When I Almost Brought My Idol To My Worship

This morning, like nearly every morning, I excitedly poured myself a cup of coffee before hurrying to the couch to get my time in the Word before the start of the day. I looked to the right of my coffee maker to find a little, glistening, plastic box of leftover chocolate chip scones from yesterday's playgroup. I have this rebellious spirit when it comes to "treats". My mind fills with thoughts paralleled to a teenage girl sneaking out her bedroom window. As I reached for one little scone, telling myself that one was the sensible choice, I quickly countered that thought with a more pleasing one:

"Shoot. These two are attached to one another. I could separate them, but let's be real--I'm coming back for a second anyways."

As I left the kitchen and headed for my daily seat with the Lord, He whispered to me, "well, would you look at those little idols your bringing with you to your worship."

Dang it.

My story with food is a long one, but it's also not long at all.

I'm a disordered eater.

The pendulum swings really far with me when it comes to food, so the drawing of my attention to my little accompaniment this morning was nothing short of grace-filled mercy and a reminder of reverence. 

Daughter, you can come to Me with those two little scones and I will love you and speak My truth to you; but I want to ask you one question... to what degree do you revere Me? Enough to choose what I've told you is best for you?

Paul's words rang in my ears and I sat in disbelief of what I was actually about to do. I was about to sit at the feet of my Savior with one (of many) of the things that keeps me from the liberated life He gave me. 

"I can hear some of you saying, "For me, all things are permitted." But face the facts: all things are not beneficial. So you say, "For me, all things are permitted." Here's my response: I will not allow anything to control me." -1 Corinthians 6:12 | the Voice

I can't eat wheat. Or dairy. Or corn.

Will it kill me if I do? No. (Do these words linger in my mind each and every time I face a bakery case filled with delicacies or am given the option of Mexican for dinner? Yes.)

Will it benefit me if I do? No. (Do these words keep me from listening to the rebellious girl inside who just wants to jump out her bedroom window? Rarely.)

Except for today.

In light of Paul's words I'm faced with this question: How many times have I brought my idols with me to my worship?

Maybe it's the idol of comparison, or the idol of perfectionism. How many times have I snuck a quick peek at Instagram during Sunday's sermon or made sure my outfit was on point before heading out to a church event. 

Gotta impress. Gotta feed the monster.

But what if I just went to worship and decided that the idols needed to stay at the door? What if there were an "idol detector" at the door of my worship, blaring at the detection of anything that stood in defense of complete reverence for God?

It's crazy the things you'll notice when God decides you're ready to.

Forgiveness, Jesus. You are far sweeter and tastier than any scone and the sound of your whisper satisfies me deeper than today's treats ever could have. Thanks for saving me from something less-than. Oh, and also, not today, satan.

Holy Week With The Real Man

Let's just get this out of the way first--I'm not a scholar. For anyone who thought I might be, because I'm so lofty in speech and whatnot, you can let your curiosity rest. I'm just a follower of Christ who never got to finish college. 

It's Holy Week. For someone who grew up Catholic, I have very little experience in letting my Easter celebration grow in the days prior to Resurrection Sunday. I never grew up practicing Lent, and it wasn't until well into my "Christian-dom" that I had even heard of people practicing any sort of worship or spiritual fasting in the days prior to Easter. To me it was eggs, bunnies and church with a big dinner afterwards. (A dinner that always took place around 1pm. Midwesterners are weird like that.)

So over the past several years I had decided in my heart that I wanted to really get "into" Lent and Holy Week. Easter is, after all, the absolute BEST day of the year, and the day in which I celebrate the thing that completely changed my life, and the course of humankind for all of time. The problem is, I'm a person with a scattered mind and a complete inability to think ahead for things like birthday cards, parties, bills and Spiritual Practices. It takes intentionality. Something that does not come naturally to me.

In my disappointment of myself and my lack of reverence for this week, I decided I ought to dive into John and read along with the telling of the days leading up to Jesus' death. What I love is that Jesus, while the Son of God, was also totally man. And in His humanness, even now, He knew I needed a way to revere Him this year that took into account my reality that is kids and sickness and a husband on crutches.

Enter Beautiful Outlaw

I've been picking away at this incredible book for awhile now. I'm convinced that my "idea" to pick up a book where I left off is not my idea at all but God's Sovereignty. In my desire to worship with a heart of gratitude this week and into the weekend, He reminded me of something absolutely vital to my worship:

Jesus was a man.

I had paused in the middle of this chapter a week or so ago and when I picked it up today I found myself challenged with this question:

"How will my worship and celebration on this Good Friday and Easter Sunday change in light of the fact that Jesus was fully man?"

It completely changes everything. 

"You might think that keeping Jesus all mysterious and heavenly is the proper thing to do, but consider this: When he came, he came as presented in the Gospels--very much human, a person, a man, with a very distinct personality. This is the primary witness we have of him, recorded for all who would know him. This is how he chooses to make himself know. This is the "self" he presents to us. Be careful you don't push him away with your religious delicacies."

