Posts in Charming
HE'S NOT YOUR PRINCE CHARMING: what women really want #1

Last week I asked women to write and tell us what they really want from their men. I’d anticipated your answers, made a list of things I thought you’d say, outlined what I wanted to write about. But you surprised me by both what you did and didn’t say. Every one of you included somewhere on your list, this one thing… What every woman really wants…. Spiritual Leadership

Dear sons,

I have been writing to the women in your life for a long time now.

Words about their need to find all their hope and soul-satisfaction from Jesus.  About how to then turn around and pour the love they find in Him back into you, with skill and on purpose.

I hope you’ve noticed the effort your women are making to love you well, to love you the way you want to be loved— with respect and friendliness and with an awareness of who you are.

Now it’s your turn to listen.

Because the imperfect-but-trying women in your life have needs too. And because sometimes we women talk too long and too much about things even we don’t understand.

I think we’ve made something simple sound impossible.

And I’m hoping you catch a glimpse of a way to be who your are meant to be in a way that works for you.

Three Ways To Be A Spiritual Leader:

1.  Initiate

What your women are hoping for more than anything else, is so simple it’s almost laughable. They want you to understand their need to be led. Not dominated. Not preached at. Just gently and consistently led back to centering their hearts on Jesus. They’ve grown weary from feeling like they’re always the ones to lead the way back to God.

They want you to say:

“Let’s go to church tomorrow…”

“This morning I was reading in my Bible…”

“That message really spoke to me about…”

To a woman, that is spiritual leadership. When you take the initiative, when you make the suggestion, when you say it first… something inside of her falls more deeply in love with you. A woman admires a man who alerts her to focus on God. Respect grows, not because you’re perfect, but because you recognize who is and you love her enough to point her back to Jesus.

2.  Remind

Your women are smart. They know better than to think you can meet their every need and want and expectation. They know what you sense- that they’re needy, achingly so. It is the plague of every woman. And your women know that only Jesus can fill that emptiness.

Still, we forget... every day we forget.

And that’s when a woman becomes crabby or whiny or short-tempered or demanding.

What a woman really needs from you is simply a reminder. Bring the conversation back to Jesus. Remind her that He is taking care of her. Point out His faithfulness in her past. That He will not fail her now. That He loves her more than she can possibly know.

If you do this, and you’re nice about it, you will see immediate relief. She’ll sigh. Her shoulders will relax. She’ll nod her head and look up to you and be filled with gratitude. Because she knows… and agrees… and forgot. Again.

 3.  Pray

This is the big one. The hard one. Yet the one thing every woman will recognize as the ultimate spiritual leadership. You don’t have to pray long. You don’t have to pray first thing every morning or last thing every night. All you really need to do is grab her hand when she’s worried or frightened or feeling something she shouldn’t. Just hold her close and bring her to the Father. Out loud. By doing that you are showing your wife or girlfriend that you love her enough to bring her to the One who can fix everything. Yes, you are strong, yes you can solve most things… but by leading her into the presence of the One who is fully in charge, she sees you as the ultimate loving leader. Her relief and peace of heart will be palpable.

That, my dear sons, is what spiritual leadership looks like.

You don’t have to be eloquent or perfect. No theology degree required. All you need is an awareness of Jesus and the boldness to bring the woman you love to Him.

So simple. So very hard to actually do.

But I guarantee you this- if you will do these three things:

If you will initiate and remind and pray with her… she will respond.

She can’t help it. A woman’s feelings of love and attraction are so tied to her feelings of respect that she cannot separate the two. And nothing elicits the respect of a Jesus-following woman like a man who is bold enough to grab her hand and say, with Paul,

“Follow me, as I follow Christ.”

(1Cor 11:1)

May God give you the boldness to lead her closer to Himself.

From my heart,


P.S. Girls, your comments are fueling these posts. Can you tell me how your husband or boyfriend leads you spiritually?

And men, is there something we should know? Can you help us learn how to approach this often intimidating subject with grace? We're learning... all of us. To hear directly from you men would be an incredible help.

HE'S NOT YOUR PRINCE CHARMING: what a woman really wants

“I sought him who my soul loves…”

Song of Songs 3:1

Dear girls,

For many months now I have been writing with two purposes:

#1 To remind you that only Jesus can fully satisfy all those cravings and wantings inside of you. And that no man has the capacity to meet your every need. That until we find our hopes and longings for love met in an intimate relationship with the Savior, we are unable to fully give ourselves to the men in our lives.

#2 To teach you what I am learning about how to love a man well. We’ve talked long about responding with sexual freedom in the marriage bed, about respect, about tenderness and loyalty. All sorts of ways to be the lover and friend your man wants and needs.

Now it’s time we started talking about your own hopes and dreams.

  • What you wish for in a relationship.
  • How you wish he would treat you.
  • What kind of man you want to spend the rest of your life with.
  • What hurts you
  • What you wish he knew.
  • How you would respond if only…

But I’ll need your help with this one. Because I’m hoping to write in a way that men will want to read. And I’m hoping that you will pass these letters on to the men in your life; that you will tweet and text and Facebook and hint… And that I will be able to speak as an older woman into the hearts of your men, setting in simple terms the truths about what a woman really wants.

Here’s what I need from you:

Realistic, bottom-line lists and descriptions of what you really want.

Can you condense all those yearnings, all your ideals and dreams into short form? Feel free to make up a name or call yourself Anonymous. But be honest. Think about this. If your husband or boyfriend dared ask “What do you want from me?” What would you say?

Because, my dear girls, there are men who are really asking. Good men, godly men, imperfect-but-growing men, who want to know what it is you want, but are so confused by the mixed messages they’ve been getting for so long that they honestly don’t know.

I think it’s time we let them into our hearts and hopes.

From my heart,


P.S. If leaving a comment seems too intimidating, you can email me at I’ll be collecting all your thoughts as I write.


I am loved…

fully and thoroughly loved every day of my life.

I am noticed…

recognized and relished.

I am seen…

taken in and embraced for who I am.

I am known…

deep down, where secrets hide and dreams are born.

I am cherished…

delighted in, cared for, valued.

I am watched over…

everyday, every hour, when I’m aware and when I’m not.

I am guided…

through each precarious step and along every joyous path.

I am lavished…

with gifts strewn in my way, brightening my days, surprising and specific, just for me.

But some days I forget about that love. I ignore my Lover. I turn my back to Him and try to find all that love from others… who do not and cannot and never will love me like He does.

Those are the days that fall apart. When I start to strive and stress and get uptight and hurt and mean and sad.

On those forgetting days I am not who I really am. I lose that knowing. My heart turns cold to the One who loves, demanding instead that love from those He wants to lavish with his love by way of me.

My life loses beauty.

And somewhere off in the distance I hear a whisper. A faint caress, like the slightest breeze on a sweltering summer day.

I remember. I turn. I hold out my heart to the One who loves, needing Him, wanting Him, craving what I forgot.

And all His love comes rushing back, filling me, freeing me, embracing and knowing and cherishing and delighting and seeing and …

Loving… me.


My dear girls,

I woke up this morning after a fitful night’s sleep, to face a full day. Stresses… people… complications… conflicts… life.

I got up burdened by it all. Ready to write my lists, to somehow organize and strategize my way through the maze of needs and obligations and… then I remembered.

I am not the Grand Ayatollah of Need Meeting.

I am Diane. Made on purpose by the One who loves… me.

So loved that I am filled to overflowing, bursting with the joy of it.

I spill that love on all those others, all those people and complications and conflicts and life… because He first loved me.

Not because I should or I ought to, or because someone expects it of me, or because I am afraid that if I don’t I might get rejected and be alone.

And that, my dear girls, is what I’ve been trying to say through this whole He’s Not Your Prince Charming series. That loving your husband is not about you being perfect or him satisfying you.

We love because He first loved us.

And His loving us satisfies us.

So we in turn love those men in our lives… who may or may not respond the way we wish… but that’s okay because we’re so loved that we don’t need… don’t demand… don’t live on the love of a man.

We live on the love of God.

And somehow that makes all the difference, doesn’t it?

From my heart,


P.S. Are you, like me, waking up to His incredible love? Can you tell us how? What that looks like and sounds like in the midst of real life? Has He surprised you somehow? I’d love to hear your story because… well because we all love a good love story.





















Dear Girls, Years and decades and eras ago when Phil and I were dating I was convinced he would be a terrific dad.

After all, I reasoned, he loved to play with kids. Wrestling and teasing and throwing his nephews in the air, Phil seemed, in my vast experience, to have all the makings of a wonderful father.

And even though my criteria were laughably shallow, I was right. Phil has been a terrific dad to our four children.

Just a couple of days ago he got a text from Matt, asking for help and guidance about ministry he was being called to do. What to say, how to study, the best way to approach the opportunity.

I watched as Phil once again took an opportunity to disciple his son.

To raise up the next generation to teach and think and lead. 

And I watched as my son listened and learned and prepared to take the baton from his father and run his own leg of the race.

I watch as my oldest son, John Mark, leads his own sons and daughter. How he, who is so different in so many ways from his dad, is at the same time, so like his father.

I watch John Mark encourage and discipline and disciple his children— and then how he throws them in the air for a raucous wrestling match. Just like his dad.

And girls, I want the same for each of you. Because if you marry a man who understands his essential role of imitating the Father as a father, you and your children and your children’s children will be blessed beyond belief.

Trust me, I know. I live the results everyday.

That is why I want to invite you to attend a seminar Phil and I are teaching on November 8th and 9th. It’s called Intentional: Raising Passionate Jesus Followers.

This seminar is a culmination of a dream that started while Phil was in seminary and our first born was just a few months old. Over 3 decades ago! We knew we didn’t know what we were doing and so we began an intensive study. Gathering wisdom, delving into the Scriptures, asking questions, questioning the answers.

Now we have gathered what we learned and crammed it into six teaching sessions. We’ll tell our stories, explain the Biblical basis of the why’s and how’s, tell you what we did right and a whole lot of things we wish we’d done differently.

And here’s the real reason to come girls: When I saw, just a few days ago, Phil bent over his big, worn Bible pointing out to my son the truths that applied to his questions, I fell in love with the man all over again.

A great big swelling of I can’t believe I get to be married to this man kind of response.

And I want that for you.

Every one of you. Because in ways I do not fully understand, a woman’s feelings of love are all wrapped up in respect. I feel love for Phil because I honestly, really do respect the man. A lot.

Yes, he’s a good man. And yes, he’s good to me. But the real reason I respect him is because of the way he leads his family on a firm Biblical basis to follow Jesus with wisdom and passion.

If you’re married, bring your man. Please. This is not a seminar simply for mothers. It is a chance for men to see what spiritual leadership looks like and sounds like and is in everyday life.

If you’re not married, bring yourself. This is a chance for you to get a whiff of what you really want. For you to see what spiritual leaderships looks like and sounds like and is in every day life.

And it’s a lot more than wrestling with the kids…

From my heart,


PS: sign up by going to the website And let me know if you’re coming!


Dear girls,

Sometimes God gives us a task that is just too big for us. It starts, most often, as an idea. A spark.

Wouldn’t it be amazing if…

And somehow that tiny spark starts to light us up. We glow when we think about it. The idea warms us. We find ourselves wanting to flame it into something tangible and real.

