Posted by: Lisa Guyer | June 17, 2013

While I’m Waiting : More on “One Hope”

Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.

Ephesians 4:1-6

We have all been called to Wait in one way or another. Some of us are waiting on our spouses to turn back to the Lord. Some of us are waiting for an affair to end. Others of us are waiting on our own hearts to be softened. No matter what you are waiting on, God has called you to wherever you are. He has a plan.

While we are in His plan, He has called us to “walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” That’s a pretty high calling, for sure! It’s definitely not an easy calling.

One thing that the Spirit has shown me during my own times of waiting, is that my hope must be in Him, and Him alone. We talked about this briefly in the post before this one, but let’s take it a little further now. The last part of this passage in Ephesians says that we are “called in one hope of (our) calling.” One Hope. That hope must be put in Him, not in anything else. Our hope can’t be that our spouse will one day change. It can’t be in that our spouse’s affair might one day end. It can’t be in our children, our jobs, our money, or our home. It must be in Him. He is the only unchanging, unfailing Hope that we are offered. If you choose to put your hope in anything other than Him, your “hope” will fail you.

Unfortunately, this is not an idea that is widely accepted today. In fact, even in the “Christian” world, the idea is very prevalent that God is going to give us all of our “hopes and dreams”. Many Christians who are struggling in marriage put their hope in the idea that if they serve God and do their best to please Him, He will surely rescue their home and give them their marriage back. There is a popular song out right now called “Restore” by Chris August. For the most part, I love the message of the song. It’s all about how if you put Jesus in the middle of your marriage, that God will restore your home. I believe 100% that God must be in the middle of your marriage before your home will be able to be rebuilt. However, what happens to the wife (or husband) who wholeheartedly gives their heart to Him and surrenders all (life, marriage, desires, etc) to Him, but yet whose spouse refuses to do the same? Does God promise to restore that home? I can’t find that promise in scripture anywhere….no matter how much I want to find it. Instead, God promises us that He CAN save your home. He CAN fix every bit of it and He longs to. But he also knows what every parent knows. Just because our child wants something to work out, doesn’t mean that it’s best if it does. Every parent knows that missing a birthday party because of an action on the child’s part might be good for them to learn a lesson. God knows that we might need to suffer in our marriage for a while in order to truly grow in Him.

This is where our Hope comes in. If our hope is in our marriage being “restored” and it doesn’t get restored in a month or two, or even a year or two, then where is our hope now? Do we give up? Do we get discouraged? I sure would. However, if our hope is in Him who is moving to shape us and grow us, we will never be disappointed. We can always rest in the fact that He IS fulfilling His promises to us. He has never failed us yet, nor will He ever.

In contrast to the song “Restore”, I really like the lyrics to the song “Heal This Home” by Luminate.  I really believe that “Restore” has good thoughts and motives. I just challenge you to look at the differences between a mindset. One mindset says “Surely, God will save this.” Another says, “I trust fully that God CAN save this. I surrender my life to HIS will.”

I do hope that this post does not discourage you in any way that God may not save your home. I am one that has seen God do amazing things in homes that look like nothing can be salvaged. I have full faith that God can and will work incredible ways in your life if you surrender to Him. I also know, though, that those “incredible ways” may not appear in ways that we may think. They may not come in reconciled homes or mended hearts. Instead, they may appear in you personally learning self-denial and gaining a closer walk with him. I challenge you to change your perspective from an earthly one into a heavenly one. Focus your one Hope in Him and what He wants to do in your life, rather than what you expect Him to.

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.

Hebrews 1:1

Have faith that He is working and is in control.

If you have missed any of the previous posts in this “While I’m Waiting” series, go here to read them all.

Posted by: Lisa Guyer | April 17, 2013

While I’m Waiting : Resolved Contentment and One Hope

Do you remember the story of Hosea and Gomer in the Bible? Many people have no idea what this Old Testament book is about. I didn’t have a clue as to what the storyline was until after my affair. But now, because of my own sin and my own struggle to get out of the adultery, this book has meant Life to me. It puts the gospel story of the never failing love that God has for his people into terms that we, as everyday people, can relate to.

In short, Hosea is told by God to take an adulterous woman as his wife so that God can demonstrate how He is like a husband who continually goes back after his wayward wife (us-His redeemed people) in order to be reconciled with her. Hosea obeys and marries Gomer. Gomer proves to be faithful only to the name she has been called: adulterous. She leaves Hosea time and time again. Yet, over and over, he seeks her back out and does whatever he has to in order to bring her back home.

