{Marriage} A Wise Alternative.

Written By: Mandy Hill

“Pray continually.” (1 Thessalonians 5:17)

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More often than I wish to admit, I choose words of my flesh over words spoken in prayer. This is especially true in my marriage.

When my hubby and I disagree on something, my first instinct is to defend; using words. However, the bible says to …..”watch your words and hold your tongue; you’ll save yourself a lot of grief.” (Proverbs 21:23)

So, why not offer up a prayer instead?!…..whether it’s as simple as “Please help me, Jesus! I need Your wisdom in this situation,” or, something more lengthy; prayer in those moments is a much wiser alternative to speaking the words of our own flesh.

The bible also says this: “Watch the way you talk. Let nothing unwholesome come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift.” (Ephesians 4:29)

Our natural instincts are to talk….I’m certain you’ve heard these sayings before: “Talk your way out of it”, “talk your way to the top!” etc. However, the bible has a lot to say about very carefully examining what we speak before any words leave our lips.

I was really thinking about this the other day and asked The Lord for a wise way to say less. Was it to listen more? Use less words? I felt him nudge my heart with our verse for today: “Pray continually.

As I pondered this verse, I was overwhelmed by what a different world we would live in if we all choose to “pray continually” instead of using so many of our own words. If every time a disagreement arose in my marriage and I prayed through it rather than taking on defence and seeking my own victorious ending; I believe the outcomes of those disagreements would be so much more peaceable.

Father God, thank You so much for blessing me with such a gracious husband! Thank You for loving me, even when I talk too much. I pray, Jesus, that these words will penetrate into my heart and become my new way of living; to pray continually. I pray also for my sisters, please guide their words and nudge their hearts to continually seek You rather than pull from the depths of their own flesh. We praise You and we desire so much more of You. Please fill us to overflowing. In Jesus name, amen.

{"Keeping it Personal" Radio Interview!}

Good afternoon We are His daughters, friends!

About a week ago now Keeping it Personal Radio personality, Teri Johnson, approached our president, Mandy Hill about being a guest on her Thursday afternoon radio show!

With excitement, Mandy agreed to share a bit about her faith journey and touch on some of the unexpected circumstances that she has faced in her life so far.

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We would be so honoured if you would join Mandy and Teri at KIPRadio!

www.kipradio.com

Have a wonderful day, friends!

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{Marriage} The hard truth.

Written By: Mandy Hill

Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later. (Romans 8:18)

Years ago, a friend of mine discovered that her husband had been dabbling in pornography. I remember her phone call, the tangible pain in her discovery; the identities she soon assumed for herself as ‘deserving of such an offence’ or ‘not being worthy of love.’

My husband and I were thankful to be able to help our friends through this bump in their marriage. Newly married ourselves, we were able to see not only what havoc could be caused from holding onto a secret or secret(s); but also, what beautiful freedom and victory comes from sharing in truth.

Let me be honest, my girlfriend suffered immensely from her husbands mistakes. She endured an emotional ride that brought her to a place of incredible emptiness and loneliness. She battled through decisions such as whether or not to stay; or to leave. She beat herself up for even finding herself in a place to have to make such decisions. She blamed herself. She got angry at him. And, she found herself feeling ashamed and asking God why or how He could ever allow such pain and suffering to enter her life or her marriage.

This post is not about pornography. This post is about the valuable lesson that my dear friend and her spouse exemplified during their days spent in ‘the valley’.

A journey was to be had; the process of healing was not a quick or painless one. These dear friends however made up their minds to seek counsel and to restore that which God had called them to: their life-long commitment to marriage.

There were undoubtedly rough days in their journey. Days of silence. Days of intensity. Days of facing head-on their struggles and hurt. God blessed their efforts to seek restoration and soon the healing came. Love and joy began to grow and strangle the pain and hurt that once took those places in their hearts. Romance and passion resumed and forgiveness ultimately completed the healing they so desperately sought.

They suffered through some hard times, friends. But they chose to suffer knowing that God’s healing and glory would come. “Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later.(Romans 8:18)

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Are you facing a situation, particularly with your spouse, which you are having difficulty forgiving, or finding the will to seek restoration? Ask The Lord to help you with this. He won’t leave you for even a moment (yes, even during the pain and suffering!). Allow Him to walk you through the valley, so that you may reach a time of extravagant victory; a time when His magnificence will be revealed in you.

