Follow My Lead

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As women we long for our husbands to take the lead in our homes. We want them to lead our families spiritually – praying with us and for us, opening up the Bible with the kids and initiating spiritual conversations.

But what if he doesn’t?

Sometimes we think it’s natural for our husbands to just lead us in the home but that is not always the case! Husbands have insecurities, lack of confidence, poor or no role models, as well as bad habits just like us. The only difference between the two genders is that a man’s struggle/issue will manifest differently than a woman’s.

In the Ndoa ministry that Mi-amore and I serve in, we have encountered many couples with different personalities that tend to clash especially where the woman is a choleric and the man is a phlegmatic- woman is very self driven, knows what she wants, how and when she wants things done and the man is “laid” back in terms of leading and taking control of the relationship and home he’s just slow in his execution-.

So before jumping into any conclusions, we need to know and try to understand why they’re not leading in the first place.

  • Maybe he doesn’t know how to lead his home.
  • Maybe he didn’t have a father in his life to teach him what leading a family looked like.
  • Maybe his father was married to a contentious woman, therefore, his dad kept his mouth shut so he could keep the peace in the home. A son who saw this growing up is emulating his father who wasn’t a good role model in leading his family.
  • Maybe he’s a laid back, easy-going, type of personality and leading does not come naturally to him.
  • Maybe he’s married to a contentious woman and he wants to keep peace in the home. If this defines your relationship, you have a lot of control over this area to make some changes, friend.
  • Maybe he’s lazy and he doesn’t care. (This is truly sad, but unfortunately in some marriages, this is a reality.)
  • Maybe he’s been taught by his parents that he’s no good and he’ll never amount to anything. (He’s afraid to fail so he doesn’t try too hard in life. Or maybe he lacks the confidence.)
  • Maybe he’s been beat down and discouraged by his wife, therefore, he’s apprehensive to take the lead in the family. Again, my fellow wifey-friend, if this is you, you can make some changes and turn your marriage around!
  • Maybe he’s fine with the way things are in the marriage.
  • Maybe he doesn’t realize that his wife feels like he’s not leading!
  • Maybe his and his wife’s roles are not defined within the marriage.
  • Maybe the roles were reversed when he entered into marriage and it’s hard for him to make changes.
  • Maybe he’s trying to change but he’s having a hard time doing so.
  • Maybe he’s not changing fast enough according to his wife.

Sadly the above is a reality and not a list of excuses, and as wives you may have seen a point or two manifest in your husbands life but many have been such critics to your husband’s leadership styles or lack of before trying to understand his background and/or personality.

So what is a wife to do? Here’s a few things you can do:

Some things in your marriage you just have to let go. Does it really matter if he doesn’t pick up around the house as much as you’d like? By the way, I used to have this issue, but then I came to the realization that I didn’t marry Mi-amore because I wanted a helper to help me to keep the home! Instead, I just lowered my expectations and standards of order.

Being that I have a tendency to be obsessive/compulsive and add to that, a perfectionist, those things can be a recipe for disaster for any marriage. Instead, I chose the path of building up my home (husband) rather than tearing it down with my hands. I’ve done this for two reasons. One, because God’s Word says to do it. And two, truth be told, because I’m selfish. Hey, what can I say, I want a glorious marriage! I want to live with Mi-amore in peace and harmony not strife.

I’ve chosen to work at having a deeper and stronger marital relationship rather than examining my husband’s sins and shortcomings. But again, I have to remind myself to let things go, I cannot change him only God can. It’s a constant mantra of mine! In fact, as I sit here typing these words out, I can count the number of times dirty clothes lie beside the laundry basket instead of inside, that I’m constantly picking even thought the basket is right next to his bedside. Instead of getting disgusted and angry over the fact that he has left these clothes on floor right next to the basket, I choose to ignore it. So let things go, friend, and be gracious to your man. To be honest you and I also have flaws that our husbands also chose to ignore.

I want you to take a moment and humbly examine your own actions and speech towards your husband. Ask God to reveal to you if you’ve been demeaning, nagging, disrespectful towards your husband. So I encourage you to seek God humbly and see if you’ve been discouraging your husband from leading. If God does reveal to you your sin in this area, I pray that you will find the boldness and the humility to confess to your husband and seek forgiveness.

I am not saying do not address the issues, it also depends on the magnitude of the matter, I guess what am trying to communicate is we need to know how and which battels to pick and your relationship will be better off as a result of this practice. Let go of your expectations – Sometimes we may not recognize our husbands’ leadership when we’re so focused on how we think they should lead. Take a step back, surrender your expectations to God and become a student of your husband’s. Find out what his leadership style is and encourage him as he leads.

