Marriage Ministry Matters – October 2014

by CMBA-admin on October 3, 2014

Matthew 5:16

Welcome to the CMBA newletter!

Marriage Ministry Matters is CMBA’s monthly newsletter. This issue includes a piece on the decision to stay anonymous or reveal your identity by Jenny at Delightful Oak, a reminder about the CMBA October blog challenge, a behind-the-scenes look at Beth from Messy Marriage, and more.

New Members

The following blogs joined CMBA since our last issue. Do visit their sites and share an encouraging word.

Steven Hill: Faith and Culture – Steven Hill
Simply One – David and Sabra Penley
Build Your Marriage – Brad and Heidi Mitchell

Please check your listing on the member page to make sure that it is accurate and up to date. If it needs to be changed, send an email to Chris at chris@forgivenwife.com.

CMBA Blog Challenge!

October Weekly Words of Wisdom – WoW!

What words have encouraged you in your marriage? What wisdom has helped guide you and your spouse in strengthening your marriage?

Each week in October, you are invited to post about wisdom or encouragement you’ve gleaned from various sources:

October 5-11, words and wisdom from family
October 12-18, words and wisdom from the Bible
October 19-25, words and wisdom from friends
October 26-November 1, words and wisdom from blogs and books

 

CMBA_challenge_14

Here are the rules:

  1. Each week in October, publish one post about the topic listed above.
  2. Share a link to each of your posts in the CMBA Members’ Forum on this thread. That way we can all read each other’s posts and add our comments.
  3. Grab a button to post on your blog letting your readers know you’re taking the challenge. You can save the picture above or use this code:    <div align=”center”><a href=”v” target=”_blank”><img src=”http://www.upliftingmarriage.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/CMBA_challenge_14.png” width=”175px” height=”175px” border=”0″ alt=”CMBA”></a></div>
  4. The best part of the challenge is to visit other CMBA marathoners to leave your comments. It’s a fun way to make new friends and attract new readers during the challenge.
  5. At the end of the challenge, we’ll have another button for you to post to your site to show that you’ve completed the challenge.

From the Forum

The CMBA Members’ Forum is a safe place for us, away from the eyes of our readers, where we can gain insight, encouragement, practical help, and prayers.

This month’s featured thread asks about resources for wives who are rejected when they initiate sex.

What blogs, articles, and books have you found helpful to share with these wives?

Click here to join the conversation.

If you have questions about the CMBA Members’ Forum, contact Lori at lori@the-generous-wife.com.

How Do I . . . ?

Writing Anonymously vs Writing As Yourself

By Jenny Lang, Delightful Oak

Writing as yourself is ten times harder than writing anonymously, I don’t recommend it, ha! No really, when I began writing, I had a lot of pain to work through, I had a lot of questions. It was nice to have the freedom of anonymity, but you and I both know how God works. He gently asks us for more, and He waits patiently to see how we respond. It’s easy to be brave when no one knows who you are, but writing as yourself requires courage. Your children,your friends, your family will all be able to read what you’ve written. You know words are powerful and can hurt people or they can build people up and free them. Words are weighty things and I have a lot of issues to work through. I don’t want to dump my bad into other people’s lives, but I love working through my thoughts and my relationship with God in my writings. It’s a delicate balance and I haven’t quite figured it out yet.

If you ask me why I switched I might say because my oldest daughter suddenly learned how to read over my shoulder.
or maybe I didn’t like having to hide a huge part of my life from my friends and family.

or ……

I still think about switching back to anonymity all the time, it’s easier, much more freedom, no accountability.

But God is working on my heart, and He’s telling me “do not fear” and people I know keep asking me when I’m going to write a book and I respond “What? I’m not a writer.”

But then these intense moments happen, when I’m all alone, or when we’ve finished singing praise songs at church where the leader asks “how can you serve God, what is the thing you’re afraid to do?” and the idea of writing a book pops into my head, and I tell God, “I’m not a writer, what are you talking about?”