Father God, thank You for the times You have designed for us to spend in the valley; for times where we may experience Your growth and healing. Thank You for the promise that we do not have to dwell in these places; that our future us bright with hope for tomorrows that will not harm us. (Jeremiah 29:11) Thank You, that You never leave us, nor forsake us. (1 Kings 8:57) Thank You for the hope that the suffering we may endure will be nothing compared to the glory that You will reveal in us. (Romans 8:18) We pray these things in Your name, Jesus, Amen.

{Marriage} Pillow talk.

Written by: Mandy Hill

Oh, how I wish you would kiss me passionately! For your lovemaking is more delightful than wine. (‭Song of Solomon‬ ‭1‬:‭2‬)

Imagine an exquisite flower that flourishes and grows only if kept safety of it’s appropriate environment; like a greenhouse. Within the borders of it’s greenhouse, this beautiful flower sparkles and thrives. If however, the flower is taken away from it’s greenhouse it begins to wither up and the beauty it once had is much less recognizable.

Sex is like that exquisite flower; it’s greenhouse, a marriage. If kept within the borders of marriage sex is unimaginably beautiful. If however, sex is taken to a place outside of marriage, the beauty that God intended for sex begins to wither and fade.

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God wants for us to enjoy our husbands caresses, to desire for his arms around us and to take comfort, joy and strength from our sexual relationship. So what happens when sex, within a marriage is unenjoyable?

If you have been enduring sex rather than enjoying it, you need to talk with your husband about it. (Not anyone else, him) Is there an underlying problem in your marriage that needs to be addressed? Is there unresolved issues or guilt from your past that is choking out your pleasure? Perhaps one or both of you have anxiety about possibly conceiving before planned? Are there things you could do differently, or unmet expectations? When you talk openly about your sex life (with the one that God intended for you to share it with); intimacy will most definitely flourish.

Sexual intimacy is something that God created for us to enjoy- so enjoy it, sister! If something is standing in the way of you enjoying this area of your marriage- pull up a pillow and talk!

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Heavenly Father, thank You for the blessing of enjoying a sexual relationship with our husband. I pray that You will shine light on anything that could be choking out the pleasures that You intended for this type of relationship and instead show us the ways in which we can protect and flourish our intimacy together. In Jesus name, Amen.

{Marriage} Two is better than one.

Written by: Mandy Hill

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God said, “It’s not good for the Man to be alone; I’ll make him a helper, a companion.” (Genesis 2:18)

My husband knows ‘the real me’ better than anyone else I know. He knows my good, he knows my great, he knows my ugly. And …..he loves me still.

He knows that when situations get tough or overwhelming – I withdraw. This has been especially true over the last several months.. My pregnancy with Grayson, premature delivery, NICU stay, post-partum blues, and the months that have followed with middle-of-the-night feeds and many foggy days. It’s been a lot.

The ‘downs’ have truly been plentiful lately. I have come to realize tonight how trying to deal with my feelings internally is severing the very opportunity for my husband to hold me up; be the companion that my gracious God designed him to be to me.

Of course he wants to be the one who provides companionship, it’s not good for us to be alone. The bible says so!!

My husband was and is dealing with the very similar things (minus the labor & delivery, of course)…..and we are blessed to not have to ‘go it alone’ because we have each other to lean on through it all. “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 4:12

I believe The Lord has reminded me tonight just how much strength is found in being unified with each other; most importantly with him. Certainly something I know to be true but easily forget when the storm around me rages and I revert to those tendencies to withdraw.

How do you deal with life’s storms? Do you withdraw, like myself? Do you reach out to your spouse? Let’s truly seek comfort in each other and embrace the peace that God wants to bring to calm your storm. Let’s endeavour to journey through life as a triple-braided cord, not a single thread; for we know a triple braided cord is not easily broken.

Jesus, thank You for my husband and his desire to reach out during life’s storms. Continue to show me, Lord, just how valuable it is to have his hand to hold me up. How blessed I am to be a member of a triple-braided cord. I pray for my sisters who are trying to wage their storms alone- remind them that they can find strength and power in being unified, and that it does not make them weak to face life’s troubles together. I pray for a constant reminder of this, for my sisters and for myself. I know that when life gets overwhelming the enemy tries really hard to make us forget this truth. Bless our marriages this very moment. In your precious name, Amen.

