Broken Promises

I saw an article the other day about the characteristics that make a man a man instead of a boy. The quote that struck me most was this

A man has integrity. He means what he says, and says what he means. He has follow through and actions his promises. And if he can’t he has the guts to tell you why. A boy makes promises but doesn’t follow through.”

(You can see the entire article here: http://fitlife.tv/the-11-differences-between-dating-a-boy-vs-a-man/

Someone had commented “I wish I had been given this information when I was younger.”

Um, yeah. Me too.

The problem was, my husband didn’t always break promises. Not as much as he does now. It’s hard when dating because everyone is on their best behavior. Over time though, we slide and allow things to slip and I wish I had been raised with enough respect for myself to see it earlier. Like before I said “I do.”

Because failure to hold to promises also goes to vows.

And that whole love and cherishing business.

Marriage is a contract between you and another person and God. But if that person can’t honor God and you by keeping those promises, then covenant has been broken.

When a man won’t repent, or even admit he’s at fault it goes beyond a broken promise. It destroys any hope of relationship.

In my home I can’t even remind my husband of things he’s promised to do. Forget the fact that he can’t remember them sometimes, he calls it nagging. So I have to simmer and suffer and reconcile myself to the fact that his words are worthless when they are spoken to me. Maybe he holds to his word with others? I’m not sure. But for me and my children we are more often disappointed to the degree that we don’t expect much anymore.

He wants to do things together as a family and wonders why I’m not enthusiastic about his attempts. Well, because he’s broken too many promises. He has grand dreams and schemes and blames everyone else for his failures to bring his promises to fruition. My children are learning first hand to keep their expectations of their father low. Even today as I type this, it is noon and he has not yet gone to work.

He can’t work for someone else because he can’t keep promises to a boss either: to be on time, to do what’s assigned, etc.

He lives in a world unto himself. Some would say he’s narcissistic and the more I read about that the more I believe it to be true. He just doesn’t care that he has disappointed his family. Alienated and wounded his wife.

How do I live in that reality?

I have to stand on the fact that God loves me and He is faithful to keep His promises to me even if my husband doesn’t. God doesn’t make promises He is unable to keep. He just doesn’t always tell me the timing of his provision and deliverance.

So then it’s up to me to bet he faithful one. The one whose words are trustworthy. So my kids will know the difference and not accept their father’s behavior as the norm.

I want them to respect their father, but when he is disrespectful it’s hard. He is a human and for that he needs respect. He is in a role that deserves respect. Behavior can be confronted but sometimes it doesn’t feel worth it because there’s never any admission of wrong or acceptance the he is flawed and could quite possibly have erred. How do you save someone from sins they deny committing? As someone once said “It must be hard to be god.” It’s hard to live with him too.

The Lord God in heaven will have to deal with him and I need to leave that in His capable hands. God’s word says He vindicates his saints. As long as I walk with Him I can trust that in time my faithfulness will be vindicated. My integrity will stand. And maybe, if it is  God’s plan, my husband can learn to keep a promise.

In the meantime I’ll cling to the One who cannot lie and who will never break a promise to me: Jesus Christ.

How about you? Is this anything you struggle with in your marriage?

Lilly Grace

Is There Anything You Can’t Do?

I used to lead Women’s Ministry and I have three children and then one day I was playing guitar on a worship team at church. One gal came up to me afterwards and said “Is there anything you can’t do?” I laughed and said, “I’m not the best housekeeper!”

I think back to that and I’m in a different home that is easier to keep clean (kids are older too so that helps) and yet I realized to my sorrow that there is one thing I cannot do.

I cannot be the wife God intended me to be by design.

Oh, I am married on paper with vows taken before God, and have been for 22 years. But emotionally I’ve been distanced from my husband for eight years since his abuse has escalated and behaviors have prevented and hindered intimacy of any kind. I stopped wearing my wedding ring years ago because emotionally I had disengaged from the marriage. At that time my husband was not even sleeping in our bed. It seemed a farce to wear a diamond when I felt like trash. (I do wear A ring on my finger to signal I am unavailable)

I’m faithful. I keep house and buy groceries (when he stoops low enough to honor me with the resources to do so). I prepare food for him to eat and wash his clothes. I take care of the children and I try to stay as far out of his way whenever and wherever possible and limit my communication to him to only what is most essential in managing our various calendars and the needs of the children.

That’s not a relationship. It isn’t. It’s more like a business transaction but with someone you don’t trust and don’t like.

