Courageous Hope

Any area of your life that does not glisten with hope is under the influence of a lie.

All things new July 28, 2013

He makes all things new

So this weekend I shared a couple funny (but not really funny) stories of the darker, uglier days of our marriage with some friends. Later as I thought about it I released a big sigh of relief and gratitude. Grateful for how God redeems. How he takes us out of the pit and puts our feet on the high places. And today as I worshipped I was reminded again of how He makes all things new.  God doesn’t just take our broken and marred places and fix them up pretty, he does not only repair what is broken but he delights in making things new again. There are still places where our marriage needs to be made new again, where I need to be made new again. But thankfully I live in a kingdom where the King’s business is making all things new.

 

“When he announces the full coming of the kingdom, Jesus says, ‘Look, I am making all things new!’ (Rev. 21:5) He does not say, ‘I am making all new things.’ He means that the things that have been so badly broken will be restored and then some.” – John Eldredge

 

Jesus is not content with merely putting a bandaid or cast on our brokenness. He longs to do the deep work of making us new.

I have a friend whose favorite prayer is “Jesus fix it.”  A prayer I love and pray too. But the prayer burning in my heart today is “Jesus make it new again!”

If you are in a marriage that is broken or a family situation, or a life situation that needs healing….today is the day of salvation, today is the day where Jesus doesn’t only want to fix it…He longs to make it new!

 

Love me. Say that you love me. Fool me. Go on and Fool Me. July 16, 2013

Filed under: Beauty,Commercial Sexual Exploitation,Sex,Uncategorized,Women's Issues — Shayla @ Courageous Hope @ 10:40 pm
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Continuing the discussion on beauty, some excerpts from my past project:

 

Human beings are motivated by our needs. Maslow in his hierarchy of needs is adamant about our need for love, belongingness and acceptance, which is placed right in the middle of his hierarchy. Central to our essence is the need to feel accepted and loved.  For some reason most young women will interpret that need as the need to be loved by a man which for some reason equals physical intimacy with a man. As the saying goes, “men give love to get sex and women give sex to get love”.  As I discussed in my last post, faux beauty is directly related to being sexy. The lie is believed that in order to fulfill her need for intimacy a woman must attract a man. In order to gain the intimacy she needs a woman must be beautiful and or sexually desirable. Marketers prey upon this need knowing that we are motivated by our needs, and that until that need is fulfilled we will do anything without regard to cost to get it. So a young woman will buy into the make-up, the creams, the diets, the clothes all the right things that will make her sexier, to get her the acceptance and love she needs.

 

Many of the females on TV and in the movies seem to be primarily concerned with their sex lives, portraying that a young woman’s strength lies in being a sexual predator. In order to be a sexual predator she must be beautiful and seductive. Magazines are continuously containing articles that lead girls to believe that enticing a male is her number one objective. Almost every magazine contains sections devoted to the mystery of men. Seventeen, the most popular magazine for female respondents of my survey (taken for my project in 2000), has an average of nine articles on the opposite sex and Cosmopolitan, the 3rd most popular, had a recent cover story “How to Touch a Naked Man.”

 

The need for intimacy with a man in and of itself is not a bad thing. It is when young women feel the need to be attractive to all men. Consequently, the only way to be consistently beautiful in the eyes of multiple partners is to drape one’s self in an interchangeable, societal definition of faux beauty.

 

I believe woman is the crown of creation. I believe we were the icing on the cake of God’s creation and that we are beauty. That it is our divine essence to be the beauty. So desiring to be this beauty is fulfilling our design. But since the enemy is out to destroy the beauty, and deception and distortion are his favorite subtle lies, what our culture has been brainwashed to believe is beauty is actually not beauty.

 

Adolescent females who long to feel beautiful and be accepted, may turn to the arms of a young man and allow physical intimacy to progress beyond what they are comfortable with in order to gain more approval. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, several thousand women who first had intercourse between the age of 15 and 24 were asked to rate the “wantedness” of the experience. The results: Almost one in ten said the sex was “non-voluntary.” The younger a woman was when she lost her virginity, the less likely she was to have wanted the experience. One quarter of all women who describe their first sex as voluntary nonetheless rated it low on the “wantedness” scale, suggesting that even when women are not forced into intercourse, many are having sex they don’t want.