When I picture myself on Sunday morning, in my Easter best, having just argued and bartered my way through getting my family all cute and perfect and to church on time, singing and worshiping my God, I wonder how it would be different if I worshiped with this in mind. What does it look like in my heart to worship a Savior who was fully God and fully man

I think it looks a lot less delicate and divided and a lot more intimate and raw.

Or what about on "Good Friday"?

"The religious glaze over Jesus--over our hearts--is so thick we have to keep striking it, over and over and over: Jesus was human. Jesus was a man. His humanity was real. He wasn't pretending. Those nails actually hurt."

What makes Good Friday "good" cannot be remembered by religious practices or ceremonies or even making sure you've checked church attendance off of your list. It is actively choosing to call to mind the Son of Man that willingly walked His own cross to the top of that hill and told His Father to forgive us for what we were about to do because we didn't fully get it.  "Good" is defined as not depreciating in value. His plea to the Father on our behalf then has not depreciated in value--He still advocates for us, and He does it as the Son of God and the Son of Man. His actions on that day and in the days leading up to it never have, and never will, depreciate in value. They will continue to be the absolute most valuable actions ever taken by man. Ever.

What could shift for you on this Holy Week if you took this into account? If you closed your eyes and imagined Jesus as completely man, and worshiped Him not as an untouchable religious figure but as a man who just really, really loves you?

"Jesus' humanity will cause you to fall in love with him all the more. His personality, his remarkable qualities... they burst with color and brilliance like fireworks because of his humanity. Think of it--the Man of Sorrows had a sense of humor. The Prince of Peace could work himself into a lather. This wonderful counselor could be downright ironic. The man on a mission had time to sit and chat. Far from diminishing Jesus, this will only quicken your worship and deepen your intimacy."

I'm thankful that the Man I love knows where I'm at and He let's me know Him all the more in the midst of it. May we be as intentional as life allows us and let grace fill in all the rest.

Happiest of Holy Weeks to you all.

 

 

*All text quoted from Beautiful Outlaw by John Eldredge. 

Day 34: A Tender Heart

20140319-210649.jpg"Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves." -Philippians 2:1-3

I don't know about you, wives, but my heart rejoices knowing that my husband delights in me. Our story is long and winded, but it's full of God's grace and divine appointments. This year we will celebrate our fourth year of marriage, and in the last few weeks we have stepped out in leading a marriage Bible study where we've had the great joy of mentoring a few newlywed couples.

Oh how God is using our story! The last couple of sessions we have been learning about how a wife feels loved and how her husband can energize her spirit. One of the sticking points for me has been how much I (and we as women) need tenderness.

I know for many facts that my heart itself is a tender thing. When I married my husband, I gave it to him for safe keeping and care. And in these last few years he has done a wonderful job of speaking to me and loving me in the ways I need. But I also know, that he is the one who can hurt me the most without ever meaning too.

I'm not confessing anything here or speaking bad about him as he is wonderful and I love him beyond words--but as we've been learning in our group we are different when it comes to this marriage thing. It's the obvious difference I'm talking about--he is a man and I am a woman--and in God's beautiful entity of marriage we (man and woman) are loved and love differently. In his manhood and in his act of being my husband, the way he reacts to things or even says them in his different way can hurt my heart terribly because I hear them differently.

For that reason, there is much to be done. See, as wives, we are loved with love. But as husbands, they are loved with respect. And in fact, God commands us to this type of love in Ephesians 5:33 So again I say, each man must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. In that beautiful symbol of marriage, we as Christ bride's respect our husband and Christ, the husband, loves his wife, the church. That husband then, being like-minded in Christ, finds tenderness and compassion to make the joy of his wife complete.

Men are not tender creatures--not naturally anyway--and in the way God has designed them, they are not built to be nurturing, tender creatures. Yet, as God commands them to love their wives, they are to become like-minded in Christ which means taking on tenderness in order to show love.

I don't know about you, but those tender moments my husband expresses either through words or actions, simply melt my heart and propel me through my days. They encourage me to respect him more and show him love in the way he feels it. And when I am loved and I respect him, we go round and round in a energizing circle, encouraging each other in this beautiful thing called marriage.

I could undoubtedly type up our whole Bible study here but I won't. Instead, I challenge you to read Love and Respect by Emerson Eggerich and perhaps join a study on it if you have the chance. And tonight as we pray for our husbands to keep delighting in us, let's offer up a prayer for tenderness as it doesn't come easy for them--but it's something that undoubtedly brings joy to our marriage.

