The Love of a Parent (or Elisabeth Threw up in My Hands)

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Elisabeth is trying to figure out why I gave her a rock and a snake.

“And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?” – Luke 11:9-13 KJV

I made the mistake of telling my husband that I needed God to strike me with inspiration when I was trying to write this post for Ask God Today’s email series on Love.

It’s not that the Bible is short on topics about love. On the contrary there are a lot of great verses that refer to all kinds of love. My problem was I had to choose only one.

Then inspiration hit me like a rock and I grabbed these props and gave them to Elisabeth at our kitchen table.

“When your children are hungry, what do you give them?”

I then compare our love for our children to God’s love as our Heavenly Father.

Little did I know that Elisabeth wasn’t done giving me illustrations for this post.

Yes, she threw up in my room as I was writing this article and after I cleaned it all up her illness gave me more to write about.

Isn’t that how it goes sometimes?

“How many times has my Heavenly Father cleaned up the messes I’ve made? I may have to live with some of the stench, but as I draw closer to Him, I become healthier.

Elisabeth fell asleep in my arms. As I held her close I thought about how comforting it is to know that God is right there holding me close whenever I’m not well. He knows exactly what medicine we need.”

So that is how inspiration strikes this writing mom sometimes. :) As I say in this post, “I’m not a perfect parent. I make mistakes.”

But I’m just glad that God IS perfect. He knows exactly what I need when I need it.

You can read more about The Love of a Parent by clicking on this link or on the picture above.

Have you experienced God’s love in your life? Will you let Him pick you up? Feel free to share your experiences of parental love in the comments. I love to hear your stories.

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Do You Like Me?

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“Do you like me?”

“Mommy, do you like me?” my 4 year old asks me as I wash the dishes.

“Of course, Elijah, I love you!” I respond.

“But do you like me?” he asks with his big brown eyes peering into mine.

A question like that begs for reflection as I try to figure out why he would question whether I like him or not. Surely he knows I love him!

Then as I thought about it I realized what he is really asking.

He knows I love him. He has no doubt about that but deep inside he just wants to hear that I like him too. How can you help but love someone you like? So in his mind if you like someone it’s automatic that you love them too.

You have to realize a little bit about this sweet boy of mine. He’s a friend to everyone. He doesn’t go anywhere without having made a new best friend. He has always been that way.

One year at a large meeting of churches there was a time for Missionaries and their families to stand up in front of the crowd. They invited anyone that wanted to go up there and pray with the Missionaries during a song to do so. Elijah in all of his young excitement burst up there to find a new best friend to pray with.

Yet the question still lingers, “Do you like me?”

We all want to be liked. Don’t we?

That’s why we are afraid to make mistakes. We want people to like us and be our friend and the friends we already have we don’t want to lose.

Elijah’s question reminds me of the question Jesus asked Peter.

Peter was going through a rough time in his life. He had chopped a soldier’s ear off in order to defend Jesus from a whole army. Jesus told him to stop and healed the man’s ear. Then Jesus went with the soldiers without a fight. While outside waiting for Jesus’ trial, Peter denied knowing Jesus three times. Then he ran away as Jesus was killed.

Jesus rose from the dead and revealed himself to the apostles. 

Peter must have still harbored doubts as to his purpose on earth. He was at a point of wanting to give up on his ministry. What good was he after he had denied Jesus? What was he supposed to do now? Finally he throws his hands up in the air and announces to the others, “I’m going fishing!” And his friends followed him.

Then Jesus shows up. The apostles are in their boat and Jesus shouts to them from the shore. Peter jumps overboard and swims to the shore. Then this conversation took place.

“So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, ‘Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these?’

He saith unto him, ‘Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee.’

He saith unto him, ‘Feed my lambs.’

He saith to him again the second time, ‘Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me?’

He saith unto him, ‘Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee.’

He saith unto him, ‘Feed my sheep.’

He saith unto him the third time, ‘Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me?’

Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, ‘Lovest thou me?’

And he said unto him, ‘Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee.’

Jesus saith unto him, ‘Feed my sheep.’ “ – John 21:15-17 KJV

Peter was sad when Jesus asked him this 3 times. Peter knew when he returned to fishing he was giving up on the ministry that Jesus called him to and he was influencing those around him. The other apostles that returned to fishing were following Peter not Jesus.

