Saturday, July 30, 2016

It's Only A House

It's Only A House
Written by Amanda Hawkins

     All of us wives have days that we feel unloved, unappreciated, as if our husbands don't care.
     You have two loads of laundry going in the washer and dryer, dishes that need put away, your husband's dirty work shoes and other belongings strewn across the floor of the main room, and a bed to make. You finish everything and your husband makes another mess by shaving his face and leaving the hair in the sink. What an insensitive man! He only thinks of himself!
     What you don't realize, is that your husband has also worked hard, and his home is his sanctuary to relax and spend time with his family. He doesn't think twice about throwing his work shoes full of dirt all over the cleaned floor, or plopping down on the newly made bed, because all he's thinking about is the fact that he is home with the family that he works so hard to provide for.
     Another thing you may not always remember in the heat of your frustration, is that your husband loves you more than anything. He would do anything for you, and he truly does think about you. He is not being insensitive on purpose. He just wants to come home and relax with his wife, who proceeds to nag him for messing up her precious clean house.
     It is your job as his wife to show him love by joyfully helping him, putting his things away. It is your job. Your all day, all week job. And sometimes it's tiring, but remember that your husband loves you, and that you love him. He works to provide for you, the least you can do is provide for him as well.
     When you first married your husband you had all the love in the world for him, would do anything to make him happy, and would even have lived in a van if only it meant that you were together. Now you can't even clean up the hairy sink without griping and complaining.
     Imagine if your husband were to pass away; you would miss the hair in the sink, and the dirty work boots, and the mile high pile of laundry. Your house would be empty, lonely, quiet, but hey, at least it would be clean! Learn to appreciate the mess, and your husband.
     Also remember that it's only a house. Anything that's dirty can be cleaned, and is it really that big of a deal? Don't let it bother you. Learn to go with the flow, enjoy your time with your husband after his work without being upset. You can clean it all up the next day. Smile and be joyful through it all, knowing that you are making your husband happy. Sing while you clean those dishes, write a welcome home letter for your husband with a cute love note on it, and greet him with a smile and a hug rather than a scowl.
     It brings honor to the Lord when you do things for your husband with a joyful heart. And it will make you and your husband happy as well.
     Practice joy for the mundane activities throughout your day, and practice love and respect for your husband.
     Peace be with you, in the name of Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Keeping Your Marriage Alive

Keeping your marriage alive
Written by Amanda and Dominic Hawkins

There will be times in your marriage when things become too serious for there to be relaxation or a state of peace, especially with worldly problems such as taxes, bills, kids, pets, house payments, etc. To keep your relationship burning bright as the day you married each other, have a light heart, be simple, have fun. Do cute things together. Make silly faces across the room when no one is looking. Jokingly nudge your partner. Text each other while you're sitting side by side.

My husband and I went to the mall yesterday. We made a bet that we wouldn't find very many scents that we agreed on in the Yankee Candle store, since we have very different taste in candles. He bet that we would only find 3, and I bet that we would find 4. The winner would receive a kiss from the loser. It turned out that we actually agreed on at least 6 candles throughout the store, but I still came closest to the winning number, so I won the kiss. It was very cute, and I love those moments that my husband and I share together. It is very important to cherish those precious things.

One time we stood on a pier looking out at the lake houses and imagining what our ideal house would be like. We spent the entire afternoon daydreaming and sharing our thoughts of the future. We went through the pros and cons of what houses we would like, what we wouldn't like, and what would be suited best for us, including the land and the layout. We used an old pair of binoculars to see across the lake to the fancy houses, and we felt like stalkers, but we had a lot of fun. All of a sudden storm clouds started to roll in very quickly, and rain began to pour. The other people on the pier next to us ran back to their cars and drove away, but we stayed, standing on the dock holding each other tightly, watching the storm scatter across the glassy water in a strange pattern of diagonal rain lines and waves created by the wind. I asked my husband if he had seen anything like it before. He just looked at me with a toothy grin and started talking in an Irish accent impression that he learned from watching the movie Braveheart. To this day it is one of my favorite memories. Regardless of what you do together, enjoy the moment, make the best of it, even if you're just drinking coffee together in the kitchen.