-Caitlin

Heavenly Father,

Tonight I simply continue to offer up thanksgiving for my husband and this journey of marriage you have called us on. Our story has been written by you and in these moments, both good and bad, you are here. You have given us the chance to delight in each other, and to walk alongside each other when the world drags us down. Lord, you have created us so differently, yet so perfectly that the way we fit together speaks only of you. As we learn  how to love one another as each new day passes, may we follow your commands. I ask that you would help me in respecting my husband, in showing him love in the way he needs, and in understanding that though he is different than me he isn't wrong. Help me to offer up forgiveness for those moments that pull at my heart and understand that his love for me does not waiver, but that in fact he is simply loving me in the way he knows how. In that I lift him up to you Father. I ask that you would instill tenderness in his heart for the moments I need it most. Help him to be like-minded with you, showing tenderness and compassion to me in my moments of weakness and brokenness and need for love. Help him to speak to me and to love me with a tender heart, and help me to be patient with him as he learns this way of loving. There are so many things in life that do not come easy to any of us, but Lord you offer to show us how. I pray that he would seek you for guidance as a husband and listen to the whispers of advice you offer him. Teach him to be tender towards me--and teach me to notice.

I ask in your most holy name,

Amen

 

Day 15: Relinquish To The Relentless

Image-1 (2)  

8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. 9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. 10 As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, 11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire     and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. 12 You will go out in joy     and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands. 13 Instead of the thornbush will grow the juniper, and instead of briers the myrtle will grow. This will be for the Lord’s renown, for an everlasting sign, that will endure forever.” - Isaiah 55: 8-13

God is God. Period. His will will be accomplished regardless of any of our resistance, timidity or reserve. But how much more of a ride could it be if we were to just relinquish to the One who is unyielding? If we let Him have His way with us? As Isaiah 55 states, His word will not return to him empty. It will accomplish what He desires.

Today, can we pray that our husbands would truly understand what's waiting on the other side of their resistance?The Message paraphrases verse 13 in this: "All the trees of the forest will join the procession, exuberant with applause. No more thistles, but giant sequoias, no more thornbushes, but stately pines..." Choosing to believe that what He has could be and is better than what we have chosen for ourselves will produce a different, more bountiful harvest of joy. Like comparing a thistle to a sequoia- who in their right mind would choose the thistle when there's a sequoia waiting for them?

He is chasing after that man today. He wants his heart, and He will not relent until His plan has been fulfilled. May they see, as vulnerable as it might be, that He will not back down because He loves them that much. He knows what He wants to do in them and through them for His glory and purpose.

May you see that today too, dear sisters. He's after you.

-Laura

Mighty God,

You are my strong tower. There is never a moment where you do not know where I am. Even in my weakest of moments when I want to hide my face from you, I find comfort in knowing your love is relentless even then. Father, you love this man. You unabashedly and adamantly love him. You have his heart and in the end, you will have your way with him. But Lord, I pray that he wouldn't wait until the end, but would rise up and choose to answer your calling. That his life wouldn't be a series of Jonah moment's but of moments where he feebly and boldly stands up and goes forward, knowing full well just who the God is that has called him. That, like young David, his knowledge of your might would leave no room for fear of man. God, while your love is tender and merciful it is also absolutely powerful and absolutely strong. Show him that, Lord. Maybe even for the first time, show him the mighty force that is your love, and that it will never back down, no matter how hard he protests. Show him the joyful procession that awaits him, if he would only choose to join in. Your name is praised today, Lord God! May the reality of your love wash over both of us like the wind and rain of a hurricane.

In your holy name I pray.

Amen

If you'd like a great sound track for your day today check out "Relentless" by Hillsong United found here.

Day 13: A Higher And Deeper Calling

Image-1 (1) "My son, pay attention to what I say; listen closely to my words. Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart; for they are life to those who find them and health to a man's whole body. Above all else, guard your heart for it is the wellspring of life." Proverbs 4:20-23

I'm feeling a bit amped  and I believe it has to do with one or all of the following: the medium light roast with white chocolate I just drank (mmmm), the excitement and spiritual whirling in my heart about Holy Yoga Instructor Training beginning tomorrow (eeeeeeeek!) OR  the Spirit  flipping the switch to all kinds of light bulbs in my head over the passage on my heart today. Whatever is causing it, I ask for your patience and grace as I share... this girl has got some major excitement happening on this side of the screen.

On the subject of what our lives look like and who we live them for there's one thing that comes to mind, specifically with husbands, and men in general, in mind. Something that irritates me beyond belief are the stereotype actions, responses and attitudes that men buy into in our society.

Don't show too much emotion.

Make a joke at someone else's expense to look tougher.

Keep your thoughts, musings and whispers of your heart to yourself.

In a conflict with your wife? Just don't say anything at all. She's just going off and being a woman.

I realize that men are different than women. The "whispers of the heart" is a bit of a stretch, but I for one will say that the moments when T has shared his heart with me are ones that I keep very close. I go back to them often because I believe that is a major facet of the intimacy that God designed in marriage.

