My Lover's - Blog Series

Once Upon A Time

Once Upon A Time… isn’t that how every fairy tale ever begins? Isn’t that how marriage is supposed to be? The fairy tale life? The fairy tale marriage and it should go into and they lived happily ever after. However, that is not reality.

Before I go on let me say that I have been married to my husband, Ted, for 13 years. I love him more now than I did the day we married and I continue to marvel in God’s great compassion in allowing me to find Ted. Now this does not mean my marriage has been in a walk in the park, or a fairy tale. It has been hard, but to quote Teddy Roosevelt “Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty…” So let’s dive into week one of our new series on Marriage.

I was giddy… I was blissful… I was excited… I was happy… I was…married… I was terrified.

All of these I was moments came on the same day. My wedding day, the day I said I Do to Ted. How could one day encompass so many emotions? How could one day be so anticipated, so exciting and yet terrifying at the same time? How could I cry and smile at the same time? How could I tremble and yet be at peace at the same time? From moment to moment how could I go from, oh my goodness I am married, and to oh my goodness what did I just do?

Now let me stop to say I knew Ted was the man I was supposed to marry. He was and is the man the man I am supposed to spend my life with. He was to be the father of my children. He was to the be the head of my house hold and the leader of our relationship. All of these things I knew. That realization had hit me about 12 months prior to that day, Saturday, August 6th 2005.

Let go to the beginning, to the Once Upon a Time moment; I met Ted in April of 2004. We were attending the same school, Evangel University, and were in the same group of friends. On the first occasion that we hung out together I had laryngitis and did not participate much in the conversation. About a week later we were both at a birthday party and Ted was sitting across the table from me and I introduced myself. His response to my introduction was “I know who you are.” I don’t remember anything else about that conversation, to be honest.

Over the next two weeks he and I talked more. According to him I did all the talking. I do know that our second conversation happened over the breakfast table in our University Cafeteria during Finals week. He was alone, and I walked to his table and asked if I could sit with him. When I got up to leave to go take my final, 3 hours later, Ted got up and got lunch.

For some reason during that conversation I had been very open with Ted about me. I had told him about my eating disorder and basically that I was a very broken person. As a matter of fact this was the same semester that I had just come out of bondage, you can read about that in our blog series about bondage. To be honest that entire conversation should have sent Ted running for the hills, but it did not.

Over the next few months he and I talked more and more. Of course I left school for the summer and Ted stayed for summer school, but we talked every day on the phone. To make a long story short, in June Ted asked me if I would date him, I said no but that I would be willing to marry him. I know crazy bold right? He said he had been waiting for the right girl to say that to him. Of course when I originally said this I was expecting him to hang up and never talk to me again, but when his response was a positive one, I wanted to be the one to hang up. Instead we began a courtship on July 2nd of that year. We chose a courtship over dating, because we were not going to date to just date. So on the first day of our courtship we chose a wedding date. A few months later on October 28th of 2004 we got officially engaged. Then on August 6th of 2005 we tied the proverbial knot and we began our happily ever after.

I will be honest our Honeymoon Phase did not last long. It was not long before reality hit. Ted and I both started our senior year of college 2 weeks after we got married. We both worked and went to school. Ted worked two jobs so I could work part time and student teach.

That first year of marriage was stressful to say the least. Many times I asked, “What did I do?” I fought for my voice constantly in the relationship. I fought to be heard. For those of you who don’t know we bring our baggage into our relationships. All my life I had felt like people didn’t hear me, they didn’t see me for who I was and so in my marriage I fought to be heard. Also, do you remember me saying that I had just come out of depression and an eating disorder the year before? I brought that baggage as well. Ted would sometimes have to force me to eat, and I would try to hide things from him. Therefore I was fighting myself and my husband constantly. Every person has a past, good or bad and if you aren’t prepared to deal with it, you will quickly feel like you are failing.

Every inadequacy and every fear came to a head in the early years of my marriage. In close relationships and in close quarters dealing with fears and inadequacies is not a pretty thing. In my marriage I felt like a failure and this was before we even had our first anniversary. I had fallen for the Once Upon a Time myth that marriage would be a fairy tale. However, marriage was hard.