So what does all of this have to do with waiting, from our perspective? For me, I see two major points here. First, I see that Hosea has to have had an attitude of resolved contentment. He went into the marriage knowing full and well that Gomer would be unfaithful. It doesn’t seem that he goes into it with any ideas of “I can’t wait until she changes her heart and we have a good life together.” He is, instead, resolved to stay in the moment where God places him and to live out the will of God instead of his own. He’s resolved to do this even if it means that he is to live a life that is “unhappy” by most human standards. It may have seemed unfair to Hosea at times that he had to deal with a marriage like this, but he had no idea what God intended to do with his example and his story.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  Jeremiah 29:11 (emphasis mine)

When we look at our own marriages, we often think things like, “I can’t wait until things slow down and we aren’t so busy any more.” Or “I can’t wait until my husband begins to lead our family.” Or “As soon as he gets over his porn addiction, everything will get better.” God has really convicted me lately to stop looking forward to what I hope will happen. Yes, it may seem like life will be so much easier when we aren’t so busy. But, in all reality, when will that be? In an ideal world, where our husbands aren’t tempted by other women, where we aren’t overcome by worry and fear, where our time isn’t filled with everyday busy-ness, it would all be easier. But we don’t live in the Garden any more. We live in a fallen world where sin and struggles abound. In our waiting, we must find a way to be content in this moment that God has placed us in. If we are continually looking beyond to the day that our struggles will be lessened, we will miss the very moments that God has ordained for us. The very thing that may bring your husband home or the act of service that will give you true peace may be the very thing that you are overlooking because you “can’t wait” until it is over.

It’s recorded that Gomer and Hosea had at least 3 children during the time of Gomer’s promiscuity. In an average estimate, that’d be about 8-10 years of marriage. That’s a long time to wait for God to be working, especially if the only promise you have been given about your marriage is that your wife will most definitely be unfaithful repeatedly. What did Hosea have to look forward to? What hope did he have of ever having a decent life with his family?

This is where I think the second point comes in. The only way to be resolved to be content in the moment God has you in is to find your One Hope in Him. Paul reminds the Ephesians of this in Ephesians 4:4-6.

There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

We only have one true Hope. Our hope is Christ. Anything that we place our hope in other than Him, is a waste of time. If you are putting your hope in the fact that your husband might leave his affair and come home to you and the kids, your hope is in the wrong place. If you are hoping that one day your spouse will stop putting work before you, your hope is, again, in the wrong place. If you are spending every day, waiting on your husband or your circumstances or your life to change, your hope is not in Him. Instead, remind yourself that God is your Hope. He is unchanging and unfailing. Once you truly put your hope in only Him, you won’t be tossed and swayed by every action or inaction of your spouse. Your moods, your contentment, and your joy will no longer be dependent on your circumstances. They will be securely rooted in the One who doesn’t let us down.

Hosea lived his life with the purpose of fulfilling God’s will. He was resolved to go through whatever circumstances and trials he had to in order to glorify God. The only way he was able to do this was to put his Hope in who he knew God was and trust Him. Are you trusting Him now? Are you resolved to remain content while He is working out His greater plan?

If you have missed any of the previous posts in this “While I’m Waiting” series, go here to read them all.

Posted by: Lisa Guyer | April 2, 2013

While I’m Waiting : A Testimony of Forgiveness

Here is another testimony of a woman who has waited for years for her husband to lead their home. She has personally learned how to step down from leading their home, and also how to forgive continually. I believe many of you will be able to identify with so many of the emotions and thoughts that she describes going through, as I know I did.

My husband and I have been married for eight years. During that time we have gone through many trials including moving ten times, a prison sentence, affairs (both emotional and physical), addictions, death of close family members, poverty, lies, sleepless nights, children with ‘issues’… etc. Looking back on our time together the Lord saw fit to enlighten me to see a ‘bigger picture’ view of what has been happening through this time.

I was raised to be a man when I needed to be a man and a woman when it would get me further in life. I was raised to believe that men were stupid and incompetent. I didn’t ‘need’ a man; I only had one because I wanted one. I had no sense of the biblical idea of how a marriage should operate. With that being said, I was a nasty woman. Looking back I can tell you I was so stinking mean to my husband it makes me sick. I yelled, cussed, told my husband he was stupid, hit him at times and repeatedly told him we weren’t doing things his idiotic way. I beat him down physically, emotionally, and mentally. I belittled him until I was on top and he was so low he couldn’t go much further. Utterly controlling and proud to be, that was my way.

And the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself.

James 3:6

Then we met Christ. At the same time, Christ called us to Him. We found Him and little by little I started reading God’s word and understanding my place as a wife. With the help of books, friends, and older women who encouraged me, I understood what I needed to be doing: not leading. And so, the waiting began. Who was going to lead? I wasn’t. My husband didn’t know how, nor did he know I gave up my second job of being in command. I read once “it’s better to be done poorly by him, than well by you” – “Really??!?” I would think to myself. I did it though. I didn’t lead, I didn’t decide, I didn’t take over… I waited (not always patiently I should probably add).

