Marriage After God show

Marriage After God

Summary: Marriage After God is a weekly Podcast hosted by Aaron and Jennifer Smith, authors of Husband After God and Wife After God. This podcast is intended to encourage, inspire, and challenge Christian marriages to chase after God together and to cultivate an extraordinary marriage. Each episode will focus on relevant marriage issues including intimacy, healthy living, boundaries, pornography, biblical living, tips for families, parenting and more. Stay tuned each week for awesome marriage encouragement.

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 MAG 06: Walking Autonomously Doesn't Work w/ Tom + Heidi Celaya | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 00:32:52

Join the marriage after God movement today. Quote from Marriage After God chapter 6 "Walking in autonomy is not only dangerous for your marriage, it is also rebellious. Our relationship with Christ cannot be separate from our relationship with other believers." In this chapter of marriage after God we end with this encouragement: “Don’t wait to be pursued; be the pursuers. Don’t wait to be served; be the faithful servants. Don’t wait to be loved and invited. Love and invite. Be transparent with your marriage, be honest, and love well. We are all connected. We are all one in Jesus Christ, and He is our head, leading us and guiding us to do His will in this world.” Dear Lord, Thank you for the gift of your body. Thank you for the gift of fellowship and friendship. May we be people who are motivated by love to reach out and be a friend to others. We pray we would have the courage and confidence to be people who welcome others in, who are transparent, who are there for others, who lift others up and who pray for others. Use our marriages to be an encouragement to other marriages. Use us as a team to bring you glory, Lord. Help us to never live in isolation. Help us never to be divided. We pray the enemy and we pray our own flesh wouldn’t get in the way of fellowship. May our desire to participate in your body increase even more! May the way we treat one another be a light and an example to the rest of this world. In Jesus’ name, amen! READ: [Aaron] Hey, we're Aaron and Jennifer Smith with Marriage After God. [Jennifer] Helping you cultivate an extraordinary marriage. [Aaron] And today we're on part six of the Marriage After God series and we're gonna be talking with Tom and Heidi Celaya about the importance of Christian fellowship. Welcome to the Marriage After God podcast where we believe that marriage was meant for more than just happily ever after. [Jennifer] I'm Jennifer, also known as Unveiled Wife. [Aaron] And I'm Aaron, also known as Husband Revolution. [Jennifer] We had been married for over a decade. [Aaron] And so far, we have four young children. [Jennifer] We have been doing marriage ministry online for over seven years through blogging and social media. [Aaron] With the desire to inspire couples to keep God at the center of their marriage, encouraging them to walk in faith every day. [Jennifer] We believe that Christian marriage should be an extraordinary one, full of life. [Aaron] Love. [Jennifer] And power. [Aaron] That can only be found by chasing after God. [Jennifer] Together. [Aaron] Thank you for joining us in this journey as we chase boldly after God's will for our life together. [Jennifer] This is Marriage After God. [Aaron] We just want to invite everyone that's listening to leave a review. That helps other people find the podcast. It's how iTunes works, it's how all the podcast apps work. A review helps us get reach. And also if you would like to support this podcast, we'd love to invite you to go to our store,, and pick up a copy of our new book, Marriage After God. It's what this whole series is about. It's our newest book and we're excited to get it into your hands. And yeah. [Jennifer] Okay. So Tom and Heidi, thank you so much for being with us today. [Heidi] Thanks for having us guys. [Jennifer] People don't know this, but we've been friends for a really long time. What is it like nine or 10 years? [Heidi] Nine years, actually this month. [Jennifer] Crazy. Okay, so why don't you just share a little bit about who you guys are, how long you've been married, and how many kids you have, what you do for work, that kind of thing. [Tom] Yeah, I guess this is my part, she said. So, we're Tom and Heidi. We've been married 11 years and three months, four months, October of '07. So we just yesterday passed our 14th dating anniversary, which she made me feel like garbage 'cause I didn't get her anything and she got me a couple things. [Heidi] I did not. [Aaron] You're like, I didn't know we were celebrating our dating anniversary-- [Heidi] I was at Sam's Club and got him a pair of shorts. [Tom] Yeah, I didn't know we were celebrating. And you got me cookies as well. But anyways, we have two kids, a nine-year-old daughter, eight-year-old son. And yeah, we've been living in our home currently for five years, and I'm in medical sales for a job and Heidi runs the house here and handles our crazy kids. So yeah, we're kind of a normal, somewhat normal family I think. [Jennifer] Awesome. Okay you guys, we're gonna go into our icebreaker question, which, Aaron, you want to ... [Aaron] Yeah. What is one of your favorite memories of us from our friendship over the years? [Heidi] Oh man. Favorite memory. [Tom] I don't know. [Jennifer] 'Cause there's so many. [Aaron] 'Cause all of your memories are your favorite of us. [Tom] Right, that's the whole-- [Woman] Yes. [Tom] I've got a few. I don't know exactly which one I would say my favorite is. Gosh. [Jennifer] I feel like when we think about this question, I was telling Aaron, all the late nights, all the late nights we spent at your guys' island eating ice cream and just chatting and laughing. [Aaron] They don't own an island. Their kitchen island. [Heidi] Yep. Thank you. I didn't understand what she was-- [Tom] I was gonna say, one of my, one of the ones I think of and laugh about, because I think it's disgusting, is the fact that we would go get ice cream and you would get a shake or a malt with half and half instead of, like, low fatter. I remember just thinking just, oh my gosh, that's disgusting, I can't believe he's drinking that. And we would probably-- [Aaron] Yeah, what was it? Circus animal ice cream? [Tom] Yes. [Heidi] Yes, with half and half. [Aaron] With half and half. Half and half cream-- [Tom] In Clairemont, yeah. And you would just, you loved it and you would feel a little sick afterwards, but it was, we were always just laughing about it for a long time. [Aaron] It was so worth it though. [Jennifer] I think that's really abnormal. I don't think a lot of people would relate to you on that, Aaron. [Tom] No. [Heidi] No. [Aaron] You're making me, I want one right now. [Heidi] I think my most-- [Aaron] That's a good memory-- [Heidi] Story of you two is how we were kind of desperate for friends, married couple friends, and when we met you at Fuse kind of offering, hey, if you guys ever want, we are about 20 minutes away, but we'd love to have you over for dinner. And you actually took us up on the offer and I think-- [Tom] A lot-- [Heidi] What was it, three to four times a week over at my house, and I loved it. I think when you throw out that, hey, we should have you guys over sometime, it never really ever happens and you kind of feel a little bit hurt that they didn't take you up on the offer, but to have you guys take us up on the offer and for us to get so close and dive so deep into both of our marriages was definitely my favorite because I mean, we both put ourselves out there and opened up so much that-- [Aaron] Yeah, we loved that-- [Heidi] It couldn't have happened otherwise. [Jennifer] And I think we were in a place in our marriage where we really needed it too. So I think that's really cool. [Aaron] We definitely were, yeah. That's what this episode's about, actually. [Jennifer] Yeah, this episode is all about friendship and fellowship and so we're gonna dive into a quote from Marriage After God from this chapter. [Aaron] And it's walking in autonomy is not only dangerous for your marriage, it is also rebellious. Our relationship with Christ cannot be separate from our relationship with other believers. [Heidi] So true. [Aaron] Yeah, so that's from chapter six of our book, Marriage After God, and the chapter title's called Walking Autonomously Doesn't Work. And when we thought about who we can interview for this episode, you guys were the first people that we thought of because in our life when we needed fellowship the most and when we were afraid of it the most, we found you guys and you found us. [Jennifer] Well, yeah, I was gonna say, it was that you guys wrapping your arms around us and inviting us to your table at that marriage bible study, which Heidi mentioned earlier, it's called Fuse. That was a turning point in our relationship and our marriage, and it just stands out to us and I think it forever will. And I'm just really excited about this because other people listening will be able to hear your guys' side of the story because if they read Unveiled Wife or if they're gonna read Marriage After God, we mention you guys and we mention your impact in our lives surrounding fellowship with other believers. And yeah-- [Aaron] Have they read what we wrote about them yet? [Jennifer] No. But now you're here and they get to hear from you guys. So I love that. [Aaron] Awesome. And you guys haven't read the chapter yet, right? [Tom] No. [Heidi] No. [Aaron] Okay, good. It's all good stuff, I promise. Yeah. [Jennifer] Okay, so speaking of that night at Fuse where we showed up, our marriage was in turmoil and we were just looking for that last ditch effort, kind of like, what are we doing? We step into this bible study, there's a lot of marriages and people there greeting one another and we're like freaking out on the inside. Kind of look at each other like, let's get out of here. [Aaron] It was terrifying. Walking into that big old, a huge open room, and how many people were there when we came? It was like probably-- [Heidi] Probably 600. [Tom] No, no. Probably about 350. [Heidi] You think so? [Tom] Yeah. [Aaron] Yeah, 350 people. It was a lot. It wasn't as full as it got, but it was pretty full when we came. [Tom] Yeah. [Jennifer] And anyways, we were trying to sneak out. We were trying to find a way to just walk back out the doors and Tom comes up and sticks his arms around Aaron and I and he's like, hey, you guys new? [Aaron] I remember getting startled by it actually. 'Cause we were walking backwards, which I know is-- [Heidi] And he's not a small guy either, so, big old mitts on your shoulders. [Jennifer] So you guys brought us to your table and that was kind of the beginning of our friendship together. So Tom, you've mentioned that Aaron's appearance at the time, he had plugs in his ears, he had a beard and-- [Aaron] Yeah, tattoos on my wrist. [Jennifer] Not the typical guy you would have been friends with back then. But can you just share, what was going through your mind at that moment? [Tom] Yeah, let's state for the record, clearly I'm not a very judgmental person. At least I don't think though, but yeah, at the time, just, here's ... I am the non-talkative one of Heidi and I's relationship. To be very clear, Heidi loves the talking and doesn't stop. So, and that's just not my style. And so God has placed us in this marriage, which is a story in and of itself or in this marriage ministry where we took over this table at this marriage group, and he just blessed it. It became a huge group of probably around 30 people, so about 15 couples, and they really, what they wanted was 10 couples or 10 people at each table, five couples. And so we were big and it was, it's something I loved. Most of those people are still friends to this day, but it was a lot for me and just how I like to operate, so yeah, I look up that night and see these two. And we are also one of the younger tables there at the time. [Aaron] Yeah, I remember that. [Tom] Seeing you guys walk in, I was like, oh gosh, they're our age group. They're probably our life experiences as of right now, whether it's young kids or no kids and some are looking over there and thinking, uh, no thanks. I don't know this girl who is an all American gal is standing next to this guy who's got plugs in his ear-- [Aaron] A little weird-- [Tom] Short hair, a beard, all these things, I'm looking. Like I am 100% as I said a minute ago, I'm not judgmental, I was 100% judging and thinking, I would never hang out with that guy. That gal looks like a great friend for my wife, but I would never hang out with that dude, we've got enough people at our table, I'm good. And there's those times that God whispers and you're not sure it's God, and there's other times where you just kind of move. You're like, what the heck is happening, because I don't really want to be doing this and perfectly honest, that's what was happening. Is I just felt the nudge and the pull, and so I got up and walked over and yeah, and you guys were ready to move out. You actually were on the way out. [Aaron] You saw it. [Tom] I remember Jen's face was one of sheer terror, of, oh God, we almost got out of here and this guy just ruined it. And Aaron's was more of a, okay, okay, good. This, okay, we'll do it. [Aaron] I needed it. I was, I needed someone to hold my hand in that moment because like, I wanted it, but I didn't know-- [Tom] Yeah, so we moved towards the table and that was literally one of those, it changed our life, changed our marriage, and it was one of those things, I'm darn glad I got out of my seat and went and did it. Because not only was that good for us, but I can also speak to others who have zero desire to include other people or you know, you hear a comment a lot like, I have enough friends or whatnot, which I think is a bad comment to make. One I've probably made my own, but it moved me out of my comfort zone and changed our lives for the better. [Jennifer] I love that you shared all of that. And so much of this book is about saying yes to God in moments like that where he nudges you or he pulls you out of your chair and you say yes to him and you do it anyways. And I'm just so you guys know, we still really appreciate that you did that for us. [Aaron] Yeah, and we not only have written about it extensively, but we share the story often and we, a part of the, what we talk about in this chapter, specifically with what you guys did in our life is when you, Tom and Heidi, said Yes to God in that one little moment, which was a series of yeses, becoming the leaders of that table and wherever God had led you before that, you wouldn't have known back then what kind of effect, lasting effect it would have in the fact that that one moment would not only turn into a lifetime friendship and relationship with us, but would also impact thousands and thousands of other marriages and people through your one act of obedience. [Tom] Yeah, there's-- [Aaron] So I, go ahead-- [Tom] We've met people, or not met, I shouldn't say that. Actually, we have. People we've met and then also people we knew that years later we talk to or run into or Heidi meets randomly in a grocery store and like I said, she talks to everybody. We're mentioned right, as you helped our marriage or you were instrumental and perfectly honest, we did nothing. We were fools, of sorts, used by God because we didn't even know we had any impact on these people, let alone strangers, but then people we knew years later say, you have no clue what you did for us. It's just, it's humbling, it's neat, and just to understand that if you allow God to use you, you have no clue what he's gonna do. And probably by the time Heidi and I are in graves, we'll have no clue what impact we had. But that's what we're supposed to do, we're supposed to be used by God for his greater good. [Aaron] Yeah, and I hope those that are listening right now, and that's exactly why I wanted to interview these people like you is because people don't know. They may think, what can I do? How can God use me? And you simply got up and said hi to us. Now, it's lots of laughter and tears after that, but still just that one act of obedience, the fruit from that is exactly what God's looking for from all of us and that's, I just love that you highlighted that. So, man, I'm loving this interview so far. Is this the one we want to go with? Okay. So what kind of barriers do you think keep believers from close fellowship with other believers? Because that's what we had. We grew in close fellowship with each other. What do you think it is that stops believers from making that deep connection and walking in obedience with fellowship with other believers? [Heidi] Oh, man. Honestly, I'd have to say pride. A lot of times, especially with social media age, you want to give your best face, you want to show pictures of your kids perfectly dressed and their hair perfectly done and you'll move things out of the background of the picture just so that way the background looks nice. But I think, unfortunately, I think people don't want to share their stink. They don't want to say, we're going through this issue or I have this deep seated issue or they just don't want their stuff out there for people to judge or question how perfect they thought their life was. And I think it's uncomfortable for people to let down that wall and share who they really are and share what their marriage is really going through. [Jennifer] Yeah, you guys have been really good at being an example of how to live transparently with other people, 'cause you guys were open with us and that opened the flood gates for us to be open with you guys because of that example. And I think it's so important for people to hear, how would you encourage someone to walk transparently with one another? How do you do that? [Tom] I think there's another aspect to it too, is from a good friend who joined the group as well that said he was tired of bible studies with people that weren't like him. And not necessarily weren't like him as in same exact life experiences, but as I kind of said with Aaron, looked at him and thought I'd never hang out with that guy. He was always turned off by, well, I tried this group, I tried that group, it didn't work. All those guys were nerds or none of those guys played sports or things of that nature. And there's a constant, I get that part, but if you're open to it, you might find that, as I tell my kids, right now in school, you may, there may be differences and clicks or different things like that, but as you get older, those things really do melt away. And especially if it's a brother or sister in Christ, you have a really deep bond that many don't understand. But there's a part to it too, when you hang out with those who aren't like you. For instance, Aaron, when you and I were in the men's fellowship group together, gosh, you were obviously younger than me, but we were both vastly younger than anyone else in that room and just-- [Aaron] Yeah, I remember that. [Tom] Stuff that we picked up from those guys who one was divorced, one was married, he was married but they were both from divorced families and kind of had a Brady Bunch type of union now. The things that I learned from that group, including on how not to talk to my wife and ended up actually causing some stress in my marriage when I told her how I shouldn't be talking to you, even though I have been, then all of a sudden she picked up on what a jerk I had been. [Aaron] She's like, yeah, you shouldn't talk to me like that. [Tom] Yeah, it was a total backfire move on my part. But it just, the things you learn from people when you continue to give it a shot and be open to it. If you go in with walls, you're gonna come out with walls. If you go in-- [Aaron] That's good-- [Tom] Being willing to hear or listen, I think everybody can find that community and like Heidi said, if you're willing to lower your walls and lower your pride, you'll find out everybody's just as jacked up as you are. It's just different levels, 'cause no marriage is perfect. [Aaron] Oh, I love that. And it's like the, it's this idea that recognizing what we do have in common, which is Christ, and being okay with that being the thing that we connect on because that's what God wants anyway and being able to throw out those preferences of like, well, I only want to spend time with this kind of person, which is hard to find the right person. It's rare that we have that kind of relationship, right. So I love that. How have you two navigated being a part of fellowship with the body of Christ? [Jennifer] And maybe how are you currently fellowshipping with other believers? [Tom] I got nudged, so this one's mine. So we no longer attend a church where it's facilitated by the church. So we met via a group that was facilitated by the church. And to be honest, thank God for them, they made it easy, right. Childcare and a building and all those things. So that doesn't exist where we live anymore, and so, and we don't attend a church that really has that. So now it's become harder work. It's no longer the ease of high school, seeing your friends every day and then you become an adult and go to different colleges or go to different jobs. It takes work for those relationships, and so that's where we are now. It's a lot of work to continue this. And so there's an aspect of that that's more rewarding. There's also an aspect that's more frustrating. So we totally get the part where continuing in this type of ministry or this type of group is not easy, but it's so important. When we take breaks from it, I don't want to call it a toll because it sounds negative or like it's destructive, but the toll it takes on our marriage is seen. It's very easily seen in that we just don't vibe as well. A marriage becomes more difficult than it has to be when we're not in fellowship with others. [Aaron] So even if it's not as easy as it was, you guys recognize that it's still a necessity and a vital part of your Christian faith is that you must be in fellowship, whatever that looks like. [Tom] Yeah, there's something to it when people ask, I work with so many people who will ask like, how often do you and Heidi fight or what do you do this, or how do you handle this? And yeah, and I explain that to them. There's a part where you share life with others and these can be people who are non Christians. Just when you share life with others and share your experiences, your victories, your struggles, that's what we were created for. And again, if I'm talking to a non Christian, I don't have, I throw God in there, but there's an aspect for them too, that even if you're not a believer in Christ, if you're not fellowshipping with people who help you get better or can take some of the load off or even just share life with, you're missing something. And so, yeah, there's a definite need for us every day, if not at least once a week, like a marriage group that we have now, we have to do it or else there's just a hole and there's a window that-- [Aaron] So you're saying is it's just a basic, it's the way God created us as humans is we need deep human connection, we need deep human relationships and that we can't just walk autonomously. And then especially for the believer, we need Christian fellowship to be around other Christians to sharpen us, to grow us. That's what I'm hearing you say. [Tom] Exactly what I'm saying-- [Aaron] Is that it's not something we can just, we can't just throw it out. Right, that's what, which is what a lot of Christians do. I use this word autonomous. A lot of believers are totally fine with autonomy because that seems easier. Like, oh, just, you can have what Heidi said. You can have this facade and long as you, let's be cordial and we'll be nice and all, we'll hug on Sundays, but then you're not allowed to know who I am, you're not allowed to see the dirt in my life, you're not allowed to call me out on anything, you're not allowed to know that the dark parts of me. [Jennifer] How do we grow and mature if we're not letting people see who we are? [Aaron] Well, we can't. [Heidi] We don't. [Aaron] That's the point is, I don't want to grow and therefore I don't tell anyone or show anyone who I am. [Jennifer] But a marriage after God wants to grow. [Aaron] Exactly. [Jennifer] So a marriage after God's going to be doing this. You touched on a point about your church not facilitating that easy fellowship time currently. And so for people who are listening right now, what would you say is an action step for them to be an initiator in this, so that they're not waiting around, waiting for an invitation or waiting for it to be easy. What can someone do today? What can a couple do today to-- [Aaron] Be the starters-- [Jennifer] To be the starters of-- [Aaron] Be the initiator. [Jennifer] Yeah. [Aaron] Do what Tom did and get up and walk over and put his arm around us. [Jennifer] Yeah. [Tom] Yeah, I think the first and easy start for me would be at a church you're at, you obviously, if you don't, if you go in and out of that building and don't connect or talk to anybody, you're doing yourself and that body a disservice. So it'd be just connecting very simply with people at the church. Again, maybe somebody that you have, when you pick up your kids from childcare, obviously there's somewhere you can connect. There's so many spots to just start there. The other might be just friends in general. And Aaron, you brought up a point, the autonomy. There's something to it, right, where there's a couple of good friends of mine who I'm not as extreme as this, but literally don't like to talk to somebody. And it's funny though when you ask the question, well, what happens when you're out in public and there's a Christian connection of sorts, like somebody mentions something or you see somebody praying and somebody mentions it to you. There's an instant spark, there's an instant connection because out in the world when you find somebody who has that fearlessness of being able to say, yeah, I'm a Christian, or lives it out in front of you, there's a spark that you automatically have a bond. And so at your church, I think it's the easiest spot to have where it's reached out, somebody needs somebody or friends that you have now that you know are believers. Talk to them about getting together in a marriage study, whether it be one of your guys' books, whether it be something on DVD where there's a series going on, just starting somewhere or getting together on a bi-weekly basis just to hang, to chat. Because from that, as you guys know we used to do, we used to have dinners at the house, from that just hanging out, will spur those conversations and start something that you can then morph into, hey, why don't we start getting together on a weekly basis or bi-weekly basis. [Aaron] So true. I'm gonna take one of your guys' strategies. You guys had an open invitation to us to come over to eat with you guys. And not everyone is gonna, like you said, not everyone takes you up, but you said, hey, come over. And we said yes. So there was times that we went over and you didn't even know we were coming over. We just, we just texted you when we were around the corner. Was like, hey, hope dinner's ready. [Tom] You guys make it sound like that's the exception. That might've been the rule, that it was, you guys popped in a lot, and again, we loved it. It was not, we do it to people now. We'll just show up at their house with ice cream or something. [Aaron] They're like, uh-- [Tom] Yeah, their faces, they're not happy to see us. And then it ends up being a half hour, hour visit and laughing and fun and then we leave, and we'll get a, hey, thanks for stopping by, even though we showed up at the door. There's been many wives who looked at me like, what are you doing here? So yeah, it's-- [Aaron] Yeah. I think it's just the, it's not common for people 'cause we think like, oh no, you don't want to bother, you don't want to invade someone's privacy. You don't want to. But I think that's what we're supposed to do as brothers and sisters. Now, we don't want to step over boundaries and be rude and be, but like actually go into, hey, I'm in the neighborhood, would you love, I'd love to bring you a coffee. Hey, I'm grabbing a doughnut, you want one? Or a breakfast sandwich or whatever it is, just to spark that. You guys were a great example of that, opening up your home to us, giving us an invitation to be over and actually following through with it and making a meal with us and making it a night. Like we would stay at your house until two o'clock in the morning sometimes. [Woman] Sometimes we-- [Aaron] This was before kids. [Woman] Yeah. [Aaron] But yeah, I think that's a great idea. Just starting where you're at, looking around at you and saying, hey, there's a bunch of believers around me. I should not be hiding. There should be no reason that I can't go spark up a conversation and say, who are you? How can we know each other more? [Jennifer] And in this chapter of the book, I share a story of when Heidi invited me over to her house for one of the first times that we would actually spend girl time together-- [Aaron] This is a good story, yeah. [Jennifer] And I don't want to give too much away because I want them to read it, but I basically said I was busy and felt the conviction of the Lord prompt my heart to call you back, Heidi, and I had to apologize for lying and I did go over there. And so I just want to share that briefly because I think so many times, we do excuse ourselves or justify why we can't hang out or maybe we're afraid or maybe it's too uncomfortable. But I just want the people listening right now to know it is so worth it. It's worth it to get out of your comfort zone and it's worth it to build these friendships and these relationships with other believers because they will impact our lives for the better. [Aaron] Yeah, just like you guys have impacted our life. And in what you're saying, Jennifer, it makes me think of this. How many times have I said, hey, why don't you call so and so and see if they want to hang out, and you say, no, they're doing this thing today or they have this-- [Jennifer] I give other people excuses. [Aaron] And I tell them, I'm like, did they say that? And she's like, well, no. And I'm like, so they didn't tell you no? So I think sometimes when we feel that nudge, that Holy Spirit draw to reach out and to call or to connect with, and we say, no, they're probably this or they're probably that, and we say no for people before they say no. And to avoid that, to let the person say no. [Tom] To this day, that's me and Heidi. I think one of the better compliments she was given, whether it was a compliment or not, was you're a spiritual nuisance, because she doesn't let, she won't let you off the hook. [Jennifer] That's true. [Tom] She'll keep coming-- [Aaron] It's true, Heidi's got a gift. [Tom] It's truly a gift of God to her. It annoys the heck out of me sometimes. But especially when we're trying to be somewhere. [Aaron] But look at the fruit in your life because of it. [Tom] Yeah, exactly. So I have to balance that when I do get annoyed and remember how it's blessed me. But yeah, I mean, she's very good at this and doesn't, kind of tracks people down. [Aaron] So cool. [Jennifer] Awesome. Okay you guys, well, as we wrap up this awesome interview, in your own words, what is a marriage after God? [Heidi] Honestly, I think a marriage after God is putting God first and not your spouse and not other people, not celebrities, not your own image, but putting God first in your marriage to bless yourself, bless your marriage, bless other people. Just really living for God and not for the world. [Tom] What does that look like? I had a conversation with our daughter two days ago. We were driving back from somewhere and she says, so you love God first and then mommy and then us. And I said, yeah, it doesn't make sense, does it. And she says, no, it doesn't. Because one time I was a stupid dad and I answered the question honestly when she said, well, who's your favorite girl? And I answered mommy immediately. To an eight year old at the time, that was a really stupid answer on my part. But I mean, it was just not smart because it broke her heart and I had to try to come back and explain that to her because she's eight, she's not supposed to completely grasp that yet-- [Aaron] I don't have faith like that yet-- [Tom] But yes, sure, and a couple of days ago in the car, I said, it doesn't make sense and here's why. It's because God wants your focus on him. But in doing that, he opens you up to everything else and gives you a greater appreciation, gives you a greater understanding and gives you a greater love for other things. And so by mommy and daddy focusing on God first, it allows us to be better husband and wife to each other and allows us to be a better mommy and daddy to you. Even though a lot of times you probably don't think we're that great, that's what it does. And I said, and it's hard for you understand, I understand that, and you won't until you are married or have kids, but in the end, people have asked, why have we had such a great marriage. And it hasn't been perfect, but it's been the best decision I ever made in my life. And for a male to say that to another male, in our day and age is, Aaron, I'm sure you see it on people's faces when you do it. They look at you like you're crazy. And yeah, it's the absolute best thing I ever did in my life, and we just, if we focus on God first, right, though Sunday mornings you don't feel like getting up and going to church and you do and you walk into a sermon that's on marriage and you get, and God just talks to you there. It's putting him first whether you want to or not on that particular day. None of us are perfect. And then it just, everything else unlocks. Churches, I know I'm rambling. Churches know this fact. If they want to grow their church, they can get the wife, that's fine, and you'll get the kids maybe. But if you get the husband, you get the entire family and that's how you grow your church number, and that's a different topic, but again, if as a husband-- [Aaron] No, what you're saying is husbands need to be leading spiritually and setting the tone in their home. That's good. [Tom] Yeah. Before you rudely cut me off, what I was saying is, if we as husbands lead, it's infectious. It doesn't always happen, but it's infectious. The wife then follows, then the kids then follow and it's a beautiful thing. And I've noticed for me, if I slip and I'm not focusing on God, my house slips. So long winded answer to your question is both of you focusing on God, it's funny how the rest just seems to, not easily sometimes, but it does, it falls into place. [Aaron] Good. Thank you, that was really good. [Jennifer] That's so good. Thank you guys so much for sharing with us today. We just want to invite everyone to take a moment to join us in prayer. Dear Lord, thank you for the gift of your body. Thank you for the gift of fellowship and friendship. May we be people who are motivated by love to reach out and be a friend to others. We pray we would have the courage and confidence to be people who welcome others in, who are transparent, who are there for others, who lift others up and who pray for others. Use our marriages to be an encouragement to other marriages. Use us as a team to bring you glory. Help us to never live in isolation. Help us to never be divided. We pray the enemy and we pray our own flesh wouldn't get it in the way of fellowship. May our desire to participate in your body increase even more. May the way we treat one another be a light and an example to the rest of the world. In Jesus' name. Amen. [Aaron] Amen. So Tom and Heidi, we love you guys. We miss you guys. [Tom] Thanks for having us. [Aaron] We need to see you soon. [Tom] Sincerely. [Woman] Miss you guys. [Aaron] And thank you so much for giving us some time today and in blessing everyone that's listening. So hey everyone that's listening, thank you so much for joining us on this sixth week of the series, and we look forward to having you next week. Did you enjoy today's show? If you did, it would mean the world to us if you could leave us a review on iTunes. Also, if you're interested, you can find many more encouraging stories and resources at, and let us help you cultivate an extraordinary marriage.

 MAG 05: Marriage Is Your First Ministry - Interview w/ Matt & Lisa Jacobson from Faithful Life podcast | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 00:54:50

Join the Marriage After God movement and grab a copy of our new book today. In this episode, we interview Matt & Lisa Jacobson From and & Faithful Family podcast. Here is a quote from our book Marriage After God “Your marriage is the message you are preaching to others. The way you and your spouse interact with each other reveals the gospel you believe.” Dear Lord, Thank you for creating marriage with such a significant purpose of revealing to the world your divine love. Please help us to make choices that reflect your love in the way we love one another. May we choose to walk in obedience. Thank you for your word which instructs us and shows us how we should walk in obedience. Please continue to give us wisdom and strength as we choose to walk in the Spirit and not our flesh. We pray we would make our marriage a priority. We pray we would gain a deeper understanding of how our marriage is our first ministry and the impact we have in each other’s lives and in this world, just by remaining faithful to your word. If our priorities are ever out of order or if we are not unified please help us to change course. Constantly direct our hearts to align with yours. May our marriage always be in a place where you can use us as a symbol to point others to you and may you be glorified. In Jesus’ name, amen! READ: [Aaron] Hey, we're Aaron and Jennifer Smith of Marriage after God. [Lisa] Helping you cultivate an extraordinary marriage. [Aaron] And today we're in part five of the Marriage after God series, and we're gonna be talking with Matt and Lisa Jacobsen about marriage being your first ministry. [Aaron] Welcome to the Marriage after God podcast, where we believe that marriage was meant for more than just happily ever after. [Jennifer] I'm Jennifer, also known as Unveiled Wife. [Aaron] And I'm Aaron, also known as Husband Revolution. [Jennifer] We have been married for over a decade. [Aaron] And so far, we have four young children. [Jennifer] We have been doing marriage ministry online for over seven years through blogging and social media. [Aaron] With the desire to inspire couples to keep God at the center of their marriage, encouraging them to walk in faith every day. [Jennifer] We believe that Christian marriage should be an extraordinary one, full of life, [Aaron] Love. [Jennifer] And power [Aaron] That can only be found by chasing after God. [Jennifer] Together. [Aaron] Thank you for joining us on this journey as we chase boldly after God's will for our life together. [Jennifer] This is marriage after God. [Aaron] Hey, thanks for joining us on week five of this series that we're doing. I hope you're enjoying it. You're definitely going to enjoy today's guests. But before we move on, as always, we want to invite you to leave a review. Those reviews help the podcast get seen by new audiences. So, if you've been enjoying the content, we'd love a star rating, which is the easiest way to do it, all you gotta do is tap a star in the app. And if you really, really want to and have time, leaving us a text review would be awesome. We read every single one of 'em, and we love them, so thank you for that. [Jennifer] Another way you can support this podcast-- [Aaron] So today on this episode, we're gonna be talking about content from chapter five of our book, Marriage after God. And the chapter's titled, "Your First Ministry." and we thought, what better way to talk about this chapter than to talk with our pastors and ask them who inspired us and showed us what it looked like to recognize our marriage as ministry. And now we actually reference them and talk about them in this chapter, and so today we have Matt and Lisa Jacobson with us, welcome. [Lisa] Hey, nice to be here. [Matt] Awesome to be here, you bet. [Aaron] Yeah, and we're in our garage, sitting on our couches. And today we're gonna be talking about this topic. But before we talk about that, why don't you introduce to the audience, just in case they don't know you guys, who you are, children, marriage, all that. [Matt] Okay, well, Matt Jacobsen, and this is my lovely woman. [Lisa] Hey, hello. [Matt] Lisa, and so we've been married for 26 years. We have eight kids between the ages of 12 and about 25. [Lisa] Yup. [Matt] Right, and there are four of them are out of the house and moved on. And so, what keeps us busy when we're not just hanging out and kissing in a dark corner somewhere. [Lisa] That's right. We also, we do homeschool and we do a lot of work with our kids. Our kids help us out with what we do at home and also in our ministry. [Matt] And so, speaking of ministries. So, my website is [Lisa] And I'm Lisa with [Matt] And so that is a writing ministry that speaks to marriage, parenting, church, and culture. Biblical perspective on those things. And so, that comprises a lot of what takes up our time in a given week. And then, of course, we're the pastors of a small local fellowship as well. [Aaron] Yeah, it's our fellowship. [Matt] That's right. [Aaron] You're our pastors. And we love you guys. And by the way, if everyone listening didn't hear what those were, that's and You guys should definitely check them out. And why don't you tell them about your newest podcast that you guys just launched? [Matt] Awesome, okay. Well, the name of that podcast is Faithful Life. And it's essentially a podcast that is pursuing the and exploring the topic of what does it mean to live as a biblical Christian. There are a lot of people in the world, lot of Christians, people who identify as Christians, who are living a life that is really separate or tangential to the Bible. And really, if you're going to be a biblical Christian, you've gotta know what the Bible says about these various aspects of life: marriage, parenting, how we're to live within church community and then how we're to interact with the culture. And so, that's the focus of the podcast, faithful-- [Lisa] With a lot of emphasis on practical ways to do that, sometimes we kinda know in our heads what the right thing to do is, or what we believe the Bible says, but then how does that look in our day-to-day life, and that's something that matt and I really have a passion for is just connecting those two things. [Matt] And a little bit of experience. It's only been, what, 26 years you've been married and walking with the Lord and learning through all of the eight children. [Aaron] So we just want everyone to check out their podcast; it's called Faithful Life. And you're gonna love it. Just search for it wherever you listen to podcasts. So, let's get into the icebreaker question. And this is how we start all the episodes. It's just a fun question. How does your spouse like their coffee and what does that say about them? [Lisa] Okay, I get to go first on this one. Because everybody that knows Matt Jacobson well knows that he likes his coffee black, but, even more importantly, he likes it burning hot so that it burns a hole in your tongue, so he, if-- [Matt] And you better not put it in a cold cup. [Lisa] Right, the best way to show love to Matt Jacobson is to heat up the cup first and then pour his coffee into it. [Matt] Wow, that's one of the ways over the years you've shown love to me. But right, so anyway-- [Lisa] In the coffee-- [Matt] No, that's right in the coffee, in the realm of coffee. And Lisa takes her coffee with a teaspoon of sugar and cream and-- [Lisa] That's right, I like it a little sweet. [Matt] She likes it a little sweet, that's right. [Aaron] And it's just like her character too. Little sweet. [Matt] And I love making coffee for her; I do. In the morning, I love making coffee. I love bringing her a cup of coffee in the morning. [Jennifer] And you guys do coffee as a family a lot, so can you just share a little bit about that 'cause I just love that. [Matt] Okay, so, why don't you tell how we've corrupted our young children? [Lisa] Well, we started off in our marriage. We started each day with having coffee. Matt would make a coffee tray for him and I, and we would sit and have coffee together. And then as each child came along, we then slowly incorporated them into this special time until it became something our whole family just loves and so even our older kids when they come home for the holidays or different vacations, they'll come and that's the thing they look forward to most is having our time together over a pot of coffee. And we just talk about what we're thinking about, what's going on in our world, and it's just a really close family time. [Matt] And you know, oh, sorry. That whole process of incorporating the kids into it. It's kind of funny because it's really a metaphor, or an example, if you will, of what happens in your family. Over time, we're very strict with the older kids. I don't even remember when we began allowing them to have coffee. Including them. I don't even remember, do you remember how old they were? [Lisa] No. [Matt] But, as time went on, the younger kids just get to start earlier and earlier. And I think we started, did Hawkin have his first? [Lisa] He was about seven or eight maybe-- [Aaron] It was a bottle right? [Lisa] When he had his first cup of coffee. [Matt] That's right. [Lisa] A very, very tiny cup of coffee, mostly milk. [Jennifer] Mostly milk, yeah. [Matt] Yeah, right, and so now we're going, okay, so. [Lisa] Almost because their dad's kind of soft on the issue. [Matt] I am; I am. [Jennifer] I was just gonna say, I follow Lisa on Instagram, and I love watching your stories because you'll post about it every once in a while of just your guys' family time around that, and it's beautiful and you can just tell, just from that short glimpse that you give the rest of us that it's a really beautiful time that you're cultivating in your family. [Matt] And in some senses, like you see the snapshot, and it is awesome, it really is. But, it's just so normal, a part of life, and a wonderful life is built on a lot of normal moments that you just string together over time. [Jennifer] Mm-hmm, it's true, yeah, it's good. [Matt] And so, yeah. [Aaron] Yeah, there's the big one-offs that are memorable, but then there's the, it's the everyday things that shape who we are, it's all those habits that we have and those routines. I love that. Why don't you share the quote from the chapter? And then we'll just start asking questions. [Jennifer] Okay, so this is from chapter five of Marriage after God. "Your marriage is the message you are preaching to other, "the way you and your spouse interact with each other "reveals the gospel you believe." [Aaron] Matt and Lisa, how would you that that is true in what you guys have experienced, because it's something that you've definitely not only shown us through your own marriage, but also directly have shown us in ours in saying hey, you can't expect to have this ministry over here if your home doesn't match. So could you give me some insight on how this quote plays out in real life? [Matt] Well, one of the things that you just naturally see in life is you see people in ministry and what's the big joke in America, at least it used to be, I don't know if it still is, who are the worst kids in church? The PKs, the preacher's kids, right? And so, that is so antithetical to how we're called to live in the word of God because we are called ambassadors. That means that we are representatives of the kingdom of God on earth. We bear the name of Christ, and we're his representatives. And how is it possible that you have this ministry or you have this public presence, and then it's not true in your own personal life. You wanna tell somebody about the wonderful truths of Scripture. And you wanna tell somebody the gospel and explain to them how they can have a wonderful relationship with the Lord. And then you don't have, you're not living those wonderful relationships in your family. I know that we had seen a lot of this early on. And we were even involved in a particular church, years and years ago, they were lovely people but focused just on evangelism and kinda lost the relationships with their kids over time. We just saw-- [Lisa] And in their marriage. [Matt] This family's disintegrating. And the marriage is. Then we though, you know what, the life that we're called to as believers is much more holistic than that. And the truths of the gospel are supposed to be manifest in our lives. And if I could just say one more thing. I know you've got a lot to say, too. You see in the instructions for church leadership in the book of 1 Timothy, one of the principal requirements of anybody in ministry and this is serving as an elder or a deacon within the church. [Aaron] Yes, specific position. [Matt] One of the principal requirements is that you've demonstrated that your children have yielded hearts to you. You're governing your family well. You're leading your family well. There's a sense of order and peace in your home. So God wants it to be true at home before we go out to represent him to the world. [Aaron] And what does Paul tell Timothy, he says how can you presume to manage the household of God if you can't manage your own home, which is how he, after all that teaching, he says that it doesn't make sense. [Matt] Yeah. [Lisa] And I think that Matt's kind of big picture guy. And I'm more of what does that look like in my day kind of person. And one thing I had noticed that in Scripture, when it talks about how we are to be towards one another, how we're to be, to be loving, patient, kind. And we apply all of those things to out there. So, just an example: I go to the grocery store, and the cashier's taking forever to get me through the line. And she apologizes, but I've read the Bible, so I'm going to be, oh it's fine, I'll wait. I understand you're trying your hardest, and we'll get through here because I'm being patient, and I'm being kind. And then I go home, and I have a different response when it takes Matt forever to come out and help me bring in the groceries in the house. Or, because I'll be snippin' at him-- [Matt] Has that ever happened, like even one time in our marriage? [Lisa] Like I wait for you? Do you really wanna bring that up? [Aaron] Everyone listening was like that was just today. [Lisa] So, but it really struck home to me that all those things that we think apply to out there to strangers or maybe to friends. It somehow, or maybe there's a disconnect, to actually sometimes the hardest person, sometimes, is actually the person your married to. [Jennifer] I was just gonna say, thinking about our own marriage. I used to do this thing where I would always be upbeat and positive and smiley with everyone. And then I'd come home and immediately my countenance would change, and Aaron-- [Aaron] I finally called you out on it, I was like-- [Jennifer] Yeah, 'cause Aaron would be like-- [Aaron] Why do they get the smiles and then I get this? [Jennifer] Yeah. [Aaron] What is this? [Jennifer] And then I remember specifically him saying, I want your best. And I had to figure it out. I had to figure out why I was doing that and check my flesh on it really. [Aaron] Well, I think there's a default position of, well, I have you, therefore you should deal with who I actually wanna be today, and everyone else has to, I want them to see the best part of me. It's almost like it's just totally backwards. And it's actually lying. [Matt] Well, the harsh reality of the circumstance is who you actually are in terms of your personal character is who you are when the doors are shut and you're letting your hair down, so to speak, and you're just being your natural self with the people where the consequences might not be as immediate or severe as they might be if you do this in public. And so, that's the reality of who we are. And so, it's important to take stock on those things. How am I with the people that I'm closest to because those are the people that we tend to take for granted and those are the circumstances that we tend to be a little less guarded. [Aaron] Now that you're saying that, I'm thinking, it's actually probably infinitely less damaging to be that kind of person in public, when people they may be offended for the moment, but they're gonna forget your face in like eight seconds 'cause they don't live with you than the person that we literally spend hours and hours a day and our lifetime with: our children, our spouse. We sacrifice the main thing for the non-main thing. [Matt] Totally, and that's of course humanly speaking, in terms of the cost, over the long-term. [Aaron] Yeah, publicly. [Matt] But relative to the Lord's perspective on these relations, he wants it to be the same everywhere. [Aaron] Yeah. [Matt] He wants us to be loving and in the spirit everywhere with the people, especially close to us, but also with everybody else that we're interacting with. [Aaron] Or repentant if we're not. [Jennifer] Yeah, yeah, there is grace Right? [Aaron] Which changes us. [Matt] Well, you know what, you brought up the R word: repentance. And that is such an important word and such an abused word in our Christian religious world because repentance has a specific meaning. It's a word that has a definition. And we cut ourselves so much slack and we dip back into the same sins over and, how about this, just this sin we're talking about here where we're not being kind to our spouse, but we've got it for everybody else. And, oh, I'm sorry I shouldn't have done that. Please forgive me. And Lord, I was unkind to my wife, please forgive me. I should have been more kind. And then we go on our day, and then I do it again. And then I do it again. Have I repented if I just keep walking in that same sin? [Aaron] No, you've apologized. [Matt] I've apologized, right? [Aaron] You're sorry for being-- [Matt] Because to repent means I used to do that, and now I'm doing this. It means to turn from, that's the definition of the word. And it's such a good word for Christians, all of us, to really wrestle with, and say, you know what, have I really repented and forsaken that sin? Because that's what it means to walk as God would have us as a couple and not to just keep going back, over and over and over again. [Aaron] I think of this quote. I'm not gonna say who said it, but someone in our family used to say, "If you were sorry, you wouldn't have done it." That's kind of the idea; we say sorry over and over and over again. But in reality, our heart hasn't changed. We're just allowing something, whether we're intentionally doing something. We're not intentionally walking in the spirit, so therefore, we're defaulting to walking in the flesh, and we haven't repented of anything. This is something that I had to recognize in my life with certain sin in my life was I was sorry, but usually I was sorry for the shame or the regret or being caught or the remorse I see in your face or the pain I've caused you, Jennifer, but I'd never had been sorry for my sin which is what leads to repentance, and then I change and walk in that. So thanks for bringing that clarity. [Matt] Yeah, absolutely. And so to come full circle on your question, what does it mean to have a marriage that is reflecting the gospel? Well, if you have a marriage that is the kind of marriage that someone else is interested in, then you're not creating this incredible disconnect in the mind of the person that you're sharing the gospel with because what are you inviting them to? If the gospel hasn't affected and hasn't made your marriage beautiful, what are you inviting them to? Here we are married, and we have a bad, bickering, difficult, challenging marriage, and I'm out there telling somebody that Jesus loves them and died for them. It's so critical 'cause as we, and I know you guys have talked about on your podcast and certainly in your book, that your marriage is the gospel you're preaching, that is the gospel you're preaching. And the power of your message will not be one iota stronger or more influential than is the meaning and the love and the strength of your marriage relationship. [Jennifer] That's so good. I hope everyone hits rewind and just listens to that a few times. [Aaron] Yeah, and let's take marriage out of the picture, just in the Christian individual's life. If the gospel's not true in our life, so for me, when I was walking in my addiction to pornography, and I wasn't repentant of it, I thought I was, I was sorry for it; I was sorry for what it did to me, but I wasn't truly repentant of it. I could never tell someone that Christ came to bring freedom, which is what the Bible teaches us, that's the fruit of the gospel. [Matt] There you go. [Aaron] Because I couldn't walk in freedom. Like you said, I'm literally showing them, like, hey, here's God, he's awesome-- [Jennifer] He's powerless. [Aaron] He's powerless. [Jennifer] In my life. [Matt]right. [Aaron] He can't, and this isn't about just all of the sudden everything being healed and perfect and great, but this is definitely the truth of freedom from sin and death, which is what the Bible teaches, which is what Christ came to destroy. He took the power away from it. [Matt] Absolutely. [Aaron] But he doesn't have that in my life. Therefore, you should love God and believe in Jesus, but he can't actually do anything for the core of who you are. He can't change your physical situation or your spiritual situation, but, you know what, he's the thing you should believe in. It just doesn't make any sense. [Matt] No, it doesn't. We just need to remember that even if we're not saying anything, even if we're not on the street corner, preaching the gospel. We're preaching a sermon every time we walk out the door together. We're preaching a sermon. We're literally saying, this is what it means to be a Christian man and a Christian woman. Whether you mean to or not, you're preaching a sermon. The question is, what's the message that you're giving other people? [Jennifer] And how, can you explain, just for those people listening, how are they giving that message to other people? [Matt] It tends to be if you're living in a town and you've got your immediate circle and then you've got your circle of influence, the people you interact with, the people at the bank, the people at the gas station, the people at the grocery store, they know, over the course of time, they know whether you're a Christian or not. It just becomes evident that that is who you are. People probably don't realize it, but as somebody who identifies as a Christian, people watch you a little closer. They tend to want to just scrutinize you a little bit, or when we're at a restaurant. [Lisa] I was gonna say, what I was thinking about was how many times we've been in an airplane, traveling together, in a restaurant together, we have been stopped so many times by people we didn't even realize were watching us, someone who's serving us or the flight attendant, and said, you know, you two are just such a loving couple. And they could just see the way we were just interacting. And so people do notice that. And often times, especially at a restaurant, they'll see that we've prayed, so they also know that we're believers. And we've had a lot of opportunities to share the gospel with those people just even based on their observation of us. [Aaron] Well, it's uncommon. It's uncommon; it's normal to have cold relationships and being on the phones. It's uncommon to see engagement and true infatuation and adoration or-- [Lisa] Yeah, like the last time we were on a flight, we had a flight attendant come to us at the end of the flight, it was a long flight. And she said, "You know, the other flight attendants and I "were all talking about you two." Really? We're not that interesting. [Matt] Well, we were kissing, I mean. We were getting along kissing. [Lisa] That's right; that's right. And they were just observing how we were with each other, and how cute it was and thought we were maybe somewhat newly married. And I'm like, "Oh, no, we've been married 26 years, "and we have eight kids." Like, no way, yeah, really. [Aaron] And you're still in love? [Lisa] Yeah, yeah, it was really astonishing. [Matt] And you mentioned something about praying in a restaurant. And I know a lot of people listening probably do. It's probably less common these days than it has been in the past, but a lot of people still bow their heads and pray in a restaurant. Personally, I love doing that. I love just the witness: I'm a Christian, and I'm gonna give God thanks for this food. So I like doing that. But if you're somebody out there who does that, can I just encourage you to leave a fat, hog tip? Okay, because-- [Lisa] It's like a bonus. [Aaron] It is a bonus. [Matt] Because you've literally hoisted your flag at the table, I'm a Christian, and so, leave a great taste in your waiter's or server's mouth. [Aaron] It's a little sacrifice. [Matt] It's so small, yeah, so small. So small, but it's a good testimony, too. Just to say, you know what, love the Lord, and oh, by the way, God bless you. [Aaron] Going back to the, I think that's a great little bit of advice of how to spread the love of God. Like, hey, we love God and we just wanted to bless you, thank you-- [Matt] And certainly if it's a place that you go back more than once. [Jennifer] Yeah, that's true. [Aaron] Oh yeah! [Matt] You have struck up, well you've created an opportunity to strike up a conversation with the person because they're, well, first of all, they're business people, right? They wanna make money. So they wanna serve you well, and it's just an opportunity, that's all. Just an opportunity, if you're going to pray, then by all means, please don't complain about the food. [Aaron] I was gonna say that actually. There's certain Christiany things that we do, maybe we were raised that way, and we just pray. We're Christians, we love God, we pray. But then, let's say we're bickering at the table, or we are being super rude to the waiters, or our kids are throwing food on the floor and silverware. That is a part of our witness. [Lisa] It is. [Aaron] How we are. And they're like, you did the thing that I thought you were gonna do. They're looking for us to fail. [Jennifer] To fail, right. [Aaron] Doesn't mean we're not gonna fail, but the majority of the time, our hearts should be aware of how we're being, which goes back to that marriage being your ministry. You guys had this awesome, oh, people noticed us, and they stopped us and said thank you. We've had the other side of it. And no one's actually confronted us and saw us fighting, but we've had people message us after the fact. We've mentioned this a few times. And like, "Hey, we saw you in the store. "I didn't stop and say hi, but just wanted to say hi." And they'd message us on Instagram. And then we were like, "Oh my gosh, I think we were, were we fighting?" [Jennifer] This was a long time ago; we've gotten better since then. This was a long time ago. [Aaron] It made us aware, man, like, well, A, we have a social media presence, but it doesn't matter if you do. Like if you're a Christian, there's people that know you. You have friends, you have neighbors, you have, and people that may not know you personally, they're gonna see you regularly in your small town, or big town, I guess, because you frequent the same places. What kind of fragrance as a couple and as Christians do we give in this world where we say one thing and act a different way? That's literally what hypocrisy is. We talk about this, actually, in this chapter. We talk about, we're gonna ask you a question in a second, another question, but it doesn't make any sense if we're trying to minister in other ways, and then in the home, there is no real ministry happening. And so, question for you guys is are marriages being a ministry, and being our first ministry, because it's our first one another, our closest neighbor, we always like to say is our spouse and then our kids and everyone else. Are there marriages that are exempt from this? Well, this husband, he's a minister, and he doesn't actually have time to be focused on his family. Or a wife that's doing this thing over here for God, and she doesn't have time to serve her home and children. Are there marriages that are exempt from this? Why or why not? [Lisa] I don't know that there are exemptions in that sense although Matt might want to address that, but what that's come to mind, I do have many women write me who are in a marriage situation where the spouse is not a believer or at least not walking with God. And I know that that's a greater challenge, and I wouldn't want to put undue burden on that couple, especially the one that's trying to be faithful, and the other is not walking that way. There has to be grace for that, and the one person has to, you know, scripture tells us to keep quiet and just keep shining the light of Christ in their home. But I also wouldn't want to feel like, oh, I can't minister to others now because my spouse is not walking in truth right now. [Matt] And the way I would look at that is the Bible teaches us what is normal and how we are to walk as normal Christians in this world. And when it comes to marriage, what's normal is the way Jesus loves the church, his bride. That's how we're supposed to love our bride. That's normal. And that instruction, love your wife as Christ loved the church, that's not a special instruction for somebody who happens to be in the public eye. That is an instruction for absolutely every Christian man, every man who stands up and says, I follow Lord; I have committed my life to Christ. I have repented of my sin, and I'm a Christian. Every man who has said that should have a wife who says, I'm the most cherished woman I know. And no man is exempt from that. And so, here's the thing, if a church lays claim to being full of godly men, then there's one thing you know for sure, it's full of cherished wives. You cannot have one without the other. You cannot be a godly man and not cherish your wife. And so in that sense, I would say nobody's exempt from this, but, of course, we live in a broken world with lots of relationships and circumstances, and people have struggled. And God has grace for those things. But in those circumstances, the person, whatever they are, wherever they fall on the spectrum, difficult and virtually sad and very challenging to not that bad, wherever they are in the spectrum, their job is to draw near to God and walk as closely to God as he wants them, as he desires them to, and to seek them in those circumstances. But I appreciate you bringing that up because there are lot of people, lots of wives, lots of husbands, a husband called us recently. His wife left, he's got, I think they've got five kids. One of the kids has Down's Syndrome, and the wife's just like, "I'm done." And she left, and he didn't want her to leave, he tried to love her right up through, for several years, up to point where she left. He himself has remained faithful and has a ministry even though she's left, so it's true, it's not that you don't have a ministry. It's just that God provides his standards and principles and requirements for Christian men, for Christian wives, and for marriage. And then sin comes in and everything else is an exception to the rule, but the rule is every man is to cherish his wife in the way Jesus Christ loves the church. [Aaron] So, I do appreciate Lisa that you brought that up, too, because I'm sure that we have people that listen, and one of the spouses is not walking, is not a believer, and we get, praise God, he gives provision for this in his word, in 1 Peter, he shows, it's funny because it's to the wife, it's almost like he knew that men were gonna be more prone to this, not being faithful, which is sad, but it's true. But even then I think, you're right, that it doesn't mean they can't have ministry outside of the home because their marriage isn't in order correctly faith wise, but that doesn't mean that their first ministry still isn't their spouse. Like you said, they still have a call, the wife or the husband, to serve and love their spouse the way the Bible has called them to, faithfully, whether they receive it or not, of course. And that's also, I don't wanna say qualifies, I don't know if that's the right word, but, it still prepares them to do ministry outside their home because it's in order. Instead of, I'm not going to love my husband or my wife like this because they're treating me this way, but I am gonna go love over here, that's not gonna produce the kind of fruit that God's looking for. But I did appreciate that. I think it's totally relevant to recognize that there are these non-ideal marriages. [Matt] You know, and one of the things that might be important to mention here is wherever you are on the spectrum: you have a spectacular marriage all the way to it's terrible. We tend to fall into this wrong thought process that goes something like this: you're walking in sin; therefore, I can't help being the way I am. [Lisa] Oh, now, that's a good point. [Matt] And the fact of the matter is is the way you act has nothing to do with my capacity as a believer to walk in holiness. [Lisa] Right, no that's-- [Matt] And we kinda cut ourselves a little slack there, don't we? 'Cause if you're a certain way, well then that gives me license to be another way in response-- [Aaron] Yeah, if you only respected me, I would treat you or love you as Christ loves the church. [Matt] That's right, and every one of us has the capacity according to the word of God to walk in holiness, irrespective of how our spouse is walking. Now we certainly make it easier, right? If we're walking in holiness for the other person. But, we can't blame our distance from God on how someone else has chosen to act. [Aaron] Amen. [Jennifer] Taking a look into your guys' marriage. You know, you've been married quite a while. So go back to the beginning. Was there a learning curve in your guys' relationship on how to love and respect each other and cherish each other in that? [Matt] OH, absolutely. I was the most loving husband in the world. The only problem-- [Aaron] That's a real laugh, by the way. [Matt] The only-- [Lisa] Revisionist history, I think that's what it's-- [Matt] The only problem with it is I was loving Lisa in the way that said love to me. [Lisa] Oh, that's true. [Matt] We'd like to tell the story, in fact, we tell it on our own podcast. We just have this crazy story where I literally am superman husband, okay? I am helping out with everything. [Lisa] It's our first year of marriage. [Matt] First year of marriage. I am helping out with everything. I am helping with, not the laundry, you wouldn't let me touch the laundry 'cause she said, nope, that's mine; I will do the laundry. Everything else, the vacuuming, folding the laundry. [Lisa] Cleaning the bathrooms. [Matt] Cleaning the bathrooms, everything else, the dishes, everything, I'm helping, I'm helping. I'm doing it all, and I'm thinking-- [Lisa] And I'm getting madder and madder and-- [Matt] And she's over in the kitchen. And there's the flames, you know, the ones coming out of her eyes, are visible from across the room, and I-- [Aaron] Although I have never seen Lisa angry before, so I couldn't-- [Lisa] Oh, I'm capable. [Matt] And I thought, what is wrong with this woman? You can't find five guys in the entire state of Oregon that do the things that I do with a willing heart, and I'm trying to bless you, you're just, there's nothing that will make you happy. You can't be blessed; I don't know what your problem is. And so, she just takes the towel, and she almost busts a dish on me as she sets the plate down on the counter. And then she takes the towel and throws it on the counter. [Lisa] Thank you. [Matt] And I'm going, what in the world. She turns to me, and she goes, "I just don't know why you don't love me." [Lisa] True story. [Aaron] What's happening? [Matt] And I'm going, okay, am I losing my mind here? And I'm going, you've gotta be kid, you've literally got to be kidding me. [Lisa] So my thinking is I can vacuum, I can clean the bathrooms, anybody can do that. But there's only one guy in my life that can take me out and spend some time with me and listen to my thoughts. [Aaron] Look in my eyes-- [Lisa] Yes! [Aaron] And talk to me. [Lisa] And so he could just feel my frustration over time. So, the more frustrated he would feel-- [Matt] I would try harder. [Lisa] The more he'd vacuum. [Matt] I'd do more! [Lisa] And I'm just like, put the stupid vacuum down. I just want to spend time with yo. [Matt] So I'm going, wow, that's easy. [Lisa] Yeah. [Matt] Who knew love was that easy? So in our case, it was just me taking the initiative to say, okay, we're gonna go out at such-and-such a day, and it didn't matter what it was. We'd go for a walk; we could go have a cup of coffee. And I mean, at any time you as a husband tell your wife, "Hey, I just wanna spend some time with you." You can turn one cup of coffee into an awesome date. You really can. [Lisa] It doesn't take much. [Matt] It doesn't take much. You talk about learning curve, absolutely we had to learn each other and what was important to you and what was important to me and this is so true in absolutely every area of marriage. For instance, we've given you the for instance in terms of the learning curve, but in terms of discovering what it is your spouse is interested in, what they like, what's important to them. There's a very, very interesting way of finding out. [Aaron] You ask. [Matt] You ask a question! Yeah, yeah, and it's such a great thing to do because you know what happens when I turn to you and I ask you a question about you. [Lisa] Yeah. [Matt] Who doesn't like talking about themselves? Who doesn't like being known and explored and discovered. Who doesn't like someone being interested in them. So that's what we do when we turn to our spouse and say, okay, I wanna ask you a question. I wanna ask you what are three things that I can do that would make you feel loved? So that's just the normal stuff of marriage. But you know what? And you can even take it right into the subject of sex. And you can say, what are things that you enjoy when we come together physically? What are some of those things? Because, you know what, we tend to love the other person with the things that we want. [Lisa] I think that sometimes people boil this down to love languages, which is interesting and helpful. But what we're talking about is so much more than a love language, for one thing, those things change over time. It depends when the season when we had four kids, five and under, the vacuum really helped a lot, and I had a, not that I still didn't want to go out, [Aaron] Right, in that season, that was much more loving. [Lisa] Yeah, it was loving; it did mean a lot. [Matt] And physical touch when we had five kids. What would the age's spread have been with our five kids? [Lisa] Yeah, six and under. [Matt] Five kids six and under. Physical touch was less important to her in those years. [Lisa] Imagine that. [Matt] You know? She's got kids. You got enough of that. [Jennifer] Her tank is full. [Matt] Yeah, I'm touching 24/7, exactly. Right, so it does change over time. [Lisa] So instead of thinking of it as big subjects of love language, think of it as who you are as a person and where are you at today, where are you at in this season, where are you at in your life right now. And that involves that continual seeking and pursuing and asking. [Jennifer] So continual even after 26 years. Like you guys are still asking? [Matt] Absolutely. [Aaron] You have gotten there yet? [Matt] Absolutely. [Aaron] You haven't gotten to the-- [Matt] No, we're seeking each other all the time. And you know what? [Jennifer] And it's fun, right? [Lisa] It is. [Matt] It is fun, absolutely fun. And the thing is, if you love the other person, it's not a burden to do it. You actually want to know where they're at. You wanna know where their heart is at. [Lisa] And I think it can even be in somewhat negative things like say, I notice something triggers Matt into a bad mood or just like a dark, you know. And it used to be, when we were younger, that would just like, oh, fine, if you're gonna be in a bad mood, then I'll just stay away from you. I'm not saying those things, but that was my basic attitude. And I feel like over the years, now, let's say something like that happens, which it does, then I can say, I noticed, like something happened, you know, we had a good start today, and then something kind of went sideways. You wanna tell me about that? Did something happen or did I say something? Not in a defensive way, but just really, we've had some really good conversations about that. He'd go, "You know, I wasn't aware of that." Sometimes even going back to your childhood. As a child, my mom treated me a certain way, so now whenever I hear this phrase, it takes me back to a time when I didn't feel cared for. [Aaron] Yeah. [Lisa] And you're thinking, oh, well, I didn't mean to [Aaron] I know how it feels. [Lisa] communicate that I didn't care for you. But I can see that that would translate to that. And now I know, and I can be more mindful of that. [Aaron] And lovingly. Just the loving hey, is everything okay? Not because you're bothered by it. [Lisa] Yes. [Aaron] But because you're concerned for it. [Lisa] Yes. [Aaron] Which then, I'm sure, Matt, you would experience. There's been times that I don't even know why I'm brooding. It just takes a moment to be checked on it. And then I'm like, oh, I actually don't know why I'm brooding right now; I actually do feel irritated. I don't know why. Which it totally could be a hormonal thing, it could be a something I ate, and maybe there's something spiritual going on that we need to be praying through, but that approach of not taking it personally because we do that. Why are you doing this around me? I was in a great mood, now you just brought me down. But rather, helper, but for each, an actual concern. Hey, is everything alright? That was a really good bit of advice. I think everyone listening is gonna be loving these tips because this is 26 years of you guys learning this. We're only 12 in, what is that? We're not even half. [Matt] It'll go quick; it'll go quick. [Aaron] We are halfway to the kids, though. [Matt] Oh, that's right. [Lisa] Yeah. [Matt] And you got started earlier than we did. [Aaron] We got started earlier, so we might bypass you So you guys'll [Matt] Outpace us, yeah, that's right. But then there's adoption, we can stay ahead of 'em. [Aaron] It's true, that's true. So I'm loving these tips. And it all plays back into this. Right now, you're talking about how you guys minister to each other. Loving each other, cultivating intimacy, the communication, the strong bond which allows us, then, it frees us to be more able to minister outside the home. Not that it can't happen, but when you guys are so connected, so close, there's more freedom, and less internal turmoil. [Matt] I might even say it a little differently. I would say what it does is it authenticates the message. [Aaron] That's perfect. [Matt] And you know, we see this principle, well not just principle, we see this exact teaching in the high priestly prayer that Jesus prays in John 17 where he's saying, their unity, let them be one as we are one, Jesus is praying. Let them, his followers, those who come to Christ, who come to a repentance and become the children of God. Let them be one as we are one that the world might believe that you have sent me. The unity that we have, the oneness that we have is the authentication of the message of Christ that he came from the Father. And so, that's so true in the church as a whole, and it's absolutely true in marriage. When we're walking in love, when we're walking in unity, when we're exuding that, where we go through life, it authenticates the message when we do speak the truth of the gospel to someone. [Lisa] And not just out there, but in our own homes, to our kids. [Matt] Oh, that's just so true. [Lisa] When your kids are little, you can kinda get away with it, or at least you think you are. [Aaron] We think we think we are. [Lisa] Believe me, as they get older, they'll tell the world what it's really like at home. They'll tell their friends. [Matt] They do. [Lisa] I'm just saying because it's reality. And the opposite is true, too, that if you are loving each other, it's a witness to them, it's an encouragement to them. Our kids all want to get married. They want to have that kind of marriage. And that's a huge blessing. One of the things that we recently asked one of our older daughters, who's in her twenties. I think it was a Father's Day thing. What do you like most about your dad? She said that, "He loves Mom so well." And it was such a beautiful testimony that yeah, they're watching, they know whether you have loved each other in those quiet moments. [Aaron] Well, when you think about it, almost everyone probably listening, when they look back and they think about their home and how they were raised, I'm sure a lot of them, being raised in Christian homes or not, maybe heard the Bible, but did they see it? Did they see the Bible; did they see the gospel? They don't remember what they ate. They don't remember all the places they've been. But they definitely remember how Mom and Dad were together. They definitely remember how Mom and Dad treated them. And that's where the ministry in our home comes in. 'Cause I've told Jennifer this. I said, Jennifer, all of these things that we have, Unveiled Wife, Husband Revolution, our podcast. I said all of that means absolutely nothing if my kids don't know the Lord. And so, not just our ministry to each other that we have a healthy marriage and that we're godly, and that we love each other and respect each other and honor each other and cherish each other and serve each other, but that my kids see it. And that they recognize what we're doing and why we're doing it, and that at the end of the day, they look back and they say thank you to us, not because of us alone, but because we were obedient. I want my kids to say that. I want my kids to say, "Mom and Dad loved each other. "I just know it; they loved me, and they showed me "who God was and they lived it every day. "They didn't just use their words." As James says, don't just be hearers only, but doers of the word. Are we just listening and not doing? Are we just telling and doing the opposite? The do what I say, not what I do? [Lisa] Right, right. [Matt] Do what I say, not what I do. It works every time, just not the way the parent thought it was going to work. [Aaron] Exactly and so I just, going back to that, that's what I want everyone listening to understand. The main purpose of this chapter in the book, is, and it's early on in the book, it's chapter five, and it's setting this idea of we could want to do lots of things for God, but God wants us to do what he's told us to do. And if we can't be faithful with the little thing, and the little thing is our children, our spouse, our home, this is a little picture of the world. If I can't minister to my wife and love her as Christ loves the church, I have no right going and loving a stranger like that. I could. [Matt] I think what we do is we tend to think like, I know what you're saying, as this is the little thing, so to do the big thing. I actually think that reality is kind of on its head. [Aaron] Okay. [Matt] I think the big thing we're doing is we're being faithful with our spouses, we're being faithful in discipling our children. And it's a great, big deal, and see-- [Aaron] Man, I heard that, yeah. [Matt] If the church had been teaching and focusing on that these past, what, I dunno, however many years. [Aaron] 60 or 70 years. [Matt] Would the church be in the state that it's in today with disintegrating families and churches filled with unfulfilled marriages and disappointments and divorce and all of those things. It's a great big deal. And if we're faithful here, God can entrust with ministry elsewhere. [Jennifer] In chapter 14 of the book, we talk about how what God sees as extraordinary is so different than what the world deems extraordinary. When we look at our own lives, it is that day-to-day, all those little choices of discipling our children, being faithful to one another, that is extraordinary because that is where God is working. [Aaron] Especially today, it's normal, you brought up the word normal, it's common, that's what it is, it's common in the world for there to be divorce and unfaithfulness and children who are rebellious and hate their parents. It is extraordinary and remarkable now even though it should be normal for a marriage to have love in it. [Matt] Well, that's just it. [Aaron] The gospel. [Matt] It is normal, biblical marriage to have a loving, close, wonderful, fulfilling, enjoyable, beautiful oneness in marriage. That is normal Christianity; that's normal marriage. The problem is, is we see what's common around us in the world, and we get used to what's common, and start thinking that that's normal, but it's not. If you have a biblical perspective, if you walk God's way, and your marriage reflects God's priorities and principles, then you're gonna have an awesome, wonderful, beautiful, loving, enjoyable marriage because that's what a normal Christian marriage really is. [Jennifer] And the power of God's testimony in your life is actually powerful. [Matt] Absolutely, right, exactly. [Aaron] Well, people can't argue with it. I mean, they can argue with anything. We were just talking about this. When you're around people that are walking a certain way, makes it easier to believe that you can too. That goes both ways. So when you see someone, and you're like man they're, like the stewardesses looking at you. They don't your whole story, but they know the story they just saw. You're not faking it when you're sitting in the aisle, whatever row you're in and like, oh we want everyone to see that we're perfect. We have this smile on because you can't fake it. [Matt] Yeah. [Aaron] Everyone fakes it, and no one falls for it. Like, oh-- [Jennifer] Maybe for a short flight, but not long one like you said. [Aaron] Yeah, the short flight's, but yeah. [Matt] That's right. [Aaron] And again, we keep going back to this. God's not interested in just us having a happy marriage and a healthy marriage. [Matt] No. [Aaron] For the sake of happy and healthy marriage. That's not an end game. [Matt] That's exactly right. [Aaron] It's the means to the end, like you said. It's what, what was the word you used? It verifies, no-- [Matt] Authenticates. [Aaron] It authenticates. [Matt] Yeah. [Aaron] What's sad and still is very powerful to realize is when we're not it doesn't make God the liar. It makes us the liar. [Matt] It reminds me or brings to mind that phrase. Having a form of godliness, but denying the power. 'Cause you look at it from a galloping horse at 100 yards, and it looks like Christianity. It looks like something that's related to God and related to the Bible. But then you get close and you see, well, no, actually. It's not real; it's not true, and that's when we see the disintegration in the next generation when the kids are like, I don't want any part of that. Again, you just can't hide that. And especially, you mentioned, Lisa, you said, yeah, you can't hide it, your kids will absolutely tell the story and we know of a family. The snapshot looks amazing, and nobody would know this, but their kids told us recently, oh yeah, our parents yell all the time. And you'd never know it, but the kids know it. And the kids are now talking; they're all older now. And now they're saying, oh, no, no, no, no. Parents yell all the time. So that's why it's gotta be true there because if you're out witnessing, if you're that parents, and it could be yelling or bickering or fighting or cheating on your taxes or any number of things, but if you're that parent, and in the gas stations, you're telling a guy, oh, hey, the Lord Jesus Christ died for you, and God loves you, and he wants you to have a relationship. The kid is sitting there going, "Are you kidding me?" it's so important that for the things that we say to be true about how we live. It's called not being a hypocrite, and your kids can figure it out at a very early age. [Aaron] All of this was so good. I'm encouraged; it makes me think about my marriage even though we're constantly working on it, I just think, man, I wanna-- Makes me think [Jennifer] Of the kids. [Aaron] Yeah, I wanna pursue you more. I want to constantly be doing that for the sake of our outward ministry and for the sake of our home, so thank you for these stories, the openness with us. We're gonna ask you our question that we're asking everyone. What is your definition of a marriage after God? [Lisa] I think that it's that ever growing a deeper love for each other. And it doesn't have to be perfect. I think sometimes we just go, well, it's perfect, so we throw our hands, or it's not perfect, so we throw our hands up. Instead of thinking, no, I'm gonna move forward in this. And I'm gonna grow in these areas. I can even think of things I have struggled with. Believe it or not, I do have a temper. And Matt has the ability, somehow, to press that button better than anybody else I know. [Matt] Well, I mean, just on a boring Saturday. I mean if there's nothing else to do. [Lisa] Press my buttons. So I'll find myself reacting to him, and I will stop myself literally mid-sentence and go, wait, it's like, yep, like okay. [Aaron] That's a good-- [Lisa] What I wanted say was. I didn't quite the first two seconds or minutes, however the situation was, wasn't right. But checking myself and going, okay, but that's not who I wanna be. That's how I was, but that's not who I wanna be anymore, so I wanna try again. And giving each other that grace to grow, but being determined to change and not say, this is not who I wanna be; I do want us to be loving close. [Matt] And for me, I think I would boil it down. I mean, that's a huge subject, right? And there's so many facets to it. But I would boil it down to this. The fundamental understanding that my marriage is what God is doing in the world. It's not what I'm doing in the world. It's not the thing that I have; I have a marriage. My marriage is what God is doing in the world. The Bible says what God has put together let no man put asunder. This is something God is doing, and so if you have that basic, fundamental faith about this relationship, it's a foundation and a starting point for moving forward. [Jennifer] Thank you guys so much for joining us today. This has just been, like Aaron said, incredible and inspiring. If people were inspired today and they want to follow you more, can you just remind them where they can find you? [Lisa] We have a podcast, Faithful Life. And we'd love to have you join us over there. And we also, both of us have a website. Matt has, and I have [Matt] And then you're also on Instagram, club31women and faithfulman, on Instagram, so you can find us there as well. [Aaron] Everyone listening, definitely go follow them, they are golden. [Jennifer] If you like Marriage after God, and you like what we share, you're definitely gonna like them. [Aaron] We actually just steal all of our content from them and repurpose them. They have been integral in the growth and maturity in our life. And so, we appreciate you guys. [Jennifer] Thank you. [Aaron] And we thank you for not only sharing with our audience now, but for sharing with us over the last five years. [Lisa And Matt] We love you guys. [Aaron] That we've known you guys. So, we're gonna close out with a prayer. Jennifer's gonna pray and then, yeah. [Jennifer] Dear Lord, thank you for creating marriage with such a significant purpose of revealing to the world your divine love. Please help us to make choices that reflect your love in the way we love one another. May we choose to walk in obedience. Thank you for your word which instructs us and shows us how we should walk in obedience. Please continue to give us wisdom and strength as we choose to walk in the spirit and not our flesh. We pray we would make our marriage a priority. We pray we would gain deeper understanding of how our marriage is our first ministry, and the impact we have in each other's lives and in this world just by remaining faithful to your word. If our priorities are ever out of order, or if we are not unified, please help us to change our course. Constantly direct our hearts to align with yours. May our marriage always be in a place where you can use us as a symbol to point other to you, and may you be glorified. In Jesus' name, amen. [Aaron] Amen. [Matt] Amen. [Aaron] So, thank you all for listening today. I hope this blessed you guys. And as always, we want you guys to have a conversation about this. Go on a date, and discuss the things that we talked about today. We have, what is it, 11 more episodes in this series. 11 more interviews to come. They're gonna be awesome; please stay tuned. We look forward to having you next week. Did you enjoy today's show? If you did, it would mean the world to us if you could leave a review on iTunes. Also, if you're interested, you can find many more encouraging stories and resources at, and let us help you cultivate an extraordinary marriage.

