Free ebook download “Prayers Spoken, Lives Changed” by Jennifer O. White

I wanted to share this blessing with you. It’s a free ebook download titled “Prayers Spoken, Lives Changed: God’s Extraordinary Love in 18 Ordinary Lives”  by Jennifer O. White. I always love hearing stories of God answering prayers.  It stirs my faith when I see God move powerfully and do the extraordinary in our ordinary lives. I just finished this book and was encouraged by all the stories of God’s faithfulness. He is true to His Word! I pray this book blesses and stirs up your faith as it has mine.

 

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This short book is filled with eighteen real life problems that were given to God in prayer. Each problem was met with the incredible power of God. Each victory reminds us that God is alive. God hears. God moves on behalf of His people when they call out to Him for help.

God’s love for you is extraordinary!

Be encouraged. God is Who He says He is. He is proving it all around us. We can depend on Him. He and His Word are alive and active.

He is aware of you and your needs.

Join with me in celebrating this God Who is faithful to each of us. Let these accounts of His faithfulness fill you with hope.

God is listening to you. God wants you to discover His giving, shepherding nature.

God Answers Prayer.

In order to get the book as a free download, you need to register here: http://eepurl.com/KiGHr. It will also gives you access to Jennifer’s email newsletter which comes out 2x a month at the most. You can unsubscribe at anytime if it does not inspire you to enjoy a Hope-Filled relationship with God.

 

jenniferwhiteJennifer O. White is an author, speaker and encourager to those seeking a life of hope, peace and confidence. You are invited to join her on a brave life, marriage, and world-changing adventure with Jesus at her blog: Prayerfully Speaking, and her free ebookPrayers Spoken, Lives Changed: God’s Extraordinary Love in 18 Ordinary Lives. Check out her upcoming book for new brides here.

 

 

 

 


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Eighteen Years Ago

Eighteen years ago today my husband asked me to officially be his girlfriend.  I shared how God first drew our hearts together in the first post in my marriage series.  You can follow follow this link  to read it.

I am happy to announce the second winner in my giveaway is Livivua Chandler. Livivua, I will email you shortly.  Thanks to all who entered.  I will continue sharing my personal marriage testimony on Friday. And tomorrow, Warren Baldwin will be sharing how godly wisdom has helped strengthen his marriage of 31 years.

Lastly, today is the last day the ebook version of my book “You Can Have a Happy Family: Steps to Enjoying Your Marriage and Children” is free on Amazon. You can use the share tabs below to let others know.


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Our 17th Wedding Anniversary!

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Today’s my husband’s and my 17th wedding anniversary! Though the last 17 years have not been easy, at any point, the blessings God has worked in our lives, our marriage, and our family make all the trials we’ve gone through seem insignificant. When my daughter was asked why she wanted to be baptized, she simply replied, “Because of the miracles God has worked in my family.”

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I am so humbled by the love God has shown me and my family. It scares me to think about where we’d be today without Him. I pray for His glory to continually be upon us, because I know we can do nothing apart from Jesus. I am so excited to celebrate this anniversary with my husband and children praising God for holding us together all these years. I pray that He continually reminds us to seek and rely on Him with all our hearts, and not let anything the devil throws at us separate us.

 

 The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.

John 10:10, KJV

Thank you to all who entered my gift card and marriage book giveaway. I am happy to announce that Joyce Glass is the first winner. Joyce, I’ll be contacting you shortly. The second winner will be announced tomorrow! 

My marriage series will continue on Monday with a message by Warren Baldwin.  Warren and his wife, Cheryl, have been married for 31 years.  He will share how seeking God’s wisdom, knowledge, and understanding will keep our marriages strong.

Lastly, to support marriages, the ebook version of my book “You Can Have a Happy Family: Steps to Enjoying Your Marriage and Children” will be free on Amazon for my anniversary weekend (Saturday and Sunday 7/20-7/21). You can use the share tabs below to let others know.

 

 


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Marriage Series: “United Prayer” by Amanda Schreiber

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Today’s marriage post is by my friend, Amanda Schreiber. I met Amanda last year at our kids’ homeschool co-op class. We helped teach the preschool class. When I met Amanda, her and her husband were going through major financial difficulty. As we talked, we realized we had a lot of similarities.  God spoke some promises to Amanda and I individually prior to our meeting. When we met, we both had been discouraged and afraid to look back at those promises out of fear of disappointment. I strongly believe God connected us together to remind us that His promises still stand. In February, I wrote about our meeting in my post “God’s Promises Still Stand.” A few months  later, God blessed both our husband’s with job opportunities, which were an answer to both our prayers.

God is doing a wonderful work in Amanda’s family. I’m excited to have her contribute to this marriage series. I know you will be blessed by this message about the power of prayer in our marriages. This goes great with Kerry’s message on Monday about how Jesus must increase, and we must decrease (John 3:30), to see God work wonders in our marriages.

United Prayer

By Amanda Schreiber

 

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I’d like to thank Amanda for asking me to be a guest on her blog.  When she approached me with this subject a while back and told me she was going to be starting a new marriage series, I knew exactly what I would write about, as it had recently become dear to my heart.  Today I’d love to share with you the importance of united prayer in the life of a healthy marriage.

Back in April, our family decided to embark upon a 40 Day Challenge.  To learn more about this, you can check out my previous blog post that lays out the details. The crux of our family challenge rested in the belief that God was able to do immeasurably more than we could ever ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20)…and we were expecting BIG things from Him…in our circumstances, and within the heart of our family.  One of the most crucial components to this challenge involved my husband and I committing to pray together daily.

