The S’ word

love eachother

Why are there so many unsuccessful marriages today? I believe that even more than a lack of commitment, there is a lack of understanding. Just like so many areas of God’s word, this topic of Submission in marriage has been perverted and distorted to the point that it has become something disdainful. Gone are the days with strong male roles. In it’s effort to empower women, the feminist movement has emasculated men. Submissive wives, are no longer the norm, or even the exception.

Wives submit to your husbands as you do to the Lord. -Ephesians 5:22

What a backwards concept in our culture today. With so much emphasis on feminism, independence and self-sufficiency, godly submission in marriage tends to get swept under the rug. But what if submission wasn’t passivity? What if submission didn’t mean simply swallowing your desires and surrendering your sufficiency altogether?

When Paul speaks of submission in marriage, he is painting a beautiful picture of what God intends for a healthy and thriving relationship, so when we hear the word submission, we don’t have to shudder or wave our hands – pointing to the “old days”.

‘But why does he get to be the one who leads?’ we question, but the simple answer is because he does. That’s who God appointed to lead. “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. -Ephesians 5:23″ Who am I to argue with the creator of the universe? Any leader of anything will tell you what a burden the responsibility of leadership can be. Those of you who are single mothers or sole bread winners for your family are familiar with the weight that rests so heavily on your shoulders. We are not meant to carry that weight alone. When you are constantly at odds with your husband, you tear apart the support system of your family unit. When you work together, hand in hand, you submitting and him honoring you, God’s purpose in marriage is fulfilled.

The truth is that both husbands and wives are called to submit… both to God and to each other. Women are called to submit, yes. But men are also called to submit to the point of laying their lives down for their wives. Paul’s admonition begins with love. “husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church…”

Now, think of how Christ loves you. Broken, flawed, you. The you that has on more than one occasion turned your back from His relentless love. His fierce love.

The man, God gave you, is called to love you like that. Friend, you are called to submit to the man God gave you. Godly submission will revolutionize your marriage.

However, submission is not putting your husband’s will and authority above that of Christ.

My marriage is not perfect, and I don’t claim to agree with every decision Mi-amore has made, or will make in the future. However, I will follow his lead. I will honor his position and respect his God given responsibility to lead.

There have been several times, over the course of our almost five year marriage, when Mi-amore has made decisions that I did not agree with. It frustrated me that his opinion ultimately seemed to be the only one that mattered in the end. In those moments, I felt justified in my frustration and in my resistance to what I perceived as his “control”.

Earlier in our marriage I was very vocal and since I really didn’t have much of a filter when it came to Mi-amore, when I was angry, he knew it, when I was annoyed, it was obvious, when I disagreed, oooh I made it loud and clear, the Swahili woman in me would really come out to play.

Let me just say that keeping a tight rein on my tongue and yours as a wife is the mark of a very wise woman. This took a lot of practice and prayer.  It may feel very empowering to let your voice be heard and to let your husband feel every stinging dagger and insult that you have to throw in that moment.

This act of submission, keeping a rein on your tongue, is one that serves you both. Words are like toothpaste. You can’t put that toothpaste back in the tube. Words, once spoken, are here to stay. Even when apologies are made, the sting and regret of hurtful insults remains, so I had a tough decision to make, I had to learn how to put myself in his shoes and replay what I said and trust me those words were not so kind.

If we share our opinions in a respectful way rather than a “How could you be such an idiot?” kind of way, we will be acting with maturity. Plus we’re all more receptive to differing opinions when they are presented with respect. While being shown love is most important to a woman, being shown respect is even more important than love to a man. When you show disrespect to your husband by doubting or mocking his decisions, you emasculate him. An emasculated man cannot be a leader. A small word of confidence and support from you goes a long way towards building up your husband. We underestimate the power our words have over our husbands.

When he knows you are in his corner, especially when you disagree, he has the ability to lead your family with wisdom and clarity. He may make some mistakes along the way, but together you will make it right and God can reward your obedience by redeeming those mistakes. All things work together for good for them that love God and are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28).

Where there is an issue that you simply cannot agree on, submitting to his leadership means his decision is ultimate. Is that always easy? Nope. Does that mean he is always right? Nope. What a greater responsibility and standard our husbands are held to because of that! So what can we do? Is it just our lot in life as wives to have opinions that don’t matter or wants that are ignored? I don’t think so. Our greatest calling is to pray for our husbands. Pray for their wisdom. Pray for them to be in close communication with God and accountable to other Godly men.

Remember the greatest act of submission, when Jesus went to the cross in our place. Because it was God’s will and not his own. He prayed to change it, but God’s will remained. (Luke 22:42) Wherever you find yourself in your marriage today, look to the example of Jesus. Think of what Jesus sacrificed for us. Understand that the relationship between Christ and the church is meant to be mirrored by husband and wife. If Jesus was willing to sacrifice everything for his church, that’s the kind of dedication and commitment He demands from your husband for you.

In a nutshell, being a submissive wife means stepping aside a bit so that God can show our husbands how to lead our family in the way He intended. It’s about giving grace and respect to our husbands on a daily basis. It’s about being obedient to God by embracing the roles of marriage as He outlined them in the Bible!

