Book Excerpt: Surviving in a Difficult Christian Marriage

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Elisabeth Corcoran’s new book, Surviving in a Difficult Christian Marriage, released on Valentine’s Day.

Here is an excerpt:


Who Am I to Judge?

Question: How do you confront your husband when he’s in sin?

The same way you eat an elephant…one bite at a time and very, very carefully.

Somewhere along the way, I got the impression that it wasn’t my place to confront my husband.  For two reasons.  First, I had it in my head that a man should do it.  I have literally no idea where I came up with that one. And secondly, I thought, “Who am I to judge him? I’m a total nutcase, a complete mess.”  Another reason some might have that keeps them from speaking up is fear of what will happen if they do.

I no longer believe that only another man can speak into the life of a husband.  I believe part of what God meant for us when he calls us the “helpmate” is to come alongside our partners and help them live holy lives.

Sara Groves expresses this beautifully in one of my favorite songs, Different Kinds of Happy:

It’s a sweet, sweet thing
standing here with you and nothing to hide
light shining down to our very insides
sharing our secrets, baring our souls,
helping each other come clean

In fact, I even played this song for my daughter and niece and told them to look for this quality when choosing their husbands.  Being able to ask each other the hard questions is part and parcel with a healthy marriage.  You are allowed to ask anything.  If you’re not, that’s a red flag.

I totally get where I was coming from on the judging part though.  None of us are sinless.  But if we wait until we’re completely without sin to point out something to someone who is going down a dangerous path, no one would ever hold anyone accountable for anything.  If you are doing your best to walk with God and if you are as current with him as you can be as far as your own faults go, you have the obligation to help a fellow believer see the error of his ways.  If your spouse is hurting you, someone else or himself either physically, emotionally or spiritually, it needs to be called out.  Just make sure you’re prayed up and ask the Holy Spirit to give you the right words and to give your husband a softened heart to accept your concerns.

If fear of fallout is what’s holding you back, that should tell you something.  Though there are definitely topics of conversation that are harder to bring up than others, you should never be fearful of your spouse.  If you are, that signals a bigger problem.  If this is the case, then ask someone to have this difficult conversation with you, like a counselor, pastor or friend of your husband’s.  It needs to be someone you can trust and someone who will make sure that what you have to say is heard.

Listen, going to someone to tell them that they’ve hurt you or are hurting themselves is never easy.  But it’s part of what God wants for those of us living in community and trying to become more like Jesus.  It’s a burden but it’s also a sweet, sweet thing.

Secrets and cyphers
there’s no good way to hide
there’s redemption in confession
and freedom in the light
I’m not afraid, I’m not afraid
-Sara Groves

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1011676_10202979914041105_1570950043_nElisabeth Klein Corcoran is the author of Surviving in a Difficult Christian Marriage and Unraveling: Hanging Onto Faith Through the End of a Christian Marriage, along with several other books. She speaks several times a month to women’s groups, and is a member of Redbud Writers’ Guild. She lives with her children in Illinois.

Visit her online at http://www.elisabethcorcoran.com/difficult-marriage-divorce/ or https://www.facebook.com/ElisabethKleinCorcoran.  She is the moderator of two private Facebook groups: one for women in difficult Christian marriages, and one for Christian women who are separated or divorced. Email her at elisabeth@elisabethcorcoran.com if interested in joining.

Elisabeth is a proud Member of Redbud Writer’s Guild and has been featured on Moody’s In the Market with Janet Parshall, This is the Day with Nancy Turner, and Midday Connection with Anita Lustrea.

In Sickness and in Health? (When Marriage Vows Are Challenged)

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photo credit below

There are factors that put a strain on marriage. Some are internal ones like pride, selfishness, bitterness, unforgiveness, etc., while others are external ones like finances, (un)employment, sickness, etc. (Both internal and external ones can or do occur mutually!)

Many have used the traditional vow in their marriage ceremony:

“I, (________), take you (__________), to be my lawfully wedded (wife/husband), to have and behold from this day on, for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; until death do us part.”

The negative part of each of those vows (worse, poorer, sickness) is hardly considered at the altar, for typically a couple’s dreams are floating on their present state of mind and emotion.

But what happens when that couple finds themselves in an unplanned storm of worse, poorer, or sickness? Suddenly the vows take on new weight. And for some, it is overwhelming.

Each one of those factors deserve attention, and can be addressed extensively, but my focus today is on the “in sickness and in health” part of the vow.

