Tag Archive | Marriage

Reading List 2015

Here is my list for 2015. I did not do so well on my list in 2014 and much had to do with working full time for the first 5 months followed by my 4th pregnancy and a move to a new city! We had a lot of changes in 2014 and I fell greatly behind in blogging as well as reading. I have high hopes for 2015 although it’s almost the end of February and I am only just now putting up my list! This time I put the blame on having a newborn on January 8th : ) it’s always something right! Well… here goes!

I should also preface by saying that God has really brought to my attention my need to focus on my marriage. I have spent the last few years reading a lot of parenting books which have been significantly helpful but there are some areas in my marriage that need some real work and I am making 2015 a focus on that as far as my reading goes.

Fiction:

Marriage:

Bible Study:

Book Review: The Power of a Praying Wife & Family Prayer Journal

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I must first start by admitting this has been a 2 year read : ) Not because of the content or at all because it was boring or anything like that. I just simply did not keep it a priority but kept it on the list to finish “someday” : ) This book is amazing! It is just amazing how much God has blessed Stormie with an ability to pray intensively and according to Scriptures. The book is laid out with 30 different topics to pray for over your husband. Each topic is about 3 pages long where she gives a brief intro of the importance of praying for this area and usually a real life example of either herself or someone she knows who saw a significant impact in their husband’s lives because of praying for that particular area. She then finishes up with a prayer and some “power tools” at the end which are 4 or 5 scriptures to pray over for that area. The whole book is saturated with scriptures… it is amazing! It really opened my eyes to “praying without ceasing” and praying for everything. I never thought about needing to pray for over half of these things and even if I thought about it I wouldn’t have known how to or where to turn in Scripture to pray over it. This is such a helpful book. I am also finishing The Power of a Praying Parent at this same time. The book 2 years ago inspired me to make our family prayer journal. In it I basically have pulled from this book all of the topics and summed up what she said in a prayer and added in my favorite verses relating to that area. Over the past 2 years I have added personal prayer requests for our marriage and family. Last year I added 2 new sections… one for “generational sins” that I was noticing were being passed down to our children and began seeing the importance of praying for a breaking of those since in our generation and the generation from us. I also added a “praise” section : ) I love my prayer journal and am so thankful for God using this book to have sparked that in me. I use a reusable sticky tab as my “bookmark” and will pray for one section and move the bookmark to the next section for the next time I pray out of the journal. I cannot wait to see some real fruits in the years to come from this.

We can take a stand against any negative influences in our marriage relationship and know that God has given us authority in His name to back it up. p. 15

Praying for your husband will be an act of unselfish, unconditional love and sacrifice on your part. p.21

Before your prayers are answered there will be blessings from God that will come to you simply because you are praying. That’s because you will have spent time in the presence of God, where all lasting transformation begins. p.22

It’s impossible to truly give yourself in prayer for your husband without first examining your own heart. p. 26

Dying to yourself is always painful… But this kind of pain leads to life. p. 28

When we pray we enter into the presence of God and He fills us with His Spirit of love. When you pray for your husband, the love of God will grow in your heart for him. p. 29

The safeguard you have with prayer is that you have to go through God to do it. This means you can’t get away with a bad attitude, wrong thinking, or incorrect motives. When you pray, God reveals anything in your personality that is resistant to His order of things. p. 33

I’m not going to give any more quotes from the rest of the book those were just the introduction and beginning section of the importance of praying for your husband’s wife : ) Yup… that’s you : ) That’s the first chapter and she goes into great detail of the great importance of getting your heart right and honest before God before going on this journey:

“If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear.”

Psalm 66:18

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The inside of the prayer journal with an encouraging verse. At the top are our kiddos names and birthdates… in case I forget haha! Just kidding : )

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The first section of prayers for our children with the prayer requests and scripture that accompanies.

