Feeling Shame

We read an interesting story recently that prompted us to write this post.

FACT: Leaders struggle too.

For over two years, we have proudly been building this marriage resource for people in every possible situation.  For people like us: those who were engaged to be RE-married after getting divorced.  We learned couples getting remarried are particularly unique because there can be a stigma attached to us, especially in some churches, that keeps remarried couples at arms length while the church focuses on first time married couples.

As we have been building this resource, we have learned so much from married couples in every situation and this much is clear: married couples want and need opportunities to grow and enrich their marriage.

We also learned one other critically important fact – leaders that you know and rely upon will struggle.  Even those who are experts in marriage.

In our space, that means marriage ministry leaders – who offer themselves up to help build strong marriages – will struggle.  We read a compelling story about a couple in full-time ministry, and one a part time worker at a church who were absolutely desperate and in crisis.  Read their story here.

Some of these leaders will feel shame for failing in their roles and some will feel like hypocrites for not always following the same advice that they give.  These people need your encouragement, support and love too.

We have to remember that no one is immune from struggle.  Every person is human.  Everyone fails.

But God can and will redeem and restore every situation for those who have faith.  We are witness to that because this has happened to us!

When we started building Married Strong, Ron Deal, a marriage expert who is coming to New Hampshire on November 1, was the first person to tell us this: You don’t need to be perfect to be a leader, you just need to be authentic.  In fact, Ron told us that people who struggle are perfect for the job because they have real life – and real time – experiences to share.

We’ve had more than our share of struggles.  We have worked through them using as many resources as we could get our hands on!  And we are happy to be entering a new season that allows us to open up even more to share our experiences in hopes that it is helpful to others.

No one is perfect and everyone has value!  Even in the midst of a struggle.

We need only look to the bible to remind us that God has always chosen flawed people to bring hope to a flawed world.

We are proud to be imperfect.  We are proud to have been called to help others build resilient marriages.  And we are happy to share our crazy experiences even if it only helps one couple.

If you know of leaders who are struggling – encourage and pray for them.  Even if they aren’t struggling, thank them for their leadership and pray for a hedge of protection around them!

The Sibling Whisperer

That’s right.  We have the “Sibling Whisperer” right here in our home.

We have known for a long time just how special Liam is to us.  But his abilities, or gifts we should say, never cease to amaze us.

As we enter the third year of blending our family, many challenges remain.  We have written quite a bit about the difficulty in bringing four very different kids together to live and love in one family unit.

However, we had a breakthrough during our summer vacation.  And that breakthrough was led by our very own “Sibling Whisperer”.

Let us tell you a little more about Liam.  He was born with Down syndrome.  Continue reading “The Sibling Whisperer”

2nd Anniversary

You wouldn’t think these low numbered milestones are very important.  But given the chaos we have gone through in our first two years of marriage, we are here to tell you that it is a BIG ONE for us!

Some days, it seems like we’ve been married for 5, 7 or even 10 years.  We have gone through more difficult experiences than any “typical” honeymoon couple would go through.

Most “typical” honeymoon couples go through issues of money, sex, and leaving the cap off the toothpaste! We are happy to say those haven’t been our issues.

However, as a remarried couple and one working on blending a family, our issues have been: ex- spouses, parenting styles, health issues and putting each other, and our marriage, first when we were both used to putting our children first for so many years during our divorce.

Here’s where we are today. Continue reading “2nd Anniversary”

It’s Time To Speak Up At Church

So many of us look for guidance, help, shelter, comfort and advice from our churches.  But we sometimes fail to appreciate and recognize that, just like us, churches aren’t perfect.

Churches try to serve as many as they can in their congregation with different programs and ministries.  But, after all, they will never fully know the needs of their congregation unless we tell them straight up what WE need.  Or unless they ask and we answer honestly and openly.

According a survey by LifeWay Research and Focus on the Family, 75% of Pastors say they are doing enough in their church to help marriages.  Yet only 69% of churches have an ongoing ministry.  That’s a mighty big disconnect.  (In New Hampshire it is more like 95% of churches that don’t have a marriage ministry).  Great article here about the challenges Pastors face with marriage ministries.

