Mar 10

Recently I posted a blog about the importance of having a vision for your marriage. It is good for you to know where you are going in your marriage, so you can move in the direction the Lord is taking you. However, what happens when you and your spouse have two completely different visions that seem to clash? What happens when both visions are clearly different? Can they be melded somehow? Why would God give two people who are supposed to be “one” two completely different visions for the same marriage? These are questions that came up many times in the first few years of our marriage, and I didn’t really understand it at first. So I’ll take you on my journey for a moment.

When Evan and I started out, I had a picture of staying home, raising kids, taking care of our family life, and homeschooling. I knew in my heart that family was so important. For me, it was the most important thing, and I placed very high value on it. Yet I found out right away that Evan had a very different perspective and therefore different expectations than I had. He had a clear vision of the need for us to be financially secure, so he pictured me working and bringing in money to help support us. I had no desire to start down that course. I thought that if he got used to my income, I would never be able to fulfill my vision of homeschooling our children. His vision for our marriage seemed to be in direct contrast to mine. He viewed me staying at home a waste, because he believed that we needed my income just to pay the bills. You see where this is going.

Both visions were very important, both were necessary for our marriage to thrive, but both were very different. Now please realize something, in the order of marriage ordained by God, the man is the head of the woman. God’s word clearly tells us that we are to submit to our husbands, so I did. I did what needed to be done for our family and got a job. Little did I realize that at the time, it was very vital to our financial survival. He was on to something. He saw something that I didn’t see. I wasn’t completely happy about it, but I was intentional about making the most of it and giving it my all. However, I have never had great luck in the marketplace. It is not my gifting. But we made ends meet and we were, at least for the moment, carrying the same vision.

During that whole time however, my vision never changed. I would wonder if or how my vision would fit in. So, when it looked like the exact opposite of what I saw, I had to have faith that God would work it out. I believe that when I submitted to my husband, he saw me do something that he knew I was not comfortable with to please him and honor him. It softened him toward me.

A couple of years passed and one day everything changed. God divinely showed up and in the same week we found out Evan was promoted, we were moving, and oh…I was pregnant. You see, when God shows up, everything changes. The next thing you know, I had to quit my job because we were leaving. Then we realized that the place we were moving to was nicer and less costly, so we could live on one income. And as I began motherhood, I noticed my heart explode in the reality that I was now living out my vision! And so was Evan! Two visions melded into one by the grace and circumstance of God Himself!

Remember I said a couple of years passed, then everything changed. I’d like to talk about the couple of years. During that time my vision never changed, and I wrestled with God on it many times. I went through some dark, arid places, feeling almost dead inside. I am really passionate about my relationship with God, and I felt like honoring my husband was in stark contrast to what I believed God had put on my heart. Who do I follow, God or my husband? Two years of wrestling is no easy thing. My faith was challenged so hard that I almost gave up many times. I was depressed often and I felt abandoned by God. I also was very mad at myself for not marrying someone who would let me walk out my calling. You see, when you are in the thick of it, your perspective becomes narrow. I couldn’t see a way out.

However, God can make a way where there is no way! And what I learned is that God gave us each a role and a vision for that role. I had to learn that Evan was my family now, and he needed me to help him in that way. I now realize that as the head of our marriage, God gives him wisdom for the direction of our marriage. I learned that my husband, like Christ, only wants what is best for me and our family, and I need to trust his wisdom. I also discovered that by honoring my husband and submitting to him, I was positioning myself rightly before God so he could bless me with the fulfillment of the vision he had placed before my eyes for all those years.

I am opening up to you some of the deeper things that took place with me to encourage you to have faith for the vision God has placed in your heart. He can change everything in an instant, in his perfect timing, to make that vision a reality. He can bring about the right circumstances and heart changes needed for both you and your spouse to walk in the fullness of who you were created to be. It may take time, and it may look very different for a while, but God is making something beautiful out of the mess. Gardens take time to weed, messes take time to clean up, and hears take time to change, but trust that God is able to change the heart he created. Have faith for your marriage, and do not lose heart. For great will be your reward!

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”   Galatians 6:9 (NIV)

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that FAR outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”      2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (NIV)

Mar 08

Hello my friends! Recently I have had a question nagging my heart and I needed to get clarity from God on it. I asked God, “Why are marriages falling apart so easily?” He responded to me clearly with Proverbs 29:18 (KJV), “Where there is no vision, the people perish, but he that keeps the law, happy is he.” Vision is that important huh? This scripture brought me back to the beginning of my marriage. I remember when I first got married I could see us clearly 10 years down the road. We were in this big, lovely house with a front porch swing. Evan was mowing the lawn and our kids were playing and laughing in the freshly cut grass. Evan and I caught each other’s eye and winked. It wasn’t so much the picture of this scene that I focused on, it was the way I felt. In my vision, we were a happy family, at peace with each other, and in my mind I knew we had something very, very special. Simple vision, right? What I didn’t realize when I dreamed it up was how far we were from it, and what it would take to get there.

