Who are you talking to?

“Who are you talking to?” Elijah asked.

That is just one of the crazy conversations I had with my kids while I was trying to record myself.

This weekend I worked really hard to make a video for a post at Ask God Today entitled “Anastacia Maness Speaks Out“. It goes along with this month’s series where you get to meet each of the members of the Ask God Today Ministries’ team.

If you are visiting my site from Ask God Today, welcome to my blog. I hope you find some encouragement while you are here.

As promised here are the Out Takes from that video. You can also view the out takes on my YouTube channel.

Be sure to watch this whole video to see my surprise guest.

Tell me in the comments when you find her. 

 If you haven’t already, please go over to Ask God Today and watch the actual video. In it I share a little about myself, my testimony, and my passion. 

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Let Your Arrows Fly

familyreunion2014

My grandmother and parents with their arrows.

 

My brother, Jason, posted a message on our mother’s Facebook wall. It was about the verses in Psalms that talk about children being an heritage of the Lord.

“Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward. As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate.” – Psalm 127:3-5 KJV

In his message to our mother he told a story of another missionary, 

Hey Mom, I saw this and made me think of you and Dad ….
“I’m reminded of what Jim Elliot wrote to his parents after informing them that he was being called by God to the jungles of Ecuador as a missionary. Like any parents, Jim’s folks wished for him safety and security, a steady income beneath his feet and a roof over his head. But he said to them:

Remember how the Psalmist described children? He said they were a heritage from the Lord, that every man should be happy who had his quiver full of them. And what is a quiver full of but arrows? And what are arrows for but to shoot? So with the strong arms of prayer, draw the bowstring back and let the arrows fly–all of them, straight at the enemy’s hosts!”
Love ya’ll and miss you.

This was my mother’s reply and I thought it was so beautiful it had to be published.

Jason, thanks for sharing this!! I love it!!! I do constantly pray for you as a missionary and Stacie and Sarah as preachers wives. It is true about the comfort parents feel when their children are doing well financially. But money isn’t everything.

I feel much better about the safety and security of my children knowing they are serving the Lord because I know he is better at knowing what is best for you all than I am.

I am thankful that the Lord blessed us with a quiver of 3 wonderful children and that you are all serving him.

France is a long way from here and if Stacie and Scott go to Argentina in the future, it is about the same distance from here. And even though Palestine, TX is not that far from us, it is still too far for me to see everything that is going on in Sarah’s life and help her through everything I would like to.

But these places are not far from the Lord. In fact, He is right there with all of you and can give you a comforting hug when I can’t. I will continue to pray for the arrows we were given to land where He wants them to and comfort me when I get to missing our arrows too much and hopefully allow us to fly over and visit them or them fly our way occasionally.

I love my parents. I consider it an honor to be one of their arrows. 

I pray when my children are ready to leave our home they will fly straight to the target God has for them. I’m sure there will be moments I will be scared for them. There will be times I will have to sit back and watch prayerfully from the sidelines. 

It might be tempting to hold on tight to those arrows in fear that they might break. However if I don’t let go would they be fulfilling the purpose God has designed for them?

Have you ever had to let some arrows fly? If you haven’t had to let those arrows go yet what do you think the hardest part will be? Please share your experiences of letting go in the comments. Those days are coming upon us quickly as our son Joshua will be 17 in June. I would love to hear your experiences and advice.  

 

Don't Quit

Have you gotten our free book “Don’t Quit: Build a Legacy of Commitment”? If not click on this picture to sign up for your free copy today.

 

Linking up with Susan B Mead’s #DanceWithJesus link up.

 

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Husbands, Love Your Wife

In my last post I talked about Not Why but How I Love My Husband. There were lessons there that could apply either direction. My husband follows that same pattern in showing his love for me.

wedmelody

Our Wedding Day — November 28, 1996
My husband wrote a melody and sang it to me during our wedding.