We dream.

Someday I’d like to…

As the dream grows and takes shape we who walk and talk with, and listen to Jesus are in constant conversation with Him about this idea. He is, we believe, the One who sparked the vision in the first place.

Lord, is this from You? Might it be Your prompting? Are You behind this dream?

That’s when we let others take a peek. Tentatively, protectively, we share the dream. Or part of the dream. At least the part that doesn’t involve us.

Somebody really ought to…

We hope our closest people will jump up and down and tell us they’re with us. That they’ll point out that we’re capable. That they’ll give us the courage to go for it.

You were made for this moment… I can see it….

That rarely happens.

Usually, people who love us caution us.

What if? You know that time you? Be careful? Have you thought of?

And the dream falters. Those doubts and fears and insecurities we’ve ignored like buzzing flies land on our skin and burrow deep.

Or for some, stubbornness sets in. We set our jaw and feel sorry for ourselves and resent the ones who love us enough to tell us not to try that thing they don’t dream about and wonder why we do.

Why doesn’t she understand? Why does he always have to throw cold water on my ideas?

And sometimes we just let the dream die right then and there. It was ours for a moment but now its not. We go on with what we’re supposed to do but the spark is gone from the day-to-day. The burdens we carry seem a little more burdensome. The boring must-do’s a little more wearying.

The next time that sparks tries to ignite way back wherever it is that dreams are born, we snuff it out. Immediately. No use dreaming. That’s for other people, not for ordinary, less-than-amazing people like us.

Our dreams, we’ve been told, are selfish.

What about the kids? The house? The future?

And as we grow older, that daring, adventurous, BIG part of our soul just shrivels up and dies. We’re not heroes-in-the-making anymore.

We drudge. We crank. We grumble.

And that, my dear girls, is what happens when we squelch the dreams of those we love.

When we caution our man about all the things that could go wrong…

When we insist we know it’s not for him or for us or for our future together…

When we point out the obvious— that nobody dreams that big except the somebodies.

And we don’t let him be a somebody because… well, I don’t really know why.

When my wants clash with his dreams and I get squeamish maybe its just because I’m afraid. And maybe instead of trying to talk him out of it I should just trust him.

Or maybe not. Maybe I can’t trust him because I think he’s selfish and foolish and just wrong. Maybe that idea is just no good. Or no good for me. Or for the children we have or might have someday.

But what if we decided to trust God?

To say Yes.

To dare to let him dream and maybe even fail.

And then be there to tell him he’s not a failure, but a man brave enough to dream and you love that about him.

And then to pick up the pieces and let him dream again because you really do.

You respect a man who dreams and does because dreaming and then doing that dream is heroic.

And rare.

And worthy.

Girls, I think it’s time we dare to let our men dream.

It’s time to let him know we’ve got his back even when we’re scared. That it’s okay if it doesn’t work out because we’ll still be there to let him dream again.

I think it’s time that we realize that He’s Not Your Prince Charming but he is a man with a need to dream. And if we’re the ones to squelch the dream he’ll never get to be that knight in shining armor he needs to be.

And if you think so too, I’d urge you to read Sarah’s story. It’s found in Genesis, chapter 12. Her husband had a dream and she chose to follow it with him through all the messes he made in the process. She risked, she endured, she laughed and she cried and she lost and she gained.

And she learned to trust God even when her husband failed.

I think it’s time we choose to be like Sarah. 

From my heart,


PS: Sarah made some not-so-nice mistakes in the process of trying and so do we. But we can give each other courage by telling our stories- both good and bad. Would you tell us yours?


Dear girls, I sit by the side of the sea as I write these words this morning. Right outside my window stretches miles and miles of empty Oregon coast. Wild and inviting, desolate and breathtakingly beautiful.

I’m here with five friends. Women who’ve adopted me as sisters, taken me into their hearts and allowed me to be who I am without apology.

A rare gift— beauty inside and beauty out.

But before I go off and play for the day, I have a few more words about forgiveness that just won’t leave me alone. Words I’ve needed time and time again.

Words I need today.

Words I’ll need tomorrow too.

The words rolled off the pen of Paul as he paced his dank and lonely prison cell far from home. He’d been wronged— betrayed, wounded, deceived. Yet there he sat, using his last hours to scribble down every bit of wisdom that came to his heart for a group of people he loved.

Dear friends,

Never avenge yourselves. Leave that to God.

For it is written, 

“I will take vengeance; I will repay those who deserve it, says the LORD.” 

Instead, do what the Scriptures say:

“If your enemies are hungry, feed them.

If they are thirsty, give them something to drink,

And they will be ashamed of what they have done to you.”

Don’t let evil get the best of you ,but conquer evil by doing good.

Romans 12:17-21

And as I sit by the window overlooking the great heaving ocean, once again I remember my own need to forgive.


Because just yesterday an old wound got bumped and it still hurts a little today. And I find myself all grumbly and resentful and entitled and crotchety.


Here I am, ready for a day of delightful play with the best friends I’ve ever had in one of the most beautiful spots in the world… remembering and resenting.

And just as I was confessing this to the Father, I glanced outside. My eyes landed on something bobbing in the waves. I leaned forward to look. What is that?

My breath caught— a body? It was just about the right length… I leaned closer, watching. Oh! Just a log caught in the current… phew!

And that, my dear girls, is right when I heard His voice speaking just what I needed. Reminding me of a time long ago when I sat across from my mentor, Muriel Cook, and she told me a story. A story I want to pass on to you in the hopes that you will remember when the resentment keeps coming back to steal away your joy.

Forgiveness, Muriel explained to me, is like one of those huge driftwood logs that lie on the sands of the Oregon coast. You’ve done the hard work of forgiving, you’ve given it all over to God, and you’re resting just fine.

Then comes a wild Pacific storm. Or sometimes it’s just a high tide. And the currents catch hold of that load of driftwood log and pull it back into the sea. It floats and rolls (and looks eerily like a dead body to a woman with too much imagination for her own good). 

And you feel like you haven’t really forgiven so well after all.

Isn’t that just how I feel this morning? Like maybe I haven’t forgiven, not really. Like I’m being tossed around again.

But then Muriel, in her ever-practical wisdom told me more.

You’ve just got to go out there and push that log back out to sea. And if it insists on rolling back in again, push it harder. Push it again. And again.

Because eventually, if you’ll just keep at it, that log will catch a current and be carried so far out to sea that you’ll never see it again. It will disappear into the vast ocean and you’ll barely remember what worried you so much for so long.

And you know what, girls, it works!

Whether the offense is one of those petty pinches that stings more than anything else, or a really big one that bruises and beats up your soul. If you push hard enough and long enough, it will eventually leave you alone.

The vast sea of God’s grace will just swallow it up so it cannot hurt you ever again.

And so here I sit, pushing my invisible log back out. Relieved to be rid of it. Again. Remembering what to do if it drifts back. Again.

And ready to spend the rest of the day free to embrace the beauty of this place and these people I love.

From my heart,


PS: Have you been confused by something you’d thought you’d forgiven but still feel resentment over? Can you tell us how you finally escaped it’s hold? Have you found a way to let go? Your stories are such an encouragement to all of us who want this way of the Cross.





Dear girls, When my youngest son, Matt was just a little boy, he’d wake up every morning asking, “Where is everybody?” With three older siblings, he couldn’t get his head around a day of not knowing exactly what each person in his family was up to and why they weren’t all right there, one big bunch of playmates.

By the time he was four and speaking in that adorable way of precocious toddlers, he’d assigned himself the role of Keeper of the Peace in our family of less-than-peace-loving teenagers. Matt spent his mornings riding along in the carpool van, negotiating treaties of niceness between sleep deprived, hormonal sisters and a dominating, driven older brother. He just couldn’t understand what all those frowning faces were about.

As little Matt-man refereed in the backseat, he’d use this one phrase to punctuate his point:


Which, translated into real talk means, Don’t be mean!

Matt’s injunction worked like magic. Everyone would stop arguing and start laughing uproariously. How can anyone quibble in the face of such fierce cuteness? And Matt was just confident enough to believe that it was his command that had wrought instant peace. He’d grin and laugh and delight in his power to unite his squabbling siblings.

And so, my dear girls, as you go about your day encountering difficult husbands/boyfriends/brothers/friends I’d like to admonish you,


Instead, cultivate a spirit of friendliness. Be nice. Refuse to get caught up in being right. Manage conflict with grace and kindness. Stop poking. Do good to the man in your life, whether you’re 15 or 55.

In Titus, chapter two, older women (that’s me!) are admonished to, “urge the younger women to love their husbands…” Seems kind of benign, doesn’t it? Of course women are to love their husbands. But dig just a tad deeper. The nuanced meaning of the word translated love here is “friendly” (phileo in Greek). God is moving Paul’s pen to write to the young pastor, Titus, to tell the women to…

Be friendly to your husbands.

And girls, after more than 35 years of doing ministry alongside my pastor-husband, of watching marriages fail and families fall apart, I’d like to give everyone of you the same word of advice:

Be friendly to your husbands!

How hard can that be?

Well, harder than it sounds because the number one complaint I hear from husbands and sons and older brothers and trying-but-not-happy boyfriends is this: women are mean.

And here’s the funny thing, (I warned you this would be a rambling sort of conversation) the number one reason according to Dr. Emmerson Eggerichs, a leading authority on marriage, that men give as to why they chose their particular wife is this:

Because she likes me.

Yep, profound isn’t it?

A man marries a woman, first and foremost, because she likes him.

Not because he likes her (though obviously that’s in there too), not because she’s sexy and alluring (though obviously that’s high on the list), not because she’s all the things he thinks she is… but because something inside of him recognizes this thing he longs for: to be liked.  Really, genuinely, consistently, always liked.

So, what does that look like outside of statistics and psychological studies? How does a woman be friendly in real life? I'll give you my take on what that looks like, then I'm hoping you'll give us yours...

How To “Like” A Man:

  1. Be affectionate- Rub his shoulders, scratch his back, touch him when you’re talking. Greet him with a hug when he comes in the door. Say good-bye with a kiss. Or, if he’s wired so tight that touch translates as annoying, use words. Those fond words of affection every man craves. Whatever you do, make sure the affection is about him, not about you.
  2. Be sexually inviting- Once you are married, sexual invitation means “I like you” to a man. Of course it does! They know instinctively that we don’t want them when we’re mad or irritated or annoyed. Our very wanting is a relief to a man’s inward worry that we don’t like them.
  3. Be fun- Be his best companion. Laugh at his attempts to add a twist of humor to your conversation. Watch ESPN next to him.  Be enthusiastic. Vacation the way he likes- save your shopping and museum wandering for another day (I'm talking to myself here!). Agree. Be agreeable. Say yes. Recognize his need to play. Join him. Or go along and watch with all the enthusiasm of a fan.
  4. Flirt a little- Flirt a lot. Flirt until you're old and wrinkled and grey. Flirt with only him.
  5. Be nice- Say nice things, do nice things. Rearrange that perpetual mama-scowl into a welcoming softness. Don’t roll your eyes or make those “humpfing” sounds of disapproval. Assume innocence.
  6. Talk nice- Tell him how much you like him and why. Tell him you admire him and then leave the room. When he follows you out like a puppy dog, leave him a list that sounds heroic. Mean it.

