Posts Tagged With: True Intimacy

They

Once upon a time, in a high school far far away from here there lived a cute, short, curly-haired Freshman girl who had a friend named Carey. At this same school, with the same friend there was a Senior football player. He was handsome and funny and was extremely muscular. On the first day of school, the girl was nervous at lunch time. “Who will be in my lunch group with me this year?” she wondered, “Who will I sit with?” As she emerged from the lunch line and into the bright lunchroom she immediately spotted her friend Carey, a senior on her dance squad. She rushed over to see if she could sit with her. “Of course!” Carey said, and the girl sat down relieved that there was at least one familiar face in her lunch group. Next, Carey’s other friend, the Senior football player came up and asked if he could sit with Carey too! Seeing as how there was plenty of room and he was her friend too they said “sure”.

Almost every day after that, lunch was spent with these three friends chatting over one thing or another, high school issues, those kinds of things. And the more the girl got to know the boy, the more the girl liked the boy. He was fun to be with, he liked a lot of the same things that she liked. But the best thing of all was how he made her laugh. He had such a strange sense of humor that she just adored about him. After several months of this, Carey and the girl were waiting in the lunch line when the boy walked up behind the girl and covered her eyes with his hands, “Guess who?” he said. Of course she guessed immediately, and he let go of her eyes and stepped into line next to the girls to wait for lunch. That afternoon Carey, their mutual friend, mentioned to each of them that they might make a cute couple. Hmmmmm…. But alas, at the time he was single and she wasn’t, maybe it wasn’t meant to be.

However, it wasn’t long before the girl broke up with the boy that she was seeing and took a bit more interest in the boy. He WAS handsome, very handsome now that she was looking a little closer. And wow! Look at those arms, he MUST lift weights, a lot! But, it was too late for her now too, he was asking another girl out by now. Siiiiiigh……

By this time Christmas was getting nearer and nearer and it was basketball season at the school. The girl was busy preparing for the halftime shows at the games and the boy was busy preparing for wrestling season (Oh, yeah, he wrestles too), and pursuing that other girl. So our girl started focusing less on the boy and more on her dancing, and a little on school too. The time came around for the dance squad gift exchange and the girls all filled out their short wish lists, placed them in a bag and then one by one drew them out to see who they had for the Secret Santa gift exchange. The girl, just as a joke put the boy’s name at the bottom of her wish list, because EVERYONE on the dance squad knew that she liked him and whoever got her list would think it was funny. Little did she know, but her friend Carey had gotten her list! The last few weeks of school went by quickly and the girl quickly forgot about her little “addition” to her list. The night of the last game of the year came around and there was a dance planned for after the game. All the girls from the squad were planning on going together, it was the last dance of the year before Christmas, they HAD to go! The game ended and the girl was in a small storage room next to the band room putting her things away when she looked up to see the boy changing his shirt. She nearly swooned at his rippling muscles! “Ahhhhh,” she sighed, “maybe someday”, as the boy then walked past her to the hallway on his way to somewhere else in the school.

Suddenly Carey came storming into the storage room with her coat. “Why does she have her coat?” the girl thought, “I thought she was staying for the dance.”

“I have another present for you!” Carey said with a giant grin.

“OK” the girl said suspiciously, one eyebrow cocked to the air. They had already done their gift exchange and she had said nothing of more gifts being in store for her, what was going on? Carey flung her coat over the girl’s head and led her in the direction that the boy had just gone. She wanted to say that she had no clue what was going on, but she did have one glimmering hope that it would be the one thing that she expected the least to get from a colorguard gift exchange. As Carey wrangled her into the hallway the rest of the girls in the squad chattered and giggled excitedly in a circle around her as she came to stop in front of two red wrestling shoes on the hallway floor. Carey asked her, “are you ready for your surprise?” “I guess so”, she replied, what DO you say in a moment like that? When Carey pulled the coat off her head the girl raised her eyes from the shoes on the floor to the jean wearing legs that were attached to them, to the familiar black shirt that she had just swooned over moments before, to the absolutely beaming face of that handsome Senior football player she’d had her heart set on for the last few months. The look on his face was PRICELESS to say the least, he was so proud of the fact that she had asked for him for Christmas and that he was able to deliver that gift himself. A trophy date for the dance to be sure! She nearly passed out as ALL the blood in her body seemed to flock instantly to her face! Boy, he sure was cute, and all hers for the night. After months of crossing paths, there they were, both single and staring at each other… with the entire dance squad standing around them watching! They all walked off toward the cafeteria where the dance was being held that night, the boy and the girl still in a bit of a daze as to what to do with themselves. The girl asked the boy, “I thought you liked Katie, what happened?” He said, “she told me ‘no’ because she knew that you liked me”. It looks like things might actually work out for these two.

The next Monday at lunch the girl found herself sitting alone for some reason, I don’t remember why. Until just a few minutes before the lunch bell rang. She was just getting ready to get up and take her tray to the kitchen when the boy came strolling through the lunchroom door headed right for her lonely table. He plopped himself down and said “I’ve got a question for ya”. “OK” she replied, “what’s up?” He tossed his huge class ring across the table at her and said “will you go out with me?” As she sat there watching the ring spin like a top in the middle of the round table, what else could she say but “YES!”? And right there, in that small town school lunch room she and he became “they”. “They’re a couple now”, “they’re dating now”, “they’re an item now”. And they were, and have been for the last SEVENTEEN years, today. I am that girl, my husband is that boy, and he still makes me swoon when he takes his shirt off! Our “they” has increased from just the two of us, to the four of us plus two cats and a tank full of fish. As for everything in between that day and this day? Well, most of that is for another day’s blog, but parts of it can also be found in our book True Intimacy, the story of how our love became cursed through the sin of pre-marital sex and then adultery. And how Jesus redeemed that love and broke the curse, and the details on how you too can have a truly intimate marriage! Jesus can help, He helped us, and He’s more than willing to help you too! Trust me, it’s TOTALLY worth it. I thought that we had lost that high school romance long ago, but we hadn’t lost it, we had just cursed it, pushed it back away from us with our sins. But with God’s help we learned how to change all that, how to get that lovey feeling back, only it was better this time. Because it had depth and meaning and healing in it. Yes, this time our love was rich and real and founded on what it should’ve been founded on it the beginning, JESUS and His grace. I am more desperately in love with my husband today than I ever was seventeen years ago, and this morning as I snuggled up to him in bed I told him just that, and then said “and just think, if I love you this much more now than I did then, how much MORE will I love you seventeen years from today???” And he squeezed me tight in his warm and still very muscular arms and said “I love you” in that way that always makes my heart melt for him.

God has blessed us with something that many couples never get, a second chance at love with the person they fell in love with in the beginning. Through what I can only account as the grace of God, we have stayed together through some really tough stuff, and I can’t even begin to tell you how grateful I am for it! The love that I feel for this man is so much deeper than anything I’ve ever felt for anyone in my entire life. And honestly, that’s only possible because of the forgiveness and TIME that we have invested into each other. Neither one of us was willing to give up on “us” when I was so very ready to give up on him. During those cursed years of our relationship, which in all honesty was the majority of those seventeen years, we stuck together, many times just for the sake of sticking together. But I can’t tell you how glad I am today that we did stick it out despite those really cursed years. It’s funny how breaking a curse can change things. Happy things happen now, and we’re happy, not so happy things happen now… and we somehow manage to still find happiness, in each other. Nothing is perfect, and we’re just as not-perfect as everyone else, but we’ve found joy in our not-perfect-ness though. 🙂

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Spiritual Stay-cation Day 4: Because Jesus loves YOU

Well, I had a great talk with my mom last night reassuring her of my newly retrieved peace (thanks to God commanding me to put everything down for a week and let Him carry it instead). I am realizing that I’ve been carrying too much myself, including my old self “Tyra”. I’ve talked about her a couple of times over the past six months of blogging. She seems to pop back up into life occasionally, usually through friends who accidentally call me Tyra still… and then the accidental slip becomes a habit. Or in the case of most of my family members where I haven’t ever really explained to them the whole name change thing. Honestly, it’s not something that’s very easy for most people TO understand. “You changed your name… because God told you to??? O…K…” then they smile and nod and quickly change the subject. Some have even gone so far as to tell me I’m crazy, hence “The Crazy Mom Blog”.

