Seventeen. That’s how many years I have been married to David. Four. That’s how many children we have had in those seventeen years together. Three. That’s how many deployments we endured together.
To say that our marriage has been through ups and downs doesn’t quite hit all those turning point moments. Some of them have turned our marriage for the worse and others for the better. No matter what we have gone through as a couple or individuals, we have seen marriage as worth the fight.
I understand that there are circumstances in which marriage is needed to end, after doing all you can to save it. These are heartbreaking for most who have to go through it. Fighting so hard for something that you cannot save feels like a loss of great magnitude and it must be mourned. It’s only natural. But, what if it can be saved? What if there was just one thing you could do together and as an individual that would 100% change your marriage for the better and only end up down the path of “for the better?” You would want to know that ONE thing, right? I would.
Well, I found it; that one thing that changed my marriage to head down the “for the better” path. It has saved me, us, him. It was exactly what we needed to strengthen and deepen our marriage as two people working together to be one. It says in Genesis 2:24, “That is why a man leaves his father and mother, and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.”
What is it, you ask? I can hear your voices saying “Go on! Get on with it! I don’t have all day!”
Don’t you love suspense?
It’s so simple.
Pray together. Prayer is the answer.
I am sure you are doing a palm smack to the forehead right now. Duh! I knew that! Here’s the thing: we pray as individuals all the time, especially if you call yourself a Christian, but we don’t always pray together as a couple. David and I didn’t. We were busy with kids and jobs and ministry. You would think that would bring us together to pray even more, but all those “things” and areas only pulled us from time together. We were not intentional by any means.
Sometimes, we take our marriages for granted thinking that they are always going to be there, that we are always going to have our husbands to run to when we need to be comforted or get advice on something that happened to us. We think that things are great when they are merely just good. Don’t you want GREAT? Don’t you want the strongest and very best marriage that you could possibly ever experience? Don’t you want to know that the fight was really worth it?
The Bible is full of prayer. It starts in Genesis and goes through Revelations. It’s safe to say that God delights, answers, seeks, and desires prayer. When we pray we communicate with God and that is when he starts to answer. It’s not always in our timing, but He answers.
David and I recognized that we needed something more for our marriage. We were in a rut. We were walking the day to day and not communicating well. Arguments were happening more often, we were divided on discipline for the kids, and we just were not working as one. We started to do this weekly course together. We watched a video from the host, answered the study guide questions, and we actually talked about them – discussion style. Many of the weeks were uncomfortable because we had to talk through past stuff from growing up to stuff that happened recently. One week, it took us two hours because we had just come from a two day stint of not talking at all – it was a good ol’ silent treatment fight. Yep, even after seventeen years! During the courses, I felt the need to pray together. I had been praying with the kids before we walked out the door to school and I thought, “What if I did this with David before he went to work?”
I humbly asked David to take lead and pray with me before he went to work. I wanted to release any control I would have over leading, I tend to do that, so he leads our prayers. It was awkward at first. He wasn’t used to leading in prayer, and I wasn’t used to praying with him. We never have a lot of time. It is usually about a minute. We sit on the couch, hold hands, and say a prayer for each of our days. He leaves for work, and I continue with my devotions or whatever I may be doing.
Ezra 8:23 says, “So we fasted and petitioned our God about this, and he answered our prayer.” Here is what you want to hear: our marriage is stronger than it has been in years. In the last few weeks that we have been doing this, our children have seen better communication, togetherness, love, and devotion. For the first time in years, I feel like I am “one” with my husband. David even came to me one day and told me that he is loving that we pray together. He said that he has a better day at work and is more calm. We can talk again like we used to when we were dating (don’t even try to count how long ago that was!).
If you don’t have a husband that is a praying man, start to pray on your own that God would take captive his heart and he would want to start praying with you. You may need to take lead for a while, but as God works in your husband’s heart, he will begin to start to take lead. Prayer can save your marriage. It is worth the fight. It is worth the time and effort. God designed marriage to be good.
