Are We Letting Men of the Hook?

Hi there beautiful ladies

Happy New Year to you and your families! May 2017 be your year of joy, blessings, and freedom in Christ.

I’m shocked to see that I last wrote here to wish you all a Happy 2016. Believe me, I had all the intentions of writing at least one post a month this past year, but alas, it was not possible. The good news is that I am chipping away at my studies. Next year this time I will be getting ready to graduate and I can not wait to get back to blogging, webinars, talking to all of you on the forum, and of course, adding some one-on-one professional counseling for those who may need it.

Now back to the question: Are We Letting Men of the Hook?

Tony and I had been married for 24 years this past December, and a few days before our anniversary I had an interesting conversation with a group of very intelligent and beautiful young women at my college. We were talking about marriage and dating and they all agreed that we (our society) are letting men who are emotionally unavailable off the hook too easily by stereotyping their behavior as “typical male” or “something women should simply accept”.

I definitely saw their point, especially for the men of my generation (Baby Boomers and GenXers). I think that the Millennials are doing a better job at this because guys are expected to be more in touch with their emotions and to work harder at understanding the women in their lives. Also, for the most part, it seems that they agree with this and are happy to do it (I asked my sons).

However, I felt a pang of shame as the truth hit me: I am totally letting my husband off the hook (translate forgive and let things go) all the time! Like so many men of my generation, my guy is pretty much emotionally unavailable. Nine out of ten times he does not know how to react to my emotions and claims to have no clue what it is that I want or need him to say.

This kept bothering me: Why do I do it? Do I have a dependent personality disorder? Am I willing to put up with everything just because I need a man in my life? Am I a doormat? Am I settling for less than I deserve? Do I put my own needs on the back burner to avoid conflict?

In order to process my own questions, and also to justify my 24 years of “letting things go”,  I made a list of the pros and cons of my marriage. Here is what I came up with:

Pros:

  • I can tell him anything without (for the most part) being judged or belittled
  • He never makes me wonder about his love for me by flirting with or commenting on other (prettier and younger) women
  • He has a dry sense of humor and we laugh a lot
  • He forgives swiftly and never digs up my past offenses (yes even the big ones)
  • He keeps me grounded when my head is in the clouds and I have difficulty making a decision or thinking rational
  • He has stood by me through really bad culture shock, three pregnancies, raising four children, emergencies, surgeries, sickness, depression, and years of struggling with food issues
  • He encourages my dreams and helps me make them a reality by giving me practical advice
  • He tells me I am beautiful often, and did so through the years whether I wore a size 6 or 16 dress.
  • He holds my hand in public, draws me close to him in church, and opens the door for me
  • He flirts with me in front of our friends
  • He brings me flowers often for no reason at all
  • He brings me coffee in bed
  • He fixes anything that needs fixing
  • He often lays next to me in bed and pray for our family
  • He supported me financially through years of studying and homeschooling our kids
  • And of course, last but not least, he speaks Afrikaans

Cons:
Believe me, there were also a bunch of cons that I would rather not list for the sake of confidentiality, but it basically comes down to the fact that he is not perfect. He is a born entrepreneur who regularly locks himself away emotionally (like Einstein did I’m sure) to tend to a new invention and only appear again once the mission is completed. He works way too much which makes me feel lonely and neglected, and many times he makes me cry because he just doesn’t get me.

However, the main discovery I made in looking at my list of pros and cons is this: I can make up some of the deficits in our relationships by spending time with girlfriends, actively pursuing my own career and dreams, getting some counseling, and turning to God (which incidentally are all healthy things that I need). Most importantly,  the pros in our relationships are things I simply do not want to live without, they are too important to me personally.

So I guess I will keep letting my man off the hook, even if it seems to others that I’m a fool. It’s a trade I’m willing to make, because who he is to me, without changing anything about him, is worth hanging onto.

Challenge: Why not make your own pros and cons list to see if the trades you are making are worth it to you personally? Let’s face it, marriage at its best is difficult, but maybe, like me, you need a reminder of all the beautiful things about marriage that we tend to take for granted.

On the other hand, you may discover that the knawing feeling you have is actually not your imagination and that its time to seek help for your marriage. Please don’t wait, call someone today. Tony and I went for counseling many times through our 24 years together, and it never failed to bring a new perspective.

IMPORTANT: 
It is NEVER okay for any man to abuse you verbally, sexually, or physically. If you are in a marriage where you are often being belittled, humiliated, neglected, and hurt, then the pros CAN NOT outweigh the cons.

Please seek help if this is you. You can not do this alone! It is impossible to just pull yourself up after years of neglect and abuse. There are people who know exactly how you feel and how difficult it is to get out of an abusive situation, and they want to help you. Please get in contact with a counselor, a social worker, or a close friend who can get you to a safe place and help you take the next step out of this pain you are living under.

