April 1, 2014

How To Strengthen Your Marriage

Hey y'all, today's post is about caring for your marriage. I've really felt called this year to write about marriage, in an honest way. It's crazy I think that God would call me to this. Me, the girl who dreamed in color over romance. The one who obsessed over the idea of love and wanted marriage more than all else. The woman who just a few years later was ready to throw in the towel over the difficulty of her marriage.

Can I just say something here, maybe for you today? Marriage is hard. I don't think this is said (in a helpful way) enough in Christian community. Like it's said all the time about parenting, universally accepted. Marriage is hard too. Churches often offer pre-marital counseling, wedding ceremonies, and divorce care ministries, but what's being spoken about daily married life? Do you feel like you're being championed for your marriage? Do you know if God's word has anything on how to do this everyday love? You know, beyond 1st Corinthians?

I can say a stronger yes to these questions as Nate & I recently went to a Weekend To Remember event. It was a unique opportunity to be in a setting where Christian servant-leaders were actively seeking to guide and to restore marriage relationships. It was like the first time the larger Christian culture spoke the message that my marriage mattered & offered up some practical tools for real life. Through the generous pastor's scholarship offered to us we were able to attend the conference for free. Praise God for this because regular tickets were $300/couple for the conference not adding in meals/optional hotel room, which makes for quite an investment for most couple's financial status. So where can we look for a free marriage boost?

3 {free} ways to boost strong marriages:

1. Turn to God & God-breathed Truth {aka the Bible}

2 Timothy 3:16-17 & James 5:16 really backs this up. These might seem like the hardest or even the most predictable ways to find strength, but just throw some faith out to God & see what He will do.

2. Utilize Family-focused Ministries

This is the best if you're looking for perspective on something topical like "temptation in marriage" or "dealing with conflict". Some of my go-to sites are: Focus On The Family, Relevant, and Family Life. Both Focus on the Family & Relevant offer free/cheap print magazine subscriptions. Family Life puts on Weekend To Remember. If you are a military/ministry family you may qualify for an event scholarship.

3. Simply Be Real

Be real with your spouse. Learn to love in action and in truth. Be real with your friends, family, and church community. Paint a picture of the beauty and struggle of a real marriage, what life really looks life after the aisle. You never know when someone's watching you to see how marriage can be done. Let the world know you don't have it all together, that your marriage isn't perfect. Celebrate the realness of your marriage.

It's your turn friend, comment with where you find strength for marriage...

p.s. This post is not sponsored in any way. This is to encourage you in ways I've been encouraged.

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March 17, 2014

And You Will Sing.

This post is being written later than I ever hoped, you know the one to follow up this one about struggle, but life's been full lately friends. I'm thankful for the lovely mess of it all. 

So catching up from my last post...tears yes, tears come when you can't do much to anything about your situation. Tears when fears fill up fast. Tears when the suffering is long and hope is distant. Tears when you see others so "blessed" and you wonder if God cares for you, if He sees you, if He remembers you. These hours are lonely and hard. And this verse lingers over me now: Psalm 126:5-6. The verse I wept with in singleness. In purpose stuckness. In heartache of all kind. Let it speak here too.

And now, God, DO IT AGAIN-bring rains to our drought-stricken lives So those who planted their crops in despair will shout HURRAHS at the harvest, So those who went off with heavy hearts will come home LAUGHING, with armloads of blessing. [The Message]

Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy. Those who go out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will RETURN WITH SONGS of joy, carrying sheaves with them. [NIV]

Those who sow in tears shall reap in joy. He who continually goes forth weeping, bearing seed for sowing, shall DOUBTLESS come again with rejoicing, 
bringing his sheaves with him. [NKJV]

Isn't that Jesus when heavy, empty hearts grow with joyful enthusiasm & in time with plenty!! Isn't it God's kingdom when the poor in spirit are the blessed? Isn't there so much room for Him to respond? For God to be God? And you'll see it...

When Christian women come into your life graciously meeting fellowship and financial needs. So you can pay that electricity bill and that student loan bill. You aren't forgotten. You aren't a failure. You cry big sloppy joyful tears when this truth sinks into your soul: "Listen, my dear brothers and sisters: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him?" (James 2:5) Shame lifts. You are chosen to be rich in faith and you will inherit!

When your family sends a coat, snow pants and boots unexpectedly in the mail. When other family provide outfit after outfit so that your daughter is so richly dressed you wonder why you worried. Her drawers and closet overflowing with adorable goodness. And you wanted to chase after earthly things. You were desperate, too desperate trying to do it yourself. Disobedient really. And God led you this way: "But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." (Matthew 6:33)

When you feel wronged and you learn to grow rich in grace. Because grace wins. You see the beauty of it. You feel His grace fill in the broken places of your life and you want to be more like the treasure the Lord is. "He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins." (Ephesians 1:7) 

I'm really thankful for all the need, all the want in my life. It moves me to trust, to let go of control, to greater gentleness, and most hopefully, to the Father. 

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