Marriage from A to Z

Principles for a Successful Marriage

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“Cluttered Calendars for Christ?”

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Busy, busy, busy! Are you so busy doing things for Jesus that you’re not spending any time with him?   There is so much on the calendar, so much to do, so many places to go and people to see.  Jesus is the real reason for the season so let’s check our calendars to make sure that what we are doing is really about him.

In Luke 10:38-41 Jesus went to visit  Mary and Martha.  Martha opened her home to Jesus but her sister Mary was known for sitting at the  Lord’s feet.  Both of them loved Jesus, but it was the way that Mary demonstrated her love for Christ that pleased Him.  Martha was busy serving and seemed to have an attitude because her sister Mary was not helping her.  In verse 40, she spoke to the Lord about it and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone?  Therefore tell her to help me.”  (Isn’t this something?  We want to tell the Lord what to do and how to correct people.) .

 “And Jesus answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things.  But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.”  (Luke 10:41)

This passage is a reminder that sometimes we think we are serving for Christ but it can become busy work with no devotion to God.  As we prepare to celebrate Christmas and even after the holidays, let’s make sure that Christ is our #1 Priority.   Here are a few things to consider as you check your calendar.

C = Clear some space to spend more time with Christ.  Come to Christ in worship, sing praises to him, spend more time in prayer and reading what his Word says.  Look for ways to apply his Word in your every day life.

H = Have more time at home.  Spend time with Christ in your home.  Martha opened her home to Jesus but was distracted with other things.  As you open your home to others be sure to spend time with them.

R = Rest, Reflect and get Refueled.  Take time for some physical rest, reflect on the goodness of Jesus, and you will be refueled for whatever Christ wants you to do.

I = Intentionally say no to busyness and yes to Intimacy with Christ.  Draw nearer to him!  Busyness is defined as, “lively but meaningless activity.”  BUSY=Being, Under, Satan’s Yoke.

S = Slow down and  Sit at Our Savior’s Feet!   Jesus said, “But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part . . .”  Let’s choose the good part!  Time with Jesus is NEEDED and helps us in every area of life.  Practice sitting still for 15-20 minutes and allow God to speak to you.  Be still and know that He is God.

T = Take time to do what really matters and be THANKFUL! Spend time with your loved ones, share the gospel and love of Christ everywhere you go.  Be a light that shines for him!  Practice gratitude,  start by thanking God for all that He has done and take time to thank others.  Make sure that Jesus is the reason for the season!

Until next week . . .

 

Carolyn

 

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“Press On!”

Has life ever presented you with a situation or circumstance that hit you so hard that you didn’t know how you would go on?  Maybe its painful or it has altered your way of life in some way.  No matter what you are going through, I want to encourage you to press on!  There is a blessing in the pressing!

 I am a witness that God will see you through.  Nothing is too hard for God!  With His help you can find strength for your journey and make it through the most difficult and painful circumstances.   When you are in the midst of a difficult situation, you may question, how you will continue on, but God.  Some situations are so devastating that you really can’t imagine moving forward.  I have been there, and I am here to encourage you to press on!

No matter what it looks like, God is able to do exceedingly, abundantly above all that you could ask or think (Ephesians 3:20).  Remember that the enemy wants to kill, steal and destroy so, it would give him great pleasure for you to quit!  But instead of quitting, you must PRESS!  As I think about what I did to help me press through some of the most challenging situations, I want to share it with you!

P = Prayer and praise:  Talking to God about how you are feeling and asking for His wisdom, guidance and direction is key.  Praying God’s word and promises over your situation helps you to put the focus on what God can do.  Get a song in your heart and give God some praise! A good song can help to carry you through.

R = Refuel yourself:  Do things that refuel you!  Rest, go to church, go for a walk or do something that refuels you, spend time with people who will encourage you to do the right/righteous thing and in some cases, you may need to be alone.

E = Eat the Word of God daily.  Take time to read God’s word.  Put it in your mind and in your heart. Read the word and look for ways to apply it to your situation.  Obey what God says!  Read books and listen to messages that will encourage you in your situation.

S = Say positive words to yourself.  In other words, have good self talk.  For example: I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.  I am more than a conqueror through Christ Jesus.  I will get through this, this too shall pass!

S= Share when necessary.  You may have to talk to a counselor or confide in a friend to help you through your situation.  You don’t have to go through alone, God has a sister or brother who is willing to help you through.

PRESS On!  Philippians 3:12-14

Until next week . . .