There are shelters and hotlines for women and children who are abused. Please search for those on the internet, even if you are in a different country than the USA, you will find similar hotlines and shelters in your area.

Books to Read:

  • Christian Men Who Hate Women: Healing Hurting Relationships by Margaret J. Rinck
  • Women Who Love Too Much: When You Keep Wishing and Hoping He’ll Change by Robin Norwood

Great Resources and Articles:
http://armsonline.org/getting-help/resources

My dear friend, may God lead you and guide you, may His light shine upon you and give you peace in 2017. I pray for your marriage and relationships, but also for your safety and health. You are so precious to our Heavenly Father. You are his little girl, always.

Love,
Heleen

Surrender 2016 to Jesus!

Happy New Year!

HiRes
Here at the beginning of 2016 I would very much like to share a piece from my online program that focuses specifically on SURRENDER with you.

“Breaking away from my idols was very difficult for me simply because Satan wouldn’t just let me take back my heart without a fight. What helped me tremendously was to take 40 days out of my life and commit it to God. During these 40 days, my main focus was to surrender  to God, because without Him I knew that I honestly couldn’t even do one day (I’ve tried this in my own strength countless times before without success). During this time the enemy’s number one strategy was to keep me from God’s presence, because he knew, probably better than I did, that in the presence of the Almighty God I would finally find healing and permanent change.

I  wanted to really see if it would make a difference to have my main motivation be: Surrender to God. I wanted to set aside a block of time to untangle my heart from the idol of food (the love affair) and surrender all of my heart to Jesus(James 4:7) and  at the same time get rid of the shame and guilt in my mind (“…resist the enemy and he will flee from you” James 4:7 NIV).

I never realized how my past efforts have been thwarted by the enemy. Each time I committed in the past, the enemy attacks would increase to stop me, and I would become discouraged and fall back; defeated and stripped from all faith that I would ever be free. This time I was ready and armed and I realized, maybe for the first time, that I didn’t have to fight so hard but rather get in behind my strong and powerful God and let Him fight for me.

I finally stretched out my hand to God and said; ” Please take it, I don’t want to love food anymore. I am ready. I’m giving you full control of my time and my mind.”

Don’t stay in denial. Don’t let the enemy trick you like he tricked me to keep looking for some other explanation of why you have a food struggle. I remember looking for answers in all the wrong places, always saying “There must be something I’ve missed. There must be some reason why I am like this. There must be some cure that I just didn’t hear of yet”. This went on for years. The truth: I really knew all along that my heart was held captive by food and that nothing would change if I still loved it more than God. We can not serve two masters at the same time…

START your 40 days TODAY

  1. START TODAY
    Don’t put it off. NOTHING IS MORE IMPORTANT OR MORE LIFE CHANGING THAN THIS. So the enemy would want you to procrastinate yourself out of this LIFE CHANGING event by distracting you. Resists worries about a specific format, a specific book, or a special date to start. There is no perfect time or way to do this. Start surrendering to God today.It’s easy, don’t make it more complicated than it should be.
  2. IT’S ALL ABOUT SURRENDER
    This journey is all about you and God. When I first started this journey with other ladies, I had them draw up a checklist of certain things “to do” during their 40 days, however through the years I recognized that it just put more pressure on women to “perform”. I don’t want you to perform at all during these 40 days, but I want to ask you to STOP, WAIT, and LISTEN in God’s presence. The crucial element of OBEDIENCE will follow as you start to know and trust God more. Spending time with God to hear Him talk to you about what’s going on in your heart is the MOST IMPORTANT thing to do during these 40 days. If you only fall in love with Jesus during this time, then you are on the road to victory.
    Meet with God as early as you can every day. Use worship music to soften your heart before God, and have your journal and Bible ready. You can also use a Bible study or a book that is already geared towards a 40 day journey or that can give you daily guidance (see list below). Read week 2 of my program again if you’re unsure what I mean when I refer to surrender.
    Remember, the material is not the most important thing. Meeting with God TODAY for the next 40 days, regardless of the format, is the most important issue here. IN HIS PRESENCE WE ARE CHANGED! Don’t try to do it perfectly, don’t get discouraged if you skip a day, remember MEETING WITH GOD is the objective, not doing anything perfectly.
  3. GET BACK-UP PRAYER
    Phone a few friends whom you know will truly pray with you and for you, and ask them to pray for you as you embark on 40 days of surrendering your life to God. Tell them that TIME WITH GOD EVERY DAY is your main objective.
  4. JOURNAL
    It makes the world of a difference to keep a journal of your journey. Putting your thoughts on paper actually exposes the lies of the enemy, and just seeing your own progress is a huge encouragement. You will be amazed to see, even after one week, how far you have come. Just let it flow, open your heart wide to the Lover of your soul, the One who knows everything about you, your Abba Father. Give Him access to your life so He can bring healing.”

