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.

Sick in Modern Idolatry

Setting Captives Free, is an almost overwhelming resource – or better said – collection of resources. I was introduced to it by another woman struggling through her husband’s addiction to pornography. Little did I know that God intended to use it to address my lingering love of my eating disorder.

Setting Captives Free offers online courses that address sexual purity, eating disorders, substance abuse, gambling, Bible study, self-injury and more. Listing Bible study as a category seems a little deceiving because the entirety of each program is laced with Scripture and the conviction that Jesus Christ is the only source of freedom from these behaviors – more accurately – sins.

Within each category, there is a listing of 3-6 individual courses focused on that issue. Currently, I am studying In His Image.

The goal of this 60-lesson course is your complete and final freedom from anorexia and bulimia.

The course is written by Setting Captives Free founder, Michael Cleveland and Kim Schmidt, who writes from personal experience. Here is a link to Kim’s brief bio, but she shares many more details of her story throughout the course.

Personally, for years through many treatment programs and professionals I was taught that my eating disorder and battles with food and exercise addiction were a “disease,” implying that it was something that happened to me without my choice. Not really. Yes, Satan is our diabolical enemy who prowls about like a lion seeking to destroy God’s creation, especially those in His Image (humans.)

However, especially as one who knew Jesus long before I ever began to idolize food and exercise, my descent into this hell was nothing short of sin. Like ancient Israel, I walked away from a loving, all-powerful God, into the arms of a tangible “king.” I wanted a god I could control. In deeper self-evaluation, I discovered that the driving force behind my eating disorder was a desire to prove myself independent, needless – that I was not weak like others – I didn’t even need food. In essence I wanted to believe that I was my own god and self-sustaining.

What an ugly picture. God is using this study, In His Image, to burn away my dross. Praise Him that in the midst of my sin, I was no less saved by the blood and grace of His son, Jesus Christ in whom I believed. But I also praise Him that He would not allow me to spend the rest of my earthly life wallowing in pathetic worship of a false and powerless god.

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. 

1 Chronicles Prayer for Kids

I wrote this prayer actually for someone that I am mentoring. She is a wonderful mother and her desire is to grow as a godly mother and wife. She told me that sometimes prayer seems stale and redundant. I confess, I don’t have any good words on my own. Give me a piece of paper and I’ll write a good poem, but put me at the feet of the most AWESOME, GLORIOUS, SOVEREIGN, HOLY, MERCIFUL GOD and I’m tongue tied. So I told her that my greatest resource is the Bible. This prayer is composed mostly from 1 Chronicles chapters 17, 22, 28 and 29. I put [child’s name] but you could easily put your own or a friend’s or spouses.

Father,

Here I am, all of me before you. I don’t deserve your mercy, your attention, your compassion, your rescue. Who am I that you have been so good to me? All that you have done for me staggers me, and yet you tell me that I can’t even imagine all that you have in store for me. You have promised me a good heritage, a hope and a future. Thank you. There is no one like you, no God besides you.

So Lord, let your word be honored and come to full effect in my life and the lives of my children. Establish this home forever, a standard to your name and glory. Do as you have spoken. You, Father, have been pleased to bless this house. I am your servant. You have blessed us forever in Jesus.

Now [child’s name] the Lord will be with you. Because of Him you will succeed in all that you do – in building a life to the glory of His name. May the Lord grant you discretion and understanding, that you may keep the law of the Lord your God. Then you will prosper when you are careful to obey Him.

[Child’s name] I pray that you will know my God and serve Him with your whole heart and a willing mind. He searches the hearts and minds of everyone and knows every plan and intention. If you seek Him you will find Him.

So Father God, I bless you. You are our God, our Lord, our Father forever and ever. Yours is the majesty and power and glory and victory and greatness, for all that is in heaven and earth is yours. Riches and honor come from you and you rule over everything. You make great and give strength. I thank you and praise your glorious name.

In Jesus Name, Amen

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.

Who? Little Ol’ Me?

On Friday, I will tell you a little bit more about a Bible study that I’m taking at my church. But in speaking of Weakest Moments on Wednesday, I really wanted to share this.

The study I am taking is about marriage. I feel like I really stink at this marriage thing. My husband and I are so different. How do we talk to each other? He’s never home. How do I invest in US? So, I sheepishly enrolled in the study that I hoped would “fix” me. I was floored when after the first day of class, the co-teachers asked me to be a small group leader. I thought, if only they knew how messed up I am. If  they knew how many times I’ve danced on the edge of giving up, they would never ask me to lead. But, when I prayed about it, I felt the Holy Spirit nudge, so I agreed.

Much of the time, I have my radar of up for what I should be doing for God. I rarely feel satisfied with where I am. Surely there is some capacity that I am not filling.

I didn’t believe I was equipped to lead women in a marriage class; so I kept looking for something else. As I continue in prayer, I want to share some of what the Lord has been telling me. I hope you are encouraged in the vocation that He has given to you.

Abby,

Consider that I have lead you to here. I’m not ceasing to lead and guide you, but don’t you think I brought you HERE for a reason? Maybe I want to use you now, but you’re often so focused on whatever you are preparing to do. Whatever you think you SHOULD be doing for me.

Abby, choosing my way will not mean drastic change of direction or taking on something new. But learn to be interested  and invested in what I am doing in you today.

You have asked for ministry. You have been given the ministry of loving women, exposing their strengths, introducing them to relationship with me. Do not fear. Do not allow a false spirit of fear to lead you astray. You must follow, fear, listen to, serve and cling to me. I will do more than you can imagine or desire.

Do not be like Zechariah, whose voice I took for a time when he failed to believe in my power to conquer all human weakness.

I love you. Abba”