Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Won't You Let Me Change?!

"A good marriage is one which allows for change and growth in the individuals and in the way they express their love." ~ Pearl S. Buck

As I was looking through marriage quotes this morning I came across this one and it really made me think. I've talked before about the fact that so often when we get married we think we can change our spouse and the dangers of that kind of thinking. But what happens when they start to change on their own?

My husband and I got married when we were 18 and neither of us had any idea of what we were supposed to be doing. We didn't know how to be married and naively thought there wouldn't be much to it (don't laugh too hard!). What we very quickly ended up with was a huge mess! During this time we both began to expect certain behaviors from each other, these were the behaviors we had been showing so it was completely natural to expect them from one another. However, after some major events in our marriage we both began to change and work really hard to fix the mess of a marriage that we had. At that point I discovered just how hard it can be to allow a person to change!

I would make a mistake and expect my husband to react in an irrational angry way, but he wouldn't. I would get angry at him and pick a fight expecting him to fight back, but he wouldn't. I almost started looking for ways to test him to see if he was really different and for a while I was shocked every time he proved that he was. Then I went through a phase of punishing him for how he used to be. Even though he hadn't responded negativity like he would have in the past, I expected him to so i'd punish him, just in case!

Over time I realized that him changing was just as much my responsibility as it was his. You see, he had to make the choice to actually change but I also had to allow him to change and learn how to react to the differences in him instead of what I expected from him. I had to stop treating him like the person he used to be and get to know this new wonderful man that had taken over. Once I did that I saw our marriage begin to transform!

So here's a few suggestions I have for someone dealing with a situation like this.

1. Appreciate the effort.
In order for someone to change something about their nature or habits, it takes a conscious effort on their part. When you are used to reacting in anger and you try to to change that about yourself it is HARD! Most likely they will not change instantly so there will be mess-ups along the way. Be sure they know you're aware of their effort and that you appreciate the work they're putting into it.

2. Be patient with them.
As I said, these are not changes that will happen instantly. The bigger and more difficult the change, the longer it will take and the more patient you will have to be with them.

3. Leave the past in the past!
If you know that your spouse is working to improve in a certain area, do not use that particular area as a weapon against them. Forgive them if you need to and! Neither of you will ever get anywhere if you are constantly bringing up past failures and throwing them in their face. I can tell you from experience that if you don't allow your spouse to grow and change they will stop wanting to grow and change and that's not a good place for either of you to be.

4. Encourage them.
Look for every opportunity you can find to lift them up and encourage them. It can be exhausting to work on changing things about yourself and it's very easy to feel like you're not doing any good at all. So find times to encourage them and tell them that they're doing a great job.

5. Pray for them.
Any change that a person makes in their personality or nature is done through the strength of Christ. It is not easy and it does take each person making a conscious choice and effort to do so, but the ability to change comes only from Him. With that being the case, take every opportunity to can to pray for your spouse in whatever area they are working on.

Change is often very difficult but it is a part of life. If you are married for more than a month you are going to see your spouse change, sometimes for the better and even sometimes for the worse. It is our job to support each other and lift each other up when those changes occur. It's so important that we remember to allow our spouses to make those changes!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Let's Talk About Talking

Over the past weekend I have dealt with a difficult situation with a family member and some very hurtful words have been said. Because of this I have decided to talk about the power of words again. I talked about the importance of your words in your marriage HERE so today I want to talk about the importance of your words in your other relationships.

One study I found stated that on average, women speak 20,000 words in a day and men speak on average about 6-7,000 words in a day. It's no surprise that us girls love to talk! We can talk about anything and everything with ten different people each day. We can hash over the same subject for three hours straight giving every single little detail and never get tired of talking. But how many of those words are negative? What do you speak over yourself? over your children and those around you?

As a parent it can be so easy to focus on the areas that you have failed and never see what you've done right. I could spend hours talking about all the areas I have failed my children over the last 6 years on being a mom but there is absolutely nothing positive about that! It does no good to my children or to myself. I could also list all the problems there are with my children and how some of the negative features of their personalities could ruin them as adults. But again, what good would it do?

Instead of speaking these negative words over them and over myself, I chose to speak positive life into these situations. Instead of saying "I'm a failure as a mom" I say "Through Christ, I am and will continue to be a successful mother". Instead of saying "My kids threw a fit so they must be horrible children" I say "They may have messed up but because Christ is in them they will grow to be over comers".

Proverbs 18:21 says "Death and life are in the power of the tongue". And Deuteronomy 30:19 says "Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live!"

Every day you have the choice to make, life or death, blessing or curses. Not only do you make this choice in your actions but remember that you make this choice in your words as well. The words you speak over yourself and those around you is just as important as the actions to walk out around them. Will you chose life or death? Will you chose blessing or cursing? Both options have been put before you and the choice is entirely up to you.

Friday, September 23, 2011

C.S. Lewis on Marriage PT 2

Here is the continuation of C.S. Lewis' chapter on marriage from "Mere Christianity" titled " Christian Marriage".

