Saturday, August 30, 2014

I Do: Easy to Say. Harder to Live.


Today, Joe and I celebrate six years of...

...yard work and date nights... 

...trials and growth...

...tears and laughter... and babies... 

...doubt and comfort...

...losses and blessings...

...pain and love... 

...arguments and reconciliation...

...pride and humility... and downs...

...good times and bad times..

Six years of keeping a promise between one another and to God.


So in honor of not only our anniversary today, 
but my parents' as well,
today's blog is on one of the greatest commitments a person can make: 


Marriage, by no definition is easy, nor should it be. But we, in our fleshly nature, tend to trivialize things that seem hard for us to either obtain or that we want to give up on, and marriage is no exception to that tendency. Instead of looking at it as a serious holy covenant that "...should be honored by all" (Hebrews 13:4), we encompass it with simple catchphrases such as "the next step," or "it was meant to be," making it seem like an easy thing to do.

However, for those of us who have actually made that commitment, we know it is anything but "easy." There can be days where anger and bitterness plague your relationship so much so that all you want to do is get revenge. There can be times when the pain is so strong that you don't remember why you fell in love in the first place. There are days that just plain suck...

... But it is on "those days" that you must fight... not with one another, but together. You must fight through all of the pride, hurt, and grudges in order to recognize where the true problem lies. John 10:10 reminds us that "the thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy." If he destroys your marriage, he succeeds in not only killing your joy and your spirit, but in making a mockery of God's sacred covenant. You are essentially a means to an end for the enemy and he will come in quick and hard and will pursue destruction at any cost. 

So put down the walls and weapons of judgment, self-righteousness and entitlement between you and your spouse and "submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you." (James 4:7). Stop focusing on the flaws of the other person and start striving to be the man/woman of God he is calling you to be (Proverbs 31:10-31; Ephesians 5:22-33) and stand firm in faith, truth and love. God is a god of order, perfection and purpose. He did not create marriage to be impossible or to inevitably fail. He created it out of love for us "... it is not good for man to be alone" (Genesis 2:18) and has given us the tools to succeed, but we must first submit to His Word and truth:

"Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast;
it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way;
it is not irritable or resentful;
it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with truth.
Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things."
-1 Corinthians 13:4-7

"Do not judge, or you too will be judged"- Matthew 7:1

"Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you" - 1 Peter 5:7

"My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promise preserves my life"- Psalm 119:50

"My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you." -John 15:12

"He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the LORD"
- Proverbs 18:22

"Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.
Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them"
-Colossians 3:18-19


Want more? Check out last year's anniversary blog if you haven't already! "Top 10 Marriage Tips"

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Questions to Ask Your Kindergartner About School

It's here... That time when we have to admit that our "babies" really are big kids now, heading into the world of endless homework and friends and our "say" about their day is limited to what they get in their lunchbox and how they get to and from school. We just have to sit back, hope, trust, and pray that at the end of the day, we hear nothing but how much they love school... !

But if your children are anything like mine, it'll be like pulling teeth to get any information from them. My preschooler's response to, "What did you learn today" is usually, "I don't remember." I have found that if I wait until about an hour after school to ask questions and only ask one every few minutes, they are more prone to tell me more details and be able to give me real answers.

Below is the list of questions I put together to help me focus on what to talk about with my girls this year while they are in Pre-K and Kindergarten. Some are simple and fun, others... well... they may feel awkward asking and can be pretty serious and possibly open up to hard conversations. But those are the questions that are some of the most important ones. I wish we lived in a society where we could totally trust that our kids are safe and keep them unexposed to some horrible things in life, but unfortunately we can't always control what happens. But what we can control is creating an environment in the home where our children feel safe to be transparent and honest about not only the good things, but the bad.

