Marriage Study Week 4: Meekness

By definition, “meekness” is yielding your personal rights and expectations to God. This falls in the “easier said than done” category!

So many of our struggles come because we have plans, great plans, OUR plans, OUR ideas, OUR way of doing/accomplishing something.

Our marriage should be a living example of Christ’s relationship to the church. Scripture tells us “husbands love your wife just as Christ loved the church” In order to do that we must first examine what it means to live like Christ.  Luke 14 talks about the challenge of being a disciple of Christ. That we must “forsake all we have have” to follow him.  Here begins the great challenge of “meekness” or “yielding” our personal rights and expectations to God.

Somehow in our independent nature we start to think that we can handle this, that we know how to take care of this or that. God always does better. Sure you might be “capable”, but victory combined with peace, joy and freedom—that only comes from God!

So what do you need to “give up”? What is it that you are controlling? Is it your home. work, reputation, image, plans?  What expectations to you have of your life or even your day? Giving up your expectations and yielding your personal rights to God is challenging.

Let us share with you a little trick to make it easier.  Learn more about God and His word and less about the opinions of man. The more you learn His word, the more you learn about Him.  The more you learn about Him, the more you desire to be like Him.  The opposite is true as well—- the more you learn about man and latest and greatest things, well, the more you want to be like them.  This we have learned.

“Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord” (Isaiah 55:7–8).

This week talk together about what you need to yield.  What you may need to give up. As well, think on your own, “what do I need to give up that I hold against my spouse?” Sometimes, we are a stumbling block to those we love. Tell your spouse your thoughts and ask him/her for forgiveness.

Be careful!!! It is easy to think, “he needs to this or that”  or “she never does this, so how can I be expected…” 

Your obedience to God is NOT contingent on your spouses actions.  Your obedience is between YOU and GOD.  NO EXCUSES!

An Eruption of Joy

Anyone who has met our Joel knows that he is just a peach.  He is full of love, affection, contentment, and joy, but rarely do you get to converse with Joel.  His autism has nearly silenced him.  He likes to be quiet.  He is content that way, and rarely he will feel the need to speak.  Usually it is in “fight or flight” mode.  “Hey NO!” you hear him yell as the doctor is leaning in to give him a shot, but that is it.  On any other day, he speaks because we make him. We push, some days harder than others, because we know that it is in there- hiding- and we want to bring it out.

We have been working on building character in our children.  When we started our new homeschooling curriculum this past August, we wanted a way to encourage and motivate our children to want and hunger for more Godly character in their lives.  So we began what has now become “Purple Boxes”.

We made a list of the 49 different character qualities that our curriculum covers.  We listed them in alphabetical order with empty boxes next to each.  We brought out the sheets (one for each kid)nearly every night at dinner for what we called “character challenge”.  The “rules” were simple.  You were able to nominate anyone else in the house for a character trait, and then you were to explain why you nominated them.  You could not speak of yourself, only others.  Then mom or dad would color in a box next to that trait on your sheet – at the time we started doing it with a purple highlighter. Hence, “purple boxes”.

Some traits are easier to nominate than others.  It is easy to recognize when someone is showing gratitude, but challenging to give notice to someone showing deference or virtue. (We will attach a new link to our blog with the list and another list with definitions mentioned in this article).  Over the months it has been wonderful to see how each child excelled in different places.  Their siblings would get so excited when they got another purple box and that character trait was running out of space.  They began to want for their siblings to “run off the page” with purple boxes.

So for the past 8 months we have done “Purple Boxes” nearly every night.  We stopped for a short while around New Years and kids formed a coup and voted the return of purple boxes!!!

During this time, like most of the day, Joel is quiet.  He does not initiate conversation unless we are eating spaghetti and he wants more.  We know that he listens to us and that he understands, so we keep plugging along.  He is always included and is commonly nominated for joyfulness or contentment or obedience.

Last night was different. After 8 months Joel INITIATED a nomination!!!!!!!!!!!  At first we weren’t sure what he was trying to communicate. He was frustrated and put his hands over his eyes.  “Joel” mom asked, “Do you want more spaghetti?” Silence. This is Joel’s “no”- silence.  He repeats or echoes you if it is a “yes”. “Ok, Joel, do you want to tell us something?” He pointed to Daddy. “Do you want to tell Daddy something?” “Daddy” Joel said. Ok- now we are getting somewhere.  “Do you want to tell Daddy something about Jamie?” “Mayme” he said. (we were currently in the process of nominations for Jamie on Purple Boxes) “OH, you want to tell Daddy something about Jamie today. Do you want to tell him about her work?” silence –meanwhile I am raking my brain for the things Jamie did all day that Joel may have witnessed.Then it dawned on me that Jamie had received extra coloring pages for good work today. “Oh, do you want to tell Daddy about Jamie coloring?”  “color” he replied.  “Yes! Jamie did get extra coloring pages today for doing good work on her ABC’s.  Do you want to nominate her for her good work?”  “good job” he says.  Jamie is BEAMING with joy for such a gift from Joel!

Then, there is more.  The table started to rejoice for Joel and he didn’t want it.  He covered his eyes again. “Joel do you want to say more?”   “more” he said. “Do you want to say more to Jamie?”  “mayme” he said.  “OK, do you want to tell about Jamie practicing?” silence “DO you want to tell about Jamie playing?” “play” he uttered.  “Ok, you would like to tell about Jamie playing. Did she play nicely with you?”   “me, ya” he said with a nod.  “So would you like to nominate Jamie for kindness for playing with you?”  “Ya, good job” he stated matter of factly.

