Anger, Divorce, Faith, Marriage, Spiritual Warfare

When the Enemy Attacks

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Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. Ephesians 6:14–15

When the enemy attacks, how do you respond? Do you cower in fear and try to flee the scene? Do you respond with fleshly anger and lash out with a fiery tongue? Do you do battle with the weapons of peace and love that followers of Christ have been equipped with?

Early in my marriage stand, I frequently felt compelled to argue against the lies and accusations of the enemy. (When I say enemy, keep in mind we are speaking of Satan and his armies of darkness. Our spouses should never be considered the enemy. They have been blinded by the evil one who seeks to kill and destroy. Their hearts have been taken captive and they are unable to see the truth.) In my mind, I was on the side of the Gospel and felt it a righteous position to debate and have the final word in contemptuous exchanges. But the more the Holy Spirit spoke to my heart and impressed upon me the nature of the battle, the more inclined I was to speak softly and pray more intensely for my prodigal wife.

Make no mistake, the attacks and accusations hurled against standers are damaging and destructive. The toxic words and incessant belittling would often times wound my heart and sink my spirit. I recall hearing things like…

“I will never forgive you!”
“You are crazy!”
“You live in a another world!”
“You haven’t changed!”
“You are trying to control me!”
“You think you are God!”
“We were never really married!”
“I don’t need to feel sorry for you!”

You may have heard similar things. Understand that these utterances are spoken from hearts that have been deceived. To justify their actions, prodigals will constantly find it necessary to keep the focus on you. To do otherwise would force them into self examination. The last place someone out of the will of God wants to be is standing in front of a mirror looking at their own sins and faults.

Satan is a master of deception. He infiltrates the mind and darkens one’s understanding of the truth. If a person is unable to see the truth, then you shouldn’t be surprised when you hear non-truth coming from their lips. Keep this in mind and don’t be surprised when the tone and demeanor of your spouse drastically turns as sacrificial actions and lovingly spoken words are modeled before them. Satan hates the truth and those deceived by him hate when they are reminded of it.

Satan’s agenda can only be advanced as long as his lies continue to be believed. You can have a profound impact on your prodigal’s understanding of truth by living your life in a manner marked by grace, compassion and forgiveness. Don’t be discouraged or defensive when the attacks come. Trust me, they will. Take comfort in knowing that God sees and hears all and will one day judge accordingly. (1 Peter 2:23)

In a world that angrily demands revenge and retribution for any and every perceived wrong and offense, challenge yourself to live in stark contrast. When you have been wronged, show kindness and love in return. Do not demand justice for yourself. Rather, demand from yourself rightful service to the Lord. It is this obedience that God can use to help transform hearts of stone into hearts of flesh.

In Christ,
Tommy Larson

 

Christian Walk, Divorce, Marriage

The Lies We Tell Ourselves

A few weeks ago, I wrote a blog entry entitled The Story of Us. If you missed it, you definitely want to read it before continuing, as this is a follow-up entry. The Story of Us is the true story of how Tommy and I met and the events leading up to our marriage, while this post focuses on the lies I told myself that lead to our separation and divorce.

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I had known for some time that my marriage was strained and attempted to do everything in my power to make things work. I kept our home a little more tidy and made sure our boys didn’t get out of line. I tried to be more encouraging and found subjects to talk about with Tommy that I knew he enjoyed. I dressed nice to impress him and planned outings for us, although they rarely turned out as I had hoped. Everything I did was an outward attempt to be a better wife, and a better mother.

It was fairly easy to keep up the “good behavior” for short periods of time. But, when I saw my actions weren’t resonating with Tommy, I veered in the opposite direction and my kindness turned into hostility. I would often avoid Tommy and even ignored him, showing disrespect by raising my voice or worse, rolling my eyes. My desire for wanting Tommy to change was not wrong in and of itself. But, when I didn’t get a loving response in return, I acted out in anger and allowed my emotions to rule my behavior. Placing value on my feelings over obedience, my heart grew further away from Tommy, as well as the Lord.

When I had exhausted all attempts to save my marriage, I convinced myself that God was not capable of changing Tommy’s heart so I began devising a plan to remove him from our home and from my life. After pleading with Tommy to leave, he agreed with the expectation of returning. Although I led him to believe this brief time apart was temporal, I had no intentions of ever letting him back into our home.

The story of us and all the beautiful memories we had shared together were now a part of our past. The further I moved out of God’s will for my life, the easier it became to believe the lies. The realization that our marriage had been a mistake from the very start quickly became reality. You see, I had never really been in love with Tommy. He was a convenient target of my affections, and had manipulated me into marrying him.

As I am writing these words, I am horrified to read them back, but I’m sharing in hopes that God will use our story to help save one marriage. That one wife or one husband will identify with these same lies and turn back from their march towards divorce. Now, backing up a bit to explain how God made a mistake (note the sarcasm)…

Keep in mind I had been serving in Egypt with very little contact with men due to cultural differences. I was not living in a foreign country as a tourist, I was fully immersed in the culture. I dressed and acted like an Egyptian–not making eye contact with men or conversing with the opposite sex and fully covering my body as to not attract unwanted attention. Up until the time Tommy arrived in Egypt, I had not talked to or interacted with any single men my age with the exception of a handful of interpreters.

Tommy had made no suggestions of desiring anything other than friendship prior to or during his trip. It’s also important to note that he was personally invited and encouraged by me to join the group that was visiting. Regardless of the clear facts, I concocted a story in my mind to believe he had used my circumstances to strategically work his way into my life. Somehow, he had masterminded a plan from a thousand miles away to take advantage of the fact that I desired male companionship. His sole purpose for visiting Egypt wasn’t to serve the Lord or experience the culture and the fare, it was to manipulate me into falling in love with him. (Stay with me… I know it sounds ridiculous!)

During our two weeks together in Egypt, Tommy had shown a different side of himself. He was funny, charming, kind, outgoing and someone I really enjoyed being around. Initially, I viewed this as God opening my eyes to see Tommy in a new light. The Holy Spirit was prompting my heart and cultivating a love for him I had never previously felt. But, that truth was quickly replaced with my truth, which equated to whatever lie was most believable or in this case, the most unbelievable. It was Tommy’s use of mind control and manipulative tactics that coerced me into a long distance relationship with him that eventually lead me to the altar. In my vulnerable state, Tommy had set a trap for me and I had taken the bait!

Upon returning to the States, I went through an extended weekend of debrief counseling. My counselors advised me to take the time to properly acclimate back into western society and warned me to wait at least a year before making any long-term commitments. I later used this to further justify my reasoning as to why Tommy and I should have never gotten married in the first place. It was crystal clear to me, God had made a mistake! Sadly, I voiced these lies to Tommy and deeply hurt him in my quest to end his stand for our marriage.

