Married: broken married sex.

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Okay world, let me tell you a little secret. Life, here on earth, is broken. No matter how well we try to live, no matter what convictions we have, no matter how “good” we are, we are all scarred by the tiny, destructive shards of this torn apart land.

Jesus tells us that we will have trouble. He promises & encourages us to consider ourselves blessed when we face trials, because our faith is being tested & we will be refined.

Sex is so very prevalent in our culture. It’s on the billboards, in the magazines, on our screens, & in our minds, constantly, whether we are single or married. God made sex for us, to enjoy, as an essential part of who we are. But He did not make the sex we know of in our culture today. We have unlimited access to a hyped up, fantastical, visually deadening, mentally scarring sex. These images & ideas are not God’s intentions for our sexuality, in fact, they are the broken version of His glorious gift.

My husband & I have been married two years now & to say any of it has been easy would be a lie. Marriage is meant to refine us & is one of the biggest vehicles that God uses to do so, therefore if we intend to have a good marriages & good sex lives, we must expect to be pushed & changed through all of the difficult circumstances of this life.

With sex being on the forefront of our minds & culture these days, we must address it from a biblical & practical viewpoint. We are broken, we have already established this, & God gave us sex as a gift & venue to express ourselves & to connect in our marriages & grow closer to Christ. But those things don’t seem to stop our sinful hearts from abusing this precious gift.

One thing that I have learned in our marriage, through all of it’s struggles & pains & fears is that we need Christ regardless of if we think we do at the moment.

My husband & I grew up as “good little Christian kids” & we were virgins when we got married, but none of that has changed the fact that our sex life has been a real struggle.

There is sin & hurt & insecurity on both sides. In the beginning, I would often find myself blaming my husband & his sins for our issues, but I soon realized that I am just as destructive. Our hidden prides, fears, & lusts all play a part in our failures to be truly one with each other & nothing but Christ can interfere to bring about pure, intimate, sexual & spiritual holiness between a husband & wife.

When it boils down to it, marriage doesn’t fix our sex problems, in anything, it helps bring them to life.  A good marriage eventually brings up every sexual heart issue, every sexual sin, every sexual scar, & every single proud bone in our bodies. Working through those things together is no easy task. But when we allow God to interfere, He cleanses us of those black spots & works towards bringing forth two pure hearts, yearning for their Savior’s grace, able to embrace the sex life that God intends for them.

So, I encourage the pre-marrieds. Stop thinking that marriage & sex is the end all be all of existence & perfection, & acknowledge that you are currently being prepared for the hardest, most life-changing, most terrifying, albeit glorious & gratifying, reality check of your life.

As for us marrieds, remember that we are in this for the long-hull, not to be perfected in one quick, difficult day, but to continually work out our salvation together with fear & trembling, alongside the helpmate that God has entrusted to each of us, for the glory of God our father, who lavishes gifts aplenty in the midst of our sinful lives.

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I am linking up at The Nesting Place’s 31 day writing challenge: inspiration & faith.

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unloved: the life of Leah | the deal with mandrakes.

This post is apart of my 31 days of writing challenge where I am zooming in on the life of Leah. How she was unloved & hated, but God saw her. How she was jealous & fearful, but God honored her. We can learn a lot from Leah, so won’t you join me? To stay updated, please follow my facebook page here. To read the biblical account of Leah’s life, see Genesis 29 & on.

If you’ve missed previous posts, click here.

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If you read Genesis 30:14-31, you’ll find an interesting story that reveals to us a few things about the dynamic in the home of Leah and Rachel.

First, I did a little research on mandrakes and what I found was interesting. They are a plant surrounded by folklore and mystical implications. Josephus, a biblical era scholar wrote this about mandrakes,

“A furrow must be dug around the root until its lower part is exposed, then a dog is tied to it, after which the person tying the dog must get away. The dog then endeavours to follow him, and so easily pulls up the root, but dies suddenly instead of his master. After this the root can be handled without fear.”

The plant is not poisonous, but it is a narcotic and hallucinogen. In biblical times, this drug was considered pagan and is even still used today in witchcraft cults, such as Wicca and Odinism. It’s most common wives tale is that it increases fertility.

