power of a woman

Nagging

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… the contentions of a wife are a continual dripping.

… better to dwell in a corner of the housetop [on the flat oriental roof, exposed to all kinds of weather] than in a house shared with a nagging, quarrelsome, and faultfinding woman.

… better to dwell in a desert land than with a contentious woman and with vexation.

… better to dwell in the corner of the housetop than to share a house with a disagreeing, quarrelsome, and scolding woman.

True, it’s hard to hear, but God told us for a reason.  I’m guessing it does more damage than we realize.  Nagging is hurtful to your husband’s ears and toxic to your marriage.  And probably doesn’t make God too happy either.

~   Let’s not be like that   ~

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Desire to please

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A guaranteed way to get into my heart is to treat my kids well … or even my dogs.  People are especially drawn to you when you value what they love.

Special treatment of who I love endears you to me.

When I value people who God’s chosen, I show that I love Him.  Treating any of His kids, a brother or a husband, poorly doesn’t endear me to God. Instead, it draws His corrective eye.

Parents in the natural, siblings in the supernatural

As a parent when one of my kids mistreats their sibling in retaliation, especially when the offending sibling is not mature or is not emotionally strong, it shows me that child is lacking in something.  I don’t think any parent – including God – wants to see their kids exacting revenge on each other.

And, being made in God’s image, it makes sense that our parenting outcomes would be similar to His – we want our kids to grow up and do well.  We want them to do right, to others and to do right, for themselves.  In our marriage, God is the Father of us both, a son and a daughter, and He wants both His kids to grow up and do well – for ourselves and to each other.  But if my brother sins against me and I choose to not reflect Christ in my response (Rom 8:29) I will draw God’s parenting corrective eye rather than endearing myself to Him and making Him proud of me.

Choose – think – act

As soon as my marriage became truly about God, a spark was ignited which fueled my desire to be a better wife. It seemed to be a very natural progression, a win/win.  I’m not saying it was an effortless progression, we’re still required to flesh out things in our lives, but at least now, I could see the plan.  It’s similar to getting healthy. Just reading about working out and proper nutrition won’t make you healthy.  You need to first have the desire, then get the knowledge, and finally, fulfill the activity of the knowledge – it’s still going to be work even though you can see the direction you’re going.

In this example, I’m after the corollary of good health and activity:  A lean(er) fit body.

I’m betting since you read Upwithmarriage, you already have God at the center of your life and He was probably a part of your wedding day. But has He been moved to the hub that your role as a wife rides on in the marriage?

Once God occupies that position, you will naturally choose better thoughts.  With better thoughts, you automatically speak better words.  My desire to please God – better thoughts – better words – better treatment of my husband – God’s pleased.  It starts and ends with God but our proof is in the middle.

Flesh or Spirit

It always comes down to that fight inside of us, doesn’t it?  Am I going to position myself in that hub or am I going to willingly let God have it?  I found out, He won’t fight you for it – He doesn’t work that way.  Just like your choice to accept Jesus Christ for your life, you have to willingly hand over the position, over and over again.

The question we have to continually ask is:  Which desire is stronger?  The desire to get our own way by doing it our own way – to please the flesh.  Or the desire to do it God’s way by following Christ’s way – to please the Spirit.

My counsel is this: Live freely, animated and motivated by God’s Spirit. Then you won’t feed the compulsions of selfishness. For there is a root of sinful self-interest in us that is at odds with a free spirit, just as the free spirit is incompatible with selfishness. These two ways of life are antithetical, so that you cannot live at times one way and at times another way according to how you feel on any given day.  –Paul to the Galatians

I recently attended a webinar from Jeff Goins.  He had lots of great information, but it was a question he asked at the beginning that resonated with me for marriage:  “Are you looking for an excuse, or are you looking for success?  Because you’ll find whichever one you are looking for.”

As long as I was determined to have Darrell’s problems always be the excuse, our marriage was moving in the direction of failure.  But when I set my sights on God for my success as a wife, the direction of our marriage changed to success.

The truth is, whether you think positive or negative about your husband, either way you are right.  Don’t underestimate the effect you have on him – it’s profound in ways you can’t imagine.

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POSSESSION (Part 2) Civil War Instead of Unity

You can find the introduction to the Possession Series here.

