Friday, May 25, 2012


It's been a long time since I posted.  Just wanted to say that God has been at work in our lives, and we are thankful!  The longer I wait to post, the more there is bottled up that I want to say, so the harder it is to find the time to try and say it!

But it will just have to wait a little longer.... Sorry!  :-)

Saturday, May 05, 2012

Stuck in a Rut... and some links to consider

I don't think there are any regular readers of this blog, but if you are one, you might have noticed that there have been less of late. We've been pretty busy with a lot, including some "stay-cation" time that did not afford the amount of free time we had anticipated! But we've also spent a lot of time recently talking about my issues and our marriage and it has not always been pretty. We've had some  heated conversations and some strong disagreement in our dialog, and we both have gotten a bit frustrated with each other and the current state of things. Sigh...

The basic disagreement is over expectations, and specifically, how much I can "get over" this other woman; how quickly; and in what way I accomplish that. Probably neither one of us is right in our perspective, but we both realize that our differences are getting in the way of moving forward. Further, we can "peek over the next hill" so to speak, and see that if we can just get out of our current rut, that we would be able to move ahead and make some serious progress towards putting this whole thing behind us. But in the meantime we just seem stuck -- two steps forward; one step back; one step forward; two steps back; and so on. It's not that we are not learning anything or growing at all -- we are -- but it doesn't seem to result in any real progress forward -- neither in my struggles nor in our relationship.

Early this week, I met with our pastor to catch him up with where we are, and what seems to be keeping me (and us) from moving forward. He had some good advice and encouragement, and wants to meet with both of us soon. We did arrange to meet with him tomorrow afternoon, and are praying that God will give him the wisdom to help us both see the way forward, and for us to humbly and graciously speak and listen. We are thankful for all that God has done already, but hungry for further progress, thirsty for a deep cleansing, and tired of looking back and being pulled back into our past again and again. And although we are getting along alright for the past few days, we know that we disagree underneath it all, and are anxious to be on the same page and pointing in the same direction.

During this time, I've come across a few articles and sermons and just wanted to share them with a quick note about them:

     An article by John Bloom entitled, "You Don't Have to Obey" gives an interesting illustration of what it is like to have a new life in Christ by the Spirit, but still have indwelling sin from our flesh. That, and some interesting explanation of how sin works and how to overcome it.  I strongly recommend this short article!

     A much longer 6-sermon series by John Piper from back in 2001 on a passage in Romans 7 was also very helpful in understanding flesh versus Spirit, and related concepts. Here is the first sermon (you can read or listen) and you can just hack the link to go all the way through part 6 if you want. For me, part 6 is the best, but that is perhaps because it summarizes the first 5 and gets to the main point that interested me. If you have struggled to understand the struggle in Romans 7, I highly recommend this. And I suggest listening, because you get not only some extra stuff added by John Piper when he was preaching, but you get to hear his heart; his passion; and his love for the Word and the people.

     And finally, a short article on sanctification entitled, "You Can Change! (Or Can You?)" by Tim Chester, which I also found very interesting and insightful. Oh, and it was written just a few days before the wheels really started in motion in the unfolding of our issues last May, which I found to be a kind-of cool "God thing."

Well, that about sums it up for now. I need to re-tool my weekly goal list, and perhaps get back to blogging more regularly. I just can't make it a priority when there are really important things going on here.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Killing Sin

I recently came across this article by Sinclair Ferguson entitled, "The Practice of Mortification" on the Ligonier Ministries website. In an effort to work through it and understand it better, I condensed and re-worded it. Hopefully Mr. Ferguson won't mind my sharing his work in this way. He bases the article primarily on Colossians 3:1-17.

1. I am a new creature in Christ, and I need to remember that every day and hour. It is my new identity, for I've died, been buried, been raised, and my life is hidden in Christ. I've been delivered from sin's dominion, and been liberated to fight against sin's remnants in my heart.

2. Sin must be attacked in every area of my life, not just one area. All forms of sin work together against me, supporting one another. I am the issue, not some particular sin, just like potato chips are not a dieter's problem, the person is!

