Have you ever wasted time trying to help people make sense of a calling God gave to YOU?

Maybe after prayer and confirmation all we need to do is get to work.

What are you going to walk boldly into that God has called you to do?

Your sister,

Monica

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Weak isn’t the same thing as wimpy.

American culture would say otherwise; especially for men.

You aren’t allowed to show weakness.

To make matters worse we’ve taken to inferring weakness from normal human emotions. If you get hurt, you must be weak. If you cry, you must be weak.

Everyday life struggles are taken as a sign of weakness for the men enduring them.

Your marriage is struggling: you must be weak.

You lost your job: weak.

You’re not making enough money: weak.

Can’t send your kids to private school, take the family on vacation, have the “right” car & house, or solve world hunger…

Weak, weak, weak!

Yes, by this fallen world’s definition it may be true. But we live by a greater standard.

One that requires recognition of true weakness and ultimately shows our God strong in us.

“we’ve taken to inferring weakness from normal human emotions”

You’ll never be able to provide enough… because you aren’t the Provider.

You’ll never love your wife enough… but you can point her to the One who does.

You’ll never be void of negative emotion… and that’s a good thing because God hears the prayers of the broken.

So men, will you be our confidently weak heroes?

We don’t need you to be strong. We need you to be real so you become strong.

We need your leadership as broken, humble men who rely on Jesus; not as pompous, “self-made” fakes.

We need to walk alongside each other as husbands & wives, brothers & sisters, mothers & sons, fathers & daughters who know our failings and choose to bare them that God may be glorified instead of our egos.

Here’s to all the real heroes out there! May God strengthen you in your submission to Him.

We honor you for choosing humility amidst a world full of pride.

Your sister,

Monica

We don’t suffer from it but we often suffer because of it.

We are the ones who see the darkest parts of what depression does to a person. We have sat for hours in beds, on the floor & in bathtubs with it.

We have sat silent in the car waiting until it lifts so we can walk into the party with it, or even just into Target, and pretend to be normal for a little while.

“We are the most fragile and the most resilient warriors”

We have prayed under our breath with our hand on your head at night, crying out to God to save you from this evil of persistent hopelessness.

In the morning we launch into worship and more prayer. We cover you in prayer every day and many moments throughout the day.

We have ignored our own needs. At times we have told you exactly what we need.

Even when we are vulnerable enough to profess our human loneliness, we are not naive enough to think you will suddenly be capable of loving us amidst your pain.

We hate your depression, not you, but sometimes we take it out on you because it’s too hard to understand why you ignore us and don’t ever want to take us out anymore. Why you don’t seek after us.

We are the most fragile and the most resilient warriors.

We have talked you down from the unspeakable. Some of us have put our own lives in danger to save yours. To give you enough time to realize that life isn’t so bad and you are loved.

We want nothing in return, but we are in grave pain and feel like your depression might kill us at times.

But we will not give up. That was never an option.

The world might see us as the wives of depression, but we are wives of a unique breed of warriors.

We will not accept the devil’s definition of who we are or who you are. He is a liar and you will be free.

We know there is freedom.

We know that freedom is in Jesus, and we know He is faithful to complete the work He has begun. Both in you and in our marriage.

We will never leave you. Even on the days you feel the lowest, remember that we are for you.

Remember there are millions of us praying and fighting alongside you. We will never give up.

Neither should you.

Your sister,

Monica

NOTE: The images and words contained here are not meant to imply that all women whose spouses battle depression are being abused. There are varying degrees of depression, some accompanied by expressions of aggression. If you find yourself or a loved one in this situation, please reach out for help as soon as possible. It is not heroic to submit to abuse.

She was so much more fun when you met, probably the life of the party.

She didn’t side-eye you when you let out a curse word or get uptight about movies with racist or heavy sexual themes. She had the same dark humor as you and a quick wit to boot.

Then this guy Jesus wrecked it all.

The girl you once fell in love with has become more concerned with making it to church in time for worship than staying up late with you the night before. She’s becoming increasingly more illogical and her joy (over seemingly nothing) is obnoxious at times. You feel like all she does is criticize you and you can’t do anything right in her eyes.

