Work existed before the fall, before sin entered the world, but sometimes I forget this. I have worked jobs I’ve loved and jobs I haven’t. Work is fundamentally a necessity in our world, and yet, God designed work to be something that brings purpose and joy to our lives.
Yet work in our world has become
- a means to an end
- a way to pay the bills
- a way to eliminate debt
- a drudgery
or it is…
- something we avoid doing
- something we loathe doing
- something we don’t want to do
This was never God’s intention. God placed Adam in the Garden of Eden in Genesis 2:15, “The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.”
I think it’s appropriate that enjoying the gift of work is the last day of this challenge’s post because you have much work to do if you are to continue to purposely and passionately love your husband and continue to walk humbly with God.
- God promises us hard work has a reward, and reminds us of the dangers of laziness. Proverbs 12:11 says, “Those who work their land will have abundant food, but those who chase fantasies have no sense.” Proverbs 13:4 says, “A sluggard’s appetite is never filled, but the desires of the diligent are fully satisfied.”
- God reminds us that there is a time to enjoy the fruits of our labor and rest. Genesis 2:3 says, “Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.” Ecclesiastes 2:24 says, “There is nothing better for a man than to eat and drink and tell himself that his labor is good. This also I have seen that it is from the hand of God.”
- God reminds us to enjoy the fruits of our labor and share together. Deuteronomy 12:7 says, “There also you and your households shall eat before the LORD your God, and rejoice in all your undertakings in which the LORD your God has blessed you.” Hebrews 13:6 says, “And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.” Hebrews 10:24-25 says, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”
I don’t always remember that it is a gift to have an able body and sharp mind and to be able to work – for my church, in school, for my job, and for my husband and home. But these are wonderful, amazing gifts from God.
Work has become polluted, but God reminds us in His Word that He redeems all things. As followers of Christ, we can reclaim work as something to be enjoyed despite hardship and something with value and purpose. Work has been redeemed because of the work Christ did on the cross on your behalf, taking upon His shoulders the penalty for your sin, dying for your salvation and rising again to reconcile you with the Father in Heaven so that you might have eternal life and fellowship with Him. Isn’t that a beautiful thing! This is the Gospel message! God loved you so much that He worked on your behalf, died on your behalf, and brought us back to Him. You can serve Him because of the work He has completed.
I leave you with these verses and thank you for joining me on this journey.
I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”
On this day, give thanks for the work God has blessed you with, and the work you have done during this challenge. Praise God because He has equipped you to complete this challenge. Look back on all the work you have done and look forward to all the work you will do. Blessings, my friends!
This is Day 30 of the 30 Dates in November Challenge 2016 and this is the final challenge post for 2016. If you didn’t get the opportunity to participate with us this year, you can still sign up here to access the challenge content. You can participate in the challenge on the forums even after this challenge is completed or if you need to catch up at any time and at your own pace. Join us on the forums for the challenge of the day and participate in a supportive community.
I’ve been dwelling on Ecclesiastes 3:12-13 for several days now.
I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God.”
God’s good gifts. The Bible speaks of the many blessings we have in Christ Jesus, but sometimes, we take these for granted. I often forget that eating, drinking, and finding satisfaction in work is a gift of God. I don’t always remember to pray and praise God before eating a meal. I don’t typically think about God as I drink a glass of water or a cup of coffee in the morning when I wake up.
Sometimes in the church, we get too caught up in the spiritual and we overspiritualize things, but it is godly to eat and drink. God wants good things for His children. In addition to spiritual gifts, God deeply cares about our physical and intellectual, and even material needs.
- God created food for His children. Genesis 1:29 says, “Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food.”
- God provides for our physical nourishment needs to draw us to Him. Exodus 16:12 says, ““I have heard the grumbling of the Israelites. Tell them, ‘At twilight you will eat meat, and in the morning you will be filled with bread. Then you will know that I am the Lord your God.’”
- God provides for our spiritual nourishment needs to draw us to Him. John 6:35 says, “Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”
- God reminds us not to worry about our food or drink. Matthew 6:25 says, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?“
- Our eating and drinking and doing work is to bring glory to God. 1 Corinthians 10:31 says, “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”
- God reminds us not to overspiritualize food or make it an idol also. 1 Corinthians 8:8 says, “But food does not bring us near to God; we are no worse if we do not eat, and no better if we do.“
Do you make an effort to enjoy the food you eat and the things you drink? Do you praise God for the gift of nourishment and delight in food/drink? Do you take the time to enjoy the fruits of your labor and to find satisfaction in your work? Do you praise God for the work you have?
Why is this important in a marriage?
- Eating together provides you a sense of community.
- Eating together provides time for communication.
- Eating together provides time for encouragement.
- Eating together reminds you of God’s good gifts and cultivates thankfulness.
- Breaking bread together is a form of intimacy.
- Sharing a good experience together can foster unity.
- Eating together shows you prioritize one another and value each other’s time.
- Eating together gives you an opportunity to have fun and laugh and enjoy one another.
- Eating together gives you an opportunity to be a good witness and to treat others with respect and dignity (to wait staff, your children, guests, etc).
- Eating together gives you an opportunity to share with one another.
- Eating together provides time to relax and de-stress.
Psalm 107:9 says, “For he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.” Enjoy the blessings God has given you, and make time to eat and drink together.
