Friday, January 24, 2014

Summer Service: A Family Expierence

Summer missions trips are exciting for us youth workers and for our students. They are great times away together to bond and serve the Lord. But, missions trips can also mean a week of stress for families back home who are trying to run normally without the help of the youth worker spouse. Here are a handful of tips to keep in mind as you plan your summer service opportunities that will help keep both your youth group and your family happy about these experiences...

Friday, January 10, 2014

3 Reasons to be Real

Stories of transformation are powerful. There is something that happens when you hear an amazing account of someone turning his or her life around. These tales snare your emotions, renew your sense of hope, and deepen your faith in a God who is all about redeeming and transforming. This is why it is so important regularly share about the transformation that’s happened in your life—especially transformation in your relationships, marriage and family.

In all honesty, family life and marriage are two areas in life that need constant renovation. No one pushes your buttons the way that your spouse and kids do. We are our best, and worst, with the loved ones who experience life with us the most closely. To have good marriages and healthy relationships with our children we must act selflessly. This is incredibly hard to do, and requires the relentless transformation of our inner selves by Jesus Christ. With him, we are daily becoming better husbands, wives, and parents. It is therefore imperative that we are honest about our struggles, and triumphs, with those around us: youth group students, parishioners, other parents, friends, and so forth.

These people need to see the normal struggles we have, even though we are leaders, and they need to hear the ways we are being transformed on a regular basis for a few reasons:

To read them, click this link:

Monday, January 6, 2014

You're Awesome

Hi ya'll. So, I know it's been a while since I've posted. Life with two kids all of a sudden (holy cow!) and book deals and just general craziness has turned the world a bit upside down! But I love this blog and I love talking about marriage, so I'm just gonna dive right back in and hope my absence can be forgiven ;)

I want to talk today about self-worth. Through this blog, our marriage books, and the Marriage & Ministry retreats we've begun to lead, I've come to be known as an open book. My friends, family, acquaintances, readers and so forth have all come to understand over the years that Melissa is someone who can admit her faults. I think I've taken a smidge too much pride in this perhaps, and maybe too eagerly shared my faults and failings with others.

And here's why I'm saying this—over the past couple of months I've been having these sort-of out-of-body listening experiences where I realize that other people have decided it's okay to throw out all my faults and failings in daily conversations.

Now, I'm not saying we as human beings shouldn't be open and honest. We should. Honesty is necessary and life-giving. It creates community and shared experiences and empathy.

But too much talk about the negative aspects of ourselves can make a person feel really negative. Take it from me. I started to realize I was being picked apart far more than I was being put back together.

I'm not trying to point fingers or lay blame here. Instead, I'd like to focus instead on two things that happened after I noticed how much people talked about my failings as a human being. One, a dear friend asked about book writing since I'd had Nora. When I told him I had completed two books and was writing two more, he commented, "Wow, so you work harder under pressure. You actually produce more."

I can't even tell you how good that made me feel! Then I received an e-mail from another dear friend who went on and on about how she's enjoyed seeing me come into my own as an artist. That she can tell I've matured and committed to this story-writing thing and that I'm good at it. And just like that, all the negative comments I'd been getting (not in mean-spiritedness, but just in observation of my personality) lifted.

Through all of this, I've realized how very important it is to use our honesty and truth-telling to build each other up. It can be so very easy to pick one another apart, even if you don't really mean to do so. Words are powerful and we need to use them in our marriages and relationships to create positive self-images in our spouses and loved ones.

My love language is not "words of affirmation", but I still need to hear from others all the good things they see in me—my positive character traits. We all need this!

So, I'd challenge you this week to see how you can build up your spouse (and those around you). Point out the unique and awesome qualities they have and how you've seen them be a truly cool person. This will make their day, I promise!

Friday, January 3, 2014

The Marriage Triange

Most of us know that Jesus should be a central part of our marriage.

We talk to our students about Christ-centered relationships using the image to the right; explaining that as a couple maintains their focus on God and moves closer to Him, they will also move closer to one another. But what does that really mean? How does that look in the daily grind of a marriage with all its ups, downs, joys,
struggles, and mediocre moments?

Obviously, none of us will ever measure up to the ideal. God should be first in our hearts and our minds every moment. If this were happening, it would be easier to love our spouses. The love would flow from Christ, and we’d have a wellspring of compassion, forgiveness, patience, and forbearance. We don’t know for sure, but our guess is that you’re just like us—you try real hard, but sin and life just keep getting in the way! This is normal and okay.

A true Jesus-centered marriage is one where both spouses strive to keep Christ as the focus—strive being the key word here. What does striving mean in a practical sense?

To find out, head to:
Our goal of this blog is to share stories (both good and bad), thoughts and insights about our marriage and we would love for you to jump into the conversation.

The goal is to provide three things:
1) HOPE for struggling couples that they are not alone.
2) GROWTH in our marriages and our understanding of marriage.
3) ENCOURAGEMENT to keep loving your spouse unconditionally.