The Five W’s of Marriage

Hello Friends,

Have you ever taken an English class?

I am sure if you are able to read this then the answer is yes. If you are like me you have probably taken multiple English classes through your life. Regardless of the number of English classes, you have taken I am sure at some point you have seen the 5 w’s. Maybe they were never referred to as the 5 w’s but you have definitely run across these five words in class. The 5 w’s are- who, what, when, where, and why. In English class, we use the 5 w’s for information gathering and problem-solving. When it came to doing an exercise or paper in your class, by asking yourself these five questions, you could find the information you needed to solve whatever the problem was or write the paper.

As I was praying and thinking about what this blog should be about the word “why” popped into my brain. I went to Alex and told him that I thought we should do the blog and video about the word, why. I explain to him that I knew it was just one word but that I could not shake the fact that it was important and maybe we should talk about the “whys” in marriage. That was literally all I had to say about it when I went to him. He took that one word and that one thought I had, thought about it for a few moments, and then said let’s do that but add a few other questions too, like what and where and when. At that moment, we both thought about an English class so we googled it. We looked at the five w’s that we learn about in English class and decided to do a spin on it- the 5 w’s of marriage.

So tonight’s blog is more of an assignment than anything. As I thought about the 5 w’s and how I have used them in school it became very clear that if we will ask ourselves these five questions it can help us in marriage also. If these five words will help us gather information and solve problems in school why can’t they do the same thing in other areas of our lives as well?

Below I have listed several questions per word that you can sit down with your spouse and discuss. Use these questions as a starting point you can focus on all of them or one of them or you can add some of your own. Do whatever will be most beneficial for your relationship. In the very first blog and video, we did we talked about having a road map for our marriage. You can use these questions to get you back on course if you have gotten lost or to keep you focused and continuing on the right path. These questions can help to solve problems in your relationship or to help you accomplish certain goals you may have as a couple.

Below you are only going to find questions, I am not going to answer them because the answers that are right for Alex and I may not be the correct answers for your marriage. Every marriage is different so I do not for a second want you to think that yours has to look like ours or anyone else’s. The main thing here is to sit down with your spouse. The two of you have to be on the same page if you are going to make progress in your relationship. So let’s get started with our assignment, shall we?

The Assignment

Let’s answer the following questions! Keep your eyes on your own paper! You may begin!

WHAT?

What is something I love about my spouse?

What is something that we do well as a couple?

What is something that needs improvement in our marriage?

What goals do we need to set as a couple?

WHEN?

When is a good time to invest in my marriage?

When is a good time to be quiet?

When is a good time to speak up?

When should I seek counseling for my marriage?

WHERE?

Where are we in our relationship right now?

Where do we see our marriage in 5, 10, or 20 years?

Where should we start to make changes?

Where can I make my marriage a priority?

WHY?

Why do I react to things a certain way in my relationship?

Why do I feel like my relationship should look a certain way?

Why do certain arguments happen?

Why is my spouse special to me?

WHO?

Who is someone that is watching your marriage?

Who is someone you can mentor in marriage?

Who needs to compromise or apologize?

Who do I need to remove from my life to make my relationship better with my spouse?

 

Press through the Awkward

These are just a few questions to get you started. My prayer is that you sit down with your spouse and go through these questions and any others that will help to further your relationship and draw you closer together. These questions may be awkward and not easy to talk about but it will be worth it in the long run if you can fix areas in your marriage that need some resolution! You are worth it, your spouse is worth it, your marriage is worth it.

You can do this! We are praying for you!

Spiritual Investment for Relational Gain

Hello Friends,

Over the last seven months, we have talked about so many things that we can do to further our relationship with our spouses. We have talked about putting their needs and desires above our own. We have talked about respecting them and studying them and spending more time together. We have talked about shifting our perspective and making every moment count. Today we are going to be changing gears slightly. Today we are going to talk about how to improve our marriage by investing in our own spiritual well being. That’s right, you can strengthen your marriage by making your relationship with the Lord a daily priority. You can strengthen your marriage by setting aside some alone time every day.

Ephesians 2:10 Amplified Version
For we are His workmanship [His own masterwork, a work of art], created in Christ Jesus [reborn from above—spiritually transformed, renewed, ready to be used] for good works, which God prepared [for us] beforehand [taking paths which He set], so that we would walk in them [living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us].

If we are going to be the best version of our selves that we can be which in turn will make us the best husband or wife we can be we need to make spiritual investments by having a personal, intimate relationship with the Father. We have to pray and read the Word if we want to 1. get to know Him better and 2. grow and develop into the person He has created us to be. The Lord has big plans for us. Such big plans that we can not accomplish them alone. We have to have His help. One of those plans is to have a marriage that models Christ and the church. However, we can not model what we do not know. So spending that time investing in learning, reading, and praying is critical for us personally and relationally. If we will take the time to invest in our spiritual wellbeing we will see not only relational gain but more abundant life in general.

Let’s spend some time talking about how to develop a personal quiet time every day. 

Going to Church Won’t Cut It

I figured I would grab your attention early in this blog by making this statement. A statement I fully stand behind by the way. Let me set this section up by saying this. I love the church. I love the fellowship that it brings and the discipleship. I love corporate worship and I love sitting under Pastoral leadership. Going to church is important and we are told in the Bible that it is beneficial and needed.

