Challenge, Children, In the news, Issues of the Day, Men, Parents, Women

A Goliath Has Fallen Friday, June 24, 2022

The Philistines had Goliath and the Israelites had David. Goliath, I Samuel 17 says, had a bronze helmet, a coat of arms, leg coverings, a bronze javelin on his back, a sword and an iron spear in his hand. He terrified the king of Israel, Saul. For forty days the Philistines taunted all of Israel.

Meanwhile back home, Jesse, David’s father, sends young David with some food for his warrior brothers. David tells king Saul that he will fight this giant. David then faces this towering man and says, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin…” David tells him that all he has are this world’s weaponry. And then David reveals to the giant Goliath and all of the Philistines what he has, “I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, who you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands and I’ll strike you down.” 

We now have behind us almost 50 years of the oppression of Roe vs. Wade. What happened? The U.S. Supreme Court took on the Dobbs vs. Jackson case from the state of Mississippi which would effectively end the constitutional right to abortion, the killing of a child in the womb of its mother. The Supreme Court made an error almost 50 years ago and it has now been corrected. 

Franklin Graham said, “This is one of the most significant rulings in my lifetime. It was egregiously wrong from the start.”

Samuel Rodrigues said, “The long, dark night officially comes to an end. The unconscionable injustice of extreme abortion policies is over.”

Dr. Ben Carson said, “Today the Supreme Court of the U.S. made a statement to the world that life matters.”

Dr. Alveda King expressed, “Roe is no more! We must see every human, born and pre-born, as created in the image…of God. As long as a baby can be killed in the womb there is no such thing as civil rights. Abortion is a weapon of mass destruction.”

Justice Samuel Alito wrote, “We end this opinion where we began. Abortion presents a profound moral question, the Constitution does not prohibit the citizens of each State from regulating or prohibiting abortion. Roe and Casey arrogated that authority. We now overrule this decision and return that authority to the people and their elected representatives.”

On January 22, 1988 then President Ronald Reagan spoke to the March for Life participants, “Our opponents tell us to not interfere with abortion. They tell us not to impose our morality on those who participate in the taking of the life of infants before birth. Yet no one calls it imposing morality to prohibit the taking of life after a child is born. We’re told about a woman’s right to control her own body. But doesn’t the unborn child have a higher right, and that is to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness?”

It is also Ronald Reagan who said, “I’ve noticed that everyone who is for abortion has already been born.”

The evil one has had a long history of killing the firstborn of Israel. The spirit of abortion, that spirit of death, was activated a long time ago against mankind. Those who have fought for this day are cheering. But those who are fervently and violently bent on killing preborn children are going after the justices, church leaders, pro-life centers and anyone and anything else they can attack. 

Why would those who have been given life be so aggressively and brutally in opposition of mothers giving life to their children? Let’s consider another quote for the answer.

“Any country that accepts abortion is not teaching its people to love, but to use violence to get what they want. That is why the greatest destroyer of love and peace is abortion.” 

And even more deeply this same author said this in answer to the violence and result of abortion:

“America needs no words from me to see how your decision in Roe v. Wade has deformed a great nation. The so-called right to abortion has pitted mothers against their children and women against men. It has sown violence and discord at the heart of the most intimate human relationships. It has aggravated the derogation of the father’s role in an increasingly fatherless society. It has portrayed the greatest of gifts — a child — as a competitor, an intrusion, and an inconvenience. It has nominally accorded mothers unfettered dominion over the independent lives of their physically dependent sons and daughters. And, in granting this unconscionable power, it has exposed many women to unjust and selfish demands from their husbands or other sexual partners. Human rights are not a privilege conferred by government. They are every human being’s entitlement by virtue of his humanity. The right to life does not depend, and must not be declared to be contingent, on the pleasure of anyone else, not even a parent or a sovereign. It is a poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish.” (Mother Teresa — “Notable and Quotable,” Wall Street Journal, 2/25/94, p. A14) 

Now let us continue to support the pro-life centers near us, the confused mother who is carrying a child, the fostering and the adoption of these precious little ones. 

