Not Unredeemed

… living the beautiful tension between what is, and what will be …


Marriage – Not Your Savior

A beautiful guest post by Nichole from “A Readers Rumination. Nichole is a mom of two, a passionate Jesus lover, friend, and former co host of the She Says Podcasts. Enjoy! 

“How are you doing?” my neighbor asked.

I burst into tears.

I had been married for a little over three years, but I was lonelier than I had ever felt in my life. My husband and I married shortly after I graduated from college. We had the textbook “I Kissed Dating Goodbye” courtship (not without it’s bumps and bruises-after all, most of it was a long distance relationship) complete with sharing our first ‘I love you’ and first kiss after he proposed. After we married, we moved a couple hours away from family, both started new jobs and bought a house. Our daughter was born a few weeks before our second wedding anniversary. I quit working shortly before that to stay home and care for her.

A few weeks before my meltdown outside my neighbors’ driveway, my husband had decided to try out for a role in a Christmas musical. He ended up landing quite a few roles and was gone most weeknights for practices. The show also traveled to different venues much of November and December, meaning he was also gone for many weekends. I had the option of Marriage, not your Saviortraveling with the cast, but I chose to stay home with our daughter.

I felt lonely, isolated from friends and family “back home” that I had know for years, and I was quite a bit resentful that I was “sacrificing” so much for my husband during this busy season in his life. I knew marriage wasn’t supposed to be an endless slumber party, complete with hot chocolate and heart-to-heart talks every night, but my husband was gone pursuing one of his dreams and making new friends in the process. I was a bit envious.

In the midst of my tears, my neighbor hugged me and graciously invited me over for dinner a few times while my husband was away on the show circuit. I’m thankful for that and the many other graces God gave me during that season of our life. Looking back, I can see now how God used the loneliness and bitterness I felt during that season to expose my selfish presupposition that marriage should fulfill all my longings for friendship and relationship without the hard and awkward work of making new friends in a new town.

I still have much to learn now, but more and more God is showing me how my identity is not wholly defined as “wife”. In fact, He often uses this identifier in my life to point out the many ways my heart is selfish and sinful. Being married has not fulfilled me in the many ways I had expected as a young bride. I still feel lonely and misunderstood sometimes, and like any close relationship often it is the people we live with that can hurt us (intentionally or unintentionally) the most. Marriage brings much joy, but also much pain into life as two sinners attempt to live with one another!

In the midst of every happy and sad season, it is imperative to look to Jesus as the one who understands you, completes you and defines you. Doing that puts the pressure off of your husband (or future husband) in the relationship to be everything to you, and you both can ground your identities and activities together in a way that glorifies Christ.

My husband is involved in the Christmas musical again this year. I have a four year old and a two year old to care for now while he is away most weeknights. Even though the cast is not traveling this year I know that this has the potential to be a busy, yet lonely season for me. What’s different now?

1. My perspective has changed. I see my husband’s time away as him using his talents of singing, dancing and acting to advance the kingdom of God and glorify Him. That helps me to have a happier heart while I care for my kids solo, and I find so much joy in my heart when I get to see him on stage and experience the finished production (I mean, hello, my husband is a triple threat. Proud stage wife right here!)

2. I am more intentional in my time spent with Jesus, asking Him to remind me of who I am. Jesus loves to remind us that we are His and that He has a plan for our lives. For some of us, that includes the roles of wife and mother, but do not think of yourself as lesser in God’s kingdom if He does not grant those desires in your life. As hard as that can feel, remind yourself that God can (and will) love you more perfectly than any husband could and that His plans for you will bring Him the most glory.

3. Speaking of a plan, I am also trying to be more obedient to the ways God wants me to advance the kingdom.It’s true that a husband and wife can work together to glorify God, but don’t discount the gifts He’s already given you as an individual. For me, that means writing more, singing more, taking more time in contemplative and intercessory prayer and reading books that spur my heart towards a greater affection for Jesus. I do my best to get together with friends (yes, I have friends now!) that encourage me and refresh my spirit. I am also in the process of starting a master’s certificate program, and I know my husband will be making sacrifices to help me (dishes, anyone?) as I embark on this new venture.

