Thursday, December 27, 2012

How to Make Your Marriage Work

Let me start by saying that this post is only for those who want or think that they might want it to work. If you have decided in your heart that you are done and that your marriage is not worth fighting for anymore than you will not find much support through what I write. I do not judge you because there were times that I had been there, but I do encourage you to leave just a little room for the possibility and to seek counseling. The fact is even if you do get a divorce you will continue to carry the baggage of a torn marriage around with you until you have resolved it and begun processing it. Again, if you choose to get a divorce I wish you all the best in your life but this post is not meant for you. 

When making a marriage work you can start by thinking of it as a war for your marriage instead of a fight. What do I mean about that? There are going to be battles, some that you win and some that you lose, but you can't just surrender at the the defeats. When you start a war you have to have a military plan.You need to know what you are fighting for, what damages you expect, and who your allies are. Allies would be pastors, counselors, and other spiritual leaders. You need soldiers to fight with you who understand your goal. They fight with you through all the battles and they give you emotional support when you feel like putting up the white flag. Real soldiers do not sabotage you. Like wars, patience is key. There is no way to know how long it will last. 

If you are at this point you may have been facing loneliness, abuse, addictions, infidelity, loss of identity, and hopelessness. All of these things deserve to be addressed. 

I wanted to start by discussing loneliness. One of the hardest things I faced was not being lonely in general but was being lonely in a marriage. It can make you feel like a caged bird, one that longs for freedom but is stuck all alone. I wanted to address loneliness first because of the risk of future harm to your marriage. When there is trouble in a marriage it is important to not confide in any males that you are not related to. Even with the best of intentions, a friendship can quickly escalate to an emotional attachment. When you feel lonely and unloved by your husband, it can be easy to allow yourself to listen to a male who is willing to listen to you and support you. Even if the emotional attachment never turns to more, any time you go to another male for that attachment and not your spouse it can cause a further drift in your marriage. This is why it is very important to learn the importance of some good female Christian  fellowship.

Three things that most people consider deal breakers are abuse, addiction, and infidelity. If you have had to face any of these issues, I am so sorry. These can tear down your confidence. They can make you lose trust in people. I believe that a couple can move past these hurts and still have a very healthy marriage but it takes a lot of work, love, and forgiveness. I truly believe in God's strength and power when He is put at the center of a marriage. While I believe in working through these issues, I also believe in healthy boundaries. You can love a person and still not allow their actions to affect you. It is important that if you are in danger, you need to separate yourself from the person. You can continue to love them by not enabling their behavior, by taking the time separated to connect with God, and by remaining in prayer for them. I think of this as loving from a distance. Boundaries is a great book that teaches about Godly boundaries. 

When struggling in a marriage you can face loss of identity. I remember this vividly. I feel like I went from Faith to just being Alvin's wife and Abbie's mom. I placed all of my confidence and identity in my spouse instead of in the Lord. When I began to see a change in my marriage is when I began to pray that I would find fulfillment in God and not in my spouse. I realized that if I could be fulfilled in God then any love my spouse gave me would just be overflow. The only person we can change is ourselves. 

There is no way for us to create hope... hope only comes from God and knowing His promises. We have to know that God would not lead us astray. If you place God at the center of you life and your marriage, He will give you the wisdom and strength you need to make it through. 

When speaking to others about the struggles in marriage, one common theme I hear is, "Why should I fight (change... go to counseling) if they aren't willing to fight (change... go to counseling) for me?" This can be a tough question to answer. How often did God fight for me, when I was not willing to fight for Him? How often did He love and forgive me when I was angry and sinful towards Him? I am just so thankful to God that through out the many struggles in my marriage we never both gave up fighting at the same time.... there was always one of us fighting. I know that it was God who carried us through those times. I am amazed to see the couple God is changing us into. 

God can heal your marriage, but you have to be willing to let Him. Seek godly wisdom and counsel. Set up godly boundaries for yourself and your spouse. Lose yourself in God because that is where you will find fulfillment. Pray for your spouse. Hope comes from God alone. 

Romans 5:10 "For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!"

Warren Barfield- Love is Not a Fight


Love is not a place

To come and go as we please
It's a house we enter in
Then commit to never leave

So lock the door behind you
Throw away the key
We'll work it out together
Let it bring us to our knees

Chorus:
Love is a shelter in a raging storm
Love is peace in the middle of a war
And if we try to leave, may God send angels to guard the door
No, love is not a fight but it's something worth fighting for

To some, love is a word
That they can fall into
But when they're falling out
Keeping that word is hard to do

Chorus:
Love is a shelter in a raging storm
Love is peace in the middle of a war
And if we try to leave, may God send angels to guard the door
No, love is not a fight but it's something worth fighting for

Love will come to save us
If we'll only call
He will ask nothing from us
But demand we give our all

Chorus:
Love is a shelter in a raging storm
Love is peace in the middle of a war
And if we try to leave, may God send angels to guard the door
No, love is not a fight but it's something worth fighting for

I will fight for you
Would you fight for me?
It's worth fighting for

Monday, December 10, 2012

What is Christmas Really About?