I'll stop rambling on, and present to you my top 4 list of things to do that keep the spark in your marriage:

  • Stop and smell the Roses
    Enjoy each others' company, don't be so serious. Make time for each other throughout your days and busy schedules. Never stop dating each other, never stop playing around with each other and having a sense of humor. Find joy and contentment in doing what your spouse likes to do, and make the best of your time spent together. Never stop enjoying the little things. I am guilty of this. I tend to be too serious and I lose sight of the fun things in life. Let loose a little, and don't be afraid to have a good time with your husband, laugh a little, let the joy that the Lord gave you shine through.

  • Always give 100%.
    Give one hundred percent to your spouse, and your spouse should give one hundred percent to you. Keeping a marriage burning bright takes work, because you always have to give your all, even if you're not feeling good, even if you're upset, or if you had a hard day at work. Just like you did when you first got together. You have to try as hard as possible to give your hundred, even if your spouse isn't giving their percent. Always give 100% and more if you can. Your spouse deserves it, even if you think they don't sometimes.

  • Make love
    Showing affection physically is very important to marriage. And I don't mean just having sex, or just 'doing it to get it over with,' but actually making love. So many marriages have gone dull because the husband and wife have lost their passion for one another sexually. (Not pointing fingers here, but it's usually the wife first.)
    It may seem silly, but if you keep the bed alive, your marriage will thank you for it, because sex is holy in the sanctity of marriage. So ladies, pull out that lingerie from the back of your top drawer, please your husband, and to the men, please your wife as well. Be selfless in the bed. Serve one another. Make love.

  • Serve the Lord together
    Pray, read the bible, and worship the Lord with one another. A family that prays together stays together. If you please the Lord, he will be the glue that holds your marriage together. "What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate." -- Mark 10:9
    As husband and wife you were created to be "heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers be not hindered." 1 Peter 3:7
    Work together as a team, pray together, serve the Lord together.

May God bless you and your marriage, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.


Saturday, July 23, 2016

Mr. Snapchat

Mr. Snapchat
Written by Amanda Hawkins

    This is a very personal story that I have not told anyone other than my husband, and it is one of my largest regrets. To some of you it may not seem to be a big deal, but I am very ashamed of this, and I have repented of it more times than I can count. It's time now to share my experience to hopefully prevent some of you young ladies out there from possibly going through the same thing. I pray that this story helps you to overcome a similar situation.

    Before I met my husband I was talking with a guy for several months through text and Snapchat. He was in college so we didn't really see each other in person much.
    I had a huge crush on this guy, -- for the sake of the story let's call him Shane, -- and I was very naive at the time, desperate for love, searching for 'the one.' I had never had a boyfriend before, and I was becoming very anxious to be with someone, seeing all of my friends in relationships. He had a couple common interests as me, the main two being guitar, and he was a Christian as well.
    I was praying a lot for God to reveal the man who was right for me, the one God had in store. I asked the Lord over and over again if Shane was the one, and I was searching for signs. I was trying to convince myself that he was the one. I think in my heart I knew that he wasn't, but I persisted to ask God, even though deep down I knew the answer, and I continued to converse with this guy.
    Shane and I Snapchatted a few times a week, and I was blinded. He told me he loved me, and that was the first time a guy had ever told me that. I was naive and ignorant. I told him I loved him back, though looking back I know that I didn't, now that I know true love.
    After a while of sending Snaps back and forth he asked me to send him a picture of myself in my bra. I did, though I don't know why. I was raised better than that, and I knew I shouldn't. The moment I hit send I felt very nervous and very guilty at the same time. Over a couple of weeks span I sent two more pictures, nothing more provocative than the bra, but that didn't make it any better. Each time I hit send I felt more guilty. That guilt was Jesus begging me to stop.
    At the time I felt God was telling me to read the book of Jeremiah. I picked it up and read the first 3 chapters. God through Jeremiah spoke of God's people playing the harlot:

"Why trimmest thou thy way to seek love? Therefore hast thou also taught the wicked ones thy ways." -- Jeremiah 2:33

"For of old time I have broken thy yoke, and burst thy bands; and thou saidst, I will not transgress; when upon every high hill and under every green tree thou wanderest, playing the harlot." -- Jeremiah 2:20

"Only acknowledge thine iniquity, that thou hast transgressed against the Lord thy God, and hast scattered thy ways to the strangers under every green tree, and ye have not obeyed my voice, saith the Lord." -- Jeremiah 3:13

