Security Systems

“If you make the most high your dwelling – even the LORD, who is my refuge – then no harm will befall you, no disaster will come near your tent.” Psalm 91:9-10

We go to great lengths to secure our homes and possessions with sophisticated security systems. We carefully choose what we eat to nourish our bodies. We over-sanitize our hands to protect from illness. We invite in the people who build us up and block out the untrustworthy. We build our bios and post them in order to advance our careers, agendas, positions in life. We spend our lives building our lives and boundaries to protect them. For those of us who believe God is sovereign over our lives, we invite him to protect the lives we build and call it “faith.” Then, we get disenchanted or even angry with him when something goes wrong.

Is this how God intended it to be? Does he sit in heaven waiting for an invitation from me to protect my kingdom?

We all want protection, and will do whatever it takes to get it. Or, will we?

In Psalm 91 we are promised protection, under certain conditions:

1. If you make the Most High your dwelling.”  Are you building your own dwelling place, or have you surrendered your best plans to God in exchange for his?  How much time do you spend “dwelling” with God each day? The only way to know his plans for your life is to dwell with him.

2. “Because he loves me,” says the LORD, “I will rescue him: I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.”  How much of your life is spent elevating your own name?  Take some time to examine your heart and ask the Lord how to elevate His Name in your life today. Surrendering your own agenda to advance his name in the earth is an act of love that demonstrates intimate trust.

3. “He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. With long life will I satisfy him and show him my salvation.”  When there is trouble, who is your first call? Practice making the LORD your first call, before there is a need.

Are you working hard to build protective boundaries around a life that was never yours? What would it take to surrender your dwelling place and enter the dwelling place of the Most High?

Boundaries are built to protect our lives, but the life of Christ is about surrender. It’s not an invitation to be reckless with your life. It’s an invitation to the only place where resides perfect peace.

In His Unfailing Love,

brandi

Boundaries

“The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance.” Psalm 16:6

I don’t know about you, but drawing boundaries with my time or in relationships is a constant challenge. Presented with many good needs and opportunities, it can be hard to discern what to say, “yes” and “no” to. If I say “yes.” to everything, then anxiety and frustration take root. By saying, “yes” to everything, I am saying “no” to giving my best.

Do you have a friend or family member who is constantly pushing your boundaries? I see every hand up. Who is that person in your life who consistently makes you feel like no matter how much time that you give them, it is never good enough?

Are we afraid that we are not being loving by drawing clear boundaries? Instead can we consider drawing a boundary as a loving act? We need the help of the Holy Spirit to apply God’s principles in specific situations to draw boundaries. A few years ago I drew boundaries with a family member, and we both experienced frustration and awkward moments. However, drawing boundaries has made our relationship better and deeper.

Or may be you need help drawing boundaries with a parent of one of your child’s classmates? Your child participates in an after-school activity each week. One of the moms wants her child to ride with your daughter to the activity, but you have noticed her child’s negative influence. It is easier to share the driving, but what is best for your child?

Think about it this way: boundaries are blessings, providing guard rails where life flourishes within its dominion. Take for instance lines on an interstate; the lines keep the cars in lanes, so that drivers may travel safely. What kind of game would football be without the field marked off? You can’t possibly play a football game without lines. How would either team ever know if they made a first down? No one wins without boundaries. Are you living to win? I do not mean winning a game, but winning in life. Jesus says in 1 Thessalonians 4:12 to live in such a way “that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders.” Making the right choice when it is hard and not the most popular wins respect. Wise choices, not popular choices win respect.

Why couldn’t drawing lines in our personal life be as easy as drawing lines on an interstate? Boundaries lines for living a life that pleases God are clearly laid out in the Ten Commandments, and others we learn from the life of Jesus through imitating Him and following Biblical principles. Everybody has been given the same amount of time in a day, and we need the help of the Holy Spirit to discern the appropriate boundaries to living a fruitful and God honoring life. Saying “yes” to every need does not make you a more loving person, just as saying “no” to a need does not make you an unloving person.

-Mary Carmen

Do Your Boundaries Love or Self-Protect?

“Hatred stirs up conflicts, but love covers all offenses.” (Proverbs 10:12)

“What is love? Baby don’t hurt me. Don’t hurt me. No more.” As I have been reflecting on what to write about love this month, I cannot get this high school song from Haddaway out of my head! Songs like these taught me about love. My female hormones were at its pinnacle sending out pheromones to lure every boy, acne and all.

