Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Men and Loyalty

After the woman who shared her story of submission with me gave me permission to write about it, I wrote to her and said:
I will keep you and your husband in my prayers. You have witnessed amazing evidence of God's mercy. Always keep this in mind should seeds of doubt attack you - and they likely will. Stay strong and take every thought captive. Yours is a testimony for His Glory! Remain in the reverence you have experienced for your husband. Remain in the faith that it has come from God as a blessing for your submission and obedience to His Word. Forgive your husband as well and do not harbor judgement. Don't be tempted to accuse when God has made this Very Good.
I wrote her again to check in and see how things were going and was very happy to receive this response: 
We are doing well. Better than well! We have talked a few times in depth since and my husband has sincerely apologized for all of it. He acts like I never even had the fantasy, like I was an innocent bystander being coerced and he was making me do it. He asked my forgiveness and took full responsibility. I am doing everything I can to be the best wife and so far, I have had zero struggle with harboring judgement or not forgiving him, probably because I was so much at fault too. On top of the blessing of unity that came from all this, my husband usually does not open up, but this ended up being a reason for him to open up and tell me how much he appreciates my loyalty and submission to him over the last 5 years. I have learned my lesson about how easy it is to conveniently forget about God and how quickly rebellion to my husband follows.. Anyway, thanks for checking in and I will stand in awe of this stage of my life when I look back on it because it finally helped me understand the WHY of submission- trusting God.
As I come to understand deeper the nature of men, I remain in awe of the honorable way in which they respond to loyalty. As women, we might understand what it is to be valued but I don't believe we receive our value by expressions of loyalty as men do. Our value is most often felt via expressions of approval. When we are approved of, we enjoy a pleasant euphoric feeling of belonging, importance, and validation.

When we sense a lack of approval from someone we love, we most often feel hurt and shame and express it in a self defense manner with justifications and rationalizations. It is difficult for us to learn to appreciate lack of approval, correction, and admonishment because it is strongly associated with how we experience a sense of value. It is a wise woman who searches deep for Truth who understands that those who would correct us or admonish us are those who actually value us the most. If our behaviors are not healthy, are not in line with achieving a deeper relationship with God, and those who we think love us and know the truth, don't say a word, we are actually experiencing contempt - not approval, not tolerance. A woman must learn to be very honest with herself to receive admonishment and understand it is a loving gesture and is an expression of value.

Approval and loyalty are not the same things. One can be loyal and not approve. And, as we all know ladies, we can receive approval and find out later that not a shred of loyalty existed from the person doling out approval. Men are often confused by our desire for approval because they seem to innately know this. Approval is fleeting and is not an expression of commitment or steadfast loyalty. Men would much rather know someone is loyal to them and are not concerned with their approval at any given time.

When you read through what the woman who wrote to me said about her husband, know that this is the response of men to loyalty:
"He asked my forgiveness and took full responsibility."
" husband usually does not open up, but this ended up being a reason for him to open up and tell me how much he appreciates my loyalty and submission to him over the last 5 years."
When we hear or read of women who put restrictions on the respect or the submission their husband's are due, what we are witnessing is the extent of her loyalty, her fear, her projection, and ultimately her opinion of what is "righteous rebellion." It is subjective and determined either by her or a third party and it is a stumbling block for her husband to be free to fully hear any correction the Holy Spirit has for him. When he knows her "loyalty" only extends to the limit of his good works in her eyes, he knows what she has for him is tentative approval, not loyalty. In turn he can not respond to her with appreciation.

When we flip the script we can see that women respond similarly. If your husband added a caveat to his approval of you, every time he mentioned it, how would it feel? How much would you enjoy hearing that as long as you don't get fat, your husband likes you. As long as you continue to make his meals, he approves of you. As long as you have sex with him, he'll be kind to you.