3. Practical guidance for mortifying sin - Paul give hints in the overall passage:

     A. Call sin like it really is, don't pussy-foot or down-play your own sin -- for me it is sexual immorality, impurity, evil desire, idolatry. Sin needs to be exposed for what it truly is, before we can deal with it.

     B. See my sin from God's perspective, recognize that it deserves God's wrath, and I must bring it to the cross daily to see Christ bearing God's wrath against my sin. My sin does not lead to lasting pleasure, but to divine displeasure. I need to see my sin's character by the way God judges it. Sin is as serious in a believer as in an unbeliever, and is not forgiven if I continue in it -- for that would be evidences of a lack of repentance. I need to feel the shame of the sin I once committed, and now struggle against.

     C. Sin is inconsistent with who I really am in Christ. I am no longer the "old man" nor "in Adam", but "in Christ". Sin is not consistent with being in Christ, so if I am not living in newness of life through Christ, then I am not living "in Christ."

     D. Putting sin to death is as simple as refusing it, starving it, rejecting it. It is painful, but there is no other way.

But puting sin to death is only a part of the whole picture, and cannot be done by itself. It must be done in conjunction with "putting on" Christ. The negative will not be accomplished separate from the positive, and vise-versa. We must understand and apply the "glorious exchange" principle of the Gospel of grace in order to make advancements in holiness. Adam-like sinful desires and habits are not only rejected, but exchanged for Christ-like graces, actions, and are held together by love. This evidences itself in our private, family, and public lives, for the glory of God.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Our Story... Part 1

Christophe set this blog up several months ago, and I guess it is time to introduce myself, too. My name is Cherie (for the purpose of this blog ;))...I am 35 years old...just an ordinary, typical busy mother and wife. We have 2 daughters (5 and 2 and both miracles of infertility) a dog, a cat, and a yellow house on the edge of the woods...but no picket white fence.

This is my feeble attempt to try and tell our is raw, it is real, it is quite ugly.  But out of that ugliness, a beautiful love story is emerging....a love story of an Amazing Savior who is working in our hearts in our darkest of times, teaching us the miracle of forgiveness and grace worked out in normal, everyday people like us.

Christophe and I met before either of us can really remember. Our families grew up knowing each other, and we started going together in 1996. He was my first boyfriend, and I was his first girlfriend, and I always said that I would not have it any other way!! We truly were in love, and we got married in May of 1997.

Sadly though, it didn't take long for our problems to surface, and then get buried without ever being dealt with properly. We both *thought* that we were saved, *thought* that we had an understand of what salvation meant....but in this last year we realize that the key components of Salvation (ie grace, forgiveness, justification, and more grace) were very lacking in our relationship.

The first few years of our marriage were great...I knew that Christophe struggled with lusts, but he kind of convinced me that it was an issue in the past, that he had dealt with them and it wasn't really a current issue to talk about.  Around 2006, I had a gut instinct start to kick in that something wasn't quite right...I wasn't positive....I kind of approached him about it....and I kind of buried it, where it festered and mushroomed.  Communication obviously was not our forte!

It was around that time that I became aware of Christophe's interest in another woman in our Church.  His head would turn, and he would watch her....he would recall things that she said for months.....and it made me feel super insecure and anxious, and had no idea how to deal with it.  Stewing over it was my answer instead of taking it to our Maker and Creator who knows our hearts.  There are many, many painful moments from these months and years, and it isn't profitable to spell it out in details.

In August of 2009, we gave up trying to have another baby naturally.  With our oldest daughter, we went through 7 years of infertility, and we were super shocked when we found out we were pregnant.  My doctor had thought that perhaps my condition had reversed itself, so in 2009, we went through the testing all over again....but all the answers were bleak at best.  We left the office and in the parking lot together said that if we were going to have another baby, it would be all GOD...and we were at peace about it.

In September, just one month later, we vacationed in Maine.  An incident happened that once again aroused my suspicions that things weren't quite right in our relationship.  Though we had sex, my heart was far from in it, and I turned away and thanked the Lord for our infertility.  That was a seed of bitterness...and that seed of bitterness fell on fertile ground, and grew and grew and grew.

