Marriage & Family

The Mirror of Marriage

Wednesday, August 18, 2010
Nine years ago, on the beach at sunset, under a canopy of storm clouds, we said “I do“.
Im so glad we did!

God displayed His presence through thunder, lightening and a rainbow.
With the tide lapping at our feet, we exchanged vows and promised forever.
For better or for worse.
…we have been blessed with both.
Its not all candle-light and long stem roses.
(Although, this romantic guy surprised me with something for our anniversary that I cant wait to share with you in another post).
Marriage is a mirror. It holds my reflection of myself painfully close to my face somedays. It forces me to see the real me. The distortions in my heart. My self centeredness. My unforgiveness. My wrong motives.
The facade is down with C and he gets the unabridged version of Mandy…the good, the bad and the ugly. The less-than-perfect me. My stuff. My baggage. My inadequacies. The wonderful days and the terrible ones.
Face to face with the reflection of who I am when my attitude is ungracious, I myself do not like who I am. C, Im sure, does not like my behavior either….and yet, his love is relentless. He is the most vivid evidence of the unconditional love the Lord has for me. He is always the first to try to make amends. He refuses to let a disagreement go unresolved. He continues to pursue me and I love that he talks and plans and dreams about growing old together.
There is no doubt in my mind that C was God’s perfect will for me. We had a discussion recently about how little conflict we would have if we’d married someone more like ourselves.
Alike, we are not!
But for this we are grateful! The refining process the Lord brings through intimacy with someone so unlike me is the mirror that He uses to show me the work He is completing in my heart. I am humbled and incredibly grateful for the one chosen to walk this road of life by my side….reflecting both Christ work in me, and the steadfast love of the Lord through this man.

The Classroom God Has Me in

Monday, March 15, 2010
Ok ladies. Please hear my heart. At the risk of rubbing you the wrong way, I have something Ive been processing that I felt compelled to share. I have been reading a book recently that has stirred me up. It has debunked lies I have believed and revealed sin in my heart that I have cherished.
Ive read books on marriage.
Lots of them!
None have so profoundly spoken to me. Most books offer wonderful nuggets of truth, but always highlight situations that are exceptions to the rules or disfunction in marriage that warrants creating “healthy distance”. And sadly, we all read and justify in our minds that we are those exceptions. That our husbands are the ones forcing us to create emotional boundaries and put up walls for protection. We assume a “holier-than-thou” attitude and take on the role of “Jr Holy Spirit” in their lives. We agree with the biblical concepts of sacrifice and submission but believe we deserve special consideration for the dynamics that make our relationship to our husbands challenging.
This book in contrast leaves no wiggle room. There are no easy outs and exceptions. It speaks directly to women and emphasizes a very specific God-ordained role that we have watered down.
In the age of equality, we have become such a self-centered society. And thus our marriages as well reflect a consumer attitude. What if we have it all wrong.
What if marriage is not intended to be an equal partnership?
(I can hear the gasps of indignation!)
What if we really implemented the biblical truth that we are created for him….to be his helpmeet?
We like the idea conceptually…so long as we can make financial decisions unquestioned.
And he upholds the Godly standards with the kids that we want implemented.
And his decisions for how he spends his time doesn’t infringe on our plans.
But few of us gracefully take on the mantel of help meet. What about when he is genuinely wrong? We demand. We nag. We pray for him to change. We confide in girlfriends who offer the advise we want to hear. We react when he is harsh. We withdraw when he fails to meet our needs. We convey disapproval through our attitudes and accusations. We withhold ourselves emotionally or physically. We claim what is rightfully ours….and it is! All of this in an attempt to inspire change in him.
And then we wonder why he is distant and detached.
We’re baffled when he checks out.
We play the part of the martyr when he doesnt live up to his end of the bargain.
Can you honestly blame him? What guy is motivated by a steady diet of reminders that he is a chronic disappointment and failure?
But you see friends. Herein lies the hope. We, as women, have the same opportunity to foster a heavenly marriage. God promises blessing for those who live in obedience to Him. That obedience requires a great amount of humility and restraint and selflessness. All of which are qualities I do not possess in abundance! Ladies, you have much more control than you think over whether you will be partners together in the tension and stress of life or heirs together in the grace of God. I desire the latter for my marriage.

I am very humbled, convicted, repentant and so grateful for God gently showing me my need for His Lordship in my marriage. I poorly communicate what I am gleaning. This book is full of treasures….and Im only on chapter three!!
I feel blessed. We dont have a perfect marriage. We have a perfecting marriage! I have an amazingly wise, God-honoring, hard working husband. Some do not and the challenge for them is magnified. But none of us have the excuses we’d like to think we have! It would be my privilege to pray for you in your marriage. Feel free to email me!
Now that that is off my chest…perhaps I can sleep.
Go love on your man!



Saturday, January 2, 2010

My heart had much to ponder the week of Christmas. Meeting with some of my dearest friends over the holidays brought me face-to-face with individuals suffering the deepest pain imaginable.