Girls, I’m just getting started. This is how we “phileo” our husbands. (No, that’s not “fillet”!)

There is no better way to love your man than to like him. Our men are hurting for lack of liking.

And for those of you not yet married, every man in your life needs, wants, craves this kind of liking. A woman who is good at liking will never lack great men friends and boyfriends and offers… just sayin’.

I love you, girls…

From my heart,


PS: Okay, let’s add to my list. Can you give us ways to communicate “like” to the men in our lives?

And if a man or two or more is reading this, would you contribute? Go ahead and use Mr. Anonymous as your name if you want. We women need to understand this better.

HE'S NOT YOUR PRINCE CHARMING: how to let go of all those hurts

Then I realized that my heart was bitter,

and I was all torn up inside. 

…Yet I still belong to You; You hold my right hand. 

You guide me with Your counsel,

leading me to a glorious destiny.

…I desire You more than anything on earth.

My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak,

but God remains the strength of my heart;

He is mine forever.

…How good it is to be near God!

I have made the Sovereign Lord my shelter,

and I will tell everyone about the wonderful things You do.

Psalm 73:21-28


Dear girls,


Even the word makes me shudder. A bitter woman is pinched and dry and frazzled. Pursed lips, tensed shoulders, dull eyes. She is defeated and defeating.

Picture Cruelle D’Ville.  The Wicked Witch of the West. Cinderella’s step-sisters.

Were they just born that way? Negative and critical and waiting to pounce?

Or did someone hurt them deeply, slashing and wounding and burning up all the womanly gentleness God included in their original design?

Or maybe she did it to herself. Maybe a bitter woman makes choices about how she will handle the wounds that every living, breathing woman receives from real life. Not realizing where it’s leading, she harbors resentment, wrapping herself in prickliness to protect herself from being hurt again- ever.

We waddle around like porcupines and then wonder why nobody loves us.

And maybe we all do that— at least a little— for sure in marriage. We respond to those bumps and bruises with self-protective push back: You hurt me, I hurt you back.

Before we know it, bitterness sets in, blinding us to our own meanness. We end up edgy, just a little bit harsh, impatient with the once-again lapses our husbands (or children, or roommates, or coworkers) are prone to.

I do not want to be like that— and you don’t either. Yet just writing those words hints at my own intimate familiarity with the symptoms of a bitter, unforgiving, self-protective spirit. I know what I’m talking about here and so do you.

And here’s what I’ve seen in my own life:

When I’m holding onto resentment against anybody, I take it out on those closest to me. 

My husband, my children, even my dog! One small mistake and off I go, intolerant and ungraceful, fully justifying that nasty edge to my voice while fiercely defending my self-righteous position.

The answer to what ails us is all too obvious. The hard part is the doing. And maybe the recognizing that it needs doing… the cure for bitterness is forgiveness.

And sometimes that’s hard for us to swallow. Because we think that if that person would only stop hurting us, stop disappointing us, start doing right and well and good and what we want and need… then I won’t be bitter anymore.

Only it doesn’t work that way.


Because bitterness has to do with us, not them.

Here’s the real truth:

Bitterness is caused, not by someone else’s wrong treatment of me, but of my own wrong response to their wrong treatment of me.

Can’t you see and hear and sense this truth in Asah’s song?  He’s just tasted the bile of his own bitterness. Instead of blaming the bad guy, Asah realizes that the only hope for release from what ails him is found in God. Specifically, in focusing his gaze on God. “You hold… You guide… You lead…” He is finding that while people fail him, God never does. “He is mine forever”.

And as Asah revels in worship of God’s unfailing care, the angst and anxiety begins to loosen. Instead of having to keep up his guard, he finds a place of safety outside of himself— in God. And then, to his own amazement, he can’t wait to tell the very ones who hurt him all about this One who never does and never will.

How did he do that? How can I?

Before we explore further, this mystery no one but the fully forgiven can ever hope to understand, I think we need to take an honest look at our inner lives. We need to stop denying our own ugliness in order to allow the healing Spirit of God to root out any hint of bitterness that may be crowding out our ability to respond to Him.

Here, my dear girls, are…

Six Symptoms of Bitterness:[1] 

  • A strong negative feeling towards someone
  • Uncommon anger
  • Overwhelming fear
  • Emotional outbursts such as ugly comments, unexplained tears, or yelling
  • Feeling resentment toward someone
  • Constant turmoil in your heart

Can you see any of these symptoms popping up in your daily life? When your husband is less than Prince Charming? When PMS makes you crazy? When that slow line at the check out counter makes you late?

Job echoed what many of have experienced:

“My bitter soul must complain.”

Job 10:1

Could a deeply hidden resentment towards someone in your past be causing all that grumbling at everybody and anybody you’ve fallen into?

Because your marriage will never be free and overflowing with love and laughter as long as you’ve got forgiveness work towards anybody left undone.

And your friendships will never last long while bitterness fuels continual bouts of complaining.

And your children will have a hard time understanding the grace and mercy of God as long as they see that bitter, edgy, constantly-correcting paradigm of righteous annoyance that pops up during conflict.

Might this just be the right time to be honest enough with ourselves to dig a little deeper? To ask God…

Search me, O God, and know my heart;

Try me and know my anxious thoughts;

And see if there be any hurtful way in me,

And lead me in the everlasting way.

Psalm 139:22,23


I’ll be praying for you, my girls, this week as you ponder those hidden away places to see if there is someone, anyone, you need to forgive. And I’ll be searching my own heart too.

Next week I’ll give you a quick recap on what forgiveness really is— as well as what it isn’t.

But just as a heads up, there is a difference between fully forgiving someone who has wronged and hurt you and fully reconciling with someone who is unrepentant and thus not safe for relationship.

From my heart,


P.S. What have you learned about bitterness?  Are there more symptoms you’ve seen in your own life or someone close to you? And do you think men express their bitterness differently than women do?

You know I love to hear from you. Your thoughts continually deepen what I have to say.

[1] Taken from Muriel Cook’s excellent book, Kitchen Table Counseling. If you don’t own this book, I highly recommend it.


Dear girls,

 In this series we’ve entitled, He’s Not Your Prince Charming, we have been talking about two main themes:

  1. That only Jesus can and will satisfy your deep and ongoing need to be fully loved and satisfied.
  2. That He, in return, asks you to pour that love of His onto your husband relationally, sexually, emotionally, and spiritually.

All this talk, as of late, about loving our men sexually has brought up a whole lot of reasons why that is not always easy. The sheer vulnerability, which open, unfettered sexual expression presupposes, requires so much from a woman. Trust, acceptance, respect, affection, and an effort to give ourselves to a man who is not always what we wish he’d be.

But there is another element of this kind of husband-loving and what impedes us that keeps coming up in your emails and comments and messages to me.


Your need to forgive him for the hurts he has caused… and your need to forgive yourself for your past failures.

And so, for the next couple of weeks I plan to address these issues because I think its time we all moved past the resentment that makes us crabby and cranky and cold to our men.

And because this is a conversation and I’m sitting outside a coffee shop with a lovely, foamy cappuccino by my side while we “talk”, I need to prepare you for the messiness of these kinds of dialogues. We are women, after all, and hold a certain right to go off on rabbit trails to topics we deem relevant to whatever it is we’re trying to say. Just sayin’.

For today though, I’ll simply tell you a story…

Once upon a time there was a beautiful princess. (Isn’t that just the best way to start any story?)

This princess had everything she needed. Castles and riches and luxury and freedom to become more and more beautiful every day. Her future stretched out before her in one long litany of hope.

Her life would be good, great. She would live forever in this place of continual delight and hope.

This princess was an exceedingly generous person. Every day she doled out gifts to her servants, sprinkling fairy dust doses of good will and help to everyone she encountered. 

One day she discovered that her most trusted manager had been swindling her. Millions of dollars were missing and the evidence pointed unequivocally to this man. She was shocked. Angry. Hurt. Feelings of betrayal and unbelief swept over her. She had trusted him, believed in him, been generous with him.

The man was promptly brought to justice, cast from her presence and imprisoned in the darkest dungeon. Perhaps if she never had to see him again, she would come free of the terrible pain he had caused her by his disloyalty.

Then one day, she received an urgent message. “Please, please, forgive me for my terrible folly,” the man wrote with shaky hand. “I cannot live in this place a moment longer, have mercy on me— I promise I will repay you every penny!”

After much soul searching, the princess agreed to set him free from that dark place of shame, knowing there was no possible way he could ever repay her for the harm he’d done. Out of the generosity of her heart, she chose to forgive the man and release him from the debt he owed.

That very day, the prisoner was set free.  Breathing deeply of the fresh air, soaking in the sunshine, he danced for the joy of his unexpected, undeserved freedom. He’d been given a second chance and he was determined to succeed. 

Coming down the walkway toward him, he spotted a lowly messenger boy he’d once lent a little bit of money. “Ah ha!” he murmured, “Here’s my ticket to a new start.”

Taking the surprised boy by the neck, he shook him hard. “You owe me money! Give it now, this instant! Or I will have you thrown in the debtor’s prison where you will rot until you pay me back.”

As happens in a small kingdom like the one she ruled, word of this encounter soon got back to the princess. Her heart fell, grief welling once again to the surface.

How could he, forgiven of so much, fail to forgive so small a debt?

Justice for the man’s terrible injustice required that the princess revoke the man’s pardon immediately. She sent him back to the darkness where he would wallow alone in his own bitterness.

(You can read the real story, told by Jesus to his crabby and competing and conflict riddled disciples in Matthew 18)

Every time I read that story I realize again how much forgiving real-life love requires.

All those bumps and bruises that happen as we figure out how to do life together.

All the disappointments when one of us isn’t there for the other in the way we need.

All those loose words that come rushing out of hidden places, cutting and saying and hurting deep.

Each hurt must be looked at honestly and forgiven thoroughly or else we end up stuffing our insides full of hostility.

The only possible way to forgive every one of those hurts is to fully embrace the forgiveness offered by Jesus and then to choose with a heroic act of our will to forgive for His sake.

Make believe doesn’t work here girls. You can’t pretend he didn’t mean it or it doesn’t hurt or you’re not mad. That’s just stuffing it and as we all know, that ugliness has a way of either seeping out of our pours or blowing up in our faces.

And making excuses isn’t effective in the long run. He’s tired, pressured, stressed… but that can only go on for so long and then what?

A bitter, hardened attitude can set in when there’s always a reason for his bad mood or his failure to love well once again.

Neither does it work to choke him until he “gets it” and turns into a charming prince full of golden words and deeds all for you. Correcting and reminding and calling him on every slip will turn you into a nagging crab in no time.

Only forgiveness heals the hurt. Daily, weekly, hourly, moment-by-moment forgiving the man for being so unfailingly human.  That’s what God gives you and me. And that’s what He asks us in turn to give our men.

If you want to have a really great friendship with this man for years and decades until “death do us part”, you’re going to have to learn the art of forgiving and giving grace.