Hebrews 10:23-25 Amplified Version
Let us seize and hold tightly the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is reliable and trustworthy and faithful [to His word];and let us consider [thoughtfully] how we may encourage one another to love and to do good deeds, not forsaking our meeting together [as believers for worship and instruction], as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more [faithfully] as you see the day [of Christ’s return] approaching.

Here is what I am saying.

We can not go to church once or even twice a week and think that is sufficient for us to sustain an intimate, thriving relationship with the Father.

That does not work in our physical relationships and it will not work in our spiritual relationship either. Will it get us into heaven, yes, if you have asked Jesus into your heart, but there is so much more abundance on this side of heaven that comes with regular time in prayer and study. We have to have a daily rhythm if we are going to navigate marriage and life in general well. So if you are going to church, GREAT! Keep going but take time every day to have some one on one time with the Father as well.

Ways to be Intentional about Spiritual Investment

  • Find a time and a place(s) that works for you!

We can not go into this with the mindset that it has to look a certain way or that it has to look like someone else’s time. We all live different lives which means our personal time with the Lord will look differently. Go with what works for you. It may be an hour or it may be 10 minutes. It could be in the privacy of an office or it could be in the car rider line. The point is not the length or the spot its the quality time spent. God honors when we take time out of our day to draw closer to Him.

  • Find a theme

There is absolutely nothing wrong with just opening your Bible up in Genesis and starting to read. In fact, I am in the process doing just that right now. However, when we do it that way we can hit Numbers and Leviticus and gets super bogged down and stop reading. I have found it helpful to pick a topic and turn my focus on reading and studying about it. It can be whatever interest you the most. It can also be whatever you struggle with the most. When I first started spending time daily with God I was really bad at praying. So I started there and found passages that talked about prayer.

  • Bring in other resources

Find books, devotions, audiobooks, websites, podcast, or anything about what you are studying and incorporate that into your time as well. You may spend one day reading your Bible and the next day listening to a podcast. Every day does not have to be the same.

  • Talk to God

Take time to talk to the Father. I encourage you when you pray in your personal time to just have a normal conversation with Him. It does not have to be poetic or rehearsed or use perfect wording. Just talk to Him like you would a friend that had come by for coffee. Use real words, tell Him your real concerns, present Him with your real request, praise Him for all He has done, and then listen as He speaks back to you.

Your time is your time. It does not have to be perfect it just needs to be regular. How beautifully wild is it that the God of the universe wants to spend time with us. He is so big, He created all things and He literally keeps our world spinning and yet He desires to spend one on one time with us. He truly is a good Daddy. And if we are willing to spend this time we are so much better for it. I can tell you with 100% certainty that my life, my marriage, and I am so much better since I have been intentional about this. Life still happens but I feel that I navigate things so much better when I have spent that time with Him.

How Does This Help My Marriage?

  • If it makes you better it will, in turn, make your marriage better

When we are growing and learning it will have a positive effect on our relationships as well. As we mature spiritually we also mature naturally. We make better decisions because of the wisdom gained from the Lord and when better decisions are made certain struggles can just be avoided altogether.

  • We Can Share What We are Reading and Learning With Our Spouse

What you are learning about can be a great conversation piece with your spouse. Share with them a passage that you have read or an author that you have discovered you like. Share with them a struggle or a victory that you are praying for. If they are having a quiet time they can share what they are learning and praying about as well. You or your spouse could give greater insight into a topic that you may be focused on. The possibilities are endless when these conversations start happening.

  • Have a Devotion or Prayer Time Together

If you are both interested in the same topic use it and have a time of study and learning together. Find a book and read it and then come together and discuss it. Take some time and read your Bibles together. Praying for each other and with each other. Again it does not have to look at a certain way, it just needs to work for you.

 

There is so much to gain here and nothing to lose. Spiritual Investment will bring you some amazing gain. One is a better version of yourself which leads to a better marriage. It may be hard at first but keep going, don’t give up. The Lord will honor that time and it will be time well spent.

You can do this! We are praying for you!

The Enneagram and Marriage

Hello Friends,

Who likes taking personality tests? I do! I enjoy learning about myself and finding out why I do certain things, certain ways. I enjoy learning what my strengths are and how I can use them to accomplish the things the Lord wants me to do. I also like to know what my weaknesses are as well that way I can work on turning them into strengths. Another reason I love personality tests is because of the insight it gives me into the people that are in my life. I enjoy learning about my friends so I can be a better friend to them. I enjoy learning more about Alex so that I can be a better wife.

Honestly, I am a nerd. I like learning things and then applying them to my life.

I have taken several tests throughout the years to help me know myself better but I have just recently come across the Enneagram. You may have already heard about it. It has been around for years now but somehow I had missed it until about 6 months ago. Honestly, I did not take it right away because it seemed a little complicated. There are about a million different test that you will find if you google the Enneagram and since I did not know which ones were accurate tests I just pushed it aside. It just seemed too complicated to me. It wasn’t until I found Beth McCord through the Go and Tell Gals podcast that I really got into it! She is a Christian and her studies on the Enneagram are all Christ-centered. Since I knew she was a Christian I took the test she offered and have learned so much about myself, Alex, and the people in my life.

Why Take the Enneagram?

The enneagram sheds light into your personality type and why you do the things you do and how you relate to others. But what makes this different than any other test? The reason I am loving this test so much is because of how in-depth it is. I have only begun to scratch the surface of this test because of all there is to learn from it but just based on what I know so far I am hooked. It not only goes over what your strengths are but it also talks about how to grow and maintain a healthy lifestyle and relationships based on your type.