So I tell my husband that I think God wants me to write a book, but I have no idea what it’s going to be about….and I think “who writes a book without having a topic first?” and I think, “perhaps it’s not my book, perhaps it’s God’s book and he’s just using my fingers to do the typing……then I wake up every morning with an intense desire to write, not sure if I can breathe for the day until I get some words onto paper first. Who is this person?

I don’t have the courage part figured out. I have no idea how to write about all these pressing questions and passions I have without hurting people. But I do notice I’m passionate, I’m passionate about helping women, and I’m passionate about saving marriages, and I’m passionate about following the word of God no matter how embarrassing it may be. Do you know how crazy the world reacts when you just say the word submission?

This writing thing has been an unexpected journey, one I didn’t plan on, but is exciting and fun. It’s a gift, one that I’m so thankful to be able to participate in. Sometimes you need to close your eyes, pick up a pen and jump afraid. Jump off the cliff that’s right in front you of you and trust God to do the rest.

So what’s the next scary step God is nudging you to do?

Social Media

Are you on social media? Follow CMBA!

Facebook
Twitter
Pinterest

Let’s Hear from You

Have you answered our survey questions yet? It’s a checkbox survey so won’t take much time at all. Click here to let us know what you would like to see in the Marriage Ministry Matters newsletter.

Marriage Resource

Looking for a book to recommend to your readers or to strengthen your own marriage? Try The Honeymoon Habit: Lessons for Renewing Romance and Reconnecting with Your Spouse.

The description on Amazon begins:

You dreamed of being lovers, partners, companions, and friends. You told each other you would always be in love. Yet you find your passion fading and wish for a new energy.

Read Lori Ferguson’s review of The Honeymoon Habit here.

Behind the Blog

It’s fun to get to know the person (or people) behind a blog. The plan is that each newsletter will feature one blog. We will provide a list of questions; it’s up to the blogger which questions (or how many) to answer.

Meet Beth Steffaniak at Messy Marriage!

Steffaniak

Beth and Gary Steffaniak

Tell us about your blog. When and why did you start your blog? Is there a story behind your blog’s name? What aspect of marriage do you blog about the most?

I started Messy Marriage four years ago on October 10th 2010. Before that I had a more general themed blog but found myself always gravitating to the subject of marriage and in particular “messy marriage.” I guess we write about “what we know!” :)

When the idea for the name came to me, I knew it would resonate with those who were/are struggling in their marriages. It seems to be something of a catch phrase in our culture today—probably because there are so many who are unfortunately experiencing it.

As a life-coach I specialize in the areas of forgiveness and grief, as well as learning to set and maintain healthy boundaries. Those are the topics I love to explore because they reflect my passions and life-long gleanings.

What is your favorite blog post (give us a link, please!), and why?

Probably one that is among my most popular Validating Your Spouse’s Feelings. There’s a lot of misinformation on how to validate through listening. It’s such an important skill that can enhance and revitalize any relationship.

What is your favorite Bible verse?

It’s a tie between 2 Corinthians 1:8-9 and Hebrews 12:1-3 because both of them talk about putting our focus on the Lord to do the work that we are unable to do ourselves.

What has surprised you about blogging?

The biggest surprise is how many wonderful friendships I’ve discovered. I never knew that I could or would “love” people so dearly that I’ve never met in person or in some cases never even seen in a profile pic.

Tell us about your spouse/marriage.

I’ve been married to my hubby, Gary for 27, often messy, but always meaningful years! We have three sons and are experiencing an “almost” empty-nest, since our youngest took off for his first semester at college this fall. Thankfully, we have cultivated our relationship all along the way, so—unlike my parent’s marriage where it was all about the kids—we know each other and enjoy being together with our sons and without!

We are also known for being a very candid couple in our church. We’ve led several marriage groups over the years and occasionally work with couples individually, but we never try to hide the messes God has redeemed in our lives and marriages. In fact, we often showcase the lessons God is teaching us from those hard times. We hope this breaks down walls of fear and shame that many struggling couples might have and give them hope that God can redeem and repair even the messiest of marriages.

Invite us into your writing process a bit. How do you decide on topics? How do you go about writing a post? Do you schedule ahead? What is the hardest thing about writing? What comes most easily?

