On Hiatus

Hi, all.

Thanks for taking the time to read my blog. Unfortunately, I’m stretched too thin right now to continue blogging regularly. I hope to start back soon … whatever God’s plan is.

God Sees the Good Guys

fathers-dayContinued from here.

This week, I’m responding to an excellent blog article entitled The Good Guys, written by my favorite blogger, Gary Thomas. I encourage you to read this article first.

The final point I’d like to focus on from Thomas’ article is this:

I do want to encourage the men who feel taken for granted and who often get lumped in with those who deserve censure: God sees your service and your sacrifice…For the good (not perfect) guys: thanks for your sacrifice.

I echo Thomas’ comment. Thank you to all of you good guys – the ones whose sacrifices seemingly go unnoticed. God sees you. He knows what you have done, are doing, and will continue to do. He knows the heavy price your sacrifices have cost you, even if nobody else in your life does.

I honor you this Father’s Day, whether or not you are a father. Fathers are so sorely needed in society. Did you know that the vast majority of people in prison grew up without a father? The one characteristic that the vast majority of inmates have in common is not race, religion (or lack of religion), gender, socio-economic class, or education level. It’s the lack of a meaningful relationship with a father!

Good guys – I know you are out there. I know because you are in my life. I see you. I see the sacrifices you make for the people in your life. I see you carry the weight of judgmental comments because of poor behavior by the bad guys out there. And yet, you continue on. You continue sacrificing, providing, protecting, and encouraging, even when it’s not appreciated. And what’s much more important – God sees it so much more than I or anyone else does. He sees all you do, and what you do matters. We need you – your wives, daughters, sons, mothers, fathers, friends, congregations, and neighbors. We all need you. Society needs you.

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up” (Gal. 6:9).

Thank you to all of you good guys. May God bless you this Father’s Day Weekend and always!

[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace mowing a lawn with the words, “Happy Father’s Day!” Courtesy Bitmoji.]


Extending Grace to the Good Guys

Continued from here.

This week, I’m responding to an excellent blog article entitled The Good Guys, written by my favorite blogger, Gary Thomas. I encourage you to read this article first.

Thomas said:

But can we do one post to celebrate the good husbands, the ones who heroically serve, authentically love, sincerely cherish, and sacrificially give to their wives and children? Can I do that without raising the anger of those who want to vent about how awful their husbands, boyfriends, bosses or pastors have been? The challenge in doing this is the simple fact that since every man has his compromises and conflicts, the question arises, how perfect does a man have to be to be celebrated?”

To me, Thomas’ question is really about grace. We all want justice for everyone else but mercy, or grace, for ourselves. We want those who have hurt us to pay for what they have done while, at the same time, want to experience God’s forgiveness, allowing Jesus to pay the penalty for the many ways that we have committed spiritual mutiny.

Thomas essentially asked why a man must be “perfect” before he can be celebrated for all he has done right. You’re not going to like the answer, Church: It’s because we, as a Church, are mired in the sin of unforgiveness. We cannot see past our own pain because we choose to continue to hold onto our ashes, even though the Bible clearly requires an exchange: God will give us a crown of beauty, but we must first release the ashes (see Is. 61:3).

I say this as a woman who has been deeply hurt by men. I was sex-trafficked as a child from ages 6-11, and rapes were not the only sin committed against me as a helpless little girl. I’ve seen and experienced firsthand just how cruel a man can be.

But you know what? I’ve also seen and experienced how kind a man can be. One man’s kindness drove him to a cross, where he paid the penalty for all of the time I spent (enjoying!) visualizing murdering my child abusers. Another kind man spent hundreds of hours guiding me through the healing process as my therapist. A third kind man stayed married to me for decades as my post-traumatic stress wreaked havoc on every aspect of our marriage. I wouldn’t have blamed him for leaving me, but he didn’t. Other kind men pastored me, changed my flat tires, opened my car doors after I locked the keys inside … and I could go on. Before I submitted to God’s instruction to forgive the bad guys, I was blinded to the numerous ways my life has been blessed and enriched by the good guys.