Oh, during this timeframe I got angry and so frustrated because there was no leader. Things like the money being spent foolishly, or the electricity being shut off, or that we would need to move again were always happening; over and over again life would fall apart. God saw fit to feed, clothe and shelter us, His promises to us. 1 Timothy 6:8 If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content. I prayed and begged God for my husband to become the leader I wanted him to be… the leader God was calling him to be… right? Over and over again I would feel let down, discouraged and hopeless. I would hold in bitterness and contempt. Frustrations over my husband not leading were a daily occurrence. Until one day God laid on my heart that He was at work in my husband and that, if I wanted peace about our life, I needed to forgive my husband for any and all of my disappointments that I blamed him for… I would have to do this daily! Did my husband deserve it? No. But then, do I deserve to spend eternity in heaven with our creator? No. Jesus’ words (Matthew 6:14) reminded me that, if I want to be forgiven, I must forgive, not because he deserved the forgiveness, but because I didn’t. How many times should I forgive my husband? How many times do I want the Lord to forgive me? I surely don’t want to put a number on that one.

My forgiveness hasn’t always been true forgiveness. For the longest time my surface-level forgiveness looked like this: “I understand you didn’t mean to hurt me. I love you, and we will work through this”… on the inside it looked like this: “If I don’t forgive you, God won’t forgive me. Whatever; you are going to do whatever you want, and I have to just sit here and take it, no matter how much I hate it and you. I guess I have no choice; this is what God wants for me – to be with a stupid jerk”… As true as any of that may be, I don’t think God saw that as forgiveness… it is too self-centered. Nothing that was in my heart was forgiveness. It took time for me to realize that forgiveness takes effort and humility. It isn’t easy to forgive people sometimes, especially if they haven’t said they were sorry or even acknowledged the hurt. Sometimes my husband doesn’t even know he hurts me. It isn’t my job to tell him he hurt me and expect him to be sorry; it is my job to forgive him. Through this, my heart has (and is being) softened and over the years I have learned this: most of the time forgiveness comes in layers and cycles. Bitterness will come up and rear its ugly head anytime it wants, good times and bad times, but especially times I am not close to God. It’s how we choose to handle the hurt and pain when it surfaces that I think can lead us closer to God. I can either recognize that I will have to forgive this man every day for the rest of my life, and I will make a conscious effort to do so; or I can be prideful and think I deserve something when I don’t. I will turn to God, or I won’t. I have a choice in this. I have to humbly remember that my husband is probably in the process of forgiving me for my wrongs, just as I am him. Please, do not be so prideful to think you do not need to be forgiven. When the pain comes up inside from being hurt, I will pray to the Lord of all creation to help me not hold it over my husband’s head, belittle him and make him feel like anything less than God created him to be. I will turn to Father and ask for forgiveness both for my own unhappiness at the moment and for the fact that I wasn’t humble enough to realize that I don’t deserve anything.

It has taken years, not months or weeks like I thought it would, for my husband to start leading in some areas of our life. Others, I am still waiting. God has surely seen me through this process and continues to do so. I have had to wait on the Lord, serve my husband, submit to his authority and put all my trust in Jesus in order for my husband to start leading. I am not promised he will lead me well. I am not promised he will lead me today or tomorrow. I am promised that the One who created me will never leave or forsake me. So, I will continue to wait, continue to serve, continue to submit, continue to love, continue to forgive and continue to put my trust wholly in the One who created me.

Cari has just recently started her own blog about her journey through marriage, how she’s failed, and what she’s learned. She has an incredible story of perseverance through various trials. I would definitely encourage you to take a moment and read what she has written and then follow her blog to continue to get her updates as she adds more. 

Posted by: Lisa Guyer | March 29, 2013

While I’m Waiting : Continually Forgive

After taking a week and trying to physically serve your husband, what do you think? Was it easy? Was it a constant struggle to stay humble while serving him? I think some days can be easier than others. One way that I have found to make the waiting easier is to remember to continually forgive.

Many people believe that once you forgive someone of something you should just forget it and move on. That would be great if it were that easy. God is able to “remember our sins no more” (Hebrews 8:12). However, I don’t see it as being that easy for us as humans. Hurts and disappointments and betrayals tend to take us a while to heal from. Often times, we do more damage by forgiving once and then forcing ourselves to just “move on” without giving that hurt another thought. That’s not healing. That’s repressing.

Now, I’m in no way saying that you should allow your hurt to fester. Rather, I’m suggesting the exact opposite. Once you have been hurt, you must forgive. It’s commanded that if we want to be forgiven for anything that we’ve done wrong, we must also forgive (Matt 6:14). But once you do that, what do you do from there?

Look at John 8:1-11. This is the story of how Jesus was teaching a group of people when the Pharisees brought a woman caught in adultery to him for “judgement”.

They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.

But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.

I’ve read a commentary on this before that suggests that maybe Jesus went around the circle and wrote the sins of each of the accusers in the dirt in front of them. I have no idea if that was what actually happened but how humbling if it did! What if each man was reminded of the sin that he himself had committed recently?

At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”

“No one, sir,” she said.

“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

Jesus, again the one has every right to  condemn and accuse, chooses to forgive. But I also believe that he showed the other accusers a way to help them to learn to forgive.

“Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”

Every morning that you wake up, every moment that you have an interaction with your spouse, you have a choice. You can choose to be arrogant and forget your own sin. Or you can remember, in humility, that you are a sinner as well and, in turn, forgive them. Yes, the hurts and the consequences remain, but constantly making your spouse pay penance or feel guilty over their sin only discourages them more. Jesus simply said “Go now and leave your life of sin.” She felt guilty enough without Him needing to remind her.

When I was in my affair and the years afterwards, Derek made every effort to not make me feel guilty for what I was or had been doing. He never threw it back in my face that I was an adulterer and that I had abandoned him, even though I had. He humbly allowed the Holy Spirit to bring guilt to me as I needed it. But by not adding extra guilt, he also allowed the Spirit to bring encouragement and edification to me when that’s what I needed more.

If you struggle with making the moment by moment choice to forgive, I would challenge you to make a list of sins that you struggle with. Remind yourself that you are not perfect. You (and I) are a sinner (Romans 3:23). We must remember that fact before we attempt to condemn anyone else, especially our spouses.

I challenge you to make this list and to live in Christ’s forgiveness from those sins. But then do the same for your spouse. Allow them to live in His freedom as well. Constantly live the verse that says “Then neither do I condemn you…” and then step back and allow the Spirit to finish the verse by allowing Him alone to lead them out of their life of sin.

If you’ve missed any of the previous posts in this While I’m Waiting series, go here. And remember that you don’t have to be waiting on your spouse to come back from an affair. You could just be waiting on your husband to lead your home more. Or waiting on him to spend more time with the family. Every marriage goes through seasons of waiting. It’s what we do while we wait, that makes all of the difference.

Posted by: Lisa Guyer | March 25, 2013

While I’m Waiting: Serve

While I have been thinking about this post, I’ve been going back and forth trying to decide if this would make for an easy “assignment” or a hard one. I think while we are in an unhappy or discouraging marriage, almost any time of waiting is difficult. It’s hard to wait on the Lord and allow him to work. For some, learning to be still is a huge mountain to overcome. For others, its much easier to stay quiet and not saying anything than it is to humble yourself and say positive things to someone who you don’t feel deserves them. I think this post will be easier for many because it’s not necessarily an emotional task to undertake. It’s simply just serving.Yet, the only way to serve is to serve humbly. And we all know that humility is not always easy.

I know that when you are in a marriage that you are waiting on God to work, you may not always feel like serving. When you are lonely, feeling neglected, or hurt it’s rare that you want to go out of your way to make the other person feel loved and appreciated.

King David is a good example of this kind of serving in scripture. In 1 Samuel 15, King Saul is rejected by God as King over Israel. David is then secretly anointed as God’s chosen heir to the throne. He was now God’s chosen King. The one who had every God-appointed right to take over the throne. Yet, what did he do? 1 Samuel 16:19 said he went back to tending his father’s sheep. After that, he went into King Saul’s throne room and, without mention of his own anointing, humbly played soothing music for the king. Even after he kills Goliath and is even more respected, he practices being still about his rightful place on the throne. Saul does just about every terrible thing you could think of to David. He gives David’s wife away to another man, demotes him in the army, places him on the front lines of battle to be killed, and even tried to kill him himself! Even after all of this, David remains a humble servant to his king. He continually goes before the king to serve him by playing the harp. He fights battle after battle gaining more and more honor for king Saul and the nation of Israel. Finally, after Saul consistently makes it known that he wants David dead, David decides to run from Saul instead of fighting for his promised crown.

Doesn’t it sound like David is being walked all over and taken advantage of? Doesn’t it sound like he’s being weak? I sure think it sounds that way! Have you ever felt that way in your marriage? Do you ever feel like you have every right to stand up for yourself and tell your spouse the truth about what deserve? David sure had every right to stand up to King Saul and tell him the truth that God’s spirit had left Saul and been given to him! But David doesn’t do that. Even when he has multiple opportunities to kill King Saul and claim his kingdom, he doesn’t do it. He instead bows before the King and honors him. Again, sounds like he’s giving in and letting Saul use him as a door mat, doesn’t it?

It actually reminds me of another well-known story from the Bible. The story about the guy who is beaten and mocked and even killed. The King of Kings and Lord of Lords. The one who has every right to stand up and proclaim his rights, entitlements, and greatness. The one who had the power and “right” to call down 10,000 angels and destroy anyone who opposed him. But also the one who said…

For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.

Pretty humbling, huh? How often have we thought we were entitled to be treated a certain way. Or better yet, how often have we thought that another person did NOT deserve to be treated with absolute respect and love? What about your spouse? You know…the one that has been cheating on you in an affair. Or the one who works constantly and is never home to show you his love? What about the spouse who treats you poorly in every aspect? The very same spouse that you have been “waiting on” recently. Yet, “the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve…” The very One who was able to demand respect, asked for none. He just simply kept serving.

So, again, go back to  the spouse that you are waiting on. The one who you may not believe deserves special treatment or extra favors. How would Jesus have treated them in that moment? He would have served them. He would have served them in order to show His love. He asks us to do the very same thing. No matter if the other person “deserves” it or not. He wants us to serve.

