Encouragement Makes A Difference in Marriage

Thought: How embarrassing! We were bowling with friends and our families. I was showing off dance moves because I was hitting spares and strikes. On my tenth frame, I was tied in first place and was certain I was going to win. As I took control of my steps and approached the foul line to release my ball, I miss stepped and my entire body falls forward encroaching inside the lane. Game Over! Read more

When Anger Separates Family Members

Here’s How to Reconnect

Do you have a family member you no longer see or talk to? It could be a brother, sister, grown child, cousin, parent, in-law, aunt or uncle. Maybe it was something he/she said or something you did, but no matter the cause, there is a sense of loss.  Read more

Maturity, Go the Extra Mile?

Scripture: Read Ephesians 5: 25-30 …a sacrificial, purifying, and steadfast love.

 Thought: Who’s the More Mature One in Your Marriage? Going the extra mile isn’t always easy. It might look reasonable and mature. But our flesh doesn’t always enjoy doing reasonable mature things. To get better in this area, it’s important to recognize:

  1. I am not the only one going the extra mile. Sometimes couples can take on a “victim attitude”. They recognize their individual sacrifices but completely fail to see where the other person continually steps up. For example in our marriage, I am the planner. It’s easy to get lost in my little details and all the things “I make happen”…and fail to see everything my husband does (especially because he carries his burdens and sacrifices with much more maturity and self-respect). I have realized it comes down to caring differently, not caring less.
  1. What is important to me? Strong couples dream Still the person with more clarity and passion in one area will sometimes need to step out of the boat first. I used to think that just because we share a common dream meant we have to devote the same amount of time and passion to get the dream accomplished. But that’s not always the case. Right now my husband has more free time than I do. I am able to devote more time to the things we need. In the past, I’d make a lot of noise (mostly mental) about his seeming absence and “day dreaming.” But as I’ve learned to listen to his heart, I’ve come to appreciate the proficiency of teamwork, leaning shoulder 2 shoulder and collaborating. Being a good team player means establishing what we care about and then moving on it… even if I am the first one.
  1. We are gifted differently. Sometimes it’s not that one spouse doesn’t want to do something or that they wouldn’t want to be a certain way. It’s just they are wired differently.What the other spouse likes will never be a natural fit for them. Our temperaments are different. God has a plan for your life that involves using your marriage partner to bring your life into balance and pull you towards the center to make you more like Jesus.  We must learn to be grateful for our spouses, just as they are and be willing to extend the same grace we ourselves received.

Action: Marriage is like a mirror, a reflection of the person we truly are. Not the person we wish we could be. Going the extra mile is all about the character of the person walking that mile. Someone said that “prayer changes things.” I know it changes me, because it’s not about me, it’s about the best interest of my spouse. Take the first step and do a duty for your spouse wash or fuel the car, excuse her from grocery shopping, allow him/her to sleep in, start the dream project and don’t mention it. Instead of playing a victim or raising a conflict, talk to Our Father.

Prayer: Dear God, help me to enjoy life with my spouse and submit to each other with sacrificial, purifying, and steadfast love. Grant me courage each day to invest in my marriage, accept the things I cannot change, and wisdom to hear my spouse’s heart. Change me God, help me put you and others first before I put my desires ahead of anything or anyone. In Jesus Name I pray, Amen.

What Could Ever Come Between Us?

Scripture:  What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Just as it is written,“For Your sake we are being put to death all day long; We were considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.             Romans 8:31-39

Thought: Saturday, I awoke to my husband sitting in the living room crying. His hands covered his face as the tears so freely flowed with hopelessness. My heart ached with compassion as I sat next to him, not knowing why he was hurting with the deepest pit of despair. I tried to comfort him with physical touch as he grieved. After five minutes of uncontrollable weeping, he explained the wrath and judgment his spirit recoiled with thoughts of disappointments, failures, and bitterness towards his weakness and our world of hatred, condemnation, and competition.

During our marriage preparation, we discussed the mountains and valleys of married life we would encounter but we promised to take each other for better or for worse, for richer or for poor, in sickness and in health until death do us apart. I knew as his wife, his burdens were my burdens. What could I say to support him? I thought, “Nothing could ever come between us.”

