Author: marriageisacovenant

I Need A Moment

Sometimes we got no fight left. Sometimes all we can do is lie on the floor and let the fight roar around us. It doesn’t have to mean we surrender. It doesn’t mean we give up. It’s simply all we can muster in circumstances way bigger than we are. In these moments we don’t seek answers. We have no energy to understand. All we need is to be reminded how much Jesus loves us. In these moments He tells us we are loved and priceless. Sometimes we cry. Sometimes we can’t even muster tears. But He understands. He lived through Gethsemane. So He just sits with us. He even has the gall to smile at us. When He knows we can handle it, He whispers (again) all the promises He has for us. We sigh. We know what comes next: He’ll give us strength and help us up, to lead us back into battle. But right now, can we just be here together in the quiet? He smiles even bigger…

Conversation with God

Here’s a typical conversation I have with God. His responses are in bold. Mine are italicized. Regular font would be the narrative of me processing the conversation…

Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior. Habakkuk 3:17-18

Let me rephrase: Though the business calls don’t come and your house is in desperate need of repair, though your vehicles don’t run and your mom is in the hospital, though your daughter is diagnosed with cancer and your son needs eye surgery, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.

I can fill in the blanks of this verse with all kinds of troubles from which we are suffering, but the meaning stays the same:

“No matter my circumstances, I will rejoice in God.”

Wikipedia says, “The major theme of Habakkuk is trying to grow from a faith of perplexity and doubt to the height of absolute trust in God.” That’s what God is doing in my life. I have been perplexed with all that’s happened, while God unctions me to a deeper trust of Him.

I’ve looked around and questioned God’s timing, His allowance of things, and even His word. I wonder how so much bad can happen to those who sincerely want to live God’s will in their everyday lives…who truly just want to show His glory in everything.

Job 2:10 (NKJV) “Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?”

When God does speak, it’s promises of blessings and prosperity; of provision and comfort. He tells me He sees and understands.

Habakkuk 1:5 (NKJV) “Look among the nations and watch–Be utterly astounded! For [I will] work a work in your days [Which] you would not believe, though it were told [you.]

Well, God, You are on point with that…I am struggling to believe. God, do you see what I see, because it looks dismal down here. Truly, God…

Isaiah 55:8-9 (NKJV) 8 “For My thoughts [are] not your thoughts, Nor [are] your ways My ways,” says the LORD. 9 “For [as] the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.

Well…apparently so…so let me see it Your way…let me only do what You want…

Jeremiah 32:42 (NKJV) “For thus says the LORD: ‘Just as I have brought all this great calamity on this people, so I will bring on them all the good that I have promised them.

So, You are telling me that as bad as all this is (and it’s REALLY bad, God) it will end up being that good huh? That’s gonna be some really awesome stuff, God…

I read a commentary yesterday that said, “Before God blesses someone or gives them authority of any kind, He tests them over a period of time to see if they will be worthy of the blessing or calling.

So I wait. I take one day at a time. I try to roll with the punches and live my life as if I’m in an obstacle course, jumping the next hurdle. I try to keep my mind on the crazy stuff I’ve seen God do…miraculous amazing things…and I wait for Him to do it again.

Christmas Challenge Extended

I want to extend a challenge. Can you take one year and choose to strip down Christmas to the point it is ONLY about Christ? No gifts. No trees. No holiday decor. No Santa. Just Jesus.

Can you let it all go to simply drink in the simplicity of the entrance of the Messiah into the world? He had no pomp and circumstance. He had a stable and a manger. His fanfare were curious shepherds. Angels proclaimed his birth in song. Why can’t we just do the same? Yes, magi brought gifts to Him later, but not to each other. Let’s give Him the gift of selflessness and step out of traditions and follow Him.

Can you leave behind all the stuff? Perhaps participating in this challenge just one year may forever change the way you celebrate Christmas from now on. I admit, it’s hard. People, especially loved ones, are not going to understand. It was hard for us too, but we found something so much greater than all the holiday fun and traditional activities…we discovered the beauty of a simple Savior.

Love to all.

Versions of the Bible…

I remembered something from my stand this morning I wanted to share with standers out there…kinda like a public service announcement:

Not all modern translations of the Bible say God hates divorce.

Malachi 2:16 (NKJV) “For the LORD God of Israel says That He hates divorce, For it covers one’s garment with violence,” Says the LORD of hosts. “Therefore take heed to your spirit, That you do not deal treacherously.”