I read Proverbs 4 today and if T were here with me, you better believe I'd be preaching from the mountaintops to him on the whole chapter. Wisdom, wisdom, WISDOM! I won't make you read the entire chapter if you don't have time, but I do encourage it. If you can read it in the amplified version, please do.

Verses 14-16 say, "Do not set foot on the path of the wicked or walk in the way of evil men. Avoid it, do not travel on it; turn from it and go your way. For they cannot sleep until they do evil, they are robbed of slumber till they make someone fall." The amplified version says, in verse 16, that they cannot sleep until they have caused trouble or vexation. That word means, "the act of annoying, irritating or vexing." Men are so vexing towards one another! I can't help but wonder if this can leave them fearful of stepping out, taking the right path in each moment they are presented the opportunity, and walking away from people who push them into the stereotypical "man" corners.

So today, can we pray for our men's hearts? That they would take and guard wisdom in their hearts with vigilance? Because I know I've seen my man get backed into that corner far too many times, choosing to fall into the stereotype rather than standing up in wisdom and knowing the value that it has for him in this life.

Be blessed today, beautiful daughters.

-Laura

Lord,

Your wisdom is more valuable than the most precious of jewels, which is why the thought of choosing the labels of this world seems so foolish in comparison. I desperately pray your words of Proverbs 4 over him today. Lord, there are men all around him that buy into the lies and the labels... who can't seem to rest until they have caused unrest in his heart and the hearts of others around him. Please, Father, ignite in him the revelation of the value of your wisdom. Allow him insight into the beautiful reality that you have given him another road, a higher road, that he can travel in each and every instance where someone desires to tear him down. Lord, you have given him the tools, so show him how to guard his heart with vigilance and to step out in bravery. It is in these moments that he can actively choose to live out his life in a worthy manner, honoring you with his speech and his actions. Moment by moment, Spirit, remind him that he has been called higher and deeper than cutting words and "manly" power trips. He has been called to kindness, where more power is found than in any snarky retort ever muttered by the lips of the ensnared. Release in him the freedom that can be felt in acknowledging this truth. God you are so good! May we always remember how much more worth is found in you than any of the emptiness this world has to offer us!

For your glory God!

Amen

If you desire to, here is Chapter 4. Let me know if you feel amped after you let the Spirit settle it in your heart, because I know I sure did.

Proverbs 4 (NIV)

Listen, my sons, to a father’s instruction; pay attention and gain understanding. 2 I give you sound learning, so do not forsake my teaching. 3 For I too was a son to my father, still tender, and cherished by my mother. 4 Then he taught me, and he said to me, “Take hold of my words with all your heart; keep my commands, and you will live. 5 Get wisdom, get understanding; do not forget my words or turn away from them. 6 Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you; love her, and she will watch over you. 7 The beginning of wisdom is this: Get[a] wisdom. Though it cost all you have,[b] get understanding. 8 Cherish her, and she will exalt you; embrace her, and she will honor you. 9 She will give you a garland to grace your head and present you with a glorious crown.”

10 Listen, my son, accept what I say, and the years of your life will be many. 11 I instruct you in the way of wisdom and lead you along straight paths. 12 When you walk, your steps will not be hampered; when you run, you will not stumble. 13 Hold on to instruction, do not let it go; guard it well, for it is your life. 14 Do not set foot on the path of the wicked or walk in the way of evildoers. 15 Avoid it, do not travel on it; turn from it and go on your way. 16 For they cannot rest until they do evil; they are robbed of sleep till they make someone stumble. 17 They eat the bread of wickedness and drink the wine of violence.

18 The path of the righteous is like the morning sun, shining ever brighter till the full light of day. 19 But the way of the wicked is like deep darkness; they do not know what makes them stumble.

20 My son, pay attention to what I say; turn your ear to my words. 21 Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart; 22 for they are life to those who find them and health to one’s whole body. 23 Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. 24 Keep your mouth free of perversity; keep corrupt talk far from your lips. 25 Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you. 26 Give careful thought to the[c] paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways. 27 Do not turn to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil.

And in the Amplified to really just hit it home:

Hear, my sons, the instruction of a father, and pay attention in order to gain and to know intelligent discernment, comprehension, and interpretation [of spiritual matters].

2 For I give you good doctrine [what is to be received]; do not forsake my teaching.

3 When I [Solomon] was a son with my father [David], tender and the only son in the sight of my mother [Bathsheba],

4 He taught me and said to me, Let your heart hold fast my words; keep my commandments and live.

5 Get skillful and godly Wisdom, get understanding (discernment, comprehension, and interpretation); do not forget and do not turn back from the words of my mouth.

6 Forsake not [Wisdom], and she will keep, defend, and protect you; love her, and she will guard you.

7 The beginning of Wisdom is: get Wisdom (skillful and godly Wisdom)! [For skillful and godly Wisdom is the principal thing.] And with all you have gotten, get understanding (discernment, comprehension, and interpretation).

