Posts tagged happiness

“Therefore I am now going to allure her;

 I will lead her into the wilderness

and speak tenderly to her.

There I will give her back her vineyards,

and will make the Valley of Achor a door of hope.

There she will respond as in the days of her youth,

as in the day she came up out of Egypt.

Hosea 2v14,15 NIV

All week I have been praying for the many women who wrote in response to last week’s faltering description of what a marriage looks like when both husband and wife lay all their wants and needs at the foot of the Cross. (Why he's not your Prince Charming)

And all week I’ve been pondering what to write next, waiting in the early stillness to hear that Voice.  In light of the cry from so many women whose hearts yearn to know more of what it means to be gathered into that kind of intimacy with God, to have their fears calmed and their needs met, I just cannot blithely blunder into a post about marriage.

So every morning I’ve asked… what should I say, Lord? I barely understand this myself, how can I communicate Your wisdom to women who crave more than concepts? Women who need to know how? Women who are awakening to Your call to come close? Is there a tidy formula I can line out? Steps 1…2…3…?

Instead of giving me words with which to tie a tidy bow around this gift of the gospel and the Cross and the way to both intimacy and dependency, I have felt His leading me to understand His love just for me…

My insistent read-through-the-Bible-in-a-year-in-chronological-order chart placed me in Hosea this week. Three days to whip through 14 chapters. But I can’t do it. Can’t get beyond chapter two and that first bit of chapter three. His words have captivated me, held me in grip of sorrow.

Because I am that woman I have so often self-righteously despised. Hosea’s wife, the promiscuous woman whose wayward wanting of more is an appalling picture of who we become when we refuse to be satisfied by God and God alone.

I know, I know, the story is supposed to be about Israel’s straying from Yahweh. But I cannot help myself. I am her!

And maybe some of you are too.

When you are sad  who do you tell first?  Your husband-who-is-supposed-to-listen-without-solving-it?  Your Facebook friends? Your mom? 

When you are worried do you first make lists? Check websites? Go for a run?

Is the measure of your worth tied up in people’s approval? Their kind comments and adulations about something they think you’re good at? Or is your value today dependent on whether or not your husband thinks you're beautiful and tells you- again?

Then maybe, like me, you are in danger of missing the greatest love of all. Maybe He’s right there waiting. Watching as you scurry and fret and work yourself to exhaustion to get it right.

And then this morning He spoke. Not in booming pronouncements or attention getting steps… but in that soft way He has of satisfying the place no one sees. That aching, wanting place.

"I will allure you to the wilderness because I love you... Because when you don’t feel good and nothing makes it better and you can’t get it right and no one is enough… I will bring you in close and fill you full… of Me."

The wilderness, my dear girls, is just where He wants us.

Not because we’re failures.

Not because we’re not as godly as that woman who seems so happy all the time.

And certainly not because we’re not good enough mothers or lovers or friends or worker-outters or whatever it is we think we’re supposed to be right now. 

That wilderness is where He wants us because it’s where we hear Him. 

He whispers there, outside the cacophony of all the sounds that compete for our attention.

Tender words.

Words of hope.

The kind of real hope that isn’t dependent on us doing more. Or being better. Or getting it right. 

“Throughout the Scripture, we see that God sometimes does His most powerful work in wilderness settings. Therefore, if you’re in such a place right now, take heart and take hope. As He did with His people, God has drawn you there in order to humble you and prove you— but also to do you good.”  (Jon Courson, Hosea)

Do you know what this means?

That very feeling of failure that nags at you is His whisper to come…

Your inadequacies are your beauty. Because in your weakness, He is so strong that He becomes all you need and when He becomes your everything, you finally become who you really are.



Wholly His.

Will you let Him lead you into that wilderness place?

Dare you stop trying to solve it and just listen?

Will you trust Him with the tensions in your story, knowing the real happily-ever-after ending will be worth it even if the right now is not the way you wish it was?

The wilderness never lasts forever, dear ones. He draws you there, speaks tenderly to you, and then causes you to blossom, producing hope in the midst of the “Valley of Achor”, that place of trouble.

And then… then He becomes all that you ever wanted.

“I will make you My wife forever,

showing you righteousness and justice,

unfailing love and compassion.

I will be faithful to you and make you Mine,

and you will finally know Me as the Lord.” 

Hosea 2v19,20 NLT

Hoping… and praying… that we will grasp this kind of love…

From my heart,


P.S. Are you in that wilderness place, wondering why? Or have you been there in the past and found Him faithful even when life hurts? Will you tell us about it?

Next week I’ve got another story I can hardly wait to share... it's about our first fight... and what I know now that I wish I'd known then... because, dear girls, he's really not your Prince Charming!



Phil’s proposal took me entirely by surprise. I’d spent the week grieving over losing him, wondering how in the world to pick up the pieces, and finally getting to the point of complete and total surrender.

I knew he loved me. And I didn’t doubt for a minute that I loved him.  But I was powerless to take away the worries that nagged at him— his need

to know for sure... to dissipate all doubt... to have everything perfect.

And so I’d let him go. And in the loosening of my heart’s grip on Phil, I’d discovered a greater joy in Jesus than I’d ever experienced before. I knew He would take care of me and that knowing left me riding on a high of unexplainable peace.

So when Phil called and asked me if I’d go out with him on Friday night I was immediately confused. Why? Hadn’t we dragged this out long enough?  Never in a million years did I suspect he would ask me to marry him.

When Phil came to pick me up, my family started acting extremely strange— smirks and grins and giggles. I was embarrassed and not a little annoyed, suddenly wishing I lived on campus rather than commuting to college across town. Couldn’t they see how hard this was for me?  Closing the door behind us, I let out a sigh of relief.

