Marriage and Obedience

I admit, I wanted to be married. I jumped right in with an amateur’s mindset. I had loads of energy and enthusiasm and a desire to actively love, but once I hit a few bumps, I realized marriage is no joke. Life, work, unmet expectations, commitments, and demands all hit hard and it seemed active, engaged, and purposeful love was the first to go. It was easy to think things were going to be ok because we were married and made a commitment to stay together, but those thoughts were just not going to cut it. When efforts wane from both parties, the natural tendency is to think I need to take care of myself because I am the only one who can do it the right way. Thus starts the crazy cycle. A fixation on how unfulfilling marriage is became a dark cloud that overshadowed my once rose-colored glasses.

The other day, it occurred to me I have moved onto a new season in my marriage; I am no longer an amateur. A switch has flipped and I now consider extending grace and love to my husband one of my highest callings on this earth. I have become a professional. Like a vocation or a career – this is what I was called to do. After earning two degrees and working many years in the corporate world, I cannot believe I am writing this. Recalling all the hours I once spent as a designer studying the end-user and designing products to meet their needs, I now find myself applying in marriage all the things I would be doing to build my career. Such as on-the-job-training (as a wife), studying and learning about my subject (my husband), and becoming an expert in my field (marriage). It takes quite a bit of work and intentionality every day but I am so fulfilled. Yet, I wonder how our culture has us convinced marriage only requires the same amount of effort as you would put into a part-time job.

As a professional wife, I need to show up every day no matter what. It takes commitment to love my husband because the survival of my marriage is at stake. The stakes are high because my child is watching and he will learn sticktoitiveness and dedication by how my husband love in our marriage. More importantly, I accepted this job – I made a vow and I signed the papers. To become one with another person is not for the faint of heart. The more I seek to love my husband, the more I recognize my need for Jesus as my own humanity often gets in the way.

Genesis 1:27 says “God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” As equals my husband and I are both designed in the image of God. An image is a representation or physical likeness of a person. Therefore I believe I am to mirror God’s love in our marriage. Our union means I am the one person on this earth who is most equipped to extend the love and grace of God to my husband. I realize my husband is human just like me and if God can extend grace to me through His son Jesus, it is my job to extend the same grace to my husband. My mission to love my husband well is purely an act of obedience to the One who made me.

 Sacred Story is honored to have Julie Landreth as a guest contributor to the blog this month. Read her story Did I Marry A Jerk? in the story collection on the site to hear more about her journey. Julie is a speaker and a “wife coach” who loves sharing with women her passion for prayer and ways to actively cultivate a thriving marriage. She leads a growing number of women in San Jose, CA through her WifeLab curriculum: The Art of Praying for your Husband. She and her husband have cultivated a marriage filled with intentional love and communication. They have had a date night every Friday night since their son was 8 months old. She also finds deliberate ways to spend quality time with her 10 year old son who shares many of her artistic talents.

 

 

Marriage: Bunny slopes and double blacks

“I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.” Romans 7:18 NIV

How in the world does this verse relate to marriage? Couldn’t I have picked the more lovely wedding verses from I Corinthians about “faith, hope and love?” Sure, those are perfect for the beautiful wedding ceremony, the joining of two lives, two families, two sets of hopes and dreams flooded by the warmth of candle light, the aroma of fresh cut flowers in full bloom and the joy of your favorite people standing in your honor gushing glorious smiles over their finest clothes. That day is the top of the comfortable chairlift to the peak of the majestic mountaintop you have washed with your gaze since childhood.

But then you must lean forward, hold your skies together and descend off the lift without knocking each other down. This is where the sinful nature raises its ugly head and says, “Why did he just bump into me? What did she mean by that? Shouldn’t I be treated better? Defend yourself!” If you make it off the lift without injury, you stop to gaze at the amazing view and capture a picture together…on top of the world.

How will you traverse this mountain together? There are several different runs. Some are reportedly more difficult than others. Some have been recently groomed, others more adventuresome. What will he choose? What do I really want? Will I yield and trust? How will I communicate what I really want without controlling the situation and overruling his leadership, which I secretly desire? Does my opinion even matter? Will I follow him closely, skeptically, trustingly or at a distance? Will I give him enough room to fail? Will I stop and help him up or ski past? Who thinks like this? We all do.

