Priorities: Make Us or Break Us

Why do you work out?

If I’m being totally honest, I started working out to look good in a bathing suit. I know, I know! But that is the truth. It wasn’t about getting healthier because back then I didn’t care about my health, not really. I mean what teenager/ twenty-something gives a darn about their actual health? Maybe that’s an incredibly large over-generalization, but you get you the point.

It wasn’t until recently (and in my 30’s, how did that happen??) that I started to work out for reasons aside from looks. Do I want to look amazing? Of course! But that isn’t the end goal anymore.

A wise friend told me that looking good is just a side effect of taking care of yourself. I love that thought!

That is where I am at. I am working out to get healthier and stronger. Should I look better in the process, so be it! But my work out game has only gotten stronger now that I have real goals in mind.

It is interesting to think changing the end goal of working out changes the reason to work out from superficial to something genuine. It has allowed me to make exercise a lifestyle.

That offers some introspective. For example, just like working out with the goal of getting healthier allows you to focus on form, flexibility, real training, and being able to live/perform better; changing your goals in your Christian walk can allow you to have a deeper relationship with God and all the people around you.

So, what are your goals? Are you a Christian for the sake of saying you are a Christian? Do you show up to church to merely socialize? How about that small group; what is that to you? Is loving people a real thing in your life or something that is saved for just your family? Or are you truly seeking God with your whole heart, mind, and spirit?

Those are some of the questions that I have been grappling over. I have come to find I needed to change my end goal of my faith too. A total overhaul from my body to my mind!

I am setting a goal to not care about the superficial of Christianity (you know, the dress up and look like you have it all together but really, you’re drowning inside trying to do and be everything kind of thing). I am setting the goal to start really digging into a rooted relationship with God and allowing Him to be my everything.

What does that look like?

It looks like me deliberately taking the time to be with God. I have been so poor when it comes to intimate time with God. I worship on Sundays, read when it dawns on me and sometimes do studies (but really don’t pour into it like I need to if I’m honest). It is time to take the initiative and be with the one who loves me more than anything. Time to date God regularly.

It looks like me not caring about the little things that don’t truly matter. I can waste my day cleaning my house from top to bottom for guests when they come over. But does that matter? Not really. Instead, I will not invest my time execessively cleaning. I will invest it with God which will pour out into my guests. I think they will enjoy that more than a freshly mopped floor, lol! Be a Mary, not a Martha. (Man, that poor Martha sure got a bad rep.). New mantra: People over stuff.

It looks like me being humble. This one is hard for me. But I know that I need to humble myself most days so that I can clearly see God and not my “deeds”. Simply pray a prayer of “thank you” every time I feel I have accomplished something on my own because it isn’t me, it is GOD. Have you heard the Tauren Wells song Hills and Valleys? Soooo good! Watch it! It’s a great reminder that I am not alone and that I did not accomplish where I am on my own either.

There are so many things that can happen when these little changes are made when the end goal is God. Just like working out to get healthier will have the side effect of looking and feeling better, truly walking with God will have the side effect of a fulfilled life. That kind of lifestyle is what I want. That kind of lifestyle pours out onto other people.

Let God be your end goal. He will do the work. You just simply need to allow Him.

 

Where is Your Medicine?

Proverbs 28:26,“He who trusts in his own heart is a fool but he who walks wisely will be delivered.”

Can you remember the last time your heart got you in trouble? I can! In fact, just last night my husband and I got into an argument. The argument ended with him telling me to leave him alone and me letting him fall asleep on the couch and literally leaving him alone there.

I was alone in bed half the night.

That may not seem like a big deal to you, but we NEVER do that. We always go to bed together. The next morning, we both felt terrible.  It seems that when I follow the desires of my heart in the moment, I am hurting myself and those around me.

It’s incredible, really, what we can fool ourselves into thinking when we follow the foolish desires of our hearts. Especially when we are fearful of the discomfort that comes from looking in the mirror.

