Thursday, September 27, 2012

"Marriage Is What Brings Us Together Today"

I was going to try and do a reference to the priest from "The Princess Bride" in the title to this post, but I couldn't figure out how to spell the quote to where all of you people would understand me. So if you've seen the movie, go back and read the title like the priest would've said it. Maybe it would've looked something like this: "Mawage ish wot bwings us togedder tooode" Classic movie. Love it.

Anyways, if you don't get it yet, this is going to be a rant er, post about marriage. Apparently some other bloggers must be on the same drift as me because I've already read two other posts from my "favorites" on this same topic just this morning. 

Roman and I found out yet another Christian couple is getting a divorce last night. Another one. Another couple that made a vow before God to love each other until death. Another couple with young children. Another couple that is very active in their church. Another CHRISTIAN couple.

(Now, let me do a quick disclaimer: Roman and I are not particularly close to this couple. They're really just an acquaintance. We didn't even know them well enough to develop an opinion on whether they were "rock solid" or not. So perhaps they had Biblical grounds for a divorce. But this isn't exactly posted for them anyways.) 

Here's where I'm getting at guys. I read in one of my favorite blogs, Mission Husband, that Christian couples have a higher statistic of divorce than non-Christians. That is a very real, very big problem! We are supposed to be an example to the world in every area of our lives, including our marriages. 

The number one reason I hear from others going through a divorce as to why they left their spouse is this one: "I am not happy." And a lot of times that statement gets topped off with something like "I deserve to be happy" or "God wants me to be happy". I am so very tired of that last one...."God wants me to be happy." Can someone please whip out their Bibles and show me a Scripture verse that says "Thou shalt be happy" or "You can do what you want as long as you are happy"? Anyone?? No. You can't. Why? Because it isn't there. Sure, God cares about us. But He cares more about our obedience to Him than our happiness. And at the end of the day, whether or not we are happy really is not important!!

I see a selfish people when I look at America. I see a nation that ruthlessly aborts children because they are not wanted. I see a nation that indulges itself in alcohol, drugs, and terrible foods to make itself feel better. I see a nation that is engulfed in pornography. I see a nation that doesn't really care all that much about the widows or the orphans or the poor. I see a nation that will marry and divorce all it wants to, so long as its happy. I see a nation that gorges itself on what it can buy and how it can make itself look better. And you know what? Most of these things are done based off this one simple lie: "I deserve to be happy."

I deserve to be happy, so I'm going to abort this child because it will interfere with my life. I deserve to be happy, so I am going to get drunk because it's fun. I deserve to be happy, so I'm going to watch this porn or read that nasty book in order to bring pleasure to myself. I deserve to be happy, so I'm not going to spend any time with the poor and needy. I deserve to be happy, so I'm going to divorce my husband because that new man at work is my true "soul mate". I deserve to be happy, so I'm going to get myself into debt so I can buy that new car, that pretty house, and that nice boat. Am I right, or am I right?

And you know what? I expect that out of a sinful, wicked nation. But you know who should be different? US! The church! We are called to a different way of thinking! We are called to rise above this world and deny ourselves and follow Christ. And in my honest opinion, we are doing a terrible job of it.

Church of America, I beg you, wake up. Deny yourself and follow Christ. Quit being so selfish by pursuing what pleases you. Pursue what will please God instead. And if you aren't sure what will please God, let me give you a hint: read the Bible and take on a life of prayer.

Getting back to the marriage thing....unless your spouse has had an affair or your life is in danger, you have no Biblical grounds for a divorce. It's that simple. I'm sorry if that's harsh, but it's the truth.

There's a very popular statement I see floating around on the Internet right now: "The grass isn't greener on the other side, it's greener where you water it." Oh how very true that is. If we could only take that truth and run with it. If we could only understand that marriage really is a lot of hard work, that it requires hard work up until the day we die. And if we leave our spouse for someone else, guess what? It will eventually get just as hard with that other person and we'll probably wind up leaving them too in pursuit of greener pastures. Can you see the vicious cycle?

I know that this is a hard thing to swallow. I know it is not popular. But let's face it: marriage can be stinkin' hard some days. And if we don't fight for our marriages, if we don't decide that we are in this no matter what, then those hard days can turn into a hard week, and that hard week can turn into a hard month, and then that hard month can turn into a hard year, and then before we know it, that "divorce" word starts running around in our minds. And then Satan brings that nice, attractive man or woman to your attention and you start wondering how much easier your life could be if you just left your dead marriage and started fresh.