Yes, I understand these things get said to wives. And what do women do? "That jerk!" Then they gather up their best gossiping girlfriends to discuss how horrible her husband is for his expectations of her and how he won't love her for "who she is." Next thing you know she's being told he is emotionally abusive and it would be best if she separated from him.

Do husbands respond that way when they hear of the limitation of her loyalty? Not usually. Most often they will proceed silently with an inner ache knowing his wife is not fully committed to him. Ladies, we are masters at hurting our husbands without ever knowing we are doing it. They just don't express it the same way. When years of this ache pile up what will become of his feeling toward her is contempt.

God made your husbands in a very special way, different than you. He knows how they perceive value (loyalty) and He knows how they respond when they know they are valued. Trust God that He gave you very specific instruction for your marriage for a reason. Do not fear it. Do not project on to your husband a distrust of his integrity. And stop talking publicly about the line in which your husband must walk to receive your loyalty.
“Entreat me not to leave you,
Or to turn back from following after you;
For wherever you go, I will go;
And wherever you lodge, I will lodge;
Your people shall be my people,
And your God, my God.Where you die, I will die,
And there will I be buried.
The Lord do so to me, and more also,
If anything but death parts you and me.”
Ruth 1:16-17

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Ketogenic Diet and Sciatic Pain/Herniated Disc

I've continued to do more research on the Ketogenic diet I am on. It is working well for my own weight loss. I am down 15 pounds from when I started, have lost several inches, I have a lot of energy and don't miss or crave any of the foods I used to eat.  I am also free of the pain I once had due to inflammation in my big toes, right hip and right thumb.

While researching, I've come across this study: Ketogenic Diet Improves Forelimb Motor Function after Spinal Cord Injury in Rodents.

As many of you know, RLB was medically retired from the Army in December of 2013 due to his chronic and debilitating back pain. He was later diagnosed with Facet Syndrome and was able to live pain free after one Facet injection. The injections last for four months before the pain creeps back. Due to his medical care being provided through the VA, wait times for procedures are very long. He's had to fall back on drugs like Percocet to endure the pain while he waits for approval for the injections.

His last injection was in the beginning of April. Prior to his appointment, he started feeling new pain down his right leg. Immediately after the injection, he could no longer sit without excruciating pain. For two weeks he wore out his feet walking around. It was the only way he could have relief from the pain. He was exhausted and frustrated. He started taking Percocet again and eventually had to go back on Morphine to get sleep and rest.

His MRI revealed a herniated disc between L4 and L5. It wasn't until May 21 that he was able to speak with a neurologist to discuss his options. It was decided the first treatment they'd try was another spinal injection. The first available date with the VA was July 9.

As RLB tried to navigate the VA to get approval to utilize VA Choice (a new program to provide a temporary fix the backlog), he became increasingly frustrated with the pain and need for drugs. He had already read much of the research I had found on the Ketogenic diet and decided he had nothing to lose. If it worked for rats, it might work for him. He asked the neurologist if there was anything he could do to help with the pain with regards to his diet. "Sure, drink more water, stuff like that" was the response he got. RLB winked at me and made the decision right then that he'd take this into his own hands and start the Ketogenic diet.

His first day of a high fat/very low carbohydrate diet was Friday, May 22. On Saturday he told me he wasn't feeling any break through pain. On Sunday he started weening himself off of the Morphine. As of today he hasn't had Morphine for two weeks and has been weening himself off of the Percocet.

Today was the day his injection was scheduled (due to VA Choice approval) at our University Hospital. He met with an intern first who asked him his pain level. RLB told him about the diet he's been on and how he's been pain free since 24 hours after he started. He kept his appointment because he wasn't sure if he should still have the injection for further treatment of the herniated disc.

When he went to the surgical injection room, the Radiologist came in and asked him more questions. His recommendation was for RLB to keep doing what he is doing, the injection would be redundant since the steroid is an anti-inflammatory and designed to do exactly what his diet has done for him. RLB asked if he had any concerns about this type of diet to which he responded, "No, you're a fit man, there is no reason to not stay the proactive course you've been on."