{Marriage} Words Matter.

By: Mandy Hill

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. Ephesians 4:29

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The more comfortable you become with someone, the easier it is to hurt them with your words. Weighing your words before you speak them is more important than we often realize.

Marriage is one of the most intimate relationships that you can have. As such, in our comfort perhaps we speak without thought, insensitively, more obtuse. Weighing our words before we speak them to our spouse doesn’t mean we need to be artificial or dishonest. Instead, by weighing our words, we are simply guarding the heart of the one that God has chosen for us to love more intimately than anyone else in our lives here on earth.

How do you weigh words?!

Here are a few questions to ask yourself that will help you weigh your words before you speak them:

1) Are you angry?
Oftentimes with closeness, we can very quickly play on each other’s nerves. Has something your spouse said or done made you angry? Don’t speak while you’re angry. Don’t let any corrupt talk leave your lips. Do what you need to do to calm down, then wisely choose the words you will speak; and speak them in love.

2) Are your words going to build your spouse up or encourage them?
There are far too many outside sources that will tear your spouse down and/or discourage them. Show your spouse you value your relational position and choose to speak life over them whenever you have an opportunity.

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3) Are you listening?
Sometimes we just need to be a safe place. Sometimes the wisest words we can speak are the words we don’t speak at all. Sometimes, what we simply need to do is nod our head and offer grace. For some, this is easy. For others this takes intentional effort. Either way, listening is just as important as speaking.

Life is too short to dwell on words spoken harshly or without thought. Learn the art of speaking (and listening) in love, so that you don’t find yourself in a place of regret.

Jesus, thank You so much for the wisdom found in Your word. I pray that we can learn the art of speaking and listening in love, encouraging, and building up our spouse. Please help us to learn to speak wisely, always remembering just how much words truly matter. In Your name, amen.

{Marriage} Move over, Mrs Jones.

By: Mandy Hill

For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with gratitude; (1 Timothy 4:4)

When my husband Nathan and I got married I truly believed that if I kept our home clean, cooked him delicious home-cooked meals every night and kept his dress shirts pressed, that those tasks would make me a good wife. While cleaning was never an issue, I truly struggled with the cooking. I burned e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g; even water. Haha. My good intentions often ended with a blackened pot and a billow of smoke. Failure to be good at these expectations of myself, really did a work on my self-confidence.

You see, this failure to meet my own expectations had me doubting I was a good enough wife for Nathan. I grew up with a mom that made cooking delicious meals look SO easy, she served my father very well; and here I was completely insufficient to serve my husband in the same way. There was a period of time in our marriage that was pretty rough because I doubted my ability to be good enough for Nathan and feared he would leave as a result of my insufficiencies.

Over the years I have learned two very powerful truths:
1) Comparing my abilities and/or inabilities to others is not healthy. The only thing I gain from doing this is more insecurities.
2) My worth is not measured by my husband, it is measured by my Heavenly Father. I could do all the dishes on the planet, iron every fibre of linen that was ever spun into existence and cook the most beautifully extravagant meals….but if I do not live a life devoted to loving like Christ first loved me, I have nothing.

So….it is no longer what tasks I can master that makes me good enough for my husband; it’s my willingness to love him like Jesus. And, because of Jesus and His love for me, I am good enough.

Sister, YOU are good enough. Don’t waste hours of precious time to pour out love on your spouse by trying to keep up with “Mrs. Jones!” Just love like Jesus loves. Sacrificially, genuinely, passionately, wholeheartedly, and unconditionally.

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Jesus, thank You. Thank You for loving us first with the most incredibly radical love that has ever been shown. Thank You that we don’t have to be awesome at cleaning, cooking and ironing in order to be a ‘good’ wife. Thank You that Your word reminds us that it was You who created us, and everything You have created is good. Jesus, I pray for my sisters who are struggling in their marriages right now, not because of a marriage gone bad; but because they do not feel they measure up to other wives. Please flood their hearts with the truth that You have made them fearfully and wonderfully. YOU have created them; and that alone makes them good enough. Please bring peace to their minds and calmness to their spirits this very moment, in Jesus name. Amen.