Looking at the cross hanging on our wall with the quotation “Amazing Grace, How Sweet the Sound”, I was reminded that we are not of this world. (John 17:13-20) I imagined what Jesus felt when he prayed in Gethsemane when He was despaired and knew His time had come when He would be betrayed into the hands of sinners. He asked His disciples to stay alert and pray for him, but they fell asleep, their spirit was willing but their body was weak. (Matthew 26: 41) In the end was triumph and Our Father’s intent was to give us new life, hope and joy.

As a wife called to support my husband, I prayed and asked Jesus to lighten our burden. What should I say Lord? Please lead me, please walk beside me and lift this heavy burden from my husband. Then he gave me a verse that was engraved upon my heart, Proverbs 3: 5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”

Action: Are you pulling against the yoke of Jesus? Or are you following His lead? Being yoked to Jesus we can find rest and peace. Can you remember a time that you surrendered to your spouse and stood beside them to support and hold them up in a time of despair? Share it tonight, and watch how you will fall in love deeper as you lean together and humbly trust the lead of Our Lord.

Prayer: Lord, I will ask, seek and knock to let you be in control of my marriage. I want you to lead us in good times and in bad, my spirit is willing, but my body is week. Show me the areas that I need to repent, give me strength to surrender, encourage and support  my husband/wife. Please give me the wisdom of being yoked to you and bind our marriage together in unity. I believe in you God for great things. In Jesus name I pray with thanksgiving. Amen

Are You Protecting Your Marriage?

Scripture: “The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it?” Jeremiah 17:9 AND
“Watch over your heart with all diligence, For from it flow the springs of life.” Proverbs 4:23

Thought: I will never forget when, many years ago, I traveled once a month to market the business I was working for. I would leave my husband for a week, and be on the road, away from home, while meeting new people, attending business meetings and dinner engagements with prospective buyers. There were ALWAYS temptations because of the worldly pressure, wealth and fame. Adultery is not normal in my world and unacceptable in my marriage. Nevertheless, my boss invited me to participate in deceit. I was told, I could” move to “the top of the company, if I slept my way to the top.” No one would know the truth but the man, God and myself.

When we are loyal, we reflect our faithfulness to God. When we are disloyal, we reflect the betrayal of Satan. We live in a fallen world—one that is increasingly indifferent to sexual sin. If we want to live and lead with intention, we can’t be naive. I boldly, yet simply with confidence replied, “If I have to sleep my way to the top and not earn it by my own merit, than I don’t need to be at the top with this company.” We must recognize the temptation adultery poses and protect ourselves accordingly. Nothing will destroy our influence and gifts faster than an affair.

My husband and I have policies in place to avoid danger and to protect our marriage:
 Pray together. We are invested in the relationship we have and we pray together before we leave the house. If you want your marriage to grow and flourish, you must invest in it. This means investing time—dreaming, laughing, listening, praying and crying together.
 Using old-fashioned, common sense. We set boundaries; Do not go out to eat alone with someone of the opposite sex; Do not travel anywhere alone with someone of the opposite sex, not to the library, a museum, or a business meeting. Do not flirt with someone of the opposite sex. Speak often and lovingly of each other, when out in public and around others.
 Consider what is at stake. Put the temptation in perspective. If Jesus walked in, would I be proud or embarrassed with my decision? How do I want others to remember me? What last impression do I want to leave as a legacy?

Action: Marriage is not merely between husband and wife; it embraces a partnership with God.
I truly believe with God all things are possible. Marriages that have not allowed God to be apart of the equation are truly missing out. He’s your biggest fan, and if anyone wants you to succeed and be happy, it is God! So don’t make your life even harder, allow Him to help! Character matters. We must take responsibility for our own actions. Our Father God is counting on us to use the Holy Spirit as our discernment. I believe God will rescue me from anything I ask for. I believe in Him for great things. Are you protecting your marriage?

If your marriage has fallen short or failed, know that God still adores you. His grace overflows upon you. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways, acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” Proverbs 3: 3.