Today I want to go deeper into how a husband should love his wife. Did you know that the Bible actually addresses husbands directly on this one? Yes. There is specific direction in the Bible for husbands to love their wives.

It is easy to be infatuated with someone when you first meet. However infatuation fades with time. 

“Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.  

So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself.  For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.

 

For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.

Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.” (Ephesians 5:25-33 KJV)

Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it. 

 A husband that loves his wife should be willing to give his life for hers. Just like a parent that loves their child would rush into ongoing traffic risking their own lives to save the life of their child. A good husband will protect his wife. Just like Jesus loved us so much He willingly died to pay our debt.

That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.

Jesus Christ takes care of His church in order to present it to Himself.

A husband needs to be the spiritual leader in his home. A husband that sets out to raise his family to follow God can look back over his life and present his family before God.

I picture that day as I stand beside my husband in Heaven and we look over all of our children that were also taught to follow God. I imagine my husband saying, “Lord this is the great work you blessed me with. Here is my family. I present them to you.’

I know God would say, “Well done, my good and faithful servant!”

So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself.

Alright, guys, here is a verse that shows it’s okay to be selfish. Yep, the more you love your wife the more you love yourself.

It does not mean to love your wife for selfish reasons. It means that if you love your wife the way you should love her, then she will be a blessing to you and will help you. In essence the better you treat her the better life will be for yourself.

For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church:

What do you do when you are hungry? You eat.

When you feel dirty? You bathe.

Tired? Rest.

That is cherishing your body. 

How do you cherish your wife?

Hold her when she is crying. Feed her when she is hungry. Do what you can to provide what she needs physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.

We are a part of God’s body. Each member of his body has a purpose. The eyes see. The ears hear. The hands pick things up. They may be individual parts but every part is one with the body. They all work together. 

God made husbands and wives to have different abilities and to work together as a team.

For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.

Once you are married you no longer live with your parents. You are now on the same team as your wife. Together you honor your parents but do not side with them against your wife. 

Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.

It is amazing and hard to understand the similarities between a husband’s relationship to his wife and Jesus’ relationship with His church.

This is how a man loves his wife just like he loves himself. A love that will do what is best for her.

That does not mean to be like a parent making your kid eat her vegetables.  But do what is best for her as a partner. Encourage her. Be her biggest fan! 

and the wife see that she reverence her husband.

Wives, don’t undermine your husband’s efforts. If you see he is trying to show you love, accept it and encourage him as he steps up to being the real man and husband God would have him to be for you.

He needs your encouragement not criticism.

Don’t criticize. Encourage.

Husband’s do you love your wife like this? Wives do you let your husband love you this way? Go ahead and tell me about it here.  

If you don’t have this kind of relationship there is no better time to get started than right now.

Get your marriage back how God would have it be.  You’ll be so glad you did.

Right here my husband and I were going to have our first podcast for you but… Podcasts are a lot harder to pull off than we thought!  So… after a million takes (slight exaggeration) we decided I should go ahead and post this and we’ll keep trying. One day we’ll stop trying so hard and probably have a perfect podcast. :)

So instead I want to share this blog post I recently found over at Time Warp Wife.  Check out When You Love Your Wife You Love Yourself for another point of view.  

~~ Anastacia ~~

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Dear Children: A Letter from a Mom

I am writing this letter to my children. Perhaps your children might benefit too.

kidsread

Dear Children,

As your parents, we want you to know that we really do understand.
Your father and I have been in your shoes before. We grew up in different homes and under different circumstances. Those differences in our raising helps us to better know what challenges you face today and in the future.

God expects you to honor and obey us even though we are not perfect. Learn from our mistakes. Be respectful even when… especially when you disagree with us.

Not all children have godly parents. They need good examples to watch how a family should be. You may one day be a mentor that a child will look up to. Set a good example of love and respect. You never know who is watching your life and wanting to be like you.

“Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;) That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.”

– Ephesians 6:1-3 KJV

The Bible says to honor your parents. Give us the respect God intended you to give.