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Prayers for myself, Adam and our marriage

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Book Review: The Mystery of Marriage

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“Love convinces a couple that they are the greatest romance that has ever been, that no two people have ever loved as they do, and that they will sacrifice absolutely anything in order to be together. And then marriage asks them to prove it.” p.45

I can’t remember anymore where I hear of certain books whether it be through a friend or a blog or the back of a book I’ve been reading but either way I have read some incredible books by following through with some recommendations. This is one of them and I was so blessed to find it at our thrift store for $1 !!! This book is really amazing! Mike Mason says on his website that he doesn’t write books he writes sentences and those sentences turn into books. This is so true. Each sentence packs such a powerful message much like the best writers from back in the day (C.S. Lewis, A.W. Tozer, etc., etc.). The way Mason describes marriage from God’s point of view really changed my view of it and helped me see how special marriage is and the sanctity of it. It was as though I was sitting down with God Himself and He was trying to convince me of what an incredible miracle marriage is and why He created it and what His heart and hopes are for those of us involved in marriage. It is so powerful and moving the words Mason uses. Mason also has an incredible way of describing the mystery of people itself. Sure he describes a lot in the context of marriage but it really woke up my perspective of how people interact with each other in other relationships. He really got me thinking about these relationships in such a different way and in more of a Godly way and I am so thankful he wrote this.

Here are some great examples but really truly I would encourage any of you who are married or engaged to just go ahead and read it… you’ll never regret it.

“That is the vulnerable place, of course, in all human relationships. What is on the line, always, with every person we meet is our capacity to love and to be loved. But whereas in most other relationships our vulnerability in this respect can be hidden… in the relationship of marriage it is this very quality of vulnerability that is exposed, exalted, exploited.” p. 15-16

“…that is what love does: it brings people out into the light, no matter how painful that transition might prove to be. Love aims at revelation, at a clarifying and defining of our true natures. It is a sort of sharpening process, a paring away of dull and lifeless exteriors so that the keen new edge of a person’s true self can begin to flash and gleam in the light of day.” p.18

“How else can true love be truly known except when it is separated from everything that is like it, from all forms of natural attraction? A marriage lives, paradoxically, upon those almost impossible times when it is perfectly clear to the two partners that nothing else but pure sacrificial love can hold them together.” p.28

“…that is [marriage] very purpose: to get us our beyond our depth, out of the shallows of our own secure egocentricity and into the dangerous and unpredictable depths of a real interpersonal encounter. And that, incidentally, is also what true religion is supposed to do… To know the Lord is to be brought into a personal relationship so dramatic and overwhelming that marriage is only a pale image of it.” p. 35

“We live in a heavily screened, body-guarded reality. Not much gets through the barbed wire, not much gets by the great bulldog of the ego. For truly to open our hearts to another person is to invite them into our own throne room and to sit them down on our very own throne, on the seat normally warmed by no one but ourselves.” p.37

“… people are the consciousness of God in the world, the closest thing to Him in the physical realm, and a more vivid reminder than anything else in creation of His existence, His mystery, and His creative power… to be in the presence of even the meanest, lowest, most repulsive specimen of humanity in the world is still to be closer to God than when looking up into a starry sky or at a beautiful sunset.” p.38

“Other people, let us face it, confront us directly with the reality of love or hate that is in our hearts in a way that all the beautiful sunsets in the world cannot do… We resent one another for revealing so accurately and so openly and so painfully the depth of our own lovelessness.” p.39

“The very next step in human closeness, beyond marriage, would be just to scrap the original man and woman and create one new human being out of the two. But this is exactly what happens… in the birth of a child! Eventually the parents die, leaving the child a living sign of the unthinkable extremity of union which took place between two distinct lives. The two became one.” p.73

“The closer we are drawn into the brilliant and mysterious circle of another person, the more must we ourselves be revealed in the other’s light, revealed for what we are. Others are mirrors in which we are constrained to see ourselves, not as we would like to be, but as we are. Whenever we pull away, searching in one mirror after another for a more pleasing image, what we are really doing is avoiding the truth about ourselves.” p.83

“One thing that is very important to know in marriage is that there is always a way out. And the way out is not divorce! No, the way out in marriage… is simply to put everything we have back on the line, our whole hearts and lives, just as we did the moment we took our vows.” p.95

“…we may be called upon to repeat in marriage our original acts of love and abandonment, but this time without much help from the emotions, and without any help at all from romantic love. We may be called upon to act all alone, out of pure faith and trust, perhaps without even the perceived help of our partner. For it is often God’s way that what He Himself has taught us to do in the light, we must repeat on our own in the darkness.” p.96

“…for two to become one flesh does not mean for the hand to become a foot. It means, rather, for the foot and the hand to become coordinated, to start doing the same thing, heading in the same direction.” p.128

“It is in the very nature of love, in fact, to bear the sins of others – not merely to sympathize or empathize or to share the heaviness, but actually to shoulder the blame.” p.162

“To love is… to see all their weakness, their falseness and shoddiness, to have all their very worst habits exposed – and then to be enabled, by the pure grace of God, no only to accept them, but to accept them in a deeper way than was ever before possible.” p.163

Fear of Vulnerability

This morning during my quiet time God did exactly this:

He sent to me “one of those gentle eruptions of grace that the Lord sends so quietly, so nonchalantly, so impishly into our lives, but which have the power to explode our inhumanities in our faces and to set within us a clean, new heart.”