Most people don’t understand going through a life change dramatic enough to warrant a change of name. Yet, really, when I really think about it, it was less that my life changed and more that my view of God changed. My view of myself changed because I was suddenly seeing my life through God’s eyes instead of my own. That changes a person in ways that most people can’t understand, because they’ve never had it happen to them. And I pray for that kind of change for them! Most people can stand to have a personal encounter with God that changes their entire outlook on themselves and the world around them. I can’t tell you how many times I have cried out to God on their behalf, praying that they would have a PERSONAL INTIMATE RELATIONSHIP with Christ even more intimate than mine is. That they would know Him the way Adam “knew” Eve in Genesis 4:1, with a kind of knowing that only husbands and wives share with each other, the kind of knowing that brings about children and fruit and offspring and seeds.

I haven’t always had this intimate of a relationship with Jesus, even though I’ve always been a church attending Christian. But just like sitting in a garage doesn’t make me a car, sitting in churches never made me a Christian. Anyway, there came a time in my life when I started actively seeking God out of a heart of wanting to know Him more. I was going to a Friday morning Bible study at a local church with some friends. I had attended Bible studies before, but it was really more out of a need for fellowship in a place where I knew no one that anything else. In this study, however, I already HAD the fellowship with the people around me and so through that Bible study I started seeking fellowship with the One we were studying. Through studying God’s word I came to know Him more, and the more I knew of Him the more I wanted to know Him. I wanted to experience Him the way Beth Moore was telling us that we could. There was something about the way that she talked about Him, the way she lit up when she said His name. She wasn’t just teaching because it was her calling, she was teaching because she had a true passion for the One she was teaching about. She had something in her that called out to me like a moth to a flame. I wanted that fire in ME, I wanted the passion that she had for what she was talking about. Through her I started to realize that the hunger I’d had my entire life wasn’t for the things I thought it had been for, it was for HIM. It was a hunger for a relationship with HIM! And OH! When I started setting aside my religion for a RELATIONSHIP, *romantic sign…..* I got what I had always been hungering for. And so much more!

Just like a true bride, when she gets married she is thrilled to take her new husband’s name, I too took a new name. You know how most pastor’s will say that they were called into the ministry? Well, although I was not called to be a pastor, I too have been called. And in that calling has come a LOT of changes. God has taken me through some really wild rides and experiences that you do NOT want to know about let alone experience. To prepare me for this calling on my life, I have seen things that most people never see, and most people would never believe. When I laid down my life to follow God’s call, I laid down the name that went along with that life. And I picked up the name that symbolizes this new life within my bones.

But that doesn’t mean that the old name (and everything that goes with it) hasn’t persistently followed me since then! Oh NO! The sentimental and emotional cord that has bound me to Tyra started out quite short and she followed along behind me very closely. And slowly but surely, bit by bit I’ve consistently tried to sever that cord between my old self and my new self. But the only thing my scissors have done is make the cord longer. And every time she follows behind me a bit farther; so that I THINK she’s gone… but then she just comes bounding back up again with those eyes that just plead “You know you really do love me. You really do want to keep me.” And for a while I’ll look into those eyes and think, it’s just a name, does it really matter what these other people call me? What they call me doesn’t define who I really am. But allowing them to think that I am still that person, by allowing them to still call me that dead person’s name, is lying to them. I let it go for the sake of trying to be polite and not correct people, but the truth is, that’s just not who I am anymore and I need to be honest with myself and them.

In first Chronicles chapter four verses nine through ten we read about a man named Jabez. Now some of you may be familiar with his story, hidden within a huge list of names, but for those who are not:

“Jabez was more honorable than his brothers. His mother had named him Jabez, saying ‘I gave birth to him in pain.’ Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, ‘Oh, that You would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let Your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.’ And God granted his request.”

Now “Jabez” sounds like the Hebrew word for “pain”. His name means pain. His mother called him “pain” his entire life as a reminder that she gave birth to him in pain. There is power in a name because the name of something defines it. When I say “basket ball” you don’t just think about the ball that get’s thrown into baskets, you think about the ball, the sport, the court, the players, the fun, the cheers, everything that is related to basket ball is defined in those two small words – its name. The definition of Jabez’s life to that point, was pain. When he cried out to the One who can do all things, he asked (of all things) to be free from the one thing that had plagued him for his entire life, pain!

How many of us have had pain plague us throughout our entire lives??? You know, there are two different kinds of pain, physical and spiritual. I personally have experienced both and between the two I can say hands down that Spiritual pain is the worst! Because spiritual pain is a pain that doesn’t go away when you rub it, there’s no pill that you can pop to make spiritual pain go away. When your body is in pain there is a multitude of ways that humanity has come up with to ease that pain… but when your spirit is hurting there’s only one cure. Jesus. Sure, we’ve come up with lots of ways to attempt to substitute some other forms of spiritual cures, from booze, to food, to sex, to violence, but when we really get right down to it, they’re all just substitutes. Like aspartame is a substitute for real sugar, that tastes nothing like real sugar and has horrible side effects, so do these substitutes. They’re nothing like the real thing and they leave behind them horrible side effects and after tastes. Jesus is the One and only true healer of ALL pain, in all of its forms and functions. Jesus is the only one that has the ability to free us from the pain that plagues our souls day in and day out. And when we cry out to Him He can and does free us from that pain. No, the physical pain may or may not leave, but the spiritual pain ALWAYS does.

One hundred percent of our spiritual pain comes from sin. And it may not even be sins that we ourselves committed, it may have been the sins that our ancestor’s committed, or our relatives, or even our neighbors or friends! Our society stresses individuality and the Enemy likes to try to get us to think that our actions only effect us, but nothing could be farther from the truth! Our actions, good or evil, create waves in the air around us. They change our own reactions and the reactions of the people around us, which changes the reactions of the people around them. Nothing that we do, stands alone. Nothing that we do DOESN’T leave a point of impact or change something in the environment around us. Nothing.

I know that my own sins have caused me pain and the pain that I experienced changed me… but it has also changed the people around me too. Through my healing from that pain, came my greatest transformation. A new birth, a new name, a new career, a new lifestyle, pretty much a new everything! From my pain I’ve written a whole book on the sins of my past and how I was transformed from that pain they brought about. An excruciating pain deep in my soul that I couldn’t seem to wrap my brain around or ease with my finger, and yet it throbbed in my heart all the same. Outwardly I looked fine, but inwardly I wasn’t. I couldn’t ever define HOW I was in pain, or where it was really coming from. Until I started earnestly crying out for God to fix the thing that was wrong, whatever it was it was causing me pain and a lot of it! I wanted it gone! And God granted my request. It wasn’t at all the way I thought He would grant it, and yet it was exactly the way it needed to be.

That pain I used to experience, I see it in the eyes of the people I interact with day in and day out. I recognize that pain, because I’ve lived that pain. Oh! For so long I lived in that excruciating un-named pain… and I’ve been freed from it. God gave me a new name because He freed me from the pain that was attached to the old name. “Tyra”, while a perfectly good name, defines that time in my life filled with the pain of past sins plaguing me and tying me up from the blessings God was trying to pour out over me. Tyra, like an umbrella, was blocking God’s blessings and favor from reaching all the way down to me and causing them to flow to the sides of me instead. Tyra was a beautiful person, she loved others, she loved God, but she turned herself into an idol and got in her own way. Tyra made a HUGE mistake and suffered for it for 13 years. But she didn’t suffer alone, she brought her friends and her family and her boyfriend and then her husband in on the pain as well. Misery loves company and so did Tyra. Tyra is a slave. A slave to sin, and pride, and fear. She’s a slave to lust and gluttony and adultery. Sure, Tyra did a lot of really good things too, but all of them were done through the filter of sin and slavery.