I knew almost right away that I was pregnant....and with that pregnancy I was hiding a horrible secret.  I despised the relationship that we had as husband and wife, and this baby was not conceived out of love and passion and desire....I was pretty positive that it was born out of passion and desire for another woman, not me!  Even though I was happy that we were adding another baby into our family, my heartache (and bitterness) grew.  Every time I felt nauseous, I blamed Christophe.  As the time grew near to give birth, I did not want this baby to enter the world.

Our second daughter was born at 12:30 in the morning on a Saturday morning, and she was beautiful....but I didn't see beauty in her.  I wasn't sure what was wrong with me, but I felt no love, no desire, no thrill at having given birth...and in hindsight, I recognize that my heart was FULL of bitterness.  Three days later, our baby girl started having some health issues, and we spent the next 12 or 15 days in one doctor's office or another.  It was so stressful.  They were threatening to admit her into the NICU, and I just felt bewildered inside, guilty, and like this was the payment that I deserved for not having desired to give birth in the first place.  There was one awful day where I just laid in our bed and cried....Christophe tried to comfort me and I just pushed him away.  He had no idea the battle going on in my soul that was raging towards him.  I was angry and very, very bitter.

But God was working, even in those early months....He helped me to realize that it wasn't Baby K's fault that we had issues in our marriage, and HE planted a love for her deep in my heart that started to grow.  I still felt horribly guilty for the way that I felt towards her initially, and I spent many days trying to over-compensate for it.

Unfortunately, through the winter of 2010/11, K. was once again a very sickly baby.  She had horrible reflux tummy issues, and we spent that winter hunkered down in survival mode.  As a result of being housebound with 2 children under the age of 5, I kind of went a little bit crazy, or so I thought.  I now see that God was starting a huge work in me, but I didn't see it as that at first.  At first it was just one panic/anxiety attack, but it wasn't long before I spent my days going from one anxiety attack to the next.  I couldn't prepare breakfast for my family, without the feeling that my shoe was caught in the railroad track and a train was rushing at me at 100 miles per hour.  These were dark days for sure.

By the time Spring arrived, something had to change...I couldn't go on living like this, and it was either pills, the loony bin, or finding courage to talk to our Pastor.  I finally found nerve and approached him on a Sunday night, and went to talk to him the following Friday.  I am SO THANKFUL for a Godly Pastor who is gracious, kind, understanding, and took me to the foot of the Cross and Scripture to deal with my demons.  The first thing he had me do is memorize 2 Corinthians 10:4:

For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty in God, for tearing down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God; bringing every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.

That verse became my food and drink, and was before me every morning, every noon, every night, and in the middle of the night.  I learned to turn to Jesus and hold onto Him, to turn from these evil thoughts of anxiety and find peace.  It was a gradual process, but I was so thankful for the relief and focus.

A few weeks later, in having that verse in front of me all the time, I became convicted that my thoughts "were not in captivity" in regards to the situation that my marriage was in.  I was still very bitter against Christophe, and that was NOT obedient to Christ.  So on Communion Sunday in May, I left a screaming Baby K in the nursery, and went out to confess my sin to my Savior.  I poured it all out to God, K's conception, my pregnancy, her birth, my anger at both her and Christophe...and recognized that I was in desperate need of mercy for these sins that had built in my heart and soul.  I also pleaded with God, offering up a mustard-seed sized piece of faith, to please move this huge mountain in our marriage that was unmovable to me.

That night, around midnight, I confessed the whole sordid tale to Christophe, and asked him to please forgive me.  The feeling of freedom that washed through my soul was unlike anything I had ever felt before or since.  It was liberating, freeing, and for the first time in over a year, I looked at my husband with desire.  I thanked God for the courage I needed to face this head on.  Christophe had no idea what had been going on in my heart, and it was a shock to him, I think.  We cried together, prayed together, and I think this was the first realization that we had work to do in our marriage.

What I didn't realize was that this night, was opening up an even bigger can of worms......

(To Be Continued....)