Sharing space was hard. Communication was awful. Sex was difficult. Money management was painful. And submission was impossible. This was my first few years of marriage. It was not what I expected. It was supposed to be this easy, wonderful thing and it wasn’t.

Sharing space for me was hard because I had never had to do it and I didn’t understand the value. My sister is six years older than me and by the time space mattered to me she had left home. Though I had college roommates, that was a different type relationship, they weren’t relying on me and I wasn’t relying on them. Sharing space took time to get used to, and I had to realize that Ted was my partner, we were relying on each other and the space we shared was valuable.

Communication was awful because I had no idea how to communicate. I was incredibly selfish too. I wanted to be heard like I said, so if I thought he didn’t hear me, meaning agree with my opinion, I would yell and yell until he gave up and gave in to me and my stubbornness. Over time I would have to learn to let go of my own will, before communication would become easier.

Sex was difficult for me. Ted and I were both virgins when we got married. We had worked very hard to stay pure and truly thought it would be magical. However, for me it was not for quite a while. Of course the first time is always painful. However, for me there was also an element of guilt. All my life I had heard the message of don’t have sex and sex before marriage is bad. Then suddenly I got married and sex was okay. In my mind though, I had lived in the space of sex is bad, not just outside of marriage but in general. This is a misconception that I think is too often struggled with by Christian women. So in my head it took a long time for sex to become good. God actually had to heal me of that misconception. Then for me it had to be good in my head before it could be good physically.

Money management was painful because we didn’t have any. We were broke college kids. We didn’t know how to manage money and we were already in debt with our college loans. Though we both worked we didn’t make much money. Also, as I said before communication was pretty awful at the beginning and that is key when it comes to money. It would take us learning how to manage money and of course our communication had to improve.

Submission was impossible for me because I had no idea what it meant and I really didn’t like the idea of it at all. To me submission sounded like slavery. It sounded like I had to do whatever my husband asked whenever he asked. This was not something I was even interested in doing. I would have to learn what submission really meant and how to do it correctly.

I know that submission is a hard topic and the following verse is not a popular one but it is important and the reason for this part of the conversation.

“And further, submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. For wives, this means submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For a husband is the head of his wife as Christ is the head of the church. He is the Savior of his body, the church. As the church submits to Christ, so you wives should submit to your husbands in everything.”

Ephesians 5:21-24 NLT

In each of these areas God had to come in to my marriage. I had to place God at the top of our relationship. In our space God had to help me open my heart to my husband in a new way. I had to realize that Ted was my partner, and our shared space made that partnership stronger. In our communication God had to help both of us learn how to communicate and also help us both to be less selfish. In sex God had to help me change my point of view, to relax and enjoy the intimacy between my Lover and myself. In money management God had to give us new direction, which came in form of FPU, we had to both learn how to manage money and communicate with each other. Finally in submission God had to show me that submission to Him wasn’t slavery and submission to my husband wasn’t slavery either.

In two weeks I will dive deeper into each of these topics and how my marriage has transformed over the last 13 years. However, before I sign off I want to go to the verses that inspired the title of this blog series.

“I am my lover’s, and my lover is mine. He browses among the lilies.” Song of Songs 6:3 NLT

If today your marriage is struggling or you feel like you are failing at being a wife, know that you are not alone. Please don’t give up, it may not be a fairy tale, but I promise it is worth it.

Go in God Knowing That He is Enough For You and For Your Marriage!

Love,

Laura

Fragile Flower

Somehow, Ben and I are constantly involved in marriage continuing education. Before we were married, we participated in pre-marital counseling. While we were engaged and in our first couple years of marriage, we participated in a weekly married couples Sunday school class. In all honesty, we went for the free food. When we moved to Texas, we led an Art of Marriage table for young couples. Now, we lead a life group for young couples where we often discuss marriage. Even then, on our weekly Saturday morning dates, we often talk about our own marriage. So, it is a huge part of our lives. In our four and a half years of marriage, we choose to make ours a priority. With divorce rates sky-rocketing, especially among military couples, we choose to surround ourselves with positive examples, so that we may be a positive example.