Click here for books and Bible studies that can help, but don’t let it be your main focus, rather read one verse from the Bible and spend 10 minutes in God’s presence than procrastinating over the right study.

I plan on taking up the challenge once again. I am going to use one of my old devotionals and make time to sit down with Jesus for a few minutes every morning before my family wakes up.

How about you?

Your sister in Christ
Heleen

About runaway trains and rescue boats

Does your life sometimes feel like a runaway train? The feeling that you desperately need to get off, but it’s impossible because the train is not stopping for anything? Modern high speed train

I was on a runaway train for quite some time, in fact only now, here at the end of 2015, do I feel that I can simply breathe again.

Almost two years ago I started the tedious process of getting licensed as a counselor in my state, and almost immediately as I set foot on campus the drama in my life started. Not so much because of college, even though the work is time consuming and stress producing, but other things that I had no control over were happening all around me.

I wrote here on my blog about my Dad’s sudden passing which shook me so much harder than I could ever imagine. Around the same time some issues surfaced in my family that made me seriously question the depth of my faith and my love for others. When I also experienced a health scare and found myself bursting into tears at the drop of a hat I knew it was time to get help.

I told my counselor about the runaway train that is impossible to stop and he said something that I want to share with you: “Somewhere on that train, there is a cart, a dining room with soft lighting, good food, and classical music. A space  where you could just sit, rest, and dine in peace. You don’t have to get off the train, or wait for it to stop, you just need to find that space…”

I needed some godly counsel and medication, but I especially needed the reminder that Jesus was and always will be my Prince of Peace, my place of quiet in the midst of the storm. I needed a reminder that GOD IS ALWAYS WITH ME, through the water and the fire. When I had nothing to give and all my spiritual disciplines flew out the window, when I had trouble getting through any given day let alone do the things I “should have been doing”… He was with me anyway.

Another amazing thing I found in the midst of the darkness was a lifeboat! I have once heard someone make the analogy of  “the lifeboat of thankfulness” and this thought came back to me in some of my darkest moments. When I felt the waves crashing all around me alone in the doctor’s waiting room, hearing about my Dad in the middle of the night, or laying in bed overwhelmed by thoughts of doubt and fear, I took the jump! I leaped into that lifeboat and started thanking God for the breath in my lungs, the people around me who loved me, the gas in my car, the good talks I had with my Dad, and all the things I took for granted… and almost without fail I would feel the peace of God spill over into my heart and mind.

Maybe you need a quiet dining cart today, or maybe you are in need of a lifeboat right this minute because you find yourself in the eye of the storm. I want to urge you that while this storm is raging  you don’t need to be brave and strong, but instead you can take the hands of others around you and most importantly cling to HIS hand.  God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit is right there with you. He is your rock and your hiding place my dear friend.

I believe Mandisa said it best…

 

The passing of a hero

Last year my Dad passed away at the age of 69. It was a very sudden death and words can not express the shock or pain that this brought to our family.

I am still grieving, but I wanted to write my tribute here on my blog to salute the passing of a hero of faith. I grew up under my Dad’s teaching of the Word, and experienced many evangelistic outreaches and church plants that he undertook during my formative years. For most of those years my mom, brother, and I played in the church band, and were actively involved in all of my Dad’s endevours.

As  a child you don’t think much about any of these things, but today I recognize that all of those experiences shaped me and prepared me for the life I was to lead.

If I can pin point the single thing about my Dad that impacted me most, was that HE CLUNG TO JESUS. I saw my Dad struggle with his own personal issues all of his life, and go through seasons of deep pain, rejection, and sorrow, and through all of this he never once took His eyes off his Deliverer. I’ve also seen God bringing Him through the water and the fire, and never leaving Him stranded. He once told me that I should love God for who He is, and not for what He could do for me. He based this on that familiar passage in Habakkuk 3:16-19 ”

“Though the fig tree does not bud
    and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
    and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
    and no cattle in the stalls,
 yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
 I will be joyful in God my Savior.
The Sovereign Lord is my strength;
he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
he enables me to tread on the heights.”

This turned out to be the single most important thing in my life. There are so many things that I never thought would happen to me, that I had no idea how to handle, that I have absolutely no control over, and that I am still not sure why God would allow it in my life… but that is not the point…

The point is that he is good

Don’t Wimp Out – Eyes on Jesus!

I have a love/hate thing going on with this quote from Beth Moore: “Have the courage to live under the strain and pain to be part of a better story. A larger story. Don’t wimp out. Only pain can bring change”

I love it because it’s so true, but I also don’t like it, for the same reason. Why does only pain bring change? Why do we only “get it” down in the pit of despair,  never on the mountaintop? I guess it’s one of those”wait till heaven to find out” kind of questions, but I want to talk some more with you about the “wimping out” part…

What is going on in your life today that makes you just want to WIMP OUT?

