Marriage and Family Advice

Ephesians 5 is rich with advice on relationships. At the center of all relationships are the marriage and the family. God established them in the beginning for good reason and in good and perfect design. I have heard them referred to as ‘just another place to walk your Christian faith’ and in the same breath ‘thee most important and challenging place to do so,’ which gives them the familiar simple but challenging label. Praise God for His Word that reveals the truth and guides us! Here is the simple recipe for a blessed family:

And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God. – Ephesians 5:18-21

So that is it, a simple four point checklist. There is a lot out there written on how to have a successful marriage and family. Let us quite all the noise for a moment and remember God’s recipe. Here’s a four point checklist that we use in our family. It is labeled the real issues to remind us that God’s word is the authority in our lives and our relationships. These are instructions on what each family member has in Christ.

The real issues of blessed family:

  1. Spirit filled; under the obedience of God’s Word
  2. Singing hearts of joy; speaking in psalms/spiritual songs to one another
  3. Saying thanks; ever thankful, ever grateful
  4. Submitting our will to the others’; going last, putting others first  

The image I used for this post is a heart that Jamie made to remind us of these real issues of a blessed family. It is placed on our fridge right next to handle, a little in the way but never out of place.

Extra Credit: free ~11 hour study resource marriage, parenting, and family: The Fulfilled Family

 

Originally published on BibleJournal.net from October 5th, 2016’s reading: 1 Kings 8; Ephesians 5; Ezekiel 38; Psalm 89

Parenting: the Kitchen Table

In proportion as man rises in the intellectual scale, does he give prominence to mental and moral enjoyments in conjunction with his daily meals.
-H Clay Trumbull

ParentingTable Talk

The kitchen table is, in my estimation, of the very best of tools a parent has at their behest in raising their children. While I’ve been a parent for but a little over two months, I’ve been a child all my life. I have spent many an hour at the kitchen table. I have seen it used well and not. I have participated in and contributed to both. In my experience, not is when it is used merely as a place to rest food for eating. Not is when the family uses it non intentionally; people coming when they may and if they will, a non priority but more a means to an end. When used well it is a wondrous thing. A true delight. The family comes together in more than just physical proximity. They come together in spirit. They anticipate the experience. They linger and truly enjoy and profit from the gift of family.

Table talk ought to be such, in every family, as to make the hour of home mealtime one of the most attractive as well as one of the most beneficial hours of the day to all the children. But in order to make table-talk valuable, parents must have something to talk about at the table, must be willing to talk about it there, and must have the children lovingly in mind as they do their table talking.

I agree with Mr. Trumbull’s suggestion: the kitchen table should be much more though than just a place to enjoy family, it should be a place for family to grow. He notes that some of Jesus’s most profound truths in teaching are found in His words with those whom he sat with eating. He goes on to point out that the “table talk of great men has, for centuries, been recognized as having a freeness, a simplicity, and a forcefulness, not to be found in their words spoken elsewhere.” What if our kitchen tables were the intellectual and moral center of our homes?

Here are a few practical ideas from Mr. Trumbull and others on how we might make it so:

  • One father has been known to read over the morning paper before breakfast and bring to the attention news of particular interest to the application of family values during table talk.
  • Another father will set a topic for supper table talk in advance and challenge the children to learn all they can for the discussion.
  • One family keeps a dictionary within reach of the kitchen table so that table talk can continue on when a word needs learning.
  • Another family has been known to make a habit of asking God what He wants of each of them throughout the day and writing it down. Asking and sharing and discussing what was heard and how it went and what can be learned has lead to most profitable and enjoyable conversation.

Thy wife shall be as a fruitful vine By the sides of thine house: Thy children like olive plants Round about thy table. Psalms 128:3

What are some ideas to get us all headed in that direction? What challenges have you faced in this endeavor?

-A takeaway from Hints on Child Training by H Clay Trumbull

As always good books, takeaways, stories, and/or lessons learned on the subject are most appreciated.

Themes for Marriage

Sometimes the very presence of God is barred by our presuppositions and our intense and constant desire for triumph.

-Ravi Zacharias

Max-Roxanne-a-goofy-movie-26441478-700-300 2

There was something about Mavidea and its leaders that drew me to the company.  When I first started at Mavidea I came to realize what their secret sauce was.  Culture.  One of the many things I have come to learn from Mavidea about culture is how to use themes to bring people together.  Jamie and I liked this idea so much that we decided to use themes in our marriage.

