Monday, January 19, 2015

The "S" in GPS

The “S” in GPS stands for “self.” Put your spouse ahead of yourself.  Aside from including God in your marriage, selflessness is the most important factor for a healthy marriage.

In Christian circles, self is a “four-letter word.” We are called to give up ourselves to follow the will of God. Our marriage relationship, ideally, should parallel our relationship with God. In fact, at some point, I believe they will actually intertwine when nurtured correctly.  Hence, we should always put our spouses ahead of ourselves.

According to the world, though, self should rank number one in our priorities. Self looks out for its own interests and welfare. Oftentimes, our own interests include overindulging in fleshly desires. Addiction is a raging problem with alcohol, drugs, sex, computers, and anything else that comes before our relationship with our spouse or God.  Many people are obese because of excessive food intake. We are in the midst of a failing economy because of our greed for material things. Relationships in and out of marriage remain problematic because of the battle for selfish desires.

The more we try to fulfill the desires of the flesh, the yearnings of ourselves, the deeper the void in our soul becomes. We are all born with this void and spend our lives desperately trying to fill it with self-indulgence until we allow God into our lives. Only the God who created us can fill that empty void and free us from any self-addictions that trouble us. Only then can we experience the rich marriage God intends for us to share with the person we love.

The World English Dictionary gives one meaning of flesh: Physical aspect of humanity: the physical body along with its needs and limitations, as opposed to the soul, mind, or spirit. Notice that it says “as opposed to the soul, mind, or spirit.” As spiritual beings, we temporarily wear this fleshly body but are not meant to be ruled by it. We get confused, though, by living in a world that tells us, “Look out for yourself!” (If you put an “h” in front of self and then read it backwards, it spells “flesh.” Self and flesh go hand in hand.)  Unfortunately, many have become consumed by that worldly advice. It’s gone too far.

Our society is so entrenched in a “Me, Me, Me!” attitude that we’ve abandoned our traditional values and rules for godly living. There is barely any truth left in our world. Our basis of judgment now stems on “what works for me” with no concern for right or wrong.

Philippians 2:3 says, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than  yourselves.”

Loaded with worldly contradictions, the Bible speaks clearly about putting others ahead of ourselves. As one who once lived a worldly life and now strives to live a godly life, it is not always easy. Without a doubt, though, giving up self to follow God’s plan brings a much more joyful life, a much more peaceful life, and an opportunity for God to bless you time and time again. The same applies to marriage. Putting your spouse’s needs ahead of your own (yourself) will bring joy, peace, and an opportunity for God to bless your marriage.

Monday, January 12, 2015

The "P" in GPS

The “P” in GPS stands for “Pray.”  Pray with your spouse at least once every day.  Praying keeps God in the center of your marriage and is the key to a successful, healthy marriage (the marriage that God intends for you).

When Rick and I went through our marriage crisis, the turning point for us came when he took my hand in his, and we turned our marriage over to God in prayer. God literally melted away all the pain, anger, indiscretions and mistakes we made – I mean MELTED them away! It was amazing!

We have kept the habit of praying together – every day. Through it, we turn every issue we face that day, no matter how big or small, over to God before it can become an insurmountable problem. Five seconds into a prayer and we forget what we might have been angry about.  Prayer between two people joined as one in the eyes of God is very powerful! 

If you aren’t yet comfortable praying out loud with someone else, here is a sample to get you started.  Remember, prayer is just talking to God as if He were a friend sitting on the couch with you.  There is no need for elaborate words.  God knows what’s in your heart and on your mind.  Just talk to Him.    
“Dear God.  We haven’t done such a great job in our marriage so far, and we would really like your help. We ask you to heal us of any hurt or unforgiveness between us and help us learn how to communicate with each other. Help us to hold our tongue and only speak positive words to one another. Rekindle our love, Lord, and show us how to have the healthy marriage You desire for us.”


Another “P” word that I want to add to GPS is praise.   Speak positive words to your spouse and praise them daily.

I can sense the snarls as some of you read this. “But you don’t know MY husband or MY wife!” No, I don’t, but I do know that none of us is perfect, and NO one is easy to live with.

Joining man and woman in holy matrimony shows God’s sense of humor (in my opinion). I always thought it would be easier for the women to live in one house and the men to live right next door. Couples could share plentiful conjugal visits while avoiding the dangers of living together under the same roof. However, God didn’t ask for MY opinion now, did He? He also didn’t promise us it would be easy. He joined man and woman because He knew, together, they would need His help.

God has a plan for each and every one of us, and He knows what is best for us. He saw that man and woman would complement each other and form a perfect union ordained by Him. That’s what we need to focus on. We need to continually look at the good in our partner and what they complete in us and not dwell on the negative.  Divorce begins in the mind with a negative thought.