    Those bible verses in particular stood out to me, and I felt like a harlot for revealing my body to someone who I was not married to. My body was not my body to give away or show off even before I was married, because my body was only meant for the man the Lord had in store for me. The man I was too impatient to wait for, my husband Dominic.
    I cried for a long time. I had not only committed adultery myself, but had helped Shane commit adultery. Though he had already committed adultery in his heart by lusting after me.
    I begged the Lord to forgive me for this sin. I should have known better, I was so ashamed. I am grateful that Jesus is always so willing to forgive, and without his grace I don't know where I would be. I thank the Lord that Shane did not save or screen shot any of the pictures as well.
    After I had prayed and prayed and prayed, I told Shane that I didn't feel right about sending those pictures to him anymore, that it wasn't right with the Lord. However, I continued to talk to him, which I should not have done. I talked to him all the way up until I met my husband, and at that point I finally told him that I could no longer talk to him. I repented once again, for talking to Shane even for that long.
    I was so blind that the Lord had to literally place a boulder -- Dominic, -- in front of me before I could realize that Shane was not the man that God wanted me to be with. Even though I was praying, my heart was not truly open to the answer. I was so set on not having to wait for the right man, that I tried to force something that the Lord did not want to happen. I thank the Lord for closing old doors and opening new ones.

    I urge you young ladies out there to wait for the man God has in store for you, for Gods' ways are better than our ways. It is worth the wait. Set your expectations higher, and seek the Lord in your decision to enter into a relationship with someone. Courtship is also key. The intent should be marriage, not dating, not hooking up.

    Mothers, I urge you to talk with your teenagers and pre teens about apps like Snapchat. It's too easy to send a self destructive photo message, being in the privacy of your own home and behind your portable screen. It may seem like innocent chatting, but things can escalate quickly, and I am lucky that things didn't go farther than they did in my story. How sad it would have been if I would've had to go through a rotten and sinful relationship before I met my husband. I am proud to say that Dominic was my first boyfriend, my first kiss, my first true love, my first time, and my first and only husband forever. Share this post with your daughters. I pray that you have gained some wisdom from my mistake.

Peace be with you, in the name of Jesus.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Fellowship At McDonald's

Fellowship At McDonald’s
Written by Amanda Hawkins

    The other day I was sitting at a McDonald’s writing a post for my blog with my bible open on the table. Two ladies came in and were sitting across from me reading the book 'Jesus Calling,' talking about the importance of prayer. It was nice to see church in a public place.
     After the two ladies left, I focused once again on my writing, as opposed to eavesdropping, and started to type away, keys clicking beneath my fingertips.
     I looked up for a moment and seen a man who looked at me and smiled, and I returned the gesture. The man started to walk towards me, and I knew he was coming over to talk about the Lord. I don't know how I knew, I just did. He came over and asked what I was studying in the bible, and I told him I was reading Jeremiah. He looked like he was going to cry tears of joy as he spoke. "You know, it's so good to see a Christian here. I'm from North Carolina, and I worked in construction. You don't see real Christians out there too often. You see 'Christians,' but you don't see people who have a relationship with Christ."
     I agreed. We talked for a short while, he told me he's an evangelist, traveling and sharing the Gospel.
     It was very refreshing and uplifting to meet someone new who is a born again Christian.
     Before we parted our ways, he leaned in a little closer and began to speak more quietly. "You see that cashier over there?" He pointed at the girl at the counter with a sad look in her eyes. "Pray for her. When I was ordering my coffee I told her that Jesus loves her, and she looked like she was going to cry. I don't think anyone has ever told her that before. Pray for her."
     I ensured him that I would, and then he left. I did pray for her right then and there, a quiet whisper, and tears as I begged the Lord to save her.
"I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men;"
-- 1 Timothy 2:1
     Fellowship, church, can be anywhere, any time. It's not always planned, and it doesn't have to be in a specific place. Be open to the Lord and his opportunities. You never know when Jesus is going to use you or place someone in your path. That day I thanked the Lord for the fellowship, and I thanked Him for using me to intercede on that girl's behalf, and for giving me someone to pray for.
     Erase the idea from your head that 'Church' is the only place where things happen. We are the Church. We are the Body Of Christ. You just have to be open to letting the Lord make things happen. At the beginning of every day, ask God to use you. Pray for others, praise and worship Jesus, give thanks, be a servant to the Lord and he will use you.

