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Hungry

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“Hi,” I reach across the bottom of the slide to shake her hand. “My name is Marian.”

I know we’ve only talked for 15 minutes, but are you a potential friend?

I chide myself for sounding so desperate and keep talking about a little bit of everything and yet nothing at all. It’s all surface. Kids, job, relocating, school, community. Good stuff, but we just scrape the surface.

About halfway through the conversation I realize that I’m hungry. Not for food. I glance over at the remains of my kid’s McDonald’s and my stomach churns.

No, my hunger is even deeper.

I’m hungry for girl talk. I’m hungry for the let’s-meet-at-Starbucks-and-close-the-place-down-while-embarrassing-ourselves-because-we-laughed-and-cried-all-within-10-minutes-of-each-other kind of talk. I miss those talks.

Still standing at the bottom of the slide, I sigh as I rattle off the ages of my children and talk about my husband’s job. Disaster strikes when my youngest screams that “HE’S DONE!” because the older two boys aren’t playing with him.

I dismiss myself from the slide and go set my boys straight.

“You will play with each other and you will like it,” I hiss under my teeth, not bothering to look back and see if my new potential friend is waiting for me by the slide. I just popped my own bubble of perfection in the mom-department. The real me has surfaced, slightly frazzled, a little impatient, and definitely tired.

My new potential friend has quietly slipped back toward her oversized SUV, nervously waving. “It was –- er –- nice to meet you,” she stammers across the playground as she quickly buckles car seats.

She’s gone, and so is today’s hope for finding a new connection in this wild world of relocating.

Even as I type this, my bottom lip is sticking out a little further than what’s acceptable for an almost 30-year-old woman. I would stop, but I really want to pout. My children pout when they, too, are hungry.

I sigh and turn back to the playground, letting the kids play until it’s time to go. I feel my heart shut down as we head back home.

As we pull in the driveway, I stare at our new house with resentment. I think of our old place and miss being able to hop on the bike and ride to my favorite hang-out. I miss my friends and the joy that came from sharing life together.

By the time I get home, I’m in a total funk. My husband asks if we had a good time at the park and I jerk my head toward him in response, giving him a “How dare you ask such a question!” look that sends him back upstairs to his office.

Instead of talking to him about my feelings, I stew over them –- alone.

On these days, we have talks that sound like this:

My husband: “Why can you talk to everyone but me? Why can you be deep with all your girlfriends or with complete strangers, but not me?”

Me: “I don’t know. I just can.”

My husband: “See, that’s exactly what I’m talking about.”

He’s right, and so am I.

I really don’t talk to him the way I talk with my girlfriends, but I really don’t know why. Is it because so much has happened in seven years of marriage to undermine the intimacy of our relationship? Have the busy schedules, the constant flow of motion, and the stress of always starting some project that is so big that we have to ride through the entire thing always on empty? Battling for safety of one child, watching another child battle for his life, and running 100 mph in opposite directions — have these things really taken a toll on our ability to be in authentic relationship with one another?

Thinking back over the last several years, I can hear the message I have sent to my husband multiple times: “This woman over here, the one who is hurting and feels abandoned, she is more important than you.” Of course, I never said this aloud, but when I stayed out two hours longer than I told him and returned home emotionally spent, this is what it sounded like to him.

As I listened to him say that he was tired of getting my leftovers, I would look at him in disbelief. “But it’s for ministry!” I would say. “She is hurting and just needs someone to listen to, someone to talk to.” And I would schedule another meeting later that week just to check in and see how everything was going.

Before our big move, I was so involved in so many different activities and meeting with so many women whom I loved dearly, that my husband was getting even less than leftovers. He was just being allowed to co-exist with me. As I returned home, energized by the stories these ladies and I shared, awed by the way God was orchestrating my life, I needed my husband’s input less and less. I didn’t run to him for advice or approval. I saved it for my girlfriends. I justified it because –- after all –- this is what he had been doing with youth ministry for the last 5 years. My niche had finally been carved for me, as well.

Except that this nearly destroyed us.

A year ago, we woke up and realized that we had chipped away at the foundation of our marriage for so long that we were standing on crumbled rocks completely disconnected from one another. Catastrophe hit every morning when we opened our eyes to look at one another. We were strangers sharing the same house.

Thankfully, God had a godly couple in mind to come in and do some crisis accountability. The stories they shared were real, their transparency authentic, and I am convinced today that these two literally saved the godly heritage we had hoped to leave our children that day my husband and I made our vows to one another.

