Why I Believe in Marriage

My husband Randy and I on our wedding day.

My husband Randy and I on our wedding day.

Because the Sovereign Lord helps me, I will not be disgraced. Therefore, I have set my face like a stone, determined to do his will and I know that I will not be put to shame.” Isaiah 50:7 NLT

The tea party was finally ready. All morning I had been baking chocolate chip scones, setting the table with my china and praying over the afternoon’s festivities. I was expecting a beautiful group of precious college girls over to my house for tea and discipleship. What an honor and a privilege it is to be with these sweet young ladies of God. This was my second time to have them over and, as usual I was running late, and praying that they would be late too! Why is there never enough time? Oh well, I learned long ago that the heart of the hostess is much more important than the perfection of the get-together, so I asked the Lord to help me and I managed to get it all together and have a happy heart. What a blessing it is to have the Lord to help us!

 After the hot tea and yummy food was consumed, I then began to ask the girls a question. I had already purposed to talk about marriage and family so I asked them, “What are some of your fears about getting married?” The young ladies began to pour out their hearts with fears that I had heard many, many times before: “So many Christians get divorced.”  “What if my husband stops loving me?” “What if I marry the wrong person?” “What if God doesn’t help us to have a good marriage?” “What if we wake up one day and realize that we no longer love each other?”

According to the Huffington Post, married couples are at an all time low. In 2011, just 51 percent of Americans were married, compared to 72 percent in 1960. And new research predicts that marriage rates will remain at a historic low in the years ahead.

It seems as if people have stopped believing in marriage.

Even if America doesn’t believe in marriage, God does. At the end of the Creation account in Genesis 1, “God saw all that He had made, and it was very good.” But when we look over at Genesis 2, God said that something was NOT good. “It is not good for man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” Even God thought that man needed a companion, so he gave him a wife.

Marriage is God’s idea. Why do we have so little faith in marriage these days? What if, instead of doubting, we “set our face like a stone” and trust that God will help us with whatever comes our way, no matter what!

What if, when the trials come, we purpose to pray every day, walk with the Lord and love our husbands?

What if marriage could be the best thing ever? What if, instead of looking around at other failed marriages, we ask the Lord to bless ours, stick as close to God and our husbands as possible through the seasons, and choose each day to love in the power of the Holy Spirit, never giving up.

What could God do through a generation of committed marriages, of people that choose to love, believe and walk by faith? How could God use Christian marriages to change the world and bring more into His kingdom? Oh, the possibilities!

I believe in marriage because I believe in God. I believe that God can redeem anything, and is committed to our marriages because marriage is His idea. I believe we can accomplish more for God’s kingdom with our spouses than we ever could do alone.

God loves to work through ordinary people who have chosen to trust Him, and He desires to bless our marriages more than we could ask or think. God wants to bring glory to His name through our Godly families, and to show His love to a hurting world.

What a blessing marriage is!

For the rest of my time at the tea, I decided to talk to the girls about how wonderful marriage is, trusting God, and all of the blessings that go along with it. After the tea party was finished, one of the sweet girls came up to me and said, “Mrs. Weakly, thank you. I have never heard anyone talk about the beauty of marriage before like you have. It’s good to hear that marriage can be wonderful!” Out of the mouths of babes…

 Marriage is wonderful.

 Marriage is God’s idea.

 God will help us in our marriage.

 Marriage is GOOD!

Cultivating Your Marriage Relationship

Photo Credit

by Anne Everitt

The year following the birth of our third child was the hardest year our marriage has yet seen.  Our kids were sick all winter… for months. Every time we would plan a date someone would puke or develop a fever or nasty cough; we had to cancel something like 7 or 8 times. The perpetual sickness left us isolated from friends and community. My husband felt extra pressure at work, adding to the stress.  We both felt exhausted, with little energy left at the end of the day to tend to our relationship, and we grew distant. It felt like even finding space to have a conversation about our need to have a conversation, was impossible! In the midst of this it seemed like we were not seeing eye-to-eye on anything… big or small.

In these hard and vulnerable seasons of marriage and parenting, I think the enemy whispers lies to us, something along the lines of “Why did you marry this person? You are so different and have nothing in common. This was a mistake.  Your love for each other has grown cold. You are growing apart and will only grow further apart. By the time your kids are grown you will be strangers.  You’d be better suited to someone else.“  Our culture and media also play into these lies… telling us that relationships should be easy and on fire all of the time or else something is wrong and the relationship wasn’t really “meant to be”.

