Monday

When You Feel Like a Failure as a Wife

I don’t know why it’s such a struggle doing and being what our husbands need us to do and to be.

Is it selfishness? Laziness? Neglect? Misplaced priorities?

Yes, I think it is.

Selfishness because we prefer other ways of showing love—ways that are easy. Ways that fit our nature. We can do them in our sleep, check off the boxes, and feel like good wives. 

Except it doesn’t feel like love to our husbands, so it defeats the whole purpose. Giving love our husbands can’t receive is pointless—like cooking a steak for a vegetarian. We can put all the love in the world into making it, but a vegan won’t get anything out of a steak except a greater hunger and a whole lot of frustration.

Laziness because learning a different love language takes time. And effort. And commitment. And discipline. And we want the easy way. It’s frustrating to speak those newly conjugated love language verbs and see a blank look on his face. Or worse, a snicker, or the drooping shoulders of disappointment. To know we’ve missed the mark again. Right word, wrong timing. Or right timing, wrong approach. Or the wrong language entirely. Comment allez-vous? Muy bien, gracias. 

Rivers take the path of least resistance, but for our marriages to be healthy, we must be rivers that carve a path through a rock canyon—the flint-hard stone of our own sinful nature that defaults to lazy whenever things seem to be going OK.

Neglect because we take them for granted. They’ve been faithful, loyal, and hard working for so long. The thought that they would be anything else seldom crosses our minds. They’ve done a good job of making us feel loved. How can we be failing so miserably?

Misplaced priorities because the tyranny of the urgent screams loudly while they only sigh. Until we reach a crisis point—then the anger echoes loudly against the cold walls of our bedroom, and we wonder how we’ve reached this place.

Again.

Hopeless.

Hopeless.

Hopeless.

You'll never change. 

They might say it to us in words dripping with disappointment and compromise. Settling for what they think they have a chance of getting but don’t really want. A consolation when they really want the grand prize.

Their hopelessness almost sucks us in. We almost believe them because we know the weakness of our flesh and the truth of Romans 7: “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.”

But then the still small Voice whispers Philippians 1:6 into our hearts, “He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it.”

We realize we can’t conquer laziness, selfishness, neglect, and misplaced priorities. But God can.

“This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope. It is of the LORD'S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness” (Lam. 3:21-23).

God began a good work in us and in our marriages, and by God’s good grace, he will be faithful to complete it.

Instead of hopeless, we can be hopeful.


If you're struggling in your marriage, here are two great resources:

7 Things He'll Never Tell  You, But He Wants You to Know by Dr. Kevin Leman

The Marriage You've Always Wanted by Dr. Gary Chapman





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Thursday

Satan's Game -- A Guest Post by Kelli Hughett

One of the best parts of summer as a child was visiting friends. Sleeping over was the best, but even a short visit to a friend's house was a treat. 

Today I'd like to introduce you to Kelli Hughett, a new friend and fellow Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas author who's visiting my blog today. Like the summer visits of long ago, I hope you enjoy Kelli's time with us today.



Satan's Game

Have you ever played Jenga? Each player takes turns pulling a block out of a large stack, tugging ever so carefully so as not to upset the tower. If you cause the tower to fall, you lose. 

Sometimes, I’m afraid we play Jenga with our faith. We stack our towers with spiritual building blocks—prayer, Bible reading, fellowship, meditation, service, obedience, and belief. 

When the pressures of life assault our tower, however, we begin to play Satan’s game instead. We feel the pressures of time and commitment and believe the lie that if we remove a block from our life stack, things will improve. Prayer is often the first block we slide from the tower. 

At first we don’t even miss it. The base of our tower remains strong and unmoving. Then more pressure comes. More defeat, more struggle, more disappointment, less money. 

We slide other blocks from the tower, thinking we can use the room for other things, but the slot remains empty because nothing can fill the space where faith fits in our lives. 

We pull blocks out left and right, but we’re not stupid. We try to slide blocks from all sides, counting on perfect balance to keep our tower aloft. 

After a while, the tower begins to sway precariously. 

This is Satan’s favorite part of the game. A sneeze, a tiny tremor of the table, even a slight breeze can cause the tower of our faith to fall to ruin. Make no mistake, he will take this advantage. 


How is your faith tower doing today? Is it solid and strong, or does it feel like the slightest breeze will blow it over? Is Satan’s game about to topple your tower? 