So, a year later, how are we? Are we pricelessly authentic with one another? No, as per the wonderful conversations mentioned above! However, we are working on it, and God is continuing to teach me a very important lesson: “Thou shall have no other Gods before me, and no other best friends before thy husband.” It’s in scripture somewhere, I’m sure.

As I put together my mantra for authenticity, I wanted to write down the things I am really hungry for. At first, it was rooted in a hunger for authenticity from a friend. As God would have it, it has been reworded to speak of the hope I have for my marriage. Until this is fulfilled, we wake up each morning and place one foot before the other –- trusting we are still a match made in heaven.

  • I’m hungry for you to know me. Really know me. I’m hungry to be accepted. I know that you have accepted when we laugh over absolutely nothing at all because it’s funny to both of us. Nothing makes us both laugh.

  • I’m hungry for godly advice with abandon. Unleash it on me, please. Our marriage needs it. Our children need it. I need it. I need you to quote scripture and speak truth into my life. Why would you do that? Because you love me the way Christ loves me and you desire to see me stand for the things He stands for.

  • I’m hungry for purpose. And I feel valuable when you share your struggles and ask me for advice. I don’t feel alone when you admit that you, too, are imperfect. I find companionship in knowing we recover under the same grace of Jesus. I want to know that I am useful to you and that I offer insight you can’t find elsewhere.

  • I’m hungry for safety. Can we be so transparent with one another that there are no impressions, that there is no competition so we simply live side by side with one another in a way of encouragement? I am tired of the small things, those “foxes” Song of Songs talks about, that steal away our ability to be a refuge for one another.

  • I’m hungry for peace. A peace that stems from balance in our lives because we have talked through our visions, our passions, our ministries and have decided that while they are all good they are not all beneficial and we have chosen those to leave behind. I hunger for the ability of both of us to say, “Here, I want you to pursue this one freely, but please leave this idea alone for today.” And when we are real with one another, we can have peace, knowing that these aren’t demands, but authentic concerns for the balance in one another’s life.

Authenticity, let it flow. Let it be real and raw and full of God. But I also have a new prayer and a new hunger: Let my husband have the first portion of my thoughts and attentions. I love my friends, but they are going to have to settle for my leftovers. I can offer the same authentic ingredients, just a smaller portion of me.

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Marian Green resides with her husband and four children. She is an adoptive mom, a pastor's wife, and (once again) a student. She is currently working on a non-fiction project for "bad girls" -- helping women who have lived lives of promiscuity to redefine marital intimacy. In between it all she takes a deep breath and realizes, none of this was what she had planned in life ... and she loves it. Marian blogs at Uprooted and Undone.

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When Doing Justly, Loving Mercy, and Walking Humbly Stand at Odds

If your compassion far exceeds your capacity, here’s one way you can be sure to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly.

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One of my life verses is Micah 6:8, “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”

It is one of my favorite verses because my heart has been so moved by the love Jesus has for me and the sacrifice He made for me that I am grateful to have a way to express my gratitude through acts of justice and mercy while walking humbly with God.

I have found at times, however, the call to do justice and love mercy come in conflict with the call to walk humbly with God. For me, one of the ways to walk humbly with God is to recognize my limitations. I have to put skin to the fact that I am not God which means saying, “no” to ministry requests. It means going to sleep when I could be spending time advocating for the harrowed and helpless in the world. It means limited seats at my table, limited funds in my bank account, and limited energy in my body cannot be ignored but respected and adhered to.

This is hard for me at times, especially when I scroll my Facebook feed and see friends who are caring for their really sick children, spouse, or other family member all while millions of refugees flee war torn countries and babies are slaughtered by the hundreds each day in our country through the abortion industry.

As I scroll, I receive texts about one family member’s surgery gone wrong and another family member announcing a new baby is on the way. I have in mind my neighbor who has inpatient surgery scheduled this week and another neighbor who is trying to hold down a full-time job, care for twins all while battling profound “morning” sickness.

Folks at church are fighting for their lives in physical and spiritual ways, and strangers who pass me on the road are clearly battling something as demonstrated by their impatient honking because I won’t take a right turn on red. I want to meet the needs of all; I want to do justice and love mercy, but I’m daily confronted by the fact that I am so limited.

What am I to do when doing justly and/or loving mercy seem to come in conflict with walking humbly with my God?

God keeps bringing me to this answer: prayer.