{Marriage} Balance.

By: Mandy Hill

“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” (Ephesians 5:15-17)

Earlier today my husband asked if I would give him a hand cleaning our garage. After a weekend of birthday party celebrations, silly string wars, a grocery shopping trip, and of course the Christmas decorating……it is needing some real attention.

We made a plan that after dinner, baths, and a game with the kids, we would head out and get the job done. However, the sum total of the work I put into my day, and all those things I mentioned above left me feeling too weary to complete the task.

“I’m sorry, I just can’t do it tonight” I said, pleading with my husband to understand.

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As I rattled off exactly what I did today in an attempt to justify my weariness, I actually surprised myself. While I accomplished many things, my list of accomplishments did not include: a shower, a change of clothes, or even brushed teeth (ick)……and here it was already 7:45pm.

My job as a Mommy is exactly where I want to be; exactly where I am called. Sometimes I get so wrapped up in being a Mommy that I forget what it means to be a woman, wife and friend.

Can you relate, friend?

I take my role as Ben, Sophia, Spencer & Grayson’s Mommy very seriously. I also take my role as Nathan’s wife seriously, but sadly it oftentimes takes a back burner to my role as Mommy. I believe it’s so important to keep both roles properly balanced.

“So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.” Psalm 90:12

By allowing ourselves to step out of our Mommy-roles for a few hours a week, we are blessing both ourselves and our children with some breathing space and time to be refreshed. Everyone operates better when they are refreshed. Whether you take a walk after dinner and your hubby can play with the kids, or you have a relative/friend watch the kids for a few hours so you and your hubby can have a little date- allow yourself that important time.

Your role as Mommy will be waiting at the door when you return; I guarantee it.

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Jesus, Thank You for reminding me to keep balance in my roles. I pray for wisdom in making wise choices with my time; always following the pathway of your will. In Jesus name, amen.

{Marriage} The joyful pastor’s wife.

By: Sarah Oates-Walker

When I became engaged to my now-husband, he was serving as the lead pastor of a church. I prayed to God, asking Him, “What am I possibly going to bring into this ministry?” My husband is gifted in so many areas: he is an incredible teacher, he has a talent for leading others into worship, he is excellent at communicating with others, he has a prophetic gifting, he is incredibly wise, and in my opinion, is a truly wonderful pastor!

As a newer Christian at the time, with seemly no gifting, I felt inadequate to step into the “pastor’s wife” role.

In that moment, as I prayed, I felt like God said to me, “If you were to do nothing else for me, give up your husband in pure joy!”

In the beginning, I thought, “That’s pretty easy!” At that time, our church congregation was small, very loving, and wonderfully supportive.

As we continued on in ministry, I had the pleasure of meeting many different pastor’s wives. So many of them were beautiful inside and out, with God’s love and grace shining through their very presence. Everything in me admires them and longs to be like them!

Then, there were a handful that I met who were bitter, angry and resentful – down on ministry, distrustful of church people, and resentful of the Church.

It has become my goal to never be that pastor’s wife!

As the seasons changed, and as we stepped into new ministry positions, I started to understand those bitter and angry pastor’s wives. Sometimes it can be hard to love the Church when you feel like you are continually giving up your husband with little tangible reward or appreciation.

Like many, my husband works all through the week from 9-5, but then also many nights, weekends and holidays. We have set boundaries as to how much he will be out of the house each week, but unexpected crises do arise. When they do, his normal 2-3 nights out a week can easily become 5-6 nights away from our family. He has missed several holidays (even a thanksgiving), our son’s first birthday party, he has even dropped off his super-pregnant wife and infant daughter at our vacation rental to then drive an additional 5 hours in order to deal with a pastoral crisis that could not wait, as they sometimes cannot. Every time, we decide together that these decisions are the right choices to make for the sake of caring for our flock, but it doesn’t always mean that I feel joyful about them.

In one season of ministry, I was challenged to be my husband’s sole encourager, when all was hearing from people was criticism and complaints. On Sunday mornings, I would hear wonderful genuine compliments about the job he was doing. I would encourage them to tell him, to encourage him, but very few ever took the time to let him know. It wasn’t until our last Sunday at this particular church that everyone came forward with something wonderful to say. My husband told me afterwards that he had heard more encouragements on that one Sunday morning than during the entire 5 years we had been there, by far!

