Category Archives: Marriage

The Dying to Self Series

stretchingA situation with a dear loved one had me reviewing my blog for the series of posts I did on “Dying to Self”. I thought I’d repost the links for them here, in case anyone else is wanting a refresher.

Here’s a quote from my first one titled, Exploring Dying to Self:

“The path toward humility is death to self. When self is dead, humility has been perfected. Jesus humbled Himself unto death, and by His example the way is opened for us to follow. A dead man or woman does not react to an offense. The truth is, if we become offended by the words of others, then death to self has not been finished. When we humble ourselves despite injustice and there is perfect peace of heart, then death to self is complete. Death is the seed, while humility is the ripened fruit.” Alice Smith

In another one, Dying to Self in Marriage, I share a list of ways we all feel entitled. Taken from Nancy Leigh DeMoss’s book Lies Women Believe:

“Today it is assumed that,

  • you have a right to be happy
  • you have a right to be understood
  • you have a right to be loved
  • you have a right to a certain standard of living, to an equitable wage, and to decent benefits
  • you have a right to a good marriage
  • you have a right to companionship and romance
  • you have a right to be treated with respect in the workplace
  • you have a right to be valued by your husband and appreciated by your children
  • you have a right to a good night’s sleep
  • you have a right to have your husband pitch in with the household chores

And most important, if any of your rights are violated, you have the right to protest. You have a right to be angry. You have a right to be depressed. You have a right to take action. You have a right to insist on your rights!”

Lies, indeed. No freedom there.

In The Sting of Dying to Self, we are reminded at what great cost our sins and selfishnesses are to our relationships, and that it all adds up to DENYING God by our DEEDS, even when we profess Him from our lips…we see how important denying SELF is. It helps us proclaim Christ.

Titus 1:15-16,

“To the pure, all things are pure; but to those who are defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure, but both their mind and their conscience are defiled. They profess to know God but by their deeds they deny Him…”

In Are You Willing? we see through the Messianic prophecies in Isaiah 50:4-9 how the process works:

It’s a process. If you start applying it at the beginning (vs 4) by committing to reading God’s word, and from His word/prayer learning His will for your life (vs 5), practicing being obedient (vs 5 and 6), getting in the habit of bucking this world system in favor of doing right (vs 7), coming back to God to fill you up because suffering is part of Christianity (vs 8 ), and getting to the point that this process is second nature. All your priorities fall in line because of your continual desire to put God and His ways first (vs 9).

And finally, in Grace for the Weary, we see more Messianic prophecies, like this from Isaiah 42:3 and more,

“A bruised reed He (God the Son) will not break, and a dimly burning wick He will not extinguish.” Isaiah 42:3 (parentheses mine)

Have you ever felt like a dimly burning wick? This post takes the topic of callings, in particular, our family’s calling to homeschool. But I think it applies to whatever your particular “burn out” may be. Get your vision back and go for it!

Be sure to check out these older blog posts for the great scriptures alone. There’s a wealth of encouragement there for every problem known unto man.

Would love to hear your thoughts on dying to self. :O)

Great Marriage Advice

Earlier this year I was blog-gathering at all my favorite stops and came across a powerful comment made in response to a post…the testimony in this comment is awesome, and I contacted the author and asked for her permission in sharing it here with you all. Hope it blesses!

Sharon said…

Hi there.. I have hope for you!!

It is possible to resurrect your marriage!!

Our marriage has got so much better.. and sometimes I could just almost burst for the happiness I feel because it just keeps getting better!!

Here is what I did..

I started to faith talk in prayer about him.. No longer would I talk about his faults.. no matter how many there were.. I spoke blessings over his life.. I still speak blessings over those things I want to see come to pass..

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

Heb 11:1 Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.

Apologise for anything that you have said that has cursed him.. I don’t just mean swear words.. but anything that could/would open the door for the evil one.. Even being angry and saying how you feel can hurt him.. I say this because your happiness.. and dreams cannot rest on him.. they must rest with the Lord.. Nobody else can bring us peace and joy like Jesus can.. That is a big burden to carry trying to please someone..

The thing is.. God loves your husband as much as He loves you.. and you have faults too.. When God looks at you.. He isn’t trying to see your faults.. but He loves you because you are you!! And He pours Himself out to you because He loves you.. :)

You need to start loving your husband that way too.. The way God loves you.. I know there is anger.. hurt.. disappointment.. maybe bitterness.. I had all those.. but love like the 1 Corinthians 13 love overlooks those things.. and is patient.. kind.. gentle… long suffering..