During these classes, we often hear of the typical characteristics of a wife in the marriage and the typical characteristics of the husband. During these conversations, you will find Ben and I smiling at each other. We know we are completely opposite than the typical married couple. We laugh at the fact that in our own marriage, I am known for being cold-hearted and a poor communicator. Ben, on the contrary, is known for constantly taking inventory of our marriage, communicating through the peaks and valleys of life, and being willing to express himself.

Ben is so, so good for me. He saved me from becoming an unemotional stone woman who refused to have any fun. Before meeting Ben, I never really dreamed of marriage or my wedding. Ben, however, very much dreamed of this. While little boys were dreaming of becoming an astronaut or a doctor, Ben dreamed of becoming a husband and father. I, on the other hand, always figured I would marry a doctor when I was thirty. Not because it was some dream of mine. It just made sense. I would be a nurse, meet a doctor, then we would get married. We would proceed to live our financially stable lives parallel to each other while pursuing our own careers. It just made sense.

Then I met Ben when I was twenty, not thirty. He significantly turned my life upside down, for the better. I realize how I could never have married someone so similar to me. Ben and I are similar just enough to make us a great team. We both have A-type personalities which allows us to accomplish goals together and be effective partners. But, we are so different in other areas that it allows us to grow each other. I brought organization and structure to our marriage. Ben brought communication and fun.

Those that knew me before I met Ben, like my family and close friends, saw a dramatic difference in my nature when Ben entered my life. Like Laura, I brought the eating disorder baggage into our early years of marriage. I tell Ben now that he had the power to make or break me. I was in a vulnerable and fragile state when I met him, although I did not know it at the time. If you were to ask Ben today, he would say that he looked at me like a flower. A fragile flower that had not yet bloomed. He knew God entrusted me to him, so he could nurture and grow me to my full potential. And that is exactly what Ben did. He handled me with such care.

My stone-cold nature was a façade. I found, through my relationship with Ben, that I was extremely sensitive and emotional. But, I used a stone-cold front as a barrier because I did not know how to process emotions healthily. That is what the eating disorder was for. The eating disorder allowed me to process any emotion, so I did not have to sit with it and process it myself. The eating disorder was my protective mechanism. By engaging the eating disorder, I did not have to feel the brunt of anxiety, stress, incompetence, or embarrassment. Instead, I would just dump it all down the toilet. But, Ben did not permit the eating disorder to infiltrate our marriage. While I did relapse and struggle during those early years, it was all on the road to recovery.

Ben would always ask two questions when I came to him after a relapse: Have you asked God for forgiveness? And what is the root issue?

By always asking these questions, Ben accomplished two major things that were key to my recovery. First and foremost, he taught me to have a relationship with Christ before our marriage relationship. As a result, I ended up falling in love with this Jesus. Then, I developed a heart for ministry which is how I am here writing to you. By pursuing my own relationship with Christ, I found the perfect friend, my true companion. While I love speaking positively of Ben, he is not perfect, and I am not perfect. By putting Christ first in my life, I consequently put less pressure on Ben to be the perfect husband and vice versa.

Secondly, by exploring the root issue, I was forced to look beyond superficial answers. I had to examine my heart and mind instead. Oftentimes, the relapse was out of selfishness, lack of self-control, and distance from Christ. It was a rocky road. But, as my relationship with Christ grew, the Holy Spirit’s voice spoke louder and louder. It got to the point that I would be on the verge of a relapse and stop because the conviction was that strong.

Each day, as the eating disorder became a thing of my past, I began taking care of my spirit, my mind, and my body. That fragile flower that Ben so delicately cared for began to blossom. And it showed. I learned how to dress myself instead of hiding behind baggy clothing. I learned how to relax and rejuvenate instead of go-go-going all the time. And I fell in love with Jesus. All thanks to Ben handling his fragile flower with care.

Now Go in God Knowing He is Enough for You!

With Love, Megan

I Am My Lover’s And I Will Never Give Up

Have you ever heard the following phrases about someone’s marriage? They Threw in the Towel, They Waved the White Flag, They Surrendered to the Inevitable, They Yielded to the Unavoidable Outcome, or They Succumbed to the Inescapable End. In other words They Gave Up.