The Enneagram has put into words things about myself that I have never been able to put into words. It has helped me understand myself on such a deeper level. Since I understand myself better, I can be a better version of myself every day.

The Nine Types

When you take the test you will be one of nine types. I am going to go over each type very briefly here but I encourage you to take the test and find out what your type is. Once you find your type there is a wealth of knowledge that you can learn about yourself.

Type 1- The Moral Perfectionist- This type loves to have everything in their lives be done correctly. They are constantly looking for ways to make themselves and things around them better than it was.
Type 2-The Supportive Advisor- This type loves to help others and is very intuned to the needs of the people around them. These are the people that you see going into action when something needs to be done.
Type 3-The Successful Achiever- This type loves goals and achievement. They are very driven and focused and because of that, they tend to accomplish a great deal.
Type 4- The Romantic Individualist- This type loves being unique and special. They love beauty and creativity. They are very introspective.
Type 5- The Investigative Thinker- This type loves to learn something new. They are typically very independent. They prefer doing things on their own instead of asking for help.
Type 6-The Loyal Guardian-This type loves security and knowing the details of situations. They are fiercely loyal to the people in their lives that they trust and love.
Type 7- The Entertaining Optimist- This type loves fun. They are always up for a good time and they tend to always have a positive outlook.
Type 8-The Protective Challenger- This type is very direct, bold, and protective. They love justice and will make sure the people in their lives and themselves are protected from injustice.
Type 9- The Peaceful Mediator-This type loves peaceful situations. They are good listeners and tend to bring peace and calm to situations. They are very discerning.

Again that was a super brief description of each type just to give you an idea of each one.  Do you see one that jumps out at you yet?

If you are interested in learning your type below are Beth McCord’s logo and the information about her website. There you will find a free assessment with resources about each type. She also offers classes that go further into each type and classes on becoming an Enneagram coach yourself. You can also find her on Instagram at @yourenneagramcoach

y48jfJwQiGW9Agof9tfA_ivP1mNlhQU6OdP5DQAqU_TqOJBvrWTuWUGSkgGE7Q_Enneagram-graph
You can find Beth McCord and all her resources on the Enneagram at http://www.yourenneagramcoach.com

So how can we use the Enneagram to help our marriages?

By using the Enneagram you will not only learn about yourself but you can also learn about your spouse as well. By knowing their type, how they respond to certain things, what their strengths and weaknesses are, and how they receive affirmation, we can grow your relationship and make it stronger. You can become more unified as a couple because you will work together and be able to communicate better because of the information you will have about each other.

I said early that it has helped me to understand myself better but it has also helped me to understand Alex on a deeper level as well. In fact, by learning our types it has helped me to understand something Alex said to me five years ago. Yeh, you read that right. It helped me understand a statement that was spoken 5 years ago.

Alex and I have just celebrated our 7th anniversary. On our 2nd anniversary, I asked Alex why he liked being married to me. He told me that he liked being married to me because I needed him. What I heard him say was, “You are needy, but I like it.” Now that was not what he had said but that is what I heard. I did not know why but I did not like that. I did not like the idea of neediness. I did not like that (I thought) Alex thought I was needy. I saw it as a weakness, not a compliment. I could not put my finger on why I did not like what he said. I knew by the way he had said it that he meant it as a compliment and I did not want to hurt his feelings so I just didn’t say anything.

Now let’s fast forward five years. Alex and I take the Enneagram test. I am a type 5 and he is a type 2. Type 5’s are very independent and they do not like asking for help and being needy. Type 2’s love to feel needed and help others. They feel loved when someone needs them. As I was reading about both types the Lord reminded me of the conversation we had 5 years ago. Suddenly what Alex said to me made sense. Suddenly I knew what he was communicating to me.  It really was such a high compliment when I understood his type. It also showed me why I had originally not liked what I thought he was saying. From that knowledge, I went to Alex and shared that with him. We have grown closer to each other and have learned more about each other by having that conversation and it all happened because we learned our Enneagram type.

That is just one example of how knowing our types have helped us as a couple. There have been several situations where I have responded differently to Alex because I understood his actions and motives better based on this test and the same is true for Alex. I feel like I can communicate and affirm Alex much more effectively now than before I knew his type.

The main point I want to make about the importance of learning about yourself and your spouse is this- When we seek knowledge we also gain a deeper understanding. From that deeper understanding comes greater discernment into how to respond to situations that arise. When we respond correctly communication improves. When communication improves we grow into the couple we are supposed to be.

Knowledge = Growth

Growth=Better Marriage

I encourage you to dive into this and do your own research. Learn as much as you can about yourself and your spouse. Knowledge is power. This blog was about the Enneagram but there are several different personality tests that you can take that will help you understand yourself and your spouse better. I encourage you to find out as much as you can!

The more we know the more we grow and the better we become!

 

We are praying for you!

Treat Yo Self

Hello Friends,

Donna Meagle, I have three words for you!

Treat Yo Self!

When my husband made me watch an episode of Parks and Recreation about a year ago I did not think I would even like the show much less be sitting here right now writing a blog about a lesson that we learned from two of the characters.

