March 06, 2016

Marriage on Lent - Finishing Up

Lent is not over, but our series is complete. 

Wow! Is all I can say. Thanks be to God for these days of enrichment for marriage. I am also most grateful for the men and women who stepped out of their comfort zones to share from their hearts throughout the series.

I felt clearly when I "lost" all of my preparations for this series that God was at work in that. I clearly felt God's call for me to look around and gather as many people as I possibly could to share their hearts and thoughts on marriage. From students to professors, from those that work in the home to those that run corporations, from those that had never written publicly to those who write for a living, every person's thoughts and prayers were a blessing.

I just want to thank each one of you that have participated in any way through this season of Lent, whether you said one prayer for a marriage or a hundred, whether you wrote, or read, or maybe you did both. I praise God for you. We truly are in our journey together. We might live such hurried lives that we feel as though we are alone, but that is not truth. We are brothers and sisters in Christ. If one falls, then another helps them up.

My prayer for each of us as we continue these last couple of days of Lent is to simply continue in prayer.

Ask God if He wants you to send a note to those you have been praying for. 

This could be of great encouragement to some. One of the places that Satan likes to convince us of is that we are alone. If we know others love us, and we have others praying for us, it is much more difficult to fall into a pit and stay there. However, we all fall into pits now and then but there are lots of people willing to make a chain and grab hold of those that have fallen in the pit, but we do need to speak out to let them know.

One of the reasons that I felt called to begin this series was because Rob and I found our marriage in a pit last year. We talked to some people we could trust and they made a chain and they wouldn't let go of us. After a year because we were determined to not let go of God and His work in us we experienced complete healing and restoration in our marriage. The statistics are clear, there is lot's of divorce. There are lots of people who have quit praying for marriages because they have given up hope - they are hopeless. The secular world would like to convince us that divorce is normal, it's fine, it's the easy way out...from talking to friends it might seem the easiest way out in the moment but they have said in the long run there are lots of repercussions. So if a marriage can be saved, it is worth the effort. There is a great line in Harry Potter...Dumbledore says to Harry, "One day Harry you will have to choose between what is easy and what is right." Those words found a home in me when I heard them. I pray they find their home in you.

When you feel hopeless in your marriage, or want to give up praying for another's marriage, just think about Rob and I, God will still do miracles if we will only humble ourselves and let Him do His supernatural work in us.

All praise to God.

Marriage on Lent Day #36

Thank you to Cathy Messecar for today's writing in Marriage on Lent. We are in the home stretch, enjoy these last couple of days of Lent as we lift those around us in prayer.

By Cathy Messecar

Better a meal of vegetables where there is love than a fatted calf where there is hatred.
Proverbs 15:17

When my husband and I were newlyweds, we paid our first rent in Junction City, Kansas, near Fort Riley. The apartment was in an old house, divided into seven units. Seven oversized closets. Standing still, David could touch the kitchen walls in every direction. In the hall near the bathroom, the refrigerator hummed its frosty tune. Not the perfect floor plan. Because we’d spent little married time together, our first home seemed a palace to us.
      David had mailed me many letters from Louisiana, Georgia and Vietnam during the first 18 months of our long distance marriage. We were together less than 60 days after we said, “I do.” After too few wedded-bliss days, but plenty of wedded-miss months, we were delighted with our apartment. Turning a corner in our cubbyhole and bumping into each other was pleasant, but wedding cake doesn't last forever, and we had a few newlywed misunderstandings.
     The greatest miscommunication came after five months of shared quarters. Scheduled for only a half day of guard duty at the army base, David said as he left the apartment, "I thought we'd eat out for lunch."
      I responded positively to his suggestion. By mid-morning, I put on a clean outfit, teased my hair into an appropriate height for the late 60s, and awaited his arrival. About noon he came home, and I noticed a quick look of puzzlement cross his face that he didn’t explain.  As he changed out of his fatigues, we chatted cheerfully. Then he timidly asked, "Where's lunch?"
      You could have knocked me over with a stalk of celery. I was stunned. Finally I managed to ask, "I thought you said we were going out to eat?"
      He replied sheepishly, "I meant we'd go out of doors to eat. I thought we'd go on a picnic." I changed plans and clothes, threw together sandwiches and squashed my uptown-hair down to country-picnic-plain.
        As we drove, David explained that we needed to see the Kansas landscape while we could. “We’ll just cruise around until we find a shady picnic spot.”
     The Kansas landscape looked pretty much the same. Treeless. Finally pulling off the road, Dave opened the tailgate on our 1965 Chevy truck. We watched Kansans drive by as we washed down sticky peanut butter sandwiches with soda pop. Sitting on the tailgate with our legs swinging, we ate in the great outdoors.
     Whether Dave and I dine at a mahogany dining table or off a tailgate, love must be in our table setting because in marriage some days are picnics and some days are Blue Plate Specials.