Before I go on let me just say I understand that there are circumstances that should never be put up with in a marriage. I am not encouraging anyone to stay in a dangerous or harmful relationship or even one in which there has been unfaithfulness. What I am talking about is giving up. Also I am not here to shame anyone who has walked away from a marriage or divorced. I do not know your circumstances and do not even imagine to judge them. I am not in your shoes. This message is hopefully to encourage those in marriages that there is always hope and a way to get through to the other side. Maybe today you are struggling or feel as though you cannot go on in your relationship. Or maybe you are newly married or about to get married. Wherever you are in your marriage or relationship journey I hope that this message will encourage you.

I am sure you have heard this phrase in movies, have read it in books, or maybe you someone has said this to you about their marriage, “One day we woke up and realized that we were not in love anymore.” By the worlds definition that feeling of love is fleeting and often is gone. However, I will counter that notion and say love is not a feeling. Butterflies in your stomach is infatuation. Rapid heartbeat is anticipation. Heat in your midsection is sexual attraction or arousal. Those feelings over time do ebb, especially when you are going through a difficult or stressful times in your life and marriage.

However, I will make this statement again LOVE IS NOT A FEELING. Love is an action. True Love, is …

“Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

Let’s look at this verse closely, what is love and what is it not? Love is the following: patient, kind, it rejoices in truth, hopeful, faithful, and endures in all circumstances. Love is not the following: jealous, boastful, proud or rude, demanding, irritable, it doesn’t keep records of wrong, it doesn’t rejoice over injustice, it does not give up and it does not lose faith. I would go as far as saying that love is sacrifice.

I sometimes get to teach a youth purity series, in that series we talk about what the world says about love versus what God says about love. I have the girls in the room help me make a list of what the world says love is. Usually it goes along this theme, touch, nice words, likes (as in social media), sex, gifts, etc. The list can go on and on. Then we make another list of what God says love is. To be honest this list is harder for them to make. Why? Because they do not know. So we go to the Word of God to find the answer and from there we pull what God says love is all the things listed in 1 Corinthians 13, but also we look at verses like

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that He gave Jesus, His one and only son…”

1 John 15:13 “Greater love has no man than this, that he would be willing to lay down his life for his friends.”

This is just to name a couple. From these verses we make this list about love, it is giving, it is kind, it is patient, it is not selfish, etc. My next question in this conversation with the youth girls is what is the difference between the World’s definition of love and God’s definition Love? The answer? The world’s love is selfish, God’s love is selfless. However, when we realize that true love is selflessness, we start to see that it is not a feeling, instead it is an action that we take.

In week 1, I Was My Lover’s blog post I talked about how in the beginning my marriage was very hard. I talked about why it was hard, however I probably left out the most important reason that my marriage was hard at the beginning and is still hard now, and that reason is because I Was and I Am Selfish. Let’s look back at those areas I mentioned that made my marriage hard: sharing space, communication, sex, money, and submission.

Sharing space, this sounds simple. This sounds almost silly in it being difficult, but in my marriage this was a big deal. I have one sister and she is six years older than me. I never had to share. Now my parents taught me to share but there is a huge difference between knowing how to share and having to share. When I moved in with Ted after we were married nothing was mine, everything was ours. In my selfishness it was hard to let go of the mine mentality.

There had to be a change in my heart. Christ gave us the ultimate idea of sacrifice. I had a relationship with God long before I got married, but that did not mean that I understood that relationship. I knew Jesus had died for me but His sacrifice had not yet transformed me. Jesus’ sacrifice was selfless. I was selfish. One day in my quiet time I was complaining to God, as I have often done, about how I felt smothered by Ted. In that quiet time I was reading about Jesus’ death on the cross and I suddenly realized that Jesus had held nothing back. He hadn’t just been beaten, He hadn’t just been spit on, He hadn’t just been mocked, He hadn’t just been lied about, He hadn’t just been betrayed, and He hadn’t just been crucified. He had been all of those things and yet, He didn’t stop them. He was God and could have easily called for the Angel Armies to come to His rescue him. He instead had given himself over completely. In that moment my selfishness was like a punch in the face. Here I was complaining about having to share my space with my husband and God was just waiting for me to realize how selfish I was. God never yells at me, He just allows His word, to transform my heart and my mind.