Could this be typical? And if so, why isn't it prescribed? - I ask this tongue-in-cheek.

Friday, June 5, 2015

What if...He intervenes

The following post is for mature audiences only. If you are one of my younger readers, please defer to your parent's wisdom before you continue.

Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. - Ephesians 5:22-24

How could Paul say the word "everything" in this verse? What if a husband tells a wife to do something sinful? 

Looking at the account of Abraham and his son Isaac, we see demonstrated a blind faith, if you will, in obeying a command that would seem to be unbearable. It is quite apropos then, when I speak of taking Paul's writing in Ephesians literally, I'm most often asked the question: "What if your husband tells you to abort your baby?" It's an extreme example and meant to be a test or a stumbling block to prove that something else needs to be added to Paul's writing. That it is obvious he left something out that wives should just know. That the undeniable and obvious meaning of the word "everything" is: "everything except _____." The blank then needs to be discerned by the wife.

Abraham’s faith is a fascinating example for wives who might find themselves in a situation where they must choose to obey or rebel. It is written that God was testing Abraham and in knowing his obedience said to him:  
“Do not lay your hand on the lad, or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.”
As wives we may find ourselves in a situation where we must rely on faith to obey what might otherwise be seen as a request that is impossible to obey. It is a spiritual battle to be sure. It is scary and heart wrenching. Intense prayer is the only thing that helps stave off the fear. And if there were anyway I could bottle up the end result and let women experience a whiff of it I would. But it is something she must decide for herself by faith.

Here's Abraham's end result:
15 Then the Angel of the Lord called to Abraham a second time out of heaven, 16 and said: “By Myself I have sworn, says the Lord, because you have done this thing, and have not withheld your son, your only son— 17 blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply your descendants as the stars of the heaven and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your descendants shall possess the gate of their enemies. 18 In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice.” 
A husband doesn’t quite have all of that to give when his wife has displayed the ultimate loyalty and obedience to his request. But what he does do is everything a woman needs to KNOW she chose the right path and she will hit her knees and thank God that he allowed for her to see the truth – there needn’t be an exception to what Paul wrote in Ephesians. Everything does mean everything and God is really that big.

I received an email yesterday from a woman who has candidly told her experience of submitting in everything. She has graciously allowed me to share this experience with you:  
I know that there is quite a bit of controversy, [denial is a better word] about whether wives should obey their husbands in everything. In light of this, I would like to submit an account of the last few months in order to illustrate, first hand, that our God is bigger and infinitely more wise than wives are, and He did, in fact, mean what He said when He commanded wives to obey our husbands in everything.

To start out, a few months ago, I confessed to my husband that the Mila Kunis & Natalie Portman love scene in the Oscar winning movie Black Swan, had stirred up female fantasies in my mind and dreams. My husband became ecstatic about this and from then on, we had a long running 'lesbian fantasy' that we often joked about.

Well, after a while, and after he directly asked me if I honestly was curious enough to try this and I answered  yes, he decided that we should set something up. Once it shifted toward a future reality and no longer a fantasy, I was flooded with emotions and blame. I spent about 6 weeks disrespecting, crying, threatening to leave, apologizing, begging, and starting over again with the disrespecting. 

We made a few Craigslist personal ads, some including pictures of my genitalia, or body shots not including my face. Then, i would skim through the other ads and see trannies soliciting several men for group sex with vulgar invites in the subject line. When I started to feel the pain of the reality that I was rightfully grouped alongside these evil, reprobate fags, I started using offensively manipulative tactics in order to rationalize my own sin and make my husband feel as bad as I did, like telling him that if he doesn't love me enough to protect me from immorality just because it would be enjoyable for him to watch, then I guessed I would have to protect myself from it. Then I would take down the pictures, or entire ads, only to put them back up after we would come to some agreement where I would chose the lady, she can't be sexier than me of course, before he would even read the ad and I would decide 100% of the details i.e. if we would meet her at a hotel, have drinks first, etc.