Thank him for what he does do. Encourage him in areas that he is already soaring in. Let him know you admire such and such quality about him. By building him up, he may have more of a desire to want to better his marriage with you and thus, that’ll entail leading. But only if you allow him.

Pray for God to convict his heart to lead your family. And, if you want him to step forward to lead, you’ve got to step back more. Keep turning to him and asking him how he wants things done in your family life. But here is where it gets really hard….Your timing will not be his timing. Your expectations and standards will not be his and what you’re concerned about probably won’t concern him. Have non-emotional conversations with your man so the two of you can get on the same page.

Spend some time talking with your husband and share your heart about what it is that you desire for your marriage, but be careful here. Make sure you don’t beat him up over this issue. Your tone should be filled with grace and kindness, otherwise, your husband probably won’t listen to a word you say or an argument will ensue.

See if you can pinpoint some areas that he might be struggling in and then spend time in prayer and lifting him up to the Lord. Ask the Lord to reveal to you areas where you might be able to encourage and strengthen your husband, as well as areas where you need to back off and just let things go in your home life.

If your husband is passive, it becomes even more important to go back and understand God’s original plan for him. You see, you can’t pray for what you don’t know. Faith staggers and fails when you don’t have the word of God as an anchor.

But here’s the problem, when a husband fails to lead his home, the last thing a wife wants to do is think about his role in the Biblical sense. Sure, you want him to lead, but a lot of times the desire is drenched with more hurt, disappointment, and anger than spiritual awareness.

Why bother understanding his role when he’s not bothered at all?” is a logical question but let me propose something else: our faith does not follow logic.

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding”. Proverbs 3:5

Plus you are not studying his role to beat him over the head with it or to make yourself feel more wretched. No, you familiarize yourself with God’s plan for him so your faith can be stirred and you can pray according to God’s will. If your husband is struggling to set the tone in his home, chances are he’s struggling in other areas of his life and spirituality. Pray with understanding.

Sometimes, people who need our love the most are the most difficult to love. It’s easy to start withholding in other areas when you feel like the scale is imbalanced. But I want to remind you this: “we love one another because Christ first loved us. 1 John 4:19 Not because we are getting everything we want.

A lot of times when we think about leadership, we are actually thinking about a leadership style. Leadership is often associated with extroverts; determined, decisive, talkative, resolute e.t.c But what if your husband is a gentle, soft-spoken like-to-hang-in-the-back-of-the room type of person? Does that mean he doesn’t or can’t lead? Not at all.
It means he will lead differently, most likely in his quiet, gentle introverted ways. You need to re-adjust to his style.

The world thinks that if you’re not happy, the marriage isn’t legitimate. But if the vow meant, “we’ll stay married as long as we’re happy”, there would be no need for a vow! The vow is what will hold you together, and God asked you to make that vow. God asked you to commit, because in committing to someone for life, we’re also creating a situation where we need to lean on God. When marriage is hard, you need God more. For marriages to improve, you need to emphasize God more, and yourself less

In your frustration and despair, don’t forget that God has a high purpose for him, one that is bigger than your personal ambition. Submission to your husbands leadership is a work of faith, trusting God to work through your husband for the good of your whole family. As a wife, it requires prayer, the laying aside of our pride and will. At times, your husband will fail, and you will be tempted to snatch up control. How beautiful it would be instead to encourage him in these difficult times, to stand beside him in forgiveness and love, letting him know you still trust him to be the man God planned for him to be.

Before God moves in our situations, He always moves within us. Change is a personal decision – your “getting out of the way” does not guarantee his stepping up. However, you will have the peace of God as you work and walk out your situation. If your husband is passive or absent in any area of your marriage and family, I am not suggesting you are the problem. Yet as a wife, you can be a catalyst for change.

Dear brothers and sisters, I close my letter with these last words: Be joyful. Grow to maturity. Encourage each other. Live in harmony and peace. Then the God of love and peace will be with you” 2 Corinthians 13:11.

Stay Blessed.

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Bitter Sweet

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But when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins, too”. Mark 11:25 NLT

This story is about my relationship with my Father.

It is about my pain based on my perceptions of events. Some of it will not be pretty, but it is time for me to set these memories free. Mistakes were made by everyone, including me, so please read with a soft heart and forgiveness so that I may continue to forgive myself. Also, please keep in mind there are always at least two sides to every story.

