A Divorce? Hope for Christian Women!

divorce

Is there life after divorce? Yes! There definitely is. 

No one need to tell you divorce is a type of death. Sure, you have a pulse but your dreams cracked open, and you feel broken. Shattered.

“Will I ever be happy?” a recently divorced woman and mother of several adult children asked me.

“Yes, as God fits together the pieces, and as you apply God’s Word to your life, you’ll experience a joy that’s deeper than circumstantial happiness,” I replied. “Do you want to get better?”

She twisted the tissue in her hands. “Yes.”

In this article, I’ll share hope and help in three significant ways:

  1. Identifying the ultimate cause of divorce
  2. Giving encouragement from divorced Christian women.
  3. Three tips toward wholeness after divorce.

Ultimate Cause of Divorce

The ultimate cause of divorce is sin. Sin is selfish, prideful, and misaligned with God’s written Word, that is, the Bible. In the Bible, God gives two legitimate grounds for divorce:

  • Unrepentant, sexual adultery. (Matthew 5:31, 19:9)
  • Desertion by an unbeliever. (1 Corinthians 7:15-16)

Even though these are legitimate grounds for divorce, God always meant for marriage to be for life. In Malachi 2:16, God says he hates divorce because it’s borne from sin and brings destruction.

In what ways have you experienced the effects of destruction? Have you received care or condemnation from your Christian friends?

Remember, for Christians:

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:1, ESV)

God doesn’t condemn you, dear friend, even though you and your ex sinned against each other. When God brings together two sinners in a marriage, guess what? They sin. God uses marriage to chip away at your character flaws–and his. Sometimes marital conflict seems unbearable, doesn’t it?

Encouraging Words 

“I used to feel rejected,” Lana said. “That first year was unbearable. My sleep was awful and I couldn’t stop eating junk food.

A neighbor asked me over for coffee. This was a turning point.

“We talked and I began to see that it wasn’t just his fault. I was selfish too. My friend listened. I thank God for her.”

heart

“I went back to bed after I got the kids off to school,” Annie shared. “Life seemed black after the divorce. What kept me going were my kids and going to church on Sundays.

“I thought I went to church for them so they could be in Sunday School, but

the worship songs melted by hardened heart.

“I began to look up again. It still hurts and money is still tight, but I have hope now.”

heart

“My husband was into porn,” Jess said. “I didn’t know about his addiction when we married. We talked to the pastor. Justin would stop for a while then I’d catch him at it again. I felt so numb, I didn’t know what to do. He said he didn’t want to hurt me so he divorced me.”

“I guess the good that came out of it was getting counseling and growing closer to the Lord.”

Three Tips Toward Wholeness

  1. Learn conflict resolution. A main reason for bitterness in marriage is failing to work through problems. Commit to speaking the truth in love to family members, coworkers, and people at church and in your neighborhood. When you speak the truth in love, you communicate your feelings lovingly and work toward a solution.
  2. Figure out what kindles your anger and fear. As your identify the thoughts that prompt your emotions you can change them. “Take every thought captive to obey Christ” (1 Corinthians 10:5).
  3. Cling to your identity in Christ. You are God’s beloved child. Get my 64-page eBook to savor the “5 Amazing Names God Calls You!”

Join the Conversation

How has divorced touched your life? Where did you find hope and healing?

AN OFFER: Get a free consultation! Great for any woman going through hurt or who has questions. Contact me now.

Sharing Hope with Your Heart,

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Counseling in the Internet Age

internet

In the Internet age, counseling has a new look. I’ve counseled people over Skype as far away as Tanzania, New Zealand, and Cambodia, and as close as ten miles from my office.

Advantages of Internet Counseling

Here are a few groups groups who access biblical counseling over the Internet:

  • People in remote areas
  • People without access to biblical counseling in their area, such as a ranch in the middle of Montana
  • The home-bound
  • Mothers of very young children
  • Counselees in dicey weather (thunderstorms, snow storms) who usually come in the office

Excerpts from Plugged In

plugged-in-coverMy friend Marie Notcheva (who also is listed on Heart2Heart Counselor Directory here on my site) interviewed me for her book Plugged In: Proclaiming Christ in the Internet Age (Pure Water Press) and shared some of my stories of counseling in the Internet age in her book. She wrote:

Lucy has done premarital counseling with a Hong Kong real-estate heiress, counseled a former gang member in the a U.S. city, and helped numerous women around the world walk more closely with God.

CONVENIENCE. “It’s convenient, and the Internet has opened doors to many people in nations without access to biblical counseling,” she points out. She has counseled women in Cambodia, Sweden, the UK, Hong Kong, Switzerland and Australia, as well as the US.

