The marriage trust and how I violated it in a big way!

ClaytonFam-101

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” Colossians 2:3-4

Hide it! This was my first instinct. If he found out he would leave me! So I rushed home at lunch every day to check my mailbox. Daily I received a notice from another credit card company. My payments were late. Fees were stacking up. I sunk deeper and deeper into a financial and emotional abyss.

My husband was clueless about my debt, our debt. If I had consulted him, he never would have condoned my spending habits. He is the wise one when it comes to finances.

Soon, it wasn’t just letters in the mail, the phone calls began. How would I explain this? I would either have to tell him the truth or continue to try and hide it. However, hiding was next to impossible.

I wondered things like…if I tell him, will he divorce me? Will he ever trust me again? Things were already bad, would this make them worse? They are just credit cards, right?

Looking back at this time in my life, I have regrets. We pay high interest rates because of my mistakes. But even more, I regret violating my husband’s trust. I created trust issues in our marriage that run deep and have required much time, effort, and grace to mend. What started out as just tiny slices of plastic, ended up creating a gigantic rift in our marriage.

Trust issues in marriage are common. In fact, we all likely have them in one form or another. There are the “big” things that happen to create trust issues such as telling lies, committing adultery, and falling captive to an addiction such as alcohol or pornography. And then the “smaller” things that chip away at trust over time like constantly showing up late, paying more attention to your phone than your spouse, cancelling date night repetitively, and refusing intimacy resulting in your spouse feeling rejected.

Most of us experience some combination of both major and minor trust violating incidents unique to our marriage, resulting in trust gaps, and ultimately feelings of abandonment, anger, and rejection.

So how do we mend trust in a relationship as delicate as a marriage? Especially when you are the offender? A great place to start is looking at Colossians 2:3-4. In these verses, Christ calls us to imitate His humility. To do nothing out of selfishness, but value others above ourselves.
Imagine how your marriage would change if you and your spouse both chose to follow these principles. And even if your spouse is not on board, imagine how your life would change if you decided to consider His needs above your own.

Now I am certainly not asking you to be a doormat, or to endure an abusive situation. What I am condoning is healthy humble behavior. Be cognizant of the words you speak to your spouse. Do not disrespect him verbally and encourage him every chance you get. Choose to consult him regarding the decisions you make, even the small ones. Marriage is a partnership. Let him know that his input is important and valuable. The miracle of humility and respect is that when we present it to others, it tends to come back to us tenfold.

Our marriage is on the mend. I have submitted our finances to my husband, not because he is a dictator or longs to be in control, but because it is healthy and good for me. Just as it is good to submit ourselves to the Lord and His will. I choose to test my actions against Colossians 2:3-4 and make sure in everything I do that I am not looking out for myself, but rather looking out for us and our children. We have a healthy mutual respect for each other that is healing and closing the trust gaps day by day.

Do I still make mistakes? Absolutely! A few short months ago I made a purchase without consulting my husband and I had to confess the truth. However, I have learned that rather than letting these things snowball into boulders, I can deal with them immediately. I ask for forgiveness from the Lord, be honest with my husband, and we both move forward and learn from our mistakes. He does the same with me regarding his trust violating habits. Together we are on a journey. Trust in a marriage is, between a husband and a wife, and between Christ and His church, is a beautiful thing.

Hope dwells here…

Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord. Lamentations 3:21-26

Some situations present themselves as hopeless. Losses are inevitable. The past doesn’t disappear. And no matter how bad we want feelings or thoughts to instantly disappear, they hang on – for days – for weeks – for years. So how do we even begin to find hope in a fallen world? To walk among the desperate ruins of ourselves and others and still come out clean.

Finding hope is a treasure, and perhaps that is why it is so hard to find. Things so valuable come at a cost, a fight at the least, but valuable things are to be treasured up and thus worth the seeking so that we may own.

But where do we find this hope? May I offer up a few places..

The first place we look, no matter how we feel, is the Lord. He is our hope. Without His grace, life is indeed hopeless. But because of His great love we are not consumed. Love from the world, a boyfriend, a husband, a friend, or even a child is not adequate. His is the only love that can keep us from being consumed. Consumed by sin, or depression, hopelessness, or loss – all things with consuming properties until compared with the love of the Lord. Against His love these forces cannot hold up. They cannot stand.

So how do we hope in Him? We wait upon Him. We trust His timing and His path. We trust His provision and His faithfulness. We trust that He is enough for us…today…tomorrow…and will be again the next day…and the next… We choose to let Him be enough…with what He is given and what He will give…it’s enough to sustain us today…

The second place we look is inside of ourselves. We are so tough on ourselves that we don’t often look here. In the darkness of a depression seasoned heart, hope is indeed hard to see, but it is there. It can be found.