Two years ago, on June 5th, 2010, at around 3 in the afternoon, I made a vow. I made a vow to my husband in front of over 200 people and in front of God Himself, that I would marry Roman Shaler Casterline. I vowed to stay with him until death. I vowed to stay faithful to him. I vowed to give my heart to him and only him. I vowed to "do life" with him. He has my heart. He shares my dreams. We are building a legacy together that will hopefully be passed onto our (future) children. We are doing our best to make His name famous and to shine a light. I take those vows seriously. Roman takes his vows seriously. Has it been easy? Some days, yes! Some days it is easy to be in love and have all of those romantic feelings. But other days, it is hard. Other days we annoy the ever-loving snot out of each other. We have arguments. We don't see eye to eye all of the time. But at the end of the day, he is my husband and I am his wife and we will make up and go to bed together and wake up married the next day. And we will continue on through the mountains and valleys of this life. Together.

All I'm asking is that we try a little harder to just stay together. Let's get it in our heads that marriage is truly a life-long commitment. Let's take our vows seriously and understand that God does not take it lightly when we break a vow we've made to Him. God will never ever ever want you to get a divorce just so you can "be happy". If you feel like He's telling you that, then you're listening to the wrong voice, because breaking a vow to pursue your selfish desires is sinful, and God never commands us to sin. He wants us to stay married, through the good times and the bad. Because we are His children, and we are called to live a pure and holy life.

And I'm sure there might be someone that reads this and thinks "well you don't know my situation." You know what? You're right, I don't. Which is why I'm encouraging you to dig deep into the Word of God. I encourage to fall on your knees in prayer and truly seek after God's will for your marriage. And definitely seek out some counseling if things really are that bad. But please, please don't just walk away from your marriage. Think back to those days when you were newlywed and smitten, dig your heels in and put up a good fight for your marriage. Because we are the light of the world. And if we can't show the world what true love and commitment looks like, then who will? No one.

Climbing off my box now......

"But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery."                                                                                              ~Matthew 5:32

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

I've Got Sunshine.....

Sometimes I lose perspective. I forget that this whole thing is bigger than me. It's bigger than my checking account or the pile of laundry on the floor. It's bigger than a dirty car or a messy desk.

I have a tendency to make all of these little things into really huge things and then allow those things to occupy my mind for days at a time. They can totally consume my thoughts if I allow them. Sometimes I can recognize the assault on my mind and take those thoughts captive. Other times though, they quietly march around and gain strength. And then without me even noticing, my mind is consumed with a neverending to-do list, a financial crisis, and a million reasons of why "I just can't" be who God has called me to be.

This parade of negativity has some nasty consequences, not just on my spiritual and mental self, but on my physical body as well. My mind gets overwhelmed and so I eat junk food. Then I get sad that I'm eating so much junk food but I figure since I've already eaten one cookie I might as well go on and eat a second one........

And then there is my poor husband and anyone else I'm close to. When my mind is caught up in everything else, I tend to push others away from me. I tend to think only of myself and nothing of what they might be going through. And if they are having a bad day too, then this frame of mind can be a recipe for disaster.

So now with a background into how my mind works, can you see how important it is for me to take every thought captive to my Lord and Savior? I would dare say that most of us struggle with the "dark cloud of negativity" from time to time.....some more than others. Satan loves to keep our minds busy with our troubles so we can't see the beauty around us. Because if he can make us feel abandoned.....he's that much closer to getting us to give up entirely.

Yesterday I was off work (hallelujah). I spent the first several hours of my day off sleeping. As in, I woke up at 11 a.m. yesterday. Some people sleep that long and feel awful....sleeping that long is actually one of the only things that can get me feeling like a human being. I think I've mentioned it before, but my body just requires more sleep than others. So I woke up in a pretty good mood, made a fruit smoothie and slowly started cleaning the house. But it wasn't long before I started paying extra attention to how dirty the house was, how many bills were stacked up on my counter, how my shorts don't fit like they used to and suddenly I found myself parked in front of the TV eating a Twix bar.

