September 10, 2016

Jezi Pou Ayiti (Jesus for Haiti)

I was standing up, with my legs leaning back and the back of my knees pressing into the hard wood of a long bench, my eyes were closed and hands which were clapping now just rested against each other with my chin gently touching the tops of my fingers. A soft smile was what I felt through my being. My bare face and arms welcomed the wind that in West Texas seemed more of a nuisance, but in Haiti was an honored guest. I wanted to remember exactly what this moment felt like and sounded like to worship Jesus with my brothers and sisters in Christ who lived the harsh life up in the mountains of Thomazeau, Haiti. I wanted to hold on to the memories and the stories.

With Haitians seated all around singing praises to Jesus I kept my eyes closed and thought through the days before,… all I had seen and felt.



The very old blind man led by his small grandson to the Sunday church service. Their walk was not easy, many hours over difficult terrain. After sitting in the back for a while they were escorted to the front. The man’s head rested on his walking stick, always making sure his grandson was close to his side. He listened to the songs, to the words of the evangelist. He wanted Jesus. He was dressed in a white robe and he was baptized. He was completely dependent on the people around him to help him in every way. Jesus was there, it was in the hands of those who honored this man that Jesus shone so bright. Clothing him, lifting him into the water. Jesus was there. Now this man who walked so far, would always have Jesus in him. He has a place in my heart.


Mesye Catile who that same day chose to be baptized. He lives next door to a voodoo parastyle. He would have to be very brave and strong to give up voodoo when it is so close to him at his home. It took 4 years since he began to learn about Jesus, but this day He said yes to Jesus and no to voodoo. He is a strong and brave man. He is also a man who works hard to give his family food. He is grateful and kind. He has a place in my heart.

I thought of the skin I cleaned and put creams on when I worked at the Scabies area in the clinic. The smiles of the Haitians who looked at me to help them. Me. They would show me what was hurting, or itching or a wound that needed attention. I could have requested to not be assigned to the Scabies area, but I left my assignments up to God and J’Lyn (the employee who made the assignments). I knew God’s grace would be sufficient. And it was. Mesi Jezi. As someone whose stomach turns when there is blood - God met me right where I was and it was Him who treated those wounds. I just let Him use me. I would look into the eyes of the soul sitting across from me, an adult, a child, a baby being held by their mother. I saw Jesus looking back at me. They have a place in my heart.

I thought of the children who I sat next to during the Ke Pou Timoun classes. Their hands would reach out for mine. Their smiles were bright. Some took a while to warm up, but those were the ones that stayed close until it was time to leave for the day, the ones that would give two hugs to say goodbye instead of one. I would tell them, “Jezi renmen ou,” and they would smile. Jesus loves you. I would tell them, “Mwe renmen ou,” and they would tell me back, “I love you, too,” and they would smile and lean in for a hug. I had to wear sunglasses at times so my tears wouldn’t show. The poorest of the poor. The most in need. I love them and it hurt to tell them so. It hurt because they live in places that were in worse shape than the shed in my backyard which needs to be torn down. My heart hurt because many of their “roofs” leak when it rains and these beautiful faces who look like skinny versions of the kids who live around me, are in fact getting wet on the floor as they are curled against each other trying to sleep, trying to survive. They have a place in my heart.

I open my eyes, the songs are still being sung, the clapping is still in rhythm around me. I wipe the tears that are pouring down my cheeks. My soft smile has turned into an ache. I have to remind myself to take a breath. Then I remember to look around. I see that in the faces of the poorest of the poor is a passion and joy for Jesus. There is hope in Haiti. Jesus is hope. It is an honor and not a burden to serve God. It is an honor not a burden to serve Haiti. Just like in the Scabies clinic, I just have to show up…God will do the rest. Then I look at the friends who came to tend to Haiti, some doctors, some nurses, a dentist, some accountants, mom’s with young children at home, office workers, business owners,...every age represented – some older and some younger than me, some on their 17th trip, some on their 1st all of them willing to show up. My hands start to clap again, the ache becomes a smile which turns into a laugh as the sounds around me start to get louder, and the words, “MESI JEZI, MESI JEZI, MESI JEZI!” fill the air. Thank you, Jesus.



I just can not say enough about my experience with Live Beyond. The Vanderpool’s have listened to God and shown up. Dr. Vanderpool left his successful practice as a doctor, they sold everything and moved to Haiti and that was the beginning of Live Beyond. God has given them a vision for Haiti. If you haven’t gone on a trip I just could not recommend it enough. If you want to see all the ways Live Beyond is helping the poorest of the poor (and there are many) you can find them at www.livebeyond.org. Info for trips is on the website. It truly is an honor to serve the least of these. The blessings abound when you join with God in His service anytime, but in amazing proportion when you join Him in his work for the most vulnerable. Here I am Lord, send me.

