The Sparkling Eyes

“Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” –Luke 18:17  [NIV]

I have a little hobby of observing children especially those who are under age of 5. When they ran and fell, most of time they would stand up again immediately, run again and laugh. There are also some children reacted differently. When they fell, they would cried out loud. But when they had calmed down, they were quick to forget the previous “disaster” and played again with no fear. But the most interesting parts about children are their sparkling eyes and their ways to look at things in wonder. If parents teach a child to pray, then in the child’s perspective, prayer can do all things. There was a child who found out that his friend and family member were sick, either just flu or wound, the child will pray immediately. After praying, he would ask, “Have you recovered yet?”


I believe that when Jesus taught us to have a faith like a child it means that we use child’s perspective that there is nothing impossible for Almighty God. Oftentimes as we grow up into adulthood, we face the reality of life, and the child’s faith starts to fade out. We use more of our logics and we assume what many people experience in this world as truth. No wonder then if the eyes of grown up people fade. The eyes are no longer sparkling because there is no faith, hope, nor love.

Many people spend a lot of money to upgrade their looks. But Jesus actually has taught us the recipe of keeping our looks beautiful overtime. The beauty recipe is in keep in faith, keep hoping to God regardless of our circumstances. Our optimism will change the atmosphere around us to become more passionate. The same thing happens when people are filled with love. Their eyes will be warm when they greet one another. These kinds of people are beautiful in the eyes of God and the world. Don’t let your circumstances, your past, your problems to dictate your faith. Don’t let what happens to you rob your sparkling eyes you once had. But let your faith influences them and let your life shines wherever you are entrusted by God.

A hopeful heart in the Lord will always create sparkling eyes.

And that is the everlasting beauty.



Photos by Jennifer Phelps Photography 

A Matter of Heart

“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” –Proverbs 4:23 [NIV]

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Have you ever felt that you were going through a bad day? Nothing was seemed right. From the sun rises until it sets problems keep coming through, people upsets you and disappoint you, and many more. Even a moment after you just have your quiet time there can be something happens that robs your peace immediately. We know that God teaches us to be joyful in all circumstances. But we also know that to put it into action is a whole another level of difficulty. How to guard our hearts to be in harmony with God’s will in practical means?

Let us look what guarding truly looks like. If you have the highest end gadget, what would you do? You will not put it carelessly, won’t you? You will not put it on the public toilet’s floor because you know it will make the gadget dirty and even in danger to be trod upon by others. If you are a typical of person who loves cleanliness and neatness, you probably did not open the plastic cover on your gadget’s screen for some time to keep it clean for a longer time. The thing is, you will treat it more carefully because the gadget is costly and precious for you.

So does with our hearts. Our heart is the place where Holy Spirit lives. Since Jesus has redeemed our sins, our hearts belong to him entirely and he becomes permanent resident in it. Remember that our heart is as expensive as Jesus’ blood! But often we don’t realize how precious our hearts are. We put it carelessly to vain things like wealth, flesh desires, boyfriend/girlfriend. We also feed it with inappropriate movies, gossips, and many more. We put our hearts in places where it shouldn’t be and no wonder that in the end we get dirty hearts in return. But today we have learned this truth, so we can do something with our hearts.

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The practical way to guard our hearts is to guard its cleanliness with guarding our thoughts and make sure that our thoughts are directed to matters which are pleasing to the Lord.

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” –Philippians 4:8 [NIV]

Sins always began in our minds. When we let dirty thoughts creep into our minds, at the same time, we open our hearts to sinful behavior. Hence, the first step to guard our hearts is to keep cleansing our minds with God’s words and good thoughts. If negative thoughts or worries creep into our minds, we have to shift it immediately to the truth, to what God actually says regarding that thought. We cannot never think of negative thoughts, but we can choose not to think about it continuously. Meditate on God’s words every time. You can make Bible verses cards or download Bible applications on your gadgets which you can read while you are waiting in the midst of your activity, while you are at break, etc. My current favorite Bible App are YouVersion and E-sword 😀

Besides guarding our thoughts by filling it with God’s words, we also need to fill our hearts with love. The signs that we have a healthy heart is a heart full of love and forgiveness. If there are still people whom you find it hard to forgive, ask God’s help to enable you to release forgiveness to those people. Know that this process happens throughout our lives. So don’t take it is as something too hard to do. With God, you are able! Keep deciding to guard our minds, to forgive, and to love day by day and we will find our burdens are lifted up. The situations perhaps haven’t changed, but our hearts which stays according to God’s will enables our lives to be filled with joy beyond words could express. God can work more in his children’s lives whose hearts are completely his. Are you willing to surrender your heart entirely to God?

God is the only place where your heart will be safe and unbroken.

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Photos by Voir Pictures, Angga Permana Photography, Pinterest

His Beloved

There are days in our lives when we feel unloved and unworthy. In fact, there are so many people out there who are still trying so hard to gain acceptance, love, appreciation, compliments, etc from others. It has become humans’ necessity in life to simply just being accepted. We may struggled with it once we were just children. We may struggle with it now in our various relationship, e.g. with girlfriend/boyfriend, spouse, parents, boss, and many more. Does it sound familiar to you? It seems like there is a big hole in your life which is screaming to be filled with love, love, and love. You may think that once this person does this and that for you, you will find it be enough. But the truth goes … it is never enough.


I remember the days when I used to feel unloved. At that moment, I questioned about God’s love for me. But in one session of Youth Camp in my campus, one of the speaker told me the story when God made a woman. Its last sentence of the story changed the whole course of my life. Here is the story 🙂

By the time the Lord made a woman, He was in the Sixth day of working. An angel appeared and having conversation with the Lord.

Angel: “Why are you spending so much time on this one?”

Lord: “Have you seen the spec sheet on her? She has a lap that can hold two children at one time and that disappears when she stands up, has a kiss and hug that can cure anything from a scrapped knee to a broken heart, and she is doing all of these with two hands!”

Angel: “Only with two hands, Lord? No way!”

Lord: “Oh, it’s it the hands that are the problem. It’s the three pair of eyes that mothers must have!”

Angel: “Why does she have three pairs of eyes?”

Lord: “Yes, one pair of eyes are to see through the closed door as she asks her children what they are doing even though she already knows. Another pair in the back of her head are to see what she needs to know even though no one thinks she can. And the third pair are here in the front of the head. They are for looking at an errant child and saying that she understands and loves him or her without even saying a single word.

Angel (tried to stop the Lord): “This is too much work for one day, wait until tomorrow to finish!”

Lord: “But I can’t! I am so close to finish this creation that is so close to my own heart. She already heals herself when she is sick and can feed a family on a pound of hamburger and can work 18 hours a day.”

Angel (moved closer and touched the woman): “But you have made her so soft, Lord.”

Lord: “She is soft. But I have also made her tough. You have no idea what she can endure or accomplish.”

Angel: “Will she be able to think?”

Lord: “Not only will she be able to think, she will be able to reason and negotiate.”

Angel (touched the woman’s cheek): “Oops, it looks like you have a leak with this model. I told you that you were trying to put too much into this one.”

Lord: “That’s not a leak. That’s a tear!”

Angel: “What’s the tear for?”

Lord: “The tear is her way of expressing her joy, her sorrow, her pain, her disappointment, her loneliness, her grief, and her pride.”

Angel (impressed): “You are a genius, Lord! You thought of everything, for woman is truly amazing.”

Lord: “Yes, she is. Women have strengths that amaze men. They carry children, they carry hardships, they carry burdens but they hold happiness, love, and joy. They smile when they want to scream. They sing when they want to cry. They cry when they are happy and laugh when they are nervous. They fight for what they believe in. They stand up for injustice. They don’t take “no” for an answer when they believe there us a better solution. They go without new shoes so their children can have them. They love unconditionally. They cry when their children excel and cheer when their friends get awards. Their hearts break when a friend dies. They have sorrow at the loss of family member, yet they are strong when they think there is no strengh left. They know that a hug and a kiss can heal a broken heart. Women come in all sizes, in all colors and shapes. They’ll drive, fly, walk, run, or e-mail you to show how much they care about you. The heart of a woman is what makes the world spin! Women do more than giving birth. They bring joy and hope. They give compassion and ideals. Women have a lot to say and a lot to give.”

“But she has one weakness …”

Angel: “What is it Lord?”

Lord: “She often forgets how worthy she is…”


Yes, indeed! I used to forget that I am worthy. Just like most people, I grew up in an environment where love may not be verbalized nor be shown expressively. It causes children to doubt parents’ love, wives doubt husbands’ love, and at last God’s children doubts God’s love. And as our confidence of God’s love is shaken, we are most likely to end up in downward spiral of life. We question about the goodness of God, life and its purpose. That was why this story became a huge turning point for me. For the very first time, I was being reminded about that I am always worthy in God’s eyes but it’s just my eyes which fail to recognize it.

You are God’s beloved. When the world tries to convince that you are not, He constantly wooing you to win your heart. God is a Father to the fatherless, friend to the friendless, and husband to the husbandless. In fact, although you have a nice father, a great friend, and a lovely spouse, Jesus Christ still surpasses them all. He is the one who keeps being faithful as the world lies through their teeth. He is the ONLY ONE who has the capacity to fill the longings in your heart. In Jesus, you are loved and accepted. Not because of what you’ve done, but because of who He is, Love.

[Isaiah 43:1-7,11,13]
But now, this is what the LORD says-
he who create you, Jacob,
he who formed you, Israel:
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire, 
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.
For I am the LORD your God, 
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;
I give Egypt for your ransom,
Cush and Seba in your stead.
Since you are precious and honored in my sight,
and because I love you,
I will give people in exchange for you,
nations in exchange for your life.
Do not be afraid, for I am with you;
I will bring your children from the east 
and gather you from the west.
I will say to the north, “Give them up!”
and to the south, “Do not hold them back.”
Bring my sons from afar and my daughters 
from the ends of the earth-
everyone who is called by my name,
whom I created for my glory,
whom I formed and made.
I, even I, am the Lord, and apart from me there is no savior.
Yes, and from the ancient days I am he.
No one can deliver out of my hand.
When I act, who can reverse it?”

God is the One who never gives up on you although you even want to quit. You are His beloved and He will not let you go. He will protect you. For it is your destiny to be loved by Him. 


“Letting yourself be loved by God is more important  than loving God” -Brennan Manning

 by Leticia

Photos by Jennifer Phelps Photography

The Potter and The Clay

“Yet you, LORD, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.” -Isaiah 64:8 (NIV)


God usually teaches by using word pictures. It is interesting how He can point out such a great wisdom from merely simple things we see daily. As we read the verse above, we may wonder what does it mean to be illustrated as a clay, while God Himself as our potter. However, this illustration was common on those days when the scripture was written, yet not really common on these days. God led me to dig deeper about this word pictures “The Potter and The Clay.” It has been a fascinating adventure ever since, though I may have not found all the pieces yet. Here is what I learn from the word pictures “The Potter and The Clay” 🙂

1. You are God’s Masterpiece

A clay is merely a clay before it goes to the Potter’s hands. It would be just a bulk of dirt and soils being thrown away somewhere on the street. But as it goes to the Potter’s house, the Potter does not see the clay as merely a clay. He sees it as something he can made out of the worthless clay. At the beginning of human’s creation, he does not see the dust as a mere dust. He saw that He could make the reflection of His image out of it. And that is you and me now.