In all honesty, it was something we didn’t do nearly enough.  We often had the intention to do so, even talked about it, but as each day drew to a close we would find ourselves too tired and would end up putting it off till the next day.  And then the next…And then the next.  Too often we found ourselves only praying together when there was an urgent need.  This is something we both longed to change.  So as part of our family challenge, my husband and I made a commitment to get down on our knees together nightly to do this.

During our nightly “kneetime” we prayed bold and audacious prayers over our family and our circumstances.  This is where things really began to take root.  It by far has been the most effective and rewarding aspect of our entire family challenge.  I can’t begin to express the importance of this one, simple, yet so necessary, act.  I truly believe this is where the majority of God’s wonder-working was activated.

So, back to our 40-day challenge, when my husband and I began to pray together each night, we took this very seriously. Aloud we declared our mountain of debt to move…we spoke God’s Word and His promises over us, claiming them for ourselves, thanking Him in advance for these blessings and promises before they even came to be.  Our belief and resolve was strengthened and we often could feel the presence and power of God hovering over us during this prayer time.  We prayed that God would “wonder-work” in and around us, believing Him to do so.  We took Him at His Word, that:

You do not receive because you do not ask…” James 4:2 (so we asked!)

…believe and it will be given to you.” Matthew 21:22  (so we believed)

Abide in Me and let My word abide in you, ask, and it will be given to you.” John 15:7 (so we abided and continued to ask and believe)

Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, then all these things will be added unto you.” Matthew 6:33 (so we sought Him first and foremost)

We hit our knees together nightly believing that God would come through and do the immeasurably more.  Common daily prayer requests included things such as asking God to either bless my husband’s current business or open up doors of new opportunity.  We thanked Him that He would open up the right ones and close the wrong ones.  We prayed that God would increase our faith and give us a spirit of wisdom and revelation.  That He would cause us to be fruitful and effective and influential to those around us.  That He would bless our relationships, and fill us with a passion for Him and His word above anything else. We thanked God, that although our needs were great, He was ABLE and He was GREATER than all of our needs.

Over the course of our 40 day challenge,  He did just that!  My husband is going on his third month in a new career.  At first we struggled with fear at this prospective career move.  But God has taught us a thing or two along the way.  We’ve learned that sometimes we just have to trust Him, even if we don’t have all the answers and all of our ducks are not yet in a row.  Sometimes we have to throw all logic out the window and just follow.  To walk by faith and not by sight.  Small steps of obedience, sometimes into the unknown.  Trusting Him with our day and our future, even when we don’t have all the answers before us.

We had asked God to open up the “right” door, and trusted that He would do so.  So, when this new opportunity was presented to us, it seemed ridiculous not to look into it.  We didn’t know exactly what the job description would be, or what the salary would be, but we had prayed for a door of opportunity. And when God opened a door, in trust, we walked through it.  God filled us with a great sense of peace, and we thanked Him for doing immeasurably more.  In my prayer journal, I wrote that my husband and I were on “cloud 9” because of this new career opportunity.  What we didn’t know, is that God had even more “immeasurably more” to show us.

A week and a half into working this new job, my husband and I still didn’t have a set salary offer.  We knew God would take care of us, because He had been faithful all along, even in our season of lacking.  We knew that in time, my husband would have opportunity for growth within this new company.  We were excited and content, and continued to thank God nightly for this new opportunity. We’ve learned that when you grow to be content with what God has given you, it places you in a position to receive even more.

After almost two weeks of work, my husband was given an official set salary.  We were completely blown away when he was offered 30% more than his previous pay, considerably more than we ever imagined.  We were speechless and dumbfounded, and simply could not believe that God had provided for us in this way.  We are still pinching ourselves over this!  This was a true example of Him answering prayer and providing immeasurably more than we could have ever asked or imagined.

Our long season of desert and leanness is drawing to a close.  God has come through!  God is moving mountains!  God has provided a way out!  God has done the immeasurably more!  He is worthy of all of our praise!

I believe that united prayer was the catalyst to these answered prayers.  My husband and I had been praying about his work and our finances for three years.  And for three long and arduous years, these prayers didn’t seem to be answered.  In fact, our circumstances seemed to be spiraling downward.  Although we individually prayed over these things during this season, we rarely prayed over these things together.  What we found is that there is great power in united prayer.  God’s Word says:

“Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.” (Matthew 18:19–20, NKJV)

It’s important to realize that the context of this verse is true for all who are obedient to Christ and are praying His will.  I don’t believe that God desires for us to be in lacking.  But I do believe that if we find ourselves in a season of lacking, there is purpose in it.  God doesn’t waste our pain or hardships.  He uses them.  He is able to work all things out for our good according to His mighty Romans 8:28 promise.

Jesus came so that we could have life and have it to the full (John 10:10).  Abundant life isn’t found in what we possess, but rather in having more of God and the things of Him in our life.  In living a life of holy purpose.   Things of Christ are to be sought out over things of this world.  He is far more concerned about our hearts than our circumstances.  He often works from the inside out.  Beginning with matters of the heart.  He is after a heart that truly seeks Him first.  This should always be our chief prayer.  To have more of Him. True joy and contentment can only be found when we are following hard after Him and fulfilling His purpose in our lives.  In the great truth of Matthew, when we seek God and His righteousness first, then all these other things will be added unto us (Matthew 6:33).

