Monday, November 12, 2018

Pray!

We talk a lot about different things you can do to improve your marriage, like communicating, developing good financial practices, and prioritizing marriage and family time. To tell you the truth though, none of those can be as powerful a force in your marriage as prayer. There is just no substitute. I want to address a few areas of prayer for you marriage today.

First, pray with your spouse. This sounds simple, but very few people make it a point to do this outside of praying for meals and true emergencies. I was inspired by one of my good friends and brother in Christ a few years ago who makes it a point to pray with his wife and kids every night before bed. At first it was awkward for him. He didn’t feel that he was “good” at it, but in reality, his family respected him immensely for it. I also didn’t feel that I was that good at it. I’m not great at using all the “Christianese” expressions in my prayers, but God hears them. I know He does. I see the results.

Next, pray for your spouse. Make this a priority in your life. You love this person more than anyone else on the planet. Pray for them! Pray they have a good day. Pray for protection. Pray for health. Pray for the things that you know need to change. There is no better way to see change in someone’s life than to pray for it. You don’t have to be eloquent. Just be fervent.

Lastly, and this is not repetitive: Pray for your marriage. God knows your marriage better than either of you. He knows what is needed to change it in a great way. Pray for that and believe it will happen. He will work miracles!

So, in case you haven’t gotten the message here, prayer is an important pillar of your marriage. I told Laura that would be a short blog because I could really sum it up in one sentence: Prayer will change your marriage. Period.


~Howell
@G2WHubs

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

When it doesn't feel okay...


I have had this quote running through my head for weeks: “Everything will be okay in the end. If it’s not okay, it’s not the end.” 



If it’s not okay, IT’S NOT THE END.

I am a sucker for happy endings. I like it when the guy and girl get together. When the family is reunited. When the team wins. When the hero succeeds and the enemy is defeated.

I love it all.

Sometimes the sad ending is the realistic one—but I’ve been thinking lately, even if it’s sad, it’s not over; it’s not the end. There’s tomorrow, there’s next year, there’s another season, another chance. Even in the face of death, there’s life for those who remain.

Isn’t that the truth of God’s redemptive story for us?

We have hope—always—because it’s not the end. And when it is the end, it’s going to be good, victorious, glorious.

That’s why His hope never disappoints (Rom 5:8), why it is an anchor for our soul (Heb. 6:19)—both sure and steadfast.

The other day, I feel like the Lord reminded me that anyone who is destined for greatness must have a good story. And any good story requires an obstacle, a conflict, an unfulfilled dream.

Maybe you need to hear that today. You’re destined for greatness in God’s kingdom—and He’s writing a good story in your life.

How can we be sure?

Because God’s word is true, and He’s promised His plans for us are good—to give us a hope and a future (Jer. 29:11).

What’s your obstacle right now? Whatever it is, it’s not permanent. 

Take heart, my friend, if you’re struggling today. It’s only for a season, a chapter, a section, a volume—but it’s not forever, and it’s not the end.


Monday, October 29, 2018

Marriage Is Like a...


I have a porcelain tea bag holder shaped as a teapot with a flower inside it that sits next to my kitchen sink to hold my rings when I’m cooking. A friend bought it for me in England because she knew how fondly I remember my semester abroad in London. Although the little teapot shattered once, I glued each piece back together with great care, and I like the imperfection of it so much that it still sits in its same place.



Last week, I was doing dishes and thinking about what to write for this blog post, and I felt like the Lord told me that my porcelain teapot could be a metaphor for marriages.

Everyone’s marriage faces a chip or two over the years. Some end up with entire cracks and separation. Some get glued back together with care, restored completely.

I fully believe every marriage faces a moment, at least one, when both people are confronted with the decision—stay and fight for their marriage or give up. It may be a dramatic standoff, or it may be after years of passivity where the relationship has lost priority, and both people are just biding their time.

For Howell and me, our first year of marriage wasn’t the toughest. It was years two and three. I remember after one particular fight, I felt deceived and defeated. We seemed to be in the same pattern, and I couldn’t do it anymore. I was truly on the brink of giving up. We were young. We didn’t have any kids. Why stay?

The next morning, I saw a man whose red and puffy eyes matched my own, and I’ve never questioned our marriage since then—no matter what we have faced.

God was gracious to us in that season. We learned a lot about ourselves and each other and most of all about who God is and what He can do in our hearts.

He became the super glue that mended those broken places until they were stronger than ever before.

What about you, friends? Can you remember a time in your marriage that felt like a line in the sand? What compelled you to stay and fight?