The truth is, love is a commitment, through easy and hard seasons. When we feel it and when we don’t. And Biblical wisdom never tells us it is going to be easy or effortless, or that we ought to live our life solely out of emotions (wouldn’t that be a roller coaster ride?!). In fact, this is what 1 Corinthians 1:10 says (talking to believers in general—so this applies to all of our relationships, including our marriage):

I have a serious concern to bring up with you, my friends, using the authority of Jesus, our Master. I’ll put it as urgently as I can: You must get along with each other. You must learn to be considerate of one another, cultivating a life in common.

In the middle of such a season of marriage, my husband and I desperately needed to re-establish… to cultivate, a life in common. Friends, cultivation implies effort. That can seem daunting when you already feel maxed out, but God wants this for our marriage and He wants to breathe life and provision where we are at our wit’s end. Part of walking that out involves obediently doing our part as the Spirit leads.  The very existence of this command tells us unity and relationships have never been easy. They must be cultivated. Worked at. Planned and prepared for, tended to. A life in common does not just happen on its own.

So how do you cultivate a life in common? The above verse gives us an idea: By being considerate of one another. Considerate…  characterized by careful thought— deliberate; careful not to cause inconvenience or hurt to others; thoughtful of the rights and feelings of others; attentive; showing kindness towards others; having regard for the needs of others.

Mamas, whether we are in an easy season of marriage or hard, these are some questions we can bring before the Lord to help us think deliberately about our marriage:

How can I consider my husband’s needs today?

How can I encourage, pray for, bless, and serve him?

What do I need to let go of in order to build unity in our relationship?

What can I do to cultivate a life in common with him?

What can we do for fun together?

What things did we enjoy doing together when we were dating that we have stopped doing (but could start again!)?

What can I do to improve our relationship?

What lies am I believing that I need to surrender to the Lord?

Do I need to forgive any hurts that have occurred in our relationship?

What things does he love or enjoy that I can do with him?

What can I do to make him feel loved and respected?

What emotions do I need bring in alignment with the solid ground of truth?

In what areas do I feel at my wit’s end? {Take some time to bring this to the Lord.}

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By God’s grace, following trials and triumphs, and with ongoing intentional efforts to cultivate our relationship, we are in a new season. For us healing came as we practiced being considerate of one another—  forgiving wrongs, putting each other’s needs first, letting go of things that were putting a wedge between us, and also making it a priority to have fun together. I thank God that seasons come and go. Little ones grow— even just a year changes everything, and suddenly we find ourselves with room to breathe again.

But for those of you who in the trenches of a difficult season in your marriage, know that you are not alone. Every marriage has these seasons. May the Lord breathe life into your marriage, may He speak to you— showing you specifically how to tend to your relationship, and may He bless your efforts as you walk in His wisdom and ways.

As I head into a New Year, I’m making it a priority to cultivate a life in common with my man. What is one thing you want to do to cultivate a life in common with yours this year? I’d love to hear!

The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost–It has made all the difference!


Recently, at the webinar, a mom asked, “How did you face your friends and family who didn’t understand your ideals?”

Taking a risk to do life differently, better, following God’s trail by faith, has changed the course of the Clarkson history–but, by taking the road less travelled, we have witnessed the miracles and provision of the hand of God in amazing ways.

This, one of my favorite poems, (and I made all the kids memorize it) reflects the faith, following ideals, road.

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both,
And be one traveler , long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
But as for that, the passing there
had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I marked the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted I would ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two rods diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

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Since the first year Clay and I were married, we tried each fall to go drive through the mountains to see the aspen when they changed to the golden and read and bronze. A mother is the god-ordained professor who is to open the soul and mind of her children to the truths reflected in God’s creation. God has provided ample evidence of His wisdom, power and beauty in each season.

Last weekend, Clay said that he thought we should take the time to go for one day to the mountains before we left to make time to see the beauty together. Though we were all busy, we are so very thankful for the way it filled our souls to marvel at His handy work and to reflect that each season has its own beauty and evidence of God’s intimate involvement.

“Two roads diverged in a yellow wood.” What a beautiful poem this is–and such a rich amount of wisdom to discuss and reflect with your children—choices have consequences, whatever decisions you make will determine much of the rest of your life–it is so important to let God’s word and truth direct your priorities and decisions. And I love the last line, “And I, I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.”

