What if Your Child Questions Christianity?

What if Your Child Questions Christianity?

What if Your Child Questions Christianity? Because It’s likely they will.

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Cynthia:  I remember as a little girl, I began to question the story of Santa Claus. My parents taught me Santa Claus really existed. And I wondered how he could visit all the people in the world in one night. How could he get in our house? Because we didn’t have a chimney. I began to think this is not very rational, not very logical.

And, and over time I began to reason my way out of believing in Santa Claus. Well, our kids are going to question Christianity because they’re reasonable, rational human beings. And that is something we want them to do because Christianity is very strong and can stand up to questions. So, if your kid starts asking questions, do not panic.

Today I have with me Mike McGarry. He has been a youth pastor for a good many years, and he’s written a book called Discover: Questioning Your Way to Faith, and he’s got a whole book full of questions that kids ask. Welcome, Mike!

Mike: Thank you so much for having me today.

Cynthia: I would like to know what the most common question is.

Mike: Oh man, it’s hard to answer that question. I’ve been asked that question a lot lately for obvious reasons. And I think the, the biggest questions that they’re asking commonly have to do with gender, sexuality, and mental health.

A lot of the other kind of more explicitly theological questions that students are asking have to do with, you know, kind of tolerance and how do we know that Jesus is the only way? Is there any actual evidence for Christianity and was Jesus even a real historical person?

Those questions often come sideways. So, they’re asking them, but they’re asking a lot of those types of questions indirectly. The straightforward questions that students are asking today typically have to do with the felt need type of issues like gender, sexuality, mental health.

Cynthia: Let’s start there then with sexuality. So, how do you deal with that when people start asking you questions. “Well, shouldn’t we be kind to these homosexuals? They can’t help it.” What I mean, and that’s of the things that they say. And usually when they’re going in that direction, they’re headed there.

So how do you handle all that?

Mike: I think we need to have the love and compassion that we see in Christ. One of my favorite passages about this in this question is about how Jesus engaged with the adulterous woman. He welcomed her and he loved her. He has compassion and knows she’s being used.

Sometimes friends who are in the LGBTQ can kind of become props for an argument by people on both sides of the issue. I really appreciate what many have said that if you know one gay person, or if you know one trans person, then you know one gay person, right?

You know one trans person. Everyone’s story is particular to them and is unique and individual. And so how can we not make them an issue but treat them as a person who is created in the image of God. So, we can welcome them and shower them with the love of Christ. And yet at the same time, still say go and sin no more.

That’s an important posture that we need to really embrace and how we have the conversation with students, because it is very much not just an idea, not an abstract debate that they see on Twitter or in politics. It has to do with their friends or let’s face it for some of our students in church who are asking the question, they’re asking about them, not just about their friends.

Cynthia: Yes.

Mike: How can we love them and welcome them? So that we’re not just saying, love the sinner, hate the sin, right? But the, we’re treating them as individuals to be loved and to be cared for who we will listen to, not just as issues to disagree with or to correct so that we can invite them to Christ and mean it.

Cynthia: This question has been asked frequently. I’m going to ask you in case a child asks a parent. What is a woman?

Mike: Yeah, that’s such a strangely loaded question nowadays and it really shouldn’t be. I mean, God created man and woman in his image equally, I believe we have different roles, different functions.

I am not a woman. I’m a man. My wife, Tracy is a woman. She’s not a man. She is physically capable of having babies and she has twice. And I think that’s a beautiful thing. Like, manhood is beautiful. Womanhood is beautiful. These are gifts to be treasured. Of what does it mean to be a human being?

And I really think that that question of theologians called Christian anthropology, right? What does it mean to be a human being? I think a lot of the big cultural issues that Gen Z, that today’s young adults are facing come down to questions about Christian anthropology.

And I think that would really be worth youth workers’ time and pastors’ times and parents’ attention to really dig into.

Cynthia: Right. There is biology there that you cannot deny. Our culture is trying to say, well, if you feel like it, you are. That is saying that a tree isn’t really a tree if it doesn’t want it to be.

And that doesn’t really work. We’ve got either X, X or X, Y, and there’s not much about that. Let me go on to a different topic. Do we have an angry God?

Mike: Sometimes.

Cynthia: Okay, can you elaborate on that?

Mike: God is rightfully and justfully angry towards sin and towards evil and towards injustice. As I think we also should be.

So, God is holy. God is love. We talk about these attributes of God. The communicable and incommunicable attributes, the attributes that we also reflect as his image bearers. And their attributes of God that we don’t reflect as his image bearers. But part of that is love. And part of that is wrath and God’s anger.

Some people talk about God’s wrath or God’s anger as an attribute of God, a central quality of God who God is and what God is. But I believe that God’s anger, God’s wrath the judgment of the Lord is an expression of his holiness in response to sin and evil. I don’t believe that God’s anger or God’s wrath is an attribute of God. Because he will not always be angry. He will not always be wrathful in all eternity in the new heavens and the new earth. Then God’s holiness will be satisfied according to his love.

It seems like a slippery question, right? Do we have an angry God? Because it depends on what context you’re talking about. But it’s not like God’s just up there, like, wringing his hands waiting for someone to judge or to throw a thunderbolt at. But it’s the same way, I’m a youth pastor and the book is written for teenagers.

We get angry at social injustice. Which is right. We should be upset about these things. We should advocate for these things. We should protest for justice, even in the same way God acts and moves for the sake of justice. against evil and against sin in his creation, over which he said, it is good.

And he sees the way that sin and evil has caused destruction and has brought harm and has brought curse over his good creation and over people. God act in his love and in his holiness to correct such acts. We label that as anger or wrath or judgment, right?

Cynthia: And I think rightly so because when people sin, it destroys things, which causes pain to people on earth.

And I think that that whole problem of pain is something that is often a question is often asked about that. Human sin is one of the biggest causes.

Mike: Yeah. It’s important when we talk about justice and when we talk about judgment, I think when we talk about hell, even it’s one of those issues that a lot of people say, oh, well, yeah, I believe in hell because the Bible says so, but I really don’t like it.

And what we’re basically saying is, if God would do it my way, then I’d get rid of God’s judgment. But what we’re saying there is that God should turn a blind eye to evil and pain and suffering. That hell is an expression of God’s judgment, which is an expression of his holiness and his love.

Cynthia: That’s true. Is there a difference between a head question and a heart question?

Mike: I think the head and the heart are, are united. But they’re not the same. If you ask a question about something like homosexuality or anxiety or depression it’s, it’s, if someone asks you Pastor Mike is, is anxiety a sin, right?

I mean, that’s a, that’s a good question. There are heady reasons why we can ask that, and there are hard questions why we can ask that. These are important conversations for us to have with our kids, with our teenagers. And I think it’s important for us to ask follow-up questions so that, you know, even for that example to say, Okay that’s a great question.

What do you think? Or when you think about Scripture what verses come to your mind about that issue and what does the world say? And what do you think? And why, why are you, what are you asking? And how would we apply a biblical answer to that question? We’re not just rushing to, to answer the question on the face of it, but that we’re really trying like Christ did so often in the gospels to respond with a question, to try to understand and get to the heart.

Of the head question, the way, you know, that Jesus did with the Samaritan woman. Instead of just debating about what mountain we should worship at, asking the questions to get to the heart so that we’re not sidestepping the question.

