Why I Don’t Pray for My Husband to Join My Ministry

I’ve heard countless women…good women, humble women, godly women… pray for God to please move in their husbands’ lives to bring them to a place of ministering together. I love that thought. I love the idea of husbands and wives in ministry together and I’ve been blessed by countless husband/wife duos who serve God together, arm in arm. I love the husbands and wives that co-teach Sunday School. The husbands and wives that co-lead Celebrate Recovery teams. The husbands and wives that open their homes together for small group Bible studies. I love it.

But I’m not going to pray for that anymore. Ever. I’ve been guilty of that before.

My husband is not what you would call a social individual. He’ll talk to anyone who approaches and he’ll give them the shirt off his back, but he won’t seek out someone to talk to. In fact, he’ll do his best to stay out of the way by himself. So, praying for God to bring him to a place of ministering with me in church, in groups, was just asking God to make my husband someone who he isn’t. But God stopped me in my tracks. In one weekend God managed to show me three different ways that He was using my husband, right where he is.

First, we got a message from a soldier that Bob and I met on the WWP Soldier Ride last November. My “I don’t need friends” husband had befriended a younger Vet on the ride and talked to him at great length about overcoming some of the obstacles that he had in his life. He shared candidly about his own problems and how slowing his life down and focusing on God had saved him from a world of hurt. This young Vet wrote us to thank Bob for believing in him and for sharing with him and to tell us that he’d gotten himself squared away and was going to church. Bob ministered to this guy – not in our church, not in our home, but right where he was.

Second, we got a phone call from a very good friend of ours who happens to be a Captain in the Army. One of the men he had served with in Iraq was out of a job, living in a very poor community, and needed help. He asked Bob if he would call him and see about helping him find some work. Bob immediately got on the horn and called this young man, offering him some hope. Again, he didn’t meet this soldier’s needs in our church or in a Bible study in our home, but he used Bob right where he was.

And last but not least, we attended a minor league baseball game with some military friends of ours one very hot, steamy, Florida evening in July. The heat index was well over 100* in the shade and we were already feeling miserable before the game began. A few rows above us on the other side of our section we heard a woman start screaming for help. Her elderly mother had passed out in the heat. My husband did not hesitate to join the first responders that came to her aid. Although he never had a chance to put his schooling into practice, my husband graduated from med school a few years ago at one of the best med schools in the country. He never thought twice about being bothered to help her. He knew what to do. He knew how to help. And he didn’t give it a second thought. Not in a church. Not in a Bible study. But at a minor league baseball stadium.

I will never again pray that God will form my husband into the man that meets my expectations of ministry. God’s plans are so much better than mine and He has a much better idea of how to utilize my husband in His kingdom work than I do. Maybe he doesn’t speak to congregations. Maybe he doesn’t pray over large groups. But to the individuals God has used my husband to reach, he was a blessing. And what more could a wife truly ever want than to know that her husband is right where God wants him?

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Conflicting Comments

They say that men are like waffles; women are like spaghetti. Men can easily compartmentalize things while women tend to connect and intertwine every thought, event, and action like a big ole pile of slippery spaghetti.

It seems like everyone from your mother to your mechanic has advice to offer on a daily basis. We love to criticize the media for their role in negatively impacting our self-esteem but the same barrage of criticism in the form of advice often comes from the pulpit, the women’s Bible study, and our own posts on social media. And not all criticism is bad. Constructive criticism has saved me from many poor decisions. Yet, how do I sift through the onslaught of advice I receive every day?

I wish I was a waffle.

But I’m not. It takes me forever to detangle the mess of critical remarks that the world throws my way… especially when they are conflicting comments. You know exactly what I’m talking about.

*It’s good to get up early before your children so you can pray, spend time with the Lord, and enjoy alone time before your day begins.

**A tired mommy does nobody any good. Get plenty of rest so that you can be the mom they need.

*We need to cleanse our bodies from the impurities that we put in them. It’s important to drink water, eat healthy foods, and get plenty of exercise every day.