8 Prize Wisdom highly and exalt her, and she will exalt and promote you; she will bring you to honor when you embrace her.

9 She shall give to your head a wreath of gracefulness; a crown of beauty and glory will she deliver to you.

10 Hear, O my son, and receive my sayings, and the years of your life shall be many.

11 I have taught you in the way of skillful and godly Wisdom [which is comprehensive insight into the ways and purposes of God]; I have led you in paths of uprightness.

12 When you walk, your steps shall not be hampered [your path will be clear and open]; and when you run, you shall not stumble.

13 Take firm hold of instruction, do not let go; guard her, for she is your life.

14 Enter not into the path of the wicked, and go not in the way of evil men.

15 Avoid it, do not go on it; turn from it and pass on.

16 For they cannot sleep unless they have caused trouble or vexation; their sleep is taken away unless they have caused someone to fall.

17 For they eat the bread of wickedness and drink the wine of violence.

18 But the path of the [uncompromisingly] just and righteous is like the light of dawn, that shines more and more (brighter and clearer) until [it reaches its full strength and glory in] the perfect day [to be prepared].

19 The way of the wicked is like deep darkness; they do not know over what they stumble.

20 My son, attend to my words; consent and submit to my sayings.

21 Let them not depart from your sight; keep them in the center of your heart.

22 For they are life to those who find them, healing and health to all their flesh.

23 Keep and guard your heart with all vigilance and above all that you guard, for out of it flow the springs of life.

24 Put away from you false and dishonest speech, and willful and contrary talk put far from you.

25 Let your eyes look right on [with fixed purpose], and let your gaze be straight before you.

26 Consider well the path of your feet, and let all your ways be established and ordered aright.

27 Turn not aside to the right hand or to the left; remove your foot from evil.

Day 11: What Your Life Looks Like

Image-1 "As a prisoner of the Lord, I urge you: Walk as Jesus walked. Live a life that is worthy of the calling he has graciously extended to you." Ephesians 4:1-The Voice

A reality about life and God that I will never understand is that not all will spend eternity in glory with the Lord. There are so many aspects of this that I could get into and begin to ask questions about but that would get me way off the topic at hand... the one on my heart. The fact of the matter is, as we have discussed earlier in this journey, God orchestrated quite a lot to get each of us to this place where we love and worship Him. The clincher is that the degree of which we worship is completely dependent upon us. How much of ourselves that we give to the Lord is our choice, as Caitlin showed us yesterday. But regardless of what and how much we choose to worship the God of the universe, one fact still remains: we have been called. He has anointed us. He has anointed him.  He has placed a seal on my husband, that he may be set apart in this world to do His good work. If your husband is not yet saved, he has still been chosen in that God has placed you very purposefully in his life... To be his help-mate; to show him Jesus. So whether his journey with the Lord has already begun or has yet to, God is at work and desires for all of our lives to be set apart. The way his life, my life, and your life, look to the outsider is each of our own decisions. God will not do the worshiping for us. If he only desired to worship Himself He wouldn't have needed to create us in the first place.

So today, as you pray over him and over yourself, keep this passage in your mind and on your heart: "In the light of all this, here's what I want you to do. While I'm locked up here, a prisoner for the Master, I want you to get out there and walk - better yet, run! - on the road God called you to travel. I don't want any of you sitting around on your hands. I don't want anyone strolling off, down some path that goes nowhere. And mark that you do this with humility and discipline - not in fits and starts, but steadily, pouring yourselves out for each other in acts of love, alert at noticing differences and quick at mending fences." Ephesians 4:1-3 The Message

-Laura

Father,

We both need you so desperately, whether we choose to recognize that or not. Lord I will never understand why you choose some and not others but I am humbled that you have chosen me and that you have chosen my husband. Lord, let our lives be a worthy sacrifice to you. Father, show him when his life is beginning to go down the path that leads nowhere; when it's beginning to look just like everyone else's. Lord, while I thank you for the tools you've given us in our western Christianity, I pray that his faith, and mine as well, would not depend on jumping from one bible study or small group to another, but that it would be a steady pouring out of ourselves to you. Lord, show him how to display the truth of your character through the way he works out his faith in this life. Spirit, nudge him in the moments when you know a difference in attitude or a little extenstion of grace could reveal your heart through his actions or words. And most of all, Father, deeply implant in his heart and mind the magnitude of the calling you have placed on him. That he is not just another face in a sea of believers but that you have set him apart, and because of that his life aught to look different. As I pray this Lord, I confess the ways that I have not been living in a worthy manner too. Please right me where I am wrong, take my hand and show me how. You are worthy, Jesus, and it's in your name I pray these things. Amen.