Submission takes humility. It also takes a lot of prayer and relying on the Holy Spirit. But so does Godly leadership. When we look unto Jesus as an example, and reflect His love and Self-sacrifice as we lovingly choose to submit to the husband God has placed in our lives.

Advertisements

Divorce

 

Disclaimer: This post is about when husbands and wives want to divorce for reasons other than cheating and abuse. The Bible clearly states that The Lord gives the option of divorce when cheating is involved- Mathew 19 and Malachi 2:15-16. I know that The Lord does not condone abuse but when it comes to divorce, I don’t feel I have the knowledge to comment on it. So again, this is about divorce that is because of reasons besides cheating and abuse.

“To the married I give this command (not I, but the Lord): A wife must not separate from her husband.” 1 Corinthians 7:10

As you probably know, Divorce is a pretty common word these days and everyone seems to find this acceptable.
• If a husband and a wife can’t seem to get along, they divorce.
• If a husband and a wife have different goals and dreams, they divorce.
• If a husband and a wife feel that they have lost the passion and excitement in their marriage, they divorce.

On the other hand, I get it, being married is certainly not always an easy thing and like I always tell couples who are planning to get married, “Marriage is Not for Children“. It takes a lot of work, a lot of selflessness, and a lot of swallowing our pride, three things that most of us (if not all of us) have a pretty hard time doing. And if we are not willing to work toward these things, then divorce can seem like the only logical option left.

But this is not what Jesus teaches us.

He replied, Have you never read that He Who made them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be united firmly (joined inseparably) to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder (separate).–Matthew 19:4-6

You see, when we marry our spouse we become one, we are no longer just ourselves but have come together as one. The Lord created it this way for us to be a united team, working together to build God’s Kingdom. When we truly embrace this truth, we become a real force to be reckoned with, which is the exact reason that the enemy wants to separate us. He knows how The Lord can use a strong Christ-centered marriage to do amazing works. He knows how hard it is to defeat a husband and wife when they are standing beside each other in unity, with their eyes focused on Jesus.

Continuously, we are being told that marriage isn’t exactly realistic, and really, it’s pretty unreasonable to expect us to only be with one person forever. Well, I just want to say this right now.. Do NOT believe this HUGE LIE!! This is exactly what we were created to do.
From the beginning, God’s design for marriage was for a man and a woman to join together as one, and for this union to last forever – not for a few months or a few years. Not just during the passionate and easy times, and not just when the road is smooth, and the skies are blue.

Now, would I say it is always simple to stay with one person forever? Nope, while walking in our flesh, it certainly is not. We are all selfish, prideful, stubborn people, and marriage requires us to daily fight against every one of these feelings. Is marriage always supposed to be romance and passion? It can be, but usually, no it’s not. We shouldn’t think, though, that love has to look like what you see on the TV in order for it be real, true and lasting. Real love is not based on feelings and emotions.

Does this mean that when our marriage is not working out the way that we had planned, we should just give up and find someone else? Not a chance!

I am not trying to offend but I do think that sometimes the truth needs to be said, and so here it is…”Who on earth do we think we are that we feel we have the right to partake in what God created, and then somehow decide to make up our own rules for it?”

“Jesus said, “What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder – (Matthew 19:6)”. We need to read this scripture over and over and over again until it sticks so clear in our minds and in our hearts. We chose to get married to our spouse. We came before God, our family and our friends and vowed to stick by our spouse no matter what, through all of the wonderful times and through all of the not so wonderful times, so why is it that when we get speed bumps along the way we want to quit our marriage? The most important covenant between husband wife and God?

Marriage is a gift from God and when we choose to divorce, we reject His gift. We tell Him that what He created isn’t good enough for us. We tell Him that the rules that He has set out, well, we’ve come up with better ones. We make a mocking of His perfect creation.

When we take our weddings to church or have a man of God unite us as married Christians, we have a standard that we need to live up to. We need to stop believing the lies and the whispers (more like shouts) of the world about how divorce is just another totally acceptable option. We need to take that word out of our vocabulary and realize that when we said “I do”, we vowed Forever. We made a promise to God and to our spouse that we wouldn’t only stick around when everything was going our way, or when our spouse was measuring up to our standards but that we would stay even in those times when every single thing seemed to be falling apart.

The lessons I’m learning from my marriage is sure, we can all come up with excuse after excuse for why we deserve to get out of this relationship, why our spouse is not the “one” for us anymore, and why our situation is different than the rest, but really, no excuse can ever stand up to the Word of God. Many times, we believe that divorce is wrong for others, but for us? Well, The Lord knows how unbearable it is to be married to our spouse, so for us, it’s okay.

What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder”.

We cannot allow our pride, our selfishness, our goals, our plans, our stubbornness, our hurts or our sinfulness to tear the marriage, that God joined together, apart! What God creates is perfect and right, but it’s when we allow our sin to creep in, that it starts to fall apart.

We need to remember that our marriage is not failing because we chose the wrong spouse, it’s not failing because our circumstances have changed and marriage just no longer fits into how we think our lives should be, and it is not failing because somehow The Lord made a mistake. It is failing because we are sinful beings that refuse to put our pride and our will aside, and hand the reins of our marriage over to God.

