What Do I Do?

Marriage Monday

 

Mark: When I was a kid, I remember vividly going to a State Park with my mom and step-dad. I ventured out on a path, took a few turns, and ended up lost. I was freaking out trying to find my way back to my family and I couldn’t find the right path home. Finally, I rounded a big set of trees and there was my mom who had been looking for me.

Jill: Sometimes life is like that. We venture out, take a few right turns and then a few wrong turns and end up at a place we don’t expect.

Mark: I was recently texting with a friend of mine who has been struggling in his marriage. “Praying for you, my brother. I’m praying about whose path you are on. Are you on His path or your own?” His response, “Wouldn’t know, Mark. His path isn’t working and I’m walking it alone and my path is getting me nowhere.” I responded, “His path always works…but you have to surrender to Him…that is how it works. Our flesh always fights His path.”

Jill: Our flesh is a powerful enemy and will always fight God’s path. An unsurrendered heart is fueled by the hurts of our past and by our own selfish desires. Our flesh—doing things our way instead of God’s way– will always lead us to ruin and ultimately death. Maybe not a physical death, but the death of relationships, of dreams, of accomplishments, and even of our own character and integrity.

Mark: Romans 8: 5-7 NIV says it this way, “Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires, but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so.”

Mark: I definitely understand now more than ever the control my flesh can have. It was my flesh that led to my infidelity. It is my flesh that causes me to think selfishly or pridefully. I’ve come to understand that, for me, my flesh is fueled by unrealistic expectations, desires, anger, wanting the easy button, and a desire to run away when things get hard. All of this doesn’t go away without a spiritual fight and without resolve to do what’s right rather than what I feel like doing. The strength and courage for resolve are found fully in surrender. Waving the white flag that says, “Your way, God, not mine.”

Jill: My flesh can raise up so easily, too. When I’m tempted to be think of myself before Mark, when I’m tempted to blame rather than accept responsibility. When I’m tempted to choose anger instead of forgiveness. That’s when I know I have to get back on the right path of surrender.  More of God…less of me.

Mark: Are you asking “what do I do?” Is God whispering direction to you, but you want other options? When we surrender to God, it is then that we find life and peace. It’s then that relationships flourish or can begin to heal. It will likely feel backwards than the direction our world screams. But surrender is still the right path. It will move us from the wrong path and help us find our way home.

What fuels your flesh? Where in your marriage do you need to raise the white flag of surrender and move from the wrong path you’re on to the right path God wants you to be on?

New Years Eve and did we miss you?

So tomorrow is New Year’s Eve. Tonight Erica listed off the multiple invitations she and Kendall received to New Year’s Eve parties and then asked if we could care for  our granddaughter, Marie, for the night. Mark looked at me and said, “So Jill, how many invitations did we get to New Year’s Eve parties tomorrow night?” I responded the same way I did last year, “Zero. Nada. Not a one.”

Honestly, I’m a little over one week out from shoulder surgery so I’m really not up for socializing. And the introvert in me is pretty happy to stay home most of the time. The human in me, however, can still feel lonely, uninvited, or left out. 

In this world of social media, it’s very easy to see all kinds of pictures on Facebook of people attending parties and playing games while you sit home with no plans. Of course, you and I can do the inviting…but that’s another post for another day.

Let’s face it, it’s nice to BE invited every once in a while. It’s also nice to know you’re not the only one who didn’t get an invite.

And it’s always nice to know you’re not alone. That’s what I wanted to share with you today. No big words of wisdom. No simple steps to make things different. Just “I get it and I want you to know that.”

I’m also reminding myself, and you, that our value is not based upon whether we receive an invitation to a New Years Eve party or any other event. Our value is based upon the God who created us. His invitation to have a personal relationship with HIM is the only invitation that matters! RSVP that invite and you’re set for life…and eternity! Let’s keep the main thing the main thing today!

Oh and one more thing before I sign off tonight: Did you sign up for the No More Perfect Marriages Launch Team and then never hear from us? Please let me know if that happened to you! We’ve had some technical difficulties and didn’t receive some of the applications. If you applied and didn’t hear from us, reply to this email and let me know! We still have room for you!