Day 9: Awaken Pure Joy In You

Image "And David danced before the Lord with all his might, clad in a linen ephod." 2 Samuel 6:14

Let me just get this out of the way right off the bat: I'm not about to suggest we pray that our husbands dance around in ephods. At least not in front of any other eyes than our own. But I do think we should pray that they would  unashamedly dance. Allow me to elaborate.

Today I found myself listening to some old music that T and I used to enjoy in our youthful courtship days, making silly videos on my so cool macbook, lip-syncing ourselves silly. I like thinking on those memories, how it felt being so young and free of the weight of worry and adulthood and responsibilities. I would not, however, care to go back to that woman, nor would I want T to go back to that man. With trials and hardship comes wisdom and I would take that over macbook lip-sync videos any day.

In reading about David today, I am drawn to the above verse. David had recently conquered Jerusalem,  defeated the Philistines and was now transporting the Ark of the Lord (talk about a high pressure task). Take a minute and think of David in real-life terms, not just a person in a book. He was real; his emotions, levels of stress, and inability to handle said stress well were just like ours are. And yet he, "danced before the Lord with all his might."

Wives, our husbands carry so much in leading, providing, caring and loving. Today, let's pray that the Lord would wake within them and allow them to dance before Him in praise of all He is, all He has done and all He has promised.

Laura

Father in Heaven,

You have placed quite a task before this man, and you have done so knowing full well that He is capable of not only accomplishing it but giving you glory at the same time. Lord, you have placed so much joy inside of us in giving us the Holy Spirit. Please awaken that joy in him. Even in the most stressful of days, let loose the freedom inside of him to sing and dance for you, for himself and just for the pure joy of it. Thank you, that even in the most stressful or uncertain of times, you have not taken your joy from him. You know the plans that you have for him, to prosper him and give him a hope and future, so free him of the chains of worry and show him how to dance. Give him a heart like David, that is unashamed of the joy bursting inside of him because of you. Rid him of the desire to "cover up" with the stereotypes of this world and to vulnerably and unabashedly love you and in turn love me, our family and those around us better. It's in your worthy Name I pray. Amen.

P.S. I highly recommend doing a little dancing of your own to the song "Wake" by Hillsong Young & Free. You can find it on Spotify.

Day 7: The Greatest Commandment

20140219-233732.jpg "'Listen, Israel: The Lord your God is one: so love the Lord God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence and energy.' And here is the second: 'Love others as well as you love yourself. There is no other commandment that ranks with these.'" Mark 12:29-31

There are so many elements of love, and I feel on our human level we are not fully cable of grasping them all in unison, let alone giving them all to one another. But God not only understands them, He's created in each of us an ability to give these things to Him, in whatever form that may look like for us, and in them He is pleased.

The second tidbit in this passage is one to think on for a minute because I think it can get passed over to usually mean one thing. How well does your husband treat himself? Do you think, in those moments within that he is as nice to himself as he may be to others around him? Is it easier for him to show kindness or mercy to others but not to himself? We all have our moments when we doubt ourselves, our worth or our place in this world, but I don't think we spend much time thinking of others in those terms. So as we pray for our husbands to love God richly with their entire beings, let's also pray for them to see the love they can and deserve to give themselves. There is grace in every new day so whether they are on a mountain top or in a valley, God's desire is for them to see the love they can have for themselves. That by leaving behind self doubt and insecurity they could love God fully, with all their passion, prayer, intelligence and energy.

Laura

All deserving God, You have equipped me to be capable of giving you so much, and yet I give you so little of myself. You are a merciful and patient Father, and I come to you today with a heart beating with gratitude. Lord, the pride you have for him will never be comprehended on this side of heaven, but Father, please help him to see the moments where there is room for him to show himself grace. In the moments of disappointment or self doubt show him how to love himself well, the same way you've shown him how to love others well. In this Lord, grant him the passion to love you with all of his heart. Show him how to love you with an undivided soul. Clear his mind of the meaningless clutter and guide him into loving you with all that it is capable of. Father, you have made him strong. Show him what it looks like to love you with the strength of his physical being. Show him where care needs to be taken and where love needs to be shown in the body you have given him. I ask you to do these things in him that he would be able to live a long, passionate, prayerful, intelligent and energetic life for you and for our family. I am filled with such joy knowing that I can expectantly ask you these things because I know you have shown us both how to love you through your Spirit and your Word. Oh Lord how we desire to love you more and more. You are perfection, sweet Father. In the Almighty's name I pray. Amen.

Day 5: A Spirit Of Unity

Image-1 (1) "Each of us should please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. For even Christ did not please himself, but, as it is written: "The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me." For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Accept one another then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God." Romans 15:2-7

It's a well known fact that, for nearly everyone, there are certain people who we just don't get along with. (If you are one can argue that this is not true of you, well, then you must be Jesus. We all know that's not possible so you must be lying to yourself and to me.) One of the bajillion reasons why Christ is so beautiful is that He continues to give us such an example of this, every single day. The Prince of Peace, patiently showing us how we ought to bear with one another, not for our sake but for theirs, that HE may be glorified. Today, let's pray for our husbands to know the encouragement and endurance supplied to them that they are able to accept those in their lives that they can't accept on their own strength. Whether they are in the church or in the world, that the peace that comes from Christ would allow them to live in harmony with others for the glory of God.

