...and to God, what is God's" (Mark 12:17). As a young adult, I felt that same sense of entitlement that my friends more-than-likely felt. The only problem was, I really wasn't at liberty to feel entitled. I grew up in a household that provided, but barely. A household, where it was normal for my parents to quarrel about finances because they were scraping by. A household where my clothes weren't bought at Gap, or Ralph Lauren, but typically Ames, Woolworth, and eventually Walmart - on the occasion Mom hand sewed adorable dresses for me. I don't really remember feeling a sense of lack until I was a teenager and everyone was talking about name-brand this or that, or the massive amount of things that they received for Christmas that year, or the extravagant trip that they went on during spring break. I can remember one day telling my Mom that I wanted to go to the Ralph Lauren outlet store. She looked at me and said, "Okay that's fine Ashley, but first you need to get a job to help you pay for that." Initially I was hurt, but then I was determined to get what I wanted. Little did I realize just how expensive Ralph Lauren truly was, and that my $100 paycheck would pretty much only get me a couple of shirts and a wallet. It was a minor wake-up call, but one non-the-less. I grew out of that phase eventually and realized that my parents did what they could do - whether the best or not, it was what we needed.
Upon moving out of my parent's house at the raw age of 18, I worked very hard to pay bills, and do school basically full-time. It's no surprise to me now that I experienced massive rebellion and burnout quickly. I was living in an ungodly environment with two guys, working three jobs, and attempting to keep my mind afloat while in school as well. I grasped at faith by straws, because everything else around me felt like it was sucking me in. I finally, with courage, applied to a university that would bring me away from it all - hopefully to a better, more freeing life. Though it was indeed different, my sense of self-entitlement became worse. I was inwardly jealous of my peers regularly, and attempted to pretend that I had more (financially) than I actually had, rather than focusing on what I did have. Needless to say, I fell into the trap of stock-piling college loans, and using my credit card like it was going out of style. I left college with over $70,000 in school debt, and nearly $10,000 in credit card debt. Already I had accrued a small mortgage. At that point, I was already in a severe state of depression because of a double loss of close family members within the same year, so financial stress only caused me to feel even less of a person. I knew that I had screwed up and I couldn't see a way out of it. I felt the pain of consequence. My loving boyfriend (now husband) tried to be supportive, but was frustrated that he was having to help me with bills that weren't his (and at such an early point in our relationship). I felt like I was drowning, on so many levels. I had a massive victim mentality.
Though we took steps to be more responsible once we got married in 2011, I still struggled. I started a business and began to "invest" in something that my heart could not connect to - eventually it went under. When we made the decision in 2015/2016 to have me home, after having two children, my husband was beyond nervous. I am sure that he couldn't possibly see how we could make it. Though my debt had decreased due to years of payments, it was still quite near that $70,000 mark. My private loans were actually increasing at that point. The credit card debt was down, but still around $6,000. I made the decision then, to get organized. I should say - God pushed us to get there, because truthfully everything from 2016 on has been clear evidence of His work in us. I had a property investment that I knew could help us, and though I know it's important to save, I also know that it is nearly impossible to do that when you're drowning in debt. We had to get past the "wanting more" mentality before God was ready to make that land-sale happen.
What we agreed upon was to setup bank accounts for specific things (household short term expenses, regularly monthly bills that are auto-paid, long term savings account, and personal accounts for gas/day-to-day expenses). I partitioned the money received from the land and paid off two school loans, and all of our credit card debt. The thing is, that sale took 8 years. It happened on God's time, when just the right people were ready to buy it, and when we (my brother and I) were in a place that we were ready to receive it with responsibility at the forefront of our minds (probably more so me, since my brother has always been incredibly responsible financially). What I realized in that instance, was that I was paying what was owed to Caesar, and that now rather than stressing about paying bills on time or at all that I was going to be thankful that we could pay them and still feel secure. I realized the importance of being thankful each time we paid a bill because we were 1) paying, 2) paying it on time, and 3) it was a gift - all of it. Now - we pay what's owed to Caesar to Caesar (whatever bill owed), but we pay God what's owed to God - our love, our worship, our faith, our devotion, our repentance, most importantly our gratitude for everything that He has given us.
