3 Ways to Fight for Joy in a Difficult Marriage

When a marriage relationship is difficult, finding joy in the midst of painful moments feels nearly impossible.

How can we possibly experience real joy in the face of real suffering?

Ongoing marriage problems can wear a wife down to a place of discouragement and grief. The burden often feels too heavy to bear. Even women who are determined to be warrior wives, who fight for marriage like only women of faith can, who fight for joy in everyday moments, feel the weight of the battle for their marriage.

Where is joy when you’re weary and in need of rest?

Here are 3 Biblical Ways to Reclaim Joy in a Difficult Marriage

  1. Recognize progress.

One strategy Satan uses often to discourage me in a rough patch is the sneaky little lie that my marriage will always be difficult. He tries to convince me and you, too, that things will never change.

If you believe that you are doomed to repeat the same mistakes, to remain stuck in the same destructive patterns, then where is your hope? What motivation do you have to keep working toward a healthy marriage?

Do you see how that works, friend? Believing those lies saps us of our strength!

Fight back against the Enemy’s lies and reclaim your hope and joy in the Lord by learning how to recognize progress.

Yes, maybe today even basic communication felt like nails on a chalkboard, but was it as bad as a few months ago? How about a few years ago?

Ask the Lord to help you see the ways in which your marriage relationship is changing, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant. Claim the promise of Philippians 1:6 for yourself, and if your husband is a believer, then claim it for him, too.

Quit believing the lie that your marriage is forever doomed, and fight for joy!

Please join me over at the Reclaiming Joy in Marriage online marriage event to read the rest of this article! Here you’ll find 31 days of marriage encouragement from a variety of writers – all for FREE!

Jen :)

3 Biblical ways to fight for joy in a difficult marriage

When It Is Hard to Believe Jesus

My Good friend and fellow writer, Aimee Imbeau is joining us with these words today:

She was shocked by my words. And a little frightened. If it could happen to me, it could happen to anyone. That was her understanding, anyway. Probably because I was known for my strong faith.

Friends would say, “When Aimee prays, things happen”. Well, nothing was happening now. In fact, I believed that God was purposely choosing to ignore me.

Yeah, I knew He could help me. He could easily change my circumstances. Making things better would be super easy for Him. It wasn’t that I did not believe He couldn’t. I believed He didn’t want to. Maybe this is something that sounds familiar to you today. Perhaps you just don’t know what to do When It’s Hard To Believe Jesus. If so, you are in the right place.

Not believing Jesus is a very difficult season to be in, friend. It’s even harder when you try to explain how you are feeling and no one seems to understand. They seem to think you are the creator of your circumstances and you have the power to change if you only…

  • Read your Bible more
  • Trust God more
  • Have more faith
  • Just try harder
  • Suck it up
  • That’s life
  • God gives and God takes away
  • Keep praying

It’s like it is entirely up to us and our efforts to believe. And it is entirely our fault if we find it hard to believe. The trite advice is not only unhelpful, but also potetnially damaging.

If we only realized the truth, then maybe these seasons of life would be just a little bit smoother. Maybe we wouldn’t be so hard on ourselves. We would stop believing that we have failed or that there is something wrong with us. Perhaps we would begin to understand that it is in these challenging seasons that our faith is built up.

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Losing My Faith

When I believed that God was holding out on me, I thought I was actually losing my faith. The truth was that my faith was weak – not as strong as people had thought – or what I thought. God wanted me to have an unmovable, unshakable faith. And in order to do that, the old faith had to go. The process took time, but I can tell you now that my faith today is much more mature. Our God is in the business of rebuilding, renovating, and re-purposing our faith. Trust Him in this process. It might look messy as any renovation does, but the end result will be beautiful.

If you are struggling with your faith, trust that He is rebuilding it.

Be Careful What You Believe

There was a popular Christian saying that went something like, “If you feel far from God, guess who moved“. I thought maybe, somehow, I inadvertently moved away from Him. I wasn’t sure how I did it – maybe I didn’t study my Bible enough or pray longer prayers. It took me a while, but eventually, I came to see just how unbiblical that statement was. So often, we hear these things that sound good but simply aren’t true. But they influence our faith, and not for the better. We need to be very careful with whom we listen to, whom we believe.