Maybe you’re feeling cracked and broken even now, and super glue doesn’t feel possible. I can promise you, it’s worth the process to let God mend your marriage. It’s a supernatural feat only He can accomplish in us—if we’re willing.

Ask for help. Seek wise counsel. See a counselor. Whatever you need to do—but don’t stop fighting or your marriage.

Monday, October 22, 2018

A Heart of Sacrifice

Last weekend I spoke at a breakout session at our church’s women’s event, and I wanted to share just a small part of my talk for this week’s post because God put this message on my heart—and I hope it’ll challenge you like it’s challenged me.

My message was about giving, and what I wanted to get at was the idea that giving is more about our heart than it is about money. Money is just the means, the tool that gets talked about the most. But a heart of giving is really tied to a heart of sacrifice.

Remember Abraham’s story—when God asked him to sacrifice Isaac?

The story is in Genesis 22 (read the whole chapter here). The summary version is God says, hey, Abraham, take your son, your only son whom you love, and offer him to me as a burnt offering. And Abraham rose early the next morning to do it. He didn’t wait. He didn’t delay. He just got up and went. And he doesn’t just go—he makes preparation for the offering.

I’m sure most of you have heard this story’s ending, right? God sees Abraham’s obedience, his willingness to sacrifice his son—his only son—and so God provides a ram instead.

Abraham calls this place Jehovah Jirah—which we translate as the Lord who provides. The literal meaning here is the Lord who sees to it. I love that. God sees to it that Abraham is provided for—but only AFTER he was willing to sacrifice what he valued. 



What do you value most in this life? Now imagine that God asked you to give it up, to give away the most precious thing in your life. And not just give it up, but literally sacrifice it on the altar.

Was your most valuable thing a person? Your children or your spouse?

I can’t even comprehend how hard it would be to sacrifice my husband. I literally can’t imagine my life without him. And we don’t have children, but like Abraham, we have promises from God. Abraham waited 25 years for his promised son. We’ve only waited 7, and it feels like a lifetime sometimes. What if God asked me to sacrifice my baby that I’ve waited seven, eight, ten years for?

Abraham didn’t question God. None of it makes sense. This is his promised son we’re talking about. But he didn’t argue. He keeps going—and trusting. 

We read this story already knowing the outcome, but HE DID NOT KNOW THE OUTCOME, y’all. He thought he was about to kill his son. And he was willing to do it because it was what God had asked him to do.

This story is all about Abraham’s willingness to give up something he loved and valued as an act of worship and obedience.

A heart of giving is more about surrender than anything else. And it’s not really surrender or sacrifice unless it hurts a little, unless it tugs at you—you know what I mean? Like ouch, that’s hard to give up.

But here’s the blessing when we do—remember God’s words to Abraham? He promised to bless him, to multiply his offspring, to give them the land of their enemies, to bless the nations through his children. That’s a pretty massive promise.

God has been dealing with me on this message—are there places in my life, areas of value that I hold back, dreams I haven’t given Him?

If he asked me to sacrifice my greatest desire, would I do be willing?

What about you, friends? Is there anything you are holding back? Anything closed fisted?

I pray we would open our heart, be generous, and be willing to say yes.


Monday, October 15, 2018

Important Moments

I’ve talked before about being present in your marriage, but it's on my mind right now. In the days of smartphones and Facebook, it can’t be emphasized enough. Our society is heading in a direction where quality time is just not a priority. I want to be specific in encouraging you to be present today. Be present in the moments that matter. Be present when it’s most important.




This week, I was spending some time with Laura when we had a long drive, but it seemed like everything was going wrong at work without me there. To be honest, I worked more than I had to. To be even more honest, I didn’t help solve the situation at work very much either. I just wasted an afternoon. This wasn’t one of those important-times-that-I’ll-remember-for-the-rest-of-my-life moments, but it got me to thinking about them.

As I’m writing this, we are at a family retreat for Laura’s family. It’s one of those times when we’ll make memories that actually do last a lifetime. We have nephews and grandparents and everything in between. I got to thinking about times in my life when I haven't been present for those moments. A phone call comes in or a work emergency presents itself. Has that happened to you?

Every day, there are moments with our spouse or family to cherish. These are times we’ll never get back, and we may never get to have again. Only God knows what tomorrow holds. Don’t be the absent dad, mom, husband, or wife that only got to see the video. There is no replacement for the best of memories. Be there for all the “remember that one time” that you can.

~Howell
@G2WHubs