Lord, I humbly ask that You bring together the men and women who have devoted their lives to living for You and cover them with Your love. Speak to the hearts of couples that need to go to You for strength in their marriages. May they see that You are the only way to strength and longevity. Humble Your people to pray, Your married people. Thank You for answering our prayers and caring so much for our marriages to succeed. Amen.
Worries and Requests
I remember when money was tight, and we prayed that God would give us money to get through the last couple of days until payday. The next day we came home from school and there was our dog with something in his mouth. It was a 20 dollar bill! It wasn’t much, but it got us through. I am so thankful we can go to our Loving Father and give him our worries and requests. Even when we feel that our requests are small in comparison to what others need or are going through, our Father still wants to hear them, and He will take care of us. I am so thankful that I matter to God and that he cares so much for me, even when I feel insignificant. It makes me sing the song “Our God is so big, and so strong, and so mighty, there is nothing our God cannot do.” Even allowing a dog to find $20! Share a time that God has shown you just how much He cares for you.
Recently my family and I made a trip to the grocery store to gather supplies for the next week’s meals and take advantage of the sales of the week. We checked out and loaded the many bags into the back of the van. Before leaving the parking lot, I make a habit of checking over my receipts. This particular day I realized that I had been undercharged by $1.00.
It was around eight in the evening and we had all been through an exhausting day that day. Everything in me wanted to go home. After all, these corporations wouldn’t notice and I shop there so frequently, they practically owed me right?!
Praise the Lord, He gave us a still small voice of warning when we should proceed with caution. What was I teaching my children about integrity if I simply drove away? Reluctantly, I dug through my purse, found a dollar bill, crossed the parking lot again and entered the store.
I got to the customer service counter and discovered because of the late hour they were closed. Uff! This wasn’t worth it. I stood in line at the checkout counter, waiting to talk with the teller. When my turn arrived I stood there, with no groceries in hand, and explained the situation. It’s amusing the looks you get when you to the right thing! Confusion is the first reaction, followed by a sincere appreciation of finding out honest people still exist. I paid my dollar and exited, back to my van where my family waited. We discussed the situation and conclusively decided even though $1.00 isn’t a lot and we could have gotten away with it, the thing that mattered most was the One who could see it all.
Do I think God cared about that corporation’s $1.00. Not really, but I do think He cared about my heart and faithfulness to do the right thing. I do think He cared about the lesson it taught my children. Was it inconvenient? Yes. Did it make a lot of sense? No. But, it was the right thing. I want to be found faithful in the little things so God will entrust me with greater things.
Father, thank you for the still small voice of warning so we can sense when we might be tempted to do wrong. May we truly be found faithful in the little things of life that some might overlook. Amen.
Harvest. The time is nearly here. And when you live deep in the heart of an Iowa cornfield, it is especially hard not to notice. There is a marked chill in the air and the corn stalks wave valiantly in stunning shades of gold. Change is coming.
Summer colors fade as a majestic show of warm hues settle across the countryside. Heavenly aromas waft from the kitchen: maple syrup, pumpkin spice, and cinnamon. So many lovely things happen in the fall as the whole world prepares to hibernate for a season.
I am not a country girl by nature, yet somehow my husband convinced me several years ago that buying an acreage in rural Iowa would be a good thing. And mostly it is. There is much to be done to be ready for the impending cold season. Firewood must be split and piled. Produce must be canned and frozen. Pies must be baked and devoured. And there is a cozy, old farmhouse to be cleaned and decorated as we retreat for a season to the indoors for hot apple ciders, fuzzy socks, and comfort suppers.
And Autumn comes. It is the dying of something good, to make way for something new. The “autumns” of life may bring sorrow, despair, and loneliness, but there is always hope. Always.