Speak good about him in front of your children.. with your friends and let him hear you do that.. and praise him for all that he is doing right and praise God for his being with you and for him.. Even if you can only think of one thing to say well of him.. Do so!! I know there will be healing here..

Think of how good it feels when someone praises you.. builds you up.. start doing that for your husband.. It makes me cry tears to think of that sort of love.. especially if we might not deserve it..

Ask God to help you do this too.. It does work.. I don’t know what will happen for you both and how.. but I know love works..

That kind of love drew me to God.. and it helps me love my husband and find the joy of marriage.. and my husband has changed so much.. It really had nothing to do with me.. I just loved him and spoke well about him.. I know God did the rest..

He has become a friend and attentive to my needs and I now enjoy looking to meet his needs.. and it makes me cry to think of just how sweet our relationship is.. I could not have believed it would get this good!!

Bless him.. do good to him.. and let your heart be at peace.. Speak in faith the things you desire for your marriage.. your family.. and those things will start to come to pass!!

I will pray for you.. Satan has no foothold at all when love flows..

Christian love from Sharon

Generation NeXt Marriage Blog Tour

generationnextmarriage.jpg Who are the Gen Xer’s? The forty-one million Americans born in the 60’s, 70’s or 80’s. According to Tricia Goyer’s awesome new book, Generation NeXt Marriage, we of Generation X are serious about life. We want successful marriages, yet we’re realistic and a bit overwhelmed from “the techno-stress that 24/7 communication such as cell phones, e-mail, and instant messaging has brought about. We’ve bought into following our dreams and finding our purpose. Yet we struggle to balance our spouse, kids, ministry, work, and service. ”

Let me say right off that Tricia Goyer is fast becoming my favorite non-fiction author. After reading several of her books, I feel akin to her sisterhood. She definitely has a way of relating that somehow leaves me feeling as though I’ve just poured my heart out to a great Christian girlfriend. Talk about encouraged!

How to narrow my enthusiasm down to one blog post? Not possible. You’ll definitely be hearing more from me on this book as I get time to write here and share more of my thoughts. Yes, it’s that good.

For today, I want to focus on Chapter 13, sub-titled, Conflict Resolutions for Couples. Main title: Love is a Battlefield.

I have to laugh at the thoughts that went through my mind as I began reading this particular chapter. They took me back almost fifteen years to a hot July morning and a dusty, gravel road. I was walking with a neighbor, my newlywed self no doubt chatting on about married life when my friend happened to ask me, “So how do you and your husband fight?”

My blank-faced response had her hurrying to explain. She told me how she’d learned to fight from her parents. Throwing things, defending vulnerable body parts, etc. That nearly every fight she and her dh had left their home a wreck. But making up sure was fun! So back to her question, how do you guys fight things out?

Um, we didn’t! Not like that, and not often even in minor disagreements. We still don’t, this many years later. So this statement from Tricia really stood out to me:

“I’ve seen many couples give in to resignation. In fact, I grew up in a home like that for many years. I never saw my parents have screaming fights. Yet I never really saw them laughing, talking, or having fun together either. After a while, it seemed as if they didn’t care.

It has taken time for me to realize that lack of conflict in a marriage should not be the goal. No one wants an emotionless marriage, but rather one in which the conflict is as carefully tended to as the romance, the care, and the consideration.”

Ouch. All these years of thinking what a great marriage we have, and now this! But there’s so much truth here. For several years now I’ve realized how quick I am to avoid conflict. Sure, I have some deep hurts within me, none I would blame directly on my spouse, but enough things have happened in our relationship that I know what triggers to avoid and what things to leave unspoken. I love my man sooooo much, and he loves me, of that there’s no doubt. But I do know there is room for a much deeper relationship.

Tricia says that when it comes to conflict, there are two important things to remember:

  1. Closeness fosters conflict.
  2. Through conflict, we can grow closer to our spouses and to God.

She quotes the following from Gary Smalley’s, Marriage You’ve Always Dreamed Of:

“Conflict is not something to be avoided but something to be navigated. If we want to get to the deeper levels of a relationship, we have to go through conflict. By entering the door of conflict, we learn more about each other and our relationship.”

Now I’m not advocating fist-fights or sudden outbursts of self-justified offensive action here! And neither is Tricia Goyer. But sometimes suppressing a slew of grievances can come back to haunt you, you know? Better to inter-depend upon one another, than try to handle the most sensitive of subjects independently. Right?