I was curious to see when all of the changes and answers to prayer began to take place in our family challenge, so I took a look back in the journal I’d kept over those 40+ days.  I found that it was on the evening of Day 10 that my husband was first presented with a new job opportunity.  That very morning, I had written this prayer in my journal, (looking back at it now astonishes me!)

“TODAY, I KNOW OUR GOD WILL COME THROUGH! Praise You LORD for future breakthroughs and victories in our family…More of You LORD, less of me.  Show me Your face, unleash Your supernatural, wonder-working power in and through and around me, my husband, and our family.  Guard our hearts from pride LORD as You begin to reveal Yourself and Your work and Your wonders in and around us.  LORD, we give You all the glory.  Keep us humble, always, before You.   Show us profound evidence of Your activity.  May we always come on bended knee before You, never stealing Your glory, but declaring with all of our lives that YOU ARE LORD!  Astonish us with Your wonderful works.  Interrupt our lives with Your power and presence.  Fulfill Your choice calling in our lives.  Thank You LORD, for Your harvest one hundredfold!”

It gives me goosebumps (glorybumps) to read this!  Little did I know that God was in the works already.  There is much power in prayer!  For three years we had been praying the same prayer.  But the answers to these prayers came only once we committed to praying these things together.  God is eager to bless us, but deeply longs to have our hearts and our marriages completely surrendered to Him first.

God has shown Himself to be so faithful.  It makes us cringe and wonder how we could have ever doubted Him along this journey.  While we were individually yearning and waiting for God to move on our behalf,  He was patiently waiting and longing for us to act by surrendering together in prayer.

This is our God story.  I share a portion of it with you because it is full-blown evidence of the power of prayer in one’s life.  I want to encourage you to stand united in prayer with your spouse.  That even when you think you are past the point of redemption, whether it be finances, the health of your marriage, or any other stronghold or hardship that is weighing you down…you are not.  When you are hopeless and feel that there doesn’t seem a way out…there is!  It can be found through persistent prayer.  He is our great Hope.  With God, there is always a chance, and anything is possible.  Let prayer be your mightiest tool.

Again, God is able to redeem anything!  Remember, when the Israelites were backed up between the Red Sea and Pharaoh’s army, it was God who parted the sea and gave them a way out.  And He provided a way for us too.  He will provide a way for you.  He is faithful to His children.  I’ve caught myself murmuring, and uttering, joyful, tearful thanks to Him over and over again.  Often in disbelief.  He rescued.  He delivered.  He redeemed.  He moved that mountain.  He did it!

Sometimes His deliverance and redemption comes in ways we least expect.  Sometimes we have to walk through desert to get there.  But one thing is certain, He is able to lead us out! We must never underestimate the power of prayer in one’s life. Prayer changes things.  It changes hearts and circumstances and lifts us up even closer to God’s mighty, helping, and powerful hand.

I can’t begin to express the importance of a couple praying together.  There are so many benefits and treasures to be found in this discipline.  Not only did we see God move mountains and provide for us, it drew my husband and I closer together and strengthened our marriage in many ways.  Prayer is the spilling out of heart to our LORD.  Too often in a marriage, we neglect to build each other up, or just don’t do it often enough.  We may think encouraging and uplifting thoughts about our spouse, but these thoughts don’t always leave our hearts and find their way to our lips.  Or to our spouses ears.

Surprisingly, my husband and I often found ourselves thanking and praising God for each other in our prayers.  This became a time in which we could build each other up before our LORD.  It made us each feel validated and appreciated for the work and role we were individually playing in our family.  It created intimacy and united us as a team.  This nightly prayer habit also gave us a closer look into each other’s hearts.  It’s through prayer that we can express our pressing needs, fears, frustrations, and desires.  These things can change daily.  In the act of united prayer, we found ourselves sharing the deepest parts of our hearts with each other and with God.  We then knew how to better pray for one another.  It grew us into a better knowledge, compassion, and understanding of one another and of our God.  It gave us insight, challenged our faith, revealed our strengths and weaknesses, and provided a unity of heart that has rivaled no other.

As believers, we want nothing more than to experience the presence of God.  He is the supplier of all good things we could ever need or desire.  The act of prayer places us in a perfect position to bask in His presence to receive these things.  And who other would we rather share this holy gift with than our very own spouse?  On our wedding day, we entered a covenant with each other and with God.  He wants to be the center of our marriages.  He holds all things together (Colossians 1:17), including our marriages.  A sure way to draw closer to one another and to keep God at the center of our marriages is to commit ourselves to the act of united prayer.

As of July 1st, my husband and I are on day 86 of praying together nightly. The rewards of united prayer far exceeded our expectations.   It has become a habit and a privilege to come to Him together on bended knee.  And it has proven to be a key component in keeping our marriage thriving and our hearts turned toward God.  If this isn’t a discipline you and your spouse have been doing together regularly, I urge you to make united prayer a priority.  Try it out, and with expectant faith, wait to see how God will do the immeasurably more within your hearts and your lives.

“The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.”

James 5:16

 Pray onward.  He is faithful, and He is able!