As much as we want to ignore the sinful nature and highlight only the fleeting moments of good that we pretend to sustain, we are human. Marriage is hard. It’s a double black diamond that will test your ability to live in God’s strength versus your own. As Paul honestly writes, “For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.” So, stop pretending that you can. Grab a hold of the truth that only God can carry out unconditional love in your marriage. Lock your feet into these skies of truth and trust God’s unfailing love to guide you down together.

Expect joy and expect testing.

Icy patches will steal your control. Objects hidden under pure white snow will trip you. Other couples will ski past you with ease. When you are paralyzed with fear or broken down in pain and want to scream, “Get me off this mountain”, change your gaze. You’ll never make it down the mountain staring at each other, either in love or hate. It’s only when you change your gaze to the Creator of the mountain that you will glide down together as it was intended.

Where is your marriage? Bunny slope or black diamond?

Where is your focus?

Do you really trust God with your marriage?

In His Unfailing Love,
brandi                     *Read stories from women walking through challenges in marriage

Singleness

“Godliness with contentment is great gain.” (1 Timothy 6:6)

Graduating from Baylor University in the mid-90’s I assumed like my friends that I would marry in a few years. Why would my life not follow the pattern of my mom and friend’s moms? For many women in my generation our 20’s flew by and especially for me, as I was in graduate school most of my 20’s and early 30’s. After graduation I moved to New York City where I lived for the duration of my 30’s. So, you are probably thinking how did she not get married in Texas. If I told you that I had blonde hair, then you might be even more surprised but not Texas blonde. (You know you are laughing and googling Texas blonde.) Also, I have not mentioned that I went to seminary in Dallas as well. A Christian girl in seminary and in Texas seems like a perfect recipe to find true love.

Many amazing women and I share a similar story of being in supposedly the right place to get married. So, why are more women single than ever in the history of our country? Moving back to Nashville at 40 years old, my northeastern friends thought that I would be married in a couple of years and that is what I thought too. Busting my assumptions, many of the same amazing women whom I knew in my mid-20’s were still single. How could this be? Sure, many women were married, but more women were still single. Weren’t people supposed to marry earlier in the South? I certainly thought so.

There is no easy answer to this question: why are so many women single and have never been married in their late thirties and forties? We could blame the culture, men, sexual revolution, and online dating, and they have contributed to the sexualized culture and prolonged singleness. More than anything I want you to see– you have a role in your singleness too. Blame shifting will not help you but only hinder your growth. Leave the blame key at the door. The blame key does not open the door to contentment.

Let’s consider this: Has a lack of contentment caused you to miss some good guys right in front of you or good women for the guys? Discontentment breeds focusing on the negatives in a person, complaining about that person or the relationship, not committing because somebody better might come along, and not being able to be alone. Others of you barely noticed some of the good ones or did not encourage them because you were into another guy who was not right for you and probably not a good match. Those of you who like having a guy around are never single long enough to feel loneliness. If you can’t be content alone, then you will not be content in a relationship. Two healthy people make for a healthy relationship. In my experience, God did a lot of heart healing in my loneliness and through counseling.

By far the greatest joy in singleness has been finding contentment. By that I mean not focusing on what I do not have, but instead loving well those whom God has placed in my life and cultivating those family relationships and friendships near and far. Now, in dating relationships I focus more on these questions: do I really enjoy him, do I respect him, do I see good qualities in him, does he seek God, and does he treat others and me with respect? “Godliness with contentment is great gain.” (1 Timothy 6:6)    *Read stories of women walking through challenges in singleness

-Mary Carmen

Living with Singleness

Do not fear disgrace. . . You will forget the shame of your youth and remember no more the reproach of your widowhood. For your Maker is your husband—the Lord Almighty is his name—the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer; he is called the God of all the earth.   Isaiah 54:4-5

I don’t know how to process my relationship with Singleness at times. Partly because he’s been a presence in my story for much longer than I imagined. I want to break up but he doesn’t seem to get the not-so-subtle “I need out of the relationship” message. I can feel weary of desiring. I have discovered that these longings reveal deeper cries in my heart which I’d rather avoid because then I face the reality that my heart cannot be “fixed” or satisfied by anything or anyone on the earth. They are eternal longings designed to lead me to hope in Jesus and His promises.

As I live with desires which are not meant to be filled in this life I have learned to adjust my expectations about the “dreams and joys” I believe marriage will make real. With that said, I do pray fervently for a godly husband to share the journey on this earth. I also grieve my losses and keep an open hand to God’s unexpected joys through Singleness.