WORKING WITH A LOCAL CHURCH. One dramatic turn-around happened in the life of a West Coast woman and mom of three small children, who had to flee from an abusive husband. “Julie” had heard about Lucy through a mutual friend. Lucy first heard Julie’s cry for help over the phone. Soon they began regular telephone counseling sessions.

“We had a lot of good conversations, in which I was able to get a lot of details about the abuse from her husband,” Lucy notes. In an emergency situation, Julie reached a point where she had to take the children and flee the home. She went to the Midwest, where she had family, and commenced Skype counseling with Lucy while getting involved in a local church.

The combination of online counseling and involvement in a local church was what greatly aided Julie in applying the Scriptures to her life – and turning it around.

ANONYMITY. Lucy tells the story of “Beth,” a young woman who joined a Chicago gang for a sense of belonging. Following a horrific gang initiation (essentially gang-rape), unimaginable violence and sexual abuse followed. Beth would point the camera down, at her feet when she divulged these details to Lucy. Her shame was so great that she would not show her face, even through a computer monitor. At the same time, however, Beth desperately wanted someone to hear her story – and talking to Lucy in this way was the only way to get it out.

At the time, she could not tell anyone at her church. The subject was so sensitive that it demanded distance, until Beth was able to work through the issues of neglect and sin that had affected her childhood and adolescence. Beth now attends a gospel-preaching church and has grown greatly there. “I see this as a ‘graduation’ of sorts—seeing counselees plugged into a church body,” Lucy says.

For more on using technology, see Marie’s book, Plugged In: Proclaiming Christ in the Internet Age (Pure Water Press).

An Opportunity for You

Would you like to know more about counseling with me by Skype? Please send me a message. I offer a free confidential consultation so you can ask questions and share concerns.

Sharing Hope with Your Heart,

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Eat Well, Obey God

eat well

Did you know God wants you to eat well and take care of your body? I received a strange message from God (it’s in the Bible) one summer day several years ago. This message led me to eat a pork chop. Weird, huh?

Pork isn’t particularly healthy and I had been a vegetarian for fourteen years. God had better plans. How does an avowed vegetarian–and author of vegetarian books–end up with a chunk of pork chop on her fork?

I obeyed God.

God Spoke, I Obeyed

While at the barbecue, piling my plate with corn and coleslaw, I heard in my heart this Bible verse.

For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, 1 Timothy 4:4, NIV

It sounds silly but this was a spiritual crisis for me. Would I stick to my vegetarian principles and eat well (i.e., no meat), or be thankful for the food set before me and obey God?

There sat a pork chop on my plate. I held a fork and knife. I stabbed. I ate. The verdict: Delicious!

My hubby grinned. My children looked at each other, wide-eyed. I forked another piece of pork.

Even though my vegetarian days ended a dozen years ago, I keep my meat intake to a minimum in order to eat well. One reason: Eating green is eco-friendly. Eco-friendly eating is good stewardship of God’s creation. I’d love to share a few recipes I wrote. I hope you like them. Eat well, my friends.

3 Delicious Vegetarian Recipes 

Quick Black Bean Burritos

This dish pairs legumes and cheese with healthy carbs. It’s ready in 20 minutes.

Sauce:

1/2 onion, chopped

1 tsp. minced fresh garlic

1/2 tsp. ground cumin

One 14 1/2-ounce can diced tomatoes

1 to 2 Tbs. minced green chilies, fresh or canned, seeded

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Burritos:

Eight 10-inch flour tortillas, preferably whole wheat

One 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed

1/2 red onion, diced

3/4 cup cooked brown rice

3/4 cup shredded reduced-fat sharp cheddar cheese

1/2  cup nonfat sour cream

1/2 avocado, diced (optional)

2 Tbs. fresh cilantro leaves for garnish

Sauce: Place the ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth, about 1 minute. Set aside.

Burritos: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. lay a tortilla on your working surface. Spoon about 1/4 cup black beans across the center of the tortilla, followed by a tablespoon each of onion, rice, and cheese. Roll up and place the burrito seam side down in a 9-by-13-inch lightly oiled baking dish. Repeat with the remaining tortillas, onion, rice, and cheese.

Spoon the sauce over the burritos and bake for 12 minutes. Serve the burritos topped with the sour cream, avocado if using and cilantro. Serves 4.

Spicy Sesame Noodles

Pasta with Asian flair. Soba is best but linguini works too.

1 pound whole-wheat soba noodles or regular linguini

1 Tbs. sesame oil

6 scallions, green parts only, sliced

1 red bell pepper, sliced

1 tsp. peeled and minced ginger root

1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves

1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper, or to taste

2 tsp. low-sodium soy sauce

1/4 cup toasted sesame seeds

Prepare the noodles according to the package directions. Drain. Transfer to a serving dish. Cover.

