For an obvious reason
My heart is weighty with your praise.
Obvious as the icy rain that
hangs frozen in mid-air.
Obvious as the durable, quiet man upstairs
(between my sheets.)
Obvious as the smallish mongrel who insists
to share my seat.
Obvious as that blest morning aroma,
Perfume of homes worldwide.
My own tamed with milk,
thin brim of foam.
Obvious as its porcelain cup,
“I love you,” on its side.
Obvious as the three faint lamps
Lending softness as they provide
My eyes with visions of your word
And highlight pen to page.
So here I scrawl my meager words,
Slight as they may be.
To altar the obvious praises
Of my perfect, worthy King.

My heart overflows with a pleasing theme; I address my verses to the king; my tongue is like the pen of a ready scribe. Ps. 145:1b

She Loves Magazine

One of my greatest pleasures and honors is writing for SheLovesMagazine.

Regardless of individual issues, anorexia keeps all relationships at arm’s length. My heart screamed for my husband to love me, call me beautiful and scare away all my self-loathing. At the same time, my sharp hip bones, malnourished mood swings and amenorrhea told him I was unapproachable.

You can read more of this post here… Jesus Never Gave Up On Me

His and Hers Languages

5000 – 15000.

I wish that were a score. I WIN! Statistically, women use about 3x as many words each day as men do. So, when Patrick comes home having used 4500 words at work, it’s a dangerous situation if we miss-use those remaining 500 words. This post is about 500 words. That’s it, he’s done. As a woman, I have a role in drawing those words out of him. I’m chatting through a minefield if I chose to start a fight with 500 words to go.

That got me thinking about different interpretations of words. Marriage. To men, marriage generally means sexual fulfillment, admiration and an ego boost when they are seen with a beautiful woman on their arm. To a woman, marriage is a promise of affection, companionship and conversation. I am hard pressed to see how 500 words can untangle his misconception!

I checked out a men’s/women’s dictionary:

3. COMMUNICATION (ko-myoo-ni-kay-shon) n.
a. female…The open sharing of thoughts and feelings with one’s partner.
b. male…Scratching out a note before suddenly taking off for a weekend with the boys.

7. FLATULENCE (flach-u-lens) n.
a. female…An embarrassing by-product of digestion.
b. male…An endless source of entertainment, self-expression, and male bonding.

9. REMOTE CONTROL (ri-moht kon-trohl) n.
a. female…A device for changing from one TV channel to another.
b. male…A device for scanning through all 175 channels every 2 1/2 minutes.

A few of my own:

1. Called my folks:

a. female…At least a 15 minute conversation with my mom and solid recollection of the conversation

b. male…I called when I knew they wouldn’t be available, didn’t leave a message, but trusted caller ID

2. A Date:

a. female…somewhere, anywhere, outside of the house, preferably involving conversation

b. male…ordering take-out

3. Clean up:

a. female…involves a vacuum, a sponge, disinfectant and results in an obvious change of appearance

b. male…move some item from one place to another, perhaps the trashcan

I hope you didn’t detect too much bias in my definitions.

I don’t think there’s much we can do to integrate these two languages. Even professional linguists don’t try to consolidate languages, but instead, painstakingly translate one into another. Slowly, if we’re lucky, our common phrases will seep into the other’s vernacular and we’ll develop our own, “marriage slang,” a hybrid form of communication that the two of us can use at home.

Special care must be taken when talking to or about our spouses in public. Occasions when we are in the presence of others require an extra measure of patience, attentiveness and understanding.

Since we cannot hope to reconcile our language differences, the simple and only solution is to be aware of them and make accommodations for them.

“Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.” Proverbs 18:21

Fly Your Flag Proudly

The Flag Page is your chance to see how you succeed in life, what motivates you and what makes you different from the people close to you.

It’s not a personality test, an aptitude test or an evaluation of your love language. It’s about what motivates you, what makes you tick. The final DVD in the Laugh Your Way To A Better Marriage seminar is an introduction to the Flag Page. Think of it as the banner that flies over your life. Historically, in battle, the colors are the motivation and the rallying point for soldiers. Your “flag” is that for your own life. In the “battles” of marriage, the conundrums of work, the daily complexities of life, what keeps you plugging on? What are you ultimately striving for? What, when you see this accomplished, allows you to sit back and sigh with satisfaction?