June 01, 2016

Rheumatoid Arthritis - I found hope.

Where to start with this Rheumatoid Arthritis trouble? It could sound like an old Bryan Adam's song...it was the Summer of 2015.

Writing this in the Summer of 2016 so a bit has transpired in a year. Last summer my joints started swelling on my hands. I had been off gluten for a year...but I had sneaked a bite here and there when a fabulous booth at our Farmer's Market was baking amazing international pastries. I would buy a pastry for Rob and then take a bite. So when my joints started bothering me I thought it was because of that. I was back on the no gluten bandwagon pretty quickly and ended my love affair with the pastries. Actually I just figured out how to bake them gluten free. I don't know if this little tete de tete with gluten kicked all this off or if it was just a coincidence? I have to just let that go.

By the end of summer I had redness, stiffness and swelling in my joints. I just wrote it off as non descript joint pain thinking that if I followed the no gluten rule eventually it would work itself out.

Fast forward a couple of months and I had a pinky finger that overnight became malformed on a joint. So my hands were starting to look like they belonged on someone 40 years older than me. In between the knuckles on my left hand I could see there were pads of swelling happening. And then my index finger knuckle started growing to two or three times it's normal size. At this point I was popping ibuprofen more days than not. I had to use my hands. Fast forward a couple more months and the joints in my toes and one of my knees joined in the fun. I also had severe fatigue, during this time. I spent more time resting than I ever had before. I should have gone to the doctor by this point but I knew that a traditional doctor would not have a fix for this and I didn't want to go on meds to treat the symptoms. My holistic doctor is 3 hours away and I just was having a hard time figuring out how to take a day to get to him. I knew this was diet related. And by this time I started researching on line about this type of joint pain and figured out pretty quickly I most likely had Rheumatoid Arthritis. The scariest part was how quickly it was moving through my body. That was about 3 or 4 months ago. I knew this was an auto immune disease, and I also knew that if I changed my diet somehow I could help myself.

I chose to follow the Whole 30 plan to knock out foods that I thought could be offending my body. The foods that would trigger this disease. Rob and I did it together. At the end of the 30 days not only had it not helped my joints they had progressively gotten worse. That's when I made my appointment to see my holistic doctor. I told him of my self diagnosis, he had lots of blood drawn, gave me some baseline treatments to bring my body back to a healing state and made a follow up appointment for me to come back once blood results were in and I had followed the diet he put me on for 6 weeks. About a week after my appointment his nurse called and confirmed that I did have RA and to keep with the program and they would work with me when I came back to address the RA head on with a positive outcome and to not be afraid. The diet that he had put me on before my diagnosis was pretty similar to the Whole 30 and I just couldn't wait it out another 6 weeks to talk to him so I started researching on line. There are other people who have dealt with this and I knew if I could find the right information I wouldn't have to wait 6 weeks to start feeling better.

At this point I would look at stairs with dread, I could use the railings to get myself up, but Rob would have to hold onto me to help me down. I was at a place that seemed surreal. I couldn't bare to talk about it outside my home for fear that once I complained of the pain I thought I might not ever stop. I was teary eyed a lot, partly from the pain and partly from the quick progression of the pain. If things got this bad over one year would they continue to progress as quickly?

So I found a website when looking for natural healings and I looked at all the you tube video's associated with it...about 5 or 6 hours worth any way. The client reviews were in the hundreds and all of them said that the program helped them. Some completely healed, some better enough to manage the pain and to get off their meds. It was called the Paddington Program created by Chris Paddington out of Australia. He had debilitating RA at 30 years old. His program takes the research of multiple doctors and combines it into the plan that worked for him. He is 8 years out and shows less markers for RA in his blood work than the average person on the street. I was able to watch multiple lectures from one doctor in particular Dr. McDougall that were very helpful. So I bought this on line plan for $49 and began following it the next day. The first two days is a juice and salad cleanse to bring your body back to an alkaline state, then the next 10 days was full of quinoa, buckwheat, seaweed, sweet potatoes, salad, more green juicing along with other healing food options. After two days on this plan my joint pain was 80% gone. I could make a fist with my left hand, and several days into it Rob and I went to the movies and I was up about 15 steps and realized I wasn't holding onto the railing and had no pain in my knees.

The quick drop in pain was the motivation I needed to stay on this strict diet. Which for the most part fit inside the diet my doctor had put me on. All except the sweet potato because of sugar content. But I had to have the energy from the sweet potato so I included it in my diet. I am now on day 15 and am able to re-introduce foods one at a time. If I feel my pain increase I go back to the foods on the 10 day eating plan for about 18 hours that knocks it out and I can try that food again at a later date as my body might have a different reaction at that time.

