Faith Spilling Over… Into Everyday Life


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4 Keys to a Closer Marriage

closer marriageDad’s love for his wife Carole was not the kind people stand in lines to see on the big screen, but it was real nevertheless. Real love took coffee to his wife in bed every morning. Real love did the laundry and grocery shopping. Real love took Carole to the hospital and cared for her when she got too sick to care for herself.

“You never realize how strong the bond with your mate is until that person is gone.”

That’s what Dad said when he lost his wife of 30 years, and hearing it made both my husband and I gulp hard.

Do we really value the marriage bond we share?

Taking each other for granted is easy when you slide into the routines of life: breakfast on the table at 7:30, a quick hug when he leaves the house, a peck on the cheek when he gets back, dinner, dishes, and wrestling the kids to bed.

Before you know it you’re hardly talking.

But God has something better in mind for our marriages:

“And the two will become ONE…

So they are no longer two, but ONE…”

Mark 10:8

 

God intends for us to have marriage relationships marked by oneness. It takes a constant investment of time and energy for two separate people to grow close enough together to become one.

Let’s look at 4 keys to a closer marriage

Communication

Sometimes I struggle to put down what I’m doing to give my husband undivided attention. I bet you do too. But when you think about it, what could be more important than investing in your most significant relationship? A daily decision to focus on being attentive to your mate creates closeness over the months and years.

Setting aside special times to talk might look different for each marriage. Find what works for you. In her post “The Magic Five Hours for a Successful Marriage” Modern Mrs. Darcy writes about marriage researcher John Gottman’s  suggestion to come together for a 20 minute chat to debrief at the end of the day. Jose and I try to stay committed to a weekly date time. When we’re having trouble finding time to talk, we know that date time is coming up.

Prayer

Coming together to pray to the One who put us together strengthens the tie that holds us together.

My husband and I struggled for years to pray together consistently. Finally in our 14th year of marriage, we attended a Navigator’s Prayer Retreat for Couples. God convicted us of our need to make spiritual oneness a daily priority, so we started praying for 5 or 10 minutes at the start of each day. We’ve noticed that even 5 minutes a day contribute to our spiritual oneness.

Sex

This Texas woman is way too shy to say much about it, but I’ll never forget what my mentor said at my bridal shower 20 years ago. Older women were giving marriage advice, and hers was this: “Have lots of sex!” She said it right out loud right in front of everyone, and I about died.

She’s a wise woman. Sex builds intimacy, relieves stress, and even comforts the discouraged. (Now I’ve said more than I ever dreamed I would.)

Physical touch

Do you ever notice how the simple act of holding hands creates an instant bond? After reading an article about it, I’ve been reaching for my husband’s hand more often. Many experts attest to the importance of beginning and ending the day with a hug and a kiss. Physical contact feeds closeness.

Busy work schedules and the demands of parenting can wear away at our communication, undermine our commitment to prayer, and lessen our desire for physical intimacy. But a commitment to investing in our marriages yields a great reward: the sweet companionship of a life-long partner who is our best friend.

Now it’s your turn: How long have you been married? What has helped you to grow closer to your spouse?

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Linking up today with these communities to encourage and be encouraged: Holly Barrett’s #Testimony Tuesday,  Kelly Balarie’s #RaRaLinkup, and Jennifer Dukes Lee’s #TellHisStory

photo credit: Tela Chhe, Creative Commons

 


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Open Homes, Open Hearts (Five Minute Friday)

Open doors, open hearts

At my house hospitality is messy. The floor’s not vacuumed, and the guests may get a glimpse of our bottomless pit hall closet since the door is always left open. That recipe I was trying doesn’t always work out, and sometimes the food is late getting to the table. Just last weekend I mistakenly invited someone for after dinner snacks at 6:00 p.m., and of course they understood I was inviting them to a meal. I felt two inches high.

Even if things get messy, I like to think of hospitality as opening my heart and home to those God sends for us to love. Continue reading


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Opening the Door to More Jesus in our Everyday

Open the Door

“You’ve already told me this four times. You don’t need to tell me again.” The customer service woman on the phone snapped at me.

