Friday, September 28, 2012

Be Willing to Mentor Another Couple

Happy Friday Covenant Groupies,

It's an amazing day this Friday, September 28, 2012 in New York City. I pray that it's great where you are as well.

Got a question for you: You ever notice how anything that seems to matter to us, we do massive amounts of research to better understand what we're about to embark on? Whether a new house, car, vacation, job, you name it, we dig deep. Ultimately, we want that research to support that we're making the best and right decision. However, when it comes to marriage, it's highly evident by divorce stats, that the most research we do surrounds the wedding, not the sustainability of the marriage.  With the total brokenness and shortcomings of two imperfect people, do we really think we could be married and not require the help and support of another, more mature married couple?  Are we seriously that arrogant?

I recently had the opportunity to go to Little Rock Arkansas to the church of Pastor W.R. Norful, father of Grammy award-winning singer and Pastor Smokey Norful. Senior Norful was retiring after 45 years of being a Pastor and we came together to honor and celebrate him and his ministry. That's a very long time to serve others and he had been doing it since the age of 16.

As much as I was enjoying the celebration of his godly service, I was even more excited to learn that He and his wife have been married for 40 years. (SIDE NOTE: Marriage is hard in it of itself, marriage to a Pastor 10x as hard.) I applauded them along with Smokey, family and friends, but that was three weeks ago and they are still on my heart today.

Weighing oh so beautifully are the thoughts of the example they must have been and still are to other married couples, those who's marriage they've offered hope to, many who's marital possibilities they've heightened and how soul to soul, they've chosen to live out the rest of their lives together. Do they even know that they have even mentored me? 

Kevin and I never had a couple to mentor us early on in our marriage,  however we've mentored many since and along the way our mentoring of others has inadvertently served as mentorship to us. It has encouraged us, supported us, matured us, broken us, and  built us back up stronger and more aware than ever before.

We quickly learned that God never intended for us to live out marriage in solitude nor did He desire that we work tirelessly to have perfect marriages. God has always wanted His children to rely on Him, His Son and the Holy Spirit in order for marriage to be exactly what He's ordained it to be - a Covenant relationship that exemplifies Him and His church. Warts and all, marriage is so incredibly beautiful. It even makes us beautiful. 

After hearing all the testimonials of the relationship that Senior Norful and his wife have exemplified over the years I further know that healthy godly marriages are possible. What a great testimonial their marriage is to a watching world. 

It seem to me that in exactly the same way they Jesus left an example for us to follow to be the godly people we're supposed to be, it's only logical that married people are to be examples to engaged and newly married people to be the Covenant married couples that they're supposed to be.

I know it may sound crazy or unimaginable that you could mentor another couple, but you can and we all should. No matter where you are in your marriage right now on this day, you can be sure that there's a couple that you know who needs your help and support. They are going through something that maybe only you as a couple can help them with.

Your relationship does not have to be perfect, nor will it be in order to help other people, however in order to be a support system for other couples you must be willing to be completely transparent. That you must be ready for.

As much as we are and shall remain advocates of premarital counseling, because it's the ONLY way to begin a Covenant marriage, it's not what sustains it. As we move forward in our engaged and marital relationships, we all need another couple to walk alongside us.

Just as Jesus sent the disciples out two-by-two as instruments of support, encouragement, spiritual refreshment, correction and enjoyment, shouldn't we do the same as couples?

Friday, September 21, 2012

A Possible Marriage Saver in 9 Steps by John Piper

Hey Covenant Groupies,

I read an interesting post by Pastor and author John Piper and wanted to share it. Because Kevin has the Spiritual gift of Mercy, this describes exactly how he has taught me to receive and accept his apologies as genuine, heartfelt and true. It was difficult in the beginning, but this has been our saving grace so many times in our marriage. I have often said that Kevin has not only shown me how to accept Mercy as a gift, but also how to apologize. Weird, I know, but I didn't grow up in an environment where apologizing was always first.

Thank God we're never too old to learn!!


The grace of God is patient and works both instantaneously and over time. A mistake we sometimes make is thinking too idealistically, as though if we blow our first apology, there is no chance for a second.