If you are struggling with your faith, be careful whom you believe.

Not A Surprise To God

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God knew we would struggle with our faith. He knew we would have seasons where believing Him would be difficult for us. He expected this. That’s why He had John write his gospel account. The whole purpose of the book of John is for us to strengthen our faith and belief in Jesus.

Did you know that?

God loves us so much that He took the necessary steps to help us believe Him at His word.

God knew we’d struggle so the book of John was to confirm and secure Christians in our faith. He has given us what we need to build up our faith in Him.

Our God is so good to have done this for us.

If you are struggling with your faith, read the book of John and believe.

The Truth

As I matured in my faith and God rebuilt my trust in Him, I began to see the truth. My faith was not dependent upon how I was feeling or on my circumstances. In fact, it had nothing to do with me at all. My faith has everything to do with Him. He promises to never leave me nor forsake me (Deuteronomy 31:6, Hebrews 13:5). He promises to hear and answer my prayers (Psalm 139:1-4, 1 John 5:14-15, 2 Chronicles 7:14, Jeremiah 29:12). And He has good and wonderful plans for me (Jeremiah 29:11, Ephesians 1:18, Mark 10:29-30, Philippians 1:6). What a relief it is that I don’t have to strive or work harder to maintain my faith. I just have to choose Him.

I’d like to leave you with Natalie Grant’s new song, More Than Anything. May her words speak deep into your heart today.

If this is a topic you want more guidance in, I have written a study on the book of John called Believe. This study includes video, worksheets, charts, verse cards, Bible reading challenge, and more.

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Photo 2 MEAimee is a home educating support teacher who lives in the sunny Okanagan, BC. Aimee has been blissfully married since 1998 and she still swoons at the sight of her tall, dark and handsome husband, Marcus. When she isn’t home educating her 3 kids, she enjoys sewing, quilting, scrapbooking, baking, writing and hanging out with her family. Aimee is a certified teacher who works from home, supporting and encouraging homeschool families. She blogs over at A Work of Grace. You can find her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram.

 

 

For the Wife Who’s Not in Love Anymore

I’m just not in love anymore.

It’s a phrase we hear often enough, a phrase that’s no longer attached to any one generation in particular. In fact, wives who have been married for decades are just as likely to utter these words as those who’ve only been married a short time.

I’m not in love anymore.

I’m sure the words pain you as much as they pain me because I remember a time when the same thought reverberated through my heartstrings.

Yes, me, a pastor’s wife who once upon a time fell madly in love with an enthusiastic young youth minister, only to quickly learn that marriage wasn’t all happily-ever-after wedded bliss.

We struggled off and on for the better part of a decade before learning how to consistently enjoy being married to each other!

But I’m not in love anymore, and my husband isn’t in love with me either, what else can I possibly do? 

Personally, I have some strong feelings about those words because I have learned that real love, true love is a choice, not a feeling – despite what our me-first culture would have us believe.

However, let’s set aside my personal feelings for now and dive right into what the Word of God has to say on the issue.

6 Essential Scriptures about Love:

1. According to scripture, our hearts are deceitful. We cannot trust the feeling of being not in love anymore.

Feelings come and go, sometimes without rhyme or reason, so we cannot trust our hearts to lead us in God’s ways. Instead, we must rely on what we know to be true, and we find such truth in His Word.

The heart is deceitful above all thing and beyond cure.
    Who can understand it?” Jeremiah 17:9 (NIV)

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2. God’s Word reveals that loving each other isn’t an option, it’s a command!

Whether or not we feel like loving our spouses, God expects us to love them in our choices.

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35 (NIV)

3.  According to the Bible, agape love is the kind of love that sacrifices self in favor of another.

Jesus gave us the greatest example of agape love at the cross.

We are to follow Jesus’ example in living out that kind of sacrificial love. Agape love might be as simple as making a meal for your spouse, or ironing his clothes, or as difficult as keeping silent even when a spouse is wrong.

“My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”  John 15:12-13 (NIV)

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16

So how do we know what God expects from us in living out agape love? After all, no one wants to be a doormat!

We must abide in Him and be sensitive to the Spirit, who will guide us when conflicts arise.