I was so blinded, living in darkness and completely deceived by the enemy. Paul warns us about the evil powers of darkness against that which we struggle (Eph. 6:12). It is in the darkness that we fall prey to Satan’s attacks. Paul also reminds us that we are not to be outwitted by Satan, for we are not ignorant of his schemes.

so that we would not be outwitted by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his designs.‭‭ 2 Corinthians‬ ‭2:11‬ ‭

The problem is, I had neglected to identify my enemy. It wasn’t Tommy; it was Satan all along. Like a lamb being led to the slaughter, I was heading straight into the den of the roaring lion.

Dear friend, don’t be outwitted! Heed the Word of the Lord and view Satan’s attacks for exactly what they are… detours on God’s perfect path for your life. If you are standing for your marriage, please know that you are not alone in your journey. There are others out there, holding onto hope that God will deliver their loved one from out of the mouth of the lion just like God delivered me.

In Christ,
Amy Larson

 

Divorce, Faith, Faithfulness, Healing and Reconciliation, Marriage

As Long as We Both Shall Live

As Long as we both shal live (1)

A wife is bound to her husband as long as he lives. But if her husband dies, she is free to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord. 1 Corinthians 7:39

The phrases “till death do us part” and “as long as we both shall live” don’t seem to carry as much weight as they did in years past. These days, the aforementioned parts of traditional wedding vows have for many, become little more than words in the script that makeup the wedding ceremony. Unfortunately, the serious nature of the charge to both the husband and wife hasn’t resonated with a large percentage of those have entered the marriage covenant. It has been this casual approach to wedding vows that has led to divorce becoming a viable option for many (including professing Christians) when relationships go south.

During our separation and subsequent divorce, I remember being strongly convicted not to view the decree of a judge as license for me to abandon the vow made to my wife on our wedding day. There were many reasons for this perspective, but mostly it was due to the fact that the promise to uphold my vows wasn’t simply a promise to Amy. It was a promise to God.

One is reminded of this as we look back to the Old Testament and read of the Lord’s relationship with his chosen people, Israel. Here, we see modeled a testimony of unending love, patience, and long-suffering.

Deuteronomy 7:6-8
“For you are a holy people to the Lord your God; the Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples on the face of the earth. The Lord did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any other people, for you were the least of all peoples; but because the Lord loves you, and because He would keep the oath which He swore to your fathers, the Lord has brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you from the house of bondage, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.

Israel was a nation chosen by God himself, but time after time, Israel turned away from the truth and lived an existence marked by rebellion, disobedience and unfaithfulness. Despite this, God, who is full of grace, continued to pursue his first love. He demonstrated unparalleled devotion, kindness and forgiveness to a people who willingly forsook his affections, and in turn, chased after their own lusts and passions.

What an amazing example that was demonstrated for us so long ago. For those who have in obedience, chosen to stand for our marriages, may God’s faithfulness to an unfaithful partner serve as a reminder to continue to pursue, serve and willingly sacrifice temporal happiness for the sake of the God’s kingdom. How easy it is to fall into the world’s way of thinking by abandoning our covenant spouse when the circumstances of life have become too burdensome to bear. But, take heart faithful friends, for we know that the pain and suffering of this life is nothing compared to the joy and fulfillment that await us when one day, we are united with our Father in heaven.

Having gone through the horrible pain of divorce, I understand the anguish and emotional distress that can steal your joy and erode your confidence in Christ to move mountains and restore a broken marriage. The hurt and sadness is very real, but don’t let your circumstances dictate the resolve of your commitment to your vows and promise to the Lord the day you entered into a holy union with Him and your spouse.

Regardless of your current situation, and despite the reality of some relationships continuing to visibly erode, have confidence that the same power that raised Christ from the dead is able to resurrect any relationship. Take comfort in this as you seek to remain faithful to those the enemy has taken captive. Christ has the ability to set them free!

In Christ,
Tommy Larson

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Christian Walk, Marriage

The Story of Us

The Story of UsThirteen years ago today, Tommy and I stood before God, our family and friends and said, “I do”. Since we are celebrating our wedding anniversary, I thought it would be an appropriate time to share the story of us…

We first met one Sunday morning in church during the welcoming of guests. I didn’t recognize Tommy and figured he was visiting, so I made a beeline straight for him. With a friendly handshake, I introduced myself and asked him a few questions. He didn’t look a day over sixteen years old, so I assumed we were around the same age. When I asked him which school he attended, he replied very matter-of-factly, “I just graduated from college”. At the time, I was a middle schooler. I’m quite certain I stood there dumbfounded, staring at him trying to figure out if I should take him seriously or if he was only kidding.

Due to our seven year age difference, we didn’t spend much time together until I was in college. Even then, I went to school out of state so the time we did see each other was limited to occasional Sundays when I was in town and we attended the same Bible study group. Although we were friendly with one another, I didn’t consider us to be friends. Tommy came across as a very serious and well-mannered young man, but rarely spoke or attempted to converse with me at all.

Following college graduation, I traveled to Nicaragua on my first international mission trip. What was originally supposed to be several weeks of service, turned into several months and my passion for missions lead me to search for a long term position with a mission-focused organization. During this transitional period, Tommy and I briefly worked together at a childcare facility and became very close friends. After spending quite a bit of time together, I knew he had a fondness for me, but I purposely kept my distance as we didn’t plan on living in the same city, state or even on the same continent.

After months of prayer and preparation, I found myself on a plane with a one way ticket to Egypt where I would live and serve for the next two years. Due to my move and complete immersion in a new culture, I lost contact with many of my stateside friends including Tommy.  We didn’t reconnect again for approximately a year after I had been living in Egypt. When I heard from him, he reached out to me in an email. He wrote somewhat regularly and entertained me by filling me in on all the happenings in our church and in his personal life.

Six months after we reconnected, a small group from our church planned a trip to visit Egypt during Christmas. Tommy and my mom were among the group members. As soon as I met them at the airport and saw Tommy walk through the terminal gate, I noticed something about him had changed. I viewed him in a different light. When I went to greet him, I had a strong sense that I was looking at my future husband.

During his visit, there was an undeniable joy I felt in his presence and I trusted the Holy Spirit was opening my eyes to catch a glimpse into Tommy’s heart. We spent countless hours laughing and talking. For the next two weeks, I enjoyed time with both Tommy and my mom. Every evening, I poured out my heart to my mother, confiding in her how I was feeling and engaged in deep discussions on the topic of marriage.

When it was time to say our goodbyes, I secretly wrote a note on the back of Tommy’s plane voucher that read, “I like that you love me!” From the moment he read those words, he pursued me as his wife. In fact, he had been pursuing my heart all along. Although we lived in separate countries at the time, we kept in close contact and began making preparations for our future wedding. The six months we were apart flew by and when I returned to the states, Tommy greeted me at the airport along with my parents. Within three months of my return we were engaged and within six months we were married.