 

Carolyn

“A Prayer for You and Me”

      Many of you know that I had my 50th birthday last week.  What a blessing, I am still celebrating!   When I reflect on what God has done in the past 50 years, my mind goes to what I would like to accomplish in the next 50 years.  I don’t know all of the specifics, but I can sum it up with a simple prayer that God has placed in my heart.  This week, I want to share the prayer with you because, I believe that it is a desire that we all have.  I am going to call it; “The Palm Tree Prayer.”  

     What is “The Palm Tree Prayer?”  I am so glad that you have asked.  Someone once said when you don’t know what to pray or have the specific words to say, pray the Word of God!  Psalm 92:12 says, “The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree:  he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon.”  That’s the prayer.  Lord please bless us to flourish like the palm tree.  The second part of the prayer is,  help us to grow like a cedar in Lebanon.  However, this week I am focusing on flourishing like a palm tree. Fifty and flourishing sounds nice.  (smile)

First, let’s look at the meaning of the word flourish. To flourish is to be in a vigorous state, to thrive, to be in one’s prime, to be successful and to prosper.  It is my prayer to flourish at fifty and the years to come!  Don’t you want to flourish? I pray for flourishing families, marriages, finances, relationships, ministries, careers and flourishing lives in the name of Jesus!

Second, let’s look at the attributes of a palm tree and see why we should pray the Palm Tree Prayer.   The Bible says,  “The righteous shall flourish like a palm tree. . .”

Why should we want to flourish like a palm tree?

  1. It’s constantly green and flourishing
  2. It spreads its branches very wide, and it grows to a vast size
  3. It provides a most refreshing shade to travelers
  4. It produces dates, a very sweet, luscious and grateful kind of fruit
  5. It is a most beautiful tree
  6. It stands erect, sending all of its strength upward in one bold column
  7. It is an invaluable treasure to the inhabitants of those in hot countries
  8. Other trees, when old, leave off bearing, but in God’s trees the strength of grace does not fail with the strength of nature
  9. It grows slowly but steadily from century to century
  10. It brings forth fruit in it’s old age
  11. It doesn’t droop under drought and the burning sun of the summer (It perseveres)
  12. It is uninfluenced by the alternations of the seasons which affect other trees

These are just a few attributes of the palm tree that I gathered from various commentaries however, there are many more.  May the Lord bless you to flourish like a palm tree!

Until next week . . .

 

Carolyn

 

“Facing The Fabulous 50th”

I used to think that turning 50 meant that you were old and at the end of everything.  I don’t know why I thought that way, but now I realize that was stinking thinking! (smile) Today is my 50th birthday!  I can’t believe my turn has finally come!  God has kept me for an amazing 50 years!

Reaching 50 is a wonderful milestone, and I plan to celebrate everyday this month. I celebrate what God has done in the past 50 years and what He is going to do in the future.   I have been through some ups and some downs, but I am still here!

I must admit that I have had a few mixed emotions about turning 50.  I struggled with should I put it out there or not.  However, I have decided to publicly give God ALL of the glory and ALL of the praise for every year that He has kept me.    There are so many amazing things that God has done, and I have so much to be thankful for.

I thank God for a beautiful marriage, beautiful children, beautiful family/church family and friends.  I especially want to thank each of you for taking the time to read this blog and sharing it with others throughout the years.   I pray that something has been shared to encourage, inspire and to uplift you. I know that God has blessed me to be a blessing!

Since it is always my goal to include scripture in every post, I will close with two of my favorite verses.  I believe that these verses have a lot to do with me facing 50 and feeling fabulous! Matthew 6:33 says, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”  Also, Psalm 37:4 “Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.”  

Until next week . . .

Carolyn

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Marriage Maintenance”

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What does a car and a marriage have in common?  Ever so often, you have to put your car in the shop for maintenance.  If you don’t get the oil changed and have the car serviced, after a while, it will not run properly.  When you have your car serviced on a routine basis, you can usually prevent from having major issues.  However, if  you never get the oil changed and never take the car in for service, you run the risk of having some major issues.  Well marriage and cars are similar because they both require maintenance.

To provide maintenance is to keep in an appropriate condition, operation or force.  To keep or hold against attack. Every marriage needs maintenance in order to preserve the marriage relationship. When there is no maintenance, the marriage will go into a poor condition and is more susceptible for attack.  Hebrews 13:4 says, marriage is honorable. . .   Having your own husband/wife is precious and you should do everything possible to maintain the relationship.

