Marriage Series: Worn Out

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This is the last message in my marriage series “Two Are Better Than One.”  This is also the last blog I will be posting until September. I will be offline during the month of August.

In the last marriage message, I talked about the importance of remaining in God’s love. I explained how when I allow the busyness of life to get in the way of my relationship with Christ, I begin to lose my joy and it affects my marriage.

The busyness of life can also get in the way of our relationships with our spouses. We live in a fast-paced world.  In my husband’s workplace every job he receives is considered “hot” and due right away.  Just this past weekend, after working long hours, my husband had to help other people with things they needed done “right away.” By the time he went to bed last night, he was burnt out. And today he has to start another week of it all over again. I told him last night that it’s okay to tell people “no.”

Last school year, I said “yes” to too many things, and by May I was not only completely burnt out, but I saw a huge downward spiral in my children and marriage. When we are too busy we let things slip. We ignore the little issues because we are too busy to deal with them. After time, those little issues grow into bigger issues. And by then, we are often too tired to fix them.

The devil seeks to wear us out (Daniel 7:25, KJV). He wants us busy to keep us distracted from his tactics. But thank God that we are not unaware of his schemes. God is our help. When we are worn down, God will renew our strength and lift us up. He will help us fix those issues and help us to be more alert and stand against them in the future.

Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

Isaiah 40:30-31

One of the reasons I am taking off next month is to prayerfully reorganize my schedule for the coming school year, so I don’t have the same thing happen next year. God has to frequently remind me that Jesus’ burden is light and His yoke is easy. The burdens of this world are heavy and hard. The Bible instructs us, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:2).

We are not to follow the pattern of the world and give into its demands. When we say “yes” to the demands of this world, we say “no” to God and “no” to our families. Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:27).  If you are stressed out and don’t have time to deal with the issues in your marriage and your family, ask God to reorganize your schedule and follow only the things that He gives you peace about.  Don’t worry about disappointing  others. God comes first. Then your spouse. Then your family. And then others.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Matthew 11:28-30

Heavenly Father,

We praise You that Your burden is light. Help us to take Jesus’ yoke upon us and learn from Him by renewing our minds in Your Word daily. Show us the things we don’t have peace about, and help us lay those things down and follow only Your will. Help us deal with the issues in our lives and our marriages instead of ignoring them. Give us Your strength to continue standing against the devil’s tactics and not allow him to destroy our marriages. We praise You that He who is in us is greater and stronger than he who is in the world. You are our strength!

In Jesus’ faithful name, we pray. Amen!

 

*See you back here in September!

 


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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

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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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