We also refinanced my private loans (highly recommend this if you are done with school or just want to bang out your loans quickly) to less than half of the interest rate that I initially had. What is different now is that we work together, we are generally always thankful for the things that we have, and we trust that God will always see us through. Life is a constant journey of gaining wisdom, knowledge, and understanding. We are given gifts from God over time, in the proper times, based on when it is needed and where it is appropriate.
I am sure that there are many of you that can relate to this, I pray that you are guided in your journey financially and spiritually.
With most love,
Have you ever noticed that when you write a letter, I mean an actual letter, it feels very different than when you type a text, email or message? I nearly always feel happier when I'm writing a letter, more loving, almost as if I am having a conversation with someone in person, but not quite.
There have been times lately when I have felt distant from God, that my mind has been too clouded from all of the "stuff" of the world. As I dropped to my knees today repenting, praising, loving and longing to be in the presence of My Savior, I heard two things - "Go eat, and then return." So I obeyed, but as I was enjoying my snack I heard, "Write." I asked, "But Lord, what should I write, its been a while." What I heard next shocked me, "when you write, you commune with Me." We all have our own ways of connecting with Our Heavenly Father, sometimes they are many. For me, today, this is what He calls me to do. Today, I am writing a letter to My Father from my heart, my soul, and my mind.
There are days when I feel lost, when I feel filled with doubt in everything that surrounds and encompasses me, but then Your truth pierces me. You give me life. You are the breath that sustains me. No matter what trials I experience today, I know that You have absorbed all of the sin, all of the trials, all of the pain of this world for me (for us). I allow fear to creep in sometimes, shame, worry to consume me at times - worry that I'm a bad parent, that I'm doing everything wrong, that I'm not honoring You (through my actions) in the way that You deserve. But then I am reminded of just how much You love us, and long for us to love You in return. Like a parent, just like a parent, You ache for us, You probably get discouraged with our behavior, but You keep Your arms wide open excepting us as if we never left them. You are My Father, the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End. How simple forgiveness truly is, but how complicated we make it. Denying that simple act of giving and receiving grace to hold it all in, to build up bitterness, to lose site of love. I praise You Father for showing me what true forgiveness truly is - because even when I fail miserably, even when it hurts to seek it, even when I don't want to - I am pushed forward by love to seek it out, to give it. How great You are Father. I will never fully understand the wisdom that You have, the wisdom that You have bestowed upon us through Your Word and Holy Spirit, but I praise You for what I do understand, I praise You for the work that You continue to do on my heart, and the hearts of my family members. I praise You for continuing to guide Ryan and I on this journey with You, for others. Help us to serve You, by serving those to whom You guide us. Thank You for Your grace, Your healing love, for Your truth.
Love and Amen,
Sometimes the way that we think we're supposed to go, is not necessarily the way that we need to go at that particular time in our lives.
My friend, be well and know that you are loved.
This morning at 5 am, my littlest child startled me to waking when she started to scream and cry in her sleep. I went in to her room to soothe her back to sleep, went back into our room and curled up into the warm blankets slipping into a cozy second sleep (not uncommon in these parts).
Slowly, I started to see myself in my children's room. I was working on a text about some topic that I knew in my dream, but I cannot recall now. What I do know is that I was working on the scientific history, religious history, and finally the element of true faith as it pertained to the subject area. As I finished the text, the lights in the room went out and the door closed.
I sat on the edge of the bed, feeling the presence of darkness behind me. Fear began to grip my heart, mind, and soul. Immediately, I started to sing "Holy Spirit you are welcome here, come flood this place and fill the atmosphere..." It started inaudibly at first from somewhere deep within me, then I began to whisper it as I could feel the constriction on my throat of fear. In that moment I heard, "make a Cross with your arms." So, I did...and as silly as that sounds, I needed it in that moment. A reminder so to speak, to keep my eyes focused intently on the Cross, on my savior. Right after I looked at my arms in that position, my voice gave way and I sang loudly, clearly, beautifully, "Holy Spirit you are welcome here, come flood this place and fill the atmosphere, Your glory God is what our hearts long for, to be overcome by Your presence Lord." The darkness was completely blown out of the room.