“And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” -Genesis 2:7

Pottery is not a mass product being made with machines in factory. It is uniquely designed and made by the Potter. It is not an instant product, it is a product of consistency and patience. So are we. You are uniquely designed by the hands of God. Do not struggle to be the same like others because you will not. God sees differences as beauty. Imagine what a boring life will be if everybody looks the same. Meanwhile, as a clay being shaped by the potter takes a long process and some time, so are we. At this moment, God is still not finished with you. If you do not see a happy ending right now, it’s because it’s not the ending yet. God is still not finished. There are still more things to discover, more things to embrace, more love He wants to lavish on you.

2. God has a specific purpose for you

A potter has set in his mind of what he would make before he begins His process. Each pottery is a product of deliberate plan and meaningful purpose. No pottery is an accident. God did not simply just made you and allow you to be born to earth to simply live. Just as a glass made to accommodate water, you are made to do something according to His purpose.

“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” -Psalm 139:14

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3. Round, round, round

A clay which has been reshaped into a ball will be thrown to the pottery wheel. Then the potter will wet his hand, turn on the wheel, and his hands will hold the dough of clay steadily. This process looks like a boring one because all we can see is the clay goes round, round, and round. Doesn’t it seem like our lives? Our lives will contain of routine activity which makes us do the same thing every day and at the same time on and on. We get up in the morning, go to work, face the traffic jam, has usual lunch and a view casual conversation with colleague, go home, and go to bed again. We get bored with it. We want to do something extra ordinary or may be to change the world. But we are stuck with boring daily activities. But here, right at this place, God is shaping you. God is more concern on your character rather than your achievements. Thereby, He will deal with it first before He rewards you in achieving your dreams. It has been widely known that, “It takes talent to bring you to the top, but only character will maintain you there.The greater your dreams are, the longer the ’round’ season of preparation in your life. Try to look this season from God’s perspective. Routine stuff should not be boring when we approach it with different attitude, the attitude of gratitude and surrender knowing that God is in control.

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4. The clay must be pressed against every side to avoid cracks

There are times when the potter will press the inner side and both side of the clay. It is meant to ensure that the side will be smooth and leave uncracked after the process. Just like the clay which will feel uncomfortable while the potter is doing this, problems will make you uncomfortable inevitably. Problems in life are not coincidences. God allows it into your life not to break you down, but to strengthen you. You cannot have a strong faith without the storm of doubt. You cannot know what it means to forgive when you have no difficult person to be forgiven. Good and bad, God use it both for your advantage in the end.

5. Being abandoned, but not forgotten

Too much water in the half-made pottery will cause crack when it is being heated. To avoid this, the half-made pottery will be stored in a room tempearture for 1 day or maybe 1 week (depends on its size and shape). In this phase, you may feel like God has abandoned you. You have prayed, prayed, and prayed, but it seems like nothing happens. You wait, wait, and wait, but you start to grow weary in waiting. It is tempting to forget what God is calling you to do. It is tempting to bury the hope that your situation will ever change. But again, God is in control. This is still not the timing yet. God is never in a hurry. You are still a half-made pottery. If He throws you into the fire of furnishing now, you will break down. He may seem slow, but if you keep on trusting Him, one day you’ll reap the sweets fruit of waiting in perseverance.

“At the time I have decided, my words will come true. You can trust what I say about the future. It may take a long time, but keep on waiting -it will happen!” -Habakkuk 2:3

6. Heat makes you stronger

Clay that has been shaped and molded may become beautiful. And as it dries, it becomes harder. But it never achieves its full potential until it has been through the fire. In the great heat of the Potter’s kiln, the clay is transformed. The half-made pottery will be moved to be heated on 1000 degrees of Celcius in order to give more strength to its body. There will be times when conflicts with our loved ones happen in our lives. If we respond to it rightly, it will make the relationship is getting stronger. But if we respond it to our selfish nature, it will not reach its noble purpose. Do not afraid of conflicts, but be prepared to respond it correctly. It is better to hold your tongue rather than speaking out words that you will regret.

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7. All for His Glory

After enduring such a long process, now the shiny and strong pottery is ready to be displayed. As people starts to compliments the pottery, they may start also to wonder, “Who is the potter?” No one compliment the pottery for the sake of the pottery itself. Because on behind of each pottery, there is the reflection of its Potter. There is no space for the pottery to steal the Potter’s glory. As the world recognizes your talents and accomplishments, let it be known to them WHO made you the way you are. Let all the glory goes back to Him.

8. God of a Second Chance

A potter will be greatly offended when his pottery being crushed and thrown away like a rubbish. It is the same thing when we treat people not so valuable. We degrade them with our words, we think ourselves higher than them, and many more. It hurts God. Because they, too, are His reflection who are precious in His sight. But even if the pottery has been crushed into pieces, that does not make all of His work a failure. A potter can make all the pieces become a bulk of raw clay and start over again from the beginning. I don’t know what you’ve been through in your life at this point, but even if the world has crushed you into pieces, God can start over again if you give Him all the pieces. You are a new creation in His hands!

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He who made us, will take care of us very well til the very end


The Essentials of Being A Leader at Home

In previous post, I have described the part of women as helper in home. Now it is men’s turn 😀 This one will describe more on Derek Prince’s side. For obvious reasons, the preparation a man needs to make for marriage differs from the preparation a woman needs to make. What are the preparations which Derek believes a man should make?


The Matter of Headship

The primary role of a man in home will be as a husband and a father. In short, as a head of a family. Paul pictures a descending chain of headship, which starts in heaven and ends in family: God the Father is the head of Christ, Christ is the head of the man (husband); and the man (husband) is the head of the woman (wife). In this chain, Christ represents God the Father (above Him) to the man (below Him); and the man, in turn, represents Christ (above him) to his wife (below Him). Here is the pattern: A man represents Christ to his wife and family. It’s a tremendous responsibility but also a sacred privilege!

Hmm.. What does it look like to represent Christ in your home? I bet it would be such a gentle, wise, and loving figure ever! The key to the life of Jesus was His relationship to the Father. “The Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.” (John 5:19) In like manner, your success as head of your family will depend on your relationship to Jesus. Make Him the source of your words and actions. Rely on His strength and wisdom within you, not on your own. Let Him live out His life through you.

The Importance of Tenderness and Romance

Consider the tenderness with which the Lord speaks to Israel in Jeremiah 31:3: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.Do not afraid of being tender. It is a mark of strength, not weakness. It is by tenderness that Jesus draws His people to Himself. Allow Him to impart a measure of it to you. Throught it all He will draw your bride to you just as He deaws the Church to himself.

Although our culture has little honor for a man being tender, yet the truth is there is something in every woman that longs for it. She will respond to it just as a flower opens its petals to the sun.

Tenderness goes hand in hand with romance. If you want a picture of the two combined, study the Song of Songs. Romance is not some special kind of activity on its own. It is a quality imparted to other activities that makes them more exciting and enjoyable. Romance is not like an extra course on your meal. It is seasoning added to every course.



A Self-Giving Character

Another quality of the love of Jesus is that it is self-giving. “Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Ephesians 5:25). A successful marriage must follow that pattern. It consists of two lives laid down for each other. First, the husband, like Jesus, lays down his life for the wife. Then the wife in her turn, like the Church, lays down her life for the husband. Thereafter, each kinds fulfillment in the life of the other. The key is understanding that scriptural marriage is based on covenant.

Self-giving is not natural, however, to fallen human nature. It needs to be cultivated. First it requires a decision. Then it must be worked out in daily living, until it becomes part of your character. Do not wait until marriage to begin to give of yourself. That can lead to much unnecessary suffering for you and your wife. Your marriage will benefit greatly if you learn to give of yourself now in the relationships you have with those around you. If you still live at home, give yourself in small acts of service. Take out the garbage even when it is not your turn. Help with the dishes so your sister can go out with her friend. Babysit your younger brother so your parents can have an evening out by themselves. In the church life, too, there are many opportunities for service. All these seemingly small acts will help to build in you something of the self-giving nature of Jesus, which will one day enrich your marriage and make you a pattern to your own children.

Teaching: A Most Important Task

The picture of Jesus as Bridegroom in Ephesians 5:25-26 brings out another aspect of His ministry -that of Teacher. He gave Himself up for the Church “to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word.” The teaching of God’s Word must make the Church pure and holy, fit to be Christ’s Bride.

Here is another way you will be able to represent Jesus to your wife and family: Make provision for them to receive the kind of Bible teaching that will fit them to be part of His Bride. “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). A mother has her part to play, but the primary responsibility of teaching rests on the father.

How can you prepare yourself to fill the role of teacher in your home? First of all, acquire an overall knowledge of the Bible. There are many ways to study: books, study, discussion, courses, seminars and so on. Many people think that this is the task of a pastor or spiritual leader at church. But a man is a spiritual leader at home too. Thereby, it is unlimited responsibility though you have vocation in marketplace 😉

Intercession: Your Highest Ministry

As teacher, you will represent God to your family. As intercessior, you will represent your family to God. Intercession in simple terms is praying continually with a deep concern to certain people and areas of life. Wherever God places you, you can learn to be a man who stands in the gap on behalf of others. Cultivate a regular personal prayer life. Devote your best time to it. Ask God to lay on your heart the individuals for whom He wants to intercede. Aim in your heart and mind that prayer should become as naturl as a part of your family life as meals or play. Your success in the ministry of prayer will probably determine the extent of your success in other areas.

Your Role in Practical Terms

As the head of family, you will be required to be sensitive to register the needs and feelings of others, to foresee problems and dangers, to accept and apply constructive ideas. You will also need wisdom to make decisions which affect not only your own life, but also the lives of others. It is also required the strength of character. In 1 Timothy 3:4-5, Paul compares the responsibility of a church elder to that of a husband and father in his home:
He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him, and he must do so in a manner worthy of full respect. (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?)

To manage means “to stand at the head of or in front of. “This is the position of the husband and father. He goes ahead of his family; he leads the way. Also when evil or danger threatens his family, he stands in front of them, placing himself between them and what threaten thems. In sum, it is about leadership.


Two Foundations: Faithfulness and Responsibility

There are two foundations on which this kind of leadership must be based: faithfulness and responsibility. In everything you are asked to do, seek the help of Jesus and be faithful. No matter how insignificant things that you do, seek the help of Jesus and be faithful. Proverbs 28:20 says, “A faithful man will abound with blessings“.

