Newly Wed and a Newborn

Hello Friends,

My name is Bradley and my name is Linda.

Do you want kids…how many?

That’s not exactly how our first date went, but it’s not too far from the truth. Bradley and I had already been married and divorced before we ever met. He had just finished walking 2300 miles, completing the Appalachian Trail thru-hike. And I was a couple of years out from recovering from brain surgery that left me learning how to walk again.

We met three years ago. Our first date was surprisingly easy. We met for coffee and talked about all kinds of things-our past, what we wanted in our future, and yes, we even talked about how many kids we wanted. We dated for a little over a year when he proposed Christmas of 2016. We got married April of 2017 in Jamaica. It was the perfect wedding for us. We both love the outdoors. The outdoors made for a good bit of our dates…camping, hiking, cycling.

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Bradley and I had an eventful first year of marriage. Three months after we got married, Bradley had a pretty bad cycling crash. He ended up with a broken shoulder and some deep road rash on his back and down his arm. We put the “FOR BETTER OR WORSE-THROUGH SICKNESS AND HEALTH” vows into practice pretty quickly. We relocated our sleeping quarters to the living room where he would sleep on the couch and I would sleep on the recliner. Bradley wasn’t able to sleep in the bed because of the broken shoulder & road rash. For the next three weeks, every morning before I would leave for work and every afternoon when I got home, we would deep scrub the road rash (doctor’s orders) and change out the bandages.  The doctor wanted the road rash healed before he would do the shoulder surgery. Looking back, Bradley and I took a hard time, changed our perspective, and turned it into a date time. Roughly a month later we found out that we were pregnant and now here we are, with a beautiful, 10-month-old, baby girl, Evie Bradley

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You can tell from our story, we didn’t have much of a newlywed period before some big changes took place.

Before we start talking about being newlyweds with a newborn, I think it is important to say:

Marriage is hard, being parents is hard, but hard doesn’t mean bad. The things you have to work the hardest at are the most rewarding. So both require you to be intentional with your time, your actions, and your words. You have to always be willing to grow and learn.

Google is Great, Prayer is Better!

During our pregnancy, we did tons of research (okay, I did tons of research). Google is great and all, but sometimes you just need to close the computer and open up the only book or app that matters-your Bible. I would get myself so worried and Bradley would have to reign me back in. God promises to take care of us.

Philippians 4:6-7 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

We had covered this child in so much prayer already and we still do today. That is something we both find extremely important, covering her in prayer and with positive affirmations.

My favorite “prayer mantra” for her is- “Evie can do all things through Christ who gives her strength.”

Work Together and Use All Your Resources

Our parenting styles don’t always fall in line with one another and it has taken both of us working together to get to a place of understanding. We’re still learning and growing from each other. Sometimes its enlightening and other times it is very challenging. By work I mean-

  • learning to openly communicate about our feelings
  • learning to manage our expectations of one another
  • turning to God in prayer
  • reaching for outside resources
Get a Schedule and Be Intentional With Your Time

When Evie was born, Bradley’s and my relationship changed. We didn’t have as much time for each other and it was very rare for us to have alone time. Evie is breastfed so that meant for us, that she would get almost all of my time. As far as date nights go or alone time, we make sure to include those things in our schedule.  We find that it is important for us to have quality time together.  Fortunately for us, we have a great support system, from the greatest grandparents ever, to aunts, and to friends that are pretty much like family. We gladly accept the help and appreciate it just as much.  But in the beginning, it took us a little time to figure out what type of schedule would work for us.

We couldn’t base it off what worked for another family or what an internet site said we should do-we had to work at it and figure out what worked best for our family. And that is what we did and still, do.

Things are always changing and we are keeping open minds and adapting. It has worked well for us to manage our expectations and we have learned very quickly to take that list of “this is what and how I am going to do things with my baby” and throw it out the window.

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We Are A Team

Bradley and I have realized now more than ever, that we are a team. I am on his side and he is on my side. This was crucial for us especially the first few months into having a newborn. Working as a team is making this adventure way more enjoyable for both of us.

As new parents, you are flooded with a lot of opinions and a lot of advice…some really great advice and some advice you maybe could do without. We put prayer into every decision we make, that way at the end of the day, we know we have done our best.

You can do this! We are praying for you!

 

You Have No Power Over Me

“Through dangers untold and hardships unnumbered I have fought my way here to the castle beyond the Goblin City to take back the child you have stolen, for my will is as strong as yours and my kingdom as great. You have no power over me!”

― Jim Henson

I love the movie the Labyrinth. It is one of my favorite childhood movies. I remember watching over and over again. I still like to pull it out from time to time and watch it. Who would have thought that years later the Lord would use a line from this movie to speak to my heart about marriage?

Spoiler alert- if you have never seen the movie here is a brief summary. The story is about a girl named Sarah and her baby brother Toby. Sarah gets upset because she is forced to babysit her brother so she makes a wish for the goblin king to come and take him away. The goblin king actually comes and does what she ask and gives her a choice. She can have the life that she always wanted but in return, Toby will be turned into a goblin forever. She refuses and has to make her way through a labyrinth to rescue her brother before time runs out. At the end of the movie, she confronts the goblin king. It looks as if he is going to win when Sarah says these words, “You have no power over me.” At that moment the king is rendered powerless and Sarah and her brother are returned home.

You Have No Power Over Me!

The battle for Sarah was won from the beginning she just did not realize it. The goblin king never had any true power over her she just thought he did. As soon as she made the discovery there was nothing more he could do to her. A few days ago, I was thinking about this movie and that scene. The Lord spoke to me and said, “You need to say those words to the enemy.” It took me back for a moment but then I realized this important truth.

Our enemy just like the goblin king has no power over us.

We give the enemy way more credit and authority in our lives than he actually has. We portray him as this powerful, strong being. We say things like, “The devil made me do it.” and “He’s really good at his job.” We are giving him power and authority by our words and the way we act.

So what does all this have to do with marriage? I have said this in previous blogs but the enemy hates marriage. Marriage is supposed to be a model of how Christ loves His church and the enemy knows that a couple displaying this model is dangerous to his kingdom. So he does everything in his power to cause division and to corrupt God’s design.

We as a couple have to stand up and let him know that~

  • He has no power over us
  • He has no power in our marriage
  • He has no power over our finances
  • He has no power over our health

We need to follow Sarah’s example and vocally tell him that he is powerless. There is such a freedom in just realizing then proclaiming that over your marriages.

A few months back Alex went through a phase where he was sick a lot. Then on top of that, he got poison oak and it went crazy. He was covered in the worse rash I have ever seen. Not only was he miserable and in pain but it made it impossible for us to touch each other. This went on for a few weeks. We were both so tired and broken with everything that was going on. A friend of ours prayed over Alex one Sunday and told us that this was an attack and that it was unacceptable. He reminded us of whose we were and that we had been given authority because of Jesus. After that prayer, Alex and I decided that we had had enough we did not use the exact phrase “you have no power of me”, but we told the enemy in no uncertain terms that we were done and that he could not bother us anymore.

Did our situation chance instantly, no. However, our situation did change. We started verbally saying that Alex was healed and that the enemy had no power in our home. We took back the spiritual ground that the enemy had stolen. There was such a shift in us and the way we approached the situation once we vocalized the enemies lack of power.

You may be under attack right now in your marriage. It could be an emotional, physical, or spiritual attack. The enemy will use anything he can to create division.

Whatever the attack is take back your ground!

How do we take back this ground? In a physical battle, you take back your ground by pushing the enemy back. If you continue to push them back eventually they will retreat in the opposite direction. We have been given that same ability with our enemy.

James 4:7- “So submit to [the authority of] God. Resist the devil [stand firm against him] and he will flee from you.” 

According to this verse, we are to submit to God and resist the devil! If we do those two things the Word promises us he will flee. I googled “How to submit to God” and I found a really cool article. It gives several definitions but since we are talking about a battle the military definition really stood out to me.

The word was used as a military term meaning “to arrange troop divisions in a military fashion under the command of a leader.”

So we submit to God by getting behind Him and following His commands. He is our leader and He will fight for us if we will let Him. We just need to be obedient to what He tells us to do. How do we know what He wants us to do?

  • By getting in our Word
  • By spending alone time with Him so we recognize His voice when He speaks to us
  • By speaking life over your situations
  • By praying about everything

If we will submit to God in those ways the enemy will have no choice but to flee. Jesus defeated the enemy at the cross. We as His heirs get to walk in the victory that has been graciously given to us. But you can’t walk in it if you don’t know you have it.