I stood up, cast out any remaining darkness from our house and walked downstairs singing that song. At breakfast in my dream, and in reality I praised God for protecting our family, for providing His armor for us, and for pouring the Holy Spirit into us.
This morning at worship, guess what song was played second....
I am forever in awe by God's faithfulness, His love for us and His grace that He bestows upon us. He is ever present, He is everlasting, He is love, He is truth, He is life.
Holy Spirit, You are most welcome here...
When I lost my brother Lee, and my mother in 2007, I was desperately seeking peace of heart, mind, and soul. I felt as though my soul was in constant search mode. A deep void existed, and it was impossible to fill no matter how hard I tried to mask it, fill it, or push it deep within. When I began working in a local government office in 2009, my very kind co-workers and I had conversations about life, loss, finding peace, etc. One of my co-workers in particular suggested that I start doing yoga. He had indicated that it had helped him in more ways than one. So, I took him up on his offer and started doing yoga in a near by town.
The first few weeks I was struck with the fact that it brought so much peace to my entire being as soon as I walked into the room. We would go from pose to pose, and being a super flexible person I thoroughly enjoyed the challenges. When we reached the place of shavasana, I was able to get myself to a place of momentary peace. There were several instances (separate classes) where I experienced this beautiful meadow, with a gorgeous knoll, and flowing brook below (my family's land). In one instance, I heard children laughing, but did not see them. I can remember weeping in some circumstances, but not really understanding why.
Fast forward to nearly a decade later, sitting in prayer communing with my Savior face to face in that same secret place. After having followed a path through that same beautiful meadow, I was nearly instantly convicted. I couldn't understand why yoga felt wrong after that experience, but I did know that in all of the years of doing yoga I had not once experienced a conversation with Jesus, not once had I seen a path, and not once had I actually witnessed those laughing children running through the fields.
It was in that moment that I realized that the "peace" that I had been seeking all of those years, was the peace of rest in Him. I'll be honest, in those moments of shavasana I prayed to God often. I think that perhaps that was why I went to the place that I did, because even though I was utilizing new age meditation to gain momentary peace, God was still seeking me. He was still pursuing me, still loving me - deeply. I realized that He is my peace, the One thing that fills my heart and that brokenness. He is pure love, pure truth, pure life.
You can research for yourselves on yoga, meditation, and the new age movement. I'm not going to preach on that, what I will say is that in that moment I was convicted in the sense that my "secret place" of peace was supposed to be reserved specifically for my time with Him because He wants to commune with me (with us). He wants to bring peace to the deepest parts of us, to bring us to the realization that we are so deeply loved, that forgiveness (seeking and giving) is the way to living free of that burdensome weight of negativity.
Do I regret my involvement in yoga? No, not at all. Everything that I experienced throughout my past years, has launched me on to the trajectory that I am on now - in an intimate relationship with my Creator. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, the Victor, the Wonderful Counselor, Our Savior, the One who will never, ever leave One of His sheep behind. He will pursue us always in ways that we don't even realize or recognize at the time, and He will celebrate the victory of our coming back to Him (check out the parable of the lost sheep).
“And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors,
saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!" Luke 15:6
Once upon a time there was a little girl who sat in her bed dreaming about where she would travel when she grew up. A little girl who poured through books at the end of the hall way - but not just any books, encyclopedia sections focused on geography, archaeological finds, and astronomy wonders. She became obsessed with the ancient world, wanting to learn more and more. But, that love for learning about the world's cultures became hindered by her inability to write well according to the standards of many of her teachers. Additionally, growing up with a mindset that I'll never be able to afford what I loved socked a one-two punch at that little girls big dreams to travel the world and learn about other cultures, places, times.