Laura

Prince of Peace,

I sit here in such humility at the thought of Your acceptance. Neither myself, my husband or any others who walk this earth are deserving of it and yet You gave it to us that day on the cross and every single day thereafter. Thank You. Father, thank You for loving him enough to show him how to accept others. Thank You for not just telling him to do so without guidance or instruction but for tangibly showing him how and why he can do it. That yes, there will always be those who challenge unity and peace but that your encouragement and endurance is supplied in excess daily. Touch his heart in those moments when pride is setting in and gently guide him back to Your way and Your truth. Allow those around him to see Your peace in him, that they would know there is something uniquely different about his spirit... about his life... about his aim. Let love overflow, not for his own gain but for the benefit of those who desperately need it, that YOU would be glorified. That your love would be recognized in their life, maybe even for the first time. Lord, in your mercy let lives be won by the way his life is lived. Fill him with joy and peace as he trusts in You, so that he may overflow with hope by Your power, Holy Spirit. In and through and for your mighty name, Jesus! Amen. (Pieces of this prayer taken from Romans 15. Definitely take a peek at the whole chapter and let it come alive in your prayer.) 

Day 3: Trust In The One Who Answers

Image-1 "I don't fear; I'm confident that help will come to the one anointed by the Eternal: Heaven will respond to his plea; His mighty right hand will win the battle. Many put their trust in chariots, others in horses, but we place our trust in the name of the Eternal One, our True God. Soon our enemies will collapse and fall, never to return home; all the while we will rise and stand firm." (Psalm 20: 6-8)

In an uncertain time, in an uncertain world, we need a God that will answer. We need to know why we choose to place our trust high above the things of this earth. There are millions of distractions daily, tiny little greedy tentacles of a scaly, slimy enemy, vying for our attention. I once heard that the enemy isn't necessarily aiming to turn us 180 degrees away from God, but even just one degree. Just enough to eventually get us off track and our eyes far from Heaven. So today let's pray for our husbands to look intently towards the Lord. To have strength to turn their backs, even if just for today, from the pull of the temporary... the "chariots" and "horses" of our day. That their focus and the depth of their heart could be deeply rooted on the Eternal One. So that, even at the end of today, they will be able to stand firm amongst a sea of souls who have chosen the things that will never love them back.

Be blessed today, wives, for you are so deeply loved by your King.

Laura

Eternal One, Your beauty is matchless. There is not one thing in this entire world that compares to even a glimpse of you. How gracious and loving you are to allow me to know and love you, even in my ever present state of sin. Thank you for promising to listen to my prayers. Thank you for giving me the gift of confidence in your answering. Lord, I carry him to You, knowing that Your love for him far outweighs the love in my heart for him. I pray that You would bring contentment to his heart, allowing him the freedom and desire to turn his back on the things that draw him to this temporary world. Spirit, fill his entire being with such peace and satisfaction in You and all that You have given him that he feels no need for the idols of this place. Open his eyes to all that You are, allowing him to go forward in this day with the confidence that his God is the one true God who tenderly listens to him and fiercely moves for him. God, You are unbelievably good. Please remove the scales from both of our eyes today so that we may see a bit more of who you truly are. We love you, and so long to love you even more. Show us how, Lord Jesus. It's in Your mighty name I pray. Amen.

Day 2: The Lord will hear

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As I took a breath this morning waking to a day of new mercies and apart from my husband, I found myself turning to Him. Having a husband in the military, I am no stranger to being apart from the love of my life on earth. But the saving grace of that thought is that apart means nothing to my Father. He will do great things despite time or distance, near or far. He gives us new love every morning.

Last year, I attempted 40 days of prayer for my husband, and I didn't finish. I felt defeated, unworthy, and a failure. After all, as a wife pursuing the great love of Christ, prayer for my husband should come naturally. But it doesn't. At least not for me. So I turn to the word in my bumbling thoughts of prayer, and God answers: "The LORD has heard my cry for mercy; the LORD accepts my prayer." -Psalm 6:9

My friends-- may I encourage you today as we begin this journey to simply offer your heart to Him, even if your prayers are bumbly? I believe that if we authentically pour out our hearts in love for our husbands to the One who ordained us to be together, He will hear us. He will honor our heart and pour out a beautiful grace upon our marriage. I love The Message translation of this verse as it tells us: "At last God has heard my sobs. My prayers have all been granted, my prayers are answered."

He WILL answer us friends. It may not be in the ways we expect, but our marriage will become beautiful because we will be showing respect to our husbands as God calls His bride to show him.