Friday, April 20, 2012

Some random thoughts

I like to have an organized and logical approach to writing a blog entry, and a whole bunch of other areas of life, I suppose! But tonight I just wanted to put some disconnected thoughts out there.

This has been a generally good week, but I feel like I'm lagging in my endeavor to draw near to God practically. I have not been spending time in the Word daily, and I really want to. I'm sure my flesh and the devil are conspiring to keep me from finding a way to begin this habit, but I am determined to break free from the old and pursue the new. If you're reading this, will you pray for me?

Early in the week, I found Fred Stoeker's blog and wrote him with my story and a few questions that I am hoping he can answer or steer me in the right direction on. I really don't know if he will answer or not, but it was helpful to put my story and questions together in writing, and I know that God is the one who will give me direction, answers, and encouragement!

Speaking of which, I was super-encouraged to hear back from a friend this week, whom I had written several weeks ago. He and his family live on the other side of the country now, and we have not really been in touch much fora few years. I had written him and gave him a general idea that I was struggling with some issues, but was not very specific, and indicated that I would appreciate his prayers and was interested in possibly corresponding with him casually. He shared a couple of areas that he had been challenged in and been overcoming in the past couple of years, by God's grace. He wants to start a Bible study via email so we can encourage and challenge one another. I am super excited, because he is a humble and honest and gracious Christian, but also because I think it will be beneficial for me to be open and real with another close friend, and thirdly because this relationship will promote my interest in the Bible and help me stay focused on it!

Well, it is Friday night, the girls are in bed, and I am looking forward to spending some quality time with Cherie. So, I'll close this short and somewhat disconnected post, and hope to see you sometime next week!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

On YOU I Wait All the Day

"To You, O Lord, I lift up my soul. O my God, I trust in You; Let me not be ashamed; Let not my enemies triumph over me. Indeed, let no one who waits on You be ashamed; Let those be ashamed who deal treacherously without cause. Show me Your ways, O Lord; Teach me Your paths. Lead me in Your truth and teach me, For You are the God of my salvation; On You I wait all the day." (Psalm 25:1-5)

The last week or so has been difficult for Cherie and I, as we continue to work through some of the fall-out from my issues. The primary problem is that I continue to be tempted by thoughts of the other woman. Although these thoughts are not with longing but more of general interest, they cause concern because it makes both of us wonder how "over" her I am; how complete the heart change is that God has given. I am almost always successful in turning from these thoughts, and have recently been telling myself, "NO, you do not have the right to think of her at all," (some advice from "Every Man's Battle") and finding more real deliverance. But I really want to be free of them altogether, to understand and root out the source of these thoughts, and I am not sure that I am on the right track. I don't want to exaggerate the problem, but neither do I want to minimize it. And as you can imagine, it is really hard for Cherie when she knows that I still have some inclination to think of the woman that I betrayed her for; that I pursued in my imagination; that I had a crush on. To say that it is my sinful flesh that is the cause, and not my true self which is now dominated by my changed heart, does not really change the picture from her perspective. It still feels like betrayal; it still makes her question where I am at; and how much to trust me.

These conversations have been difficult and ugly, to say the least. But I "get it" from her perspective a little more now. And it has inflamed a passion within me to tackle my thoughts with renewed vigor. I decided not to go to church on Sunday (the other woman attends there as well) to starve myself of "food" for my thoughts, and to focus on seeking God together with Cherie. There was some profit in our long conversations that day, but eventually derailed into never-never land, which started our week out kinda rough.

It is easy to be discouraged in such cases, but I don't really have that liberty right now. I need to seek God and His wisdom with all of my heart, and I am really trying to make that a priority this week. Things have warmed up a little between us in the short-term, but I need to focus on the long-term, and Cherie's patience with me has worn thin. I really need a break-through, and I know that God is in that business.

It occurred to me that God expects me to obey what He has already revealed, before He will show me the next steps. And He has shown me that I need to focus a lot of my attention on pursuing Him -- in personal Bible reading, prayer, and worship.

