Wedding Ring Issues

Don’t miss the Ultimate DIY Bundle–the sale is OVER TONIGHT! It’s a whole library of 76 ebooks and ecourses on Sewing, Photography, Gardening, Homemade Gifts, Decorating, Scrapbooking–and even turning your crafts into a small business! I love this bundle.

Check it out here.


Reader Question of the WeekWhat does a weding ring really mean?

Every Monday I like to post a Reader Question and then take a stab at answering it. I’ve had two questions lately about wearing wedding rings, so I thought I’d try those today!

Should you always wear a wedding ring?

One newlywed writes:

I’ve been married about 6 months now. The problem I’m having is my husband often forgets or chooses not to wear his wedding band. Sometimes his hands swell up and it doesn’t fit his ring finger (on these days, if he wears it, he puts it on his pinky finger, which isn’t a problem). Also, his parents work in a factory, so they don’t often wear their rings; he may have developed the habit by seeing his parents’ use of their rings. He also may not see the wedding ring as important as I do.

To me, though, the wedding ring is important. It’s our way of telling the world “I’m taken, I’m off the market.” When he doesn’t wear his ring, I feel as though he doesn’t find it necessary to tell the world he’s taken. It seems as though he spends less time with his ring on than off. I only take my ring off for sleeping, doing dishes, or showering, and it hurts to see that he wears his so rarely.

I’ve mentioned to him several times that I would like him to wear it, and he usually says something about “It wasn’t fitting today” or “I forgot it” but doesn’t actually change anything. Sometimes, if we’re on the way out the door and I see it sitting somewhere, I’ll mention it and he’ll put it on without saying anything or making an excuse, but I don’t want to turn into a nag–I want him to wear it because he wants to show the world he’s married, not because I bug him to.

How can I approach my husband about this without making him feel guilty? I don’t want to cause a fight, but I do want him to see that this is a topic I feel strongly about.

Interesting! Here are a couple of thoughts, in no particular order:

Why you should wear your wedding ring--and your husband should, too!

Make sure his wedding ring fits

Honestly, it’s odd for a man’s hands to change size that much. It could be that his ring is a little on the small side. If his hands swell up a lot and he can’t wear it often, perhaps having it enlarged by half a size would help. I’ve had to have my ring resized several times over our marriage, and my husband has had his resized once. It isn’t really a big deal, and if it’s that much of a problem, it may be worth looking into. People’s hands really don’t change in ring size that dramatically that frequently, so it honestly could be that it’s too small.

Taking your ring off means you’re more likely to lose it

I don’t take my ring off for doing the dishes, showering, or anything. I really NEVER take my ring off unless I’m making meatballs or bread or doing something with food prep that would get it all over my ring. If your ring is sized properly you shouldn’t have to take it off.

Remember, the more you take it off, the more likely you are to lose it. It sounds like he takes his off and leaves it around the house. Bad idea. That is a recipe for losing it! If he needs to take it off for some reason, have him take it off and leave it in a particular place.

Also, if you wear it all the time, it feels really, really odd to have it off. It could be that he’s never worn his for long enough periods of time to make it feel normal to have the ring on. Encouraging him to wear it straight for a week (when it’s been resized) may help to get him to wear it all the time.

Some people have to take their rings off for work

Your husband’s parents had to take them off working in the factory. My husband takes his rings off when he’s in surgery or when he’s working with premature babies. But he always puts them back on. He hides his ring in the car, and then as soon as he’s done work, he puts it back on again. So if your spouse has to take it off at work, perhaps encourage him (or her, if you’re a guy reading this) to leave it in the car so that it’s on at all other times. (I know it can get stolen in the car, but that’s a really remote possibility if you hide it well).

People SHOULD wear their rings

At all times, in public, it’s good to wear a wedding ring. It does show the world you’re taken. It absolutely is important.

So, with that being said, here’s really the most important issue:

Talk to him openly

The real issue here isn’t with rings. It’s with how they learn to communicate the things that are important to them. And I just wonder from this letter writer’s question if she has ever sat down with him and told him flat out how it makes her feel.

I think that many of us assume our husbands know how we feel, and are making a deliberate choice to disregard our feelings and do what they want. But in my experience, it’s far more likely that he has no clue what you’re thinking. And even if you hint at it, (“I see your ring on the table. Do you want to put it on before we go out?”), he may have no idea how important this is to you.

It’s early in your marriage now. You need to get in the habit of sharing how you feel. This doesn’t mean that you have a fight. This is simply sitting him down and explaining how you feel, and then making a request of him.

If he chooses not to follow your request, then you’ve got a bigger issue and you’ll have to decide how to deal with it. I do have other posts on resolving conflict, and you can look them up in my Marriage FAQ page; many are listed there. But with most issues like this, he likely doesn’t know. Unless you talk openly and don’t beat around the bush and make an honest request (“I’d like you to wear your ring unless you can’t because it could get wrecked/dirty”), you don’t know whether he would willingly wear the ring. It may be something he’s just never thought of and doesn’t realize is important to you. So try being open about it, and see what happens!

Can wedding rings lose their significance?

Here’s a very different slant on the wedding ring question:

My husband had an affair and with God at the center of our healing we are working through it. We believe that we have a new covenant within our marriage. The issue is that I still cannot bring myself to wear my rings. He wears his, and I am okay with that since I did not break my vow. I feel that my husband made a promise with the ring he placed on my hand, and he has broken that promise. The ring is not worth a lot monetarily, but it has sentimental value. We plan to renew our vows soon and my husband is going to propose and marry me all over again. I struggle with using the same ring this time or purchasing new rings for a new start. How do you feel about this. Is it just a gem and piece of metal that can be blessed again, or should it be stored away?

First, I am so glad that you are fighting for your marriage and rebuilding it! That is wonderful. An affair does not necessarily mean the marriage is over, and I have known so many couples to emerge even stronger. So great to hear!

As for the ring, if you would like a new one, I don’t think there’s a problem with that (if you can afford it). If you want to use the old one, I certainly think that can be blessed, too. It’s really the meaning that YOU give to the ring. If you would feel more comfortable and excited about a whole new start, and he understands that, then by all means get another ring. But if you want to say, “we’re together forever, and we’re never giving up,” and using the old ring can signify that, then that’s all right as well. It’s what you both think that matters.

So I’m going to throw this one out to the readers and ask them: would you get a new ring if you were in this reader’s position? Or would you use the old one? Leave me your thoughts in the comments and let’s help this woman!

10 Projects You Can Do This Weekend with the Ultimate DIY Bundle!

Ten years ago I used to have a little soapmaking business. I ran out of time to pursue it, and all of those materials sat in my storage room. But a few months ago I decided I was going to start making some things again! And lately I’ve made some lip balms, started learning about aromatherapy (it can do major things in the bedroom!), and creating new lotions to attack problem areas.

And it takes just minutes.

And it’s fun! I love crafts. I’ve been a knitter my whole life, and there is just something about creating that makes us feel more productive, more purposeful, even more in line with God. God, after all, is creative, and when we can tap into our own creativity, I think we touch an important part of ourselves that is often dormant.

And so I’m excited to share with you today about the The Ultimate DIY Bundle– a collection of carefully curated DIY and crafting eBooks and eCourses from the world’s leading authors and bloggers in the industry.

For the crazy low price of just $34.95, you get access to a carefully curated library of over 76 eBooks and eCourses. And let me reassure you that this really is great value: the Ultimate Bundles team (who produced the resource) has spent MONTHS seeking out the most respected experts in the industry and asking them to contribute their premium-quality eBooks and eCourses. These really are the best of the best when it comes to DIY and crafting advice and information.

Topics in the bundle include:

  • Home decor
  • Furniture painting
  • Photography
  • Chalk pastels
  • Handmade gifts
  • Homemade skincare products
  • Cake decorating
  • Photography and photo-editing
  • Paint colors and interior design
  • …and a whole lot more (76 eBooks and eCourses in total) – to help you be inspired or get started with your next DIY or crafting project!

There’s no need to worry about information overload though: The Ultimate DIY Bundle comes with a complete guide to getting started, so that you can know exactly which resource to use for your specific crafting or DIY project and jump straight into it with confidence!