I remember sharing this verse with my husband during our separation. It seemed to never make a dent. He kept pursuing a divorce, and I was baffled. It wasn’t until after he came back home, when he sincerely asked me about it. He said, “You kept saying the Bible says God hates divorce, but I never could find that.” (What!!??) So we looked it up together only to discover his Bible didn’t say it! He reads the English Standard Version (ESV) and it totally omits that part!

Yikes.

Since then, we’ve discovered other versions leave it out as well, like the updated New International Version (NIV). The 1984 version of NIV has it, but for some reason it was removed in 2011 and the 1984 version has virtually been erased from the internet.

We’re not the kind of people who believe there is only one authorized version of the Bible, but we do take issue with tampering with truth. We still utilize these versions for varying nuances of scripture, but we also feel it’s important others realize vital truth is removed.

Not sure why I felt compelled to write this. As always, I hope it helps someone.

Darkness

I haven’t known how to start this post. All I know is that I have been walking in darkness. It’s not the darkness of wickedness and sin; I don’t even know how to describe it other than darkness. My daughter’s diagnosis sent me on a journey surrounded by darkness. I looked around and saw nothing else. I couldn’t see which way was up. I couldn’t see anyone else. It was simply…dark.

Before this journey, I would say a child of God can’t walk in darkness, because darkness equates to despair and hopelessness. But, I wasn’t hopeless, nor despairing. Actually, if I didn’t have the promise from God my daughter was gonna be ok, I wouldn’t make it on the journey at all. The darkness would have consumed me. Period. End of discussion.

So, here I was in a paradox, walking in complete darkness, but clinging to hope. It was so dark, I was desperately looking in any direction for a kindness from others or anything that would give a moment’s reprieve from the darkness, like a simple cup of coffee. Yet, God was showing me something in the darkness: He was there too.

We seem to visualize God surrounded by light separate from us while we’re surrounded by darkness. But somehow that’s just not the case. He’s still light, but He’s in the darkness with us. It sounds crazy, but why should I be surprised that darkness doesn’t cancel out the light that surrounds Him? I just couldn’t understand why I was only catching fleeting shimmers of light when I knew He was there, kinda like fireflies on a summer evening. Then He showed me so much I never knew about darkness:

God acknowledged my darkness:

Job 23:17 (NLT) Darkness is all around me; thick, impenetrable darkness is everywhere.

Job 19:8 (NLT) God has blocked my way so I cannot move. He has plunged my path into darkness.

You really can feel darkness:

Exodus 10:21 (NLT) Then the LORD said to Moses, “Lift your hand toward heaven, and the land of Egypt will be covered with a darkness so thick you can feel it.”

God sees darkness different than we do:

Psalm 139:12 (NLT) but even in darkness I cannot hide from you. To you the night shines as bright as day. Darkness and light are the same to you.

Even God is shrouded in deep darkness at times:

Deuteronomy 5:22 (NLT) “The LORD spoke these words to all of you assembled there at the foot of the mountain. He spoke with a loud voice from the heart of the fire, surrounded by clouds and deep darkness. This was all he said at that time, and he wrote his words on two stone tablets and gave them to me.

Although He can be shrouded in darkness, there’s no darkness (i.e. evil) found in Him:

1 John 1:5 (NLT) This is the message we heard from Jesus and now declare to you: God is light, and there is no darkness in him at all.

We can trust God knows what’s hidden in the darkness we just can’t see:

Daniel 2:22 (NLT) He reveals deep and mysterious things and knows what lies hidden in darkness, though he is surrounded by light.

Job 12:22 (NLT) “He uncovers mysteries hidden in darkness; he brings light to the deepest gloom.

There’s also treasures in the form of lessons that, unfortunately, are only found in the darkness:

Isaiah 45:3 (NLT) And I will give you treasures hidden in the darkness–secret riches. I will do this so you may know that I am the LORD, the God of Israel, the one who calls you by name.

When God so chooses, He’ll light up the darkness I am in:

2 Samuel 22:29 (NLT) O LORD, you are my lamp. The LORD lights up my darkness.

Isaiah 9:2 (NLT) The people who walk in darkness will see a great light. For those who live in a land of deep darkness, a light will shine.

Isaiah 45:7 (NLT) I create the light and make the darkness. I send good times and bad times. I, the LORD, am the one who does these things.

Isaiah 42:16 (NLT) I will lead blind Israel down a new path, guiding them along an unfamiliar way. I will brighten the darkness before them and smooth out the road ahead of them. Yes, I will indeed do these things; I will not forsake them.

