The Easter Season and What It Means

Over the last month, we have taken a dive into the topic of marriage and all that encompasses it – the hard times as well as the good times. We were able to see a little glimpse of how God can use marriages to shine His glory. Through various marriage testimonies, we were encouraged to seek a godly marriage – one where God is at the center. Above all, we saw how our marriages can point to the redemption of the cross.

This next month, we are going to dig a little deeper into that which is redemption. We are going to try and grasp an even better and deeper understanding of the cross…and the resurrection. My heart’s desire this next month is to embrace the power and sacredness of Christ’s death; my desire is to anticipate and celebrate the living hope we have through His resurrection. The month of March, I want our hearts to reflect the same sense of awe, joy and wonder as the Christmas season brings, because in this month, we celebrate Easter – the fullness of the promised Savior. It is in the Easter season where we see the hope of Christmas come to realization, it is when the plan of rescue comes to completion and this is the time where we bask in the knowledge of the redemption and restoration which overflows from that which is grace upon endless grace.

To help guide our hearts in the magnificence of this Easter season, I created a calendar of daily readings for the kids and I to share and discuss over the breakfast table every day. Throughout the week, we will either be reading scripture or a Bible story from The Jesus Storybook Bible (The Jesus Storybook Bible is available online and in most local bookstores). You can download the reading calendar here: Easter Reading Calendar. My hope and prayer is that the readings will guide our hearts and minds to a better and fuller understanding of the glorious and magnificent event that is being celebrated on Easter Sunday.

In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead (1)

 

 

What are some Easter traditions that you and your family participate in to help focus your hearts and minds on the power and meaning of Jesus’ death and resurrection? 

 

 

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Marriage Moments: The Fight for Date Night

The day my first-born son arrived was one of the happiest days of my life. Everything changed the day I became a mother and the arrival of our other two children just compounded and added to the sense of wonder and joy to our family. The only regret that I come to find myself having in all of this, is how my husband and I let parenthood overtake our marriage. It is tough, especially when your kids are so little, needy and cute. Right?

As of this moment in time, I can probably count with my fingers the amount of “dates” my husband and I have been on since that beautiful December day in 2009. So, we are looking at, roughly 10 dates…in the last 6 years. We just find it hard to make the time and we feel a sense of guilt by asking someone to watch them. I especially struggle with the guilt. I know people have very busy lives and I hate to inconvenience them with my children…even if for only a couple of hours.

But the thing is, I recently learned that I need to let go of some of that guilt. I recently learned that my husband and I need to make time for just the two of us. I also learned, that though it may take some creativity, we can accomplish a “date night” here at home sometimes as well.  My husband and I were talking the other day and I was mentioning to him that we should strive to have a date every month. Of course, when you go from a non-existent dating life to attempting to have a monthly one, it kind of seems incredulous. But, it is so needed. It is a chance to escape away and focus on each other; a chance to grow in our love for each other. Marriage is a God-given gift. Dating your spouse is another opportunity to enjoy the fullness of that gift.

Stockholm

This last weekend, we went out on our “first date” for the year. It was beautifully freeing and beautifully awkward as well. We found we have almost all but lost the art of enjoying a meal. We were not sure what to do when there was no scolding, no giving up of our favorite food to a little mouth, there was no rushing though the meal so as to avoid a restless spirit being agitated by the prolonged amount of time spent in one place; there was just us. It took us a moment to soak that thought in. Switching our role from being out as husband and wife, rather than dad and mom, was difficult. But, we did it. We enjoyed each other, we enjoyed the food and we enjoyed real conversation over a meal.

Dinner selfie:

A walk around Atwoods was next:

Then a stop to Academy, where my husband engaged in an act of persuasion for the hypothetical camping trip we were planning on taking:

I pointed out the item that I need to take on said camping trip…


He pointed out the item in which he was trying to persuade me was good enough…

Then after a quick walk around the mall, we finally ended up here…


We sat, we talked, we reminisced and…it was lovely.

Later on, he asked me what my favorite part of the date was, my answer was torn between the delicious salmon or the intimate time of coffee and conversation at the end of our date. His favorite part? He said, “being [alone] with you”. *swoon*.

We were beyond thankful for the time alone together that evening and we were encouraged to continue to seek out that kind of time together. In the beautiful way God continues to draw us closer to each other, He is helping us see that this time alone together is not just supposed to be seen as a luxury – it is to be enjoyed as a gift, the gift He has given us in each other.

So for us, our first date of #datenight2016 is in the books. We know it will take planning and effort to continue to enjoy more date nights, but we anticipate the reward that will be gleaned. Our marriage is worth the investment.

**What suggestions or ideas do you have for dating your spouse?

Any ideas for the “in-house” date nights?