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So, I have to ask: what was Reuben, the son of Jacob, son of Abraham, called by the Lord God, doing bringing his barren mother a stack of pagan-associated roots to help her infertility? Reuben is most likely a boy at this point, maybe seven or eight. He probably had friends who were not Jewish and told him about the mandrakes increasing a mother’s childbearing. Perhaps he wanted another little brother. I wonder if he uprooted them like Josephus said and was willing to sacrifice his puppy dog for them. He obviously saw the rivalry between his moms and wanted to give Leah a head start on childbearing, even though she had beat Rachel 4-0 at this point. Maybe he just thought its blooms were pretty and knew nothing about the folklore surrounding them.

Either way, Rachel did know about the folklore surrounding them and endeavored to snatch them up as soon as she found out Reuben had them. We will call this the first ever recorded drug deal.

In chapter 31 of Genesis, Jacob is ready to leave and cleave. He wants to take his family and move away from Laban. He tries to reason with Laban, but he can’t and therefore flees in the middle of the night with his wives and children. Laban catches up with them and one (of many) things he yells at Jacob for is stealing some of his household gods. And so Laban begins to search through everyone’s things. Interestingly enough, he starts with Jacob (he’d trust his daughters before his son-in-law), then Leah’s tent (his least favorite daughter), then to Rachel’s tent (the favored one). Laban finds nothing, but guess who hid them the whole time!? Rachel. AND guess who lied about “the way of a woman” being upon her (code for menstrual cycle), while she sat on her precious little idols? Rachel.

This makes me question if Rachel ever really loved Jacob or longed for the Messiah like he did.

Earlier, when Rachel demands that Leah give her the fertility roots, since Leah was still ahead in childbearing, Leah uses this to her benefit. She asks for a night with her husband. (note: How sad for Leah! That she had to barter for the affection and attention of her man!) Rachel must have held some kind of authority as head wife for Leah to have to bargain. Or it was simply the fact that Jacob preferred Rachel. At this point, because of Leah’s happy, healthy uterus, Rachel was probably doing all she could to keep Leah from bearing more children. Well, Rachel’s trade backfired, because we see that Leah became pregnant that night, and twice more after that.

The mandrakes were dangerous for Rachel, but not in the way that the myths project. She was looking to worldly things to fill her and bring her honor. We see however, that Rachel didn’t conceive until she got on her knees and asked her Heavenly Father for a son, “Then God remembered Rachel, and God listened to her and opened her womb. She conceived and bore a son . . . and she called his name, Joseph.” (Genesis 30:22-24)

This shows us that God doesn’t take sides and that He doesn’t hold our past sin against us. He worked in both Leah and Rachel’s lives despite their failures and their hidden idols.

And He can work in yours, too!

p.s. to read more on the mandrake click here.

 Watch, everyday, for 31 days in the month of October, as we get into the story of Leah and walk with her as her feet trod aside a God who saw her.

note: I am doing my best to get the word out to everyone who could benefit from the Unloved series | a peek into the life of Leah, but I need your help! Please share away on your social media(s) of choice below, tell your friends, and don’t be afraid to join in the conversation in the comments below. xo!

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Want to stay updated? Let me count the ways:

one. visit and like my Facebook page.

two. follow me on Twitter: @JASparrowblog.

three. request me on Instagram: @mrslilahhiggins

four. join my circles at Google+by clicking here.

five. leave a comment below.

Want to leave feedback? Join in on the conversation by commenting at the bottom of this post!

I can’t wait to hear what you have to say!

I am linking up at The Nesting Place’s 31 day writing challenge: inspiration & faith.

unloved: the life of Leah | on loving a sinful spouse.

This post is apart of my 31 days of writing challenge where I am zooming in on the life of Leah. How she was unloved & hated, but God saw her. How she was jealous & fearful, but God honored her. We can learn a lot from Leah, so won’t you join me? To stay updated, please follow my facebook page here. To read the biblical account of Leah’s life, see Genesis 29 & on.

If you’ve missed previous posts, click here.

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Leah was married to a good man. He was a sinner and struggled with many sins, but he was a redeemed man in the eyes of God.