I have days that I “really like” Singleness and days where I would rather do anything than be around him. On the good days I embrace the Lord my Maker as my husband, seeing His protection and provision. I receive an unexpected kindness and an opportunity to love on others. I find sweet reward in a woman declaring His faithfulness through her story, pouring out creativity for the kingdom, going on a vacation or mission trip, and having fun spending time and money in life-giving ways.

On a bad day I scream, “What?!?! The Lord my Maker is my husband? Try to tell that to my bank account when I am struggling to make ends meet. I want a tangible husband who has a job. Don’t even bring that verse up to me when I am discouraged and want a devoted husband to put real-life arms around me. The reality of the Lord being my husband doesn’t work when I desire children and a spouse to share in building a family. And then there’s the delightful and dreaded wedding invitation with ‘and guest’ on the envelope. Sorry God, you just don’t make the cut for these desires.”

I don’t have answers for why Singleness sticks with me so faithfully or for my dear friends. What I do have is reflections from women who are mothers and live with Singleness. While leading a small group at a shelter for homeless women, we were talking about our desires which lead to hoping in the Lord. A dear sister who is volunteering with me shared a glimpse of her journey. As a single mother for many years she longed for a husband. She remembers one evening crying out to the Lord as she knelt by her bed. She described a warm presence enveloping her. God didn’t answer her prayer at the time – she did marry after her children were grown –  and yet the Lord made Himself known in a tender way.

I find comfort in knowing God comes to me and my sisters in times of need. He deeply loves us and is eager to be there for us. As we wrapped up our discussion focusing on Hannah’s desire for a son a precious sister asked, “Why do you think God answered Hannah’s prayer when she went to the temple that time?” You may recall Hannah suffered for many years with infertility and would go to the temple year after year to pray (I Samuel 1). This was such an insightful question that I don’t have the answer to so I did what every small group leader does in such perplexing moments – ask the group.

The sister on my right shared that God’s ways are higher than ours and we don’t see the bigger picture. Only God knew He was preparing Hannah to offer her son Samuel to be trained for the priesthood from the time he was 3 years old. He became a great spiritual leader in Israel’s history. Answering Hannah’s prayer involved intricate timing in God’s plan.

I amen-ed that timing seemed to revolve around Hannah’s deep desire for a son but also God’s heart for people around her and for future generations. There remains mystery in the “why” of our stories no matter what longings go unfulfilled. We closed our time by asking God to show us more about hope in the Holy One, our Redeemer, and the Lord of all the earth (Isaiah 54:5). I pray the same for you sister.   *Read stories of women walking through singleness

~Laura

Strengthening Your Marriage When Life is Chaotic

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“…let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.” (Eph. 5:33)

These past couple of months have been both exciting and exhausting for my husband, Kevin, and me. Traveling to Korea to adopt and going from raising 2 to 3 boys has been quite a transition for us. Schedules and added responsibilities in the home brought out some ugly parts of us we did not want to see.

As we talked, we realized we had to let go of many things in our lives but one thing we would not let go of was our marriage.

During any time of major transition in a family, it takes time to reach a new norm. A marriage most likely does not remain the same. It either weakens or strengthens. The good news is whatever you are going through, even if it is trauma, your marriage can grow and strengthen from it.

Here are some tips to strengthen your marriage during a major transition:

Simplify Expectations.

We demand perfection in ourselves and others these days. The word’s standards are high and harsh. Rest in God’s grace (Heb. 4:10) and simplify expectations for yourself and for your spouse. We needed room in our marriage and family to breathe. That meant if the boys skipped a bath, I didn’t get to homeschool a day, or we had to miss important parties and showers, we had to let go.

Simplify Roles.

It seems like we have more roles than we’ve ever had in our culture. It is important to simplify and know your roles so you can have perspective and focus in the midst of chaos. In a Christian marriage, we believe men are head of the household (Eph. 5:23) and women are helpers (Eph 5:22). The roles are different but equally important. We can’t have two CEO’s of a company.

As the head, men are designed to provide (I Tim. 5:8) and to protect (I Pet. 3:7) . Kevin needed to be able to focus on his job to provide and be given the room and respect to take care of me and the children.

As his helper, I needed to nurture and to support. I needed to manage the home and children (Prov. 31:27-28) during the day so he could focus on his job and not worry. When he came home, I needed to let him care for me and the children by stepping back and respecting him (I Pet. 3:1) and his decisions rather than boss him around.

