See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains? You too, be patient and stand firm. James 5:7-8a NIV
When I married my husband, a long-time farmer, I didn't have much experience with growing plants.
Killing plants? Yes, I had been known to kill ivy. (It was a point of personal pride, do you know how difficult it is to kill that stuff? I excel at it...)
We purchased a little homestead, and he began to plant things. Fruit trees, ornamental plants, and a huge garden.
Here's what I've discovered: there's a lot more to growing crops than placing a seed in the ground. Preparing the soil, amending the soil, planting the seeds, weeding, mulching, more weeding, picking, preserving and then replanting for the fall crop....
Farming is truly the practice of active patience. You can't make a plant grow faster. But you CAN encourage it, help it along and pay attention to it.
When the Bible instructs us to 'Be patient and stand firm', the instruction comes with the expectation that we will be active in our waiting.
Not a 'pacing in the hallway' kind of active waiting, but rather, a mindful acceptance that growth takes time yet requires attention on our part.
Life takes time. While you're waiting for ______ I encourage you to be active in your patience - prayer, reading your bible, researching books and bible studies that can help you grow, reaching out to others, and intentional gratefulness are all ways we can practice active patience.
What are you waiting for? How are you practicing active patience?
"Since this is the kind of life we have chosen, the life of the Spirit, let us make sure that we do not just hold it as an idea in our heads or a sentiment in our hearts, but work out its implications in every detail of our lives. That means we will not compare ourselves with each other as if one of us were better and another worse. We have far more interesting things to do with our lives. Each of us is an original.
Live creatively, friends. If someone falls into sin, forgivingly restore him, saving your critical comments for yourself. You might be needing forgiveness before the day’s out. Stoop down and reach out to those who are oppressed. Share their burdens, and so complete Christ’s law. If you think you are too good for that, you are badly deceived.
Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don’t be impressed with yourself. Don’t compare yourself with others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life."
Galatians 5:25 - 6:5
I have a vision board in my hallway. Years ago, when life was at its darkest point, I was invited to join a group of women to create these boards. Mine has pictures of horses, relaxing interior photos, a woman relaxing in a suds-filled tub, beautiful flowers and tranquil scenery.
At that point in my life, I was hurt, broken, wounded, in pain, and exhausted. My vision board featured phrases like:
...a passion for fire...
...love your power...
but my all time favorite, a phrase I held on to for dear life was this: "When all of life looks like it is falling apart, it may just be falling into place."
How many times have we been in the midst of a difficult time, and needed the reminder that all will be well...? I love the verse God led me to this morning:
So we're not giving up. How could we? Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. II Cor 4:16
Even while we walk through horrible times, God is with us - working in us to create new life!
Be encouraged today, dear one. God has promised that not a minute will go by today that does not contain some measure of grace for you. I will be praying this verse as a prayer for me... for you...
"Sometimes I feel like I gave them wings that were too big for me to deal with, but God's grace has to be sufficient. He is really the only protection they need."
It wasn't a comment that I haven't heard before. It was made by my mentor, friend and hero, an
unschooling, delight-driven, child-led-learning mom. She holds doctorates in education, and is an unwavering supporter of homeschooling families in our area.
She is a continual encouragement to me and to my husband, that we can give our son space to grow and mature and explore, and that we can TRUST GOD for the rest.
Do we really trust God with our kids? Do we agonize over every decision? Do we hold our children loosely, giving them wings over giving them ulcers?
I remember praying when Trey was little - 'Lord, I surrender my son to your will, but we need go over a few guidelines first...' I can laugh about it now, but at the time, I was dead serious!
Jesus invites us to surrender our fears, our control and our expectations. He invites us to rest in his promise that his grace will carry the day and is truly all that we, and OUR CHILDREN, truly need.
"My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness..." II Corinthians 12:9 NASB
Most of us hold as tightly as we can to our blessings - health, family, peace, security - singing grateful praises. When changes occur though, and those blessings are removed or threatened, we immediately pray for their restoration.