 MAG 04 - Our Relationship With The Bible w/ Jerrad and Leila Lopes From Dadtired | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 00:41:44

Order our new book today! Marriage After God: Chasing Boldly After God’s Purpose for Your Life Together In this episode, we chat with Jerrad lopes and his wife about the place that the word of God should have in our life and marriage. A quote from Chapter 4 of Marriage After God “A marriage after God is one that is eager to allow the Word of God to transform them by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Dear Lord, Thank you for your word! It is living and it is active, sharper than any 2 edged sword. Lord, you created everything by your word, and faith comes by hearing your word. You tell us that man cannot live by bread alone but by every word that comes out of your mouth. We pray that as husbands and wives who love you and are chasing after you, that we would be men and women of your word. That we would make it a priority in our lives. That we would read it and meditate on it. That it would be our sustenance. That we would allow ourselves to be transformed by it and renewed by it. May our marriages be transformed by it. We pray that our lives would represent what your word says. We pray that we would take the sword of the spirit which is your word and use it to fight against the schemes of the devil. Lord, your word is good and gift for everyone. May we read it, may we know it, and may we live it out daily. In Jesus’ name, amen! READ: [Aaron] Hey! We're Aaron and Jennifer Smith with Marriage After God. [Jennifer] Helping you cultivate an extraordinary marriage. [Aaron] And today we're in part four of the Marriage After God series and we're going to be talking with Jerrad and Laila Lopes about our relationship with the Bible. [Aaron] Welcome to the Marriage After God podcast, where we believe that marriage was meant for more than just happily ever after. [Jennifer] I'm Jennifer, also known as Unveiled Wife. [Aaron] And I'm Aaron, also known as Husband Revolution. [Jennifer] We have been married for over a decade. [Aaron] And so far, we have four young children. [Jennifer] We have been doing marriage ministry online for over seven years through blogging and social media. [Aaron] With the desire to inspire couples to keep God at the center of their marriage, encouraging them to walk in faith everyday. [Jennifer] We believe that Christian marriage should be an extraordinary one, full of life [Aaron] love [Jennifer] and power [Aaron] That can only be found by choosing after God. [Jennifer] Together. [Aaron] Thank you for joining us on this journey as we chase boldly after God's will for our life together. [Jennifer] This is Marriage After God. [Jennifer] Thank you guys so much for joining us today. We just want to take a moment and ask you to leave a review for the Marriage After God podcast. So if you've been encouraged by this podcast, if you want to support this podcast, that's just one great way that Aaron and I would love to invite you to do that. It's really quick. You just scroll down to the bottom of the app, leave a star-rating review or a comment review and we really appreciate that. [Aaron] And then the reason we're doing this 16 part series with all these interviews is because we're launching our book "Marriage After God" and we're excited to get it in your hands. And so if you want to take a moment and go to, either now or after the podcast, and pick up your copy of our new book. Jennifer and I wrote it. We wrote it for you and it's to encourage your marriage to chase boldly after Christ's plan and mission for your marriage. And so that's what this podcast is about and we're gonna be talking about Chapter 4 today with Jerrad and Laila Lopes. Welcome to the show guys. [Laila] Hello, thank you. [Aaron] We're so happy to have you guys. We've known you guys for quite a while now. How many years actually? [Jerrad] Uh [Laila] Probably three? [Aaron] Three years? [Jerrad] I think [Jennifer] Four? [Jerrad] Yeah, like three years now. [Aaron] We've met you guys once in person. We've been doing You guys have been doing the podcast thing way longer than us. Jerrad, you're from DadTired, the podcast and the website. [Jerrad] Yup. [Aaron] And so, you guys have helped us on our journey of podcasting and just, it's been awesome knowing you guys and so we're excited to interview you both. So before we get into the ice breaker question and the interview questions, why don't you just let us know who you are, what you guys do, children, marriage, all that. [Jerrad] Yeah, well first of all, super excited to be here. We are obviously big fans of you guys and what you guys are doing to help encourage marriages. So really really honored to be here. Laila and I have been married for nine years this last week. [Jennifer] Awesome, congratulations! [Laila] January 2019, it's nine years. [Jerrad] Thank you. So nine years. We have three little ones as we're building our team. We have a seven year old son named Elijah, a five year old girl named Eden, and a brand new baby girl named Ella. [Laila] Two months old. [Aaron] Congratulations. [Jennifer] Awesome. [Laila] Thank you. [Jennifer] I love that you said building your team. [Jerrad] Yeah, yeah. So we're super excited about it. We thought we were done with two but once we decided we're not, like, we're just like, [Jennifer] How many more can we have? [Jerrad] Yeah, let's just keep having lots of babies. [Aaron] You know, God's good like that. Just changes our hearts. [Jerrad] Yeah, yup, yup. Yeah so, we totally see children as a blessing and we're excited to keep the legacy moving on and the kingdom advancing through our family. So anyway, that's our family. I run a ministry called DadTired and Laila is a nurse, an oncology nurse at the hospital. [Aaron] Awesome. Well we are so excited to have you guys and we always have an ice breaker question and this is just a fun way to get our listeners to get to you know you guys, to get to know us, but the question is for you guys. If you could have a second honeymoon, what would it be? [Jerrad] Do you have an answer to that, babe? [Laila] Um, I actually quite liked our honeymoon. We went to Maui. I had never been to any of the Hawaiian islands and I really enjoyed that. I would probably re-do our wedding if we could do that. [Aaron] You can, can't you? [Laila] I'd take a second chance at that. [Jerrad] Our wedding was terrible. It was so bad. [Laila] It wasn't so bad. [Jerrad] I didn't like it at all. [Laila] Jerrad didn't like it. [Aaron] You like your marriage though, right? [Laila] Yeah, our marriage is good. The wedding was not us, that's all. [Jennifer] I always think that [Jarred] The thing is, Laila, Sorry to interrupt you, go ahead. [Jennifer] I was just gonna say, I always think back to our wedding too and I think, well, Pinterest didn't really exist back then. So I think I would want to re-do it just for the sake of having my Pinterest board setup. [Aaron] Yeah, that's the problem. We didn't do know marriages, weddings looked like because we didn't have Pinterest, so. Well, we like. Laila and I met and then four months later were engaged [Jennifer] Wow. [Aaron] Nice. [Jarred] and six months after that were married and we didn't have a style yet. You know? We just didn't know each other very well, which is crazy to think about. And our friends didn't know each other that well yet and it really is a testament to God's grace and His hand on us, protecting us, because we really were still getting to know each other in so many ways. So anyway, now that we've obviously been in this for like a decade, we are like, alright, we would re-do it and invite more people or maybe different people. [Laila] It's just the style. It just wasn't really our, well we didn't have a style. We didn't have a "us" established yet because we were so, we had just met nine months prior to our wedding, but. [Jennifer] What about the honeymoon though? Would you do something different? [Jerrad] I'm geeking out on Southeast Asia right now, so I would do like two weeks in Vietnam, Thailand. [Jennifer] Aaron would love that. [Aaron] Yeah, I think we've known some people that have done that. And you could do the whole thing for like 500 bucks. [Jerrad] I know, I know. [Laila] It's a lot cheaper than Maui. [Aaron] Awesome. So Jennifer, why don't you give the quote from our chapter, this chapter, in the book and then we'll get into the topic. [Jennifer] So this is from chapter 4 of Marriage After God and it's titled, "Your Relationship with the Bible". It says, "A marriage after God is one that is eager to allow the word of God to transform them by the power of the Holy Spirit." [Jerrad] Nice. [Aaron] And so, this whole topic in this chapter is just, without the Bible, without our foundation there, without our hearts and minds in that thing, the very word of God, we won't know what we're supposed to be doing. We won't know how to know God and so we just wanted to talk with you guys today about our relationship as Christians with the Bible. And so, [Jennifer] Specifically your relationship with the Bible. [Aaron] Yeah, your relationship and then our prayer and hope is that the listeners would get inspired, would be encouraged, would be reminded of the importance and the vital place that the Bible has in our lives. That it is our faith, which is the word of God. So, you know, we'll just jump right in. So here is the first question. What is your current relationship with the Bible? And I know that's kind of a big question, but I just want to know, where does the Bible land in your life, as a married couple, as Christians, right now? [Laila] That's a good question. For me, it's been a bit of a journey. I didn't grow up a Christian at all. So I was really unfamiliar with it for the first 21 years of my life, actually. But after becoming a Christian, I was really in awe of the gospel and Jesus and that God loves me, as I had heard it, like, preached on Sundays. But I still, I actually wasn't interested in the Bible for a long time. My view of it was that it was, maybe just a collection of old stories or something. It just seemed really irrelevant. But now as a more mature Christian, I understand that it's actually, you know, as it says, the inspired word of God. Which I think makes it rather important. So I placed a much higher importance on reading it, learning it, and knowing what God's word says about himself specifically. [Jerrad] Yeah, and I would say for me, I grew up kind of opposite of Laila. I grew up going to church from the time I was just a young kid and so I remember learning the stories of God even as a child. But I think it wasn't until maybe, I don't know, seven, eight years ago where I started to realize, as you read the scriptures, that this isn't just a random book of stories but that there's actually a woven story in all of it of God redeeming everything back to himself and it's really this beautiful grand story and it became much more beautiful to me that this wasn't just like some stories where God was trying to get us to be more moral, behave better, but that He was actually telling a story about Himself and His relationship with His creation. So yeah, I think that's where we are now. [Jennifer] Awesome. So for everyone listening, just to encourage them, I like practical. I like to know what everybody else's routines look like so that I can look at my life and go, okay, what can I maximize here or there or do better. So what is digging into the word on a daily basis look like for you guys right now? What is, do you have some routines put in place? [Jerrad] Yeah. [Laila] Yeah we do. It's about to change a bit for me. I still work. I work two or three days a week usually and I commute about 45 minutes to an hour each way. So I use that time, just as a practical way to get into the Bible, I listen to it through some audible app or the Bible on audio and that's been really helpful. It's just a quiet time. You know, we have three kids including an infant. So there's not a lot of quiet time around here. But for me that's been really a helpful and practical way is just in my commute. [Aaron] That's a great tip. [Jerrad] Yeah, we use that. So last year we read through the Bible together from Genesis to Revelation and then we can kind of get into what that looked like practically if you think that that would be helpful. But this year, we are going through just the New Testament in a year and then next year we'll do the Old Testament in a year and then we'll cycle back through the whole Bible in a year. [Jennifer] I love that you guys are already looking ahead. Like, these are what our years look like. I just think that's so awesome. [Aaron] Yeah, and being prepared like that and having a plan, it does make it easier because you know where you guys are at and the whole family being on the same page makes it easier rather than, like well what am I gonna read today. You all know. You're like oh we're reading, you know, we're in John right now [Jennifer] Right. and we're on the same chapter and we're gonna talk about that later. [Jennifer] So could you guys share a little bit about that? Reading together as a couple. Not only how and when but how it makes you feel? [Jerrad] Yeah, I think, for us, like last year, when we read the Bible together front to back, we started out with really grand plans of sitting down and having an hour together a day and reading through the Bible together as a couple and with the family and journaling, and that just wasn't practical. It didn't work out that way. And so, we didn't want to give up on it. So we said, why don't we just keep doing this on our own as much as, like everyday we'll just read what the plan tells us to read, and then as many as times as we can do this together as husband and wife, let's do that. As many times as we can do it together as a family, let's do that. But we just didn't want to get behind and we wanted to be realistic with it. [Laila] If it came down to, should we just skip today because we can't read together, we didn't want to do that. So we just thought, you know, if we need to, we can still just make sure that we ourselves personally are filling up and then, as able, we'll get together. We did try and prioritize that, to read it together as a couple because it was really fun to see what stuck out to Jerrad and I think he enjoyed hearing what things stuck out to me. 'Cause sometimes it was different, sometimes it was exactly the same. But yeah, if it comes down to don't read at all because we're not reading it together or just get what we can when we can, then we just did it separately. [Jerrad] And the other thing is, so I travel a lot too for work and for speaking and stuff. So like [Laila] Yeah. [Jerrad] It was cool. And Laila works a few days a week. So it was cool to even know we were still reading the same thing. So even when I was on the road, we would still be doing phone calls and being like, what did you think of that passage today, what stuck out to you, or can you believe Paul said this, that was super convicting, you know? We were talking about it really organically all throughout the week and the year. [Jennifer] That's so cool. So I don't know if people are like me in this. But you guys talked about setting this goal of what you wanted it to look like and be like and then quickly realize that it wasn't practical and that you had to change things up or even go with the flow almost. And I know I have struggled with this in the past and really when it comes to anything in my relationship with Aaron, but you set these goals and when they don't happen like you want them too, I'm saying, I'm saying it as if it's not happening to me. But what I mean is I would get defeated or I would feel down and not want to move forward because it's not happening like I want it to. [Aaron] Yeah, like you failed. [Jennifer] Yeah, like I failed and so I think that this is just really encouraging to hear from you guys and to be reminded that goals are good and having expectations are okay as long as when you come up against them and things aren't working that people can still move forward and just change how it's being done. [Aaron] Yeah, so shift it quickly rather than just give up. [Jennifer] Exactly. [Laila] I would credit Jerrad for that because I am a bit like that if we've set a goal to read it together every day and now it's been two or three days and we haven't read it together then let's just quit, we'll start over next year and try again. But Jerrad's like, no it's okay. You have something you say about setting goals that I can't remember. [Aaron] What's that really good phrase you always say? [Laila] What's that good thing you say that is really helpful sometimes? [Jerrad] I have no idea. But what I do know is, as Christians, man, we can just get so caught up in being really rigorous and disciplined and we have to have our morning quiet time and we shame ourselves if we don't. But the point isn't that we read everyday as much as the point is that are we getting do know God, right? And that's like. Life happens. You might skip a day. You might like whatever. And obviously, it's cool to be disciplined and it's important. But even more important is are we getting to know God. [Aaron] Yeah. [Jerrad] If that ends up being a chapter a day, or a verse a day, or six chapters a day, whatever. Let's not forget what we're trying to do here and that's to get to know the God of ours. [Aaron] Yeah, I was gonna, this transitioned perfectly in what I was gonna bring up. Being marriages after God and chasing boldly after what He has for us and that He would use our marriages and knowing His word is the beginning of that because in knowing His word is knowing Him and what He wants, where He's going, what He loves, what He hates. And so I just wanted to ask you guys, because a lot of Christians could be listening to this and be like, okay they're talking about reading the Bible, everyone always talks about reading the Bible. Yeah it's important. I gotta read the Bible. I gotta pray. Those are the, quote on quote, Christian things to do. But it's so much more than that. It's not just, like you said, here's your reading plan because, to be honest, you could monotonously go through the Bible and not get anything out of it. But why? Why is it vital that the believer, that Christians, that marriages are in the word of God. What is that doing for us? Why is God desire us to know His word? [Jerrad] Yeah, so at the heart of it is it's bigger than just, I think what you said is so true, that as Christians we feel like, man I know I should be praying more. I know I should be reading the Bible more. I know I should be tithing more and whatever. It's these disciplines that we kind of get on ourselves about. But at the heart of it is we are all susceptible to making up our own Gods in our own minds. We don't drift towards good theology. We drift away from it. We drift towards selfishness and so often times, what happens is, we end up making our God look like us and he ends up liking the things that we like and he can tolerate the sins that we tolerate and he's not, he loves the people we love and he hates the people that we're mad at, right? He ends up looking a lot like us. And so scripture confronts us, right? II Timothy 3:16, it's useful for rebuking and correcting and training in righteousness. When we read scripture, we realize quickly God is his own person. He has his own personality. He is who he is. He is Yahweh God. And so we are trying to, if we don't learn who that God is, we will drift towards making up an own God in our mind and that is a really really dangerous place to be as a Christian. [Aaron] So we dig into the word. We learn, and I love what you said because we do make up our own gods. When we just, and this is where a lot of Christians are today and I pray that my listeners aren't there. But if they are, I pray that this snaps them out of it and says, oh we need to find out who God is, not who we think God is. But knowing who God is, what does that do to the Christian? What does that do in our lives when we're like, oh. Laila, you mentioned that you met the love of God and you're like, He loves me. And at first you weren't like, and you heard that from the pulpit. You heard that from pastors and from church. But you weren't interested in the word of God and then all of a sudden you were like, wait a minute. The word of God is who God is. You know? [Laila] Right, exactly. Well I think if I would have just stuck with what this pastor had said to me or what the Christians are saying to me then I would also be pretty susceptible to also listening to maybe what other people were telling me. Untruths and lies. And so I think having first been drawn in by hearing God's word spoken, then able to really ground myself in knowing who God is because of who God says He is and Jesus is and I wouldn't know that if it weren't for the scriptures and like I said, I would just be so easily swayed to believe who knows what if I would have just kept to what people tell me about God instead of what God tells me about God. [Jennifer] Now when you do hear people tell you things about God you can test those things because you know His word. [Laila] Exactly. [Jerrad] Christians say all kinds of really crazy things, especially on social media. Like God told me this, or just believe this, and it's like, that's not at all what God's word says. And that's why it's so important for Christians to know the word of God because even Christians, or especially Christians, will say things that are just like, man that sounds really great but that just is not at all what the scriptures teach. [Laila] They're like half-truths. So they sound really Christian-y and good, but not quite right. [Aaron] Yeah, I take the example from Christ when he's in the wilderness being tempted by the devil and the devil uses scripture [Laila] Mm hmm, right. [Aaron] to tempt Jesus. He goes to the very thing that teaches us about who God is and he takes it out of context, you know? Which is funny because this is what false teachers do today. They're using scriptures and they're drawing it out of context and they're using it to, like you said, create their own God from the scriptures rather than, well actually, this is why it's saying what it's saying and this is what it's saying and this is who it is saying it to. That we have to be like Christ. Knowing the word, so we can go back to the enemy or to these things we see on social media, and say well okay, maybe that is right but it also says this and so, therefore, that thing can't be true. [Jerrad] Right, yup. That's such a good reminder. And we remember in scripture, Satan has been doing that since day one. Didn't God say. Very first words we ever see from Satan was "Didn't God say". And so yeah. We have to know the character of God because you're right. The enemy loves to twist the words of God. [Jennifer] So talking about the character of God. Can we know God without a close relationship with the Bible? [Jerrad] I guess the only hesitancy I would say in that is there's so many believers who didn't have any actual Bible in their hand for a long time. [Aaron] Yeah. [Jennifer] Mm. [Jerrad] Who had to hear stories about God and they relied on, maybe they had one Bible in their whole village, right? [Laila] Even today. [Jerrad] Even today that's true where the word of God is being taught orally because people don't know how to read or they don't have access to the scriptures. And I believe that God, supernaturally by the Holy Spirit, can continue to work in their lives and mature believers for those that are in the situation. But that's the exception right? For an American who's listening, who's got a Bible to say, yeah I kind of got a good idea of who God is, I kind of get the jist of the Bible, to say I don't really need to read. That's just foolish thinking. [Aaron] Yeah I was just gonna say that. We've heard that before and that argument, well there's other people that don't have the word of God. But that doesn't give an excuse to all of us who have multiple Bibles and we can literally go to a hotel room [Jerrad] Right. [Aaron] and there is a Bible in the drawer. We can go to the store and get a Bible. People give out free Bibles. You can to your church. They'll probably give you a Bible. [Jerrad] Right. [Aaron] So we don't get to have the excuse of like, yeah. [Laila] Right. [Jerrad] So if you're listening right now and you don't have a Bible, I will send you one. Like that, there is zero excuse and I know you guys would too. [Aaron] So Laila and Jerrad, you guys were talking about, when you got married very quickly and how you guys hadn't established an "us" yet and that's why you couldn't do the wedding, you didn't have a style for the wedding, you're like who are we gonna invite, what does this thing look like? But things are much different now because you know each other and I just was trying to, I wanted to highlight that again because, we can know, you know the question was can you have a close relationship with God without the Bible. And I like your answer, no, I don't think we can. But the Bible does tell us, in Romans, that we can know of God just by nature itself. Just by creation itself. But that does not tell us who God is. So we can experience God. Any person in any village anywhere can know that there is a God. Which is what Atheists they have to just literally deny that there is a God. They can't just assume that there's not because there is no, the world is proof of it. But to know God, just like when you guys were getting married, you guys didn't yet know each other, we couldn't know God without knowing what He's said because that would be like being married and you guys never talking. Jerrad never explaining who his family is and showing you who they are and never telling you things from the past and how he thinks and things he's done. And you literally just, you live together and you have no clue who Jerrad is. Yeah, you're married. [Laila] Right. [Aaron] You're connected with him but, that's not a very fruitful marriage, right? [Laila] Right. [Aaron] So I wanted to bring that up, that beautiful analogy. But now you guys know each other, and you guys are consistently knowing each other and that should be the heart of the marriage after God is that we, whether we know everything now, and whether we're in the word of God four hours a day, whatever that looks like, that we have a desire to go that direction. And it sounds like that's where you guys are at. [Laila] Yeah, I would say. Right, it would be the same. I mean, that is a good analogy. If I had married Jerrad and in the first year decided that I know everything there is about Jerrad because now I've been married to him for a year. That's crazy. Every day that goes by, I am changing and when I interact with Jerrad, I learn about him. Something new about him. I mean almost daily we just learn the nuances and I think it's that way with scripture too. Last year we read through the Bible, Genesis to Revelation, and I am certain that when we read through it again, I am going to learn it in a totally different way as opposed to have having just assumed that I know what I need to know and be done with it. I mean they say it's the living word of God. It's not changing but I am and the way that I, the way that God speaks to me through His word changes every time I read even the same scripture, over and over. It's different each time. [Jennifer] I love that you give that picture that it doesn't change but I am. Like, I change because of it. So I want to kind of dig a little personal here and just ask you guys in what ways has the word of God transformed your marriage? [Laila] Well I'm reminded through scripture who God is and what He's already done and so I can count on what I know He can do. You know, like we said, we've been married for nine years and a couple years ago we had a really really hard season in marriage. It's really part of how DadTired was actually born out of that season. But it was just, it was actually really awful. But I was able to pull from scripture what I know about God and what the Bible says about marriage and instead of bailing out like what my flesh would want to do and what my emotions were telling me to do is just get out of here, this sucks, this is hard, I don't like him anymore. I was able to just know that God can change hearts and I just prayed like crazy through that season. And like what your quote from the book, "allowing the word of God to transform them by the power of the Holy Spirit". I wouldn't know that power if I hadn't been in scripture. But I just was able to trust in the power of the Holy Spirit because I know what He's done. I know what He can do. And here we are. Nine years in. And way past that awful season. [Jennifer] What a powerful testimony. Like Aaron was saying, I pray for those listening. My prayer for those listening would hear that and be encouraged. And if anyone is in that place right now where things are, where maybe they're rough or it's hard to persevere right now, I hope that they would dig into the word of God and find the same hope and endurance that you found through the word of God. [Jerrad] Yeah I was just gonna say too, to kind of piggy-back off of that is, your whole book is called Marriage After God, which is really like, that title says I want to marriage my, or I'm sorry. I want to model by marriage after God, right? In the character of God. And so to do that you have to know what God's character is like. And when you read the scripture, you learn that God is a God who is relentless in His pursuit of people who constantly turn their back on Him. And he's faithful even when people aren't faithful. And so Laila, being connected to that truth, and the truth that she learned through the word of God and who God actually is, not who she wanted him to be in her mind, she was able to pursue me relentlessly even when I was not being faithful in my love and pursuit of her. And so, that's a testimony. That's much deeper than, hey, you should read the Bible every day [Aaron] Yeah. [Jerrad] because it's a good thing to do as a Christian. It literally saved our marriage. Had she had made up some God in her mind, she probably would have said, well God wants me to be gone because Jerrad's being an, you know, he's being a jerk. But I know who God is and I want to model my marriage after who God is and as a result, I'm going to pursue Jerrad the way that God has pursued me even if Jerrad's not fully in it. And as a result of that, the Holy Spirit worked and changed my heart. And literally, the reason that we're sitting here today, doing this podcast, is because of that. [Aaron] And that's what's amazing about the word of God. When the Bible tells us that the word of God is sharper than any two-edged sword, and we also see that in Revelation when it's describing Jesus, you know this two-edged sword coming out of his mouth. And that it cuts even to the marrow. Like it cuts through our flesh. It cuts through our desires. It cuts through our opinions, our way of thinking, down to the motives and then it reveals to us who we are. You know? And that's what changes us because, going back to that idea of creating our own little Gods. You know, creating what we believe God to be. You end up with the conclusion, Laila, is that well God wants me to be happy. Therefore, since I'm not happy, God wants me to leave. You know? [Laila] Right. Oh yeah, I would have loved to have, at the time, made that true. Jerrad's not being what I want him to be. He's not making me happy. And yeah, God wants me to be happy so I'm out. But I just knew that wasn't true. How many times we've been unfaithful to God just in our walk with him and He just doesn't bail. There's just no way around it. And he says to, you know, love your spouse that way. [Aaron] Which is crazy. [Laila] I just had nothing else I could do and I knew I couldn't change Jerrad. I could beg and cry and you know, hey, don't be a jerk. But there was just nothing I could do. We were just in a bad spot and I'm sure I was not always pleasant for him either. But I just had to pray to the one who I knew could change Jerrad's heart and it certainly wasn't me or any made up God who looks like me. But just, like you said, the power of the Holy Spirit, that was it. And I prayed a lot. [Aaron] And he's doing it. There's people listening right now that are probably gonna be finding freedom and restoration in their marriages just because of this testimony. So thank you for your openness. [Laila] And to be honest, there as a lot of eye-rolls for me when people would say, just pray about it, just pray about it. I hated that because I wanted some action, you know? But we were just at the point that I thought I literally have nothing else I can do and I would set my alarm in the middle of the night and get up and pray. It was just. I dunno. I'm tellin' ya. I really didn't like when people told me, just pray about it. But I did it because I was just that desperate and it was those prayers have certainly been answered. [Aaron] Well I think of, so our pastor always says, "Prayer isn't the preparation for the battle. Prayer is the battle." That's how we war. And the Bible tell us to pray about all things and for everything and in every place. And when we don't just. The prayer that you're talking about isn't just, "Okay, Lord, just fix the situation." It's "Lord, what do you want? Lord, where do you want me? What do you want me to do? How do you want me to pray?" Man, and just in another encouragement, I love it, the Bible tells us when we don't even know what to pray for, that the spirit prays for us. And then on top of that, Jesus is at the right hand of God right now interceding on our behalf. Which is amazing. That you could sit there in bed and say, "I have no clue what I'm doing Lord, but I need your help" and Jesus is praying for you and he's saying, Lord help them. Give them strength. Give them courage. So I would encourage everyone too. That that's a great encouragement. Don't just pray. But pray with anticipation of what God wants and His will. So I want to ask you guys another question. You know, we're talking about going through struggles. Jennifer and I, that's kind of where our ministry was born from, was struggles we were going through. It sounds like the DadTired ministry and what you guys are doing was born out of some issues you guys were going through. But another thing we talk about in the book is that having a good marriage is not the end game. Having a healthy marriage is not the end game. Getting to the word of God and knowing the God is not the end game. These things that we're talking about is to do something. That there is an end in mind. How do you guys see that, you know, the word of God changing you, you guys walking in obedience to the word and finding that restoration in your marriage, where you're at now, how has God used all of that stuff and your obedience for his sake? [Jerrad] Yeah, I think that, just kind of going back to what we were just talking about. I think that when we live out what we see God being like, we give everyone around us a glimpse of that God that we see in the Bible. And so when Laila was faithful to me in that season, she gave me a glimpse of the gospel. When she was faithful. When our kids see us be faithful to each other even when we're not happy, but we continue to pursue each other relentlessly, we continue to pursue their hearts even when they're disobedient, we continue to forgive, we give them glimpses of the gospel and the good news of God. And then our neighbors see that. The people around us see that. It's living out what we see the God of the Bible being like that gives the world a glimpse of who God is. So yeah, I think that's what God meant when he said, be salt and light, and to represent me to the world. And so anything other than that is really telling a lie about God. Had Laila bailed on me, then she would be teaching our kids that like, hey, you can just get out when it's easy, or when you're not happy, or when it's hard, I'm sorry. And when you're not happy. And that's not who the God of the Bible is. And so it would be a lie about His marriage covenant, the whole reason of a marriage covenant was to, like you said, it wasn't for the purpose of us just being happy and building our own little family for the sake of joy and having a nice little neat marriage. But it was to give ourselves, our kids, and the world around us, a glimpse of who God is. That's the whole point of marriage. And so, we don't want to tell a lie about it. We want to represent that original intent well and to show off to each other and to the world who God really is. [Aaron] That's beautiful. [Jennifer] I have tears in my eyes. [Aaron] That was really good. [Jennifer] That was awesome. [Aaron] How would you encourage those listening today to get even closer to the word of God? You know, not just like, here's a set of rules, here's your reading plan. But like, why? Why should they be closer to God, God's word? [Jarred] I think that I would probably just go back to what we were just talking about at the beginning of the conversation and what we've hit throughout this conversation and that's that, man, I don't care if you've grown up in church since you were born, if you were born in a baptismal, you know? Or like you just gave your. That's a joke, by the way. Nobody's hopefully born in a baptismal. Whether you're born in the church or you just gave your life to Christ today, we are all susceptible of just making up who we want God to be. I've been teaching the word of God for a decade now and I still do it. I still want God to be, look like I want him to look. And I'm still confronted by the scriptures and the truth of the scriptures every single day. [Aaron] Yeah. [Jerrad] We literally just read a verse this last week in II Timothy that says you're always learning but never arriving at the truth, or you know, at the knowledge of the truth. And it's like, well crud, that's convicting because I'm always learning. I feel like I'm learning and yet am I actually getting closer to Jesus? Just don't be arrogant enough, even subtle arrogance to think that you know you can wrap your mind around this God of the universe. He is way to big for you to understand fully. And it's just vital to continue to understand who this God is and to chase after Him. The other thing I would say on that is Proverbs 1 says, I think it's Proverbs 1? It could be Psalm 1. One of the Ps. One says that if you, a man in the word of God is like a tree planted near living water, right? [Aaron] Oh yeah. [Jerrad] And so we all can tell when trees are planted near water. They're alive, they're producing fruit, they're green, they look healthy. And the ones that aren't? It's really easy to tell. Hey, that tree could use some water. It's dead. It's dying. I could probably push it over right? And you can tell people, Christians, who aren't near the word of God. They look tired. They look stressed. They look like they're burned out and it's like bro, it's not that you need to have this huge crisis and figure things out. Just go plant yourself near the living water which is the word of God again. [Aaron] Yeah, and I think of the parable of the seed and the sower and the different soils. And we wanna have the soft soil where when the seed is planted, which is the word of God, it goes deep into us. And if we're not, like you were just giving that analogy of the tree. We actually had a tree die a couple years ago because we had a dry winter and we didn't realize we were supposed to water it when it's so dry. And the ground was all cracked and it started dying from the top down because the roots were, it was probably like got some sort of root rot, but because the ground was dry and the water didn't go deep, the roots didn't go deep. And so it's the same with us. If we're not in the word of God, if we don't know the word of God, those roots are going, they're shallow. And we think we're going to survive on that as a Christian in this world. So that's a good reminder. Thank you for that. [Jennifer] This has been really great talking with you guys. We have one more question and it's something that we're asking everyone throughout the series and it's, in your own words, what is a marriage after God? [Laila] A marriage after God. I would say just remembering that your marriage isn't just for your happiness. I know we hear that a lot. Marriage isn't for your happiness. It's for your holiness. But that's just really true. Jerrad's not here to fulfill me and make me happy because I would have bounced a couple times and I'm sure he would have been happy to do the same on a few occasions over the years. But just remembering that our marriage is to point each other, and our kids, and our neighbors, and just the world around us, back to God. That's what I'm to do for him and he's to do for me. We just point each other to Jesus, make each other more like Jesus through prayer and just trusting in God's spirit and just praying that, over each other and for each other. [Jerrad] I would agree with all of that except that I would have never left you. [Laila] I know I feel bad because we keep talking about how I could have left, I could have left, but I'm sure I'm not always a peach. I don't always make you happy but thank you for sticking around anyway. [Jennifer] Well thank you guys so much for being on the show today. We are just cheering for you as you pursue the ministry that God has for you and your marriage and also online. We would like to encourage everyone to take a moment and pray with us and then Aaron will close us out. Dear Lord, thank you for your word. It is living and it is active, sharper than any two-edged sword. Lord, you created everything by your word and faith comes by hearing your word. You tell us that man cannot live by bread alone but by every word that comes out of your mouth. We pray that as husbands and wives who love you and are chasing after you, that we would be men and women of your word. That we would make it a priority in our lives. That we would read it and meditate on it. That it would be our sustenance. That we would allow ourselves to be transformed by it and renewed by it. May our marriages be transformed by it. We pray that our lives would represent what your word says. We pray that we would take the sword of the spirit, which is your word, and use it to fight against the schemes of the devil. Lord, your word is good and a gift for everyone. May we read it, may we know it, and may we live it out every day. In Jesus name, Amen. [Aaron] Amen. [Jerrad] Amen. [Jennifer] Amen. [Aaron] Okay, so, everyone listening, we thank you for joining us on this episode with Jerrad and Laila Lopes. And I just want you all to go check out his podcast. It's called "DadTired" and you can get it anywhere podcasts are available. So iTunes, just search for Dad Tired. Podbean, Castbox, wherever you listen to podcasts, you can find him. And can you let us know if there's anything else that they can get from you guys, how they can connect with you guys? [Jerrad] Super grateful again to be here. If they just go to, we've got a free little eBook that we give away to guys on just trying to help them figure out how to lead their family well and there's a community to jump in to which a lot of guys in our DadTired community are also part of the Marriage After God and Husband Revolution family. [Aaron] Awesome. Thank you guys again for being on the show and we have 12 more episodes coming up in this series, tons of more awesome interviews, so we want you guys to stay tuned and we'll see you next week for next week's episode. Did you enjoy today's show? If you did, it would mean the world to us if could leave us a review on iTunes. Also, if you're interested, you can find many more encouraging stories and resources at and let us help you cultivate an extraordinary marriage.

 MAG 03 - Oneness and Intimacy In Marriage w/ Ryan and Selena Frederick of Fierce Marriage | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 00:44:22

