I love feeding people – it’s a source of great joy for me. In my humble travels in almost 11 years of marriage, I’ve learned people hunger in more than one way. You don’t have to travel to far away places to see starving people. I’ve studied the eyes of countless husbands and wives and I see people hungering for attention and affection, direction and purpose. Some are starved for love, some are starved for respect, others starved for self worth. Some poor souls have been starved so long they don’t even remember what they’re starving for anymore.

Society has been enthusiastically feeding husbands and wives heaping spoonsful of greed, instant gratification, anger, rationalizing perverse behavior, material cravings, vanities, lies, lust and despair. And the people in charge of this menu selection are smart! They’ll have you believing you’re entitled to seconds of the stuff they’re serving. Buyer beware – they will hand you a supersized plate of self- centeredness and there ain’t no veggies on the side.

When we make bad food choices, we know we won’t be satisfied. Sometimes we end up grossing ourselves out a bit. The consequence might be grave health issues, loss of energy and/or a few extra lbs. But what if the bad choices aren’t feeding your stomach, but instead, feeding your soul? Then what? That leaves a husband and wife suffering from a kind of food poisoning, but instead of a bellyache it’s a heartache, and chances are your family pays a painful price.

We have to make a conscious effort to stop falling into this junk food trap. “Me, Me, Me!” “I, I, I” are chants from toddlers, not how you express your needs to your spouse. In fact, in the book of James I’m learning it’s quite the contrary. Yield to God’s will first, and then the needs of others and joyfully serve them. We can aspire to that kind of living in our marriages. And for all of us with rumbling tummies, I’ve got good news. The good book will fill you up and satisfy you with God’s abundant feast this world simply doesn’t know. You want soul food – I know just the guy! Jesus!

James 5:16 says “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.” I promise, Troy and I will be praying for your marriage from here on in. I implore you to pray for ours, too. We KNOW God’s word can heal us from whatever poisons we’ve ingested from this fallen world. We want you to be fed with God’s word to help strengthen you both. We want you to be refreshed with a ministry of fellow sinners, like us, rooting your “US” on. That’s what gave birth to Mt. Olive’s Married Couples ministry. Join a community of people to lean on in good times and bad, in sickness and in health, for richer and for poorer. Why? Because if you look at the numbers, good times and bad are coming and rarely do you know which one or when. Who better in your corner than God and a bunch of believers on the edge of their seats to root you on?

You might be thinking, “This woman has no idea what we’ve been through.” Guilty as charged – I don’t. But being the foodie I am, it’s not a long “connect the dots” to this next thought. Lemons are in a lot of recipes. In fact, whether you prefer them swimming in your H20, or flavoring your favorite seafood, they add something that no other food could achieve in this lemony way – serious flavor! We all have our stories, and we think some are way more sour or spicier than others. But I believe it would delight our Father in Heaven if we took those lemons and made some lemonade. Toss the pucker aside and take in the sweet and tart that He hands us in our marriages and anything this life throws us.

For the last few thoughts of this marriage series, I feel passionately drawn to the ultimate authority, God’s word. I think these truths are so very timeless and incredibly filling:

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” John 10:10

But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26

And a quick flashback to many of our weddings: “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

I had to be reminded of 1 Corinthians 13:4 so desperately, I bought a bracelet with it engraved on it. When I wear it, I face it in towards my eyes, so not IF I stray, rather WHEN I stray from the brand of love God says I’m capable of striving for, I can course correct. If you want one (or if you husbands want to buy your wives one) give me a call – I met the woman who sells them.

God’s brand of love is Joy! Joy!! Joy!!! Go claim your date night back – and claim that joy God intended for your marriage. In Max Lucado’s latest book “Grace” he says, “God’s dream isn’t just to get you into heaven, but to get heaven into you.”