Next week I’ll be giving you some treasures from my long time mentor, Muriel Cook. This is a woman who shines with love for her husband, Norm. For now, I’ll just leave you with a snatch of her wisdom to think about this week:

“I’ve learned that a lack of forgiveness is the root of most problems. In almost every problem situation, after peeling off the layers of grief and distress, I find a wounded spirit or an unresolved resentment. Usually, it is the result of a hurt that hasn’t been dealt with or a pain that hasn’t been relinquished to God.” From Kitchen Table Counseling by Muriel Cook

From a heart still learning,


P.S. Do you have any questions about forgiveness that you’d like me to address? Or wisdom that works in this messy process of becoming a forgiving woman? Not the theory, so much, as the practical reality? We’re all needing whatever words you can give. Thank you!




Dear girls, Many years ago, God did a deep carving in my heart. He met me in a place of soul-churning anger and ugliness and despair. I was loosing my hearing and terrified of what my future might look like.

Just a few months before the real trial began, I had prayed earnestly that He would lead me to a place of satisfaction. I was a mom with 3 small children, a godly husband, a beautiful home— everything I’d ever wanted— and I wasn’t happy.

I didn’t know then what I know now— that rest and peace and real happiness are not found in a way of life. That only when I live curled up close to the Father’s heart, hid deep in Him, lost in the wonder of who He is and how He loves even me— only then am I satisfied.

In this series we’ve called He’s Not Your Prince Charming, I’ve been trying to paint a picture of a life of letting go of the things you think will make you happy— namely, that man who is supposed to ride into your life on a white steed and sweep you off your feet so that you will be happy forever— and grasp hold of the One who will.

And you’ve been listening, longing for more of Him.

I hear it in your comments and cries over relationships that aren’t what you wish them to be. In your uncomfortable attempts to settle into a skin that doesn’t fit.

I read the wonder as you begin to understand, to hold on tight to your real Lover.

For months now, my daughter, Elizabeth, and I have been talking about her own  uncomfortableness. I’ve rambled on and on and prayed and listened and hoped… because words from mom are not enough to settle the longing inside.

My story is mine and her story is hers and sometimes I can’t say what I mean in a way even my own girl can understand… you know what I mean?

But He can. The One who calls Himself the Word, He spoke words to my daughter’s unrest a few mornings ago and she sent those words to me. And she’s so filled with hope and joy at what He said that she’s allowed me to pass it on to you.

May the One who is your Prince Charming speak to you through Elizabeth today…


Dissatisfied— the emotion that has made it’s way deep into my life and is pulsing through my veins.

I am slowly dying, drowning in a sea of not enough, not good enough, not perfect enough. Grasping at every quick fix possible to fill my lungs with one more breath.

A clean home… only to be marked by toddler fingers and little boy shoes.

A new outfit to make me feel pretty… only until I venture out again and my eyes see something better.

An experience… only be found empty when it doesn’t fill my lack.

Joy comes and goes like the morning fog; thick for a moment, then quickly lifted and replaced by rain.

How do I move from this running wheel of ups and downs? This silent killer of not enough?

I don’t.

My efforts are temporary at best but my Father’s are forever; for the now and not yet.

He said He is the vine. To grow and thrive and produce fruit, all I have to do is stay connected to the vine. To Him.

Nothing can sever me from that life-giving vine.

No wind.

No rain.

No heat.


No bad day.

No messy house.

No un-answered dream.

The two become one… the vine and the branch. The striving ceases and God’s design is set into motion.

“I am the vine, you are the branches; He who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.” John 15:5

Then the miracle of real life begins.

There is rest.

There is growth.

There is joy.

Joy that is not made by me… like a wind that touches my skin one moment and is gone the next.

Joy that is concrete. Unwavering in the big storms… and the small.

“These things I have spoken to you so that MY joy may be in you, and that YOUR joy may be made full” John 15:11

My joy. That thing I grasp at the clouds for until my fists can clench no more. That feeling I try to manufacture with all the tools I know… and am still found lacking.

It can be made FULL!

His joy in me makes my joy full.

No more searching. No more self helps. No more band-aids of temporary relief.

The real thing.




I choose His way today. And tomorrow and the next.

My joy is no longer missing— He has been found.

From a joy filled heart,


HE'S NOT YOUR PRINCE CHARMING: marriage is lonely

Dear girls,  Right now I am sitting in a coffee shop connected to a church in Santa Cruz, California. Phil and I taught our Intentional: raising passionate Jesus followers seminar at Vintage Faith Church this weekend and then Phil preached for their 3 gatherings on Sunday. Tomorrow we’ll hop in the car and start the long drive home. I’ve been away for more than 3 weeks (!) spending time with family and getting refreshed.  It’s been a wonderful break but now I’m itching to get home and share with you all I’ve heard in my hours of quiet.

Ally Vesterfelt has graciously agreed to write this week’s post. I’ve known Ally since she was a little girl and have loved watching her grow into a uniquely gifted woman with a message. What she shares here about the reality of loneliness even in marriage is something all of us can relate to. Her honesty allows us once again to realize that He’s Not Your Prince Charming, propelling us to purposely cultivate our relationship with the One who is.

I love you girls! Back next week…

From my heart,


When I was twenty and single, the one thing I knew for sure about marriage was that, when I got married, I wouldn't be lonely.

The funny thing was, the older I got, the less lonely being single seemed. I had a dozen friends and an active social life. We were always dreaming and scheming up something — keeping ourselves busy with careers and trips and spontaneous rendezvous for happy hour. We would cry with each other and call each other at two in the morning sometimes and, before we knew it, we became like family.

We weren't husbands and wives, but we were men and women, doing life together, getting in-your-mess and in-your-face and learning to how to love until it hurt.

It was a really beautiful disaster most of the time, but we had built it. It was ours.

Of course, there were moments the loneliness would sink in.

I would be at a friend's wedding, watching her walk down the aisle (or watching him wait for his bride) and I would think about how things would never be the same again. Not that it was a bad thing. This was how it should be. Marriage changed things. I didn't really know how it did, I just knew it did.

In the moments single life seemed lonely, at least I had my family.

My parents didn't always agree with everything I thought or said or did, but by the time I was in my late twenties, I had hit a groove with them — a really lovely groove where we told each other things, and they wouldn't tell me what to do no matter how many times I begged them, but would always listen and hug me and tell me everything was going to be alright.

And my sister and brother, despite being different from me in many ways, shared comforting similarities like a the shape of my nose and color of my eyes, not to mention the inside jokes and a mutual understanding about how and when and how not to push each others buttons.You learn to function together in family. Even when your "function" is rather "dysfunctional" it is comforting.

Because you've built it, together.

Then, I met my husband, and we got married. And something very strange happened.

I lost all of that.

I gained something too, but I couldn't see what I gained without first recognizing what I lost.

I lost my friends.

In part this was the nature of our transition (we moved across the country) and in part it was because it's really difficult to merge two systems together — his system of friends, my system of friends. Each operated differently with its own unique rules and regulations, its own sensibilities about what is important, what is acceptable, and what is not.

And as much as I swore I would never be the kind of friend who stopped being a friend just because I got married — I found myself doing it. Because friendship is built on common ground and I wasn't sure what ground I was on anymore. I was building something new now, and I wasn't sure how it all fit together.

I lost my family.

Not "lost" as in gone forever, but lost as in temporarily lost my footing, lost my sensibilities about what it looked like to be a sister or a daughter or a daughter-in-law now that I was married. Who was I supposed to go to when I had a problem? Who's side was I supposed to take when no one saw eye-to-eye?

It's hard to merge two families when you're trying to build your own.

So the first year of marriage felt lonely to me, not because my husband wasn't my friend, or because he didn't love me, or because I didn't love him, but because building is hard. And because we were starting from the bottom, and because I was building with someone who I had only known, and who had only known me, for a couple of months.

We're learning, more slowly than we'd like sometimes, what it looks like to bring pieces of me, and pieces of him, into this our thing we're building together.

This thing that is all ours.

We're learning that when one of us gets sick, or has a bad day, or gets their feelings hurt, there is only the other, cleaning up the mess or doing the dishes or digging deep or soothing bruised egos. After all, if we don't do it, no one else will.

No one else will build this for us.

We're learning that if we want something that suits us, that's big enough for both of us, for my values, and for his, big enough for both of our separate pasts, our separate friends, our separate families, or separate ideals — we have to build it. If we want a system that is functional and comfortable, and fits us, like a good pair of jeans, we have make it.

We can't get everything we want, all of the time.

But we're building something.

And the longer we're married, the less lonely it gets. We find our footing and invite people in and watch each other weave in and out of old and new seasons. And when I think about it, this isn't that different from before I was married. Anytime we're building, we're making difficult decisions, about what to keep and what to leave behind. And we're all responsible for what we're creating...

And when it seems most difficult is when we're making the most progress.

Are you married or single? Are you lonely?




Dear girls,

This morning I sit on the deck of my parent's home high in the Sierra's. It is beautiful here, so peaceful. Last week this place was brimming with Comers- 15 of us in all was we gathered to just enjoy being a family. What fun we had! And so many memories... Now I am relishing some rare time alone to write and ponder and read.

I've asked my friend, Danita Newell, to explain to us how she has cultivated her unique and enviable friendship with her husband, Todd. I've watched them now, for more than a decade- and what I see is friendship. Lots of laughter, Instagrams of road trips, Friday breakfasts out and about Portland, and a family that laughs a lot! You'll want to listen well here, girls, whether you're married or hope to be someday. This is what we all want and Danita is full of practiced wisdom about how to get there.

From my heart,



For better, for worse – for richer, for poorer – in sickness and in health.

We’ve all heard these words spoken at various weddings over the years.  But do you ever wonder if the bride and groom are hearing what is really being said?  After all, they are the “stars of the show,” the “main characters,” the “cake topper look alikes.”  Could it be they are distracted by their audience? The paparazzi? Or even their very own stage presence?  Maybe all they hear is... for better, for richer, in health.

Marriage is so much more than the fairy tale ending we dream of.

Actually the only perfect ending is a NEVER ending in eternity spent with the ultimate groom, Jesus Christ.  That is for those who believe in Him……”For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).  We give up our old ways to live as a new creation…..”If any man/woman be in Christ, he/she is a new creature. Old things are passed away. All things have become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

In relationships, including marriage, we take the ups with the downs.  Friendships often start with a common ground – attending the same school, enjoying similar movies, laughing at the same thing even at the same time.  These were the small things that later came to matter in my marriage.  After 32 years of marriage, I’ve come to realize the value of friendship and the strength that comes with marrying your best friend.

You might ask, what does marrying your best friend look like?  It is the constant effort toward putting their needs above your own.  It is working together to solve problems, making decisions together, not giving up, willingness to do whatever it take to NOT repeat mistakes, having fun together, talking regularly, going places together, forgiving one another and moving forward.  Marriage should look like friendship.

My husband and I met at college.  We never knew the other existed until we were 19 years old.  A mutual friend introduced us and wanted us to play in his band.  We both loved music.  I played the piano, he played the trumpet.  This was the beginning of our common ground.  Since we both had different career paths, we never had classes together.  Therefore, band practice turned into a weekly rendezvous.

As friends, we enjoyed our time together.  We talked and talked and discovered we both laughed at the same things.  We began to watch for each other in the auditorium at the weekly chapel gatherings.  This became another common ground in our relationship…..the importance of our faith.  When you spend time with your friends you learn who you are and what is most important to you.  This was a strong friendship that was becoming more focused on the  potential of a lifetime together.