I wanted so badly to blame someone else for my sins. I felt unloved, unwanted, ashamed and guilty. But, surely, none of that could be my fault, because let’s be honest here, no one truly wants to take blame.

We are all victims, right?

That is what I thought until a couple of years ago. I blamed my self-disgust completely on my husband’s struggle with pornography. Hear me, his sin DID do a number on us. On our marriage, him, me and numerous other areas. But, THAT sin did not CAUSE my sin.

Ouch.

His sin was from HIS heart and my sin, well, that was from MY heart. My sins were in place before I even met my husband. We were both following our foolish hearts.

My feelings of insecurity stem from not connecting with God fully in my heart. My feelings of guilt stem from not allowing myself to be forgiven fully in my heart. My feelings of shame stem from not letting God shine his light in some areas of my heart. My feelings of being unloved stem from not fully realizing the price God ALREADY paid.

MY SIN. Not my husband’s. Not anybody else’s. Mine.

I know that all of you are struggling in life somewhere right now. I am here to encourage you, that you are not alone in those struggles. EVERYONE struggles. Look around. Our entire culture brings about struggle.

The standards of the world put insane expectations on us. I mean, women especially. (Not that men don’t have expectations!) We are expected to look like Barbie, cook and clean like Susie homemaker, perform like porn stars, be successful in our careers and be Pinterest-worthy mothers! That is ludicrous. No one can measure up to all of that AND not sin somewhere along the way.

The standards that the world puts on us begin to define who we are if we let them. Trust me, don’t let this world define you.

Colossians 3:1-2 “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set you minds on things above, not earthly things.”

When you set your mind on earthly things, your thought life never ceases to tell you how you have horribly failed in this life!

Guess what? A sinful thought life leads to a sinful way of life.

Your thought life is the first step. The initial sin.

When you continually allow yourself to think sinful thoughts, eventually you are going to act on them. Or medicate them.

I know so many people who go through life medicating all the sadness, guilt, shame, inadequacy that they allow to brew in their thought life.

What thoughts are you allowing to hang around?

Are you medicating? with Alcohol? Sex? Shopping? Gossip? Anger? Resentment? Jealousy? Food?

BUT LISTEN: There is GREAT news! Your sin is not the end of your story. Jesus can be your medicine.

The truth is, God didn’t create you to be so stuck in your mud that you can’t move. You are not destined to sin! Romans 6:14 says “…sin shall not have dominion over you.”

God’s standards, unlike the world’s standards will set you free! God created you to live life to absolute fullest that is possible.

But here’s the thing, you simply cannot live in darkness and stand up in your full potential from God.

I was reading an article the other day called 7 Truths to Help You Triumph Over Sin by Michael L. Jacobson and he brought about this simple but life altering question about sin. Do you believe that sin is inevitable or do you believe that sin conquerable?

God says that, with him, we are more than conquerors. MORE than CONQUERORS. We have the choice.

Do you want to continue down the path of self-destruction or do you want to begin to walk wisely and be delivered?

Are you ready to look in the mirror and face YOUR sins? That is the first step. You no longer need to play a victim. Listen, God already gave us what we need to conquer sin. We have his AUTHORITY. He keeps us upright. We just need to step in the ring.

2 Timothy 1:7 “For the spirit of God does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.”

Pray. Step up.

I encourage you to this week to sit down and dig deep into your thought life. Where are you sinning? WRITE down those sins. All of them. Pray and ask God to forgive every single one of them. Let me be clear here: in asking for forgiveness of these sins, you are not creating your salvation. Jesus already did that. He died on the cross for our sins. Asking for forgiveness of these sins allows you to find closure there. It allows you to find freedom there.

Lastly, start to recognize the triggers that cause you to stumble in your thought life. Recognizing these triggers allows you to take back your thoughts. Once you can recognize and capture the sinful thoughts (guilt, shame, jealousy, etc.) replace them with Biblical truths.