When Tyra cried out to God for help, that He would bless her, enlarge her territory, that His hand would be upon her, keep her from harm so that she would be free from pain, He didn’t just grant her request, He leapt for joy. Simply at the fact that she had finally asked HIM. God was so happy that day, that after years of being in pain and searching for answers she had FINALLY come to the ONE WHO COULD GIVE HER THE ANSWERS AND THE HEALING TOO! When she cried out to God that He would bless her, He did so much more than simply bless her, He has consistently enlarged her territory (to the point that it is starting to make her uncomfortable – not that that’s a bad thing!) He has kept His hand upon her, directing her steps and making them more and more sure every day. He has most definitely kept her from more harm that even she could ever imagine!!!!! But the best part of all, He has freed her from the pain. And to signify that freedom from pain He blessed her with a new name. Tamar. A name that symbolizes strength in adversity, fruit in the wilderness, love for the unloved, water for the thirsty and food for the hungry. Tamar symbolizes light for those in darkness, hope for those in desperation, Tamar is a bride of Christ.

I am Tamar, who are you? What does your name mean to you? How does it define you? Is it holding you back? Or is it pushing you forward toward Christ?

Just like Saul, Tyra lived her religion most days of her life, until she came face to face with the One her religion was named after. Have you come face to face with the One your religion was named after? Many people today claim Christianity and yet know very little about what it really means to be a Christian. The every day practices of a Christian vary depending on what denomination you talk to, but the core, the center, the HEART of Christianity has very little to do with religion. It’s ALL about RELATIONSHIP. It’s about having one, with THE ONE. 🙂 Tyra lived her religion, Tamar lives her relationship. Don’t just go through the motions of religion, live them. Don’t pray for the sake of praying, pray because you want to carry on a conversation with the One who heals; because Jesus loves you. Don’t go to church because it’s something Christians do, go to church because He’s told us not to forsake gathering together with fellow believers; because Jesus loves you. Don’t get involved in volunteering because it’s the right thing to do, do it because He’s asked us to be His hands and feet; because Jesus loves you. Jesus loves YOU. Jesus came and fought religion because He doesn’t want empty rituals and empty sacrifices, He wants a marriage relationship with YOU. If that relationship involves a ritual or two, and what relationship doesn’t, then that’s OK. But it’s not the ritual that He wants, it’s not the ritual that He loves, He loves YOU!

Most parents go through a bed time ritual with their children. Usually because the routine of it bring the child comfort in its predictability, it helps the child know what time it is and prepares them for sleep, and they’re fun. As the parent, you don’t go through the ritual just to do the ritual, you go through it for your child’s benefit. There are parts of it that you enjoy and benefit from, but you do it for their sake, not wholly your own. God is the same way. He’s given us rituals to follow to bring us comfort in their predictability, especially when life is so unpredictable! He’s given us rituals to help us know and remember what time it is and to prepare us for what is coming next. But it’s not the rituals that He loves, it’s not the customs we have or the words that we say that He loves, it’s us. The rituals and customs and rules are supposed to REMIND us of Him and His unending love for us. And it’s easy to get so caught up in these things that we forget to look to whom they are pointing. They’re supposed to be pointing us to a relationship with Jesus, to an ever new level of intimacy with Him until we finally get to go home and know Him as we are known. That is what a relationship with Him is about, constantly getting to know Him better. That’s what any relationship is about! You don’t stop getting to know your husband the day you get married, that’s the day you REALLY start to get to know him!

I challenge you today to be thoughtful in what way you can get to know Jesus better; today and every day here after. He is desperate for you, are you desperate for Him? If not, ask Him why you aren’t and start seeking ways to become desperate for Him; hungry for His presence His touch in your life. It’s like a drug that isn’t illegal and shouldn’t ever be, are you addicted to Him? Do you wanna be? I’ve got some you can try, it’s the really good stuff, the kind that you NEVER come down off of either. Because He promises to NEVER leave you or forsake you, not ever; because Jesus loves you.

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Trust the Truth

Some people like to think that Jesus was just a good teacher, maybe even a prophet, but not God or the Messiah. There’s a problem with that thought process though, the things that He taught and claimed about Himself weren’t on that same level. He was either absolutely and completely insane or He was Satan himself or He was actually telling the truth and is who He actually says He is. In fact many people accused Him of being demonic (in Matthew 12:22-37) but their accusations were silenced when he pointed out the error in their thinking. If Jesus is demonic then He wouldn’t be commanding the demons OUT of people but rather IN to them!

In Mark’s retelling of this same story of the teachers of the law thinking Jesus was “possessed by Beelzebub! By the prince of demons He is driving out demons.” (3:22) Mark includes a little “behind the scenes” info for us. Before this fateful conversation with the teachers of the law, Jesus’ family came to “take charge of Him, for they said, He is out of His mind.'” (Mark 3:21) Again in John 10:20-21 “many of them said, ‘He is demon-possessed and raving mad. Why listen to Him?’ But others said, ‘These are not the sayings of a man possessed by a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?”

Would a demon open the eyes of the blind? I don’t think so. Considering that the goal of Satan is to keep as many people as possible spiritually blind, wandering around in complete and total darkness, unable to find God, it makes VERY little sense that Satan would even CONSIDER opening those closed minds and eyes. And since that is the most obvious conclusion I feel it is fairly safe to assume that Jesus was neither insane nor demonic which leaves but one logical conclusion, He is completely sane, telling and teaching the truth and therefore is who He claims to be! Sometimes the truth sounds the most insane because it is the truth. So seldom do we encounter pure unadulterated truth that it automatically resounds in our brains as a foreign invader and thusly insane because it is simply that radically different. Just like when someone donates a kidney to a friend. Even if they’re a perfect match the friend still has to take anti-rejection drugs to keep her body from rejecting the gift she has been given, we too need to take our own anti-rejection medicine in order to accept and keep God’s gift of salvation.

TRUST. Sometimes you just have to trust, even when nothing around you makes sense. Maybe none of it is making sense because it’s really the truth that has been injected into an environment that is simply unfamiliar with the truth. New truth, well, new-to-you truth can be hard to accept. But that doesn’t make it any less the truth, it just makes it less yours. You see, we can possess the truth and the Truth can possess us. Or a falsehood can possess us, as we continue to hold onto it because of its familiarity. But just because it’s our belief that we’re holding onto doesn’t make it any less false, it just makes it ours.

When we encounter a treasure in our path, if our hands are full of trash we’re unable to pick up the treasure. We come to a moment of decision 1) keep the trash and leave the treasure or 2) reject the trash and pick up the treasure.

Matthew tells us that “The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.”(13:44-46)In these two stories we meet two men who discover great treasure and are willing to give up everything they own in order to possess that tremendous treasure. At first glance it seems as though both stories are the same message told in two different manners. However, if you look closely at the grammar and the structure of the like statements you will find a subtle difference. In the first story the kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. The kingdom of God and all its wisdom, power and truth are a priceless treasure worth our life-savings to acquire. (And I speak from personal experience and tell you that it is.) But look at the second like-statement in the second story! The kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. In this story the kingdom isn’t the treasure, the kingdom is the one searching for the treasure! Now if God is the one searching for the pearl of great value, then what pray-tell, IS the pearl of great value? Now, I want you to think for a moment, what is the one thing in all of creation that God the Creator does not already possess? Keep in mind that He is GOD, EVERYTHING is His. Except, perhaps, for you. You my friend are that pearl of great value. You are the one that Jesus Himself is willing to set EVERYTHING aside for. EVERYTHING. All His power, all His majesty, all His life; He laid it ALL down at the foot of the cross like trash to pick up the treasure – YOU.

Don’t let the falsehood keep it’s hold on you any longer. Let go of the belief that Jesus was less than what He said He was, that He can’t do everything that He says He can. Because He is, He can and He will… but never without your permission. He is a gentleman after all.

So, how can we apply all this information to our marriages? By remembering that WE are a pearl of great value, worth selling everything else for. If you need help remembering, buy yourself some pearl jewelry and wear it! Then every time life throws you a dirty look, a sneer or snide remark you can look at your pearl – or touch them on your neck and say to yourself “I am worth dying for.” Then just smile back and say “God bless you!” as if they had only sneezed at you and nothing more.

