Find the rhythm of work, rest, play and worship
“Jesus didn’t say to find disciples. He said to make disciples.”
God is an accountant. Things always add up.
He calls it you reap what you sow.
But you don’t sow trees, you sow seeds. Little tiny seeds that end up becoming big oak trees. I officiated a wedding under the Spanish Moss of some City Park Oaks this past weekend. Impressive trees. But all those trees which have stood the test of storms like Hurricane Katrina started out as tiny little seeds.
"We can count the seeds in an apple, but God can count the apples in a seed." - Sammie Mitchell at PJ’s Coffee on Mounes and Elmwood Park, Monday April 25th, 2011
The principle that governs all life is you can’t get out of the ground that which you never planted. And the thing about gardening is there are two factors you cannot control.
So, what are the seeds in a marriage? Well they are all communicated by words and actions. Words create expectation and arousal. Actions create excitement and trust. Together they create the kind of marriage that others wish they had.
So what are some seed words you could sow into your marriage today?
So what are some seed actions you could sow into your marriage today?
The five sense are a great place to start
Small seeds planted everyday in the garden of marriage become Big Oak Tree relationships filled with the gray hair of Spanish Moss.
"He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away.” - Psalm 1:3-4
Marriage is for a lifetime. Raising children is for a season.
Marriage is for a lifetime. Raising children is for a season.
I noticed a pattern in my late teens and have seen the trend continue into my adult years. Many parents of my friends were getting separated and divorced when their last child would hit their mid-teens.
I understood why after Dana and I married and had our first child. It is very easy for parents to abandon their focus on their marriage and redirect ALL their attention to raising the kids. Their intentions are good. They want their kids to have a better life than they had. So they have their kids involved in multiple extracurricular activities like piano, football, t-ball, dancing, girl scouts, karate, tutoring, key club, swim team, cross country, basketball, passing camp, advanced knitting, sausage rolling, roller hockey, etc…
Multiply all these activities by multiple children and compound this with work, school, homework, housework, bills, friends, family, birthday parties and your best attempts to have a little fun and you will see why you are busy.
Busyness kills focus. Always.
So what happens is parents lose focus of working on their marriage while raising their kids. When the last kid gets a driver’s license and heads out to chase her adolescent dreams - mommy and daddy look across the room at one another and see someone they don’t know, don’t care about and often don’t even like.
The antidote to the poison is to constantly Re-Focus. The Bible calls this the principle of the Sabbath. After each day God created in Genesis it says he looked at the big picture and said “It is good.”
When you take a look at your marriage right now do you say “It is Fiya.” (I think God actually said this but its hard to translate that from the Old Testament Hebrew)
If yes, keep the focus. If no, center yourself on working at your marriage. This isn’t steroids, its a healthy diet and daily exercise. It takes time, but it will pay off if you remain steadfast.
"Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” - Galatians 6:7-9
There is no magic fairy who is going to show up and tell you what needs to be done in your marriage.
You’ve got to set the agenda. You and your spouse are the CEO’s of your marriage, therefore its up to you to determine the NEXT STEPS that you need to take.
"The job of the CEO isn’t to check things off the agenda. Her job is to set the agenda, to figure out what’s next. Now that more and more of us are supposed to be CEO of our own lives and careers, it might be time to rethink who’s setting your agenda." - Seth Godin on April 16th 2011
Schedule a meeting with your spouse on a Sunday evening. If you have kids - then plan on meeting after they go to sleep. Here are the questions you need to answer:
All changes in life happen one step at a time. The problem for most people is that they can’t see a positive next step to take because the problems they face seem so big. You lose 85 pounds one at a time. You don’t get in a mess overnight and there is no magic lottery ticket to get you out overnight.
Little small changes become exponentially powerful in a relationship when built day after day after day. Determine the next step to take. Now take it.
"He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure.” - Psalm 40:2
All the gang bangers forgot about the drive-byes. I need to Karaoke more often. This was my jam back in the day, but I think big boy just made it even better. Love the background. That’s priceless.
The world’s great classical cello player and hip-hop dancer collaborate. Reminds me of James Brown singing It’s a man’s world with Luciano Pavarotti.
Marriage is for adults, therefore when we act like children it is impossible to make a marriage work. When people act immature around us or if our children start whining we just tell them to “Quit being a Tuht (rhymes with foot).” This is when our kids throw temper tantrums or complain their brother hit them or begin to threaten to take their ball and go home. Now this kind of behavior is aggravating in children, but it is completely destructive when it is enacted by adults.
This kind of kiddie behavior is a tactic many married folks use as a mechanism to avoid resolving conflicts and to extend them to unreasonable lengths.
Many conflicts can be overcome by simply taking time to check our attitudes. There is no room in a marriage for idle threats and mule-like stubbornness. Marriage is hard enough on its own - it doesn’t need to be complicated with whining and griping.
Build a bridge and get over it. Stop making mountains out of molehills. Say sorry. Forgive petty offenses and get back to the loving. We don’t have time for anything less.
"Listen to me, you stubborn of heart, you who are far from righteousness” - Isaiah 46:12
You would think this would go without saying, but often times those are the things which need to be verbalized.
Its never works out to criticize your spouse publicly. Especially in front of your In-Laws.
When you find yourself at a function or an event or a gathering - and your spouse does something you deem ‘criticism worthy’ - simply take a mental snapshot and place it on the shelf of your mind for a conversation that evening before you go to bed.
"Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God” - James 1:19-20
It’s always best to frame criticisms with love on one side and humility on the other. Dana and I try to prep each other by saying “Hey - I need to share something which will come across as critical, let me know when you are ready to hear it.” This preparation phrase usually gives the other person time to mentally position themselves in a receiving mode as opposed to a defensive mode.
It is impossible for anyone to receive unexpected criticism. Walls jump up and the spears come out. We lash out at one another and this never looks good in public. It makes everyone around us uncomfortable and the person who offers the criticism always looks bad in the eyes of the witnesses.
Next time you feel the need to criticize your spouse - just hang onto it for a minute. Its amazing to me how often I forget about the instance by the time I get in bed. Maybe it wasn’t so important after all. God gave us two ears and only one mouth - this is because we should listen twice as often as we speak.
A Little saying my Dad used to reference from Alcoholics Anonymous was "You are only as sick as your secrets."
I know in a marriage this is definitely the truth. See - here’s the deal. The truth always comes out. That’s why I think the scariest verse in the bible is
Luke 12:3 - Therefore whatever you have said in the dark shall be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in private rooms shall be proclaimed on the housetops.
We often believe that if we keep things secret we can eventually get over on everyone else, but secrets are silent killers like cancer within our souls. There is freedom and liberation in a marriage when both people have the freedom and trust to share openly and honestly with one another. And it doesn’t hurt if you don’t have to confess hurtful, foolish or disrespectful decisions which you’ve made.
Stay away from fire and its difficult to get burned.