There are times it can be very hard to be a joyful pastor’s wife. This is when God’s words became so real to me” “If you were to do nothing else for me, give up your husband in pure joy!” There are times when it is easy to give up my husband in pure joy, and other times that it is not! Sometimes, in the moment, it would be really easy to remain angry, hurt and annoyed.

However, in the hard times, I have to choose joy, and when I choose joy, it becomes easier to love the criticizers and complainers, it is easier to release my husband to take care of others who are going through difficult times, it is easier to take my eyes off myself and onto the congregation God has entrusted to us.

Not only does choosing joy affect me, but it also gives my husband the freedom to love and care for his church – he does not have to feel divided.

Ministry challenges will be different for each of us, but choosing joy is always good for the heart!

{Marriage} I am not a failure.

By: Mandy Hill

I met my husband Nathan the summer after I graduated from high school. In the fall he began his fourth (final) year of of his BSc and I began my first or freshman year of my BComm; at neighbouring universities!

We were fast friends. While our friendship was growing we would often meet at a central location between our school’s campuses and share lunch or breakfast….we fell in love over those times together. Getting to know each other, gazing into each other’s eyes. I was beginning to feel like I was on top of the world.

Halt…….I started getting marks back from midterms, papers, etc. C’s?? What in the world was this?? Didn’t these professors read my high school transcript? I was at the top, people!!! All A’s! You can’t give me C’s, this isn’t right. Unfortunately, I allowed those initial marks to determine my worth for the remainder of my time spent attending that university.

At the end of my second semester I was actually placed on academic probation for my marks in one particular class. This was devastating to me and I don’t think I ever truly recovered. I did enter my second year, but faded out after my third semester. After coming away from high school, at the top of my class….to this?? I felt like I had lost something. Did I mention my husband is incredibly smart?? Like first class honours, university medal kinda smart? That didn’t help….

Not only did I let myself down, I now had this amazingly smart fiancé who I didn’t feel I belonged with anymore…..I felt like I wasn’t good enough and that he had two campuses full of incredibly smart, amazing women that would be a much better match for him.

Fiancé? Yes, the night before the last exam I ever wrote at that university, my husband purposed to me! It was December 7, 2003.

Oh sisters, I struggled. My fiancé and my parents were so wonderful during that time. They affirmed their love for me, encouraged me, told me my marks were not going to determine my intellect or my worth….

I went to work full time after Christmas. My fiancé and I decided to get married on July 10, 2004. The next six months were spent planning and prepping for our big day. Shortly after we were married we moved out of the city into a town where my husband was hired into full time youth ministry.

After a year of being unemployed and falling deeper into the pit of self-doubt I received a phone call. The man on the other end confirmed that my employment insurance was running out…but that because I did not have a degree or trade, that I qualified for a program with the government that would allow me to go back to school.

I went through so many emotions…..A second chance!!!; I can’t do it; But I’m married now…is that even ok? I’m not smart enough….

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Well, sisters. It took all I had in me, but I went to that meeting. After much prayer and petitioning with The Lord I registered for nursing. I walked into that college with my shoulders slumped and my head down. But, it was in that place and that very time that I knew I was exactly where God wanted me to be. He used those years to help put back the pieces of my heart’s hurts. He healed the pain of my failures.

….and I walked out of that college with my shoulders back, my head held high, my diploma in hand, and as the valedictorian for the 2007 graduating class! When Jesus restores, he doesn’t go halfway! He gave me something far more valuable to me than improved marks; he renewed my hope in a bright tomorrow.

I am not a failure. And neither are you.

Dear heavenly and gracious Father! Thank You that You are a God that restores hope. Thank You for blessing me with restoration even though I felt like the very last person who ever deserved it. For my sisters who are out there struggling with the weight of a failure, Jesus, I pray that you will lift that off their shoulders and pour Your hope into their soul. Give them strength to move forward and allow them to see their worth in You. Thank You for being a wonderful God, who cares so much and truly gives the very best. I love You! In Jesus name, Amen.