Cultivating the Characteristics

Derek was trained for ministry in British Army in North Africa. He faced many confronting tough, real-life situations and accepting the resposibility for the needs of others. His constant companion was his pocket Bible. That ‘desert’ experience provided him a solid foundation for his spiritual development. Joseph cultivated faithfulness and responsibility first in Potiphar’s house, then in prison. The result was promotion. Characters, undoubtedly, are build in uncomfortable situation. As a leader, it is your duty to be outside of your comfort zone, make a path, so that one day people can walk through the same path more easily.

The generations are desperately in need of courageous men who wants to step out and ready to accept the challenge to be the man God intend him to be. A man with a clear purpose on his role and well prepared before entering marriage covenant will determine a better course of his marriage. And yes.. great marriage can be more easily achieved. By God’s grace, we can do it!


Leticia Seviraneta

Photos by Jennifer Phelps Photography


The Essentials of Being A Helper

For generations, there has been a tendency to think that being single is like lacking of something [read: mate]. No wonder, there are many people who have lack of appreciation of singleness. It seems like being single will make you lonely and you will look like a weirdo. The conditions are getting worse when in our culture [Indonesians] people love to go in a group-setting. It is entirely different with the Westerns. We are not so comfortable to be alone in the midst of crowd while for Westerns they are very okay with it. But the truth is this … single does not mean alone. Single does mean alone when we do not embrace it thankfully and we lack of its noble purpose. Singleness is a great season in life where we can live generously, serve limitlessly, and developing relationship with God intimately.


The singles enjoy some benefits which married people may be restricted to, for example, time (how sweet the sound of it for some of you).

One thing that upsets me is that I see ignorance of single people regarding their future marriage. Instead of getting busy with preparing ourselves in order to get ready spiritually, mentally, and physically for marriage; we are busy of things that have no added value for days to come. Great marriage does not just happen. Even pre-marital counseling is not enough. I mean … how can 3-6 months of ‘learning’ of marriage getting ourselves completely prepared for marriage. I do not undervalue pre-marital counseling, but I do believe that there are something that should be developed since we are single and have not even met our mate. Something so priceless that will take TIME and EFFORT to build it. In this article, I would like to elaborate what we can do in our singleness as a woman in order to be a helper God intended to be for a man. In later post, I would present it from the men’s side too 🙂 [These were summarized from Derek and Ruth Prince book, “God is a Matchmaker”]

Ruth Prince once said a very vital key in order to be a good helper in the future. She said, “What I discovered then, and continue to discover, is that the same qualities that make a woman pleasing to the Lord will make her pleasing to her mate.” Wow.. doesn’t it sound simple? In short, if we develop Godly character, then automatically we are pleasing to our mate.

She continued, “If you will approach preparation for marriage at the earthly level with your heart turned toward the Lord Jesus, remembering that your ultimate destiny is to be part of His beautiful Bride, then what you gain will be not temporal happiness, but eternal bliss. Preparation for marriage will also prepare you for Jesus.

How does God view us as women? He described her: “I will make a helper suitable for [man]” (Genesis 2:18). Now here is the highlighted truth: A woman’s nature finds expression and fulfillment in helping man (specifically: husband). We may not get excited hearing the word “helper”. Many people wrongly assume that being a helper is like being inferior than men, more like a domestic helper. But that is not true! Being helper means that you will be the one to help your husband’s vision and dreams come true. You will enlarge, enhance, add life, and more values to his life! Doesn’t it sound so noble? Indeed, God has designed us with such a noble purpose! Later in the book, Ruth Prince offered us her 12 suggestions regarding what we can do in order to fulfilled our noble purpose 🙂

1) Prepare to be a Helper


A great marriage does not begin by finding a mate, it is by beginning with ourselves. Of course, the vocation of our husband will determine a lot specifically where we can fit our role as a helper into. Normally, however, the primary way a wife helps her husband is by making a home for him. This is true whether she is a full-time housewife or a working wife. In my personal opinion, the degree of warmth in the home will determine how comfortable the members of the household to linger in it 🙂

This is true for husband and children.So it is about bringing the atmosphere of home into the house. We can decorate it, keep it clean, do the laundry, makes a good lunch or dinner [if we don’t have time to cook, at least we provide it in other way ;)] The woman also has the responsibility to God and to her husband to mold and shape the characters of the little lives that are entrusted to them.

It is from his home that the husband goes out to the world, to succeed or fail, to be fulfilled or frustrated.The wife who creates an atmosphere of love and ecouragement, of peace and stability, can expect to share in the blessings and rewards of her husband’s successes.

Whether homemaking is interesting and challenging or dull and dreary is determined by her attitude. If you will prepare your attitude now, and view your future home as the means of expressing your love and gratitude toward God and your husband, you will have taken the first step toward being a happy, successful, fulfilled wife. A working wife will find a greater challenge to balance her primary role in home and her secondary role in workplace. It is not forbidden however to be a working wife, as long as your primary role is not neglected 😉

2) Cultivate Your Relationship with the Lord

Remember that relationships take time. We must be willing to spend time with the Lord, to worship Him, to read His Word, to pray, to wait upon Him. Without this, we can never fully develop. Bear in mind that no woman can give to her husband any more than she has within her. A woman’s full beauty and potential will never be realized if she is underdeveloped spiritually.

NOW is the time to lay a solid foundation on which to build throughout a lifetime whether single or married.

Give God your best time. For most of us, this is early in the morning before we face the world. Single women can learn to focus on Jesus, our heavenly Bridegroom. Once we can see him this way, we can do nothing less than make the expression of our love for Him our highest priority. Ruth practiced this by waking up at 5 so that she would not cheat the Lord and go to work daily at 7.30 AM. We barely imagine this far, that relationship does take discipline to be developed 😉

Begin with thanksgiving and praise. Ruth begins each day by thanking Him for loving her, for the blood of Jesus, for the beauty of creation, for the privilege of serving Him. She could not sing, but she memorizes the lyrics of hymn while taking a bath, brushing her teeth, and even putting on make up.

Read your Bible before you pray. We honor God by allowing Him to speak to us before we begin to speak to Him.

Keep a prayer list, especially if you pray alone. Do not give all your prayer time to problematic people. Pray also for those making an impact for the Kingdom of God. Salvation, healing, direction, spiritual leaders, specific segments of the Church, nations can be things that we pray for 🙂 Pray for yourself too 🙂 And keep in note for the Scripture which speaks the most to you at that moment 🙂

Don’t limit the Lord to quiet times. We can relate to the Lord continually. Ruth always have the conversational lines open. She learned especially to communicate with the Lord when her hands were busy but her mind was free -washing dishes, ironing, personal grooming, driving car. She listened to Scripture recordings or Bible teachings too. These habits have enriched her single life and continue to enrich her married life.

Check on yourself to make sure God is in first place. “If you were ever closer to Jesus than you are today, you are backslidden” Choose to be close to Him in constant basis.

3) Cultivate Commitment and Loyalty

You cannot begin to practice commitment and loyalty the day you get married. If you have not first given yourself wholeheartedly to the Lord, and then to some person or cause, you will not be prepared to give yourself to your husband.

If you are employed, are you committed to your employer? Or are you hireling who counts the hours and looks for excuses for time off? If you live at home, do you take responsibility for your tasks, or do you always have to be reminded? Are you loyal to your family? When you make a promise, do you keep it, or do you find an excuse to renege? Are you committed to your church? Can you be depended on to carry through on projects for which you have volunteered?

4) Cultivate Your own Self-Esteem

Many women marry the wrong man or fail in their marriages because they do not set a high enough value on themselves. You are a child of God. Jesus valued you so highly and loved you so much He died for you!

And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit – 2 Corinthians 3:18

Satan’s primary activity against believers is accusation. Another is discouragement. Our best answer, just as it was for Jesus, is the Word of God. As you read and pray, the Holy Spirit may show you areas in which you need to change or improve. Do not yield to condemnation or self-pity when it happens. Rather ask God to help you and exercise your own will to bring it about. Embrace this truth: Whom the Son has set free is free indeed!

An important result of developing your self-esteem is that you will be better able to encourage and build up your husband. Thus you will be able to help him reach his own full potential. Her opinion of him is vital for his success. She can encourage him, pray for him, and then have the excitement of watching God to bring it to fulfillment.


5) Be Willing to Learn

Be willing to learn practical homemaking skills: sewing, cooking and nutrition, child care, household management, home decorating, flower arranging, handicrafts [ehem .. all of these are optional.. but I know you know they are important ;)]. Do not underestimate the value if sport and physical fitness activities. Being healthy is essential to be a strong helper. Make this a priority in order to develop the practical skills. The well-prepared always do things better than the unprepared.

We can also learn to babysit in advance. We can get to know how the children communicate, response, feel, and so on. Be dilligent to avoid passive occupations that leave you empty and your senses dulled, especially television. You are a beautiful creation with God’s life within you. You can never recover a lost day, or a lost our. By all means relax in ways that will build you up. Use your time wisely now. Now is the opportunity to invest your time in activities that will bring forth dividends throughout your life, whether single or married.

6) Be Willing to Serve

There is no better way for a woman to express her love for her husband than by serving him. The loving wife will study her husband and learn to anticipate his needs even before he asks. Keeping your home as your expression of love for your husband and as a service for him will take away the drudgery.

How can you prepare beforehand to serve your husband? By serving others with gladness of heart! If you are willing to serve others, to be faithful in the little things and over someone else’s property, God will, in His time, give you your own.

Serving is not limited in homemaking stuff, it is also in areas where your skills and talents can contribute to your husband’s vocation 😉 I am amazed how Ruth has served Derek gladyly in their marriage life. She even claimed that what satisfied her the most was serving Derek. Even before she married, she began to look for ways to lift burdens from Him. She tried to keep life as uncomplicated for him as possible, whether they are at home or on ministry journeys. One thing astounds me is that when most women travels by bringing additional bag for their make ups and other girlie stuff, Ruth carried in her suitcase a variety of gadgets and provisions to make Derek as comfortable as possible 🙂

7) Be Willing to Adjust to Your Husband’s Priorities

It is the wife’s duty to be flexible, ready to adapt to her husband’s desires because he is the head (1 Cor 11:3). He sets the pattern for the way their lives will flow together. The wife should be queen in home, but the husband is king!


Flexibility is needed not only for big moves, but in the little things of daily life. At first, Ruth was a morning person; Derek is a night person. By the grace of God, Ruth changed so that they both keep the same schedule. She had also learned to nap with him in the afternoon 😉

There are many women who frequently change their hair and clothing styles, the way they cook, and so on. But pleasing your husband will bring you many more blessings than pleasing yourself.

8) Learn to Pray and Intercede for Others

“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayer and requests … Be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. Pray also for me (Ephesians 6:18-19).

God is looking for intercessors. As you spend time with the Lord daily, ask Him to show you what is on His heart that you can pray about. As you learn to intercede, there will be no shortage of topics. God will bring people and situations to your mind. And people will ask for your prayers.

