Saturday, July 30, 2011

Our guest blogger is revealed!

Today's blog post was written by my father, Alex Mandes. Yes, he is our guest blogger. Today's post is very special because its my parent's wedding anniversary! Their marriage is such a testimony, to me and many others. They are the type of couple that, as Hebrews 11 says,  this world is not worthy of - for their integrity and faith. If you have been encouraged by my parent's example as husband and wife, or another couple, please post back and share your story - such stories need to be told. 

Topic: Lessons learned after 34 years of marriage
  • Sex needs to be good but I will not cover that here. Sex is the special Godgiven glue. Nevertheless, I will not leave you without very good advice. Check out John’ Grays article, “John Gray's Secrets of Rekindling Romance and Passion.” 
  • Irreconcilable Differences areGood but need to be managed. Understand you are more different that you may realize. A good study of Genesis 1:26-27 points that out and yet God said that, “it is good.” That does not mean we will not grow and change. We must become more like Christ, but even then it is the differences that actually attracted us to each other. Never ever talk about divorce – don’t even joke. In all of my years of counseling there have only been two times and it was about safety of life issues. Find a sounding board couple. When you get stuck make sure you have a couple you can confide in to help you over the hump. Be careful that it is a mutually agreed on couple. 
  • Understand the cycles of life. For example, sex was good before kids. Once you have kids your energy level will tank and that will affect sex, communication, and resources. That only means spontaneity may be planned…spontaneous/planning is not an oxymoron if you are planning to make it to the long haul.
  • In-laws must be respected. It is not cool to rag on your spouse’s family. We get to choose our spouse and friends but family is God given. Learn from them. Let you spouse lead the discussion on where they fit. The line must be drawn when one partner feels that in-laws trump the marriage relationship.
  • Have fun….lots of fun with each other and with the kids. Fun does not have to be expensive. Julie always excelled in this. Purpose to make your house the place your kids will want to hang around at and even bring their friends to. When they are older they will continue to seek you out.
  • Put God first and practice the spiritual disciplines. I rarely felt like I had to preach at Julie because I knew she was listening to God and I know she knew I was listening to God. Bible Reading, going to church, giving, hospitality…all need to be lived out before God, spouse and kids. Be real about it.
  • Learn to say I am sorry…with not buts. Be quick to set the example of brokenness. We are not weaker when we admit failure. In fact, God lifts up the humble and broken hearted. Kids need to see this.
  • Men need to set the example. We live in a time when more and more men are sitting back and letting things happen. I really believe that this is the real evil of our day. Men, be intentional, courageous, and out there real. I believe that most men are not selfish as much as afraid to look bad. The solution is not to sit back but to lean in and be a learner. As the sins of the father are passed from one generation to the next so will the blessings of the father pass on to the next. Pass it forward no matter what happened in your past. God is your great father. Ask god to help you – He wants to.
  • Money. Put the best of you in charge but both need to know what is going on. In charge means managing the books but it does not mean delegating accountability. There must be TOTAL transparency in everything. 
  • Roles are NOT tolls. Marriage roles are not static boxes that restrict us to a list of does and don't. The mother of Jesus was a super powerhouse in the Bible. Study each other and know what your gifts, talents, and experiences you bring to the table. Let those determine your parameters. Marriage was made for us not us for marriage. The Bible says that women are to submit and men are to love their wives TO THE POINT OF DEATH. Man need to really take that point to heart. Jesus served the church by laying it all out there. Brothers, let the Holy Spirit speak to you right now about that. Submission does not mean wives can’t do something incredible. BTW Jesus submitted to His parents. Luke 2:52. Submission need to be understood in the context of unity of purpose…not setting a station of life. Some of you brothers are married to a thoroughbred – that means you need to grow up fast rather, rather that than put her down – I speak from personal experience here hermanos. Julie was a fire breathing stinking navigator missionary who left her home to move to the end of the world – Laredo. If you married a thoroughbred don’t make her pay the toll…you need to learn all you can from God and her so that you can be worthy of her.  If she is not a thoroughbred then serve her like one till she gets there…she will follow your lead.
Ps...thanks Dad for being my first guest blogger!! 

Friday, July 22, 2011

A special announcement!

I have a very special announcement!
I’m having a…

…guest blogger join our conversation next week! Ekk! To add to the hype, I’m not going to reveal who it is. Wait. Before you start throwing rocks, I’ll give you a few hints.
·        This person has the type of notoriety that their name is easily dropped in conversations across the country! No joke. Kevin Bacon and his six degrees have nothing on our guest blogger.
·        Favorite question of our guest blogger: Are you in the Word?
·        They are able to speak three languages (one being female-ese).
·        Finally, they don’t know how to do laundry – or at least would need a while to remember how.

I’m currently blogging about some of the lessons I have learned from being married. Last blog I wrote on #1. Today, I’m covering #2-5. Enjoy!