Cynthia: A lot of times I think when kids ask that question, there is something beneath that. They’ve seen an injustice, or they’ve seen something that doesn’t seem quite fair. It takes them a while to get that emotionally dealt with. And it has created an intellectual question, but they don’t know how to deal with that.

Sometimes it’ll come up at several times until they talk through it, and then you can see them finally letting go of that.

Mike: Yeah. Yeah. Or, or they’ve asked the question and kind of been brushed off. Maybe given a cheap answer to a hard question which is never satisfactory.

Even if the, even if the answer that you’re given quickly is correct, when you’re asking a weighty question. While you’re feeling the angst of the question, and someone just gives you the answer right away. It just doesn’t satisfy them.

Cynthia: It takes more time than that.

Mike: So, I just think we need to practice the patience that God has with us. How often does God answer our questions right away when we ask?

Cynthia: What proofs do we have that the Bible is reliable?

Mike: I think archaeology really is our friend.

The more we dig into the science of archaeology, just objectively speaking that the, the Bible is the most reliable historic document that we have in existence. And both Christian archaeologists and atheistic archaeologists say the same thing. You just look at the, the list of ancient documents that we have and say, okay, so why would these people go through all that work to make copies, to preserve this text to be able to hold it up and to say, “Look, this is reliable.”

This is what was originally written. It’s not just a fabrication from hundreds or thousands of years later. This is what was written. Let’s test this and see, does this hold up? The external evidence of Scripture is reliable. Hold it in front of students and walk through some of the things in my chapter on, is the Bible reliable?

It’s kind of difficult to get through in a short response here. However, present that to students and just say, “Hey, look, like, you know, ultimately God’s word is God’s word. It’s not God’s word because archeology says so.” We don’t want to treat apologetics in a way that things are true because apologetics says it’s true that it’s true.

Therefore, you can test it and you can study it and this truthfulness will become evident. And we do need to have faith. There is no science that can explicitly test, is this the word of God. That’s asking science to do something that science simply cannot do.

But there are things that we can hold out to say, “The Bible isn’t a forgery. It’s not just made up. It’s not just a list of Aesop’s fables or Greek myths.” Jesus was a historical person. Paul was a historical person. These are the documents that were written, that they were copied, they were shared. And this is what Christians throughout the ages have said and have done.

How can we explain that apart from the work of God and apart from the truthfulness of God’s word?

Cynthia: It’s important for kids to understand how early our documents were. We believe that some of the early creeds were within six years of the death. So that is unbelievable. When you look at modern history, because there are some of the documents that scholars consider to be valid that are much older.

We have such incredible early documentation. It’s amazing. That’s just another indication that it’s true. Is Christianity just a trend, a flash in the pan? I mean, will it disappear?

Mike: Well, it’s a 2000-year long flash in the pan. How many times has the death of the church been forecast?

Look at the ongoing existence of the Jewish people. When we try to justify our faith by our power, that never really satisfies. Because power, earthly power is so temporary and even Tertullian way, way back in the early church that, you know, the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.

One of the things that I think is important for teenagers to begin to grasp is just a basic understanding of church history and of Christian history of the legacy of faith that they, that they receive and continue by believing in Christ. They are part of the universal church of Jesus and the brotherhood that we share.

And so how can we help our teenagers to understand that the challenges that we’re facing today are not as uniquely new? We might be more technologically advanced. TikTok certainly didn’t exist in the Middle Ages or in the Reformation or in the early church, obviously.

But there were still similar heart issues and there were still similar challenges.

Has some real value for teenagers, especially kids who are in public schools to sometimes cross reference what they’re learning in public education and to fill in what was happening in the church during that time-period too, can be really helpful in making some of those connections in some pretty meaningful ways.

Cynthia: You know, the people that built Stonehenge, that religion disappeared, and we don’t know what they believe because they didn’t write. Religions do disappear. I don’t think Christianity will because I think God’s behind it.

Evolution is another biggie. The schools teach evolution as a fact. How do you reconcile that with the Bible?

Mike: Yeah. You just love asking easy questions, don’t you? There are a few core truths that we need to hold onto as Christians and Aside from those truths, then there’s some freedom.

I think the Bible is clear in saying God created. The Bible is clear in saying that God created Adam and Eve as his image bearers. Aside from those things, I think there is room for. a variety of opinions about evolution. But the timeline of creation, were they literal days or were they eras?

And I think that even most scientists who are Christians would say that there is obviously some degree of evolution or adaptation within species. It’s not like we need to say that there were golden retrievers and there were calico cats and there were specific species at creation. There are obviously changes and adaptations that have been made over periods of time.

And so I think sometimes that can be helpful to articulate for students, because sometimes they can think that it’s either all or nothing. But does that mean that we originate from the primordial ooze or, or that God used evolution to create us?

What we see in scripture is God created Adam and Eve. It doesn’t seem to me like God created them as newborn infants, so if God created them as mature human beings, then could God have created a mature earth? And so when you test it, it dates to whatever it dates to, even though it’s day one.

And so just asking these questions, and I don’t think we need to have such firm answers about everything that we simply can’t know. But I think we can hold on to what scripture does teach and leave some room for freedom of understanding or freedom of interpretation.

Cynthia: Right, right. I agree with that. And Discovery Institute is coming out with a lot of very interesting information regarding intelligent design. What they say is making evolution to be less likely based on their research.

The last question I’m going to throw at you is the Trinity. This is a tough concept. We had been accused of having three gods. So how would you answer someone who says that that’s their problem?

Mike: Yeah. You cannot be a Christian if you do not believe in the Trinity.

Otherwise, you may profess to believe and to worship the God of Scripture, but you don’t because the God of Scripture is the triune God, the Father, Son, Holy Spirit. It’s just important for us to talk about the Trinity with our teenagers. I don’t think that we need to demand that every kid can recite the Athanasian Creed.

I don’t think we need to demand for a mature, robust Trinitarian statement, but there needs to be some basic understanding that God is three. God is Father, God is Son, God is Holy Spirit. And yet, these three persons are one, that there is unity, and there is diversity that they are equal that the father is not greater than the son, and the, the spirit is equally God as the others.

I think along with that is to say that the Holy Spirit is not an it, that’s one. of my pet peeves that drives me crazy when we talk about the Holy Spirit as an it with the impersonal pronouns matter. Personal pronouns matter. Holy Spirit is a person. And so there’s a quality there’s a distinction that they are not the same as each other.

And yet amid, of these differences that they act with one nature, you never see the father or the son or the spirit acting with complete independence from each other. That when, when one acts, God is acting. And since God is one, you can see all three involved. I just think it’s important for us to talk about who is the Trinity.

What does this mean and to call our students to believe in a God who’s beyond their understanding. And I think sometimes we can boil down the faith so simply for kids and in junior church and in Sunday school, when they become teenagers, we’ve never really opened the depths of who God is.

To invite them into a faith that’s big enough for them to grow into. Right. And so I just think that’s really important for us to call them to worship a God who is beyond their understanding, to invite them to worship a God and to experience a faith that’s big enough for them to grow into rather than having them then graduate high school, thinking that they already know it all.

And then they experienced out, they experienced suffering, and they think my faith has nothing to say to this.

Cynthia: And the older I get, the more awed I am by what I believe and by God. I really like what CS Lewis said when he talked about the telephone and his dog. He said the telephone is not in the language of the dog.