The benefits of being intercessors are it takes our minds of ourselves and prepares us to intercede for our husbands. Learning to pray with a partner too will prepare you to pray for your husband.

9) Learn Proper Care for Your Body

Once God spoke to Derek: “If you are to fulfill the ministry I have for you, you will need a strong, healthy body, and you are putting on too much weight.” Yes the message is clear : We need strong, healthy bodies to fulfill God’s plans for our lives.

Feeding the family and developing good food habits is the wife’s responsibility. The more you can learn before you marry, and the more appealing your recipes you have already perfected, and more ready you will to keep your husband and children well and strong.

Make sure you do sport in routine basis. It has many other positive effects such as to overcome boredom and frustration 🙂 An extra benefit: Physically fit, properly nourished young women have much easier pregancies and labor, and have healthier babies 😉

10) Observe the Wife’s Behavior in Exemplary Marriages

Choose a role model whom you admire in her effort in being a Godly helper for her husband. There is always something to learn from different types of wives out there. We are not going to completely copy them for God has created us all unique 🙂 Bear in mind, too, that someday you may be someone’s role model, if you dilligent to prepare yourself and continue your development after marriage. You want to be able to say, “Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ” (1 Cor 1:11)

11) Trust God: Be Willing to Wait

God loves you. “No good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly” (Psalm 84:11). He will care for you whether you are single or married.

Too often women enter into a marriage because they fear they will never have another chance. Then they learn that it was better to be single than to be married to the wrong man. Their lives become shipwrecked,and often the lives of their children and grandchildren as well.

Some women may wait quite long fully in trust to the Lord, and in the end meet her best mate in old age. God’s timing, as odd as it seems, is the best after all.


12) Set Your Goals, Establish Your Priorities

Review points 1 through 11 in the sections above. Ask the Lord in what areas you need to develop at the moment. Make a list which you could attain in the next three months, six months, and new year. Be realistic. Consider your present abilities. Do not aim to run in a marathon in a week 🙂 After setting goals, you can establish priorities that will lead you to them. Do not try to do everything at once.

Begin to bring your use of time in line with the defree of importance of each activity. Fit your new goals in their appropriate places. As you shift your priorities, your life will begin to change.

So, how’s the journey? 😀 Let us prepare to be a great helper to our future spouse as God intended it to be! Such a noble calling!



Photos by Jennifer Phelps Photography

Things I Wish I’d Known Before We Got Married (Part 2)

Hereby, I continue my previous post about things we better know before we get married 😀 Enjoy reading!

#6 I Wish I Had Known … That forgiveness is not a feeling

The healthy response to an apology is forgiveness. But what does it mean to forgive? I thought that forgiveness was letting go of the hurt, and, thus, restoring the feelings of love. But it just did not happen that way. Now, here are what forgiveness is and is not. When one of us offends the other, an emotional barrier is erected between the two of us. The passing of time will never remove the barrier. Barriers are removed by sincere apologies and genuine forgiveness. Forgiveness removes the barrier, and lifts the penalty. The Scriptures say, “As far as the east is from the west, so far has [God] removed our transgressions from us.” No longer does God demand that we pay for our wrongdoing. When we sincerely apologize and request His forgiveness, He pardons us and will never again hold that failure against us. We are instructed to forgive each other in the same way that God forgives us. Thus, forgiveness is not a feeling but a decision. It is the decision to offer grace instead of demanding justice. Forgiveness removes the barrier and opens the possibility for the relationship to grow.


To avoid misconceptions of forgiveness, here are the four things that forgiveness does not do.

1. Forgiveness does not destroy our memory.

There has been a well-known statement which say, “If you have not forgotten, you have not forgiven.” This statement is untrue. The human brain records every experience, good and bad, pleasant and unpleasant. It has two compartments, the conscious mind and the subconscious mind. The hurtful memories stored up in subsconscious mind can leap to conscious mind without being requested. The memory does not mean that you have not forgiven.

We cannot completely forgive in one day. But as each day we surrender and obey God to forgive, one day for sure you will be able to forgive completely. It means simply that you are human and remembering a painful experience. But we can handle these painful memories by surrendering it to God. In your prayer, affirm your decision to forgive and seeking to foster growth in the future. Forgiveness is a daily decision.

2. Forgiveness does not remove all the consequences of wrongdoing.

A father abandons his wife and children. Twenty years later, he comes back to apologize. They can forgive him -but it does not restore the twenty lost years. All of our behavior has consequences. Negative behavior has negative consequences. Forgiveness does not remove all the consequences of wrong behavior.

3. Forgiveness does not rebuild trust

A husband who had been sexually unfaithful to his wife later broke off the affair and apologized to his wife. The wife said to her counselor, “I think I have forgiven him, but I don’t trust him.” The fact is, forgiveness does not automatically restore trust. Trust is that gut-level confidence that someone is a person of integrity. Trust in a relationship is destroyed when one partner is unfaithful. How then is trust rebuilt? By changing your behavior and by being trustworthy. Over a period of time, if you are doing what you say you will do and being open and aboveboard in all of the dealings, trust will be most likely earned. Openness and a consistent pattern of honesty can open the door of possibility that trust can be regained.

4. Forgiveness does not always result in reconciliation.

Reconciliation means “to bring back to harmony.” Reconciliation requires working through differences, finding new way of doing things, solving the conflicts of the past, and learning how to work together as a team. The length of time to be reconciled will depend largely on how long the two of you have been “out of harmony”.

Forgiveness does not automatically bring harmony in the relationship. However, it does open the possibility of reconciliation.

What if the person who has offended you does not apologize? The most positive approach is to lovingly confront them with their offense and hope that they will apologize and you can forgive. But we cannot force an apology. We can extend the olive branch and express our willingness to forgive. An apology says, “I value this relationship, and I want to deal with this problem.” The refusal to apologize says, “I do not value this relationship, and it’s okay with me if we continue to be estranged.”

There are no healthy marriages without sincere apologies and genuine forgiveness. If you learn how to apologize and forgive, you will have in place two of the major elements for building a successful marriage.


#7 I Wish I Had Known … That toilets are not self-cleaning

Gary had never considered the idea that he would be a toilet cleaner after marriage. If and when you get married, who do you think will clean the toilet in your apartment or house? In most premarital counseling, most men think that the wife will clean it, while most women think their husband will clean it. Gary grew up where the toilet was never dirty. He never saw anyone cleaning the toilet not he himself ever cleaned it. Two weeks after got married, he noticed that the toilet had dark stains. As he mentioned it to his wife, Karolyn, she said, “I know. I was wondering when you were going to clean it.” Gary was surprised. “Clean it?! I thought you were going to clean it. I don’t know how to clean the toilet.” “Well then, let me teach you,” she said.

Confusion over roles is one of the most stressful aspects of contemporary marriages. The role in your father and mother play in the your previous home influence a lot on your expectation of what your spouse will do in you current home. One young wife who has grown up in a home where his father did the vacuum cleaning and car wash would most likely think that her husband would do exactly the same thing. But what if in her husband’s previous home his mother did all those things? He would expect his wife to do so too.

The issue is many people enter marriage without ever having discussed who is going to do what after you get married. So who is going to do what will certainly be needed to be discussed earlier.

If you are seriously contemplating marriage, make a list of all the things that come to mind that will have to be done in order to maintain a household. Be sure include your vehicles and who will purchase and prepare the food, do the laundry, and vacuum the floors. Ask your partner to make a similar list. Then discuss it. Where you have disagreements, it calls for negotiation. Share with each other your reasons for the choice you made. Be open and honest as you can about what brought you to that conclusion.

After listening emphatically, then seek to make an agreement on who will accept that responsibility. If you can’t agree before marriage, what makes you think you will agree after marriage?

It doesn’t mean that you are locked into these responsibilities for the rest of your life. It may be opened for adjustments. Discussing it in advance causes you enter marriage with a better understanding on your expectations of each other.


#8 I Wish I Had Known … That we needed a PLAN for handling our MONEY

Gary and Karolin in their first three years of marriage had no money problems because thay simply had no money. As long as there is enough income to pay for the necessities, they are not likely to have marital struggles about money. But their struggles came after they had just started “making money”.

“Our Money” : Building Unity

The first foundational stone in developing a financial plan is to agree that after marriage, it will no longer be “my money” and “your money” but “our money”. At the heart of marriage is the desire for unity. “For better or for worse,” we intend to live life together. The implication is that we will share our income and work as a team in deciding what to do with our money. Incidentally, this also means that his or her debts will become “our debts,” and we have the responsibility to develop a plan to repay these debts. It also means that his and her savings will become “our savings.” If you are not ready for this kind of unity, then you are not ready for marriage.

Saving, Sharing, Spending

The second step in developing a financial plan is to agree on a percentage of income that you will save, give away, and spend. There are essentially only three things you can do with money. You can save it, you can give it away, or you can spend it. Deciding the percentage that you will allocate to each of these categories is an important step in making a financial plan.

Gary has encouraged couples to adopt “10-10-80 Plan” Save and invest 10% if your net income. The first purpose is to have emergency funds in case of sickness or loss of job. The second purpose of saving is to pay off any credit card and consumer debts that the two of you may have. The third purpose of saving is in order to make major purchases such as home and automobile. Another 10% is to be given away. The happiest people in the world are not those who have the most money but those who have learned the satisfaction of giving to help others. An early Christian text says, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

The Other 80 Percent

That leaves 80% to be divided among mortgage payments (for rent), utilities, insurance, furniture, food, clothes, transportation, medicine, recreation, etc. How this is distributed is your decision. The most common mistake young couples make is to purchase a house that is beyond their income. A common guideline is to spend no more than 40 percent of your net income on housing and utilities.

Wise shopping does make a difference (important note for ladies). Another extremely important matter that needs to be discussed by every couple is credit buying. The media screams, “Buy now, pay later.” What is not stated is that if you buy now without cash, you will pay much more later. One guiding principle is notice all the details of offerings. If you have a credit card, use it only for emergencies (medical treatment) and necessities. Then pay off the balance as quickly as possible. If couple do not have a credit card, somehow it can be a problem when you get ready to purchase a house, car, or major appliance.

Another practical idea that can prevent much tragedy is an agreement on the part of both that neither will make a major purchase without consulting the other. Determine the range of of price that needs negotiation on both parts. For example, the purchasing which exceeds $100 needs agreement, and so on.

Records all the income and outcome of money well. This task can be assigned to a partner and it can change. Remember that you are a team and both team members must be fully aware of financial details.

#9 I Wish I Had Known … That mutual sexual fulfillment is not automatic

This is another area in which Gary had never anticipated before entering marriage. He thought, “I was fully male; she was fully female -and we had a high level of sexual attraction for each other. What more could we need?” He anticipated that this part of marriage was going to be heaven for both of them. After the wedding, he discovered that what is heavenly for one may be hell for the other.

