What I Learned from Our Christmas Light Fight and the God Who Is “With You”

This week I received a not-so-subtle reminder of how Christmas used to be around our house.  It started out as an unnamed tension, a small inkling that something just wasn’t right between us.

Eventually, my frustration grew, and with it the realization that my husband and I were quickly heading down a path that neither one of us wished to revisit – the path of Christmas past.

In years past, unresolved issues often flared during the holiday season with the pressure of family functions and high expectations for extra quality togetherness.

Christmas expectations tend to create an unhealthy, doomed-to-fail attitude in my husband who struggles with baggage from the past.

Add to that my equally destructive tendency toward perfectionism (also heightened by Christmas expectations) and desire for magical family moments, and… well… you can imagine the disappointment when things don’t go as planned.

The Christmas Light Fight

It took a strand of Christmas lights for me to finally experience the “Aha!” moment we desperately needed.

Because every single year we argued over those stinkin’ Christmas lights!

Why, why, why?!

Why argue over something so silly and insignificant?

What I learned from a Christmas light fight and the God who is "with" you. Hope for the Hurting Wife sale|Being Confident of This|Christian women|Bible study|encouragement|devotional thought|inspiration|growing in Christ|progress|perfectionism|marriage|marriage help  #marriage #hope #Christianbook

Because we’re different.

My husband is a get-‘er-done, looks-good-enough-to-me kind of guy while I’m a detail-oriented, slightly OCD perfectionist.

His goal was to get the job done quickly while mine was to get the job done right!

And at Christmastime, of all times, I felt we should be on the same page (which, if I’m honest, really meant I believed he should get on my page). ;)

One year, we found a way around the seemingly inevitable Christmas light argument. Somehow, we managed to work together to get the lights on the tree without losing patience with each other.

It was our very own Christmas miracle!

Not only that, but we also managed to discuss a plan for the outdoor lights that we both agreed upon, and my husband carried out to near perfection.

That Christmas certainly wasn’t perfect, but it demonstrated real progress.

Sometimes, friends, we focus so intently on the standard, on where we desire to be, on the relationship that we desperately long for, that we fail to see the small steps that have carried us away from where we were.

When that happens, when we fail to see the progress, we wrongly believe that we’re stuck, doomed to repeat patterns of failure that we’re sick and tired of repeating.

Like our annual Christmas light fight.

Christmas Expectations & The Enemy

The truth is that Christmas, for all of its joy and light, is also a season of added stress – financial stress, relational stress, physical stress, and mental stress.

It’s enough stress to downright break an already limping marriage relationship like the straw that broke the camel’s back.

For women in particular, we often expect our husbands to be even more family-oriented during holiday seasons.

I can’t believe he’s acting like this at Christmas!

Doesn’t he love me enough not to ruin my holiday?

Can we get just one day without his selfishness – for the kids?!

Our unrealistic Christmas expectations provide fertile ground for the Enemy’s seeds of discontent.

Believe me when I say that the Enemy is keenly aware of the opportunity that added Christmas expectations provides, and he is quick to pounce on every opportunity to grow bitterness and resentment in our hearts, even during, no especially during the season of light.

It must make him incredibly angry to see families working together to decorate their homes in anticipation of the celebration of Christ’s birth.

It must make him seethe with hatred to see the love and joy we experience in the act of giving to one another in honor of the Greatest Gift.

He must burn with rage to see families gathered around to listen to God’s Word, His love story come to life in the babe called Jesus, the God sent to earth to be “with us.”

No wonder he attacks families during the Christmas season.

There’s so much joy that he is determined to steal all that he can, and sometimes… sometimes we let him.

Friends, don’t let your Christmas expectations diminish your joy this year.

Unrealistic expectations add pressure to marriage relationships during the Christmas season! What I learned from a Christmas light fight and the God who is "with" you. Hope for the Hurting Wife sale|Being Confident of This|Christian women|Bible study|encouragement|devotional thought|inspiration|growing in Christ|progress|perfectionism|marriage|marriage help  #marriage #hope #Christianbook

The Setup for Christmas Success

Instead of setting yourself up for Christmas failure, set yourself up for success by:

  1. Lowering expectations. Be realistic! (will the Christmas light setup really matter in years to come? Or that perfect family photo – you know, the one where everyone is smiling but you remember the true feelings that reigned that day).
  2. Focusing on progress rather than perfection. (even baby steps are still steps in the right direction!)
  3. Recognizing the Enemy’s attempts to steal your Christmas joy.
  4. Keeping your mind stayed fast on the hope you have in Christ, the God who is with you!

Don’t let the sorrow of broken relationships or life’s hardships eclipse the light of the Savior’s birth.

After all, He came to be the God who is with us in all our brokenness, in all our sorrow and joy and love and frustration and messiness and wild beauty.

He came to be with us.

That’s the hope we have to offer you this Christmas season, that your God is the God who is “with you.” He never leaves you nor forsakes you, even when you disappoint yourself and your spouse by arguing over Christmas lights.

The God Who Is With You

He loves you with an everlasting love, even when you miss the first fourteen days of your advent plan.

He delights in you even when you fail time and time again.

He lavishes new mercies every morning upon you when you’ve spent half the night worrying about whether or not you and your spouse will make it.

He strengthens you to keep fighting for the healthy, abundant-life kind of marriage that He designed you to experience from the beginning.

