Christian Walk, Faithfulness, Marriage

God’s Goodness

Our lives are often viewed with the wrong perspective. We dwell on the things we don’t have instead of being grateful for the things given to us. Looking back in Genesis, Adam and Eve did the same thing. They fixated on the tree’s fruit they could not eat paying no attention to the bountiful forest right in front of them. The serpent easily persuaded them because they began to doubt God’s promises for their lives and lost perspective.

How often does this happen in our marriages? Something or someone captures our attention and we get easily distracted. We look to our friends and family to see what they have and where we may be lacking. Maybe we even get caught up in the world of social media and start playing the comparison game in our hearts and minds. Before we know it, we are coveting our neighbors and wishing for a life other than our own.

This may destroy more marriages quicker than anything else. When doubting God’s goodness, it is likely we have raised our problems as our highest reality rather than God’s Word. In such cases, a change of perspective is needed so we may view our problems through the lens of scripture. We need to be mindful that Satan still uses the same tactics he used with Adam and Eve, he just repackages the lie and delivers it by a different messenger.

Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!
Psalms‬ ‭34:8‬ ‭

Dear friend,
Don’t believe the lie that God’s goodness applies to everyone but you! Today I want to encourage you to believe in God’s goodness and trust He has His loving arms wrapped around you. In your time of trouble, don’t hide like Adam and Eve, but run to our Heavenly Father with open arms. If you are in a season of waiting, be patient and take refuge in Him knowing and expecting God to deliver on all of the promises He has for you. Chances are without the troubles, you may not come to fully appreciate the promises He has given.

In Christ,
Amy Larson

Divorce, Faith, Faithfulness, Forgiveness, Marriage

A Letter to God

During the painful and lonely days of standing for my marriage, there were times when I felt I couldn’t go on another day. The heartache of knowing my wife had left the marriage and the strained relationship that now existed between my children and I were oftentimes too burdensome to bare. It was during these times I poured my energies into writing personal journal entries. As I reflect back on the writings, so much of it could be described as me simply voicing my thoughts and feelings to God. I would ask questions of the Lord and wondered if He was even hearing me. From the standpoint of being able to release the pain and vocalize the suffering I was experiencing inwardly, these writing exercises proved to be quite therapeutic and emotionally beneficial. The most comforting moments came when the Holy Spirit would remind me of His promises as He directed my heart back towards the Word and His eternal message of hope.

The following is from a journal entry of mine dated July 13, 2016. I submit it here to serve as an example of the hurt and emptiness I was experiencing that the Lord, in His faithfulness, eventually delivered me through.

It has been a week now since I’ve seen the boys and Amy. And while I did go to the house yesterday to drop off a meal, I didn’t see anyone. Since they returned, Amy hasn’t initiated any contact. I feel abandoned, isolated and completely forsaken. Lord, I call upon you now. Be my all in all. May I depend solely on You. Bring me to a deeper understanding of your love. Help me to know and love You more. All I have is in You. Hear my cries oh Lord. Do not cast me aside and forsake me. Father, I seek your will. To lead, love and serve like a Christian husband and father should. I overhear conversations from the lost world as they speak of divorce, visitation rights, and child support. It’s wicked. You do not will these things in our lives. How long will Amy hold onto anger and unforgiveness against me? Lord, touch her heart. Right now it is like stone. Only You can change this. Help me Lord. I hurt all day and night.

Casting all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you.  1 Peter 5:7

There were many times I did not feel cared for, valued or loved. When I found myself in those circumstances, it was usually the result of a negative interaction between my spouse and myself. Too often, instead of going to the Lord and spending time in His Word, I would dwell on the things that were said or done and retreat to a place that existed in my mind where the reality of my suffering took center stage. Thankfully, even in those moments, the Holy Spirit was there to constantly remind me of the 24/7 access to His promises and assurances ever present in His Holy Word. When I made the conscious decision to stop thinking about my circumstances and focus instead on the blessings I’d already been given, as well as the hope I had in Christ, the sooner my outlook, perspective and emotional mood changed.

As I began to regularly journal, the Lord would oftentimes guide me past the pain as the words would flow from my pen. The more I wrote and released the inner suffering, the more I sensed the presence of the Holy Spirit as I felt the weight of my burden being lightened as He took the yolk upon Himself. What a Savior we serve! Not only is He the Wonderful Counselor, but He is a real friend and encouragement when we need Him the most. Standers, as you suffer for the sake of Christ, remember that He is always right there beside you. He desires to hear and listen to you. Whether you reach out to Him through handwritten entries in your journal or speak to Him in times of prayer, I encourage you to fully give your burden over to Jesus. He is the only one able to sufficiently minister to your heart and mind during these times of trial and tribulation. In Him there is hope and rest!