You wonder why she is even still with you. You don’t even enjoy the same things anymore.

Sometimes you wonder if she’s faking it; acting out some pious, religious fantasy of who she thinks she is supposed to be now that she hangs around all these other fake church people.

You miss the relationship you had before. You miss the fun and the passion. Her passion has been displaced from you and now rests securely in the Lord.

I’m here to tell you it’s time to get over yourself.

She’s not faking.

And this is better.

She does love you or she would have left you already… but you are not her world anymore. That’s good news.

It may have been nice when she relied on you for everything; helped you feel masculine and dependable. But I’m here to let you know that you were on track for a breakdown. Mere humans are not designed to be able to carry that kind of weight. Only Christ can.

If you are totally honest with yourself, you know that you never really could meet all her needs anyway. Something was always lacking. That something was someone… this Jesus she has found.

But you’re not useless. Your woman still needs you, just in a different way.

She needs you to pray for her. She needs you to hold her and speak life into her when she is struggling and chooses to be vulnerable with you. She might even need you to step up parental contribution if God calls her into ministry… but most importantly she needs you to find Jesus for yourself.

She needs the reassurance that you love her with an eternal, undying love that only God can give through you.

She needs to see you submitting yourself the the Lord, His Word and will, while she learns to follow you as the head of the family.

You need this too.

So yes, get over it. You’ll be glad when you come to find this Jesus she has realized in her own life. You’ll be able to celebrate with her and love more deeply than you ever thought possible. You’ll have real passion, and you’ll have it with her.

Now go pray with your “girl” who’s become a woman of God. But don’t worry if you can’t bring yourself to do that just yet. I guarantee she will be praying for you.

Your sister,

Monica

Every so often I glance over my website to check the flow and feel of it. I want to make sure that my readers are engaged and not distracted. Uplifted (even through my difficult posts), and not weighed down.

I noticed something interesting today as I skimmed the site.

There is a hard, clear shift in the visual content beginning with the first post after my husband returned from his deployment in Afghanistan, and in every post thereafter.

It looks brighter and happier!

Now, I had noticed earlier on that my posts were not particularly joyful from a visual perspective though I have tried to maintain solid hope and truth in the articles nevertheless.

The point is that I had initially tried to change it and failed.

I found myself unable to commit to the “happy” persona it seemed I must have in order to be a well-received, Christian writer. I couldn’t commit because it was not authentic… and I’m terrible at faking it, or as I’d rather call it, “lying”.

A rip-off is a put off and that’s what faking it eventually produces: repulsion.

I just can’t do it!

I’ve heard that there is a certain persona one must maintain when in the public eye. I have heard that there is not much wiggle room for pastors. If anything there is less.

We Christians tend to hold our leaders to an impossible standard of holiness and perfection. Perhaps this is because we have too often placed our hope in them instead of the Lord?

I refuse to be part of the insanity.

I appreciate leaders who do not subject themselves to such things. My own pastor says often that if you are looking for the pastor who has it all together, he’s not that guy. While I share on a much deeper level than generalities, I concur. None of us have got it all together.

The difficult part is acknowledging our shortcomings and being willing to walk through the obscurity.

Anytime we are following God’s will there is going to be obscurity. When certainty abounds it is likely we have inserted our plans into the places God had intended to work miracles.

Where are you today?

Do you have it all figured out? Is the master plan going along swimmingly as you climb the ladder? Is everything is measuring up to what you imagined?

If it is you are settling for less.

I want to encourage you to make peace with the unknown. It is in the dessert where God prepares us for the Promised Land. It’s okay to be lost in the desert for a while. It happens to all of us. It will all make sense later.

Being on the other side of this I can tell you that it doesn’t last forever and there is always hope.

Don’t hide.

Don’t isolate.

Don’t try to be what you think you’re supposed to be when God has approved you with His own blood!

He’ll work it out. All you have to do is stay close to Him. Most importantly, remember His love for you and saturate yourself in the Word. My bleakest situations have been those I failed to confront with the truth of scripture.