When we place our trust and value in the hands of God it’s out of reach of the things of this world. They can’t touch them. If you feel like your husband isn’t valuing you like the pearl of great value – it doesn’t matter, because your worth doesn’t lie in his hands, but in God’s. However, you can’t just lie down and let your husband walk all over you like a door mat either. Stand up for yourself in prayer. Tell God how your husband is treating you and how you feel about it. Remember, it is not your job or place to change your husband, only God can change hearts. But it IS your job to PRAY FOR HIM!

So often we don’t feel like we’re doing anything when we pray. But nothing could be farther from the truth! I believe that if we could catch just a glimpse of what our prayers activate in the unseen spiritual realm we would never get up off our knees! Why else was that the one thing that ALL the gospel writers mentioned in their letters? If they went without food or water or clothes, or if they were in jail or shipwrecked they could manage, but go without being covered in the prayers of others? NEVER! Prayer IS doing something, it’s doing MORE than you could even imagine. Never stop praying for your husband, not ever!

When Jesus walked this dirtball, He was constantly under pressure and ridicule; even His family thought He was crazy at one point. They failed to believe in Him, failed to believe that He was telling the truth, failed to remember who the angel told them – before His birth – who He would be! Take a moment to do a mental inventory, have you been believing in your husband? Or have you joined in on the ridiculing and doubt? As his wife he needs for you to be his “safe person”. The one who he can always trust to be in his corner when things get rough and the Enemy starts to attack. He needs to know that no matter what is happening in his life you WILL be there to cheer him on and help him up. Can your husband count on you to be that person? Is he that person for you? He should be.

Do you doubt your husband’s ability to perform any of these tasks? Take those doubts to the cross. Ask God to take care of them, His ear is not too dull to hear nor is His arm to short to save. He is MORE than able to help you and your husband achieve greatness in your marriage. God is able to do abundantly more than all you can ask or imagine! So start imagining and asking for that great marriage you dream of, and then let God work His miracles. He is able and He is willing, you need only to ask, believe and then wait patiently on the LORD.

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Son-Glasses

I have a very intimate relationship with God. It is a gift above any gift I could ever ask for, it is my identity and my solace. He is my husband and my friend and I would die without Him. Because my relationship with Jesus is so precious to me, and because I believed what I had been taught about sins and the importance of confessing them in order to remain in contact with God I became extremely sin conscience. It started by making sure to clear my conscience before bed every night so that the Enemy couldn’t torment me in my dreams. Eventually I started the practice of clearing my conscience and confessing my sins every time I washed my hands – which is a LOT when you’re a stay at home mom! I finally got to the point where I was afraid to talk because I might sin, I was afraid to do anything wrong because then God would turn His face from me and wouldn’t talk to me anymore. I was constantly worried that I wasn’t doing the right things: Not spending enough time with my kids and too much time writing; spending too much time with my kids and not enough time writing… I was constantly walking on eggshells and afraid that one would break and I wouldn’t notice it soon enough that I would be able to confess it before something happened. I was afraid that God would lift His shield of protection if I sinned, there’s only one place I could have picked up that idea and it’s not from GOD! Honestly, the worst part of this whole thing, is how ignorant I was to the whole thing! Sure, writing it all down now and looking back it sounds psychotic, but the change was gradual and I was, at the time, convinced in my legalism (although I wasn’t seeing it as such at the time). I was deluded. I had been lured into being held captive to the lie that I needed to constantly ask for God’s forgiveness in order to have His stamp of approval and protection on my life. But all that succeeded in doing was to tie me up in knots, stress me out and frustrate me. I certainly wasn’t living freely, or abundantly.

Here I am, a FIRM believer in “God is in control” and yet I was placing all the control on MY very weak shoulders. The way I was viewing it, is I was expecting God to protect/bless us, IF I did everything right….. ummmmmm….. Tamar, at what point did you die on a cross and rise from the dead in order to place that kind of authority and power on yourself? Honey, that’s not how GRACE works.

Grace has nothing to do with you earning anything, and everything to do with JESUS. This past week I was struggling with my priorities (as mentioned before) and when I should be doing things during my day in order to get them all done. I have decided that I need to get up at five to spend time solely for prayer while I shower so that my day will start successfully. To do this I must exhibit self-control and walk away from the TV and/or household chores at 9:45pm in order to be in bed by 10:00pm (I have yet to actually do this by the way, close, but not yet). One morning I drug myself out of bed and literally stumbled my way into the cold bright bathroom attempting to wake myself up… it didn’t work. I tried reading my Bible, but my eyes just kept closing themselves. I told the spirit of fatigue to leave me in Jesus’ name, but that didn’t work either. Finally I said, “Lord, if You REALLY want me to do this right now instead of going back to bed, You are going to have to wake me up.” Still nothing. But in my heart, I knew that it WAS His will to spend alone time with me. He’s told me so on several occasions. I gave in to the tears burning my eyes and sobbed in frustration at my lack of ability to carry out His will. I said “Lord, I am so sorry that I can’t do this. I’m sorry that I’m not good enough for You. Lord, I quit, I can’t do this anymore…” When I was finished verbally beating myself to a pulp He said, “When are you gonna get it that it’s not about what you DO?” And the verse about our righteous acts are as filthy rags popped into my head.

Pleasing God, gaining His approval, benefiting from His blessings and His protection has NOTHING to do with what you DO, that’s legalism.  And it has everything to do with what has been done in your name. Every day we do things “in Jesus’ name”, without ever realizing or thinking about what HE does in our name every day. The first thing He did in our name is He died to pay for our sins. Every single one of them, both past and present. And if that was all He ever did in our name, that would be amazing. But wait, there’s more! Right this very minute Jesus is sitting at the right hand of God the Father. And because we all have sinned and fallen short, every day, when it happens, as it happens, Jesus lifts His wrist to the Father’s eyes and let’s Him watch us through the holes that the nails left, so that Yaweh can now look upon our sin and yet never turn away from us. He views our sins through Jesus’ hand-made “Son-glasses”.

When we give our lives to Christ, it is a precious thing. Something that He does NOT take lightly. He takes us and places us safely in the center of the palm of the Father’s hand, where we are free to walk, run, jump, dance, eat, drink and be merry in His presence to our hearts content. And if at any point we begin to wander too close to the edge of His hand (AKA sin) then He will begin to tighten His grip on us, to close His fingers in around us, bringing us back to the center of His grace. That tightness may be a bit uncomfortable for a time, possibly even downright painful, but I think you will agree that the end result is worth it isn’t it? Praise God that life isn’t all about us! It’s all about Him! What He has done for us, not what we do for Him. It’s about how He loves us, and shows us that love in a multi-faceted ways everyday. How He keeps us protected from all eternal harm when we’ve chosen to allow Him to do so by placing ourselves totally into His loving hand.

So this morning and, I pray, every morning from here on out when I get up I will place my own set of Son-glasses on over my eyes to help me remember that what Jesus did on the cross and in the tomb, is a FINISHED work that He did in my name before God Almighty, so that the laundry list of my sins past, present and future are FORGIVEN. Once and for all, so that I can go about living life and not get wrapped up in sin. I can walk with confidence knowing that if I am doing something wrong, He will alert me to the situation and I pray that I will choose to heed His warnings and cease and desist immediately!

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He knows the plans

I’ve been having a rough week this week, things haven’t really been horrible, just not great either. It’s been a lot of sleepless nights, vivid dreams I can’t seem to remember and some I’d rather not. But today things seemed harder because today was the end of an era.

