Archive | May 2014

I Married a Sinner (and So Did He)

Nothing Else to Marry

What follows is an excerpt from my book, Love Your Husband/Love Yourself. I am posting here at the request of a blogging friend from Thankful Homemaker.

The letter quoted at the end of this passage is a personal one that Elisabeth Elliot sent me in response to a letter I mailed to her over a quarter century ago.

That was in the days before the Internet, when handwritten correspondence was still in fashion.

The ink on that correspondence has faded a bit and the stationery yellowed with age, but the advice Mrs. Elliot gave me therein is as timely today as it was then.

It deserves to be shared and taken to heart — for in a world filled with Hollywood chick-flicks and high expectations and Harlequin romances and (even) homeschool courtships, it is easy to lose sight of reality.

That reality is this: Your husband is human. He has flaws (as do you). And forgiveness will be essential if you ever hope to look beyond those flaws and build a happy, successful marriage.

~ Words of Wisdom ~

We know that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23), but there is a difference between philosophically acknowledging your husband’s inherent sin nature, and experientially coming face to face with a particular offense which affects you. This is where the rubber meets the road, where forgiveness becomes more than a theoretical platitude.

I first grappled with this distinction back in 1986, the year I finished college. Doug and I had met two weeks before graduation and become fast friends. We held so many things in common — values, goals, beliefs, even mannerisms — that my own mother told me she would fear we were siblings had I been adopted as Doug was.

We were soon making plans for the future, determined that our life together should be built on trust and transparency. Against the advice of all his friends, Doug was completely candid with me about his past failings, and I am eternally grateful for his honesty.

Although the events he described had occurred in the distant past, his confession was difficult for me to bear; it consumed my thoughts by day and tormented my dreams by night.

Careworn and weary, I finally wrote to Elisabeth Elliot for counsel. With her permission, I close this chapter with her response, dated September 30, 1986.

Dear Jennifer:

How my heart went out to you last night as I read your letter, just received. I understand perfectly how you felt…. Even God, who forgives the sin and casts it into the depths of the sea, does not undo the effect of that sin, nor can you…. The tears, the nightmares, the unbidden imaginary pictures that torment you — how well I empathize with all of that, and pray for your comfort and healing.

First let me say that Doug is to be commended for not allowing himself to deceive you. He must have been in an agony over the decision to tell you, knowing at least a little bit how much it would hurt.

Second, you suffer not alone, but actually and redemptively with Christ (see Colossians 1:24, Philippians 1:29, 1 Peter 4:12-13, and many other passages). This aspect of suffering is a real life-changer. Study it for the rest of your life.

Third, you suffer quite literally because of another’s sin, which is exactly what Christ did. Because He paid the price for yours, you too must be willing to pay the price for Doug’s — the price of sorrow, heartbreak, the sense of irremediable loss…. Forgiveness means absolute relinquishment of all that. It is a laying down of your life. Your dream of the “perfect” man has to go — it is this man God has given you, another sinner (there isn’t anything else to marry!) — it is this gift you receive in thanksgiving, acknowledging the fact that in this fallen, broken world, there is no place where the heart may be perfectly at rest and wholly filled except at the Spring of Living Water. Drink there, dear Jennifer, and be at peace.

Doug’s admission will always be a reminder to you that he needs your sacrificial, self giving love. When you sin against him, as you certainly will, any wife does, you will then know, when you have to ask his forgiveness, that you are two human beings in need of the Amazing Grace that saves WRETCHES!! You are, as Peter wrote, “heirs together of the grace of life.”

So forgive him freely, utterly, joyfully — for that is how Christ has forgiven you (Ephesians 4:32). Bring all those awful thoughts and imaginations under the Lordship of Christ (2 Corinthians 10), and receive this man as your God-given husband, promising to honor, which means, among other things, never to bring up again that which has been put under the Blood.

I know a young woman who steadfastly refused to forgive her husband…. She has, in spite of Christian profession, destroyed her marriage, destroyed her own life, and blighted the lives of others. Don’t refuse the grace of God for your own deep needs, nor refuse to Doug the grace He will give you to forgive him.