The next time the Spirit nudges you to do that kind thing for a loved one, pay attention and choose to obey even if you don’t feel like it!

4. The infamous love chapter (1 Corinthians 13) reminds us that God has high standards for what real love looks like.

According to these verses, we can be obedient in so many other areas, but without love, all of those good works are meaningless!

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.            1 Corinthians 13:1-3 (NIV)

5. God’s Word claims that if we don’t love others, then we don’t really know God – ouch!

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 1 John 4:7-8 (NIV)

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6. We are capable of loving others (even when we don’t feel like it) because Christ loved us first!

Sometimes we’re tempted to doubt this truth. We wrongly believe that we cannot love our spouses, when in fact, we have all power to do just that in Christ!

We love because he first loved us. 1 John 4:19 (NIV)

Even when the loving feelings just aren’t there, we can choose to act on the very real love that flows from Jesus.

We choose love out of gratefulness for what Christ has done for us.

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After all, I’m not perfect, and neither are you, yet Christ loved us at our very worst when we were unlovable, unworthy, enslaved to sin. We can and should demonstrate that same Christ-like love toward our spouses, even when they’re wrong, even when they are at their worst.

Friends, I know biblical love is not an easy standard to live up to. I fail so often in my own life!

I know the frustration of living in a broken marriage. I know the despair of feeling like things will never change.

I know the sorrow of feeling I’m not in love anymore.

But I also know the joy of seeing the Father change my own heart, as well as my husband’s heart. I know the joy of renewed hope.

I even know the joy of rekindled feelings when we got to the sweet spot of marriage, the “for better” that waited for us on the other side of the “for worse.”

So you’re not in love anymore – that may be true.

Your feelings may have changed, but God’s Word is clear:  love is a command, a choice, and the power to love comes not from our feelings but from Christ alone.

Let me encourage to choose love today, and when you do, may you reap the rewards that are promised!

Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him. James 1:12 (NIV)

Above all, don’t give up hope that your marriage can change. Let that change begin with you.

As my gift to you to encourage you along those lines, I’m offering the lovely printable below to all subscribers! Just fill in your information and look for your confirmation email (be sure to check the spam folder if you don’t see it right away).

Please remember that you are not alone, my friend. Fellow warrior wives have lived in these same trenches and have won the battle for healthy marriage by God’s design. And the Lord your God is with you in all things!

Jen :)

For further reading: I Didn’t Want My Husband Anymore

Christ-like Love is no easy feat! Let these scriptures encourage you to have a right perspective on what real love looks like. Bible verses|verses about love|Christian women| Bible study| devotional|what the Bible says about Love| free printable|Christian marriage|marriage encouragement

 

 

 


How to Seek Peace in the Holiday Hustle

I stared at the half-dangling greenery, feeling frustrated and overwhelmed.

Laundry waited to be washed, presents waited to be purchased and wrapped.

My work schedule was full and our family calendar even more full.

I wanted this Christmas to be different than last year’s holiday. I wanted to really savor the season, but I felt like I was failing.

Where was the peace I longed for?

How was I missing it? Where was I going wrong?

Because the overwhelming emotion ruling my heart lately was an awful lot of stress.

Like the world before Christ’s birth, I felt the reality of “sin and error, pining.”

Between book writing, and client work, and church-planting, and home life, it often seems like there just aren’t enough hours in a day.

But I need some peace.

I need to savor this season because I’ve had oh-so-many reminders this year, friends, that our time here on earth is short, our days and hours and minutes never guaranteed.

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And as our oldest son prepares to head out into the world, I feel that reality all the more keenly.

So, how do we make the most of Christmas without becoming burdened and overwhelmed?

How do we truly seek peace without creating additional stress by adding another thing to the to-do list ?

4 Meaningful Ways to Find Peace in the Holiday Hustle

1. We put first things first for peace in the holiday hustle.

When I feel overwhelmed, I can often pinpoint one of the root causes as a lack of consistent quiet time. Whenever my calendar gets too full, my time with Jesus often becomes less and less. This is a reality we must guard against, friends.

We may even be tempted to justify spending less time in His presence because we’re spending time doing advent activities with our family, attending extra church services, and so forth.

Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. John 15:4

Truthfully, nothing can take the place of that one-on-one time with Emmanuel, the God who came to be with us.

We’re literally starving our souls when we neglect this most important relationship, and we will reap the fruit of that neglect in our lives. Stress, lack of motivation, discontent, worry, impatience – all can be indicators of a spiritual problem.

A return to right priorities goes a long way toward helping us regain peace in the holiday hustle!

2. We content ourselves with “good enough” for peace in the holiday hustle.

I know I’m preaching to the choir here, but perfect holidays don’t exist in reality.

When we fail to reign in our expectations for what a “good Christmas” entails, we set ourselves up for failure every time!

I have to continually remind myself this year that some is better than none.

Some exercise is better than no exercise.

Some Christmas baking is better than no Christmas baking.

Some advent devotions with the kids is better than no advent.

Some planning is better than no planning. You get the idea. :)

It’s all about showing yourself some grace. After all, would your husband and children rather have lots of Christmas goodies but a stressed-out, grumpy mama, or would they prefer less treats and a mama who is at peace? I can guarantee mine would choose the latter every time.

I cannot have a perfect Christmas, and neither can you, friend. Let’s just toss that impossible notion right out into the cold.

What we can have is a meaningful, peaceful Christmas, and that happens when we slow down and savor the season.

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3. We pray for peace in the holiday hustle.

It seems to me that the Enemy works overtime during the Christmas season. As we plan and prepare to celebrate Christ’s birth with our loved ones, he’s planning for our destruction.

But we need not fear his tactics, friends, because his power is limited while our God’s power is limitless. In Christ, we have the power to resist temptation, to choose peace, to choose kindness, to choose love, and all of the other fruit of the Spirit.

Ask the Father for a special covering this Christmas. I know I will be asking the same for our household – that God’s peace will rule our home, that we will be free to joyfully celebrate Jesus’ birth, that we will be free to enjoy loved ones and gift giving and delicious food, and so on.

Peace, Father, give us peace this Christmas!

I’ll be asking for all of these things that I might be able to give God the glory for the kind of supernatural peace that can only come from Him, and trusting that His peace is already ours to claim. :)

4. We seek scripture to give us peace in the holiday hustle.

I can’t tell you how often the Spirit brings a verse to mind that I’ve previously memorized just when I need it most. I’m certain you know what I mean, friends.

God’s Word brings us peace through His promises and His guidance.

So when I was thinking of you all, faithful friends and readers, and wondering what small gift I might be able to give you this Christmas, I thought of what busy women needed most during the holidays.

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Peace.

If you’re already on my subscriber list, you should have received a link to the printable below in your inbox. But if you’re new here, just fill in your information at the bottom of this article to access all of our free resources, as well as join the list for encouraging monthly newsletters.

Above all, take time to seek real peace this Christmas.

The best Peace you’ll ever find came to Earth as a mere babe thousands of years ago, just so He might know us. If you’ve never accepted the gift of His love and salvation, you can do so today. Just cry out to Jesus.

Lay down your burdens.

And let Christ give you peace.

Jen :)

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?

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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.

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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.

For When You Just Want to Give Up

It was bound to happen eventually.

I didn’t really have much experience to go on, but it felt like maybe the honeymoon was over, like maybe I just want to give up already.

Like all new ventures in life, blogging was fascinating and exciting at first.

Every page view was cherished, every comment celebrated.

Some days I would check the blog first thing in the morning and last thing before bed.  It’s the truth; I became just a tiny bit obsessed.

Maybe, just maybe, I even made an idol of it, to my shame.

Then somewhere along the line, the new thing stopped being quite so much fun and started to feel more like work, like just another burden to carry.

Sometimes I just want to give up. Let's be honest.  It happens to all of us! When the newness of things wear of, we quickly grow tired and weary. How can we avoid it? women of faith|ministry|parenting|motherhood|writing|blogging|weary woman|want to give up|encouragement|Christian women

Some people may say, it’s just a blog – let it go! But it’s not “just a blog” to me. These words are part of me that I’ve put on display for the world to see.  And there are these nifty little graphs that measure that part of me day by day by day…

And some days they just don’t measure up to what I’d like to see.