Maybe the memories of your past are painful, and it seems like there is no hope. But are you alive today sweet sister? That is indeed praiseworthy. You are a survivor. Only a sister that God has gifted with perseverance could have come this far.

When you look for hope do you see your failures, both past and present? But what about resiliency? How much strength does it take to have messed up a few times and yet you still have the desire to do more, to do better, to move forward into the wholeness the Lord has for you!

How do you find hope in yourself? You look deep inside and you silence the negative, if even it will only silence for a moment.

Name three positive qualities you posses right now, no excuses, no saying you can’t, come up with three. Now isn’t a person with these amazing qualities worth having hope…consider your gifts…you are loved by the Lord. 

The third place you look is community. So you have none? Well that is okay, and community may be closer than you think. We all need open avenues to walk on. Roads to walk on that will take us in a positive direction. And God please help us to stay of the ones that lead us further into darkness. How do we find hope in community?

Look hard, look at the paths and people God has placed before you. Can’t see any? Ask Him to show you.

God will never leave you in darkness without showing you the path that leads towards the light.

Look for community in church. Biblical community online. Look to family. Or friends.

Have none?

Ask God to bring you some…He will…and His timing will be perfect. No giving up here.

Will community be infallible? No! Community, the Church, people, fail! No one is perfect or capable of Saving except Christ.

Will people break your trust, yes! Will your heart get broken a few times, maybe…but that doesn’t mean community isn’t worth being around or having.

We need the Lord, and we need the church. Look for the best in eachother. The good in people. The hopeful paths God has laid out directly in front of you. We need hope, and God will provide. Call it to mind sweet sister…call to mind the hope you can and will find in and through Him. And call it to mind again…and again…and again until hope dwells stronger than the darkness.

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Lift up those ancient gates! And a giveaway!

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A weary soul lays itself down. Tired of the battle. Losing the will to fight. Hopeless for change or advance to occur.

Maybe if I stop eating I will stop feeling bad about myself. Maybe if I stop feeling I could just wash through life emotionless and safe. Maybe if I wonder far enough into the desert no one will look for me and they will leave me alone. We try and control our lives in so many ways. Detrimental ways. Tear filled eyes, we look to the Lord as the last resort when nothing else seems to work. And yes, sweet sister, He offers you hope.

“Lift up your heads, you gates; lift them up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in.” Psalm 24:9

Ancient gates. Doors slammed shut with life circumstances. You were left bleeding and perhaps cut off from life just to stop the flow of blood. To somehow extinguish the pain and emotions. Yet shut out from the love of God and heavenly sisters who might hold our hands. We long for more than this momentary suffering. We long to take the hand again of the faithful One, the one who extinguishes fear, but afraid to move forward.

And yet the blood of the cross is stronger. Strong enough to flood the gates of our broken hearts. To move past the fear and shame and beckon a welcoming.

Open up sweet hearts and souls that the King of glory might come in. Behold again He knocks and He wants so badly for you to answer.

If you are looking for the love of the Lord today sweet sister, I want to share a few resources with you. These resources are not the blood of Christ, they cannot save you. But they do offer opportunities for amazing fellowship with your sisters in Christ. They might be the very steps, the vessels, that Christ wealds to draw you further into Him.

The first is an Online Bible Study with Proverbs 31 Ministries Melissa Taylor. We will be studying Karen Ehman’s book Let.It.Go. Find out more here.

The second is a webcast tonight with Lysa Terkeurst and Shelia Walsh – two of the most amazing speakers I know! The topic of the webcast is about how to win the battle against negative inside chatter. It will be at 9pm Eastern Time tonight and you can find out more here.

And just in case you are hesitant, I want to offer you a little incentive. Let me know in the comments section that you plan to watch the webcast and I will enter you in a drawing to win a copy of Lysa Terkeurst’s book Unglued. Let me know that you are signing up for Online Bible Study and you will be entered to win a copy of Karen Ehman’s Let.It.Go! And yes, you can do both!

Winners will be announced Thursday on my blog! So let’s open those gates girls and see what God can do when we let Him into the most sacred places of our hearts and minds.

Clumpy coffee…

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I knew something was wrong the moment it entered my mouth. Clumpy, sour, bitter – immediately I spewed the disgusting liquid back into the tiny sip hole. Oh my word! I don’t know that I have ever tasted something more disgusting! I definitely won’t leave an old Starbucks cup on my desk again. It sat there all weekend.