We had known each other for over a decade. We knew each other’s families and were a part of each other’s lives, yet it took traveling thousands of miles to a foreign land for God to unite our hearts. Only God could have written our story so beautifully! In Ecclesiastes 3, Solomon tells us that everything in life is a matter of timing, for time and timing is everything. The events in our lives did not happen randomly or by chance; God purposed all of them.

He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.
‭‭Ecclesiastes‬ ‭3:11‬ ‭

This is the story of us!

In Christ,
Amy Larson

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Christian Walk, Church

Gather Together

Gather Together

“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” Hebrews‬ ‭10:24-25‬

By God’s design, we were created to be relational beings and were not meant to be alone. When God breathed life into Adam and Eve, He formed them to be in fellowship with Him and with each other. Scripture signifies the importance of relationships and weaves together a beautiful picture of oneness as depicted in the Trinity (1 John 5:7-8), amongst the church body (1 Corinthians 12:12-14), between husband and wife (Ephesians 5:31) and between Christ and His Bride (Ephesians 5:32). We were designed to live in companionship with one another, loving and encouraging our brothers and sisters as a unified body.

As we are growing together, we should be maturing in our relationships with the intent of becoming more like Christ in both our marriages and as a church. Our fellow believers are surrounding us to be the accountability partners and support team we need and vice versa. The church should be a sanctuary for those in troubled relationships, but more often than not, we disconnect from the very people that can offer us the most help. Whether we believe we are the only ones experiencing hardships, or we are just too prideful to ask for help, we forget our brothers and sisters are united with us in one body.

Like the body, there are many parts, each with differing roles to help make it function more efficiently. Knowing the purpose for unity in the body, why then do we forsake the assembling of ourselves together? There are a multitude of reasons ranging from church member hypocrisy, to worship style preferences but ultimately, in light of the charge to attend church, they are merely excuses. It speaks to a heart that is disinterested in close Biblical fellowship with the Lord if we don’t make it a priority to attend church. We focus on how the body can benefit us instead of how we can benefit the body, and the selfishness of our hearts causes us to lose sight of the true design of the body of Christ.

But, it’s not just enough to “go to church” we need to make sure the church we are attending is Bible believing, gospel-centered, and doctrinally sound. Many churches today have strayed from the Biblical path and have welcomed worldly and false doctrines into their preaching and teaching. We must be mindful and always seeking God’s truth so as to discern what type of yokes we form with other professing bodies of believers.

We shouldn’t gather as a body just out of a sense of duty or obligation, but to participate in the profound mystery any person or group could ever experience: a wholeness within the body and as the Bride united together with Christ. There is a presence of the Holy Spirit where two or more are gathered in His name and a fullness of joy reserved for the Bride. When we gather this Easter to celebrate the single greatest sacrifice in history, praising the name of our risen savior, let us unite in Christ’s name not just this Sunday, but every week, serving one another together so we can experience the fullness of God as He intended.

“And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” ‭‭Colossians‬ ‭3:15-16‬

In Christ,
Tommy & Amy Larson

Anger, Christian Walk, Divorce, Healing and Reconciliation, Uncategorized

Be Angry and Sin Not

Copy of Be angry

One of the justifications Amy used in her pursuit of divorce from me was the fact that my anger was out of control. In those days, the hostility shown by me had reached a point where my actions would literally instill fear in her. Of course there was never any real justification for my anger. It mostly reared its ugly head when I became frustrated, ashamed or perceived that I was being disrespected. The petty issues that would ignite these outbursts were so small and insignificant that looking back now, I can’t even recall them. But as I ponder the moments of conflict and status of my spirit at the time, I recognize that it was my spiritual heart condition that led the way to destruction.

Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. James 1:19–20

The beginning of Biblical counseling marked the starting point for a turning of the tides in my life. As the truth of the Word was penetrating deep into the uttermost parts of my soul, I was being transformed into a person that was patient, compassionate and loving. I’ll admit these characteristics did not come naturally for me. Only by the grace of God did these seeds bear fruit in my life. Unfortunately, by the time they did, Amy had already lost hope.

As we continued down our journey towards divorce, I was very intentional about displaying the opposite of what Amy had been used to seeing for most of our marriage. The more I spent time in the God’s Word and listening to Biblical instruction, the easier and more natural it was for me to act the way Christ intended. But Amy was very sceptical of the transformation. Any deviation from the straight and narrow path I was following would reaffirm her belief that I was the same old angry person. Someone incapable of change.

One particular evening sticks out in my mind as an example of when my anger caused a great deal of damage to the cause of healing and reconciliation. I’ll share it now…

Roughly five months into the separation, Amy had asked if I’d be willing to go to a picnic type event at Micah’s school with the rest of the family. I can remember being so encouraged that we’d have the opportunity to do this together as a family. I had told others how much I was looking forward to it and spent considerable time in prayer asking the Lord to use it to draw our family closer together. It started out well enough. The boys were getting their faces painted and we were eating food from the local vendors. By all accounts, we looked like a typical family. I remember asking Amy if she’d like to go out with the boys and I for some dessert after we finished there. At first she wouldn’t give me a direct answer. But after some pressing, she revealed she already had plans. It wasn’t the answer I wanted to hear and so I allowed my fleshly emotions to take over. The anger and frustration grew as we headed back to our separate cars and then proceeded to “exchange” the boys for the weekend. I was angry at the situation and how terrible it was for our family to be in that position. At the time, I felt like it was a righteous anger. After all, I wasn’t the one wanting to split up our family. I wanted marriage restoration. She wanted the divorce.
But what I had failed to realize at the time was that I was placing the desire for marriage restoration before my devotion and allegiance to God. Yes, God wills for families to stay together and for marriages to last a lifetime. That’s what I was desiring. It wasn’t God’s will however, for me to get angry and frustrated when the timeline I had setup for restoration didn’t line up with the Lord’s.

Scripture teaches us the most important commandment is to love the Lord with all our heart, soul and mind. When we elevate a desire for something above Christ, even if it is Godly and just, it becomes a sin. Had I understood this precept early on, perhaps restoration would have come sooner. I may never know. But what is certain however, is that our God is a jealous one. He alone is worthy to be praised. May we keep our focus on Him and remain in obedience and holiness even as we rightfully pursue marriage restoration. Hate sin and divorce, but do not let anger and the quest for righteousness produce iniquity in your heart and life.