To be continued…

[Graphic: Cover of The Sacred Search: What If It’s Not about Who You Marry, But Why? Courtesy Amazon.]


Lumping the “Good Guys” in with the “Bad Guys”

Continued from here.

This week, I’m responding to an excellent blog article entitled The Good Guys, written by my favorite blogger, Gary Thomas. I encourage you to read this article first.

Thomas pointed out that there’s a valid reason why many women have a negative attitude about men:

I am surrounded by men who heroically serve, honor, respect, support and cherish their wives. But when I read Christian blogs and go on social media, I’m bombarded by how awful men are, how they are abusive, power-hungry, dismissive of those who prey on women, and misogynistic. I don’t doubt these stories; many of the readers of this blog have been deeply hurt by men in all those categories. I agree with the voices of many that there needs to be not just less tolerance but no tolerance for the way women have been mistreated by men. But for this one post, I’d like to highlight and pay deference to some of the good guys.”

I don’t like when people make assumptions about me because of what other people who share a characteristic with me have done. For example, I don’t like when people assume that I cannot handle a direct conversation because I am a woman or that I’m an intolerant bigot because I am a Christian. And as a survivor of child abuse and rapes, I really don’t like it when people make comments that someone who has been raped is “damaged goods,” likely to abuse others, or too broken to be healed. Yes, there are child abuse survivors who remained emotionally damaged for life and even a handful who go on to abuse children themselves, but that is NOT who I am!

I don’t like being judged by the negative traits of others in a group, so why do I tolerate this widespread lumping together of all men into the same category as those who exhibit the worst traits? After all, both my husband and son are “good guys,” so I know better. I know the quality man I married and the young man I have raised, and I certainly don’t want the world assuming these awful things about them. Thus, I’m joining Thomas in speaking out, using the same platform that he did.

To be continued…

[Graphic: Cover of Sacred Marriage: What If God Designed Marriage to Make Us Holy More Than to Make Us Happy? Courtesy Amazon.]


Double Standard in How Men versus Women are Treated

Continued from here.

This week, I’m responding to an excellent blog article entitled The Good Guys, written by my favorite blogger, Gary Thomas. I encourage you to read this article first.

Thomas pointed out that many “good guys” live with a double standard that most women fail to notice. As an example, Thomas’ article opened with his friend pointing out that when he returns from a trip, he’s expected to take an Uber home from the airport whereas when his wife returns from a trip, he’s expected to drive to the airport to pick her up. Thomas also noted the differences between how Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are treated, even within churches.

This Mother’s Day versus Father’s Day difference is something I had been pondering before reading this article because of a comment made in my Journey Group. I belong to the United Methodist Church, and my local church has reinstituted Class Meetings, but we have labeled them as Journey Groups because the members “journey together” as they grow their faith. I have been leading a Journey Group for couples since March, which has been a new experience for me. While I have been leading small groups through my church for 14 years, most have been for women. I’ve only recently been co-leading a coed Sunday School class. Leading a small group for couples as well as being in a small group as a couple is a new experience for me.

For the first 8 weeks, our Journey Group met weekly on Sunday afternoons. However, as summer rolled around, we realized that we needed to cut back to meeting every other week because of summer travel and holidays. It was a given that our Journey Group would not meet on Mother’s Day because all of the couples had big plans. Our senior pastor is retiring, and the big church celebration was scheduled for June 9, so we obviously were not going to meet on that day. I assumed we would have to skip two weeks because of June 16 being Father’s Day, but the men quickly jumped in and said that would not be necessary – that Father’s Day is quite different than Mother’s Day. Meeting as a group on Father’s Day wouldn’t interfere with anything.

