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!

Think Before You Speak

washingtonwhispers

by Cherie Werner

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.  Ephesians 4:29

 One of the greatest jobs I have as a mother is to instill godly character into my children. To do this, I intentionally utilize both resources and teachable moments. I have found that it is best to learn from life’s blunders.  Currently I am reading aloud and discussing the book Love As A Way of Life by Gary Chapman with my youngest daughter, Cayley, as well as the mom group I’m leading.  At the end of one of the chapters, I became convicted. There was a challenge to evaluate verbal interactions with others and determine whether or not the words spoken were kind. If any unwholesome words came to mind, the challenge encouraged you to take action and apologize.

My heart sunk as I remembered a phone conversation that I had with a friend. I sent the apology email below to my friend and then read it aloud to my daughter. Even though I was embarrassed by my blunder, I wanted to use it as a teachable moment. Words do matter and carry weight.

OK my dear friend, things just got real.  I just finished reading a chapter on kindness to Cayley and I was convicted.

I read, “To make kindness a habit, ask yourself after each verbal interaction with another person, what kind words did I say and what unwholesome words did I say?” I thought back to our conversation and was convicted.

 I realized that sharing with you about my disgruntles with ________ were not edifying or life giving.  I did looked up the quote you mentioned by Dave Ramsey concerning gossip which said, “gossip is defined as discussing anything negative with someone who can’t help solve the problem.”  So I’m apologizing for gossiping.

Words are powerful as they give life or death.  I desire to be known as one who spreads life. 

Love ya.

My friend wrote me back the following:

Your email made me think, what if the words about _______ were said in a happy, surprised, and excited tone, but because it was hearsay, and because of our filters, we assume it was negative?  It gave me a lot to think about.  The other thing that I want to sort through with you is where is the line between gossip and sharing our heart, and frustration with a friend.

Was I gossiping or simply sharing my heart and frustration with a friend? I wanted to know. Actually, I needed to know.

Two definitions of gossip:

  1. Dictionary – Casual or unconstrained conversation or reports about other people, typically involving details that are not confirmed as being true.
  2. Bible – One who reveals secrets, one who goes about as a talebearer or scandal-monger.

Gossip is different from sharing information in many ways. Below are some ways I feel the two differ but I’m sure there are many others.

  • Consider your motives for sharing? Are you seeking to build yourself up by making others look bad? We often feel superior to the person we are talking about which is prideful and often gossip.
  • Gossiping wants to share and tell a story for reactions. It is done repeatedly to many persons.
  • If you are hurt or angry with someone and desire to draw others into your pain wanting them to side with you it’s likely you are gossiping.
  • What type of information is being shared? Gossipers speak of the faults and failures of others or reveal possibly embarrassing or shameful details regarding the lives of others without their knowledge or approval.
  • Gossip usually occurs when you complain or talk about one person to someone who knows both of you.
  • Ask if what you are saying is helpful for building up the person I am speaking about by sharing this? Charles Spurgeon said, “Tale bearing/gossip emits a threefold poison. It injures the teller, the hearer, and the person concerning whom the tale is told.”
  • Ask yourself why you want to share this information, do you have permission, and if it’s necessary? Then consider whether you would share if the person you were talking about were present? If not, you are most likely gossiping.
  • It’s gossip to say anything about someone that will lower the listener’s opinion of that someone as gossip changes the way we see people.
  • Do you have a complaint about someone that you take to someone else who can do nothing about it? If so, then that is gossip.
  • Do your words build up and edify others? Gossipers seek to tear down others.
  • Kind words see the best in people and call it forth. Gossipers tend to focus on the negative and nit pick.
  • When someone is talking negatively about others it become gossip on your part if you jump into the conversation.
    • Don’t participate. Excuse yourself from a conversation that becomes full of gossip, to avoid “falling into” gossip games or socializing-by-demoralizing.
    • Encourage them to speak directly to the person who is involved as it’s biblical, see Matthew 18:15
    • Let gossip end with you. Help navigate the conversation to whatever is true, pure, and lovely.
  • Always remember your words are powerful enough to give life or death.
  • Will what you share glorify God?

With this particular situation, I decided that my friend might be right as I truly was sharing my heart. Nevertheless, I realize that it is a fine line. Next time, before talking to a friend about something, I will ask myself if what I am about to say is true, kind, necessary, or helpful? This whole experience has reminded me that it is important to THINK before speaking. “He who guards his mouth keeps her life, but she who opens wise her lips comes to ruin.”  Proverbs 13:3

T –is it true?
H –is it helpful?
I  –is it inspiring?
N –is it necessary?
K –is it kind?

In closing, I encourage you to ponder the following poem by Ann Landers. Personally, this poem really made me think deeper about a few things.

Remember Me?
“My Name Is Gossip. I have no respect for Justice.
I maim without killing. I break hearts and ruin lives.
I am cunning and malicious and gather strength with age.
The more I am quoted the more I am believed.
I flourish at every level of society.
My victims are helpless. They cannot protect themselves against me because I have no name and no face.
To track me down is impossible. The harder you try, the more elusive I become.
I am nobody’s friend.
Once I tarnish a reputation, it is never quite the same.
I topple governments and ruin marriages.
I ruin careers and cause sleepless nights, heartache and indigestion.
I spawn suspicion and generate grief.
I make innocent people cry in their pillows.
Even my name hisses. “I AM CALLED GOSSIP.” Office gossip. Shop gossip. Party gossip.
I make headline and headaches.
Before you repeat a story ask yourself. Is it true? Is it fair? Is it necessary?
If not – KEEP QUIET.

