marriage

Refreshing Springs Through the Valley of Weeping

With our daughter’s wedding upon us and friends and family are beginning to arrive, our house is quickly being filled with chatter, laughter, and a little chaos.

Although I am extremely blessed and excited for this marriage to happen, I can remember a time when going to weddings was extremely painful for me. I was going through my separation and divorce and even the thought of going to a wedding made my stomach turn.

I tried to be happy for the couple, who were so in love that nothing could hold them back. But, I wasn’t feeling it. I struggled. A lot. I remember being at a small bridal shower and crashing to the floor because I had a grand-mal seizure. I was rushed to the hospital, where my friends stayed with me for hours to make sure everything was okay. Well, I wasn’t okay-mentally or physically. I just ruined a fun party and I felt horrible for the bride-to-be as her special day ended up in the ER as a result of me.

Now, many of my friends have experienced the loss of their spouse. I feel for them. Even though I haven’t been through the pain of becoming a widow, I do remember feeling alone and seeing joyful couples all around me and wondering if I would ever be happy again. Through all of the pain, I had to hold on to biblical truths. I love Psalm 84:2 “I long, yes, I faint with longing to enter the courts of the LORD.”

This is not our home! This sin-filled, selfish world is not our resting place. Oh, how I so look forward to the day when I get to see my Savior face to face. No more sorrow. No more suffering. Peace and love will fill me every moment.

It’s through the difficult times that we get our focus off of us and turn to the one who brings joy unspeakable and we experience Christ in a way that we couldn’t fathom.

In a few days I will stand with my daughter and watch her marry the man of her dreams. This is a time of rejoicing! I am no longer sad at weddings. I am joyful that God created a union between a man and a woman that would cause us to no longer be alone and to walk out the trials and joys of life together. I am especially thankful that God gave me my current husband, who is my soul-mate. We would not be having this wedding without God, who healed my epilepsy, gave me new life in the way of three children, and has given me streams of living water through the trials.

“What joy comes for those whose strength comes from the LORD…when they walk through the Valley of Weeping, it will become a place of refreshing springs.” Psalm 84:5,6

family, marriage

Little Things…

We are a little over a week away from our daughter’s wedding! Everything is happening so fast and As you know, I have been thinking quite a bit about love and marriage.

We have all been battling a nasty cough and this week it was my husband’s turn. He has been trying to get rest and taking all his medications that help with this head cold.

One day after I was finished teaching school, I went in to see how he was feeling. I gently took his hand and held it. He looked up at me and said, “Your touch brings healing to me.” I was stunned at how just a simple gesture can mean the difference between depression and desperation to hope and healing to someone.

We know we need touch. It’s one of the five love languages and it’s an important one. For me, touch was always on the bottom of the list. My husband on the other hand, loves touch and it was number one for him. Even though touch wasn’t my first love language, I have grown over the years to understand that it is very much needed and it has moved up on my list to number three.

Jesus touched the unclean. He went out of his way to heal the sick; to touch the untouchable, to make himself unclean, so that another could experience life and living water.

Living in Mexico we see plenty of unclean people. Some are just dirty, some have lice or other diseases. I hate to admit it, but several times when I offer a hug to one of these “unclean” people, I think to myself, am I going to contract something? But, then I say a prayer of forgiveness and ask God to do a work in my heart. Because in reality, do I want to sacrifice convenience for disobedience to the Father?

What if physical touch to the person in front of you meant life or death? What if putting a hand on a shoulder or shaking a hand and really meaning it, provides the hope they need to make it through one more day?

The neat thing is, in marriage, touch produces life; life to the marriage feeding the soul, and life in the form of a newborn baby.

“Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man…immediately the man was cleansed of his leprosy.” Matthew 8:3

marriage

The Love of Marriage

This past weekend we had a bridal shower for my daughter. Let’s just say it was absolutely amazing! I feel like I can say that because I wasn’t the one who coordinated the whole thing. Actually, I had a very small part in it as the groom’s family wanted to bless Sarah and took care of everything. I did get to share a devotional and this is what I shared:

Marriage is an intensely personal thing. We know our spouse like no one else knows them: habits, moods, wishes, regrets, sins, giftedness…we get the inside look. The trick is to take that knowledge, the beautiful, the difficult, the work in progress, and to really LOVE our spouse. To SERVE each other. Not just the wife serving her husband, but the husband serving his wife, also; To know the truth and be faithful because of and in spite of it all. It is a privilege and a responsibility to know someone so well, and to commit to being faithful to them “until death do us part.”

There is a famous passage in literature that is a scene between a convict and a Catholic priest. It is from Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables. Jean Val Jean is a man who stole bread to feed his starving family, and he was caught, convicted and became a hardened criminal through his years in chains. He was convicted because of a crime committed out of love, but the hardship and the hatred that surrounded him changed him into a frightening man.

When he is finally released from prison, he cannot find a place to sleep; his reputation as a criminal is made clear by the papers he is required to show at any inn in which he attempts to stay. Finally, a priest allows him to stay in his home, he shows gracious hospitality without fear. He allows him to sleep near the cupboard where the silver is being stored for the night, and he shows no need to protect himself or his property. Jean Val Jean steals the silver, and escapes into the night, only to be caught and returned to the priest’s home. When he is brought back, the priest declares that the silver Val Jean has stolen was a gift, and that the only problem the priest has is that his guest had not taken the candlesticks, also. They are so valuable, and they could be of such use to him in his new life. The stunned police leave, and the priest is left alone with Jean Val Jean. This is what he says to him:
“Jean Val Jean, my brother, you no longer belong to evil, but to good. It is your soul that I buy from you; I withdraw it from black thoughts and the spirit of perdition, and I give it to God.”

Although we can’t BUY another’s soul, the priest was a beautiful example of love; he knows the criminal and his crimes, but he calls out to the man with love and it changes the man’s life. We all need to be reminded of our true identity, our identity in Christ as new creatures, reminded of the fact that God calls us Beloved and that we are clothed in righteousness. It is so easy in the pressures and mess of life to forget who we really are. As a married couple, we have the privilege of seeing one another day in and day out, we really know each other’s habits and behaviors, when those things reflect Christ-likeness and when they don’t. But even when they don’t we know who God says they are. We can remind them of their real identity. LOVE them as the priest loved a hardened criminal, without fear or self-protection.
1 Corinthians 13, the chapter on love, says in verse 7: LOVE bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. May you give to one another a love that knows and bears and endures through it all.

This gift to you is this candle. Candlelight is an amazing thing. It creates romance, it hides the laundry pile that we didn’t quite finish, it softens wrinkles and bad hair days, it creates a soft glow that is beautiful. May the candlelight set the stage for romance, may it create soft light that radiates beauty. Let this candle remind you, above all else, of Christ’s light, but also Jean Val Jean’s story. May you believe and hope for each other, calling out in each other your true identity as a Son and Daughter of the King. May that bring you great hope and an anticipation that He is doing a great work in each of you, in your marriage, and in your future together.

Adapted by Christine Landis
original by Diane Miller

Please feel free to like and share this post.

family, marriage

Letting Go…

It’s been an emotional last few days for me. Wedding plans are being made, we have DIY projects all over the living room, and the dress has arrived!

I am excited for my daughter in this new adventure she is embarking on, but it has been stirring all kinds of emotions. I find myself reflecting on milestones in Sarah’s life…first tooth, first steps, first heartbreak.

Learning to let go and let her grow up. I am trying to give advice when she asks and not take over when I see something that can be done better.

We have had many laughs along the way and a few tears. Imagine my surprise when she asked me to be her Matron of Honor! The flood gates opened and the waterfall of tears began. What an honor (thus the name) to be there right by her side on one of the most important days of her life.