So why had this diet helped me so much? Through my research I have learned that RA is caused by perforations in your intestines, or as a holistic doctor would call it..leaky gut. While there are lots of reasons this could happen most have to do with taking Nsaids (like ibuprofen), antibiotics, a diet high in fats (even healthy fats).. All of these things affect your gut. So little particles of food I was eating were getting into my bloodstream. My body then attacked the foreign articles...and in doing so was attacking my own joints. Animal protein, dairy and gluten in that order are the most common pain triggers for RA. Without these in my diet and with the intense amount of healing food that is super easy for my body to digest my gut is healing.

Paddington says it took him about two years to not wake up with the stiffness and the pain, but within 4 months he was able to run again.

I will be excited to go back to my doctor in 3 weeks on the road to feeling better and see how he might help me continue in this journey. But I know these things for sure: Even if I have to be on a Vegan eating plan forever RA will not keep me from having a full life, I will do whatever it takes to pick up a grandchild in the years to come, I will be able to hold my husbands hand without it hurting, I will be grateful for where I am today, where I was yesterday and where I will be tomorrow. Thanks be to God.

God made our bodies to heal themselves...like a cut on the hand. But in my case I was not creating an environment that was conducive to that healing.

Here is the link to the RA Program I am using.
http://www.paddisonprogram.com/store/paddison-program-for-ra/

I found the You Tube video's by Dr. McDougall VERY helpful! This video not only addresses RA but all the other auto immune diseases as well. You can find a full eating plan on Dr. McDougall's website and everything on the site is free. So there is no necessity in paying for anything if you go this route.
Here is his website. https://www.drmcdougall.com/
Here is a link to a great video:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ldsMEHV8OxI

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.


A MEAL WITH LOVE
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 www.leafwoodpublishers.com/ by Cathy Messecar, author and speaker, married for 45 years. www.cathymessecar.com

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.

Prayer
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

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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 www.leafwoodpublishers.com/  Married for 45 years, she enjoys writing and spending time with Dave, who still asks her out for Saturday night dates. www.cathymessecar.com

Marriage on Lent Day #31



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


Marriage
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.

Marriage on Lent day #30

Let's keep praying for those around us.


Thank you to Terri Wolfe for today's Marriage on Lent post.

Thought from the Heart
When two become one, there is a family. Together you create a home. And though you are one, each brings a different emphasis to the words ‘home’ and ‘family.’ Often we stress over individual roles within this new-to-us structure. What is my role? How am I to behave?
But what if, instead, we strove to explore the true mystery of marriage that is as mysterious as the concept of church.  What if we let Christ be the head? What if there was neither man nor woman but, instead, a mutuality of being that sought to be obedient to the head, regarding each other as better than self, loving one another as Christ loves us, not defining ‘roles’ as apart from each other but only exploring ‘role’ as one, seeking servanthood?
Perhaps the result would not be “I” but “we”. Perhaps the outcome is not ‘my will’ but ‘thy will’. Perhaps the separation would blur and the two diverse bodies of gifts and talents and cultural baggage and church expectation would instead form a single entity in which desire to be one triumphs over competition and definitions and shows the world that marriage, lived as one, is as mysterious and unexpectedly beautiful as the presence of Christ in his church.
Trinity is always surprising us: choosing the least, turning things upside-down, thinking outside the box. Why wouldn’t the same be true of marriage? How can any two marriages look alike? Our marriages should confound those who do not include the mystery of living as one.
Dare to listen. Dare to be one. Dare to be the mystery.
A famous nun, seeker of God, prolific writer in an age of great illiteracy, glimpsed the unexpected God who dwells among His people and who sees our hearts and understands our needs. And she reflected on this in regard to our relationships between each other and between ourselves and Trinity. Here are two things she wrote that reflect the powerful force of living deeply into the mystery of our marriages.

“Home is a place where the great are small and the small are great.”
And
“Our Lord does not care so much for the importance of our works as for the love with which they are done.”
-Teresa of Avila
Prayer
Father of All,
Thank you for seeing us as we are, where we are. Thank you for your example of love that blows away all of our meager concepts. Help us to cling to you together.  Help us to be one in our marriages even as we strive to be one with you. Help us to understand True Love through the power of Jesus’ life and with the help of your Holy Spirit. Give us your strength to live our marriages in the mystery of You. Amen.

Marriage on Lent Day #29



Thanks Delynda Gray for suggesting this video for the series. Let's continue to pray for people to know they need Jesus in the middle.