I keep a running list of around 130+ blog topics/ ideas and when I’m ready to write, I scan the list for the one that stirs the strongest emotion in me and then get busy writing. I also keep a running list of ideas on the note app of my phone, because you never know when inspiration is going to hit!

I usually have some key message that I feel strongly about and that becomes the anchor for my posts. It doesn’t take much effort to quickly churn out a post nowadays, but that’s because I’ve been at it a while. It wasn’t always that easy. As far as my method goes, I don’t have a “template” or structure. It’s like God pours it into my heart and I let it tumble out all over the pages of Messy Marriage.

I typically have an idea weeks in advance of what I’m planning, but the idea is usually more general until I sit down to write.

What is the hardest thing about writing?

Lately it’s the amount of work and time that’s emerging as I’ve move further along as a blogger. It’s sort of like the “frog in the kettle”—where my blog has subtly heated up to a “bubbling boil” and I’m still wondering why I can’t get everything done like I used to!

I think this new phase is requiring me to let some things go that I love—like interacting as much as I have on others’ blogs. Unfortunately, something’s got to give, in order for me to take MM to the next level without losing my mind! :) I sure don’t want to move from “Messy Marriage” to “Messy Mental Patient” any time soon! Besides those hospital gowns are just way too drafty!

What comes most easily?

The love I feel for those who stop by and connect with me. I’ve added many of the bloggers and regular readers who’ve interacted with me to my daily prayer list, which gives me another opportunity to bond with them. I’m so grateful for the way God has knit my heart with these many fine folks!

What piece of blogging advice do you have for new marriage bloggers?

Be persistent and never EVER compare your blog to anyone else’s! You are unique, therefore you are probably reaching a unique audience. So how others are progressing or not is no reflection on your success or effectiveness. Do it for an audience of One … our amazing Lord!

What are some reader comments or emails that stand out for you, and why?

I love the comments where people tell me a blog post has provided some “ah-ha” moment for them, because those are the seeds God uses to plant His hope in their hearts and marriages.

Do you blog in your pajamas?

Sometimes, when it’s very early in the morning. But most of the time, I quickly pitch the P.J.’s in the hamper, because I’m off and running!

What are your hobbies (besides blogging, of course)?

Photography, graphic design, doing anything “creative,” reading, traveling and, of course, working on my many writing projects!

Image courtesy of hyena reality at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Marriage Ministry Matters – September 2014

by CMBA-admin on September 5, 2014

Welcome to the CMBA newletter!

Marriage Ministry Matters is CMBA’s new monthly newsletter. We’re excited about creating a resource to inspire and encourage the CMBA blogging community.

Our thanks to Chris (of ForgivenWife.com) for gathering up the pieces and getting us going.

Lori <>< (for the CMBA core group)

New Members

The following blogs joined CMBA this summer (June, July, and August). Do visit their sites and share an encouraging word.

Warrior Wives – Elizabeth Spence
Let’s Be Frank – Frank Walker
Wedlock gist – Olaide & Shola
Delightful Oak – Jenny
Unashamed Marriage – Karl & Sharon Leukert
The Forgiven Former Feminist – Morgan
The Color of Marriage – Joe & Rhonda Robinson
In Touch Marriage – Jake & Jennifer Nelson
Only You Forever – Caleb and Verlynda Simonyi-Gindele
Lattes Laced with Grace – Sarah Wilson
Directed Path Ministries – Bradley Watson

Provisional Members (these folks are developing a blog or just newly blogging)
Kristina and Raf – Raf & Kristina
Bleeding Heart – Bishop Tarzs
Husbands Ablaze – Brian

Please check your listing on the member’s page to make sure that it is accurate and up to date. If it needs to be changed, send an email to Chris at chris@forgivenwife.com.

From the Forum

Have you visited the CMBA Member’s Forum recently? The forum is a safe place for us, away from the eyes of our readers, where we can gain insight, encouragement, practical help, and prayers.

This month, we’d like to draw your attention to a conversation about a practical topic: images. How do you decide what images are appropriate for your blog?

Lori started a thread and asked,

How do you define what is visually helpful and what is visually hurtful to our readers?