Happy New Year!

Is Your College Student Home For Winter Break?

If you’ve been hanging around here for very long, you know that I’m an advocate for setting realistic expectations. Our unrealistic expectations breed disappointment, discouragement, and disillusionment. Today’s guest post helps with expectations for parents of college students.

Kelly Radi is the author of Out to Sea: A Parents’ Survival Guide to the Freshman Voyage. A mom of two daughters who went from diapers to diplomas in a nano-second, Kelly empowers parents as they prepare to launch their children. You can find her online at outtoseaparentsguide.com.

If you don’t have college students, do you know someone who does that could use these wise words?

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Winter break is here. It’s the time of year when parents eagerly anticipate their college students returning home. They have visions of sugar plums and expectations of Norman Rockwell-like family moments—gathering around the fireplace, playing games, telling stories and eating popcorn.

They will be disappointed.

Holiday break is often the first time students return home for an extended period of time and parents are often shocked and disappointed when their expectations are not met. Whether your child has been home several prior weekends or if you haven’t seen him or her since move-in day, be prepared for a change. The student you dropped off in August will not be the same one who returns home for the holidays.

Students mature and and develop new habits once they leave home. Winter break will be a more positive experience for all parties involved (including siblings) if parents know what to expect before their students arrive home for holiday break:

  1. Your child will come home tired. Expect him to sleep a lot.
  2. Your child will come home hungry. Expect her to eat a lot.
  3. Your child will come home with piles of dirty laundry. Expect your washing machine to run a lot.
  4. Your child is used to having alone time. Expect his need for space.
  5. Your child is used to having social time. Expect her to want to see her friends.
  6. Your child is self-sufficient and able to manage his own schedule. Expect him to want some autonomy.
  7. Your child will come home eager to let you know how smart, evolved, and worldly she has become. Expect to be challenged a lot.

For some parents, the hardest part about a child being home on break is that he doesn’t seem to be home at all. In fact, this disappearing act is quite common, especially among first-year college students.

It never hurts to remind your child that family living requires mutual respect and some give-and-take. Then, as parents, we must also remember to heed our own advice. Compromise and communication are key to a cohesive winter break with your college student!

 

What about you? What wisdom do you have for parents navigating winter break with a college student? 

It’s a New Season!

If you hang out on Facebook, you might have noticed I’ve been a little more active with daily Facebook LIVE videos. I’ve also been posting more often on my blog. There’s a good reason for those changes and it’s one I’m very excited to share with you!

jill-speakingGod’s really been impressing on me the need to give my greatest time and energy to the things I do best. He’s been impressing on my heart to let go of the day to day leadership as the CEO of Hearts at Home so I can do more of what I love: writing, teaching, and speaking! So I’m now getting ready for a new season of bringing even more encouragement to you!  

Over the past 23 years of serving as the CEO, God has brought together an incredible team of leaders who have been handling the details of customer service, conference production, and staying in touch between conferences. They will continue doing what they do best so I can do what I do best!  

I’m not going anywhere when it comes to the Hearts at Home conferences. I’ll still be there! I will continue on in a Founder relationship in whatever ways the organization needs, so you’ll still see me around both online and in person (if you join us at one of our 2017 events)! 

pre-order-nmpma-blog-graphicWith the upcoming release of No More Perfect Marriages, Mark and I are already getting more requests to speak together. We’re in the process of creating some new marriage resources I can’t wait to share with you over the coming months (if you’re not already on my email list, you can sign up below to stay in the loop!). I’m also continuing to speak more and more on No More Perfect Moms, No More Perfect Kids, and Better Together too. As I have already begun the transition out of leading the organization, I am no longer feeling pulled in too many different directions! I can BREATHE!

I’m very excited to see what God has in store for the future. While He’s still showing us what the next season looks like, and who the next Hearts at Home CEO will be (we’ll begin a search in the Spring), what I do know is that both Hearts at Home and I will be here for you in even bigger ways than before. That’s a win-win all around!