What is you favorite thing to do for date night?**

Marriage Moments: From Destruction to Redemption

We are in the last week of February and we will be reading the last of the marital testimonies that have been shared, anonymously, with me. Today’s Marriage Moment is one that is of grace, love and forgiveness; It is also one that reveals redemption and restoration. I pray that as you read through this marital testimony: you will focus on The One who can sustain – even when in a dry and thirsty land, I pray that you will feel hope from He who is a Living Hope – even when walking through the valley of death, and I truly want you to see that He is good and faithful to those who surrender – even when we fail and fall short of His goodness. God is the author and perfecter of love and forgiveness; He longs to pour Himself into your life and your marriage…if you let Him. My big take-away from this testimony: What sin meant to destroy, God used to redeem. I am thankful for the vulnerability and honesty spoken through the beautiful heart of the one giving this testimony, her testimony.

Marriage Moments: From Destruction to Redemption

I never expected marriage to be easy. I assumed every couple dealt with their share of trials and difficulties. Good, bad, ugly…possibly the very ugly, like adultery–but only for those couples who weren’t tight like we were. I can honestly say I never saw it coming. We’d had a rough year–but no more stressful or trying than any other year; in fact I was closer to God than I had ever been. Both my husband and I were serving in several areas of our church. I’d never felt more loved and cared for and devoted to by my husband…ever. Life was crazy but that’s how it is for everyone, right?

One night he confessed, matter-of-factly, that he had been unhappy. How he thought I was failing him in a thousand different ways. How he had resigned himself to being miserable in a sham of a marriage. My heart broke and I cried out to God: “make me a better wife, make me beautiful to him, make him love me again. Make him see what it feels like to not be perfect. Let him know what it feels like to suck. Strengthen our marriage and bring us close to you, Lord! Let us be loving partners committed to doing the work You would have us do. Let him love me again, and let me better love him.”

Things got better for a while. We settled back into our usual routine via avoidance and complacency. That is, until one day, seven months later, something felt very wrong. The day I found out my husband had not only cheated on me but was actively having a full-blown physical and emotional affair, had been for the last nine months, and had no intention of stopping, was the day the earth stopped turning. I felt a death–of myself, of my marriage, of our friendship, of my perception of him, of our life together, of my whole entire world. I couldn’t eat or think or breathe. Every hour brought a new pain, another deep lie uncovered, another stabbing knife right in my heart, and my back, and my brain. I was consumed with grief. My family pushed for me to divorce him automatically: “Even if he stays, things will never be the same, and he will do it again and again. Get out now while you’re still young.” I spent hours, every day, locked in my closet, crying where my kids couldn’t hear me. I prayed and prayed: “God, I’ve been doing my part, and I’ve been faithful and better, and this is the opposite of what was supposed to happen.”

God sent his angels – in the form of the most Christ-like friends and mentors a girl ever had. They lifted me up and shared with me and encouraged me and prayed with me. I was counseled by a few key men and women who had loved and forgiven with the supernatural power only God could provide. I was so covered in prayer and in love. I would not beg my husband to stay, but I would keep my promise to God and I would love Him; and HE would help me love and forgive my husband, no matter what path he ultimately chose.

As his story unraveled over the next few weeks, my husband cracked. Broke. Crumbled. He sought out the wisdom of godly men. He prayed, sweating, crying; continually. I prayed with him. I prayed over him. I prayed alone. He prayed alone. He had hit rock bottom. He was stripped bare and it was agonizing, for both him to experience and for me to witness. My husband, my strong, perfect, and devoted husband–weak and struggling and ugly and hurting. Looking back I know that God could not have answered my original prayer until both of us were at a place where we were forced to take a good long look at our relationship with Him and where we could only depend on Him and Him alone. When I asked that He do a mighty work in us so that we could do a mighty work for Him, instead of just zapping us with happy feelings, God had said “Ok….buckle up and get ready, cause this is gonna sting.”

What happened over the course of the next few days, weeks, and months, was something the world will tell you never happens. God surrounded both of us with angels. Miraculous changes took place in my husband almost daily. He faced and fought his demons with the Lord’s strength. We started visiting a Christian counselor every week. We realized that, up until that point, everything we’d been doing in our marriage had been so, so wrong. We had loved each other ineffectively by not putting God first, not really. And although I may not have physically cheated on my husband, I had broken marriage vows again and again throughout the years by failing to unconditionally love, honor and respect him–but we were more committed than ever to becoming friends again and to seeing each other as Christ sees us, forgiving as Christ forgives, and loving as Christ loves–for better or for worse. It is definitely so much easier said than done but it is the only way to survive even the most problem-free marriage.

There are still so many days that I am absolutely nauseous over the thought of him cheating or over the memory of those days and weeks. I still cannot fully trust him–but I do trust God, and His plans are not only best, they’re unstoppable. I’ve come to better understand the kind of love the bible describes in 1 Corinthians 13: “Love is patient, love is kind, it isn’t jealous, it doesn’t brag, it isn’t arrogant, it isn’t rude, it doesn’t seek its own advantage, it isn’t irritable, it doesn’t keep a record of complaints, it isn’t happy with injustice, but it is happy with the truth. Love bears all things, believes in all things, hopes for all things, endures all things.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7) And I know now that a love like this is only achievable through Jesus.

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;b 6it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth