Cruising Toward Valentine’s Day: Resolutions for a Happier Marriage

lovein-the-airIt’s February 8th. Do you know where your New Year’s resolutions went?

Hope they are going well. Meanwhile, as we cruise toward Valentine’s Day, why not resolve to enhance your one flesh union?

Disclaimer: My husband and I are not marriage experts. We both failed at it the first time. We are divorced, Reformed and remarried…remember. Here are some things we’ve learned (and are still learning) from this day forward

How can I love thee better? Let me count the ways…

Schedule regular devotions and prayer together. We all know how important this is, but we often neglect doing this as a couple. It is crucial if we want to keep our marriage intact.

Assume the best of him (her). How often do we come to conclusions about our mate before all the facts are in? Ladies, we (well I know I do!) try to read his mind and motivations, then assume the worst. Not good. Stop it.

No dumping. When he calls from work, or comes home from work at the end of the day, don’t dump problems on him. He’s been stressed for 8 hours or more, don’t add to it. Save the problems, discussions, bills for later.

Guard one another’s souls. This would be the opposite of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’. We all struggle with sin. Confess when you’re curt, wrong, or have lost your temper. Ask for forgiveness and mean it. Ask if your honey has slipped, needs prayer, or needs a broom over his head.

Guard your tongue. This is a biggie. And stop that muttering under your breath. It would be good to do repeated studies on the tongue throughout the year. It’s astounding how many bible verses there are on misuse of the tongue! Many of them come from Proverbs, one of the wisdom books. So here is wisdom:

  • He that keepeth his mouth keepeth his life: but he that openeth wide his lips shall have destruction (Proverbs 13:3).
  • Seest thou a man that is hasty in his words? there is more hope of a fool than of him (Proverbs 29:20).
  • Every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment (Matthew 12:36).
  • Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers (Ephesians 4:29).
  • Whoso keepeth his mouth and his tongue keepeth his soul from troubles (Proverbs 21:23).
  • A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger. . . . A wholesome tongue is a tree of life: but perverseness therein is a breach in the spirit (Proverbs 15:1,4).
  • Death and life [are] in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof. (Proverbs 18:8)
  • For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile: (1 Peter 3:10)
  • And the tongue [is] a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell. (James 3:6)
  • If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion [is] vain. (James 1:26)

sources: Scripture to Help Tame My Tongue and Bible Verses About Power of the Tongue

If those verses don’t convince you to be careful with that tongue, there are many more. Continue reading

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Beauty for Ashes: Christian Remarriage After Divorce

sign direction new life - old life
“…to give unto them beauty for ashes…”

In a perfect church, everyone hears the gospel and believes at a young age.  In a perfect church, two people who profess Jesus Christ to be their Saviour and take marriage vows are truly both regenerated.  Two people who marry in Christ understand the marriage vows to be permanent. Though these sinners saved by grace may have difficulties, they look to Christ for the grace and strength to endure. In a perfect church.

But there are no perfect churches.

In an imperfect church, you’ll find divorced people. Some have been remarried. This is part of diversity in the church. We all have diverse pasts, diverse circumstances and diverse social statuses. We have married couples, singles, widows and widowers…and we have divorced people.

I thought it would be good to start my third year of blogging by revisiting the topic of remarriage after divorce, though I will not argue whether remarriage after divorce is right or wrong. That was the topic that launched this blog. For the Biblical arguments please refer to that post (which was my most popular to date!) here: Can Two Divorced People Remarry?

Secular statistics on second marriages show they are doomed to fail. I do not believe we can use secular statistics for the church. If Jesus Christ is the staying power, the faithful One in the bond of Christian marriage, the marriage cannot fail.

So, I say poo-poo to statistics. Here are three beautiful examples of blessed remarriages [names have been changed to respect privacy]:

I Just Want to Be Happy/Can’t Get No Satisfaction – Couple #1

Alan was a covenant child – raised in the Christian faith. His parents brought him up with the Bible and church attendance. He made a profession of faith as a teenager. Sadly, he did not continue walking with the Lord. Over his dad’s objections, he married young. After 14 years of marriage, he divorced his wife. Alan blamed his family for his lack of happiness and peace. He remarried (without seeking the Lord) and divorced his second wife.