Restore by Chris August



Nobody's growing old together, we've made it easy just to quit
Love has become a negative percentage, why do we bother to commit
We've got a long list of excuses, ways we try to justify
Well, I propose to you the truth is, marriage does not have to die

[Chorus:]
I know you're feeling like it’s falling apart and it can't go on anymore
But God is a God who knows how to heal so just give it up to the Lord
And He will restore

He said with this ring I promise, and with I do she said forever
But right now if they're being honest they don't know if they'll stay together
Let's fast forward to the future after struggling on their own
They finally figured out they needed Jesus in the middle
Now I'm watching God rebuild their home

[Chorus]

The enemy tries to come and divide
Trying to get us to give up the fight
But darkness will always lose out to light
'Cause we've got the power of Christ on our side

I see you growing old together
I pray I find a love like yours

So if you're feeling like it’s falling apart and it can't go on anymore
God is a God who knows how to heal so just give it up to the Lord
And He will restore

Like it was before
You may have strayed off course
But He will restore

Marriage on Lent Day #28

Let's continue to pray for the marriages of those around us. Let's not give up but continue in faithfulness to intercede for the hearts of the many in our daily path that could use prayers of encouragement.

Thanks so much to Terri and Brad for their testimony of where God has brought their marriage.

Testimony from the Heart
The first 18 years of our 27 (as of this April) years of marriage were not very good. In fact they were horrible. At one point I just thought it would be easier if my husband would die...come to find out he thought the same thing. 

My husband had brought some sin into the marriage I didn't know about and it really scarred me and caused a lot of distrust and anxiety. We were not believers when we married, we believed in God but had no personal relationship with Him. 

We didn't know about the gospel, giving our hearts to the Lord, confessing our sins, and Jesus being our link to God. That happened at different times for us, Brad coming to that place first, and myself in 1997 when we started attending a bible-teaching church. I heard the gospel message for the first time and gave my heart to Jesus and really started hearing and learning and applying the word of God. 

But, that didn't fix our problems. And we each have a different version of exactly how our marriage was fixed...Brad says that God told him on a certain date (and he can recite it by heart) that we would not argue for a year from the day He spoke. I say that I began to pray earnestly that God would make me the wife Brad needed (not necessarily wanted) and that he would accept that and we'd have the marriage God intended for us. Probably, it's a combination of the two. 

But, I can tell you that our hearts were softened, God was allowed to work, and our marriage did indeed get better and in fact very peaceful and fruitful. Today nobody would ever guess our marriage was in shambles 10 years ago. Our small group was shocked when we confessed this, they thought we were "Barbie and Ken." We had a good laugh at that one. Hopefully this will be an encouragement to someone else.



Scripture

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God...Phil 4:6.

Terri and Brad

Marriage on Lent Day #27


Many thanks to Gene and Charmaine Boone for their thoughts on marriage today.

Gene and I have been married 53 years and we look forward to being together many more.  We are always thankful just to be together during these latter years as so many don’t have that joy in their lives that we do.

We hope some of the words we’ve provided from our heart, will bring peace and joy to others as they search for stability.

Prayer for Married couples in general….
Oh Lord, hear me as I pray; I thank thee oh God for your providence which brings human hearts  into the bonds of human love, so like the love divine.  Accept in Heaven, thy dwelling place, the union of hearts which have been joined together with thy blessings.
Grant that these ties which have bound these together may grow stronger with the passing years.  May they trust each other with a perfect confidence and together trust in you for guidance and help.  Prosper them in the temporal things according to your purposes in grace; and may they triumph through faith in Jesus Christ and find an abundant entrance into your everlasting kingdom.
May the grace and the love of God; the strength and the Spirit be with us forevermore.  In Jesus name, Amen.

Thoughts from the Heart
We both believe that honest communication from the heart, with each other will be a blessing and strength for a long and healthy and loving marriage.  Your faith in our God will give you the strength to give honor to your marriage vows and that ability will shine through to your children.

Favorite scripture…
Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.  Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have because God has said, ”never will I leave you, never will I forsake you”.  So we say with confidence, “the Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid”.  What can man do to me?
                                                                                                                                                                Hebrews 13: 4-6

Marriage on Lent Day #26



Thank you to Donna Ware for sharing her thoughts with us today. 
My sister gave my niece some great advice on her wedding day.  She told her, “some days you will look at your husband and think you are the most blessed woman in the world and there will be other days when you feel you have ruined your life.  Just remember marriage is a commitment to love even when you don’t feel like it.”
Too often we go into marriage with starry eyes and imagine a perfect life with a perfect mate.  However, it won’t be long before we realize that are mate is not perfect and guess what, neither are we!   No human can meet our expectations all the time.  Marriage is a commitment that when you don’t feel loving, you still act loving.  Even when you want something different, you do what is best for your husband/wife.  Marriage is work and sometimes you have to do as Paul Faulkner once said, “act yourself into a better way of feeling.”