Isn’t it amazing how something can start out right and end up so wrong?  When the whole nation of Israel walked away from their captors into freedom, it seemed like the hard work was behind them.  But according to God’s plan, the work was just beginning.  As they journeyed through the wilderness they were a unit of one.  Up until now God had done it all. Up until now their oneness was assumed.  But things were about to change.  They would begin the work of possessing their own land.  Their oneness was about to be tested by their enemies.

Faith unites, fear divides

The Israelites were shown the good and the bad of this project.  Their enemies were threatening but God meant for this intimidation to unite them in their quest to conquer and possess the land He had given them: their  land.  Instead of being empowered by faith, they chose fear, and everyone except Joshua and Caleb saw only obstacles and none of the promise.  By focusing on the problems, these leaders played right into Satan’s sphere of fear and took down all the people with them!

Fear led the whole nation in the complete opposite direction of what God had said, “Scout it!  Conquer and possess it!”  They chose the advice of the majority  instead of obeying Joshua and Caleb, who were telling them what they already knew, “God is able!”

Satan got the dissension that he set out to achieve:  division among the nation based on fear.  Even though God had taken steps to show them the goodness and blessings before they began, they didn’t start out with the end in mind.

United in faith

There is a huge correlation here to our marriages.  We start out so right:  A wedding.  A celebration of Oneness and a promise of hope and faith.  But then life begins to happen, unity is stressed and tested and we turn against each other.  The natural contrast between male and female – which God intended to unite us as powerful allies against our common enemy – is turned inward towards each other.  Our focus is wrong:  We try to possess the wrong thing and use the wrong weapons against the wrong enemy.  We are blinded to the blessing that comes with the original purpose of marriage.

Satan’s strategy of negative focus in marriage will yield the same results as it did for the nation of Israel:   infighting to division.  Negative thoughts get stuck in our minds as we focus on difficulties.  Soon we think all the problems in our marriage are giant sized and unconquerable, even by God.  As our focus narrows into singular concentration, every little offence (real or imagined) is magnified into an impasse.  And Satan slips through the crack that we’ve opened and whispers:

  • “he always does this”
  • “this marriage will never change”
  • “there is no other choice
  • “there is no way this marriage can last”
  • “this is just impossible to live with”
  • “this just is not fair
  • “this is not right

Focusing on these obstacles causes them to grow, in our reality, turning them into mythic giants.  Soon the vision of your husband gets corrupted, which leads to a view of hopelessness in the marriage.  Losing sight of the blessing is a scary place to be, but the saddest part is that fear has replaced your faith in God’s power of healing and restoration.

Fear always begins in the mind. The heart ruminates on thoughts and finally gives birth to actions.  Can you see it?  It is exactly the same technique that Satan used with the Israelites!  It is a scare tactic meant to keep us away from our blessing.

Level headed faith

There probably is some unfairness in your marriage and probably some character traits or habits that are hard to live with.  Both of you are broken people living in a broken world; broken people are hurt and hurting people hurt others.

Don’t deny the obstacles that are obviously present, or the tribulations that come with an offence.  Rather, let faith lead your focus to the truth that overcomes obstacles.  Faith will encourage you to say, “I will go at once and possess my marriage of milk and honey, for I am well able to conquer any obstacle” (paraphrased for application).  Faith like Caleb’s enables us to look past the obstacles without denying their reality.  He didn’t disagree with anything that the scouts said.  He didn’t try to explain away any of the obstacles, argue the truth about their size, or deny that they existed.  He simply responded with truth:  Let us go up at once and possess it; we are well able to conquer it.

You already have been given a marriage of milk and honey. All that is needed is possession.

Wrap up

Is someone saying your husband is not good? (that’s a giant)  Is someone saying you have to leave your marriage because you have no other choice? (that’s a giant)  Or are they saying that your current situation is impossible to live in?  (yep, giant)

People mean well. They just don’t realize they are being used by the enemy to direct your focus onto the current obstacles instead of the blessing of the plan that comes after the obstacles.  Paul told us to keep our eyes on the prize and keep moving forward. We do that by laying aside the sin of fear and the comments of the nay-sayers, the bad reports.

A universal truth of God’s design is that whenever there is a wide opened door of opportunity, there will also be many adversaries.  Marriage is that open door of opportunity, so we can expect our Adversary to push back.  Let your focus pass over those giants, right into the promise that God showed you when you first met your husband.  Each obstacle you conquer will bring you closer to possessing a marriage of milk & honey.

