Why is Christian Marriage So Hard? Hope and Possibilities Within

The look on my face must have been one of utter confusion.

A woman who had been married almost forty years just told our group that, as a young fiancee, she had a bright and sunny outlook on marriage. To her generation, marriage was full of hope and possibilities for a blissful life.

Say what?

Contrary to us millennials who constantly hear and experience, “Marriage is hard.”

Why is Christian Marriage so hard

We’ve heard the stats: divorce rates in the church are the same as outside the church. In fact, anecdotally, many of us know marriages of unbelievers that are thriving and happy and united. 

Why aren’t ours?

Why is Christian marriage so hard?

There are two answers in Ephesians 5.

1. Marriage is a picture of God’s relationship with His people. Thus, much is at stake.

Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy…

This is a profound mystery, but I am talking about Christ and the church. (Eph. 5:24-26,32 NIV)

You may already know this, but why does this necessitate hardship?

God has given marriage as a primary tool to teach the gospel (the other big one being the love that God’s people have for each other). Thus, a lot is at stake. Redemption is at stake. Souls are at stake.

So a battle for our marriage is waged. Notice that the famous marriage passages are bookmarked on either side by guardianship against sin and spiritual warfare.

Be very careful, then, how you live-not as unwise but wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Eph. 5:15-16 NIV

Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. Eph. 6:11 NIV

It should perhaps be no surprise at all that marriage is difficult. It’s a General in a massive battle for the kingdom.

Why is Christian marriage so hard?

Photo by CreationSwap

2. Marriage is a union of two sinners.

You could have guessed this, right? Paul is teaching the “faithful” in Ephesus how relationships work in God’s design, and he has to frequently call out our selfishness.

Get rid of all bitterness…

Find out what pleases the Lord…

Submit to one another…

Love your wives, just as Christ loved the church…

Husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies… All from Eph. 4-5

So now we don’t just have a relationship that is under attack by the enemy, but our very selves attack from within, letting selfishness breed like cancer.

I don’t now how well a cancerous soldier can fight. Do you?

Two ways to fight for a better marriage

So what’s the solution? There must be something that can make marriage better!

1. Trust in the victor.

Why is Christian marraige so hard

We already know how this battle ends. Christ’s heel is struck, but the enemy is crushed.

For God has given us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 1Cor. 15:57 NIV

We must rest in this truth. Meditate on it and know that God wins!

2. Seek help and accountability.

You must  must  have help to have a great marriage. This includes

  • Personal accountability for your relationship with the Lord
  • Community with others who can encourage your marriage
  • Counseling for traumatic pasts and martial hurts

Why is Christian marraige so hard

After being married for forty years, do you know why that lady was in our group? Because it turns out marriage is hard, and she was leading other married couples to have better marriages, marriages that illustrate God’s work on the cross, marriages full of hope and possibilities. 

 

 

Intentional June – Connecting Water Fun to the Gospel, Week 3

Connect Water Activities to Gods Love

In June, I am picking a relevant scripture each week to focus on. My conversations with my kids will be about the verses, and bonus! – I’ve picked a craft to help us (and you!) talk through spiritual things.

Don’t forget – you’re the primary influencer in your kids’ lives, so be intentional about sharing God’s truths with them! I’d love to hear if you have success with these. Share in the comments!

Week 3 – Water Balloon Pinatas

Oh my oh my, I can’t wait to do this activity! We’re going to make water balloon pinatas to hang from our trees!!! Fill regular balloons with water, tie with string to your tree, and grab your light saber pinata stick for some water gushing fun! Like this pin:

https://www.pinterest.com/pin/170785010848225800/

Hey, this is Texas. We play in the water every chance we can get. It’s necessary to stay cool.

I really love this activity because it’s rather easy to connect to the gospel and scripture! Have an intentional conversation about how God’s love has been poured onto us while dumping water on our heads? Yes, please!

Focus verse (context: Paul is talking about peace and hope and follows this verse with “when were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.”

 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. (Romans 5:5, NIV)

Easy Succulent Centerpieces for a Marriage Conference

Easy Succulent Centerpieces

I’m quite deficient in the crafting department. Notice that all of the kids’ crafts that I use to have gospel conversations with my kids are simple and truly kid-friendly! Or should I say mama friendly?