See it wasn’t really about the space, it was about the condition of my heart, and it was about the selfishness. Do you know that once I realized I was selfish, and I didn’t want to continue to be selfish, sharing space no longer bothered me. I am not saying I never want time alone, but the fact that I share space with my husband has made me glad, because it reminds me that we are partners and our space together is valuable. Love: “It is not irritable”

During the I Was conversation I said communication was awful. This was true and sometimes I can fall back into a rut and when I do I find that I began to again want my way and am not willing to let go of my needs, wants and desires.

In my early marriage I didn’t communicate well with my husband. I got frustrated if he didn’t listen to me, or if I didn’t think he was listening to me. However, the truth was that he listened, but if he didn’t do exactly what I wanted I felt as though I was not loved. Do you hear the selfish refrain again? If he didn’t do what I wanted, I wasn’t loved. That isn’t love, is it?

Love is not looking at what someone else can or will do for you. I often wanted my way and Ted wanted his way. If it wasn’t my way it was bad. However, the truth is that my way is not always good and Ted’s way is not always good. So many of our fights have been out of one or both of us being selfish. They have been out of a lack of trust that we have the other person’s best interest at heart. And truly, especially at the beginning, we have not always had the other person’s best interest at heart. Poor communication is often the result of selfishness. When we are selfish we do not love.

Looking back over my communication in my marriage, in the moments when I am putting myself before Ted, I do not communicate well. I go back to that insecure little girl who just wants to be heard. Instead when I change my attitude and look beyond myself my husband and I communicate quite well. Love: “it does not demand its own way.”

Sex: a word that a lot of Christian people, especially women shrink back from. However, sex is not a bad word. As a matter of fact I would say it should be viewed as one of the most beautiful words in our language. Yet because of sin and the fall of man it has been turned into something TABOO. Growing up a Christian that word was really only whispered around me and when it was spoken it was done in such a way to make you feel guilty for even overhearing it, or it was followed by a peal of giggles by the teenage girls around you.

Sex in marriage is key here, sex outside of marriage is a sin. It is fornication or adultery and it is not what God has in mind. In marriage it is a blessing, outside of marriage it is a curse.

Do you know God has a purpose for sex? It is not just for procreation. Even though that is a part of the blessing of sex. Sex is supposed to be something that brings you and your spouse together. That intimacy is supposed to be such a wonderful thing that we ache for our spouse when we have not been together in a few days.

“The husband should fulfill his wife’s sexual needs, and the wife should fulfill her husband’s needs. The wife gives authority over her body to her husband, and the husband gives authority over his body to his wife. Do not deprive each other of sexual relations, unless you both agree to refrain from sexual intimacy for a limited time so you can give yourselves more completely to prayer. Afterward, you should come together again so that Satan won’t be able to tempt you because of your lack of self-control.” 1 Corinthians 7:3-5

I am preaching to the choir in this conversation because remember what I said in week one? Sex was difficult, but not just that, it was also painful for me for several years. I truly believe there were two reasons for this. The big one, I had huge hang ups about sex. I knew it was my “job” to please my husband but still felt as though sex was wrong, especially if I enjoyed it.

The other reason for me was an actual medical one, I had what is called in inverted uterus. I didn’t find this out until I was pregnant and I had a doctor ask me if sex was painful, when I said it was he said it was because of my inverted uterus and that it would actually improve with my pregnancy and it would probably not go back to being inverted afterwards. This was something they said could only be discovered during pregnancy.

The medical side of things could not be helped but my emotional and even spiritual hang ups about sex could. In this area I was always frustrated and angry. I even worried that my husband would leave me if I couldn’t figure out how to enjoy and even desire sex. Over time through surrender to God, and through prayer I began to relax, I began to see the blessing of sex and came to find that it wasn’t just enjoyment for my husband. Even before I got pregnant I was able to find positions that helped me not be in pain and we began to find passion I thought we never would. Love: “endures through every circumstance.”