I sometimes find myself thinking about Mary, the mother of Jesus. How did she do it? Letting go…watching Jesus do what He did, to be persecuted and beaten? I’m sure she cried out to God for comfort, pouring out her heart to the creator, the one who could stop the atrocities from happening to her son.

Now, I am not comparing our daughter’s wedding to crucifixion, even though marriage does require self-sacrifice and self-denial. I am just reflecting on moms in the Bible who have had to “let go” of their children. I think of Abraham’s wife, Sarah, and the Mother of Moses. Hannah also comes to mind, who kept her promise and gave her son to the House of Lord where he learned under Eli. All are amazing women, who saw the bigger picture and didn’t stifle their children.

I am so looking forward to that day when I see our daughter walk down the aisle, to hand her off to the man we have prayed for all these years.

I pray that as she leaves our nest she will learn to fly together with her spouse in unity and strength!

Eph 5:31  “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”

Eph 5:32  This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.

Eph 5:33  However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

marriage

Day 30 Prayer: Marriage

We are on our 30th day of praying for our spouse and children. What a journey this has been! What you may not know is that the Lord put this on my heart about six months ago. I didn’t want to obey. My first thought was, that means I have to write every day. I enjoy writing, but with my busy schedule, it can be difficult to find the time to write. My second thought was, could I actually write about marriage for 30 days? Well, I have found plenty to write about and God provided not only the words, but the time.

We have covered a lot of ground this month. We’ve looked at communication, our speech, faithfulness, love, and so much more. My prayer is that we would continue to pray for our families. One of the ministries, here, in Mexico has a motto that says, “Fight for Families.” I love that. We are fighting. We are fighting against the rulers of this dark world (Ephesians 6:12). Your spouse is not your enemy. I want to urge you to fight for your marriage because there is nothing that shines the love of Christ brighter in this world than a healthy marriage.

Early on in our marriage, I realized that people don’t wake up after 20 years of marriage and decide to get divorced. It happens over time. Every day you are either drawing closer to your spouse, or drawing farther away. For instance, if you have an argument and you don’t resolve it. The next day you wake up harboring bitterness and that anger or resentment keeps growing until you come back together and can forgive. If you just keep going day after day without resolving the issue, you soon realize you have grown so far apart you don’t even recognize the other person.

You have to keep building that relationship. You have to come together, daily and talk, commune, spend time listening to one another, joking, laughing, and crying; sharing thoughts and emotions.

God created marriage. It’s a good thing. It’s a place where life begins. Is it difficult? Yes. Does it expose our weakness? Yes. But by understanding our weaknesses, we then can go to our Heavenly Father and ask Him to change us into the beautiful vessel He wants to make us into.

I used to believe that I was just a pile of broken glass laying on the floor, waiting to be swept up and tossed into the trash. The Lord showed me one day, that instead of a pile of dirty broken pieces, I was a beautiful glass mosaic candle holder, waiting to shine His light through.

That can be you, too, regardless of the past you have. No matter what your marriage was like yesterday. Today is a new day, my friend! Take hold of it! Tell Satan to back off and rejoice because we know the One who conquered death! When your spouse walks through that door, love on him! Tell him how much you appreciate what he does. Find something to affirm him. You will be blessed when you do.

Day 30 Prayer: Marriage

Lord, thank you so much for creating the unity of husband and wife. Help me to see the beauty of it even when it’s difficult. Please take away my selfish pride, jealousy, and anything else that prevents me from seeing my spouse the way you do. Give me the grace to be able to love regardless of what I get in return. I want to love with a selfless love. Help me to be patient and kind, always forgiving, and never rude. Remind me that when my husband wraps his arms around me, it’s as if you are saying “I love you.” Thank you for creating marriage and giving me someone to love.

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

 

marriage

Day 29 Prayer: Covenant of Love

We have been on a journey of praying for our marriages and families. Today we are going to look at love.