Prayer
Father, forgive me when I have been selfish towards my husband/wife.  Help me to see the best in all things and to act loving even when I may not feel like it.  Thank you for your example of committed love through your son Jesus. 

Scripture
I Corinthians 13:5-7  From the Message
“Love never gives up.  Love cares more for others than for self.  Love doesn’t fly off the handle, doesn’t keep score of the sins of others.”

Marriage on Lent Day #25


I am hoping you will join us on our 40 day journey of praying for the marriage's of those around us. My sweet friend told me once, "wedding problems are always a spiritual battle," and so with our prayers to the Father, they will be our weapons to fight with God for the hearts and unions of those around us. So get your list and join us in prayer.  The guest posts will bless those who are praying and also those of us who are married or know married people. I love that each post is very different. Get ready for some wonderful encouragement and powerful thoughts and prayers. Enjoy these blessings.

Thank you to Jennifer Bartlett for her post today.

Thought from the heart on marriage:
Rob and I spoke the sweet words of Ruth 1:16-17 to each other on November 17, 2006.  It was an intimate candlelit service in a tiny little white antique wood floored chapel in the woods.  It was absolutely breathtaking-- not in the regular (Grand Canyon beauty) meaning of the word, but it literally took my breath from my body.  For a minute, I think I stopped breathing.  But, at that moment, God breathed back into me the most amazing sense of peace for the life altering choice that I had just made that precious November evening.  I had publicly knitted the fibers of my heart to a man that God chose just for me.  Never did we dream of the roller coaster ride that we would then embark on within a year of our "I-do's", but honestly, I wouldn't change a thing.  If I did, then I would be telling God that His plan was not good enough for me.  I would also be missing out on the incredible amount of spiritual growth that God has so graciously brought me through.  

My friends, I could write more than a hundred pages of the account of the trials that Rob and I have had to experience in almost seven short years of marriage (several major surgeries for Rob; childless at 40/45 years old; reuniting of Rob and his Dad after 36 years of separation; losing his dad within four years of finding him; walking through colon cancer with my then 36 year old sister in law who had 4 precious babies at the time of diagnosis; having my dad sustained twice on a ventilator...just to name a few).  I have been asked more times than I can count "why did you stay", "how do you do it", "what keeps you faithful"?  It's quite simple.  My God...the Great I Am.  The Alpha.  The Omega.  My Creator.    There was a time that I did question God and quite frequently would ask Him "why me Lord, WHY ME?".  His answer was quite simple, and painfully clear.  "My child, WHY NOT YOU?".  Punch to the gut.   My Abba was right and the sound of His words was more piercing than a thousand of the loudest whistles in my ear.   Why NOT me?  Why NOT my marriage? Why NOT my husband? Why NOT my family?  

At times I couldn't go another step.  But, instead of curling up and dying in a dark corner, I decided that The Lord Himself had CHOSEN me.  He set me apart. He set Rob apart.  He CHOSE our marriage to minister to other marriages...to other people...almost at every turn.  Yes, my friend, there were some incredibly dark days.  But when I finally grabbed hold of the truth from The Lord that these trials were not punishment but pruning, it was liberating.  It was a compliment from my precious Savior.  He has big plans for our marriage and our testimonies and He has to refine us by the fire.  Yes, that fire has been quite painful at times.  It has often robbed me of what felt like every ounce of oxygen in my body.  But the Giver of life continues to breathe through me.  He continues to sustain me, as He has always promised that He would.  He continues to do the same for Rob.  And in the process, we have seen the fruits of our trials lived out as blessings to others as our trials ministered to them.  The verses in Ruth that we spoke that candlelit night--well, they are what I have clung to in my marriage.  I can close my eyes and remember that night...the smell of the candles burning, the smell of the old wooden pews mixed with the sweet smell of the flowers that surrounded us...and then I hear us reciting God's word to each other. And at that moment, God's peace washes over me like a sweet rain shower.  He reminds me that He created perfection and that He is continuing to perfect us through Him daily.  He breathes that sweet reassurance into me that I so desperately need in order to take another step.  God is good.  He is faithful.  He is trustworthy.  He is our advocate. 

Dear friends, I can assure you with the greatest of confidences that my God has done all that He has promised me in His Holy word and He has at times delivered and at other times simply sustained.  His sustenance is amazing and like none that we could ever forage for ourselves.  

