Marriage

Standing for God’s Glory

Suffering while standing for the cause of oneness and reconciliation is a heavy burden to bear. The emotional toll taken on those willingly turning the other cheek and extending grace in the face of constant rejection, ridicule and hostility inevitably results in a painful existence where moments of peace and happiness are few and far between. When thinking about our own suffering and the challenges faced on a near daily basis, one should consider the role of suffering as it fits into God’s plan, and how this is ultimately used to bring glory to the Lord and to His kingdom.

A perfect example of someone who suffered greatly in life for the express purpose of God being glorified comes from a familiar passage in Scripture. In John 9, we read the story of Jesus healing the man born blind. Before Jesus performs His miracle, the disciples asked Him why the man was in that condition. They wrongly assumed it was a direct result of something either the man or his parents did. Jesus’ response was shocking.

It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.”

john 9:3

You may be wondering why you are continually suffering for the sake of a spouse who has checked out or expressed a desire to completely leave you and your marriage. If you find yourself in this position, it’s possible your stand and time remaining faithful to an unfaithful spouse has been going on for years. But consider the man Jesus healed. His entire life up to that point had been defined by suffering, hardship and a longing to be made whole. His blindness was placed upon him for one reason; the glorification of God Himself. One might ask if it was fair this man had to endure a life of suffering so at that very moment Jesus could be given glory. You may be asking the same thing about your stand, but keep in mind this man was singled out and chosen by God for the express purpose of growing His kingdom. Many who witnessed this miracle were amazed by God’s power and believed in Jesus from that point on. Long after the healed man passed from this life into the next, his story and the role he played in God’s plan to glorify himself lives on and is a testimony of Christ’s enduring compassion, mercy and power to transform and heal.

When you are faithfully standing for your marriage and honoring the vows made on your wedding day, you are honoring the Lord. The testimony of the power living within that has sustained you up to this point is a witness to the One making it all possible. It may be difficult to understand the why’s and how’s of this tribulation you are going through, but when you examine it in the context of Christ’s glorification, the picture becomes much clearer.

Dear friends, we understand the suffering you face is very real and the normalcy of everyday struggles and challenges taking place right now would likely not be missed if God was to suddenly remove them. But during this season in the valley, ask the Lord to help you better understand why it is you are going through what you are. When others around you witness your stand and commitment in the face of strong adversity, they can’t help at some point to be amazed at the displayed level of dedication as they wonder where it came from. When this occurs, don’t hesitate for one moment to reveal the source. And think of the reactions that will occur when restoration finally happens. God’s glory will be magnified exponentially! Until that time, remain faithful to the Word of God and purpose in your heart and mind to stand for Him and for His glory alone.

In Christ,
Tommy Larson

Divorce, Healing and Reconciliation, Marriage

The Hope of the Cross

The twelve disciples were taught by the greatest teacher and leader who walked the earth. When Jesus called them to drop everything and set out on mission with Him, I’m not sure they knew just how extraordinary of an adventure it would be. It was met with miracles, healings and teachings that defied logic. They knew Jesus was the Son of God, and were witnesses to the mighty power He possessed. Yet, in the end, Matthew 26:56 tells us the disciples left Him and fled. Peter with deep aggravation and profane cursing denied Christ three times and Judas betrayed Jesus for thirty pieces of silver.

Jesus personally suffered through a tremendous amount of pain and experienced devastating grief. The betrayal by those He walked with side by side and was closest to was no surprise to Him. And, this is where we see the beauty of Christ’s character. Jesus knew they would turn their backs on Him, but still chose to devote His life to teaching them and poured out His love into their lives daily.

But all this has taken place that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled. Then all the disciples left him and fled. Matthew‬ ‭26:56‬ ‭

Dear friend, in your marriage circumstances, you may be suffering from an overwhelming sense of hopelessness. This Easter, take time to reflect on the hope of the Cross and the ultimate demonstration of restoration the world has ever known.