They don’t understand it. Regardless of how much I try to explain it to a dog. It is not in the realm of dog. And I think that when we come to the Bible and come to spirituality, when the Bible clearly teaches something like the Trinity, it is not earthly, it is heavenly. It’s not in our realm. And no, we can’t explain it fully, except that we can say what you have said that there is 3 and yet there 1 essence.

And there comes a point that you need to say, this is a spiritually understood thing. Understanding that the son is not a son in the same sense that my son Paul is. I’m his mother and dad’s his father. It’s not the same sense, but it’s the best way that God helped us to understand his relationship to Jesus.

It wasn’t a physical father-son relationship like we know, but it had, that helps us to understand it.

Mike: The father and the son is not about hierarchy, but right. It’s the same way that my son is of the same essence as me differentiated from my dog or my cat. He’s my son. We share the same nature.

We share the same essence. It does it at the father and the son. It’s not about hierarchy is that they’re of the same stuff.

Yeah, exactly. And that’s hard for a kid to get there. It’s hard for me to completely grasp.

Mike: I would guess most church members probably couldn’t articulate.

Cynthia: Yeah, but he is the son because God said he was. This is deep stuff, but they’re going to be asking, you might as well get prepared.

You can find the book, Discover: Questioning Your Way to Faith, at Amazon or New Growth Press for quantity discounts.

To learn more about teaching apologetics, click here


Maintain a Strong Marriage Despite Unexpected Grief

Maintain a Strong Marriage Despite Unexpected Grief

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Cynthia: Our focus this month is on marriage. As we had discussed earlier, my parents would have been married 71 years in August. Last week, we talked about ways to strengthen your marriage. This week we’re going to have a little different focus and we’ll be talking about the ‘what ifs.’ How can you maintain a strong marriage if you face unexpected grief?

The traditional marriage vows say for better or for worse. Well, what if the worst happens? My guests today are Todd and Kristen Evans, and they are both authors and massively well educated. Todd has a master’s degree in Christian education and a PhD in mechanical engineering, and Kristen is a mental health counselor and has a master’s degree in social work.

After they got married, they had a disabled child. We’re going to just talk about how that impacted their marriage and how they maintained their strong marriage. So welcome, Todd and Kristen.

Todd: Thank you so much, Cynthia.

Cynthia: So just so that we can kind of get a background of what happened, tell me a little bit about what your story is with your disabled child. What exactly happened?

Todd: Why don’t you start, Kristen?

Kristin: Well, we had been married almost five years and our son was born healthy, and very quickly became very ill. He began having seizures and lots of medical just baffling doctors, they couldn’t figure out what was wrong.

Long story short we finally found out that he was the 14th case in the world with an extremely rare metabolic disorder. And so that began our journey to save him medically and developmentally. Then three years later, we became pregnant with our daughter, Bethany Grace. And very early on in the pregnancy, we knew something just was not right.

And after a traumatic couple of months, we learned that she has a severe, different rare genetic disorder that is a chromosomal deletion called 5P minus or Creedy Shaw syndrome. And we were told she wouldn’t survive. If she did, by a miracle, survive, she would never walk, or talk, and be severely intellectually disabled.

And we do have a miracle. She did survive. And after three months in the NICU and several surgeries came home and that really began our marriage journey for better, for worse.

Todd: Yeah, the first child was an adjustment for everyone.

We had the extra medical things and, and we managed to get through those and, working together was a challenge. Our marriage had some challenges at that point and a good bit of traditional arguing. But we did manage to get through it. But yeah, that new challenge of our daughter then is what put us to the test and challenged all of our concepts of marriage and what it meant to love and to be together and to support one another.

Kristin: Because you committed through anything, right?

Cynthia: Yeah, I can understand. I have a disabled child, but he is my 5th child. So, tell me a little bit about how this changed your marriage.

Todd: We couldn’t logistically get everything done. We were both working at the time. So, we kind of talked through and looked at it. I was full time. Kristen was part time and just had to say, “We can’t do it. We’ve got to make a change.”

So that was one of the first big changes was Kristen decided to step down from her job. That way she could focus on therapies and helping with the children and all the medical things that were involved. What that took away was the financial piece of being able to have a stable income.

So, it went from a very meager, but adequate income to really struggling. We pushed the envelope every month, trying to figure out how to make ends meet. That just adds more strain on the marriage at that point. So, I think that’s where we saw the biggest issues come about. It was time, money, emotional stress. It’s three of the big areas that really hit us hard.

Kristin: And then we didn’t have time to care for one another. It became a partnership of just trying to keep our daughter alive. Literally, she was on four machines in and out of the hospital. Our conversations consisted of who’s the nurse today? What time is she coming? What appointments do the kids have?

Todd: Do you need me for today? What do I have to do? What’s on my list? It went from enjoying life, watching shows together, going out biking and hiking and, kind of adventure of young marriage and young love to a business partnership. If we don’t nail down the details nothing’s going to happen. And that became the crux of our marriage. And all the rest got pushed aside. Which you can imagine did not lead to good things.

Cynthia: You said that one of the things that you tried to do was to foster forgiveness and trust. What kind of things did you do to foster that?

Kristin: One of the first things was just trying to survive. We were in crisis survival mode. Our emotional connection completely severed. We can talk about it and joke about it now, which we do in the book, but Todd completely just separated from emotions.

In the meantime, I was drowning emotionally from the trauma of the pregnancy. I went into severe depression. We now know from researching from the book, we were experiencing chronic sorrow. I did not have his support processing the daily grind of the medical situation and the chronic sorrow.

One of the first pieces was, I went to therapy. And learned I needed validation. I needed emotional validation. And so that began our journey.

Todd: And I didn’t have time for emotional validation. You can guess that didn’t go over. For me, it was, let’s take care of the business needs of the family. Let’s make sure kids are getting therapy. Let’s take care of our finances. And that’s all I got time for. I don’t have time for emotions.

So, I caused a lot of pain and hurt unintentionally in my trying to care for our family and our marriage and that way and neglecting the other parts.

And that’s where you’re talking about the forgiveness aspect. There was a lot of need of forgiveness for not validating, Kristin.

Kristin: We both did our birds. So, I learned to ask for that validation. And then it was a very slow process. We hurt each other a lot. Very, very painful time and just being willing to begin to communicate.

And say, “you hurt me, I need an apology.”

And I begin to teach him. This is where I need you to say, “That sounds hard. I’m sorry. You’ve had a hard day.”

Todd: So I learned to say, “That sounds really hard. Tell me more.”

Cynthia: Right. Rather than trying to fix it. Right. Isn’t that what a guy would say?

Todd: Exactly. Exactly. Yep. Yes.

Kristin: Then we just learned basically for better for worse. We literally had to recommit to our wedding vows, saying this is what we’ve done to hurt each other. This is how our marriage has almost been torn apart.

Let’s think about our vows: through feeding tubes and ER visits, through OT and PT, through richer or poorer, almost on bankruptcy. We committed to our vows, knowing what the specifics looked like for us.

Todd: And you make some of those commitments and vows and in kind of a dreamy state of this is whatever happens.

It kind of had a crystallizing effect of this is what happened. We had dreams and those dreams weren’t going to come true. A lot of our dreams were tied up and doing things together and being together.

Those were all off the table. Can we exist and love one another still and recommit to this, even if the things that we cherish the most and dreamed about, were taken away?

Cynthia: How do you process stress Todd?

Todd: Well, I had to learn a lot of ways. One of the biggest for me is finding some kind of outlet. So, I got into running. I hated running my entire life. There’s no reason to run unless you have to. I did sports and things. I ran for that, but I just took up running and just said, “I want to run a marathon.”