Hurry though! The Ultimate DIY Bundle will only be on sale for 6 days – from 8am EST on Wednesday, January 21 until 11.59pm EST on Monday, January 26.

But when you buy it, you get access to the books right away. And you can start crafting today! I’ve been having such fun looking through the books, and I wanted to share with you TEN ideas that you can do this weekend to get yourself feeling more creative and productive!

1. Lime Coconut Body Scrub

Lime Coconut Body ScrubIt’s just epsom salts, Vitamin E, some essential oils–and some actual lime and coconut! If you don’t have any essential oils on hand, you can often buy them in a health food store, or get them on Amazon. I use them all the time now (and I’ll be posting soon about 10 ways to use essential oils in the bedroom!)

It’s from Kimberly Layton’s Homemade Gifts for Every Occasion, part of the Crafts collection of the Ultimate Bundle:

2. Make Gift Bags Out of Old Clothes

I love using gift bags for hostess gifts, birthday gifts, thank you gifts–even gifts when I speak! And the book Reuse, Refresh, Repurpose (also in the Crafts section, above), has some great ideas on how to make purses, bags, and gift bags out of old clothes! Your kids will love doing this with you, too. It’s simple–you could make a dozen in a day.

Gift Bags

3. Spray Paint Old Knick Knacks White

I loved this idea from 21 Inspiring Thrift Store Transformations! Take ugly knick knacks, like old trophies, animal figurines, or pitchers, and spray paint them white. She explains how, and all of a sudden they’re useable again!

Paint White

She also lists the 10 most important things to watch for at a thrift store–the things you can use easily. It’s awesome, and it’s part of the Home Decor section.

4. Choose New Paint Colors

Need a pick-me-up for your house? How to Choose Paint Colors (in Home Decor, above) helps you choose your style, understand color theory, and see how all elements work together! Read it today, pick out the paint tonight, and go to it!

paint colors

5. Figure out How to Use Those Camera Settings

Have a great camera, but don’t know how to use it? Say No to Auto is a simple book that explains what terms like ISO, exposure, and shutter speed mean, and how you can manipulate them to take great photos–no matter the conditions! It doesn’t take long to learn, and then you can spend the weekend practising.

Say no to auto

It’s part of the photography section.

6. Get Ready for Mother’s Day!

I love this Mother’s Day Pillbox–it’s part of a book of printables for gifts for every season of the year. And you can put 7 Mom Quotes in the pillbox, too, to show her much you love her! I think making these with the kids for Grandma would be a riot, too.

Mom Pillbox

It’s part of the Crafts section, above.

7. Use Your Scrapbooking Stash

The bundle also comes with a bunch of e-courses, and one of them helps you take all your scrapbooking extras–and figure out how to use them up! Love it.

Use Your Stash

Here’s just one of the amazing ecourses offered!

 8. Scan Your Old Photos–and Use Them!

You can even scan your kids’ artwork (you can only put so much on the fridge), their first writing projects, and more! This ecourse also teaches you how to organize your digital files so you can find things easily when you need them (like, for instance, when you have to start preparing a slide show for your daughter’s wedding. :) Tee hee. My daughter just got engaged!)

Scan Photos

It’s part of the e-course section, above.

9. Make Your Own Household Cleaners

I made up a batch of laundry soap last night using the recipes from this bundle! And it’s so easy (and cheap). Most of the ingredients you likely have on hand right now.

cleaners

The book Clean & Simple is part of the Home and Garden Section.

 

10. Learn to Knit Socks

I couldn’t leave knitting off my list of 10, since I love it so much! With this bundle you also get a ton of free bonuses, including a Craftsy video course of your choice. And I’d recommend Lucy Neatby’s course on knitting socks. I’ve knit about 30 pairs of socks, at least, in my life, and I just love them! You can keep them in your purse because they’re a small enough project, so you’ve always got something on the go!

knit socks

So there you go! 10 Reasons to Get the Ultimate DIY Bundle.

There are crafts for everyone, and you’re sure to find something that you’ll love.

You can buy with complete confidence because you’re covered by the Ultimate Bundles 30-day money-back guarantee. That means you have a full 30 days to enjoy all the eBooks and eCourses in the bundle, and if you don’t think they provided enough value, you’ll get a full refund.

Not only that, but The Ultimate DIY Bundle comes with 5 awesome bonuses, worth over $150. That’s 4x the price of the bundle alone! These include…

A free $15 Store Credit PLUS 8×10 Art Print from Hope Ink ($43 Value), a free online class from Craftsy (up to $60 Value), free $15 store credit to Fawnsberg.com, a free sewing pattern PLUS a Premium Video Class from UpCraft Club ($19.99 Value), and free, full digital copies of Where Women Create Magazine and Greencraft Magazine ($20 value) from Stampington and Co.

So, don’t miss your chance to grab The Ultimate DIY Bundle, and get 76 incredible eBooks and eCourses for just $34.95. All you need to do is take action by midnight on Monday, January 26!

This amazing deal ends in just…

motionmailapp.com

Pick up your copy right now, before it’s too late. Or, learn more here.

Have a fun and crafty weekend!

 

 

Disclosure: I have included affiliate links in this post. Read the fine print about this bundle and read the answers to frequently asked questions about the bundle.

 

How to Increase Your Chances of Marriage

Don’t miss the Ultimate DIY Bundle–the sale is on now until January 26 at midnight! It’s a whole library of 76 ebooks and ecourses on Sewing, Photography, Gardening, Homemade Gifts, Decorating, Scrapbooking–and even turning your crafts into a small business! I love this bundle.

Check it out here.


How to Increase your chances to find a spouse--and spend your twenties well!

Lately I’ve been preoccupied thinking about dating, engagement, and marriage (because my daughter got engaged! Yay!). And so I’ve written a number of things lately on why young people should prioritize relationships even in college, and why you need to be careful who you give your heart to. But there’s one more piece of advice that I have for late teens early twenty somethings, and it’s going to be controversial. But I’m going to say it anyway.

If you want to get married, then make yourself available to get married.

That may not sound controversial yet, but here’s the thing: that’s actually the opposite of what we’re often taught in church, and it’s certainly the opposite of what kids will hear in school. And my fear is that many young people who desperately do want to get married are acting in ways that make marriage less likely.

First, though, a caveat: Marriage is not the most important thing in anyone’s life. God is the most important thing in anyone’s life. And you can have a full and complete life without being married. I am not saying that we should raise our kids to obsess over getting married or to worry about getting married. But I do believe that if this is a goal that they have that they should live in such a way to make that goal more likely.

So here’s where the controversial part comes in: if you spend five years teaching English in Japan or China or wherever, you decrease your chances of finding a spouse. That doesn’t mean you WON’T find a spouse; you just decrease your chances. And it certainly doesn’t mean that if you feel called by God to go somewhere you shouldn’t go; it’s just that I think many twenty-somethings want to have these “experiences” before they get tied down, but in so doing they limit their chances to get tied down.

If you want to get married, it is smart to spend your time where there are large numbers of potential mates.

I have a young friend named Daniel who felt called to go to the mission field, so he moved to Central America in his early to mid-twenties. Yet while leading a youth group from North America on a short term missions one summer, he met a youth group leader. A woman. Who was wonderful. And they married recently. I know another young woman who was serving in India who met the leader of another short term missions group, and they were recently married. If God is calling you somewhere, you go. Absolutely.

But studying abroad for a year? Taking a few years to backpack across the world? Even living for two years on a cruise ship? Nope. If you want to get married, and it’s really important to you, then go where you will find a whole ton of young, Christian potential spouses.

There’s another exception: I heard the story recently of one man who became a Christian at 22 after leading a really messed up life. He took the next two years on the mission field just serving so that he could get to know God better. After that, he came home, went to seminary, met his wife, and the rest is history. Sometimes we need those few years to find ourselves if we have a lot of issues to deal with. But if you don’t, then don’t take yourself out of the pool of marriageable people at a prime time in your life.

I have served on the mission field with my husband AFTER I’ve been married, and we’re planning to again. Getting married does not end your dreams of travel or service. In fact, I’ve traveled more and served more since being married than I did before I was married.

Be very careful about what kind of post-secondary education you choose.

