Does Marriage Get Better? Is It Worth It?

Recently a young friend, a fairly new friend, stood within the circle as four of us discussed the hurdles and highpoints of marriage. All of us, except for Ellie, are married to Army officers and were looking forward to a brief season of reprieve as scheduled leave drew near. We were being vulnerable, recalling couple and family vacations that we’d rather not remember, but balancing them with occasions we’d love to repeat tomorrow, and every day, forever.

Ellie, living with and deeply involved with an Army man, piped up, “You guys aren’t making this sound very optimistic!”

Quickly, I backtracked to highlight all the positive moments we’d shared. “Truly, it gets better! Not necessarily easier, but I promise marriage is worth it! It gets better!”

So what do you think?

  • Does marriage get better with age? Easier?
  • Does it ripen and become more flavorful, or does it grow stale?
  • Does time make it more succulent like a fully ripened peach, easy to peel, falling from the pit and sweetening every season of life?
  • Is marriage worth it?

Please finish reading this article over at Start Marriage Right--a profound and extensive resource for godly marriages!

Where Did God Come From and Who Made Him?

Deep Space blue background

This is an article written by a Christian author/contributor to http://www.faithwriters.com. His article was recently selected and printed at http://www.mydailyarmorschristiandigest.com.

As I read it, I realized that these are the questions I will soon be fielding from our precious daughter, Eve. (Due in 24 days!) These are questions that every single Christian has either considered, received or struggled with. I hope you find Bernardo’s words insightful and maybe useful in sharing your faith in our sovereign, eternal God.



Where Did God Come From and Who Made Him?
Bernardo Pineda

When I was a young lad, I at times mused:

“Where did God come from, and who made Him?”

I lived in a world I did not fully comprehend, and was therefore, always curious about things especially as big as this one. I mean, He is our God. Would not it be nice to know something about Him?

We know God is God, and that He created the world and us. He is called Jehovah (one of His names); sometimes referred to as The Almighty, The Most High, The Everlasting Father, and so on.

But where did He come from and who made Him?
Where is He in heaven?
Does He have a family – wife, children, and siblings?
Does He belong to a royal family up there? Is there a line of succession to the throne of the king?

Young people probably ask these questions. Well, some adults could probably use help in getting cleared on these important matters too, for these concern everyone’s faith. Or at least, if anyone out there does not have it, this is a good time to stir it.

The Bible has all the answers:

You can finish reading Bernardo’s article here: https://mydailyarmor.org/uncategorized/where-did-god-co…and-who-made-him/

 

“Excellent” Wife–Fighting Words?

Ever gotten hung up on the idea of submission? I hope you don’t feel I’m beating a raw topic, because I know we’ve discussed it here before on Going Beyond Belief. But I’m forever surprised by the infinite and multi-layered ways that God reveals Himself to us, and consequently, made in His image, the multi-layered ways He wants us to reveal Him to the world through our lives. 

Proverbs 12:4 says, “An excellent wife is the crown of her husband, but she who brings shame is like rottenness in his bones.”

An excellent wife. 

Who doesn’t desire to be one? What does that mean to you? In what ways do you fall short of this or how are you succeeding?

But what if the original meaning of the word “excellent” got lost in translation? 

The Hebrew word for excellent in this instance is chayil, meaning: “might, efficiency, wealth, army, strength, ability, efficiency, force … “

Probably not what you were expecting, right? Not the quiet submissive type we often imagine the excellent wife to be. In fact, this is the word God used to describe Gideon when He was commissioning him to go into battle against the Midianites with a measly army of 300 men. In Psalm 8:32, it’s translated strength: ” … the God who equipped me with strength and made my way blameless.”

In Psalm 60:12, we are reminded it’s a God-given power and excellence: “With God we shall do valiantly; it is he who will tread down our foes.”

It’s a fighting word. It’s a battle-ready, fully equipped, clearly-thinking, humbled, powerfully-dependent word that, ironically, does not contradict God’s upon a wife to submit to her own husband.

Excellence, in the sense of strength, ability and might, is another way that God desires for women to express His complete nature first in our homes and marriages and second to the world at large.

What Are You Afraid To Lose?

The woman dreams to become pregnant, a prayer that God gave the childWhat are you afraid of losing?

Everyone is afraid of losing something–a loved one, a job, their reputation, sanity, safety, peace, hope … Or perhaps we’re afraid of something being taken from us; the anxiety is the same regardless of how this one (or more) precious thing is wrenched from our grasp.