Now, I could have dismissed that vision as just a dream, a far fetched one at that, but it kept coming up. Whenever I would think about what I wanted my family and my marriage to look like, this was it. If I had focused on what my situation looked like at the time I would have given up, many times over. I almost did several times. Our marriage was ugly, and messy, and I did not like it at all. I would wonder how we were ever going to go from that horrible place in our marriage to one that looked like my vision.

I look back now and we are almost there. We are almost to that exact vision that I had pictured in my mind. How far God has brought us!! I have recently been reminded of God’s ways being higher than our ways.  His precepts and principles are always true. His law will forever govern our way of life, because God created us to live within the principles of that law. If God can take emptiness and void and chaos and create the world and the law that governs everything in it, that He can bring order to the chaos of our marriages.

So in going back to our verse, what does vision have to do with the law? How are these two concepts related? When God gives us a vision, any vision, but for this blog specifically a vision for our marriage, the way that he intends on fulfilling it is through his principles, his law. Those who keep the law, those who uphold it and study it and put it into practice will see their vision fulfilled!! Whereby they are happy. True happiness comes when we are living out that which we were created to do and when we are living in the fullness of our being. Without vision, all we can see is our brokenness, but in the light of his law and truth, we can see our destiny. It is this vision that keeps us directed. This will keep us focused on God, for He is the one that gets us from A to B. Vision gives us hope and is the substance of our faith.

Because God created the concept of covenant, he also created the laws and principles that govern covenant. If we take those laws and apply them to our marriages, we will surely overcome the chaos and obstacles and live rightly with each other and before our God. This is always true for every marriage ordained by God.  Please understand that this takes time, for there are things God does in our hearts to bring chaos into order.

So, in light of this I challenge you to ask God to give you a vision for your marriage. Many of you probably already have one in mind. Ask God to reveal the purpose of your marriage. Ask Him to show you what it should look like. Take hold of this vision, for it will be your focus when things don’t look as they should. This will be the substance of your faith. God has great plans for your marriage. His is able to bring beauty from ashes!

“Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:12-14)

I’d love to hear the visions God put’s on your hearts. I would love to pray in agreement with you and God to see the fulfillment of the plans, and purposes, God has for you and your family.

Nov 07

Hello Friends! I think there comes a time in every marriage when the relationship between the husband and wife is affected by someone outside the marriage, be it a parent, a sibling, a friend, a boss, a child, or even someone random. Often most of the people outside of our marriage have been a part of our lives longer than our spouse. Many times those people have influenced us in our decision making, been there through the dark times, and had quite an impact on helping us to become the person we are today. So then, what should their role be in the context of our marriage? How does the relationship have to change? Does it even have to change? What new boundaries need to be established going forward in light of this new covenant I made before God?

I have found that many, if not all, of the relationships I had prior to my marriage had to be examined in light of my bond with my husband. The relationships that were healthy to begin with, I noticed, became even better. Where there was a respect of boundaries and for the covenant of marriage, the relationships continued to flourish. However, what became apparent very quickly were the unhealthy relationships both my husband and I had with friends and family that needed to change. This happened in a variety of ways. Because my husband and I were now “one”, anyone against him was against me too, and vice versa. Many, many arguments between my husband and I were about these very things.

You see, prior to getting married, friends and family were very important to us. In fact, in many cases friends were considered family. This happens with both men and women, but with men I think the bond of brotherhood runs deeper, especially if the man was single for a longer period of time. For women, we form emotional bonds with people which are not easily broken. Those people love us deeply, and we love them, so why does the relationship have to change? Because in the covenant you made before your spouse and before God you promised to put your spouse above all else. They have become closer to you than any relationship you have ever had on earth, and the relationship you share with them is only second to your relationship with God. No other person in your life can even come close to the oneness you now have with your spouse. As we are in Christ and He is in us, so we reflect that principle in our marriages.

I write to you as a loving warning, to let you know the dangers of not establishing proper boundaries with those we love outside of our marriage. Just because we are now married does not mean we need to cut off the rest of the world. It just means that the rest of the world is now second to it. It means that anything setting itself up against the marriage needs to be dealt with and given proper boundaries so the relationships can continue in a healthy way. I have learned that unhealthy relationships outside of the marriage can create great conflict within the marriage. It is imperative that you protect your marriage, for Satan hates it and will attack it from all sides if there is an open door.

If you are struggling with this, I recommend a couple of things to try. First, do not share your marital problems with anyone close enough to you to have a skewed view of the situation. Doing so invites them in to a place they do not belong. It gives them reason to resent your spouse because they love you and do not want to see you hurting. Trust me when I tell you, their perspective will not help you, because typically they see and empathize only with your side. Rather, seek help from an objective third party, be it a counselor, a mentor, a pastor, or someone in this sphere. Someone who will not pass judgement and can see clearly enough to really give wise counsel from the Lord.