Practically, what do I mean by serving? As far as your husband goes, find anything that would make his life a little happier or a little easier, and do it. Make him his favorite dinner. Make him a special plate of cookies and leave it on his seat in the car to find in the morning. Rub his feet after he gets home from work. Clean out the car. For some husbands, it may be beneficial for you to go so far as to break the traditional mold of “men’s work”, too. Mow the lawn for him. Take the trash to the curb before he gets around to it that evening. Shorten your “honey-do” list by doing some of it yourself. For other husbands, doing their “work” might actually be offensive and taken as you trying to control them. If you aren’t sure which one your husband is, Ask him! Just go to him and say, “If I could do 2 things for you today that would help take some pressure off of you, what would it be?” But beware, do NOT ask if you aren’t planning to follow through!

I know of one woman who would get up early (like 4:30a early!) every morning to make her husband’s lunch while he was getting ready to leave for work for the day. I know another woman who lays her husband’s work clothes out each night so he can just slip into them in the morning. If you didn’t read Connie’s story last week, go do that. She is a great example of physically serving your husband whether you want to or not.

Whatever it is, find a way to practically serve your husband today. Make the choice to humble yourself and serve as Jesus served. Oh, and also remember to Be Still while doing it. 🙂

To read all of the posts in the While I’m Waiting series, go here.

Posted by: Lisa Guyer | March 22, 2013

While I’m Waiting: A Testimony

This is the powerful testimony of a woman who waited 12 long years for her husband to come to God and for her home to be restored. This is her story of “waiting on God” by serving and actively doing things while she was waiting. I hope this encourages and renews you!

“Jim and I met in 1966. He was 25 I was 18. He was wild and so was I. When we met he had already been in and out of prison for about seven years, and was going back again for two years. We married in the prison six months later. Soon after I had our son. A few months later I miraculously came to Christ. Because of the prison term I didn’t live with my husband for another two and a half years. After being home a year he began a crime spree.

He deserted us over and over again. I had nowhere to turn except to God. No one knew where my mate was. Some of the time my heart would rage like a forest fire out of control on the dry and windy land. I would run and scream like a woman out of her mind searching for her mate in the raging fire. I’d scream curses at God only to faint from exhaustion and weep bitter tears of repentance. I’d get back up, begin running again and fall again and again until finally I’d surrender my will to Christ’s will. And then I’d wait, maybe for another six months, knowing God was in control.

In the beginning I thought about divorce. Well, wasn’t that what a woman does if her husband leaves her repeatedly? And yet Jim kept coming back and repenting. He would mysteriously end up at my back door after being missing for four or five months, looking like a mad man. But beneath the dirt and sun-parched face he was still mine.

I’d bring him in the house, give him dinner, and speak peace and rest to him. I’d run the bath water for him to wash and feel like a man again. Compassion would rise up in my heart. I had the Lord, and my Jim didn’t. I would reverence and praise him.

I would shut the door on the world and be alone with my mate. No matter what he had done to me, we were still one flesh. He was my first and only husband–a terrible, ungodly, unfaithful husband, but he was still my husband. His healing came again and again as I forgave him and opened my love to him. I held nothing back.

There would be times when putting dinner on the table, I’d notice he was awfully late. I’d listen for the car and begin running again and again to the window. The old familiar fear would rage, knowing that he had deserted me again. This scene happened about 30 times in the first twelve years of marriage. He would suddenly disappear without warning. The children would run in from play crying, “Where is daddy, where is my daddy?” I’d tell my little baby, Jimmy, “Daddy is sick, but Jesus is going to heal him.” I taught my little ones to pray, “Thank you, Jesus, for bringing my daddy home.”

His mother died and no one could find him. My prayers went out to God day and night, seemingly to no avail. The years went on and the crimes continued as if I had no God. I felt like a motherless and fatherless child. I was completely exhausted and my mate committed still another crime and went to prison for almost four years.

I loved him. I felt he was demon possessed and yet he was my husband. At times I hated him. Your arms and legs belong to you even when they hurt, you can’t cut them off. I was like this about my husband. He was mine. I hated it when he deserted me, but I was married to him no matter what. Adultery to me was the worst of all sins. At night before I entered my marriage bed alone I’d cry out to God to keep me pure, even in my dreams, and that I would never dream of another man.

Many mornings I’d wake up and think, “Lord, why did you give me another day to live?” Often the world seemed so black to me, but sweet Jesus would come to me and speak life and joy into my tired and depressed soul. One time God supernaturally took all my burdens away. I forgot he had left me. It was so hilarious. I even wrote myself a note to remember to pray for him.

The day-to-day message from the Lord was, “Now Connie, you just get up out of that bed. You straighten your shoulders and you believe God. This problem isn’t bigger than God. Don’t you prepare your day as though Jim won’t be home. You get up and prepare your home for a miracle.” Each evening when my husband was gone I’d fix supper for him and put his plate at the head of the table. No one was allowed to sit in his chair and no one was allowed to bad mouth him. I ran the house as if he were home.