That is on page 19 from an amazing book I began reading last week and have not been able to make it past the first chapter. The Mystery of Marriage by Mike Mason. It is one of those books that you just begin underlining the crucial points that stand out to you and before you know it you’ve basically been underlining every sentence on the page : ) As I said I have not made it past the first chapter because I am continually re-reading and meditating on the amazing things he has to say about the mystery of marriage from God’s plan but I would already recommend this book for anyone who is married or who is engaged.

Anyways, what was this gentle eruption of grace? The realization of my fear of vulnerability. For about the last year God has been working on my attitude in my marriage. For this past year I had been thinking the root of our challenges and my inability to move forward in certain areas was solely dependent upon my pride. But what kept getting to me in the last year that I realized this morning is my setback always came when I began to open up to vulnerability and in one way or another whether intentional or not I was hurt. The moment the hurt came it set me right back to the heart of my struggles… bitterness, anger, unforgiveness, disappointment, etc. I had been thinking that I was continuing to be too prideful and that was why I was being set back. While I know pride is still a part of these issues, God showed me that my #1 set back is a fear of vulnerability.

I have a fear of opening myself up completely and laying myself completely bare with no armor to attack an onslaught from ocurring.      A fear of being hurt by the person who is supposed to do the opposite for me … who is supposed to love me and cherish me and protect me from getting hurt and comfort me when I am hurt. There is great fear and hesitation in being hurt by this person and a complementary fear of unforgiveness. A fear of wondering how could I possibly forgive my husband if he hurts me when I am vulnerable? I am afraid of not being able to do that so my protective nature says then to just not be vulnerable. That’s the appropriate solution right?

I know all this to be true because it is this fear and the experience of my fear being a reality in the past that has brought me to the place I am at today. The place of feeling like I am at war with the one who is supposed to be standing beside me and in this war I wear my full armor… bitterness, anger, regret, arrows from my mouth of unkind words and sometimes even worse… silence. My armor that is supposed to protect me from feeling hurt but instead leaves me distant and empty.

What would have happened to God’s great plan of salvation if Jesus decided to close up because the words people shot at him and the whips he was beaten with just hurt him too much emotionally that He decided it was better to just walk away. If Jesus is our example and by God’s great grace He has given us an ability through the Holy Spirit to walk in the same light that Jesus walked in, then this is what He expects of me. And He is fully prepared to help me journey through this. He doesn’t sit in Heaven on His throne with a stern look on His face ready to slash me down if I fail or if I hesitate because I’m scared. No, no, no. God is compassionate. The youth pastor from Vanguard Church in Colorado Springs this past weekend gave a great example of God’s compassion. Instead of Jesus rolling his eyes at Thomas when he doubted Jesus’ resurrection He went straight up to Thomas and told him to do the exact thing he needed to do in order to believe… touch my hands and my feet Thomas, it is Me, the Great I Am. How compassionate is He?!?!?! We can have freedom to lay ourselves bare and admit how hard these things are and God will walk alongside us and help us through our fear.

I have to trust God to help me open up and be vulnerable again. I need to depend with all my being on God to heal my hurts that will inevitably occur with vulnerability and to tap into the grace He provides to forgive my husband when he hurts me … intentionally or not. It is not my husband who needs to be my comforter but God… who will never disappoint me or take advantage of my vulnerability.

And the wonderful thing is… my husband is a great example of where God wants me to be. Talk about iron sharpening iron. While he may sometimes be the cause of my pain. He is strong in the area of forgiveness and moving forward in vulnerability when he is hurt. Sometimes I think about him doing this and just wonder how he does it? How come he doesn’t respond the way I do? He must have super strength or be oblivious to the pain he should be experiencing. But that’s the beauty and they mystery of marriage that God designed… He partnered me with someone who can be my example and encourage me to become this woman God created me to be. Isn’t God good!