Lovingly,
Elisabeth Elliot

I’m not sure what I had expected Elisabeth Elliot to say to me, but — twenty-eight years and twelve children later — I am so very grateful that she gave me the advice she did… and that I had sense enough to take it.

If this is an area of struggle in your life, I pray God will give you the grace to take it, too.


Want to read more? You can find Love Your Husband/ Love Yourself at Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and many other fine booksellers. It is also available for Kindle or the Nook.

Love Your Husband/ Love YourselfWhat readers are saying:

“This book is the talk your mom never had the nerve to have with you.”

“I wish I had read it years ago…”

“Don’t miss this one.”

“…a message openly opposed by our culture and sadly sidestepped by the church.”

“…one of the most candid, honest, beautiful books on marriage I have ever read.”

Forever After (Free Printable Subway Art)


Wedding season is upon us: We’ve been invited to three weddings in four weeks, and it’s not even June yet!

What’s more, at least two of those brides are in their early twenties, which gives me hope that the trend toward delaying marriage an extra decade (or forgoing it altogether) may be starting to turn.

That makes me happy.

To celebrate, I decided to create a new piece of subway art.

You can print the design in the original 8×10 size for framing, or if you’re the crafty sort, you may want to print four copies per page, trim, and then mount them on cardstock to make your own wedding cards.

This is what all the brides we know will be getting with their gifts from us this season (along with a copy of my book).

Praying for Your Unborn Child

A friend of mine once told me that, all through one of her pregnancies, she prayed God would give her a beautiful little girl with blue eyes and dark hair.

God granted that request, but the little girl was also quite stubborn. She was so headstrong, in fact, that by the time she was two years old, my friend was wishing she’d spent more of her pregnancy praying for her daughter’s character than for her physical features!

Of course, I don’t think praying for a baby is like ordering off a menu, but I do know that God delights in giving us the desires of our heart (Psalm 37:4-5) — especially when those desires are in line with His own.

While it never occurred to me or my husband to pray for a child’s hair or eye color, or even for a particular sex, we certainly sent up many other heartfelt petitions for our children, beginning from the first moment we learned we were expecting, if not before.

Here are the things for which we most fervently prayed:

Prayer for an Unborn Child

C is for Conscience

Pray that God would give your child a tender conscience and would draw her to faith at an early age. Pray that she would be anointed by the Holy Spirit even in the womb and would know and love the Holy Scriptures from infancy. (1 Timothy 1:5; Luke 18:16-17; Luke 1:14-15; 2 Timothy 3:15)

H is for Health

Pray that, if would please Him, God would give your child good health and a strong body. Recognize that is is He who knits your baby together in her mother’s womb, and ask Him to watch carefully over every stage of her development. (3 John 1:2; Isaiah 40:29; Psalm 139:13-16)

I is for Intellect

Ask God to give your child understanding, so she might learn His commands. Pray that He’d bless her with a sound mind and would grant her wisdom and discernment. Pray that she would love the truth and not be swayed by false teaching. (Psalm 119:73; James 1:5; Proverbs 2:2-11; Ephesians 4:14)

L is for Love

Pray that your child would feel secure both in God’s love and in her parents’ love. Pray that she would learn to put others first. Pray that she would love the LORD with all her heart, soul, mind, and strength, and would love others as herself. (Romans 8:38-39; 1 John 4:19; Mark 12:30-31; Philippians 2:2-4)

D is for Disposition

Ask God to give your child a happy, cheerful disposition. Pray that He would fill her heart with joy and gratitude. Pray that she would bring hope and encouragement to everyone she meets. (Proverbs 15:13; 1 Thessalonians 5:18; Ephesians 6:7; Romans 15:13; Proverbs 12:25; Hebrews 10:23-25)


“For this child I prayed, and the LORD has granted me what I asked of Him.” (1 Samuel 1:27)

Do you (did you) pray for your babies before they were born? On what things were you most likely to focus your requests?

Parents should never underestimate the power of prayer. Even if you’ve not prayed consistently in the past, you can start now. Here are a couple of our other free printable guides to help you do that:

Praying for Your Children from Head to Toe
Praying for Your Teenager

We invite you to check out our printables page for even more!