Believe me, I know exactly what it’s like to be at a point in marriage where it all seems completely unrepairable. There have been many times in mine and my husband’s, almost 5 years of marriage that I have wanted to throw my hands up and quit because I was certain that there was no way that we would ever be able to make it work. But what The Lord has been revealing to me is that yes, there really is no way that we are ever going to be able to make it work… on our own. When we try to fix our marriages by using our own ideas and the ideas of the world, well, failure becomes pretty much inevitable. We, as people, don’t know too much about real, enduring love, but Hallelujah! We serve the God that does! When we choose to turn to The Lord and ask Him to restore every area that we have broken down, that is when miracles happen. When we choose to let go of our wants, needs, and ideas and truly lay them down before His throne, He is faithful to bring healing and restoration.

So, you might be thinking, “yeah yeah, this all sounds fine and dandy for some but what if our marriage is different?
• What if it really is no longer fixable?
• What if everyone is telling you it’s pointless to keep trying, a lost cause, an unwinnable battle?
• What if we can come up with millions of valid, logical reasons to call it quits?
• What will be our one reason to unpack our bags, and stay?”

Well, I’ve felt that same way, friend, and I can tell you this, the only reason you’ll ever need is Jesus. We serve a Perfect, Mighty, Holy God that continues to look upon us with love and with grace. Have we ever once deserved His love, His forgiveness, or His mercy? No, never, but even so, our God still chooses to look past all of our flaws, our blemishes, and our brokenness. He doesn’t withhold His love until we smarten up and achieve perfection. He doesn’t abandon us when we are not meeting His standards. He doesn’t ridicule us, insult us, or tear us down. No, despite the millions of reasons that He has to leave, He stands beside us anyways, for better or for worse.

You know, Jesus is not only our motivation, but He is also our example. He shows us everything we could ever need to know about love and about showing it to others.
When we’re at the crossroads of divorce and marriage, let’s remember Jesus and the love He has shown us. Let’s remember that even though we may be totally “justified” in leaving, so is Jesus, but even so, He never does.

The reality is that making any marriage last means making this same decision every single day. Every time our spouse makes a hurtful comment, every time our spouse doesn’t step up the way that we think they should, and every time we think we’d be better off with someone else, we need to ignore the urge to run, and instead, choose to stay right where we are.

Difficult times are sure to come but with them also comes the opportunity for us to extend grace to our spouse. Are they perfect? No, far from it. But you know what? So are we. None of us are perfect, all of us fall so short of the glory of God, and all of us are need of a lot of love and a lot of grace.

When those trying times come, we need to lift our eyes to Jesus, we need to surrender our will and give it over to God. We need to look past every single flaw and see the beautiful qualities that The Lord has put in our spouse. Divorce may seem like the easy option and the only option, but it’s not. When we choose to ignore God’s perfect design and come up with our own, we lose out on all of the beautiful blessings that would have come along if only we would have chosen His.

So listen, I don’t want you to think that I’m coming from a place of judgment because truly I’m not. The Lord knows that there are plenty of days that I still struggle to remind myself that His will for my marriage is not divorce. Many times I have to ask God to help my heart to choose to show love and grace towards Mi-amore when all I really want to do is run the other way. Really, this post is just as much for me (if not more so) as it is for anyone else.

As hard as marriage can be sometimes, believe me, the beauty of it is far greater! The Lord did not create marriage and the rules that go along with it, to punish us. It wasn’t a mistake or a flawed design. No, when The Lord created marriage, He created something far more glorious than we even know. Marriage is supposed to join a man and a woman together in unity. It was His way of giving us a teammate and a support to hold our hand while we face the obstacles of this life.

And the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make a helper suitable for him”.– Genesis 2:18

Marriage is a powerful thing, and when we choose to embrace it for what it is, The Lord will use us to do mighty things.

The Lord also uses marriage to grow us, refine us and perfect us it is to draw us closer to Him. We are not meant to stay stagnant in our walk with Christ, but we are meant to learn and to increase in love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and temperance (Galatians 5:22-23). Personally, I can’t think of a much better way to practice all of these beautiful, godly attributes than with Mi-amore.

So, if you take anything from this post, I hope you take this… Although marriage can be difficult at times, the beauty and the blessings that come to those who choose to let go of their feelings, and truly embrace the marriage that God has joined together, are so much more than we could ever even begin to imagine. Is marriage always going to be great? No, but praise The Lord that we can look to Him in those trying times to give us all that we need to keep on. God is well aware of our struggles, but even so, He tells us, “stay”.

Jesus is always good! And because of this, He really is the only motivation that we will ever need to let go of our own wants and needs, and to keep pursuing the godly marriage that He so desires for each of us to have!

Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy blessed New Year!

Marriage Truths- Part 1

Rings-on-Bible[1]

Marriage is an ongoing, vivid illustration of what it costs to love an imperfect person unconditionally.

The same way Christ has loved us.

God created marriage. He knows how it works best, and He not only wants to let us in on it, but also wants to equip us to live it out.

You see the world is currently trying to redefine what marriage looks like, along with the roles of husbands and wives. If we want to have marriages which function as God designed them to, we must forsake the “wisdom” of the world and listen to His. It’s definitely not always easy, but we must believe that God always knows what’s best and there is a reason why He made you husband and wife, it was not by accident.

