Guest post on Marriage

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I had the honor of writing a guest blog post for Mrs. Lo Tanner for her With Purpose Blogging Event.  Unfortunately, I have been sick quite a bit this month and missed the boat in promoting this here when it first came out.

I pray you will oblige me and go Check it out!

If you are married or are engaged to be married, there is wisdom and tips from 20+ years of doing life with my husband.  Enjoy!

Our presence, not presents…is required

So this is Christmas…hustle, bustle, scurry, hurry.  Work parties, church parties, your friend’s annual party.  Children’s school concerts, plays, dance recitals, oh my!

And then there are the presents to buy.  Who goes on the list?  What will the family budget for gifts be? Should I participate in the work gift exchange?  Church white elephant? Do I do cards this year?  I didn’t really get any last year.

It’s stressful!  And while much of it is and can be fun…it does not hold the real meaning of Christmas and the focus of fellowship and worship that this season should hold.

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Instead of getting so wrapped up in wrapping all those gifts, just stop.  Stop and remember all those Christmases past…memories of loved ones who have entered into the sweet reward of heaven.  Memories of the joy of being with family and friends as a child.  Conversations around the Christmas tree, the kitchen, the backyard swing.  Candlelit service singing “Joy to the World”.
There…do you see it now?  There is Christmas!  It is Jesus, not Jingle Bells.  It is people, not presents.
 
This year, let the joy of the best gift ever fill you up.  Let the companionship of friends and family gathered around be enough.  And if presents are involved, great…but just don’t forget to bring the most important thing…your presence.

Thankfulness in a season of drought

When we think of being thankful, I feel most of us gravitate to those things that make us happy, bring us joy or give us peace.  It’s only natural to do so.
 
But what about when life is coming at you hard and fast and you feel like you cannot catch a break?  What about when you are tired and worn from fighting the good fight?  What about when you have lost everything you thought mattered in this world?
 
Are you still thankful?
 
Praising Jesus when everything is rosy is easy.  Praising Him when the storm is raging.  Well, that’s not something we are naturally wired to do.
 
To praise Him when everything looks bleak, is to find that deep joy and contentment He promises to us…the peace that passes all our understanding.
 
Doing that means you have to be close to Him…in His word on a regular basis to know His promises and to claim them as your own.  Praying regularly, so you hear His voice and know it.  
 
Fully resting on faith in Him.
Thankfulness in a season of drought makes the harvest time even richer!
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12 Ways to Serve your Community and Give Back All Year

I love this time of year!  Cooler weather (well, for everyone but us here in Florida!), beautiful leaves (again, for everyone except Florida), and Hallmark Christmas movie time!!
 
The holiday season that begins with Thanksgiving is one of the joys of the year for me.  I truly love all the baking, cooking and serving food to those I love.  I enjoy the smells of the holidays, the cinnamon, cloves, oranges, and allspice.  The eventual Christmas tree smells that come with a beautiful, big live tree in the house.
 
And the opportunity to serve others through giving of food to local food banks, delivering toys for needy children, packing a shoebox for Operation Christmas Child or donating in the little red buckets for Salvation Army.
 
I love all of it.  And it starts next Thursday!!
 
Thanksgiving. One day a year where we all stuff ourselves as full as the turkey that was baked, watch football, and take naps.
 
Wait, what?  That is not really what it is all about is it? 
 
I know I briefly gave lip service to the opportunities available this time of year to serve.  BUT…shouldn’t we be looking for those opportunities all year long?
 
Jesus came to serve…his model was to teach us how to serve others.
 
How well are we modeling that back to the community around us?  Do they see Jesus when they see us?
 
Or do they see a bunch of church-goers, who talk the faith on Sunday, but don’t walk it the rest of the week?
 
If Jesus served…how much more so should we continuously look for ways to do the same.
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Start a tradition this Thanksgiving.  When you ask for things your family is thankful for…ask for ways you all can serve your community better.
 