In Christ,
Tommy Larson

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Christian Walk, Divorce, Forgiveness, Healing and Reconciliation, Marriage

Grace Abounds

grace

A little over ten years ago, when Tommy and I found out I was expecting our first child, I was over the moon with excitement. I read daily about the growth of the baby, the developmental process and what to expect during pregnancy. Each doctor’s visit, I took delight in watching our little one move about, turning over and sucking his thumb as he grew in the womb. I carefully studied the intricate details of our ultrasound photos imagining what our son would look like when he arrived. The anticipation of his birth was an exciting time in my life and a welcomed distraction from our marital problems.

When Micah finally made his appearance after 42 weeks in the womb, I was overcome with emotions. As Tommy held him up and my eyes met his for the first time, I cried tears of happiness. No matter how many tears I wiped away, countless more streamed down my face as my heart leapt with joy. Our little blessing had made his way into the world, and I had become a mother. A few years later, I welcomed Elijah and then Jacob with the same joy-filled tears and overwhelmed heart. The births of our children made time stand still. It brought periods of calm and a sense of normalcy in what was otherwise a very strained and contentious relationship.

Our boys were happy babies and brought so much contentment. I enjoyed nursing them and cuddling each before laying them down for nap time. As they grew, I poured my love into them watching as they transitioned from sitters-crawlers-walkers. When God knit them together in my womb, I was fully captivated by their development. I had been so attuned to their needs when they were babies and toddlers, but over time my loving attention began to diminish the more I focused on my failing marriage.

The years of Tommy’s distance and neglect, wore away my confidence in him as a husband and father, as well as my faith in the Lord to bring about lasting and meaningful change. My heart began to hardened and I became unresponsive to the Holy Spirit. I successfully deceived myself into believing divorcing Tommy and moving forward without him, would make life easier for everyone. Although our children were aware of the tension and lack of affection between Tommy and I, nothing could have prepared their little hearts for the changes ahead. Their world took a drastic turn at the ages of 6, 3 and 15 months old. Our precious boys were no longer sleeping through the night, snores turned into sobs, and their delightful spirits were crushed.

Once we separated, I appeared to be happy, but that was all an illusion. Inside, my heart was aching as Christ’s light was dimming and darkness began to creep in. I was doing my best to keep up the facade, but I was living in a whirlwind and too blinded by sin to realize our three boys were being tossed about like a wave in the sea. My life was not reflecting the beautiful picture I had presented to the world, yet I continued to deceive myself and others.

I got so caught up in trying to sell the lie, I didn’t realize the emotional damage that was being done. I missed all of the warning signs despite phone calls and messages from the boys’ teachers telling me they were struggling to keep their emotions in tact. My judgement had been so clouded, I unfairly blamed Tommy for their suffering. I had convinced myself I was moving forward to a happier and healthier life for their well-being, but that was not proving to be true and was having the opposite effect in which I had intended.

As I drifted further away from the Lord, Tommy drew closer and began intense Biblical counseling. One by one, the strongholds the enemy had in his life started to crumble and as a result, he became a changed man. Our boys took notice and began opening up to their daddy, pouring out their hearts to him and sharing a deeper bond than I had ever witnessed before. Over time, I noticed a change in my relationship with our children. I wasn’t the loving, attentive, patient mother I used to be. I had become quite the opposite and was every bit of distant and neglectful as I had previously accused Tommy of being. I had divorced him for past behavior that was now present and ruling in my own life.

Despite my actions, Tommy continually showed me kindness and sacrificial love. His acts of obedience began to have an effect on me and my eyes were opened to the reality of our situation. The more the Holy Spirit revealed to me, the more broken I became. No matter how miserably I had failed, God’s remarkable gift of grace abounded.

But where sin increased, Grace abounded all the more. Romans 5:20

When our family reunited, not only did I ask forgiveness from my husband, I also admitted my faults to our children and apologized to them just as sincerely.

Throughout the past couple of years, God has been so compassionate and merciful to me. He has taught me the beauty of His son’s sacrifice and the importance of granting forgiveness to others as graciously as it has been given to me. There is no greater joy than giving God the glory for the miraculous healing and redemption that’s taken place in our family. Though it was brought about with heartbreak and suffering, I rejoice knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope. My hope isn’t invested in something that is temporal, but in the only One that can bring about everlasting change, Jesus Christ my Savior.

Perhaps you are in the midst of marital struggles of your own or you are currently going through a divorce. Seek the Lord and ask Him to give you the ability to ask for forgiveness or grant forgiveness whatever the circumstances may be. Take comfort in knowing your hope lies in Jesus Christ! No situation or relationship is beyond the power of God to heal and restore.

In Christ,
Amy Larson

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Couseling, Divorce, Healing and Reconciliation

Seek Wise Counsel

10 - Seek Wise CounselAfter Tommy and I separated, I was desperately in need of guidance so I reached out to a Christian counselor. At the time, I was not aware there was a difference between Christian and Biblical Counselors. I met with both during our separation and upon the introduction to my Biblical counselor, I disparaged his credentials. I thought all counselors required a degree in psychology to fully understand a counselee and help lead them to healing. To my surprise, the Biblical counselor did not have a degree in psychology, sociology, or any other field pertaining to relational behavior, so my Biblical counseling was short-lived after having completed only one session. I felt my time seeing a Christian counselor, who had the educational status and psychology degrees set by society and myself as the acceptable standard, would be more beneficial.

I failed to realize when I was seeking counsel, that services labeled Christian didn’t necessarily mean Biblical. Unlike Biblical counselors, Christian counselors do not believe the Bible is a sufficient tool for counseling but must include secular disciplines – psychology, sociology, anthropology, biology – in conjunction with the Bible in order to be effective. While God was referenced from time to time during my Christian counseling sessions, the advice I received was not grounded in the principles of God’s Word. It was rooted in self-help application based on psychology, placing the focus on oneself. Contrarily, Biblical counseling admonishes the need for self-love and directs counselees to die to self in order to allow Christ to change hearts and minds from the inside out. This would have been greatly beneficial since I was focused on my own needs, which included the desire to divorce my husband.

I was desperately searching for wise counsel, but unfortunately I was seeking guidance from methods that offered no solutions. The problem with a secular approach is the advice or practices change in line with human perspectives and emotions. Psychology at its very core is the study of the brain and the mental process – things like perceptions, thoughts, feelings and beliefs. While Biblical counselors believe secular disciplines such as psychology, sociology and the like can make observations that are insightful, and can be helpful in a variety of secondary ways, they believe the Bible to be given the highest priority in matters of faith and life (‭2 Timothy‬ ‭3:15-17‬).

Biblical counseling wouldn’t prescribe solutions that are contradictory to God’s Word. Advice isn’t based on a feeling, but rather on gospel instruction and the charge for obedience. We are all capable of behavioral changes, but if we don’t get to the root of the problem, the heart, we will revert back to our instinctive sinful nature. By following Biblical principles, and renewing our hearts and minds to that of Christ, we can obtain real change. Nothing is more powerful or helps us to be better equipped when addressing life’s greatest problems.

