Baby, it’s COLD outside!

snow pics of g-kids4

BABY, IT’S COLD OUTSIDE!

We are enveloped in a cold spell here in the Inland Northwest. Brrrrrrrrrrr! Bring out the blankets, hot cocoa and a good book; warm and snuggly calls out to us!

Have you ever felt that “weather change” in your marriage? You had hoped to get the warm reception when you came home from a tumultuous day at work. Instead, an icy blast met you at the door. Or, you finished the dinner dishes, and looked forward to adult conversation. Rather, a cold shoulder shunned you away from engaging. Thawing out these misunderstandings isn’t easy. But…a few words may have kept the cold out in the first place.

Surprise! They are NOT the words you may have initially growled, “Well, what about me? Aren’t my needs important?”

Perhaps they were ones that could have been said to God on the way home from your place of turmoil, like: “Lord, take my anger and pride. Fill me with your love for my family.” So, before you entered home’s door, your thoughts were unloaded into more capable Arms, or at best resolved. You could have been the steaming cup of cocoa for your weary mate. Or, here are a few…

“Will you help me with the kids tonight so we can have some time later to relax?” (Now that leaves anticipation for some comfort!) You could be the warmth your spouse needs on a numbing day.

Each are less than twenty words, but they can put anger where it belongs and invite solutions instead of strife. Gary and I often remind each other that we don’t do well reading each other’s minds. Just say it. (Kindly, we might add.) Try it, friends! Bonus…you may get a little of that warm and snuggly stuff later, too!

Join with us to keep the cold OUTSIDE of our marriages and use words as doorways to warmth and kindness in this one-flesh relationship—marriage !

Rootin’ for your marriage!

Gary and Gail Justesen

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Learning to Love Again…

Greetings to each of you! We hope you caught our write up in the Spokesman-Review on Oct. 9th, VOICE section. http://www.spokesman.com/stories/2014/oct/09/learning-to-love-again/ We were pleased with the article highlighting God’s faithfulness in our marriage and our new book, Better than Before, now available on our blog or at Life Center Church in Spokane, WA.

Every time we share our miracle of reconciliation we again pause and give glory to God, the Repairer of the Breach. Yes, our Heart Mender did a good work and still is bringing healing to our relationship. As things pop up now that we are in a different season of our lives together we look to God as our example of love and to His Word which is filled with answers to our needs.

We encourage you to not let things simmer in the melting pot of your relationship, never coming to truth and always finding an excuse to not deal with issues. There is such freedom in getting real before God and each other and submitting your “one-flesh” to Him and His plan! Don’t miss it! Our book can help you get there!

Our prayers,
Gary and Gail

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SIGNS OF FALL IN OUR MARRIAGES?
Okay, let’s be super honest here, though Gary and I are on the same page in most everything, we are opposite in our reactions to Fall.

Gary says with a big grin and wearing a less-than-charming jersey from Jr.High: “Fall! It won’t be long until teams jog onto the fields, bands blast with team spirit and fireworks announce this wonderful season! Let the football games begin! Here I come recliner and remote!” And if that isn’t enough, says I, he couples it with, “The nights are cool, the ground is damp and the leaves are crispy with color. I feel it in my bones! It is finally time to sort through my hunting stuff and make a trip to Cabela’s for supplies. Yep, my trigger finger itches and is ready. Man, Fall is the best! I’m stoked! Bring it on!”

Gail says with a look of dread: “Don’t say THAT four-letter word…only quietly under your breath. Whisper, please! Yes, I dread it, absolutely drag my feet at the mention of it. Everyone gives me a sideways glance when I tell them “shush” when hearing that word. I’ve even tried substitutes like “Indian Summer” or “Harvest” to no avail. As soon as that first cool evening or morning in the northwest hits, it is that nasty word I hear on the news. It’s talked about over the water cooler; it shows up in the stores’ racks. It starts me on a slippery slope of sad as I say “good-bye” to summer, my favorite season, and its equally lovely twin, Spring. Fall (said in a whisper, mind you) is the precursor to winter, my least favorite season. Okay, they’re kind of pretty for a day or two, but I’m ready for spring and summer before anyone can carve the first pumpkin!”