Are you in terrible financial trouble? Is your marriage a source of great pain an turmoil? What about those teenage children, are they breaking your heart? How are you doing with your food struggles these days? Are you maybe hiding out, avoiding people, and crying yourself to sleep again every night because of the terrible grip this thing has on your life? How are your relationships with your family, friends, or colleagues at work?

Let me stop for a minute here, take a deep breath with you, and say… I’m so sorry about the strain and pain of your story…

We can many times see the benefit of a trial in retrospect. That wonderful clear headed time when we can look back and reflect that “yes indeed God did use this to change me” or  “I can now see how God works everything for good for those who love Him”. The problem is when we are right there smack in the middle of the arena with the devil, the people who hurt us, the addictions we’re fighting, or sometimes the whole caboodle. In that place where there is only sweat, tears, and blood we just want to WIMP OUT, and honestly, who can blame us?

Remember the disciples out on the boat? They had the Lord of lords right there in the boat with them, but their eyes were on the storm, and they were freaking out! Peter had the same experience while walking on the water, only one thing could help him and save Him in that place of fear and terror, HE HAD TO FIX HIS EYES ON JESUS!

Let me encourage you today to fix your eyes on Jesus again. I know everything in you just wants to quit, run, hide, or give up… but there is another way. It’s in your room, with the door locked, on your face at the feet of the ONLY ONE WHO CAN SAVE YOU!

Pushing through this terrible pain, anger, or loneliness WITH YOUR EYES FIXED ON JESUS, will indeed bring you into a bigger story: HIS STORY for your life. In fact, many times our trials result in the very thing we’ve been asking God for years: A surrendered heart so that we can run free from the chains that bind us. A heart that truly loves Jesus above all else and that WANTS TO seek first the Kingdom of God.

I’m inviting you to fix your eyes again on Jesus as the Bible commands in Hebrews 12:2. Let Him into your moments, especially those weak moments, so that the PRINCE OF PEACE can reign over your life once again. 

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” John 15; 5-10

Your sister in Jesus
Heleen

About Grandmas and Mashed Potatoes

March is my beloved grandma’s birthday month, so my thoughts tend to linger on her this time of year.  She now celebrates in heaven with Jesus, where I’m sure she is cooking and sewing up a storm:)

I was actually making mashed potatoes this week when my thoughts started wandering to the two women who shaped my life in so many ways; my Mom and Grandma. Not because they are necessarily known for their mashed potatoes, they are much rather renowned for South African favorites such as vetkoek, kookkos, and kerrie&rys (sorry you have to be South African to know what I’m talking about).

No, the mashed potatoes made me think of them for a reason that had nothing to do with cooking at all…

Beth Moore once said that we find ourselves in a good place when Jesus is our “mashed potatoes” and everything or everyone else is simply gravy. I’ve always loved that analogy because, if you think about it, we can in fact eat mashed potatoes all by itself and be totally satisfied. Yes, definitely true that the gravy makes it extra delicious, but we don’t “need” the gravy.

I so desire this kind of relationships with Jesus: One where I am grateful for the people and things He put in my life, but I don’t desperately cling to those things for dear life. The kind of relationship where I truly know that HE IS ENOUGH, perhaps because I acknowledge that in the end it will only be HIM and I…

I saw over the years how my sweet Grandma and also my Mom gravitated towards this kind of “mashed potato relationship” with Jesus. The three of us are all cut from the same cloth really. We have tender hearts for people, and very often find ourselves hurt and trampled upon for that very reason. However, those many times that our hearts were broken seemed to be the exact kind of fertile ground needed to surrender more to Jesus.

My Mom dealt with more sorrow and pain in her life than I can even fathom, in fact, hers is a life of very little “gravy” to speak of. Even so, I see her becoming more and more dependent on the “mashed potatoes”, or as the Word calls Him, the TRUE VINE.  I saw her strength being renewed when I was sure she could never get up again. I saw her forgive when I was sure I could not have done it at all. Best of all, I still see her joy and satisfaction come back again and again as she keeps turning to Jesus in the midst of trials.

And then there was my sweet grandma. Just thinking of the things she had to see and endure in her lifetime makes me shudder. Yet, she never stopped searching and yearning for the “mashed potatoes”, while all along thanking her Father for the gravy too. Like most of us it didn’t come without a lot of hurt and enough reason to become bitter, and yet she chose for Jesus to mold her into His image, instead of allowing the enemy to harden her heart.

This is what I want to keep searching for until I draw my final breath and join my Grandma in heaven: The “real mashed potatoes”, or as the Bible puts it; “life in abundance” which is only found in JESUS!

