secrets to success(FULL marriage)

I know the secret to a successful Christian marriage! “How do I know this?” you may ask. Well, I know because I’ve been married for 3 years. Yes – a whopping 3 years! That alone pretty much makes me an expert.

But seriously, all jokes aside, I believe the secret here is actually no secret at all. The strategy to succeed in marriage has been utilized for years and years by followers of Christ who dare to commit to the marital standards spelled out in Scripture. It is simply a matter of learning and applying.

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I feel enriched when I attend an Excellent Wives Bible Study event hosted by Marriage Ministry Together, Inc., or get to sit in on a Love & Respect session, or even attend a Weekend to Remember® conference hosted by Focus on the Family. Sitting back and taking notes at these events, I learn and relearn winning tactics from people who’ve invested years of their lives in marriage. These folks put valuable time-honored information – often very personally – out in the open for all who are interested in gleaning from it.

Oftentimes, what I hear is not new to me. However, I’ve concluded that these reinforcements are not only valuable, but very necessary. Principles such as wives respecting their husbands and husbands loving their wives (Eph. 5:22-33); and accepting your spouse for who they are (Rom. 15:7), realizing that you are two different imperfect people. Gathering this knowledge from multiple reputable sources is definitely reassuring.

My husband often tells me not to reinvent the wheel – a concept that ringmarriage3s true particularly for maintaining a successful marriage under the guidance of Scripture. However, it is not enough to know this stuff. No, the key is to actually apply what you know to be good for your marriage. And that’s one of the many reasons it’s so important for me to be reminded of these principles on a daily basis. After 3 years (and counting), I can say that applying these biblical principles to my marriage has helped grow our relationship by leaps and bounds. We don’t have a perfect marriage, but we do have Christ and it will be perfected through Him.

marriage2John and I have been blessed to have marital support available to us from the Browns and many others. We also intentionally take time to participate in events that will build us up as a couple. And finally, sometimes after some tugging, we make a strong effort to apply what we are learning. And you know what? We actually witness positive change and growth in our marriage!

Now, if I can only get this SEX thing down…. 🙂 but that’s a different article.

new year cleaning

The New Year is a popular time for ritual or tradition – one of which is new year cleaning. I don’t know if there is an “official” name for this, but many people find it necessary to give their home a good cleaning prior to the new year’s arrival believing that this will determine the condition of the home throughout the upcoming year. Although I do not hold that particular belief as Gospel, I did get the chance to do some deep cleaning during my holiday break from work. As I labored to purge the refrigerator, God brought the spiritual implications of deep cleaning to my attention, and, needless to say, my heart was pricked. The experience inspired me to focus this blog post not so much on the tradition of new year cleaning, but the analogy of cleaning out the refrigerator to the necessary deep cleaning of our hearts.

Tell me if this sounds familiar: you go out grocery shopping, return home to put the groceries away, and find there is little to no room to put the perishable items (which is alarming because we go grocery shopping to replenish our food)! That is usually about when I realize it is time to clean out the fridge. If you’ve had this experience, then you know how strenuous a task it is. The tedious part is first removing all of the old refrigerated items before we can even begin to actually “clean.” This can be a daunting task but it must be done in order to first see what we have lurking in the cracks and crevices, then scrub the inside. This type of cleaning is called “deep cleaning” because it focuses on more than the cosmetic aspect; it takes some time plus serious elbow grease.

During this deep cleaning, the Psalm “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right sprit within me” (Psalm 51:10) came to mind. I pondered deeply on the spiritual implications of the task at hand. I looked at the empty belly of the fridge, door ajar, scouring pad in my right hand, cleaning solution in my left, and realized: God works on us from the inside out. We will never truly change unless we have a change of heart. The way it happens is as simple and similar as with the refrigerator – it is not going to clean itself, rather it is dependent on someone taking the time to remove all the “stuff” and scrub it from the inside out. Putting things back happens afterward, but then carefully to only include the items that are good.

David knew that it’s the inward part of man that matters, the heart. He wrote in Psalm 51:6-7 “Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.” When going through a change of the heart, we must allow God to throw away the rotten to allow space for the good. But how can we do this unless we allow God to clean us out? We must submit to God and allow him to show us the deep, dark, hidden truth of what is in our hearts in order to rid ourselves of it.

I understand that this is not an easy proposition; opening yourself up and letting God work on your heart. There may be things residing inside of you that you had no idea were there but are truly stifling your walk with God. Maybe an old grudge or anger from losing a loved one. These types of things have a devastating effect on your daily life. Once you see it, you have to allow God to throw it away or it will only come to rot. Yes, it may hurt to let things go that you may have held so close to your heart for a long time but there is such freedom in the yielding. You will experience “the joy of salvation,” as David put it. Bear in mind that your future is dependent upon your now, so don’t allow the junk of this life to dictate your tomorrow. Allow God to give you a good deep cleaning.

What’s in your fridge?fridge

new traditions

The approaching Christmas season calls for an unavoidable trip down memory lane. As the Gameboy of yesteryear is replaced by the laptop perched above my knees, I am remembering specific things about the holidays such as family, food, and fun. I recall the excitement I experienced as a child anticipating opening presents and spending good quality time with my family. Along with my early thirties, life has brought about a few changes; I am now married, living in a different city, and many of my closest relatives have passed. Because of this, holidays have come to include a time of sadness where laughs are replaced with tears.

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Although I do miss the traditions I’ve had the privilege of experiencing throughout my childhood and adolescence, I am determined this year to view the holiday season in a Better light. I have been blessed in the past and I am blessed in the present. I have a wonderful husband to share my life with and I’ve decided to create new traditions with him instead of allowing the unbridled wind of change to continue hampering my holiday seasons like MomMom’s Thanksgiving night girdle. No, this year we decided to decorate our apartment as a couple to invite just a bit more of the Christmas feeling – and I will still have the opportunity to visit family back home sometime during Christmas break.

I know there are many people out there who’ve experienced some kind of change that may have disrupted their usual holiday ritual and is now a source of pain or stress. Whether due to a change of demographic or loss of a loved one, it is difficult to enjoy the holiday season the way you have in the past. I simply cheer for you to embark on a different path this season. Instead of isolation and depression, I encourage you to make new holiday traditions. MomMom would be proud.

So, what new traditions will you include in your holiday season?Image