People get from books the idea that if you have married the right person you may expect to go on ‘being in love’ for ever. As a result, when they find they are not, they think this proves they have made a mistake and are entitled to a change — not realising that, when they have changed, the glamour will presently go out of the new love just as it went out of the old one. In this department of life, as in every other, thrills come at the beginning and do not last. The sort of thrill a boy has at the first idea of flying will not go on when he has joined the R.A.F. and is really learning to fly. The thrill you feel on first seeing some delightful place dies away when you really go to live there. Does this mean it would be better not to learn to fly and not to live in the beautiful place? By no means. In both cases, if you go through with it, the dying away of the first thrill will be compensated for by a quieter and more lasting kind of interest. What is more (and I can hardly find words to tell you how important I think this), it is just the people who are ready to submit to the loss of the thrill and settle down to the sober interest, who are then most likely to meet new thrills in some quite different direction. The man who has learned to fly and become a good pilot will suddenly discover music; the man who has settled down to live in the beauty spot will discover gardening.

This is, I think, one little part of what Christ meant by saying that a thing will not really live unless it first dies. It is simply no good trying to keep any thrill: that is the very worst thing you can do. Let the thrill go — let it die away — go on through that period of death into the quieter interest and happiness that follow — and you will find you are living in a world of new thrills all the time. But if you decide to make thrills your regular diet and try to prolong them artificially, they will all get weaker and weaker, and fewer and fewer, and you will be a bored, disillusioned old man for the rest of your life. it is because so few people understand this that you find many middle-aged men and women maundering about their lost youth, at the very age when new horizons ought to be appearing and new doors opening all round them. It is much better fun to learn to swim than to go on endlessly (and hopelessly) trying to get back the feeling you had when you first went paddling as a small boy.

Another notion we get from novels and plays is that ‘falling in love’ is something quite irresistible; something that just happens to one, like measles. And because they believe this, some married people throw up the sponge and give in when they find themselves attracted by a new acquaintance. But I am inclined to think that these irresistible passions are much rarer in real life than in books, at any rate when one is grown up. When we meet someone beautiful and clever and sympathetic, of course we ought, in one sense, to admire and love these good qualities. But is it not very largely in our own choice whether this love shall, or shall not, turn into what we call ‘being in love’? No doubt, if our minds are full of novels and plays and sentimental songs, and our bodies full of alcohol, we shall turn any love we feel into that kind of love: just as if you have a rut in your path all the rainwater will run into that rut, and if you wear blue spectacles everything you see will turn blue. But that will be our own I fault.

Before leaving the question of divorce, I should like to distinguish two things which are very often confused. The Christian conception of marriage is one: the other is the quite different question — how far Christians, if they are voters or Members of Parliament, ought to try to force their views of marriage on the rest of the community by embodying them in the divorce laws. A great many people seem to think that if you are a Christian yourself you should try to make divorce difficult for every one. I do not think that. At least I know I should be very angry if the Mahommedans tried to prevent the rest of us from drinking wine. My own view is that the Churches should frankly recognise that the majority of the British people are not Christians and, therefore, cannot be expected to live Christian lives. There ought to be two distinct kinds of marriage: one governed by the State with rules enforced on all citizens, the other governed by the Church with rules enforced by her on her own members. The distinction ought to be quite sharp, so that a man knows which couples are married in a Christian sense and which are not.
So much for the Christian doctrine about the permanence of marriage. Something else, even more unpopular, remains to be dealt with. Christian wives promise to obey their husbands. In Christian marriage the man is said to be the ‘head’. Two questions obviously arise here. (1) Why should there be a head at all — why not equality? (2) Why should it be the man?

(1) The need for some head follows from the idea that marriage is permanent. Of course, as long as the husband and wife are agreed, no question of a head need arise; and we may hope that this will be the normal state of affairs in a Christian marriage. But when there is a real disagreement, what is to happen? Talk it over, of course; but I am assuming they have done that and still failed to reach agreement. What do they do next? They cannot decide by a majority vote, for in a council of two there can be no majority. Surely, only one or other of two things can happen: either they must separate and go their own ways or else one or other of them must have a casting vote. If marriage is permanent, one or other party must, in the last resort, have the power of deciding the family policy. You cannot have a permanent association without a constitution.

(2) If there must be a head, why the man? Well, firstly, is there any very serious wish that it should be the woman? As I have said, I am not married myself, but as far as I can see, even a woman who wants to be the head of her own house does not usually admire the same state of things when she finds it going on next door. She is much more likely to say ‘Poor Mr X! Why he allows that appalling woman to boss him about the way she does is more than I can imagine.’ I do not think she is even very flattered if anyone mentions the fact of her own ‘headship’. There must be something unnatural about the rule of wives over husbands, because the wives themselves are half ashamed of it and despise the husbands whom they rule. But there is also another reason; and here I speak quite frankly as a bachelor, because it is a reason you can see from outside even better than from inside. The relations of the family to the outer world — what might be called its foreign policy — must depend, in the last resort, upon the man, because he always ought to be, and usually is, much more just to the outsiders. A woman is primarily fighting for her own children and husband against the rest of the world. Naturally, almost, in a sense, rightly, their claims override, for her, all other claims. She is the special trustee of their interests. The function of the husband is to see that this natural preference of hers is not given its head. He has the last word in order to protect other people from the intense family patriotism of the wife. If anyone doubts this, let me ask a simple question. If your dog has bitten the child next door, or if your child has hurt the dog next door, which would you sooner have to deal with, the master of that house or the mistress? Or, if you are a married woman, let me ask you this question. Much as you admire your husband, would you not say that his chief failing is his tendency not to stick up for his rights and yours against the neighbours as vigorously as you would like? A bit of an Appeaser?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

C.S. Lewis on Marriage

My husband's favorite author is the great C.S.Lewis. In regards to pretty much any subject he was a master and his writings and teaching just can't be touched. So for a little change of pace, and to give you all a small break from my ramblings, I have decided to post and entire chapter that C.S. Lewis wrote on marriage in his book "Mere Christianity" which is a book I highly recommend to anyone and everyone. It's a bit of a long chapter so i'm going to break it up over the next two days, which means that there will be no Fun Friday post this week. I hope you enjoy it and please feel free to leave any comments, thoughts or questions you may have about anything from this chapter. I will be sure to pass them all on to my husband since he is the C.S. Lewis expert in out family! I hope you enjoy...