Stop the lies and build the truths.

1 Peter 3:3-4 “Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.”

It takes time. There is no overnight fix. Work at it. Work at it because you are worth it. Work at it because you do not have to play a victim. Work at it because you are worthy. Not only in my eyes, but in our Creator’s.

He loves you. He cares about how you are living. He wants you to listen to his word, not YOUR heart.

Let him help you break free from these chains.

Let him be your medicine.

Do You Feel Worthy this Season?

This year, there has been this reoccurring theme of worth. Worth seems to be linked to everything we do. Or don’t do.

According to the dictionary worth means: “sufficiently good, important, or interesting to justify a specified action; deserving to be treated or regarded in the way specified.”

Do you ever feel unworthy? Have you thought that you weren’t deserving?

It isn’t just you. It’s me. It’s all of us. We constantly feel unworthy. In fact, as I write this, I am second guessing every word. Ugh.

Unworthiness is a crazy stronghold. It is time that we, as people, break free from those chains. It is time to remember to whom we belong.

“Whenever you feel unloved, unimportant or insecure, remember to whom you belong.” Ephesians 2:19-22

I figured, what better season to talk about our worth than right now. Christmas is a wonderful time to remember who we are in Christ because we are celebrating him!

Jesus loves us. He wants us to feel worthy.

Feeling worthy is vital. Feeling worthy allows us to live life better. When we feel that we are deserving, we open up to love and happiness. Guess what happens when we feel loved? We love other people better!

Feeling worthy is a necessity, especially if you love Jesus. Listen, friends, he did not put us here to feel bad about ourselves. Jesus doesn’t look at us that way. He loves us exactly where we are. In the thick of our craziness, his love is there.

So, why do we feel like we aren’t deserving?

The enemy. Plain and simple. All those self doubts, negative thoughts, feelings of unworthiness, those aren’t from Jesus.

DO NOT listen to those negative words.

Would Jesus love us so much that he died for us so we could spend eternity with him to only then tell us how horrible we are? NO!!!!

Stop listening to those negative words.

The only reason those thoughts creep in is so that enemy can handicap us.

I heard this great quote at a convention I recently attended: “You can only love other people once you love yourself.” Wow. Guys, that says it all.

What is our command from Jesus, friends? To LOVE God and to LOVE one another. How can we do that if we don’t feel worthy enough to be loved?

Trust me here guys, we are worthy. Jesus says so.

Do me a favor, listen to God instead. He loves us. He wants us. We are important to him.

This Christmas season, show other people how much he loves us. Remember to whom you belong and put on your crowns.

Merry Christmas!

 

 

 

What Now?

Hey Guys,

This election has been pretty crazy. Any way you look at it someone loses.

Let me first say, which ever way the outcome was going to be, I felt the need to write something addressing it. Because, well, let’s face it, both of our primary choices left me wanting to puke.

Here we are. The outcome is Trump. Some are wildly upset, some enthusiastically overjoyed, and some just don’t know what to think.

The most common question I have been hearing is “What now?”.

Well, if you’re a Christ follower, I think it is pretty clear:

Stay the course.

People are watching like they have never watched before because for some reason Trump has been correlated to Christianity. Which means that what he does affects how people view Christianity.

Now, if you truly walk with Jesus, you know as much as I do that Trump is not the face of Christianity. Not my Christianity anyway. Jesus is.

So, listen, continue to trust God, continue to love, continue to be respectful, continue to accept people with open arms because that is our duty. Jesus loves. We need to love.

It is NOT our place to demean or judge other people, especially if they are not Christ followers. It is our place to continue to allow Jesus to mold OUR hearts. They shall know us by our love, right?

So what now?

Trust God. Go out and love. Show people who Jesus really is.

Don’t become Pharisees.

And you know what? God has the rest.

Praying for our President and our country.