Prepare to hardly recognize yourself. When I clicked the last little box and my flag appeared on the computer screen, I felt like a foreigner to learn that I am from the “Fun Country.” I’m not especially humorous, I’m certainly not witty, comedy is not my forte. But, when I think about what motivates me, what my end game is – I want to make people happy. I love, love to please people. At the end of the day, if those around me have had fun, felt love, found joy, then I am deeply satisfied.

Patrick, as it turns out is from the “Peace Country.” That surprised me too. His talents are leadership, he’s hard as nails, his very career thrives on conflict, for crying out loud. But, when I look at what motivates him – truly, his greatest joy is to keep the peace. He is overwhelmed by chaos. What motivates him through a tough day is the promise of his comfy chair at home, escape from conflict, simplicity.

Yes, love languages are important and doubtless it is interesting to understand your spouse’s personality. But, I now realize how important it is to understand what motivates my husband. Obviously, a marriage is give and take. It’s leaning toward your spouse, working to please them, expressing your needs and sacrificing to meet the needs of your spouse. If you know what motivates your mate, then you can more easily to persuade them to come toward you and you can more willingly meet their needs.

I also found great joy in learning my own country. I was surprised to discover my native country, but thrilled to see more clearly why I do the things I do. I suddenly have an ever deeper craving to bring joy to others. I have a renewed energy to do what I was made to do, which in turn brings me even more fulfillment.

Go figure. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander. What’s good for the spouse is good for the marriage.

TaDA! Another Year Down, One Closer to Christ’s Return!

Oh Friends,

What I precious time I’ve had getting to know you this year. And what generous readers you are to put up with my chatter, my learning, my sharing, and doubtless, my typos!

There’s one more day this year. Today, the 30th, Patrick and I are setting off for Oklahoma. We’ll spend a few days with his family and then travel to Kansas to spend sometime with my parents. The sad part is that my sisters were in KS for Christmas, and by the time I get there, they will have returned to TX and jobs and family life. I will arrive in the wake of some real excitement though…

JORDAN JUST PROPOSED TO RACHELLE!! My next planned trip to the midwest will hopefully their wedding! There is no way to express my joy that Jordan will now be my brother (I’ve accidentally been calling him that for quite a while now). And no one, I mean no one, is God more happy to bless than Rachelle. Her heart for Jesus and desire to love those He loves is unparalleled.

Obviously, Christmas will have passed. But Patrick and I will arrive in Oklahoma in time to take in OSU’s bowl game. We’re going to go to old stomping grounds, Eskimo Joe’s, (where we feel really old) to watch the game. Hopefully, some friends will join us.

So, on to business. January. If you had asked me 15 years ago if I expected to see 2012, I would have said no. I didn’t believe I would live that long. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to live that long. Thank the Lord that He doesn’t ask us for our opinion on His sovereign plans. To this end, I have been asked to review Simple Steps. I can’t tell you much yet, except that it is a UK website aiming to help those suffering from eating disorders. We’ll discover this treasure together as I review it for a week in January.

Also, I have joined a book review program with Moody Publishers. I will be reading, reviewing and giving away a copy of one of their books each month (Lord willing) starting in January. That will take a week of our time together as well. As you know, I am a Moody disciple – devouring everything from their radio programs to their books, to their Bible studies, to their continuing education courses to…I’m sure I have yet to discover all they have to offer.

That only covers 2 weeks of January. I trust that God will continue to teach me about Himself- the very Truth Himself. I promise to share everything with you so that together we can combat the enemy of our souls. For one week, I will delve into the truth that God has been teaching me about men. Now that could get interesting! The truth about our differences, the joy in those differences and certainly the pain. I’ll include stories, juicy ones sometimes using my marriage as a case study. Finally, I will offer related resources.

And the fourth week… NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS.  I don’t make them. Enough said??