Thank you, Father, for the many who fought this good fight without ever giving up for the unborn. It was worth it. Just as freedom came to Israel because of David’s heroic actions, may freedom come to the unborn and those who carry them.

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Challenge, Encouragement, Healing, Issues of the Day, Marriage, Men, Women

Resistance in Marriage

Resistance is defined as the act of opposing another. There seems to be this trait of human nature that naturally opposes or pushes back when we interpret the environment to be in opposition of what we desire. Within relationships, resistance seems almost normal or inevitable. 

Can you recall the last time you were called upon to make a personal change in your life? It might have come from someone close to you like your spouse or your boss at work. Were you initially resistant to the request? Why or why not? Perhaps you knew they might be right, but yet you still may have resisted. Too often we have resisted change when it means we are the ones who are called upon to make that change. 

Carol Anderson in her book Mastering Resistance wrote, “Resistance to change in general and resistance to being influenced in particular always occurs when individuals, groups, and systems are required by circumstances to alter their established behaviors. Unless people are immediately persuaded by overwhelming evidence that a change in their behavior is necessary or beneficial…they will resist change in the status quo.” 

That means change for the good can be subject to resistance as well. And that’s how irrational resistance can be. What’s really at stake here is history. History may tell us that change is bad or that change represents someone trying to overpower or control us. How you interpret the change will affect how resistant you may or may not become. 

A healthy marriage is not threatened by leadership roles, power issues, or attempts to control. They do not need to fear change. They understand their particular role and are comfortable to play either leader or follower. Both husband and wife are called upon to be leaders in the home. We may have different roles but both are very important. 

It is not healthy to have one partner do all the initiating and all the decision-making and one partner simply tag along. It is not healthy for both partners to compete for the leadership roles or for both to become passive and no one lead.

When we identify the key roles of each spouse, find out who is better at an area and place them in that role, allowing trust to grow, we will see resistance dissipate. Sometimes we resist purely from our own insecurity. The more secure we become in our relationship and the roles we play within that relationship, the more trust can follow. As trust is built, there is a natural cause and effect–resistance decreases.

Some exercise questions you might consider answering with your mate.

  • How has marriage helped to identify resistance within me?
  • Presently, within what areas of marriage do I struggle with resistance?
  • How has your spouse been an example of being willing to change?
  • How have you been an example of being willing to change?
  • What steps can we take to battle resistance?
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Challenge, History, Issues of the Day, Training

General George Washington Learns About Forgiveness

During the days of the Revolutionary war, Rev. Peter Miller served as the pastor of Bethany Reformed Church in Ephrata, PA. Later he left the German Reformed church to become a Seven Day Baptist minister. This move provoked the ire of one man, Michael Widman.

Miller was a talented and highly educated man. Thomas Jefferson actually requested that Miller translate the Declaration of Independence into seven different languages.

The Ephrata Cloisters

Michael Widman was also a resident of the town of Ephrata and he developed a hatred for Rev. Miller. Widman was a deacon at the Reformed Church and Rev. Peter’s withdrawal caused a notorious and frequently noticed hatred toward Rev. Miller. Widman’s abuse included punching him and spitting on him. Miller never spoke an evil word against his enemy.

Mr Widman owned a tavern in Ephrata and one evening was loudly boasting of his loyalty to the British cause. Little did he know there were two American spies in the tavern that night who heard his treasonous words. The men attempted an arrest and Widman escaped out a back door.

Widman ran to the British army looking for protection and offered to spy for them. Later Widman was caught, court-martialed and convicted of treason against the colonies and sentenced to die by hanging.

Rev. Miller was personally acquainted with General George Washington, as Washington had first met him at the Ephrata Cloisters. After Miller had heard about the sentencing of his personal antagonist, he arose early in the morning and walked seventy miles through the snow to find General Washington at Valley Forge, PA. After Washington heard Miller’s request for a pardon for Widman his response was a firm no for his “friend.” “My friend!” said Miller. “I have not a worse enemy living than that man.”