So….what does this have to do with marriage?

Over the many years we have worked with couples, we have been struck by the frequency of opposite reactions when asked, “On a scale from 1 to 10, how would each of you rate your marriage?”
Husbands nearly always answer, following a quick positive glance at their spouse, somewhere between 7-10.
Wives, with the same regularity but an incredulous glance at hubby, somewhere between 1-4.
It is amazing the role that perspective plays in our lives and yes, our marriages!

Do a quick survey of how you would rate your marriage. What would need to happen for you to improve that number? Discuss with your spouse what you will do to make it better. Try to understand your spouse’s perspective. Then, pray together for unity: spiritually, emotionally and physically.

So, this year we plan to try to see “Fall” through each other’s eyes. It’s not about uniformity, but unity. When we see possible division on the horizon, we choose unity. Lord, help us to bend in love toward each other with understanding and acceptance of one another’s view.

How to Thrive in your marriage after betrayal

Now available! See Pay Pal link, Pkg incl. 1 Book and 2 workbooks, his/hers. $30 plus S&H Also available locally through Gary Justesen c/o Life Center Foursquare Church, 1202 N. Government Way, Spokane, WA 99223

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Image of Christ

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“One of the best wedding gifts God gave you was a full-length mirror called your spouse. Had there been a card attached, it would have said, “Here’s to helping you discover what you’re really like!”  Gary & Betsy Ricucci

                                             

Ah yes! Did you smile when you read this quote? Roll your eyes? Stomp your foot?  Yes to all three? We get it! We too, want to cover our eyes and not look. But, we must!

The past few months, our son has been remodeling both of our bathrooms. He basically stripped them down, removing their 1950’s motif and voila’ we have two accessorized 2014 bathrooms! As we were looking for the many replacement items, mirrors were a biggy. It used to be that a mirror is a mirror is a mirror. Not so today. We went through dozens of styles—from glittery to goddy to goofy! But you know what? They all did the same thing: reflect our image…not full-length, but enough to recognize us!

Our spouses come in all shapes and sizes. (We tend to lean heavily on the “goofy” side.) Never mind that; the reflection is what counts. Let’s be certain we reflect a true image not a distorted one. Be sure to give your spouse feedback that is uplifting and encouraging. If we always dwell on the negative, then that is what we will reflect and see in them. Pray instead. It is human nature to want to rise to where the bar set; the cream always rises to the top. Soon there will be more positives than negatives if we are faithful to pray.  

Please join Gary and me as we choose to see the great in each other and spur one another on to godliness. This is God’s word for us and perhaps, you. Make it a year of encouraging and complimenting each other, forgiving and overlooking the distorted circus images the enemy wants to portray.

            “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” James 5:16

“But as for you, O men and women of God….pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, and gentleness.”  1 Tim.6:11

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The Bottom Line…

Two are better than one; because they have a good return for their work:  If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. Eccles. 4:9-12

When the life road is rugged, as we are experiencing now, how grateful we are to have each other’s love and support. Many times through this trial one of us has been down, just barely hanging on and the other has been there to speak encouragement and offer a hand. When the waiting wears us to a frazzle and chills our faith, the warmth of our spouse’s love and hope reignites the fire. We are reminded of His specific Word for us and our belief that God will indeed work all things together for good is renewed.

The third cord in this lifeline is God; He is the strongest strand woven into our lives because we’ve asked Him to be. You see, after 37 years of marriage, nearly losing ours in year twelve, we have witnessed His tenacity to keep us engaged in His plan, looking for good no matter what the circumstances. He is the STRAND that holds us together. He is the POWER line with unlimited tinsel strength. We are a team!

So the bottom line for us is this: Gary’s back injury and five-month wait for surgery, his mother’s recent accident leaving her heart-weak and confused, the difficult but faith-strengthening tests our adult children are facing and our country’s serious internal matters…all these and more are on God’s radar. They are seen and not overlooked. In fact, His plan has been applied to each of these details. So, we can rest in His strength as we lay these burdens before Him.

This Ecclesiates section implores us to not go at it alone, but to reach out to our spouse, trusted family members, and our church small groups. We strengthen our ties with those who know us and can bring hope to our situations through God’s Word.