Pray for Your Teen!

I received a request from a reader this week for a printable prayer guide for teens. Here’s what she wrote:

Thank you so much for your head-to-toe prayers! I’ve been using your husband one to pray for my husband for a few months and it’s been powerful! I like the one for children, also, which I just found today. I’d love it if you made one specifically geared toward teenaged children. I currently have five in that age range and never has there been a time in their lives when they need more prayer.

She’s right, of course.

Our children need prayer at every age and stage of life. They need Mom and Dad to faithfully and fervently bring them to the throne of Grace and intercede on their behalf. This is especially true during their teen years, as they navigate the sometimes tortuous path from carefree childhood to responsible adulthood.

And as we are praying for our teens, we must also remember to pray for ourselves — that God would grant us wisdom to face what challenges lie ahead, that He would give us patience to meet those challenges with understanding and grace, and that He would comfort us with the knowledge that He loves our children even more than we do and will be faithful to complete the good work He’s begun in them. (Philippians 1:6)

– A Prayer Guide for Your Teens –

T is for Trust

Ask God not only to bring your children to saving faith, but also to mature them in that faith. Pray that they would trust the LORD with all their hearts and not lean on their own understanding. Pray that you, as a parent, would maintain their trust, so that they will always feel comfortable confiding in you or coming to you for counsel. Pray that your teens would prove themselves worthy of the trust others place in them. (Ephesians 2:8; James 1:4; Proverbs 3:5; Proverbs 5:1; Proverbs 25:13)

E is for Education

Pray that the LORD would place within your children’s hearts a lifelong thirst for wisdom, knowledge, and understanding. Pray that your teens would learn to number their days and use their time wisely. Ask God to give them an eternal focus, so they will prioritize those things that He says are important. And ask that He’d provide clear direction as they make decisions regarding college and career paths. (Prov. 23:23; Psalm 90:12; Micah 6:8; James 1:5; Proverbs 2:3-11)

E is for Emotions

Ask God for an extra measure of sympathy and discernment as you parent your child through puberty and beyond. Pray that He would keep the lines of communication open as you discuss with them the fact that hormones not only affect the way their bodies grow, but the way they think, as well. Ask Him to help your teens navigate those changes wisely, while nurturing the fruit of the Spirit, including love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, and (especially) self-control. Pray that they would not be ruled by their feelings, but would take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. (1 Peter 3:8; Ephesians 4:29; Psalm 19:14; Proverbs 4:20-27; Galatians 5:22-23; Jeremiah 17:9-10; 2 Corinthians 10:5)

N is for Name

Pray that your teens would live and walk with integrity and that God would reward them with a good name. Pray that they’d do nothing to tarnish their reputation, but would serve as salt and light in their community, that the love of Christ would shine through them to a lost and dying world. Ask God to help them choose their friends and confidants wisely. Pray that no one should look down on their youthfulness, but that in speech, conduct, love, faith, and purity, they would show themselves an example of those who believe. (Proverbs 11:3; Proverbs 20:7; Proverbs 3:3-4; Matthew 5:13-14; Proverbs 13:20; Proverbs 27:17; 1 Timothy 4:12)

S is for Spouse

Pray that God would give your teens a clear vision of all that marriage is meant to be. Ask Him to grant them patience as they wait on His choice and timing, temperance to meanwhile maintain their purity (both in thought and deed), and a spirit of discernment as they evaluate potential mates. Pray that God would help them become the kind of person they want to marry, that they might be equally yoked in every way. (Mark 10:6-9; Psalm 33:22; 1 John 3:3; Romans 6:12-14; Proverbs 18:22; Proverbs 31:10-31; 2 Corinthians 6:14)


These are the things my husband and I pray for our teens. Can you think of anything we’ve left off the list? Maybe “S for Safety” — especially as they start to drive? You may just have to flip the page over and continue the list of specifics on the back!

You can download all our other prayer guides here: Free Printables.

“The LORD is near to all who call upon Him, who call upon Him in truth. He will fulfill the desire of those who fear him; He will also hear their cry and will save them.” (Psalm 145:18-19)