Lord God, every day, you prepare a table before David and me. May we always recognize you as both host and guest. In the name of Jesus who brought your bounty into impromptu picnics. Amen.

An excerpt from The Stained Glass Pickup: Glimpses of God’s Uncommon Wisdom by Cathy Messecar, author and speaker, married for 45 years.

Marriage on Lent Day #35

Let's keep praying, finish the week strong. 

I would like to thank John Willis for his thoughts on marriage today. Dr. Willis is a 
beloved Bible Professor at ACU, he and his wife, Evelyn, have been married for more 
than 50 years. Dr. Willis is also known for handing out cookies in the halls of the Bible
building and to all of his classes.

Thoughts from the Heart
Marriage is a three person journey. This is between God, the husband,
and the wife. Before anyone should marry, that person should establish
a strong, firm, lasting relationship with God. Only then can a
marriage survive and flourish.

Obviously, a great text is Ephesians 5:21-33. From that text, three
important concepts emerge:
  1. Marriage is a mutual relationship of submission. The wife must
be in submission to her husband, and the husband must be in submission
to his wife.
  2. Jesus and the church are the ideal model. Jesus is the husband:
he loved the church and gave himself up for her.
  3. The church is the wife: she is voluntarily subject to Christ.

I pray that every person will focus on God the Father through Jesus
Christ to love God, honor God, be in subjection to God, constantly
turn to God for help and support and guidance. I pray that every
person will be in subjection go his wife and to her husband, to love,
to honor, to support, and to encourage each person's spouse.

Marriage on Lent Day #34


Please continue to pray for marriages around you, we are on the countdown 'till our 40 days of prayer are complete.

Thanks to one of my college classmates, Misty, for sharing her testimony of how she has seen God work in her life and marriage.

 I’ve been married 2 years. I never thought I would get married. My God had bigger plans. On deployment in Iraq, God spoke to me loud and clear. He let me know who my husband was going to be. God lit him up and I for some reason liked him automatically. I had never met this man, nor did I know where to find him. I stood in shock at what God had said and kept in the back of my mind for some months. I thought it was crazy.

I got saved in basic training and was praising the Lord, probably annoyingly, to the rest of my unit. So they decided to let me work as the chaplain assistant for the unit chaplain, although it was not my trained occupation. I was starting to get overworked by my unit and they decided to have 2 chaplain assistances (which is usually uncommon). Low and behold, the man God told me about a few months earlier got the job, out of all the 1,200 Soldiers in my unit.

I didn't like him right from the start. I was worried he was better at the job then me, which he was. I worried my unit would eventually make me work back at my old job, as the unit mail clerk. My “now husband” came from a very good background: Christian home, loving parents, etc. Where I had not. My mom divorced twice, I seen my fair share of jail time, and trusted no one. If I would have never joined the Army I don’t know whom or where I would be. So for these reasons, I was mean to my future husband. I would make him carry stuff for me, be bossy, use my rank, etc. He was so sweet though.

