They’re Lying to You, Julia Braverman.

If you’ve been around me any length of time, you know that I do my best not to ruffle feathers. I am off-the-charts when it comes to empathy, and generally speaking, I’ll inconvenience, embarrass, or blame myself just to keep someone else from melting with discomfort. 

So this post is a rare type for me — it’s the kind where many of you might be searching for the unsubscribe button and others of you will misinterpret my words {or not} and judge me, disagree with me, or maybe even be angry at me. 

But this time, it’s a risk I’m willing to take because friend, my heart is for you and my heart is for marriage and family and the beauty that God builds out of brokenness and hurt and the disappointment we so often face. 

This post is about marriage, and it’s about the popular prime time TV show, Parenthood. 

I’ve watched and enjoyed the show, but these last few episodes have grieved my heart.

One of the main characters, a sister in the great Braverman family, is separated from her husband. He says it’s because of an inappropriate emotional relationship she began with another father at their kids’ school, but anyone watching the show, or who has been married for any length of time, knows that the road to separation began long before that. Now coping with the separation and not knowing whether it’s a “break” or an end, Julia is navigating the waters of single adulthood while still a married woman.

I watched the last few episodes of the show — and all I want to do is have a heart-to-heart with Julia Braverman because Friends, she is hurting and she is searching, and her siblings aren’t telling her the truth!

It’s just a TV show but it grieves my heart because I am faced with the effects of adultery every single day: my history, your stories, and so many broken marriages surrounding me. This is more than just a TV show, it is a reality that many of you face today.

My heart is so broken for hurting marriages because these aren’t just hurting marriages, these are hurting people and hurting kids. So I guess I don’t really know what I’d say to Julia Braverman — I know I would be gentle and loving and honest — if you know me, you know these words would never have even a hint of condemnation; only compassion and love and tears because my heart hurts with those who are hurting. Maybe it’d be something like this:

 

Hope when your marriage is falling apart
 

They’re lying to you, Julia. When you asked if it’s okay for you to go out with Ed because he makes you “happy” – he makes you “feel good” – and your siblings said, “Yea, of course! Go for it!” – they were wrong. 

Julia, it’s not okay.

I know you feel lonely, confused, angry, and maybe even abandoned. The hurt runs deep and all you want is to feel a little happy, a little hope.

You want to feel light again and believe that good things are coming, but this is not the way.

You want to save your marriage. I can see it.

Julia, going out with another man is not the way to fight for your marriage. Following your feelings isn’t the answer. Following the feeling – giving in to the way he made you feel – is a big reason you are where you are now. You are still married. Going out with another man is adultery. It is cheating. Even if it makes you feel good. 

And Julia, when you admitted to having a one-night stand – because you needed to “break free” – and then you asked your sister if you’re a horrible person, she was wrong. You are a horrible person, but not because you had an affair. You are a horrible person because of your sin. am a horrible person because of my sin.

We all are horrible people because of the ugly, devastating effect of sin! A person who commits adultery isn’t the only person who needs a Savior. We all do, because we all have sinned! No matter how free you felt, what you did was wrong.

In that moment, you were selfish – you weren’t thinking of your husband, no matter how much he has hurt you, it doesn’t justify cheating.

You are further damaging your marriage and the repercussions will run more deeply than you know – in your marriage, in your future relationships, with your children and their future spouses. You can’t outrun adultery.

But Julia, there is hope. There is a God who sees your loneliness. He sees the box in which you’re living and the emotional turmoil burning in your hurt, and He knows you feel trapped. He knows you feel unseen, unappreciated, unknown! 

He knows you feel like you can’t breathe deep or feel relief because this isn’t how you were meant to live. This same God loves you with a love that we can’t even comprehend. It is a love that is patient and kind. One that isn’t full of pride or selfishness. His love doesn’t keep a record of the things you’ve done wrong and it is not easily angered. His love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres. His love never, ever gives up. 

There is no obstacle, no mistake, no intentional wrong choice that can keep Him from loving you. In fact, His love runs so deep that He gave up that which was most precious to Him, to wear your failure and disappointment and shame and all of our horrible – and to take the punishment that you and I so rightly deserved. He died because He loves you

But He didn’t stay dead. He conquered sin and even death! It sounds crazy or maybe distant? But His love, His death and resurrection makes a difference today, in my life and in yours.

And maybe I’m writing less and less to Julia and more and more to you and to me because –

I know what you’re thinking — You don’t know my situation, Erika. You don’t know how far things have gone.

You’re right. Friend, I say this with tears streaming down my cheeks – I don’t know your situation, but God does. He cares, and Friend, I’m believing for you.

It’s not going to be easy or fast. This could be a for-the-rest-of-your life fight or it could be a miraculous instant healing. I don’t know how God will work in your situation, but I know that His will for you is healing in Jesus Christ, forgiveness by His blood, and hope through His Spirit.

Friend, I know there are no pat answers and the hurts are deep and compounded and unbelievably tangled. I know that many days, there feels like there’s no hope, but Sister, we serve a God who conquered death, a God who breathes life into dead bones!