Second, take your grievances to the Lord, especially with regard to unhealthy relationships. Ask God to change the dynamic of the relationship or remove it if needed. I remember that there was a relationship that was very unhealthy that created a lot of tension in my marriage. Without getting into details, I prayed that God would handle it, and I stopped nagging my husband, and within a couple of months the person was removed for a time. When the relationship was restored, it was restored in a healthy way, and there have not been any issues since. God desires us to have healthy relationships, and He will protect your marriage if you give Him the room and authority to do so.

Third, I highly recommend reading Boundaries by Cloud and Townsend. This book teaches you the importance of establishing boundaries and gives you practical instructions on how to do it. It explains what healthy boundaries look like so you can decipher whether or not you have established them and what areas in your relationships are in need of some work. Reading this book and establishing boundaries has been a real paradigm shift in my marriage. There were areas I didn’t even realize were a problem. I am not an expert on this. In fact, many of the things I have learned I got from this book. This book was written from a biblical perspective and gives many of the principles of God in setting up good boundaries.

Fourth, love and forgive. Remember, we do not wrestle against flesh and blood. (See Ephesians 6:10-18) Our struggle is not with the people, but with the oppression, the dissention, the evil trying to set itself up against our marriage. We are called to love people, and forgive them, because they do not even know what they are doing. Even if they do know what they are doing, it is up to God to decipher the intentions of the heart, not us. Our part is to pray for our enemies and our loved ones that are in need of God’s divine help and to take up the authority given to us by God to pull down strongholds of the enemy. (See 2 Corinthians 10:3-6)

Healthy boundaries with others are of vital importance to the peace in your home. The good news is that there is something you can do about it! Praise God that we are never in a situation to great for Him. Next time I am going to dive a bit deeper into spiritual warfare. We have been given authority by God to take back our homes and our marriages for the Lord. I hope this blesses you in your marital journey!!

 

 

 

Nov 04

Good afternoon friends! When things really do not seem like they are as they should be in a marriage it is perfectly natural for doubt to creep in. What if I married the wrong person? What should I do if the person I married is not the one God planned for my life? Maybe I made a mistake or maybe I should have consulted God more before choosing my spouse. I have had a few people ask me these questions recently and it has burdened me in prayer. In fact, I remember that there were several times that I asked myself the same questions. When my husband and I could not see eye to eye on just about anything I became really concerned that I had chosen wrong. I remember that these doubts left me feeling like God was punishing me. It left me in a state of despair because I am really against divorce and I saw no way out. I thought I had made my own bed and now I am going to have to lay in it…ugh.

In light of this, I have been asking God to reveal His heart to me on the matter. First thing I believe He showed me is that He knows us intimately. Isaiah 46:10 states, “I make known the end from the beginning.” God knows what we are going to do and the choices we are going to make. He gives us free will, but should we surrender that will to Him, at any time, He can take anything and turn it around for our good. In fact, He drew me to Romans 8:18-30. Please read it carefully, because there are principles in it that are directly applicable to your doubts.

” 18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. 19 For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. 20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that[a] the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God. 22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? 25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. 26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. 28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[b] have been called according to his purpose. 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. 30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.” (Romans 8:18-30 NIV Emphasis Mine)

Last time I talked about praying for our spouses and the things going on in our marriages, and I believe that applies also to praying for our spouse to be saved and be walking closely with God. Because you and your spouse are “one” you have authority in the spirit to bring this before the Lord and eagerly wait with confident anticipation that God will answer this prayer. Also, I have seen firsthand that there are some barriers that people put up unintentionally that make it more difficult for their spouse to surrender their heart to Jesus. One barrier could be if they detect hypocrisy in your walk with God. Please understand that we all make mistakes and are human, and God’s grace is sufficient for us, but if we are walking in blatant sin and looking for our spouse to change it can severely hinder this. If this is a reality you see in your walk with God, repent, and start moving forward in the truth of God’s love, and you may win over your spouse simply by the change they see in you. Jesus said, “In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16)

Another barrier to our spouse not being able to receive Christ’s love is if they cannot see your love. Christ lives in us, and we show people the love of Christ by the way we treat them. If you are not showing your spouse the love of Christ, then they will have a much more difficult time turning to Christ when they are in need of love or even believing that God loves them. See 1 Cor 13 for what love should look like. Also, for wives, the Proverbs 31 woman is a great description of how we can practically love our husbands. For husbands, Ephesians 5 is an excellent description of how you can love your wives. Every description of love has a few things in common, namely thinking highly of the other person, placing their needs before your own, and doing what is right in the sight of God.