And for more from that chapter on handling conflict–from identifying and confessing failures to your spouse to forgiveness and regaining of trust–you’ll have to buy the book!

Book Description

Do you still find yourself humming the love songs of the 80s and 90s?triciapressphoto2.jpg

Do you still believe that every marriage should be between soul mates?


But — do you wonder how you can succeed at love and marriage when the generation you grew up in didn’t?


Marriage isn’t what it used to be-it can be better than ever.


If you are a Gen Xer, your marriage has challenges and potentials that no other generation has known. A Gen Xer herself, Tricia Goyer offers realistic help to achieve the God-ho
noring marriage you long for. She includes:

·Ways to protect your marriage despite the broken relationships modeled in your youth

·Stories, suggestions, and confessions from fellow Gen Xers facing the “What now?” question of real-life marriage

·Advice from the ultimate marriage survival guide: the Bible

·Stats, quizzes, sidebars, and study questions related to this “relationally challenged” time in history


·Practical helps for negotiating kids, work, sex, money, and dirty laundry-sometimes all
in the same evening

If you are part of a generation of adults who don’t want to bow to their culture or live and love like their parents did — this book is for you.

WIN A FREE COPY OF Generation NeXt Marriage!

To enter, just leave a comment on this post. One week from today I’ll announce the winner!

Love Gen X Style! Share your story and WIN a dinner for TWO to the restaurant of your choice! ($50 maximum)

Tell us the story of how you and your spouse met. If you have photos, send those along, too! The winning story will be chosen at the end of the blog tour and will be posted on Tricia’s GenX blog. More comments on your post increases your chance of winning … so tell your friends!

Contest entry form for Generation NeXt Marriage blog tour

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Go here for a sneak peek: Book excerpt

And to this link to hear What people are saying about Generation NeXt Marriage

But honestly, even if you are not a Gen Xer, this is a must-read for strengthening your marriage. Buy the book! (Or comment on this post to get your name in the drawing for a free copy!)

And lastly, be sure and visit Tricia Goyer’s website at http://triciagoyer.com

Great Advice

When asked what advice she would leave to her children and grandchildren Mama Shoe gave these reminders:

Learn to forgive others. Throughout your life you will have occasion to be hurt by people—sometimes really and sometimes just perceived. Whether they are bad people who have taken advantage of you or injured you in some way, or good folks from your church that hurt you, you must learn to forgive. It may be more difficult to forgive the “good” people because you didn’t expect it from them, but you must be active and generous in forgiving as a way of life. God has said, “Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy” (Matthew 5:7). Remember, He has been very forgiving of you!

All you kids: Read your Bible and pray every day!

Never let anything come between you and your spouse for more than a few hours. Your dad and I didn’t, and that is why you’ve heard us say to people about our marriage, “Yep, thirty years and still sweethearts.” That has been totally the Lord, but He has taught us keep “short accounts” with each other.

My favorite book is “Humility, The Beauty of Holiness,” by Andrew Murray. God has used it to teach me that “more of Him and less of me” is the key to living a useful and happy life for the Lord and others. God made us like a light bulb, but unless the switch is on and the power flows we cannot shine and are useless. When I’m proud God can’t move in my life, but when I get a glimpse of how big and wonderful my Father is and how small but loved I am as His daughter, He is able to do mighty things in me and through me. “God is oppose to the proud but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6). When we humble ourselves God’s power flows to us and makes us what could never be without Him. Jesus is our example of humility as He subjected Himself to the suffering of the cruel cross in order to save us from sin’s effects. Humility is a beautiful quality—cultivate it in your own life and look for it in a possible life partner.

“Just one life; t’will soon be past. Only what’s done for Christ will last.”

I love you all. ~Gail

Gail is a dear friend from many years past who is now suffering from an inoperable stage 3 brain tumor. Perhaps you remember me asking for prayer for her and her family a couple months ago? She needs it still. Please keep them in your prayers. These days are especially precious to them, as she’s losing her ability to speak. As you can tell from her advice above, she is one genuinely lovely Christian lady.

 

Cowboy Up or Go Sit in the Truck

Great quote, isn’t it? I sure don’t want to spend my life ‘sitting in the truck’, missing out because I’m not willing to get my hands dirty. And getting your hands dirty is part of friendship, marriage, parenting, Christianity. It takes work.

It’s hard. It’s rewarding. It’s even fun with the right attitude.

Come over to Weekend Kindness this morning and read about how my girls and I had to ‘cowboy up’ for hubby a week ago. Literally.

