Thursday, February 21, 2013

Our Sure Foundation

A few Sunday’s ago, while speaking on Jesus as teacher, our pastor recounted one of Jesus’ great lessons from the Sermon on the Mount. He spoke of the importance of building our lives upon a firm foundation in order withstand trials that are sure to come our way. As he spoke I couldn't help but compare my own life to the two men in Jesus’ story:

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash” (Matthew 7:24-27).

Over the years, God has blessed me in so many ways. One of those was, and is, the gift of my husband. God brought Roy into my life when I was quite young. I met him at college when I was 18 and shortly thereafter I knew he was the man God planned for me to share my life with. We married when I was 19 and he was just 22. Since that time, 31 years have come and gone, but through it all God has been faithful. We have shared much in our life together – children, homes, love, joy... And like many other people we have also had difficult seasons in our life. There have been storms that have come, either through circumstance or by human folly, that have left us battered and bruised. But because we have built our marriage upon the Rock of Jesus Christ, when those storms came, our house still stood.

In James 1:2 we are told not to be surprised when troubles come our way. Instead, we are to look at them as opportunities for joy because of what God will show us through them. We have found that to be so true. Without the challenges that we have faced together, we would not have seen God’s hand upon our lives in the same way. The miracles He has shown us would have remained hidden and the joy of His presence would not have been realized. In that same verse, there is one word that stands out to me…and that word is ‘when’. “Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.” God’s word doesn't say ‘if’ or ‘maybe’. It tells us that trials will come one day in one form or another. The wise thing to do is to be prepared. Just like the wise man who built his house upon a rock, our lives and marriages can withstand any storm that hits when we have built them upon life’s strongest foundation – Jesus Christ.

Roy and I are celebrating the joyful truth found as we have built our marriage upon the Rock -- Christ has enabled us to weather life’s storms and come through them victoriously! We remain confident that though challenging and painful circumstances sometimes will beat against our house, our God will remain the same. We are praising Him for His steadfastness and love. He has, He is, and He will strengthen us for all that we are to face, for our God is a God who supports us through every storm. He is our Rock and our Sure Foundation. He is Jesus Christ. Amen.

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Thursday, February 7, 2013

On The Quilt

Today my husband and I are going on a date.  It isn't a costly one, but an outing that has become one of our favorites none the less.  We have a plan.  We are going to pack some snacks and water in our backpacks and head up the side of a mountain!  We have come to truly enjoy hiking.  But, as I think about it, I realize that what makes the outing so special is not only that we are breathing in the fresh air and enjoying the beauty of nature, it is because we get to spend that time alone with each other.

Over the years we have learned that it is so important to continue to find ways to stay connected during each season of our marriage. When my husband and I had only been married a few years, and our children were young, there were times when the responsibilities of parenthood tried to out shadow our relationship with each other. You know those times… Toddlers and preschoolers running around the house always “underfoot”, play dates, and the constant busyness connected with caring for and loving our precious little ones. Don’t get me wrong, we loved those times and wouldn't trade that season as parents of young ones for anything! But, I also remember longing for connection with each other that didn't include holding a baby on my hip. Interestingly, it was during that time in our marriage that we didn't have access to baby sitters in order for us to even go on a date. However, not having a baby sitter or a lot of extra money shouldn't stop us from continuing to enjoy our spouses. We learned that a little creativity goes a long way toward deepening the bond in marriage.

"Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; 
and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God" (1 John 4:7).

It was a cold, rainy Saturday, when our children were 3 and 5, that my husband and I shared what to this day, remains one of our most favorite “dates”.  The kids had “rainy day” syndrome and were running around us in circles.  As Roy put it, “we needed a free-zone”.  I turned to him and said, “Let’s go on a picnic.”  And so we did.  He stoked up the fire and then went to the cupboard and pulled out a large quilt while I went into the kitchen and put together a quick lunch.  Then, together, we spread the quilt in front of our wood stove and laid the food on top.  The kids, who noticed our “strange” activity, were full of questions.  We let them know that “Mommy and Daddy were going on a date.”  They could play anywhere they wanted inside the house.  The only rule was that they couldn't touch or step on the quilt.  With that, we sat down and turned our attention to each other.  I must admit we were quite amused at our children’s reactions.  They quietly sat down only a few feet away and curiously watched us.  It actually was the first time they had been quiet all day!  But, as for our date, my husband and I enjoyed 45 minutes on that quilt, eating our lunch and talking about things other than our roles as parents.  The warmth from the wood stove added a cozy atmosphere and the humor of the situation increased our joy.  