If you are not married but hope to be one day, I would encourage you to take the time to develop a friendship before romance.  Allow yourself to get to know someone in all area while you are getting know who YOU are when you are with them.

Those of you who are married and feeling you’ve lost that friendship, or maybe never had it to begin with, it is not too late.

There is a familiar saying that mom’s repeat to their young children….”to have a friend you have to be a friend.”

There is truth to that.  Are you treating your husband like you would your friends?  Do you look forward to spending time with him? Do you get yourself “ready” to go out with him?  Do you talk with him, get excited to hear his stories about his day?  Are you able to be real, to cry, to laugh, to admit your failures?

If not, then it is time to start.

I have the privilege of partnering with my husband in ministry in pre marital and marital counseling.  We have had training in biblical counseling and cling to the truth spoken in 2 Timothy 3:16 & 17…..”All scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.”  In our hours spent with couples we repeatedly counsel the importance of spending time together.  What does that look like practically?

Eat together without watching television, go to bed at the same time, talk to each other regularly, take vacation together.  Learn from each other about each other.  We see couples drift apart and realize the friendship aspect of their marriage has become secondary.  They love each other but don’t like each other.  We need to guard that. Protect that. Ensure it won’t happen.  Then purposefully put forth effort in becoming friends and maintaining that friendship.

It is with words of encouragement that I remind you your hope of becoming the friend you need to be lies in your relationship with Jesus Christ.  He has given us a helper, the Holy Spirit, who empowers us to do what we are called to do and that is to live a life that is pleasing to God.

“Without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.”  (Hebrews 11:6)

Your friend,



HE'S NOT YOUR PRINCE CHARMING: he's not my everything

On this Monday in mid-August I am relishing time with my family in the mountains of California. We’ve gathered our growing family— fifteen of us now— in a rare moment to focus just on each other. Allison, a member of the team that creates this blog, agreed to write this week’s post Her story is as unusual as her life: occasionally glamorous and exciting, often times lonely, rarely what she’d planned. She is learning, along with all of us, what it means to put her hope wholly in God.

From My Heart,



I sit here across from a handsome tattooed man at our hand-me-down dining table, and am faced with the task of trying to sum up the millions of life lessons I've already learned since saying, "I do."

Where do I begin?

How can I possibly begin to explain to you how this gentle yet rugged man can melt me with a few guitar chords and his raspy voice?

Will I be able to explain to you how my heart sinks every time we pull up to the airport?

Or how my butterflies flare up every time I return to pick him up outside of baggage claim?

How week after week of saying goodbye never gets easier, and how each time he returns from a trip I am equally as nervous and excited to see him as I was the last time. Is it possible to sum up the stretching that took place as I moved across the country with this man?

Can I properly portray our odd lifestyle in just one short blog?

Well... here goes nothin'...

Making the decision to marry Nick was the easy part. There was not a doubt in my mind I was ready to marry this man. It was the calling that came with being his wife that held some weighty requirements. He had been preparing the field, tilling the grounds of his music career in Nasvhille, TN for three years, and upon saying our vows, I promised to join him in making our home there as a couple.

Leaving all I'd ever known behind in Portland, I climbed shakily into that ten foot Budget truck heading east 2300 miles to my new home. I remember looking in the side mirror as my family waved goodbye, running through my list of fears and what if's. Then looking to my left at my steady driver, I took a deep breath and smiled. God had called me to this life, and I was ready for it to begin.

We arrived in the southern June humidity, unloaded our truck, and then Nick left straight to the studio to record their new album. He's part of a Christian rock band called Kutless, and our honeymoon had just clipped into their studio time. It was "hello new town, new house, new friends," and "bye bye husband!" Not forever, but definitely often. While learning how to live with my new roommate, I was also having to say goodbye to him every few days for days and weeks at a time.

Our foundation for communication was built on choppy cell service, busy dressing rooms, and sorting through disagreements in the back of a crowded tour bus. With no guarantees of finishing conversations, we very quickly learned that relying on "ideal conditions" was never going to be an option for our marriage's success. Every band wife would agree that the following feaux gospel quote is most true: "Blessed are the flexible, for they shall not break."

My most remembered application of this quote happened this past November, when Nick and I decided to move back to Portland. The month had a daunting tour schedule, leaving me to pack a bulk of the house alone and complete any finishing touches on our home before heading west. As expected, I became overwhelmed with anxiety both physically and mentally. My to do list's were a mile long, and all the while I was left missing my husband. With Nick in Norway nine hours ahead of me, our communication was minimal. I felt like I was being choked, and thought (foolishly) that I wouldn't be able to survive that week without Nick. Boy, what a dangerous place I had come to. It was then that I realized the place of idolship I had placed Nick in. His absence that week felt like devesation, but God was using it to help me to lean more heavily on Him, the One who holds ALL things together.

I spent that week pouring my heart out to Jesus, and was delightfully enveloped and filled with love and the strength I needed for that week of packing. Nick was no where in sight, and I MADE IT! Would the packing have been easier with him there? Absolutely! However, I would have never learned that valuable life lesson of trust and sufficiency in God alone.

I am so grateful.

For me it's taken having a husband who is away two thirds of the year to realize my need to depend solely on Jesus for my joy and strength.

Maybe for some of you single girls, it's been the challenge of simply being single that's urged you into romance with your Maker.

For the mamas up nursing in the middle of the night, it's Jesus who's there calming your weary heart.

For the widow, or divorcee, it's the hurts and loss that brings you to Jesus' feet.

Our life is anything but ordinary, but after two years, I feel like I've learned to love it. It has taught me so much about myself and my relationship with God. Things I would have never learned otherwise. I've learned that we live in a world of uncertain circumstances. Things to wait for, people to miss, hearts that break, worries to combat, but the truth that rings through to our weary souls is that God is, and always will be sufficient for us.

He is the only answer to our trials. The refuge we need to run to first amidst fires and storms.

If I've learned anything in my not-so-normal marriage to this musician husband of mine, it's that he is not the answer to my problems.

God is.

Ladies, I truly believe that what we would define as "lack" in our lives, is actually a space that God wants to fill. I want to challenge you (and myself) to know that no matter what status you hold, married, single, divorced, you are not lacking. When we seek fulfillment from the desires of our flesh, we will always be left wanting (yes, even with a husband), but with Jesus you are FULL, lacking nothing.

Even the most adventorous and exciting life with my husband has had it's challenges, but the times that we soar the most is when Jesus is on the throne of our hearts.

"Seek first the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added unto you." Matthew 6:33


HE'S NOT YOUR PRINCE CHARMING: One More Reason Women Don't Want Sex

Dear girls, A few weeks ago I started a conversation about the reasons women no longer want sex. Then, as woman-talk so often does, we got sidetracked. Off on the bunny trail of why I am still in love with my husband after thirty-five years and that secret key for stressed out mamas and other women who work too hard.

So today we circle back to those 3 Reasons  I hear over and over again from women who finally admit that they’re really not all that enthusiastic about initiating and welcoming intimacy with their husbands.

And for those of you who are not yet married, please pay attention! These are obstacles every woman faces at some point in real life. Decide now that you’re going to overcome those glitches because you place imminent value on a healthy sexual relationship with that man who trusts you to meet his needs.

The first reason for no longer loving sex had to do with disappointment in your lover’s romantic efforts. I urged you to remember that he is not your Prince Charming.

Your husband cannot and will not fulfill that gaping hole of need every woman feels.

And gracefully loving him even when he falls short of your ideal is just the way Jesus loves us. It’s not too great a jump to conclude that…

Choosing to pour sexual love on your husband is an act of grateful, grace-filled response to your Redeemer’s tender love towards you.

The second reason we talked about has to do with circumstances.  Overwhelming fatigue, pressure, the realities of too little sleep and not enough space to breath. Pregnancies and nursing babies and teenagers right down the hall who seem to have sonic ears— not exactly how blockbuster movies portray passion.

That’s when commitment comes in. A woman’s commitment to care about her husband and care for herself even when it’s not easy. The comments and ideas that came in for this post were filled with practical wisdom and delightful dashes of humor.

Today, I want to finish this conversation by talking about the third reason women don't want sex:

“Your body isn’t beautiful like the airbrushed, half starved, breast enhanced women in the movies. You’re so intent on hiding the parts you don’t want him to see that you fail to recognize your own inherent sensuality… You don’t want him to see you unclothed because you’ve lost the freedom your beauty brings. The naked and unashamed of the Garden is long gone.”

Beauty. It all comes back to this, doesn’t it?

In order to feel sexual, we need to feel beautiful.

We know that men respond to a woman’s beauty. But do we fully realize how much a woman responds to a man’s response?

As the wife of a pastor, I’ve had a front row seat to a lot of weddings. During the engagement the bride-to-be gets more and more beautiful. She stops biting her nails in order to show off her ring. Starts an intense exercise program in order to fit into her wedding gown. Goes and gets her make-up done and her hair-style updated. Everything for the Wedding Day.

And indeed, on that day, she is absolutely beautiful. Always.

But my favorite thing to watch is when she comes home from her honeymoon.  That’s when her beauty blossoms. No amount of make-up or money can give anyone that slightly seductive swagger a newly married woman carries off.  She wears a certain sort of grin just won’t go away. Kind of a cat-got-the-mouse look, and with a swish of her tail she let’s all the world know that she’s lovely. Beautiful.

Why? Because that young bride is responding to the response of her enthralled husband. He saw her as she is and he loved what he saw and she knows it!  She feels beautiful because she sees her beauty in her husband’s eyes.

And that, my dear girls, is exactly what each of us needs to recapture if we’re going to fully respond to our husbands. We have got to see our beauty from his eyes.

Don’t judge your beauty by what you see in the mirror. The mirror is not the truth. In the mirror you see only your flaws, not your beauty.

Don’t judge your beauty by the magazines or movies. Those pictures are not the truth. They’re airbrushed and positioned and faking reality. No one looks like that in real life.

Don’t judge your beauty by others. You risk insulting the One who made you by wishing He’d done it different. Psalm 139 says He “formed you in your mother’s womb” and He likes the form He made.

But, you say, I’m not a beauty. I’m plain or plump or flat-chested. My skin is bad, my hair is limp, my eyes are droopy, my legs unshapely. You’re not being modest, you’re being honest. Shouldn’t you just settle for the truth as you see it and ignore beauty? After all, there’s more to being a woman than being beautiful, right?

Here’s the problem with that way of thinking: You and I need to feel beautiful in order to act sexual.

Ugliness and sensuality just don’t work for us. No amount of reasoning about how smart we are or how much we’ve accomplished is going to compel us to actively seduce our waiting husbands. That’s just not the way a woman is wired.

So what to do?

1. Decide in your mind that God made you beautiful. Elohim, the creator-God crafted you uniquely. He is not bound by time or culture. He is undeterred by what color hair or skin or shape of figure is currently in vogue.  He is able to see the way He made you as a reflection of His own creativity. His beauty.

In order to think right, we have got to come to an intelligent agreement with God about how He made us. Our minds inform our emotions. When I decide with my mind that God made me beautiful, I begin to feel beautiful.