In Christ,
Amy Larson

Divorce, Forgiveness, Healing and Reconciliation, Marriage

Stand in the Gap

Stand in the Gap

It was exactly two years ago that my and Tommy’s journey took a turn in the complete opposite direction in which it was headed. We were divorced, living in separate houses and sharing custody of our boys when a God-sized event woke me up to the reality of our situation. My mom, with whom I was very close, passed away unexpectedly. Just as unexpectedly, someone I viewed as an enemy became an unlikely hero. Losing a loved one can alter your perspective on life dramatically and God used my mom’s passing to show me what truly mattered in life: the value of love, commitment, and my covenant to God as well as to my husband.

For the first time since our separation, I wasn’t hostile towards Tommy, but rather I was accepting of his love. The walls around my heart began to crumble. It’s not that he was doing anything differently or loving me more than he had in the past, it was my perspective of his actions that had changed. I allowed him to take care of me and comfort me like no other human could. Only Tommy understood the hurt and pain the boys and I were enduring because he was there, bearing the burden with us. We all lost someone special in our lives that day, including my covenant husband.

I never saw the death of my beloved mother coming and I certainly hadn’t planned for what life would be like without her. But, God knew and had prepared my heart before it ever happened. He had also prepared Tommy’s heart by teaching him to patiently wait on the Lord. Tommy became a hero not because he possessed super powers or wore a cape, but because he had continually been obedient and listened to God’s prompting. He stood in the gap for nearly two years prior to this event waiting and looking to Heaven for the appointed time God had set aside for him. When that time came, Tommy stood up and stepped in to love me in a mighty way.

I looked for someone among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found no one.
Ezekiel‬ ‭22:30‬

I’m so thankful when God looked for someone to stand in the gap for me, He saw Tommy. He interceded on my behalf and held me up so the enemy could not gain an advantage over me. Even in the difficult times, Tommy loved enough for both of us and believed God would work a miracle in our broken marriage. God used an unexpected event in my life to capture my attention and to lead me to repentance. He also used the death of my mother to restore me to Himself as well as restore me to the love of my life.

Dear friend, if you are standing in the gap for your loved one, I want to encourage you to continue your stand. You may be the only one fighting on your loved one’s behalf. Perhaps your God-sized event is just around the corner.

In Christ,
Amy Larson

Anger, Couseling, Divorce, Healing and Reconciliation, Marriage, Suffering

Godly Grief Produces Repentance

Repentance

I’ve recently had conversations on a subject I wish I never had to address. Domestic violence makes my heart cringe because of the profound pain and severe damage it ensues. It’s terribly heartbreaking and difficult to discuss, but it can also be challenging because of the fear, stigma and misinformation that surrounds it.

There tends to be a prevailing notion that this is a male issue. However, domestic violence does not discriminate and is carried out by both males and females and plagues many families today. Studies have shown that in our home state of Tennessee, 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have experienced some form of physical violence by their partner.1 These numbers are alarming and even more so when we consider the numerous cases that go unreported every year. Although many of us may shy away from this sensitive subject, we need to address it with great care from a biblical perspective.

Perhaps part of the problem is an unawareness and a confusion of how to handle this issue.  When engaged in discussion regarding domestic violence, I often hear the same two disconcerting narratives. One is the belief the abused must remain in the home, pray harder and trust God will take care of them. The other is to never return home because the abuser will always be an abuser.

Sending someone into harm’s way and advising them to “pray harder and trust God to take care them” is reckless and unwise counsel. Although there is an element of truth, we need to trust the sovereign care of the Lord, it ignores other biblical commands such as Psalms 82:4 and Proverbs 24:11. “Rescue the weak and needy, deliver them from the hand of the wicked.” “Rescue those who are being taken away to death; hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter.” As Christians, we have a responsibility to rescue our brothers and sisters especially when they are vulnerable and weary in spirit.

