Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Top 16 Things Husbands Can Do To BUILD Their Marriage

Written by Eric Engle

  1. Set boundaries that protect the marriage and family: (Physical, Emotional, & Spiritual) If you desire ‘The Marriage God Intended” you must be vigilant and constantly defining what influences you let into your marriage and family. I have seen many marriages weakened by putting up with seemingly well wishing Parents, Friends, and Coworkers who think that they have some place of influence in your family or marriage.
  1. Work hard: (Sacrifice… do whatever it takes to provide for your family) I have seen men who cater to their own desires as an excuse for not doing whatever they need to provide for their families. God says that they are worst than an unbeliever!
  1. Encourage her: (Encourage her with your words on a regular basis. The enemy is hard at work telling her that she is a failure.) Find out where she needs encouragement and spread it thick on a regular basis.
  1. Tell her she is beautiful: (God doesn’t make junk. By the way… look in the mirror; you’re not getting any younger yourself.) Every woman wants to be beautiful. The more beautiful she thinks she is to you the more confident she will be to fulfill her role as your helper and your lover. See # 3.
  1. Take the lead. (This is a God given responsibility and obligation, not a suggestion.) God has appointed you as the “Head of Your Household” and “Head of Your Wife” In our satanically feminized society it is cute for men to say “I’ll have to talk to the Boss”. I have one thing to say about that. Stop being weak minded and disobedient to God. For those the rest of you, make sure that you LEAD as Christ lead rather than acting as a ruler.
  1. Go to battle for her: (This is where you enforce the boundaries that you have set.) In the event of an attack on your wife, DEFEND HER and be ready to go to battle for her no matter how uncomfortable it may make you feel. Obviously this is a no brainer in the event of physical attack, but I’m referring to an emotional or spiritual attack. I have seen many marriages where the wife is attacked blatantly or many times subversively by the husband’s family and… even her own family and the husband stands silent. Any time, and I mean ANY TIME the husband does not defend her in such a situation; he has created a serious crack in their relationship. Because she has adopted the world’s attitude, she may say that she can fight her own battles, and it’s ok…she lying and she may not even know it. It is your responsibility to defend her PERIOD! See # 1.
  1. Protect her: (The Bible refers to her as the weaker vessel. Stop Hiding under the covers. Although she may seem tough, it is your responsibility to protect her and the family, physically, spiritually, and emotionally.) In the event that you need to go to battle for her, you now need to apply the thoughts of # 1. Your marriage needs to be a strong fortress that is protected, never let your guard down.
  1. Take her to bed and fulfill HER needs: (You are there for her as much as she is there for you. Don’t make the assumption that just because you are having sex with her, means that she is having sex with you.) Many women feel little more than a play thing in the bedroom. If you truly seek to know her and be one with her you will do your best to serve her needs before your own. If you have any disagreement in your marriage, it should be the disagreement of trying to serve each others needs.
  1. Cherish her: (Like a special flower you hold in your hand. You hold the key as to whether she will bloom or wilt.) This is the key to her respecting you and allowing you to lead.
  1. Search her heart: (Ask her questions to know her deeply. On a regular basis, ask her to rate your marriage on a scale of 1-10, and what you can do to raise the score) This question alone can help you make great strides to “becoming one” with her. It also gives her permission to share with you without reproach.
  1. Listen to her: (Ask her about her day, her wins and defeats, how the kids treated her.)
  1. Make sure the children respect her: (This not only sets the right order in the marriage, but also helps establish oneness between you and your wife.) Protect your marriage from even the kids.
  1. Tell her you love her: (Husbands, you can never say this too much.)
  1. Have a spiritual vision for your family: (What is the purpose for your faith as it relates to the family? It needs to be more than just making it to Heaven. That is where you should begin, not finish.)
  1. Check priorities regularly and make sure they are in the right order: (1-God, 2-Wife, 3-Family, 4-Outside ministries, 5-Work, 6-Self)
  1. Leave and cleave: (Do not let any outside influences; especially in-laws or parents come between you and your wife, or children. Well meaning parents, friends, or relatives can undermine your marriage if you are not vigilant and alert to these attacks, masked as loving advice) See #1

