I am a girl who loves to sit with a cup of coffee and daydream. I am most passionate about Jesus, my family, and family ministry. My husband and I live in Oklahoma with our two precious daughters. I spend my days with my girls, discovering and growing alongside them! You can usually find us either in our sunroom, the park, or taking long walks through Target. :)
In a Christian marriage there is a goal to put God first, but I’ll be honest–my husband and I didn’t really know what that meant when we got married. We knew we wanted to honor God in our life together and be part of a church family, but we really didn’t know the extent we’d be called to put God first.
At the beginning of our marriage we were consumed with personal needs. We’d read all kinds of marriage books talking about needs and love languages and respect, and while we tried hard to please each other, we got upset when we didn’t feel the same effort in response. Now, the lessons in those books are great–but we didn’t have the right mindset. We needed a mindset of grace if we were ever going to really put God first in our lives. Thankfully, over the last couple of years we’ve learned more about how to live a grace-filled marriage and it’s made such a wonderful impact on our life together.
Here is the new foundational truth for our marriage:
Our relationship with God is more important than our relationship with each other. This is how we truly put God first in our lives and in our family.
Now, you might not like the way that sounds but hear me out—
Supporting each other on your individual walks with God is the most important thing you can do for your marriage.
When your spiritual life becomes top priority you think differently. Your mission in life is no longer about your happiness on earth but your eternity with God–and this affects your marriage in a good way! When you are focusing on your eternal destination more than your current one you will be a better spouse. How do I know this? Well, focusing on my eternal destination means that I’m striving to be like Christ, and who can love my husband better than Christ? My best love for my husband will be fruit from my relationship with Christ.
“Every marriage goes through moments of anger and temporary failures. But you must determine your goal. What matters most: winning arguments or resembling Christ?” – Francis Chan (You and Me Forever)
I don’t know about you, but I want my life to resemble Christ. That’s way more important to me than making sure my needs and love languages are met. I’m not saying love languages and meeting needs are bad–they can be a very good thing when you are putting your desire to please Christ above your desire to please yourself. Then you will use those methods as God intended–as a way to serve your spouse.
Now, as wonderful as all that sounds we still have a little problem.
Are you still with me? My husband and I have a very tricky enemy working against us and he can use those needs and love languages as a stumbling block. Sometimes our spouses don’t meet our needs and don’t speak our love language and then what?? How will we respond?
“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” 1 Peter 5:8
The devil is looking to devour me. The devil is looking to devour my husband.
When a spouse messes up (no matter how insignificantly), you can bet your bottom dollar that Satan is on the hunt for victory. He’s watching how we will respond. This is why we need to lavish our marriages with grace.
Why? For us it’s simple.
Because the devil will NOT gain victory in our household.
No, he will not get an ounce.
Christ gets all the power, all the glory, and all the victories in our house.
So what do we do when the devil is prowling at our door? How do we let Christ get the glory in our home? Well first, we stay on our guard and know who our enemy is! It’s really easy for me to feel brokenhearted when things aren’t going my way. In return, I can act pretty ungodly, treating my poor husband like he is my enemy. I know that my husband has triggers too, times when the devil is crawling at his feet. There are going to be misunderstandings and times when we mess up and end up hurting each other.
However, Satan is our enemy in these times. It’s not my husband. It’s not me. Knowing that Satan is the enemy makes it easier to extend grace to each other because we know that we are each on the pursuit of holiness. We want to encourage each other on this process, not get in the way. We want Christ to come first in our marriage. This means that we want to be like Christ and we want to show Christ’s love to be fruitful in our marriage. We want God to take the victory, and he does! God takes the victory every time we set our personal needs aside and extend loving grace in His name!
Live a grace-filled marriage.
When you and your spouse find yourself at odds, offer grace. Once you extend grace, you can then demand the enemy leave your home. If you’ve seen the movie War Room, then you remember that powerful scene where Elizabeth Jordan literally yells at Satan to get out of her house–she even yells him out of her front lawn! There is something to be said for verbally voicing Satan to leave. It shows we really mean it and we want him to hear it! Also, then you should pray.