Almost a year ago, my husband and I lost a baby. We had never expected to be parents, and after 13 years of marriage, not only resigned ourselves to this fact, but completely accepted it with peace. Until I got pregnant. Suddenly, God opened wide the doors of longing, excitement and anticipation. A whole new world brightened on our horizon. We wanted that baby more than anything. However, I miscarried at 11 weeks. The doctors assume the baby died a few weeks earlier and my body took a little time to realize the loss. My heart took much, much longer.

FINISH READING THIS POST HERE …

Would a Proverbs 31 Woman Have Time for the Gym?

Would a Proverbs 31 woman have time to go to the gym?

If you’d posed that question several years ago, I’d have popped my headphones back into my ears and continued repping to my favorite worship music, or pounding the pavement to the lively voice of a good preacher. I certainly would not have wanted to answer you. I didn’t have a problem; I had a healthy addiction to being “healthy”.

I accepted Christ as the one true God and my personal savior at the age of seven. Since then, growing in a godly home, I was taught to aspire after the mysterious Proverbs 31 Woman. But through the tangled years of adolescence, a different god warped my thinking and I began to pursue the idols of beauty, strength and thinness, all the while professing the risen Christ and devoting (my spare time) to Him. Let me share the short list of what it cost, or almost cost me …

Finish reading this post at: Proverbs31Woman

The Irrefutable Solution to Irreconcilable Differences

I wasn’t being nosy. I didn’t even ask. In fact, it started with a casual conversation about our dogs, and somehow we got all the way around to his admission, “Well, I used to have a family.”

In the course of seven brief minutes, in the hospital corridor, this complete stranger unveiled pieces of his story. “I was married once…you know, my son…but she kept the dog…don’t see them much…life was better then—when I had a family.”

My heart sunk a little, distracted from the surface of our conversation by the sadness in his eyes. Moments later, we parted and I’ll likely never see him again. But my heart was bruised with sympathy. What a loss! What loneliness; what a painful realization: “I used to have a family.”

The next day, I called my mom during my morning walk. Her precious voice, the assurance that I have a family who deeply loves me, filled me with joy as bright as that early morning sun peeking over the trees.

“You know, your dad and I had the strangest conversation the other day,” she told me. “Now that we have grandkids and all, it’s strange to wonder what life would have been like if we hadn’t hung in there through the first tough years of our marriage. We wouldn’t have you! We wouldn’t have your youngest sister. I can’t even imagine life with out each of our grandchildren! It’s startling to consider that if we had given up on us—we would have given up everything else! The entire course of our life would be so different. We would never had experienced the joy of each of our children and their children! So many fewer friendships, hugs, tears and promises.”

One of the most common reasons given for broken marriages is, “We just weren’t compatible anymore. We had irreconcilable differences.” Incompatibility—there is a Biblical App[lication] for that.

Ephesians 5 is often quoted over Christian marriages. You can almost see a finger wagging in your face, “The Bible says submit to your husband!” or, “The Bible tells you to love your wife!” Both statements are true, but just one verse before those instructions is another command we rush over on our way to our favorite ones.

“Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.” (Ephesians 5:21)

The Greek word translated “one to another” is allelon. It means, “reciprocally, mutually”. Those words are eerily similar to the English word, “compatible”, which according to thesauraus.com means, “like-minded, together, sympathetic, on the same wavelength, cooperative, congruent”.

Compatibility isn’t something that just happens. The phrase, “submit yourselves to one another”, can aptly be paraphrased, “subordinate, or arrange yourselves mutually beneath the other”. In essence, “make yourselves like-minded, together, cooperative, congruent, reciprocal”. It is not acceptable to simply be incompatible, anymore than it is okay to simply be cruel. Scripture indicates we are to make ourselves compatible.

The impossibility of this command weighs heavy on spouses that have struggled, with blood, sweat and tears, and still find themselves hopelessly at odds. But light dawns with the next two verses, the ones that usually sound ugly, harsh and demeaning:

“Wives submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the savior of the body. Therefore, as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the church and gave himself for it.” (Eph. 5:22-25)

In his book, The Power of Right Believing, Pastor Joseph Prince says, “…we need to teach the entire verse…The emphasis is on Jesus’ love for us. Everything we do today under the new covenant of grace springs from our love relationship with Jesus. His love needs to first work in us.”

Prince gives the example, “How would you like your husband to say to you, ‘God says that I should love you and that we should talk more, so let’s go out for dinner tonight.’? Then he sets a timer on his phone and says, ‘Alright, lady, your time begins now.’ Hey, no self-respecting woman would accept that, right? You want your husband to take you out for dinner not because he has to, but because he wants to.

“That’s why the Word of God doesn’t simply exhort husbands to love their wives and then stop there. It goes on to teach husbands just how to go about doing so—the power to love comes when husbands first experience how Jesus loved them and gave Himself for them.”