The NIV Life Application Bible’s study notes for these verses say:

“Life is designed for companionship, not isolation, for intimacy, not loneliness. Some people prefer isolation, thinking they cannot trust anyone. We are not here on earth to serve ourselves, however, but to serve God and others. Don’t isolate yourself and try to go it alone. Seek companions, be a team member.” (p. 1140)

DO NOT be that couple, man or woman that “falls and has no one to help them up.” Cultivate your marriage relationship; do your part to mend your friend and family relationships. Be a team member, for someday YOU will be the one extending your hand and help.

 

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A Word to Carry You Through

gail & gary arboretum
Marriage is meant to be a forever covenant with our spouse, before God. It is the promise meant to carry us through. God is always faithful so if a marriage fails, it wasn’t that He left. He’s the most willing one in the partnership…willing to heal and restore. Will we let Him by taking Him at His Word?

This past week, Gary and I have been vacationing at a friend’s place near Lake Roosevelt. What makes this break different from others we’ve enjoyed?
Our immediate challenge: Gary has three bulging disks in his lower back, plus a cyst or bone spur that are playing havoc with his nerves and mobility. This has been going on for over three months removing his ability to work, play and even walk at times.

We are in covenant in our marriage so when one of us hurts, the other hurts. This season of suffering would be impossible to handle if it weren’t for God’s gracious word to us on day two of this ordeal. It is this word we hold on to as Gary’s surgeon makes the decision to continue steroid injections or do surgery. By special delivery it came, from the Spirit through a humble friend who tearfully encouraged us:

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28.

At times, this verse has been used as an all-purpose pill for whatever ails you, which to some has lessened its punch. But to us that day, it was as if a skilled physician injected a miracle cure directly into our hearts. Its healing truth has nurtured and sustained us in a myriad of ways throughout this trial.

We are loved and called by God so “all things” means that there are many pieces of this situation that God will still use to “work for the good of us.” We may not see the whole puzzle yet, but by faith we can trust in our faithful God to do the work. (The same One who never left the altar when we wanted to twenty-some years back…see our bio)

Are you in the middle of a situation where you are waiting for the pieces to come together as God works His miracle of wholeness? Put aside confusion and ask for a word to carry you through. He has one designed just for you…a direct hit.

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BELIEVE IT OR NOT: THERE REALLY IS A CALM!

shipThose who abandon ship the first time it enters a storm miss the calm beyond. And the rougher the storms weathered together, the deeper and stronger real love grows.*
Ruth Bell Graham

My, how the storms do come! And many of us lose heart before we see sight of the calm beyond; it takes too long and our strength doesn’t meet the challenge. Perhaps we don’t even believe there is such a thing as calm. In my marriage? Are you serious? Instead we see quick, rare glimpses—more so, in others, then our own “couple-ness.”

Please believe us, there is a place of peace: the glassy surface that reflects the Light. From the dawn of time the Light has been threatened by the storm. Why would it be any different in our marriages, a union loved and honored by God? But, not to worry, Light always overcomes the darkness of the storm.

Imagine a triangle with God at the top, you and your spouse at the bottom angles. When each spouse, in the covenant of marriage, moves toward God—reflecting the character of Jesus—we move closer to each other. And the precious Holy Spirit that is our guide and encourager beckons us and enables us to lay aside self and move toward God and His purposes for our marriage.

So, the question becomes, “Am I impeding our calm as a couple by not moving toward God? What can I do to move closer in my relationship to Him, His goodness and guidance?”**

If all you’ve seen is the rough waters and piles of precipitous rocks, illuminated by the beam of Light trying to steer you away from them and you still haven’t changed your course, then it is time to submit your heart and flesh. Let The Capitan have the helm and begin to look for those calm waters beyond the storm. He knows the way! His promise is that He will see us through the storms and give us peace abundantly.

And Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8: 12

Gary & Gail

**Try talking and listening to God (prayer), reading your Bible daily and asking God to fill you with His Spirit each day. It really works!

