Your Best Night In

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Hi friends!

We just wanted to stop by your inbox and let you know we’re cheering you on! This quarantine thing is not going to get to us because we have the love and hope of Jesus in us and all around us. Hang in there! You’re doing a great job working from home, schooling from home, and just having to be home, because you love and care for those around you! Thank you for all you’re doing to flatten the curve of Covid-19.

Grow Your Marriage

Waiting for things to go back to the old normal or struggling with being productive at home? Struggling with keeping the kids entertained or the cat off your laptop? Here are a few tips from our friends at FamilyLife:

    1. Ask for patience.

    2. Pray for greater love.

    3. Think before you speak.

    4. Try a little thankfulness even during quarantine.

    5. Give yourself grace.

You can read more here.

Our current situation is not only a struggle on us individually, our relationships are struggling too. If things are feeling a bit messy right now, or you and your spouse simply need some encouragement, or just need some inspiration to see this quarantine through, join us and our friends at Prepare/Enrich for a special YouTube livestream event, Rallying for Relationshipsthis Thursday, April 23 at 5pm (7pm CT). Let’s learn practical ways we can strengthen our relationship during this time.

Have Some Fun

Get ready for Your Best Night In, a time to laugh, love, and chill, hosted by Married People. Grab some popcorn and gather on the sofa for a free online event for couples this Friday, April 24 at 4pm (7pm ET). Watch on Facebook Live.

Make sure to tell your friends and small group! They need it too!

Hope isn’t cancelled. Home isn’t cancelled. Let’s take advantage of these wonderful tips and fabulous gift of technology to grow our marriage and enjoy some laughs during this time in quarantine!

Be sure to subscribe to be the first to get new posts! Share them with your friends. And give us a follow on Instagram @npmarriage.

NP Marriage

Quarantine and Marriage: Help!

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COVID-19 has certainly changed things a bit, or perhaps a lot, for some of you. With enforced quarantine, schools closed, vacation plans cancelled or delayed, and what we thought would blow over in a short time, has now turned into weeks. Our patience is running thin, our anxieties are high, and the snippiness with our spouse may seem like the only communication between us these days. Friends, you’re not alone.

We have a real enemy who is standing or sitting close-by, rubbing his hands together, with devious eyes, ready to attack anytime. You may have noticed he’s already been playing with your mind, filling it with lies and worry. Gosh, the news itself is enough to make our thoughts turn upside down and the enemy is all over that. Friend, the enemy is not our spouse. We can stand shoulder-to-shoulder, with our husband or wife, and fight against the enemy’s attacks. Satan likes to magnify even the smallest of annoyances we may have. And when we’re not close to the Lord and in his Word, Satan knows it, and becomes an unwelcome guest in our lives.

Satan wants us to think that we have to do our own thing, as individuals, to make it through these hard days. You may or may not know this, but men and women are different. We see things differently, we process things in different ways, and our perspectives may not always line up. I encourage you: Don’t let the enemy in on this. This is how he destroys marriages, especially in stressful times like we’re in now, to turn you against each other. Instead, let’s not give in to the temptation to do things our way, and be honest with each other in how we’re feeling or what we’re struggling with. Then, take some time to dig into God’s Word and remind ourselves that we’re on the same team, fighting the same spiritual enemies, united as one in Christ.

When we find ourselves snapping at our spouse or family, we need to take a moment and ask ourselves: What is at the root of my sinful reactions right now? Am I getting frustrated with my husband or wife because I’ve put my security and hope in them more than the Lord? Am I annoyed with my children because their being home is interrupting my normal routine? Am I taking my fears out on those closest to me because it’s simply easier than bringing my fears and anxieties to Christ and my spouse in humility?

If so, let’s remind ourselves that these circumstances, both globally and personally, are not out of our sovereign Father’s hands. Reminding ourselves of this truth can bring peace when life feels chaotic and when these circumstances seem never-ending. We may not know and understand God’s ways, but we can be confident that he is in control and he is good. He wants us to draw closer to him in times like this. He wants to build our trust and wants us to deeply rely on him.

