Saturday, February 25, 2012

02/25/12 - Pulling off the Masks

I'll never forget talking to her more than two years ago. She poured out her heart of her unhappy marriage. She had been unhappy for a long time.

Then she said, "No one at my church knows this. We all walk around on Sunday like we're so happy and nothing is wrong."

Why? I mean why do we keep up the masks in the one place we should feel the safest?

When you have hidden pain or secret sins you will drift towards isolation. You will think you are the only one with this pain. You will think you're the only one who struggles with this certain sin.

You know you're not alone! Satan wants us to drift towards isolation. He wants us to retreat. He wants to keep those masks up because he knows when the masks come down, revival can begin!

Please pull your mask off! Get honest with yourself, with God, and with others!! Don't let satan win!

Friday, February 24, 2012

02/24/12 - Complete Surrender

I've had this thought: If a complete stranger came into my home and looked through every corner of my house, every computer file, every journal, every movie, every CD, every cabinet, every drawer, every email, every text message, pretty much anywhere and everywhere in my house...would they see Jesus?

I sure hope everything in my life is consistent with the fact that I call myself a follower of Christ.

Now let me clarify something...I don't want my life to be pure so others look at me. I want my life to honor God and I want complete surrender of everything in light of the grace and truth of the cross.

What someone can't see if my heart....so even if the externals are all purified, if I harbor bitterness, anger, greed, jealousy, envy, or anything other attitude that displeases God, who cares what someone sees in my house.

I am crying out to God for complete surrender of my heart, my mind, my life, my will. Let revival come and let it start with me!!

(A book that has brought more of this to my own thinking is "Surrender" By Nancy Leigh DeMoss)

Saturday, February 18, 2012

02/18/12 - Young Man's Perspective

Recently I had a conversation with a young man about his future wife. He shared how he's been realizing how awesome it would be to be married. To have someone he could share his whole life with. A best friend, lover, confident, and someone who would point him more to Christ.

His perspective was a breath of fresh air to me!

In another conversation I had with a young man about his girlfriend I asked him, "Well, how serious are you with her?" He said, "At this point she's low maintenance and makes me happy. It's good for me now."

Do you see the sharp contrast in these two young men? One is looking at self, the other sees the true beauty of a helpmate created by God for him.

Praying my sons take on the mindset of the first young man in this culture that needs men to step up, set self aside, and be servant leaders of their homes!

Friday, February 17, 2012

02/17/12 - WinePress Publishers

All updates at the bottom of post!

I would like to offically cut all ties to my first publisher "WinePress Publishers". I regrettably write this blog post because WinePress has yet to remove my name from their success story, so I would like to cut ties publicly with them, since they won't remove my name after three times of me asking them to.

When I first published my book, Athena Dean was the owner and operator of WinePress. Athena was an amazing publisher! I am so thankful that our paths crossed.

Last year Athena cut ties with WinePress and the church that now operates WinePress: Sound Doctrine. If you would like to read Athena's story you can at: Not Afraid to Tell my Story

When Athena contacted me on Januray 11, 2012 I sent an email to WinePress asking them to remove my "success story" from their website because of a pending lawsuit.

Malcolm Fraser wrote me back on Janurary 12, 2012 stating:
"
Greetings Heather,

Thanks for your message.

WinePress is not currently involved in any lawsuit, nor are we aware that one has been filed. Apparently, you have received information regarding one that is pending. I'd appreciate it if you could let me know what you've heard and how you came to hear about it so that we can deal with any issues in a Biblical manner.

It appears that some false information may be at the source of some unfortunate gossip, so I'd be very careful about believing the first thing you hear on such matters. Doing justice to WinePress would be to let us know the specifics and details of what you've been told, and allowing us the opportunity to respond.

Sincerely,
Malcolm Fraser
Executive Officer"

On January 16th WinePress released a rebuttal to the accusations from Athena, which stated: "However, in light of the threat of a pending "lawsuit," our attorney has advised us to provide a specific rebuttal. Therefore, we are including the following facts – which are fully documented and verifiable – to address the main points of Athena's accusations"

You can read their entire rebuttal here: http://www.winepresspublishing.com/downloads/WP_Rebuttal_Statement%20.pdf

As of posting this blog the first date on the rebuttal was January 16th. So Mr. Fraser accused me of having false information on January 12th. But just 4 days later, on advice from their lawyer, they wrote a rebuttal. So Mr. Fraser is asking me to believe that on January 12th they had no idea what Athena had accused them of.