I would venture to say that about half of married people met their spouses in school–either in high school or in college. Those school years are vitally important, because they occur right at the time that we’re getting to the age where marriage is possible, and we’re with the largest number of people our own age at the same time.

And I think that’s why so many people send their kids to Christian universities. You get to meet other Christians, after all! There’s a reason we call them Bridal Colleges, not Bible Colleges!

But hold on a second. The majority of Christian universities have a terrible sex ratio of about 70 girls to 30 guys. Think about that: for every guy, there are at least two girls. So if you have a daughter, do you really think that’s the best place to send her? (If you have a son, he’s practically guaranteed to meet a wife. A daughter? Not so much.)

It may certainly be the best place if it’s the education you’re after, but having been to a secular university and attended the Inter Varsity Christian Fellowship group there (and met my husband there), I can tell you that you can get a lot of Christian training at the secular university Christian groups, too. In fact, those Christians are often extremely strong in their faith, because they’re in a secular environment but they’re choosing to spend the majority of their free time in Christian study and service.

That’s where my daughter met her fiance, too. And the opportunities for learning evangelism are amazing! My daughter has become a major evangelist when she didn’t even know she had the gift.

Secular university is not for everyone, but I’m just saying that one shouldn’t assume that one will marry just because you go to a Christian university. If you’re female, your chances are actually better at a Christian group in a secular university where the sex ratios are more even.

If you do choose a Christian education, then, make sure it’s in a city with a wide range of church options that have large college and career groups, so that you can meet other people in a church setting.

Don’t just believe “God will send me a spouse if I trust him”

A lot of girls (and it’s especially girls) are sitting at home on Friday nights, reading Christian books, watching romantic comedies, eating ice cream, and praying that God will send them a spouse.

And that seems like trust. They’re wrestling with God about not getting anxious about it. They’re learning to let it go. They’re not obsessing.

But does God really do that? Does God answer our prayers without requiring us to do anything at all? Is that the best way of demonstrating trust–to remain safely in our comfort zone, not doing anything scary, while waiting for God to show up? Or does he want us to stretch ourselves a bit?

It’s scary to join a whole bunch of college and career groups. It’s scary to invite people back to your house for dinner or for movies and popcorn. It’s scary to take up people you don’t know well on their offer of “do you want to hang out on Saturday?” But the truth is that most of us marry someone that we meet through our social circle. You meet a friend of a friend, or a cousin of a friend, or a brother of a co-worker. You know what I mean.

But to do that, you have to have friends. Hang out where there are other strong Christians. Volunteer in places that you care about. Serve in a lot of ministries in church. Serve on short-term missions trips. Go to weekend retreats. These are all great places to meet a wide variety of people–but, even better, they’re all great places to build your faith and to build yourself as a person.

In the church, we often give people the message, “You can do whatever you want, and God will provide.” I don’t think that’s true. I think we need to prioritize and put first things first. If you hibernate for five years in grad school, never talking to anyone, I’m not sure a mate will just show up. If you stay living at home after high school in your small town with few Christian marriageable options, then I’m not sure a handsome perfect guy will suddenly move in next door. Sometimes we need to move away to a larger city with bigger churches.

Sacred SearchThis is one of the main messages in Gary Thomas’ excellent book Sacred Search, too. If you want to get married, then get serious about making friends and growing your social connections. Live out your dreams!

Look, I am writing this for people who want to get married. If that is not your main goal–if you are focused more on career or on missions or on something else–then that honestly is fine. I believe that God puts stirrings in our heart that we are to follow.

But my fear is that we are not teaching young people the common sense facts about finding a mate. So if marriage matters, make yourself marriageable, and that includes putting yourself out there. It’s scary. It takes some risk. It takes a lot of time–you won’t get to stay home and watch Netflix as much. But it is worth it, and I encourage you, if it is important to you, to get out there and live a big life and meet lots of people! Then, even if you don’t marry, you’ll still have a wide circle of friends, a wide number of interests, and a really full life. And that’s worth it, too.

 

Their Dreams, His Agenda: God’s Plans And Purposes For Your Children

Don’t miss the Ultimate DIY Bundle–the sale is on now until January 26 at midnight! It’s a whole library of 76 ebooks and ecourses on Sewing, Photography, Gardening, Homemade Gifts, Decorating, Scrapbooking–and even turning your crafts into a small business! I love this bundle.

Check it out here.


Today, please welcome guest author Sarah Francis Martin from Live it Out, as she shares about God’s plans and purposes for your children and how to help them walk in it.

God’s Plans And Purposes For Your ChildrenFrom the back seat I heard my son emphatically declare, “Mom, I have an idea…” The tone of his voice told me that he had been marinating on this idea for the better part of the day.

Gearing myself up for a good parenting moment at the steering wheel driving home from school, I inquired about this great idea.

My six year old: When I grow up I’m moving to New York City. Yeah. That’s what I’m going to do.

Me: Oh yeah? Well, you know that’s a big city and you have to work hard to be able to live there.

My six year old: Ok! I will do what Daddy does, you know, make money. I’m gonna work hard and make money and buy legos!

Me: Well, sounds like you have it all figured out.

My six year old: Yep, pretty much.

As I recount this conversation I remember that my initial inclination upon receiving this “big news” was to guide my son along in this “big” life decision with a real, honest look at it.

I was tempted to almost squelch this dream with questions of practicalities:

What job will you have?

Will you make enough money?

Will you thrive in a big city?

We live in a small town, and I know the allure of a big city with exciting tall skyscrapers drove this declared life path of my six year old.

Over the past year I’ve been marinating on the topics of dreaming, life paths, and purposes. The idea of seeking after God and His presence in my life parallels with the topic of purpose and dreaming. How do we marry the two in order to make a difference with our lives and find satisfaction in God and His agenda? How does taking our place in God’s kingdom allow us to find this ultimate satisfaction?

As I’ve taken more of an adult perspective on this weighty topic, the “big idea” conversation with my son caused me to look at it from a different angle.

Facilitate God’s Dreams And Purposes In The Lives Of Your Children

The following excerpt from my book Just RISE UP!: A Call To Make Jesus Famous speaks to our interactions with our kids about their dreams and purpose. It takes a perspective of the individual, adult nature. But, as I’m circling back to this material myself, I find that it applies to my interaction with my six year old dreamer as well.

There’s a verse that I’ve read in passing before and probably even doodled on a note to a friend as a means of encouragement to her. God reminds us of His Word at just the right times for encouragement. I’ve got this heaviness on my heart in my own journey to rise up, as I want to be used by God. He has planted dreams in my heart, but doors have yet to open to allow me to fully walk through and live these dreams out. I hide ideas and plans in my heart, often checking to make sure they came from the Lord and not from my own fancies. If you don’t quite identify with this, know that it is okay. But if the idea of joining God in His kingdom work and making Him famous gets your heart pumping, that means the Lord is working in you and through you.

Here’s that verse: I am confident that the Creator, who has begun such a great work among you, will not stop in mid-design but will keep perfecting you until the day Jesus the Anointed, our Liberating King, returns to redeem the world. (Philippians 1:6 THE VOICE)

This great work God is doing in our lives starts with the work God does inside our hearts and minds. The word work is appropriate in my opinion as I imagine Jesus using His gardening tools while digging up roots of pride and jealousy in my heart, patting down fresh soil of trust and peace, watering my God-given talents. And if we believe Scripture, He will continue to toil, root out, plant afresh, and grow beautiful blooms in my life and yours—blooms that will RISE UP! and flourish. Even a novice gardener like me knows that before a plant comes to full bloom time, care, pruning, watering, and sunlight are in order.

Excerpt from Just Rise Up! by Sarah Francis Martin. Download a FREE Chapter from all three new Inscribed Studies Here. (No email required)

We have the privilege of working alongside the Lord to care, prune, and water our children’s life purpose. Just as we take care to nourish their bodies and minds, we can start today to nourish their souls and guide them to seek after God in all aspects of their lives.

As it is a process in our own lives, this endeavor won’t come to full bloom for some years in our child’s life. But there are a few key things to keep in mind along the journey.

Model An Attitude of Kingdom Perspective

We all know that our children are like sponges, soaking in even minute details from their environments.