The first theme we chose?  Do life together.  Early in our marriage we struggled with expectations so this theme was a way to help us with that. It did lots of other awesome things but it certainly served as a built in expectation buster.  Expectations.  Propping up a date or pointing to an event and saying ‘it is going to be the best’.  When things are not the best – it is disappointing to say the least.  Unknowingly, setting expectations, we found ourselves working towards life instead of working to enjoy it.

Jamie and I used to wake up on a Saturday morning and each go our own way. Each with our own lists of to dos.  The idea?  Get all this stuff done and out of the way so we could get back together sooner and really enjoy our time together.  Let me tell you how that went.

We each wake up and discuss our plan of attack on the day.  You do your list while I do mine and we will be done at approximately four and then, then,… we will have fun and enjoy.  Break.  Go team.  Expectation.  Set.  I busily go about my work and Jamie, separately, goes about hers.  Four o’clock comes and sure enough we are done with our lists.  Success.  ?

Now comes the time to enjoy life.  At this point there are some pent up expectations.  Namely from four o’clock on will be enjoyable.  After all we just sacrificed our day up until now so it would be. There is some pressure there. That we created. Interesting.

Now, let us say that we do happen to select something that sounds fun for both of us. Disaster averted. One time I recall we decided to rent a movie. We head to the movie store and proceed to get in a fight about what movie to watch. Nice.

Enter our theme to do life together. We now combine our lists. Among other things it forces us to learn to enjoy going to the grocery store, together.  And enjoy pulling all nighters at a hackathon working on software, together.  Sure we may not get done as early or even get everything on each of our lists done.  But when we are done, the pent up expectations are not there.  After all, if our post list time is not ‘the best’, we have already spent the whole day together.

It is not always easy. Sometimes it does not seem productive. But we have grown closer together because of it. Sometimes we still divide and conquer but that is now the exception.

What would your theme be?

 

-A takeaway from Mastering the Rockefeller Habits by Verne Harnish

As always good books, takeaways, stories, and/or lessons learned on the subject would be the coolest.

 

 

Companionship

Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others.  They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.

-Jesus Christ

Somers Family Mission Statement - 2013

Jamie and I read a fantastic book called The Three Questions for the Frantic Family by Patrick Lencioni last year right around our anniversary.  Lencioni suggests married couples should ask themselves what is the most important thing to focus on over the next 3-9 months.  Jamie and I chose to focus on building a marriage that glorifies God.

Lencioni then suggests we should list out the activities we think will help us get there.  We cleverly called these: “How do we get there?”  After that Lincioni suggests we should list out things that will always be important so that we do not lose sight of the basics and remain balanced.  For example, listing out finances in this area would keep us from spending too much money on an activity that would help us achieve what is most important.  A check and balance of sorts.

Once you have your three questions answered the idea is to review the bottom two sections regularly with each other.  We set aside regular time to each give them a green, yellow, or red. Green meaning it going good and red meaning it is not going so good.  Following this routine has lead to some fantastic conversations and understandings and learnings.  God is good.

One of our activities or “How do we get there?”‘s is companionship.  For us companionship was tricky.  We were used to ‘taking turns’ as it were.  For example when we were dating in college, if I had a big exam coming up, Jamie would not bring up things that were bothering her.  On the surface this seemed like the right thing to do.  I can tell you, at least for Jamie and I, it was not. Things would build up. It was not good. This was a habit we needed to break.

It helps us to consider our thinking when we are trying to break a habit.  Our beliefs surrounding the issue.  Again the approach seemed to make sense.  Sacrifice for the other person by not bringing anything controversial up, asking for help, etc. while it was their ‘turn’.

I have come to believe that this is not God’s design for companionship.  When we lay something like that on our spouse we are asking them to give.  Give us time, attention, priority.  When asking someone to give to us they will often be in one of  two states.  1.) A position of abundance.  2.)  A position of lack.  When we give from a position of lack I believe this is one of the most pleasing things to God.  (Mark 12:44)  So the conclusion Jamie and I have reached is this: by not asking for help when the other is busy, we are actually robbing them of an opportunity to please God.

The end result.  We ask for help.  No matter what.  It works.  For us.

 

-A takeaway from The Three Questions for the Frantic Family by Patrick Lincioni

 As always good books, takeaways, stories, and/or lessons learned on the subject would be the coolest.