Jacob was a trickster. He fooled his brother, Esau, into giving up both his birthright (Genesis 25:29-34) and his blessing (Genesis 27), pretty much placing himself as firstborn, entitled to everything their father owned. He again fooled Laban into giving over most of his livestock using some odd wool changing tricks. (Genesis 30:25-43)

Jacob was a coward. He fled from his angry brother, instead of confronting him and apologizing. (Genesis 27:41-45) When he finally saw his brother for the first time, he was manipulative and shrewd in how he presented his wealth and fortune. (Genesis 32)

Jacob was stubborn. Even in his birth, he was stubbornly wrestled his twin brother Esau and he had ahold of his heel when they were birthed (Genesis 25). When his wife, Rachel, lamented why she didn’t have children, Jacob snapped back and her, insisting it was her fault with God. (Genesis 30:1-2) When Jesus appeared to him in the night, he lasted all night, thereby earning his name Israel, meaning, “one who prevails with God.” (Genesis 32:22-32)

Jacob had a lot of faults and weaknesses, but God chose him for God’s purposes.

I don’t want us to miss this gem in the life of Leah. She had a prideful, angry, selfish husband, who often seemed to care more for himself than his family. Leah was still called to love him and submit to him.

We all have difficult issues going on and could probably form a pretty good argument about how we are justified in behaving certain ways. But we are also called to love and to submit to one another.

 Jesus himself submitted to completely ridiculous claims when He hung on the cross. 

As followers of such a Savior, we are called to sacrifice much in the wake of the sinful men and women we submit to. And we, in turn leave a sinful wake behind us as well. No one is perfect and no one will fulfill what we long for, except Jesus.

Jesus came because this sinful wake could not be stopped without a really big splash. All it took was our mighty God, dipping His toe into our world, to change the course of the entire river.

So, maybe it’s time to rethink your view of your spouse. Do you believe that God is calling him to greatness? Do you pray often that God’s spirit would be found in her? Or are you so blinded by the faults of your spouse, that you fail to see God’s hand in their life at all?

Leah can teach us a lot. Like how to love a spouse, even when they don’t reciprocate. And how to submit to a spouse who has weaknesses. And how to trust that God has mighty plans for our spouses regardless.

 Watch, everyday, for 31 days in the month of October, as we get into the story of Leah and walk with her as her feet trod aside a God who saw her.

note: I am doing my best to get the word out to everyone who could benefit from the Unloved series | a peek into the life of Leah, but I need your help! Please share away on your social media(s) of choice below, tell your friends, and don’t be afraid to join in the conversation in the comments below. xo!

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Want to stay updated? Let me count the ways:

one. visit and like my Facebook page.

two. follow me on Twitter: @JASparrowblog.

three. request me on Instagram: @mrslilahhiggins

four. join my circles at Google+by clicking here.

five. leave a comment below.

Want to leave feedback? Join in on the conversation by commenting at the bottom of this post!

I can’t wait to hear what you have to say!

I am linking up at The Nesting Place’s 31 day writing challenge: inspiration & faith.

unloved: the life of Leah | her hard marriage.

This post is apart of my 31 days of writing challenge where I am zooming in on the life of Leah. How she was unloved & hated, but God saw her. How she was jealous & fearful, but God honored her. We can learn a lot from Leah, so won’t you join me? To stay updated, please follow my facebook page here. To read the biblical account of Leah’s life, see Genesis 29 & on.

If you’ve missed previous posts, click here.

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A lot of men and women live in loveless marriages, where they are not cared for as they should be. It’s easy for me to say that those people should be able to leave, but the bible doesn’t say that. Abuse, yes. Unfaithfulness, yes. There are only these two grounds for divorce. Otherwise, according to God’s law and will for us, we are to remain in our marriages and continue to seek His glory through it.

I hurt for Leah as I think of the millions of times she was rejected by the man she loved. Her search for a godly marriage consumed her prayer life, permeated her mothering, and drove her actions in every facet of her livelihood.

Throughout the course of her marriage, she dealt with a hard-hearted, maybe even cruel husband, who didn’t respect her or give her the things a wife needs.

Maybe this is just my entitlement attitude speaking, but no one deserves such a fate!

Then I look at how she became married. She deceived.

Don’t we all, to some extent put on a face of deception to potential spouses prior to getting married. Couples wake up one day and wonder where the person went that they married. Where is that nice, sweet, romantic person I fell for?

Marriage is for God’s glory and to reveal to this dying world that God can love the unlovely, work in the ungodly, and change the unwilling. But often, the goal of marriage is lost in a sea of sorrow and disappointment.

