Positive Influences

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I live in a very small place – 320 square feet, to be exact! Our converted tour bus makes for very cozy living…perhaps sometimes a little TOO cozy!

Living in a small space with four of my children (and one hubby) makes for a LOT of noise! Having my devotions uninterrupted is not just a joke; it’s impossible!

So when it’s time to kneel down and pray, often I’ll put some ear buds in my ear and play worshipful music. It helps to drown out all the other noise an allow me to concentrate on The Lord alone.

That’s probably not a very good analogy, since my family is not a “bad influence,” but sometimes we need to drown out the negative voices of this world with more positive voices from the Word of God and those that love God.

Last week I wrote about how the negative influences we allow into our lives affect our marriage. This week, I want to think about what we can do to overwrite, or drown out those negative influences with positive ones. One of the most important things we can do if to fill our lives with good things.

Philippians 4:8 says, “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”

A young man once wrote to Thomas Carlyle, the famous writer and teacher, and asked him for advice on how he could improve himself. Wise Carlise had much advice, but one of the important principles he gave, was to read good books rather than fluff. Let’s follow Carlise’s advice and overlook the “dessert” and go for the “meat and potatoes.”

Add positive voices:

1. Find encouraging people to be with. I’m not necessarily talking about effervescent, bubbly, gushy people, but people who are not complainers. Many people feel that they have a personal right to complain, and that it makes them feel good when they put other things and situations down. I once heard the saying, “small people talk about other people, average people talk about things, but great people talk about ideas.” Look for great people to be with.

2. When it comes to videos, choose only the best. If you regularly watch dysfunctional families and see how the strong, powerful, kind and intelligent woman wins over the selfish, stupid man, then you will eventually live out such unbiblical roles in your own home. That is not something you want! Some of my favorite videos are Fireproof and Courageous.

3. Fill your ears with great music and preaching. I enjoy listening to the Bible during the day. (You can download OnlineBible or use the app called Bible.is, which will play dramatized Bible for you as you go throughout your day.) Listen to uplifting Christ-honoring music (try Majesty Music and Faith Music Missions to buy some great stuff or download the app for the radio station KNVBC. There’s also the Bible Broadcasting Network [bb.radio.org,]) You can listen to good preaching online. You can even listen to Dr. Harley speak on all topics of marriage at Marriage Builders Radio.

4. For your reading material, choose encouraging biographies, books, or even blogs. Find good biblical marriage books and blogs to read, and take the time to think about what they say. I already mentioned Dr. Willard Harley of Marriage Builders. His success rate of helping marriages is probably the highest of anyone, and his books (His needs, Her needs, Lovebusters, etc.,) have been helping marriages for decades.

Some of the blogs I find helpful and encouraging are Sheila Wray Gregoire’s blog, The Alabaster Jar, and Warrior wives. Don’t forget to check out some of Sheila’s books while you’re at it!

Next time you’re tempted to let the din of this world pull you into a sour attitude, try putting in your “spiritual earbuds” and drown out those negative influences with a good book, audio Bible, some good preaching, or worshipful music. It can go a long way to helping your marriage survive.

You have a double assignment today:

1) Visit at least one of these sites this week.
2) Give your beloved a big hug and a kiss every day!

How are you doing? Let us know!

Linking up with: Monday:
Alabaster Jar,
The Better Mom,
Raising Arrows
What Joy is MineWhatjoyismine.com

Tuesday:
Titus Two Tuesdays, Mercy Ink Blog, The TimeWarp Wife

Wednesday:
To Love Honor and Vacuum

Garbage In = Trashy Marriage

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I enjoy jogging, but I especially enjoy jogging with other people, my family members. It helps the miles go faster and easier if I have someone to talk to. But I DON’T like going for a run with someone who’s going to complain.

Every once in awhile, my running partner has gotten up on the wrong side of the bed, can’t find their running clothes, can’t find their shoes, don’t know where their socks are, have trouble finding a water bottle, and insist that it’s too cold. When we finally hit the road, they commence complaining. Too cold – too hot – too windy – too fast – too slow – feet hurt – legs tired – sidestitch – you name it! Even a two mile run can seem like forever when there is a complainer by my side! And by the time I’m done, I wish I had never gone.

Just as it discourages me to listen to a complainer about running, it can be very discouraging to listen to some of the negative voices that exist. When it comes to marriage, we need to be very careful who we listen to. If garbage comes into our minds, we will have a trashy marriage. Who wants that?

Here are some things to be wary of:

1. Well-meaning, but misguided relatives. You know the ones I mean. Those that take you aside privately and ask you if your husband is really doing everything he can, or if he’s being too commanding or … the list can go on and on. These folks may be genuinely concerned, but remember, they only have part of the story – the side they see. If you show anything but complete solidarity with your husband, they will come back again and again.