Melissa

 

Laundry and Dishes

Hubby and I had the week off from our kids last week. Before they left , I thought that I would be doing all sorts of things from household honey-do lists to shopping for fun. Then the real kid vacation began and I honestly didn’t do much of anything. It was pretty anticlimactic. And, honestly, eye-opening.

Let’s back up a bit. I have been struggling hard with who I am at this point in my life. I keep asking myself what on earth do I have to offer other people; how can I help. I thought maybe going back to school to finish my masters would be the best thing to do, but it just doesn’t work at the moment for numerous reasons. I have been at a loss. Am I really here to do laundry and make dinner? That just seems too quintessential.

With all that on my mind, I thought for sure that I would have a great time catching up on all sorts of things and maybe have some epiphany of who I am supposed to be or what I am supposed to do with this life while the kids were gone. You know, come to see the bigger picture of what God was wanting in my life. (Which is a whole different post to discuss at a later time, lol!)

Guess what? I did have an epiphany. I realized that, my most important work right now is my family. I am meant to lead those children to become disciples. That is a hard realization. That is an answer which requires me to die to myself daily; to die to my own glory for the sake of God’s glory in them. Ouch.

After being punched in the face with that reality, I felt ashamed of not thinking that I was doing any work worthwhile. I felt guilty for thinking of only me and my life. And then I was brought to my knees with the weight of the task at hand. Hubby and I are our kids examples and leaders to Christ. That is INSANE! That takes my breath away.

So, here we are on the first day of the school year (we home school, yes, we are that family) and I feel more fulfilled than I have felt in a very long time. It has astonished me that serving other people, like my husband and children, actually makes me feel better. All I have to do is give it up to God. Every. Day. Give my life up to God. I wish I would have learned that sooner.

Is God Interested in my Comfort?

What is your version of comfort? I know that when I grab a big fluffy blanket, some hot tea and curl up on the couch, I am comfortable. I will literally ask one of my kids to get something for me (that I could probably get if I reached just a little tiny bit) so that I don’t have to move my body at all. Super lazy! Don’t get me wrong, sometimes that is totally needed, especially after a very long, hard day with school and the kids. I get it! But, sometimes it is the sum of being a lazy slug.

In those times, I am reminded of how I am not doing my body or brain any favors by being a couch potato. In those times, I think about God’s purpose for my life. Is it to be comfortable? Did he create me, give me this life with these people so that I can lay back and slide through life comfortably without having to lift a finger? I don’t think that is his plan.

I have never met an athlete that doesn’t push their body to the limit in order to get better. Or a successful writer that hasn’t had to stretch their minds in order to improve their writing. There is not one person that has truly succeeded in their field without stepping outside their comfort zone in one aspect or another. It is plain and simple that people do not grow, get better, reach more people without being uncomfortable first. Growth doesn’t happen on the couch.

As I read through the Bible, over and over again I see people stepping out of their comfort zones in order to obey God. Moses went from a super comfortable living situation in a palace to living in the desert for 40 years. Instead of marrying someone he knew and loved, Hosea married a prostitute that cheated on him numerous times. Jonah, although hesitating the entire time, traveled to a place he definitely didn’t want to go in order to obey God. None of things seem comfortable to me, yet all of them were required by God. So, is God concerned with my level of comfort? Or is it my level of obedience?

I think, coming from an American viewpoint, we have gotten a little off track when it comes to following Jesus. I am reading a book by Jennie Allen (she is just an amazing woman of God and you can buy her book if you click on the title of it!!) called Anything: The Prayer That Unlocked My God and My Soul. In this book she talked about Jesus being radical; that following and obeying Jesus is radical. She discusses that somewhere along the lines, we have come to believe that once we give our lives to Christ, life should be easy; in that we pray to God to show us what to do and then think that the easiest possible answer that pops up must be the one from God. This my friends, is not true. Our lives are not going to be easy! Read the Bible if you want proof, lol!