My husband and I have started to become more intentional in sharing details of what we do as a family and as individuals to serve the Lord. We have learned the importance of taking time to explain on a six year old level why our family gives money to this ministry, or why mommy wrote that book about Jesus. Life gets busy and it is tempting to gloss over details like this during the rush to basketball practice!

Depending on your child’s maturity level, help them work through their own calling from God within their world. Explain how God uses them to be a sweet friend to the new girl at school. Or how they share the love of Jesus when they stand up to a bully on the playground on behalf of another kid. It’s neat to think and pray together about how God works in their lives at such a young age.

Nurture Your Child’s God-Given Talents

I love exploring my child’s gifts and talents and characteristics. It’s important that we spend time in prayer asking God for wisdom to best facilitate these gifts and talents.

How do we accentuate them and draw them out?

How do we express to our child that God blesses them with unique and individual gifts and talents that only they can fulfill?

Be The Soft Place To Land

This is one that I constantly have to remember: to allow space for dreaming and planning. I think this is best achieved when we help our child work through these dreams and plans in their own prayer lives.

If our child trusts us with their “big ideas” knowing that we won’t let practicalities squelch their passion, they will see that their Father God is the ultimate safe place as well. When we seek after the Lord, knowing we can trust Him, we become more in tune to where He is moving in our lives. Our hearts become open to following that path which will be fruitful and fulfilling. Walking with our children in this lifelong process can be exciting.

Several weeks after my six year old made his big city declaration, we sat together as a family watching the popular show American Ninja Warrior––a favorite in many households with boys. As we cheered on the men and women and heard their stories of hard work to get where they are in this physical competition, I could almost see the little cogs turning in my son’s mind. Another declaration burst out from his mouth, “I’ve changed my mind. I’m moving THERE.”

Before I could explain that he would have to train hard and sacrifice much physically to attain this goal, I let that practicality go for the moment. In the lives of our children, dreams and fancies transform and bloom. But it is God’s plan and His kingdom that never changes.

As long as our children take a stand on this firm foundation, they can not go wrong in their life purpose.

Sarah Francis MartinSarah Francis Martin is a wife, mother, friend, mentor, author and wanna be artist. She has a passion to ignite this generation to get up off the couch of complacency and do life differently for God’s kingdom. When she is not typing away at her laptop, you can often find Sarah on date nights with her husband, rough housing with her young son, or getting her hands messy with craft paint. She is the author of Just RISE UP!: A Call To Make Jesus Famous

Wifey Wednesday: When Should I Give My Heart Away?

When should you fall in love? Two things you need in a guy before you give your heart away!

“I’ve met someone I really like–but should I fall in love with him?”

When is a man worth falling in love with?

It’s Wednesday, the day that we talk marriage! I introduce a topic, and then you all can comment or link up your own marriage posts. And today I want to talk about PRE-marriage: when is a man worth falling in love with? I have so many women on this blog who aren’t married yet, and I’d like to share some thoughts with them.

I spent the weekend with a lot of 18-24 year olds, and then, of course, my daughter got engaged, so this topic kept coming up. I’ve written before about the 4 things you need in a husband, and those are so important. But I thought of another way to look at it today that I’d like to share.

So let’s imagine this: You’re 19, and you notice a guy that makes your heart flutter a bit. You get to know him, and you start texting and meeting for coffee. At what point do you let yourself emotionally invest in him? At what point do you give your heart away?

I know that it’s not easy to protect your heart, but I’ve always tried to teach my daughters to be wise and not to think about being with someone with whom it would never work. Just don’t even think about it!

But when is it okay to start down that road?

I’m going to assume first of all that there is some kind of spark. That’s usually what starts this whole process, after all! So I’m not going to mention that. Instead, here are the two things that are important:

He has to have good character; and he has to treat you well.

That’s it. Just two things! Let’s explore them a bit.

1. Don’t love somebody without good character

He simply has to love God, be wise, and be a steady, reliable person. Under this category would be most of what I wrote in my post on the 4 things you need in a husband.

Sacred SearchYou need someone that you can serve God with, because that is the purpose of our lives. As Gary Thomas wrote in Sacred Search, Matthew 6:33–Seek ye first the kingdom of God–should apply when choosing a mate as much as it should apply anywhere. Seek God first, and you will choose someone who is also seeking God whom you can serve with.

Ironically, if you are a strong Christian this is often the easy part. Finding another strong Christian, when you belong to a good church or are involved in college & career groups, isn’t hard. And here’s where the difficulty comes: you find someone that does love God, that you can picture serving God with together, and your heart starts to flutter. You begin to imagine the two of you married, or having kids, or whatever. And that’s a danger, because you also need the other element:

2. Don’t love somebody who doesn’t treat you well or invest in the relationship

You may have found someone with good character–but if they’re not willing to invest in the relationship and treat you well, it’s not worth it. If you’re the one always texting them and arranging to meet up; if you have to remind him to call you; if you sit at home and wonder if he’s thinking about you and you have absolutely no idea–then don’t do it.

I fell in love hard when I was 18. He had amazing character, I thought: he led the campus prison ministry (our university was in a big prison town, and a lot of the campus groups were involved in prison ministry); he was planning on going on the mission field; he led Bible studies. He was a lot older than me, but he was impressed with my dedication to evangelism and God, too. And so we started seeing each other, if that’s the term. But he didn’t want anybody else to know, likely because he knew his friends would wonder why he was dating a first year student. And he was also planning on going around the world the following year to do missions work before medical school.

I was madly in love with this guy. I would have followed him anywhere, had he asked. But he didn’t. He liked being with me, he liked having my devotion, he liked all the perks I brought–but he wouldn’t invest anything of himself.

If you are the one who is invested more in the relationship, you need to guard your heart. You can’t force someone to love you. They have to come to that themselves. It’s better to take a huge step back and leave it in God’s hands than to chase after someone. If you are meant to be together, God will let it happen. But if you force something, you set up this dynamic where you’re needy and you’re trying to keep the relationship going. And that’s awful!

One more thing: treating you well does not equal making out. Perhaps that seems obvious, but here’s what often happens: you totally love someone, and whenever you get together he kisses you and it’s amazing and you feel so close. And then he’s gone for a week and doesn’t text you. A physical relationship makes you feel close. It insinuates that you love each other. It makes it seem like, “he must be invested in me!” But it doesn’t necessarily mean anything of the sort. He may just like kissing you. Don’t mistake physical affection for treating you well; in most cases, it’s the exact opposite. If a guy will kiss you breathlessly but then not text you or call you for a while, he’s DEFINITELY not worth your attention. Don’t let hormones warp your judgment.

Don’t settle for just one criteria

When I was having a heart-to-heart with one university girl this weekend, I said to her: You have one guy with a great character who doesn’t treat you well, and one guy who treats you well but doesn’t love God that much. Neither is worth your heart right now. Move on and grow yourself, even if that’s difficult.

Because that’s really all you can do.

If a guy has a great character, and he falls for you, he will most likely treat you well. But a guy with a great character can still treat you badly if he’s immature; he’s not ready for a relationship; or he’s too focused elsewhere right now. He may be a great guy, but that relationship is doomed. Don’t invest in it.

Then I know another young woman who just broke off a four year relationship. He treated her well and worshiped the ground she walked on–but he didn’t love God and he wasn’t motivated to get a job. Ultimately, you can’t marry someone like that.

Most heartaches are caused because we sacrifice one point

Most of the time that we get our hearts broken it’s because one of those conditions isn’t met. Either we pursue a relationship with a guy we’re attracted to but who isn’t ultimately right for us because he doesn’t love God or is lazy or is self-centered, and then we have to break it off after giving him years of our lives, or we fall for a great guy who just isn’t ready for a relationship.

Every heartache that I can remember in my life, except for one, was caused by sacrificing. If you are with someone who invests in the relationship and who is good to you who also has good character–it’s rare that that relationship won’t work if you are both praying people. If you’re both listening to God, then things likely will work out well. The one heartache where I had both was with my now-husband. He broke off our engagement, and then came back a few months later. But even then, he was worth giving my heart to!

So don’t do it. Don’t give your heart away unless you have both.

I know it’s hard to look around you and feel alone, like there’s no one that you can imagine marrying right now. I know it’s nicer to have someone to think about and dream about. That’s natural. But don’t do it. Don’t dream about someone who hasn’t returned your affections. And don’t even think about falling for someone who doesn’t love God.

