Thursday, July 28, 2011

Praying for Your Future Husband: A Review

This month’s marriage series has been a delight. Married life is one of God’s greatest blessings – far greater than I would have ever imagined. And, it is my prayer that girls yet to enter into this covenant will experience His best as well. We are raising a generation of girls hungry to do marriage right and experience lifelong commitment.

Thanks to fellow Books & Such authors Robin Jones Gunn & Tricia Goyer there is a new book to help them accomplish just that.

"Praying for Your Future Husband" is an intricate weaving of Gunn and Goyer’s personal stories to provide hope to girls in all walks of life. I love that it focuses on Scripturally based Godly prayer for oneself and future spouse. This helps young women rise above presenting an earthly wish list of fleeting characteristics to a Santa-like God. By participating in specific prayers for each chapter focus and answering reflective questions, the reader will draw closer to God, strengthening their personal faith and helping refine the look of a Godly husband.

Reading this book will help females to capture the heart of God, transforming their life and future.

Beyond that, personal character will further develop as they seek lives of contentment and soak in the joy of the gifts God gives in the excitement of everyday life. Radiating fulfillment in Christ will make the reader more attractive to the type of Christian guy she dreams of marrying.

Ground in the Word, this book has a wonderful 52 week prayer guide with exact prayers and a Scripture verse to pray over each week. These prayers will marinate in the depths of one’s heart and create an introspective growing experience for every young woman.

As the mother of three girls, I’m thankful for this resource. Because I’m already praying over their future spouses, I can use this resource to pray in a Godly way. And, in a world often driven by looks rather than the heart, I definitely want it on the shelf for them to read when they are ready for dating relationships.

Don’t pass it by!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Wedding Rings & Kids

“Mom, why do you and daddy wear those rings?”

Taking my hand in hers, she carefully studied my diamond ring.

I smiled.

“These rings are gifts that mommy and daddy gave to each other during our wedding. Putting them on meant that we promise to be together forever.”

She smiled.

When we say “I do” we not only get the gift of life with our spouse, but we have the opportunity to become “creators” with God and welcome new life to this earth.

And so this marriage series continues. First came love, then came marriage, and then came a baby in a baby carriage. Or in our case, a sweet little bundle of pink three times over.

At five, three, and two months, our girls’ brains are like a sponge, soaking in everything that they see and hear and then placing those pieces into the grand puzzle of life. Their understanding of the world and future expectations are being set by what they are seeing modeled today.

For this reason I say to all parents, don’t forget to date! Between the diaper changes, dance recitals, school appointments, ball games, and whatever brings you together for your children, SHOW them your love for one another by taking time alone. Let them hear you say “I love you” and offer a quick kiss. Let them observe you heading out the door hand in hand. Let them learn through example how a husband and wife should interact. This will provide them confidence in the stability of your home and teach them the look of a healthy marriage.

Our children may become what we are. If our prayer is that they meet a Godly spouse and have a fulfilling marriage, we must demonstrate it first.

And, taking this time alone helps emotionally fill us up. We can have all the right intentions and perfect approach to handling the specifics of parenting, but if we haven’t invested in 1) personal time with the Author of our marriage and 2) quality time with our spouse, we will have no energy to draw from, wearing our patience thin and leaving us with nothing to give.

Wedding rings. They are small objects with huge meaning. Positioned on our finger, they symbolize to the world that we travel through life no longer as an “I,” but as a “we.” Let us never forget that.

It’ll make our kids smile.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Blessing the Building Blitz

We interrupt this month’s marriage series to deliver the following public service announcement.

The Amazing (Building) Blitz is happening in Sioux Falls right now.

Did you know that? If not, I understand. I get most of my news awareness via twitter because listening live often provides an education my small children are not yet ready for.

But this is incredible. And, thanks to Life 96.5 radio, I heard about it.

Here is the low down. Each year the “Blitz Home Builders,” a nationwide group of construction volunteers, picks one city to complete an incredible project. And this year they selected Sioux Falls. Through the local Habitat for Humanity, they are building three homes in just nine days. An extreme home makeover meets Habitat for Humanity of sorts.

The families receiving homes get a “hand up, not a hand out,” as the HFH coordinator explained to our family. They will make mortgage payments. However, the homes will have better rates than the apartments these large families are currently living in.