The marriage relationship is a picture of Christ and His relationship to the Church, it is one of the greatest evangelistic tools believers have. Godly marriages have the potential to reveal Christ to an unbelieving world. How you ask, when Mi-amore forgives me . . . and accepts me, I learn to receive God’s forgiveness and acceptance as well. In that moment, he is modeling God to me, revealing God’s mercy to me, and helping me to see with my own eyes a very real spiritual reality.

Instead of being ineffective and burdensome, marriage is actually a powerful tool created by God, to show God, to the world. We must have a Strong Relationship with God in order to have a Strong Marriage. This truth isn’t usually talked about today, but it’s one of the reasons why divorce rates are so high today. God must be the center foundation of our marriages in order for them to flourish and bloom, remember my last article on the Love Triangle, the closer you and your spouse are to God the closer you get to eachother.

Maybe you are reading this and you are like “He spends the entire evening and weekends with the boys — again, or he goes golfing, clubbing every weekend instead of spending time with the kids”. From irritating habits to weighty issues that seem impossible to resolve, loving this kind of spouse through the tough times isn’t easy. But the same struggles that drive us apart also shed light on what we value in marriage.

If happiness is your primary goal, you’ll get a divorce as soon as happiness starts fading. If receiving love is your primary goal, you’ll dump your spouse as soon as they seem to be less attentive. But if you marry for the glory of God, to model His love, commitment to your children, and to reveal His witness to the world, divorce makes no sense.

When you are frustrated or angry, instead of pulling back, you must still pursue your partner under God’s mercy and grace, because God NEVER gives up on us. Every time we fall short of His glory He reminds us in Colossians 3:12-14 “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” … It is at such moments of weakness, shortcomings and trials that we should extend God’s Grace to our spouse the same way you would expect God to do for you.

Throughout our last two years as Ndoa Facilitators, Mi-amore and I have many times heard a wife say something like, “I know I should forgive him. But I just don’t see how I can ever forgive him for _____.” Or a husband say, “I know I should forgive her. But you just don’t know what my wife has done to me.” And yes, as we listen to what each spouse has done, it would be easy to agree with their statements–as sinful human beings ourselves. Some things we do to or against each other can hurt deeply. But as a follower of Christ, God tells us we must forgive. It’s a command.

Real forgiveness comes from God’s Grace and love. And in order for us to forgive, we must have first experienced God’s forgiveness ourselves. You see, the only way to forgive our spouse and let go of whatever sin they have committed against us, is to remember our own sins forgiven by Christ.

Prayer in one of the most intimate things you can do in your relationship with God. Praying with your spouse which of whom is the most intimate person you will ever know should be expected in your marriage as a habit. This habit develops closeness. Trust. Authority over martial attacks. It will also rise you both up for the greatness that God has called for you to be.

Some of you may be thinking, “but my spouse isn’t a believer,” or “my spouse is a believer, but he/she isn’t walking with God; so how can I demonstrate a Godly marriage?” If that is you, remember God holds you responsible for your own actions, not those of your spouse. So while you cannot change your spouse (only the Holy Spirit convicts); you can demonstrate Christ’s love for him/her (And of course, fervently pray for him/her!)

God’s plan for marriage is really remarkable. Let’s allow God to reshape our view of marriage, into His original vision and design, because at the end of the day marriage is not about making sure you get all you want, or think you deserve, it is about making sure you are giving all that Christ has given you.

Marriage is not 50/50; Divorce is 50/50, Marriage has to be 100/100 it is not dividing everything in half but giving it all you have.

Marriage is a gift from God to us, the quality of our marriages is a gift from us to Him, so give Him the very best by choosing to love your spouse everyday even when you don’t feel like it.

Love Triangle

triangleWhat if marriage was not to make you happy but to make you Holy?

The fact that simply quoting “holiness” is not seeing marriage for all that God has intended, it was that very quote “Marriage is meant to make you holy, not happy” that got me through a very dark period during the first 2 years into marriage. I was not happy. I was hurt, angry, felt deceived, trapped, you name it. If I could have left and supported myself and the children, I just might have done that.

Every day I told myself that God was going to use this season to mold me into the woman he wanted me to be. He was shaping me into the wife that He wanted me to be. That was really all I had to hold on to. God wanted me to take my eyes off of my husband’s shortcomings and focus on HIM who could carry me through and meet my every need. HE wanted to be my delight and my joy.

Clearly had I lost sight of what marriage was and saw it was all about “me me me!” and “you just don’t make me happy anymore”. wah! wasn’t I selfish! We can’t find lasting happiness by seeking it for its own sake. Seeking happiness directly will find you selfishly seeking only your own pleasure all the time and it will be illusive because we weren’t made to be selfish and to seek only our own pleasure. True happiness is a by-product of purpose!

Over the course of our marriage, my husband and I have realized how important it is to keep Christ at the center of our marriage. If we’re close to Christ, our marriage is stronger as a result. When we don’t nurture that primary relationship (us and God), our relationship as husband and wife suffers.