Some people will probably think that I should not write this, but I offer I do this with his consent and to help others. Like I always like to say ‘When you know your pain has a purpose, it changes your perspective. Your pain has a purpose for you and a purpose for others.’ I hope it helps you or someone close to you.

So what is this all about… growing up I was the apple of my father’s eye and it was no secret from anyone who saw us together. Am the first born, named after his mother (all 3 names lol), the age gap between my sister and I is 6 years, so I had my father’s undivided love and attention all to myself and it never changed even with the arrival of my two siblings. My father was very intentional in my life, we had dates, he was my go to person when I needed advice, whether on love or work, you name it , he was my voice of reason.

My mother and father were both pillars in my childhood church, my mother still sings in the choir, while my father was a KAMA chairman of the men’s’ church group, the chairman of the gated community we lived in and the chairman of a cousins group. We seemed like the perfect family: a mother and father who were madly in love, with three children who were always prim and proper whenever there was a Sunday morning service.

As you grow, you realize that these pillars of perfection harbor cracks from within the foundation. As I aged and began understanding the inner workings of marriage and how not every marriage is a bed of roses and not what appears to be in public, I had grown to be angry and resentful of my father’s midlife crisis lifestyle.

My father is such eye candy, I mean even when we would be out on dates with him and we bumped into my friends, they would be like “is that your father? Goodness he’s hot!“. He’s a head turner for sure, you can’t miss spotting him in a room. He had a well-paying job, drove high end cars, dressed sharp, smelt good, such an entertainer and good conversationalist. I could see why my mother couldn’t resist his vibes back then. With all this, it just attracted the wrong kind of attention that eventually compromised on his values, his marriage and family.

One evening of August 2015, I think my mother reached her tipping point because I received a distress call from my mother’s house help, to go home because my parents got into a scuffle and she was scared it could go south. I was so mad as I drove to our home and when I got there, I stormed in and my father was the first person I saw. He was in the living room with his peers who happened to be our neighbors… (my parents verbal exchange was so loud it got the neighbors attention) the words that came out of my mouth at that heat of the moment, to date I cannot repeat them… that was the last straw that broke the camel’s back and I became his enemy.

Seeing my mother angry and in tears broke my heart, I didn’t even want to know what transpired that lead into the heated argument to arouse such attention, all I knew was it must have been my father’s new way of life that was making her miserable.

How could my father risk throwing away over thirty years of marriage and his three children in the name of living “the good life”?

These questions haunted me for a while. To this day, I still cannot tell you the answers.

The anxiety of my doubts in marriage was a direct result of the actions I had witnessed, I was fearful of what if Mi-amore gets to midlife and shifts his focus from our family? But I made a conscious decision not to allow my father’s mistakes ruin or interfere with my relationship with my husband. So I would work so hard to suppress my feelings and emotions towards him.

Two years went by without us seeing each other let alone talk to each other, if we met at functions we would act like we did not know one another. This caused a lot of people pain: my mother, siblings, husband, my children, even my in laws, and myself, but in secret.

This new way of living without my father in my life was not an easy journey. Deep down I missed him but was too angry to be the first to reach out to him.

At some point in my life I felt like every wrong thing happening to me or my family had to do with my estranged relationship with my father and he was the reason for my misfortunes.

Last year in 2017, I had a miscarriage, we had fasted and prayed for a whole year and were trusting God for another child only to discover we were pregnant, but at 8 weeks my doctor informed me I would not be able to carry the baby to term. The same baby’s due date fell on my father’s birthday… I mean, even I laughed at God’s sense of humor. Same year my husband got retrenched from work. All the places I had made job applications came with regrets. My health was under attack. I had 4 theatre surgeries under anesthesia, all unrelated issues, every time I went into theatre I would ask God to see me through so that I could get a chance to mend things with my father or at least hear him out on why he chose that lifestyle.

All this just left me wondering was I under a curse? and immediately the scripture verse of “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 “Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise— 3 “so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.” Ephesians 6:1-3

What a wakeup call… all was not going well with me because I was not honoring my parents, especially my father. I knew I needed to forgive my father for what he had done to me and my family.

Immediately I sensed these events and more were no longer normal battles of life but spiritual warfare to disintegrate our family, and realized just how powerful a father’s blessings are to his children. We started a prayer chain with my family, in laws and my life group.

I thank God for my mother because she never at any one point stopped praying for my father, wanting her marriage to work and her family reconciled. It is through her prayers that they were able to reconcile with my father and together worked towards forgiveness and restoring their marriage, but my father was still very bitter with me, I guess he couldn’t reconcile how his dearest daughter took a side and disrespected him in front of his peers.