~A precious mom whose unborn baby has just been diagnosed with a life-threatening condition only months after loosing her firstborn child.
~Dear family friends who are walking an unbelievable road of grief, devastated by infidelity in their marriage.
~A victim of abuse who cant move past the bitterness.
~Numerous friends hurting from the abandonment they feel from a spouse…a parent…and from God!
Broken hearts. Shattered dreams. Loss of innocence. Disfunction. Disillusionment.
I sit here contemplating the relevance of Christmas surrounded by such devastation.
He didnt come to inspire the serenity of a Nativity scene.
He didnt come to motivate lovely candle light services on Christmas Eve and stir nostalgia in our hearts.
He certainly didnt come to ensure we get a peaceful life of tranquility. Its a fallen world. On this side of eternity pain and heartach is inevitable.
So, why then?
As Ive mused…written…and re-written my thoughts, I just couldnt bring myself to publish this post until yesterday… An article was shared with me that explained so much better than I could ever have articulated, what my precious Lord has been revealing to me about the personal, intimate nature of his concern for us. Each of us has wounds. As I have walked a very personal road of grief and a process of healing, I continue to be profoundly impacted by the truth of what the article below outlines. I hope that you, as I am, will be comforted by Emmanuel – ‘God with us!’
Never Alone

No one wants to be left alone. Sure, we sometimes like to get away and spend some time by ourselves, but no one likes to be abandoned. The fear of loneliness is one of the most powerful in human experience. Babies cry when their mothers leave the room. A teenager’s worst nightmare is having to eat lunch alone. Neglected children will often misbehave, because even punishment for them is better than feeling abandoned. And, although locked away already, many prisoners still fear being thrown in isolation. While we experience it in different ways, we all know what it is like to feel loneliness, and it is one of the most painful parts of our existence.


This feeling of abandonment is at the root of many complaints against God about the evil of the world. Why do you put up with injustice and oppression? Have you just left us alone? The prophet Habakkuk called out many years ago:


“How long, O LORD, must I call for help,


but you do not listen?


Or cry out to you, ‘Violence!’


but you do not save?


Why do you make me look at injustice?


Why do you tolerate wrong?


Destruction and violence are before me;


there is strife, and conflict abounds” (Habakkuk 1:2-3).


This year some good friends of mine had their first child. However, what should have been a time of great joy was immediately overshadowed by the news that he was born with a serious genetic illness. Requiring a great deal of medical care, he was unable to go home and was sent to the hospital in Toronto near where I live. I spent time visiting over a period of several months as his loving parents watched him, prayed for him, hoped for his healing. While his dad worked long days and travelled back and forth several hours from their hometown to Toronto every week, his mom hardly ever left the hospital room, often sleeping on the end of the baby’s small hospital bed. For eight long months, they watched their little one suffer. As he experienced one painful procedure after another, unable to understand the ‘what’ or the ‘why’ of his pain, his parents loved him, made tough decisions, and prayed for his life. Sadly, before his nine month birthday, his struggle ended as he died in the arms of his parents.


In the face of tragedies like this one, we want to cry out against God for not fixing things, or at least to call out and demand answers—why? But this experience reminded me again of one of the beautiful truths of Christian faith. Because, although he knew pain and suffering, that sweet baby, unlike any other person I’ve ever met, never knew what it was like to be left alone. And the Christmas season reminds us that although we do not understand the ‘what’ or the ‘why’ of all of our pain, we are not left alone either. Our God is like a father watching over his children, like a mother longing for their healing and bearing their pain as if it were her own. This God does not abandon us to our fate, but has come among us, to be one of us, to experience the very depths of our condition.


It is costly for God to be with us in this way, just as it was costly for my friends to be so close to the pain of their child. But when you love deeply, you want to be with the beloved, whatever the cost. And since we live in pain, brokenness and sin, God’s coming among us meant descending into the depths of that pain, brokenness and sin. Now, like that little one, we can be assured that we are never alone, that even when we do not understand the suffering in our lives, we do not bear it by ourselves. And even though my friends were unable to heal their child, this God promises ultimate healing and resurrection to all who will receive it. Like the angels announced, Jesus’s birth is good news of great joy for all people.


The manger and eventually the cross are the supreme reminders of God’s involvement and intimacy. When we turn to cry out in abandonment to God, we find ourselves face to face with a tortured, bloody man on a cross, in whose death we are accomplices. Before we can even utter the words, we hear him cry them first: “My God, My God why have you forsaken me?” While we rarely ever know the answer to this question—’why?’—the very fact that Jesus asked it is meaningful. It was not about information. Jesus knew more about the reasons for his suffering than most of us ever do. Information does not take away the pain anyway. However, if you believe that God has truly come to us in the person of Jesus Christ, then Jesus’s anguished cry tells us something far important about God. Jesus’s cry tells us that even in feelings of ultimate abandonment, we are not alone. The Christmas message—that God has come among us—is absolutely transformative. There is no longer any place where God is not because this God has gone with us all the way. Even in the deepest moment of abandonment, we meet the one who is called ‘God With Us.’




Rachel Tulloch is a member of the speaking team at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Toronto, Canada.