With the above triangle we see God is at the top point and the Husband and Wife are the two bottom points. The illustration is this: The closer the husband and wife are to God, the closer they are to each other and develop more attributes that are essential for their marriage to last for years. These characteristics include respect, forgiveness, repentance, love, and compassion. If we move closer to God individually, we move closer to each other. The further we are away from God (the bottom points of the triangle) the further we are from each other.

Ecclesiastes 4:12 reminds us; “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” We are stronger together, as husband and wife. But we are at our strongest when we are interwoven with Christ. We learnt this truth in our 3rd year of marriage after fighting with each other in the first 2 years. We realized how misplaced our focus was -on each other -especially our flaws- and not on God. We prayed that God would help us die to our own agendas of selfishness and live solely for Him. We didn’t expect immediate selflessness—it’s a life-long process—but we did immediately feel the significance of our commitment to the Lord and to each other.

It sounds simple enough, in theory. But life enters the equation. We get busy with our careers and we distract ourselves with less than edifying things. The drift away from our Lord and Savior is usually slow and insidious. Too subtle to even notice at first. Then the bickering starts “you don’t love me anyomore“, the ungrateful attitudes “is that the best you could do?” , the angry words “I wish I never married you“, the silent treatment and hurt feelings.

Unforgiveness. Discontent. Temptation. And we wonder, “How did this happen? How am I so far from my husband?” “How am I so far from God?” The drift is usually passive. Keeping Christ at the center of your marriage has to be an active choice. It’s a daily commitment to die to self and strive to become more like Him in every way.

So what does this look like in day to day life? Here are some practical ways for you and your spouse to keep Christ at the center of your marriage that Mi-amore and I have practiced and still striving to achieve;

Pray together and for each other.
Make time for this one, Mi-amore and I have dedicated every Tuesday night no matter what, to have our couple devotion. We use the You Version Bible app, it has many couple devotion plans. With this practice I have learnt that as you open your hearts to the Lord together, you discover an ever deeper intimacy with your spouse.
I have also found the book “The Power of a Praying Wife” by Stormie Omartian to be really helpful in learning how to pray for my husband. She has a chapter dedicated to each of the different areas of marriage, from temptation, his priorities, to his health. Some days, I pray through the entire book in one sitting. Other days, I choose one or two prayers that seem the most pressing. I’ve also asked my husband which areas he would like me to pray for and then I focus on those. Stormie’s book has helped me to become much more purposeful in my prayer life for my husband.

Also, for your husband, you can buy him “The Power of a Praying Husband”, I got Mi-amore his copy as a Christmas gift… hint hint Christmas is around the corner.

Study the Bible Together
Make time each day to read a verse or a chapter in the Bible together. And don’t just read it and move on. Talk about it. What did you learn from it? How does it impact your lives? What can you do differently as a result of what you read? If you have kids, let them see you studying the Word together, just the two of you. And then be sure to do this with them as well. Make Bible study a normal part of family time. We purpose to do this daily.

Find a Church and Get Rooted in Community
Find a church and make it your home and get involved together! If they have groups that meet in homes -like ours we call them Life Groups-, join one. Learn what it’s like to “do life” with other Christians on a regular basis. Find prayer and accountability partners. Find a mentor couple who will not take sides when you can’t agree on an issue and to act as your referees. Mi-amore and I can attest to the success of having a mentor couple, ours are a gift sent straight from heaven. God bless you Mr & Mrs N we love you guys!

Serve Together
Mi-amore and I are very passionate about marriage and family. Having done Ndoa and seen how it helped us prepare for marriage, we felt serving in the family ministries was our way of giving back to society. We serve in Ndoa as facilitators to couples who are dating, engaged and planning a wedding. We also serve in Lea where we help facilitate couples who want to raise Godly offspring, I must say this has been such an amazing and a transformational experience for us.

We have seen how serving together allows you to demonstrate the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23), show Christ-like love to others, and to bond together as you glorify Him and I must say this has really made us be intentional in making our marriage work and be hands on in raising our children. Serving together has really kept us in check because we have to practice what we preach.

Be Intentional
You cannot just sit by and hope that Christ will remain at the center of your marriage. As we live in a fallen world, our natural tendency is towards sin. Left to our own devices that’s where we will end up every single time. You must actively fight against this if you want to remain close to God and your spouse. None of these things are going to happen on their own.
If you think you don’t have time to do these things, consider the amount of time you spend each day on social media, or texting your friends, or watching TV. Think about the amount of time spent dealing with the problems in your marriage that result from drifting away from Christ. How much better would it be to invest that time in developing a strong, abiding relationship with Him?

In today’s world we charge our cell phones daily, but let our marriages die. If your smart phone receives more daily charging than your spouse, then you are spending way too much time talking to the wrong people… it saddens my heart to see marriages ending without couples putting in the work, commitment and effort they put in their 8am-5pm -at times even late nights and weekends- at their places of work at the expense of family/spouse time…what happened to “Till death do us part?” we need to take the vows and the covenant we made to our spouse and God seriously.

The truth is, we make time for what’s important to us. Make a commitment to actively keep Christ at the center of your marriage every single day! Mi-amore and I are not there yet but we have mutually agreed to be intentional in all that we do and the D word (Divorce) is not an option.

Done God’s way, it can truly be a picture of heaven on earth.

