Endurance, Faith, Faithfulness, God's Power, Healing and Reconciliation, Holidays, Marriage

New Year, New Resolve

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

Hebrews 12:1-2 ESV

Every new year brings with it a sense of fresh starts, renewed commitments and strengthened resolve. Depending on who you are listening to, the target of these resolutions may tend to focus on the external. Whether it’s shedding a few pounds, reading more, learning a new skill, or simply stepping out of our comfort zones and trying something new, the arrival of January 1st marks the point when many will begin their new journey. Unfortunately, this is also a time when many marriages hanging on by a thread get pushed to their limits and one or both parties decide it’s time to call it quits.

Making it through the holidays is challenging enough on its own. Normal holiday stressors, along with knowing what your spouse may be planning for the new year and doing everything within your power to prevent it from coming to pass, puts us in situations that are extremely challenging and difficult. Reflecting back, I remember the first Christmas apart from my wife saw me spend considerable time praying God would do a work in her heart and that the new year would bring healing and reconciliation. Surprisingly, there were more than a couple moments during the holiday season I actually sensed this may have been coming to pass. But unfortunately, those moments were short lived. Despite seeing what appeared to be real signs of promise in both word and deed, my prodigal eventually returned to the flesh and continued to willingly travel the road that led to destruction. Cleary, God had more work to do.

For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many.

Matthew 7:12 ESV

Now more than ever, the question we need to ask ourselves is if we are truly committed to standing for our marriage despite what we may see or know is coming over the horizon. An ungodly worldview void of biblical and eternal perspectives will tell you happiness and fulfillment is within your reach if you just let go of the past and move forward. We are told some marriages just don’t work out, and it’s better to leave an unhappy marriage, than to stay in a relationship where your emotional needs aren’t being met. Of course, this type of advice sounds great to the person who is hurting and has perhaps endured years of mistreatment and neglect. After all, don’t we all deserve to be happy and to not have to live in an environment where we find ourselves anxious, on edge, and unfulfilled? Biblically speaking, the answer is, no. In truth, what each of us deserves is an eternity in hell. Fortunately for us, because of the Father’s mercy and grace, we are promised an eternity with Him in glory, if we put our faith and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. Let this truth sink in and penetrate your soul the next time your heart turns and begins to long for what friends, family and those without a godly perspective say you deserve.

If you are in this stand for the long haul, let this new year mark the starting point for a renewed and strengthened resolve that will reject worldly counsel, and instead cling to the cross of Christ and his promise of hope and fulfillment. Your prodigal needs you now more than ever. It could very well be that God has the enemy on the ropes. Do you have the endurance required to finish the fight and end the battle? Are you going to give up on your spouse, your children and perhaps future generations because you are tired and weary? Purpose now to stand strong and believe in your heart that God is not done with you or your marriage. 2020 could very well be the year God has ordained for restoration to occur!

In Christ,

Tommy Larson

Healing and Reconciliation, Holidays, Marriage

A Very Merry Christmas

Glory to God in the highest!

Luke‬ ‭2:14‬

Every year around this time, I am reminded of the miracle God performed in our lives. It’s never lost on me the mighty work the Lord orchestrated when He brought Tommy and I back together. It was exactly three years ago that we officially said “I do” the second time. While we discussed a small ceremony on our original date in April, we decided not to delay and made a trip to the courthouse in order to finalize our vows.

The night before, I was still wrestling with the idea of committing to marriage. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to remarry Tommy, but I felt like I was unworthy of his love. There were so many things I hadn’t communicated with him during our time apart. I feared if he knew the truth of my sinful past, he wouldn’t want me as his wife. When I shared my hesitation, Tommy responded in a way that I will never forget. It was the most beautiful expression of human love I have ever experienced.

As I was crying and trying to utter words barely comprehensible, Tommy placed his hands on mine and consoled me. He said, “nothing you may have or may have not done will ever make me love you any less. Regardless of what has happened, I still want you to be my wife.” He even went as far as to say that any sin on my behalf was partially due to his failure to lead as my husband. With those words, I was reminded of the unconditional love God had granted me. Tommy demonstrated an earthly love greater than I had ever know, far greater than I deserved, a love that had no limitations or boundaries and was only possible with the help of the Holy Spirit.

The next morning, we headed to the courthouse with our youngest son in tow. I was still nervous, but was completely confident in the direction that God was leading. That day, I chose to be obedient. And, in choosing obedience, with God’s amazing sense of humor, I was placed at ease when I said “I do” in front of the county clerk decked out in the ugliest Christmas sweater I have ever seen! It was perfect, and it’s a day I now look back on with joy and laughter.