Money, Money, Money, it seems like all things revolve around money. Food, Clothes, Home, Electricity, Water, etc… the list goes on and on. Money is one of the hardest hurdles in marriage. First if communication I poor then there is no real way we can deal with money. Money management for us was fairly awful. We were broke, we were in debt, and yet we had to live.

About 6 years into our marriage someone paid for us to go to a class Financial Peace University. Our situation seemed hopeless. We were drowning in debt, our jobs were not paying well. In fact we both worked multiple jobs to keep us afloat. We didn’t think we would be able to make it. FPU came along side us and suddenly we could see the light of day. I truly believe that God used the group we joined and the class of FPU to transform our marriage and our view on money. We aren’t done with our financial journey but we have found hope. Love: “is always hopeful.”

Finally Submission: This is so hard. Submission is something I have warred with myself about from day one. It was impossible. I was incredibly selfish and I really thought that submission would meant I could not be me anymore. That I could never have my own thoughts, my own desires, or my own way. However that is not at all what submission is.

Submission is letting go of your own will. That is the very thing that we do when we get saved. We give up the idea that we can get ourselves into heaven by our own good deeds and we realize the only way into heaven is through Jesus’ sacrifice. When we lay our will down and say God I accept you and your son’s sacrifice we are submitting to Him.

Submission to our husbands is different, however, but not by much. God placed our husbands as the head of the household.

“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. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.” Ephesians 5:23

What does this mean? As I have prayed, read my bible, and sought the Lord on this issue and I have done so a lot, I did this searching because I knew I needed to submit even if I didn’t like the idea or feel like doing so. What I found is that when God placed the Husbands as the head of the household He gave them not just the title but also the responsibility of that title. As a result the husband will answer for his own decisions for his life as well as the decisions made by and for his family. Now if I make a decision for myself I answer for that decision, but if I fight and argue to get my way for a decision in our family ultimately Ted answers for that decision made, not me. Now I will answer for my behaviors and actions, but Ted is ultimately responsible for our family and the actions we take. Now because God instructs them, our husbands, to loves us as Christ loves the church they will take our opinions, concerns and feelings into consideration in the decision process.

In my marriage most of our decisions are made together, however when we come to a big decision or even an impasse I will give my opinion and then take a step back and allow Ted to make the final decision. This is hard, really hard, but it is amazing how much more at peace I feel when I submit to my husband and allow him to lead. Love: “it is not proud.”

Love Is A Lot of Things, but Love is not a feeling. Feelings will fail you, feelings will lie to you and feelings will change. Jesus is the perfect example of love. He gave it all. He was selfless. Love is Selflessness.

Love Never Gives Up and neither should you.

Now Go In God Knowing That He Is Enough for You

Love,

Laura

Strong, Stubborn, and Submissive Wife

At our wedding rehearsal dinner, my Auntie Bellie (that’s her nickname), Ben, and I, were sitting at a table chatting about the excitement of getting married. She asked Ben, “How do you feel now that you are soon to be married to this strong woman?”

He exclaims, “I’m excited! I love that she is a strong woman!”

My aunt clarifies, “No, no, no. I mean strong in the sense that she’s incredibly stubborn.”

I cannot remember how the conversation went after that, I am sure it involved a few laughs and chuckles from all parties. But, whether Ben realized it or not on that day before our wedding, he was about to marry a very strong and stubborn woman.

I knew today’s “I Am” blog post was going to be on submission and I love that Laura touched on it last week. But knowing this, led me to procrastinate writing on this topic. I am actually just finishing this up a few hours before I am to post it.

The question we are attempting to answer today is this, “How does a strong and stubborn woman submit to her husband?” I am speaking as a strong and stubborn woman who has floundered and not necessarily mastered the art of submission. While I have shown great improvement in this area, I have a strong feeling this will be a marital quality that will require constant prayer, Holy Spirit guidance, and evaluation.

Let us start with an example of what Biblical submission is not. We often hear this quote from Maria Portokalos in the original My Big Fat Greek Wedding movie. She says, "Ah, the man is the head of the house! Let me tell you something, Toula. The man is the head, but the woman is the neck. And she can turn the head any way she wants.” I still get a crack out of it because it is funny and creative. But, it is not a healthy representation of a Biblical marriage.