So from now own, quota Jim Henson to the enemy when he comes and tries to attack you.

You have no power over me!

You have no power over my marriage!

You have no power at all!

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Perspective and Pillow Forts

February has been an interesting month for Alex and me so far.

As we were doing our Facebook live two weeks ago Alex starting experiencing some pain in his abdomen. It was in a very specific spot so we decided to go get it checked on. It turned into a week-long ordeal of hospitals and doctor visits. We went to a hospital first, we figured it was either a kidney stone or his appendix. We were told that it was neither given some medicine and told to go to our general doctor. We went to a general doctor who did some test and thought that they had figured out what the problem was and they gave us some more medicine. All the while Alex was not getting any better, in fact, he was just getting worse. Our doctor told us that if he wasn’t better in a few days to come back so when nothing changed we went back to the doctor and we were told that we really needed to go back to the ER because clearly, something was wrong. We went to a different ER this time and he was told that he did have appendicitis and that surgery was in his future. We spent the night in the hospital Sunday night and then Monday afternoon Alex had an appendectomy. Alex did great with the surgery. He woke up with the pain gone and we were able to go home that night.

Although I am so thankful that the problem was solved it has been a hard two weeks for us. One week was all about pain and doctor visits and the frustration of not knowing what was going on and this week has been all about recovery, rest, and caregiving.

A Change in Perspective

Monday while we were at the hospital I got a notification on my phone that A Beautiful Adventure had been tagged in a post. I went to look at it and someone from our marriage small group had tagged us on a posted where they had gone on a date.

*A little explanation, in our small group you are encouraged to go on a date once a week. I ask the group to post a picture and to tag us in it to promote the small group and also to just put some positivity on social media in regards to marriage. I have so enjoyed seeing all the couples happy and enjoying spending time together.*

I was excited to see the picture but I instantly had this thought-

Alex and I won’t get a date night this week.

So I started to have myself a little pity party right there in the hospital or at least I was planning too until I read the caption above the photo.

“Waiting to file taxes! Gotta get time together in somehow when our schedules are soo busy with work. #dateyourspouse”

This couple wasn’t at a fancy restaurant or doing some fun activity that they both enjoyed. They were sitting in a tax office waiting to get their taxes done. They had made a decision to make this moment special and enjoy each others company.

As I sat there the word “Perspective” popped in my head. So I looked it up!

per·spec·tive
/pərˈspektiv/

-a particular attitude toward or way of regarding something; a point of view.

Perspective is all about the attitude you have toward something. This couple had made a decision to make the most of their day. They could have been grumpy because instead of doing something fun they were filing taxes but instead they chose to embrace this as time together. They realized that they were together and they were thankful for the time.

Can I be real for a moment and just say that this yanked me right up and out of my pity party? The Lord gently but very firmly told me to check my attitude. I ask Him to forgive me for my moment and asked Him to help me to keep the right perspective. The Lord never ceases to amaze me with how He speaks to us. He used a Facebook post to grow me so much! It was not just in that one moment. I have not been able to get the word “perspective” out of my mind all week. It has literally been the background music playing in my head since Monday.

When we got home from the hospital, Alex was very sore and because of the incisions, he could not fully stretch out. He decided that he was going to sleep on the couch so he could get comfortable. What I thought would just be one night turned into 5 days of pillow fort couch camping.

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Above is a picture of where Alex and I lived for 5 days. We slept here, ate here, and spent a lot of time together here. It was not our ideal situation. Alex was hurting from the surgery and sleep on the couch was not the best sleep I have ever had. Again the word perspective and the post just kept running through my mind. If the couple could make getting their taxes done a date I could do the same with this. I show you this picture so you can see this moment for us was not tidy. It was not glamorous. It was real and rare. The enemy was really trying to bring out all the negative in this situation, but God had already planted the seed of perspective for me and thankfully I listened to Him this time. I decided that I was going to make the best of the situation that we found ourselves in. So I started changing every negative thought I had with a positive thought.

  • “Alex is sick and this is hard” turned to “I’m so thankful the doctor found the problem and fixed it. Alex is getting better every day”
  • “Alex and I are not going to be able to go on a date” turned to”Hey, because of this we are getting to spend more time together than we would have under normal circumstances. We are having date days”
  • “We have to sleep on this couch” turned to”We are camping and building pillow forts while watching movies together.”
  • “Caregiving is not fun” turned to ” I am thankful that I get to be here with my husband and help take care of him.

I had to make a decision every time a negative thought popped in my head (which was often) to change the thought by changing my perspective. I made a decision to give our day to day a positive twist. Then I decided to take it a step further. I told Alex what the Lord had told me and I started communicating the positive to him. I was literally thinking and speaking positively over the situation.

Now here is the interesting thing- things became more positive. Our situation did not change overnight but when I got my attitude in check I was able to handle it better and with the right perspective.

Please get this-

Our situation did not instantly change! It was a process BUT we were able to handle the process better because of our attitude toward it.

I have given it a lot of thought in the last week and I believe this same principle can dramatically change our marriages and our lives in general. I believe that a lot of problems can be solved by a simple change of perspective. I have heard a lot of catchphrases such as “change your words change your life” or  “change your language change your culture.” I am going to add my own catchphrase.

Change your Perspective, Change your Marriage

So how do we change our perspective on our marriage?

First- Check your Attitude

Secondly-Change the Negative to a Positive

Seems a little too easy, doesn’t it? Although it is only two simple steps those two steps can be hard to do something, but I encourage you to do the work to change your perspective. It really can turn a negative situation into a positive one. That is what the couple in our small group did and that is what we did because of their post.

This week really listen to your words and your thoughts when it comes to your marriage. If you find that they are negative make a point to find the positive. The enemy is really good at dropping negative thoughts in our head. It is up to us if we let them stay there. If we combat those thoughts with positive ones the enemy will flee. This is not a one and done process you will have to do this multiple times a day but if you get in the habit of doing this the negative thoughts will become fewer and fewer and the impact on your marriage undeniable.

Our natural response is to look at the negative. Go against the grain and see how it will help your marriage and your life in general!

You can do this! We are praying for you!

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Flying Weedeaters and Praying Circles

How many of you remember your first fight as a married couple? I remember Alex and my first fight. It’s funny, I can still remember how angry we both were in that moment but honestly looking back it was nothing worth arguing about at all. It all boiled down to stress and miscommunication. We were not necessarily mad at each other but we were mad at the situation we had put ourselves in.

Let me set the scene for you.

Alex and I are newly married. Things are going great! We decided that we wanted to have a cookout at our house as a thank you for our wedding party. It was a win-win. We would honor our friends for being apart of our day and we would all get to hang out and eat Alex’s hamburgers. (He cooks the best hamburgers on the face of the planet- I kid you not.) What could possibly go wrong with this? As it would turn out a lot could. There were some things that Alex and I did not know about ourselves or each other yet but we were about to find out.

  1. I had never host anything at my house and I personally was unaware of the OCD cleaning Nazi I would turn into an Alex was not aware of this either.
  2. Alex, as it would turn out, had the same OCD/Nazi tendencies when it came to how he wanted his yard to look during the cookout.
  3. We both tend to wait until the last minute on certain things.
  4. Alex did not see the house as being super important and I did not see the grass as being super important.

We lived 45 minutes away from everything at the time and we lived (and still do) very busy lives. It was the night before the cookout. We went to the store and bought all the food we needed and had come home to finish cleaning and getting ready. At this point it is 9:45 at night and the house (in my opinion) was not clean enough and Alex had mowed the grass but had not had the chance to weed-eat at all. We still have to prep the food and tie up some loose ends in the house. Alex announces that he is going to go finish the grass. It’s 9:45 at night! So I do what any loving wife would do. I go outside to tell him how ridiculous that is and to inform him of all the things we have to do and that the house and food were way more important than weed-eating. Honestly, looking back I don’t think things would have escalated so quickly had the weed-eater not chosen that moment in time to not work. So as we were having a “discussion” on the importance level of all the things we have to do, Alex was frantically yanking on the chord trying to get the weed-eater to start. He was getting more and more frustrated with every yank of the chord and he was telling me to stop until finally, he had enough.  He took the weed-eater and launched it out into the darkness! We looked at each other at that moment and I blurted out, “Well, heck of a whole lot of good that did!” (I’m from Alabama, don’t judge me.)