Scriptures
Psalm 119:73-80
"Your hands have made me and fashioned me; Give me understanding, that I may learn Your commandments. Those who fear You will be glad when they see me, because I have hoped in Your word.  I know, O Lord, that Your judgments are right,  and that in faithfulness You have afflicted me. Let, I pray, Your merciful kindness be for my comfort, according to Your word to Your servant.  Let Your tender mercies come to me, that I may live; For Your law is my delight.   Let the proud be ashamed, for they treated me wrongfully with falsehood; But I will meditate on Your precepts.  Let those who fear You turn to me, those who know Your testimonies. Let my heart be blameless regarding Your statutes, that I may not be ashamed."

Jeremiah 29:11-14
"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.  Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you.  You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.   I will be found by you, declares the Lord, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the Lord, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile."

Prayer
Dear Abba, I pray that those who come to read this will come to realize and experience the joy that truly does come in the morning, especially those going through trials in their marriages and in their lives.  I pray that Your words of peace and comfort would envelop those who feel overcome and overwhelmed by storms and trials in their marriages.  I pray that you would help them to hide Your word in their hearts daily so that their power of recall will hush the storms of doubt that the Enemy will most certainly stir up.  I pray that they will know and experience Your great power and that they will be a blessing, a witness and a testimony to others as they weather these times that will most certainly come.  We thank You Father for the storms and trials and the refinement that they will most certainly produce.  We thank You for Your sustaining power and grace and I humbly ask these things of you on behalf of those reading this and for myself and for my husband and family.  Thank You Abba that it IS finished.  In Christ's holy name, amen.

Marriage on Lent Day #24

Please join us in praying for the marriages of those around us.
Thank you to Mike Ricker for today's post.


I am no theologian, nor am I a Bible scholar. I’m certainly not a marriage counselor, I’m not even qualified to write a column for ‘Marriage on Lent’. But by Tammy’s invitation, and prodding, here goes…….

Had Tammy requested one of her friends address what ‘not’ to do in a marriage, I would have been the #1 guy. 180 degrees opposite of what folks like Max, Beth or Zig would have promoted. Looking back, I always put God 2nd, sometimes 3rd in my life. I was there for my family at all times, I stayed faithful to my wife, I attended all of the kid’s activities. I had them in church every time the door was opened. Or maybe I should say I drove them to church. But that’s enough of the self-deprecating history lesson.


Men, we’re called to be spiritual leaders of our families. There’s plenty of scriptural basis for that. Strong men, strong fathers translate into strong families. I don’t say that to mean that we should rule over our families. A team is much stronger than an individual. A strong team is more diversified, more adapted to handle challenges and threats. And if a wife wasn’t intended to stand by a husband’s side, then Proverbs 31 would have been a big waste of papyrus, wouldn’t it?

When I count my blessings, #2 on the list is a wife that was willing to lead a family and patiently wait on her husband to join her. My #1 blessing? That would be a graceful God that was there by my wife’s side, and also waited patiently for me to join her. Where I worship, I see young, Godly men leading our church and their families. I applaud them. But chances are good that there are good men that aren’t taking an active role in leading their families, that aren’t taking advantage of every beautiful opportunity that God has laid out before them. I count myself among the blessed, I was shown the way before it was too late. 

So guys, if you’re in that 2nd category? Man up! Experience what our Lord has laid out before you. It’s really not that difficult. I am a police officer, a traffic cop. Most everything I do in my line of work is derived from an S.O.P., and penal code or a transportation regulatory guide. When I began my walk with the Lord, I needed a guide. I found my guide in the Book of James. It’s not a big book in comparison to other books of the Bible, just five chapters. But in those five chapters, you’ll find practical, useful guidance for everyday living. 

Throughout the Bible we learn how to experience the fullness of life that God has promised us, taste those things! Pray out loud, while holding her hand. Study the word, together. Give, and be amazed at how God keeps his promise. Those are just three things you can do, there are countless others. Strengthen your walk, and prepare to receive His promised blessings!

Scripture – James 1: 16-18  So, my very dear friends, don’t get thrown off course. Every desirable and beneficial gift comes out of heaven. The gifts are rivers of light cascading down from the Father of Light. There is nothing deceitful in God, nothing two-faced, nothing fickle. He brought us to life using the true Word, showing us off as the crown of all his creatures.

Prayer – Father God, thank you for the daily opportunity to grow closer to you and to strengthen ourselves through your Word. And Lord, thank you for 2nd chances. You are a patient God and we thank you for waiting on us. Lord, we also thank you for the opportunity to share our faith with our brothers and sisters, and in turn to learn from them.

Lord be with us every day. Be with us as we grow our families. Be with us as we seek wisdom through your Word. Lord we thank you for your son Jesus Christ who walked this Earth and lived a life as an example for all of us to follow.

In His holy name we pray this prayer, Amen.

