglue that binds you together. Having been brought together, by God’s good grace, you can now build your marriage together, resting on His promises and His Word.

Life in Christ is a tremendously exciting journey. No longer are jobs, homes, or money the most important thing in your lives, (important though they are), but it is being obedient to the Lord Jesus Christ. Give up your lives as living sacrifices to Him and trust him for the future. As you trust Christ for the temporal things that you need to live each day and for your spiritual needs to live life eternally, He will guide you and strengthen you. As you both put Him first in your lives, you, too, will find a unity of purpose and plan and this will draw you still closer together.

On a practical front:

– Don’t forget your own personal walk with the Lord

– Pray for your marriage, your husband and yourself

– Eat well and surprise your husband with new recipes

– Encourage your husband

– Make your home a sanctuary for you both

– Keep within budget

– Play and be fun to be with

– Keep your mind active so that you can have an intelligent conversation

– Be interested in what your husband does

– Dress to please him

– Get enough sleep

– Keep on top of the washing!

– Always behave in a godly manner; humble, forgiving, kind, gentle etc.

And above all else: Keep close to the Lord, and keep Him the centre of your marriage.

(written for my daughter, Zipporah,  who recently married)

How Can I Protect my Pastor-Husband from Sexual Sin?

If you are married to a pastor or Christian leader, in the wake of yet another renown pastor, Tullian  Tchividjian (pronounced cha-vi-jin) stepping down from ministry because of his adultery, it makes you think seriously about your own marriage, and “will this happen to us?”

Adultery usually starts long before any physical touch with someone you are not married to. It often begins with a dissatisfaction in one’s marriage, which leads one to being vulnerable. Then we are open to inappropriate desiring and lusting after someone else.  Beware too, that if your husband is in public ministry, there will be women who will find him desirable and attractive and, who may, or maybe not intentionally, make themselves “available” to him.

As a pastor’s wife, I believe that there is much we can do to help protect our marriages, emotionally, physically and spiritually, so that our husband, and/or we, will not fall into adultery. But how can we affair-proof our marriages?

Here are a few things I have found helpful to strengthen and maintain a strong marriage. These are good for all marriages, but particularly for those in public ministry. (Not in any particular order except the first one!)

  • Maintain a close relationship in Christ. Study and meditate on the Word of God, be a praying woman, and love the Lord with all your heart mind, and strength.
  • Be a godly woman. Act godly in all circumstances.
  • Make yourself attractive – inside and out!
  • Be strong in your theology, listen to your husband’s preaching. Discuss theological issues. If your theology differs from his, be open to be challenged and read around the subject, particularly, to understand his view. Be careful to never undermine his ministry by openly disagreeing with him.
  • Lose those extra pounds. Dress well and how your husband likes.
  • Be submissive to your husband as to the Lord.
  • Be a good example of a loving Christian marriage, so HAVE a loving Christian marriage!
  • Be publicly physical with your husband. Look like you are “together”. This can only flow out of a close marriage that happens in private.
  • Encourage your husband. Be his No. 1 fan.
  • Be a visible helpmeet to your husband. At conferences, when he is tied up talking to people, ask him if he would like a cup of tea or if he would like you to get him something to eat, or he may need you to photocopy his notes. He may ask you to pray or talk to the girls or women. Be ready and helpful.
  • Be gracious about the time your husband has to spend time away from you and the family. Go with him if possible and/or appropriate.
  • Thank God for his calling. Pray for him and his ministry.
  • Raise the children to appreciate the ministry of their father and to love him.
  • Practice an open door policy. Be hospitable so that your husband can invite women he must see into your home.
  • Help him by being interested in his ministry and be his confidante and best friend.
  • Help him to hold to the rule “never be alone with a woman” and the same applies to you, “never be alone with a man”.

I hope you have found these things helpful, I have. I am sure there are other things we could be doing too, but the abiding thing is to (a) have a strong faith yourself and (b) build a strong marriage together.