Marriage Isn’t 50/50

Our pastor made this statement during one of his recent sermons.  Marriage is not 50/50.  It’s 100/100.  It’s not about being fair, or always giving the same amount to the marriage.

It’s about each person giving 100%.  It’s about serving your mate, going above and beyond and not counting the costs or keeping score.

Next time you are upset about something not being “fair” in your marriage, remember that it was never meant to be fair.  It’s about commitment.  Period.  It’s about giving everything you have.

However, all of this is not at all possible without God being at the forefront.  You have to have God first in your marriage, or it will never work.  If both of you are focused on God then you’ll be headed in the right direction.  If that is not the case, you’ll be headed in circles or worse, nowhere.

Marriage is a commitment to each other and most important a commitment to God.  You’ve committed to God that you will love this person no matter what, that you will be there for them when times are tough, you’ll pick up the slack, serve them, and respect them.

Ephesians 5:33 says  “However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.”  It doesn’t say “respect your husband if he deserves it”  and it doesn’t say “love your wife only if she deserves it”  It just says to do it.  This, in my opinion, is what keeps marriages together for the long haul.  Because I can almost guarantee you will come across times where neither of you deserve love and/or respect.  And God knew that, that’s why He instructs us to do it anyway.

Our pastor also always says that if you see something positive in your spouse, then focus on that.   Even if it’s small at the moment  just keep fanning the flames to make it bigger.  Encourage whatever is good until you are blue in the face. 

Nobody said marriage was easy, but if we approach it in the way God has outlined in the Bible it will not only last through the hard times, it will flourish.  

Here are 5 things that will help every marriage:

  1. Focus on God for your guidance, answers and strength
  2. Pray together
  3. Communicate constantly
  4. Honor your commitment to your spouse by loving and respecting them no matter what
  5. Have fun

Marriage can be a lot of fun.  It can be so rewarding.  You have your best friend right next to you to do life with.  But I think the most important component is commitment.  100% commitment from both sides.

Being Accountable in Marriage

Accountability is a very important aspect of being a follower of Christ.  The Bible calls us to be held accountable by those close to us and those we trust.  Those people that have our best interest at heart. It’s a very important task that we should only give to those who will, in fact, hold us accountable. 

Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 says: “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor.  For if they fall, one will lift up his companion.”

We need those people in our lives, that will hold us up, and hold us accountable to the Word of God.  If we try to follow Christ on our own, we will surely fail.  We cannot grow or learn in a vacuum. 

My marriage is the most important relationship in my life, besides my relationship with God.  And I believe that my husband and I need to hold each other accountable.  Not only do we need people outside of our marriages to help us with this, but we should start with each other.

When my husband and I got married, I bought the Family Life Marriage Bible, authored by Barbara and Dennis Rainey.  It’s a great Bible with devotions specific to marriage and parenting.  I love it.  We try to reference it often.

One of the devotions talks about this very issue, accountability in marriage.  Here is an excerpt from this devotion on the areas of accountability that the authors feel we need to focus on:

  1.  Spiritual Health.  In order to remain on track, every marriage must involve daily communication with and dependence on God.  Most of us are prone to laziness or distraction in the daily maintenance of our spiritual needs.  A loving spouse who has permission to encourage us in our devotion to Christ can help by asking open-ended questions such as “What has God been teaching you lately?”
  2. Emotional and sexual fidelity. This is a potentially sensitive but critical area in any Christian marriage.  The way in which you handle the issues of temptation and moral struggles will largely chart the course for your relationship.  Neither you nor your spouse can risk opening the door to inappropriate intimacy with someone of the opposite sex, and/or coming in contact with any inappropriate materials or media.  Be open and honest about temptations that you are struggling with.
  3. Schedules. Always try to help each other make good decisions by monitoring each other’s workload and schedules.  Making good decisions means saying yes to some good things and no to others.  Schedules are ultimately a statement of our true priorities.
  4. Money and values. Sometimes nothing can create the need for accountability more than the checkbook!  We need to be accountable to each other on what we are spending our money on and what major money decisions we are making. 
  5. Parenting practice.  Interact and sharpen each other with your parenting styles.  We all tend to draw on the parenting techniques modeled for us by our parents.  When you notice a good, or bad tendency, encourage your spouse in love, and help them improve.
  6. No secrets.  Secrets are one of Satan’s primary tools to divide couples.  Accountability between husband and wife is a superb way to keep them from messing with your marriage.