So Jesus asked Peter, “Do you love me? Do you even like me?”

Things changed for Peter that day. He rededicated his life to following the Master.

Do you love Jesus? Do you like Him?

Don’t just tell Jesus you love Him. Show Him by following Him everyday. It doesn’t matter what you did or didn’t do for Him yesterday.

Today is a new day. Start now!

If you want to know how or where to start feel free to contact me. I would love to show you from the Bible how to have a closer walk with the Master. 

Do you already have a close relationship with God? How about your family? Would you like your whole family to draw closer to God and each other?

I’m working out my blogging plans for 2015. If there is a subject you or your family are struggling with that you would like me to talk about in a future post please don’t hesitate to ask. We have big plans this coming year for building up our Rock Solid Family and I would love for you to join us.

~~ Anastacia “Stacie” Maness ~~

“A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.” – Proverbs 18:24 KJV

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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.

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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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Not Why but How I Love My Husband

I’m excited to be taking part in the Happy Wives Club Blog Tour along with hundreds of inspiring bloggers. To learn more and join us, CLICK HERE!  

“Why do you love your husband?”

Our Newest Addition in 2012

My husband and I pose with our 6th child Elisabeth in May 2012

That is a very interesting question and if I were to answer quickly I would list all the wonderful and amazing traits my husband has.

I would tell about his patience, support, encouragement.

I could tell you about how good a father he is. How much he loves our children and all the times he tells them he is proud of them.

I could tell you about his devotion to God and how good he is at searching for answers in the Bible. I would show you his artwork and how talented he is.

But is that really why I love my husband?

Those are all traits my husband has that I truly love. However, that is not why I love him.

If I said that was why I love him then I could come to a point of not loving him should he suddenly stop any of those things. No! “Why” is the wrong question.

That’s like asking, “Why do you love a newborn?”

Newborn babies do not show love. They spend those first few weeks crying, eating, and sleeping. They are not born giving their parents hugs but yet we still love them. Love is action. The more we love our children and give them the things they need the more our love grows.

The real question is not “Why do you love your husband?” but “How do you love your husband?”

“Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up;  does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8 NKJV)

Love suffers long and is kind… 

I love my husband by being patient and kind to him.
Kind? Yes. Kind as in “Here let me help you with that!” 

Love does not envy…

My husband is very good at art. Much better than I am. I love him by not being upset when he is better than I am.

Love does not parade itself, is not puffed up…

Both my husband and I have strengths and weaknesses. In many cases his strengths are my weaknesses and vice versa. I love my husband by remaining humble and not declaring myself better than him just because I have strengths.

Love does not behave rudely…

I love my husband by being polite. I can’t just think that since we’re married all manners are no longer necessary. How would that look if I were rude to my husband and saved all my best manners for company? I must never take my husband for granted. I love him by being polite.

Love does not seek it’s own…

In other words, Love is not selfish. I love my husband by putting my own selfish ambitions aside and making sure I take care of him. That may mean putting aside my writing and being fully present. It may mean giving up something I want in order to get him something I know he would like.

This does not mean that I am walked over and allowing myself to be a doormat. It means I love my husband so much that my desire is for him to be happy. When he is happy I am happy. Even though some may argue with me, putting my husband first is not self-depreciating. 

Love is not provoked…

I love my husband by not being easily angered. Whether it is something he says or does that tries to provoke those emotions or someone else that tries to provoke ill feelings for my husband. My love for him will not be easily provoked no matter how hard one tries.

Love thinks no evil…

I love my husband by not thinking evil thoughts about him. How can a person love someone that they think badly about. And the reverse how can someone hate a person they only think good thoughts about.

Love does not rejoice in iniquity but rejoices in the truth…

I love my husband by not rejoicing when something bad happens to him. I won’t say, “I told you so!” nor “See I knew that would happen! You should have listened to me.” No! True love only rejoices when something good happens. When my husband is rewarded with a compliment for something he does right. I rejoice in the truth that he is the best! 😉

Love bears all things…

I love my husband even when the going gets tough. My love is strong and will bear the burden with him.