The table ROARED and ERUPTED with applause!!!!!!!!!!!!  Joel we want to nominate you for Initiative, sincerity, and kindness.  Good Job Joel!!!!! Thank you for telling us!

Wow- we were all stunned, utter shock was still in the eyes of the whole table! ….8 months, day in and day out, 8 months, and last night he spoke, he initiated, he nominated, he gave his sister a HUGE gift.

Autism is a bewilderment most days.  You would just love to work you way into their thoughts.  What is he thinking?  Press on parents! Continue to encourage your children and fight for what you KNOW is inside their hearts even if they don’t show it.  8 months- that is nearly 240 days…..

Be encouraged parents. Be faithful in leading your children. It may take 240 times before you get a response, hopefully less, but OH will it be worth it!!!

We will NEVER forget last night. Never.

It is our prayer that you are encouraged by this testimony of Joel. That you continue on- day in and day.  For one day, you will reap a harvest, and it will be a sweet reward!

Press on parents! Press on!

Marriage Study Week 2 & Week 3- Fear

Week 2- Fear

We all have fears. Sometimes they are little fears and sometimes they are huge and overpowering. From fear of rejection, other’s opinions, failure, judgment, fear of loss, or fear of inadequacy. Fears are very real and we all have them. The big fears you tend to tackle, or try to, because they are so obvious. Over the years we have found that the little fears seem to linger around a little too long in your marriage life.  They creep their way into different situations.  We didn’t invite them to toy around with our marriage, our children, our life, but somehow they are still hanging around.  You see, you don’t have to invite them- they come on their own, but you DO have to ask them to leave or they will stay forever!

So this week’s challenge is to list our all of your fears- yes all.  List them with space in between.  Then go back, grab your Bible and get down to business!

Advise from man will only last so long, but God’s Word is alive and eternal! Start looking up all those fears and write down the answers you find. Don’t just read them- write them down, so it stares back at you! What does God’s Word have to say about it. 

In Galatians, Paul says, “It is for freedom that you have been set free!”  We can just picture Paul shaking his head at the Galatians- Hello people!!!! Did you hear me—it is for FREEDOM that you have been set free!!!!!  So get down to the business of living a life of freedom!!!!

 

Week 3- Fear Continued

So now you have two lists. One from week 1 with all of your “laundry” and the reasons why God is allowing you to go through them.  The other from week 2 listing all your fears and God’s Truth about them.

This week is short, just two questions:

What do the two lists have to do with each other?  How do these lists affect your faith and marriage?

Lots of thinking and praying to do………

Day 91

I can’t believe that 91 Days have come and gone since I last visited my Nana.  In some ways it feels so short, in other ways it feels like more than that.  I have pondered a great many things these past 91 days.  Past, present, and future. Personal, parental, social, and church. Children, family, friends, and strangers.  No matter what I have pondered over these days, it can all be summarized to one thought. 

Every minute matters.

Somehow when you are older time gets distorted. Your memories get reorganized. As you sit there at age 91 (more or less) it’s the inconsistencies that creep up in your mind.  The little things become big and big things are sometime forgotten.  The mind is an amazing thing, and to watch it “grow old” is sometimes a bewilderment.  But if we are consistent- all the time, in all ways then there is less room for inconsistent memories. Sure, our memories may get jumbled some days.  For whether we remember this day or that, they will be the same in one way or another.  They will have a consistent theme.

Our thoughts, our convictions, our calling, our daily choices all matter.  If at any time we compromise, even the smallest bit- oh, only just for a minute.  Just for this one person, we think, or this circumstance is different.  There we begin the sometimes subtle invasion of compromise in our lives.  But is it really that big of a deal?  Yes. If compromise is justified based on circumstance, then our morals, our calling, God’s truth in our lives becomes just a good idea.  How then is our commitment to God any different than someone else’s good idea to be a nice person?  Our commitment to God and His word should NOT be affected by circumstance.  THIS is consistency.

Psalm 15 talks about God “honoring those who fear the Lord, and keeps his oath even when it hurts”  Sometimes it is not easy to be constant.  Bending to circumstance—well, sometimes seems easier.  Maybe in the present it is easier, but in the end, it’s not.

Every minute matters.

When I am 91, it is my prayer –that I will have lived as consistent as humanly possible by God’s amazing grace.  I know on my own accord I am unable. At my core, I am inconsistent- sometimes thinking more about the opinion of man than of God.  I pray that I care more what God thinks of me—committing ALL my ways to Him, even when it hurts or is hard.  For when I am 91, I desire to have consistent memories of trusting God more than man.  Through the years,  hopefully my children will have gained great confidence in our Great God over confidence in “men”.  And “men” will turn to my children for wisdom and council because they consistently trusted God.  In the end, God will receive more glory.

When I am 91, when I “sit with my memories” (as my Nana says), there will be days that I remember this or that, BUT  I pray that they have a consistent theme. A theme that is clearly remembered– “trust in the Lord, and lean not on your own understanding, In ALL your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight, do not be wise in your own eyes”  Prov. 3:5-6

Every minute matters.

Suzanne, Jill, Nana, and Mom-- in  Florida 91 days ago