As we continued to work together we became friends. He was kind of seeing a girl, not anything serious. I was trying to talk him out of it, in a way where it didn’t seem like I was interested, just concerned she wasn’t the “right” one. I couldn’t tell him that God said we’re supposed to be together, he’s think I was a crazy.

On New Year’s Eve after hanging out for a while and becoming friends getting that warm and fuzzy with each other, we made it official. Not only did we decide we were going to date we also decided we were going to get married. Bata Bing Bata boom. Six months after we got back from Iraq we were married.

It was not the fairytale it sounds on the wedding day. We were both feeling attacked from the devil to not go through with it, although neither of us knew how the other was feeling. I was thinking we are not going to make it; we are going to get a divorce like my parents and everyone else in my family.

I did not want to commit out of fear. I believe God knew how much I struggled trusting men because my step-dad and an ex I was with for 3 years were both abusive and unfaithful. But, I believe God knows what we need to hear, that’s why he told me while working in the sound booth in Iraq, that this guy, Ephraim Schoephoerster, was going to be my husband. God knows we are weak and we are design to live life with his leading. If not we will be lost.

We will go through seasons in our marriage and life were we wonder. Was this the “right” person for me? Maybe I picked the wrong person? I encourage you that although I am young and not too experienced in marriage, to stick it through. Your spouse is the right person; otherwise you would not be with him/her. Marriage is momentary in this life and our marriage is meant to glory God. I love reading Psalm 139, because it just reminds me so much how God is intimately aware of you and me. He knows my feelings and knew me before anyone else did. He knew me in the womb. Share your heart with the God who knows what you need before even you do. 

Marriage on Lent Day #33

I was reminded of this amazing video in one of my classes at school. Many might have already seen it a while back, but I thought it was worth posting in the marriage series. Whether we are praying for others, looking for ways to strengthen our own marriages, praying for our own transformation in the nature of Christ (or all 3 maybe) we might benefit from taking a personal inventory; reflecting on where we are with Christ. This video depicts some of the places we might find ourselves being enticed away from God, and also putting distance between us and our relationships. We can look to the examples from this video for some of the biggies, sex/lust/porn, money, addiction, narcisism or being consumed by self,...we could add to that list and consider, pride, ego, hard-heartedness, rebellion, materialism....

Scripture reminds us to examine our hearts, and reminds us that we could be white-washed tombs, looking like it's all good on the outside, but our hearts are empty of relationship with God. Are we following God's commands for us? Or just the commands that others might notice?

Father God, I pray that you will quicken our spirits to places in our hearts that you know are out of alignment with you and your will for us. You are the great redeemer and if only we will let you, will not only bring to mind our sins, but help us choose a different way. I pray that you will help me love you more tomorrow than I do today, I also pray that you will help me love others as you love them. May you refine us to be children that represent You in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness and self-control. Father, bless our marriages, soften our hearts, humble us so that we can do your work and not have our own agendas. Father, remind us that you are greater than all of our fears, may we cling to you in a mighty way, and fight the battle knowing you have our back. We love you, God. In Christ, Amen.

Marriage on Lent Day #32

Thanks to Cathy Messecar for her thoughts on marriage today.