We can’t fight the enemy on our own. We need God’s help. So get down on your knees -together or alone. Beg God to fight the enemy out of your life and your household.
Let God do all the fighting in your marriage.
“God will fight for you; you need only to be still.”- Exodus 14:14
Let God claim the victory in your grace-filled marriage.
I am a recovering Army brat who loves to travel and start new adventures. My handsome husband and I met at Oklahoma Christian University and he whisked me away to Kansas. So, I bought some ruby red high heels and made Topeka my home. I have a rough and rowdy Princess 4-year-old girl, amazing twin boys (almost 3) and a newborn baby girl who all make every day an adventure. We are grateful to be part of an amazing church in Topeka who regularly challenges and encourages our whole family. I have been both a full-time working mom and a stay-at-home-mom and/or both at the same time at one point or another. I am constantly seeking God’s wisdom on “balancing it all” and following His plan for my life, not mine.
Note: Our story is our story; marriages can be quite different and face unique challenges. We just hope to encourage those with what we’ve learned in our life.
Best Decision of My Life
On Memorial Day weekend, my husband and I will celebrate more than ten years of marriage. We were very nearly babies when we wed–I was twenty years old and he was twenty-one. We were very grown up, or so we thought.
Honestly though, despite being young, it was the best decision we ever made. I remember hearing people who had been married for twenty years say they were more in love than ever with their spouse. At the time, that concept made no sense to me. I couldn’t imagine being more in love with this guy.
We dated for three years, half of which was our engagement. Despite my “plan” to have a career before I entered into a serious relationship, we fell in love pretty early on in our relationship. We attended a Christian liberal arts university and I was bound and determined not to be there for my “MRS.” However, God had other plans for my life. We married before our senior year of college. After we graduated, we moved out of state so my husband could attend law school in his hometown.
We Fell In Love, Yet I Was Miserable
Year one was a breeze. I thought marriage was not hard.
Year two was the most stretching year of our relationship.
He was in law school, I was in a new town, surrounded by everyone who knew my husband and his family but not me, and I was working but incredibly lonely. What happened to college where all our friends had time to hang out every day and come over any time? How fair was it that I was being a “grown up” starting my career while he was still in school? Why was this town so small and why is there no decent retail? These were all things my twenty-two-year-old self was struggling with daily. I was married to the love of my life. I worked in my degree field in a job that was a great fit. And yet, I was miserable.
I did not understand why the second year was so much harder. For goodness’ sake, we were in love! We had even gone through two premarital counseling sessions for “extra-good premarital preparedness training.” Because I thought that both of us being believers, doing extra premarital counselling, plus having successfully married parents, made us experts. Oh, and don’t you know, we knew each other incredibly well and had discussed everything under the sun. (Cue eyeroll…remember, I was twenty-two).
Or did we?
Our new church family became the reason we have the marriage we do today. They challenged us in our own relationships with Christ in new and profound ways. We realized we both had a lot of spiritual growth to do. I realized that as amazing as my new husband seemed (and is), he is a human and will let me down somehow. He doesn’t mean to, but it happens. And I let him down, even though he has never told me as much, but I’m sure I have at some point. We learned a lot of things about each other, but most importantly we learned how to live for Christ, to die to ourselves, and to grow in our faith more deeply than we had before.
It came down to this: the closer each of us grew in Christ independently, the better and deeper our relationship grew together.
Ten years and four kids later, I can now say thatI’ve never been more in love with my husband. I understand him in a deeper way. He challenges me to be in the Word, and works tirelessly to “fill my love tank” daily (see The Five Love Languages). He leads our family devotions each night and parents better than I do, and none of it has anything to do with me. Yes, we both are very different people than we were ten years ago. Little by little, we’re becoming new people in Christ. If we were the same people we were ten years ago, I don’t know if our marriage would have lasted. (I hate to think that, but the selfishness in both of us was unsustainable.)
