God knew what He was doing…


weddingphotoHugh&CindiThis week my husband and I will celebrate 26 years of marriage. More than two decades ago, we told each other “I do” in front of family and friends. And after all these years, Hugh is still putting up with me. 🙂

I could be all gushy and say “I can’t imagine my life without him,” but honestly speaking, sometimes I have imagined that. And those are the times I am reminded that marriage isn’t — and never has been — about me. It’s about the One who called me to live, work, and serve alongside this man to accomplish God’s will for His glory.

I remember praying years ago, “God, don’t even bring another man into my life unless he is one who will help me draw closer to You.” And I believe that was the prayer God was waiting for. And boy, did God know what He was doing when He brought Hugh into my life. Had God given me a man who would be my all in all, would I need to cling to my Lord so tightly? Had He given me a man who could fill me up in every way, would I realize that only Jesus satisfies? If He gave me a man that was all about my “happily ever after” would I even have a ministry to women today?

Oh, how my flesh through the years has wanted to make my marriage about ME. (What about what I’ve needed, emotionally? What about what I long for, personally?) And there are days that God, in His grace and love, gives me so much more than I asked for. But there are also  days when He reminds me that my life is His, and my desires are to be in line with His desires, and my goals are to be an extension of His goals. Christ bought that right to me when He went to the cross. And I quit fighting and finally acknowledged His right to me when He relentlessly pursued my heart and showed me there was no other way to joy.

God is good and faithful and loving. And what He has determined for our lives is good if we will be faithful and trust Him with our entire story. When I find my joy in Him, there is joy in everything else, too — my marriage, my family, my work, my personal life. I’m thankful for God’s plans, not mine.

So, in some ways I can’t imagine what my life would be like without Hugh, without the intimacy I know with God partly because of Hugh, and without a lesson I learned early on in life that God, alone,  is the Only One who  meets all of my emotional needs.

For our anniversary this year, we’d love to hear from YOU. Would you give Couplesbook3us YOUR best marriage advice in the comment section below? Hugh and I will choose TWO winners by next Monday, August 18, to receive a free copy of our book,  When Couples Walk Together. It’s one small way that we can celebrate our anniversary by giving to someone else. Thanks for encouraging us.

Cindi
About me

Cindi McMenamin is an award-winning author and national speaker who helps women find strength for the soul. She has nearly 30 years experience ministering to women and inspiring them to let God meet their emotional needs, grow stronger through their alone times, and pursue their dreams with boldness.

35 Comments

Beth Hulcy
Reply August 12, 2014

The best advice scriptures are Proverbs 3:5-6 and 2 Corinthians 6:14. I leaned on my own understanding many years ago because I got tired of waiting on God. I turned my back on all I knew and cherished growing up, resulting in a unequally yoked marriage that ended and left me believing marriage was a sham. As my mother always said, "You are hard headed." I guess God agreed with her because the only thing I can say is God hit me over the head with a book, "When a Woman Inspires Her Husband", that He knew was the way to reach me and return me to Him. God used this to show me/remind me how much He loves me, and what a true marriage should look like. No matter what life brings your way, the only TRUE WAY is God's way. While I made a mistake the first time, God has led me to a man I knew 29 years ago in high school. I missed God's clue then, and so did he, but we realize that despite our mistakes God loves us and His will always prevails. Our new relationship of 14 months has grown stronger each day, and is based with God. This man loves my children unconditionally, and he provides them with the love and guidance they need. He leads me the same way and we go to church every Sunday. It is amazing how God's grace will always bring true joy and happiness out of darkness, as long as you turn to Him with all your needs. "No man can be your God", but a good man can continue to lead you to Him. A true Godly marriage is in our future, and I now know how to be a Godly wife by taking ALL to Him instead of my future husband. God knows all, and He is waiting to help you through everything. It is God's path, no matter how bumpy it may be, will always be the one that grows in strength and love.

    StrengthSoul
    Reply August 12, 2014

    Beth, thank you so much for your real-life story and testimonial of how God brings blessings and joy when we trust Him and put Him first. And I'm so glad my book, "When a Woman Inspires Her Husband," was what God used to hit you upside the head. :) (He did the same thing to me as I was writing it!) Have a beautiful week.

Sally
Reply August 12, 2014

Happy Anniversary, Cindi! My hubby and I have been married a little over 15 years, and after the Lord, we seek to make each other our top priority. Whether it's planning date nights, cultivating and enjoying common interests, or setting aside time to communicate, we work at making time for each other. We also pray regularly for each other. We both keep prayer journals, and in them we write Scripture prayers for each other, prayers about our relationship, prayers for areas in which we need to grow, and prayers for every other area of our lives. It's been amazing to see the Lord's work in our marriage and our lives transformed as we've committed each other to Him in prayer!

