Redeeming Sexual Love, Weekly Quotable

Weekly Quotable: I shared this course with my husband every Monday night and just by that communicating, we understand each other much more. –Participant 4F

12 May 2016

Monday, November 23, 2015

Standing Still...

So often, when I have opportunities to share with women, I feel helpless to create change, and long to clearly, concisely and QUICKLY communicate the truths God used to heal Greg and my relationship. Unfortunately, it seems like this just isn't happening! We have opportunities to share on a regular basis, with a few. These opportunities energize us and keep us convinced that publishing Redeeming Sexual Love By the Power of God's Plan, will happen, in the Lord's time. But clear? Concise? And quick? Nope. Not yet.

Four people who know and trust us to communicate Biblical truth on the topic of marriage and the sexual relationship have pledged to help us financially to publish. We’re excited about that and encouraged by their interest and support. We have even been in dialogue with publishers. But recently, we began to get feedback from couples regarding the clarity of the writing style that indicates it isn’t ready to be published yet.

The positive feedback we’ve received from those we’ve personally worked through the study with has been significant. Understanding the Biblical picture of a man and wife, then experiencing it even in their physical relationship, is life changing! We love getting together with couples because God uses His Word to create life and understanding. It’s inspiring, invigorating and we feel blessed and privileged to be a part of God’s work. Since we’ve been reading, writing and reworking the study through interactions with people, it was disappointing to realize that even with the input we've had so far, clarity is an issue. (You can read participant responses to survey questions about the Bible study, by clicking on, “RSL–Bible Study Participant Survey” in the index to the right.) 

Discouraged, but not dissuaded; we believe the message is of the Lord. As the He provides in the areas we lack, this study will be published well. However, we don’t want to publish something that won’t reach those who need to hear it because it's not communicated clearly. So, we’ll continue to use RSL, sharing with individuals and couples as we have the opportunity. We know we can do that effectively. And we’ll continue to simplify its message and trust God to clarify His truths. We’ll continue to watch for God’s provision.  We’ll seek counsel regarding publishing and how to communicate this message in a world bombarded by information technology. We haven’t given up, but once again feel put on hold. We believe that we are fighting a battle for marriages, unity, and understanding between people. It’s a spiritual battle that's not ours to win.

In 1998, in the middle of the night, I went to the home of a counselor and trusted friend. I’ll never forget the truth I left with:

“Stand still.  Ephesians chapter six says we’re to put on the armor of God and then stand still.”

When I questioned her wording, she pointed out an essential truth. To "stand firm", one can’t be moving. God says to put on His armor and then wait: still, firm, and ready. With the truth of the situation and the truth of the Word of God in hand, I can stand still and confident, because I'm His child, and have been saved by and experienced His intervention. Historically, God always does the fighting on behalf of His people. He wants us to recognize His hand in our lives, and that it is Him who brings us through our battles. He brought Greg and me through the most difficult years of figuring out our marriage and specifically our physical relationship. And the change it created keeps us loving and enjoying one another in every area of our life and the work we do together.

This morning, I had one of those opportunities where I was able to encourage but helpless to create change. My friend and her husband have been married about half the number of years, as Greg and I. She is a wife, mother of three, in ministry with her husband, and a nursing student. Presently she is in the thick of memorizing terms and processes of anatomy and physiology, and feeling the strain of learning while in high-pressure circumstances in the clinic. She’s feeling tired and inadequate. But her question was one of loneliness. “What do I do when my husband finally arrives home and I want to talk, connect with him, hear about his day and tell him about mine, but he is silent, tired, distracted and just can’t be bothered?” Both are under stress. Both are sacrificing for the sake of others. And their unity is compromised by loneliness. All I could do to encourage her, was share one fundamental truth and urge her to communicate with her husband, and also to hear from him. The fundamental truth?  While husbands and wives are equally needy and driven to experience connection, their drives are very different but complementary.  And when both focus on the vital emotional and physical needs of the another, they will equip one another to cope with the stresses they each face.

Will you pray for my friend? And pray for us. We’d like to see more couples enjoying and benefitting from the supportive relationship God designed our marriages to be. When we consider the devastation that is rife around the globe, we believe it is the result of isolation and loneliness. Except for God’s intervention, each of us grows up and feel alone in the midst of a busy world that fails to connect meaningfully as God intended. And so people, desperate to be noticed, and desperate to communicate something significant, make statements via word and action. But who is truly being heard? And what kind of difference has it made?

