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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Commitment After the Honeymoon is Over

You’re wedding day was a success. The two of you either had a short honeymoon somewhere close to home or a longer honeymoon visiting some special place.

You arrive at your new home together. Maybe for the first few days, weeks, or months you still feel you are on your honeymoon. Life is great. You see only sunshine and flowers. Life starts to get into some kind of routine. Perhaps you both have a job and you go back to work. Or maybe just one of you is working while the other stays home dealing with the work that is involved in making this house your home.

My husband and I in our first home.

My husband and I in our first home.

Either way, you begin to see that neither of you are perfect. We are all selfish human beings. Sometimes even the most giving person has a selfish streak somewhere hidden. And if you really truly are unselfish it is because you have worked very hard to get to where you are at. It is hard to consider the other person’s feeling over our own.

When my husband and I were first married, I had to quit my job. It wasn’t a hard decision since the grocery store my husband and I both worked for didn’t allow spouses to work together at that time. My husband had worked for that company longer than I and was making more money per hour. We agreed that I would be the one to stay home.

firsthome

Our First House – built on my dad’s land with the help of family

The first two years of our marriage was probably the hardest. I was not used to being at home by myself. I had grown up with a brother and a sister at home. I don’t think I had ever really been alone much. So it was a struggle for me to adjust to being home next door to my family while he worked and went to seminary.

I attended seminary with him for the first year of our marriage and I believe some of the things I learned there helped a lot. However I was not prepared to stay home and keep house. I kept finding myself going over to my parents for visits and not having things kept up at our home. This was before our first child came along. Looking back I don’t know why it was so hard for me to adjust to married life.ourfirsthome2

I remember during one of our “interesting discussions” as newly weds. (We never used the word argument, I guess we wanted to be able to say we never argued). Anyway during one of our arguments “interesting discussions”, I was in tears begging him to let us move to some place away from my family.

Why was I wanting to leave my family? My husband got along with them. They let us make our own decisions. The reason was I was sorely tempted in my own mind to spend all my time over there. We were very close knit and I realized that all the time I spent over there was creating a void between my husband and myself. I felt that moving away would help.

Do you notice something here? I was not arguing with him. I didn’t look at him as the problem for my own mistakes. I didn’t look at our marriage as overbearing. I was trying to find a way to solve my own issues. I felt moving would cause me to have to figure out how to do things on my own.

My husband hated seeing me cry. He too was having to learn how to live with someone that wasn’t perfect and didn’t know how to do all the things he used to do growing up as an only child. He didn’t have help doing dishes and cooking. What he was having to learn was how to talk to and get along with another person that grew up completely different from him.

Communication and commitment was what kept us together during those trying times. Divorce never crossed our minds. We knew that if we didn’t work out these differences we would being living our entire lives miserable. We didn’t want a miserable marriage. We wanted a happily-ever-after marriage.

Now it’s your turn. What do you remember being the hardest time period in your marriage? Was it the early years or did your honeymoon phase last longer? Please share with us in the comments. I love to hear your experiences.

This is Day 15 of 31 Days Building Commitment. Tomorrow I will be discussing more on marriage and how to build trust and friendship even when your spouse isn’t perfect.

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Marriage: Commitment on Your Wedding Day

The big day has come. You are prepared. You know you are marrying the man God has for you. The two of you have studied and worked through your differences. You’ve discussed your plans. You are ready!

wedding2Now it is time. You are now about to make the promises you should have already made in your heart but this time you will be voicing these vows before witnesses.

Some people use vows prepared by the preacher leading the ceremony. Other’s write customized vows that are more personal. There really isn’t a problem with either of these methods as long as you really mean what you are saying and are not just saying words.

Whichever vows you choose to use, you should be promising to love, honor, and cherish your spouse for better or worse, whether they are rich or poor, while they are healthy and when they are sick. You are promising that no matter what happens you are going to stay together until death. Nothing will part you.

You will put rings on each other’s finger as a reminder of these promises.

What is it you are promising anyway? These are not to be just words.

1. You are promising to love them. Love is not just a feeling. It is something you do for someone else. You will do what is best for that person even if they do not realize that is what they need.