So, I just went out and ran a mile that day and just slowly built up, It became a goal and an outlet. It was something I could see tangible results in which I couldn’t always see in my family. And it lets stress out and produces endorphins.

For me, that’s one of the biggest things that helped me through some of the worst of it was just having an outlet like that.

Cynthia: And how did you process your stress, Kristen?

Kristin: At first, not very well, as I said, just spiraled when Bethany Grace was young. I’ve learned to practice deep breathing. And I also started exercising.

I was like, well, he can do it. I can do it. And I always hated running. So that’s one of my outlets now too. But just being present in the moment, doing a lot of mindfulness-based stress reduction. You relax your muscles, which calms your nervous system down.

We go get massages. That’s what I get for Christmas, Mother’s Day, and my birthday—gift cards for massages. That is a huge stress outlet. And we’ve learned, which we’re wanting to teach couples to do, it’s incredibly important to de-stress together.

Cynthia: you mentioned mindfulness, stress reduction. Can you give me a little bit more on that? Because that sounds interesting.

Kristin: Yes, the research. I’m a research nerd, and it’s just phenomenal. The mental health and physical benefits that are really coming to light now. So, it’s basically being just fully present in your moment and in your body is the important thing.

And if you go to YouTube. You can type in mindfulness-based stress reduction. You can type in progressive muscle relaxation exercise, and it’ll guide you through basically tensing and relaxing your muscles. It helps calm down that chronic stress response in your body, which causes all sorts of problems.

Tells your brain and central nervous system, you’re not in an emergency, which calms down your emotions. So, if you’re having trouble sleeping, a lot of disability parents experience anxiety and trouble sleeping. I do that. It sort of originates from Eastern religion, but not really if you look back in Scripture.

Cynthia: I can see how tensing your muscles would help you realize this is a tense muscle. This is what it feels like when it’s relaxed. And that’s good to know because you may be tensing and not realizing it.

Is this also part of keeping your marriage strong? So how did y’all do it together?

Todd: We found a way to get away whether it was for one hour as we were able to get support from other family. And we told them how important this was. They helped us to get away from our house and our stressful environment a little bit just for a night or a couple nights.

Kristin: Even five miles away.

Todd: We take a lot of in-town trips. Not a lot, but just one night away or close enough for medical emergencies. But we got to connect. We try to do something special. Like she mentioned, doing a massage together, a couple’s massage at a place or separately going to a spa together.

We neglected our marriage when we’re at our home oftentimes because there are so many demands there. As I’m sure everybody in marriage feels to a large degree it’s very similar in that sense. Just because there’s more burdens there and things to be done.

Getting away and just committing to that time was the biggest thing for us.

Kristin: And it must be getting out of the house. It is very difficult for a lot of special needs parents to get out of the house. But you just can’t relax. Even if you’re in your bedroom watching a movie because you’re still under that stress. Especially women, women have a hard time.

Cynthia: Did you have a hard time finding someone to act as a caregiver?

Kristin: We’re very blessed.

Todd: Yeah, we’re very blessed with our family. My dad and her parents have both been very supportive. Early on, we had someone from our church who volunteered to come over to let us get out for a couple of hours. That was the first time. She was a skilled nurse. We could feel safe enough just to go out and have dinner together.

There’s been other times it’s been difficult to find help and people that feel okay keeping our kids while we get away.

Cynthia: You talk about finding joy together, which is a big part of keeping your marriage strong. How did you do that?

Kristin: We got married to go into ministry together. That’s where our joy would be from, and from being able to go out and hike and bike.

We’ve learned to find joy in the little moments, even the moments that are difficult. So, there may be a really challenging situation with our daughter that we could easily just melt down and cry. And we’ve learned to just embrace the little moments and find ways to make special memories. It’s not about big dreams anymore.

It’s more about just being grateful. Just grateful for the moments and the times that we do have. And then we try to make special memories. But they’re not like huge dreams. It’s just finding joy in, in our life, how our life is right now.

Todd: Yeah. I kind of think of it in two parts. I call them things that, that steal your joy, anger and frustration and jealousy are, are a few of them. She’s talking about the dream aspect. I can’t think about that future. That will never be. I’ve got to give that up and accept that it is or it’s going to keep eating away at my joy and steal it.

If I, keep wanting that thing, I can never have and just give it up, accept it and then replace it with something else. And that’s kind of what she’s referring to is replacing it with joyful things throughout the day. Just having a celebration dance. That’s when, when, when she does something good. Just, just saying, “hey, let’s have fun. Let’s celebrate the little things. Let’s go to bed and have a story together. And let’s just have a good time with it.”

So it’s really about getting rid of things that steal joy and then replacing them with, with positive things here and there.

Cynthia: Yeah, we learned to celebrate the small things because sometimes there’s not big things to celebrate, but we’d celebrate this moment.

You mentioned expressing gratitude. Can you talk about how that helps you to build mental health?

Kristin: Gratitude is powerful, even in strengthening your marriage. And just one little thing a day. Whether it’s just thinking it, saying it out loud, journaling it just writing a little sticky note to each other, saying thank you for, or I really appreciate, it just sparks that positive emotion, and it helps change your perspective.

It’s important to process grief and pain and sorrow, but when we get stuck in that and we think about that all the time, and we don’t turn our focus to, hey both kids are home from the hospital. We’re all here together. I’m grateful for that. Or I’m just grateful for this morning.

I’m grateful that Todd is such an amazing husband. When we focus on gratitude, it shifts our perspective. It makes us more optimistic, especially when we pray prayers of gratitude for God to God for, for what we’re grateful for. It changes emotions. It creates positive emotions, which spurs stronger mental health.

Todd: And it brings us out of ourselves. When you’re grateful for something, your focus turns away from you towards others or God. And just taking that shift away from you oftentimes is enough to just help put things in a good direction for yourself too.

Cynthia:  I know you managed to keep your marriage strong. You’ve talked about your broken dreams of what you wanted in your children and for your marriage or ministry.

Have you thought at this point about what you’re going to do together? Because I noticed you have a website. You have books that you’ve published. If you thought about what the future might look like with your 2 children?

Todd: We thought about the future and with children some, but covid made a unique experience for us. She had to quit her job because of medical reasons for our daughter. She couldn’t be out in the jails and ERs. She was a crisis counselor working there. So, she had to come home and, and I decided I want to use my time to help people. So, as you started the website and the blog and said, I want to help moms that are struggling with raising their child with disability.

And God’s kind of grown that, and she was able to devote a lot of time to that at home, and I’ve been able to come in and join, jump in with her and it’s kind of coming full circle back around to our original dreams of being able to be in ministry.

Kristin: Not how we imagined, though.

Todd: Yeah, not how we imagined, but helping people and doing this together. It’s become a new shared thing for us. And just seeing God’s provision. We’ve kind of given up a lot in our lives and just said “if it happens, we’ll be Grateful for it. If it ever comes that we can do something together.”

But it’s not going to be our focus. We’re going to live today. We’re going to do the best life we can today. In the process of that, I have changed careers 5 times. You saw my degrees that I did. I had to adjust because our kids had different needs at different times and different locations. It’s not about me. I’m going to give up those things and do what’s best. And it’s fun to kind of see God coming full circle now, starting to bring opportunities to do things together again.