1 John 2:8 (NLT) Yet it is also new. Jesus lived the truth of this commandment, and you also are living it. For the darkness is disappearing, and the true light is already shining.

In all honesty, prior to all of this, I felt like God’s light should/would keep darkness at bay. But why wasn’t it? Why was I surrounded by it with no escape, yet with hope? That’s when He showed me there are treasures hidden in it. Was I willing to walk in the darkness to discover them? Well, I didn’t have much choice, did I? But I found comfort in purpose.

I’m thankful to say, I’m not walking in darkness anymore. Life is almost completely back to normal. Our daughter is doing so well. She still takes a lot of chemos and the treatment plan will last over 2 years, but it’s a journey we are on.

So, what did I learn in the darkness? In essence: God can shroud Himself in darkness, but darkness can’t be found in Him. Darkness can be so thick we can feel it, but He can always see through it. God makes the darkness, and even leads us to it. Yet, He reveals hidden things through it. I don’t think all the lessons He wants me to learn have been revealed yet, but I have picked up some treasure along the way: I have learned that every single kindness shown to a person in their darkest hour breathes life into them, giving them strength to take one more step. I’ve learned so many ways of bringing others comfort and demonstrating the love of Jesus. Most importantly, I’ve learned that God is our Light in the darkness, even when we can’t see the light in the darkness. It’s a head scratcher, I admit. What is pivotal, we MUST trust God in our darkness and not ourselves:

Isaiah 50:10-11 (NLT) 10 Who among you fears the LORD and obeys his servant? If you are walking in darkness, without a ray of light, trust in the LORD and rely on your God. 11 But watch out, you who live in your own light and warm yourselves by your own fires. This is the reward you will receive from me: You will soon fall down in great torment.

And here I leave you with God’s promise:

Micah 7:8 (NLT) Do not gloat over me, my enemies! For though I fall, I will rise again. Though I sit in darkness, the LORD will be my light.

John 1:5 (NLT) The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can NEVER extinguish it.

I don’t understand it all yet. God is very complex. But, I pray it brings someone comfort and hope.

Jenn

God’s Promises

People sometimes ask, “How do you KNOW you have promises from God?” “How do you KNOW when God tells you something?” These are legitimate questions. God speaks in a variety of ways, but everything He speaks is ALWAYS confirmed in His word. He will NEVER say something that goes against His word! And more times than not, He speaks using His word.

How do we KNOW Ariel is going to be okay? That story has it’s roots in another miracle that I LOVE to share with anyone who will listen. 🙂

It was almost a month to the day after JW came back home. God had restored our marriage. Although the first few months of restoration are VERY hard, it was still the first fulfilled promise God had made to me. I was about to be informed of the second.

JW was offshore and I was journaling in my prayer chair. As I’m writing, I hear, “I’m pregnant.” I stop writing. “Did I just hear that?” I wasn’t even journaling/praying anything about children! Just like now, I had my walls covered with various scriptures of promise God had given me during the days of standing for my marriage. After I’d stopped writing, I looked up and my eyes fell on:

Psalm 37:5 Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass.

“What?!” Ok, so I honestly ignore that and go back to journaling, only to look up again and have my eyes fall on:

Psalm 37:4 Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.

“Ok, this is too weird!” I start journaling what I was experiencing because it was just so obvious and REAL. As I’m writing about what is taking place, I look up a final time to have my eyes rest on:

Luke 1:45 Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord will fulfill His promises to her!

“Really, God, the very words spoken to Mary after You tell her she’s pregnant? Ok, ok, I get the message!”

Needless to say, nine months later we had our first child! 😀 God does speak to us, and in the most amazing ways. We just have to quiet ourselves and listen. I also highly recommend posting God’s word all over the place! 😉

So, back to the promises for Ariel…

I had just gotten back to Ariel’s hospital room after a very serious conversation with her oncologist. Her diagnosis had been confirmed and now came the part where we had to decide to let them “treat” her…the weight of the world was on my shoulders. You have to understand, JW and I had already had this conversation about ourselves. Last year, both of our dads had been diagnosed with the C-word. “Treatments” nearly killed my dad until he finally stopped them. And we just lost JW’s dad a few months ago after a year of “treatments!” We wouldn’t choose those “treatments” for ourselves, but not one time did we ever consider the possibility of having to make that decision for our tiny children!!!! Now, here we were, faced with signing paperwork detailing all the possible side effects from common to catastrophic that gave consent to give those very “treatments” to our baby girl!