I survived and lived on the Word of God. I whispered His name all day long. He walked with me in the valley of death and guided me to a straight path.

All our phone conversations at the prison were censored. I’d speak faith into the phone and say, “I’ll see you in a few days, honey. The guards thought we were planning an escape because Jim had been given a 10-year sentence!

People laughed at me and said that he would always leave me and be in and out of prison. The prison guards told me that Jim was institutionalized and was hopeless. Hopeless or not, he was my husband. I knew I could never forsake the Lord by not forgiving my own husband. Also, as a young wife I wanted to be a teacher of women when I got older and I knew I couldn’t be divorced. I’d sing, “Keep me Jesus as the apple of thine eye.”

The Lord would tell me to speak to the mountains in my life and not doubt in my heart. I would speak to the mountain, which was Jim. I would woo him and call him home with my prayers. Every muscle in my body cried out to God to save him. I fasted and prayed continuously.

Jim was healed in 1979. After he had been in prison for the last four years and home for about three months, he asked me to have another baby, our fourth. I was so fearful and yet was praying for Jim to be healed. I said No. I was not going to have another baby. I walked away from him and the Lord spoke to me. “Connie, He said, “You have come this far by faith. Don’t give up now.” After much heartache I obeyed the Lord my God.

“Yes,” I told Jim, I’ll have another baby for you.” I placed my future in his hands. When Jim saw that I still believed in his life as a human being something released within him. The fear left his eyes and He was delivered. He lifted his hands up to His Father and received the anointing of a sound and unfettered mind. He began to slowly give more and more of his life to Christ. He took over the bills and began to work steadily.

The Lord did exceedingly and abundantly more than I could ask or think. He gave me joy unspeakable. He showed me He was there all the time. Satan had come in like a flood but the Lord raised such a standard against him. All Satan did was build me a grand testimony.

God gave me a new batch of fruit. I had David in 1980, Dan in 1982 and Mary in 1985. We now have six children. I was queen in my palace. I raised the children for Christ and to honor their daddy. I taught them to jump when daddy walked into the room. I taught them to get Daddy a cup of coffee or honor him in some way.

The guys at work say to my husband, “You don’t go out and drink and party.” Jim says, “I have a wife to go home to. I spend my time with my family.”

One guy said, “Boy, when work is over you run home.” The guy thought something was wrong with him!

I sit here thinking of Jim and the man he is now. He has been home sitting at the head of our table for 20 years! Who is this Jesus we serve? Surely He is the Son of the living God, a God who saw me crying and feeling so forsaken, a God who knew the very moment Jim would be healed. Jim is my walking miracle to always remind me that nothing is impossible with God. He showed me that if we don’t give up we will see the glory of God.

Proverbs 31:11 says, “The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her.” A woman must gain the trust of a man such as this. His healing comes as he feels safe enough to give Christ his heart and his wife his heart. When Jim was healed he went from not seeing me to taking care of me. He turned from Satan and took dominion over his Eve. He came into his responsibilities as a man. I come under my husband and I don’t desire to do anything else. I don’t always agree with him and I tell him I don’t. But in the end his word is final. I want to be as Esther and not as Queen Vashti.

Dear wives and mothers, don’t give up give up on your husband. He sees your heartache. He won’t leave you or forsake you if you trust in Him. I know for I’ve been to the other side.”

(Connie Hultquist originally wrote her testimony out for her blog, HappyHousewifery. I found her story while reading an Above Rubies magazine I had received in the mail. She has written a book and other encouragements that she’s written on the subjects of keeping the home, gardening, children, etc on her site.)

To read all of the posts in the While I’m Waiting series, go here.

Posted by: Lisa Guyer | March 20, 2013

While I’m Waiting: Encourage Him

So how are you doing on being still? Pretty tough task, isn’t it? It’s definitely a difficult one for me at times. I have made many mistakes by allowing my tongue free range instead of just being still and allowing God to work. After some practice in this area, though, it does get easier. Your tongue will begin to heal (from all of the biting you are doing right now), and it will soon just become habit for you to let God be God instead of “helping” Him in his work.

Once you get the hang of being still, you can then move on to another practical suggestion that I have for you to do while you are waiting. This is one where you are able to be a lot more vocal about things! I would suggest that you find anything and everything positive that you can about your husband and begin building up those things in him.

Most men today are beat down and degraded by the women in their lives. Look at any American sitcom and you will see how men are viewed in today’s society. Look at shows like “Everybody Loves Raymond” or “Yes, Dear” or “King of Queens” (and those are the cleaner ones!). These shows portray an “ignorant” husband that the wife has to babysit, nag, and coddle in order for him to be worth anything. Men are not built up as the respected leaders in their homes that God has called them to be. Yet many women are aching for their husband to be the man of God that he was created to be in leading their home.

