Auntie Em's Guide to Life

A guide to all the important things in life- marriage, family, cooking, gardening, reading, travel, Christian living… And whatever else grabs my attention!

Got Hope?

Mr X and I are facilitating an “Art of Marriage” seminar at our church in a couple of weeks. (If you have opportunity to attend one, or the Weekend to Remember, do it!) A young couple told me today how much they needed to come, and the man got emotional; it seemed like he wanted to say more, but just ended up saying, “… we need this.” I tried to give him encouragement by saying EVERY marriage can be better than it is! And marriage is such hard work. Everything in our society fights against us, and it’s so counterintuitive… Put someone else’s needs ahead of my own? Give, when I feel like taking? Submit my will to his? Lay down my life for her? Dearies, the sooner we acknowledge that we are selfish, depraved sinners in need of a Savior, the better. And if you think you aren’t, read  Jeremiah 17:9 “The heart is deceitful above all things; who can understand it? It’s too sick to be cured.”  and reconsider. To be selfless goes against every fiber of our human flesh, yet it is what God requires of us, in relationship with Him as well as in our marriage relationship. The good news is that He equips us to do that with the help of the Holy Spirit and Scripture.

Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible. Matthew 19:26

Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Philippians 2:3

Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Ephesians 4:2

And of course, the “Love Chapter” of 1 Corinthians 13 which begins “Love is patient and kind…”

I had this revelation a while back and it made me feel better; maybe it will you too: When there are SO MANY verses telling you how to act, it must mean that it’s not easy to act that way. Notice there aren’t countless instructions telling us how to be mean and selfish! That just comes naturally. We have to CHOOSE to act in a godly way, but the rewards are great when we do.

But what about those marriages that have been hurt beyond the natural selfishness and carelessness that happens in all marriages? Ones where the love has grown cold? Where too many unkind words have been spoken? Where pornography or other adulteries have held a spouse captive? Where the marriage is dead?

Our God is in the resurrection business.

[God] will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; [He] will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations. Isaiah 61:4

Even if you think it’s been too long; it’s too far gone, He can renew marriages that have been devastated for generations.

I have seen what they do, but I will heal them anyway! I will lead them. I will comfort those who mourn… Isaiah 57:18.

You are not a surprise to God. Your sin is nothing new to Him. If we weren’t sinners, why would Jesus have had to die?

Instead of shame and dishonor, you will enjoy a double share of honor. You will possess a double portion of prosperity in your land, and everlasting joy will be yours. Isaiah 61:7

God doesn’t give us the bad that we deserve– that’s mercy. And then He gives us the good that we don’t deserve! That’s grace. Remember He’s the God of hope! (Romans 13:13)

There are lots of free online resources for hurting marriages. The Christian Marriage Bloggers Association, which I am proud to be a member of, is a great place to start. If you need prayer, there are lots of prayer warriors that read Auntie Em. If you need more practical advice, comment and I will keep it private if you want.

I mean it when I say– Auntie Em is here to help.

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Actually… It’s NOT All About You.

Who, me? MY attitude?

I’m joining Sheila, Darlene, Courtney, and Jennifer on Mondays in September to help us Revive our Marriages. Last week was “Pray for your husband.” Next week will be “Revive your friendship.”
But this week’s theme hits a little too close to home for comfort… it’s “Revive your attitude.”

When you live with someone year in and year out, they can really get on your nerves sometimes. Mr X has a tradition, following generations of men in his family apparently, of thinking that any horizontal surface is meant for storage. The top of the refrigerator? Perfect! His dresser? Even better. Bathroom cabinet? Good for every magazine in the subscription. You need one from 2005? Just dig down a bit. (I’m exaggerating, but not much.)

My philosophy, on the other hand, like the designer William Morris’s, is that nothing should be seen that is not beautiful or useful. (Now that’s my PHILOSOPHY, and it’s not necessarily my reality!) And his clutter used to DRIVE. ME. NUTS. But if I could get bent out of shape about his philosophy, then he might get out of sorts with me when I leave the clean laundry in the basket until I have no kitchen towels… or when I won’t go out to spray Roundup in August, so he has to weed-eat around all the trees and beds before he mows… or when I leave the cabinet doors and dishwasher open when I’m cooking.