Just a note to those living with someone already

And now, a final word for those of my readers who are living with their boyfriends, but the relationship isn’t going anywhere. I get a ton of people on this blog for marriage advice, and even though this is a Christian marriage blog, I often get people who aren’t Christians. And that’s fine. That’s wonderful. I’m glad you’re here!

But I’ve had so many comments left lately saying something like, “I love my boyfriend and we’ve been living together for four years, but he won’t get a job,” or “I really want to marry my boyfriend, but I just found out he uses porn and he never cleans up around the house,” or “My boyfriend never wants to talk to me or do anything with me. He treats me like a roommate he gets to have sex with. I love him so much, but how do I get him to treat me well?”

One of the problems all of these women have is that they are already living with these guys. They’ve given so much of themselves away–without the men having to give much of anything back.

Living with someone before marriage is really dangerous. It makes you feel closer than if you were just dating, which makes it harder to break off what may be a very dysfunctional relationship. Here’s a post I wrote for women who need to put the brakes on a relationship and see whether it’s worth it.

WifeyWednesday175Now it’s your turn! Leave the URL for your own marriage post in the linky below. And be sure to link back here so other people can read great marriage posts!

And can you all do me a favour and share this post with young people you know? Let’s get the word out! Just put it on Facebook, Pinterest, or Twitter!



Top 10 Ways to Make a Marriage Retreat Meaningful

Today, on Top 10 Tuesday, I’m welcoming Shannon Hale, from Distracted by Prayer, to talk about creating a do-it-yourself marriage retreat–that’s meaningful!

Do-It-Yourself Marriage Retreat 10 Ways to Make it MeaningfulHave you ever paid top dollar to attend a marriage retreat? My husband and I have gone that route several times, with mixed results. Sometimes we come home renewed and refreshed, other times we return to our same stressors plus more issues that were dredged up during the getaway.

Don’t get me wrong, there are some great marriage retreats out there, but after twenty years of marriage, we’ve we probably have enough information about becoming spiritually closer. Our challenge is finding time and energy to put all that knowledge into action.

Last summer, in a moment of rare insight and focus, we stumbled upon a revolutionary idea.

Why not create our own retreat?

We could take all the elements we loved about church events we’d participated in and add our own touches.

If the idea of a self-guided marriage retreat sounds appealing to you, read on and learn from our mistakes and successes.

1.  Start small
Keep your budget and expectations very reasonable. We left on Friday afternoon and returned on Sunday morning. This experience will be quite different from a vacation, so keep it manageable.

2.  Be specific
To borrow a popular advertising slogan, “Just Do It.” If you keep putting a marriage retreat off until the perfect time and place present themselves, it will never happen.

My husband chose the location and booked the arrangements while I set up a loose schedule. We agreed ahead of time to divide the responsibilities this way and graciously accept the other person’s decisions.

3.  Prepare your heart
We arrived at the retreat center fresh from the fray of parenting two middle schoolers. My husband’s parents had graciously agreed to watch the kids, but that meant a road trip in order to drop them off.

Life seemed to come to a screeching halt when we entered the doors of the retreat center, and it took us several hours to adjust. Next time, we’ll plan in some “prep” time to decompress on the way to our destination.

4.  Expect obstacles
On the final stretch of our journey, we got in one of those fights. You know the kind, when you remember feeling really annoyed but you can’t for the life of you remember what all the fuss was about. As we pulled into our parking space at the retreat center, my husband turned to me with a strained smile and said, “Let’s not start this way”.

It took Herculean effort on my part, but I decided to put away the argument and begin again. Had we kept that little tiff going, it could have cost us a weekend full of blessing.

We found this retreat practice much more powerful than we expected. The enemy knows the effectiveness of united marriages, and he’ll probably throw a curve ball your way.

5.  Agree on a schedule
Set out to fill your time in chunks, rather than hours and minutes. Plan to sleep in or stay up late if it fuels your soul. Buy two copies of the same book or leaflet and read it simultaneously or aloud, and plan for times of silent contemplation.

If you’re like most married couples, one of you will be stuck to the clock more than the other. Don’t let your differences derail you. Agree on the elements you’d like to include in your time together and fit in as many as feel comfortable.

6.  God is your “spiritual director”
Don’t try to direct or convict each other, none of us responds well to that kind of manipulation. Ask for God’s help focusing on yourself during this retreat and give God complete freedom to speak separately to your spouse.

I must confess, this point was the most difficult for me. My husband seemed to sail through the weekend without a care, while I wrestled more to enter God’s presence and feel His love.

7.  Prepare for surprise
On the heels of #6, open your heart for whatever God may want to say to you. I entered the weekend with a laundry list of questions and unresolved issues to wrestle over with God. But, during my time of solitude, God brought to mind a completely different topic- body image.

He impressed on me the difference between the way I see my body and the way He created it. I realized I had bought into the world’s values in this area, and it was affecting my witness and even my intimacy with my husband.

Remember that God’s idea may be completely different than yours and open yourself up to it.

8.  Spend time apart
Saturday was our only day without travel, so we mapped out a simple schedule of eating breakfast together and then going our separate ways. We agreed to meet up again at lunch and talk about the morning.

We had about two and a half hours to explore the retreat grounds, read Scripture, listen to music and pray. After living with a hectic daily schedule, that time alone felt like a luxury.

9.  Schedule time to share
We met each other for lunch and took about an hour to share what God was saying to each of us. I’ll have to be honest, there were no earth shattering revelations, except that we returned to find each other more peaceful than either of us had felt in quite some time.

10.  Make a memory together
Our retreat destination was a secluded, woodsy area with several walking paths. One our last day together, the two of us decided to hike to the top of the longest, steepest trail. At the end of the exhausting trek, we were rewarded with a breathtaking view of the Blue Ridge Mountains, a sight neither of us will forget.

Look for an activity you both enjoy- maybe something you ordinarily wouldn’t get an opportunity to try. Perhaps you can pick up a special souvenir along the way to remind you of your time together.

If you’re hungry for a breath of fresh air in your marriage relationship, but looking to try a new approach, perhaps a self-guided retreat is just what you need.

It very well may be the most memorable decision you’ll make for years to come.

shannonhaleShannon Hale has been blogging for five years at Distracted by Prayer. She is the author of How to Pray When You Can’t Sit Still, and she’s been featured in The Upper Room devotional and Focus on the Family’s Thriving Family magazine.

My Daughter Is Engaged!

On a Daughter Getting Engaged

Today my oldest daughter turns 20.

On Saturday she said yes.

We’re having a wedding this summer!

We’ve known they were getting married for a while. I told them that if they wanted to be married this summer, they needed to let me know, so that I could book a reception hall, etc. And I did. But starving students need some time to save for a ring and to propose the right way.

He did so very romantically and gallantly, and she said yes, though she was sobbing so much she doesn’t remember all of it.

So here we go–a huge chapter in her life, and another one in mine. I shall have to figure out what to share here, since it’s not all my story.

But just a few things that Keith and I have been thinking over the last year that may be of help to some of you.

1. You just have to be there.

It’s hard when your child moves to a different city and you can’t see them all the time. They get a new life with friends you don’t know, and suddenly you’re out of the loop.

And when we started hearing about a certain young man, we figured that we had better make more of an effort to take weekends and travel up. Or even drive the 3 hours there and 3 hours back just to have dinner with them. We wanted to know him before anything serious happened.

I know that’s not possible if your kids live on the other side of the country, but as much as you can, see them. Sacrifice your weekends, even if you’re busy, to travel and check in on their lives. Skype a ton.

2. Invite the significant other into your family activities as much as you can.

It’s easy to feel like you’re meant for each other when you’re in a semi-false environment, like school or a missions trip or something. I always figure that if two people are going to be able to decide if they would really work long term then they have to actually see what the person’s real world is, and to see how that other person fits into your world.

So last summer Katie, my youngest, was competing at international Bible quizzing for a week. She was in the dorm rooms. And we took Becca and Connor camping in our tent trailer close to the competition. That’s right–Mom, Dad, daughter, and boyfriend, in a twenty-four foot tent trailer for a week.

If he can survive that, he can survive anything!