2. You will honor them. Honor means respect. You will not look down on your spouse. You take what they say under consideration and speak well of them around other people.

3. Cherish them. Be there for them. Help them and encourage them. Hold them close.

Think of your favorite possession. How do you treat that item? Do you throw it around and mistreat it? No. You cherish it, treat it with great care and attention. You don’t want to lose it. So you keep it in a special place. When you look upon it you do so with care and joy. You will not let any harm come to it. It is your special treasure.

That is how you should treat your spouse. They are your beloved. You want only what is best for them. You treat them with compassion and care. Don’t break them by saying ugly or mean things to them. Their feelings are valuable. Take care of them. Hold them close and treat them better than you do yourself. If anyone else tried to hurt your beloved whether it is family, friend, or foe, you will not let them. You will defend your beloved with your words and actions.

4. For better or worse. You will do what is best for your spouse whether it is a good time or not. If it is what is best for you or if it seems like the worse time to do what is right. You are still going to be committed to your spouse.

5. For richer or poorer. Hard times will hit. If you lose your job for whatever reason, the two of you will stay together. The bills come in faster than the money is coming in. You will work together to solve the problem. Perhaps you will even have to move into a smaller house. Circumstances will not matter because you are committed to doing what is best for this person no matter what. Even if you have to give up some of the things you love because you cannot afford them at the time. You will do so knowing that your love and commitment to your spouse is above any possession or financial gain you could have.

6. In sickness and in health: If a major illness hits your beloved, you will not leave them stranded and wounded. You will still be there for them. Even if they were to be physically or mentally affected for life. You are still motivated by love, only doing what is best for them. No matter what society says or thinks, you would want your spouse to stand by you if your health had failed. This is the time to do unto your spouse what you would have them do unto you in the same situation.

7. ‘Til death do you part. You will stay true to your beloved. Nothing else will separate you. Divorce is not an option. Should the health of the person cause mental issues that make them abusive, you may have to get them medical help and you may have to keep yourself safe from physical harm. However that does not mean you should leave them. They are still your spouse. Your cherished treasure. If a part of your treasured possession is broken you will do whatever it is in your power to help fix the broken shards that are trying to hurt you.

These things should be on your mind when you commit your life to love, honor, and cherish your spouse. Taking care of this treasure God has given you is worth all the time and effort you need to work on it. If you love your spouse you will be their for them.

Do you love, honor, and cherish your spouse? Please share your experience with me in the comments.

This is Day 14 of 31 Days Building Commitment. Tomorrow I will be discussing how to have a happy marriage after the honeymoon phase is over.

 

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Engaged Preparing for Marriage

Alright! So you read yesterday’s post. You prayed about it and you’ve decided that this is definitely the person God would have you marry. You are both on the same page. In fact you both read that post and were in agreement.

What? You didn’t think about sharing the post “Engagement: Point of Decision” with your fiance? Okay real quick click the link here and go down to the share button and send it. Go ahead. I’ll wait.

engagedThat didn’t take long. After reading that page, I will assume right now that you both are in agreement. Now it is time for the two of you to prepare for marriage.

No. I don’t mean picking out flowers and the wedding dress. I mean preparing mentally and spiritually.

I could write a whole book just on ways to prepare for marriage. For now I will share what my husband and I did.