Nobody penned the ending of a godly woman (such as my Grandma) better than Beth did in the excerpt below. I pray that this humorous and most tender word picture she painted will give you a renewed hunger for God, and bless you as much as it did me.

It was her 90th birthday. She didn’t plan to live this long. She couldn’t help it. She just kept waking up.
Her youngest son’s spacious home bulged with extended family. She acted as surprised by her party as a 90 year old can act. She cackled to herself. They obviously thought her growing lack of conversation was evidence of a growing lack of sense.  Why would she be surprised? They had thrown her a surprise party for the past 5 years. She guessed they figured she’d forget. What the party really meant was they were surprised she was still alive. Oh, she did love them, though. Every one of them.
Pretty bags and bows crowded the coffee table. Now what in heaven’s name was she going to do with a bunch of gifts? And how many pair of socks does a woman need? But that cake was looking mighty tasty. The great-grand kids had insisted on putting all 90 candles on the cake. 

The youngest great-grandchild grabbed her by the hand. “Come on Mammie! It’s time to blow the candles out” She grinned and asked God to help her keep her teeth in. Time suddenly seemed to freeze. She looked around the room and studied the faces. Life had been good – painful at times, but God had always been faithful. She had been a widow for 23 years. Her last years had been pleasant. Her family made sure of that. But she grew less and less able to participate. She found herself mostly just watching life. 

The insistence of the impatient five year old finally grew clear. “Mammie, COME ON!”
Before she could draw a breath, all the little ones blew out the candles. Only blood relatives would have eaten that cake after the spraying it took.
Later she sat at her old vanity as her daughter-in-law tenderly took the pins from her wispy white hair. She stared at the yellowed mirror. When had she gotten so old? Where had the years gone? Her daughter-in-law brushed the strands gently, chattering incessantly about he evening. As she helped her with her gown and tucked her in , the old woman felt so weary. Her body hurt just to lie down. 

The soft mattress seemed to swallow her frame. She rested her slight weight and stared at the stars out the window. She heard the familiar sound of the 1o:00 train going over the bridge and nearly shivered as she remembered her baptism in those cold waters underneath. She smiled and voiced a good-night prayer to the Savior she had loved since childhood. She didn’t say much. “Thank You Jesus. Thank You” Almost before she could close her eyes, deep sleep overtook her.

Suddenly, her slumber was startled by the most beautiful voice she had ever heard, coming form a man standing over her. “Arise, My darling, My beautiful one, and come with Me. See! The winter is past, the rains are over and gone…the season of singing has come”

BETH MOORE, Breaking Free, p147 

 

Jesus wants to heal your broken heart, and create beauty from your ashes today dearest friend. Allow Him to soften your heart and use your pain to bring you closer to Him. He is everything you could ever need or desire, and He is waiting for you to come to Him…

Your sister in Christ
Heleen

 

 

A Marriage Saved by JOY!

As promised: My annual post about marriage, just in time for Valentines Day!

Actually, this is perfect timing, because I have a lot to tell you.

I have talked a little about 2013 being a tough year and that my marriage was also caught in the cross fire. However, I did not mentioned how bad things got, partly because it is always so much easier to write about painful things in retrospect. In truth, things were looking pretty bleak, and the more I tried to fix things, the worse they became. 

I WAS AT THE END OF MY ROPE, to put it mildly, and working together as a couple (as my husband and I do) did not make things easier at all. It seemed that I was in need of something NEW; some new direction, a new job, a new hairstyle, a new book to write, a new project, a new city to live in, or possibly A NEW LIFE!!  I wanted out of the old so bad, and especially wanted to run far, far away from the arguments and pain that seemed unending! 

I complained to God, cried, begged, and whined. I had to find an answer.  I should have an answer, right? I’m a planner and a teacher, certainly I could find a way out of this. But for the life of me I couldn’t figure out how I got in this mess, or how to get myself out of  it. 

So I kept crying out to God, mainly because there was nothing else to do, and also because I always tell you to do it  (Jer 33:3). Have to practice what I preach for Pete’s sake!

I thought for sure God was going to answer in some mighty earth shaking way. I had some ideas of how He could do it: A brand new career for me (as He did for a friend), or a huge chunk of money to go on a long luxurious vacation (as He did for another friend), or at least change the hearts of my loved ones miraculously, so they would stop what they were doing, and become everything I wanted them to be. None of  it was too hard for God, right?

But no, you probably know that’s not at all what happened.  Instead it rather happened as per the old cliche that God many times changes his CHILD rather than her circumstances.