Prayer: Lord, I will ask, seek and knock. My desire is to fight for my marriage in all situations. I pray for your intervention at all times, so I may remain loyal to You and my husband. If we have a fight, please replace anger with love, and pain with forgiveness. Please restore peace to our relationship. It can happen. Give us rest knowing that Your power is made perfect in our weakness.

It’s Not Be Right, But Find Right – Criticism

Scripture: “Let those who have never sinned, throw the first stones!” John 8:7; “Stop judging others, and you will not be judged.” Matthew 7:1; “If you serve Christ with this attitude, you will please God, and other people will approve of you too.” Romans 14:18

Thought: Infamy, there was a time I use to belittle my husband and children with disapproval. Criticism I felt it was “my job” to draw to their attention the mistake they were making because it wasn’t the choice I would make or think it would be God’s way. I learned that I was only hurting myself and pushing them away because they didn’t feel they could measure up. There is a time and place for healthy criticism, when another person is living in open sin or engaging in a life style that is not right. It is then that criticism can be healing or redemptive, if it is truly constructive criticism. But for the most part, criticism demeans, degrades or humiliates another, often to make the other critical person look better. Depreciating another to make a point or make ourselves look better is sinful, particularly when the devaluing robs the other of a sense of self worth. Constructive criticism should always be a welcome and wholesome gift if given in a spirit of love. But we have no right to give hurting criticism of another, because this is trying to be a judge over that person, and God alone is our judge. Remember you are not God and should not try to do His work for Him. It’s not about being right, its about finding what’s right, good and uplifting for Father God. Believe God for the great answers to prayer.

Action: Before criticizing your spouse, take an inventory of your own sins and shortcomings so that you can approach each other with understanding and humility. And likewise, if you listen to constructive criticism, you will be at home with the wise. Take time to pray before you speak.

Prayer: Lord, I will ask, seek and knock. I ask for Your help to be constructive with love if You are calling me to act for your glory. I seek Your wisdom when I speak so I may choose Your words, and I knock on your door to show me what is rightfully Your will. Show me Father if my motives are pure before I speak. Amen

Marriage Death Threat: The Love that Faded

Scripture: “You husbands in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with someone weaker, since she is a woman; and show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered”  1Peter 3:7 And
“Likewise, older women are to show their reverence for God by their behavior. They are not to be gossips or addicted to alcohol, but to be examples of goodness. They should encourage the younger women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible and pure, to manage their households, to be kind, and to submit themselves to their husbands. Otherwise, the word of God may be discredited.” Titus 2:3-5

Thought: When my husband and I first got married, I always ran to greet him with a kiss and smile when he walked through the door. I had his dinner ready, his laundry clean, and we spent hours laughing and sharing our days. We were inseparable friends and we did everything together. In the seventh year of our marriage the shift began to change subtly. Our river of life ran dry. One day I was so depressed and realized “I didn’t really know who my husband was anymore.” How did our marriage drift and our love fade? I decided we needed some marital counseling. He was too embarrassed to seek help, even though he openly admitted he was feeling the same distance between us. We found a professional, Christian counselor who helped us to get in touch with who we are as individuals and as a couple how we related to each other. New knowledge taught us to understand one another’s love language and we learned the needs that each of us desired from one another. I thought and felt we were facing a Marriage Death Threat, but during counseling, we discovered our river of love had gone dry and baggage was weighing us down but our marriage was just bent and needed a revival. We were provided the keys to a Godly marriage by talking regularly, setting mutual goals for our marriage, planning the future together, playing together, cultivating shared interests and fanning the flame of romance.

Action: Plan a weekend away together and build your emotional closeness. The better you get along with each other, the better your sex will be and the less tempting other people and activities will be. Confide in your spouse rather than an opposite-sex friend. Guard your thoughts. Don’t risk fantasizing about other romantic attachments. Your actions will tend to follow your thoughts. Keep romance alive. Long-term marriage doesn’t have to become dull and boring, re-center your marriage in Father’s love. Keeping romance alive takes a conscious effort. It’s your choice to maintain the excitement and enchantment. Make a fresh start and commit to pray together daily.