And then suddenly, Duke started barking his head off. He wanted outside. I opened the door to let him out, but he stopped to look at me instead. He wanted me to come with him. So I sighed and walked out the door and sat on the porch swing while he sniffed around the yard. But then he got a wild hair and he just started running. He would run in a big circle, dive into the ground, roll around, get up, and run in a big circle again. He repeated this for several minutes. I laughed at him the whole time and that's when it hit me: God is good.

I'm sitting on the back porch watching my dog play in our huge yard that is surrounded by fields. It was so beautiful. There was a nice breeze and it felt so good outside yesterday. God created everything my eyes could see and gave me such a beautiful place to call home. I quit looking at all of the bad and started paying attention to the beauty around me. After that I returned inside with a much happier frame of mind.

We choose whether to see the beauty in life or the ugliness. I know what focusing on the ugly does to me. I know how it pollutes my mind and sends me down a path of self-loathing and general unhealthiness. I want to make more of an effort to focus on the good in this life and to look at the bigger picture.

Praise be to God that I have the Holy Spirit to shine a light into my mind when I start traveling down a dark road. I am so thankful for a God who is actively involved with my life, rather than a God who is never present and makes me go through stuff like this on my own. And I am also very thankful that I married an optimistic man that is always making me laugh. God bless that bright-spirited man.

So with that, I will share a personal goal I've set for myself this week. Part one: when I find myself worrying over the troubles of life, I will redirect my thoughts and spend the next few minutes thanking God for what I have. Part two: make a better effort to spend time in the Word and in prayer.    Feel free to join me!!  :)

"May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fulness of life and power that comes from God."  ~Ephesians 3:19

Thursday, September 13, 2012

More Than I Can Handle

Reason #1 why I have not written in over a week: I've had limited access to a private computer.

Reason #2: I've been sick this week.....  As for last week....I have no excuse.  ;)

So I apologize for my absence........sorry sorry sorry!! Forgive me? Okay good.

But you want me to be completely honest? Of course you do. I have no idea what to write about right now. This is actually the fourth introduction I've written to this post. All the others were dumb(er) so they got scrapped. It's not that I haven't had anything going on over the past eight days. I just have a severe case of writer's block.

The problem is, I have a ton of stuff swirling around in my brain today. Actually, it's been swirling around up there for days. Ever since I wrote my last blog post about Peru, that country has weighed heavily on my mind. I actually had tears well up when I read about an individual going on a mission trip there...and she hadn't even left yet. All she said was that she was asked to go. Um, what in the world is wrong with me?

Then there is the whole other thing which will make some of my family members jump up and down for joy: I've caught the baby fever. But don't get too excited, we won't be having kids for another good long while. It just doesn't go too well when you have the baby fever yet know you can't have a baby right now. Again, what in the world is wrong with me?

Add all of that to some of my every day stressors (work, money, cat keeps leaving dead cockroaches on the floor, someone obviously keeps shrinking my jeans....) and you have the recipe for a very plugged up brain and an emotional wife. My poor, poor husband.

That's not to say that good things aren't happening too. Our dishwasher is just as amazing every time I use it. I smile every time I hear the air conditioning cut on. And Duke is more than a little bit happy about his oversized backyard. Our church is starting to thrive again as our congregation begins to unite under God's plan. My parents will celebrate their 45th wedding anniversary this Sunday. We have a whole lot of stuff to be thankful for.

Just know that this week, life is trying to get the best of me. From finances, to crazy work days, to muffin tops, to 100 unread e-mails, to a sinus infection and a torn ACL in my right knee, this week has been slightly more than I could handle.

But you know what? That's kind of a good thing in disguise. I'm (mostly) okay with life being out of control some days. People like to parade this quote all over the place: "God never gives you more than you can handle." Please show me where the Bible says that. And while you are looking, I'll just stand over here and live to be a hundred years old. Because you're not going to find it. Because God never said that. God allows us to go through stuff that is more than we can handle every day. If He didn't, then we would never need Him.

So I'll look at the last few days like this: this week has been way more than I could handle. My checkbook's current state of death is more than I can handle. A torn ACL and a sinus infection is more than I can handle. Cockroaches are more than I can handle. Small jeans are more than I can handle. But God allows all of this *crap* to enter into my life to make His name famous. Because in my weakest moments, when I am well past my breaking point, He can come running through my heart and grow my faith in a great big way. And I'll come through this week triumphant and singing His praises....and I'll be just a little bit more like Him as well. Which is a pretty darn good solution to all of this messy stuff.

