Beginnings from Endings

I love finding new blogs that freshen my heart, mind and soul. A good friend told me about Kevin Devries’ blog, Ramblings of a Widower. This post goes along well with my Marriage Triangle articles.  2Chron7-14-DesertPath-50--AMP

Beginnings from Endings

By Kevin Devries

 2 Chronicles 7:14
14 If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

 

It’s not that we, as Christians, need to worry about how the world is starting to define marriage, but rather our focus should be on the marriages in our Christian community. I am oddly finding myself amidst several couples whose marriages are on rocky ground or in a perfect storm. But it seems so clear that hearts have hardened, the hurt has been done, and there’s no return to honest work it takes to make a marriage work. I know I have been there on many occasions. I am (mostly) cognizant of the troubles I caused Pattie, her hurts, and disappointments. There was even a time early in our marriage that I screamed at her, scaring her to the core. But through it all, we worked on our communication and forgiveness. God provided me a wonderful wife, and I am indebted to Him for that perfect gift.

 
Ephesians 5:25-29
25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, 26 that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, 27 that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. 28 So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church.30 For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones.

 

My heart is full of sorrow for the marriages that are being torn asunder. Yet with the frequency for which I am being introduced to these situations, it’s quite possible that God is calling on me to counsel those in need. And hopefully along the way, to those who wish to continue to feed their marital relationship. I think all men deserve a Proverbs 31 wife, and all women deserve an Ephesians 5 husband. Read the rest here. BlogSL2-smallest

Your Marriage is Not a Hollywood Romance

I’ve been writing a column titled “The Marriage Triangle” for The Relevant Christian Magazine (TRC). I like to share articles I find about marriage in between publication of The Marriage Triangle articles. This is a good one from The Intentional Life

Your Marriage is Not a Hollywood Romance

It may seem a paradox, but marriage is more important than love. Why? Because marriage is the normal situation out of which true and abiding love arises. The popular notion, championed by fiction and motion pictures, is that love is primary, and marriage is nothing more than a dull anticlimax. Nothing could be further from the truth. I’ve found that real love hardly exists outside the context of marriage. How could it? Real love is a slow growth coming from unity of life and purpose. Love is a product. It is the thing to be created by mutual service and sacrifice.

Read more here.

Please check out the The Marriage Triangle tab here to read more articles about marriage.

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7 Commandments of a Great Marriage

Since I started writing the Marriage Triangle column for The Relevant Christian Magazine (TRC), I’ve come across many wonderful articles about how to have a great marriage. I’ll be sharing those here every so often, and will add each article to my Marriage Triangle tab here.

This first one is a wonderful article about marriage by Ron Edmondson, who is a contributing blog writer for the BibleStudyTools site. My favorite line from his article: 

Marriage is not a 50/50 deal. It’s a 100/100 deal—each willing to surrender all to the other person.

If you are married and want the best marriage possible—in other words, the kind of marriage God calls us to have—please read Ron Edmondson’s article.

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7 Commandments of a Great Marriage

by Ron Edmondson

I have an advanced degree in counseling and hundreds of hours experience working with couples. I’ve taught marriage retreats for years. I wouldn’t say I’m an “expert” in marriage—because I’m married—and my wife reads my blog. That would be a stretch. Actually, I know more to do than I have the practice of doing. (Isn’t that true for most of us?)

But I’ve learned a few things. I’ve observed things that work and things that don’t.

I think there are some necessary ingredients for a healthy marriage. That’s the point of this post.

Want a healthier marriage?

Read the rest here.

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The Marriage Triangle

The Marriage Triangle

by Anna Popescu


Does the title of this column seem a bit risqué? Well, it could be but read on to find out what it’s really all about.

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Marriage is a very strong yet fragile bond. That makes it somewhat of a paradox. I’m guessing all husbands and wives enter into marriage with the intent of staying true to their vows, but eventually real life breaks in. What started out as a strong union can begin to unravel, and that’s when it becomes fragile.

Many couples manage to stay married for many years. Barbara and George H. W. Bush recently celebrated 70 years together. It is obvious that their marriage has stayed strong in spite of the inevitable rough patches we all go through.How did they—and how do countless other couples—stay true to their vows?