Even within the throes of an “Autumn” season, God is there, all the while, waiting to be noticed. I imagine He is saying something like, “Hello? Remember me? King of the Universe? If you would stop hyperventilating for just a second, I would like to invite you to be a part of something bigger than you are. Bigger than you dreamed. Bigger because I am God, and I can do it if you would just trust me for a moment.”
So we wait. And pray. And wait some more. And pray some more. And sometimes pretty big, hopeful things fall through, but God knows better.
And the heavenly winds shift, and though physical circumstances may remain unchanged for the moment, the heart softens into a sweet surrender to a compassionate God who knows what He is doing after all. It is the Lord’s plans that prevail, not ever our own, yet I am prone to forget.
To everything there is a season. The living and the dying. Everything.
May we experience the impending winter as a season of rest rather than merely death. For all that dies become new again. The seed falls, withers, and dies. Dormant. But in due time lives again, stronger than before.
In the crisp of an autumn breeze tumbling over the horizon, He whispers… “I make all things new.”
For the one who is tired… “New.”
For the one who feels less-than… “All. New.”
For the one who cries out from an overwhelmed heart… “I. Make. All. Things. New.”
May we seek and find God in every season. Consider it pure joy, Friends.
What have you learned from the “autumns” of your life? How did God restore in “winter?” Take time to thank God for the “new” things He is preparing for you.
“The grass withers, and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever.” Isaiah 40:8 (NIV)
What are you passionate about? What sets your soul on fire? This thought runs through my head often.
I adore my job, and I’m quite passionate about it. At the same time, there is nothing on this earth that I am more passionate about than my husband and children. My love and devotion for them cannot be described or
confined in adequate words.
There have been multiple times in the past almost 15 years of having children of my own that I have stood by their bed staring at them. My heart is overly consumed with my love and passion for them.
In those times of complete infatuation with them, God always quietly speaks, reminding me that He looks at me like that. His love for me cannot be described in mere words. He has that “lights my soul on fire” feeling for me, and nothing that I do or don’t do can change that.
The Easter account of the sacrifice that Christ made for us on the cross is often called, “The Passion of Christ.” I’ve always struggled to understand that title. The longer I pondered it, the more my confusion became clear. Christ’s passion is US. It is people. John 3:16 reminds us that, “God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” His passion for us was and is still so strong for us, that He sought us out, even at the price of the suffering and death of his son.
When I truly think on this and reflect on the truth of this love, this passion, and let it become so much more than a story, I accept that He looks at me and loves me even more than I do my own children.
Stop and think on that.
Don’t let the “Passion of Christ” be a story to you. Don’t let, “He loves you,” become common.
He loves you.
HE LOVES YOU.
The creator of the entire universe loves YOU.
He knows your name.
He sees YOU.
He hears YOU.
Let that sink in. Let that consume your heart. There is nothing you can do or have done that will change that.
He loves YOU.
YOU are His passion.
Amazing God, thank you for your love and passion for us. Speak to those who read this in a way that they will hear you, know, and believe that you have a passion and indescribable love for them. Thank you for who you are and how you love us. Help each of us to walk in that belief of your love and passion for us, even when life is not easy. Teach us to love others with a passion that reflects your love for us. Above all, thank you for your passion for us, through sending your Son to die, so we may live. Amen.
When Daniel was twenty, he gave his heart away to a young woman named Audrey. His first glimpse of her was during the bus ride home after returning from service in the Korean War. She was sitting near the front of the bus, and he couldn’t stop looking at her. At first he thought she was too young to be traveling alone, but then he watched her because she was quite beautiful. Audrey was eighteen and on her way to her aunt’s house to help her take care of her new triplets. Incidentally, Audrey’s aunt had married Daniel’s uncle; so, they were introduced by family and friends, were married a short time after, and Audrey became Daniel’s everything.