And that’s when Phil asked me to marry him. Right there on the front porch of my family’s home— the home he was asking me to leave so that I could join my life to his.

I don’t remember more than a few snatches of the words he used, in fact, I’m still not sure I even answered with any sort of clear affirmative.  What I do remember is an overwhelming sense of being loved and the awkwardness of our first kiss that left us both laughing out loud with the joy of it.

Yes, yes, yes!

He wanted me. This man I admired more than any other was telling me that he wanted me forever. I could hardly believe it, and yet I knew without a doubt that this was right, that God was in this, that He had brought us together.

When finally we came down from the high of that moment, the planning began. How long till we could pull together a wedding? Could we do this quick now that we’d decided? Was four months long enough? Was there any reason to wait?

We settled on a July date and got to work. Or at least my mom got to work. I mostly walked around with my head in the clouds and let her do all the details.

But a funny thing happened in all the flurry of planning and doing and dreaming— Phil and I began to argue. We’d never argued before. Not once. Now it seemed that my feelings were hurt all the time and he was frustrated and we spent hours and hours working out what we couldn’t understand. What was wrong with us?

The pre-marriage counseling we got was minimal. Our pastor met with us a couple of times but we were so sure we knew how to do this that we weren’t listening much. There were no personality tests or workbooks to fill in, though I was reading everything I could get my hands on and tucking away a whole list of rules to follow for the perfect marriage.

And all that kissing was keeping us heated up so hot that I’m not sure our brains were registering much anyway. Tension was mounting as we counted down the days one at a time. To my mom’s frustration, we spent more time planning our honeymoon than our wedding!

I was certain we were going to have the Ideal Marriage. Of course we would— Phil was my Ideal Man, after all. And I was reading my way through a stack of books to learn how to be the Ideal Wife.

Clearly we were heading for a crash but just as clearly we couldn’t have seen it.

And that is why I want to write this series. Because we did crash and we didn’t see it coming. And there are things I learned in that crash that no book every mentioned.

Things about conflict and oneness and humility and honesty— about two strong-willed people attempting the impossible task of melding their lives into one without destroying each other in the process.

And perhaps most important, I want to write about why he’s not really your Prince Charming no matter how much you love him. And how I, as a woman, as a wife, could choose to spend the rest of my life honoring and loving him skillfully… or draining him of every ounce of dignity by trying to make him into my Ideal.

But I didn’t know any of that on my wedding day. I just knew I loved this man and I had lived for months in that uneasy fear that if he discovered who I really was he’d change his mind.

When July 15th dawned clear and bright and he stood in front of our church and family and pledged his faithfulness for the rest of forever, I breathed a great sigh of relief. The hard part, I was sure, was behind us. Now my Prince would rush me off into our Happily-Ever-After where we would be… happy forever!

And now, nearly 35 years later I can’t help but laugh… and shudder a little… at my fairytale take on life. I had so much growing up to do, so much learning about real life and real love and real happiness.

So come along with me and learn from the rest of my story. Learn what I wish I’d known then, what I want my girls to know now. Learn from my mistakes and learn from my discoveries. Listen better than I did and you’ll undoubtedly avoid many of my blunders.

Most of all, it is my hope and my prayer that you will discover your real Prince Charming. And he’s not the guy you’ve got your eye on.

He’s the One, the only One, who will make you all-the-way-to-your-bones happy.

And He’s the One who will give you the strength and the will and the wisdom and the skill to love your man well.

To all of my girls, with all of my heart,


RED, GREEN, YELLOW: how marriage is supposed to work

I received this delightful note from one of our women who is a teacher in a school in Salem. I was struck by the wisdom of a child. I’ve added a few comments of my own to his essay… not that it needed one bit more! I think this little guy pretty much says it all.

Hi Diane

I have so enjoyed reading your blog on marriage lately.  I’ve also been listening to Mars Hill’s sermon series on marriage.  And then yesterday, I came across one of my middle schooler’s art projects while grading.  The assignment was to create a sculpture that represented a human relationship, emotion or attribute.  He chose marriage.  And he is in 6th grade.  My heart was so glad, after reading his essay on his sculpture.  I don’t work at a Christian school, so to hear this from a child was priceless!  Just wanted to pass it along to someone who appreciates what God does through marriage as much as I do!

Art and Primary Spanish Teacher

Abiqua School

The reason behind this sculpture is happiness or marriage.

This is a feeling that first time marriage people will never forget. This feeling for most people is the best feeling they will ever feel in their lifetime.

In the painting you may see that if you picture their faces together as one,

they look half and half.

That is what married people should commit to.

I chose red as a color because red represents all of the arguments and problems and miscommunication that will be a part of marriage but the two people will stay strong and carry on.

I chose green as a relaxing color because you now work as a team and everything you do is now one.

I chose yellow as a color because it represents how much you want to do this and how enthusiastic and happy you are about your decisions.

Red, green, yellow.

Red because conflict is a reality when two people choose to become one. Because becoming one takes a whole lot of dying to self and forgiving and covering over all those irritants that threaten to undo us. And because for most of us it’s an embarrassingly messy process. And life intrudes and things go wrong and we have a million opportunities to choose- grace and mercy or disapproval and rejection?

Green because a great marriage creates a space that is so restful and refreshing that a whole family- and indeed an on looking world- can find peace and hope and rest there. And because green is a symbol of growth and newness and that’s what a God centered marriage between two people creates in this whole crazy process of becoming one.

Yellow for the sheer joy of participating in a miracle. Like my daffodils blooming in the midst of a dreary day, a marriage done right brings delight to everyone who gets to glimpse this outlandish idea of God’s.

And I think that’s enough said…

From my heart,