“What?” exclaimed Washington. “You have walked seventy miles to save the life of your enemy? That, in my judgement, puts the matter in a different light. I will grant you his pardon.”

From the scaffold Widman remarked, “There is old Peter Miller who has walked from Ephrata to have his revenge gratified today seeing me hung.”  

Rev. Miller raised the pardon in the air and commanded the execution to halt. Miller and Widman walked together back to Ephrata as friends and neighbors.

You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.  –Jesus

Happy Father’s Day to every one of you who are fathers! May we “raise the pardon in the air” to all thse around us who are in need of forgivenss and our love.

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Challenge, Encouragement, In the news, Issues of the Day, Prayer

 “Our Thoughts and Prayers are With You”

We’re hearing these words a lot lately, too often really. It seems we can go from tragedy to tragedy all too quickly.

Of late we’re also hearing some pushback about that spoken or written phrase. Why? Do people see it as insincere? Or, maybe these words in question seem too glib or perhaps spoken too soon? Maybe they’re associated with the lack of action steps? It would be wrong to judge the heart of the person using that phrase because you or I do not know what’s in their heart. 

Would we rather it said, “Our thoughts are not with you and neither are our prayers?” That’s cold and I would think, rarely thought.

So, let’s say people are sincere when they speak these words. They might be far removed from the incident and can have little to no effect upon the event. But in their minds, they can visualize it happening in their home area and they shudder to think of its occurrence. And so, they offer the one thing they can, thoughts and if they are praying persons, prayer. I do know my wife and I pray for the victim’s families and their deep pain. We pray for the first responders and what they have to experience. We pray for our nation.

Is there a time to take action? Yes. Can everyone take action? No. Is everyone called to take the same action? No. Some have to settle for well wishes, concern and hoping for a better outcome in the future. 

In my mind, here is the fault in criticizing these words. By pushing back, you belittle the one thing that some people feel is their only choice to offer. You repeat a mockery of those who meaningfully use this phrase. You judge their hearts. You condemn them for what is thought as doing nothing. And, you as well, use phrases similar to these and think nothing of it. But, is it right to jump on a bandwagon of someone else’s critical, sometimes arrogant and thoughtless words which also have very little meaning to them and effect little to no change?

Here is my biggest issue with this subject: Prayer is not inaction! Prayer to our heavenly Father is faith in action on the believer’s part. It is grappling with concern and personalizing it into words of petition directed by the Holy Spirit. Our heavenly Father waits to hear from us and that is called: prayer. How do I know this? Please take a minute to read the scripture verses below.

  • I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercessions and thanksgiving be made for all people. (I Timothy 2:1)
  • Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. (James 5:17)
  • During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears. (Hebrews 5:7)
  • Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. (Philippians 4:6)
  • The Lord is far from the wicked, but he hears the prayer of the righteous. (Proverbs 15:29)
  • We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.(Romans 8:26)
  • Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. (James 5:13)
  • Trust in him at all times, you people: pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge. (Psalms 62:8)
  • Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know. (Jeremiah 33:3)
  • Pray continually. (I Thessalonians 5:17)

Wow–prayer, petitions and thanksgiving are to be made first for all people. Prayer is powerful and effective. Jesus, the Son of God, prayed and He is our example! Prayer is presenting our requests to God, keeping us from anxiety as we know He hears the prayers of the righteous.  The Spirit of God helps us to pray accurately.

So, call on Him continually and He will answer you and show you the effective ways you can serve others to bring about change for the glory of God and the good of mankind. At the same time, please know there are very real and authentic persons full of compassion and hearts devoted toward seeing change come to the world we live in.

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Challenge, Encouragement, Identity, In the news, Issues of the Day, Parents, Singles

Those Words and Deconstruction

“Do you also want to leave?”

Those words spoken by Jesus and recorded in John six give me pause. Many of Jesus’ disciples were walking away, no longer desiring to be associated with Him. Jesus then looks at the twelve disciples and asks them this poignant question. 