Now, before I get people yelling about how it says that God wants to prosper us and give us hope, let me tell you, yes! Absolutely God wants the best for you. But, I think that what we think is the best for us (or the most comfortable) is often times not what God thinks is best for us or for his kingdom. Often times, in order to receive the best version of our life from God, we have to obey; even the uncomfortable requests.

Jesus also said that we will have trouble in this world. Not if we will, but that we will. But listen, that is ok! Trouble is everywhere. Sin is everywhere, we are not exempt from that. However, God already won. We don’t have to worry about winning that war. That is the best news, isn’t it? Even in our personal struggles or the troubles of the world, God is with us and he has won. All we have to do is lean into him. Even in death, we win!

So, when it comes to my personal comfort, I don’t know that God is too concerned about it. God did tell us to rest; please remember to rest, it is vital to life, but our level of comfort is another story all together. Growth does not come from comfort. If you want to dig deeper, stretch your mind, grow in your walk with God, become better than you were yesterday, get out of your comfort zone and into the world. Spread the love of Jesus the way he did.

 

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3 Ways Porn Wrecked My Marriage

*DISCLAIMER: This post is raw, real and vulnerable. My husband was the very first person to read this writing. It was his decision to have me post it to try to help other people struggling.

Pornography. That word makes every ounce of my being shudder. I don’t really hate a lot of things, but this, this I hate. If pornography was a person, I would punch it until it dropped to the ground and then I would curb stomp its face. Now, I didn’t always used to have such a strong reaction to pornography. In fact, I used to watch it; both by myself (before getting married) and then with my husband. I was under the impression, like so many others, that pornography helps to enhance our sex lives. But, man, can I tell you thinking that way is a straight up lie. Pornography is a straight up lie. It almost ruined our marriage. Pornography wreaked havoc on my self-esteem, devastated our sex life and destroyed trust between my husband and me.

  1. My self-image changed in every respect for the worse.

Every single part of who I thought I was changed. I no longer felt vibrant and lovable; I never felt good enough. He wanted to watch some other women do sexual acts instead of being with me. I often thought I needed to look like a porn star and act like a porn star just so he would notice me. I felt like an object. I was only there to be pretty and fulfill every sexual need. I distinctly remember asking him one time if I was better than porn. Of course, he said yes. But, of course, I couldn’t believe it. Over the years, I tried to “win” his affection back by competing against what he liked to watch. I would see that he liked stripper type stuff, so I would dress up and give a show. Wow, what that did to me was horrendous. It is something that I struggle with to this day, to this minute, this very second. Who I was before this affected us, is definitely not who I am now.

  1. I stopped wanting to have sex with my husband.

You know, a lot of people think that introducing porn into their sex life is something that will “spice it up”. Yet, there we were, not having a whole lot of sex anymore. There were these expectations that I felt I had to live up to. Having sex with him was a show. I felt like I had to perform exactly like the women he watched. The true intimacy that a husband and wife should have, was nowhere to be found which made it difficult to really engage. I couldn’t be vulnerable with him. I couldn’t really “feel” during that act. I no longer enjoyed sex, I no longer wanted him to touch me and I did not want to touch him. Over time, I related having sex with my husband as something negative. That was bad. Not only did it affect our marriage at that point in time, but it continues to affect our marriage even now. I have had to work through a lot of negative to become available, emotionally and physically, to my husband again.

  1. Trust issues ran amuck in our relationship.

One of the most important things in a relationship is trust. When he was addicted to porn, there was no trust. He constantly would tell me lies to cover it up. I remember the first time that we talked about it. He simply responded that it was no big deal and that every man does it. So, I simply set it aside and let it go. I even allowed it in our bedroom together. But over time, it felt worse and worse. The distance between became greater. So, that ended. Then, I found out again that he was watching porn on his own; which is silly because I knew the whole time. I felt not good enough and second-rate. I was hurt. I asked him to stop and he agreed. But at this point I didn’t believe him. I would go through his phone, the computer, our television just to see what he watched or looked up. The smallest thing would set me off.  Low and behold the third time came around. This was the boiling point. I felt betrayed. I was done. The little trust that was left was shattered into pieces. Gone.

