Hello and thanks for stopping by my blog. If you’re looking for specific resources, be sure to check out the topics in the column to the right. Otherwise, feel free to look around! ~ Kerry

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Miracle in a 40-Year Marriage

“We are a couple again—not just two separate people living in the same house,” Mary professed. She was part of the Secrets group I recently had the privilege of visiting. The small--but incredibly diverse--group of women was led by my friend Guyla and her daughter Melissa. I heard Mary’s story after the small group meeting, and I was amazed at what God had done in her 40-year marriage.

Today I’m excited to share Mary’s story with you. In a recent article written by Guyla, Mary explained the details:

"My husband and I have been married for 40 years. But for over twelve years of that time, he was gone from home except on weekends and holidays. This left me with raising two children and the bulk of everyday decision-making for our family.

"Gary retired about four years ago, and adjusting to his return has been difficult for us. I decided to attend the Secrets small group just to see if there might be something I could learn to bring our relationship closer. I was definitely having issues concerning who was the ‘head of the household’ after running things myself for so many years.

"When I started reading the book, I thought to myself, ‘These principles will not work with us.’ But after I prayed about the class, God began making me feel very strongly that I should put these practices to work. I am so glad that I trusted in the Lord and His proven message. Almost immediately there was a change in our relationship and marriage. We are closer now than ever before, and I feel that we are a couple again—not just two separate people living in the same house. I am planning to attend the second Secrets group, because I know that there will be more blessings to come from this study."

Wow. This makes me think, even if Mary is the only woman impacted by Secrets, it was completely worth writing!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

26 Years of Marriage--and Loving It!

Last week, Mike and I celebrated 26 years of marriage. Wow! It is hard to believe that I’ve been Kerry Clarensau five years longer than I was Kerry Ramsey. Yes, that makes me almost “mature”--at least in age. I was 21 years old when we got married, so now I’m 47! (I was happy to read this week that I’m still a “middle adult.” Mature adults are 50-65, and senior adults are 65+. Whew . . . I still might have two more adult stages to go. I feel younger just knowing that.)

When I consider all the life stages that Mike and I have transitioned through together, I am flooded with many different emotions. The overriding emotion is difficult to describe. I guess I can explain it this way—Mike and I have shared so much life together that I can’t imagine walking away from this relationship or doing anything to damage what we have built together. The love we enjoy is grounded in so many shared experiences.

Mike knew me and loved me as a young, talkative, full-of-life, fearless, immature woman. I must admit that the outside was much more attractive at age 21—thinner, less wrinkles, no stretch marks, . . . the list of physical changes gets a little longer each year. But the inside, well that’s a different story . . . I was quite self-focused, impatient, . . . let’s not spend any more time with that list. :)

Life and its many experiences has a way of changing who we are. Someone said change is inevitable, but the impact of change is up to us. We will either grow better or bitter. And it seems that every day presents a series of choices that shape who we are becoming. Mike and I have faced countless experiences together—challenging us and stretching us. Some experiences we embraced, and they helped us to grow. Others we resisted, and it caused us to stagnate for a time. But overall, I believe we have grown and changed throughout the years.

Yesterday a friend told me that her husband has been married to five different women—all of them her. (LOL) Mike may feel like he’s been married to many “different women” in the past 26 years. But he has been so gracious to embrace each one. And I’m sure if God allows us 26 more years, the individuals we will be in 2036 will be shaped by our responses to life’s upcoming situations. So far, I’ve loved the ride and the many transformations that have taken place. I wouldn’t trade it for anything! And to be completely honest, I absolutely LOVE the man that Mike is today! Don’t get me wrong, I loved the 22-year-old Mike, but the 48-year-old Mike is amazing!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Respect—A Reflection of Our Character

Have you ever thought about the respect and dignity Christ showed to individuals? Think about the woman who was caught in adultery, tax collectors who were known for swindling, children who were clamoring for His attention, Pilate who questioned Him, religious leaders who despised Him, close friends who abandoned Him, and even the soldiers who killed Him . . .

Christ was able to interact respectfully with these individuals because of who He was. He never allowed the negative behavior of someone else to change who He was. He didn’t act disrespectfully because someone was unworthy of respect—even when He was mistreated and despised. Quite honestly, the dignity He gave to them was a direct reflection of His impeccable character.

The same is true for us. The respect or disrespect we give to others is an outward expression of our inner character. This is seen most clearly in the relationships closest to us—especially the relationship with our spouse.

It is quite embarrassing to admit, but there have been times when I have been disrespectful to my husband Mike. I even found myself thinking, When my husband starts acting in a way that I think is more respect-worthy, I’ll show him respect. But I was actually saying, He is not living up to my expectations and I will make sure he knows it. . . . This attitude never improved anything; it only made our relationship more strained.

I came to understand that my disrespectful attitudes had less to do with Mike and more to do with my own character flaws. My lack of respect revealed that I was self-centered, impatient, critical, discontent, judgmental, unkind, and demanding. All of these “attractive” qualities revealed my immaturity and lack of Christlike character.

When we find ourselves being disrespectful or unkind to our husband, we should ask ourselves what is at the center of our behavior. Are we focused on ourselves? Or are we allowing the Holy Spirit to fill us, change us, and flow through our lives? Galatians 5 tells us that when we allow the Holy Spirit to lead us, Christ’s character will be seen in our behavior. Our lives will be marked with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

You see, when we are self-focused (thinking of only our needs) or self-reliant (relying on our own strengths and abilities) we will struggle to be respectful and kind. But when we submissively allow God to fill and lead our lives, Christ will be seen in us. We will be able to respect others and offer dignity to every one—not because they’ve earned it, but because of who we are in Christ!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Secrets for Military Wives

When I wrote Secrets, I wanted it to be adaptable for many settings—individual study, one-on-one mentoring, general small groups, or specific groups. One of the specific groups I hoped to minister to is military wives. They have many unique challenges, and I felt it would be good to have some specific questions to help them apply Secrets to their distinct situation.

I asked a long-time family friend, Barbara Howard, to read the material and help us develop these questions. Barb is currently an English Professor at Central Bible College. But she is more than qualified to write these questions because she was married for 28 years to the late Chaplain (Col.) David Howard, U.S. Army. Together they lived a military life and faced all the unique situations it brings to marriage.

Today I'd like to share with you the handout we created. If you are a military wife or would like to start a Secrets small group specifically for them, I hope you will find these questions beneficial to your discussion. I pray that many military families are strengthened as wives apply God’s truth specifically to their important position—loving their military man!

Click here to download discussion questions for military wives (PDF).