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Hebrews‬ ‭4:12‬ ‭

Now that I am in the process of becoming a Biblical counselor and I see the requirements and dedication involved with becoming certified, I have a renewed respect for the counselor I once dismissed as unqualified. It takes a great deal of Bible knowledge and education in theology to obtain your certification, which is no small feat to scoff at. If you are in need of counseling, I highly recommend the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors. Please take time to search for counselors in your area. If you are a Knoxville local, you may find my name on the list, Lord willing, by the end of the year once I complete my certification.

For more information on Biblical Counseling,  please visit the ACBC website.

In Christ,
Amy Larson

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Divorce, Faith, Marriage, Uncategorized

Looking for a Sign

Looking for a Sign

“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

Years ago in the early stages of my marriage stand, doubt and uncertainty would frequently enter my mind. The targeted thoughts that were cast upon me questioned the rightness of my position and whether or not it would be wise to consider counsel that was not based solely on Scripture. As I wrestled with the difficulty of staying the course, I would ask the Lord for signs to encourage me and to increase my faith. I can say that on occasion God would give me visible glimpses of hope. In some cases, he would provide clear and unmistakable pictures demonstrating that He was at work and listening to my prayers.

I recall one distinct moment after a time of prayer that instantly spoke to my heart. I had just left work and was headed to the car. Just before I opened the door to get in, for whatever reason, I looked straight up into the sky. I observed a passenger jet flying high and off in the distance. I watched it for 3 to 4 seconds, then all of a sudden it made a complete u-turn. I had never seen a plane make that drastic a maneuver in person. It was headed one direction, then a moment later, it was headed in the complete opposite direction. Tears began to flow from my eyes as I realized the Lord wanted me to witness this. You see, just minutes earlier I had asked God to provide me with an assurance that He was at work and that the direction of my relationship with Amy would change. To see the plane fly as it did, I sensed the Lord impressing on my heart that marriage restoration was coming and the change would be sudden. I didn’t get the sense that restoration would happen right away, rather I believed Amy’s heart would be quickly transformed. Some time later, these thoughts were confirmed.

I share this story not to encourage others to seek visual confirmation of God’s will, but rather to express the truth that God is always in control of our circumstances despite our fears and disbelief. A sign or assurance from God didn’t change the fact that I was to obey His word and live by faith. The fact that I longed for a sign demonstrated the weakness of my faith. Was it not enough for me to just simply trust and obey the Lord? Why couldn’t I take Him at His word and know that He was working all things together for my good?

Friends, I want to encourage all of you standing for your marriages to believe in your heart that God is hearing your prayers. Do not be discouraged by painful realities of life being played out before your eyes. Yes, God can give us signs from time to time if He chooses. Be grateful and humbled when He does. But please know that it is not these signs that should determine our level of faith. Our steadfastness and obedience to God’s word during the hard times is what will strengthen and equip us to persevere. This will ultimately glorify God.

In Christ,
Tommy Larson

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Christian Walk, Faith, Forgiveness

Nothing is Hidden from God

“Nothing in all creation is hidden from God.”Have you ever attended a Bible study or been sitting in a Sunday morning service and thought the pastor was speaking directly to you? You find yourself looking around the room to see if anyone is staring in your direction. Can others simply look at you and see the transgressions you have committed before the Lord? Is it that obvious?

You envision a bright neon sign above your head with an arrow pointing down as the lights flash GUILTY GUILTY GUILTY. This isn’t necessary an attack from the pastor in the pulpit, but rather the Holy Spirit convicting you of unconfessed sins. Sometimes we are gently reminded of our wrong doings and other times, a spotlight is shown on us so we are forced to face them. No matter how hard we try to conceal our sins, one thing is certain, we can never hide them from our Father in Heaven.

I look back on the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, immediately following their fall, when they ate of the forbidden fruit. For the first time, the realized they were naked and begin gathering leaves to cover themselves. When they heard God walking in the garden, they frantically looked for a good hiding place amongst the shrubs in hopes that God wouldn’t find them or look upon their nakedness.

Did they really think the creator of the universe, the God that breathed life into the dust of the earth and formed their flesh, wouldn’t be able to find them? Even if Adam and Eve managed to successfully camouflage themselves and blend into the foliage, God didn’t have to search for them. He was with Adam and Eve all along and knew exactly where they were.

One could look back on this story and laugh. Who did Adam and Eve think they were kidding? But, all too often, we play the exact same game of hide and seek with the Lord. Whether we deceive ourselves and legitimize our sins like Adam and Eve, or become complacent and no longer fear the consequences of our actions, we forget our God is omnipresent.

So much of our time is spent finding ways to cover up our wrongs instead of exposing them to the light and seeking help. By hiding our fleshly desires, we may be able to fool onlookers, and perhaps even our loved ones at times, but our Heavenly Father is aware of our intentions. He knows every thought we think and every action we take.

Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before his eyes, and he is the one to whom we are accountable.
‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭4:13‬

God gave us His truth so we would learn from the mistakes of those that walked the path before us. If we are grounded in God’s Word, reading and seeking the Bible, we are less likely to be deceived by Satan’s cunning half-truths and outright lies. We cannot allow the enemy to twist God’s Words into what our itching ears want to hear.

When left to our own devices, we feed our selfish desires and let pride rule our hearts. The sin of pride led to Lucifer’s fall from the heavens. Pride also led to the fall of Adam and Eve, and has infected the hearts and minds of all mankind. We must put off pride and replace it with the desire to please God and promote His glory instead of our own.

In Christ,
Amy Larson

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Christian Walk, Divorce, Healing and Reconciliation

Beauty from Ashes

THE SPIRITUAL FORCES

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” ‭Ephesians‬ ‭6:12‬

The night of my mother’s passing will forever be ingrained in my memory as an evening I battled against spiritual forces. God was telling me one thing, but the enemy was shouting another. One voice was loud, and the other one was soft. As I recount that emotional evening, I look back and realize I was pleading with the Lord over a situation He was entirely in control of all along.

As routine would have it, I called my mom after tucking the boys into bed for the night. The phone rang and rang and then went to voicemail. In reality, what was probably only 15 minutes, felt like an eternity waiting for her return call, but never receiving one. Since my father was out of town, my concern grew stronger when I did not hear back from her. In my spirit, I knew something was wrong.

At the time, Tommy and I had been living separately for about a year and a half and were officially divorced. Although he only lived three minutes down the road, I never called him when I needed help. The thought of him knowing I was in need of assistance didn’t sit well with my prideful heart. Plus, I didn’t want him to get the wrong impression – as if filing for divorce didn’t already send that message loud and clear!