One of the greatest challenges to any marriage is the access we give one another to our lives on a daily basis.  Accountability is an honest, practical submission of your life to your spouse that says, “I have no secrets that I will withhold from you.”

Plastic Pearls

We had a guest speaker yesterday at church.  His name was Joe White and he and his wife, Debbie Jo, own the Kanakuk Kamps in Missouri.   They have 9 different Christian sport Kamps for kids, mainly high school age.   He told us about some of the kids he works with and how so many of their lives have been transformed through Christ.  He even shared his own story, and how he is facing cancer right now, but he trusts God with everything he has.  He is an incredibly inspirational person.

He told a story about a little girl who really wanted some pearls.  So she decided she would make her own pearl necklace with some plastic pearls.  She bought some plastic pearls and some string, and she strung them into a pretty necklace that she wore everyday.  She loved this necklace so much. 

On her birthday, her father came into her room and said “Do you trust me?”  She said “Yes, of course I do”, then he said…then give me that pearl necklace.  She said “Daddy!  Why do you want my necklace?  I can’t give it to you”.  So the next year on her birthday, he did the same thing.  Figuring she was a year older and may respond differently.  He came into her room and asked her again…”Do you trust me?”  “Yes, Dad, of course” she said.  So he proceeded to ask her again for the necklace.  She asked him why he was doing this to her, that was her favorite necklace and she couldn’t give it up.  She held onto it and was very upset that he would ask for it again. 

The next year, hoping she would now trust him, he did the same thing on her birthday.  He asked once again if she trusted him, she said yes.  Then he asked again for her to give up the pearls to him.  She finally decided to do it, she said…”Dad, I do trust you, and I guess if you need me to give these to you, then I will trust you and do it”.  See the father had gotten a second job a few years ago and saved up enough money to buy her a pair of real cultured pearls.  He was saving them for when she would trust him enough to give him the plastic pearls.

Once she handed over those plastic pearls, her dad reached into his pocket and handed her the real cultured pearls. 

What an incredible analogy, don’t you think?  As he told us this story, he asked us to get out the pearls we were given when we walked in the door.  (They had handed each of us a plastic pearl as we were walking in).  He told us that just like this little girl, we all hold onto something artificial. Something we can’t let go of, that we THINK brings us happiness.  But if we turn it over to God, he will bring us true joy….like we have never known. It will be the REAL thing. 

Joe asked each of us to stop and think about what our “plastic pearl” is, what it is we are holding so tightly to, and can’t let go of.  What is it that we think gives us happiness, but it’s not the real thing.  What do we need to hand over to God?  Then he asked us to come up to the stage, and throw our pearl onto the stage, to signify that we are letting go of our “plastic pearls”, and handing them over to God on the altar. 

It was one of the most powerful messages I’ve ever heard.

“Empty Me” by Chris Sligh

If you are an American Idol fan like I am, you remember Chris Sligh from a few seasons ago.  He was really good, but didn’t make it to the finals.   He has a new single out right now, called “Empty Me”.  I love this song.  He has such a great voice, and this is a great message for all of us.  Here is a video of him singing it live, and below that I have the lyrics.  I want to begin using these lyrics as a prayer, and pray them daily to God. 

I’ve had just enough of the spotlight when it burns bright
To see how it gets in the blood.
And I’ve tasted my share of the sweet life and the wild ride
And found a little is not quite enough.
I know how I can stray
And how fast my heart could change.

Empty me of the selfishness inside
Every vain ambition and the poison of my pride
And any foolish thing my heart holds to
Lord empty me of me so I can be filled with you.

I’ve had just enough of the quick bites of the best lies
To know how prodigals can be drawn away.
I know how I can stray
And how fast my heart could change.

Empty me of the selfishness inside
Every vain ambition and the poison of my pride
And any foolish thing my heart holds to
Lord empty me of me so I can be filled with you.

Cause everything is a lesser thing
Compared to you, compared to you.
Cause everything is a lesser thing
Compared to you. So, I surrender all!