Top 14 Things Husbands Can Do to DESTROY Their Marriage

This list was written by my husband and I felt it might help others so I thought I would share it with you.
  1. Don’t tease her: (Tread lightly here… make very sure that she does not just tolerate teasing, but that she enjoys it, otherwise don’t do it!) This seems to be a favorite past time for husbands. It is a big mistake. If you tell her that you are sorry, and stop doing it, especially when others are teasing her, you will see a big difference in her. She may say it is no big deal, but it is.
    1. Don’t look at other women twice: (This speaks volumes to her self worth as she perceives it from her husband.) Men are visual. So when you see a pretty gal, don’t look at her again. This will tell your wife of your intentions toward her in a silent way. It will help solidify that you really do think she is beautiful.
    1. Don’t speak about the attractive attributes of other women: (You are only tearing down what God has given you.) Many couples play this game of discussing who they have secret fantasies about or at the very least who they think is attractive. Let me say one thing to you… keep your mouth shut! If your wife asks you if you think so and so is pretty, this is your response. She’s ok I guess, but not as beautiful as you Hun.
    1. Don’t talk down to your wife: (If you don’t think you do this, check again, you may be surprised.) Ask her if you ever do this, and don’t respond in anger after you hear the answer.
    1. Don’t place standards on her that she cannot meet: (Ask her and she will tell you if your standards are too high…this may be different for each wife based on the number of children you have, her health, finances, etc.) Your wife already feels that she can’t do it well enough. The enemy is screaming in her ear “ You’re a failure!” She has a hard time ignoring the enemy, and it doesn’t help when you join him.
    1. Don’t have friends of the opposite sex: ( Office, church, social circle.. When you marry your wife, she is to be the only woman that has access to your heart. The world says that you can still “be friends with women” “It’s innocent” Do not give place to what seems like an innocent friendship. The enemy is lurking and scheming to “Kill, Steal, and Destroy”)
    1. Don’t treat her or the children harshly: (This will provoke her or your children to wrath and you will lose their hearts.)
    1. Don’t micromanage her, or treat her like a child: (Trust in her, and allow her to express the gifts that God has given to her as a woman.)
    1. Don’t make disparaging remarks, or comments about her body: (She has given birth to your children, and sacrificed herself to serve you and the family. Can you fit into your old high school jeans?…I didn’t think so!)
    1. Don’t let her lead: (Be a man and step up to the plate! It doesn’t matter how stupid you think you are… God has a plan and it’s time you get on board. He knows what he’s doing. Remember - Lead like a Shepherd, don’t Rule like a Butcher.)
    1. Don’t make her work outside the home: (From the beginning Mans’ curse has been to “Toil the field” not Woman’s. Unless you want your wife to contend with you, and act like a man, you will stay far away from mixing gender roles, and perverting what God has commanded with the enemy’s lie.)
    1. Don’t place the children above your wife’s well being: In the world’s wisdom, the children are the focus of the family. “It’s all about the children” I see families focused on the children’s schooling, athletics, or needs and desires. This is a lie from the Devil that is tearing apart marriages. I have seen many marriages fall apart after the kids are gone because the foundation of a Godly Marriage was never there to begin with.
    1. If you home school, don’t place the children’s academics above your wife’s well-being: (This is outside the order God has set up for the family, and will discourage your wife as well. The Bible is clear that children are a blessing to the parents and not the other way around. This will put you on the fast track of destroying your marriage for the sake of homeschooling.)
    1. Don’t worship her: (The world deems this as a wonderful compliment. God hates this! This is outside Gods plan and it violates HIS commandment. Worship and serve HIM, and she will be served.)

    Written by Eric Engle
    Copyright, 2010

      Monday, May 23, 2011

      The Refiner's Fire

      I felt it was time to start sharing with you some of the things the Lord has taken my family and I through over the last 3 ½ years since I realized that some of the posts that I have written to you lately have just given you bits and pieces of our lives.  

      In the fall of 2007 my husband and I started a new ministry and along with creating that organization we took on the responsibility of discipling a group of teenagers during the course of the school year.  (I share this bit of our lives with you to remind you that we are in a spiritual battle.)  As we stepped out in faith to serve the Lord and minister to others, Satan was seeking to destroy every bit of our efforts. 