 

My hypothesis is that in many cases this is the result of girls thinking they become more appealing to their boyfriends if they have sex with him. Young women have confided this truth to me before, feeling their worth depends on their sex appeal to the boy they are interested in. Contrastively, some females admit to me that this idea is ludicrous, boys are “stupid” and that they refuse to give them sex. Not all girls are this strong however, and some still fall into the trap of sexual activity, thinking it will increase their confidence. In reality, it tragically damages their feelings of worth.

 

The young women seen in movies are often desirable and sexy and the center of attention.  A young girl whose cleavage hasn’t even developed yet sees that and wonders if her breasts will have that seductive power. She wonders, “Will I be desirable? Will the boys want me the way they want that beautiful woman in the movie?”.  Often young women are more attracted to idea of the boy liking her than the reality of who the boy is.  A young woman wants to be told she is the most beautiful, desirable, amazing smart, sexy woman on the planet.  To be in essence “chosen”, made beautiful and whole.

 

What she often doesn’t know is that she already has been chosen, made beautiful and whole…by the Lover of her soul.

 

She needs to know.

 

 

9 Lessons from 9 years of marriage April 7, 2011

The kiss at our vow renewal.

Nine years ago today my husband and I got married. I would love to tell you it has all been complete bliss just like the movies and fairy tales but I would be lying. I know some people have an easier time at marriage. We were not those people. Marriage was very hard for us for a long time. I have so much hope for hurting marriages because of what God has brought our marriage out of.

 

The day we got married was a spectacular day.  Aside from the florist getting the flowers wrong and a few minor things, the wedding went off without a hitch, the weather was glorious and it was the best wedding I’ve ever been too J.  But bigger than all of that I can say that God showed up at our wedding. We truly felt something much bigger than ourselves was happening that day.

 

The day I got married I thought I had all the tools I needed for success. I was 24 years old when I got married and I had a college degree, I had studied marriage and family courses at THE Focus on the Family Institute of all places. I had studied under John Eldredge and been mentored under his counseling for a semester. I understood so much about how marriage was supposed to be, about the heart of a woman and the heart of a man. We were the “it” couple destined for great things.  We did things right and waited for marriage. And our wedding was a glorious picture of all of that.

 

We wrote our own vows and they were long and glorious and we meant every word. My great Uncle Bob commented at the reception…”Wow that was quite a lot you were vowing to!” We laughed thinking oh he just doesn’t get it, that’s the kind of marriage we want, (he must not have read Wild At Heart!).  Oh but Uncle Bob had been married for a crazy long time and he knew so much more than we did :-) .

 

About three months after that glorious day we began to fall flat on our face and it only spiraled downward from there.  It was not 100 percent awful, but there were many very dark days.  One of the craziest things about our marriage troubles was that hardly anyone knew anything about them. For years we told no one. Until it became too much to bear and God brought the right listeners.

 

I think no one knew but if I’m honest we were probably giving it away without telling anyone.  I was so hurt and angry over how things were turning out that I was a bitter and angry person and you could hear it in my voice, especially when I spoke to my husband. I shudder when I think about it now.

 

The word “divorce” may not have been in our vocabulary but it was in our thoughts. We felt so stuck. All we were hoping for was to just not be so miserable!

 

We had no idea what God had in store for us. We could not have known the transformation He would bring.  We had no idea how good it could be for us, yes even us!  I cannot even believe how good things are now in my marriage. If you had told me that things would be like this in my marriage back in those dark days, I never would have believed you. Never.

 

One year ago on our eighth wedding anniversary we renewed our vows. We decided to commit those same crazy long vows to each other all over again, but as the new people we had become. This time we knew what we were vowing to, and how hard it is and how beautiful. It was a beautiful redeeming moment. Eight is symbolic for new beginnings and that day was truly a new beginning for us. God has begun to restore all the years the locust had eaten in our marriage.

 

So that is why I have so much hope for marriages that feel hopeless. I plan to write more about this topic on this site to offer that hope to hurting marriages.

 

Yesterday I shared a key ingredient for marriage, with that foundation in mind I’d like to offer you 9 of the lessons I’ve learned over 9 years of marriage. Every one of these lessons was learned the hard way and is easier said than done. These are the lessons God used to bring our marriage out of the pits of despair and into a marriage full of life, love, hope, fun, joy and gratitude.

 

1. Lay down your PRIDE. It is for sure the biggest problem in your marriage. It is the source of so much strife and I would guarantee 90 percent of the issues in most marriages. Lay down YOUR pride. You are the only one who can lay down your Pride. No one can do it for you. When you lay it down, over and over and over… you will see miracles in your marriage. The longer you let your pride reign the more damage you will do to your marriage.