Empty me of the selfishness inside
Every vain ambition and the poison of my pride
Empty me of the selfishness inside
Every vain ambition and the poison of my pride
And any foolish thing my heart holds to
Lord empty me of me so I can be
Lord empty me of me so I can be filled with you.
Oh, filled with you.
Empty me.

Relevant Magazine

I was working with a client recently, and as we were clearing off her dining room table (which wasn’t being used for dining), and we found a copy of Relevant Magazine.  I had never see it, nor heard of it.   The tag line under the title of the magazine says: God. Life. Progressive Culture.  I was intrigued.

When I got home that day I looked up their website, and was very impressed.  They have a feature where you can look at the entire current issue on line.  Very cool.  So, I did.  And I liked what I saw.  I told my husband about it and showed him the site, and we have now subscribed.  We do not have our first copy yet, but it is on its way.

They talk about issues that are….well, relevant.  So it’s a great name.  They cover lots of music related news, interviews with bands, articles on current issues, entertainment, churches, missions, cultures, etc.  It seems like a very interesting magazine.  I knew my husband would be interested because he has a music related business, and he is the biggest music lover I know.  And he, like me, is an even bigger fan of God…so, it made sense to see what this magazine was all about.

I, personally, sometimes struggle with how much music and entertainment we should allow ourselves to watch, listen to, and read.  There is so much out there that can clog our brains with information that is not helpful at all, and can even be damaging.   But it seems this magazine addresses those issues and concerns, and will hopefully give me a better idea of who’s music and movies I should be paying more attention to, an vice versa.

I’ll let you know our review of the first issue when we recieve in the next few weeks. 

Here is their site, if you want to check it out:

http://www.relevantmagazine.com/

Relevant Magazine

Getting Rid of Clutter

As a Professional Organizer I help people get rid of clutter.    And I love going through my own house and getting rid of things we no longer use.  I think my husband is a little nervous that he may come home one day and I will have given away or sold everything but our bed. 

I just do not see any need to keep things that we do not use, love, or reference.  Clearing our lives of clutter, and stuff we don’t use, is so important! 

If we have a lot of “stuff”, then its easier for us to focus on the stuff and give it more importance than it deserves.  Jesus teaches us this about our money and our stuff….”Wherever your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”  Matthew 6:21.  That is so true.  If we get more and more “stuff”, then we just want more, don’t we?  Would it ever be enough?  I don’t think so.  I don’t know many people who have acquired a lot of “things” that would say…”I’ve got enough now, I’m done buying anything new”. 

No, the fascination with “stuff” is that you only want more and more stuff.  It can take over.  And believe me when I say….it really can take over!  I’ve seen it.  I’ve seen people with so much stuff they don’t know what to do with it.  It has taken over their homes and their lives.  It’s sad.  They’ve allowed the stuff to take over their focus.  And now they are overwhelmed because they have too much of it and don’t know what to do with it.  Also, when you have  a lot of stuff, you spend a LOT of time working around it, moving it, cleaning it, rearranging it, putting it back, and digging through it looking for something else.  It’s a lot of work.

Now think for a moment about that.  If they’ve put their treasure into all their “stuff”, and it has become overwhelming….then their heart is overwhelmed too.  There is not a sense of peace within their hearts.  If on the other hand, they put all of their energy into God, do you think they would still feel overwhelmed?  Do you think we can somehow get too much of God?  No way.  That could never happened….more of God only brings more peace and joy.  Wow, sign me up!

Take a look around at all your “stuff” and really think about what it adds to your life.  Slowly start giving things away, and see how you feel.   I’m addicted to cleaning out.   My goal is to live simply.  To live with only those things I use, love or reference regularly.  That’s it.  Then I am free to spend more time focused on what really matters…God, my husband, my kids, and the interests God has given me.

Being Me

Do you ever wish you were more like someone else?   Maybe they are more patient than you are, or they speak better than you do, or maybe they cook better than you do.  Man, if we could only be better at whatever it is, and be more like that person. 

But God never intended you to be like anyone else.  He would’ve made you like them if he did.  He has the power to do that.  No, he created you JUST as you are, for a reason.  You have your own list of strengths and talents.  You have a unique personality that he designed just for you.   And he wants you to use all the things he gave you, to glorify Him. 