My husband asked for my advice and help with centerpieces for our marriage conference. (But he made sure I got help haha!) He wanted something that “the guys” would like as much as the ladies, and I instantly thought of wood grain and succulents.

I asked a good designer friend of mine to help me pick out containers so that I didn’t pick something that would be hideous. 😉

We found some great wooden boxes and white glass square candle holders at Hobby Lobby that we planned to use for the planters. The white glass containers were my favorite – we bought every one that they had and placed those on wooden planks so that all of the centerpieces coordinated in some way.

If you’re wondering how to make succulent centerpieces, it’s as easy as 1, 2, 3. Er… 4.

  • I used a Walnut stain for the wood (staining is something that is so easy to me – very quick and painless).
  • I lined the wooden boxes with black plastic from a trash bag so that the water wouldn’t damage the wood too much. You can also seal the wood with a polyurethane coat, but I chose not to.
  • At the nursery, I laid all of the plants out in groups and took pictures on my phone. This is so that I would remember later which ones I thought went well together. This was a lifesaver for me!
  • After planting them, I took pictures again to make sure everything made sense. I used this at the venue to place them on the tables.

planning centerpieces

Now it’s time to feast our eyes on some beautiful succulents!

succulent centerpieces 2 succulent centerpieces succulent centerpieces 4 succulent centerpieces 3

 

 

My Husband is Obsessed with Caulk and Tires

My husband is addicted to caulk and tires. And I love it….let me explain.

Anytime a free couple of hours comes around at our house, I hear phrases such as, “The car needs new tires because blablabla.” <–I lack interpretation skills here.

Or, “I need to go to Lowe’s to get caulk for the repair on the trim.”

Umm… what is trim? Why does something that looks exactly as it should need repair? What is this caulk that you speak of!?

When that “caulk” thingie and “trim” thingie involves me planning out something pretty, like built-ins for our living room, I all of a sudden can speak in home repair lingo like the best of them. Pretty + function = happy. Functional gluey paste that costs money and time but doesn’t give me a visual boost = why do we need this?

Am I alone??

My Husband is Obsessed with Caulk

Photo Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/navfac/

There are times when I even get extreme in my questioning of my husband’s affinity for caulk. Sometimes, I get angry, thinking he just wants something to do to avoid us.

Then, I was reading in Ecclesiastes…

If a man is lazy, the rafters sag;

if his hands are idle, the house leaks. (Ecc. 10:18, NIV)

My thoughts went straight to my husband’s attention to caulk lines and cracks in our walls. I thought, Well, he sure is not lazy, and our house does not leak, praise God!

if a man is lazy the rafters sag

Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/andrewbain/

But this passage is about so much more than that. Ecclesiastes has many proverbs-like passages, which makes sense considering the writer is one and the same. But in this book, they are mostly in larger contexts communicating broader messages… which means they’re quite confusing to me, and I have to pull out the Walvoord and Zuck commentary (affiliate link)… plus a dictionary to figure out what their big words mean ha.

After all of that, I see that verses 16-19 contrast the difference between a state run by a wise king and a state run by a foolish king, wisdom being a synonym for righteousness and folly being a synonym for unrighteousness in this case.

We see that the wise king is self-controlled (v. 17) and by contrast with the foolish king, the wise king takes care of his kingdom and does not believe bribery or shortcuts will gain anything positive.

Kingdom with a good king

Source: CreationSwap

Considering that the whole book aims to teach that being fully connected to God is the most enjoyable act of life, the righteous king would also “remember his creator in his youth” (12:1).

My husband could be spending his time doing any number of things – he’s still young! We’ve spent half of our life together now, so I won’t say how young, but he’s young enough that he could commit to sports hobbies 10 hours/week or dude nights twice a week or fun weekends away every month. But he doesn’t. He spends his time taking care of the family God has blessed him with, like a wise and righteous king managing his state.

This passage also reminds me of our Great King – King Jesus. We have no fear that he will ever let the rafters sag or the roof leak. He never took a shortcut to His mission on the road to the cross. He bravely and with self-control took on the full burden of our consequence, taking no bribe nor succumbing to temptation. Wielding the supernatural caulk and tires that only the God-man can.

Homemade Father’s Day Gift

(Pssst – Brad, you’re not allowed to read!) 😉

Does the homemade Father’s Day gift elude you? Maybe your husband is like mine: he doesn’t spend all of his time golfing or fishing, and he never wears a tie.