The instruction in Ephesians 5:21, “To submit yourselves one to another”, is a command. It’s a non-negotiable. Rather than a shackle for women, is a lock on the door to an easy escape from one’s marriage vows. However, God never leaves us in a position to “buck up” or “grit our teeth and bear it”. The Bible walks us right into the truth that Christ goes before us. “We love because He first loved us”. (1 John 4:19)

The answer to our irreconcilable differences is the irrefutable truth that Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us. A convinced, firm, heart-grip on the knowledge that Jesus loved us enough to die for us even when we were still sinners (and still sin), even when our abject rebellion was decisively incompatible with His holiness—that knowledge, shods our feet in the Gospel of Peace. It enables us to walk mutually, sympathetically, submissively, cooperatively and congruently. His unshakable love for us—husbands and wives, sin-stained all—sheds a new light on our differences, and if we accept it, brings peace to our homes and longevity to our marriages.

This first appeared on Start Marriage Right

Well-Aged With Season

As with last week’s post, I’m going back through a handful of pieces I’ve written in recent years, but never published. I’m amazed sometimes at the things God once taught me but slipped to faint and distant memory. I hope this touches you today. 

“Be careful, parents! One day the little ones whose diapers you’re changing will be changing yours!”

I heard that humorous warning about aging in a sermon once. I don’t recall the rest of the lesson at all. That line was so catchy, I kind of got stuck there. But recently, the gravity and art of aging has intrigued me.

Maybe it’s because my refrigerator is camouflaged in pictures of my nieces and nephews. Kylie, the oldest, isn’t quite three; baby Acelynn hasn’t even had her first birthday. Right alongside images of first steps, yogurt-smeared chins and sparkly, wide eyes, is a photo of my grandmother. She turned 91 this year.

Granddad died a few years ago. Since then, almost spry as ever, she has lived alone a few hours from my parents’ house. The only signs of her age are fading hearing, a tremor when she tries to hold her head perfectly still and she walks a bit slower than she used to.

Or maybe, I’m contemplating these seasons of life because I volunteer doing pet therapy with hospice patients. I heard of a man who recently decided he’d like a visit. It took them months to convince him he would benefit from a few hours with a dog. Stubborn, he kept telling his son and nurses that he wants his own dog, not simply a visitor. He knows what they say is true, that it wouldn’t be fair to the dog. He’s too old and ill to care for it properly. He may not live much longer and then who would take care of his furry best friend? Brave and I will meet Mr. Thurston next week for the first time.

Or maybe it’s because a few weeks ago Brave and I attended a grief camp for children who have lost a loved one in the last two years. However unfair, they were thrust into an unexpected season, one with a stark awareness of death. For many of them, the loss will mean a drastic change in their lifestyle. Who will tuck me in at night?

I might be thinking about birth, aging and dying, youth and the elderly, old and new because a friend just told me that he and his wife are finishing their basement so that his father can move in with them. It’s only been a few short years since they tenderly cared for his mother in her final days.

Whatever the reason, the seasons of life are turning in my head. But it’s much more than a solemn observation of finite lives. It’s more of an interest in how these season change us, not just our appearances and abilities, but change the way we live our lives. Passing years change our lifestyles, our priorities, our waking thoughts and unremembered dreams.

In 1 Corinthians 13:11, Paul says, “When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.”

It’s not surprising that Paul includes that sentence in, “The Love Chapter”. The most important way that time changes us, that age matures us, that the end sobers us, is that we fall more in love with the timeless. Time as we know it nears its finale, and our attention is swept up by the eternal. Our love shifts to things of an infinite nature—the promises of our Creator, the surety of seeing His face, the eternal spirits of our loved ones. Our lives necessarily change to accommodate these newly found truths.

Our bodies slow down as God allows age to limit our lifestyle, to force us to take closer, longer looks at what really matters. It is in the slowness, even the stillness, that we know He is God. And in that knowing, we are so much closer to all we’ve ever hoped for–to be fully real, fully known and fully loved.

“For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.” 1 Corinthians 13:12

I Don’t Want to Look Like an iPhone

[I wrote this article almost two years ago, so while the anecdotal stuff is no longer current, the emphasis of the article remains important.]

God got on a soapbox this week.

It started with a random email devotional from Desiring God ministries. I was curled in bed, determined to read the requisite “good stuff” before diving into the middle of my novel. The article by Tony Reinke was titled, “Six Ways Your iPhone is Changing You.”