I believe that it is the heart of God to move upon your marriage as it stands right now. I want to encourage you to try to look past your doubts, for God knows your heart, and He loves you. His desire is for your good, and regardless of whether or not the choice you made was wise, it is not too far gone for Christ to move upon your situation with a fresh breath of His Spirit. But remember, it is not on you to change your spouse, that is God’s problem to solve. The best way for us to work with God and not against Him is to make sure our hearts and minds are right before Him. Just by doing that, you will change the atmosphere in your home. By loving at all times and enduring all things (which is not easy by the way but incredibly rewarding) you take back ground for Christ and the enemy of our marriages will no longer be able to operate in the same way. Someone has to break the cycle; let it be Christ in you, the hope of glory!

In the face of your doubts about your marriage I encourage you to take a hold of the hope you have in Christ. Try to look past the present sufferings and let God give you a vision of what He intends to do with your marriage. Have faith that God can perform miracles, that He is the restorer of all broken things, that God is bigger than this, and that no matter what has come before, you can move forward in a new reality. Have faith for your marriage, and have faith for your spouse. Don’t let doubt steal your hope, but let God be God. “Now then, stand still and see this great thing the Lord is about to do before your eyes!” (1 Samuel 12:16) God Bless!

Oct 31

Hello friends!! There are so many different ways that God goes about repairing the broken places in a marriage. He uses His Word, people, circumstances, time, and prayer amongst other things. He knows us deeply and intimately, and He knows our hearts towards one another. He understands the intricacies of our motivations, reactions, and what makes us “tick”.  In my experience, there are three types of issues that create conflict within a marriage. His issues, Her issues, and Our issues. The first step to being able to pray in a strategic way is to properly identify the difference between the three of these.

When my husband and I got married, boy were we in for a rude awakening. We thought things would be instantly rosy, the grass would be greener, the sky a more brilliant blue, and all of our other problems would melt away in our love and devotion to one another. HA!!! We immediately came to realize that our fears surfaced, our insecurities deepened, and our vulnerabilities were ever-present. We fought and cried and then fought some more. But, how could we possibly have “issues” the first few weeks of marriage? Because these issues that were coming to the surface were not “Our issues” but issues we had brought with us from the past.

I came to realize as we talked and prayed that I had my own baggage that I didn’t realize was hidden, and it began to come to the surface when I was with someone all the time. I wanted my husband to think I was this amazing, perfect wife. I blamed him for everything because I didn’t want him to know I was flawed. But, he wasn’t to blame for everything. I had a lot of past hurts and even more fears. He had his own stuff too. Things that had happened in his life both to him and in front of him that left him hurt, skeptical, and confused. We spent a long time focusing on the other person’s baggage, but it wasn’t until we realized that we had our own stuff to deal with that we were able to begin making forward progress.

So, here’s the thing. A very good question that one might ask right about now is, “How do I get my spouse to deal with his/her stuff?” My answer would be prayer. It is not our job to fix the heart of our spouse. It is our job to bring it to the One who can, but it is more important that you bring your stuff before the Lord. When you get the healing you need, the dynamic of your home will automatically change because the things that triggered you will no longer affect you. Many of the things that bothered you will become your prayer burden for your spouse, and as a result of your change, your spouse will change too. Ephesians 5  talks about being submitted to one another. There is an underlying principle here. You and your spouse are one. “He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated his own body, but feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church-for we are members of his body. For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” Ephesians 5:28b-31 (NIV) Therefore, if one changes, they both change.

Preparing for strategic prayer begins with identifying what the issues are. The way we do that is by asking God to reveal them to us. To get real practical, sit down with a notebook and pen, and just say something like this, “Lord, I open my whole heart to you. I invite you to look into the deepest parts of me and I trust that you love me no matter what you find and that you are the God that heals. Please reveal the places you would like to touch and heal completely.” Write down anything that comes to you. This will help you begin to pray strategically. There may be some things that God chooses to heal immediately, and if He does that is great!! Victory! However, there will more than likely be things that He heals through process.

The next step in your strategic prayer preparation is to identify the things in your marriage that are truly bothering you. Things that hurt you, things that hurt your children, things that break intimacy. Realize that God can handle it and write down all of those things. Because of our unique vantage point, we can see what our spouse needs better than they can sometimes. We can intercede for them in a way that no one else can. Check your heart before God, because you want to bless them and not curse them. But be real with the problems, for I assure you that God does not need things sugar-coated.

The last preparation step in preparing for strategic prayer is to identify specific promises in God’s word that resonate with your situation. Take your concerns to the Word, and ask the Holy Spirit to guide you to the verses that speak directly to your marriage. Write those down as well. For example, “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed, perplexed, but not in despair, persecuted, but not abandoned, struck down but not destroyed.” 2Corinthians 4:8-9(NIV)  There are many, many promises. Let God reveal them to you and keep record of them.