**It’s harmful to compare ourselves to others. Be happy with who you are and what you look like. We can’t all be a size 4. Embrace your body the way it is and stop living for the acceptance of others. Besides, God loves you just the way you are.

*If you make a commitment, you should keep it.

**Your family should always come first. If they need you, you should break all other commitments.

*It’s our job, as parents, to protect our kids from the outside world.

**If we shelter our children, we are not providing them with opportunities to learn and grow.

I could go on and on, but you get the idea.

That’s why it’s so important to have Truth to filter such comments through. While it’s certainly a blessing to have experts in the fields of medicine, marriage, health, children, employment, and so on, there’s only one Expert that I know will never give me conflicting advice.

God.

It’s not easy to know what to do. It’s not easy to make decisions as a mother, a wife, a woman. It’s not easy to muddle through the piles of advice we receive every day and to clearly discern which advice is worth applying to our lives and which advice should line the bottom of the bird cage.

And often both sides of conflicting advice are good…. given the right circumstances.

Only God knows the plan He has for our lives. So ultimately, it should only be Him that we seek when we are unsure of what to do.

Only he can make a waffle decision out of my pile of spaghetti.

A New Word, A New Year

The past few years, around Christmas, I’ve begun praying that God would give me a new word for the new year. For example, last year He gave me the word “abide”. I didn’t think it was the coolest word and I kept praying about it but that was the word. Abide. So I looked it up. Abide has three meanings. It can mean to accept or bear something. It can mean to stay or live somewhere. Or it can mean to remain or continue. Little did I know on the eve of 2014 that God would meet me in each of those definitions. He walked me through the accepting and bearing of difficult situations throughout the year. He answered our prayers and moved our family to Florida- the new state in which we “abide”. And He has encouraged my heart in the tasks He has given me in which I need to remain or continue.

In 2014 we not only remained, we watched God start many new things in our lives. A new home in a new state. Homeschooling our “fab five”. New adventures, new organizations, new relationships. Yet, with everything “new” in 2014, He beckoned my heart to abide in Him. To make my home snuggled up in His arms. To nest under His wings. To push in so close, so deep, that I find myself lulled to sleep by the beating of His heart. That’s what it means to abide in Him.

This Christmas, God gave me a new word before I even started praying for one. In fact, I’ve heard this word whispered to me throughout the year, without knowing it would be “the” word for 2015. The word is “intentional”. I’m sure I’m just one of a few hundred people who will be focused on the word “intentional” this year, but I know God has unique and personal reasons for extending this word to me just as He had for the word “abide” and for previous words in previous years. I’m excited to see what God is going to reveal to me in 2015. I’m excited to become more intentional in the various arenas of my life. Here are a few ways I’m praying to become more intentional:

1. Daily Bible reading
2. My relationship with my children
3. My health
4. Ministry

If you do not already pray for God to give you a new word each year, I encourage you to start praying now. Jeremiah 29:13 says that when we seek Him with our whole heart, we will find Him. If you want to embrace what the Lord has for you, you have to seek Him and ask Him what it is that He wants for you. Why not start by asking Him for a word that will impact your year?

So you were told to have an abortion…

So you were told to have an abortion…

I was told that once, myself. My first pregnancy, at the age of 20, came as such an exciting surprise to me. I was a young bride with lupus and I had no idea if I could even get pregnant yet there was the proof on that thin blue line on that long white stick. Pregnant.

I wasted no time picking out baby names and nursery themes, wondering if he or she would have chubby cheeks or dark hair like mine. I was beyond thrilled that I was now someone’s mommy. But all of that excitement, thrill, and joy was met with the worst news that I had ever received in my life. A simple phone call from my rheumatologist (lupus doctor) threatened to shatter all of my dreams. That was the day I was diagnosed with pulmonary hyptertension and told that “the standard of care is abortion”.

