Wednesday, August 26, 2015

8 Things I Have Learned this Year About Marriage

I have had a few requests for a post about marriage.

 I haven't touched this topic for many reasons but none of them are good ones.

I don't have the perfect marriage-not that one exists anyways! 

My husband and I are both Christians, but we definitely struggle.
We have different ways of expressing our faith, we have different ways of communicating, we have different ways of planning and scheduling, we have different ideas of what is fun and what is not, we have different ways of putting the toilet paper on the roll! (ha)

Throw in the mix a three-year-old and a seven-year-old, a very high energy dog, full-time work for both of us and lots of sports practices and we have many ugly moments in our home.

As I prayed about this post I recognized that I actually have come a long way in the past year or so and how I handle marriage problems.
God is so good to point this out to me!
So God gave me the confidence to share with all of you. 
Marriage is hard.
There are so many reasons why.
As a woman who works outside the home, working can impact marriage big time.
But working outside the home is not the root of our marriage problems.
The root of our marriage problems always is sin.

Many women who work outside the home feel that they don't have enough time to nurture their marriages.
Many women who stay at home feel that they don't have enough time to nurture their marriages.

Many women who work outside the home feel that their children's needs drain them so much that they don't have anything left for their spouses.
And yes you guessed it, stay at home mothers feel the same way.

At the end of a working day, we are left with only so much time to connect with our spouses and nurture our marriage.

Again- whenever there is conflict in marriage, the root of the problem is always sin. My sin, his sin, my children's sin. All of it. Yes, sometimes there are things that need to change and adjustments need to be made. But ultimately, sin is our enemy.

If you're experiencing conflict in your marriage, I can assure you – you are not alone. There is nothing new under the sun, and your issues and struggles with your spouse are not a surprise to God...

So here are the main things I have learned over the past year:

1. I need to approach my husband in humility, respect and love. If I cannot do this, then I need to remain silent and wait for the right time. If I have to remove myself from the situation in order to stick with this principle, then I need to remove myself from the situation.

2. I need to appreciate and verbally praise what I see my spouse doing for my family on a daily basis. I especially needs to do this in front of my children. Speaking words of life into my home is one of the most powerful things I can do for my marriage.

3. I need to check my perspective before banking my emotions on it. Just because I have a certain perspective on a conflict, does not mean that is the correct perspective. Many times, the way I see things are very different than the way my husband sees things. Before I attach great emotion to what may be happening within a conflict, I need to ask God to give me a healthy perspective.

4.  It is not my job to change my spouse. Everyone is more content when I remember that it is not my job to change my spouse, convince him, or to control him. I can be true to myself and to my wants and desires and then leave the results to the Holy Spirit.

5. Conflict in marriage is often a powerful tool that God will use to draw me closer to Him-keeping me on my knees and increasing my dependence upon Him...

6. There are many needs that I have that my husband cannot meet. I need to identify those needs and be proactive in seeking out ways to get them met. For example – I need to feel understood as a woman and as a mother. If I expect this from my husband, I will always be disappointed. I have to arrange monthly coffee dates with friends.

7.  I need to believe and have hope in God's best for my marriage, while at the same time, leaning on the promise that when I feel something lacking, that God will give me what I need in each day. He will always be enough.

8. I need to remember that there is always a bigger picture. When I look back upon difficult moments in my marriage, I can see how God worked. I can see how I have grown and I can see how my husband has grown. This gives me hope and perspective.

I hope that some of these things have encouraged and helped you!

Let me know what you think! Are you struggling in your marriage? Can you apply one of these eight lessons I have learned? What happens when you do?

I recently found an amazing resource online that I will share with you:

Friday, August 14, 2015

Roots, New Life and Renewed Hope

Well I had just about had enough.
We were on vacation and it had just been one of those days.
My kids were overtired and overstimulated.

My husband even had to take a break, heading into town for some groceries, which turned into a four hour escape from the craziness in our little cabin. We joked with him later on, that we would have to hide his keys next time :-)

My seven-year-old had a total meltdown when his little brother was given a promised red popsicle that I was not aware of, that was promised the day before by his Grandpa. There was nothing I could do to get him to calm down and I was just beyond frustrated.

I went outside and sat on the front porch of the cabin in a rocking chair for about 45 minutes and had some major mommy quiet time.

Later that afternoon I decided to take a hike by myself and I asked God to show me something as I was feeling a bit disconnected from Him and feeling like pretty much a big fat failure for the day.

As I hiked I found what appeared to be a dead tree.
Obviously knocked down by a storm.

It didn't look like much, but for some reason I stopped and stared at it for a while.

And the more I looked, the more I saw. I was amazed that among the dead-ness of the tree, that there were bright green leaves sprouting out from a certain point on the tree.