He makes dead things come alive

Does your marriage feel dead? Is your hope gone? God is a God of life and hope and who can do exceedingly, abundantly more than all we can ask or even imagine. He wants to breathe the breath of life into your dead relationships! 

So Julia {Friend?}, you’ve made some mistakes, and you haven’t done it all right — none of us have. But in Jesus Christ there is forgiveness. There is a fresh start. There is life and hope — and happiness. He has a bigger plan for your marriage than you ever could. Will you trust Him with it?

I believe in hope.

I believe in redemption, and I believe in healing, and it’s only because I believe in a God who felt our disappointment, carried our devastation and who wore our shame. A God who bent low, becoming one of us, and who walked this road. He died for us so that we can have life with Him – LIFE! And life to the full.

“So then, since we have a great High Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe. This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most” (Hebrews 4:14-16 NLT).

 

Friend, how can I pray for you?

 

Pray Truth: Praying God’s Word for My Husband’s Heart

For those of you who are married — whether your marriage is strong, struggling, or somewhere in between, a few years ago I wrote a series of praying God’s Word for our husband’s hearts, and it will be released this year as an eBook.

It is powerful. God has used it in my life and in the lives of others, and I honestly think it is a book that all of us  wives need.

If you are interested in keeping up with news about the book, please sign up here.

 

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Flickr Photo Credit: Bill Ohl

How do You Parent?

Holding Hands by aaron gilson Attribution-NoDerivs License

One of the books I’m currently reading is Give them Grace by Elyse Fitzpatrick, and to be perfectly honest, it’s kicking me in the pants.

I’ve heard about the book many times and have had it on my shelf for nearly a year, but you know how God puts certain words in your path at just the right time? That’s what He’s done for me with this book.

I have written about teaching our kids to pray and family devotions, and I write over and over again about the importance of us as parents living out our faith, giving our kids an authentic model of what it means to follow Jesus – and yet, how often my parenting slips right back into anything but a Gospel-centered focus!

I impose the Law on my kids and set obedience as the standard to be obtained. Recently, this reality has been glaring in my face. I see it most when my sweet girl strives hard to meet my expectations, to do the “good girl” thing — and in her frustration and defiance when the bar is set too high. I also see it when I get unduly irritated over opportunities I have to train and teach my kids!

I’m trying to break free from living as a good girl, but here I am grooming my daughter into that mold!

I’ve been wrestling with the question of what makes our home distinctively Christian I don’t want our home to simply be a good, moral home! I want our home to be alive with the Spirit of God! I want to trust Him to change the hearts of my kids, not my rules, demand for obedience, or good intentions.

What a surprise picking up Give them GraceHere I thought I was starting a light, fluffy parenting book, but instead I entered more deeply into the questions I’ve been wrestling, and I’m finding help along the way.

Though I didn’t intend for this post to be a book review, so far, it is definitely a book I recommend. Have you read it?

Today I’m over at For the Familywriting more about the struggle I’ve had and sharing a sweet story about my daughter and a gift she received and how again I was reminded of what it really means to disciple our children and encourage them to grow in their own faith.

Click over to read more.

 

Question for You:

What are your thoughts on the difference between moral parenting and Gospel-centered parenting? Where do you find that most of your parenting falls? {I’ll be honest, for me, I have a lot of room for improvement!!}

 

Clean on the Inside: A Family Devotional for Holy Week 2014 Edition

Holy Week starts on Sunday!

Palm Sunday, the beginning of Holy Week, is on Sunday! If you haven’t yet picked up your copy of Clean on the Inside: A Family Devotional for Holy Weekbuy it now!

Purchase Clean on the Inside: A Family Devotional for Holy Week
Buy Clean on the Inside a Family Devotional for Holy Week
 

Flickr Photo Credit: ”holding hands” by aaron gilson

*Affiliate links are used in this post, at no extra cost to you, of course.

Clean on the Inside 2014 Update!

Guess what? Clean on the Inside got an update!

Clean on the Inside: A Family Devotional for Holy Week 2014 Edition
For those of you who don’t know, I wrote an Easter family devotional two years ago. In that time, thousands of families have used this little tool to spend time and grow in Jesus during Holy Week — the week leading up to Resurrection Sunday (Easter)!

“What a blessing this devotional was to our families! My kids are 4, 6, and 8 and not only were the daily devotionals meaningful, but the activities really drove the ideas home and helped us apply what we were learning. This is definitely a resource I will recommend to other families!”

From the beginning, my prayer was {and is!} that God would use this devotional to help draw the hearts of families closer to Him, and I have been so encouraged by what you have been telling me!

“I have the 2012 version of your Easter devotional. It is incredible! I am the Children’s Ministry Coordinator of my church and I really would like to give the parents of the church an Easter devo to do with their kids. Of all the devos I have found I love this one the most!”

I am super excited to let you know that I have updated the devotional this year, and I am {officially} re-releasing it next week!

I am putting together a team to help spread the word about the book’s release, and I’d love for YOU to be a part of that team!

