To Guard Your Marriage, Guard Your Tongue

Special thanks to my friend and author Ashley Jones of BigSisterKnows.com for sharing her words of wisdom in this guest post. Whether you’re newly married like me, been married a while, single, or dating, the biblical command to guard our tongues is relevant to all of us.

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As you know, Kristen just tied the knot with a great guy (woo hoo!). Now, I know she’s overwhelmed with newlywed life, and she’s being bombarded with advice she probably didn’t ask for. Still, as the “big sister,” I feel the need to share the following bit of wisdom I’ve learned over the course of eight years of marital bliss:

To guard your marriage, guard your tongue.

Here are a few practical ways to bless your marriage through your speech.

1 – Don’t be Ugly

One day your hubby will spill his drink on your beautiful new couch, forget your anniversary, or run over your favorite rose bush with the lawn mower. In that moment, you’ll want to scream at him for being careless, forgetful, lazy, or just plain mean—but don’t do it! Instead, take a breath. If that’s not enough, take a hot shower, put on your comfy jammies, and blast the BeeGees.

Remember that this is your partner in life. You’re on the same team. Then sit him down, make sure you have his attention, and tell him how you feel. Even then, don’t yell or say anything ugly because you’ll regret it later.

“There is one who speaks rashly like the thrusts of a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing” (Proverbs 12:18 NAS).

2 – Don’t be Critical

Reality check: your hubby will never cook, clean, or take care of the kids the way you do. He is a man, after all, and men always approach these things a bit different than we do. That doesn’t mean he shouldn’t help around the house or that his quality of work should be less than yours. However, when you see him wipe up a disgusting mess on the floor with your dish towel, take a breath. (There’s a lot of breathing in marriage. Go ahead and practice counting to 10 now.)

Start by thanking your hubby for cleaning up the mess. After all, if he were still living alone, it would probably stay on the floor for a long, long time. Then say something like, “Hey, honey, I like to use those towels for the dishes, so it’s probably best not to use them on the floor. Let’s use paper towels next time, okay?”

If your hubby understands why you do things a certain way, he’ll be more apt to follow your lead. But be careful here! If you correct everything he does, you’ll become overly critical, and he’ll start to tune you out. No one wants to be a nag (or live with one), so pick your battles wisely.

“It is better to live in a corner of a roof than in a house shared with a contentious woman” (Proverbs 21:9 NAS).

3 – Keep His Secrets

As soon as you get married, you learn little things about your new hubby. Some might make you giggle—like his penchant for bubble baths after a rough week. Others may make you cringe—like when his frugality leads him to buy frozen steaks from the dollar store. You may feel the desire to share these little secrets with your mom or best friend, but don’t! Marriage is a sacred union of two, and when you share your hubby’s secrets with others, you let them into your marriage … and nothing good comes from that. Enjoy this time as you get to know your new hubby, and assure him that he can trust you with his heart as well as his little quirks.

“He who goes about as a slanderer reveals secrets, therefore do not associate with a gossip” (Proverbs 20:19 NAS).

4 – Speak in Love

While it’s important to avoid negative speech with your hubby, it’s just as important to fill your conversations with positive speech. Is he worried about work? Tell him that you’re proud of him and that you’re praying for peace and new opportunities. Did he spend all day planting new flowers for you? Tell him how much you appreciate his hard work and how great the yard looks (but avoid mentioning the fact that he ran over the last batch of flowers). This isn’t about platitudes but about finding something good, something sweet to say to the one you love.

“A soothing tongue is a tree of life, but perversion in it crushes the spirit” (Proverbs 15:4 NAS).

Those are four different ways you can guard your tongue—but that’s easier said than done. The apostle James had this to say about it:

“But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison” (James 3:8 NAS).

That’s less than encouraging, right? So what is the answer?

“The plans of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the LORD. All the ways of a man are clean in his own sight, but the LORD weighs the motives. Commit your works to the LORD and your plans will be established” (Proverbs 16:1-3 NAS).

The truth is that we can’t control our tongues through our own efforts, but if we submit ourselves—including our speech—to the Lord, He will give us the strength and desire to do so. Here’s a simple prayer you can repeat as often as needed:

“Lord, please guard my marriage by placing a guard over my tongue. Keep me from saying things that would hurt our relationship, and give me the humility to speak in love and kindness. Thank you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”

~ By Ashley L. Jones of BigSisterKnows.com

Tweetable

To Guard Your Marriage, Guard Your Tongue – @kjhogrefe & @BigSisterTweets (Click to Tweet)

Making the Manger Personal

Last September, I had the opportunity to travel to Italy with a colleague, work remotely, and research my next novel. During one of our day-tripping adventures, we visited a place called Civita di Bagnoregio, a place sometimes called “the dying town.” This city rests atop a hill that is slowly eroding, and the place itself is breathtaking.

As my friend Maria and I explored the city, I suddenly stopped short. There, to my right, were the remains of a manger.

A manger. The scene seemed taken right out of a nativity story set in Bethlehem, and yet here we were in Italy. As I soaked in the moment, a few realizations struck me. Though perhaps I’d already known them, I hadn’t taken them to heart before. Maybe you can relate.

The manger was a common place chosen for an anything-but-common Christ.