It’s not  a marriage.

The hardest part is feeling like I am unworthy of being loved (after all that’s what he tells me). After listening to some single people talking about match.com I thought about how I cannot even look for love.

God has not seen fit to rescue me from my despair in spite of my prayers for rescue or release.

So I wait. I pray. I cry. I journal. I write and try to do trust God in His perfect timing for the end of this pain.

How about you? Is there anything you can’t do?

Lilly Grace

Do I Even Know How to Be Happy?

My therapist had pointed out that  the list of things I had been bringing in and reporting lately have all been generally good. My autoimmune disease is in remission. I’ve been offered a contract for my book. My kids are doing well.

I sat there later, at home, and thought: If things are going so good, how come I don’t feel happier? Do I even know how to be happy?

It’s a stupid question really. I do know and have experienced happiness and joy and the bliss and freedom of contentment in Christ when I have been in those “sweet spot” moments in ministry. But here? Now? When my marriage is still filled with control and abuse? When I have a title of a married woman but no relationship with a husband due to said abuses and his choices?

See, it seems WRONG to feel happy when that one major aspect of my life sucks.  It’s like a woolen cloak I have to carry around with me to remind myself how miserable I really am and should be. Like I deserve this. Like I’ve earned the right to be angry and miserable.

But why would I choose that? Isn’t that a bit twisted? God is doing great things. My dog makes me smile every time I come home and he so eagerly greets me. My children want hugs and to be with me. I have wonderful friends and a writing career on the brink of something fabulous. After years of hard work my body is healing itself in a rare and cool way.   I should be happy!

Being happy doesn’t alter the reality that still sucks. It doesn’t make my husband my best friend and lover. It means that in spite of that, I can still choose joy. I can make a choice to focus on the negative of which I can do nothing about and try to garner sympathy, which is twisted because out of respect for my husband (that he does not deserve) I cannot shout his abuses towards me from the mountaintops (or at least on Facebook!).

In spite of my husband I should choose happiness and to live there. In spite of him I should choose joy. Because GOD is my lover and provider and is always faithful, I should find my contentment in HIM in all things. Because God is working out GOOD things for me to bring glory to Him and in spite of the darkness of the backdrop of my marriage in which those things are placed – they illuminate His glory all the more!

So, right now. Today. I choose to smile. I choose to rejoice. Because I have a happy God. Because I have a GOD who delights in and loves me JUST AS I AM. Because He has done great things. How about you? Can YOU be happy? Maybe this song below will help. We have so much to be happy about in Jesus!

Blessings,

Lilly Grace

Happy Day – by FEE

 

Broken Promises

We get married and promise to love and honor and cherish. A man promises to provide and take care of his wife. To love her as Christ loves the church.

For many of us, that is not our reality.

Now to be sure, we fail as well as wives. We have our sinful tendencies and it is hard to humble oneself to apologize to a spouse who may use that against you in the future. At least that’s the way it is for me. But I apologize anyway.

Some have said I have a reason to divorce because of the broken marriage covenant. My spouse has abandoned the marriage bed (years ago) and treats me with derision and contempt and is financially and emotionally abusive (after 21 years of marriage he knows exactly where to strike).

And just when I think I’m doing well, satan will use my spouse to try to derail me from the ministry that God has called me to in the midst of my difficult circumstances.

See, my husband has broken the marriage covenant but that doesn’t necessitate divorce. I joked with one dear friend of mine that I was sold a false bill of goods on my wedding day and why isn’t there a lemon law for husbands? He led me to believe he would love, provide and care for me. But he has refused to do so.

Broken promises often negate a contract. But marriage is a covenant. And God shows in His word that many times when He has covenanted with his people – they have broken their end of the agreement. God has stayed faithful. Sometimes there have been consequences – but He has never abandoned the people He has called to Himself.

By extraction, as His child, He will never abandon me. That’s one of His promises. He will provide for me. And He has. He will be good even when I cannot see it or I feel pain. He never promises wealth or a life free of suffering. He promises to be with us always.

My spouse may not keep his promises but I am, with Christ’s help, trying to keep mine. I will treat him respect even when he as failed to earn that. He is an image bearer of God and for that alone He deserves to be treated with respect. And I want to model that for my kids. “Love your enemies” is hard when that “enemy” lives in your home.