"A cheerful heart is good medicine..." (Proverbs 17:22)

The lesson learned that day has carried us through many wonderful years together.  We learned that it doesn't matter if the money is tight or if there are no babysitters available.  We can always find ways to connect, one on one, with our spouses.  It is so important to foster that relationship and not allow it to drift simply because the demands of the day threaten to make us forget why we first fell in love.  All it takes is some creativity and resourcefulness.  God loves marriage and He wants us to succeed.  Our spouses are gifts to us and gifts that should be continually opened and enjoyed through each season of our lives.

“Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate” (Mark 10:9).

Living in God's abundance,

Joan

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Thursday, December 20, 2012

Keeping Our Best Friend Status

I can honestly say that my husband is my best friend. There is no friend on earth with whom I’d rather spend time! When we first met, we naturally wanted to spend as much time together as possible. We talked, we shared, we loved…and our friendship grew. It is this way in the beginning of most marriages. But why is it that sometimes, the friendship that blossoms at the beginning of marriage seems to wilt over the years? Is it because we get too busy with “life” that we take who should be our best friend for granted? Possibly. Or, do we simply not take the time to intentionally cultivate our friendship, and our best friend status fades? Maybe our attention turns to our children or family responsibilities. Many things can distract us from our relationship as husband and wife. However, it doesn’t have to be that way! We can have a vibrant, growing friendship with our spouse in any season of our marriage if we give our relationship the attention it deserves. 

That is what my husband and I decided to do…to give our marriage top priority. And, what we discovered is that being best friends with each other is one of the greatest perks to have in marriage! Not only do we get to love and live with our best friend, we have a built in encourager as we face every challenge and joy in our day! We don’t have to handle things alone, we have a best friend who is by our side. 

One of the main things we have learned about friendship over the years is that to have a friend, we need to be a friend. The things that we desire from friendship are quite often the things that our spouses want as well because the human heart longs for healthy companionship. A great exercise is to make a list of the qualities that say “best friend” to you, and then be that friend for your husband or wife. 

“Do to others as you would like them to do to you” (Luke 6:31).

The list of things that have developed and kept our friendship with each other as a “best friend status” is simple, really. Each is based on mutual respect and the desire to have all God intends for our marriage. 

  • Make being best friends a priority 
  • Put the marriage friendship first 
  • Have fun together 
  • Encourage one another 
  • Listen to each other 
  • Don’t judge or make demands 
  • Forgive and extend grace 
  • Show respect and honor for each other 
  • Make and spend time together 
  • Take an interest in what your spouse enjoys 
  • Be honest and hold each other accountable 
  • Love one another 

Basically, it is living out Christ’s “golden rule” and offering to our spouse what we ourselves most desire. May you find that as you live out the qualities you long for in your friendship with your spouse, your relationship with each other will flourish and you will enjoy a marriage abundant with God’s blessings! 
Best friends for life, 

Joan & Roy


Thursday, December 6, 2012

What If?


What if we believed our marriages were awesome?

What if we honored our spouse?

What if we expected only the best for our marriage?

What if we were excited to experience life with our spouse?

What if our desire was to grow old together?

What if our marriage impacted others in a positive way?

What if God hand selected our spouse?

What if people could see we are in love with our spouse?

What if we saw our marriage as a gift from God?

What if we praised God for our marriage?

What if we could change how the world sees marriage?

What if Christ were at the center of our marriage?

What if we put the same effort in our marriage as we do our work?

What if we told people we love being married?

What if we truly were as one in marriage?

What if we were thankful for our spouse?

What if we worked together rather than against each other in our marriage?

What if who we are together is more important than any fight?

What if Christ performed a miracle in our marriage?

...Why not?

Believing the what ifs,

Roy & Joan


Linked with: Faith Filled Friday, Spiritual Sundays