If you want a better marriage in the New Year resolve to do First Things First…Part One in a series

Would you agree that many of us who claim the name Christian often leave for last a foundation of first things first?

We get saved, join a church or bible study, start serving. Outwardly we assume the Christian mantle yet behind closed doors our lives and marriages lack peace and joy or maybe are complete mayhem, and we wonder why we repeat dysfunctional cycles.

We know something is wrong and we say we want to change, but our human tendency towards pleasing the self or being impatient and lazy makes us crave the easy way, the short cut. We long for instant improvement but aren’t willing to invest more than the minimum in time and effort. We seek the secret formula or a surfeit of self-help tips. But to arrive where God would have us go requires a long obedience beginning with a foundation of first things first.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. John 1:1-4

We need to understand that God loves us and longs for us. For you! And He invites us to know Him so intimately that we really will be changed, not just outwardly, but deep in the darkened chambers of our broken hearts. He calls us to come and be with Him so that we can be the man or woman — the husband or wife — that not only looks like Him, but is like Him. Behind closed doors!

God desires for us to grow up, to go way beyond repeating rote words of some sinner’s prayer, and follow His Way. It takes a moment to make a decision for Christ, but a lifetime of surrender and sacrifice to become a true disciple.

And discipleship, which makes Father’s heart smile, is the antidote to divorce when both husband and wife commit to becoming Little Christs — truly, really, deeply. For when we train ourselves up in a spirit of discipline and follow the commands of Christ day in and day out we will change over time and our marriages will get better and our babies who are always watching, listening and catching every good and bad thing that mom and dad toss their way, will grow up happier and more whole. Good seeds yielding good crops.

So with the year a clean slate, a fresh start, are you willing to commit to working towards true change in your heart and home? Will you leave behind your childish things in order to go on to full maturity? To please God more and ultimately reap the blessings of living life His way as a son or daughter disciple of God?

He has such good plans for us, desires to give us good gifts, if only we will believe God and trust that Father knows best…

Please stay tuned for the First Things First series with practical helps for deepening discipleship and by extension improving your marriage.
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When your marriage ends, motherhood doesn’t…Tips for single moms

MotherhoodThere were times when he worked late. And back then I wasn’t very understanding so I complained that I felt like a single mom doing all the work myself.

A few years and more than a few fights later I found myself left alone with a baby and his two little brothers.

My former spouse had had enough of my brokenness expressed as anger and selfishness and he filed for divorce.

And now I was a single mom for real.

I lived to eat my earlier words, nearly choking at times from holding back the tears as exhaustion, fear, regret and more fear enveloped me.

Divorce left me devastated.

For two days after he left all I could do was lie on the sofa, nuke mac and cheese, change diapers and pop in a new video as soon as one ended.

And I felt like my life had ended.

Then on the third day I realized my role of mom was far from over…

For the rest of the story, please click and join me at

Soli Deo Gloria Sisterhood 

where I am guest posting today 

and sharing tips I learned in the trenches to

help you cope as a single mom.

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When your marriage really hurts …

216 VIEW

Only His love will help two very imperfect, very broken, very overstressed individuals find the will to obey enough to choose to love regardless of feelings that fluctuate constantly.

For the truth remains that you made a vow to stand by each other for better and for worse. {But I am not talking about wives taking their husband’s abuse and believing God wants them to stay when it is unsafe for them or their children!}

And God puts people through fire to burn off the dross that is buried deep and can go for days simmering on the back burner.  God wants these toxins to come to the surface and bubble over so His Grace can wipe up the mess, ultimately making spouses stronger, more resilient, less touchy.

Love never fails is not just words. And God’s desire is that marriage reveals the mystery and intimacy of Christ and His true believers.

But sometimes love hurts and the hurts often manifest in marriage.

And you will always have a choice to act in the right, God honoring way regardless of how you feel.

That’s why it’s vital to bring your feelings under God’s control because feelings can lead to making wrong choices and acting in wrong ways.

And your mind finds it easy to listen to the lies.

Lies from long ago and lies from yesterday. Loveless lies someone else told you and lies you tell yourself. Sometimes over and over.

Stuck.

And sometimes is just seems so very messed up that partners feel they want to jump ship and dive into the swirling cesspool of statistics where one in two marriages fail.

How that makes satan happy.

I am sure Father shakes His head and it breaks His heart yet in His patient, unending, all-knowing love He understands that love is strengthened in fire.

For fire burns flesh.

And that really hurts when you are head over heels in love with yourself.

But God!

Our glorious good God, good King, good Daddy. Not like your daddy from when you were little, though.

Abba gives the freedom to be perfectly imperfect and preposterously awful sometimes yet He never stops loving you. He will never give up on you — or me –no matter how much one messes his or her diaper. He longs for us to become like Jesus.