Give Yourself the Gift of Hope

God has recently placed me in a new circle of friends. Our relationship began as I found myself in a new deeper pit of pain than I have known before or am equipped to handle. Now, as I step farther and farther out onto stable ground, pulled by their loving hands, I am being given the opportunity to help them and to share that same love and outreach with others who are mired in my same pit of despair.

A Woman’s Healing Journey, along with the resources they offer including counseling, group counseling, books, 12 step groups and prayer has in no uncertain terms saved my marriage, my sanity and my self-respect. Please, please, if you are dealing with the agony of a spouse’s betrayal, go to their website, contact them, let someone help you.

Here’s a bit of news from our Christmas Letter. Be encouraged.

Dear Friends,

As we celebrate this Christmas season, our thoughts and prayers include you. We are deeply aware that for many of you, 2011 has been a year of extreme heartache and loss. Yet for some, there have also been newfound treasures buried in your “trauma chest:” a more meaningful relationship with God; a re-discovery of yourself, as an individual; or a more intimate connection with your husband because, for the first time, you know everything there is to know about him and he’s finally opening his heart to you.

But wherever you are in your healing Journey, we want you to know that we care, and we are working to meet your needs for healing. We’ve rewritten the Partner’s Healing Journey workbook, and the brand new version, Journey to Healing & Joy, is now available in a beautifiul new format. It is the only workbook for partners of sexual addicts that incorporates both the trauma model and the Life Model to help you heal and learn how to keep your “joy cup” full, with or without a man in your life.

And we’ve added new groups to help you continue to heal and grow:
Coach Sarah now facilitates a 52 week a year drop-in Prayer & Share time for ministry wives whose husbands struggle with sexual addiction
Coach Debbie now facilitates non-traditional, Christ-centered 12 step groups
Coach Keisha, who lives abroad, now provides support for women in Europe, Asia, Africa, Austrailia, New Zealand, and parts of Polynesia
Pastor Steve has joined us and now facilitates Life Model groups for recovering men whose unresolved trauma still blocks their ability to emotionally connect with others, including their wives, at a heart-to-heart level
Coach Jodi, now trained and very skilled at Immanuel Processing, facilitates Immanuel Processing sessions with individuals and groups to enable them to heal unresolved trauma
And Coach Christy, Coach Sarah, and Marsha continue to facilitate groups for new women on this side of the world using the new Journey to Healing & Joy workbook.
And Abby has joined us as a volunteer networker, grant writer, and public relations wonder. She is a true gift from God!
From all of us to all of you, may this Christmas season bring new awareness that our God came not as a ruler, but as a baby, laid in a manger, so that he might walk among us and die for our transgressions so we can know forgiveness, new hope, new joy, and new life with him forever.

Merry Christmas,

Sarah, Debbie, Keisha, Christy, Jodi, Steve & Marsha


Using A Broken Body and Bloody Heart

I am so broken. In many ways, I feel like I need to set myself on a shelf somewhere in the corner of life and wait until I’ve healed. Once my cracks are glued together, my bruises faded and I look presentable again – then, then I can serve. Surely God has no use for a weepy, tattered Christian. Surely God has more dynamic, charismatic individuals who can make a deeper, splashier, more memorable impact on the world.

My marriage stings, my ego smarts. I wrestle with compulsions, pride, addictions, envy, loneliness, fear and a myriad other maladies that may not be obvious this very minute. Due to my foibles, I was stunned and not a little nervous when God began calling me.

Recently, I finished a round of group therapy for wounded spouses. It was a conference call setting. I have only met one of the three women that I shared with over those 12 weeks. Each one of us has similar stories. We have each experienced similar offenses. Each one of us felt impotent, needy and unqualified to handle our own pain, much less minister to the needs of anyone else. That’s where God surprised us.

The group moderator wisely guided our conversations using provocative questions and homework. Then, she used us to teach each other.

“D,” how would you advise Abby in this situation?

Quite honestly, when the group began, I listed to D and J tell the summary of their stories. Not in a million years did I think I would learn from them – they were just as broken as I was!

At the same time, I began taking a Bible study at church called, Enhancing Your Marriage. My first impulse was to keep my head down and avoid having to admit the fragility of my marriage. Two days after our first class, the group leader called me and asked if I would facilitate a small group. The Holy Spirit insisted that I should accept the responsibility.

