Naghmeh Abedini: How Do We Respond? Part 3

Naghmeh Abedini photo

Naghmeh Abedini’s Facebook Profile pic

In How Do We Respond: Part 2 I worked off the premise that, “Domestic violence and abuse of any type is not a marital issue; it is an abuse issue.”

“The abuser needs healing.”

Now on to my reasoning for having the abuser obtain counseling without the presence or help of the spouse: The victim shares no responsibility in the abuser’s character, attitude or actions.

There is scriptural precedence for blame not being split down the middle.

Let’s consider Nabal and Abigail from I Samuel 25. Abagail was living in an abusive nightmare. And let’s make one thing clear: No woman deserves to be abused. Education, social standing, beauty, or lack thereof…nothing gives cause for a human to be treated with abuse yet we read of Nabal, an abusive husband to, Abigail, “an intelligent and beautiful woman.” The Bible describes Nabal as harsh and evil in his dealings. I Samuel 25:3. I understand a good deal about narcissistic personality disorder and will restate what I have read numerous times from Christian psychologists; Nabal was a narcissist.  He was utterly selfish, ungrateful, mean, sarcastic, arrogant, and lacked any amount of empathy.

An extremely wealthy Nabal refused David’s request to feed David’s 600 men. That was the hospitable custom of the day for travelers; especially since David and his men had been protecting Nabal’s workers from theft and harm during their stay in the desert. Thereafter, when David went to kill Nabal and the males who belonged to Nabal, he met Abigail riding her donkey on the road. She was a wise woman and was on her way to intercede with food and drinks, and to ask for forgiveness. I imagine she was thinking of her innocent family members; not Nabal. Abigail, “got off her donkey” and pleaded, “Please pay no attention, my lord, to that wicked man Nabal. He is just like his name—his name means Fool, and folly goes with him. And as for me, your servant, I did not see the men my lord sent.” After David listened to Abigail’s appeal, he was impressed by her and thanked her for keeping him from bloodshed that day.

Abigail showed immense courage; plus she was sensible, capable and persuasive. Being an abused woman DOES NOT mean you are weak, incapable, stupid, unattractive, boring in the bedroom, or insensible. Most likely you are strong. How else could you survive the abuse?  Nabal could have severely punished Abigail for her independent actions that went against the rules of marriage in those days. David and his men could have taken her life and continued on to massacre Nabal’s household.Yes, Abigail, was strong and courageous.

David was wise. He listened. He took extra time and effort to understand Abigail’s predicament. He did not hold Abigail responsible for her husband’s actions or tell her she held a portion of responsibility for his actions.  Neither did the Lord; in fact, when Abigail told Nabal what she had done, “He became like a stone.” Possibly he became so worked up that, “His heart failed him.” Ten days later the Lord took Nabal.

I can’t tell you how many abused women have hoped for such an ending. I would like to take a poll and find out for myself. That may sound terrible but I’m just being honest. The flip side of this is the numerous women who were in total despair, saw no hope, and imagined there was no way out; choosing instead to end their lives with suicide.

 

Now let us take a look at Lot and his wife in Genesis 19.  This is the account of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah; the city which archaeologists claim to have found in the last few years.

Sodom and Gomorrah is a stern, wise warning that indulgence, not restrained by the Holy Spirit in us, arouses lust and can leave us continually wanting more. Lot, his wife and their family were told to, “Flee for your lives! Don’t look back.” Lot’s wife disobeyed the urgent command and looking back, turned into a pillar of salt. Did the Lord judge Lot by his wife’s actions? No. Lot’s wife made an independent decision and received the foretold consequence for her actions.

Now we will look at Joseph in Genesis 39. He acted honorably with truth yet Potiphar’s wife persuasively lied resulting in Joseph’s imprisonment.  I believe Potiphar probably knew his wife was lying and that is why he, “Burned with anger” when he heard the accusation. Because Potiphar’s entire household, including slaves and servants, heard the charge; he was forced to take swift action.  Potiphar chose not to have Joseph executed; in fact, Potiphar (Captain of the guard a.k.a.; prison warden) still trusted and respected Joseph and saw fit to place Joseph in charge of everyone, and responsible for everything done in the prison.

This is often what women go through in joint counseling when the husband spins a different story. They play the role of victim and the wife gets scolded; leaving  her isolated, in despair and in an emotional prison because the professional they trusted to see through the grand acting is blind, deaf and dumb to his antics. Her husband looks great to others around them, and she hurts and grieves horrifically behind closed doors in her home. It is common for the wife to be disbelieved; leaving her beaten down.  The wife may feel like the counselor just dug her grave so her husband could bury her alive.

Another problem women tend to have is that some male counselors refuse to call the husband on the carpet over his abuse in front of the wife due to the patriarchal system to which some Christians adhere. In such cases the counselor will reprimand the wife for her desperation or for showing emotional responses to her deep marital wounds. A patriarchal social system can be defined as a system where men are in authority over women in all aspects of society; a false sense of male entitlement. This system employed by an abuser can lead to further verbal, emotional, physical and sexual abuse in the home; silencing the victim. We need people who will hear and,

 “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves;
ensure justice for those being crushed.
 Yes, speak up for the poor and helpless,
and see that they get justice.” Proverbs 31:8-9.

Many in our own American culture seem to hold a view of women as substandard beings. Case in point: Google all the revolting, insensitive, demeaning statements presidential hopeful, Donald Trump, says about women. We don’t need him standing at the top of that slippery slope encouraging other men to join him for the ride.

 “Women, our gender will not flourish in a political climate where we are objectified OR deified.” –Beth Moore

The church needs to educate itself on domestic abuse. There are women you see in church every Sunday who are sitting next to their abuser. She has done nothing wrong and yet most counselors would give her at least a gentle rebuke for saying anything negative about her husband when she desperately needs someone to hold the abuser accountable. A gentle rebuke for the abuser serves no purpose; in fact it is a nauseating jest for the woman, as nothing changes. Only strong accountability by the church and a counselor who specializes in rehabilitating abusers will help.

To read a chilling account of a husband and wife who both lacked integrity and who were equally paired in their deceptive ways, duly receiving the same consequence, read Acts 5:1-11. This lesson is not about marital abuse but rather marital co-conspiracy. Peter exposed their fraud of lying to the Holy Spirit and embezzlement.  The punishment was proportionate to both; death.

Isaiah 1:17 reads, “Learn to do good; seek justice; reprove the ruthless; defend the orphan; plead for the widow.” Women in this situation are widows; sometimes they are married widows because their husbands have emotionally and spiritually divorced them.

When abuse revelations come forth from a woman in ministry, or she is married to a spouse in ministry, or is publicly well-known—few are interested in hearing the truth of her suffering, and fewer are willing to risk supporting her. It’s uncomfortable to hear. Unless you are living it, it is difficult to imagine such behavior is possible from someone who has been held in such high regard. Although the husband has emotionally and spiritually left the wife he pours on the charisma, charming smiles, spiritual talk, and engaging conversation to outsiders.

“I fear many of us have confused Christendom with Christ. We equate Christian institutions and organizations with the Son of God. They are not the same. Christendom is not even the same as the true body of Christ. Jesus Himself told us that. He said there are tares among the wheat, wolves among the sheep, and whitewashed humans posing as believers — sometimes in leadership. We long to be comfortable somewhere, to fit in, to feel at home, and so we let ourselves think Christendom is safe and fail to see and assess and discern. Instead we listen and follow, or we remain silent. Many poor sheep have unknowingly followed a blind guide and landed in a pit. Christendom, like all institutions or organizations, tries to protect itself. If you doubt that, just expose a case of child sexual abuse by a leader and watch what happens.  Christendom has used Scripture to support or hide slavery, racism, domestic violence, and other cruelties our God hates. I fear Christendom today has become less interested in truth and more interested in power and protecting that power. Many have acquired fame, money, status, reputation, and kingdoms. At the same time we are steeped in pornography, marriages are failing in large numbers, the next generation is turning away, and we tolerate leaders in our organizations and pulpits who feed off the sheep. We have had a lot of recent headlines about Christian leaders and Christian systems that look nothing like our Lord. Christendom is not Christ.”¹   – Diane Langberg  

 

This reminds me of when leaders were waiting to see if Jesus would challenge Sabbath teachings by healing a man, (Mark 3) and a woman (Luke 13) on that day. Jesus did heal the needy man and woman, and he told the leaders that the Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath. I believe the same applies to marriage.

The church must choose to love people more than they love things such as the institution of marriage. My commitment to my marriage covenant, and my false belief that divorce was wrong in all cases, kept me in a very sick and dangerous marriage for too long. You cannot make your husband love you, or reason with him to stop the abuse.

Wives in abusive relationships long for their abuser to be reasonable.  This will not happen. He’ll justify every offensive word and action. His refusal is the headquarters of his control. Nothing is more frustrating, or more difficult, than living with an unfair, unreasonable, and self-centered abuser.