This morning as I reached for my deliciously fresh Blonde Roast coffee, I grabbed last Thursdays leftover skinny vanilla latte instead. Talk about a Monday surprise! If its anything that will jolt you back into the reality of the work week, a clumpy cold latte will do the trick!

Although coffee isn’t serious business…some old and moldy things we leave lying around the office are serious. Think about the stinkin thinkin you left there last week. The thoughts that you aren’t good enough or the bitterness you feel towards your coworker. Maybe you left them at work, but every Monday they sit there waiting for you to pick them up. And when you do, they jolt you back into old patterns. The Sunday sermon flies out the window!

You know, if we would actually dispose of those thoughts in the proper manner, we wouldn’t be at less risk of picking them up again. If we took our thoughts to the Lord and tested them against His truth we might throw some thoughts in the trash can for good! We might forgive that person who makes us miserable every time we look at them. Our work life might take on a whole new meaning!

So throw that old clumpy thought latte away. Let it go and pick up a fresh brewed cup of God’s love and His faithful truth.

Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him. Psalm 34:8

Extravagantly ordinary…

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“Canst thou not remember that rapturous moment when he snapped thy fetters, dashed thy chains to the earth, and said, “I came to break thy bonds and set thee free”?…Go back, then, a little way to the choice mercies of yesterday, and though all may be dark now, light up the lamps of the past, they shall glitter through the darkness, and thou shalt trust in the Lord till the day break and the shadows flee away.” Charles Spurgeon

Eyes that gaze on the broken pieces tend to dismiss the greatness. The pieces of real that round out wholeness and mend together the tattered.

A little girl who makes fountains in the bathtub. My son dancing a jiggidy jig. Sweet husband rough housing with our puppy. These are the pieces that my freedom wholeness is made of.

Lord, when I’m overwhelmed with the other things of life, light up these memories in my heart and mind. I want to treasure them up for always. It’s things like these that You use to set me free. The extravagantly ordinary.

Stealing salvation…

Hey y’all! Felt like sharing via vlog today!!! So click on the video, watch, and I would love to hear your thoughts in the comment section! Love and hugs to you this beautiful Tuesday!

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In this skin…

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“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.” Isaiah 43:2

Inside this skin there is a great deal that goes on. Emotions, thoughts, feelings, memories, body reactions… it’s a busy world, inside ourselves. And so many times we attempt to control these things. We don’t want to feel bad, or remember this or that, or go through one more bout of tears over the same old gnawing pain. And yet we do…

And it’s hard to feel like our internal world is out of our control. If we could control anything, certainly we should be able to control our own internal banter, right?

The truth is, sometimes emotions and thoughts come upon us when we are least expecting it! They pop in and we want to send them right back out! Sometimes we even engage in some pretty extreme behaviors to get them to go away. Things like drinking, over eating, using drugs, cutting ourselves, shopping ourselves bankrupt – pick your poison, whatever it may be. But these things rarely work, if they work at all. The feelings, thoughts, emotions, and memories tend to come back even stronger, this time with shame attached, and we need more of this or that to help ourselves escape.

Why do we do these things?

Why do we take our pain and then drag ourselves through suffering while trying to avoid feeling anything at all?

At the core, I believe we are afraid. Fearful of thoughts, memories, feelings, and emotions that make us feel downright awful. But I want to share some good news with you, and some bad news depending on how you see it: there is a way out, and the way out is through.

You must be willing to walk through these thoughts, feelings, memories, and emotions. To feel them and accept them without judging or shaming yourself. Part of the through process also involves forgiveness of yourself and others. And you may be thinking, “I can’t.” And this may be true. But with Christ you can. Just as He walked with each and every one who came before us, He walks with us too. He will not make you face these internal demons alone. He is on your side.

So how do you begin to walk through the pain?

You decide that you will choose to notice it. That you will choose to acknowledge it exists. That you will begin to believe that these things that lie internal will not overwhelm you. That they are like waves which rise and fall. That the bad feeling won’t last forever and that with Christ the waters will not swallow you up.

If it is necessary, you decide that you will seek counsel from a professional counselor, or pastor, or close friend. When these things have been pent-up, and addictions attach themselves with shame, we often need someone to help lead us through a new way of processing. Someone who can see what is going on from an outside viewpoint. Someone outside our skin to help us process and understand. Someone who can help us begin to break through the shame and pain that binds us. And most importantly, someone who acknowledges it is only in Christ that we can be set free.

And we decide that we don’t have control over everything but we do have control over some things. We cannot choose what emotions, thoughts, or memories come upon us. But we can choose what we do with them. We can choose how we cope and what we seek in these times of need. We can choose to go to the Lord and trust that He will see us through. We can choose to seek the help of a professional rather than one more swig on the bottle or slash of the razor blade or swipe of the credit card. We can choose to walk with the Lord who sees us through the fire and makes sue that we are not set ablaze.