I met the six other women the following week, and discovered that their individual relationships were thriving compared to my own. Then the Holy Spirit began to insist that I share my vulnerabilities, my weaknesses, my pain and His sustaining grace in the midst of it all. I hope that I have been of some encouragement to the other girls, but certainly their responses to my role as small group leader have challenged and graced me.

That’s what God does. He pares us down, whittles us and refines us until we feel like there is nothing left. When we are at our weakest, then He places us in the most strategic places.

Remember the simplest definition of a mentor is “advisor.” Verbally, I am in no place to offer advise to any other broken human being. But perhaps, when I am weakest – willing to shut my own mouth – God admonishes and encourages His people through me. Praise the Lord!

P.S. If your own marriage is struggling due to the offense of a spouse, there is hope. There is tomorrow, there is grace and a future and a hope. If you need help, please consider this resource: A Woman’s Healing Journey. 

The Flip-side of Mentorship

I stumbled across two of my most precious mentors entirely by accident. In fact, I was supposed to assisting them.

Nanny was approaching 90, and she lived with her 70+ year-old daughter, Katherine. Make no mistake – Katherine was and is completely capable of absolutely anything. In her multi-facted role of grandma, sister, housekeeper, mother, caring daughter, community volunteer, active church member and widow, she never dropped a ball. Not a crumb landed on her polished floor. Not a dog hair lingered on her couch. Her lawn was never too long.

But Nanny was approaching 90 and her health was supposed to be failing. Hospice entered the picture and began to send a nurse out a couple times per week to help with bathing, medication, etc. And I was a hospice volunteer, assigned to Nanny for companionship and to stay with her occasionally for Katherine to have a few hours off. That never happened.

Once or twice, I “kidnapped” Nanny, and we would get a pedicure or go to the mall or drive around old-town Columbus and she would tell me stories of growing up in the old south. Then, we would come home, hoping that Katherine had taken a nap or read a book, only to find that every single time she put herself to another task. Katherine cooked for her whole extended family, managed her children’s finances, raised her granddaughter, spoke at church, volunteered in the community, and cared for her dying brother. Never, never, never did I see her relax. Never, never, never did I hear her complain.

On many occasions, Nanny and I simply sat outside on the back porch with her dachshund, Prissy, and thumbed through old photo albums. Sometimes, Katherine would pour a rich glass of southern-sweet tea and join us. Katherine was bold about her love for Jesus, and so was Nanny. In fact, the first time I met them, Nanny told me, “Don’t expect to visit me for too long, I hope Jesus calls me home soon!”

The love in Katherine and Nanny’s home met every visitor at the door. It swept me up and carried me inside. Katherine imparted wisdom to me incidentally. In her I saw diligence, commitment, sacrifice, service, boldness and hope. Katherine proof read some of my articles and offered godly criticism.

Nanny taught me about marriage in the stories of her deceased husband. She had married at the age of 15-16. A girl can hardly have determined her love interests by that age, but Nanny had determined her commitment before the Lord. She told me of discovering their differences and similarities.

During this time, I was slipping back into an old, destructive habit of compulsive, excessive exercise. No one I knew called me on it. None of my running buddies mentioned my obsession. None of my family lived close enough to see the decline. No one seemed concerned that I was losing weight. No one but Katherine and Nanny. Suddenly, my weekly visit to care for their needs flipped to a weekly accountability check-up.

I doubt that I was as good for Nanny and Katherine as they were for me. But God was good, and before I moved, hospice had to drop Nanny because she was no longer declining.

Sorry, Nanny. God continues to share you with us one day at a time! But I am confident, that when you do go home both you and Katherine will be rewarded as a “good and faithful servants.”

Left and Lost

You left me years ago.

My heart tried to tell me so.

Cruelly you lied and told me no.

I wondered why we failed to grow.

Like a withered flower still in the ground,

An ancient stump, its circles round.

Counting the years it tried to survive,

Counting the years it looked alive.

But yielded no fruit,

Nothing to show.

I know now why we failed to grow.

Because you left me years ago.

My heart, it tried to tell me so.

But you just lied and told me no.

Now, I’m wondering where to go.