Thankfully, I am growing up and though still elementary in my understanding of love, I am realizing these songs just may be a little misleading. The immediate answer to the question ‘What is love?’ is not ‘Baby don’t hurt me’. Love is not self-protective. However, don’t we live that way often? The truth is, the deeper we are in a relationship with someone, we get hurt. So how do we move past the hurt? Love.

I love marriage. Interestingly though, my husband and I have seen more of each other’s issues, bad habits, selfishness, impatience, anger, etc… So why is marriage even more amazing now than it was when we were dating? There is something secure, transforming and liberating when a person you deeply hurt does not hurt back but instead pursues you, hugs you and treats you with gentleness and tenderness when you know you deserve much worse.

There are no boundaries to love. As a licensed professional counselor, I am afraid boundaries are taught too often to self protect. Boundaries are necessary but the motivation behind it must be love. Boundaries are for the purpose of giving time and space to self-reflect to see how oneself could have contributed to the problem, heal from the wound and forgive so reconciliation can happen.

Often in counseling sessions, married couples pursue separation ‘to see if they want the marriage to work’. Separation is not for the purpose of questionable reconciliation. Separation should be approached as a time of reflection, healing and forgiveness so reconciliation can happen.

When reconciliation happens, you put yourself at a risk of being hurt again. I’m sorry. There are people who are going to hate me for writing this but I’m more concerned about there being people of character in healthy relationships rather than there being no relationships in this society. Divorce rates are increasing and fewer people want to be in relationships. A healthy relationship is not the absence of hurt but the ability to forgive, grow and reconcile in the hurt.

The strength in which my husband and I are able to die to our selfishness and pride, forgive each other repeatedly and pursue relentlessly when we hurt each other endlessly does not come from ourselves. It comes from our relationship with Jesus who is the perfect model of selfless, sacrificial love. Jesus died so we may live (John 3:16, I John 4:9-11). In turn, “we love because He first loved us.” (I John 4:19) Have you experienced such love before?

Edna Lee

Unseen Battles During Easter

“In this way, He disarmed the spiritual rulers and authorities. He shamed them publicly by His victory over them on the cross.” Colossians 2:15

Easter arrives on our calendars and prayerfully rocks our hearts in a couple of weeks. I love high church traditions and worship services during this time of year: the stations of the cross, the observation of self-reflection during Lent, the remembrance of all that Jesus suffered on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday while joining believers together to receive the Eucharist. Then the culmination on Easter Sunday of the elation of the resurrection and forgiveness of sin.

As this sacred time of worship approaches I think about the theme in April at Sacred Story: Boundaries. The definition of boundary is: “a limit of a subject or sphere of activity.” If the curtain could be pulled back on the invisible realm during the last week of Jesus’ life we would see a host of activity. I think about the ministering spirits of God known as angels who fight to sustain the Son of God. (Hebrews 1:14) In the same breath, the forces of darkness called demons bent on destroying the Anointed One. (Ephesians 6:12) God’s limitless power limiting the sphere of activity in the spiritual realm to accomplish His purposes. Ponder with me these fateful scenes.

Upon being arrested, Jesus reminded Peter who attempted to use his sword to fight the Roman soldiers, “Put your sword back into its place; for all those who take up the sword will perish by the sword. Or do you think that I cannot appeal to My Father and He will at once put at My disposal more than twelve legions of angels?” (Matthew 26:53) In other words “A TON!” A typical amount of men in a Roman legion ranged from 3000-6000. Jesus limited the angelic realm from rescuing Him out of His destiny.

After being sentenced by Pilate to death and punished by beatings with a whip – 39 lashes is the projected amount – Jesus was ordered to carry His cross on his back of ripped flesh to Golgatha, the place where criminals endured crucifixion. (Matt. 27:31-33) The demonic realm pressed in to put Jesus to death before He made it to the cross and yet God intervened by providing Simon of Cyrene to carry His cross. I am confident angels assisted in this exchange.

While hanging on the cross Jesus endures verbal abuse from the soldiers and the crowd. No doubt driven by the forces of darkness who are working through the sin nature of rebellion revealed in the soldiers and crowd as they (we) respond to His suffering and humiliation with anger. Jesus is belittled and His authority is mocked. Drawing His last breaths He proclaims, “It is finished!” before giving up His spirit. The soldiers break the legs of the other two criminals to speed up their deaths but when they came to Jesus He is already dead so they confirm by piercing His side with a spear. (John 19:32-37)  This fulfills the prophecy, “Not a bone of Him shall be broken.” (Psalm 34:20) and “They shall look on Him who they pierced.” (Zephaniah 12:10) God limits the activity of the evil one in the timing of Jesus’ departure from His body and the way His body is treated by the soldiers.