I have learned that the percentage of abusive men who actually change is close to nil. It usually only escalates. This is a sad fact. It isn’t hopeless if the husband wants to work through the dysfunction because he, “Can do all things through Christ who strengthens” him. We know our God is the God who makes impossibilities possible.

Regardless of an abuser’s cruelty, selfishness, deceit, unfaithfulness, addiction, and/or weakness,—it can’t trump God’s strength.

Prayer for Naghmeh is essential during this time. I hope many more choose to cover her in prayer.

Naghmeh is handling the marital separation with strength that comes only from God, and I admire how she is taking her stand quietly, working hopefully, not bashing her husband, and yet preserving her own dignity.

 

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¹ http://byfaithonline.com/suffering-and-the-heart-of-god/?platform=hootsuite

 

MORE ARTICLES ON NAGHMEH ABEDINI:

Naghmeh Abedini: How Do We Respond? Part 1 March 1, 2016

Naghmeh Abedini: How Do We Respond? Part 2 March 3, 2106

Naghmeh Abedini’s Leaked Letter December 8, 2015

She Said He Said: Naghmeh and Saeed Abedini February 2, 2016

 

 

 

 

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Undeniable

On this Good Friday as we look forward to celebrating the day of redemption; Easter, I am reminded that the cross is not just for those who need to find Jesus. The cross is the power that keeps me energized, sane and living every day with purpose. Satan has come to steal, kill and destroy everything dear to me; multiple times over, but by the power of Christ’s finished work on the cross, Satan has not triumphed and he will not win. Not only does the power of the cross save me in life; it will save me in death when I see my Savior face to face for all eternity.

How sure of this am I, you may be asking?

100%!

Jesus is more alive, real and involved in my daily life than any human being I have known, or will know.

 #alwaysready #openuptheheavens #Sundayiscoming #Helives

Easter darkness fell

” For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” Romans 1:20

 

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Guest Post: The Secret Language of Narcissists: How Abusers Manipulate Their Victims

 

Validation.

Isn’t that what so many people who suffer from narcissistic abuse long for in their lives? Yes!  (Most sufferers are women since the majority of narcissists are men.)

I hear from so many of you who live with, or are in some type of relationship with, a narcissist. Many of you tell me of being divorced from your narcissist, but your children are stuck in the middle and are still heavily influenced, and/or abused by him.

Here is another article that will remind you: You’re not crazy, and you can take back the control and power from your abuser.

GUEST POST:

The Secret Language of Narcissists: How Abusers Manipulate Their Victims

 

a real man is

 

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Naghmeh Abedini: How Do We Respond? Part 2

Save Saeed

One of many times Naghmeh brought her husband’s unjust imprisonment to the attention of the world.

 

Domestic violence and abuse of any type is not a marital issue; it is an abuse issue.

The abuser needs healing.

If a woman’s husband has cancer she cannot go to the doctor and receive treatment for him, nor can she consume half of his prescriptions for him. He would need to take all the treatments and meds by himself; for himself. In the case of marital abuse; experts recommend isolated counseling for the abuser. Alone. Long term. Without the spouse.

 

This is a continuation of my last blog post, “Naghmeh Abedini: How Do We Respond?”

Saeed prayer vigil

One of several prayer vigils and times of fasting and praying, Naghmeh, led on behalf of her husband.

Today I again write from a place of vulnerability for the sake of abused Christian wives, especially pastors’ and missionaries’ wives, who are in abusive marriages. My heart goes out to hurting women who are not believed when they finally muster up the courage to tell their family, friends and/or church that they have been secretly abused in their own home and are now seeking help and healing.

As I wrote in my last blog post; Christian women are taught to stay, pray, hope, encourage, love through actions, and wait on God. Here is the catch—God gives us free choice and the spouse has a choice in the outcome. The above does not apply in an abusive marriage or a marriage plagued with unfaithfulness.  God does allow for separation and divorce. See Toxic Intervention. A Toxic Relationship and a Therapeutic Separation. Biblical Permission to Leave a Toxic Spouse.

You never know what goes on in someone else’s home. You have no way of understanding if the woman sitting next to you in Bible study, or worshiping next to you in church is secretly being mistreated in  her home. If she should muster up the courage to tell you; please listen. Please believe her.

GRACE 11

What is at the root of abuse?

Most abuse comes from one, or a combination, of these factors:

  1. Pornography and sexual addictions
  2. Substance abuse
  3. Personality disorders or untreated mental illness
  4. Deep seeded societal and/or nonbiblical religious views of women as objects/property
  5. The abuser has a background of victimization
  6. The abuser is emulating what they learned as a child from their own dysfunctional parent/s.

Yet an admission of guilt from the abuser is rare; and more exceptional is an abuser seeking heartfelt help to overcome their attitudes and actions. What’s more common is the abuser denying responsibility, placing the blame on the victim, and justifying every unloving word, dishonorable behavior, and/or violent act. As if this isn’t difficult enough for the wife to survive (or in some cases the man because there are abused men too) she has to endure his grand acting ability to win over anyone who will listen to him.

By the way; the above is not limited to marriages. It can be found in other relationships: Friendships, significant others, extended family, siblings, co-workers, politicians, community leaders, or neighbors.

In Naghmeh Abedini’s case she has to endure seeing television and internet interviews, and reading newspapers, blogs, forums and Facebook posts where Saeed acts like nothing is wrong except a wife who has undergone extreme stress for the last few years during his imprisonment and needs help overcoming her issues.

I understand some of Naghmeh’s heartache and frustration, but I never suffered in a media driven, national and international, environment as she is.

By the way—you’ll notice I don’t refer to Saeed as, Pastor Saeed. It is purposeful due to the fact that he is not an ordained pastor through any church denomination, or non-denomination; rather he purchased a mail order certificate.¹ Plus the Bible has clear teachings about those in leadership and teaching positions in the church for which Saeed does not presently qualify.

“Here is a trustworthy saying: Whoever aspires to be an overseerdesires a noble task. Now the overseer is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him, and he must do so in a manner worthy of full respect. (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?) He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil’s trap.” I Timothy 3:1-7

 

In a statement to the Idaho Statesman (January 30, 2016), Saeed thanked his wife for advocating on his behalf. He said that his marriage is troubled and that he is not perfect, but he downplayed the allegations of abuse.

“Much of what I have read in Naghmeh’s posts and subsequent media reports is not true,” he said in the statement. “But I believe we should work on our relationship in private and not on social media or other media.”

“In private.” “Not on social media or other media.”His words.

Two weeks later on social media Saeed posted this:


FACEBOOK:  Saeed Abedini
 added 2 new photos — with Saeed Abedini.

February 14 at 8:38pm ·

Warm Greetings Dear Saints!

We Love because He first Loved us. (1John 4:19)

This is my first post on Facebook after 4 long years of imprisonment. I see there is a LOVE story between us as I went through hardship of imprisonment by you showing your support with sending hundreds & thousands of letters of encouragement and LOVE to the prison. 1000’s of cities and countries and locations gathering for pray vigils, sending gifts to my wife and children, etc.. .
You created a LOVE story that even Muslims in Iran talked about.

My beloved sisters and brothers, I want you to know how much I LOVE you and how much Your prayers and support changed my situation and how much I am thankful for your heart and Care.
I am grateful for marriage counselors who have been helping me but my wife’s relationship with me is not good at this point, so we need prayer that she joins this counseling process with us.

Free By Christ For Christ
Saeed Abedini

 

An emotionally and spiritually healthy husband would not put such a spin on his words. I read an agenda, an ulterior motive coming through loud and clear. He could have requested, “Please pray for my family” but didn’t. He referred to marital problems and stated, “My wife’s relationship with me is not good.” He manipulated words to indicate to his readers that Naghmeh is the one getting in the way of reconciliation; not him.  Please refer to my opening paragraph, “Domestic violence and abuse of any type is not a marital issue; it is an abuse issue.”

Abusers lack humility and honesty. They fail to take responsibility for their role in the condition of their family and marriage.

A godly man would not treat his wife like this—he should advocate his willingness to seek healing and restoration, or make a full admission and acknowledge she has biblical grounds to leave him. Publically, Saeed is making no attempt to win her back. We read nothing like this.

 

This reminds me of my own ex-husband. He was abusive in the home, ripe with mental illness, and void of conscience all while publicly portraying the godly, soul-winning, personable, full of charisma, scripture quoting, dynamic speaking pastor.

While he was sitting in jail, awaiting trial for being a child molester he penned a letter. The letter was downright disturbing for me to read but what angered me was the fact that the evangelistic association he sent it to believed him. Then they adored him—and praised him—and forwarded the letter to their prayer and financial partners all over the world so they could pray for this (supposed) humble, misunderstood, wrongly accused man of God. Read the letter here: Man Sentenced to Life in Prison Under Jessica’s Law

 

Based on personal messages I receive from readers; abusers know no boundaries and come from every walk of life including Christian ministry homes. I read of abuse in evangelical homes being common place. I read of some church ministries which recommend the wife stay silent for the sake of Christ’s reputation. What!