Under the heading, “We become like what we behold”, Reinke wrote, “What we love to behold is what we worship. What we spend our time beholding shapes our hearts and molds us into the people we are. This spiritual truth is frightening and useful, but it raises the questions: What happens to our soul when we spend so much time beholding the glowing screens of our phones? How are we changed? How are we conformed?”

It’s kind of funny—God has used my eating disorder and the recovery process to shape me in so many ways; now most of what I learn and read is filtered through the lens of overcoming addiction, idolatry, fear, shame and the myriad other emotions connected to an eating disorder. I examined the article in that light.

In the last couple weeks, I’ve found myself more distracted by new recipes, new workout routines, conversations about health and fitness, etc. I’ve subscribed to a few different YouTube channels with more yoga workouts. Somehow, (I really don’t know how the internet seems to read my mind) I’ve started to get random emails about this or that approach to my “best body ever!”

The cool things is, these stimuli don’t affect me in the same way they used to. I still eat all my meals. I have no interest in working out like a fanatic. For all practical purposes, I’m still healthy—and I’m happy. But I’ve also felt an internal shift, a change in my affections and focus, a difference in what my mind dwells on in moments of inactivity. I’ve been wasting valuable mental energy planning tomorrow’s workout. In the evening when my husband and I watch television together, I’ve been distracted by searching for new recipes or reading the blog by a new favorite fitness professional.

These little habit changes wouldn’t raise a red flag for most people. In fact, most would probably see them as a positive interest in health and good nutrition. But I know my heart, I know my tendencies. I know my proclivity to bend a knee and subtly worship my body and things that pertain to it.

I’m praying about this, asking God to reorient my priorities. I’m leaving the smart phone in the other room. Modern culture bombards me with a constant stream of information, images, suggestions and ideas—and I become what I behold. The longer that I gaze at any form of media, feasting my mind on culture’s obsession with appearance, I cannot help but begin to assume that mold.

I want to look like Christ, not a one-dimensional supermodel. I must divert my eyes from the colorful attractions and preferences of the world and fix them on Jesus.

“…let us strip off..the sin that so easily trips us up…We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus.” Hebrews 12:1-2

God’s Version of Show and Tell

show and tellThere’s a woman whose daddy has been praying for her for years. All he wanted was to see his precious daughter healthy again, strong, fertile, free. How he longed for God to just tell him a little bit about the future, “Please God, just tell me that she’ll be okay!”

Now, she’s praying for him, “Please God, just tell me he’ll be okay.” Last week, her daddy’s hand was mangled in a workshop accident with a saw. He’ll live; the doctors did good work. But his heart is achy. All he wants is for God to tell him that he will still be useful and effective and capable.

Other hurdles have mounded in front of this godly family. A beloved elderly grandmother makes full days into over-full days, exhausting the daughter she lives with. An uncle suffers from unexpected heart problems. It’s wave after wave. Won’t someone just tell them it will be okay?

God, can’t you just explain the map a little bit? Can’t you point out the hope on the horizon?

I’ve been pulled into prayer lately. It’s magnetic, irresistible. More than the needs to pray, I feel compelled to know the heart of prayer.

God, I want to know how this works. I want to know why it works and why sometimes it seems like a crapshoot. God, I want to know why you care at all when our feeble voices wind heavenward like wisps of dissipating smoke, and why sometimes the floor heaven seems made of iron—impenetrable.

The only thing I know for sure, when my words seem worthless, God must attend His own Word. He is all truth, the essence of what is, the imaginer of all we believe real, so He simply cannot betray His own Word.

“Show me your ways, Lord, teach me your paths. Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long,” Psalm 25:4-5.

I pause.

Remember “Show and Tell” in kindergarten? Who would have cared if all we did was describe our dearest treasure? Who wants to merely hear a story when the option exists to reach out and touch the subject?

As a writer, we are constantly schooled to, “Show, don’t tell.”

A familiar phrase echoes the halls of literature, “A picture is worth a thousand words.”

So I hear God say, “I could tell you, but I’d rather show you.”

Why is it I want God to tell me the future, to reveal the fearful mystery of what I cannot yet see? Why do I implore God to inform me when all He really wants is to show me?

Colorful fingers tug at my own, “Come here, Abby! I want to show you something!”

Why disillusion her by insisting that she should just tell me what it is? Why pretend I have better things to do than follow that precious girl and praise her painting, such as it is—the full palate of colors splattered on paper?

What I would miss if I chose not to follow her! She wants to see my expression, behold my admiration of her creativity.

Maybe God is the same way. “I could tell you, but I’d rather show you.” To show us, God must walk a half step ahead.

To show requires present and presence. When we arrive at the future, hand in hand with our Shepherd, we behold those terrifying unknowns in the present and are comforted by the presence of the Prince of Peace.