In Christ,
Tommy Larson

 

Authority, Divorce, Faith, Faithfulness, Healing and Reconciliation, Marriage

The Ultimate Judge

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For the Lord Almighty has purposed, and who can thwart him? His hand is stretched out, and who can turn it back? Isaiah 14:27

While the Lord has appointed rulers, judges and political administrations to govern over the affairs of men, there is a limit to their authority. Decrees, verdicts and judgments handed out by those in power carry with them an aura of finality and settledness. Indeed, when the words of a judge are spoken, the trajectory a person’s life path is forever altered. That is, unless a higher authority intervenes.

The more we read Scripture and better equipped we become to understand the power and sovereignty of the Father, the greater perspective we have on events that happen here on this earth and in our own lives. As a stander for my marriage, even when the divorce decree was handed down that “dissolved” my marriage, my conviction to live faithfully to the covenant bride the Lord joined me together with, remained steadfast and unwavering. It wasn’t a matter of not recognizing the authority of the judge who issued the decree. Rather, it was the knowledge of a “higher” authority that kept me on the straight and narrow and obedient to the vows and covenant that was made over ten years earlier. I give thanks to God for equipping me, through His grace, to press on and stay the course. It was not easy.

Recently, I had a phone conversation with a stander living in another part of the state. Prior to this specific talk, I had sensed a weariness and sadness in his spirit as the court date for his divorce drew near. By this time, there was literally nothing my friend could have done to delay the proceedings or to persuade his prodigal wife to abandon her plans. Despite this, my friend continued to pray and believe in faith that the Lord was working.

As the days continued, the weekend before the trial had arrived. My friend decided to go through his mail and catchup on matters that needed attention. Low and behold, in that stack of letters was a notification informing him the court date had to be moved due to an “emergency case” his wife’s attorney couldn’t avoid. As a result, he would not be divorced on the day the judge had declared. This dramatic change of events resulted in a marriage that remains intact and will so for the remainder of this year. Praise God! But what is so encouraging about this news was the fact that the judge had denied my friend’s request to delay the proceedings and was adamant the trial would occur on a specific date. In other words, “Your marriage will end on this date, and there is nothing you can do about it!” But God intervened! It didn’t matter this particular judge said the divorce would happen on a certain date. A more powerful judge decided it wouldn’t!

All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, But He does according to His will in the host of heaven And among the inhabitants of earth; And no one can ward off His hand Or say to Him, ‘What have You done?’ Daniel 4:35

While the above example is a great encouragement to standers and those praying for restoration, we must be careful to recognize that it is the power of God which thwarts the intentions of man and that we are held to account for our submission to authority while in this world. Consider the Old Testament story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and the fiery furnace.  They were sentenced to a horrific death by King Nebuchadnezzar, yet despite this, these faithful servants of the Lord did not resist what was coming. If their circumstances were to change, it could only be done as a result of God’s supreme power and divine intervention. And indeed it was. God protected and saved the three Hebrew men resulting in glory being brought to Himself. God willed his faithful followers be subject to the demands of the wicked Babylonian king and in so doing, accomplished his ultimate purposes.

Our takeaway from this story is the challenge to remain faithful to God, while at the same time staying obedient to human authorities. We cannot prevent our prodigals from pursuing the path that ultimately leads to destruction. We can put up roadblocks and resist things we know to be sinful. Legally speaking, I did everything in my power to delay our divorce and postpone the inevitable. I understood though, that even if the divorce went through, God still was in control and Amy’s heart could be changed. As that dreadful day came and went, it became crystal clear that it was going to be the power of God alone and His authority that would overrule and restore a marriage an earthly judge had dissolved.  And that’s exactly what happened in God’s perfect timing.

Dear friends, this time of year is very challenging for standers. It’s especially hard to remain positive and cheerful in the face of a troubled marriage headed down the wrong path. But be encouraged! If this season is a reminder of anything, it is that God is a big believer in restoration and reconciliation. In fact, the gift of His Son is exactly that; the ultimate sacrifice which reconciled a sinful people to a holy God.

May the Lord bless and encourage you this Christmas season!

In Christ,
Tommy Larson

Christian Walk, Divorce, Healing and Reconciliation, Marriage

God’s Ways are Higher

HighEr (1)

During our pause, when Tommy was actively pursuing restoration, one thing he often reminded me was our marriage would never be the same. What he meant was our marriage could be so much more than I ever imagined. It would never go back to being the loveless marriage that lacked passion as it did in previous years. If we reconciled, we wouldn’t be two strangers merely coexisting in a shared space. Tommy assured me His heart had been transformed and he longed for the same oneness I desired. He spoke about loving me and serving as the dedicated leader, protector and provider our family needed.

It took a while before I listened, and even longer to trust him and recognize the sincerity of his claims. I knew he meant what he said because it wasn’t a rehearsed speech, rather, it was detailed and heartfelt. I could hear the emotions in the tone of his voice as he talked about our future together. When he addressed the subject of reconciliation, it was never discussed with selfish motives or intent. It was always approached from a perspective that sought to love and serve me. Tommy believed we could have the beautiful, loving relationship God intended, and the more passionate he was, the more I started believing in his vision.