Reading List 2013

I have been so excited to get this list out. I actually made it in November and have been anxious to get started but have had to wait due to holiday travel and moving. I feel so blessed to have each one of these books (except the fiction) in hand. God really provided over the past year with thrift store and used book store and cheap amazon sales. I had been developing this list as I read book recommendations from my favorite blogs or books that were recommended at the end of some of the books I read last year and I would literally walk into a thrift store and browse the shelf and one of them would be sitting there for a buck or two! I really spent pennies on this collection and while there were a few books I wanted to add or replace with one on the list here I feel confident that God gave me these books to add to my library over this past year to be the ones for me to read currently. I don’t need to spend a penny this next year on books. Praise God for His provisions! Here goes!

Fiction:

  • The Sword by Bryan Litfin
  • The Gift by Bryan Litfin
  • The Kingdom by Bryan Litfin – These 3 books are called the Chiveis Trilogy. Adam and I happened upon them by fluke as I quickly ran into the library before our last drive from AZ back to CO and back to AZ the next week. We wanted something to listen to during the boring NM stretches. This was on the new release shelf for audio cd’s and I read the back and was so interested. I didn’t even realize it was the third book of a trilogy and that it was a Christian author and publisher! We listened to a little less than half during the drive (kiddos didn’t sleep much!) so now I want to start from the beginning and read them. They are very interesting! Similar to a LOTR type sci-fi book with a wonderful Christian undertone.

Marriage:

Parenting:

Christian Discipleship:

Other:

To Love Anyway

I read this today and thought it was wonderful. It is right in alignment with my favorite book of all time The Excellent Wife. This is one of my biggest challenges in marriage… loving Adam when I don’t feel like it. Making a choice to love him and show him love when he’s hurt me or I’m disappointed or my selfish and prideful needs aren’t being met or we’ve been fighting and I don’t feel like it’s been resolved… the list can go on and on. I am very much a conditional love-shower and this is something God has been highlighting as an area to work on with Him and His grace as He has shown me how I’ve begun to do this with Amelia based on her obedience. Martha Peace in the above book talked a lot about the most important thing for us as wives to do is to be obedient to what God commands us to do, want to know what God commands us to do in our marriage? Just read your Bible. “Forgive each other” (Ephesians 4:32), “Love your enemies” (Matthew 5:43-48), “Do not let the sun go down on your anger” (Ephesians 4:26), “Show respect to your husband always” (Ephesians 5:22-23), “Consider others better than yourself” (Philippians 2:3-4), etc., etc. The Bible is filled to the brim with character building commands and since we know God loves us and we know His commands are not a burden (1 John 5:3) because they will bring forth the fruit of the Spirit and the peace that surpasses understanding (Philippians 4:7), then we should delight in obeying ALL of His commands (Psalm 119:47) regardless of how our spouse is treating us.

To read the whole article series visit here

Anyway Love

To love anyway is to love like God – and to learn about God’s love for us.

 
Note: Names have been changed.

On Valentine’s Day, Meg* went all out, giving her husband, Peter,* his favorite candy and tickets to a hockey game. Later that night, she wrapped herself in a special outfit purchased just for the occasion.

Peter got her a card.

At the grocery store.

That he purchased on the way home from work.

He didn’t add anything to it, either. He just signed it, “Peter.”

A couple of days later, Meg tried to explain that she felt a little taken for granted. Apparently, Peter misunderstood her intent because two months later, when they celebrated their anniversary, Peter didn’t get Meg anything.

“How could you not get me anything for our anniversary?” she asked Peter the next day. “Especially after our conversation about Valentine’s Day.”

“Well, I thought about getting you something, but it didn’t work out,” he replied. “And then I knew not to get you a card because you said you didn’t like that last time.”

“It’s not that I didn’t like the card. It’s that the card alone seemed a little sparse. But even that is better than nothing …”

Several months later, Meg had a birthday. This time, Peter got her a present – a kitchen tool set. Several weeks before, Meg had asked to borrow Peter’s tape measure and screwdriver. Peter figured that Meg should have her own small set of kitchen tools so she didn’t have to borrow his.

Meg recounted all this and then explained how she had tried to get her husband to read several how-to books on loving your spouse. He would read the first few pages, lose interest and never pick the book up again.

“I’ve realized this is never going to change,” she confessed. “But I love him anyway.”

Because …

That last statement of Meg’s, “but I love him anyway,” is one of the most profound theological statements on marriage I’ve ever heard. Most of us base love on because, not on anyway. I love you because you’re good to me. I love you because you’re kind, because you’re considerate, because you keep the romance alive.