Because we’re a family here on the blog and at Hearts at Home, I wanted you to hear this from me. I’ve been leading, teaching, speaking, and writing for 23 years. Now it’s time to live out more fully my heart’s desire to equip and encourage moms, families, and marriages to be the best they can be!  

The Power of Grace

img_7047Mark: Jill had a rough day last Wednesday. She couldn’t sleep and so she got up in the night and decided to do a few things to the blog she’d been wanting to get done.

Jill: I know just enough HTML code to get myself in trouble…and I did just that.  I researched a change I wanted to make, cut and pasted the code to make the change, and took the whole blog down! If you got the blog post last week about joining the No More Perfect Marriages launch team and then tried to submit the form, you likely got an error!

Mark: She was so frustrated with herself. I tried to be compassionate and reassure her in the midst of her frustration, but there wasn’t much I could do for her except pray. I did that throughout the day.

Jill: Our daughter Anne could be called our “webmaster” and she worked throughout the day to get the blog up and going again. We were so grateful for her help. Somewhere around 3pm she finally got it back online! I was so relieved!  Just a few hours before, though, God had really tugged on my heart about the need to give myself grace. God gives us grace, which is undeserved mercy. We have to learn to give both others and ourselves grace when things go awry in this imperfect life. Grace is when we accept ourselves as a human who make mistakes.

Mark: Sometimes the hardest person to forgive and extend grace to is ourselves. Yet it so important to do so when we get things wrong….and we will get things wrong!

Jill: What meant the most to me last Wednesday, though, was knowing that Mark was caring, compassionate, and praying for me. His support–without lecture–was a balm to my frustrated heart.

Mark: Of course, I did want to FIX IT, but that just wasn’t possible. There wasn’t anything I could do. And Jill was frustrated enough with herself that reminding her that she should leave the coding to the professionals wasn’t going to be helpful in that moment.

Jill: With this situation fresh in our minds, here are some guidelines for navigating things well when a spouse messes up:

  • Offer words of encouragement. Remind him/her that they’re human and not perfect. Be empathetic with their frustration.
  • Resist sayings anything that is corrective. It’s not the right time.  Keep.Your.Mouth.Shut unless it’s kind, caring, or compassionate.
  • Pray. And let your spouse know you’re praying. If you’re both comfortable, pray aloud for your spouse. This moves both of your eyes from the mountain to the Mountain Mover.

Mark: The best part of Jill’s mistake is that we’re extending the time to sign up for the No More Perfect Marriages launch team to this Wednesday and WE NEED YOU!  We’re looking for both individuals and couples.  We need everyday people who just want to take their marriage to the next level. You don’t have to be on every social media outlet. Your spouse doesn’t have to participate, but is welcome to if he or she wants to. Need the details?  You’ll find them HERE as well as the form to submit!

What about you? Of the three steps above, which one do you need to work on most when your spouse messes up?  Would you consider being part of the launch team? 

WE NEED YOU on the No More Perfect Launch Team!

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When we think back to five years ago, there was so much pain in our marriage. Sometimes, however, the best things in life come out of the worst situations.

Honestly, that’s the beauty of God’s redeeming work in our life. He brings about beauty from ashes (Isaiah 61:1-3), if we’ll let Him do his best work through the cracks in our lives.

That’s what we feel about the No More Perfect Marriages book and accompanying FREE video series which will both be available on February 1.

Many of you have been a part of our journey from broken to restored over the past five years. You’ve watched first-hand the power of God’s redemptive work. Some of you are just now learning about our story and this new resource. Regardless of when you’ve joined our journey, we want YOU to be part of spreading the hope to others!

Will you be a part of the No More Perfect Marriages Launch Team?

We need you. YOU can make a difference in marriages. Would you be willing to take the No More Perfect Marriages journey and then share it with someone else?  Both individuals and couples can be part of the launch team.

As a launch team member, you will get an advance digital copy of the book, No More Perfect Marriages, access to a private online study of the book during the months of January and February, access to a private Facebook group, and a few more fun surprises!