Party Pants
By Cathy Messecar
A book titled Life is Short, Wear Your Party Pants reminded me of celebrations and joyous marriages.
Barely in our twenties, Dave and I attended many weddings. Then a diaper bag full of baby shower invitations arrived as friends started families. Birthdays of every kid their ages came next. We ate our way through pounds of Ball Park franks, mustard, chili, and Crisco-laden sugary frosting. And we fought a few piƱatas.
     Lately, we’ve received many wedding anniversary invitations, commemorating 25, 40, 50 years of marriage. In this short-attention-span world, those are occasions worth the party pants.
Since summer is a favorite time for weddings, here is a practical suggestion for newlyweds or long time married couples: Create everyday customs that keep you connected to each other.
After many years, one couple performs a wedding tradition each morning. At wedding receptions, couples often toast each other with their arms linked. This couple continues to do this each morning with their first sip of coffee. If this is too starry-eyed for you, read on.
Our marriage-odometer will roll over 46 in a few months. One of those years, we fell into the habit of shaking hands as we leave the breakfast table. It’s a friendly way to start the day. Of course, kissing hello and goodbye are age-old choices of staying connected, too.
A favorite married couple, Donn and Mildred, have learned the secret of honoring each other. Let’s just say they’ve had their wedding rings for a few years.
At a mall in casual conversation, I listened as Donn complimented his wife Mildred, and she “replied” with her classy smile. He also unfolded the foil away from a Hershey Kiss, leaving it resting on the foil in his palm. He lifted it to Mildred’s lips. She only had to bend her head to retrieve the morsel. Never had to lift a finger. What a man!
When I finally said goodbye to this couple, they strolled out hand-in-hand. Nothing has tarnished their love for each other. The shine is still on.
Jacob worked seven years to marry Rebekah, and they “seemed like only a few days to him because of his love for her” (Genesis 29:20). Agatha Christie suggests that a woman marry an archaeologist because the older she gets, the more interested he gets.
Not married to an archaeologist, try good manners, genuine compliments, sweet habits, and practice God’s unconditional love. They can add up to a 50th Wedding Anniversary. This world could learn from a few more of those “until death do you part” marriages.
Bring them on.
Press your party pants.

Cathy Messecar, author of A Still and Quiet Soul: Embracing Contentment  Married for 45 years, she enjoys writing and spending time with Dave, who still asks her out for Saturday night dates.

Marriage on Lent Day #31

Thank you to Lisa Laster for her thoughts on marriage and sharing her testimony with us.

I jumped into marriage with only two thoughts; I'm crazy about this guy, and, I don't want anyone to have this guy but me. We weren't married a year and my thoughts had morphed a little into; this guy makes me crazy, and, is there someone who would take this guy away.
We had gotten pretty toxic as a couple by our second year but also learned we were to be parents. We needed help and quick we met a young couple who's church we had visited who brought us to Christ and just as important, into a community of people who loved us and mentored us. Being the recipients of these intentional relationships improved our marriage dramatically.
Fast forward to two children, a late term miscarriage, and the stress of continued schooling combined with full-time church ministry. Add in some close friends whose marriages failed, and any confidence I had in our marriage was undermined. I began to fall apart from triggers & issues that I had no coping skills to handle. I'm blessed that John & I had no fears about seeking counseling when our marriage became painful this time, because the trajectory wasn't looking good if we didn't change how we were functioning.
Over our 32 years of marriage we have become believers in outside help and guidance. We began by seeing a counselor years ago in Dallas who helped us with basic communication. She was such a good counseling experience that we sought help later in Alabama when 2 kids seemed to be more than I could handle. Our counselor worked with us for a couple months on parenting skills that we despatately needed.
Then later after moving to Michigan, we sought help learning to cope with an addictive family member who revealed to me that I had some very co-dependent behavior that was unhelpful and very toxic to our marriage. I have benefitted much from EMDR therapy to recover from childhood trauma that began my co-dependent behavior as well as working with Celebrate Recovery for a couple of years.
I share the above to tell you that dealing with life and marriage can be hard work, but never too hard when helped by godly counsel and a willingness to do whatever it takes to deal with your own stuff.
God is our hope & salvation, but we aren't passive when help is needed. I'm hopeful when I hear someone is in counseling, and saddened when people use money or lack of time for not seeking help when it is evident it is needed.
It takes two to marry, it takes two to destroy a marriage, and it takes two to keep a marriage growing and together. One partner cannot do all the work, it takes two.
If you or your spouse are struggling, talk to a trusted friend get a referral to a marriage and family counselor. Together make a commitment to work on the relationship that will grow you into the Christ-like behavior God wants for you.
Even a strong marriage can unravel and fall apart if only one person is willing to do the work to remain vital and vibrant; may you always be willing to do the hard work necessary to continue to grow into what God has for you as a couple.