Once you have done this you are ready to pray strategically. I wrote down my prayers. I started with glorifying God for who He is. It prepared my heart before Him. I then asked God to specifically move on the areas He had revealed to me that He wanted to heal. I gave Him full permission and authority to do what He had to do. I then asked Him specifically to move on the areas of my marriage that needed His attention. I gave Him the toughest and seemingly most impossible problems to deal with. I then reminded Him of His word (but I was really reminding myself). I thanked Him in advance for the faith He had given me and for answering all of my concerns. I took my time writing these prayers, and I prayed them word for word everyday. I prayed them whenever fighting ensued, whenever doubt crept in, whenever I felt led by the Spirit to pray.

I encourage you that God is strategic and orderly. He loves to be asked to heal marriage. It delights Him to do it, and your prayer for your marriage will begin to change the pattern. Trust Him and give Him the glory, for I believe you will begin to see changes and you will get the healing and restoration you most desire!!! God bless you, and if there is anything I can pray for I would be happy to agree with you in prayer. 

Oct 24

Hello Friends! I have a confession to make. I have been wrestling with God over money, yes money. My husband and I are trying very hard to get out of debt. We have sacrificed for years and been quite aggressive with it. We were on a path to being debt free by the end of this year and then we were hit with thousands of dollars in repairs to our only vehicle. My husband and I have been believing God for this and it has completely knocked the wind out of our sails. As I have been praying I have felt less and less faith in my voice. I have felt abandoned by God and angry with Him all at the same time. So the real question that I must ask myself is, “Do you trust God?” Well, here is what I have come up with thus far.

First, what is my motive? Why do I want to be debt free? My husband and I will both tell you that our biggest reason for wanting to be debt free is that we believe that we can do more for the kingdom of God when we are no longer a slave to the world. We feel strongly that God does not delight in debt, but that if we are in debt we should pay it back in a timely manner. We believe that God’s word declares over His people that we are the head and not the tail, above and not beneath, the lender and not the borrower. (See Deuteronomy 28:12-14) In fact, we believe these things so strongly that we declare them over our family every day.

Second, has God been faithful up until now? The answer is unwaveringly yes! Every major hurdle my family has ever encountered has been met by God’s grace. It may not have always looked the way we had pictured in our finite minds, but He has always been faithful to His word and His promises to us. In fact, even when I really try to find even a single time when He wasn’t faithful, all I can come up with was, “Well, that didn’t go how I thought, but the goal was still accomplished.” God sees the beginning from the end, and His purposes are more than likely even greater than ours. I have noticed, in my walk with God, that I purpose something in my heart and He directs my steps. (See Proverbs 16:9) Why is that? I think it is because God has some work to do in my heart to prepare me for entering into the new reality that I am believing Him for. But what I have learned through the process is that God is faithful and that I am always a work in progress. Not only does He always get us there, but he does it in such a way that we are fully prepared to receive it! What a loving Father!

Third, where is my faith? Is my faith in our ability to get out of debt or in God’s faithfulness to get us there? Hmmmm….. I think the reason I have been struggling is because I put a cap and a time limit on this miracle. I really wanted it to be my way, in my timing, and by our sacrifices and hard work. We are discouraged because that was where we put our faith. I have been asking God for more faith lately, and He has shown me that I have a lot of faith, it is just misplaced. God does not want me to stop believing we are going to be debt free, He wants me to trust that He knows how to get us there in a way that will last. You see, I think in a way we need a heart change. We need to vanquish the poverty mentality and we need to realize that our financial blessings are not of our own doing. As long as we are trying to do this of our own power, we will reap the pride of it for years to come. However, if God renews our minds and changes our hearts regarding our financial situation, we will be prepared to receive the blessing when it finally arrives.

I think this is a lesson for me that goes beyond our financial situation and can be brought into any situation a married couple is facing. One thing I have come to know, the process is almost never pleasant, but it bears the most amazing fruit that lasts and lasts. It also has left us in a more humble position before our God, and has kept us trusting Him and feeling secure in His love and faithfulness. Do I trust God? I trust Him so much more than I will ever trust myself, because my sight is limited and my understanding is extraordinarily lacking until God reveals it in His perfect timing. So what is it that you are believing God for? Do you trust Him to get you there? I encourage you to look beyond your circumstances and consider what God is doing and why. It is entirely possible he is preparing your heart to receive it!

Oct 12

Hello Friends! I hope you all are well!! I have been asking God if there is anything else He would like me to cover in my communication series. No answer for a few days so forgive me for the delay. When I was talking with a friend the other day the Lord reminded me that communication should ultimately lead to something very important.

As you know, God has created principles that govern healthy relationships. When we put these principles into practice within the context of marriage we are able to mirror and reflect what our relationship with our Bridegroom Jesus Christ looks like. One of these, in my opinion, is the most influential in allowing for longevity and happiness within marriage. It is the principle of forgiveness.