No one told him that males and females are different. Gary knew nothing about female sexuality. He thought she would enjoy it as much as he did; that she would want to do it as often as he did; and that what pleasured him would also pleasure her. And he discovered too that she knew little about male sexuality.

First, Gary wishes he had known that while men focus on intercourse, women focus on relationship. If the relationship has been fractured by harsh words and irresponsible behavior, the female will find it very hard to be interested in sex. To her, sex is an intimate act and grows out of a loving relationship. Ironically, most men often think that sexual intercouse will solve whatever relationship problems may exist. One woman said, “I can’t have sex with a man who has verbally abused me.” Sincere apologies and genuine forgiveness must precede the experience of “making love.”

For women, sex begins in the kitchen, not in bedroom. If he speaks her love language in the kitchen (for example: acts of service) by washing dishes and taking out garbage, it may be a sexual turn-on for her. One husband said, “If I had known that taking out the garbage was sexy to my wife, I would have been taking out the garbage twice a day. No one ever told me that.”

On the other hand, if words of affirmation is her love language, then complimenting her on a meal or on how beautiful she looks will stir inside of her the desire to be sexually intimate with him. This is true whatever the love language of your spouse. A husband may have a satisfying sexual experience with his wife even when his “love tank” is not full, while the wife would find it extremely difficult.

Second, Gary wishes he had known that to the wife, foreplay is more important than the actual act of intercourse itself. It is the tender touches and kisses of foreplay that bring her to the point of desiring intercourse. Without sufficient foreplay, the wife will often feel violated. One wife said, “I want to feel loved. All he is interested in is having intercourse.”

Third, Gary wishes he had known that mutual sexual satisfaction does not require simultaneous climax. Orgasm does not have to come simultaneously. When his stimulation of the clitoris gives her the pleasure of orgasm, she is now ready for him to complete the act of intercourse and experience the pleasure of climax.

Fourth, I wish I had known that when one forces a particular sexual act upon one’s spouse, it ceases to be an act of love and becomes sexual abuse. True love is always seeking to bring pleasure to the spouse. It is never demanding something that the spouse finds objectionable. To violate this principle is to sabotage mutual sexual fulfillment.

Fifth, Gary wishes he had known that sex is more than intercourse. By its very nature, sex is a bonding experience. It is the union of male and female in the most intimate way. It is not simply the joining of two bodies. It is the union of body, soul, and spirit. This is why the Christian faith reserve intercouse for marriage. It is designed to be the unique bonding experience that unites a husband and wife in a lifelong intimate relationship. If intercourse is viewed only as a way to relieve sexual tension or to experience a moment of sexual pleasure, it ceases to reach its designed purpose. And it eventually becomes a mundane act of selfishness. But as the intercourse is viewed as an act of love that expresses in the deepest possible way our commitment to each other, it leads to mutual sexual fulfillment.


Sixth, Gary wishes he had known that communication is the key that unlocks sexual fulfillment. Speak openly about your desire and listen emphatically to your partner. “What could I do or not do that would make the sexual part of marriage better for you?” Do not feel rejected or even condemned when your partner speaks openly to you. If you do this in the first six months of the marriage, you will be on the road to finding mutual sexual fulfillment.

Seventh, Gary wishes he had known that the past never remains in the past. The reality speaks that the previous sexual experience often becomes a psychological barrier in achieving sexual unity in marriage. It is in contrary with the idea that sexual experience before marriage better prepares you for marriage. All of the research indicates otherwise. The divorce rate among those who have had previous sexual experience is twice as high as those who have had previous sexual experience before marriage.

When it comes to marriage, something deep within the human psyche cries out for an exclusive relationship. And we are pained by the thought that our spouse has been sexually intimate with others. It is far better to deal with past sexual experiences before marriage. When this happens after marriage, the awareness of deception often is more difficult to overcome than the sexual activity itself.

#10 I Wish I Had Known … That I was marrying into a family

The wedding will not just be the two of you. You are marrying into a family, for better or for worse. Her family does not dissapear the day after the wedding. In some non-Western cultures, parental involvement is more pronounced and overt. In some cases, the bride actually moves into the house with her husband and his parents and lives there indefinitely. His mother will teach her how to be the wife he needs. There have been so many complaints regarding this in-laws relationships:
“His mother wants to tell me how to cook. I’ve been cooking for ten years. I don’t need her help.”

“My wife’s parents give her money to buy things we can’t afford. I resent that. I wish they would let us run our own lives.”

“Her father is an accountant. He’s giving me advice on how to manage our money. Frankly, I don’t usually agree with his advice. But I try to be nice.”

“My husband’s brother is always telling him what he should do. It bothers me that my husband is so influenced by his brother’s advice. If I have different idea, he always sides with his brother.

When you marry, you become a part of an extended family. This family may include a mother, father, stepmother, stepfather, brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts, cousins, nieces, nephews, and even perhaps an ex-husband or an ex-wife. Your relationship may be distant or close, positive or negative, but you will have a relationship because you are marrying into a family.


Five Key Issues

Normally, the most intimate of these relationships will be with your spouse’s parents. So we will focus more on mother-in-law and father-in-law relationships. Here are some cases: Spending family tradition holiday, difference of habits, different expectations.

One wife said, “My mother-in-law is the most organized woman I know. You should see her closets. Every shoe is in the right place and all of her dresses are color coordinated. The problems is I’m not very organized and when she comes to our apartment, she tries to give me suggestions that she thinks will make my life easier. I’m sorry but that’s just not who I am. Besides that, I don’t have time to keep everything organized.” One husband said, “Every time I’m around her father, it’s like he’s trying to convert me to his brand of Christianity. I am a Christian but I’m not as dogmatic and pushy as he is. I think religion is a personal matter and I resent him trying to pressure me to agree with him.”

So how do you build a positive relationship with your in-laws?

1. Learning to listen

By emphatic listening, it means that listening with a view to understand what your in-laws think, how they came to that conclusion, and how strongly they feel about it. By nature, most of us are not good listeners. Emphatic listening holds judgment until you are certain that you understand what the other person is saying. It can involve clarifying questions, such as, “What I understand you to be saying is … Is that correct?” Once you have listened long enough to understand, then you are free to give your perspective on the subject.

Emphatic listening does not require you to agree with the other person’s ideas, but it does require you to treat them and their ideas with respect. If you respect their ideas and speak to them with kindness, they are far more likely to respect your ideas and treat you kindly. Mutual understanding and mutual respect grows out of emphatetic listening.

Learn the “I” language. Instead of saying, “You hurt my feelings when you said that,” you might say, “I felt hurt when I heard you say that.” When you start your sentence with “I”, you are giving your perspective. When you begin your sentence with “you,” you are placing blame and will likely experience a defensive response from your in-laws.

2. Learning to negotiate

The third ingredient to having good relationships with your in-laws is learning to negotiate differences. Make requests and not demands. For example, offer your spouse to spend this year’s Christmas with your parents but with his parents for the next year.

3. Learning Their Love Language

Learn the primary love language of your in-laws and speak that language regularly. When your in-laws feel genuinely loved, it creates a positive climate in which to negotiate differences. Nothing communicates love deeply than speaking the right love language. Gary’s mother-in-law love language is acts of service. So he painted the house for her, and she could not be unhappy for that.

Talk it over all the potential areas of conflict with your extended families and about how you will handle these issues.

#11 I Wish I Had Known … That spirituality is not to be equated with “going to church”

Many couples never get around to discussing their religious beliefs at all. But so many problems which rise within marriage are surrounding this issue. So there must be a compatibility on sprituality.

What do you think of God?

There should be one concept of God. Has God spoken? Do not assume that you are a Christian, a Buddhist, etc when you have not struggling with the foundation of your belief. Even within Christianity itself, it comes in many flavors such as, Catholicism, Protestantism, and so on. Explore your traditions and seek to negotiate your differences. To marry simply because you are “in love” and to ignore the implications of these spiritual differences are signs of immaturity.


What kind of “Christian”?

There are some people who call themselves Christians attend church only during the Easter and Christmas holiday. Other than those holidays, their religion tends to influence them very little. There are many who attend church on regular basis. There are also some who involved in small Bible-study groups and cell-groups. These people live in deep and close community with those who attend the group. There are Christians who have a daily devotional time in chich they read the Scriptures to hear the voice of God, praise and worship, thankgiving, and pray. This daily “quiet time” is the most important part of their day. Thus, it becomes extremely important to discover what kind of Christian you are dating. What is their level of commitment and involvement in the Christian community? How important is their faith to them? And what kind of impact does it have on their personal life? It is obvious that an Easter-Christmas Christian is very different from a daily “quiet time” Christian.

Religious beliefs are often accompanied by strong emotions and deeply held convictions. It influences how we make decisions in life. For many dating couples, spirituality is an unexplored opic. They simply assume that this area of life will take care of itself after marriage. But the truth is, it does not take care of itself. And it will not. It takes a common agreement far before marriage to build a strong marriage. It will save you from a lot of heartaches.

#12 I Wish I Had Known … That personality profoundly influences behavior

Morning Person and Night Person

Gary envisioned his marriage would be full of romantic and calm breakfast in the morning. After he got married, he found out that Karolyn didn’t do mornings. Breakfast was not her “thing.” In dating years, Karolyn once said, “Don’t call me in the mornings. I’m not responsible for what I say or do before noon.” Gary took it as a joke and laughed. But after marriage indeed she was serious. Gary’s dream for a quiet romantic breakfast with his wife was shattered in first month of their marriage. He was left to eat breakfast in silence, except for the songs of birds were singing outside the window. On the other hand, Karolyn envisioned what the two of them would do between 10 p.m. and midnight. Her visions included reading and discussing books, watching movies together, discussing deeper issues of life. But Gary’s physical, emotional, and intellectual motor shut down after 10 p.m. The possibility of carrying on intelligent conversation was greatly diminished after that hour. During dating, he stayed alive and engaged with her until midnight. But that was because he was pushed by euphoric feelings of “being in love.” And that does not continue forever after they were married.

This personality difference may have a profound impact upon a couple’s sexual relationship. The morning person wants to go to bed at ten, cuddle, and make love, while the night person is saying, “You have got to be kidding. I can’t go to bed this early.” The morning person may feel rejected, while the night person feels like they are being controlled. The negotiation can be like this: the night person may agree to have sex at 10 p.m. if the morning person will allow them to leave the bedroom after love-making and pursue their other interests until midnight. However, if the morning person insists that the night person remain in bed after making love, that person may feel controlled and frustrated.

A morning person will never become a night person, and a night person will never become a morning person. It’s part of our personality.

Half Full of Half Empty?