Thank you LORD, for the gift of marriage and the gift of prayer.  That through Your son, Jesus, we are able to approach You with confidence.  That You hear us and don’t waste any of our pain and suffering.  Thank You that there is always purpose behind Your plan.  Your ways are higher than our own.  Help us not to lean unto our own understanding, but to trust You with every area of our lives, including our marriages.  Help us to let go of any areas we are not fully surrendering to You.  Increase our faith.  We are thankful that You know what is best for us.  That You work all things together for our good.   That You hold all things together. Protect our marriages, unite us, and draw us closer to You and a deeper knowledge of You.  We long to bring You glory.  You are faithful and deserving of all of our praise.  In Jesus’ most precious and holy name.  Amen

*Thanks, Amanda, for this great prayer to pray with our spouses! You can read more inspiring posts by Amanda on her blog I’m Still CLAY.

 **Don’t forget to leave Amanda a comment below to be entered to win 1 of 2 $50 Brinker gift card (can be used at Chili’s, On the Border, Macaroni Grill, or Maggiano’s) and a signed copy of my book “You Can Have a Happy Family – Steps to Enjoying Your Marriage and Children.Today is the last day to enter! I’ll be announcing the first winner on my wedding anniversary tomorrow (7/20), and the second winner on my husband’s and my dating anniversary on Sunday (7/21).


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Marriage Series: “Love’s Blind Spot” by Kerry Johnson

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This is the fifth message in my marriage series “Two Are Better Than One.” Follow this link if you missed any messages in this series. Today, I have another inspiring guest marriage post by Kerry Johnson about covering our spouse’s blind spots with love. Kerry recently published her first book titled “Grace for the Gaps: Rejoicing in Jesus on Life’s Journey.” In her book, Kerry shares how God’s grace covers our failings in our lives, in our marriages, and in our parenting. She shares how His word is truly a lamp to our feet and a light to our path. If you purchase Kerry’s book, and live in the U.S., let me know in the comment section below and you will receive 3 entries into my drawing of 1 of 2 $50 Brinker Restaurant gift cards and my marriage book “You Can Have a Happy Family.”

 

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Love’s Blind Spot

By Kerry Johnson

“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude.  It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.  Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  Love never ends…” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8, ESV).

We were a few miles over the Florida-Georgia border when I looked up from my book and noticed the tight formation of cars and semi-trucks around us.  I slammed my eyes shut, and my chest tightened as though a heavy boulder had begun pressing on my diaphragm.

Being in another car’s blind spot on I-75 is troubling for me because I’ve seen the results that a couple seconds of blindness can cause.  It can be deadly and can affect nearby drivers and cars.  So driving in a semi’s blind spot for a long period of time is nearly unbearable for me.  The weight on my chest seemed to increase as a small herd of 18-wheelers surrounded us.  One kept pace directly on our right—so close I could reach out and touch it.  Another truck was out ahead of us, and still a third semi took up the far right lane. Like puzzle pieces, cars fit the spaces in between.

I squinted, my gaze sliding to the right, hoping the gigantic truck next to us had magically disappeared.  Not so.  The reach-out-and-touch-me-truck was still right next door, a flag tattoo visible on the driver’s left arm as it rested on the steering wheel.

Inside our Expedition, I felt like a Terrier cornered by a Rottweiler, stuck against a fence with no chance of escape.  My hand crept to my husband’s forearm and gripped, spider-like tension radiating through me.  He didn’t need the reminder.  I knew he knew my fear.  I glanced at my husband’s profile, knowing well the map of his face and every nuance of expression.  I took in a deep breath after seeing the determination in his expression.

Even though Trevor didn’t feel the same (driving next to an 18-wheeler’s blind spot doesn’t faze him), he was aware of the panic blooming inside me.  A swell of appreciation washed over me—gratefulness for marriage, which God ordained for our wellbeing.

Marriage – the covenant between a man and a woman, husband and wife, between two very different people sharing a common bond of affection and faithfulness.  Marriage is intended for the creation and protection of the family and the generational passing of faith, and it’s a beautiful picture of Christ’s faithful love for the Church.

Trevor knew my deep-seated fear, and though he didn’t share it, he cared enough to acknowledge what I was going through and work to alleviate the situation.  My sensitive husband watched traffic carefully until he found a way out.  He sped up just enough to get us ahead of the 18-wheeler so we would no longer be boxed in.  I let out a deep sigh of gratitude.

This is what You intended, Lord.  This is 1 Corinthians 13, a love that’s kind, puts another first, and isn’t resentful when doing so.  In marriage, God calls us to cover our spouse’s blind spots with love.  Criticizing is easy and selfish.  Even though loving through insecurities and mistakes is tough and selfless, it can be done through Jesus’ help.  John 3:30 (NKJV) is a verse I pray often because on my own, I fail miserably:

“[Jesus] must increase, but I must decrease.”

After nearly thirteen years of marriage, I’m still learning to listen, respect, and defer, while Trevor has learned to understand, share, and protect.  Most importantly, we have both learned that Jesus must be the heart of our marriage.  There are times when vast differences in marriage frustrate and seem insurmountable, but it’s in those times that we have to stretch ourselves in love, trusting our Savior to be our all in all while learning to give our spouse the grace God gives us.

“Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love another” John 4:11 (NKJV).

kerry2Kerry Johnson lives in sunny Tampa Bay with her loud and very ticklish family. Patient hubby Trevor and their two boys, Cole and Chase, give the best hugs ever. She’s been published in Sanctified Together, Granola Bar Devotionals, and Tampa Bay’s Overflow Magazine, and her first novel semi-finaled in the American Christian Fiction Writer’s Genesis Contest in spring 2013. She has her Bachelor of Science in English Education and enjoyed seven blessed years as a stay-at-home wife and mom. She’s passionate about her family, reading and writing, exercise and chocolate (not necessarily in that order), and especially sharing the love of Jesus through her writing at http://candidkerry.wordpress.com/.