 

2. When the disappointments in marriage come always bring that disappointment to God before bringing it to your spouse. In doing so you allow God to be a filter of that disappointment, as he filters out all the lies you will be left with only truth and a pure heart to approach your spouse with.

 

3. Treat your spouse as if they already were the person you wish they were. That means respect them even when you don’t think they deserve it.  Show honor when they are not acting honorable.

 

4. Surrender to the process of marriage. The sooner the better. Marriage will require change on your part. When two people become one, they become something new, not the same as before. Through all the things that we change or give up as we navigate marriage we grow and deepen into who we are destined to be. Our spouses are the tool God uses to chisel away as he creates a beautiful masterpiece. The sooner we surrender to that process of marriage the sooner we reap the fruit.

 

5. Ask God for the gift of repentance that comes from Godly sorrow. Danny Silk says- “The gift of repentance creates the opportunity for true restoration. In fact, it is absolutely necessary in order to heal a relationship that has been hurt by sinful behavior. True repentance can only come through a relationship with God in which we come into contact with the grace of God to change.” A repentant heart takes the walls down and keeps the walls down.

 

6. Pray for your spouse. The Power of a Praying Wife was the hardest book I ever read and applied in my life. I read it and prayed it when I really did not like my husband and it was so hard. But it changed me and my husband. The most important thing here is always talking to God about your marriage. Sometimes God will lead you to speak up about something, most times he will lead you to shut up. But as long as Holy Spirit is leading and you are following, your marriage will be headed in a good direction.

 

7. The devil hates marriage and he will lie to you about your spouse and your marriage. There is a really good chance you are believing lies about your marriage. STOP! Ask God to show you the lies, break the agreements you have made with those lies and replace them with a truth about your spouse or marriage. When you hear the lie, speak the truth over and over.

 

8. You have the power to bring out the person you want to see in your spouse, to bring out their greatness. You also have the ability to squelch them and destroy them and prevent yourself from enjoying who they could be and who you want them to be. It is all in your words.  Use your words to call forth the greatness out of your spouse.

 

9. Seek help from trusted friends or counselors. Don’t keep your problems a secret. But if the person you are talking to only comforts you and makes you feel justified, and doesn’t point you to Jesus, you need to talk to a different person. (But don’t blab your problems to everyone either.)

 

In closing I would say stay together! What you overcome together will bind you together beyond all you could ever imagine and make you stronger and happier than you think. (And there is a really good chance that half the problems in your marriage are yours. So you will bring those same problems with you to the next relationship). Staying together is so worth it.

 

Our marriage is stronger than ever but it is not perfect. We are walking together toward further healing, further growth and enjoying the fruit along the way.

 

If your marriage is challenging or hurting, do not give up hope!!

If your marriage is alive and well and full of love and joy spread that around to other marriages around you!

 

Essential Marriage Ingredient April 6, 2011

Filed under: Marriage,Relationships — Shayla @ Courageous Hope @ 9:43 pm
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Marriage is on my mind. Tomorrow my husband and I will celebrate 9 years of marriage. Tomorrow another couple I know will get married. Later this month I will be officiating a wedding for yet another couple.  Love is in the air!

Which has got me thinking….

There is an essential ingredient in marriage, crucial even. This ingredient is still working itself all the way through all the dough of my own marriage.

It is the ingredient of receiving God’s love.  Now perhaps that seems obvious but I think so often we “know” God loves us but we have not fully received His love.

What would all of our marriages be like if we truly and deeply received God’s love for us?

The Love of Jesus would work itself deep down inside of us until it becomes more than enough.  We would be so filled and made complete by the love Father God has for us that a spouse’s love for us would just be icing on the cake.

We would not be defined by our spouse’s love for us but by Christ’s infinite love for us.

The perfect love of God would spill out of us onto our spouse.

God’s love would overwhelm us so much that all insecurity would be squeezed right out.

If we could receive God’s love than we would be able to receive the love of our spouse.

We would walk confidently, freely, without guilt or shame as one loved by God and man.

We would not be so desperate for our spouse to secure our insecurities.

The fear that drives us to control would lose its grip in the freedom and grace found in His love.