While we should be diligent in not placing someone in an unsafe situation, we should also be interested in their pursuit of reconciliation in their relationship (2 Cor. 13:11). Scripture proves time and time again the Holy Spirit is fully capable of changing hearts and lives no matter how detestable the sins of someone’s past. There is ample evidence in the life of Saul who later became the Apostle Paul. God also changed the hearts of Moses, Rahab, and Zacchaeus as well as a multitude of others. We should never limit the transforming power of the Holy Spirit by believing some people are incapable of change.

If there are indicators of godly sorrow: earnestness, vindication, indignation, fear, longing, zeal, avenging of wrong, innocence in the matter (2 Cor. 7:11), that’s a good sign to carefully move towards restoration. A heartfelt conviction and a deep sadness as a result of the sins that were committed demonstrates a repentant heart.

For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.
‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭7:10‬

On the other hand, if someone has been violent and remains unrepentant, we need to recognize this as a serious problem. When a violator shows no remorse, often times there needs to be a season of separation. This will allow the abuser to work on restoring their relationship with God as well as establish trust with the person they abused. At any time, if there is a sense of danger, or we become aware of someone in danger, we need to involve law enforcement. When violence occurs, not only is it a sin against God and the abused, it is also a crime against the state and needs to be dealt with by the proper authorities.

Dear friend, if you are suffering the painful effects of domestic violence or know someone who is, please do not be afraid to speak up and ask for help. Abuse is abhorrent in the eyes of God because it opposes the very nature of His character. His plan for relationships, particularly those among family, is meant to be a beautiful depiction of God’s love for us. Our desire should mimic the Lord’s desire which is for those involved in domestic abuse to seek healing and full restoration by both the abuser and the abused.

In Christ,
Amy Larson


1. National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. “Domestic Violence in Tennessee.” NCADV.org. https://www.speakcdn.com/assets/2497/tennessee.pdf (accessed August 24, 2018).

Christian Walk, Divorce, Healing and Reconciliation, Marriage

Be Authentic

good

The authenticity of your marriage stand if not 100% genuine, will be evident to your prodigal. If your motivation for wanting reconciliation does not come from a heart that is fully devoted to God and keeping His covenant, chances are your running spouse will continue to run. The most effective way to gain your loved one’s attention is to live out your devotion to the Lord in an active pursuit of holiness. Nothing will speak to your prodigal in a more profound manner than when you remain malleable and cooperate with the Holy Spirit to bring about transformation in your life.

As you grow more deeply connected to Christ, your pursuit can’t help but be demonstrated by modeling a love for your prodigal they have never seen before through acts of kindness and service. God can use your marriage stand to tear down the walls that have been erected no matter the heights. But, your desire for an intimate relationship with Him must precede your desire for reconciliation. When it does, your prodigal will take notice. Unfortunately, this does not mean your loved one will take action immediately. It may take weeks, months or even years.

God softened Tommy’s heart rather quickly into his stand. Shortly after our separation he began biblical counseling and addressing some deep issues that plagued our marriage. As he was seeking help, and attempting to explain the transformation God was performing in his heart and life, I cast it off as excuses. After ten years of hearing the same promise for change, I was no longer interested in seeing if he was sincere in his claims. Even though he owned his faults and was taking responsibility for his actions, I was incapable of witnessing any true changes because I had grown calloused.

There was a much needed growth process for both of us and God had some refining work to do in our lives before we were to be reconciled. Over time, as Tommy matured in his faith, he developed a deeper understanding of how to better love me. When I recognized his walk with the Lord was authentic and his genuine love for me was a reflection of His love for Christ, I was compelled by the Holy Spirit to be more receptive to his true motivations.

Tommy showed me what he valued by how he invested his time. During his nearly two year stand, he made it clear that his covenant to God was the first priority and his covenant to me was second. I’m so grateful he did not give up on our marriage and allowed the light of Christ to shine through him so brightly that everyone took notice, eventually even me. Although I will never fully understand because I did not walk in Tommy’s shoes, now that we have been reunited, I can comprehend how painstakingly difficult it was for him to endure the heartache he suffered for the sake of our covenant. We could not reach restoration until our hearts had been healed and transformed.