He is the God who is with you.

Emmanuel.

And according to His word, nothing can separate you from his love, not even the prowling Enemy.

Believe in His promises today, friend. Cling to the hope that you are not alone!

When those dark thoughts and temptations enter your mind, just whisper His name – Jesus…Jesus…Jesus…

and remember He is the God who is with you, the ultimate, life-giving Gift!

*This post contains affiliate links.* Jen is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. Jen also participates in affiliate programs for other trusted products. Thank you for helping to support the ministry of this blog!

Hope for Wives This Christmas

Friends, we know the holiday season is rough on marriages, even healthy ones. But it’s especially hard on marriages that have nearly reached the breaking point. We know wives and spouses who are living unloved experience an intense loneliness and sadness during Christmas.

So, as a gift to you, my co-author Rebekah Hallberg and I have scheduled a special one-week Kindle countdown sale on our book, Hope for the Hurting Wife – a 30 day devotional for encouragement in your marriage.

What better gift can we give than the gift of knowing you are not alone, and that real Hope is within your grasp?

It’s the only kind of hope that is guaranteed not to put us to shame!

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance;  perseverance, character; and character, hope.  And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” Romans 5:1-5

If you’re living in a broken relationship, if you are a wife who is hurting this holiday season, I encourage you to pick up this book, especially while it’s so affordable.  Or maybe you know a fellow wife who is doing her best to fight for her marriage? Give her the gift of Hope this Christmas.

What I learned from a Christmas light fight and the God who is "with" you. Hope for the Hurting Wife sale|Being Confident of This|Christian women|Bible study|encouragement|devotional thought|inspiration|growing in Christ|progress|perfectionism|marriage|marriage help  #marriage #hope #Christianbook

Please don’t delay because the nature of the countdown sale is that the price increases incrementally as time passes.

Our greatest desire is that no wife should go through this Christmas feeling alone and hopeless!

Whatever your circumstances, choose to celebrate the hope of the God who is with you.

Let’s share that message around this season!

Jen :)

P.S.  My lovely and brave author friend Kaylene Yoder is also “birthing” these babies (below) into the world today. If you’re looking for more marriage and parenting encouragement, please check out her prayer journals! Harness the power of prayer to change your most important family relationships.

How to Stand Firm in the War on Your Marriage

That night we went to bed angry, as far apart in the bed as we could possibly get without falling off the edges. I knew my heart was wrong, but he was wrong, too, so I refused to give in.

But my guilty conscience gave me no rest.

I wept angry tears, and pleaded with God to help me find a way out, a way back to what was right. I wondered, why is marriage such a war?

Some days marriage seems like hard work, while other days it feels like an all out war, doesn’t it?

The truth is that there is a war on your marriage, and it’s not just about the present conflict between you and your husband.

God’s Word tells us that the Enemy seeks to destroy our lives (1 Peter 5:8-9), and marriage conflict is a tool He uses often. So, friend, the war on your marriage is real, but it’s not a war of this world – it’s a war of the spiritual world the likes of which Paul spoke of in the book of Ephesians.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Eph. 6:12 (NIV)

Fellow wife, I know you may be hard-pressed and Satan’s attacks seem never-ending, but we serve a God who loves to demonstrate His might over the forces of darkness!

As you choose to stand firm in the war on your marriage, keep in mind these three tips.

3 Ways to Stand Firm in the War on Your Marriage

  1. Confront Satan’s lies.

So often women feel shame over marriage issues, even if those issues are a result of their husband’s sin and not their own. This is perhaps especially true in Christian marriages because we have that deep desire to be the godly wife we know God wants us to be.

Because we’re ashamed, we hide our problems from others and trying to put up a good front. We begin to believe the lie that we’re alone in our suffering. It’s the oldest trick in the book, dating all the way back to the Garden of Eden; the Enemy uses it often.

However, when we allow shame to rule us, we give Satan the spiritual foothold he is looking for.

These 3 biblically based tips will help you stand firm in the war on your marriage! Christian marriage|godly wife|spiritual warfare|fighting for marriage|standing for marriage|Christian women|Christian resources|Bible studies|devotionals

We fail to…

Please join me for the rest of this post over at the Reclaiming Hope and Joy in Your Marriage series! It’s a month-long series over at Finding Hope and Joy in Christ – with several MAJOR giveaways. So click here to head over and read the rest! :)

Do you feel stuck in your marriage? Do you long for the days when marriage was enjoyable? Whether you are desperate for change in your marriage or simply wanting some encouragement to be a godly wife, this book is for you! healthy marriage|happy marriage|godly wife|christian living|christian resource|bible study|devotional|marriage help|hope for marriage|Hope for the Hurting Wife|lonely wife|feeling unloved|heartbroken|weary wife

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For the Wife Who Has Lost All Hope (and a Giveaway!)

Has a book ever touched your life in a way that you knew would forever change you?

Hope for the Hurting Wife has changed me.

From the early years of marriage when I lived out the reality of this book, I’ve seen the hand of God at work in my marriage. It’s a good thing, too, because without His intervention, I probably would have ended up divorced.

Yes, this book has changed me. Writing out your struggles, reliving them for the world to see, is no easy thing. It requires time and patience and lots of shaking-in-my-boots bravery.

As an imperfect wife, I never planned to write about marriage. In fact, I purposefully avoided writing about marriage for quite a while until the Lord convinced me otherwise.