When Kevin and I were able to walk in the God-given roles He gave us, it brought peace in our marriage and order in our home.

Worship God.

When life is chaotic, it is tempting to stop looking up and to start looking inward. The result? Finger-pointing, blame, fights and misery. There are times Kevin and I have been angry at each other and tempted not to go to church. However, the second we walk in church and are surrounded by Christ-followers and filled by God’s Word, love and forgiveness rush into our hearts and we walk out hand in hand.

Everything needs to center around worship, not vice versa (Josh. 24:14-15). It was important for our marriage and for our children to see while life changes like the shifting of the sand, worshipping God is our foundation.

It seems like in our current day, people are in transition more than ever. Simplifying our expectations and living out our God given roles while worshipping Him strengthens marriages and families.  Is your marriage strengthening or weakening?

Edna Lee   *Follow this link to read stories of women walking through various struggles in marriage

The Rest We Really Need

This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel says, “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength…” Is. 30:15a

I just returned from teaching at a retreat in San Antonio with the women of Redeemer Presbyterian Church. It was a blessing for me on many levels, primarily because some of my dearest friends were there with me. But it was also the theme of the weekend that really ministered to me.

When I agree to teach at a retreat I am sometimes asked to come up with a topic. Other times the theme is assigned. This time, the latter was the case and so I was asked to speak about “Resting in Jesus.” That’s a theme I can get behind in this season of my life. How about you?

I gladly dove into a study on the biblical concept of rest as I prepared and I learned a great deal. During the weekend we focused primarily on Matthew 11:28-30, the well-loved verses that speak to our need to come to Jesus for true rest:

“Come to me all you who are weary and heavy-laden and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

These verses are loaded with hope but they are also packed with conviction. I am learning in this season of my life that without coming, taking and learning, there is no hope for me to find true rest. The Lord invites us to commune with Him in order to find His deep, soul-satisfying provision of rest. This rest is a sacred space we share with our Savior when the world around us is weighing us down. We often think of rest as a verb, but the rest spoken about here is first given and then secondly found. It’s His gracious gift as we turn to Him. It’s a quiet confidence found in claiming that His grace is sufficient for today and every day.

I’m really grateful for the things the Lord is teaching me in this season of my life about finding this rest. I often don’t have the ability to have long periods of quiet with the Lord like I did before having children. But this is what I’m learning: He offers His rest whenever I’m seeking Him. It may be in the carpool line, or in the moments right before I get out of bed in the morning. It may be when I’m in the produce department at HEB or in the waiting room at the doctor’s office. The offer is always there to enter an abiding trust in my Savior. When I’m seeking Him, He always has something to show me whether it is a reminder of a promise in His Word, a reflection of His character through nature or a convicting nudge about a sin I need to deal with.

So let’s redefine rest and realize it’s not always about sleep (although, I’ll admit, I would love a good nap today). It’s about embracing what is offered to us each and every day as we seek to trust in Jesus. That’s the kind of rest we need most of all.

~Courtney

 

 

 

A Beloved Daughter Instead of An Orphan

As I entered my preteen years, my younger sister landed the role of one of the orphans in the musical Annie. I remember belting out the tunes with her while listening to the record player of songs about life in an orphanage . . “It’s a hard knock life for us! It’s a hard knock life for us! Instead of kisses we get kicked. . .”. I loved watching the performance on stage, taking in the sounds and images of the orphaned children singing and dancing while declaring their “hard knock life.” I felt so relieved and happy for Annie when she was adopted by Daddy Warbucks.

I was far from an orphaned as child – I had a safe place to sleep and meals prepared, new clothes to wear, and parents who wanted good things for me and my brothers and sisters. Although I did not face the physical challenges of an orphaned child, some of the mindsets and experiences I encountered with while growing up left me feeling insecure, abandoned, and fearful. What are examples of an “orphaned” mentality?

  • It’s not okay to have a need so I have no right to desire or ask
  • Uncertainty of whether I am wanted
  • I deserve the “leftovers” in life
  • Nobody is looking out for me so I must protect myself
  • I am stuck with my pain and life will never be different

When I came to know Jesus Christ while in college, I was adopted into the family of God as a beloved daughter. Ephesians 1:4-5 puts it this way,  “Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ.” This verse affirms a “beloved daughter mentality”:

  • I am always treasured and loved by my Heavenly Father and received into His embrace

In John 14:16,18 Jesus declares truth about what will happen when He leaves the earth, “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. . . No, I will not abandon you as orphans—I will come to you.”