But in Luke 6:32-36, Jesus says we shouldn’t love because. We should love anyway. If we love someone because that person is good to us, or gives back to us, or is kind to us, we’re acting no better than anyone else. In essence, Jesus is saying you don’t need the Holy Spirit to love a man who remembers every anniversary – not just the anniversary of your marriage, but the anniversary of your first date and your first kiss. Any woman could love a man like that. Or if you love a wife who lavishes you with sports gifts, who goes out of her way to make you comfortable when you get home from work and who wants sex anytime you do – well, you’re doing what any man would do. There’s no special credit in that!

But if you love a spouse who disappoints you, who can be a little self-absorbed – now you’re loving anyway. In doing that, you’re following the model of the heavenly Father, who loves the ungrateful and the wicked.

… Or Anyway

Will you love only because? Or are you willing to love anyway? Will you love a man or woman who doesn’t appreciate your sacrifice? Will you love a husband or wife who takes you for granted? Will you love a spouse who isn’t nearly as kind to you as you are to him or her?

Just about every faithless marriage is based on because love. Christians are called to anyway love. That’s what makes us different. That’s what gives glory to God. That’s what helps us appreciate God’s love for us, because God loves us anyway. He gives and gives and gives – and we take Him for granted. He is eager to meet with us, and we get too busy to notice Him. He is good to us, and we accuse Him mercilessly when something doesn’t go just the way we planned it.

But God loves us anyway. To love anyway is to love like God – and to learn about God’s love for us.

That’s love, the way God intended it.

This article first appeared in the Couples Edition of the January, 2007 issue of Focus on the Family magazine. Copyright © 2007, Gary Thomas. All rights reserved. International copyright secured. Used by permission.

Family and Personal Goals 2012

This is kind of delayed to make a post of my goals for the year but I realized I should since I just finally posted my Home Management Binder post and now should share with you the details of the binder. Besides, it’s always good to do a halfway evaluation of your goals since we’re a little over halfway done with 2012 (can you believe it?!?!). So here are the goals I made for the year with my added revisions due to some life changes.

Personal Goals:

  • Walk in obedience to God’s Word (Psalm 1:1-3)
  • Be intentional with my time (Ephesians 5:17)
  • Make (and use) a Home Management Binder (Proverbs 31:27)
  • Watch less TV and spend more time reading (Philippians 4:8)
  • Memorize one Scripture each week (Deuteronomy 6:6-9)
  • Read the 12 books on my reading list (1 book each month)
  • Insanity workouts (3 days per week) (Proverbs 31:17)
  • Practice Spanish online (30 mins. 2 days per week)
  • Practice Piano (30 mins. 2 days per week) This is no longer an option for me since we no longer have an access to a piano for our current living situation
  • Be aware of my priorities (God, Adam, kiddos, family, friends, everyone else)
  • Weekly planning time to review, make changes and prepare for the week ahead
  • Bi-Weekly planning time to plan meals 2 weeks at a time

Marriage Goals:

  • Have a prayer time with Adam at least once a week
  • Date night once a week Again, this had to change due to Adam’s rigorous work schedule for the golf season and moving away from family again
  • Find one way to encourage Adam each week

Parenting Goals:

  • Implement Bible reading at mealtimes (Proverbs 22:6) This one has been hard because I have found with little kids and sticky hands our Bible is getting really messy and it is hard to read and eat at the same time so we have revised this with Bible reading during our “Circle Time” as well as before naptime and bedtime
  • Spend one day a week at the library and one day a week at the park/zoo
  • Spend 30 minutes – 1 hour each day (except library and park/zoo day) either doing “learning time” or “craft time”.  This has changed since I originally made out these goals since we started homeschooling Amelia for Preschool this August!
  • Challenge myself to not turn on the TV for Amelia when I’m trying to get something done but instead set up a self-play activity for her (reading, play dough, coloring, etc.)
  • Bible reading and bedtime prayers every night

Reading List 2012

Updated: 10/7/12

 I have spent the last few weeks working on my Home Management Binder as I described in my post here. Well, I sort of described… it is such a work in progress that I’m not quite sure when I will post pictures and a full description of what is in the binder (I get giddy even thinking about sharing it!!!). But I have been spending time praying and seeking God’s wisdom in how to live my life more intentionally and making the most of every opportunity (Ephesians 5:17) and it has resulted in making a list of personal goals for the year, encouraging scripture to memorize, practical lists like a meal planner and to-do list, etc., and a book reading list for the year with a goal to read 12 books this year. So… here is my list:

To see any book reviews on these books please go to the Book Review tab at the top of the blog.

