Monthly Archives: February 2014

Praying for marriage, days 11-21

I have to tell you, friends, that I have been super blessed in this journey already. I believe God is honoring my desire to strengthen my own marriage and encourage my husband. God has enabled me to trust in Him to take some steps of faith in reaching out to Aaron, and every time has been beautiful. I know it’s because God is changing my heart to be thinking more of Aaron than myself, and when I act in love rather than selfishness, it deepens the roots of our relationship, which are rooted in Christ. I hope and pray that you are being blessed, too!!

This is the last section of specific prayers for our spouses. The next section will be prayers we pray on our own behalf. If you are not married, please pray these things for me and other wives you know and love.

We will be praying for some pretty deep things in this section, especially in regard to our spouses’ faith and understanding of the Gospel. If there are things you don’t understand or are unsure about, please contact me. I would love that talk to you about your questions and help you wrestle them out in your heart.

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Day 11: Time—I pray you will be a good steward of your time, prioritizing well and eliminating things that are a waste of your resources. I pray that God will be gracious in making you productive in the time you have. I pray that you will manage your time well and make the most of our short days and short time on this earth.

 

Day 12: Fears—I pray the fears that plague you will be squelched by the Holy Spirit. I pray that you will never live in fear or make decisions motivated by fear. I pray that God will draw you close to Him and teach you to live in faith, not fear. I pray that the scars of the past that have propelled these fears will heal and heal and heal, and I pray that I will be a safe place to voice your fears and bring them into the open. I pray that you will learn to lean on God when fears threaten and have faith in Him even when that is scary. I pray you will believe what a courageous spirit God has given you.

 

Day 13: Temptations—I pray that God will convince you that you are equipped to resist temptation. I pray that you will believe wholeheartedly that you have a new nature and are no longer slave to your old longings. I pray that you will not feel shame in being tempted and that you will understand temptation in itself is not a sin—even Jesus was tempted. I pray that you will bring forward your struggle when you are tempted and tell me or a trusted friend. I pray I am a safe, non-condemning place for you to bring your struggles and that I can encourage you and effectively point you to the Gospel.

 

Day 14: Hopes and Dreams—I pray that God will delight to grant you the desires of your heart, and that He will mold your desires according to His plan for you and what will bring you true joy, satisfaction, contentment, and pleasure. I pray that you will be able to dream and discover what your heart longs for, that you will have the courage to speak these secrets to God, that you can dream together, and that God will give you hopes much deeper than what you imagined. I pray for faith that God will satisfy your hopes and deliver you to a greater glory than anything available on earth.

 

Day 15: Community—I pray that you (we) will find/make community where we are planted. I pray that you will have courage and compassion to reach out to neighbors and develop relationships with them. I pray that you will be loved well by our church and that you will reach out to others. I pray that you will be a safe place for others and that you will sew harmony, love, and joy.

 

Day 16: Family—I pray for your relationships with extended family, for healing, peace, encouragement, and hope. I pray you will have wisdom in setting appropriate boundaries where needed and in pursuing relationships that will be an encouragement.

 

Day 17: Our family—I pray you will lead well in courage, strength, and hope. I pray you will always look to God for wisdom as well as a model for being a husband and father. I pray you will experience God’s passion for you as your father and creator and that you will never doubt his great, deep love for you. I pray we will honor and respect you, even when we don’t feel like it, and that you will thrive as a husband and father, never unsure how crazy we are about you.

 

Day 18: Our marriage—I pray that we will grow closer to Jesus and closer together. I pray that the Oneness of our marriage will be realized more and more. I pray that we will not coast, but will work diligently toward building a stronger foundation for our relationship. I pray that we will trust God as the head of our marriage and that we will trust the Holy Spirit in each other, especially when we are not acting trustworthily. I pray that I will always encourage you and not criticize, that I will love you and not condemn, and that you will have the faith in God to believe that I truly love you as deeply as I say I do and that you will believe that I am a safe place and want to care more for you than I do myself. I pray you will trust our love as it is rooted in Christ’s. I pray that our marriage will reflect Christ’s love for His Church.