Jesus' approach to is a bit different, isn't it? "...anyone who holds onto life just as it is destroys that life. But if you let it go, reckless in your love, you'll have it forever, real and eternal." (John 12:25 MSG)
Praying for you today, that you'll hold your life loosely, open to changes and ebbs & flows, knowing that God is leading you to eternal love...
Give and it will be given to you.
"Here." Trey handed her a dozen eggs. "Oh no!" he protested, when she tried to give him some money, "we don't take money from family."
"Take the money," she insisted. "It's for your bank account. I need to pay you!"
He shook his head and stepped back, hands at his sides. "No thank you."
As they left, Trey's face was a study in mixed emotions. We had explained to him that we didn't always take money when we gave food away. Sometimes, like today, we shared with people simply as a way of saying thank you, or to recognize the special friendship we had.
But he wanted his money, we could see that. And while we tried to explain to him in words the value of generosity and giving, God had a better idea.
Later on that night, I went up to help him collect the eggs. "Look Trey!" I showed him the basket of eggs. "In this basket is almost exactly what you gave our friends, that, plus the money I shared with you this afternoon, is more than TWICE what you would have gotten for the eggs! This is how God rewards us when we are generous - by giving back to us with the same measure of how we gave!" (I had felt led, earlier that afternoon, to share some money with Trey, the money he would have gotten from selling the eggs. I had no idea there were so many eggs in the hen house. So in fact, God had given Trey TWICE what he had shared.)
Sometimes, we adults need that reminder as well. We struggle to share what we have when it seems like we barely have enough. We balk at inviting friends over for a meal when their house is so much nicer (in our eyes) than theirs. We stick with the people, places and charities we know and are familiar with, rather than stretch out of our comfort zone and invite that neighbor over for coffee, or share part of a windfall with a local non-profit.
My experience is that over and over, each time I am generous with what God has blessed me with, he returns it - over and above. And I want Trey to experience that as well. So we give away eggs and food and time and hospitality. And someday, when it really counts, Trey won't hesitate, and God will bless him.
He'll bless you too, you know. Feel like there is never enough? Give it away. God promises that he'll give it back, pressed down and running over.
"Marriage is not a place to 'stand up for your rights.' Marriage is a decision to serve the other, whether in bed or out."
"When I grow up, I won't be able to talk to you anymore, Mom. I'll be silent."
"What do you mean, Trey?"
"Well," he huffed, shrugging his shoulders nonchalantly, "When I get big, I'll be silent, like Dad."
Tom's head whipped up. "Trey, I'm working on being a better communicator. You don't want to be like me on this one. Keep talking."
It's true, one of the major ways our marriage sucked B.S. (before separation) was that Tom rarely responded to my attempts at conversation. There were other mitigating factors (like unexpressed anger, judgement and bitterness), but as he said when we talked about this topic, men and women are just SO different when it comes to what they need from relationships.
We want to share how God helped our marriage NOT SUCK by changing how we think about communication and sex. Even though I (Rosalyn) am writing this, Tom and I talked through this beforehand and he weighed in, so you're getting stereo on this one.
Wives, live this with me: One-word answers, an eyebrow raised in response (as if that counts as a valid form of communication), the tooth-pulling-feel of a conversation, the disgruntled 'you are disturbing me' sighs....
Bet you feel cold all over, don't you? You know how that feels, right? You've lived that reality.
Now, think about your sex life with your husband. What do your responses to his overtures, your attitude about sex, look like?
Yup. I'm going there.
When we were separated, one thing that God repeatedly brought to my (Rosalyn's) mind, was the damaging effects of my sexual availability, or lack thereof, on my marriage. How, I had contributed to the sucky-ness of my marriage by removing the willing, excited-to-be-here, let's-get-busy, emotional connection called sex.
He showed me, clearly, the direct correlation between my bad attitude about sex and Tom's lack of communication. The Holy Spirit hit me right between the eyes with the truth that sex is to communication as communication is to a solid marriage. God designed ME to crave emotional connection with my husband. He designed me to get that from verbal discourse.
God designed my husband to crave emotional connection with me. He designed my husband to get that connection from our sexual relationship. See where I'm headed with this?