Grace.

STAGE COACH PASS

And always morning light and new mercies tender that will reveal that nothing is unto death…except death and that is really the beginning of the best.

Whatever you are going through right now in your marriage remember…this too shall pass.

And marriage is never perfect and spouses the world over since time began can get so tired of so very much. And they just want to get away from each other and maybe even forget about each other.

And they may scream hateful words in the heat of moments evil. Sometimes they scream it and then demand apologies from others for perhaps saying similar things, yet never say they are sorry or wrong.

Hurling insults and calling names that bruise tender hearts and stick in the memory and pretty soon if someone tells you over and over that you are this or you are that, well you start believing that lie.

But you are not! You are a sinner saved. And Christ loves you even if you spouse checks out — figuratively or literally.

You will remain standing! You will not fall down when they leave for you stand with the One who holds you forever.

Never letting you go. Remembering you are just dust.

And the names He calls you are Beloved and Precious and Child.

SUNFLOWERS

It is not in the NOT fighting that a marriage is made strong.

A marriage grows deeper roots with every conflict FACED and RESOLVED. 

For marriage is not about perfection or about running away from problems. It is about meeting them in the strength and power of God no matter how poorly one’s efforts in that area.

Marriage is not about isolation but about oneness even when you do not like your spouse. {Cool off periods are needed however} but God’s admonition is not to go to bed angry. A powerful command that forces a man and a women to bend their will to HIS.

Marriage is about admitting one’s frailties and saying I’m sorry and sometimes saying I’m sorry more than once for the same issue. And you are not a failure even if you make the same mistake more than once. Not if you keep getting up and trying again. Growing stronger each time.

One day at a time.

And marriage is about knowing that a vow is a vow for a reason.

Marriage can be hard and it takes commitment and work to make it work year in and year out, day after dreary, discouraging day sometimes.

For in the working together for the common good of serving the Lord in your marriage two broken people become whole.

And holy.

With every choice to love a momentarily unlovable spouse — fully anticipating that same love in return when it is your turn to play the jerk. Not riding a high pony, waving a big stick and shouting in your spouse’s face.

Marriage is about humbly saying I was wrong.

I am sorry.

Would you please forgive me?

And asking forgiveness is different than merely apologizing.

Asking forgiveness is about humbling one’s heart…

~sheila

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When broken people marry…and tips to turn a wounded marriage into something wonderful

When broken people marry it can take a while to step out of the shadows and fit all the pieces together.

Before our paths converged three summers ago, and we fell in love and eloped, our lives had been littered with divorces, broken relationships and great pain going all the way back to childhood.

And we count our unexpected union later in life a gift both sweet and scorching as God uses our marriage as a crucible where the dross in each of us burns away.

For we are lovers who limp being made whole as we walk each day with God who renders us holy.

But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
Matthew 6:33

And wounded marriages like ours — and maybe yours — need the Wonderful Counselor day by day to heal and discover the wonder of wedded oneness.

Because life can be stressful.

In the months leading up to the recent sale of our home and downsizing and empty nesting for good, stress levels peaked. And there were moments heated when we stepped on each others toes in a demanding dance that left us breathless.

With fighting whispered late in the evening {we had a houseful of grown kids for the summer} as partners tired and touchy growled irritable. Frail and fallen, my Michael and me failed to love each other well in those moments.

Love is kind and patient,
never jealous, boastful,
    proud, or rude.
Love isn’t selfish
    or quick tempered.
It doesn’t keep a record
    of wrongs that others do.
Love rejoices in the truth,
    but not in evil.
Love is always supportive,

    loyal, hopeful,
    and trusting.
Love never fails!
1 Corinthians 13

But God’s perfect love never fails.

We can learn to love better, stronger, deeper if we remember that the way we treat our spouse is the way we are treating God. And marriage is a picture window into the mystery and unity of God and His Believers.

And then stop with the bad behavior and begin anew.

Because God created us to love and want love and deep down we desire a really great marriage.

One where we trust our partner’s love and commitment, safe to be the unique man or woman God has made us to be unlike the house where maybe we grew up and it wasn’t safe to just be you. Instead you had to wear a mask and play a role just to survive.

A marriage where we can laugh and cry and disagree and still remain strong as covenant partners not fearing that to dissent could mean the end of the relationship or at least a shunning for a spell, or in an abusive marriage a black eye.

A marriage that keeps us and our spouse clinging in the best way to each others’ love and transparency. With us serving and forgiving and all of it producing peace and an ever-deepening best friendship, great sex and fun. No longer living in fear, hiding from the family secret and lying to preserve co-dependency not true love.

God says marriage is a blessing and spouses can transform wounded marriages into wonderful ones if both…

~will choose to.

~are submitted, respectful and loving to God and each other.

~follow Biblical principles for marriage and love.