Mi-amore

Grace_Edwin-429

I hear the music begin to play. I turn the corner and see the congregation stand to their feet. This is the day I have been waiting for my entire life. As I take the first step, I feel the movement of my long, mermaid gown, exactly like the one I pictured in my dreams. I hear the lines of the song that I chose to accompany me down the aisle “at last”. Every eye in the room is locked on me as I walk slowly and elegantly down the petal-covered aisle toward the rest of my life– the goal I have been striving for, the fulfillment of my deepest desires.

I look at my mother and see tears of joy well up in her eyes. I catch the eye of my best friend and she gives me a look of approval. My gaze turns to the preacher, patiently waiting and prepared to join the coming together of two hearts. After what seems like a lifetime, I arrive at the altar and prepare to meet the gaze of the one my heart has been waiting for. A smile spreads across my face and I lift my eyes and see Mi-amore…

Take 2…

February 2012 I went for a wedding, I had no idea who the couple was but my friend called me to keep her company because her husband was a groomsman. I get there and seated across me was my childhood crush.

This man was soooo fine he gave me goosebumps, he had dimples on both cheeks, the full TDH. With such hotness I assumed he wasn’t single and I instantly logged on to Facebook and stalked his profile ha ha, just to be sure.

He recognized me and approached my table to say halo…this is where I wish the ground would open and swallow me, my heart was racing, and thin sweat trickled down at the back of my neck, I couldn’t remember the last time I felt this way about anyone. With a smile and deep voice he said halo, I almost fainted… as if that was not enough he leaned forward to hug me… he smelt so good I couldn’t catch my breathe. I gathered myself and said halo back and engaged in conversation catching up for all those years to a point we forgot we were at a wedding. We talked for hours and finally exchanged phone numbers and started chatting.

One random Saturday he invited me to his house for a BBQ with his friends but only one couple showed up. As soon as the couple left he asked to take me out and we continued chatting, I felt a calmness I had not felt in a very long time, and every time he would smile, his dimples made the hair at the back of my neck stand, the chemistry was real we couldn’t fight it and that night he declared his interest.

We started dating in June. Some of the things that got me attracted to Mi-amore; he was a church goer, feared and loved God, loved children (he had pictures of his niece all over his house at the beginning I thought it was his daughter), passionate about family (every Tuesday evening he would go for dinner at his parents house), he loved his job, fun and free spirited.

Mi-amore was no stranger to me, he was someone I grew up with although then he referred to me as his “small sis” because he was my uncles’ best friend. Our families knew each other infact his mother has always had her hair done by my mother. Toots was no secret to him, because we were from the same hood, he knew my story.

I remember one day walking to my house and I asked God to confirm to me by showing me a sign that this was the man he wanted me to settle down with.

Three months into dating he took me for a NDOA class in Mavuno church. So one Saturday afternoon he picked me up from home and said we are going somewhere, we get to the place and I see couples being ushered into a hall decorated in red and black, petals on the walk way and am like “what is this guy up to?” but I didn’t ask any questions.

So we settle down and we are taken through what Ndoa is all about;  a 10 week experience designed to enable couples who are engaged or already married with foundations that will help them succeed in their marriage. For the engaged, it helps asses the readiness for marriage as well as equipping you to beat the societal odds against great marriages. For those already married and realize they did not prepare adequately they will discover and work through the issues they had not considered previously or established sound values in marriage and that its not too late to put things right and ensure they finish well.

Marriage???” I remember thinking “my guy… You haven’t put a ring on it and you have signed us up for pre-marital classes?” I think at this point he saw the confusion in my eyes and had to explain to me that since we were both coming from failed relationships and a lot of heartache, it was not going to cost us anything if we got skills on how to relate better and see where this all goes at the end of the 10 weeks. I jumped on board and saw this must be the sign I had asked from God. We did the classes in 10 weeks (every Saturday afternoon thereafter) and graduated in November.

Indeed we learnt a lot from the Ndoa experience some of the learnings were ;

•Why we act the way we do; how opposites can either attract or attack, different personality types and how they come into play under different circumstances
• God as the source of our needs and not our spouses
• God’s purpose for marriages
• Conflict management and communication skills; fighting fair and clean
• In laws and out laws; leaving parents and cleaving to one another
• Submission and what it means; husband & wife roles defined
• How to manage finances as a couple
• Different types of intimacy; the 5 love languages, setting boundaries with friends of the opposite sex

By the time we were done we had a whole new perspective of ourselves, as a couple and the relationship. We learnt to relate with one another on a whole new level, we worked on our individual flaws infact the mantra at Ndoa was “work on me, pray for them”, because unlike academic courses which emphasize on acquisition of knowledge, Ndoa is about personal transformation, we walked with other couples we went to class with which helped hold each other accountable in our relationships.

December 31st that same year, infront of my relatives, he popped the question… wow! after 6 months of dating, I was beyond verbal expressions. I remember just crying and thanking God. Finally God’s promise came to pass “and know without a shadow of a doubt that God will give you the man you deserve.” Ephesians 5: 22-27.

8 months later, Aug 9th 2013 we said “I do”! To God be the glory! The wait was over.