God exercises limits when it comes to the invisible realm to bring about His eternal purposes. In the horror of the events preceding the resurrection it looks like the spiritual forces of darkness won. Yet Jesus delivers a crushing blow through His death and resurrection. Are you in a battle where you feel like God has the power to fight for you and it seems like He is not doing so? A health condition, a marital struggle, a workplace difficulty, a financial disaster. God oversees the sphere of activity in the spiritual realm for reasons we may never understand. Consider the story of Job! Take heart, sister, if you are depending on Him and there’s not a rescue to the battle, there is a greater YES. God’s children never ultimately lose a battle- even in death. **Read Jennifer’s story about triumphing when it looked like failure was imminent

~Laura

Singleness and the Sovereignty of God

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,”declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9

I struggle with singleness. While I am gratefully and happily married, I still struggle. I struggle with singleness because I have dear, godly, beautiful friends who have desired and prayed for husbands for years and yet they remain unmarried. I wrestle because singleness brings with it a lot of heartbreak for those I love and it reveals my temptation to doubt God’s goodness and sovereignty.

Getting married at 33, I had a few years where I wrestled with God’s timing and purposes in my singleness. I had times when I wondered why and if God was withholding marriage for some reason. I struggled with why a friend would get married and not me. I wondered if I had sinned in some way in the past and was therefore receiving God’s discipline as punishment.

Over time, the Lord was gracious to show me that He was not withholding anything from me (Ps. 84:11), as if I could do anything to deserve marriage. He showed me that my sin couldn’t trump His plan (Job 42:2), although sin can and does have consequences. And He showed me that His plans and purposes for my life as a single person were good (Eph. 2:10) and that I wasn’t living Plan B. He also helped me to get over myself long enough to see He had work for me to do and serving was a great remedy for self-pity.

If we take time to get to the heart of it, the struggle is really not with singleness—it’s with the sovereignty and goodness of God. At some point we all face circumstances that cause us to question if God is really in control. God is mysterious in His ways and yet we are called to trust Him and believe that He is good and that all things work together for good—even the struggles that go on for years without explanation.

God doesn’t give us a lot of whys in Scripture in the context of trials. He never told Job why he was called to suffer so greatly but we do know He was very fond of Job and loved Him. It’s our steadfast belief in God’s goodness, with or without answers, that is imperative. Paige Benton Brown in her excellent article on singleness says it this way:

“Accepting singleness, whether temporary or permanent, does not hinge on speculation about answers God has not given to our list of whys, but rather on celebration of the life he has given. I am not single because I am too spiritually unstable to possibly deserve a husband, nor because I am too spiritually mature to possibly need one. I am single because God is so abundantly good to me, because this is his best for me. It is a cosmic impossibility that anything could be better for me right now than being single. The psalmists confirm that I should not want, I shall not want, because no good thing will God withhold from me.”

So I will continue to struggle with singleness because I love my friends and yearn for the Lord answer prayers for marriage. However, when I struggle I will also choose to stand firm in the knowledge and belief that God is good no matter what. And in the meantime, I will also continue to pray for dear friends and many others who are living fully for Jesus while waiting for the Lord to answer our prayers.

~Courtney

For encouraging stories on singleness from the Sacred Story library click here.

For Paige’s full article “Singled Out for Good” click here.

Marriage and Obedience

I admit, I wanted to be married. I jumped right in with an amateur’s mindset. I had loads of energy and enthusiasm and a desire to actively love, but once I hit a few bumps, I realized marriage is no joke. Life, work, unmet expectations, commitments, and demands all hit hard and it seemed active, engaged, and purposeful love was the first to go. It was easy to think things were going to be ok because we were married and made a commitment to stay together, but those thoughts were just not going to cut it. When efforts wane from both parties, the natural tendency is to think I need to take care of myself because I am the only one who can do it the right way. Thus starts the crazy cycle. A fixation on how unfulfilling marriage is became a dark cloud that overshadowed my once rose-colored glasses.