While contemplating what to do, I heard a still small voice prompting me to reach out to Tommy. But, another part of me heard a louder voice, shouting, “He’s a manipulator, liar. You know you can’t trust him. Call anyone but him.” In the end, I decided to listen to the voice of reason.

Upon answering his phone, I explained the situation to Tommy, and he immediately agreed to come over and stay with the boys. I especially remember his tone was one of genuine love and concern. In an attempt to calm my nerves and put my heart at ease, he offered multiple explanations as to why my mom may not be answering her phone. At this point, it had been around thirty minutes of constant phone calls, texts and voicemails, but all failed attempts to reach my mother.

When Tommy arrived, I greeted him at the door expecting him to follow me inside. I’m not sure what led me to that conclusion. It had been at least a year and a half since he had stepped foot into our home per my wishes. I could see his reluctance, and then he said something that stopped me in my tracks. “If you prefer, I can sit on the porch with the door cracked and listen for the boys until you get back. I don’t have to come inside.”

This was a pivotal moment and then it hit me…

Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened to you.

Tommy had always been a phone call or a knock away, but I never called or opened the door to let him in. As I stood there with my heart melting inside of my chest, I welcomed him into our home. From that moment on, I knew God was doing something big, I just didn’t know what.

As I dashed to my parents home, I barely remember the drive. Admittedly, I was afraid to find out if my intuition was correct. I didn’t know what I was about to walk into, so I prayed continually on the way. When I unlocked the door, I called out desperately wanting to hear my mother’s voice. But, all I could hear was stark silence. I ran into her room and found her lying lifeless in bed. I knew it was too late, but I began performing CPR anyway and screaming silently in my mind to her and to God in unison.

“You can’t leave me!”
“How will I live without you?”
“God, not now!”
“You can’t take her!”
“What am I supposed to do?”

Then the silence broke. I heard the Holy Spirit whisper, “You can do all things through Christ who gives you strength.”

Initially, my desperate cry to God for taking something away, turned out to be a monumental turning point in my marriage restoration. I look back on that evening and vividly remember the raging battle I was up against. I was resistant and even angry towards God. I didn’t understand why He had taken my mother so soon or how this devastating event would change the course of my life.

I had built up so many walls to protect myself against Tommy, but he was never my enemy. He was my covenant husband, desperately trying to love me in a way that wasn’t familiar. He was loving me like Christ loved the church, a way he hadn’t demonstrated love previously. He pursued me with kindness, and showed endless examples of sacrificial love.

I witnessed the changes God had made in Tommy’s life and in his heart, but I didn’t want to accept it at first. I continued to believe the lies from the enemy, wrongfully ascribing harmful intentions that were otherwise good. It took the death of my mother to be vulnerable again, and stop resisting God’s purposed path for my life.

I knew God was presenting me with a new creation in Tommy. He was kind, gentle, servant-hearted, tender, and full of the love of Christ. He had become the husband I had previously prayed for during our ten year marriage, and I realized it wasn’t too late. God was restoring and renewing our love for one another.

That late October evening, when my mother met her maker, I was reintroduced to my Savior, and my life was brought back into alignment with Christ. I miss my momma dearly, however, I know without a doubt she would have voluntarily laid down her life if she would have been privy to the miracle God was about to perform. He breathed new life into my marriage, and brought about beauty from the ashes. That night, the Holy Spirit poured out saving grace on me, and amidst the battle, spoke softly and lovingly in a manner that demanded my attention.

In Christ,
Amy Larson

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Christian Walk, Faith, Marriage, Uncategorized

We Walk by Faith, Not by Sight

Copy of We walk by faith, not by sight.

The day I had dreaded for over a year was finally upon me. The scheduled mediation where Amy and I would formally and legally divide our belongings was underway. My emotions were in tatters and I struggled to stay composed throughout the proceedings. Feelings of regret, despair, and disbelief all seemed to be consuming my heart and mind at the same time. The woman I had ten years earlier stood alongside in our marriage ceremony and had made an oath to never leave, was about to be legally removed from my side.

During the mediation I can remember pleading with God to intervene and stop what was taking place. I knew what His word said about divorce and couldn’t believe it was His perfect will that the events unfolding before my eyes were a part of His plan for my life, as well as the lives of my children and covenant wife. How could this be happening? Where was God?

Of course, even though I wasn’t “feeling” God’s presence at that moment, I know He was there. Since then, I’ve grown to understand that God’s silence does not mean his absence in our lives and circumstances. The miracle he had in store for Amy and I required this storm be weathered and endured. My faith in Him needed to be grown and cultivated. The “harvest” was not yet ready.

In 2 Corinthians 5:7 we read, “For we walk by faith, and not by sight.” This faith in the power of God to heal and restore was not always easy to believe in. In fact, my faith seemed to contradict all that was real at the time. And make no mistake, I was being verbally reminded by Amy and others of that painful reality on a regular basis. Despite this, the Lord was speaking to my heart and sustaining my spirit. He frequently reminded me of the numerous examples in Scripture where faith was tied to waiting and enduring. This brought me great comfort.

Could God have intervened in that attorney’s office and changed Amy’s heart in an instant? Of course He could have. But I believe in my heart that the power of Christ was demonstrated in a greater way after the judge’s verdict was handed down. It was as though an impenetrable fortress was allowed to be built by the enemy, only to have Almighty God bring it down in a swift and powerful way. It did not matter what had happened in the past or what the new normal appeared to be at the time. The same power that raised Christ from the dead, had the ability to resurrect a dead marriage.

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1

You may find yourself in a circumstance that seems hopeless. Perhaps you are going through a divorce, or just recently became divorced. Do not give up hope. Pray to the Father daily that His will be done in your life and in the lives of the ones you love. We know what the Lord desires for husbands, wives and families. Do not accept defeat or Satan’s lie that you will find your happiness by moving on or “getting over” your failed marriage. Your happiness and joy comes from Jesus Christ. Your identity is in Him. Submit to His will daily and pray in faith that God does what only He can do. Nothing is impossible with Him.

In Christ,
Tommy Larson

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Christian Walk, Forgiveness

Wanderer

05 - WandererGiven my love for hiking and outdoor adventures, I can relate to the words of J.R.R. Tolkien, “Not all those who wander are lost”. While this statement is true, speaking from experience, it is easy to get lost while wandering. About a year and half ago, a friend and I headed out for a six mile hike in the mountains. 2500 calories and twelve miles later, we finally found our way back to the trailhead. We had been completely and utterly lost!