Marriage maintenance requires some individual work and working together.  Many couples agree that when a husband/wife does a few things individually, it makes it easier to maintain the marriage together.  For example; when a husband/wife has some time alone with God, they return to the marriage with a new perspective, love, forgiveness and a better mind-set.  Another thing that can be done individually is taking time out to do something that refuels you.  It can be taking a walk, playing a sport, getting your hair done or just doing something that you enjoy.  When you refuel yourself, you can return to the marriage ready to be better.

As a couple, here are a few things that help to maintain a healthy marriage:

  1. Praying/Reading God’s Word Together
  2. Worship Together
  3. Regular Dates and fun time
  4. Regular affection (passionate kissing, holding hands, hugs, back and foot rubs, etc.)
  5. Regular intimacy
  6. Communicate often
  7. Aiming to please each other
  8. Being thoughtful and helpful to each other
  9. Nourishing and cherishing each other
  10. Accepting and appreciating each other
  11. Spending time with other healthy married couples

It doesn’t matter how long or how short you have been married, every marriage needs maintenance.  Ask your spouse about his/her needs to maintain a healthy marriage.  Aim to please each other.  Do what is necessary to provide regular maintenance to your marriage.

Until next week . . .

 

Carolyn

 

“When Love Becomes Difficult”

 

 

Who wants to talk about love when it’s difficult?  No one, but if you love a person for any length of time, you will experience a season where love becomes difficult.   This can be experienced in a marriage, with family, friends or any relationship.  I know we would like for our relationships to always be sweet and easy, but the truth of the matter is that loving a person can become difficult.

 Love becomes difficult when people become difficult.  People can become difficult when they experience various challenges in life.  The dictionary defines difficult in the following way:  (Think of each definition as it relates to being in a relationship)

  1. Not easily or readily done
  2. Requiring much labor, skill or planning to be performed successfully, hard.
  3. Hard to understand or solve.
  4. Hard to deal with or get on with.
  5. Hard to please or satisfy
  6. Hard to persuade or induce; stubborn
  7. Disadvantageous; trying hampering
  8. Filled with hardship; especially financial hardship

In many cases, the flesh wants to stop loving and give up during the difficult season.  But this is a time when  you have to go to LOVE/God (I John 4:8)  and get some love to give.

When love becomes difficult, God wants us to keep on loving.    He will help us to continue loving no matter how challenging.  God is love, and He gets the glory every time we make the decision to love no matter how difficult.   Choose to put on love each day, just like you put on your clothes.   You will be rewarded for loving those who are difficult to love. Luke 6:32 says, “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you?  Even sinners love  those. .  .”  Matthew 5:46 says, “If you love those who love you, what reward will you get?”  In other words, don’t just love those who love you, but love the ones who may not show you love or who may be difficult. Your love is evidence that Jesus is Lord in your life.  You can’t operate in your feelings, you must operate in the Spirit of God.  Trust the Holy Spirit to give you love when you don’t feel love.  

Challenge:  Put on Love even when its difficult!  Colossians 3:12-14 . “Therefore as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering:  bearing with one another and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.  But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection.”

 

Until next week . . .

 

Carolyn

“Improper Thoughts”

Have you ever had an improper thought come to your mind?  Improper meaning a bad or inappropriate thought that you have no business thinking, something that is evil or contrary to what God would have you to think.  If we are honest, we all have had an improper thought at some point.  These thoughts can come at any time and at any place.   If they are not properly handled, improper thoughts can turn into improper actions.  Both can negatively affect your relationship with God, your spouse, family and your friends.  This week’s post addresses improper thoughts.

Improper Scenarios:  You are single and have an improper thought about some one else’s husband/wife.  You are married and an improper thought about someone who is not your spouse comes to mind.  You are angry and an evil thought for revenge comes to your mind.  You are in a financial bind and an improper thought comes to mind.  The thing about improper thoughts is that it doesn’t have a respect of persons.  Both Christians and non Christians can have improper thoughts, anyone at any time or place.

The question is what do you do when you have an improper thought? If you don’t handle the improper thoughts correctly, they will cause damage.   Improper thoughts that are acted upon usually cause hurt and pain for all of the parties involved.    One of the things that makes an improper thought even worst is when it is written or expressed on social media.  Social media usually involves putting the improper thought in writing or adding a visual, in other words, it is documented.  Marriages, families and relationships are being destroyed and it all started with an improper thought.  

What should you do when the thoughts come to mind?