4ThingsNeedinaHusband3. Character matters

I’m increasingly convinced that the most important factors for who you marry are character issues: does he love God, does she love God, and are they both mature enough to handle this?

Does he bring out the best in her? Does she bring out the best in him? I haven’t always seen that side of their relationship, but I hear stories that make me happy.

I wrote a post a while ago on the four things you need in a husband, and they definitely are met here.

Is your friend marrying the wrong person? Top 10 questions to ask her to help her make a good decision (because that's what friends do!)4. Let Them Go

At some point, you realize you’ve raised them, you’ve launched them, and now it’s time for them to make their own decisions. If you see something that seriously concerns you, you must say something (and I have a post on the 10 things you should ask someone who is about to get married. I’ve definitely gone through these with Becca!)

But if not, you have to trust that you raised them well enough to make a good decision. And it is their decision, not yours.

If I were to have picked a husband for Becca, I’m not sure who I would have chosen. But what I’ve learned over the last year is that Becca has more insights into herself than I do, and she picks better than I would have. She picked someone who understands her, who is loyal, who is fun, but best of all, who knows how to calm her down, handle her emotions, and get her back on track. Those are qualities that are indispensable. I might have looked for other things, but then I think she would have ended up far more stressed in the long run. She knows herself better than I do. She’s a wise woman. And we need to let our kids be wise.

Sacred SearchOne thing I did do for Becca was make her read Gary Thomas’ book Sacred Search two years ago. It’s a great book about how to choose someone to marry. If you have a single adult child, I’d really recommend the book, for men or women. It gets to the heart of the matter of how you choose wisely. And I am glad that she has chosen wisely.

(By the way, we’re reading Gary Thomas’ book A Lifelong Love as part of our Ultimate Marriage Reading Challenge this month!).

5. Have fun!

It is fun having someone else in your family! My daughter Katie has done a series of photobombs of the two of them. She’s getting quite good.

Katie photobombHere’s one from two weeks ago. (The best part is that they’re on the second story. Katie’s on a stool on a bush in the snow).

So we’re about to get back in the car and drive back home and hopefully I’ll get to talk to my daughter before her birthday is over!

And I’ve come to terms with the fact that she’ll be young when she’s married. In fact, I do believe that marrying young can be a good thing.

But if you all have any advice on weddings, I’d love to hear it in the comments!

 

Why I’m Anti-Divorce and Pro-Remarriage

Thoughts on the biblical grounds for divorce, what it says about remarriage, and to value both marriage AND divorced people in the church.

On Tuesday I made quite a stir on Facebook. In regards to this post on when you should give up trying to get your ex back, I wrote:

I’m having to delete a lot of comments on the blog today from people saying that divorce is never a biblical option. I find that sad. I know God hates divorce–but He hates people being wounded and abused and betrayed, too. And Jesus gave us some reasons for divorce. Anyone who reads my blog knows that I am very pro-marriage and anti-divorce, but more importantly I’m pro-truth and pro-healing. If a marriage is based on abuse, manipulation, and lies, then that is not God-honouring, either. Most of these situations are not black and white; they are grey, and I believe God’s grace is there for us. If I let those comments through, I fear that they will do emotional damage to the very hurt and wounded people whose marriages have fallen apart who wind up at my site. We need to be pointed towards following God in the situation we find ourselves in now, not being yelled at for very tortured decisions we made earlier.

The outpouring was immense, and so I thought I should do a follow-up and explain what I really think about divorce and remarriage. Please keep in mind that I am not a theologian. I have just thought about this a lot and prayed through it, and this is what I believe.

Divorce Is a Last Resort–and there are only a few reasons for it

I am absolutely against divorce. I’ve written that the vow matters. I’ve questioned whether women are leaving marriages too fast. I’ve said that sometimes we live in a loveless marriage–and we need to find a way to get through that.

However, with that said, I am also fully aware that sometimes divorce is necessary, and sometimes divorce happens when you didn’t want it to. My father left my mother. My mother certainly never wanted to divorce, and it pulled the rug out right under her. But divorce wasn’t her choice.

Then there are those who live in a dangerous marriage. For them, too, divorce was likely not what they wanted–but they had no option.

What are biblical grounds for divorce?

The Bible lists two: adultery and abandonment.

Adultery

Matthew 19:9 says:

And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.

Abandonment

Then 1 Corinthians 7:12-15 says this:

If any brother has a wife who is not a believer and she is willing to live with him, he must not divorce her. 13 And if a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him. 14 For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy.

15 But if the unbeliever leaves, let it be so. The brother or the sister is not bound in such circumstances; God has called us to live in peace.(emphasis mine)

Clearly Paul here is saying that if a spouse leaves you, you are no longer bound.

Notice anything that isn’t mentioned here? You’ve got it:

What about Abuse?

And this is where I get really uncomfortable and why I started deleting those comments. The divorce “purists”, as I will call them, read the Matthew passage (and seem to ignore the Corinthians passage) and say that the only acceptable reason for divorce is adultery. Because Jesus gave us no other reason, then there can be no other reason.

To them I would ask this:

Why do you believe abortion is wrong?

It’s because we’ve inferred an awful lot from a few verses. Abortion itself isn’t mentioned in the Bible because it wasn’t relevant for the culture. So the Bible doesn’t speak directly about it, yet pretty much all Christians fight against it for one simple reason: Because of what we know about God from the rest of Scripture. He knew us while we were yet unformed in our mother’s womb, and He planned our days (Psalm 139:13-16). He planned good works for us before the foundation of the earth (Ephesians 2:10). God is love. The rest of Scripture speaks to the sanctity of life. The Bible doesn’t mention lots of things we struggle with today–pornography, career choices, education choices–because these weren’t talked about or relevant then. But we can still infer from the Bible what godly decisions are.

So what, then, can we infer from the rest of Scripture about living in an abusive marriage? Does God expect us to stay?

Absolutely not. Read the Old Testament prophets and you come away with the overwhelming impression of a God who goes to battle for the downtrodden and who notices injustice. We serve a God who hates abuse in all its forms.

God Cares About Children

And here’s an important point: living in an abusive marriage, even if the woman is willing to put up with it, harms the children. Over and over again in Scripture God talks about rescuing children from those who would mistreat them (see Luke 17:2).

If staying in a marriage to an abusive person, or staying in a marriage to an alcoholic or drug addict, would hurt a child, then God does not want that.

I do believe that the word abuse is thrown around a little too quickly today, and I’ve written what is abuse and what is not. Not all yelling is abusive; it depends on the pattern, the effect, and the bigger picture. But emotional, sexual, and physical abuse are real and this is not God’s plan for His children.

One important point, though: We often believe that “kids are only happy if the parents are happy, so if the parents’ marriage is unhappy, it’s better to divorce.” Not true. Researcher Judith Wallerstein found that kids who grew up in an unhappy marriage fared better than kids who grew up with divorced parents. The effect of parents’ unhappiness on the kids is not a legitimate reason to divorce–except in one case. Studies also showed that children who grew up in violent or abusive marriages did better if the parents did divorce. So if you’re just unhappy in your marriage, it’s better for the kids if you stick with it and make it work. If you’re being abused or in a high-conflict marriage, it’s not.

God Cares About Sin

Another theme of Scripture is that God cares about the heart, not appearances. Divorce purists seem to stress the form over the heart–as long as the two people are technically married, God is happy. But no, God doesn’t want appearances. God wants changed hearts and changed lives! Here’s what I wrote in another post, Are You a Spouse or an Enabler?:

If your spouse is acting in such a way that they are denying a vital part of themselves and a vital part of the Christian life–like responsibility or intimacy or community–then doing nothing about it enables that spouse to avoid any impetus for spiritual growth.

Churches should be places where the wounded come to find healing, not where the wounded come to give them cover so they can avoid healing.

And yet all too often that is what we’ve done–we hate divorce so much that we ignore the other side: God does not want an army of wounded, damaged people. He wants wholeness. And so we must deal with people who are refusing to confront huge issues.