 

 

*Don’t forget to leave a comment below to receive an entry in my gift card and book drawing (U.S. residents only). Remember to let me know in your comment if you purchased Kerry’s book to receive 3 entries. Winners will be announced this weekend (July 20th & 21st).

 


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Marriage Series: “It’s Not Personal!” by Jesse Birkey

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This is the fourth message in my marriage series “Two Are Better Than One.” Follow this link if you missed any messages in this series. Today, I have a guest marriage post by Jesse Birkey. Jesse and his wife Kara run Reflect Ministries. They experienced a wonderful transformation in their marriage. They shared their testimony on 700 club and wrote about it in their book, “Marriage: What’s the Point? One Couple Finds Meaning in a Crazy Mess.”

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Jesse and Kara made a special offer on their book for this marriage series. They are offering their book for only $9.99 with free shipping and only $5.99 for the ebook version. Follow this link to take advantage of this great offer! As a bonus, if you live in the U. S. and you purchase any format of their book, let me know in the comment section below and you will receive 3 entries into my gift card and book drawing. I also wanted to announce that I changed the gift card amounts to $50 since you can’t really go out to dinner for $25 anymore.

In case you missed the previous posts, my husband and I are giving away 2 – $50 dinner gift cards for Brinker restaurants (Can be used at Chili’s, On the Border, Macaroni Grill, or Maggiano’s) and a signed copy of my book “You Can Have a Happy Family – Steps to Enjoying Your Marriage and Children.” If you live in the U. S., every marriage post that you comment on through July 19th, you will automatically receive an entry into the drawing.  The first winner will be announced on our wedding anniversary (July 20th). And the second winner will be announced on our dating anniversary (July 21st).

Now for this encouraging message from Jesse about not taking the things our spouses do that annoy us as personal attacks. I think we all can relate to this one!

 

  It’s Not Personal!

by Jesse Birkey

 SL2056

 

I think there are many of us who believe our spouses wake up in the morning and say, “Hmm, today I’ll do all of the things he/she hates so that I can see him/her get really mad.  I’ll do them because I just don’t love him/her.”  Now we might not say that’s what we believe but subconsciously I think many of us do.

In our kitchen we have a special hook designed for car keys to keep them from getting lost.  When I get home I hang them there and when my wife gets home she hangs them there…sometimes.  I would get so mad when the keys weren’t on that hook.  I would tell her over and over and she would be better for a period of time but it never seemed to stick.

One day she took both sets of vehicle keys leaving me stranded at home.  I was furious and also felt totally justified in my key hook rule.  If she had followed the rule she wouldn’t have taken both keys.

Certainly annoyance was fueling my anger, but there was also something else.  Annoyance alone builds a tiny flame.  But my anger was burning intensely.  It took some time for me to see what it was and when God exposed it I was shocked.

Somewhere along the line I began taking things my wife was doing personally.  It wasn’t just the car keys but others things as well.  Every time she did something opposite than the way I asked her to I took it as a personal attack.  I heard things run through my mind like, she doesn’t care about you or if she loved you she would do it the way you like it done.  Perhaps the most destructive lie I heard was she’s doing it on purpose.  She wants to hurt you.

Sadly there are some cases in which this is true but for the most part it’s a complete lie.  Either way it’s very hurtful to believe that your spouse’s #1 goal for the day is to hurt you however they can.  It’s the stuff resentment and bitterness is born from.

I began to recognize the pattern of perceived personal attack, hurt, offense, and bitterness and decided to investigate.  I needed to know what was true and what wasn’t.  When I asked her about it she told me that it’s got nothing to do with how much she cares about me and that sometimes she just forgets.  It’s definitely not personal.  She also shared with me that it seemed like I only noticed the times that she didn’t do things the way I liked and not the times she did.

It’s the little things that build up and become volcano’s ready to explode at any time.  The “little things” vary and can look 100 different ways for 100 different couples but when they build up, peace doesn’t have a chance.  Many times personal hurt, legitimate or not, gives way to a spirit of offense making true forgiveness almost impossible.  Many times when we feel personally attacked we also feel justified in our negative reactions.  We can’t reflect the heart of God to our spouse with all of that junk standing in the way.

Though there are times in which the attack is, in fact, personal the majority of the time it really isn’t.  If we can begin to see this we can pour big buckets of water on smoldering embers before they get a chance to blaze.

I encourage you to take some time to think about the little things your spouse does that really gets too you.  Have you been taking them personally?  Are they really personal?

Jesse and Kara Birkey

JESSE BIRKEY

www.reflectministry.com

jbirkey@reflectministry.com

twitter.com/JesseBirkey

http://www.facebook.com/reflectministry

Watch the testimony of our marriage appearing on “The 700 Club” here and purchase our book Marriage What’s the Point? One couple finds meaning in a crazy mess, on here or on Amazon.

Read Jesse and Kara’s bio here.

 

 

4989528In Marriage What’s the Point? One couple finds meaning in a crazy mess, Jesse and Kara  Birkey will bring you into the tragedy that threatened to destroy them. The Birkey’s share  their journey of tragic infidelity to the joy of miraculous restoration with passion and total  transparency. Marriage What’s the Point is a journey of pain, reconciliation and discovery as God showed Jesse and Kara how the wounds and scars from their past were affecting how they treated each other. They found it impossible to reflect the heart of God to each other  while being held captive by things like self-hate, fear and bitterness. Knowing they aren’t  the only ones to have been imprisoned by those chains, they desire to show others the path  of freedom God revealed to them. Marriage What’s the Point? will challenge and encourage  you, inviting you on a path to restoration that is different than you might expect. There is  hope! Find it with Jesse and Kara in Marriage What’s the Point?