There are still occasional tough days, and we each still have a lot of work to do. But there are a lot of wonderful days. I can’t wait to see where we are in another ten years.
I grew up in Oklahoma and attended Oklahoma Christian University. Right after earning my degree in Music Education I moved to Germany to do mission work for 5 years. During those 5 years, I married my husband and we eventually became parents to our spunky daughter! We settled back in Oklahoma and added an energetic son to our family! I am now a stay-at-home mom who is still very passionate about mission work, Germany, singing, family, and most of all, my relationship with God.
.Recently I read that the Bible uses the phrase “Do not fear” 365 times, once for every day of the year. I have been curious if that is true. It sounds great, right? While I didn’t do an incredibly deep study, I did check some Bible resources to see what came up when I searched this phrase. I didn’t look up all variations of the phrase, but I discovered that it would be difficult to come up with exactly 365 instances. This reminded me to always check the facts before believing something I read. However, I still find it interesting that the Bible uses this phrase so many times.
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
Right now it seems like there is so much fear in the world and in this country. Perhaps it has always been this way, but I feel that we are letting fear take over our hearts. We allow fear to conquer love by living in a way that is safer rather than more loving. This issue has been on my heart for so long. I feel it’s important to talk about these issues with love and consideration.
The refugee situation has been on my heart a lot. I understand people’s fear and why they don’t want refugees to come into the country. However, when are we going to listen to God’s words? If there ever was a time we should not fear, that we should reach out and serve others who are desperate, is that not now? I know many fear the threat of allowing terrorists into our country, and understandably so. But what about the many innocent lives turned upside down by the violence in their home country? Will we ignore God’s command to clothe the naked, feed the hungry, and help those who have nothing? What about the innocent children who don’t even understand what is going on in their world or have lost loved ones?
Sometimes serving others means we have to risk something. Maybe it is comfort, our safety, or even our lives. Isn’t that what Jesus would do? Look at the Apostles’ lives. They truly dedicated their lives to serving and following Jesus, even to the point of death. When we get to heaven, will God turn us away, saying He doesn’t know us because we didn’t welcome strangers and didn’t feed and clothe those in need?
34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in,36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you?39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink,43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’
46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”
Overcoming fear is difficult. I struggle with it just as much as others. If I were in a desperate situation like these refugees, I would be thankful for any act of love shown to me by strangers. What better way to show God’s love and potentially bring someone to Christ than to serve in such a situation?
When we refuse to accept fear over love, we fight against the evil one. Evil men and Satan himself can try to fill us with fear, but no one can take away our faith and salvation.
“The Lord is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me?” Psalm 118:6
Let us pray to God for strength to get through difficult and fearful situations. When fear no longer rules our hearts, we can share God’s love with others who need it so desperately.
Dear Heavenly Father, we thank you for always being with us, especially when we feel fear. We ask that you give us the strength to serve others even if it means sacrifice. Help us to be loving and compassionate followers of you and to think of others over ourselves. We long to be like you and to serve others like your son Jesus served on earth. Help us every day to overcome the evil one and to choose love over fear. It’s in Jesus’ name that I pray, Amen.
Toni was born and raised in a small town in Oklahoma.She graduated from East Central University with a Bachelor's of Science Degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Economics.After college, she returned to her hometown to marry her best friend, Charles.Toni is a stay at home mom to their three teens, two boys and a girl, whom God led them to homeschool.Her goal is to raise her children to love and serve the Lord.They live on a farm where they grow produce to sell at several farmers markets.She also plays the piano at church and teaches piano.
Have you ever felt like God was trying to tell you something? I have had one of those weeks. God spoke to me four different times in one week about LOVE!
I serve on a planning committee for a Christian women’s conference. To promote the conference, some of the committee appeared as guests on a local radio station, and the main speaker called in. She said that she would be speaking on love and forgiveness. When she said this, I felt a quickening in my spirit. I was not sure why or what He was trying to tell me, but I was listening.