I was standing in a worship service when I felt the Holy Spirit whisper one word to me: JOY. I didn’t get it. I could simply not comprehend such a thing in my broken state. But even so, a small glimmer of hope was forming inside of me. Hope that maybe, just maybe, there could be some joy again in my future. A few days after this, a friend prayed over me with the greatest care and compassion. She also put a book in my hand (which I quietly vowed NEVER to read!) However, that book kept bugging me, and when the first words (straight from the Bible) rolled over me, I started bawling.  It reminded me of the book THE LOVE DARE that I’ve been wanting to read since I’ve seen the movie Fireproof. So I bought it and, as I kept reading through the 40 days, JOY slowly started thawing my frozen soul, and as a result my frigid marriage.

I can not even begin to tell you about the miracle of joy that happened in my marriage! We were not even so happy 21 years ago on our wedding day!
Now before you roll your eyes at me and start checking your Facebook posts instead, let me be completely honest: It did not happen overnight, and initially it had nothing to do with my husband. It happened in me, the JOY started spreading through my being, AND TRULY BECAME MY STRENGTH as the Bible says it would. I started opening my mouth with words of encouragement, support, kindness, and thankfulness. I saw the Holy Spirit empower me to forgive the unforgivable, to love without expecting anything in return. I even started praying for my husband every time I felt like complaining or biting his head off, and saw how  this simple act stripped away the anger and filled me with compassion and care instead. Unbelievable!

Dearest reader,  I want to encourage you, if your marriage is at a tipping point, ALLOW GOD TO CHANGE YOU. Take the LOVE DARE challenge in this book. I know you may not want to at all! I know that everything in you may be rebelling against this and you may be thinking: I’m already doing everything for everybody. Why do I always have to humble myself while he acts like a complete jerk? I have been doing all of the work in this marriage all these years, it’s his turn now! I am not the one who _______ , why should I fix things?”

Remember I just went through all these angry questions and legitimate excuses in my head, so I REALLY know how you feel. However, THIS IS IMPORTANT, it can change EVERYTHING for YOU.


Like me, you may be standing before a choice:
Do you want to be right, or do you want a relationship?
Or more to the point: Do you want JOY in your marriage (and in every area of your life), or do you want to wait for him to come around?

Please don’t wait. Don’t let pride hold you back. Throw all caution to the wind and let God change you from the inside out. It may not immediately impact your marriage, but the changes will impact YOU right away, and it will spill over to every area of your life! 

WHO is going to take the LOVE DARE with me on this Valentines Day? I can’t wait to see joy abound in your marriage as well! If you are working with your husband, I want to urge you that this love dare is absolutely CRUCIAL!

My husband is so in awe of the miracle that God has done in me that he wants to read the book and do the dare himself (who would have thought!). This can be your story too… 

Here is a link to this book on Amazon (it’s on kindle too): THE LOVE DARE

Your sister in Christ who is praying for you to take the dare
Heleen 

 

Do You Fear Rejection?

I was desperately afraid of rejection for the biggest part of my life. I was rejected early on for not being pretty enough, not quiet enough, and definitely not skinny enough. I was rejected by peers, boyfriends, and family members in both big and small ways. However, the most important rejection was one I was not even consciously aware of: I REJECTED MYSELF COMPLETELY.

The fear of rejection became the driving force behind my vow to avoid rejection at all cost. I remade my appearance to the best of my ability,  and surrounded myself with “safe” people who would or could not easily reject me; mainly people with wounds, obsessions, and weaknesses of their own. I also made sure that I became irreplaceable in the lives of these friends, so they would never want to leave me. Through manipulation and lies I kept this all alive. I pleased, begged, fought, over committed myself, did things I hated, smiled when I wanted to cry, stayed awake when I wanted to sleep, had long talks when I had nothing more to say, bribed, gave advice, bent over backwards, and last but certainly not least,  rescued everyone around me.

God saw all of this of course, and placed ever so strategically four little beings in my life who would challenge my authenticity from the start. They grew up way too fast, and as young adults refused  to any longer be coerced into Mom’s perfection and people pleasing. They wanted to spread their  wings and fly, and they especially wanted to love me on their own terms. So I felt again the stabbing pain of rejection that I carefully tried to dodged for so long. I cried before God, tried to think and rethink the situation, made a new plan, did everything I knew to keep the relationship intact, and yet, there was nothing for me to do, except feel the searing pain of rejection…

Finally after allowing God to untangle my heart from the huge mess of being tangled up with other people, I asked the question that needed asking a long time ago: Why am I so terribly afraid of rejection?

His voice was clear and the message so simple: You have to stop rejecting yourself. You have to start loving the girl I made, and give her some room to grow and live. You have to let Her breathe and start pleasing her God instead of people. Other people are fickle. The ones who love you today might reject you tomorrow, but through the years, and all of your life, you have YOU an ME.