The key is to ask these questions from a place of love. To speak truth, not fear. If he/she doesn't answer right away, don't overreact. Just use your discernment and go from there. If he/she is off in "la-la land," don't push the question. Move on to another one or ask them at dinner for the whole family to hear. If you feel they are truly hiding something, try and rephrase the question or wait to ask it again until later in the day when they are more vulnerable to open up.

Again, this list is just to help give you some ideas on what to talk about with your kiddos. If you have older kids, change the verbiage, add or subtract some questions. Make the questions fit your family..

Bottom line is just to ask. We need to be a generation of parents that care about our kids and what goes on during the day when we're not there. We need to be "present" even when we're not present.

Hope you and your kids have a great school year and enjoy growing closer together while they grow as individuals!!!

Friday, August 15, 2014

The Time is Now.

I woke up this morning thinking about how good that freshly brewed coffee smelled and that I could use fifteen more minutes of sleep. After I managed to roll out of bed, I began thinking about my day and what I could do fun with the kiddos. Our conversation at breakfast consisted of what we were going to have for lunch and how I may get them a cake pop at Starbucks when we run errands. Just an ordinary day in the Rettedal home...

... that is... until I watched this video...

(If video does't play, click here)

... and then started reading these articles...

My world was severely rocked. I just broke down crying, mainly because my heart breaks for those involved, but also because I feel so ashamed that I am so consumed on a daily basis with my own little world.

When you read about my morning, did you see any mention of me praying for those in need or the kids and I going to give a casserole to a lonely widow? Me neither. It's usually all about us. Our needs. Our desires. Now, I understand that my primary focus aside from God is my family, but it shouldn't stop there. Time and time again the Word of God instructs us to love others and help those in need.

"For there will never cease to be poor in the land.
Therefore I command you, 
'You shall open wide your hand to your brother,
to the needy and to the poor,
in your land.'"
-Deut. 15:11

"Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves,
for the rights of all who are destitute.
Speak up and judge fairly;
defend the rights of the poor and needy"
-Proverbs 31:8-9

"Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have,
for such sacrifices are please to God."
-Hebrews 13:16

So that is exactly what I'm going to do. I don't have many resources or the capability to fly oversees to hold the hands of a mom whose child was beheaded, but I do have an Almighty loving God whose hand is mightier than an entire army. A God who hears our cries and petitions and is a refuge to those in times of affliction.

"The Lord also will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble.
And those who know Your name will put their trust in You;
for You, Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you."
-Psalm 9:9-10

"For he will deliver the needy who cry out,
the afflicted who have no one to help.
He will take pity on the weak and the needy and save the needy from death.
He will rescue them from oppression and violence,
for precious is their blood in his sight"
-Psalm 72:12-14

Well that time is now. There are people being targeted and tormented, being beheaded and buried alive. It is such a harsh and horrific thought, but it is the truth. These people aren't worried about what's for lunch, they're worried about if they will ever be free from persecution.

I am committing today, and everyday, to lift them up, not just with a two second blanket prayer of "Lord, please help those who need help," but with true pleading and petitioning for those who are defenseless and living in fear, just as Nehemiah did for Jerusalem.. 

"... O LORD God of heaven, the great and awesome God who keeps
covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep 
his commandments, let your ear be attentive and your eyes open,
to hear the prayer of your servant that I now pray before you
day and night for the people of Israel your servants..."
-Nehemiah 1:5-6

These people need God. They need the power of prayer. 

Thanks to the loving hearts of a couple individuals, tomorrow, Saturday the 16th, at 8am MST, hundreds of people from all over will be coming together to pray for those afflicted. Join us in praying for those aiding and serving the refugees. For the military personnel risking their lives to ensure the safety of others. For President Obama and his advisors, that they may have wisdom and discernment on how to proceed. 

It doesn't matter who you are or where you are. God hears you.

"And this is the confidence that we have toward him,
that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us"
-1 John 5:14


Don't pray when you feel like it.
Have an appointment with the Lord and keep it.
A man is powerful on his knees.
-Corrie Ten Boom