The marriage commitment is put to the test when a spouse becomes seriously ill, diagnosed with a disease, or develops an incurable condition. Many pass the test and their love and commitment grow stronger, while for others it seems to be the beginning of the end of their marriage. (We have walked through this with my husband’s diagnosis of epilepsy nine years ago.  That valley (everything that occurred as a result  from his first tonic-clonic seizure in another country) shook us, but our commitment to each other and especially MY commitment to him, emerged fortified.)

Worse for a marriage than a spouse becoming ill is when a child is struck with a life-threatening illness or is born with a serious medical condition. From what I have read and been told, it seems that most of those marriages fall under a stress that eventually fractures the union entirely. (If you know of any studies in this area, please leave a comment. I’d be curious to see factual statistics.)

This is heartbreaking on so many levels.

I said most, not all. In the book Between Heaven and Healing, author and pastor’s wife Melanie Boulis shares the story of their daughter’s diagnosis and battle with cancer, and how it affected their marriage:

“Kevin and I were starting to fight a lot over Danielle’s care. The stress was building and we were taking it out on each other. The tension was awful. Caring for Danielle became a 24-hour a day job.”

Even spiritual leaders are not exempt from the stress and strain of this type of battle. The good news is that the Boulis’ passed through that storm, and are still together. The sad news is that their daughter passed away.

A friend who is walking through a difficult time with her sick child wrote me, upon my request, with the top ten ways to pray for parents of seriously ill children. The first request on the list was for the marriage:

“Most couples I know from the hospital are divorcing or their marriage is shaking badly. I would ask for prayer for the marriage, and time for couples to continue showing their love. Before the child, you are a couple; but when you have a sick child you forget that… and if the child dies there’s not much to rescue if the couple didn’t have time for each other.”

I think it’s both brave and wise of her to share that, and to make it the top prayer request. If you know of a family in this situation, would you pause momentarily and pray for their marriage? Also feel free to leave a comment below with the names and current situation of a family with an ill child, so that we can pray for them as well.

 

Photo credit:
http://thereallifeadvice.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/strained-1.png

 

 

 

 

 

Loving the Least (or the Greatest?) of These: This Two Yr. Old Champion Needs Our Help to Survive

We don’t live in Chihuahua anymore, so we have not had the privilege of meeting him yet, but everything I read about him amazes me. He’s empathic with others. He encourages his parents. His smile lights up whatever room he is in. He touches lives wherever he goes.

And he is only two years old.

His name is Mateo and he has was born with kidney failure.

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He has already undergone eight surgeries in his short life, and is scheduled for a kidney transplant soon in Mexico City….

...IF they have enough money for the surgery. He has a donor (his grandmother!), but not the funds.

Can you help save his life? 179743_10152265835496549_1544472386_n

His mom, uncle, and grandparents are personal friends of ours from Chihuahua, Mexico. In fact, among the many times they blessed us and helped us out, one of the most urgent one was while I had an emergency C-section and they took care of our three sons, delivering meals, and doing whatever they can.

For us as foreigners without family close by, they were family.

Would you take a moment and share love generously with a family in desperate need? It takes as much time as ordering your carmel macchiato at Starbucks and less time than ordering your burrito at Chipotle.

Click here to bless Mateo.

We did.

Thank you for giving. Mateo and his mom, Lizzie Mateo and mom, Lizzie, having fun. 1209038_10152445151396549_1011613518_n About the photo above, Lizzie writes: “My son offering his hand to another boy; I love his empathy! One of the best moments in the hospital, one of the greatest lessons of the year.” 1493218_10152701760636549_648362233_n In the photo below you see how this medical procedure is explained to a toddler. Lizzie writes, “Explaining dialysis before inserting the catheter. When I finished explaining it to Mateo, I asked him if he wanted to do it; I told him I was scared and my eyes filled with tears…and he reached over with his little hands to hold mine and said, “Shhii  (yesh).” 1800275_10152743135691549_437770726_n

If I Should Quit

The poem below was written by the late Charles E. Greenaway, missionary to Africa and Europe in the mid to late 1900′s. I had the privilege of being in a service and listening to one of his powerfully compelling messages shortly after I was married.

I could tell he was a man of insight and wisdom. After the service, he told my husband, “You have a good wife there, take good care of her.”

May his poem’s message encourage you today….

©I.K.Hadinger
©I.K.Hadinger

If I Should Quit

If I should quit, what would the gain be?
Would the battle be lost? Would I really be free?
No, the door would not close, nor the battle cease,
because God would have another to stand in the breach if I quit.
If I should quit, what would I do?
Seek shelter from the heat, forget the cry of the lost?
Would I be happy for a time, then find I was through—
And spend my time praying for something to do,
saying, “God, why did I quit?”

If I should quit, I would find that God had not;
the battle would still rage, the church would march on.
The wind would keep blowing, the Spirit infilling,
only I would be farther and farther behind,
unwilling, wondering, “God, why did I quit?”

If I should quit, what could I say to God who called me;
and the people who sent me,
and the pagan who trusted me to show him the way?
And the Spirit’s urging day after day? God, I can’t quit!

If I should quit, let it be when I am dead.
Not while I’m alive, nor when I’m dissatisfied,
nor when I’m criticized, or minimized, or ostracized,
but please, God, let quitting time for me be-
When I am dead!

Our Time, with God (Managing Our Time the Smart Way)

One of these days...

When it comes to time, there are those who would say they don’t have enough of it. How absurd!

I’m one of them.

It’s an absurdly ambivalent truth, for we all have the same time given us although it seems to run short differently for each of us. Some may not have enough time for exercise, study, or sleep, while others may not have enough for their kids, their spouses, or their aging parents.

Have you ever made a list of everything you wish you had time for but don’t? Oh, of course, you probably don’t have time to make a list like that. Neither do I. Which is why I started to make one, and you should too. The incredible irony in it is seeing what’s worth our time and what isn’t.

Managing your time, not making it.

Why do we say, “I need to make more time for ________?”

We do not, nor can we, make time. We make dinner. We make babies. We make decisions. We make a mess of things. We make vows. We make friends. But making time? No, it’s not in our power. No action of ours can produce more hours in the day, or create time, for it already is.

Eph 515,16

The best we can do is manage it– and that, wisely, introspectively, and most importantly: prayerfully, with God’s help.

The worst we can do is manage it like we think others want us to, like our friends and neighbors do, or like we believe society pushes us to do.

The list I began making reflected in part what I wished I had time for based on what I saw (or perceived) others to have time for. Comparison mentality will always trip us. Admiration for others will not. May we learn to draw that fine line between the two.

God created us uniquely with differing personalities and talents, and we live with varying circumstances, yet he has given each of us the same amount of time. How we manage all that together is our individual challenge– and it is a challenge! Are you a solo-tasker or a multi-tasker? Are you married or single? Do you work full-time or part-time? At home or outside the home? Are you healthy or perhaps dealing with physical or mental illness? Are you sanguine or melancholy? Are you a leader or a follower?

The Bible says to be careful how we walk, not as unwise, but as wise, making the most of our time, understanding what the will of the Lord is and finding out what pleases him. (Ephesians 5) That’s good advice in discovering what’s worth our time and what isn’t. The one who created us certainly can help us uniquely and wisely fulfill our time here on earth– most importantly in pleasing him and understanding his will for us. Because we are each wonderfully and fearfully made and because we each have a unique life path on which we walk, our time management should mirror that.

When it comes to time, there are those who’ll seek God’s help with it and thrive. Not absurd!

I’m one of them.

How about you?

 

Winter’s Composition (Thursday’s Foto Fun Link-In)

© 2013 I.K.Hadinger
© 2013 I.K.Hadinger

The roses are dead now, so we can’t stop to smell them.

It’s cold outside, and you’d think it’s bedlam!

Yet beauty can be seen, a.m. or p.m.

By venturing out to shoot winter’s welcome!

 

This photo was shot near my home, at a local park just a hop off a well traveled road. I love this photo because of it’s serenity and beauty. And because I could write a poem about it. ;)

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Want to join in on the Foto Fun Link-In? Here are Tammy’s rules:

Share a photo you took.  No cheating!

G-rated (breaking this will get you kicked off the island)

Tell why you love it.

Visit another link-in blogger and make a comment. (My note: still working on a link-it button to make this do-able).

 

 

 

Time & Presence = Priceless Gifts

Half our family left the nest years ago; we were six, now we are three.

Last month, one came by train from the east, another by plane from the west. The oldest one currently lives fifteen minutes away.

The joy of spending time with them was immeasurable. Evidence of their presence was everywhere…

Michael’s keys dropped on the table as he came in…

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Joey’s tradition of doing the yearly, large crossword puzzle…

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And Jon gently strumming his guitar and singing softly…

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They came for Christmas, but not merely for the gifts. The gift of presence was worth more than the presents.

Christmas was special because we spent time with each other, together as a family.

They’ve all gone back now, each one to their own life. I miss them.

I miss the keys on the table, the strum of the guitar, and the, “hey, what’s a six letter word for…?” called out to anyone nearby.

They are busy about their lives (as they should be!) yet I wish they’d be back sitting around our table.

This, I realise, is how God feels about me, too. He loves when I spend time with him, at his table. Even when I am busy about my life, his Spirit is with me, but what he especially longs for are the times spent wholly in his presence, when I make the effort to stop and be with him.

When I am confused, time in his presence gives me clarity; when I’m discouraged, he knows it and lifts my spirits during quiet moments with him. Like David, I say,

“You will make known to me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever.” (Psalms 16:11)

This is so, because I am his child; he is my heavenly Father. I have found – and keep finding –  refreshing for my soul in his presence.

You can too. His presence is a priceless gift – if you take the time.

“Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.” (Acts 3:19)

Time, for me

time_clockFor the first time ever, I’m joining the OneWord365 party. Late, but that’s okay! Time and it’s essence are flexible, at least in this case.

This “OneWord365” movement had caught my attention in the past when noticing friends blogging or posting Facebook statuses about it.

The idea, for those who are clueless, live in a bubble, are anti social-media, or only follow sports (heh), is to choose one word at the beginning of each year in lieu of making resolutions, and see how that one word can affect our life, i.e. decisions, attitude, goals, relationships, etc.

Some of my blogging friends chose words for 2014 like joy, fulfill, and words.

For the past week or so, even before considering hopping onto this OneWord bandwagon, the word ‘time’ has been reverberating within me. Perhaps reading through the Book of Ecclesiastes four times since the beginning of the year may have something to do with that? My one word for 2014, therefore, is “time”.

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:  A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;  A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;  A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;  A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;  A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.” Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

Like you, I have no idea what this year will hold for us. However, we do have certain plans, and that includes our move back to Mexico, because it is time.

My husband will be weaned off his anti-seizure medication, because, in answer to prayer, his neurologist had told him it is time.

And though none of us know what other events will significantly mark this year, we can know and trust the One who does:

Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us. Selah.  Psalm 62:8

My times are in your hand.  Psalm 31:15

And with that trust comes the assurance that even through life’s unfavourable circumstances that (may) (will?) come our way, God can turn them into something beautiful.

“God makes every thing beautiful in his time. Ecclesiastes 3:11

Do you have a word for 2014?

Discover Your Goals, Don’t Make Them

Path of a New Day ©I.K.Hadinger
Path of a New Day ©I.K.Hadinger

In life, work, or in ministry, we all make goals. Some of those succeed, some don’t.

Unexpected circumstances can take those beautifully crafted, well thought out goals and toss them overboard from our smoothly sailing life. It may happen in one swift twist of fate or perhaps through a wearisome, drawn out battle. Either way, you find yourself off course and in tumultuous waters.

Will it be caused by an illness, an accident, a loss, or perhaps by someone else’s actions?

Frustration at its finest as you kiss your well made goals goodbye.

What if we opted for a better way?

Goals are discovered, not made. God delights in showing us exciting new alternatives for the future.” Richard Foster, Celebration of Discipline

This year, shall we try to discover our goals rather than make and cement them?

We can, through building Godly character, with eyes set on our Maker.

A discovery conceived from faith-conviction and incubated in meditative reflection. A discovery that doesn’t fear silence as it focuses on Scripture.

Goals discovered through willed obedience.

For the end of the matter is this: fear God and keep His commandments, for all else is vanity and striving after wind (Book of Ecclesiastes). May God delight you as He helps you discover your goals.

Happy New Year.

 

I Hurt

©2013, I.K.Hadinger
©2013, I.K.Hadinger

Two words we humans find so difficult to say…to one another…when it is real.

“I hurt.”

Not physical pain, for that is easy to communicate. Emotional or mental pain is not.

Instead, we use other phrases like, “it’s been hard,” or “I’m struggling,” because they seem more palatable.

Less vulnerable, really.

Safer.

Smiles and friendly conversation, those seasoned deceivers, trap the truth within.

The fragility inside is guarded well from those who would mishandle it. Yet revealed it must be to those who could help heal it.

But…To whom? is a fearful pondering.

When? and How? are other puzzling queries.

Together they shout in agonizing silence.

If you are hurting today, I pray you’ll find your “whom” and “when” and “how.”

I pray for strength and courage. I pray for God to intervene.

“My soul clings to the dust; give me life according to your word! My soul melts away for sorrow; strengthen me according to your word!”  Psalm 119:25, 28

© 2013, I.K.Hadinger
© 2013, I.K.Hadinger