  1. We decided which church we would attend together. When we first met I was the Sunday School teacher for the teen class at the church where my dad pastored. Scott was a member of a larger Baptist Church where he was helping with an ESL ministry. We decided we needed to choose one place to worship together. I decided that I would follow him and join the church where he was a member.
  2. We had one session of premarital counseling with the pastor of the church we planned to attend together. I think we might could have had a little more counseling but the pastor saw that we were committed to each other and loaned us some videos to watch instead of having us back for any further counseling.
  3. We watched marriage videos and read books on marriage. Now with the internet there are a lot more resources available to engaged couples preparing for marriage than there were 17 years ago. One great resource is Dr. James Dobson’s Family Talk marriage videos. He has also written quite a few books. We also studied Larry Burkett’s books and videos on budgeting and finances.
  4.  We took a marriage and family class together. You may not be able to find a marriage class in your area. However I know there are a lot more resources online now. In fact just going through this 31 Day Series on Building Commitment you will get a lot. When I am done with this series my husband and I may start working on creating an online marriage course through Rock Solid Family.
  5.  We found out our personality types. I remember in the Marriage and Family class we took, the instructor looked at my chart and told Scott, “You won’t have any problems with her. She knows exactly who she is and is comfortable being that way.”  He was mostly right, except the person I was comfortable being was exactly opposite of the man I was marrying. So we still had to learn to adjust and work on our weaknesses and help build each other up instead of hurting each other. And we had to realize that a lot of the things we did differently were a matter of personality and we had to be patient with each other.

How about you? Do you have any advice on ways to prepare for marriage? What resources would you recommend to engaged couples to help them prepare for marriage and raising a family? I know I didn’t cover all of the great resources available in this post so I would love to hear what I might have missed in the comments below.

This is Day 13 of 31 Days Building Commitment. Check back tomorrow as we look at marriage life after you say, “I do.” If you know someone that might benefit from what you are reading here please share any of these posts with them. 

~~ Anastacia ~~

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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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Commitment Overview Day 11

This is Day 11 of 31 Days Building Commitment. I have never posted this regularly before. I think the most I have done in the past is 3 Days a week. At the time I thought that was stretching it. So today I thought I would post this celebratory post for making it this far.

owlAt this point we’ve mostly been focusing on building commitment during the single years of life. In my next post we will be talking about commitment while engaged. If you want to see the basic outline of where I am going with this series download your free copy of my book “Don’t Quit: Build a Legacy of Commitment“.

The timing of my book launch was perfect with this 31 Day Challenge. Sometimes I feel like I’ve bit off more than I can chew but in a way it’s been rewarding too. If you see mistakes, feel free to let me know by email and if the mistakes are in the email please check the website because I may have already made the corrections. I can’t change the email once it goes out.

Now about the owl pictured above. I drew and colored that owl for my friend, Pamela Hodges of “I paint. I write.” She wrote this excellent post on “There are no rules so quit trying to make them.” In it she is talking about some of the self-imposed rules we tend to put on ourselves when it comes to writing, drawing, and other creative works. You’ll need to read her post to get the real depth.

I tend to be awful hard on myself on things that don’t always matter. Like whether I should color my owl pink or burgundy, so I settled on coloring it burgundy with a pink beak.

And what about this 31 Day challenge. Do I have to write on just one subject or can I compromise a little and write an overview post where I show off my burgundy owl? At least, I do talk about commitment a little. :) And maybe I can throw in a wise saying about owls!

“The Wise Old Owl”

A wise old owl lived in an oak
The more he saw the less he spoke
The less he spoke the more he heard.
Why can’t we all be like that wise old bird?
~Author Unknown written before 1875

 

What do you think? Are you enjoying this series? Do you feel this overview post was a welcome interlude? And if you read my friend’s post what color would your owl be? Feel free to share with me in the comments.

Tomorrow, I will be back on track with the post about commitment while engaged. In that post we will be discussing whether your fiance is someone you should be committing to or not. If you are already married, don’t worry I’ll be getting there as well. I intend for these posts to be helpful no matter where you are at in your relationship.

All the posts in this series can be found here or in the tab above labeled “31 Days Building Commitment“. If you know someone that is having troubles in their relationships, feel free to share any of my posts with them or send them to RockSolidFamily.com. We’re all about strengthening, encouraging, and helping you build your own Rock Solid Family.

 

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Commitment to Resist Temptations (Guest Post Part 2)

This is a continuation of yesterday’s guest post by my husband, Scott Maness. In yesterday’s post Scott told us about commitment despite his childhood circumstances. We got to see a little bit into his life and how he found God to be the answer to what he was seeking.

How did he resist the temptation to get involved in the bad examples and peer pressure around him? What kept him committed to purity despite the temptations from every turn even when he moved away from home?

sunsetpasture2

Art Credit: Scott Maness

 I kept myself from temptation by following the words of the Psalmist.

“Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word. With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments. Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee. Blessed art thou, O LORD: teach me thy statutes. With my lips have I declared all the judgments of thy mouth. I have rejoiced in the way of thy testimonies, as much as in all riches. I will meditate in thy precepts, and have respect unto thy ways. I will delight myself in thy statutes: I will not forget thy word.”

– Psalms 119:9-16 KJV

 

(9) “Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word.”

The psalmist is asking the question, “How can a young man keep himself pure?” and the answer is by listening to what God has to say. He can’t help us if we are not willing to listen to Him.

(10) “With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments.”

We can’t just seek God half way. We can’t just make a show of seeking Him like so many do. We have to actually genuinely look for God with everything in us . Our whole heart has to be involved.

 (11) “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.”

We need to take God’s word and hide it in our heart and treasure it up for those times when temptation will come. That means we need to memorize it and use it. 

Which is also the secret for a good marriage. If you love your wife and work hard at loving her, treat her well, and have a good relationship at home, temptation will be reduced around you. Your soul will not hunger or long for anything else. 

If you hide God’s word in your heart there is no room for garbage. Whenever someone or something tries to get in your way, you have God’s words right there speaking to your heart. 

 (12) “Blessed art thou, O LORD: teach me thy statutes.”

We need God to teach us daily from the things He has written. His instructions will deliver us from manifold troubles.

(13) “With my lips have I declared all the judgments of thy mouth.”

We need to be willing to share God’s word with others and also be willing to share the good things that God has done for us.

 (14) “I have rejoiced in the way of thy testimonies, as much as in all riches.”

We need to be at the point in walking with the Lord, where we truly feel rich in His presence not with the wealth of this world but with the far greater riches of His wisdom and glory.

What more do we need? He is our all sufficient Savior.

(15) “I will meditate in thy precepts, and have respect unto thy ways.”

When we spend time deeply thinking on the things of God, we have much better answers for problems here in life. We can make better sense of the chaos in our lives.

 (16) “I will delight myself in thy statutes: I will not forget thy word.”

God’s word needs to become our delight. If God’s word is our delight then the traps of this world will not bring us the pleasure it once did.  If our delight is in Him, we will not need anything else because our hearts will be in Him.

Staying true to His word is what will keep you pure for whoever God has for you. That is really the secret.

Are you strong in God’s word? What verses do you have in your heart that you turn to when you are tempted? Please tell us about it in the comments.

scottScott Maness is the husband of Anastacia Maness (that’s me) and is the father of 6. When he is not busy teaching his children art, music, and foreign languages, he pastors New Hope Missionary Baptist Church near Houston, Tx and works in the Technology Department in the local public school system.   He has a Bachelors of Theology Diploma from Texas Baptist Institute-Seminary. You can follow him on his blog at http://lighthouse117.blogspot.com, add +Scott Maness to your circles on Google+, and subscribe to his YouTube channel.

 

This is Day 10 of 31 Days Building Commitment. This series expounds upon my latest book, Don’t Quit: Build a Legacy of Commitment which my husband helped illustrate. You can get your free copy here.

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Commitment Despite Childhood Circumstances (Guest Post by My Husband)

This is a guest post by my husband, Scott Maness. 

IMG_6382I grew up as an only child. For the first 3 years of my life I lived mostly on the road in a Tractor Trailer with my parents driving around the country. My dad left when I was about 3. He moved to a different state and I didn’t hear from him much growing up.

My step father moved in around 2nd Grade and married my mother a couple of years later. Even though things weren’t perfect there was at least some comfort in the normalcy. During my 7th and 8th grade years, I did well in school. I got really good grades.

My whole world was turned upside down the summer after my 8th grade year when my mom left my stepfather. My grades dropped excessively in 9th grade.  I was really confused. My whole world changed. For someone that doesn’t like things to change it was a nightmare. I didn’t know which way was up.

The first year after they separated I lived with my stepfather. After that I went to live with my mother and her boyfriend whom she later married.