Cathy also grew up in a Christian family, but sought satisfaction in career and family. Her first marriage ended in divorce. Her second marriage was planned, but her intended died of a heart attack before the wedding. She threw herself back into her career. Then she met and married Alan, who came with three children from his first marriage. They bought a home and had one of Alan’s children move in with them.They felt the child needed to attend church, so that got Alan and Cathy physically back to church, but not yet spiritually. It was then that Cathy began meditating on the Word and asking questions. Alan helped her in her understanding and in the process, he repented and rededicated his life to the Lord. Couple #1 sought counsel of church elders. Alan asked forgiveness not only of the Lord, but of his family and children whom he’d wronged. Alan and Cathy  determined to rebuild a Christian family. They adopted four children. Two of them were special needs babies! Sadly, their first baby died at 17 months. They praised the Lord for her life and the privilege of having her, even for a short time. The Lord kept them through trials and disappointments. They went on to raise their children up in the fear and admonition of the Lord. Couple #1 is one of the most beautiful, faithful couples I’ve come to know in our church. They recently celebrated their 41st anniversary. They enjoy visiting their children, grandchildren and twelve (so far) great-grandchildren. What would it be like, had they been refused marriage? Continue reading

Wrestling With Time: Don’t Look Back, Don’t Worry About Tomorrow. Live for Today With The Abiding Presence

lionandlamb

March is here. Spring is in the air and we’ve already had a taste of it. I’m not ready. I still want to hibernate. I didn’t lose any weight yet. I didn’t finish purging clutter. Wait, wait, wait!

I’m not ready.

But it’s here.

I spent much of January sulking about the past. After-holiday blues hit hard. My cousin Prudence and I talked about Christmas past, when gifts were opened slowly, one at a time, each moment treasured as everyone absorbed the joy of the recipient. We reminisced about a different kind of Christmas, a different world, another time. Remember when, remember when. Remember when one gift a piece was precious. It was enough. Now our grandchildren attack a tower of presents under the tree, flinging wrapping paper, viciously anticipating the next toy.

Prudy and I both had our youngest children, daughters, move away last year. We miss them.

All of my children are geographically far from me. I wish we could all be together again, at least during holidays. I hate that we were split apart by divorce, before they finished becoming adults. I envy other couples my age that have been married 30, 35, 40 plus years. Because that’s what it was supposed to be for me. I envy the shared history and memories, comfort level, children in common, that those couples have: fruits of a long faithful marriage.

Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him For the help of His countenance. – Psalm 42:5

On January 29, I was prompted to read Spurgeon’s Morning Devotion which starts:

In our Christian pilgrimage it is well, for the most part, to be looking forward. Forward lies the crown, and onward is the goal. [emphases mine]

I was jolted back into the present. Yes, we must look forward. He says, for the most part, I think because we should never forget what God did for us, how He saved us from our past. We should remember how he plucked us out of places we shouldn’t have been in. I think Spurgeon says this also because it’s okay to treasure certain things in our hearts, like memories with our children and all the blessings in our lives past.

Life is but a vapor…

In February, my 58-year-old cousin Frank died unexpectedly. At his visitation, fifty-eight years flashed before me onscreen. There was a picture of Frank being baptized in the little Brooklyn church where I was also baptized. Those were the days, growing up in that little church. I plummeted further, lamenting over the utter brevity of life. My morning devotions brought me to Ecclesiastes 7:10 where the Lord, through Solomon berated me:

Do not say,
“Why were the former days better than these?”
For you do not inquire wisely concerning this. – Eccl. 7:10

The Lord, through Matthew Henry, scolded me further:

the supposition is a foolish reflection upon the providence of God in the government of the world.” Note, (1.) It is folly to complain of the badness of our own times when we have more reason to complain of the badness of our own hearts (if men’s hearts were better, the times would mend) and when we have more reason to be thankful that they are not worse, but that even in the worst of times we enjoy many mercies, which help to make them not only tolerable, but comfortable. (2.) It is folly to cry up the goodness of former times, so as to derogate from the mercy of God to us in our own times; as if former ages had not the same things to complain of that we have, or if perhaps, in some respects, they had not, yet as if God had been unjust and unkind to us in casting our lot in an iron age, compared with the golden ages that went before us; this arises from nothing but fretfulness and discontent, and an aptness to pick quarrels with God himself. [emphases mine]

How sobering!

Whatever state I am in to be content…

The good old days. They are always reinterpreted through revisionist eyes. Eyes that are so dissatisfied with the here and now, the past looks more attractive. This is discontentment. Paul learned whatever state I am in to be content. Am I? As a divorced, reformed and remarried woman, am I?

It’s a dangerous thing to whine over afflictions designed by God for our good. It’s a dangerous thing to look back, as Lot’s wife did.

The good old days were not really that good.

The Lord showed great mercy and lovingkindness toward me. He sent a new husband my way. He makes all things new, indeed.

Live in the Present with the Abiding Presence

I am reading The Abiding Presence by Hugh Martin, which I highly recommend. I love how he expounds on the timelessness of the Gospel.

… a Saviour the same yesterday, today and for ever, who in his marvelous biography is living with us still by his Spirit. The element of time is got rid of, and cast out. Jesus is with us.