 ”I LOVED this book! Thank you so much for providing it for us! I have two boys, ages 2 and 4, and with a few modifications, they both participated. My son understands the Resurrection and we were struggling to make it more visual for him. This resource made it so much easier.”

  • To find out more about the benefits or to join the team, click here.
  • If you’d rather not join the team but are simply interested in purchasing the book, click here for more information.
  • If you are a pastor or ministry coordinator and would like to purchase a large quantity of copies to give to the families in your church, please contact me. I am happy to provide a discount code for your church when you buy the book in bulk!

“I am the Family Pastor at my church and after seeing how helpful this resource is for families, we purchased Clean on the Inside for all of the families in our church. Thanks for creating such a great tool to minister to families during one of the most important holidays of the year.”

I would be so grateful if you would help spread the word about Clean on the Inside, but even more, will you pray with me for God to continue to use this little book to touch the hearts of families?

Lives are so hectic and schedules so full, it is easy to rush through our days and miss what God is trying to say to us – even during a holiday as important and meaningful as Easter!

My heart longs for families to grow together in their relationship with God – to understand the immensity of God’s love for us, to know the transformative power of Christ’s death and resurrection and to live differently because of what Christ has done for us. I pray that God will use this humble book to work powerfully in the hearts of children and parents, all for His glory! 

So please spread the word. Share about the book. But even more importantly, pray that God’s Spirit will speak to the hearts of kids and families as we spend time together, focusing on Him this upcoming Easter season.

Because His love compels me,
Erika

 

Purchase Clean on the Inside: A Family Devotional for Holy Week
For more information or to purchase, click here!

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You might also be interested:

Keeping Easter All About Jesus: Ideas for Families

Christ-Centered Easter Ideas for Families

Buy Clean on the Inside a Family Devotional for Holy Week

Becoming a Praying Family

Becoming a Praying Family: Where to start in teaching our kids to pray {erikadawson.com}

Recently, I have heard many people ask: how do you become a praying family? As a way of beginning, I thought I’d offer a few thoughts.

Where to Start

Becoming a praying family starts with us as moms and dads, ideally as couples. We must ask ourselves: Is prayer an integral part of our lives?

If not, we must first start with ourselves and cultivate intimacy with the Lord. I can’t simply tell my children to ask God for help and trust Him when they feel afraid when I, myself, am not doing that. However, when my kids see me turning to the Lord in thanksgiving over His provision or asking for forgiveness when I’ve made a mistake, or asking for help when I’ve lost something or feel afraid or irritated or impatient — as my kids see me depending on the Lord in everyday circumstances, they are learning what it means to trust Jesus in their lives, too! 

How do you teach kids to pray erikadawson.com

The Foundation

Prayer comes from intimacy with God. Think about and evaluate your prayer life. Why do you pray?

  • Is it a means-to-an-end? A way to get what you want? 
  • Is it simply out of habit or because praying is what a “good Christian” does?
  • Do you pray because you should or because it feels like we gain God’s approval by doing the “right things”?

Consider this:

“There is a difference between the discipline of sitting down with God and the pleasure of knowing His voice. It is one thing to make yourself do something. It is entirely another to find pleasure in relationship.” (Emily Freeman, Grace for the Good Girl)

Cultivate Communion with God

As you grow in your relationship with the Lord and in conversation with Him through prayer, this will spill over into all parts of your life. You won’t be able to help yourself!

  • As you see God’s goodness, His provision, His wonder all around, give thanks! May His praise always be on our lips.
  • Before you discipline, pray!
  • While you’re correcting, pray!
  • As you restore the relationship, pray!
  • Is your child afraid? Did she lose something? Do you see someone in need? Pray, pray, pray!

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 ESV)

Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. Give thanks in all circumstances. This is God’s will for us!






My kids and I were recently visiting family. Upon leaving, we discovered quite a bit of snow had fallen and we had quite a steep driveway to navigate. Naturally, I started asking God to help us make it up the driveway and arrive home safely. After many attempts, we finally made it to the top and we all cheered loudly, thanking God for delivering us from the icy driveway!

“God helped us up the driveway!” I exclaimed. “We prayed and asked Him to deliver us, and He did. God always hears our prayers. He is our rescuer!” 

My enthusiasm was contagious, and it was real. How awesome it is to point out God’s hand of provision in our lives. I wanted my kids to recognize the connection. We didn’t just ask God to help us, He did! He answered our prayer, and we praised Him for His provision.

What a blessing it was to my heart to be able to share on my Facebook page this little conversation I overhead:

Celebrating answered prayer!
 

Becoming a praying family starts with us as parents; it starts with me, and it’s never too late to start!

Question for You:

How do you cultivate prayer in your own life and in the lives of your kids?

 

Resources for You:

Ideas for creative ways to pray together: I’m writing over at ”For the Family” today, sharing some of the ways we try in our home to be consistently praying for others.

Teaching our Kids to Pray: Abiding in Christ

Resources for praying for our children

Blessing My Kids While Mama is Away (with a link to blessing to pray over our kids when they are afraid)