So I decided to borrow a leaf from my mother and started being intentional in my prayers, asking God to remove any chains that were holding my father and I bondage from forgiving one another and win our souls back to Him all to the glory and honor of His name.

I took to my secret weapon to find solace – The Bible.

But with you there is forgiveness, so that we can, with reverence, serve you.” Psalm 130:4 (NIV)

What I had come to realize was that there was still malice in my heart.

On bended knees, I let out a prayer that shook my core. I prayed to rid me of my anger, I prayed to forgive my father for his sins, and I prayed to forgive myself for hating him and his unjustified actions. He did not abandon us, he provided and maintained the home for my mother and my siblings but the emotional turmoil was more than anyone could handle especially my mother.

I just prayed.

With prayer, nothing came sudden. As much as I wished for the Lord to grant me forgiveness swiftly, my journey to peace took much longer than one powerful prayer.

What I had to learn was that forgiveness was a battle for my heart. Was I willing to remain bitter and blame all men for the mistakes of one, or was I willing to take this uphill trek to humble myself and absolve my anger towards my father?

With that, I continued to pray.

God worked by putting an increasingly heavy burden on my heart about my dad, our relationship, and the part I continued to play in its failure. It is easy to forgive a child, even a teenager, for her mistakes, but as an adult you must accept your portion of the blame for failed relationships. That’s how forgiveness works.

After two years I was at a point where I was willing to accept whatever he wanted me to do, to be reconciled back to him. I no longer wanted to clothe myself in a blanket of pride even though I still felt justified in my actions in defending my mother and cursing him out in front of his peers.

Mi-amore, and I bless the Lord every day for this man, said he would support me with whatever decision I made and held me accountable in my role in mending fences with my father. And so the journey began, I reached out to my father’s peers as per his instructions, who were with him on that eventful evening and had several meetings with them to apologize for disrespecting them as well. This step I must say was not easy.

For one I felt these peers were not in any way entitled to an apology, this was a family affair and my actions were as a result of anger for what my father had done. I was bitter with them because I expected them to hold him accountable and understand where I was coming from. But pride aside, I met all of them and was forgiven.

Eventually my father got wind of what I did with his peers and he reached out to my husband and asked him to set a date and time for us to meet and put our differences aside. Isn’t our God faithful? He heard our prayers and answered them in a timely manner.

A million things clicked together for me in that moment Mi-amore told me of his conversation with my father. We went over for dinner and had a meeting with my husband, mother and father. I must say God had used the two years of our silence and distance to really work on us. I asked for forgiveness and my father in return embraced me and granted me forgiveness. All my doubts from previous years were erased. Hurt and anger were replaced with forgiveness and acceptance. It hit me my father still really did love me.

So, today, I can say, “I love you Dad” and mean it. Boasting not in the easiness of this journey or my personal willingness to fully surrender to loving, honoring and forgiving my Dad. Instead, I boast in the continual power of the Holy Spirit that prunes and changes hearts. It is His Spirit that has not only supernaturally changed my Father’s heart, but mine as well.

If, you are praying for reconciliation with your father or are dealing with the past hurt from your parents. Know that God is willing to restore and reconcile. No matter how long it’s been I believe God can do it. But before He allows us to reconcile with a person He changes us first through wrestling, tears and surrendering our hearts (Genesis 32 &33).

One of the lessons I learnt was that we can’t afford to put our parents on a pedestal of perfection- they are God’s children too and they fall short of His glory. One of my regrets, is that I wish I would have honored and loved my father this much before acting the way I did and caused us to lose two years of time we will never recover.

We must humble ourselves enough to forgive what we formerly thought was unforgivable. He is faithful to piece us together even when we don’t see restoration. He is powerful enough to reconcile us first back to Him as our Father and then to others.

The father’s blessing I received from my dad on that reconciliation day, radically changed my life. It set off a series of chain reactions, opening up an awareness of the father’s blessings that I never knew was possible. I see the effects of receiving it, and not receiving it, as I meet and get to know people in my day-to-day life. When I sense various problems or issues in people’s lives, I wonder what the root cause may be. Time after time, the answer points directly to the relationship that they have with their father.

How a father feels about us, what he thinks about us, and most importantly what he says to us, has a powerful impact. There is a supernatural aspect to the father’s blessing that only God can fully comprehend and explain. The supernatural power of God is the only explanation to the miracles I have seen as a result of the Father’s Blessing. So for my father, one of the most important people in my life, speaking words that communicate he loves me (my most basic need), is the most important and powerful thing a person can do. I believe the reason why the father’s blessing is so powerful is because he’s the most important person in my life, fulfilling the most critical need in my life, by employing the most powerful force in universe, the spoken word! He has the power to bless and curse you; I have seen and experienced both sides.