 

A Journey of 365 Days

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Chris over at Forgiven Wife invited me to share a little deeper regarding a comment in which I had spoken of a 365 Day Journey. Today’s post is that amplification. In her email she wrote something I want to share: The process of change can seem an insurmountable hurdle […]”

This is where I want to jump off from to start.

Indeed it was insurmountable. Although I knew what God had showed me to do, I had no idea how He was going to change me or what I was going to be like at the end of the journey; this was flying blind for sure. I only knew for sure where I was: It was time for something to change. Our marriage had been ravaged; beaten up and bleeding… dying; a barely recognizable corpse. A sorry sight for representation of Christ and His church. Anais Nin captured my day when she wrote, “And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”

 

To continue reading click to The Forgiven Wife.

 

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Are You Timid & Afraid?

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What storm are you encountering … right now … at this very moment?  When your marriage boat set sail on it’s journey everything was on a nice even keel; but now it’s anything but ‘smooth sailin’ and you have no idea where all the rough waters came from.

Does this present storm have you wanting to turn and run away in fear?  How would you respond to Jesus as He asks you:

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The disciples were clambering in a panic from their emotions.  When crisis brings chop into our marriages I think we do the same thing, we end up paralyzed from our emotions and are faced with a huge temptation to focus on the circumstances and all the bad that could happen instead of all the power God has.

Isn’t this always our first wail to God?

make it stop  ~  make it go away  ~  make it be over

– always from our emotions.

I’m like one of the disciples, my default is to scramble to wake up Jesus before it gets too bad … before it gets too tough.  What I’m really asking God to do is to change my circumstances.  The disciples had already witnessed Jesus perform 3 miracles, yet when the storm hit, they still didn’t trust.  I think this is why Jesus was agitated with them and why He calls this “little” faith.  The answer isn’t in God changing the people around us or the circumstances we’re in (as we often ask Him to do), but in Christ alone.  Diligently trusting.  Diligently staying and standing, trusting that God will finish what He started.

~ Diligence is definitely the key  ~

In 2 Peter 1, Peter lays out the track that will lead to a bigger faith that is the close intimate relationship Jesus is looking to have with us.  For this very reason, adding your diligence [to the divine promises], employ every effort in exercising your faith to develop virtue …

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Without diligence faith will stay “little”.  Changed circumstances won’t grow you closer to Jesus.  All this does is keep your faith muscles weak from lack of exercise, which puts you further away from intimate knowledge of Jesus and authentic fellowship with Him. (2 Peter 1:5-8)

Then, when you find your marriage in the middle of a terrible storm, your faith isn’t big enough to allow you the peace needed to stay with it.  Don’t forget, Jesus was asleep during the storm.

Circumstances of the storm

  1. They were fisherman accustom to being on all kinds of water; they knew storms – this one was bad.
  2. They didn’t plan it, or plan for it.  Zero control over it.  And no help from anyone else.
  3. Their response revealed where their faith really was.  Nothing like a good surprise storm to reveal your true level of courage on the open water.

They wanted Jesus to change the circumstances they were in; for Him to stop the storm and for it to be all over.  But Jesus wanted to show them a different way to get on the other side of it.  He wanted them to ride-out the storm by conquering through faith in Him.

Circumstances of a storm in marriage

  1. It doesn’t matter how well you think you know your spouse, people are not static.  We are all healing, growing and changing.  We are all capable of sin because we are sinners.
  2. Offences come in all kinds of shapes, sizes and colours.  We have no control over how Satan is going to try and divide a marriage.  You can guarantee he’s not going to be upfront … he hides and pushes from behind and it feels like you are capsizing.
  3. Nothing like a good spur of the moment crisis to reveal where you really are in your faith.  How I respond to offence will show me just how much of my heart has been molded into the image of Christ.

How do you pray for your spouse when your marriage is confronted with crisis?  This is when our true character of faith emerges.  No rote responses.  No practice runs or plans of eloquent words.

There’s really only 2 choices:

  • Fear:  Pray for the circumstances to change, asking God to remove our hardship and make it easy so that we don’t have to exercise faith.  We want God to take away free choice and change those around us and what they are doing.
  • Faith:  We boldly stand in the confidence that comes from a bigger faith, diligently trusting as God shapes us into conquerors.

