Ten Years Ago, We Fell in Love

Ten Years Ago, We Fell in Love

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.
Elizabeth P
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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.

2 Corinthians 5:17 says:

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”

As it turns out, that’s also a progressive transformation.

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The Secret to a Great Marriage

Over the years, we’ve participated in some awesome and challenging marriage studies with small groups, such as Eggerich’s Love and Respect, John Piper’s Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, and Saving your Marriage Before It Starts by Les and Leslie Parrott. Each one provided great tools and things to consider or work on in a new way, but it comes down to your own relationship with God. You will be a better spouse when you are working on your relationship with the Lord. It’s not magic. It all takes time and intentional investment, but that’s the secret.

Ten years and four kids later, I can now say that I’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.

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The Submissive Wife

The Submissive Wife

I am a proud wife and Mother! My hubby, Tyler, and I both attended Oklahoma Christian where our love grew! We got married, had two beautiful kiddos, our son Gunner and daughter Brooklyn, and we are living a truly blessed life! I am a Kindergarten teacher in the great state of Texas and most importantly a Christian. I strive daily to keep God #1 because he is the reason I have all the amazing blessings, I give him all the praise!
Candace B
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“A woman should learn in quietness and full submission.  I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man.”

1 Timothy 2:11-12

Submission

It is a humble word, but in years past the world has twisted the meaning into something negative and something to cause disruption in relationships.  Why is this? Women’s rights? Equality? It could be attributed to many different things. I asked my husband what his definition of submission would be.  His answer was, “Putting someone else’s desire or will in front of your own.”  I love that the man I married–the man I committed my life to–understands that when I am submissive to him that I am putting his needs before my own. And likewise, he also puts my needs before his own.

I pray that you and your husband feel the same way.  Being a submissive wife is a beautiful thing.  I have never thought of it as negative, but I have seen it misconstrued in many ways.  As a Christian you are not only to be submissive to your husband but most importantly to God.  He commands it.  James 4:7 says “Submit yourselves, then, to God.  Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”  Humbling yourself to our Lord–submitting to him–is putting your faith in Him and fleeing from evil.

There will be people who take advantage of this humbling act.  Some people do take advantage of their role as head of the household instead of centering the marriage relationship on what God wants and demands of husbands.  1 Corinthians 7:3 says, “The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband.” We need to be proactive about this, but moreover we need to trust our husband and have open communication to further strengthen the marriage.  When your marriage is centered on Christ, you serve your husband, and, in turn, serve God’s purpose for a strong Christian marriage.

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What Does Being Submissive Mean?

Does being submissive mean you don’t get a say? That what your husband says goes? Absolutely not!  Ephesians 5:25 says, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through word and present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any blemish, but holy and blameless.”

Praise God for the Word!  Scripture tells us that husbands are to take their role VERY seriously and to be able “present her as a radiant church.”  Being a submissive wife is a beautiful, humbling act.  As wives, let’s be mindful that our husbands can be under pressure with having this charged to them by our Lord.  Encourage your husband.  Always let him know that you appreciate him in all that he does for you and your family.  Practice being submissive daily and look to the Bible for encouragement and understanding in this matter.

May God bless you and your marriages.  Be the wives that God wants you to be according to Ephesians 5:22:

“Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord.”

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How can you be an encouragement to your husband?

 

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Fighting for Marriage, Especially When Hope Seems Lost

Fighting for Marriage, Especially When Hope Seems Lost

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.
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Satan tries to destroy everything, including our marriages. Fighting for our marriage, especially when hope seems lost, is crucial to fighting off Satan in our churches and in our nation. It seems like we’ve gotten to a point where if a husband or a wife has done x, y, or z, then it’s okay to cut them off and move on. Fighting for our marriages and our souls is so important, even when our spouse has done the worst things we could imagine.

Please do not think I am getting all holier than thou. I am not. I have seen first hand what divorce can do and the destruction it has caused in my husband’s life. His parents were divorced and he himself is divorced. He married at 19 and sadly was divorced five years later. I’ve seen how it has affected him as the child and a spouse. My heart hurts for what he’s been through. Divorce was never in God’s plan.

Hope Where There Seems to be None

I truly believe God can reconcile anything. Look at how he reconciled us to himself, when it seemed like there was no other hope. 