The way to think about this marriage saver biblically is that it is an effort to see Colossians 3:13 fleshed out in real life: “Bear with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgive each other.” There is both “bearing with” and there is “forgiving.” How do they mingle in marriage?

Here’s one way I have in mind. I will describe nine steps to reconciliation with your wife (or husband, or friend, or colleague). Something like this is needed when you are too sinful to apologize sincerely the first time. This is real experience more often than I would like to admit, and, in another sense, not often enough. (Wives and husbands, hear these steps with yourself in both roles.)

Step 1. Your wife points out something you said or did that is wrong or that she doesn’t like.

Step 2. You get angry. (For five or six reasons that seem good to you at the moment).

Step 3. You have the grace to know in your head that this anger is ungodly and that a heartfelt apology, both for what she pointed out and for the anger, is in order.

Step 4. You are able to say the words of apology but not able to feel sorry because the anger has made your heart hard toward her. You don’t feel tender, you don’t feel broken, you don’t feel sorry. But you know you should, so you say, “I’m sorry.” This is better than silence. It is a partial grace.

Step 5. She feels that you are angry and is, understandably, not satisfied with words that do not carry heartfelt contrition.

Step 6. Time goes by. Twenty-four hours? Two days? The Holy Spirit, ever patient, and relentlessly holy, will not let you go. He works against the anger (James 1:19–20). He stirs up gospel truths (Ephesians 4:32). He softens the heart (Ezekiel 36:26). This may be through Bible reading, the word of a friend, reading a book, attending a worship service. Meanwhile she is waiting, wondering, praying, hoping.

Step 7. Anger subsides. Sweetness rises. Tenderness is awakened. Sorrow for sin grows.

Step 8. You take her aside and you tell her that the first apology was the best you could do at the time because of your sin. You admit it was insufficient. You tell her with tenderness how you feel toward her, and you apologize with heart, and ask for forgiveness.

Step 9. In mercy, she forgives and things are better.

What I hope you do with this is talk it over with your spouse to see if it fits your experience. One of the values of building this possible pattern into your set of expectations is that you can cut each other some slack (called mercy), so that step 6 doesn’t feel hopeless for either partner.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Watch Your Mouths...Ladies

Good Morning Covenant Groupies,

This past Wednesday and Thursday evening I served as special guest/relationship expert with an amazing organization called, Girlfriends Pray. The organization founder, Dee Marshall hosts intimate conversations called, Girlfriends Pray Life Camp and created a forum called, "Wifey Material." 

Wifey Material sounds exactly like what it is: an opportunity for married women to become better wives for their husbands and for dating and waiting women to get a great start on what it means to be in a Covenant Marriage. 

I was asked to speak about how Kevin and I have come to have a marriage that looks happy and healthy. Also, to share any challenges that we had faced and how we came out victorious. Over two nights, we discussed everything from leadership, submission, dating, to sex, divorce, reconciliation and so much more.  

What I love most about when people ask me to speak is the fact that God always reminds where He's brought us from and that's such an amazing feeling. From the smallest to the bigger situations, God has been so merciful in our marriage and we do feel blessed.

One of the things I remembered these past few evenings was that at one time, early on in our marriage, I was a mean wife. I was mean because I was insecure, scared and unsure. My meanness was relegated to how I spoke to my husband; it wasn't nice at all. I was condescending, critical, disrespectful, rude and I often emasculated  Kevin with my words.
This behavior served, in part, to us talking divorce several times in our marriage and me living with a very angry man. Angry because he was not receiving the bare minimum - his due respect!

How awful I feel now when I think about all that I put him through. It took me a while to realize that I was taught to treat men this way so I saw absolutely nothing wrong with what I was doing. Admittedly, it was a difficult habit to break, but once I realized my fault I asked for forgiveness and quickly began to work on it. 

What I've learned, not just from this conversation, but from all of the women we talked to over the years, is that this is rampant in many homes; women talking crazy to their husbands. I'm clear that this is hard for us ladies - it's easier to fight our men with words, but we must choose that our husbands will receive our best all the time; our best words, responses and most importantly, respect.

I was so excited to be invited to be apart of this online chat and I am so amazed to say that I was incredibly surprised by how much I enjoyed Dee and the ladies. 

Thanks for helping me to remember who I was and where God has brought me from.