This is Day 29 of the 30 Dates in November Challenge 2016. Sign up here. Join us on the forums for the challenge of the day and participate in a supportive community.
I love being a housewife. I have held several different jobs and I’ve enjoyed work outside the home. In fact, Adam has encouraged me to pursue my work and education, and to do things I enjoy and to pursue my interests. However, I do really enjoy taking care of him.
Ecclesiastes 3 says there’s nothing better for us than to do good and take satisfaction in all our work.
Adam and I are both blessed to have jobs we enjoy, places where we are respected and appreciated, places where we can learn and grow, and places that allow us to utilize our gifts and skills. But I have to say even after all that, my favorite job is that of a wife.
Colossians 10:31 says, “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”
Remember that God calls us to a life of service. Again, I am blessed to have a husband with a servant’s heart. We enjoy caring for one another, caring for others, and being generous with our family and friends.
Colossians 3:17 reminds us, especially in the holiday season, how important it is to be grateful and to have a heart of service for God.
“And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”
Serving one another is not about getting stuff. It’s not about gaining favor from people, although those things are nice. We are called to serve even without recognition. I would say the bulk of the things I do for Adam, he doesn’t always know about, or even need to worry about because I take care of it. But when I do get a compliment from him, it’s all the sweeter, and I know he’s appreciative, since he tells me often.
Colossians 3:24-25 says, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.”
When your heart is in the right place, service brings great glory to God and honor to one another.
I am a firm believer that satisfaction and joy is by choice. We can choose to be joyful despite circumstances. We can find deep satisfaction in what we do if we have servant hearts, and we seek to please one another mutually. Serve with gladness, dear lady friend, and ask God to fill your heart with joy and satisfaction.
This is Day 28 of the 30 Dates in November Challenge 2016. Sign up here. Join us on the forums for the challenge of the day and participate in a supportive community.
From the BHE archive:
We use the word “good” loosely in the English language. We say “good job” when someone has done a task well. We say “veggies are good for you,” because vegetables are beneficial to your health. We say “that house has a good foundation” meaning the house’s foundation is reliable and won’t crumble. We say that someone has a “good figure” implying attractiveness.
But what do we mean when we say do good?
Doing good involves leaving sin behind.
- Psalm 34:14 says, “Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.” I like the MSG version of this verse, “Turn your back on sin; do something good. Embrace peace—don’t let it get away!“
- Romans 8:5-6 says, ” “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.”
Doing good involves creating a peaceful home.
- Proverbs 21:9 reminds us, “It is better to live in a corner of the housetop than in a house shared with a quarrelsome wife.”
- Isaiah 32:17 says, “The fruit of that righteousness will be peace; its effect will be quietness and confidence forever.”
Doing good means serving one another.
- 1 Peter 4:10 says, “ Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.“
- Galatians 5:13 says, “My brothers and sisters, you were chosen to be free. But don’t use your freedom as an excuse to live under the power of sin. Instead, serve one another in love.“
- Proverbs 11:25 says, “Whoever brings blessing will be enriched,
and one who waters will himself be watered.”
Remind one another of God’s goodness.
- Psalm 27:13-14 says, “Here is something I am still sure of: I will see the Lord’s goodness while I’m still alive. Wait for the Lord. Be strong and don’t lose hope. Wait for the Lord.”
- 2 Peter 1:3 says, “God’s power has given us everything we need to lead a godly life. All of this has come to us because we know the God who chose us. He chose us because of his own glory and goodness.”
Ecclesiastes 3 says there is a time for everything, and that there is nothing better than for us to do good while we live. Practice goodness in your marriage.
This is Day 27 of the 30 Dates in November Challenge 2016. Sign up here. Join us on the forums for the challenge of the day and participate in a supportive community.
Sometimes I forget that I eternity has already begun. This is the paradox of the already-but-not-yet kingdom of heaven. Jesus answers the Pharisees in Luke 17:20-21 by saying, “ Once, on being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, “The coming of the kingdom of God is not something that can be observed, nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is in your midst.”
How does an already-but-not-yet kingdom have an impact on your marriage? As we talked about on Day 23, Jesus has already overcome the world. He has already conquered sin and death, but the war isn’t over. We are still fighting against our sinful nature, Satan must still be defeated once and for all, sickness and brokenness still plagues the planet, and all of creation groans and waits for the day of redemption.
Ecclesiastes 3:11 says, “He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”
What does this mean? And what does an already-but-not-yet kingdom mean for your marriage?
- You are eternal.
- John 10:28-30 says, “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.”
- John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son that whoever believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal life.”
2. You are finite.
- Psalm 103:15-16 says, “As for man, his days are like grass; he flourishes like a flower of the field; for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place knows it no more.”
- Psalm 144:4 says, “They are like a breath; their days are like a fleeting shadow.”
- James 4:14 says, “Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.“
3. God is everlasting.
- Psalm 90:2 says, “Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the whole world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.”
- Psalm 145:13 says, “Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures through all generations.”
- Isaiah 9:6 reminds us that Jesus, as God, is also eternal – “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
4. God’s wisdom far exceeds you.
- Isaiah 40:28 asks us, “Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.”
- Romans 11:33 says, “O, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable His judgments, and untraceable His ways!”
5. You have been given kingdom work to do.
- Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
- James 2:26 reminds us, “For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.“
- Matthew 5:16 reminds us to “let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”
What do all these things mean for you?