In a medium skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat and saute the scallions, red bell pepper, and ginger root for 2 minutes. Add the cilantro, cayenne, and soy sauce, and saute a minute more. Toss with the noodles. Sprinkle the sesame seeds on top. Serve warm or cold. Serves 6.

Strawberry Orange Ice

This refreshing ice is a pretty, deep pink and vitamin-rich.

1 cup calcium-fortified orange juice

2 cups strawberries. fresh or frozen

1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice

1/4 cup granulated sugar (optional)

Orange slices for garnish

In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients except for the orange slices. Pour into a shallow, nonmetallic pan and freeze, stirring occasionally, until almost frozen, about 3 or so hours. (Freezing time depends on the shallowness of the container and the temperature of the freezer.) Spoon into four dessert dishes, garnish with the orange slices, and serve at once. Serves 4.

Sharing Hope with Your Heart,

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Reclaim Purity in a Sexy Culture

purity

Doesn’t purity seems “old-fashioned” and “not relevant” in today’s sexy culture? Many Christian girls and women have given in to peer pressure and media messages that you’re weird if you aren’t sexually active. You remember what it was like to be young, hormones raging, don’t you?

Did you or a someone dear to you have sex before marriage? What did a loss of purity cost them or you?

In this short article, you’ll learn:

  • the statistics on purity among young adult Christians
  • the pressures to have sex before marriage
  • how to reclaim purity

“Our souls crave intimacy”—Erwin Raphael McManus

Like other Christian women, you may have planned to remain a virgin until your wedding night but then. . .your Christian girlfriends were sexually active and you thought, “What’s the harm,” or. . .your boyfriend pressured you to have sex, or. . .you were drunk and one thing led to the other. . .

The truth is: You can start over from where you are right now. You can find hope, help and healing.

Statistics on Purity

Are single Christians having sex?

Eighty percent of unmarried young adults (ages 18-29) who are self-identify as evangelical Christians have had sex, reports a study by The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy. The same study reported that this percentage is slightly less than the 88 percent for all unmarried young adults.

Yet virginity may be on the rise, suggests a 2011 report from the National Center for Health Statistics. Twelve years ago 22 percent of men and women under age 24 said they were abstinent. Five years later that figure stood at 29 percent for women and 27 percent for men.

TRUTH: Real intimacy is not found just by merging bodies in sex. There’s a high emotional component.

Pressures Against Purity

including Porn!

MEDIA, CULTURE, MUSIC, PORN: The media markets sex. The culture encourages it. Music celebrates it. Pornography is so widespread that few Christian men and women (and children) have not seen it. Pornography creates a sick misunderstanding of God’s gift of sex. It become extremely selfish.

God designed sex to be selfless and beautiful–and between a husband and wife. In the Song of Solomon, the author Solomon describes the sexual longing of the woman on her wedding night:

Awake, O north wind,

And come, O south!

Blow upon my garden,

That its spices might flow out.

Let my beloved come to his garden

And eat its pleasant fruits (4:16).

LATER FIRST MARRIAGES: The average age for first marriages has increased over several decades. In 1965, the average man first married at age 22.8; the average woman, 20.6. In 2010, the average age was 28.1 for men and 26.1 for women, according the U.S. Bureau of Statistics.

Purity rings and True Love Waits campaigns don’t appeal to 30-something singles.

A college-educated, 27-year-old Christian woman told me, “I didn’t have sex in my teens and early twenties but now I have a boyfriend. I don’t sleep around. I’m careful with whom I have sex. Marriage isn’t what it used to be. It’s a different today.”

BIRTH CONTROL. Before the advent of the birth control control pill in 1960s, getting married and having babies went hand in hand. Now couples could have sex with little concern for pregnancy, removing a main reason for marriage. Says Albert Mohler in We Cannot Be Silent: “So long as sex was predictably related to the potential of pregnancy, a huge biological check on sex outside of marriage functioned as a barrier to sexual immorality. Once that barrier was removed, sex and children became effectively separated and sex became redefined as an activity that did not have any necessary relation to the gift of children. It is impossible to exaggerate the importance of the separation of sex and babies from the moral equation.”

A Story of Reclaimed Purity

Naomi (a composite of women I have counseled) desires to one day marry a Christian man, but her teens read like read like a Harlequin. As long as she liked the guy, they concluded the date in bed. Most of her friends did the same thing. What’s the cost of lost purity? How does lost purity hurt a Christian woman?

As Naomi and I talked, I learned that her upbringing influenced her view of her sexuality. Her dad was emotionally unavailable, and a family member had touched her inappropriately. She heard the gospel through a campus ministry and became a Christian but old patterns clung like Velcro. She still liked guys’ attention and was tempted to have sex with them. She struggled with feelings of remorse, confusion, and worthlessness.