Clay and I took the homeschooling road when no one thought we should. We moved our family into ministry situations with us all over the world when no one thought we should. We raised support when certain family members thought we shouldn’t. We left a good job and security and insurance and went 5 years without a salary to start Whole Heart Ministries when it seemed crazy. We committed ourselves to idealistic discipleship grace-based parenting when others thought we would ruin our children. Obviously we have not lived a perfect life and have made mistakes along the way. However, we made our decisions by faith, based on convictions we found in scripture. Our desire was to please God, to build foundations that could not be shaken. God has been so faithful to us each step of the way–we took the road less traveled by and that has made all the difference.

Today, I celebrated the 93rd birthday of my oldest, sister type friend’s mom’s birthday. We had a chocolate party for her (brownies, cake, cookies, candy bars and mousse–it was her favorites) She has lived through two World Wars, the depression, breast cancer, the deaths of her husband and two of her three children. Yet, she has lived to see God’s faithfulness.

This summer, fire devastated and destroyed 500 homes. Now we are in the midst of a crisis of flood over our whole state. This year, 3 precious ones have committed suicide that are dear to us. Several of my best friends have had cancer.  We could all be tempted to panic when life feels so uncertain. 

Yet, taking the risky roads less taken has taught me that God is trustworthy. He is in control, He will be faithful to us as we walk roads of faith. It is an important for us to teach our children to have the courage of their convictions to take the road less taken-the road of faith, the road of ideals. Life does not always turn out as we would expect it to, but God is always faithful. We all only have one life to live in which to live by faith in God, to trust in Him and rest in His peace when we are tempted to panic. We are given one life to live for His ideals and for His convictions. Then we will see Him face to face.

Let us be bold before His throne in this challenging time. Let us be of those who do not shrink back. Let us be of those whose hearts remain steadfast even in the midst of trials. God will be faithful to us. We will grow and be stretched and become less selfish and more mature and give our children a better model –if we stay faithful to his call upon our individual lives. He will call each of us to different ideals, but He will call us to step out in faith, in courage and in ministry. May His goodness and mercy follow us all the days of our lives and may we resist fear and live by faith until we see Him face to face. May God give each of you a special gift of His grace and peace in the midst of your trials. May He allow you to reflect on His beauty in creation as an example of His seasons and may each of you have a peaceful heart. Many blessings of His grace.

As Sarah recently wrote, “Hard realities–broken hearted facts are not ignored but faced with grace. This rises up with a lifestyle of hard work and community that, while never denying grief, yet seeks to move through life with a fragile but real hope.”

Indeed, God led us to take the road less traveled, and that has indeed made all the difference.

The Discipleship & Discipline Webinar

Over 1,000 moms joined us on the Discipleship & Discipline Webinar! If you weren’t able to attend the live course, now you can get it on-demand. If you would like to get access to the Webinar, simply click here. It was so much fun, and we are so excited to share this with you.
webinar

 

Keeping the magic and mystique in Marriage: 5 Ways to Date Your husband

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32 Years Ago this August, we committed to “Till death do us part.”

Marriage is the foundation for all families. Together, you and your husband are partners in writing your family story. Once the honeymoon is over and children become a part of our relationship, we need to be much more intentional about making time for our husbands. After being married for many years, I have learned that as a wife, I must always continue working at our marriage. There will never be a year when it is okay for me to become passive and settled. Whatever is watered will grow–and a marriage will always need to be a priority to keep growing.

As women, we often place very high and unrealistic expectations on our husbands when it comes to romance because of false expectations from movies, media and television. Many years of marriage are very demanding and depleting.  We just have to keep putting one foot in front of the other, between ear infections, miscarriages, sleepless nights for years on end, bills, moves, exhaustion, ……you know the routine.

Because women are often isolated in life–no friends as neighbors, no family close by, few kindred spirits–their personal needs build and build. When an exhausted husband walks in the door from work, it is a temptation to expect a husband to meet the needs that God intended a community of family and other women to fulfill. Women really do need the fellowship,compassion and sharing of life with other women in their same situation.

Often, we expect our husband them to be prince charming everyday on top of being a husband, a father, a friend, and a hard worker. While I wanted Clay to be the “leader of the pack,”, I realized that it meant  so much to him when I would intentionally cultivate the companionship and close relationship we had before children. Clay so appreciated when I would  plan dates and intentional time. It took a huge weight off of his shoulders.

The tips below are some ideas from our life to give ideas for you to plan intentional time and dates with your husband. They are all budget friendly, and many are free and don’t require a babysitter!