The pessimist and the optimist are often attracted to each other.The optimist sees the glass half full; the pessimist sees it as half empty. The optimist sees the possibilities, while the pessimist sees the problems. While in dating stage, personality difference may not be apparent because of the illusion of euphoric feeling. For example, the optimist tends to be a risk taker because he is convinced in his own mind that everything will turn out be find. Thus, he may suggest the two of them go bungee jumping. The pessimist by nature does not want to take risks because she assumes that the worst could happen. Therefore, she would never have entertained the thought of bungee jumping. But because she admires her lover, she is willing to do it. The optimist is thrilled to be dating someone who is adventuresome, never realizing that she has gone far beyond her emotional comfort zone. After marriage, while her husband suggests them to go rock climbing, she would strongly resist the idea or even unwilling to let him go alone or with friends. She is unwilling to be a widow if something happens to her husband. The husband will be turned off seeing her response. Why does she change? The problem is neither of them knew who the other person was before they got married. The euphoria of dating experience blinded them to this personality difference.

Understanding, accepting, and negotiating personality differences are essential in building a foundation for a healthy marriage.

Neatniks and Slobs

Some people do live by the motto “A place for everything and everything in its place.” Other people have no compulsion to put away their tooks, clothes, used coffee mugs, or anything elese. “They don’t bother me anyway.” It is obvious during dating times when we want to open our eyes. Look at her kitchen and bedroom closet and you will know which personality pattern is natural for her. Look at his car and apartment. If the two of you fall in the same category, both of you will be happy effortlessly. If you fall into different categories, then now is the time for negotiation.

The Dead Sea and Babbling Brook

This is about speech. For some people, they have the Dead Sea personality. They receive all kinds of thoughts, feelings, and experiences throughout the day. They are perfectly happy not to talk about that. On the other hand, Babbling Brook is the individual for whom whatever comes into the eye gate or ear gate comes out the mouth gate -usually in less than sixty seconds. Whatever they see, they hear, they will tell. They have no reservoir; whatever they experience, it spills over and they tell it to someone.

Often the Dead Sea will marry a Babbling Brook. Before marriage, the differences are viewed as attractive. While dating, the Dead Sea can relax. He or she does not have to think, “How will I get the conversation started?” or, “How will I keep the conversation flowing?” All they have to do is sit there, nod their head, and say, “Uh-huh.” The Babbling Brook will fill up the evening. On the other hand, the Babbling Brook finds Dead Sea equally attractive because Dead Seas are the world’s best listeners. However, after five years of marriage, the Babbling Brook may say, “We’ve been married five years and I don’t know her.” At the same time, the Dead Sea may say, “I know him too well. I wish he would stop the flow and give me a break.”

The Babbling Brook tells stories with all the details. While the Dead Seas are bottom-line communicators. They simply get to the point. They will sometimes interrupt and say, “Could you just get to the point?” The Dead Sea will never become a Babbling Brook. So the person who is married to a Dead Sea must be content to live with a pweson who will not readily share all of their thoughts and feelings. Most of Dead Seas are open when the Babbling Brook asks questions. The Dead Sea is not willfully withholding information; they simply have no compulsion to share all of their thoughts, feelings, and experiences. The Dead Sea also needs moments of silence. So if the Dead Sea retreats, it does not mean that he or she rejects the Babbling Brook. If this personality differences are discussed before marriage, they are far less likely to be troublesome after marriage.

Passive and Aggresiveness

The aggressive husband or wife believes that each day is a new opportunity to advance the cause. They will aggressively pursue what they want, what they believe to be right, or what they think should happen. On the other hand, the passive spouse will spend time thiking, analyzing, wondering “What if?” and waiting for something good to happen. Their theme is, “Everything comes to him who waits.” In marriage, the couple often finds these traits divisive. The aggressive partner keeps trying to push the passive partner into action. “Come on; we can make this happen.” While the passive partner keeps saying, “Let’s wait. There might be a better opportunity later. Don’t get so excited. Everything is going to work out.”

It is certainly possible for these two individuals to build a successful marriage, but it requires the aggressor to be empathetic and understanding the passive personality. On the other hand, the passive person must allow the aggressive person to use her strength and let her leap before it is too late. If you cannot conscientiously leap with her, then hold the rope while she does so. Together you will accomplish much in life, if you learn to complement each other, rather than be competitors.

Professors and Dancers

For a ‘professor’, everything must be reasoned out. “We must have logical reasons for everything we do. If it’s not logical, we shouldn’t do it.” The intuitive person is more like a dancer. They do some things just because they enjoy them. One husband said to his wife, “The walls are not dirty; they don’t need painting again. Do you understand that?” His wife responded, “Yes, I understand that. But I don’t want green walls any longer.”

In dating phase, we have a huge desire to please one another. But after marriage, this desire does not come as natural. If you try to force each other into your own personality mold, you may spend a lifetime in conflict. We must recognize that logical and intuitive thinking are both legitimate ways of processing life. We must focus not on the process whereby we reach our conclusions but on finding conclusions with which both of us can agree.

The Organizer and the Free Spirit

The organizer give attention to the details while the spontaneous person -the free spirit- thinks, “The details will take care of themselves.” Organizers are planners; they will spend in months in preparation for a trip out of town. They will check three different websites, looking for the best airfare. They will make hotel reservations weeks in advance. They will plan what they will eat and do. The spontaneous person waits until the night before the trip and says, “Why don’t we go to the coast instead of mountains? The sun is so beautiful.” This sends the organizer into a tailspin and the vacation becomes torture.

In dating the couple may admire one another for the qualities they don’t have in their partner. But in marriage, seldom it works that way. There is always a tendency to make our spouse to be one of us. It is important to discover more of your partner’s personality and negotiate all the potential conflicts which may happen. Ask a lot of questions and be realistic for the potential problems. Do not simply ignore them.

Dating is a season where we can ask a lot of questions “getting to know each other”, observe all the details and at last possibilities to get married. The healthy dating relationship is certainly the best preparation for a healthy marriage.




Photography by Jennifer Phelps Photography

Things I Wish I’d Known Before We Got Married (Part 1)

There has been a common ‘wisdom’ which says, “Single people always want to get married while married people always wish to be single again.” Interesting isn’t it? It raises questions such as: “Why do single people want to get married?” and “Why do married people wish to be single again?” I conclude that there must be something … so many things that single people don’t know about marriage and also so many things that married people don’t know about how to make a successful marriage. But thanks God that we will not find this questions unanswered and problems unsolved.

Here I would like to present wisdom from Gary Chapman, the director of Marriage and Family Life Consultants, Inc. In his book, Things I Wish I’d Known Before We Got Married, he honestly confessed that the things he wrote down there are things he wishes he knew back then but there was no one told him. This wisdom, if wisely applied, will save us from a lot of heartache, painful arguments, and wasted time in ongoing silence in marriage. So here we go 😉 Enjoy reading! There are so many resources out there which allow us to learn from others’ experiences so that we can make a successful marriage. This common dilema should not be ours in days to come 🙂

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People do not get married by planning to divorce. Of course! However, divorce is the result of lack of preparation for marriage and the failure to learn the skills of working together as teammates in an intimate relationship.

Ironically, most people spend far more time in preparation for their vocation than they do in preparation for marriage. Therefore, it should not be surprising that they are more successful in their vocational pursuits than they are in reaching the goal of marital happiness.

The decision to get married will impact one’s life more deeply than almost any decision in life. Yet people continue to rush into marriage with little or no preparation for making a marriage successful. In fact, many couples give far more attention to making plans for the wedding than making plans for marriage. Wedding lasts only a few hours, while the marriage, we hope, will last for a lifetime.

This article is about how to have successful marriage. For individual who is not in a dating relationship and has no immediate process of marriage, this article will provide a blueprint on moving from singleness to marriage. For the couple who is dating but not yet engaged, it will help you decide if and when to announce your plans to get married. For the engaged couple, it will help you examine the foundation and learn the skills that are necessary for building a successful marriage.

This article is not simply to be read, but to be experienced. The more you grapple with the realities discussed and share honestly your thoughts and feelings on these topics, respect each other’s opinions, and find the workable solutions to your differences, to that degree you will be prepared for marriage.To the degree that you ignore these issues and choose to believe that the euphoric feelings that you have for each other will carry you through, you set yourself up for failure. There are so many other free resources which you can find in: 🙂

#1 I Wish I Had Known … That being in love is not an adequate foundation for building a successful marriage

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Over counselings hundreds of couple, Gary always asked, “Why do you want to get married?” The big reason is always the same: “Because we love each other.” Often we fail to consider the fact that our social, spiritual, and intellectual interests are miles apart. Our value systems and goals are contradictory, but we are in love. But the great tragedy from this perception of love is that a year after the marriage, a couple sits in the counselor’s office and say, “We don’t love each other anymore.” Therefore, they are ready to separate. After all, if “love” is gone, then “surely you don’t expect us to stay together.”

Research indicates that the average life span of the “in love” obsession is two years. For some it may last a bit longer; for some, a bit less. Then our differences begin to emerge and we often find ourselves arguing with the person whom we once thought to be perfect. We have now discovered that being in love is not the foundation for a happy marriage. The ‘love’ factor or chemistry is important, but they are not the basis of satisfactory marriage. There must be a compatibility in intellectual dialogue, emotional control, social interests, spiritual unity, and common values. The many other factors we will discuss later on to be a vital consideration in making about marriage.

#2 I Wish I Had Known … That romantic love has two stages

The first stage: Romantic love

Here, the couple does not have to work on the relationship. They may expend great energy in doing things for each other, but they would not consider it work, but delight. They want to make each other happy and they often do. When we are in love, the rest of the world doesn’t matter. If you are in college and fall in love, most likely your grades will decline. There are even so many people who drop out of college and choose to get married.

But there will come a time where the emotional high is going downhill and in that phase we may think, “I have married the wrong person. Our differences seem so obvious now. Why did I not see them earlier?” Welcome to the second stage of love 🙂

The second stage: Intentional love

The second stage of romantic love is much more intentional than the first stage. Yes, it requires WORK in order to keep emotional love alive. Those who make effort in this transition will reap an astounding reward.

What makes one person feel loved does not necessarily make another person feel loved. For example, she says, “I feel like he doesn’t love me,” and he says, “I don’t understand that. I work hard. I keep the car clean. I mow the grass every weekend. I help her around the house. I don’t know what else she would want.” She responds, “he does all those things. He is a hard working man.” Then with tears in her eyes she says,”But we don’t ever talk.”

When someone said, “I feel like my spouse doesn’t love me,” what are they looking for? What did they want? What were they complaining about?” Their complaints fell into five categories, the five love languanges. Everyone has a primary love language in which there is one they understand best. One of the five speaks more deeply to us emotionally than the other four. Seldom do a husband and wife have the same language. By nature tend to speak our own language. Whatever makes us feel loved is what we do for the other person. But if it is not his/her language, it will not mean to them as what it means to us.

In the illustration above, the husband was speaking the language of acts of service, while the wife’s love language was quality time. He was washing the car, mowing the grass, helping her around the house. To him, this is the way he expresses his love. Meanwhile, what made her feel loved was him giving her his undivided attention talking, sharing life, listening, and communicating. He was sincerely expressing love but it was not in her primary love language.