Listen to the wisdom from our years of experience. Listen as we share what God has given us to share.

Be obedient children. If you obey, life will go much better for you. You will be learning from us and will not have to make the same mistakes we have made.

You will one day soon be embarking on your own life and adventures. Soon it will be up to you to make your own decisions. You will not be able to blame your father and I for what choices you will make. It will ultimately be up to you what you do with the rest of your life.

It is hard on us as parents to see you feel bad. When you realize you are weak in an area, we have trouble pointing out what you need to work on. We want you to know right now, we love you and only want you to be the best you can be. You should strive for your highest potential.

It is okay to feel bad about the things you do wrong. We don’t always have to feel good about ourselves. We need to feel guilty at times. How else will we know we need help if we never allow ourselves to feel how terrible our mistakes are?

God can give us the ultimate help and greatest relief from our pain. If we never feel bad, we will never strive to be better. We all need to do better.

This does not mean to drag yourself in the dirt and be depressed. No. I’m saying to realize your weaknesses. Make the necessary improvements. If you do, you will be a stronger and wiser person.

There is a place for humility. It is very easy to be proud of ourselves and of our accomplishments. It is a difficult thing to remain humble. People appreciate a humble spirit.

Be willing to put others before yourself. Be slow to brag on your own accomplishments. Be quick to praise other’s accomplishments. That is what it means to be humble. It is okay to realize you are doing well. No matter how old you are I will always love you to call me to tell me everything that you have done. I am and always will be proud of you.

Treat people the way you would want to be treated, even if they do not treat you the same way in return.

God knows your heart. Pray to him. Tell Him your regrets and fears. He is always there to listen and help.

Always remember that God loves you. He will always be there for you even if your father and I can’t. God is always ready and waiting for you to call on Him. Just as I say that I’m just a phone call away. God is even closer. He is just a prayer away. You don’t have to get your phone out and dial a number for Him. All you have to do is speak and He is right there with you to listen and help.

I have so much more to teach you. I’m very thankful that God gave you to me. I am very proud of you. I love you!

Love,

Mommy

If you could write a letter to your children or grandchildren what would you write? If you have a blog consider writing a letter to your own children. If you do please share the link with us in the comments. I would love to read what you have to say.

This is Day 24 of 31 Days Building Commitment. Only 7 days to go in this series. If you want to see a basic outline of where this series is going check out my book “Don’t Quit: Build a Legacy of Commitment“.

Tomorrow I will take a break to tell about our Jonathan’s Birthday.  Breaks like that won’t count in the series they will simply be added bonuses sprinkled in. :)

Thanks for following!

~~ Anastacia ~~

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Raising Children In a Messed Up World

As parents, there are a lot of things we may worry about concerning our children. They are a gift from God. They are a precious treasure that God has entrusted into our care.

childrenclass

A typical school day at our home. Our children working on their lessons.

“Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward. As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate.”

– Psalms 127:3-5 KJV

We love them, invest our time in them, teach them…

They start growing up and we begin to look around. We start looking at the world from a parent’s eyes. Who will our children marry one day? What kind of homes are our children’s future spouses growing up in right now?

It’s hard to think that my future daughter-in-laws and sons-in-laws are alive right now and I won’t know anything about them for quite a few more years.

Oh… but those years are passing quickly!

I cannot know what my children will face in their future but I can prepare them now as they start to step out into this world of brokenness.

These are the things my husband and I will teach our children now, while we wait.

  1. How to find the answers in the Bible to the different situations they may face.
  2. How to resist temptations that will be thrown at them.
  3. How to pick the right person to marry.
  4. How to be committed to their spouse no matter the storms that may come.
  5. How to set a good example for their families.
  6. How to teach their children.
  7. How to say they are sorry when they make mistakes even to someone younger than themselves.
  8. How to treat someone that thinks differently from them.
  9. How to speak words of praise for other people’s strengths.
  10. How to gently encourage someone to grow through their weakness.