I’d encourage you to take those three steps in your life if you feel marriage is becoming an idol in your heart. Marriage is not your Savior. Honestly, it can be like a crucible at times. God may or may not bring it into your life not to make you ultimately happy, but if you trust Him He will make you holy. If we let Jesus meet us, define us and direct us, whether we are single or married, we can know we are being the best wife, friend, daughter, church member, etc. He has meant us to be.

That, my friends, is eternal.
– Nichole

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Nancy Regan and Preparing for a Relationship

Nancy Regan and Preparing for a Relationship – A Guest Post

When practicing any sort of self-defense, weaponry, etc. the goal is to practice so often that your movements are reflexive, instinctual. Since I was a kid, my dad taught me how to break out of someone’s grip. For around 10 years he had me practicing. He would hold my or my sibling’s wrist and have us break away by focusing our movement through their thumb – the weakest part of their grip. Now, if he or someone else did grab my wrist, I wouldn’t even think about what I was doing, I would automatically just do it.

So what am I getting at? There are situations when in the moment you may not be able to think clearly or fast enough to make a decision that could save yourself and others. In those times your decision already needs to be made. What are you going to do? What do you expect?

What I have to say comes from being that person who didn’t make the decision beforehand. I didn’t know I should have. So I want to share with you, why I didn’t decide and why it’s important.

In my romantic heart I believed in the soul mate, the “one”. I believed God write’s your love story. I really wanted to only be in a relationship with the man I would marry. I kissed dating goodbye. (I’m not here to knock any of those things; they can be debated at another time.)But even if I only believed in one of those things, I can still see my brain, and many others’ not making this one decision beforehand.

Plan to say, “No”.

See, in my mind, if I didn’t date, if I waited for a really great guy, if I got so close to God that the guy would have to pursue God to get my attention; why would I ever have to say, “no”? If I did all those things right, then he would take care of me, he would have my best at heart…he would love God enough that he wouldn’t do anything that I would have to protect myself against.

Ladies and gents, I’m sorry to say, but it’s not true. I did all of those things, and did not have saying “no” to him even in my mind…it wasn’t even a thought. I thought that we would talk about our boundaries and that would be that. We would agree on them and he would respect that.

It’s easy to lose the clear lines of who we (each of us as individuals) are, when in a relationship. But at the end of the day, or the end of the relationship, you are still you. You as an individual. A son or daughter of the King. A saint and citizen of heaven. Worthy of respect and respectful treatment. I encourage you, be a proactive, prepared individual. While you do deserve to be treated with respect, it is your job to communicate that to people. If you can’t treat yourself well, how do others know to? Do you respect yourself enough to look people in the eye? To speak clearly and express your thoughts to others? To learn how to become emotionally healthy? To put boundaries into place?

While we are redeemed as Christians, we still sin at times (commission and omission). Even if the guy or girl is a passionate Christ-follower, they will mess up at times.

It’s tempting to think that life somehow changes in a relationship, but life cannot be put into a box or formula. We absolutely cannot think that because we’re running through a field of daisies,  that everything will commence in an assumed way.  Gain all the wisdom and knowledge you can; but keep the recipe and box out of it.

I followed my recipe; I put my relationship and God in that box, and it turned out so very different than I thought. I really assumed that if I followed God’s leading to a guy, the guy would never hurt me *, or that I wouldn’t need to stand up for myself. But I did. He did hurt me, and I did need to stand up for myself – for the both of us. If I had done that from the beginning of the wrong, it would have changed the story line drastically. I would have been communicating honestly and drawing a firm boundary of how I expected to be treated. If he/she chooses not to respect that line, it is absolutely okay for you to end that relationship. I mean it. You mean business. If this is something that you have to take a stand on, don’t step down because someone doesn’t agree. (Disagreement comes in many ways: verbally, implied, etc.) *I did realize that he wouldn’t be perfect and would at times say something mean, etc. But I didn’t realize that he would do more harm than that.