The amazing thing with Mi-amore is, he actually asked Toots (who was 10 years at the time) for my hand in marriage. Wasn’t this man God sent? I felt and still feel so blessed and lucky at the same time to have met him and made me his wife. Toots and my husband, have grown so close and it is because he was and still is very intentional in pursuing a relationship with her.

Ladies, a man will love you great only when He loves God greater.

 

The Wait: Part of God’s Plan

“But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” (Is. 40:31)

Those words are forever scribbled in my heart.  Although I didn’t know what they meant or believed in them at the beginning of my singleness journey, with God’s help through prayer and meditation they helped transform me into who I am today.

“They that wait will have their strength renewed”. what does this mean? Let me share with you my interpretation and lessons learned from this scripture through my journey in singleness;


It is in waiting that we become strong. We long for the mountaintop moments, the thrill of answered prayers, that sense that God is working in tangible ways; but this longing, unchecked, defeats the purpose of the wait. Waiting isn’t a necessary evil; it’s part of God’s long-term purpose.

Jesus Christ is not arbitrary. He does not ask us to wait without reason. To think He does is to exalt our human minds above Divine will! God always has a reason for making us wait. Sometimes it is for our protection; sometimes for our sanctification. Sometimes we never understand why at all. The waiting season is a challenge, and we can either choose to rise to it – or waste our years.

Have you ever felt like you were waiting to get on with life? During my break from dating, I lived according to a “happy when…” formula. Meaning, I was waiting to “become happy” as details fall into place in my life especially around the fulfillment of my heart’s desires…True Love!

In my season of singleness, I felt stuck and stagnant in dating, I was almost thirty, felt like my clock was ticking and all I could see around me was couples so in love and it made me sick to my stomach. To add salt to injury my two best friends got married one after the other and I was right in the middle of it.

What if I never get married? That question brought up a slew of emotions and one of them was that singleness was a glaring reflection of my brokenness. I couldn’t help but think God had forsaken me.

I later realized that this period of time was a season and there was tremendous value in waiting on love. I had an opportunity to really look at who I am, what I wanted out of life and what kind of spouse I wanted.

I learnt before settling down that I needed to complete lessons in life around what I didn’t want in order to get clear about what I want in this world. Love is much the same way.
Along the road to marriage, I went through a lot of lessons of what I did not want, how I needed to stop acting in relationships, and more. The fortunate part was that I got to press a type of “redo button” and I could start all over again when I would eventually meet someone new along the way.

Another valuable part of my journey of “waiting on love” was that I got valuable lessons of compatibility. Attraction is not the foundation from which marriage is easily built upon. In long term relationships there are seasons of misunderstandings, troubles, and other challenges. Attraction will not get you through these tough times because sex is only one facet of an entire relationship.

While waiting on love I got to figure out who would be a compatible partner for me in life so that when I saw the possibility of love partnerships I did not get lost in the attraction factor and instead held out for connection as well as compatibility. If I didn’t take the time to sort out the compatibility extrovert and introvert factor as well as other details of who would make my ideal partner then I would have just been swept into these attractions, because “man…ain’t the forbidden fruit the sweetest”.

Imagine for a moment that you love travelling and then you meet an attractive person who doesn’t enjoy leaving their home. This is a deal breaker and the relationship will not work because of core compatibility issues. So I got to work out those deal breakers in advance so that when my God sent spouse came knocking at my door, I would not waste my valuable time or life energy in potential relationships that didn’t go anywhere.

What exactly was I looking for? A man who had love for God, because passion for God replaces lust and selfish desires, an open and honest man, relationally, financially and spiritual wise…my check list was endless but one hard lesson was “you attract what you are”.

Was I these things? Instead of going to work on them, I had to go work on myself because “If you become, you can attract.”

Many people want some extraordinary things, but their self-image limits them on what they actually receive. A person cannot attract to themselves that which is greater than the way they see themselves. So I began to think and act like the person who had the things I desired in my future spouse, otherwise I would never attract those things.

Waiting strengthens character. It sanctifies the soul. Simply put, you will not be ready to do great things for God if you refuse to embrace your current season. He already has a “great thing” for you to do: To learn to wait well. I chose to trust Him. If you can’t do that today, you can’t do it when you’re married, have that job, or own that house.

Waiting on God is spiritual strength training: We lift the weight of loneliness, doubt, and impatience, choosing instead to trust God’s timing. As we do, we take on bigger things for the Lord; things He can trust us to handle because we’ve proven we’ll obey.

These were not easy lessons for me, but with God’s help He made me discover my inner strengths and who I became in trusting Him.

So I challenge you today: Stop resisting your waiting season. Embrace where you are. Lean into your Lord.

Our willingness to wait, reveals the value we place on what we are waiting for.

Dear single mum, just go about doing what you have to do, without feeling sorry for yourself, carrying resentment or bitterness, your kids deserve to see a mum who loves the life she has and is chasing every dream God has given her. God may just be leading you down a hard path so you can find your Boaz.

And know without a shadow of a doubt that God will give you the man you deserve.” Ephesians 5: 22-27

Disclaimer; Marriage isn’t for everyone. Maybe you are really worried now! Don’t let the fear of being “single forever” keep you from serving God or living a fulfilling life. If God hasn’t revealed a man for you yet, you can be sure He has something wonderful in store for your life -whether it’s an amazing man down the road or a life of fulfilled singleness, choose to have faith in His plan. It’s tough but faith is so much better than fear. Just trust Him.