I’ve written a book for God with my husband and have not been able to publish it yet. We have a self-publishing company that we’re planning on going with, but the money for the project just isn’t coming in at all. God confirmed to me two Weeks ago that it is His will for me to be creating a program, to go along with the book we wrote, for small groups to go through the book together and support each other. He confirmed this to me by having the publishing company send me a flyer for their “publish two books for the price of one” sale. So, I’ve got to admit that when I saw the flyer the day after I realized that it was God’s will for me to write a companion journal for True Intimacy I assumed that it also meant that the funds for this whole project to get it off the ground would be here by the ending date of the sale… today.
As you have probably figured out, no money fell into my pockets from the sky today. And I have to admit there is a big part of me that wants to be disappointed about it. But at the same time I also know that GOD knows the plans that He has for me. They’re plans to prosper me and not to harm me, plans for a hope and a future. Because I have called upon Him, I have come to Him in prayer and He has listened to me. I have sought Him with my whole heart, so I will find Him. He will bring me back from the captivity that we are in (financially). He will gather us from all the nations and places where He has banished us to and will bring us back to the place from which He carried us into exile. (Jeremiah 29:11-14)
You see, there is something I have learned over the last few years of getting to know God more intimately… He really likes the dramatic last second rescue. He likes to be our knight in shining armor, riding in on His white horse to save the day. And why not? He is God after all, it’s not like He can’t do it. In Jeremiah 32:27 He tells us “I am the LORD, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for Me?” IS anything to hard for God? Is it too hard for God to get $25,000 together and into my bank account in 14 days? Of course not! So why didn’t He do it then? Because He has something better in mind that’s why!
He knows that it’s not my big dream to pay someone to publish our book, it’s my dream to have someone pay me to publish our book. And I believe that He will do it that way too.

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Press into Me

I'm the one on the left ;)Today I get to unfold a wonderful secret truth to you! And I am so excited to share it with you! Our main story comes from 1 Kings 20. This is so much more than a story of what was happening centuries ago. This is a story of what is happening right now! TODAY! The names may be different, but the story is exactly the same.

Let me introduce you to our two main characters. In one corner we have Ben-Hadad, king of Aram, enemy of the people of God… aka. Satan. In the opposite corner we have Ahab king of Israel, child of the living God, a symbol of you, today, right now.

1-3 At about this same time Ben-Hadad king of Aram mustered his troops. He recruited in addition thirty-two local sheiks, all outfitted with horses and chariots. He set out in force and surrounded Samaria, ready to make war. He sent an envoy into the city to set his terms before Ahab king of Israel: “Ben-Hadad lays claim to your silver and gold, and to the pick of your wives and sons.”

 4 The king of Israel accepted the terms: “As you say, distinguished lord; I and everything I have is yours.”

 5-6 But then the envoy returned a second time, saying, “On second thought, I want it all—your silver and gold and all your wives and sons. Hand them over—the whole works. I’ll give you twenty-four hours; then my servants will arrive to search your palace and the houses of your officials and loot them; anything that strikes their fancy, they’ll take.”

 7 The king of Israel called a meeting of all his tribal elders. He said, “Look at this—outrageous! He’s just looking for trouble. He means to clean me out, demanding all my women and children. And after I already agreed to pay him off handsomely!”

 8 The elders, backed by the people, said, “Don’t cave in to him. Don’t give an inch.”

 9 So he sent an envoy to Ben-Hadad, “Tell my distinguished lord, ‘I agreed to the terms you delivered the first time, but this I can’t do—this I won’t do!'”

    The envoy went back and delivered the answer.

 10 Ben-Hadad shot back his response: “May the gods do their worst to me, and then worse again, if there’ll be anything left of Samaria but rubble.”

 11 The king of Israel countered, “Think about it—it’s easier to start a fight than end one.”

 12 It happened that when Ben-Hadad heard this retort he was into some heavy drinking, boozing it up with the sheiks in their field shelters. Drunkenly, he ordered his henchmen, “Go after them!” And they attacked the city.

 13 Just then a lone prophet approached Ahab king of Israel and said, “God’s word: Have you taken a good look at this mob? Well, look again—I’m turning it over to you this very day. And you’ll know, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that I am God.”

 14 Ahab said, “Really? And who is going to make this happen?”

    God said, “The young commandos of the regional chiefs.”

    “And who,” said Ahab, “will strike the first blow?”

    God said, “You.”

 15 Ahab looked over the commandos of the regional chiefs; he counted 232. Then he assessed the available troops—7,000.

 16-17 At noon they set out after Ben-Hadad who, with his allies, the thirty-two sheiks, was busy at serious drinking in the field shelters. The commandos of the regional chiefs made up the vanguard.

    A report was brought to Ben-Hadad: “Men are on their way from Samaria.”

 18 He said, “If they’ve come in peace, take them alive as hostages; if they’ve come to fight, the same—take them alive as hostages.”

 19-20 The commandos poured out of the city with the full army behind them. They hit hard in hand-to-hand combat. The Arameans scattered from the field, with Israel hard on their heels. But Ben-Hadad king of Aram got away on horseback, along with his cavalry.

 21 The king of Israel cut down both horses and chariots—an enormous defeat for Aram.

 22 Sometime later the prophet came to the king of Israel and said, “On the alert now—build up your army, assess your capabilities, and see what has to be done. Before the year is out, the king of Aram will be back in force.”

 23-25 Meanwhile the advisors to the king of Aram said, “Their god is a god of the mountains—we don’t stand a chance against them there. So let’s engage them on the plain where we’ll have the advantage. Here’s the strategy: Remove each sheik from his place of leadership and replace him with a seasoned officer. Then recruit a fighting force equivalent in size to the army that deserted earlier—horse for horse, chariot for chariot. And we’ll fight them on the plain—we’re sure to prove stronger than they are.”

    It sounded good to the king; he did what they advised.

 26-27 As the new year approached, Ben-Hadad rallied Aram and they went up to Aphek to make war on Israel. The Israelite army prepared to fight and took the field to meet Aram. They moved into battle formation before Aram in two camps, like two flocks of goats. The plain was seething with Arameans.

 28 Just then a holy man approached the king of Israel saying, “This is God’s word: Because Aram said, ‘God is a god of the mountains and not a god of the valleys,’ I’ll hand over this huge mob of an army to you. Then you’ll know that I am God.”

 29-30 The two armies were poised in a standoff for seven days. On the seventh day fighting broke out. The Israelites killed 100,000 of the Aramean infantry in one day. The rest of the army ran for their lives back to the city, Aphek, only to have the city wall fall on 27,000 of the survivors.

 30-31 Ben-Hadad escaped into the city and hid in a closet. Then his advisors told him, “Look, we’ve heard that the kings of Israel play by the rules; let’s dress in old gunnysacks, carry a white flag of truce, and present ourselves to the king of Israel on the chance that he’ll let you live.”

You see, the Armean forces, today, are real. There really are demons flooding the streets looking for people to attack, looking for people to drag down into a pit of despair and depression. They are surrounding the people of God and trying to hold them back from an intimate relationship with their God. And so many times the people allow them to win, they allow the Enemy to sink into their mind and convince them that they’re fat or that they’re not good mothers. But God is so gracious! Because we don’t just get the honor of winning the battles on the moutain tops of life, because He is also the God of the valleys of life as well. He doesn’t just bring victory in the good things and the good times, He brings victory in the low times of life too. In those times when we feel like two tiny little herds of goats and the Enemy is covering the entire countryside against us. But GOD is with us! God sends His messengers into our lives to encourage us and let us know that He IS with us and that He will bring us victory! Victory in ALL the battles of life, the mountains and the valleys! The high points and the low points! How? Check out what is happening to Elisha in 2 Kings 6

 8 One time when the king of Aram was at war with Israel, after consulting with his officers, he said, “At such and such a place I want an ambush set.”

 9 The Holy Man sent a message to the king of Israel: “Watch out when you’re passing this place, because Aram has set an ambush there.”

 10 So the king of Israel sent word concerning the place of which the Holy Man had warned him.

    This kind of thing happened all the time.

 11 The king of Aram was furious over all this. He called his officers together and said, “Tell me, who is leaking information to the king of Israel? Who is the spy in our ranks?”

 12 But one of his men said, “No, my master, dear king. It’s not any of us. It’s Elisha the prophet in Israel. He tells the king of Israel everything you say, even what you whisper in your bedroom.”

 13 The king said, “Go and find out where he is. I’ll send someone and capture him.”

    The report came back, “He’s in Dothan.”