Can you visualize yourself standing with Jesus, watching some of your friends, maybe relatives and neighbors who were walking closely with you just pick up their things, turn their backs and walk away? Now He’s looking straight at you waiting for an answer. He was, in fact, giving you a pass to walk away with them, no questions asked as you shift from foot to foot, nervously, waiting for others to respond.

Finally, Peter speaks up, “Master, to whom would we go? You have the words of real life, eternal life. We’ve already committed ourselves.” 

Is that your final answer? Are you staying with Him? It’s going to be difficult. It won’t get any easier.

For those who are “deconstructing” their faith, examining their roots and finding it difficult to remain with Christ, He is waiting for your answer. Do you want to leave too? Will you walk away from the One who loves you, saved you and gave His life for you? 

There is no perfect church, pastor or godly parent. There is no perfect Christian leader, mentor or counselor. Not one of us has a perfect foundation. We will be disappointed by others who have spoken faith into our lives. But there is One that will never disappoint, never leave you and never sin against you: Jesus. 

It’s easy to criticize and deconstruct; it’s far more difficult to jump in and be a part of the solution–the construction crew. 

If walking away from faith is walking away from Him, then you’re going to have to dive deeply into self-trust, self-sufficiency and self-belief. 

But here’s the thing about that. Even you will disappoint you. There is no perfect you. I would encourage you to stop holding others up to perfection who were imperfect in your life. Give them the same grace you give yourself. 

The enemy of your soul is handing you deconstruction. Jesus is handing you life, words of real life, words of eternal life.

Pay close attention, friend, to what your father tells you; never forget what you learned at your mother’s knee. Wear their counsel like a winning crown, like rings on your fingers.

(Proverbs 1:8, 9)

The Message

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Challenge, Encouragement, Marriage, Men, Postmarital, Women

Happy 47th Anniversary to Us!

I love celebrating our anniversary. It means we’ve reached the milestone of another year. We’re still very much in love. We’re still committed to one another and we’re still having fun. We celebrate our 47th year of marriage this month!

Many couples have many ways of “making it” this far or perhaps they just don’t know another way to live. I’ve always thought that being in a chronically ill marriage would be worse than never being married at all. But that’s not our story. 

So, what are the things we can implement into our marriage to not only have it survive 47 years, but thrive throughout those 47 years? Allow me to share a few of those things.

  • Maintain a heart of love and dedication to one another.
  • Hold hands when you take a walk, when you pray at the meal table and when you pray together just before bedtime.
  • Continue to date.
  • Buy small gifts for one another.
  • Remember important dates through the sharing of greeting cards.
  • Purchase flowers for special occasions and for no occasion.
  • Write love notes or text messages or both often.
  • Maintain a spiritual component of prayer together as often as possible.
  • Don’t stop kissing.
  • Say “I love you” multiple times in a day.
  • Notice each other and while you’re noticing smile at your life mate.
  • Go to bed at the same time routinely.
  • Be affectionate.
  • Maintain your intimacy.
  • Compliment one another frequently.
  • Say “thank you” for the daily mundane things accomplished by your spouse.
  • Read a marriage book together to challenge your marriage.
  • See a respected counselor or pastoral couple who can encourage you to grow in your love relationship.
  • Go to a marriage seminar/retreat. 
  • Take a mini vacation for just the two of you.
  • Praise in public; construct in private.
  • Disagree agreeably and resolve issues promptly.
  • Never take your mate for granted and work at noticing the “little things.”
  • Have good will toward your mate at all times; think the best.
  • Take time to listen to each other and hear one another’s heart, not just words.
  • Serve in a mission bigger than yourselves, e.g., your local church, a missions project.
  • Don’t be legalistic; give grace to one another.
  • Keep communication lines open in order to always build trust.
  • Stop attempting to change your mate. That’s God’s job.
  • Keep your marriage a higher priority than the life issues you are dealing with.
  • Pursue personal growth. The healthier you are, the healthier your marriage will be.

And last: Apologize quickly by learning to say, “I am sorry; I was wrong; please forgive me.”

Marriage is a gift–treat it as one.

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Challenge, Encouragement, Issues of the Day, Marriage, Men, Postmarital, Premarital, Women

Can Husbands Listen to Their Wives?