Think about the power our thoughts have over us. Thoughts can imprison someone so deeply in fear that they refuse to leave their house. Thoughts can bring actual physical symptoms to a person convinced they have a terrible disease. Unresolved thoughts from abuse as a child negatively affect adult relationships.

The devil wreaks havoc in our minds, his favorite playground. He attacks us constantly. Most of our negative thoughts initiate with him. He’s fooled us into thinking we’re at the mercy of whatever dysfunction we’ve experienced in the past. The old devil loves for us to believe we lack any control over our thoughts.  Contrary to this manipulative lie, we possess the power to command them.

The Bible tells us, “Take captive every thought.” (2 Cor. 10:5) That means to stop those negative thoughts before they ferment and form unintended words that recklessly escape your mouth. Find something positive to focus on, or pick up your Bible, or sing praise music. The old devil really hates to hear scripture or worship to God!  Or, you could think about what attracted you to your spouse in the first place.  Dwell on that.

Praising your spouse is almost impossible when negative thoughts bombard your mind. It is crucial that you learn to control your thoughts and even more, the words that come out of your mouth. Make a sincere effort to speak only loving, edifying words to your spouse. Before you speak, ask God to give you the right words to use without bringing offense to the receiver. If Jesus stood in the room with you, would you feel embarrassed for Him to hear what you say to your spouse and family? (Guess what, He IS there!)

The words from our mouth can turn any bad relationship into a good one OR vice versa. My husband’s rule of thumb when a discussion is getting "heated": if it’s worth saying, it’ll be just as good waiting until tomorrow to say it. Experience has proven that 95% of the time that day of waiting avoids selfish, flesh-based comments and the senseless arguments that follow. So, speak positive, edifying, words to your spouse and watch your Stinkin’ Thinkin’!

Monday, January 5, 2015

A New Beginning

Happy New Year!  Another new year with a fresh slate ahead for wonderful adventures to be had!  We get a new beginning!

This year will start with my new book coming out in a few weeks - “GPS to a Joyful Marriage.”  This book has been in the making for a number of years.  It is a short, easy to read book that gives you biblical tools to help a troubled marriage and to help maintain a healthy marriage.  It is comprised of information that Rick and I have gathered over the years, from counseling couples and holding seminars, which we believe to be the core of a successful marriage based on biblical principles.

Now that I’m on a purposeful track to expand my marriage ministry with my husband, I plan to get back to marriage articles on this blog.  I have strayed a bit and gone off into other tangents.  Thank you for your patience – those of you who have come seeking marriage advice to only find words about food!  This blog has been around for almost six years and actually started with information that I used for my book.  You can access past articles on whatever topic you desire (see the category list on the right side of the blog).  Now back to marriage stuff!

The “GPS” in “GPS to a Joyful Marriage” stands for what I call “emergency help” for marriage.  If you don’t have time to seek counsel or read a book, remember “GPS”.  Following these directions will lead you on the right path to a healthy marriage.

“G” stands for God.  Put God first in your life – ahead of your spouse and your children, your work and your church.  We were created by an amazing God out there who desires to know us.  Going to church every Sunday and Wednesday will not do it.  He wants a personal relationship with us where we turn to Him for every aspect of our life.

When my marriage was in shambles, and I contemplated leaving my husband for another man, I heard a small voice in my head saying, “I’m not going to be happy if you divorce your husband.”  I knew it was God.  I had been more active in church in those days than I’d ever been in my life, yet it was also the most immoral time of my life.  I didn’t want to hear what God had to say to me.

Rick had gotten an assignment to go to Bitburg, Germany at that time, and I did not want to go with him. God’s continual reminder about not divorcing my husband stuck with me, though.  Deep in depression, I didn’t know what to do.   It occurred to me that if I could love Rick again, I could face whatever the future held in a foreign country.  With nowhere else to turn, I started praying to God to show me how to love my husband again.  It was a test to see if God was real and if He would be there for me.

God began to return that love, and I went to Germany.  He healed my marriage in such a mighty way that I don’t ever want to go back to life without Him.  I will always include Him in everything I do.

God has a plan for each and every one of us.  When we are busy with living life our own way, we will certainly miss it.  I promise you, God can do much greater things for you than you can possibly do on your own.  He can do greater things for your marriage if you just take the time to build a relationship with Him.  Include Him in the middle of your marriage.  Take your problems to Him.  He will lead you to the healthy marriage He desires for you.

Start this New Year by involving God in all you do, especially when it comes to your marriage.  You will see amazing changes in your life!

More “GPS” to follow…