 Fiction:

 The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins  I just finished this 2 nights ago! My first finished book in 2012!

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins 

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

The Parting by Beverly Lewis

Marriage:

 The Fruit of Her Hands by Nancy Wilson My new favorite book!

The Power of a Praying Wife by Stormie Omartian

 The Excellent Wife by Martha Peace (I added this book in May after seeing it on a woman’s bookshelf who I someday aspire to be like… she has all the qualities of a Proverbs 31 woman and is an amazing Christian woman following God hard for her life. So I figured if she read it then I should read it!)

Parenting:

 The Shaping of a Christian Family by Elisabeth Elliot 

Instructing a Child’s Heart by Tedd Tripp I have changed my mind about reading this book this year and I am going to cross it off and save it for another year.

 Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Tedd Tripp – This is a re-read as this book was so fundamental to me understanding discipline based on God’s desires and what the Bible says but we read it right after Amelia was born and her temperament now is much different than then!!!

 The Power of a Praying Parent by Stormie Omartian

 Standing on the Promises by Douglas Wilson

Dare to Discipline by James Dobson

Christian Discipleship:

 The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis

 Biblical Womanhood in the Home by Nancy Leigh DeMoss

The Practice of Godliness by Jerry Bridges – I added this one in August after finding it again at a local thrift store for 50 cents! This morning I felt God telling me that He wanted me to do some more studying on the fruit of the spirits and I was wishing for my Beth Moore study on the fruit of the spirits which is in Arizona in our storage boxes! Well, I checked my bookshelf and looked at the Table of Contents in this book and it was perfect! I am excited to read this as the most important way to improve and grow in my roles as a wife and mother is to improve and grow in my relationship with the Lord and His character and there’s no better way than to grow in the fruit of the spirits!

 Other:

 Organic Housekeeping by Ellen Sandbeck 

Mother Food by Hilary Jacobson – I decided to add this book in March since Joshua is underweight and our Dr. has encouraged us to find some way to supplement and increase calories to speed up his weight gain. The subtitle for this book is “A Breastfeeding Diet Guide with Lactogenic Foods and Herbs – Build Milk Supply, Boost Immunity, Lift Depression, Detox, Lose Weight, Optimize a Baby’s IQ, and Reduce Colic and Alergies”. My little growing man is in need of my increase in milk supply as I am determined to continue feeding him only from the breast and without adding formula for weight gain.

Natural Childbirth after Cesearean by Karis Crawford – I added this book in September once we found out we were pregnant with our third baby. After my trial visit to a midwives office they had this book for loan and I borrowed it since I am going to have a VBAC with this baby (Joshua was breech requiring a c-section).

Commitment Part Two

I have been reading an article from the Focus on the Family website regarding Commitment in marriages. I wrote a little about this article in this post here. To highlight some of the information these are some of the thought provoking words from the author Shaunti Feldhahn:

 + Commitment is a decision to have the abundant marriage God desires, regardless of circumstances or whether you think your spouse is doing his or her part. This includes: > Realizing that marriage is an unbreakable covenant before God > Choosing to “do it until you feel it.” > Focusing on the good in our spouse and the sin in ourselves instead of the other way around > Engaging in Christian community, prayer and discipleship especially when you don’t want to > Relying on God to help you act selflessly toward your spouse

 + Chose to make wise decisions. Don’t rely on feelings or emotions when the going gets tough. Our feelings don’t carry us to the right dcisions; rather right decisions carry us to right emotions – and positive rewards. Here are a few ways you can exercise your will over your emotions; Decide to take “divorce” out of your dictionary > Decide to choose joy (If you go looking for happiness as the goal, you’ll never find it, because you have no control over circumstance and you don’t have control over your spouse. But you do have control over yourself and your emotions. If you choose joy, soon you will find you have it) > Decide to be the best (Both spouses can’t just wait it out to see who will step up to the plate and be the bigger, better person. Someone has to choose to serve the other in love first)

 + We live in a “maybe I do” world. There’s a big difference between “I do” and “maybe I do”. When marriage gets tough, and it will at some point, you need the assurance that I chose this; I’m going to do whatever it takes to make it work. Otherwise, it’s too easy to say to yourself, I never really signed on for this.