Similar to worry, which literally divides your strength in half, fear will eat away at the faith that is needed to sustain you through a storm in your marriage.  It will lead you by the nose as a blind coward that is timid and afraid.  Diligence in faith will drive you to where the real power is:  closer to Christ.

The next time you and your spouse find your placid pond whipped into a frenzy of a storm, try asking yourself:  What am I going to focus on, the storm or Jesus.  It takes work and training to resist the temptation to rush to Jesus with that prayer of, “change everything else,” instead of, “with Your power, change me.”

The Day of Lovers

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I purposely waited until after Valentine’s Day to publish this post.

A couple of days before Valentine’s Day I was reading along on Twitter and saw a pattern emerge, “What I want for Valentine’s Day is …,” or, “All I want for Valentine’s Day is …”  Although framed in many different phrases, it all boiled down to drawing the emphasis to self:  MeIMy.  Considering who Saint Valentine was, I found this pattern at odds with his message.

The History

Have we over romanticised all that Saint Valentine died for?  As much as we like the cushy gush brought to us by marketing and advertising, let’s look a little beyond that to some facts:

  • Saint Valentine believed so strongly in what marriage stood for that he was willing to die for it.
  • He honoured Christian marriage and chose to break the law to preserve its sanctity.
  • He endured a beating and stoning before decapitation.

Doesn’t exactly inspire a trip to People’s Jewelers and a romantic card from Hallmark.

There’s an excellent article in which Father O’Gara of Whitefriars Street Church in Dublin, says, “What Valentine means to me as a priest, is that there comes a time where you have to lay your life upon the line for what you believe. And with the power of the Holy Spirit we can do that — even to the point of death.”

Try Something New

I’m not a ‘buzz-kill’ that believes in looking for reasons to not celebrate.  I love to partae!  And, I believe in ALL things that celebrate marriage!  I just want to find a better way to honour this courageous hero of marriage than:

  1. Making it about self.
  2. Making a mockery of his name sake by assimilation into the emotional promotions of flowers, frills and sales gimmicks.

A way of celebrating that would be more of an echo of Jesus.  Saint Valentine knew the heart of Christ and followed His pattern.  Inside Jesus was giver not a getter.  He died giving, not getting.

If you really believe that Valentine’s Day is about marriage and lovers, and you want Saint Valentine’s death to mean something, I challenge you to drill down on giving.  Don’t just give this day a fleeting acknowledgement that’s filled with expectations of getting.  If you are a wife, celebrate your marriage by being the best, the most stupendous partner for your husband!  Always being superior in your giving and excelling to do more than enough. (1 Corinthians 15:58)

Instead of starting February 14th in the AM and ending February 14th  in the PM, start now – February 17, 2014, and continue through to February 14th 2 0 1 5.  Then, on Valentine’s Day 2015, you will really have something to celebrate.

Set aside a devotional time just for your husband, not to pray with him, but to pray for hm.  Let God into all the recesses of your heart concerning your husband.  It’s not a time to pray about his faults – it’s about praying for your growth areas as a wife.

Put the expectations of Valentine’s Day on yourself and make it about what you are going to give to your husband over the next year.

  1. Reconnect with God about your marriage vows.  Ask God if He’ll be able to say to you, “Well done good and faithful servant?”  And listen to His response. (1 John 2:6)
  2. We all suffer from immaturity.  There are areas within all of us that need to grow up.  Ask your spouse, “What is one thing that I need to grow in for you.  An area that will help me be less selfish and a little more like Jesus.” (Romans 8:29)
  3. Ask God to reveal mindsets that are destructive to your marriage and egotistical attitudes.  Make it a season to learn how to apologize for something you said that was hurtful.  In an effort to grow up and be responsible for your own behaviour.  Even if your spouse was 99% responsible and your reaction was 1%.  Own one hundred percent of your 1%.  (Ephesians 4:31-32)
  4. Ask for encouragement.  Ask your man to tell you any area(s) that you are hitting it right! (Hebrews 3:13)

Concentrate on the cosmic picture of eternity.  Does God really want me to grow into a spouse that’s able to get the most or a spouse who’s able to give the most?  What will you give this Valentine’s Day of 2015?  The day you were married you promised this man a lot … you need to give more than you promised.*

 

*Adapted from the quote by Anthony J. D’Angelo:  Promise a lot and give even more.