Fast forward to the present, as I'm sure that you've guessed that little girl was me. Today, I'm a mommy of two beautiful kiddos, a writer, and I'm beginning to explore the world, cultures, places, times. One year ago exactly I literally head God audibly tell me that I was to be a writer. In all honesty, I did not believe it at all. I actually had every form of doubt, every insecurity enter into my heart, but then a children's book literally fell out of me, and a few months later I began pouring into my first "grown-up" faith-focused piece. I love to write, clearly, but each time I sit down at my computer I say, "Holy Spirit, please guide my hands, be my words, help me to do Your will Father." Then, it begins to flow....So, I'm a writer, not because I excelled at writing in high school and college, not because it was initially my life long dream, but because it is an important piece in God's plan for me.
Since we're at a place right now where life is financially stable, but not necessarily financially flexible we've elected to do one big trip per year. If more adventures are feasible - then you can bet your booty that they'll happen. You may not see a trip to my brother's as being an exploration, but it was and it ignited a fire. We flew as a family for the first time ever to South Carolina, exploring new ponds, trails, playgrounds, museums, waterfronts, roads, and deeply learned about God's love for us (check that part out here). It was a step towards inviting my littles on this journey to seeing the beauty of God's creation. Yes, eventually we'll check out Hawaii or Paris, France, but for right now I am perfectly contented with exploring the land that we live on. That being said, we'll be checking out a few National Parks next year out west. God gave us beauty, why not create an adventure and acknowledge the gift!
When we limit ourselves with a mindset of lack, we lose site of the blessings that we have been given. If we focus on the accomplishments that we've had, the financial successes in whatever form they be, then we begin to view our everyday lives from a different lens. God does not want us to live in a mindset of lack. He wants us to live in a mindset of prosperity, to hold fast to the beautiful plan that He has for us, to stay the course.
You see, that little girl all of those years ago believed that she could explore the world uninhibited, because money wasn't an object. I'm beginning to see that money is a tool, that if we trust in the plan that God has for us we can accomplish our dreams. You know what my dream is now (now that I've listened to what My Father is telling me): To become a traveling mommy writer, to take my family with me where ever I go, to spread God's word, to explore the world. I've already got the mommy piece, the writing piece, and the traveling is coming back into play. Stay tuned for more on that.... :)
Sometimes I think that we see "growing up" as giving up on those childhood loves, that those dreams are less than valuable, but the truth is those are our deepest passions, those are our hidden secrets that only God knows. If we let go of our pursuit of money, our pursuit of success, our pursuit of love, and focus on God's love for us or the plans that He has for us maybe just maybe the world will slowly shift from a mindset of lack to a mindset of prosperity in all things.
What was your dream as a little child?
PS - If you've got kiddos and you're headed to Charleston, SC (or by it) check out the Fire Museum and the Children's Museum - you won't be disappointed, and you're kids will love you! :)
As I sit here reflecting on the last few weeks the one thing that stands out to me is God bringing to my attention the idols that I held in my life without even realizing it. Things such as food (particularly candy, cookies, etc) and my children (yes, even them). Had you asked me what I thought were idols in my life I would have immediately thought that I had something in my home that I wasn't supposed to - I automatically assumed that it was some object that I unknowingly kept in my house. What soon came into clear view was that my personal idolatry was food, media, and my kids. Food had started to become a stress reliever of sorts, I had a mother who was an emotional eater so reflecting on this now, it does not surprise me that that particular sin moved it's way into my life. The media was also something that I did not realize I was allowing to come in front of God. I was watching things that related to belief, but many of them were negative, sometimes creepy. They were not fear of God inducing or love filled. What surprised me the most though, was the realization that my children were idols, because I was constantly concerned with their future and how their behavior now would impact the outcome of their future personalities/characters.
While reading the book of Ezekiel in my bible study group God flooded me with the wisdom that I was creating idols out of my children, and out of food, that I was not focusing on my character and the spiritual, physical, and mental well-being of the temple that He had in me. At that very knowing, my mindset shifted. I think that this whole year has been a series of mindset shifts - it's pretty incredible really. I began eating healthier and exercising, only this time it wasn't to "get the body that I always wanted", it was to impress anyone, it wasn't to feel sexy, or wanted, or any of those things. I was doing it because I knew, in that very moment, the massive importance of taking care of my physical body. Not only that, but I knew how valued and loved I was, and that my health was important. The world gives off this stipulation that we must be this or that to impress so-and-so, but in reality it has nothing to do with any of that. If we only realized that we are "fearfully and wonderfully made" (Psalm 139:14, that we have a Father that loves us dearly, that we have a Savior that longs for us to come to Him, that we have a Helper that can guide us, that through the power of giving and seeking forgiveness we can change everything - then the "world" stipulations would look silly and simultaneously heart-breaking.
