Remember

When it comes to marriage, after recently celebrating our one-year anniversary, my husband and I are babies. In fact, because we met only two years and four months ago, we haven’t even known each other very long. When people ask about our anniversary, I keep exclaiming with a fist-pump and a smile on my face, “We made it!”

Most days, we feel pretty new at everything in our lives. For me it’s a new state, new region, new climate, new job… For both of us it’s a new church, new role as homeowners, new family, new friends, new joys, and new challenges.

That’s a lot of NEW.

Our anniversary weekend was much busier than we might have otherwise chosen, as many events and opportunities piled up into a two-day period. All within about 48 hours, we had to choose between things like a wedding and reception, a free multi-day Christian music festival, visiting with family who had come from out of town, watching the opening day of college football season, going with family to the state fair, AND celebrating our anniversary. It’s like we had too many blessings to try to receive and enjoy in such a short period of time.

And let’s just say I don’t always handle stress, pressure, and over-loaded schedules with a calm sense of grace.

However, my favorite moment of the entire weekend came unexpectedly on Sunday – our anniversary. On a random trip to Walmart that was not originally scheduled in our plan for the weekend, my husband surprised me by pulling off at a state park where we had gone on one of our first dates. We’ve been there a few times together over the last couple of years, hiking to the top of a large hill to look out over the landscape. Bringing our Bibles to share a devotion together. Taking our dog for a little adventure and exercise. This beautiful site holds special meaning for me in particular because it was on our first visit there, holding his hand and walking back down the path to return to the car, that I felt the Lord show His love for and intimate knowledge and understanding of me in His detailed design and plan for bringing us together.

This time on our anniversary, we didn’t climb to the top. Instead, we remained in the car, looking at this place from a distance. I don’t know if he planned it ahead of time or felt inspired in the moment, but my husband used that place to challenge me to remember our year together.

Remember

Some days it’s hard.

We get so busy and caught up in the daily tasks of life: long hours at our jobs that sometimes feel like they dominate our time and energy; responsibilities at home such as cooking, cleaning, and renovation projects; the desire for entertainment, relaxation, and time with friends… (We don’t even have kids yet… I know that’s a whole different league of busy!)

It can be hard to remember.

Even on a more moment-by-moment basis. One of us says or does something hurtful or possibly even thoughtless. The other becomes defensive, and the entire mood of the conversation, day, or relationship feels like it begins to harden or dry up.

It can be hard to remember.

In Joshua 3, the Israelites carried the Ark of the Covenant and miraculously crossed the Jordan River on dry ground to enter into the Promised Land for the very first time. Then in chapter 4, God commanded Joshua to call one man from each of the twelve tribes to carry a stone from the midst of the Jordan to build a monument on the other side.

He wanted them to remember.

20 And those twelve stones, which they took out of the Jordan, Joshua set up at Gilgal. 21 And he said to the people of Israel, “When your children ask their fathers in times to come, ‘What do these stones mean?’ 22 then you shall let your children know, ‘Israel passed over this Jordan on dry ground.’ 23 For the Lord your God dried up the waters of the Jordan for you until you passed over, as the Lord your God did to the Red Sea, which he dried up for us until we passed over, 24 so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the Lord is mighty, that you may fear the Lord your God forever. Joshua 4:20-24

Here’s a part that I’ve often overlooked: even though this was the fulfillment of God’s promise to lead them to a land flowing with milk and honey, they were actually entering into war.

13 About 40,000 ready for war passed over before the Lord for battle, to the plains of Jericho. Joshua 4:13

God knew they were walking into challenges and trials, both literally and figuratively. They would need to remember where they had come from and what God had done. They would need a visual reminder and conversation starter to pass along the heritage of God’s faithfulness to their children.

In the church world, these are sometimes called “stones of remembrance.”

Perhaps we need them in our homes as well, whether they be real stones or another significant object or picture. Our home is decorated with pictures from our engagement and wedding and a framed copy of our vows. Even my bridal bouquet (one of the benefits of using fake flowers!) sits in a vase on the dresser in our bedroom. We have stones of remembrance all around us, so now we just need to slow down and pay attention to them so they can help us to remember.

Remember how God brought us together.

Remember how He confirmed His plans for us.

Remember the mission that the Lord has called us to pursue and accomplish together.

Then we will be filled with the faith and love we need for today, tomorrow, and the next fifty+ years.

Remember in marriage

How Thinking Differently Can Improve Your Marriage

Thinking

 

I remember clearly the day my thoughts about my husband changed.   And I remember how those new thoughts improved my marriage and gave me the man I had always wanted.

Jim and I had been married for 20 years.  Throughout that time we’d struggled with one thing in particular: Jim’s financial irresponsibility.  He had made some poor choices in the early years of our marriage that set the stage for ongoing problems, and I didn’t handle the situation well at all.  I constantly nagged and questioned him about how he managed our money.  My words met with either stony silence, or a brusque “I’ll take care of it.”

I regularly prayed and asked God to change Jim, but my prayers went unanswered.  We were so happy together in every other way; I just couldn’t understand why God didn’t correct this major flaw in my husband.