May the Lord bless you and Hugh with many more happy years of marriage!

    StrengthSoul
    Reply August 12, 2014

    Thanks, Sally. That's one thing we've been consistent with...a weekly "date" every Friday, even if it's just for a morning and afternoon. That steady connection is so important. I love your "Scriptural prayer journal" idea. Thank you for your encouragement and God's blessings on you and your husband, another ministry couple. :)

Charilyn
Reply August 12, 2014

I'm a year behind you; we will celebrate our 25th anniversary in December. This was a second marriage for both of us, with each of us having children from our previous marriage. When we said "for better or worse" no one could have prepared us for how difficult it would ultimately be to blend our families. There are days when I feel it was the best decision of my life and days when I felt it was the worst decision of my life. But either way, it was a decision we made "until death do us part." I think that's been the key for us: the acknowledgement that love is a decision. It's not a feeling or even one-time decision. It's a 24/7/365 decision that even when things are tough, we're going to stick this out together and make it work.

    StrengthSoul
    Reply August 13, 2014

    Charilyn, Thank you so much for sharing your story. I applaud you for sticking it out amidst the challenges of blended families. And I love your statement: Love is a decision. It's not a feeling. So glad God's love for us is a decision and not a feeling, too. I truly believe my husband loves me as God does, which teaches me new things about God's love every day. Thanks again for sharing your encouragement with us.

Jo Ann Mitchell
Reply August 13, 2014

Since I am a widow, this book would not be for me, but I would love for my son and his wife to have a copy. They have been through many trials during their marriage and at times seem to have given up and just let the chips fall where they may. I am a firm believer that God can put any marriage back together. The best advice I have or could give my son or anyone having problems in their marriage in my opinion is this: "Never forget that God is in control, He has a long arm of Mercy and has no problem reaching way down to the bottom and picking you up. Always trust God to do the best for you.

    StrengthSoul
    Reply August 13, 2014

    Thank you, Jo Ann. And thanks for your heart for your son and his marriage. God truly IS in control.

Tracey
Reply August 13, 2014

Happy Anniversary! My hubby and I will be celebrating 28 years this coming December. We have decided to celebrate with our friends and family by renewing our vows in the Church. (Our wedding was done in a clubhouse in a mobile home park). The best marriage advice I could give anyone is communicate with each other. When we married we said that divorce was never an option for us. (We have seen to many divorces throughout our life) I have learned through the years even if he isn't communicating I need to start communicating and it starts a conversation. We have gone through a lot in our marriage with the death of our first son at birth, and death of friends and love ones and after I started attending church after so many years being away it took 11 years before my hubby started attending and accepting the Lord. I can say that I have learned communication is not the only thing but being patient and waiting for God's timing in our life because he is the one in control and HE is the one who brings the joy in our life.

    StrengthSoul
    Reply August 13, 2014

    Thank you so much, Tracey, for those encouraging words. Neat to hear how God brought your husband into a saving faith in Christ, as well. Yes, He is the One who brings the joy into our life. :)

Brittany Reed
Reply August 13, 2014

Thank you for a great article and story. Congratulations to you and your husband! I pray for many more long and great years of love, life, and ministry for you both. God is a good God Amen!! My simple advice based off my own testimony is "Never make divorce an option." My husband and I will celebrate 7 years in December, we have three children ages 6,4, and almost 2. We almost divorced twice most recently had a hearing this past May. But now we are here and finally learning to love each other. My second piece of advice is to never, NEVER leave JESUS out of your marriage. I'm finally learning what It's like to have a relationship with Jesus. It's beautiful and so intimate, and The Holy Spirit is transforming me. I'm a butterfly now no more cocoons.

    StrengthSoul
    Reply August 13, 2014

    Brittany, that's great advice. Thank you for sharing it. I love that you are a butterfly now, evidence of God's transformation in your life. Keep telling your story for God's glory.

Jean Nicholls
Reply August 13, 2014

Happy Anniversary to US...my hubby and I have been married 26 years to this day also. I couldn't have written it better myself thanks for sharing from a women's heart. Thanks to Jesus for saving us, being with us, and coming soon for us :)

    StrengthSoul
    Reply August 13, 2014

    Happy anniversary, Jean! How neat to hear that you and your husband married on the same day and year that we did. Thank you for the kind words you posted.