First off, if you have never watched the show, watch it. It is quite possibly one of the best sitcoms ever. I have watched every episode now multiple times but who is counting? The show revolves around a group of people that work in the parks and recreation department at the City Hall in Pawnee, Indiana. It goes through all the government red tape that people in office have to go through to get anything accomplished. Two of the characters Donna Meagle and Tom Haverford love things, all the things. So they dedicate one day out of every year as “Treat Yo Self” day. They go all out on that day and buy and do whatever they want regardless of the practicality or the price. It is one of my favorite episodes because it is funny but honestly Alex and I have used it to help our marriage. Let me take a few moments and explain how this happened.

Tara, buy the coat!

A random fact about myself. When I was in college I discovered the credit card and the magic that happened when you swiped it. People take that swipe and in exchange, they give you things. But something rather unfortunate happens about 30 days after you get the things. You get a bill and the card company wants you to pay them back plus some. So there was a time in my life when I was in credit card debt up to my eyeballs. When Alex and I got engaged our Pastor and his wife made us take a Dave Ramsey money course. Because of that course, Alex and I became good stewards of our money and were able to pay off all the credit card debt I had and the debt Alex had as well. Since then, I have completely done a 180 where shopping is concerned. I either don’t shop or I shop off the clearance rack.

Let’s fast forward to April of 2018. My mama passed away. That was the single most painful experience I have ever been through. When we were making all the arrangements for her funeral Alex and I both wanted to go and get some new clothes so we would look nice for the funeral. So we went shopping. He got a suit and I was looking for an outfit as well. For the first time in forever, I did not look at the price at all. I just found something I liked, and off to the register, we went. When the cashier rang up the price a painful noise that I can’t replicate literally came out of my mouth. It had been a long time since I had seen a number like that on the clothes I had bought. I turned to Alex mouth open read to tell him to take it back when he looked at me and said, “Tara, buy the coat.” He followed that statement by saying that this was for my Mama’s funeral and that it was ok to spend the money. As we were walking to the car, I had found my words and was telling him all the reasons why I needed to take the coat back. He looked at me and said, “Tara Payne, Treat Yo Self.” Then he got this look on his face. I could tell that an idea was in the works. He told me that the last few months had been very hard and very sad and that we needed to do something so that this time of the year wasn’t all bad. At that moment, Alex declared April 5th as “Treat Yo Self” day for us.

This may seem silly to you but it was one of the most thoughtful things Alex has ever done for me. In a time of sadness that was so heavy, it physically hurt me my husband found a way to force me to shift my perspective. Not only did it shift my perspective it was an intentional way that we could be together as a couple. After Mama’s funeral, we left town. We changed our location and spent time together and I think it was the best thing we could have done.

Allow for Fun in Your Schedule

When you get married life happens and as much as you want to be intentional about having fun with your spouse dating, and spending time and energy on your relationship is usually the first thing that falls through the cracks. I believe this is one of the most diabolical yet seemingly harmless attacks that the enemy has on our marriages. The enemy keeps us busy and focused on other things to the point that our most important relationship suffers right under our noses.

Dating and spending time with your spouse doing things that you both enjoy is crucial if you are going to have a healthy marriage where you are continuing to grow closer as a couple. 

I do not believe it is a “good idea” to date and have fun with your spouse I believe it is a necessity. It is a necessity if you are going to stay connected on a deeper level and continue to grow together. It is a necessity if both of you are going to go the distance and be happy at the same time. It does not have to be hard, expensive, or time-consuming. It just needs to be deliberate and often.

Establish a Budget for Fun

I am not saying make bad financial decisions and be unwise with your resources. And I am not saying that you should only date once a year or that you should date all the time. What I am saying is to change your priorities so that being together and having fun is apart of your regular routine. If you want to do something that costs money, establish a budget for these activities so it does not negatively affect your resources. It can look like or cost whatever works best for you.

Alex and I date on a regular basis and I am thankful for that because it gives us time to just focus on each other. It gives us a margin in our schedule for fun and enjoyment. It gives us a break from the routine.

Create Fun Non-Negotiables

We learned the practice of non-negotiables from Marcus and Emily Harrell. There are certain things that they plan out that are non-negotiables which means once it is planned it will be done. They chose to say yes to each other and no to other things. That is what “Treat Yo Self” day has become to Alex and I. We have set aside that day for the sole purpose of enjoying ourselves in whatever way we chose, it has become a non-negotiable for us.

You should make time for each other on a regular basis, but I do very much encourage a “Treat Yo Self” day. Make it whatever day works best for you. Alex chose April 5th because of the season we had just been through. Your day can be whenever you like but put it on the calendar and make it an annual thing.

I am posting two blogs this time because I  wanted to share what we did on our “Treat Yo Self” day. I wanted to give some recommendations for things you can do for fun, and some dating tips that have helped Alex and me be intentional. So be sure to read it as well.

We live in a fast-paced world that is screaming for every moment of our time. If we aren’t careful we will blink and the connection with our spouse will be gone, what a tragedy that would be.

By setting up non-negotiables, you are making the choice that time with each other is more important than anything else on your schedule. Making that choice will be a game changer for your marriage.

Make a choice to say no to the world for a moment. Choose to say yes to your spouse! Choose to say yes to spending time having fun together and see how it impacts your marriage for the better!

Friends, Treat Yo Self!

Treat Yo Self Day

Hello Friends,

So I hope that you have taken a few minutes and read the first blog we posted today about the importance of dating and doing fun things together in your marriage. Dating and spending time together has a way of establishing a connection with our spouse like nothing else can.