I encourage you to pour out your hearts today wives, even if you aren't sure how or where to start. Simply start as God will hear and do the rest.

-Caitlin

Marriage Maker, we thank you for a morning of new mercies and a chance to simply come. As I start this journey, please hear my prayer for my husband. God, my heart is so full of love for him, I pray that you will hear the cry that calls to You. Grant him new mercies this day as he moves and breathes, and prepare a way for You to move in him. Thank you Father for this marriage you have given us. May we honor you whether we are near or far from one another. Amen

40 Days of Prayer...

40 days of weak knees and tear stained Bibles... this is what I am hoping for and believing in these next 40 days. God is so awesome. Not the "awesome" you may hear from the mouths of tweens but what you would read from the dusty pages of your Webster's Dictionary (or dictionary.com, either way). Awesome: causing feelings of fear and wonder: causing feelings of awe. Extremely good.

Did you catch that? Extremely good. Man, isn't He?

I can't wait for these next 40 days, and I also hope they pass slowly, that I may soak in the essence of each day. The time spent with my Dad, talking intimately and deeply about His very precious child. I know that He has quite the agenda for it, and so I will strive to leave myself at the door and proceed in the Spirit alone. Laura really has nothing of value to share. She is grumpy and selfish and generally a bit too emotional as a whole. But her God is beautiful, powerful, gentle and so wise. So let those things be what you take from this experience... His goodness and His goodness only.

The God that we kneel to on behalf of our husbands, ourselves, our children, is a mighty God. His name alone has the power to make the ocean rise and fall. So as you go before Him these next 40 days, begin so by making your heart and mind right before Him... by acknowledging that this is not a chore but a privilege. Loving that man, and being entrusted into his care and love is a privilege. Being the one who allows him to feel strong, to feel a need to protect and provide, is a unique and beautiful honor. There is so much beauty in these roles as husband and wife.

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"For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom His whole family in heaven and on earth derive it's name. I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge- that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God." Eph 3:14-19

Let's  back up a bit first to verse 7 where it says, "I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God's grace given me through the working of His power." That man I love was not just born into a Christian home. God purposefully and powerfully worked. He selected him for a purpose and did so with more intention than I could ever begin to wrap my mind around. The man you love isn't yours because you both went to the same University and fell for each other, or because you made some bad decisions in your youth and tried your best to make it right. God powerfully placed you together. He is not a God of chance or lackadaisical effort. He is a God of purpose. You are his wife for a purpose.

These men, they are made in the image of God, which means they have the capacity to experience the same emotions you see God experience in the pages of His Word, as well as the emotions you yourself feel. Granted, some are experienced on a microscopic level compared to ours but they are there nevertheless. So the same difficulty you have relating to the good that you are and that you have been given because of Christ is also present in them as well. Which brings me to this passage from Paul. In order for our men to grasp just how deep the love is of the Father, the Spirit of God must be home in their hearts. I find it of no coincidence that Paul first prays for them to be strengthened, before he speaks of the Spirit dwelling in their hearts. It takes strength to open yourself up to truth. The Spirit residing in their hearts produces what the Voice translation calls "the rich soil where their lives take root."

It's such a domino affect. If we can pray them through this passage, in this order, I believe we will be thoroughly praying them into a place where they could begin to catch a glimpse of the depth of His love. So today, He has made things easy for all of us by giving us His very word to pray. With a few slight textual changes on my part, pray this over your husband and yourself. Let it soak into your soul and then let it soar. Allow this to launch your prayer into whatever you may know he needs specifically. And allow yourself the freedom to allow the Holy Spirit to determine your timeline of prayer... because it could go further than you may have allowed it on your own.

Father, out of Your honorable and glorious riches, strengthen Your son. Fill his soul with the power of Your Spirit so that through faith the Liberating King will reside in his heart. May love be the rich soil where his life takes root. May it be the bedrock where his life is founded so that together, with our family, we will have the power to understand that the love of the Liberator is infinitely long, wide, high and deep, surpassing everything anyone previously experienced. God, may Your fullness flood through his entire being. (From Ephesians 3:16-19 in The Voice. Changed for these purposes with an effort to keep the original message.)

In life we are ever surrounded (usually just from ourselves) by the "should" and "shouldn't" but tonight let yourself soak in the good that you are doing as a wife. Your Father is so very proud of you. Even today, in this very moment with the very emotions you're feeling and the sins you're battling. So rest in His gleaming pride for his daughter, while you spend some time praying for the man you both love so dearly.

Laura

Side note: if you are familiar with the yoga posture "Child's Pose" might I recommend a prayer posture for you? Find a quiet space and bring yourself down into child's pose, with your bible placed in front of you. As you stretch your arms out before you, allow your forehead to rest on the Word and your hands to face heaven. With each breath let your body sink deeper as your heart opens wider. And if you're anything like me, you will soon have a very tear stained Word of God beneath you.