I will never forget those words. The standard of care? The standard of CARE? Care for who? Killing my baby would certainly not show care for him or her. And killing my baby would all but physically kill me, as well. The standard of care? My rheumatologist would go into no other details but told me that I must see a perinatologist (high-risk obyn) at once and within a few days I was in the perinatologist’s office. What I didn’t know at the time was that my rheumatologist was a strong Christian woman, who was bound by legal medical standards to inform me that an abortion was “the standard of care” and that as soon as she put the phone down with me, she hit her knees and pleaded with God that I would not take her advice. She knew I was a Christian, too, and she begged God for a miracle. That night she went to her ladies’ Bible study group, and even though she knew it was illegal to give them my name, she shared my first name with those precious saints and asked them to pray for me by name, as well.

God heard their prayers. And he heard the prayers of many others. After visiting the perinatologist, I was given a 50% chance (at best) of surviving the next 9 months, and that was only if I aborted my child. If I refused an abortion, she could not even give me a percentage of opportunity to live. She said I would be flat on my back in a hospital bed, on a ventilator, and that the baby and I would most likely both die that way. Essentially, I would suffocate to death. Ironically, I’m claustrophobic and suffocating is my biggest fear. Despite the scary news, I knew that I could not abort my child. I was a Christian. I was pro-life. I was taught that abortion was wrong. I wasn’t a “wanted” child either but I had managed to life an incredible life. Didn’t my baby deserve the same opportunity? And my baby WAS wanted. Shouldn’t I just trust God? Wasn’t this an opportunity to live out those promises that God’s strength would be made perfect in my weakness?

So, without hesitation, I told my very disgruntled perinatologist that I would not be aborting my baby. She was not happy with me. She used every scare tactic she knew. She showed me case studies and charts and all the stats that said I would die. But I insisted that I could not kill my baby and that instead I would be trusting my God to make that decision. She rolled her eyes and told me that all she could do then was try to keep me comfortable. I thanked her for that. And then I sent out an email.

Back in 1999, e-mail was still a pretty new thing and it was the dawn of the chain email phenomenon. I sent out an email to just about every friend or family member that I had in my address book. I told them of the great news of my pregnancy and the terrifying news of my diagnosis. And I asked them to pray. I was quickly inundated with replies of encouragement and promises to pray. As my friends and family forwarded my emails on to their friends and family, the replies began flooding in from around the country and around the world. I was being lifted up. My baby was being lifted up. I knew God was hearing our prayers.

Praying about something never guarantees that God will answer our prayers the way we want Him to. I knew that God could choose to take my baby. I knew God could choose to take me. I knew that God could choose to take me and spare my baby and leave my husband to raise our child alone, at the age of 20. I knew all of those things, yet God gave me a peace that the decision was HIS to make and that it was HIS will that should be done, not my own. Even though God gave me peace about the decision, I won’t lie and say it was easy. My faith didn’t waiver but my heart sure did. I asked God, “Why is this happening to ME? What did I do to deserve this?” I learned at that very young age that God is big enough to handle our fears and our doubts. He’s big enough to handle all of our questions. He knows our hearts and our thoughts and there’s no point in trying to hide them from him. He won’t walk away just because we question Him. In fact, every time I asked Him, “Why?” He pulled me in a bit closer to Himself. That’s what Fathers do.

For the next six weeks, friends and family prayed for me and my unborn baby. Every day that I woke up feeling fine, I thanked God. I had no symptoms. I had no trouble breathing. I just stayed in bed and grew my baby the best I could. After six weeks, I was called back to the hospital to repeat the tests and see how far the disease had progressed. I was not expecting much progression, if any, as I was still symptom free, but I was thankful for proactive doctors so I completed the tests and waited for the results.

My perinatologist sat me down in her office once again, with a completely stunned look on her face. She plopped a huge stack of records on her desk and said, “These are all of your records from your previous tests that show you have pulmonary hypertension. Blood work, cardiology reports, pulmonary reports… all showing definitive pulmonary hyptertension.” Then plopping down another stack of records she added with a sigh, “And these are all of your records from this week that show you do not have pulmonary hypertension. Honestly, I don’t understand. Pulmonary Hypertension does not go away. And we did not make any mistakes. We have multiple tests proving you had it and now multiple tests proving that it’s gone.” Sighing once again, she added, “I guess this is what you would probably call a Miracle.”