Kristin: As opportunities come up with speaking, we are getting to minister together again. We originally started out when we got married, both wanting to go into retreat and camping ministry. And that’s where we started out in grad school. Our dream, I think ultimately still is to be able to do retreats for married couples for couples to get away and who have children with special needs to help them.

Cynthia: And see, that’s a wonderful ministry because there are so many couples out there with the same problem and they need the wisdom that you have come around to. So, you’re going to have an open door there. God has a way of using those hard things, while keeping your marriage strong.

Is there anything else you want to add before we close?

Kristin: We just want to encourage other parents who have children with any type of disability, whether that’s medical, mental health, or physical disabilities. One, you’re not alone. There are other parents who are desperately wanting to connect, and we have some resources on our website for how to find support groups in your area.

Two, for couples one of of our goals is to debunk the myth that there’s an 80% divorce rate for parents who have children with autism or disabilities. You can keep your marriage strong. That is totally unfounded. We thought our marriage was doomed, but we just want to say your marriage is not doomed.

In fact, a lot of couples grow stronger and grow closer through having children with disabilities. So, we just want to encourage you to reach out, find support and we’d love to hear from you if we can answer any questions or do anything to help.

Cynthia: Thank you. I appreciate that. Where can I send people to you?

Todd: Disabilityparenting.com.

To learn about keeping romance in your marriage, listen here


Make the Romance Last in Your Marriage

Make the Romance Last in Your Marriage

Make the Romance Last in Your Marriage

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Cynthia: Popular media today seldom depicts enduring love and marriage. Most people seem to be on a quest to find that special someone who will fulfill their dreams and make them happy, and many decide never to marry at all.

In contrast to that, we have Ephesians 5 where God reveals to us that marriage is a picture of Christ in the church. More than that, God issues that very unpopular command that the wife submit to her husband in addition He commands the man to love his wife in a sacrificial way, just like Jesus gave his life for the church.

Greg and Julie Gorman are here today with me to discuss how marriage can be all that God designed it to be. Surrender is a key word. Welcome, Greg and Julie.

Julie: Hi, Cynthia. Great to be here. Thanks for having us.

Greg: Good to see you and great to be here.

Cynthia: You know, it’s always, it always gives a little extra, ump for a guy to be here. So welcome, especially Greg. I know that you think a little differently and I will never quite understand. It’s always good to have that male perspective.

Let’s talk a little bit with you guys about surrender. And how that fits in because you have that theme in your book. So, how does surrender work in trying to blend the life of both of you?

Julie: O, I’ll start with it, and then Greg, you can pop in any thoughts that you might have. Sure. For me, Cynthia, it really began one evening when Greg and I, the first couple of years of our marriage.

We loved each other passionately, but we fought just as passionately. And it came to an evening when he sped off in the SUV. And honestly, I wasn’t sure that he was going to come back. And I felt prostrate before the Lord that evening. And in that time of prayer, after all the sobbing and the, you know, just absolute come apart, the Holy Spirit spoke to my soul and just said, quit being his Holy Spirit.

And really what that, that whole thought that went through my mind and just permeated every part of me, what God was calling me to do was not, was to surrender to Him. My own need as well as to surrender Greg to him and not try to come into his life to try to change him or fix him or make him be what I needed and needed him to be.

It was a matter of trust that God was inviting me to. There’s been a lot of different thoughts on surrender and what that looks like. And what I’ve really come to realize is that was the beginning. of my surrender, but surrender is a lifelong process. It’s something that God continues to invite us to.

And I don’t think that will ever change. It really is a lifelong pursuit of trusting him and leaving the results of what needs to be changed in Greg’s heart to him. And what God was wanting me to do is allow him to change in me the things that needed to be changed.

Greg: Likewise, I think all of us can relate to the idea of surrender and, I think at one point in our lives, we probably all thought that might be an event, something that we just did.

We’re going to surrender, right? Or I have surrendered. Uh, yet each morning when we wake up, we find that, uh, I don’t know if anybody else is like me, but I find I’ve got all this stuff I’m carrying again, right? So, it’s a daily process of surrender. What was interesting is when Julie had this real revelation, an encounter with God. He really began to change her heart, in not trying to control me, but in surrendering, not only herself but surrendering me to Christ. Immediately, it paved the way for me to reciprocate and it was really when we started the process of really operating in harmony together, to have a Christlike marriage, at least it be in the pursuit and the true pursuit of that.

Cynthia: Greg, as a man. What kind of reaction do you have to the whole idea of a woman controlling you?

Greg: Well, isn’t that interesting? You know, I have pretty much the same reaction if anybody tries to control me And I think that it’s you know, you know, I think it’s really not just men I think any one of us as human beings generally resent being controlled And in the book, What I Wish My Mother Had Told Me About Marriage, we talk about the, one of the definitions that we ran across for surrender.

And it says to surrender means to give up in favor of another. I thought that was an interesting definition, to give up in favor of another. And the other thing when it comes to surrendering and not trying to control things, right, is that it, we really leave room. for God to do what God does rather than the illusion of control that we generally try to have anyway.

Cynthia: You know, the interesting thing this last year or so, my husband and I have been doing ballroom dancing. And if you know anything about dancing, you know that the man is supposed to lead, which means I must not lead. That has been a huge lesson for me. Plus, I noticed him light up as I put my arm in his and let go.

Greg: Things really get messed up when you get two people trying to lead the same thing, don’t they?

Cynthia: Exactly.

Greg: Start stepping on toes, and all those uncomfortable things that all of us are familiar with, aren’t we?

Julie: You know, and that was the neat part of surrender to me is because of the experiences I’d had in my past.

It was difficult for me to, as much as I told Greg I trusted him; when it came right down to it, I felt this need to protect myself, and that’s where a lot of that desire for control was. I was trying to create this bubble-wrapped universe where no man could ever hurt me again, and so, I felt it my job to make sure that, you know, every T was crossed and every I was dotted, and what God was really showing me was it was in my pursuit of Him.

In my pursuit of surrender to him, it’s like, who do I really trust? And that promise that night, there was almost this, this, um, it wasn’t spoken or anything, but there was just this knowing within me that I would release Greg. To God, that God would be my defender, that God would be the one that I could trust.

And so there are times when we were first starting out, Greg didn’t necessarily deserve my respect or deserve my respect. But what God was calling me to do was to love him unconditionally, like he had loved me. And in that, there was this beautiful bond that came about, and it would have only come about.

In that release a feeling like I needed to take care of myself. God was big enough to do that. And even more importantly, he wanted to do that because he could see my heart, he could see Greg’s heart, better than we could even see our own hearts.

Cynthia: Sometimes we get a little carried away with that bubble wrap, and even bubble wrap the guy, and, and they don’t like that.

And so, it’s a real act of trust.

Julie: Oh, and it’s so beautiful when God he says, if anyone lacks wisdom, come to me, right? And he’ll give to all men liberally. That’s what he says in James. And there were times when I didn’t know how to communicate with Greg and vice versa. Greg didn’t know how to get through all the junk that we were working through from my past.

But as we simply listened and obeyed, God paved the way for trust to be created between us that he is absolutely my best friend. God is and both Greg is, right? And only he could do that. And I, I think that that’s the thing that so many couples, man when we start out, you know, there’s this figuring one another out.

But God’s the one who can speak into those areas, give us the wisdom and the insight to know what the other person needs, and to love selflessly. In that way, as Greg said, it began to allow him to love me in the ways that I could feel. The love he was already giving me, but I couldn’t receive it because I was trying to have that bubble-wrapped universe.