- When you remember that you are eternal, you will place more value on things everlasting.
- When you remember you are finite on this earth, you will learn to not take things for granted.
- When you remember God is eternal and His wisdom exceeds your own, you will recognize He has your best interest at heart because He knows everything.
- When you recognize you have kingdom work to do, you will remember you have worth and God values you enough to give you work.
Matthew 6:33 (NLT) reminds us, “Seek the kingdom of God first (things of eternal value) and live righteously, and He will give you everything you need.”
Do you place Christ at the center of your marriage? Do you seek to do what is best for your marriage? Do you seek to honor your spouse? Do you seek understanding through communication with God and your spouse? Do you value and treasure your spouse? Do you manage your resources in a biblical stewardship manner?
This is Day 25 of the 30 Dates in November Challenge 2016. Sign up here. Join us on the forums for the challenge of the day and participate in a supportive community.
Happy Thanksgiving to my readers and to all the wonderful ladies taking this challenge journey with me! I am so thankful for all of you.
Ecclesiastes 3:9-13 says,
What do workers gain from their toil? I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God.
I hope you can take today to rest with your husband, to enjoy a break from work, and to enjoy good food, fellowship, and fun with family and friends.
Have a beautiful and blessed Thanksgiving!
This is Day 24 of the 30 Dates in November Challenge 2016. Sign up here. Join us on the forums for the challenge of the day and participate in a supportive community.
In addition to being a novel written by Russian author, Leo Tolstoy, what other scenarios include War & Peace? What other role does war and peace play in your life? How about your marriage?
Ecclesiastes 3 says there is a time for everything, including a time for war and a time for peace.
I am here to tell you this is nothing new.
You are at war, my friend.
We all are.
We live in a sinful, broken world. We are still affected by evil and brokenness.
- Ephesians 6:12 tells us, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.”
- 2 Corinthians 10:3-4 says, “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses.”
I’ve never been to a battlefront, at least not a physical one, but I can tell you every day I war against and on the front lines of a spiritual battle. I find that spiritual forces of darkness seem to attack me when I’m at my weakest like while I’m sleeping or in areas that should be the beautiful, but aren’t like sexual intimacy.
I suffer from insomnia. Some nights I’ll wake up and have no idea why and it’ll take me a long time to fall back asleep. Some nights I struggle to fall asleep in the first place. Some nights I’m awakened by nightmares. It’s getting better, and Adam has been praying over me before bed for as long as I can remember. Sometimes I’ll go a month without an issue. Even so, this is an area Satan likes to attack me, and it’s an area where I’m weak, because I’m not fully awake.
Lack of sleep causes issues in our marriage. It makes me cranky. It amps up my anxiety. It can cause me to spiral into depression. It can make me feel hungrier even though I’m really not. It can interrupt our intimacy. It can also keep Adam’s and my schedule from being in sync. Nineties boy band reference aside, staying in sync with one another is critical for a thriving marriage.
I also struggle with issues surrounding intimacy. I would say Adam and I have a decent intimate life together, but there are things that often disrupt – busy schedules, sleeplessness, menstrual cycles, illness, or anxiety and depression, among many other things. This is an area that we want to cultivate and desire to love one another through, but it’s hard to keep our sexual intimacy in sync also. Sometimes it feels like everything is trying to tear us apart when we just want to be together.
The war against your life, heart, soul, and marriage is real. So how do you win a war? Well, the good news is Christ has already done this for us.
- Jesus promises us in John 16:33 to take heart because He has already overcome the world.
- We don’t battle alone. Deuteronomy 20:4 tells us, “For the LORD your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory.”
- And one of my favorite Bible verses, Romans 8:38-39, brings this encouragement: “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.“
Even so, there are things we will come up against in this life that require action. Remember you’re not alone. You have each other – life partners, and you have the God of the Universe fighting for you.
- Mark 10:19 reminds us, “What God has joined together, let no one separate.”
- Matthew 18:20 says, “Where two or three are gathered, I am there in the midst of them.”
- Ecclesiastes 4:12 says, “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.“
While it may seem counter-intuitive, going to war can bring deep peace. Look at what Jesus Christ did. Our Savior, Jesus Christ, came to take on Satan and all of humanity’s sin. He came to do battle and conquer sin and death so that we would be redeemed and reunited with the Father, so that one day, this world will be made new and our bodies will one day be freed from the effects of sin.
How do you fight back? Ephesians 6:10-18 tells us,
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood,but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.
Defend your peace. Protect your heart and spirit. Fight for your marriage. Isaiah 54:10 says, “Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,” says the LORD, who has compassion on you.”
This is Day 23 of the 30 Dates in November Challenge 2016. Sign up here. Join us on the forums for the challenge of the day and participate in a supportive community.
Hate is such a strong word. I try not to use it that often. It’s hard to imagine hating anything, but Ecclesiastes 3 does say there’s a time for everything, including hate.
Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines hate as “a very strong feeling of dislike” or “an intense hostility or aversion usually deriving fear, anger, or sense of injury.”
The Bible does speak about a specific instance when “hate” is okay. Psalm 97:10 says, “Let those who love the Lord hate evil, for he guards the lives of his faithful ones and delivers them from the hand of the wicked.” Romans 12:9 says, “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.”