Order Our New Book, "Marriage After God" Today! “A marriage after God is a team moving together in one mind, one heart, one spirit, and in one direction with their eyes on heavenly and eternal things.” - Aaron Smith, Marriage After God book In this episode we interview our good friends, Ryan and Selena Frederick of the Fierce Marriage Podcast Dear Lord, We pray we would be husbands and wives who pursue intimacy with you. We pray we would make ourselves known to you and know to each other. Help us to walk with each other in an understanding way and to love unconditionally. Thank you for the gift of oneness in marriage and what it represents. We pray we would operate as one every day in our marriage relationship. Holy Spirit continue to empower us to do so. Help us to be transparent with one another. Help us to be great listeners as well. May truth be exposed and may your presence be evident in our lives. Thank you for marriage and thank you for salvation. You are a good God and we love you. May our hearts align with yours as we chase boldly after you and pursue a marriage That reflects your love story. In Jesus’ name, amen! READ: - Hey, we're Aaron and Jennifer Smith with Marriage After God. Helping you cultivate an extraordinary marriage. And today we're in part three of the Marriage After God series and we're gonna be talking with Ryan and Selena Frederick about oneness and intimacy in marriage. Welcome to the Marriage After God podcast, where we believe that marriage was meant for more than just happily ever after. I'm Jennifer, also known as Unveiled Wife. And I'm Aaron, also known as Husband Revolution. We have been married for over a decade. And so far, we have four young children. We have been doing marriage ministry online for over seven years through blogging and social media. With a desire to inspire couples to keep God at the center of their marriage, encouraging them to walk in faith every day. We believe that Christian marriage should be an extraordinary one, full of life, Love, And power. That can only be found by chasing after God. Together. Thank you for joining us on this journey as we chase boldly after God's will for our life together. This is Marriage After God. Hey thanks for joining us today. As always, wanna invite you to leave a review. Star ratings are awesome, that's the easiest way to leave a review but the text reviews are also really powerful and we love reading all of them and that's an awesome way to spread the word about the podcast. Another way you can support the podcast is by shopping on our online store,, and we wanna encourage you to get a copy of our new book, Marriage After God, that's what this whole series is based off of and if you've been listening to the series, you've already been encouraged and inspired by the book content and so we just wanna at least get you over to the site to give you more information on the book. So today we're talking with some good friends of ours, Ryan and Selena Frederick from Fierce Marriage and Ryan, Selena, welcome. Hey guys. Hi guys, thanks for having us. Yeah, thanks for having us. Excited to be here. We're excited to have you. Yeah it's a treat. Yeah every time I think of you guys, we listen to your podcast, of course, 'cause your friends of ours, but I always think of our trip to IKEA in California, do you remember that? We had one child. Oh yeah. It was so fun. Do you remember that? That was a fun date, yeah. It was, and I don't know what we bought, but I remember it barely fit in our car, and Aaron you helped me fit it in our little Prius that we had in California. Oh, I don't remember. Was it shelves or something? Well it was may more fun for me than it was for you. It actually might have been a crib. As much fun as it was walking around Ikea, I remember we just had really great conversation. Yes, and you only had one child. Did we eat lunch at Ikea? I don't know. Yeah. Yeah, it was one kid, it was a totally different life back then and we were all still fairly new to all of this marriage stuff. So, Yes. Why don't you guys introduce yourselves, who you are, how long you've been married what do you guys do? Sure. Children, stuff like that. Yeah we are the Fredericks and we have been married, it'll be 16 years this year. And we, Wow. Have two little girls named Adelaide and Clementine, they are five and 2 1/2. And we are, yeah we're the voices and authors and everything-- Yeah. I guess behind Fierce Marriage. Yeah. And that is us for now. That's for now. We live in Washington State. The best place in the world. Yeah, just a little bit north and a little better than Oregon state. Stop And a little bit wetter. This is true. Wetter is better. A little bit colder. Awesome, well thank you guys so much for being here. We just know that this is gonna be a great time for our listeners to get to know you, if they don't already, which they probably do. But we are just really excited about this topic. We're jumping into chapter three of Marriage After God, which is the Marks of a Marriage After God and we're just gonna cover two of those topics today. In this interview, yeah. In this interview. But before we do that we wanna get into the icebreaker question. This is just a fun way to-- Let people know us. Yeah. You guys better. Alright, bring it on. So the icebreaker question is, do you have any hobbies together, or separate, or maybe as a family? I think we try to keep our hobbies mostly together these days. Yeah. It's actually contributed to that oneness that we'll get into, but we do have, you know, different passions and things that we enjoy I think separately. I like riding horses, Ryan doesn't like it as much as I do, he'll do it, but. Actually we went, we went on a vacation and we went on 'em. We did, that's right. We rode together and I think I was won over. Yes. It was so fun I had the most amazing, but, what do you call it, a mount, an amazing mount. Your horse was pretty great. Yeah. It was pretty great. So I was actually, I was following along on Insta Stories and I actually became really fond of it too and I can't wait for vacation Aaron of riding horses together. Oh, are you, that's a hint? Yes. Ryan, it looked incredible. Like every time you guys posted I was just like, yes, that looks awesome. Because. What's funny is I have a completely different sentiment to horses, I was raised around horses and my mom always took us riding and I hate it. Oh no. You were responsible for cleaning after them? My sentiment might be different, it's been a long time, but yeah I didn't like the, mucking the stalls and feeding the horses and cleaning them, and yeah, so it was not a fun part of it. We'll pray for you that the Lord will renew your heart for it. But. Thank you, thank you that's awesome. So I just wanted, before we get into a quote from the book, I just wanted to, the reason we, we're interviewing so many different people on this podcast in this series for the, Marriage After God book is we wanna just show the diversity in the body of Christ and just how all of our marriages as we chase after God together and how God wants to use us all for kingdom work in one direction. So I just, I'm excited about that, we love that you guys are doing it, you guys are a marriage after God. And so I just wanna read a quote from chapter three, The Marks of a Marriage After God. It says, "a marriage after God is a team moving together in one mind, one heart, one spirit, and in one direction with their eyes on heavenly and eternal things." Do you guys agree with that? Amen. Oh absolutely. I'm sure you do. Good stuff. Yeah. Good stuff. So in your guys' marriage how have you two cultivated oneness? That's a great question and it is not without a, I think intentionality, I think is the biggest way to be honest. As we've just consciously said that hey we, we need, we're not just roommates, but we need to be on mission together in unity on whatever that mission is. Of course as Christians we have a pretty clear mission right, make disciples and go to the ends of the earth and glorify God and all that good stuff, not necessarily in that order, but, and so I think we've cultivated that by, Selena talked about our hobbies, I think decisions like that, right? So I enjoy different things that I just don't do because they just, they don't add to the family that I feel like God is calling us to. Right. It's harder for us to say yes to things that might take us away from each other for even just a day or sometimes even a couple hours, but on a consistent basis it can kind of, we feel like it kind of breaks away our unity, it kind of chips away at it slowly. If, you know, I'm going and riding horses every Saturday for five hours a day, you know, and that's kind of like our only, it's family time together, so. Or I, you know, I love going to the mountains and the ocean-- I do too. Scuba diving. I like it yeah. And so it's like, we do some of that, but it's like, if it were, we've kind of made a decision that that's the exception and not the rule. Right. It's like you don't owe me time by myself. Right. Right, I feel like that's kind of a cultural mantra, is like you get your time I get mine, you get your money, I get my money and we've just thrown all that out the window, it's our time, it's our money. Not that you can't, you know. Yeah. Not that you can't be generous to each other in those ways, but just as a norm I think that's one way we've done it for us. And early on in our relationship, before we were married or anything, God was always a big part of it. We always talked about what we were learning in the Bible together and, excuse me, and even to this day we're like, what has God been teaching you and just the nature of what we do, and you guys understand this. We're in the word, we're learning about God, we're teaching him to our children. We're constantly being sanctified and learning new things and for me that's, that spiritual oneness has really solidified and grown out of those conversations that we've had together. That's so good. So as you guys communicate, can you just encourage our listeners with maybe what that looks like practically, like if, like how do you cultivate oneness in your marriage if something comes up that, you know, something that one of you wants to do, or one of you is wrestling with, how do you communicate that to each other? Yeah, that's a really good question. It's different obviously for every situation in every marriage and you kinda know what those hot-button topics are, or where those big red buttons are and so you-- Well I feel like you get to know it. Like we didn't just decide not to do things it kind of, as kids came into our life and as we became more unified in our marriage and kind of went through some hard times together, we started, and spent kind of some just time, one-one-one with each other, we started understanding where our boundaries were beginning to fall I feel like a little bit more. Yeah. And go ahead. Well, one of the things I tell guys, and I think it applies to gals as well, but I don't, I'd rather just talk to guys on this topic. Is that, you know, if ever in doubt, if you ever can always be generous, always choose generosity towards your wife, right? If there's a spot where you can give in, what be it a hobby, or an argument, or whatever, be generous, be the one to give in. And there are times when I feel like as a husband and a man, you do need to kinda like, stand your ground on principle or whatever, but I do think those are rare times, right, in most marriages. Right. And so I think cultivating generosity around those conversations is really important meaning that A, like if we're talking about I wanna go hang out with a buddy one night, like so, so actually it's Jeff's birthday today so I'm gonna go and hang out with him tonight, this is a real-life example and Selena didn't even, I didn't even have to ask. She's like hey, Jeff's my best friend, hey, go hang out tonight with him, you know, have a good night and just a-- Right. And so she was generous toward me, I didn't have to-- But it's not a regular battle that we fight. No, no. You know, it's not part of our regular rhythms of life, we've just kind of established that boundary that, you know, we can again ask each other and be generous in these conversations, but, you know, all in all our first disciples are each other and then our children, and then our neighbors and community, so operating from that vision-- Yeah. Inside out kind of is where, is how we, yeah. It does start there. And if you're not unified on those deep things these types of arguments will seem much more significant-- Sure, yep. Than they should be-- True. And they'll hold way more weight then they should be. So, I guess to answer your question Jen, is if, I would say, get on the same page. You might not be unified right now, but get on the same page about the big things, right, and then these types of arguments will have a greater context that they can operate within and that's where the, that's where generosity makes sense, that's where, you know-- Saying no to things. Saying no to things to say yes to each other-- Right. That makes way more sense when you're on the same page about-- Yeah. Why you exist as a couple. Well and I like that you took essentially Ephesians 5:25 and that, you know, that calling to lay down our lives for our wives and love them as ourselves, that's that generosity word. Like of course we're usually first generous to ourselves, right? True. Like well I deserve this or I need the time. So I appreciate that perspective on that, that scripture. And, you know, as being one of the marks of a marriage after God, this oneness idea, I feel like, you know, what you're saying is, all those little decisions that kind of start developing and the way of thinking, you know, it's not like you throw your hobbies out and like you never have them. Right. It's just not the, it's not the default position, the default is what can we do together and so the exception of the rule is like in those times of like, absolutely like, you know, your wife is confident in your, your oneness with her and she's actually excited to let you go have this time and, and you probably would agree with this, whenever that happens in our life often I, actually it's not as enjoyable-- Yes By myself, I'm just like oh I wish my-- Jen was here. Yeah. That's funny. You know and there's times that that's not, you know, not the case, but the oneness I feel like that, that when you said, you know, focus on those big, you know those big topics, I almost feel like it's focus on the, what's the one direction we're going together and then that kind of sets the tone for everything. Because if we both have a different goal in mind, like I want my life to look like this, I want my life to look like this, then every single conversation, every single topic will be a fight because unless it, the other person has aligned with my direction-- Right. It's going to be a fight, it's gonna be a struggle. And so finding that unifying mission, which of course like you said, we all have the same mission, you know, if it's the word of God, if it's what he's doing in this world then we can't, it's easier to lay down-- Right. My pride, my hobbies, my, because I'd be like, well, like currently in this moment that's not going to fulfill our big mission, you know, of being together 'cause now I'm not with my wife in one and we're-- At odds. And there will be a lot of kind of gray, right? So that's like the black and white piece, right, where if a younger couple-- Yeah. Right, they're just, they're heading into marriage, or they just got married, or maybe a couple that's been married for awhile, but they're new to their faith, right? The first piece is okay, what is that mission as people who follow Christ. If we believe he is who he says he is then that should bear weight on every aspect of our lives, okay, then that's the big, that's where we're headed, right, and it's good for a couple, we always encourage couples-- Yeah. To sit down and articulate these things in what we call, a family vision statement, and it's, that includes their mission which is gonna be some, some, what's the word, expression, of the great commission, right? So however that-- Yeah. Plays out in their life, it's gonna be an expression of that if they call themselves Christians and then below that you have, and a lot of couples never do this and it's so important. We hadn't done it until 10 years in our marriage at least. Yeah, and it changed everything-- Yes. And I'm not exaggerating, it changed everything about, in this topic specifically, in unity, because we went through and found in mind our personalities, our relationship for what we call core values, right? So a lot of times we say oh, like in a business context you say our core value is quality, customer service, right? These are ideals, right? Yeah. But for a marriage the core values are things that you actually are whether you know it or not. Things that you care about whether you know it or not, right? So for us we had to realize that we really value, one of 'em is community, right, that's part of that because obviously we're Christian, but we value family and friends and deep relationships with fewer rather than shallow relationships with more, that was one of 'em. -yeah. Adventure, it sounds kind of funny, but adventure's a core value of ours meaning that we wanna live lives that are kinda on the edge, right? Oh, I would agree with that one. Yeah and we're always kind of-- Yeah we use the word extraordinary. Yes. Yeah, I love it. You guys use that in the beginning of your podcast. Um-hum, yeah. Got another one and I can keep going on, I think there's only five, like we tried to keep 'em as few as possible. And then this is part that you were talking about Aaron where you get kind of the expressions that, that kind of, I'd say the more grayer parts of this, is like okay, so how are we gonna decorate our house, right? Or what kind of house are we gonna invest it, not just buy, but invest in because of these core values? Yeah. And so, and those, that third part of the family vision statement is what we call the, envision statement. So like we envision, one of our envision statements is we envision a family that laughs together, we envision a home that is welcoming to, to friends-- Everyone, yeah. And strangers and people and we can feed them. So what, that has all kinds of implications for how we actually set up our lives. How big is our table, right? Like how big is our living room, yeah. They make all the small decisions in essence easier, because they've already got, instead of just starting from scratch every single time on the decision like, well what do we want? You're like well, does this fit into our, what we want? Yep, that's exactly right. Exactly. You know are we gonna spend a thousand hours on this project if it means sacrificing-- Yeah. These other things-- Right. That are core to what we love. And what I love about this is it's, you know, we always talk about well you gotta be on the same page, like that's how you're one, that's how you build unity. It's an easy phrase, yeah. It's an easy phrase to say, but I feel like this is such a practical way to actually get on the same page because you put it down on one page literally. I feel like in the oneness side of things of being able to communicate and we're gonna get into a little bit of this idea of transparency, is once you've both verbalized what oneness looks like, what we agree with, what we believe as a team, what's our central focus. The accountability part of it, you know, of oneness, is hey how you're currently acting or making a decision doesn't align with what we, what you say you believe and what we have agreed on. And we can kind of use those, those foundational things, again, if it's Christ, we can look at each other and be like, hey like that's not really aligning with what we believe in the Bible is it? Like we've said the Bible is a core value of our home and what we align our life with. So I like that you, you know, putting those things down, you guys both have agreed that those are who you are as a family, how you wanna lead, how you wanna live, it makes oneness a lot more practical instead of this ambiguous idea of like, okay, like yeah, we'll, you know, we'll have the same bank account, sure, which is another practical way, but it's not the only thing it's just a piece of the puzzle. Yeah, yeah. Yeah, yeah, so-- And it takes time too. I wanna make a note like I think-- A life time, yeah. So many people sit down and they're like, hey, here's, we're gonna take this evening and we're gonna do our family vision statement and then we'll be done forever. And it took us probably three months to get our first draft and then we revisit it-- Kind of after big life things like if you, if you have children and you've never had children before so maybe some of your values, or just the way you wanna spend your time because you now have this other person-- Yes. You know, it changes everything and... Or you move geographically-- Right. Or you get a new job, or God calls you to something and you feel like it's stirring, but it hasn't quite started yet. Yeah, and take time to get there and then you can, you're free to revisit it. Right. So I just think that, I just wanna make sure that people don't feel like they need to get this ironed out in like one sitting-- Yeah. That's good. 'Cause it takes some time to think and pray over it and articulate the ideas. Well that's why we call it a mark of a marriage after God. It's not, it's a thing that we're aiming for. Yeah. Not a, oh we are today perfectly have it ironed out. Yeah. It's like, oh no, this is how we are gonna operate. Yeah. We're gonna think this way and pursue this direction because it's Biblical and it's gonna help us fulfill what God has for us. So as you guys have been pursing oneness in your marriage and being one and actively making choices as one, how have you seen that amplify your effectiveness in building God's kingdom? Oh man, in every meaningful way. Aaron you mentioned going out, right? If you don't feel like, maybe Jen says, hey yeah, go out and have fun or whatever and do something that you wanted to do how you almost don't even like it anymore 'cause she's not there. Yeah, it changes you. You'd rather be with your family. Like that, that sentiment I think, that's just a small I think shadow of truth in terms of that sentiment how it actually impacts your entire life-- Right. When you realize I don't wanna do anything, A, I don't wanna do anything that's not in lockstep with what God is doing, I wanna go where God is moving, I wanna be, I wanna move with him, right, and in that sense I want our family to be in unity and doing that too. Like we, here's a really silly example, but we needed to buy a vehicle-- Yeah. The last year, about a year and a half ago, and it's a big purchase-- I know I hate it, I hate those decisions. You know next to a house it's probably one of the bigger-- It's hard. Yeah, yeah, and we had been kind of wracking our brains, we'd had been, you know, a one-vehicle family, but we had just, we had just had our second daughter and so it was time. It was time to like, to actually face this decision and we just didn't have peace on it, didn't have peace. And it was probably like six months of Selena looking at different cars, looking at different, you know, all the different specs and the different prices and where to get it and all that kind of stuff until finally we had all this stuff, kind of like here's our priorities, we had all that out so we knew what we were looking for we weren't gonna go and just spend a bunch of money. We had an actual like-- Budget. Budget-- Budget envision for the car. Anyway when that decision finally came to make that decision God was so faithful and provided just this really obscure way for us to find the exact right vehicle that he, that was what we were looking for. Wow. And we do think it's a little grace of God to make that plain to us in what happened and that was so easy by the time that, that we felt like we were in unity in that together and we were in lockstep with him that we just walked up and we drove it and we just said, yeah, we'll take it. It was like, there was very little like haggling, all that kind of stuff, it was already there-- Yeah. And so I feel like that happens in big decisions too if you're in ministry right? So you're trying to make a decision in ministry and you find unity, that's where you're just, your heart is only at peace in unity when you get to that place. And peace and unity, I think that's, I mean isn't that the essential definition of peace? Right. There's no chaos, there's no division, I love that. That's so good man, it's so true. Alright, so one of the other seven marks of a marriage after God is transparency. So what does transparency look like in your marriage? We kind of live by this lights on, windows open, doors open, sort of theme. That kind of sets the tone for, not only our marriage, but for our household, we, you know, there's no secrets. There might be some surprises here and there, but we really try to be intentional about like our vocabulary. But the whole transparency thing I think has become a greater peace to our life because of, you know, things like social media and posturing and kind of showing our best moments-- Yeah. And not really being transparent and honest about what our life looks like. You know, how many times do you meet somebody that you maybe have seen on Instagram and you're like, whoa, you're like way different than what I thought. Yeah. You're You're, oh just like me. Yeah, you're normal. Oh good. Yeah and I think that it's so important especially, you know, in unifying us, transparency is such a huge component because if I, if we're not honest with each other about kind of our ugly and about the sin that we face and the dark corners of our heart that we just don't wanna show to anybody, we're not allowing our spouse that space to truly love us and we're not allowing ourselves to live in that freedom that God's calling us to when we are in the light and God sees all that, he knows. We always talk about, right, we're always talking about like when we sin, like God doesn't, he sees the sin, but he also sees the deep motivation of that sin and he still loves us. He knows the depth of why it happened, why we made those decisions and that love is so liberating to us, right, it should be because he's leading us down this path of being known and fully loved, right, and being committed. And so transparency is, I don't think you can have full unity and full oneness without complete transparency. Yeah. I'm gonna be bold there and say that. That's why we tied these two marks together is 'cause we believe the same thing that they're so closely tied. Yeah, and it's, if you're not completely transparent I think it does also hinder your ability to experience and express love. And what I mean by that is that if I, if I say, hey Selena I love you, here's this part of my life that you get to see, but I keep part of it to myself, whether it's shame or a sin, or habitual sin, you know, for guys it's, you know pornography is always a big thing, right, or some sort of thing that I'm hiding from you. Whenever you say, oh I love you as my wife, I'll always be like, yeah, but if you, in my head I'll be like if you really knew me you wouldn't love me. So I'm not gonna, I can't, you don't actually love me, right? It kind of invalidates, until you actually say, here's everything that I've, all my good, bad, and the ugly, and so until you actually do that you're not gonna experience what it means to actually be loved as deeply as I feel we were called to. You know you asked, how does this actually play out? So Aaron I know you've shared some of your, you guys have shared your story with pornography and all that kind of stuff. Yeah. God is very redemptive when we repent and turn from that sin and run to him and run to each other, right? And that's, so the way we do that in our marriage is, you know, that's a guy and anybody who's on the internet you have to be on guard always for like sexual sin, just guy or girl, like you have to be on guard because there's always, always different ways that it gets in front of your face, right, you never even try to get it. And so I, we have an open kind of conversation always where she, the rule is you can ask me, she can ask me anything, anything and I just, I promised no matter how hard it is I'll never lie, right, and that's easier said then done, but it gets easier and easier and so. And then there's obviously open, you know, we have the phone-drop test is another fun little tool that we tell couples about is that at any moment you should drop your phone on the table and your spouse should be able to open that up and go through every app, every email, every text, everything. - Oh yeah. I've never heard that term before, but I like that term. You know we've never done that term, we do that, like we know each other's passwords, there's never any-- Yep. Giving that permission. Yeah there, we, yeah we use the word permission if she wants she can grab my phone and-- But I like that, the drop the phone test. And it's not, and the thing distinguishes couples 'cause a lot of couples would be like, well what about my privacy, you know, and A, you don't have privacy in marriage. That's the opposite of, that's the opposite of transparency. And when But B, it's not about, it's not about you're losing privacy it's about building trust and so you kind of, we flip it on it's head and that it's about showing you have nothing to hide as opposed to like, I should be able to hide something if I want to, like that's what privacy, that's all privacy is. Right. And in marriage there's none of that. And there's two stark contrasts in this idea of like, you know, you say, 'cause we've had couples say the same thing, like well, you know, that's just not, there's no trust there if they have to check my phone. But if you even have that heart in the first place you are hiding something, and right, and so if I'm telling my wife, hey, I want to walk in purity and holiness before my father in heaven and God has given you as my helper and therefore you have permission at any time to walk with me and help me be this, that man. That's a different position of, well you should just trust me and you shouldn't have to look at my phone. It's humility versus pride. Right. It's a whole different posture. And what happens is, my wife rarely has a desire to do that unless she has a spirit like, you know, hey there's something I'm discerning that, you just seem off, are you walking okay? And usually she doesn't even have to look at my phone where I am at, like you're saying, I confess, right? Um-hum, yeah. Because my purpose is not to just remove the shame and feel better in my marriage I actually fear God and want to please him. And so it's such, it's such a different mentality of just protecting my flesh versus, no actually I wanna be made like Christ. And-- Yep, just nailed it. Wow, wow. Yeah, so transparency is an important, actually when I asked the question I was thinking about this idea of transparency. And the point of transparency is to see through and, you know, if we're lights in this world, the light doesn't come from us it comes from Christ and the more opaque we are, like the harder to see through we are, the less light can emit from us. The less that light can be seen in us because you can't see through us to Christ-- Yeah. And I feel like that needs to be first exemplified in marriage and it's-- So if you're not transparent you're not being effective for spreading the gospel. Well you can't-- Yep. You're a liar. And actuallY this mental, so you just hit the nail on the head in terms something we are right in the thick of. Yeah. Because we, you've used all the buzz words Aaron, it's so funny. I don't know if you're reading my mail or what, but we are writing a new book, it's totally, we're writing a new book called, See Through, and it's that-- Wow. That whole attitude of we are called to not be opaque, but to be see through, transparent, and to-- So that God's light can shine-- God' light shines through us-- Oh yes. Albeit imperfectly. Yeah. Because we see it currently dimly, yeah. In a stained-glass window, right, you've got different colors, different shapes, different fractures, but it ends up being a beautiful picture because God's light is what makes it beautiful, even more beautiful than if we were perfect and, you know, and perfectly clear, right? He somehow uses our sin to make himself more glorified and more known because we live in a sin-filled world, but he's redeeming it right? And so you're absolutely, you nailed it, it's like that idea of being totally, of being not opaque, being see-through and letting God shine through you. I mean that's, that's what transparency is all about it's not about how can I just have what I want it's how can I be a vessel through which God shines. It's awesome. That's so powerful you guys. Thank you so much for sharing that and now I'm really excited to read that. Yeah. Yeah. I don't know if our publisher's gonna be mad at us for saying that or not. It's not official-- It's not an official name. If we're writing the book it's the unofficial name, so. That's awesome. Yeah, I love that, oh man so I think, yeah I just also think, just in the terms of marriage, a mark of a marriage after God. When we're not transparent we're not, we're pursuing ourselves, right, you know, because if I'm hiding sin, or if I'm hiding, you know, experiences in my life or things I'm going through, like you said, all we're doing is masking and we're covering up and we're trying to present ourselves a certain way. So we're not actually after God at all, we're after ourselves, and avoiding some discomfort or some pain, and so the picture we're trying to show, that opaqueness, we're just trying to show, we're manufacturing something which is not love at all 'cause I'm not letting my wife love me I'm letting her love a picture of me. You know and I'm not loving her by hiding who I am. I'm hiding, we're hiding the truth which is unloving, so, and, so I just love that you guys are advocates of that, that you not only advocate it, but you walk it out. We found it to be transformational on a personal level, both my relationship with, our relationship as spouses, but also our relationship with friends of the same sex-- Oh yeah. Right, that's transformational in that sense as well, but also in community with other families and other couples. We've had some really, some of the most transformational and brutal conversations that we've had have been in context of church community and that's such a big part of transparency. I think a lot of couples have kind of forsaken that part of the church, right? They kind of figure church is a Sunday morning thing, it's a Easter and Christmas thing, it's a check the box on a demographic-quiz thing, like I'm a Christian. But like that's how, that's how we're called to live in Christian community, right, and so transparency there, like we can never, we always push couples like, we consider ourselves like air-traffic controllers, right, people that come to us for answers-- Yeah. We're just like, we just point them to Christian community-- Exactly. 'Cause that's how you can move through it. Can you share some of the benefit for those listening, like what's the benefit of being transparent with other believers? So your holiness and righteousness, you know, unto the Lord I think is the biggest benefit because they'll be able to look at your life more objectively. Well and as a marriage we kinda, some friends of ours, we kind of walk, we go to them when we have kind of a struggle and we can't seem to figure it out, we feel a little stuck. And we'll go to them knowing that, you know, when you have dinner with another couple you're gonna heed your words a little bit more, right, you're gonna-- And you're gonna filter a little bit more, yeah. You're gonna have that, you're gonna make sure you're saying what you want to say-- What you mean to say not just-- Yes, what you feel like saying. And so, but having those, having that couple that we know is grounded in the gospel, that knows the word, that is in tune with the spirit, that loves the Lord and wants, they're advocating for us, they're not trying to pin us against each other, but they're advocating for our relationship, that's huge. And they love us. And they love us-- Yeah. And they know us and we want them to know us. Like we want to be known by them-- Yeah. Cause we can't see, we're stuck-- Yeah. We can't seem to figure this out we need our community, we need them to point us back to Jesus, point us back to the word, the Bible, ask us the hard questions and in love knowing that we're gonna get past this we're gonna get through this. In our little circle of church we have this, we turned the word gospel into a verb, right, so when somebody's like forgetting who they are in Christ we'll say-- Yeah, preach the gospel. We'll just gospel you for a second. Yes. We'll remind you-- Yeah. That God is good, that he's sovereign, and he's gracious and he's working in this and that's just so often, like being transparent. If you go, like most church groups you go to, you're just like, oh let's talk through the curriculum, let's talk through the study and we'll just go home and we'll have-- Yeah what are you learning there? We'll have food and we'll go home. But man church community is so much more then that. You say, hey how are you actually means, how are you doing, not just an excuse for you to say good, busy, right? Yeah. And then for the listener to sit there and actually listen and wait, you know, even if that means you have to wait a little bit longer instead of just passing by. Right because you truly are asking, not just facetiously or, you know, it's the norm. Yeah. You know, oh hey, how's it going? Yeah. You know I think about, you know, the reason we bring this up, the purpose of you guys being one in your marriage and being transparent in your marriage and all of the other marks that we talk about in the book, isn't just for your marriage, that's the place you practice doing exactly what you just said, because we're commanded in the word of God to be in one mind and spirit with the body of Christ. And in the same way you can't be one with your wife without being transparent and you can't be one with your husband without being transparent and you can't have that unified, unification, without that singleness of mission. It's the same thing in the body of Christ, what you're exactly saying, is the whole reason it's important for us to have this mentality in our homes. Yeah. Yeah, well how you love Christ's bride, how you love Christ if you don't love his bride, right? You can't it's impossible. No, you can't, that's why I get so-- Yeah, John tells us we are liars if we say that we love God and don't love his people. Right, right, that's why I get so just, I think furious is the right word, when you see like Christians that are just constantly just kind of making satire, making fun of the local church, right? I know that Christians are weird in some regards-- Good, yeah we, should be a difference. In a lot of cultural things. And then kind of make, their cringey, right, but there's also like, this is the, this is the bride of Christ and so there's, there always has to be that edifying kind of redemptive side to those types of conversations. And so, yeah, I think in your marriage this is just, yeah, that's why I love marriage, it's a mirror of the gospel in so many different, it's like a multifaceted diamond, right? Yeah, yeah. There you go. It's just, you see 'em at different angles and you see the gospel in it and that's one of the things is when you learn how to, you know, be transparent with your wife and with each other in marriage and that kind of gives you an idea of what it's like to be transparent with Christ's bride, with the church, right, and actually live in vulnerability, not just so you can look, you know, navel gaze and feel bad about yourselves and go home and be ashamed, but so that you can work toward righteousness, so you can be known, and so you can experience-- Yeah. A greater depth of grace and love, right? That's so good. You guys are such good encouragers and advocates for marriage online through your ministry, through your resources and everything. One quote that stood out to me that you guys had posted awhile back said this, "transparency, the best opportunity for intimacy happens when you're fully known and fully loved." And I just love that, I love the way you worded it, I love everything about it, and I think so many people are craving that right now. They're craving intimacy, they wanna be fully loved and maybe they don't know how to be fully known because they're afraid. And so I just wanna ask, how would you encourage those listening today, those people who want to experience this intimacy whether it's with God, with their spouse, with other believers, but they're afraid or something's holding them back, what would you say to them? Well I think it's important to,, excuse me, know what God's word says, you know, about fear and how perfect love drives out fear, there's no fear in perfect love. And so understanding that, you know, first of all we are loved, we are loved in Christ, and our identity can be rooted there because of what he's done and because of who he is. Yep. And,, excuse me, because he loves us, he knows us fully and completely and he loves us fully and completely and it's unconditional and he knows the depths of our souls and he still loves us and that's, and I think that's such an example and model for us, right, because only like, I don't, I don't feel any more experienced love like Christ to the extent, I can't, I don't know how I'm trying to say this, I experience it to the extent that I'm like transparent and known, right? Right. The more that I'm known the more that I am able to show my weaknesses and confess pride or, you know, just my anger or whatever. The more I, I am hopeful of, like your love Ryan, but hopeful also and knowing and just being able to rest in the fact that God loves me still, even in this moment and he's still like, while we were still sinners he died. Yep. Yeah. Wow. That reality is I think the path, understanding that full reality is the path toward the side of transparency that, that will get you to that side of feeling fully loved, right? So-- Yeah. That fear, and Selena you're speaking to it so well, is that fear is what keeps us from taking that leap because we feel like, well what if I jump and they don't love me? Yeah. Yeah. Or what if I jump and my spouse can never forgive me-- Yeah. Or our relationship's never the same and to be honest it probably will never be the same, but if we trust God it will be better. Yeah. It will be different and better. And how powerful. And there's joy. And how powerful it is when we do and we are transparent and we are still loved. It's such a powerful experience. Yeah, I think of that scripture that says, he who has been forgiven much loves much. And I-- That's the one I was trying to think of And I often, but I've often thought of it as like, oh, maybe I struggle with love because I didn't have much to be forgiven of and other people have and, but that's not what that scripture says. The scripture is saying, he who loves much, or he who has been forgiven much loves much, and the idea is that we all have been forgiven like that man who owed the ten thousand talents to that ruler. We are not the other one, we are the one that owes the unfathomable amount and so-- It's like 70 billion. Yeah whatever it is. Dollars equivalent or something. And the point is, is the one who recognizes how much he has been forgiven loves much. And that often-- Yeah. That has to be, you know, it says Jesus knows us, or he wants to know us, right? And we become known by confession, by transparency, by say, Lord this is who I am. And he already knows all, right, so, but he wants us-- To offer it. To offer it to him, like here is who I am, here's what I've done, here's how I think, change me, have it, you know. Right. Well it goes all the way back to the garden, right, when Adam and Eve sinned and they're hiding-- I know. And God's walking in the garden and says, where are you, it's not that he like, he lost them, he wasn't like, oh shoot, where'd they go? They ran away-- He wants them to reveal themselves. They got out of the cage. Like he wants us to have-- Recognize. That realization-- Yeah. Of our depth of need and that's what we call, I mean it's not just us calling it, but it's the full gospel, right? Yeah. Yep. The gospel is two parts, one I am extremely sinful, lost, and without hope, that's the first part. Then, so that's the bad news which makes, makes room for the good news, makes way for the good news which is, Christ has paid that price, he has brought you close, he has given you hope, he has saved you. And so if you can picture with me like a ramp that's going up, like if that's our view of God, the holiness of God, and then a ramp that's going down is our view of ourself, right, our view of our need and our depravity without Christ. The gap that it creates in between the top of the ramp and the bottom of the ramp, I'm looking, it's like a big PAC-Man thing, and that gap is the need for our savior. So the greater view of God the lower view of ourselves, the greater the need for a cross, or Christ, to fill that gap to make, and so that makes much of Christ, right? And less of us. And so if you-- Yeah. And less of us, and so it makes for a really big cross. So if minimize God's holiness we minimize our sin, we have a tiny Jesus. We have an impotent Jesus. Yeah. Right and so that's, that's how I think we overcome that fear and realize like, this fear that I have of being rejected is no match to the fear that I have without Christ, but I've been given Christ. Praise God. I have identity with him and therefore I can be transparent with you trusting that my identify is secure in him regardless of what happens here and he will work it for my good, right, Romans 8:28. Thanks for preaching the gospel man. We, you know, that's been on our hearts more is just more and more preaching of the gospel, we just, we need people to recognize that we are sinners-- Yes. And we are retched and we deserve nothing and yet God loved us so much he sent his son to save us if we believe in his name, you know? Changes everything. Oh yeah. So I wanna ask you a last question before we close in prayer. In your own words-- Sure. What is a marriage after God? I'd say a marriage after God is one that is obviously Christ-centered and is transparent and unified and on mission to make his name great. Praise God. You just used all the buzz words right there. There you go. I've been keeping notes. Buzz words are good, yeah. No, I fully agree with that. I think on mission is key, but the thing, that's a really loaded statement, right-- Yeah. When you're on mission that means so many different things. Transparency is one of those things, being unified in mission is one of those things. Self sacrifice. So. The gospel-- Yes. All of that. Yes. Yeah, Christ-centered and on mission and because of that transparent in all, all of the above so. Amen. So hopefully that answered the question. Yeah. Yeah no it's great. Thank you guys so much for being with us today this has been incredible. I just know that our listeners are walking away today with a lot to think about and hopefully feel inspired. Where can they follow you guys if they wanna hear more from you? Thank you guys, you guys are amazing, you've been a resource to us since day one. Yep. And it's just, man, we love. I love how the Bible just pours out of you guys. Yes. So good. Thank you. Even though we live five hours away I feel like, I feel like that's not an excuse, we should hang out a lot more. So it's on the record now you guys. Right. We'll see you this year. As far as resources go, we just, we have books at, and,, just devotionals. We also have our podcast, The Fierce Marriage, podcast, so if people want us they'll find us. Yeah, just Google, Fierce Marriage, they're everywhere. Yes. There you go. Yeah, you guys have been doing this almost as long as we have, huh? No, you guys are the original gangsters. Yep. You guys were in like three or four years, before and Jen's the original gangster. Yeah Jennifer is, yeah. It has been awhile. Awesome. So Jennifer why don't you pray for us and then we'll close out. Okay, dear Lord we pray we would be husbands and wives who pursue intimacy with you. We pray we would make ourselves known to you and known to each other. Help us to walk with each other in an understanding way and to love unconditionally. Thank you for the gift of oneness in marriage and what it represents. We pray we would operate as one every day in our marriage relationship. Holy Spirit continue to empower us to do so. Help us to be transparent with one another. Help us to be great listeners as well. May truth be exposed and may your presence be evident in our lives. Thank you for marriage and thank you for salvation. You are a good God and we love you. May our hearts align with yours as we chase boldly after you and pursue a marriage that reflects your love story. In Jesus' name, amen. Amen. Amen. Amen. Thank you everyone that's been listening to this episode. We love the Fredericks and we'd love for you to go check them out at their podcast, The Fierce Marriage podcast. And also get their books. Yeah. Their books are really good. And so, thanks for listening. We have a bunch of more episodes, a bunch of more interviews coming up in the coming weeks so please stay tuned. We'll see you next week. [Announcer] Did you enjoy today's show? If you did it would mean the world to us if you could leave us a review on iTunes. Also if you're interested you can find many more encouraging stories and resources at, and let us help you cultivate an extraordinary marriage.

 MAG 02 - The War On Our Effectiveness w/ Dale + Veronica Partridge From Real Christianity | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 00:35:37

Order Your Copy Of Marriage After God Today! We interview Dale + Veronica Partridge from Real Christianity Podcast Quote From Marriage After God Chapter 2: The War On Your Effectiveness "If the enemy can get you to question the things that you know to be true, then he can get you to doubt what you are doing." - Aaron & Jennifer Smith, Marriage After God “If the devil can divide you and your spouse, then he can conquer your marriage, stripping away your effectiveness for God” - Aaron & Jennifer Smith, Marriage After God Dear Lord, We pray nothing would hinder our effectiveness in ministering to each other in marriage. We also pray nothing would hinder our effectiveness in sharing the gospel in this world. We pray you would defend us against the enemy. We pray his plans to divide us and destroy marriage would not prevail. Protect us from the enemy’s schemes! Thank you for equipping us with armor so that we can stand firm in our faith. We pray our flesh would not get in the way of our effectiveness. Help us to have self-control and walk in wisdom. If we do experience attacks or hardships may you be our strength, hope, and endurance to run this race with perseverance. If our flesh does hinder us may we confront our sin and repent so that we may be vessels of your glory as we share with others the power of salvation in our lives. We submit our marriage to you and ask that you Use us to do all the wonderful things you have prepared for us to do. May your name be glorified. In Jesus’ name, amen! READ: [Aaron] Hey we're Aaron and Jennifer Smith with Marriage After God. [Jennifer] Helping you cultivate an extraordinary marriage. [Aaron] And today we're in part two of the Marriage After God series and we're gonna be talking with Dale and Veronica Partridge about The War On Our Effectiveness. Welcome to The Marriage After God podcast, where we believe that marriage was meant for more than just happily ever after. [Jennifer] I'm Jennifer also known as Unveiled Wife. [Aaron] And I'm Aaron also known as Husband Revolution. [Jennifer] We have been married for over a decade. [Aaron] And so far we have four young children. [Jennifer] We have been doing marriage ministry online for over seven years through blogging and social media. [Aaron] With the desire to inspire couples to keep God at the center of their marriage. Encouraging them to walk in faith every day. [Aaron] We believe that Christian marriage should be an extraordinary one. Full of life. [Aaron] Love. [Jennifer] And power. [Aaron] That can only be found by chasing after God. [Jennifer] Together. [Aaron] Thank you for joining us on this journey as we chase boldly after God's will for our life together. [Jennifer] This is Marriage After God. [Jennifer] Thank you everyone for joining us today. We just wanna take a moment and just encourage you to leave us a review. That's just one way that you can support this podcast and get the message out about the podcast that helps other people find the Marriage After God podcast and it's real quick, you just gotta leave a star rating review, or you can leave a comment review which always encourages us. [Aaron] Also we just want to encourage you to get a copy of our new book, Marriage After God. It's what this entire series is based on and we'd love for you to read through that as a couple. You can go to and support us in that way. [Jennifer] So today we have Dale and Veronica Partridge, which are some of our closest friends, thank you for being here. [Veronica] Hi thanks for having us. [Dale] We are excited. [Veronica] We're excited, [Veronica] To be here. [Dale] Yeah, this is, I think ten years in the making. [Veronica] Just about. [Dale] In terms of our relationship. [Aaron] This episode. [Aaron] Oh relationship I gotta. [Dale] This episode probably, too, I guess. [Jennifer] Awesome, well, could you just take a minute, and just introduce yourself to everyone listening. [Dale] Yeah, I'll start here. We've been married, next week, will be nine years, and together-- [Aaron] On Valentines day. [Dale] On Valentine's Day. [Veronica] That's right, on Valentines day. [Dale] We got married on Valentine's day. Long story short, but we didn't intend to get married on Valentine's Day. It just happened which is, again, part of a bigger story that we'll have to tell later. But, yeah, we got three kids, five, three and one. And we are in ministry. Also, we run a podcast, and house church, and are in the thick of it in terms of trials in 2018. And it seems that they're bleeding into this year as well. So, it's something that we're excited to share about, and talk about what it's like to be in ministry, and also suffer persecution, and resistance, and illness, and some of the things that come with it. [Jennifer] So, could you just mention a little bit more about your guys' podcasts? Just, I'm sure people listening have already either been listening, or have known about it, but just in case they haven't, share a little bit about it. [Veronica] Yeah we have a podcast. It's called Real Christianity. Where Dale and I talk about all aspects of walking the Christian life. [Dale] Yeah and I think it's, we really try to come at it from a biblical perspective. I'd say that the number one review that people leave is that it's just bold, and they don't have that many places I think that, the number one crossover, is your guys' podcast. So everybody, you'd go just scroll to the bottom and it's like suggested podcasts, and it's Marriage After God. And so I think people are really looking for truth. Not watered down truth delivered gently, but truth. And I think that's what makes the episode, or the podcast little bit different. [Aaron] Awesome. [Jennifer] Awesome. Well we're excited to get to hear that boldness on this episode with you guys, and, yeah, we're just excited to jump in. [Aaron] So here's an icebreaker question, I don't know if Veronica has read this beforehand. It's, what do you think is one thing that your spouse likes best about you? [Dale] We can. [Veronica] This is a family show right? What do I think Dale likes best about me? I think he likes that I'm a submissive wife. [Jennifer] Oh wow bold. [Veronica] And not in a bad way, like. [Jennifer] That's good. [Dale] She is, she's incredibly humble and [Jennifer] Supportive. [Dale] Supportive, and she plays that helpmeet role that the Bible talks about, naturally. It's not something that she actually has a fleshly thing against. She really, the Lord has blessed me with that, in terms of just a wife who just falls into that role really well. And the evidence of that, is that she's been able to, you know, teach our daughter what that looks like, and teach some of the other women, who might not naturally fall into that, just by her example. [Jennifer] Wow, as in our own friendship, Veronica. you've been a huge testament to me, of what it looks like, and an encouragement, so, [Veronica] Thank you. [Jennifer] Yeah, I can say yep. [Dale] It's a ministry. [Veronica] Praise God. [Jennifer] Yep. And yeah Dale, what does she like about you Dale? [Veronica] What do I like about you? [Dale] What do you like about me? I think I would say vision, the ability to tell us as a family where we're going, to understand through the lens of Scripture. [Veronica] Yeah, give us direction. [Dale] And I would say joyful. [Veronica] Yeah, he is generally a very happy person. [Dale] Which I didn't know about myself really, until I was married. I just thought I was a normal person. [Aaron] Maybe you weren't joyful before you were married right? [Aaron] Dale's so much happier now. [Veronica] He's always been very happy, and joyful, and positive type of person to be around. [Dale] Yeah like in the morning I'm up, smiling, excited, jump out of bed, and Veronica is like-- [Veronica] I'm just more of a slow riser, need my time. [Dale] Give me a half hour. [Jennifer] Awesome, well, thank you for letting our listeners know a little bit more about who you guys are. We're gonna jump into a quote from this chapter, chapter two of Marriage After God. It says, if the enemy can get you to question the things that you know to be true, then he can get you to doubt what you are doing. [Aaron] Yeah and the reason we have this chapter in the book, The War On Our Effectiveness, is because you guys are actively pursuing God, and his ministry for your life, and using your gifts and talents for him. And we are too, and our encouragement to everyone listening is that they would do the same, in whatever that looks, whatever that looks like. And when we do that, there's, well, even when we don't do it, there's something keeping us from doing it. keeping us from being effective for the kingdom of God. And one of them is our enemy, you know, the devil, confusing us and convincing us that things that are true are not true. And so, we just we hope in this episode, it's not too heavy, but we wanna show the realities of the things in this world, and in us, that are keeping us from doing what God wants us to do. [Jennifer] And what our response should be. [Aaron] Yeah, and then, but also to encourage us that, hey, we all, all of us get to fight the same war, and get to take ground for God, despite it. [Dale] Yep [Aaron] So, that's what I hope to get out of this episode. [Jennifer] Yeah, so, going back to that quote, and you know the enemy trying to get you to doubt you know what you're doing. Have you two ever wrestled with doubt about what God has you doing? And if you did, how do you navigate those times as a couple? [Veronica] I'd say yeah, definitely, especially within this last year of 2018 going into 2019. We pretty much said yes to full-time ministry in January of 2018 and, within that week, we just kinda had attack after attack after attack after attack. Do you wanna expand on that more babe? [Dale] Yeah I mean we have had so much resistance. The first response in your flesh is to go, I shouldn't be doing this. Maybe I should just stop doing ministry. [Veronica] Maybe this is a no. [Dale] Maybe this isn't what God wants us to do. And if that logic is true, then the Apostle Paul was outside of God's will, because his entire life was resistance. I mean, it's listed off in Second Corinthians, it's just like, yeah. [Aaron]Yeah right. [Dale] It is a, I think this year was a purifying of a true understanding of what the gospel really is, and what ministry really is. I wrote a scripture down, John chapter 9, verse 3, it's when the disciples are looking at this blind man that Jesus is about to heal. And everybody's coming up with their own ideas of why he's blind. And they asked the question like oh, so, was it him that sinned? Was it you know his parents that sinned? Is this a generational thing? Is this just like a curse on this man? Is he outside of the will of God? You know these are the types of questions that his disciples are asking, and he responds, neither this man nor his parents sinned. But that the works of God should be revealed in him. And so that the purpose of this man's blindness, his literal illness, at this point, was to glorify God. That he would be able to glorify God. Maybe in this specific moment, but maybe in other ways, post this moment. And so, that was a really, this is becoming, the natural reaction. Like in the book of Job, is that, oh we've done something wrong. The friend that's saying, oh maybe you've sinned, and you need to repent, or maybe you're not doing enough work for the kingdom. Maybe you're not reading your Bible enough. Like, what is it, why you guys are getting this many trials? And, just to go, hey you know what, we didn't do anything wrong. At this point in terms of, the Lord's happy with us, but it's that we would actually glorify God in our trials and our suffering, in our illnesses. [Aaron] Right. [Veronica] When we are weak he is made strong. [Aaron] Yeah I love that. So going, talking about this idea that there's a war on our effectiveness, you know, we're talking about ministry, we're talking about preaching the gospel, we're talking about living the Christian life, moving his kingdom forward, his will be done on earth as it in heaven, right? You're talking about trials, which could absolutely be one thing that makes us ineffective for God. But, it's not the trial that makes us ineffective. What, would you say, is the thing that makes us, because we all go through trials. That doesn't necessarily mean we're being ineffective, but we can be made ineffective in the trial if, what happens if we, how we respond to that that makes us ineffective? [Dale] I mean, I think that, just, there's so many ways that you can fall away from the truth. And, you know, we need to be walking. It says, I believe it's in Galatians, you will not fulfill the desires of the flesh, or walk in the spirit you will not fulfill the desires the flesh, and I think that when you get beaten down in your flesh, from illness, from trial, from emotional strain, if you don't stick into the truth, I'm talking labor over it, let it pour and wash your mind with it, it's really easy that you'll lose your effectiveness, because you're walking in your flesh and not in your spirit. [Veronica] You become so discouraged that, yeah, if you are walking in the flesh you almost just kinda give up. [Dale] You live in your emotions. You live in worry. You live in discouragement. You live in pain. And without the truths perspective on those emotions, you'll fall apart. And so, it's a constant replacing the lies of the enemy with the truth of God. And that is a practice that I say you need to do before the trials come. You don't build a defense you know when the attacker-- [Aaron] During the battle yeah. [Dale] When the attacker is there. You need to be prepared for that, and that's something that we've wished we did more of, but you know it's training, training for these times. [Jennifer] So what would you say for all those listening, are some practical ways you can do that. Getting into the word. What did your guys' daily life look like? [Dale] Go for it. [Veronica] Currently? [Jennifer] Um-hm. [Veronica] For us with just being attacked and attacked we've been so worn down. We've been having to say no to a lot of things. Way, I mean we were generally very much yes people when it came to having people over, going out, just, we like being with people, and so having to say no a lot has been very norm, our new normal. Sticking to our routines, making sure we're getting to bed on time, and then just making sure we're in the word, as well. [Dale] And we're praying together and keeping a consistency there. I think that, you know, the Ephesians six chapter, verse on you know the armor of God. It's one of these, you almost like think of it as, oh what a really cool metaphor. When life starts to get real hard, that doesn't, it loses its metaphorical sense, and you go, I'm gonna make this very real in my life and I'm gonna read that passage just real quick. Not the whole thing but just the idea. He says in Ephesians six, 10 through 13, he says finally, my brother, be strong in the Lord and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, this is a command that he's saying right there. Put it on. [Aaron] Yeah the believer puts it on. [Dale] You gotta put it on. It's not just sitting over there in the corner. That you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. And, in other words, if you don't put it on, you won't be able to stand against them. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of darkness of this age. Against spiritual hosts of wickedness in heavenly places. This is clarity. It's really easy to go, what am I doing wrong? Why like why is this person mad at me? Why is this trial happening? Why are we fixing this thing in our church right now? I can't believe they think that about us, like you can easily make this thing about an earthly matter. Like, oh, I didn't exercise enough, I didn't eat right enough, like, whatever it is. [Aaron] Yeah. [Dale] That's causing that. Verse 13, it says, therefore, take up the whole armor of God that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all to stand. And then he ends this little section a couple verses later, and he says, for which I am an ambassador in chains. And he's meaning that literally. This is one of the prison epistles of Paul. [Aaron] Yeah, he's literally in house arrest. [Dale] So you put this little picture together, and you go, this guy says put on the armor of God, yet this dude is straight-up persecuted and in chains. And, so it's not like put on the armor of God, then everything's gonna be great, prosperity gospel here we come. Life's good, I'm going to the beach. [Aaron] Yeah. [Dale] It's put on the armor of God, and boom, I'm in jail. And so, it's a pretty interesting, counterintuitive thing to think about. [Aaron] Veronica what are some of the things that you guys, 'cause they're listening, they're hearing that you guys are going through trials, and attacks, and stuff. Would you guys just list some of the things that you guys have been going through, not that it makes you special, because, the Bible tells us that we are all going to go through trials, that there will be suffering in this world. You guys just currently happen to be going through quite a bit in your life, and I wanna talk about something about that, after that, but would you guys just share what you mean by these things? [Veronica] Yeah, so, literally, like I said earlier, the week we entered ministry, last in January of 2018, we got hit with influenza hard. [Aaron] It's like months wasn't it? [Dale] Like hospitalization. [Veronica] It was 21 days. 21 days of a fever in our house, Jen took me to the hospital at one point to see if had pneumonia. And during that time, my son, my youngest, was six months old, so I pretty much completely lost my milk supply, because I was so sick. After that, the next month, all of our kids got RSV, which is a terrible respiratory virus. One of our children has asthma, so this was before we knew he had asthma. So he ended up in the emergency room probably three times within that sickness, just because he could not breathe. [Aaron] Those were scary moments. [Dale] Um-hmm. [Veronica] Yes. We got the stomach flu for two weeks, you know, kind of scattered throughout everybody. Then our second son was diagnosed with asthma, because he is continuing to have these asthma attacks. You had skin cancer, I was bit by, likely, a tick, and contracted Lyme disease, and so, that's something new that we're navigating. The week after I got bit by the tick, we had a miscarriage. [Dale] Then Veronica came down with appendicitis in the middle of the night, I had to rush her to the hospital, the antibiotics from the Lyme actually prevented her from, the surgeon and didn't have to take it out. After that, I passed a kidney stone for the first time in my life which was, it was so painful, that I called an ambulance on the way in, someone was driving me, to see if they could give me some sort of pain relief, just to get to the hospital. And then. [Veronica] We almost had a fire evacuation, the day Jen gave birth to Truitt, cause I'm trying to run out to the hospital to be with you, but at the same time I'm like. [Dale] Yeah, that was like a raging fire. [Veronica] Grab that, grab that because there's a fire, just a few streets over from our street. [Dale] Our son almost drowned in a pool. [Veronica] Our youngest son almost drowned. You had bronchitis, or you had a cold that turned into bronchitis, and they were also checking you to see if you had pneumonia. [Dale] And then we got I came down with gastritis. [Veronica] Gastritis, and that's been months of-- [Dale] It's just been tough, it's been a-- [Veronica] Being healed. [Aaron] Tough's a little, a little light of a word. [Jennifer] I know I feel like everyone's just thinking back right now, taking the weight of what all that means. [Veronica] And that's, yeah, that's not everything, just last week our daughter, you know, our daughter had a cavity, and I was supposed to take her in to just to get that filled, and then, when I go to take her in, all of a sudden, literally within a week and a half of the last time we were there, it became infected, so they had to pull her tooth out, which was unexpected. And not that that was like a big tragedy, but it was just like one more thing, I'm just like, oh okay, so we're dealing with my daughter getting her tooth pulled out today. [Aaron] Well a lot of those smaller things, they are much larger when they're compiled with all of the other things. Now, in this season, 'cause you're still in some of this. [Veronica] Yeah, we just had the stomach flu last week. [Aaron] So, you know, but I'm thinking about like the bigger things, like you're still dealing with Lyme, and you probably gonna have that the rest of your life, and you guys are spiritually, and mentally, and emotionally navigating that stuff, and has there been times in over the last year and a half that you thought to yourselves, God we're doing all this for you, why is all this happening? Like these questions of like, almost well, like we don't deserve this? [Veronica] Yeah I actually just said those words to Dale yesterday. I was crying because I had already known that, we've already kind of known that I have Lyme, but to get the final diagnosis, I just got that yesterday. And so we kinda knew that but it also came back with, I also have a co-infection, which we didn't expect, and so I was emotional, and I was upset about it. And I told Dale, I was like, don't you think we've gone through enough? Like haven't we gone through enough? Why is this happening? And then I just have to take a step back, and be, like you know, I have to have a bigger picture perspective right now. It's not, this isn't happening to me, it's, something is going on to glorify God. I don't maybe necessarily know what that looks like right now. [Dale] The thing that I'm learning, is that you can't yearn for heaven, if the place that you're staying is great. And, that's been something that we've, when you read the passage in Revelation about, that all the tears will be wiped away, and there'll be no more pain and no more suffering. That doesn't really hit you, when you're on the beach in Hawaii and things are great. But it does hit you, when you're sick in bed, and you're just trial, after trial, after trial, and so. [Veronica] And not only just sick in bed, but we have three little kids. Like our oldest just turned five last month, and so we have three of them, and they're all very needy you know, you guys have young kids. They all still very much need us, and so being sick and dealing with our own trials, on top of just taking care of the day-to-day of being a parent, it can be exhausting. [Dale] Yeah, so it is just a hard, it's like the Lord is ripping out every false part of the gospel that we've ever believed, and telling us what it really is. It's it's not about prosperity or comfort, or blessing, or healing, and those things, they're in there, but the gospel is sent, the central part of the gospel is to glorify God, but it's sanctification, it's holiness, it's witness, it's eternity. Like these are the elements of it. Because, you know, and it needs to be universal. This gospel must apply worldwide. And when you have people that have cancer, and have AIDS, and have that are kidnapped, and taken away, and martyrs, you know that gospel's gotta to be true there, as well as it is on the guy that's sitting on the beach in Hawaii. And so it's just a, there's a quote, I forgot who said it but it says, it goes along the lines of, Jesus, it's hard to understand that Jesus is all you need, until Jesus is all you have. And that is where I think we've been, is it, you just go, oh, Lord like, I feel like it's the only thing I have on certain days, and so-- [Veronica] Totally I completely agree with that, and there have been definitely moments within this last year, where I am like, I need to read my Bible, like I need that time with him. Like, I need God, I need Jesus, and I need his Holy Spirit to speak to me through the word, just to get me through this day. Because, it really has been all we have many moments throughout this last year. [Jennifer] I wanna commend you guys, because for that list that you just gave us of everything that you've walked through in this last year. I mean, pick one, and everyone listening would be like, that's hard enough to make me ineffective, like, I, that's hard, and yet through as you're listing these things, I'm thinking on my end of all the times you guys still showed up for us. Served us, gave us, you know, meals, when I was postpartum with Truitt, or you know, just, you were there, and not just for us, but for a lot of people in the community. And, I just wanna say thank you, that despite the hard things that you guys have been through, you still live your life biblically, and through serving, and I think that's bold. [Veronica] The only through the strength that the Lord's given us. It's the only way we are able to do these things. [Dale] Yeah thank you I mean it's we teach, one is that we don't wanna become hypocrites, and so we've when you you read the word and you teach these things you see that Jesus did so much while suffering. And participatory community is difficult, it's difficult when it's when everything's good and so we've, we teach that, and I think the Lord's brought us through a season of going, well do you really believe it? [Aaron] Yeah, I mean, it just shows that God loves us. That he's willing to let us go through trials, and that he tests our faith. The Bible teaches us that, he tests us. And not unlike how we test our children. We give them opportunities to act a certain way, to believe a certain way, to respond a certain way. And so you know we're talking about trials currently, things that we have no control over, right? And how they could make us ineffective and, by what you said, if we're walking in the flesh, those trials will definitely make us ineffective 'cause we will crumble under them. You know that test, we'll fail it. But it sounds like if we, and the Bible teaches us this, if we walk in the spirit, we are not gonna gratify the desires of the flesh, and we can actually become more effective, by allowing the trial to do what it's meant to do. Sharpen us, train us, refine us. [Jennifer] And glorify God. [Aaron] And glorify God. So what are some other ways that the enemy tries to make us ineffective for the kingdom of God as in our marriages, like, what are some things, that if they're unchecked and if we're not aware, could totally destroy our effectiveness, remove us from what God is doing in us and through us? [Dale] I mean, I think about, the enemy is all about division. And we know that that's just the chief element and you know, Jesus says in John 17, Father I pray that they are one as we are one, so that the world may know that you sent me. And so just the his desire is unity in his church in his bride. And, in marriages, oneness, and the two shall become one flesh. And so there's just this division element of marriage that, when we become divided, it is, I think, a tactic of the enemy, how does a wolf catch a sheep? He divides them. [Aaron] Yeah. [Dale] From the flock. And so you know us keeping a really close communicate, you know what, it's not really exciting to talk to your spouse when things are all bad. And so, it's really hard to actually wanna go and have a conversation about our crappy life. Like that's how it feels like you know? Hey, let's go talk about this bad thing right now. And so, keeping a discipline, and I've always defined discipline as doing things you don't necessarily like, because it's something that's right. And so we have a discipline just to go I ask her several times a day how you doing? And sometimes she just gives me the quick answer, but sometimes she'll give me the full answer. And, so we work hard to try to stay unified. If we fight, get in a tiff, and we don't fight that often, this year's been harder, because it's just a harder year, but if we do get in an argument, we always pray. 'Cause if you can't pray together with your spouse after you're done arguing, then you're not unified. And, so there's things like that that we do, that we work hard to be unified. And then, I also I don't know if you wanna talk about just, community. Just making sure that we're in community with other people, not just ourselves but. [Veronica] Yeah, I think that's been a really important aspect for us this last year. Proverbs 18:1 says a man who isolates himself seeks his own desire, and it's very easy to want to isolate when you've gone through everything that we've dealt with this last year. But, we're making sure that we are in community in daily talking to somebody in our church, and then also, looking into the, looking to the needs of the body, in the people in our church, and ministering to them in the ways that we can, because it takes the focus off of us, and it actually helps you work into some, work in somebody else's life, and minister to them, and glorify God. And it gives you perspective, as well, of whatever is happening in your own circumstances. [Jennifer] Gosh, that's really good. Thank you guys so much for sharing that. So, how would you encourage those listening right now, to say yes to God, despite knowing that there will be opposition, despite knowing that hard circumstances will come, how do they, how can they say yes to God and, you know, have that courage to continue on, to keep serving people, to keep loving? [Veronica] I think you need to take a step back, and have a bigger picture perspective. Because, if you're stuck and you're focused on your current circumstances and trials come, it's really hard to get through. You need to put on the whole armor of God and have an eternal perspective. [Dale] Kingdom perspective. [Veronica] Legacy. [Dale] There's like multi-generational, like thinking about the kingdom of heaven. [Veronica] Like, yeah, I'm looking back at this last year I'm like, you know how many more people we're able to minister, and relate with, and empathize with, because we walk through so many different things in such a short amount of time. Yeah, I mean, God's gonna be glorified no matter what. [Dale] I think about, you know, there's a passage in scripture that the Lord, I feel like, delivered to me. I was praying and asking for a scripture, and I was like God you need to give me something. I was like in tears, and I flip open my Bible, and I put my hand down straight on Second Corinthians 12:9 through 10. And it's the verse of Jesus' reply to Paul after begging for his trial to leave him, and he says my grace is sufficient for you. My strength is made perfect in weakness, and he ends that section with, for when I am weak, then I am strong. Jesus' kingdom is counter-intuitive. Who's first? The one that's last. Who's strong? The one that's weak. And so, our perspective right now, is that we are the most effective we've ever been in ministry. Yet, we are the weakest we've ever been, and that is the, that perspective is so opposite of what our flesh wants to think. The alternative, for those that are worried about going into ministry because of trials, and or because of you know opposition, or because you might be persecuted for standing up for truth, I just go, I always tell people, what's the alternative? We have to remember that we are the beneficiaries of God's obedience, like, being obedient to God's Word. Not God, like, it's actually for the safest and the most joyful place that we'll be, is in God's will, under his word and under his ways. And I just go, you know, if you think being obedient is hard, try being disobedient. Try being outside of God's will. See what that feels like. [Aaron] Well yeah, and even if disobedience makes us more comfortable temporarily, it eternallydamns us, like we don't want that. We want to be with our Father in heaven right? I love that, so the idea is that our perspective, the encouragement to those listening, is have a heavenly perspective. Like the picture is not about us, it's that we're a part of what God's doing in this world, and he's invited us to be a part of that. And when we say yes to God, it doesn't mean you know butterflies and rainbows, for some it might, but it means effectiveness for the gospel, it means that we are obedient, wherever that leads us. And to some, it's much more suffering than others, and for some, it's much more prosperity than others. That's why, you know, we don't believe in the prosperity gospel, because it's not universal. But that doesn't mean some might not have, might have prosperity or not. [Dale] Sure. [Aaron] That's not how the gospel works. It's God's providence it's what God wants, and saying yes to him is the best thing we can do. [Dale] I mean, Paul, [Aaron] Yeah, trusting him. [Dale] Paul talks about that he's been in times of abundance and times of very little and we have to remember. [Aaron] We learn to be content in both. [Dale] Be content both, and we've been that way too we've had abundance and we've had the place that we're at now. But we we always like to pick our Bible character and go yeah that's like me. And I go I like to remind people, well, you know that 11 of the 12 apostles were martyred, right? You know that, like, the, all the prophets, not all, many of the prophets are martyred for standing for God's truth. Jesus himself is killed. The idea is that, do we really want to be like these people? Do you really identify with John the Baptist? You know, do you really identify with James and Thomas who was said to be crucified in India? [Aaron] Or Stephen stoned in public. [Dale] Or Stephen you know and so these are, I think that the gospel that we have in America, or in some of the developed countries, we've become so comfortable, and that's why the church has actually diminished. And where are you seeing the church growing? Wherever there's the most suffering. And so Afghanistan, Iran, you know, Brazil, parts of middle of the Middle East. [Aaron] North Korea, China. [Dale] North Korea, Southeast Asia, and so I think that there is a turning of the tide that's occurring here, that there is a political persecution, for sure, and we're seeing this. And so, yeah, your fear of effectiveness, well, the big question is, are you willing to stand for truth? I think that's the big thing that couples have to think about in their marriage going forward. [Jennifer] I think that's a great question for them to talk about. So, the last question that we have for you guys is, in your own words what is a Marriage After God? [Dale] You wanna read it? I have a little note here that I wrote down. It's a quote we say all the time so it's not an awkward thing. [Veronica] Yeah, we say it in our own podcast pretty frequently. It's two people who love God more than they love each other. [Jennifer] Perfect. [Aaron] Concise, I love that. And it's true, and when you love God and you wanna say yes to him, we're gonna receive, like just like a son with a good father. Like, we're gonna receive whatever our father has for us and we're gonna be okay with it. And you know we just wanna thank you guys for joining us, the insights, and you guys sharing vulnerably this season you're in, and how you guys are still pursuing God and not just turning your faces away from him, because he's not giving you what you deserve. Because, luckily, we don't get what we deserve, and he gives us grace instead. So, we just wanna thank everyone for listening today, and we want everyone to take a moment and go check out the Real Christianity podcast. Just go search for them that's Dale and Veronica's podcast. We love them, you're gonna be totally encouraged by the boldness, and the scripture, and just the way they are trying to share their life with the world and, yeah, so we're gonna close in prayer, and, yeah, you wanna pray first, Jennifer? [Jennifer] Dear Lord, we pray nothing would hinder our effectiveness and ministering to each other in marriage. We also pray nothing would hinder our effectiveness and sharing the gospel in this world. We pray you would defend us against the enemy. We pray his plans to divide us and destroy marriage would not prevail. Protect us from the enemy's schemes. Thank you for equipping us with armor, so that we can stand firm in our faith. We pray our flesh would not get in the way of our effectiveness. Help us to have self-control and walk in wisdom. If we do experience attacks or hardships, may you be our strength, hope, and endurance, to run this race with perseverance. If our flesh does hinder us, may we confront our sin, and repent so that we may be vessels of your glory, as we share with others the power of salvation in our lives. We submit our marriages to you, and ask that you use us to do all the wonderful things you have prepared for us to do. May your name be glorified, in Jesus name, Amen. [Aaron] Amen. [Veronica] Amen. [Aaron] So, we just wanna thank everyone for listening today. This is part two of the 16 part series for our book, Marriage After God. Please go pick up a copy of our book today, you're not gonna want to miss out on this book. It's, and also, stay tuned we have 14 more episodes and 14 more interviews, so, we'll see you next week. [Aaron] Did you enjoy today's show? if you did, it would mean the world to us if you could leave us a review on iTunes. Also, if you're interested, you can find many more encouraging stories and resources at and let us help you cultivate an extraordinary marriage.