In the middle of 10th grade I was saved at 16 years old. That was when everything really truly changed for me. I went from not caring to caring about everything.

I had thought about God in the past. I don’t remember a time that I did not believe in God. It was not a thing I ever questioned. It seemed logical. I didn’t know Him personally but it made sense that there was a God. However knowing that God existed didn’t put me in relationship with Him.

Around  7th grade I considered finding out more about God. There were times I thought about walking down to one of the nearby churches. I remember thinking about that because my step-dad made me memorize the ten commandments and some Catholic prayers. He basically told me that was all I needed to be right with God. He taught me to keep the 10 commandments and if that doesn’t work to use those prayers.

I had a Bible at the house. I knew there were answers in it but didn’t know where to find them. I would look at some passages and saw the topics in the back. I was seeking God. It wasn’t until I was 16 that I found what I was looking for.

My best friend at the time was going with his girlfriend to a little Baptist Church in my hometown. I spent the weekend at his house and went with him to church. I heard the preaching. The preacher spoke the exact words I needed to hear.

I heard the message that morning and was very convicted. I knew I needed to do something but wasn’t sure what it was. I went back for the evening services and heard the message again. At the end of the service when the invitation was given I turned to my equally lost friend and said, “What do I do?!”

My friend and I were like brothers and were competitive in just about everything. He wasn’t wanting to go to the front though. So he told me that during the song people went to the front.

I didn’t know what to expect or what was going to happen. I knelt down at the altar to pray and the preacher came and spoke with me. He showed me from the Bible exactly what I needed to do to be saved.

“For the wages of sin [is] death; but the gift of God [is] eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” – Romans 6:23

“For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:” – 1 Corinthians 15:3-4

“That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” – Romans 10:9-10

After turning from my sins and asking Jesus to forgive, I arose from the alter with a burden lifted. Everyone at the church was very excited and came to shake my hand. My friend came up to me  and said, “I hope you mean it!” He continued to go to church with me and later came to know the Lord as his Savior as well.

My family thought that my commitment to Christ was a passing fad. It wasn’t.

From that day forward I was committed to following Christ. I did not want to repeat the problems in my life. I didn’t want anything to do with broken relationships, drugs, alcohol, smoking. I didn’t want any of that. I wanted to put Jesus first in everything.

I began to study the Bible in earnest. I began asking lots and lots of questions about things I would read and began to seriously seek out the Lord’s will in my life.

When I was 18 years old I announced my call to the ministry and preached my first sermon. Soon after graduating High School, I packed all my belongings in my vehicle and went to Texas to go to Seminary.

I realized that I could not marry just anybody. She would need to be walking with the Lord also. We are not here on earth just to receive pleasure but to be servants of the King and to do His will.

Far too many people think of themselves and what they want to be happy. The Lord is not against our happiness but he is against our rebellion and disobedience. I was not in a hurry to find a wife. I had several things I was looking for. I was looking for someone that was going to love God more than me, who would be a good faithful mother, and would be willing to follow me anywhere the Lord led us.

Can you relate to my husband’s story? Was there something in your life that you chose to do different from the examples around you? We would love for you to share them with us in the comments or you may reply by email if you want to tell us your story privately. If you are not receiving my emails, you can find my contact information here.

scottScott Maness is a dedicated servant of God and minister of New Hope Missionary Baptist Church near Houston, Tx. He has a Bachelors of Theology Diploma from Texas Baptist Institute-Seminary. You can follow him on his blog at http://lighthouse117.blogspot.com and subscribe to his YouTube channel.

This is the 9th post in the series 31 Days Building Commitment. Check back tomorrow to find out how my husband kept himself from temptation while living on his own.

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Commitment While a College Student

This is a continuation of yesterday’s post on Commitment While Single. Today I want to tell you about my life around the time I entered college.

singlestacieThere was a time in my earlier years as a new Christian that I didn’t really listen to the preacher. But I’ll never forget the day that I started to actually hear what the preacher was saying.

The pastor’s wife taught one of my classes. The other students and I were talking with her after class. I remember saying something about the preaching taking so long.

