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.
The following blogs joined CMBA since our last issue. Do visit their sites and share an encouraging word.
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
Here are the rules:
- Each week in October, publish one post about the topic listed above.
- 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.
- 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>
- 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.
- 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
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?
Are you on social media? Follow CMBA!
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.
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!
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