Yes, the lawsuit had not been filed, but he twisted his words making me believe he knew nothing of what Athena was going to do.

I contacted Mr. Fraser again on February 9th asking him again to remove my story from their website. Stating that if I had known Athena was no longer in charge I would have removed my name and I believe Sound Doctrine is a cult and wouldn't like to be associated with them or WinePress.

Yesterday I received a letter from WinePress stating:

"I am sorry to hear that you don't wish to deal with the false accusations against WinePress in a biblical manner."

If you'd like to see the whole letter I'd be happy to email it to you.

They also sent me a copy of Timothy Williams book "The Gospel and Gossip".

After this letter I received, I emailed Mr. Fraser again asking him to remove my name.

This issue with Athena Dean and WinePress has been very public. I am sharing both sides and do not feel that this is gossip.

I write this again because WinePress has yet to remove my story from their success story. I am thankful for Athena Dean in helping me publish the first edition of Emotional Purity!

UPDATE: An email, dated February 20th, after another attempt for WinePress to remove my story, Malcolm Fraser said, "Concerning your success story, we have removed what we are legally obligated to remove." Which, if you look at their site, there is all my info about my Success Story, but the pictures of my book covers are not there. This is very sad to me.

UPDATE March 21, 2012: Latest with Malcolm Fraser (they still haven't removed my name from their site) http://www.courierherald.com/news/143737156.html

UPDATE: March 23, 2012: I've once again tried to remove contact with WinePress and once again had a very frustrating set of email exchanges with someone there. Here's the latest on Malcolm Fraser: http://www.courierherald.com/news/143914876.html

Again I want no contact or association with WinePress Publishers!

02/17/12 - Another Marriage Post

After 12 years of marriage Sam and Kathy sit at a resturant with hardly a word crossing their lips.

Kathy plays with her salad and shifts in the hard seat.

Sam checks his phone and replies to a text message.

When he sets his phone down Kathy mentions that Tommy, their 10 year old son, has a ball game that Saturday. Sam asks when, and then checks his phone to see his calendar.

They go back to silence as the main dish is served.

Kathy wonders, "How did we get here? This man is a stranger."

Most evenings at home Sam and Kathy hardly talk, so this "date night" isn't that different. Sex is pretty infrequent, maybe 1 time every other month. They watch TV when they eat dinner and most nights they are running one of their 3 children to a sporting, school, or church event.

Their church friends have no idea that they are just living as roommates. Even some of Kathy's closest friends haven't gotten past the smile she puts on to know the loneliness she feels. Her heart aches. Secretly she is addicted to romance novels and soap operas. The fantasy land in her mind allows her to numb the pain and rejection she feels. But that pain goes back to high school when a boy she liked physically went too far with her...an event she's never shared with Sam.

Sam, well, he's pretty disconnected emotionally from the family. He figures he is the bread-winner, so he's providing for his family. Work is stressful, church commitments keep him busy, and he likes to play basketball on the weekends with his buddies from church. He figure he works all week and the weekends are "his" time. No one knows that he's lost really all interest in his wife. "Taking care of himself" is easier than connecting with Kathy, she never really liked to be physically intimate with him anyway...so he figures he's doing her a favor. His world pretty much revolves around him.

They both wonder privately, "How did we get here and how do we get back to where we were?"

(This story is NO ONE I know!!! Just patterns I've seen.)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Does this sound familiar?

When couples get married, they don't set out to be strangers 12 years down the road.

But they don't set out to be intentional in their marriage either!

So there's one mis-step...maybe a deep hurt that is never addressed, or a hidden secret that one is unwilling to share. It could be that children start to consume their time and they forget to take time for their marriage. Or maybe a childhood pain is "buried", but impacts the emotional well-being of one of them. It's easier to let TV, computers, ministry, friends, other activities, or work be more important than connecting with their mate. Or maybe there's some tension in the marriage that overtime becomes just an elephant in the room.