Is this hard? Yes, but we can, and must, trust that God’s got this. Instead of allowing fears, stress, and anxieties to creep in and wreak havoc in our marriages, let’s kick them to the curb and invite peace and rest in. And this peace and rest will only grow as we remember to trust the One who has control.

We can look at times like these as “growth opportunities.” As we face these difficult days, squeezed in close quarters, remember, God’s grace is sufficient for each day. We have a choice to grow. How? We can look at the day as we see it, or we can lift our eyes to a hope beyond what we can see. And each day, we can look to the cross. The cross was the darkest moment in history, and God initiated it. God allowed his Son to give more, and lose more, than we ever could. Satan thought he won this battle. The little smirk on his face turned into great defeat.

It’s not difficult to imagine Satan smirking today, hoping to throw us into a frenzy for control, to snap at each other, and to doubt God’s goodness in allowing COVID-19. But! We get to send him away with his tail between his legs after he discovers that circumstances like this only draw us closer to the Lord in dependence and trust, growing our marriage in the process. And this “growth opportunity” in our marriage and family only reflects more of Christ.

So, we need to be in God’s Word to fight against the enemy’s lies. As our marriage becomes grounded more in his Word than the circumstances around us, we as individuals, and our marriage, can only reflect God’s peace and joy, even with the storm raging all around us.

The enemy may have tried to knock us down in the past, and we may be thinking he has won. But we can look back and see how God not only got us through, but he has grown us, strengthened us, and brought us closer to him. And he’s going to get us through this, even stronger.

Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

Ephesians 5:10-12 (ESV) – I encourage you to read Ch 5: 10-20.

Let’s build each other up. Let’s be like Aaron and Hur with Moses and hold up each other up when we’re feeling weary. Stay strong. Keep the faith. Hold on to hope. We will get through this, because we are BETTER TOGETHER.

Please, if you need anything during this time, whatever your need, or if you just need prayer, let us know by emailing pastorsteve@northpointe.org.

Hang in there!

NP Marriage

For continued reading:

Psalm 119; Philippians 1:27-30; Colossians 3; Romans 5:1-11

Most Important Minute of the Day

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What is the most important minute of the day in your marriage? In Drs Les and Leslie Parrott’s study, Your Time-Starved Marriage, they mention that the most important 60 seconds of marriage is the moment you walk in the door, when you greet each other at the end of the day.

These are the moments that are unplanned and spontaneous. A simple greeting, hug, and maybe a kiss to look each other in the eye to say “Hello” and connect. It doesn’t have to be long, maybe 5 minutes. These moments, or possibly a ritual that you can put into practice to grow your marriage, can be so special. Maximize on them, friends.

Rather than going straight to your office, your phone, your computer, your to-do list, or that few minutes you need to breathe after a long day, take advantage of these ordinary, day-to-day moments with your spouse and kids. This first 60 seconds when you come home, to reconnect, can set the tone for your evening as well.

How can you maximize these moments this week?

To learn more, visit lesandleslieparrott.com to get a copy of the book or to check out other resources to grow your marriage.

2020. New Year. New Decade. Renewed Marriage. Same gracious and faithful God.

In Him,

npmarriage

Building a Marriage Worthy of Our Calling

God knew in advance the two of you would marry. He chose you to be together, to live out your life as an example of Christ and his church. What does this look like in our marriage? How do we live a married life “worthy of the calling” we have received? We may be obedient in our call as individuals to do everything in the name of the Lord, giving thanks to God, living in harmony with others, loving and serving others; but how are we doing this as husband and wife, as one flesh?

Building a marriage “worthy of our calling” means that we pay attention to our call, our part, in the most glorious work ever known: the advancement of God’s kingdom. What if we focused on a portion of Ephesians 4:1-3 to read like this?

I urge you to build a marriage worthy of the calling to which you have been called,
with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love,
eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

Author Gary Thomas, calls the advancement of God’s kingdom the “magnificent obsession.” We bring dignity to our marriage, but we also have something greater to aim for. Happiness is wonderful, but this magnificent obsession is even bigger (not fighting our happiness, just bigger).