This boiling point sent us over the edge. There was an ultimatum now: stop looking at porn or leave. Praise God that my wonderful husband chose help. The first step we took, we took together. We set up an appointment with our pastor to go over everything. At the appointment, there was breakthrough. We learned about an organization called XXXchurch. They have a super cool spyware software that will not allow people to look at porn on their computers, tablets, phones; pretty much any device. So, we set that up. Which was awesome because I could let go of trying to do detective work and focus on healing. There was also a book that we both read. Every Man’s Battle by Fred Stoeker and Stephen Arterburn. This book is a great “manual”, if you will, to learn how to stop looking at porn, checking women out and basically being faithful to your spouse mentally and physically. My husband and I learned a whole lot from that book. Both of these were extremely helpful and tangible first steps. But, let me tell you, if it wasn’t for God, we would be divorced. If it wasn’t for God we would be alone. We both persistently leaned into God.

God showed us both how to get through this. For my husband, he needed to learn to get past the addiction. For me, I needed to learn trust again. So, there we were, both trying to do right by each other. I can say that everything was roses right away, but that’s a lie. This road to recovery for us was a long and difficult one. This road to recovery is something that we both struggle with daily. He has to daily commit to make me his only eye candy.  I have to commit daily to trust him. There are times that we fail, well because we’re human of course. But, mostly, we are growing and going forward with God in life and marriage. In the book Every Man’s Battle, they talk about the wife being annoyed after the husband stops looking at porn because he now yearns for her WAY more. It’s true, lol! But I am far from annoyed because every time he shows me that yearning, my self-esteem grows and my desire for him gets stronger. Now, three years later and we’re on the other end, our marriage has never been stronger. My husband is the man of my dreams, the best father to our children that I could have hoped for and more over a man who loves the Lord. Jehovah Rapha is who we have to thank.

Do you or someone you know need help? Start with prayer. Another great first step is to contact XXXchurch (www.xxxchurch.com) and your pastor. Please don’t wait. Please seek help. Your life can be so much better.

If you are interested in reading the book (which I highly recommend) Every Man’s Battle, you can purchase it here:  Every Man’s Battle by Fred Stoeker and Stephen Arterburn.

 

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Being Relevant in Babylon

Joey-Kikke-Greece-Painting

There is no doubt that our current country is very similar to that of ancient Babylon. Everywhere you look there are different opportunities to overindulge, advocate for sin and be instantly gratified beyond what you should be. It seems that our country puts a whole lot of emphasis on sin and whole lot less on everything else. What I mean to say is that sin, all different types, is placed on a pedestal instead of knocked to the ground. Now, this causes some concerns.

A friend of mine and I have been studying the book of Daniel with the Bible study by Beth Moore. We have only gotten through a couple of weeks, but they have been very thought-provoking weeks! (I highly recommend this study, you can purchase the entire kit for a small group from this link: Beth Moore Daniel Study ) One of the very first things that we learned in the study is that Daniel was one of very many that were taken from their home and brought to Babylon. Now, I am unsure of how many the “very many” consisted of, but it is very clear that only four of these people remained named in the story today: Daniel, Meshach, Abednego and Shadrach. Why? What made these four people different from all the other boys that were taken and brought to Babylon? The answer is simple. They did not put sin on a pedestal. They chose not to defile themselves. Even in a world that was completely tempting, completely open to them, everything available that they could have wanted, they chose God. Don’t get me wrong here, I am a dirty sinner. Always have been and, unfortunately, always will be. That is not what I am getting at here. What this story brought to mind is that those four men became relevant in Babylon without having to give into the culture around them. This is the idea that I have been struggling with.