      My husband has been self-employed since he was 18.  He has been in real estate for the last 15 years.  As soon as we stepped out in faith in these areas of ministry we experienced one trial after another.  
      I would remind Eric to let God be his Advocate.
      • ·       The first one was a four year lawsuit.  It was real estate related, and the suit was filed by the buyer of a property, against my husband and the sellers of the property.  The sellers did not tell the buyers, or my husband, about special restrictions on the property, although they stated in writing that there were not any restrictions, (they lied in writing).  By the way, the sellers were Believers and it was their lie that caused the action.  What made matters worse, the seller’s attorney told my husband that he found no fault in my husband’s actions but they had to file a cross claim on him any way so he could protect his clients.  After the buyers had purchased the home, and after they found out about the restrictions, they fraudulently refinanced the home twice to spend large amounts of money on personal items and wanted my husband to foot the bill.  All of this did not sit to well with my husband and I but what could we do?  Anyway, we paid an attorney our last $5,000 to represent us in this case.  That money lasted about 3 weeks.  From that point on my husband had to learn how to legally represent himself for the remainder of the case without the legal knowledge needed to do so.  
      • ·    Within a 45 day period, the real estate industry and the equity that sellers had (the clients my husband dealt with) came to a screeching halt, DEAD!
      • ·       About a month or two after the lawsuit was in full swing, we received notice from the IRS of an audit for a preceding year.  The focus of the audit was the amount of our deducted ‘contributions’ (tithes) for that year.  The IRS said they were too high and thus, they investigated us.
      • ·       At this time, the “Do Not Call” telephone policy was in effect.  My husband had followed up with a property inquiry from a lady from four months earlier, and promptly received a letter from the Federal Trade Commission threatening to fine him $11,000.  Even though she contacted him first, the law says that he cannot contact her any later than 90 days.  This now means that he cannot contact any past clients, contacts, leads, etc. if they had not contacted him first within the last 90 days.  On top of the market woes, this completely shut down the way he had made a living for the past 11 years.
      • ·     Finances were strained, so cutting business costs were the natural next step.  He proceeded to reduce the number of phone lines he had to lower his business expenses.  The phone company said that only for $8,000 they would let him change his contract and reduce the number of lines.  He didn’t have the money.  He couldn’t afford the high business phone bill as it was, so he lost his business telephone number.  This was the number that all of his past clients knew for the past 11 years.  Now, he can’t call them, and they can’t call him…it was tough to do business that way!

      I can’t tell you how many times I wondered about what was going to happen to our family based on our current situation.  We were never late on a mortgage payment and at the time our credit scores were high, but soon, that all changed and our property went into default.  I did not understand why this was all happening to us.  We tried to live an obedient, God-fearing life, yet, I felt like the Lord had forsaken us in ALL these situations.  

      My husband would often say to me he felt like a failure and my heart would break for him.  There wasn't anything I could do for him financially because we had made the choice when we were engaged to have our roles as husband and wife line up with the Word of God, i.e., the husband was to toil the field (work) and the wife was to raise the kids and keep the home.  

      We had family and friends encourage me to get a job so we could save our home.  To myself, I would laugh at that thought!  In essence, it was as if they were saying it was more important for us to save our physical house which was built with wood, hay, and stubble, rather than keep our family unit, the relationships that our Maker designed for us, in tact. "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; "but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:19-21  I would remind them I already had a full-time job which was helping my husband, raising and homeschooling my children and keeping our home.  The last thing I wanted to do in the midst of this raging, tsunami of a storm, was go out and leave my family.  My husband needed my encouragement and support.  He needed me standing by him no matter what happened to us financially.  He didn't need me to come home with a paycheck to make him feel like he was some loser who couldn't provide for his own family.  "The wise woman builds her house, but the foolish pulls it down with her hands."  Proverbs 14:1  I was placed by his side to lift him up, not tear him down. 

      So, that is what I tried to do.  I would pray for him and talk with him and listen to his hurts and frustrations.  As I would spend time daily reading the Word, there were times that the Lord would prompt me to read those verses to my husband as well.  Reading the Scriptures to him soon became an on-going way of life for many months to come.  My husband knew by me taking the time out of my day to pour into him spiritually I was telling him that I believed in him, I loved him, I respected him and I would always be by his side no matter what trial came our way.

      We often had discussions about what would happen if we lost our home and where would we go if we had no money.  We had said that if it ever got so bad for us financially, the boys and I would go live at a homeless shelter for women and children and my husband would sleep in his truck parked outside of the shelter so he could still be with us.  We were determined to live our lives built on the Word of God no matter how uncomfortable it would be for us and no matter what those in the world had to say about it!  We did not care what others thought, we cared about what God thought.  According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one's work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one's work, of what sort it is. If anyone's work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. 1 Corinthians 3:10-14.

      The story has not ended, there is more fire to come and you can read more about here:  Lord, Why on Earth Would You Allow This? (The Refiner's Fire Part 2)

      Thursday, May 19, 2011

      Here I Am, Lord, Send Me...But Don't Send Me to Ninevah!

      Have you ever felt that God has called you to a certain ministry that you were ill-equipped and unqualified to serve Him in?  Perhaps you have felt that someone else might be better suited for that particular task of ministry.   Maybe you don’t have the skills or abilities to do the job at hand, or worse yet, you have too many scars and you are too broken to be effective for your King?  Yet, He continually whispers to your soul, “Come, serve me over here”.  Again, your King and your God says, “You can do this, just get out of the boat and keep your eyes on Me.” You don’t have to be afraid, I am right here with you.  I will take your hand and lead you. 

