The Truth About Marriage

Standing at the altar, you have no idea what lies ahead. Oh, you’ve heard stories. And countless people–like everyone in your church, neighborhood, on the job, and at your local grocery–have bombarded you with advice: marriage takes work. Always be ready to forgive. Learn to eat burned food (kinda wish someone would’ve told my hubby that one. *sheepish grin*). The list goes on.

But then life happens, and this love thing becomes harder than you’ve ever anticipated.

Ane-PR.headshot copyToday a sweet friend and very talented and giving author, Ane Mulligan, shares her thoughts on this thing called marriage, AND she’s got a hugely fun give-away going to help celebrate her debut, Chapel Springs Revival, which I hear is HILARIOUS! (Details below)

 

But first, I wanted to share a fun video created by one of my favorite preachers, Francis Chan. Enjoy:

On Marriage by Ane Mulligan

Twenty years ago or so, I heard two young women in a church hallway complaining about their husbands. Let’s face it; we all joke about men coming from Mars and women from Venus, but that’s not what they were doing. They were stirring the water in a bitter well.

Another Sunday, I overheard another conversation (yes, I’m a writer and we tend to eavesdrop). It went something like this:

“I just learned that God has the perfect mate all picked out for each of us, and we’re supposed to pray to find that person.”

“Sure, so?”

“I didn’t do that! I didn’t know. So, that must mean Sam* isn’t the one God wants me married to.”

Uh-oh. The conversation went downhill from there to include the word “divorce.” I later pulled her aside for a “Titus 2:4” moment.

If a woman wasn’t a Christian before she married, God still knew her. He knew his plans for her. Jer 29:11. Her husband is His will for her.

I’m not talking about women in abusive marriages. That’s totally different.

The thing so many young women forget is marriage isn’t what the movies or secular romance novels show. Marriage is a contract. A commitment. For better or worse, the vows say. WhenID-10094774 we make this commitment, God expects us to stay committed to our marriage.

That takes making a purposeful decision to not dwell on our husbands’ faults. Oh, I know they have them; but so do we. Years ago, I found myself focusing on my husband’s faults. Jesus said we can’t get bitter and sweet water from the same well. When we start down that path, we lose sight of their good qualities.

Things went from bad to worse. Finally I got tired of trying to change my husband. I was out of love. There wasn’t a drop of sweet water left in the well. I knew what I’d been doing but I didn’t know how to fix it.

“Lord, I give up. I don’t know what you want, but from now on, I’m going to concentrate on You and me. Change me, Lord. I’ll leave my husband to You.”

I’m sure you can guess what happened. God changed me, but at the same time, my husband changed. I began to see his wonderful qualities and all the things he did for me. The well water became sweet again.

That’s when I realized if we don’t workout our love, it becomes like a muscle that hasn’t seen the inside of a gym in years—flabby. And stale. And atrophied.

Yes, love is a decision that demands commitment and work. But what a sweet ride it can be. Guard you love, your hearts, and your marriages.

CSR COVER copyChapel Springs Revival

Buy it here!

With a friend like Claire, you need a gurney, a mop, and a guardian angel.

Everybody in the small town of Chapel Springs, Georgia, knows best friends Claire and Patsy. It’s impossible not to, what with Claire’s zany antics and Patsy’s self-appointed mission to keep her friend out of trouble. And trouble abounds. Chapel Springs has grown dilapidated and the tourist trade has slackened. With their livelihoods threatened, they join forces to revitalize the town. No one could have guessed the real issue needing restoration is personal.

With their marriages in as much disarray as the town, Claire and Patsy embark on a mission of mishaps and miscommunication, determined to restore warmth to Chapel Springs —and their lives. That is if they can convince their husbands and the town council, led by two curmudgeons who would prefer to see Chapel Springs left in the fifties and closed to traffic.

GIVE-AWAY DETAILS: Leave it to the crazy, hilarious, and insanely creative (or just insane? 😉 ) Ane Mulligan to come up with perhaps the funnest give-away EVER!