You see, friend, I wanted nothing more than to be the good, Christian girl and the good, Christian wife. But when my life became tainted by sin and doubt and suffering, upholding my good, Christian girl facade became impossible.

And I’m thankful it did.

I’m not the same person I was ten years ago. I’m not the same wife, either.

But for many years, I believed my marriage was tainted, too. I thought we might never find our way back to happiness.

I lost all hope.

In a day when marriages quickly end in divorce, where do hurting wives who want to stay married turn? You're not alone and finding hope in a difficult marriage IS possible! hope for marriage|marriage crisis|Christian marriage|devotional|godly wife|unloved|divorce|encouragement|inspirational|marriage book|marriage help

For a time, I even contemplated divorce, but I knew it was wrong, and I didn’t want my children to grow up in a broken family.

So, I cried out to the Lord for rescue. I allowed him into my anger and my brokenness. Instead of hiding the emotions I was so ashamed of, I started being brutally honest with God about my pain and my anger. I quit living in denial and allowed Him to open my eyes to the truth of our situation.

If not for family support and godly mentors during this season of life, I’m sure my story would be very different, friend.

I needed other Chrisitan women who were willing to admit that marriage is hard work. I needed other Christian women to show me there is no such thing as a perfect wife. I needed women to sit with me in suffering rather than sit with me in condemnation.

I needed women to sit with me in suffering rather than sit in condemnation.

I know some of you are searching for the same. You’re desperate to be the wife God wants you to be, but you don’t quite know how when your marriage is so troubled. You don’t know how you can possibly fight for your marriage when you can barely stand under the weight of it.

Fellow hurting wife, listen closely: You. are. not. alone.

My co-author Rebekah Hallberg and I hear frequently from women just like you (and just like us), who truly desire to avoid divorce. We know the shame and guilt you often bear. We know the loneliness you experience. We know what it is to feel unloved and rejected.

*This page contains affiliate links. For more information, please visit the About page. Thank you for supporting the ministry of Being Confident of This!

That’s why we wrote Hope for the Hurting Wife, for women like you who have lost all hope and don’t know where to turn.

Hope for the Hurting Wife

Hope for the Hurting Wife is a thirty-day devotional journey that meets hurting and heartbroken wives right in the midst of a difficult marriage and gently encourages them to find hope that truly lasts.

Through our personal stories of heartache and scriptural insight, we address topics such as:

• Moving forward after trauma
• Loving even when you feel unloved
• Protecting your heart
• Understanding the power of choice
• Trusting God while waiting for redemption

You will never experience a perfect marriage here on earth, but you can experience real hope.

Our God is the God of the impossible!

While the world is quick to throw away marriage and run straight to divorce, we who are in Christ know that our present troubles never accurately reflect our future.

In a day when marriages quickly end in divorce, where do hurting wives who want to stay married turn? Hope for the Hurting Wife is written by two women who have lived through the dark and difficult times in marriage. Through personal stories and biblical insight, they encourage all women to fight for hope in their marriages! hope for marriage|marriage crisis|Christian marriage|devotional|godly wife|unloved|divorce|encouragement|inspirational|marriage book|marriage help

We serve a God who invested His very self into us through the work of Jesus, and He continually works to transform us from the inside out (Phil. 1:6). He continually works to transform our relationships, too.

My marriage of eighteen years is stronger than ever, but not because of me. Only God could take a marriage so messy and so broken and transform it into something truly beautiful. Not perfect, but beautiful.

And I’m more certain now than ever that the Enemy just hates to see what God does when women hand over their lives and their marriages into His trust.

Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. Romans :3-5 (NIV – emphasis mine)

You don’t have to be a wife who has lost all hope any longer, friend. Cry out to the God of all hope who comforts us in our troubles (2 Cor. 1:4).

Don’t be afraid to hope lest you be disappointed because God’s hope does not put us to shame!

Choose today to fight like a warrior wife for your marriage!

Choose hope over fear!

Jen :)

Marriage Resource Bundle Giveaway

To celebrate the launch of our book, Hope for the Hurting Wife, we’re giving away a four-book bundle of marriage resources! These resources were hand-selected by Rebekah and I specifically for wives who have lost all hope, but they would benefit any and every married woman! Here’s what the winner will receive

1. Hope for the Hurting Wife paperback – see info above!

2. Every Wife’s Choice by Sarah Fairchild (paperback) takes an in-depth look at how our emotions come into play in marriage. Sarah uses both humor and insightful key-word study to examine the famous love chapter, 1 Corinthians 13. I promise you will laugh out loud when reading this book!

3. A Wife’s 40-day Fasting and Prayer Journal by Kaylene Yoder (paperback) is a devotional combined with a prayer journal. It is beautifully designed with spaces to record what you learn from relevant verses, your own prayers, and even how you intend to fast should you choose to use that portion. Kaylene understands that marriages are often under spiritual attack, so she encourages women to fight back by covering their marriages in prayer!

4. Blues to Bliss by Ngina Otiende (ebook version) speaks to those times when marriage fails to live up to our expectations (especially in the early years). Ngina shares from her own marriage, as well as the Bible, about how to navigate areas such as intimacy, submission, communication and even finances!