One of the definitions for evil, as defined by Merriam-Webster Dictionary, includes “causing harm or injury to someone.”
I don’t know about you, but…
I hate when my husband and I argue.
I hate when I hurt my husband with my words.
I hate when my husband is in pain.
I hate things that unnecessarily separate us.
Arguing, mean words, and pain causes emotional injury and harm to our marriage. Hating divisive things and things that hurt your marriage is okay. In fact, it’s healthy. Hate is intense and prompts fierce emotions and inspires powerful action.
As weird as it sounds, sincere love involves hating evil. Hate evil. Hate things that divide you. Hate things that cause pain. Hating these things can help you protect your marriage. And like Romans 12:9 says, “…cling to what is good.”
This is Day 22 of the 30 Dates in November Challenge 2016. Sign up here. Join us on the forums for the challenge of the day and participate in a supportive community.
There have been a ridiculous number of songs written about love. There have been a ridiculous amount of movies made about love stories. Love plays a powerful role in our lives. But there is no love like the love of a husband… or the love of God. The greatest Love Story of all includes us too – Jesus Christ coming to the earth, living as a man, dying to save us, and rising again so we can be reunited with the Creator of the Universe.
I think back to the moment I knew I loved Adam. We attended a function at my school, a student film festival. We were dressed up. Adam even wore a tie. I wore a honeydew green dress. We were spending time with my family – my mom and my youngest sister had visited campus. Adam leaned over and whispered in my ear that he thought I was beautiful and he adored me. Of course, I was in the clouds, grinning from ear to ear. When my mom and sister left, I remember feeling wistful because I missed them already. I remember taking a walk with Adam, holding his hand, and telling him I couldn’t explain how I was feeling because I was sad for no real good reason. In another month or so, I’d be visiting my family for Christmas break. As we walked for almost an hour, Adam patiently listened as I tried to explain my feelings and then it hit me. I squeezed his hand. I missed my family, but Adam was my family now too. He was someone I cared about just as much as them, if not more so. I finally racked up enough courage to tell him I was falling in love with him. He looked at me adoringly, squeezed my hand, and said, “Oh Hannah, I am in love with you.”
My heart could’ve melted into a puddle of happiness right there. The man I cared so deeply about loved me too. Do you remember falling in love? Do you remember those early days? Things have changed quite a bit since then. We got married. We moved states. We’ve changed jobs a few times. We’ve grown older. But honestly, I love him more now than I did then. I imagine ten, fifteen, twenty, forty years from now I’ll love him even more.
Adam and I’ve been through a lot in our first few years of marriage, more than possibly the average couple does. However, it has only cemented our love and made us grow stronger in our love for one another. I am so grateful for 1 Peter 4:8 which reminds us “above all, love each other deeply, as love covers a multitude of sin.” Adam married a woman affected by sin and the brokenness of this world. I am far from perfect. But he forgives so generously and loves so deeply despite all my faults. I know I am a blessed woman! I also know I didn’t marry a perfect man either, but as the verse says, “love covers a multitude of sin.”
“We love because He first loved us,” 1 John 4:19 reminds us. I would be incapable of loving Adam as I should and he couldn’t love me like he does without the love of God engulfing us, filling us, moving us, sustaining us, uplifting us, and reminding us. Oh by the grace and love of God my marriage still stands today and that’s something to celebrate! Can I get an Amen?
This is Day 21 of the 30 Dates in November Challenge 2016. Sign up here. Join us on the forums for the challenge of the day and participate in a supportive community.
I have to admit. I’ve hit a wall. I’m not sure what to write about with this series and these challenges. I should know something about communication because I was a communications major in my undergrad. I should have ideas about talking because I love to talk and talk regularly. However, I’m drawing a blank and I wish I could share something innovative and new.
There’s nothing new under the sun. Isn’t that what Ecclesiastes says? Today’s topic is “there is a time to speak.” Conversation is a life blood of marriage. You don’t always need to talk for hours on end, but communicating your thoughts, emotions, ideas, desires, fears, wishes, and concerns will help your marriage thrive.
I tell my husband that I love to hear him talk, but he will humbly tell you he doesn’t always know what to say or how to sustain a conversation. Evens so, I love to hear his voice for several reasons:
- I feel closer to him. When he shares about his day, even the mundane things, I feel a deep connection to my husband. I feel like I know him better.
- His voice is soothing. I feel safe and at peace when I listen to him speak.
- His voice is manly… and therefore, sexy. Just listening to him talk sometimes can turn me on.
- His enthusiasm is contagious. When he gets excited, it’s attractive, even if I don’t fully understand what he’s talking about, and he needs to explain. It’s endearing.
- His words have wisdom and depth… not always, but sometimes he just says things that are so wise and leave me in awe, and what’s funny is it’s usually when he’s not even trying. I know he is a man seeking God when he speaks.
- He engages in deep discussions sometimes, and like me, he isn’t content until he knows the why and how of things.
When I looked at this list, I realized I hit major points of conversation and major needs – #5 is spiritual, #6 is intellectual/mental, #2 and #4 are physical (as in they incite a physical reaction), #1 is emotional, and #3 is sexual.
Taking the time to talk and listen, for conversation, is essential. The next time you listen to your man, take time to appreciate what you enjoy about his voice and his speech patterns and what he’s saying. Then think of uplifting words to say to him. Don’t try and force it. Let it come naturally.