Christ does not need us to protect His reputation. He is completely secure in who He is. There is nothing we can do, good or evil, that changes who He is and what He can do.

The book of Isaiah holds a prophecy of the coming Messiah: “He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,  to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners,” Isaiah 61:1b

He came to set us free; on earth, and for eternity.

“Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead expose them;” Ephesians 5:11

 

Sincere sorrow, true repentance, and a renewed heart toward his wife and children would keep Saeed Abedini out of the spotlight, or at least initiate confessing his problems so healing and reconciliation could happened in his family.  Instead he is enjoying the fame and taking advantage of the free press, television air time, and financial help while it is available while showing no remorse for his actions toward his wife.

 

As my ex-husband insisted, God had called him to the ministry and not even his wife and child were going to keep him from his calling. The truth was he relished the public popularity ministry afforded him, and he enjoyed his sinful, messed up choices in life more than he desired healing and reconciliation.

Many friends, mentors, family members and church leaders attempted to call my ex-husband (at the time my husband) to accountability. People saw character flaws, sin issues, and leadership problems but he refused help, church discipline, and would not listen to those in authority over him.

 

I’m glad Saeed Abedini was delivered from an unjust prison sentence. I pray he finds the strength and courage to repent, honor God and honor Naghmeh, and show both God and Naghmeh respect from a grateful heart; a heart full of healed, true love.

In my next post I will give scriptural precedence for blame not being split down the middle for a marriage in crisis due to abuse.

Naghmeh remains verbally, publicly challenged by many who do not believe her story.  I hope through sharing my history and insight with my readers that more people choose to trust her testimony, and lift her up in prayer.

 

GRACE 5

 

_______________________

¹. Facedbook; Naghmeh Abedini, public profile page, March 1, 2016, 6:07 a.m.

love and admire for strength

Naghmeh Abedini: How Do We Respond?

Naghmeh Abedini photo

Naghmeh Abedini’s Facebook profile pic

I’ve never found a handbook that teaches a woman how to, step by step, respond or react to her abuser. Emotionally and spiritually there is rarely consistent logic to a victim’s response to abuse. It isn’t easy to reconcile what’s supposed to be love with what is committed as abuse.  No two abusers are alike and their victims have different coping techniques.

In this, and future posts, I will share my thoughts on Naghmeh Abedini’s abuse allegations.

An abuse victim play-by-play book doesn’t exist; however, there are helpful books on the subject that can now be found for sale or at your local library; for that I’m thankful.

The Verbally Abusive Relationship

The Emotionally Destructive Marriage  

See the Emotionally Destructive Marriage website

Sacred Influence: How God Uses Wives to Shape the Souls of their Husbands

 

Why did Naghmeh take so long to tell, you may be asking?  Toxic Tuesday biochem hazard small

Possibly, simply because Christian women don’t tell.

Good wives don’t talk poorly about their husbands. You never tell your family because that may incite them to not like him—and they might encourage you to leave him. We are taught at Bible College, in the church and by godly older women that we never speak poorly of our husbands; especially when you are in the ministry—which she was.

They are to encourage their husbands, respect their husbands, forgive them, pray for them, hope in them, help them, and make love a daily action even when they don’t feel like it. Be intentional about how they respond in love; not frustration or anger. Don’t dwell on the negative; concentrate on the good parts. Be the one to set the tone for the atmosphere in their home to keep it positive and productive. Let go of pride.

Don’t compare their marriage to anyone else’s marriage. Don’t compare their attitude or actions to his. Pray that God will change their heart and through that, improve the difficulties in their marriage.

Care, adore, smile, kiss passionately, forgive, forgive again, be gracious, listen, compliment him, comfort him, and be content. Stay…always stay the course—it WILL pay off. It will!  It does not matter how the woman feels; what matters is how they respond. With God, all things are possible! Especially if both of you profess Christ as your Lord and Savior.(The above does not apply in an abusive marriage or a marriage plagued with unfaithfulness.)

Remember there were reasons she grew to love him in the first place. There were and are good qualities too.

Many Christian women who are abused by their husbands often suffer in silence; praying and waiting on God to deliver them while being careful not to shout from the rooftops, or whisper in the corner, their husband’s abusive nature.

Add in public ministry, and revealing the abuse becomes more difficult. Remember she did take legal action against him in 2007 for domestic abuse.

On top of all this, if it were me, I would begin to notice that life was easier without him around. A wife would notice, “I’m beginning to feel like myself again, I am competent, I’m not crazy, and it’s not all my fault.” The realization might be followed by a sigh of relief that the abuse has stopped due to his imprisonment.

Then God calls you to do what no one else will have the passion to do for the father of your children, and that is be a voice to citizens, churches and government for the plight of persecuted Christians around the globe; along with, your husband and other American citizens being held hostage; wrongly imprisoned in Iran. Toss in being in the international spotlight and you have a recipe for keeping quiet in the moment.

And if God called me to do this for my husband; I would hope and believe with all my heart that the man I love would come home, if he comes home, a changed man. Come home repentant and apologetic for the ways he abused me and didn’t love me the way God intended for him to love me. Yes, in my mind I would believe God allowed him to be wrongly imprisoned to get his attention and lead him to change his heart and actions.

 

We can make many guesses as to why God allowed Saeed to be freed from prison at the same time as allowing this story to come out in the news. I believe God’s heart and will is to humble and bring Saeed Abedini to true repentance—something being a hostage in prison seemingly failed to do.

I also believe God wants to set the prisoners of spousal abuse free. Naghmeh’s story has international pull.  Let’s pray for freedom to happen instead of enabling her husband’s sin through undeserved flattering praise.

Jesus Christ never treated women in a hard-hearted or dismissive way, or used violence against women for any purpose. Jesus came to give our dignity, worth and voice back to us.

 

Over time I have become a HUGE advocate of individual treatment for abusers; which does not include traditional marital counseling between the husband and wife. THIS DOES NOT WORK! Abusers tend to be smooth talkers who NEVER take responsibility for their actions. NEVER! They spin, justify and explain away every abusive word and action. This can cause total despair for the wife and has on occasion led to abused women committing suicide.

I’m saddened that there are several men, and even some pastors and leaders, who are treating Naghmeh in a dismissive—you have a part in this too—way. She is the victim! She bears no responsibility in Saeed’s treatment of her. For Saeed, or anyone, to say counseling cannot happen unless Naghmeh joins him is foolish.¹ At this point they do not need marital counseling; Saeed needs long-term, professional counsel from a godly teacher who specializes in rehabilitating abusers. Until then, Naghmeh has every right to maintain distance. Most counselors would want to split blame down the middle between Saeed and Naghmeh, but those who specialize in treating abusers know all the blame goes squarely on the shoulders of Saeed.

Few want to risk supporting the abused wife.

Please join me in supporting her through prayer to the One who hears, who knows, who cares, and who acts on behalf of the prayers.

To be continued…

if he really loves you

¹. Facedbook; Saeed Abedini, public profile page, February 14, 2016 at 10:38 p.m.

 

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Why Men Don’t Change

Source: Why Men Don’t Change

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I’ve been a reader of Gary Thomas’s books for several years and I’m always thankful for his spiritual insight and practical applications.

This article will be helpful to many of my readers who are in difficult marriages, or know a friend or loved one in a difficult marriage. The difficulty could be due to mental illness or ‘functional fixedness.’ Although some mental illnesses have roots in chemical imbalance or genetics; many are due to long rooted sin that has become a ‘normal’ way of life, but make no mistake, it is a sinful pattern and it CAN be changed. The person has to want to change and that is where Gary Thomas has insight into how to pray for this change. His future blogs will have practical application on the subject.

“Many wives live with great frustration because even though they point out to their husbands how much they are hurting, their husbands don’t seem to care and they don’t change. In many cases, this is due to ‘functional fixedness,’ which means a man isn’t motivated by his wife’s pain; he’s only motivated by his pain. This is a spiritual condition and directly related to his spiritual maturity. If you or someone you know is stuck in the mire of living with a recalcitrant spouse, you might find this post particularly helpful.”

 

Read more…

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GIVE AWAY:Blooming with Joy TEA

Blooming with Joy pic

WINNER: Tresa! Please check you email inbox for mailing arrangements. Happy Valentine’s Day!

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner and to sweeten your time with the Lover of your soul, I’m giving away a tin of CHOCOLATE COVERED STRAWBERRY loose leaf tea by Blooming with Joy. If you haven’t tried loose leaf tea you are about to be spoiled and become a tea snob. Yep…that’s exactly what infusing loose leaf tea will do to you. And I’ll add that for the PERFECT cup of tea you simply must drink from Bone China.

chocolate-coverd-strawberry-pu-erh

I can be found with a cup of tea in my hand, on my desk, next to me while I’m snuggled under a blanket in my favorite chair having my quiet time with the Lord, or at the table teaching my boys. I’m a huge tea fan and with the many specialty mixes that, Michelle, at Blooming with Joy blends you can feel the joy, share the joy, and drink the joy!

Leave a comment below for your chance to win the delightful fusion of chocolate, strawberries and cream. Tell me your favorite Valentine candy, or simply say, “Pick Me!” The winner will be announced Sunday night, 2/7/2016, and your tin of tea will be mailed on Monday so you have it in time for Valentine’s Day. (Winner must live in the lower 48 lower/contiguous states of the United States.) Winner may check their email for a message from GiveMe Chocolate.

Blooming with Joy tray

Check out Blooming with Joy’s eStore for black teas, green teas, herbal teas, Chai teas, ice tea blends, boxed sets, and gift sets. Your taste buds will thank you! Michelle has a free shipping option on some teas and occasionally offers discount codes for your order; a TRUELOVE discount is presently available.

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Naghmeh Abedini photo
Video

She Said He Said: Naghmeh and Saeed Abedini

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Naghmeh Abedini photo

Naghmeh Abedini’s Facebook profile pic

Today’s post is for those who spent the last three and a half years praying for the release of Pastor Saeed Abedini from his unjust prison sentence in the Iranian prison system. More specifically, if Naghmeh’s testimony is true, this is for those who support her on a new path of setting boundaries as God invites her to participate in the next redemptive part of the story in her husband’s life. Saeed was delivered from the chains of physical prison but she now has a new prison to pray him out of; and it’s a prison that Satan has every intention of keeping Saeed in for life.

Satan comes to steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10). Satan missed out on killing Saeed Abedini, he stole his testimony (the good news is it can be reclaimed), and Satan desires to destroy the Abedini’s family unit.

I’ve struggled on the path of boundary setting several times in my life, and continue to battle there. Years ago I was led by the Lord to legally separate from my first husband as a means to get his attention that life could not go on as it had. That history gives me a passion for women in difficult relationships and allows me a perception to understand their heart, insecurities, questions and needs. Fortunately the Lord provides a safe place to wrestle through our struggles, brokenness, and call to obedience. If Naghmeh is experiencing anything like I did, she is laboring through her fasting and prayer time with eagerness to CLEARLY hear God’s answers and leading. I imagine she longs to obey her heavenly Father. I know I begged the Lord to not allow me to make a mistake; to make it so clear to this, ‘Dust’ (Psalm 103:14) that there would be no way for me to miss His answer. And most importantly, if I was praying outside of God’s heart and will for my marriage and family—outside of the very best He had for us, that He would override my desires and requests with His sovereignty. Lastly, if I errored I decided I would rather error in faith than in unbelief, rebellion or inaction.

I remember all too well the people who did not believe me.  I’m grateful to this day the Lord gave me peace to move forward, not look back, and not concern myself with other people’s opinions. That was difficult for this people pleaser! I remember my, then, husband telling friends and ministry associates that I was having emotional difficulties and that he would be gracious to give me the time I needed to find help and healing. There were abundant lies told about me. He insisted I was causing marital problems since I didn’t want to go back into the ministry with him and because I refused to leave my parents. Both were non-truths! In the end I lost dozens, if not hundreds, of friends and ministry contacts. In the void, God provided me with rich, mature, enduring friendships.

Fast-forward eighteen years: Vindication and justice prevailed. The times when I asked God for an immediate fix and instant safety for my daughter and myself; God was working out a permanent solution for our safety and the protection of children in churches where this man could potentially find more victims. This man now sits in prison for the rest of his life, without the possibility of parole for 25 years. The Lord, acting on the prayers of friends, family and GiveMe Chocolate readers put a known pedophile where he belongs!

Now rewind. During those years of a difficult marriage with an abusive, mentally ill husband I consumed Christian books on marriage. In the process I realized those were great book, but not for my marriage.

So if you are thinking Naghmeh could benefit from Christian marriage and counseling books; please don’t. They are not the place for Naghmeh to begin; no, no, no! Those books are for couples in normal, godly relationships who have hit a rough spot; possibly even infidelity, but who both want to work on honest reconciliation. What Naghmeh is going through is on a different level and she needs mature, godly counsel who understands the abuse she has lived through. More importantly, Saeed needs mature, godly counsel who understands his Islamic background, personality issues, beliefs about women, and addictions. He can choose to stop the wrong behavior, wrong beliefs, and wrong words. It’s up to him.

Here are some accusations toward Naghmeh I have read:

“Think about it for a minute – Saeed’s in jail, he’s getting severely beaten BUT he has enough time to abuse his wife during the brief phone calls or Skype sessions? Wow, he’s quite a guy – and I say that with sarcasm. Quite frankly, I find that scenario difficult to believe.”

Reply: Unfortunately, it is possible to verbally and emotionally abuse your spouse over the phone or via the internet/Skype.

“There are two sides to every story.”

Reply: If Naghmeh’s accusations are true there are not two sides to the story, but possibly five sides to the story (As was in my case):

  1. Naghmeh’s side of what she has lived through and understands.
  2. Naghmeh’s hind-sight that will take years to sort through because of the lasting effects of post-traumatic stress disorder from the spousal abuse and the trauma of the last three and a half years.
  3. Saeed’s version of what he is telling people.
  4. Saeed’s motivation for the abuse he acted out upon his wife, and the addictions about which only he knows the full truth.
  5. God’s truth since He understands His children better than we understand ourselves.

I want to make clear that when abuse is taking place the victim needs support, trust and understanding. Saying there are two sides to abuse is like saying I don’t believe you. If you were to physically see the man beating up the woman, breaking her arm and bruising her face, would you say, “Yes, but the abuser has a side to his story too and we need to hear why he is acting out this way?” NO! We would say, “Stop it.” We would call the police; we would want to protect her; would we not? Verbal and emotional abuse are equally wrong, but possibly make coping more difficult because no one can see, and often do not believe, the abuse under which the spouse is suffering.

Here is Naghmeh Abedini’s Facebook post from shortly after her husband was released from Iran:

Naghmeh letter part 1

Naghmeh letter part 2

“Where’s the proof?”

Reply: Here is a piece of evidence. Saeed plead guilty to a domestic abuse charge.

Abedini Court documentation

Click here for the direct link to the above website-court document.

Below you will find links to interviews and more articles.

Video: Full Interview with Naghmeh Abedini

A Final Word on Saeed Abedini

Saeed Abedini Rejects Wife Naghmeh Marriage Problems-Calls Her Hero

Saeed Abedini Speaks Out on Marital Woes 

Video: Pastor Saeed Abedini’s interview with Greta Van Susteren on Fox News

If the allegations against Saeed Abedini are true, and if he has a church ministry that ordained him a pastor; his ordination needs to be revoked until restoration is complete.

Finally, I’m grateful four American men who were wrongly imprisoned in Iran are now safely back in America.

My prayer is for the Abedini family to find rest for their weary souls.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11: 28-30

This is what the Lord says:

“Stand at the crossroads and look;
    ask for the ancient paths,
ask where the good way is, and walk in it,
    and you will find rest for your souls.” Jeremiah 6:16

Waffle House
Aside

How To Get Unstuck During The Christmas Holiday: Guest Post

How To Get Unstuck During The Christmas Holiday

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I cancelled Christmas.

Or at least that’s what I was accused of.

Several years ago, Christmas fell on a Sunday and I challenged our church family to spend Christmas visiting people they wouldn’t normally visit to give gifts to people they normally wouldn’t give gifts to.

Instead of coming to church that Sunday I challenged them to be the church. Jesus came to us in person. So what better way to capture the incarnation than to go to people in person.

I didn’t feel like I was canceling Christmas. I felt like I was promoting Christmas.

A week before Christmas, an 8-year-old Jesus follower in our church, named Jacob, went door to door in his neighborhood making himself available to do odd jobs. He took all the money he earned and all the money he had saved in his piggy bank and went to the mall to buy the nicest winter coat he could find.

The reason?

His buddy at school stood on the playground during recess in an old over-sized sweatshirt shivering because his parents couldn’t afford to buy him a coat.

So on Christmas morning, Jacob handed his buddy a $160 North Face Coat and said, “Jesus wants me to give this to you!”

He then generously reached into his pocket and pulled out $37 and said, “This is all the money I have left and I want you to use it to buy whatever your family needs.”

Across town a 6-year-old girl named Rebecca baked brownies and stood at the entrance to the library at the University of Kentucky on Christmas morning and gave a free brownie to any college student who walked by during finals week.

“Why are you giving away free brownies to total strangers?” a Muslim student stopped and asked.

Rebecca is sassy. So she put her hand on her hip, and with a “no duh” kind of tone said, “Because Jesus wants me to. That’s why!”

Little did she know that this Muslim student had been wrestling with what he believed and had been questioning the tenants of his faith for over 2 years. Dumbfounded by her emphatic response he said, “Can I come to church with you?”

“Sure you can!” she blurted out without consulting her parents.