Friends, things took a hard negative turn from there. I think I will sum up the rest of the “discussion” that followed by saying it was loud and would fit right into a Jeff Foxworthy comedy skit. Two people from Alabama in their front yard at 9:45 at night screaming at each other.  It ended with me going into the house mad and crying and Alex searching the woods for his weed-eater.

Let’s go back in time a little here. When we took pre-martial counseling our pastor’s wife would always start off the sessions by asking us if we had argued yet. We always answered no and she always told us that we needed too. It seemed so ridiculous to us at the time. Why do we “need” to argue? She explained that it was not that she wanted us to fight per se but that there were certain things that you would only find out about the other person through conflict. She told us that we needed to know how the other person fought. That way you could then, in turn, learn how to fight fairly as a couple. After our first argument, it all made sense. She was right, there are certain things that you do not learn about your spouse until there is conflict. I might also add there are certain things that you do not know about yourself until there is conflict.

Although we did not handle this particular situation with grace we learned a lot of things about ourselves and each other from that one argument.

  1. We both want perfection in certain areas but we did not agree on what areas needed the perfection.
  2. We were not even aware of how we would handle certain situations and stresses much less how the other person would handle them.
  3. We both had the problem of procrastination.
  4. We both spoke words first then thought them through afterward

We had a decision to make at that moment. We could just overlook what we had learned about each other and continue to repeat the same arguments over and over again or we could use this information to communicate better and grow together.

For a while, we choose to overlook. We have never fought a lot but it seemed like for awhile the arguments we were having were always about the same things. It was as if we were actors and we each had our lines that we repeated every time. Slowly we started learning about each other and things started changing. We are a work in progress and we still do not always get it right but our main focus is to always fight fair!

So how does one fight fair?

I have recently started reading the book “Praying Circles Around Your Marriage” by Joel and Nina Schmidgall. It is a spinoff of the book “The CircleMaker” which tells the story of Honi the CircleMaker who’s prayer saved a generation of people. He drew a circle on the ground and refused to get out of the circle until the Lord sent rain. This new book is all about praying circles around certain areas in your marriage. One of the areas it focuses on is how we handle conflict. I want to take a few minutes and talk about certain things that Alex and I have done over the years that has helped us and also touch on some of the things that they talk about in the book that I think will help us in the future.

In any relationship, there is going to be conflict. We are all imperfect people and we all have different personalities and triggers. Marriage forces two imperfect people into a small space so of course conflicts will arise. The trick is not “not arguing” the trick is to argue well. You may ask how in the world do I do that?

Communicate Communicate Communicate

I have always heard that opposites attract. This is definitely true with Alex and I. We have a lot of things in common but there are some areas that we are totally different. I am super new to the Enneagram but Alex and I have recently taken the test. I am a 5 on the Enneagram which basically means I recharge by having alone time and expressing my feeling is not really ever on my to-do list. Being able to stay un-attached is kinda like a superpower for 5s. Alex is a 2 on the Enneagram which means he gains his strength from being around people and helping them. He is very emotional and does not mind expressing those emotions. Being involved and needed is their superpower. Because we are totally different in this area communication has been something that has not always been easy for us.

Communication is so vital in any relationship. It is something that needs to be worked on daily. A lot of arguments can be avoided by just learning how your spouse communicates. Sometimes arguments are really just miscommunication or a lack of communication.  When we first got married we did not realize that we communicated differently. I can not tell you the times that we would disagree about something and I would just shut down. It’s not that I wanted to shut down but I just had trouble communicating with Alex what I was feeling. Alex would ask me questions and when I could not give him the answer we would both become frustrated. I could not seem to formulate my words and he could not understand why that was a problem for me. Looking back at most of our early arguments, communication was the issue not whatever we disagreed on.

Can I just reiterate again that we are a work in progress! We still are two imperfect people trying to walk through this life together in peace. Below are some of the things we do now to help us communicate better. Hopefully, these will help you like they have helped us.

  • Start sentences with an “I feel” statement and keep them super simple.
    • For example- tonight we were talking about buying something for our house. I made the comment, “I don’t feel like it is necessary at this time however I do see how it could be beneficial to us in the future.”
    • By doing this I can not only give my opinion but I can also let Alex know that I hear what he is saying as well. That way it does not come out like I am totally against him.
  • Pause and processes instead of instantly confronting the situation.
    • Alex has gotten where he says, “ok” then he pauses for a second after I make a comment about something. Usually, that “ok” is followed by a simple question addressing what I said. Or it is followed by a comment that furthers the conversation.
    • Remember Alex does not have a problem communicating his feelings. However, I think this helps both of us. He is slowing down and really listening and by not confronting me head on I can progress better.
  • Use the “what you said, what I heard” method
    • This one is great! Did you know that two people could hear the exact same sentence and get two completely different meanings from it? I did not until after I got married. A friend of ours introduced us to this awesome little trick.
    • For example- Alex recently bought a car. When we were talking about making this purchase we were going over all the pros and cons of it. All the things that Alex was telling me seemed good and we were talking about the finances. At the end of the conversation, Alex looked at me and said, “Ok so I am hearing you say that as long as the finances are correct I can buy the car, is that correct?” By asking me this question, he gave me the ability to affirm the situation or to restate what I was trying to say. This has helped us in arguments and in just everyday decisions we have to make. This takes the assumption out of your communication. It takes the “but you say” out.
  • Set aside time to talk every week.
    • This is one that I learned from the book. They suggested performing “routine maintenance”. Just like a car performs better when we take care of it so will our marriage. If communication is an area you struggle with, make it a point to practice communication every week. Pick a day and a time and talk to each other. This is a time where you are free to talk about anything.
    • This time will help you to learn how each other communicate and grow closer together as you get better at communicating with each other.

Make some Pre-Argument Decisions

Sometimes we are just not going to be able to completely keep our cool when we disagree, I get that however there are certain things that we can agree on in advance to never do! By being intentional up front and having ground rules in place you will be able to fight fairly.

  • No name calling
    • Regardless of what you are disagreeing about name calling should never be used. We should never belittle our spouse because their opinion is different from ours.
  • No physical fighting
    • We should never lay hands on our spouse with the intent on harming them. This goes for both men and women. Typically men get the heat for this one but there are ladies out there that are guilty of this as well. Physical abuse is not ok, ever! If this is something that you are dealing with, get help now! Don’t for a second believe that the Lord wants us to stay in a dangerous situation.
  • No involving other people
    • Other people should not be involved in your disagreements with your spouse. Chances are you and your spouse will resolve the conflict and move on, the people that you involve in it may not be able to move on so quickly which will cause other problems down the road. If you feel like you need help with an argument or problem with your spouse seek personally help by going to your pastor or a marriage counselor or your godly mentors but do not involve friends and family.
  • Keep your business off social media
    • Social media is should not be the battlefield that most people have made it. I am not exactly sure why people think airing their dirty laundry or brutally attacking someone over social media is ok. Calling your spouse out on social media will never bring peace and harmony in your marriage, ever.
  • Give space but gain closure
    • After both of you have spoken your piece give each other a little room to process. Go to separate rooms and process what has been said and pray about it. Take a few days if needed but always go back and find some closure. You may not find ultimate closure at that moment but find some common ground and then build from there.

Pray Circles Around Your Conflict

Another thing that the book says is that we should pray circles around our spouse and ask the Lord to help us with conflict. There is always an underlying cause behind the conflict. Pray and ask the Lord to give you insight into the real reason behind the problem instead of reacting to only what you see on the surface. Also be willing to learn and grow from the conflict. There is always something that can be learned by both people. Pray that future conflict can be avoided altogether. Pray for the wisdom not to say and do things intentionally that would instigate an argument. Use what you have learned about your spouse to grow your relationship not divide it.

I’m sure you have heard the metaphor “drawn a line in the sand”. Typically when someone says this it means they have made up their minds about something and they are not budging. I want to end this blog by encouraging you not to “draw a line in the sand” with your spouse. Draw a circle around them and cover them in prayer. Cover yourself in prayer. Cover every aspect of your marriage in prayer. Cover every conflict in prayer. Be like Honi, draw a prayer circle around you and your spouse and refuse to get out.

Marriage was God’s idea remember? Ask Him to come into your relationship and help you with every part of it. He is willing and able to help us we just have to invite Him to partner with us! Yes, conflict will come but it does not have to be messy. Closure and growth can happen!

We believe in you and we are praying for you!

 

 

 

You Grow What You Sow

My name is Tara and I kill flowers.

I love flowers. I think they are beautiful; however, I can not seem to keep them alive. I have bought all kinds of flowers in the two years since we moved to town. Every time I buy a new flower I really hope that this one will make it.