I crawled in that hospital bed beside my baby girl and snuggled against her, my heart heavy, my head whirling. “God, what are we to do?” “How can we do this?” “How are You to get the glory in all this?” “We don’t want to follow the world’s way/wisdom…”

It was then that I looked up from that hospital bed and my eyes fell on the underlined words in this verse I had posted on her walls the night before:

Daniel 6:23b So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no injury whatever was found on him, because he believed in his God.

I looked down and I wondered. Then I looked up again and my eyes rested on the capitalized words from this verse across the room:

Genesis 50:20-21 “But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive. Now therefore, DO NOT BE AFRAID; I will provide for you and your little ones.” And he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.

“God, are You saying we have to go through this? That Ariel will not be harmed by these “treatments?” “God, is this what You are saying?”

All this took place while JW was still meeting with the doctor. I decided then, that as the God-given authority in our home, whatever JW wanted to do, we would do. Just then, the doctor and JW walked in with the papers in tow. He looks at me and says he thinks we should sign the papers and consent to the treatments. I said, “OK.”

From that day on, we’ve had peace in the midst of the turmoil. Peace beyond my belief. Now, just because we have peace, doesn’t make anything we experience less horrific. It is so painful watching your baby girl get bigger and bigger from the steroids given her. It’s hard to see her depressed and emotional from those same steroids. It’s difficult to see her lie around all day long watching movies, because she has no energy or interest in anything else. It’s unbelievable knowing she’s losing her hair. 😦 This is the hardest thing I’ve ever experienced. Yet, I KNOW God has given us promises, and that is how I make it each day. And each day, brings us closer to the fulfillment of those promises.

Philippians 4:7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Painful Memories

I hurt. The load I’m carrying is crushing. Sometimes I feel like I can’t breathe. I’m exhausted. I don’t sleep well. I want to turn back time to before my baby girl got sick. I flip through the pictures on my phone, right before her diagnosis and I long so much to be back in that place where we didn’t know. A time when we were happy. No doctors. No hospitals. No blood transfusions. No chemo. None of it. I finally had to change my home screen pic on my phone. It was a picture of all three of my beautiful children the same day the first symptom occurred. I’ve always been so proud of my kids…so grateful, but that pic just caused me pain every time I opened my phone. Finally, my husband found a lovely picture of a 200 year old wisteria tree with purple everywhere. I changed the background, and that picture has brought relief.

Having to change my phone background reminded me of something similar I experienced during my marriage crisis. I loved my husband. I wanted him back home so bad, but every picture of us together only brought pain and questions. “Why did he leave?” “Weren’t we happy?” “What went wrong?” It was driving me crazy. Finally, I went through the whole house turning over pictures of us. I remember the relief it brought. I was still standing for my marriage, just without the constant jabs of pain.

Now, just like then, I believe in God’s promises that everything will be alright. One day, we will have happy days and smiling pictures again. These dark days will not last forever. But for now, I’ll turn the pictures over and cause a little less pain. Just wish I could switch off all the pain and sadness. Unfortunately, that’s what makes us more like Jesus.

Ecclesiastes 7:3 (NKJV)

Sorrow [is] better than laughter, For by a sad countenance the heart is made better.

Facing Giants

I Samuel 17:34-37

34 But David said to Saul, “Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, 35 I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it. 36 Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God. 37 The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine.”

John Wesley just reminded me that in our early days of marriage restoration, God had revealed to me our marriage trouble wasn’t the giant…
The giant was coming…
I still remember the surprise of that revelation then…6 years ago now. “God, what do You mean this isn’t a giant? Something bigger is coming?” As panic tried to creep in, the Holy Spirit came in like a flood to comfort me and let me know quickly that David was able to face that giant, because he had already fought the bear and the lion. So, I was able to forget about it, and not worry.
Then two years later, the Holy Spirit woke me up with the words, “smooth stone.”
It was when Ian had his eye surgery, and I was wondering why God didn’t just heal him. Why did we have to go through this? Why did his eyes cross to begin with? Why did we have to go through surgery? Why? Why? Why? The Holy Spirit’s words led me to study David’s five smooth stones. After studying them, He again reminded me a giant was coming!
There’s been many speculations of why David picked up 5 stones to face Goliath when it only took one to defeat him. I don’t believe David knew that it would only take a single stone. David just knew what he needed to go into battle. I believe our smooth stones are what we know we need for battle. Just like David, we must take up ammunition against the enemy…
I believe our smooth stones include prayer, fasting, saturating ourselves in God’s word, and the faith that comes from experience with what we’ve already seen God do in our lives. 
Those are at least my smooth stones. 
So here we are. Facing a giant. He’s really big and scary, but he defies what we know about God. God says that we will be the head and not the tail. God says that no weapon formed against us shall prosper. God says no one can pluck us out of His hand. And God says a bunch more stuff that Satan doesn’t want us to believe. So, that’s what we stand on (faith in Who God is), just like David. 
We may be numb to the emotions of the story, since we’ve heard it so many times, but just because David talked big doesn’t mean he wasn’t apprehensive or have a tiny bit of trepidation. It was no small thing to swim against the current and stand up against the experienced warrior when absolutely no one else would!
His king doubted him. His brothers mocked him. And the giant laughed at him.
I imagine it was hard for him that day, as it is hard for me now. Not for lack of support, but simply facing a foe of this magnitude.
Yet, I cling to every shred of truth God has shown me: GOD IS GREATER!!
God bless,
Jenn
I Samuel 17:45-47
45 David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. 46 This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. This very day I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds and the wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. 47 All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.”