My children have all different personalities. I have the quiet ones and the talkative ones. Some of my children are full of energy and extroverted while others are silent and introverted. I teach them how to get along with one another despite their obvious differences.

One day they will most likely marry someone much different from themselves. Their spouse will most likely have a different background. They will face their own challenges. I cannot predict what those challenges will be because they will be starting their own families.

It is our job as their parents to prepare them in the best way possible. I am praying for my future children-in-laws that God protects them through whatever situation and temptation they may face.

I also pray that God gives me and my husband the wisdom to teach our children these things. It may seem like a terrible thing to bring children up in a cruel world. Then again this world be even worse if God’s children didn’t raise up more jewels to bring beauty in this world of pain and suffering.

Your children are gifts from God for you to love and cherish. Teach them right.

Many times children will marry someone just like their mother or father. Are you modeling the kind of marriage you want your children to have? Do you treat your spouse with the kind of mutual respect you want for their marriages?

What are some lessons you want to teach your children before they grow up? Please tell us about them in the comments.

This is Day 23 of 31 Days Building Commitment. Only 8 more days to go. In my next post I will be addressing children and what they need to do.

This series is based upon my book “Don’t Quit: Build a Legacy of Commitment” which you can download for free here.

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Husbands: How to Stop a Nagging Wife

In today’s post, I’m specifically addressing husbands. I realize that there will be a lot of wives reading along and I have an idea some of you husbands may be reading this because your wife shared it with you (or stuck her laptop in your face) and said, “Look, Dear! You have to read this!”

If you are that husband, what I am about to tell you should help you stop one of the biggest complaints men have with their wives.

Nagging!

“She told me once. Why does she keep bringing it up over and over again? I told her I will get to it in a little bit.”

Ah the misery of a nagging wife… In fact this very thing was addressed in Proverbs.

naggingwife

Art Credit: Joshua Maness

“Better to live on a corner of the roof than share a house with a quarrelsome wife. … Better to live in a desert than with a quarrelsome and nagging wife.”

– Proverbs 21:9, 19 NIV

Woah… Don’t start packing your backpack yet. I’m not suggesting you go on an extended hiking trip in the desert. That really won’t be necessary.

The whole idea of those verses is that if living on the roof and in the desert are bad then having a nagging, quarrelsome wife is worse.

What if I were to tell you that there is something you can do to slow down the nagging, complaining, and quarreling? Would you do it?

Even if your wife has been nagging you for years. You can create a happier wife with very little effort.

Step 1: Do things for your wife before she asks. Start with those things that are easy for you to do. Don’t say anything. Consider it your secret mission.

Okay… I know. Your wife may have already read this before she handed it to you. However, you don’t have to tell her you are going to do this. Just start.

Look around at one thing you can do for her. Let me just suggest one as an example. Dishes. How about that? My husband started helping me with dishes. Now the attitude you take on while doing those dishes is important.

Do it without malice. Don’t be thinking, “Why didn’t she get this done already?” Trust me. Women can pick up on hints just as good as they can drop them.

She can sense when you are doing something because you are holding a grudge or honestly wanting to help out.  Offer to wash while she dries or vice versa. If you have a dishwasher go ahead and load it up.

What did she complain about how you did it? I’ll be addressing her on that issue later. For now, just shake your head and breathe a little prayer. But keep trying. Eventually your efforts will pay off.

Step 2: Set up an easy to maintain list. Whether it is a marker board, shared phone app, or a piece of paper. Have this list where you both can see it. Make it easy for her to write on this list. This will be your to-do list also known as a Honey-do list.

Now I’m serious here. Create a to-do list that your wife can write what she needs help on.

Does she have troubles taking out the trash? Instead of complaining at you all the time she can write this need on a to-do list.

Does she need help putting a lock on a door? She can write it on your to-do list instead of constantly asking you. Most of the time women feel they need to keep asking because they think you forgot.

Does your wife’s constant asking make you more stubborn against doing the job? This list will help. She won’t have to constantly ask you.