 

Day 19: Friends—I pray your friendships will grow and that you will make new friends. I pray that you will be a safe place for your friends, encouraging them and comforting them. I pray that you will be loved well and effectively by your friends and that you will all interact with courage and boldness to love and speak truth. I pray for a passion for your non-Christian friends.

 

Day 20: Relationship with God—I pray that you will be more and more convinced every day of God’s love for you. I pray that you will know his delight and that it is based on Christ, not on anything you have or have not done. I pray that you will believe his Word and that you will understand in a miraculous way that God’s grace for you extends farther than your imagination. I pray that you will truly believe with all your heart that God’s forgiveness is free to you (bought with a price to God) and that you do not need to try to earn it. I pray against shame—any perceptions of your identity that are not rooted in who God says you are. I pray that you will grow to love God and look forward to your time with Him. I pray that you will continue to mature into the man God created you to be. I pray that you will have the confidence to live out of your new nature in Christ, not your old fleshy nature. I pray that you will find contentment and joy in God’s love but that He will woo your heart to him and that you will long for Heaven. I pray that you will find rest in God’s love, safety in God’s love, courage in God’s love. I pray that I will be a conduit of God’s love and love you well and wholly.

 

Day 21: Gospel living—I pray that you will live out of the truth of the Gospel and God’s great love for you and Jesus’ great sacrifice for you. I pray that you will understand and believe the Gospel on a deeper level every single day and that it will be more and more real to you. I pray that you will be overwhelmed by the Gospel and that your heart will be filled with its joy and hope. I pray that God will continue to woo you and draw you to Him and convince you of His desire to be in relationship with you. I pray that you will desire to glorify God and delight in him and enjoy him. I pray that you will live in light of eternity and that you will have wisdom and discernment while on Earth to make decisions in light of their eternal impact. I pray that you will rest in God’s love and have a heart incredible thankful for Him.

 

Thief

Her identity has been stolen

by the shadow of death—

that oily cloud of slithering suffocation

loitering nearby Final Breaths,

Pathetic parasite desperate for the demise of some poor soul

so it can prey not on death’s victim, but its own,

Melancholy mucus that suffocates the mourner

overtaking her like a cloak of phlegm,

a lecherous, filmy sadness that she cannot medicate away

(try as she might)

Tainting her spirit forever, a warning stench creating fear in her acquaintances

for it makes them face their immortality and

their awkward inadequacies as they blurt out trite comforts,

Normalcy killer

Grief goggles she can never remove, dooming her to view life

through death—

It has seeped into her skin slowly,

it’s who she is.

My mind

My mind is a half-empty glass of whiskey about to be drained to the rocks.

My mind is a fulcrum for sappy sentiments of lace, satin, and paper hearts.

My mind breathes upon his breath, the breath that heats my face in the night and reminds me I’m alive.

My mind is survived by words on paper.

My mind likes to sleep and dream that death and crushing guilt don’t exist.

My mind relishes the sights of narrow Yorkshire streets and the sounds of the Minster.

My mind is saved by confession and the promise of redemption.

My mind is motion for memories that keep mothers alive.

My mind quivers like Aunt Imogene’s jello from the mold, full of banana pieces and cottage cheese.

My mind needs respite from chatter and traffic and plaid pants.

My mind is harmony and swiss cheese and throbbing Irish punches.

My mind squeezes images of my wedding day

and sings trite love songs.

My mind leaves academia in pursuit of the truth of beauty.

While we’re talking about marriage…

…you might get a kick out of this.