Do you ever have days when you need more everything? More trust, more patience, and more strength for circumstances that leave you feeling short?

I’d made several phone calls, been on hold for an hour, and now the woman from the airline was telling me she couldn’t issue me a ticket. My sweet dad was coming from New York to visit us in Izmir, Turkey. We were thrilled and thankful until a severe snow storm closed the airport in Istanbul and left Dad trapped in a hotel for two days.

This was not what you would want for your 73 year old father whose wife of 25 years had passed away 8 weeks earlier.

The first day I’d taken a deep breath and kept praying for God to bring Dad to us quickly. By day two my patience eroded. I knew that in a backlog of thousands of snowbound passengers, Dad could be lost in the shuffle.

After several hours and lots of prayer, the airline issued the ticket, but I was convicted by how easily my peace and joy were zapped. Once again I realize how desperately I need more of Jesus in my life. Have you had days like that?

The good news is that Jesus always responds when we open the door and invite Him in.

“I ask him to strengthen you by his Spirit—not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength – that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite Him in.” Ephesians 3:16, 17a (MSG)

 

Will you join me today in opening the door and asking Jesus to come in?

Who doesn’t need more of Jesus?

When we fall short on patience, hope, gentleness, and love, Jesus comes and takes over if we let Him. His Spirit empowers us with a strength we didn’t know we had if we’ll open the door and invite Him in.

Whatever circumstances you’re facing today, join me in whispering a prayer and calling on His name.  He’ll come with whatever we need. When we open the door and invite Him in, He comes.

I’m linking up with Kate Motaung’s Five Minute Friday. Writers all around the world join in a flash mob of free writing. This week’s prompt was “Open.” Join us over at Kate’s place for fun and encouragement.

Also joining Susan B. Mead’s #DancewithJesus and Barbie Swihart’s Weekend Brew.


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Keeping God at the Center of Your Dream

Keeping God at the Center

My husband and I embarked on the craziest, most impossible faith venture of our lives four years ago. God called us to plant a new church in a Muslim city where, humanly speaking, no one is interested in the gospel.

We had no idea what we were getting ourselves into.  That was a good thing because had we known, we probably wouldn’t have said “yes” to God in the first place.

Follow this link to join me over at God-Sized Dreams and read about what we learned when we took our biggest faith risk yet.

god sized dream button

 

I’m also linking up with Meredith Bernard’s Woman2Woman and Jennifer Dukes Lee’s #TellHisStory today.


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My Story: How God Got Hold of This Texas Girl

PicMonkey Collage

I’ll never forget the day I told my Sunday school teacher I wasn’t a Christian back in 3rd grade.

Like every summer, I was spending a week at Grandma’s in Fort Hancock, Texas, so I could go to vacation Bible school. What I knew about the Bible I learned from Grandma.

Since I was a visitor, the Baptist Church lady asked, “Honey, you’re a Christian, right?

Nope,” I said. Continue reading


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Seven Ways to Pray for Our Kids

7 prayers for our kids

This mothering thing sometimes makes me wonder if I’m messing up. My own sweet mother wants to know why I let my son pierce his ear or why on earth I’d help my daughter dye her hair red. My son wants to know why he can’t get a tattoo.

My husband and I both wonder what kind of lasting spiritual impact we’re leaving on our children.

Last week I wrote about encouraging life-long faith in our kids. In six months, we’ll send our son off to college, and we wonder how he’ll live out his beliefs without us. I try to be the best parent I can be, but sometimes I don’t know what to do. So many questions and decisions. Continue reading


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Keep Yourselves in the Love of God (No Matter What)

FMF Keep Yourselves in the Love...

In the course of one day, so many forces can threaten to undo you: the dropped raw egg on the floor at breakfast, snappy words spoken in haste, nagging worries about someone you love, the wondering how you’re going to get it all done.

God’s love is our anchor in the teapot tempests and big storms of life. How do we keep ourselves firmly rooted in Him? Continue reading

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