All of these husbands are really great guys. They love their wives. They provide for their family. I jokingly call our Journey Group the “Reluctant Spouse” Journey Group because all of the husbands only committed because their wives asked them to. So, why was Mother’s Day so sacred that we needed to cancel the meeting and Father’s Day so unimportant that it was OK to meet on that holiday?

To be continued…

[Graphic: Cover of Cherish: The One Word That Changes Everything for Your Marriage. Courtesy Amazon.]

A Salute to the “Good Guys”

My favorite blogger, hands down, is Gary Thomas – author of several books on godly marriage, such as Loving Him Well: Practical Advice on Influencing Your Husband. I subscribe to his blog and read every blog entry he posts. If you have never read one of his blog entries, I hope you will change that today. His blog entries are much longer than mine, but he generally rolls them out weekly, so it all evens out.

While Gary Thomas’ blog entries typically address an aspect of marriage, the topics often transcend marriage, making them worth reading even if you are not married. He recently wrote a blog entry entitled The Good Guys, which I have been pondering since I read it, and it’s applicable to anyone with a man in your life, whether it’s a husband, father, son, friend, pastor, neighbor, or whatever. I encourage you to go read his excellent blog entry now. Don’t worry – I’ll wait. Click here.

Thomas’ blog article opened with the stories of three men who, in his words, “heroically serve, honor, respect, support and cherish their wives.” I’m married to a man like this – one of the “good guys.” He takes his responsibility of providing for his family seriously. He has given me many options for work throughout our 27-year marriage. I’ve had seasons of not working outside the home, both without and with a child. I’ve had seasons of working both part-time and full-time. I’ve had seasons of driving a ridiculously long commute by my own choice, and I’ve had seasons of what I call the “8 step commute” as I telecommuted from home. I’ve worked as a lawyer, a temp secretary, a program administrator, a technical writer, an instructional designer, an online college instructor, and an executive director in the nonprofit world. I’ve worked in jobs that paid well with great benefits and in jobs with low pay and no benefits. My career path over the last 27 years has been all over the map, mostly by my own choice.

What has enabled me to have the freedom to work or not work? To work long hours or only part-time? To change from one career option to another? I’m married to a man whose career path has not varied. He’s worked the same long hours in the same stressful career for 27 years, continually sacrificing for his family to give me these options. Thomas is right – there’s a double standard that favors wives, and yet far too many women fail to appreciate the sacrifices the men in their lives make for them.

To be continued…

[Graphic: Cover of Loving Him Well: Practical Advice on Influencing Your Husband. Courtesy Amazon.]


Obeying Whatever God Tells You to Do

Continued from here.

The final piece you need to know is that if you want to know God’s will, you must actually DO IT. God isn’t going to keep “speaking” to you unless you do what He tells you to do. As an example, let’s say my response to God’s invitation to lead a Bible study at a Christian transitional home was no. I am likely to find that God stops “speaking” to me until I obey.

Years ago, I told God that I was going to do X and wanted Him to bless this path. I felt conviction that this wasn’t His will, but I didn’t care and did it, anyhow. For one miserable year, I received no guidance from God. He did not begin “speaking” to me again until I obeyed Him by repenting of my rebellion and changing direction.

A primary purpose of God communicating with you is so you will know what His will is and do it. Per Priscilla Shirer in her book, Discerning the Voice of God: How to Recognize When God is Speaking, God wants to speak to you: Why would He die for you but then refuse to talk to you? However, if you aren’t going to do it, then what’s the point of Him “speaking” to you? So don’t bother asking Him what His will is unless you intend to actually do what He tells you to do.

If you will pay attention to “coincidences” that are collectively an invitation to join God where He is already at work, pray for wisdom and discernment, and confirm that what you are hearing is consistent with God’s Word and character, then you can step forth boldly, confident that you are indeed walking in God’s will. And then when obstacles arise, you can continue to move forward boldly, knowing that the enemy is going to try to stop your progress. Don’t let the enemy shake your confidence. He might make the path very rocky, but your God is in control, and His purposes will be accomplished. Walk boldly and courageously, mighty warrior. May you one day find yourself walking into the Hall of Faith!