 

*Don’t forget to leave a comment below for Jesse and you’ll receive an entry in my gift card and book drawing. Remember to let me know in your comment if you purchased Jesse and Kara’s book and you’ll receive 3 entries. Here’s the link again to their special offer.

 

 

 


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New Marriage Series: Two Are Better Than One

 

MARRIAGE PIC2

Photo source: Stock.Xchng

Today, I am starting a new series on marriage titled: “Two Are Better Than One.” The series will run every Monday and Friday through July. I invited several guest bloggers to share their marriage struggles and testimonies, and will post them throughout the series as well.

If you live in the U.S., every marriage post that you comment on in this series from now until Friday, July 19th, you will be automatically entered into a drawing for a $50 dinner gift card and a signed copy of my marriage book “You Can Have a Happy Family,which was just announced a finalist in the 2013 Reader’s Favorite International award contest 

Since my husband’s and my first “real” date was at Chili’s (see our story below), the gift card will be for Brinker restaurants and can be used at either Chili’s, On the Border, Macaroni Grill, or Maggiano’s. I will be drawing TWO winners  since “Two Are Better Than One!” I will announce the first winner and give away one gc and book on my husband’s and my 17th wedding anniversary, July 20th. And I will announce and give away another gc and book on our 18th dating anniversary, July 21st.

Today, I want to start the series with my husband’s and my story of how God drew our hearts together. I pray this testimony helps rekindle those feelings you had for your spouse when you first fell in love with them.

 

Joining Two Hearts Together

jason and amanda

My husband, Jason, and I first met when I was 17 and he was 22. I was working at my friend’s restaurant at the time. Jason walked into the restaurant. I took one look at him, turned to my friend and said,  “That’s the man I’m going to marry!” Even though I was half joking, there was something about him that strongly attracted me to him from the start. After our first meeting, my husband would frequently come into the restaurant with his friends. Every time he came in, my attraction for him continued to grow, and it became obvious to him and his friends. His friends would often joke about it because they knew my husband had no interest in dating a 17-year old. He was tired of dating and had recently made his mind up that the next girl he dated would be his wife. A flirtatious, immature high school girl wasn’t exactly marriage material.

About six months after we first met, I was waiting on him at the restaurant when out of the blue he asked for my phone number. Shaking, and about to pass out from shock, I wrote down my number and gave it to him. For several weeks, I waiting anxiously by the phone for him to call, but he never did. Then one day, one of his friends came into the restaurant. I asked him if he knew why Jason would ask for my number but not call me. His friend replied, “Because he has a girlfriend.” I can still remember that feeling as those words came out of his mouth and crushed me.

A few weeks later, Jason came into the restaurant. Heartbroken, I told him what his friend said. He laughed and explained that his friend lied. He said he didn’t call me because he had a hole in his pants and my number must have slipped out. I wasn’t buying it, though. Discouraged, I grudgingly gave him my number again, without expecting a call. The next day or so, I was caught by surprise when I received a call from him.

For the next six months, we talked frequently on the phone and saw each other at the restaurant, but nothing more than that. May of 1995, my senior year, I got up enough nerve to invite him to my prom. He declined without saying why. Crushed once again, I lost hope that he’d ever be interested in me. A few days after prom, on our senior skip day, I met a guy my age at the beach, and we started dating that evening. By that time, I had known Jason for about a year and he hadn’t asked me out once. I met this guy and he asked me out the first day we met. So I decided it was time to stop pursuing Jason and start moving on. In June 1995, I graduated High School. I came home from my ceremony and received a call from Jason. This time, he didn’t call just to talk. He called to ask me out on a date. I was blown away and in shock! After a year of waiting, I couldn’t turn down this opportunity. I wasn’t going to let the fact that I was dating someone else stop me from finally going on a date with Jason.

I met Jason at my friend’s house for our first date, and then he drove me to Taco Bell of all places. Not exactly my idea of a dream date with my dream guy. But it would do. I nervously stood in line waiting for him to go ahead of me and order, but he insisted I go first.  “What a gentlemen,” I thought. So I went up to the register, expecting him to order after me and then pay for us. But he continued to stand back and wait. I didn’t know what to do. I hadn’t expected to pay so I didn’t bring any money. I scrambled to find loose change in the bottom of my purse and found enough for one taco. Jason waited for me to finish paying before he stepped up, placed his order, and paid for his food. I was surprised, and a little confused, but I didn’t care. I was finally on a date with him!

After our first date, we continued to talk on the phone, and I continued to go on dates with the other guy while waiting to see if Jason would ask me out again. The other guy was moving a lot quicker, showing me attention, taking me to nice places and paying for everything, but my heart  was beating stronger for Jason each day. Finally one day, Jason asked me on a real date to Chili’s, and though I came prepared with enough money, he paid for me. We went on more dates after that, and each time he’d end the date by telling me he wasn’t sure what he wanted. Not sure our relationship would ever develop into anything, I continued dating the other man.