What do you think? How do you decide what images to use and how to present them?

Click here to join the conversation. If you have questions about the CMBA Member’s Forum, contact Lori at lori@the-generous-wife.com.

How Do I . . . ?

Looking for ideas on how to make your blog images pop? Check out How to Create Pinterest-Worthy Graphics for Your Blog. If you’re one of the many bloggers using PicMonkey to do photo-editing, check out their how-to section to learn how to do some cool things. You might learn even more at 10 Design Tips Using PicMonkey That You Might Not Know About!

Other free photo editing sites include LunaPic and Canva. These sites all offer different features, so play around with them to see what works.

There are several sites for free images bloggers can use. Be sure you understand the terms of use. It is important to give proper credit for the images, and some sites may either require or disallow alteration of the images.

Some bloggers find it worthwhile to pay for membership or upgrade features at image or photo editing sites.

Social Media

Are you on social media? Follow CMBA!

Facebook
Twitter
Pinterest

Pinterest

By Bonny Burns

Our blogging buddies at SheSpeaks (Proverbs 31 speakers and writers conference) say Pinterest is the place to be.  I sat in on a round table led by mommy blogger, Ruth Schwenk (thebettermom.com).  She grew her blog from 0 – 400,000 followers in three years using Pinterest and Facebook.  According to Ruth, twitter is too ”business-y.”

So, in an effort to help CMBA and its members grow, here are a few Pinterest tips:

Collaborative Boards are the most effective.  A collaborative board invites many different pinners to pin to one board.  At this time, CMBA is trying to highlight the board ‘Christian Marriage and Sex’ as our star collaborative board.  The benefits of collaborative boards is that each pinner brings to the board their followers.  We combine followers and have a broader reach through collaborative boards.

A collaborative board is similar to a twitter feed.  As more pins are added, they scroll to the bottom.  Lots of active pinners mean the feed scrolls quickly and you would be able to pin multiple times during the day without people noticing repetition.

So, if you are a CMBA blogger on Pinterest and you do not follow the CMBA on Pinterest, please do so.  Then, email Bonny at pearlmail3@gmail.com and I will invite you to pin to this board.

And just a little FYI:  The best time to pin on Pinterest is between the hours of 2-4 pm and between 8 pm – 1 am.  High income women between the ages of 25-50 are mostly who you will find on Pinterest.

The best pins are ones that solve a problem and have an enticing picture.

Marriage Resource

Several bloggers have recommended Grace Filled Marriage by Tim Kimmel as an excellent marriage resource. Check out their reviews. Have you read the book? What do you think of the book?

The Generous Wife
Messy Marriage
Encourage Your Spouse
Leadership Couples 

CMBA Blog Challenge!

October Weekly Words of Wisdom – WoW!

What words have encouraged you in your marriage? What wisdom has helped guide you and your spouse in strengthening your marriage?

Each week in October, you are invited to post about wisdom or encouragement you’ve gleaned from various sources:

October 5-11, words and wisdom from family
October 12-18, words and wisdom from the Bible
October 19-25, words and wisdom from friends
Octobe 26-November 1, words and wisdom from blogs and books

Here are the rules:

  1. Each week in October, publish one post about the topic listed above.
  2. Share a link to each of your posts in the CMBA Member’s Forum. (The October newsletter will give you a direct link to the thread.) That way we can all read each other’s posts and add our comments.
  3. Grab a button to post on your blog letting your readers know you’re taking the challenge. You can save the picture above or use this code:    <div align=”center”><a href=”v” target=”_blank”><img src=”http://www.upliftingmarriage.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/CMBA_challenge_14.png” width=”175px” height=”175px” border=”0″ alt=”CMBA”></a></div>
  4. The best part of the challenge is to visit other CMBA marathoners to leave your comments. It’s a fun way to make new friends and attract new readers during the challenge.
  5. At the end of the challenge, we’ll have another button for you to post to your site to show that you’ve completed the challenge.

CMBA_challenge_14

Let’s Hear from You

We would like this newsletter to help you in your blogging marriage ministry. What would you find most helpful? What would help you feel a part of the Christian marriage blogging community? Click here to take a brief survey.