1.      Be Intentional. Read my last blog post to see what I had to say about this one.

2.      Mind your manners. Jon has to put up with the worst of my moods, so shouldn’t he also get to bask in the best of my moods? I think so. This is what God showed me: The person you should be most kind to is your spouse, not the Wal-mart greeter or the person sitting beside you at church. But it’s so easy to be kind to strangers! You are with a stranger for 5 seconds and a spouse for life! Here are some practical things I do to show kindness to Jon: Say please and thank-you. Be polite. Greet them with a kiss! Recognize their presence. Don’t wait for your kindness to be earned or deserved, just do it!

3.      When your spouse is quiet or moody, just remember that not everything is about you. One day I came home from work with so many stories to tell Jon. I’m talking a mile a minute and almost finished recapping my day when I realize that Jon is awfully quite. At first I’m quite too. Then, I begin to get agitated. Why isn’t he interested in my words? Now he’s not answering my question. That’s it! This happened a few times before I realized that while I was at work living life, Jon was also living life. And what if, while living life that day someone had hurt him or upset him or whatever. I realized that while I may be the most important person in his life, I surely am not the only person in his life. When he is quiet or moody (yes, men can be moody too) God asked me to try not to think about myself first and to instead consider him first. And whatever it is bugging him, after he opens up to me, I needed to try and start off standing beside him. And as my sister says, if he says nevermind or I don’t want to talk about it, don’t push him.   

4.      Men get lost in a lot of words, but God’s word can pierce them through and through. What could be said in one word, takes me hundreds of words. The more words I say, the more my voice raises and my mind scrambles…is he listening…did he understand me…who cares, he’ll never get it. This is what God showed me: Don’t just choose your words carefully, go to scripture and recruit the right words. In the armor of God (Eph 6) the only weapon that is listed is the sword of the spirit, the word of God. It is said that God’s word can pierce a man through and through – that’s in one end and out the other! I have seen this strategy work on Jon numerous times. I’m not ashamed to say it! 

5.      When your spouse tries especially hard to please you, take special care not to initially correct them.
6.      Laugh often. Don’t even try to hold it in!
7.      Tell God about his faults, tell your spouse about your prayers.
8.      Make sure your spouse knows their the best.
9.      Tell him “job well done!”
10.  Flirt like lovers don’t tease like school children
11.  Remember that there is much more to learn about your spouse
12.  Pick your battles and battlegrounds wisely

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Strangers, already? I hope not!

It's been too long, have you missed me?

It feels like it was years ago since I last wrote. Since my last post God has continually pressed words to my fingertips. PTL! (I hope its the same case for you!) I am very excited to get back into the swing of sharing my thoughts with you, the are indeed the very conversations that I am having with God.

Here it goes....

Each day it seems like a friend of mine is getting married (okay not THAT many). I am very excited to grow in my marriage alongside these friends. In result of that, and studying a marriage book last spring(Marriage Takes More Than Love), I have lots of thoughts and prayers to share. Briefly, I jotted down tidbits that sum up these thoughts and prayers. They are lessons that I learned. I'll try to come back and blog a little more about each - I started out by blogging a bit about the first one. Enjoy! And please please share yours too!

(If you are not married, READ IT ANYWAYS, you never know whom you will encounter and what words God will need to share through you.)

Be intentional. My wedding day was just like any other day on the calendar. The sun rose and set. The hour hand made two complete rotations. The world carried on as normal. Yet it was especially special to me. Why? I would be crazy to credit pure luck or mere chance for producing such a marvelous day. To do so would deny the ten mile-long To Do list we conquered, the humble prayers we lamented, and the patient endurance we graciously received. Our wedding day will forever be special to us. We invested in that day, we were wholly committed to that day, and boy! did we harvested a mighty return on our investment.
At first, it was hard for me to accept that my wedding day and come and gone. Sometimes I longingly thought, “The wedding is over…now what?” While other times I excitedly proclaimed, “The wedding is over and we’re married!” After I moved past the wedding hype, I began to wonder how to best invest in my marriage. I found myself at a lost. I knew what I wanted, but didn’t know where to begin! It was hard for me to accept that my marriage was not even a year old. I wanted to share what fifty-year olds have! Naturally, I did what any bride would do, I stressed, planned, and delegated (poor Jon!).
Thanks be to God, he set my mind at ease. I embraced that my marriage was in full swing…right now, as is! It was new but would definitely span longer than 24 hours.  I didn’t long for the past or fret for the future, but lived presently. As I was, a newlywed, God called me to seize the moment, breathe life into my wedding vows, and add to those wedding pictures. With God’s help an ordinary day was transformed into an extraordinary day, and with God’s help an ordinary couple and will share an extraordinary life together.

Here are some more lessons God's taught me...
Mind your manners.
When your spouse is quiet or moody, just remember that not everything is about you.
Men get lost in a lot of words, but God’s word can pierce them through and through.
When your spouse tries especially hard to please you, take special care not to initially correct them.
Laugh often. Don’t even try to hold it in!
Tell God about his faults, tell your spouse about your prayers.
Make sure your spouse knows their the best.
Tell him “job well done!”
Flirt like lovers don’t tease like school children
Remember that there is much more to learn about your spouse
Pick your battles and battlegrounds wisely