When she spoke at the conference a few days later, she started with the traditional, “God is love.” But, then she flipped that around: “Love is God.” True love is God through His sacrifice of His Son for our sins. I continued to listen. She went on to talk about the ongoing process of forgiveness. I still was not sure where this was going for me, but I was beginning to get some ideas.
The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.
1 John 4:8 (NASB)
The next day at church, the preacher began his sermon, and guess what it was about? Love! We need to be doing things out of love. 1 Corinthians 16:13-14 states, “Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.” He continued with Ephesians 4:15, “but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ.” We should do everything in love. This is sometimes difficult to do, especially when we feel we have been wronged.
Three days later, I went to a funeral. I will not go into details, but the grieving family demonstrated such an outpouring of love and forgiveness. This was so emotional. Despite the grief this family was experiencing, they were concerned enough and loved someone else enough to make sure he knew that he was loved and that the family harbored no ill feelings.
From the events of this week, I learned so much, including the realization that I do not always do things out of love; I do a lot out of obligation. In my words and actions, I do not always show love. I also realized that there were people that I thought I had forgiven but unforgiveness had crept back in. I had previously been on guard for it, but I had let my guard down. God really spoke to me this week and I know there is more I need to work on and probably more that I will get out of it.
I am an Oklahoman by birth, a Texan by current living situation, but claim the world as my playground.I love to travel and hope to someday soon take our family on adventures to far off lands, where we can share God with others and experience all the wonders He has created.
I am a mother of 5 crazy, homeschooling children ages 10 & under, wife to an amazing man, and daughter of the King of the Universe!I enjoy reading, making my kids laugh, cooking, all things natural, learning to play guitar and dusting off my piano skills.One day I hope to run again, but until then I’m learning patience.
In our house, we decided to turn learning about love into what I call “The Real Love Game.”
So many movies, books, magazines, songs, and TV shows have attempted to answer this question. Although some of the answers (like Saturday Night Live’s skit versions) are obviously not the right answer, there are many others that have added confusion to an already confused world.
The Real Definition of Love
That is why 1 Corinthians 13 is one of my favorite passages. In black and white, it explains what love – real love – looks like.
Love is patient,
love is kind.
It does not envy,
it does not boast,
it is not proud.
It does not dishonor others,
it is not self-seeking,
it is not easily angered,
it keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
It always protects,
1 Corinthians 13:4-7
Every year when February rolls around and LOVE starts to fill the air and the store shelves, we try to instill God’s meaning of love in our hearts as well as our children’s hearts. We do this so that as they grow and are introduced to the things of this world, they will know the difference between real love and fake love.
The Real LOVE Game & Different Ways of Teaching our Kids about Real Love
Now, stop for a second. Did you notice anything really interesting? If you’re a numbers person, you might…within verses 4-7 there are fourteen different descriptions of love. One for every day from February 1-Valentines Day! A few years ago, when I noticed this, we made a point to make sure every morning when our children woke up a heart with one of these descriptions was hanging somewhere in the house.
There are so many different ways to play with these hearts:
For several years, we hung them on a Valentine wreath in the living room.
We’ve even given them to our children like Valentines from God, one a day from February 1st-14th.
Last year we hung them on our kitchen window, where we do our school work during the day.
This year, I decided we are going to play a game with it. Every morning when our children wake up, they will go searching for love! Because isn’t that what most of us have done in life? As we are growing up, aren’t we always on the look out for true love? Once they find the heart, we will sit and talk about what it means and memorize it. Then we can add it to our memory verse wall so we can add to it daily and by day 14 we will have these three verses memorized.
I actually plan on having two sets of these hearts. One set to hide and hang up and the other set to use as a memory verse scramble. Every time we add another heart the kids will mix up the hearts and then put them in the correct order.
What immediately pops into your mind?
Let Us Know How Your Family Plays the Real Love Game!
If you would like to play this game with us or your own version, here are the fourteen hearts. We would love to see how you use them. Share your ideas with us by posting to social media and using #CaGDRealLove
Not only do we want our kids to know what love is, but we want them to know where it is found: in Christ Jesus. If we are letting Jesus fill our hearts with His love, then we will not be easily swayed by the world. And we want them to know how to share his love too.