I want to be a good plant mom.
I want to have a beautiful front yard and back porch.
I want people to look at my flowers and think they are the most beautiful things ever.

But…

I don’t do well at taking care of the flowers. I forget to water them or I give them way too much water. I leave them in the same little container I bought them in and I never change the soil. I don’t put them in the sun or I never take them out of the sun. I don’t do the research to see what they need. In fact, I really don’t do anything with them. Typically I sit them on my back porch water them for a few days then stop. I have planted a few of them in my yard but that didn’t help either. Well, there is one exception, a miniature rose bush that I bought at Winn Dixie about a year ago. That little fighter has suffered all of my neglect and has even gotten run over by a lawnmower a time or two but somehow it is still hanging in there but that is a testament to that little flower not to me.

My passive desire to have pretty flowers is not strong enough to withstand my neglect of them! Wanting something alone is not enough, even if you want it really bad. You have to put in the work to cultivate what matters.

According to Google cultivate means to improve, grow, raise, develop, or maintain.

What we cultivate in our lives is what flourishes and becomes something beautiful! It is the things that we spent time on and invest in that grow to there full potential. And this is true in other areas of our lives as well. If we want to be healthy we have to eat right, work out, and get rest. If we want a closer relationship with the Lord we have to go to church, read His Word, and pray. If we want a happy marriage we have to invest in it. We have to give it our time, resources, and care. Simply wanting to be healthy or a closer relationship with the Lord or a good marriage is not enough. All of these things and many others in life have to be developed and maintained.

So how do we cultivate our marriage?

You have to work the dirt.

 There may be some “weeds” in your marriage that need to be pulled up first before you can start cultivating the good. Maybe there are past hurts and hang-ups that need to be addressed. Maybe there is some forgiveness that needs to be received or extended. Maybe its time to be like Elisa and let some stuff go!

You have to be willing to do whatever it takes to have a happy marriage. You have to be willing to get some dirt under your fingernails. Not everything in marriage comes easily. Sometimes this takes repetitive sacrifice and effort. Try to remember that the best things in life are worth the effort.

It may start out with just one of you “working the dirt”. We have to start somewhere. Don’t give up! No one likes the part of planting where you have to get down and get dirty but the harvest is always worth it.

Plant the seed more than once.

If a harvest is what you are after you have to plant more than one seed. Think about a farmer, if he wants corn he plants a whole field of corn, not one stalk. Then he has to continue to tend the field until it is time to pick the corn. If he plants the seeds but never fertilizes it or waters it, just like my flowers, the crop will die.

We have to be consistent in our cultivation. I once heard a story of a wife that was unhappy. Her husband never told her that he loved her. One day she mustered up the nerve to say something about it. He seemed confused that she would even ask this question. Of course, he loved her. She asked him why he never said it to her if that was how he felt. His answer was simple. I told you I loved you once my mind hasn’t changed so why would I say it again? Did the husband love the wife? yes! Was it being felt by the wife? No! He planted a good seed but he was not cultivating the relationship! Cultivating is a daily process, not a one and done deal.

You grow what you sow?

What do you want to see grow in your marriage? I heard a sermon recently where the pastor said your seed will multiply in kind, and that is so true. think about it, you don’t plant corn expecting a potato. So if you want your spouse to speak kind words, plant kind words. If you want respect, plant respect. The list can go on.

You are going to get exactly what you plant. You can’t be passive about this. Good things do not just grow on their own, you have to plant them! Take a day and do a checkup. What are you planting in your marriage? What are you not planting in your marriage?

Strengthen your roots.

According to Google- Roots act like straws absorbing water and minerals from the soil. Tiny root hairs stick out of the root, helping in the absorption. Roots help to anchor the plant in the soil so it does not fall over

Planting a crop always begins in the dirt with the roots. The roots are where the plant gets everything it needs to grow. The roots have to grow deep before the plant can grow tall. If the root system is weak the plant will die. It may look beautiful on the surface for a short time but before long without the proper root system, the plant will no longer be able to sustain the elements. That is why so many marriages that look so beautiful on the outside end in divorce. The flower was pretty but the roots were weak and because of that flower was not getting the nutrients that it needed for survival.

So how do we do ensure that we are getting all the nutrients we need in our marriage to survive? We have to do be rooted in Jesus! If we are not anchored in him we will not be able to maintain our relationship in the way that He designed it to be maintained. You can cultivate all day long but without that root system in place just like the plant the relationship will suffer.

We have to go to church together as a family, serve together, get into your Word both together and as individuals. We need to pray with and for each other. We need to ask the gardener for help! Once we get rooted in Jesus we will start to see life change not only in our marriage but in all areas of our lives.

Genesis 8:22 says,
While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.

As long as the earth remains the principle of seedtime and harvest will work. You just have to apply the principle.

So here is a formula for a healthy marriage.

rooted in Jesus + cultivation on your part= strong, beautiful relationship

Remember just wanting a beautiful marriage is not enough to make it a reality. You will have to work the dirt but when you put in the work oh my what a beautiful harvest you will have!

We believe in you and we are praying for you!

Let’s Agree to Agree

What a time to be alive!

A time when everyone has an opinion and a platform in which to voice that opinion.

A time when everyone thinks that everyone must agree with them.

A time when if you do not agree with someone they take it as a personal attack on them instead of just a time of disagreement that can be worked through.

A time when people see “perfect lives” displayed on social media and think that they have to measure up to the false perfection that is a being displayed.

Maybe you are finding yourself in the crossfires of this loud and competitive time!

  • Have you ever found yourself just agreeing with someone so you can avoid conflict?
  • Maybe you are the opposite maybe you like conflict and you find yourself disagreeing on purpose?
  • Are you looking at other people’s social media platforms longing to “have it all together” like they do?
  • Have you ever tried to change something about yourself because it did not agree with something someone said?
  • Are you trying to be someone else altogether?

As we reach the end of another year, I think we tend to look back and see all of our shortcomings instead of our growth. We measure ourselves against the wrong things and then become frustrated when we do not measure up. We look at the progress of others (whether it is true progress or not is questionable) and we instantly feel inadequate. Someone always seems to be smarter, prettier, or just all around better than we are so we overlook all the good and focus on the bad.

So as we begin this new year I pose these questions.

  • What are you measuring yourself against?
  • Who and what are you agreeing with?
  • Are you are trying to be the best you or someone else?

It is time that we come into agreement BUT NOT with what other people say or show their lives to be.

It is time to come into agreement BUT NOT with the idea that we have to struggle to be this perfect person.

It is time that we come into agreement WITH WHAT THE FATHER SAYS ABOUT US!

It is time that we stop agreeing with what is wrong with us and start agreeing what is right about us. 

 

When you asked Jesus to come into your life, He brought all of His perfect attributes with Him. Think of it as a seed. When you plant an apple seed, that seed has everything inside of it that it needs to become an apple tree. The same is true for us. When we get Jesus, we get everything that we need to live an abundant life. We simply just have to agree with it.

For example- In John 14:27 Jesus says this-

Peace I leave with you; My [perfect] peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be afraid. [Let My perfect peace calm you in every circumstance and give you courage and strength for every challenge.]

This verse says that He left peace with us. That means that it is in our possession right now! So when something comes up in our lives that is not peaceful we have a decision to make.

We can agree with the disruption, or we can agree that we have peace.

Think about what that means!

  • We do not have to beg Jesus to give us peace when bad things happen.
  • We do not have to worry that He will not give it to us.

We already have it. It is ours because Jesus has given it to us in advance. He knew we were going to need it so all we have to do is use it!

Now does this mean that we will not feel frustration, fear, or nervousness in certain situations? No, We will still have moments when we feel all of those emotions. We have an enemy that loves to use feelings to ruin our days. What this does mean is we don’t have to wallow in those feelings. We don’t have to meditate on them all day long. We have a tool to combat those emotions and make them line up with what we know is the truth.

So how do we use what we have been given? Having it is great but we have to use it. An unused tool is a pointless tool. Even though we have all we need in us, we have to cultivate it and grow. Just like a seed, it has everything it needs inside of it but it has to grow before it can produce fruit.

Let’s make 2019 a time of agreement and growth. Let’s take what is inside of us and use it every day! Let’s be the person the Father has called us to be. Let’s agree to agree!