I couldn’t help but get excited when I heard this. Of all the cities, ours was selected. Responsible homeowners have been chosen. Over 100 individuals are donating their time to construct the homes.

This is an opportunity to rally together and show the Blitz Builders and greater world the heart of Sioux Falls.

I immediately got on the Life 96.5 website to see what kind of opportunities existed. An “on call builder” was completely out of the realm of possibility. I screamed when making my simple plastic number one key chain in middle school home economics so loudly that my teacher came running in, took control of the electric saw/knife thing (aren’t you impressed with my tool knowledge?), and finished it for me. Carpentry is NOT my thing. Providing meals is a better option for an organized group. Hanging out on site to register volunteers, pick up, bring water, offer first aid, etc. would be a neat experience, but not practical for a stay at home mom of three children five and under. With the intense heat we’ve been experiencing it would not be safe to have them outdoors. Providing treats. Wait? Cooking (or purchasing goods)? Now that I can do.

I called the volunteer coordinator and asked if they could still use goodies. And let me just tell you, he was thrilled beyond belief. There are over 130 volunteers pounding away in this heat. They can use a little energy goodness.

So, my two older girls and I set to it. My five year old picked two types of bars that we could make. We landed on Special K bars and Oat & Fruit bars. All afternoon my three and five year old took turns putting ingredients in the bowl, stirring, spreading, etc.

And we had so much fun!

During that time, we had an even more incredible discussion. Thanks to this project, doors were once again opened to talk about God’s desire for us to help people in need as well as a kid friendly application of 1 Corinthians 12:4-6, “There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.”

We may not be good at building things, but there are people that are. We may not have a large group to serve dinners, but there are people that do. We may not be able to tolerate the heat, but there are some who can. In fact, some love it. But, just as God calls some to use their skills as the site, He wants people to volunteer to help those volunteering with food and nourishment. Then, together as one group in spirit, we accomplish Godly work.

A fun opportunity to teach Scripture and serve at the same time.

Last night our entire family brought our homemade goodies to the site. I was blown away by the work completed in just two days. The “bones” of the houses were already complete. And, the volunteer coordinator invited us to take a look inside so the girls could see why we made the food and see builders hard at work to know who it was for.

We had so much fun making extraordinary use of an ordinary afternoon. I’m so thankful.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

My Favorite Marriage Ritual

Packages covered the floor. A beautiful food spread filled the table accented by a bright flower centerpiece. And, ladies in dresses stepped through the door. The scene screamed party.

It was my friend’s bridal shower.

Having already been married for a few years, I wanted to make sure that the celebration was a perfect mix of fun and meaning. To accomplish that, we included an original game.

Since the bride-to-be was a scrap booker, I got funky edged scissors and pretty wedding paper and cut it into smaller pieces, varying in size and shape. Then, everyone at the party took a piece of the paper and wrote one piece of marriage advice. Afterwards, the bride to be read each tip aloud and people guessed who wrote it. Obviously, the person with the most matches correct won.

I knew immediately what I would write-

Before going to bed each night, share with one another the high and low of your day.Why?

Life is full of activity. Between getting to work, going to school, caring for kids, volunteering, attending various meetings, chatting on the phone, getting together with friends, paying bills, making meals, doing laundry, and the list goes on, life gets busy.

Even though you are a couple, you get pulled in individual directions over the course of the day.

And those experiences touch us, mold us, transform us, inspire us, scare us, encourage us, exhaust us, and move us in deep ways. So, unless we make a purposeful effort to share the high and low of our day – because those often will be the things that impact us most – we will move into the next day drifting apart rather than closer together. Over time this could lead to an emotional chasm that causes married couples to see their spouse as a stranger instead of their partner.

I cannot tell you what a blessing it has been to intentionally carve out this nightly time for one another. It us unearthed incredible heartfelt conversation and ensured constant understanding of each other so that we continue through life as one solid unit.

Given the crowd at the party the tips varied from absolute hilarity to gentle encouragement, but it made for one pretty cool bridal party game because when all the advice was placed among pictures on a scrapbook page, the bride-to-be had a permanent memento of the fun she had and inspirational words for her life to come.