~continue to choose each other over and over.

~seek to connect more instead of distance from their spouse.

~grow up and take responsibility for their own bad and work together for the greater good.

But so many of us don’t want to change and grow up.

We just want to control in our fear and utter powerlessness sometimes not even understanding we. are. that. afraid.

And when we forget that marriage is meant to model Christ and the Church then old triggers and new challenges collide with all the pressures of life and the taunting of the enemy and our own selfish self and marriage becomes a shoot-out at the not okay corral.

Words fly mean. Tempers flare hot. Old patterns repeat. Doors slam. People walk out for a while. Sometimes forever.

We play the blame game and the holier-than-though game and the he said-she said game like spoiled babies fighting in the sandbox.

We forget the scriptures that remind us how to love and be one in the Spirit.

As God’s prisoner, then, I beg you to live lives worthy of your high calling. Accept life with humility and patience, making allowances for each other because you love each other. Make it your aim to be at one in the Spirit, and you will inevitably be at peace with one another.
Ephesians 4:1-3

The Holy Spirit grieves and only God can clean up our marital mess. For with our free will we choose to battle with our spouse and give into the sin the crouches at our door, each of us the worst of sinners.

While we cannot blame our past for who we choose to be at present, many of us started life in dysfunctional families, getting wounded early. Abandonment issues, fear and lack of trust adversely affect a marriage.

And the deep ache inside — the one so many men and women believe will be eradicated by the others’ love — is still there.

And spouses ever restless, running and hoping, keep failing. Sinning repeatedly like waves crashing against a rocky coastline until His ocean of grace swallows us up.

Only Jesus is big enough to walk on water and fill all of our empty places that scream in the storm.

Not our husband.

Not our wife.

And the blood of Jesus and God’s love that covers a multitude of sins allow us to grow together naked and unashamed in marriage because we are His and we are forgiven.

They overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony…
Revelation 12:11

And our imperfect perfect story that God is using to set us free is freely shared with you. We are not any of us broken beyond repair — not even my Michael and me with six divorces between us. We are more than conquerors when we are held together by a three strand cord.

So let us not despair, fear or grow hopeless for depression robs our joy and renders us deaf to the whispers of the Spirit and all we hear is the devil’s cacophony. And his words, they are all phony.

You’re too wounded to thrive in marriage.

You’re too old. {Or maybe you’re too young?}

You’ve made too many mistakes.

Your spouse is all wrong for you.

You’ve been divorced too many times to create a God honoring union.

You should just give up because you will never get this right.

And when husbands and wives get to a place of marital meltdown — with satan holding them upside down over a deep dark pit — the turning point can come when we choose to lift and separate.

Lifting our eyes, hearts and thoughts to God and off the circumstance.

And sometimes going our separate ways for a bit to cool off. {Setting reasonable limits for time apart.}

Alone praying for humble, forgiving hearts that seek to come back to God and each other.

United again and stronger as conflicts resolve through mutual submission, respect, love and forgiveness.

Sorry.

For we are the apples of His eye and Him loving us so much that He died on that awful wonderful cross to set us free from sin.

And our hearts ache with the sheer beauty of His perfect love for us His imperfect, broken children.

And His love covering us golden helps me and my Michael to humble as He heals us. We fist bump our matching gold bands then link pinkies in a secret handshake that reminds us that we are unshakeable as we love in the light of His love never ending.

And the coming together pushes pride off the throne and we fall in love again deeper and more real.

Continuing forward to fight evil brooding inside and around us for evil never stops, never gets enough. Remembering that we do not fight against flesh and blood. And our beloved other is our very own flesh and when we fight as husband and wife we are tearing ourselves apart limb by loveless limb.

And that hurts terribly.

Us.

And God.

But His grace.

It covers us in His glory, filling the great divide and cementing the marriage bond.

And the victory won at the cross unshackles the power of two in One…

Is your marriage falling apart? Has your marriage ended? Are you wracked with pain over your brokenness? A free mentoring session can help.

Sheila Kimball Mentoring encourages you to heal your heart and move forward from where you are today to a much better life based in an abiding relationship with God. CLICK my image now to get started on healing your heart and mending your marriage or life.

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When a husband heaves a heavy sigh…and how wives can stop being so angry and abusive

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He’s dragging up the stairs at the end of a long day.

He can’t imagine that anyone is listening to him.

To those hurts in his heart.

To the fears.

And the frustrations.

And a sigh escapes his soul that break’s his Father’s heart.

For the Bible says that marriage is supposed to be a blessing and the man that finds a wife finds a good thing,

And he loves you, he truly does. He’s standing on the vows he made to you. And everyday he’s hoping that things will change.

Because he’s really tired.

And wives are to be their husband’s helper. Making a man’s life better, sweeter, gentler.