Whatever the mis-step, whatever the misunderstand, whatever the pain...the brick wall is built. Brick by brick the couple builds a tall, thick wall between them. They don't talk, they resent, they get mad, they seethe, they may try but don't understand each other...so they stop trying. They turn on "cruise control" thinking, "If we just stay busyness enough we don't have to deal with this marriage."

Then it's easier to just be self-focused so they don't tap into the pain they're causing. It's easier to stay disconnected than take energy to focus on their mate.

But does this resemble Christ and His Bride, the Church, at all!?

God created marriage to share the gospel, yet we've twisted marriage and the beauty of the covenant into a self-serving union. We look to be "happy" and to have our needs met. We've let satan sell us the lie that busyness is the norm. We don't remain teachable, so we get stuck in our pattern of treating each other as roommates and not as husband and wife.

These patterns I have seen have welled up in me a passion so deep...a passion for God-honoring, Christ-centered, Holy Spirit-filled marriages where the husband and wife are serving one another selflessly. A marriage that screams the gospel to all who come in contact with this couple!

A marriage that thrives requires revived hearts to be directed under the mighty hand of God, where there is no thought of self, only the promotion of the gospel!

The man would be the servant leader in his home, willing to be teachable and be 100% emotionally and spiritually plugged into his wife and kids. Where his number 1 goal is to protect and provide, not just physically, but emotionally and spiritually. His thought life is pure and there is not a hint of immorality. He lives with no hidden sin and full of integrity!

The wife would willing serve her family selflessly, being the helpmate she was created to be. She would embrace biblical womanhood and the freedom that comes from that. She would know that she sets the emotional tone of her home, so she would be intentional to work through past pains and hurts, so she is emotionally free to lavish love on her family. She is a life giver to all she comes in contact with.

If more non-believers saw these types of marriages...the more hands-on the gospel would seem! But when they see no difference, what is the need for a Savior?

Thursday, February 16, 2012

02/16/12 - Sanctification and Grace

Last night we thought it would be fun to watch the movie we saw on our first date. We got our snacks, pop, blankets, and turned on the movie. Within a minute or two my husband said, "We saw this on our first date?"

I said, "Yeah, what were we thinking?"

After about 5 minutes we turned the movie off and threw it away.

We both were a bit amazed that we would have gone to see that movie. It was fill with sex, drinking, murder, swear words, and scantily dressed women. (Mind you this is a PG-13 movie we saw and no I won't share the name...just say it was a very popular movie when we started dating nine years ago and that many went to see this movie).

Then God reminded us of His grace and sanctification! What wasn't that "raunchy" to us 9 years ago, repulsed us now! I wish I could say that 9 years ago we walked out of that movie theater, but I am not the same person I was then. God is growing us, changing us, pruning us, and may He continue to do so!

Have you ever noticed that something that once was acceptable to you, now repulses you?

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

02/14/12 - Criticism

When someone is critical of me, or openly criticizes me how I respond is not an indication of their perception of me, it is an indication of the level of pride in my heart.

Here's a good quiz to see how much pride is in your heart: 41 Evidences of Pride

This list is one of those ouch moments I've had many times. But the more I cling to God's grace, the more I beg for Him to sanctify me, the more I am able to embrace the criticism as God's gift (yes sandpaper on the heart is a gift!)

Monday, February 13, 2012

02/13/12 - Valentine's Day

Does this holiday sorta make your stomach churn? Another year, lonely, and dateless?

Yes, you can take this holiday and have yourself a good old pity party! You can get together with your other single friends and lament your sad state of singleness OR you can get radical and do something to lift your attitude.

Can I challenge you to serve a marriage within your church family or family? Yes, that's right...serve! Look outside yourself tomorrow and selfless serve through babysitting, giving a gift card for a couple to go out to eat, provide a meal for a couple...just serve, 100% and with complete selflessness!

Trust me...I was a single till I was 28. I had plenty of Valentine pity parties and what a shame I wasted those days! I could have been a blessing to a couple and serve their marriage. I was just upset they had something I wanted. How narrow minded of me and completely selfish!!

If you want a happy, satisfying marriage someday the number 1 quality you will want is selflessness...why not start today learning more how to set "self" aside and serve!

Friday, February 10, 2012

02/10/12 - Quick to Listen

Lately that verse in James: Be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to get angry (James 1:19), has been repeating over and over and over in my head.