During all these months, I was purposely ignoring God. No prayer, no Bible reading, no entertaining my conscience. Just suppression, suppression, suppression. After a while, I realized that I could only go on ignoring God for so long and all of my sexual fantasies or my obsession with increasing my husband's desire for me were not worth ignoring God anymore. I finally came to Him.

I wrote down all of the disgusting things I wanted to repent of: self obsession, disrespect and manipulation of my husband, the lesbian fantasies, the addiction to moderating my husband's exposure to women that I deemed more attractive than myself and the indignation that ensued when I could not stop a situation from happening, t.v., phone or real life where he seen an attractive woman, the will full determination to ignore God, the constant frustrations that I took out on my husband through extreme personality shifts from crazy, psycho wife to sweet, happy wife and the ignoring of our kids that they endured during the hours and hours that I spent recreating new personal ads, renewing them, taking photos, arguing with my husband and other things.

I honestly and finally gave it to God. I prayed a prayer to save my life and bring me back above water. I starting reading Hebrews. I also happened to read Dalrock's most recent M-I-L post where the comments highlighted a debate between you and a few other women about obeying your husband unto sin or not. This was yesterday.

I have always believed that the passage was written as is for a reason and I have been committed to obeying my husband no matter what command he gives me. So, when my husband got home last night, I repented to him for my emotional highs and lows and for all of the offenses that I committed against him. I told him the truth- that yes, I do have a fantasy that involves me with a woman but that it doesn't mean I have to make it a reality. I asked him if he wants us to continue with this and if he has considered if it is a sin or not with possible repercussions. He answered that yes, he wants us to continue and that he does not believe it is sinful because we, as a married couple, are choosing to do it together and that if I did it alone, without him present, it would be a sin.

At this point, I had wondered about why a woman who wants a life of promiscuity but wants it to be excused, wouldn't marry an unbeliever who would ask of her sinful  requests that she already knows she would enjoy but she would be blameless because she is obeying her husband, who will be accountable to God for the things he has asked of her. I felt immense guilt because I was going to be able to do something sinful that I would enjoy and yet my husband will be at fault and not me. I did not share this with him, just thought these things.

Anyways, we renewed another posting and answered a few emails, one of which was a couple saying that they would be down tonight to come over and let us wives get together while they watched. This was a no for my husband because he didn't want another man to see it and so we never answered them and we went into the bedroom to bed. The urgency that I felt when they responded before my husband said no, knowing that I might be doing this very thing in a few hours prompted me to say to my husband "I suppose if this is actually going to happen in the very near future, I better change our sheets." I then divulged to him that I had an internal conflict over this being done on our bed as opposed to a couch or something because of the Hebrew's verse: let the marriage bed be undefiled. I then said that I know it is just a euphemism and that it is in fact the marriage that is to remain undefiled and I understand that the bed means nothing more than the couch. I said out loud, "but you said that we are okay because this is something we are doing together."

Suddenly, my husbands countenance fell. He stopped talking and started thinking. I asked him what he was thinking about and he said "you know what I'm thinking about." I waited a few minutes and said "here, give me a kiss goodnight in case you're not done thinking before we both fall asleep." He answered "I'm not gonna fall asleep." I waited a few more minutes. Then I said "I don't mean to prod but can you tell me the gist of what you're thinking?" He answered "That verse will not leave my head. I can't get passed it."

At that moment I knew it was over. I felt a rush of relief and I just started silently  praising and thanking God. I walked with my husband, both of us drenched in sin, I did not freak out once I had addressed my convictions of this being immoral, I simply, in passing made a quick statement/joke about washing the bed sheets and it was over. My husband protected me, himself and our marriage from defilement and now he knows that I was with him.