GREAT minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; shallow minds discuss people. Eleanor Roosevelt       

Which are you?

How do you differentiate between gossiping and sharing?  I’d really like to know. 

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.}

:: :: ::

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!

Let Them Drink of Me and Be Filled With Him

Whoever is thirsty, let him come and drink the water of life.

Lifeless words and a depleted posture reflected my soul as I breathed out my cry for relief.  Sharp and cutting, I invited them all to stick their straws in me a little deeper to be sure and suck up the last portion of me allotted for the day.  Downcast shoulders and outstretched arms certainly weren’t a warm invitation in welcoming others to truly come and draw from me.

For as he thinks in his heart, so is he. 

“Stick a fork in me, I am done” thoughts had been entertained too often.  My flesh believed that all of me was depleted by a certain hour of the day, investments had been made with intentional efforts and more of me could be offered tomorrow.

                Come to me, all you who are weary, and I will give you rest.

I sit at my Lord’s feet and he feeds, restores, fills and encourages me.  His promise to give me joy and peace as I trust in him is fulfilled in those moments.  He teaches me that my early morning times of feasting on him will never be adequate for the afternoon.  I must return, or better yet, I must keep sitting at his feet, even in my going and doing, letting him fill me.  In my gluttony, his banquet is never exhausted, his hope never depleted and his well never runs dry.  He is always more than enough for me.

                The jar of flour shall not be spent and the jug of oil shall not be empty.

The Spirit within me groans to pour out of me.  When multiple straws pierce me for their portion, I desire to let the life giving blood of Jesus fill them.  Let them drink of me and be filled with him, let them thirst for me because they taste the goodness of the Lord.  I am learning I can only be a filling portion if my own straw is embedded into the core of Christ.

My flesh battles my spirit, friends.   As I finger these words, I’m engaged in a quarrel with my own selfish desires.  The struggle is all too familiar.  In reflection, I know I must sit at his feet more, especially in my going and doing.  If his name and renown are the desires of my heart I must strive to become an open vessel of taking in from him and pouring out into them.  I want Jesus through me to be more than enough for them.

Increase our desires for you, Lord Jesus.  May we breathe soft answers that turn away wrath and speak wisdom that spreads knowledge.  Our hearts long to speak aptly, in season, so our families find joy and grace in us.  May our life-giving reproof be refreshment for their bones, may they gain intelligence and dwell among the wise because of our obedience to sit and drink from your cup.  Fill us up, pour yourself into us.  Let your love flow through us.  Father, fill us up.  May our hearts be cheerful and offer a continual feast for our family.

When You Need a Bit of Warmth to Get Through the Winter {Mom Heart Conferences in 2014 are Just the Ticket!}

bg-collageby Kristen Kill

The pudgy fingers of my toddler clings to my shoulder as I to type this, a bit slower than my usual speed as I listen for the cues in her breath that tell me she is still sound asleep. Her other arm is stretched across her brother. Yes, there are two of them that have taken over tonight, friends, finally sleeping soundly after one of those drag out bedtimes. Its not every night that my children collapse in my bed, but stretching back into a school routine has us feeling rather harried and just plain worn out. I’m weary and find myself wondering if you might be just a bit weary today too?

Ruth and Misty

The lists don’t ever end and as Autumn blazes on, we are already planning for Thanksgiving and then Christmas and up the hill for one final push to get us back on routine once again. The beautiful part about the cold of winter though? Tea and knitting and movie nights with popcorn….and Mom Heart Conferences. Because mamas,  bit of refreshment is in order for our own hearts and souls. At a time when several of us often feel the cold seems the bear the greatest chill and we aren’t sure we are cut out for this life you are carving and crafting at home, there is a place where you can come to be reminded of beauty and friendship. A retreat for your soul to be warmed and to exhale and recommit your heart to being a bearer of beauty and light and Jesus to our families. Maybe When you need a bit of warmth to get through the winter , you’ll think about joining us?

Our band who represent momheart and itakejoy,  love big and hug long and share openly. We’d love to get to know you; because maybe even more important than the rest (I’m talking sleeping through the actual night and eating a full meal and nibbling on chocolates kind of rest), is the linking of arms and gathering of hearts that want to live this life together.

This year, our conferences have some of the most encouraging speakers ever, a beautiful book table that is full of all the Clarkson Family favorites and opportunities to nurture your heart along side kindreds.

And friends? Right now, we are Giving AWAY a ticket! If you register before midnight on October 31st, you’ll automatically be entered to win a drawing on November 4th. If you win, your ticket price will be fully refunded- how cool is that?! Check out the details for the conferences below and visit www.MomHeartConference.com to register.

Mom Heart Conference 2014

Denver, Colorado- January 24-25, Denver Marriott South

Irvine, California- February 7-8, Irvine Marriott

Irving/DFW, Texas- February 21-22, Dallas Marriott Las Colinas

Click on the image below to see all the details about this year’s conference locations and speakers!

and this poster is printable or downloadable to share with your support group or blog!

MHC2014-PDF-PosterHOPE YOU CAN COME! WE WOULD BE SO PRIVILEGED TO HOST YOU, PRAY WITH YOU AND HAVE YOU IN OUR MIDST!

Would you help us please, and share with your friends on facebook, twitter and in your support groups? Thanks so very much! And please leave a comment and let us know if you have been to a momheart conference and how you enjoyed it!