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Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Beginning of Our Story (Teen Dating)

It was the first day of "ad room." Barely making my way through Mr. Swanson's big red doors on time, I swung myself into a desk for day one of my junior year at Lincoln High School.

With the sound of the bell, Mr. Swanson started in on the announcements and his quircky "short fat guy" routine. As he did so, I turned around to discover the "new boy." Appearing rather shy (which is not the case), I offered a quick hello and returned to organizing my stuff.

Then I thought about the maze of a school he was now a part of.

"Do you know where your classes are?" I inquired.

"I think so..."

And that was the ice breaker that led to a friendship and ultimately marriage to the love of my life.

So how did my relationship with Charlie progress and why did it last? Let me offer teens reading this post some insight.

1) We didn't rush the relationship
Obviously Charlie and I saw each other every day, but his b-e-a-utiful hazel eyes were not enough to fall head over heals or go on any dates. Rather, we started chatting about surface stuff at school. Then he fell into my same social circle and church group. This led to more honest sharing and we started to get to know each other's heart. At the end of our junior year, after many months of daily conversation, he finally asked me out and, since I knew exactly who he was as a person, I was confident saying "yes."

2) He loved God and valued his family
One problem with how many date in today's culture is they look at appearance, or worse yet, who's available, and blindly jump into a relationship. But, that sets people up for failure and pain. During the year that Charlie and I were solely friends, we got to know each other's character.

From the outside we looked like the tale of two opposites. I am very Type A. He is ah er "relaxed." I was a study freak that accepted nothing less than As. He cared but didn't stress over it as much. He was in theater. I was all about cheerleading.

Our personalities were different. But our core was the same.

He loved God and valued his family; two qualities that were imperative for me to date someone. Why? My parents taught me that relationships matter so you should not invest your time with someone that didn't have similar values and spouse potential. During that year that we were just friends, I observed him. It was obvious that he was committed to his family and church was a place that he wanted to be. Because that was true of him, I knew that he would one day treat his wife with respect and fully invest in his family. I also knew faith in God would guide his life. He fulfilled the most important "dating qualifications."

3) We didn't close ourselves off from the world
When Charlie asked me out, I told him right away that I was friends with other guys and if that bothered him I'd have to respectfully decline. I'd seen jealousy in my friends' teenage relationships turn into control issues and could imagine that causing trust issues in a marriage one day. Beyond that, focussing on hanging out with our friends and group dates made for a "less pressure," more fun environment. Peers that only spent time with one another, which my co-author Pam Stenzel calls the "two tics no dog" effect," had all kinds of problems. Relationships failed, innocense was often lost, and old friendships were a distant memory. NOT worth it.

4) We remained pure
Charlie and I both grew up in homes where we were taught to abstain. We realized that honoring God by respecting the temples He made our body to be was critical to our health and our future marriage (whoever that was to. Obviously at 16 we did not know we would marry each other). So, it was a non-issue. This made our relationship much easier.

When you set the boundaries right away you don't have to wonder what will and will not happen. And, by not engaging in the physical, you are able to grow in the emotional and spiritual qualities that will eventually make for a successful marriage.

To serve as a constant reminder, we both wrote letters to our future spouse (about how we would honor our body & lifetime mate with our choices) and kept them in visible places. We gave them to one another on our wedding day. Mine is shared in Nobody Told Me.

5) Marriage meant forever
When we got engaged the summer before our senior year of college, we knew that marriage wouldn't mean "sweep me off my feet" love all the time. We knew there would be moments where we wouldn't feel happy love. Charlie still laughs when he remembers a first fight we had as newlyweds in our too small apartment that led to me locking myself in the bathroom and telling him that we needed a house so that I had more rooms to go to. :) BUT, we entered the marriage knowing that even when we didn't feel love we would have commitment to one another for life.

I'm thankful that Charlie kept me around even after my writing "I like pink" all over his high school math notebook. In him I found an incredible man. So incredible that he remembered the exact time that he asked me to be his girlfriend and proposed four and a half years later when the clock struck the same moment. Thoughtful, eh?!

Boys and girls, the foundation is laid long before you say, "I do." Neither one of us is perfect and we have and will make mistakes, but we were intentional in our relationship choices and I'm certain that it helped build the solid marriage we have today. Be wise.