If you have children, think about your kids for a second.  If they come home from school and say how much they wish they were like so-and-so, doesn’t that make you sad?  You tell them,  “No, honey…you don’t need to be like anyone else, you are so special just the way you are!”  Then you may go onto list for them all the great things about them. You would never want them to want to be someone else.  You want them to be proud of who they are and flourish within their own strengths and abilities, right?    And what if you gave your child one of the best gifts ever, something that others would envy, and once you gave it to them….they just never even picked it up, looked at it, or used it in any way.  Would’nt you be disappointed….?

Well…God feels the same way about us!  Remember, God doesn’ t make mistakes.  He has given you gifts he wants you to USE!  And you are, the way you are ,for a reason.   Find out what it is…

What do yo LOVE to do?  What things are easy for you to do?  What do people tell you that you are good at?  Maybe you should do more of these things.   Maybe give it a try this week, or this month.  Enjoy who you are, and how God made you.  And use all the gifts he gave you!

Our Thoughts

Over the summer I took a Bible Study called “Me, Myself and Lies” by Jennifer Rothschild. It was a study focused on our thoughts and how easily they can become negative about ourselves. We tend to be our toughest critics.

Through the study she reminds us of how God sees us, and references many places in the Bible to support this. She has us write our negative thoughts and then compare that to what God thinks of us.

It was a great study, it tought me to stop the negative thoughts before they start and to remind myself of how God sees me.

I think this goes along with fear. Whe we let fear and doubt about ourselves get in the way, we are keeping ourselves from growing. We are blocking God from all the wonderful things he has in store for us!

Start today by paying more attention to what you say to yourself…is it what God would say to you?

The Effects of Fear

Reading the book “Fearless” by Max Lucado really made me stop and think about how much fear affects me, everyday. It affects all of us. Even when we don’t even realize it. Fear is sneaky and persistent. Just when you think you are making the right decision, you realize fear is right there in the midst of the decision making process. You realize it just took over the whole process and made the decision for you.

One thing I do on occasion, is ask myself….if I had no fear at all, what decision would I make? I can almost say that all of my decisions are swayed by fear. And the Bible tells us “do not fear” more than any other command. Do you think it could possibly be because God really knows us? He knows we need to be reminded…oh, about every other minute….to not let fear get in our way. He never intended for us to feel fear or to be held back by fear.

If Jesus commanded us to not be fearful, why can’t we listen? Why is it so prevalent in our lives? Maybe because we let it?

I want to propose a challenge to you, and I will be doing it with you. For one week, stop and think about every decision you are making and ask yourself if you would come to a different conclusion if you took fear out of the equation. If you would, then do it. Make the decision you would make without fear. Isn’t that what Jesus commanded us to do anyway? I don’t know about you, but I’m going to choose to listen to Jesus. Even with all of the things he faced, he did not let fear stop him in any way. Now, you could say that it was easier for him because he knew heaven already and he knew God’s abilities and his ultimate love for us. Well, isn’t that an inspiration to us? If he knew those things first hand, and wasn’t fearful…why should we be?

Look back over your life the past 10 years and I bet y0u could come up with at least 5 big decisions that were based on fear, and at least 2-3 of them held you back from something you love. Let’s stop that cycle….God never intended for us to hold ourselves back!

Start today and stop and ponder your decisions….take a look at what role fear is playing. Tell fear to take a hike and see what happens

I once had a mentor that told me to do something that scared me, everyday! What a thought. That will be our next goal…but for now, try your hardest to take fear out of your decision making. Don’t invite it to the meeting….only invite hope, peace, faith and trust!

“Fearless” by Max Lucado

I just finished reading “Fearless” by Max Lucado. I loved it.

What a great word. Fearless. If only we all were…….fearless. This book is another wonderful, well-written book by Max Lucado. I’ve read about 4-5 of his books and this one is my favorite. It probably helps that this is such a great subject, one that most of us are struggling with on a daily, even hourly basis right now. God has great timing.

Max’s style of writing is so easy to read. He gives so many good analogies, stories, and quotes to support his points. He also becomes very transparent at times, which only makes him more relatable. In this book, we are reminded over and over, that if we just focus on God, our fears will subside. We were never intended to have fear.

I will be ordering a few extra copies of this book to give to friends and family. It is a great book with excellent scriptures to drive home what God wants us to remember. Max allowed God to speak so eloquently through him in this book.

Everyone should read this book….do not let fear hold you back from the life God intended for you to live!