Craving God’s Love
There is a song by For King and Country called “The Proof of Your Love” that recites parts of 1 Corinthians 13. So many people who have only heard this song and have never read the Bible have come up to them and said how amazing and beautiful those words are and how that idea of love just captivates them. You see, the world is craving God’s love and they don’t even know it yet!
As we play this game with our kids, maybe we could also sprinkle some of these hearts around our neighborhoods too. Share God’s amazing love with our neighbors, with store clerks and with whomever we run into during the day. Just for fun one day maybe you could go love on some cars by putting these hearts under windshield wipers in a parking lot. You never know how that little heart just might open someone’s heart to God’s word now or later.
Lord, we thank you for loving us like you do. We absolutely do not deserve it and yet you give it freely and without reserve. Your mercy and grace are showered upon us daily. Our hearts sing songs of thanksgiving and praise for all the love you have bestowed upon us. Give us courage to freely share this amazing love with others. In the One who did not hesitate to show what true love is all about – Amen!
Therefore I, the prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk worthy of the calling you have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, accepting one another in love, diligently keeping the unity of the Spirit with the peace that binds us.There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to one hope at your calling—one Lord, one faith, one baptism,one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all. (Ephesians 4:1-6)
I love these words Paul wrote while he was a prisoner. I picture Paul as the Spirit overcomes him and he writes exhaled words of God as a letter to the Ephesian church. The words found in this letter, though written to people from another time and another place, still strike such heavy meaning thousands of years later in a world seemingly gone mad. Isn’t that the beauty of God’s Word? His words are not bound by space or time. The words He breathed out then are still what we are inhaling today.
I read those words and my mind races just as my heart beats quick. I feel Him. His presence is near. It is not a question or a suggestion, it is eyes locking with mine and He says, “Walk worthy.” Maybe I should feel angst at such a command…but I back up a little and I read through the first three chapters of Ephesians.
This scripture reminds me of my righteousness attained through Christ. I remember his gift of grace and of my new identity in Christ. So I can quickly remove the fear that He is calling me to walk a life of self-sanctification. He is, rather, calling me to walk a life that reflects all that I have received in Him. I can revel in the hope and truth that the first three chapters of Ephesians give. Because He is worthy and my life reflects Him living in me, I can walk worthy. Not a perfect life, but a life that is full of grace and one which strives to bring Him glory. But, what is worthy?
Called to Unity
My eyes travel and these words stand out: humility, gentleness, patience, accepting one another in love. Then this:diligently keeping the unity of the Spirit with the peace that binds us. A call to unity. I cringe.
The struggle is there. A unified body is a great idea and can be found…until you mention your political opinion or until you mention who you voted for last election. Then the beautiful rope of unity begins to unravel and tangle, leaving a mess with knots so tight it has become a useless blob on the floor.
Walk worthy.So there it is again. However, I also see something else: “One Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.” Did you catch that? Who [God] is above all and through all and through all in all. Does that cause anyone else to catch a breath of relief? There is no fine print, no ifs, ands, or buts, no political figure, no political party. There is nothing but God. HE IS ALL.
So where does that leave us?
As the political comments, remarks, jabs, and opinions become more prevalent each year, let us not forget what we know to be true. He is the way, the truth, and the life, and above all, He is where our identity is found. We can rejoice with our friends, our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, that our hope and joy is in Him. Our desire is to walk worthy as children called by His name. By this, we will show the world that His Spirit unites us as the body of Christ. Our unity is not through political opinion, party, or affiliation. Don’t hang your hopes on anyone other than the One whose purpose was to come to earth and rescue us through His death and resurrection.
This year, let us seek unity as believers no matter which political box we check. I pray that we will embrace a Christ-like humility, radiate His gentleness, and dwell in His patience. My prayer is that we will accept one another through His love and that we will bediligent to keep the unity of the Spirit with the peace that binds us.