Proverbs 18:21 reminds us that “The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” You have an incredible impact on your husband with your choice of words. The MSG version of Proverbs 15:4 says, “Kind words heal and help, cutting words wound and maim.” The NLV says, “A gentle tongue is the tree of life, but a sinful tongue crushes the spirit.” The tree of life! I love that! You have the power to speak life to your husband. Remember that. Again, it doesn’t have to be anything out of the ordinary. Your words can be incredibly simple, yet powerful and gentle and life-giving.
Let your husband know what pleases you. Let him know what you love about him. Let him know that you care. Appreciate him with your tongue. Give life with your words.
This is Day 20 of the 30 Dates in November Challenge 2016. Sign up here. Join us on the forums for the challenge of the day and participate in a supportive community.
I love lingering in my husband’s hugs. I enjoy the warmth of his embrace, the quiet strength he infuses, and for a moment, there is no one else in the world except us.
In a world obsessed with noise, silence is a rarity. I have to admit, I am not always comfortable with silence. I like listening to music when I’m doing homework. I like popping in a movie or a show I’ve seen a hundred times while I clean my room. I like having white noise when I sleep.
What’s so scary about the silence? I have discovered when I am silent, truly silent, and I shut off my crazy mile-a-minute brain, and just be in the moment, open to hearing from the Spirit and allowing God to move, that I often connect with those hard-to-reach parts of myself – the parts with my deepest desires and fears, my deepest shames and pains, but also my deepest joys and pleasures.
It’s hard to remain in a place where I am most vulnerable. That’s why I think we as a society fear silence. But silence can be incredibly healing and soothing. Silence can bring deep peace and restoration. Silence shared can be incredibly intimate.
In a world where everyone has an opinion and feels entitled to speak it, we need more silence. In a world where everyone is running at warp speed, we need more stillness. In a world where we are bombarded with over-sexualized images and messages, we need more quiet intimacy.
Psalm 23, the Shepherd’s prayer, reminds us to take a step back and quiet down. “The Lord is my Shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside still waters, He refreshes my soul.”
In the midst of a chaotic passage, Psalm 46:10 reminds us to “be still and know that I am God.”
Ecclesiastes 3:12-13 reminds us that while work is important it is okay to stop and enjoy ourselves:
I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God.”
Song of Solomon gives us multiple pictures of rest and intimacy, and how beautiful it is when a husband and wife engage in such things. One of my favorite passages is Song of Solomon 5:1 where God reminds the husband and wife to “Eat, friends; drink and imbibe deeply, O lovers.” God created our sexuality, and designed us for intimacy.
Take time today to be silent with your spouse, to enjoy a long embrace, to relax into a long cuddle session, to simply be together without talking. Enjoy quiet intimacy.
This is Day 19 of the 30 Dates in November Challenge 2016. Sign up here. Join us on the forums for the challenge of the day and participate in a supportive community.
We all have walls in our lives.
Bricks of sin.
Wounds that fester and don’t quite heal.
It doesn’t matter if you’ve been married five minutes, five days, five months, five years, or fifty. Sin permeates your life and marriage. There are inevitably things you don’t talk about or avoid talking about because the pain is just a little too deep. There are inevitably things that one party or the other refuses to budge on, and they stick like cement between bricks in a wall that grows bigger every day.
Can you imagine what would happen if you kicked a brick and it shattered to glass? What would happen if you kicked down those walls and committed to mending the tears in your marriage? What if you smashed rotten sin with reckless and fearless grace?
How would your marriage look? Would it look radically different?
Walls that have taken days, months, and weeks to build don’t come down overnight. Even Joshua and the Israelites took seven days of intense marching, praying, singing, and noisemaking before the walls of Jericho fell. It took commitment with wild abandon, it took fearless faith in God, and it took the power of the Holy Spirit for those walls to come down.
Once these walls are down, healing can begin. Mending doesn’t happen overnight either. Mending the holes in your life and marriage take just as much courage, dedication, determination, and work as breaking down the wall in the first place, in fact, it may take longer.
Sometimes, it has nothing to do with what my spouse is doing. Sometimes the greatest obstacle to marital intimacy and unity is myself. Sometimes the greatest foe I have to face that’s keeping me from a thriving marriage is myself. Keep this in mind as you think about tearing down walls and mending tears in your life and marriage.
Most importantly, remember you already have precious grace in Jesus Christ. Your sins have already been nailed to the cross, washed away, and forgiven. Psalm 103:11-12 says, “For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear (respect, awe, revere) him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions (sins, faults, mistakes) from us.”
Romans 8:35,37-39 says,
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 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.
As you commit to breaking down walls, you already have victory in Jesus Christ, and as you continue to mend brokenness, you already have the love of God working around and for you.
I’ll leave you with the words of my favorite band, Switchfoot, and lines from one of their newest songs, I Won’t Let You Go. These are the words the God of the Universe speaks to you:
There ain’t no darkness strong enough that could tear you out from my heart
There ain’t no strength that’s strong enough that could tear this love apart
This is Day 18 of the 30 Dates in November Challenge 2016. Sign up here. Join us on the forums for the challenge of the day and participate in a supportive community.
Typically, I don’t do well with New Year’s resolutions. Does anyone actually keep them all the way through the year? I am told that having accountability, prayer support, and motivations can make a difference. Even so, I’ve tried all that and it just doesn’t work. I write a resolution in January and by March I’ve already quit.