The other day, it occurred to me I have moved onto a new season in my marriage; I am no longer an amateur. A switch has flipped and I now consider extending grace and love to my husband one of my highest callings on this earth. I have become a professional. Like a vocation or a career – this is what I was called to do. After earning two degrees and working many years in the corporate world, I cannot believe I am writing this. Recalling all the hours I once spent as a designer studying the end-user and designing products to meet their needs, I now find myself applying in marriage all the things I would be doing to build my career. Such as on-the-job-training (as a wife), studying and learning about my subject (my husband), and becoming an expert in my field (marriage). It takes quite a bit of work and intentionality every day but I am so fulfilled. Yet, I wonder how our culture has us convinced marriage only requires the same amount of effort as you would put into a part-time job.

As a professional wife, I need to show up every day no matter what. It takes commitment to love my husband because the survival of my marriage is at stake. The stakes are high because my child is watching and he will learn sticktoitiveness and dedication by how my husband love in our marriage. More importantly, I accepted this job – I made a vow and I signed the papers. To become one with another person is not for the faint of heart. The more I seek to love my husband, the more I recognize my need for Jesus as my own humanity often gets in the way.

Genesis 1:27 says “God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” As equals my husband and I are both designed in the image of God. An image is a representation or physical likeness of a person. Therefore I believe I am to mirror God’s love in our marriage. Our union means I am the one person on this earth who is most equipped to extend the love and grace of God to my husband. I realize my husband is human just like me and if God can extend grace to me through His son Jesus, it is my job to extend the same grace to my husband. My mission to love my husband well is purely an act of obedience to the One who made me.

 Sacred Story is honored to have Julie Landreth as a guest contributor to the blog this month. Read her story Did I Marry A Jerk? in the story collection on the site to hear more about her journey. Julie is a speaker and a “wife coach” who loves sharing with women her passion for prayer and ways to actively cultivate a thriving marriage. She leads a growing number of women in San Jose, CA through her WifeLab curriculum: The Art of Praying for your Husband. She and her husband have cultivated a marriage filled with intentional love and communication. They have had a date night every Friday night since their son was 8 months old. She also finds deliberate ways to spend quality time with her 10 year old son who shares many of her artistic talents.

 

 

Marriage: Bunny slopes and double blacks

“I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.” Romans 7:18 NIV

How in the world does this verse relate to marriage? Couldn’t I have picked the more lovely wedding verses from I Corinthians about “faith, hope and love?” Sure, those are perfect for the beautiful wedding ceremony, the joining of two lives, two families, two sets of hopes and dreams flooded by the warmth of candle light, the aroma of fresh cut flowers in full bloom and the joy of your favorite people standing in your honor gushing glorious smiles over their finest clothes. That day is the top of the comfortable chairlift to the peak of the majestic mountaintop you have washed with your gaze since childhood.

But then you must lean forward, hold your skies together and descend off the lift without knocking each other down. This is where the sinful nature raises its ugly head and says, “Why did he just bump into me? What did she mean by that? Shouldn’t I be treated better? Defend yourself!” If you make it off the lift without injury, you stop to gaze at the amazing view and capture a picture together…on top of the world.

How will you traverse this mountain together? There are several different runs. Some are reportedly more difficult than others. Some have been recently groomed, others more adventuresome. What will he choose? What do I really want? Will I yield and trust? How will I communicate what I really want without controlling the situation and overruling his leadership, which I secretly desire? Does my opinion even matter? Will I follow him closely, skeptically, trustingly or at a distance? Will I give him enough room to fail? Will I stop and help him up or ski past? Who thinks like this? We all do.

As much as we want to ignore the sinful nature and highlight only the fleeting moments of good that we pretend to sustain, we are human. Marriage is hard. It’s a double black diamond that will test your ability to live in God’s strength versus your own. As Paul honestly writes, “For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.” So, stop pretending that you can. Grab a hold of the truth that only God can carry out unconditional love in your marriage. Lock your feet into these skies of truth and trust God’s unfailing love to guide you down together.

Expect joy and expect testing.

Icy patches will steal your control. Objects hidden under pure white snow will trip you. Other couples will ski past you with ease. When you are paralyzed with fear or broken down in pain and want to scream, “Get me off this mountain”, change your gaze. You’ll never make it down the mountain staring at each other, either in love or hate. It’s only when you change your gaze to the Creator of the mountain that you will glide down together as it was intended.

Where is your marriage? Bunny slope or black diamond?

Where is your focus?

Do you really trust God with your marriage?