In that post I show what the Bible says we should do if a spouse is sinning. One of the Facebook commenters on Tuesday wrote this:

One truth that I believe that is overlooked or dismissed by people who are quick to judge those of us who have suffered through divorce (it was a heartrending and crushing experience) is that pleasing God and being like Him is not about keeping up appearances. God looks at the heart, and in light of that reality a true divorce has happened long before any secular legal actions have been taken – or can happen even when no actions are taken. A dead marriage is equal to a divorce in all the ways that are visible and valuable to God, and it’s sad to me to see married couples who obviously despise one another or (perhaps worse) are completely indifferent – especially if children are involved and being hurt by their parents’ situation. I am a child of Christian divorce as well and our young lives were fraught with secret abuse, sadness and confusion until my father (a well-educated preacher who led a double life) left my mom and abandoned us. Life was hard and sad growing up after that too, and I felt very mixed emotions of relief, abandonment and guilt once our father was gone. However, I was nothing but glad for my mom because she had done all she could to be a good wife, and had been so mistreated and disrespected by him in every area you could imagine – she didnt deserve that.

Scripture does not contradict Scripture. We aren’t told in one place to confront sin and live blameless lives and look to the heart and then told in another place to just keep the form in place and ignore sin. The heart matters. And if someone is sinning so much, either through abuse or adultery or an addiction or a refusal to work, then this must be dealt with.

Love Must Be ToughNone of this means that divorce is necessary in these cases; usually, I believe, a separation is a better tool. If a spouse is addicted to porn, or refusing to work, or an alcoholic, or gambling away the paycheque, then a separation says, “you need to shape up and this will no longer be tolerated.” That’s what James Dobson recommends in Love Must Be Tough. And, ironically, it’s this separation that often kickstarts real change which leads to reconciliation.

Why Does God Hate Divorce?

Divorce “purists” point to the verse that God hates divorce as proof that we should not divorce except in the rarest circumstances. But here’s the thing–I think we would all agree. In fact, most divorced people would be the first to say that God hates divorce, because they hate divorce, too. They know how awful it is.

The more important question is WHY does God hate divorce?

I do not believe that He hates divorce because people who divorce are somehow worse sinners. I believe He hates divorce because He loves us so much, and He knows the severe trauma of divorce. He knows the havoc it wreaks on our hearts. He knows what it does to the children. And He knows what a culture of divorce does to undermine the culture of marriage and family and commitment. Divorce has major ripple effects.

So God hates divorce because of its effects–not because divorce is any worse sin. We know that if one is guilty of breaking one part of the law, one is guilty of breaking the whole law. We are all sinners. I believe that when it says, “God hates divorce”, it’s really saying that if your husband left you or beat you or made your marriage unbearable, and you are weeping buckets of tears, that God is weeping those tears with you.

The Beauty of Grace and Living in the Present

I’ve explained why I believe that adultery, abuse, abandonment, and other major sins that endanger the whole family (like addictions or refusal to work) are grounds for separation and/or divorce.

But what if you don’t have those?

Another commenter wrote:

I’m divorced. No excuses, no Biblically sound reason. I was young, stupid, and a big ol’ sinner. He didn’t beat me or abuse me in any way. However, it’s done. It’s in the past and I feel absolutely certain that it is forgiven like any number of other sins in my past. I was wrong but that awesomely mighty God forgave it AND was generous enough to send me a husband who loves me and doesn’t judge my past.

She did not have biblical grounds for divorce, and she knows that. But now she is a believer, and that means that she is a new creation. And you can’t turn back the clock, and God does not intend you to. Why is that we say some sins can be forgiven but not others? Paul was a murderer, yet God still used him. David was an adulterer, yet God still used him (and his son through Bathsheba). Indeed, that adulterous relationship is in Jesus’ line.

God hates divorce–but there is grace.

Choosing Him All Over Again: A Story of Romance and RedemptionSo if you divorced in the past, and then became a believer, are you supposed to reconcile with your husband? I believe that, if possible, you should try. That’s what Juana Mikels did in Choosing Him All Over Again, and God showed them tremendous grace.

But that does not always work. Sometimes you can’t reconcile because he doesn’t want to, or he’s moved on. So then what?

What About Remarriage?

Divorce purists will also say that there is never permission to remarry. God may have given us grounds for divorce, but not remarriage.

However, I don’t believe this is true for two reasons. In the Matthew verse quoted above, Jesus said:

And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.

That means that if you divorce and marry another and it was because of sexual immorality, you are not committing adultery. So if you had grounds for divorce, you also have grounds for remarriage.

Yes, it says “whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery” (Luke 16:18), but you can’t look at that verse without also looking at this one. Jesus obviously was carving out an exception.

And in Corinthians, Paul wrote that the husband or wife was no longer bound if they were abandoned. They aren’t bound anymore–therefore they can remarry.

The Cultural Reason for Remarriage

Why isn’t the Bible more obvious that remarriage after divorce is okay? Because it was just assumed. In those days a woman was either under her father’s care or under her husband’s care. There was no way for an adult single woman to make a living. That’s why caring for widows was such a huge deal in the New Testament church. For Jesus to allow divorce, then, meant that He was also allowing remarriage. He would not allow divorce just to consign women to desperation and abject poverty. People simply had to remarry.

I know many of you who are here on this site are remarried–and want to make these remarriages work. I welcome you here; and I hope that I can help you with just that! I never want you to feel that because you are not on your first marriage that you are somehow inferior. God wants you to honour Him in the here and now.

And so that’s where I’m at: I’m anti-divorce, because I think it should be the last resort, and only in certain circumstances. But if divorce has been inevitable for you, then I wish you great happiness and intimacy with someone else, if God brings someone into your life.

The comment with the most likes was one from my friend Kathy, whom I know in real life. I’d like to leave you with it:

As a divorced person myself (with what I understand to be a biblical divorce–abandoned by an unbelieving spouse who was committing adultery), and someone who desperately wanted her marriage back, I feel the weight & sting of those who think in judgmental terms as if their own sin issues are minor compared to a divorce. I always jokingly say that divorce is the unpardonable sin in the church, but sadly, it seems far too often that it is looked at in that way. I have done my share of study on the topic of divorce and remarriage as a biblical counsellor, but also as someone who hoped to be married again one day, but only if it did not offend God. As far as I can understand in my simplistic way, God has allowed for remarriage in my circumstance. I was blessed with the offer of marriage just over two years ago from a wonderful Christian man who took divorce and remarriage as seriously as I, and also did his research (and by the way, he was widowed after 36 years of marriage so no divorce on his record). We consulted many “wise counsellors” and studied God’s Word before taking on our vows of marriage because again, we did not want to be out of step with God. We are convinced God is the author of our love story, but should we find that in our fallible state we were mistaken, is not the blood of Christ valid even on this? I believe we should take marriage, divorce, and remarriage very, very seriously, but I also believe we must approach it all with truth IN LOVE. Divorce seems to just be one of those divisive issues, and invokes much emotion, but hopefully it will not invoke undue unkindness from those of us who have been shown unfathomable love.

Blessings on all of you.

 

Ultimate Marriage Reading Challenge of 2015

Join the Ultimate Marriage Reading Challenge! Each month choose 1 book on the subject to read to boost your relationship! Get a chance to ask authors questions, read author interviews, and discuss the books, too!

Do you want 2015 to be an awesome year for your marriage, or do you want to just get by? Do you want to grow and be stretched this year, or do you want to run from one thing to the next without being proactive?

Most of us want to grow, but life often gets in the way. And sometimes we just need new ideas and a fresh perspective to help us figure out how to do marriage better!

So I’d like to challenge you to read 12 books with me this year. Just 12 books. And two are even novels–so it honestly won’t be that hard!

I know some of you haven’t read a book in a long time, and some of you are wondering how you’ll ever find the time when you have little kids. But in a month you really can get through a book.

  • Put it in your purse to read when you’re in line.
  • Keep it in the bathroom to snatch precious moments!
  • Grab some time on your lunch hour.
  • Read for 10 minutes before you turn it at night.
  • Read on the treadmill!

It’s just one book a month!

Here’s how it works: in this Ultimate Marriage Reading Challenge, I’ve given each month its own topic. And then I’ll suggest 3-5 books each month for you to choose from (since not every book is applicable to everybody!). I’ll choose one particular book to talk about on the blog, but I’ll have interviews with authors of hopefully most of them up on Facebook, I’ll have discussion forums for each book on Facebook, and we’ll have giveaways and prizes!