This will be your agreed upon method for her to ask. Have a method where she can label the things that are a higher priority for her.

Now the most important part. Make it a goal to work on that list. Even if you only get one thing done on that list in a day. She will see that you are meeting her need for help. If something on the list is something you don’t mind her hiring someone to help. Then write a note beside it, “Hire so-n-so to do that.”

An example in my experience of hiring outside help was with trash. My husband couldn’t always take the trash to the dump for me. Then loading up all my children and several smelly bags of trash in a mini van was a major undertaking.

I was at my wits end when my husband gave me the go ahead to hire someone to pick up our trash once a week. That has been the best investment for me and I still appreciate it to this day. All those days of struggling with garbage is gone with the arrival of the trash truck and all I have to do is get that bag of trash to the curb.

If there are some jobs on your wife’s Honey-Do list. that you don’t mind paying for then go ahead and suggest it. If your wife is concerned that there isn’t enough money to hire it done then find ways to save some money or sell something that you don’t need or want to take care of the cost.

Now I want you to try this Honey-Do list out. Check off any tasks you complete. You will have a much happier and less complaining wife.

Have you ever used a Honey-do list? What do you think wives? Would this make life easier for you? Would you stop nagging if you knew your husband was working on your list? Let me know your thoughts in the comments. Husbands I want to hear from you too. Let me know what you think.

This is Day 20 of 31 Days Building Commitment. Tomorrow, I will be addressing the wives about this same topic of nagging.

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Finding Commitment After Divorce

Last Friday a dear friend of mine, Jill Luna, shared with us her experience having gone through two failed marriages before finally trusting God and His plan for her life. In her post, she tells how God helped her find a husband that would love her and was committed to her even when she was afraid and looking for excuses for him to leave her. You can read the rest of her experience here.

Picture from my book "Don't Quit".

Picture from my book “Don’t Quit”.

Today I want to talk just a little more about divorce. Several years ago, my husband pastored a small church in Kingsville, Tx. For a short time that church offered a program called “Divorce Care” to help divorced men and women to cope through the pain of rejection.

During one of the sessions my husband asked me to talk with the ladies in a separate class while he talked with the men. During the class, we watched a video and then had a discussion time.

One of the ladies in the class asked me a question that has never left me. “How do I find the right person now? Where is Mr. Right?”

I gave her an answer but many years later I’ve thought even deeper on that question. Where can a person find love and commitment after the pain of divorce? How do some people have “perfect” marriages but others just can’t seem to find the right one?

Here is my answer: You have to work on yourself first.

It’s like my husband always says, “God isn’t going to give one of his jewels to swine.”

You must trust Him to find that “perfect” match for you. You must work on your own life and your own weaknesses before searching for another relationship.

A person that immediately jumps into another relationship without drawing closer to God and seeking His will first, will be met with even more heartache. How can they expect to find a happy marriage if they haven’t found God’s will for them first?

They are lonely. They are hurting. They are angry.

One pretty face and sympathetic ear and they find themselves infatuated with someone else that may be just as broken and hurting as they are.

Are they in the right mindset to marry again? But in most cases they do marry this “dream” person and think that everything will be alright.

However they wind up facing the same challenges that they had in their first failed marriage. They are still wounded and hurting and now the wound is being reopened by someone that they thought would comfort them.

Sometimes it is so easy to just quit. Give the excuse that they would be happier apart. Break up. Just to start the cycle again.

This is not how God intended marriage to be!

Marriage is suppose to be about mutual commitment. In the Divorce Care program that our church offered, we recommended that anyone who had gone through a divorce wait a couple of months for every year they were married before remarrying.

This is suppose to give a person time to heal and grow in God’s grace before seeking another relationship to fulfill them. God needs to be the one that fulfills you.

Don’t put all your trust on an imperfect human being. You will be disappointed. However you can always trust God to give you what is best for you. Trust Him!

You can find love and commitment after divorce.