But – he has a sentimental heart, and he prefers words of affirmation to tangible gifts. The kids and I made him something special as part of our Intentional June series. We’re pairing this with two tangible gifts we know he will love as well.

Homemade Christian Father's Day Gift

In June, I am picking a relevant scripture each week to focus on. My conversations with my kids will be about the verses, and bonus! – I’ve picked a craft to help us (and you!) talk through spiritual things.

Don’t forget – you’re the primary influencer in your kids’ lives, so be intentional about sharing God’s truths with them! I’d love to hear if you have success with these. Share in the comments!

Week 2 – Follow Daddy as he follows Christ

Father’s Day is this coming Sunday! There are so many wonderful “daddy” oriented things we could talk about – God is our heavenly father. We are adopted into God’s kingdom through Jesus. Honor your father. So many!! Please choose your own intentional way to spend Father’s Day.

For us, we’re making our good earthly daddy a gift to show him how we see him striving to follow Jesus, our Savior. He encourages us to press harder into our faith! For our daddy, there could be no greater compliment.

And who doesn’t love kiddo footprints?? Nobody. Nuff said.

How to Make a Homemade Christian Father’s Day Gift from Children

Homemade Christian Father's Day Gift

  • Choose a heavyweight paper, such as cardstock. You may also use an artist’s canvas. We will probably store ours at some point, so I wanted to make it flat.
  • Examine your husband’s shoe tread (haha!). Choose a pair of shoes with a “good looking” tread, but don’t choose his running shoes or work boots – you don’t want to ruin the stickiness of his shoes! I used acrilyc paint, which is water based and probably fine, but I certainly didn’t want to take a chance.
  • Don’t dip the shoe in paint! Instead, use a foam brush to brush the paint only on the tread you want covered. Notice, we left the arch blank on purpose.
  • Create the daddy footprints by rolling the shoe from heel to toe on the page, and let dry. The drying takes about 30-45 minutes.
  • In lighter paint, brush paint on your kiddo’s foot. Be sure to decide whether you’re doing a left or right foot before you paint.
  • Support them and help them step and press their foot onto the page.
  • Repeat with 3 kids, including a baby in a bouncer seat. Ha!
  • After drying, choose the scripture focus for your dad. John 3:16 is a great alternative to the one we used. Add the verses to the page.

The verse we focused on is:

 Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ. (1 Corinthians 11:1, NIV)

That’s what our daddy does – he sets a great example of a humble man following Christ! And we want to follow in his footprints.

Marriage: It’s Not a Competition

I talked my sister-from-another-mister Chrissy into sharing some wisdom on the blog today while I’m on vacation! God bless you sis for putting it out there for us! I love her teachable heart – we can all learn something from this post. Give her some social media love and check out her blog about being a merchant marine wife!
I’m not a competitive person by nature but I’ve found myself competing with my husband. It started after I gave birth to our oldest daughter. I would get angry anytime he would call and complain that he was tired or worked hard that day.

“He has no clue!”
“At least he gets to sleep in peace every night!”
“How dare he call and dump all of his problems on me…he clearly has no idea how worn out I am!”

When we had our second child it only got worse. I became more bitter. I found myself angry at him but yearning to connect with him at the same time.

Marriage is not a competition
Thankfully God gave me some gentle nudging toward how selfish and wrong I was! I took a year long course called Biblical Womanhood this past year and my biggest takeaway was that my husband and I were created differently with different roles in mind.

Nurturing is in my DNA. I don’t have to try very hard to love my kids. It comes naturally. Those daily tasks I want to complain about so much… the middle of the night nursing, the endless laundry, the toddler tantrums, the same bedtime routine every night, the exhaustion… it’s just part of the package. In truth, my dream package. I’ve never had more fulfilling work than being a mother. Yes, it’s work, but it comes with a deep satisfaction.

Now my husband on the other hand. He has this huge weight of being the only provider for our family. Our entire livelihood hangs on his decisions every day. One wrong move or bad call and he will probably end up without a job (best case scenario) in jail or even dead. He sometimes works 24 hour days on a steel deck in blizzards and 15 ft seas. He goes without eating or sleeping if the job requires it. He is away from his entire support system for weeks at a time.