      For many years I have had the privilege and honor to serve the Lord in several different capacities ranging from a Sunday School teacher, a Bible study leader, creating and overseeing a ministry organization with my husband, and now writing for the Lord to encourage, equip, edify and affirm His children.  I can tell you from personal experience that writing for Jesus has been THE MOST DIFFICULT ministry that I have ever served in!  In fact, it has brought me to tears almost every time I write for Him (and I am in tears now).  I can’t tell you how many times I have cried out to the Lord telling Him I can’t do this because it is emotionally agonizing for me (and I am not an emotional person, I don’t gush easily.) 

      You might be asking yourself why is it so hard for me to write and what is the big deal.  Permit me to let you in on some of my insecurities regarding this ministry. 

      Issue # 1-  I was told at a young age that I was a poor writer and those words continued on into college when I had to take a college writing course 3 times in order to finally pass it.  Yes, I failed college writing not just once, but twice!  Because of what I went through in the past, I have always shied away from the pen and paper experience.

      Issue #2-  Writing puts you in the spotlight.  There is no one else in the room, there is no crowd to hide behind or mix in with.  For any individual who likes to take center stage, they would probably love this, yet, that is not me.  I am a socially reserved person, in fact, if I were in a group setting you could find me in the back of the room where I would feel safe.

      Issue #3-  Writing can be a vulnerable and transparent experience…one that is very uncomfortable because you are exposing yourself to others and some of the readers are complete strangers!

      So, if it is so hard for me to write, then why do I do it, you might ask.
      Bottom line:  God has called me to do it.  (Period)  No other reasons. 
      It was 2 or 3 years ago when the Lord gently spoke to me and said, “You need to start a blog.” 
      Here were my thoughts.  “What’s a blog?  How do I start one?  What am I supposed to write about?  I have nothing to say.” 
      I went on with the busyness of my life, yet, in the back of my mind were my Savior’s words, “You need to write.”  I eventually found the time to investigate on the whole ‘blog thing’ and I finally started one last year but I didn’t really know what to do with it.  I wrote posts for it every now and then but I did not have much time, nor direction from the Lord to be very intentional about it.  Time went on and I heard His voice again.  However, this time it was louder, more clearly and more often, “You need to write.”
      Okay, Lord, but I am too busy, something needs to change.  I can’t do everything that is on my plate.  Show me what to do and what to cut out.
      Again, He said to me, “You need to write.”  I heard Him loud and clear!  I wanted to be obedient so I knew I needed to make some changes in my life in order to have the time to write for Him.

      I often think of Isaiah when he heard the Lord speak, “Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me.”  Isaiah 6:8  When I read that verse I am so inspired to go where ever God sends me but when the rubber meets the road and the Lord calls me to do something that I do not feel equipped to do, will I answer the call?  Will I heed His voice?  Or will I be like Jonah, the reluctant prophet, who did not want to go to Ninevah?  
      Sorry Jonah, but I’m goin’ with Isaiah!

      Here's a glimpse into what God has already done in this ministry…The Alabaster Jar blog has been up on the internet now for a little over two months.  In that time, I have had the opportunity to be used by the Lord to minister to, and encourage women even when I did not feel equipped or qualified.  The blog has now reached 20 different countries.  I honestly don't know how that is possible.  "But with God all things are possible.”  Matthew 19:26 As hard as it has been for me to write these posts, God has shown Himself faithful to me as He has held my hand while on this journey.  I am humbled and honored that He has allowed me to be a vessel on His behalf. 

      Even though I have had institutions tell me that I was not a writer, God has said otherwise.  He has entrusted me to help build His kingdom even when I doubted Him.  He is entrusting you to build it as well. You are needed for the Kingdom sake.  "Then Jesus said to his disciples,  "The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into His harvest field."  Matthew 9:37-38

      It is Him that we should desire to please and it is Him that we should listen to. God does not call the qualified, He equips the called.  So, what is it that He is asking you to do?  He will be with you every step of the way and you will be blessed beyond measure as you serve your King.  You are needed to make an impact for the Lord.  Stop listening to the enemy tell you what you can't do!  Satan is very happy to keep you from serving the Lord with the spiritual gifts that God has blessed you with.  What is stopping you?  What reason do you have for not wanting to go to Ninevah?  Jonah's reason was because of his flesh.  My reason was because of my flesh and the fear that I had.  For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.  2 Timothy 1:7  I hope your flesh does not hinder you and I encourage you to step out in faith and be obedient to His calling.  You won't regret it!

