March 2014 Newsletter

March 2014-Mountain Haven Newsletter

Celebrating Marriage

What counts in making a happy marriage is not so much how compatible

you are, but how you deal with incompatibility.” 
Leo Tolstoy

We all want to hear a good story. A story that fills us with hope and makes us believe in happy endings and dream about better tomorrows. Kevin and I thought our first marriage in 1989 was that kind of story; a young couple; naïve, hopeful, and excited about all that life had to offer them. But instead, our story brought us tears, pain, separation, anger, betrayal and ultimately divorce, after 1 child and 8 years of marriage. Not exactly the stuff fairy tales are made of is it? This month we have the privilege of celebrating 16 years of remarriage, double the number of our first marriage.The characters are still the same, it’s Kevin and Chris Meland; but this time we invited a third person into this union.We thought He was a very important character to add to our story. In fact He is the main character; He is the person of God. Not just a concept, a theory, a thought or a religious idea of a god that is involved in this story, but the actual character. God.

 So what does that look like you may ask? There are still tears, sometimes still pain and anger, but there are some other things we now know about God that make it impossible for there to be betrayal or divorce- ever again. This month we thought we would share those new insights, with you. In celebration of our 16 years of remarriage we thought it fitting to share 16 attributes of God, or otherwise descriptive words that fit into our new story and are making it a better one then the last. We hope to inspire you to ask yourself what story your marriage is telling. We invite you to make some changes in the plot of your storyline including the character of God, the attributes of God, and God’s love language. Here’s how we do it.

  1. Eternal: The idea that we are living for a bigger reason; something bigger then self-gratification; really helps us. It’s not about me right now, it’s about an eternal perspective, an unforeseen goal, something larger then this particular circumstance that is happening. I can wait, or shut my mouth and not demand “right now from my spouse.” I can be satisfied that today’s bad day does not dictate or doom me to an infinite future of bad days. I can rest in that and not live in anxiety.

  2. Grace: As A.W Tozer puts it in The Knowledge of the Holy, “Grace is the good pleasure of God that inclines him to bestow benefits upon the undeserving.” There are many times we need to bestow “benefits” like silence, a hug, an apology, time away from kids, kindness, and love even when we feel our spouse does not deserve it. It is a choice.Grace was never deserved but is always needed.

  3. Empathy: The ability to share and understand the feelings of another person is impossible without God. He is a high priest who sympathizes and “gets us.” He understands our experiences and we are called to understand our spouse. That takes listening, asking questions, and for us to stop trying to fix things. Be present.

  4. Faith: It means complete trust or confidence in someone or something. Kevin and I do not put our complete trust in one another. We see, and have experienced the broken-ness of each other. We do, however have total faith in God’s ability to complete the work He has begun in each of us. His word does not return void, it achieves the goal it is intended to do. That can be trusted and it is at work in our spouse.We have faith in that work.

  5. Holiness: J.I Packer defines the word holy as, “the word in the bible used to express all that is distinctive and transcendent in the revealed nature and character of the creator, all that brings home to us the infinite distance and difference that there is between Him and ourselves. Everything about God that sets Him apart from Man”( The Most Important 18 Words You Will Ever Know, pg 165). By living in an awareness of God as God- and man as man, we put less pressure on one another to fill that void in us that can only be understood and filled by the Holiness and “God-ness” of God. Kevin is a man, he is not a God to me; able to fill me.Likewise, I cannot fill him.

  6. Adaptable: Being able to adjust to new conditions is absolutely necessary in our marriage. We have experienced sickness and health, wealth and lack, loss and gain, easy living conditions and extreme harsh living conditions. There can be no status quo in marriage. The ability to adjust and to be “content in every circumstance” as the Apostle Paul says, is a must.

  7. Persevering: To continue in a course of action even in the face of difficulty with little or no prospect of success is to be Christ-like. It is pressing toward a mark to be like Christ even when there may not be rewards along the way.There are seasons when the rewards are obvious and plenty, and there are seasons when the prospect of any gain is questionable. Leaning on one another is essential but leaning and pushing together,into the goal through Christ’s strength is life-changing.

  8. Death: Dying to self hurts. Sacrificing your plans, your words, your wants, and even your dreams can be a necessary part of the marriage relationship. Sometimes more than others. Not as a victim but as a co-collaborator with God. Following His lead when He calls you to die to self. If your pursuit is to make your self known you may need to die to that desire and sacrifice for the sake of the marriage. Friends, this is incredibly difficult without God’s help.

  9. Forgiveness: To absolve, cancel or stop feeling resentful towards your spouse for an offense, or multiple offenses; big or small; is a gift. After our reconciliation 16 years ago, we decided that forgiveness was the essential missing ingredient in our marriage. In the past, we said the words, “I forgive you” but we still punished each other verbally or psychologically for the hurt. There was no true cancellation of the debt because when the hurt was real, we expected the other person to pay for it – plus interest. It didn’t work. If we choose to forgive now, we can’t continue to use it against one another in the future.