Stop resisting and run your race.

 

Quest for Love

journey 2

A year after Toots was born I found out my baby daddy was involved with someone else and they were expecting a baby…imagine the shock…I felt so betrayed but at the same time I felt pity for the girl involved…am sure she had no clue he had a child with me as well. He didn’t stop and settle there, he went on to have other children with two more girls…. right there I knew I was not the problem, he was.

The dream I had of reconciling with him and being a family went out the window and I made a bold decision to put myself out there again and find love.

You know when all seems dark and you cannot see the light at the end of the tunnel, it’s usually the enemy at work who wants us to feel rejected in the society we live in. I felt left out, lonely, and less than… because all I could see is how hard my journey as a single mum would be. When we allow the enemy to speak lies through our rejection, he pickpockets our purpose, cripples our courage, dismantles our dreams and blinds us to the beauty of Christ’s powerful love.

But somehow, the universe sends you people at the lowest points in your life to be a breath of fresh air, remind you that you are worth loving and to help you deal with your pain, but if you don’t have the discernment to know this, such opportunities can easily pass you by.

I met this guy who saw me as Grace and saw beyond my insecurities. Something that started off as a mere friendship slowly grew into a relationship. I still had my reservations of moving on and raising Toots with a man who was not her biological father so I took it slow.

The most difficult part of dating as a single parent is the knowledge that when you decide to date, you are putting your child’s heart at risk as well.

Sadly, it did not mature to anything as for two reasons: we both had different views on marriage, family, God and the fact that he was Muslim (though he didn’t practice the religion) and I was a Christian.

One day (after 5 years of dating) I asked him “where are we going? It’s been 5 years and no commitment forthcoming, should I die will you raise my child as your own without any commitment to me? sadly he had no answers to my questions and that is when I knew I had to pull the plug.

I had another relationship, that lasted two years.. He was ten years older than me and so I hoped he was the one, but I soon realized there was still a boy inside of him that did not want to grow up and settle down.

Breaking up is heart wrenching, to state the obvious, but when you are not equally yoked, share the same views on important matters such as family, marriage and God but all you rely on is the chemistry between you two, it will not last.

One Sunday I went to church and the sermon that day was about how God meets our needs. It was from Matt. 6:25-34 I shall never forget this day.. Have you ever sat in a sermon where it feels like the pastor is speaking just to you? That’s what this sermon felt like. The pastor said, “God always gives us what we need. If we don’t have something we want, it’s because God knows where we are at in life and knows that we don’t need that right now.” My heartbeat sped up. “I must not need a relationship right now then, even though I want one so much.”

As if he had heard my thoughts, pastor said, “Maybe for you it’s a relationship. Maybe God doesn’t want you to have a relationship right now because he’s working on your life. Maturing you spiritually.” My eyes widened. How spot on was he? I sat there throughout the rest of the service and pondered that thought. Since I’m not in a relationship right now, I must not need a relationship right now.

This thought had never crossed my mind before … but that logic coming from the mouth of the pastor really hit home. I truly believe that God uses the people in our lives to speak to us. And I think that He used the pastor that Sunday to remind me to trust God and that He knows best.

So I took a break from dating for two years to soul search and find out exactly what it is that I wanted in a spouse, myself and to listen to what God had in store for my future.

During my two year break, God pruned me in a lot of ways and taught me that only He directs us to a spouse. The main thing is to be patient and wait for God’s good guidance and provision, because our Lord is the only one who knows the most compatible future spouse for us.

 

So here is my prayer to you, the single mother still wounded by love:

I pray that you understand that past failed relationships (whether long-term or even just casual sexual relationships) do not make you unlovable. Whether you have had one failed relationship or a thousand, that does not diminish the love God has for you. God loves you so much He took the time to fashion you together in your mother’s womb – uniquely designing every bit of you. He calls you His daughter, and like any good Father, He wants what is best for you. The fact that a man or many men no longer love you does not make you unlovable. God loves you – everything about you. Even at your worst, you are loved by Him and He chose to give you a beautiful gift called motherhood, who many are still crying out to him for such a blessing..

I pray that you do the hard work of letting go and learning from those past failed relationships. Failed relationships cut deep. It’s okay to have a scar, but it’s not okay to keep picking at the wound and never letting it heal. It’s not wrong to have had failed relationships. We all have them, but you can’t keep re-hashing them. Stop accepting his calls, looking at his social media pages, and wondering about him. Do whatever it takes to accept the failed relationships. At some point, I pray you let it go, and accept that it was not God’s plan for you. And I pray you let it go and do the even harder thing – learn from it. Learn to choose differently, learn when to leave, learn to ask God first before you enter into another relationship, even learn where you went wrong. Because we all make mistakes. And it’s easy to only look at what was done to us and never look at what we may have done. I pray that you let it go, learn from it, so eventually, you can move on and allow God to steer your life.’

‘Lastly, to my dear single mothers out there, the man who truly loves you, will see your child as a part of you to love, instead of a woman with another man’s child.’