It’s an age-old question: can men tune into and really listen to their wives? We know there is a generally accepted answer to that question: no. But is that true? Do men listen differently than women? Do men practice looking like they’re not listening when they really are? Are men created with a filter that women simply do not have? Read on.

Men do listen to their wives, but there are some qualifications around the parameters of that answer. 

Some of those parameters might include, but are not limited to: are they interested in the conversation; have they been drawn into the conversation or forced; do they feel valued in the conversation; is there a solution that he can add; is there a purpose for this conversation that directly affects him; how long will this conversation take; and can the conversation actually arrive at a point? 

Quite honestly, I have found that men like to listen to other men more than to woman (again generally speaking). That may mean men will actually listen to the advice of a man than that of a woman. That does not mean he doesn’t value a woman’s input. But what that actually means is men’s brains seem wired to accommodate other men and their opinion before a female counterpart. Now, before you take that statement and run with it in a hundred different directions, let’s consider a man’s approach to another man.

Men generally will leave feelings out of the conversation. Men generally will speak in facts as they understand them and men generally will not converse just to converse. Men do not tend to have a need for all of the little details and men tend to use fewer words. As well, men tend to keep advice giving to a point of request only. In other words, men enjoy or embrace the communication style of other men rather than woman. It’s not an attack on a woman as much as it’s a preference of style.

With all of that said, men need women and their relational style of communicating. Men need to hear the feeling side of conversation and men need to allow woman the opportunity to share the details they feel effect the conversation. Men need to listen to women because women have this uncanny ability to pull truth from feelings and not just facts. Men need to learn to converse with just listening and not always listening to fix. Men need face-to-face conversations with the women in their life for a balance in receiving the feminine side of their Creator.

Yes, husbands can listen to their wives as wives keep these parameters in mind. So, ladies, stop trying to remake your husband into one of your girlfriends. He is not them; he’s different and he enjoys that difference. Perhaps let him know up front that you are looking for his advice or let him know you are not; you just want him to listen. He can do that, but he needs you to let him know what you’re looking for early in the conversation.

Men and women converse differently and we need what each one brings to the conversation. We need to learn to value each style and honor one another by practicing our listening skills. 

Here are some secrets to conversing with your husband:

  • Make an attempt to use fewer words.
  • Use a tone of voice that is inviting and engaging rather than commanding or directing.
  • Practice letting him know what you need or are looking for from the conversation before it starts.
  • Be sure there is sufficient time allotted for the conversation. If not, schedule it for another time.
  • Try to relate a few facts.
  • Study his language style and do your best to incorporate his style of communication. For example, quite often a builder uses building terms or a salesman uses sales terms. Learn those terms and incorporate them in your communication.
  • Share your feelings, but let him know that’s what you are doing. For example, you can say, “Just sharing a feeling here, but I think it’s significant to the point being made.”
  • Try to communicate the point of your conversation earlier in the discussion. For example, you could say, “There is a decision we need to make, but first it’s important to look at what is going to affect this decision.”
  • You can really draw him in with this conversation starter, “I need your input on ___________.” Then you could go on to discuss the issues. 
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Challenge, History, Identity, Issues of the Day

Dead Before Her Time

It was repeatedly stated that the Mortenson girl would end up dead way too early. 

She never knew her real father and she was placed in foster care at age six while her mother entered a mental institution. She was shifted from one home to another. 

She was molested in one of her homes, abused and mistreated in others. Her full name was Norma Jeane Mortenson and her only goal in life was (in her words), “I want to be loved for myself.”

Her first marriage was at age sixteen. Her second marriage was to a name we all recognize – Joe DiMaggio. Then another marriage and then her Hollywood name of Marilyn Monroe was given to her at age twenty-seven while working as a model. She became a national pastime, a star, certainly in the minds of many, one to emulate.

But inside Norma Jeane felt dirty, unworthy of love following molestation, foster home after foster home, marriage after marriage. She engaged in romances with some of the most famous men of her time. 