Fun and laughter should be the underlining melody of every marriage.

I went back and forth on whether or not to share this blog about what Alex and I did on our “Treat Yo Self” day simply because I did not want it to seem like I was just bragging about our day.

The reason I decided to share it was because it was a perfect day.

Let me explain, on the way home it occurred to me that I have absolutely nothing negative to say about the entire day. From start to finish, Alex and I have been together and had a great time. It also showed me that when you are intentional with your time and your resources you can have fun without worrying about money or schedule conflicts.

We set the time aside and saved our money for this day so we enjoyed it without any regret or guilt. I also decided to share this blog because if you are anything like us you want to date and have fun but sometimes you just can’t think of anything to do so you fall into the rut of going out to eat then coming home or just not going anywhere. On this day we found a lot of cool things so I want to take a moment to highlight some local business and give you some ideas for future dates with your spouse.

Dating Tip- Pick a location and then ask for advice from people who know the area.

The first thing we did was decided where we were going. We chose Atlanta so we talked to someone who lives there. They told us to try Ponce City Market so that’s where we started our day. Ponce City Market is housed in the historic Sears, Roebuck Building, Co building. There is a lot going on there. There is shopping, food, live events, and a lot more to do in this one location.

20190406_125913
This was our favorite shop at Ponce. The ladies working there were so friendly. We started talking to them when we checked out. They asked us what we were doing so we ended up telling them our story and shared how “Treat Yo Self” became a thing. They loved it and gave us a big discount on our purchase because of it!

 

SugarBoo & Co had some of the coolest items! There was a guy set up at the door selling honey based items and they had all kinds of leather items that had been hand made by the owner of the store.

20190406_114505
The Food Hall was huge and had several different options to choose from. This was a German dessert shop. It was 9:30 in the morning when we went through so we did not get anything but it was so pretty I had to take a picture of it! They had coffee favored desserts and a lot of fruity desserts. I’m sure Alex and I will find our way back there to try those out!

Dating Tip- Go with what you love but give it a twist

20190406_132908Alex and I love Mexican food. But on this particular day, we did not want to go anywhere we usually go. So to change it up but still get food that we liked we found a Mexican restaurant that we do not have in the area that we live! By making one intentional decision we got great food and a new experience at the same time.

Just a little FYI on this restaurant, if you sign up for their e-club (it’s free) they give you free queso that day! #quesoislife

 

 

Dating Tip- Save money so you can “treat yo self” without guilt

20190406_153202
Alex and I both love shoes and we found a DSW in Buckhead. This was the first time that either one of us had been in a DSW. We literally walked in had a moment of “May the odds ever be in your favor!” and went to our respected sides. Great shoes and their prices were not bad at all!

I shared with you in the first blog that I use to have a bad habit of using credit cards. I use to love shopping but I would feel so guilty afterward because I knew we did not have the money to pay the bill. The great thing about saving up the money for your date or day is that you know you have the resources available and it will not be hurting you later on. I told Alex that I so enjoyed shopping on this day because there was no guilt or regret.

20190406_153017

Dating Tip- Be adventurous and do something you have always wanted to do, no matter how silly it is.

Alex has said for years that He wanted to have a straight razor shave one day. On every vacation we have been on in the last few years he has been on the lookout for someone that offered it. Well on this particular day he actually found it so he went for it.

 

 

Dating Tip- Support your spouse’s passions

20190406_182410If there is something that your spouse is passionate about try and find a way to incorporate it into your time together. Alex loves to go to Guitar Center. He would go there every day if there was one close enough to our house. So on our  “Treat Yo Self” day guess where we ended up? Did we buy anything, no! But Alex enjoyed looking at the basses and playing a few of them. Sometimes just taking a few minutes to share something with your spouse can be so helpful for your marriage. It did not cost me anything to sit back for a little bit and let Alex enjoy himself.

 

Dating Tips- Have a Non-Negotiable (make them non-negotiable)

20190406_212258Non- negotiables are another thing that I mentioned in the previous blog. This is a great way to make sure that important things happen. For our “Treat Yo Self” day I had only one request, that we go to Jeni’s Ice Cream shop and have ice cream. I have recently discovered Jeni’s ice cream at Publix and it is delicious! I found out that there were three shops in Atlanta so I definitely one to go to one of them.

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This Butter Almond Brittle ice cream will change your life. They hand made the waffle cones also and this one was still warm! So good! Alex ate the Brambleberry Crisp and had the same life change I did!

 

 

 

Let me take a moment and brag on my man and tell you how seriously he took this non-negotiable. This was the only thing that I 100% wanted to do on this day. I had talked about this ice cream for about a week so Alex was very aware that I was looking forward to it. This was actually the second Jeni’s that we went too and this picture was taken about 9:30 at night. We had chosen another location because it was closer to us. When we got there it was very crowded and we could not find a parking spot. Since it was getting late I told Alex not to worry about it that we could either find another ice cream shop or just go home. He flat out refused and told me that it was non-negotiable and that we would be having Jeni’s ice cream one way or another. We decided to find another location and were successful with parking there. Alex went above and beyond just to get me the ice cream I wanted. This one act by Alex spoke some much love to me. He made my non-negotiable nonnegotiable and that was pretty awesome!