Humility and Gentleness

As we are creating a marriage worthy of our calling, we are creating a marriage where the character of Jesus is displayed for all to see. Our calling is to become more Christlike. We should seek the kind of marriage that serves our calling, rather than seeking to build the kind of marriage we want. According to Paul’s words in Ephesians 4, we need to be humble and gentle. Humble with our spouse, our children, our co-workers, other parents at the soccer games, other moms at the school, our neighbors, and people we see and serve at church, because Jesus is gentle with his church. We are to be humble, because Jesus was humble.

Without God’s word, his instruction, we may never give a second thought to gentleness or humility. There may be times we don’t give it a first thought. We may find compatibility with our spouse, in liking the same Netflix series or the same restaurant. We find security or something as fabulous as making each other laugh. These things are not wrong, but there is something wrong when there is a lack of gentleness and humility. I’m guessing most clients are not requesting to meet with a counselor to learn how to be gentle and humble in their relationships.

Care For Each Other

So how can we aspire to have a marriage worthy of our calling? We do not act or speak harshly to each other. We do not pressure each other, dropping our own expectations or dreams on our spouse. God calls us to be a servant, mutually caring for one another. This is the best way to model our calling. When people see the way you treat your spouse, they are reminded of Jesus.

Our culture screams everything but humility, yet Jesus showcased humility, so we must showcase humility as we proclaim Jesus to the world. Pride destroys relationships and wrecks marriages. Pride is not worthy of our calling to proclaim a Savior who “made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant” (Philippians 2:7).

Do you see the difference? Instead of trying to grow a marriage we want, a magnificent obsession leads us to seek to build the kind of marriage that reveals Jesus to the world.

To Do This Week:

  • Spend some time together. Take a look at your marriage. Does it reflect the character of Jesus to the world?
  • Be intentional in the way you act and speak to each other. What are some humble and gentle ways to communicate and encourage each other through the craziness of life?
  • In your Bible study this week, take a look at the character of Christ. Pray. How can you put these into practice as you build a marriage “worthy of his calling?”

Content based on one of many fabulous resources: Focus on the Family/A Marriage Worthy of Our Calling, May 15, 2015

Joy in Him,

NorthPointe Marriage Ministry

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Marriage in Light of Eternity

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Summer is here! While you’ve been busy making plans for vacation and activities, what are you planning for you and your spouse? For your marriage? A weekend getaway? A fabulous cruise? What about plans to grow and strengthen your marriage? Quality time together is definitely a need, but what are doing for your marriage in light of eternity?

We’d like to share a resource with you! We are hosting a Couples’ Study, You and Me Forever, on Thursday nights, beginning July 25 at 7pm. Summer plans will be winding down. School for the kiddos will be right around the corner. Gather with some other couples from NP to learn from Francis & Lisa Chan (via video teaching) and enjoy some small group discussion. There’s nothing better than walking alongside others (of various ages and stages in life) who have the same goal as you–to have a Christ-centered marriage.

In their book, You and Me Forever, Francis and Lisa Chan tell us that marriage is great, but it’s not forever. Remember those vows you said on your wedding day, “Til death do us part?” Marriage is only until death do you part. After that is when the eternal rewards or regrets come, depending on how you spent your life. The Chans go on to say, “While we cannot allow lesser things to destroy our marriages, we also cannot allow marriage to distract us from greater things.”

As we pursue God first and foremost, life begins to make sense, and everything else starts falling into place. We enjoy love, laughter, and intimacy in our marriages because these were created to be enjoyed. There is a way to love our spouse and family without ignoring heaven. It all comes down to our focus.

The Chans believe Jesus was right; perhaps, we have it all backwards. The way to have a great marriage is not by focusing on marriage. You might be thinking, “What?” Many of us believe our priorities should be God, Marriage, Family, Work, etc., but are you really prioritizing and living your life in this order? Let’s get together and learn more. Join us on July 25. Get your book today and read the Introduction and Chapter One before we meet the first week. Invite your engaged and married friends. Help others grow and build Christ-centered marriages.

Joy in Him,

NorthPointe Marriage Ministry

**Be sure to subscribe to our blog for encouragement, resources, and upcoming events.

Embracing Life’s Hiccups

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Going through a big life change? New job? A big move? In a place where you’re really needing to trust God? Maybe one of you totally trusts God but the other wants to be in control? Life can certainly throw some curve balls at us and, as couples, if we aren’t standing against these curve balls together we will most certainly be chasing a lot of foul balls.