God is a loving God, but as any parent would, He gets discouraged with His children when they sever connection with Him through sin. When we turn to Him, seeking forgiveness and forgiving those who have caused us pain it changes our perspective on life in general. We start to see things through His eyes. We start to see ourselves through His eyes. We start to see those around us through His eyes. All things we begin to see with the deepest love possible. The thing is we knowingly or unknowingly put things before Him. Relationship is not a one way street on earth, nor is it with Our Father. He wants us to live holy, pure, righteous, just lives because that is how He created us - holy, pure, righteous, and just. When we turn to sin instead of love, it's almost as though a wall is put up, brick by brick. Yes - repentance is necessary to maintain a loving, giving, receiving relationship with God, but isn't that the truth in any circumstance when we actually look within ourselves. If we do not seek forgiveness for wronging someone that we have a loving relationship with, that relationship (friendship, spousal, etc) quickly sours, grudges come into play in some circumstance, anger, resentment, bitterness - all things that are not of God. So naturally, Our Father would want a relationship with us founded upon forgiveness - the asking for and the giving to, on behalf of oneself and or others.
Initially on my journey with Christ I thought that this whole forgiveness thing was a one-time deal. I wondered why I was beginning to feel anger and pain again, then it hit me that its something that we must do regularly. It sounds so silly, but it truly was a legitimate thought this past year. We must repent regularly - seeking forgiveness from God and those we've hurt, and we must in turn forgive others regularly. If we do not, it builds up within us without us even realizing it.
"Get rid of all bitterness, passion, and anger. No more shouting or insults, no more hateful feelings of any sort. Instead, be kind and tender-hearted to one another, and forgive one another, as God has forgiven you through Christ." (Ephesians 4:31-32)
I started out this week with anger in my heart. My daughter and I kept going back and forth - testing, frustration, impatience, anger, which led to yelling. I actually prayed this at one point, "Father, I feel like I'm slipping again, I feel pain in my heart. I'm not sure what it is, what's causing it, but I ask that you take it from me. I repent my iniquities, those of my daughters, and I give all of my day - the good and the bad to You." My heart literally hurt, because I don't want to go into verbal rows with my child, but I realized that I am definitely a "talker". Over-speaking can lead to fools language - hurtful, cruel, unkind. I am only strong in Christ, because He loves my children and I so - and only He can remove all hardness from my heart which expels unnecessary words at times.
The thing is - we as Mamas have days that are not great. We have valleys that make us sad, anger, grieved, discouraged, pained, where praising God and seeking His goodness is so needed. Proverbs 31 put it completely eloquently: "Everyday motherhood requires an urgency to know God more " (September Mccarthy). Being a Mommy can be incredibly difficult sometimes, but I am seeing even more clearly that it can be fluid if we trust in God and His guidance. When we try to control, when we try to force, when we try to come up with a plan it may work as a temporary fix, but often does not stick. I am learning that I have be the best representation that I can be for my children - but I have to choose to trust in God's plan. If I choose to be angry, yell, throw things that gives them the idea that that is acceptable behavior. If I seek God first, if I give it all to Him, if I take the time to be in prayer, I'm better equipped with the tools of overflow to pour love onto my kids versus anger. Then I lean on consistent, firm, but loving discipline.
Regardless of whether we have valleys, the hills are not far behind and are equally deserving of God's praise. He is the "good gift giver" (Josiah Cullen). He loves us with an unending love, only asking that we love He and our neighbor's deeply in return. Our neighbors are our children - sometimes I forget that, it's easy when your day consists of a lot of crying kiddos. I think, however, that we as parents sometimes forget that our children hold pain in their hearts as well, even if they are littles. I know I forget sometimes that they are really just little adults. But, they are still developing so it is vitally important to teach them the power of releasing things to God, showing them through your actions, your prayer. That part I am still learning! But through it all I know that I did not get to where I am by myself. I know that Jesus has always, always been with me. I know that even in my lowest places He was there, though I may not have seen it then. I know that my motherhood journey - all of it - has been led by Him, but my choices have interfered at times with His plan for me.