One day as I was studying the Bible, Philippians 4:8 jumped out at me: “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”  At that moment I understood why God hadn’t answered my prayers regarding my husband’s behavior.  I wasn’t following God’s instructions.  Instead of focusing on the good things about Jim – thinking about what was lovely and admirable about him – I was fixated on the one thing about him that I didn’t like.  In that moment I asked God to forgive me for my bitter spirit, and change my heart.  I wanted to build up my husband, not tear him down.  And I wanted to leave the matter of how he handled our finances to God.  I realized that Jim’s maturity was in the Lord’s hands, not mine.  By trying to transform Jim with my pestering and complaining, I was only making matters worse.

Immediately I made a mental list of all the things about Jim that were excellent or praiseworthy.   Here are just a few that I came up with:

  1. He was a loving, attentive husband.  A day never went by that he didn’t say “I love you.”  Whenever we were walking together,  he held my hand.  He often complimented me, and extolled my virtues.
  2. He was a great dad.  Never too busy to play catch with our son, or share in his other interests.
  3. He was a true family man.  Home every night; not one to go out with the boys.
  4. He had a great sense of humor and made life fun.

My new thinking didn’t change Jim.  It changed me.   It freed my mind so I could live peacefully, and put me in a better position to really hear the Lord and pray properly for my husband.  Instead of asking God to work on Jim, I asked God to continue to work on me.

I can’t tell you when I noticed Jim was different, but I know that he did change.  He became financially responsible and more conservative with our money.   When the Lord called Jim home 18 years later, we were out of debt.   He had arranged for extra life insurance coverage through his employer, which helped carry me financially while I adjusted to living on my single income.

Four years ago I remarried.  What I learned in my first marriage has helped me adjust to my second union.  Whatever is excellent and praiseworthy about my husband, that’s what I think on.

Could changing how you think about your husband improve your marriage?

 

 

To Have and To Hold

To Have and To Hold

As I sprayed the front porch with my water hose, dirt and bugs poured down the side of my house. Blasting those things was exhilarating.

Everything came off under the pressure of that water. Everything except one big spider web.

So I got a stool to stand on, edged in even closer, and blasted that web again. The silken threads thrashed to and fro with each gust of water. But the spider, the web, and her eggs stayed intact.

They weren’t going anywhere.

Flabbergasted, I thought to myself, “Spiders must have an inborn instinct to have and to hold. Under the greatest pressure, they don’t let go.

It reminded me of a time several years ago, when a friend came to me in devastation. Her husband told her he didn’t love her—in fact, he said, he had never loved her.

“It’s over,” she told me.

We talked and I then asked, “Can you hold on to the marriage for just a while longer? You have nothing to lose. You’ve already lost him.”

I told her to become his greatest admirer. Find the good in him. She did. It didn’t work.

I told her to make his favorite dinners and desserts. She did. It didn’t work.

I told her to make love to him as never before. She did. It didn’t work.

I told her to do the things she knows he likes done. She did. It didn’t work.

I told her to pray non-stop for him. She did. It didn’t work.

I told her to tell him, “I vowed to you that I would hold on no matter what.” She told him. But he didn’t care.

After a month she came to me with tears in her eyes and said, “It’s not working Sharon.”

“He’s not gone yet is he?” I said. “I know it’s hard, but keep doing it … because love always protects, always hopes, and always perseveres.”

She took a deep breath.

She chose to keep doing it. And very gradually things started shifting.

He started enjoying the dinners at the table and all the other things she was doing for him—even intimacy.

A year later they found themselves passionately in love with one another. For the first time.

Now, I know the story is not going to turn out the same for everyone. I’ve given the same advice to others without the same results. But I can give you this advice with confidence: when the storms come—and they will—hold on tight, just like the spiders on my porch.

God calls us to have a love that perseveres and hopes. We can’t choose what kind of love the other party will give in return, but there is power in God’s kind of love—a holding-on kind of love.

To have and to hold means you’ve got to hold on when the storm rages. And even if it knocks you off kilter, ask the Lord to give you strength to get back up and hold on some more.

I finally got all the spiders and their webs off my porch. It looked beautiful.

As I was gathering my cleaning supplies and enjoying the clean porch, I saw spiders crawling back up the wall.

I smiled. If I can’t get rid of them, at least I can learn a lesson from them!

Sharon Glasgow is hosting a marriage conference call on May 30,2013 from 8:00PM-9:15 PM EST. If you sign up for the call, you get access to the recording. You can listen to it anytime. Sign up today, it could change your marriage!

Dear Lord, help me to have a love that perseveres through hard times. Help me to love the way You’ve called me to love. Give me hope, strength and wisdom as only You can do. You know I need it. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Sharon Glasgow is an international Christian speaker and author. She is on the  Proverbs 31 Ministries speaking team and has been for 10 years.   She is a contributing author for; NIV Real Life Devotional Bible for Women, The Reason We Speak, God’s Purpose for Every Woman and has been featured in P31 Woman magazine. Sharon and her husband have five daughters, three son-in-laws and two grandchildren. They live on a working farm, milking goats, gathering eggs, gardening and living healthy. She blogs weekly about living The Empowered Life at www.sharonglasgow.com.