God invites us to cast our cares before Him because He cares for us.
God tells us to be anxious for nothing BUT WITH PRAYER present our requests before Him.
God commands us to pray without ceasing.

And, when I walk humbly with God, I see the immense kindness in His command.
He gives us a way to do justly, love mercy WHILE walking humbly with Him.
It is by praying without ceasing.

I cannot take a meal or give money to every sick person or family I know. I cannot extend kindness to all my neighbors all at the same time they’re in need nor conjure up sustainable solutions for the refugee crisis and contact all the necessary world powers to make it happen.

I cannot heal all, but I know the Healer.

I cannot provide for all the needs, but I know the Provider.

I cannot rescue everyone in need, but I know the Rescuer.

I cannot comfort all the broken, but I know the Comforter.

I cannot speak peace over every situation, but I know the Prince of Peace.

I cannot be all to all, but I can go to the Great I Am through prayer, lay all the people, problems and pleas for help before the Omniscient and Omnipresent God of all Creation.

I can do this through prayer.

Recently, via an Instagram contest of all things, I came upon A–Z prayer cards designed by blogger/author/speaker, Amelia Rhodes. It is a simple concept packed with a powerful prayer punch. It has served me personally in this tension of wanting to do far more than I practically can do. It provides prayer prompts starting with each letter of the alphabet along with a scripture that coincides with the prayer focus. It ranges from Adoption to a creative “Zero Prejudice” for the letter “Z.”

The cards are well thought out, color printed on sturdy cardstock with blank lines for the user to write in the names of people and/or organizations that are personal to them.

If, like me, your compassion far exceeds your capacity, pick up a set of these prayer cards and unload your burdens onto a God whose competence matches His kindness, both boundless.

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Facing Our Fears in Motherhood

Do you have fears tied to motherhood? If so, here’s encouragement for you.

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“Are you scared?”

I was taken aback by his question. Scared? Of what?

“Of anything,” he answered.

I had just shared my due date with a new class of trainees.

“He has three boys,” another new hire volunteered. So fear is to be expected, I reasoned. I’m just about to face the most frightening experience in my life.

Of course I was scared.

I was scared…

  • I’ll lose my temper.
  • I’ll whine about sleepless nights.
  • I’ll breastfeed too often or not often enough.
  • I’ll leave piles of unfolded onesies in the middle of the nursery floor because I’m too tired (or lazy?) to fold teeny-tiny baby clothes for the upteenth time.
  • I’ll go with disposable diapers when the better choice would be cloth.
  • I’ll work too many long hours at the office and miss precious moments with her.
  • I’ll sign her up for too many activities and push her to become Miss Achieve-It-All.
  • I’ll pass on to her my ugly pride, self-righteousness, and perfectionism like a dreadful contagious disease.
  • I’ll miss countless little joys in life while pursuing worthless dreams.

Facing Our Fears in MotherhoodIn short… I was afraid I was going to fail miserably as a parent.

And now, holding my second-born daughter in my arms, thinking back on that brief exchange just a few years ago, I realize those fears were well-founded. I’ve failed many times. I’ve lost my temper. I’ve raised my voice. I’ve worked too much and played too little. I’ve seen my own sinfulness reflected in my daughter.

Yes, I’ve failed, but over and above it all, God’s grace has covered my parenting imperfections and made me run to the cross day after day. The writer of Proverbs puts it this way:

Whoever fears the LORD has a secure fortress, and for their children it will be a refuge.
Proverbs 14:26

When it comes to fears, we have two choices: Will we fear the unknown or will we fear the Lord? Will we allow the uncertain to grip us in its clutch or will we turn to God’s Truth to set us free?

Scared? Oh yeah. There was so much to be scared of that day. And even now, if I’m completely honest, there are still fears nibbling at the edges of my consciousness. Fear that we won’t outgrow the temper tantrums. Fear that the two girls won’t get along. Fear that I’ll mess them up and cause them interminable hours on a psychologist’s couch.

I’m sure you have fears, too.

But rather than allow those fears to consume and paralyze us, we can take them to the Lord, acknowledging His sovereignty over our parenting, pleading His grace over our mistakes, and entrusting His provision over their futures. He is not only able to handle it all — He is far more capable to be trusted with it all.

If I say one thing to that frightened 9-month-pregnant me standing in that room years ago, I would say this: Don’t let fear rob today’s joy with tomorrow’s unknowns. Each day has enough worries of its own (Matthew 6:34).

Instead, let us keep seeking God, running to Him as our secure fortress and resting in the knowledge that He will care for us and our children one day at a time.