Marriage on Lent Day #23


I am hoping you will join us on our 40 day journey of praying for the marriage's of those around us. My sweet friend told me once, "wedding problems are always a spiritual battle," and so with our prayers to the Father, they will be our weapons to fight with God for the hearts and unions of those around us. So get your list and join us in prayer.  The guest posts will bless those who are praying and also those of us who are married or know married people. I love that each post is very different. Get ready for some wonderful encouragement and powerful thoughts and prayers. Enjoy these blessings.

I would like to thank Steve and Marsha Ridgell for today's post.

Message from the Heart
Lord willing, we will have been married 40 years this coming May.  Over the years we have had our share of pain and sorrow.  There have been hurt feelings and crushed feelings.  There have been little hurts… and horrible hurts.  Unintentional and thoughtless hurts.  Intentional and devastating hurts.

Hurts happen in every marriage.  In fact, if you get much past the honeymoon you will have to deal with pain. 

But God has granted great healing.  We are blessed beyond anything we could have ever imagined.   We have seen healing and reconciliation in many other couples over the years.  And we learned something that is essential to long, happy, productive marriages.

Forgiveness.

There are four things about forgiveness we have learned that helped us make it this far on the journey.  And as an elder and wife, these are four things we share with all the couples who sit in our living room trying to get past the pain, tears, and hurts.
                 
1.      Ask for forgiveness when you should.  When you hurt your mate, ask forgiveness.  It does not matter why, or whether you think you were provoked.  It does not matter if you think your mate is overly sensitive.  When you hurt them, ask forgiveness. 
2.      Extend forgiveness.  Don’t keep a record of the wrongs.  Don’t throw out past issues.  Say it, mean it, and let your actions express forgiveness.
3.     Receive forgiveness.  When your mate forgives you, receive it with joy and thanksgiving.  Quit beating yourself up.  Quit looking for excuses.  Don’t blame your mate.  Accept forgiveness.
4.     Live forgiven.  Don’t do it again.  Work on improving your communication.  Jealously guard your relationship.  Hang out with people who model forgiveness.

You will need forgiveness in your marriage.  Often.  Sometimes you will need to will need to ask for it, or to extend it.  Sometimes you will need to receive it.  But you will both need to live it.  Everyday.

So …

Prayer
Father, you modeled forgiveness for us.  Fill our marriages with love, grace, and forgiveness.  May our children learn it.  May our world see it.  We promise to ask for it, extend it, receive it, and live it.  By the power of Jesus and in His name we ask for your blessing.  Amen.

Marriage on Lent Day #22


Many thanks to Jennifer Kahla for today's post.

Scripture
Ecclesiastes 4:12
12 Though one may be overpowered,
two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

Message from the Heart
Sometimes the things that draw us to our spouse are also the things that make us crazy as time goes on. But I am reminded that God created us, both man and woman, with all of the uniqueness that comes with those 2 basic descriptions. We are meant to complement each other and by doing so we make a stronger unit than if we were simply on our own or simply with someone who thought just like us. During times of trials, friends have asked Steven and me how we were handling things. It has consistently amazed me that when I am falling apart, he isn't and yet when he has those rare moments, I am the stronger one. We are able to hold each other up because we seem to take turns losing it. To me it is just another way that God blesses me, both individually as well as in our marriage. And like the verse says, when you add in the 3rd strand, God, it is even stronger still.

Prayer for Marriages
“Father, Thank you for making us different. I praise you for how wonderfully we each are made. Lord, help me to appreciate the differences in my spouse and use me to strengthen our relationship. I lift up these marriages to you and ask you bless them in their uniqueness as individuals but more importantly as a unit. Draw us into a cord that will withstand the challenges we will face in this life.”

Marriage on Lent Day #21

 I am hoping you will join us on our 40 day journey of praying for the marriage's of those around us. My sweet friend told me once, "marriage problems are always a spiritual battle," and so with our prayers to the Father, they will be our weapons to fight with God for the hearts and unions of those around us. So get your list and join us in prayer.  The guest posts will bless those who are praying and also those of us who are married or know married people. I love that each post is very different. Get ready for some wonderful encouragement and powerful thoughts and prayers. Enjoy these blessings.

I would like to thank Dr. Alan Wages for sharing his thoughts with us today.

Message from the Heart
If you’ve ever read any article, book, or blog post about successful relationships, then you probably have a good idea about how to maintain a ‘successful’ marriage. It’s like most other relationships we develop – focus on trust, common interests, communicate clearly, and be respectful in your times of conflict.  However, where a marriage veers from everyday relationships is the emotional investment placed in marriage. If it is a “To death do part” kind of relationship, then it’s also a “Bet the farm, I’m all in” relationship – and that kind of emotional investment has an underlying component to maintain over time. For me, it’s the most critical component, for it contains the very nature of our relationship connection and the motivation from which to be intentional in making marriage work well. 