This was the verse that spoke to my heart and reminded me that God has never rejected me, not even once…

I took you from the ends of the earth,
 from its farthest corners I called you.
I said, ‘You are my servant’;
I have chosen you and have not rejected you.

So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Isaiah 41:9-10

What about you dear friend?
Are you terribly afraid of rejection?
Has it maybe been the driving force behind so many decisions and actions in your life? 
Is fear of rejection maybe at the root of your desire to be thin at all cost? 
Is your obsession to please others maybe driving you to the numbing effect of food?
Have you rejected yourself and as a result need to soothe the pain with food?

If we reject ourselves, then other people’s rejection is just too much for us to bear. If we criticize and hate ourselves, then other people’s criticism drive us over the edge, and many times make us reach for a substance to soothe the pain. It is when we are secure in our God and truly accept ourselves that we can handle what others throw at us; the good, the bad, and the ugly.

I implore you to open your heart before the King of kings if you also fear rejection. Fear is from the enemy. Repent and allow God to flush out that fear and fill your heart with His incredible love and acceptance.

Your sister in Christ
Heleen

 

 

Resources for you

Click on the image below to learn more about the 12 Week Online Program: Women Struggling with Food

Read my story. Click on the image below to download my ebook: God will I ever be free?

 

Appetite for Freedom WORKBOOK and DVD. Great resource for small groups or for individual use. 
Click on the image below to find out more

The Miracle of a Soft Heart

So happy to finally get back to blogging. A long stretch of influenza and some unrelenting coughing caused me to take a two week break from the webinars. However, it seems that a person can actually cough and type without too much effort, so I thought I would write to you ladies instead. 

2013 has been a memorable year for my family and I. Not because of great milestones I’m afraid, but because of deep valleys and a great miracle along the way. So today seemed like a good day to tell you about it…

For a while now I’ve been observing a heart of stone in one of my loved ones. It breaks my heart over and over again, to see someone once so filled with love and zeal for the Lord now so bitter, angry, and stumbling around in the dark. I have talked, cried, prayed, fought, begged, and pleaded with God for months, and then finally I stopped. It might have looked like surrender on the outside, and I even uttered the intention of surrender to a few friends, but only God knew what really happened… my heart became hard as well. 

It’s amazing how gradually this can happen. Over a period of time we start relying on our own efforts again. We start making plans for our food struggle, our lost loved ones, or our circumstances. We start trusting in those plans, and when they inevitably fail, we become discourage, angry, bitter, and numb… 

You may know exactly what I’m talking about. We can not deny the fruit of a hard heart. According to Luke 6:45 “A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” My mouth was clearly speaking what my heart was full of. I’m especially referring to that anger, strife, bitterness,  complaining, fault finding, nagging, controlling, manipulating, and gossiping that goes on behind closed doors. Sometimes the crust around our hearts become so hard that  this even spills over into public places, but for the most part our hard heart shows best when our guard is down, in our own homes.

The most DANGEROUS thing about a hard heart is that the cracked and barren landscape provides the ideal place for the enemy to hammer in some hooks of evil desires that fuels idolatry. If you’ve worked through my program before, you will know that I’m referring to desires such as the insatiable desire for food, a skinny body, fame, money, the approval of people, or any other thing  that we absolute MUST HAVE . (See James 1:13-15)

It took months (why does it always take me so long to get a clue!), but I finally got to the end of my running, and I cautiously stepped into His presence. Yes, at first I waited with hands wringing, heart pounding, and no patience at all. But I stuck it out. I put worship music on, started up a Bible study without much enthusiasm, listened to Andrew Murray’s Absolute Surrender on tape, kept quoting this verse in Jeremiah 33:3 “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know“, and I waited…

After a few days of this the crust around my heart started cracking slowly, and finally, I found myself weeping like a little baby, because I SAW!! How could I not see this before? I saw how I’ve allowed the sin of others to harden my heart. I saw how I’ve grieved the Holy Spirit, and how I started relying again on my own plans.  I wept tears of sorrow, repentance, and forgiveness.  His Word not only washed me clean, but the Holy Spirit started soaking the soil of my heart, like a steady autumn rain. And then, ever so gently, He started removing every hook of idolatry and evil desire, and plowed the soil so the seed of His Word can grow. 

Oh my dearest friend, there is nothing like a heart that has been softened by the Holy Spirit. IT IS A TRUE MIRACLE! No human can do it, or even imagine it. When the Holy Spirit softens your heart it flows out of your mouth and your pores! You can not contain the love and the joy, and you stand amazed at the peace in the midst of terrible circumstances!

A soft heart desires more soaking, cleaning, and plowing in God’s presence. You don’t need to coax it!

A soft heart never hold hooks of idolatry or evil desires for long. The ground is simply too soft for anything but the Word of God to take root. 