 MAG 01: God's Purpose For Your Marriage - Interview w/ Cody + Stacy Mehan | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 00:41:53

Quote From Marriage After God Chapter 1: God’s purpose for marriage “Marriage is and always will be an earthly symbol of a heavenly truth.” -- Cody and Stacy are not only some of our closest friends they also attended our Marriage After God Gathering, which that gathering became a catalyst in us writing the Marriage After God Book! -- Dear Lord, Thank you for marriage and thank you for creating it with intentionality and with purpose. May we walk humbly with each other as we choose to actively fulfill this purpose. May we be husbands and wives who know confidently how you are using marriage to reflect your perfect love to this lost world. Mature us, o Lord, and use us to encourage growth in each other so that we continue to be more and more fruitful. We pray others would see the fruit of Your Spirit in our lives. May our obedience to live out all that you have commanded impacts our marriage, impacts our families and impacts this world in an extraordinary way. May we be faithful servants who build your kingdom and not our own. May we say yes to you to participate in all of the wonderful opportunities you invite us to do for you. Give us courage and fill our heart with strength as we chase boldly after you, together. In Jesus’ name, amen! READ: [Aaron] Hey, we're Aaron and Jennifer Smith with Marriage After God. [Jennifer] Helping you cultivate an extraordinary marriage. [Aaron] And today we're going to be in part one of the Marriage After God series. And we're gonna be talking with Cody and Stacy Mehan about God's purpose for our marriage. Welcome to the Marriage After God podcast where we believe that marriage was meant for more than just happily ever after. [Jennifer] I'm Jennifer, also known as Unveiled Wife. [Aaron] And I'm Aaron, also known as Husband Revolution. [Jennifer] We have been married for over a decade. [Aaron] And so far, we have four young children. [Jennifer] We have been doing marriage ministry online for over seven years through blogging and social media. [Aaron] With the desire to inspire couples to keep God at the center of their marriage, encouraging them to walk in faith every day. [Jennifer] We believe that Christian marriage should be an extraordinary one, full of life. [Aaron] Love. [Jennifer] And power. [Aaron] That can only be found by chasing after God. [Jennifer] Together. [Aaron] Thank you for joining us in this journey as we chase boldly after God's will for our life together. [Jennifer] This is Marriage After God. [Aaron] Thank you so much for joining us on the first episode in this series. There's gonna be 16 episodes. We have 16 interviews coming your way. They're all powerful, they're all amazing, and we're excited for that. But we want to invite you to take a moment, if you have not already and leave a review. The reviews are how our podcast gets seen by new people. And so if you've enjoyed this podcast and you're excited about the upcoming interviews we have coming your way in the series, please leave a review, leave a star rating, and we'd really appreciate that. [Jennifer] Another way you can support this podcast is by shopping on our online store, And we just want to take a minute to highlight our newest book, Marriage After God. That's what this entire series on the podcast is based off of. And if you hear anything today or throughout the rest of the series that encourages you or inspires you, you're gonna want to get this book. So, go to and get more information on Marriage After God and order today. [Aaron] So, today on the first episode in our 16-week Marriage After God series, we are interviewing some of our best friends. Cody and Stacy Mehan, welcome to the show. [Stacy] Woo-hoo. [Cody] Hi, thanks for having us. We're super excited to be here. [Aaron] And you guys are super nervous, and that's OK. [Cody] We are. [Stacy] What are you even talking about? I'm not nervous at all. [Cody] We're slightly nervous really excited to be here, but yes we are nervous. [Aaron] Yeah and that's OK. It's good to be nervous, but don't be nervous. It's gonna be a fun conversation. And why don't you take a second before we get into the icebreaker question and just let us know how was the journey of you guys figuring out how you were gonna answer the questions, for this episode, 'cause you're nervous. [Cody] Great question, there's the icebreaker question right there. [Stacy] That's a good icebreaker. [Cody] Yeah, so. [Stacy] It was amazing! [Cody] Awesome, yeah so we were actually-- [Stacy] Super simple. [Cody] It wasn't simple. We prayed, got the questions out, got our bibles out, and we're really excited actually to walk through the, just to walk through and answer them together just so that we would be less nervous than we are and more prepared probably than we are. And it actually ended in conflict. [Aaron] Yeah it wasn't like a fun conversation. [Cody] It wasn't, no, we typically don't argue like this, but we argued through our responses disagreeing with each other. [Stacy] Because I was right. [Cody] And I was right. [Stacy] And so was Cody. [Cody] And so we were both right-- [Jennifer] You guys are so relatable, right off the bat everyone listening is going, Yup. [Stacy] Yeah. [Cody] So we went to bed, we woke up this morning, we prayed, and we actually that's really, we just prayed. We just asked God to forgive us. And we asked each other for forgiveness, and it was good. And so we actually got through the questions, probably not enough but we're excited that we're through it. [Aaron] It's OK the more candid, the better. But it's cool to know that the people listening are gonna be like, oh, they also fight. [Cody] We're normal [Aaron] And argue about spiritual things. [Stacy] Just a little bit. [Jennifer] I do love your guys' response to that conflict though right away you just decided, nope we're gonna pray about this and submit it back to the Lord. And I feel like that's key and I think that a marriage after God has that quality about them, so we're already encouraging people. [Stacy] Yeah, totally. [Aaron] So before we get going, why don't you introduce who you are, how long you've been married, kids, work, and how you know us. [Jennifer] And how many children you have. [Cody] Yeah I'll start. So again, Cody and Stacy, we have been married for fifth, 10 years, going on 10 years. [Stacy] 15. [Aaron] Were you gonna say 15 years? [Cody] I always say-- [Stacy] Almost 10 years. [Cody] 15 or 20 cause it's funny and she corrects me. So we've been married almost 10 years. We have three children, we are expecting one in, [Stacy] One in the oven, May. [Cody] March? April, May, this is perfect. [Stacy] March, May. [Cody] In May. [Stacy] April, tomorrow. [Cody] Yeah, it was just really exciting. And so yeah, married 10 years. We have three kids, one on the way, what else did you ask? [Jennifer] What do you for work? [Cody] What do we do for work? Yeah, it's really exciting. So our journey is amazing, we'll probably get into more of that. But as of this year I started a home building company and build custom houses which is really fun. And my lovely wife, I'll let you-- [Stacy] Which has actually been a dream of ours for our entire marriage. [Cody] Yeah, it's our dream that I'm doing and we're going to do it together. [Stacy] End up doing it together. And right now I am running a Young Living business and it is pretty awesome, super fun. [Aaron] Thriving? [Cody] It is thriving and awesome. [Stacy] It's thriving and I'm also obviously a mommy and a wife, taking care of our home. So I have lots of jobs. [Jennifer] Awesome. [Stacy] Just a couple. [Cody] Yeah, that's us. [Aaron] Awesome, and how did we meet? How did you guys meet us, 'cause this is a funny story. [Cody] Yeah this is a good story. You should tell this story. [Stacy] OK, so Rowan our first baby was six weeks old and we were walking downtown, just on a walk with another couple. And I saw this girl who I totally recognized but I could not figure out where I recognized her from. I'm like is she on TV? And we don't really watch a ton of TV so I couldn't figure it out. I'm like I know I've seen her somewhere, Babe, do you know her, who is that person? [Cody] So she, yeah, she points over to this couple. And multiple times says hey, I know them, hey, I know them, hey, I know them, and-- [Stacy] Eventually I figured it out. And I'd been doing this, [Cody] No what you did, what I did was I was like, Babe, go talk to her. [Stacy] Oh yeah, yeah. [Cody] That's what I said, right? I said go ask her how you know her. And you did and Jen's like, oh yeah, I-- [Stacy] I was like are you the Unveiled Wife? [Cody] Yeah it was really funny. [Stacy] She's like, yeah? So I was doing her first Devotional Wife After God and she had done YouTube videos for it. So I recognized her face, obviously. [Cody] And so she used to ask me weekly to go out of my office to watch these videos. And so then I would go into the living room and I'd listen so I knew Jen's voice. [Jennifer] Yeah, yeah. [Cody] Before I knew her face from the YouTube, yeah. [Jennifer] Well we're so grateful that you guys stopped us that day. And we had just moved to central Oregon and I thought we were moving to this small town. I didn't think anyone would know us or recognize us or anything like that. [Aaron] It didn't happen very often. [Jennifer] No. [Aaron] Like, rarely did someone recognize us back then. [Jennifer] So we were down in Drake Park and we were with The Partridges, Dale and Veronica at the time they had just moved up here too. And it was just a beautiful day, I remember. And you came up and your smile, everything about you is so memorable and we kicked it off. We were like friends immediately. [Aaron] The next night actually it was that day we got to know each other, then the next night we went to Dale and Veronica's for dinner. [Jennifer] Yeah, burgers. [Cody] And then hung out with you guys, yeah the Spees were there. [Aaron] So we should actually thank Dale and Veronica 'cause of their-- [Stacy] Thank you, Partridges. [Aaron] Consistency of, hey, let's just go hang out tonight. [Cody] And come over. [Stacy] They're so good at that, yeah. [Aaron] Well we are happy, we've been friends ever since. Like, good friends, like best friends. [Cody] Since that day, yeah. [Aaron] And so it was-- [Stacy] We like you guys. [Aaron] You were the first people we thought of when wanting to launch this Marriage After God series. We were like let's interview our best friends. [Cody] That's awesome. [Aaron] And so we're excited to talk to you guys. And we're excited to get into the heavy lifting questions, but let's do this first icebreaker question. Describe your favorite date night meal and dessert. [Cody] Do you wanna start? You want me to start? [Stacy] I don't know, you go ahead. [Cody] So, I would say our favorite date night is maybe long and we have time, like it's not a, typically when we're dreaming of our favorite date night, it's not a one-stop shop to get dinner. We like to go, like everything we do we get a coffee first, right? [Stacy] Yeah, start with coffee. [Cody] Afford the time. [Aaron] There's a process. [Cody] There's a process, right, we get a coffee, and then often we actually don't know where we're gonna go so we'll drive through downtown, circle-- [Jennifer] Look for the best spot. [Cody] Yeah, we talk about and then we go somewhere and-- [Stacy] It usually ends up-- [Cody] Pretty organic. [Stacy] Progressive. [Cody] Progressive, yeah, coffee-- [Stacy] Which I really like. [Cody] Dinner, I always order what I want. She typically doesn't like her meal and then-- [Stacy] Well because I like to try things-- [Cody] Will eat mine. [Stacy] I like to try new things and you're-- [Aaron] That sounds a lot like Jennifer. [Stacy] Super safe with meals-- [Cody] Yeah I'm really safe, I always go with what I know. [Stacy] You get what you know. [Cody] Or, or, actually I tell the waitress at least half the time [Stacy] Surprise me. [Cody] Yup, surprise me and it's always good. [Jennifer] Aaron does that kinda stuff. [Cody] Yeah, I love it. [Jennifer] That'd make me nervous. [Stacy] I'll do the surprise but whenever I get the surprise I never like it. But I like what Cody gets. [Jennifer] Instead of surprises I'd rather just order two or three things that I know I'm gonna like and try 'em all. [Aaron] Yeah try 'em all. She'll order something and she'll be like, Are you gonna get this one thing? I'm like, no, I was planning to get this. She's like, could you get this other thing so I can taste it? [Stacy] Yeah so we can actually try all of them. That's why it's good to go to dinner with-- [Cody] And then you get it and you like it, yeah. [Stacy] Yeah, that's why it's good to go to dinner with another couple. So you have four meals to choose from. [Cody] Yeah that's good, double date. [Aaron] Invitation accepted. [Stacy] So I don't think it necessarily matters what the food is but it's more like the company. [Aaron] And the experience. [Cody] Yeah, so progressive, does that answer all the questions? Yup, it was good. [Cody] OK, good. [Aaron] OK so Jennifer, why don't you read the quote that is just gonna kick off this section? From chapter one of the book Marriage After God. [Jennifer] Marriage is and always will be an earthly symbol of a heavenly truth. [Aaron] Which is the whole focus of this first chapter which is called God's Purpose for Marriage. And we were gonna talk about this today. We're not gonna come to the full conclusion on it. The goal is like hey, let's navigate this idea of the purpose that God has for our marriage. In this world, with each other. And so we're gonna just get in some questions with you guys. [Jennifer] Yeah so I thought it'd be fun to start with the opening chapter, what we open with in this chapter. Which is the gathering, the Marriage After God gathering, which you guys got to be a part of. [Cody] We did, yeah [Stacy] So fun. [Jennifer] You guys came to, so, what was going through your mind when you were sitting there as that guy-- [Aaron] Well real quick lemme give just a little bit of background on what the gathering is. In case the listeners aren't sure what that is. This book Marriage After God came out of a retreat-style event that Jennifer and I did several years ago, a few years ago. Where we got 12, 13 couples together and we went through all of these ideas of what God wants to do in our marriages and through our marriages. And Cody and Stacy were one of the couples. So just to give a little background so now you guys can answer Jennifer's question. [Cody] Yeah, do you wanna start there or you want me to? [Stacy] Well first if I can just say I love that you guys use the term gathering over some other terms that you could-- [Aaron] Retreat or conference. [Stacy] Or vacation, because it was intimate. I love that word because it is intimate when you have a gathering at your house. It makes way for intimate conversations, you get to know each other on a whole nother level. So I really loved that. What were we thinking when we got there? Let's go, let's learn something. [Cody] Yeah it was really, it was beautiful there. So the setting, have you described the setting? [Stacy] Go ahead. [Cody] Yeah so the setting is along the Metolius River here in Oregon. And it's just out in the middle of nowhere, it's quiet there's beautiful mountains. There's this amazing green pasture which I don't describe as good as Jen did in the first chapter of the book there. By the way I paused on that last night and thought about how creative your mind is when I read that. [Jennifer] Oh, cool. [Cody] But it was absolutely beautiful and just peaceful and there was how many, 12 couples? We all sat in this big room we got coffee or tea and we sat down. And I think what was really impactful for everybody there was that immediately, we had a manual, we said hi, we got to know each other, we introduced ourselves, but we opened the Bible. And we started with scripture, we started with prayer and then immediately just dove into our really healthy, heavy dose of scripture. And how it-- [Aaron] Do you remember what we read? [Stacy] Like we... [Cody] I don't. [Aaron] The first thing I read, wasn't it John 17? [Cody] Is that what it was? I think that rings a bell. [Aaron] Just talking about unity and being one with Christ, one with God, one with each other. [Stacy] Yeah. [Cody] Yeah, and I think the first night was foundation, was the foundation on the word of God, yeah. So it was a really, just kind of to answer that question, it was really awesome opportunity to get together with couples and it was intimate, and it was a gathering, and it was deep, and it was intentional. [Jennifer] Did you guys walk away from that event with anything on your minds? [Stacy] Oh yeah, totally. I think we left super excited. Well first, when you go anywhere and you have children and you have that opportunity to just be together and to dream together, which is something that we love to do. To dream together, to get in the word and just come back to that foundation and remember you know, God's purpose for our marriage. We walked away with ideas, excitement, ready to pursue what the Lord had for us. [Cody] Yeah. Yeah, I mean I think that was the big thing for us. We were walking in biblical community and spending time in the word and have ultimately a pretty good marriage with lots of things we work through. But the event really ignited what God could do, and wants to do, and desires to do in and through our marriage for His kingdom. So we left there with I would say kingdom-minded dreams. And then maybe a new way that we hadn't before. [Aaron] So do you feel like 'cause we're talking about God's purpose for marriages, what the first chapter's about, the idea's to open up the minds and the hearts of believers and say there's a way that you might not be thinking or seeing your marriage and it's a big picture. Did you come to the retreat with an idea that God had a purpose for your marriage? Or did that happen at the retreat? Did you leave with that idea? [Cody] Yeah, we definitely knew that God had purpose for our marriage. And we believe that and we're living it. I think that what the retreat did was offered an opportunity to think clearly and to really put on paper, and we gotta pray through it and read scripture through it. But just the opportunity to really think about God, what could you do through us? What are our strengths, what are our spiritual gifts, how are we gifted, how are we talented, and how, ultimately, can that be used for your kingdom? And you know, the more that we walk through these types of learnings like the retreat, we understand that we're really dynamic and we're a really good team and we really work well together. And oftentimes like today, like this morning, and last night we know that that's where the devil tries to kill and destroy our marriage. And so, we have to really protect that with prayer. [Stacy] Yeah, put on our armor. [Cody] Yeah, so we knew we had purpose in our marriage and it definitely ignited that and we're on the trajectory now, I would say. And that was definitely a course-changer for us. [Aaron] Awesome, and we've definitely seen the changes in your life and just the laser-focus of what's God doin', let's chase after that in our life. [Jennifer] So I just want to make a mention for those listening right now that, you've described this gathering that you guys got to be a part of and we still have so many great memories from that. But they might be sitting there going, well I wanna go, I wanna go do this thing. But that's, I wanna tell them, that's the reason we wrote Marriage After God. Because we knew we had to get this experience and the information that we covered and everything into a format that everyone could be a part of and everyone could read. [Aaron] And the book's much more concise and much more extensive in just this idea of what God wants to do with us and having a marriage after God. And so the event was a sleep of faith for us. Which we talk about in the book. And God took that yes, that we said to him, we said, yes, OK, we'll do this. That's scary, we've never done an event before. And then it was almost like God's like, OK, now that you did all the work, turn it into a book so other people can have it. 'Cause people've asked us about doing it and the amount of people that would like to do, we can't do it. We could, I guess. [Jennifer] Maybe in the future. [Aaron] But this book is just a way to get it in everyone's hands. So, you know you guys apparently already felt, had a feeling that God had a purpose for your marriage whether you knew what it was or not, just the backs of your minds and in your hearts. You're like OK, God can use our marriage, yeah he wants to do something. And then, going to this gathering kind of highlighted what it was and gave you a foundation to look at when chasing after God and this purpose. Do you think every marriage has a purpose in Christ? Like God has something for every marriage? [Jennifer] And is it the same for everyone, or is it different for everyone? [Stacy] Yeah, definitely believe that God has a purpose for every single marriage. I think that the journey and the path is gonna look different for every couple, 'cause we're not all created with the same qualities and giftings and all of that good stuff. But we all definitely have a purpose, it just looks different. [Aaron] That's awesome. [Cody] And I just have to second the yes. Yes, yes, yes God has a purpose for every Christian marriage, yes. And I think that to expand on what you said, the beauty in God creating us all differently and beautiful and in His image and giving us different spiritual gifts in the body of Christ that we're operating in is that our marriages do look different, you know? Stacy and I might have a different ministry than you do, but God definitely has a purpose in using the gifts and talents that he's given us. And the life that he's given us, and the kids that he's given us, and the parents, and just the walk of life that we have. We're all so different and that's just what makes the body of Christ beautiful that we get a tribute in different ways. [Stacy] Yeah, and there is such beauty when we're walking and the way that God has created us individually and our strengths and the things that we're weak in. For example, if I tried to walk in Jen's strength in writing, in our marriage that would create a lot of conflict. You'd try to support me in something that is not necessarily a gift of mine but I think there is such beauty in walking in our giftings and the way that God has truly created us. And I think that purpose plays out through those giftings. [Jennifer] So can you guys just take a minute to share how you guys work together as a team in your marriage to do ministry? Like what does ministry look like in your lives today? [Cody] Yeah, so ministry in our life today is I would say multi-faceted. We have kids, we have three kids and that's a big part of what we do is child rear and train them up in the way they should go and to follow the Lord. And so I think that a lot of our ministry is probably involved in that. In being with other parents and other kids and in our home and investing in our children. We're also outside of the house a lot. We have a lot of outside relationships with our businesses and being salt, being light, being an example of who Christ is through the way that we interact, and the way that we love, and the way that we give and elevate people higher than ourself. And so together in our marriage, I think that just the unity that we have in doing life together is probably the biggest part. Also we're an active part of our church. And we're an active part of that body and we give in many different ways there and serve there. [Stacy] And I think with that comes the clear mind of what the ministry is that way we're able to support each other. And what we need to do, and what we desire to do, and how we desire to minister to other couples or moms or dads. [Cody] Yeah, and we have other direct types of discipleship that we do just individually. Like I meet with guys weekly. I have a mentor that I meet with every week, I also have a younger man that I meet with and of course all the other men that I'm walking with spiritually. [Jennifer] That's awesome. And you know you had mentioned, Stacy, earlier about how if you had my gifting, Cody wouldn't be able to support you in that because it's not your gifting. So I love that you brought that up because something that I've seen in you, and you know this about yourself, but you're very good at hosting and being hospitable, and your love for people is so welcoming and inviting and, I mean even from that first week that we met you guys, you invited us to your house and you cooked this amazing meal, I still remember it. [Stacy] Oh that was good. [Cody] That was the meal I cut my finger off. [Jennifer] Yes Cody almost cut his finger off. [Cody] On the cheese slicer. [Jennifer] But after all these years-- [Aaron] How do you guys remember all that stuff? I'm trying to think of, I don't remember what we ate. What was it? [Jennifer] So I just want to encourage you guys that over the years that we both, Aaron and I have seen this play out in your marriage time and time again where you do have strengths and giftings and you do support each other well in them and a big part of your guys' ministry as a couple is just loving on those moms and dads, loving on other couples, and feeding them, not just good food, but feeding them the hope of Christ and what God's doing in your lives and talking about, hey what are you learning about? What's God been teaching you? And you're so good at that and I just wanted to highlight that because it's powerful. [Stacy] Thank you. [Cody] Yeah, thank you. [Aaron] So we were talking earlier about you guys knowing you had a purpose but not knowing what it was. But then also leaving the gathering that we hosted, the Marriage After God gathering with more focus and saying this isn't as ambiguous as we thought, God has a ministry for us, He has a mission for us, He has a purpose for our marriage not just for the world but also for our own benefit. How has recognizing that God's purposed your marriage for something more than just happily ever after, which is a phrase that we use in the book, how has that motivated you guys? How has it benefited your marriage just recognizing that there's a purpose? 'Cause you said earlier, Stacy, that when you know what the ministry is then you can work together toward it and help each other. So how have you seen benefits that recognizing, oh, we have a purpose, so how are we gonna walk in that? [Stacy] Yeah, well knowing and recognizing that you have a purpose is like having vision. [Cody] Yeah I was just gonna say that. [Stacy] Without vision people parish, so now walking away from that, we have a vision, we recognize what our purpose is. And even if we don't recognize the finite details of where we're going or what we're doing, we have this grand vision. And so I think it's enabled us to support each other better. It's impacted our marriage quite heavily because rather than working as individuals like we were I think before, it ended up working against each other in a lot of ways, we were able to come together and be unified with one purpose in mind and walk forward together, supporting each other and... [Cody] Yeah, yeah, no, that was great. And I would just agree with everything you just said and that in unity and our marriage and pursuing God together, the change was getting out of the weeds. And I think that We were really stuck in what was happening in our life, finances, bills, debt, jobs. [Stacy] What do we want to do with our lives. What jobs here? [Cody] All the things of life and the worries of the world and, when you can get above that and rise above that and understand that our purpose in our life is absolutely none of those things, those are just details, it really clears a path. I always say, I have to get out of the weeds or above the fog. And when we can have a vision in our marriage and really understand what God has called us to for his purposes, it makes the little details, the weeds, the fog, you just grunt through it because together, as a team, you understand that together you're going somewhere. And it's just the work in between to get there. And before, the day-to-day was the work and it was hard to see the vision and we didn't have a-- [Aaron] There was no end to the means, yeah. [Stacy] Right. [Cody] Yeah, It was what are we gonna do tomorrow? I dunno, you know, what about next week, I dunno. How are we gonna pay that off, who knows. And with biblical vision, then, of course when you submit to scripture, then the details of marriage and submission in marriage, and kids, and finances, those details just get worked out. [Stacy] Yeah, I think a lot of it for us as individuals too and I feel like lot of people can relate to this is taking ourselves out of the picture and not being so focused on our own needs and our own personal fleshly desires but... [Cody] But elevating each other. [Stacy] Yes, exactly. And being obedient and submissive to scripture and-- [Cody] Each other. [Stacy] Each other. [Cody] And Christ, yeah. [Aaron] Yeah, and when I think of purpose, it's like it's the end. Having the end in mind, having the goal in mind, having the purpose in mind, the direction, the plan, right? Helps, you were talking about the details, like all these things it used to be, we focused on the day-to-day and all these internal, our eyes were always looking inside the marriage. When you're fighting, when you're struggling, when you have marriage issues, when you have sin issues, when you're just going paycheck-to-paycheck. All of these things that keep our eyes inward. [Cody] Yeah, yeah. [Aaron] And what you're saying is once you recognized that the purpose is not inward, the purpose is heavenly, it's outwardly. The scripture that talks about seek the things that are above, it draws you out. Like instead of looking inward and you're not going anywhere and you even said when we were chasing our own things it was actually working against us, it's almost like the moment you have the goal in mind, not that just the details work themselves out, but also all the details work themselves in a way that make the end in mind the direction. So you're like oh, let's just change how we're treating each other because this isn't gonna address the direction we're going. Hey, let's just change how we're looking at our work because it's getting in the way of the direction we're going. And so everything just starts. Think about like electrons and when you put electric current through it it turns 'em all the same direction, right, like a magnet. And you just start all going the same direction and now as a team with that one purpose in mind, that one goal in mind you're just... and I'm just describing all the stuff for the listeners to recognize that if we don't recognize that God has a purpose for our marriage, if we don't recognize that there's an end in mind, then the means become the end and there is no direction. [Cody] That's right. [Aaron] We're just floating, we're just wandering, we're just drifting and we're just gonna go into chaos. But sounds like you guys were there and then boom, had this point of view, direction to look at and now you're starting to chase that and we've seen it. [Cody] Yeah, we're growing through that. [Jennifer] And I'd just like to mention that it's not like all those circumstances you know, having children, you mentioned debt, and finances and all of these things that you previously were really heavily focused on, it's not like all of a sudden you made a choice and all of of a sudden, those things disappear, or you used the term, I had to rise above it. You still have to navigate all of those things but-- [Aaron] You navigate 'em differently. [Jennifer] You navigate 'em differently and you navigate 'em according to what God wants in the direction and not just your own. [Cody] Yeah. [Stacy] Right, and I really like something that Aaron said, I'm probably not gonna say it exactly how you said it but you were just talking about the kind of perspective change in making it heavenly focused. And I know me as a person, when I see a change that needs to happen, what I wanna do is jump out of it completely. Like, I wanted Cody to quit his job and I wanted to move cities and jump ship and start fresh. [Cody] Start over. [Stacy] Totally. And I recognize that's not the answer a majority of the time, maybe that is the answer sometimes for some people, but it wasn't the answer for us. We had to walk through the muddy waters. And that was really, really good for our marriage. We've learned so much walking through those muddy waters and jumping ship wasn't gonna fix anything, but changing our perspective and having a heavenly perspective is what helped us to continue to move forward. [Cody] To say as to God, yeah. I mean yeah, that's why we have Uriah, right? And Islie and, the baby in your belly. [Stacy] Baby on the way. [Cody] Yeah, it's because we said yes to God, because you didn't want to have more kids. And part of our, a really pivotal part of our story was I went to a bible study with the fellowship that I'm currently at and it was incredibly pointed at sin and changing that day, that moment, that hour and leaving we prayed as men and we left that room a changed person. And I went home to my wife that night and I was encouraged by the other men. And I was gonna be held accountable to go and confess my sin to my wife, and I did. And God used that yes, to walk away and turn from my sin and confess it to my wife and repent. And ask for forgiveness. And through that, softened her heart for more children, and that's when we got pregnant with our second, Uriah. [Stacy] I feel like it might be actually really encouraging to our listeners if you share what that sin is and just explain to them because that is what softened my heart. [Cody] Yeah, so that Bible study we talked about sexual sin and lust and, specifically, pornography. And that was the confession that, as men, we were walking through. And so that was the confession that I had to make to Stacy that night that, if and when and how I had dabbled in that and to ask for forgiveness to change and I did. And God used that, and we got pregnant with Uriah that day, in fact, or whatever, the next couple days, however that works out, and so. [Aaron] Details. [Cody] Details. [Stacy] TMI. [Cody] And so praise the Lord for that, that was really awesome. [Stacy] And you know what's crazy is that I literally, after Rowan, did not want to have children for a good five years. I watched other parents around me who had big age gaps between their children, and I'm like that looks really nice, that looks so easy. They can still go to the gym, they can go to coffee shops when they want to. This selfish part of me really wanted that, I loved that idea. So Cody and I were very much against each other in our desire for more children and when that was gonna happen. And Cody coming to me and confessing one, his sin but also saying, babe, I have this strong desire for more children, like right away, and I don't see a reason that we need to be waiting. I had the opportunity to submit to my husband and ultimately, submit to the Lord in that. And I chose to and it was so beautiful, and now we have four babies. [Cody] Yeah, four on the way. [Jennifer] What a great testimony of what unconditional love can look like in a marriage. [Aaron] And when, again going back to the purpose conversation, the only, not the only, but one of the reasons you were able to walk in freedom from that sin, which we just did a podcast together about this, and we, Cody, you and I have the same story on how God got a hold of our hearts and showed us that we can walk in the freedom that he's already given us on the cross, but recognizing the purpose. That it's not just you going to your wife to avoid the shaming guilt you feel, like get that fixed. Like, here, my shame and my guilt I feel I wanna get that fixed so can you forgive me? 'Cause I feel shameful. No, it was, this is keeping me from having a fruitful and powerful ministry with my wife. [Cody] Yeah. [Aaron] And this is keeping me from having a fruitful and powerful and close relationship with God. Therefore, I'm going to go and repent. Because I don't want to be that man anymore, I want to be the man that God has made me to be. [Cody] That's right. [Aaron] And so having the purpose in mind, it draws out of us and draws us in the direction that God wants us and that's purity and to holiness and into authority and power to do the things that he has for us to do. [Jennifer] And I feel like I have to highlight for the wife, Stacy, because you knew the purpose, you could then hear that confession and you had a choice to make, and it sounds like you chose reconciliation and then, even on top of that, submission to a desire that your husband had for more children. And I just, again, wanna say this is so beautiful to know that a husband and wife can walk faithfully even amidst the muddy waters like you mentioned earlier. Walk faithfully to what God has called us to do, driven by this purpose that he has for marriage. [Aaron] And at the end of the day, the purpose is that we love God and we want to please Him and Him only, but in doing that, in chasing our Father we go where he's going, right? And that's the end game is what is God doing? What's His mission in this world? What's He already been doing since before time began, right? And we're told in the Bible that we're now ministers of reconciliation in this world and you guys got to practice that in your own marriage. [Stacy] Yeah, that's so beautiful. [Aaron] Right? And then what happens is walking in that holiness and that purity and no longer just jumping right back in the mud all the time and always being right there. Going back to that idea of we're always focused in word oh, well we're back in that sin again. Oh, we're all back in that sin again. And never moving forward, it's just there and that's exactly where the enemy wants us is-- [Jennifer] Ineffective. [Aaron] Ineffective, which we're gonna talk about in a later-- [Jennifer] Next episode. [Aaron] Oh, it's next episode. But recognizing that He has a purpose, recognizing that He wants a close relationship with us, that He wants us to walk in purity and all of those truths make it easier. Now, it doesn't mean it's easy but it makes it easier for us to do the things that he's called us to, obedience. Which is confession and walking in righteousness and ministering to the lost and loving your brothers and sisters in Christ. And we've seen you do all of these things in your life. and I didn't know you before, before we met you of course, because I haven't met you yet. [Cody] Traveling to Damascus Road-But I-- [Stacy] You didn't follow us on social media? [Aaron] But I know you, seeing from where you were to where you guys are today, we can see how your guys' pursuit of God and your chasing after him and your desire to want what He desires has changed you in your marriage has changed you in your relationship with your friends, is making you guys awesome parents. [Jennifer] Can you guys just share what do you guys feel has had the biggest impact in your life as you've chased after God? [Stacy] Oh, it's easy. [Jennifer] When you think about the growth-- [Aaron] She's got the answer, there you go. [Cody] I'm so happy for you to go. [Stacy] Oh no, we just talked about this. A biblical community, that has been-- [Cody] Oh yeah. [Stacy] The biggest I think factor for us is just having people walking alongside of us, encouraging us, holding us accountable, and-- [Cody] To scripture. [Stacy] To scripture, yes exactly. Not to what you think and think is the right way or a good way because you read this book or that book but because that's what scripture says. [Aaron] And I would agree. Close, true biblical Christian fellowship has been pivotal-- [Jennifer] Pivotal. [Aaron] In our walks with Christ. [Cody] Yeah. [Aaron] So yeah, that's, we agree. [Stacy] Sweet. [Cody] Agreed. [Aaron] So, I love that you brought up Christian fellowship and we're talking about purpose for marriage and one of the things that we draw out in the book is the picture that marriage is, the reason God gave us marriage. And you guys know this biblically, what is the bride represent? [Cody] The body of Christ, the Church. [Aaron] It represents the Church. And he calls the bride he says that he's returning for a white bride, a clean bride-- [Stacy] Pure. [Aaron] A pure bride. [Jennifer] Just like any bride listening right now is thinking yeah, I know what that took. [Aaron] Yeah, and so, but what's awesome, the community aspect, in our marriage, the wife, represents the Church and the husband represents Christ, where a picture of that to the world. So walking in close Christian fellowship, which again is something we're gonna talk about on a later episode. [Cody] Yeah, that one'll be good. [Aaron] And it's just so beautiful seeing it played out on the microscale in our marriage but then seeing it applied in the local fellowship, the body of Christ. And then globally as a church. Like this is why we're doing this podcast, this is why we wrote this book. Our hope is to encourage the whole body of Christ to recognize that we are the bride of Christ. That our unity and our oneness with Christ is vital and it's required, and it's our gift. It's our gift that we are apart of the body of Christ. We are the bride of Christ, he's returning for us and again, it just excites us that we get to participate in that, and we get to benefit from it. We get to be the beneficiaries of obedience. And in walking and being part of the body. So, I 100 percent agree that close Christian fellowship is just, it's another way that we minister to the world 'cause that get to see our unity. And it changes us and it grows us and we benefit from it. So, Amen. [Cody] Amen [Jennifer] So, while you guys are on the podcast, is there anything that is on your hearts right now that you think husbands and wives need to hear, something you want to encourage them with? [Cody] Yeah, absolutely. I would say that if you haven't caught this through the podcast and the things that we've shared today, it's humility, probably and just submission to, first of all the scripture in Christ and then, secondly, to each other. And to elevate your spouse always above yourself. And in all of our marriage battles and victories, the victory comes through submission and through humility, and through repentance. And so, I think no matter where you're at in your marriage, whether you're married for one year or 10 years like we're about to be, that's a battle that doesn't end and it has to continue through your entire marriage. But just continued submission to each other, continued heartfelt passion just to elevate your spouse above herself and to care for their needs and to care for their desires, and to care for their heart, just like Ephesians 5:22 through 30 describes. And so for us, that's been pivotal even today. Literally today, we talked about that Scripture as we prayed together this morning when we walked through what we talked about. And so, yeah, so submitting to each other and to Christ. [Aaron] So the last question we're gonna ask, and it's gonna be the question we're gonna ask every person we interview, and there's no wrong answer, in your own words, what is a marriage after God? [Stacy] Yeah, good question. I would say that a marriage after God is obedience, submitting to God's Word and Cody just did a really great job explaining that a minute ago from Ephesians 5:22 through 33, or 30? Yes, marriage after God is obedient, it's submissive to His word. [Jennifer] I love that and in order for us to be obedient, we have to know the word, we have to be in the word. So that would be an encouragement for everyone listening today, and just a reminder for us because we all need it, we all need to be reminded and hopefully were in it daily, and chasing after God by knowing him, by knowing his word, yeah. [Aaron] So Cody, Stacy we love you guys. We thank you for being our guinea pigs and starting out this series with us. We appreciate your your honesty, and my prayer is that your story, your testimony, your faithfulness is ministering right now to those listening. And I believe it is. And so, what we're gonna do is we're just gonna close in prayer, so join me. [Cody] Cool. [Aaron] Dear Lord thank you for marriage and thank you for creating it with intentionality and with purpose. May we walk humbly with each other as we choose to actively fulfill this purpose. May we be husbands and wives who know confidently how you are using marriage to reflect your perfect love to this lost world. Mature us O Lord and use us to encourage growth in each other so that we continue to be more and more fruitful. We pray others would see the fruit of your spirit in our lives. May our obedience to live out all that you have commanded impacts our marriage, impacts our families and impacts the world in an extraordinary way. May we be faithful servants who build your kingdom and not our own. May we say yes to you to participate in all the wonderful opportunities you invite us to do for you. Give us courage and fill our heart with strength as we chase boldly after you together. In Jesus name Amen. [Jennifer] Amen. [Cody] Amen. [Aaron] All right, so thank you everyone for listening to this week's episode, to the first episode in our Marriage After God series. We want to invite you please, please go pick up a book today, My wife and I wrote this for you, and all these interviews we're gonna be doing over the next 15 weeks are about the book. And the whole purpose is to encourage you in your faith and in your marriage and the purpose God has for you. So we look forward to having you next week. Did you enjoy today's show? Find many more encouraging stories and resources at And let us help you cultivate an extraordinary marriage.

 MAG 00: Kicking Off the 16 Week Marriage After God Series | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 00:41:12 and order our new book, Marriage After God. Our friend Lara Casey, Author of Cultivate and Make it Happen said this about Marriage After God: “ There is a short list of books I’m stashing away for my three small kiddos to read when they are older—Marriage After God is one of them.” Also, would you take a moment today and follow us on Instagram READ: [Aaron] Hey we're Aaron and Jennifer Smith with Marriage After God. [Jennifer] Helping you cultivate an extraordinary marriage. [Aaron] And today we're kicking off our 16-week Marriage After God series. [Aaron] Welcome to the Marriage After God podcast. Where we believe that marriage was meant for more than just happily ever after. [Jennifer] I'm Jennifer, also known as Unveiled Wife. [Aaron] And I'm Aaron, also known as Husband Revolution. [Jennifer] We have been married for over a decade. [Aaron] And so far we have four young children. [Jennifer] We have been doing marriage ministry online for over seven years through blogging and social media. [Aaron] With the desire to inspire couples to keep God at the center of their marriage. Encouraging them to walk in faith every day. [Jennifer] We believe that Christian marriage should be an extraordinary one. Full of life. [Aaron] Love. [Jennifer] And power. [Aaron] That can only be found by chasing after God. [Jennifer] Together. [Aaron] Thank you for joining us on this journey as we chase boldly after God's will for our life together. [Jennifer] This is Marriage After God. [Jennifer] Guys I am so excited for this. I feel like as exciting it is to launch a new book, this podcast series is just as exciting. I feel like we need to celebrate. I feel like we need-- [Aaron] Ice cream. [Jennifer] Ice cream and cake and confetti. Or I don't know what to do [Aaron] Yeah, birthday cake, cake, ice cream. [Jennifer] I'll take any of it. [Aaron] On birthday cake cookies. [Jennifer] I'm just so excited for this series and we have some really exciting stuff for you guys. Thanks for joining us. [Aaron] Before we talk about the series and get into it. We just want to ask you if you've been following along in this podcast and you love the content, you love just the things that we're bringing up. How we're sharing the vulnerable areas of our life. And things that God's teaching us, would you please just take a moment and leave us a review. The reviews are how podcasts get seen by new people. They get ranked based off of how many reviews we get. If you would love to, we'd love to have you write a review. And the easiest way to do that is to leave a five-star review. It can be a four-star I guess. [Jennifer] Be honest. [Aaron] Yeah, a star review, be honest, is easy. Just tap the star at the bottom of the podcast app. But leaving a text review is the most powerful way you can help support this podcast if you want. When it comes to iTunes and how they rank this podcast. [Jennifer] Another way to support this podcast is to shop on our store. If you go to, you can check out our resources and help support us through buying through our store. One of the books that we want to highlight, is our new book, which this series is based off of. And that's Marriage After God. Go to and go order our new book. I also want to share with you guys our friend, Lara Casey, author of Cultivate and Make It Happen, said this about Marriage After God. "There is a short list of books I'm stashing away for my three small kiddos to read when they're older. Marriage After God is one of them." [Aaron] What a cool idea. [Jennifer] I know, I love that idea, and I wanted to share that because I think it's such a neat idea and I want to do that for my kids. I wanna have a list of books to give. [Aaron] It's good, because how many times you're like, "man what books should I read, or what books are out there." 'Cause we can't read every book. Having a stack of books and hey, we've read these. [Jennifer] And they matter. [Aaron] These books matter, they've blessed our lives. Here you go and handing that off as a wedding gift to your kids. We actually should start that. [Jennifer] Cool, and I also want to encourage you guys to take a minute and just go follow @marriageafterGod on Instagram. [Aaron] Yeah, that's our new page. Jennifer has her Unveiled Wife page. I have my Husband Revolution page, but our Marriage After God Instagram account is where we both come together and we share stuff and we share stuff about our podcast and things that are coming up. And it's a community for husbands and wives. [Jennifer] Okay, moving on to our ice-breaker question. [Aaron] What was the hardest part about writing our new book, Marriage After God? [Jennifer] I felt like the thing you kept saying over and over again is, "I really just wanna quote scripture." Throughout the whole thing. [Aaron] That was what's hard for me, because I kept comparing what I was writing to what the Bible already said. [Jennifer] The Bible's so much better. We just need to tell them-- [Aaron] I'm writing this thing, and the Bible already said this way better than I could ever say it. That's what it felt like. But what was hard for you? [Jennifer] I think for me it was figuring out how to write it together. We done it in the past, but-- [Aaron] Never to this extent. [Jennifer] Not to this extent. You wrote most of this book and I just helped I feel like. [Aaron] You wrote a lot. [Jennifer] Oh, I know, but-- [Aaron] I feel like we actually wrote pretty equal amounts. In the beginning I did a lot of the writing for the initial draft and then you added so much more color in the edit. [Jennifer] I feel like you did a lot of the teaching aspect. And I added the stories and things like that. But it was a really good balance I think of both of our voices. I did enjoy that about writing this book. I would say the other hardest part was, we started writing the book when we had three kiddos and I was pregnant and then we started the editing process after having four. [Aaron] I feel like we are always writing a book while we're pregnant or just having a baby. [Jennifer] Yeah, we like to keep things interesting. [Aaron] Yeah. [Jennifer] That was, just logistical finding time to be able to do that. [Aaron] Yeah, and the other thing for me, not just that I kept comparing what I was writing to the Bible, which is good, because the Bible is everything anyway. And all we're trying to do it point people to the Bible. I think the hardest thing for me is this is the most I've ever written ever. And I've never written a book like this. It was challenging spiritually. It was challenging technically, 'cause I've never done it. But I'm really surprised at what we're able to pull off in this book. It had to have been Holy Spirit driven. [Jennifer] I'm excited about it. [Aaron] I'm really excited about it. I'm glad that we're starting this 16 week series to talk about the concepts that are in the book. The book is why the podcasts exist. The podcast came out of, we did the contract for the book, and we're like, "hey, let's do a podcast so we can actually start talking about it now. This idea of a Marriage After God." And encourage marriages with all this free content leading up to the book. And we're not gonna stop it after the books, this is our new thing. Doing a weekly podcast together, we love it. It's kind of funny, the Marriage After God book, the podcast, and now we're gonna be talking about the book more to pull the concepts directly out of the book and talk about them. We'll get into a little bit more about that in a minute. But, before we start, Jennifer, would you like to share a quote from the Marriage After God book? [Jennifer] Sure, this quote is found in the introduction, which this kind of kicking off the series is going to be centered on the introduction of Marriage After God. That's what we have for you guys today. This is a quote from the introduction of Marriage After God. "Belief propels people from a place of dreaming to a place of doing." [Aaron] Yeah, if we don't truly believe something, we're not going to act on that belief. No one ever does that. A belief is what causes us and propels us forward to do the things that we actually believe. I love that, "belief propels people from a place of dreaming to a place of doing." Instead of sitting back like, "oh, that'd be wonderful if it was true, or that's be wonderful if I could, but I can't so I'm not gonna." [Jennifer] Yeah, and I love that we're starting out with this quote because I feel like it's the whole purpose of why we wrote this book was to encourage couples to believe and do. [Aaron] Yeah. [Jennifer] To believe what God can do with their marriage and then do it. [Aaron] Well and believe what God already says about us. Believe what the Bible says about us. Believe what is the truth. To open our eyes to what God has for us. [Jennifer] Okay, as we jump into the introduction of Marriage After God, which, are we gonna read for them? [Aaron] Yeah, I think we will read the whole introduction from the book. Not right now. [Jennifer] Okay. We're gonna do that in a little bit. But first we're gonna answer some questions. These first few questions are just ones that I came up with that I think will help you guys understand where we're coming from. From in writing Marriage After God. And then we're gonna also, after we read the introduction, answer some questions that they had, right? [Aaron] Yeah, I spent some time today on your Instagram. I don't know if you knew this or not. [Jennifer] I didn't know that. [Aaron] And on my Instagram doing live videos and asking our followers if they had any questions about the book. [Jennifer] Okay. [Aaron] Man some good questions came out of it. I wrote down as many as I could and some of them are similar so I think we complied them into a general question. And we're gonna try and answer your questions about the book, in the hopes that you guys get so excited about this because it's a book for you. We wrote this book for you, for all of the followers that have been following us since the beginning. [Jennifer] Well hold on, that's one of the questions I have. [Aaron] Oh, okay. [Jennifer] Let's jump in. Why did we write the book? [Aaron] For all of you. [Jennifer] No, why. [Aaron] We wrote the book, we wrote the book out of a necessity that we saw in our own life. We saw what God was doing with us and we saw where God had taken us. And I think we realized that there was some people that thought that we were special or that people like us are the only ones doing something and should be doing something and not everyone has something to do that God doesn't have a part and a role to play for everyone in the body. And our heart was like, "no, we're just being faithful with what God's given us, but we want you to be faithful with what God's given you." [Jennifer] Um hum. [Aaron] I think that's where it came from. It's why we did the Marriage After God gathering a couple years ago. [Jennifer] Um hum. [Aaron] Was like hey, how can we have an intimate gathering. We had 12 couples come and we're like how can we inspire these couples to just go and just chase after God boldly. Chase after his will for their marriage and to be used as a marriage in unity to move his message in his kingdom forward. [Jennifer] Yeah, that's our hope and desire for this book is that people would recognize that we are all part of his body building his kingdom. [Aaron] Yeah, there's no one part that, oh those are the people, 'cause they have something special that God's gonna use them. Actually the Bible tells us something very different. It says that we're all, all parts of the body, and not one part can say to another part that you don't belong. And that's what it is. This Marriage After God is that we belong to the body of Christ and that there's power in our unity. In our oneness. [Jennifer] Another reason we wrote the book was because we were actually walking out some of the things that we share over the last decade of time being together. The things that God revealed to us, little treasures and-- [Aaron] Things we're still learning of course. [Jennifer] Exactly, that's what I was getting to, is that we're even still learning what it means to be a Marriage After God, but the things that we have learned or the things we've overcome, or the victories we've had. We wanted to share about it as a catalyst to encourage marriages out there because we all need that encouragement. We all need to be reminded that we're here to do something and that our marriage has great purpose. We wanted to kind of come alongside them. I have this picture in my mind of holding each other, linked in arms and marching forward. [Aaron] Yeah, Christian marriages all over the world being used to glorify God, to spread the message of his goodness and it comes down to like this one sentence. The idea of the book. God has meant for more for our marriage than just happily ever after. [Jennifer] Um, hum. [Aaron] That our health in our marriage, our strength in our marriage, our joy in our marriage. All of those things are not just for us to enjoy. But that they're there to push us forward and be used for God. It's not just so that we can be like, "oh we're good, we reached it. Now we're like happy and this is all we need to focus on." We're excited. That's why we wrote the book. That's the big why. [Jennifer] Awesome. Okay, why did we title it Marriage After God? [Aaron] Ooh. See questions that I didn't know were coming. Why did we title it-- [Jennifer] The first thing that comes to my mind is we had originally wrote the devotionals which we shared about in the last episode, but Wife After God and Husband After God were 30-day devotionals that we really felt strongly were purpose to encourage husbands and wives to kind of chase after God in their individual role. Being a husband and wife-- [Aaron] His picture for them and what he wanted for them. [Jennifer] Right and to draw them closer to God and closer to each other. When we thought about this book, we wanted it to be unifying. The natural progression was Marriage After God and it's the idea and picture of a marriage chasing boldly after the purpose that he has for a marriage. [Aaron] There's mighty power in a husband chasing after God for their family even if his wife's not. There's mighty power in a wife chasing after God and serving him and loving him and being an example to her husband even if he's not. But man, the power of a husband and a wife chasing after God together and wanting his will for their life. Right there is the depth of this book. Is what we're trying to get at is, no no no. It's not just be happy where we're at, what does God have us together for? Why did he bring us to unity? Why did he make us one? 'Cause there is a meaning. There is a purpose behind it and we talk about it in the book. [Jennifer] Um, hum. That's so good, okay now that all of their ears are itching and they want to get their hands on this book, who's it for? [Aaron] This book is specifically for Christian married couples. I would not hesitate for a second to give it to someone who's not a believer. Because we preach the Gospel in the book quite a bit. [Jennifer] Even marriages who feel like maybe they're hanging on by a thread or maybe there's just some conflict there that they can't seem to get over. It doesn't have to be for a marriage that is mature, or is already chasing after God together, or both are equally yoked. It literally is for every marriage. [Aaron] Yeah, and the idea is that it's meant to be read together. It could totally be read separately, but I would totally encourage anyone who when they get the book, to read it with their spouse. Reading out loud together, or having their own copies and then talking about it as they go. But, it's for marriages. Also, I would see engaged couples reading this to prepare themselves where God wants their heart to be for marriage, so that they're working toward it now and they're praying about it now and they're saying, "okay Lord, we're gonna come together and we want this to be for you." It could totally be powerful for engaged couples as well. [Jennifer] For any age. For any however long married. [Aaron] Yeah, absolutely. [Jennifer] It doesn't matter how many kids you have. There is no prerequisite to read this book. [Aaron] Yeah, we didn't write it for a specific, the millennial Christian marriages. We wrote it for Christian marriages. Again, if they're not believers, this would be a great book to put in the hands of someone who doesn't believe yet and say, "hey, you want to see what God has for your marriage? Read this book." [Jennifer] Okay, so what do we hope the impact will be for the Marriage After God book? [Aaron] I hope that it sparks power and excitement in the hearts of husbands and wives around the world. [Jennifer] Um, hum. [Aaron] To say, wow, wait wait. God's good and he loves us and what he's doing in our marriage is awesome, but he wants us to move forward. He's got a plan for us together in how we're gonna use our talents, resources and gifts for his kingdom. And that we actually see action come out of this book. [Jennifer] That's what I was gonna say is action. [Aaron] Yeah, I think the other thing, and this is gonna go into some of the questions is, marriages leading and inspiring and encouraging other marriages. [Jennifer] Yeah, the same hope that we desire for this book to become a catalyst in your life, our hope would also be that then you become a catalyst in someone else's life. [Aaron] Oh absolutely, it's not just to point people back to us at all, actually. It's to point people to God. To His Word and to His will for their life. There's a few questions right around this idea and these are questions that people asked me in the live Instagram videos we did today. [Jennifer] Cool, okay, last question before we read the introduction and then we'll get into those questions from our listeners. It is, how can those listening right now join us in becoming a movement starter? This goes back to our hope of what we hope this book does. They might here the word movement starter and go, "what's that?" What can we encourage them to do right now? [Aaron] We called it a movement starter 'cause there's people that have been following us and are excited for what God's doing in marriages around the world and in their own marriage and for the kingdom of God. We hope that people are gonna take this book and they're gonna be like, "hey, we wanna spread the message of what God's doing, we wanna encourage other couples." The first thing I'd say is start praying. If you want to be a movement starter with us, start praying for the people that God is calling. That he wants to light a fire in. That he wants to draw out. The second thing I would say is pre-order a book. It's online right now, pretty much anywhere you buy books. Amazon, Barnes and Noble. I would suggest Amazon because they have a pre-order price guarantee where if the price lowers at any point during the next few months that you get the lowest price and they refund you the difference, which is awesome. [Jennifer] And I just want to note for people coming back to this episode or listening to it past the date and it's not necessarily for pre-order anymore, just ordering the book helps spread the message. [Aaron] Yeah, thank you for the ever greenness of that. Getting the book. And then I would say the last thing, and this is something you should start praying about now, is start praying about the two or three or four couples in your life right now that God might want you to invite over to your house to do a study with. Going through this book together. [Jennifer] That's good. [Aaron] Yeah. [Jennifer] I wanna add too, one way that they can also participate in being a movement starter for this message of being a Marriage After God. Earlier we asked them to go follow us on Instagram @marriageafterGod and I wanna encourage you to post your Marriage After God story. Post a picture of you and your spouse together and share a little bit about what it means to you to be and have a Marriage After God and use the hashtag Marriage After God. Because we see those and it is such a powerful testimony of what God is doing in this world and when we share our testimony of what God's doing, his heart is revealed to the world. And so we want to utilize the power of social media to also further this message. And so if you do that and you tag Marriage After God, we see it, we're gonna repost as many as we can, and I just want to say thank you right now for those who already have been sharing their Marriage After God story and the ones that will. [Aaron] Now, whether we're allowed to or not, I don't know. We're gonna read the entire introduction. It's a few pages, it's not very long. And this is from the book, Marriage After God. What if I told you that your marriage has a purpose far beyond happily ever after? What if I told you that the unity between you and your spouse was created for something extraordinary? God, your Creator and your Savior, has created you and your spouse with complete and perfect thoughtfulness. God, your provider and your heavenly Father has unlimited resources in immeasurable creativity. God, who is patient and loving, is pursuing you and your spouse every single day. Inviting you to participate in the extraordinary things He is already doing. Do you believe God wants more for your marriage than for you to just make each other happy? Do you believe God can do anything? Move mountains, open doors and part seas to get you to the place where he wants you the most? Belief is powerful. Belief propels people from a place of dreaming to a place of doing. Belief in God is confidence and trust in Him. Believing God made you and your marriage with great purpose is the beginning of an incredible adventure you will never regret. When Jennifer and I consider what spurred us toward a desire to serve God together, we agreed that it was our belief that God could and would use us as team for His glory. And that belief gave us the courage to say yes to Him over and over and over again. Even and especially during the hard times of our story. We said yes to God when we decided to stay together when it felt easier to walk away. We said yes to God when we chose to love each other even when we didn't feel so in love. We said yes to obeying His word when we did everything we could to get out of debt. We said yes to God when he showed us ways we could serve His body. And we said yes to God when he invited us to share our story. Not all of our yes' to God were easy, however, our mutual desire to please God is what helped us to say yes and to persevere. When Jennifer and I got married, we had a united desire to serve God together. We didn't know exactly what it would look like, but we were willing to explore the opportunities He had for us as a married couple. Throughout our time of dating and being engaged we prayed we would have an extraordinary marriage. However, we didn't stop there. We didn't only ask God for an extraordinary marriage, we also prayed God would use our marriage to do extraordinary things to build His kingdom. Since we said, "I do." And committed our marriage to the Lord, we have been on a journey of saying yes to God. A journey we both agree has been quite extraordinary. Not only because of the experiences we have had, or the accomplishments we have reached, but because God is extraordinary. And he longs to bring his extraordinary into our lives. He is the reason we have been able to endure this journey together. We have experienced both poverty and abundance. We have traveled to different parts of the world as missionaries motivated to share the Gospel with others. We have started businesses and ministries. We have overcome destructive sin patterns. We have grown our family size intentionally striving to leave a legacy with our children. And we continue to participate in God's plan for our lives as He invites us to do all that He prepared for us to do together. But it is all because of God. He gets the glory in our lives. [Jennifer] Our journey has not been void of the enemies attacks to thwart God's purpose for our marriage. In fact, the enemies flaming arrows in combination with our own sin almost destroyed our marriage. Pornography addiction, emotional eating, irrational jealousy, foolishness and constant battles of selfishness and pride have all been difficult areas of our marriage that we have had to battle. The hardships we have encountered in marriage have been painful. We have often wrestled with doubt and insecurities about our relationship with each other and with God. Yet no matter what we faced, and no matter what we will face in the future, we continue to pray that God will give us an extraordinary marriage and that He will use our marriage for his extraordinary purposes. [Aaron] In 2011, Jennifer and I launched our online marriage ministries, and To share with husbands and wives what God was teaching us about marriage. When we began these ministries, we had no idea what they would become. Motivated by a perspective that our lives are a ministry for God to work through. We said yes to God when he invited us to share our story with the world. In a way we were already familiar with, blogging. [Jennifer] Through these two sites we share daily marriage prayers, encouragement, biblical teaching on faith and marriage, date night ideas and reviews of Christian books and movies. We share personal stories of what we have experienced in our own marriage and how God continues to transform us into the husband and wife he created us to be. Since the first day we created these ministries, our desire has been to encourage married couples to turn their hearts toward God and trust in Him with their marriage. With the few tools we had in our tool belt we got started and this adventure quickly grew into an unimaginable reach into the hearts and homes of couples all around the world. With the influence we were gaining in the lives of other married couples, we asked the Lord to use us to encourage them to be biblical men and women. We were confident that if we could inspire them and challenge them to be people who read God's Word and desire His will for their lives, that God would move in these marriages and use them for the marvelous work He desires His people to do. We imagined hundreds of thousands of strong, thriving marriages reflecting God's love story and impacting the lives of others as they faithfully live out all that God has called them to. We envisioned husbands and wives being unified in their relationship and in their parenting, full of joy and contentment. We could see communities being blessed by the lives and examples of these couples. We could see relationships being healed. Needs being met. Talents being used. Businesses and ministries being started. And the lost being saved. Because husbands and wives said yes to God. Working together to build his kingdom. [Aaron] Eager to see husbands and wives embrace what God has for them, we wondered how we could inspire them to start considering the purpose of their marriage and help guide them to set the foundation necessary to fulfill that purpose. We wanted to point them to the Word of God and prompt them to answer some challenging questions. We felt led to write two devotionals that would lead a husband and wife through God's Word and invite them to consider how they can actively pursue an extraordinary God-centered marriage. We co-authored and self-published Husband After God and Wife After God. 30-day devotionals that have been read by 1000's of men and women. Not long after publishing our devotionals, we began to receive messages from couples asking what they could read next to encourage them on their marriage journey. So we began to consider what resource we could provide next to inspire husbands and wives to consider chasing after God. This is the seed that would grow into the message of Marriage After God. We knew God wanted more couples to pray the same prayer we have been praying and to experience his extraordinary purpose for their lives. Yet, we believed it was also a message God wanted us to experience in our marriage for ourselves. He wanted us to mature in our relationship with each other and with Him. We wouldn't say we are done experiencing what it means to have a Marriage After God. In reality, this will be a message we will continue to live out and pursue until Christ returns or we are called home. However, God has given us an incredible opportunity to present this message to others through this book. To inspire husbands and wives who want to chase after Him. And to do His will together. And we are eager to see how God uses this book to do His work in all of our lives. [Jennifer] A Marriage After God is an extraordinary journey of making ourselves known to God, knowing God and being willing to let Him use our marriages for His purposes. And Marriage After God is one that can faithfully say what the people of Israel said in Exodus 19:8. "All that the Lord has spoken, we will do." Happily ever after is a nice thought and a good thing to hope for. But it should not be your end goal. There's an amazing purpose for your marriage. More than just making each other happy. We desire you to pursue kingdom purposes with your marriage. To be a testimony to others of God's love and amazing grace. This world we live in has been tainted by darkness, but you are called to be the light of the world. It is you and your marriage that should be the light people long to experience. But you cannot be a light for others if you are allowing your marriage to be overrun by darkness. Those who belong to God have been created for so much more. You have been created for so much more. And your spouse has been created for so much more. Our vision for this book is to get you and your spouse excited about using your marriage for God. We desire that you two experience the incredible intimacy of unity as you boldly chase after God's will and purpose for your marriage. [Aaron] This book is for the marriages who are ready to finally see what God brought them together for. Maybe you and your spouse have been having conversation about what is next. What you should be investing in, or how you can be used by God to effectively fulfill the purpose he created you for. The purpose he brought you together for. You have been in a great place in your marriage and with God, but there is a tugging on your heart to do something more. You picked up this book because you don't want to be stagnant. You want to experience this extraordinary. Our hope and prayer is that this book takes you on a journey of discovery, inspiration and affirmation as God invites you to work together as a team for His glory. [Jennifer] If you and your spouse are in a different place, a broken place where you are barely hanging on, our hope is that this book will be the very thing to convince you to turn your heart back toward God and have the courage to change your perspective of your spouse and your marriage. Maybe it'll be the very thing your marriage needs to push you closer to the only one who can help you put it back in order. [Aaron] So we welcome you. No matter what condition your marriage is currently in and we challenge you to take this adventure with us to commit your marriage to God. And see how he moves in your life, your spouses life, and the many other lives he will impact because you were willing to say yes to Him. Everything begins with a first step. Reading this book is your first step. We pray it won't be long before you and your spouse are running with your hearts aligned with God's toward the extraordinary good work God has already prepared for you to do. [Jennifer] You were created for this. Ephesians 2:10 confirms this declaring. "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them." You and our spouse were made by God and your marriage relationship was designed by Him to do good works for His name sake. Works that he had in mind long before you were created. You can believe this truth and so be empowered to walk in the extraordinary purpose you have been uniquely created by God to do. [Aaron] So that was the introduction to Marriage After God. [Jennifer] Who's read to jump in? [Aaron] Yeah. [Aaron] Yeah, it's convicting reading our own books sometimes. [Jennifer] Yeah, we have tears in our eyes every time we have the chance to read it, which has been several times now. We get this stirring in our hearts and this question of what do we do next? What are we gonna do for Him? [Aaron] What we're gonna answer some questions that people from the community have given us about the book. And then we're gonna close with the prayer that was at the end of the introduction. It's actually in the book. There's a prayer that we put in there. The first question is, will there be questions in the book, journal or discussion questions? [Jennifer] Yeah, at the end of every chapter, there are a set of one to three questions that have to do with that chapters topic. [Aaron] There's another question that goes along with this. Is it a book or is it a devotional? A devotional is smaller chunks of content with questions to discuss. But we wanted to clarify that this is a 16 chapter, 50 plus 1000 word book with questions at the end. It can be used like a devotional, but it is definitely a book. It's a hard cover book with a jacket. It's definitely distinct from a devotional. Especially like our Husband and Wife After God devotionals. Which are like a hundred pages. This is significantly [Jennifer] Larger. [Aaron] Larger, yeah. [Jennifer] Okay, so the next question is, can the questions be done as a couple? [Aaron] Oh, absolutely. Our hope is that this book is done-- [Jennifer] Together. [Aaron] With your spouse. [Jennifer] Our recommendation is that you actually use the questions in the back as discussion questions going into a date night, or maybe you guys have time set aside to read the book together. Maybe you read that chapter and then you use the questions to stimulate that conversation. [Aaron] Yeah, maybe it's like a nightly routine. You guys read a chapter together. Discuss the questions together and that was the intention of them. But yes, there'll be questions at the end of each chapter. Yes, you can do them separately and then maybe talk about them together. But we totally always encourage couples to do them together. [Jennifer] Can small groups go through the book? [Aaron] We said this in the beginning. Our heart is that [Jennifer] You do. [Aaron] You do. Yeah, this would be so awesome if when we started hearing testimonies of couples saying, "hey we invited two of our married friends over and we're doing this every week now." 16 week Bible study would be amazing and just reading a chapter kind of like a book club. Read a chapter as a group and then come together and discuss the questions maybe. Some of the questions might be too intimate to do in a group, but hey. [Jennifer] You never know. [Aaron] Yeah, that would be amazing. I'm excited to hear about that. This is kind of along the same lines. Someone says would you recommend a husband and wife go through the book first and then do a group? [Jennifer] I would say yeah, just so that you can wrap your head around what the message of a Marriage After God is. And then jump into it. I feel like you would have a better experience overall facilitating a group like that. [Aaron] Yeah, but if you are wanting to do this right away. Let's say you have a bunch of friends or like hey let's just do this together and get-- [Jennifer] You absolutely could do that. [Aaron] Absolutely. Either or, but if you are the only one that got the book and your friends don't know about it yet, maybe go through it first. And then invite them. Yeah, absolutely if you wanted to do it together right away, that should probably be really fun because you'd be experiencing the book at the same time. [Jennifer] Cool, okay so the next question is. I can never say these two words together. [Aaron] Will there [Jennifer] Will there be video lessons with this book? [Aaron] Probably eventually. Definitely not when the book launches. Unless we like hustle. But yes, there's gonna be eventually a workbook. There'll eventually be videos to go along with it. [Jennifer] That was one of the questions too. Is there a study guide to go along with it? [Aaron] Yeah, those will come later. My wife and I do all those together. And it's pretty much just us, so we will produce stuff eventually. This was a really cool question I got. Someone said we'd love to know if there's gonna be other groups doing it together? And they said it in a way like it'd be scary doing it on our own, like being the only group doing it. And they said it'd be awesome if we knew that hundreds of other groups were doing it at the same time. Or doing it so you'd be like, "oh, we're not the only ones doing this together." [Jennifer] It's a global community, kind of doing the same thing. [Aaron] I don't know how we're gonna do this, but I think we, Jennifer, should think about how we can have some sort of sign-up where people can say, "hey, we're doing this just so that other people know that it's being done." [Jennifer] I love that and I know this. With so many people on social media, if you take a picture of your group and-- [Aaron] That's exactly what it should be, yeah. [Jennifer] Use the hashtag Marriage After God. When that posts and we see it, we'll repost that and then people will start to see it happening. [Aaron] That's a great way of doing it. If you're meeting with a group, every single time you meet, take a picture. And post it and we'll post about it. And what that'll do is, that'll encourage other people like, "hey, we got the book, let's do a group." That's a great idea. [Jennifer] Okay, you mentioned this already, but can engaged couples get the book and read it? [Aaron] I say yeah. I don't feel like that there's any content in it that's inappropriate for an engaged couple. [Jennifer] The only thing I will say is depending on the questions in the back of the book, if there's intimate ones or one's that maybe you can't relate to because you're not married yet, save them to discuss till after you're married. [Aaron] Yeah. [Jennifer] Because if they're engaged, they usually have a date. [Aaron] What might also be cool, is if the couple wanna go through the book separately and then after they get married discuss the questions on how they thought they might answer or-- [Jennifer] Oh that's cool. [Aaron] Some sort of fun, like go through the book during the engaged season. [Jennifer] Maybe use them as journal questions. [Aaron] Yeah. [Jennifer] Write about it. [Aaron] Talk about how I might answer that after I'm married, or after I'm a wife, after I'm a husband. And then come together and go through it together again and see how your answers match up maybe. That'd be a really fun exercise. Here's a question that someone asked. Will there be a bundle discount for churches, for groups? [Jennifer] First of all, what is a bundle discount? [Aaron] They buy a bunch of books, 20 books, 25 books, and they get a discount as a group discount. Yes, I don't know what that looks like and it's gonna definitely happen after the book launches and I don't know when, but we will definitely let people know how that'll work so churches can definitely get bundle discounts. [Jennifer] Okay, the next question is. Does it have our personal testimony as a marriage in it? [Aaron] That's what's cool about this book is much of the book is principles and ideas and concepts that the Lord taught us through very specific times in our life. [Jennifer] Yep. [Aaron] Difficulties, successes. [Jennifer] Conversations. [Aaron] Conversations, relationships we've had. You did the chronological story thing in the Unveiled Wife. [Jennifer] Yeah, which there's way more detail about our marriage story in there. [Aaron] But from your perspective. [Jennifer] And just from my perspective. [Aaron] Where this is the last 12 years of our marriage and it's lots of stories, lots of relational things. [Jennifer] And it's both of us. [Aaron] And it's both of us. [Jennifer] A lot of stories that I couldn't have shared in the Unveiled Wife because they happen after the fact. [Aaron] Exactly. Yes it does, but they're used as illustrations for the ideas that we're trying to convey, so yes and yes. What can a single person expect to get out of this book? This is kind of along the lines as the engaged thing. [Jennifer] I think that a single person reading this book will get really fired up for the desire of marriage. Which they probably already have. But they'll be really excited to jump into marriage with that heart of prayer to have an extraordinary marriage to use their marriage for God to build his kingdom. I think their perspective of marriage will be have a Godly and biblical foundation. [Aaron] Yeah, singles are definitely not the intended audience for this book, but if someone read it, that's thinking, "man, I wanna prepare for marriage, I wanna be preparing my heart and my mind." It'll definitely, introspectively point them to say, "wow, am I actually thinking this way?" What am I thinking marriage is gonna do for me versus what is our marriage gonna do for God? I think it'd be really powerful for someone thinking about marriage, preparing for marriage to go through it, although it's not the intended audience. That was a handful of the questions that we got. I love the group questions that people are excited to do them in groups and I can't wait to start seeing photos posted. I think that was a great suggestion. [Jennifer] I know. If someone wants to be a movement starter, a Marriage After God movement starter, remind them what they can do. [Aaron] Pray, just pray for the hearts that God's calling that who's gonna get this book. Pray for us. [Jennifer] Pray for marriages, because they're under attack just by the enemy. [Aaron] Pray that God's will just be done in this world through us. Get a copy of our book. [Jennifer] Go order right now, please. [Aaron], search for Marriage After God. You'll find that it's a big read book. [Jennifer] With pretty sparkles of gold. [Aaron] Then start praying and asking what couples in your life God might want you to invite to do a home group at your house with this book. I hope that answered some questions for you guys. I hope you guys are excited like we are for the book Marriage After God. It comes out June 4th. And before we close today. Oh you know what we never told anyone? [Jennifer] What the series-- [Aaron] What the series is gonna be like [Jennifer] Okay, brace yourselves. [Aaron] Okay, the next 16 episodes of the Marriage After God podcast are all gonna be geared around topics from the Marriage After God book. [Jennifer] But how cool is this guys? We have awesome people coming on. We're gonna interview them about being and having a marriage after God. [Aaron] Yeah. We haven't done any interviews on this podcast. It's not every, actually no every-- [Jennifer] It's every episode. [Aaron] Is gonna be an interview. That's so cool. The next 16 episodes are gonna be interviews with friends of ours. People that we've done ministry with in the past. All sorts of cool people. You should be excited about that. We are excited about it. Before we close, I'm gonna read the prayer from the end of the introduction of our book. Would you join us in prayer? Dear Lord, we pray for the husbands and wives reading this book. May your Holy Spirit use this book to inspire their hearts to boldly chase after you and to say yes to the extraordinary invitation you have prepared for them. We pray this couple will grow in their understanding of the power and purpose of their marriage. Reveal to them the specific plans you have for them. We pray you would use this marriage to do incredible work to build your kingdom. In this dark world may you protect this couple from the attacks of the enemy. May you cleanse them from sin and continue to shape them into the husband and wife you created them to be. May they realize they bear your image and that they are a light in this world and a beacon of hope to the lost and lonely. We ask you to guide this couple and unite them as a team. To carry out the unique purposes you have for them. In Jesus name, Amen. [Jennifer] Amen. [Aaron] Thank you for joining us on the first episode kicking off our Marriage After God series on the Marriage After God podcast. [Jennifer] So much Marriage After God. [Aaron] Yeah, lots of Marriage After God. We hope you're being inspired. We hope you're getting excited. God's got huge plans for you. We know it. He's got plans for us. It's not like he's only got plans for us, that's why we wrote this book. He's got plans for all of us. We're part of his body and we just pray that you would know that. That you would know that he wants to show you why he created you and why he brought you and your spouse together. We love you. We thank you for joining us and I pray that you look forward to the next 16 episodes and we'll see you next week. [Aaron] Did you enjoy today's show? Find many more encouraging stories and resources And let us help you cultivate an extraordinary marriage.