Mamas you rock, you are never alone. Even when it hurts push through, thank God for your greatest little gifts even when they make you so, so frustrated. Give all of it to Him, and seek His strength - persevere. A hill is just around the corner....I love the song below, because it's truly been on my heart often for the last few months, as I reflect on the present, the past, and the future. It all belongs to Him. Praise You Father God for Your incredible enduring love for us - particularly Mama's raising beautiful babies.
I have been, for the better part of my life, overly hard on myself. When I am doing something, I feel as though I have to be exceptionally good at it. When I'm not I get upset, down, discouraged, angry. Lately, the two things that have been on my mind is 1) my relationship with Christ and 2) my parenting abilities.
Let's start with number 1...When I first fully came to Christ my world had been completely rocked (in a good way). I saw His grace and felt His immense love. I had so many experiences that softened my once angry heart (dreams, prayer conversations, visions, etc). It all came to a screeching halt though and I began to doubt, then I began to get discouraged with myself. I felt that old pang of being less than great, a failure, a bad person. Which rolled into parenting...
I began to see changes in my parenting - I became more fatigued, less motivated, began to holler more, and began primarily focusing on the not so great behaviors of my little ones.
"He does not love me because of the "good works", body image, personality, parenting ability, etc that I am doing or have, but because I seek Him, I seek to be cleansed, to have a relationship with God."
But this is how God works - He sends messages to us through any outlet that He is able to. He has sent me numerous messages regarding His immense love and value for all of us, that He does not love me because of the "good works", body image, personality, parenting ability, etc that I am doing or have, but because I seek Him, I seek to be cleansed, to have a relationship with God our Father in Heaven. He doesn't say that He won't accept or forgive us if we're broken. He says, I LOVE you deeply - brokenness and all.
You see, in many ways our brokenness gives us strength. It creates in us a desire to return to Him, and to turn away from being broken. It causes us to re-examine our lives, to allow Christ to wrap His arms around us. Do you ever feel unloved, unappreciated, angry? On that token, do you ever ask God to cleanse you, to forgive you, to love you, that you need Him? Try it, I know I pray that often and it is absolutely breathtaking. He provides, He always has, and He always will.
I am certainly young in my relationship with my Heavenly Father, but I do know this: I seek Him, I know that I love Him, I know that through it all, through all of the Hills and Valleys, He is carrying (and has carried) me. One of the last images that I saw in prayer of Christ was very similar to Peter's experience with Jesus at sea. Jesus was walking on water and Peter began to walk out to Him, but looked down because of doubt. Similarly, Jesus and I were in a storm only He was not being harmed. The storm surrounded us, but also did not harm us . He kept saying, "Trust in Me."
Trust in Him. He will carry you, He will be there - you just have to believe in your heart.
"Jesus said unto him, Thomas, because you have seen me, you have believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed." John 20:29
"You just have to believe in your heart."
The following quote speaks true to the primary message of this post - without Christ we are weak, from whom we received our strength: "I am not always enough, but because of You (God) I am completely able. "
Often, we see humility as having less - simplicity. It is indeed that, but the word also encompasses something that is less visible - leaving judgement for God alone, and repenting when our iniquities surface.
When I first came to Christ fully, I saw everyone with such love. Literally everyone. I still do mostly, but I've noticed that I've begun to allow judgement to creep in, I've started concerning myself with other's behavior rather than focusing on my own heart and those items for which I need to seek God. I know, and have known, that I am a completely imperfect person, but I've allowed myself to get discouraged or disappointed. I've forgotten to not only seek forgiveness, but to also GIVE forgiveness when pain is caused.
Interestingly enough, the Meriem Webster Dictionary says that humility means: "a modest or low view of one's own importance; humbleness."