In His Unfailing Love,
brandi                     *Read stories from women walking through challenges in marriage

Singleness

“Godliness with contentment is great gain.” (1 Timothy 6:6)

Graduating from Baylor University in the mid-90’s I assumed like my friends that I would marry in a few years. Why would my life not follow the pattern of my mom and friend’s moms? For many women in my generation our 20’s flew by and especially for me, as I was in graduate school most of my 20’s and early 30’s. After graduation I moved to New York City where I lived for the duration of my 30’s. So, you are probably thinking how did she not get married in Texas. If I told you that I had blonde hair, then you might be even more surprised but not Texas blonde. (You know you are laughing and googling Texas blonde.) Also, I have not mentioned that I went to seminary in Dallas as well. A Christian girl in seminary and in Texas seems like a perfect recipe to find true love.

Many amazing women and I share a similar story of being in supposedly the right place to get married. So, why are more women single than ever in the history of our country? Moving back to Nashville at 40 years old, my northeastern friends thought that I would be married in a couple of years and that is what I thought too. Busting my assumptions, many of the same amazing women whom I knew in my mid-20’s were still single. How could this be? Sure, many women were married, but more women were still single. Weren’t people supposed to marry earlier in the South? I certainly thought so.

There is no easy answer to this question: why are so many women single and have never been married in their late thirties and forties? We could blame the culture, men, sexual revolution, and online dating, and they have contributed to the sexualized culture and prolonged singleness. More than anything I want you to see– you have a role in your singleness too. Blame shifting will not help you but only hinder your growth. Leave the blame key at the door. The blame key does not open the door to contentment.

Let’s consider this: Has a lack of contentment caused you to miss some good guys right in front of you or good women for the guys? Discontentment breeds focusing on the negatives in a person, complaining about that person or the relationship, not committing because somebody better might come along, and not being able to be alone. Others of you barely noticed some of the good ones or did not encourage them because you were into another guy who was not right for you and probably not a good match. Those of you who like having a guy around are never single long enough to feel loneliness. If you can’t be content alone, then you will not be content in a relationship. Two healthy people make for a healthy relationship. In my experience, God did a lot of heart healing in my loneliness and through counseling.

By far the greatest joy in singleness has been finding contentment. By that I mean not focusing on what I do not have, but instead loving well those whom God has placed in my life and cultivating those family relationships and friendships near and far. Now, in dating relationships I focus more on these questions: do I really enjoy him, do I respect him, do I see good qualities in him, does he seek God, and does he treat others and me with respect? “Godliness with contentment is great gain.” (1 Timothy 6:6)    *Read stories of women walking through challenges in singleness

-Mary Carmen

Living with Singleness

Do not fear disgrace. . . You will forget the shame of your youth and remember no more the reproach of your widowhood. For your Maker is your husband—the Lord Almighty is his name—the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer; he is called the God of all the earth.   Isaiah 54:4-5

I don’t know how to process my relationship with Singleness at times. Partly because he’s been a presence in my story for much longer than I imagined. I want to break up but he doesn’t seem to get the not-so-subtle “I need out of the relationship” message. I can feel weary of desiring. I have discovered that these longings reveal deeper cries in my heart which I’d rather avoid because then I face the reality that my heart cannot be “fixed” or satisfied by anything or anyone on the earth. They are eternal longings designed to lead me to hope in Jesus and His promises.

As I live with desires which are not meant to be filled in this life I have learned to adjust my expectations about the “dreams and joys” I believe marriage will make real. With that said, I do pray fervently for a godly husband to share the journey on this earth. I also grieve my losses and keep an open hand to God’s unexpected joys through Singleness.

I have days that I “really like” Singleness and days where I would rather do anything than be around him. On the good days I embrace the Lord my Maker as my husband, seeing His protection and provision. I receive an unexpected kindness and an opportunity to love on others. I find sweet reward in a woman declaring His faithfulness through her story, pouring out creativity for the kingdom, going on a vacation or mission trip, and having fun spending time and money in life-giving ways.

On a bad day I scream, “What?!?! The Lord my Maker is my husband? Try to tell that to my bank account when I am struggling to make ends meet. I want a tangible husband who has a job. Don’t even bring that verse up to me when I am discouraged and want a devoted husband to put real-life arms around me. The reality of the Lord being my husband doesn’t work when I desire children and a spouse to share in building a family. And then there’s the delightful and dreaded wedding invitation with ‘and guest’ on the envelope. Sorry God, you just don’t make the cut for these desires.”