As I left her office that day, smiling and laughing and thanking God, I knew that if my baby was a little girl, her name really should be Miracle. On Sunday, June 25, 2000, my red-headed, chubby-cheeked, perfect baby girl was born and we named her Miracle. In my subsequent pregnancies, prenatal ultrasounds showed chorid plexus cysts in my babies’ brains indicating potential retardation or other health issues. Once again, I was told that “the standard of care is abortion”, but knowing that my God works Miracles, I chose to trust Him again. Each of my children were born perfectly healthy and continue to thrive. I am now a mother of five and I have a passion for helping other women learn how to trust God in the midst of their circumstances.

My Miracle, Age 14

My Miracle, Age 14

My Open-Book, Open-Life Philosophy

Some people think I post too much on Facebook. They’re probably right, by society’s standards. I post a lot. I repost pictures and jokes and news stories. I post pictures of what I ate for lunch, my kids, my nails, the sky, and I’ll even confess to posting a number of random selfies. It shouldn’t surprise anyone that I’m a Communication major at Arizona State and I happen to place a great deal of importance on the process building relationships. That’s what communication does.

One of my strongest convictions is that life was meant to be shared. Nothing that God has given me did He intend for me to hoard for myself. So I share my accomplishments. I share my joys. I share the things that make me smile. And I’m real enough with myself that I can even share my disappointments and my failures. I share my recipes and I share my favorite songs. I share my heart- whatever condition it may be in. And sometimes, that means I share my weaknesses and my vulnerabilities. Some people just do not understand why I would feel compelled to do that.

Here’s why. The more someone shares, the more you know them. So, the more I openly share, the more you know me. The more you know me, the more you know my faith, my God, and my faith IN my God. The more you know me, my faith, and my God, the more you will know how much He loves you. Because He does. He really, really does.

This morning, I had one of those mornings that easily could have gone either way. I was right on the fence. I had a decision to make. Fall apart and cry and just hate life today. (Btw, I was definitely leaning that way.) Or, choose to smile, trust God’s plan, and give the day to Him. I chose the second. It was the right choice. Then, as I frequently do. I posted my feelings on FB.

fb status

My morning is not going as planned. The very human part of me wants to sulk. Maybe even cry. Fortunately, the Spirit-filled part of me is also grace-filled and strength-filled, so I’m choosing to smile and trust that God has a great plan for my day. Gotta walk by faith.

That was my post. Several people “liked” it. A few commented on it. Then I got a phone call from a dear friend, sister in Christ, and “Mama” in my life who has moved to Detroit. She wanted to check in on me, love on me, give me her Mama encouragement like only she can do. Throughout our conversation, we both realized how AWESOME it is that God allows those moments in our lives when things are less than ideal- because when you find joy in the less-than-desirable… well, that’s the REAL stuff. That’s REAL joy. And when you share THAT kind of joy… well, it’s contagious! It spreads. And people around you dealing with less-than-ideal stuff can be blessed, too. Sometimes, when you choose to smile and trust God, you need to tell the world that’s what you’re doing because maybe, just maybe, it will encourage someone else to do that, too. We all need to be reminded once in a while that we have a choice in how we respond and react to every circumstance in our life. Bad circumstances do NOT have to equal a bad day.

That’s why I share. That’s why my life is an open book. I’ve been through too much to sit back and hold it all in.

So here I am. An open book. Excited to turn the page on this day and let God keep writing my story.

Weapon #3

Weapon 3

When dealing with difficult people who like to raise their voice and yell at me, I’ve often found the best way to respond is to whisper. When I lower my voice, people feel less threatened, the situation deescalates, and they want to know what I’m saying. The whisper is an amazing tool in the world of communication. It stirs up many emotions inside of us, bringing us feelings of deeper intimacy and closeness. We love it when our spouses whisper loving words in our ear. We melt when our little ones whisper a secret. We read in 1 Kings 19 that God even spoke to Elijah not through the burning fire, not through the violent wind, but through a gentle whisper. A whisper can usher in life.