We're celebrating the launch of our new book Hope for the Hurting Wife by giving away a bundle of marriage books! Enter for your chance to win these four books written for wives! marriage books|Christian wife|godly wife|marriage growth|faith|bible studies|devotionals|encouragement for marriage|hope for the  hurting wife|prayer journal

We are especially hopeful that some of these resources will make their way into the hands of wives who have nearly lost all hope.

Enter for your chance to win below! (And stop by Rebakah’s blog for a chance to win in her giveaway, too!)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

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Finding Hope for Your Marriage

My heart is heavy today for the many wives who feel stuck in a difficult marriage. For the last couple of months, the top google search word that led people to this site has been the word “unloved.” How unfortunate that during the month of February, when we highlight and celebrate love, so many of us feel it is lacking!

Maybe you, too, are searching for hope for your marriage?

As a wife myself, I spent many years fearing the reality of divorce. In fact, it’s only been the last few years that I’ve begun to find confidence in our marriage. So I feel qualified to tell you that you can still find hope for your marriage!

No marriage is too messy, no life too destroyed, for our Father God to work a transformation that leads to new life.

The real question is, how badly do you want it?

Are you willing to fight for hope?

Are you willing to cling to truth?

Are you willing to spend time praying for and loving someone who may not act loving toward you in return?

Perhaps even daring to hope sounds too painful to you at the moment – I’ve been there before, too, friend.

Are you searching for marriage encouragement? It's possible to find hope for your marriage, and we want to make that easier through this free ebook! The authors understand what a burden a troubled marriage relationship can be, but they also know the power of God's redeeming work.  Christian wife, hope for marriage, troubled marriage, difficult marriage, marriage problems, marriage encouragement, strong marriage, healthy marriage, god-centered marriage, godly wife, good wife

Yet our Father redeemed those broken places for me, and He desperately wants to do the same for you.

My friend Rebekah Hallberg and I have spent the last year writing about marriage and family life for each other’s blogs, attempting to share our stories that they might encourage women from all walks of life who really want to stay married but are weary of the struggle, women who have nearly lost hope.

We’ve been working for the last month or so to bring you a gift, a marriage resource that will hep you find renewed hope for your marriage. What we ended up with exceeded even our own expectations!

We firmly believe that God wants to use these words to encourage wives across the globe to persevere when it comes to having a marriage that lasts.

Are you searching for marriage encouragement? It's possible to find hope for your marriage, and we want to make that easier through this free ebook! The authors understand what a burden a troubled marriage relationship can be, but they also know the power of God's redeeming work.  Christian wife, hope for marriage, troubled marriage, difficult marriage, marriage problems, marriage encouragement, strong marriage, healthy marriage, god-centered marriage, godly wife, good wife

 

Our book, Hope for the Hurting Wife, is a devotional that will meet you right where you are at and gently lead you toward the only hope that has the power to transform your marriage.

Here’s what you’ll find inside:

  • personal stories from women who understand the struggle
  • evidence that you are not alone
  • comfort and encouragement from God’s Word
  • practical steps to take
  • resources for further help
  • bonus content

Our hope is that God can use our painful pasts to bring new life to other married women.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. 2 Cor. 2:3-5

There is hope for your marriage if you are willing to seek it!

Jen :)

To join a community of women determined to cling to hope for their marriages, sign up below! We’ll send you a monthly newsletter with helpful articles, encouraging words, and free resources. :)

Join the community of hopeful wives today!

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3 Fears to Overcome When You’re Feeling Stuck

Sometimes I avoid writing just like I avoid prayer and time with the Lord. I know why I do it. I avoid these things because I’m feeling ashamed or unworthy. I avoid because I’m afraid I might not like what the Lord has to say about my wishes or my needs or my complaints.

I avoid because it’s easier than trying to change.

Do you ever do it, friend? Do you ever run like Jonah in the opposite direction? Do you hide away from the Lord like Adam and Eve and hope He won’t notice your absence?

Honestly, the last thing I felt like doing was praying this morning because I knew I had some confessing to do. The second-to-last thing I felt like doing was writing to you all because I know I’ve messed up, blown it, wasted valuable time, and squandered opportunities.

It’s the worst feeling in the world – feeling stuck – wanting to change, yet feeling like you can’t.

Last year, I set some big goals for myself, but to be honest, I only did so half-heartedly, and I failed to fully reach a few of them. I’ve always been resistant to goal-setting, a sort of inner rebellion against holding myself accountable. Lately, I’ve spent a lot of time pondering why.

Why am I, a planner by nature, so opposed to making plans for reaching specific goals?

Why do I avoid the very process that could help me when I’m feeling stuck?

As I was praying this morning, I realized there are several fears that are holding me back from my God-given success story (because He is in the business of changing lives, after all), and I wonder if they just might be holding you back, too, friend.

Fear. It keeps us feeling stuck, unable to move, to change, to succeed. Overcoming these 3 fears will help you move toward the goals you are desperate to reach!

These three fears will keep us feeling stuck if we let them!

1. Fear of failure

If I set real, specific goals, then I’m taking the chance that I might fail, and failure is a perfectionist’s worst nightmare. We literally dream about it sometimes. The easy and safe path is to avoid setting goals at all, or to set vague goals so that we can partially achieve. What it really comes down to is an all-or-nothing mindset that fails to recognize the imperfect progress that I write about so often here.