God found a way to intervene only once I gave it to Him and still honored Him through obedience to my husband. Today is a new day for both of us. Things are different and fresh. The sun is shining brighter and our cuddles last night were more meaningful. We are united once again. Praise be to God!

Had I refused and continued to make my husband feel crappy for allowing/asking me to be with a woman, he nor I would have ever felt the real unity that we feel now. Whether I would have chickened out or put the brakes on, I may never know. I would like to think that I was at peace enough to follow through, but I don't deserve that much credit.

I hope you enjoyed my story and that it will serve as a piece of proof that there is light at the end of the tunnel, even if the tunnel is in the form of a sinful request that a wife must obey.

Monday, June 1, 2015

20 years of God's perfect timing

Remember back to the darkest, loneliest, most confusing time of your life. The most painful time you've been through. Then imagine yourself, twenty-three years later. The wounds of that painful time have been healed for many years, and you're in the midst of great harvest. You're in a time when you know in your heart, you are living the best days you have ever lived, are more joyful and thankful than you ever have been and sometimes in awe that this is your life, considering where you had come from and what a mess your life had seemed during your darkest hours.

Then imagine being able to read someone's words, someone you don't even remember, written about you during the dark time.

Exactly that happened to me yesterday. Waiting in the mailbox from the day prior was my mother's medical records from the hospital she died in. I had requested those records to learn more about the cancer she had. There was a lot I either was never told or didn't remember. She had been diagnosed when I was twelve years old and died when I was seventeen. There was much about her illness I just didn't pay attention to.

In the medical records I found bereavement assessment records. A woman from the hospital had been assigned to me to contact periodically and track how I was coping. I hadn't remembered this woman until reading the records.

Her notes about me accurately reflected a lot of what I would say about my own self looking back to that time. But there was something about reading a stranger's perspective of me that I'm not sure I know how to put in words yet.

"She is a rebellious teen."
"Dad not involved."
"Sister says she was always mixed up, not just since mom's death."
"She's like a lost soul."
"I don't think family was close."

One month after my Mother's death:
"Is a tough kid but has very little support system."
"She feels like she has her life on track now (plans for school and less partying etc.) but reading between the lines gave a different story."

Two months after:
"Our lunch date was spent talking about her boyfriend. He's "bad news" and she knows she doesn't need him or his temper but he's the only support for her now. She talked about having no self-confidence, not feeling like she deserved a "good guy" - seems to be so many instances of abandonment for her."
"Unlike other conversations she sounded sort of remote, as if she couldn't afford to have feelings right now."

Three months after:
"She seems well-organized but lost emotionally under a facade of "tough chick" - very insecure in some ways. Seems like a critical time for her."

Four months after:
"Seems impossible to reach her. And I'm not sure any of my messages are getting through."

One year later:
"She's still in school. Made Dean's list last semester."
"As always difficult to tell what's really going on. She's a very self-sufficient young lady."

There were no more records after that.

This morning I was still contemplating what I had read in those medical records and the journey I've been on since the time they were written. I watched this video, courtesy of a commentator at VP and Vox. What beautiful timing God has.

Just when you would think the ditch is too deep and I'm undeserving that's when God rocked up and opened my eyes to His reality
I began the journey of walking with God and in that experience he began to bring cleansing to defilement. He began to bring healing to my angry, wounded, ripped-off heart and then he dressed himself up in skin and loved me potently through his people. 
I met RLB two years and three months after my mother's death. We were married nine months after that. Shortly after we married I saw what RLB does when life is difficult. He reads the Bible. Even Especially when his wife was mocking him for doing so.

In case you are new here and don't know the past of the woman RLB valued enough to marry and witness to, you may read it here.

In two days RLB and I celebrate our 20th Anniversary. I am so very grateful for this man. 

Thank you, RLB, for looking past the wretched mess I was and for heeding and living God's instruction for husbands: 
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. -Ephesians 5:25-33
You are my favorite thing.