Daniel had met Jesus as a young person, but his relationship with Him hadn’t grown. Instead, Daniel filled his life with Audrey and the many other things he loved. He kept himself surrounded by books, luxuriated in classical music, spoke in witty prose and puns, and communed out of doors. He was a book-learned man. He was a thinker, a romantic, a naturist, an idealist. Throughout his seasons of life he sought knowledge and wisdom from the world around him. He kept journals and studied character, pondered human and animal kind, and had his writing was published. Audrey kept him humble, and their love grew like the successful little garden they’d made on the back of their lot behind their home that was nestled among the other “bread box” houses that sprung up in the fifties.
About the time Daniel and Audrey celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary, Audrey was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. The battle to keep her began. He clung to her for twelve long years as Audrey was very slowly taken from him. Daniel’s joy and life was consumed along with Audrey’s body and mind, a little more every day, every week. Audrey passed in peace on Daniel’s birthday in 2011. He was left embittered and angry with God. Daniel was sure he was beyond finding a place in God’s kingdom now, because he wasn’t about to make peace with the one who took his Audrey away. He withdrew into his thoughts and all the things he had left of her.
Daniel was my grandpa. A man I adored. I prayed so fervently for his salvation. I wanted so badly to see him on fire for the Lord. I argued with him about faith, about what the Lord says about consequences, salvation, and forgiveness in the Bible. He always just smiled and hugged me, and his answer was that it was too late for him. (Tears sting my eyes and swell my throat even as I write this.)
A little over three years after his beloved Audrey died, in April 2014, Daniel slowly lost everything else. One day he was trying to read an excerpt from his journal to my mom and dad, a passage everyone had heard him read many times before, but this time he couldn’t read the words and speak them aloud. He began to wander without understanding or comprehending what he was doing. Within weeks Daniel was unable to speak, to take care of himself, to feed himself, and, eventually, to eat or drink. Everyday something was taken from him until he became a trembling shell of a man sitting in a chair waiting for what would come or go next. It all happened so quickly, and this was the state he was in by the time I got to visit with him again. My husband took a day off work so we could all go down and be with my grandpa before he passed.
I walked into his room alone at first, and he showed that he was excited to see me. I had prayed for one last chance to share the truth of Jesus with him. I prayed that this would be the time Grandpa would allow it to penetrate his heart. As soon as Grandpa saw me, however, he excitedly motioned to me that he had seen Jesus, he had invited Him into his heart! Joy overcame me. I was given the gift of spending my last day with Grandpa Dan cuddling with him, praying with him, and closing our earthly relationship in peace, without regret. I will forever be grateful to God for such a gift. It was such a beautiful day and is a cherished memory for me. It was the last day Daniel was awake. He was tucked into bed that night and never regained consciousness. He died peacefully a night or two later.
During his life on earth, Daniel spent a great deal of time trying to gain knowledge on his own. When I read Proverbs 4:7 I think of him; especially when I read it in the New International Version. “Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding.” It did cost him all he had. He grew so stubborn that the Lord had to strip the man of everything until all Daniel had left was the breath that the Lord had breathed into him. That is when he finally gained understanding; that is when Daniel found wisdom.
Do not wait to make peace with our Lord and Savior. Do not allow even a speck to come between you and all that is yours with Him. He never said we would have it easy, or that we will be guaranteed to have all we want. No, what we gain is life that is fuller than we could ever believe possible. “Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh,” (Luke 6:21).
Heavenly Father, you are holy. You are magnificent. Forgive me the times I rely on my own stubbornness, trying to use my own knowledge without wisdom or understanding. I adore You and am in awe of you. Today I will cease striving and know that You are God, (Psalm 46:10a). Thank You for the treasures You give so generously and the opportunities You have given me for sharing with the ones you have given to me. Be blessed and glorified, Father, I pray this through the power of your Son’s mighty name. Amen.
I am thankful for timely gifts. These were a sweet gift from my husband after a stressful, sad evening. Sometimes there is a reason, sometimes there is not, but gifts always make me thankful and wanting to do something nice for someone else. What is a gift that you are thankful for?