Because God’s love is perfect and perfect love drives out fear. His love comes to invade our hearts and drive out all the fear. Fear of rejection, fear of disappointment, fear of regret, fear of shame, fear of heartbreak, fear of not being enough, fear of being too much, fear of fear itself, all of it is banished in the presence of His love.

He offers that love to us.  Will we receive it?

The love we have for our spouses is so imperfect and finite. But when we allow God to love them through us it is perfect love.  We can’t love well without God’s love in us.

Receiving God’s love is the key ingredient for all marriages.

(Stay tuned! Tomorrow I will share 9 lessons I’ve learned in 9 years of marriage!)

 

Tear It Down February 10, 2011

Filed under: Marriage,Relationships — Shayla @ Courageous Hope @ 10:01 pm
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One of my hopes for this blog is that it can become a space that can inspire hope in marriages. Keep your eyes peeled for more posts about marriage! (This one was actually written about a year ago posted on Oasis Community Church blog in response to a Sunday service).

Sunday as Solomon and Christy began to tear down the wall they had built on the stage I wanted to stand up and applaud. When Sol brought Christy over the crumbled wall and they embraced and hand in hand walked away from the wall I wanted to stand and shout a big woo hoo!!! Maybe I am a bit dramatic, but what that represented was huge. The tearing down of walls is the rescue for marriages, for hearts, for souls, for lives. We cannot lose hope, much is at stake when we leave walls up, more than we realize.

Walls are built in many ways, sometimes quickly as if we are defending against a powerful army getting ready to attack. Sometimes we build them slowly, so slowly we don’t even notice until the wall is too high to see over. We build walls with our pain, with our selfishness, our sin, our addictions, our woundedness, our stubbornness, and as Phil said with our differences, expectations, withdrawal, busyness, and blame. Walls do not just prevent oneness, walls make lies look like truth, they make other grass look greener; they make options we never imagined cross our mind. Walls make misery a reality, joy elusive and hope deferred. Walls cast long dark shadows and block the light. Their shadows become a hiding place for the hopeless.

Just like they are built walls are taken down in different ways. Sometimes the wall is taken down by our own obedience to take the bricks down one at a time as we surrender each one to God. Sometimes it is taken down with the dramatic force of a sledgehammer by the power of the Holy Spirit. Regardless of how it comes down it is never easy or pain free, but it is possible.

In my own marriage walls have been built and taken down more than once. Some of our walls have taken years to take down. At one point there was a wall so thick and strong between us that we were both shouting at it and neither of us could hear or see one another through it. Then God spoke- and the wall crumbled to the ground and we saw each other and we began the journey of redemption and restoration. It did not come wrapped in a pretty box, it was an ugly, painful box that I did not ask for, but inside was the deep answer to prayer I had longed for. I realized then that God is bigger than the walls we build.

One of the biggest things that broke our thickest wall, the wall I prayed to come down, the wall I never thought would be destroyed, what brought it down was repentance. When we both experienced a true and deep repentance. A Godly sorrow for the bricks we put up, for the wounds we inflicted on one another.

Danny Silk says- “The gift of repentance creates the opportunity for true restoration. In fact, it is absolutely necessary in order to heal a relationship that has been hurt by sinful behavior. True repentance can only come through a relationship with God in which we come into contact with the grace of God to change.” A repentant heart takes the walls down and keeps the walls down.

I was hiding in the dark shadow of the wall we created, completely hopeless and miserable. Blinded by the darkness I could never have imagined the joy, beauty and intimacy the Light would bring. But I clung to Jesus with all I had, His strength helped me hope, His Truth dispelled the lies, His kindness brought me to repentance, His Word led me into obedience, His love helped me love. God in His Grace and Mercy gave us a gift of true repentance and out of the crumbles of our wall He is building something more beautiful than we ever imagined.

That is why I wanted to stand and cheer when Solomon and Christy tore down that wall. When our wall is destroyed it is a miraculous, beautiful, powerful thing. It brings healing and life, it brings heaven to earth.

If you are hiding in the shadow of a wall you think will never come down, if oneness seems like too much to ask for because all you are hoping for is to not be so miserable anymore- ask God for strength to take the first brick down, lean into His power for the strength to obey. Do not lose hope, you cannot imagine what He has in store for you. It may take years, or minutes, but a wall torn down can be the rescue you’ve longed for, do not lose hope. The destruction of our walls can be a painful process, do not lose hope, on the other side of the pain, on the other side of the wall, is intimacy, unspeakable joy, and hope fulfilled.

 

 
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