I would also encourage you to tell an accountability partner, mentor, or friend what your decision is. It’s easy in the moment to want to please your counterpart and not rock the boat. But if you have made enough of a decision to verbally share it and tell someone else, you’ll be that much better off. Keep in mind that this doesn’t just pertain to the physical, but the emotional and spiritual as well. All three of those areas, boundaries need to be made and held. The physical is just the most prevalent and obvious area.

While Nancy Regan spoke in reference to drug use, “Just say no” works in this case just as well. What are those areas you will, “just say no”, to? Take this time as a single person to cover the areas that are important to you, and make your decisions. Pull someone alongside of you in this, they can temper and give advice.

In summary, please plan to say “no”. Not because you assume the worst of the other person, the failure of the relationship, or any other pessimistic thought path. But because there is a reality of living in a fallen, sin-filled world. Someday we will be walking our beautiful streets of our redeemed earth, but until then become a prepared realist. If you don’t get to the point where you have to say “no” there’s no harm done. But if you do have to say “no”, you are prepared to do it.

Being present and fully alive, doesn’t just stop at singlehood! 😉 It continues into your future relationships, just tweaked to include another person in your life. As we choose to live life fully now, take this time to also choose life to the fullest in your future relationship.Planning for success, (even with a “no”), in a prepared and realistic way fosters more life!

-Guest Posted Anonymously

Today's the Day: Being Single and Fully Alive Nancy Regan and Preparing for a Relationship” is a guest post and part of the “Today’s The Day: Being Single and Fully Alive” a 31 Days Series. To read more from this series please click here.

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Praying for Me? – 31 Days of Truth {Day 22}

Good friends are a huge part of the way the Lord speaks truth into my life on a daily basis. They are Jesus to me with skin on. Overwhelmed by an intense work schedule over the weekend, I wasn’t sure if I would be able to squeeze in the time to blog. When a friend* whom I’ve been encouraging to start a blog, offered to guest post for me, I couldn’t say no! Please enjoy. 

“How often do you pray for yourself and about what God wants to do in you?” The question hung in the silence between the two of us. We were parked in his driveway the car filled with the despair and frustration that was welling up inside my heart. Yet as he asked me that question I had to think honestly about it. Most of my prayers were for those around me, my friends, my family, students I taught. Yet how often had I prayed about what God wanted to do in me and in my life? How often had I asked God to reveal what He wanted me to see?

My life recently has been cluttered with distractions. My father who had been a huge part of my life had within the past year abandoned his family to pursue his own goals, my mother lives with a terminal liver condition, which by God’s grace is being managed at this point though she has been diagnosed as stage four liver failure, and I? I live at home paying off debt, working as an educator in a tumultuous time of new state regulations, intensified scrutiny, and a constantly changing diorama of regulations and policies. Within all of this God is working to capture my heart to be more than what I am.  I grew up in the church, was raised in a Christian home, worked at a Christian camp and went to a Christian college. Yet through all of that my heart has been weighed down by the traditions and trappings of “christianity.”

God to me has been distant, the judge in my life, always setting goals and standards that are out of reach. With every attempt  I made to reach the goals of distant perfection – discouragement followed, building up with each failure. Piercing through that discouragement, my friend asked me how often I pray for myself. Recently God has been stirring me to seek Him for all of who He is, not the God of judgment, though certainly God holds all sovereignty and judgments in His hand, and certainly not a God of cruelty who sets standards impossible to reach, just to watch us fall. God wants and has been calling me to understand His character to its fullest, a God of love and compassion, a God of relationship.