 14 Then he dispatched horses and chariots, an impressive fighting force. They came by night and surrounded the city.

 15 Early in the morning a servant of the Holy Man got up and went out. Surprise! Horses and chariots surrounding the city! The young man exclaimed, “Oh, master! What shall we do?”

 16 He said, “Don’t worry about it—there are more on our side than on their side.”

 17 Then Elisha prayed, “O God, open his eyes and let him see.”

    The eyes of the young man were opened and he saw. A wonder! The whole mountainside full of horses and chariots of fire surrounding Elisha!

 18 When the Arameans attacked, Elisha prayed to God, “Strike these people blind!” And God struck them blind, just as Elisha said.

 19 Then Elisha called out to them, “Not that way! Not this city! Follow me and I’ll lead you to the man you’re looking for.” And he led them into Samaria.

 20 As they entered the city, Elisha prayed, “O God, open their eyes so they can see where they are.” God opened their eyes. They looked around—they were trapped in Samaria!

Again, a man of God was completely surrounded and seemingly incapacitated by the Enemy forces around him… but those Enemy forces had no idea what was REALLY going on! Only God and Elisha did. Elisha could SEE what the battle REALLY looked like. Heavenly Chariots of fire surrounding the Enemy. And that is the case for us every day! We HAVE to walk in the confidence that God’s faithfulness is our shield and our rampart! (Psalm 91: 4) It has nothing to do with our faith or our goodness or our works, it is all dependent on Him and Him alone. When we realize that the battle belongs to the LORD and not to us, then the battle becomes so much easier. Look at the Israelites, they still had to fight the battle, they still had to go through that valley, but they went through it KNOWING that the victory was theirs! They fought that battle and they WON that battle! They did SERIOUS damage to the enemy forces while they were fighting too! It wasn’t just that they survived the battle with their lives in tact, NO! They WON that battle, they DEFEATED their foe! Leaving a trail of bloodshed and defeat behind them! In the story with Elisha, God opens our eyes to the fact that although we may not be able to see them, the warrior angels ARE there to help us defeat the seemingly overwhelming enemy force that may surround us at the moment. TAKE HEART my friend, because those that are with us are more than those who are with them! Because GOD is with us, who can be against us???

This morning while still snuggling with my husband in bed, God said so lovingly to me: “Press into ME”. This is our command, this is our honor, this is our privilege, to press into Him. Jesus is our heavenly husband. He loves us more than we could ever hope or imagine! He desperately wants us to press into Him; to stand close to Him and lean into Him, laying our heads on His shoulder with our nose against His neck and our arms around His waist, so that He can wrap His loving tender arms around us and hold us tightly. Just like those angel troops surrounded the enemy forces, His arms surround and protect us from the Enemy and his efforts to destroy us, causing him to fail! So today I pray (feel free to pray with me):

Lord, I press into You. You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek You; I thirst for You, my whole being longs for You, in a dry and parched land where there is no water.” (Psalm 63:1) I believe that it is Your faithfulness to me that is my shield and my rampart and not my own faithfulness to You. God I THANK YOU for always being here for me, to shield me from the storm and to draw me nearer to where You are. Lord, I will praise You in this storm, because I BELIEVE that You are with me, and that You will bring me victory in Your own way. In Jesus’ name, AMEN!”

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Labor

“We always give thanks to God for all of you, mentioning you in our prayers – continually remembering before our God and Father you work of faith and and steadiness of hope in our Lord Yeshua the Messiah.” (1 Thessalonians 1:3 The Tree of Life Version)

OK, so I wanted to try my hand at writing to a theme today. Usually I just write whatever the LORD puts in my head, but yesterday, sitting in church, listening to the sermon on work, I felt the Holy Spirit tug me and tell me to stretch myself a little and start things from a different angle today. When we talked with the pastor after the sermon he mentioned that when he does a topical sermon he always starts with a word search through the bible to see what the scriptures say on the topic. So naturally, that’s where I started too. There are 115 individual scriptures in the New International Version of the Bible that have the word “labor” in them. I didn’t even get past the first 8 before I didn’t want to look at them any more! Almost every single one prefaced the word labor with the word “hard” or “harsh”, how depressing! So I decided, maybe I should look up the Webster’s definition of labor, maybe that might be a little more inspirational for a devotional blog… nope! According to my Webster’s New Basic dictionary and Thesaurus labor means: “(n) exertion of the body or mind; task; pains of childbirth, workmen collectively. (v) work hard; strive; maintain normal motion with difficulty; esp. of a ship, be tossed heavily.” I seriously thought to myself, THIS is what we’re supposed to be celebrating today??? Are we crazy??? And now that I’m thinking about it more, most of us celebrate Labor Day with a day OFF from laboring! Now, that doesn’t make sense either. So how do I write something inspirational and hopefully uplifting about a topic that is so depressing?

Maybe I should just start at the beginning. That’s what God did. If we look at the Garden of Eden and the very first thing that God gave Adam to do, He put him in the garden to “work it and take care of it” (Gen 2:15). But this job wasn’t labor, it wasn’t rife with toil or harshness. It was a labor of love! The ground had not been cursed yet, and was therefore easy to work. There wasn’t even sweat involved in the work. But then that serpent of old slithered in and ruined everything! He tempted, they ate, they were ashamed and hid, and then… in walks Daddy. Of course, like any good parent knows, He doesn’t really have to ask “what happened here”, because He already knows, He can see the evidence all over the ground, their faces, their fig leaves, but most of all… because He’s God. They offer Him their feeble excuses for what they’ve done and then their punishment is doled out:

“16 To the woman he said,“I will make your pains in childbearing very severe; with painful labor you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.” 17 To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat from it,’ “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life. 18 It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. 19 By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.” (Gen 3:16-19)

The very first appearance of the word labor in the NIV is in the curse for the woman and birthing children, it will be labor. Curious, I looked up the original Hebrew for this verse and found that it can also be translated as worrisomeness, labor, pain, toil or sorrow. Now please, moms out there, tell me, how many of you have birthed a child and NOT been plagued with worries, pain, toil and sorrows ever since your child was born? The physical pain of birthing that child may have concluded at its delivery, but all the rest of it certainly hasn’t stopped since! Just this week my four-year-old has shed blood 3 times in a four-day-span and the worry that I have been wrapped up in as to the cause of all this blood shed has eaten me up inside! Yet, I also don’t know a mother out there that wouldn’t say that all of this labor of mothering is anything other than a labor of love. It’s hard, totally not glamorous, but completely worth all of it!

I have to admit, in the last 2 years I have been laboring. I’ve studied hard, researched til my brain hurt and written until I thought my fingers were going to fall off, all for the sake of spreading the good news that Jesus saves! Not just our souls for eternal heavenly purposes, but for TODAY and the life that we were created to live! I can’t even begin to count how many hours I have spent at my desk pouring over the scriptures trying to find the understanding I felt I needed to be able to tell people in an informed manner what God can do for them. I filled an entire book with the knowledge and insight that I gained from the Holy Spirit. And I OFTEN referred to True Intimacy as a child or a baby. I labored, like many people would never understand, to birth that book. The concept in it and the rationales behind them. Many never written out, but simply there in the background of the page, written in red between the lines.  When it became very obvious that it was not God’s plan to immediately publish True Intimacy in a 3D printed format, I have to admit, I was crushed, but obedient and went the direction that God led me; this website. Creating it, praying for it, learning (the hard way) how to put it together and work the programs, to even writing and posting daily, it’s all been hard labor. But every second of it has been worth it, my labor of love for my creator and for you. Through this entire process I have said “people need to know about this!” and that’s why I’ve been writing. Not for the money or the fame of being a “published author”, although that has certainly been part of the dream, but for the simple fact that God delivered my husband and I so completely from the bondage of past sins that all I wanted to do was tell the world that Jesus saves! That Jesus frees! That Jesus loves! That God cares… about YOU! And honestly, if I never see a penny from royalties to the things that I write in His name I’m perfectly fine with that as long as the good news is being spread and read! And really, I think that’s the whole point of labor. Laboring in love for the people around you who will benefit from your toil. Putting our selfishness aside and putting those people first. When we make a dinner for someone who is home bound, it’s still labor, but the labor isn’t as toilsome when done in love, don’t you think? Perhaps that is because our hearts are lighter and therefore our burden is lighter as well. I don’t know. I just know that when we’re laboring for someone else to benefit it seems a lot less like labor and a lot more like love. 🙂

