What Plan Are You following?

Screen Shot 2014-06-27 at 7.20.58 AMRecently, I have had the opportunity to speak with several couples who are either struggling in their marriage to the point they are near divorce or they are already separated and divorce papers have been filed.   The thing I have heard the most and actually is true of my first marriage is that none of them were given any teaching on how to do marriage.  However, we have worked with several couples that have been to several marriage counselors but hadn’t been successful.  They say frequently, “Why didn’t anyone tell us this?”  It’s seems funny to me (I’m not saying we have all the answers nor am I criticizing any other counselor) that we have the answers laid out for us in the Bible and when we follow the plan it gives, we have a high level of success.  Many people disregard the Bible as old fashioned or irrelevant but the truth is when you do the simple things that God lays out in his word, you chances for a happily ever after increase tremendously.

I remember early on in our ministry, I asked a pastor what books he liked on the subject of marriage.  His response surprised me!  He said “Well there are a lot of books out there but I find everything I need in the Bible.” At the time I thought he was just being arrogant, the more I study about marriage the more I find out just how right he was.  The truth is the Bible is all about marriage, it starts with a wedding, ends with a wedding and everything in between is a groom looking for his bride.  I love the mental picture that thought produces.

So here’s the simple way to have a happy marriage.  First, husbands everywhere in the Bible where you see anything that Jesus did, that’s your role.  Wives anywhere in the Bible you see what the church did or was told what to do, do that.  You see, God invented marriage and marriage is really just a type and shadow of Christ and the Church.  Secondly put the words of Ephesians 5:22 to work, do everything you do in marriage as unto the Lord.  I always recommend that when you lay your head on the pillow at night you ask this one simple question, “God did I make you happy as a husband/wife today?”  When you see your role as a husband or wife as doing it for God, your entire perspective changes.

Guaranteed success comes when we take the plan provided by the designer of the plan and put it into action.  God designed marriage, He gave us the plan in His Word, all we have to do is work the plan.

Do you need help with your marriage?  Let Bridge Builder Marriage Ministry help. Contact us at melisa@bridgebuildermm.org

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Respect Your Husband’s #1 Need

Image-1For years now my husband and I have been working with couples to help them find the amazing marriage that God has designed for them to live.  Many of the lessons I have learned came from a 20-year failed marriage.  After spending 20 years learning what not to do, I have spent the next decade learning what to do from the best teacher of all, the Bible.  Yes, I have done research in other books and from other great teachers but the ultimate lessons about marriage still come from the God that created marriage in the first place.

Wives, your husband’s number one need is for respect.  Believe me when I tell you I was the queen of disrespect for 20 years and didn’t even know it.  I have many times had to apologize to my ex-husband for being so disrespectful.  I have spent countless hours learning how to be respectful.  Yes, I’m still in the respect school, but God has used my amazing husband and partner in everything, Steven to help me learn.  He has also given me a great group of male pastors to work everyday with who are great at helping me identify disrespect in my life (they do it because I ask them to).  The reason I need this help is because disrespect can  be so sneaky and subtle.  I often times find myself being disrespectful without even realizing it.  You see girls, disrespect to a guy is much different than to us.  I’m getting so much better, but I’m confident it will be something I have to continue to work on for the rest of my life.

In my Bible study today I read Ephesians 4:29

29 Let no foul or polluting language, nor evil word nor unwholesome or worthless talk [ever] come out of your mouth, but only such [speech] as is good andbeneficial to the spiritual progress of others, as is fitting to the need and the occasion, that it may be a blessing and give grace (God’s favor) to those who hear it. (AMP)

One thing I have learned is that most disrespect comes straight out of your mouth.  If we can get better at living out Ephesians 4:29, we can decrease our disrespectfulness by so much.  In James 3:2 tells us that if we don’t offend with our tongues we are a perfect manor in this case a perfect woman.  We can learn to be respectful in our speech.  We can meet the number one need of our spouses.  Watch what comes out of your mouth.  Live out Ephesians 4:29.  As you do you will begin to see your marriage become a living example of God’s design.

Completely Hidden in God ~ A Woman’s Heart

Screen Shot 2013-04-25 at 6.48.41 AMThe best way to have a successful marriage is to have a God-centered marriage.  This only happens when both the husband and wife have God at the center of their own lives and then He can be the center of their marriage too.  I have never met a couple who truly lived a life where God was the most important thing in their lives who where headed to the courthouse to get a divorce.