Greg and I would also like to communicate something that we believe is significant. We trust, if it is important, God will bring it about as we stand still and watch Him work out the details. It has made a huge difference in our lives, and in the lives of a few others. It was the kind of difference that feels right. Like a good plan, from a good God. We know we can't communicate this alone. And trust that He'll show us through His people how to complete that which He's begun. Thanks for taking the time to read this blog, and for your continued interest and support.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Divine Love Is Not Out Of This World

Greg and I celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary on September 7th. For the first time in many years, we took a week to celebrate, remember and just enjoy. We enjoyed God's goodness in our lives and being thankful for the journey He's walked with us. We enjoyed thoughts of our children, His creation and His many gifts demonstrating the power of His love. Understanding is one of them.

Never believe the notion that a man can never understand a woman, and a woman can never understand a man. Men are not from Mars, and women are not from Venus. God placed us both on planet Earth; so, together, we could live in relationships of integrity and trust. Marriage is all about building trust to live vulnerably and confidently with one another; it is about equipping one another to face what comes each day.

There were times that I hated being married, and times that Greg really wanted to walk away. Looking back we know perseverance in difficult times, and pursuing understanding in our relationship were necessary. Because we never gave up, our love is strong and trust unwavering.

Perseverance through frustration has served to strengthen our unity and the bond of love we share. We usually understand; and now, we can communicate openly, lovingly and yet honestly when we don’t. We don’t have to agree. But we do have to understand, and be willing to come to a mutual conclusion. Godly restraint, honestly communicating our hearts, comprehending one another’s needs, and submitting to one another, are vital in this process.

We are confident in our relationship. There is no sense of shame in the vulnerability this process requires. Greg and I trust, and know that what we go through, we’ll go through together. This understanding and trust have become the platform and foundation we depend upon when we face that which threatens our sense of self and well-being.

God designed a husband and wife to support and equip one another to face life’s challenges. He designed mankind to live together meaningfully and supportively in relationships, where vulnerability is not fearful, and trustworthiness is plentiful. This kind of relationship has been far removed from most of us, and we are bound by broken relationships. Still, each of us longs for the connectedness of another, who understands. Marriage is God's practice ground, the place of working out our salvation from this brokenness and bondage. Never give up on understanding this very special and sacred relationship. When a marriage commitment is made, it becomes God's plan and the path to bring two people together, and back into relationships and connectedness such as God designed.

We certainly don’t approach perfection. We just want to encourage you, that by God’s plan He is a miracle working God! It is our prayer that He’ll continue the good work He has begun in your life and ours.

Thanking God for His faithfulness in our life and yours,
Greg and Carlene

Saturday, July 25, 2015

We're Publishing ...and YOU can help!

As we work on the finishing touches for the Bible study Redeeming Sexual Love …By the Power of God’s Plan (RSL), we’ve also been researching the publishing process. We’ve decided to publish with BelieversPress. BelieversPress is the self-publishing arm of Bethany Press.We’ve discovered that BelieversPress offers three options in self-publishing. The first option offered, practically speaking is for those who have published previously and know what they are doing (That’s not us! JJJ). The next two packages differ by the amount of guidance included in regards to sales and marketing.

The basic level we feel is an option for us is the “Launch Package". This package would set us up with the basics needed for sales and marketing. BelieversPress helps us with creating templates and entering the book into the marketing system. Once those tasks were accomplished, we would be on our own in terms of navigating our way through distribution and increasing people's awareness of its availability. The “Professional Package” contains everything from the Launch Package and includes six months of guidance through the network of advertising and sales.

We have been encouraged by several people that we should not underestimate the value of marketing, and to consider how to develop a marketing strategy. We have some who have promised to support the publishing of RSL financially, and we are hoping others will join in. The goal for publishing this study is to share the Word of God relevantly on the topic of sexual love. In our years of marriage, the Lord led Greg and Me through quite a journey of healing our relationship. With our varied pasts, addressing our sexuality and our sexual history was an enormous part of the healing process. We've begun sharing this journey with others at a personal level. As the Lord creates opportunities, we've committed to sharing our life and our understanding of His plan with others. We'd like to make this Biblical journey available to an audience wider than the people in our immediate proximity.We are not publishing with a goal of making money. We are asking those who are able, to help us be able to share relevant Biblical truths with others who may be struggling through relationship issues. If you are able to help us by contributing any amount, please let us know. You may contact us directly or by using the "Contact Us" option to the right, on this screen. We'll get back to you immediately, and keep you updated in the months ahead.Thank you for your interest in this corner of our ministry. Redeeming Sexual Love … By the Power of God’s Plan is all about the power of redemption in our lives, even our sex life. It is practical, and spiritual. Redemption begins with the Lord working practically through understanding His plan. We trust that He will provide and lead us that we may share this Biblical journey in the way that honors Him.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Where We Are At...