To me humility is not viewing oneself as unimportant, but viewing oneself as equally loved by God as one's neighbor. What I mean is my neighbor is loved by God in the same amount as I - massively. That realization made me realize that that love is why we are encouraged to serve others with our whole heart, to love them deeply.
Recently I posted an image (see below) about allowing the fears of the world to cloud my mind. If we choose to cloud our minds with fear of what others are doing, fear of speaking truth, fear of loving deeply, then we are not truly loving our Heavenly Father or our neighbor.
Just because we have a relationship with Christ DOES not mean that we are loved more. We are loved and valued massively in equal measure, whether we accept it or not is our choice. Therefore we cannot look at another and think that what we do, think, or say makes us different, because it doesn't. What it does is allows us to feel that love, that value, it allows us to desire that immense happiness to be felt by others.
I wish that for everyone. I pray that you not only see how loved and valued you are, but how loved and valued we all our in our Creator's eyes. I pray that the realization that fear is not of God impresses upon your heart (yes there is awe which is noted as the fear of God, but that's good fear).
Humility = LOVE =HAPPINESS = LIGHT = THE WAY = CHRIST
There are so many things in the world today that tell us to do things for our sake, to focus on self only, to build our lives for us, that marriage never turns out good, that marriage should be easy. I can say from experience, that one-sided relationships or those in which you are only focused on self will generally always struggle. HOWEVER, loving oneself is a massively essential part of a successful relationship. You have to love God AND love your neighbor - which includes you! It's a different kind of focus on self - not "selfish" just pure love. Fill your heart with the Word and get rid of your "stuff" through forgiveness, and you will totally overflow LOVE onto your family.
I can honestly say that God gave me a beautiful gift when he placed my husband in front of me. He has an incredibly gentle heart, he is authoritative but kind, he loves deeply and gives his all 100% in anything that he does. I know that sounds perfect, and yes I will always praise my Father for him, however marriage is a working relationship with you, your husband, and God our Father. Neither one of us is EVER perfect, we struggle but we recover. We have made it a point to work at talking about our "feelings" rather than allowing verbal vomit to take place - but we forget to do it at times and weeks go by without it. It's choice. We choose to make time for study of the word or to not, we choose to spend time on our phones or not, we choose to discuss our feelings, or not. We choose to focus on the beauty and gifts that we each bring to our relationship, or not. It's a choice to love with our entire being or half of our being. A choice to love the way Christ loves, or the way the world loves.
Growing up I had a very off perspective on submission. I got the impression that a woman had to submit to her husband in literally anything (finances, sex, decisions, etc). I also grew up saying, "I will NEVER let anyone control me." I didn't realize that when a husband and wife loved each other, by putting God first, that they develop this deep, enduring respect and love for one another. Additionally, they become repulsed when they treat the other poorly (immediately seeking forgiveness).
Love him/her deeply. See him/her without flaws as I see you.
I started out my dating relationship with my husband with the mentality that I would NOT be controlled, that I would fight. It took me being asked "why I was yelling" and more recently giving everything to Christ to realize that the enemy is the one who says "be controlling, focus on yourself not your relationship, he's/she's weak, he's/she's not as beautiful as that one, he's/she's not smart enough to make that decision, he/she is not good enough."
If we listen to what God is saying, its: "Love him/her deeply. See him/her without flaws as I see you. Confide in one another. Keep your marriage covenant sacred, as My relationship with you is sacred. Be the light in your household, be a light for the world - for your community."
My parents had the misfortune of not being able to experience that gift - to see it in that perspective, however I know that God's timing is everything and that people do indeed get second chances because of forgiveness. Though my mother is no longer here, I know that God is working on my Dad's heart. I see it clearly and it's beautiful. I used to have such a negative perspective on my parents relationship, but I realize that I have gained so much from both of them - life lessons through them, but from God.
We ALL have a choice to seek the world, or to seek Christ and to love our neighbor. It's truly and beautifully that simple.
Love to you and your spouse,
This was the song I chose for what would have been my Mom's dance with my brother, but it is so applicable to any relationship that you have in your life here on earth. LOVE=CHRIST