I have been married twice. My first marriage lasted 23 years and I have two very wonderful children from that marriage. The marriage ended because my ex-husband no longer wanted me in his life. However, in retrospect, that was not really why we divorced. We had a long history of reacting badly to each other.

Let me explain. When one of us had an issue with the other, we did try to talk it out but more often ended up yelling at each other. That kept us at an impasse, and all those impasses accumulated into one big boatload. Oh, we gave the appearance that all was well with us as a couple, but the reality in our home was something else altogether.

I had given my life and my heart to Jesus Christ about 10 years after we were married, but I allowed myself to backslide for many years for reasons best left unsaid here. The huge turning point in my life happened after I was divorced. Almost 18 years after being saved, I finally returned to the Lord, rededicated my life to Jesus Christ, made my public testimony and was baptized. This changed everything for me, and I vowed that I would always live for Jesus.

Wedding photo w-Kathy&AlanA few years after that, I met Rick, and we were married in a special covenant ceremony at the home of a very dear friend. Those are my children, Alan and Kathy, in this photo taken at our wedding. We recently celebrated our 16th wedding anniversary and are still going strong in spite of some circumstances we never would have predicted. You can read the story of how we met online here.

Here are some excerpts about covenants and the covenant marriage ceremony at preceptaustin.org1, one of my favorite sites:

♥ Covenant as defined by the Scriptures is a solemn and binding relationship which is meant to last a life time.

♥ In ancient times, covenant was the most solemn and binding agreement into which two parties could enter.

♥ In the Covenant of Marriage remember the following truths…

  1. Two lives become one. In covenant, you become identified with the other individual, and there is a supernatural commingling of two lives.
  2. There is a sign to remember which serves as a witness and a memorial. When you enter a covenant with your beloved, the sign is usually a ring which serves as a constant reminder (memorial) of the solemn and binding marriage covenant.
  3. There is a change in name. As the wife takes on her husband’s name, this change symbolizes the supernatural identity and oneness God intended for the partners who had entered the marriage covenant.
  4. There is a meal shared. Biblical covenants were often commemorated with a “covenant meal.” [Husbands and wives] will celebrate your new covenant relationship by feeding each other wedding cake which is a picture that you are now sharing a common life, that two lives have become one.
  5. There is a friend who will stick closer than a brother. Friend is a covenant term and is beautifully seen in God’s covenant with Abraham. “… and the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “And Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness,” and he was called the friend of God” (James 2:23).
  6. There are witnesses to testify. In the Old Testament, the solemnity of a “cutting covenant” was often witnessed by setting up a memorial or sign. “So now come, let us make a covenant, you and I, and let it be a witness between you and me.” Then Jacob took a stone and set it up as a pillar” (Genesis 31:44-45).
  7. There is a covenant partner to defend. Webster’s definition of the verb to defend = to protect a person from harm or danger. To keep safe from attack. To cover. To shield. To safeguard. To shelter. To support someone in the face of an onslaught of criticism (how often do we criticize our covenant partner rather than lovingly defending them from criticism?).

We’ll explore each of these items in more detail in the future.

One of the things that Rick and I talked about during our courtship is crucial to our commitment to stay married no matter what. Rick had never been married before and would say, “I am only going to be married once.” Since I had previously been married, I would reply, “I am only going to be married once more.”

So Rick and I started out with the right foundation, but still butted heads from time to time as all married couples do. We would fall back on the illustration of the orange given to us by our premarital counseling pastor. If you take an orange and rip it in half with your hands (versus cutting it), you have two pieces with very jagged edges. That orange can only fit back together one way—by fitting those uneven edges together exactly. That’s the way the husband and wife work together within a marriage. The strengths of one may be the weaknesses of the other, but fitted together—in other words, by working together—they can solve a problem or complete a task that one of them may not have been able to do alone.

Rick and I love the example of the orange, and have remembered that image many times. We have a great marriage but we are no different than countless other married couples. We still sometimes struggle with some silly, sometimes stupid, ridiculous things that can build up to cause a heated discussion or argument. The single greatest thing we have learned is that to have the best marriage possible, we need to remember that we are each at the bottom corners of a very special triangle in which Jesus is at the top. We call this The Marriage Triangle.