For more helpful hints in dating boundaries and relationships, please read NOBODY TOLD ME. It's written in a fun facebook like style and has the flops and successes of your peers through story form and comment mixed in with Pam and I's counsel.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Favorite Summer Side: Mandarin Orange Salad

As a purity writer for MODSquad, I was really excited to do something fun today. We are sharing favorite summer recipes so be sure to join in the fun!

My summer fav is

Mandarin Orange Salad
You will need:
1 small pkg orange jello
1 (3.4oz) pkg instant vanilla pudding
1 (3.4oz) pkg instant tapioca pudding
1.5 c. boiling water
1/2 c. frozen orange juice
2 cans mandarin oranges
1 (8oz) carton whipped topping

To make it:
1) Mix jello, vanilla pudding, and tapioca powder into boiling water. Put in a bowl and stir.
2) Add 1/2 c. frozen orange juice and stir
3) Put in refrigerator for an hour
4) Add 1 can drained mandarin oranges and beat
5) Fold in cool whip
6) Drain remaining mandarin oranges. cut them into smaller pieces, add over top of salad and refrigerate.

If you like mandarin oranges, you will LOVE this. It is light, fluffy, and full of goodness, making for the perfect side to your favorite summer meal.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

"I Do" Ten Years Later

Ten years ago today I walked the aisle to marry God’s perfect match for me.

And, as I stood in the presence of my Lord and those gathered to support us, I promised this to Charlie-

Before Almighty God
I Melissa,
Covenant with you today,
To be your godly loving wife,
As an act of my will and desire of my heart.
I choose to respect and trust, help and care for you for
As long as we are given life together.
I’ll be your glory you’ll be my covering.
I will love with all the love in my heart.
For you I’ll listen with patience and kindness
So that I may inspire, honor and bless you.
I will share with you in all that is to come
Fidelity, honesty, and loyalty will ever guide my thoughts and actions.
I will read the Holy Scriptures and pray for you
Believing that together we can serve God and others to the fullest.
Above all else, I’ll strive to a woman after God’s heart
Knowing that only with God as my guide can I be the wife you deserve.

On our wedding day, these words they felt easy. Our relationship was grounded in love and rooted in Christ. We knew that we wanted to spend life together and that was enough.

But when we stand before the altar is really love’s simplest of days. The real work begins after the “I do’s” are spoken and two lives are melded into one.

Although we had dated wisely, parents whose marriages were healthy examples, and premarital counsel through the church, we could never prepare for what life would hold.

I had no idea that Charlie wouldn’t understand the concept of decorative towels. He couldn’t imagine thinking such towels were important. :)

We could not anticipate handling the pain of miscarriage or the struggle to conceive the first time.

As our finances became one, we couldn’t predict the twists and turns the economy would have on our salary already tied down by a mortgage and living expenses.

We couldn’t have envisioned me laying the medical school goal down to follow God’s call over our life for me to stay home.

We’d never have dreamed celebrating my signing with a literary agency and two book deals or Charlie’s new management position.

We didn’t know God would fill our home with precious baby girls that would thrust us into a parenting role, requiring new configuring of our time and joint decisions about how to best handle raising the future generation.

And the list goes on and on.

We serve an all-knowing God who knows our future long before we do. When we joined our lives in marriage we are promising to venture together through the unknown – the good, the bad, the ugly, and the beautiful – as a unit for life.

Ten years post saying, “I do” these vows take on new meaning. After coming to understand the work marriage takes, I know they are a privilege, a joy, and a challenge to live out in the busyness of everyday life. Our relationship is peppered with new understanding, seasoned with new experiences, salted with a more intense love, and enriched because we have each other.

And, as the Holy Spirit has moved us and changed us in this tag team dance of life, I could not be more thankful to be Mrs. Charlie Nesdahl.

Because the truth is that married life is better than I could have ever dreamed to be true.

Thank you for the best decade of my life, honey. Perhaps we ought to slow dance to this one more time.

In honor of this “landmark” anniversary I plan to run a few more posts this month letting you into our lives from preparing to marriage to my favorite ritual. I hope you enjoy!

Shared at Revive Your Marriage
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