  1. Pray and ask God to please take the thought out of your mind.  II Corinthians 10:5-6 says, “casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled.”
  2. Replace the bad thought with a good thought.  Philippians 4:8 says “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy, meditate on these things.”
  3.  Don’t allow the thought to turn to an action.  Galatians 5:16 says, “I say then walk in the Spirit and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.”
  4. Sometimes you may need to share the thought with someone who will pray with you or hold you accountable to doing the right thing.  
  5. Realize that bad thoughts come, but they don’t have to stay.  Feed your mind with good stuff. (Prayer, the Word of God, Good music, etc.)
  6. Realize that the job of the enemy is to steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10) so improper thoughts that turn into improper actions can cause major damage.
  7. Don’t let the thoughts linger.  Be quick to get them out of your mind.
  8. Don’t put improper thoughts on Social Media.  (Don’t text them,  don’t tweet them, Instagram them, etc.) . This is permanent documentation and you never know where it goes or who sees it.
  9. If the thoughts keep coming to your mind, you may have to get some help through counseling. Proverbs 11:14 says, where there is no counsel, the people fall; But in the multitude of counselors there is safety.
  10. Renew your mind with the Word of God on a daily basis.  Romans 12:2 says, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”

We all have improper thoughts, but we must be self-controlled and properly handle our thoughts.  This is very important because improper thoughts can lead to improper actions.  Improper actions hurt people, relationships, marriages and families.  We have to handle our thoughts in such a way that God would be pleased.  How are you doing with your improper thoughts?

Until next week. . .

 

Carolyn

 

 

 

 

 

Do you have any Marriage Skills?

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When you decide that you want to be a doctor, lawyer, teacher or any other professional, you already know that you will have to go to school.  Obtaining knowledge and skills are necessary in order for you to succeed in almost every profession.  Some go to college, some go to trade school, some learn online and some get on the job training however, people who succeed in their jobs are usually the ones who know the work and are skilled.   Skills are important for success!  Marriage skills are necessary for all of those who desire to get married and those who want to stay married.  

We have a tendency to get skilled for everything else, but think that we should meet someone, fall in love, and get married without obtaining any marriage skills.  This is crazy!  Marriage is so serious that it should never be entered into lightly. Running off and getting married or getting married without taking the time to get some marriage skills, is taking marriage lightly.

What are skills?  The dictionary defines skills as:  “Competent excellence in performance; expertness, a craft.”  Marriage skills can be acquired by getting some pre-marital counseling, reading everything that you can on having a godly marriage and gleaning from positive married couples.  Since marriage should not be entered into lightly, it is necessary to get as much knowledge as you can before you say, I do!  Take time to learn about marriage itself and about the person who you are planning to marry.  Some things will not be revealed until you are actually married.  However, if you get good pre-marital counseling, you will have the tools and skills necessary to deal with whatever comes your way.

Learning marriage skills before you actually get into marriage is wise.  There is so much to learn until you will be learning even after you are married.  Actually, couples who want to maintain a good marriage should continue to learn each other and practice using marriage skills throughout their lifetime.

Marriage skills come in different areas however, here are a few key skills that are necessary to have a successful marriage:

  1. How to include God in your marriage
  2. Communication/Conflict
  3. Money Management
  4. Time Management
  5. Intimacy
  6. Becoming Parents
  7. How to Forgive
  8. How to deal with your in-laws, family and friends
  9. How to love your your spouse
  10. How to respect each other

The list could go on and on however, I think you get my point.  If you want a successful marriage, you must be skilled.  The Bible speaks highly of those who are skilled.  Proverbs 22:29 says, “Do you see someone skilled in their work?  They will serve before kings; they will not serve before officials of low rank.”  There are benefits in getting skills.  A bad marriage can be better if the husband and wife get some marriage skills.  Get as many as skills as you can before you get married.  After you are married, maintain using your skills and always be ready to learn new ones.

Until next week,

Carolyn

 

“Are you a hypocrite?”

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Have you ever  been called a hypocrite? I have often heard people say; “Don’t be a hypocrite!”  Last week, I was reading Matthew 23 where Jesus is speaking and most of the words are in red.  He uses the word hypocrite several times, so this word stood out to me like never before.   I began to check myself, and I want you to check yourself.  Let’s  call this the “Hypocrite Check.”  Are you a hypocrite?  Are you married or in a relationship with a hypocrite?  If you are a Christian single, I want you to be clear on what it means to be a hypocrite so that you don’t marry one.

WHAT IS A HYPOCRITE?