It was the summer of 2003. Pulling into the old wooden shed after work one evening, I had a
thought. Often I shove my thoughts aside, but in this case I knew it wasn’t me.
I felt His whisper upon my heart to look up. Look up? Well that is odd.
I parked my car into the small, dark space and stepped out to look up. Staring above me was
something I hadn’t seen before. There was a dirty wooden storage area set up similar to a loft.
For no reason, other than a holy nudge I knew I was supposed to reach up there. My heart began
to pound as I climbed onto the hood of my vehicle, carefully standing up to not lose my balance.
I couldn’t see above the ledge, but I could reach far enough inside to feel around for what might
be tucked away. Feeling a little embarrassed at what I was doing, I considered hopping down
before someone saw me. But then it happened. I felt it. The very thing I had dreaded. Gripping
its edges, I pulled it down and starred at what I had assumed marriage would solve.
On the front cover the dark haired woman stared back at me with seductive eyes, as if to say I
My heart pounded. He would be home soon and I had a choice. My reaction was everything.
How was I going to handle this moment? I knew of his painful past before we married. I also
knew of his deep love for me. Yet, I was young and naïve.
The truth was… I really didn’t know anything. I didn’t know the depths of this dark addiction
consuming so many men. I didn’t know how it began or would even end. I didn’t know what this
said about me as a wife. Was I failing?
I carried the magazine into the house, sitting down on the couch in silence. Lord, help me, I
prayed. I knew I could freak out, kick him out and had every right to be angry. I also knew of
the cross. If God’s love for me knowingly meant His Son would be murdered, then could I not
love in the same way?
I heard the front door slam and my heart jumped as a knot formed in my throat. I felt sick. I
looked up as he entered into the room, strong and tall. He was filthy from head to toe, exactly
like a construction worker should look. Yet I saw the attraction behind all the dirt. His light blue
eyes, perfect smile and broad shoulders grabbed my attention… just like the first day we met.
“What’s wrong?” he asked. Concern in his eyes, I knew he could tell. I looked down in silence,
starring at the magazine sitting on the glass table. His eyes followed my gaze and rested upon
the evidence of his sin. There it was, completely out in the open. Would the truth set him free?
His shoulders dropped in shame. I didn’t say a word. I didn’t have to. Heaving a big sigh, he
sat next to me and dropped his head into his hands. “I’m so sorry, honey,” he said quietly.
“I know.” I gently replied. “But you have a serious problem and we need to figure this out.”
That day marked the beginning of a long journey and it started with God’s grace. I felt hurt,
betrayed and unworthy. I also knew my husband deeply loved me and felt ashamed of his
struggle. I had a choice. I could deny the problem and sweep it under the rug, I could panic, flip
out and become controlling or I could remain calm and embrace the situation at hand.
I decided to embrace it.
So in that moment I made the choice to educate myself on pornography addiction. Books and
broadcasts flooded my life. I quickly learned that the struggle had nothing to do with me.
Instead it was a symptom of the true root lying elsewhere. Like an onion, layers needed to be
peeled. So we started to peel, together, marking that day as the beginning of a shared passion in
the fight against pornography.
That day the Spirit flooded me with the ability to wisely restrain my speech and conduct. If He
hadn’t, I would have turned into a wicked and furious mess! I am so thankful for His grace. As a
wife, I have always been deeply moved by the story of Eve and why she was created. God
created her to come alongside Adam, as his equal partner and helper. He created marriage to
reflect His spiritual marriage to us.
And today I learned even more. According to Biblical Archeology Review the original Hebrew
language used the words ezer kenegdo while describing Eve in Genesis 2. Unable to find
English words that fit an exact translation, the closest words chosen were “alongside” (ezer) and
“active intervention on behalf of the other person” (kenegdo). Think about that!