So what can you do while you are waiting for God to work in your husband’s life? First, continue to be still. Do not say anything negative about your husband and his abilities or lack of abilities. Rather, chose words that build him up. Strengthen him. Encourage him. Tell him that you believe in him. Most men just want to know that someone (namely their wife) believes that he can be or do what it is that he’s trying to do. He wants to know that if he takes the  vulnerable step of leading, that someone will follow. He wants to know that if he makes a decision, that someone will back him in that choice. He wants to know that he is someone who you can put your trust in.

So take  the step. Sit down somewhere quiet and write down everything that you can think of that is positive about your husband. Start with the easiest things and work your way deeper. Do you think he’s handsome? Is he strong and capable of working? Does he provide money or food for your family? What about emotionally for you? Does he listen well? Is he a good problem solver? Does he try to give you quiet time away from the kids? Then think spiritually. Does he lead your family at some points? Does he pray with you or the kids? Does he take you to meet with the church every week? Write down anything that comes to mind. Try not to allow any negative thoughts about what he isn’t doing to creep in. Stay focused on the positive.

At this point, I know I have to stop and address the question that has arisen many times in our counseling. “So what do I write down if I can’t find anything positive (or very little positive) about my husband?” I hate to hear of anyone being at this point, but trust me when I say that you are not alone. I’ve had many wives ask me this question. My answer? Go back to who God created your husband to be. God created him in His image (Gen. 1:27). He has been fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14). He also has the same access to God’s promises that you have. Romans 8:1 says that he doesn’t have to be condemned any more from his past. He has been set free. (Isaiah 61:1-2). Your husband probably would do well to be reminded of these passages and promises. However, here is the key to this step working: You must not just remind him of these promises, but tell your husband that you believe that these promises are true about HIM. Tell him that you believe that he is fearfully and wonderfully made. Tell him that you are excited to see God’s image stamped into him. Go to Jeremiah 29:11 and tell your husband that you are looking forward to seeing what God will do through him.

Once you have your list of positives that you see in your husband, write him a note encouraging him in those things. Tell him that you are thankful for the things he is doing for your family. Build him up for the steps he is taking. Tell him that you believe he can do great things because of who God created him to be. (If your husband is unwilling to hear these types of comments and doesn’t believe in God at all, then share them with God. Tell God that you believe in the husband He created and that you trust Him!) If you get started on your note and have trouble with any of it and would like some help, feel free to contact me. I’ll do my best to help talk you through taking this very important step in your waiting.

I will close with two simple ideas to keep in mind when you are doing this. Remember to be still. This is not a time for you to manipulate your hidden agenda into who you want your husband to be, but rather to build him up for who he already is or what God is doing in him. Secondly, keep your hope in God. I know when your marriage is rocky and falling apart, being positive about the other person isn’t always easy. But remember that you are putting your trust in God and what HE is capable of doing in both you and your husband.

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”

Ephesians 3:20-21

Posted by: Lisa Guyer | March 13, 2013

While I’m Waiting: Be Still

I wrote the other day about what it means to “wait” on God. Today, I want to offer the first of several practical ideas that I have on what you can be doing while you are waiting on God to work in your marriage.

Today, I suggest to you that you Be Still. When you’re looking for something proactive to do, “being still” may not be the first thing that comes to mind. I think that’s usually because it may seem like a lack of action rather than something for you to actively do. However, if you truly try to be still, I think you will see that it’s much more work than it seems.

We all know the verse that says “Be still, and know that I am God.” Yet, how often do we practically apply this to our marriages? Do you think that if you are quiet and don’t consistently draw attention to your husband’s bad decisions, he will think it’s okay and just continue in them? Do you feel like you need to help your husband to make certain decisions even though he’s asked you to allow him to do them? Are the words that you say to your husband ones that build him up and encourage him or are they words that show him your discouragement and frustration with him? Do you make small comments as a joke about how your husband forgot something at the store last night or how he didn’t take the trash out like he said he would? If any of these ring true with you, I would challenge you to the idea that you need to Be Still for your husband.

Let’s look at the second half of the verse, first. “Know that I am God.” I think so many times, we actually forget who God is and what He’s capable of. It seems that the longer we have to wait, the less capable God is. Has he forgotten me? Is my husband too stubborn for God to reach? Does God even want this to be different? Without my commentary, read these verses and “Know that I am God.”

“I am the LORD, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me?”

Jeremiah 32:27 (NIV)

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

“The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”

Psalm 34:18 (NIV)

“And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.”

Phillipians 4:19 (NIV)

Do you remember that God? Once you remember that God, and not the God that your discouragement tries to tell you about, it’s much easier to actually do the first part of the verse that says, “Be Still.”

Once you remember that God is greater than anything you are struggling with and that He is working out His plan for you, you can more easily surrender the reigns to Him and allow him time to work. Let me assure you of something…God does not need your help. He just doesn’t. He does not need you to make a single comment in order for your husband to know that what he did was the wrong thing. He doesn’t need you to say a word in order for your husband to feel the weight of his sin. He doesn’t need you to say anything. Period. So, be still. Stop making the comments that you think are “helping” God in His mission. In all reality, those very same words are probably driving your husband further away. He’s probably growing more and more resentful to you.