Take the Time, Invest in your Marriage

I hope by sharing our day and these dating tips it will help to grow the fun in your marriages. Alex and I had the best day and we got to draw closer in our relationship. Taking the time to invest is so important to a marriage. I encourage you today. Take time. Invest in your marriage. Make it look like whatever works best for you!  You may not be able to take a whole day. Take a few hours. Take a lunch break. Take whatever you can! Be creativity. Be spontaneous! Be adventurous! Be intentional!

Friends, Treat Yo Self!

 

Beauty for Ashes

Hello Friends

Picture this…

“It was a beautiful, hot, but perfect day in July the day Marcus and I got married…. (it really was perfect) but, to be fair, it wouldn’t be the whole truth if we jumped in and started right there.  Truth is, this story of healing and happily ever after started, unfortunately, with a really hurtful past.

I was in a relationship prior to meeting Marcus. Dating right after high school, and from the very beginning, this guy was incredibly cruel.  Always making remarks about my weight, ridiculing me about my beliefs (raised in church I KNEW better than to be unequally yoked – Long story short, ladies/guys make sure they love JESUS more than they love YOU.  No exception.) This guy I was dating would cheat on me with other girls and actually be proud of it – it was funny to him for me to find pictures on his phone of half-naked women or answer the call from another girl thinking I was his sister, giving me a message that went something like, “tell him I was just calling to let him know he left his phone charger here last night…” or something like that.

It was your typical textbook unhealthy teenage (19 years old) relationship in every way. So, like most young girls who are in any relationship for a long time, those things tend to become your “normal” and this day turns in to that day, turns into that week, that month, that year and you stay because it’s “normal” and you just hope things will surely change.  

We got married but there wasn’t a proposal, no bridesmaids, no saying yes to the dress, no guests at the ceremony (my parents weren’t even invited).  Now, I know all of the “pomp and circumstance” of a huge wedding with a big dress, 7 tier cake, and 14 bridesmaids isn’t a necessity and doesn’t guarantee a good marriage, but my point is… for me, for what I wanted for my life, it was a mess from the very beginning and only continued to get worse year after year.  

The emotional abuse turned into verbal abuse which turned into physical abuse. The shoving and pushing turned into things being thrown at me, which turned into hitting and choking which got worse and worse and then so much worse.  I had bruises I had to cover up, I had cuts that I had to cover up, I had burns that I had to cover up. At one point I was held at gunpoint until he could decide what he wanted to do with me. I had after many years of this convinced myself that I wouldn’t make it out of this marriage alive.  I thought, as long as my kids are ok (thinking they were too young to know what was going on) I could just “deal with it”. I had always been taught and believed (and still believe) that God hates divorce, so I thought this was it. This was my life from now on.

You’re probably wondering what in the world I did to provoke him to do all of those things, but for those who have been there or those that are there right now… you understand that I didn’t really have to do anything.  He was a sick individual and what set him off could be the simplest of things.

Maybe “I dressed too sloppy. I dressed too nice. I interrupted him. Talked to loud, not loud enough. Sat down when I should have stood up, Stood up when I should have sat down, etc…” Sounds silly, but so very true.

After many years of living on this emotional roller coaster, I started to see the effects that it was having on my children.  One night, in particular, he had me pinned up against the wall in the dining room, in a complete rage when all of a sudden in mid-sentence, he stopped and I fell to the floor.  I looked up to see my little girl (4 at the time) staring at us. I knew then I had to find some help. I had to tell someone.

The process from that day to the day we got a divorce involved a lot of soul searching.  A lot of praying and reading God’s word. I knew God hated divorce, but I also had to come to realize that abuse was not ok.  I sought counseling from my Pastor, confided in my parents, and the few (really, like 2) friends that had caught on to what was happening.  

I’ve been asked many times before, “How did you do it?  How did you leave?” because if you have ever found yourself in that situation, it’s a scary place.  I have described it as standing on the edge of a cliff. I knew that if I jumped there was a good possibility I might not make it (leaving would only add fire to the flame).  I also knew that if I didn’t jump, I definitely would not make it. So, I closed my eyes and jumped. I moved myself and my kids in with my parents until I could find a place and we started the long, drawn-out process of divorce.

I would love to say that it started getting better that very day! I would love to tell you we split everything right down the middle, shook hands, high-fived and co-parented like all great Hollywood families do.  Unfortunately, that is far, far from the truth. It was a terrifying time. My life was threatened, my health declined, I borrowed thousands without knowing how I would pay it back so that I could fight a battle for my children – a battle that I still can’t stand to think about today, without crying.  It was awful and life as a single Mom of two babies was hard. Hardest job in the entire world. I learned the most important lesson of my entire life on that road though. A lesson that has carried me every day since….

One day I had just got home from working all day and as I parked, I noticed a disconnect notice hanging from my apartment door.  One of my utilities had been cut off, again. I was working full time (had a great job that paid decently), but wasn’t receiving any help in child support, still paying thousands in court costs, supporting two kids with groceries, sports, rent, utilities, car payments, etc… it just wasn’t working out and that disconnect notice was the last straw.  I was physically exhausted, mentally exhausted and spiritually exhausted. I was mad at God. Where in the world was He? I had lived for Him since I was 14 years old and I knew for a fact this other person who was causing so much trouble for me had not in fact lived for Him like I had! I know I wasn’t always perfect, but I certainly didn’t do anything too terrible for Him to let this happen to me, or to my kids! Where was He?? I had been praying and praying, asking Him to do this and that.  I even told Him what to do for goodness sake. I told Him exactly what would fix this. Where was He and why wasn’t He listening?