She wasn’t angry. She simply smiled and told me said, “You know if you listen to what Bro. Davis is saying the service will go by faster. It won’t seem so long.” 

Listening to the service? You mean instead of daydreaming and counting the people in the choir. We’re supposed to actually listen to the sermon. So that day began my real growth as a Christian. 

In High School, I still went to church every Sunday, I taught in Vacation Bible School, and was very active in the youth group. I still didn’t go out with boys. Instead I stayed busy with Church and family activities.

My Dad was a deacon, youth director, and Sunday School teacher. Then my Senior year of High School my Dad announced his call to preach. That really rocked our simple uncomplicated lives.

Instead of going to just our church services every Sunday, sometimes my Dad was asked to preach for other churches. My Dad gave us children a choice whether we followed them or stayed going to our normal church. It would have been strange going to our church by ourselves so we followed Dad to his different appointments.

Then a small nearby church called my dad to pastor. My dad gave us the choice again. We could continue to go to the Church we grew up in or we could go with him and mom to the new church. We decided to go with our parents. This was another giant step in my growth as a Christian.

I was a teenager, just entering college when I became the teacher for the teens class. I wasn’t very good at it but I definitely grew from the experience.

I also became a teacher at church camp.  I was even asked to stand in front of 500 people to lead out during the testimonial time. Me the socially awkward one. And to top that off, when the director of the camp asked me to lead it, my dad pointed out that I would be the first girl to stand and speak in front of the camp. Before that day they only asked boys.

Even though I was a nervous wreck I felt that this was something God wanted me to do. Before I gave my personal testimony, I read the passage about the woman at the well. She was a woman willing to give her testimony of what God did for her and a whole city was saved.  

“Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ? Then they went out of the city, and came unto him. … And many of the Samaritans of that city believed on him for the saying of the woman, which testified, He told me all that ever I did.” – John 4:29-30, 39

“So what does this have to do with commitment in college?” What I just told you has everything to do with my commitment to my future marriage and in college. 

I was committed to serving God. I didn’t need attention from boys to do what God wanted me to do.

My Dad’s pastorate was right around the time I was graduating from High School. I enjoyed hearing my dad preach and teach. I also enjoyed the great Biblical discussions I would have with my dad. Quality time is my main way of showing love and I loved the quality time I would have with my dad discussing the Sunday School lesson or his next sermon.  

As I entered college a list was beginning to form in my mind as to what I wanted in a husband.

  1. He had to be as committed to following God and attending church as I. I saw women in my other church that struggled to keep their children in church because their husbands stayed home. I didn’t want that for my children. 
  2. He had to be at least as knowledgeable in Biblical truths as my father. I needed someone I could look up to. I wanted to be able to respect my husband.
  3. He could not be divorced. I was not going to marry a man that had been divorced before. I understand that some marriages work out after divorce but that was not what I wanted for my marriage.
  4. No smoking. I didn’t smoke and I didn’t want to marry a man that did. The same went for any other drug but I specifically stated I wasn’t marrying a smoker. That decision came when my sister got burned by a cigarette outside our church. It was an accident but I knew the wife didn’t smoke but her husband did and he had lung cancer. I didn’t want that.
  5. Finally I wanted him to be handsome. :) Okay, I know. I know. It’s not all about looks but I wanted him to be at least easy to look at. LOL I couldn’t marry someone that I thought was ugly. But you know what I think God helps us with that one. I guess what I mean by handsome is that he cares about his appearance and doesn’t go around looking like a slob.

I went to college and didn’t really know what degree I should graduate with. I decided to go with elementary education because I thought that might be helpful no matter where I lived. Although now I wish I had gone for a degree in journalism. But that’s another story.

To be honest the main reason I was going to college was  because I was hoping to meet a great guy there. I had lived an enclosed life though and didn’t realize how difficult it would be to find a man that met my high expectations. 

I stayed faithful to seeking though. It was just when I was about to give up that my dad found a seminary student that he highly respected and kept telling me about.

Here is the thing. If I had been any different, if my list had been set at a lower standard, would I have met my husband? Would my dad have found Scott for me? 