2. Friends who are having troubles with their own marriages. These friends want someone to talk to that they can share the complaints they have against their spouse freely. Statistics show that those who have a relative or close friend who is going through a divorce have a higher possibility for divorce themselves.

But what if they really want help? One way you can tell is by giving them a few suggestions. Tell them of a book to read, a website to visit, or a pastor to talk to. Then, when they come back to you with the same list of complaints, simply ask them, “Did you read that ____,” or, “Did you talk to the pastor about this?” If they respond that they didn’t, it’s a strong possibility that they’re just using you for a sounding board. Talking to you isn’t going to help them, either. It’s best for you just to remove yourself from the conversation.

3. TV shows, videos, etc. which portray the man as the weak, selfish, thoughtless, stupid one and the woman as smart, powerful and caring. Those shows will fill your head with a wrong perspective on true biblical marriage.

4. Friends who ride an emotional roller coaster. Some people have dramatic highs and lows. When they’re up, they’re really, really up, and when they’re down, you’d think the whole world was collapsing around them. We’d like to think that we can help to even them out, but more likely is that we would end up riding their roller coaster with them.

5. Allow news media very sparingly. I have a dear relative who lives by the news. Not surprisingly, she’ always up or down depending on what’s going on. Yes, sad things happen every day, but, as my husband always says, “If there’s nothing you can do about it, it will only waste your energy.” Personally, I have enough ups and downs of my own making to add to it all the troubles of the world!

I can hear it now, “Oh, no! Lisa, you’ve just eliminated all my friends and everything I do!” Well, I doubt that’s really the case, but even if it was, isn’t your marriage worth it? Did you commit “till death do us part?” “Forsaking all others?” Others is not just other men. That’s only a part of it. It’s other people, other philosophies, and other garbage.

The other day, I got to run with my daughter, who is often quite enthusiastic about running. It was great to see the miles go by as we looked at the beautiful scenery and talked. And when we were done, we felt as though we had conquered the world!

Maybe we did.

That’s the way it is when you have an encourager by your side.

How did you do on your last assignment? I know I had trouble digging it up, and I’m still working on it. Here’s your new assignment:

What is Your Song? You know the one I mean, the one you and your man adopted as the one that was written and sung just for you? Yes, that one! Find it somewhere and play it a few times, remembering back to some great times in your relationship.

Linking up with: The Alabaster Jar, Better Mom Mondays, Titus Two Tuesdays, Mercy Ink Blog, Raising Arrows, What Joy is Mine, Time Warp Wife, To Love, Honor, and Vacuum

The Strength of Commitment

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When Glenn Cunningham was 8 years old, both of his legs were badly burned in a schoolhouse explosion which also killed his older brother. His injuries were so extensive that he lost all the toes on his left foot, and sustained a lot of other deep tissue damage. The doctors wanted to amputate, but his parents decided that they would do what they could to save Glenn’s legs.

It was a huge uphill climb for Glenn and his family. His physical therapy sessions were quite demanding, often leaving him bathed in sweat. He was told he would never walk, but he determined that, not only would he walk, but he would run! So he pushed himself harder, doubling up on his physical therapy and finally, painfully, began to walk and eventually to run.

Because of his total commitment to improving himself, Glenn went on to break the world record for the mile, and to win the silver medal at the 1936 Olympics. Only the advent of WW2 ended his running career.

Now, your marriage may not be “missing all the toes on your left foot,” but you may be having some sort of marital difficulty. Perhaps it’s just a bump in the road, or maybe it’s a large pothole! It may even be a serious crisis, like we spoke about last week.

None of us come to marriage as a perfect human being. We all have some baggage, so we can’t expect smooth sailing all the time. Unfortunately, sometimes the only thing we have left is our commitment, but let’s not think that’s a small thing – commitment is the solid rocket booster that gets our marriage off the ground, and launches it into orbit.

When I said my vows to my husband, I committed to him for life. And since I enjoy being happy and not sour, I want to do things to make for a happy marriage.

What are the first steps to overcoming marital disabilities?

1. Be willing to do whatever it takes to preserve your marriage. Statistics tell us that married people live longer, are happier, and have higher incomes than their single counterparts. Staying married is worth it!

2. Nurture your marriage. Regularly water it with kindness, weed out bitterness, and be watchful for outside threats. Take some time to creatively invest time and effort into your marriage, and the dry wilted parts will begin to fill out and become beautiful once again.

3. Understand that it will be extremely difficult sometimes, but the rewards are incredible! Just like the children of Israel had to cross the muddy Jordan river and defeat many giants before they could enjoy the fruit of Caanan, so we must endure hardness and defeat “giants” of false philosophies to enjoy the fruits of a happy marriage.