Then come back here and share an unforgettable time when you had to ‘cowboy up’…

Have a great day!

Marriage: Serving With Gladness

You’ve heard that true happiness is found in serving others? We Christians especially should cultivate this bit of wisdom, following Christ’s example. Because when the focus is on us and our desires, we’re wide open to discontent and heartache, and the resentment that often follows repeated disappointments.

Of course, so much depends on your personality. Sloughing off hurtful things has always come easily to me. I remember telling my childhood friend Myrtle, at age 5, that I was so mad at her I was never going to speak to her again! Less than an hour later I was back at her house making peace. And because of that, I realized at a tender age, that it was never worth it to harbor resentment.

Two Happy People

 

It’s served me well in marriage. Again, my dh rarely shows his frustration, but the times that he has directed it at me it’s been easier to immediately forgive and dismiss it as him having a bad day, than to bite back and turn the whole evening into a tension-smoldering reactive ground zero.

Here’s an example of how “serving others” has grown and stretched me in my marriage. You see, I realized on our first anniversary that I’d made an awful mistake. Huge. And I beat up on hubby for letting me make such a blunder.

Unbeknownst to me, we were married during the busiest time of year for a cowboy: cattle shipping. For you non-rural types, this is the time of year when all the pasture-fed cattle are rounded up and shipped off on cattle trucks to feedlots or elsewhere. On any given day from mid-July to early August, my cowboy will be up at 3:30 A.M. and put in a long morning/afternoon and then be completely wiped out that evening. This usually happens on our anniversary, and the weeks before and the weeks after. On our first few anniversaries, I saddled up and went with him. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have seen him that day. Not much fun, as you can imagine, spending your anniversary and birthday all alone back at the house.

We’ve tried celebrating our anniversary on August 24th, halfway between his birthday and mine, but we usually forget. And now that we have 3 children, my oldest is the one that gets to saddle up and go with dad, though she did stay home this year and spoiled me with cards, homemade gifts and even made me Pecan Blondies and hot tea and told me to grab a book and enjoy myself.

Due to finances this year, I told dh not to get me anything. We didn’t even exchange cards, but he kissed me good-bye (early!) and wished me a happy birthday. I proceeded to be blessed all day by my three sweet girls, and we made aApple Pie double batch of BBQ meatballs and scalloped potato casserole and an apple pie—all daddy’s favorites. We even had fun using the extra scraps of pie crust to make experimental apricot tarts.

My hubby got home from work, took a quick power nap and headed to his leather shop. He’s got a project and a deadline. Sad to say, it took three radio calls from me to his shop till he could wind things up and come over for our special supper. Everything was dished up and guess what? The phone rang.

I admit to being a little ticked at this point. After all, the food was getting cold! But it was someone calling in response to an ad we’d placed for several goats and border collies, so we girls sat at the table and played the “patience” game with toddler.

Finally he was able to end the call and come eat. And his enjoyment of the meal was gift enough for me. I knew he regretted his schedule keeping him from being with me, and our debts keeping us from splurging. I also know his love language is serving, and he’d taken time the night before to help me on a project of my own that had been waiting for his expertise.

In our first year of marriage, an anniversary spent without him, or without something special marking it would have found me seriously upset. Mostly because we all have a set idea of what husbands and wives are supposed to do on their anniversaries. We want this because it makes us feel cherished and appreciated. It is a good thing to celebrate every year of marriage! But in my situation, I’ve had to learn to look at the whole picture and realize that one day a year to celebrate isn’t near enough. Why hinge everything upon that one special day wishing for what you can’t have when every other day of the year I’m giving thanks for the wonderful man God gave me?

True happiness isn’t dependent on money, things, or big chunks of quality time. It’s in the everyday little things and in keeping our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith.

1 Peter 4:11, “…whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.” (NASB)

Psalm 100:2, “Serve the Lord with gladness…”

 

Happy Anniversary to Me (Wedding Pictures!)

Today is my 14th wedding anniversary! (And 32nd birthday…)bridegroom1.jpg

So long ago! Before dh’s hair thinned and when mine was gray-free. We were married in my grandparent’s small country Baptist church by my dad. This picture was taken before the afternoon ceremony.

I remember being worried that my intended wouldn’t be able to make it. July of ’93 was the summer of the huge flooding, and our future home, where he was staying, was surrounded by water. He reassured me that he’d take a boat, or ride horseback but he wouldn’t miss out on our wedding day!