So yea, I'll probably cry a few more times this week. I'll probably make a few more faces when I find another dead cockroach. I'll probably loathe the chocolate ice cream I will devour tonight when I literally jump into my jeans tomorrow morning. And that's all okay with me, because I know that God moves in the rough times. Don't get me wrong, He definitely moves in the good times too. But it's good to know that when life gets tough, God's presence doesn't run. He doesn't abandon us when we're crying over jeans and sinus infections. He doesn't abandon us when we are hurting or confused. He doesn't abandon us when we have ten zillion questions lurking in our minds over babies and countries.

But one thing is for sure, I am going running this afternoon and there is nothing you can do to stop me. Unless you are God and you send a rain cloud over my house. Call me stupid for running with a torn ACL and a sinus infection, but running helps clear my head (and besides, the doctor cleared me to run a little bit as long as its on smooth surfaces). And today, my head needs some clearing and my soul needs some Jesus. Running helps me find both. 

For all of you out there who are having ridiculously stressful weeks like me: take heart. God deeply loves you, regardless of what you are going through. Life sometimes gets so crazy that we can't hear Him, but I promise He is still there. We may not ever understand why we go through some of the things we go through, but know that as long as we persevere, there is a plan with the result of God being glorified and our faith being magnified.

I don't know about you, but that's enough for me.

"Show me the right path, O Lord; point out the road for me to follow. Lead me by Your truth and teach me, for You are the God who saves me. All day long I put my hope in You."   ~Psalm 25:4-5

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Dear Peru, I Miss You

When I was fifteen years old, right before Roman and I started dating, I went on a week-long mission trip to Peru. For anyone who is not well versed in geography, Peru is located on the West side of South America, right next to Brazil. My school partnered with Compassion International and we traveled down there right before Christmas to deliver the children's Christmas gifts paid for by their sponsors.

Two things you need to know about me:
1) I have always known that I have been called into some sort of missions, ever since I can remember. Whether that means I am a missionary overseas or a missionary in my hometown.....I've just always known that.
2) I have always loved the Spanish language. It is so beautiful to me. I caught on so quickly in high school. My #1 regret is that I went to college for Accounting rather than Spanish. I think if I had been listening to God when it came time for me to pick a major then I probably would have gone for Spanish....but that story is for another post.   Back on track. Just know that I love the language so much that even though its been four years since I took my last Spanish class, I still dream in Spanish on a pretty regular basis. Which is actually quite rare...normally after that long of a time period you forget almost everything you learned. I have not. (A sign, perhaps? haha)

So when my high school teacher announced the words "mission trip" and "Peru" at the start of my tenth grade school year, I jumped all over that one. My parents heard endless pleading by my adorable fifteen year old self to please please please won't you please let me go I promise I will raise the money and that I'll stay safe while I'm there so please please please please!?!?

It didn't take long for them to say yes. Thank God I have godly parents. 

We knew right from the start that I was meant to go, within just a few weeks of me sending letters to sponsors, I had already raised the money I needed.....and some people still had not responded yet. Don't quote me on the number, but I believe by the time we left for Peru I was $1,500 over what I actually needed. That turned out to be so great because we were able to use that money to buy extra supplies and gifts for the kids. 

I never knew how big of an impact seven days in a different country could make. I remember flying into Lima (the capital of Peru). I remember getting our bags and walking outside....getting my first taste of the country that would still touch my heart seven years later. I remember the smells....the smoggy air of a city filled with beat-up cars that could probably burn a hole into the ozone layer all by themselves. I remember the people....some with friendly faces, some with faces filled with pain. A pastor in Lima was there to bring us to his church...they were going to feed us breakfast before we got on an eight-hour bus ride to Huaraz. I quietly sat in the bus.....just soaking in the culture around me. Looking at the billboards, the people, the cars, the buildings, the scenery.

I remember that Pastor's tiny church with that tiny kitchen. I remember the taste of the best orange juice I have ever tasted in my whole entire life (I'm not joking-I wouldn't drink orange juice for years after I got home because American orange juice is nasty in comparison to theirs).