However, if I write resolutions in the fall, I seem to do better. September, October, and November seems to be the season for renewal for me. This November, I invite you to join me in making resolutions.
When Adam and I first got married, like any newlywed couple, we had high hopes. What we didn’t realize is that our habits needed to change. We quickly learned that my “sleep until whenever” and Adam’s “play games whenever” habits weren’t going to fly if we wanted a happy, healthy marriage. It took us awhile to get into the habit of putting aside self and seeking what was best for the other. Throwing away “single life habits” seems like a bargain now when I think about all the wonderful things I have gained.
After a few years of marriage, it’s easy to get into old comfortable habits. It wasn’t until recently that Adam and I decided we needed to return to something we did when we were dating – dating. If there was one thing we wanted to “keep,” it was spending quality time together (and in our case, away from other people, outside our house). Dates don’t have to be expensive or elaborate. They can be a simple commitment to take a late autumn walk together on a Wednesday evening or a trip to Wendy’s to share a frosty float on a Saturday afternoon. The point is we are intentional, loving, and not-distracted.
We all have things, material, physical, relational, emotional, and/or spiritual, we want to keep and things we want to throw away. Colossians 3 gives us a good road map of things to “throw away” and things to “keep.”
Colossians 3:5-9; 12-17
Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander,and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
What will you throw away and what will you keep in your marriage?
This is Day 17 of the 30 Dates in November Challenge 2016. Sign up here. Join us on the forums for the challenge of the day and participate in a supportive community.
Do you know when to give up?
Do you know how to say “no” to things?
I have a tendency to over-commit. I take on too much and then halfway through, I can’t handle it. Instead of being blessed, I feel stressed. Instead of blessing others, I end up doing a haphazard job because I’ve got a million things on my mind.
It’s okay to say no to things.
It’s okay to give up sometimes.
I belong to several online “reading group” circles for writers. Recently, I had to cut back from 3 to 2, and even that is overwhelming sometimes.
When I switched churches back in 2013, I decided to leave behind women’s ministry at the one church so I could focus on my new church, even though my new church doesn’t have a strong women’s ministry or outreach.
I’ve walked away from a Bible study that wasn’t particularly edifying for me, and wasn’t helping my marriage since the group only seemed interested in gossip.
In October 2015, I walked away from a soul-deadening job and took a leap of faith because I knew I wasn’t supposed to be there anymore and I had stayed too long already. As beneficial as it was for the kids I was working with, my staying wasn’t worth my marriage, my health, my walk with God, my sanity, my sleep, and my life.
It’s okay to give up on the things that aren’t uplifting to your marriage. It’s okay to give up on groups that won’t have your full attention. It’s okay to give up on things that aren’t working for you anymore and are actually tearing you down.
Sometimes letting go and giving up might be more serious – a harmful relationship, hurt, fear, anger, regrets over mistakes, failures, etc. When you recognize God is in control, you understand that hanging onto these things can ultimately cause damage to yourself, your spiritual walk with God, and your marriage.
John 15:1-6 says,
I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.”
If you are in a situation or you’re committed to an activity or you’re in a friendship/relationship with someone that is soul-deadening, that doesn’t have eternal value, that doesn’t fill you with joy, and that doesn’t draw you to God, you have permission to give up and walk away. You need to give up. This isn’t healthy.
Apart from God, as the verses say above, we can’t bear the fruit He has designed us to bear. You can’t serve God joyfully. You can’t be at your best and your healthiest. Sometimes you need to prune things out of your life and give up on them. When I was working at my last job, I wasn’t thriving. I was withering. I wasn’t using my God-given talents. I was throwing them away. I wasn’t living. I wasn’t uplifting my marriage. I barely had time for my marriage. I was slowly killing my spirit because I knew this wasn’t where I was supposed to be.
One of my favorite Bible verses is Proverbs 3:5-6. In the times when I need to “let go” and “give up,” I find these Words from God particularly comforting.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways; acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.”
If you don’t know how to go from here, trust in God. Seek His wisdom in everything you do. Acknowledge His presence in every time and space. Trust He will make His way known to you and your paths straight.
Psalm 16:11 says, “You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.”
His hand gives things of eternal value. His presence is filled with joy. His way is life. All other things are not worth your time and effort if they draw you away from eternal life and joy. Cut it out. Prune it off. Give it up.
This is Day 16 of the 30 Dates in November Challenge 2016. Sign up here. Join us on the forums for the challenge of the day and participate in a supportive community.
We are at the halfway point. 15 days into the month of challenges. Congratulations! How are you doing? What has been helpful? What has improved? What still needs prayer and work?
Hopefully, like me, you are feeling blessed by the alternating between work and rest. Today I want you to remember you have a God above who loves you deeply, a God who knows you, and longs for you.
I remember once when I was a little kid, I was playing with some neighbor kids. I wandered off with them to play in their tree fort about a block or two away. I didn’t tell my parents where I was going. My dad came looking for me. Of course, he wasn’t happy. I didn’t understand it at the time but my parents were scared because I had never taken off like that before and gone missing. I was punished and rightly so, but afterwards, both my parents hugged me and told me they were concerned for my safety.