Create a list of practical ideas…one for each month of the year.  This makes it doable and not overwhelming.  They don’t have to be big things either.  Here are some ideas to get you started:
12 Ways to Serve your Community and Give Back All Year
  1. Pick up trash in a neighborhood park.
  2. Spend an hour putting shopping carts away at a busy shopping center.
  3. Pay for someone’s breakfast/lunch in the drive thru.
  4. Walk dogs at a local shelter.
  5. Serve food at a local food bank.
  6. Have your kids make “Have a happy day” cards for a local nursing home and deliver them.
  7. Offer to wash the neighbor’s cars.
  8. Babysit for a busy couple who rarely gets a date night.
  9. Make holiday cards to send to our troops overseas.
  10. Gather books and unused school supplies to donate to a library or local school.
  11. Have an elderly neighbor or otherwise home-bound neighbor (think new moms or someone dealing with prolonged illness)…volunteer to run errands for them or mow their lawn.
  12. Skip the daily lattes for a month and donate that money to a charity of the families’ choice.

Being the hands and feet of Jesus is a richly rewarding experience.  As the saying goes “Be blessed to be a blessing!”

Do you know how to Fight Right?

In a marriage you need to know how to fight well!  Not throwing punches and knocking someone out…but fighting for one another…fighting for common ground and goals.  Fighting to be a Kingdom Couple as Dr. Tony Evans says.

So what does that look like?  Well, first of all, you each have to be operating in your proper roles.  Submitting in proper alignment with God’s headship will allow you to move purposefully together to fulfill God’s plan through the two of you.  If your roles are out of order, then your house will be in chaos!

Think about it…every time Israel experienced trials and troubles in the Bible it was because they were out of alignment! They chose their way over God’s way…they chose to go after worldly pursuits, things that were easier in their minds than keeping the commandments of God.

By no means an exhaustive list, however, here are a few verses of reference for Israel’s disobedience: Jeremiah 2:1-9; Ezekiel 20:1-13; 2 Kings 17:16
When Israel got out of order God’s blessings stopped.  He burned in anger against them.  He was disappointed in them.  He could not move on their behalf as they were no longer operating according to His will.
Yet every single time they unified and pursued God as He had been pursuing them…their circumstances did a 360. Their world turned back around.
Verses where Israel turned back to God:  1 Kings 18:37; 2 Chronicles 30:9; 2 Chronicles 15:12

If God can be patient with us wayward, broken, bull-headed children…shouldn’t we be patient too with one another?  With this in mind let’s consider these tips on fighting well in our marriages:  

1)     Lay down your pride…give up being right and instead do what is right.
2)     Listen more than you speak.  Listen with intent on understanding NOT on responding.
3)     Seek to use words that are encouraging and affirming…build up, don’t tear down.
4)     Hit pause.  Sometimes you have to come back to a situation; you cannot settle it in one sitting.  So don’t force it!
5)     PRAY!  Seek God’s wisdom as you work to settle the argument.
In every interaction with your spouse, especially when there is a conflict, think about how to apply Biblical principles in seeking restoration.  Don’t look at how the world would approach the situation!  Worldly wisdom will lead to further discord every single time. 
The world says you have to prove your point…that you have a “right” to be angry…that you are an “independent woman” and you “don’t need no man telling you what to do”.  These are all dangerous vantage points to argue from!
Marriage is a sacred, binding covenant with our God.  He holds it in high regard and so should we!  

Our vows were serious to us the day we married, they should be even more serious to us as the years go by.
The goal is to get back on the same page…to walk in unity together.  Oneness of purpose.  When you seek to come back together as one, you won’t allow others to speak negativity into your situation.  

You will keep your eyes focused on the one who is over it all.  That is how you overcome adversity in anything…especially in marriage!
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Listed below are some helpful resources.  I do not earn any money from these sources, just wanted to provide you with a starting point if you are seeking help for your marriage in any way.Kingdom Marriage by Dr. Tony Evans

Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas
Fierce Marriage by Ryan & Selena Frederick