Christian Marriage

The last chapter was mainly negative. I discussed what was wrong with the sexual impulse in man, but said very little about its right working — in other words, about Christian marriage. There are two reasons why I do not particularly want to deal with marriage. The first is that the Christian doctrines on this subject are extremely unpopular. The second is that I have never been married myself, and, therefore, can speak only at second hand. But in spite of that, I feel I can hardly leave the subject out in an account of Christian morals.
The Christian idea of marriage is based on Christ’s words that a man and wife are to be regarded as a single organism — for that is what the words ‘one flesh’ would be in modern English. And the Christians believe that when He said this He was not expressing a sentiment but stating a fact — just as one is stating a fact when one says that a lock and its key are one mechanism, or that a violin and a bow are one musical instrument. The inventor of the human machine was telling us that its two halves, the male and the female, were made to be combined together in pairs, not simply on the sexual level, but totally combined. The monstrosity of sexual intercourse outside marriage is that those who indulge in it are trying to isolate one kind of union (the sexual) from all the other kinds of union which were intended to go along with it and make up the total union. The Christian attitude does not mean that there is anything wrong I about sexual pleasure, any more than about the pleasure of eating. It means that you must not isolate that pleasure and try to get it by itself, any more than you ought to try to get the pleasures of taste without swallowing and digesting, by chewing things and spitting them out again.

As a consequence, Christianity teaches that marriage is for life. There is, of course, a difference here between different Churches: some do not admit divorce at all; some allow it reluctantly in very special cases. It is a great pity that Christians should disagree about such a question; but for an ordinary layman the thing to notice is that the Churches all agree with one another about marriage a great deal more than any of them agrees with the outside world. I mean, they all regard divorce as something like cutting up a living body, as a kind of surgical operation. Some of them think the operation so violent that it cannot be done at all; others admit it as a desperate remedy in extreme cases. They are all agreed that it is more like having both your legs cut off than it is like dissolving a business partnership or even deserting a regiment. What they all disagree with is the modern view that it is a simple readjustment of partners, to be made whenever people feel they are no longer in love with one another, or when either of them falls in love with someone else.

Before we consider this modern view in its relation to chastity, we must not forget to consider it in relation to another virtue, namely justice. Justice, as I said before, includes the keeping of promises. Now everyone who has been married in a church has made a public, solemn promise to stick to his (or her) partner till death. The duty of keeping that promise has no special connection with sexual morality: it is in the same position as any other promise. If, as modern people are always telling us, the sexual impulse is just like all our other impulses, then it ought to be. treated like all our other impulses; and as their indulgence is controlled by our promises, so should its be. If, as I think, it is not like all our other impulses, but is morbidly inflamed, then we should be specially careful not to let it lead us into dishonesty.
To this someone may reply that he regarded the promise made in church as a mere formality and never intended to keep it. Whom, then, was he trying to deceive when he made it? God? That was really very unwise. Himself? That was not very much wiser. The bride, or bridegroom. or the ‘in-laws’? That was treacherous. Most often, I think, the couple (or one of them) hoped to deceive the public. They wanted the respectability that is attached to marriage without intending to pay the price: that is, they were impostors, they cheated. If they are still contented cheats, I have nothing to say to them: who would urge the high and hard duty of chastity on people who have not yet wished to be mere honest? If they have now come to their senses and want to be honest, their promise, already made, constrains them. And this, you will see, comes under the heading of justice, not that of chastity. If people do not believe in permanent marriage, it is perhaps better that they should live together unmarried than that they should make vows they do not mean to keep. It is true that by living together without marriage they will be guilty (in Christian eyes) of fornication. But one fault is not mended by adding another: unchastity is not improved by adding perjury.

The idea that ‘being in love’ is the only reason for remaining married really leaves no room for marriage as a contract or promise at all. If love is the whole thing, then the promise can add nothing; and if it adds nothing, then it should not be made. The curious thing is that lovers themselves, while they remain really in love, know this better than those who talk about love. As Chesterton pointed out, those who are in love have a natural inclination to bind themselves by promises. Love songs all over the world are full of vows of eternal constancy. The Christian law is not forcing upon the passion of love something which is foreign to that passion’s own nature: it is demanding that lovers should take seriously something which their passion of itself impels them to do.

And, of course, the promise, made when I am in love and because I am in love, to be true to the beloved as long as I live, commits me to being true even if I cease to be in love. A promise must be about things that I can do, about actions: no one can promise to go on feeling in a certain way. He might as well promise never to have a headache or always to feel hungry. But what, it may be asked, is the use of keeping two people together if they are no longer in love? There are several sound, social reasons; to provide a home for their children, to protect the woman (who has probably sacrificed or damaged her own career by getting married) from being dropped whenever the man is tired of her. But there is also another reason of which I am very sure, though I find it a little hard to explain.