If life is about how you see it, choose to see the truth.

Your sister,

Monica

Six years and one day ago I was baptized.

Spiritually, I felt like the chic in this photo… but with really cold bubblescause my pastor thought it was funny to dunk us in freezing water. (Just kidding, but it was legit COLD!)

Anyhow, that baptism was the cumulation of a week of fasting for my marriage (during which I realized I didn’t actually believe the gospel), a time of complete surrender, and the beginning of this ministry journey I have been on ever since.

The realization of my unbelief CRUSHED me. It was the darkest hour of my life. In an instant everything lost its meaning and there was no hope. No purpose.

I begged for faith. I received it immediately. I went right back to scripture and read about Peter’s reconciliation with Jesus.

Do you love me?” Jesus asked three times. After the third time Peter professed his love for Christ he was instructed to “feed My sheep” by his Savior.

I had faith. I had gratitude overflowing as a result. I wanted to feed His sheep too!! So I begged:

“Let me feed your sheep!”

He granted this ability along with the passion faith had produced. I had purpose! Only, it didn’t materialize as quickly as I hoped.

This eventually frustrated me.

I’m an action person. Observe, orient, decide, act. I’m such an action person that I often skipped the other steps.

This landed me in little puddles of hot water along my ministry journey.

I needed time to mature in faith.

I kept walking in my calling the best I could, awaiting the time I might be entrusted with a larger flock. Sometimes I wanted to quit. I got tired in all kinds of ways: physically, spiritually, emotionally. Sometimes I picked up other people’s demons and didn’t know how to battle in prayer to get the suckers off my back. At one point, my marriage (the very thing that had prompted my spiritual honesty) almost ended.

I was spent. I couldn’t go another day. I had allowed myself to be isolated…

And then I found a church that felt like home.

Not only could I serve here, but I was taught how to really battle in prayer. Our family was prayed over. My marriage was restored beyond belief. Our finances were restored. (We had made quite a mess of things.)

Now, I could settle in and just be a part of instead of leading so much. After two years of serving, however, the opportunity to serve again in the way I pleaded for has presented itself. So…

What happens when everything you’ve wanted suddenly becomes possible? Will you still want it? Will you ignore the naysayers (including yourself)?

The answer to these questions may uncover if your really ever wanted it at all.

My first reaction was to recoil and not be “self-promotional”. Then I remembered a sermon one of our pastors delivered about discerning God’s will. In a nutshell, it was ‘obey God, be helpful not harmful, and include room for the desires of your heart’ (God put them there after all!)

my chicken-scratch notes:

I found myself wrestling with that top right corner. The most difficult option for me.

The option that was left after I had checked the situation against scripture, prayed about it and discerned that my preferred decision is actually very beneficial… too beneficial, because it includes benefit for me.

I have to make a decision that is what I want to do.

No matter how far I separate myself from fear and shame it seems to find a way to creep up and start tapping at the door again. Perhaps my biggest struggle is sheer unfamiliarity with the concept itself.

The concept that we should actually enjoy this life.

Without struggle or self sacrifice as an option and with my dreams in front of me wide-open for the taking, I have to choose to do something that could be seemingly selfish.

The shame I left behind when I accepted Jesus as sufficient is still beckoning me to depart from my calling.

Today I’m choosing not to listen to it. I can’t know the perfect will of God in every choice I make. When I meet Him someday it will all be clear.

Until then all I’ve got is the next best step and confidence that I have walked in righteousness the best I can. I can trust my discernment even if it happens to include my benefit…

Because He loves me and wants good for me.

So I want to encourage any of you who are struggling with similar things. Any of you who have become so adept at survival that it is foreign to see things working for your good.… I’m here to tell you that this is not how it was meant to be.

God DOES work for your good!

Whatever voices are stuck in your head: be it from parents, teachers, or simply a well intended yet false message delivered from the lips of a friend… It is time to walk away from the lies!

Step into who you are and fully into your calling. Don’t apologize. Don’t explain.