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The book that grew out of this research is entitlled The Five Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts. Here is the brief summary of the five love languages:

1. Words of Affirmation

The language uses words to affirm the other person. “I really appreciate your washing the car. It looks great.” “Thanks for taking out the garbage. You are the greatest.” “You look nice in that outfit.” “Your smile is contagious. Did you see the way everyone seemed to brighten up when you came into the room?” Your words may focus on the other person’s personality or the way they look or something they have done for you or for others.

If a person’s primary love language is words of affirmation, your words will be like rain falling on dry soil. Nothing will speak more deeply of your love than words of affirmation. In contrary, he/she whose primary love language is words of affirmation may deeply hurt by harsh words too.

2. Acts of Service

For these people, actions speak louder than words. If you speak words of affirmation to this person such as “I admire you, I appreciate you, I love you,” they will likely think and perhaps say, “If you love me, why don’t you do something to help me around the house?” If acts of service is their primary love language, then washing the car, mowing the grass, helping around the house, and changing the baby’s diaper is precisely what makes them feel loved. The key to loving this person is to find out what things they would like for you to do. Then do them consistently.

3. Receiving Gifts

For some people, the gift communicates, “He was thinking about me. Look what he got for me.” The best gifts are those that you know will be appreciated. How do you find out what the other person would like to receive? You ask questions and make observations. You observe the comments they make when they receive gifts from other family members. If they say, “I’d like to have one of those,” make a nte of it. You can also ask, “If I wanted to give you a gift, give me a list of things you would like to have.” Better to give a gift that they have requested than to surprise them with a gift they do not desire.

4. Quality Time

Quality time is giving the other person your undivided attention. It is not sitting in the same room watching television. Someone else has your attention. It is being in the same room with the TV off, the magazine on the table, looking at each other, talking and listening. It may also be taking a walk together so long as your purpose is to be with each other, not simply to get exercise. Couples who go to a restaurant and never talk to each other have not spoken the language of quality time. They have simply met their physical need for food. Quality time says, “I am doing this because I want to be with you.”

5. Physical Touch

We have long known the emotional power of physical touch. Research indicates that babies that are touched and cuddled fare better emotionally than babies who spend long periods of time without physical touch. Appropriate touch is loving. Inappropriate touch is demeaning. Nothing speaks more deeply than appropriate touch for those whose primary love language is physical touch.

Your primary love language is things you often do for others effortlesly. The language you speak is most likely the language you wish to receive. The other way to discover your love language is to find out what do you most complain about? If you often complain that people don’t help you, then acts of service is likely your language. If you say to a friend, “We don’t ever spend time together,” then you are requesting quality time. And what do you request more often? When you ask, “Did I do a good job?” you are requesting words of affirmation.

Keeping romantic love alive in a marriage requires making a successful transition from Stage One to Stage Two. Learning each other’s primary love language while you are dating will make the transition much easier.

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#3 I Wish I Had Known … Like the saying “Like mother, like daughter” and “Like father, like son” is not a myth

This does not mean that the girl you marry will turn out exactly like her mother, nor that the man will be exactly like his father. This means that you are both greatly influenced by your parents.If he has a father who is controlling and verbally abusive, don’t be surprised if in then years he has similar traits. To some degree, we are all products of our environment. Research indicates that abusive men were almost always abused as children.

You may be asking, “But can’t we learn from their poor example and change our own behavior?” The answer is yes, and the important word is “learn.” If the son of an abuser does not take specific steps to understand abuse -why his father became an abuser, and what he needs to do to break the pattern- then he is likely to repeat it. Therefore, in a dating relationship if either of you has a parent with a destructive livestyle, the responsible action is to enroll in a class, read books, talk with counselors, and discuss with with each other what you are learning. Don’t sweep these issues under the rug.

Whether we are talking about positive or negative characteristics, most of us are far more like our parents than we realize. Communication patterns are another area in which we tend to be like our parents.
For example, if you notice that her mother of often interrupts her father when he is talking and corrects the details of his story by saying such tings as “No, it wasn’t on Tuesday, it was on Wednesday” then you can expect the daughther to do the same. Perhaps you have already observed this behavior when you are talking. If this pattern is not changed before marriage, it will not automatically change when you do get married.

Because we have grown up with our parents, we don’t recognize their patterns of communication as being healthy. For us, it is simply the way it has always been. It takes someone outside the family drawing the communication pattern to our attention to help us understand why the pattern needs to be changed. Since we are influenced by our parents’ communication patterns, we are likely to adopt it as our own. The good news is that these communication patterns can be changed and the time to make the change is while you are dating.

If you observe his mom and dad arguing and you notice that his father eventually walks out of the room and leaves his wife’s statement hanging in the air, then you can expect that is the way the man you are dating will likely to respond to arguments after you get married. Unless of course, he reads this and the two of you find a healthier way to resolve your conflicts. Also observe common courtesies that your mom and dad extend to each other.

Does her father open the car door for her mother? If so, this is what she will expect of you. Is his father quiet and reserved or loud and outspoken? Is her mother independent, making her own decisions and seldom conferring with her husband? Does her mother cook meals? Does his father keep the car clean? Is her mother a stay-at-home mom or does she have her own vocation? Does his father own his own business or does he work for a company? Is her mother highly active in church activities? What about his father? The answers to these questions will tell you what you can expect if you marry the person you are now dating. If any of the answers disturb you, this is the time to discuss them openly. The solution lies either in accepting these traits or negotiating change.

Often in today’s fast-moving culture, dating couples will spend little time with each other’s parents. They come to marriage without any clear understanding of the parental model with which the other person grew up. Even when spending time with each other’s parents, they are not closely observing the behavior and communication patterns of parents. Because they cannot imagine that the person they are dating would ever adopt those negative behaviors.

If you observe each other’s parents too get to know their personalities, communication patterns, values, and especially how they relate to each other and discussed thoroughly with your dating partner, then “like mother, like daughter” and “like father, like son” may not become a reality in your relationship 🙂

#4 I Wish I Had Known … How to solve disagreement without arguing

There are no married couples who do not encounter conflicts, for one simple reason -we are individuals. As individuals we have different desires, different likes and dislikes, different things that irritate and please us. For example, Gary discovered that Karolyn liked to watch television, while he thought television was a waste of time. Why not read a book or learn something? “What has anyone ever learned from watching television?” That was his perspective. She argued that watching television was her way of relaxing and, contrary to his opinion, there was a great deal one could learn from watching television. So this become “sore spot” in their relationship that periodically erupted into a full-blown argument. In those days, Gary embraced the thought, “I have married the wrong person. Surely if I had married the right person, it would not be like this.” Some couples learn how to resolve conflicts in a friendly manner while others resort to heated arguments. They definately fell into the last category.

But over time, Gary has discovered that firsly as couple we need to accept the reality that we will have conflicts. Conflicts are not a sign that you have married the wrong person. They simply affirm that you are human. We all tend to assume that our ideas are the best ideas. What we faill to recognize is that our spouse has the same opinion of their ideas. Our ideas and perceptions of life are influenced by our history, our values, and our personality. And these factors are different from each of us.

The healthy way in processing conflicts is with recognizing the need to listen. When most of us have conflicts, we feel the need to talk, but talking without listening will lead to arguments. After you have heard and affirmed each other ideas, you are now ready to look for a solution to the conflict. The big word in finding a solution is COMPROMISE. Often we think of the word compromise as a negative word. People are often warned about compromising their values or beliefs. However, compromise in a marriage is not only positive but necessary. Compromise means to find a meeting place. It requires each of you to be willing to give up something in order to have harmony in the marriage. If we both insist on having our way, then we are back in the argument mode. In marriage it is never “having my way.” It is rather discovering “our” way.

Typically there are three ways to resolve conflicts.

1. “Meeting in the Middle”

One we have just described. It’s about compromise. You find a meeting place by agreeing to do a part of what each of you desired while each of you also sacrifices a bit.

2. “Meeting on Your Side”

This means that after you hear each other’s ideas and feelings, one of you decides that on this occasion, it is best to do what the other has in mind. This is a total sacrifice of your original idea, choosing rather to do what your spouse desires and to do it with a positive attitude. You are choosing to do what they desire as an act of love because you care about them and you see how important it is to them.

One husband said, “I agreed to have a baby after she explained to me that she was getting near the end of her fertility cycle. When I saw her heart, I didn’t want to take the chance of disappointing her. We had always agreed that he wanted to have children. I just thought it wasn’t the right time. I want to wait until we had a financial base. But as I listened to her and saw how important it was to her, I agreed that even though I had some fears, I thought I should go ahead and have a baby now. We did and I have never regretted that decision.” Sometimes the decision to agree with the other person’s idea will involve great sacrifice. However, love always involve some sacrifice.

3. “Meeting Later”

This approach says, “At the moment, I’m not able to conscientiously agree with your idea, and I don’t see a place to meet in the middle. Can we just agree that for the moment, we disagree on this? And we will discuss it again in a week or month, and look for solution. In the mean time, we will love each other, enjoy each other, and support each other. This will not be a disruptive factor in our marriage.” This is a perfectly legitimate response to a conflict when, at the moment, you cannot find a long-term solution. A month from now, things may look different or new possibilities may come to mind so that you can find a compromise with which both of you will feel good.

In some areas of life, “meeting later” can be a permanent solution, especially in areas where there is no “right” or “wrong” answer, whether it is squeezing the toothpaste tube, personal taste of entertainment, etc.

In one of these three ways, you can resolve your conflicts. The key is creating a friendly atmosphere by listening to each other and affirming each other’s perspective rather than accusing each other of illogical thinking.

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#5 I Wish I Had Known … That apologizing is a sign of strength

Gary used to adopt worldly value which says, “Real men don’t apologize.” His dad adopted it. Gary never remembers hearing him apologize. And Gary also simply followed his model. Before marriage, Gary could not imagine ever doing or saying anything to his wife that would warant for an apology. After all, he loved her. But he found out later on that the woman whom he had married had ideas, some of which he considered to be stupid. He said, “Karolyn, think. This is simply not logical.” His words would spark a sharp response and they could be on a downward spiral.

After such episodes, they would go silent and not speak to each other for hours or sometimes days. Gary did not realize that he was simply doing what his father had done. He never apologized. He blamed her for their altercations. In the early years, they did not have a good marriage.

As Gary enrolled in seminary and learned in Christian scriptures about confession and repentance, he realized that he had been deceived that, “Real men don’t apologize.” He learned that confession means to admit that what he did or failed to do was wrong. Repentance means that he consciously turn from that wrong and seek to do what is right. “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, [God] is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” Then for the next few months, Gary learned to apologize and found that Karolyn was fully willing to forgive. In time, she too learned to apologize and I extended forgiveness. Gary is convinced that there are no healthy marriages without apology and forgiveness. The reality is that all of us are human and humans sometimes do and say things that are demeaning to other people. These unloving words and actions create emotional barriers between the people involved. Those barriers do not go away with the passing of time. They are removed only when we apologize and the offended party chooses to forgive.