At age thirty-six, desperate for love, she reached out to talk to a friend, looking for affirmation and understanding, someone to care. But what she got was hung up on. She then swallowed a large number of pills and was found in her bed the following day dead, the phone hanging there beside her. How many more desperate calls did she make?

Loneliness is all around us. There is the widow down the street. There is the senior care home in the next town. There is a co-worker who just went through a divorce. 

So many people are looking for love. Tell them about the Someone who stepped down from heaven to be their Savior and their friend. Who needs a word of affirmation or of encouragement from you today?

Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know. (Jeremiah 33:3)

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Children, Encouragement, Issues of the Day, Parents, Women

Moms Day

Mothers–we all had one and most of us cherish our good memories. We know that for nine months she carried us in her womb anticipating our arrival. We know we were loved, accepted and approved of by her. We know she wasn’t perfect, but she was the perfect mom for us. We are better persons because of our moms.

Many had mothers who prayed earnestly and endlessly for their sons and daughters. They never stopped being a biological or a spiritual mom to us. They knew when to speak and when to remain silent. They knew how to make sacrifices for us to have a better life than they had. Moms know things that no one else knows or understands about each one of us and, gratefully, most moms can keep a secret. 

So, on this Mother’s Day weekend, let’s celebrate our mothers and think about the reasons why our moms are so important in our lives.

If it wasn’t for your mother, you would not exist.

Our moms often knew how to say the right words at the right time.

Moms seem to understand our feelings.

Only a mother can affectionately kiss and hold an angry child.

Our mothers made huge sacrifices for their children.

Forgiveness and acceptance without judgement are at the forefront of mothering.

Moms sense trouble sooner than most and then swoop in to protect.

Mothers remind us of the good and downplay so much of the bad in life.

Mothers naturally teach mothering–it’s instinctual. 

Moms taught us the value of cleanliness, doing our homework and sending a thank-you note.

Mothers have a unique way of making us feel special.

Mothers know just the right gift to give.

What would you add to this list about your mom?

Her teachings are filled with wisdom and kindness. She watches over the ways of her household. Her sons and daughters arise in one accord to extol her virtues, and her husband arises to speak of her in glowing terms. So go ahead and give her the credit that is due, for she has become a radiant woman. (Proverbs 31:26, 27, 28, 31 TPT)

“Mothers hold their children’s hands for a short while, but their hearts forever.” Unknown author

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Challenge, Issues of the Day, Marriage, Men, Postmarital, Premarital, Women

How One Amazing Couple Found Their Mission

Auston and Ashton Samuelson lived in California in a city where there was a high concentration of homeless persons. God gripped their hearts in a distinctive way. They felt convicted to do something and began to work with their local Union Rescue Mission. 

The thought first came to Austin when he voiced to Ashton, “What if there was a restaurant that donated a meal for every meal purchased?” They concluded that someone should do just that.

Two years later, the Samuelsons began Tacos 4 Life, a restaurant that provides a meal to families in need for every taco purchased. Tacos 4 Life are now located in Arkansas, Texas and North Carolina with multiple locations. They have supplied more than 13.8 million meals for needy children and families. 

This is just one story of one couple finding their co-mission in marriage, something they were both passionate about, felt called to by God and then walked it out in a practical way. If you are married, what is your marriage mission? Every married couple needs to know why they are married. It’s a simple question, but sometimes a missing ingredient in marriage. 

Your marriage mission is the glue of why you are called together. Maybe it’s a business or a small group that you lead together. Maybe it’s serving at your local shelter or maybe it’s praying for your neighbors and inviting them to your home for hospitality. There can be multiple missions found within your marriage call. Those missions speak to purpose and answer the “why” of your commitment together.

You can start by writing down everything that you do, everything that you prioritize in your lives. Then include what would you like to do, what you dream about doing together. Write that down. Take those things and begin to create a marriage mission statement/paragraph for yourselves. You’ll be glad you did.

One couple we know placed their marriage mission statement on the mantle of their fireplace for all to see. It’s a daily reminder of why they are married–for them, for their children and for anyone who enters their home..

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