Friday while we decorated the church, and all Saturday morning, I couldn’t get the oldie Chapel of Love by the Dixie Cups out of my head…

Spring is here
The sky is blue
(whoa-whoa-whoa)
Birds all sing
As if they knew
Today’s the day
We’ll say I do
And we’ll never be lonely anymore
Because we’re

Goin’ to the chapel and we’re
Gonna get married
Goin’ to the chapel and we’re weddingtrain.jpg
Gonna get married
Gee, I really love you and we’re
Gonna get married
Goin’ to the chapel of love

Finally two o’clock arrived. It’s not Princess Diana’s, but check out that train… bridegroom2.jpg

Now check out this couple, and chalk the cheesey smile to my poor cheeks hurting sooo bad! Couldn’t stop smiling all day!

The basement of the church was flooded, so we had to change our reception plans at the last mibridemaidofhonor.jpgnute and head over to another church to celebrate.

This is me and my maid of honor and best friend, Teresa, who sometimes comments here…we girls crushed into the front seat of my husband’s truck for the ride to the reception.

Can you tell it was the happiest day of my life?

I just love wedding pics. If it doesn’t infringe on your privacy, if you’re married and have a blog, I’d love to see a wedding picture of you and your honey. Just think of it as a “Happy Birthday to Mary” present. And for my non-blogging friends, I’d take one via email too… :)

You know, it could be the most fun meme yet!

The Way You Do

All Things Grow with LoveCrazy man of mine…last night I was tippy-toeing, standing on the bottom bunk, reaching up to hug our daughter good-night and before I know it, dh has me sitting on his shoulders and is waltzing me around the room! Scary, me almost 32 and him 35! All I have to say is, it’s a good thing we have 9 foot ceilings!

Then tonight, on the way home from town, we sang Lean On Me and The Way You Do The Things You Do and many other oldies to a tape he made me when we were dating…

He’s so much fun. I’m so glad I married me a laid-back one. Debi Pearl would label him a Mr. Steady. He’s my broom, as I tell our girls, ’cause, of course, as the song says, he swept me off my feet.

On two instances this weekend, I was in conversations in which the wives were sharing how upset their husbands got when asked to do anything. I think we all could find something to share when conversations take these turns…but to what end? Talking about it, only feeds the negativity, the discontentment. And for each of these “so-called” negative attributes, there’s often the flip side to our spouse that is pretty dandy if you ask me. Take my dh’s laid-back personality. Things don’t bother him. (Believe me, this can be a good or bad quality!)

Anyway, I came home after those chats, thinking about how wonderful my husband is. Yes, he’s got his faults (don’t we all?), but 14 years with him as well as observing other marital relationships, have taught me that happiness isn’t about perfect yards, and pristine properties. Nor is it about dwelling on the various truck skeletons we have decorating the premises, or the falling down barn we have yet to finish salvaging.

It’s the knowing that between you, your spouse and God, things are covered. There’s trust, respect, love, and a little bit of fun to keep things sweet. No. Matter. What.

The Best and Most Beautiful Things - Helen Keller

It’s a Hard Rock Country Life

My dad likes to say that God intended for man to live the agricultural lifestyle. After all, cities were first mentioned in relation to Cain’s destination after murdering Abel. Right? So I embrace the country life…it’s a healthy, wholesome, back-breaking way of life…

Think of the pioneers, and how they toiled carving the land into their own little chunks of heaven.Early Spring Flowers, Fence Post, TX

My topic today is on post-hole digging, because that’s what hubby and I did yesterday. The main deck stands, built and railed. We’re now ready to start on the “play area” which will extend from the main deck. Starting place? Four more post-holes coming up…wish it were as easy as it sounds.

Digging post holes is hard work, especially in our yard! Dig about nine inches down and you inevitably hit rock. Dh is an old hand at this, in fact, he’s built a T-shaped, taller-than-me, back rock breaker that when heaved high enough and slammed into the ground–rock pieces dent, then puff powder, and eventually break into pieces that you can fish out with what we call “jobbers”. Two or more feet (however much of this you can take)

down into the ground and you can finally set the 4×4″ post, level it, and pour concrete…

We did this for hours. Taking turns with the tools. Seeing who could get their hole the deepest. Marital bonding. Really!

Sore shoulders and back aside, another benefit to country life is that your children grow up unafraid of getting their hands dirty.

Example: My toddler brought an earthworm to me, and while watching it twine around her index finger she said: “Isn’t it so cute, Mommy?”

Yes, it’s the hard rock life for us.