Kelly Belden
Reply August 13, 2014

Happy Anniversary to you and your husband! My husband and I have been married 18 years. We were high school/college sweethearts back in 1972, and were to be married in 1976. But being the weak humans we are, we drifted apart and married other people. God brought us back together in 1995 and we married in 1996. We are blessed to have 5 children and 5 grandchildren. We thank the Lord each and every day for our time together and for the journey He has taken us on. If we hadn't made the mistakes we had, we wouldn't appreciate each other as much as we do now. God is our "super-glue" and if we had listened to Him in the beginning, we would be celebrating our 38th anniversary this year! God is great!

    StrengthSoul
    Reply August 13, 2014

    Hi Kelly. Congratulations on 18 years with your husband. In our book, When Couples Walk Together we say "grace is the glue that holds the two of you together." But, like you said, God truly is the "super glue"! Thanks for your comments.

Arianne De La Torre
Reply August 13, 2014

Happy anniversary! May God bless you both! I'm a SAHM of 3, 8 weeks postpartum and sleep deprived. it's so easy to be cranky pants and blame my husband for all that he is doing wrong or all he is not doing to help! My advice is to be aware of your heart, stop and pray all those negative thoughts and feelings away. Use those bitter, jealous thoughts as an indicator of needing more of Jesus! Keep your Bible or favorite book near by to change the course of your attitude. Love u!

    StrengthSoul
    Reply August 13, 2014

    I love it, Arianne. I, too, can become "cranky pants" if I'm not letting Jesus keep my attitude in check. "Be aware of your heart, stop and pray all those negative thoughts and feelings away" is great advice. I, too, need those indicators of needing more of Jesus! Thank you for your words and I love you, too! :)

Carolyn Graybeal
Reply August 13, 2014

My thoughts are many about marriage but there are 2 that are very important for us, forgiveness (and saying I am sorry) and communication. Happy Anniversary. I love reading your email!

    StrengthSoul
    Reply August 13, 2014

    Thank you, Carolyn, for the reminder of those two important essentials in marriage. And thank you for reading and enjoying my e-newsletter. Blessings. :)

Sylvai Carline
Reply August 13, 2014

Hi Cindi! It has been so fun to see you and Pastor Hugh
( he will always be my Pastor!) on the second Saturday of the past 2 month's! Congratulations on your wedding anniversary! Truly GOD had designed marriage as lovingly as He created the church!! With every detail life brings! Now that I look back at my marriage to Coty of 33 years (together 34) I see God in every nook and cranny and every second the clock ticked! How HE weaved every stitch! All though our marriage started out unevenly yoked! Coty evened it out 2 years before he passed away! I will be forever grateful I will see him again! That this is just a temporary separation! No! I didn't marry my Prince Charming! I married a man of character! A loving father and a constant in my life that I didn't realize I had until I no longer have it!! Now! ladies out there I do not recommend marring a man who is not a believer and you are!! But I do know the saving grace of GOD! That in spite of yourselves GOD blesses and answers prayer! There is a beautiful song that my sister and I sing called "In HIS Time" It speaks of how GOD makes ALL THINGS BEAUTIFUL! in HIS Time! Even 3 decades later! Be patient women of faith! Know our heavenly FATHER is in control and be STILL! That one I am still learning! Thank You Cindi for your ministry, and your love for women! You and Pastor Hugh are always in my heart and PRAYERS! Sylvia

    StrengthSoul
    Reply August 13, 2014

    Thank you Sylvia, for those sweet words, reminding us wives to cherish our husbands while they are still alive. I appreciate your words of wisdom.

Susan Fox
Reply August 13, 2014

Confess your thought life; we must ask for forgiveness when our mind wanders and we allow negativity to come in to our thoughts re: our mate. It may not be easy, but confess those thoughts, ask for his forgiveness. You don't need to share all the details, but enough to let him know you are sincerely repentent and want him to know he is safe with you.

Save the "last dance" for your spouse. Don't exhaust all your energies each day, and give your spouse your leftovers. He is your first ministry; he deserves your best.

Pray together daily; its important that your spouse hears your heart. Tremendous power comes from this effort.

Strive for 'wins' for the marriage, not just for 'him', or for 'her'.

    StrengthSoul
    Reply August 14, 2014

    Thank you, Susan, for that wisdom when it comes to being transparent in marriage.