“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. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.” Ephesians 5:23 (NIV)

Do you know who exemplifies this concept well? My dogs. We have two dogs, a male and a female Boston Terrier. Nani (pronounced Nah-nee), our female, is bigger, faster, and stronger than our male, Louie. But, when I walk them, Louie, despite his size, always takes the lead. Nani could easily pull him around wherever she wants to go, but instead Louie decides, and she follows his lead.

So, while I may be a strong, stubborn, and opinionated woman, it does not mean I can use this strength to be a bully in our marriage. While, Ben is the head of the household, it does not mean I am to undermine his positional authority by controlling him. The issue with the word, “submission,” is that we back-read our cultural worldview into it. Our cultural definition has imprinted this idea of weakness and slavery into the word, “submit.” So, by the world’s standards, this idea of submission is archaic and irrelevant in today’s society. But, God’s Word is living and active. God’s commands back then, are just as applicable now. While movies, such as the quote above, egg on this idea of mischievously controlling your husband, we as Christians abide by a different principle.

God made me a strong and stubborn woman. Instead of using this strength irresponsibly, I have chosen and will daily choose to submit to my husband, Ben. I would argue that strong, stubborn women, in fact, make great wives. Why? Because when a strong, stubborn woman puts her mind to doing something, like mastering the art of submission, she will be unstoppable.

So, join me, you strong and stubborn wives out there, and let us choose to be stubborn about submission.

P.S. Honestly, I have so many more thoughts on this topic. I had a couple other points and Bible verses I wanted to explore. But since I know you are busy, I wanted to keep this short and sweet. As a result, I will be including the information that did not make it here in our podcast once our series concludes. So, stay tuned.

Now Go in God Knowing He is Enough for You!

With Love, Megan

I Will Be My Lover’s – Till Death

Thirteen years, wow thirteen years. They have flown by, they have eked past. I say they have flown by because there are days that I feel as though we just got married yesterday. I say it has eked past because there have been seasons of our marriage that I have felt lasted ages. This being said, I know that thirteen years is nothing, especially in the light of eternity.

On August 6th, 2005 Ted and I made a vow, “until death.” This is a vow that neither of us take lightly. Death could be 50 years plus from now or could come tomorrow. We cannot know when, but it is the one sure thing in life, we will all die. Our covenant is until death, and only that will part us. Life and marriage has troubles and trials, we are not promised freedom from trouble, instead we were given Jesus.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

Jesus overcame the world, He has overcome these things and in this light, I look at my marriage for the years to come. In Part One and Part Two of this series I have shared the hard parts of my marriage: sharing space, communication, sex, money, and submission. I now want to place these topics under the scrutiny of until death and eternity.

Sharing space is first, and as I have said before this was a selfish concern. This is so trivial when you think that I will be spending the rest of my life with Ted. I know that if he were to die tomorrow I would desperately miss Ted, and him being in my space. I cannot even sleep when he is on a business trip. My space is something so trivial in the light of our life together that I wonder at the fact that this has ever been an issue for me.

Communication will continue to be something important and will always need to be at the forefront of my marriage. However, I have found my marriage is improved by communication and that even when we disagree we grow and become better. Why? Because iron sharpens iron.

As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” Proverbs 27:17

Ted and I will disagree, we will fight, but the things that truly matter win out in the end. Ted sharpens me and makes me better and I sharpen him. My opinions and feelings are not nearly as important as my husband and my marriage. Also, when I think about eternity and the fact that my end goal is to be with Christ in heaven, it makes me see that the things I used to fight for are trivial and worthless. I believe that unless something effects my family’s and my eternal destination I am better off laying down my will.

Sex. The best part of intimacy is the fact that it is a gift from God to my marriage. I read an article the other day about sex in marriage and how God designed it to be good and “soul knitting intimacy that deepens with time.” This rang true in my mind. Too often for me sex was a means to an end. Meaning it was a chore that I could check of the list. Now sex is this amazing thing, though it may be on a list of things to do, I do not check it off as though it is a duty. Instead I look forward to it as an incredibly enjoyable part of my day. My view went from sex is something that I do to please my husband, it is my job, to something that we get to delight in together. Sex will not always be perfect and there will be seasons that we may not enjoy sex in the same way. However, it will continue to be the best way for my husband and I to be one, and to enjoy the gift God has given us in each other.