 The Importance Of Doing A Marriage Devotional Together | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 00:39:49

Get the Husband and Wife After God 30-day devotionlas today. Quote From Husband After God on page 16 “Marriage is an opportunity to bring glory to God as you share with the world His testimony by loving your wife the way Christ loves the church.” Quote From Wife After God on page 117 “Being a submissive wife is beautiful, as it reflects God’s divine order. When a husband loves his wife like Christ loves and a wife submits to her husband, that reflection clearly represents God’s grace-filled love story. The benefits in a marriage like this are extraordinary. Why its important to do a marriage devotional together: Cultivating oneness and intimacy Get on the same page Growing in the word of God together Stimulates conversation Being ready in and out of season give an answer for the hope that you have Investment for marriage Example for our children you have something to pass on suggesting do this... Firstly, we wanted to share this information with you today because we are going into a Podcast series starting next week about our upcoming book Marriage After God! We hope you are pumped for this, we are and we cant wait for this book release! This series launching next week will give you insight into the book and of course, leave you with wanting even more! So before we get into that series, we thought we would dive deep into our devotionals for husbands and wives BECAUSE those of you who have already been through them have asked us what's next...which was a catalyst for us to write the marriage after God book...and also for those of you who havent had a chance to go through these devotionals yet or any of you who want to go through them again, we wanted to let you know that right now is the perfect time to do them leading up to the Marriage After God book release. We have about 4ish months till then which is ample time to get through the 30-day devotionals. A few things people have said about these devotionals: Diamond S. Life changing - This book is truly a godsend! My marriage is better using the books! My husband and I read them daily and it’s helping us to grow in our marriage and closer to God! We were just recently baptized December 31,2018 and this has been an awesome read for us to continue to have God at the center of our marriage. Daily this book hits home and I’m learning more about being a good wife!! Thank you so much for this book and I truly hope all Christian couples read these! William M. Just what our marriage needed! Awesome! It brought us closer together while also enhancing our individual walk with God. Opened our eyes to things we were and weren’t doing and being accountable. Very powerful devotionals! Highly recommended! A+++++ Krystal W. Simply AMAZING I bought both bundles; Husband/Wife After God and 31 Prayers for your husband/wife and my husband and I are doing both together. OMGOODNESS, it really is good. Very well written and when I say these will open up your eyes, I'm not kidding. And get your steel toe boots on. These two books have helped us start off in a place where God can show up and take over. We have only been doing these less than two weeks, and God shows up every day relating these books to our daily lives. God speaks through people and uses people to minister to others and boy has he here. If you want God to show up and you really want to love God through your spouse and how to do it. These books right here is where you start!! Dear Lord, Thank you for creating marriage. Thank you for considering our counterpart and complement. Thank you that we do not have to endure life alone. Not only do we get to live with the presence of Your Holy Spirit and our spouse, but we also get to benefit from living in community with other believers. May we walk together in unity as You have always intended us to. Please continue to draw us closer to Yourself and closer to each other. Continue to transform our hearts and our minds, so that our character reflects your character. Help us to intentionally invest in marriage by learning how to fulfill our roles as husbands and wives. Thank you for revealing to us why You created marriage and the purpose it has in this world. May this purpose motivate us to walk righteously every day. Remind us daily that our marriage is a symbol to this hurting world of Your powerful and unconditional love. We pray that as Christian husbands and wives, we aim to minister to one another in our marriages by being obedient to all that You have commanded through Your Word. May we be prayer warriors who do not neglect to pray for one another. We pray that as we make ourselves known to You and to each other, that we experience extraordinary intimacy. We pray for your will to be done in our marriages and through our marriages and may You be glorified. In Jesus’ name, amen! READ: [Aaron] Hey, we're Aaron and Jennifer Smith with Marriage After God. [Jennifer] Helping you cultivate an extraordinary marriage. [Aaron] And today, we're gonna talk about the importance of doing a marriage devotional together. Welcome to the Marriage After God podcast, where we believe that marriage was meant for more than just happily ever after. [Jennifer] I'm Jennifer, also known as Unveiled Wife. [Aaron] And I'm Aaron, also known as Husband Revolution. [Jennifer] We have been married for over a decade. [Aaron] And so far, we have four young children. [Jennifer] We have been doing marriage ministry online for over seven years through blogging and social media. [Aaron] With the desire to inspire couples to keep God at the center of their marriage, encouraging them to walk in faith every day. [Jennifer] We believe that Christian marriage should be an extraordinary one, full of life. Love. And power. [Aaron] That can only be found by chasing after God. [Jennifer] Together. [Aaron] Thank you for joining us in this journey, as we chase boldly after God's will for our life together. [Jennifer] This is Marriage After God. [Aaron] Hey, thanks for joining us this week. We wanna invite you, as always, to leave a review on the podcast. The reviews, the star ratings, those all help other people, other marriages, find this podcast and get the content,. So if you enjoy what you been hearing, and you haven't done it yet, would you leave us a review today? That'd be awesome. [Jennifer] Also, if you've been enjoying this podcast, we would like to encourage you and ask you to shop on our online store as a way to support this podcast. So if you go to, you can see all of our resource there. We just want you to know that we wrote those for you guys, but also it helps support things like this podcast, so thank you so much for shopping with us. Also, I'd just like to highlight the discussion that we're going to be talking about today happens to be on marriage devotionals. So be sure to check out Husband and Wife After God. [Aaron] Yeah, those are our two devotionals that we wrote for husbands and wives to go through together. They can go through them separately, too, right? Yep. But we'll talk about that. [Jennifer] But if you're shopping on the store, you can check those out, and there's more information there for you, specifically on those devotionals. [Aaron] Awesome. So, icebreaker question, all right? [Jennifer] Dun dun dun. [Aaron] What is your definition of "and they lived happily ever after?" [Jennifer]Okay, so, we've talked about this before, but we're not really into this phrase. It's a hopeful and a happy phrase, for sure. [Aaron] Yeah, it's-- [Jennifer] But at the end of my book-- [Aaron] It's got a dead end on it, I feel like. [Jennifer] Well, I think at the end of my book, the end of our story, I'd much rather hear the line, and "they entered heaven, "and God said with a smile on His face, "well done, my good and faithful servants." To me, that's more powerful. [Aaron] Yeah. [Jennifer] Than happily ever after. Which means that we used our marriage for His purposes, and not just our own, and in the process being happy is a byproduct of Yeah. serving Him. Yeah, just, it-- It might mean-- It feels one goal focused, and word focused of we're just going to be happy for the rest of our lives, and I don't, first of all, it's not even possible. The Bible tells us that we will endure trials and things like that, so when I think of it, I actually wanna reword it and say, "and they lived joyfully ever after God." [Jennifer] Oh, there you go. [Aaron] Like as a marriage, we're chasing after him. [Jennifer] Kinda the same thing. [Aaron] Yeah, but its with joy, which is more of, it's something that exists even when we're not happy. Because when things aren't easy and hard, we can have joy, but instead of just "happily ever after" like the white picket fence, just the American Dream, or just things going well for the rest of our marriage. We have a bigger purpose of, it's not just to make us happy, but it's to pursue God and what He's doing in His kingdom, so I would just change. Yeah, we've never really liked that phrase. It's not that it's a bad phrase. [Jennifer] No. [Aaron] It just doesn't feel deep enough Or complete. Or long, or long-lasting enough, yeah. [Jennifer] It's not complete. [Aaron] Alright, we'll move on to the topic. That was an okay question, we'll have a better question next week, one that's funnier I think, 'cause those are usually funny questions, huh? [Jennifer] Not always. [Aaron] So we're gonna be talking about our devotionals a little later, but we have some quotes from them to start off the episode with, and this is a quote from my devotional Husband After God. It's on page 16, it says, "Marriage is an opportunity "to bring glory to God as you share with the world "His testimony by loving your wife "the way Christ loves the church." [Jennifer] Okay, and I'm gonna share my quote from Wife After God, it's on page 117. "Being a submissive wife is beautiful, "as it reflects God's divine order. "When a husband loves his wife like Christ loves, "and a wife submits to her husband, "that reflection clearly represents "God's grace-filled love story. "The benefits in a marriage like this are extraordinary." So they kinda mirror each other, they go hand in hand. [Aaron] Well, now that's the reason we wrote the devotionals, was to highlight for the husband and wife, why they're married and why God has His order and His ways for us to follow. It's because we have a message to proclaim. [Jennifer] Mm-huh. [Aaron] We have a purpose in this world. Which again goes to the bigger picture of what we wrote Marriage After God for, which comes out in June, which is just that. That our marriages are a ministry and that when we walk the way the Bible calls us to walk. We actually proclaim His message to the world, which is pretty incredible. [Jennifer] Yeah. [Aaron] To think about that, our marriages have much more to do in this world than just make us happy, which goes back to our question, really. But let's start off the topic with why it's important to do a marriage devotional together. 'Cause I'm sure there's a lot of marriages out there, people listening, that are wondering like, "hey, we do our devotionals separately, but what benefit could it be for us to do one together? [Jennifer] Or maybe they're not doing any together or any at all, and they've been waiting for something, they're looking for something. We're hoping that this catches their attention and maybe inspire them to get started on one today. [Aaron] Yeah, so let's talk about some of the benefits, some of the things that come to mind that could be, that could come out as fruit, [Jennifer] Okay. [Aaron] from doing a devotional together. [Jennifer] So the first thing that comes to mind is just cultivating oneness and intimacy from the experience of doing it together. Right. So, focusing and being intentional in the act of doing something together like a marriage devotional. [Aaron] Right, 'cause usually, if we have books that we read at night, often it's just to ourselves. It's, we're the only ones benefiting from it, or enjoying it, but a devotional that we can do together. If it's in the evening or in the morning, or in the afternoon, whenever that works. It's an intentional time to be together in the Word of God. It requires conversation, introspective thinking, dialogue, lots of stuff that would go on, that which cultivates more and more intimacy. Yeah. Right? Instead of us just, I work, come home, how was your day, awesome. We actually can go deep and say, hey, what did you think of that scripture or how does that make you feel or hey, that reminds me of when I was a kid and... [Jennifer] Yeah, and just to take it one step further, when you consider a devotional, you're usually gonna find those kind of journal questions or discussion questions or, like you said, to think introspectively, that you can use as conversation starters. 'Cause some people, they want to share their hearts with their spouse, but they don't really know how to-- That's a good point, yeah. or where to start, and so a marriage devotional will usually take the hardness out of the equation and say, here talk about this. Right. [Jennifer] And both people can look at the paper and go, oh! Or look at the book or look at whatever they're looking at and say, that's what we have to discuss, so we're gonna talk about that right now. [Aaron] Yeah, so they could stretch our intimacy muscles. How deep can we go in the conversation? The things that we could talk about. Those questions are usually formulated to cause deeper discussion than you would normally get into. It's a good point, and you know what? Growing spiritually is a very intimate thing. [Jennifer] Yeah. [Aaron] The deepest part of us is our spirit and we're cultivating that with each other. Praying with each other is an extremely intimate thing. We're entering the throne room of God together, we are praying together, we are lifting each other's hearts up, we're hearing each other's hearts, and then discussing the Word of God together, those are super intimate things. [Jennifer] Yeah, growing in the word of God together, that's a powerful thing for a marriage to be doing. I think that we all should be doing that. [Aaron] Okay, well, of course. Like as Christians, we're called to grow and mature, but as marriages, as a single unit, as one, we should be growing and maturing together also. Not growing and maturing separately only. That should be happening, but growing together, and I think what's awesome about doing a devotional together, also allows us to be accountable to each other. Yeah. Right? If we've been discussing, self-control, or our anger, or anything that this devotional might be calling out of us, we can actually pay attention together instead of me trying to work on it privately, [Jennifer] Yeah. [Aaron] and you don't really know what I'm working on. We actually could say, hey, remember the devotional last night we were just talking about this, like hey, let's working on that. [Jennifer] That's good. [Aaron] And I feel like you might've forgot the thing that we've committed to because of that question we answered the other night. So it helps us to be working on similar things throughout the day and keep each other accountable, and look out for each other's growth and maturity. [Jennifer] Another benefit is being an example for your children, and when those children become adults and they're married, you can say, have suggestions for them. Hey, we did this marriage devotional, we did that together. You and your spouse should try that. [Aaron] Yeah, and then they also see us, especially if we do visible, like in front of them, periodically, maybe not every day, but, hey, mommy and daddy are gonna do our quiet time together now, you guys can look at your books or go play quietly with your legos, and they know that that's an important thing to us, that we separate time to be in the Word together. It actually kinda convinced me thinking about it right now, we should do that more. [Jennifer] Yeah, we should. [Aaron] We should be getting away more together, so let's start doing that. [Jennifer] Okay, deal. [Aaron] I was gonna say, another thing I think about is, again, going back to the main purpose why we, our marriage exists, what God wants to do in us, is that there's a message to be proclaimed, there's a mission to be accomplished. I think of that scripture that tells us to be ready in and out of season, it tells us to be ready to give an answer for the hope that we have in us, and doing a devotional together and growing together on the same page, in the Word of God and learning what He has to say to us and what he wants to do through us. It helps us be ready for when our neighbor says, "hey, what's so different about your life, "why do you believe in this God of yours?" We're prepared together, instead of maybe you not-- Not knowing or... Not being ready or me not be in the same place. [Jennifer] Yeah, it's good. [Aaron] Yeah, but we would both be prepared to give an answer for our faith. [Jennifer] Yep, and the last thing I think of with all of these things that we've already shared about the importance of doing a marriage devotional together is simply that it's investment for your marriage. So, the quality time you're spending together to do it, the intimacy that you are cultivating when discussing difficult things or very deep things, and, like you said, being ready to share the hope that you have. All of these things are an investment into the marriage relationship, and when you invest into your marriage, you're growing in that relationship, you're building trust, you're building closeness, that bond between you, and I feel like that will strengthen a couple to go even further. [Aaron] Yeah, and keep going. [Jennifer] Like year after year after year. So I just wanted to make that note. [Aaron] That's good, so and the end result of pursuing God together, growing and maturing together, growing the Word of God together, doing a devotional together, all of these things to cultivate the oneness and intimacy and strength. The benefit and result is becoming and living as biblical men and women. [Aaron] We become more like what the Bible says. We represent that more, which has benefits also. When we just become the kind of people God desires us to be. There's benefits, and what are some of those? [Jennifer] So, you know, I just think of advancing as a Christian, and we get to do that together. So we see areas of our life that are weak, and maybe doing a devotional together could point to an aspect of our lives that needs to be transformed or worked on or practiced. Or cut out altogether. [Jennifer] Or cut out altogether, and we get to see us take steps towards growth in those areas. So we're moving forward not backwards. [Aaron] Yeah, when we walk in the way that the Word tells us to and calls us to, we experience more love, we learn about it more, we're filled more with God's love in us. So our marriage, we benefit from that, and our children benefit from that. [Jennifer] Totally. [Aaron] And our neighbors. The people that we interact with, there's more joy, more love, more peace. [Jennifer] Yeah. [Aaron] All those, you know, fruit of the spirit is in us. [Jennifer] Yeah, it's good. [Aaron] And that's a huge benefit of walking in obedience to the things that the Word calls us to. [Jennifer] Yeah, some other benefits are just, when you're working on areas of yourself to be more like God, I feel like He draws things out of your heart that need to be worked on, like being healthier with choices that you make, or being wiser, you know, like those kinds of things. [Aaron] Be better stewards of our resources, our money. [Jennifer] Yeah. [Aaron] Which all benefit our marriage, our life, our relationships, and then the most important thing, and we brought this up a moment ago, is the Gospel, the good news about Jesus Christ and what He came to this Earth to do for us is spread because we are in His Word and we're growing. And we look for opportunities to talk to people about God, and to love on people for God, and to share our story with people. That's the fruit that comes out of us, it's an overflow of what God puts in us. So we're talking about the benefits of doing a devotional, of getting into the Word of God together, but is that, I think of the devotionals we made and how can we share with them more about our devotionals and whether or not they might wanna jump in today. Just getting in the Word of God. 'Cause even if you don't get our devotionals, ever, or anyone else's devotionals, being in the Word of God together is more than adequate. It's what God wants us to do, Yeah. invest in His Word. [Jennifer] And we don't have to over complicate it, like seriously, just open up the Bible, read a chapter or two and talk about it. Ask each other the simple question of what stood out to you, start there. [Aaron] Yeah, and we try and do that. Sometimes, some nights I just read out loud. We don't talk about anything, we just, I read out loud until Jennifer falls asleep, or until we're just like, okay, awesome. And usually it ends up in a really great conversation about something that was triggered by what we read. You know, oh that made me think of today when, or last week I forgot to mention, and we have these really good conversations around the Word of God, but you know, we've had a lot of people over the years ask us about devotionals and want things to do together, and we made two devotionals, Husband After God and Wife after God, separate ones, because there are some marriages where the spouse isn't in the same place and so, we've had many people just buy just the devotional for themselves and start going through and start praying for their husbands or getting into the Word of God. [Jennifer] Or sometimes they buy the bundle in hopes that the other person will read theirs. [Aaron] Yep, we've seen that a lot also. We've actually seen people say, "hey, I didn't think my husband was gonna do it," And then he did. and then he totally started doing it. But the main point is that you do it together. [Jennifer] Yeah. [Aaron] You get these devotionals, you read through them, and so let's talk a little bit about these devotionals. Why don't you start off and then we'll just dig in to some of the information about them and maybe people will love the idea. [Jennifer] Yeah, so like Aaron said, our biggest thing here today is just to give you guys a little bit of insight to our marriage devotionals, but overall just encourage you to be doing something together, because it will cultivate that intimacy and oneness. But we wanna give you some insight into our devotionals, just to give you an option and show you what's out there. So, I wrote Wife After God. The subtitle is Drawing Closer to God and Your Husband. It's a 30 day marriage devotional. I wrote this back in 2013, right after I had Elliot. That was a long time ago. [Jennifer] Yep, and, I wanted something that a wife could hold in her hands that would help her better understand God's purpose and design for marriage and her role as a wife and to see that reflection, that picture, that's talked about in Ephesians 5 of Christ's relationship to the church. [Aaron] Yeah, it started off with, we wanted to, you wanted to show wives the ministry they had in their marriage Yes. toward their husband. Yes. [Aaron] Which is what the Bible shows us on both sides that the husband has a ministry to his wife and the wife has a ministry to her husband, and the symbol, like you said, it shows to the world. [Jennifer] So I'm just gonna read couple of these, I'm not gonna read through all of them, but these are just some of the chapter titles, so that they can get an idea for it. God's Purpose for Your Marriage. The Need for Companionship. Ministry of Reconciliation. Perfect Posture. [Aaron] That's a good one. You actually get a lot of comments about that chapter. I do. Wisdom Calls Out. Who You Are Called to Be. The Parts of Marriage. Fruitfulness. Intimacy With God. Love Letter to Your Husband. That's what it ends on, which I love that one. But that's just a handful of them and we'll get to the Husband After God. [Aaron] Yeah. [Jennifer] After we kind of, summarize Wife After God, 'Cause I want the guys to hear what's in yours, which is, Yeah. it's just as good. So anyways, the way that I outlined this is share about a page to a page and a half of whatever that topic is. [Aaron] And it's usually story-driven, it's either from our life, or another story we've heard to illustrate the point. [Jennifer] Yep, and then it goes into a prayer for that day specific to that day, and then you'll see a challenge, which is usually a challenge for you and your relationship with God or you in your relationship with your husband. So hopefully those inspire you guys just to do something you either have never done before or maybe haven't done in a really long time to cultivate that intimacy. Then there's the status update, which I don't know if a lot of people see in books, but we've decided to put the status update challenge in there for people who want to share this message that they're learning with people on social media. That's another way that this message of Wife After God gets out. It can be a catalyst for people to ask, hey what are you doing? What is that thing that you keep posting about? And it just gives a real quick glimpse in one sentence of that day's topic. [Aaron] Yeah, it's also a way of solidifying and vocalizing some of the things you're choosing to walk in. So you're stating it publicly. I'm going to be or I'm going to do, and then it makes it a real thing. Instead of it just in your mind, you're like oh, I'll work on that some day. [Jennifer] And what I love seeing is when people tag me in these and they post a picture of their wedding day with it, or a recent picture. They do that a lot. They post pictures from their wedding day, which is awesome. [Jennifer] Or a recent picture of them together. [Aaron] Yeah, I love that. And it encourages other couples, they say, "oh what is that?" And they want to be a part of it, and it's just a neat way of spreading the Gospel, spreading the message of being a godly wife, being a godly husband and what that means. [Jennifer] And each day has specific scriptures that support the topics that we're sharing, which I don't want to skip over, but just so you guys know, the reason we didn't quote the scripture in there is because we want you to get into the Word of God yourselves, so we just list the scriptures. [Aaron] Yeah, 'cause people always ask, "what version of the Bible did you use in the verses?" All we say, well, we just put the references, not the actual scriptures, so it's all our content, and what's awesome is it requires you to open your Bible. [Jennifer] Yep, and-- [Aaron] Which is the focus. [Jennifer] The last thing I wanna share is one of my favorite parts of these devotionals and it's the journal questions after each day's, at the end of each day, and you can use these. We gave space under each question that you can fill it out right then and there or you can use them and fill it out in your own personal journal, or you can use these as discussion questions either in a group setting. So if you're doing this with a handful of other wives, or you can use them as discussion questions between you and your spouse to answer. [Aaron] Or all of the above. [Jennifer] Or all of the above if you wanna, that'd be awesome. [Aaron] So, I'm going to go through the Husband After God and pull some of the points. It's formatted exactly the same way, but the content is complementary. It's different content focused on the husband with some different topics, but some of the topics are similar, but with different content, if that makes sense. [Jennifer] Yeah. [Aaron] So you could totally do this with your spouse and you would have different questions that you can go back and forth on. You would have different stories and different points to pull from, even different scriptures, but the themes might be the same in some areas, so I'm gonna read some of the topics. Marriage By Design. Lead By Example. Your Wife is a Gift. Sacrificial Love. Set Yourself Apart. Be Brave. The Good Fight. Pride. Everyone loves that chapter, I think. Forgiveness. Words Matter. Prayer For Your Wife. Avoiding God. Walk in Victory. And then the last one is The Husband Revolution, which is a fun one. It's proclaiming that mission that we have as husbands and that ministry we have. But yeah, there's a point in the beginning, a couple, a page and a half or two pages, and then there's a prayer for that day, specific to that topic. There's scripture to read. There's questions for you to answer. There's a status update, like this one says, "I will strive to reflect the image "and character of God in my marriage." That's status update, so it's like a statement. Statement, yeah. I'm going to do this and you're telling all your social media friends that you're gonna do it, and then it also let's people know, wait what is he doing? It says #HusbandAfterGod, what is that? [Jennifer] Yeah, what is that? [Aaron] Yeah, there's a challenge on every chapter. This one says share and discuss with your wife what you are learning about the purpose of marriage. So boom, right there, there's an intimate moment that I get to have with my wife where I share with what I'm learning, what God's teaching me about the purpose of marriage. 'Cause imagine if I sat down, or you sit down, husband, with your wife, and you say, oh, you know, I'm learning that God's purpose for our marriage is that I would love you like Christ loves the church. She's gonna be like, what, that's amazing! [Jennifer] And yeah, imagine what that would do to a wife's heart? I know personally, it just makes me feel like, oh my goodness, he cares about me, he loves me, he wants to do this with me and with God, and I don't know, I just love that. [Aaron] I wanna read another challenge. This one's from, what chapter is this? This is from day 21, Prayer For Your Wife, and the challenge is this. Spend time praying for your wife. Share with God why you are thankful for her. Lift up any needs she may have. Pray for her character to reflect Christ, and petition God to protect her. So, the challenge is go find some quiet time and just pray for your wife. [Jennifer] Which we all need those reminders. Every single one of us. [Aaron] So that's the Husband After God devotional. And the topics in each one of them are focused on the wife's role, scriptures that are aligned with that, and then the husband's role and scriptures that are aligned with that, but at the end of the day, what they're doing is they strengthen the marriage overall, making the ministry of that marriage more powerful, and more focused on what God wants for it. [Jennifer] And there's 30 days or 30 topics, so you could easily do this in a month's time. [Aaron] Yeah, well that would be the challenge, is do it every day for a month, for 30 days. [Jennifer] Yep, so I just, real quick, wanna jump into a couple reviews that people have left for these specific devotionals, just so that you guys get an idea of the kind of impact that it's making from other people, and other people's lives. So Aaron, you wanna read the first one? [Aaron] Yeah, this one's from Diamond S. and it says this, "Life changing! "This book is truly a Godsend. "My marriage is better using these books. "My husband and I read them daily and it's helping us "to grow in our marriage and closer to God. "We were just recently baptized December 31st, 2018," which is incredible, [Jennifer] Wow, recently! [Aaron] Yeah, "and this has been an awesome read "for us to continue to have God "at the center of our marriage. "Daily this book hits home and I'm learning more "about being a godly wife. "Thank you so much for this book "and I truly hope all Christian couples read these." [Jennifer] Awesome. [Aaron] Which, I was like, yay, makes me feel good. [Jennifer] Okay, I'm gonna read the next one. It's from Crystal W., "Simply amazing. "I bought both bundles, Husband and Wife After God, "and 31 Prayers For Your Husband and Wife, "and my husband and I are doing both together. "Oh my goodness, it is really good! "Very well written, and when I say these will open up your eyes, I'm not kidding. "And get your steel-toed boots on, "these two books have helped us start off "in a place where God can show up and take over. "We have only been doing these less than two weeks, "and God shows up every day, "relating these books to our daily lives. "God speaks through people and uses people "to minister to others, and, boy, has He here. "If you want God to show up and you really want to love God "through your spouse, and how to do it, "these books, right here is where you wanna start." [Aaron] That one's a good one. I like that one, she said "put on your steel-toed boots." [Jennifer] I know, it's great. [Aaron] Alright, so this last one is from William M. "Just what our marriage needed, awesome! "It brought us closer to God while also enhancing "our individual walk with God, opened our eyes to the things "we were and weren't doing and being accountable. "Very powerful devotionals. "Highly recommended. A++++." [Jennifer] Awh, some people are just so kind, and it always encourages us and we feel like, awesome. We have given couples a catalyst to get into God's word together and to do something that's impacting their relationship, and I'm just praising God. [Aaron] Yeah, and our goal all along, has not been to replace the Bible. Our purpose of these books was to point people to the Bible. [Jennifer] Yeah. [Aaron] Always pointing back to the Bible, always pointing back to God. [Jennifer] Awesome, okay, so I wanna move into this next, sort of, sessions. [Aaron] These are kinda like questions, Q&As. [Jennifer] Yeah, Q&As on... [Aaron] Oh no, they're FAQs, that's what it is. [Jennifer] Okay, on the topic. So, can these be read together at the same time or not? [Aaron] Both! We recommend them being done together. They could be read separately, or they could be read together, taking turns, but our sentiment is, hey, do them, and then come together and discuss the chapter for the day, discuss the thought for the day, how you answered the questions, do the prayers together, pray- [Jennifer] Sometimes they pray the prayers out loud, too. [Aaron] Yeah, so I would say both. Like we said earlier, there's some marriages where the husband or the wife are not there, they're not doing it. So the other spouse is just doing it on their own. [Jennifer] And the great thing about these devotionals is you can utilize them more than just once, go back through it again, you know? It's really good content, so it's not wasted, just keep going through it again. [Aaron] Yeah, they're good reminders of what the Word says about who we are and what God's called for us. The next question is can they be used to lead a small group? [Jennifer] And the answer for that is, yes. So, some tips for this. If you're gonna do, host small group, let's say that you have five other wives who wanna go through Wife After God together, we would suggest everyone gets a copy, just so that they can go through it on their own throughout the week, and then meet up, once a week for a month or two, depending on how you want to do it, and just use the journal questions, in the back of each day as the discussion questions to talk about. [Aaron] Yeah, and you might be able to break up the chapters, so like the first four chapters on week one, and the next four chapters or five chapters on week two. [Jennifer] Yeah, and you don't have to use the journal questions, You can just simply say, okay, what have you been learning? What stood out to you? That kind of thing. [Aaron] Ideally, they would, whoever has these devotionals, the people listening, if they have these devotionals or if they're going to get them, when they're done going through them, they should invite married couples over to their house, and start a little marriage Bible study with those couples. [Jennifer] That would be awesome. And here's the other tip, if you guys were to do this soon, there's even enough time, by the time you finish that small group, Marriage After God will be out. The new book, yeah. The new book, and then you could do that same group study With that book. With book. [Aaron] Yeah, 'cause that book is significantly different than these devotionals. [Jennifer] Okay, so I want to give one more tip and this is just a fun thing to do with your group, if you're gonna do a group. I did a small group, which actually led me to writing this devotional. I did it for three months with a handful of wives from my church, we were all young wives, kind of in the same season of life, and-- [Aaron] No one had kids yet, back then. [Jennifer] No one had kids yet. One friend had one young, young baby. So, anyways, we got together weekly, once a week, for three months, and the second to the last, or maybe the third to the last one, we made handmade invitations for our husbands. [Aaron] Oh, this is definitely a good idea. [Jennifer] We planned and prepared a dinner that we were gonna host for our husbands on that last evening and talk about the discussion questions and what we learning on that night with everyone. And so we thought it was gonna be fancy, we thought we wanted to dress up, we thought we all wanted to cook together. So we made these handmade invitations and then a couple weeks later, we all got together, we got there early, set the table, got flowers, made the dinner, and all the husbands showed up, dressed super nice, we were just at a friend's house. [Aaron] That, I remember this. That was a lot of fun and I felt really honored. [Jennifer] Everybody just, everybody felt honored. Everybody had smiles on their faces and what's really cool about that night is the guys actually, because they knew it was coming, they all talked and prepared on how they were gonna encourage us women and share how they've seen us change over that time we'd been meeting together. So then at the dinner table, everyone went around and shared. It was incredible, it was so awesome. [Aaron] It was really powerful, and very enjoyable, and the food, I can't remember what it was, but I remember it was really good. [Jennifer] Yeah, so you could do something fun like that together. [Aaron] So last question is, why should they read these devotionals now, as a primer for the Marriage After God book coming out in June? [Jennifer] So, first thing you guys should know is, we did write these devotionals a couple years ago, and when we get people who have been through them asking us what's next, we want to give you something. We've been wanting to give you something since they first came out. [Aaron] We've had four kids since then, so... [Jennifer] Yeah, we've been a little busy, but this was a catalyst, you guys asking and desiring this has been a catalyst for why we wrote Marriage After God. So I feel like these devotionals are the brief version. [Aaron] I think they're the first stepping stone. [Jennifer] It's like a stepping stone, because then, I feel like your hearts will be ready. More unified. And more unified for jumping into the message that is in the book, Marriage After God. [Aaron] Yeah, the Marriage After God book. You're going to be hearing a lot about this, so we're starting to talk about it more because as it gets closer to launching, we want you all to know what it's about, and why we wrote these books. And we wrote Marriage After God as a culmination of everything that God's been teaching us over the years about the ministry that God has for our marriages. And so these devotionals are step one in that. [Jennifer] Yeah, they'll get you thinking about the purpose of your marriage in light of God's Word. [Aaron] Yep, and by the time the book comes out, you'll be ready to take that next step into what God has for your marriage and where He wants to take it. 'Cause that was the whole purpose of writing the book was, we want marriages all over the world who claim the name of Christ, who love God, to recognize the power in the ministry that they have in Christ as a marriage, as one. And so we're super excited about that. [Jennifer] Yeah, I think another thing is, is if you do these devotionals together, it will start to build that habit of spending time together and reading together and asking each other some deep questions. So that when the Marriage After God book comes out, that habit will already be there and you'll want to replace the devotionals with the book. So I think that it's just a natural step. [Aaron] Yeah, and I wanna go, I got really excited about something. I wanna go right back to the small group subject again. I love that idea, and I actually wanna challenge our listeners. We weren't planning on doing this, but I want to challenge our listeners to get a copy of our devotionals, the Husband and Wife After God devotionals. Go through them, and at the end of the 30 days, during the 30 days, be praying and asking God, what other couples are in your life that He wants you to invite to a study at your house, a Marriage After God study? And then invite them to get the books. It could be two couples, it could be one couple, it could be five couples. I wouldn't do more than maybe six couples, that's a lot of people. Do multiple studies, maybe, but I just wanna challenge you to be praying through the books as you do them, and asking God who it is. You might be thinking right now, oh my gosh, I have this friend, these friends, they would love to do this with us, and start a Bible study and walk through these studies, these books together and see what God has for all your marriages. What we're trying to start here is a movement of marriages after God, of marriages who desire to grow the kingdom of God, to see Him move through their marriages, and that we would use our marriages for ministry for Him. That's why we started the podcast. That's why we started our blogs. All of this goes back to that, that we're moving the kingdom forward with God, and that we see our marriages as the ministries He's given us and the tools that He's given us to serve Him. [Jennifer] Mmm, that's good. [Aaron] So would you agree with that challenge? [Jennifer] I agree, I like that challenge, and just to simplify it and make it easy for them to understand. Just tell these people it'll be four or six weekS, whatever you want the timing to be on it, which is not a long time to meet together. It's not at all. [Jennifer] It's once a week, for four weeks, or once a week for six weeks. [Aaron] Try the four weeks, I think the four week one, just one month to see if it works, see if you're like wow, this is awesome. And but first, I would say you go through the devotionals as a couple first. And during that 30 days, you pray, and fast if need to, and you ask the Lord. Say, Lord, reveal to us, who is it? And I know the Lord will. The moment we ask God, like God use me, He's like okay, He wants to use us. [Jennifer] Marriages need it, you guys, that's why we're doing this, because marriages need the support, the encouragement of other believers, they need to know why God has them together. [Aaron] The reminder of not just happily ever after, but it's that we're chasing after God together, that we're building His kingdom together, that we have a mission in this world and our marriage is the tool to accomplish the mission. Yeah, and going back to the message of the Marriage After God book, that's what the whole book's about, what is the mission God has for us? [Jennifer] And if you guys have already been through these devotionals, and this is old news to you, because you've already been through these, I want you to go dust them off, go get them, and go do exactly what Aaron is challenging you to do right now and consider- [Aaron] Let's start our movement. [Jennifer] Yeah, consider who you can invite over to go through them with you. [Aaron] Ooh, how can they let us know if they're doing it? 'Cause actually I would love to know. I'd love to see the groups-- Groups, a group photo! We wanna see a group photo- Tagged! [Jennifer] @MarriageAfterGod. [Aaron] Yeah, tag @MarriageAfterGod and #MarriageAfterGod, and we will look 'em and actually I think we'll repost them. [Jennifer] Yeah. [Aaron] Not all of them, but we'll repost a lot of them. So if you do this, please let us know. We'd love to be praying for you, being part of it, and we are praying for you, but if you're going to be doing a group, we want to pray for your group, we want to pray for your Bible study. I'm getting all excited, okay. [Jennifer] Okay, so last note before we go into the prayer for this episode, and that is, get ready, because we have 16 weeks ahead of us of a book series for Marriage After God that we're going to be diving into starting next week with the introduction. [Aaron] That's true, and you know what's awesome? We forgot to mention this, this is episode 52. This is, we've been doing this for one year. Woohoo! Today. [Jennifer] Thank you guys for following along, and listening, this is awesome. [Aaron] Yeah, so for the next 16 episodes, we're going to be talking about content from the book. [Jennifer] And it's actually 17, 'cause it's 16 chapters, plus the introduction, so 17 weeks. [Aaron] So you're going to be learning a lot about the message of the Marriage After God book, which is essentially of the Marriage After God podcast, and how our hearts is to start a movement in Christian marriages around the world. And we'd love for you to be a part of that, and to take ownership in that, and know that God's gonna do something amazing. And we're excited to see what that is. So before we close, as always, we've dedicated to pray for you and your marriage and for what God's doing, and so Jennifer would you like to pray for us? [Jennifer] Dear Lord, thank you for creating marriage. Thank you for considering our counterpart and complement. Thank you that we do not have to endure this life alone. Not only do we get to live with the presence of Your Holy Spirit and our spouse, but we also get to benefit from living in community with other believers. May we walk together in unity as You have always intended us to. Please continue to draw us closer to Yourself and closer to each other. Continue to transform our hearts and our minds so that our character reflects Your character. Help us to intentionally invest in marriage by learning how to fulfill our roles as husbands and wives. Thank you for revealing to us why you created marriage and the purpose it has in this world. May this purpose motivate us to walk righteously every day. Remind us daily that our marriage is a symbol to this hurting world of your powerful and unconditional love. We pray that as Christian husbands and wives, we aim to minister to one another in our marriages by being obedient to all that You have commanded through Your Word. May we be prayer warriors who do not neglect to pray for one another. We pray that as we make ourselves known to You and to each other, that we experience extraordinary intimacy. We pray for Your will to be done in our marriages and through our marriages and may You be glorified. In Jesus' name, Amen. [Aaron] Amen, thank you Lord. We're excited to see pictures. We're excited to see what God's gonna be doing in your marriage through these devotionals, through the Bible study that you're gonna start, I'm making it a definitive. [Jennifer] And tag @MarriageAfterGod so we can see and cheer you along! [Aaron] Yeah, and just start praying and asking God how He wasn't to use you and your spouse. That's our heart, that's our goal, that's why we do this, is that you would recognize the place that you have in the body of Christ, and that it's a significant one. Doesn't matter who you are, doesn't matter where you live, God's got a plan for you, He's got a purpose for your marriage, for your life individually, and you are a part of the body of Christ. And God's got work for us to do, [Jennifer] Let's do it. [Aaron] as his children. Yeah, so let's do it and we love you guys. We thank you for joining us on our 52nd episode, one year in, here's to another year, and we'll see you next week! Did you enjoy today's show? Find many more encouraging stories and resources at and let us help you cultivate an extraordinary marriage.

 My Personal Struggle With Pornography and Lust as a Wife | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 00:41:54