Perhaps one of you is pursuing your absolute dream job. You fill out all the paperwork, quit your job, and assume your spouse will take care of the kids and the home. Do you consider how this change will affect your spouse and children? Especially when it’s a big life change that will take you away from home often, leaving your spouse in “single parent” mode.

When God created you and your spouse to be ONE, he didn’t just mean intimately. He meant for you two to stand together, as if your legs were tied and ready for take-off in a three-legged race. You’re connected, arm-in-arm, ready for battle against the big and sometimes difficult things in life. One partner relies on his ability to control everything. The other relies completely on God to take care of things in the midst of change. Can you see how this can cause friction in a marriage? Each partner going his/her own way, rather than facing things together. The problem or big change wants to squeeze itself between you and your spouse, often causing division between you.

If you’re going through a big change right now, or perhaps you’d like to equip yourselves for what’s to come, here are some things to do:

  • Pray. Yeah, it’s cool to pray individually. But what we’re talking about here is praying together. Yes, you and your spouse kneeling at the edge of the bed, holding hands at the breakfast table, or on the couch together each morning (even if the kids are running everywhere or crawling all over you), PRAY. Ask for God’s will to be done. Ask him to help you be the encourager and support for your spouse. Ask for his provision if you’re needing to make a temporary financial change.
  • Trust. Trust God. Period. God is way more powerful than you when things need to be put in place. Trust your spouse if he/she truly feels called to this change. Wives, submit to your husband if he’s being led to a new career or change. Husbands, discuss everything with your wife. Hear each other out. Listen to each other’s feelings. God is in control of everything, Friends. Do not rely on your own ability or control to make it through. Boy, is this a faith-strengthener!
  • Make a plan. With God’s guidance, sit together and make a plan for what needs to happen to make this change run smoothly, whether it’s a temporary or permanent change. Who’s taking care of the housework? The kids? The appointments and games and parent/teacher conferences? Talk it out. Hubbies, if you normally mow the lawn and now won’t be home to take care of it, teach your wife how to use the lawnmower or consider the teenage boy next door if it will be financially difficult to hire a gardener. Wives, if you’re in a weekly Bible study and now find your husband will be out of town, talk through childcare issues ahead of time, so you don’t miss out. What if an appliance breaks down in the home? Make a plan to discuss how repairs can be handled. Having these conversations in advance can ease the stress later when/if it comes up. Yes, we all have cell phones and it seems easy to be in contact with each other. But, remember, emergencies always seem to come at inopportune times. Have a plan in case you can’t get a hold of your spouse.
  • Gather your tribe. Family. Friends. Small Group. Invite your community in. Let them help you with carpool, maybe some meals, and/or a childcare swap. You watch their kids one night; they watch your kids one night; and you both save money in the process. Most importantly, invite your community to pray with you and for you. Prayer is powerful! You do not have to navigate this time alone. Let the body of Christ assist you and stand by you in support.

May God be at the center of your marriage, knocking your socks off with his peace, kindness, love, strength, and presence!

Communication: It’s Not Just About Talking – Part 3

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Communication is about more than just talking. We’ve learned that we communicate with each other through our words and through the tone of voice we use within those words. Talking is a very small part of the communication process.

Our nonverbal communication- facial expressions, body language, posture, eye contact, touch, and attitude have so much to do with communication. Who knew? Do not underestimate your nonverbal communication with your spouse. It has the power to lift up or tear down your relationship.

Affection

One woman said of her husband, “I’m the luckiest person in the world. I feel cherished and loved by my husband. He’s taught me how to daily stop, look, and listen. I can’t tell you how special it makes me feel when he stops what he’s doing and just holds my hands and listens to me when I tell him about my day. He fills our home with gratefulness and appreciation.” You’re probably thinking, “Wow, this guy’s got some superhuman power.”

This woman, smiling, went on to say, “He was severely injured in the war in Afghanistan. He can no longer speak or hear, but he can read lips. He’s a great listener, though, because he listens for my needs, hurts, fears, and hopes. He communicates so clearly by just holding my hands. He brings such warmth to our relationship.” Isn’t this so tender and beautiful? She thought his injury would break them apart after his healing journey and physical therapy. Instead, what she discovered was a deeper connection to her husband using nonverbal communication. Their marriage was restored after all the difficult times and it was strengthened without the use of words. According to Burns & Fields, this courageous couple learned to practice the Triple A’s of Communication: Affection, Atmosphere, and Attention.