Meet Michael McIntyre,Screen Shot 2013-04-25 at 5.56.26 AM and his beautiful wife Tiiffany. They are the youth pastors at Faith Church in Hinton, OK. They just had their first baby, Gunner.  Michael loves to hunt and fish and is frequently seen wearing camo.  In fact, Gunner’s carseat and stroller are made of camo fabric.  It’s super cute, by the way.  So when I saw this precious picture of Michael and Gunner Screen Shot 2013-04-25 at 5.41.23 AM I made the comment that I had a hard time finding Gunner because he was hidden in his Dad.  What an absolutely beautiful picture of how we should live our lives.  Colossians 3:3 says “For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God.” (MSG)  Living a life that is completely hidden in Christ ensures the best possible life.  The second thing I noticed about this wonderful pictures was the contented smile on Gunner’s little face.  I promise that even though your life will continue to have hard times when you are completely hidden in God you will be able to walk through them with this kind of contentment, trusting God to handle everything.

I love this quote, “A woman’s heart should be so hidden in God that a man has to seek Him just to find her.” ~Max Lucado

I want to encourage every wife today, truly live a life that is completely hidden in God.  The rewards in your marriage will be far bigger than you could ever imagine.

Sex is a BIG Deal in ALL Marriages

Screen Shot 2013-04-02 at 8.57.56 AMMost women when asked, would respond that the most important need of a man is sex.  While respect/honor is actually the primary need of man, sex is a very close second.  Yet sex is one of the biggest areas in many marriages that cause a lot of conflict.  For many women I work with, this very conflict causes a great deal of pain.  Finding ways to navigate the balance of desire for sex between husbands and wives can be very complex.  However, by have some very open conversations with your spouse about where they are both coming from can help this area of your life come into balance.  Beginning that conversation often means wading through unmet expectations, hurts, feelings of failure on both sides, and even the releasing of using sex as a punishment or reward.  While this is can be a path least taken, it is a path that can lead to a more satisfying marriage then you have ever dreamed of.  I encourage all couples to have open, honest, and loving conversations about where there marriage stands in relationship to their sexual intimacy.

I recently read a blog Holy Hot and Humorous which addresses one of the big issues in marital sex.  Just Because He Stopped Asking Doesn’t Mean He’s Stopped Wanting.  This blog poses some great ideas.  These ideas could be used to initiate a conversation that would help wives begin to discover exactly where their husband is in relationship to sex in their marriage.  I encourage you to do a check up on your intimate relationship with your husband.  It will be one of the most life giving things you will ever do.

How to Love Your Husband Well

Screen Shot 2013-03-04 at 8.17.49 AMAs a wife you have many options on how to act, how to treat your husband and whether to honor God in your marriage.  These choices have great impact on the kind of marriage you will have.  While every girl dreams of the fairy tale romance where the bride and groom live happily ever after, many girls struggle to see this come to pass.  With over half of all marriages ending in divorce and many other reporting they do not have the marriage they dreamed of, marriage is losing some of its shine in the world today.  Why is that?  Can this be changed? My response to this is a resounding yes.  You can have the fulfilling, life-giving, loving marriage you have always wanted.  If you are willing to do some pretty basic things.

Getting married is often like having children, everyone does it but few get any good teaching on how to do it.  Society teaches us that we should just be born with this knowledge.  We should automatically know everything there is to know about how to raise children and everything there is to know about how to be married.  Few seek out instruction and for those who do the instruction options are incredibly vast and varied.  So how do you know which instruction plan to follow?  Why not choose a plan that has been tried and tested for thousands of years had when applied has really high success rates?

The Bible is very clear about how to be married.  It is very clear also about how to be a parent but that is for another blog.  Today I would like to share a few ideas that if you truly embrace them and follow them daily, will set you on the path to a happily ever after.  Ephesians is a great book that give wonderful direction about how to live life, how to raise children, and how to be married.  Paul in his letter to Ephesus gives some pretty specific direction about some activities that wives can do that will help ensure a great marriage.  While there are many other instructions throughout the Bible, and it can be overwhelming to begin to do them all, let’s start with a few from Ephesians 5:33.

“let the wife see that she respects and reverences her husband (that she notices him, regards him, honors him, prefers him, venerates, and esteems him; and that she defers to him, praises him and loves and admires him exceedingly) AMP

This is a pretty long list of some of the ways we should treat our husbands.  So for the next few days we will look at these activities individually and begin to discuss examples of ways to implement each of them into our lives as wives so that we can begin to have the marriage we have always wanted.