Remember the other story I told you recently about Adam coming after I superimposed a break onto our relationship? I’ve shared the story multiple times but the thing that stands out to me the most is when he told me, “Hannah, I will always come for you, so help me, God.”
If you have the time today, read all of Luke 15. The chapter shares the story of the shepherd looking for the lost sheep and the woman searching for the lost coin, and the father with two sons and the one who goes wayward only to return home later. We have a God who knows us and who loves us and will come for us. I think this is especially relevant and heartening in today’s world. In a world that’s hurting, desperate, and broken, we need to seek and search for the life-giving Source of Love.
What are you and your husband searching for? Do you search for God? Do you seek God together? A godly wife is kingdom-minded – she filters all of life through the lens of Christ and she lives out the gospel with purpose and passion. This is the kind of woman and wife I strive to be.
The gospel message is one of powerful unconditional earth shattering love. It’s the kind of love that moves mountains. It’s the kind of love that compels a shepherd to leave his ninety-nine sheep to rescue the single lost sheep. It’s the kind of love that compels a woman to search her house from top to bottom for a precious coin. It’s the kind of love that compels a father to race out into the road and meet his wayward son after his long absence. It’s the kind of love that compels Adam to come for me, even when I’ve treated him horribly, because he cares that much for me. It’s the kind of love that compelled God to leave His throne to be born of a virgin and live on earth as a man and to be crucified on a cross just so we could be reunited with Him again.
Are you living from that kind of love? Are you compelled by that kind of love? Are you searching and seeking the God and Source of that love?
Pray this verse for your life and marriage today:
Matthew 6:33 (NLT) “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.”
This is Day 15 of the 30 Dates in November Challenge 2016. Sign up here. Join us on the forums for the challenge of the day and participate in a supportive community.
On our honeymoon, Adam brought his computer tower and computer games and I brought books to read. People thought this was strange, but in all honesty, after coming out of a hectic season in our lives, it was incredibly refreshing to relax alone. We got plenty of time together, but Adam and I craved our “personal time” too, even on our honeymoon. I think this is perfectly healthy.
Ecclesiastes 3 says there is a time for everything, including a time to refrain from embracing. I think of this as giving your spouse much-needed space, because sometimes we can “Squeeze” a little too hard.
Personal time and space is important in a marriage. It’s important to cultivate healthy interests separate from your spouse. Sometimes you both will genuinely need space.
If we look at the life of Jesus, we see He spent times teaching and preaching in the crowds, walking, talking, and eating with his close friends, and He prioritized time alone. Jesus practiced self-care, or what I like to call spirit-care.
In his book, Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation, Quaker Parker J. Palmer writes, “Self-care is never a selfish act – it is simply good stewardship of the only gift I have, the gift I was put on the earth to offer to others.”
I call this “spirit care.” When you allow each other a “time out” from the busyness of life, you give each other permission to take care of a precious gift – your life. Without spirit care, you cannot
- serve joyfully
- truly bless your husband
- seek the grace you so desperately need
You are unable to be fully healed, fully present, fully restored, and fully loving and respectful when you don’t take the time to seek God in solitude and tend to your spirit. You can’t be effective if you aren’t stewarding your own body, heart, and spirit.
It is important to allow your husband time to pursue his interests, and also to spend time alone with God. You two can grow together in the Lord and cultivate joint interests, but you also need to remember your first love – God. Allow each other the time to care for yourselves mentally, physically, and spiritually.
It is in my alone time with God that I truly feel refreshed and restored, humbled in His presence, fulfilled by His Word and goodness, and blessed by my prayer time. It allows me to return to my husband, not only with a renewed sense of faith and a restored mind and heart, but also gives me something to talk about and share with him.
Jesus reminds us in Matthew 11:28-30 that He is the only place our souls can find rest
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
Allow each other the time to seek God alone, to spend time in His restorative presence, to seek forgiveness, and to experience wholeness in Christ. Encourage one another to pursue separate interests that draw you toward God, and into a position of remembering His great love and care for you.
This is Day 14 of the 30 Dates in November Challenge 2016. Sign up here. Join us on the forums for the challenge of the day and participate in a supportive community.
Quick Note: If you haven’t been over to the forums since you signed up, please check it out. This is where the daily challenges are being posted. I see a significant portion of members have not been online on the forums since before the challenge started. If you have questions or concerns, please leave a comment below. You can click here to sign in. If you’d like to be removed, please email me.
I love warm hugs.
And no, I’m not Olaf from Frozen. :)
I love giving hugs and receiving hugs. I love the hugs my husband gives too, big and strong and makes me feel safe, warm, and loved.
When Adam and I were dating, I took a “break” but neglected to tell him. Yes, I know, this wasn’t the best way to handle a relationship. When I finally called him after several days of no contact, he came running over to meet me. The first thing he did was wrap me in the biggest hug ever. It was then I realized I had been running away from love. I was pretty ashamed at how stupid I had been. Adam still respected me and wanted me. He ran out to meet me like the father does of the prodigal son in Luke 15. Adam could’ve rejected me. He could’ve broken up with me. Instead he loved me unconditionally. As I stood in his arms and cried and begged forgiveness, Adam said, “I will always come for you so help me God.”
Touch is important in a marriage. Touch can tell us we are loved and needed and respected. Touch can give us comfort and peace. Touch can give us hope and joy. Touch can make us feel safe. Touch can remind us why we are alive.