Is it possible that Eve was not only created to come alongside as Adam’s helper, but also to
wisely intervene when necessary? If so, this is a crazy thought because sin hadn’t yet entered the
world! Which would mean what we already know – God knew! He knew the day he created the
first perfect marriage that it would eventually be attacked. Therefore, He gave Adam and Eve all
the tools they needed to fight… in advance!
May we stand our ground, ladies. This is our territory and Satan does not belong here!
Houses and wealth are inherited from parents, but a prudent wife is from the Lord.
~ Proverbs 19:14
Dear Lord, Thank you for the stories of your grace and mercy in our lives. Give us
strength to see you through our stories, trust in you, and above all, come alongside the
spouse you have blessed us with. Help us to always actively intervene on behalf of them.
Please give us wisdom and strength to be the woman you created us to be. Amen.
Disclaimer: This article has been submitted based upon the approval of my husband. The nature of our story is
raw. We understand that exposing our struggles to the public comes with the risk of ridicule and shame. However,
we have been called to use our pain for a purpose in glorifying God. We do this through multiple avenues, one of
which is writing.
Saving Money With Essential Oils
I love saving money and repurposing, reusing, and resourcing things! So ladies, do not throw away your “empty” vitality EO bottles! You can cook with oils, but when the oils seem to be gone, don’t worry, we can use them one more time! Do not wash the bottles, but simply fill the with the sea salt (we absolutely love Redmon’s Real Salt! It does taste better, I am convinced of it). Let the salt sit in the bottles and absorb the last of the oils on the walls and button. Shake it well, and enjoy your flavored sea salt!!!
Here are some ideas :
- Lime salt would go well with fresh pico de gallo, fiesta lime chicken, and fish tacos.
- Basil salt will compliment caprese tomatoes (simply sauté cherry tomatoes in the hot oil with fresh garlic, salt to taste, add mozzarella on top). Basil salt will also compliment any other tomato sauce or simply sprinkle on pasta with butter.
- Rosemary salt will compliment any of your favorite lamb recipes, poultry stuffing, roasted potatoes.
- Lemon salt will explode the flavor of shrimp and garlic, chicken dishes will also benefit from the lemon salt.
- Oregano salt will transform your pork chops, any Italian red sauces, or try oregano lemon chicken.
*You can also get creative with various marinades using EO flavored salts .
Enjoy the pure product of the ingredients you can pronounce and enjoy the family time around the table!
“When did this happen?” I asked my husband, Scott.
“When did what happen?” He asked back.
“When did our children become so old? We have a junior, freshman and a 7th grader.”
“After they finished school last year,” he said smugly.
I gave him a look and just sat, remembering each of them at different times in their lives. I thought of 3 year old Bjorn, with his “Bob own tool” set helping Scott build a doghouse for our then, puppy Rex. I remembered Serena, so tiny and little, dressed as a Vikings cheerleader, giving me kisses and being a little love bug. Then I thought of our wonderful surprise from God, Brock, and his way of always getting into crazy predicaments. All these memories brought happiness to me.
We only have our children in our care for a short time. Mary must have realized this too. She knew that Jesus was special, the shepherds came and bowed to Him. The bible then says, “But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart,” Luke 2:19 (NIV). Later in the story (Luke 2:42-52), Jesus goes missing. Mary was worried and scared. They found him, three days later, at the temple in Jerusalem, teaching the rabbis. Mary said to him “Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.”
Jesus replied, “Why were you searching for me? Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” They didn’t understand what he was saying to them. It goes on to say that, “Mary treasured all these things in her heart.”
We, as moms, grandmas, and even aunts should use Mary as an example and treasure our moments with our children. All moments, the great and the trying times. God has only entrusted them to us for such a short time. Take those moments and treasure each and every one.
Dear Heavenly Father, thank you so much for our little ones, even if they are not so little anymore. Please help us treasure the moments we have with them and not take them for granted. I pray for guidance, and that we allow your will in their lives be done. Amen