It’s easy to take a couple of steps off the path to check out something you see in the distance. You have every intention of returning back to the path where you left it, but you can’t quite get your bearings. All the vegetation, trees and leaves look the same. You carefully navigate knowing your next steps can lead you closer to your destination or further and further away. It doesn’t take many missteps in the woods before you find yourself wandering aimlessly.

Wandering in the woods can often be like wandering through life. If you don’t have a guide or an inner compass, your steps lead you further away from your preferred destination. At one of the lowest points in my journey, during my and Tommy’s “pause”, I faced a situation where I genuinely feared for my life. I recall numerous warning signs and the Holy Spirit’s persistent voice telling me to run in the opposite direction in which I was headed. I had gotten myself into what seemed like a hopeless situation. I pleaded with God to offer me a way out, begging Him to protect me and allow me to see the light of day. That evening, God’s hand of protection delivered me from a personal experience in which the outcome could have been drastically different. That moment of lowliness I knew changes needed to be made in order to turn my life back into the care and comfort of Christ.

The path back to righteousness was not an easy one, but God gently guided me. It took some deep introspection and tearful conversations to determine which steps to take next. When you run towards God chances are you have to walk away from something else. In my life, it was friends that had been a part of my journey for years. Although I considered them my dearest companions, they had been leading me further away from God and ultimately out of His will instead of towards it. Turning to Christ may mean walking away from friends, jobs, hobbies or bad habits that keep you distanced from the Lord.

Dear friend, perhaps you are in a place in your life where you think there is no hope for you. You have been wandering for years, turning to the pleasures the world has to offer. No matter how far you have gotten off the path, it is never too late to turn around and run into the arms of the Savior! Allow Christ to be your trailblazer so you don’t end up hopelessly wandering through life.

The Lord is compassionate and merciful, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. He will not constantly accuse us, nor remain angry forever. He does not punish us for all our sins; he does not deal harshly with us, as we deserve. For his unfailing love toward those who fear him is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth. He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west. Psalm 103:8-12

In Christ,
Amy Larson

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Christian Walk

Delight Yourself in the Lord

04 - Delight Yourself in the LordDuring my marriage to Tommy, and prior to our “pause”, I prayed for his heart to soften and for his attitude towards me to become more like a representation of Christ’s love for the church. What I neglected to do was pray for myself and recognize my own sinful behavior. I spent so much time focusing on the speck in his eye that I refused to acknowledge the log in my own. (Luke 6:42)

Over time, when I hadn’t seen adequate change, I allowed my desire for a Godly husband to become an idol causing resentment and bitterness to take over my heart. While my desire was not sinful, the motivation for wanting this change on my terms eventually led to a hardened heart.

After pleading with God for years over the state of my marriage, He began the work of answering my prayers, but by that time I had thrown in the towel. I had given up on God and no longer had faith in God’s power to transform. My petitions had been heard all along and the Holy Spirit was transforming my husband right before my eyes, but I chose to ignore it because God’s timeline did not match my own.

Psalm 37:4 reads, “Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.” Many believe this means Christ will “grant our wishes”. This perspective places the emphasis on the second part of the verse instead of focussing our attention on the first half. In my situation, for example, I was not delighting myself in the Lord. My desires were no longer God’s desires, but born out of the flesh which catered to my own selfishness. God wants our idolatrous desires to be replaced with righteous ones.

It is not necessarily wrong to want a more Godly husband or wife. However, this desire can easily become an idol when we displace Jesus Christ as the object of our deepest yearning and affection. When things do not turn out like we want them to, frustration can lead to desperation. And, desperation often leads to sin. Our full devotion should be given to Christ because only He can bring the joy and fulfillment our hearts long for.

Dear friend, I want to challenge you this week to delight yourself in the Lord. Trust in His perfect timing, because He will make it worth the wait. Here are a few practical ways to do so.

  1. Seek to know God’s Word and obey it.
    (Matthew 6:33, Jeremiah 29:13, Psalm 119:2, 1 John 5:3)
  2. Set your heart on God, finding fulfillment and joy in Him.
    (John 15:9-11, Matthew 22:37)
  3. Learn to be content with what you have or do not have.
    (Philippians 4:11b-13)
  4. Give thanks regardless of your circumstances.
    (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

In Christ,
Amy Larson

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Christian Walk, Marriage

Holiness Before Happiness

Holiness 

Happiness

The great quest for mankind these days seems to be finding and obtaining lasting happiness. Whether it is coming from Hollywood or our close personal friends, the mindset that exalts personal happiness above all else has become ingrained into our thinking. Somehow we have bought into the notion that we “deserve” to be happy and are owed a stress free life. According to some, suffering, heartache and pain shouldn’t be things we experience as believers. After all, God wants us to be happy and filled with joy. But is this a Biblical worldview? It depends on where this joy is derived from.

While desiring peace and contentment in this life isn’t a bad thing for the believer, we are encouraged by Scripture to pursue holiness, not happiness. In James 1, we read: “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

I remember early on in my marriage stand being so woefully unhappy. I felt abandoned, hopeless and forsaken. The extreme sadness felt on a daily basis was something I simply couldn’t escape. But slowly, and only after much prayer, discipling, and constant study of Scriptures did I come to understand that suffering was actually a part of the growth process. I learned that it was because Christ loved me that suffering was allowed to occur. I know this likely doesn’t resonate with the unsaved. Sadly, this concept is lost on many professing Christians as well.

As the Lord was refining me and daily increasing my faith and dependence on Him, the enemy was using others to speak to what the Bible describes as an appeal to “itching ears”. I remember being told by well intentioned people to move on, find someone else to make me happy, take on a new hobby, etc… But these “words of wisdom” did not direct me to the source of true and lasting joy. I speak of the joy and peace that can only be found in the Lord Jesus Christ. It was this recognition that helped me stay focussed on the straight path and to not be swayed.

Hebrews 12:6 says, “For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” When my marriage had reached a breaking point, and had seemingly reached its’ end, I was at a point where my heart was actually hostile towards God. I had allowed all manner of evil to enter my life. Pride, anger, selfishness and a host of all other iniquities were ruling inside me. It was because of this, I was being severely disciplined. In the course of this, I was humbled and brought to a place of lowliness. I was broken down completely and made to see just how hard and calloused my heart and mind had become to God’s will.

As I better understood the Lord’s motive for doing what He was doing, I became more aware of His grace and love. Knowing how much I was loved by Him caused my heart to melt and my spirit to desire to be more like the One who had saved me. And while during the times of trial I longed for my marriage and family to be restored, I knew that my relationship with the Almighty needed to be the number one priority.