Very few people ever state properly the strong argument in favour of marrying for love or against marrying for money. The argument is not that all lovers are heroes and heroines, nor is it that all dukes are profligates or all millionaires cads. The argument is this, that the differences between a man and a woman are at the best so obstinate and exasperating that they practically cannot be got over unless there is an atmosphere of exaggerated tenderness and mutual interest. To put the matter in one metaphor, the sexes are two stubborn pieces of iron; if they are to be welded together, it must be while they are red-hot. Every woman has to find out that her husband is a selfish beast, because every man is a selfish beast by the standard of a woman. But let her find out the beast while they are both still in the story of “Beauty and the Beast.” Every man has to find out that his wife is cross—that is to say, sensitive to the point of madness: for every woman is mad by the masculine standard. But let him find out that she is mad while her madness is more worth considering than anyone else’s sanity.

—G.K. Chesterton, The Common Man

Baby love

When I was pregnant, I had a Facebook status once thanking everyone who tells pregnant women they are beautiful, because I am not a beautiful pregnant woman. I know what you’re thinking: Oh, all pregnant women are beautiful! They glow! I did not glow. I was swollen, especially my face and especially my nose. My eyes got puffy and I was sweaty and gross and tired and spacey. I was not beautiful, but when someone saw beyond the physical to the miracle growing inside of me and told me I looked pretty, it meant The World to me!

In this post, I want to thank my friends who love my babies. An old college friend commented today on a picture I posted of our baby girl, calling her beautiful. It made me cry. Here is the deal about being parentless, motherless—there is no one to spoil my babies, no one to coo at them, no one to shower them with unnecessary presents, no one to think they’re perfect. I know my sisters adore—ADORE—my babies, but they are very, very far away. So when my friends dote on my babies, it helps fill that hole in my heart that aches for my children to be loved and cared for.

When Von was littler and I was pregnant, I used to take him out of the nursery for Communion at church every week to be prayed over. Now that we have Ann, I can’t do that, but I ask for Ann to be prayed for every week. And it makes me cry that someone cares enough to pray for my little girl. They often also pray for Von, which makes me cry twice as much.VonAndKara

When my sisterfriend Polly begs for time with Ann so I can have a Von-date, my heart aches with gratitude in her pursuit of my daughter. When Kara asks Von for squeaky kisses and sneaks him away to cuddle and read, my heart melts. When Caroline stayed with Von overnight unexpectedly when I was giving birth to Ann, I cried tears of humility that someone loves me and my family so deeply. When Von’s eyes light up when he sees his Auntie Cosette, joy bubbles uncontrollably in my soul. When friends pass Ann around, I about crumble in thanksgiving. When the nursery workers delight in Von and tell stories of his sweetness, I want to kiss their hands.

I am so eager for my babies to be baptized. I am not sure I will be able to emotionally handle witnessing the commitment of our church family promising to love and teach and help with my children. I take that promise seriously when I make it and will hold my Westside family to their promise.

I don’t know how to thank those of you who love my babies and who are helping us raise them. Your love for us is overwhelming, undeserved, and full of grace. I hope you always know the debt I feel, the happy, wonderful, unpayable, blessed debt. Thank you.