Today’s stops and there’s 4! Good luck.
Here! (As a fun aside, I’m on her blog today, too. Which I find incredibly cool because Ane has been a huge influence in my writing career. She ran the ACFW Scribes class when I first joined ACFW and taught me to use strong, vivid verbs. She taught me to name–be specific about sensory details (saying she smelled the faint scent of lilacs rather than flowers to trigger a deeper response in my reader), and I could go on. And on. And on, as could every other ACFW member, I’m sure!

She will also be on:
3 Men Walk Into a Blog
Jude Urbanski
Jo Huddleston

1. Each day you leave a comment on this blog during September, your name goes into the drawing.

2. Leave a comment on each of the blogs I’m on that day, and each one will earn you another name in the drawing. (For instance, if I’m on 3 blogs that day, and you leave a comment on each of them, you’ll get your name into the drawing 3 more times.)

3. If you post on your Facebook page that you have commented on a blog I’m on, tag me, and give the link, you get your name in two (2) extra times.

4. Tweet and tag me, giving the link, and your name goes in another time.

5. Google+ the same as #3, and you’ll get our name in two (2) extra times.

Today’s BONUS entries:
What do I believe about coffee?
What does Jennifer write?
Who are the 3 men in that blog linked to above?

As an aside, I’ve been told readers have had a tough time leaving comments. If you find this to be the case, please shoot me an email at jenniferaslattery@gmail.com and I’ll manually enter your comment.

LivingbyGracepicLet’s talk about this!

Are you married? If so, what has been the biggest surprise in terms of sticking it out? Have you ever come close to calling it quits? What helped you persevere? How can we as parents help prepare our kids to work toward lifelong commitment once they get married?

Perhaps you’re divorced. Looking back over your marriage, can you see things you wished you’d done differently? Share your thoughts here in the comments below or at Living by Grace on Facebook.

My debut novel, Beyond I Do, addresses a bit of what we’re talking about today. As Ainsley Meadows’ wedding day draws near, nigglings of doubt begin to arise, leaving her unsettled. As she prays about this, she realizes something huge has been missing in her wedding plans–prayer itself! She was so swept away by the flowers and romance, she failed to take time to seek God’s guidance. These doubts grow to gut-knotting confusion when an encounter with a woman, her child, and their abuser sparks within her a passion and ignites a long-hidden dream, one that threatens to change EVERYTHING! Read more here. You can buy it here! (or get an autographed copy at Takin’ it to the Streets’ Hope for the Homeless event.)

Other posts and articles you might enjoy:

My Marriage Before and After

Monkfish and Marriage

AND, where I’ve been this week:

Don’t Be Discouraged or Afraid

5 Tips for Stronger Writing

5 Things Your Pastor’s Wife Needs From You

 

 

 

 

Seeing Rainbows Not Rain

There are times when I’m blown away by the love and grace of believers, then there are other times, well… I suppose I must remind myself that we are all a work in progress with a bit of Adam lingering. And I must also remind myself that there are times, way more than I’d like to admit, when my words and actions reflect anything but grace.

And when they do, when I’m tempted to see the rain instead of the beautiful rainbow God stretches against the sky, may I remember this poem, rainbowposted over an email loop by a sweet friend and sister in Christ, Ane Mulligan. (Most of you probably know her for her roll-on-the-floor-laugh-out-loud humor, but I suspect even amidst your giggles you’ve caught a glimpse of her Christ-infused heart.)

As you read her poem, I encourage you to see yourself in it. And the next time you’re tempted to quibble over paint, or procedure changes, or music styles, or any of the other majorly important detail sin life (eye roll) remember this poem, this steeple, and the God who sees it all.

Paint on the Wall By Matt Tullos (C) Matt Tullos

There was a church upon a hill,

Where everything was fine until

The paint inside was getting old

And peeling in some spots, I’m told.

622233_churchThe pastor called a business meeting

And after the preliminary greeting

The Deacons cried, Come one, come all.

What color should we paint the wall?

They gathered in the sanctuary

Each determined and contrary.