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Day 34: Beneficial

God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good.  And there was evening, and there was morning, the sixth day.    Genesis 1:31

Humans were one of the things created on the sixth day.  When God made humans He created them with procreation in mind.  But more beautiful than that, He performed the very first wedding ceremony too!  In Genesis 2:22-24 it tells us that He brought her to the man (walked her down the aisle), the groom said “va va va vooom!  I’ll take her!  I DO!” and then God said the thing that has been repeated in almost every wedding ceremony since the beginning of time “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.”  Now, *ahem*, “and they will become one flesh”; WHAT do you suppose THAT means?  They’ve just gotten married, God has approved and finalized the union, and then mentions that they will become one flesh.  Hmmmm…..  Well, God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; and fill the earth, and subdue it. (Genesis 1:28a)  Hee hee!  You see, God isn’t afraid of sex.  He created it, and He created it to be “very good”!  “God saw ALL that He had made, and it was VERY GOOD.”  Ya-know, since humans were included in that statement, I believe that means sex was also included in that statement.  God created it all, including sex to be VERY GOOD, otherwise we all would’ve stopped having it a long time ago.

When you view your body as a living sacrifice and a gift to both God and your husband, sex with your husband can end up being an act of worship and praise to God if you let it.  As part of this act of worship I recommend praying together before making love.  It may seem a little strange or silly at first (considering we’ve never seen it on movies or TV), but think about it; we pray together at the dinner table before we satisfy our body’s hunger for food.  Is it really that far of a stretch to pray together at the marriage bed before we satisfy our body’s hunger for sexual fulfillment?  Personally I think taking a few moments to thank God for our true intimacy is just as important if not more so, than thanking Him for our food.  Besides, in a few more moments you’ll probably be praising God for His “job well done” in making your husband’s body, and your union.  Just make sure that you’re not worshiping the sex or your husband, but the true maker of them both, God Almighty.  He created sex for our enjoyment, so have FUN with it.  Don’t allow sex to be another item on your to-do list, let it be something you look forward to with anticipation.  Let it be something special between you and your husband, something to get silly and giddy about.  Honestly, in our marriage, sex has gone from an obligation to, well, we’re acting like newlyweds again.  We’re playful with one another.  We’re whispering to each other.  We’re speaking in code to tell each other “I want you”.  It’s a whole new world for us now!  Our God is a creative God, be creative in your love-making.  With that being said, I must throw in this precautionary verse as a consideration for you.

In 1 Corinthians 6:12, Paul informs the Corinthians that while everything is permissible for them, not everything is beneficial for them.  Meaning, just because it’s not considered a sin for you to do something doesn’t mean that it’s not harmful for you to do it.  And that’s the question you have to ask of the LORD, “Is this sexual act I’d like to do beneficial?”  Something that God has spoken through me is that “He made marriage to allow us to do whatever our filthy little minds would come up with.”  From what I’ve been able to find through all my research thus far; as long as it’s within the bounds of marriage (one woman and one man for life, legally bound by the state), it is permissible.  Whether it is beneficial is between the two of you and God!  Remember, you do not want to do anything that will harm your body, or cause you to sin against Him, or degrade each other. Your bodies are the temple of God, a living sacrifice, so you need to be respectful of that at all times; You do not want add a 3rd party or pornography to your love life.  These, among a few other things, fall outside the bounds of “one woman and one man for life, legally bound by the state” and would (in my opinion) be a big mistake.  When in doubt about something, ask God and possibly a doctor if need be.  If you can’t get a clear answer, I’d recommend skipping it for now.  In my opinion, it’s better to be safe than guilty and build more blessing blockades.   Another aspect that you need to consider is if one of you is being degraded or disrespected by the sexual act in question?  Let’s take oral sex for example.  If my husband finds it disgusting and degrading, then it would be inconsiderate of me to ask him to do it all the time.  However, if he chooses to do that for me, I receive that as a HUGE act of love and kindness since I know that it is something that he doesn’t really care for.  You’ve got to be respectful of each other and your preferences.

Most of all, you need to be open with one another about these things!  Have conversations about the things that you like and dislike things you’d like to try, and things that really turn you off.  I’m telling you, these conversations can be QUITE eye-opening and very exciting.  They will help you to be more open to each other’s ideas, and give you an opportunity to discuss things ahead of time so that when you’re actually in the process of being intimate with each other you can simply focus on one another.

As I prayed for a nice scripture to wrap up this book, God gave me Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. Hee hee, that’s not the ONLY thing that He makes straight!!!  May God bless your sex!

Christian’s comments:

Well, you made it. It has been thirty days. Are you ready to have sex? Don’t be surprised if you answered “No”. You may not be ready to go “all the way” yet. You may need to take a couple of days to build up to it. Just take it slow and enjoy the experience.

If you are like me, you like your wife to come on to you. However, if she follows Tamar’s instructions, she won’t this time. You must lead her in this aspect of your marriage, just like you do in every other aspect of it. If you’re not sure about that, don’t worry, God will lead you. I suggest that you pray together before you get started.

The best advice that I can give you is: HAVE FUN! Enjoy each other. Marriage gives you leave to do most of the things your dirty mind can think of. Try new things. Try new positions. Try new locations! You don’t have to be restricted to the bedroom. Ask your wife if there is anything she wants to try. You will quite possibly be shocked and pleasantly surprised by what she says. I was!

Husbands, buy your wife some lingerie. Wives, wear it! And not just in the bedroom. Surprise your husband by wearing it out to dinner under your clothes. Or better yet, TO CHURCH! Meet him at the door when he gets home from work wearing it (just make sure the neighbors don’t see)!

Husbands, surprise your wife too. Buy yourself a sexy pair of shorts or a thong at the lingerie store and strut around the house for your wife (just make sure the kids are asleep, or at a friend’s house). Or jump in the shower with her. Or surprise her when she’s doing laundry. Washing machines can be fun!

Maybe try costumes if you have always wanted to; perhaps a French maid. What I’m getting at here is, now is the time to start living out your fantasies with each other. But remember to pace yourselves; you have a long life together ahead of you.

Most importantly of all, keep God involved. He created sex. He wants you to enjoy it. With Him involved, it will be a very spiritual experience.

Well, this brings us to the end. I pray that reading and following this book helps you as greatly as writing it helped us. I think all that’s left to be said is, God bless, and great sex.

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Day 33: Celebrate

So these days were to be remembered and celebrated throughout every generation, every family, every province and every city; and these days of Purim were not to fail from among the Jews, or their memory fade from their descendants.  Esther 9:28

At this point in our fast, I was studying Beth Moore’s Esther: it’s Tough Being a Woman and it wasn’t but a day or two after our “first time” that this verse came up in our bible study.  Beth Moore was telling us about how important it is to God that we celebrate the times when He delivers us from the enemy’s hand.  The Israelites were delivered from slavery in Egypt, so they celebrate Passover.  In Esther they were delivered from an evil man’s plot to commit genocide, so they celebrate Purim.  As Christians we were delivered from sin and death by Christ’s death on the cross, so we celebrate Easter.  God loves it when we celebrate the miracles He’s performed in our lives.

God used this fast to deliver us from the bondage and slavery of sexual sin.  And I pray that He has done the same for you as well.  Therefore we should celebrate that deliverance!  The way that Christian and I have started celebrating is by fasting monthly during my period.