Often times we do just the opposite: we're quick to speak and slow to listen.

What would change in your daily interactions if you were quick to listen? Quick to see both sides of an argument. Quick to not jump to conclusions. Quick to not judge, but gather facts.

May I be quicker to listen and slower to speak today!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

02/08/12 - Marriage Post

I know many of my readers are not married yet, but I recently wrote an article for a MOPS newsletter called: Intentional Marriage.

I hope this encourages you, whether married or single.

Intentional Marriage

Do you remember the first time you laid eyes on your husband? Do you remember what you wore on the first date? Do you remember your first kiss with him? When is the last time you and your husband talked about the story of your courtship? When is the last time you had a date?

When we’re up to our necks in poopy diapers, dirty dishes, paying bills, “projects”, and life, one area that can quickly be put on the back burner is our marriage. God has stirred in my heart a passion for marriage! To see people have deeply satisfying, God-honoring marriage, not just roommate-type marriage.

But this type of marriage doesn’t come naturally. Actually if we aren’t intentional in our marriages we will drift towards isolation and loneliness. This summer I will celebrate my 9th anniversary with my husband, so I’ve just begun to learn about marriage, but I want to share some of the things we’ve done to protect our marriage and fully enjoy the oneness God designed for marriage!

1)We have a place that is our marriage sanctuary. This “place” is our bedroom! It’s a kid-free zone. There’s no pictures of them or toys. Hanging on the walls are pictures of us and tell the story of our love! We have been intentional to keep this place special and sacred for us to connect there!

2)We pray together daily!

3)There’s no topic off limits for discussion. We’ve cultivated a marriage where we can openly discuss any issues and share our thoughts openly and freely. This, of course, means laying aside pride so we can share without getting defensive. (To some this is very difficult, especially if they come from a family that never talked about important emotional issues.)

4) We've asked another couple to be our “blind spot” friends. Basically they have the “right” to ask us anything and we share freely with them any arguments or mis-understandings we’ve had. We try to get together with them two times a month to make sure we’re “doing” life with them. They pray for us and there’s nothing hidden from them. We’re trying to live as honestly and transparently with this couple to avoid any pitfalls that may be in our blind spot. This has taken a great deal of intentionality, with both couples!

5)We’re always working towards oneness. John and I try to evaluate what we’re doing through the question: Does this cause us to have oneness? This can include: ministry, work, hobbies, TV watching habits, vacations, extra-curricular activities, how we spend money, church involvement, raising our boys, and even bedtime. The more we keep this question in the front of our thinking, the more we’re able to filter out what is important to our marriage. (Oneness is not sameness.)

6)An important aspect of protecting our marriage has been dealing with our own emotional “junk”. This may not sound like a way to protect our marriage, but knowing that we’ve worked through and dealt with emotional pain allows us both to feel freedom in this area. (If you’re wondering if you’ve worked through stuff, ask “Can I openly talk about this past issue or pain?”)

7)We go out of our way to laugh together! Laughter is like a cold drink of water on a hot summer day!

8)John and I don’t communicate with members of the opposite sex without the other knowing about it. For example, if I send an email to a male, I BCC John so he sees every communication going from me to a male. This is one way to not allow even a shadow to creep into our marriage! We also don’t spend any one-on-one time with a member of the opposite sex! (This type of openness also includes full access to any and all password protected accounts we may have separately.)

Again, my passion is to see marriage thrive! Not just my marriage, but your marriage as well! I pray these help you find new ways to be intentional in your marriage!

Monday, February 6, 2012

02/06/12 - Blind Spot Friends

Do you have a friend in your life who you have given permission to share any blind spot they may see in you?

We all have blind spots. We all have spiritual and emotional areas in our lives that are hard for us to see.

Part of being in the family of God is allowing people close enough to see those blind spots and share them with you.

My husband and I have invited another couple to be these blind spot friends to us (and vice versa). We've had to be intentional in sharing our lives, our struggles, our past, and our hearts with each other.

Don't think you don't have a blind spot...you do! So seek a close friend (of the same sex or a couple if you are married), pull down the masks, and let them be "iron sharpening iron" in your life!

Proverbs 27:6 Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.