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Archive for the ‘Faith’ Category

A Habit of Desperation

It all started when our marriage fell apart. In the midst of disaster, my husband, Brooke, and I fell to our knees and began to pray regularly together in a desperate attempt to put the pieces back together.

Early in our marriage we had periodically tried to pray as a couple but it usually began late at night with one of us longing for the other to initiate it and ended with both of us falling asleep before it was over. However, the crisis that came in years 10-12 of our marriage brought us to a place of willingness to do whatever it took to find healing and restoration, so we began a habit of nearly daily prayer.

This habit born of desperation started as a way for us to reconnect and begin our days on the same page, and it did not disappoint. We threw fancy and formal out the door and instead came to God raw and real. There was no formula or legalism, just earnestness. Some mornings Brooke had to leave for work around 6:00am so he would wake me up at 5:55am. We’d talk to God together for five minutes and then I’d fall back to sleep (or not, but it was worth it.) We brought the Lord our worries and asked Him to work miracles in our lives and marriage. We brought Him our frustrations and confessed even our occasional lack of desire to pray together. We gave Him our children and our future and asked Him to grow His character in all of us. We asked for direction and hope and encouragement and lifted up the needs of our friends and extended family. Where our hearts were shredded God used our consistent prayer time to make them whole and knit our marriage back together again. It was messy, because we are messy—but that is the best way to come to God. When we came without answers and without pride, we found hope.

Read the rest here:  http://www.journeyguy.com/their-story-sarah-beyer/#KmaPwBoOvJScdyJq.99

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To The Wounded

Lately, God has been whispering to me about relational brokenness, particularly that caused by fathers and husbands, and why it hurts so much. One day last fall, I was doing dishes, thinking about a person I know who is somewhat difficult to be in relationship with and God began to speak to my heart about the roots of brokenness in her life that make it difficult for her to have healthy relationships. As He unpeeled the layers of hurt she has experienced, I began to weep over my pots and pans. My heart was overwhelmed with empathy for the pain in her life and also by the compassion and tenderness that I could sense God has for her. With the Holy Spirit heavy on me, I abandoned my dishes and got out my journal to record what I felt He was showing me. This is not a comprehensive study on the subject of relational brokenness, as there are many wounds caused by mothers, and many wounds that men bear as well. It is merely a glimpse into the window that God opened in my heart for this particularly painful kind of brokenness. This is what I wrote, with just a few minor edits to make it flow better:

 

We all have a deep need for an earthly father who provides three things:

1. Security – “You are safe.”

2. Leadership – “Follow me as I follow God.”

3. Unconditional Love – “I love you just as you are.”

When one or more of these needs is left unmet, whether by hurtful words, abandonment, passivity, selfishness or something else, a wound is created and a heart is broken. When women get married, our fathers, figuratively and sometimes literally, give our hand to our husband and those needs transfer to the husband as well. Because we now need the same three things from our husband that we needed from our father, a weak husband has the same effect as a weak father. God refers to Himself as our Father and to Jesus as the Husband of the Church–both earthly relationships were meant to be a reflection of God’s love for us, and both have the potential to cause great pain.

Out of a father’s weakness, we are wounded. The little girl who was supposed to know she is cherished and safe and valued is left alone and broken. She feels worthless and ugly and unsafe and unchosen. She tries to create security and love for herself by being valuable to others. She unknowingly marries a man like her father hoping for a better outcome this time or because she doesn’t expect any better. She gives tremendous amounts of love so she will receive it in return. People who don’t return it with the same depth are cut out. It feels like rejection to her–or a waste of time–because her impossibly deep love-need isn’t being filled by them.

The original Garden Plan, lived for a time by Adam and Eve, was for her to walk in perfect intimacy with all—her father, her husband and her One True Father. The earthly relationships would bring joy that only deepened her joy in her One True Father. Her needs would’ve been met, her heart full to pour out for the joy of others instead of as a cry, begging to be loved back.

But the Garden Plan broke when the people lost trust in their One True Father. And now all the broken fathers and husbands produce broken wives and children. But the brokenness can point us to the Father too. Just as the intimate, whole relationships with father and husband point to the One True Father, so do the broken ones. Where there is earthly brokenness there is great potential to see the One True Father/Husband just as He is—the only One who can really provide true security, love and leadership. The Only One who will never fail us. The One whose love is never dependent on our doing but is just because of our being. The One who never changes, but who gives up everything—His own Son—His own life—to bring us back to wholeness. It is through His own pain that we are able to have whole relationships on earth again. But they will never be a replacement for the One True Father/Husband love that He gives.

 

We must tuck under His wing and find refuge.

We must believe He loves us unconditionally and will keep us safe.

