Let’s talk about Marriage

I have had a very sad realization dawn on me recently – that there are many more couples around who really don’t like each other than those who delight in one another.  We have all heard how “marriage takes work”.  I hate that thought.  It is so negative to me.  It almost promises drudgery.  I see it more as marriage takes deliberate and conscious attention and every thing you are willing to invest in each other you will reap for the long haul – if you are really in it for life.

I want to offer 2 keys that can facilitate sweetness in your marriage, that will help put you both back on the same page, if you are not feeling that connectedness with your spouse anymore.

The first is called “Couch time”.  Everyone hears and knows that communication is paramount in a good marriage.  Really this is true for any relationship with another human.  But for many, that is a nebulous concept.  Let me give you some tangibles here – to make this more concrete and attainable.

Couch time is something you do on a regular basis with your spouse.  Ideally, it should be done daily.  But at least, as a norm, seek to do it 4 or 5 times a week.  This is when you sit down, with your spouse, or even go for a walk, but without kids in the immediate vicinity.  Look at each other, eye to eye and talk.  Focus and give each other true and undivided attention.

My friends with 13 kids – do it every morning over coffee.  Consequently, they remain connected and still like each other.  Some do it as soon as they both get home from work, after greeting the kids, while dinner is cooking.

David and I do it every night around midnight, after we are through with all the kids for the evening.  That works for us because we are both night people.  You must choose a time that works for the both of you – physically and emotionally.

Try not to make this a gripe session, because then your spouse will begin to dread the time together.  Though realistically speaking, such is life and occasionally we have to have those times.  But as much as possible, try to make it a time of delighting in each other and hearing and appreciating each other’s heart.

We talk about whatever is significant to either of us in any given day.  If it is something that matters to either one of us, we want to hear about it, good, bad or indifferent.  You may start out with 15 minutes a day – it is so much better than nothing.  We usually take about an hour.  This isn’t the time to discuss the business details of family life, though that can certainly be added on.  But it is time to connect at the heart level and to understand where you both are today with life, people, and things.

Because most couples don’t make this kind of connection time a priority, they go their separate ways emotionally and eventually realize they are emotionally divorced, or at least separated and don’t know how it happened.

This takes a life of effort and intention but it is worth every drop.  Every ounce you invest in connecting with each other’s hearts reaps a rich harvest in relationship.  It greatly intensifies the sweetness between you and the feeling of being each other’s greatest supporter and cheerleader.

And we all need that – no matter what we are doing in life.  Your children will have a built in security that won’t be easily swayed when they see their mother and father delight in each other.

We have all heard the facts on how prevalent divorce is… but have you ever heard the one about couples who honestly pray together?  Only one in every 1,250 gets a divorce.  This isn’t about going to church together, or even reading the Word together – though these are indeed good things.

But this is referring to the couples that get down and be honest with God before each other.  Not preaching to each other, but telling God the raw vulnerable truth together.  Create a place of vulnerability and spiritual intimacy in your relationship with your spouse. Commit to not using that heart information against one another.  It does amazing things to put both partners on the same team together and to feel they are on each other’s side.

For example, if in prayer, I confess to God that I am feeling very insecure in my home schooling,  David doesn’t beat me up over that, but talks it through with me afterwards, and always brings me back to a strong place.

Another point here I would like to make…America is so all about counseling and therapy now, you know what I mean?  I am not negating that, but David and I have truly found the Holy Spirit to be the counselor that the Bible refers to Him as – and better than any human being could possibly be.  When we are at an impasse, we get down on our faces together and cry our hearts out to God – raw vulnerability – and then we lie still and wait for the Holy Spirit to come to us and give us what we need to go on – and He does!!! It is amazing and we highly recommend it!

So, if you are feeling unconnected to your spouse – commit to some couch time and watch things begin to change in a most beautiful way.  And then try praying together.  This creates the most beautiful intimacy, that unfortunately most couples never even taste.

Don’t miss out on God’s heart and intention for your marriage – it really can be the most fulfilling relationship you have ever dreamed.

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Sh*t Happens

Not to be read by the weak of stomach or spineless

About 3 weeks ago, we had a big double birthday party for some of our dear friends.  As the last guest pulled out of the driveway, our septic system began backing up and overflowing into our home.  All of a sudden, we noticed 2 inches of poppy swamp in our utility room.  And then it began coming up through a hole in our kitchen, and the pantry and even my master bedroom walk in closet.  (No idea why they put a floor drain hole in my closet, underneath the carpet??)