  10. Transparency: There are a couple definitions of this word.The first is about allowing light to pass through so things behind can be easily seen, and the second is easy to perceive or detect. The light of God’s truth must be allowed to shine in our darkest places whether it is a bad mood, ongoing sin, depression, ongoing anger, or a judgmental attitude. We can often be the light to each other by speaking truth, being patient, or listening without expectation to our spouse. Then the real heart’s motive behind the pain can easily show through. The other way to live transparently is to be real; with each other and with others. Are you faking it? Are you more concerned about appearances and being nice rather than being honest. It is not about dumping it all out for the world to see but it is about becoming more authentic about your struggles.Then light shines through.

  11. Love: What can we say? It seemed like a no brainer but this time around it is not so much the “feeling” of love as it is the “choice” to love. Love covers a multitude of sins. The word cover in this verse essentially means to “hide”. It is important for us to hide, or keep out of the view of everyone else, the faults and struggles of our spouse.It is also important for us to choose to cover those idiosyncrasies, struggles, and personality challenges with love. It’s not a romantic feeling that we live by all the time, we actively seek to love and to provide a safe covering for our spouse and their struggles.A lot of times we get the byproduct of a really amazing feeling of love. That can be truly fun.

  12. Intimacy: There are so many components to intimacy. The Apple online dictionary describes one definition as “Closeness of observation or knowledge of a subject.” I like the way it implies that we watch one another. We know by familiarity what our spouse may or may not need. Some people like to break intimacy into the following saying; “in-to-me-you-see”. That makes sense. Seeing another for who they really are is a delicate prospect, because in the marriage relationship when you see into someone it is critical they still feel safe with you. Intimacy and knowing should create safety, not distance between you. And the key is that it is not a one-time deal. You don’t just know sign language, you must use it and make it a part of your life, becoming familiar with it’s nuances and usage rules; it’s the same way in marriage, you must observe your spouse and practice seeing into their deepest places. Intimacy is also used to describe a sexual relationship. This is the greatest gift in a marriage. It can bring healing when there is hurt, closeness where there is distance, fun when there is work, and comfort in pain. Think deeply about how committed to sexual intimacy you are. If there are things in the way like pornography, anger and bitterness, time constraints or lack of desire, talk about it and “see” what you might need to do. When all else fails, holding your spouse and whispering a prayer for them is a beautifully intimate act.

  13. Revelation: The English word ‘reveal’ comes from the Latin revelo which means “unveil” or “uncover”. There are so many layers to be revealed in marriage. We must be open to the next part of the story. God works in us moving us from glory to glory. In each different phase we see elements of our brokenness, or pieces of our wholeness. There is a constant uncovering of our flesh and a revealing of Christ in us, our hope of glory. Living in a place of constant revelation is exciting. What’s next God?

  14. Reconciliation: Reconciliation is truly the sum and substance of the gospel. It is all about a change or an exchange occurring. If we believe in reconciling ourselves to Christ then we must change in response to His love. If we deeply love our spouse and want to see healing, forgiveness and change we must commit to a change and to make peace. Even though we know that Christ offered us reconciliation we must possess reconciliation by receiving it (See J.I Packers book The Most Important 18 Words You Will Ever Know.) Just as in marriage, we must receive the apology from our spouse, and then chew on it. Then we must determine our level of hurt and be honest about the change needed in the relationship, and then choose to change. We must also receive the gift of peacemaking through understanding that the division that once lay between us and our spouse has no more power over us. We are reconciled to one another and to Christ.

  15. Passion: What a powerful word, it evokes thoughts of intensity, not being able to control oneself, enthusiasm and desire. We hope that our story is a story of passion. Our passion for Christ and what He set us free from and is continuing to set us free from; and second our passion for one another. Anyone that knows us, especially our son Brandon, will tell you we argue passionately. We debate life, the bible, trends, movies, books, our kids and even our walk with God. It stems from a desire to live wholly, to not settle for the mediocrity and apathy we possessed in our first marriage. We like to live life and engage in it. Passion can be messy but it is also beautiful and enriching. When the passion draws you together it is a powerful and attractive force. And let’s face it it helps in the sexual area as well!

  16. Hope: The guiding word for the vision of Mountain Haven is the word HOPE. 11 years ago when we received the vision to start a Ministry dedicated to Marriages and Families, we asked ourselves “what can we offer?” The answer we both received was Hope. Not an empty, wistful longing and desire, but an active anticipation and eager expectation for God’s best to happen. We can expect it, we can anticipate it. God’s hope is not empty, it is an active hope that expects the longing and the desire to be fulfilled. It is a HOPE that trusts in God’s plan for marriage and then actively pursues it. It is a hope that achieves God’s desires; and His desires are good and beneficial. Now when I hope for the best ; I talk to God about it and I ask Him how I can participate in activating, and fulfilling that Hope in my marriage.It is definitely a HOPE FILLED MARRIAGE.

 Here’s how to continue to IMPART HOPE to marriages and families all over the world

Your gifts allow us to reach people through our group efforts. We are currently offering three support groups through Mountain Haven. One is for sexual abuse survivors, one is for people seeking to be free from co-dependency in their relationships, and one is for marriages. Without your monthly support and one-time donations we would not be able to serve the number of people we do through the group process at a nominal cost. Thank you for giving to this donation-based ministry. God has been good.

Pray about how to continue to support this effort. Give at www.mountainhavenmarriageministry.com or mail a tax-deductible donation to 1160 Diamond Back Trail Canon City, CO 81212. Stay in touch with praise or prayer requests as well. Thank you and we love you.

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