We must give Him our pain and fears and let Him make beauty out of them.

We must yield our hearts and trust Him completely even when we feel like we are walking in the dark.

We must remember we can’t see the whole picture, but He can.

We must give Him our husbands and fathers and allow Him to handle them.

We must let Him help us forgive.

We must offer love as a gift, not as a bartering tool.

We must ask for compassion for those that have hurt us and trust Him with our hearts as we offer it.

We must let His nurturing make us strong.

 

To you with a broken heart, you who carry wounds from your father or husband, you who find yourself reading this today, I believe God is standing before you saying:

I see you.

I’m sorry that the people I put in your life to take care of you and to reflect my love for you have wounded you instead.

But know this—I have never changed.

I am your Security.

I am the One who loves you exactly as you are.

I don’t need you to perform for me. I just want you to let me hold you.

I will show you the way to go if you yield to my way.

Trust me.

I am your One True Father.

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Breathe In, Breathe Out

I’m a breather. Not a heavy breather, just a breather. I breathe frustration and it is a grunt. I breathe overwhelmed and it is a sigh. I breathe exhaustion and it is a yawn. I breathe deep to relieve stress. I breathe steady to relieve pain. I breathe annoyed and my kids just know. Some days I just breathe oxygen in and out to make it through each moment.

Lately, though, I’ve been breathing a new way.

I’ve been totally emptied of everything in me through the challenges that have come into our life recently. It has left me breathless at times. In that emptiness God has done something new in me. (To be honest, this was done mostly against my will, but He is clearly not intimidated by my reticence.) These days, most days, I am breathing in nothing but God’s grace and then He gives me the privilege of breathing it out again.

59 days as a foster parent. 17 trips to the doctor (at least one for each child) and one whole day in the ER. Sickness has defined our last two months and discouragement follows quickly on its heels. And Jesus says over and over again,  “Come to me, you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest for your souls.” Encouragement flows in as we breathe in His grace.

We feed, we clothe, we rock at all hours of the day and night. There is a little boy at our kitchen table who is longing for his birth family and another in our arms who is struggling to thrive.  It isn’t pretty or noble but we stand in the gap and love them until their parents are able to do so. We change diapers and scratch backs and smile into small eyes and we breathe out His grace.

My sweet husband has missed an untold number of days in the office because of all of the sick kids we’ve had at home, but God graciously sparked a dissertation idea in his mind months before our family grew and Brooke has made miraculous progress on the writing. The stress that he would be experiencing if not for this fact would be unbearable on top of all of the stress that our new children have brought. We gratefully breathe in God’s grace.

There is a family who is missing these boys this Christmas and our hearts break for the tragedy. God has an idea: Invite their mother to join us for a Christmas dinner and church service. She comes and is kind and enjoys a picnic on our family room floor and sings beside me in church and hugs her boys tight and we breathe out His grace.

December comes, money dwindles. We choose not to fear, but rather pray. God sends His people and they overwhelm us with their generosity.  Free babysitting, delicious meals, suitcases, restaurant gift cards, Christmas presents, cash, clothing, and a portion of a cow. We have been the stunned and grateful recipients of all of these and more this month. We learn to live on His manna instead of trusting in our bank account and we breathe in His grace.

Right now, our lives are filled with some of the most authentic college students we have ever met.  They worship God with everything in them, they are honest about their struggles and they truly seek God. Brooke and I are humbled that some of them want to spend time with us. We invite them into our home, share what God has taught us, drink lots of coffee and pray for them. God is with us and we love them so we breathe out His grace.

Our recent days are marked by trudging struggle, but every time we begin to fall under the weight of it, the Lord surprises us with a breath of His grace. A precious time of authentic sharing with family at the Thanksgiving table, an uplifting conversation with a close friend, scriptures that define our family journey and give us hope appearing everywhere we turn. We fail as parents and we get frustrated and we treat each other poorly, but the Holy Spirit soothes and we breathe in His grace.

We meet a couple that has just plunged into a dark time in their marriage that is familiar to us and God orchestrates time for both of us to spend with them. We tell them all we know: There is hope. God is the only answer. He is enough. Brooke asks me, “Isn’t it crazy that God lets us be a part of this hope-giving even when we are so messed up???” and still we breathe out His grace.

We are fully living this way on a daily basis, without any excess grace…just breathing it in and then breathing it out. But somehow it is enough that we feel like we are swimming in His grace. He is inexplicable. Never have I understood more what God means when He says that His power is made perfect in my weakness. I am weak and empty and merely a vessel. He is strong and full and fills the vessel so it can be poured out again. This is truly living.

But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in your weakness.” Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 2 Corinthians 12:9

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