2. Fear of self

Listen, friends, I know my own heart. I know there is this part of me that wants to achieve success so that I will look good to others. I know there is a part of me that wants success for selfish, unspiritual reasons. How do I keep fleshly pride at bay?

What if I set real, specific goals and then realize they were really my plans and not the Lord’s? I’ll have wasted all of that time, and I’ll be out of God’s will. Now, some of you may be chuckling at me at this point, but this is and has been a real fear of mine from a young age! It’s part of a perfectionist’s nature to do anything to avoid being wrong, and that plays into my spiritual life and some of yours, as well, I’m sure.

3. Fear of the hard work

If I spend time asking the Lord what He wants from me this next year, He might ask me to do things that seem way too hard! What if He asks me to uproot my entire family, or uproot our ministry, or do something really hard for a food-addicted person like me – give up sugar?!!

The truth is you and I might fail.

We might get it wrong to begin with, or we might convince ourselves the work is too difficult and give up part way through. There is no guarantee of success, no promise of perfect achievement, at least not in this lifetime.

So why take the risk?

Because the alternative is remaining stuck.

I don’t know about you, but I’m sick and tired of feeling stuck.

I’m fed up.

I’m ready for real and lasting change.

I’m determined not to let the enemy’s lies hold me down any longer because I fall short of perfection. For several years now, I’ve been writing about looking for progress, yet somewhere along the line, I fell for the lie that it’s all or nothing all over again.

And as sad as I am about that, it’s okay, it really is. It’s okay because…

Grace.

Grace is what allows us to grab on to the rescue rope. Grace reminds us that when we can’t pull ourselves up, He promises not to let go. Grace teaches us to let our Father do the heavy lifting so that our burden will be light!

Those fears we have when we’re feeling stuck? They’ll still be there.

They’ll sneak back up on us late at night when we lay down to sleep. They’ll plague us when we slip back into old habits. They’ll whisper, “You can’t do it.”

The enemy of our souls seeks to devour us, but we can be protected if we’ll just put on our spiritual armor and choose to do battle in faith.

You and I? We must choose to believe the promise of God’s Word that greater is He who is in us than he who is in the world. That we are more than conquerors in Christ. That even when we can’t, He can! And most importantly, that He loves us still.

He loves us still.

I don’t have all of the answers when it comes to setting goals, friend, but I know the One who does, and I trust that even if we set the wrong goals, even if we fail miserably, even if pride gets in the way, He will set us straight.

If we choose to walk hand-in-hand with Him, rather than running like Jonah or hiding like Adam and Eve, we can be confident in our direction.

Let’s get unstuck together.

Jen :)

P.S.  If you’re ready for change that really lasts, my friend Arabah Joy has created a workshop called Grace Goals for goal setting that is biblically based (affiliate).  It’s one of the things I appreciate about her most – her material is always doctrinally sound and rooted in scripture. The second-best thing I like about Arabah Joy is that she keeps her products affordable, too. ;)

If you’re tired of feeling stuck, the first step to getting unstuck is to make a real plan for change!

Are you frustrated and feeling stuck? Did you fail to meet last year's goals? Or perhaps you're not sure where to start in setting goals for next year?  Grace Goals is a biblical approach to goal setting that can take the fear right out of planning for success!

Here’s what the printable Grace Goals workbook will assist you with:

  • Identifying the key area God wants you to take possession of
  • Setting practical, godly goals to take your promised land
  • Developing a doable, personal plan for change
  • Learning why grace is the enablement you need
  • Recognizing and appropriating grace in your daily life

Let today be the day of your fresh start!

If this year wasn't quite what you planned, then you need a fresh start!  Learn how to set goals by using this biblical approach. Experience the transforming power of allowing God to lead your efforts!

 

Sharing with: Grace and Truth

 

When You Just Want to Be Left Alone

The truth is, I just wanted to be left alone. After all, we weren’t getting along, we were bickering about everything – or so it seemed, and the last thing I wanted was to have to spend time with him. I didn’t want his usual greeting of a hug and kiss. I just wanted him to go away.

As I watched him walk away, shoulders drooped due to my cold shoulder, I felt a twinge of guilt and remorse. Then I remembered the stress he’d caused me, the fear he’d brought into our home, and I pushed the guilt aside. This mess was his fault, and he needed to fix it.

It wasn't someone or something else separating my husband and me. It wasn't another man or woman, it wasn't job stress, or even distance. It was me...   The Time I Just Wanted to Be Left Alone

Sadly, this has happened too many times in my marriage.

I was the one doing the damage that is warned against in Mark 10:9 –

Therefore, what God has joined together, let no one separate.

It wasn’t someone or something else separating my husband and me. It wasn’t another man or woman, it wasn’t  job stress, a crazy boss, or even distance. It was me.

I was letting the enemy come between us through bitterness that I was letting take root in my heart.

One day, out of the blue, my husband texted me to ask if we could start praying together. I was confused because we do pray together.

He listed a few things that he wanted to begin praying about, together, intentionally.

I took my time answering because…I wanted to be left alone.

I wanted to just ignore his request and wallow in my own feelings.

But that’s the thing about a covenant relationship – God gently and lovingly reminded me of my part of the commitment while I sat there telling Him about how my husband broke his part of the commitment.

Despite all that happened, I firmly believe God called me to stay in my marriage, to see my husband get the necessary help he needs, to champion redemption inside these four walls.