Even when they do measure up, no matter how high the bars of the graph reach, there’s this insatiable desire for more.

And the inspiration isn’t always there.

And busy schedules get in the way.

And sometimes…

I just want to give up.

Let’s be honest – it happens to all of us!

When that new baby comes home smelling so sweet, and everyone is exclaiming “how perfect”…

when that new job is so exciting that you just can’t wait to go to work, and people tell you how happy they are to have you there…

when that new ministry that you’ve been planning for and dreaming of finally comes to fruition…

when you make that purchase that you’ve been saving up for and it’s just. so. amazing….

when that mountaintop experience leads you to a faith-high that just can’t be matched…

Inevitably, a valley follows, and you just want to give up.

That perfect baby that slept so well in the hospital cries all night long, night after endless night.

That new job has its own set of challenges.  That new ministry has flaws, too.

That new purchase grows old or outdated.

Thus the mountain gives way to a valley, and those feelings that had us on cloud nine dissipate like mist burned off by the morning sun, so we wish for more.

But friends, our lives are not lived just on the mountain tops.  In fact, those mountain tops most likely add up to a very small part of our faith journey here on Earth.

The truth is that the valleys often naturally follow the mountains, not because anything has changed but because our physiology is built that way.

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Our bodies cannot sustain a constant state of “high,” so we must experience a “low” to bring us back to equilibrium.  Perhaps even more because we were not meant for this imperfect world, so we yearn for something better.

While I know that my faith isn’t meant to be built on feelings, as a woman emotions do come into play!  How often I’ve wished those pesky emotions away even though I know they serve a purpose. :)

So what’s a girl to do when she just gets a case of the blahs and the honeymoon seems to be over?

What’s a girl to do when her daily refrain becomes “I just want to give up”?

She recognizes the valley for what it is – temporary.

She remembers that she is not a citizen of this world.

She blogs/serves/works/mothers anyways because that’s what God led her to do. She loves anyways, she trusts anyways, she clings to His promises anyways, she speaks truth anyways, she leads anyways, and she hopes anyways.

She keeps seeking.

Sometimes she even stumbles and falls, and she’s so ashamed of her weakness.  But He’s right there to help her back up again.

Along the way, she learns a little more of the unfathomable depth of God’s grace.   She grows a little more confident in an overwhelming, unconditional love. She grows a little more confident in His timely provision. She grows a little more confident in the work He’s doing within her.

Because He promised that one day, one glorious day, that work would be complete (Phil. 1:6).

On that day the valleys will cease to exist.

And the mountain top lasts for all eternity.

And we see His face.

“Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”  Heb. 12:1-3

When we just want to give up, we don’t.

So we wait, like so many others before us,

And we do not lose heart.

Jen :)

How to Have Life-changing Faith

Very few of us will have a book written or a movie made about our lives. Most of us will go from day to day living out a normal (whatever that means) life with its undulating highs and lows. The vast majority of us will never have even as much as a one-column newspaper article written about the space between our birth and our death.

So, why should we be too jacked up over our legacy?

I believe the answer lies between Hebrews 10 and Hebrews 12. In Hebrews chapter 11 we find what most Christians know as God’s Hall of Faith. A beautiful recounting of the lives of God’s servants beginning with Abel and ending with nameless individuals whose acts of faith were worthy of mention in Scripture.

Check out a few:

Abel offered a sacrifice that pleased God’s heart. (11:4)

Enoch pleased God and was raptured. (11:5)

Noah acted in faith when God told him about the coming flood. (11:7)

Abraham, whew, Abraham just flat out left home and family and set out to only-God-knew-where on faith. Abe also set the bar high for obedience when he was willing to sacrifice Isaac, just because God said so. (Try that one on for size!) (11:8-12, 17-19)

Isaac, Jacob, Moses, the Israelites, Rahab, Gideon, Barak, Samson, David and so many others acted in faith and believed that God was who He said He was and that He was able to do what He said He would do.

Heart-pounding, life-changing faith.