Ways to agree in 2019

  • Know the tools that have been given to you!
    • Get into Your Word and find out what Jesus has given you and who He says you are.
      • I’m sure that you have heard the phrase “what I don’t know can’t hurt me” when it comes to the Bible what you don’t know can definitely hurt you. If you don’t know about the tools you have been given how can you use them to live an abundant life? If you don’t know the truth it will be much easier to believe the lies the enemy will tell you.

John 8:32 says- And you will know the truth [regarding salvation], and the truth will set you free[from the penalty of sin].

There is such freedom when we know who we are and what we have been given.

    • I recommend starting in Galatians and Ephesians.
      • Paul spends a lot of time telling us who we are and what we have been given when we get saved.
      • He tells us what the fruits of the spirit are in Galatians. Remember we have been given all the fruit of the spirit already. We just have to agree with it. (Galatians 5:22-23)
      • He also talks about the armor of God which is a great set of tools we have at our disposal. (Ephesians 6:10:18)
    • I also recommend the gospels.
      • Pay close attention to what Jesus had to say about the power we have been given.
      • What did Jesus say about The Kingdom of God and its benefits?
        • This is crucial because you are a citizen of this kingdom, and you have all of the rights and protection of it.
  • Find the tools that you do not use and start using them daily
    • What do you struggle with- peace, authority, self- control, health? Identify your weakness so you can strengthen that area.
    • Find verses that speak truth over you and put them in a place you can see every day.
      • Write them out
      • Speak them out loud
      • Memorize them
  • Agree with what it says about you
    • Stop speaking the problem and start speaking the solution
    • Ask trustworthy people to pray specifically for you about the truth that you have learned about yourself.
      • Accountability partners are the best because they will help keep you focused and growing.
    • Change your lifestyle so it lines up with the truth.
      • There may be changes that you have to make for this to be effective. Pray and ask God to show you the things that need to change. Then be obedient when He shows you those things. (Sometimes it stings when things are revealed about yourself that are less than flattering. Remember God does this because He loves us too much to leave us where we are.
  • Ask for help from the Father
    • We were never met to do this life alone. God did not expect us to get this right on our own. He knew we would need help. That’s why He sent us the Holy Spirit as a guide and a comforter.
    • Ask Him for help daily.
    • Be teachable and let Him lead you
  • Give yourself grace
    • You will mess up. We all do and it is ok.
    • Ask for forgiveness and strength to do better next time.
    • Do not give up.
      • Maybe you have already messed up today. That does not mean that all of 2019 has to be bad.
      • Dust yourself off and keep moving

In fact, grace is another tool we have been given that we can agree with every day when we mess up.

2 Corinthians 12:9 says-

My grace is sufficient for you [My lovingkindness and My mercy are more than enough—always available—regardless of the situation]; for [My] power is being perfected [and is completed and shows itself most effectively] in [your] weakness.” Therefore, I will all the more gladly boast in my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ [may completely enfold me and] may dwell in me.

You have been given grace agree with it! Do not give up!

Let’s go into 2019 not trying to change and be someone else. Let’s go in 2019 agreeing with who the Father said that we are already.

You are the righteousness of God through Christ.  (2 Corinthians 5:21)

You are the head, not the tail. (Deuteronomy 28:13)

You are God’s child. (Romans 8:17)

You are stamped with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13)

You are God’s masterpiece (Ephesians 2:10)

I want to end this blog by saying you only have these tools if you have asked Jesus to come into your heart. He is perfect and the only perfection we have in us is Jesus. Without Him, the abundant life is not possible.

But friends, if we have Him, we have everything! The abundant life is ours! It has been handed to us by the sweetest Father. We just have to wake up every day agreeing with what He said about us and use the tools that have been given to us. And He helps us, He never ask us to do it alone!

So I encourage you today that if you have not met my Daddy God now is the time. He is so loving and so good! He does not withhold any good gift from His children.

Matthew 6:33 makes it plain-

But first and most importantly seek (aim at, strive after) His kingdom and His righteousness [His way of doing and being right—the attitude and character of God], and all these things will be given to you also.

When we get Jesus, we get it all! What a deal! What an inheritance! What a sweet Daddy God!

This is the first day of 2019 why not start it off by asking Jesus to come help you. Ask Him to come and be the Lord of your life. All you have to do is tell Him that you believe in Him and ask Him to come be with you and help you.

Partner with Him, be led by Him, and see what a beautiful, abundant life looks like in 2019!

We believe in you and we are praying for you!

Have a great 2019!

The Power of Words

Hello Friends,

We are two weeks away from the start of the new year!! 2019 is right around the corner and I for one cannot wait. 2018 had its wonderful moments like starting this ministry and traveling all over the United States, but this year also brought with it a pain that Alex and I had never experienced before with the loss of loved ones. Through it all God was good and faithful and I feel like Alex and I are emerging from this year changed but better than we were a year ago.

I am looking forward to this new year because I am ready for a change. I am ready for a breath of fresh air.

How about you? Are you ready for things to be different?

Alex and I talked about what we want to leave with you guys as we close out this year. The last two blogs have been so good but deep. We wanted to end this year with an anthem of hope. What could we tell you that would help you as you enter 2019?

Then two weeks ago as we were sitting in service the Lord spoke to us through our Pastor’s sermon. He was talking about how small things make a big difference. He talked about how your words are super important and that if you can change your words you can change your life. Alex and I both just looked at each other because we knew that was how we wanted to end 2018- the power of words.

Proverbs 18:20-21 says-

From the fruit of their mouth a person’s stomach is filled; with the harvest of their lips, they are satisfied. The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit

I don’t think any of us really understand the power we have with our words. We have the power to build up or tear down. With one word you can completely crush someone to the point that they never recover from it, or with one word you can encourage someone to go after their dream wholeheartedly.

Our words have so much power over other people but we need to understand that they have just as much power over us. We not only need to be careful what we say to someone else we need to also be careful about what we say about ourselves.

Proverbs makes it very clear. Our words can bring life and death. We need to choose life!

Think of a time that someone spoke life-giving, positive words over you?

Seriously- stopping reading for a moment and think about those words that were said to you.

I’ll wait!

-insert some form of classical waiting room music here-

So how did it make you feel? Did it encourage you? Did it spur you on? I’m sure at the very least at that moment you felt good about yourself. Maybe that validation was exactly what you needed to take your next step.

Now let’s take that feeling that we had and think about how that could affect your new year and your marriage.

What would your year and marriage look like if you poured life over it with your words? I sure that it would improve things all around!

So how do we do that?

How do we use our words to pour life into our year and our marriage?

  • Stop speaking negatively over yourself, your spouse, and your life
    • Let’s just start off with the hardest thing first shall we? You have to make a decision that you are going to change your words. Remove negative self-talk and negative talk to your spouse all together.
    • The first change may not be to start speaking good but to simply stop speaking bad. That may mean keeping your mouth shut and not saying anything for a while.
  • Communicate what your expectations are for your year and relationship.
    • It’s time to sit down with your spouse and dream about the new year.
      • What do you want to see change?
        • What steps need to be taken for the change to happen?
      • What do you want to see strengthened?
        • There may be things that you are doing right that you want to be consistent in doing in the new year.
    • Come up with a word or phrase that you want to speak over your year and relationship.
      • This is something that Alex and I have not done before but we are looking to do this year. One thing I definitely want to speak over our year is prosperity and health.
        • This is something that I would recommend talking to your spouse about, then both of you praying about it, then coming back to discuss what words the Lord put on your heart. Take your time and really choose these words prayerfully and purposefully.
      • After you have your word or phrase then line up your words/lifestyle to agree with it. For example, if I am believing for health, I do not need to go around telling people how bad I feel all the time or eat unhealthy foods and sit on the couch all day. Your words and your lifestyle have to line up for this to work.
  • Pray with your spouse
    • We should do this every day. Pray is so important and it is one of the most powerful weapons that we have against the enemy.
    • Don’t give up if the first time does not go well.
      • I remember the first time Alex and I prayed together out loud. It was downright awkward- for both of us. It was as if we suddenly forgot how to pray.  I think we were finished praying in about 30 seconds flat and that was including the “Dear Lord and Amen”. But we did not give up. We kept praying together and now we have no problem with it at all. In fact, we have made it a part of our daily routine.
  • Pray for your spouse
    • You know your spouse better than anyone else. You know them at their best and their worse. This is your opportunity to bring them before the Father and really pray specifically for them.
    • This sometimes can be hard to start as well so below I have written out a prayer that I got from the book, “Kingdom Marriage” by Tony Evans. I recently started praying this over Alex and it has really helped me be specific. I made a few changes to it so feel free to customizes it so it works best for you.