1 Corinthians 13 is called the love chapter for good reason; it shows what love is. “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-8

When we look at these verses, we can immediately see how we fall short. But, if I were to replace the word love with God because God is love, (1 John 4:8) we see that God is able to do all these things. For instance, God is patient, kind, does not envy or boast, etc. Best of all, He never fails.

The exciting thing is that the more we abide in Christ, the more we become Christlike, thus making us capable of loving our spouse and others the way it is described here!

The word covenant means contract, bond, or promise. Many covenants have been in the Bible. God made a covenant with Noah and Abraham. There was the covenant of the law, but now we are under the new covenant that forgives our sins and we can go directly to God through Christ, which enables us to one day be His bride! (Hebrews 7:12, Hebrews 9:14-15) God made this promise long ago in the garden with Adam and Eve. He was going to fix the mistake they made. He loves us and wants us to be with Him forever. He was going to send His one and only Son to die a brutal death, for us. It was painful for God, but He knew it would be worth it in the end.

If you are finding it difficult to love your spouse or anyone who has wronged you, go to God and ask for Him to give you the ability to love them. It’s starts with being humble and crying out. Its recognizing where your heart is. Do you have a heart of stone? He can replace it with a heart of flesh. (Ezekiel 36:26)

I have seen marriages turned around because one person was willing to start praying for the desire to even want to love their spouse. Love doesn’t give up. It keeps hoping, it keeps praying, regardless of how long it takes.

Day 29 Prayer: Covenant of Love

Thank God that He provided a way for us to be with Him forever.

Pray for the ability and the desire to love your spouse and kids the way it is described in 1 Corinthians 13.

If you haven’t done so already, memorize 1 Corinthians 13, so when evil thoughts arise, or you find yourself responding rudely to your spouse or kids, you will be reminded of these scriptures and react appropriately.

marriage

Day 28 Prayer: Thankfulness

When you are newly married and in love it seems hard to understand how you could possibly fall out of love, or even think of the word divorce.

Yet, as time moves on and the excitement dies down, we find ourselves in a mundane life. So, how do we prevent mediocrity to settle in?

I believe thankfulness is one of the keys to a healthy marriage. We need to show appreciation to our spouse for the daily things they do. We can so easily take for granted the little things that are done each day.

Appreciation and gratitude were lessons I had to learn living off-grid. My husband worked hard each day trying to make my life easier for our family on the mountain. He made sure I had a warm house by chopping firewood. He would check our water holding tank to see if I had enough water in the house. (Our water came from a natural spring on the property and we had to haul it into the house.) I didn’t always express my thankfulness. Looking back, I wish I had more often.

Thankfulness changes our attitude. One of the things I try to do with women when they complain about their husbands is ask them if they can think of one good attribute in their spouse. That’s where it starts – thinking of one good thing. When you are angry or hurt it’s easy to come up with an assortment of frustrating things in your spouse. It begins to snowball and an avalanche of negative thoughts ensue.

When you change your thinking and have a heart of gratitude you can stop bitterness in its tracks.

Look at the life of David in the Bible. He was thankful. The Psalms are filled with praise and thanksgiving. In reality, he had a hard life. But, he knew who his provider was. He understood where his strength came from. He cried out to the Lord, pouring his heart out in anguish, always recognizing the Lord was God and David was not. He was respectful.

We have to choose to be thankful. Ten lepers cried out to Jesus asking him to show mercy. He responds and heals them. How many came back to say thanks? One. Only one. Jesus changed their life and only one came back?! Shame on us. Shame on me for not being grateful in every day miracles.

The sun rising and setting. Waking up to a confident man in my bed every morning who loves me. Having three beautiful kids that are growing into godly children of Christ. Having wonderful friends who encourage me when life is hard. This is my list of things I am thankful for today.

What are you thankful for?

Day 29 Prayer: Thankfulness

Write out a prayer of thankfulness. Thank God for what He has done and is doing in your life. Include things you love about your spouse and kids. If you can’t think of anything ask the Lord to show you something.

“Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good. His love endures forever.” Psalm 107:1