It is very easy to get into a fiery argument by focusing on our own selves and our own agenda. We’ve all done this. We get so involved in what we’re trying to communicate to our spouse (maybe very loudly?) that we forget what brought us together in the first place.

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The triangle image above is a great way to show that husbands and wives are to keep their eyes focused on Jesus rather than just on each other. What happens because of that is the more time we each spend focusing on Jesus and His will and plan for both of us, the better and closer our relationship with Jesus will become. And the closer we walk with Jesus, the closer we get to each other.

Rick and I know this to be true in our marriage, and are absolutely thankful for this truth. It has also helped defuse many an argument when we stop to consider that Jesus is watching and listening to every single word that pours out of our angry, frustrated mouths. And even when we forget to look up to Jesus, it is only because we have become closer to Him that we still remember—most times—to stop and take a break. There is a lot of praying and thinking that goes on during that break, and we always come back together by asking forgiveness for speaking so carelessly. After that we are able to calmly continue the discussion until we’ve figured things out.

Beloved, God wants us to live in a harmonious marriage. He created marriage to be a man and a woman. He knows everything, so He also realizes that the inevitable problems will arise. However, He has provided us with ways to help our marriages become stronger in spite of the hurdles or difficulties.

That’s what this column will be all about, and I’m looking forward to writing about the ways in which God can help all of our marriages become even better!

“The first secret to loving others is to immerse yourself in a love relationship with God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit—and abide there.” —Anne Graham Lotz

1 PreceptAustin.org: The Covenant of Marriage

 

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Fireproof [repost]

I am trying to get back into posting more regularly but life keeps getting in my way. The past couple of weeks haven’t been very good for me, so in an effort to get more consistent, I’m going back to posting things by days of the week. Since today is Tuesday, here’s my Tidbit Tuesday blast from the past. The message is just as relevant today as it was last year!

Tidbit Tuesday

FireproofMovie

When the movie “Fireproof” first came out in 2008, I wanted to see it because my son is a firefighter. Simple, huh?

Actually, not so much. Seeing this movie greatly impacted Rick’s and my marriage and we decided to buy the DVD as well as the “Fireproof Your Marriage” Couple’s Kit Bible study. And I also bought the paperback Fireproof to read. If I like something a lot, I want to know as much as I can about it! That’s how I roll.

Our 10-year anniversary was in 2008 so we decided to have a private ceremony—just Rick and me—in which we renewed our covenant vows and exchanged new, matching wedding bands that have three etched crosses on them. Now, please understand that our marriage was not in peril but seeing this movie reinforced in both of us the need to tend to our relationship in a new, special way. Every. Single. Day.

It is so easy to let things slide in order to avoid conflict, but that just causes the little things to pile up into a huge mountain and then watch out! Here’s where a full-on blow-up can happen. One of the things we have learned is to let go of what doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things and yet make sure we talk over what does make a difference in our marriage. We make sure to be constantly and consistently vigilant to not let the embers of our love die out because of something we said or didn’t say. Or did or didn’t do.

I shared that I would be writing about “enough” this year, but let me clearly state that our marriages are not to be taken for granted. We need to nurture our marriages and our marriage partners every day. This is a case where “enough” is NOT enough!

Here’s a video trailer of “Fireproof” to whet your appetite in case you haven’t seen it. And if you have seen it, I’d like to challenge you to watch it again with a new frame of mind for how much more your marriage can be… even if—as was the case for Rick and me—you think your marriage is already the best it can be.

If you have trouble viewing the video here, click on this for the direct link.

AnnaSmile…..

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Happy Anniversary to my Beloved

Wedding photo w-Kathy&Alan

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I can believe 15 years have passed since Rick and I promised our lives to each other in a covenant marriage ceremony. To me, it feels like yesterday. In the photo above, my son Alan is on my right; my daughter Kathy is on Rick’s left.

So much has happened in these 15 years. As most marriages, we have had our highs and are thankful for all God’s blessings in our marriage and in our lives.

Because of the shadow of chronic illness over us, we have also experienced enough lows to last a lifetime. But we have always tried to remember that God is at the head of our marriage. And as long as that is true—and it definitely is!— we know without a shadow of doubt that He will continue to guide us as we keep looking to Him for His will in everything we do.