Love believes all things…

I love my husband by not doubting or second guessing him. I believe what he says and not question his integrity.

Love hopes all things…

I love my husband by knowing that the promises he has made to me, he will keep. Hope isn’t a wish. It’s knowing that something will be the way it is suppose to be.

Love endures all things…

No matter the circumstances, I love my husband by enduring whatever trial we must go through together.

Love never fails…

My love for my husband will stand the test of time. It will never fail.

Do you love your spouse? Feel free to tell me how you love your spouse in the comments

I bet you can guess how I know that my husband loves me. Perhaps that will be my next blog post. :)

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Fawn Weaver, the founder of the Happy Wives Club wrote a book about the best marriage secrets the world has to offer.  You can check it out and grab a copy HERE.

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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.

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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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Wives: How to Get Your Husband’s Attention

On Day 20 of 31 Days Building Commitment I explained to husbands how to stop a nagging wife. Today, I want to address wives on how to get your husband’s attention. It’s alright for curious husbands to read along too. 

The common problem I’ve heard while talking with other wives is, “Well, our husbands say they don’t want us to nag, but how else are we suppose to get them to do anything?”

If your husbands read the last post, hopefully you’ve already started incorporating the Honey-Do list.

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Art Credit: Scott Maness

Now then wives… there are other ways you can get your husband’s attention without nagging.

“Impossible!” you say. Well, that may depend on you.

  1. Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives,
  2.  when they see the purity and reverence of your lives.
  3.  Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes.
  4.  Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.
  5.  For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to adorn themselves. They submitted themselves to their own husbands,” – 1 Peter 3:1-5 NIV

First let’s get one thing straight. This is not saying to let yourself go and quit dressing up for your husband.

This is saying that your actions are more important than how you dress.

If you care about who you are on the inside that will naturally roll over to how you present yourself on the outside. Believe me if you quit worrying about making your husband notice you physically and start working on your own weaknesses, he will notice.

He may not notice right off. Sometimes it takes a while for it to register what it is that is different.

What is your normal greeting when he comes home from work? Do you greet him cheerfully with a smile on your face and a song in your heart? Or do you say, “Hello” and start telling him about all the things you still need done around the house?

I mentioned in the previous post that husbands and wives need to create a joint “Honey-Do” list where you can write all the things you need there.

Whether or not your husband read that post you should talk to him nicely about making a list. You get bonus points if you can make it his idea. 😉

When he does do something for you, don’t correct how he is doing it. If he loads the dishwasher for you, don’t tell him all the things he did wrong. That is a sure fire way to get him to quit helping you.

Stay positive. Thank him for helping. If there are dishes that weren’t clean enough you can always rewash them later. Just don’t mention that to him.

Did he do laundry and turn some of the clothes pink? Don’t get upset with him. Think of something positive from it. He could use a new white work shirt anyway. And no one will notice the pink undergarments.

Do you see where I’m going with this?

Our attitudes really do affect our husbands. If he works outside the home, does he dread coming home to complaining?  Or is he excited to get off work and rushes home to see you?

Surprise him occasionally with love notes in his drawer. Schedule in a date night. Put it on your “Honey-Do” list.

Dates don’t have to be expensive. Pick a location. You can go to a restaurant together or even just walk around the park. Turn off your phones and just talk.

Don’t do all the talking. Ask him questions. What was his favorite toy when he was a kid? What was his favorite board game? Remember his answers. You might want to get that board game for a future date night or family night.

Show that what he has to say is important to you.

That is what the verses above mean by being submissive to your husband. You care about him and what he wants.

That does not mean you are to be a doormat and let him walk all over you. It means that you are confident enough in yourself and who you are in Christ that you can give your husband the time and attention he needs.

By doing these things you can win over even an unbelieving husband without saying a word. He will notice that there is something different about you.

The most important thing is to put your confidence in God and what He wants for you.

God really does want you to be happy. He tells you how in His Book, the Bible. Read it. Study it.

Find a church where you can ask questions and learn. Become friends with other church members who will be a good, positive influence on you and your family.

Is your husband not willing to go to church? Don’t nag him to come with you. Ask him if he’d like to come. Make it an open invitation but then leave it alone. Don’t keep asking. If he starts to ask you questions about it then you can ask again. Don’t drive him farther away from you by constantly asking him.