When you apologize, what do you typically say or do? When someone apologize to you, what do you expect them to say or do? The evidence was clear -what one person considers to be an apology is not what another person considers to be apologize. While he says, “I’m sorry.” She might think, “You certainly are. Now, is there anything else you would like to say?” She is waiting for an apology; he thinks he has already apologized. Just like love has its language, apology too has its language which differs from one person to another. Here are the apology languages:

1. Expressing regret.

“I’m sorry,” spoken alone, are much too general. If you have lost your temper and spoken harshly, you might say, “I am sorry that I lost my temper and raised my voice. I know I came across very harsh and that I hurt you deeply. A husband should never talk that way to his wife. You must be hurting deeply and I am sorry that I hurt you.”

This apology language is an emotional language. It is seeking to express to the other person your emotional pain that your words or behavior have hurt them deeply. If this is the apology language of the person you have offended, anything short of this kind of apology will seem empty to them.

2. Accepting Responsibility

It begins with the words “I was wrong,” and then goes on to explain what was wrong about your behavior. For example, “I was wrong not to plan my afternoon so I could get home early. I knew we were going out tonight but I didn’t consciously thing about what time I needed to be home in order for us to leave on time. It was my fault and I was wrong.”

The person whose primary apology is “accepting responsibility” is waiting to hear you admit your behavior was wrong. For this person, saying “I’m sorry” will never sound like an apology. They want you to be willing to accept responsibility for what you did or said and acknowledge that it was wrong.

3. Making Restitution

This apology language seeks to “make it right.” This seeks for actions from the person who made mistakes which can show that you love them. Speak their specific love language in order to make it right. Give a gift to those who like gifts, write a love letter for those who like words of affirmation, etc.

4. Genuinely expressing the desire to change your behavior

This apology seeks to come up with a plan to keep the bad behavior from reoccurring. “I will not do it again” are the words and let your actions confirm it.

5. Requesting forgiveness

“Will you please forgive me?” These words are music to the ears of the person whose primary apology language is “requesting forgiveness.” In their mind, if you are sincere, you will ask them to forgive you. This is what an apology is all about.

When couples learn how to apologize in a manner that is meaningful to the other person, they make forgiveness much easier. What most people want to know when you are attempting to apologize is “Are you sincere?” However, they judge your sincerity by whether or not you are speaking what to them is a genuine apology. That means you must learn to speak you apology in their primary apology language. When you do, they sense your real sincerity.

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Couples who have practiced both love language and apology language repeatedly will be most likely to develop a healty relationships. Do not ignore it. This will save your marriage from unnecessary pain. There are six more things Gary wished to know before he got married 😉 Discover it in my next article. To be continued…



Photos by Angga Permana Photography

The Mercy Room

Sometimes when we are treated unfairly, in the deepest of our heart there comes a ‘hope’ that the opposite people can be treated the same thing naturally. It seems like a justice to our eyes. If we trace back, this principle has been widely known since the Hammurabbi Law which introduced that we need to exchange eyes for eyes and tooth for tooth. Mahatma Gandhi opposed this view by saying, “An eye for an eye, and soon the whole world is blind.” He got it right. Have you ever seen the hatred stops when we pay it back with hatred too? It seems like a justice … but what is a justice if we cannot make the person or even the world a better place to live on? The problem in this world is not because we are full with evil people, but because we are lacking of forgiving people. Yes, we lack of mercy.


The Bible defines mercy as not getting what you do deserve [withheld punishment]. It is forgiving though the person does not deserve it. It can also mean as pity or compassion. It would be hard to swallow, hard to do. How can we give forgiveness to those who don’t deserve it so much? I find that we as human beings tend to have difficulty in forgiving when we see ourselves as a better person than the one who made mistakes. It places us as ‘righteous’ and the other person ‘not righteous’. As long as we see ourselves in this position, we will find that we have all the rights to give punishment, judge, condemn, or at least wishing that the other person will receive their ‘karma’. In the end, we find ourselves hard to forgive.

These recent days, I have experienced what mercy truly is and that changes me a lot. Being a devoted Christian for 15 years, makes me a bit difficult to see myself as a sinner. Yes, there is no big or small sin in God’s eyes. Sin is sin. But somehow there is this particular sin which causes me to feel such a failure and unworthy. I felt like I am truly truly a sinner. Yes, I am a Christian, but I am a sinner too. And knowing it causes me to turn back again and again at the cross, gazing upon Jesus. Lord, was my repentance seven years ago genuine? And here this verse strucked me,

“I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent [who have no need of a change of heart]” -Luke 15:7 [NIV]


The Parable of the Lost Son

Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them. “Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living.

After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything. 

“When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.’ So he got up and went to his father.

“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.

“Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’ “The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’

“‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’”

If you look at Luke 15 more closely, you would find that the whole passage is sharing one theme: mercy. It tells a story about a father who waited for his youngest son to come back, overlooked his sins, ran after him as he got closer to his house [noted: wealthy man on that day did not run!], gave the very best gifts and threw a big party to celebrate his return. Would you like to imagine it for a moment? In our human’s eyes the youngest son certainly does not deserve such a treat by his father. But our God, as a loving Father, has such a deep mercy to sinners. He overlooked our past sins as we want to repent. Can we overlook our brother’s or sister’s sins? Or Are we like the eldest son who thought that he deserved such treatment and his brother did not? Which one will we be?


Through my experience, I find myself as the lost son who needs Father’s mercy so much. I am a sinner, therefore I cannot judge other sinners too. You see, no one is perfect. Everyone needs forgiveness although some may never ask for it. But the attitude of the father has called us all to do the same thing. Are you judgmental? Know that the world needs mercy and forgiveness more than judgment. A relationship can only be healthy when it consists of forgivers. And we forgive because we are forgiven too.

“Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the LORD does not count against him and in whose spirit is no deceit.” -Psalm 32:1-2

Remember always, we are no better than any other ‘sinners’. We are never in a place to judge or condemn them guilty. The realization of our own imperfection gives a space for mercy to grow. God has taught us that His mercy endures forever and He longs his people to be known as merciful one. For we are more like him when we love and forgive the undeserving ones.


Photos by Axioo Photography

The Love Tank

There are times when we find it is hard to love. There are times when the bad sides of people simply wins from the battle of mind. And there are times also when the pressures of life consume us so much that we think that we have nothing left to give out to others. In short, our love tank is running low or even empty and that affects our whole relationship with others. But is it something that just happens? Can’t we do something to avoid that ‘season’ comes through in our lives? The good news is … the love tank should not have to go through running low phase or even empty. The love tank is supposed to be full every time. It is a matter of daily choice.


Many people takes love as something in which we fall into and also fall out. They treat a relationship as something that we can exit from as the feeling of love has fallen out. Our love has been based on something that is so undependable… feeling. And it does not take a longer time to make our love becomes conditional. “I love you if …” This type of love would undoubtedly has a short-time to live and will involve a lot of dissapointment and pain. So what kind of love that will guarantee a life-time span? What kind of love in which makes the individuals involved stay when other strays? I bet you can guess it 🙂 Yup .. unconditional love. A love without any demand in return.

“Wow.. could really a man able to execute such kind of love?” With God’s grace and help, yes, a man can give out unconditional love. As long as a person is willing to work on a relationship, there is a hope. So it is a matter of willingness. Loving is easy when people whom we love is loveable. The challenge comes when it comes to love someone who is difficult to love. And this someone could be someone whom you used to love in a dramatic way too back then.

I saw a very ironic sight where romance turns cold as couple get married over time. Some people say that the gap between what it used to be and what it has turned out to be is called as a reality. But I do not fully agree with that because it leaves an impression that reality is always worse from past or our dreams. I prefer making the reality as the better version of past and present time. Reality does not mean that it has to be bitter. It can be sweet. But someone has to pay the price for a sweet reality. It may cost our ego, pride, and ways of life to adapt with people whom we ‘love’.

In order for us to have a full love tank, there is no other choice but to connect to its source, the Author of Love, the Love itself, God. As long as we depend on our own strength to love, our effort will remain in vain. Our love is so limited. Humanly love is undoubtedly conditional. But God’s love is entirely different. There is nothing that you can do to make Him love you more and there is nothing that you can do to make Him love you less. His love does not depend on your performance. His love is entirely conditional.

“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” -Romans 5:8

God chose to love and even die for you when you did not even bother His existence.

“And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ and to know this love that surpasses knowledge -that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” -Ephesians 3:17-18


God’s love fills our love tank until it is full. But the question is … are we letting Him to fill it? Jesus loves you and He lives in you. Jesus inside you wants to love the difficult person whom you troubled with. Are we letting Him to? Jesus always sees a person as whom He created at the first place and whom the person will be at the touch of His grace. He overlooks sin’s accesorries and desperately longs for the hearts to become His. He is a prince who is jealous to guard His princess’ heart from the world’s grasp. Because He knows that nothing, nothing can guard it as well as Him. No treasure, no even other human being can make sure the hearts will not be broken besides Him alone. Are we letting him truly becomes the owners of our hearts?

So many of us pray for a miracle. For our family’s members to be saved, for sickness to be healed, for relationships to be restored, and so many other good things. Yet somehow, God is waiting for us to take our part in letting the miracle comes through us. God is waiting for us to sow seeds of love in stony hearts of men. God is waiting for us to remove the stone of unforgiveness and fear. Before He makes His miracle, He makes sure His sons and daughters have grown. Because what is a miracle (a circumstance to be changed) without a change of the core of our hearts?

“I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh [heart of obedience to God]. Then they will follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. They will be my people, and I will be their God.” -Ezekiel 11:19-20

“Go again, love a woman who is loved by a lover and is committing adultery, just like the love of the Lord for the children of Israel, who look to other gods and love the raisin cake of pagans” -Hosea 3:1

God is not an angry God who forces His people to love and serve him obediently. In Hosea 2:1 He said, “Therefore I am going to allure her (Israel); I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her.” God is a God of love who wins back the heart of His people, sinners, to return to Him. The whole Bible is telling us a great love story between God and human being. He is desperately wants to love us and for sure being loved back is one of His priceless treasures.


God shows us that no heart is to hard to be soften. As long as the seeds of unconditional love are planted, He can make a miracle. Because love cannot fail. And love never fails.

So let His love completely fills your love tank. Fill it with a greatest weapon of all to win back God’s people. It is always easy to love when we remember that it is God’s in us who wants and enables us to do so. Our part is to sacrifice our ego and pride, remove stone of unforgiveness and fear, and get into a reckless abandon to His righteous ways.

What a wonderful world will be. When hatred ceases and ego dies, truth and love lives. A heaven on earth. A sweet reality that can come true.


Photos by Ppf and Axioo Photography