I do all of this to honor Christ and HE has sustained me! He has provided. He has been faithful to His promises to me. He loves and cherishes me in ways my husband is unable or unwilling to do. I can entrust Him with the future of my marriage. He has blessed me with church leadership and dear safe friends to encourage me on the path as well. I often need Jesus with skin on – and just at that moment He has been there providing that.

Can you trust God to keep His promises to you? Will your life give testimony to that as you lean on Him in your struggles? I hope so!

Blessings,

LGB

My Deepest Need

We have an enemy and too often I forget that he coils like a snake, poised to strike when I least expect it.

And then the bite comes.

Always to my most vulnerable areas.

I need affirmation.  The attack will come on my worth and my abilities to do what God has called me to do.

I need love.  The attacks come in that being withheld and and venemous words are spewed forth that mean anything but love – only disrespect and disdain instead.

I need security. The attacks come in threats against my ability to stay in a house I love, or buy food we need, or take care of medical expenses that come up.

Why does this hurt so much? Because in my humanness I want these things from a man. I want these things from a husband. I want to know I’m loved and cherished and that somehow I will be provided for and that the things I do matter.  Even when I sometimes fail or have a bad day.

This is not my reality.

Sometimes I look for this elsewhere.  Friends?  But they all have their own needs too. And their responsibility is not as great as that of a person who has made promises before God and others.
How about those I minister with? Again, sometimes the strikes come from there as well. Friendly fire which sometimes comes as an arrow aimed to hurt but masked in pious language.

Chocolate? Oh, wait. That doesn’t quite work either.

So what’s a girl to do?

Cry.

Pray.

Seek to reorient myself to the One who made me, died for my sins and is ultimately responsible for my every breath. Ultimately I need to depend on Him. Why is this so hard?

David lamented as he hid in caves hunted by King Saul, separated from his wife and home and responsible for the care, safety and feeding of the men who were with him.

Similar to me shepherding my children while under attack.

But David, even though he was in sorrow and grief and wondering was able to comfort himself with the truth that God stored all his prayers in a bottle.  Every tear we cry is precious to our Heavenly Father. And then, in Psalm 56:9b he says: “This I know: God is for me.”

For me.  God is FOR me. Not against me like human sometimes are. He is FOR you too.

Love, security and affirmation. The holy, almighty, sovereign, eternal God of the universe – is FOR me.  He treasures my tears, how much more my life and basic needs?

Life is not going to get easier.  But if I can rest in the truth that a good and great God is FOR me, maybe I can make it through the day clinging to Him and not lamenting how those needs are not met elsewhere.  And trust Him for my next breath as well as where I will live and how I will feed my children in the months to come.

He has always been faithful. Always. I have no need to doubt that now.

So I will cry.

I will pray.

I will cling to Him.

How about you? What are your deepest needs?  Can you find your fulfillment of them in Jesus? If not, what’s keeping you from that? 

Redemption before Healing

The other day, I was able to encourage a young mom whose marriage is on the verge of divorce. It is amazing how many similarities her life challenges are to my own. She’s got some tough choices ahead, and if she chooses to stay that will be challening, but it can be done and done in a way that helps her grow in her faith and as a woman and a mom.

Last week I got a chance to encourage a woman with some health issues who just wants to be healthy. Since I’ve had a little journey with natural medicine and little money, I was able to point her in the direction of some inexpensive things to try to help improver her general health before she even steps into a doctor’s office. I’m not a doctor. I’m just someone who’s got an autoimmune disease who is on a journey. . . but she felt that in some ways, that was better because I wasn’t trying to sell her anything (I don’t sell supplements or get commissions on anything I told her about).

On a recent Sunday after church, I was able to sit and listen and then pray for another woman struggling in her marriage with a spouse who is not coming to church or walking with the Lord.

I’m not telling you this to brag about how great I am because I can help people. I’m only sharing to say this: Sometimes, even when we are in the midst of our own struggles, God can use that experience to help people just starting on that path. If we are leaning on God, and can offer hope and encouragement in the darkness and confusion of this world, God is redeeming our pain, while we are still in it, for HIS glory.

I can’t make promises to woman that their lives will be dramatically improved and they will have all their heart’s desire for their marriages or health. I cannot promise that life will get easier. I can only be honest and say that I still struggle but I’m still here, plugging along on the path God has me on, and trying to be faithful to Him with each step I take. I can also give a hug. Sometimes we need “Jesus with skin on.”