Greg: And we found a lot of couples struggle with the same thing. We hear it so often. In fact, it’s almost cliché. Everything was fine until we put that ring on. And then once we put the ring on, golly, everything broke loose and none of it was good, right?

Julie and I were recently having a conversation with another couple about this, but Julie said all of a sudden the stakes were so high because now she was in a situation where I could hurt her.

She was depending on me in, in a sense. And so there were a couple of different dynamics going on. But one is I had to learn how to love her. I needed to learn how to love her the way that she needed to be loved. Right. And that meant that there were some things that I needed to change.

Julie: Oh, yeah. I remember one thought that came to mind when Greg had planned this getaway weekend. I was so wounded that I thought, well, he’s only doing this because he went all night fishing, and he feels guilty about something. When he was trying to demonstrate love, there was this cross-examination of, well, did you do that you feel guilty?

And that’s just so horrible. I didn’t believe the best about him. And after a while, I can only imagine how exhausting that was. A lot of those things didn’t even surface until we said ‘I do.’ And then I thought, ‘Oh, no, what have I done?’ Because now I was vulnerable. I had allowed someone to enter an arena of my life, and his decisions affected my decisions.

His decisions also affected my emotions and my life. And it was hard to know that balance. And I’m so grateful that God redeemed our marriage At one point, it really felt as if we weren’t going to make it.

Greg: we couldn’t feel it.

Julie: Yeah, it was, it was hard.

Cynthia: That’s what I wanted to ask you next is that you obviously figured out you were loving her. So how did you let her know? And vice versa, how did you let her know?

Julie: So, for me, it was a conscious decision. It was blessing him. It was keeping my mouth shut. Even if I was having an internal battle, I took those internal battles to God to allow God to fix them instead of feeling like I had to be God’s mouthpiece. I had to stop being the fixer.

I released him from that obligation. So, I think for me, as I did that, God helped to heal some areas that needed to be healed so that I could even begin to receive what he did.

Greg: I think for me it was… In the willingness to have my paradigm to be shifted. And all too often in so many different marriages that we work with, couples that we work with today, we see the same dynamic.

And it’s easy. To come into a marriage expecting the other person to complete you and to meet your needs. And in essence, we do complete each other, of course, right? But to come into a marriage expecting Julie to meet my needs or vice versa is absolutely a recipe for a massive train wreck, right?

It became less about me having my needs met and more about me making sure that I was meeting hers. I also had to learn to hold my tongue. I needed to learn to listen. I needed to fix a whole lot less. Right? Because so many times she didn’t really want me to fix it. I didn’t understand it for so many years. I would think, well, why would we listen if we didn’t try to fix it? What’s the point? It’s the difference in the way I think the male and female psyche and in the way that we think. I learned just to listen and help her understand that I could relate to where she was coming from.

And when I began to do that, then she began able to be able to receive me as well, right? It became a good two-way street.

Julie: One of the things, too, I think that was essential for me is, you can’t change the way you feel, so you must change the way you think.

And that was the key part for me. It was like, it was a mental battle constantly taking every thought to the cross. What that really played out to be because we know that verse about taking up your cross. But it was living that out.

Greg: Put your money where your mouth is.

Julie: Yeah, and loving Greg like God had loved me. That was a big change in paradigm.

That means I love him unconditionally, regardless of his actions. And that doesn’t mean we don’t have healthy boundaries.

Greg: So, I know, but it’s easy to love me, right?

Julie: Oh yeah. I chose to begin to believe the best. And as I began to believe the best and when I captured those thoughts that were so counterintuitive to maybe what I had learned from my childhood.

When I really put them in the position. God changed my heart and put a place in me where I could begin to see that he wasn’t the bad guy, right? He was really working. And sometimes we express things differently, but it produced an environment where actions weren’t judged just by the actions themselves, it began to look to the intent and the love that was demonstrated behind those actions.

Cynthia: I’m noticing something in your language, and I’m going to ask about that. Because when you spoke about love, you talked about completing me. Now, you didn’t use that terminology. Have you ever used that terminology?

Julie: Oh, I think I entered into the relationship that he would complete me. I thought that he would fulfill the needs.

Cynthia: That’s the term that I hear most women use. You wanted to be fulfilled and he wanted to be completed. I think it’s interesting that we’re using different terminologies. I think that kind of goes to the kind of a core. We want the same thing, but we’re saying it a little bit different.

Julie: Nice. Yeah.

Greg: And how often does that happen? Great observation. I mean, really, from a communication standpoint, how many books or seminars have been taught on, you know, communication in marriage?

A lot of times we’re speaking the same thing, just different ways, huh?

Julie: Exactly.

Cynthia: We’re looking at it a slightly different way.

Julie: Absolutely. Yeah. Brilliant insight.

That’s great. Absolutely. Yeah.

Cynthia: I think it’s, I always tell people, it’s like that the male and the female are two halves of the whole and you screw them together and then the ball rolls, you know, they’re opposite.

You talked about forgiveness. Explain how forgiveness can be a huge key in moving past a really hard spot.

Greg: You know, one of the one of the checkpoints that Julie and I began to implement consciously in our interactions with one another was asking ourselves what’s the desired outcome? Because so often in these exchanges or interchanges, it can be really easy to fall into a pattern of sort of winning the argument or coming out ahead.

Julie and I had a conversation about this. Do I want to win the argument, or do I want to have a nice evening? Do I want to, do I want to come out ahead and chalk one up for me? Or do I want to bless the person that I vowed before God and man to love for the rest of my life? And why on earth would I be treating this person this way? Why would I want to cut her down to size? That makes no sense whatsoever. Yet. I’m ashamed to admit for many years in our marriage, particularly in the early years, that’s what I did all too often is, I made sure she understood just how wrong she was.

Julie: It’s not a matter of whether we are ever going to be faced with the opportunity to forgive. It’s whether we’re going to or not we will forgive, Marriage will test mold, and shape us like no other. God has always used marriage as a foundation to demonstrate his love.

It’s the analogy of the bride and the church. If I am not forgiving him in a sense that just continues to culminate in my own life, and I began to get bitter. It begins to tear me down.

I had a friend challenge me on forgiveness and said the chapter really was almost too simplistic. She said there are times when people can’t forgive. I get that. But it’s not a matter of willpower. Or mustering up or just saying the words. It’s that place again of surrender and dependency upon the Holy Spirit to allow us to release the offenses.

But as Christians, we’re called to love one another as Christ has loved us. And again, it comes back to, it’s not me that’s going to be strong enough to do that. There are going to be times when I tick Greg off. And there’s going to be times when he disappoints or makes me angry.

And in those moments, I can hold on to that offense, I can mull it over and make every argument as to why he was wrong. And the only thing that does is serve to tear me down. But when I come to God, the Father, and I remember what Jesus did on the cross and I release that, then there’s a freedom of I’m not big enough to forgive this offense.

God, would you help me? And in there, there’s a healing that takes place, an invitation. Where God comes in and does what we’re incapable of doing.

Cynthia: Yeah, I think about that passage in, in 1 Corinthians 13, where it talks about love. And it says not to consider a wrong suffered. Now, how is that different than boundaries and how could that play into your marriage?

Julie: I want to be very careful because I know there are situations that take place, right? That it is healthy for the person to get some separation or get some boundary there. But I think it’s a matter of the heart.There may be things that are intolerable that are not.