If there is one lesson I can share with you about holding tight to your marriage vows, it is this: be kind to each other! To me this involves:

  • thanking each other for everything, even the little things
  • cutting the other person some slack at times because all of us have our “moments”
  • forgiving each other for those “moments”
  • keeping your love for each other alive

I know there are more but this is all my mind could come up with right now.

Popescu Wedding Photo

To Rick, my Beloved:

You are such a huge blessing to me! I thank God every single day for the blessing and gift of you in my life. Here’s to the next 15 years… and beyond!

Ephesians 5:21-33:

21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord.

23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior.

24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her

26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word,

27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.

28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.

29 After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church—

30 for we are members of his body.

31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”

32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church.

33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

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AnnaSmile…..

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The advertising which may appear below is not placed by the author and is not to be considered as a part of this post or an expression of my views.

Fireproof

Tidbit Tuesday

FireproofMovie

When the movie “Fireproof” first came out in 2008, I wanted to see it because my son is a firefighter. Simple, huh?

Actually, not so much. Seeing this movie greatly impacted Rick’s and my marriage and we decided to buy the DVD as well as the “Fireproof Your Marriage” Couple’s Kit Bible study. And I also bought the paperback Fireproof to read. If I like something a lot, I want to know as much as I can about it! That’s how I roll.

Our 10-year anniversary was in 2008 so we decided to have a private ceremony—just Rick and me—in which we renewed our covenant vows and exchanged new, matching wedding bands that have three etched crosses on them. Now, please understand that our marriage was not in peril but seeing this movie reinforced in both of us the need to tend to our relationship in a new, special way. Every. Single. Day.

It is so easy to let things slide in order to avoid conflict, but that just causes the little things to pile up into a huge mountain and then watch out! Here’s where a full-on blow-up can happen. One of the things we have learned is to let go of what doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things and yet make sure we talk over what does make a difference in our marriage. We make sure to be constantly and consistently vigilant to not let the embers of our love die out because of something we said or didn’t say. Or did or didn’t do.

I shared that I would be writing about “enough” this year, but let me clearly state that our marriages are not to be taken for granted. We need to nurture our marriages and our marriage partners every day. This is a case where “enough” is NOT enough!

Here’s a video trailer of “Fireproof” to whet your appetite in case you haven’t seen it. And if you have seen it, I’d like to challenge you to watch it again with a new frame of mind for how much more your marriage can be… even if—as was the case for Rick and me—you think your marriage is already the best it can be.

AnnaSmile

Happy Anniversary!

Fourteen years ago today Rick and I were married in a covenant ceremony. A lot has happened since then. We’ve had our ups and downs just like everyone else and have had our share of tussles. But we have learned that when we keep our focus on God, we are able to see past our own viewpoint and concentrate on what the other is saying. We always learn something new in the process.

The next best thing we have learned is this: to thank each other for everything… and I mean everything…from the smallest gesture to the grandest. Examples? Rick often asks me if he can help with the dishes. I typically turn him down and say, “I’m doing okay, but thank you for offering.” Rick has a bad back and it is often very painful for him to bend over to pick up something he has dropped. If I’m close enough to him, I pick up whatever he dropped, and he always thanks me.

I know, silly little things that really should require no statement at all, let alone a “thank you.” But here’s the thing: all those little thank-yous make us more aware of each other and draw us closer together.

This photo of us walking the beach at Rocky Point illustrates the essence of our relationship. We love to hold hands! We hold hands when we walk together, when we’re riding in our truck, when we pray together…and the list goes on.

Marriage is not easy, but then no close relationship between humans is easy because of the egos involved. We all want what we want when we want it, don’t we?

It is often hard to remember but worth the effort to treat our spouse better than we treat anyone else in our life. Oftentimes we tend to do the opposite because our spouse is the one with whom we are the most relaxed. It is so easy to snipe at or take a frustration out on our other half. But isn’t it so much sweeter to see a smile on that loved one’s face rather than a frown?

Happy Anniversary to my Rick. I love being the other half of your orange!

Forgiveness

Happy Sunday

I this quote from Ruth Bell Graham.

How true it is! And how wonderful and appropriate that Jesus first demonstrated and modeled the way to forgive.

On this Happy Sunday, I am very happy and thankful for Jesus’ forgiveness of my sins so that I can live with Him forever.

Can I get an Amen?