Love is on our minds today…

My friend Beth wrote this beautiful exploration of love and gave me permission to share it with you all. Valentine’s Day is a bittersweet day for her and her family, but getting more sweet than bitter. I was blessed by her heart and hope you will be, too.
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Love is on our minds today. For weeks, red wrapped packages of sweet things and cards proclaiming passionate sentiments have filled the stores. Tonight a fine dinner will be held at church, tables set for two. Romantic love is a gift from our Lord and is rightly celebrated. We need only to read Song of Solomon to know that our Lord delights in this aspect of love.
Through the years, Dave and I have celebrated February 14 in two ways: Dave and I declaring our love for each other and our family declaring our love for one another.
One year when our children were small we surprised them. We told them special guests were coming for Valentines. We cleaned the house; my mom sent us a beautiful flower arrangement that adorned our table set with our finest china. We prepared delicious food. I instructed the kids to get dressed up, and they festooned the evening with their finery. We sat down to dinner and the kids began to ask, “who is coming?” Dave then told them they were the guests of honor. We clinked our crystal glasses in a sparkling cider toast—to our family. They were very surprised and probably a tiny bit disappointed because they thought they would be serving someone. However, the excitement of everything beautiful and treats gaily wrapped made them soon forget.
Our kiddos are a formulation of Dave and my love. The expressions of eros created little ones on whom we set another sort of love. Only Dave and I will ever be the parents of Sarah and Jason. As a first time mom, I was surprised at the depth and immediacy of my love for our new baby girl. She grabbed my heart; she is a wonderful blessing from our Lord. Two and half years later the Lord again blessed us with a precious baby boy. Our love begat further love. Our celebrations through the years though taking various forms were always a time to celebrate love in its various nuances. Valentines day however, has taken a different turn for my husband and me. We think on yet another shade of love.
Nine years ago our today our son finished life on earth. While it is a day we grieve, it is a day that we are reminded that our love for him has not stopped. Grief is that expression of love that God wrought in hearts for him still beating within us. Dave and I remember and speak of it to each other. We look for our Lord’s good in our remembrances of love. This day reminds us now that we do not have to be tangibly in the presence of someone to love them. This is a comfort in many ways. It means we do love our son though he is not here anymore. It means love can exist when we live on two sides of a country and not be diminished. It is a reminder of our Savior’s love for us and our love in response.
“Though you have not seen him, you love him” Peter wrote to the church. Peter knew the love of Christ and had experienced said love as he walked with Jesus over three years. Peter had the opportunity to declare his love to Jesus. In the scope of history however, very few had the privilege to experience Christ’s love in His corporal presence or to speak their love to Him. Peter’s line was written to the church as an encouragement that the love we have for Him is real. There is love to be known, experienced, and proclaimed that does not require bodily presence. I know it to be true. Christ’s love has pierced my heart and I am deeply moved to love Him back but as John Piper has written this love is, “not based on a physical seeing of Christ. But it is based on believing Christ.” Today is my day and your day to courageously choose to love Him more though we have not seen Him.

Praying for marriage, days 1-10

the kiss

Thus far my Valentine’s Day has been full of sloppy baby kisses, romantic texts, and workworkwork. Changing diapers, making meals, cleaning the kitchen, picking up toys, vacuuming crumbs. It never ends. Most days, I look forward to my husband coming home so we can enjoy the babies together, visit and share our hearts, and then rest together. But on this special day, love is in the air! As we begin this 100-day journey together praying for marriage, we thought we’d start with praying for passion in marriages. I read a quote this week by John Piper or Tim Keller or one of those big guys this week that said something to the extent of lust being about what I can get as opposed to love being what I can give. Love is serving, lust is being served.

Before kids, I used to put a lot of attention into greeting my husband when he came home from work. I worked from home and was done by the time he walked through the door, so I made sure to dab on a bit of lipstick, squirt some perfume, make sure the house looked nice, get dinner started, and often have a cocktail in hand to help him unwind. Nowadays, Aaron walks in the door to find a hyper toddler screaming and jumping, toys all over the place, and a tired mommy nursing the baby on the couch. Aaron always greets me first with a kiss, and there are times when I kiss him back, searching my brain to try to remember if I had even brushed my teeth that day.

Where did the passion go? It’s still there, just buried under loads of laundry and Little People. Camouflaged by the lingering odor of dirty diapers. Moping behind heavy eyelids.

And to be honest, love being in the air (whatever that means exactly) does not automatically give me the energy to express my heart—my passion—for and to my husband. I need help—God’s help.

That is our prayer today—passion in marriages. I realize there are a lot of reasons marriages struggle with passion. Reasons more serious and heart-breaking than dirty laundry. Let’s pray that passion—selfless, loving passion—is reignited in our marriages and the marriages around us.

 

Thank you for joining us in prayer. We know that there are a lot of books and studies about marriage and praying for marriage and spouses, etc. Our 100 days of praying for marriage is special to us because we can do it together—with friends and family—across the miles. Our hearts are united in our passion for marriage and our desire to see marriages heal, grow, thrive.