For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
Hebrews 12:11

Dear friend, there is a purpose and a design for what is happening in your life. As God disciplines, teaches and corrects you, trust Him through the process. How amazing will it be to look back one day and see how God used the darkest hours of your stand to shine light into the hardened heart of your loved one? Be strong and take courage.

In Christ,
Amy Larson

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

Zero Shades of Grey

zero

When defending my decision to divorce, one of the phrases I used often was, “The Bible is full of areas of grey.” It’s also a phrase I’ve heard others use since starting our marriage ministry. For me, it was a tactic to divert the attention away from myself and onto Tommy. I ascribed greyness in my pursuit of divorce, at the same time condemning Tommy for his past failures and defining them as black and white.

It was also a convenient way to shut down the conversation before it ever began, so I wouldn’t have to face the fact that I hadn’t done everything possible to make my marriage work. During our pause, I refused to attend Biblical couples counseling, neglected to talk with any pastors or church staff members, nor was I willing to allow God to help me forgive Tommy, although he was desperately seeking my forgiveness. I’ve found the majority of people that bring up areas of grey are those looking for loopholes in Scripture. Those wanting to justify their sin or provide a less guilty conscience for themselves tout the Bible as being foggy.

Reality was Tommy had been humbly broken before the Lord, submitting to the Holy Spirit and changed from the inside out. Although I saw clear evidence of God leading his life in the direction of holiness, I felt it was my right to condemn his sinful actions from the past. But, I had forgotten Romans 8:1: “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those that are in Christ Jesus.” Instead of trying to guilt and shame my husband for his past behavior, I should have been seeking God and asking for His help to bring about reconciliation in my marriage.

Although I claimed to have forgiven Tommy, it was clear I had not by continually condemning him and bringing up his past transgressions . Forgiveness in my eyes meant saying a string of words (I forgive you), then proceeding with divorce. It looked like having a stranger knock on his apartment door unexpectedly to hand him a manila envelope followed by one simple phrase, “you have been served.” It was my push for divorce that left Tommy desperately heartbroken and confused at his front door that day trying to figure out how he could walk back inside and pretend like everything was okay in front of our boys.

Is that what forgiveness looks like to you? Is that the representation of Christ’s forgiveness in Scripture? True forgiveness was Jesus taking the sin of the world upon His shoulders, being beaten, bloody and bruised while hanging on the cross with a spear-pierced side and nail-pierced hands and feet. Forgiveness was Jesus crying out to the father in Heaven, “forgive them for they know not what they do,” as the soldiers cast lots to divide His garments at the foot of the cross. Forgiveness was Christ looking over to the thief hanging beside Him just before He took his last breath, assuring him, “today you shall be with me in paradise.” It’s about giving a second, a third and a fourth chance. It’s not seven times, but seventy times seven repeatedly forgiving the sinner that has sincerely asked for forgiveness.

How could I reconcile a decision that honors God when He makes it very clear that he hates divorce? I couldn’t because the Bible is in fact very black and white. It is true, the Bible doesn’t address every specific issue we may face in life. However, it does provide principles we should live our lives by to govern our thoughts and actions. When we examine our choices through the prism of God’s Word, we’ll find zero shades of grey.

There are a number of questions we can ask ourselves that will help bring clarity to our decision making. Will this help me grow spiritually? Is this harmful to me or to others? Will this decision cause my brothers or sisters to stumble? Of all the questions, I think the most important to ask is, will this decision bring glory and honor to God. We were created uniquely in the likeness of God to bring glory to Himself.

Therefore, whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
1 Corinthians 10:31

Are you pleasing God and striving for holiness or are you lost in areas of grey, excusing your behavior and rebelling against our Heavenly Father?

In Christ,
Amy 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

 

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, 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, 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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