[Graphic: Cover of Discerning the Voice of God: How to Recognize When God is Speaking. Courtesy Amazon.]


God’s Will is Bigger Than Your Role in It

Continued from here.

In his book, Experiencing God: Knowing and Doing the Will of God, Henry Blackaby made an interesting distinction that I had never before considered. He said that asking what God’s will is for your life is the wrong question. Instead, you need to ask what God’s will is and then join Him where He is already working. Blackaby says that God is always at work in the world around us. When we seek to do His will, He will open our eyes to an area where He is working. That is our invitation to join Him in His work.

For example, God’s will was not for Moses to lead His people out of slavery in that it wasn’t about Moses. Instead, God’s will was to free His people from slavery. God was already at work, and He invited Moses to join Him in this work. God had prepared Moses for the task, but if Moses had declined to join God where He was already working, then we would be reading about someone else instead of Moses.

The same dynamic holds true in the example I shared in my last blog entry about leading a Bible study at a Christian transitional home. God was already working at that home, and He opened my eyes to see His activity. That opening of my eyes was my invitation to join Him in that work. If I had declined, He would have invited someone else, and I would have missed out on an opportunity for which God had prepared me. Make no mistake – God’s activity does not hinge upon our participation. That being said, he chooses to partner with us in that activity, working through us to accomplish His will.

Thus, another way to know whether you are doing God’s will is simply to recognize that you have been invited to join Him where He is already working. This can unfold as a series of “coincidences,” as happened with me as God invited me to join Him in his work with the women at the Christian transitional home. When you feel a pull toward doing something that is consistent with His Word and that topic keeps arising – such as through words during your devotional time, a sermon, or something a Christian friend says, take notice! When God opens your eyes to where He is at work, that’s often an invitation to partner with Him.

To be continued…

[Graphic: Cover of Experiencing God: Knowing and Doing the Will of God, Revised and Expanded. Courtesy Amazon.]


God’s Will Comes with Confirmation

roger_thatContinued from here.

You have searched the Scriptures and feel confident that what you are feeling led to do is consistent with God’s Word and character. However, you still aren’t sure that God is specifically calling you to do it. Now what?

I pray for God to give me some sort of sign that I am to take action, which is consistent with God’s Word. I also tell God that I will do exactly as He is leading me to do: I’m simply asking for confirmation so I don’t embark upon a journey that falls outside of His will. The signs I have received have not been as dramatic as the confirmation that Gideon experienced, but I have seen God give some really obvious signs to other people. The signs of confirmation I receive are typically more subtle, but I have learned to recognize them.

Here’s a specific example: God led me to step down from leading a Bible study through my church that I started six years ago. I’ve missed leading a Bible study and felt a strong desire to lead another one, but I knew I needed to wait for God to show me when and where. I got a phone call from a woman who lives in a Christian transitional home, asking me to come to the thrift store that supports the ministry. While I was there, another woman from the transitional home asked to talk with me, and I felt strong compassion for her. Then, the conflict I had for attending a fundraiser for the transitional home was unexpectedly canceled. At the fundraiser, someone just happened to mention that the ministry had lost a teacher and that they needed a Bible study leader on Tuesday mornings. I had no question that God’s will was for me to fill that empty slot.

I have found that God’s will often makes no logical sense. I work on Tuesdays, so I had to shift my work hours around to free up my schedule. While I did have a strong desire to lead another Bible study, sometimes God’s will has me suddenly feeling a nudge to do something that I, quite frankly, would not typically want to do. A prime example is my sudden desire to work for a prison ministry when I had been resistant to prison ministry for most of my life. When I suddenly feel drawn to doing something that aligns with God’s Word and is something that I would not typically want to do, I know that’s God’s will.

To be continued…

[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace flying in a fighter plane under the words, “Roger that.” Courtesy Bitmoji.]