April Motl is a pastor’s wife who loves to laugh, loves her man, loves to talk on the phone entirely too long and most of all, loves her Lord. Collaborating with the efforts of her husband Eric, the two of them share a ministry dedicated to bringing God’s Word into the everyday lives of married couples, men and women. April has been privileged through her own church and ministry outside her local body to share God's Word with women ranging in ages and stages, across denominations, and walks of life. April is a graduate from Southern California Seminary and has written for Just Between Us Magazine, Dayspring's (In)courage, and The Secret Place and also writes regularly for crosswalk.com, iBelieve.com and Women's Ministry Tools. For more information, visit Motl Ministries at: www.MotlMinistries.com
February Freebies post #1-- Check back each day in February for fun freebies!
Make the Word Go Away (marriage article) & Valentine Free Fun at the bottom of the post
I’d been a really long, hard, over-full day. If memory serves me right it was near Christmas when life overflows with hustle and bustle. I was cleaning up the kitchen after a church gathering and I was dog tired. In our quirky family, we have a goofy habit of singing loudly and off key as a stress reliever (you really should try it sometime - wink, wink!). So, in my silly way I was singing at the kitchen sink while my hubby tidied the living room. I started singing “Make the World Go Away” in a way that would make just about anyone listening want to go away. Well, my husband whipped out his phone and recorded my crooning! Of course he didn’t let me know what he’d done right away - he waited until an opportune, semi-public moment.
It’s been a few years, but that man still has it on his phone and giggles like a little boy when he pulls it out once in a blue moon for someone to hear.
The story makes me a laugh, but there’s a ring of truth deeper than a little silliness or embarrassment. In our marriages we all need to “make the world go away and get it off” each other shoulders. That’s the specialness of the intimacy of romance and marriage - the feeling that the rest of the world just sort of melts away for a little while when you share something close, sweet and heart to heart.
When you first fall in love it doesn’t take a lot of effort to “make the world go away.” But after you’ve been married a while, life has a rude way of cutting into your romance. There’s responsibilities, disappointments, set-backs, bills to pay, babies to tend and work that drains our energy for one another. It’s hard to “make the world go away” for your spouse when you feel so caught up in it yourself!
There are four actions you can regularly implement in your life to help you get off the treadmill of going-going-going and get back into that sweet spot of love and closeness in your marriage.
S - sexual intimacy. Notice I didn’t just say “sex.” Life gets crazy and sometimes the seasons of life make it immensely hard to find time for this important aspect of your marriage. But, even if the demands of life don’t allow you to find each other in the bedroom before you start snoring you can make an effort to say or do something that makes your honey’s spine tingle! Make an effort to be intimate every day. Whisper a little something in his ear, send her a text to make her knees melt. Make an effort daily to connect with your spouse on this level.
"So do not deprive each other of sexual relations. The only exception to this rule would be the agreement of both husband and wife to refrain from sexual intimacy for a limited time, so they can give themselves more completely to prayer." 1 Corinthians 7:5 NLT
The apostle Paul said this part of your marriage was so crucial it should only be put on hold when you are setting aside devoted prayer time. Is that the only reason you press pause on sexual intimacy in your marriage?
T - talk. Take at least 20 minutes every day to talk to each other. All the successful marriages we’ve witnessed did this - even when the kids were little. The minute Daddy came home, Mommy and Daddy took time out on the porch or in a certain room and told the rest of the family it was their special time. Mom put the timer on so the kids knew when it was OK to come bounding in to see Daddy. For us, right when my man walks in the door usually isn’t the best time to chat - especially when things have been stressful at work. He needs a little time to wind down and sort through the events of the day before talking about them. Whether it’s right when you both get home or another time of day, or if you’ve got kids or not, make talking to each other a daily priority.
O - offer. Each day offer to do something helpful, supportive or just plain sweet for your spouse. Start the morning off by asking your husband if there is something you could do for him during the course of the day that would be supportive. Check in with your wife and see if she needs anything from the store on your way home. Offer to clean the kitchen, rub your honey’s shoulders or feet or just beat him or her to one of her daily chores. Be a blessing. Stop life long enough to do at least one thing to serve each other daily.
"Serve one another in love." Galatians 5:13 NIV
P - pray together. Couples who pray together, stay together! This is perhaps the most important of things mentioned in this list to stop and do together as a couple. The stats I’ve heard make a startling statement about the power of praying together - couples who pray together daily (and not just grace before eating) have a divorce rate of less than 1%. I have a few guesses as to why praying together is so important.
First, praying together safeguards the heart of your marriage by keeping God at the center. Prayer is worship, thanksgiving, asking for forgiveness, and also asking God for help and blessing. When we engage in prayer together we are saying in one accord, “You are our God, not us individually or us as a couple, not our wants or wishes, not our careers or even our kids. You alone are our God!” The distractions of life pull at the throne of our hearts - prayer safeguards it.
Secondly, when we honestly come before our Father together as a couple, we get a peek into our spouse’s heart. Sometimes we might misunderstand something about our spouse, or not see how invested they are in something pertaining to our marriage or an individual matter. I’ve thought my husband really didn’t care that much about something I was working on and then heard him pray the most touching, sweet petitions of blessing over my efforts and just hearing how he saw my labors, how they mattered to him and then to hear him bring them before our Father absolutely changed my perception of how we were working together as a team.
Lastly, true, honest prayer requires a humble heart. God pours out His grace on His humble children (1 Peter 5:5). If there’s anything that could work as marriage glue, I’m thinking God’s grace is the ticket!
Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving. Colossians 4:2 NAS
When you were a kid, you probably remember being taught about the dangers of running if your clothes accidentally caught fire. Running might be the instinct, but it would cost you your skin if not your life. If you did find your clothes on fire, you were supposed to stop, drop and roll. In our marriages we sometimes find ourselves a little burned by life or by each other, or perhaps we are just plain “toasted” and tired. It might be your instinct to run, or turn on the T.V or hit the mall or any number of escapes. But it might cost you and yours more than you expect. No matter where we find ourselves, there’s isn’t a day that goes by that our marriages don’t need us to STOP everything else and nurture the love, romance and delight God designed to be the beauty of marriage.
Fun Valentine Freebie idea:
So today's freebie isn't from Motl Ministries, but it was such a fun idea, I just had to pass it along :) Compile a list of words that describes your sweetheart, use your marriage vows or create a list of things you're thankful for about your honey and visit the website: http://www.tagxedo.com/app.html
Upload your set of words to the site, choose your colors, theme, shapes and all and then save your image. You can even make a gift for your honey for Valentine's :) Too fun right? Below is a word-picture I made for my man of qualities I am thankful about in him. Enjoy :)