That brings me to the above verses, which I am memorizing this week. I am looking at my verse memorization from a different angle now. It is not just to fill up my mind with good things. It is to embrace God's very words. It is to cling to God and His truth. It is to hide His words in my heart. It is to strengthen my new heart in His good ways, by His good Spirit.

I chose these particualr verses because they highlight some important things for me at this point in my Christian journey.

The psalmist here is overflowing with expressions of dependence upon God. He lifts up his soul to the Lord; he trusts in God; he knows God has power over his enemies; he waits upon the Lord and knows that He can keep him from being ashamed; he needs to be shown the Lord's ways; he wants to be taught God's paths by Him; he longs for truth and sound teaching; he acknowledges his salvation comes only from God; and he waits upon God all the day. I am reminded that I am nothing, and that I cannot do any good thing apart from the Lord and His work in my life. I need Him to show me the way and give me the grace and strength to walk in that way.

Something else I noticed here. My victory over sin; my triumph over the flesh; my conquering in spite of Satan's attack -- these are all in the hands of God, who has already accomplished my deliverance in the cross of Christ. The psalmist says early on, "Let me not be ashamed", but as he considers it further, he knows God's answer, and he clings to it even as He voices it to God: "let no one (and I add, "not even me") who waits on You be ashamed." How can I be ashamed if I am waiting on God all the day; by seeking His truth and ways with all of my heart; recalling that He is the God of my salvation? This reminds me that salvation includes not only justification, but sanctification and glorification, and so I know my current deliverance is part of His continued work of sanctification in my life, part of His perfect salvation.

The reference to those who ought to be ashamed has always made me think of Saul or even some of David and Saul's warriors who were just horrible in their dealings. But last night when I read this, I saw myself in it. I have "dealt treacherously" with Cherie in betraying and deceiving her, and that "without cause." How ashamed I am, and how worthy of God's wrath instead of His blessing. And yet, God in His mercy and grace looks down upon the likes of me, and He delights to deliver us from our treacherous ways to His own ways of truth, righteousness, and glory. What an awful sinner I am. What an amazing God has saved me! He will be faithful in continuing that work in me, as I seek Him with the changed heart that He has given me.

Oh God, I need You; I trust You; I seek You; please teach me; oh show me the way; I cling to You; I wait upon Your deliverance while I seek Your grace to follow and obey You; please cause me to triumph for Your name's sake. In Christ's powerful name I ask it. Amen.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Closeness x 2

I just finished listening to "Every Man's Battle" today, and it has been a real encouragement and very helpful to me practically. Perhaps I will write a book review sometime soon. Anyway, I wanted to share something simple but meaningful that was mentioned in the conclusion of the book.

It was brought out that two of the aims of becoming free from sexual temptation are to re-gain closeness with your wife, and closeness to God. Those two intimacies are exactly what I need, and what I had sacrificed for "the pleasures of sin" for in years gone by. Sin gets in the way of relationships, period, and the closer the relationship is supposed to be, the more damaging it is. That is especially true when the sin issues are deceit, lust, and betrayal. Trust me on this - don't go there.

The other thing that struck me is that I have heard (and found) that pursuing intimacy with God, and with Cherie, are key in overcoming the types of sin I was entrapped by, and am struggling to overcome now. Yes, this here is a circular effect. The more I pursue oneness with Cherie, and oneness with God, the easier it is to overcome temptation and lead my heart aright. And the more I oppose and overcome sin and my sinful flesh's influences, the freer I am to worship and walk with God, and to honor and enjoy my relationship with Cherie.

So which comes first, the chicken or the egg, so to speak? Well, I didn't start off 11 months ago being close to either God or Cherie, nor with victory over temptation. I think they both go together. I can only overcome temptation as I pursue God and His grace and the work of His Spirit. I can only enjoy oneness with God when I am not pursuing sin. It all works together, and is all because of the grace of God working in my life.

It is a good reminder to me that both the current solution and the ultimate goal are essentially one and the same. I must pursue oneness, not only as a reward for faithfulness, but as a source of being faithful. It reminds me of this verse which I admit that I am taking out of context:

"But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you." (Matthew 6:33)