Being a Team in Marriage

To me, the most beautiful thing about marriage is that it instantly lays the foundation for teamwork. Notice that marriage does not instantly create a fully-functioning, healthy, and established team… It only builds the framework for what could be a healthy team. I consider the second most beautiful thing about marriage to be the act of building that team. If you are interested in becoming a team with your spouse and developing teamwork in your marriage, this is for you. Developing teamwork in marriage takes work!

Being a Team in Marriage: developing teamwork in your marriage | Grace Upon Grace Today

When my now-husband and I were going through premarital mentoring with a couple from our church, we mentioned how our small group had recently spent an evening discussing marriage. We were disappointed that the general consensus from the evening was that marriage was difficult and challenging. I expressed my disappointment to our mentor couple that there was no rejoicing in the beauty of marriage, but rather, commiseration in the challenge of marriage.

Our mentors responded along these lines: “Yes, marriage is hard, but it is good, because it is two people working together towards the same goals.”

When two people commit their lives to each other, they make the decision to fight for the other person’s best interests. In that way, they are therefore taking care of themselves, since in marriage, the couple is now one flesh. In addition, a couple following after God has chosen to commit their lives not only to each other, but also to their Lord and Savior. His glory becomes their goal.

My husband and I have the joy (and sometimes headache) of working together: we are teachers at the same Christian school. Literally, our occupations involve working towards the same goals: for our students to be well-educated and to develop relationships with God and with each other.

Additionally, outside of our careers, we have taken the words of our mentors to heart. We have chosen to seek the other’s goals and best interests, so we can not only honor each other, but also live out an enjoyable marriage. For example, my husband chose to do the household chore I hate the most. It doesn’t cost him any extra time (he would be doing something around the house anyway), but it makes me much less stressed to focus on the chores I hate the least instead.

The author of Ecclesiastes writes similarly to the encouragement of our mentors:

Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.

(Ecclesiastes 4:9-12, NLT)

The last line speaks clearly of a good marriage. Not only is there a husband and wife who seek after what matters to the other person, but they also seek after God’s presence in their marriage. With the Lord as the basis for our marriage, my husband and I are stronger and tighter than we would be otherwise. We have the same goal of glorifying Him.

In all these things, we are becoming a team: fighting for each other, fighting for God’s will and desires, and serving Him. We are choosing to work together instead of sowing discord in our relationship.

How is your marriage a team? What can you do to make your marriage full of teamwork and not discord?

5 Practical Ways to Love People Around You

I wish I knew what to do… Let me know if you need anything… I’ll be praying for you…

Have you ever said those words? You know the person before you is hurting or has gone through some major life transition. You know they need to be shown love, to be encouraged, to be uplifted. But you have no idea how.

Me too.

Recently, there were four deaths of loved ones among my colleagues. A friend is adopting two special needs daughters from overseas. One of my sisters-in-law had an emergency hospital visit.

What can I do? I’m just a new wife, working more than 40 hours a week, and as busy as ever. I want to help; I want to show them the love that Christ has shown me. But how?

I asked a few friends about what would show them love and encouragement during a stressful or hurtful time, and I wanted to share these five practical ways to love people with you.

Write a Card

Hannah of The Young Wives Club shared with me that, in the midst of her miscarriage, the most helpful thing she received was handwritten cards. She treasured the encouraging words from people who loved her and from women who had been there. I like making my own cards, but you do not even have to be creative to send a thoughtful card. It just takes a moment to write a word of how much you care. Your words and even your written prayers could mean so much.

Bring a Meal {or more}

I’m from the south, where potlucks and casseroles are a way of life. I usually think of bringing someone a meal first. However, I did not realize how impactful it could be. My husband’s family suffered the loss of my sister-in-law before I knew them. My mother-in-law says she wishes she would have allowed people to keep bringing them meals. A couple weeks is not long enough for a mother to be willing and able to cook for her family again. In fact, bringing a meal or two a couple months later is such a blessing. You can even pick up simple things like toilet paper at the grocery store at the same time! My friend Leah of Shelemah wrote a post featuring my mother-in-law’s 15 Ways to Help a Family Grieving the Loss of a Child. I encourage you to read it if you are looking for more practical and thoughtful ways to minister.

Use Your Talents

Serving others is not just for good cooks! Naomi, the adoptive mom and blogger at 127 Living, challenged me when I read her post about supporting foster and adoptive families “for the long haul,” as she puts it. God has given you unique talents that you can use for a variety of purposes – why not use a few of them to minister to others? Can you babysit? Teach or coach? Help around the house? Mow the lawn? How has God gifted you and how could this gifting be used to help others?

Be Careful with Your Words

I love Abbey’s advice in her post on loving women who have dealt with infertility and loss. She challenges her readers to be careful not to speak incessantly about babies and pregnancies, as this easily alienates women who are suffering with infertility. I find this to be so true: Women are more than mothers. Motherhood is a wonderful, amazing thing, but a woman is no less complete without children than with them. Abbey also relates how important it is to be there for your friends who are struggling, but to allow them to determine what they need. Allow them to set the tone for your help, and don’t request that they talk about it before they are ready.

“Put Yourself in Their Shoes”

…says Heather Hart in this post on three ways to practically love others. Consider what they might be feeling or how they might be affected. If this happened to me, what would I need? This enables you to show love, grace, and empathy to those around you who may be hurting, stressed, or going through significant changes. It is important to keep in mind, though, that you probably do not know exactly what this person is going through. Avoid saying things like: “I know exactly how you feel!” Instead, humbly come into the situation willing to learn how God would like to use you. Prayer is a mighty tool for sensing how best to respond in any situation.

I found that these bloggers and friends ended up encouraging me to continue loving people as they struggle with whatever they may be facing. I hope they did the same for you. As we are the hands and feet of Jesus, we are called to practically love and serve. Perhaps you have gleaned some ideas, like I did, for some great ways to do just that.

What are the best ways people have served you in your times of heartache or transition?

Five Practical Ways to Love People Around You courtesy of Grace Upon Grace Today www.graceupongracetoday.com

To Be a New Creation

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.

2 Corinthians 5:17-19

new

When you become a Christian, a new life is born in you. Literally, you accept Christ’s sacrifice in place of your sins, and God forgives and redeems you. You are a new creation. God calls you New.

What does it mean to be a new creation? First, you are different from those who are not new. You desire to please God, and you choose what He commands. You can choose selflessness instead of thinking only of yourself. You are not held in bondage to your sins because you have been forgiven by the grace of God. There is freedom in being a new person.

Second, it means that you have a new purpose. Instead of living to please yourself and your desires, you are now a bearer of what the Apostle Paul calls “this wonderful message of reconciliation.” (NLT) You are not made new simply for your own benefit, but for the responsibility you now have of sharing the Gospel. You can bring the good news of salvation to people who do not know what it is like to fully accept God’s grace and forgiveness.

Who in your life does not know the joy of the Lord? Let your identity as a new person in Christ be a ready invitation offering them the same new life. How can you be a minister of reconciliation for him or her?

Originally published in Her Binder Project, February 2017. I absolutely love the free study resources at Her Binder Project and I completely recommend them. This is my first month writing for them, and I hope to continue!

Interested in which Bible I use for my daily study?
See my review of my two favorite Bibles here!

What does it mean to be a new creation? Thoughts from Grace Upon Grace Blog at deannalexis.wordpress.com