The miracle of a soft heart is available for all God’s children. He wants to wash you clean in the water of His Word, and the Holy Spirit is ready to minister to you, helping you to turn your back on the things that grieve Him. 

Come into HIS PRESENCE today. I’m begging you to not wait any longer. Living with a hard heart is the worst kind of agony. I know you may feel NOTHING. You may come hesitantly, like I did. You may need to quote Jeremiah 33:3 for a while as you keep waiting in faith.  God alone knows how much soaking you need dear sister, so allow Him to take His time to do a perfect miracle in you. YOU JUST NEED TO COME TO HIM AND WAIT IN HIS PRESENCE, JUST AS YOU ARE…

I’m praying during this Holiday Season that each person who reads this and needs the miracle of a soft heart will come to Jesus and be changed in His presence! 

2 Corinthians 3:16-18 
 But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.  And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

In His Amazing Love
Heleen 

 

Resources for you

Click on the image below to learn more about the 12 Week Online Program: Women Struggling with Food

Read my story. Click on the image below to download my ebook: God will I ever be free?

 

Appetite for Freedom WORKBOOK and DVD. Great resource for small groups or for individual use. 
Click on the image below to find out more

Warning: You will have trouble!

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

So there we have it! We were warned about TROUBLE right there in John 16:33! And yet, I continue to be shocked and surprised at the amount of trouble that can roll into my life on any given day. I love trouble free days, but seriously, with a job, kids, a husband, and other forms of frequent human interaction, those days are very rare. 

Now for the most part, I can just shake off trouble,  forgive the people involved, and keep focusing on the big picture. However, from time to time I get those days where my own weakness (in body or mind) collides head-to-head with some “trouble”, and I’m just fed-up with all the drama. Then, if I let these troubles fester for more than two seconds without taking it to God, I can find myself nose-diving into a full fledged pity-party. To these parties I usually invite only three guests: Self-pity, Discontentment, and Unforgiveness.

During these times I am so grateful for a handful of trusted girl friends! They will allow me to vent, without judging me or judging the other people involved. And afterwards they will gently point me in the right direction… the path of forgiveness that leads me back to intimacy with Christ. When I’m finally ready to lay down my long list of rights and whisper “Okay I will forgive…” PEACE comes rushing back into my life and I remember again… TROUBLE IS PART OF MY PROCESS…

Sarah Young explains this so well in her book Jesus Calling:

“MAKE FRIENDS WITH THE PROBLEMS IN YOUR LIFE. Though many things feel random and wrong, remember that I am sovereign over everything. I can fit everything into a pattern for good, but only to the extend that you trust Me. Every problem can teach you something, transforming you little by little into the masterpiece I created you to be. The very same problem can become a stumbling block over which you fall , if you react with distrust and defiance. The choice is up to you, and you will have to choose many times each day whether to trust Me or defy Me.

The best way to befriend your problems is to thank Me for them. This simple act opens your mind to the possibility of benefits flowing from your difficulties. You can even give persistent problems nicknames, helping you to approach them with familiarity rather than with dread. The next step is to introduce them to Me, enabling Me to embrace them in my loving Presence.  I will not necessarily remove your problems, but My wisdom is sufficient to bring good out of every one of them.”

So Sarah gives us TWO clues here, straight from the Bible:

– TRUST GOD THAT HE CAN USE TROUBLE FOR GOOD IN YOUR LIFE

– START THANKING HIM FOR YOUR TROUBLE!

I honestly found THANKFULNESS to be one of the GREATEST WEAPONS against attacks of the enemy in my life. I recently found myself so drained by enemy attacks (Ephesians 6) and trials (James 1:2-3) when a friend suggested I make a THANK YOU list of all the things God has done the past year in this ministry and in my life. What a difference it made! It didn’t change any of my troubles or stopped the attacks per se, BUT IT CHANGED MY OUTLOOK AND ATTITUDE!

So, my fellow sister in this world where we are having much trouble, I want to gently encourage you to make your own THANK YOU LIST when things get tough. Also ask God to give you a few good friends you can trust during those times when you are weak and need some support and direction. God uses people to keep our arms up and show His love to us in a very real way!

Please don’t isolate yourself any longer. If you don’t have any friends, start reaching out. Join a women’s Bible study or get involved in a small group for women at your church. It will take some time to establish deep friendships, but start today by taking small steps forward, it will enrich your life in ways you never imagined!

Please allow me to give a shout-out here today to my friends who love me warts and all! You know who you are and I thank God for you, every day of my life!

In His amazing love!
Heleen

 

 

 

 

 

Resources for you

Click on the image below to learn more about the 12 Week Online Program: Women Struggling with Food

Read my story. Click on the image below to download my ebook: God will I ever be free?

 

Appetite for Freedom WORKBOOK and DVD. Great resource for small groups or for individual use.
Click on the image below to find out more