We are sexual beings. God created us with a beautiful way of expressing deep love in marriage through the physical action of being one with our spouse, and it is the way he designed us, humans, to recreate, to multiply his image. Just like any wonderful and necessary part of God’s design and purpose, the enemy has found a way to destroy it. The last episode we talked about Aaron's struggle with pornography and how it affected our marriage. Today we thought we would share my struggle and pull into the light the truth that pornography is not just a guy problem. Dear Lord, We pray first and foremost that husbands and wives would give you their hearts, that they would obey all that you command in your word and that they would love you with all of their hearts. We pray that if any of them are addicted or struggling with pornography that they would choose to stop today. Holy Spirit, please remind us daily of Your desire for us to live holy and pure lives. We pray we would not live in hiding, but rather, may we be transparent with others, confessing our sin and repenting of it, so that it will not have a stronghold in our lives. Give us stamina to pray for protection against the enemy and against our flesh. Remind us every day to pray for ourselves, for our spouses, for our children, and for our children's future spouses. May we be men and women who choose to walk faithfully with You. In Jesus’ name, amen! Support this podcast by grabbing one of our marriage books. READ: [Aaron] Hey, we're Aaron and Jennifer Smith with Marriage After God. [Jennifer] Helping you cultivate an extraordinary marriage. And today, we're gonna talk about my personal struggle with pornography and lust as a wife. [Aaron] Welcome to the Marriage After God podcast where we believe that marriage was meant for more than just happily ever after. [Jennifer] I'm Jennifer, also known as Unveiled Wife. [Aaron] And I'm Aaron, also known as Husband Revolution. [Jennifer] We have been married for over a decade. [Aaron] And so far, we have four young children. [Jennifer] We have been doing marriage ministry online for over seven years through blogging and social media. [Aaron] With the desire to inspire couples to keep God at the center of their marriage, encouraging them to walk in faith everyday. [Jennifer] We believe that Christian marriage should be an extraordinary one, full of life-- [Aaron] Love-- [Jennifer] And power-- [Aaron] That can only be found by chasing after God-- [Jennifer] Together. [Aaron] Thank you for joining us in this journey as we chase boldly after God's will for our life together. [Jennifer] This is Marriage After God. [Aaron] Hey, thanks for joining us on another podcast episode. Last week's episode was super, super powerful and impactful. We've had tons of messages from people just sharing how my story of addiction to pornography and how God freed me from it has blessed them and has brought them freedom. And again, it's not me. It's God working through my testimony. And in reality, it's his testimony 'cause of what he did in my life. But we thank you for joining us on this week's episode which is also gonna be very vulnerable and very sensitive to us, but we pray that it has an impact in your life. And if you've been enjoying our podcast and you haven't done so yet, we'd love to invite you to leave us a review, a star review, a star rating, and a text review. Those help other people find our podcast and we love reading 'em. They're really encouraging. [Jennifer] Also, we just wanted to invite you guys to take a minute to check out That's a great way that you can help support our podcast, the Marriage After God podcast, by shopping through our store. And just to highlight one specific book, The Unveiled Wife, we're gonna be sharing on this sensitive topic today about my personal struggle with pornography and lust as a wife. And I share even more detail in The Unveiled Wife. So if you are on the store and you want to check that book out. You know, if this episode stirs anything in your heart and you just feel like you need an additional resource, check out The Unveiled Wife. [Aaron] Awesome. So here's the icebreaker question for this week. Who is the best cook in our marriage? [Jennifer] Before I answer that, I feel like I'm glad this question was a little bit light hearted because we're going into some sensitive stuff. So at least we can get all the laugh and everything out of the way. [Aaron] We'll laugh a little bit, I think. I'm nervous. We'll be careful. Yes, it is a nerve racking topic. [Jennifer] Okay, who's the best cook? I am. [Aaron] Yeah, okay. [Jennifer] You are? [Aaron] We both are. I would say I think we have strengths in different areas of cooking. [Jennifer] I was gonna say you are. [Aaron] You are an incredible baker. Your biscuits are amazing. And I love smoking stuff in my Traeger. [Jennifer] You're great at it. [Aaron] Yeah, so I think we're good. We didn't use to be good at it. We have some funny stories. [Jennifer] We were terrible at cooking. [Aaron] Remember that one time you made spaghetti and you forgot to boil the noodles? [Jennifer] Yeah, so it was baked ziti. [Aaron] Oh yeah, baked ziti. [Jennifer] And it's one of those dishes where you kind of like layer and then bake. And so I just threw everything together and started baking away, and we had friends coming over. [Aaron] We pull it out of the oven. [Jennifer] It was like nine o'clock at night and I'm like you guys, it's still not done. I don't know. [Aaron] We try eating it. It's like crunchy. We had to pull all the noodles out and boil 'em-- [Jennifer] Yup, and then mix everything back together. [Aaron] But you have totally redeemed yourself because the baked ziti you brought to church this last Sunday was incredible. [Jennifer] Thanks. [Aaron] So. Yeah, I would say we're both really good cooks. [Jennifer] I appreciate your love of cooking because it helps me out on times that I'm not interested or can't get to it. So I think we make a good team in the kitchen. [Aaron] Yeah, cool. That was a good question. Alright. So I'm gonna read a quote. We try and do a quote every week. And this is a quote from my own devotional which you can get at It's called Husband After God. It's a 30 day devotional for husbands. And of course, we have the wife companion devotional called Wife After God as well but this is a quote from my book. And it says this on page 65. What you bring into your heart, you bring into your home. It's a short quote but I think it's a powerful statement that what's in our hearts, whether people see it, whether it's visible, whether our spouse knows about it, it is brought into our home and one way or another, it's gonna come out. It's gonna come out in the way we treat our spouse and in the way we treat our children. And it may even become visible, like you know with pornography, if it's something I'm searching on my computer, on my phone, or some roundabout way, my children, my wife, someone in my home's gonna stumble upon it. It's gonna affect the way I think, the way I act, and not just me, but us. So just a good reminder and especially going into the topic we're going to talk about. What we bring into our heart, we bring into our home and we have a responsibility to protect what we are viewing, listening to, consuming as Christians. [Jennifer] Yeah, I was gonna ask you to explain really quickly what it means to bring something into your heart. Like is it just, you know, an overall what you expose yourself to? Or do you actually have to like receive it? Like what does that look like? [Aaron] To be honest-- [Jennifer] 'Cause you know people are gonna try and justify that line of like what, well, I didn't bring that in. Just because I did that thing doesn't mean I, you know, brought it into my heart. [Aaron] No, that's a good point. I think just usually it's gonna come from things that we enjoy. I enjoy movies, right? And I used to be able to justify well, there was only that one little scene but the rest of the movie was okay. And what I'm doing is I'm allowing something into my heart through my eyes, through something I'm entertaining and enjoying. And those things, they come in. And unless we deal with them. The Bible tells us to take every thought captive. Unless we deal with the things that we're allowing into our heart. I may listen to certain music, right? And they just the kinds of salacious lyrics and the kinds of things that I'm listening to over, and over, and over again. The Bible calls that meditation. And that's how we bring the scripture into our hearts is be meditating on it, regurgitating it, going over, and over, and over again, repeating it, memorizing it. So if we're doing that with other things, that's how things get into our heart. That's how we absorb things. [Jennifer] And the bottom line is we're choosing it. [Aaron] We're choosing it, yeah. Like I wouldn't say walking down the street and then just something happens. I don't have to let that into my heart. Now, if I'm dwelling on something and I see something, or someone, or a poster, or something on a TV screen in a shop or whatever, I could let it in because I want it. So we have to be careful what things we allow into our hearts 'cause as the Bible says, out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks. And so there's things that we could be allowing in and we may not think directly it's affecting those in our home, but in some way or another, it is or will. [Jennifer] Come out. [Aaron] Come out, yeah. [Jennifer] Good. Okay, so just to be real honest. I think I mentioned in the last episode that I was nervous about it and I didn't really want to do the episode but I knew it was important. And even more so, I really don't want to do this episode but I know it's important. [Aaron] Yeah, last episode, we focused a lot on my walk and how I dealt with pornography and how it affected us. But not a lot of people know your side of the story. Not just your perspective on my sin but your own walk with it. [Jennifer] Yeah. And so naturally, when we're even trying to discuss the title for this episode, it was like I don't want my name attached. I don't want the word wife in there. [Aaron] It was 15 minutes of us. I'm like babe, how are people gonna figure this out? They need to know. She's like I don't want it to be put in there, but it's about you. [Jennifer] It's so hard to talk about our past struggles, and sins, and things that just make you feel so ugly and messy. And I know that God was redeemed me and that I no longer am that person. You know, that's an old self and I don't choose to walk in that way anymore which, you know, God gets that glory for sure, but it still is uncomfortable to talk about. But the reason that I'm willing, the reason that Aaron and I wanted to share this episode with you today is because we know that there are a lot of women who struggle with pornography, lust, and you know-- [Aaron] Sexual sins of this nature, yeah. [Jennifer] Sexual sins. And it's not being talked about a lot. I think it's starting to be. I think that people are starting to recognize that you know, it's not just a man's issue, that it's not just a husband's issue or even a young man's issue. I think that there are. I mean, there are a lot of people, a lot of women who do struggle with it. [Aaron] Naturally, our world is becoming more and more desensitized. We're oversexualized. Every single commercial, every single movie. You can't watch a PG-13 movie without some sort of sexual reference or partial nudity. The oversexualization of everything in our society is making it more and more common. [Jennifer] And so accepting. [Aaron] Well, that's what I'm saying. It's becoming more accepting. And so you have boys and men who expect a certain thing and then you have women who are like well, that's what everyone's expecting now. So there's this nasty cycle of expectation, and desensitization, and oversexualization. As believers, we actually can combat this darkness, right? [Jennifer] Yeah. I think a reason that a lot of people don't say anything or say a lot about women struggling with pornography use is just because it's embarrassing or maybe they feel like they can actually hide it and get away with it because everyone's so focused on it being a man's issue. And so we wanted to bring this to light and kind of just drag this topic out into the open and say hey, if there is a problem, we need to be talking about it. And so hopefully this is that stepping into freedom for anyone who is struggling with it today. [Aaron] Yeah, our prayer before this was that God would open the eyes and hearts of believers who might be walking in this, men and women. And you said that people might not talk about it because of fear or embarrassment. But it's also possible, and we've seen evidence of this, of people just thinking that there's nothing wrong with it. [Jennifer] Yeah. [Aaron] And so they're like why would I talk about it? There's nothing wrong with it. We do this in our marriage. I enjoy this in this way and we're gonna talk about some of the definitions of pornography so we can shine that light on it completely, but that's the goal is that as believers, we would be white as snow. We would be a pure bride for our king. And so I appreciate you, Jennifer, for being so fearless. I know there's a little bit of fear in this. But for sharing your testimony in this area. [Jennifer] Well, I feel like we are, like human nature, we are sexual beings. God created us with this beautiful way of expressing our deep love in marriage for one another in this way through the physical action of being one. [Aaron] Yeah. [Jennifer] Right? And it's his way, it's the way that he designed us to recreate and to multiply his image through childbearing and expressing that love. But just like any wonderful and necessary part of God's design and purpose, the enemy has found a way to destroy it. [Aaron] He's only here to seek out whom he may devour to kill, steal, and destroy. He takes the things that God's created and he manipulates them, mutates them, destroys them, ruins them, perverts them. And so that beautiful thing that God created, you know, sex, and the confines that he created it to exist in, marriage, he's constantly attacking and saying actually no, sex is better outside of marriage. Actually, sex is better when there's multiple partners. Sex is better when you do it this way instead of God's way. And he's done that by tempting believers and everyone in many different ways. But we get to look at the word of God and the way he's invented it and created it and why it's so beautiful. And we get to walk that way. [Jennifer] Okay, so the last episode, you kind of started with just your journey and exposure to pornography so I thought I'd kind of start there with mine. So I was about 10 or 11 when I saw a shredded up piece of a magazine that looked like it had been run over by cars and things laying in a gutter. [Aaron] Weird. That's like how my story started. [Jennifer] I know. I thought about what when you shared it. So I didn't pick that up though. [Aaron] 'Cause it was in the gutter. [Jennifer] Not 'cause it was in a gutter, because it freaked me out but the image was seared into my heart like instantly. It was like okay. And then I thought about it and dwelt on it and that was my first exposure to it. And shortly after that, just some exposure through finding magazines and fantasy books at family member's houses. [Aaron] So when I think about you say it seared into your heart almost immediately. [Jennifer] In my mind. Like I could see it in my mind. [Aaron] What I realize is the way God created us with all of our hormones and the chemicals in our body, and especially at such a young age. Or think of Song of Solomon. It says don't open up love before it's time. And there's a physical reason, a physical response to those sexual hormones. You saw that image and they evoked the correct kind of hormones in you but at the wrong time, and in the wrong way, and that's why it was like so instant in your flesh because your body was like that was something that I've never seen before. That was something I don't know what to do with. And yet, your body was functioning the way it was supposed to. Just in the wrong time, and in the wrong way, and in the wrong environment. [Jennifer] Yeah. And I don't feel like I was taught about sexual purity or even my body really. I wasn't taught to guard or protect my eyes. I didn't know what pornography was. And so in that moment, I didn't know what to do with it so I just kept to myself. I didn't know if I should tell someone. I didn't know how to combat those thoughts that I got from that point, you know, onward. I didn't know how to deal with it. I don't remember my parents really talking to me about sex, except I was told not to do it. [Aaron] Yeah, sex is sin. [Jennifer] Yeah. [Aaron] Until you're married. And then it's not sin anymore. [Jennifer] They didn't even use the word sin. I just remember being told like not to do it. But no one ever explained why. I don't remember there being a strong why. You know that God created it but there was no affirmation that it is a good thing once you're married. [Aaron] Or that your body is something special that needs to be protected and kept for someone. Not many people, but someone. [Jennifer] And now that I'm thinking about it, even the idea of marriage wasn't really talked about in light of an affirming way. It wasn't like, you know. When I think about my kids, they get really excited to be married one day. [Aaron] I know, poor Olive. [Jennifer] Olive, we were driving in the car and she goes, "Mom, I just want to be a mommy right now." Like she doesn't want to wait at all and I get the opportunity and the privilege to affirm that in her and say Olive, you will be married one day. Just wait for it in God's timing. And I don't really remember having a positive perspective of marriage from a young age and I've shared this before, but my parents were divorced when I was really young, around four years old. And so even seeing the example wasn't really present from an early age. Yeah, I think that really impacted me as a young person. [Aaron] If anything, it didn't give you an environment to go, and unintentionally, I don't believe that your parents probably wanted you to feel this way. They probably didn't know how to help you. [Jennifer] They probably didn't know how to navigate it, yeah. [Aaron] But you didn't even know what to do with the feelings you had after seeing that image. You didn't know where to go. You didn't know if you'd be in trouble or if you were feeling was normal and you just didn't know why you felt abnormal. So you didn't even have the environment to help you to do that. And I don't feel like I did either actually. I don't feel like there was an intentional marriage conversation of. I know my mom always had us pray for our future wives. [Jennifer] That's awesome. [Aaron] Yeah. [Jennifer] That's so cool. [Aaron] So there was definitely positive elements but I don't know if there was a direct like hey, this is how you're gonna be as a husband. This is how you're gonna be. Maybe like here and there sporadically but. But yeah, that's probably most people's lives growing up, not having intentional, direct, like hey, if you come across something like this, if you ever feel this way, come right to us and we will walk you through it. We will tell you how to think, and how to feel, and we'll help protect you. [Jennifer] So as a note for those listening, if you're parents of just young kids, we have that obligation and opportunity to affirm them in this way and to have these conversations with them. And I think that's important that we do. [Aaron] Yeah, 'cause if we don't, guess who will? [Jennifer] The world. [Aaron] The world will. It did it for us. We were taught about sex not from the safety and Biblical perspective from our homes. We were taught from the world. And so thank you for reminding the parents that are listening if they're parents to take that responsibility seriously. [Jennifer] So the first time that I did hear anything about pornography in the church setting was when we were in our 20s and the pastor spoke on this specific issue and even didn't shy away from hey, women struggle with it too. Like that was the first time that I really heard pornography preached from the pulpit that it's wrong, and it should be avoided, and that it affects our home. And that too, I share about-- [Aaron] In your 20s? That was the first time? [Jennifer] When we were married. [Aaron] Wow. [Jennifer] So I actually mentioned this story in The Unveiled Wife, but we were sitting in church and this was right after I had confessed everything to you. I confessed my struggles with pornography which up until this point, I hadn't. Okay, so I feel like I'm jumping ahead. So let me just backtrack just a little bit. So I wouldn't say that I ever had like an addiction to pornography, but I was exposed to fantasy books, and magazines, and things like that, and so I was prone to that sin in my heart already. [Aaron] 'Cause I agree. I don't think you were addicted the same way I was but did you use lust, pornography, fantasy books, for coping with what we were going through with-- [Jennifer] Yeah, that's what I wanted to touch on before I hit this story that I write about in The Unveiled Wife. So those first couple years of our marriage were so difficult and so challenging for several reasons but one of them, the major one was we were not sexually intimate with each other. I had physical pain every time that we tried and so I was really depressed and I felt broken. I felt like my body was broken. And on the other side of things, you had mentioned last episode that you were still struggling with pornography at this time. [Aaron] Pretty regularly. [Jennifer] Pretty regularly. And you had confessed to me about your sin and we would have to find a way to reconcile. So with all of this happening, there was some things going on in my heart where because I felt broken, I was searching out the thing that I wanted to be which I wanted to be sexy in our marriage. I wanted to be a woman who wasn't broken. [Aaron] And you wanted to feel that pleasure that we couldn't experience. [Jennifer] Exactly. And then because you had confessed to me, eventually, I got to a place where I was curious. Like what is this thing he keeps going back to and I'm not participating in. And so there was all these things that drove my heart and motivation for struggling with pornography and lust. And even fantasy books like-- [Aaron] Yeah, you'd escape to these love stories. [Jennifer] Love stories. Relational things that-- [Aaron] That some of them had sexual content in 'em, but really it was the-- [Jennifer] It was the emotional affection. [Aaron] That emotional, romantic love story. [Jennifer] That I was being fulfilled in aside from our marriage. So even outside of pornography, I felt. This is why we need to define what pornography is and we're gonna get there in a minute, but I just wanted to be honest and say I did struggle and it was very difficult for me and painful. It makes you feel shameful, and guilty, and not pure. [Aaron] It defiles our marriage bed. So just like that quote I read at the beginning, what you bring into your heart, you bring into your home. So husbands listening, men listening, if you're bringing this into your home, you're involving your family. My wife, she just admitted that because she was hearing it from me, and not that I made her sin, but I invited her-- [Jennifer] There's influence. [Aaron] And showed her. I influenced her. [Jennifer] We influence each other. And that verse that you're talking about is Hebrews 13:4. It says let marriage be held in honor among all and that the marriage bed be undefiled for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous. And just like we share that story about me talking to you about your addiction to pornography and how it was adultery in our marriage, I knew that as well and I really didn't want that, you know? This verse came to my mind and I came to a place where it was like I don't want to be that person. I want to live above reproach. I want to live in purity. And so before all of this, I was hiding it from you. I wasn't openly communicating the things that I was struggling with and I broke. And I knew that I had to confess these things and so I, you know, sat on our bed and told you I needed to talk to you. And about two hours later after so many tears and divulging, and exposing all of my heart. I didn't keep anything from you. I received healing, and comfort, and reconciliation with you that I hadn't before because I always had this area of my heart that was only mine. And I remember that moment being so powerful in our marriage because I had the courage to tell you what I was really doing. And I remember kind of writing about this in The Unveiled Wife that you can't truly love someone unless you really know them. Like in that moment of me confessing everything to you, you had a choice. You could continue to love me and be with me or not. [Aaron] Or stop loving you, yeah. [Jennifer] And for me to know that I could share my entire heart and life with you and you still choose to love me, that was powerful. That's unconditional love. [Aaron] Yeah, there's a song out right now that says to be fully known and still be fully loved, right? Like then that's the idea of what you're saying. That you were fully known to me and still fully loved. Now, there are still consequences to our sin and we talked about this in my episode. You know, us learning how to walk in trust, us learning how to walk in freedom and practicing righteousness, and not bringing this into our children's lives. So yes, I think that was the last time you? [Jennifer] So what happened was that happened on like a Friday, Saturday, and that following Sunday was the church service that the pastor spoke from the pulpit. Nothing's a coincidence. The Lord was like-- [Aaron] Yeah, no coincidences. [Jennifer] Out of, you know, how many people at that service? 5,000 people? 10,000 people in that one service sitting there? I felt like the spotlight was on me. I couldn't stop crying. My mascara was down to my chin and the pastor just kept speaking one truth after another about the lies and deceit about pornography use, about how it's not just a man's issue. He gave statistics on it being a women's issue too and that gets really sticky because a lot of Christian women won't even participate in surveys like that 'cause they don't want to be known in that way. And so he called from the stage and said if any of you have been struggling with this, come forward and we will pray with you and we'll connect you with people who can walk you through this. [Aaron] And did you go forward? [Jennifer] Yeah, well, so I remember standing up, holding your hand with my head on your shoulder and you squeezed my hand when he said come forward. And a song started playing and I was so embarrassed 'cause I knew if I started walking, our friends would see. [Aaron] It would be known to our community. [Jennifer] We would be known. [Aaron] Crazy. I think we have an episode about that. [Jennifer] That was such a hard moment for me but it was defining, which was important. And so we went forward. The pastor prayed and then we went off to this, they call it the decision room where some other friends of ours who had been counseling us in our marriage sat down with us and then we got to be even more fully known with them. [Aaron] I totally forgot about all of this, wow. [Jennifer] It was heartbreaking but so heart-needed. Like it was so necessary for me to address this issue and confess what I was doing, and repent of it. And I did choose that day to walk differently. [Aaron] You know what I think about when I think about like that it's painful but it's so good when there's a broken bone in our body, they don't just wrap it up in a cast and call it a day. Often times, they have to reset the broken bone. They can't just. And if you don't reset it and you let it heal, it heals broken. And then you have to break it again to reheal it, heal it correctly. And so it's almost like God's like no, no, no, I know that you're mine and I know that I love you but I have to heal you and I want to heal you. And this brokenness you feel now is so that you can be whole later. 'Cause that's what he wants from us is wholeness. And so I remember that. and I want to ask you 'cause we talked about defining pornography and I know that the men and the women listening, when they think of pornography, when I think of pornography, the first thing I think of is like videos, photos, those sorts of things, right? The internet's just full of it. We can get it anywhere at any time for free, for money, whatever. But are there other things that we define as pornography that Christians should be thinking of and being aware of, and repent of if they're walking in those ways? [Jennifer] Yeah, so I want to note a couple things. So why is it important to define what pornography is? It's important because if we don't define what it is then our flesh will constantly justify where that line is and keep just pushing it so that you can keep doing the things that you want to do. [Aaron] I'm fine doing this because it's not that. I can keep doing this. Don't talk to me about this because this isn't that. [Jennifer] And even I have a really hard time saying that I struggled with pornography because how I want to define it is videos where that necessarily wasn't my struggle. And that way, I don't have to attach my name and my life to what that sin is. I don't want to be attached to it. Even like I said, struggling with naming this episode. Like I don't want to be attached to that because I hate it so much. But I think it's really important for us to define what it is and be honest with ourselves about what it is. And I think it can include things like what we mentioned, any sort of explicit photos or immodest photos. [Aaron] Like would you feel comfortable if I was like reading Sports Illustrated? [Jennifer] No, I would not. [Aaron] Or like any men's magazine that just is-- [Jennifer] I think it's important that we guard our eyes from immodest. [Aaron] What if I was following, you know, a girl online that she's famous but I just like her movies but she's always in bathing suits and always-- [Jennifer] Immodest. [Aaron] Yeah, it wouldn't make you feel good. And I would feel the same way if you were following. I mean, I doubt very many girls do this but like sexy man online or something that's always half-dressed or whatever. [Jennifer] And I just gotta make another little side note that if you're listening and you're a wife who posts pictures that are immodest-- [Aaron] Oh, good point. [Jennifer] I don't even need to question you on it but just let that sink into your heart and what it means for other people following you. Some other things that I don't want to forget to talk about are fantasy books. You know, things that-- [Aaron] Like when you say fantasy books 'cause fantasy could be. Are you talking about? [Jennifer] Not science fiction. I'm talking about what kinds of plot lines and actions are the characters doing. And if it's impure, and sexual, and I would even go as far as to say if I was reading things that had that emotional relationship fulfillment aspect. Like we need to be careful that we're not going there instead of being fulfilled in our own marriage. And I think that's the key. Now, 'cause there are Christian romance novels. I've never read any of 'em. But would you say that someone could be falling into sin in those books also if they're using those books to escape? [Jennifer] I think if they're using them as an escape because they're not being fulfilled in the marriage, they need to ask themselves what God thinks about that. [Aaron] That's a good point. And then more directly, what about books that have explicit sexual stories? Would you say that's pornographic? [Jennifer] I would. [Aaron] Yeah, because what it does is the exact same thing. Even though it's not visual, the thing is is we are-- [Jennifer] Stimulating that part of our bodies. [Aaron] Sexually stimulating ourselves in a way other than our spouse. For me, I've made it a point, because even after walking in freedom from pornography, I would justify going and seeing a movie that had a minimal sex scene in it, or some sort of brief nudity, or those kinds of things. What do I do now? [Jennifer] Well, you have to review it, research it, make sure that-- [Aaron] I read up. [Jennifer] You usually just end up not going. [Aaron] No, 'cause every movie nowadays has something in it. What I do is now I go to Plugged In. It's a site that reviews movies. It's a Christian site but it gives a pretty full synopsis. And if a movie has sexual content in it, it's a no. And you know what? There's been a bunch of movies I wanted to see that I haven't gone and seen because there would have been a scene in it. And lots of Christians, men are saying well, it doesn't affect me that way. I just shut my eyes or it's not a big deal. I'm not interested in even having a little bit of it in my life. And so I'm constantly asking myself like hey, is this even worth it? [Jennifer] Yeah, I was gonna say that just now. Like people might look at this list we're giving them and going wait a minute. Like so everything basically? But I want them to hear our hearts on this is what benefit does it really have? Our flesh wants to fight to be entertained by these things but what benefit does it have in our marriages and in our families? [Aaron] Yeah, Proverbs says that eye is never seen enough. Like it never has enough. You know, our ears have never heard enough and I think that's a good question, Jennifer, that you asked. Like what benefit does it have? And usually, the benefit is escape, fulfillment. We're looking for something in that piece of entertainment to justify the reason for going and partaking in it, and eating of it, and devouring it, and consuming it, and allowing it into our hearts. And yeah, you're right. I used to go to the movies like pretty much weekly 'cause I love movies. Often, I was escaping my difficult life or I wanted to just. I knew I was gonna go to a movie that might have a scene in it that was going to sexually stimulate me for a moment. But now, I rarely can go see a movie because there's something in it. I'm like okay, well. And you know what? I'm not like missing out on anything. [Jennifer] It continues to build that trust between us because I see you make those choices and I go, I have a good man. [Aaron] And I'm not just making them for you. Like I've intentionally-- [Jennifer] But it impacts me and it impacts our relationship and I appreciate that. You know, when you say that you used to put yourself in these positions or situations, I think that a lot of us do that hoping that we be fulfilled. You know, that our flesh would be fulfilled. And it makes me think of in the Garden of Eden where Adam and Eve were tempted and the serpent's going, basically he's saying it's not that big of a deal. [Aaron] Yeah, like you really think you're gonna die if you even touch it? Which is not what God said. [Jennifer] I know, but it basically boils this thing that they weren't supposed to be doing to it's not really that big of a deal and I think so many people do that in their lives. They say it's really not that big of a deal. [Aaron] Well, and then he even says that Eve saw that it was good for looking at and good for eating. And like we do that. We're like well, it's art. And this is entertainment. It's good for my spirit 'cause I need to relax and it gets me excited and enjoyment. Or we had Christians comment on our posts in the past saying well, it's good as long as we do it together and as long as it heightens our sexual experience and it makes us closer. That's good. That's exactly what Eve saw from sin in the Garden of Eden. She looked at the fruit that God said not to touch. Actually said don't eat of it. Satan said did he really say not to touch it? He lied to her. And she's like. She saw that it was good to the sight and good for eating. And that's what we do. We're like well, yeah, but I know that that's probably not the best thing for me but look, it looks good. It's gonna taste good. And then in the end, it's gonna kill us. And I don't think that's worth it. At the end of the day, my prayer is that my children would never have to deal with this sin. They'll never have to deal with this struggle. That doesn't mean they're not gonna be tempted. It doesn't mean the world's not gonna try as hard as it can to grab their hearts. But it is not going to be because I have it in the house. [Jennifer] Yeah, and I think that important to note here is that we're setting an example through our actions and behavior as parents. I think that it's vital and necessary for us to be warring and battle through prayer for ourselves, for each other, our spouses, and our children, and even our children's future spouses. [Aaron] Oh yeah. [Jennifer] We need to be on guard in this way. We need to know that this is a growing problem, that it's affecting our children. [Aaron] It's cancer in the church. [Jennifer] Well, in the world. Like it's everywhere. [Aaron] Yeah, but we can't expect people who aren't regenerated by the Holy Spirit, that people who don't follow Christ to change in this area. They need salvation first. But you listening to this, you believer, you person who says you're a Christ follower, this is a serious, serious issue that we need to submit before the Lord and confess, and repent of, and walk away from, and never touch again. [Jennifer] And you can't sit there and say well, my addiction is to fill in the blank. It's too hard. It's too difficult. [Aaron] You don't understand. I've done this for too long. [Jennifer] But if you claim to be a Christian, you have the spirit living inside of you, empowering you to walk the way. He has not just called you but created you to walk. [Aaron] And so my wife, you struggled with this. [Jennifer] I did. [Aaron] I struggled with this. And thank God for God's patience with us. But we have been shown that he has already given us everything that pertains to life and Godliness. Second Peter 1:3 says that. And you listening, you have that same spirit, same spirit that raised Christ from the dead. He's living in you and he's empowering you to walk in freedom. And the Bible tells us that even when temptation, whatever temptation comes, first of all, it's not uncommon to man. It's like every temptation's common. It's not unique to you. But secondly, it says that Christ will make a way of escape so that you can escape that temptation every single time. [Jennifer] So before we close out 'cause I feel like we're coming to the end here of this episode, I do want to point out something that I wanted to mention earlier and that is that one of the biggest reasons why I didn't expose my sin to you for a while was because I didn't want it to minimize your sin. I thought-- [Aaron] You don't want me to say, so, we're the same so stop judging me. [Jennifer] Yes, exactly. I thought that had I said that we did struggle with the same thing, that I wouldn't be allowed to express such deep emotions over your failures because of mine. And that kept me isolated, and I was deceived, and I believed that it was better to hide from you than to tell you the truth. [Aaron] So it was a false authority that you would come to me and. Where when Jesus says don't have a plank eye, like, the reason we take the plank out of our eye so that we can see clearly in our brothers. So you walking in purity, you would have been able to see clearly in my life, not just emotionally, but actually spiritually. Like hey, like that time when you came to me. [Jennifer] Which I was pure then so maybe that's why I saw it then. [Aaron] And vice versa. You know, when we walk in holiness, when we walk in righteousness, we can without being a hypocrite go to our brothers and sisters and say hey, you've got to change this area of your life. And them say like wow, if you can do it, I can do it. So I think that's a good point to highlight is that we don't want to be plank eye Christians. We want to walk in holiness so that we can see clearly in our brother's and sister's eyes for their sake and not just because we want to be a holier art thou, you know, and be above and look down. That's not why. We want to walk in holiness ourselves because we love God. And then we want to walk in holiness so that we can walk with our brothers who are not walking in holiness and encourage them to walk in holiness. That's a good point, babe. So I feel like that was a lot and good and you did really well. [Jennifer] I'm still sitting here afraid. I don't know. It's so hard to talk about this issue but I want to be open and honest so that if another wife is listening right now, I hope that if she's struggling with any sort of pornography and lust, impure thoughts, that she would have the courage to be transparent with her spouse and talk about these things. [Aaron] Confess these things. [Jennifer] Yeah. [Aaron] Yeah. And confess with the purpose of repentance so that you both can walk in holiness. [Jennifer] And be reconciled to each other and to God. [Aaron] Yeah, so that we can fulfill the mission he has for us in life. To be lights in this world. To proclaim the gospel to the lost. Yeah. So we thank you for joining us this week. We thank you for listening to our testimonies and our prayer is that you and your spouse would have the same testimony. It's the only testimony that we get. It's from Jesus Christ. It's what he's done in us and through us. And he's the healer. He's the provider. He's our rock. And so before we close out, I'd love to invite you to pray with us. [Jennifer] Dear Lord, we pray first and foremost that husbands and wives would give you their hearts, that they would obey all that you command in your word and that they would love you with all of their hearts. We pray that if any of them are addicted or struggling with pornography, that they would choose to stop today. Holy Spirit, please remind us daily of your desire for us to live holy and pure lives. We pray we would not live in hiding, but rather may we be transparent with others, confessing our sin and repenting of it so that it will not have a stronghold in our lives. Give us stamina to pray for protection against the enemy and against our flesh. Remind us everyday to pray for ourselves, pray for our spouses, pray for our children, and pray for our children's future spouses. May we be men and women who choose to walk faithfully with you. In Jesus' name. Amen. [Aaron] Amen. Thanks for joining us this week and we look forward to having you next week. See you next time. Did you enjoy today's show? Find many more encouraging stories and resources at and let us help you cultivate an extraordinary marriage.

 My Personal Struggle With Pornography as A Husband | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 00:55:41

NOTE: We don't share any graphic detials in this episode but this is not an episode to listen to around children. To support this podcast please pick up one of our marriage books at In this episode, I share my history with an addiction to pornography and how it affected Jennifer. Jennifer And I both discuss how it made her feel and how it affected every aspect of our marriage but ultimately how the Lord freed me from this sin. Our prayer is that by being open and vulnerable about this sensitive and taboo subject that a light would be shown and that many other men and women would find freedom and healing. READ: [Aaron] Hey we're Aaron and Jennifer Smith with Marriage After God, [Jennifer] Helping you cultivate an extraordinary marriage. [Aaron] And today we're gonna share our personal journey with pornography in our marriage. Welcome to the Marriage After God Podcast, where we believe that marriage was meant for more than just happily ever after. [Jennifer] I'm Jennifer, also known as Unveiled Wife. [Aaron] And I'm Aaron, also known as Husband Revolution. [Jennifer] We have been married for over a decade. [Aaron] And so far we have four young children. [Jennifer] We have been doing marriage ministry online for over seven years through blogging and social media. [Aaron] With the desire to inspire couples to keep God at the center of their marriage, encouraging them to walk in faith everyday. [Jennifer] We believe that Christian marriage should be an extraordinary one, full of life. Love. And power. [Aaron] That can only be found by chasing after God. [Jennifer] Together. [Aaron] Thank you for joining us in this journey as we chase boldly after God's will for our life together. [Jennifer] This is Marriage After God. Thank you all for joining us this week on our podcast and we just wanted to invite you to leave us a review. This is just one way to help us get the word out about the Marriage After God podcast and let's other people find us and we really appreciate it, it just encourages our hearts. We love 'em. [Jennifer] So if you could just scroll to the bottom of the podcast app and leave us a review. [Aaron] Yeah a star rating is the easiest way to do it. All you have to do is hit a star, but if you have extra time we'd love a text review as well. [Jennifer] Thank you guys. [Aaron] Hey we wanna thank you for joining us and we also want to invite you if you've been enjoying the podcast to consider supporting our podcast. And the way that you do that is go to and pick up one of our books that we've written. The ones we wanna talk about today is our 31 Prayers for My Husband and 31 Prayers for My Wife bundle. We call it our prayer challenge and we encourage couples to do it. Thousands of couples have already gone through the challenge and they've loved it. They go through it multiple times actually a year so go to, pick up a copy of our 31 Marriage Prayers Challenge and that would support our podcast, thank you. [Jennifer] Okay moving right along, we are gonna jump into our icebreaker question, which is which one of you said I love you first? [Aaron] That's an easy one. [Jennifer] Give them a second to guess. You guys guess. Jennifer. Who is me. I couldn't wait any longer. [Aaron] Did I actually say I love you back? [Jennifer] So what happened was we were, I don't know if we were on a date or just hanging out but I remember I was getting out of your car-- [Aaron] I'm up in front of your house by your red mailbox. [Jennifer] No, actually Aaron has a terrible memory. [Aaron]Oh, it's not right there? -We were-- Where was this at? [Jennifer] It's okay honey. I'm not mad. We were in the church parking lot. Oh, oh. I was getting out of your black Honda, and I was getting into my car. And I got out, and I stood up-- I remember now. [Jennifer] And then I leaned back in, and I said, "Oh, by the way, I love you." 'Cause I was waiting, waiting-- Did I skid away, and the door slammed shut, or? [Jennifer] No, that didn't happen. But you did let a very long pause happen before you said anything, and it made me feel super awkward, and I said, I might have even said, "Okay, I'm gonna go now," or something like that, and then you were like, "I'm just kidding." You start laughing and you're like, "I love you too." Almost as if I had already known, but you never said it. [Aaron] Well, you did already know. [Jennifer] Yeah, I did. But it was-- That's really funny I made you wait. It felt good to have said it, and I'm glad I said it. I don't remember-- Yeah and we say it a lot now. Yeah, I do love you. And I won't make you wait. I'll tell you all day every day. [Jennifer] All day every day? [Aaron]Yeah. Oh good. So Jennifer said I love you first, and then I made her wait a few seconds-- [Jennifer] Super awkward. Super long seconds. And then you laughed, and then you said I love you back. [Aaron] Yeah. All right. So why don't we do a quick quote from a book. Okay. And this book is your book. [Jennifer] Yeah, we chose one from The Unveiled Wife, so it's not a typical quote that we've kind of been sharing with you guys. It's a little bit more personal. Okay this is found in The Unveiled Wife on page 153, and it says, "We were devoted to making ourselves "known to God and known to each other. "I finally felt free from the bondage "that was holding me captive. "I could breathe deeply without fear "of someone finding out who I was "because I had chosen to make myself known." [Aaron] And this was a part of our story where we were divulging to each other our deep dark secrets. Where we were sharing our sins, things we were struggling with. Actually, divulged everything. Talked about everything in our hearts. That was a pretty pivotal moment in our marriage. And that goes into what we're gonna be talking about, that's why we picked the quote because we're gonna be talking about that season of our marriage, we're gonna be talking about a pretty large season actually, of my life, and it has to do with pornography. [Jennifer] Yeah, which I actually, well we both didn't wanna do this episode. [Aaron] We've been putting it off for months. [Jennifer] Because I don't know why, it's just, I think it's one of those topics that's hard to dive into and expose, but like that quote said, I chose to make myself known, in our marriage, you've chose to make yourself known, and I've, I believe that that created a safe place for trust to be built, and I think it's really important for husbands and wives to hear our story and to hear, just to hear how we've exposed our hearts to each other, and hopefully they could do that too. [Aaron] And not only have we exposed it to each other, but we've exposed it to others. We've exposed the things that we've gone through, our dark secrets to other believers and through our platforms, there are ministries of the world. And one of the things that I love about how we are, you use the word expose, I love that word. The Bible tells us to drag that which is in the darkness into the light because that which is in the light becomes light. And that was our sin. The more it was hidden, the easier it was to keep doin' it. And so we've been draggin' it out ever since and keeping it out in public, keeping it out in the light so that it doesn't live in us. So I wanna start off by reading a scripture. And it's in Ephesians five verse three. It says, "But sexual immorality and all impurity "or covetousness must not even be named among you, "as is proper among saints." Paul's telling the Ephesians, you're saints, you're saints of the most high, and sexual morality and impurity and covetousness, they should not even be named among you. Meaning not even a little bit. In other translations it says there shouldn't be a hint of sexual morality. That's insane. Because in our current culture, in our current world, in my own life experience, I had not just a hint of sexual morality in my life, I was drenched in sexual morality. And Ephesians five verse three is very clear and it's, this isn't the only scripture that talks about this, that there shouldn't even be a hint of it among Christians. [Jennifer] Which is so weird because I mean, through our online platforms, we've shared about the topic of pornography before, and people even Christians, have shared their acceptance of it. And I think we're living in a culture, in an age where it's widely accepted even if people aren't talking about it. [Aaron] Yeah, we're desensitized to the grotesqueness of our sin. [Jennifer] Which is another reason why we knew we had to do this episode. We need to be willing to talk about it. [Aaron] Yeah, pretty much every time we've ever posted about pornography and how it's wrong, and shouldn't even be in a marriage, and how, and not that we're coming from perfection, we're coming from, well actually no, we've experienced this, it's wrong, and the Bible says we shouldn't do it, and God hates it. Christians, people claiming to be Christians in our comments will say, "Well, you're wrong actually, it's fine as long as." And then fill in the blank. And I'm like blown away. But we shouldn't be surprised by that 'cause the world's being, the world's gonna be deceived. So our heart today is to expose our story, and I hope my, our prayer we just prayed before this is that you listening, if this is your story, would begin to walk in freedom today. So that it, that sexual morality and impurity and covetousness might not even be named in your marriage. That there would be no hint of it. And so let's start, we're gonna start with my experience, and there's a bunch of questions I'm gonna answer and, but before we go to some of the questions I'm gonna answer about my experience with pornography and where it came from and how I walked in it and my story behind that, I just wanna read a letter I wrote to pornography in 2014. And it's on my blog, and it says this. "Dear pornography, "We have known each other since I was a child "and I feel as though I can tell you things "that I can never tell anyone else. "You know all my secrets and all my fantasies, "and you have been by my side "in the good times and in the bad. "You spent time with me when I was lonely or bored, "and you comforted me when I was angry or hurt. "It feels like you have always been there for me, "but I need to get a few things off my chest. "You promised me that after I got married, "I wouldn't need you anymore. "You made me believe that what we had was just a fling. "I realize now that you never loved me. "I am finally seeing your endgame. "You have stolen a piece of me like a master thief. "You wanted everything from me, not just my eyes, "but also my mind, heart, soul and strength. "You have promised a world to me that doesn't exist. "You have threatened my marriage and my children. "You have hurt my friends and family, "you have destroyed the lives of girls, boys, men and women "all over the world and used me to help. "All the while assuring me that no one would get hurt. "Our relationship has been nothing but lies. "You are not, nor have you ever been my friend. "You are the reason I have lived "with so much shame and embarrassment. "You are the reason my wife has been so hurt. "You have warped my perception of women in the world. "I needed to write you this letter "to let you know that it's over. "I would tell you in person, "but that would give you too much satisfaction. "I have found a true friend, his name is Jesus." I wrote this letter a long time ago and posted it. It resonated with a ton of people. It got 4,000 shares. And it was just me verbalizing out loud the relationship I had with pornography, so that I made it real. I was like oh, I don't wanna pretend like, oh, I'm just struggling and this that, like I actually verbalized what it was that I, how I related to it. [Jennifer] It actually makes me really sad just hearing you read it out loud, 'cause it makes it even more so feel like such an intimate thing, such an intimate relationship that you had with this thing, and I just, I, makes me heartbroken over the many people who are doing it, who are addicted to it, who have this kind of relationship with it. [Aaron] And it's true it's a lie. And it, in reality, it destroys us, it leads to death, and it destroys the people that, were, are being consumed by it, in the images. And it, do we care about those people? Do we care about ourselves, do we care about our families? And we need to consider those things. So I'm gonna be getting into some information about kind of where it started with me, and if you have questions as we go, Jennifer, you can ask me. How old was I when I was exposed first to pornography? I actually don't know. I feel like maybe seven, eight years old. I can't, I don't have a very good memory of my younger years. But I do remember one of the first experiences I had with it was I was walking home from school and I found a, it was like a playing card on the ground with a nude woman on it, and I remember keeping it. And I remember that being my first experience with it. I don't remember how I got connected on the internet with it, I don't remember how I've seen it on TV, but I've been exposed to pornography for many, many, many years. And not just exposed to it, but I've exposed myself to it and craved it, and sought after it since a very young age. And it went with me, I literally thought when I was younger that all I need to do is get married and it would fix my lustful cravings. 'Cause it, what they did was they, being exposed so young and right at that, puberty, when I'm already gonna be naturally more hormonal, and more testosterone, and all those things that come with puberty, I, it was heightened, extremely from a young age. And it just continued on until even, into marriage. [Jennifer] I actually remember before we got married, we did talk about that aspect of feeling like, 'cause you admitted to me that you struggled, pornography, and I also wrote it off as like well doesn't every guy do that? That was my perspective of it. And we both believed that it would be like a non-issue when we got married, that it would just go away. [Aaron] Right, so while we were dating, you had no red flags about it. [Jennifer] I mean, I hated it then and it hurt me then, but I figured marriage would be the solution. [Aaron] Well what you said was that you thought, well, I guess every guy struggles with that, and we'll just, when we get married we'll walk together and we'll figure it out, and it'll be fixed. And I actually believed that too, but I was so entrenched in it that I couldn't imagine men not struggling with it, and I think there was two reasons I did that. One, pretty much everything I heard from other believers, and pastors, and mentors was like, well yeah, everyone struggles with that and there's that book, Every Man's Battle, like we, that's the thing we've heard about this, so I just believed literally every man struggled with it and it was normal. Yeah, it was wrong, and we shouldn't do it, and I felt shameful, and I should be better at it, but I wasn't actually ever told by anyone that I didn't have to do it, that I wasn't slave to it, that as a believer I could walk in freedom from it, and that it was gonna destroy me. I don't remember hearing that ever. I remember how it made me feel. [Jennifer] How did it make you feel? [Aaron] Well,it made me feel gross. I hated that I couldn't stop it, probably like any addict. Like why do I keep doing this? Why can't I stop? I feel like I have no control. But then at the same time, I wanted it, I enjoyed it, I loved it, I couldn't say that out loud. When I would talk about it, it was always like, "I hate this, I don't wanna do this anymore." But internally, I really did love it, even though I didn't recognize that back then. And I can't remember ever having a real conversation about sexual purity. I remember being told I shouldn't have sex before marriage, I remember being talked about it a little bit, but I don't remember purity discussion. I remember being caught a few times with pornography and having a short discussion of how it's not good and we shouldn't do that, but I couldn't, I don't remember having these serious discussions of this can't happen. It is going to destroy you. You need to stop. I don't remember that. And it maybe did happen, but I don't remember it being, it wasn't memorable for me. It wasn't something that changed my direction from anyone, my parents, from pastors-- Youth pastors, yeah. [Aaron] Friends. In reality, even when I would try and, ways I would try and deal with it was just abstinence. Like, well I'm just gonna try and go, oh, I went a month. And I didn't mess up, was my term. I would have accountability partners. That's what we all do. But all my accountability partners also struggled with pornography and weren't changing. So all we would do was come together and commiserate and say, "Well, God's good, grace of God." Those kinds of things, but no one ever changed, no one ever had authority in my life to say like, "Hey, I'm walking in purity, you should too." I didn't, I actually didn't know anyone. I've never met someone back then that walked in purity, that didn't struggle with pornography, which gave me a very small world view actually. 'Cause I thought, I literally thought everyone struggled with it. And I'm sure there's people listening right now thinking like, "Well doesn't everyone?" No, everyone doesn't struggle with it. Many do, but it's a lie from Satan to believe that it's just the thing that everyone's gonna struggle with. [Jennifer] Well if we believe that everybody struggles with it, it just makes it more normal and then, like it's just-- Yeah, why change? [Jennifer] It's another justification for it, yeah. [Aaron] I would confess to God all the time, and just remember that God loves me, and remind myself. I would read scripture that would make me actually feel more shameful because I'd be like, "Wait a minute, why don't, why doesn't my life "line up with what the Bible says?" Like shouldn't it? Shouldn't, when I read this, oh, that's what a believer is. I would have to in round about ways work around what the Bible says to be who I was, as a quote unquote, Christian. Which is wrong, 'cause we're supposed to align our lives with what the Bible says not with how we feel, and then try and make the Bible fit into that, which is what I had to do because it, my life didn't line up with it at all. [Jennifer] So then we got married, and it didn't stop. [Aaron] No, it actually, I feel like at times, it got worse. [Jennifer] Well just to catch people up on our story, the first four years of our marriage, actually it's kind of humorous now that I think about it with your addiction, our biggest struggle was-- Sex. Sex. And-- Yeah, I remember telling God like, "God, just give me a wife, "I just wanna be able to have sex with my wife, "and I'll stop doing this." And then,gettin' married, and it's literally-- [Jennifer] The hardest thing possible. [Aaron] The thing that we can't do. [Jennifer] So I experienced excruciating pain every time we tried, and so for four years, our marriage just got tougher and tougher as far as our relationship because of this issue. And because we weren't coming together and being, experiencing that part of our relationship, you dove even further into-- I-- Pornography. [Aaron] Definitely used it as a excuse and a justification. 'Cause I thought to myself, like well I can't even have the one person I should be able to have, so, I got this over here. And it was wrong, completely wrong. But looking back, God absolutely used our struggle with sex to show the depravity in my own heart, and yours-- I was gonna say both of us. About lust, pornography, and these things-- [Jennifer] I'm like a lot of that is sin. Sexual, yeah lots of things. But He's, He was definitely saying like, "I don't want any of this." And He was willing to discipline us, and I believe that's what it was. I believe that that season of our life was discipline because He's like, "You're My children." And He says, "I discipline those who I love, "and I love you." And I, He was done with us walking our own way, and walking in that sort of sin, and, now I can't say like, we walked free from it, and then boom, we were healed. It was much more complex than that. But looking back, I know that's what God was doing in us. [Jennifer] So are you saying that we struggled with sexual intimacy because you struggled with pornography? [Aaron] I believe so, I believe that God was disciplining us, He was disciplining me. I told Him, the one thing I wanted was a wife I can have sex with, and He's like, "That's not gonna fix it." And it, and He, and I should be able to walk in freedom with Him, regardless if my marriage is perfect. I, it's not a justification, having a broken marriage, having a broken sex life, having these things that I think give me permission to break His heart, and His laws, and walk opposite of how He's called me to walk, when my greatest relationship should be with Him, which is what I've always said I have, like no, everything is about God, and I love God. And He's like, "Well," as Jesus says, "if you love Me, you'll keep My commands. "If you love Me," In 1 John, He says, "Those who practice righteousness "are righteous." And I wasn't practicing righteousness, I was, I had no integrity. When I was alone, I knew what I was gonna do, and you knew too. [Jennifer] I didn't trust you. [Aaron] No, I didn't trust myself. [Jennifer] I'd just go back to that point though, I wanna talk about trust, but I wanna go back to you saying that our, let's call it a drought, 'cause that's what it was, it was a sexual drought, and our marriage was correlated with this addiction to pornography, 'cause as much as I see that, I also know that it was layered because He used that time for so many other things, to reveal a lot to us. And I don't want that, I don't want them listening just to go, oh, that's kinda strange, but a cool little revelation, there was a lot more that-- [Aaron] Well of course, like God is infinite, and He orchestrated a lot of things in our life, for many purposes, to put us on this journey with this ministry, to make us, our unity and our oneness stronger, to use us in the lives of others, like lots of things to teach us things. [Jennifer] To teach us things, yeah. [Aaron] But it tells us that the, in the Bible that that our Father in Heaven disciplines His children. And if He didn't discipline us, we'd be illegitimate children. But because we're His children, He disciplines us. I just wanted to highlight that to show that we, in going through those things, that what our heart should be is to recognize what God's doing and that He loves us, and that He cares for us. It's that quota, He loves us the way we are, but loves us too much to leave us there, and so He changes us. And He draws us to Himself, and He makes us more like His son, Jesus. [Jennifer] He definitely used that time to do that in our life. [Aaron] Yeah. What for you, Jennifer, 'cause I brought this into my marriage, and I didn't know if you struggled with anything at the time, early in the marriage, but what did my addiction to pornography, how did it make you feel? How did you deal with it? What were some of the highlights, or lowlights, I should say-- [Jennifer] Yeah, I'm like, there were no highlights. [Aaron] From our, from that's part of our story? [Jennifer] Knowing that you struggled with this was painful, and I felt betrayed, as your wife. And there was a lot of deep hurt, a lot of pain, but what's interesting is also wrapped up in a lot of insecurity, and I felt like it was pointed back at me, as if I wasn't good enough for you. And so on top of the pain of betrayal and mistrust, there was also this layer of, "I'm not good enough for you and it's my fault." [Aaron] Right, like you're causing me to like, well, if I was prettier, or if could give him this-- [Jennifer] Or if my-- Part of my body. Yeah, if my body actually worked-- Yeah. [Jennifer] And we were experiencing an awesome sex life, maybe he wouldn't, maybe marriage would have fixed it. So then I felt at fault for it, and that was really painful. And so anytime that you confessed to me, or that the truth was exposed, I felt just as at fault for it. [Aaron] Yeah, and I remember you would say those sorts of things and I would try and like comfort you, and be like, "No, no, no, not at all, not at all." But what's unfortunate is I was only comforting you back then and trying to help you back then for the sake of my own shame. Like I didn't like that I made you feel that way, I didn't like that you responded that way, but instead of changing, I just tried to help you cope with it. Which is wrong of me, I wasn't a very good spiritual leader back then. [Jennifer] Well we didn't know back then, where I feel like spiritually, we were so immature that we didn't know how to navigate this right. [Aaron] We didn't have much close fellowship back then. We've talked about that in past episodes. Which would have helped us see it sooner probably, if we had people closer to us, knowing us. Not just people but spiritually mature people. People who would challenge this area of our life. But again, we have to expose it and we have to tell people how we're struggling if we want that kind of correction. Yeah, and we kind of-- Which most people don't. [Aaron] Kept it to ourselves. [Jennifer] So I also remember anytime that you would say, "Hey we have to talk," my heart would drop, 'cause I'd be waiting for the bomb, the truth bomb of like, "I have to confess again." And I hated that feeling, and my heart also ached with anxiety every time I left you at home alone because I just knew. [Aaron] You knew it was gonna come when you got back, yeah. [Jennifer] And when I did come home, and you told me you messed up, like you said you would say, it just affirmed my distrust in you. [Aaron] Were you ever surprised? No. Yeah, 'cause you knew I was gonna, which is such an unfortunate thing to make my wife only know that about me. That I'm not a trustworthy person, that I have no integrity, and she's gonna feel small, and insignificant because of something I'm choosing to do. And I think the reason, no I don't think, the reason we are getting real with this stuff, is because these are the things that aren't said to us. And so we can easily minimize what we're doing. I minimized it a lot with you. I would just be like, "Well it was only for a little bit here, "I, it was, like, it was nothing, it was not a big deal." And like, all I ever tried to do when I was apologizing to you was minimize the shame and the guilt that I saw in your face. And I deeply regret that part of our marriage, and the things that I walked in, that I didn't believe the truth that I've seen and read in the Bible that I thought that was for other people, not myself. I believed I was still trapped by it, even though I was a believer. I believed that I was still trapped in my sin. I believed that it had power over me that it didn't actually have. And I let it into our marriage. And in the Bible it tells us to keep the marriage very pure, and I didn't. And so I thank God that He showed me these things and He was patient with me because half the time, you feel like, "Man I'm surprised God just didn't strike me down." 'Cause like He's sovereign, He's a good God, but He's a just God, and man I justly deserved not what I've been given. The patience, and the reconciliation, and a wife who remained with me when you probably had a good reason and a good right to leave me, for breaking our vows so many times. Because the next truth we wanna make everyone listening realize is that pornography's not just, like oh, this little sin that I did over here, and like it's not a big deal, it's not attached to anything. The Bible tells us clear that sexual sin is special. It does something different to us because it's against our own bodies, and especially in marriage when you and your wife are one. [Jennifer] I was gonna say, it's against your oneness. [Aaron] It's against your body. It's against my wife, and this is the truth bomb, pornography is adultery. It's adultery. I was a cheater on my wife. I broke her trust time and time again. I broke faithfulness with her, and that's the reality, and if anyone's, that's listening right now is walking in this and is telling themselves, "Well, it's only every once in awhile. "It's not that big of a deal. "I can stop anytime." Whatever we, words we use, we are committing adultery on our spouse, and we are not practicing righteousness, and we are not walking in light as He is in the light. And those are truths that we need to say out loud, and we need to recognize them for what they are. [Jennifer] I just wanna be honest, this episode has been so hard for me, and I just feel like I, there's things that I wanna share, and then I get this lump in my throat, and my eyes start watering. We've had to stop three times just to pause so I can breathe. But pornography hurts. Pornography kills, and it kills oneness, and unity in marriage, it kills trust, it kills love, it kills-- [Aaron] Faith. [Jennifer] Faith, and-- [Aaron] It severs our relationship with the Father. [Jennifer] Yeah, it severs our relationship between husband and wife. Like our relationship was crumbling because of this. And I just, I feel so emotional I think, even sitting here listening again to our story because I know we're not the only ones who have been hurt by the pain of pornography. There are so many husbands and wives, maybe them listening right now, have walked this, or experiencing it, or maybe just last night, they had that hard conversation where they're in tears over it because they want it gone so badly, and it just keeps coming, and keeps coming, and keeps coming and it's gonna keep coming-- Or if they're about to have the conversation-- The enemy-- Today. The enemy hates marriage. The enemy hates what we're doing, and it's going to keep coming because he knows that it will destroy what we have. [Aaron] And I wanna, your words are powerful, but I wanna remind us that our words are powerful. And you keep saying "Pornography, it's coming, it's coming," as if it's something coming at us, and this is one of the lies I believed, that pornography was something happening to me. And when something happens to us, it's out of our control. Pornography was not happening to me. Yes, the same issue kept coming up and we had to keep dealing with it, but, and I'm not correcting you, Jennifer, but I want the people listening to not take anything we say and say, "See? "There it is, it's coming at me." [Jennifer] No, and when I said it's coming, I mean the enemy is dangling that temptation in front of us because he knows our flesh is weak. And we have to be willing to stand strong against it. [Aaron] And so if we think it's something happening to us, we'll never walk strong. It's something I believed. I believed it was a outward force that I had no control over. But it is not. 'Cause if that was the case, then no one's free. And the things that the Bible tells us are lies. Our encouragement to those listening is to believe the truth. Proclaim the truth, so confession, which is saying what's going on. Saying what you're doing. What you are choosing to do, which is the key. Not coming like, "Oh, it happened again. "Oh, I messed up again. "Oh, "I slipped and fell into this thing again now." Confessing that you chose again to cheat on your spouse, that you chose again to walk in unfaithfulness with your God. That's true confession. And then repentance is to turn the other way. I am no longer gonna choose to walk in that. Because if it's something that we accidentally fall into, if it's something that happens to us, then there is no need to repent because you don't know if you're gonna slip. You're walking on this journey, and you're just gonna fall into the pit by accident, and that's just your destiny. But that's actually not true because that goes against everything Jesus came to do on the cross. He came to set us free from the bonds of sin and death. And the same power that raised Jesus from the dead is the same power that will bring life to our mortal bodies. That's what the Bible tells us. And in a little bit, we're gonna get through more scripture just so you listening can hear the truth about this. And I wanna bring up something, you said, Jennifer, that pornography hurts us, and it destroys us, and I wanna highlight one more truth, it was something that I never realized until I started walking in purity. And God was revealing to me who I was, and the things I was doing, is that pornography doesn't just hurt us, the ones consuming the pornography. We are literally condoning and cheering on, and paying for things that we would never condone, or cheer on, or pay for a Christian to do. And a lot of these men, women, whoever's in these videos or photos, many of them are forced into it. And even the ones that choose it, were literally saying, "Yeah, keep doin' that. "Keep doin' that." We're choosing to hold hands with someone to Hell, by the thing we are consuming. And if Christians would realize that, if I would have realized that earlier, would I have stopped? Maybe. If I woulda realized like, man, I'm actually like, partaking, participating in someone's journey, to a journey away from God. And it's easy for us to think like, well they're just things, it's just a video. Well no, those are people in those videos. Real people that are made in God's image. And I just hope that this is hitting home with those listening, I hope that people are hearing our hearts of concern and love, and are also being, having their eyes opened, and their hearts opened, and that true Godly repentance would come from this. [Jennifer] So I remember there was two pivotal moments in our marriage, that stand out to me. I think you'll know what I'm talking about, but they are pivotal because they helped you change in this area. And so I wanna share 'em so that those listening can be inspired by it and hopefully it, this, hopefully this moment right here becomes a pivotal moment for them. [Aaron] Amen, yeah. [Jennifer] So I remember it was just after we had Elliot, he was just a little baby, and I was sitting in a rocking chair midday, trying to rock him. And you were sitting at the desk in our bedroom, and you started telling me and confessing how you had-- -Again. [Jennifer] Messed up again. And normally, I mean, list an emotion, and I've expressed it. Tears, uncontrollably, like just all of it. Sadness-- All rightfully so, 'cause of what I've done to you. [Jennifer] But this time, I just sat pretty much gripping Elliot's little body, and patting his back, and my heart was just so burdened for you. And I remember-- It was actually your first time thinking about me in that way, because of what I was going through. [Jennifer] Yeah, yeah, like if tables were turned, yeah, putting myself in your shoes, but I just, I questioned you on your faithfulness to me. Because on the outside, we were Christians moving forward in our marriage and at this point, we actually had already been reconciled and determined to stay together. And you messed up again, and I questioned you on your faithfulness and I reminded you what scripture says about it being adultery, and I know you have already mentioned that today, but I remember just reminding you in this, in that moment that you were committing adultery against me. And I questioned how you would want our future to go, I questioned how you would want our son's future to go. [Aaron] I remember all this. You asked me if I actually feared God. You asked me if I actually loved God. You were challenging me at the core of what I was doing. Not just this one event, oh, I forgive you for the event, you told me like, you need to realize what you are doing Aaron. And I remember it was like, shocking. It was like oh my gosh. This is different first of all, 'cause usually I'm like looking forward to you, not looking forward to it, but I'm expecting an outburst, a reprimand-- A reprimand, yeah. [Aaron] "What, you did it again? "Don't you know how this makes me feel?" But you went from, you actually loved me, selflessly, 'cause even though you were totally hurt, you instead told me the truth in love. You said, "Aaron, you are committing adultery." And I think that was actually the first time I, we recognized that's what I was doing. I'm laughing 'cause I'm embarrassed. That was a pivotal moment, and that began actually, over the next few years, me walking in-- [Jennifer] The start of the true change. [Aaron] Like it, I did still have-- [Jennifer] A weakness. [Aaron] I still fell back into it, I don't wanna say fell back in it, I still chose it, but it was, it became much less, and much less, and then what the next event that happened was the straw that broke the camel's back. Like the, the like it was the thing like, so you opened my eyes to like, "Man, I have to change. "This is not okay what I'm doing." And then this next moment, I'm sitting in my car with our pastor and mentor, and he's, and we just had dinner and we were hangin' out, and he said, "Aaron, are you walkin' in purity?" And I said, "Well, no, recently I did this." 'Cause I wanna be honest, that I'm tryin' to walk in repentance and openness and light. And he says, "Well Aaron," he's like, "nothing's gonna change "until you believe the truth." He's like, "You need to believe the truth." And I said, "Well, what do you mean?" Because the way I talked was, oh, it happened to me again, I fell into, I stumbled into, oh, woe is me, like as if something was happening to me, so, 'cause I was still not thinking clearly about this even though you challenged me correctly. I still wasn't thinking clearly. And he said, "You are not a slave "to your addiction to pornography. "Pornography is not something that has control over you." Which I didn't believe when he was saying it, 'cause I believed it controlled me. And then he said, "And also, Aaron, "you need to admit and confess that you love your sin." He said, "You need to say it because you do." And I said, "I don't love it." And he's like, "Well, your actions are proving different. "You say with your mouth that you don't, "and then you say with your actions that you do." And it went right into my heart. And it was the first time in my life that I was able to say with my mouth out loud, that I actually loved pornography. And what that meant was is I actually was able to fully confess, 'cause before I was confessing about the fruit of my sin, not confessing the sin that I loved my lust. [Jennifer] Which if people are wondering, my response is I hate hearing it, I hate knowing it, I hate, I hate all of that, but I think it's necessary in order to overcome-- [Aaron] Well, a true confession is necessary, I had to be able to admit the truth, 'cause I was walking in lies. And the lies were keeping me in the darkness, and the lies were keeping me trapped, when the trap was my lies, it was, there was no trap. There was no chains, 'cause God broke those chains on the cross. And he's like, "You need to recognize that, "that that is the truth. "You have not stopped sinning because you love your sin." And so I, once he said it out loud and once I said it out loud, I realized, wait a minute, I don't want to love my sin. And so I confessed, "Lord, forgive me for my love of my sin, "and change me." And that was the last time. I think there was one other little time after that, that was, and I'm not trying to minimize, significantly different kind of sinning, but in the same area. And I confessed that out loud to Matt, and to you, and that was it. And it's been how many years now? [Jennifer] Five. [Aaron] Five. But those are the pivotal conversations, was you telling me the truth in love, and then another brother telling me the truth in love. Not, "Aw, sorry, yeah we all, we're all gonna struggle. "Let's just get back up, "and let's just try harder next time." But that's not, that is not what God's asking us to do. He's not asking us to try harder, He's asking us to walk in the truth. And the truth is, let's read some of these verses. The truth is, Galatians 5:1, "For freedom Christ has set us free; "stand firm therefore, "and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery." And that's what I was doing, I kept submitting to a yoke of slavery that didn't exist. I was allowing a yoke to be put on me that didn't need to be there. So I'm free. That's what Christ came for, freedom. Would you read Romans 6:6? [Jennifer] "We know that our old self "was crucified with Him in order that the body of sin "might be brought to nothing, "so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin." [Aaron] Oh, so it's not that I have to try harder, I am not enslaved to sin. So I need to walk in the actual truth-- [Jennifer] Which is 2 Corinthians 5:17, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. "The old has passed away; behold, the new has come." [Aaron] So am I walking in this old self while pretending to be a new self? [Jennifer] Talk about a marriage fixing things. [Aaron] Yeah, and the marriage doesn't fix it, Christ has already fixed it. [Jennifer] No, the marriage of Christ, the being one. Oh, yeah, we're being one with the body of Christ, we're His bride, and it says that He's gonna come back to a pure white, and without blemish bride. That's who, that's what I'm a part of, that's who I am. That's who you are listening. [Jennifer] Yeah, how dare Him come back to a bride that's been-- [Aaron]Dancing in the mud, with her dress. [Jennifer] Sad. [Aaron] So those listening, your old self has been crucified. It's been crucified. Christ set us free on the cross. Ephesians 4:17 through 24, "Now this I say and testify in the Lord, "that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, "in the futility of their minds. "They are darkened in their understanding, "and alienated from the life of God "because of the ignorance that is in them," that was my life, I was walking as, He's telling Christians to not walk as Gentiles were, I was walking that way in my ignorance. "Alienated from the life of God "because of the ignorance that is in them, "due to their hardness of hearts. "They have become callous "and have given themselves up to sensuality, "greedy to practice every kind of impurity. "But this is not the way you learned Christ, "assuming that you have heard about him "and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, "to put off your old self," Aaron, put off your old self. "Which belongs to your former manner of life "and is corrupt through deceitful desires," I, that's crazy that it uses the word deceitful desires. They trick us, they're desires that are deceitful. "And to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, "and to put on the new self, "created after the likeness of God "in true righteousness and holiness." So my trying harder is actually just putting on the new self. Christ's likeness. 1 John 2:1, "My little children, "I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. "But if anyone does sin, "we have an advocate with the Father, "Jesus Christ the righteous." What's awesome about that is when we're walking in righteousness, and we stumble because we've chosen to, or we haven't, we weren't walking in the, we weren't walking in the Spirit, but we were walking in the flesh, we have an advocate. But the things that we're reading right now have been written so that we won't sin. So that we will actually walk in the truth. 1 John 2:28 and 29, "And now, little children, "abide in him, so that when he appears "we may have confidence and not shrink from him "in shame at his coming. "If you know that he is righteous, "you may be sure that everyone who practices righteousness "has been born of him." I love that it says practice first of all, 'cause that that means is that we are not yet righteous, but we are becoming righteous. And as we practice it, we get better at it. So am I practicing my sinful desires and getting better at those things, or am I practicing righteousness and getting worse at my sinful desires? And that was, that's my life now, is I'm getting worse at my sinful desires and I'm actually getting better at avoiding temptation, and knowing what temptation is, and being strong under the temptation, and fleeing from the temptation, and talking about the temptation. And now encouraging others to do the same. [Jennifer] So actually I was gonna mention that, how you walk in authority now and challenge other believers, and I can be confident that you're gonna walk our children through these things, that you can teach them, and I don't know, I just, I love that you have this authority that you can say, "I've overcome this, you can too." [Aaron] Which is amazing, because when we see other people overcome something, it makes it that much more believable that we can. And so you're listening to this, and if you're thinking, "Man, I can't do that." Stop believing the lies, you have been set free by Christ. You have the power of the Holy Spirit in you. You've been given everything that pertains to life and Godliness, just like I have. I'm not special, I haven't been giving, given something that you haven't been given, Jennifer hasn't been given something that you haven't been given. We have Christ in us. We have, we could put on the new self, created after the likeness of God. [Jennifer] Something that we mention in our book coming out, Marriage After God, is that Jesus didn't come back to kind of save you, He came back to save you. [Aaron] He came back to fully save us, today, when Jesus teaches the disciples how to pray, He says, "Thy will be done on Earth, "as it is in Heaven." Which is cool because we can actually have His will on Earth, in our life. Now we haven't, our bodies are still gonna decay and we're gonna still see death, and these bodies are gonna fall apart because they're not yet redeemed. But you know what is fully redeemed? Our spirit. And He's renewing us day by day, and He's giving us a new mind, and new spirit, and He's, and through His word, and through walking in community, and through being, walking in light and truth, we can actually walk the way God has enabled us to walk. It tells us in Malachi, that He will write His laws on our hearts, on tablets of flesh. They're no longer on stones that can be broken, they're on hearts of flesh. His laws are written on our hearts, and not only has He showed us in our hearts how we can, how we should walk, but He's empowered us to do so through the power of His son and His spirit. I don't know, I hope that was vulnerable enough, and again, our prayer is that those listening, you, would not be freed from this addiction, and this struggle with sin, and pornography, but that you would recognize that you are free, and that you do not have to choose to be submitted to it. You don't have to choose it. You can choose actually to walk away, you could choose actually to turn the computer off, you can choose actually to put your phone down, you can choose to run away as fast as you can. We can choose that, and we are empowered to do so through the Holy Spirit. [Jennifer] So if this episode encourages them to go have a conversation, and there's confession and reconciliation, do you wanna share some things that we've learned over time that could help them? [Aaron] Yeah, I will say on my part, or for those that are going to do the confessing, and we talked about confession in one of our episodes, and they should go back and listen to that actually, don't minimize, meaning, well, it was just this, it wasn't as big as deal you think, it was only for a moment. Just say I did this. And then the second thing I would always try and do that I shouldn't do, was I tried to control your reaction. Please don't be mad, I know that I was wrong, please don't be sad, please don't be frustrated-- Or why are you crying. [Aaron] Or why are you crying. And so I, when I started walking in purity, I purposed that if I was gonna confess to you, I was just going to tell you what I did, when I did it, and then I was gonna be quiet. [Jennifer] And so on my part, I mean, as the person receiving the confession, something that I've learned is, well the first thing is, God created us with a lot of different range of emotions, but He created us with emotions. And so the first thing is acknowledging that you feel, and the second one is you're still called to have self-control in those feelings. And-- And you're allowed to have the feelings. And you're allowed to have those feelings, so you may cry, you may get angry, you may get all of the things, but you still are required to have self-control in them, and that doesn't mean that you just shut it off and you don't express those emotions, it just means that you don't sin in your emotions. And so I just wanted to share that as the counterpart to what you-- [Aaron] And on the person receiving the confession, the other spouse, your job is to not just love your spouse, but to speak truth in love. Like you did that day. You very calmly and lovingly said, "You are walking a very dangerous line. "You are committing adultery, "and you are harming our marriage, "and what you're doing will destroy us. "And you must change." [Jennifer] And then the biggest thing after all of that, is reconciliation. It should always be for the purpose of reconciliation and we hope that it's for reconciliation in your guy's marriages. [Aaron] And reconciliation can happen even though trust is still broken. Because the reconciliation is knowing that hey, we are still one, but we are going to work on this trust thing. Because you have hurt me and we're gonna walk it out together, and I'm not gonna, I'm not gonna avoid being healed, but it's going to take time and that's gotta be okay. Because it's not like a switch that gets flipped. There's been unfaithfulness, there's been brokenness, there's been sin, and there's consequences to that sin. But as a team, you walk towards healing and restoration, on both parties, and you do that by prayer, you do that by fasting, you do that by walking faithfully-- [Jennifer] And abiding in the word of God. [Aaron] And abiding in the word of God, and you also do that in community. You don't do it alone. If you're a brother dealing with this, you find other brothers that are gonna say, "Dude, stop it." That have authority in your life because they walk in purity also. If you're the wife, you find girls that are gonna be like, "You can't do this. "You need to walk in purity." And the goal is oneness, unity, healing, righteousness, holiness for the purpose that we always go back to is that God has a job for our marriages. He's got a ministry for us to do, and we will not be able to do it if we're stuck in sin. [Jennifer] Yeah, we need to be pure, and we need to present His bride, pure. [Aaron] And that's what we get to do, we get to purify ourselves, we get to practice righteousness, and we get to chase after God every day, and I just pray that this brings freedom today. I pray that hundreds, thousands of couples today would find not just healing, but realize the freedom that they have. And that they would be the ones that people look at and say, "I didn't know you could walk in freedom like that." And then they'll say, "Actually, this is what the Bible says." And they'll be able to help other Christians walk that way as well. [Jennifer] What an incredible ripple effect for the body of Christ. Oh yeah. [Jennifer] Well thank you guys so much for joining us on this episode. It was, it was vulnerable, and I appreciate you sharing, Aaron. And I can see that there's probably gonna be a lot of questions, probably come up from this. Probably. [Jennifer] And we might have to do another episode, but that's okay. But we do wanna invite you guys to pray with us, and close out the episode with this prayer from Aaron. [Aaron] Dear Lord, thank You for Your loving patience and kindness towards us. Thank You for Your mercy and forgiveness. Lord, I pray as Christian men and women we would practice walking in righteousness. I pray we would pursue purity, as You are pure. I pray that as Christian men and women who proclaim You to be Lord in our life, that we would not walk in this sin anymore. Change us, transform us, and cut out any dead flesh and wicked way that is in us. Help us to fear You and love You. Help us to see the truth about pornography, that it is destructive, sinful, immoral, and that it is adultery. Your word tells us that there should not even be a hint of sexual morality named among us as Christians. Help us to live with integrity, help us to be transparent and honest in marriage, help us to choose reconciliation over isolation in marriage. We are Your saints, and I pray we would walk in a manner worthy of Your call in our lives. In Jesus name, Amen. Thanks for joining us this week, and we look forward to what the Lord's gonna do in your life. And the testimonies that are gonna come from the truth that people heard today. [Jennifer] We'll see ya next week. [Aaron] Did you enjoy today's show? Find many more encouraging stories and resources at, and let us help you cultivate an extraordinary marriage.