Finding the meaning of Christmas can be difficult when society views the meaning of Christmas as a very materialistic day. Christmas has become about fairy tales, music, baking, family, and presents. I am not saying that any of those things are terrible but when the purpose for celebrating is forgotten what is the rest really worth? So many people have become like those acquaintances who send you birthday wishes on Facebook not because they remembered your birthday but because they saw it posted and saw that everyone else was writing on your wall. They were being kind and were jumping on the band wagon out of convenience not out of true care. I don't want to be an acquaintance of God, I want to be a friend of God or even better yet a child of God. I want to celebrate the birth of Jesus because I have a relationship with Him and am thankful for Him. 



As I have been reading through the scriptures that tell of the birth of Jesus I have been a little convicted, sad, and thankful. I wonder if I would have responded the same way as those who are spoken of. 

If I were Mary... I would have felt so overwhelmed. I would have felt completely anxious. Having just recently found out that I am pregnant again I am already anxious on how prepared I am. I worry for the child's safety. I would have been embarrassed. I remember the deep shame I felt when pregnant with Abbie my senior year. I remember the cruel glares from judgmental people. Even if I were a virgin when being impregnated by the Holy Spirit, I would have been concerned about what others thought and said. To be honest, I would have complained a lot during the long journey to Bethlehem. I complain often now even in my much less difficult circumstances.  

If I were Joseph... When I think that someone has wronged and embarrassed me how do I handle it? Part of me wants to declare my self as a victim. At heart I would want the person to suffer, even before trying to hear them out. 

If I were Zechariah... I would have totally put my foot in my mouth and would have probably would have doubted what the angel would have told me. Even in knowing God's goodness and His power, I often lead with fear and doubt. God has provided for us faithfully through the years, and yet when I get an unexpected bill my heart stops and I become filled with anxiety. I immediately wonder how we will make it by, as if I had already forgotten all that God has and is doing. 

Even though reflecting on how fallen and imperfect I am, I see how wonderful and amazing God is. I feel this way because Jesus came to the earth to die for the sins of the fallen and imperfect, and that is the true meaning of Christmas. It is the story of God sending His son in the form of a frail baby to show His love and grace to us through His son growing, teaching us, pointing the way back to God, and dying on the cross for our sins. Then showing God's majesty and power by rising from the dead. So while fairytales, music, baking, family, and presents might be nice there would be no Christmas without Christ. 

One of my friends had posted The True Christmas Story on her facebook page. It goes through the list of scriptures for the story of the birth of Christ. I wanted to share with you all the verses, so below are the verses in order so that you can read it and share with those who you love. 


A Savior King Is Promised 

Isaiah 7:14
 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.

Isaiah 9:6-7
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end.He will reign on David’s throne  and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever.The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.

Jeremiah 23:5 
“The days are coming,” declares the Lord,“when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land.

Micah 5:2-5
“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,

    though you are small among the clans of Judah,
out of you will come for me
    one who will be ruler over Israel,
whose origins are from of old,
    from ancient times.”
Therefore Israel will be abandoned

    until the time when she who is in labor bears a son,
and the rest of his brothers return
    to join the Israelites.

He will stand and shepherd his flock

    in the strength of the Lord,
    in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God.
And they will live securely, for then his greatness
    will reach to the ends of the earth.

And he will be our peace

    when the Assyrians invade our land
    and march through our fortresses.
We will raise against them seven shepherds,
    even eight commanders,


The Angel Visits Mary

Luke 1:26-28 
In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee,  to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”
 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God.  You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus.  He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”
 “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”
 The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.  Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month.  For no word from God will ever fail.”
 “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.


The Angel Visits Joseph

Matthew 1:18-25

Joseph Accepts Jesus as His Son

 This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit.  Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.
But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.  She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”
 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet:  “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).
 When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.


The Trip to Bethlehem and Stable Lodging

Luke 2:1-7 

The Birth of Jesus

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register.
 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.


The Christ Child is Born

Luke 2:6-7 
While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

Angels Visit the Shepherds

Luke 2:8-14 

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.  An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
    and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”


The Shepherd Visit the Manger

Luke 2:15-18


When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.


The Wise Men Travel to Jerusalem

Matthew 2:1-8

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem  and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews?We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”
 When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him.  When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born.  “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written:
 “‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
    are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for out of you will come a ruler
    who will shepherd my people Israel.’”
 Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.”


The Wise Men Worship the Christ Child

Matthew 2:9-12
After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was.  When they saw the star, they were overjoyed.  On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.

The Trip to Egypt

Matthew 2:13-15 

The Escape to Egypt

When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.”
 So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt,  where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: “Out of Egypt I called my son.”



God Bless,
Faith