As a member of the launch team, we ask that you:

  • Read the electronic copy of the book and participate in the online Facebook study (if you’re not on Facebook, you can still be part of the launch team but you’ll just not be able to be part of the discussions)
  • Spread the word on your social media channels and in your sphere of influence (small groups, one-on-one conversations, moms groups, men’s groups, etc)
  • Write and share a blog post about what you’re learning from No More Perfect Marriages (if you’re a blogger)
  • Leave an honest review on at least three book seller’s website (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, CBD, Goodreads, Family Christian Stores, etc.)
  • Interact with the launch team community in January and February and off and on through May (we are planning to release some additional No More Perfect Marriages accompanying resources later in the Spring and we’d like you to be some of the first to know of and spread the word about some of those!)

Is this something you’d like to be part of? Simply complete the form below by December 14th. The launch team will be limited to around 300 people, so please don’t wait (if both you and your spouse want to be part of the team, please have each of you fill out the form). There’s a lot of excitement about this real, raw, relateable resource that will be help good marriages become great and hurting marriages find hope and healing. 

We love hanging out with you in the blog and social media world and we are excited about the possibility of partnering with you to make a difference in marriages all over the world!

 

It’s getting exciting!

Mark: This past Friday, Jill and I had the privilege of making group curriculum videos for the No More Perfect Marriages book. We decided to turn our renovated kitchen into a video studio to share about our renovated marriage.  We’re so excited to share this book and it’s accompanying resources with you!

Jill: It was a long day of filming, but we’re hoping the videos will be useful for couples to watch together as well as a small groups and moms groups and men’s groups to use as a group study.

Mark: The book will be out February 1, but if you enjoy Marriage Mondays, and you’re excited about No More Perfect Marriages, you can become a part of the launch team! On Wednesday, we’ll be opening up 300 spots on the book launch team!  We’ll share more info on Wednesday, but we wanted to give you a heads up to think about whether you and/or you and your spouse would like to be on the launch team.

img_3139Jill: The launch team will read a pdf copy of the book and participate in an online discussion via Facebook (if you don’t do Facebook, you can still be on the launch team–you just won’t be part of the book discussions), and then all we want you to do is share (on social media, on your blog–if you have one, or just in one-on-one conversations) any part of the book that is encouraging you/challenging you/moving you to a different place in your marriage.

Mark: Be thinking and praying about this. We anticipate the 300 spots will fill up quickly so that’s why we wanted to give you a heads up.

Jill: I hope we do a blooper reel from our recording day. There were some hilarious moments when words just didn’t come out the way they were supposed to!

Mark: With us preparing for these videos, getting ready to form the launch team, and putting finishing touches on the book, you have been very much on our mind. We want nothing more than to help good marriages become great and hurting marriages to find healing. We’d love to know if there is any way we can be praying for you and your marriage. If so, please let us know either in the comments or in an email at jillsavagespeaking (at) heartsathome.org.

Jill: And please be praying about being part of the launch team. We need you!

TODAY ONLY: $5 off $15 Amazon Book

I love to both give and receive books and because I’m a living with less girl, I also love to pass along a good deal.

I just learned that Amazon is offering $5 off any print book purchase of $15 or more by simply using the promo code: GIFTBOOK.  Today (Sunday) is the last day for this deal so I’ll be taking advantage of it for some Christmas gifts and I wanted to make sure you knew about it too!

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If you’re thinking about picking up a copy of No More Perfect Marriages when it comes out, you can go ahead and pre-order it and use this coupon! (The book under $15 so you’ll need to package it with another book purchase.)

If you’re looking to purchase for a special mom in your life, you can also check out my Hearts at Home books!

While we’re talking about books, here are some of my favorite reads this year:

Necessary Endings by Henry Cloud
How We Love by Milan and Kay Yerkovich (I read it at least once a year!)
Invitation to Silence and Solitude by Ruth Haley Barton
8 Simple Tools for Raising Great Kids by Dr. Todd Cartmell
Uninvited by Lysa Terkeurst

And here’s one on my list to read in the future:

Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist
Love Does by Bob Goff (he’s going to be one of our keynote speakers at the 2017 Hearts at Home mom conferences!)

What about you? What were some of your favorite reads in 2016?

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