Most of us will never run in the Olympics, even though we have perfectly good feet. But we can rack up a whole bunch of points with our spouse by being willing to commit to our marriage and work on it.

Your Assignment:

1. Dig out something from your wedding, perhaps even something that has your vows on it. Put it in a conspicuous place to remind you of your vows.

If you’re like me, living in an extremely small space, you may not have access to your wedding things. I’m going to be writing down my vows as well as I remember them (they WERE 29 years ago!) and post them up. Maybe I’ll even post them on Facebook!

2. Pray through your vows, asking God to help you keep the vows you’ve already made.

3. Memorize Matthew 19:6 – “Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.”

How are you doing? Let us know!

Linking up with: The Alabaster jar, The Better Mom, Raising Arrows, What Joy Is Mine, Titus Two Tuesdays, Mercy Ink Blog, Time Warp Wife, To Love, Honor, and Vacuum

Marriage Crisis Cleaning!

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Ever feel like you were living in CHAOS (Can’t Have Anyone Over Syndrome)? Most of us have been there; we know how horrifying it can be to hear a knock on the door and realize how awful our home looked. You know the routine. We get a phone call from Aunt Maude, and she says that she’s coming over. In fact, she’ll be here in 10 minutes! Oh, NO! Suddenly, we fly into action! Kids, trash and clutter start flying as we tear around the house trying to make some semblance of order to the place. This is what we call “Crisis Cleaning!”

For years now, I’ve been subscribed to a home organizing group called Flylady. Flylady has helped me so much, giving loving instruction and encouragement on how to slowly but surely remove clutter from my home and give my family a happy life. I rarely have to kick it into Crisis Clean Mode anymore.

But this month, I want to talk about our marriages. Sometimes our marriages are in a crisis. We’re not happy with our relationship to our spouse, and in fact, our marriage is a mess! None of us like to admit it, but sometimes we need help.

To see if you’re in a crisis, take the following quiz:

Do you find yourself:
– emotionally detaching from your husband
– wondering why you ever got married to begin with
– finding sex to be a burden
– walking on eggshells around your husband
– listening to a close friend who is having marital troubles
– wishing he could work longer hours
– or wishing YOU could find a job to take you out of the home when he’s there

If you’ve answered “yes” to any of these questions, then you’ve come to the right place. March Marriage Moments is just for you!

I got married as a 19 year old, having only been a Christian for 3 years. To say I was still “wet behind the ears” is the understatement of the century! Our first year was rocky at best, and in many respects, it went downhill from there. By the time we were married 7 years, we had three sweet children, but we argued all the time.

During this time in our lives, my husband pastored a small church. He had character flaws, and so did I. The combination was quite disastrous! One night, not long after the bank notified us that we were about to lose our home (which was incredibly messy,) we had a huge fight. Neither of us hit each other, but when I went to bed that night, I cried hot tears of anger. I desperately wanted to leave, but I couldn’t – the kids were asleep, and people were depending on me to pick them up for church the next day!

Let me tell you, we were at the lowest of the lows.

But God worked miracles in our marriage, and things are very different now. In the recovery room the other day, as I was doting on My Beloved who was recovering from surgery, the nurse said, “You two look like you never fight. Do you ever argue?” We both had to laugh! If only she knew…

So how did we make it for 29 years (and 7 kids), you ask? The ultimate answer, of course, is God. But there are certain things He showed us, and certain steps we took along the way that I’d like to share with you.

That’s what March Marriage Moments are all about. Each week, I’ll be posting some tips to help your marriage be stronger, and some ideas and activities you can do to draw you closer to your spouse. During the week, I’ll be posting on Facebook links to other good blogs, sites, or additional assignments that have helped me over the years. Maybe we can get some conversation going! And somewhere along the line, I hope to have a guest post by My Beloved himself! By the end of March, hopefully your crisis will have turned around to being on the road to calmness.

Your First Assignment: (if you dare to take it!)

Take a few minutes this week to honestly evaluate your marriage. If possible, do it with your spouse. But if he’s not available or not interested, that’s ok – much friction can be prevented if only one moving part gets oil.

Envision what you want your marriage to be like. Are there any couples you know who are really close? What do they do to be close? Is there something you can learn from them?

Finally, commit to greet your husband with a smile every morning and each time he comes home. It may be tough at first, but after a few days you will begin seeing some real progress from this ONE exercise alone!

Take some time this week to work on your marriage. It’s worth it!

Let us know if you’re taking the assignment! How’s it going?

Linking up with: The Alabaster Jar, The Better Mom, Raising Arrows, What Joy is Mine, Titus Two Tuesdays, Mercy Ink Blog, Time Warp Wife, To Love, Honor and Vacuum