It is hard because so many people cannot be brought to realise than when B is better than C, A may be even better than B. They like thinking in terms of good and bad, not of good, better, and best, or bad, worse and worst. They want to know whether you think patriotism a good thing: if you reply that it is, of course, far better than individual selfishness, but that it is inferior to universal charity and should always give way to universal charity when the two conflict, they think you are being evasive. They ask what you think of duelling. If you reply that it is far better to forgive a man than to fight a duel with him, but that even a duel might be better than a lifelong enmity which expresses itself in secret efforts to ‘do the man down,’ they go away complaining that you would not give them a straight answer. I hope no one will make this mistake about what I am now going to say.

What we call ‘being in love’ is a glorious state, and, in several ways, good for us. It helps to make us generous and courageous. it opens our eyes not only to the beauty of the beloved but to all beauty, and it subordinates (especially at first) our merely animal sexuality; in that sense, love is the great conqueror of lust. No one in his senses would deny that being in love is far better than either common sensuality or cold self-centredness. But, as I said before, ‘the most dangerous thing you can do is to take any one impulse of our own nature and set it up as the thing you ought to follow at all costs’. Being in love is a good thing, but it is not the best thing. There are many things below it, but there are also things above it. You cannot make it the basis of a whole life. It is a noble feeling, but it is still a feeling. Now no feeling can be relied on to last in its full intensity, or even to last at all. Knowledge can last, principles can last, habits can last but feelings come and go. And in fact, whatever people say, the state called ‘being in love’ usually does not last. If the old fairy-tale ending ‘They lived happily ever after’ is taken to mean ‘They felt for the next fifty years exactly as they felt the day before they were married,’ then it says what probably never was nor ever would be true, and would be highly undesirable if it were. Who could bear to live in that excitement for even five years? What would become of your work, your appetite, your sleep, your friendships? But, of course, ceasing to be ‘in love’ need not mean ceasing to love. Love in this second sense — love as distinct from ‘being in love’ — is not merely a feeling. It is a deep unity, maintained by the will and deliberately strengthened by habit; reinforced by (in Christian marriages) the grace which both partners ask, and receive, from God. They can have this love for each other even at those moments when they do not like each other; as you love yourself even when you do not like yourself. They can retain this love even when each would easily, if they allowed themselves, be ‘in love’ with someone else. ‘Being in love’ first moved them to promise fidelity: this quieter love enables them to keep the promise. it is on this love that the engine of marriage is run: being in love was the explosion that started it.

If you disagree with me, of course, you will say, ‘He knows nothing about it, he is not married.’ You may quite possibly be right. But before you say that, make quite sure that you are judging me by what you really know from your own experience and from watching the lives of your friends, and not by ideas you have derived from novels and films. This is not so easy to do as people think. Our experience is coloured through and through by books and plays and the cinema, and it takes patience and skill to disentangle the things we have really learned from life for ourselves.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Be Nice!!

Have you ever been around mean people? There are just some people in this world who refuse to be nice. In our house we call it being ugly and our kids know exactly what we mean when we tell them to stop being so ugly! And to be honest, there have been many times that I have wanted to go up to someone and tell them to stop being so ugly and just be nice.

But what's really bad is when you catch yourself being that ugly person! We can have our order wrong at a restaurant or a bad day at work and suddenly the ugliness is unleashed. But I think the worst part about it is that most of the time we are nicer to the people we work with or see at the store, but then we come home and all that ugliness just comes spewing out all over our spouse and kids. They've done nothing to deserve it but the first chance we get, we lash out. I for one am very guilty of that in my own home. My husband always teases me that i'm the nicest person in the world, and I do try to be as nice as possible to everyone I come in contact with. However, it is so easy to forget to show that same kindness to my own husband and children.

1 Corinthians 13:4 says that love is kind, Ephesians 4:32 says to be kind and tenderhearted with each other and Galatians 5:22 says that one of the fruit of the Spirit is kindness. You see, kindness is supposed to seep out of us at all times as Christians with everyone we come in contact with but I believe even more so with those we live with. It is so easy to let yourself go and not watch what you say as much with people you're around all the time but I believe it's even more important to be kind to your family than anyone else.

I see so many couples that are just ugly to each other all the time. They make jokes at each others expense or insult them without even thinking and are often just plain cruel to each other. This should not be happening! Let me tell you for sure that there is no one in this world you should be nicer to that your spouse and children. Your spouse looks to your for support and your children look to you for every kind of encouragement and when you snap back at them with ugly words and actions you can very quickly crush them.

So today, start to work on walking out kindness towards your spouse and kids. My kids school motto is "Be kind with your ears. Be kind with your eyes. Be kind with your mouth. Be kind with your body". It sounds so basic and childish but look at how you treat your family. Are you kind with everything you do and say?

Friday, September 16, 2011

Fun Friday: Jealousy and Coveting

The topic for this weeks fun Friday post comes from a facebook friend. She said, "How about a blog on Jealousy? Covetness? Is there a good jealousy? Can you covett without it being a sin?"

When I first got this question I figured this would be an easy topic to write on. I mean, jealousy's bad and coveting is bad right? But I was a little surprised with what I found once I started looking into it. Let's talk about coveting first...