It's why 1 Corinthians 7:4 clearly states - 'A wife does not have authority over her own body, rather, she yields it to her husband.'
Let me put it to you this way: If I told you that your willingness to care for your husband in a sexual way could directly correlate to the increase and quality of conversation and emotional connected-ness... Would you step up your game?
And before you husbands think you're off the hook, here's yours... ' IN THE SAME WAY, a husband does not have authority over his own body, but yields it to his wife.' (1 Corinthians 4:7)
Just as you don't want your wife lying there like a cold fish, saying "Just get it over with so I can go back to my romance novel," it's your responsibility to enter into a communicative relationship that meets HER emotional needs.
Tom routinely shares with me that for him, this the MOST difficult, unnatural part of our relationship. The whole 'conversation' thing. He grew up watching a man go to work, provide for his family, come home, eat dinner, and then either go to another job or sit down and zone out for the night. To him, that was what marriage looked like. The husband's job was done.
Then God told Tom to talk. To initiate conversation. To show care and love and devotion by communicating. By giving up his 'right' to silence. (...does not have authority over his own body...)
Husbands, if you want your marriage to NOT suck, God calls you to enter into an emotional relationship with your wife that recognizes that her needs are not your needs. That her need for your words, your interest, your positive affirmation of her life in words, your INVESTMENT in your lives together is valid.
Did you hear that word? VALID.
Husbands, you destroy your wife with your silence. You have the power to cause her to doubt her worth, her value, her intellect, her ability, her strength, her power (all God-given by the way). When you choose to stay silent, you have the power to make your marriage suck.
Bottom line? Husbands - Interact. Care. Invest (with words AND actions). Wives - Enjoy your physical relationship with your husband. Appreciate and seek out his physical needs. Invest (with your body AND your words).
God has a reason for commanding us to relinquish our rights to ourselves in marriage - in my and Tom's experience, it's to push us to stay near to Him. To recognize that it's not something we can do well, with any kind of consistency, without Him. And to give us a clear picture of just how far we have to go before we truly understand Jesus' love for us. He gave up ALL rights to himself, even unto death - death on the cross. THAT is love. That is an all-in love.
Have a sucky marriage? God has a fix for that...
Can we pray for you? Email us, we'll send you a response. Does your marriage suck? YOU ARE NOT ALONE!
Look, if your marriage is in the pits right now, sex and conversation probably aren't high on your list. We get that. Be where you're at. Pray and ask God to show you what your need to work on, and to give you a willing heart - when it's time.
If you're in danger - physical, emotional or mental - consider that you are a child of God, special and cherished, and please find some space where you can heal and receive strength and peace without the distraction that impending doom has on you or your children.
A nagging [contentious] spouse is like
"Oh for pete's sake," I sighed. "Those sheets and blankets are never going to dry all bunched up like that."
My husband had just spent three days caring for our farm and our son on his own so that I could go to a funeral in another state. I had come home to a clean house, contented smiles from my son, and a congenial husband. My response? To criticize.
Shame on me.
To God's credit (not mine!), I didn't blurt it out. I thought about saying something about the state of our son's unmade bed, at 8:30pm, but decided to keep my mouth shut. They'd been fine without me for three days, and certainly didn't need me to step in now.
Do you struggle with just saying 'thank you', and then shutting up? One way you can single-handedly make your marriage suck is to criticize, nag and correct.
Did my son's bed look like I had made it, when it finally did get made? No. But WHO CARES? He slept fine, my husband slept fine and so did I.
I have heard so many wives and husbands complain that their spouse never offers to help them with chores or projects - and then go on to point out everything the spouse did/does wrong...
Do you want your marriage to NOT suck?
Shut up, and say 'thank you'.
Your response to yesterday's blog post was amazing. Does your marriage suck? You are NOT alone!
A number of you responded, men and women. Be assured that Tom and I are praying for all of you. I wanted to get practical today, and continue this conversation. When your marriage sucks, and you are still living together, or separated, there are practical things you can do for the health of yourself, your family and your marriage.