The bus ride up the mountain was filled with beautiful scenery.....and very interesting passengers. I couldn't tell you which city I enjoyed the most, because they both touched my heart. But Huaraz was the most beautiful place I've ever been....a good-sized city tucked away in the snow-capped mountains of Peru. We stayed in the Hotel Santa Cruz. It had high walls surrounding it to help keep us safe. The food was glorious. The hotel itself was beautiful.

But it was not the scenery or the hotel or the food that made such an impression on me. It was the people.

Thousands upon thousands of beautiful people. They worked so very hard, just to put a little bit of food on their tables inside of their mud and clay homes. Their houses were stacked right next to each other, as far up the mountain as you could see. They walked on dirt floors...not fancy hardwood or tile or carpet. They had no electricity. They had to walk to the closest pump for water. Yet they smiled when they saw you. They swept their dirt floors and lined up their shoes in a row and invited you into their tiny homes and offered you food to eat. They would introduce their children.....and probably other children that they have taken in after a family member died.

They sang so loud in church. They would clap their hands and dance. They walked for miles....just to go to a church service. Rain or shine, they were there. Hungry for God. Aching for His hope. They didn't complain about what color the walls were or whether the pews were comfy or not. All they wanted was to meet with God in that tiny building.

I saw face after face. I met church workers and pastors. We traveled a couple hours away to minister to a city even more destitute named Yungar. And again.....we were greeted with smiles and energetic children.

We gave away Christmas gifts to the children in all three cities. A bookbag with some shoes and school supplies inside. So simple....yet so gratefully accepted by every one of them. I can't tell you how many times I cried while watching these precious kids get so excited over a pair of shoes and some pencils. I can certainly tell you that I cried for a long time on the bus ride back to Lima.

Lima was bustling with energy, yet wrecked with pain. Drugs and sex trafficking was a growing concern. Houses were literally stacked right next to each other for miles. It was hot (Lima is a desert climate). It was dirty. But another city managed to capture my heart. I met a little girl named Josalyn. She fell in love with my blonde hair and white skin that turned pink if you pinched it. I sat there for hours with her in my arms. "Como se dice en espanol?" (How do you say this in Spanish?) I would ask, and then point to an object. She would reply, and then return the question "Como se dice en engles?" and then I would tell her. It was a fun game to asking her what things were called in Spanish and then her asking me what they were called in English. And every time she would repeat the English word over and over like it was magical.

She cried on the last day when I left. Her little arms clung to me and she made me promise I would come back one day and see her. She pulled her hairbow out of her hair and gave it to me.   .......She gave something to me. This little girl that had worn the same outfit for two days in a row because it was probably all she had gave me her hairbow. That made me cry too. I quickly pulled the one out of my hair and gave it to her. She smiled and clapped and showed her friends. I waved goodbye from the bus...and then I cried again once she was out of sight.

The last day we were able to go shopping for a few hours before we had to board our plane and go home. I told our group leader over and over again that I would one day return to Peru....maybe even live there one day. I bawled my eyes out when our plane lifted off the ground to come home. I cried again when we landed in America. The orange juice tasted awful on the plane.

This morning on my way to work, the clouds were broken up and the sky was orange as the sun began its slow ascent. For some reason, it took me back to that country. Things like that happen all of the time. I'll see a Hispanic child in a store or catch a scent in the street that will yank me back seven  years to a tiny town tucked away in the mountains of Peru. I'll see a little girl and wonder how Josalyn is faring in such a harsh country.

A friend of mine was able to go back to Peru in 2010 and actually got a picture with Josalyn....she was just as beautiful as I remembered her.....and my friend said she was speaking excellent English. That warms my heart and gives me hope that she will have a better life than those before her.

Some of the memories are starting to fade, which makes me sad. I can't remember all of the pastors' names that we met. I can't remember the name of the hotel we stayed at in Lima. But I believe that even if I forget some of the specifics, the impression that country made on me will never fade.

Peru helps keep my perspective in check. It's hard to complain about your car when you've seen people walk for miles on treacherous paths throught the mountains in Huaraz. It's hard to complain about your government when you've been to a country where the government won't help its own people that starve to death.

I still hope to go back one day. I would love to take Roman with me so he can meet some of the people I met seven years ago. I hope that one day I can return. I don't know if God will ever call us to that country as missionaries. I think that right now He has our hearts planted in our current city...a broken city inside of a broken country. But a piece of me will always belong to a country 3,100 miles away.