      Sunday, May 15, 2011

      The Sting of a Christian Woman

      Since you are reading this post, I could betcha a dollar that you too, have felt the sting by another Christian woman.  And boy, the knife sure goes down deep in the heart on that one!
      Let's read, what I will refer to as, The Stinging Sisters List, shall we?

      • Betrayed
      • Criticized
      • Condemned
      • Talked about behind your back- and I don't mean they were praying for you either; most likely they were talking some smack about you and it was gossip and/or slander!
      • Lied to
      • Stole from
      • How about this one:  flirted with your man! I am so not okay with that one, in fact, my fists might even come out swinging!  Woman, you better back up before you get hurt!
      • Hindered you in the ministry that God has called you to- this one saddens my spirit deeply.  Sometimes to follow the Lord's leading it takes a GREAT amount of faith to get out of the boat and walk on water to Jesus.  He has called you to do something that you do not feel qualified nor equipped to do and now a Sister in Christ has stumbled you from following the Lord in ministry.  Satan LOVES this one...actually, he loves all of the above.
      I am sure you can add to, The Stinging Sisters List, but you get my point.

      Confession time:  because I don't think I can write a post without being completely honest and real with you.  As I looked back through The List, unfortunately over the years as I was growing in Christ (and still growing), you could find my name written down in several of those sections.  Ouch!
      "...for the accuser of our brethren, (Satan) who accused them (believers) before our God day and night, has been cast down."  Revelation 12:10 (my emphasis)  I don't know about you, but the last thing I want in my heart is tear down another Sister in Christ.  Satan does not need any more help in that department and I don't want to be aligned with him.

      So, why do we do it?  Why do we tear down another woman?  I pondered that question for quite some time and here were some of my thoughts:
      • Insecurity
      • Fear 
      • Doubt
      • Guilt
      • Control
      • Pride
      • Competition
      All of the above actions happen when we are in the flesh and not in the Spirit.  They all have to do with 'self'.  We are often taught in this world to have self-confidence and be self-reliant.  (By the way, there is nothing wrong with feeling like you can make your own breakfast...that's not the type of self-confidence and self-reliance I am referring to!)  It is when those attributes lead to self-centeredness and you become self-absorbed.  As God's daughters we should seek to have God's-confidence and become God-reliant rather than self.  

      When we take our eyes off of us (self) and we put it on the Lord, then we will not see our Sisters in Christ as a threat to us, we won't feel insecure nor will we have fear or doubt about who we are in Christ.  When our eyes are fixed on Him, then we can encourage our Sisters rather than belittle them, criticize, condemn, and compete with them.  Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.  Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.  Philippians 2:3,4  I'd like to pretend I never read those verses, except for the part where it says someone should look out for my interests! 

      So, I have just scratched the surface with this topic and I want to share more about how to handle the hurt and get over the pain, so look for future posts!  I will try to write soon but I will be off camping for the weekend!


      Thursday, May 5, 2011

      Not All Mothers and Daughters Get Along Part 2

      Welcome back.  If you missed part 1 of this post you can find it here at, Not All Mothers and Daughters Get Along.
      I will never forget that day.  The day when my mom hurled insults and made accusations towards me and my husband.  I was not hurt at the time, I was ANGRY!  How dare she say those things.  Well, I was ready to fight, again... and momma taught me best!  But now I was saved and my heart was to be the light and show my mom how wonderful life could be with Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior.   So I made the decision to pray instead of fight. (So, for all you fighters out there, that is generally a much better decision.)  During this fit of rage as my mom is screaming at me (at the mall and now in the parking lot; I decided it was best to cut our shopping trip short!) I prayed.  I specifically asked the Lord to give me His words to defend the Biblical upbringing that my son was receiving and the Godly marriage He blessed me with.  This is what He said, "Keep your mouth shut."  What? I said to myself.  What do you mean Lord?  I should be defending what the Bible has to say and the reasons for our decisions.  Again, I kept praying for the words, but He gave me none and quite frankly I was bent out of shape about that!  I did not understand why the Lord did not come by my side and speak through me.

      As I drove her home, she made a piercing statement, "Jolene, where do you find all these losers."  She stabbed me in the heart with her words.  My Savior, My King and My God handpicked my husband specifically for me.  The 'Great I Am' gave me a gift that I was (and still am) so undeserving of.  "I am my beloved's, and my beloved is mine."  Song of Solomon 6:3  I gently said to her, "You need to stop speaking."  There was silence in the car.  