What do you have to do to join? Just choose a book and read it! You’ll get the most out of it if you also join my Facebook Page, since that’s where the authors will periodically be hanging out to answer questions and give away prizes. But you don’t have to pay to join. You don’t have to sign up. You don’t have to prove you’ve read it. You just have to get a book and jump in!

The Ultimate Marriage Reading Challenge:

  • Interviews with Authors
  • Discussion Forums
  • Book Giveaways
  • Blog Tours
  • Ask your own questions to the authors
  • And more!

So let’s get started!

The Ultimate Marriage Reading Challenge for January: Setting the Right Foundation. Click through to see the books and choose one!

Choose from these 3 books on Setting the Right Foundation for Marriage:

A Lifelong Love: What If Marriage Is about More Than Just Staying Together?Gary Thomas, A Lifelong Love: What if Marriage is about more than just staying together?
(this is the book I’ll be reviewing!)

Few authors do a better job of showing how marriage and God’s purposes for our lives go hand in hand. In his newest book, Gary Thomas offers practical insights on how to keep your marriage not just intact but thriving as you grow closer to each other–and spur each other on to a closer relationship with God. Great insights, lots of great stories, and I’m so looking forward to sharing this with you!

Choose this book if: you’re looking for something deep but relatively easy to follow that will make you think–and give you practical ideas for follow through!

Pick up Livelong Love here.

Join the Lifelong Love Facebook Discussion Forum!


The Story of MarriageJohn and Lisa Bevere, The Story of Marriage

This is an interactive book–not just a teaching book. As the Beveres show you God’s story of marriage, you’re invited to figure out your own story in the devotionals, discussion questions, and prayers.

Choose this book if: you’re working through this challenge as a couple, or you like guided exercises to think about what you’ve learned.

Pick up The Story of Marriage.

Join the Story of Marriage Discussion Forum.


Love and War: Find Your Way to Something Beautiful in Your MarriageJohn and Stasi Eldredge, Love and War: Find Your Way to Something Beautiful in Your Marriage

John and Stasi are poetic. Their books are rich and are lovely and make you think deeply. In this book, they explain how the fact that we’re often incompatible is actually God’s design: how we’re forced to be more Christlike in marriage, and that helps us to grow. And then they help us to see the bigger picture: how marriage is one of God’s designs to help us enter the bigger battle He’s waging on earth–and how we can get excited about our ability to fight in it! It’s an exciting book that will help you feel proud of your marriage, and excited about the adventure God has for you together.

Choose this book if you like deep books, love to think, and love more poetic works.

Pick up Love and War.

Join the Love and War Discussion Forum.


Just pick a book, start reading, and keep an eye on the Facebook Page and on this blog for more updates, events, and giveaways! And be sure to click through to the correct discussion forum for the book you’ve picked and go on over and “like” the forum (even if that’s all you’re going to do for now!), because then you’ll get notifications whenever a discussion starts!

And if you blog, I’ll also have a linky at the end of my review post for the month where you can post your own reviews of the book (or books) that you’ve read to get more traffic!

One book a month. You can do this! And it will make a difference in your marriage!

Wifey Wednesday: Why to Work Out as a Couple

Workout as a CoupleIt’s Wednesday, the day when we always talk marriage! Today welcome Jenn Faulk, who is sharing the life-changing effects and benefits that working out as a couple has had on her marriage. At the end, Jenn has a special gift for all my readers!

Four years ago, my husband was told that he needed to get fit… or else.

It was a doomsday diagnosis for us, a young pastor and his homemaker wife struggling to make a difference at a very difficult church. Stress levels were high but not nearly as high as my sweet husband’s blood pressure. When his doctor discovered this problem during a routine checkup, he told Wes there were two options — get fit or go on medication.

Like most young pastors and their wives, we doubted we could afford the medication, so we decided to go with the other option and get in shape together. Neither one of us could run a quarter of a mile at that point, so it was with great faith, anticipation, and even a little bit of fear that we signed up for our first race (so that we had a looming deadline on the calendar to keep us accountable) and began training, one tiny step at a time.

What we learned in the process was that getting in shape together, as a team, would do a lot for our health and abundantly more for the health of our marriage.

Here are just a few of the benefits we’ve discovered in working out as a couple.

1.  It makes you better teammates, on and off the pavement.

Communication is crucial in marriage, but it’s so easy to fall into patterns where we don’t adequately express ourselves or completely listen either one. In putting together a plan to work out together and actually making it happen, you’ll find that you’re more deliberate and intentional about communicating. I know that I’m never more communicative than when we’re eighteen miles into a race and I feel like dying. The freedom I feel at that point to say all kinds of things to Wes (some good, some not) honestly carries over to real life, where mundane tasks sometimes lull us into a routine that strangles real communication. Because we’ve learned to express ourselves in cheering one another on and supporting each other through physical challenges, we’re better able to keep our communication open in our everyday lives.

2.  It gives you goals to work towards together.

Remember when you first married and you had crazy dreams of all you’d do together? Everyday life and the routines we find ourselves in can sometimes rob our marriages of this wonderful practice. By tackling a fitness goal together, you’ll find yourselves dreaming big again! That first race we put on our calendar years ago gave us a definite goal to work towards together. It was such a blessing to us to have this common ground to keep coming back to and looking towards, even when life was, at time, difficult and challenging. As you work together to meet your goal, you’ll go through tough situations, challenging times, and celebrations. This only makes you better prepared for the very same experiences you’ll have in life as well.

3.  It gives you more time with one another.

When we started running, we had two preschool-aged children who sounded more like thirty preschool-aged children when they got worked up. (More like thirty wild chimpanzees. True story.) Time together where we could have coherent thoughts much less conversation was a challenge, but we loaded our girls up in a double jogging stroller packed with sippy cups, snacks, and toys and fought for those precious few minutes where we could run together. Now that our girls are older and more self-sufficient, life is still crazy busy, and the time we get to work out is sometimes the only time we get to be alone together. We guard it jealously and can honestly attest to how those miles covered side by side have been foundational in our marriage. That time alone together, even now, away from the demands of a busy home and the responsibilities that come with it, is priceless. (And the weekend trips away to go and run a race out of town, while the grandparents watch the girls? Bliss!)

4.  It makes the bedroom more exciting.

Speaking of those trips away (ahem), getting fit together makes for an all around boost in intimacy. If Wes had known this, he’d have gotten us into running much earlier, honestly. The confidence that comes with being in shape combined with the endurance that results from pushing your limits physically… well, need I say more?

5. It gives you another opportunity to glorify God together.

When we take the time to take care of our bodies as God calls us to do, we’re better equipped to serve Him. Getting in shape and adopting a healthier lifestyle alongside your husband benefits your health and his individually, making it far more likely that you’ll have more quality, healthful years ahead with which to serve Christ. We pray for daily health and strength to give back to Him as an offering, and staying in shape together has made it possible for us to do more than we could have imagined we’d be able to do this far into our ministry together.

This past year, Wes and I celebrated ten years of marriage by running our tenth marathon together.

One of the sweetest times of our marriage thus far has most definitely been the time we’ve spent running together, working towards better health alongside one another, putting our minds and hearts to a shared goal, and celebrating every finish line hand in hand.

In this season of fresh starts and new resolutions, let me encourage you to consider beginning to dream about, work towards, and meet fitness goals with your husband. It doesn’t have to be something huge to count. Start where you are and do what you can do, trusting that the effort you put into it will be of great gain down the road for your health, your life, and your marriage.

ResolutionsAs a special gift for all To Love, Honor and Vacuum readers.  She is offering her book Resolutions FREE on Kindle for January 14, 2015 only!

Check out her Amazon book page for other books Jenn has written, too.

Jenn FaulkJenn Faulk is a full time mom and pastor’s wife in Pasadena, Texas.  She has a BA in English-Creative Writing from the University of Houston and an MA in Missiology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.  She loves talking about Jesus, running marathons, listening to her daughters’ stories, and serving alongside her husband in ministry.  You can contact her through her blog www.jennfaulk.com

WifeyWednesday175Now it’s your turn! Do you have some advice for us today? Link up the URL of your own marriage post in the linky below, and then remember to link back here so that other people can read these great marriage posts!

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