I think this is why God invented hugs. Ecclesiastes 3 tells us there is a time for everything, including embracing. I knew from Day 1 this was probably going to be one of my favorite days because of how much I like embracing my husband. And you know what goes great with embracing? Kissing and touching and all kinds of lovin’!
Song of Solomon has much to say on touching, kissing, and embracing.
- Song of Solomon 1:2 “Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth—
for your love is more delightful than wine.”
- Song of Solomon 1:13 “My beloved is to me a sachet of myrrh
resting between my breasts.”
- Song of Solomon 2:6 “His left arm is under my head,
and his right arm embraces me.”
- Song of Solomon 2:16-17 (MSG) “My lover is mine, and I am his.
Nightly he strolls in our garden,
Delighting in the flowers
until dawn breathes its light and night slips away.”
- Song of Solomon 4:11 “Your lips drop sweetness as the honeycomb, my bride; milk and honey are under your tongue.“
- Song of Solomon 4:12-13 (MSG) “Dear lover and friend, you’re a secret garden, a private and pure fountain.
Body and soul, you are paradise,
a whole orchard of succulent fruits…” (Now if this verse doesn’t make you want to hug and kiss and mmhmm with him, then I don’t know what will)
- Song of Solomon 5:16 “His mouth is sweetness itself;
he is altogether lovely.”
- Song of Solomon 6:3 (MSG) “I am my lover’s and my lover is mine.
He caresses the sweet-smelling flowers.”
- Song of Solomon 7:7-9 “Your stature is like that of the palm,
and your breasts like clusters of fruit.
I said, “I will climb the palm tree;
I will take hold of its fruit.”
May your breasts be like clusters of grapes on the vine,
the fragrance of your breath like apples,
and your mouth like the best wine.”
Spend time embracing today and touching. It’s good for you… and godly.
This is Day 13 of the 30 Dates in November Challenge 2016. Sign up here. Join us on the forums for the challenge of the day and participate in a supportive community.
One of my favorite things to do is to sit around a table to eat, talk, and laugh for hours. Fellowship is so important in the Christian faith. It allows us to build one another up, relax, have fun, support one another, pray for one another, and to learn from one another.
Fellowship is also important in a marriage – purposeful gathering together. Merriam Webster dictionary defines fellowship as “a gathering of friendly people who share common interests.” Ecclesiastes 3 reminds us there is a time for gathering. Do you gather together often?
Adam and I have a weekly get together with another couple in our area. Sometimes we do large group things together like see a movie or grab a meal. Sometimes we pair off, Adam and his friend, game and talk, and my friend and I watch a girly show together and talk. We also have a biweekly gaming group that meets to play tabletop games, eat, and laugh together. This is a group of nonbelievers, but we are still able to fellowship with them, and encourage them, and share the love of Christ.
We also make Sunday morning service a priority. I have learned not to feel guilty about skipping church every once in awhile if I’m ill or simply need to rest, but I do really feel uplifted every time I get to go and sing praises with other believers, worship with my husband, and hear God’s Word.
How do you make “Gathering together” a priority in your marriage? Hebrews 10:24-25 (ESV) says, “let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”
Our time on this earth is precious and short. Take advantage of the opportunities to gather with other believers. Take the time to meet with other couples and friends regularly. Take the time to listen to those who are married and ask them for their words of wisdom (and this doesn’t have to be a couple who is much older than you or who has been married a lot longer). Don’t neglect to keep your ears open to those who are young, but with whom God has blessed with wisdom and encouragement. Share the love of Christ with others. The benefits to your own marriage will be rewarding.
This is Day 12 of the 30 Dates in November Challenge 2016. Sign up here. Join us on the forums for the challenge of the day and participate in a supportive community.
A wise woman once told me, “It’s not about what you gather, but what you scatter that makes your life.”
We are about to enter a season of giving and receiving. I am in a receiving place in my life right now, but I still have a lot to give. Even so I am grateful for people who have demonstrated their tremendous generosity with Adam and I.
However, I do think I get caught up in the whole “I don’t have money” thing. A classmate of mine shared that “money is a tool to be used, but it doesn’t affect my giving.” Giving is more than money. Giving is a spirit. Giving is scattering the best of me to others.
For the last few years, I’ve been trying to give people “gifts of experience” rather than traditional wrap-em-in-a-box gifts. Last year, for our anniversary, I found a deal and took Adam to an arcade and fun center. We made some happy memories while bowling, playing laser tag, racing go-karts, and challenging each other to arcade games, and we got to enjoy the pizza/salad bar included in the price. To me, having a fun day spending quality time with each other was more of a gift than handing him a gift card or a wrapped game.
This holiday season, make a commitment to give of yourself freely. Give your time, give your energy, give your love, give your joy. Don’t let your giving be limited by finances. Don’t give more than you have either. Don’t feel obligated to give the neighbors a gift just because they gave you one too. You can always make them a meal or invite them over for cocoa or build a snowman together in your back yard.
2 Corinthians 9:7 says, “Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”
Proverbs 11:7 says, “A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.”
I love that! Choose together as a couple how you will “scatter” to others this holiday season. I guarantee you that you both will feel blessed and be a blessing to others.
This is Day 11 of the 30 Dates in November Challenge 2016. Sign up here. Join us on the forums for the challenge of the day and participate in a supportive community.