      I was at a defining moment with my relationship with mom and these were the scriptures that went through my mind, "Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh."  Genesis 2:24   "And let the wife see that she respects her husband."  Eph. 5:33  I had a choice to make.  Choice #1- the easy choice.  I can pretend that what my mother said was no big deal.  In time, those hurtful things would get swept under the rug because after all, that's how things generally happened with my family, plus, our relationship would stay intact.  Choice #2- the hard choice.  A threat was made that my son could be taken away from me.  On top of that was the complete disregard for my husband, our beliefs, and the way we wanted to raise our son in the Lord. 

      Spiritually and mentally it was a no-brainer.  I was going with Choice #2.  Why would  anyone allow someone in darkness make decisions on behalf of a family who lives in the light?  One word:  Emotions.  I did not want to lose my mom, but neither did I want to live in fear over that fact that I might lose my son based on some false accusations, nor was I willing to have my mom 's opinions of darkness come between my husband and I.  In a moment it was like I was being asked to take sides.  Either I stand with my mom so I could continue to have a relationship with her or stand with my husband and the promises in God's Word.  Well, I am 'one' with my husband so there were no sides to take on this one, plus, I am a daughter of the King.  I would be lying to you if I said it wasn't painful to stand on those Biblical precepts and truths, but it was right. The tears came down my face immediately.  The relationship that we finally had was now torn apart.  "Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?"  2 Cor. 6:14

      As I dropped her off, I let her know that I loved her but I could not have her threaten my family, attack my husband and our decisions, nor could she insult him.  I had drawn the line and I had established boundaries.  I was hoping she would be respectful of them...she was not.  The relationship was gone and I cried myself to sleep for many, many nights.

      Now, do you remember earlier in the story when I prayed to the Lord to give me the words to say to my mother?  And He told me to keep my mouth shut? Here's why.  About a week or two after the incident, I got a phone call from one of my brother's saying he heard that mom and I got in a fight.  I smiled to myself and I thought about when the Lord told me to shut my mouth.  Here was my response.  "I did not get in a fight with mom.  Mom was the one who did all the fighting and yelling." Because I heeded the words of the Lord, I did not get into a heated argument with her.  I did not feel convicted by how I conducted myself.  I had peace, which was the by-product of obedience.  Oh, if only I could be obedient more often!

      Although I established boundaries for my family, unfortunately my mom was not willing to respect them.  I soon gave birth to my second son and I have to admit, I was really heartbroken over the fact that  she was no longer in my life.  My boys did not go to grandma and grandpa's house to play, even though they lived within walking distance from my house.  We did not attend family gatherings nor were they at birthday parties and celebrations for my children. 

      I often prayed to the Lord for restoration.  He had me write letters to her even when I did not want to.  Soon she became ill and I visited her, bringing flowers and such.  She informed me then, that she did not want to see me if she could not see my children, yet, she was unwilling to be respectful of the way I was raising my family.  I knew how the manipulation worked.  I was raised in it and therefore I would not allow her to undermine all that God was doing in my life, my marriage and in the life of my children.  

      I would see me Dad often but he walked out of my life about a year later on Christmas Eve.  I then turned to my husband with tears coming down my face saying, "My biological parents left me and now my adoptive ones have too." 

      Days, months, and years went by.  I would call on holidays, and her birthdays and asked her if she had a change in heart and the answer was always no.  My brothers would then get on the phone and attack me and my spiritual beliefs and then I would eventually hang up in tears.  

      I paid a price to follow Jesus Christ, but Christ paid a price for me as well.  My mom is not the enemy in this story, Satan is.  "For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.  Ephesians 6:12  

      Because I am God's child, "I know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.  Romans 8:28  I clung to that verse for 5 years and on my youngest child's 5th birthday, God restoration my relationship with my mom and she met my son for the first time.

      Perhaps you don't have the best relationship with your mom, please know that I feel your hurt and pain . In fact, as I sit here typing these words tears are rolling down my face.  You are not alone.  Your Father in Heaven will bring you comfort, peace and healing.  Show your mom the love of the Father as best you can.  Continue to pray for her and your relationship.  Remain hopeful that God will touch her heart.  "Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer."  Romans 12:2

      Not All Mothers and Daughters Get Along

      For a couple hours now I have been wrestling with the Lord about writing this fact, if you could take a peak inside my heart you could see me pleading with Him about how I am not ready to show some of my scars and how I don't want to be vulnerable and transparent to people that I am afraid to let in.   

      I cry out to Him, You are asking me to share a lot.  I am not ready to let down some of my walls.  I don't have the courage to open up to complete strangers.  They will criticize me and reject me, I say to Him.  But my Lord asked me, "Daughter, if you could reach just one woman and minister to her and encourage her or affirm her for My sake, would you be willing to share your scars with her?  Of course, Lord.  Like the words from Isaiah, "Here I am, send me."  Isaiah 6:8  So, I submit to His will and not my own.