And today, I miss that country very much.

"And this gospel of the Kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come."                                    ~Matthew 24:14

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

A Whole Lot of Stuff!

I took an impromptu vacation from writing for the last few days. So bear with me because this is probably going to be a super duper ultra long post.

Last time I posted, I was getting ready to leave for a Leadership Conference. I was expecting to learn some things about how to be a better worship leader that weekend, but I think it is safe to say that God took our expectations and blew them out of the water. It was as if the whole Conference, from the sermons down to the people we talked to, was designed specifically for the leadership of our church. Roman and I learned so much, and that was great in and of itself, but several people in our leadership experienced prophetic words from the Lord over the ministries in our church. Even the sermons on Friday night and Saturday afternoon seemed to be crafted specifically for us. It was just plain awesome. We all left energized and ready to come home and get our hands dirty with some for real ministry in our community. The weekend was topped off with an amazing worship service on Sunday morning at our church. And then yet another prophetic word was given to our Pastor on Monday from some random guy in a restaurant.

Can I just say....I love it when God moves? I mean, when He really just moves and does some big works in people? I suppose that all of the prophetic words can be summed up into one sentence: The time of testing and hardship is over, and now God will be reaping the harvest.
Hallelujah a zillion times over. We are so ready to dance in that River. So be prepared to read about some amazing works of God in the very near future.

In our personal lives: both Roman and I started our new jobs last week. And we both L-O-V-E them, which is great. I have to admit, it is really weird for me to wake up and actually be happy about coming to work. I had gotten so used to waking up every morning with the "ugh, do I really have to go??" attitude. And an even greater miracle? I'm getting to work on time, even though I have to be here at seven now instead of eight. Let me give you a moment to pick your jaw up off the floor.

As a wife though, it is so great to see my husband energized and excited about his job. His happiness truly makes me happy. So even though I'm already learning more about Verizon's phones and plans and everything else than I ever really wanted to know, I will happily listen to my husband gush about how much he loves his job and why. It's just so great to see how happy he is.

And while we are having all sorts of happy dances, let's add one more: we unpacked our last box this past Saturday. Oh happy day, we are officially moved in and all that grand stuff. Everything is pretty much where we want it, I just have a little more organizing in my office to do. It's so nice to finally have everything unpacked and not wonder "which box is that thing in because I really need it..." anymore.

Our labor day weekend was pretty awesome. I celebrated labor day by personally doing absolutely no labor at all. Seriously, all I did was hang out with my hubby and our family and friends and be a total goof-off. And it was glorious. And I also slept a whole lot this past weekend. But oh wait, I do that every weekend.  :)

Oh. My. Goodness. How. Could. I. Forget.
Our precious Dukey-Face turned a whole year old this past Wednesday!! *sniff sniff* Our little baby is growing up! And for all of you people wondering, yes, we had a birthday party for him. Yes, I baked him a dog-friendly cake. Yes, we tried the cake (it was gross). And yes, I took lots of pictures...which I will post at a later date because I don't feel like getting them off of my phone right now. Yes, we are crazy and yes, we don't care.

That pretty much sums up the past ten days of our lives. That wasn't too bad, was it? But wait, I'm not finished yet. Let's have a not-so-quick dive into what's been on my heart lately. Wives, this is mainly for you.....but for my non married-female and my male readers, feel free to keep reading.

Two things....
#1: Something that has really gotten under my skin lately is the vast number of women I see that lord over their husbands. Over the weekend, I noticed a very large amount of women walking in front of their husbands, telling them what to do...what to look at....where to go....nagging them to hurry up....blah blah blah....and I saw a bunch of men with their shoulders slumped staring at the floor. It was seriously pitiful. I quickly turned to my husband at one point and said something like this: "Please don't be one of those zombie husbands who never stand up and take the lead. If I ever get too bossy, please please please tell me. Because I don't want our marriage to ever look like that."

I'm not saying that we women need to keep our mouths shut and allow our men to walk all over us. But can we please not degrade their masculinity? Can we please allow them to be men and take the lead? We direct every aspect of their lives and turn them into glorified housewives and then get mad when they aren't "manly" enough for us. God created them to be the heads of our households, and I've gotten awfully tired lately of seeing families out of order. I guess it's weird that I'm not on the "Go Women" Team, seeing as how I am one, but I'm sorry....we are different. We have different purposes within the family. We need to respect how God designed the family and take our place, so that our husbands can stand up and take theirs.