In counseling she and other singles I’ve counseled discovered three important truths.

  1. God helps you overcome temptation. 1 Corinthians 10:13 says:

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

To face temptation, why not choose to be confident in the truth of God’s Word? Cultivate a daily walk with Jesus through prayer and Bible reading? Connect with a church? Commit to being thankful?

2. You are complete in Christ. Marriage doesn’t complete a woman, Jesus does. I counseled a woman who deeply desired marriage. Two disappointing relationships with men she met through an online Christian dating service brought her to my office. She felt depressed. She had the wrong belief she’d be happy only in marriage. During our time together she learned that singleness can be a gift (1 Corinthians 7:32-35) and she needed to wait on God’s timing (Psalm 91:2).

3. Choose to embrace “renewed abstinence.”

Renewed abstinence is obeying God’s Word to wait for sex until marriage. It’s reclaimed purity. God promises to help you as you build godly relationships with with fellow believers, both men and women.

Do you struggle with purity? Do you have questions about choices you made in your past? Do you want contentment? Please send me a message and will can talk and/or set up a counseling appointment by Skype or in person (in Chicago area).

Sharing Hope with Your Heart,

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Do You Complain? Does Your Kid?


complain

People who complain. . .how do they learn to stop?

In this short article, you’ll learn:

  1. Complaining is the sad norm.
  2. The real message that complaining sends.
  3. A solution to complaining.

Join the Crowd

Haven’t we all been guilty of complaining at one time or another? The other day, my 17 year old complained that:

  • He wasn’t allowed pizza rolls in his bedroom.
  • We said “no” to his plan to drive 60 miles on unfamiliar roads.
  • He had to pick up wet towels and hang them on a towel rod.

Your complaints may sound different from a teenager’s complaints.

Your friend forgets your birthday. A virus invades your hard drive. Your boss gives the better project to your coworker. Each of these scenarios are fodder to complain and grumble. What circumstances led to your complaints this week?

Real Message of Complaining

Complaining sends a message through words, tone or voice, and body language: “It’s not fair.”

A kid might say or think, “It’s not fair that my friend gets an iPhone and I don’t.” Or, “His family is spending the day at a water park and I’m stuck at home.”

Ultimately the “it’s not fair” message points a finger at God. 

When your kid complains–when you complain–your heart reveals self-centered sorrow. You feel angry and your anger may turn to bitterness. You think God hasn’t treated you fairy. You might even think that God’s made a big mistake.

In the Old Testament, Job (pronounced jobe) questioned God’s wisdom in letting horrible things happen to him–the deaths of his ten children and the obliteration of his livestock as well as his own ruined health. In chapters 38 to 40 of Job, God reminds him that he alone has limitless wisdom.

God’s main point: Who do you think you are, Job?

Speaking from a whirlwind, God says to Job:

“Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?
    Tell me, if you have understanding.
 Who determined its measurements—surely you know!
    Or who stretched the line upon it?
 On what were its bases sunk,
    or who laid its cornerstone,
 when the morning stars sang together
    and all the sons of God shouted for joy? 38:4-7

God is wise, just, good, sovereign, love. Nothing happens in your life or your child’s life surprises God. When you feel confused and angry, God doesn’t need your advice or my advice. God invites you to deepen your trust.

God is trustworthy. He never makes mistakes. He loves you.

 A Solution to Complaining

Did you know that what you believe about God affects the way you think, feel, and act?

THREE TRUTHS:

  1. When you believe God is all-wise, you accept the truth that what God does is for your good and his glory, even though you may not understand God’s reasons.
  2. When you believe is God’s sovereign, you believe the truth that he is fully capable of devising how to handle your situation.
  3. When you believe God is good, you acknowledge that God knows why you have problems and shows you the best way to resolve them.

As you choose to act as a child of God, guess what happens?

Gratitude bubbles up in you and overflows your life. Gratitude isn’t a blindly optimistic. You don’t whitewash the bad things in life. Pain and injustice exist in this world.

When you focus on God’s gifts of life, you gain a feeling of well-being. Gratitude brings balance and hope. Do you have a grateful heart? Think of several things to write on your very own gratitude list.

Here’s how I began my gratitude list:

red geraniums

butterflies

friends who listen

dark chocolate

the color purple

the ability to read and walk and sleep deep

As you practice gratitude, you’ll complain less often. When you fall back into grumbing, you’ll be quick to confess your grumbling to God, and repent. You’ll discover new hope. As the psalmist says,

The LORD is my strength and my shield; My heart trusts in Him and I am helped; Therefore, my heart exults, And with my song I shall thank Him. Psalm 28:7

Sharing hope with your heart,

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