Legacy-building, life-changing faith isn't just for the biblical heroes of old, it's for us today, too! Find out how everyday, ordinary faith leaves a godly legacy that lasts!  christian faith, godly legacy, leaving a legacy. faith legacy

 

The thing about all of the folks named in Hebrews 11 is that they were just ordinary people going about their ordinary lives doing ordinary things when God said, “Hey you!”

These people were not stained-glass saints when God called them. For heaven’s sake, Rahab was a prostitute, Moses was a murderer, and Gideon was a wimp. These were people, exactly like you and me, who had a heart set on obedience to God. They were willing to trust that God knew what He was doing and had a plan that was for their good, even when it was crazy-scary.

Heart-pounding, life-changing faith.

It is what God calls us to when we decide to set Jesus up as Lord and Savior over our lives. Jesus said that all we need is faith as tiny as a mustard seed in order to do the impossible (Matthew 17:20). Do you know how small a mustard seed is? It is teeny tiny, yet that is all the faith we need….just enough to say ‘yes’ to whatever God is calling us to, then He will add to our faith so we can do the thing in obedience.

Heart-pounding, life-changing, legacy-building FAITH.

Faith that just might one day have our portrait hanging on the walls of heaven.

Faith that might encourage someone else to use their mustard seed.

Faith that pleases the God of heaven immensely.

Faith that leaves a legacy for those who come behind us.

Where is God asking you to use your mustard seed of faith today? Share about it in the comments. I would love to pray for you.

Speaker, Author, Mentor. Bible teacher. Jesus-follower. Wife. Mom. Friend. Daughter of the King.  Leah Adams writes at leahadams.org to point others to Jesus. You can also connect with her on social media: Facebook (Leah Adams), Twitter (LeahCAdams), Instagram (leahadams64), and Pinterest (leahcadams).

*Being Confident of This makes use of affiliate links. For more information, please see the about page. Thank you for helping to support the ministry of this site!

Enter below for a chance to win a free copy of Legacy!

Leah is generously offering the readers of Being Confident of This a chance to win a free copy of her newly released Bible study, Legacy: It’s What You Leave Behind. Woohoo!

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Let me tell you why I’m excited about this study. First, I have known Leah for several years now and have witnessed her passion for reaching women for Jesus, particularly through sound teaching and lots of grace! Second, I worked closely with Leah on the design of Legacy, so I’m very familiar with the material contained within these pages – it’s meaty, grounded in scripture, and exactly the message we need to be spreading in the world today!

Leah’s book uses scripture to teach you how life-changing faith leaves a lasting legacy.

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The Dangerous Lie You Believe About Your So-called Sin

They say the most dangerous lie is that which contains a sliver of truth, just enough to make it sound good and appeal to our conscience while deftly leading us astray.

I fear some such lies have permeated Christian culture to the point that we have turned the gospel upside down, backwards, and inside out to make it mean the opposite of what it truly is. What a coup for the enemy to use God’s own well-meaning people to pervert the greatest sacrifice this world has ever seen.

What is this lie, you ask?

It’s the dangerous lie that we’re good, that we’re enough, that we somehow deserve the Savior’s love.

I’ve heard this lie before in bits and pieces, but always mixed with that sliver of truth that caused me to question, Maybe they didn’t mean that the way that it sounded…

But when those who call themselves Christ-followers begin to say things like, “Jesus wouldn’t have died for you if you weren’t good enough,” when Christian leaders deny the Word of God and call sin “acceptable,” I feel a hollow in the pit of my stomach, an ache that won’t easily be ignored.

It’s a lie, my friend, a dangerous lie that leads to a false gospel, one meant to keep you enslaved rather than freeing you to be the child of God you were created to be.

The Bible is clear that we are all sinners and deserve death (Rom. 3:23, Rom. 6:23, Rom. 3:10-12, 1 Jn. 1:8-10). This false idea that we can be good enough on our own is as old as the Garden of Eden when Adam and Even attempted to cover their shame after their disobedience.

Have you fallen for this dangerous lie about your sin? Find out the truth about how we are often deceived about our so-called sin and why it matters so much. As Christians, we should be telling the full truth about sin and the gospel.

You see, when Adam and Eve disobeyed and their eyes were opened to their own sin, they immediately felt the shame of being not good enough. They recognized their offense to a holy and righteous God, even as they busied themselves trying to cover it up.