2. Uncover the beauty God made in you. Sometimes we have got to peel off layers of ugliness we have allowed to coat our real selves. Unhealthy lifestyles disguise our beauty under the consequences of overeating and under-exercising. Time to get out the Nike’s and breathe in fresh air.

Most often uncovering our own beauty just means we need to pay attention to our good parts.  I once read an interview of make-up maven Bobbi Brown that fascinated me. She has made a fortune on women who don’t like the way they look. Her personal philosophy? Stop trying to cover the parts you don’t like and simply enhance your best features.

3. See yourself through your husband’s craving. Your husband needs to see you. He is not looking for perfection, hasn’t noticed those sunspots or saggy breasts. What he needs from you are glimpses of inviting beauty. Uncover just enough to give him what he needs, then allow yourself to respond to his response.

God made a point of the unashamed nakedness of the first married couple. He noted their ease with each other, their lack of hiding. Sin changed their perspective. Satan is the one who turned Eve’s eyes away from Adam’s response and onto her inadequacies.

It’s time we take back our beauty and own it, girls! It’s time we recapture that sensual swagger that somehow got lost by the lies we’ve come to believe.

It’s time to be beautiful.

From my heart,


PS: Can you tell us about your honeymoon? Did you see that delight in his eyes and feel more beautiful than you'd ever thought possible? Dare you show more of yourself now that your body no longer lives up to those pre-wedding-work-out expectations?

And for those of you whose husbands did not make you feel like the most alluring woman in the world , can I just say I am so sorry. There are men who inadvertently hurt their wives by what they don't say... it might be time to sit down and share your heart with him, letting him know how much you need to feel beautiful in order to respond beautifully.


I am my lover’s,

the one he desires.

Come, my love,

let us go out into the fields

and spend the night

among the wildflowers.

There I will give you my love…

Song of Songs 7:10

Dear girls,

So many years ago, I cannot remember the when’s or the why’s, I found a Secret Switch that enabled me to go from stern its-bed-time-and-this-is-the-last-time-I’m-warning-you-to-stay-in-bed Mama, to loving, welcoming, alluring lover.

But before I tell you more, let me tell you why we need this switch, lest you dismiss my simple solution as unimportant and impractical…

We were made for a garden. Lush plantings, waving grasses, rushing streams spilling into deep pool— that’s that kind of place God created for our first surroundings. Roses and hibiscus, lavender and lilies to scent the air. Oaks and cedars for shade, moss and mint to sleep on, a cool mist rising to moisten our skin and water the earth.

The first husband and wife honeymooned in Eden.

And then the Fall changed everything… except our deep need for beauty.

Buried not-very-deep inside every woman is a craving for the beauty we were created for.  Its there every time you run your hand over something soft, every time your eye catches a particularly clear color, every time you hear the chime of bells or sniff that scent of fresh summer rain. The need for beauty pulls at your soul, begging for more.

But life is not always beautiful. We get dirty, we suffer, we sweat, we get tired and weary and worn down.

And isn’t that about how every young mother feels sometimes?

A mother’s reality is not anything like Esther’s— set apart for six months of beauty treatments and six months of soaking in oils. Instead, moms of little ones and teenagers and toddlers and carpools live like Ruth, out in the fields gleaning what she can from what little is offered her. Then she trudges home to try to figure out what to make for dinner. Again.

No wonder sometimes the last thing a woman at this stage of life wants is sex!

And yet… might there be a way to alter the story just enough to add a bit of that longed for beauty back into the everyday life of such a woman?

And that’s where my Secret Switch comes in. Every night- every single night, without exception- I take a long, sweetly scented bubble bath.

I know, I know, you thought I was going to say something super spiritual. That I read the entire Song of Solomon as soon as I tucked the kids in… nope. Just a bath.

That bath became symbolic for me.

A transition.

The kids were in bed, my chores done for the day, my energy usually at a low point. And every night I filled my tub with luxury. Skin softening, soul sweetening oils and bubbles and bath salts. I lit candles, turned the lights down low, got out something pretty to wear to bed, slathered myself with lotions and a spritz of perfume.

In that twenty minutes or so of feminine decadence, I sloughed off my mama skin and all the stresses that went with it, and emerged a woman.

A dip into beauty, that’s what a bath came to be for me.

Women-who-work-too-hard and mamas need this Secret Switch in order to want to be lovers to their husbands. Falling exhausted into bed with spit up on your ratty t-shirt just doesn’t induce feminine feelings of mounting passion. Ever.

But there’s more… once I stepped into that bathtub, my husband mostly took care of any unexpected needs from our children. As in, mom’s done now.

And more… our bedroom has always been beautiful. Even when money was tight. Even when vacations were mostly camping. Even when the rest of the house qualified for “fixer-upper” status.  No laundry folding, no bill paying, no stashing stuff in the corner. Our room is for romance… and sleep.

Your husband may not readily understand why you need him to take on guard duty while you bathe… or why he needs to supply you with bubble bath and pretty linegerie and a beautiful bedroom. But I can almost guarantee you that if you explain to him that you’re getting yourself ready for loving him sexually, he’ll go to great and heroic lengths to help!

You see, my dear girls, we women need a little help getting there sometimes. While men are stimulated all day long by images of sexually enticing women, those flashing ads and strutting bodies don’t get us very far.

And of course, he’s supposed to know that and help you with lovely words and lots of affection through out the day… but honestly? He’s out fighting battles for you, pretty much separated from his soft side.

When he gets home he’s raring to go and you’re way back there without a drop of desire propelling you to meet him anywhere near half way.

So if this is going to work well for both of you, you’re going to have to take responsibility to get yourself wanting what you know you both need.

That’s what the Secret Switch is all about.

And we’re in good company, girls….Naomi told Ruth just what I’m telling you. Read it for yourselves in Ruth chapter three while you take your bath.

From my heart,


P.S. Beauty in the bedroom and beauty in you… can you tell us all what makes you feel feminine and ready? Favorite scents? Best place to buy bubble bath? I’ll be Instagramming my favorite bath décor from my Pintrest all week. I’d love to see yours!

HE’S NOT YOUR PRINCE CHARMING: What Every Man Should Know About The Love Of A Woman
Diane Phil.jpg

This week, Phil and I took a road trip in his mini-cooper convertible to Victoria, BC.  It’s a romantic, European-style city sitting on a busy harbor, surrounded by breathtaking countryside. We went to celebrate 35 years of marriage— three and a half decades.

 And while we were there we talked about how we’ve seen our love grow and flourish— and we talked about those not-so-nice times when we’ve been at each other’s throats, cranky, self-centered, off. Because two strong-willed, opinionated, passionately idealistic people like us most definitely have those “off “ times too.

And we talked about the fact that not every one of those twelve thousand seven hundred and seventy-five days of married life has been smooth and peace-filled or even close to the way we would have scripted…

We’ve lived in four different cities and moved thirteen times. (stress!) We managed four pregnancies (stress!) and raised four children (stress!) through sleepless nights, (stress!) toddler tempers (stress!) and teenage worries (extreme stress!).

We’ve had a few hardships too— my unexpected and unexplained deafness, Matt’s juvenile diabetes, difficult bosses, relationships gone bad.

We’ve been swindled, criticized, hurt, misunderstood.

Real life stuff.

So how is it that I can say I am honestly, really, more in love with my husband today than I could have possibly imagined on July 15, 1978?

The answer is so simple.

I wish every man knew this secret.

I wish every girl dating the guy she thinks she might want to marry knew it.

I wish every couple struggling to stay married and stay happy knew it.

I wish I could brand it across the brain of every married man so that he had to see it before he made a choice that could unravel and wreck his wife’s love…

Drums roll….

I am passionately in love with my husband after thirty-five years of real life because I respect him.

That’s it. Simple. Basic. Doable. Truth.

He’s far from perfect- a big personality like his comes with certain side effects. And though goodness knows, I’ve tried, I’ve never managed to quiet him down or neaten him up. He’s not a man to be controlled or coerced into doing things my way.

No, I don’t feel all this passion for him because he’s reached the pinnacle of the Ideal Husband, or followed Ten Steps Guaranteed To Make Your Wife Happy Forever.

My feelings of love for Phil are rooted in days and weeks and years and decades of watching him relentlessly, doggedly align his steps one at a time to follow Jesus. Not perfectly, but persistently. Every day.

And I’m not talking about rule-abiding, moralizing, rigidity. Every attitude, every decision, every emergency, every heart-ache, every disappointment, every bump in the road of real life, gets wrestled to the foot of the Cross. Surrendered.

And that’s why I am more in love with this man today than I ever would have thought possible 35 years ago.

I wish every man realized that a woman’s feelings of love are wrapped up tight in her respect for him.

I wish every woman knew that a man who is good and godly will grow more and more attractive and compelling and sensuously appealing as the years go by.

One choice at a time… that’s all it takes to win the love of a woman for a lifetime.

From my heart,


PS. Girls- can you leave a list of why you love your husband/boyfriend/fiancé? Might just be an insightful read into the way a woman loves.

Next week, we will talk about the "Secret Switch" I mentioned last week!







HE'S NOT YOUR PRINCE CHARMING: too tired for sex

“… my lover is content with me…”

Song of Songs 7:10

Dear girls, 

Last week we unlocked the reality that for some of us at certain times, we no longer look forward to making love with our husbands.

Sex has lost its allure and all we want is to be left alone.

Not exactly the hot topic at bridal showers.

I listed three reasons I am hearing from women for not wanting sex:

1. Feeling disappointment with your husband’s lack of romance

2. Feeling physically and emotionally depleted

3. Feeling unattractive

There are other causes, of course, but these are the ones most of us will encounter at some stage of our lives. These are reality, life as it really happens.

And just like I told you last week, the solutions are simple… and oh so hard.

In your own strength, you’re doomed for failure, girls. But if you can learn to come to the real Lover of your soul to be filled over and over again by Him… He’ll spill all His great love over you with enough left over to splash passion all over your husband-- whether he “deserves” it or not.

Today I want to talk about those times of your life when “you’re too tired, too busy, and your to-do list is too long” when you have “too many little ones touching you and taking from you all day and into the night.”

You know your husband has desires but you’re so busy meeting everyone else’s needs you just add them to the list of to-do’s that don’t get done.

Ah yes, the best years of a woman’s life… (sarcastic twinkle inserted here with a bit of a chuckle at the ridiculousness of those words!) It’s so easy to romanticize and reimagine what the reality of babies and toddlers is really like.

I had babies and toddlers and teenagers all at the same time. When Matthew was temper tantruming his way through grocery stores, I had adolescent daughters overdosing on hormones. Oh yeah, fun days. And I well remember the feeling that if one more person touched me I’d shatter into a million fragments.

My nest is now empty. It stays clean. I pop into the grocery store all by myself to pick up whatever I need without anyone crying or fussing or demanding or needing to go to the bathroom. I make one bed every morning and it stays made until I pull back the covers at night. No one wakes me up in the morning. No one interrupts my quiet time. No one leaves great gobs of toothpaste smeared over the counters and onto the towel.


But for many of you, I’m fully aware that you’re facing a different scenario. The thought of going to the grocery store alone shines right up there with 5-star resorts and white sand beaches. And the thought of one more person needing something, anything from you is enough to send you into your own tailspin of door-slamming temper tantrum.