That day when I saw the disconnect notice, I walked into my apartment and I never even took my purse off of my shoulder. I can’t remember, but I’m sure I shut the front door!? I do remember just collapsing right there on the chair by the door, crying and screaming out to God “I give up.  I give up. I can’t do this anymore. I just can’t. Unless You fix this God, all of this, it just won’t get done. I’ve hired everyone that I know to hire I’ve prayed all I know to pray. I have no other choice now, I am giving this totally to You. I’m done.” I surrendered it all to Him at that moment, and at that moment He started doing what we all know He does best, to those who put their faith in Him…  He started working it all for my good.

Lesson learned. I didn’t go to Him with a solution anymore, just submission. I chose to trust Him.

Isaiah 61 says that God will give us beauty for ashes… that He may be glorified.

In biblical times it was customary for people to sit in ashes or cover themselves with ashes to express grief over a distressing situation.  Today ashes, I believe, can represent the wounded, messed up things going on in our lives. Everybody has ashes–and all kinds of them.

Isn’t it beautiful though that God says He can give you beauty for ashes? I love that. However, I think we concentrate on just the beauty sometimes though and forget that unless you give Him your ashes, you don’t get the beauty.  We hold onto our ashes and wonder, Why doesn’t my life change? Where is His beauty?

Well… where are your ashes? There is a substitution plan here, and you have to be willing to trust Him in handing over all of your distressing situations.  He is promising you restoration if you give them over to Him!

I grew closer to God during that awful time in my life, more than I ever had in my life.  I developed a relationship and a bond with my children that was thicker than mud. I became a better Mom, a stronger woman and a walking testimony of Psalms 91!

It wasn’t an overnight fix, there were still many battles I had to fight, but never again did I fight alone.

 

New Beginnings

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Marcus and I met in December 2011 and although the divorce had been final, he still had to walk through too many of those bad days, long nights, back and forth to court we go, custody fights, emotional days that followed with me.  God knew what He was doing when He made him for me though! He would pray over me and the kids every day, encourage me, and fight through every single battle with me. “We are in this together” he would tell me (him, me and two cute little kids)!  He made our days better and restored my hope in happily ever after. Although I felt damaged, undeserving and less than good enough, by loving me and treating me like a real man should, he helped me find myself again. God knew exactly what I wanted and needed in a Godly man like him.

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Happily Ever Afters

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Remember when I said to find someone who loves Jesus MORE than they love you… told ya, it really does work. We’ve been together almost 8 years now, married for almost 5 (in July) and God has been so, so good!! We have an amazing marriage because it is built on a strong foundation in Christ (the key to any amazing marriage)! Our little family started with four but has now grown to received_1813732768726455five!  And while some would consider this to be a “blended” family, we’ve never thought of it that way…. we are family. The thought of it being anything different has never occurred to us. We are family and we are living our beautiful adventure…

 

 

Jeremiah 29:11 (MSG) “I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out – plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.”   

 

The Technique of Forgiveness

I love to dance. I have been a dancer for 19 years now. I have taken thousands of hours of classes trying to perfect this craft. One thing I learned very early on is that in dance you need to have the correct technique if you are going to execute certain steps correctly and safely.

Per Google~

Technique is the basis of all fundamentals of dance, from holding your body correctly while performing to executing skills properly in a routine. Strong technique extends across all areas of dance, regardless of the style of your routine.

The technique is so important in dance because it keeps you balanced to perform the movement in a correct way. It keeps you from injury and aids in making the movement smooth and beautiful. Can you dance without technique? Sure, people do it all the time but you can always spot the dancers that have had technique training from the ones that haven’t.

Marriage is like a dance. It is two people coming together with a common love and goal. When both people are moving to the same beat and are in step with each other the dance is smooth and enjoyable. But when one or both people start dancing offbeat and some toes get stepped on the dance becomes jerky and robotic. If these missteps aren’t corrected by proper technique the dance can be hindered or even worse injury can occur.

One technique we have to learn if our marriages are going to be successful is forgiveness. Forgiveness is something that we have to be willing to use on a daily basis in marriage.

In every marriage, missteps happen which leads to toes getting stepped on. It may start innocently enough but if forgiveness is not extended and received the little things can become big things very quickly. We are two imperfect people living in small spaces. The trick is to use the technique of forgiveness quickly and often to avoid the little things from becoming big things. So let’s break down some practical steps that can be taken to extend forgiveness in our marriages.

The Little Things

Like I said early in every marriage little things happen that require forgiveness. These are the words that get spoken in angry or the things that get forgotten and cause hurt feelings. These are the things that seem harmless and small but if we do not address them they start to add up over time. Sometimes these are intentional things and other times we do not even realize feelings have been hurt. So what are some ways we can make forgiveness a part of our everyday lives?

Over-Communicate!

I remember the first time I hurt Alex’s feelings. The thing is that was not my goal at all. I thought I was offering advice and he saw it as me criticizing him. The fact that it was unintentional did not matter. Words had been spoken that hurt so forgiveness was necessary. Here’s the deal though, had he not communicated this to me I would have never known it happened. Again my intent was to help not hurt so if he had not spoken up I would not have known that anything was wrong.

Communication can be hard but it is necessary for a marriage. We have to be able to sit down with our spouses and be real. Once Alex told me how that made him feel I was able to not only apologize but to also tell him that was not my intent.  If you have trouble with talking through things with your spouse I have a few little tricks for you!