Thank you for giving me _____ as my husband/wife. I pray that Your will be clearly displayed in _____ life. Help _____ to grow spiritually, emotionally, and physically healthy every day. Surround _____ with godly relationships and clearly reveal Your purpose for him. Give _____ a desire to steward our family resources well and also to lead, learn, and love you. Help _____ to love you with all of their heart, soul, and mind. 

Do all the same for me, Lord. Help me to have a gentle spirit toward_____. Help us to follow Your leadership in our lives. Help us to be best friends, lovers, adventurers, prayer warriors, and devoted followers of You. Reveal to us anything that can be improved in our marriage and give us the desire and determination to improve it. Pour passion and spontaneity in our sex life. Help us to always turn to each other and not someone else.

Put a hedge of protection around our marriage and guard us against any attack from the enemy. Help us to seek You first and love each other well.     Amen

You may be thinking. This sure is a whole lot of praying. Yes, but can you think of a better use for your words and your time than to bring your spouse and your marriage before the Father?

  • Use your words to convince yourself and your spouse daily that you really do love each other.
    • You need to have an arsenal of life-giving words at your disposal. Somedays it is easy to love your spouse and speak life to them other days….well…. not so much. Alex and I have several one-liners that we say to each other pretty much every day. When one person says one, the other person has a response. Here are a few of them-
      • I love you/I need you
      • You are my heart/You are my home
      • I will love you for forever
      • You have a rockin hot body
      • You’re my boo thang/ You’re my thang boo
    • These are just things that we say to each other to constantly remind ourselves that we are loved by each other. These little one-liners bring life to our marriage.
    • These life-giving words do not have to be organic. Plan them out in advance. Alex called me one day and said that he wanted us to start saying “we need each other” because he had heard it on the radio on his way to work. From that day on, we said it to each other. The last one we got off of a television show that we both like. It’s funny but it speaks life and that’s what we want in our relationship.
    • Speaking life-giving one-liners over your year can also be helpful in making it the year you want it to become.

So our suggestion for your new year is very simple. Change your words. Change your life.

It genuinely is that simple. Now, will it be easy every day? No. But that is when the pre-work comes in handy. That is when that arsenal of life-giving words come in handy. If you have a good vocabulary built up it will be easier to use it.

It’s time to chose life. It’s time to build up. It’s time to feel good about what your relationship looks like.

Its time for a great 2019 and a great marriage.

So the only thing left to do it do it!

James 1:19-25 says this

My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.  Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do. Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless.

Be a doer of the Word. Change your words and be blessed in all you do!

You can do this one word at a time. We are praying for you!

Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

 

A Sacred Privilege

Hello Friends,

I will not say obey!

That is exactly what I looked at Alex and said as we were preparing our vows and planning our wedding. I went on to tell him that I was looking for a husband not a father so I did not see any reason to say obey because when would I ever need to “obey” anyway.

Now let me backtrack a little to tell you how we got to that conversation. I was raised by a fiercely independent woman and was taught very young that I should always be able to take care of myself. My daddy was an amazing man but he passed away when I was 12 so I didn’t have any memories of him “leading” our family. I remember my mama taking care of herself and me with very little outside help. I also saw some very unhealthy marriages around me where the man was very domineering and the woman was pretty much just along for the ride. So I made up my mind very early that I was not going to be treated like a doormat and that I would never let a man tell me what to do. I had heard sermons on the “s” word but it seemed really unfair and outdated. I had no desire or plans to be “submissive.”

So let’s go back to that day with Alex. Looking back I see how incredibly rude and “out of nowhere” this must have seemed to him. He had never given me any reason to come out and say this. I remember how chill he was about it. He just looked at me and told me I could say or not say whatever I wanted in the vows and we went on planning everything out. Our wedding day came and went and I did not say obey.

It wasn’t until several months after our wedding that he told me how much that statement had hurt him. He told me that he knew that I said it because of what I had seen in others but that he had never given me a reason to project that on him. That was eye-opening to me and I really started thinking about what it meant to be a submissive wife. I started really watching how Alex treated me and how he lead with such a gentle spirit. I saw how he gave me grace when I didn’t deserve it and how he did things with and for me just because he loved me. I wanted to be a godly wife because of how good Alex was to me. I really started studying what it meant to be submissive and started trying my very best to walk it out. I come to realize that when we do things the way the Lord intended them to be, life is so much better. I learned that submission doesn’t mean a life of servitude and mistreatment. I learned that being a submissive wife is a beautiful thing and a sacred privilege.

So on our one year anniversary I rewrote my wedding vows and gave them to Alex. I apologized for being harsh and promised him that I would do my very best every day to be the wife that God called me to be and that he deserved.

I laugh and tell people all the time that my husband had to teach me to be submissive and that is the honest truth. Now has every day been smooth submissive sailing?!? Of course not but the important thing is I am always striving to be that Ephesians 5 wife.

The world wants us to believe that being submissive is a bad thing and for way too long I believed the lie. You may be believing the lies that the world is telling as well. So let’s dig into some scripture together and let’s learn what it really means to be submissive to your own husband.

Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— for we are members of his body. “For this reason, a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. Ephesians 5:22-33

So in these verses, we are told to submit and respect our own husbands. Let’s look at what those two words mean.

Submit means- accept or yield to the will of another person

Respect means- a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something

Submit and respect go hand in hand!

We submit when we do things the way our husbands would like them done and by having a deep admiration for him. It’s that simple.

Take a trip back in time with me ladies to when you and your spouse first met. How did you treat him? I bet you couldn’t wait to see him or talk to him on the phone. He was the smartest, strongest, and hottest man you had ever seen right?!?!  You thought he was the best thing ever and I bet you told everyone about him! You did things just because you knew you would be together. You did things just because he wanted to do them!

Why did you do all that?!?!?! Why did you talk highly of them and do things with them? (ahem respect and submit)

Because you admired and accepted him simply for being him! You just wanted to be with him!

So that raises this question.

Why should we stop doing that after marriage?!?! Why does that have to go away?!?!

Yes, I realize that things change the longer you are together but why can’t it be changed for the better. Why can’t you be madly in love with your spouse for always?

I think we can be but it is only when we do things the way they were designed by our Creator. Men loving their wives and women submitting to their husbands by respecting them.

Let’s look at an example of a wife showing respect in the Bible.

You got to love Sarah. She had her moments of crazy (who can forget that whole Haggai scandal) but if you really look at Sarah you can see that she had a deep respect for Abraham. I mean Abraham got up one morning and told her that God was telling him to go to “a place I will show you” and she followed him. Now that is a “ride or die” kind of girl and I can dig that! She had to be a brave and adventurous woman.

But there was something that Sarah wanted desperately- a baby- and even though God had promised them it would happen the “going home outfit” was still hanging in the closet. By the time that the angels show up and told Abraham that he was about to be a dad both of them were very old and had all but given up on that dream. Let’s jump into the story right there.

And they said to him, Where is Sarah your wife? And he said, [She is here] in the tent. The Lord said, I will surely return to you when the season comes round, and behold, Sarah your wife will have a son. And Sarah was listening and heard it at the tent door which was behind Him. Now Abraham and Sarah were old, well advanced in years; it had ceased to be with Sarah as with [young] women. [She was past the age of childbearing]. Therefore Sarah laughed to herself, saying, After I have become aged shall I have pleasure and delight, my lord (husband), being old also? Genesis 18:9-12

Did you catch that?!?! Sarah called Abraham “lord” a term of respect but she said it to herself.

You may be thinking, ok what’s your point?!?!

She respected Abraham so much that she showed him respect and honor even when no one would see or hear her. She did not treat him one way in public and another way in private. She gave him respect at all times!

So why did she do this?!?! She was talking to herself, she could have called him anything and no one (besides God) would have heard her.

She did it because he was her husband and for that one reason alone he deserved respect and honor.

LADIES- please grab a hold of this and run with it! Your husband deserves respect and honor simply because he is your husband. He should not have to do anything to earn it. He should simply receive it!

Alex and Andy talked last week about what the Lord said to men. He had a lot to say to them, my friends. They have a lot of responsibility that comes with the position they hold. Let’s show them our support and respect instead of just demanding more from them.

Are they perfect? No, but if you are using that as an excuse to disrespect your man can I just gently nudge you out of your holiness bubble long enough to say that you are not perfect either!

Will they make mistakes? Yes, but use those moments as opportunities to extend the grace that has so lavishly been extended to us.