Or maybe your tower’s already crashed to the ground, and you’re sitting in the rubble wondering how it happened. 

May I encourage you? Give your blocks to the Master and stop playing Satan’s game. First Corinthians 3:11 reminds us that Jesus Christ is the foundation of our faith. 

“For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.” 

Jesus Christ is the true foundation. 

First Corinthians 3:13-14 says: “their work will be shown for what it is, because the day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person's work. If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. 

We want our work to survive the fire. We want our tower to survive the pressures of this life. 

Dear friend, build on Jesus. Put the blocks back one by one, line upon line. Cement the blocks with love and grace. Put prayer back in. Slide in Bible Study. Tap meditation into place. Hammer obedience home. 

Stop playing Satan’s game and build on Jesus, the true foundation. 



Kelli Hughett holds a degree in Women’s Ministry from Bear Valley Bible Institute of Denver. In addition to teaching women, Kelli is a fiction writer and homeschool mom. She and her husband, Kirt, work with the church in Windsor, Colorado where they’re raising their three kids. Kelli loves agricultural landscapes, the Broncos, and reading the classics. Her debut novel, Red Zone, is available on Amazon. You can read more devotional thoughts or book a speaking engagement with Kelli at www.kellihughett.com. 






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Monday

Obeying God Even When It Costs You Something

Richard* made a faith promise pledge to the building project at his church. He committed to give a certain amount of money every month for two years.

Then the stock market crashed.

Instead of having a comfortable income that allowed him to meet his family’s needs and many of their wants, he now had an income that barely covered the basics. With fifteen months still left of his pledge to the building project, he wondered if he should continue to give.

“You need to look out for your family,” one friend said. Richard knew this was true, but he also knew it wasn’t a question of providing his family’s needs. It was their wants they’d be doing without if he kept his commitment.

“God will understand,” another counseled. “After all, he’s the one who allowed your income to be reduced in the first place.”

But the more he thought about reneging on his promise, the more uncomfortable he became. He thought about the instruction he’d read recently in Numbers 30:2. “When a man makes a vow to the LORD or takes an oath to obligate himself by a pledge, he must not break his word but must do everything he said.”

He thought about how good God was, how he had always provided for him and his family, and how he was still providing, even during a difficult economic downturn. He thought about how Jesus had commended the widow for giving out of her poverty, and knew he was far from poor.

One morning, seeking counsel from the Scripture, Richard read the account of King Amaziah in 2 Chronicles 25. Amaziah was gathering an army of fighting men from among the people of Judah. A great military threat loomed on the horizon, and he wanted to be prepared. He wondered if his 300,000 men would be enough to defend the country.

Fearful, he decided to shore up his forces by hiring 100,000 mercenaries from the country of Israel—to the tune of one hundred talents of silver. To put this in perspective, this equals about ten million dollars in today’s economy.

Before the ink had dried on the payroll check, however, the man of God came knocking on the door of his throne room. “Don’t let the army of Israel go with you, King Amaziah,” the prophet said. “God is not with Israel. If you do, God will make you fall before the enemy.” Then he scolded Amaziah for his lack of faith. “Don’t you realize ‘God has power to help and to overthrow’?”

Amaziah was cut to the heart, and rightfully so, for God had always been faithful to him. He’d never given him reason to doubt, and certainly no reason to put his trust in human power rather than in the Lord’s.

But there was still the matter of the ten million dollars.

“What shall we do about the hundred talents which I have given to the troops of Israel?”

And the man of God answered, ‘The Lord is able to give you much more than this.’

“So Amaziah discharged the troops that had come to him from Ephraim, to go back home.” He led his significantly smaller army into battle, and, with the Lord’s help, they conquered their enemy.

When Richard read this account, he knew what the Lord was telling him do.

He called a family meeting, explained the financial circumstances they were facing, and told the children about the commitment he and his wife had made to the Lord. Then he shared with his family how the Lord had spoken to him through his Bible reading.

“It’s going to be challenging for the next 15 months,” he told them. “We’ll have everything we need, but I’m going to have to say no when you ask me for money for extras. God has been so faithful to provide for our family all these years. I know we can trust him.”

And trust him they did. The kids were great, although occasionally they’d whine and complain. Sometimes Richard felt like a terrible father when they’d ask him for money to go out with their friends for pizza and he’d say no.