Sister Gayle said, What do you think

About a nice chartreuse pink?

Brother Dave said to the crowd,

Isn’t that a bit too loud?

I prefer a subtle blue,

It makes the walls look clean and new.

Six women rebuked, We want gold.

It seems much warmer, blue’s too cold!

I’m here more than all of you.

I agree with Brother Dave. Let’s paint the walls blue.

A man in the back began to bellow,

Yellow, yellow, yellow, yellow!!!!!

From that point on their voices grew stronger.

Each emotional plea became longer and longer.

Then strongly and sternly, a VOICE of great love,

Silenced the church as it spoke from above.

You wonder why you can’t hear My call

When your greatest struggle is paint on the wall.

Paint your church the pale color of skin

For you let no other races come in.

Paint your church a wealthy green,

For you ignore the starvation you’ve seen.

Paint it white and clean as uncalloused feet,

For you refuse to share My joy in the street.

I agree your church could be painted blue,

For your hearts so cold are given to few.

You give many renditions of church as a game

But you fail to water in My holy name.

You pray using eloquent ‘Thees and Thous’,

And yet you forget about the ‘heres and nows’

You struggle to be an earthly saint,

But My love must not be covered in paint.

The Hardest Ones to Forgive by Ane Mulligan

Although I don’t believe in denying or suppressing emotions, I do believe in approaching them with caution and balance. There are times when our reasoning must over-ride our emotional response. This is often the case with forgiveness. Most often, I believe the determined choice to forgive comes first. The emotions follow as God aligns our emotions to match our choice. Today Ane Mulligan shares how this proved true in her life.

*     *     *

The Hardest Ones to Forgive by Ane Mulligan

Sometimes, the hardest person to forgive is the one we love the most. We expect better from them. I can’t even remember what the argument was about, now, or what he said that hurt my feelings.

But I definitely remember the feelings. You know the “poor me” ones. Why is it wallowing in self-pity feels so good? I stood at the kitchen sink, long after he’d gone to work, washing the same cup over and over again and crying.

Of course, y’all know that’s exactly when the Holy Spirit decided this was an excellent time for an attitude adjustment. Well, I couldn’t agree more. The hubs certainly needed one!

Oh … You meant me? ME?

 

I argued with the Lord for a while. I mean really. After what I’d been subjected to, I needed some more wallow time. Finally I said, “Okay, Lord. Take these feelings from me. I forgive him.”

I dunked the cup back in the water, splashing soap bubbles up in my face. As quickly as I’d handed over my feelings to God, I snatched them back. “But he was so mean.”

Disclaimer here: the hubs was not mean. It was a clear case of I was right and he was wrong and refused to admit it—wink.

This tug-of-war with my self-pity went on for another 20 minutes. Finally, I gave up and gave into God. I let Him take my feelings and work on me. He could work on the hubs later.

I dried the cup and put it away. Then I tried to tap into my feelings again, but the Lord had done what He promised. They were gone. There wasn’t one iota of self-pity left. I’d truly forgiven.

What a freeing feeling. I had to laugh. I could hear the Lord chuckling at me and laughter is so contagious.

Hmm … I may try that next time.

Ane Mulligan writes Southern-fried fiction served with a tall, sweet iced tea. While a large, floppy straw hat is her favorite, she’s worn many different ones: hairdresser, legislative affairs director (that’s a fancy name for a lobbyist), business manager, drama director and writer—her lifetime experience provides a plethora of fodder for fiction (try saying that three times fast). She’s editor of the popular literary blog Novel Journey—one of Writers Digest’s 101 Top Websites for Writers, a humor columnist for ACFW’s e-zine Afictionado, and a past Board member of ACFW. She’s published dozens of plays and numerous articles and won several awards in contests for unpublished novels. A mom and grandmother, she resides in Suwanee, GA, with her husband and one very large dog.

You can find her at:
Her personal website Southern-fried Fiction
Come back tomorrow as we discuss how to handle perpetual wounds. What do you do when the one you’re trying to forgive continues to hurt you?