Dear friend, I know that suffering is difficult. Sometimes the pain can drive us to the point where we are willing to do anything to make it go away. But in our pursuit of peace and comfort, are we neglecting the Great Comforter? Are we following His words and teachings or are we seeking a “quick fix” to make everything better? I challenge you to go deeper in your walk with Christ. Allow the still small voice of the Holy Spirit to lead and guide you. Rather than listening to the voices in your head which tell you to get out and run away from the pain, speak the truth of the Word of God into your life and experience the transforming power of the Lord. As 1 Peter 1:16 states, “…You shall be holy, for I am holy.” As a follower of Christ, you must recognize this as a command, and not merely a suggestion.

In Christ,
Tommy Larson

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Divorce, Forgiveness, Healing and Reconciliation, Marriage

A Joyful Heart is Good Medicine

IMG_9494.pngSometimes God places people in our lives and we aren’t sure why. Other times we are privileged to view His divine intervention from the very start. I believe I speak for my friend Stephanie and myself when I say, “God purposed a time for us to reconnect.”

We had briefly been acquainted as she and her family were clients of mine back when I owned my photography business. Although we hadn’t been in contact for years, she followed my Instagram feed and messaged me when I posted a photo of Tommy’s new wedding band with the hashtag #restoredmarriage. Little did I know, she had been praying for me all along. It was apparent by my posts and my Instagram name change that my marriage had been on the rocks.

Unfortunately, her and her husband were (and still are) separated and she was looking for someone to connect with that could understand her situation, offer insight and hope. Being separated or divorced, especially when you are not pursuing this direction for your life, can be very lonely at times. The truth is your friends and family members may not know what to say or how to support you. For those standing for their marriages, especially in the case of adultery, well, you are just completely crazy! Whether your friends believe that or not, it is often the lie Satan plants in your mind to keep you feeling secluded and abandoned. Given the circumstances at the time, having gone through a divorce and in the process of remarrying my covenant husband, I landed at the top of the “understanding friend’s list”.

The unique relationship Stephanie and I formed has bonded us for life. Her simple comment on IG and the deep friendship we formed after was a catalyst for starting Purposed Marriage. It was also a milestone in her life as it was the first time she stepped out of her comfort zone and was obedient to God without hesitation. More often than not, He calls us to a place where we are uncomfortable so we will grow our faith and completely depend on him. Sometimes that means shedding light on our darkest moments in order to help others.

Stephanie and I have come alongside each other, prayed together, cried together, broken bread together and loved one another through it all. The journey isn’t always easy, but prayer, friends and a joyful heart is good medicine for when the road gets rocky! The alternative… a crushed spirit, which drys up the bones. (Proverbs 17:22)

I’m so thankful for Stephanie’s friendship as well as others like her that God has placed along my and Tommy’s path. Perhaps you can relate to her story and are desperately looking for hope. I can promise you one thing, Christ is your ONLY hope. He will never leave you nor forsake you!

In Christ,
Amy Larson

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Divorce, Forgiveness, Healing and Reconciliation, Marriage

I Have Purposed

01 - I Have Purposed - Blog Entry Graphic (1)

Calling a bird of prey from the east, the man of my counsel from a far country. I have spoken, and I will bring it to pass; I have purposed, and I will do it.  Isaiah 46:11

A few months into my marriage stand, things were not looking very good. The prospects of restoration were becoming further and further out of reach. By then, I had moved out of the house and communication between Amy and I had been reduced to text messages and brief phone calls usually revolving around when our kids would be exchanged.

These were trying times for me. My heart was hurting and there was no escape from the constant pain and emptiness. It was during this time that the Lord was drawing me closer to himself. I was being refined, but the refining fire He was using was extremely painful. (Hebrew 12:6)

One night I had gone to the Lord in prayer. I prayed desperately for my marriage to be restored and for our family to become whole again. It was a particularly intense prayer involving many tears and groans that only the Holy Spirit understood. After this prayer, I fell asleep. A couple hours later I was awakened to pray once more. Again, I prayed for restoration and healing in my marriage. I also prayed that God would be glorified in my life and through the testing I was enduring. I fell asleep while praying.

Suddenly, around 2:00 in the morning I was awakened once more. This time was different. I was completely alert and a Scripture reference had entered my mind. I heard it repeated over and over inside my head. I wasn’t familiar with the passage, but knew the Lord was leading me to his Word for a specific reason. I reached for my cell phone and hurriedly opened a Bible app. I searched the reference that had been given to me, Isaiah 46:11. Upon reading, I had a very real sense of comfort. It was as though God was speaking directly to me. In reality, He was. “… I will bring it to pass; I have purposed, and I will do it.”

The next morning, I shared this encounter with a few others including my pastors. I had no doubt the Lord had chosen to answer my prayer and had used this divine encounter to increase my faith. I was challenged to not give up, despite what was coming.

Throughout the next several months, circumstances went from bad to worse. Our divorce eventually went through despite all efforts to postpone and delay. By worldly accounts, I had lost. But I never forgot the verse I was given that one night. I determined to rely on the Lord for everything and to live my life in such a way that would bring honor and glory to Christ. He challenged me daily to reach out in love to Amy by showing acts of kindness, humility and sacrifice; regardless of how difficult and painful it was. He was essentially teaching me to live and act the way He did when he lived here on this earth. This was the complete opposite of the way I had been for most of the ten years of our marriage.

I believed in my heart that the Lord was going to do something special, but I didn’t know when. Regardless of whether a reconciliation and healing occurred in this life or the next, I knew I was to be obedient and to continue to pray God’s will be done in the life of my family.

Fast forward six months. I was by myself and getting ready to go for a run. The sun had nearly gone down as I had just taken a few steps of my warm up walk. I looked ahead at the path in front of me and not 10 feet away came a magnificent owl gliding past my head. I watched it fly off into the sunset. Immediately, the verse the Lord had given me many months ago came to my mind. It all became very clear. “…Calling a bird of prey from the east.” The owl is a bird of prey. It flew in front of me from the east. “The man of my counsel from a far country…” I had been counseling with my pastor. He had been a missionary in China before coming back to the states to serve. “… I have purposed, and I will do it.” Two months later, the Lord worked His miracle and suddenly changed my covenant spouse’s heart. My prayers had been answered.

This passage was a gift to me and my family. It stands as the foundation of our ministry. Indeed it stands as the foundation for all of our lives as believers.

Dear friend, you may find yourself hurting and confused. You may find yourself in a marriage that seems hopeless to save. Perhaps you have even experienced the pain of divorce. Know this. God loves you and has a plan and purpose for your life. Keep your eyes on Him. Do not waiver. Pray that His will be done in your life and in the life of your spouse. God’s revealed will for all our lives is found in His Word. Trust in Him with all your spirit and strength. Allow the Lord to increase your faith by trusting in Him fully, and do not be ruled by the emotions that can so easily deceive and confuse our hearts.

May the Lord bless you and your family.

In Christ,
Tommy Larson

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