Celebrate Marriage Oklahoma

Over the past year, God has been making some pretty amazing connections in my life and the life of my husband, Steven.  It has been so awesome to watch the way that God connects the dots.  I have met people that will forever change my life.  One of those connections is with Clarence and Alicia Hill. Screen Shot 2014-10-06 at 1.07.21 PM  They are pastors of Church Ablaze.  Clarence is also the Director of Eye to Eye Marriage Community.  They both have been like meeting our long, lost family.  I’m pretty sure this 6’8″ African American man is my brother from another mother.  It has been such a tremendous blessing work along side of them to help bring the conversation of Marriage and Family to the forefront in Oklahoma City.  Yesterday we had the opportunity to speak at a Celebrate Marriage Oklahoma rally.  For Steven and I sharing our testimony of how God has restored our family is something that we love to do.  The rally was to help gain support of the Covenant Walk that we will be doing on October 13, 2014.  This walk will be an event to raise awareness of the need for support in our community for Families and Marriage.  I would like to take this opportunity to personally invite you to join Steven and I and Bridge Builder Marriage Ministry as well as many other organizations as we march from the Myriad Gardens in downtown Oklahoma City to the State Capital.  Marriage and family are so important that spending this holiday bringing the conversation to the attention of the city is more than worth the time you will spend.  So please join us.  You can find out more information here.

Advertisements

The Best Start and a Fabulous Finish

Screen Shot 2014-06-29 at 7.21.34 AMThere is nothing better than living a life of joy.  If you combine this with having a marriage that brings you great joy, your life is so much better.  We work with couples every week who struggle in marriages that just don’t meet the standard of joy and peace they would like to have.  There is a simple start to this process.  First of all, there is one thing to always remember.  YOU and you alone are responsible for your joy.  When you truly begin to acknowledge that your spouse is not the source of your joy then you are well on your way to having the best start and the fabulous finish.

Even though it is true that you are responsible for your own joy, there is a secret that will ensure that you are able to have a joy filled day every day.  The best start comes when every morning you begin by spending time with God.  Just spending those precious first moments of your day remembering God, embracing His presence and verbalizing your gratitude to Him for all He has done for you, starts your day off right.  There may be struggles in your day but they are nothing that you and God together cannot handle.  I love Psalm 5:1-3 from the Message Bible:

1-2 O Lord, hear me praying; listen to my plea, O God my King, for I will never pray to anyone but you. 3 Each morning I will look to you in heaven and lay my requests before you, praying earnestly.

This simple concept of praying in the morning helps refocus your day.  Taking time with your spouse every morning to refocus together will give your the best start at having a great day and a joy filled marriage.  Psalm 5:4-5 gives advice for your thoughts throughout your day:

4 I will bless you as long as I live, lifting up my hands to you in prayer. 5 At last I shall be fully satisfied; I will praise you with great joy.

Taking this simple posture of remembering God in the middle of your day, continues to keep you focused on what is most important.  Use phone calls and texting to encourage your spouse to remember that God is with him at every moment.  I love getting texts from my husband sharing the ways God has reminded him that he is with him all the time.  That simple act increases my joy so much.

Now for the fabulous finish, we look at Psalm 63:6-8:

6 I lie awake at night thinking of you— 7 of how much you have helped me—and how I rejoice through the night beneath the protecting shadow of your wings. 8 I follow close behind you, protected by your strong right arm.

Ending your day talking to and thinking about God and how much He has done for you, that He is protecting you, reminds you that you are never alone.

We are never fighting our way through life without the very help we need to succeed.  God is with us every day at every moment.  Try utilizing these steps to finding your “Best Start and Fabulous Finish” every day.

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

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.

Goals For Your Marriage

photoWe are now nearly half way through the month of January in 2014!!!!  How the heck did that happen.  Having past the mid-century mark in my life I now know and am in complete agreement with the statement, “Time flies whether you are having fun or not.”  It seems funny that as a younger person I was always living for the next thing and now I am digging in my heals hoping to slow things down.  Okay, enough about that and back to the topic at hand.  With the first half of January behind us, the question is…..have your set goals for you marriage for 2014?  For several years Steven and I have developed goals for our marriage and our family.  I call it my vision list for the year.  Habakkuk 2:2-3 says:

Then the Lord answered me and said,
“Record the vision
And inscribe it on tablets,
That the one who reads it may run.
3 “For the vision is yet for the appointed time;
It hastens toward the goal and it will not fail.
Though it tarries, wait for it;
For it will certainly come, it will not delay.

This is a pretty common passage when talking about visions.  I love that it is so clear and easy to understand.  You see having a written vision for your marriage and your family increases the likelihood that is will come to pass.

Having a written vision not only will help increase the success rate of reaching your vision it will also do several other things. First, it will help you bring clarity to what you really want.  By taking the time to write it down you can give thought to what really is important to you and your spouse.  You have the opportunity to narrow the list to the things that are really important to you.  Secondly, keeping the vision in a place where you can see it, will help you be inspired to take action.  I have a huge, wall size, Post It note pad that we write our vision on.  Keeping it in a visible place all years keeps us inspired to keep pressing towards completing the vision.  Seeing the vision regularly will increase your pin-point precision and increase your success rate.  Thirdly, having a written vision will help you identify and avoid distractions.  Going in to many directions will dilute the effectiveness of your vision.  Fourth, keeping the vision list before you will help you press on when you want to quit.  By looking at the vision and seeing the progress you have made toward the vision, you will have the inspiration you need when the going gets tough.  Fifth, having a written vision will increase the success of your marriage as you and your spouse work together to accomplish the things on your list.  Finally, it will increase the celebration when you see the vision accomplished.