Now there are entire books and books upon books written on the subject, but for now I want to focus on one question. Why was it so important that Jesus died to forgive us? When we talk about what Jesus did on the cross, we don’t say He died to redeem us, although he did. We don’t say He died to adopt us, although he did. We don’t say He died to give us a chance to know God our Father, although He did. We say He died to forgive us our sins. When we lead people to ask Jesus to come into their heart and be Lord of their life, the prayer always includes asking for forgiveness. So why is this so important?

The answer is this: what we are asking Jesus for is relationship with God. We are not simply asking to worship Him and follow His commands and precepts. e want a healthy, intimate relationship with the Almighty, and if we have offended Him in any way we want to humble ourselves before Him and make it right. Jesus paved the way for us to have relationship with God the Father by paying the price for our sins. You see, every sin comes at a cost to the relationship. Every offense and every hurt costs us intimacy, and it works the same way in every relationship, especially marriage.

When I married my husband, all I wanted was for us to be close, happy, and secure in each other. However, from the very beginning we had all these expectations of each other and neither one of us were living up to those expectations. The disappointment that ensued came out in our conversations and in the tone of our voices. I’m sure you know the feelings that crop up when you do not think your spouse is happy with you. That’s when walls come up and intimacy drops dramatically. Why would you let someone into the deepest parts of you if the little they do know disappoints them? At least that was what was going back and forth with my husband and I for a long while. As a result we said and did many hurtful things to one another, Our emotional separation led to physical separation, yet all the while we just wanted to be close and happy. We talked and talked, but seemed to get nowhere. The day came when we had to make a decision. Were we going to stay together and work it out or  go our separate ways? I remember God spoke to me and said that the only path forward was the one paved with forgiveness. The title of this blog is “The Secret to a Happy Marriage”. So what is so secret about forgiveness? It is that in the secret place in your heart is where you make the decision to forgive. It is also in the secret place where God heals your wounds once you have forgiven.

My husband and I had a conversation the weekend before I moved back home. We talked about how we were going to move forward. One of the things we both agreed upon was that we had to forgive the past in order to move forward differently. We decided not to bring up the past in arguments anymore and not to intentionally hold things against one another that had occurred in the past. That conversation became for us a paradigm shift and things began to change from there for the better. A couple of things we noticed: forgiveness does not equal trust and just because you have decided to forgive does not make everything better overnight. By forgiving one another we released ourselves from reliving the same arguments and it gave us a chance to start fresh. Little by little we began to regain trust between us. We spoke to each other from a place of love instead of contempt. Our intimacy grew with each kind gesture and with each loving word for one another. Eventually our love, trust, and intimacy was restored, but it all took place in the secret place. We cannot tell you what God did there, just that he healed, redeemed the time, and restored our marriage. Forgiving one another is the key to restoring right relationship. It is the only way forward for some marriages, especially ones on the brink of ending. If there is anything left saving, this is the method God uses to save. It is how he saved us from eternal destruction and it is how he will save everything that needs saving.

2 Corinthians 5:17-21 says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And He has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making His appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” I also implore you in your marriages, be reconciled to one another. Be reconciled through Christ, and the way we do that is to be reconciled through forgiveness, for this is the means that Christ uses in order for true and complete reconciliation to take place.

God Bless You!!

Oct 04

Hello Friends! I hope everyone is well! The last post I explained the importance of meditating on what was said in order to gain a greater understanding and perspective. It is vitally important to meditate if we want to deepen our intimacy with our spouse and especially with God, because it allows us to know them better.

The biggest difference between a marriage and any other relationship is trust. A marriage was set up by God to give you a safe place to be intimate and exposed. Like the garden in the beginning, God created man to have an intimate relationship with Him, without even the slightest mistrust or fear. Adam and Eve were naked and didn’t even know it. They had complete access to God and all God had created was given into their care. The trust went both ways and was unhindered by lies, deceptions, darkness, and adulteries. There was open and honest communication in the garden. It wasn’t until lies, disobedience, mistrust, and deception creeped in that the relationship began to deteriorate.

He created marriage (in the garden before the fall) to give us a safe place to be our truest selves. We should be able to expose our hearts, our secrets, our insecurities, and our regrets to our spouse without fear of judgement. Notice I say should…..but it is not always that way, is it? I know for me, my husband and I messed it up so many times. My husband would try to explain something to me so I could really understand how he felt, and I would jump all over him. I would tell him he shouldn’t feel that way or I would somehow make him feel stupid for it. I was not a very compassionate person. He was the one who taught me how to listen with compassion. He explained to me that it was not his job to judge me but to love me through it and allow God to work on me as I brought what was hidden in the darkness out into the light. He gave me a platform to verbalize my insecurities, confess my sins, and get to the heart of the matter.