Leah lost herself in that sea many times. But what I love, and what is so amazing about her story, is the grace that is weaved through it all. God saw her and loved her, yes, but what she changed in the world, what she left behind, was far greater than her dreams own to be loved. She aided in spreading the undying love of God to the world.

Think about it, if Leah had given up and walked away from her husband because of the injustice she felt, we would not have Jesus. Although God would have planned another way, He chose Leah, for this moment of her life, to step out in faith and persevere, for the sake of the whole world. We will all sacrifice for the sake of Christ and each other when we step out in faith.

Leah left behind her children, who would later build up God’s chosen people, who were to prepare the entire world for Jesus, who planned to save them all. All because of His great love for us!

Marriage is hard and a struggle. Just like Leah’s, our God-centered marriages work to reveal the goodness of God and the redeeming qualities of Jesus, who saves us. Difficulties aside, what is more important than that?

 Watch, everyday, for 31 days in the month of October, as we get into the story of Leah and walk with her as her feet trod aside a God who saw her.

note: I am doing my best to get the word out to everyone who could benefit from the Unloved series | a peek into the life of Leah, but I need your help! Please share away on your social media(s) of choice below, tell your friends, and don’t be afraid to join in the conversation in the comments below. xo!

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Want to stay updated? Let me count the ways:

one. visit and like my Facebook page.

two. follow me on Twitter: @JASparrowblog.

three. request me on Instagram: @mrslilahhiggins

four. join my circles at Google+by clicking here.

five. leave a comment below.

Want to leave feedback? Join in on the conversation by commenting at the bottom of this post!

I can’t wait to hear what you have to say!

I am linking up at The Nesting Place’s 31 day writing challenge: inspiration & faith.

Married: choosing to communicate.

choosing to talkIn our culture, we’ve become so successful at ignoring the things we don’t want to see or hear. We can even “block” and “delete” the people in our lives if we want to. This is detrimental to the art and practice of communication in our relationships and especially in our marriages.

Yes, there is sin and hurt and pain in marriage, but when we leave these things underground and refuse to talk about them with our most trusted friend, our spouse, our marriages slowly begin to rot away. Many couples don’t even know why they can’t get along anymore because they’ve buried these hidden things so deeply.

In my own marriage, I’m learning that just because something isn’t talked about, doesn’t mean it’s not there. There are things I used to hide from my husband that I’ve learned he needs to know. The scary thing is, I didn’t hide these things to spite him or hurt him or anything along those lines, but rather, I hid them because I felt that I was being a “good wife” by not being a needy wife. After all, I’m his helper, his support, and his partner. I’m suppose to submit and respect him, so where does that leave room for me gripping about my needs?

This skewed view of submitting turned out to be very destructive to our marriage because I began to slowly melt into a pool of my own insecurities, convincing myself that I wasn’t good enough for my husband to take care of at all. I fell into this habit of being “selfless” and not telling my husband what I needed, emotionally, sexually, or spiritually, because I thought that was biblical submitting. All I was doing was driving a wedge into our tight and loving relationship. The bible says to submit, but it never says to be silent about our desires and needs.

Since I realized this sin in my life and repented to my husband, we’ve agreed to start being really intentional about communicating and because of this our relationship has become so very rich and fulfilling!

Here are some keys we’ve discovered to great communication:

| ask direct questions |

 Before this, we’ve always just asked things like, “are you okay?” or “how are you?” but we’ve found those are easy questions to skirt around. Now, we ask more pointed questions like, “did you {insert struggle, bad habit, or sin here} today?” and “we’re you tempted today?” and “how can I pray for you/us?”

| speak up and be specific |

This was the toughest one for me to work through. I think we all at times just want our husbands to read our minds, but that usually leads to disappointed wives and frustrated husbands. It’s frankly very unfair to our men!  I’m learning to be open and vulnerable and throw my super-wife cape out the door during those times when I so desperately need my husband.

 | pray and be timely |

The time to bring up your deepest issues with your husband/wife is not the moment they get home from work or while they are falling asleep after a hard day. It’s good to wait until the opportune moment. My point is to be timely. Pray and be patient. Wait until the best moment presents itself and proceed with grace and boldness.

| praise one another |

I can’t stress how important this one is! Our words can build or they can break and our tongues can cause great fires. Never use your words to belittle or discourage your spouse. No one wants to open up to someone who continually beats them down.

is something bothering you? TALK ABOUT IT. Does something your spouse do really hurt you? TALK ABOUT IT. Are you struggling with some hidden sin? TALK ABOUT IT. Would you prefer that your spouse did so-and-so every so often? TALK ABOUT IT. With grace and love and patience, simple TALK. Talk deep, talk shallow, talk funny, talk fast, talk hard, talk sweet. Talk all the ways you know how!