It doesn’t mean that we allow somebody to hurt us or physically abuse us. But what it does is it means I release and the only way I think maybe the best way for me to illustrate this is the time that I stood by my father’s casket. We had every abuse present in my upbringing. And, but as I stood at his casket, Cynthia, I immediately saw a picture of my son’s face and it was probably one of the last layers of real healing that took place in me because when I saw my son’s face and again, it wasn’t visual, but just in my mind’s eye, just a clear picture. What I realized in that one instant with the Holy Spirit did is he showed me that when my dad was young, I’m sure he had higher aspirations than to become an alcoholic, an abuser, one who physically or sexually assaulted his daughters. He never wanted to cause us to have such a skewed paradigm of men.

And what I realized who the true enemy was. And in that last little moment of just standing by my father’s casket and realizing he had higher aspirations. But somewhere some brokenness spilled out on him. And then that brokenness spilled out on my life. And by the grace of God, I’m praying that that, you know, there’s no more brokenness that has to get spilled out onto anyone else.

That doesn’t mean that my dad wasn’t in close proximity to me, but it does mean I release him from the offense in a way that I forgive him, and I recognize who the true enemy really was behind it all. And in that I gain mercy, and the hope that I’ll get to see my father in heaven that in those last moments of his life, God revealed himself.

Cynthia: What do you think about that?

Greg: I think with all the disclosures that Julie laid out already, which is, you know, a truly dangerous situation. One of the things that has really helped us is just beginning to understand and see each other through the lens of another human being who’s just trying to figure it all out.

I mean, that’s really what we’re all doing. This even helps me relate to my kids. Or the guy on the street corner that’s panhandling. What’s their story? What’s brought them here? Julie does something, for instance, that may be offensive to me, albeit not very often. Every now and then she has these moments though. What I try to, what I try to think of when I’m in my right mind is, wow, you know, what’s going on in her world? And so rather than me wanting to retaliate, what I’m drawn to do at that point is to maybe kind of pan back and observe for a second. See what I can do to serve her. She does the same for me. And so when we do that, we will be able to operate in harmony and in unity.

Marriage is being attacked from all angles today. Up, down, sideways, I mean everywhere. It is vital that we as couples understand really what’s at stake here and swallow some pride and look at that other person that we vowed to love and cherish for the rest of our life. If there’s one person on this planet that I should be able to offer some grace on a tough day, then it should be her.

Cynthia: I hear you saying that you’re going to begin with the end in mind. If she’s having a bad day, you could say. “Julie, I know you didn’t mean to hurt my feelings. You must be just tired or something. But you know, when you did this, it really made me feel bad.”

Greg: yeah. Yeah. And so many times really that there are times, Cynthia, absolutely times when we need to “hit the nail on the head,” as graciously as possible.

I mean, honest to goodness, one, pick your battles. Two, offer grace. Three, sometimes what she really needs is she just needs me to come and wrap my arms around her.

Coming up and just embracing her and saying, “How can I serve you, baby doll? How are you doing today? Are you okay? Is there anything that I can do to help you? What’s on your mind?”

See, that’s not me focused, is it? That’s focused on her. And it’s amazing the difference.

Julie: I always felt the need to let Greg know what I was feeling. And I had a boss who was very cantankerous, always took credit for things, but I lived to make him look great. I didn’t feel the need to let him know every time he offended me. And I remember one day in particular, this boss had taken credit for something I had worked hard for. I wanted to say something, but I didn’t. And it was so awesome because the Holy Spirit challenged me. If I could give that man respect and hold my tongue, how much more should I do that for Greg?

Now here’s where I think the balance comes in. If I can’t freely release it from my heart, that’s when I need to talk to Greg about it. We have kind of a checkpoint. And for me, it’s, will this offense matter five minutes from now? Will it matter five days from now? Will it matter five years from now? And what I’ve learned to do is to only address the things that are really going to surpass the present. That has helped me to be able to have difficult discussions and to say to him. Babe, I’m trying to believe the best about you right now, but I could use a little help.


Greg: We’ve also learned to laugh and not take ourselves so seriously as well. You know, it’s amazing how many times just a small little code word. Hey, we’re getting ready to go down a road we don’t want to go down.

We just crack a little bit of a joke that we both understand and it just kind of puts things in check. So there’s a lot to be said about not taking yourself too seriously too, right? Yep.

Cynthia: we Had one of those discussions one time after I’d had one of my children, it was a while before my cycle started back. When it did, I started getting wound up and Ray said, “Oh, good you haven’t had hormones in a while. I’m going to look forward to this.”

We both started laughing. I couldn’t blow up. And I started learning. I would even pray beforehand. “Lord. It’s on its way. It’s another week from now. Let’s work on trying to make sure that I don’t lose my cool during that time.”

My husband had brain damage after his illness in 2008. His emotions were much more intense. And so there were a few times when I could very gently say, “Sweetheart, now you have some idea what hormones feel like.:

Let’s talk a little bit about romance. We, ladies, read our romance novels, and we expect the rest of our lives to be like that.  Can you address that?

Greg: Well, I would say that again, it goes back to one of the initial things that we talked about. Meeting the other person’s needs. And listen, ladies. Or guys, whoever’s listening. This is for both. It really is important. I believe that as we are romancing and as we are in the bedroom and otherwise, the object of the game is to honor one another.

I believe we’ve learned over the years that it requires some uncomfortable conversation sometimes. It’s not only God-ordained. But, our coming together as a couple is incredibly, incredibly important for connecting with one another emotionally.

I need that time with her, that communion with her. Even though maybe we’re spending lots of good quality time together, there is just a different kind of connection that takes place when we’re able to come together and serve one another in that way.

Julie: Yeah. I’m going to get vulnerable, tactfully, but there was a point in our marriage where Greg kept saying, “Julie, I just want you to want me.”

And I remember about the third time because I’m trying to just be there. I’m shaking my head and trying to be supportive. And in the back of my mind, I’m getting madder and more angry and angrier. And about the third time he said, “Julie, I just want you to want me.”

I lost it. I said, “Greg, what more do you possibly want from me? I’ve never said no to you.”

Out of my fear. I would have never said no to him in a sexual intimacy way. The act itself, because fear told me if I did, he may go find elsewhere. It was this roadblock. There was a part of me that I gave to him physically that I never tied in the emotion to it.

I don’t know if other women listeners can relate to that, but there was this season where it was like a checklist. Okay. You know, fed the dogs, had sex with my husband. Check. Check.

When he said, “I just want you to want me.”

I lost it.

And I said, “Greg, I’ve never said no to you.”

And he responded to me, “Julie, you may have never said no, but you’ve never said yes.”

And the way that he said it, there was no anger, there was hurt. And I thought, “Oh, no, it’s me again. God, there’s still more that I have to allow.”

And what I realized is the enemy had robbed. And what I hear from women is we, we go through this season where we really want to be romanced. And then I think there’s this season where it does become this spiritual duty checklist. And what I found is I must make room. For the invitation, I must make room for the initiation and the intimacy to take place.

He could be wining me and dining me, and I’m thinking at all he wants is sex. There’s this drudgery. Open it up and flirt with him. Wink at him, say, I can’t wait to be with you this evening. Making that invitation is another mental way I can take charge.

It is a service to one another. It’s honoring each other. Paul talks about it. My body is no longer my own. Yes. And Greg’s body is no longer his own. And that isn’t just the physical body, it’s the spiritual aspect. It’s the emotional aspect of that union of two coming together as one that God’s so ordained since the beginning of all time.