A hypocrite is defined as: “A person who pretends to have virtues, moral or religious beliefs, principles, etc. that he or she does not actually possess, especially a person whose actions belie stated beliefs. ”  That word belie means to show to be false and to misrepresent.

In several of the  verses (23, 25, 27 and 29) in Matthew 23  Jesus says, “Woe to you Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites.”  Anything that Jesus constantly repeats in a passage should get our attention.  Jesus was angry and exposing the hypocritical attitudes of the religious leaders.

HYPOCRITE CHECK:

Let’s check ourselves and make note of what it means to be a hypocrite. These are just a few observations from Matthew 23.

  1. They knew the Scriptures but did not live by them.  (When we know the Word of God we should live by it) .
  2. They didn’t care about being holy, they just wanted to look holy in order to receive the people’s admiration and praise.  (A person’s outside is not always a good indicator of what’s inside.  Hang around long enough so that you can see what they are really about.)
  3. They know what the Bible says, but will not allow the Bible to change their life and behavior.
  4. They say that they are Christians but don’t live by God’s  standards of love.
  5. Their love for positions of leadership grows stronger than their love and loyalty to God.
  6. They act spiritual to cover up sin.
  7. They seem to be a success publicly but their private life is a mess. (It’s easy to present pictures that make your life look perfect on Social Media.)

To sum it up, hypocrites are people who are fake.  God wants us to be the REAL DEAL for Him.  We must check ourselves and make sure that our actions match or beliefs.  What are your actions saying?  What is your reputation?  Are you a hypocrite?  Lord help us to live our lives in truth and to honor you in the way that we live.

Until next week . . .

 

Carolyn

“Sex before marriage?”

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    Why should I wait?  I have needs, and God understands.  Everybody is doing it!!  Yes pre-marital sex is widely accepted by the world.  However, every body is NOT doing it.  Believe it or not, there are some who have determined to wait until they are married.  This week, I want to encourage all of the singles and the couples who are preparing to get married to WAIT!  Hang in there and OBEY God!

God created sex, and it is good!  However, it is good when it is done within the walls of marriage.  I know you have heard that sex before marriage is wrong, but let’s talk about why it’s wrong.  Sex before marriage is dangerous, it affects your mind, body and soul.  Dangerous because each time that you have sexual intercourse with someone out side of marriage, you are taking a risk.  Every day people risk their lives by enjoying pre-marital sex, knowing very little about their sexual partner. No one wants to talk about the impact and consequences of pre-marital sex.

Here are 12 reasons why you should NOT have sex before marriage:

  1. It hurts the heart of God.  Throughout the Bible we are told to  flee and abstain from having sex before marriage.  (I Corin. 7:2, Galatians 5:19-20, I Corin 6:9, I Thes. 4:3-5, Deut. 22:13-28)
  2. It’s out of order!  God is a God of order.  There is a reason why the Bible promotes marriage first then sex.  (I Corin. 14:40)
  3. It violates your relationship with God.  Christian singles  should refrain from sexual intercourse with other people because a Christian’s body belongs to God.  Our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit.  (I Corin. 6:19)
  4. It can create unwanted problems in your future marriage/spouse.    
  5. Sex before marriage messes with your mind.  It alters your thinking, decisions and it is very hard to get sexual acts out of your mind.
  6. Once you start having sex outside of marriage it’s hard to stop.   
  7. Sex before marriage is sin against your own body.  It hurts you.  (I Corin. 6;18-20)
  8. You develop a bond with someone who is not your husband/wife. Sex causes the two to become one.  It is a physical and a spiritual act.  This is why it’s not easy to shake it off.  (Mark 10:6-9)
  9. It clouds your thinking.  It is so hard to make sound decisions about the person who you are seeing once you have had intercourse.  Often times people marry knowing that the person is not a good match for them, but because they are connected sexually their thinking is not clear.  They overlook the fact that the person has other major issues that they will have to deal with once they are married.
  10. It may feel good for the moment, but it can cause disease, unwanted pregnancy and health challenges. 
  11. It kills the excitement that was meant to  take place on the wedding/honey moon night.
  12. It kills the testimony that you could share about God being a keeper. Somebody is watching and looking up to you.  Establish a legacy to obey God in this way!  Your friends and future kids will be blessed by your testimony.   

God has a special reward for those who wait and obey.  If you have not been obedient in this area know that God forgives, and He is able to cleanse you from all unrighteousness.  (I John 1:9)

Until next week . . .

 

Carolyn

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