However, when placed in the enemy’s hand, a whisper can usher in death as a weapon of destruction. Knowing the full capabilities and powers of a whisper, the enemy uses it to lure us into safely believing the words we hear. When the enemy shouts at us, we recognize the assault and readily reject it. But when he whispers, if we are not on guard, we can fall prey to his enticement and become ensnared in his wicked ways.

You have to be careful, dear sisters, to interpret what you hear. The voice of God can be difficult to discern from the voice of the enemy. For example, the enemy may whisper that you’re too fat and that you’re husband doesn’t find you desirable any more. God will whisper that He loves you just as you are and wants you to turn to Him to help you become healthier so you can live the life He has planned for you. Do you see the difference? The enemy breathes death but our Savior breathes life! The subject is the same but the message is very different.

So now that we know how to recognize the whispers of the enemy and we know how he uses them, what can we do about it? Thankfully, God gave us the armor we need to defend ourselves from this weapon. Right now, I want you to look down at your index fingers. Hold them up! Now, place them in your ears, smile, and sing loudly, “Lalalalalalalalalalalala I can’t hear you satan!!!!!!!” James 4:7 says, “Humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil and HE WILL FLEE!” That’s a promise! God gave you holy fingers to plug your ears so that you can resist the whispers of the evil one. Sisters, do not be afraid! Your God has given you protection over every weapon in that coward’s arsenal. Praise Him!

Weapon #2

Weapon 2

It’s no surprise to us that the enemy likes to creep around in the dark. Most crimes are committed at night, after the sun has gone down. That’s when we’re the most vulnerable. We can’t see the danger around us and our attackers can sneak around undetected. At the time of day that we are ready to relax, let our guard down, and rest the evil in our world rises from the shadows and attacks. Satan is no different than the common criminal on the street. He preys upon our vulnerability. He waits for us to shut our eyes. That’s when he pounces.

The Bible says that satan blinds the minds of unbelievers to keep them from seeing the Light of the Gospel of the glory of Christ (2 Cor. 4:4). He doesn’t have that kind of power over those of us who have given our hearts and lives to Jesus but that doesn’t keep him from trying. Satan uses the darkness to his advantage to prey upon the weak but he uses it as a weapon against those who stand strong with the strength of Christ. If we’re not guarded, we may find ourselves covered in a mask of darkness. But don’t worry, Jesus has already overcome the darkness.
How does he use the darkness as a weapon in marriages? First, he blinds us from seeing ourselves. Have you ever been so busy looking at your husband’s faults that you didn’t see your own? When we fail to look at ourselves and examine our own hearts, we miss an opportunity to become more like Jesus. That creates one of those cracks in our character and in our marriages that we talked about last time. When we allow a crack in our marriage, the enemy likes to stick a wedge between us and pry us apart. Second, the enemy blinds us from seeing Christ at work. Have you ever been so fixated on what’s going wrong that you missed what’s going right? For the first three years of my marriage, I stayed fixated on the fact that my husband flat out refused to ever buy me flowers. We went round and round about it and the more I brought it up, the more determined he became to never buy them for me. For three years, I wore blinders that kept me from seeing the amazing things that my husband DID do for me. Finally, one day I realized (with God’s help) that I had been deceived. I had allowed myself to become so hurt by what I chose to look at that I missed the healing that was all around me. Now, when my husband comes home and brings me a Coke from McDonalds, because he knows they’re my favorite, I smile to myself and say, “There’s my flowers.” Or when he turns the electric blanket on for me before I crawl into bed, I smile and think, “There’s my flowers.”
So how do we protect ourselves from this weapon of a mask?

Step #1- Keep your eyes on Jesus. When you stay fixated on the Light, the darkness has no room to creep in.