And that’s why I had to check my attitude. I could not continue to let the enemy weasel his way into the marriage that I was fighting for. I couldn’t write about redemption and then stand in the way of it.

Despite my feelings, regardless of the fact that I really just wanted to be left alone, I picked up my phone and responded to my husband.

Yes, I will pray with you.
Yes, we’ll pray specifically for the things that you want to pray for.
And yes, we’ll move forward trusting God together.

In order for our marriage to grow together, and actually in order for any marriage to move forward, we have to set self aside. We have to be looking out for the best for our spouse and for our marriage.

I’m thankful for the Lord’s conviction in my life, to gently remind me that selfishness really isn’t going to get me anywhere. Even though I wanted to be left alone, even though I set up barriers to connecting with my husband, the Lord gently worked in our hearts to draw us back together.

Friends, if the Lord is working in your heart in this manner, trust me when I say that it’s better choosing His way. Set aside your feelings, even just for a moment, and let Him work in your heart.

 

Rebekah M. HallbergRebekah has been completely overwhelmed by the grace and mercy of the Lord in her life. He has proven His faithfulness in every area of her life, especially in her marriage. She has come to understand the power of redemption and God’s work in her own marriage. Her goal is to be Sharing Redemption’s Stories – encouraging wives who are praying for redemption in their marriage.

What If God Actually Answered My Prayers?

His words caught me totally by surprise. I looked up from what I was doing to be sure I’d heard him. My husband has never been very definitive about anything, especially pertaining to our marriage, so his matter-of-fact response caught me off guard.

My husband and I have had a rough few years. We’ve had legal, financial and marital issues, to name just a few. The trauma we’ve dealt with has been almost unbearable. My husband has had to deal with some very difficult issues, and while we’ve tried to navigate them together, ultimately they have been his demons to wrestle while I prayed.

I was frustrated at where we were in our relationship – seemingly stuck. The struggles that we faced took us on very different roads than I ever intended. Navigating them has not been easy for me.

I think I said something like, “I don’t like where we are. I want to feel like we’re moving forward. I want to feel unstuck.”

He answered that we won’t be in this position forever. I won’t always feel stuck. No, someday this will be behind us.

“You want to move forward? Then we start today. We start here. We may not know where we are going to end up, but we can start right here and move forward together.”

Friends, I have prayed for this moment. I have prayed for my husband to step into the position to want to lead our family, our marriage.

And there I stood, surprised, uncertain, not sure what to do.

What if…

What if God actually answered my prayers?

His words startled me. Could be be that God actually answered my prayer?

The world is so quick to speak their “truths” into our lives:

You’re not good enough.
Your prayer is too big to get answered.
Your relationship is too broken.
Your God isn’t big enough.

Even those 4 lies right there – they’re huge. We’ve all probably heard them (or a variety of them) at some point.

But what does God do?

God calls us out.

God calls us out – He makes us holy, set apart.

In Exodus 3:5, God called to Moses from the burning bush.

“Do not come any closer,” God said. “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.”

And in Joshua 5:15, the commander of the Lord’s army met Joshua near Jericho.

The commander of the Lord’s army replied, “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did so.

When God is ready to use us, when He answers our prayers and prepares us for what’s ahead, He will set us apart for His purpose.

We may not see a burning bush, and we may not talk with the commander of the Lord’s army, but that doesn’t diminish God’s work in our lives! God’s power to work is as strong whether we have a Damascus road experience, or whether we’re struck by the words of our husband.

God is not finished with my marriage. He still has a plan for us. He is answering my prayers for my marriage in ways I can’t even believe.

What are you praying for today? How can we be praying with you?

We will pray, but friends, I ask you to pray, believing.

 

Rebekah M. HallbergRebekah has been completely overwhelmed by the grace and mercy of the Lord in her life. He has proven His faithfulness in every area of her life, especially in her marriage. She has come to understand the power of redemption and God’s work in her own marriage. Her goal is to be Sharing Redemption’s Stories – encouraging wives who are praying for redemption in their marriage.

4 Ways to Overcome the Post-argument Hangover

If you’ve been married for any length of time, you’ve probably experienced it – the all-day-long fight. You know, the one you just can’t seems to resolve, the one that leaves you nearly breathless and emotionally spent.

And even when you do manage to see each other’s point of view, even when you reconcile with I’m sorrys and Forgive mes, you’re left with all of these leftover ugly feelings inside. You’re still grieving the fact that you argued to begin with. You might even be nursing a few wounds even as you make up your mind to forgive.

Have you experienced this phenomenon, friends? The post-argument hangover can leave you feeling stuck, unable to move on if you let it. It keeps you mired right where the Enemy wants you.

What we need is a gameplan to help us overcome!

4 Ways to Overcome the Post-argument Hangover

1. Remember who you are in Christ.

Now that the fight has been resolved and you are right with one another and right with God, you’ll still have those leftover human emotions and hormones flooding your body. The Enemy is sure to sieze this opportunity to envelop you with debilitating guilt – the kind that leaves you feeling stuck and unable to move on.  The kind of guilt that calls you a bad wife. The kind of guilt that tells you your arguing is ruining your children. The kind of guilt that whispers you’ll never change. The guilt that leaves you feeling hopeless and helpless.

Arm yourself with truth from the Word and fight to claim your status as beloved daughter of the King, holy and blameless before God because of the blood of Jesus, a work-in-progress woman who isn’t finished yet.

“Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies;  who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?” Rom. 8:33-35 (NASB)

It’s not the end of the story, friend. The Enemy has no right to accuse you any longer! Remembering your birthright gives you the weapon you need to defeat that post-argument hangover.

Click here to follow me over to my friend Rebekah Hallberg’s blog for the three remaining ways to overcome the post-argument hangover!

You argued with your husband...again... but then you reconciled. So why do you still feel defeated inside? Learn how to overcome the post-argument hangover emotions that keep you from experiencing victory. 4 Ways to Overcome the Post-argument Hangover

 

3 Ways to Prepare My Heart to Submit

If you’ve been in Christian circles long enough, you know there’s a word that is certain to stir up mixed feelings, wild emotions, opposing points of views, and general frustration. There are some who try to live by the intent of the word, and there are others who immediately put up a wall when you mention the word. I want to look at that word, but maybe from a different level. But give me a fair chance, please – don’t just close the post when you read the word, okay?

Submission.

Even though I know how divisive this word is, I want to share about it from my own perspective. You’re welcome to agree, disagree, comment with your feelings, but I’d like you to hear what I have to say.

I approach this word with a good deal of hesitation. If you were to look at my life, if you knew my full story, you would have every right to say, “Why do you even want to consider submitting to your husband?”

So here’s the honest truth: On any given day, I don’t want to consider submitting to my husband.

Given all that has happened in my life, I’d like to just continue going through our mess, simply trying to get to the other side. But God keeps placing this word – one that divides even within the church – onto my heart.

Perhaps you’ve seen a picture like this before:

How can a husband and wife draw closer to each other? Only by drawing closer to God!

The point of this image is that a husband and wife draw closer to one another as they draw closer to God.

What has happened in my marriage is that we’ve struggled with selfishness, with our own desires. This has done the exact opposite of drawing us closer to each other. It’s pulled us away from each other and away from God.

Over the past couple of years, as we’ve intentionally tried to get our relationship and marriage right with each other and the Lord, we’re starting to look a little more like this triangle.

My husband has worked hard to correct issues in his past and is working hard to be the leader in our home.

Which brings me back to needing to look at the word submission.

How do you submit to another person, particularly your husband, especially when things have gone badly?

Here’s what I’ve learned, very simply:

If I want to do what God’s calling me to do, I need to remember that the situations I find myself in are an opportunity to honor Him.

When my husband and I are having a discussion and God whispers, “You need to submit,” it’s often God’s gentle way of trying to draw my own heart closer to His (God’s) heart.

God is trying to get me in line, and at the same time, He’s working in my husband’s heart to continue to learn to lead our family.

I don’t view submission as my husband ruling over me, lording his power over our marriage. My husband doesn’t treat his role as the leader in that manner either.

Rather, we both view the concept of submission as getting our hearts in line with the Lord, and letting Him gently lead us and grow our relationship as He desires.

For me, the concept of submission – even when I really don’t want to – means that I’m choosing to honor God first and foremost, by following His instruction to follow my husband.

So how do I get my heart to want to submit, especially when my husband has not always been the best leader and has let me down in some pretty big ways?

"Submission" is a divisive word, yet something we're called to do. Here are 3 ways I prepare my heart to submit.

1. Get Alone With God.

I say “get alone” because time alone with God in this kind of situation almost always requires an intentional choice on my part. Often these opportunities to submit don’t come at the most convenient times. They often arise at chaotic times when I have a lot going on, so I need to intentionally choose to get alone with God.

These are times when I share my heart with the Lord. I tell Him my feelings, the situation from my perspective, and then I try to listen. The Lord loves to hear from us, but He loves when we listen as well.

Struggling? Make time to get alone with the Lord, talk to Him and listen to what He says.

2. Open God’s Word.

No, I’m not going to suggest you read the passages on wives submitting to their husbands. Not at all.

Instead, I’d rather encourage you to go to your favorite passages, your “go-to” verses for when you need reminders of God’s faithfulness. You see, God’s giving us another opportunity to trust Him, and if you’re at all like me, you need the reminder that He is faithful – no matter what – more than you need the reminder to submit to your husband.

Not sure where to start? Here are a couple of my favorites:
Jude 24,25, Psalm 91

3. Remember That No One Is Perfect.

Oh yes – this one. There are times when my husband will suggest something, or let me know what we’re going to do.

A recent example:
Our fridge started making some noise. He started at step one – identify the problem – and worked up to calling the company and scheduling a technician to come out to check the fridge. Unfortunately, things don’t always work out the way my husband plans, and I hesitate to go with his plans.

But – how am I going to see God’s faithfulness (step #2) if I keep getting in the way? If I’m going to ask God to remind me of His faithfulness, then I need to let God work, right? I need to get myself and my ideas, my preconceived notions of how things will go, out of the way.

How bad would it be if my husband was wrong about how he handled the situation? Am I willing to give up my own “need to be right” to let my husband lead?

He’s not perfect, he may in fact be wrong. But I’m not perfect either. In fact, I’m often wrong.

It’s important for me to keep in mind that while God is working in my heart, He’s also working in my husband’s heart. When I am wrong, my husband is so gracious and gentle, and I need to treat him with the same respect that he freely gives to me.

**********

I think we often get hung up on submission as us being less than, not as important as, our husband. Friends, nothing is farther from the truth. God hasn’t asked us to submit because our husbands are better than us, or more important than us.