As I sat in the car for the first time in a long time I gave voice to my doubts and fears about who God was. About the failings that seemed to push me further and further away from the God who I knew was King of my life. My friend began to share a bit of his journey and as we talked he asked how often I prayed about myself and for myself. Not about things I wanted or needed but about laying out what my heart truly felt. Laying out my heart with no boundaries, no hidden doors wherever that led, to the God who created me and just wanted me to come to Him. As he spoke I finally just told him to be quiet because I had the overwhelming sense just to pray. And so I prayed….all the despair and frustration and pain and loneliness from the past year welled up out of the depths of my soul, and in that moment sitting in the driveway, Christ granted a taste of overwhelming grace.

For all the failings that we have, God wants to love us. Not perfection in us, but us, in all of our messiness, all our inadequacies, all of our dirtiness. It is a concept in the church that we so often hear but how many of us truly understand the depths of what that idea means? God wants me to seek who He is not with fear or because I can gain favor in His eyes, but because I desire to know Him. God wants us to know Him and to serve Him out of gratitude out of a desire to love Him for who He is. But how do you follow God when it seems so hard to “reach the perfection” He seems to demand in us and that a sovereign Lord deserves? The truth is I can’t reach it, and that is ok because it is Christ in me that can. As the conversation in the driveway continued it turned to practical application. How do I continuously seek Christ when it seems I so often fail? When my prayers seem to be unanswered?  The response was surprising. “Perhaps you are not praying for the right thing. Your focus is on one thing and perhaps God is asking you to ignore that and to focus on something else. What is God asking you to be obedient too in the moment by moment day by day things?”

How do I respond to that? I couldn’t. And my friend suggested it was because I haven’t prayed about what God wanted to reveal in me and through me. I was too focused on the issues that I thought should take priority. It was as if God were saying “Don’t worry about others right now or about that list of issues you think you need to fix. I know about them but I want to focus on you and I. Ask me what I want to show you.” And as my friend and I prayed in the car there was only one response, a cleansing grace and an assurance of love. Love that looked beyond the failures and fears in my life, beyond the deep seeded feelings of inadequacies, of not being good enough, into the heart of who I am at my core; it was a love that accepted me for every flaw simply because I am His. In that moment, in a driveway along a country road where once was despair, and hurt, and pain there was now only gratitude, hope, and tears as I caught a glimpse of what the love of the King of Heaven truly looks like. It was a moment of peace when the only sound was of spiritual chains beginning to fall away from a heart that is slowly being released into the freedom of who Christ truly is.

*Guest post by Daniel Miller. Dan is  a long time family friend, a middle and high school Biology teacher, soccer coach and lover of all things nature.

Today’s Tidbit of Truth: The Lord wants us to pray to Him about us. It is not selfish to pray for yourself, it is only in praying for yourself, that the Image you were created in, can be revealed to you to reflect. One cannot see the truth of one’s true reflection unless they first stand in front of the mirror. Bring yourself before Him. 

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The Author and the Book

The Author and the Book

Within a room, upon a ledge, sat a book that was unread,

Lonely and cold, full of dust, pages unturned, smelling of must.

The room was closed and silent too, waiting for light just to shine through.

One day a door was opened wide, to reveal a man who stepped inside.

He looked around and began to clean, removing all the junk that was unseen

Then He came to the ledge, where that book was sitting on the edge.

He lifted it off that lonely place, and took it too an open space

Upon a desk he laid it down and took a moment to glance around.

He reached up high to open a shade and sunlight poured in from the outside glade.

He opened a drawer to pull out a pen and opened the book so He could begin

And as He sat and opened the book He smiled as He took His first look. Continue reading

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From – To

“It’s a new year. What is God calling you towards? Rather than making a new years’ resolution list, what about creating your own “from – to” list? I started to realize the last few years that the Lord weaves different themes throughout my year. This past year was a journey of the Lord calling me from zealous passion to mature balance in just about every area of my life. He called me from control to trust and obedience in things I couldn’t see the results of yet”. Continue reading –>