Prayer: Lord, apart from you I desire nothing. I don‘t want to play mother, counselor, spiritual advisor or Holy Spirit in my husbands life. Help me not to take on this controlling behavior. I look forward to watching you God take our prayers and answer them beyond anything we could hope for or imagine. Amen

A Parents Job

Scripture: “You must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commandments I am giving you. Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home, and when you are away on a journey, when you are lying down, and when you are getting up again.” Deuteronomy 6:6-7

Thought: I took my job seriously as a mom and I taught basic spiritual principles to my children. I wanted them to learn that their actions revealed their value system and God’s commandments. What they do will show what they really believe. “A good person produces good deeds from a good heart, and an evil person produces evil deeds from an evil heart. Whatever is in your heart determines what you say.” Luke 6:45. It was my job to parent my children in the way God commanded me to when he entrusted His children to be mine to raise. A couple of stories that my adult children recently shared with me as a memory that left a legacy in their life was one day we were grocery shopping and my son found $20 on the floor. We really could have used that money and easily walked away without drawing attention. BUT, my children were observing with thoughts of intent questions. After explaining our choices, we did the right thing and took the money to customer service. Shortly after we got home, we received a call from the lady that dropped the money, thanking us for being honest people. That was her grocery money for the week from social security. I felt proud; it’s my job to set an example for my children. “Don’t let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you teach, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, your purity.” 1 Timothy 4:12. Another rule in our house was, no sibling fights and “tattle tails”. When it happened they knew right away that they would both be disciplined; sit next to each other until one was ready to make the first move to apologize, but first they had to wear the “Get Along” t-shirt.

Action: Don’t tell your children, “Do as I say, not as I do”. Instead, teach your children to do what you do. Are you setting a good example for your children and grand-children? It is impossible to give away what you don’t have. Live by spiritual principles and leave a legacy of your life for your children that will honor God. Put God First, it’s about our children. “Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from Him.” Psalm 127:3

Prayer: Lord, it’s not about me, it’s about being obedient to you. Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path. (Ps. 119:105) Please help me to be disciplined as a role model to your children that you’ve entrusted to me. Amen

Keys4-Unity Put God First

Scripture: “Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit, and there are varieties of ministries, but the same Lord. There are varieties of results, but it is the same God who produces all the results in everyone. To each person has been given the ability to manifest the Spirit for the common good.” (ISV) 1 Corinthians 12:4-7

Thought: Recently, I assisted at a conference for the unity of marriages. During this time I exerted a lot of energy and my husband was concerned that my sleepless days would bear on my health. I tried in my best effort to explain that I was preparing a banquet for Jesus and He deserved my very best. God provided me with the strength of energy, other members of the body, and the ability to get His job done. Now, there was a time I thought God passed me up when He was passing out talents. I wanted to be like others that I admired and saw that they were blessed with a spiritual gift. But now I can see that I wouldn’t want to have the burden of continually using that particular gift faithfully. However, God did bless me with the gifted ability to serve others. Jesus tells us in Matthew 25:29, “If you use wisely what you have, you will be given more.” The Bible makes it clear that what God has given to each of us, if used faithfully, will accomplish great things. God takes joy in using the gifts the world may see as my inability to lack a certain talent, but He purposely uses my gift to accomplish His plan.

Action: What is keeping you from using your talented gift to serve in the unity of Christ? Is it your own lack of discipline or circumstances beyond your control? If it is truly circumstances beyond your control, then take comfort in the fact that God still loves you and perhaps the suffering that is keeping you from reaching out in physical service, is a blessing and God has given you a gift of praying for others. Unity creates a more beautiful worship experience. Set your mind on discovering the gifts and abilities that God specifically had in mind when He created you.

Prayer: Lord, I ask not what You can do for me, but what can I do for You? The purpose of my life is not about me, it’s about serving You for Your Kingdom to come on earth as it is in heaven. Show me this day Father, Your gift, Your strength and my ability to serve You in unity of the Holy Spirit. Amen.