In Exodus 20 it lists the ten commandments and the last one listed in verse 17 says "You must not covet your neighbor’s house. You must not covet your neighbor’s wife, male or female servant, ox or donkey, or anything else that belongs to your neighbor." The definition for covet is "To feel blameworthy desire for (that which is another's)" so absolutely anything that falls under that category is wrong.

Now I don't think it's wrong to want something that you don't have. For example, I have 3 kids and still drive a 5 seater car. I desperately want a van so we can all have more room and just not be so cramped in a tiny little car and I don't think there is anything wrong with that. However if I see someone else with a van and begin to want their specific van with an unhealthy desire, that's when it crosses the line to sin. Does that make sense?

There seems to be only one thing we can covet without sinning and that is the gifts of the Spirit. In 1 Corinthians 12 Paul talks about and lists the gifts of the Spirit and explains the importance of each gift. He ends it in verse 31 by saying "But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way". Wednesday night our pastor explained this verse and why it tells us to "covet" the gifts. See, the gifts of the Spirit belong to the Holy Spirit. In order for anyone to have any one of these gifts they have to be given by the Spirit, and in this verse Paul is saying that each Christian is to earnestly desire them. So other than this example it seems coveting anything is in fact wrong.

Now for jealousy. In studying this subject I came across THIS website that talks about the different kinds of jealousy and gives many verses for each example. They did a fantastic job so I encourage you to take a look at it and do some studying yourself.

I believe that jealousy is both good and bad. There is obviously a very unhealthy side of jealousy that can stem from selfishness, then there is the God kind of jealousy that I believe is good and can even be healthy. The bible actually talks about the fact that God is a jealous God in regards to his people. He is very jealous for our devotion and simply will not share us. In the same respect, I am very jealous for my husband and I will not share his devotion with anyone else. Do you see the connection? If another woman comes along and tries to steal my husbands devotion there is nothing wrong with the jealousy that stems from that. However if another woman simply talks to him it is not ok to react in jealousy.

In Galatians 5:22-23, Paul talks about the fruit of the Spirit and how we as Christians are to walk and live in these characteristics. I believe that by walking in these actions we can learn to control our jealousy and live in thankfulness and contentment in any state we're in and covet nothing.

Each Friday I tackle the thoughts and questions of my readers. If there is something you would like me to discuss feel free to either leave a comment below, leave a comment on my Facebook Page or email me at joinmeforcoffeeblog(at)gmail(dot)com.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Unity In Marriage

Over the last few posts we've talked about love in marriage as well as some of the roles required of both husbands and wives. So now lets bring all this together and talk about the important piece that ties it all together. Unity. Unity in marriage is super important! From the very second you said "I Do" you and your spouse became one. Adam talks about it in Genesis 2:24 which says "Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and shall become united and cleave to his wife, and they shall become one flesh."

I've already talked about in-laws and how to work on and handle that relationship HERE and HERE so i'm not going to go over that again. But I will say that in order to live in unity in your marriage it is crucial that you do exactly what that verse says and leave your parents.

Now let's look at exactly what the word unity means. I admit that I always just thought it meant "together" but the definition is actually much stronger. Unity means "the state of being one; oneness. a whole or totality as combining all its parts into one. the state or fact of being united or combined into one, as of the parts of a whole; unification. absence of diversity; unvaried or uniform character. oneness of mind, feeling, etc., as among a number of persons; concord, harmony, or agreement." Did you notice the word that kept popping up in that definition? One. In order to live with unity in your have to live as one.

In today's culture it is very common for couples to be married and yet live apart. They have separate bank accounts, separate friends, separate hobbies, separate interests...everything about their lives are separate. Then we look around and wonder why divorce is so prevalent! I believe that unity is the glue that holds a marriage together. You are one. You make decisions as one. You laugh as one. You dream as one. You live as one. You see yourselves as one.

Now i'm not saying that you can never have interests that are primarily yours because it's absolutely ok and you shouldn't expect to always be interested in exactly the same things. For example, I love scrapbooking, making bows, trying new recipes and all things crafty. My husband is not at all into craftyness, but he is a photographer and loves to spend time researching and studying all things photography. So while we do have some separate interests the majority of our time is spent on interests we have together. We have several tv shows we watch together, we raise our kids together, we serve in our church together and we spend the majority of our time living life together. When it comes time to make a decision for our family we discuss it together, pray together and decide together even if it means submitting to his final authority. But it's all done together. When conflict arises among our friends our families, we face it together. Any situation we face, we face it together.

I love that the verse in Genesis says "they shall become one flesh" not "they shall feel like they are one flesh". There are times that you get into a situation and it can feel like you're on opposite teams and you're fighting against each other but throw those feelings out and look at the truth of the Word of God. You are one at all times, not just when you feel like it. Work at all times to remain one because as you face the day to day challenges that come against your marriage you have to be living as one in order to stay standing.

Now really quickly let's talk about how to build unity in marriage. The best way to build unity, simply put, is to find as many ways as you possibly can to just live life together. Make a habit of including your spouse in everything you do. Take the time to invest in their interests, and get interested in them as well. Everything from where your kids are going to go to school, to what you're having for dinner should be talked about openly. Remember that you are one and do everything you can to live as one.

Over the next few days look at your day to day relationship with your spouse. Are there areas that you're living and making decision just for yourself? If so, make a point to include them in those areas. Never forget that the two of you got married to build a life together so work everyday on walking as one in unity in this life.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Guest Post: H.O.H.