In the middle of July, I went away on vacation for a week. When I returned, I decided to let the other man go and let Jason go as well. It wasn’t right to hold onto the other man and lead him on if my heart wasn’t for him. And I was falling in love with Jason, but I couldn’t bare the pain of dragging our relationship out any longer only to lose him in the end. The only choice was to let him go too.

Image0003On the evening of what I thought would be our last date, July 21st 1995, I was getting ready to tell him that I couldn’t take this anymore, when he interrupted me and asked, “Will you go out with me?” I replied that we’ve already been going out on dates. He responded, “No, I want you to go out with me, exclusively. I want you to officially be my girlfriend.” I can remember the excitement and relief I felt when those words I so longed to hear finally came out of his mouth. He was mine!

Seven months later, on Valentine’s day, Jason proposed and we were married on July 20, 1996, the day before our 1 year anniversary. I didn’t know the Lord at the time, but I have no doubt that His hand lead us together. I found out years later that Jason and I had  separately accepted Christ at Vacation Bible camps when we were kids. I was too young to remember. But my husband remembers his experience. When he came home from camp he said he had no one to teach him how to grow in his relationship with Christ, so he just continued to follow the path of the world. Both of us were traveling down the same road when God so graciously crossed our paths so we would meet each other. He’d then draw our hearts together, and (five years into our marriage) ultimately draw our hearts back to Him (Read next Monday’s post for that story).

My husband eventually told me why he took so long to give in and allow God to draw his heart to me. I wasn’t what he was looking for. He prayed for a wife. He wanted someone older, more mature, and ready to settle down. I was young, wild, and not even thinking about marriage. He normally dated short women. I was tall, and with heels, taller than him. He liked a more natural looking woman. I caked on the makeup. He liked a more conservative dressed woman. I dressed like I was ready to go to the bar most of the time.  He told me despite my wild appearance, he was attracted to my heart. The more time we spent together, the stronger that feeling became, and the outward differences no longer mattered. I was the one God had chosen for him, and he was the one God had chosen for me. That’s why I had such a strong attraction for him from the moment I first met him. He was mine. And I was his. Our hearts were created to be one. It just took him a little longer than me to see that.

The man said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man.” That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.

Genesis 2:23-24

Once we marry our spouses and life goes one, it’s so easy to forget those feelings we had when we first fell in love with them. When our hearts were beating strong for them, we didn’t care about all our differences and take offense by all their faults. I didn’t care that my first date with Jason was at Taco Bell and he made me pay. My love for him was greater than the offense.

…love makes up for all offenses.

Proverbs 10:12, NLT

God wants us to keep our hearts beating strong for our spouses because most of our differences, and the things our spouses do that offend us, are often not offensive as they appear. After we got married, I asked my husband about some of the odd things he did when we first met. He actually did have a hole in his pants and lose my number. He turned down my invitation to prom  because he thought my classmates would think he was too old. He waited until my graduation day to ask me out on a date because he didn’t want people to think he was disrespectful for dating a girl still in High School. And as you are probably wondering, the Taco Bell incident was because he had recently dated a woman who wanted to pay for all her own meals. He thought that would be what I wanted.  He was doing it to impress me, not to offend me.

As I was writing this post, and recounting the journey God took my husband and me through to join our hearts together, I felt that beating in my heart for my husband powerfully revive in me. If you have lost that beating in your heart for your spouse, or it’s slowing down, I encourage you to prayerfully allow God to take you back to when you first met. Recount that journey with God and let Him rekindle those feelings for your spouse once again.

Heavenly Father,

We praise You for this marriage series. Your Word says that marriage should be honored by all (Hebrews 13:4). We pray this series would honor You as we allow Your will to be done in our marriages.  We praise You for joining our hearts together with our spouses. Keep our hearts beating strong for them.  When our hearts begin to drift away, remind us of when we first fell in love, and rekindle those feelings once again.

In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen!

 

*Don’t forget to leave a comment below if you want to receive an entry into the drawing. Come back Friday for another entry as Kerry Johnson shares how God drew her heart away from an unequally yoked relationship, and drew her heart to the one God had chosen for her. 

 

 

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Monday’s Blog: Pray In the Spirit (Audiobook Giveaway)

The audio version for my devotional “Armor of Light: A 7 – Week Devotional on Ephesians 6:10-18” released recently. The production company gave me 5 copies to give away. If you would like a copy, leave a comment below or email me at authoramandabeth@gmail.com. The first 5 people to respond will receive an email with a free download code.

Today I want to share an excerpt from week seven about prayer. Do you sometimes feel like your prayers are not heard? Numbers 23:19 says, “God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?” I pray this message lifts your spirit and gives you confidence that God does hear and answer your prayers according to His Word.

Excerpt from Week seven: Pray In the Spirit

Revelation 12:17 says that Satan wages war against those who obey God’s commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus. Satan will come against us, but he can’t ambush us when we are in continual communion with God. Staying connected to God in prayer keeps us armed and alert.

Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.

Colossians 4:2

Just as God sent His angels to minister to Jesus after He stood against Satan’s temptation (Matthew 4:10-11), God also sends His angels in response to our prayers. In Daniel 9:20-23, an angel was sent to Daniel in response to his prayer:

While I was speaking and praying, confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel and making my request to the Lord my God for his holy hill— while I was still in prayer, Gabriel, the man I had seen in the earlier vision, came to me in swift flight about the time of the evening sacrifice. He instructed me and said to me, “Daniel, I have now come to give you insight and understanding. As soon as you began to pray, an answer was given, which I have come to tell you, for you are highly esteemed. Therefore, consider the message and understand the vision.