1. Get outside and breathe. Preferably near running water or the ocean.
I know, that seems really simple, doesn't it? I won't get all nerdy on you, but studies show that fresh air coupled with running water (think fast moving streams or waterfalls) actually counteract the effects of stress. And when your marriage sucks, you're stressed. A lot.
Yesterday I mentioned that I needed to get back to a peaceful place so that I could think straight. That place was my parent's beach house. Being back in New England, on the tidal river, surrounded by cedars and white pine, I literally exhaled and began to feel settled. God knows what we need, and major stress requires running water and fresh air.
If I was going to add a 'Part B' to this, I would add that exercise is crucial right now. Continuous stress will cause absolute havoc in your body - your adrenals, your immune system, your digestion - everything takes a hit. Especially when you experience this stress over long periods of time. Get your heart rate pumping. You'll sleep better too. (Obviously, talk to your doctor first.)
...the earth is full of the lovingkindness of the Lord... Psalm 33:5b
2. Nix the sugar.
As my marriage began to suck, I began to crave sugar. I gained lots of weight. Sugar comes in many forms. Chocolate. Alcohol. Cookies.
I'm not going to rail against the dangers of food addiction and emotional eating or drinking. But what you need to know is this: sugar is an anti-nutrient. Your body has to USE vitamins and minerals just to process it. Your immune system is going to take a huge hit when you start ingesting sugar. Just like listening to negative people will lead you downhill, eating negative (anti-nutrient) foods will strip your body of the very nutrients it needs to cope. Stick to healthy, whole foods. Eat lots of fresh food. Eat healthy fat. Eat grass fed meat. Need more real food suggestions? Take a look at the Real Food pages. There are good recipes there.
You know what's interesting? Even God knows that too much sugar (even healthy sugar) is not good for us...
It's not good to eat too much honey... Proverbs 25:27a
(Ready for some 'Real Rosalyn'? There was a point, during the separation, when I was sipping on a whiskey or a brandy. Every evening. Not good. A few weeks in, God sent someone to say some choice words. They were right. Down the drain it went. Are you at that point? Email me. Don't go there.)
3. Talk to a mentor or counselor regularly.
Both Tom and I did/do this. We both found that having someone to talk to, in our case it was a Christian therapist, was/is crucial. In fact, when our separation ended, it was one of the things Tom kept doing - having wise counsel is very important.
You may find it to be different, but we found that we needed our own time to talk - individually. When your marriage sucks, it's usually in part due to lots of wounds and scars - and while you need to work through them, it's never a good idea to tear the other person down while you do that. Be cautious of counseling that has you ripping at each other...
The bible is full of verses that talk about the importance of either providing wise counsel or seeking it out. Taking time to express your emotions, work through situations, and receive counsel is critical.
Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future. Proverbs 19:20
Our marriage sucked for a long time. Both of us are working through the residual and emotional after-effects. Hopefully, we can spare you some of them... Take care, and contact us if we can help...
Preface: I believe that one of the most dangerous lies we believe is that our problem is so ________ (fill in the blank) that no one else can possibly understand it or help us with it.
Armed with that lie, we isolate ourselves. When we isolate ourselves, we begin to believe the other lies that stream through our mind - the lies that tell us that we are truly alone, that other people do not care about us, and that it is up to us to walk through our issue alone.
I don't want you to be in that place. So I'm going to be super transparent. Today, I want to talk to those of you who are dealing with a marriage that sucks. You know what I'm talking about. It's the marriage that sucks the life out of you as you try to figure out how to fix it.
It's the marriage that sucks the joy out of your life as you struggle to pretend that things are at the very least okay.
I'm talking about the marriage that sucks your faith out of you, while you are crying out to God for relief.
You know the marriage I mean, it's the marriage, maybe YOUR marriage, that is sucking the health out of you - and the doctor is worried about what it's doing to your emotional health, your physical health.
I'm talking to you, the one whose marriage SUCKS.
(Generally, I try to write a bit more genteel-like. But there are two things that, in my opinion, must be met with just this word. In my opinion, broken marriages (relationships) and death, suck. Neither were part of God's original plan. We're not designed to manage them well.)