Jesus could have been born anywhere else. People expected that the Messiah would come as king and break Rome’s oppression. They expected a palatial birth with pomp and circumstance. As a result, they couldn’t even recognize His birth in a stable, among animals and dirt, to a simple girl and her carpenter-husband.

I get caught up in my expectations sometimes, too. I expect God to provide a certain way, and when He doesn’t, I feel confused and frustrated. Yet God’s uncommon methods are the very means He uses to accomplish His will back then and today.

The manger stands as a challenge for simplicity and personal humility.

For introverts like me, Christmastime can overwhelm the senses with programs, white-elephant gift exchanges, Sunday school parties, special services, shopping, and everything that we’ve come to expect. Granted, those things may all have a time and place, but they often distract from the main reason we celebrate.

When I looked at the manger, all I saw was a rickety feeding trough that did double-duty as the Messiah’s crib. Its bare simplicity reminded me what a humble birthplace Christ accepted. It reminded me of these verses from Philippians where the Apostle Paul challenged his writers to adopt the mindset of Christ:

“Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men” (Philippians 2:5-7 NKJV).

Is that mind in me? Is it in you? If I’m honest, it often isn’t. I prefer things my way, on my schedule, for my convenience. Yet Jesus exercised humility even though He was equal to God! How much more should humility characterize my thoughts and actions?

Back in Italy that day, I felt reluctant to leave this manger-like scene. However, I don’t have to relegate the manger to once-a-year Christmas stories and pageants. I can strive to apply the truths it represents every day of the year. So can you.

May you experience the joy of God’s unexpected blessings this Christmas and always!

~Kristen

Thanks to DailyPS.com for hosting this week’s post on their blog. 

 

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Making the Manger Personal – @kjhogrefe (Click to Tweet)

 

Though She Fall: Takeaways of a First-Time Surfer

I’m Florida born and raised, so learning to surf needed to happen at some point. The well-meaning worriers assumed I would be eaten by sharks. Good news is that didn’t happen, but I did gain a new respect for the sport and the life lessons it teaches.

Watch, Learn, and Surf Humbly

There’s a YouTube video that explains the top 10 mistakes first-time surfers make. If you’re interested in watching, click here. I’m pretty sure I broke all of them multiple times.

When we’re growing up or learning anything new, people typically tell us: “Now don’t do this or that. You don’t want to make the same mistakes I did.”

Truth is, I would much rather learn from others’ mistakes than make my own, but in this crazy life, that’s not always an option.

My takeaway: Watch the videos. Listen to the advice. And surf humbly, because you’re going to tumble, eat the surf, scrape your knee, get hit on the head, and so many more things you wish you could just bypass in the learning curve.

But that’s the reality about surfing and life. There’s no “skip the rough stuff” button. However, I trust God who says He’s never going to leave me or forsake me (Hebrews 13:5).

His Word promises in Psalm 37:23-24:

The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord,
And He delights in his way.
Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down;
For the Lord upholds him with His hand (NKJV).

I’m going to fall in this life, and so are you. The real question is: Who’s going to lift your head when you’re sputtering for breath? I trust the Lord Jesus Christ who is “the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).

Next time, I’ll share about the kill zone and the lies it wants us to believe. Who knew surfing was so mental? There’s a clear takeaway for real life wallops, too.

Has life ever pushed you down? How did your faith uphold you through those times?

~ Kristen

Tweetables

Though She Fall: Takeaways of a First-Time Surfer – @kjhogrefe (Click to Tweet)

I’m going to fall in this life, and so are you. The real question is: Who’s going to lift your head when you’re sputtering for breath? – @kjhogrefe (Click to Tweet)

 

Live Wholeheartedly

I love how God connects friends over the years and over the miles. More than a decade ago, I met Lyndsey when she married my older brother’s best friend (a great friend to my whole family). Today, they have a beautiful family of their own and live out west, but I keep up with them over social media.

Lyndsey also works with the Wholly Loved team and invited me to guest blog on their site. I’m so excited she did! This ministry reaches Christian women spanning all walks of life. Their website says:

We’re a group of moms, wives, and professionals who love encouraging women to discover, embrace, and live out who they are in Christ.

Today, I’m honored to be part of the Wholly Loved blog and encourage my sisters in Christ to do just that. Below is the beginning of my post. Click over to Wholly Loved to read the complete challenge.

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Whole.

The word indicates completion, even perfection. A whole carton of eggs is one where none are missing or cracked. A whole loaf of bread hasn’t yet been sliced.

Although these things might be perfect and complete, they aren’t usable or enjoyable until we crack and slice. We must first cook the eggs before we can savor them. Slicing must come before slathering butter or jam on a fresh piece of bread.

Afterward, the carton and loaf are no longer perfectly complete, but they’re serving their purpose more fully than they were originally.

Life is a little like that carton and loaf. God has given us gifts and abilities. Maybe we’ve practiced them, polished them, but we hesitate to make the first cut—to share them.

What if we fail? What if no one listens? What if no one appreciates our efforts?

I have bad news and good news. Some people won’t listen or appreciate—or even begin to understand when we seek to live out the purpose God has for us. But they don’t matter (well, not much).

What matters is living obediently to God’s calling.

Please click here to visit Wholly Loved and read the complete post. I’d love to hear your comments!

~ Kristen

 

Tweetable

Live wholeheartedly in obedience to God’s call – @kjhogrefe (Click to Tweet)