They need us to be a soft place to land! And it is my experience that if you will give them that soft place they will dust themselves off from any mistake and come back stronger and better than ever. If you treat him like he is the best man ever he will act like the best man ever!

So how do we do this whole submit and respect thing?!?

Let’s look at some practical, daily things that we can do to be the wives we are called to be.

  • Make up your mind that you are going to respect him by-
    • Watching how you speak to and about him
      • Any chance you get to lift him up-DO IT!
      • NEVER speak negatively about him to others
    • Honor his request
      • Do something with or for him just because he would enjoy it- no strings attached
      • If he asks you to do things a certain way (nothing legally or morally wrong of course) why not do it his way?
    • Communicating with him often and gently
      • This is key for any relationship but be sure it is a two-way conversation- no nagging.
      • Communicate expectations and make sure both of you agree on them
    • Do not be historical- give grace and forgiveness out freely and quickly
      • NEVER bring old fights back up.
      • Give forgiveness as quickly as you would like to receive it
      • Don’t hold him to some unrealistic or uncommunicated expectations.
    • Pick your battles
      • There will be times that disagreements arise but most can be avoided if we would just ask ourselves if it is worth losing our peace over?
    • Give him space
      • Sometimes men just need some alone time- respect that request
    • Ask him how you are respecting him well and in what areas you can improve
      • Actually, listen to the areas that you can improve on without making excuses and then try to do better

Now you may be reading this thinking that this does not apply to you if your husband is not saved or if he is not leading the family well! Sorry, but the Lord had something to say about that as well.

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, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. 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, like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her lord. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear. 1 Peter 3:1-2,5-6

These verses are telling us that submission is so important that our husbands could be saved simply because of our respect and submission. Now that is some wild and beautiful stuff! And there is our girl Sarah again! The Lord is acknowledging her unspoken respect to Abraham and telling us to be like her!

That’s powerful ladies! We have not been given a burdensome obligation but a sacred privilege. The world has tried very successful to make submission a bad word. Let’s bring it to light! Let’s expose it as the amazing privilege that it is!

Isaiah 1:19-20 says this “If you are willing and obedient, You shall eat the best of the land; But if you refuse and rebel, you shall be devoured by the sword.”

Let’s claim that promise! The Lord has told us to submit and be respectful. Let’s do it with a willing and obedient heart. Let’s take it to far! Let’s be the godly wives that our husbands deserve! Let’s watch and see the Lord be faithful to His promise.

You can do this! We are praying for you!

Don’t Break the Unbreakable

Hello Friends

A long time ago in a land far, far away there lived a man whose name was Alex. This may or may not be based on a true story…. But it so is….

My mother was doing some cleaning at her house and had gotten some new dishes and asked if Tara and I wanted these white dishes (the whole set, I mean plates, bowls, cups, the whole 9 yards) They were white with blue floral trim around the edges. I remember eating with these plates for the better part of my childhood and teenage years. When I was looking at the plates and thinking about all of the meals that had been eaten with them and family time together (yes I’m sentimental) I turned the plate over and dropped it (I am also clumsy). The plate seemed to hang in the balance for a small eternity and then, BAM, right on the hardwood floors. With bated breath, I opened my eyes, and the plate hadn’t broken!! When I picked up the plate, I noticed something that I hadn’t seen before. In small print on the bottom of the plate just below the maker’s logo, the word unbreakable. Now I’m not sure how you all feel about that word, but all at once the sentimental wore off and I audibly said: “challenge accepted bro” (yes, I talk to inanimate objects, don’t judge me, man). So at that point, I did what any man would do in my position,  I started looking for a way to break this plate. I hit it on the kitchen table, WHAM-O, nothing. So then I’m all like “well played Mr. Plate, you’re going down homie”. I bent it across the kitchen counter (or at least I tried). I hit it with a hammer, KABLAM, still in one piece. By this time, as any man would be, I am livid. Blood boiling and red-faced I lift the plate over my head, let out my greatest war cry and slam the plate as hard as I could across my own knee. With a loud pop pieces of the plate (somewhere around 47 million pieces to be exact) go flying out in every direction like it had been hit with the Hadouken by Ryu in the last round of streetfighter. The victory was mine at last! It felt good to know that I had utterly decimated something that was considered unbreakable.

Then my loving mother looked at me with that mom look (you know the one) and said: “You know where the broom is, clean it up”. That stupid plate that had been my great victory over something unbreakable was now spread somehow across my mother entire house. Literally the whole place, every room, somehow had remnants of my mighty destruction. I cleaned for at least 3 days (the space-time continuum had been ripped by my awesome deathblow to the plate….. ok, so it was only like an hour but whatever).  For real, I hate sweeping and it was like everywhere I looked there were more tiny bits of the plate. The victory was less and less sweet the longer it took to clean it up until eventually, it wasn’t a victory at all. Fast forward to a few years later. Mom had to replace her stove, and guess what she found under the stove. That’s right, pieces of that plate. I thought I had cleaned up my mess, but there it was hiding a dark corner just waiting to be exposed.

What does a stupid plate have to do with being a godly husband? Everything.

1 Peter 3:7

7 Likewise, you husbands, live considerately with your wives, giving honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they too are also heirs of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered.

This is not to say that women are weak. They aren’t at all. Tara and my mother are two great examples of what an unbreakable woman looks like, but if mistreated and demeaned they will eventually reach the maximum capacity of what they can take. They can be broken. What Peter is saying is that we as men are to treat our wives like a crystal vase, or a fine piece of China, or something of great sentimental value.

In other words, we should not try to break the unbreakable. We should instead do everything in our power to preserve it with care and love.

Malachi 2:14. Also states by treating your wife harshly your prayers will be hindered. Apparently, this is something that the Lord takes very seriously! 

We are to love and cherish our wife far more than any material object, we as husbands are called to love her like Christ loves the church.

Ephesians 5:22-32

22 Wives, be submissive to your own husbands as unto the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife, just as Christ is the head and Savior of the church, which is His body. 24 But as the church submits to Christ, so also let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. 25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for it, 26 that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, 27 and that He might present to Himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing, but that it should be holy and without blemish. 28 In this way, men ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord cares for the church. 30 For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. 31 “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall be one flesh.” 32 This is a great mystery, but I am speaking about Christ and the church. 33 However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

So what does it mean to love your wife as Christ loved the church?

How did Christ love the church?

He served people(the church) and laid down His life for them.

I know that most of us won’t be put in the position of literally laying down our lives for our wives, however, we should be willing to serve her just as Christ served. One great example of Christ’s servant outlook can be found in John 13. When Jesus lowered himself to wash the feet of the disciples. He laid aside his garment or cloak and girded himself with a towel. In the time and culture, your cloak was a symbol of your level of importance or a way to be identified. Jesus was willing to lay aside his identity as the head to wash away their dirt. In the scripture from Ephesians 5, it says that Christ gave himself for the church (his bride) so that she would be sanctified and washed by the word.

So how do we “give ourselves” for our wives?

Every day as a man of God we must lay aside our own goals and motives for our bride and spend time encouraging her in God’s Word. In today’s society, it seems that too many men sacrifice their marriages for their job or hobbies or whatever else when it should be the other way around. I know that as a man, you want to work hard and put in the extra time at work so that you can have “the good life”, but at what cost?

If your wife had to make a list of what you have sacrificed for her needs or desires, how long of a list would that be? I was presented with this question when reading “Kingdom Marriage” by Tony Evans, and it was such an eye-opener.

What are some things that I can do to help my wife to achieve her needs and desires?

Be a source of protection.

Protection – a person or thing that prevents someone or something from suffering harm or injury.

Tara told me the other day that one of the things that I had done that made her feel safe and protected was in December 2017. I was in Peru on a mission trip with some friends of mine and had seen that back home in Alabama the forecast was calling for snow. I immediately jumped on the phone and called her with a list of things that she needed to accomplish before snowfall began. As soon as I got off of the phone with her I called Andy and asked him to keep an eye on Tara and her mother. Too many people (myself included) this may not seem like a huge deal, but Tara felt that even a few thousand miles away that I was protecting her.

Andy had this to say about protection for his wife Penny.

One of the biggest compliments  Penny has given me concerning protection was about sleep. It seemed insignificant to me but she travels a lot with work and never sleeps well out of town. The first night back home she always sleeps peacefully and she always says the same thing.  I know I’m safe and I don’t have to worry. She knows because I love her as Christ loves the church she is protected and cherished. Like a precious vessel.

Our wives need to know that we care about them and want them safe and taken care of. To a woman security is important, and it is our job to provide that security.