Instead of trying to be your husband’s holy spirit, be still and allow The Spirit to work in His life. You will be amazed at how much better He is at His job than you are.

Posted by: Lisa Guyer | March 7, 2013

While I’m Waiting

But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

Isaiah 40:31

This is such a well-known verse to many Christians today. We use it in order to encourage each other during hard times. It’s used as a reminder that God is going to see us through when we are hurting and going through trials. I have often gone back to this verse, myself, in order to hold on to that promise that He will lift me up and renew my strength.

However, a year or two ago, a friend of mine challenged my view of this verse. She suggested that the word “wait” wasn’t waiting like we think of it. She gave the example of a waitress. Waitresses usually don’t watch you come into the restaurant and wait for you to finish your meal, then after the meal is over expect a tip for just watching you eat. Instead, waitresses are rewarded for actively waiting ON you while you are eating. They take your order, bring you your food, refill your drinks, and bring you more napkins. They are consistently hovering, wanting to know if there’s anything else they can bring you. They are doers. They are servants.

I believe that this is exactly how God expects us to be as well. When he answers our prayers with a “wait”, he doesn’t expect us to just sit back until something big happens. He wants us to continue to serve, love and wait ON Him and those around us.

Many of you who may be reading this, may be waiting on your marriage to get better. You may be waiting on God to change your spouse’s heart. You may be waiting on God to change your own heart. In any circumstance, you are waiting. If you are anything like me, the waiting is driving you crazy. It’s so hard to surrender all control of a situation to Him, and then not have anything to do to help the situation. It’s at this point that I take the greatest consolation in verses like Isaiah 40:31. Not so much in the promise of God’s help, but rather in the call for me to go and DO something while I’m waiting.

So what is God calling you to DO while you are waiting right now? Who does he want you to serve? What does he want you to accomplish?

I have a series of practical suggestions that I hope to post over the coming days and weeks. I hope they will promote and encourage an active waiting inside of you. So, stay tuned. I’ll be back with more.

If you have suggestions, share them here. We all have a lot to learn about waiting on the Lord and I would love to hear your thoughts.

Posted by: Derek Guyer | February 15, 2013

Lifting Hearts and Burdens

Lost River Four Quartet Singing Valentines

Yesterday, I was blessed with an opportunity to do singing valentines in Bowling Green, KY with my local quartet for some really cool people. People hired us to bring a rose, a box of chocolates, and a song to someone they loved. I believe we sang a total of 28 valentines throughout the day. It was a day full of emotions for everyone involved.

On our way to one of the appointments, we read through the information we had been given and noticed that we were being asked to sing three songs. I immediately baulked and said, “They paid for one. We don’t know that many songs yet. They’re only going to get what they paid for.” (We’re a brand new quartet…as in a week old and know very little music as a group.)

When we pulled up, the wife who hired our quartet to sing to her husband walked us into the assisted living facility where here husband was living. As we walked in, she shared that he was having a rough day. It became clear as we were introduced to him that he was suffering from something like dementia or alzheimer’s disease. It was humbling to see his state and to think of my words as we drove to this stop.

You could tell everyone was excited to see us! We spent the next few minutes singing the only songs we knew to both he and his wife and a small audience that had gathered in the room to hear us and received a great response from all in the room.

Lost River Four singing valentines for a coupleBut, as we sang, I noticed that tears streamed down her face as she stroked his arm. Apparently he doesn’t remember her any more. But, she clearly knew he loved acapella singing and wanted him to have that for Valentine’s Day. As we approached them afterwards to thank them for having us, we noticed that both of them had been crying as he continually wiped tears from his own cheeks

It was a sobering reality for all four of us as we walked out together. While I saw some pretty funny and very romantic moments yesterday and enjoyed them all, this moment for me was the most special of all. I was reminded that life is short and fragile. We went on with our day, singing over and over again, but thoughts of that couple never left me.

The four of us had an opportunity to share our talents for the glory of God yesterday, and I’m thankful we did it. But, I guess I’m more impressed with the growing reality in me that the use of my talents has less to do with me and more to do with others. My talent, time, and efforts had an impact on one couple yesterday that may have only lasted for a short moment, but it helped. That moment of relief for them created in me a lasting impact.

Now, I would do anything to go back and learn another 50 songs so that we could keep singing to them. I would do anything to make sure my talents could lessen their pain and provide them with some love.

I think all of us need this reminder. We need to see the struggles of others. But, instead of comparing them to our own struggles, we need to simply lift those burdens. We need to ease that pain. We need to love that person. After all, that’s the core of God’s design for us.

“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”

Galatians 6:2 NIV

So, I’m going back to sing for that couple. I’m asking my quartet to join me, but my family is going for sure. I don’t care what we sing and, frankly, I don’t think they will either. I just want to lift that burden.

Find a burden. Lift it. God loves it.

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