What does it mean to get to the heart of the matter? Let me give an example. I used to smoke cigarettes regularly. I started when I was very young, right around the time that life began to get hard and I had to grow up. It quickly became my coping mechanism. For years, everything that was bad that happened in the day to day was stuffed down into my lungs. So….on July 1 2007 I decided to quit. I had a renewed passion for the Lord and I felt God pressing me to do it. Boy oh boy how the anxiety grew with each passing day of not smoking. Of course, on the surface I thought it was just from the cigarettes, and I believed that when it was all out of my system I would not feel the anxiety anymore. That was not the case, however, and there were many things that triggered my anxiety until finally on day I just picked up the bad habit all over again. I would tell myself, “I need them. I’m addicted” What a lie that was! The truth is I needed to go back and deal with my past. I had to face some things that had happened and get healing from God. The smoking was surface level. The real problem was much deeper, in the darkness, in hidden places. I didn’t even know how to handle it.

So….I laid them down again (the cigarettes) and started on a journey that forever changed my life. I decided in my heart that I was going to fully expose my heart and my past to God, ugly as it was, and let Him have His way. If you have ever done a spring cleaning you know, it is always messier before it is cleaner. I spent many months crying myself to sleep and not even knowing why. I asked forgiveness for many things. I felt the deepest despair I will ever know. I was lost….or so I thought. The whole time my husband helped me process what I was going through. It was certainly not always convenient (at 3am) and not easy for him to remain positive with me spewing out negativity, but then something began to change without me even being fully aware of it. My burden was lighter and lighter. The pit in my stomach that had been there forever was suddenly gone. Hope began to rise up as the Lord was healing the deepest parts of me.

My husband and I did this for each other for over two years. It was not an overnight thing, and it was not pretty, but God brought beauty from ashes. He taught me that the biggest blessing in marriage is that you have someone who will stick by you and love you no matter what, and that kind of love conquers all fear. The hardest thing in communicating with your spouse is to get to the heart of the matter because our inner voice tells us that it will not go well for us if we do that. I am here to say, that voice is lying to you to keep your secrets hidden. As long as they are hidden you can not get the healing you most desire. Satan works in dark places where there is no hope and no love, no compassion and no healing. Our God is a loving, compassionate God and He alone can heal.

It is not the job of our spouse to heal us. It is not their job to judge us. We are responsible to love each other as Christ loved the church. This relationship was designed by God to give us a companion to walk out this journey with us. A great way to look at it is to realize that since God brings us together and makes us “one” then each of our deepest hurts, desires, regrets, secrets, insecurities, hopes, fears, and the like affect both people. To the extent that we can deal with those things is the extent that we can both experience healing and the fullest measure of joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, and self control. It is just as much to your benefit as it is to theirs to give your spouse a platform whereby they can be vulnerable with you (and vice versa).

I know this is deep, but this is getting to the heart of the matter. Nothing can be fixed if we are unable or unwilling to look at the real problems. Many times, what we think is the problem is just the beginning. Let God go deeper, and trust Him, because it may look ugly, but it won’t stay ugly. “When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.'” (John 8:12 NIV) And later He goes on to say “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” (John 8:34-36 NIV) God Bless!

Sep 30

Hello friends! In my last post I discussed the importance of listening to our spouse in a way that gives us the ability to understand their perspective. When we are listening we only have the ability to make a quick analysis before the other person continues to talk. We cannot really consider what is being said in the moment, so we need to go back and really think about it. Typically, men are better at this than women. It is lovingly referred to as them being in their man cave. This involves a period of time where the couple does not talk, but reflects on what has been said in order to gain perspective, understanding, and a broader context than our own narrow viewpoint.

So, what does meditation have to do with communication? Well, everything really! Without going back and reflecting on what’s been said we become stuck in a cycle in our minds, replaying the same arguments or our same reasoning, but getting nowhere on resolving the problem.

God gives us great insight in how meditation is significant in our relationship with Him. Romans 12:2 says, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is-his good, pleasing, and perfect will.” Joshua 1:8 says, “Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.” Psalm 1:1-3 says, “Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked, or stand in the way that sinners take, or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not whither-whatever he does prospers.”

If you notice, every verse here on meditation comes with a promise. If you are transformed by the renewing of your mind you will know God’s will for your life. If you meditate on God’s word you will be prosperous and successful. If you delight and meditate on God’s law, whatever you do will prosper. These promises are true always!!! We then know that if we go back and really think about what God is saying in His word after we have read it, He will be faithful to renew our minds and give us insight into His desires, His commands, His heart. Because marriage is a reflection of this amazing relationship we can have with God, the same concept remains true of our marital communication. If we go back and think about what has been said, God will be faithful to renew our minds, give us fresh insight and perspective on the situation, and help us to move past our own shortcomings and limited knowledge so we can resolve the deeper issues and so our marriages can prosper!! The principle of meditation is this: if you take the time to really understand what is being said, then you will prosper. Simple right?