5 Ways To Date Your Husband:

1: Dine Al Fresco.
It is summer time, and nothing is more romantic than a warm breeze. Save money by cooking something lovely and having a date night in the backyard. Set up the ambiance at your patio table, or lay out a picnic blanket. Light some candles, let the children and pets stay inside, (Winnie the Pooh saved me many a night!), and enjoy some quality time.

2: Get Out!
It has been proven that couples who go for walks together have all around healthier relationships (physically, mentally, spiritually, and emotionally). Go on a walk at sunset with your husband. Hold hands, talk about your day, and enjoy the peace and quiet.

On occasion, even now most Sundays, we ride on a country road near our home in the quiet of the mountains with  our favorite music playing and just enjoy the calm of nature, mountains, meadows–greens and blues. When we lived in big cities, we would take a ride on the metro and just sit and talk!

3: Ask Questions.

In our busy lives with children, work, and a million tasks, we often forget to ask our husbands how they are doing. Set aside a few minutes of intentional time to chat with him. Men like to be strong, and not every guy has the personality to just ramble about everything that crosses their mind (like women do). Ask your husband how he is feeling, what he is excited about, what is overwhelming him, and how you could help.

Clay did not always tell me what was on his mind, but nonetheless he wanted me to care enough to ask and spend the time to open his own pressures and issues.

My mom taught me to wait until the time was right to talk about big issues that might create stress. So often, I would make a tasty meal, light candles and play calming music (most every night), and then after Clay had time to breathe off the stress of the day, I would bring him a cup of tea and just sit and visit. Then, when the atmosphere was clear, I would then bring up the stressful issues of the day. (Much like Esther waiting until after the King had been fed before she asked a request.)

4: Recreate Your First Date.
This is such a wonderful way to remember falling in love with your husband. If your first date included dinner at an Italian restaurant and a movie to follow, you can recreate that timeless moment at home! Cook up the pasta dish you had on your first date (you could even go online and print out the menu from the restaurant you went to). Rent the movie that you watched, and play it at home after your romantic dinner. You could even include the children in this night as a way to show them your love, and you could tell them the story of how you first met. Involving your children in this memory is wonderful, because it is crucial that your little ones view your marriage as something that is healthy, flourishing, and full of love.

5: Wake Up Early.
Sometimes, the only way we can find the time to be intentional is to wake up before all of the other tasks begin. Have a special, quiet, coffee time with your husband. You could even include a devotional in this time, or just take the time to pray together.

Clay does not like to compete with the demands of the kids. He would wait until the early mornings to have a cup of tea or to talk to me about things. Now we either have a short time before dinner where we focus on each other, or a cup of tea in the mornings.

Do life together and remember to honor your husband and take initiative when it comes to creating intentional time as a couple. It is a grace of a godly woman to cultivate an environment of peace and calm where her husband can feel confident and safe enough to share all the issues of his heart, both insecurities, failures, hopes, dreams and struggles. 

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Still, after all these years, and even more, because of our trials we conquered together, my beloved Clay is still “my man.” He has endured so much with me. Our story of survival and faith and unconditional love, makes our story all the more precious.

 

Our anniversary celebrating 29 years of adventures!

 This beautiful field of wildflowers is why I have been constantly crying and sneezing and scratching my eyes in the past 2 weeks!Hmmmmm—what is this about?

Twas the night before anniversary, and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse,

Mama drugged with allergy meds, and I in my jams, had just settled down for a short summer’s nap.

When down on the stairs, there arose such a clatter, I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter.

Away down the stairs I flew like a flash, tore open the vent, and there in the hallway, the blaring sound clamored.

5:07 a.m. Allergy medicine cradled my body and mind in the deepest of sleep when suddenly an ambulance two toned sound startled me awake. Trying to grasp where I was and what was happening, I opened my eyes to see Clay jump out of bed, heading toward the place where the sound was coming from. Within seconds Sarah popped down the stairs with utter amazement and Joel was mounting up the basement stairs sleepily staring all around to see what was going on.

Seems we have an alarm system that we didn’t even know we had and it was hidden in the heating vent below our stairs on our main floor. So stopping the sound required unscrewing the vent, and dismantling the wires that were connected to the alarm. How can you live in an home 5 years and never know you have it connected? After settling down from the noise, (which Nate and Joy slept right through!), Clay and I sat in our mom and dad chairs in the our den with cups of tea to soothe our frenzied minds. 

He looked over at me sheepishly and said, “Happy 29th anniversary.” Guess this is a little like our whole lives–unexpected adventure and different interesting moments all along the way!

Anyone else out there having adventurous days?!