Sometimes I cry. Sometimes I want to give up. Sometimes I need others around me to lift me up in prayer as I struggle with the challenges and my courage fails. Sometimes I need someone to remind me, once again, that God is GOOD. That He will be good to me, and that He is forever faithful to His children. Sometimes when I am called upon to share those truths with someone else who is hurting – I am also speaking to myself.

What a relief that I do not have to “arrive” to be usable by God. That bruised and broken at times by circumstances and stresses of life, God can still be seen in me, and can still use me to help others along the path. It reminds me that none of us are there yet and God designed the body of Christ to help us support each other in the battles of the world and against the enemy our soul. What a sweet privilege. My heart grieves for those that hurt like I do, but I take comfort that I am not alone in my challenges and that somehow God uses it all to further His kingdom.

How about you? In what ways have you seen God using you recently in your areas of struggle – to minister to someone else? If you haven’t seen that happen, pray and ask Him to show you those opportunities. There is great joy in being used by Him to help another struggling soul as we walk this road called “life.”

Blessings,

LGB

A Faithful God

While I know that Thanksgiving is a great time to meditate on all God has done that we should be grateful for, I am seeking to find daily more and more ways to recognize and live in the light of His faithfulness to me.

There are a multitude of attributes that we can seek to praise and worship God for. One of the ones that seems core for me and foundational in my relationship with Him, is His faithfulness. It’s funny to me with years of singing, that when my son was born, the only song that I could remember in the middle of the night was “Great is Thy Faithfulness.”

Maybe it’s important to me because others around me have not been faithful to meet my emotional or even my physical needs. Yet God has repeatedly, through the years of my walking with Him, provided in amazing ways.

I am not always fond of His timing, like when it comes to checks arriving (or not) in the mail. It is humbling to admit that sometimes my emotions fluctuate with my bank balance. However, God doesn’t want my security to be in finances. As He continually leads and affirms my step into the world of writing, I am blown away by the words of affirmation He brings to me out of the blue. It is humbling to admit how easily discouraged I can be and how quickly the enemy can try to convince me that I have nothing worthwhile to bring to you, the reader. It’s only words and not very good ones at that, he will tell me.  Then someone will post a comment on a blog or my fan page or in an email that tells me that what I am doing IS making a difference – to them.  Or when loneliness overwhelms, and a friend calls or I get one of those priceless letters in the mail filled with affirmation. Or someone gives me a hug at church or thanks me for ministering to them when I didn’t even realize I had been doing.

This week something happened that surprised me. This fall I got a free tickets to three different events/conferences and somehow the money appeared for me to go.  My wi/fi on my laptop was repaired I won a contest through facebook that blew me away with the extravagance of God – toward me. Totally unnecessary – but the very fact that it was so out of the ordinary, reminded me again of God’s faithfulness.

I remember years ago studying the book of Ephesians at church. I have written in my Bible, at the beginning of that book that the word charis means “extravagant grace love.” It appears repeatedly throughout this book of the Bible.  Okay, Lilly, but I thought we were talking about faithfulness here? Stick with me.

For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, I do not cease to give thanks for you , remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might (Eph 1:15-19)

The word “grace” doesn’t appear in these verses – but can you hear it?  What can be more faithful than a God would give us knowledge of Himself?  To be honest, this verse is truncated. There is more before and after and I would encourage you to read the entire chapter and ask yourself – how does this tell me God loves me and is faithful to me?

Faithfulness is an expression of God’s extravagant grace love.  I am not always faithful. I can be self absorbed, angry, and at times doubt that God can and will come through for me.  Then I consider how God has saved me from my sin and how Christ has walked with me through so much throughout the years, and continues to do so even now.  When I see that God has sustained me and even been able to use me to serve Himself and minister to others, I’m blown away by His faithfulness to one such as I.  Extravagant grace love is shown with every unexpected gift, every word of affirmation, every day I find that I am alive and able to get up and care for my family.

I want to offer you today a taste of God’s faithfulness. If you go back and read that verse, imagine me praying this over you (because I have done so!). Where the “you” is bolded, insert your name.   I may not know your name – but God does. It’s a part of His faithfulness that He can transcend the computer technology and take this prayer from His word, and my heart – and birth extravagant grace love in your life.

Great is Your faithfulness, Oh God my Father!

There is no shadow of turning with You,

Thou changest not, Thy compassions they fail not,

Great is Your faithfulness, Lord unto me.

 

Blessings,

LGB