Daniel’s prayer was answered the moment he prayed. And he received that answer while he was still in prayer. Why do we receive answers to some prayers right away, but others take longer? Daniel didn’t receive his answer to prayer in the next chapter (Daniel 10) as quickly as he had in the verse above. In Daniel 10:12-14, the angel explained why there was a delay in response:

“Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them. But the prince of the Persian kingdom resisted me twenty-one days. Then Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, because I was detained there with the king of Persia. Now I have come to explain to you what will happen to your people in the future, for the vision concerns a time yet to come.”

God hears and answers our prayers the moment we request them. But as these verses reveal, the devil can try and hinder us from receiving them. The Bible shares other things that can hinder us from receiving answers to our prayers.

First Peter 3:7 tells us disobedience can hinder our prayers:

Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.

James 4:3 tells us the motives of our hearts can hinder us from receiving answers to our prayers:

When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.

When our hearts are divided and not fully devoted to God, we will naturally request things that our flesh desires. God loves us too much. He will not give us anything that will hurt us and draw our hearts further away from Him.

James 1:6-8 tells us that doubt and unbelief can also hinder our prayers:

But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.

The Bible tells us to pray without ceasing, which means to be perseverant in our prayers (1 Thessalonians 5:17). God doesn’t tell us to be unceasing in our prayers to beg Him to answer us. He tells us to be unceasing so we don’t allow Satan to steal, through doubt and unbelief, what God already promised us in His Word. We stand against Satan when we keep a continuous (unceasing) belief that God is faithful to answer our prayers.

Once I felt like the world suddenly came crashing down on me. I was hit by something that was beyond what I thought I could bear. As I was in tears wondering what was happening to me, I found the strength to praise God and tell Him I trusted Him to see me through it. That same evening, my situation miraculously turned around right before my eyes. God heard my prayer, sent His answer, and came rushing to my defense.

The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles.

A righteous man may have many troubles, but the LORD delivers him from them all.

Psalm 34:17, 19

Romans 8:31 tells us, “If God is for us, who can be against us?”  We have God on our side. We also have His Holy Spirit and Jesus interceding for us. What can possibly come against us that God, His Holy Spirit, and Jesus cannot handle?

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.

Romans 8:26-27

If God did not spare His own son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written:

“For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8:33-39

Heavenly Father,

We praise You that You are faithful to Your Word. Thank you for hearing and answering our prayers according to the promises in Your Word. Purify our hearts and minds, and change our desires to line up with Your desires. We humble ourselves before You. We stand firm against Satan with an unceasing belief that You are faithful to answer our prayers.

In Jesus’ name we believe and pray, Amen!

*Remember to post a comment below or email me (authoramandabeth@gmail.com) if you would like an audio copy of the “Armor of Light.”  The first 5 to respond will receive a download code via email.


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My books are FREE for Valentine’s Day!

I wanted to announce that both my books, You Can Have a Happy Family & The LOVE Walk Devotional, are FREE in ebook format TODAY ONLY for Valentine’s Day and to celebrate National Marriage Week! Follow the links on the pictures below.

 

If you prefer paperback, you can get my books today for $5.00 off with this code (GTTTMXCK) directly through Createspace. Follow the link to purchase You Can Have a Happy Family: Steps to Enjoying Your Marriage and Children.

Follow this link to purchase The LOVE Walk: A 15-Week Devotional on 1 Corinthians 13:4-8.

Don’t forget to enter the code GTTTMXCK at checkout for your discount.

 

If you prefer audio, you can follow this link to The LOVE Walk. It’s only $6.95 on audible. You Can Have a Happy Family is a little more ($19.95) since it’s 5 1/2 hours long. But very well worth it. My narrators did a wonderful job. I was blessed by both books as they ministered to me as well.

*For more info about each book, and to read excerpts,  follow this link to my website AmandaBeth.net.

Hope you all have a blessed Valentine’s Day walking in love!

God bless,

Amanda Beth

“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one.Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

Mark 12:29-31

 

 

 

 


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“The LOVE Walk” Giveaway Winner Is…

Thank you to all who entered my giveaway for my latest release “The LOVE Walk: A 15 – Week Devotional on 1 Corinthians 13:4-8.” Thank you for sharing the links and helping spread the word!

THE WINNER OF “THE LOVE WALK” AND LOVE CROSS IS…

Congratulations, Deborah H. Bateman!! I will be contacting you shortly!

“THE LOVE WALK” IS CURRENTLY AVAILABLE IN THESE FORMATS:

PAPERBACK

Follow this link to order on Amazon US

Follow this link to order on Amazon UK

Follow this link to order at Amazon DE

Follow this link to order at Amazon FR

Follow this link to order at Amazon ES

Follow this link to order at Amazon IT

Follow this link to order at Createspace (ships to all countries)

Follow this link to order at Barnes & Noble

*Coming soon to other online retailers

 

EBOOK

Follow this link to order on Amazon US

Follow this link to order on Amazon UK

Follow this link to order at Amazon DE

Follow this link to order at Amazon FR

Follow this link to order at Amazon ES

Follow this link to order at Amazon IT

Follow this link to order at Smashwords (many readable ebook formats to choose from)

*Coming soon to Barnes & Noble Nook, Sony, Kobo, and Apple Ibooks


AUDIO (To be released Dec. 2012):

*Coming soon to Audible.com, Amazon.com, and ITunes


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