I’ve seen marriages that NEVER should have survived be REVIVED and made so much better than anyone could have imagined. With God all things are possible

And that’s why I recommend Richard and JeannaLynn May of What God Has Joined Ministries because they have been on the brink of divorce themselves. They understand what it’s like to have no hope and to see God not only restore their marriage but deliver it from the place it was and turn it into a beautiful new creation. God can do that even when it seems like there is no hope. Even when the rest of the world including the churched world says “It’s okay to walk away.”

Waging War Against Satan

When marriages are on the brink of divorce, there is a lot of pain, anger, fear and there will be a lot to work through. But it is possible.

We as a church body must wage war against Satan for our marriages. We have to encourage each other to persevere through the worst of times, to lean into God, to trust God’s faithfulness even if a spouse has been unfaithful. We must fight along side the couples that satan is attacking. Because satan will attack all our marriages and when that happens, don’t you want the church to fight alongside you!

Physical Marriage is an Image of a Spiritual Truth

Our marriages are a representation of our covenant with God. He loves us no matter what we do, no matter how unfaithful we have been in our relationship with Him. He is always there for us, no matter what.

We can’t ignore scripture that calls us to a higher standard.

James 5:19-20 says:

My brothers and sisters, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring that person back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins.

 

Matthew 19:3-9

Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?”

“Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”

“Why then,” they asked, “did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?”

Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.”

 

And then there is the book of Hosea, which has been the hardest one for me to accept over the years. I want to say, “Isn’t there a limit? Over and over and over again this “wife” (can we call her a wife) leaves her husband and commits adultery.

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“The Lord said to me, ‘Go, show your love to your wife again, though she is loved by another and is an adulteress. Love her as the Lord loves the Israelites, though they turn to other gods and love the sacred raisin cake.'”

We are living examples of God’s love here on this earth. We are called to love like this, even when our hearts are breaking and someone has sinned against us. Love that person as God has loved us, a sinful and adulterous people.

A Different Approach

The What God Has Joined Ministries‘ approach is different. The Mays use a coaching/spiritual formation approach that goes to the hearts of the matter–the hearts of each individual. It is powerful and effective. I’ve seen it in my own marriage and so many others.

It doesn’t matter where you are located on this planet, they can help. Don’t let location or finances stop you from contacting them. Satan does not need to claim victory over your marriage. Our Lord is the Ultimate Redeemer, and He has the final say.

From working one-on-one with couples to partnering with churches, Richard and JeannaLynn work from a Christ-centered perspective, fighting for marriages, especially when hope seems lost.

Living a Holy, Proactive Marriage

Every marriage needs encouragement at one point or another. Although there to serve all couples, WGHJ Ministries emphasizes the power of holy, proactive marriages. Richard has an M.A. in Bible and Ministry. JeannaLynn is an RN and a certified Life Coach. Follow Hooked on Marriage on Facebook to find ways of encouraging your heart and your spouse throughout your marriage. Also, check out their resource page for tools you can start using in your marriage today. 

Prayer Over Our Hearts

Lord, we praise you for loving us like you do. We praise you for forgiving us for every single thing that nailed your hands to the cross. You took all our sin and shame and forgave us completely, holding nothing against us even after all we have done to you. It makes no sense and yet that’s what you do.

We lift up our marriages to you, praying protection over them. Help us lean into you and cling to you even when heartache is great and fear and anger try to overcome us. Help us fight for each others marriages.

Lord, you know all that is going on. Nothing is hidden from your sight. You know how the devil has been working and trying to destroy marriages. Some seem beyond repair. We pray for your love to break the chains of sin that bind them and destroy marriages.

You are the God of the impossible. Father, we pray that Satan would not win this fight. We pray for changed hearts, restoration, forgiveness, and that new life be breathed into those marriages that now look dead.

We know your power and believe it to be true. Only you can take dead bones and bring them to life. We pray for new life and hope…a hope that is founded in you. In the only One who could bring hope to all of our situations and who has the power to change hearts – Amen!