 QUICK UPDATE: Our Interview With Jeremy And Audrey Roloff + Next Episode + A New Family Game we Made Up | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 00:04:40

Please listen to our interview with Jeremy And Audrey Roloff over at their podcast Behind The Scenes. Support Marriage After God By picking up one of our books. READ: [Aaron] Hey, we're Aaron and Jennifer Smith with Marriage After God. [Jennifer] Helping you cultivate an extraordinary marriage. [Aaron] And today, we just have some exciting news for you guys. [Jennifer] Yes, this is kind of like a surprise episode. We're so excited to share it with you. [Aaron] Yeah, we don't usually launch an episode on Tuesdays and this isn't a normal episode. This is just an update to let you guys know about a few cool things that are going on. [Jennifer] I feel like they'd be able to tell how excited we are by how fast we're talking. [Aaron] I know. [Jennifer] So let's just tone it down. Sorry you guys, we're just excited. [Aaron] So we did an interview a couple weeks ago with some good friend-- [Jennifer] That was so good! Are you kidding me? Did you hear that Tori in the background? [Aaron] Yeah. [Jennifer] Let's just keep it. [Aaron] Okay. So we did an interview with some friends of ours, Jeremy and Audrey Roloff. They just launched a podcast called Behind the Scenes and it's really great, it's been growing. [Jennifer] Yeah, I love it because I feel like they're just sharing from their hearts where they're at and even in our interview, it was just like sitting down with friends, which we're lucky 'cause we got to sit down with them live, like in person. [Aaron] It was a lot of fun. We didn't do it over the phone. They came to our house, we recorded the episode and that episode is live today on their podcast and the episode's about Jennifer and I working together as a team, in business and parenting, and we advocate for oneness and unity. So it was really fun to talk about the business side of things with us. [Jennifer] And how we do it with a growing family. [Aaron] With a growing family and-- [Jennifer] Oh wait, does that mean we're gonna have more? 'Cause we already have four. [Aaron] Yeah, sure. [Jennifer] Hey! [Aaron] And so we just wanted to invite you to search for their podcast and listen to that episode. It's live today. It's called Behind the Scenes and the episode's with Aaron and Jennifer Smith. And so, please go check that out. And I just also wanted to let you know that tomorrow, our normal launch day, is Wednesday. And we're launching an episode about something that is really sensitive. We talked about pornography. [Jennifer] Yeah it was super emotional for me. [Aaron] So be on the lookout for tomorrow's episode with us. And then Jennifer has one little secret announcement, she didn't tell me what it is. So we'll find out right now what it is. [Jennifer] It's just something fun. So I wanted you to share with them the new game we've been playing. So for everyone listening who has kids, this is an awesome game. You might be semi familiar-- [Aaron] Oh, is it the variation? [Jennifer] Yeah, it's a variation of the game. [Aaron] So we usually, when we're in the car with the kids, we play I spy with my little eye, and we-- [Jennifer] We've been doing it for five years now. [Aaron] Yeah, we look for something in the car, and the kids try and figure it out. [Jennifer] And it's fun. [Aaron] But what's really hard is when you're driving, you can't really point to things that are outside because you go by them really fast. [Jennifer] Unless you're in a parking lot or something. [Aaron] So I just randomly started this variation of the game called I don't spy with my little eye. [Jennifer] And the kids picked it up so quick, it was so-- [Aaron] They're actually better at that game than they are at the normal game. [Jennifer] So let's give them an example. [Aaron] So I'll say I spy with my little eye-- [Jennifer] No, I don't spy with. [Aaron] Oh, yeah. I don't spy with my little eye, something... that's hot and explode-y. [Jennifer] A volcano. [Aaron] Yeah! So it's something that we don't see, but we give hints about this idea or object or place that's out of our view. [Jennifer] So this is a fun one to play with a family who knows each other well. So like I know my son just has a kind of fascination with New York. New York City. [Aaron] Oh, yeah. [Jennifer] And so, I did one the other day where I was like I don't spy with my little eye something green that holds a torch. [Aaron] And he's like-- [Both] Statue of Liberty! [Jennifer] Or maybe Olive got it, I don't remember. [Aaron] Someone did. [Jennifer] But you guys, it's so fun! And you can literally do it-- [Aaron] It's way more fun than the regular game. [Jennifer] You can do it about anything. [Aaron] You don't have to look at it. You don't have to see it. [Jennifer] It's so fun! [Aaron] It also makes you really good at describing something that they could figure out. [Jennifer] Yeah. [Aaron] Yeah, so-- [Jennifer] Now that I've mentioned it, I wonder if people have been playing this for a long time already and we're just figuring it out. [Aaron] There's another name for it. [Jennifer] Yeah. [Aaron] Like Aaron, Jennifer, that game has been around for years. [Jennifer] I know. Well, try it. I don't spy with my little eye. [Aaron] Yeah. So, it's fun and that was a good little, okay. [Jennifer] Yeah. [Aaron] Cool, so we love you all. We just wanna hop on here, invite you to go check out Behind the Scenes podcast with Jeremy and Audrey Roloff. They interviewed us. It's an awesome episode. You get to learn a lot of insights about Jennifer and I that we don't usually talk about. Because we don't often talk about the business side of our life. [Jennifer] Yeah, working together. [Aaron] And then, be on the lookout for our episode tomorrow where we talk about our experience with pornography in our marriage. And how God healed us from that. [Jennifer] Last, last, last thing, thank you guys so much for just your support with this podcast. [Aaron] Yeah. [Jennifer] And your encouragement for us doing it. The Marriage After God podcast, and I just wanted to say thank you. I want them to know that we truly care that they're listening. [Aaron] We do. We love you all. We love seeing the reviews. We love seeing the comments. We love that you guys have supported us over the years, and yeah, we're all in this together. And so, we pray for your guys' marriages all the time. We love you and we thank you! We'll see you next week. Actually not next week, we'll see you tomorrow. Alright, bye!

 Answering Your Questions About Finances | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 00:47:54

Support the Marriage After God podcast by checking out our online store and resources. “If you will live like no one else, later you can live like no one else.” ― Dave Ramsey 1 Corinthians 10:24-27 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified. How do you view debt that one person brought into the marriage as “ours” especially when the two of you are on different pages about spending before the debt is paid off? What do you recommend in terms of building multiple streams of income? Publish a book - Start a small business based off skills or resources you and your husband have - Photography - Painting We know many people who have made a decent income off youngliving. How do you both feel about taking risks financially? Such as investing in something that might cost a lot but also make money in the future. Luke 14:28 For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? James 4:13-17 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin. Do you make a college fund for your children? If so how much do you add to it each month? How do you feel about mortgages? We are debt-free but live in NYC and seems you can’t own a home without a mortgage. Is that still debt-free? How do we not touch savings? How to tithe when financially struggling? What is your take on separate bank accounts in marriage? The bible speaks very specifically to this question Genesis 2:24, Matthew 19:5, Mark 10:8, Ephesians 5:31 The 2 shall become one. When budgeting do you allow for a savings amount for birthday gifts food ect or does it all come out of general? What percentage of the budget should be allowed for food? Assuming all food or going out? How much is a realistic amount to save each week? My husband and I are in so much debt. We don’t know how to budget. Any advice? We want to be debt-free and not living paycheck to paycheck. We have 3 boys. How should we decide what they can and can’t do because of the budget? they love sports must ect. What do you do for health ins we are self-employed would love to hear what you do. How do you navigate financial stress as a team? What do you guys use for a budget? How do you budget with kids, one income, and a stay at home mom? I want to be a stay at home mom but we are not sure we can afford it. What should we do? Do you have any advice on seeing if you are ready to go to a one income household? How do you prepare to go to one income with a second baby? Dear Lord, Thank You for everything You give to us. Thank You for our finances and thank You for our jobs so that we can provide for our families so that we can give back to You, and be generous with others. We pray we would be good stewards of all that You give to us, especially money. We pray we would be faithful to use our money the way You want us to. Help us to be united in our marriage in the way we spend, save, and give. Help us to make financial decisions with wisdom and with wise counsel. Please help us to live debt-free and may our lives be a testimony to others of Your faithfulness. May we be people who seek to use our finances to build your Kingdom! In Jesus’ name, amen! READ: [Aaron] Hey, Aaron and Jennifer Smith with Marriage After God. [Jennifer] Helping you cultivate an extraordinary marriage. [Aaron] And today we're gonna answer your questions about finances. Welcome to the Marriage After God podcast, where we believe that marriage was meant for more than just happily ever after. [Jennifer] I'm Jennifer, also known as Unveiled Wife. [Aaron] And I'm Aaron, also known as Husband Revolution. [Jennifer] We have been married for over a decade. [Aaron] And so far, we have four young children. [Jennifer] We have been doing marriage ministry online for over seven years, through blogging and social media. [Aaron] With the desire to inspire couples to keep God at the center of their marriage and encouraging them to walk in faith every day. [Jennifer] We believe that Christian marriage should be an extraordinary one, full of life, [Aaron] Love. [Jennifer] And power. [Aaron] That can only be found by chasing after God. [Jennifer] Together. [Aaron] Thank you for joining us on this journey as we chase boldly after God's will for our life together. [Jennifer] This is Marriage After God. [Aaron] First and foremost, we always want to invite you to leave a star rating on the podcast. It helps other people find the podcast, it helps people learn about the podcast, it gets us in the rankings so other people can find it, it's awesome. We'd appreciate if you could just scroll down to the bottom of the podcast app and hit a five-star rating, or actually whatever star rating you want to. And if you have time, you can leave us a text review. That'd be awesome. We read those, they encourage us, and we'd really appreciate that. [Jennifer] We also want you guys to know that this Marriage After God podcast is sponsored by our store,, and just to highlight one book bundle that we carry that we wrote for you guys is 31 Prayers for my Son and 31 Prayers for my Daughter, and we wrote these for you to help encourage your prayer life over your children, and we're really excited about these books and we wanted you to know about them. [Aaron] For the icebreaker question, Jennifer, what is one thing you would do today to get out of debt if we had debt? Because we're debt-free, but if we had debt today, what's thing you'd do right now to help us get out of debt? [Jennifer] Okay. I think the first thing that comes to my mind is I see a small piece of paper and I just write a number on it, let's say $100, and then I would take that day to go around the house and figure out what can I sell today, whether it's through Facebook Marketplace or through my friends, text messages, or whatever. What can I get rid of today to make that $100 and then send it straight to the debt? [Aaron] Okay, I like that. I'll one up you. I was thinking selling everything in the house. [Jennifer] You would. [Aaron] Well, because we have a lot of things and we don't realize how much money is just sitting in the house with your furniture, and through, I wouldn't be able to sell everything like our bed, but-- [Jennifer] No, you said everything. [Aaron] Well, okay. We could sleep on the floor, people sleep on the floor. [Jennifer] Aaron would sell everything. I on the other hand would just get rid of stuff we don't use. [Aaron] Well that's how we were when we were in debt, babe. [Jennifer] We had little. [Aaron] We had very little, but we did sell almost everything we had. I think that's what I would do. I would actually go through the house and I'd say "Okay, what can we get rid of?" And I'd probably, Dave Ramsey says it funny, he says, he says "Sell everything," and so that your kids wonder if they're next. [Jennifer] Oh my gosh, that's terrible. [Aaron] That drastic. Go through everything and get rid of everything. [Jennifer] Speaking of Dave Ramsey, we have a quote of the day by him. [Aaron] Yeah, it's if you will live like no one else, later you can live like no one else. [Jennifer] So you're living like no one else. That sounds like a Marriage After God right there. [Aaron] Yeah, it's true. It also reminds me of another quote that says if you want something you've never had, you gotta do something you've never done. I believe it's by Thomas Jefferson, but other people say they don't know who it's by. But the idea is that if you make choices today that no one else is making, everyone chooses to be in debt, everyone chooses to spend money unwisely and just buy things and to use credit cards. Those are normal, everyone chooses that. But if we choose to live differently, [Jennifer] Radically. [Aaron] If we make choices like, well, this hurts and it's painful, but no one's doing this, what it does is it affords you a life that later on you can live like no one else is living. You make choices today that allow you to live a certain way later. [Jennifer] And I feel like that later comes so fast, just in the scheme of life. [Aaron] Life does fly by fast. [Jennifer] It might seem hard now, right, but this season is so short in comparison to the rest of later. [Aaron] Yeah, we have, I remember our season getting out of debt. In the middle of it, it was so daunting. [Jennifer] It seemed like a long, drawn-out thing. [Aaron] And it was like, this is never gonna get done. [Jennifer] But it wasn't. [Aaron] But now it's been behind us, what? [Jennifer] Eight, nine, ten years. [Aaron] Ten years. That was a long time ago. We've been debt-free for ten years now. [Jennifer] And we're living in the later. [Aaron] We're living in the later, so yeah, we get to live like no one else now because we made choices that no one else was making back then. And I remember people thinking we were weird. We didn't have much. We had actually nothing. But I wouldn't trade it. [Jennifer] Yeah, I don't regret being debt-free. [Aaron] We encourage other people all the time. We're gonna do it a lot in this episode actually. [Jennifer] Yeah, so speaking of this episode, we thought it would be fun to answer your guys' questions on finance. We pulled on Instagram Live and just asked you what kind of questions you guys had about money and budgeting and all kinds of things, so today's episode we are going to focus on your questions and trying to answer them. [Aaron] Yeah, so each one of these questions is from someone who follows us. And we're gonna, we don't have all the answers. [Jennifer] Nope. [Aaron] We will answer the best as we can, we'll answer with scripture if we can, we will answer from experience, and we might say we don't know on some of them. Because I'd rather say I don't know than make up an answer that is false. [Jennifer] Yeah, and just right off the bat if we want to give some resources that you guys can look up for more information about finances, we do really like Dave Ramsey and just his whole ministry on helping people get out of debt, [Aaron] He's helped a lot of people get out of debt. [Jennifer] Lead faithful lives in finances, so check him out, Financial Peace University is his thing. Also, Money Saving Mom is a great resource. She has a lot of good stuff, go check her out. [Aaron] Let's start this episode. I want to read some scripture to give us a foundation of why we should even care about our finances, our money, getting out of debt, all of those things. And it's found in 1 Corinthians 10, verses 24 through 27. "Do you not know that in a race, "all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? "So run that you may obtain it. "Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. "They do it to receive a perishable wreath. "But we, an imperishable. "So I do not run aimlessly. "I do not box as one beating the air, "but I discipline my body and keep it under control "lest after preaching to others "I myself should be disqualified." And what I love about this is Paul's saying, he's saying the race we're running is this race of faith, it's the race that we're running toward heaven and with God and with the Holy Spirit, and our prize is imperishable. We're not running to get a trophy, we're running for an imperishable prize which is eternity with God. And Paul says here, he says "I don't run aimlessly," meaning he's got a specific goal, he trains a certain way, he's thoughtful about it and he knows what he's doing. And then he says "I discipline my body "and keep it under control," and again, the purpose of this is so that in our preaching, we're not disqualified. The reason we talked about finances and getting out of debt and why these are important for the Christian to be aware of and to walk not aimlessly in is because we have a job to do in this world, and it's to preach the Gospel. And part of preaching the Gospel and not being disqualified is are we an example? Do we have self-control in all things? [Jennifer] Yeah, including finances. [Aaron] Including finances. Or are we taken under by our own debt and our own cravings and desires and "Oh, I want that new car or I want that, "or I want to eat out all the time," or whatever it is that sucks the money out of us and makes us incapacitated financially. Paul wants us to know that we shouldn't be running aimlessly so we should have a plan, we should have a goal, we should have purpose in mind, and he wants to remind us that the Gospel that we're preaching, we ourselves don't want to be disqualified after we've preached it, so we need to be disciplined and self-disciplined and self-controlled. I just that'd be a good place to start. [Jennifer] Yeah, I love it, it's really good, yeah. [Aaron] With this. It's actually why we got out of debt. It's part of our story. We left doing missions work. We're doing the Lord's work, we felt the Lord calling us home and saying "I want you debt-free so you can be free," and we went home. [Jennifer] But we had a goal. [Aaron] Yeah, we went home specifically to get out of debt, so everything we did was focused around getting out of debt. [Jennifer] And I felt like that word aimlessly really stands out to me, because I feel like, because I feel like it's really easy when you look at finances to almost avoid the hardship of finances or the things that weight us down, the stress that's involved, [Aaron] Yeah, pretend it's not there. [Jennifer] To pretend it's not there or to ignore it, which leads to being aimless. If you're not willing to face it and confront it, then the other option is to be aimless. [Aaron] Yeah, well there's no goal, you're floating, you're like "Well, I'm gonna," [Jennifer] Because if you have a goal, then you're gonna be forced to look at what you have and say "Okay, this is how I get from point A to point B." [Aaron] Yep, and we have to write those goals down too. We've just been talking about lists lately. And if you write it down, it becomes real. Just a quick tip, write down your goals, how much you want to pay off, when, when do you plan on getting out of debt, and then start hitting those goals and doing everything you can to hit them. [Jennifer] And even if you have a specific strategy and you guys figure out how you're gonna do it, write that down too. [Aaron] Yep. Okay, let's go right into question number one. [Jennifer] Okay, is there any rhyme or reason with any of these? [Aaron] No, it looks like you just put them in order from what you received them. [Jennifer] Okay, let's do it. [Aaron] How do you view debt that one person brought into the marriage as ours, especially when the two of you are on different pages about spending before the debt is paid off? [Jennifer] Oh man, I feel like we answered this really good in our book, Marriage After God, because we share our different perspectives of money and the value it had in our lives, how we spent it, and this idea of debt. [Aaron] This was us. Whose debt did we have when we got married? [Jennifer] Well, I believed it was yours. It had your name written on it. But God had to teach me the lesson of what it meant to be ours. [Aaron] Yeah, and you married me, debt and all. You married me, sin and all. And we don't get to marry someone but only choose the parts of them that we're going to walk with and be one with. Now, when we have sin, those are things that need to be changed and repented of. Even the debt needs to be dealt with. There's things that need to be dealt with, but we deal with it together. [Jennifer] Yeah, so to answer this question how do you view debt that one person brought in? View it as ours, so assume that responsibility as now ours, both of you working to do it, because I'll tell you what, it wasn't until God changed my heart and I received Him changing my heart on it being our debt that we actually were able to make change in knocking it off. [Aaron] Think about it, if you would have expected me just to deal with it, while you're spending how you want. It was our money, right? [Jennifer] Yeah. [Aaron] But then if you spend it how you want, it would have made it that much harder for me to deal with it. [Jennifer] Yeah, you probably wouldn't have been able to get out of debt. [Aaron] I would say yeah, ours, and then it says if we're on different pages of spending, [Jennifer] Get on the same page. [Aaron] The reason you're in debt and having a hard time paying debt off is because you're on different pages about finances. [Jennifer] Yeah, get on the same page. That means that both of you are gonna have to make sacrifices to stay on that same page when it comes to spending, saving, paying off debt, all of it. [Aaron] Yeah, and a quick tip, make a rule. We made a rule, if there was anything over $25, we had to immediately bring it to, but when we were getting out of debt, we actually talked about everything that we spent. [Jennifer] Yeah, everything went to that. [Aaron] But now, we have rules about if it's gonna cost so much, we actually ask permission. What happens though is it keeps us both accountable to what we're spending, that it's not just like "Oh, I accidentally spent $600, sorry," that doesn't happen. [Jennifer] Okay, I think we answered that one pretty good. Number two, what do you recommend in terms of building multiple streams of income? [Aaron] This is a cool question. [Jennifer] I also feel like in this day and age I feel like there is a lot of opportunity. [Aaron] Oh, we have infinite opportunities. People make money just on social media by not even selling anything, they just they post for other people and they make money. [Jennifer] Why do you think it's a cool question? [Aaron] Well because we did this. The way we got out of debt was we started a photography business. [Jennifer] Yeah, we used our resources of what we had, which was a camera. [Aaron] We used our passion for photography and we had resources in relationships. We knew someone getting married and we were like "Hey, can we shoot your wedding?" And they said "Sure," they needed a photographer, they didn't have much money. Actually, we did that for free, they bought us a flash or something. [Jennifer] Yeah, I think the very first wedding we shot, we shot together for a flash, which she had to buy for us before the wedding. [Aaron] Yeah, and then I think we charged like $400, and I think it was like $600, and then it was like 850. [Jennifer] Each job that we got, we just, yeah, increased. [Aaron] Well we made a rule. We're like "Every job, we're gonna increase a little bit." Until eventually we were making $1,200, $1,500 a wedding, and we were working Saturdays and Sundays, shooting families and weddings while working full-time jobs during the week. [Jennifer] It was crazy town. [Aaron] Now I want to say we had no kids back then. [Jennifer] Yeah, so we were able to. [Aaron] It would definitely look different today with having kids. But it is still possible. A couple of ideas we've had. [Jennifer] Well for starters just like you said about the seasons thing, I think it's really important for couples to know that if you're gonna go into a season of hard work, meaning either both of you or one of you is heavily working, there just needs to be an end date where you're saying "Okay, we're gonna sprint this season," [Aaron] Yeah, this next six months we're gonna work this hard. [Jennifer] We're gonna work this hard and that way expectations are set and nobody can get mad at each other, and then there's a season of rest. Don't forget to give yourself that season of rest. [Aaron] Yeah, because you'll, if you just get it working nights and weekends, [Jennifer] You'll burn out. [Aaron] And all day, you'll want-- [Jennifer] Your family will burn out. [Aaron] You don't want to do that. It's a good reminder, and that's how we've always looked at it, we did the photography thing for a season, it was a year and a half that we did it and we crushed hard at that, we were doing so much. By the end of it we hated weddings. [Jennifer] But it was fun. [Aaron] It was super fun, and really hard. We got out of debt though. The idea is, we have a few ideas. The first one that we have is publish a book. We make a living now off of books that we've published. And we learned how to do it on our own, but one of the little things we started a while ago is called, it's a course Jennifer and I made, teaching people how to self-publish, so if you're interested and if you're a writer, if you have children the book idea, if you do art or photography, publish a book, you might be able to make a little bit of money on Amazon. It's actually free to do as long as you have all the time and energy and the talent to do it. Another one is start a small business based off skills or resources you and your husband have. Like our photography business. [Jennifer] Yeah, another one would be painting. If you like to paint, you can sell canvases of different things that you like to paint. [Aaron] Yeah, or if you have some tools for painting. I've known people to paint houses and make really good money on the weekends. Doing handyman work, there's so many things that we have skill-wise that we don't realize is actually valuable. There's someone who needs what we have. Maybe as a couple write down the resources, the talents, the skills that you have and see how those can make money. [Jennifer] And you can utilize places like as a venue to sell your stuff. [Aaron] Yeah, we know someone that they just were really good at sewing little bows and start an Etsy store and sell a bunch of bows! [Jennifer] We also have people who've made a lot of money off, there's a lot of companies out there that have great models. Things like Young Living. [Aaron] Yeah, they've made it really easy to sell anything. Those are just some ideas. There's so many, so many ways to do it. But having a small business or doing some sort of side jobs it's how we paid off all of our debt. And it does add levels of complexity to your life, but it's totally doable, and it's sometimes the only way to get out of debt. If your normal job doesn't afford your enough financial liquidity to pay off debt, doing a side business for a while or a side job can definitely do that. [Jennifer] Okay, moving on to number three. How do you both feel about taking risks financially? Such as investing in something that might cost a lot up front, but also make money in the future. Which there's no guarantee. Let's just be straightforward. [Aaron] We always get told that, like this is a no-brainer, you just gotta start it. We always tell ourselves the best-case scenario and we don't think practically through it, so I just wanted to read Luke 14:28 says "For which of you, desiring to build a tower, "does not first sit down and count the cost, "whether he has enough to complete it?" And I just wanted to remind us that wisdom should tell us "Okay, that sounds like a great idea, yes," because it could totally be profitable to spend a little bit of money now, if you could figure out that it's going to double or triple or whatever. But we gotta count the cost. What's the time investment it's gonna take? What's the financial investment it's gonna take? How long will it take to return that? How much time is it gonna take to maintain and build and grow? Those are all things that we have to think about when trying to take a financial risk. And then the, we've done this before. We've been really frugal in the past and avoided any sort of risk and we've also made mistakes in risk. And what would you say is the better side of it? [Jennifer] Well like you said, counting the cost. I think it's always really important that we sit down and figure out how this will benefit our family or how this will hurt our family, and I think the times that we've made mistakes or the times that we don't really count the cost, [Aaron] Yeah, and we rush into things. That's been my fault, many a times. [Jennifer] Well, I wasn't going to point the finger. [Aaron] Yeah it's all right. [Jennifer] I was gonna say out of the two of us or how, because the question is how do you both feel about it, how do you feel about taking risks financially? What's your process? [Aaron] I'm usually pretty safe, but I have made mistakes and it always comes back to I don't fully think through it, I tell myself the best-case scenario, and often it's a rush. And so now we have these rules of it's a rush, it's a no. For the most part. There's been times, but usually if it's a rush, it's a no. [Jennifer] Yeah, when I think about this question, I think "Well, if it's a risk for some sort of investment "or stocks or something like money-wise that way," I always get really nervous and I'm like "Nope, I won't do it," but when it comes to a risk of taking a risk on someone or somebody's talent, one of ours, something that we have a dream to do, that's easier for me to say yes to, even if we waste a lot of money doing it. I don't know why, but there's something in my heart that just says "Let's go for that." [Aaron] Yeah, and if it could be a slow and minimal risk, that's always, what we try and do is like how can we make this as little of risk as possible? Like if we're gonna work with a new company that's gonna print our books or advertise for us, or whatever it is. It's all risk, technically, because they can mess up. You could buy the wrong thing, you could spend the wrong money, it just-- [Jennifer] Would you say that it would be wise to also seek counsel on certain decisions, like maybe those close friends that you have, or-- [Aaron] Oh 100%. Getting many wise counselors around you is the way we do battle and we win battles. I just wanted to read one more scripture on this. James 4:13-17 says: "Come now, you who say, "today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town "and spend a year there and trade and make a profit "yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. "What is your life? "For you are a mist that appears "for a little time and then vanishes. "Instead you ought to say, "If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that. "As it is, you boast in your arrogance. "All such boasting is evil. "So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, "for him it is sin." I just wanted to bring this up because the other side of this is to remember that we have no control over tomorrow. We don't know. I could invest today and the Lord can come tomorrow. We can, doesn't mean not to, but James is telling us less have a heart of like "Well if the Lord wills it." We're gonna work, we're gonna plan, we're going to count the costs, we're gonna get counsel, we're gonna figure things out, but to be honest, if the Lord wants it to happen or not. [Jennifer] The other thing I want to add to this section about taking financial risks is you guys gotta be in unity when taking financial risks and don't, not at the cost of your marriage. I don't want people to jump into making decisions that, one spouse is for it, one spouse isn't. I really think that there needs to be unity whenever you advance in making decisions like this. [Aaron] That's a good point. Be in complete unity, have peace about it and I would say lastly, you should not taking a financial risk unless you have some extra money to play with. [Jennifer] To risk. [Aaron] If you're literally not being able to buy groceries to risk this, that's not a good strategy. [Jennifer] That's good. [Aaron] It may mean sell some more things and say "Okay, we have this extra $1,000, "we can put it towards debt or we can start this thing, "but that $1,000, if it's gone or not gone, "isn't gonna hinder your family from being taken care of." [Jennifer] That's good, I'm glad you mentioned that. Okay, number four. Do you make a college fund for your children? If so, how much do you add to it each month? [Aaron] Do we have a college fund? [Jennifer] No. Short answer, no. Do we have a little bit of savings if they needed it? Sure, but we also want to encourage our kids, just in their future we talk about college. We want to encourage them to be hard workers, that if they needed to pay for their own college they could. [Aaron] Yeah, and teaching them the abilities that they have and how they can make money. We have an IRA that we put money into that could be used for school, but we don't necessarily have a direct college fund. [Jennifer] And do we put money in it every month? [Aaron] We don't put money in every month, we put it, for a while we were but we adjust that based off of how our income is. The next question is how do you feel about mortgages? Well I hate mortgages. [Jennifer] Everybody does. [Aaron] Who likes mortgages? [Jennifer] This is specifically, this couple was asking because they say "We are debt-free but live in NYC and it seems like "you can't own a home without a mortgage. "Is that still being debt-free?" Having a mortgage? [Aaron] Well technically no, because you're in debt. But some people would say "Well it's good debt, "because it appreciates." Well sure, as long the market is appreciating. There's again, you don't know what tomorrow's gonna bring. [Jennifer] I feel like for the majority most people would say it doesn't fall under the debt-free title. [Aaron] Yeah again, so we bought a house. We got a mortgage and we did the normal thing, but we had been debt-free for seven years before buying a house. There's a season actually leading up to like six years into our debt-free-ness I didn't even want to buy a house because I didn't want to get in debt again. But you know, things change and we made a different decision and our goal was to treat that debt the same way we treated the other debt. Again, you have to count the costs and you have to make the decision that way and get wise counsel. Can you afford it? And then, because the way I looked at it is I was paying X amount of dollars for rent anyway, so if I could pay that to something I'm gonna own, that's why we decided to buy a house finally. [Jennifer] We actually put a stipulation on it. You said we're not gonna, we're not gonna even look for a home to buy if the mortgage isn't less than what we're paying for rent. [Aaron] Yeah, that was a, man, because when we were looking it gets so easy to start looking outside your range. [Jennifer] Yeah and you keep going up and up. [Aaron] Like "Well it's only another 10,000, "well, this is nicer." I don't know. [Jennifer] Are you repeating me? [Aaron] No! That's my inside voice, I don't know. But I did, I made us a hard stipulation. I said "I don't want to buy a house "that mortgage's gonna be more than our current rent." And we did, we actually hit that. It took us a long time and it was really frustrating at times. [Jennifer] And we had to be patient, but I would just like the other questions I would say you guys have to be in unity if you are gonna go into that mortgage. [Aaron] Yeah and count the costs, it's gonna be an investment that you have to put your own blood, sweat, and tears into. [Jennifer] Yeah. [Aaron] All right, cool, let's move on. How do we not touch savings? It's a pretty short question. [Jennifer] Bury it really deep in the backyard. [Aaron] If this is a self-control thing, then you need to learn self-control. Like if you're just dipping in because you wanted to go out to eat or if you want to buy that thing-- [Jennifer] Have that coffee. [Aaron] That's, you're never gonna be able to save if that's how you are. If it's a problem with you can't pay your rent, dip into savings. [Jennifer] That's what it's there for. [Aaron] Yeah, that's what it's there for. I would say just practice. Give yourself goals. Say "We're gonna save to this dollar amount, "and if we do, we'll celebrate by spending a little bit, "1% of it." [Jennifer] That's a good idea. [Aaron] And that way you're helping yourself, training yourself to go longer without dipping into your savings, and you have a goal you're gonna hit. [Jennifer] Yeah, cool. Okay, number seven. How do you tithe when you're financially struggling? [Aaron] How did we do it? [Jennifer] Sowe lived pretty radically, we still tithed even though we were struggling financially. We believed that everything that we got was God's and we gave it back to him. [Aaron] All of it. Nobut we had this, I believed that generosity and giving and tithing were spiritual disciplines and I believed that I wanted to trust God. And I remember telling us, I said "Hey, the only place in the Bible that God tells His people "to test Him is in the Old Testament," and He tells His people, He goes "Bring all the tithe "to the storehouse," when He's talking about the temple. [Jennifer] In Micah? [Aaron] Yeah, and He says "See that I will not open the floodgates of heaven," [Jennifer] Or was it Malachi? [Aaron] Oh, it's Malachi I think you're right. It's the last book of the Old Testament. And He just challenges them to challenge Him. Like "Hey, you do what you have been supposed to be doing "for all of these generations that you haven't been doing it "and I will pour out my blessing on my people." Now that was talking to the Jews, but God hasn't changed. And so I looked at God and I said "I want to give. "I want to be a giver, I want to be generous, "I want to be a tither." And what was awesome is a couple things happened. We were able to give and be generous, and it also changed our perspectives on money. [Jennifer] Yeah, we didn't hold it so tightly. [Aaron] Which is the whole point of giving anyway, of knowing it's all God's. We actually, while we were trying to get out of debt, we made it a challenge to ourselves to see how much we could give. What is funny is it kept us from giving ourselves pretty much anything. We just had enough to live on and not only were we able to pay our debt off, but we were also able to give more than we ever were able to give. Not that that made us any more righteous or anything, it was our own personal challenge and it was pretty awesome to see that God still provided, God grew what we were able to give, and decreased our debt as we were faithful. [Jennifer] Yeah, I think one of the things we wanted to avoid too was, well once we were out of debt and we have money, is it gonna be harder for us to give then? You know what I mean? We wanted to build that habit-- [Aaron] Well because the mentality's always like "Oh I'll give when I have more," and I have a scripture to reference for this, but once I have more, that's when I'll give. And we're not giving this as a command to anyone. You have to choose in your heart and decide in your heart what you're gonna give and how you're gonna give as a family, and that you are, at any level of giving, are you gonna trust God? Are you gonna seek Him and are you gonna be wise with your money? Because that's what He wants from us. He wants us to be wise, not just frivolous and like "I'm just gonna throw it away, here's that, "and oh, I can't pay rent now," no, be wise. If you want to give, pray and ask how you guys can give and ask God to change your hearts on what money means to you and where it goes and when it goes. And the verse I wanted to bring up about this is in Mark 12 and it's about this Jesus recognizing how two different kinds of people are giving and he says "And he sat down opposite the treasury "and watched the people putting money into the offering box. "Many rich people put in large sums. "And a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, "which make a penny. "And He called His disciples to Him and said to them "Truly I say to you, this poor widow has put in more "than all these who are contributing to the offering box, "for they all contributed out of their abundance, "but she, out of her poverty, has put in everything she had, "all she had to live on." And so just that mentality of once we have more then we'll give, Jesus is showing us in this picture, he's saying "Actually, she gave more out of her poverty "because she didn't have much to give but she still gave." Knowing that, if we have the mentality of one day we'll give when we have more isn't the right mentality to have. The right mentality to have is like "God is yours, teach me. "Teach me how to use it. "Where do you want it?" [Jennifer] Okay, number eight. What is your take on separate bank accounts and marriage? [Aaron] Well I think there's a scripture that speaks clearly to this, and it's in Genesis 2:24, Matthew 19:5, Mark 10:8, Ephesians 5:31. [Jennifer] Hold on, those are a lot of verses. [Aaron] Oh, well they all say the same thing. It says the two shall become one. Our take is that it should just be, there's one place that money goes, it's our money, and we use it for God's Kingdom. [Jennifer] And having the one bank account, it helps you in building that oneness and that unity and practicing and walking it out on a daily basis. [Aaron] Yeah so our perspective is you share a bank account. Now we have a savings account, we have a few accounts, but there's not her money, my money. [Jennifer] No, we all have access and we all put into it and we all take out of it and we talk about it a lot. [Aaron] Yeah. Number nine, when budgeting, do you allow for a savings amount for birthday gifts, food, et cetera, or does it all come out of general? [Jennifer] Okay, so how we would do this is we would have in our budgeting we would account for food and even going out to eat, but then we'd just have a general fund where those kinds of things came out of. Birthday gifts and random things. [Aaron] Yeah, we called it our personal allowance, which was after we broke down all of our budget, whatever was left, which was usually nothing. Sometimes it was a little bit. But yeah, we've never been that specific, but you can totally get that specific. I know people that have broke their budget as specific as you can imagine. [Jennifer] Yeah, and I know having the app on our phone, the bank app has helped, because you'll check right there as we're checking out in line, making sure that we can afford that birthday gift or whatever it is extra that we were paying. [Aaron] If I have to transfer from savings or something like that. What's number 10? [Jennifer] Number 10 is what percentage of the budget should be allowed for food, assuming that they're talking about all food or just going out, I'm not really sure, but, [Aaron] If you're in debt and you're trying to get out of debt and you're trying to save money, you just probably should not eat out. It's way more expensive and if you're going somewhere that's cheaper than a restaurant, it's probably not healthy. Eat at home, it's cheaper, you can buy in bulk, you can organize it so your budget for food, our budget was always just food. And if we ate out, it came out of that budget, which hurt us because you have this eating out bill and then it took away from your groceries for that week. [Jennifer] Yeah, recently I was following someone on Instagram who posted a screenshot of a breakdown of what percentage of your budget should be for food, depending on your family size, and I thought it was really interesting. I don't remember exactly where she got it from but if you just Googled it, it would show up. [Aaron] Yeah, and the way you can do this is go grocery shopping, and figure out what your normal grocery shopping list is and that's your budget. If you need to break down your grocery shopping budget more and you can find, like, well we don't need to get cereals this time, or pick the things that are less necessary or figure out how to buy things in bulk, but definitely if you're trying to save money and get out of debt, grocery shopping, buying in bulk, freezing stuff is gonna be the best way to go and eating out should probably be put on the back burner for a while. [Jennifer] That's funny, back burner, because we're talking about making food at home. Don't forget about it, don't let it burn! Just kidding. Okay, number eleven. How much is a realistic amount to save each week? [Aaron] This is gonna be unique before we've seen a person's budget. To be honest, we didn't save a penny. [Jennifer] Until we were out of debt and beyond that. [Aaron] Yeah, my perspective on it is why are we saving money when we could be putting that money towards debt? Once we were out of debt, we started thinking about savings differently, but again, that's gonna be dependent on your income, where you're at, how much debt you have, and figuring out whatever percentage of your income can be saved, yeah. Number 12, my husband and I are in so much debt. We don't know how to budget. Any advice, we want to be debt-free and not living paycheck to paycheck. My advice to this couple is get on the same page, start talking about it, get real. We have to recognize that we can't just play with these things. If you need to stop eating out, there's areas that you're spending money that you shouldn't. If it means finding a better job, start looking. Maybe your second job you have is looking for a better job. If you're only making ends meet on this current job, you're not getting enough hours, look for a better one. Right now we're in the best economy if you're looking for a job. And I know that's easier said than done, but sometimes you just need to pull the Band-Aid off and realize, "Okay, this sore's not getting healed. "We need to sit down, we need to write down everything. "Every penny, where it goes. "We need to start selling everything we have. "We need to start just," boil your life down to what you need and scramble to get out of debt. [Jennifer] Also we shouldn't neglect the power of prayer. I feel like there have been so many testimonies from our friend's life and just our life of praying for our specific needs. What kind of job do you have and do you need that God could be fulfilling for you given the opportunity to open your eyes and show you and give you exactly what you need? [Aaron] And then start looking actively. Send resumes. Now don't tell your current job that you're doing that, because they might fire you, but that's what I would do. I would start looking today. Number 13, we have three boys. How should we decide what they can and can't do because of the budget? They love sports, music, et cetera. [Jennifer] Okay, so again, going back to the unity I feel like you and your husband, you and your spouse need to be on the same page about what the budget can allot for, where is there room to do stuff, and if the budget for that season doesn't, doesn't have room for those extra things, it's gonna be hard, but you have to be able to say no and you just have to explain to your family what that means. [Aaron] Yeah, and our kids are not gonna fall apart, become less of citizens in this country and immoral because they don't do sports. We sometimes have those draws of like "Well if they don't do these things, "they're gonna miss out on," but we have to remember, there's so many other ways that our kids will learn. Whatever skills they can learn in those sports or those activities. [Jennifer] And don't forget that they're also learning the discipline of being a good start with finances, and this is part of learning and they'll have to know that in life, there's seasons when you can't do as much, and that has to be okay. [Aaron] Think about this, that sports is like a team sport thing, right? Getting out of debt's a team sport. Your children are in your family, they're on your team, and they need to be a part of that. And you can bring them in and you can say "Well, guys, we're gonna go through a season "that's gonna be hard, but we're gonna do it together." [Jennifer] Yeah, here's the downside if you're not doing it together. Let's say, let's say mom is pushing for the team sports and dad's saying "Well, we can't afford it this time," what are the children gonna see? They're gonna see division in the marriage, they're gonna see-- [Aaron] Yeah, and they'll react to that. [Jennifer] And they'll react to it and then they also may start to favor the parent who's for them and for what the things that they want to do. [Aaron] Or worse become bitter towards the other parent. [Jennifer] Or become bitter towards the other parent. And we want to avoid that. At Marriage After God, understands the power of unity and doesn't lose sight of that. [Aaron] Yeah, and so being on the same page again, as a couple, so that our children see our unity and strength and they will learn more from that than they'll learn probably from any sport in my opinion. [Jennifer] Okay, number 14. What do you do for health insurance? We are self-employed and we'd love to hear what you do. [Aaron] For a long time, we were on, what was that company called? It was not, Samaritan's Purse is one of them, yeah, it was called MediShare. It's a Christian healthcare, it's a shared thing where you put money in and that money helps other people in their bills and vice versa. We did that for a while, actually. There's MediShare and then there's Samaritan's Purse and I know there's a couple others, but just look for Christian shared health plans. [Jennifer] Number 15 is how do you navigate financial stress as a team? What are some ways, practical ways, that we can help each other when there's financial stress? [Aaron] Lots of conversations about what's going on. Planning together, writing things down, prayer, and just constantly reminding each other that we're gonna get through it together, that we're gonna do it together, that we're gonna make choices together, and not getting off, out of hand and sneaking around and spending money over here or making choices over here behind each other's backs, but actually-- [Jennifer] Or arguing about it, right, in front of everyone. [Aaron] Or arguing about it, yeah, which has happened. But yeah, just that team, doing it together. Having the conversations at night, putting the strategies in place. [Jennifer] I think too, a huge win would be reminding each other of the future. We started out the episode, that later, living life later, what does that look like? [Aaron] We did this a lot. [Jennifer] Yeah, so envision for each other what that future looks like and enjoy that moment right then and there. [Aaron] Well and recognize like "Hey, what we're doing right now is gonna give us "something else, it's gonna give us something better, "the fruit it's gonna bear is gonna be good," and so that's such a good reminder, because we did that. Because it was so hard at times, right in the middle of it, you're like "Gosh, this is just too hard," to be like "Hey, but just know in a few years, "this is gonna be so far behind us, "and we're gonna be able to make choices "that we weren't able to make before, "and it's gonna feel so good and freeing," so yeah, as a team, just reminding each other of what it's gonna do, working hard at these things. We got a few more. Why don't you let us know what the next? Okay, so we got a few more questions. Why don't you hit the next question for us. [Jennifer] Okay, number 16 is what do you guys use for a budget? Which if they don't know, Aaron does most of the budgeting, which I like, because I don't really have the mental space right now to do it. [Aaron] There's two parts to our budget. I'm gonna be honest, we don't focus on our budget as much as we used to, as micro as we used to. But we still use a lot of the general disciplines, but when we were getting out of debt, man, I was looking at that thing every single day. [Jennifer] Yeah, heightenly aware. [Aaron] Yeah, so what I did is I just created a Google Sheet, a spreadsheet, or you can use Microsoft, what's it called? Excel. And I literally wrote down on the sheet every single thing that we spend money on. I looked at our grocery bills to see how much we spent on groceries, I looked at our gas bills to see what our average was each month, and then I rounded them all up a little bit, because if it was like one month this high, one month it was low, I rounded them all up a little bit, and then I took the total and then I broke down by actual things that we owed, like bills, and then right there we found out what our budget was. It was like every month, to live, we needed $1,800 or $1,250 or whatever it was. And that was phone bill, that was gas, that was literally every single penny we had to spend to live. And then anything that was left over, I broke up in percentages. 10% to tithe, or 12%, whatever our number was, and then how much of it was gonna go to debt, actually no, so then whatever was left over I broke up into allowance and to tithe and savings. But for a while, allowance and savings was zero and tithe was the only thing that we had extra. That's how we did it, and the second part of it was we opened up several different bank accounts. One was our bills bank accounts, so every penny that was owed to bills for the month went into that account and all our bills were paid from it. And then we had our savings account, our tithe account, and our allowance account. And based off the spreadsheet, we just put the money, it's like the envelope system that Dave Ramsey does but we did it digitally. That's how we budgeted. [Jennifer] Okay, these next few which we're gonna wrap up with are all the same, so I'm gonna read them all and then we'll try and answer them. 17 is how do you budget with kids with one income and a stay at home mom? Number 18 is I want to be a stay at home mom, but we are not sure we can afford it. What should we do? And number 19. Do you have any advice on seeing if you're ready to go to a one-income household? How do you prepare to go to one income with a second baby? All surrounding that, one income, stay at home mom, one kid or more, how do you budget? How do you do it? [Aaron] Well, strict. Get real strict. Frugality. Learning, finding all the tricks of the trade of how to save money, how to couponing, and where's the best place to grocery shop and getting hand-me-downs, clothes-wise and shopping at thrift stores if you need to. That's, to be honest I always think like "Why are we buying brand new clothes? "These kids grow out of them so fast." [Jennifer] Well we've saved a lot of ours. [Aaron] Yeah, we save our, oh, that's frugality. We buy something and then we save it, and all of our kids get the same clothes. [Jennifer] We needed new ones when Olive came along, because she's a girl. [Aaron] Just, there's so many resources out there. There's bloggers and YouTubers and Instagrammers that talk about this. And creating a strategy and praying through it, getting wisdom and advice, and then figuring out the process. [Jennifer] I think a really huge encouragement here would be if you're preparing to go to that one-income household and mom's gonna be staying at home or maybe mom's already home and there's another baby on the way and money just feels tight, in those seasons I would just encourage you to be reminded, both of you be reminded of your why. Why is mom staying at home? Because the ministry-- [Aaron] What's important for ya? [Jennifer] The ministry of raising children and managing a home and having attention there is so valuable. More valuable than having that extra income or having multiple streams of revenue just for the sake of building your guys' financial security, and I just want to encourage those moms who are at home who are just working so hard to be home with their kids and to have that type of lifestyle, even if it means forsaking an extra income. Find a way to make it work and be motivated because of that value. [Aaron] Yeah, and then going back to the living paycheck to paycheck, be praying and actively looking for a better paying job. Maybe it's gonna take some night school to learn a new skill, but work hard and let the family know that it's gonna be a hard season until this date when things will change, because I'm gonna be in school or looking for a new job or working a new job or a second job. And figure those things out. And I do want to say, our current world has made it exceedingly difficult to do family the way it's always been done. I just wanted to commiserate with that and I wanted to let everyone know to be praying through that and asking God to show them, and to reveal how they can make that happen in their home, if that's the desire they have. That's the end of our questions. [Jennifer] That wraps up the questions that you guys asked, and we just want to say thank you for sharing those questions with us. Hopefully we did them some justice and encouraged, send them some encouragement with how we answered them. [Aaron] Yeah. Before we pray for you guys, I just wanted to remind you that at Marriage After God, the whole reason we're doing this is that we want to please God. We want to chase after His will for our lives. We want to be used by Him. We want our marriages to be used to grow His Kingdom. And a Marriage After God doesn't neglect and doesn't aimlessly go through life financially. We do these things with purpose and I know it can seem hard, and it is hard, but that's what we're doing, we're doing hard things. And we're doing it by the power of the Holy Spirit, and so we just want to encourage you to press on, to begin to learn self-control and learn to beat your bodies so that you're not disqualified in this race. And know that we're doing it with you. [Jennifer] Okay, we just want to ask that you join us in prayer. Dear Lord, thank you for everything you give to us. Thank you for our finances and thank you for our jobs so that we can provide for our families, so that we can give back to you and be generous with others. We pray we would be good stewards of all that you give to us especially money. We pray we would be faithful to use our money the way you want us to. Help us to be united in our marriage in the way that we spend, save, and give. Help us to make financial decisions with wisdom and with wise counsel. Please help us to live debt-free, and may our lives be a testimony to others of your faithfulness. May we be people who seek to use our finances to build your Kingdom, in Jesus' name. Amen. Thank you guys so much for joining us this week and we'll see you next time. [Narrator] Did you enjoy today's show? Find many more encouraging stories and resources at and let us help you cultivate an extraordinary marriage.