      For all those daughters out there that do not have the best relationship with their moms, this is written to help you know that you are not alone in your pain and suffering.  The Lord knows all that we need in order to cling to Him and to become more like Him.  He cares about your tears and what you have been through.  For He Himself has said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you."  Hebrews 13:5

      So here's my story.  I was adopted at birth into a family that already had 3 biological sons of their own.  (My biological parents were 26 and 29 yrs. old when they gave me up for adoption.) I grew up knowing I was adopted and I was told that I was chosen and special, yet, I did not feel like I ever fit in.  For some reason I was never really close to my mom and I am not sure why.  My insecurities developed at a very young age.  I did not have many friends at school and those I did have later rejected me and I was left to myself each afternoon on the playground.  I felt unwanted again.  Because of much hurt, the anger in me quickly became a part of who I was.  Kids called me, "Mean Jolene" (that still hurts to hear it to this day!) and of course that added to my pain and created even more hostility in me.  I lashed out in my anger when I was just in the third grade as I was sent to the Principal's Office for fist fighting!  Of course over the years I put up more walls to protect myself and more pain became my friend, whether it was being sexually molested as a child or just feeling unwanted in my own home. 

      Then my teen years came.  I never felt that I could please my mom or measure up to her standards, so I stopped trying and I became indifferent and I sought to receive love somewhere else.  Later I had a boy who said he loved me; oh how he broke my heart, again.  More scars and more walls were added along with more bad choices that left me so broken that I wanted to take my own life.  Later as I got older, I lived a life where I denied the existence of God and boy, those sure were some dark years.

      Then  I met Jesus Christ.  My Hero showed up on the scene and saved not only the day, but my life as well.
      "For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons (& daughters) through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will--to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves." Ephesians 1:4-6 (my paraphrase)
      "But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light." 1 Peter 2:9

      Shortly after I became saved I decided to move back in with my parents so I could be the 'light' and be a witness to them.  Unfortunately, they were not open to my new found faith.  One day in particular I remember sharing with my mom how I asked Jesus to come into my heart, forgive me of my sins and be the Lord of my life.
      My mom's response:, "You have just matured, that's all."  I was perplexed by her words.  I thought maybe she did not understand what I said or she did not hear me so I repeated myself.
      Her response again was, "You have just matured."  Now, I was not okay with her denying my transformation and denying what God had done in my life, so my old self of being 'Mean-Jolene' came alive, and I fiercely repeated myself for the third time!
      Her response, "No, you have just matured, that's all."
      In that moment I was saddened by the fact that she had discounted what I had to say and what was taking place in my life, but what she was really doing was rejecting my Savior.  "Remember the word that I said to you, 'A servant is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you." John 15:20

      About a year later I was getting married to a wonderful man that God chose specifically for me.  My parents did not approve of my husband-to-be, nor did they approve of my faith and the church we were getting married in, which is still the church we attend to this day.  Mom and I continued to be at odds.  Of course they were invited to my wedding and I hoped they would come but I informed them that in 4 weeks I would be getting married whether they attended or not.  (I did not know if my dad would be walking me down the aisle until the night of the rehearsal when they happened to show up.)
      "Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword.  "For I have come to 'set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law'; "and 'a man's enemies will be those of his own household.'  Matthew 10:34-36

      We moved forward in our relationship.  She was respectful of my faith and my marriage.  Within a year of  my wedding, I became pregnant with my firstborn and mom and I became so close.  It was wonderful and she was a fabulous grandma!  I continued to pray for hers and my extended family's salvation.  A year later I became pregnant again.  
      Now comes the part in the movie when the music goes bad...really, really bad.  I am going to leave you with a cliff-hanger.  Below are some words that my mother vehemently spewed out to me one afternoon when I was 7 months pregnant.  (Shortly after what was said to me I went into pre-term labor.)

      Mom:  "Jolene, if I ever see you spank your child again I am going to call Child Protective Services."

      Mom:  "Because you are going to homeschool your children they are going to be withdrawn, socially retarded and they are going to end up in prison." 

      Mom:  "Jolene, where do you find these losers"?  (she was referring to my beloved Solomon; my husband Eric.)

      Those were some fightin' words and I was ready for a throw-down! By the way, this is all taking place at a Mall!

      Let me leave you with this,  "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. " Romans 3:23

      I will continue the rest of the story in, Not All Mothers and Daughters Get Along Part 2.