So here’s my favorite part–instead of bringing this PhD student into the big room with all the big people on Sunday, she took him into her children’s ministry environment where he sat on the floor and heard a lesson about Jesus’ love for Zacchaeus.

After months of sitting and listening he took a stand for Jesus and was baptized. His family told him they would kill him if they ever saw him.

As scary as that threat sounds, he’s safe.

He’s safe because he’s saved.

And all of it happened because a little girl partnered with Betty Crocker and the Holy Spirit.

“The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.” (Galatians 5:6)

When we express the love of Jesus in simple ways, people express their need for him in beautiful ways.

I challenged our church family to go to every restaurant in town on Christmas and buy as many meals for strangers as possible and leave as many big tips as possible.

One high school student went to the bank and emptied out his savings account. He had been saving for a car. He went to the Waffle House and as he got to know his waitress, he felt like God was saying, “She needs help.”

So he ordered a $.75 cup of hot chocolate, then put $1,000 in an envelope, stuck the envelope between the salt and pepper shaker, went outside and hid in the bushes to watch her reaction. When she opened it, she put her hand over her face and started to cry. So overcome by emotion, she sat down in the booth as he ran back inside and hugged her.

He learned that she was a single mom trying to raise two teenagers by working three jobs. She and her children are now part of our church family and someday you’ll get to meet them because a high school student decided, “The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself in love.”

Fifteen minutes later at the same Waffle House, another family from our church walked in and ordered breakfast. Their waiter was a struggling college student who was behind on his bills and had just been told that he would not be able to return the following semester until he paid off his debt. To make matters more frustrating, his car had broken down and he couldn’t afford to pay for the repairs, which meant he couldn’t get to and from work.

So the family went to the very same bank the high school student had gone to and the parents emptied one of their accounts and they took a check back to the restaurant. They wrote him a note that said, “We believe in you and want you to be able to pursue your dream of being an artist, so this should cover your debt and the next two years of college. We’ve also enclosed the keys to our car…it’s the blue Volvo sitting next to the newspaper stand outside…Jesus gave his life up for us, so it seems the least we could do would be to give you our car.”

And they walked home that day!

Like the Muslim student and the struggling single mom, that young waiter didn’t need much convincing to give his life to Jesus because he had seen Jesus in that family.

“The only thing that counts,” Paul writes, “is faith expressing itself in love.”

The only thing that counts?

Yes, the only thing!

On a lighter note, I recently applied for a job at the Waffle House in hopes that someone would give me a blue Volvo!

On a serious note, don’t just celebrate the birth of Jesus this Christmas, be Jesus to the people who live near you by expressing his love for them in simple ways.

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Jon Weece is Lead Follower of Southland Christian Church in Central Kentucky, one of Outreach Magazine’s 100 fastest-growing churches, and author of Jesus Prom: Life Gets Fun When You Love People Like God Does. You can connect with him on Twitter @jonweece or jonweece.com.

Photo Credit: shil via Compfight cc

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Naghmeh Abedini’s Leaked Letter

 

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Have you seen the recent news regarding imprisoned pastor, Saeed Abedini? His wife, Naghmeh, revealed to her inner circle of friends abuse she has suffered from her husband. The letter was somehow leaked to the media.

Here are my thoughts on the matter:

If it is true; oh, please don’t think unkind thoughts of her. Abused people don’t always make sense to the outside world. I speak from experience as one who has been down the path.

Search my past posts:

Why I Chose a Toxic Husband; and He Me.

I Received a Reversal of Destiny, He Did Too.

I Am Known As a Liar.

My Destructive Marriage.

How To Love a Woman in a Destructive Marriage. 

Many abused Christian wives are simply doing the best they can at the time. Most of all, they are attempting to hear the Lord and be obedient to the calling He has placed on our lives.

And here is a thought you perhaps have not thought of: Sometimes God calls people to marry a person who is unfaithful and/or abusive.  If you think this goes against everything God stands for; think again. Read the book of Hosea for starters. God ordained for Hosea to marry Gomer; who was unloving and unfaithful. We are reminded through this story how undeserving we are of God’s always faithful, unconditional love. His love is constant and our salvation, eternity living in His presence, is guaranteed to those who place their faith in His One and Only Son, Jesus Christ.  God is Sovereign—although I admit I don’t always agree with or understand His ways or timing—I do trust Him.

Although abuse cannot be verified, it is possible that Naghmeh has survived and blossomed under her, supposed, oppressive relationship with her husband. She may have suffered in silence for many years while being viewed as nothing more than a man’s piece of property; without losing her sanity, integrity in Christ, her ability to raise her children, and obedience to follow God’s calling to advocate for those wrongly imprisoned and for the persecuted church.  She may have needlessly, in some regards, and obediently in others, sacrificially given of herself.

I speak from experience when I tell you that it can be nearly impossible to reconcile in your heart and mind a public man who boldly teaches the word of God and prays, with the private man who secretly treats his wife in the home with ridicule, resentment, the silent treatment, physical, emotional, psychological, and sexual abuse due to his addiction to pornography.

Naghmeh may be on her way to healing, if it is all true, while still not seeing Saeed’s sin in full. I remember those days all too well. When I was divorcing my abusive husband years ago, I had two different attorneys tell me I was still protecting my husband instead of revealing his problems. I was told I was the text book example of an abused wife and that I would need extensive counseling to help me find my way through the fog. They were right! I pray the Christian community, and well known Christian counselors, make themselves available to Naghmeh and her children for ongoing therapy, Bible study and prayer.

Naghmeh talks of Saeed’s love and passion for Jesus, which I believe, but if he abuses his wife; even though his salvation is secure, Saeed is out of fellowship with God and his prayers are not being heard. (John 9:31, Proverbs 28:9, Psalm 66:18, Isaiah 59:2, James 4:3, Galatians 5:22-23) And as for Saeed being, “An amazing dad who pours spiritual truths into his children’s lives;” the bigger truth is perhaps, if he is indeed abusive, that proclaiming scriptural truths at the same time as abusing your wife has huge, profound ramifications on your children’s perception of God and their ability to follow after Him. And if it is true, for her children’s sake, I hope a counselor is able to teach her how to help her children understand that daddy’s abusive behavior is not normal, healthy, or acceptable to God.  Should Saeed be freed from prison; and healing, forgiveness, and reconciliation be found they will know how to set healthy boundaries and protect their heart, soul, mind and strength if any generational abusive tendencies resurface.

Naghmeh showed her vulnerability to her closest friends, but I’m glad she chose it none the less. Women aren’t always believed when they finally find the courage to expose their abusive husband. Sometimes women are accused of being vain, other times people turn away in disgust, or think the wife is looking for sympathy or fame. Naghmeh wrote to friends whom she believed would provide safety and hope for healing and peace. Sharing her secret pain has most likely been the greatest sacrifice of her personal feelings. If she did so out of obedience to the Lord; she can trust it is God working out His plan for her family’s life.

My family has been praying for Pastor Saeed’s release from prison for three years; as well as, for God’s heart and will to be done in this situation. We will continue to pray the later while praying for Naghmeh and her children’s healing, and we will pray for Pastor Saeeds restoration, healing and freedom from injustices.

Here are the original articles:

Naghmeh Abedini Claims Abuse, Halts Public Support for Imprisoned Husband Saeed

Citing abuse, wife of U.S. pastor held in Iran says she’ll stop public campaigning

The Christian Way to Deal With Sin in the Camp

Naghmeh Abedini regrets emails of marital woe

The below letter is from Naghmeh Abedini’s personal but public Facebook page published yesterday, December 7, 2015:

“To my dearest friends,

After a month of resting and healing and sitting at the feet of Jesus, today I felt led to share.

Three years ago, when Saeed was put in the Iranian prison for his faith, the Lord called me to get up and not only advocate for Saeed, but also to share the Gospel message and to advocate for the persecuted church. I was freed from so much fear and it was a step of faith for me to get up and move. When I did obey, I could see that I could DO ALL THINGS THROUGH CHRIST WHO STRENGTHENS ME (Philippians 4:13) That by Grace of God I could get on airplanes. That by God’s Grace I could speak in front of heads of governments, parliaments, the congress, thousands of people and our own president and I was able to open my mouth through the Grace of God and represent Christ and to share Christ with so many. It was overwhelming seeing how Jesus had become my STRENGTH through my utter WEAKNESS.

A month ago, the Lord asked me to stop and sit. It took another step of faith to stop everything and just sit at the feet of Jesus and to hear from Him. It was freeing to see that by Grace of God none of the fame and attention or praises of men had gotten to me and that I could drop everything the moment my Savior told me to drop it and to go back to being a single mom in Boise, Idaho. It was freeing to let go of the FALSE SENSE of SECURITY that money was bringing into my life (through speaking engagements) and to know that the only thing that all I desperately needed was Jesus. That my true security rests in Jesus. That Jesus is my day to day provider.