Admittedly, I did not welcome his ideas at first. But, God used Tommy’s foresight and persistence to chip away my hardened heart and I began envisioning a second chance for our marriage. He prayed fervently for me, constantly seeking to stay attuned to the voice of the Holy Spirit and would only talk about our future together when he felt prompted. He asked God to soften my heart and looked for opportunities to share especially when he knew I had an openness and willingness to listen.

I needed to hear Tommy wanted to start afresh, with no desire to return to the marriage in the state we left it. At the time, I did not think it was possible to rekindle our relationship because it was seemingly dead. But, Praise the Lord, God’s thoughts are not my thoughts nor are His ways my ways.

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:8-9

Our gracious Heavenly Father exceeded every expectation I had for my marriage. When God restored our relationship, He gave Tommy and I a double portion of love for one another and ignited a passion in us that I didn’t know could exist. Every trait I desired in a husband was fulfilled in Tommy because his attributes were lining up with those of Christ.

When I was fully immersed in my sin, I looked at Tommy with contempt and ambivalence. Thankfully, Tommy had an army of warriors praying for me and my attempts to ignore the Holy Spirit were weakened due to their prayers on my behalf. I was convicted and soon the strongholds in my life were no longer holding me captive. The veil was lifted from my eyes and I saw Tommy as the changed man he had become, as well as the soulmate I had always desired.

Dear friends, I cannot express the importance of praying for your partner and building a network of prayer warriors to intercede on their behalf. You may find yourself in the same situation we were in years ago when all hope seemed lost in reviving our relationship. I want to encourage you to pray for your loved one and stay attuned the the Holy Spirit’s prompting. When you feel led, share a few details of how God has changed your heart–talk about what life could be like in the future. Of course, you don’t want to overwhelm your loved one, but little reminders of a bright, new future may inspire your partner to start envisioning life with you instead of without you. Never underestimate the power of prayer. Even when things look hopeless, the good news is, our ways are not God’s ways. His ways are higher so let’s leave the big tasks in the hands of our mighty Father.

In Christ,
Amy Larson

Marriage, Suffering

Suffering for Christ

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Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. Romans 5:3–5

For standers (those seeking marriage restoration), one of the most difficult things to deal with and work through is the pain inflicted upon us by those taken captive by the enemy. Our spouse’s hurtful words and actions born out of anger, bitterness, and resentment have the power to put us in precarious and vulnerable emotional and mental states. Compounding the problem is the fact that while enduring the pain, we are filled with disbelief and confusion, as we attempt to reconcile how someone with whom we are joined in a marriage covenant can openly attack and wish us harm.

Leading up to our divorce, there were times I looked into Amy’s eyes and didn’t recognize her. It was a though the woman I married had been replaced by someone I had never known. My words of love and sacrificial acts of service were often laughed at, ignored and in some cases, openly mocked. I can’t express how painful this was. Those fighting for their marriage and dealing with a spouse hell bent on breaking their covenant, can attest to how vicious and cruel these same words and deeds can be. However, when you consider our prodigal spouses are willingly pursuing what God hates, we shouldn’t be surprised that the manner in which they chase after this evil plan will be marked by callousness, insensitivity, and anger. To put it another way, we should expect to be persecuted for our stand.

So what then are we to make of this? What are we to do when we are wrongfully attacked, accused and threatened? The Scriptures are not silent. In fact, there is much God’s word has to say about suffering; especially suffering for the sake of Christ.

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.  If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. 1 Peter 4:12–14

Throughout my painful stand, the Holy Spirit continued to impress upon my heart to persevere and endure the refining fires I was called to walk through. I was being allowed to suffer so as to cause genuine spiritual growth in my own heart and life. The more I understood this, the more I became aware of the suffering Christ endured on my behalf. The love, mercy and grace poured out upon each of us by God, should instill in us an even deeper commitment and resolve to pursue our spouses in their darkened spiritual condition.

Pastor Tim Keller has said, “Jesus Christ did not suffer so that you would not suffer. He suffered so that when you suffer, you’ll become more like him. The gospel does not promise you better life circumstances; it promises you a better life.” How true these words are!

Your suffering now is for a reason. It is also for a season. You don’t need to know how long you must endure or when the pain will be lessened. Rather, you need to be aware that the Lord seeks to draw you closer and to transform your identity into one that mirrors the sacrificial and loving example Christ Jesus set for us. It is when our own hearts become broken and made humble before the Lord that true and meaningful growth is poised to take root.

Standers, continue to allow the Lord to transform you during this time of fiery trials. Hold fast to His Word and promises. Know that one day, you will be rewarded for your faithfulness and devotion to Him. And as you suffer for the sake of the Gospel, know that Christ shares in your suffering with and alongside you.

In Christ,
Tommy Larson

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

 

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, 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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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

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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