Dear friends, God still performs miracles in the lives of His children. Every year I capture photos for our Christmas cards, I reflect on the power of His hand at work in our lives. God did what we didn’t have the ability to do. He resurrected our marriage and fully restored us to Himself, and to God we owe all the glory!

From our family to yours, we wish you all a very Merry Christmas!

Anger, Christian Walk, Divorce, Forgiveness, God's Power, Healing and Reconciliation, Marriage, Suffering, Waiting on God

Enter His Gates with Thanksgiving

It’s not always easy to recall the two years I spent running from the Lord, because those memories seem so distant and foreign to me. But, I share stories from that time because I know for so many standers recounting my path to restoration is helpful in order to better understand the heart and mind of a prodigal. My desire isn’t to rehash past events that bring about guilt and shame, but to paint a picture of how far God has brought me is such a short period of time. Thankfully, Thanksgiving of 2015 is one holiday experience I can retell but never have to relive.

Let’s take a glimpse back at November of 2015. Tommy and I had been separated for nearly eight months and were living in two households. I went to great lengths to distance myself from him, only communicating about matters that directly involved our children. Earlier in the month he appeared at one of our divorce hearings and pleaded with the judge for an extension in our case. The extension was granted and my desire to be permanently estranged from my husband was foiled. Needless to say, I was angry! I was angry at the judge for taking pity on him. I was angry at my lawyer for not convincing the judge otherwise. I was angry at Tommy for delaying the inevitable. But, most of all, I was angry that I wasn’t getting my way. My pride and rebellion was at an all-time peak, and anything that stood in the way of promoting my sinful lifestyle infuriated me.

I know Tommy felt the wrath behind my anger, even though he never openly communicated that to me. I intentionally ignored his messages and when I did respond, I kept the texts short. As Thanksgiving was approaching, the messages and phone calls between us increased. With every interaction, I could feel the tension mounting. We were met with making decisions about things we had never had to face in previous years and this was new territory for both of us. It was especially challenging because we did not have the same expectations regarding the holidays. 

Tommy wanted nothing other than to celebrate with me and the boys. He longed to take part in the Thanksgiving traditions we had created together over the past ten years. I would have probably been open to the idea of a joint holiday had Tommy been willing to go along with my wicked plans and not attempted to delay our divorce proceedings. But, my schemes went awry and I intended to punish him for his lack of cooperation. I was so blinded by my anger towards him that I couldn’t see his desires were genuine and good for our entire family. All I could see what that he was standing in the way of what I wanted, which was a declaration to end our marriage. Despite his request for togetherness, I chose to host Thanksgiving for family and friends in our home without him.

That year Thanksgiving was different. After the feast was over and my guests had left, a deep loneliness set in and the reality of my choices started to hit home. I was living life entirely on my own and it was solely based on my poor decisions. The company of my friends and family could not fill the void that I had hoped it would. In reality, Tommy could not fill that void either, but turning back to my marriage would have been a step in the right direction. I had fallen so far out of the will of God that I had tunnel vision. I was consumed with my will instead of God’s will and I was seeking the happiness that I felt I deserved. I was willing to do anything to please my selfish desires, and oftentimes in ways that were damaging and sinful.

Praise the Lord, God gave Tommy clarity to see right through the devil’s schemes. That Thanksgiving, Tommy continued to respond to me in love. I knew I had hurt him deeply, which was my intent, but he did not retaliate or respond to my sin with sin. The Father provided him comfort and love as well as great restraint, which didn’t go unnoticed. Tommy could have easily faltered in his stand due to the cirumstances, but his foundation for standing was grounded in the love of Christ. His absence from our family dinner wouldn’t deter his fight for our marriage. He knew that the Lord had more work to do in my heart, so he thanked God for the process and prayed for me that holiday weekend, as he did every weekend. Tommy’s spirit of gratitude wasn’t based around a day, but it was a lifestyle choice that he chose daily. 

The following Thanksgiving, we celebrated our first holiday as a restored family. I still get emotional as I reflect on the goodness of God. The Holy Spirit renewed my mind and set my feet back on the path to righteousness. The Father took our dead marriage and restored it back to life in a miraculous way that only He was capable of doing. 

Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.

‭‭Psalms‬ ‭100:4-5

Dear friends, I know many of you may find yourselves in desperate family situations. Some of you may even question what you have to be thankful for in the midst of your crisis. I want to remind you of the Father’s may provisions, the greatest of all, a Savior. God loved us so much that He sent His one and only son to take our place and bear our burdens on the cross. Let’s never forget to be grateful for the gift of the cross! We can also come to the Lord with thanksgiving knowing we serve a Master that is actively working and fully capable of performing God-sized miracles in our marriages. Despite the longsuffering, let’s be thankful for the process of transformation taking place in our lives, and let us continue to pray for our prodigals to make their way home to Him!