Step #2- Pray for night vision goggles. Our soldiers use them in the dessert to see the enemy approaching at night. They can launch a counter-attack before the enemy can even get within range of hurting them. Being prepared is key. The best offense is a good defense.

But we all have momentary lapses of doing the right thing, and we turn our eyes elsewhere. So, what do we do?

Step #3- Pray for open eyes. God WANTS us to bring our A-game onto the battlefield. He is more than ready to rip the blinders off for us. We just have to ask Him.

But what do we do when we realize we’ve been stuck in the dark for a long time? Won’t ripping the blinders off hurt?

Step #4- Pray for new eyes. Our God is a God of second chances. And third chances. And five millionth chances. Are you afraid to see what’s in front of you? Are you afraid of the light? Ask Him for new eyes. He’s a merciful God. He will give you eyes that are ready to embrace the light and see the truth in love.

When my husband and I have arguments, I used to pray, “God, please help him to see that he’s wrong.” Then God started working on my heart and I began praying, “God, please just help him to see that I’m right.” God did a little more work in my heart and I began praying, “God, please just help us to see the same thing.” Now I pray, “God, help us to see each other through YOUR eyes.” A dear friend of mine used to say that every morning she would pray for God to give her new eyes to see her husband. I think this is a beautiful prayer and I try to remember to pray it often. When we see our husbands through new eyes, we can more clearly see them the way God intended us to. And seeing the light of God’s truth makes the darkness flee.

Weapon #1

As promised, here is the first in a series of devotionals for military wives about the weapons the enemy tries to use against our marriages. These devotionals will also be located under the tab at the top of my page called “WAR Ministry”. Please feel free to check back there often for future devotionals.

Weapon 1

You may have expected something a little more threatening for our first weapon to study. You may also be wondering how a wedge could be considered a weapon, yet this is one of the adversary’s greatest tools in destroying marriages. Have you ever seen someone split wood? In the narrowest of cuts on the top of a log, a wedge can be placed and with one drop of a hammer that log will split in two. That is how the enemy attacks our marriages. He observes the tiny cuts we have- cuts of disagreement, cuts of misunderstanding, cuts of jealousy, cuts of dishonesty. While the cuts themselves are almost unnoticeable and seem to cause us no harm, when the wedge is applied, those cuts are ripped wide open. If our marriage is soft or decayed, the enemy does not even need to apply much pressure. The wedge by itself will cut our marriages in half. If our marriage is strong, the enemy will be required to add more pressure to the wedge. Sometimes we see this pressure in the form of loss- loss of a loved one, a job, a position, a home. The more pressure that is applied to the wedge in the split in our marriage, the greater the division between us.

The good news is that God is stronger than any wedge and He gives us His strength and power to defeat the enemy.

Here’s how we do it:
Step 1- No cracks! OK, so no one is perfect and no marriage is perfect, yet God’s Word tells us how to live a life that is pleasing to the LORD. When we sin, we allow cracks in our marriage. So the closer we stay to God, the fewer cracks we’ll have. Praying for your marriage every day also serves as a sealant over your marriage and prevents many cracks from occurring. (John 15:5-7)

Step 2- Seal up those cracks! When we do sin, we need to seek forgiveness. Did you lie about something to your husband? Confess and apologize. Did you say unkind things to him? Tell him you’re sorry and praise him for the things he does that bless you. When we reconcile our differences, we seal up those cracks so that the enemy has no room to create more division. (James 5:16)
But what if it’s too late? What if the crack is already there, the wedge is in place, and you’re feeling the pressure. Then what?

Step 3- Push the wedge out! It’s extremely difficult to do and you cannot do it in your own strength. You have to rely on the strength, authority, and power of our Heavenly Father. This doesn’t mean that when you’re disrespecting your husband, you’re not reading God’s Word, you’re being selfish, and you’re bitter about everything that you can just call on the name of Jesus and expect all of the pressure to go away. It certainly doesn’t work like that. You need to review Steps 1 & 2 to make your heart and your marriage right. But with the LORD’s help, you CAN defeat the enemy and claim your marriage for Him. (Luke 10:19)