Our January

Ashley and I decided to take the month of January and recharge our batteries by saying yes and no to certain things. The primary purpose of our month long commitment was to focus our lives spiritually, relationally, and physically. Here are some of the things to which we said no and yes.

Regarding our health:

- We said yes to water and no to any other beverage.

During the month of January, we abstained from all beverages except water.  On a couple of occasions we did drink a cup of coffee as a reward and Ashley drank a little tea along the way but other than that, we only drank water.

- We said yes to healthier food and no to desserts, fried foods, and bread.

Because I travel so much, this commitment was the toughest one for me.  Restaurant eating is not exactly conducive to healthy eating, but I was able to make healthier choices and maintain our commitment. We also chose to avoid starches and carbs as much as possible. I didn't give up meat but I even made better meat choices.

- We said yes to exercise and no to laziness.

I need to work out. On the road, I normally have access to hotel gyms. So this discipline was more about choosing to wake up, get up, and go work out when it is easier to sleep in.

As a direct result of our health commitments, I lost 20 pounds in the month of January.  Ashley lost what she wanted to lose as well.  Basically my 20 is the equivalent to her losing 5 pounds!  And we both feel healthier.

Regarding our spiritual lives:

- We said yes to reading the Bible together every day and no to just private devotions.

In January, we wanted to hear from God and talk to God as a couple. So we developed the discipline of reading the Bible together at some point every day - usually in the mornings.  Again my travel schedule puts me in every time zone so it was not always easy to make the time to do this, but we did and it helped us listen more intentionally to God.

- We said yes to praying together and for each other every day and no to just praying privately.

Rarely do couples pray out loud together and for each other.  Ashley is my best friend and I love her more than life.  I don't want her to just know that I pray for her. I want her to hear me pray for her. I pray for her protection, for God's work in her life, for her heart, and for her mind. I pray for her to be everything God intends her to be. I pray for her job and for her moments of loneliness when I travel. I pray out loud for whatever is on her heart. And she hears me pray for these things.  On the other hand, she prays specifically for me and what's going on in my life and I get to hear the person I love so much pray to God over me.  It encourages my heart. This discipline joined our heart together unlike anything we have ever done.

- We said yes to talking about our spiritual lives and no to assuming what is going on.

For the first time in our relationship, we did not wait until something was actually going on to ask our spouse how we could pray for them. We were proactive about it.  And it allowed us to catch a glimpse into what was going on in our hearts.

As a result of our spiritual commitments, we are making these practices a normal part of our married lives. We are not going to be legalistic about it but we are going to be intentional about it. Statistics suggest our marriage will not survive. God says otherwise so we are going to be highly intentional to give God the space to work individually and as a couple in our lives. It is not something either of us did consistently in our first marriages and we suffered the consequences.

Regarding our personal lives:

- We said yes to quiet and no to noise.

We both have a habit of needing noise in our lives - particularly when we are apart.  It is a natural habit for me to turn on the TV when I am alone in a hotel room just for the noise. This month we chose to leave off the TV most mornings and just allow it to be quiet.  It gives you the space to talk to God and to meditate - not something we tend to do if there is consistent noise in the room.

- We said yes to vulnerability and no to privacy.

Ashley and I have both had times in our lives when we kept dark secrets from those we claimed to love. We know that trust is essential in our relationship and something we must continue to build. The best way we know to continue to build trust is through vulnerability and accountability. No limits. No topics off limits. We talk about everything. We hold nothing back.  And in the process, it allows us to stare into the soul of the other person. We love it.

- We said yes to our future and no to our past.

For those who know our story, they know our past is something that can create some serious issues in the life of a couple or an individual.  Now more than ever, we are determined to focus on our future and to learn from our past.  We don't have time to maintain regrets. God has redeemed our past so there is no reason for us to live there.  It is an insult to the God who set us free from it.

As a result of our personal commitments, God brought us closer than ever.  I can honestly say I love Ashley now more than I ever have.  In the midst of our crazy and conflicted story, there is a thread of redemption, healing, and unconditional love that has brought us together in a way no one believed possible.  And that is a God story.

Ashley and I are in the midst of making some really big decisions that impact our lives in a significant way. We wanted answers in January.  And at the end of January, we are still unclear about our next step. But what we figured out when reflecting on this reality is that God didn't take us through this month to give us specific answers. He took us through this month to draw our hearts closer to Him and to each other.  January wasn't about what He wanted to do for us. It was about what He wanted to do in us.  And now regardless what the next step looks like, we know now more than ever that He is in control of us and whatever steps we take.  

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