But you, dear wounded wife, are not helping your man.

For day in and day out, from sun up to sun down — no matter how kind, giving, patient he is with you, your tongue hammers away at your husband’s heart with words that tear his soul apart.

With tones and expressions that reveal your disrespect. Maybe even your utter contempt.

You may have once been abused, wife, but now you are the abuser. And it may not get as much media attention, but wives abuse their husbands every day in countless subtle or overtly sinful ways.

Yet your husband keeps on keeping on. Loving you, exhorting you to relax, to let go.

But you can’t hear him because you refuse to listen to reason.

You reject any message of truth that might help you heal.

And you keep listening to the old tapes that wind incessant in the battlefield of your mind, tormented since childhood.

It’s the voice of your enemy in the form of a critical inner parent. The voice you internalized after listening to your mom scold you unrelentingly all the years of your growing up. Or the voice of your dad screaming, scathing or sarcastic. Or worse.

They say children — and that means all of us — learn what they live. And you, precious wounded wife, learned life and marriage and most likely parenting and other forms of relating all wrong.

All wrong.

And when your husband — who bears his own scars from his growing up years yet valiantly tries to uphold his spousal role day after tedious day — gently suggests that life can be different for the two of you and your kids…

That you don’t have to keep believing the lies your mom told you about yourself…

That you no longer have to follow the abusive rules your dad set forth…

That you don’t have to try and control every little thing…

You lash back in your angry, aggressive way — which is nothing more than a hard shield of sin covering a very tender, deeply hurting heart — like an injured animal baring its fangs afraid it will be hurt again.

And you give voice to a lie that is as old as time.

The lie that you just can’t change.

Not after 20 or 30 or 40 or 50 years of doing life the dysfunctional way you have always done it.

And continuing to believe and live that lie — with all its nasty ramifications that manifest in your marriage — can drain every drop of desire and devotion from the best of men. And maybe he will stick by you year in and year out.

Or maybe he won’t.

Maybe one day he will just say he’s had enough. And Lord knows he probably has.

Or maybe one day he’ll meet a sweet lady at the office.

And everything will come tumbling down and you may begin to see how very wrong and very wounded you are.

But the devastation to you and your babies will be like a tsunami that sucks away your last gulping breath.

And the outcome will depend — again — on your choice. To become better. Or stay just as you are and grow into a bitter, ugly old woman. Alone. Hurting. Hard. Never giving in. And your children growing into adults who limp badly.

But wife, here is an amazing truth that may sound too good to be real.

God loves you. No. Matter. What.

No matter what you’ve been through.

No matter what you have put your husband or others through.

No matter even if you don’t believe in God.

God loves you so much He sent Jesus to die for you. And He wants you to die to your self and your sin and your fears and your hurts so that He can make all things new.

He is your Savior, dear sweet wife. He is the only One who can save you from the mess that is your marriage, the mess that is your life.

He can heal your heart, mend your memories and make you whole. His words of love can finally silence those screaming lies that hold you captive.

BEST IS YET TO BE

You CAN change your life in a heartbeat by making a choice to change.

Anyone can change IF they are willing to surrender to God, admit they are powerless, forgive others through the grace of God and then decide to live a new way. One day at a time.

Just. That. Simple.

Just. That. Hard.

But God and His amazing grace that really, truly is sufficient. And when you are weak, He will be all the stronger. I know. For I was once where you are now. I didn’t heed the warnings that were sent my way over the early years. Wouldn’t hear the still small voice calling me until my former spouse and father of my sons left.

And I was left behind with a million broken pieces scattered everywhere.

So very much was lost that can never be regained.

But you, TODAY, can make a better choice than I did all those years ago.

You can save yourself great heartache.

You can provide for your children a better growing up environment with a mom and a dad together under one roof.

You can choose to honor God with your every word, thought or action.

Dear wife, whose heart is crying to be heard, yearning to be loved:

You are.

God hears your every whimper. God seals each tear as a prayer in His bottle.

You can be set free if you so choose.

So why not? Why not choose God’s way? Why not right now?

Why forfeit your life, your marriage and your children’s futures for the sake of a lie?

God is calling to your heart to come to Him.

To let go of trying to control everything in your anger.

To let Him hold you and comfort you in ways your mom or dad never did.

I remember what it felt like back then and even what it feels like 20 years later and that is why I write.

So please don’t let your fear, your pride or your unbelief hold you back a moment longer.

Decide to change by letting God in and the bad out.

Now…

~sheila

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If this post resonates at all with you, please let me use my past to assist you in growing into the beautiful woman God has created you to be. I want to give you my free eBook, Wounded Wife which is yours when you drop me an email at sheila at longings end dot com. And if you are ready to go deeper sign up for C2 for Woman Only which is a confidential form of conversational help. Click here for more details on C2.