 

Choosing to Love, Even if He’s Not Your Soulmate

Choosing to Love, Even if He’s Not Your Soulmate

Hello. I grew up traveling the world as a military brat. I ultimately felt God's pull to Oklahoma Christian University where I met my husband. We now have 3 beautiful children and have settled in Mustang, Oklahoma.I am a homeschooling mom and with 3 kiddos it is a full time job! I am daily encouraged by God's great patience and grace in my life. In my free time I enjoy reading and crafting.
Laura P

I’ll never forget the first time my husband told me he didn’t believe in soulmates.  I’ve always felt like the term itself was a little cheesy, but up until that point I suppose I had never really given the idea much thought.  Still it seemed a little…unromantic.  In our culture we’ve been inundated with movies and stories of finding true love. And what is true love if it isn’t one special person you’re destined to be with for all of eternity?  That’s what the world would have us believe, and I admit, I did buy into the romance of that in my younger years.

In the Beginning

I suppose in many ways the way my husband and I started our dating relationship could be considered very romantic.  It is definitely very similar to a barely believable Hallmark movie.  The story goes that our mothers were best friends in high school.  My mother was even maid of honor in his mother’s wedding.  Then my mother moved away, got married and our mothers didn’t see one another again until they were both pregnant with us (insert collective “awww”).

After I was born, my mother enlisted in the Air Force.  I spent the rest of my days exploring new states and countries every few years, while my husband spent his days exploring wheat fields, farm equipment, and the inside of engines in our small hometown.  Fast forward to August 2005.  I was visiting my great-grandmother who is very dear to me before I left for college.  I was enrolled in a Christian college in Oklahoma City.  At the church potluck a sweet older lady was chatting with my grandmother when I was beckoned over to meet a boy who was also OKC-bound.

Friendship Blossoms into Something More

Honestly, I didn’t give it much of a second thought.  I was engaged to a boy from high school in a very toxic relationship.  Our friendship slowly bloomed as he and I began to ride home together to visit our families.  He was always kind and respectful, and I valued our friendship.  When my engagement came crashing down around me, he was there with words of comfort and support. A couple of months later I was there to reciprocate when he and his college girlfriend broke up.

At this point I had never had a romantic feeling toward him.  It would be another couple of months before our friendship began to blossom into something more.  I remember when I first really realized how blue his eyes were, and suddenly I could hardly bear for him to look at me.  That sounds so ridiculous, but it is so very true.  After a chaste kiss to the hand I was sold, and the rest, they say, is history.

My Plans are not the Lord’s Plans

I promise you have endured that long story for a purpose!  Jaded by my broken engagement and the betrayal that came with it, I told God I was done looking for a soulmate.  My plan was to study, focus on school and my faith, and leave the rest up to Him.  How funny it is to me now that I thought I actually had complete control of things in my life! Alas, I was young and needed to learn so very much more about the Lord and myself.

Many are the plans in a person’s heart,
but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.
Proverbs 19:21

I had no way of knowing that this man would challenge me in more ways that I ever knew possible.  He showed me how to love without shame. I learned how to dream within boundaries and how to plan for an unpredictable future.  He unleashed desires in my heart that I had fought against, desires that were God’s will hushed by my own plans and dreams.


So now comes the question:

If he was so good for me, so helpful in my walk with the Lord, wouldn’t that make him like an–I don’t know–soul mate If you look in God’s word (and I have), there’s no mention of one perfect person to fulfill us, aside from God, of course.  And it makes sense.  God wants to hold that most special place in our hearts.  He requires us to love him above all else and above ourselves.  God very plainly wants to be first in our hearts.  He does not build another human being to be perfect in our eyes. No, He reserves that place for himself.

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Choosing to Love

So as flawed human beings, we are destined to choose love.  We must choose to love one another in the hardest of times.  In my experience, choosing love has been the single easiest way to resolve any conflict in our marriage.  I don’t expect him to fill my needs, to perfectly anticipate my desires, or insure that our marriage stands strong against the enemy.  And I would not measure up if he expected those things of me.

Instead of expecting to fit like a hand in a glove, we expect the snags and grooves along the way.  If one of us has a rough spot, we work to buff it out.  If the other has a hang up, we find a way around it.  There has yet to be a bridge that we cannot cross in love.  When we are both overworked, overtired and over-stressed, it is much harder to choose love. However, it just gives us more opportunity to practice.

How do you choose love with those you care about?