What are you scared of today? Name your fears and bring them to the Lord, allowing Him to replace them with His peace that passes all understanding.

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He Gives Shade To The Weary

If anxiety is a struggle for you right now, remember that He gives shade to the weary.

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Do you ever have those moments of fear because you don’t know what lies ahead? When do those thoughts tend to happen to you?

For me, most of those thoughts happen when I lay my head down to sleep at night. The vulnerability comes forth every time. That’s what happened the other night to me. I shut my eyes and immediately anxiety welled up inside me.

What if we don’t succeed in this new venture? What if we have to move? What if we can’t pay our bills?

I laid there with the covers drawn tight over my head (I still think that I am safer if the covers are over my head), praying scripture over my anxious heart. Assuring myself that God sees me and that He cares.

In the morning, I turned to Isaiah 41, specifically verses 10-20.

“Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10, NASB)

Yesterday, the “what if’s” piled up as I anxiously looked about me. My daughter needs tutoring, however at this point in life, tutoring feels like a luxury we can’t afford. So I listed some items online to sell hoping to make just enough to cover the tutoring. I’m buying groceries on a Visa reward card. I’m holding my breath until the next paycheck comes. But what did God speak over me: Do not fear. Do not look anxiously about you.

“For I am the Lord your God, who upholds your right hand, Who says to you, ‘Do not fear, I will help you.’ Do not fear, you worm Jacob, you men of Israel; I will help you,” declares the Lord, “and your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel.” (Isaiah 41:13-14 NASB)

Why shouldn’t I be anxious? Because God will hold me up. God will help me. When I first read the word “worm” as a description, I took it as a slam against Israel. Like, gesh, God. What animal does He relate me to? But through further study, He calls them a worm because worms are helpless. They are viewed as insignificant, despised and weak. God will help me — seemingly insignificant, helpless me — because He is my Redeemer. He is my go’el — my next of kin. The Redeemer is the one who provides for all my needs. Rent. Car payment. Credit card bill. Gas. Food. Clothes. Debt. God will redeem.

He Gives Shade to the Weary

“Behold, I have made you a new, sharp threshing sledge with double edges; You will thresh the mountains and pulverize them, And will make the hills like chaff. You will winnow them, and the wind will carry them away, And the storm will scatter them; But you will rejoice in the Lord, You will glory in the Holy One of Israel.” (Isaiah 41:15-16 NASB).

God is transforming me from a helpless one to a powerful one. The description of that type of threshing sledge is like a modern day earth mover. Powerful. Strong. Immovable.

“The afflicted and needy are seeking water, but there is none, And their tongue is parched with thirst; I, the Lord, will answer them Myself, As the God of Israel I will not forsake them.” (Isaiah 41:17, NASB)

He will come to our rescue. God, Himself, will answer you and me. Can you hear how personal that sounds? Have you ever pleaded with someone important whether your boss, public figure, or even a parent, and they responded to the need themselves? You expected for them to send their assistant, but instead they — the most important one — responded to you.

“I will open rivers on the bare heights And springs in the midst of the valleys; I will make the wilderness a pool of water And the dry land fountains of water. I will put the cedar in the wilderness, The acacia and the myrtle and the olive tree; I will place the juniper in the desert Together with the box tree and the cypress.” (Isaiah 41:18-19, NASB)

This passage describes the wilderness-like times in life. You are barren. You are thirsty. You are hot. You are in need. God will provide what you need. God will quench your thirst. He will provide shade when you are weary. During those times, God can provide in creative, innovative ways. He can provide something out of nothing. Doesn’t that give you great hope? Even when you can’t answer how He will do it, He is creative enough to figure it out even when the odds are stacked against you.

“That they may see and recognize, And consider and gain insight as well, That the hand of the Lord has done this, And the Holy One of Israel has created it.” (Isaiah 41:20 NASB).

God will do all of this so that His glory will be put on display. People — including yourself — will see that He is powerful.

So you can see how after a night of wrestling with fear and anxiety, reading this was like shade and water for my soul. God is a god who sees. And God is a god who acts on your behalf.

What do you need His help with today? What are you fearful about today? What keeps you awake at night? Where do you need some shade?

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Hi, I'm Ashleigh Slater, founder and editor of Ungrind. Here at Ungrind, it’s our goal to churn out biblically-based encouragement for women. We strive to be honest and transparent about our struggles in a way that inspires hope, faith, and perseverance.

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Hungry

by Marian Green time to read: 6 min
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