Bad Things…Good People?

Some people have asked us the age-old question: Why do bad things happen to good people? First, let’s set aside the fact that Jesus (perfect-Son-of-God, J-E-S-U-S) said there was none good but the Father…Ok, why do bad things happen to seemingly good people? God let me know early on that He wasn’t the One to cause Ariel’s sickness. That’s the enemy. Satan comes to steal, kill, and destroy. Sin entered the world, because we let it, and Satan tries to destroy all God has created. So the true question remains, “Why would God allow these things, even if He doesn’t orchestrate them? This admits God’s sovereignty over all things, and then asks why. And the answer many don’t like: It’s for God to know. We just have to trust that A) He’s sovereign. B) He’s good. C) He’s got plans.
In Genesis 50:20, Joseph recognizes that all the bad things he suffered for years in his life was a plan God allowed to place him precisely where he could save his family and people. God took the evil and designed an extravagant plan for good. It takes faith to see that. God doesn’t have to share His plans with us and actually hardly ever does, because we must have the faith in Him to believe He is working all things out for our good (Romans 8:28). Job 42:2 says that no purpose of God’s can be thwarted. That tells me that whatever devious scheme Satan attempts, God’s sovereignty remains untouched. So He weaves around the schemes to design a beautiful story.
In 2012, Satan attacked our marriage. God called me to stand for my husband and our marriage. At the time, it was the hardest thing I’d ever experienced. It was brutal trusting God to restore a marriage that in the natural was dead. But God made promises, and he made every single one come to pass. He promised my husband would return. He did. He promised me children after 10 years of infertility. A month after our marriage was restored, we were pregnant! What Satan had meant to destroy, God made into the most amazing story! God blessed our marriage into this beautiful testimony with 3 wonderful miracles in each of our children. 
For the past 6 years we’ve had struggles, but it has been a blessed time together as our family has grown. Now, we are facing a great trial – Satan again, is trying to destroy us, but God has made more promises, and because of everything we’ve already been through, we KNOW how good a God He truly is. I encourage anyone following our story to just expectantly wait for God to demonstrate His greatness…that’s what we’re doing. I admit, this is a dark valley (the shadow of death) that we are traveling, but He goes before us. He comforts us, and He uses so many people to show us kindness and love. We are so grateful and blessed. I know, superficially, that sounds like a contradiction to what we are facing, but it’s truth.
I pray God pulls back the veil to let others see the deeper picture of the beauty He’s currently weaving in our daughter’s life, as well as our own!
God bless you all,
Jenn

Urgent Prayer Request

We are calling all prayer warriors to please pray for our middle child, Ariel. Doctors diagnosed her with leukemia. We are praying for strength, wisdom, and healing.

I was reading John 9 this morning where the disciples ask Jesus why the guy was born blind. Jesus simply says to show the works of God in him. The why’s don’t matter, but giving all for the glory of God is what truly matters.

I know life is hard…and sometimes it gets harder than we think possible, but that doesn’t mean God isn’t a good God.

Y’all, God is a great God! I see that in the incredible strength of my little girl and the infinite kindnesses shown by so many friends, family, and strangers. This is all for His glory!!!

Genesis 50:20-21 (NKJV) 20 “But as for you, you meant evil against me; [but] God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as [it is] this day, to save many people alive. 21 “Now therefore, do not be afraid; I will provide for you and your little ones.” And he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.