      Wednesday, May 4, 2011

      How to Become a Born-Again Christian

      Heaven and Hell are real places.  Every single soul here on earth will spend eternity in either one of those places.  Eternity is a very long time, in fact, it is FOREVER.  "He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him." John 3:36

      Where would you like to spend the rest of your life?  I hope you choose Heaven.  

      So, you might be wondering how do you get to Heaven?

      Believe that Jesus Christ is God in the flesh.  He came to earth to die for your sins and rose from the dead three days later.  Ask Jesus to forgive you of your sins and give you a new life.  Make Jesus Christ the Lord of your life.

      The Bible says, "that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved."  Romans 10:9

      "That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."  Phil. 2:10,11

      You can pray this simple prayer and you will know that you got right with God today.  When you die, you will have everlasting life in Heaven. 

      Sinners Prayer:
      Father, I know that I am a sinner and that Jesus died to save sinners.  Jesus died to save me.  Cleanse me from all my sins and give me a new life.  I will follow you from this day forward.  
      In Jesus' Name, 

      Welcome to the family of God!  I encourage you to find a Bible-believing church where you can grow in your walk with the Lord.  Plus, spend some time on The Alabaster Jar  to find more ways to grow as a Believer in Christ.

      "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. "For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved." John 3:16,17 

      Tuesday, May 3, 2011

      I Don't Wanna Be A Peacemaker!

      This past Sunday morning rather than having my eldest son attend his regular Sunday School class, he sat in the sanctuary with us to hear our pastor's message.  We felt it was a good time to expose our son to the adult message and see if he had enough spiritual understanding for it.

      The teaching that day was on the Beatitudes, more specifically the 'peacemakers'.  "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God."  Matthew 5:9

      After the service, my husband asked our son if he understood the message and he said, "yes" and he also proceeded to tell us that he liked being in the sanctuary rather than his class.  Well , we will give that some thought.

      Shortly after the service, we headed to our car and as my two boys climbed in the backseat, my eldest (the one who just came out of the service where he heard about peacemakers, started to argue and fight with his younger brother!) my husband gently said to my boy, "Peacemaker".  

      My boys' response, "I don't wanna be a peacemaker!"

      I could not help but laugh hysterically.  Here's why: my son spoke his heart and he spoke it openly and unashamedly.  After I laughed at him I could see the look of conviction along with embarrassment on his face.  I realized in that moment that my actions could hinder him from wanting to share his heart with me again.  My laughter came across as if I were mocking him, but in reality, I WAS COMPLETELY IDENTIFYING WITH HIM.  "I do not want to be a peacemaker either", I said to him.  I told him that it is hard for me to be a peacemaker but it is pleasing to Jesus if I do.  I continued to tell him that he just openly said how many adults feel, but they do not express it to others.  I thanked him for sharing his heart and told him there was nothing wrong with the way he felt.  "Living the 'Narrow Path' is hard to do", I said.

      Under his breathe he said, "I am a warrior".  A smile came over my face and I laughed again.  "I am a warrior too, my son", I replied.  Just like the impetuous Peter, who cut off the servants ear, we can relate to his personality.  "Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest's servant, and cut off his right ear." John 18:10  I would imagine that Peter had to learn to be a 'peacemaker' and that it was not natural for him either, however, I am sure he did the best he could to please the Lord to live peacefully with all men.  I told my son that a warrior for the Lord is also a 'peacemaker' because we are showing love to others.  As soldiers in the Lord's army we can help build the Kingdom of God if we exercise restraint and self-control and extend graciousness, mercy and love to others.  Yes, it is hard to do because we are denying our flesh"I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. " Galatians 5:16    

      Perhaps my boy is not quite ready for such a hard lesson and he is still better off to be ministered at his level!  I know the message is hard for me as well.  Lord, help me to walk in the Spirit so I do not satisfy my flesh.

      Please share with me some ways that you keep peace with others.  I would love to learn from you!

      Sunday, May 1, 2011

      My Cardboard Testimony

      God transforms lives!  Here is a video of some people in my church sharing their cardboard testimony.

      Here is my Cardboard Testimony

      The pain, sin, and failures of my life before Jesus Christ:

      Given Up At Birth
      Sexually Molested as a Child
      Married and Divorced at a young age; ex-husband physically abusive
      Lived in Sexual Sin
      Denied the Existence of God

      The love, acceptance and forgiveness I have received from Jesus, My Lord and Savior:

      Adopted into the Family of God
      A Daughter of the King
      Forgiven of my sins
      Married to a God-fearing man that I do not deserve
      God is real and He transformed my life!

      Please share your Cardboard Testimony.  I know it will encourage others!