Be a source of provision

Provision – supply with food, drink, or equipment, especially for a journey.

Provision is not just monetary or physical. One thing that we want this whole blog to show you is that life together is one big adventure and journey with your love. On this journey, there are certain things that are necessary to survive. Food and drink are two very important things to have on your journey in the physical sense because let’s face it no one is their best self when they are hungry and dehydrated. Now let’s look at it from the stance of Spiritual provision. Matthew 4:4 says that we cannot live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.  John 4:14 says whoever drinks of the spirit will never thirst again. So when you look at it from this perspective, whenever a situation arises (good or bad) it is our responsibility to be lead by the Spirit and provide encouragement through the Word of God. We need to get into our Word so that we can present it to them. When you are not spiritually dehydrated, it is much easier to care for your bride in the way that God has called you to.

It all boils down to you get the best out of something when you have put your best into it. If you will put your best into your wife by loving her, protecting her, and providing for her, she will, in turn, give her best for you. This is a win-win! A no-brainer!

Remember just because it says “unbreakable” doesn’t mean that it cannot be broken. The victory of breaking it will soon be lost when you have to pick up the pieces.

However, if you take care of the “unbreakable” it will stay strong and beautiful and last a lifetime! It will be something that you can be proud of!

You can do this! We believe in you and we are praying for you!

Pursuit: Passion Vs Passive

Hello Friends

So back in October, I chased a bear.

Now when I say I chased a bear I mean that in the most literal sense. I loudly and passionately chased a bear in the mountains of Tennessee. Let me tell you how I got to this moment.

Alex and I have been married for almost 7 years. Very early in our marriage, Alex found out that I wanted to see a bear in its natural habitat. Since he found that out he has made it his mission that I would see one. He has taken me to Gatlinburg, TN on multiple occasions with no bear sightings. When we went to Colorado last year He googled and found the campsite that had the highest bear sightings and we camped there for two days- no bears. When we went up north to Maine, we kept our eyes open for a possible bear- nothing. So when I say that Alex has driven me all over this beautiful country for years to see a bear- it’s the honest truth.

So this October we decided to go to Gatlinburg with some friends on a vacation. I was hoping that maybe this trip we would be successful and I would see one. I had often wondered what that moment would look like when I actually saw this creature. Well here is what happened.

We were driving back to our cabin and the sun was very bright. Alex and Andy were in the front seat and Penny and I was in the back. We were all talking when Alex turned the corner and the sun blinded him. I looked up and crossing the street was a black bear. My brain processed what it was but I could not get the word “bear” out of my mouth so I start screaming like a crazy person. Andy saw it and yelled bear! Keep in mind- Alex is still blinded and Penny has no idea why everyone is screaming. Andy starts yelling at him to go, I am frantically trying to open my car door (yes, the car is moving) but I could not get it to open. We pull up to where it had crossed and Andy lets me out of the car. We both go running down the street along the tree line after this bear! I am still making random squealing noise because words still haven’t come yet. Andy sees it in the woods points it out to me and I dropped to my knees with arms extended as I violently scream, “COME BACK BEAR!” At this point, the bear takes off never to be seen again!

In my mind, my first encounter was going to be a peaceful quiet moment. However, when it came it was wild and loud and beautifully chaotic.

The next morning when I was spending time with Jesus He asked me this question.

What if you chased after me like you chased that bear?

Can we just take a moment to let that question sink in? I have been all over the country in search of this one thing. I have been passionately looking and waiting for the moment I would see this bear. WHAT IF I search for Jesus in this passionate way? What would my relationship be like if I put in that much passion in my pursuit of Him?

Then He branched off the question concerning Alex. What would your marriage look like if you pursued Alex with that much passion?

Now I want to take this time to let you know that Jesus was not scolding me. I did not feel guilty at that moment. I felt encouraged to turn that passionate pursuit that is inside of me outward and upward- outward to my husband and upward toward Jesus. I do not want to be passive about them and passionate about a bear.

So today we are going to talk about how to passionately pursue our spouses. What does passionate pursuit even look like and how do we go about doing it?

Before we dive into this topic, I want to encourage you that without that upward relationship in place your outward relationship will always be lacking. You have to spend time with Jesus to be able to pursue others the way we are created to do. We have to turn that passion upward for outward to work effectively.

So let’s take a moment to talk about the difference between being passionate and being passive in your marriage.

A little disclaimer here- I am not talking about sexual passion (we will get to that later). Right now I am talking about how you can pursue your spouse in a passionate way.

According to dictionary.com

Passion– a strong and barely controllable emotion

Passive– accepting what happens without active response or resistance.

So if we are going to be passionate we should have strong emotions about our marriage and our spouse and take action steps to convey those emotions to the one we love. We should not just sit back and let life happen with no action on our part.

I ask several couples what passion in their marriage looks like.

One lady said-For me- passion and honor go hand in hand. I feel more passionate about my husband when he honors me in a loving way. It is usually in the small things like- opening a car door, always let me speaks first and really listening to what I have to say, acknowledging my presence when we are in a crowd or when I walk into the room or watching a show I want to watch. A big one for me is I know he does not speak negatively about me to other people. He treats me like God’s daughter and because of that, I feel passionate towards him. Because of that, I want to be just as passionate toward him because it is a two-way street.

Her husband resonated her same thought with-You always put her first-always. It could be as simple as just doing something so she doesn’t have too. Regardless of how you are feeling you should always have a servant’s heart toward her.

One couple told me that they feel the passion in their marriage when they minister together. They feel united when they get to speak life into people that have lost their hope. Knowing that they are doing what they were created to do together ignites a passion for them.

One lady told me that she loves the date nights that she and her husband share alone. She loves to have his undivided attention and spending that time together is passionate for her.

Her husband’s response was very unique to me. He said that he does not feel like he is very passionate so he is very intentional about speaking her love language. He knows that when he does acts of service for her she feels love so to make up for what he sees as a weakness he speaks her language fluently.

To me passion in marriage is when you do things simply because you know your spouse would like it- whether it is cooking his favorite meal, going to a two day metal music festival with him, when he takes you all over the country in search of one animal or decorates for the holidays even though decorating is not his favorite thing to do.

I ask Alex what passion look liked to him. He said that passion in marriage is when you turn a detour into an adventure. In those moments when life just does not go your way, you always look for a way to turn them around for the best.

Being passionate in your marriage does not have to be hard or expensive. Your spouse needs to know that they are your number one priority. They need to be pursued every day. You cannot become passive when it comes to your spouse. A happy marriage is not found it is formed- every day. As I have read and reread what these couples told me I see a formula forming on how to have a passionate marriage.

PUT YOUR SPOUSE BEFORE YOURSELF.

It is really easy after marriage to get passive. A lot of people try so hard when they are dating only to stop the pursuit after there is a ring on the other person’s hand. That is when you are just getting started. Do not look at marriage as the final destination but as the beginning to something awesome. When something is maintained its grows and thrives the same is true with a relationship.

So how do you start this passionate pursuit? How do we put our spouses first?

  • Start with baby steps
    • Learn your spouses love language and speak it fluently
    • Find a way every day to honor and respect them (there are so many resources available to help with this one)
    • Speak only words that build them up not tear them down
      • Say things like “I love you” and “I need you”
      • Never speak negatively about them to others
    • Treat them as if they are a gift from the Father (spoiler alert- THEY ARE)
    • Find a common interest and or a ministry that you both like and dive into it together
  • Be consistent
    • You are in this for the long haul. This is not something that you can ever stop doing.
    • It does not have to be hard or expensive. The little things add up just like the big things.
  • Don’t give up
    • There will be times that your spouse will not response to your pursuit the way that you want them too- chase them anyway.
    • Nothing worth having is gained easily or without a few setbacks. You got this!
    • Don’t wait on them to earn it, do it because it is the right thing to do.

Think back to how you won your spouse over, to begin with- maybe it’s time to pull out those old habits and make them a way of life.

I want to end this with an encouragement. You may be having some seriously hard problems in your marriage that seem like they can never be changed. You may be reading this thinking all this pursuit and honor will not help with this big problem. Test this! It’s funny how when you get serious and consistent in putting your spouse first other things start falling into place as well. It seems unbelievable but it is true. If you do this and do not give up other areas will start to heal. Just give it time!

You should pursue your spouse, by all means, necessary even if it means driving them all over the country to see a bear. If you consistently and passionately pursue your spouse your marriage will be wild, loud, and beautifully chaotic!

We believe in you and we are praying for you!