Eventually his daughter sought babysitting jobs and his son mowed lawns to earn pocket money. They invited friends into their home for games and dinner instead of eating out at a restaurant. They borrowed movies from the library, popped microwave popcorn, and piled up together on the couch. He and his wife brainstormed creative, free date nights. They grew closer together as a family, more creative, and much more resourceful. When they did splurge on a birthday dinner out or a special outing, they no longer took it for granted.

When fifteen months had passed and the day came to write the final pledge check to the church, Richard gathered his family around the table. He told them how proud he was of them. He recounted the many ways God had shown himself faithful over the past year and how they had lacked nothing essential. When he took stock of where they were, compared to a year before, he realized God’s Word to him had been true:

“The Lord is able to give you much more than this.”

Are you afraid to do what’s right because it might cost you something? Are you hesitant to obey what God wants you to do because it involves financial risk? Take the words of the man of God to heart: “The Lord is able to give you much more than this.”

Step out in faith today.



*This is a true story.





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Thursday

Cease Striving - A Guest Post by Nan Jones

Today I'd like to introduce guest blogger Nan Jones. Nan and I met at the Writers Advance Boot Camp conference in 2014, but I knew a lot about her before we met. I'd even been privy to the private details of her life as a pastor's wife.

Are you curious?


As faculty at Writers Advance Boot Camp 2014, I had the privilege of serving as a judge in the conference's annual writers' contest. Nan had entered her book proposal, Perils of a Pastor's Wife. Of all the proposals I read that year, I gave Nan's the highest score. Her ability to paint vivid word pictures, her transparency about the struggles pastors and their families face, and her faith-filled encouragement to her sisters in the ministry had produced a manuscript I felt deserved the top prize--a publishing contract.


But I was only one of several judges. Would the other judges be equally impressed? 



As you can see in the photo, I wasn't surprised at all when the conference director announced the winner, but Nan sure was.


It's my pleasure to share one of Nan's devotions and tell you a little bit about her book. It's been quite a journey to get to this place, and I'm delighted to be part of its launch.






Cease Striving



I came in from work frazzled and weary with my insides running a million miles an hour like a gerbil on its wheel. Frustrated tears trickled down my cheeks, releasing the pressure of a busy and emotional day. I prayed. I sighed. I prayed. I cried.

I closed my eyes and spoke the name of Jesus.

Jesus ... softer still ... Jesus.

He began to quiet me with His love. In my spirit I felt the Lord nudging me to seek solace on my porch "sanctuary". I live in the mountains of North Carolina far away from city lights and traffic. Countless hours of communion with the Lord have occurred while aimlessly rocking on my beloved porch.

I snuggled into the corner of the porch swing. With my toe, I gently moved the swing back and forth … back and forth … the simple rhythm soothing my spirit, refreshing my tired body. I closed my eyes and thought about the Lord.

You are wonderful, Lord. Your love embraces me with a comforting warmth. I'm so thankful for You.

I sat quietly, closed my eyes, and steadied my heart. A sweet breeze kicked up, rustling the wind chimes, sending them into song. A celestial melody filled the air. The cardinal chirping in a wild cherry across the way joined in. Out back a woodpecker drummed on our apple tree, adding percussion to the symphony. I'm certain the strings section buzzed in and out of my irises. Oh my! What a heavenly chorus of praise to the Creator. 

I could sense his lovely presence surrounding me.

Because of Jesus, we can know our God. We can know his voice and his love. Isn't that amazing? What love is this that we can walk with the Creator of the Universe? What love, indeed!

I kept my eyes closed and listened to nature's song of praise. In the quiet of the moment I heard him whisper, Be still and know that I am God.

I relaxed in the arms of Jesus. My restless spirit ceased its striving. The constant motion of my thoughts submitted to his peace, his calm, even to his authority. For it is in the stillness that our spirit recognizes his supreme authority over all things that concern us and suddenly we realize that it's not who we are or what we are up against. No. It's all about Who is with us and Who has inscribed us on the palm of his hand.

But we must learn to be still. Cease striving. Rest in his lovely presence.


"Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth! The Lord of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah" ~ Psalm 46:10-11 

If you hear the Lord's whisper today beckoning you to come and sit with him awhile, will you heed his call? Will you leave the dishes in the sink, dry off your hands and run to him? Will you turn of Facebook and your phone and focus on Jesus? He will meet you right where you are and he will turn your mourning into dancing, your ashes into beauty and your crazy, busy life into a calm refreshing pool of Living Water.