Probably not. I had to be faithful and committed to those high standards and to what God wanted even when I was about to give up. Right before I gave up, I let God step in. I put aside my embarrassment and let my dad set up a meeting with the man that would one day be my husband. 

Have you ever made a list of what you were looking for in a husband? What takes top place on your list? If your already married, what would be on your list now? If you could help your children find someone what would you have them look for in a husband? Please share with us in the comments

This is day 8 of 31 Days Building Commitment. Tomorrow I will share another guest post from my husband who will tell you his story of commitment while single. 

 

 

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Commitment for the Single

Many people may feel that the topic I am writing on today is not very important. However I feel this may be one of the most important posts. 

Your single years are some of the most crucial in your future marriage. This is where you make some of your choices that will effect you for the rest of your life. I realize that some have made bad choices and managed to finally find happiness and commitment after many years of heartache. It did make them stronger.

However there are plenty of other cases where those who have gone through that experience  

When I was a young teenager, my dad made one very simple but helpful rule for me and my sister.

A youth worker in our church had a rule for his daughter that she could not date until she was 16. Sstacieseniorhe was pregnant by 17.  

My Dad made it a rule that my sister and I couldn’t date until we were 18. In other words, we don’t start dating until we are old enough to move out. 

Do you realize how good that rule was for me? I had the freedom to tell boys, “No. My dad won’t let me.” 

I was a socially awkward child and it wasn’t until High School that I finally began to figure out how to hold my own in a conversation. I even became somewhat witty when people teased me. I was very nice and a pretty good listener so I had quite a few friends. I considered a person a friend if they were nice to me. No one really invited me to parties or such. I think they knew I wouldn’t be into that sort of thing. Socially awkward remember.

Don’t get me wrong. I was flattered any time a boy showed interest in me. In fact I’m afraid my constant telling them, “No,” might have made me seem like more of a challenge. I’m not sure. But I will say that I stood my ground. I didn’t need a boyfriend. I was pretty proud of my ability to snub them. Some reason there was some feeling of power in the ability to say, “No.” 

In High School I was finally beginning to realize what it meant to live for God.

I realized the depth of my childhood sins when I was 10. To some people my sins would be considered small. I lied. I stole something from the refrigerator before. I wasn’t always nice to my siblings. (Do not ask my brother for examples.) I hid the truth.

I wanted attention in school and had lied thinking that kids would like me better. I had even gone forward to be baptized without really accepting Christ as my Savior. I was guilty. I wasn’t even willing to admit my sins to my parents. I remember my stomach would hurt from a guilty conscience. 

Then at Church Camp when I was 10 years old, I got my life right with God. After a long line of kids gave their testimonies. That feeling of guilt weighing on my mind when my friends tried to get me to give my testimony was the worst feeling I had ever experienced. As we walked to the cafeteria, I told my Dad that I wanted to talk with him. 

He told me we could talk after lunch. So after the longest lunch in my life, we went and sat on a bench under a pavilion. I told him that I wanted to be saved. He read me the Bible passages that showed me that I was a sinner and how Jesus died on the cross to take the punishment of my sins. All I needed was to repent of my sins (tell Jesus that I was sorry and really mean it.) I accepted Jesus as my Savior right then and there. I am so glad I did.

After I was saved I chose to be dedicated in following Christ. It took me a couple of years to finally understand what it was God wanted me to do.

I was learning what it meant to be committed. I was learning the skills I would one day need to be committed to my husband. Those years while single are very, very important. 

You can have a happy marriage even after having made a lot of mistakes but it can be so much harder. Sometimes it is almost impossible.

If you are single, are you prepared for marriage? Are you practicing commitment to God and family? If you are away from family, will you stay committed to Christ?
If you’re married, were you prepared for marriage? What is the best advice you would give someone that is single?  Please share in the comments

This is Day 7 of 31 Days Building Commitment based upon my book Don’t Quit: Build a Legacy of Commitment.

In the next couple of days I will be sharing about the struggles and challenges I faced with commitment once I entered college. I also will have a guest post by my husband about what life was like for him as a teenager and his commitment before marriage.

 

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