We all sin. Jesus died for those sins. We are all loved. We are called to love God. We are called to love one another. There is no question to me about that. The question is simply, even though we are called to love one another, where is the line between loving and enabling? Between loving and assimilating to the culture around us? Between loving and becoming irrelevant? I know that there will be the “but we are told to love, period.” Yes, absolutely. Love, not enable. Just because you love someone doesn’t mean that you are going to allow them to do whatever they want, whenever they want, however they want because it makes them happy or feel good. For example, Let’s say a man and a woman get married. They love each other. They want to see the other person happy. However, just because those are the truths, it doesn’t mean that the husband would allow the wife to sleep with other men because that made her happy. Chances are, there would be arguments, dysfunction and eventually divorce. Love is not enabling; love is not advocating for sin. Jesus met a woman at a well, a pretty well-known story. In short, he forgave her of her sins and she was extremely excited about this. She ran into the city and told everyone about Jesus.  Jesus did not say to her “Hey, I love, go ahead and keep sinning”. No. He told her to sin no more because he loved her. 

Listen, we can not be relevant in our Babylon if we continually advocate and condone the sin around us. We can love one another without being a stumbling block to those around us. I recently listened to a message from Andy Stanley. The series is called Happy (you can listen to the whole series here: www.happyseries.org). In the last message of the series, he spoke of the fruit of the spirit. The fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. What hit me the most was his reiteration of what the Bible says about the fruit of the spirit. “Against these things, there is no law”. That is awesome, my friends. We can love one another by striving to have the fruit of the spirit. We can love one another by loving God first. He will give us the discernment; the boundary line not to cross. He will show us how to love without assimilating to the culture we live in. When we love God first, we become relevant in our Babylon.

How do you remain relevant in your Babylon? How do you love?

 

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Growth

 

I met with a group of wonderful women the other night. Every time we meet, we go through some questions that are supposed to make us dig deep into conversation. One of the questions stood out to me this time. It asked “In what area of your life do you want to see growth?”. At first, I couldn’t answer, not because there wasn’t an answer but because so many came racing through my mind; getting in shape, being healthier, reading more, spending more quality family time, etc. But then there it was. My marriage.

For so long, I have (actually my husband and I both have) been putting a lot, if not all, of our energy into our children. We plan their curriculum and activities. We make sure that they eat healthier foods. We take the time to read, play and teach them. We go on outings that are meant for mainly their enjoyment. The list could go on for days! Now, all of these things are good. All of these things are meaningful to create productive, loving, empathetic human beings. However, there is a thin line between putting our children above our marriage and putting our marriage first. We crossed that line and now it is time to recover.

We went on a second honeymoon not too long ago which allowed us to reconnect on a whole new level. We were able to just be man and wife, best friends and lovers. That trip was wonderful! For one, we were both happier and for another, we were able to be on the same page for everything that we did. This new-found connection has shown me that I am not just a mom, my husband isn’t just a dad but we are two people who started a family and then added children to it. Meaning, we were married first, then our children were added onto our already established family. So, we need to treat it that way!

I have been reading a great devotional that discusses how to raise children in a Godly manner. One thing that the author touched on was putting marriage first. Evidently there is an order in the household: God, marriage, children. Now, when we put our marriage above our children, we are only doing good because it benefits us in obvious ways but it also benefits the kiddos because they feel secure, they have a model of what marriage should look like and they learn how to put other people first. All of that sounds pretty good to me. So, God, then marriage, then children it is!

This question of growth in my life, without a doubt, has brought me to the realization that my children are not the center of the universe and they shouldn’t be. It has brought me the realization that my husband is one wonderful man who I fall in love with every day. It has brought me the realization that although I struggle hourly with day-to-day life in general, I have a partner, best friend and confidant that I need to put first. I need to put our marriage first, not just for me but for my husband and my children. That is where I choose to grow today.