It’s our natural tendency to downplay our sin and exaggerate whatever good we can find in ourselves. It’s our natural tendency precisely because we are imperfect beings in need of a Savior, imperfect beings who wish with our whole hearts to be good, to be special, to be loved.

The irony is that we were created for exactly that kind of relationship – to love and be loved, to walk in communion with our Father God.  So when we walk away from Him and from His ways, we find ourselves an empty, needy, downright desperate people who are stubbornly determined to prove our worth, our rightness.

You and I see and hear examples of this every day, especially in these politically and morally tumultuous times. Every one wants to be right, right?

The danger that lies in calling ourselves “good enough” is twofold: it either tempts us to deny our need for a Savior in the first place, or for those who see so clearly their own imperfections, it tempts us to embrace a works-oriented salvation by wasting this one life we have trying to “earn” a status that is freely offered.

If the lie is true and we are so good that Jesus died for us, then why would we need His death?

Why would we need Him at all?

Thus the dangerous lie inverts the gospel, turns it topsy-turvy until we begin to believe that we must somehow save ourselves.

And that’s exactly what the enemy wants us to believe, my friends. He certainly doesn’t want us to acknowledge Jesus as our Rescuer and Redeemer. He certainly doesn’t want us to experience the power of a gospel that is both redemptive and transformative in our lives.

Instead, the enemy would love to keep us focused on…well…us.

Listen closely, friend, the heart-stopping beauty of the gospel is that we. are. not. enough.

We are not good.

We are not worthy.

We are helpless sinners who offend the holiness of our Almighty God.

Yes, that is who we are at our core apart from Christ, but praise God, it doesn’t stop there.

While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. He died for us, a gruesome, painful, suffering sort of death reserved for the worst of criminals.  He laid down his life willingly because He loves us too much to leave us as we are, hopelessly enslaved by our own sin (Jn. 8:34, Gal. 5;1. Acts 13:39)

What’s so beautiful about such a horrifying death?  It’s beautiful because He sacrificed for all of us, for the worst version of us, for the hidden parts that we don’t dare show to another human being because we can barely admit to ourselves the ugliness of what lies within us.

He died even for the worst of humanity – the kind of people who do things that make us sick to our stomachs. Yes, He died for them, too.

The dangerous lie about your so-called sin doesn’t lead you or others to salvation, friend. It leads you to more of the same-old, same-old – trying to cover up the darkeness within that we don’t want anyone else to see, that we won’t even admit to ourselves.

Even we who are already in Christ fall for the dangerous lie from time to time.

We fall for the lie when we tell ourselves this one little sin won’t hurt.

We fall for the lie when we abuse grace.

We fall for the lie when we choose the world’s wisdom over God’s Holy Word.

We fall for the lie when we tell ourselves we have to earn His approval.

I’m tired of falling for this dangerous lie, and seeing others fall for it, too. How about you?

Let’s start telling the whole truth instead.

Let’s tell how great the love of Jesus is, but let’s not leave out how sinful we are. If we leave out our sin, we deny the full power of the gospel. After all, how can one save someone who doesn’t need saving?

Let’s remind each other of our position in Christ – fully loved, fully accepted, always cherished, continually pursued - but let’s make it clear that these labels are for those who have actually accepted Christ. Otherwise, we unintentionally teach others to believe what is not yet true for them.

Let’s stop teaching others to be confident in themselves and teach them to be confident in Christ instead.

Let’s not be afraid to admit the depth of our own sin because when we do, we’ll fall even more in love with the Savior who chose us first, who died for us even when we despised Him and His ways.

Let’s be willing to count ourselves a needy and desperate people, hungry for a righteousness that comes from God alone and not ourselves (Eph. 2:8-9).

Let’s quit telling dangerous lies about our so-called sin.

All because of Jesus,

Jen

Sharing with: Grace and Truth

 

What You Need to Know about Your Work-in-Progress Status

It’s Friday and you’ve survived another week, maybe even another month. Sometimes you wonder how much longer you can keep at it, how much longer you can grind your way through the hard work we call life.

And some days, the hard work defeats us, owns us, and we become less than – less of a wife, less of a mother, less of a daughter of the King, less than we truly desire to be.