Please don’t feel pressure to use our prayer requests—these are just suggestions. But if you’re wanting some ideas, we will post as many as we can over the next 100 days. The first group of ideas have come from this blog that I mentioned before. We’ve broken her list down a bit and stretched it. For the first block of days, we will be getting personal and praying for our own husbands as well as the husbands around us. The list below is very personal and how I am praying for my own gift of a man.

 

Day two:  Lies–I pray against lies you are tempted to believe about yourself. I pray that I can help combat those lies and love you in a way that reminds you of who you truly are because of how Christ loves you and how God created you. I pray that I can express to you regularly who you are to me and how beautiful your character is, how delightful your personality is, how perfect your strengths are. I pray that when lies creep into your mind, you will recognize them and ignore them. And on days when you struggle, I pray I will notice and be a safe place for you to confide your fears and rest in truth.

 

Day three: Worries—I pray against worries that plague you. You bear so much responsibility, especially for our little family, and I pray that you will not fall prey to exhausting worries. I pray that God will give you trust in Him to provide for you and faith to believe that God’s plan is Good, even when we don’t understand. I pray I can encourage you when you are worried and that I will be sensitive to your frustrations. I pray I will have wisdom in knowing how to encourage you.

 

Day four: Heart—I pray that your heart will be steadfast and strong, that its desires will be shaped by God and not selfishness. That when it hurts, it will find sanctuary in Christ and in the safety of our relationship. That I will recognize when your heart is sad and that I will be sensitive to your pain. I pray that it will grow and grow and grow and love others courageously and effectively.

 

Day five: Soul—I pray for your soul, that it will always seek God. I pray for days when it is thirsty and weary and dry. I pray for satisfaction and refreshment in Christ and Christ alone.

 

Day six: Body—I pray for strength and health. I praise God for how he created you just so!

 

Day seven: Gifts, talents, and abilities—I pray that you develop your gifts and find ways to use them to serve God and others. I pray that you will find purpose in your interests and that you will also find purpose in blessing others with your abilities. I pray that I will nurture your talents and help you find the time and resources to grow them and put them to good use, pushing back the effects of the Fall and bringing beauty into this broken world.

 

Day eight: Work—I pray that you will work hard, that you will find purpose in even the most menial of tasks. That you will be a blessing and encouragement to your coworkers. That your work product will help others and be a solid contribution. That you will be a light in your workplace. That you will not grow weary and that you will find joy in following God’s early mandate of working and providing. I praise God for your ambition and drive, and I pray that you will be recognized for your relentless dedication.

 

Day nine: Finances—I pray that God will provide just what we need. I pray that you will be wise in what we are given. I pray that you will be generous in giving to others. I pray that you will trust God to provide and not fear when God’s provision does not look like what we expected. I pray that we will remember that we are simply stewards and that our material gifts are just that—gifts to be used wisely.

 

Day ten: Rest—I pray that God grants you sound, good, refreshing physical rest. I pray that I can create a home that is conducive to resting your mind and heart. I pray that God will relieve you of unnecessary stresses both on your body and mind. I pray that when our baby girl wakes up to nurse, you will not hear her and will sleep through it.

Praying for marriage

 wedding feetConfession: I love “Modern Family”. That show makes. me. laugh. Especially Gloria, the Latina bombshell who is married to Jay, a curmudgeony Vietnam vet whose children are his wife’s age. Gloria is passionate to a fault and keeps her husband on his toes with her drama. The other night we watched an episode in which Gloria spent the entire day punishing Jay for something he didn’t remember doing—crying out “Baby, oh, baby!” in his sleep. She refused to tell him why she was mad and he spent the entire episode trying to figure it out until she finally confronted him. He told her that he had dreamt that their infant son crawled out onto a ledge; he was powerless to save their son and could only call to him—“Baby!” Gloria felt like a jerk.