“For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” -- Philippians 2:13

“For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” -- Matthew 18:20

    Have a bible study in McDonald’s with some friends one of these days. You never know what opportunities may arise from your faith being outwardly projected in your daily life, in your activities, in your behavior, in your countenance. Don’t make a point to do it just to make others think that you’re a Christian, but also don’t be afraid to have your studies in a public place because of what people might think. How can the lord work through you to reach out to others if you hide away?

    I hope that this post gave you insight on some thing or another, and I pray that the Lord Jesus works through you, and gives you opportunities to pray for others or to reach out to others in your daily life. Peace be with you, in the name of Jesus. Amen.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

How My Life Was Changed Forever

How My Life Was Changed Forever
Written by Amanda Hawkins

When I was 16 I was very confused. I didn't know what I wanted to do, who I wanted to be, or even why I was here.
I had just gone through my first heartbreak with someone I had a crush on.
I had so many questions about the meaning of life, and was searching for answers in a lot of different religions.

My younger sister was going through some tough things as well at the time, and one day she gave her life to Jesus. She cried and prayed for what seemed to be an hour with my parents (who have been saved for years,) on the living room floor, repenting, and I saw the Lord work through her. I didn't really know what it was that had changed her, but I knew I wanted it too. I seen God transform her!
I became jealous of her, and was still searching, and couldn't understand why God didn't want me too. 'Why did God choose her and not me?'

I started reading the bible in secret because I didn't want my family to know for some reason, even though I was raised on Christianity. Nothing of the bible seemed to make sense to me at the time though.

One day my dad and my sister were out on the front porch talking about God, and I walked in on the conversation. Out of the blue my dad started talking to me. I believe to this day that God was giving him the words to say, because he was saying things that I felt, saying how I was searching, and how I just needed to give everything to Jesus. The tears poured out themore I tried to choke them back. There seemed to be nothing else around me except this pressure in the air and the words that were being said to me.
I remember saying 'I don't know what to say. I don't know how.' And my dad just said 'say what you feel, I can't say it for you.'
I bowed my head, tears still streaming, hardly able to speak, as broken words of repentance for my sins slipped out of my mouth. Over and over again I said 'I'm sorry Lord Jesus, for everything,' until there wasn't a tear left in me or another word left to say, and I felt this calming feeling, and a huge weight lifted off of my shoulders. The time felt as if it just lingered in the air.

I slowly raised my bowed head and I had never seen anything more beautiful than the sun when I opened my eyes, this bright light, white and pure. Everything around me was different, and I felt changed. As I looked up my dad smiled and said 'you just got born again.' And my mom and my sister hugged me.

I felt like a new person, truly alive. Food tasted better, colors were brighter, the air smelled fresh, and I was smiling constantly. When I read the bible, all of a sudden it made sense, and I had so much love.

That was the best day of my life, and that is my testimony. The Lord has been my light ever since, and I don't know what I would do without Him. Jesus changed my life forever. He is my savior.

I pray that my testimony meant something to you, and that you see the light as I have. Peace be with you, in the name of Jesus.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

A Losing Battle: 8 Tips To Help You Stop Fighting With Your Husband.

A Losing Battle:
6 tips to help you stop fighting with your husband.
Written by Amanda Hawkins

    Fighting with your husband is always a losing battle.
The moment you married your husband, you became a team. You earn money together, you live together, you raise your children together, everything of yours belongs to him and everything of his belongs to you. Fighting with this man will take you nowhere.

"Every city or house divided against itself shall not stand." -- Matthew 12:25

    You married this man for better, or for worse.
    As time passes in your marriage, life circumstances tend to overwhelm the relationship, and you begin to place blame on each other for everything that happens. Whether it be finances, or a family member passing away, or simple things that occur on a daily basis.
    The words 'for better or for worse,' turn into, 'If it's not for the better, I want a divorce.' And divorce has become a far too easy and socially acceptable way out of a supposed lifelong covenant, commitment, and contract.
    When most people enter into a marriage commitment, they don't usually realize that marriage is not always going to be peaches and cream. Marriage is actual work. It is an actual commitment, with give and take, and it often needs more give than take in order to thrive.
    Maybe you feel unheard.
    Maybe both of you always seem to believe that you're the one in the right.
    Maybe the smallest and silliest things break out into world war three. For instance, my husband and I always fight over grocery shopping, and food.
    Regardless of how, or why, whether you're right or wrong, or how good of a reason you think you have to fight with your husband, no fight is a winning fight.
     If you want to stop fighting with your husband, if you want to save your marriage, you have to take the first step. Your heart has to change. Your husband may need to change as well, but that will come by example when you take initiative. It takes two to tango. You have to choose to stop arguing, and stop trying to be right. You have to chose to love your husband no matter what, and stand by him, and submit to him. Sometimes you just have to lose the fight, and in the process, win the battle.
    The first step could be any small and loving gesture. I'm going to give you the list of things I have done, and I pray that these things help you as they have helped me greatly. Because I know I need all the help I can get at times, we all do.