  • I am never left to live life on my own but instead have an Advocate, the Holy Spirit, who gives me the strength to experience an abundant and meaningful life

Jesus addresses the security of knowing a Father who is able, capable, and powerful to meet every need. In Matthew 6:32, He provides this perspective, “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs.”

  • I have freedom to express my desires and needs because my Heavenly Father who has unlimited knowledge and resources anticipates and meets them as He filters through His wisdom what will be for my benefit and His glory

Romans 8:15 continues the theme of the benefits of belonging to God the Father by reassuring those who know Him of the following, “So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.”

  • I do not need to fear being stuck in my pain or in the patterns of thinking which harm me and others because I am united with God’s Spirit who transforms me into Christlikeness

To a certain degree we all experience an “orphan” mentality due to the nature of sin which separates us from God, ourselves, and others. We all can feel like we are unwanted, abandoned, and stuck. Yet God is calling me and you to live out our stories as beloved daughters who belong to an all-loving, all-knowing, all-powerful Heavenly Father.

Sister, do you see an orphan mentality in yourself or others?

~Laura

 

Perseverance of Children from Divorced Homes

“For you have been my hope, O Sovereign Lord, my confidence since my youth.” Psalm 71:5

The excitement of freshly sharpened pencils and a new backpack during the fall of first grade did not last long when my parents told my brother and I that they were getting a divorce. First grade was a rough year.

My mother created a very loving and stable home my brother and I with my grandparent’s help, which I am beyond words thankful for. But it did not cure the sadness in my heart for not having a mom and dad at home to eat dinner with each night, play with on the weekends, or go on trips. Watching my mom sacrifice for my brother and I to receive an excellent education caused anger and resentment towards my dad.

In eighth grade, I encountered Jesus in a whole new way, understanding that He loved me and wanted to be a part of every area of my life. God was not far and distance, but He became someone whom I could count on and filled my heart with joy in the midst of difficult circumstances. What I learned is that prayer works. Not to say that God answered all my prayers. He brought such love into my heart that I had new capacity to reach out to all sorts of people, to forgive, and be patient and faithful to pray and trust God to lead and guide my life-choices.

Even when one of my parents would be angry for hours or days, refusing not to talk to me, I chose to not let the way they were treating me steal my joy. I was honest and shared what I thought to be truth, so I had peace about it. Having peace did not mean that I was not sad, I certainly was but the Lord’s love for me was such an anchor in my life that it gave me strength to battle anger and the ability to choose forgiveness. I felt compassion and prayed for my parent because I knew that he did not know the voice of the Holy Spirit in his life like I did. Without the wisdom and counsel of the Holy Spirit, normal patterns of behavior routinely repeated themselves. What I learned at young age was not to expect non-Christians to act like Christians.

Since eighth grade, I have regularly prayed for my dad and our relationship. I would not accept anger as a norm in our relationship. I wanted more and believed with God’s help there was a better way. I could fill pages and pages of specific ways that God has brought healing and helped us develop a good relationship.

I wish that I was there right now to look into your eyes to tell you that there is a better way and do not settle for the lie that your loved one, your friend, or you are too messed up for God to love and to change your life. I should have been one of those statistics of a girl from a broken home who looked for love in all the wrong places, but with God’s help I chose as a young teen and continue to choose a better way of living because I know the one who is the WAY to a life of freedom, love, and beauty. I have had my share of setbacks, but because God’s voice has become my True North through all the time spent learning about Him in the Bible with small groups, my family & friends, in church, alone, and then through the stories of other people’s lives I am able to see just a little light or hear His voice even when it can be so faint due to the noise of the world or the darkness of sin in my own heart.

Expect the hard times for without them you will not get where you are going.

Life is a journey, so train hard for no athlete developed strength without adding weight. The pressure will make you stronger.

Do not forgot sprints in your training because in a moment’s notice all the hard spiritual work will be the fuel that you need to respond quickly to a situation.

Keep praying. God brought my mom a great husband and stepfather to my brother and I, and I have a good relationship with my dad.

Live to conquer your struggles with the Lord’s help and you will win the abundant life found only in Jesus. Jesus wins the war the end, so why don’t you join the winning team. Healing is hard, so you have to really want it. How much do you really want to win in the important things in life?