Today's post is a guest post by my husband Colby. I wrote last week about submission and the role that plays for women so I asked my husband to post about men's role as the head of household. I think he did such a wonderful job and I encourage you to share this with your husbands and other men in your family. So once again, please welcome Colby.

This week marks the end of another season of the reality show Big Brother. In case you are not familiar with this show, let me give you a brief synopsis: It is basically a 3 month power struggle between a handful of people or "house guests" locked in a house, away from the real world, for a half million dollar final prize. Each week, they compete to become "Head of Household" or "H.O.H.". The H.O.H. then chooses 2 people to nominate for eviction, they have another competition to win the golden "Power of Veto" or "POV" which gives them the power to un-nominate themselves (if they have been nominated) or someone else. Then the house guests vote on who should leave, that person leaves, and the process starts over again. The thing I find interesting is this: In this game, every body wants to be the head of household, and everything it entails. However in the real world, nobody wants to accept the responsibilities of that position, and those who desire it only do so for the inherent power that comes with the position. The truth is the term head of household has gotten so twisted, we no longer even know what it really means. Let's see if we can figure this out.

Paul says in Ephesians 5:23 "For a husband is the head of his wife as Christ is the head of the church. He is the Savior of his body, the church.". This tells us we should lead our house in the same way that Jesus leads the church. Well, how did Jesus lead? We will examine that in a moment, but for know I would like to pose a more general question: How can anyone lead? Lead is defined like this "to go before or with to show the way". If we have people under our watch, or following us, they will only know where to go by watching us, and following in our steps. Like I tell my son, "I do not try to be a good father just so you can survive to adulthood, I try to be a good father so that you will grow up to be a good father."

So how did Jesus lead? He lead by example (Matthew 6:9-13, John 13:1-17). The disciples learned how to live Christ like by watching Christ live. So it is with our families. There is no better way to raise a child of God than to let them see you being a man of God.

So what exactly is our responsibility to our wife and kids? I'm glad you asked. Allow me a moment of catharsis before we move on. You need to understand exactly what God expects of you if you have a wife and child. There are far to many children growing up without involved fathers for this issue to go un-addressed. If you do not want to accept the responsibilities that come with having children, don't have sex. It's as easy as that. If you think you can be sexually active, get a girl pregnant, and simply walk away with no strings attached, you are a like a little boy on the level with the child who finds and wields his father's handgun as a "fun toy". If this is you, you are free to go. I have nothing else to say to you, although I would love to give you a hard punch in the gut. Fortunately reality will do that for me. Now, turning to the men who are left. We are charged with 3 primary positions:

1. Protector
This one is very basic, but it is often misinterpreted. As we have discussed previously, this is not limited only to physical protection. I would bet most everyone reading this has locks on their doors, and a weapon of some sort in your house. You may even have a security system with motion sensors, camera's, and all the bells and whistles. These are all good things, but not one of them can deflect an attack of the devil. As men we know that if someone breaks into our house, it is us who must take the assailant on, and even give our life fighting to keep our family safe. Should our houses not be equally fortified against spiritual attacks? The bible tells us our enemy is like "a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour." Notice he may not devour just anyone. Only those who placed themselves within his reach. I encourage you to make your home a spiritual safe house, as well as keeping it safe from physical enemies.

2. Provider
This one is easy to describe, but can be difficult to execute. As husbands and fathers it is our job to work. You can't be afraid to work hard, or your family will pay the price. 1 Timothy 5:8 says "But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever." That seems inescapably clear to me. You must do what it takes to provide a life for your family. Period.

Most men would agree about the first 2 points, but I'm afraid this is where most men drop the ball. If I asked you who should be the primary spiritual influence on your family, most of you would probably say your pastor or perhaps children's pastor. Absolutely not. It's you. You must make sure you have chosen a church that is teaching biblical truths. You must make sure your family attends, even when the pastor is on vacation. You must make sure you are learning so that you may turn and impart that wisdom into your family. Can they learn from the pastor and children's pastor? Of course, and they should. But if you take them to a church were the are teaching false doctrines, you are accountable to God for that.

As you can see, being the head of your household is not a power trip. Now, don't misunderstand me, in training our children we must sometimes tell them what to do. However, it is not a license to simply bark orders at them and then sit back and do nothing to help, but a responsibility to love and lead by example. It is the high calling to the ultimate life of humility and sacrifice. And what a blessed life it is! I urge you to take your job as husband and father seriously. It is the most important title you will ever hold.


Sunday, September 11, 2011

Featured Blog

While I was out of town over the weekend my blog was featured on About A Mom's blog so I wanted to share it with you. HERE is the like to the post with my blog on it, there are many other blogs linked up as well so be sure to stop by and visit some of them. And HERE is the link to her home page. She posts often and about many different things so check back in regularly.

Also I wanted to welcome all the new followers i've gotten over the weekend! Thank you all for stopping by and following along. I look forward to hearing from each of you in the future and getting to know y'all better. :o)

Friday, September 9, 2011

Vacation Time!

I am on vacation this weekend getting rested and renewed with the women of our church so there will be no Fun Friday post this week. But I did want to leave you all with this quote since we've been talking about love the last few days.