What You Said vs What I Heard

I have mentioned this is another blog but it is so good I think it needs repeating. This one thing has helped Alex and me on so many different occasions. When words get said that hurt your feelings or if you are having an important conversation and you need to be on the same page this is what you do. You tell your spouse, “Ok, I just heard you say this- and you tell them what you heard.” This lets your spouse know what you heard them say and then they can confirm that it is correct or restate what they were trying to say. It’s amazing in marriage how a person can be saying something and the other person hear something totally different than what they were trying to say.  By using this technique forgiveness can happen very quickly if it is needed and sometimes hurt feelings can be avoided altogether.

What Do I Know to be True

Anytime something is said or done in a marriage that is hurtful it is really easy to start thinking and saying absolutes. The words “never” and “always” are very dangerous when you are upset. One harsh word can turn into the statement of, “You always say hurtful things.” or ” You never say anything kind.” Once you start thinking and saying these absolute statements things can go from bad to worse pretty quickly. We can think ourselves into a huge problem if we are not careful. The Bible tells us what we should do with these harmful thoughts.

2 Corinthians 10:5 says this-

And we tear down every proud idea that raises itself against the knowledge of God. We also capture every thought and make it give up and obey Christ.

I put this verse into practice by saying things that I know are true. Anytime I have gotten my feelings hurt I change my thinking by saying truth statements about Alex.

Alex cares for me and has my best interest at heart

Alex does the same thing but in a different way. He takes 1 Corinthians where it is talking about love and he puts my name in the place of love.

Tara is patient and Tara is kind

These are just small ways that we choose to think positive about each other. Once we put these practices into place forgiveness is easier to both give and receive.

Choose Your Battles- Is it Worth the Wasted time?

This should go without saying but I’m going to say it anyway. There are times that we should pick our battles and let it go! I hate being mad at Alex and honestly some things are not worth the wasted time. We need to know when something needs to be talked through and forgiveness needs to be given/received or when to just chalk it up to they are having a bad day and cut them some slack. No one is perfect. We all need some grace from time to time.

The Big Things

Now let’s talk about some of the big things that happen in marriages. People make big mistakes. Some are easier to forgive than others. Some of you who are reading this have been hurt very badly by your spouse now or a previous spouse. Please know that I am not down paying whatever happened to you. I am going to lovingly speak some hard truth to you. Even in the worst situations forgiveness is vital. Harboring unforgiveness will only affect you negatively if it is not dealt with. Our society tells us lies about forgiveness. Because of those lies, some people believe that they shouldn’t forgive and or worse yet that they can’t forgive.  The Bible makes it very plain that we are to forgive others of their wrongs just like we have been forgiven.

Matthew 6:14-15 says~

Yes, if you forgive others for the wrongs they do to you, then your Father in heaven will also forgive your wrongs. But if you don’t forgive others, then your Father in heaven will not forgive the wrongs you do

This verse is very blunt and we need to take it very seriously. If we do not forgive we will not be forgiven. So how do we forgive people who have hurt us deeply and who may or may not be repentant?

Marriage Counseling

Forgiveness can be very hard. If a problem has happened between you and your spouse and you are struggling with forgiveness but you want that reconciliation in your marriage I highly recommend getting outside help. Find a Christian counselor or pastor to help with this. There is no shame in getting help. Getting this help may be the difference in your marriage succeeding and it failing. If reconciliation is possible pursue it with everything you have. Marriage is sacred, do everything in your power to restore it.

Small Groups and Church Family

Find small groups that focus on hurts and forgiveness. I know at our church we have groups that focus on these topics and they have really helped people process their pain and start the process of forgiveness. Having people that have walked through some of the same trials is so helpful because we get to see that healing and forgiveness are possible. You never know what other couples have gone through just by glancing at them. Make friends with other couples. Learn their stories and what all they have overcome. I have been so shocked to hear some of the horrible things that couples I look up to have been through. They seem so strong now I would have never guessed the work they had to do to get to that place. By going to church and befriending other couples you have people that can help you, pray for you, and share their wisdom with you.

Pray and Spend Time with the Father

The Lord is not going to ask us to do anything that He will not help us do. He told us to forgive and He will be there to give us the strength and grace to do what he has asked us to do. Seek Him and be real with Him. Let Him know that you are hurting and that you want to forgive but that it is hard. He is big enough and cares about you enough to handle your deepest and darkest hurts. He is also powerful enough to heal us of them if we will let Him.

Pray for Your Spouse

It is not easy to pray for the person that hurt you whether it be big or small. But something happens in us when we make the decision to pray for them. One it brings God into the equation. It allows Him in so He can do what needs to be done. Secondly, it shifts our focus to the forgiveness and grace that has been so lavishly given to us. The Lord does something pretty cool in us when we pray for those who hurt us. He heals us. Maybe you can only muster a small prayer at first but God honors small things in big ways. Take this one day at a time and see what the Lord can do when you obey Him and ask Him to help you.

Forgiveness is a process. It is not a decision that you will make once and be done with it. You may have to forgive your spouse every hour or every day, to begin with, but eventually, your feelings and your words will line up with the decision you have made. Marriage is worth the work. Forgiveness is worth the work. Your spouse is worth the work. You are worth the work.

You can do this. We are praying for you.

 

 

 

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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