We’re tempted then to blame the weariness, the dead weight we’ve been dragging for so long, on our hectic lives.

I’m just too busy.

The phrase slips into my mind so easily, yet I know it’s only a half-truth. Yes, I’ve been busy, but not just with the family schedule. My mind has been busy, too – busy with worries, thoughts, plans, dreams, and even dissatisfaction.

We’re weary women, you and me, and we long for some space to smooth down our frayed edges and quiet our souls, yet we’ve somehow lost the way.

If I’m honest, I have to admit that my biggest problem isn’t my hectic schedule, though. No – the biggest problem is that when my schedule is crazy, my perfectionism and need to control kicks into overdrive. I’m tempted to think if I just work harder and longer, then I can keep myself afloat. 

If I just do everything right….

When failure seems to dog your every step, when you feel less than, when the Enemy whispers lies about how you're not good enough, lean on these biblical truths to overcome the pull of perfectionism! Bible verse | free printable | perfectionism | Christian women | overcome | hope for perfectionists | encouragement | Bible study | devotional #perfectionism #encouragement #bibleverse #Christianwomen

Unfortunately, I’m not perfect and neither are you. No matter how hard we try, we’re bound to fail at something along the way.

And fail, I have.

I’ve been a grumpy mama and a distracted wife. I’ve offended others in my haste and frustration. I’ve neglected to connect to the only Power Source who can really keep me going in the tough times. I’ve been trying way too hard to do something I cannot possibly do on my own, and boy, is it painful!

Why do we do this to ourselves, my sisters in Christ?  Why do we expect the impossible rather than resting in what we already know to be true?

~I’m sharing three of my favorite truths to fight against the pull perfectionism over at my friend Kaylene’s blog today. It would make my day if you’d hop on over there to find out what you really need to know about your work-in-progress status (and how to get a freebie)!

 

 

Sharing with: Grace and Truth

Perfectionism is one of the Enemy's greatest tools in keeping us from our freedom in Chirst! Use these verses to fight back agains the pull of perfectionism and remind yourself of your identity in Christ. #perfectionism #bibleverse #freeprintable #Christianwomen Bible study | deovtional | free printable | identity in Christ | abundant life | freedom in Christ | overcoming perfectionism | encouragement }Christian wife | Christian mom

 

How to Overcome a Bad Day

Some days just getting started in the morning is the most difficult challenge we’ll face all day long.  It’s hard to overcome a bad day, especially when it starts out rough from the very beginning!

You know, the days when:

  • the kids wake up way too early
  • you feel overwhelmed by your to-do list
  • you didn’t get enough sleep
  • you’re so grumpy you feel out of control
  • it’s dreary outside
  • all you want to do is get back in your comfy bed and hide

Overcoming a bad day seems nearly impossible once it has already started!

What do you do when you wake up with zero motivation?

How do you get past a grumpy mood so early on in the day?

What do you do when you wake up with zero motivation?  How do you get past a grumpy mood so early on in the day? Try these 10 tips for turning a bad day around.

10 Ways to Jumpstart Your Morning (and overcome a bad day):

1. Go to bed earlier the night before! I know, I know – that’s the most obvious advice ever.   But it’s true.  When the twins were infants, I forced myself to go to bed not long after they did. I knew that if I didn’t go to bed right away, the next day would be miserable and difficult.  However, now that they are a little older, I’ve gotten out of the habit of early bedtime.  One of my work-in-progress goals is to go to bed earlier so that I can get out of bed earlier the next morning, (overcome the bad day before it even starts)!

2. Shower (or at least splash some cold water on your face). I know there are many mornings that showering first thing just isn’t an option, especially if you have little ones in the house.  I have found that on the days when I have to wait for my shower (or even go without), washing my face goes a long way toward helping my sleepy eyes stay open. The more awake I feel, the easier it is to overcome a bad day.

3. Spend time…

To read the rest, follow me over to Sharing Redemption’s Stories here!

You woke up on the wrong side of the bed this morning, and apparently the little people who live with you did, too. All you want is a few more minutes of sleep, but the to-do list beckons. How will you overcome the rough start? Try one of these 10 tips to jumpstart your morning!