I believe emotions are at the core of being human. They are tied to any belief, opinion, desire, dream, viewpoint and behavior we have. In fact, our brains are wired to take into consideration our emotions when making decisions. So for me, ideally, marriage is a unique opportunity where 2 people express vulnerability because they choose to emotionally invest their emotions - their humanity - in a life spent connected with another. Now that’s an investment! You could also call it a core commitment in marriage. So when I call my wife Rachel “the one”, to me it means I am committing to the care and concern of her emotional well-being, and I’m trusting she will take care of mine as well. While I am not responsible for her emotions, I do commit to being a co-caretaker of her emotions alongside her. So, when I show interest in her interests, I am showing care for her emotions. When I empathize with her current emotional state and circumstance, I am a caretaker of her emotions. When I plan a romantic date, I am that caretaker. And when life’s routines and responsibilities increase so much that we begin to lose focus on our marriage, I remind myself and her of our investment of caretaking –through notes of affirmation, acts of service, or any other message of love.  All because  to ‘love’ her means to look after her emotions. Yes, spending time together, sacrifice and forgiveness, and communication are all vital in marriage. But for me, I need to know “why” that’s a good thing. I affirm her and show her love because I am co-caretaker of her emotional well-being alongside her. And when I invest in her emotional well-being, I believe I have established a ‘successful’ marriage – one that is enriching, long-lasting, and honors God in our relationship.

Scripture
"I am my beloved's and my beloved is mine."  Song of Solomon 6:3

Marriage on Lent Day #12



I am hoping you will join us on our 40 day journey of praying for the marriage's of those around us. My sweet friend told me once, "wedding problems are always a spiritual battle," and so with our prayers to the Father, they will be our weapons to fight with God for the hearts and unions of those around us. So get your list and join us in prayer.  The guest posts will bless those who are praying and also those of us who are married or know married people. I love that each post is very different. Get ready for some wonderful encouragement and powerful thoughts and prayers. Enjoy these blessings.
Many thanks to Dee Ann Andrews for today's post.

A DAILY MORNING PRAYER FOR OUR MARRIAGE

Abba Father, thank you for this new day of life you have given us. We thank you for all the blessings You have so blessed us with because we know that ALL good things in this life come from you.  We come to You now asking You to be present and to guide us in all we do as a couple in this marriage.  Help us this day to seek to serve You more by serving each other, in love.

Give us the sense of Your presence with us, because we so often falter and worry and feel so insecure about the struggles we are in and become overwhelmed.  Help us to realize that this moment – today – is all that we are promised, so may we take a deep breath and then walk with You moment by moment through this day, trusting You to work things out for us, according to Your will. We trust you to do this because of your promises to us through Jesus Christ. In His Name we pray. Amen

THOUGHTS FROM THE HEART ON MARRIAGE

These thoughts on marriage are very personal from us, Tom and me, to you.  When I asked him what he thought was the number one most important factor in a good marriage, he said – not love, as I was expecting him to say – but “trust.” He continued, “What I mean is that I trust you to always have my best interests at heart and you trust me to always have your best interests at heart.” You can love each other very deeply, but if you do not trust each other, then you have real work cut out to each change yourselves to be a trustworthy partner.

OUR FAVORITE SCRIPTURES WE OFFER AS A BLESSING

Trust is all tied up in love, itself, which is so well described for us in one of our favorite passages, I Corinthians 13. Read this passage together and to yourselves as many times as day as you need to do so, to think before you act, and then act in the ways of love! Always! We had this passage read at our wedding and printed out on parchment paper to give each of our guests, because it is our guideline for living a Christian life, in marriage and in all things.


THE WAY OF LOVE

I Corinthians
14:1                 Follow the way of love  
13:8                 For love never fails . . .

13:4                 Be patient and kind,
                             Envy not,
                             And do not boast.
13:5                Never be proud,           
                             or rude,           
                             and seek not your own.

                       Do not easily be angered
                       And keep no record of wrongs
13:6                For love does not delight
                            In evil
                            But rejoices in truth.

13:7               Always protect,
                      Always trust,
                      Always hope,
                      And always persevere.

13:13             Faith will become sight,
                      Hope will become promise,
                      There remains only love.


J. B. Phillips translation

One more passage we chose to have read in our wedding is a charge not only for women, but for both of you to cling to each other always until the end of this life shall separate you. It is taken from the book of Ruth, as follows:

But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. 17 Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the LORD deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me.”

At the end of each day, pray together and with your children, if you are so blessed, thanking God for bringing you safely through the day, no matter what life problems remain, and asking for rest and sleep through the night.

May the Lord richly bless and keep each of you who read these words.