If you have already completed your vision list, congratulations you are well on your way to being more successful in your marriage than the majority of marriages without a written vision. If you have yet to write the vision for your marriage, I encourage get together with your spouse, spend some time praying and then write the special vision for your marriage for 2014.  I will be one of the best things you do for your marriage.

Bucket List VS Vision Lists ~ Do You Have One?

Screen Shot 2013-12-17 at 4.43.00 PMAn amazing thing has started in our family.  I am happy to report I was the source of it.  Does that sound prideful?  Well, maybe but when something I did starts to make an impression on people in my circle I get pretty excited.

A few months ago, I read a blog by one of the pastors I work with at Victory Church.  Pastor Ryan Latham has a blog that I enjoy reading.  He and his amazing familyScreen Shot 2013-12-17 at 4.34.53 PMScreen Shot 2013-12-17 at 4.35.12 PM are truly an inspiration to me.  When I think about marriages that are true and solid and lived totally for Christ, theirs is one that comes to mind.  They truly are a great example of a Godly marriage and family.  Back to the blog that is the inspiration for the transformation in my family.  He wrote a blog about his Bucket List.  Now I know that probably brings to mind the movie with the same title and truthfully I have never been a big fan of bucket lists.  They seem sort of morbid to me.  However, when I read Ryan’s blog post, I was struck at how much more it sounded like a vision list to me.  This is something that I am very fond of.  Well, after reading his post I was inspired to write my own vision list.

In our breakfast nook at home we have a GIANT post it note pad that my husband and I use for diagraming book chapters and scheduling ideas for marriage conferences, this, I thought would be the perfect thing to write my vision list on. After all, it was big enough, and what isn’t cool about a giant post it note.  After much thought I began.  Ryan inspired me to dream big.  So I started with the books I want to write, followed by seeing some family members come to know Christ, and then added a pretty large donation I would like to make to help my son’s new church.  There are several other things on the list but you get the idea.  After completing the list I thought about moving it to the bedroom but truthfully, I forgot to.  Then I began to notice that as people would come to the house they would gravitate to the walls with all the paper stuck on them.  My vision list was a favorite place for many people to pause.  You could see the wheels turning as they stopped and thought.  Many made comments and some even said they were going to make their own.  I liked this a lot.

The first person to come around to the idea of a vision list was our daughter’s amazing boyfriend Matthew Myers.  Screen Shot 2013-12-17 at 12.01.50 PMAs you can tell by the picture, he is adorable and I am so glad he is part of our family.  Truthfully, Matthew started his vision list because, well, I made him.  Currently it has only one thing on it, but hey it’s a start.  The next people to get on the vision list train are our son and daughter-in-law, Mark and Brianna.  They are the community pastors for Faith Church in Hinton, Oklahoma.  I just received a picture of their vision list.  So excited!!!!!!!!

So now, what is on your vision list.  What big things do you want to do or where would you like to go?  What would you like to see happen in your family and your marriage?  With the end of 2013 here, now is a great time to spend some time making your vision list for 2014.  Habakkuk 2:2 says:

2 And the Lord answered me:  “Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it.

So whether you call it a “bucket list” or a “vision list,” take some time and do one today.  You will be amazed how when you see it on paper, it quickly becomes reality in your life.

Ulterior Motives

Screen Shot 2013-07-18 at 6.48.56 AMMany times in our marriage we can find ourselves attributing our spouse’s behavior to a specific ulterior motive.  If the ulterior motive is “they love me and really want to be a great spouse,” then you are probably enjoying a great marriage.  Honestly, more times than not this is not our default concept of our spouse’s motives.

For many years now Steven and I have utilized a concept that for the most part, helps us maintain right thoughts, attitudes, and interpretations about each other’s words and behavior.  We do this by applying this very simple principle, “What is the intent of my spouse’s heart?”    When you encounter any situation where you find yourself angry, disappointed, hurt, or feeling condemned, applying this simple technique can prevent you from charging head-long into a full on assault or sliding completely into a pit of hurt feelings and despair.

Many times, the behavior of our spouse is influenced by many things and these can manifest in behaviors that are confrontational or hurtful when this is truly not what they are intending to communicate.  Consider this idea.  If you have had a bad day at work, you were caught in traffic, late for a meeting, or perhaps were treated unfairly by your boss, you may have trouble letting it go when you come home.  Because you’re already in a stressed state, you are more likely to find fault or have your feelings hurt by something simple that your spouse says, does or doesn’t do.  While your spouse may intend no ill will or have no negative ulterior motive, you still perceive it as an assault or attack.  It is during these times that it is important to take a step back, breath, and ask yourself a simple question “What is the intent of my spouse’s heart?”  This one simple technique when applied can prevent many unnecessary problems in your marriage.

So I ask you today, What is the intent of your spouse’s heart?