This all occurred late Saturday afternoon and we couldn’t get someone out to fix it until late Tuesday afternoon.  With 12 people in the house we went three days without flushing potties, or doing the normal 5 loads of daily laundry, or running the 8 dishwasher cycles.  It was a disaster, to say the least.

By the third day, I was honestly ready to have a complete meltdown the very hour before we got things flowing again.  I didn’t – because I went outside and “got God’s attention”, and He met us within the hour with a temporary solution.

We found out our septic pump had completely died and would need to be replaced.  This took weeks to come in, so the following Saturday night, the entire scene duplicated itself and again it was Tuesday night, because of Labor Day, till we could use the water and band-aide the situation again.

The pump is actually being put in today and now they tell us the main computer board, for the whole septic system got fried in an electrical storm and also must be replaced.

So…how is that for “sh*t happening”?  There is a point to my story though – so stay with me…  There are always nuggets to be gleaned through any of the crap of life.

The other night at Bunco, I was sharing our crazy saga with the girls and one asked me how my kids deal with these situations?  I realized no one ever griped about it or got mad, soured, or blamed anyone, as we humans tend to do in a crisis.  Everyone really worked together and made the best of each mini-crisis that came up.

We always teach our kids that we are a team, and in this all together.  We approach every challenge as a team, who will get through each and every obstacle or circumstance victoriously and make the most of every situation, especially those beyond our ability to control or remedy immediately with our own strength.

And I believe life is full of such ordeals.  And we maybe should prepare for a future of big things going down in America, such as a temporary shutdown of some or all utilities – that could happen and it could last for months.

How will your family deal with something like that happening- emotionally and spiritually?

It would behoove us all now – when times are still somewhat good – to begin to teach our children how to truly thrive – no matter what the circumstances.

Even to begin to ponder daily, as a family, the fact that “God is good, all the time!”  Teach this so that even when bad things happen, their core foundation is not shaken.

Most mothers know the tendencies and weaknesses of their own family.  Think about this and how you can more adequately prepare your kids for a real life crisis – when things don’t go as normal.  Pray and ask the Lord to show you specifically the things that you can do with your family – to help them to deal more graciously with the trials of life that come, because they do come and they need to know how to rise above them.

My family honestly doesn’t fear whatever the future may bring, because their security is so much more in Father God, than mere circumstances.  You really can’t duplicate that learning experience of real life, it has to come through the hard times with circumstances less than ideal.  They know He will always prevail and can be trusted to make all things right.  And they truly believe Father God Himself will always equip them to deal with whatever any day could bring to them.

You can give your children this legacy heritage – they will need it!  Ask the Father how to do this in your family and He will show you – as promised in James 1:5.

Compassion

I want to share a neat story of something that happened in our home last week.  Our character virtue we were studying on Monday was compassion.  I had told the kids the reason Jesus healed everyone that He did was because He was moved with compassion for them, and touched them and they were healed.

On Tuesday night I was playing with my baby Mercy on my bedroom floor.  (She turns 2 years old this week!)  I was laying on my back and she would run at me from across the room, as hard as she could and jump on me.  The funny thing is  – she is the most frilly and feminine little girly girl, but so tough from having 7 older brothers.

Every time she landed on me one of us would be slightly hurt again with something new on our bodies (from her roughness) and then we would laugh.

Well, the last time, I actually thought for a moment nothing got hurt and then she began screaming.  She screamed, cried and carried on worse than any injured child I ever had,  for almost 30 minutes!  She literally cried and hurt far worse than when she completely broke her wrist about 6 months ago.  It was her other hand and her thumb this time – I knew something had to be broken.

I finally called all my 5 youngest ones that were in the home at the time to come and pray for her.  As soon as they placed their hands on her body to pray, she began to simmer down.

I reminded them of how Jesus healed because of His compassion.  I encouraged them to focus and pour all their love for her into her body to bring forth healing, as we prayed for her.

She immediately quit crying and proceeded to get down on the floor and show me she could lift herself up. She was pushing down on the floor with both hands normally.  It was truly miraculous!

Immediate healing!!!

And not one more moment of pain that night or the next day or ever since we prayed for Mercy.

May we all learn the true power of compassion.