 -Mary Carmen

P. S. My five year-old nephew came upstairs to find out what I was doing while I was finishing this post for Sacred Story Ministries this month on writing about a theme in my life story. He said that he wanted to help me write. This is what he wrote: “God Loves Rainer. God forgives Joe, Gaga, Mommy, Daddy, Simon, Genevieve, Rainer, and Mary Carmen.” What God wants you to know is that He loves and forgives you.

One’s Loss is Another’s Gain

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Heb. 12:2)

I can’t believe our little adopted son, Yohan, has been with us for almost a month now! We love every second with him. He is such a sweet and playful boy.

Many people ask how it was when we picked up Yohan in Korea. Most people imagine balloons and big celebrations. However, that was not the case. Yohan had been lovingly cared for by a foster mother and father for almost 2 years of his life. We had several visits with them, and Yohan was deeply attached to them.

We were informed the hand-off would be quick for the sake of the foster parents and Yohan. We all played together for 30 minutes. You could feel the anxiety in the room.

Then, the foster parents carried Yohan to the parking lot where there was a van waiting to bring Kevin, me and Yohan to our hotel. The social worker asked me and Kevin to enter into the van first. As the foster parents walked up to the van and handed Yohan to me, Yohan screamed for them, the door shut and the driver drove away.

I immediately gave Yohan his bottle and broke down crying as I saw the foster mother cry through the window. The foster father ran towards the van waving good-bye, a rare scene for a Korean man. I was crying feeling the deep grief for Yohan and the foster parents.

For 2 years, we prayed for the foster parents. They were older and Yohan was the 20th child they fostered. We prayed the Lord would give them His love for Yohan. We prayed the Lord would give them strength and grace as they cared for Yohan. They cried like it was their first child they ever had. God faithfully answered our prayers.

As we marvel every day at Yohan and pinch his little cheeks, we thank God He gave Yohan to us. Words can’t begin to express how much we love him and how amazing he is to us. However, as we write updates and send pictures to the foster parents about Yohan, we know they are experiencing loss. Their loss is our gain. This is also true of Yohan’s birth parents.

As I have been reflecting, ‘one’s loss is another’s gain’ is a common theme in life. A mother gives her son away in marriage to bless his new wife. A wife leaves her friends and family to move to another state to support her husband’s job. A mother gives up her job to care for her children. A friend sacrifices her time, money and sleep to be by her dying friend.

One who loves deeply often experiences loss for the gain of another. Jesus is the ultimate example of One who lost so we could gain. He gave up his life so we may gain eternal life with Him. He died so we may live. He did it with utter joy. It takes courage to love. It is tempting to withhold love for fear of loss. Will you choose to love and lose than not love at all?

Edna Lee

Change Lives this Valentine’s Day

Valentine-2017Star of Hope is a homeless shelter and transitional living center in Houston designed to help men and women find hope in Christ and get back on their feet. There are currently 86 women living in the transitional home (35 singles and 51 with families) and we have an opportunity to bless them with a Valentine’s Gift to remind these sisters of His love during a difficult chapter in their stories.

Each gift bag will be decorated and will contain a copy of Laura’s study Capture My Heart, Lord along with chocolate and a mug or flower. To cover the cost of the gifts, we are asking women in the Sacred Story community to consider giving $10 per woman to provide a gift as a reminder of God’s love for her. Our goal is to raise $860 for the funds to provide a gift for all 86 sisters. We are over two-thirds of the way there with $150 left. Praise God! A small group Bible study will kick off, led by Laura which will last from the end of February to late May.

Here are ways you can take part.

Give! Donate $10 for one gift, $30 for three, $80 for eight, etc. Follow this link to contribute.

Pray! For the women, for God’s financial provision, for God’s Word to bear fruit in the women’s lives

Help assemble and pass out bags at Star of Hope! We need 2-3 volunteers to help Laura on Wednesday evening, February 1st, at 6:30pm at Star of Hope’s monthly community meeting where the women will receive their gifts and hear about the upcoming study. Please reach out to Laura via email to let her know your interest.

Be part of the women’s lives through the study! Laura is praying for 2-4 women to attend the study once or twice a month on Monday evenings from 6:45 – 8:00pm to sow into the women’s lives and be prayer support as the study unfolds. Please reach out to Laura via email to gather more information.