Sue Murdock
Reply August 14, 2014

Happy anniversary to you two! Me and my husband are nearing our 12th anniversary and boy it's been one crazy ride so far with huge valleys and beautiful hilltops. I like what you said that it's not about ME, it's about the purpose God has for us both together as a couple in serving Him and that is coming to pass over these last couple of years which is so rewarding to see!
My advice is, be quick to forgive and don't hold grudges. Focus on the good and give lots of hugs :)

    StrengthSoul
    Reply August 14, 2014

    Sue, that's great advice.Thank you for your comments. Praying many more beautiful hilltops for you. :-)

Pam
Reply August 14, 2014

I have been married for 20 years and to be flat honest the first 7 were the pits. I had always thought marriage was going to be a piece of cake. Waiting until I was 38 to get married, I thought I knew exactly what I wanted out of a man and a marriage. Hello wake up call.....I had always gone to church and my husband had been saved BUT lets just say he was not exercising his personal relationship with GOD during that time. I knew there was an amazing man in there and I prayed and prayed and prayed that GOD would do amazing things in him. We found a church and have attended it for 15 years, my husband and I are now Chaplains. During our 20 years, we have gone through some pretty trying times, Miscarries, Adoption, Loss of home & business and we have managed to have worked together for a good 15 years. We have rebuilt together but it has been challenging and over the years we have learned that we really are Ying & Yang. But the major bond between us, is our willingness to give and take, to rely on each others strengths, to diffidently not have an attitudes at the same time. We worship, cry, rejoice and love life together......as simple as it sounds in words, making it happen in life is worth it every trial and challenge. We call them "OUR NEXT ADVENTURE".
I hope your "Next Adventure" is amazing

    StrengthSoul
    Reply August 14, 2014

    Thank you so much for sharing your story, Pam. Yes, Hugh always calls our life together "an adventure." And he told me once, the word "advent" means "His coming" so the true meaning of the word "adventure" -- and the only one worth having -- is the one in which God shows up! I love that.

Judy B
Reply August 15, 2014

First of all, Happy Anniversary!

I believe that you can not have a great marriage without the three cords being involved. God, Hubby, and Me. I'd be a liar if I haven't wanted to blow a gasket more than once in our 10 1/2 years of marriage. A gentle reminder to myself is, God brought this loving, caring, annoying man, into my life because He knew that I needed a Godly man with all his faults to bring meaning and joy to my life. (By the way, I have faults too!) BUT, without God, we simply can not have the life we were meant to live. Every marriage needs a good dose of plain old respect in their marriage too. Without respecting each other, the marriage will be in trouble. Praise God we are all works in progress!

Loving my man!
Judy B

P.S. We met and married late in life after having failed previous marriages.

    StrengthSoul
    Reply August 15, 2014

    Judy, thank you for those thoughts. We appreciate it. Yes, praise God we are ALL works in progress and because He never gives up on us, we are never to give up on others, especially our spouse! Thanks, as always, for your input. And thank you for continuing to read my blog. :)

Merab
Reply August 18, 2014

Congrats...my advice to you is the biblical passage on marriage in Ephesians 5....it never tells the wife to love her husband, and it never tells the husband to respect his wife (presumably because we each already tend to give what we want to receive)...Thus to Hugh I will remind him one more time to "Love your Wife"...and for Cindi I will emphasize "if you want to love your man in the way he needs to be loved, then you need to ensure that he feels your respect most of all. " God Bless you

StrengthSoul
Reply August 18, 2014

Thank you so much to all of you who wished my husband and me a Happy Anniversary and who offered your best marriage advice for us on my blog this week.

Hugh and I couldn't agree on just TWO winners so we worked together and came up with FOUR. (It was really difficult to select just four, also.)

We are awarding a copy of "When Couples Walk Together" to
Sally - who has been married 15 years. We loved her suggestion of writing Scripture for each other in our prayer journals. We are also signing a copy of our book and giving it to Tracey, who will be married 28 years this December. She stressed communication and waiting on God for His perfect timing on issues in our marriage.

We also wanted to award two other wives with a copy of our book, When a Woman inspires Her Husband:
Brittany Reed - We were blessed to hear of your new relationship with Jesus and how divorce is now no longer an option for you and your husband. This book, When a Woman Inspires Her Husband, will help you "never leave Jesus out" as you suggested.
Arianne De La Torre - this stay-at-home mom of three touched our hearts with her desire to "constantly be aware of your heart" and when you need more time with Jesus. You, too, we'd like to bless with a copy of "When a Woman Inspires Her Husband."

Thanks again to each of you for your comments that I know have encouraged and inspired us and others. (Winners, please email me at cindispeaks@msn.com with your husband's first name -- so we can sign the books for both of you -- and your mailing address. )

Chery
Reply August 23, 2014

Okay, Cindi, so this is a very thought provoking post...thank you. I have read it several times and find myself drawn to get When Couples Walk Together. My husband and I just celebrated 32 years and my marriage is better than I ever thought it would be! Especially considering how hard it was to adjust to in the beginning. We were not Christians when we married but years later we were born again together. Since then God has been our foundation, the Bible and serving together. Serving together, although different ministries. Once again, thank you for touching my heart:-)

    StrengthSoul
    Reply August 23, 2014

    You're welcome, Chery. Thank you, as always, for sharing your thoughts.

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