Unfortunately, I am not blameless in this area. There have been times when I have been disrespectful to my husband. There have been times when I have tried to make him look silly or degrade his authority in public. But thankfully, God has convicted my heart in those situations and is teaching me to not be that way. It's hard, especially in a society that tries to put men and women on the same platform. But it's also very necessary for us to take our very different roles in our marriage (yet equally important) in order for our marriages to function as they were designed to.

#2: This one I am also guilty of. It may make some of you squirm a bit (especially if you are a family member)....but just bear with me here. It seems to be quite a trending topic in all of the Christian marriage blogs I follow, which tells me that it must be a pretty big problem. In fact, I can look at the divorce rate in America and tell you that it's a big problem. So if it's something I've struggled with, then I can probably bet that at least one of my readers struggles in this area as well.

Ladies, stop withholding yourselves from your husbands.

Hear me out....m'kay? I'll try to say this tactfully. And let me just confess right now, pretty much everything I'm about to say are things that I've learned from other blogs. So I'll be sure and post the links to those blogs so that you can read more for yourself if you would like to learn more.

I'll start off by saying this: men are wired differently than we are. Roman and I have been reading and studying and talking a whole bunch about this issue lately. In his words, the main needs of a man are: food, sleep and sex. (Ladies, we actually need sex as well....we just don't realize it sometimes.) Men are not animals for needing sex. It does not make them "dirty" or "sex addicts". That is just the way God designed them. So with that being said, as wives, we are the sole sexual source for our husbands. Do you want your husband to remain pure in your marriage? Do you want him to desire you and only you? I would think all of us do. So don't keep yourself from him!

Now please understand, I am not saying that if your man is addicted to porn or having an affair, then he is innocent and it is all your fault. So please do not take it that way. But what I am saying is that we can't expect for him to remain faithful to us if we deny one of his most basic needs in life.

One blog put it this way: women need communication like men need sex. Would we be happy in our marriage if our husbands went for weeks at a time without speaking one word to us? No? Then we can't expect him to be the happy, communicative, attentative husband we need and desire if we make him wait for weeks at a time to re-connect with his wife.

I think this largely goes back to my first point: if we constantly reject our husbands in the sexual realm and then we put him down in public and lord over him....we end up with a husband that eventually loses pretty much all aspects of his manlihood. Do we really want that? I don't think so. I think at our core, us women still desire to have that husband that makes us swoon and romantically pursues us. We still want our man to desire us and to be there for us. But we can't just ask him to be all  of these things for us while denying his needs. It just doesn't work that way.

So if this is something that you struggle with, then begin praying two things: One, that God would help you to see sex as the true gift it really is. Sometimes women struggle with sex because of past abuse or mistakes they made before marriage, and we need God to tear down those strongholds in our hearts. We have given into the lie that sex is dirty and not to be enjoyed. Ask God to change your mindset! Two, ask God to heal any hurt in your marriage that you unknowingly may have caused. We women do not understand this, but it literally breaks our husbands hearts when we reject him physically over and over again. We need to ask for God's forgiveness and for His healing so that we can have a fresh start in this area.

After going to God in prayer, we then need to open up the lines of communication with our husbands. Talk to him about what you're thinking. Ask him what he would like to see change. Give him an opportunity to share how he feels without fear or retaliation. I promise you, even if you have a generally quiet man, start the conversation with the statement "honey I want our sex life to improve" and I'm sure he will be open to talking. Let him know that you want things to be different and then figure out how to make the change happen. You'll probably shock him to his core with words like that, but trust me, it will mean the world to him if you recognize this issue and acutally make changes to fix it.

I will probably revisit this topic some more later this week, because I feel like it's a great big huge issue in marriages and these few paragraphs don't even really scratch the surface. One of the best quotes I've read so far (not sure where, sorry) is: "Satan's biggest deception is to get couples to have a whole lot of sex before they get married, and then get them to stop after marriage." So. True. ..........  So. Sad.

As promised, here are the links for those that are interested:

"My lover said to me, "Rise up my darling! Come away with me, my fair one! Look, the winter is past, and the rains are over and gone."   ~Song of Solomon 2:10-11