*It’s My Turn, Fleming H. Revell Company, 1982

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IT’S HERE!

book pic f     BETTER THAN BEFORE has made its debut! This book and “his & hers” workbooks will teach you how to THRIVE, not just survive in your marriage after betrayal!  All things are possible with God! A Bible-based guide to bring your marriage into wholeness, Better than Before is best when used with a healthy mentor couple encouraging you and praying for you.

Questions covered in our book…and more:

  • How do we get through this marriage…together?
  • What’s the value of staying married?
  • Is it possible for a marriage to mend after sexual sin?
  • What steps do we take to get back to wholeness?
  • Will past offenses plague us forever?
  • Does God still have a plan for our marriage and what is it?

God wants our marriages to last!  Here are seven reasons:

  • Because marriage is a covenant, not a contract. (He is a God of covenants.)
  • Because God created marriage to be a representation of Christ and the Church.
  • Because God said so!
  • Because it is a forward step toward God’s will.
  • Because it matters to the generations to come.
  • Because it is a reflection of our belief system.
  • Because God hates pride.

Better than Before comes in a package of one book (17 chapters) and two corresponding workbooks. Price: $30 (includes tax and S&H.) Watch for order choices!

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More coming!

Our book, Better than Before; How to survive THRIVE  in your marriage after betrayal, is super close to printing and availability. Keep your eye on our blog for dates and access to purchase this Bible-based guide that can bring your marriage into wholeness. We offer it in a package of one book plus two workbooks. It is recommended to be used in a format of a mentoring couple helping a hurting couple. Don’t give up on your marriage, God has great plans to revive it!  Nothing is too difficult for Him! We are living proof.

With great hope for you,

Gary and Gail Justesen

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Life by the Water

Every January Gary and I go before God and submit the year to Him. We ask and listen for His guidance and add it to our prayer journal. Always we are directed, comforted and encouraged by His Spirit as needed. We look forward to how our lives will be woven within His will each year.

One year stands out among the rest: 2001. We were full-time missionaries listening for our next marching orders. God directed us to go into YWAM (Youth with a Mission) through an amazing series of nudges, Scriptures, prophetic words, and confirmations from our prayer team. God’s peace prevailed as we applied. Within weeks we were accepted to a DTS (Discipleship Training School) at The King’s Lodge in Nuneaton, England. There we participated in a three-month schooling that prepared us and our team for two months of outreach in the Middle East (Lebanon and Egypt.) In Egypt we were “Jesus in disguise” since in many areas we were not allowed to share our faith.

Life by the Water

 

Quiet service to the people in the suburbs of Cairo and deep intercession for the country, as we sailed down the Nile in a colorful felucca boat, marked our stay. 

Yes, we enjoyed seeing the famous tombs like the Pyramids and Sphinx.

nile river valley

nile river valley

But, this picture on the right, one of our favorites from Egypt, is all about life, not death! The background depicts the fertile valley of the Nile River emerging out of miles of golden sand in the foreground. Interestingly, 90% of Egyptians live in 6% of the country—the Nile River Valley. Like a huge crack in the sandy topography, the Nile flows from Uganda, Sudan and Ethiopia north through Egypt. From its flow bursts lush flora and a dependable commerce. Finally, in fan-like fashion, it empties into the Mediterranean Sea. Now, from geography to “heart-ography”… 

In John 15 we read that Jesus is the Vine and we are the branches. This reminds us that if we stay connected to the Vine, the place of life and truth, we will produce fruit…much fruit…fruit that lasts. If we make our dwelling place where it’s fertile, in Him, we will not get caught in the parched desert. Our marriages can easily veer off into the dunes of busyness and apathy. We can be trudging through steep hills swept with abrasive winds looking for the love we once had for each other. Surely, it is just over this dune? Or perhaps laden with despair we stand in the hot sand looking at the cool river valley, afraid to believe it could ever be that good?

If either of these describes your marriage, get reconnected to the flow of love and healing that comes from the life river of Jesus. When our roots are deep in his fertile Word and we bend with the winds of adversity together, we thrive. Our hope is in Him. He is our Oasis in the desert. Then blessed are we…

“…like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that we do, we prosper.” Psalms 1:3

Make those steps to be that tree planted in the river of Life!

Your local fruit producers,

Gary and Gail

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