So when he calls to unload or tell me how tired he is, why am I angry?! Don’t I want to be that person for him? Would I rather he call someone else to vent about his day?

Instead of competing with my husband for who had the hardest day, who got the least amount of sleep, who works harder/longer. I want to help him up. I want to appreciate what he does for us. He showers me with appreciation. I get messages like this all day long:

“I don’t know how you do it. You’re amazing! Our girls are so lucky to have you!”
“I’m praying for you babe! I hope you get some good sleep tonight.”
“How was your night? I have a long day ahead but I will call as soon as I can!”

And he does.

So when that call comes, I want to love him, encourage him, respect him. I want to listen to what he went through. I still share my struggles but it looks less like a competition and more like two best friends catching up.

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor. If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.
Ecclesiastes 4:9-10
Chrissy DoucetChrissy is a Stay-at-Home mom of two and wife to Merchant Marine. She sporadically updates her blog with posts on family life, healthy living, fitness and the occasional recipe.

Use Your Beach Trip to Talk About God

Use Your Beach Trip to Talk about God

In June, I am picking a relevant scripture each week to focus on. My conversations with my kids will be about the verses, and bonus! – I’ve picked a craft to help us (and you!) talk through spiritual things.

Don’t forget – you’re the primary influencer in your kids’ lives, so be intentional about sharing God’s truths with them! I’d love to hear if you have success with these. Share in the comments!

Week 1 – Talk about God at the Beach

This week, my family is on staycation!! We’re heading down to the coast for an (insane) there-and-back-in-the-same-day trek. So our craft for this week has to be on the beach!

Since I’d like to avoid bringing a bunch of supplies, and we’re going to be in the sun all day, we’re going to do some shadow activities! Here are the ones I’d like to try:

Taking a family “shadow picture”, like this: Idea here.

I also think making a sundial would be really easy and neat for the kids.

But we might just make a sand volcano (not a shadow activity) b/c that sounds really fun!

Verse focus for shadow activities:

“…you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings.” Psalm 63:7

This entire psalm is so powerful to pray for reliance on the Lord. God is our protector and our refuge!

And… let’s not make this too complicated. We’re at – THE OCEAN. Besides talking about God’s creative nature in designing the ocean, this passage from Job contemplates the infinitude of God.

“Can you fathom the mysteries of God?
    Can you probe the limits of the Almighty?
They are higher than the heavens above—what can you do?
    They are deeper than the depths below—what can you know?
Their measure is longer than the earth
    and wider than the sea. (Job 11:7-9, NIV)

 

Sowing in Tears – A Pastor’s Wife on Sunday Morning

I’m thrilled to have my friend Colette Loudin sharing a post with us today – this post is so personally challenging to me, and I know it will be to you, too. Please give her some share love on Facebook, Pinterest, etc., and check out her blog Lessons from the Sparrow.

I hugged him close as he clawed and scraped and tried to kick his sister over and over again. He was so frustrated, and I was too. He grunted and groaned quietly as he thrashed about, giving no ear to the message his dad was preaching right in front of him. I tried to calmly restrain him as tears streamed down my face.
Sowing in Tears - Sunday morning

“Sundays are just so hard, Mom.” I know, sweetheart. I know they are. But they’re worth it, too.

This precious son of six years is life and energy and cuddles and punches. He’s the one that hears the gospel over and over and over again as I hold him close and talk through what went wrong. He brings tears and fears and joy and laughter. Sometimes I don’t know how to love him well. Sometimes I wonder if I’m getting in the way of his seeing Christ. Sometimes I absolutely lose it on him. Because I can’t understand how in the world he could do the very thing we just talked about not doing. And then I see me. And my sin. Over and over and over again. The Israelites followed that path. And so often I have, too. And God disciplined them. He showed grace. He broke, and He mended. He fought for His people. And God disciplines me. He shows grace. He breaks, and He mends. He fights for me.

My eyes closed and opened to look at my husband standing behind the pulpit. And this vision came into my mind—my tough child, grown. A man, tall in stature and wise in heart. Standing at that same podium in that same church. The sunlight beaming through the stained glass behind him. And as he speaks to the people whom he now joins in faith, he looks at that front row where he spent his youth. I’m there—the whispers of years and time have painted my hair and kissed my face. And as he looks at me on that front pew, our eyes meet. A flood of memories washes over him. Our battles against sin…together. His face softens as he remembers the hard Sundays. And he understands in that moment the beauty of those struggles. The reward of it all.