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Family Photo Perfect

Family Photo Perfect

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.
April E
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My family recently had new photos taken…Please join me in a moment of silence.

Why do family photos have to be so stressful? There is usually lots of complaining because someone doesn’t want to wear what I have picked out. Or they would rather be doing anything besides taking photos. There is usually begging, bribery, and threats involved. I told the kids to please just do this for me because I really want a nice family photo.

“Everyone look at the camera and smile!”

“You Will Be Happy For The Photo!”

“Act like you love each other!”

OK, that is extreme, but sometimes it feels like that. When we did our photos recently, my son cried because he wanted to wear something totally different even though it didn’t go at all with what everyone else was wearing. I walked in my daughter’s room to see how far she had gotten when I discovered her still wearing her pajamas, sitting on the floor sulking that she had to wear a dress on a Saturday…the horror! As we were pulling out of the driveway, I looked back and saw a giant hole on the knee of my daughter’s leggings. So in we went to get better leggings, only to not be able to find any.

Honestly, I was surprised that the photo session was successful! Even though it was windy and cold when we took the pictures, the kids did a really good job cooperating!

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This whole situation got me wondering how many times do we do this to God? How many times a day do we find ourselves complaining because of the tasks God has set before us? How many times do I think, “I would rather be doing anything else, than serving someone else?” Sometimes I think we can be so selfish. Unfortunately, I know that I can be, even though I know that isn’t how I want to be or how God wants me to be.

Sometimes we need to just put our selfishness and pride aside to do something for God. Don’t you think that He just wants to see all of His children happy and smiling, helping each other and being thankful for Him and His gifts? It’s not always easy, and we for sure aren’t perfect. But in the end, we will have a beautiful family gathering in heaven. We will forever be grateful for the times we set aside our pride to do what makes God happy.

 

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Thanking my Husband, Even Though He Does Things “Wrong”

Thanking my Husband, Even Though He Does Things “Wrong”

Wife, mom, daughter, teacher, blogger, crafter, organizer - but most and best of all, I am a Christian. I am passionate about my family and my God. I am married to my best friend and am blessed with a one year old son who keeps me busy all the time staying at home with him. And I am glad to be in the service of our incredible and awesome God.
Tracy Watts

My husband is a man.

And as such, he does manly things.

He likes sports and to grill out, and he enjoys wrestling, throwing, swinging, and other very physical activities with my son. He is a provider and he is a leader, albeit sometimes a quiet one.

My husband has always been happy to do things around the house–but here is where things get a little hairy.

You see, he doesn’t do household things like a woman. He does them–well, the way that a man would.

I realize this may come as a shock. My husband does not load the dishwasher like I do. He does not fold and put away the laundry like I do. He doesn’t even clean the bathroom like I do.

Is there a “right” way to chop an onion?

Well, even if it’s not the way I would cut it, it will still flavor the soup and still be able to be chewed once we eat it.

Is there a “right” way to load the dishwasher?

Well, perhaps if you didn’t put soap in it, but otherwise, the dishes will still get clean. And isn’t that the point of a dishwasher?

Is there a “right” way to fold the laundry?

Well, as long as all of us get clean underwear and towels, wasn’t that the point?

It’s easy to get into the slump of “he didn’t do it my way.” But–maybe I didn’t do it his way. And you know what? He probably didn’t complain about it. He just accepted it because it’s who I am.

Sometimes, I think we lose sight of the big picture.

Is it more important to get help around the house? To share the burden of budgeting and finances? To let someone else take a turn watching the baby?

Because I guarantee you–it won’t be done exactly how YOU would have done it. And yet, if we let go of that control, of that “need” to have things done a certain way, we may find that our lives are richly blessed. We may find it easier, in fact, to follow 1 Thessalonians 5:18:

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

Instead of, “Why did he load the dishes this way!” perhaps we can say, “Thank you, Lord, for giving me a husband who helps clean up supper!”

Instead of, “Why can’t he find a matching set of clothes to put on the baby!” perhaps we can say, “Thank you, Lord, for granting me time to rest while my husband made sure the baby is warm, clean, and dry.”

Instead of complaining, perhaps we can learn the not-so-easy-as-it-sounds task of saying “Thank you.” To God. To our families. To anyone around us.

And that may make all the difference.

 

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