When we entered the marriage ministry one year ago, we were somewhat critical of  churches for not prioritizing and focusing on what we believe to be the overarching issue in the breakdown of our families across America.  We believe that is marriage.  And we believe that marriage should be the priority of every church.  But we are just two people who don’t have a say – which is why we are here writing. Continue reading “It’s Time To Speak Up At Church”

Summer Is Busy! But I Have A Lighthouse.

We have been quiet this summer.  When you have 4 kids off from school and full time jobs, summer can just be sheer craziness.

You try to enjoy time as a couple…

You try to enjoy time as a family…

You try to stay on top of your duties at work…

BUT – you fail because you can’t do it all.

As Joya and I approach our second wedding anniversary, I am so thankful to have found my earthly Lighthouse – my love Joya.  Joya is an amazing woman who has endured more than a wife should in the first two years of marriage.  I have seen and witnessed her pain.  And as her husband I feel it too.

Together, we have faced more struggles than couples should face during our honeymoon period – almost all of it out of our control.  Yet, how we approach those struggles IS within our control and we continue to work on our marriage, and our communication with each other, so we can weather the storms when the unexpected ones hit.

I know these struggles have and will continue to make us stronger.  We are aware of the blessings we receive every week.  We know God is preparing us for good and big things ahead.  And we know we are here to share our struggles and triumphs with YOU!  Throughout this crazy summer we have shared some great times as a family!

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We’ll share more about our summer at a later time.  In the meantime, I hope you find time to spend with your spouse – and family – all while working your job!  Just know you can’t do it all and that’s ok.  No one expects you to do it all.  You just do your best while trying super hard to remain a loving and respectful spouse.

Blessings to you all!

–Mike

 

 

Here’s A Question: What Is Marriage?

Ask that question and everyone will have a different marriage:

“Marrying your best friend”

“Living life with your soulmate”

“Not being able to live without your partner”

We just finished the Love & Respect video series and cannot even begin to tell you how much we learned about marriage, relationships, men and women, and most importantly the role of God in our marriage.

As we all know, dealing with conflict in marriage is the 800 pound gorilla.  Continue reading “Here’s A Question: What Is Marriage?”

It’s Just Another Day?

Joya and I usually write posts together but I’m taking this one solo.

Father’s Day has taken on a much different tone since my divorce. For several years now I have not had my children on Father’s Day. I try to convince myself it’s not really a big deal. I’ll see them in a few more days and we’ll do something special together.

Probably the hardest thing is that everyone else makes a big deal about Father’s Day (understandably) starting first thing in the morning at church. So when churches ask Dad’s to stand, I don’t get to thank God for my kids and look at them at the same time. As much as I try to escape everyone else’s focus on it – it’s just plain hard to avoid and pretend that it’s just another day. Continue reading “It’s Just Another Day?”

50th Anniversary!

As we sit here at the 50th anniversary of the New Hampshire Special Olympics Summer Games – it gives us great perspective on life.

In marriage, so many of our challenges come from being two different people with opposing viewpoints.

Here, we are watching a community of Special Olympics athletes who have intellectual and/or physical challenges because they were either born with them or had some event that caused their disability.

Michael’s son, Liam, was born with Down syndrome. For those who don’t know, Down syndrome is a genetic disorder caused by the presence of an extra 21st chromosome. It is typically associated with physical growth delays, moderate intellectual disability and characteristic facial features. Continue reading “50th Anniversary!”

We owe it to our kids

When we got remarried, one of our goals was to model a loving, healthy marriage for our 4 children.  While this has remained in the forefront of our minds, the world around us has given more meaning to this specific goal.

We all have seen it, though it may not immediately register because we are so busy with our own lives, our own struggles and our own celebrations.

However, as we were reading through some blogs and news sites about marriage recently we were hit over the head with the reality.

More millennials today are deciding to live together unmarried than any other generation. Continue reading “We owe it to our kids”

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