Sex is the last thing you want before you fall into your unmade bed to snatch a few desperate hours of oblivion.

But, dear daughters of mine, I’m here to prescribe the most restorative, rejuvenating, and relaxing treatment possible for your exhaustion. Sex.

God made sex to be good for you.

As in really good.

As in if-I’d-known-how-much-I-needed-this-I’d-have-moved-mountains-to-make-it-happen kind of good for you.

Here’s what I mean:

When you give yourself to your husband fully and passionately, your body releases drugs into your system that make you feel good. Great, in fact.

Drugs like DOPAMINE, which feeds your brain with “feel good” effects. It is called the reward hormone, in that it immediately works to flood you with hope and out-going assertiveness. It is also responsible for those “feelings of falling in love” in both men and women.

Having sex with your husband will actually make you fall in love with him all over again… and he with you.

And then there’s SEROTONIN- the very thing sleep deprived mothers don’t ever have enough of. Guess what? A potent orgasm releases vast reserves of serotonin into your system, making you relax and leaving you feeling emotionally satisfied. Doctors call it the “happy hormone” because it has the same effect as anti-depressants.

Feeling kind of distant from your husband these days? OXYTOCIN is known as the cuddle chemical because it causes both men and women to want to be close and intimate. It is the same hormone released right after birth, that high that instantly bonds a mother to her baby. It is “the chemical basis for our capacity and longing for romantic attachment and causes feelings of love, tenderness and wellbeing.”

Seriously, girls, sex is good for you! And good for your marriage. God designed a woman’s body to thrive by giving her body to her husband passionately.

However… when a woman uses her body to steal illicit sexuality from a man, these are the same physical responses that leave her feeling used and betrayed and deeply scarred by what should have been and wasn’t. That is why God so adamantly warns us to wait for marriage. Girls, take heed!

So… drumrolls, how does a mother of babies and toddlers and teenagers summon up the energy to send those signals to her husband that yes, she does want him? How does she convince herself?

And that is exactly what I’m hoping you’ll help me with.

Moms- tell us, please! Talk to each other here by leaving comments and advice and ideas and what’s working for you now.

Older women, can you remember those days? Did you give up and regret it? Or did you figure something out and flourish?

Please, please, please pass on your wisdom here. Leave comments or send emails. If you’re aghast at the idea of talking about sex so publically then post anonymously.

Be tasteful, but be honest. I’ll compile your wisdom and pass it on. Together we’ll figure this out and do all we can to help marriages to thrive.

And next week I’m posting about what worked for me… one Secret Switch that worked like magic to transform me from mother to lover during those baby/toddler/teenager years.

I love you girls!

From my heart,




Dear girls, I have received a lot of letters these past few weeks that we’ve been talking about sex and romance and loving our husbands.  Women cautiously opening their fears and shame to me.  Stories of abandonment and abuse, disappointment and defeat.  Of boredom and disinterest.

I sense the honor of being one you feel safe with, and I am humbled by your courage.

Women who hurt deep most often hide it carefully.

We pretend. Oh sure, we women complain about the petty stuff like that extra 20 pounds and all the inconveniences of our less-than-ideal lives. But those hurts that define us? Those get locked away where no one dare judge or in any way add to our grief.

And in your honesty, I hear the same thing over and over again. The man who was supposed to protect you and love you and cherish you and provide all you need— didn’t.

Your father failed you. Your boyfriend took too much. Your husband cannot seem to give enough.

And your glorious, alluring sensuality has become your downfall.

Many of you have simply packed it away, like a dress that doesn’t fit anymore. You know its there, you remember, with a certain sense of remorse, a time when you felt beautiful and desirable.

But now you don’t want what you once craved. It’s brought you pain or disappointment. You gave yourself to someone who didn’t treasure you, didn’t keep his promises, didn’t love you in the way you thought he surely would.

What you thought it was… it wasn’t and what you wish it was… it never has been.

Or for some of you, it’s not that at all. No pain, but not any real pleasure either. You’re too tired. Too busy. Your to-do list is too long. Too many little ones touching you and taking from you all day and into the night.

Your body is tired, your soul depleted, your relationship with your husband more of a chore-riddled, conflict-avoiding, child-raising, career-building cooperative… no longer the romance you once imagined.

And then there’s reality:  Your body isn’t beautiful like the airbrushed, half starved, breast enhanced women in the movies. You’re so intent on hiding the parts you don’t want him to see that you fail to recognize your own inherent sensuality. You punish yourself by denying your feminine flourishes. Instead you’ve become practical and low maintenance.

You don’t want him to see you unclothed because you’ve lost the freedom your beauty brings. The naked and unashamed of the Garden is long gone.

You’re hurt, you’re tired, and your beauty is lost.

And for all three causes, the result is the same— you no longer want sex.

And for each of these three common causes, there are simple solutions. Not easy, mind you, but straightforward and doable.

Let’s start with cause #1.

You thought sex with your husband would mean blockbuster romance every time. You want to see tenderness in his eyes, yearning, adoration. You want him smitten, his passion for you propelling him to a place of sacrificial giving into your life.

And guess what? That is what God wants too. He calls it being “exhilarated by her love”, He goes so far as to sternly command a husband to choose to be satisfied and at rest with his wife’s sensuality. (Pv 5:18,19) God wants your husband to demonstrate His own tenderness by “nourishing and cherishing” you. (Eph. 5:25-33)

But here’s the truth: The reason God so adamantly commands your husband to love you the way you wish you could be loved… is because no man naturally does that!

And here’s the rest of the truth: The only One who will always love you the way you long to be loved is God. His is the love that pursues you relentlessly. His is the passion that uncovers your beauty. He is the one who yearns for intimate connection with you every moment of every day.

A woman who finds her own longings fulfilled by the One, is able to so love her husband that sex becomes about satisfying his longings— exhilarating and thrilling him with her spilled over love. And in doing so, she finds immeasurable freedom. Her body, her soul, and her spirit mesh in a moment of unabashed passion and pleasure.

Try it. Get up tomorrow morning and spend an hour with your Bible open to the book of Psalms. Listen. Let God love you with His words. Respond by loving Him back. Go on a walk somewhere beautiful and drink in His gifts to you. Treasure His love. Relish the beauty He made to nourish you. Pick a handful of flowers that He grew for you.

Then plan and prepare a sensual rendezvous with your husband. Be creative. Do what delights him. Do it for him. Look forward to loving him all day long, to lavishing love on him the way the Father lavishes love on you- even when you’re less-than ideal.

Do this often— as often as he wants and needs you and then a little more. Then look at the way he looks at you. Do you see that spark? That meaningful glance? That passion you’d missed?

Add in a whole bunch of just plain, ordinary niceness… that phileo (friendly) love written about in Titus 2:4, and you have set the atmosphere for the kind of love you long for to grow between the two of you.

Simple? Yes. Easy? No.

This goes against everything you’ve seen in the moves, most marriage books and seminars, and would never, ever be the basis for a best-selling romance novel. But this is God’s way.

And since I’ve gone too long (again) I’m going to have to hold the other two reasons women don’t like sex and the solutions for next week. But here’s a recap, just a little clearer.

Problem: You’ve stopped craving sex because he isn’t romancing you and loving you the way you thought he would.


  1. Cultivate and receive a love relationship with God that fills you full to the brim.
  2. Seductively pour love on your husband out of the overflow of your feeling loved by God.
  3. Do this a lot. Do this often. Do this for him.
  4. Be friendly towards him, remembering how kind God is towards you even when you’re less than you ought to be.

The result:  You will love sex!  Your husband will be thrilled! He’ll be exhilarated with your love, he’ll find rest and comfort in you.  He may just fall over in shock!

Now, do this all summer, into the fall.  Then keep his bed hot during all the winter months. Surprise him in the spring. Do this for years and years and decades until you’re both old.

Those crinkles along his eyes will be all about you. You’ll be so inundated with all the healthy hormones that great sex releases (more about this later), that your own skin will glow without the costs of Botox and beauty supplies. Really.

And if you’re not married, this is what you have to look forward to, girls. A lifetime of getting from God and giving to your husband and receiving back more than you can imagine.

From my heart,


P.S. I still can’t believe I’m talking so openly about this, girls. Thank you for cheering me on, for leaving comments that give me courage to open my heart wide, and for so fearlessly keeping this conversation going.

Your honesty and humility astound me.

P.S.S. I know there are men out there who have allowed themselves to be so perverted by pornography and sexual sin that no amount of pure loving will create this kind of passionate response. I am so sorry. Yet I also know that there are solutions. If that is your story, please get serious help. Stop hiding his sin and seek wise counsel. If you don’t, it will only get worse. If you do, God is more than willing and able to redeem the darkness.

HE'S NOT YOUR PRINCE CHARMING: when your past haunts your present

Dear girls, Last week we talked about 5 truths about sex. Solid, unshakeable realities that are firmly rooted in God’s Word, interwoven through stories and verses, imbedded in Biblical poetry and prophesy and chronicled in epistles from beginning to end.

And this week as I read your comments and emails and messages I hear the lies that follow you right into the bedroom.

That you are not beautiful enough…

That you are not pure enough…

And, perhaps the most haunting of all, that your past prevents you from fully and freely relishing that romance and passion you long for. 

Early this morning I sensed the Spirit of God urging me awake, inviting me into His presence, waiting for me to ask Him for wisdom for you, my daughters with aching hearts and haunting questions.

“I want so desperately to be fully engaged when we are intimate but so many of my past experiences haunt me in ways I can’t begin to describe…

I frequently find myself struggling to simply feel something emotionally…

 Sometimes I feel like my heart has been permanently paralyzed and I wish with everything I could fully engage with my husband and lay aside the memories of my past…

I can’t help but feel like we are both continuing to be robbed for the sins I have already been forgiven for...

I would love to hear your thoughts on overcoming this and allowing God to heal us and make us new so that we can be fully free and fully engaged with our bodies and husbands which is the way God intended sex to be.

Could you possibly talk about how to re-learn sexual vulnerability for those of us who have been hurt in the past? 

And as I sit here alone while all the world sleeps, I listen.

Asking the One who knows, who sees, who saves your tears in a bottle, for wisdom… for grace… for the kind of truth that sets wounded women free.

Two words echo over and over again in my mind— one, surprisingly easy and refreshingly freeing, the other defeatingly difficult and even more freeing.

Repentance (the easy one that sets us free from shame).

Forgivenesss (the really hard one that sets us free from pain).

But first, a story.

One day at church, a young woman I know and love wanted to talk to me. Alone. Her husband stood just a little bit behind her with his hands in his pockets. He looked worried.

We found a private place where we wouldn’t be interrupted or overheard, made ourselves comfortable, and sat in silence. I could tell she was trying to compose herself, getting her emotions safely tucked away where they wouldn’t interfere with her story.

“I need to tell somebody some really horrible stuff. I just can’t get rid of the memories and I feel like I’m drowning in images from my past. My husband has no idea how to help and would be horrified if he heard the details of my life before I met him him. Yet those pictures won’t go away! Every time my husband touches me I see things… dark things I’ve done… and…”

Here she looked at me with such deep remorse it caught my breath,

“I cannot feel pleasure, not like I know it should. I hold back, afraid of freedom, afraid to feel.”