When I think about money I can feel overwhelmed and as though it is the never-ending hill. The truth is though, money is not an obstacle to be fought against. Instead it is something to be managed. Ted and I have found through training, communication and trust that our money is managed and does not manage us. In the light of our struggles and a desire to please God and help future generations, we take our knowledge about money and healthy management to teach others. This comes in the form of mentoring young couples, Ted leading Generation Change, and being an occasional coordinator of FPU. These things are ways that we are allowing God to use us to impact future generations and show them how their lives and marriages can be better.

Finally, submission, this is still probably the hardest part for me. Submission must start in my relationship with God.

“Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.” James” 4:7-10

I have found that unless I am surrendered to God the submission to my husband just feels like slavery. If I will instead submit to God, and flee from the message that says submission is for the weak, as Megan shared last week, I will find that He does lift me up. It is not that submission is suddenly easy, but my focus has changed from me to God, and therefore everything is shown to me in a different light. One day I will die, I will stand before God and will have to account for my obedience and disobedience. I will account for my submission to Him as well as to my husband. If I will continue to surrender to God I will be able to stand firm on that day. See in the light of the until death promise and eternity I would rather rest under the covering of my husband and God’s promise that He will lift me up.

Death will come, and eternity will follow, in this light I aim to walk out my marriage in such a way that it will honor God and exemplify His plan for marriage. I made a covenant with God, Ted and the Body of Christ that I would love and cherish my husband, for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part. I Will be My Lover’s until death.

I hope this will encourage you in your marriages.

Now go in God knowing that He is Enough for you.

Love,

Laura

Saturday Morning Date

We started the first two years of our marriage living off one Senior Airman paycheck while I finished up my bachelor’s degree. That is how we ended up at McDonald’s for our weekly Saturday morning date.

At eight in the morning, we were easily the youngest customers by a few decades. But we are old souls in young bodies, so we enjoyed the quietness of the McDonald’s café down the street. I would always get an egg white delight with a small coffee, just under five dollars. Ben would generally add some variety to his order each time.

While in pre-martial counseling, we held tightly to what our pastor and his wife advised, “Choose your ruts wisely. It is easy to get into a marriage rut, so might as well make it a good rut.” So, out of a lack of date night money and a desire to reconnect after a tough week, the Saturday morning rut came about and still continues until this day.

Now, with the business of life, this Saturday morning date takes on different forms. But the ultimate purpose is for us to set aside intentional time to reconnect on the weekend. Through the chaos of a week, we both enjoy holding onto the idea of our Saturday morning date. It is reassuring to know that phones get put on silent and we have an opportunity to process the highs and lows of the week together. Other times, we put the week aside and choose to dream about our future together. We dream about what our little ones will be like one day, where we want to settle down after the military, and what kind of ministry we want to do together.

One thing Ben says is that he is continually dating me. He says he wants to earn not just one but multiple Doctorates in Megan Johnson by the end of our lifetime. I love that and continually aim to do the same.

Looking at the future of our marriage, I can guarantee I will not know how to handle everything that comes my way. But in the midst of this uncertainty, I rest in the peace of the Holy Spirit. What is pretty neat about the Holy Spirit is that He is with me even when I do not have internet access or a marriage book nearby. Credible Christian-centered marriage websites, blogs, podcasts, and books are great tools, but they will never be a replacement for a Holy Spirit-led marriage. I have oftentimes found myself running to my computer for a quick answer versus letting the Holy Spirit guide my words and actions in our marriage.

“If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.” John 14:15-17 (NIV)

Thankfully, I have the Holy Spirit guiding me to be the godly wife I was called to be for Ben. While I may gracefully fail, trip, and stumble my way into this calling, it is reassuring that I am never alone. I will always be Ben’s Saturday morning date, we have that rut down. My prayer is that both Ben and I strive to stay in the rut of following the Holy Spirit’s lead.

Now Go in God Knowing He is Enough for You!

With Love, Megan