Remember what Jesus said in the parable? Shouldn’t you forgive your fellow servant even as I have had mercy on you? (Matthew 18:33) Oh yeah. That.

Then there’s the reminder that “love covers a multitude of sins” in 1 Peter 4:8.

If you want to revive your marriage, start with the one thing you have complete control of: yourself. (Read here about examining yourself and figuring out your rules, his rules, and THE rules. You can compromise on yours and his.)

When I realize that I am not the perfect paragon of womanhood, it makes my husband’s clutter habit a lot easier to live with. When I remind myself why I love him- he is dependable, a hard worker, a loving father, affectionate with me, very handy with jobs in and around our home; he’s smart, a good money manager, a Christian, a church-goer and Bible-reader… then I realize that he’s got lots more in the positive column than the negative.

Then follow up with your actions: 1 Corinthians 13 is not called the “love chapter” for nothing!
Love is patient. When he procrastinates getting something done that you can’t do, remember the unfinished projects you have… and extend grace to him.

Love is kind. When you are irritated with him on the inside, DO something on the outside that is beyond what’s expected. Go a step further and be kind to him- fix his favorite dessert; wear his favorite nightgown; rub his feet. See what happens to his attitude and then to yours.

Love does not envy.  When he meets interesting people at work and you are home wiping bottoms and watching Barney, don’t resent him. (I’m speaking from experience here; you do need to talk to him about it and seek his help. But the problem there was MY situation, not his, and my resentful attitude hurt our relationship.)

Love does not boast and is not conceited. I have an “out front” gift of playing the piano, singing, and directing a choir; and it took a long time to get it in the right perspective. My musical gift can be enjoyed by lots of people, but it’s not really MY gift. I got it like I got blue eyes and dark hair. His lugging around sound equipment, videoing programs, and doing things behind the scenes are just as important. Don’t let your ego get in the way of appreciating what he does for you and your family!

Love does not act improperly. Ladies, please do not EVER speak disrespectfully of or to your husband. This could be a whole series by itself, but suffice it to say for now, that God knew what He was doing when he said, “Women, respect your husbands.”

Love does not insist on its own way. Mr X loves college football, and our local university recently formed a football program, so we have season tickets. This year I’m really making an effort to watch, ask questions, and be engaged in what’s going on. And it’s more fun that way!

Love is not touchy or resentful. Again, examine yourself. Try to avoid those situations which will make you “out of sorts” when you can. (I can’t do activities on Sunday afternoon. I have to have a nap. I don’t like it, but that’s the way it is!) Recognize when you feel grouchy, and tell him up front, letting him know that it’s not his fault.

Love doesn’t keep a record of wrongs. Here’s a big one. I love the passage where Paul talks about forgetting about the past, pressing onward. Forgetting about past hurts can be very difficult for women. But, just like choosing to focus on his good qualities rather than his faults, refusing to dwell on old heartaches is what you must do. When those memories try to pop up, engage your pop-up blocker (find a Scripture that addresses it) and say “NO. That’s over, forgiven, and in the past.”

Love rejoices in truth. Some discussions can be painful. Confronting issues and hurt feelings is never easy, but once it’s done, it’s like you have lanced an abscess and the healing can begin. Deal with your problems in a loving way.

Love bears all things. Even messy desktops.

Love believes all things and hopes all things. If he is late getting home, assume the best. If you’re having a disagreement, don’t twist his words to mean things he didn’t mean to say. Assume he’s speaking from a loving heart.

Love endures all things. Aren’t you glad that God didn’t throw up his hands over us and say, “Forget her! She’s not worth it!” I’m in my marriage for the long haul. How about you?

And just a little marital humor from Ben Franklin: Keep your eyes wide open before marriage, half-shut afterwards!

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