While some people may find the Old Testament laws “old-fashioned” and “out-dated” and “there’s no need to follow them all”, I feel that following them will bring us a much greater blessing than not following them.  With that being said, in Leviticus 15:19 it says, When a woman has a discharge, if her discharge in her body is blood, she shall continue in her menstrual impurity for seven days; and whoever touches her shall be unclean until evening. And in Leviticus 18:19 it says, Also you shall not approach a woman to uncover her nakedness during her menstrual impurity. (Notice, it’s a repeated scripture…)  Now from some of the people I’ve talked to about these scriptures, they feel that this was simply for a cleanliness issue back then, they had no running water.  However, I’m not so sure.  This is blood that we’re talking about, and we KNOW how God feels about blood, it’s a serious thing for Him.  So, like I said earlier, I don’t think that God can give us his full blessing if we’re not following his laws; even the “old” ones.

So, anyway, back to celebrating.  As a celebration of how God has changed our marriage, every month for the 7 days of my period Christian and I mini-fast.  We change clothes in the bathroom, we hug, and 10 second kiss, and that’s it.  We use that time to back away from each other and draw closer to God.  During the week I pray that God draw out anything that is standing between God, Christian, and I before the 7th day.  And, so far we’ve had something to talk about every time.  On the 7th day, I take my purity bath, prepare myself for my husband, and become the lioness again – he leads.  And, it’s still amazing sex.  I’ll be honest, life still happens and there are still times when things don’t go quite as we hope they will, but the intimacy is more than I ever could have hoped for.  Glory to God!

Christian’s comments:

I know, husbands, I know.  You’re probably thinking “What? We just started having sex again after thirty days, and now you want us to fast a week every month!” I was thinking the same thing. Believe me when I tell you, as great as the sex is when you stop each month, it’s better when you start again after her period. Treat this short fast as seriously at the 30 day fast. The same rules apply. No sexual activities of any kind.

You will learn so much about one another during that week. It is actually a lot of fun. So be happy in the celebration. You will get so much closer to your wife, that the sex will become even more amazing.

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Day 31: Purity Bath

So Jacob said to his household and to all who were with him, “Put away the foreign gods which are among you, and purify yourselves and change your garments.”  Genesis 35:2

Christian and I were drawing near to the end of our 30 days, and I just had this feeling in my gut that we weren’t going to just “jump right back in the sack” on day 30.  The morning of day 30 actually came and I still felt like it wasn’t time yet; like I needed to DO something first.  All morning long I had the word “purify” running through my head.  I had just spent an entire month learning who I was, how God saw me, and how to be the best wife I could possibly be; and I felt like I needed to do something…ritualistic.  So I looked up scriptures for purification rituals.  In almost every one of them they mentioned blood, water, oil and perfume.  Well, Christ took care of all the blood we would ever need, so I wasn’t concerned at all with that.  But the water, oil and perfume made sense to me; I could take a bath.  I remembered how in 2 Samuel chapter 11 when David saw Bathsheba from his rooftop she was taking a bath and had purified herself from her uncleaness.  So.  Blood: provided by Christ, check.  Water: take a bath, check.  Oil and perfume: I had a bottle of olive oil and some vanilla in the kitchen, check!

So, here’s my general procedure for the purity bath that I take, the Holy Spirit usually leads me to change things here and there from time to time, add a few things, subtract a few, etc.  Pray about it and if God is leading you to change something, feel free to do so.  Our experiences with God are uniquely ours, so your purity bath may look completely different from mine.  This is just what I have done.

When my period is completely finished, 7 days from when it started, I take a purity bath to dedicate myself to God.  It is to help me feel pure, inside and outside.  Because through the blood of Christ we have been made pure and don’t HAVE to do any purification rituals anymore, but I feel like sometimes as humans we need to DO something to help us remember that fact.  Plus, I have learned that God really loves symbolism, so I know that this process pleases Him greatly.   (Note: This entire process generally takes an hour or more depending on how long I sit, soak and pray.  So I usually try to carve out plenty of time in my schedule for it.  I really don’t like skimping on this very intimate time with my LORD.)

Step 1) I have an old soy sauce bottle that I use to mix my anointing oil; it’s just the right size and pours nicely. I never actually measure anything, but I use a cup of oil and a bit of pure vanilla extract (not a whole lot maybe a teaspoon, a little bit of this stuff goes a LOOOONG way) into the bottle.  These are the ingredients that God has inspired me to use, however, this bath is intimately yours and God’s so I highly recommend asking Him what He would like for you to use for your oil and perfume.

Step 2) I clean my bathroom concentrating on the tub itself, even if I just did it the other day, I do it again.  (Do NOT skip scrubbing the tub!  I did this ONCE and I will NEVER do it again.  The rest of the bathroom is less important, but you can not take a sacred bath in a dirty tub!  Learn from my mistake, do NOT skip this part of cleaning.)  Cleaning is a symbolic act, one where I am cleaning the dirt and grime from my bathroom and asking God to continue cleaning the dirt and grime of sin from my heart.  It is time spent on my knees in fervent prayer.  I thank God for forgiving me and for cleaning up my life and my marriage.  God has changed ME so much already and He isn’t done with me yet.  Praise God!

Step 3) Once everything is clean and all the dirt and trash are outside the room, I start filling the tub with the HOTTEST water I can possibly stand; as full as it can go without running over when I get in.  To me, this is like God’s cleansing fire and the Holy Spirit.  Sometimes, if the room is cool enough you can actually see the steam rising off the hot water just like the Holy Spirit moving throughout the room, filling your lungs.  It’s incredible!

Step 4) I kneel before my full tub and come before God on this sacred day, naked, unashamed, grateful for the work He is doing in my life, and sincerely apologetic for the things that I have done against Him.  I shake the bottle and mix the oil and vanilla together asking God to make Christian and I one flesh (the two shall become one flesh).  Then I pour it into the water and ask God to be the third cord that binds our hearts together forever.  I ask God to use this water to make me a virgin again, and to give us back all the missing pieces of our hearts.  I beg for His forgiveness.

Step 5) Read Romans 6:11-14.

Step 6) I completely submerge each part of my body in the water as I dedicate it to God for His glory and ask Him to purify and cleanse me.  I start with my feet and finish with my ears, eyes, nose, mouth and mind including swallowing a bit of the water and praying that He fill me with His words and that my words be pleasing to Him.  No more shall sin rule over me!  I lay there and think about the changes that God has made in me over the last days and how He loves me.  I continue to pray (and listen) as I rest in the presence of the LORD, letting him surround me and fill me with His Holy Spirit.

Step 7) Once I’ve soaked long enough, I lay down as far into the tub as I can and pull the plug on the drain with my foot.  As the water drains away from me I pray that my sins will be in the water and that as they drain away from me God will throw them as far as the East is from the West!  It’s the coolest feeling as the water drains; it feels like the sins are being sucked out of your body!  It only feels like this when you’re laying in the water though.

Step 8 ) (CAUTION: the tub will be soaked in oil and will be SLIPPERY at first so be VERY CAREFUL!)  I carefully stand up and take a shower, totally pampering myself.  I shave, wash my hair, and take my time; doing all those things that I normally never take the time to do.  I groom things, buff things, scrub things, anything to make me feel gorgeous.

Step 9) I clothe myself in clean white garments of righteousness.  (This is where the white panties/bra or jammies come in; I hope you were able to get some new ones.)  Now, while this doesn’t mean that I’m perfect; it does mean that I’m trying to be.

From this point forward, I am like the lions from Daniel in the lion’s den.  I keep my mouth shut and my paws to myself.  I have my husband show me how much I mean to him by not rushing things.  We’re talking days here, not hour’s people.  We’ll talk a little more about this later.

Christian’s comments:

 

Husbands, you don’t have to do your purity bath like Tamar listed hers, but rather let God lead you. I don’t take baths, but shower instead. And I don’t shave my legs.  You don’t have to shave your legs either… unless that’s something you do. I know a couple of guys that do, but it’s your prerogative.

Tamar blessed me by anointing my head with oil the first time after our first fast. After that I started taking my own purity baths. I prepare myself like it is my wedding day. I clean the shower. I run really hot water for my shower, use some nice smelling body wash and scrub myself. I use oil to shave my head and face, so I ask God to bless the oil so that I may purify myself for my wife.

I wore the typical black tux at our wedding, so I bought some black, silky boxers to wear. You don’t have to do this, but if your wife got dressed up in a new night-gown, or new white underwear, you should do something nice too.

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