"Love as distinct from "being in love" is not merely a feeling. It is a deep unity, maintained by the will"-CSLewis

Remember that love is always a choice and something you have to decide to do. I encourage you to spend this weekend looking for opportunities to chose to love your spouse and act out that love towards them. When you see something you can do for your spouse that can make them feel loved, you can chose to ignore it and simply say that you love them, or you can chose to get up and prove it through your actions. Like DC Talk said, "Love is a verb"! Have a great weekend. :o)

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Submission...The Enemy of Women Everywhere

I just realized that in all my posts about marriage I have not discussed the oh so lovely topic of submission, so let's get talking!

Submission is something that I believe every woman struggles with during their marriage. It is very difficult to do and is often thrown out as an outdated practice, but I believe that it is still something that is required of every married woman. But did you know that submission was not God's original design for women? If you go back to the very beginning and look at the surroundings of Eve's creation, she was never designed to be submissive to Adam, she was designed to help him and rule beside him. It wasn't until after her and Adam sinned that submission entered the picture. Look at Genesis 3:16, God is telling Eve what the consequences are for her having eaten the fruit from the tree. It says "Then he said to the woman, "I will sharpen the pain of your pregnancy, and in pain you will give birth. And you will desire to control your husband, but he will rule over you."

Right at the beginning of the bible we girls are warned that submission won't be easy, and the reason for that is because we aren't designed for it. It's a part of the curse of sin. But we have to remember that even though it wasn't part of the original design, after the sin in the garden of Eden it became the design. The bible is very clear about the fact that we girls are to submit to our husbands. The bible talks about it in many verses so let's look at some of them.

Colossians 3:18 " Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting for those who belong to the Lord.

Ephesians 5:22-24 "For wives, this means submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For a husband is the head of his wife as Christ is the head of the church. He is the Savior of his body, the church. As the church submits to Christ, so you wives should submit to your husbands in everything.

Titus 2:4-5 "These older women must train the younger women to love their husbands and their children, to live wisely and be pure, to work in their homes, to do good, and to be submissive to their husbands.

I Peter 3:1 "In the same way, you wives must accept the authority of your husbands. Then, even if some refuse to obey the Good News, your godly lives will speak to them without any words. They will be won over"

So it's very clear from these verses that submission is something that is required of us girls, however the definition of submission is often where people can get confused. So again, let's look at what the bible says submission is. The definition of submission found in the concordance is "to submit to one's control, to yield to one's admonition or advice, to obey, be subject". Now, as unpleasant as that may sound look at it a different way for just a minute with me. That same definition is used when talking about several other kinds of submission in the bible.

Romans 13:1 says "Everyone must submit to governing authorities. For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God." That "submit" has the same definition in the concordance.

Ephesians 1:22 says "God has put all things under the authority of Christ and has made him head over all things for the benefit of the church." and that has the same definition as well.

We're to submit to our husbands the same way we submit to Christ. Also, Hebrews 5:7 says "During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission." So you can see here that Christ himself showed this same kind of submission to God the Father when He lived on earth.

Submission is not some scary, awful thing! When it is done according to the bible it is actually a beautiful demonstration of the relationship we have with Christ. Now I understand that as with everything in this world, the issue of submission absolutely can be abused and I want you to understand that I am not talking about women being doormats! I fully believe that each and every woman is an equal partner in their marriage and should voice their thoughts and opinions freely, and men should listen to them and take what they say to heart. You and your husbands are a team and should do everything you can to live in agreement. I believe that this submission is referring to areas of disagreement in your family. If you and your husband are on completely opposite ends of an issue this is where I think submission falls in and the wife should submit to her husbands authority and decisions, because let's not forget that he is ultimately the one who will stand before God and answer for how he leads your family.

This is not an easy thing to do at all! Remember, you weren't designed to submit. It does not come natural to you and that's ok. You're not a horrible person if and when you fail in this area. But you have to remember that as un-natural as submission feels, as christians we are not to walk in the natural, we are to walk in the super-natural! I believe that when you submit to your husband even if you don't agree God can bless you in that. I heard it said once that God can jump over a goofy husband to bless a submissive wife and I believe that to be true. When you submit to your husband understand that you are actually obeying and submitting to Christ and that's what each and every christian should strive for.

Next Monday my husband will be writing a guest post on the role husbands play, because in all reality, it's not enough for wives to just be submissive without men also knowing what it means to lead the family.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Walking In Love

Last week we talked about making the choice to love your spouse and how it’s a choice you have to make each day. Today let’s talk about walking in love. Ephesians 5:1-2 says “Therefore be imitators of God [copy Him and follow His example], as well-beloved children [imitate their father] and walk in love, [esteeming and delighting in one another] as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us, a slain offering and sacrifice to God [for you, so that it became] a sweet fragrance.”

In the bible, the word “walk” often describes a lifestyle that someone has. If you look at this verse that way it says that we are to live like a copycat of Christ by living a lifestyle of love. Think about it, does God ever stop loving you? Are you ever bad enough or sinful enough that He just gives up and says you’re unlovable? No of course not! Even before we asked him to, He loved us. Romans 5:8 says “But God shows and clearly proves His [own] love for us by the fact that while we were still sinners, Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One) died for us.”

That same love that Christ showed towards you is the love you, as a copycat of Christ, are to show towards your spouse. Did you notice in that verse that it said “while we were still sinners”? We hadn’t even asked for His love and He gave it. That should be your love towards your spouse. That is the love that you are to walk out in your life every single day. Don’t wait until your spouse asks for it or does something to deserve it. The love of Christ is freely given regardless of the circumstances.