The element of time has no influence at all on the efficacy of the sacrifice. As to past time, he may be called ‘the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.’ And to the end of time, he is ‘the Lamb as it had been slain.’

Past time, end of time. I long for the element of time to be rid of!

Yes, March is here. The month that identifies with the Lion and the Lamb. Stormy or calm, blustery or blissful, I am going forward and looking forward to this day:

“…Do not weep. Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has prevailed to open the scroll and to loose its seven seals.”

And I looked, and behold, in the midst of the throne and of the four living creatures, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as though it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent out into all the earth. -Revelation 5:5,6

Let time go by. The element of time is got rid of! Let the seasons change. My Lion and my Lamb are eternal, and change not. The element of time will vanish when the wrath of the Lion burns up the earth in righteous judgement and the love of the Lamb collects his children to be with him forever and ever.

Come quickly, Lord Jesus.

Photo credit: http://www.stolinsky.com/wordpress/index.php/tag/lion-and-lamb/

 

 

 

Happy 1st Birthday, Divorced, Reformed and Remarried!

It’s been a while since my last post. Summer flew by and circumstances did not allow the time to write. Also, I’ve been wrestling with whether this blog should continue. I realized today that Divorced, Reformed and Remarried began a year ago – so a little celebration is in order.

Happy birthday, Divorced, Reformed and Remarried!

It’s a good time to review past posts and reflect on possible future ones.

Our Identity Crisis! series started in March. Wow. I did not expect so many related news stories to coincide with the subject. Since the series began, we’ve witnessed the Supreme Court decision on same sex marriage, the debut of Caitlyn Jenner, and a surge toward gender neutrality among corporations.

Monday is Labor Day. Most students are back in school. I always loved the new school year. It seemed to me a better time for a fresh start. New marble notebooks and blank white pages await. So does this blog.

Blank pages, fresh start!
Blank pages, fresh start!

There will be a few more posts in the Identity Crisis! series and then I hope to move on to less cumbersome subjects.

Stay tuned…

Purging and Pursuing Wisdom in Blogging With Humility

Divorce agreement - approvedJanuary is a great month to purge.  Purge closets. Purge drawers. Purge the papers under the bed. That’s where I keep my divorce papers. For legal purposes, those will have to stay. But I still have drawers full of journals. Interspersed with joyful reflections on homemaking and childrearing are lamentations over a failing marriage. Trying to purge, but how do I skim off the fat (broken marriage and betrayal) and keep the healthy minerals (memories of motherhood)?  It should be as easy as soup. But the skimming process forces me to read them. To shred or not to shred. That is the question. Yet I must purge. I sure could use the drawer space for more fuzzy sox.

So I’ve been caught up in this for several days. It plunged me into melancholy. I started rehashing stuff in my mind. I’m grieving again, with Natalie Merchant moaning in the background. It doesn’t help that this month marks the 10th Anniversary of my divorce being final.

I failed to heed wisdom I wrote about before in my post The Second Time Around: Yours, Mine and Ours, Yes!don’t look back. The holidays always cause nostalgia to flare up, so I need to cut myself some slack. There’s nothing wrong with remembering precious moments with my children. But to relive the death of a marriage is for naught. I will skim through my journal pages with a discriminating eye. I will treasure the good and destroy the evil.

Though this blog says ‘divorced’, I don’t want to focus on that. The title remains as is, but only so I can help others, perhaps, heal from divorce. I will never bash my ex or rehash. I’d like to emphasize marriage – having a God-glorifying one at that.

Maybe I should have made two posts out of this one, but I think it will be okay to segue into: Continue reading

About this blog…

You may already have aDSCN3604 clue about this blog’s subject matter, but I think I need to explain. My blog theme is almost an oxymoron. There are many in Reformed Christian circles who believe that remarriage after divorce is absolutely forbidden, no matter what the divorce circumstances were. I am a Reformed remarried divorcee. A divorced and remarried Reformed Christian. No matter how you put it, it doesn’t sound good. I hate the D word. This blog is not aiming to balk at denominations that are strict in their convictions. I’m with them and most of all I’m with Jesus: He hates divorce and I hate it, too. I will attempt to share the anguish, anxieties, and apprehension that preceded our marriage. Besides the difficulty of a second marriage, my husband and I are middle-aged with grown children. Thus, there will be posts about other issues that make second marriages difficult. I’d like to open up discussion on remarriage after a so-called ‘Biblical divorce’ — caused by infidelity or abandonment (or in my case, both!) There must be more people like us sitting in those Reformed pews. You can imagine there will be an infinite amount of subjects to tackle on these pages, including the many blessings of a new marriage. I’m excited. Let’s dig in…