My heart quieted. There was hope in that vision for me. Hope that, maybe one day, I will see the fruit of this labor.

“Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy! He who goes out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him.” Psalm 126:5-6

I have no guarantee that my son will grow into a wise man who follows the Lord. There’s no protocol I could follow to produce a man of faith. That is entirely in the Lord’s hands. And there’s a freedom in that, too. It doesn’t depend on me. However, I do have the holy and heavy responsibility to diligently display God’s patience and goodness and grace to my children. To fight alongside them toward victory. Bearing the daily weight of that in the living out brings weeping and sorrow in response to my son’s sin. It is no easy thing to mother.
This Sunday, we will sit together and pray. He will pray, as he often does, that God will help him to listen and to obey. That God will calm his body and mind and help him do what he knows he should do in the church service. And he might find victory this Sunday. And he might not. But when he messes up, I will hug him close, love him gently, and speak the same truth into his little big heart. And I’ll hold that sweet vision ever before me. That one day, just maybe, I shall come home with shouts of joy because of the beautiful work God has done within him through these years of sowing. And I will look my precious, grown boy in the face, and our hearts will join with the Israelites in proclaiming, “ The Lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy.”

 

Colette LoudinColette is a lead pastor’s wife and mother of four whose passion is to awaken women to the great need of rightly studying the word and being an active part of the local church, no matter what season of life they are in. She loves all things birth and newborns, conversations about food allergies and gut health, and reaching out to the overlooked. You can follow her blog at lessonsfromthesparrow.wordpress.com.

Two Verses that will Change Your View of Your Husband

I don’t often think about how my husband views me; in fact, I’m confident in his love for me.

Maybe so confident that I neglect him. So confident that I don’t think about the temptations that surround him. Confident enough to shut my eyes and ears to how he serves me.
Change How You View Your Husband

I was literally startled when I read these verses in the Bible.

Like a lily among thorns
is my darling among the young women.

Like an apple tree among the trees of the forest
is my beloved among the young men. (Song of Solomon 2:2-3, NIV)

Am I like a lily among thorns to my husband?

That was the immediate question. And I knew the answer: I might be more like a thorn among thorns. 

Am I more like a thorn?

My husband is already in a patch of thorns!

  • the world’s troubles (John 16:33)
  • the curse of difficult work (Genesis 3:17)
  • bearing others’ burdens (Galatians 6:2)
  • his own sin nature (Romans 3:23)
  • among others!

When he sees me, does he see a lily? Am I:

  • a rare treat?
  • refreshing his eyes and soul?
  • soft and gentle?
  • lovely?

I long to be as a lily to my husband

To be perfectly honest, this verse is comparing Solomon’s bride to other women. My husband, like many, is surrounded by other women all the time! While I completely trust him, I want to be the woman that stands out from the crowd. 

What if I am more like a thorn among lilies?

Yes, he has a responsibility to serve and love me no matter what, but my marriage will be markedly more wonderful if I’m committed to making that responsibility a joy and a treasure.

Do I see my husband as a gift?

Imagine you’re walking through a forest, thick with huge trees. Vines, brambles, and shrubs cover the trunks of the trees and the ground on which you’re treading. Bugs are everywhere. Ducking under a branch, you wipe cobwebs from your face, and look up to see a clearing. In the middle of the clearing is one, single, random apple tree.

That’s the way I need to view my husband. Not random haha. No, he’s a find!

In fact, the bride says of her husband:

  • I feel safe with him and trust that he is capable (“I delight to sit in his shade.”)
  • Having sex with him is a sweet delight to me (“His fruit is sweet to my taste.”)
  • When we’re together in public, I’m happy to see how he treasures me (“Let him lead me to the banquet hall.”)

Can I say those things? Or instead, do I think:

  • My husband is like a child and truly needs my help. I can’t trust him to do anything right.
  • He disgusts me. OR, being intimate with my husband is the last thing I want to do.
  • I take every chance to belittle and tease my husband when we’re among others. If he pays me a compliment, I turn it back into an attack on him.

These two tiny verses are challenging me to see my husband as the gift that he is and to strive to be a lily among thorns for him!

Did these verses challenge you to view your husband differently?