 The number one advice I can give you is to pray. Through prayer the Lord has healed the sick, saved sinners, and beyond the shadow of a doubt Jesus can save your marriage. God does not want you to fight with your spouse. Satan does. I was once in a very bad argument with my husband Dominic. I can't recall what it was about now, but at the time it seemed very important. We ended up ignoring each other. We were sitting in our own separate chairs next to each other with the most deadly silence between us; neither one of us would dare speak another word. I remember stewing for a while, and then I stood up and walked to the bathroom. I knelt down on my knees low to the ground and started to pray. I thanked the Lord for my husband, and I asked Him to take away my anger and my pride. I begged Jesus to help me forgive, and to help my husband forgive me for the things I said to him during the fight. The moment I stepped out of that bathroom the argument didn't matter to me anymore. It seemed to be such a ridiculous thing to fight over, whatever it was. I walked over to Dominic and apologized, and told him I loved him, and he forgave me and apologized as well. Prayer is very powerful. Just ask Jesus to take control.

"Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you." -- Matthew 7:7

 Buy a notebook or a journal that you like the look of. This will be used as a list book. It will be a reminder of why you are with your husband. Write every single thing you love about him. Record everything. Every time you're angry with him, read all of the good things and add more if you can. This will prevent you from thinking negative thoughts toward him, and will replace those negative thoughts with positive ones. I've been doing this for a year, and it truly works. (It can serve as a prayer book as well if you like.)

 In the heat of an argument, it's easy to spit out words that hurt each other. You say everything that comes to mind, and the thoughts you think aren't always how you truly feel. As husband and wife you should build each other up, not tear each other down. Tell your husband he's good at something as opposed to commenting on something he's bad at and tearing him down. Compliment him. Stop calling him an idiot. Instead of resorting to harsh jabs to make your partner feel bad, try saying 'I love you,' or 'I'm sorry honey.' Swallowing your pride can go a long way, and so can looking past your anger. Treat your husband like you love him, build him up.

"A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger." -- Proverbs 15:1

 Emotions can sometimes cloud your clear vision, and your marriage may start to feel like a lost cause. You may start to believe that it's too much work, and that you need time to yourself. You may start to believe that your husband is an insensitive man who doesn't care, because men tend to be less emotional than woman. But remember that it's not always the feelings that drive your marriage, but rather the commitment, and mutual respect for one another. If you have no respect for your husband, you have no true love for your husband, and it goes both ways. It's that initial commitment that should drive your marriage. You must be committed to one another, and you must never forsake that commitment. Stand by your vows, and stand by your man.

"For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the Lord do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you.” -- Ruth 1:16-17

 We are all sinners. We all sin, regardless of our best attempts to be good Christian people, we can not meet the high standard of holiness that God has set. This is the reason for God's grace, forgiveness, and the blood of Jesus, to wash us clean of our transgressions if we ask for His forgiveness. God is ever ready to forgive us. Remember that you are just as much of a sinner as your husband is. No one is perfect. When your husband messes up, you just have to forgive him and pray. Pray for your husband, and pray for yourself to be a wife worthy of your husband’s honor.

"For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;" -- Romans 3:23

Every couple has arguments. It comes with the territory when you're sharing your life with someone who differs from you in some ways. Just remember to learn from those arguments. My husband and I have learned something about each other from every single fight we've had, and we've never had the same argument twice. It's never good to fight all the time, but the fact is, fights happen, and when they do, you have to be resilient. You have to take something useful from the argument. You can't give up on your marriage just because you think you argue too much. Work through it, and learn from it.

"Lay thine hand upon him, remember the battle, do no more." -- Job 41:8

Peace be with you, in the name of Jesus.