 7 Ways To Encourage Your Married Friends | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 00:47:05

If you would like to support this podcast please consider picking up one of our marriage books. DESCRIPTION We think every married couple would agree that a little encouragement goes a long way! Marriage can be difficult and the enemy is good at convincing us that we should shrink back in our issues, isolate from one another, and try and get through it on our own strength. But we need to be reminded of who we are in this world, that we are loved, and that our marriage is valuable. We need to be reminded that our marriage has a great purpose for God's Kingdom. Every marriage needs this. That is why we are giving you 7 ways to encourage your married friends in this week's Marriage After God Podcast episode. We share a handful of ways you can be reminding your married friends that their marriage is worth fighting for, that they should be drawing close to God, and that they are being prayed for by you! As Christian husbands and wives, we should be encouraging other Christian husbands and wives, our dear friends, and the very people who are part of the same body, one body, Christ's body! Let's be the kind of friends that are loving, sacrificial, and willing to serve. Let's be light in people's lives. We hope this episode inspires you to reach out to your friends today, let them know they are not alone and that their marriage is valuable. The Lifegiving Table: Nurturing Faith through Feasting, One Meal at a Time - by Sally Clarkson -> READ: [Aaron] Hey, we're Aaron and Jennifer Smith with Marriage After God. [Jennifer] Helping you cultivate an extraordinary marriage. [Aaron] And today we're gonna share seven ways to encourage your married friends. Welcome to the Marriage After God podcast, where we believe that marriage was meant for more than just happily ever after. [Jennifer] I'm Jennifer, also known as Unveiled Wife. [Aaron] And I'm Aaron, also known as Husband Revolution. [Jennifer] We have been married for over a decade. [Aaron] And so far, we have four young children. [Jennifer] We have been doing marriage ministry online for over seven years through blogging and social media. [Aaron] With the desire to inspire couples to keep God at the center of their marriage, encouraging them to walk in faith every day. [Jennifer] We believe that Christian marriage should be an extraordinary one, full of life, [Aaron] love, [Jennifer] and power [Aaron] that can only be found by chasing after God [Jennifer] together. [Aaron] Thank you for joining us on this journey as we chase boldly after God's will for our life together. [Jennifer] This is Marriage After God. [Aaron] Hey, thanks for joining us for the first episode of 2019. [Jennifer] Woo hoo! [Aaron] Yeah. And we just wanna invite you to leave a review. If you've been enjoying this podcast since last year and are just loving the content, if you wanna help get the word out, one of the best ways to do that is to leave a star rating, which is super easy, you just scroll to the bottom of the iTunes app, if you're listening on iTunes, and you hit a star rating, that's enough. And if you want to do more, you can actually leave a text review, and we read through those all. They're really encouraging and yeah. We'd just love to invite you to do that. [Jennifer] We'd also like you to know that one of the ways that this podcast is supported is through people like you shopping through our store. So if you would like to check out just the resources that we've created for you for your marriage to encourage you guys, go to [Aaron] Okay, so let's start off with our icebreaker question. Jennifer, what is one thing you are passionate about? [Jennifer] Well, something I don't know if they know about me is I'm very passionate about art. I love all things art, but specifically painting and restoring furniture. So like, I just got an old desk for Olive and it was multicolored and had designs on it and-- [Aaron] It was unique, yeah. [Jennifer] It was very unique, very bold dark blue and green. But I just, I covered it all with some chalk paint and did this kind of antique finish on it. It turned out really great, went to Hobby Lobby, got some knobs for it, so just doing kind of creative things like that, I love jumping into projects like that. [Aaron] Yeah, and you're good at it, too. [Jennifer] Aw, thanks. [Aaron] You should actually post some pictures from old art projects you've done in the past, like the blue lady-- [Jennifer] Maybe I'll do that. [Aaron] And I'm thinking of the Jesus painting you did a while ago. You're actually really good at it. [Jennifer] Thanks. What about you? [Aaron] Yeah, something I'm passionate about, I'm actually passionate about, and this wasn't planned, but I'm passionate about helping people with their businesses. Maybe people don't know this about me, but I do a little bit of consulting here and there. I don't do it publicly necessarily, but like, lots of our friends I've helped with their businesses, with their websites, with the creative, the marketing, I actually really love it. [Jennifer] Yeah, you're good at that, too. I feel like you have just something unique about you where you could just seriously look at any kind of business project, any goal that someone has and go, oh yeah, this is what you should do to make it awesome. [Aaron] And sometimes it works. [Jennifer] Yeah. [Aaron] Yeah, but that's what I'm passionate about. I like the one on one consulting-- [Jennifer] The going back and forth. [Aaron] The going back and forth, the brainstorming, the ideation. [Jennifer] Ideation, that's what you're good at. That's awesome. [Aaron] So that's what we're passionate about. There's a lot of things we're passionate about, but those are some specific ones that people might not know about us. Okay, so we have, before we get into the main topic, we have a quote from the book, The Lifegiving Table, by Sally Clarkson. [Jennifer] This is a really great book if you guys wanna jump into for, well the subtitle is Nurturing Faith through Feasting, One Meal at a Time, and she talks a lot about just creating your family culture around the table and she gives ideas on how to do that. She even gives recipes in the book, but on page 219 she says this: "Having deep, meaningful relationships "is not just a pleasant addition to our lives, "but an element essential to our identities." [Aaron] That's good. And it's about what we're talking about today. [Jennifer] Yeah, so we're gonna be talking about friendships and specifically your friends who are married and engaging in community with them. [Aaron] And specifically on how your marriage can be an encouragement to those other marriages. Because a part of being a marriage after God is not that it's just about us and what we're doing in the world and God's using us for, but that we are walking with other Christians as the body of Christ, for his purposes, for what he's doing, and one of those things, man, the New Testament, I feel like almost everything that's said in the New Testament is about our relationship with one another. You know, especially the Book of Ephesians, which is the relationship book, it's about our relationship with God, our relationship with each other as husband and wife, with our children. And so God loves relationships. [Jennifer] Yeah, he does. [Aaron] He came because of relationships. He died for relationship. [Jennifer] And Sally actually mentions just before that quote that I just read, she mentions how God created us in His image, and if He's a relational being then we are as well. [Aaron] Yeah, and that's exactly what we are, and I feel like one of the things the enemy does is makes us wanna be alone, wants to get us away from community with other believers, makes us feel like we're the only ones who think the way we think, or every time I get close to people, I get hurt. Which is funny, 'cause that's exactly how relationships work, they're sticky. [Jennifer] They're messy, yeah. [Aaron] They're messy. And you're probably not close enough to someone if you're not feeling hurt sometimes. Doesn't mean that we should be hurting each other, but it's just, it's natural for that to happen. But the enemy doesn't like it. He doesn't like us being connected with one another, closely tied together, 'cause we're stronger together. It's true in every aspect of life. You see it in the animal kingdom, you see it in the human kingdom, and when we're together, when we're unified, when we're one, when we're walking together, we strengthen each other, we're less prone to being attacked, we're less prone to falling, and when we do, we have someone to pick us up. Right? And so we're gonna talk a little bit about how your marriage, you listening right now, can encourage other marriages. [Jennifer] And it's so important 'cause I mean, when I think about some of the kingdom work, the things that God has us purposed to do, I think about evangelism and I think about telling, sharing the gospel with people who don't know Him. [Aaron] Yeah, the lost, yeah. [Jennifer] Right, the lost. But it's also so important to remember that even as Christians, we need to be reminded of these things, we need to be reminded of who God is in our life and how He's working and how He's moving in our life, and I think that's such a great thing about friendship is we can do that for each other. And that's why I'm really excited about this episode, 'cause we're gonna give you some kind of practical things and just encourage you to be those type of people in your relationships with your other married couple friends. [Aaron] Yeah, and if it wasn't for other marriages encouraging us, we would not be here today. [Jennifer] That's true. [Aaron] As in, we'd probably be divorced, but we had couples who loved us enough to dive into our messiness, to peer in, to say hard things to us, to encourage us, to be there late into the night. You know, we've talked about this in past episodes, you talk about it in your book, but just all the tears, all the laughter, all the late nights, all the food. There's all these things that were incorporated into our relationships and people loving on us and walking with us. [Jennifer] And we all need that. Like, even those listening, they're probably going well I need that. I just wanna encourage all of us to be the people that we need in our lives. [Aaron] That's a good one. We need to be the people. Yeah, we need to be the example, we need to. And you know what? Sometimes we don't feel like we can be that person, but we still should be. Because it's the times that you feel like you can't be it that you probably need to be it. [Jennifer] So this is really funny, it reminds me of growing up, my grandma used to say 'cause we'd all eat a bunch of food when we got to her house and then we'd all just wanna like, lay around on the couch and she'd go, 'kay it's time for a walk, 'cause that's the best time to take a walk, is when you feel like you don't-- [Aaron] You wanna go to bed. [Jennifer] Yeah, when you feel like you wanna go to bed or when you feel like you can't. [Aaron] And hasn't science like, proven that now? It's like, it helps with digestion to go for a walk after you eat? [Jennifer] I don't know, I just remember my grandma always saying it. [Aaron] Grandma knew things. Yeah, so-- [Jennifer] So here's our encouragement to you, to go take a walk. No. [Aaron] Yeah, go get some food, take a walk. No but, I feel like this is important to, 'cause we all have friends, but how many of us have friends that we know intimately, that they're more like family to us? And I think it needs to be happening more in the Church. If we realize that being a part of the body of Christ literally means that we are unified with other Christians, not just well yeah, I go to church with so-and-so and oh yeah, they're nice but they don't know anything about you and they're never in your life. And we can't do this with every single Christian, but we can do it with some. [Jennifer] Yeah, and those who are already closest to us. [Aaron] Oh yeah. [Jennifer] Yeah. [Aaron] Yeah, so why don't we just get into the seven ways? [Jennifer] Let's do it. Okay, you wanna start with number one? [Aaron] Yeah. You mentioned a minute ago about the gospel and how in evangelism, preaching the gospel to the lost, but when I read the Bible, when I read the New Testament, it's all about reminding the believer of what the gospel says. It's pretty incredible if you think about it. Doesn't mean we shouldn't preach the gospel to the lost, that's what we preach the gospel for, is for salvation, that Jesus would be preached and that people would turn their hearts to him and that they would join the body of Christ. But those that are in the body of Christ, I believe we need to be preaching the gospel to each other more often, not just assuming like, oh everyone, yeah, we're saved, we got the gospel. The gospel is the power of God. It's the thing that changes us, and many of the hard things that we walk through in life and like, our sins and things that we might have a hard time escaping, is because we haven't, either we've forgotten the gospel or we haven't truly understood it. Because the gospel is the thing that saves us, it's the thing that transforms us, it's the thing that makes us be like Christ. [Jennifer] That's good. [Aaron] Yeah, so I wanna read this scripture, it's Romans 1:16. Paul says this, he says, "For I am not "ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God, "for salvation to everyone who believes, "to the Jew first and also to the Greek." And so in encouraging our friends, I think one of the most powerful things we can do is constantly be reminding them of the gospel, that we were once sinners lost in our sin, deserving the wrath of God because he's a just God, but because God loved us so much, John 3:16, he sent his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in him will not perish under the wrath that we deserve. Jesus took the wrath we deserved, and if we believe in him and we follow him, we actually receive salvation and grace. And our relationship with God is made new and that's the gospel. [Jennifer] Preach it. [Aaron] Yeah. [Jennifer] It's so good. So here's the thing that I know that this episode is for us to get our minds on our friends and how we can be a vessel of God's love and grace toward them, but when we say what you just said, when we have a heart directed towards our friends in reminding them of the gospel, what does that actually do for us? Like what's, there's benefit there. [Aaron] I think it's like, practice first of all. Practice preaching the gospel. You know, sadly I believe many Christians don't even know what the actual gospel is. And so saying it over and over again, it not only reminds us, but it gives us practice on how to preach the gospel. And you're preaching it in a safe environment 'cause you're preaching it to someone who already believes it. [Jennifer] Right. [Aaron] And you're reminding them, so you're loving them and you're saying hey, brother, sister, all these things that you're walking in right now, filter them through the gospel. Remember that we actually, what we deserve is eternal punishment. And but because God loved us so much and he sent his son to die for us, we don't get eternal punishment, we get all of the benefits of being a son of God and a daughter of God, which is what the Bible teach us, that is the gospel. [Jennifer] Yeah, and I just feel like if we're sharing the gospel with our friends, if we're reminding them of who we are in light of God's love story, then we're gonna be reminded of that constantly. It's gonna be on the forefront of our minds. [Aaron] Exactly, it will. And I think about when you have a brother and sister walking in sin. Like let's say you have a married couple, friends of yours, and the husband's not necessarily loving his wife as Christ loves the Church, which is what Ephesians five teaches us. Or you have a wife not walking in reverence or submission to her husband and you say hey, I just wanna encourage you guys, do you remember what the gospel says? Like, if you recognize what we should've gotten but what we do receive, it actually brings us back to a place of healthy reverence and fear for the Lord and it reminds us of his goodness. And then you know what? It often brings us to repentance. Lord, you know what? I'm so sorry. Change me and make me like you want me to be because I love you and you've given me everything that I don't deserve. It reminds us of how we can be and who we should be and who God's made us to be and who He sees us as already, which is awesome. So the gospel I think is the most powerful thing we can continually be doing in our friends' lives, and like you said, it reminds us, too. [Jennifer] Yeah. Okay, so moving on to number two, and when we were going through the notes, I actually asked Aaron, isn't that the same as number one? And so I'm gonna let Aaron explain it, but it's share with them the truth of God's word. [Aaron] Yeah, so it definitely is. The gospel is a part of that, but there's often just practically, think about how many times for you, you've been going through something and I remind you of certain scriptures-- [Jennifer] That's true. [Aaron] That are truth and promises, and instead of you walking in the feeling, you're like, oh I can actually look at that and start thinking on that and dwelling on that. [Jennifer] Okay that's good, and I've had other friends reach out to me through a text message and you know, share a verse with me and just let me know that they're thinking about me and praying for me, and that is really powerful. So sharing God's word-- [Aaron] Yeah, there's nothing more powerful than the word of God. [Jennifer] Yeah, so sharing God's word with them, and practically, it could look like a phone call, a text message, a card, you know, all those things. Word of mouth, when you're sitting in front of them with coffee. [Aaron] Yeah, a little note on this, we've gotta be in the word of God. [Jennifer] In order to share it. [Aaron] To be prepared to share it, 'cause our friends might come to us and just mention something that they're going through or the way they're talking you just think like, oh man, I think they need to hear this. They're not thinking about this correctly. And then finding that scripture and saying, hey can I just read something to you? What's awesome about the word of God is instead of it just being my opinion, I think you should do this. Even if my opinion is founded in the word of God, it's still just me. But I can say hey, I just want you to know that like, lemme read this to you. Now what has to happen is they have to argue with the Bible. [Jennifer] Yeah, the authority of God. [Aaron] Yeah, as long as we're coming in a heart of love and encouragement, and our heart is to help them grow and we're gonna treat them the way we wanna be treated. Man, scripture is powerful. The Bible tells us that the word of God does not come, it goes out and does not return void. Meaning it's going to accomplish what it's going to accomplish. [Jennifer] Yeah. That's really good and I was just thinking, if your friends are married, chances are you, even if you don't know the specifics of what they might be going through in that week, you know that marriage can be difficult, and so you can just find a verse that's gonna encourage that. Like, does that make sense? [Aaron] Yeah, and you could be sending them like, large portions of scripture. Be like, hey can I encourage you today to read this chapter? And just say, look out for this word or look out for this. You know, I feel like God's heart for you is He wants you to know this about Himself. He wants you to know this about yourself. And on top of that, encouraging your friends to be in the word of God. Saying hey, are you guys reading? [Jennifer] Yeah that's huge. Challenge them, yeah. [Aaron] Jennifer we talk about this often, the times that we feel ourselves slipping into this routine of a little bit of bickering, which is totally sinful, we've talked about this in the past. [Jennifer] Just poor attitudes. [Aaron] Poor attitudes or just bad perspectives, discontentment. We realize man, we haven't been very consistent in the word of God. We've gotten out of sync, because the word of God puts our minds on the spirit rather than the flesh, and when we're not in the word of God, our natural tendency is just to walk in the flesh. So just continually reminding them. [Jennifer] A couple weeks ago I had, we were over at some friend's house and I was sitting on the couch with the wife and I asked her, I said so you know, have you been reading lately? Are you getting into a routine of being in God's word? And she shared with me that she had but it was kind of a struggle, and so I got to encourage her. And then she goes, what about you? And I was like, oh man, this is so good that I asked that question because I needed it myself. And I had just-- [Aaron] And you're like no. [Jennifer] No I was honest with her, I go you know, it's been really hard for me to get up in the morning and I wasn't doing that and so it challenged me to then change. And so I just think you know, being willing to even go to those hard places and ask those hard questions knowing they're probably gonna ask you back, it's good, it's all good. [Aaron] And you bring up a really good point. I think this is why a lot of people avoid saying things, because we know internally that-- [Jennifer] It's gonna come back to us. [Aaron] Well, the moment we say it, either we're lying or we're a hypocrite or we're doing it. [Jennifer] But this is also why we need that. Like, we need this. [Aaron] Yeah, walking in light as he is in light, as Jesus prays for us in John 17 and in first John, chapter one, he says if we have fellowship with God, then we have fellowship with one another. And if we walk in the light, then we, we'll have fellowship with one another. So the light that we walk in is doing and saying the things that God wants us to do, even if it means that we're going to also be told the same things. And that's the point of it, is that we're growing together and being built up together. And so man, you're right, saying something means you're gonna be vulnerable and have to be told the same thing or at least hear the same thing because you're saying it out of your own mouth. [Jennifer] Yeah. And just a practical note for this portion of this episode, what are some hard questions that they can ask their friends besides are you in the word? 'Cause I know another one is hey, have you been submissive to your husband? How are you guys doing in that department? [Aaron] That's a hard one to ask, right? [Jennifer] Well I know you and the guys usually ask, what do you guys usually ask? [Aaron] We ask each other does your wife feel cherished? And often the question is, and we wrote this in our book, my pastor always brings it up, could your wife say today that she is the most cherished woman she knows? And so for the husbands listening right now, I have a question for you. Is your wife the most cherished woman she knows? Could she say that? And if you can think to yourself I don't know if she would say that, you need to ask yourself that question. You need to figure out how to walk the way Ephesians 5:25 tells you to walk. [Jennifer] And then when you're catching up with your friends who are also married, who are also husbands and wives, be willing to ask each other hard questions like this, because this is what's gonna encourage us but also change us. [Aaron] And if someone who says they're your friend says it's none of your business, then you should ask yourself if that person really sees you as a friend. [Jennifer] Or be praying for them even more. [Aaron] Because it should be our business. I think of Cain and Abel. Cain kills his brother Abel, this is in the beginning of the Bible, and God comes to Cain and says where's your brother? And he says what, am I my brother's keeper? And the point was is God asked him where his brother was at, which means God was asking him where his brother was at. So do we know where our brothers are at? Or we can just say like, I'm not my brother's keeper. And in reality, that's not loving our brothers at all. [Jennifer] Right, if we love them we'll know where they're at. [Aaron] And we're actually supposed to be keepers of each other's hearts and relationships with God, and we walk with each other and it's safe, and so yes, we are keepers of our brothers and we just have to realize that. And so, that means I'm accountable to other Christians. If they ask me hey, is your wife cherished? I'm responsible as a believer to say truthfully yes or no, not get out of my business. Because if I don't want another Christian in my business, then am I a Christian? Because we're all a part of the same body. [Jennifer] Right, it's all one body. That's really good. So for those listening, if they have been resistant to let people into those intimate parts of their lives, this is a challenge for them to hear, to give maybe not everyone, maybe just a handful of people that permission. [Aaron] Yeah, and for those that are feeling that, like oh maybe we're not letting people in, go read Proverbs 18:1. It's a good scripture to talk about that kind of person who does that. [Jennifer] Yeah. Okay, so let's move on to number three, and it's be friendly. Proverbs 18:24 says, "A man who has friends "must himself be friendly, but there is a friend "who sticks closer than a brother." [Aaron] That's powerful. Like, it seems totally simple, right? But if you wanna have friends, we gotta be friendly. Like, so are we just being friendly, are we reaching out? Are we opening up our hearts? Are we laughing with, or are we just like sticks in the mud, which is how I can be sometimes. [Jennifer] Are we being vulnerable? [Aaron] Yeah, are we being vulnerable? [Jennifer] Are we being truthful? Because sometimes you can be in a room with people and you can kind of just tell, you know, they're not-- [Aaron] Yeah, we're surface level. [Jennifer] They're being surface level or they're not being open with me. [Aaron] Yeah, and friendly is like not, like we just kind of were talking about it before, not being afraid to let people in, not being afraid to be seen and known. [Jennifer] Yeah. I feel like being friendly also comes with thoughtfulness. Like, you have to be thoughtful of each other and maybe even what each other likes. Like, I have a handful of girlfriends who I know what kind of coffee they like and I can randomly drop it off for them when I know they're having a hard day, or you know, just little things like that. I think thoughtfulness is such a big part of friendship. That can be an encouragement. [Aaron] And I think of friendly, there's a word I also think of, of light. Like, are we light around our friends? Do they feel like it's always this work to be in our presence? Or is it light to be in our presence? And that's kind of what I think about friendly. We've had relationships in the past, Jennifer, that they always felt heavy. Not that they were necessarily going through heavy things, it just felt like work to be around those people. And we made it a point to like, not be those people. So there's times that we'll ask hey, how are we being as friends? Are we easy to be around or are we hard to be around? [Jennifer] I also wanna make a note that we never let those relationships go just because they felt heavy. We felt it was our responsibility to be accountable to them still and to love them still and to be-- [Aaron] Took more work. [Jennifer] It did take more work, but I just wanna encourage those listening, if you have relationships, be praying for those couples and maybe talk about this, you know, with them, but don't give up on them. [Aaron] Or even say the hard thing and have them over for dinner, have no kids around and say, can we just share with you something? We love you, but you're hard. That's the truth of it. Hey we love you, but it's hard. Like, there's these things that have happened, and can we work on this together? How can we help you? How can, is there something you haven't recognized? But having those conversations means that you're being friendly. Like hey, we want to be in this relationship with you. We don't wanna just, 'cause the easy thing to do is you just write it off. And some people say let's dust our sandals off. That's the easy thing to do, but that's not what we do to the others in the body of Christ. We don't just dust people off. [Jennifer] Yeah, I would say a marriage after God is loyal and faithful and loves deeply and cares about the hearts of those people. So we don't just walk away from them. [Aaron] Now there are, we're not gonna get into this, but there are biblical reasons to cut off relationships. [Jennifer] Well, if you and your husband have set boundaries and those boundaries are being broken, absolutely I feel like that's necessary. [Aaron] Or if there's unrepentant sin and it's been called out but is not being, and those people aren't being willing to change, then the Bible tells us to avoid those people. But we're talking about normal Christian relationships, friends, not someone who's walking in unrepentant sin. [Jennifer] Okay, so be friendly. Aaron, do you wanna hit number four? [Aaron] Number four is be hospitable. This one could be hard, especially if you want your house to be a certain way all the time. [Jennifer] Like you have expectations. [Aaron] Yeah, or the people that you might, the friends you might invite over have more kids than you do or older kids or younger kids or, there's lots of scenarios that could be-- [Jennifer] Different dynamics. [Aaron] Difficult to say let's open up our home and have people over. But man, the Bible, God, the word of God tells us that we should be hospitable people. First Peter four, eight through nine says, "Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, "since love covers a multitude of sins. "Show hospitality to one another without grumbling." So there's, I mean those are two verses that are super powerful in themselves, like love covers a multitude of sins? Which means if we can love with a Christ kind of love with our Christian brothers and sisters, there's a lot of things that that covers. It's pretty incredible. Now again, if someone's in unrepentant sin, that's different than someone who's come to you and repented of their sin. But our love can cover it, but the showing hospitality to one another. [Jennifer] What does that look like practically? [Aaron] Practically it means, hospitality means to open up what's ours. It is available. What I have is available to you. [Jennifer] And I wanna encourage people on this because sometimes we can look at a situation and think well, we don't have enough, and then therefore you're not gonna be hospitable in that moment, but how many times have a friend texted us and said they're in town, can they stop by for dinner? And I kind of like, I look at everything and it's halfway made and I'm thinking that very same thing, I don't think that there's enough, and then they get there and I spread everything out and it was a perfect amount. It was like exactly what we needed. [Aaron] Well and also just on that side of things, like of not having enough, the reason for having them over isn't because we have enough, it's to-- [Jennifer] It's because we wanna share it with them. [Aaron] It's because we're gonna share what we do have. [Jennifer] What we do have, yeah. That's good. [Aaron] And so we can, this is practically for us in the way we think and for those listening, hospitality is not sharing what you don't have, it's sharing what you do have. And so being willing to share, it's as simple as hey, you absolutely can come over, we would love to have dinner for you guys. We may not have enough to make you super full, so if you have anything you wanna bring, do it. But otherwise, just come and we will share with you what we have. [Jennifer] Now, there's other hospitality, too, where you kind of plan and prepare for it, knowing that you wanna bless this family or that family or that couple. [Aaron] So you save up for it. [Jennifer] And you save up for it or maybe they have a bigger family and you don't have enough utensils, go and get some plastic and just have a nice dinner on paper plates and plastic utensils. [Aaron] And there's something beautiful about having a little bit, too. And there's nothing wrong with having a little bit. You mentioned the bigger family thing. That's actually a good thought, 'cause sometimes we can feel, we can evaluate relationships and say well, me and you, we only have one kid, so we don't need to invite the family over that has four because they should do the opposite, like it's gonna be harder for us to accommodate a family of six because we're not used to that, so therefore, someone else should do it. But in reality, there's something beautiful about inviting that big family over because how often does that big family get invited to places? [Jennifer] That's true. [Aaron] We've actually had a situation in our own fellowship of big families saying we'd love to be invited over, we'd love to be thought of that way. [Jennifer] Yeah. So I have another example, when we were first married and we were in Christian community, we actually expected people to be hospitable to us because it was just us, and we could easily just come over and spend time with families. [Aaron] Yeah, we did have a one-way expectation. [Jennifer] We had a one-way expectation because we didn't have any kids and it was just easier, that we never invited really people over. I mean maybe a handful of times, but not-- [Aaron] Yeah, you're right. [Jennifer] Not very often. And I just thought about that just now, and so I just wanna encourage those listening who maybe they don't have kids, all the more be willing to open up what you do have and share that and build those relationships with people in a different life stage because there's good in all of it. God has created us to be able to encourage one another no matter where we are in our different life stages. [Aaron] Yeah and I think on the other side of that, we also didn't have much, we had not a lot of money, we didn't have a lot to give, we didn't have like, 20 plates and all these things, right? So we had this mentality of like, well since we have less, people that have more should take care of us. But Jesus points out the woman who gave her last mite, and he says she gave more, 'cause she gave out of her poverty, than that rich man who gave out of his wealth. And so there's something spiritually powerful about having the heart of hospitality even when you have little. [Jennifer] Yeah, and not letting expectations trip you up or stop you. [Aaron] No, but just out of a heart of like, God, I don't know how we're gonna bless these people but we'll share what we have. And invite someone, they may say no, but open up your home and open up what you have to other believers. And you never know, you might, we've seen this before. There was a time that me and you, I'm not trying to just toot our own horn, but we blessed a friend of ours who was in a much different financial situation than us, and it blew their mind. Because they're like, why would you give to us? We could've totally taken care of this and we're financially stable, when we were not in that place. And it actually totally ministered to them and showed them a level of generosity that's never been shown before to them. Just because we were obedient, we didn't think like, well they have enough, we don't need to help them. That's not how we were thinking. [Jennifer] No, we felt like God was telling us to do this and we were just trying to be obedient. [Aaron] Yeah, we were like hey let's bless so-and-so with this. And so the hospitality part of this is just a, it could be a powerful ministry tool to grow the Church, to build each other up. So why don't you do number five? [Jennifer] Okay, number five is be sacrificial. [Aaron] Which kinda ties in. [Jennifer] Yeah, I mean, I was telling Aaron, being sacrificial is kind of required with all of these. Whether it's time, energy, resources, whatever it is, but we just wanted to point out that a marriage after God, when it comes to their friendships and their married friends, they're sacrificial. They're available to other couples. They can be inconvenienced by them. [Aaron] Which is a sacrifice of our comfort. [Jennifer] And our time. [Aaron] Like getting a call in the middle of the night to help someone. Being up late with a couple to cry with them, to pray with them, to read to them, to support them. There's many ways, sacrificially, financially. Like oh, this person, so-and-so needs rent or groceries or whatever, or a date night. So yeah, just sacrificing our time for them, our talents, our energy, and just realizing that what God's given us isn't just for us, it's to be used for the body. [Jennifer] Yeah, John 15:13 says, "Greater love has no one than this, "than to lay down one's life for his friends." Are we doing that? [Aaron] Yeah, do we lay ourselves down or do we think like, well I would've done that but that was too inconvenient. [Jennifer] So I want those listening to do something real quick. Just the first couple that pops into your mind, your friends, your close friends-- [Aaron] Ooh, I like this. [Jennifer] Who are married, when was the last time you were sacrificial for them? That you expressed love in a sacrificial way? [Aaron] So just think about it, and then I would take it even a step further and say call them, text them. And as a couple, do something for them. [Jennifer] Find a way to love them. [Aaron] Yeah. Just go out of your way for that couple. [Jennifer] Okay, moving on to number six is pray for them and with them. [Aaron] Ooh. Praying for them's easy. [Jennifer] Sometimes not. [Aaron] I guess you're right, yeah. [Jennifer] Sometimes people struggle with prayer. But Aaron and I, a large portion of our ministry is to encourage you guys with prayer to pray, to be warriors of prayer, and this is important. [Aaron] I think of the scripture that says, it's the greatest commandment. The Pharisees came to Jesus and they said Jesus, what's the greatest commandment? And he tells them, he's like you tell me. And the Pharisee says to love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength and to love your neighbor as yourself. And in that situation, the Pharisee challenged him and said well, who's my neighbor? Well, we know who our closest neighbors are, it's our spouse. And then our other neighbors are brothers and sisters in Christ. And then there's our physical neighbors that live nextdoor to us. So we know who our neighbors are. But loving your neighbor as yourself, how many listening wouldn't love someone to pray for them? We get messages all the time of saying could you pray for me? Can you pray for my marriage? So if you want to be prayed for and prayed over and prayed with and thought of in that way and taken care of in that way, then love your neighbor as yourself. [Jennifer] Yeah, be those people. [Aaron] Pray without ceasing for your brothers and sisters in Christ so that they won't stumble, so that they will be encouraged, so that they will be strong and walk in purity. And be encouraging in the word of God and strengthened to do ministry and be healed and blessed and like, all the things that you would wanna be prayed for, pray for them. [Jennifer] Yeah. And sometimes you can go out of your way to ask them hey, what do you need prayer for? Hey, I'm praying for you right now, what can I pray for you? Text them, ask them. You know? It's powerful. [Aaron] A pet peeve of mine is, and we all have done this, I'm gonna pray for you and then don't pray. So make it a point. I've made it a point any time I tell someone I'm gonna pray for them, if I text it, if I, I stop in that moment and I pray. [Jennifer] Yeah, me too. [Aaron] I've just made it a habit because I didn't wanna be that yeah, I'll pray for you and just, now it's now a phrase that we say. Of like, I'm thinking of you. No, let's be in prayer for each other, because this world is wicked and the enemy wants to destroy us and to steal from us, and we just need to be battling for each other. [Jennifer] I was just thinking like, there's a whole spiritual battle going on and obviously the enemy hates marriage because God created it and God loves it and God uses it-- [Aaron] He hates everything God made. [Jennifer] Yeah, which means that all of our marriages, not one of us is outside of this truth, and that is that our marriages are under attack constantly. [Aaron] Yeah, and our faith and this, and Christ's Church just as a whole. So we need to praying for each other. You know, you pray for us, we'd love that. Pray for our marriage. [Jennifer]Thanks. [Aaron] Pray for our children. Pray for our families. So prayer is one of the ways you can encourage your, oh and then praying for them, like with them. Be in the presence of your friends and say we're gonna pray for you right now. [Jennifer] Yeah, maybe when you have them over that week for dinner, just set some time aside to say hey, we'd love to pray for you. [Aaron] Speaking of prayer, I was just at a friend's house today and he was telling me how his wife's just dealing with headaches, and I said let's go pray for her. And so before I left, me and him went down and we prayed for her. [Jennifer] That's awesome. I didn't know that, that's cool. [Aaron] And why don't we do that more? Like, why don't I do that more? And I'm talking to myself right now. We need to get in a spiritual habit of just praying for each other. I think a lot of things would change in our marriages. [Jennifer] Okay, moving on to the last one, number seven. [Aaron] Serve your friends. Serve 'em. I think if the scenario that Jesus did when he was in the upper room before he went to go die on the cross and he geared up his garb, wrapped it around his waist, got a bucket of water and a towel and he walked around and he scrubbed all of his disciples' feet. And he says do this, what you see me doing, do for one another. So, do we serve each other? Now, speaking allegorically about the feet, are we willing to touch our friends' dirty feet? What I mean is like, are we willing to get dirty with our friends and get into the muck and the mire of life and the painful things and serve them? [Jennifer] I know you said this in the beginning, but had our friends not done that with us, the people who became our friends by serving us, if we didn't have that, we wouldn't be here today. [Aaron] And Jesus wants us to do that. He wants us to be willing to touch our brothers and sisters. Like spiritually, physically, emotionally, that we are part of their lives so close that, and for the purpose of cleaning and washing and purifying. [Jennifer] As you're saying that, cleaning and washing, I'm thinking like, we are all part of one body, okay, and if, let's take my body. My hands don't say I'm not gonna touch your hair, I'm not gonna wash your hair, and so I just go without washing my hair for a year, that would be really nasty. [Aaron] Yeah, if you had off-balance hygiene, you would not be approachable as a woman. [Jennifer] Well so take it in light of the body of Christ and his bride, who he's coming back for who should be spotless and blameless-- [Aaron] Is going to be. [Jennifer] And beautiful, then we should be willing to serve different parts of the body for this reason. [Aaron] And this doesn't mean that we serve the ones that can serve us back and serve the ones that we click well with and serve the ones who are easy to be around. We serve all of them. [Jennifer] So I keep going back to this picture of a body, I know it's funny, but-- [Aaron] That's what the Bible uses! [Jennifer] As you're talking I'm like you're right, so like, my hand can reach back and scratch my back but my back can't really do much for, [Aaron] Your back can't do much for-- [Jennifer] For anything. [Aaron] Yeah, your hands do that. [Jennifer] But it is holding me up, so. [Aaron] There you go. [Jennifer] This is just really interesting. [Aaron] But that's what we do, so are we servants? Are we servants? Christ, he says he didn't claim the royalty and the fame that he could've. Instead, he came as a servant, humble, as a child. [Jennifer] And the Bible tells us to walk as he walked. [Aaron] Yeah, so do we have that heart? Is our heart to lay ourselves down for our friends? [Jennifer] So hopefully those listening are just right along with us going yes, we're gonna serve our friends today. What are some practical ways? What does this look like, what are some ways that they can serve? 'Cause maybe they want to serve but now they're just wondering okay, how do we do that? What should they know? [Aaron] Well, I think of just some simple practical things, helping them. Do they need help with anything? [Jennifer] Well you have to know their needs. [Aaron] You have to know their needs. So shooting a text. Last year I tried getting in the habit of randomly texting friends from our community, just saying hey is there anything you need? Often they say no, but then there's time where they're like actually yeah, like we could use this or we really need a date. We've just been in the thick of having new children and we have not had a date in weeks. [Jennifer] So babysit your friends' kids so they can go have a date. [Aaron] Yeah. Maybe they're just, maybe there's some sickness. Hey, can we come over and just clean your house? Just wanna, we're gonna clean your house. You relax, we're gonna bring you food and I'm gonna scrub your toilets and I'm gonna clean your floorboards, and I'm gonna do your dishes, and just relax and you don't have to worry about it. Those are physical needs, those are just things that all of us would love. Like, if someone just came over and cleaned our house sometimes, I would be so-- [Jennifer] Or yard work. [Aaron] Or just came over and I'm like hey, so-and-so's in the backyard mowing the lawn. [Jennifer] Awesome. [Aaron] That would be so cool. [Jennifer] The other day, we've been trying to consider what we can do for our neighbors and how our neighbors are just right there-- [Aaron] Yeah, our actual neighbors that live nextdoor to us. [Jennifer] Every day, that we see. And we were leaving our house and there was a little bit of snow that piled up on the driveway, and one of our nextdoor neighbors was push brooming the snow out of another neighbor's driveway, she's an elderly woman, and I just thought how cool, he's amazing. Like, way to go. And that inspired Aaron to then go to her nextdoor neighbor and do the same thing for her. [Aaron] Well, you did actually encourage me to do it, which is good 'cause we're a team. And I went over there and it took me 20 minutes to go sweep her, the snow off of her driveway, and it's another elderly lady, and she was actually walking out to go to her mail and it was, her driveway was so slippery. [Jennifer] Oh, really? [Aaron] Yeah, and so I was like hey, can I just take this to the mailbox for you? It was like, right across the street and she was like yeah, absolutely. It was awesome. It was just a little thing. [Jennifer] So when we serve people like this, it brings blessing for those who are on the receiving end, but it also sets an example. It inspires people, it makes others want to do nice things and be thoughtful and serve and be the hands and feet of Christ. So I think that all around, it's so important to be servants. [Aaron] So I just wanna end with one more scripture to close out this topic before we pray for them, and it's the reason why we would want to do any of this stuff for brothers and sisters in Christ. For our married couples that we're friends with, for those that love God and are part of the body. In John 13:35 it says, "By this, all people will know "that you are my disciples "if you have love for one another." And in first John, John says, "Do not love "in words only, but in deed and in truth." So we show our love by the things we do for each other. And that kinda love should be so supernatural that when the world sees how we love each other, they will know that we're disciples of Christ. [Jennifer] That's good. [Aaron] And in John 17, Jesus says, "The world will know "that God sent me by the love you have for each other." So not only will they know we're disciples of Christ, they'll also know that God sent Jesus. [Jennifer] So we have to be doing this. [Aaron] It's the ministry that we have in the world. [Jennifer] It's the ministry. [Aaron] It's what our whole book's about, actually. [Jennifer] Yes, yeah. Which, a great-- [Aaron] Not to plug it, but I'm plugging it. [Jennifer] No, but since you went there I'm just gonna say, it comes out in June, you guys, and a great way to encourage your married friends is go through this book with them. [Aaron] Ooh, that's a cool idea. [Jennifer] I know they can't do it now, we're gonna be going through a series leading up to the book launch, but I just feel like if couples can be going through this book together and asking each other questions about it and saying what ministry are we doing for God's kingdom? Oh my gosh, I just, my mind is blown by just-- [Aaron] The movement that would start. [Jennifer] Yeah! Yeah, it's incredible. [Aaron] We're excited about it. We thank you for joining us today. I pray that these seven ways to encourage your married friends blessed you, and I pray that it charges you or excites you or it gets you moving in the direction of unity in the body. More and more marriages and Christians in general would just be unified in loving each other in this way. [Jennifer] And don't wait. It's not next week or the week after-- [Aaron] Today. [Jennifer] Start today! Just do it. [Aaron] Alright, so before we close out, we've been committed to praying for you at the end of each episode, and so we're gonna pray for you. [Jennifer] Dear Lord, thank you for the friends in our lives. Lord, give us a heart of encouragement for them. Give us words that will affirm them and give strength to their marriage relationship. Show us how we can love our friends better and help them know You more. May we be witnesses in this world by how we love one another and walk with each other in truth and in light. Help us be more vulnerable and open with our friends. Help us to create an environment where our friends feel safe being vulnerable and open with us. May we use what You have given to us to bless them. Inspire our hearts with creative ways we can serve them and confidence that our purpose as friends builds Your kingdom. Please keep the enemy and his evil schemes away from our friends. Do not let his plans of destruction prevail. Protect our friends' marriage and fortify them, O Lord. Give us hearts to see our married friends walk strong and faithful. In Jesus' name, amen. [Aaron] Amen. Alright, so we thank you for joining us this week, and we look forward to having you next week. Did you enjoy today's show? Find many more encouraging stories and resources at, and let us help you cultivate an extraordinary marriage.

 QUICK UPDATE: What Does God want To Use Your Marriage For? | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 00:14:14

Jennifer and I are praying for you and your marriage. We desire to see millions of marriages around the world begin to chase boldly after God and his will for their life. We are excited to see what God is going to do in and through our marriages when we walk with Him and say yes to Him. Here is a quick link to our goal setting episode:

 The Strength That Joy Brings To Our Homes | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 00:39:33

Some stories of joy in our home with practical tips to cultivate a habit of joy in our homes. Support This podcast by purchasing one of our marriage books today: READ: [Aaron] Hey, we're Aaron and Jennifer Smith with Marriage After God. [Jennifer] Helping you cultivate an extraordinary marriage. [Aaron] Today we're gonna talk about the strength that joy brings to our home. Welcome to the Marriage After God Podcast, where we believe that marriage was meant for more than just happily ever after. [Jennifer] I'm Jennifer, also known as Unveiled Wife. [Aaron] I'm Aaron, also known as Husband Revolution. [Jennifer] We have been married for over a decade. [Aaron] So far, we have four young children. [Jennifer] We have been doing marriage ministry online for over seven years through blogging and social media. [Aaron] With a desire to inspire couples to keep God at the center of their marriage, encouraging them to walk in faith every day. [Jennifer] We believe the Christian marriage should be an extraordinary one, full of life. Love. And power. [Aaron] That can only be found by chasing after God. Together. Thank you for joining us on this journey as we chase boldly after God's will for our life together. [Jennifer] This is Marriage After God. Thank you so much for joining us this week on the Marriage After God Podcast. If you've been enjoying this podcast and enjoying the content, would you just scroll to the bottom of the app and leave a star rating review? This just helps other people find the Marriage After God Podcast, and we'd really appreciate that. [Aaron] Also, if you wanna support our podcast, we don't really do ads. We may in the future, but our goal is to not do ads. One of our ways of not using ads to support the podcast is we have written books, and we sell those books. If you're interested in checking out our marriage resources, our prayer books, our devotionals, you can go to, and picking up a book from our store supports us in the production of this podcast. Also, our Marriage After God book, that comes out next year, is available for pre-order, and so if you go to you'll see, in the very top-left corner of the site, a way to pre-order our book. That would just be really awesome. We'd really appreciate that. Let's get into the icebreaker question, which is what is one funny memory from when we were dating? [Jennifer] Hmm. I can't think of a specific one at the moment, but what does come to mind is we spent a lot of time serving in youth ministry. Oh yeah. A lot of time. We were youth leaders. Yeah, and we... [Aaron] At good old Church on the Hill, Norco, California. [Jennifer]We played a lot of games. We laughed a lot. We ate weird things. We'd have contests and challenges, and there were just things that we did for the kids' sake, but we had a lot of fun doing together. That was-- Remember the lock-ins? We would just have overnights. Yup, over-nighters. [Aaron] We would stay up all night, do milk-chugging contests, and... [Jennifer] Gosh, that does not sound fun now. [Aaron] No it doesn't How did we do that? Back then, it was the highlight of our week. I feel like we just came alive in those times. We looked forward to it all year, to do those events. Yeah. Every Wednesday we just came alive during that time, and I fell in love with you, knowing that you had fun participating in that way, being silly... Little junior high kids and high school kids. Yeah, being silly or playing, it wasn't dodge-ball, what was it called? [Aaron] Oh, what... [Jennifer] Murder-ball? [Aaron]Yeah, we called it murder-ball. [Jennifer] We called it murder-ball because it was-- It was just dodge-ball, but we changed the name. on steroids, and we had a lot of balls-- There was no line. You just ran around the room, throwing balls at each other. [Jennifer] You guys would throw them so hard. These poor-- I know [Jennifer] ...13-year-old girls would get nailed [Aaron] But they kept playing it. None of them cried. They were crazy. I forgot about that. Murder-ball I loved that. I loved dating you because you were fun, and you're still fun. Yeah. I got a little not fun over the years, but I've learned to change in that area. I'm still learning, but that's kinda what our episode's about, is not just fun, but joy, but how fun cultivates joy and how we can actually cultivate environments of joy in our home. Let's get to the quote from today, and it's from the book For Better or for Kids by Patrick and Ruth Schwenk. Ruth Schwenk's from The Better Mom, and you said you loved this book. Mm-hmm It's about family and the power that God's given us in our homes. [Jennifer] Yeah, and the quote is on page 37, and it says, "While married life with children "can be challenging, we have reason to hope "and to be encouraged. "There is a way forward, a way through, "and a way beyond all of the craziness. "God's Word has not changed. "The promises of his Word still stand. "Is being married with kids messy? "Yes. "Does God have a purpose and plan in the midst of it all? "Of course he does. "And do we enjoy taking part in this crazy, "life-changing, impossible mission of parenting? "Absolutely." That's great 'cause that sums it up pretty good. Parenting's hard. It is crazy. Marriage and parenting is hard. [Jennifer] It is messy. It's all of the above, and yet, God's Word-- But joy. ...still stands. Yeah. And we can enjoy it. And we can enjoy it, which is something that we're learning day-by-day how to do. Mm-hmm We've talked about kids a lot on our show and just the hard things and the fun things, but today we wanna talk about joy, cultivating joy in our home, having fun in our home, and how that joy brings strength to our home and our walk and our mission in life. [Jennifer] Yeah, I think that sometimes we can be so caught up in making sure that everything that we're trying to order or manage is happening, and we become kind of like the officers in the home of making sure everyone's doing what they're supposed to be doing. Even when it comes to our work, we have this rigid schedule of things that we need to get done, and it's kind of on our timeline, and yet we have kids pulling on our elbows, saying, "Dad, come check out this LEGO thing I built," or Olive wanting to dance with you. Where life becomes more mechanical and clunky rather than organic. It's life. It's something that we're experiencing, not controlling. That's kinda what I'm hearing. That's what I'm feeling, is we could get into this mode that life's just one check list after another, one check box after another, the right next step, which is not-- It comes from a good place. [Aaron] Yeah, it's not terrible to think that way at times and to try and walk correctly, 'cause that's the goal, is we're trying to walk well. We're trying to walk as disciples of Christ, living out what the Bible tells us. Then, where's joy? Where's joy fall in all that? Yeah. We actually, I was really encouraged this last week in the woman's Bible study that I got to go to. The whole topic was about soul-filling joy and the things that we can do as moms to fill our hearts up during the week and, like you said, not just have a list that we're checking off, even though that comes from a good place and we want to make sure that we're managing our homes well, but are we doing things that also fill us up and bring a smile to our face? Because that's gonna overflow into our relationship with our kids. It's gonna overflow into our marriages and give that liveliness that God intends for us to have. [Aaron] What you're saying reminds me of the verse in Isaiah 40:31. It says, "But they who wait for the Lord "shall renew their strength. "They shall mount up with wings like eagles. "They shall run and not be weary. "They shall walk and not faint." [Jennifer] Yeah. I've experienced this in my own life, where I do something that brings a lot of joy to my life, and it does renew my strength. There is something physical that happens to you when you experience the joy of the Lord and you experience his strength fill you up and renew you, and I think that's why it's so important to be talking about joy. Have you experienced this? [Aaron] Yeah, 'cause we can get, if we look at our life as just a series of actions taken, a series of checks to be checked off, steps to take, and it's just this mechanical thing that we're moving forward and yeah, maybe we're doing good things, but if we forget why we're doing it and who we're doing it for, it gets very tiresome because essentially, we're doing it in our own strength. We run on fumes. We're told to fill our jars up to overflowing, and we fill that up with the living water, which is Christ, with the Word of God, with prayer, with getting away, quietness. When the Bible talks of prayer, when Jesus says pray, he says go into your closet. He says get away. When I think about getting away, Jesus often got away. It says that he went up by himself into desolate placesand he, early in the morning and late into the evening, so I just-- But he was intentional with his time. Yeah. It wasn't just, "I'm gonna go and be quiet somewhere," which actually, for some people is probably really filling for them, just being quiet somewhere, sitting at a park, people watching or something. Not me. This isn't just about doing something that's fun necessarily. It's a wholistic view of waiting on God because we know that we need him. We need a rest in him, and that gives us strength, and it gives us joy and the power to go on another day, not just go on but to cheerfully and joyfully go on. [Jennifer] I feel like we all need to be reminded that there's gonna, in life, we will all experience hard times. We will all experience those-- [Aaron] Yeah, James makes that very clear Yeah, those times of wrestling, where God's revealed sin in your life that you're repenting of, and you probably feel down for, but you know you're being transformed in-- [Aaron] Or when he's calling out character issues in us, really hard things. Character issues, maybe financial stresses, or maybe the loss of a loved one, there are so many different types of trials that people walk through, and yet I feel like just because we experience hard times doesn't mean we can also experience joy. I think that's the difference between happiness and joy because happiness is a feeling, and it's an emotion that we have the... Capacity to experience. Right, thank you That's a byproduct of joy, I would imagine. Right, joy's deeper. Joy comes from within, but it's also because God is in our hearts, and he's the one that makes it possible to both enjoy, he's the one that makes it possible to experience joy while in the midst of hardship, at the exact same time. Maybe there isn't any hardship in your life right now, and you, like you said earlier, are just kind of going through the motions and being kind of mechanical-- I actually feel like sometimes when we're going through good seasons, or easy seasons I should say, often, we find ourselves being more discontent. It's easier to forget to walk in joy or something. I've experienced that with us. That's interesting. I realize, I'm like, "Well, there's nothing really hard "going on in our life. "Why are we feeling like this right now?" [Jennifer] In today's episode, we really just wanna inspire you guys to consider joy. Maybe it's something that you haven't thought of, or maybe it's something that you've already been thinking of, and we can just come in as part of that support to say, "Yes, this is the right way. "This is what we should be thinking about. "This is what we should be doing" because a marriage after God has joy. [Aaron] When you walk in the Spirit, what's one of the fruits of the Spirit? Joy. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, and so, when we walk in the Spirit, fruit of that will be joy in our life. I was just thinking about the difference between happiness and joy. I feel like happiness is an earthly experience that comes out of the eternal understanding of joy. Joy is an eternal concept. It comes from hope, hopes of things that are things that are unseen. It's something that goes beyond the current experience because you can have joy even in really hard things because it's based on something eternal, where happiness is based on something temporary. That's good. Something that we experience just right now for this moment. Our goal should never be just seeking happiness. That's called hedonism, just looking for happiness. Our goal should be enjoying the fruit of the Spirit, which one of them is joy. [Jennifer] What I was gonna say was that it benefits our children so much. I was just thinking about how you could just, I feel like kids are so expressive. Their little bodies can reveal so much about what they're feeling, that joy is just one of those things that you can see in kids. It's so evident. Yeah, I wonder how many of our listeners grew up in joyless homes, grew up in homes that were full of strife, anxiety, fear, and how much joy would've benefited the home. They're probably thinking right now, "Man, "I wish my family was joyful. "I wish when I grew up I experienced joy." [Jennifer] If that's you listening right now, I just wanna tell you that you don't have to live according to the past and feel like you're stuck. You can change. [Aaron] Today, we talked about this last episode, you can change today [Jennifer] What a benefit it would be, what a testimony it would be to the power of God in your life. [Aaron] In our home, like I said, over the years, I kind of, there was a season of my life that, and it was probably because of sin I was walking. It was probably 'cause of discontentment issues that we had, character flaws, things that God was growing in us, but I feel like I had a hard time having fun. I had a hard time being joyful. I loved God, and there was times I was joyful, but it wasn't a default state for me. I was pretty Scrooge-y. Is that the word? Not just because Christmas is coming, but just I think people called me Scrooge-y just 'cause I was not very joyful. I don't want that for my family. What are some ways that we over the years have been cultivating joy in our home and that our listeners can take home and try? [Jennifer] We should just tag-team this and kind of go down the list of things, but-- This isn't the definitive list. I actually tried coming up with as many as I could, but I'm sure there's other things that we might think of as we talk about these. [Jennifer] Probably. We do have, we're in a season of young kids, and so a lot of what you probably will hear probably sounds, I don't know... Silly? Silly, 'cause it is. They are silly [Jennifer] They are silly, but I think the important thing to note here is that these are just ways that we have tried to be intentional in cultivating a space in our home, in our lifestyle, that cultivates joy. One of those things is fort building. I actually did that this morning with the kids. [Aaron] The kids love it. We have a couch that's perfect for fort building. The pillows are huge. They're sturdy, so they make really good roofs and walls. I only believe in building big forts. I don't know why people build small forts. It's not worth it to me. I came home the other day-- Go big or go home [Aaron] I came home the other day, and the entire living room was a fort. [Jennifer]You have to use every chair, every blanket-- All the chairs ...every pillow... The couches were on their sides, the pillows-- Maximize the-- [Aaron] ...were stacked up high, and you guys were watching a movie inside We were watching a movie inside, yeah. You're like, "We're in our movie theater. "You wanna come in?" I'm like, "Uh, I don't know if I'll fit," but it was pretty huge, so I probably would've. It was pretty amazing. I think I actually storied it on Instagram 'cause it was-- Probably. [Aaron] I was really impressed with that fort building. Thanks. That's one thing that we do. The kids love it, and it's fun because they're still pretty young. They could build one themselves, but they never make them as good as we make them. [Jennifer] A little tip for fort building, if you get a colorful quilt or one of those knitted blankets that are made-- Have holes in them. [Jennifer] Yeah, they're just really fun for the light to come through, and-- [Aaron] It looks like stained glass windows. It does. I always say, "Look at the stained glass windows." [Jennifer] You need to share the one minute of crazy 'cause this is more new. This is a newer thing. But it works. It's our one minute of crazy, and we've been doing it, we don't do it every night, of course, but when I feel like my kids just got extra jitters in them-- Or extra screams. [Aaron] ...what I'll do is I'll say, "Okay guys, I want everyone to," I'll be a little stern about it, "I want everyone to stand right here in a line." They stand there, they're like, "Okay, what's gonna happen?" Then I'll turn the music on our jam box really loud, and I'll say, "All right, I want you guys "to get as crazy as possible for one minute." Then the whole time, I'm telling them to get louder and louder and louder, and they're screaming, and they get actually tired. When they're done, they're like, "Why'd you have us do that?" I'm was like, "Wasn't that fun?" The first time you had them do it, it took them about 15 seconds to, is Dad joking, or-- Yeah, they didn't know. [Jennifer] They're looking at each other, like, "Should we be screaming?" [Aaron] That's probably because of my history of not being very fun. It was awesome. Yeah, but it did take them a few seconds to actually, they're like, 'Wait a minute, are we gonna get in trouble?" [Jennifer] It's a great thing to do, not right before bed, but leading up to bedtime. [Aaron] I liked it right before bed because I feel like they weren't quite ready for bed, and this pushed them over the edge 'cause they were tired, and they also felt like they got all of it out of them. Sometimes it's hard to calm them down afterwards, but that's okay [Jennifer] I wanna share another one. This comes from my childhood. My mom and stepdad would always do this. They still do it. It's so funny. If someone comes home and walks through the door, or even out from the bathroom or bedroom-- Is this where it came from? Yeah. Oh. [Jennifer] Whoever notices it goes, "Quick, pretend you're asleep" Wherever they're sitting. Wherever you're at, just kinda drop your head, close your eyes, and try as hard as you can not to smile. [Aaron] Wyatt is so bad at it. Wyatt's our two-year-old. He just turned two. But he still tries, and it's so cute. He'll be in his little white chair, and I'll walk in, and everyone's got their heads tilted to the side with their eyes shut-- [Jennifer] Sometimes we'll be at the kitchen table, and we'll be eating breakfast when Aaron comes home, and I'm like, "Quick, pretend you're asleep," and everyone just kind of limps their head to the side. But then, I look over, and Wyatt, he has his head back-- He's just looking at you. He has his head back, and his eyes half shut, and he's smiling 'cause he doesn't get it, but he's trying. I'm like, "Are you guys sleeping?" And Wyatt's smiling at me the whole time. [Jennifer] This is one of those things, I love it 'cause it's from my childhood, so I love that my kids have kind of owned it. Olive is usually the first one now to say it. Oh yeah. "Pretend you're sleeping." [Aaron] "Quick, we're sleeping," and then everyone, she'll put her head down even if no one notices. She gets mad if you don't, no she gets mad if you don't do it. [Aaron] She does it so fast, no one notices, and she is the only one pretending to sleep. It's really funny 'cause then, let's say Dad walks through the door, "Oh no, everyone fell asleep," or we get up really fast and go, "Boo!" It's just fun. Yeah, on the same note of the spontaneous sleeping, the narcolepsy game, we'll often do, I'll get home early after the gym or something, and it'll be super quite in the house, and I think everyone's asleep. I'm tippy-toeing, and I get in the bedroom, and every-- There's just a mountain under the bed. Yeah, and every single person in my family is under the covers in my bed. They're all hiding from me and What's funny, even once the blanket goes over our heads-- I almost jumped on Elliot the other day 'cause I didn't know he was in the bed. Even Truett will be laying there, and the moment the blanket goes over his head, he kinda gets all wide-eyed and smiley-- Like, "What's happening?" Yeah, what's happening. Those are just fun ways to bring instantaneous giggles. And they're short things, they're easy things, and it's something that, they become part of our family, these little things. Our kids look forward to it. They're the ones that instigate all of these things now. Another little tip to help cultivate joy in the home is to not worry about messes so much. That doesn't mean that we don't clean up and have organization and self control, which is something Jennifer and I are trying to get better at, being organized and clean in our house, but if we're always trying to be tidy, it really doesn't leave any room for fun. [Jennifer] We're gonna miss those opportunities where, maybe one of the kids is playing with LEGOs and would love some help, or wants to just get creative with you-- [Aaron] Or throwing pillows around the house for a little bit, or having blankets on, like forts. You can't have it both ways. [Jennifer] We built a fort this morning, like I said, and it's middle of the day right now, it's nap time, and-- And it's still messy out there It's all messed up. It's all messed up. It's one of those things where it's like, "Well, maybe they'll build another one later," and that has to be okay. [Aaron] Something I've realized is that if I'm always telling the kids to clean up, they're actually not gonna like doing some of those fun things. Now, there's a time for everything, so let our kids know that there's a time to clean up. After we've had a full amount of fun or something, they understand that, "Okay, now let's straighten up "'cause we're gonna go on to the next thing," but just kind of not having the anxieties and the overwhelmedness of those little messes, that it's gotta be okay. It's just a good little tip to have a little bit more freedom and lightheartedness in the home. [Jennifer] Good word. Another one is dance parties. We like to turn the music up really loud and just go for it. You guys don't know this about me, but-- Our kids are the best dancers I was gonna say I'm actually probably one of the most terrible dancers, but it doesn't hold me back. I just go for it, and somehow, my kids have picked up on this, and they intend to dance crazy, silly, awkward, and that just makes us laugh even more. If you'd like to see Jennifer dance, leave us a review and tell us that you'd like to see her dance, and I'll post a video of her on our Instagram. Oh my goodness, don't even. Yeah, I'm gonna put some music to it, and you're gonna be dancing 'cause they gotta see. They gotta see the gloriousness that is your dance skills. [Jennifer] Oh, man. I gotta think about that. A lot of these other ones are very physical things, like tickling, spontaneous wrestling matches with Dad. [Aaron] Usually spurred on by my son, who hides, crouching, ready to attack, and the moment I come home, he just jumps out of nowhere onto me with a sword in his hand, but letting those things happen, I think it does huge things for our children, to know that they have the freedom to, of course, not hurt us, which happens sometimes, but just, that they have the freedom to jump on us and to climb on us and to crawl on us. This morning, Olive was, I was talking to you, and she was grabbing my legs and going in and out of my legs, and I didn't notice she was doing it for a while. Like a cat [Aaron] Then I finally was like, "Olive, what are you doing?" 'Cause I felt like I was falling over, and she's like, "I'm just playing with your legs," and she's going in and out and sitting on them and pushing me over, and I for a moment wanted to be bothered by it. Then I thought to myself, "Why do I care "that she's doing that to me right now? "It's really cute." It's something that I still have to consistently work on and recognize in me 'cause I wanna sometimes get bothered by those kinds of things, but letting it happen because I want my kids to know that they can touch me. They can crawl on me. They can hang on me. They can love me. I was actually just really inspired by someone I follow on Instagram. Her name is Joy, and she posted a picture of her two oldest kids. They're in their teens, and her little story caption was just to encourage other moms with little ones to listen to your kids when they come to tell you about what they created with LEGOs or what they're drawing or imaginary world or whatever it is-- Taking joy in their creations, their things. She said because it goes by so fast, and we know we all hear this, but she goes, "You're gonna want to hear from them "and their hard things that they're walking through "when they're older, and if you keep pushing them away "or keep saying, 'No, I don't have time for that' now, "you're gonna miss that opportunity." You wouldn't have built that trust and open lines of communication, even at a very, very young age. Hopefully that encourages someone else. [Aaron] It encourages me, that I need to be listening more and paying attention to my kids more. Again, there's always a balance. Our kids can't absorb every-- Everything. [Aaron] ...everything from us. When we are intentional with it, it'll make the times that we can't okay 'cause they'll know that our hearts are with them. [Jennifer] Right. I'd really love to talk a little bit about just experiencing joy in marriage between a husband and a wife, but before we get there, there's one more thing that, when I was thinking about this list, that really stood out to me, and it's ways that we can kind of team up together to bring joy to our kids 'cause all the things that we've kinda listed we could do without the other. Right. But this next one's pretty interesting. This is your idea, or mine, I can't remember, but we were standing in the kitchen talking, and the kids were in the school room, and I told you, I said, "Aaron, call them out." I had handfuls of marshmallows in my hand, and I-- We both did, yeah. I was one one side-- I gave you the bag, ...of the hallway-- and you took the bag from me, took a handful out, and we hid on either side of the walls, so that when we came through the hallway, we were gonna just launch all these marshmallows at them. I was like, "Elliot, "Olive, Wyatt, come here." Plus, it's also a good lesson in obedience, are they coming the first time they're being called? You're killing two birds with one stone. [Aaron] Then they pitter-patter down the hallway, and we're hiding on the floor so they don't see us, and they walk right past us. Then we just bombard them with marshmallows. It actually scared them, and they looked at us like-- They just stood there. They looked at us like, "How could you do that?" [Jennifer] They just stood there, and Olive had this furrowed brow, and she was ready to just reprimand us, and then-- Then they looked on the ground, they're like, "Are those marshmallows?" "Can we have those?" "Can we have those?" Then they just start squirming. [Aaron] Luckily, marshmallows don't hurt. If you're gonna do that game, throw things that don't hurt at your kids. Otherwise, that would not be very fun. [Jennifer] We have other friends that intentionally do Nerf wars together. Oh yeah. We actually thought about one time buying a bunch of a Nerf stuff, and then-- Getting that family that does that Yeah, not letting them know, and then when we go over for dinner, just attack them We should still do that. We should still do, well, they might listen to this episode now. Now, I have to do it before we launch this episode. [Jennifer] That's just one way that you can team up together to cultivate joy in the home. We wanna hear your guys' ideas too, so please share them. [Aaron] Yeah, and all of these things that you can do, like little things just compounding on top of each other, it shows your family, especially for the husbands out there who might struggle the way I do to be joyful or have this fun-loving spirit or a lighthearted spirit, it shows your children, it shows your wife that you enjoy them, that you like being around them, that they're not just in the way of you, that you enjoy having crazy time with them, having fun time with them. [Jennifer] Yeah, that you wanna hear them laugh, that you wanna participate in their life. We touched on how to cultivate joy in the family, especially with small kids, but Aaron, how would you say we cultivate joy within the marriage and why that's important? [Aaron] Again, walking with the right perspective, first of all, that we have a mission in this world, that God loves us, that we're saved, these big things that God's done for us, easily just allows us to have joy even in the midst of hard things, even when maybe you're not joyful, I can still walk in that stuff, so when we're walking in that together, that knowledge and that truth, there's naturally a joy that exists. On the practical side, I think there's probably a ton of things that we do that cultivate joy, probably things that we could add to our lives. One of them is we have our own set of inside jokes that no one knows about. When you're with-- I'm not gonna describe what they are because they're ours but we have our own little inside jokes, and that's something that we do together, and it's funny for us. It's fun for us. Those build over time, so if you're only one or two years married, just know that those come over time. Maybe you already have some, but those are a really fun way to just, when you're out and about or at church, or-- At any time, really At any time, you can make these jokes, and only they get it. It's pretty fun. Yeah, it's something unique to us. Yeah, something you said about having joy, one of the importance of that is even amidst walking through hard stuff, and I feel like when I look at our marriage, experiencing joy with you was possible even in those first few years, which were our hardest years of marriage, and that was one of the things that carried us through those hard years, was finding ways to cultivate joy in our relationship, exploring new places together, trying to get each other to laugh. [Aaron] Yeah, I realize when we weren't lovers, in those early years, we were friends still, not all the time, but we had a friendship. We had things that we can connect with still and cultivate. God wanted more from us, but in those times, I remember when we were in Malawi, Africa, and it's been hard, and we walked off and we sat on a pier over the lake. Remember that? Mm-hmm, there's a gazebo at the end. [Aaron] Yeah, and we were just sitting there, talking, looking at the fish, talking about being married, talking about if we'd ever come back. [Jennifer] Yeah, we talked about our future. [Aaron] Yeah we talked about our future. Those little things on our list up there, we didn't talk about it, but adventures, that's another way we cultivate joy in our family and in our marriage, is we take adventures, even when we're not with the kids. Me and you like to just go for a drive around neighborhoods we've never been in before, going up the mountain just to drive up the mountain. There's things that we do that give us opportunities to just talk. I think those are situations that cultivate joy in us because it's just us together. It's just us spending time with each other, talking, hearing each other. [Jennifer] Yeah, I think another practical way to do this is, again, physical touch, just like when we were talking about with the kids, but tickling each other, hugging each other. Massages. Massages. Dancing. That's joyful for me. [Jennifer] I'm giving Aaron the eyes 'cause that sounded creepy, but just being physical, being willing to tickle each other and-- And play with each other, yeah. And play, yeah. I like the-- We're a lot more playful with each other these days than we used to be. [Jennifer] Yeah, I like the keep away game, where you snag something, like their phone works really well for this, and then you have to try and get it. Yeah, if you wanna know how addicted someone is to their phone, just snag it out of their hands and see how they respond. Wait, that's joyful? I just think about the lightness. We've had seasons where it just feels like we're walking on eggshells with each other, and that's not fun, where you're tippy-toeing around your spouse, and you're just wondering if the next thing you do is gonna trigger them. That's the opposite of joy. Yeah. [Aaron] That is not joyful. That is tedious and cumbersome. If your spouse can feel light around you and free around you. And feel loved. [Aaron] And cherished around you and loved around you, how much strength there is in that, and power there is in that, and that's what I want because again, we're always talking about being a marriage after God. There's a reason we're together. It's for the ministry God has for us, and if you're constantly feeling like you have to be so aware of every move you make around me because you're just wondering if you're gonna trigger me, there's no way you can minister for Christ in that kind of situation. There's no way we as a family can show the world the love we have for each other, which is what we're called to do, right? Mm-hmm [Aaron] Now, that's not just talking about in marriage. That's talking about in the church as a whole, but joy remedies that. It cultivates an environment that allows for true and powerful and authoritative ministry to happen. [Jennifer] Joy is one of those testimonies of the power of God in your life, and I know I said that earlier, but it's so true, that when the world looks at you, when the world looks at a marriage after God and they see joy, they're probably thinking, "Well, I want "what they have." Yeah, "How do I get "some of that?" [Jennifer] "What is that?" Then you get to tell them, "It's because of Jesus in my life. "It's because God has transformed us. "It's because God gives us hope." [Aaron] Yup. I hope those listening get encouraged by this, that, of course, we're still learning, but if they put their hearts in the right place, they put it in the hands of Christ and allow him to transform them and say, "Lord, I want more joy. "I want more of your joy, "and I want my family to experience joy," it all goes back to walking in the Spirit and saying, "Lord, help me walk in the Spirit today. "I want my kids to feel the overflow of joy in my life. "I want my wife, I want my husband, "to feel that, to experience that joy, "to eat the good fruit coming out of me, "and then in our marriage, I want people, our children, "outsiders to eat the good fruit of our marriage," and at the end of the day, that joy becomes our strength. I just wanna read that scripture in Nehemiah chapter 8. Nehemiah had just finished building the wall, the walls around the city, and Ezra the priest got up on a platform, and he read the entire book of the law out loud, from day till night, to all of the congregation of the people. Nehemiah says this to the people after all of this, it says, "Then he said to them," in chapter 8, verse 10: "'Go your way. "'Eat the fat and drink the sweet wine "'and send portions to anyone who has nothing ready, "'for this day is holy to our Lord. "'And do not be grieved, for the joy "'of the Lord is your strength.'" This people, they were scattered, they were dispersed, the city was destroyed. Nehemiah came, rebuilt the city and was about to, and he had all the people coming back to the city to rebuild their own homes, to rebuild this city with a people that God promised it would be their city, it would be their home, and he just reminds them, he says, "The joy of the Lord is your strength." The strength in our home, the strength in our lives is the Lord. The strength in our marriage. The strength in our marriage, the strength in our ministry, and that strength comes from the joy that God gives us, from the hope we have in Christ, from the power and the authority of the Word of God, and that joy is the thing that just allows us to keep going, keeping walking. Instead of it being mechanical, instead of it being a checklist, it's now a life-giving thing we do. I think that's awesome. Yeah, I love that. My grandma Betty, she is 91 and just right there at the end of her life, and my dad posted a quote, something that she always said, which was, "Make someone laugh every day, "and life will be full." When I think about her life, I think about it being really full. Yeah, every time we're around her, she's big ol' smile, laughing, making jokes. Huge smile. Just for a little description, she's probably only five foot, maybe five-foot-one with heels on, and she wore colorful dresses. She had bright red hair and always wore blue eyeshadow, and when I think of her, I think of fun. I remember being a little girl, maybe four years old, I would go over to her house when my dad brought us over there to visit, and about 10 minutes before we would leave, she would say, "Jenn, come with me." She'd take me to her vanity and put perfume on me and eyeshadow and blush and did the whole thing-- Make you feel so pretty. ...make me feel like a princess, and the whole time just talking to me, and encouraging me, and loving on me, and I can't imagine what I looked like to everyone walking out as a little four-year-old with this makeup on, if she even really put make up on me. Remember, she liked to have fun I know. When I think about that little girl, when I think about myself, if I stood in front of her today, I would think there was no question about the joy that I had in my heart from just that experience with her, those five minutes, or 10 minutes, or however long it was, of sitting in her chair and listening to her voice and being there with me. I just love that, and I want, at the end of my life, to look back and think, "That was a full life." [Aaron] Yeah, and I want people to look back on my life, or our life, and say, "Wow, they were joyful," right? Mm-hmm [Aaron] I don't want them to think, "Man, they were bitter and frustrated all the time "and annoyed." I want them to say, "They were joyful." Joy's a powerful thing. What's funny is all of the fruit of the Spirit is powerful. It's why-- We need it [Aaron] We need the Spirit, is because it produces such good things in us. I just pray that this encourages the listeners today that they would pursue joy, that they would walk in the Spirit, and that they would cultivate an environment in their home that their kids just know what joy is. It doesn't mean we're not gonna have hard times, but it does mean that we can have pure, eternal joy, something that's founded in something in eternity, not in something that is temporary. [Jennifer] I love that. Speaking of prayer, I think that now is a perfect time to go into our prayer for today's episode. We'd love to invite you guys to pray along with us. [Aaron] Dear Lord, thank you for the gift of joy. We pray that we would be intentional to cultivate joy in our marriages and in our families. Holy Spirit, please inspire us with creative ways to create space in our lives to laugh, to play, to enjoy precious moments with those we love most. Remind use every day of the power of joy and how we can be vessels of your joy, so that it is dispersed throughout the world. May our joy be a testimony to others of your goodness and your strength in our lives. May it be the reason people ask us why we are so different from the rest of the world. May our joy draw our spouse, our children, and others close to you as we experience the gift of joy. In Jesus' name, amen. Amen. [Aaron] We just thank you for joining us this week. We pray that you have joy this week. We pray that you would walk in the Spirit, and we look forward to having you next week. Did you enjoy today's show? Find many more encouraging stories and resources at, and let us help you cultivate an extraordinary marriage.


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