Jill Luna’s story is a perfect example of that. After two failed marriages she drew closer to God. She became active in her church. Jill trusted in God to provide for her emotional needs. Then God provided a man that promised to never leave her no matter what. That is commitment.

Read Jill’s story in her own words here.

That is what I am talking about. If you trust God, he will provide for you.

Sure you can find a sympathetic ear in a bar somewhere but is that really the kind of person God wants for you? Trust God! He will bring the right man or woman into your life.

But prepare yourself to receive God’s best for you.

What do you think? Do you trust God to do what is best for you? Or have you tried to take finding a relationship into your own hands? As always feel free to share with me in the comments or reply to my email if you would like to talk with me privately. I’d love to hear from you.

This is Day 19 in the series 31 Days Building Commitment. If you haven’t already be sure to check out my new book “Don’t Quit: Build a Legacy of Commitment” which is my basic outline for this series.

 

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True Love and Commitment in Marriage

Elisabeth asleep with her hands in my sleeves

Elisabeth asleep with her hands in my sleeves. The picture is a little blurry because it was dark in the room.

I am sure some of you may have missed my posts over the weekend. I decided that if I was going to write about love, marriage, and commitment that I needed to be living it. So this weekend I went ahead and put my writing aside to enjoy my family.

Yes, I could have blogged from my phone. But which is better being in karate class with my family or sitting on the sidelines typing a blog post with my thumbs?

I could have stayed in the car while my family went into the store to buy art supplies, but then I would have missed the chance to offer hospitality to friends we saw in the store.

Saturday night I could have blogged but then I would not have been playing my ukulele while my husband played his viola. And then there was the chess game we played together.

Sunday afternoon, I chose to not worry about writing. Instead, I enjoyed watching our children play with their friends after church. We hadn’t seen our friends in a long while and it was a blessing that they visited us.

We had a Bible Study at our church Sunday night. After we got our children to bed, I chose to sleep instead of write. A well rested mother makes for a much happier family.

This morning I read a book to my 3 youngest children while their siblings were working with some animals on a neighbor’s ranch.

This afternoon I agreed to let my son have a pet rooster. I originally planned to let him start with chickens and eventually have a rooster. However my mothering heart realized he was on a humanitarian mission to rescue a rooster that was destined to possibly be someone’s next meal. A pet rooster might be good for him.

I rocked my baby to sleep for a nap. I do not rock her to sleep at night but for a nap, I do. She is growing up so quickly and I know it won’t be long when she won’t let me rock her anymore. So I rock her with her hands stuck up my sleeves. I haven’t fully figured out why she likes to stick her hands up my sleeves when she is tired but she does. I guess she finds comfort that way.

My husband came home and I listened to how his day went before he left with our son to pick up the rooster. They came back with not only the rooster but a hen as well. I guess they didn’t want the rooster to be lonely all by itself.

And while my husband was gone with our son, he told me I should get this blog post written. So I started this post. I also answered what felt like a million questions.

I then rocked the baby to sleep for the second time. Who was so rudely awakened by a brother coming in asking more questions at the top of his voice.

I can’t stop life from happening around me. Sometimes I have to put what I want aside for my family. I can’t be angry with my children for wanting my attention when I would rather write. My husband needs my attention too. Life cannot be only about me and what I want. I need to also keep in mind others and what they want.

This past weekend I chose to live out building commitment instead of just writing about it. That is what this world needs after all, someone to stand up and set an example of what a committed marriage and family should look like.

Have you ever had to give up something you really wanted in order to show commitment to your family? Please share with me in the comments.

Right now our children are in bed and my husband is washing dishes so I can come in here and finish this post. That is what true love looks like. Doing what we wouldn’t want to do otherwise for the good of the one we love.

This is Day 18 of 31 Days Building Commitment. Tomorrow we will continue the series where we left off Friday with finding commitment after divorce.

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Finding Commitment Against the Odds (Guest Post)

This is a guest post by my childhood friend, Jill Luna. Who shares with us her story of finding commitment.