I had to turn off every voice including my own and only care about what Jesus was saying to me. It was hard. With the news that came out recently (an email I had sent to prayer partners was leaked to media), stones were being thrown at me left and right and many religious leaders who saw me wounded and bleeding passed on by afraid to touch me or this whole mess/situation. It was hard, but Jesus kept telling me to be silent and to look to Him.

The truth is that I still love my husband more than ever and my advocacy for him has taken a new form of interceding on my knees. The truth is I can not deny Saeed’s love and passion for Jesus and that he continues to suffer in the Iranian prison because of his genuine love for Jesus and his refusal to deny Him. I can not deny the amazing dad he has been to our kids and the spiritual truths he poured into their life until the moment he was arrested. But at the same time I can not deny the very dark parts of our marriage and serious issues Saeed continues to struggle with.

So I open myself up once again and become real and raw in asking you to join me in praying for Saeed. This time not only for his physical chains, but the spiritual chains that have bound him for so many years. Those chains that have stuck to him from the culture he was raised in (Middle East) and from his former religion (Islam). I believe that God will use Saeed’s imprisonment to break Saeed of these chains and to refine him and use him as a vessel for the work that He has prepared for him.

I am not sure how often I will be providing updates, but I will share as the Lord leads. Starting January 5, I am going to start another 21 days of prayer and fasting. It will be a time of drawing closer to the Lord and sharing what He lays on my heart. I hope they will be a source of blessing and encouragement to you as well.

I praise God for all of the ups and downs, excitements and disappointments, and for the many pains and tears. They have been good for me. They are a great tool to refine us and keep our eyes on Jesus.

With much Love in Jesus

Naghmeh Abedini”

Hospitality Bar Autumn
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Holiday Hospitality Bar

Hospitality Bar Autumn

“Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.” Romans 12:13

It’s the perfect time of year to gather supplies and prepare a hospitality bar for your Thanksgiving and Christmas guests.

Here is how I made mine…

Fall decor on William Sonoma 3 tier tray

Fall decor on William Sonoma 3 tier tray

Having boys in the house necessitated adding a non-girly item. When my boys have friends over during warm weather we keep iced tea and lemonade on the bar but boys being boys, (translation = always hungry) we needed a quick easy snack they can grab and prepare to take care of their munchies.

I looked at the hospitality bar and saw the perfect slot for microwave popcorn, as well as, a place to add popcorn salts and disposable bags. (Pictures and details below.)

Top tier Fall decor

Top tier – Fall decor

Middle tier -Fall decor

Middle tier -Fall decor

Bottom tier - Fall decor

Bottom tier – Fall decor

I used gourds I grew in my garden, Burr Oak acorns (I have a love affair with Burr Oak acorns; they are huge, beautiful and unique), leaf trays and pumpkin/cornucopia creamers I found at Target a few years ago. I also used some silk greenery and a ceramic Blue Bird.

Top view of 3 tier William Sonoma tray

Top view of 3 tier William Sonoma tray

They say necessity is the mother of invention. My need to save time while preparing for a Mother/Daughter Bible study in my home led to this organized Hospitality Bar.  This saved me an easy hour of pulling all the drinks, condiments and mugs out of the cupboards and then organizing them into a centralized location. Add to that my incessant need to have seasonal or holiday decorations placed at this centralized location and—well—no matter how I tried not to worry myself about having everything just right; the hostess in me had no peace until everything looked pretty and was fully functional.

I did not care so much that my house was clean and picked up perfectly for other guests but Bible study was different. I desired for participants of the study to feel at home, relaxed and safe to share their needs and their hearts. I wanted them to feel pampered by me but more importantly, by their God who is crazy-in-love with them. I needed my attention off of the refreshment details so I could welcome, listen and interact with the mothers and daughters as we discussed and studied God’s word.

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Between homeschooling and extra-curricular activities I was finding it difficult to fully prepare for leading our study, cleaning the house and prepping the kitchen for refreshments. Thus I decided a central location was essential for storing all the refreshment items. Function was all I had in mind.

I began searching for cabinets that would match or coordinate with our current kitchen but could not find an equivalent or anything to bring together the old with the new while remaining within my budget.

Then one day while pulling in our driveway, a neighbor’s garage door was up and to my surprise I saw cabinets sitting against the wall of their garage that looked just like our cabinets. I did a double take. No. Yes. No doubt, they were a perfect match. Hmm?

A few weeks later I saw this neighbor and told them about my search for matching cabinets to install in our kitchen and my dilemma because the particular line of cabinetry was no longer available. I mentioned that I saw cabinets in their garage that looked like a perfect match and asked, “Do you have plans for those or are you interested in selling them to me for (a disclosed price)?”

Our neighbor was willing to sell them to me for the disclosed price and I found out the reason they were an exact match was because they  were a hutch that came out of our house.  We bought a foreclosed home and during the time of the foreclosure; friends, relatives and neighbors were allowed by the previous owners to take whatever they wanted out of the unlocked house. This explained why some appliances, some cabinets and all closet hardware were missing from the house.

Next, I planned how to use the hutch then took it apart piece by piece and gave all of it a good scrubbing.  2 X 4 lumber was used to build a frame behind the cabinets so I could acquire more depth for a deeper countertop.  I also pulled the shorter center cabinets out front more to add dimension to the unit. Bead board was added to the sides for decorative purposes and to hide the false depth. Since these are upper cabinets being used on the floor I added a one inch toe kick at the bottom to keep the doors from scraping the floor. I wanted to place feet underneath the cabinets but that would have required moving an outlet, changing the windowsill and making the countertop out of reach for young children. So, no pretty decorative feet but it overflows in functionality.

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I no longer have to prepare for guests’ arrivals. Relatives and friends know where to go for a drink when they come to my house. Below:  Ice water and a carafe of hot water. I also keep hot water in the tea kettle on the stove and in the coffee pot. This allows three separate areas for a large group to fill their mugs.

DSCN2019DSCN2035Left: I keep this 3-tier tray from William-Sonoma on the bar for seasonal and holiday decorations. And I always have a candle ready to burn. A guest will rarely come to my house without finding scrumptious looking chocolate on display. The only problem is that the chocolate usually isn’t real and I have offended a dear friend, and fellow chocoholic, on multiple occasions with my inedible treats.DSCN2037

If budget and space do not allow for a hospitality bar in your home; you could use a portion of your countertop, a buffet, a re-purposed dresser or a shelving unit to accomplish the same objective.

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Right: This is a bamboo utensil holder turned sideways for holding tea bags and coffee singles.

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Below: Flavorings and droppers for mixing flavors into drinks (3-4 drops does the job). Sprinkles – top cocoa with whipped cream and sprinkles or Cappuccino Accent Toppings; Cinnamon, Sweet Nutmeg, Vanilla, Chocolate.

I buy my Stash teas and bottled flavorings at the Old Towne Spice Shop, Main Street, St. Charles, MO. http://www.oldtownspices.com/ The Cappuccino Accent Toppings are from Main Street MarketPlace, St. Charles, MO. http://www.mainstreetmarketplace.com/

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Right: Drinking straws. Small shelves: Sugar and sweeteners on top. Extra coasters on bottom. Hot Cocoa Mix and Hot Cider Mixes. (The compartments are a desk caddy organizer.)

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Below:  Flavorings and droppers. Sprinkles and Cappuccino Accent Toppings. Single serve coffee. Small shelves: Creamers on top. Napkins in bottom. Stir straws on right.

Popcorn salts/toppings

Popcorn salts/toppings

Above: I added microwave popcorn, flavored popcorn salts and disposable popcorn bags to the bar. The microwave popcorn is next to the apple ciders and cocoa packets; to the left of the red and white striped popcorn bags. Popcorn salts are in located with the popcorn isle and come in a variety of flavors. A word of caution about the popcorn salts; the Jalapeno Cheddar and the Buffalo Wing make us choke. It has nothing to do with the heat because we are huge fans of spice, but it tends to go down the airway and asphyxiate us—every single time. We now avoid these seasonings.

Popcorn bags

Popcorn bags

Left: The popcorn bags are from Hobby Lobby’s party supply department. I used a 40% off coupon so the cost for 25 bags is $1.93. SAMS Club sells a box of 500 popcorn bags for under $7.00.

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Above and Right: Extra tea supplies, extra sugar, Mullin spices for cider, pink and regular lemonade, drink pitcher.

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Left: Oregon Chai Tea Latte (Wal-Mart), Peppermint Hot Chocolate & Barra Mexican Chocolate (both need mixed into hot milk), Cappuccino Double Mocha (Aldi’s), Extra coffee singles, Cocoa, Diet-Sugar Free Swiss Miss Cocoa, French Vanilla Cappuccino (SAMS)

DSCN2028 - Copy Right: Mugs/Cups

Below: To go/travel cups with lids (collected from Hotel stays), Hot water carafe, cold water carafe.

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DSCN2030Above right: Mexican Lava Rock Molcajete with coffee beans. Sometimes used for decoration but my favorite way to use it is for homemade Guacamole.