When we separated, Tom and I had been married for a bit more than 6 years. And 5 1/2 of those years sucked. For both of us. Oh, there were some good times, but mostly, the underlying sense that we both felt was the sucking away of ourselves as we attempted to maneuver the slime pit of our relationship.
We separated last autumn.
I don't recommend separation. But sometimes, it's the only tool left in the toolbelt. So I stepped out of the way, and God wielded it. Wow. That was HARD.
But you know what? It didn't suck. During the 8 months we were separated, God used that time to fill us both up again. Tom healed and worked on what God wanted him to work on. I healed and worked on what God wanted me to work on.
Tom moved home in April. Phew. God is good. Really good. Sometimes we just look at each other can't believe how much our marriage does NOT suck.
I have three things I did, when my marriage sucked, that I want to share with you. They helped me. And if your marriage sucks, maybe they'll help you too.
1. Give every major decision or conversation 24 hours (at LEAST) before acting on or discussing. 2 Kings 7:1 talks about "...this time tomorrow..." - let the topic rest for at least 24 hours.
During that time, pray. A lot. Pray that the Holy Spirit will give you clarity, pray that you will be given a clean heart and settled spirit. For me, I had to leave, go back to the last place where I had felt truly at peace in order to connect with my clean heart and my settled (right) spirit. During that time of being away, in a place where I felt peaceful and safe, the Holy Spirit spoke to me. I was filled with peace and surety and confidence. While actually separating was agonizingly difficult, I knew, deep in my soul, that I was exactly where I was supposed to be. (As an aside, the process of 'this time tomorrow', for me, took about a year. I wasn't away all that time, but it took a LONG time. And that's a good thing.)
Create in me a clean heart, oh God, and renew a right spirit within me... Psalm 51:10
2. Claim the promise that God is FOR your marriage.
Even in the midst of the turmoil of separation, I chose to believe that God's best for me was Tom. I prayed for my marriage to be healed, even demanding it of God. "God," I prayed, "You do not want us apart. You put us together. I'll do whatever it takes, Lord. Just FIX us!"
Granted, it didn't happen as fast as I wanted it to. Or in the way I'd expected. But God works in his own time and I chose to trust him, even when I didn't understand it. Will reconciliation happen for everyone? No. Both people have to be willing to work on a sucky marriage. But you can work on it, regardless of what your spouse does. And you can be SURE that you are right on target, praying for your marriage to be restored.
This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have what we asked of him. 1 John 5:14-15
A brief note on #2. I read an amazing book when I was separated. Actually, I read it about ten times. Broken Heart on Hold is hands-down the best book out there for separated spouses. The most encouraging message I received from this book was to wait. Really wait. She makes the point that studies show that many times it can take years for both people to work through hurt and pain, and heal enough to be able to focus on the marriage again. Sadly, most of time, spouses have moved on and remarried and never get the chance to experience true reconciliation. Don't give up hope! Hang in there. Which brings me to #3...
3. Surround yourself with people who are FOR your marriage.
Yes, initially it's validating and comforting to hear people trash your spouse and tell you that you deserve to be happy. It feels good to think about moving on (away) from the pain and hurt of your sucky marriage.
The best gift you can give your marriage are friends who are for your marriage. Friends who encourage you to stick it out, hold fast, and do the work. I had two such friends in my life, and in their own way, they both held my feet to that fire of commitment, each encouraging me to stay the course and be true. Was it hard? Yes. Did it suck? No. It was life-giving, even as it was infuriating at times.
Become wise by walking with the wise;
By choosing to listen to those who pushed me to work for my marriage, I began to heal, believing that if they could get through their own marital struggles, that I could too.
I'm not sure who needs to hear this, but I felt strongly that I needed to write it. If you are struggling with a sucky marriage, please feel free to contact me personally (email Rosalyn), I'd love to encourage you in your journey.
And if you're a been-there-done-that, please, chime in with an 'Amen' or words of encouragement.
"We want to live well, but our foremost efforts should be to help others live well."
(1 Corinthians 10:24b MSG)