Neglect. Rejection. Abandonment. These are not three of the prettiest words known to mankind. Upon reading them, most of us may have a mental picture quickly flash before us from a moment in life where we experienced at least one.

The Luna Family

The Luna Family

Love. Acceptance. Commitment. Ahh, now those words, they bring us comfort. Unfortunately not everyone can conjure up joyful memories upon reading those.

For me, marriage was defined with the first set of words. My marriage would fall into neglect. My husband would reject me. I would experience the full force of abandonment.

But this is just how things are in society today. It’s an “out with the old and in with the new” kind of world. When the older version of something just isn’t working anymore simply upgrade to the newer model, right?

That’s not God’s design for marriage. Let me tell you what is: that second set of words. And for those of you out there like me, once you’ve been tossed to the wayside like yesterday’s leftovers the thought of someone ever fully embracing you with love, acceptance, and commitment is frightening.

How frightening?

Let’s put it this way: You’re about to roll doubles for the third time in traditional Monopoly*, and you’re hoping somehow your current landing on the Community Chest will bring you the good fortune of drawing that splendid, yellow Get Out of Jail Free card. Because you suffering once again in the prison of pain from a failed marriage is not what you’re all about. No, no. You’re smarter now. You’ll bail out of this gig first because you’re not going to be the one hurt and left behind this round.

You’ve just got to draw that little, yellow card, you think. Because to accept God’s design…well…is just insane!

But I did.

After two failed (and brief) marriages, I not only accepted God’s plan for marriage but prior to that, I accepted His son, Jesus Christ, and what He did on the cross for my sins. All of the brokenness. All of the fear. And all of the pain. It had to become His, because only He could dissolve it and completely wash it away.

Oh sure, for the first few years I gave my husband every excuse in the book why we should quit—reasons that may have been legitimate (I wasn’t kind to him that day) to great absurdities (I didn’t like my nose). Nothing worked. Why? During our courtship period (a time of counseling by our church’s Singles Pastor), my husband made it very clear to me that—and I quote, “You’re stuck with me.” His tenacity to love, accept, and commit to me were perplexing—and frightening.

Where is that Get Out of Jail Free card?!

My husband’s resolve stemmed from growing up and seeing firsthand what broken marriages can do to people, and he determined early in life that he would marry only once. Through the years, I’ve come to understand that God wants us to surrender all fears of neglect, rejection, and abandonment and to fully embrace His ways. Why?

As Christ began His journey to the cross, He could have easily bailed out, calling on legions of angels to remove Him from suffering for our sins (see Matthew 26:53). But He didn’t. Hebrews 12:2 tells us that, “For the joy set before Him He endured the cross, scorning its shame.” His example is ours to take on as we chose His design for marriage to love, accept, and commit–every day, every decision. And in this we find joy, and fear needs to no longer hold us back.

My husband and I will celebrate our 13th anniversary this weekend. I’ve quit looking for that little, yellow card.

*Rolling doubles three times in a row in traditional Monopoly causes the player to go directly to jail.

jilllunaprofilepicJill Luna has been saved by the grace of God through her Lord & Savior Jesus Christ for 17 years now. In that time, she has been involved in ministry for children, preteens, and youth as well as drama, sign language, and dance ministries. She is a homeschool mother of 3 sons with over a decade of experience in that wonderful journey. She likes dark chocolate and one day hopes to operate her sewing machine successfully.

This guest post by Jill Luna is Day 17 in the series of 31 Days Building Commitment.

Have you ever found yourself in the midst of a painful situation? Do you have a story of finding grace and forgiveness even when it felt the odds were against you? Please share with us in the comments.

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Three Steps Toward a Happy Marriage

sselephantsDuring the early years of our marriage, my husband and I had to learn to work with each other. We also had to learn how to communicate. It wasn’t always easy. I mentioned in my last post that since divorce was not an option we could either learn to live together for life as two miserable individuals or we could work hard to learn how to have a happy marriage.

