A small flame

A small flame

when mama's afraid... the fight for faith

When I think about the emotions that erode the sense of 'haven' I want to nurture in my marriage, fear is surely at the top of the list. Some fears are obvious, but I've found that fear is often a chameleon, changing it's colors to masquerade as something else. The desire to for a healthy husband, well-behaved children, a spiritually strong family, the desire to make sure my family has 'enough' financially...

What often begins as good common sense or a Godly desire can easily morph into the uglier and more restless emotion of fear. And that fear can cause me to criticize my husband, to be harsh with his flaws and mistakes instead of extending grace and patience, and to shoulder spiritual leadership that oversteps my God-given role in our marriage.

Definitely not a recipe for making my marriage a haven!



A couple of years ago, I took an entire year to focus on fear: identifying the places where my choices were motivated by fear and then stepping over that fear to live fully in spite of fears. During that year I worked through my Bible, studying the places where fear was mentioned - what an uplifting journey that was! Here are two of the many observations I came away with from my study:

First, the 'fear not' verses in scripture are almost always linked to a trusting & deeply-personal relationship with God. {Psalm 27; Psalm 46; Isaiah 8:11-14; Isaiah 51} God’s antidote for my fear is himself. Everything I fear is temporal, but God reminds me over and over that He is faithful in his salvation and un-changing in his character. When I am afraid, it is because I have lost sight of the vastness of God, His sovereign direction over all areas of my life and the deeply personal nature of His love for me.

Second, the circumstances that cause fear to well up in me have been intentionally placed in my life by God to give me an opportunity to lean hard into him and grow in my trust. To give me an opportunity to experience God more fully or in a new way. {Exodus 20:20; Psalm 34} True, the circumstances might have a visible, human cause but when I look past that human cause with eyes of faith, I can see my Heavenly Father at work. Truly, nothing comes to me that does not first pass through my Father’s hand. Like Peter who found himself walking toward Christ on the water (Matthew 14:22-34), God shows up in my life in unexpected ways. And his coming expands my little world, gives me the opportunity to experience something more amazing than I could have never imagined for myself.

In each circumstance of my life, my responsibility is to remain faithful. It is God's to control the outcome. He is my provider and the architect of my life. When He chooses to allow difficulty in my life or the life of my family, his compassion, wisdom and love means that I can trust him, even in difficulty and pain, to bring about only what is best for me and those I love.

I'm learning to live in light of these truths - some days my practicing is more successful than others - but the rest it brings to my heart spills over into my marriage and my home.

if mama ain't happy...

I am an emotional person, which is often a source of mystery to my sweet husband who is my calm, steady opposite. In the early days of our marriage, this contrast between us caused a lot of upheavals in our relationship. And, if I'm going to be brutally honest, my emotional nature was the wind that whipped up a lot of those storms. We've spent the last 15 years learning to harness our differences for the good of our marriage and our family. We definitely don't have it all figured out, but God has been so gracious in maturing each of us and helping us to learn to live with grace toward each other.

I'm thankful to say that I'm still an emotional person. It's how God made me and, properly harnessed, my emotion is a great strength. It's what drives me to live with passion. It's what gives me the desire to invest in others; to climb into the trenches with people and love them right where they're at. It's what gives me the ability to rejoice with people who are rejoicing and weep with people who are weeping. But my emotional nature is only a strength to the extent that I keep it in submission to the truth of scripture.

The saying, 'If mama ain't happy, ain't no body happy' is the stuff of many a comedy script, but in reality it's often no laughing matter. When we as wives fail to keep our emotions firmly embraced by the arms of the Gospel, we can make ourselves and everyone around us pretty miserable! Learning to base our lives on the character of God and the truth revealed in His word, instead of on our fickle emotions, will go a long way in helping us to create haven in our marriages.

More to come... and a little plug for my husband's story of learning how to live with Godly emotions in his book, The Sin of Always Feeling Ok.

Pray for your husband (part 3)


 On a sunny May day almost 16 years ago, I put on my dream dress, walked down the aisle and exchanged the vows I had written with my groom. That's my wedding story and you have yours.



As wives, we have a unique opportunity & responsibility to pray for our husbands.

As my husband's wife, I have the responsibility and privilege to give him the wifely submission, respect & love that he was designed to need (1 Corinthians 7, Ephesians 5). Together he and I are responsible to nurture & tend our relationship and our marriage.

No one knows my husband as well as I do. I know more about his successes and failures, strengths and weaknesses than anyone else on the planet. And that puts me at a distinct advantage to pray for him. You can't pray for my husband the way that I can. And I can't pray for your husband with the insight that you have about him.

What a privilege we have to pray for our husbands! Let's be faithful to hold them up to a kind, gracious God whose sovereign hand controls the universe yet still guides the smallest, most mundane details of our lives.

I have purposed to set aside February as a time of focused prayer for my husband. Maybe you'd like to do the same? You might even like to partner with a friend, teaming up to pray intentionally for your husbands, holding each other accountable and encouraging each other in your marriages.

Pray for your husband (part 2)

Today I want to discuss praying for our husbands.
At first glance it might not seem like a very important word, that little for.
But can I tell you that it is a huge little word!

For


I want to make sure that I'm praying for my husband, not just about him. At times it can be tempting to pray only about my husband. To turn my prayer times into complaining sessions about him and all the flaws I perceive him to have & all the ways that he is failing to live up to my ideals.

Let me be clear: I believe that there is a place for Godly complaining - lamenting - in our prayer life. A few minutes spent reading the Psalms shows that there is a Godly way to complain that is righteous. Marriage is hard. There are seasons in marriage that break our hearts. And sometimes a lament may be exactly what you need to pour out your heart to God. But I want to be careful to do more than just vent to God about my husband. I want to be able to come to God without a self- serving agenda (God, please make ME happy by fixing HIM ). Instead I want to come to God with a heart that supports my husband by praying for him.

There are a lot of ideas out there of ways to pray for our husbands. A quick online search produces lists of ideas, verses of scripture to use, etc. If you're not quite sure where to start, let me share a few of my favorites:

  • There are a couple of good guides for writing your own lament here and here
 

  • A couple of years ago, my friend Sarah created this prayer journal, Very Great & Precious Promises: 31 days of Praying Scripture Over Your Husband


Each of the 31 days contains a way to pray for your husband - growing in the knowledge of God, walking in his identity in Christ, pursuing faithfulness in marriage, standing firm in spiritual warfare and many more. Each topic is followed by several applicable passages of scripture to help guide your thoughts and prayers. I really like using this resource because it is all scripture. What could be a better guide in my prayer times for my man?


Sarah also included lined journal pages with each day so that as I pray through the book I can write thoughts or specific ways the scripture applies to my prayers at that time. Sarah is in the process of publishing the journal, so if you're interested in purchasing one let me know and I can give you the details.

  • I also like this resource which includes free printable cards. I found the topics for each day to be thoughtful and well-expressed.


Whether you use an existing resource or make your own prayer list, the important thing is that you and I are regularly, purposefully supporting our hubbies in prayer.