So this year I plan to celebrate Father’s day and make up for the lost time, and I thank God for giving me a chance to make it right with him here on earth before our time is up. It is my prayer that you too will enjoy your Father’s Day with your biological father, spiritual father or with our Heavenly Father.

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you“. Ephesians 4:32 NIV.

God Bless.

The Yardstick

yardstick[1]A good marriage is a union of two good forgivers.

We all come into marriage with a full yardstick of expectations—what love looks like, what our roles will be, what we’ll do on weekends, where we’ll go for Christmas etc. But over the years, that yardstick starts getting snapped off an inch or two at a time, until we’re left holding something a whole lot shorter than what we brought with us.

This leads to what I call the Unmet Expectation Syndrome. And every time it happens, the natural reaction is to go from disappointment to hurt to anger and finally to resentment where we make our spouse pay for not living up to our expectations.

So what perspectives can we keep in mind in order to keep our expectations of marriage (and life!) in check?

There are three wisdom perspectives from Scripture that enable us to have realistic expectations for marriage:

First, you are conducting your marriage in a fallen world. This means we all face the same thing and your marriage will be touched every day by the brokenness of our world.

Second, you are married to a sinner. We just don’t get to be married to someone perfect. Your life will be affected by the sin, weakness, and failure of the person you are living with. And at some point you will sin against your spouse.

Finally, you must remember that God is with you. You are not alone in your struggle. Yes, you live in a bad neighborhood (fallen world), and the two of you are less than perfect (sin), but in all this you are not left to your own resources.

Everyone’s marriage becomes something they didn’t intend it to be. Spending time together is radically different from living together. Reasons for attraction now become sources of irritation. At some point you need something sturdier than romance. You need something deeper than shared interests and mutual attraction. You need something more than marital survival skills.

So what do we do? The problem and the solution can be summed up in one word: worship. I have become more and more persuaded that marriages are fixed vertically before they are ever fixed horizontally. We have to deal with what is driving us before we ever deal with how we are reacting to one another. Remember my previous blog on the Love Triangle, read it to understand this vertical relationship you must have.

Every relationship is victimized in some way when we seek to get from the surrounding creation what we were designed to get from God. When God is in his rightful place, then we are on the way to putting people in their rightful place. I am convinced it is only in the worship of God in our marriages that we find reason to continue.

Being a worshiper means that you attach your identity, meaning and purpose, and your inner sense of well-being to something. You either get these things vertically (from the Creator) or you look to get them horizontally (from the creation). This insight has everything to do with how a marriage becomes what it is. No marriage will be unaffected when the people in the marriage are seeking to get from the creation what they were only ever meant to get from the Creator.

You might say we are just too different to make it work or I think I made the wrong choice in marrying him or her. What you are dealing with is part of the plan. And it really is a gorgeous plan; in your marriage God will take you where you never thought you would go in order to give you what you could not achieve on your own.

He is working on something that is very good—lasting personal change—and He is with you during the process. He is giving you what you need to be, what you have been designed to be, and to do what you have been called to do. Now, that is a reason to be encouraged, even on the days that are difficult.

To better deal with unmet expectations is to learn how to love and forgive. Because you vowed before God to remain committed to each other, you must both own up to your failures and responsibilities. Your marriage will never outgrow its need for massive doses of forgiveness.

Practice Communication and seek to understand each other. Expectations must be managed, and the best way to do that is to keep the communication lines open. Clarify your needs and expectations. Don’t leave each other guessing, strive to meet each other half way, be realistic and compromising.

Develop God’s perspective because your spouse will never be able to meet the needs in your life that can only be met by God alone. Let Him be your sufficiency. Even though we can pray and ask God to enable our spouses meet our needs because only God is the enabler, ultimately we should seek to have Him meet all our needs because He created us and knows us better.

Lastly, don’t throw away the yardstick. Don’t give up on your dreams. Even though expectations sometimes tend to be out of step with reality, God doesn’t want you to live with just a few inches of the yardstick. Keep high hopes and expectations in God to give you a fulfilling marriage, work toward them in a healthy way, and give thanks to God as He fulfills your true and deepest desires . . .both through Him and through each other.

Reconciling your marriage begins when you begin to reconcile with God. It begins when you keep saying this radical prayer: “Your kingdom come, your will be done, right here, right now in this marriage as it is in heaven.” Good things happen as a result of that prayer!

Be in it to Win It!

The S’ word

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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.

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.