Encourage, build up, and choose to have faith that God can renew and empower your marriage through the practiced art of communication.

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Want to stay updated? Let me count the ways:

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Want to leave feedback? Join in on the conversation by commenting at the bottom of this post!

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it’s a park day! {& Fletcher is 6 months old!}

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© copyright Zackary & Lilah Higgins

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Want to stay updated? Let me count the ways:

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Married: we are not one another’s christ.

Sometimes the ability of my husband to pull out concepts and explain situations and their surrounding motives and actions, just amazes me.

This post is all due to him and his incredible skill in removing himself from the situation, analyzing it, and presenting an easy to follow solution in an attractive package.

We were discussing (meaning he was talking and I was nodding my head in amazement) something that we have struggled with as a married couple. It was regarding my incorrigible need to suppress my feelings and troubles.

You see, I hold them inside as long as I can stand it. If he says a careless thing, I pretend like it doesn’t bother me, even though it did. If he doesn’t do something I ask of him, I become quietly offended. The problem isn’t necessarily that these things bother me (although that’s a whole other post) but simply that I hold the feelings inside until they boil up into flaming volcanos.

I have always felt the need to do this. Maybe it’s partly because I was born into a family of first born’s and the last thing we needed was another opinion. Maybe it’s partly because I tend to be introverted when it comes to personal things about myself. Maybe it’s partially due to my tenacious need to appear perfect and well put together. Whether it’s something that bothered me and I let grow or whether it was a sin committed against me that I hold onto, I have this habit of keeping it to myself and solve it all alone.

Why? Why do I tend towards single-handedly handling my issues?

My husband said something to me that I will never forget, “Christ took our sin inside of Himself and made it go away. At the same time, He faced the disappointment and hurt of being sinned against. And then said it is finished. You’re trying to do that for me. Humans are completely physically, mentally, spiritually, and emotionally unable to do any of these things for anyone else.”

When I take the sins of others and the sins against me and I hold them inside of myself, I am doing something way worse than simply becoming bitter and withholding forgiveness.

I am calling myself their christ.

In essence, I am saying “Ow, you sinned against me, that hurt. Now I’m going to hold that sin in myself and try to just make it disappear and save face.” But since I am not God, I can’t ever say “it is finished” because I can’t make sin go away on my own.

It makes perfect sense when God says to confess our sins to one another, to mourn with those who mourn, and laugh with those who laugh. Because this life was not meant to be lived alone. This life wasn’t meant to be lived inside of ourselves and it was surely not meant to be spent trying to save one another from sin, when Christ already did that at Calvary!

I was dumbfounded at the conversation as I realized I’ve lived like a martyr trying to die for my own pride and glory. I realized that I’ve attempted so many, many times to take my husband’s sins and just make them go away, avoiding my own sins in the process. To say to him that I’ve finished it and I’m powerful enough to take it away for him, when what I really should have been doing was praying for the Holy Spirit to do a work in both of us.

When we hold another’s sin inside and let if fester and boil, we’re attempting the great blasphemy of professing ourselves as little christ’s, dying a useless death for our spouses, one that creates a wall instead of filling the gap. Only Christ Jesus, God of all, took our sin, and like one of my favorite songs says, “held it tight inside of His chest and put it to death.” –Watching for Wonder

I’m so grateful for the beauty of growth that I find in my husband. I’m so grateful that God gave him to me to teach me and grow me and open my heart to God’s words.

We must stop living as if we’ve martyred ourselves out already and begin to live in a  way that is transparent and open about sin, grief, struggle, and heartache. Christ died so that we don’t have to. I for one am going to start living that way!

What are your thoughts? I’d love to discuss this further!

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Want to stay updated? Let me count the ways:

one. visit and like my Facebook page.
two. follow me on Twitter: @JASparrowBlog.
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I can’t wait to hear what you have to say! Sharing is caring!