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Left: Windsill decorations.

 

I hope you have fun  inventing your own hospitality bar for the holiday season.

~Cheers!

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Toxic Tuesday: Covert or Overt Narcissist

 

Below is an easy to read chart that explains some of the differences between covert and overt narcissists. This is a quick highlight. The lines can be blurry and what are supposed to be differences can occasionally overlap. The biggest difference is the covert has lower self-esteem; although most people will never see it unless they live with the person. Then again the person who lives with the covert may see a gross amount of arrogance, along with the low self-esteem, although they come across as personable and humble to their outside audience. The overt shows more arrogance in any setting. Both covert and overt can be charismatic personalities who seek to control the people closest to them; along with those in their work environment.

If you think along the lines of cult leaders and world dictators you can begin a list of Who’s Who Among Narcissistic Personality Disorder. In my opinion we currently have narcissists in the highest level of office in more than one major world power. Another likely narcissist is running for president and has built much of his empire preying on the poor.

Narcissists will say what they think you want to hear, but make no mistake, they don’t always mean what they say. Their goal is to manipulate and control. Power goes to their head and the evil in their heart can spiral out of control. Again, this is why narcissists make great but terrible cult leaders, totalitarian dictators, and brutal religious zealots.

I’ll be honest and tell you that every time I sit down and write about the subject of narcissistic personality disorder I become emotionally and physically exhausted. Plus, attempting to keep the description brief is difficult.

That’s what having a narcissist in your background will do to you.

If you question the existence of a narcissist in your life further research will be beneficial and enlisting professional help essential.

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Clinical Features 

Arrogant/Overt . . . Shy/Covert Narcissism

Arrogant/Overt Shy/Covert
  Self-Concept Grandiosity;    preoccupation with fantasies of outstanding success; undue sense of uniqueness; feelings of entitlement; seeming self-sufficiency Inferiority; morose self-doubts; marked propensity toward feeling ashamed; fragility; relentless search for glory and power; marked sensitivity to criticism and realistic setbacks
 Interpersonal 
  Relationships
Numerous but shallow relationships; intense need for tribute from others; scorn for others, often masked by pseudo-humility; lack of empathy; inability to genuinely participate in group activities; valuing of children over spouse in family life Inability to genuinely depend on others and trust them; chronic envy of others talents, possessions, and capacity for deep object relations; lack of regard for generational boundaries; disregard for others time; refusal to answer letters
  Social 
  Adaptation
Socially charming; often successful; consistent hard work done mainly to seek admiration (pseudo- sublimation); intense ambition; preoccupation with appearances Nagging aimlessness; shallow vocational commitment; dilettante-like attitude; multiple but superficial interests; chronic boredom; aesthetic taste often ill-informed and imitative
  Ethics, 
  Standards, 
  and
  Ideals
Caricatured modesty; pretended contempt for money in real life; idiosyncratically and unevenly moral; apparent enthusiasm for sociopolitical affairs

 

 Readiness to shift values to gain favor; pathological lying; materialistic lifestyle; delinquent tendencies; inordinate ethnic and moral relativism; irreverence toward authority
  Love 
  and 
  Sexuality
Marital instability; cold and greedy seductiveness; extramarital affairs and promiscuity; uninhibited sexual life Inability to remain in love; impaired capacity for viewing the romantic partner as a separate individual with his or her own interests, rights, and values; inability to genuinely comprehend the incest taboo; occasional sexual perversions
  Cognitive 
  Style
Impressively knowledgeable; decisive and opinionated; often strikingly articulate; egocentric perception of reality; love of language; fondness for shortcuts to acquisition of knowledge Knowledge often limited to trivia (headline intelligence); forgetful of details, especially names; impaired in the capacity for learning new skills; tendency to change meanings of reality when facing a threat to self-esteem; language and speaking used for regulating self-esteem

NOTE:  This chart originally appeared in Akhtar, S. J. (1989). Narcissistic personality disorder: Descriptive features and differential diagnosis. Psychiatric Clinics of North America, 12, pp. 505-530.

 

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Video

10 Simple Chocolate Candy Recipes

Chocolate Almond Bark Recipes

GiveMe Chocolate Recipes

This is a recipe post from the Holiday season two years ago before I stopped eating most chocolate. I now use raw chocolate in my recipes along with raw honey. But for those of you who eat any and all chocolate; these recipes will make your taste buds happy!

Maybe you heard the below rumors two years ago. Fortunately the chocolate price increase was temporary and prices are back to normal.

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I have heard about child labor and even slavery being used for cocoa harvesting. Read more about it at Slavery in the Chocolate Industry. I am thankful for journalists exposing the ugly truth. Hopefully shining light on the truth will force the industry to stop the practice of using children and slaves for profit. I will gladly pay more for my chocolate if it means freedom for people whose lives have value because they are created by God; and loved and precious in His sight.

Now add cocoa plantation owner’s concerns regarding low rainfall expected in their regions in the coming months. Cocoa grows best in climates with high rainfall so a country known for high cocoa production not receiving enough rain will affect the country’s cocoa harvest; meaning a shortage of beans. A shortage of beans could mean a drastic price increase to the chocolate foundries. The chocolate manufacturer will then pass the increase on to us, the consumers. The cost of cocoa butter has risen by 70% in the last twelve months with retail prices increasing by only 7%. The question is how long companies can wait before passing the higher cost on to the consumer; especially dark chocolate lovers. Me!

If you travel the World Wide Web or partake in social networking on Pinterest you have likely read about preppers; people who take precautionary measures to be prepared for catastrophic events. By gathering in advance, supplies and necessities, preppers have a plan to help them survive potential disasters.

Well, as an admitted chocoholic I’ll tell you—I’m taking no chance of chocolate becoming too expensive for me to afford it. Long term or short-term. I am prepared. I am responsible for my children—I must think of my boys. They need chocolate too. If tart and sour candies are ever in jeopardy I will make a run on the store for Riley a survival rationing of Sweet Tarts, Sour Patch Kids and Skittles, but for now her taste buds are safe.

Upon hearing the news of expected price increases and possibly only the wealthy being able to afford chocolate in the near future, I drove straight to Aldi’s where I purchased my affordable favorite Choceur chocolate candy bars; milk chocolate, rich almond chocolate, dark chocolate, dark hazelnut chocolate and Moser Roth Privat Chocolatiers Toffee Crunch. I’m not telling how many but it could last a long time if it absolutely had to. I will fess up to buying a case of chocolate almond bark. Yes, a case. This is in addition to the packages already on hand for my Thanksgiving and Christmas candy making.  A case is only twelve packages after all and it has a longer shelf life than the expiration date suggests.

Chocolate almond bark goes a long way for candy making. When mixed with an array of diverse ingredients you have the ability to produce various candy bar type treats. If you have never tried using almond bark for your holiday baking I will pass on my favorite recipes. I am the queen of quick quantity so you will find these recipes easy to make, faster than baking cookies, and they yield a high number of bite size goodies. I forgot to mention another high point of almond bark; it is inexpensive compared to using chocolate chips for candy making.

I relish thinking half-heartedly of myself as being the Proverbs 31 woman. Here is my spin on it. Proverbs 31:13-15 & 28: Carolyn selects milk chocolate, dark chocolate and almond bark; and works with eager hands. She is like a merchant van bringing her chocolate from Aldi’s. She stays up while it is still the middle of the night; she provides chocolate to her family; but mainly to herself; followed by A.J., Colson and Riley.  Her children arise asking for chocolate and call her tired; but blessed.

The inspired word of Proverbs 31:13-15 & 28 reads:

“She selects wool and flax
and works with eager hands.
 She is like the merchant ships,
bringing her food from afar.
 She gets up while it is still night;
she provides food for her family

Her children arise and call her blessed;”

I am prepar-r-r-ed! My family shall not run out of chocolate candy options any time soon.

NEEDED SUPPLIES:

Baking with almond bark requires a double boiler. If you do not own a double boiler use two pots of varying sizes or a pot and a metal or glass bowl.

Double Boiler Double Boiler with 2 saucepans Double Boiler using a pot and bowl

A 1 – 1 ½ quart saucepan (which technically is a pot) works beautifully because the chocolate melts deep enough to easily submerge the candy.

If you are mixing ingredients into the pot you will need a 2 ½ quart saucepan (pot) for the almond bark and a larger pot for holding the water. A metal or glass bowl could also be placed on top of the water pot. The technique requires water in the larger bottom pot (approx. 1/3 full of water) with the smaller pot resting on top, You will also need wax or parchment paper and large cookie sheets or trays.

Remove almond bark from package and melt it in a double boiler. (If your packages are a year or two old—beware of crumbling plastic packaging.)

DO NOT ALLOW WATER TO BOIL UP INTO TOP PAN OF CHOCOLATE. DO NOT ADD ANY OTHER INGREDIENT TO ALMOND BARK FOR THINNING PURPOSES. It will become gritty and dry; ruining your candy.