I know that there are times you get mad at your spouse and if you’re anything like me, when you’re mad at them there can be no loving feelings. They just seem to disappear sometimes. But if you think that because you’re mad at your spouse you can’t show love to them, you’re not walking in God’s love.

Now I’m not saying that you have to be all gushy over them in the middle of an argument, but what I am saying is that you need to continue to act out love towards them no matter what situation you’re in. Don’t tear them to shreds because you’re angry. Show them kindness any way possible. Continue to sacrifice yourself for them even when it hurts and doesn’t feel like you should have to.

You know, sometimes it takes faith to walk in love with your spouse. If you’ve had a difficult relationship and there have been a lot of hurts, showing love to them can take a supernatural faith. In those situations I think it’s impossible to walk in love unless you’re walking my faith. You see, the God of love is in you, therefore His love is already in you, you simply have to make a decision by faith to release that love towards your spouse. Now I’m not saying it’s going to be easy, but faith never makes anything easy, it simply makes things possible! 2 Corinthians 5:7 says that we are to walk by faith and not by sight, and I believe that goes for your marriage as well.

As hard as it may seem at times, work on making an effort to walk in love towards your spouse. Be aware of every word you say and action you show towards them and take steps to walk out and show the God kind of love in everything you do, even if it takes faith to do so.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Fun Friday: Grown-up Kids

The topic for today comes from a friend of mine. I asked my friends and readers on facebook if there was anything they'd be interested in my writing about and she wrote, "Pushing "your" goals for your child's life on them. Like a doctor wanting his kid to be a doctor or wanting your kid to live in a certain town. Or always pushing your kid to go to get that better job because you aren't happy with the amount of money they are making." Now I fully understand that my children are still very young so I am speaking on this subject with no first hand experience, however I dealt with this some from my dad as a child so I can use that and the bible to talk about this.

I believe this is a very easy thing to fall into for most parents. We have our children for 18 years to train, raise and prepare for the world so it can be very easy to also plan for their future for them. It really doesn't seem like a bad thing either, and a lot of times it isn't as long as you are planning with them and not for them. But let's look at the unhealthy side of this issue and how it can negativity affect your children.

My dad is a tennis player. He played in high school and has been a tennis instructor for all of my life and he had ideas of me working and training hard and trying to become a professional tennis player. I started playing tennis when I was about 4 or 5 years old and played regularly until I was 10. I don't really remember my dad ever telling me that's what he wanted me to become but I remember hearing him talk to others about it and I remember him pushing me to be better and work harder to improve. I honestly loved the game and still do, but I never ever wanted to do more than play casually. However I knew my dad wanted more from me so I tried. I tried and failed.

When I was 10, I played my first tournament and was crushed by the other girl. I had stayed up all night the night before and was completely exhausted, and on top of that the other girl really was much better than I was. But I knew my dad would be disappointed and that was the worst part. I was letting him down in something that really mattered to him but honestly just didn't matter to me. I only ever played one tournament after that, it was a father/daughter match and I loved spending the time with my dad.

You see, the time with him was why I had played for so long when it wasn't important to me. My dad worked a lot so playing tennis was the way I could spend the most time with him and for a long time I was willing to do it. Then I began to hate and resent the game that I used to enjoy. Eventually I began to love tennis again but i've not played regularly since I was 10 years old.

You see, every time I pick up a tennis racket i'm always reminded that I didn't accomplish my dad's dream for my life. It was never my dream but I knew it was his and I failed. I loved the game because he loved it and I played because it was an opportunity to spend time with him. But once I couldn't, or wouldn't play anymore we no longer had the connection of the game, and it was one more area of distance in our relationship.

So now let's come off of my memory lane and talk about what this can do to kids. First of all, when you have a career chosen for your child, you have decided what their future is to look like. Then if they don't want to do that or honestly can't do that career they have to live with the fact that they have failed you. No matter what, your child should never have to live with the feeling of failing their parent! There is no career out there that is so important that they should feel that way. Period. It is an awful, guilty feeling and not something you should put on your child.

Second, your child was born with their own unique talents, gifts and desires. It's our job as parents to help shape and mold them into a responsible adult but it is not our job to determine their gifts and dreams. We can encourage them and push them to do their best in whatever area their dream is in, but we can't confuse that for actually deciding what their dreams are. Jeremiah 29:11 says "For I know the plans I have for you". God has a plan in mind for your child's life, a plan that He has had since the beginning of time. It is not your job to push God's plans aside to further your own plans. Yes, your child is your child on this earth but we can't ever forget that these kids are simply on loan from Him. Instead of pushing your plan and your ideas for their life on them, get before God with your child and find out what His plans are for their life. Those plans are the ones you can push forward. Those are the plans that matter.

And thirdly, when you push your plans and dreams on your child you can actually push them away from something they really do love. Like I said, I loved playing tennis and probably would have continued playing but I knew I would never measure up to the dream that my dad had so I completely quit. I lost out on the continued connection of playing with my dad and we both lost out on having that connection in our relationship.

I don't think there is anything wrong with pushing your kids to do their best and not allowing them to quit on something they love. But you have to remember that as parents, we don't automatically get to decide everything for our kids future. What career they chose, where they live, how many kids they have, and many other life decision like that are theirs to make. We have to train them to make those decisions wisely and after seeking God's counsel but that's really the extent of our involvement.

What do y'all think about this subject? Is this something any of you have dealt with? If so, what do you do in the situation?