You may be familiar with Gary Chapman’s The 5 Love Languages book? Affection (Physical Touch) is a “love language,” along with Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service, Receiving Gifts, and Quality of Time. Tim Keller, another great author and Pastor, calls affection “love currency” in his book The Meaning of Marriage. Have you ever thought of communication as a language or currency to express your love? Affection, a form of nonverbal communication, is one of the most influential demonstrators of love. We’re not talking about sex here, Gents, although that is a strong form of affection and communication. Regular, nonsexual affection can be one of the most powerful forms of communication between you and your spouse. A simple touch lets you see into the soul of your spouse. Love can be demonstrated through a touch, a nuzzle, a cuddle, holding her hand, rubbing his neck, a tender kiss.

Affection is more than touch. A simple, inexpensive gift. Taking time to plan a special date. Making arrangements for a babysitter. That scores big points for you Fella’s! Just sayin’. You don’t need to save for a big and extravagant once-a-year gift to bring the Wow factor. Small notes left on the bathroom mirror or on the steering wheel, flowers just because, or a dessert from her favorite restaurant. Small ways to show big love.

Atmosphere

Whether you’ve got little ones running amok or teens you’re trying to wrangle, your home and surroundings can get rather chaotic. Even if you don’t have children at home, it’s easy for our marriage to be choked out by busyness and other circumstances. In the middle of all of this, a couple has to learn how to create an atmosphere of warmth in their home and relationship. No home has done this perfectly, friend, but the difference between a flourishing marriage and a poor one is often found in the atmosphere or tone it brings in the home. It takes great effort to build a positive environment, but friends, it can be done, and we believe it can happen.

If you’re unable to turn your home into a sanctuary, then create a comfortable atmosphere in one room. Move your desk and computer from your bedroom. Put your TV in another room or give to a family in need. Turn your bedroom into a stress-free zone rather than a workspace. These simple endeavors will keep the atmosphere of your relationship at a healthy climate.

Attention

You may have heard or thought these statements, “My husband doesn’t listen to me,” or “My wife is so distracted by so many other things I don’t feel I am a priority.” Listening (not hearing), really listening, is a love language. Paying close attention to how you’re listening to your spouse is important. Attentive listening may not come naturally for some of you, resulting in selective listening or becoming passive. Intimacy can go through the roof when you show the ability to understand and share your feelings with one another. Like your normal habits of the day, that were learned at some point, intentional listening is a habit to be learned, and can be learned. It is such a wonderful gift to give your spouse. Paying attention and listening is not just with your ears, it involves eye contact with your spouse and empathy from your heart.

Out of all the forms of communication to be mastered, listening should be at the top of the list. What has James instructed us do to? “My dear brothers and sisters, understand this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger” (James 1:19). Fervent listening is a skill that will serve you well throughout your marriage. It will serve you well in your parenting. It will serve you well in all of your relationships. Here’s a little secret: Lay aside your self-centeredness and listen without an agenda or wanting to answer right away. You can positively influence those around you with your ability to give undivided attention, in a nonverbal manner.

To Do This Week:

  • One way to create a warm and positive atmosphere is to pause, to take a moment or few minutes, before you get home and pray and prepare your heart. If you are a stay-at-home mom or you work at home, take time to breathe, set your heart before the Lord, before re-engaging with those at home. A peaceful heart creates a peaceful atmosphere.
  • Here’s something fun: Schedule a day (or half a day) to use only nonverbal communication with each other. Hold hands. Hug. Write a note to each other. Send a link to a song on Spotify.

Content based on one of many fabulous resources: Getty Ready for Marriage by Jim Burns & Doug Fields. A great book for you dating, engaged, and married couples. Visit their website: HomeWord. Jim and Doug believe in STRONG MARRIAGES, CONFIDENT PARENTS, and EMPOWERED KIDS and have partnered together to strengthen and equip parents, couples, and families.