I believe He asks us, as the brides, to submit to our husbands so that our heart can grow to learn to submit to Christ – the bridegroom of the church.

I would love to hear your thoughts and encouragement on this topic. Feel free to comment here at Jen’s blog, or hop over to my blog and leave your thoughts as well.

 

Rebekah M. Hallberg

Rebekah has been completely overwhelmed by the grace and mercy of the Lord in her life. He has proven His faithfulness in every area of her life, especially in her marriage. She has come to understand the power of redemption and God’s work in her own marriage. Her goal is to be Sharing Redemption’s Stories – encouraging wives who are praying for redemption in their marriage.

The Secret to Being a Warrior Wife

He shuffled into the living room, shoulders slumped, and with a great sigh lowered himself to the couch.  His clothes bore the marks of a man who worked hard for a living.

He could barely meet my gaze, as if he were somehow lacking or not enough.  I knew he needed my compassion and encouragement, but instead of sympathy, I felt only frustration.

After all, I thought, I’m working hard in this season, too. I’m weary, too. What do I have left to offer? It feels like too much, and I have nothing left to give.

Besides, he’s a grown man. I’m busy caring for children and our home all day long, on top of the demands of work and ministry roles that I am responsible for. If I can keep myself going, why can’t he keep himself going?

And just like that I missed the opportunity to be a warrior wife.

Have you ever been so caught up in the busyness and stress of life that you forget who you are or who you were created to be, friend?

Especially as a writer and pastor’s wife, I struggle with balancing my family and home life with the demands of ministry life. Without realizing it, I begin to neglect important relationships because I’m “just so busy.”

I become task-oriented rather than people-oriented, a slave to the to-do list rather than a Spirit-led woman.

And it’s downright frustrating how quickly and easily I slip into this mode of doing rather than being!

We get so caught up in busy schedules and who we think we are supposed to be that we forget our primary purpose. Don't make the mistake of leaving your husband without the helper he really needs. Being a warrior wife is not just a role... The Secret to being a Warrior Wife

At a recent women’s conference, I received a wake-up call from the Lord. One speaker in particular, Dana James, reminded us of who we are created to be as daughters of the one true King in relation to our husbands.

Dana shared with us that God designed us to be “helpers” from the very beginning.

“Then the Lord God said, ‘It is not good for man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.’ ” Gen. 2:18

Yes, I know we’ve all heard this verse before. Our job is to help, right? That’s our God-given “role,” right?

Wrong!

Dana drew our attention to the original language, which uses the Hebrew word ezer (pronounced ay-zer).  The word ezer is used 21 times in the Old Testament, but the majority of those uses are in reference to God himself, His character.  In such cases, the word ezer is used in connection with words like shield, sword, deliverer, mighty, and hope.

 Thus, ezer refers to the warrior aspect of God’s character – the One who fights on our behalf, our Shield and Defender, our Rescue.

As I looked further into the meanings attached to this word and its definitions, I found connotations of assistance or aid, especially in times of suffering or distress.  It means relief given to someone in need, removing or reducing something that is painful, unpleasant, or even oppressive!

And this very same word ezer is used to describe a helper suitable for Adam.

Do you see what this means for us, my sisters in Christ?

When the Lord God chose to create woman, He instilled in her very character the properties of this ezer. He created us to be warrior women, warrior wives, who will bravely fight spiritual battles on behalf of our husbands, who will provide aid and relief to the men in our lives who are worn down and discouraged by the demands of this earthly life.

Here’s the rub: I think we all know this intuitively and most of us truly desire to live this out.

But sometimes it feels like a whole lot of work that we have no strength to do, doesn’t it?

So when I saw my hard-working husband down and out on a day when I was already in that weighed-down place myself, I chose to look the other way. I chose to put my needs first.

I left him without his ezer, his helper.

It was a selfish choice that I’m ashamed to say I make often when I’m already stressed.  And I wonder, why do I make this choice?  What is it that feels so hard about being a warrior wife? What secret am I missing?

 

The secret to being a warrior wife lies in our perspective.

“It’s who we are, not a role we play!” ~ Dana James

When I see being a warrior wife as a job I need to do, it’s easy for me to let it slide on the days when I’m worn out or discouraged. It’s easy for me to call it “too hard.”  But when I see being a warrior wife as part of my very identity, as a reflection of God’s character that comes not from trying harder, but from yielding to the Spirit, then I’m left with no excuses.

It is who I am called to be in Christ, and it’s who you are called to be in Christ, too, friend. Don’t leave your husband without the helper he really needs.

You were created for this and in Christ, you are equipped for this.

Let’s be warrior wives who fight the right kind of battles, not against our husbands, but for them.

Let’s do battle on our knees and in our war rooms against the real enemy.

Let’s choose to aid rather than to ignore.

Be an ezer. Fight!

Jen :)

*Much of the content for this post came from Dana James’s talk “Being a Very Strong Helper” at Tranfsormed 2016 (Central Conference) and was used with permission from Dana herself.  If you’d like to connect more with Dana, she writes at The Prime Rib, a website for minister’s wives in Tennessee.

For a practical take on how to encourage a discouraged husband (and how NOT to), try this one from Club 31 Women.

Recommended resources for being a warrior wife:

       

Sharing with: Grace and Truth