We complicate this simple truth by the pride of our own hearts in believing that we are always right. If I am right, then the other person must be wrong….or so we think. However, what I have learned is that my husband and I are almost always both right……

How can that be? Because we both have different perspectives of the same thing. For example, If you and your spouse sit at a table across from one another and you place a Cheerios box on the table in between you, each of you would describe the cheerios box differently. One person would say, ” This is Cheerios, it is good for your heart, the picture shows a big bowl with little ring shapes in white stuff.” The other could easily conclude they are totally wrong. Why? Because they can’t see that side of the box. They see the more technical side like a process describing how cheerios are made. They both agree the box contains cheerios, but disagree on the facts. They are both right, they are just seeing it from two different angles. When they go back and think about what has been said, the second person can say…”oh, actually, the way they are made and the ingredients that are in cheerios actually supports the notion that they are heart healthy, and that they are shaped like rings. Hmmmm” Different perspectives on the same thing.

To conclude, God made us man and woman so that when you put us together we gain a better perspective on things. We think differently on purpose. It’s the way we were created. By listening to our spouse and meditating on what they have said, we actually grow and prosper in our marriage and beyond. The purpose of God putting a man and a woman together is to help each other reach both of our God-given potentials. He gives me insights for my husband that help him grow and vice versa. What results is a deeper intimacy and love between us as well as everything we do prospers! What a loving God! God Bless You!

Sep 26

Hello my friends! I am excited to share with you some important lessons God has shown me in His word on the importance of communication within our marriages and how He designed it to work properly. This is going to be the first of several postings on communication so stay tuned!

My husband and I have done our fair share of fighting, let me tell you! I have noticed that when we get into it and go round for round, we tend to keep saying the same things over and over, sometimes in different ways, but nothing gets resolved. Why is that? We are just like a broken record, and an annoying one at that. As we prayed for help from the Lord, we began to realize that we were so much more interested in being heard than in hearing the other person. It was very important to me that my husband listened, understood, and validated my position or I would remain miserable and defensive. And, as long as I was defensive my walls were up and my ears were shut.

The Lord began to show me that communicating with my husband was a reflection of my prayer life with Him. I did a lot of talking, asking God for things, looking to God for help, and wanting to see answers to prayers. I wanted to do all the talking and I wanted Him to do all the changing that needed to be done in my world. Notice I said my world? And when it didn’t happen, communication would stop….I mean what is the use of praying if we are not going to see answers to those prayers right? My prayer life was totally one sided…what kind of relationship is that???

You see, communicating with God and communicating with our spouse go hand in hand. To communicate effectively, we must close our mouths…yes I said it…keep them shut…and begin to listen. Listen intently and open our hearts to understanding and validating what is being said, not just verbally, but the feelings behind the words. How can we say we have a relationship with God if we can’t hear Him speak to us? How do we know His love for us without hearing the tone of his Word? How do we understand His heart for our situation without giving Him input?

The same principle can be applied to our communication with our spouse. How can we expect them to listen to us and validate our feelings when we do not listen to them and validate their feelings? I have learned something in all the times my husband and I have really fought. I know I’m right…and so does he. But sometimes it is better to be happy than it is to be right. Many times I thought I knew what he was saying, and my perspective on it would be very negative. But once I stopped and really listened and tried to put myself in his shoes to fully understand where he was coming from, I realized my perspective was far off. Once my perspective changed we were able to move forward. Once my views on it changed then my husband began to soften his views and we were able to come to compromises and change together the things that needed to change in order for our marriage to be something we both wanted. BTW…this went both ways. Sometimes it was his perspective that changed first, but God always worked it out. It is the Lord that changes hearts.

So…if you are struggling either in communication with your spouse or with your Bridegroom Christ, take a step back and change how you are going about it. It is the first step in breaking a bad cycle. It doesn’t matter who initiates the change in the marriage, just that someone does it. Stop arguing and listen.

On a very practical note, here are a couple of things to try.

  1. Ask Questions: seek to understand a point more deeply by asking them clarifying questions.
  2. Watch your tone: if you want them to open up you need to welcome them to do so without judgement or anger
  3. Repeat back to them what you think the are saying: sometimes things will be said and the other person will imply something unsaid.
  4. Do not interrupt: let them finish their thought.
  5. When the conversation is over, think about what they said: Meditating on it will help you to better understand their perspective.

Listening is the best way to begin to communicate differently. My husband and I have something we always try to do. We spend one day intentionally putting ourselves in the other person’s shoes so when we come back to discuss the matter we can do so with fresh perspective.

Next time I’m going to talk about the importance of meditation in communication, but for now I’ll leave you with this, in John 10:27 Jesus says, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” James 1:19-21 says, “My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires. Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.” This principle of listening first is universal, and will work. Try it and see the hand of the Almighty begin to move on your behalf. God Bless you!!