Today I’m going to share a few steps my husband and I took to build a happy marriage.

1. Don’t give up!

First, we did not give up. This is very important. We may have had moments where we felt like giving up.

“He won’t listen to me!”

“She isn’t paying attention!”

“What is so hard about putting away a simple dish?”

“Why won’t he take out the trash?”

These were all questions we internalized. It would have been pretty easy to keep all those problems internal and not even try to communicate. Neither of us like conflict. If we kept our feelings pent up inside then we wouldn’t have to risk making the other person angry.

But by giving up, are we the only ones truly affected? Will the feelings that I think is being kept on the inside really not affect my relationship with my husband? When I have a problem, I can’t give up and hope it just goes away. I have to be proactive and work with my husband not distance myself from him.

2. Read books on marriage.

This is one thing that my husband and I did a lot of. We really liked self-help books and would read and read. There were some books that I remember really benefiting from. Then there were others that left me crying and feeling hopeless. My husband looked at the ones that made me feel bad and he said not to listen to those. You have to consider the source. Some people are writing from a selfish world view. Even if they are popular books that does not mean they are good.

Some books that helped me were

  1. Wife After God’s Own Heart by Elizabeth George
  2. Opposites Attract Attack by Jack and Carole Mayhall
  3. The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman
  4. Making Love Last Forever by Gary Smalley
  5. The Act of Marriage by Tim and Beverly Lahaye

Those are just a few of the books that impacted my life. I may think of more but those are the ones that come immediately to mind.

From these books I learned that it is a good thing to do whatever you can to show your spouse that you love them. Don’t be selfish with your love. Learn their primary love language and find ways to show them you love them not just in your own preferred way but how the way they like to be shown love.

For instance if your spouse loves to be given gifts and your preferred method to show love is quality time. Then find someway to put the two together. Perhaps you can save up your money and invest it in quality time shopping together for something you specifically need or want. It doesn’t have to be an expensive gift to show you care.

3. Show you care about your spouse’s hobbies.

Do things together. Does your spouse like music. Find an instrument you can enjoy playing along on. Art? Find ways to be creative together. Writing? Find ways to help. Exercise? Put aside your pride and sweat a little.

I had problems with this early in our marriage. I worried over everything. Is taking karate classes with my husband very lady like? There weren’t very many other women in the class. Most just sat on the sidelines. I don’t want to get hurt. I’ll just watch. But just watching and actually taking part are two totally different things. I’ll talk more on this in a future post.

I also had a problem with learning the guitar. My husband was teaching me how to play the guitar. He was impressed with how fast I learned and how well I remembered chords. I was afraid what if I got better than him at guitar? I didn’t want him to feel bad if I was getting that good at it. So I quit trying. I backed off. Then I read, I believe it was in the Opposite’s Attack book, that my husband actually wants me to take part in his activities. He isn’t jealous if I get better at it than him. In fact, he finds it something worth bragging about.

scottstacieocarinasThat little piece of truth had me crying. I told my husband what I read and he said that it was true. He likes it when I take part in what he is doing and isn’t jealous of my learning something faster than him. He is just thrilled that I am willing to join him in the fun.

Now I play chess, take karate class, play various instruments, draw, and write. Any activity that my husband is interested in, I now take an active part. I play games with him. I go outside my comfort zone and take short term mission trips with him. Even shy little ol’ me took a picture with an elephant giving my hair some extra conditioning. (At least I’m not describing what I got in my hair in the above picture. My expression should tell it all.) :)

Right now our biggest project together is my writing. He has been painting some really beautiful pictures to illustrate anything I write. We’re partners and best friends.

Did you find resources that helped you get through the hard times? Do you have a hobby that you enjoy with your spouse? Please share with us in the comments.

This was Day 16 of 31 Days Building Commitment.

Tomorrow, I am honored to share with you a guest post by a childhood friend of mine, Jill Luna. Jill will be telling us how she found love and commitment even after experiencing failed marriages.

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