Behind the Blog

It’s fun to get to know the person (or people) behind a blog. The plan is that each newsletter will feature one blog. We will provide a list of questions; it’s up to the blogger which questions (or how many) to answer.

Meet Bonny Burns at Pearl’s OysterBedburns

Tell us about your blog: I encourage low libido women at www.OysterBed7.com (Pearl’s OysterBed).  Whether their low sex drive is from a physical or emotional place, I hope to inspire women to fully participate in the marriage bed.  Since God designed sex, it’s OK to enjoy it, to pursue change and to pray about it.

My personal journey toward libido restoration began in about 2004.  Pearl’s OysterBed didn’t hatch until March 2012.

I actually did put a lot of thought into naming my blog.  It was symbolic of the coastal area where we live (Wilmington, NC).  Also, it had the word ‘bed’ which alluded to sexual relations.  But, there is another reason.

Pearls are created when grit lodges in the flesh of an oyster.  The oyster instinctively begins layering a mother-of-pearl substance to smooth over the rough edges to prevent further damage.

The brokenness of our marriage was like glass shards in my flesh.  Faith and hope smoothed over the grit.  The Holy Spirit’s beautiful luster came in steps;  a layer of peace, layer patience, layer of seeing-thru-the-eyes-of-each-other’s-heart, layer of wisdom/discernment and a layer of get-over-yourself.  Inside, I’m always gritty, but covered with Christ, I feel lustrous.  I hope to help women find their luster, too.

I wear pearls often to carry this thought with me symbolically.

My favorite blog post is Why Sex?  Although sciency, it was a pivotal part of my personal journey.  The gist of Why Sex melded in my brain several years before blogging.  It radically inspired me to figure out how to rev up my desire for my husband.  I hoped God could use it to help other wives understand their husband’s persistent pursuit of sex is just as much emotional and spiritual as physical.

Writing Process?  What is that? I write best when I pray before I begin.  Seriously, He gives me the inspiration.

I try to take topics from real life; what Dave and I are currently dealing with, conversations or emails I’ve received, eavesdropping.  Or sometimes, I just google about libido and see what appears in recent research.

I rarely outline.  I start writing and see what happens.  Then, I’ll go back and rework it.  My current goal is to write 500 words a day.  My dream is to have three months of posts scheduled.  Right now, I don’t even have next week scheduled.

Recently, I started trying a new method of capturing post ideas.  I carry sticky notes with me everywhere and when a topic pops in my head I write it down.  Then I stick it on my new ‘post topic’ bulletin board.  I have about 30 sticky’s on my board now.

I love series’ because they keep me focused and I like researching the various angles of one topic.

The hardest thing to do for me is to write when I have a headache or if I’m super busy.

What would I be super busy with?  Although I no longer work outside of the home, I chair the board of directors for a non-profit called Christian Women’s Job Corps.  We empower impoverished and hurting women with job skills, life skills and hope from the Bible.  Visiting relatives who live out of state also squeezes on our schedule.

Do you blog in your pajamas? I blog in jammies whenever possible.

What has surprised you about blogging? What surprises me most is how God has blended blogging with my life offline.  I have written a post to have God send a person to me in real life dealing with the same issue.  It’s like he wanted me to be prepared before he brought them.

Advice to new bloggers: Do some honest soul searching.  Why do you want to blog?  If you blog for pageviews or dollar signs, you are probably going to struggle.  Blogging from a place of passion is what creates longevity.  Passion compels you to be satisfied to write for God’s glory even if the only person to see it is you.  (My dear friend, ForgivenWife Chris, helped me to understand I am writing for one woman and sometimes that one woman is ME.)

The second bit of advice is find balance.  I think many of us write because we have overcome an obstacle and want to share tools we’ve learned.  Those obstacles still lurk silently in the background.  You have to spend just as much time honing your spiritual life and offline relationships as honing your blog or those obstacles may rear their ugly heads.

I started to answer the question about telling you a little bit about my spouse, but it turned into a blog post and you can read it here.

Image courtesy of digidreamgrafix at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Coming Soon …

August 25, 2014

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