Lose yourself in mountains of prayer and praise as you navigate through these times. Hide away and stay on your knees until they go numb if you must. Seek the heart of God. For it is there and ONLY there you will find your true self your true purpose… and there is no shame in His presence.

It is only there that you can truly honor Him by being who He has created you to be.

May you walk in freedom and joy every day.

Your sister,

Monica

There is little more humbling than to acquire a platform and then have nothing to say.

This is the great fear of everyone who has ever spoken in public, with the exception of narcissists who think they always have something important to say.

I have never had this problem.

I have the opposite dilemma. Though I am not fooled into believing everything I say has meaning and importance, I DO find myself talking too much.

It’s really hard for me to control my mouth.

I LOVE to talk! Matter fact, I’m talking right now! I don’t even write these blogs half the time, I just speak them using the voice feature on my phone or some other device!

But there are times when I really do need to just shut up.

On two occasions now I have decided to fast from unnecessary speech. The tongue is the most difficult thing to control, but I cannot relent. I know in my heart that I would benefit from shutting my mouth. Of course this is far more difficult to implement than to say. Usually, about two days in, I start complaining again.

I hate being a complainer!

I grew up in an environment where complaining was considered “expression” right along with curse-words. In a house of four daughters and one often exhausted single-mother, whoever spoke the loudest (or screamed rather) was the one who was heard.

Being loud was a survival mechanism.

It has taken me 33 years of my life to come to the realization that this is not only unhealthy, but that I am behaving in a rather infantile manner when I shout and complain. There are plenty of other maladaptive, manipulative behaviors we humans exhibit, these are just the ones I struggle with.

Anyhow, revelation of this maladaptive behavior I still carry has not aided me any in correcting it.

I still yell. Occasionally I hit something.

I try to make that something a half rack of weights rather than a door or wall (it’s not people anymore these days, thank God), but my lifestyle does not afford me that flexibility every time I need it.

So… After hearing for years from my husband that I am:

1) a little crazy and

2) I need to be quiet (yes we are still married)

I have now heard the same thingfrom my mentor. The good news is I finally got a mentor! The bad news is, he basically just told me that I’m crazy and I need to shut up more!

Now I have to go back to my husband and tell him that I have heard the exact words he has been telling me for years and yet now they finally struck a chord (facepalm).

*in my defense, it is always easier to take correction from someone who is not I am not emotionally tied to… which is why everyone should have a mentor.

Nevertheless, here I stand. Responsible for my own actions.

After all of my frustration and rumination over the past and how I grew up in my home, on the streets, and in the clubs all that matters is self control.

I don’t get a pass because I got dealt a crappy hand.

There is no magical prayer that is going to cause God to get me to shut my mouth from complaining or ranting on my children. (I tried that and it worked but only for a little while.)

The hard cold reality is that I need to stop it. I need to exercise self-control.

I have a choice to make every single time that maladaptive, frightened, angry, toddler Monica decides to show her ugly face. I have a choice to look that person I used to be squarely in the eye and tell her that she doesn’t live here anymore.

And the only way to get my point across clearly is by saying nothing.

I’m going to let that little tyrant stomp her feet and scream until her face turns blue and not open my mouth or share a word of what she is thinking.

I will wait for the chaos in my mind to dissipate.

When that childish, has-been, shadow of me passes out like a toddler on the floor with no more energy left, I’m going to sing and dance around my house with the victory of Christ!

I will have come one step closer to shaping my home into the home it was always meant to be and I have always wanted it to be. I will truly be able to say with each passing day “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

I will lead the way!

I will embrace the influence I have in my home as a woman of God. Just because something is bubbling up inside of me, doesn’t mean I have to speak it into this world! It may not be the right time, context, or in the right spirit.

Discernment is my best friend, but my ride or die is Silence. She’s got my back when nobody else does… even myself.

For all of you fellow crazies out there I just wanted to let you know I love you with all my heart with the love of Christ and you are (still) not alone.

Don’t ever change for anyone but the Lord. All else is vanity.

He knows your heart because He gave it to you and it is His own. You, we, will overcome. Till next time.

Your sister,

Monica