 + Only with Christ at the center of our marriage, at the center of our home, at the center of everything we do, can we experience the greatest joy and fulfillment possible. It is Christ alone who gives us the power to love others this way.

 Colossians 3:12-14 “Clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”

 To read the whole 8 page article series you can go to
 

“We do” for better or for worse …

… no matter how exhausting marriage can be : )

Commitment Part One

This is a great little article from the Focus on the Family website. Take some time to read it, it’s very insightful! And if you want to read more from this short series you can visit the series online at:

http://www.focusonthefamily.com/marriage/strengthening_your_marriage/commitment.aspx

The Half-Hearted Marriage
Commitment means making a choice to give up other choices.
by Scott Stanley

Why Do Couples Fear Commitment?


Commitment means making a choice to give up other choices. This simple truth explains why marriage can be so difficult. We don’t like to give up options in life, and our culture screams at us to hang on to them all. But great marriages are based on a deep commitment that casts aside all options but one.

 More and more couples fear committing in marriage because they have seen so many marriages fail. Since marriage seems so much like gambling, many hedge their bets. For example, many couples live together to test their relationship, even though studies show that living together before marriage increases the risk of divorce.

 Likewise, 94 percent of singles believe that finding one’s soul mate is crucial for marital success. Too often this belief compels singles to search for the perfect mate – someone who does not exist. Fear of making a mistake contributes to this way of thinking.

 Sliding vs. Deciding

 Reluctance to make a clear choice can lead to a tentative relationship that fails to build lasting love. It has become common to make all sorts of relationship changes without a clear commitment in marriage; this includes having sex, living together and having children. Even once married, people slide into things that are immensely important without really planning. For example, many couples slide into huge credit card debt without talking together about how they are using money. Similarly, and more important, too many couples slide into having children without ever deciding together to be the best parents they can be.

 Deciding is very different than sliding. The word decide comes from a root word meaning “to cut.” You cannot make a commitment without deciding to cut off other options that compete against what is most important.

 Gender Differences

 My associates and I have been researching commitment and sacrifice in marriage for years and have been finding fascinating differences between how the average man and woman operate. How the typical man feels about sacrificing for his wife or girlfriend is strongly linked to his commitment to the future with her. Think of sacrifice as all the small, medium and large acts in a relationship when one partner gives up something for the other without resentment. A man tends to give most completely to a woman once he has decided, She is my future.

 In contrast, research suggests that women begin sacrificing when they have developed a strong emotional bond with a man. In some relationships, this means that the woman will give up a lot for her man long before he does the same for her. After years of sacrificing, she may end up shocked to find that he won’t commit.

 Choose This Day

 We live in a “maybe I do” world. There’s a big difference between “I do” and “maybe I do.” You do not need to have said the vow “as long as we both shall love” to be living that way. You are not committed if you have not decided to give up other options and give your all. Sadly, many couples never reach their greatest potential in closeness because their commitment never became clear enough to provide the security essential for true intimacy. Further, more couples than ever have gone too far down the relationship path by sliding rather than deciding.

 When marriage gets tough – and it will get tough at some point – you need the assurance that I chose this; I’m going to do whatever it takes to make it work. Otherwise, it’s too easy to say to yourself, I never really signed on for this.

 If that sounds like you, you can still decide, today, to commit to your marriage. Marriages thrive when both partners make choices, each day, for their mate, their marriage and their families.

 Ecclesiastes 11:4 says, “Whoever watches the wind will not plant; whoever looks at the clouds will not reap” (NIV). We live in a world of wind watchers. Are you waiting until conditions are perfect before you commit to your marriage? 

This article first appeared in the Couples Edition of the January, 2007 issue of Focus on the Family magazine. Copyright © 2007, Scott Stanley. All rights reserved. International copyright secured.

And for those of you who made it to the end, here’s little joke for reward:

 I remember reading of an elderly couple whose family had thrown a golden anniversary party for them. The husband was deeply touched by their kindness and stood to thank them. Then he looked at his wife of 50 years and tried to put into words just how he felt about her. Lifting his glass he said: “My dear wife, after 50 years I’ve found you tried and true.” Everyone smiled their approval, but not his wife. She had hearing trouble, so she cupped one hand behind an ear and said, “Eh?” Her husband repeated himself loudly, “AFTER FIFTY YEARS I’VE FOUND YOU TRIED AND TRUE!” His wife shot back, “Well, let me tell YOU something — after 50 years I’m tired of you, too!”