If you are living your life with the joy of the Lord, your husband will notice.

Have you ever gotten your husband’s attention without nagging? Please share your experiences and any other tips you might have in the comments.

This is Day 21 of 31 Days Building Commitment. There are only 10 Days left in this series. I have an idea I will have so much more to write on this topic though.

Once I am done with this series I plan to start putting my next book together. It will be a much bigger and more in depth look at the same topic as my recent book, “Don’t Quit: Build a Legacy of Commitment“. You can download it for free here.

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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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Engagement: The Point of Decision

If this were a step-by-step process (and for some of you it may be) then as you approach engagement you would already be ready. For those that are still single if you listen to everything I share here at this point you will have waited for the right person that God has for you. You would have yourself prepared for this moment when you must decide to either ask or answer the question, “Will you marry me?”

This is a very important moment in your life’s story. Should you marry this person or not? In an ideal situation there shouldn’t be a question in your mind. At some point in your courtship or dating you should have been thinking of this question all along and praying about it.

If at any point in the courtship or dating stage, you have a doubt or a nagging feeling that this person isn’t right for you, immediately call it off. Don’t wait to see if this person will change! You can only change yourself you can’t force the other person to change. So if they aren’t a good person before marriage don’t expect them to be good after. 

The Bible says we are not to be unequally yoked with unbelievers.

unequallyyoked

Art Credit: Joshua Maness

“Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?”

– 2 Corinthians 6:14  

Woah! Woah! Woah! What is this unequally yoked business about?

Let me explain. 

Let’s say you want to plow a field or pull a wagon the old fashioned way. The yoke was the tool used to connect two animals to the plow or wagon. You don’t want to put a cow and a donkey together. They both work in different ways. Two cows would be able to pull together they are both equal in strength. Two donkeys could even work together to pull a wagon.  But you would not want to put a strong animal with a weak animal. 

The Bible says:

“Can two walk together, except they be agreed?”

– Amos 3:3

If you and the person you are thinking about marrying do not agree on important issues, then you need to call it off as soon as you realize they are not the one God has for you. Don’t think you are going to change them once you are married. That’s like that cow thinking it can change the stubborn donkey to pull faster. 

Once you commit yourself in marriage then there is no turning back. If you consider divorce an option, then you were never committed in the first place. Your marriage is doomed before you even say, “I do,” simply because you have no commitment.

Here are the questions you need to ask yourself preferably before you become engaged but especially before the wedding day.

  1. Is this person committed to God? 
  2. Will they go to church with me?
  3. Are they supportive of my interests and talents?
  4. Am I willing to support their interests?
  5. Is this person someone I want to live the rest of my life with?
  6. Do they consider divorce an option? (Do they insist on a prenuptial agreement?) 
  7. Are they committed to you?
  8. Do you feel they are only attracted to you because of your looks? 
  9. Would they still love you if you gained 50 pounds, had thinning hair, and sagging skin?
  10. What about raising children? Do you agree on how you will discipline and train your children? How many children do you both want?

These are all things worth considering. How committed are you? How committed will you be? Before your wedding day, I want you to look your fiance in the eyes and say, “I promise I will never leave you no matter what!” That’s the kind of commitment you need to have before you marry. 

That’s what I told my husband before we married. I chose to be committed to him before he even asked me to marry him.

We had a conversation where we talked about love and commitment. He expressed concern about not wanting to marry someone that would leave him. I told him that if we married I would not leave him no matter what. Even if he tried he’ll never be able to run me off. Of course, I’m not letting him become old and grumpy and he knows that I will never leave him.

I am still serious about my commitment to him. I will never leave him. We don’t even joke about divorce.

Are you that committed to the one you will marry? If you are already married, did you have questions you considered before you decided to marry your spouse? Please share with me in the comments.

Today is Day 12 of 31 Days of Commitment. For those following by email I’m sorry this one is late. We had a meeting with some other churches this morning and I was not able to get this posted on time.  

So I am writing this today but you will not get it until tomorrow which is your today. How is that for confusing? :) Thanks for following along! 

~~ Anastacia ~~

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