Questions For My Readers

I am doing some research and I have some questions for the married couples that read this blog.

  1. How long have you been married?
  2. Do you always greet your spouse with a hug, kiss, and an I love you?
  3. Do you find that you are more focused on the right or wrong that see in your spouse?
  4. Would you say you are married to your best friend?
  5. What would you say is the best thing you do to keep romance alive in your marriage?
  6. How would you rate your marriage on a scale of 0-10 with 0 being terrible and 10 being the best marriage you can imagine?
  7. Do you feel respected by your spouse?
  8. Do you feel loved by your spouse?
  9. Do you have regular date nights?
  10. Do you and your spouse engage in hobbies together?

Please email your responses to melisa@bridgebuildermm.org.  All responses will be completely confidential.  I thank you in advance for your honesty and willingness to share your thoughts with me.

Living with the Best Example

Steven 1Because today is the birthday of my AMAZING husband Steven, I just wanted to take some time to tell you a little about how I met him.  Because I too am a divorce statistic, I am thrilled to say that God turned my mourning into dancing when He lead me to the most amazing guy ever.  How does a girl from a rural farm community of about 500 people in western Oklahoma find an amazing husband in Minneapolis, MN?  Well, the world wide web of course.  We when met online this was all relatively new to most people in my neck of the woods.  God will use anything to accomplish His will.  We met online on a christian website.  We chatted online and soon moved to talking on the phone.  Most people are shocked when we tell them our first month’s phone bills combined were over $900.  As you can see, we talked on the phone a lot.  (The next month got better when we found a better phone plan) We usually didn’t start talking on the phone until my kids were in bed which was usually after 9:30pm.  We would talk for hours.  After the first couple of weeks of talking, Steven suggested we start doing Bible study together.  (He had me at Bible Study)  We began to study the Word and pray together.  God is so amazing and to this day we marvel at how He was able to transcend space and make us feel like we were in the same room as we studied and prayed.  This went on for a couple of months. We learned more about each other and even knew, as crazy at it sounds, that this was truly God’s plan for us.  Fast forward to the December, 26.  They day I first saw him in person.  I bravely flew to Minneapolis to meet a man I felt like I had known for years.  Not everyone in my life thought that was a such a great idea but hey when God says it’s okay, you just do it!  We laugh when we tell people our first thoughts when we laid eyes on each other as I came down the escalator at the Minneapolis airport. Steven’s first thought….”Wow, she is way more beautiful in person.”  My first thought, “Wow, he is…………short.”  Okay so not exactly what you expected me to think but hey I was completely WOWed by his beautiful blue eyes.  We spent a week together and I knew from that day day on that Steve was the man God had for me.  During the week I was there, I got terribly sick.  Steven waited on me hand and foot.  He brought me flowers and music.  He didn’t even get upset when I fell asleep during our evening prayer a couple of nights in a row.  One of my favorite things that Steven always says is, “I knew if I could look at her with her hair all slicked down from sweat and without any makeup, as sick as she could be and want to be with her more than anything, I could love her forever.”  He is so amazing and to this day, he continues to be the ultimate example of a servant.  We continued with the phone, email, and text messaging form of communication with the occasional visits to Oklahoma by Steven for several more months.  Then finally after what seemed like an eternity he moved to Oklahoma and became my husband.

For the next 10 years he has spent his life devoting himself to God and to becoming the standard by which my daughter and countless other women set their standard by for husbands.  I laugh when my daughter says, “Is it bad that all my friends are like Steve?”  What an amazing compliment.

What is the standard that he has set you might ask?  Well, let me just list a few of the things that come to mind:

  • First and foremost, He passionately loves God and His word more than he loves me.  
  • He seeks every day to find out more about what God says about being a loving husband and he implements that in his daily life.
  • He is self-sacrificing all the time.
  • He speaks and prays the Word over me and our children every day.
  • He thinks of us first always.
  • He is kind, supportive, loving and thoughtful.
  • He is funny.
  • He is extremely smart.
  • He is hard working and diligent.
  • He is a loyal friend.

This list is just a few of the many qualities that I have found in him that make him wonderful.  I am truly blessed beyond measure to have such an amazing husband.

So ladies and girls, when you begin to think about the husband that you want, feel free to use Steven as the standard by which you choose.  You will find that the characteristics  he demonstrates will not leave you short in the amazing husband department.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!!!  Steven, I love you.