Cynthia:  I think you are talking about emotional surrender.

Greg: That’s, that’s exactly right. There’s different levels of connection, right? And there’s different levels of connection in the bedroom when we come together.

Yes. There, there is, I’m trying to, I want to make sure that I say this the right way and that it’s appropriate. There is a coming together for the release. Yes. Right. Then there’s coming together for the emotional connection. Yes. And, and they can, Hey, I’m a guy, you know what I mean? Yeah. Okay. It took us a lot of years and conversations to have that break through.

I’ll tell you what, it’s, it’s been a journey, hasn’t it?

Julie: It really has. And it’s been a lot of allowing God to highlight. I guess there were so many ways that I just thought I was right, and he was wrong.

And God had to show me where the enemy had come in and had stolen.  I didn’t even realize had been robbed. And so it’s been a lifelong journey with an amazing man to help me to reclaim what I believe God has for every married couple.

Cynthia: Because you didn’t need to protect yourself from him emotionally. And that’s a huge thing for you to come to as someone who was abused.

Greg: Yeah, let’s face it. This is something that is perverted everywhere you look. I think the other thing too, rather than pointing blame to the other person if we’re not coming together.

It’s that same process of understanding that we’re all just trying to figure it out. Nobody’s trying to hurt the other person, you know. And we must understand the battle that we’re in. And listen, we’re in a battle.

Cynthia: There’s a war. Yeah. There’s a war.

Greg: If we really see it as anything other than that, we leave ourselves vulnerable to an attack. If we’re standing in line at the, At the grocery store my son, several years back said, “why is that lady in her underwear?”

I said, “Well, we’re going to have to talk about that.”

Cynthia: We’ve got some things to discuss.

Greg: Money. That’s why I want to get down to it. But nonetheless, it’s been perverted, I think that as couples, we really have to fight for it. It is really, really worth fighting for.

Cynthia: Absolutely. Well, I just want to thank you for being out there and being willing to be vulnerable, to be able to share with people so that they can have their marriages healed.

Greg: We thank you for the opportunity to be vulnerable.

Cynthia: You can find Greg and Julie at https://marriedforapurpose.com/


Keep Romance in Your Marriage

Keep Romance in Your Marriage

Do you want to keep the romance in your marriage?

I look back on my parents and remember the warmth between them. They stayed close for many years, despite problems.

Listen here

August is a special month for me because my parents married on August 24. Momma always talked about the day she and dad married. In fact, any time someone visited, she offered to show them her wedding photos. This year, they would have been married 71 years, and in their memory, we are going to talk about marriage for a few weeks. How can you keep romance in your marriage?

First, let me give you a little history.

Dad had served in WW2, and he came home to discover his parents had separated. He spent several years trying to reconcile them, and then he wanted to get married. Mother was a student at a local Christian college, and a person who knew them both offered to set them up. The moment dad heard about her, he decided this was the woman for him.

Mother wore a red dress on their first date, and she enjoyed laughing at my dad’s jokes. She had just taken a sip of her coffee when he cracked another funny, and she choked. Dad offered her his handkerchief, which she took home and washed.

After that date, dad was sure she was the one. Mother wasn’t. She had dated another guy and wanted to see if he was still interested. That young man moved away, and she thought about how much she enjoyed laughing with my dad. They continued dating and later married.

Mom and Dad’s relationship was special. Dad adored mother, and she felt the same. They often embraced and kissed in our presence. At Mom’s funeral, the pastor described my parents as
peanut butter and jelly. You could hardly think of one without the other. They enjoyed being together and found more in common as they aged. When Mama died, they had been married almost fifty-six years.

Not that they didn’t have rough spots. Once when mom came
home from the grocery store, a large box of laundry detergent fell out of the passenger seat and hit the accelerator. She couldn’t stop the car, which whammed into the garage door. The accident left Dad’s brand new car with a huge dent and did a lot of damage to the house too. I found her weeping in the kitchen worried about what my father would say. Dad didn’t like the damage, but he didn’t let that interfere with his love. Nor did he react with anger like she expected. I remember him reasoning with her about preventing such issues in the future.

And I recall when Mom had allergy tests and discovered she
could no longer eat foods she loved. She cried. That crisis could have done them in. Dad was determined not to allow his love to fade. He took us aside and told us to treat her with gentleness since she had a lot on her mind. That wasn’t unusual. He often admonished us to look out for her when she felt down.

Their love for each other was so precious, that I wanted the same thing in my marriage. Once I married, I realized a big part of that was my attitude toward my husband. And by that I mean, not allowing myself to dwell on his mistakes or weaknesses. And remaining committed to him.

After Mom died, I found a Loveman’s box in the bottom of her cedar chest. (In Chattanooga, Loveman’s was an exclusive store.) Mom wrapped contents in tissue, and I was thrilled so see what she valued so much. As I eased back the crinkly paper, Mom’s wedding dress lay on the top. A fancy white nightgown along with an elegant slip lay underneath. What a treasure. What care she took to fold each just right so it would fit. Obviously these items held a special place in her heart. What care she took to fold each just right. Obviously these items held a special place in her heart.

Like those wedding clothes,

After watching them for a lifetime, I understand their secret.
They treasured one another “as fellow heirs of the grace of life.” So when problems come along—and they will—treasure your spouse. Think of that other person as fine china. You don’t bang your china about. Instead you wash it by hand with a delicate touch. If you must move, you spend extra time packing each piece so it won’t break. Just like china, your spouse is special, fragile. Attack
the problem while treating your spouse with love and respect. Nurture that love, and it will last


Ignorance Isn’t Bliss

Ignorance Isn’t Bliss

When I was about ten years old, my parents took us on a trip out west. We visited two brothers who served as missionaries to the Navajo Indians in New Mexico. Ron’s wife talked about how much her husband enjoyed pinion nuts that only grew in that area. We had never heard of them, but her glowing description left an impression on my parents. We left the missionary’s home to continue our vacation, but mother visited a local grocery store. She found a package of nuts and brought them to us in the car. We all expected to enjoy a treat before supper.  Mom passed a handful of brown delicacies to each of us. I thought they resembled peanuts. However, I when I bit down, I found them very hard and bitter.

“These things are disgusting,” Mother said. “How on earth could Ron like them so much?”

As I chewed, I began to realize the problem. “Mom, the inside tastes a lot better than the outside.”

“What?” Mother said. “I assumed they were ready to eat, but I didn’t ask.”

“I think we are eating the hull as well as the nut,” I said.

We all had a good laugh as we began cracking open the outer shell. The nuts inside were quite tasty.

That day we learned that ignorance isn’t bliss. Fortunately, we didn’t suffer any serious injury, but that incident reminds me of the value of life-long learning, especially in spiritual matters.

Proverbs 1:5 says, “A wise man will hear and increase in learning, and a man of understanding will acquire wise counsel (Prov. 1:5 NAS)…”

Welcome August 2023

Welcome August 2023

Dear Heavenly Father, as our children and grandchildren return to school, we are reminded of our constant need of your wisdom and instruction. May we remember that ‘the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom’ so that we may maintain a healthy respect for your holiness and dignity. Help us to value our family and especially our spouses that our marriages may reflect the beauty of Christ and the church. In the Name of Jesus we pray, Amen.

CLICK HERE for your monthly encouragement  so you can download the August 2023 Calendar Challenge.

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