"Where we are at" is a phrase that can elicit several questions. Physically: In what place are you? Mentally: What are you thinking? As it relates to a task (such as publishing this Bible study): Is the process still moving forward?

Physically we have been on quite a journey. First Carlene, and after a couple of months Greg, traveled to the USA. Since March, we have assisted and supported two of our sons as they immigrated back to the USA. While we were there, we also celebrated our other son's graduation and marriage. All of our children and families now reside in the USA. Therefore, at this time, Greg and I are officially "empty nesters" South Africa ...together.

Mentally: the changes in our children’s lives create questions for us that we can't answer. We love our work here, and we are excited for our children and where they are each at in life. We are taking each day as it comes and trusting the Lord to guide us in our life and relationships. We love life and people on both sides of the ocean and will endeavor to keep up with each one.

We are excited and enjoy the opportunities the Lord has given us to share and, we trust, to one day publish Redeeming Sexual Love ...By the Power of God's Plan. The basic manuscript is complete, and includes nineteen chapters. We are progressing through the editing process, and have spoken with a couple of people in the publishing world, in preparation for submitting a Bible study proposal. Right now we are still investigating which publisher, and the process of self-publishing. We have no idea of the costs involved. 

We are thankful for those who have expressed an interest in the study, and supporting us in various ways as we work toward publication. I have compiled a participant survey to include in our initial submissions to publishers. The answers to these questions, are from individuals with whom we have had the pleasure of sharing life journeys by working through the study.

In view of the possibility that you might enjoy reading these questions and responses, I have published it on this blog site. You can find it in the "Redeeming Sexual Love Index" to the right of this post.

Thank you once again for your encouragement and support. We are trusting that God will guide us through the steps, providing continued direction and resources along the way.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

A Stitch in Time

I have felt bad that I haven't kept up with our blog or our Facebook posts for the past couple of months. The end of 2014 was a "WHIRRR..." of activity. November to January is always a busy time. Not only because of Christmas, but also in South Africa it's the end of the school year and time for summer holiday. Our ministry schedule is always crazy; on top of the normal happenings of family life, and this year add a wedding! And so our year came to an end. 

Time. Have you ever heard this phrase? "Life is like a roll of toilet paper.  The closer it gets to the end, the faster it goes." That's how I've felt the last years, as I've watched our boys becoming men. Then I'm reminded: what is life, but a stitch, when eternity is your timetable? 

It seems like not so long ago that our boys were just brothers and sons.  Suddenly they're uncles and brother-in-laws. They have jobs, and are talking about careers. …. Just a stitch in time. Just a stitch in time, and we're moving toward nine.  (I had to say that 'cause it fit the rhyme … no pressure anyone!) I am so thankful for our family.  I'm thankful for our sons, our daughters, who we have long prayed for, and one grandson. 

Redeeming Sexual Love continues to move forward. The chapters are completed and we are presently working through what we hope is our final editing before seeking publication. We are also working on finishing a Bible study proposal to present to publishers. We're confident that in God's time, this Bible study will be available in a workbook format. Thank you for your interest in our lives and this small outpouring of our journey.

One thing God made very clear to me when I first began to journal and formulate my thoughts regarding what He has taught us is this: relationships are the one thing that will last for eternity -my first priority defined. Anything I accomplish at the expense of the relationships God places in my life, will amount to nothing. God caused me to know that anything valuable will happen according to His timetable, and His priority. And so, relationships come first. Because what is a stitch in time ...when we have eternity?

So I'm thankful for the miracle of life and love that God worked in our lives to bring us to this point in our family, our friendships, and our journey with Him. The God of all creation reached down and touched our lives. Because of His goodness in all things, and His great plan, we praise Him and wait to see the completion all that He has begun.