It was funny, but at the same time, I criticized Gloria’s character in my heart. What kind of wife punishes her husband, especially for something he doesn’t have control over or even remember doing? Though it was a good laugh, I was slightly disgusted at the portrayal of selfishness and a lack of trust or grace in their marriage.

wedding bubblesI thought about it as I brushed my teeth and got ready for bed. When I walked into our bedroom, Aaron was already dozing. “Aaron! Aaron!” I loudly whispered.

Silence. He wasn’t dozing—he was sound asleep.

“AARON!! AARON!!” He woke, startled and disoriented.

“You said you’d help me put garlic oil in my ear,” I harshly, hoarsely whispered, trying not to wake the baby.

He was discombobulated and couldn’t figure out what in the world I was talking about.

“Forget it,” I spat. “I’ll do it myself. Just go. back. to. sleep.”

I went back into the bathroom and discovered it’s not a big deal at all to put drops in your own ear.

The next morning Aaron kissed me goodbye as I slept and then texted me once he got to work so I would know he was safe and sound. When I saw the message on my phone, I grunted and put the phone down instead of responding like I do every other morning. He texted me mid morning and then again at lunch. Then again early afternoon.

I knew what was going on in my heart—I was mad at him for not getting up when I roused him the night before. I didn’t mind that he had fallen asleep—he works hard to provide for us, after all, and it was late. But I wanted him to have popped up, bright eyed with my ear being the most important thing on his mind. I wanted him to not be able to sleep soundly until my ear was taken care of. Yet because he had been asleep, I knew he wouldn’t even remember the episode, and I also knew he was not at fault for anything. I had nothing to legitimately be mad at him about, but I was mad nonetheless. And so I decided to “protect” him from my unjust anger by punishing him and not responding to his texts.

Mid day I was convicted of my selfishness. I texted him right away to restore our relationship.wedding2Then with a few minutes to spend online while the babies napped, I came across a Facebook post where a friend linked to a Valentine’s gift idea—a letter explaining to your husband how you will lovingly, sacrificially pray for him.

I cried. I wasn’t praying for my husband like that. I used to. I have in the distant past. But I’ve gotten distracted by babies and life and have allowed the priority of our marriage to fall to the wayside, preferring instead to coast and hope for the best.

Wiping tears, I checked my email. I had one from a very dear friend, Jackie, who was a college roommate. She is one of those friends I can tell anything and everything to without fear of condemnation. She gets me and she loves me anyway. Anyway, she was writing to ask me a question—did I remember about 2.5 years ago when we committed to praying for marriage for 100 days? Every day we had a different prayer that we prayed together over the miles. Sometimes I would blog and ask my readers to join us. Sometimes I would post an actual prayer. Other times I would just share my heart. Of course I remembered—that was a precious, hard, heart-breaking, beautiful 100 days. Jackie wanted to know if I were up for doing it again. She is that kind of wife—the kind who has become a student of her husband, who loves him in ways that make sense to him, who prays for him passionately. And she is the kind of friend who will pray for me any time I ask. She is a prayer warrior. Of course I would pray for 100 days with her again!

I laughed at how God set me up for Jackie’s request, exposing my own heart and attitudes, reminding me of my need for prayer and my need for input. And supplying the perfect person to love and encourage me while I take those baby steps of faith to get back to making my marriage my first relational priority.

Here is where you come in, friends—will you join us? Will you commit to praying for marriage for 100 days? It could be your marriage, your friends’ marriages, marriages you know are hurting, marriages that haven’t happened yet. Marriage in general. Marriages that are facing difficult challenges. You can have specific prayers or general prayers. Personal or generic.

We will start on Valentine’s Day and will be posting as many specific prayer requests as time allows us busy mamas. I would love to promise to post one every day, but I can only promise to do my best. Please consider joining us in praying for this beautiful, God-designed institution that delivers so much joy and love and heartache and challenge and promise to our lives.

wedding walk004 *If you have specific requests you would like prayer for, please send me a message and Jackie and I will pray for you in confidence.