Nan Jones is an author/speaker who uses the words of her heart to assist fellow Christians in discovering the presence of God in their darkest hour. Her devotional blog, Morning Glory, has become a place of community for Christians to find encouragement in God’s Word and comfort in his Presence. She is thrilled to announce her debut book, The Perils of a Pastor's Wife released June 30, 2015 by Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas.

When Nan is not writing, she enjoys leading prayer retreats, bible studies or sharing God’s love as keynote speaker for special events. You may visit Nan at her website or her blog, Morning Glory

Nan has also created a facebook community page, Seeing Beyond The Veil, to provide a place for folks to go and get away from the chaos for a few moments and focus on Jesus through scripture, worship, testimony, and inspirational quotes. For personal communication you may email Nan at nan@jubilantlight.com.

 The Perils of a Pastor's Wife is available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.


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Monday

When Guilt Overwhelms You

King David’s pride and presumption in ordering a census of Israel caused 70,000 mighty warriors to lose their lives (1 Chr. 21). Paul’s violent persecution of the infant church played a part in Stephen’s death and countless others’ beatings and incarcerations (Acts 9). 

I read both stories recently and wept as I imagined how these men must have felt. I imagined David’s overwhelming feelings of sorrow and guilt. SEVENTY THOUSAND innocent people’s blood on his hands. By today’s standards, a tragedy of this magnitude would wipe out every person in a city the size of Richmond, Virginia. 

Listen to David’s gut wrenching lament: 

"Was it not I who ordered the fighting men to be counted? I am the one who has sinned and done wrong. These are but sheep. What have they done? O LORD my God, let your hand fall upon me and my family, but do not let this plague remain on your people."

And Saul. He wasn't jailing murderers or incarcerating thieves or political prisoners, he was persecuting God’s people. People whose only crime was loving Jesus. People who were praying for those who persecuted them. 

Picture him, consenting to brave Stephen’s death and holding the clothing of the murderers and watching as the stones struck his body until he cried out, “Father, do not lay this sin to their account.” Watching Stephen take his last struggling breath. 

Then, while the blood was still wet on his hands, he “was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord's disciples. He went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem” (Acts 9:1). 

Throughout Paul’s writings we see evidence that he never forgot his sinful past: 

I persecuted the followers of this Way to their death, arresting both men and women and throwing them into prison” (Acts 22:4). 

“For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God” (1 Cor. 15:9). 

“For you have heard of my previous way of life in Judaism, how intensely I persecuted the church of God and tried to destroy it” (Gal. 1:13). 

Yet David, a believer who sinned horribly, and Paul, an unbeliever with a heinous past, didn’t allowed their sins to define, defeat, or render them useless for the kingdom of God. They understood the truth of 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sin, (God) is faithful and just to forgive us our sin and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 

They confessed, repented, and accepted God’s cleansing grace. 


Listen to David’s prayer in Psalm 51:1-2: 

“Have mercy on me, O God, 
according to your unfailing love; 
according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. 
Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin." 

And Paul’s humble gratitude in 1 Corinthians 15:10: 

“For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle . . . But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect.” 

If you’re struggling with guilt over something you did as an unbeliever, or a sin you’ve committed as a Christian, don’t allow Satan to imprison you in guilt and shame. Do what David and Paul did—confess your sin, forsake it, and accept the forgiveness Christ extends to you from the cross. 

Then walk in the confidence that God has separated your sins as far as the east is from the west, to remember them no more. 

Mercy there was great and grace was free. 
Pardon there was multiplied to me. 
There my burdened soul found liberty
At Calvary.* 


*William Newell’s hymn, “At Calvary.”

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 Hungry for God Starving for Time
You want to connect with God, but in the craziness of life, it’s just not happening. You want practical, biblical answers to situations you face every day, but you don’t have hours to pore over Scripture.

You need a resource that answers the questions you’re afraid to ask out loud. Questions like:

• Is my situation hopeless?
• If God already knows what he’s going to do, why bother to pray? 
• Why have you allowed this to happen to me? 
• No one appreciates what I do. Why shouldn’t I quit? 

Each devotion begins with a Facetime question and ends with a biblical answer wrapped in a modern day parable. Like a spiritual power bar, Hungry for God … Starving for Time is packed with enough scriptural nutrition to get you through the day. Wherever you are—in break rooms, carpool lines, or wherever you can snatch five minutes of quiet reflection—Hungry for God … Starving for Time, 5-Minute Devotions for Busy Women is for you.