If you feel uncomfortable in your own skin today, I know it’s an awful feeling. I have been there, and it is no where that is fun or enjoyable to be. But what I can tell you is that there is always a way out – and in many cases this way is indeed through what you have been trying to avoid. Take steps today sweet sister to move through the pain, to seek the guidance of those the Lord has put in your life, to pray for wisdom and strength – and go on sweet sister to move into the freedom only Christ can and will bring.

When you ascended to the heights, you led the crowd of captives…

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“When you ascended to the heights, you led a crowd of captives.” Psalm 68:18a NLT

“Notice that it says “he ascended.” This clearly means that Christ also descended to our lowly world. And the same one who descended is the one who ascended higher than all the heavens, so that he might fill the entire universe with himself.” Ephesians 4:9-10 NLT

A crowd of captives. Could anything be more descriptive of our world today? Captives of love lost. Captives of money. Captives of shame. Captives of hatred and jealousy. Captives of past hurt and pain. Captives of mental illness and depression. A world of captives, longing to be set free. And we look for freedom here or there, or everywhere, but yet freedom seems so elusive and difficult to be found.

Aren’t we thankful that in scripture it tells us God is aware of the captives? That we are not down here destined to suffer alone, but that God sees the hurting and those held captive by sin?

In fact, He doesn’t just see captives, He came down to rescue them. To rescue us.

Isn’t it a miracle that the same God who embodies perfection also came down into the depths of depraved humanity?

What a gift.

Who does that? Who cares enough to dive into our individual pools of misery and not only see us drowning there, but rescue us and take us home?

Christ does. He is the only one who cares enough, and yet also has the power to rescue.

I am captived by these verses from Psalms and Ephesians. It floors me that God directly addresses those of us who at times feel, or have felt, like perisoners in our own skin. Because not everyone gets the prison of depression, or of past abuse, or anxiety, or shame. But to know that God gets it, and cared enough to post it in scripture for us to read, well it shows a God who not only cares deeply about us, but who gently lifts us out of shame and pens words just to let us know He cares.

Jesus, you lead the captives home. You come down and are not afraid to dive into our pain. You pick us up and take us even higher into Your heavelnly splendor. You surround us with Your presence so that we may sing songs of joy. You heal us and send us out into the world to proclaim freedom. You lead the train of captives all the way out of Isreal , out of the desert, and into the sweetness of Your glory. Not because we desrve it, but because you are love.

You care enough to go the long way, and do do the hard things. You are the only one who can stand the rigorous haul of mending a heart that has been broken. You are the only healer of the broken. You are the only resuce. The only one who surrounds us with Your love. You adore us and give us the ability to praise an adore You. And You set us free.

So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get
tied up again in slavery to the law. Galatians 5:1 NLT

And we are free indeed. Thank you Lord for our freedom…please empower us to grasp it a bit deeper, wider, and a bit further today.

Heart revelation…

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Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.” Luke 2:34-35

So that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. Without our Lord, revelation of our hearts lies stagnant. His saving grace and our rejection or acceptance is what reveals our true motives – our understanding of love – our decided forgiveness. He is our revelation, so that our hearts may step forth Holy covered in His blood. Without Him, revelation would end in certain destruction, an end of our life, mourning, without peace.

I don’t know about you, but I am sure glad He came. That God sent His son that I might be saved. That the revelation of my heart will only reveal His goodness and my sin will be moreover pressed down under His loving faithfulness. The revelation of my heart is certain to be good as moved by Him, but I still stand pierced at times with sorrow, wondering what will become of my uncertain soul in the present.

Piercing sorrow hits and circumstances roar. Mary watched her son be persecuted and die on the cross. His pain undoubtedly doubling her over with uncertainty.

And I watch his or her life pass next to me, unsure of how this could ever be towards the greater good or reveal His higher calling. Uncertainty rings loud when only the death is seen. The revelation not yet found. His heart yet to be revealed. But we do know again, that because of Him there is revelation.

A new understanding. Something new revealed. Perhaps not at the point of death and suffering, but upon the sunrise of the third day. The joy that comes in the morning for those whose hearts find themselves resolved to His grace and mercy. The morning fills itself with His promises, most certainly when we choose to claim them in prayerful belief.

And so what is revealing itself in your heart during this season of uncertainty? When sorrow pierces your side and you silently observe the suffering, deeper still when the suffering is your own. Uncertain of so many things, yet one thing we can be certain of is His love. Love that came when it could have stayed. Love that brings revalation…a new beginning…be still sweet sister…new blessings await on the horizon.