Line cookies sheets and large trays with Wax or Parchment Paper for easy removal of candy & easy clean-up.

When I have removed a batch of candy from the wax paper I turn the paper over and use the other side for the next batch.

Place finished goodies in airtight containers or freezer bags.

All of these candies freeze perfectly; so if do all of your baking before Thanksgiving it will last through the New Year’s celebrations.

I also make the candies in small pieces, 1-2 bites each. This way when I give a tray of cookies, candies and breads for teacher gifts, neighbor gifts and appreciation gifts; the receiver can sample everything without being overwhelmed with sugar. I find this works well for my own holiday trays too since we eat and snack all day long. We can sample everything without grossly overeating to the point of nausea.

All of these recipes may be created with chocolate or vanilla almond bark. I do not consider vanilla bark or white chocolate true chocolate. I only bake with it to cater to non-chocolate lovers and to add color to the cookie/candy trays.

Baking sprinkles, glitters, ground nuts or shaved chocolate may be added to the top of freshly dipped wet chocolates for decoration.

 Chocolate Covered Peanuts(or any nut)

chocolate covered peanuts

Use at least a 2 ½ qt. saucepan/bowl for melting the bark

-1 package Chocolate Almond Bark – melted

-32 ounces Party peanuts or Spanish peanuts stirred into melted chocolate.

You can cook raw peanuts (found in the produce department of the store) in the microwave by cooking 6 minutes; stirring every 2 minutes. If you begin to smell burning peanuts they are beginning to overcook and may be removed from the microwave. They are ready to use in a recipe. Peanuts make my favorite chocolate nut clusters!

Spoon small clusters onto Wax paper lined trays. Keep clusters close together but not touching. Place trays in fridge or freezer for quick set time. When set, peel clusters off of paper and place in airtight containers.

Yields: about 5 dozen small clusters

Chocolate Covered PretzelsKids love these and they are ridiculously easy to make.

Chocolate covered pretzels

-1 package Chocolate or Vanilla Almond Bark – melted

-1 bag Pretzel Twists

Use a fork to fully dip pretzels in melted almond bark. Tap fork on side of pan to remove excess chocolate. Use an extra fork, knife or candy tong to push pretzel off of dipping fork.

Keep pretzels close together on wax paper but not touching. Place trays in fridge or freezer for quick set time. When set, peel pretzels off of paper and place in airtight containers.

Chocolate Almond Bark Cookies

Chocolate Almond Bark

Use at least a 2 ½ qt. saucepan/bowl for melting the bark

-1 package Chocolate Almond Bark – melted

-1 ½ cup Peanut Butter – stirred in.

-3 cups Marshmallows – stirred in.

-4 cups Rice Crispies – stirred in.

Spoon small amounts onto Wax paper lined trays using an extra fork, knife or candy tong to push pretzel off of dipping fork.

Keep clusters close together but not touching. Place trays in fridge or freezer for quick set time. When set, peel clusters off of paper and place in airtight containers.

Yields: about 5 dozen cookies

 Oreo Truffles

(I always double the below recipe and use: 2 packages cookies,  2-8 oz. cream cheeses & 1 pkg. almond bark.

oreo truffles

-1 package Oreos, Mint Oreos, or Great Value from Walmart.  ALDI’S brand does NOT work – Place one package of cookies at a time in blender, then add to the cream cheese which has been softened in the microwave.

After mixing Oreos and cream cheese together, cover with plastic wrap & place in fridge or freezer until firm.

-½ package melted Chocolate Almond Bark

Roll mixture into small (3/4 -1 inchI) bite size balls, place onto Wax paper lined trays.

predipped oreo truffles

Return to fridge or freezer to re-firm before dipping.

Dip with a toothpick, candy pick or nut pick to completely cover balls in melted chocolate almond bark. Tap toothpick on side of pan to remove excess chocolate; use an toothpick to push pretzel off of dipping fork.

Yields: 3 dozen

Keep balls close together but not touching. Place trays in fridge or freezer for quick set time. When set, peel truffles off of paper and place in airtight containers..

Turtle Truffles

turtle truffle

-8 ounces Cream Cheese softened

-7 oz. which equals ½ bag of Kraft caramels. Unwrap and place in microwaveable bowl with 1 Tbsp. water. Cook 1 minute, stir, and repeat at 1 minute intervals until completely melted.

-8 ounces chopped pecans

Mix softened cream cheese, melted caramel and chopped pecans.

Cover with plastic wrap and place mixture in fridge or freezer until firm.

Melt 1 package Chocolate Almond Bark

Roll mixture into ¾” – 1” small bite size balls, place onto Wax paper lined trays. Melt ½ pkg. Choc. Almond bark.

Return to fridge or freezer to re-firm before dipping.

Use a fork to dip balls in melted chocolate almond bark; covering all sides. Tap fork on side of pan to remove excess chocolate. Use a second fork to slide the truffle onto the pan/tray.

Yields: 30

Keep balls close together but not touching. Place trays in fridge or freezer for quick set time. When set, peel truffles off of paper and place in airtight containers.

Ritz Cookies So simple—so easy!

Chocolate Ritz cookies

-1 package Chocolate Almond Bark – melted

-1 box, 4 sleeves, Ritz or store brand crackers

-Peanut butter spread to desired thickness on one cracker. Place a second cracker on top of peanut butter to create a sandwich.

Ritz cracker spread with peanut butter

Use a fork to completely dip crackers in melted chocolate almond bark. Tap fork on side of pan to remove excess chocolate. Use a second fork to slide the cookie onto the pan/tray.

Keep crackers close together but not touching. Place trays in fridge or freezer for quick set time. When set, peel cookies off of paper and place in airtight containers.

Yields: just under 4 dozen

Mint Bark

Mint Bark

WHENEVER YOU HAVE LEFT OVER ALMOND BARK in the bottom of a pan ADD FLAVORING SUCH AS MINT, PEPPERMINT OR ORANGE, 3 DROPS AT A TIME UNTIL YOU APPROVE OF THE FLAVOR; STIR. POUR ONTO WAX PAPER LINED PAN & TAP PAN UNTIL MIXTURE IS SMOOTH or spread with a spatula. Place trays in fridge or freezer for quick set time. When hardened, peel BARK off of paper, break into small pieces and place in airtight containers.

Peppermint Bark

Peppermint Bark

-½ package White Almond Bark – melted

-Peppermint  extract, 1 tsp. to begin; stir, and add more if desired.

-1 box of peppermint Candy canes, crushed, I pulse them in a blender or food processor

Mix candy canes in for desired thickness.

POUR ONTO WAX PAPER LINED PAN & TAP PAN UNTIL MIXTURE IS SMOOTH, or use a spatula. Place trays in fridge freezer for quick set time. When hardened, peel BARK off of paper, break into bite size pieces and place in airtight containers.

This recipe can be changed using lemon extract and crushed Lemon Drops candy.

Yields: 4 dozen small pieces

 

Millionaire Bites

Millionaire Bites

-½  package Chocolate Almond Bark – melted

-1 14 oz. package Kraft caramels unwrapped. Place in a microwavable bowl and add 3 Tbsp. water. Melt 1 minute at a time; stirring after each minute until melted.

-1 ½ cups ground pecans – use a blender of food processor

-1 ½ cups Rice Crispies

Yields: 3 about 3 dozen

Line two large pans or trays with wax paper; GREASE the paper (or you will be sorry – guess how I know?)

Combine melted caramel, pecans and cereal (in this order). Drop small teaspoonfuls onto greased pans. Place in fridge or freezer for quick set time.

Line two more pans/trays with wax paper. The greased wax paper will not be reusable.

When the candy is set, dip it in the almond bark on all sides with a fork; tap fork on the side of the pot allowing excess to drip back in the pot. Use a second fork to slide the cookie onto the pan/tray. Keep candies close together but not touching. Place  trays in fridge or freezer for quick set time. When set, pop candies off of paper and place in airtight containers.

Peppermint Patties

Peppermint patties

-½ package chocolate almond bark – melted

-¾ cup sweetened condensed milk

-1 ½ teaspoons pure peppermint extract –imitation does not taste good; mint extract could be substituted

-4 cups confectioners (powder) sugar

In a large mixing bowl, combine condensed milk and peppermint extract. Beat in enough confectioners’ sugar, a little at a time, to form a stiff dough that is no longer sticky. Form into 1/2 inch balls, then place on waxed paper. Grease or butter the bottom of a flat glass. Press the glass on the dough to form small thin patties.  Let patties dry at room temperature one hour, turning once at a half hour.

IMG_0026

Using a fork, a meat fork may be necessary depending on the size of the patties, dip the patties, one at a time, into the melted chocolate. . Tap fork on side of pan to remove excess chocolate. Use a second fork to slide the patties onto the pan/tray lined with wax paper. Keep patties close together but not touching. Place trays in fridge or freezer for quick set time. When set, peel patties off of paper and place in airtight containers.

Yields: about 3 dozen

~Enjoy

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