For the next hour my young friend laid it all out. Every single memory. Every sexual partner. What she saw. What she felt. Every layer of blackness that hung over her every time she made love to her husband.

And after each recalled and confessed memory she repented. She prayed. She paused. Then she confessed some more.

I just listened, feeling the horror with her, cursing the enemy under my breath for wrecking the life of such a lovely woman.

We held hands the whole time, and though her hands trembled, she didn’t shed a tear. Stoically, with immense determination, she just walked through her list of misery.

When she was done we sat in silence.

And then we started to worship. Spontaneously, filling up with such joy, such relief, we took turns praising and thanking and admiring the One who calls Himself Redeemer. The beauty of His blood washed over us as we reveled in His choice to love us “while we were yet sinners”. We laughed as we remembered that He adopted us, fully knowing who we are, what we’d done, what we’d do.

We didn’t sing, didn’t weep, didn’t disturb the holiness of the moment with much thought of our feelings. We just got caught up in wonder.

How can it be? The old hymn writer wondered, That Thou, My God should rescue me?

We both left that meeting stunned— not by the wretched ugliness of her confessions, but by the shocking grace of our God who sees it all and never wavers in His forgiveness.

And my friend left that meeting free. All those memories fell off her soul, crashing at the foot of the Cross… and stayed there.

And slowly, but surely, she began to feel again. Her husband’s arms became a refuge instead of a reminder. His love mirrored the love of her Redeemer. She responded with increasing joy, finding intense pleasure where tense pain had held her captive.

And me? I cannot remember anything she told me. The burden I had thought I would have to bear with her is lost somewhere in that flood of grace. I can recall the beauty of our worship but not even a bit of the blackness.

So strange… so strangely wonderful.

And I tell you all of that so that maybe some of you who are caught by soul binding chords of guilt and shame might consider a similar way to freedom.

James 5:16-18 in the Message paraphrase lays out the truth of what happened in that room like this:

Make this your common practice: Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you can live together whole and healed.

The prayer of a person living right with God is something powerful to be reckoned with. Elijah, for instance, human just like us, prayed hard that it wouldn’t rain, and it didn’t—not a drop for three and a half years. Then he prayed that it would rain, and it did. 

The showers came and everything started growing again.

Everything started to grow again. Just like my friend’s soul and marriage and sexuality began to grow again after she followed her courage to confession and repentance and acceptance of that overwhelming grace that only God can give.

This post is too long and I haven’t even addressed the second word: forgiveness. Maybe another time. For now, suffice it to say what I already have, that forgiveness is the key that sets us free from pain.

I love you, girls!

From my heart,


HE'S NOT YOUR PRINCE CHARMING: a story and a secret

Once upon a time much, much different than ours, there lived a beautiful young woman. Her home was nestled in the hills of a land filled with scented cedar forests, rolling meadows, and dancing streams. Cave-like caverns had been carved into rock outcroppings where artisan wells offered cool respite on hot summer afternoons.

Every day Rebekah gathered at the well with other women of the region to fill jars full of refreshing water. These friends laughed and splashed and dreamed out loud of the love and adventure they hoped would come their way.

And every day Rebekah left those fleeting magical moments just a little more lonely.

What is wrong with me? She wondered.

Why do my insides ache with need?

Why can’t I be content like the other girls?

They seem so satisfied with all the same dreams— to catch the eye of one of the boys we have always known, to marry and bear his babies and stay right here.

To stay the same, always the same.

Why can’t I want that too?

Why do my dreams leave me bereft of hope?

Often she would cry in the lap of the nurse who had cared for her since infancy.  An old woman now, she was full of that fiercely loyal love that pulses through the veins of a lifetime caretaker. And she was the only one who understood.

One sweltering evening as the scorching desert sun finally inched its way behind the sacred mountains, Rebekah hurried to the well to fill the earthen jars with fresh water. She loved this time of day, a chance to leave the stifling tents, to splash refreshing liquid over her dusty face, to get away from the monotony of reality.

As Rebekah emerged from the hallowed out cave entry to the well, her water jars sloshing, feet slipping in the red mud, she spotted a strange man waiting. He looked old, wizened, and very, very hot.

Please, he said in a sand choked voice, will you give me a drink?

Certainly, sir, and she lowered her jug for him to drink.

Sympathizing with his obvious exhaustion, Rebekah offered to fetch water for his camels as well. Their plaintive moans making their need obvious.

Down she ran to the bubbling water, then up again with the heavy jar.  The camels drank deeply, forcing Rebekah back again and again for more of the desert treasure. When the camels were finally satiated, the servant silently held out a gift.

In his hand, lay a glittering nose ring and two intricately carved gold bracelets. Their beauty took her breath away.

For me? But, but, why?

All the man would tell her was that he came from far away and needed a place to rest for the night. Hurrying to her brother’s house, Rebekah showed him the treasures and recounted the story of the strange traveler.

Laban saw the opportunity for what it was— a chance to earn some much needed gold. He welcomed the man in, eager to know his business.

To Rebekah’s utter surprise, the strange servant told a mystical story of an enormously wealthy father from far away who had sent his servant to find a worthy wife for his son and heir. The servant seemed certain that Rebekah met all criteria his master had requested.

Would she pack her things and mount his camels and come away with him?

A home of her own to care for, a man of her own to love, a life away from the dreariness of her daily life— she practically ran for the camel train.

Was this it? A fleeting chance to embrace adventure? To break away from the everyday? Dare she link her life to a man she’d never met? A man different than all the boys who’d filled her charmed childhood?

Everything in Rebekah’s soul cried yes!

In a flurry of planning and packing, Rebekah, with her much loved nurse beside her, faced her future with all the courage of a beautiful woman awaiting her prince.

On the dusty camel ride to her unknown home, Rebekah had plenty of time to regret her impulsivity. Yet the sheer newness of her ever-changing surroundings kept her looking forward, searching for the future she’d only dreamed of.

What little she knew about this man who would be her husband intrigued her. He was an only child, coddled by both his mother and his father.  With a rich heritage of faith and wealth beyond her wildest imaginings, Isaac was certainly the most eligible bachelor she’d ever heard of.

This was a fantasy way beyond what she had dreamed. A love story so delicious it read like a fairy tale. She was on her way to meet her Prince Charming and to live happily ever after.

By the time the caravan’s journey was drawing near to her new husband’s home, Rebekah could barely sit upright in the saddle. Every bone ached, her hair felt like a ratted mess of dust and sweat. Covered head to toe, Rebekah felt more like an ancient mummy than the beautiful bride of a rich prince.

Her frequent groanings and persistent complaints finally induced the servant to stop short of their goal. Their camp that night edged the graveled banks of a shallow river. With her nurse providing cover, Rebekah slipped into the cool water with a sigh of relief. Luxurating in the moon lit moment of privacy, she allowed herself just a moment to imagine what lay ahead.

Would her husband approve of the servant’s choice? Would he be kind? Gentle?

Looking at the whiteness of her skin she wondered what he would think of her?  Would her body please him? Would he want her? No man had ever glimpsed so much as a hint of the form of her womanhood, encased in great swathes of cloth as she always was.

What would it be like to unveil herself to this stranger?

Thinking about the story the servant had told her of Isaac’s deep grieving for his mother who had so recently died, Rebekah’s sympathetic nature longed to love the pain away— to ease the ache by wrapping him in her arms and drawing him close.

The next day brought hope on the horizon. Her new family’s fields lay everywhere she looked. Lush and growing, straight rows pushed out of the tilled earth, bursting with promise. Here was a heritage of hard work, evidence of men who went after their own dreams. Rebekah’s respect for her soon-to-be-husband grew with each step of her weary camel.

Who was that in the distance? Why was her heart pounding so? Could it be him?

Quickly, she slid off the side of the lumbering giant, straightening her garment. Rummaging through her bag, she hurriedly threw off the yards of dusty linen, replacing her covering with a delicately woven veil. Her wedding veil.

She would walk on her own two feet to meet her prince. No hiding for her! She would face this man who held her future in his hands. Mustering all the grace she could manage, Rebekah met Isaac as he came across the field in the waning light.

What she saw nearly took her breath away. Isaac was nothing like the boys who had her filled her childhood with laughter and annoyance. Before her stood a man with the callused hands and broad shoulders of one whose life was spent working.

But what caught her heart were those eyes that barely looked her way. Sad eyes, brimming with deep grief. Every part of her being longed to reach out and soothe that sadness away.

But first the servant must tell his story. Every agonizing detail. When would he ever stop? Isaac kept glancing her way. Catching her staring at him. The slightest smile. Was that a dimple?

On and on the servant droned until Rebekah thought she’d burst. When Isaac cleared his throat, sitting up straight as if to speak, the servant fell silent. Ah! The ceremony. Of course.

Hurriedly, as if to get it over with as quickly as possible, the servant recited the words that would bind Isaac and Rebekah together for the rest of their lives. The timbre of his voice intrigued her as he recited the ancient promises.

Hidden behind her veil, Rebekah could only wish for a chance to know the kind of love she dreamed of. What would he think of her? Could he be as full of fear and wonder and hope as she?

Leading her to his tent, his hand barely brushing her back, Rebekah’s knees nearly gave way. So soon! Before she could fall, Isaac reached for her, holding her to himself. He stopped.

Rebekah, are you afraid? 

Yes, yes— no! No, of course not.

Isaac’s whole being stilled. Gently, firmly, he turned her towards another tent, one set aside from the cluster of the camp.

Let’s go in here instead. This was my mother’s tent, you’ll feel safe here. 

Brushing aside the heavily draped opening, Isaac ushered his bride into a place of wonder and beauty. Her breath caught as she unwrapped the lacy fabric that hid her face— a palace in the middle of this manly camp! Rich tapestries lined the walls, piles of soft furs beckoned. Rebekah’s soul responded to the invitation of warmth and welcome.

Turning to Isaac, Rebekah knew without words that his giving of this gift was as unexpected to her husband as it was to her. An offering of tenderness, of protection, of understanding... of love.

Now it was her turn to give. To offer him her beauty. To bring her whole self to her husband, without borders or boundaries or inhibition or fear.

This man who grieved— yet gave that grief to her in a moment of unselfish intimacy. She would give herself fully to him. She would ease his pain. She would invite him into the depths of herself with joy and abandon.

And so Isaac loved Rebekah there. And Rebekah brought him the comfort only she could offer. A comfort that healed the brokenness of his hurting and brought hope again.

Genesis 24

(my version)

From my heart,


Girls, I hope you enjoyed my imaginings. And I hope you will read the real story for yourselves— especially that last benediction, verse 67. Because tucked into that last phrase lies a secret every woman should know.

Do you see it?

Have you grasped the immeasurable power of a woman to be a beautiful hiding place for her husband?  A refuge and relief from all the hurts and pressures and fears and worries that dog their steps?

Have you understood, at last, the deepest need of your man? To be embraced and loved in the way only you can love him?

Will you be that safe place for the man God gave you?

More on this next week… and please, your vulnerable words of comment are compelling me to dive deeper into expressing the words of what we all want— the way to a richer and fuller intimacy and joy.

From my heart,