I don’t have answers for why Singleness sticks with me so faithfully or for my dear friends. What I do have is reflections from women who are mothers and live with Singleness. While leading a small group at a shelter for homeless women, we were talking about our desires which lead to hoping in the Lord. A dear sister who is volunteering with me shared a glimpse of her journey. As a single mother for many years she longed for a husband. She remembers one evening crying out to the Lord as she knelt by her bed. She described a warm presence enveloping her. God didn’t answer her prayer at the time – she did marry after her children were grown –  and yet the Lord made Himself known in a tender way.

I find comfort in knowing God comes to me and my sisters in times of need. He deeply loves us and is eager to be there for us. As we wrapped up our discussion focusing on Hannah’s desire for a son a precious sister asked, “Why do you think God answered Hannah’s prayer when she went to the temple that time?” You may recall Hannah suffered for many years with infertility and would go to the temple year after year to pray (I Samuel 1). This was such an insightful question that I don’t have the answer to so I did what every small group leader does in such perplexing moments – ask the group.

The sister on my right shared that God’s ways are higher than ours and we don’t see the bigger picture. Only God knew He was preparing Hannah to offer her son Samuel to be trained for the priesthood from the time he was 3 years old. He became a great spiritual leader in Israel’s history. Answering Hannah’s prayer involved intricate timing in God’s plan.

I amen-ed that timing seemed to revolve around Hannah’s deep desire for a son but also God’s heart for people around her and for future generations. There remains mystery in the “why” of our stories no matter what longings go unfulfilled. We closed our time by asking God to show us more about hope in the Holy One, our Redeemer, and the Lord of all the earth (Isaiah 54:5). I pray the same for you sister.   *Read stories of women walking through singleness

~Laura

Strengthening Your Marriage When Life is Chaotic

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“…let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.” (Eph. 5:33)

These past couple of months have been both exciting and exhausting for my husband, Kevin, and me. Traveling to Korea to adopt and going from raising 2 to 3 boys has been quite a transition for us. Schedules and added responsibilities in the home brought out some ugly parts of us we did not want to see.

As we talked, we realized we had to let go of many things in our lives but one thing we would not let go of was our marriage.

During any time of major transition in a family, it takes time to reach a new norm. A marriage most likely does not remain the same. It either weakens or strengthens. The good news is whatever you are going through, even if it is trauma, your marriage can grow and strengthen from it.

Here are some tips to strengthen your marriage during a major transition:

Simplify Expectations.

We demand perfection in ourselves and others these days. The word’s standards are high and harsh. Rest in God’s grace (Heb. 4:10) and simplify expectations for yourself and for your spouse. We needed room in our marriage and family to breathe. That meant if the boys skipped a bath, I didn’t get to homeschool a day, or we had to miss important parties and showers, we had to let go.

Simplify Roles.

It seems like we have more roles than we’ve ever had in our culture. It is important to simplify and know your roles so you can have perspective and focus in the midst of chaos. In a Christian marriage, we believe men are head of the household (Eph. 5:23) and women are helpers (Eph 5:22). The roles are different but equally important. We can’t have two CEO’s of a company.

As the head, men are designed to provide (I Tim. 5:8) and to protect (I Pet. 3:7) . Kevin needed to be able to focus on his job to provide and be given the room and respect to take care of me and the children.

As his helper, I needed to nurture and to support. I needed to manage the home and children (Prov. 31:27-28) during the day so he could focus on his job and not worry. When he came home, I needed to let him care for me and the children by stepping back and respecting him (I Pet. 3:1) and his decisions rather than boss him around.

When Kevin and I were able to walk in the God-given roles He gave us, it brought peace in our marriage and order in our home.

Worship God.

When life is chaotic, it is tempting to stop looking up and to start looking inward. The result? Finger-pointing, blame, fights and misery. There are times Kevin and I have been angry at each other and tempted not to go to church. However, the second we walk in church and are surrounded by Christ-followers and filled by God’s Word, love and forgiveness rush into our hearts and we walk out hand in hand.

Everything needs to center around worship, not vice versa (Josh. 24:14-15). It was important for our marriage and for our children to see while life changes like the shifting of the sand, worshipping God is our foundation.

It seems like in our current day, people are in transition more than ever. Simplifying our expectations and living out our God given roles while worshipping Him strengthens marriages and families.  Is your marriage strengthening or weakening?

Edna Lee   *Follow this link to read stories of women walking through various struggles in marriage