I stared at it for a while and thought about how it could be possible that this was growing from this dead tree. So I investigated some more and went down to look at the roots of the tree, which from my point of view looked as if they were totally ripped out of the ground.
But upon closer look, I saw something amazing –

There was one fairly large root still rooted into the ground.
I tried to pull at it and dig around it and it was very solid.
So I just sat there and looked at this for a while and the Lord really spoke to me.
He reminded me that even when things appear broken, knocked down, hopeless and even dead –that if, there is one strong root connected to LIFE, that new life can still grow.
He reminded me that although that morning had felt like a big hot mess in my family, that because I was still rooted in Christ Jesus – that he would bring new life into my family.
I looked at this root, and it gave me hope.
As working moms, stay-at-home moms, homeschool moms, single moms, a mixture of all of the above moms- we have moments throughout the day that can leave us feeling pretty much beaten down, knocked over  and all dried up just like this tree – moments when we are tempted to reflect on our present situation and to see a lot of brokenness and mess.
I want to encourage you – just as the Holy Spirit did me –
If you remain rooted in Him- He will bring new life into even the most hopeless looking situations.
Colossians 2:6-7 states- "Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude."
John 15:5  states- “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing."
No matter what is going on in your life right now, continue to abide in Him and he will bring new life into those dead places within yourself and your sweet family!
If you feel discouraged this week, be sure to remember that things are not always as they appear. Take some time to look closer at what God is up to and ask him to show you where that new life is growing when you can't see it for yourself.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

My Rambling About Words

Ever since I was a little girl I have always been in love with blank paper. How weird am I?

I have  also loved journals- filling them up was a thrill to me.

I love taking the thoughts in my head and seeing them on paper. For some reason, this act always calmed me. When I would fill up a journal- it was such a sense of satisfaction to me. I don't really know why? 

Maybe just knowing that I had something to say made me feel important. 

I've always thought that people's words were important.

Proverbs 25:11
Like apples of gold in settings of silver, is a word spoken in right circumstances."
I love getting cards. I love buying cards for people.  
I could stand in the card aisle and read cards forever-looking for the perfect one for whom ever I was trying to express myself to. 

I love decorations that have words on them.  I recently printed out some Scripture prayers and put them all over my kitchen and they make me smile...  

I have also always loved the library. LOVED it. Perusing up and down the aisles and filling my little bag up with anywhere from 5-10 books/week was my delight. And then I would curl up and dive in- for hours.

I remember my favorites- Ramona, Sweet Valley High, Babysitters Club, Nancy Drew, and I always loved the Choose your Own Adventures books... Do you remember some of your favorites?

I said it before and I will say it again – your words, your story matters.
It matters for so many reasons, more than you can ever imagine. 
And not just the shiny parts matter, the dark, and, lonely places matter as well.    

When you share your story with the world, you have the opportunity to do a few things:

1. You get to bring God glory with your story as others see the hand of God moving in your life.

2.  You get to give the gift of "I've been there too" to someone who is walking a similar road as you.
My obsession with words has let me to blogging... 
It has also helped me love my job, where I get to write my client stories...

But the greatest gift of all is the living word-Jesus Christ.

John 1: 1-3, 14
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.

And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth."

Hebrews 4:12
"For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart."

It amazes me that Jesus is called the Word.  
He was there in the beginning.  
And then He became flesh.
He walked the path that we walk and He left behind His word – the Bible. The words in the Bible are no ordinary words – they are living and active!

We have the word living in our hearts when we accept Jesus into our hearts. How powerful is that!

So there you have it. My rambling about words. 
I love words.
I want to encourage you to share your words, your story with someone. 
You can share your story here-anytime.

When People Hurt You

...I started writing this post a couple weeks ago and had to take a break. I hope it encourages someone who is feeling hurt...

Sometimes people say words that really sting. Sometimes people ignore your needs, your feelings, and don't even seem to see you. Sometimes these are the people who are supposed to love you the best.

What do we do when people hurt us?  I'll tell you what I usually do- I shut down, I become passive aggressive, I hurt back. My defenses go up and my focus is on self protection.

One of the things I know for sure, is that God is pro-relationships. God wants our friendships, marriages, etc. to be positive, nurturing, and loving.

Another thing I know for sure, is that people are sinners. People struggle, they have bad days, they have bad weeks, months and years. And sometimes these are the people that we live with, work with, do ministry with. And yet – there is a purpose for these relationships that we have.

Additionally, people also come with their own "blueprint" for how to navigate relationships – and often times the blueprint contains a lot of lies and unhealthy ways of relating. Sometimes we can look back in a person's past see where the patterns were established. This perspective can often times give us grace and a bit more understanding.

Lastly- I know that my initial impressions and hurt feelings cannot be my guide to how I react to the person who has hurt me. They really cannot. Easy for me to say, hard for me to apply to my life. But I want to try. 

One thing I try to remember when I am hurt by one of my main people, is that there is nothing more that Satan loves than to divide. 

So my focus needs to be on uniting.

No matter what the other person's response, no matter how I feel,  I need to remember what my focus is – to stay on the same side, remain on the same team, and to link arms-at least in prayer- if anywhere else, with the person who has hurt me. The only way, is through forgiveness.

A really cool thing about God is that he can take a small offering and make it huge.

 He can take my small amount of forgiveness and if I offer it to him in obedience and humility, He can make it enough. 

The other thing He can do- is use my moment of pain to draw me closer to Himself.

I was feeling hurt the other day, and a song came on the radio – the same song came on the day before, I sang it, but the words did not resonate with my heart. The day that I heard it after being hurt, my heart grabbed a hold of every word and I sang them in total worship.

When people hurt us, is no fun. But I have also learned that God is able to take those moments and bring about some of His glory.  And when I am in this moments of hurt, all I need is a little glimpse of what He is up to that I can hold onto the hope that it is not in vain.