WE ARE BACK With A Word For The New Year!!!
WE. ARE. BACK!
we missed you all. We have a word for you this year and we share what God has been working in us since we took our hiatus back in June!
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Thank you for this last year. Although it was difficult and different in many ways, we know you were working. We trust you and we hope for all that is to come, all that your word says will come. We are excited for this new year and the many opportunities we will have by your grace to share Your gospel with others. We pray for boldness and great faith. We pray for the right words when the time is right. We pray for receptive hearts and we pray for revival. May you draw hearts closer to yourself. We pray marriages would be stronger this year. We pray our eyes and our hearts would be focused on you, what you are doing, and how we can participate. We pray for truth to prevail. We pray gratefulness will overwhelm our hearts and our minds. May your peace guard us and may Your holy spirit Lead us into this next year.
In Jesus’ name, amen!
[Jennifer] Welcome to the "Marriage After God Podcast."
[Aaron] We're your hosts. I'm Aaron.
[Jennifer] And I'm Jennifer.
[Aaron] We've been married for 14 years.
[Jennifer] And we have five young children.
[Aaron] We started blogging over 10 years ago, sharing our marriage story in hopes of encouraging other husbands and wives to draw closer to God and closer to each other.
[Jennifer] We have authored over 10 books together, including our newest book, "Marriage After God," the book that inspired us to start this podcast.
[Aaron] "Marriage After God" is a message to remind all of us that God designed marriage with a purpose.
[Jennifer] To reflect his love.
[Aaron] To be a light in this world.
[Jennifer] To work together as a team.
[Aaron] Using what he has given us.
[Jennifer] To build his kingdom.
[Aaron] Our hope is to encourage you along your marriage journey.
[Jennifer] As you boldly chase after God together
[Aaron] This is "Marriage After God." Hey, welcome back to a new season of the "Marriage After God Podcast," and with it a new year.
[Jennifer] 2021. It's here.
Yeah, I'm pretty sure a lot of us are like thankful that it's no longer 2020.
2020 felt long.
With probably good reason. Yeah, it was a long year. But we're your hosts, Aaron and Jennifer Smith.
And we're glad to be back. We've taken quite a bit, quite a long hiatus from recording episodes for the podcast. But yeah, and we're here with season five, January, 2021, excited to be here.
[Jennifer] So I think it's safe to say that 2020 was, different?
[Jennifer] Disorient. I can't say that word.
Disorientating a little bit.
It is a long word.
[Jennifer] Just so much has happened, you know. And the personal impact of last year looks different, you know, from family to family. But Aaron and I just wanted to take a minute and just speak to anyone who especially felt affected this last year and in profound ways. Even small ways, it doesn't matter. At any point, if you struggled, if you wrestled, if you were frustrated or confused or just had a hard time this last year, we just want to acknowledge that.
[Aaron] Yeah, anyone who's lost loved ones or jobs, businesses, those who got sick, who struggled with anxiety, mental illness, we just wanna say that we're praying for you guys. And we didn't wanna skip over this. We are gonna try and be light, but real things happened this year.
[Jennifer] A lot happened.
[Aaron] We just wanna remind you that your peace and your shelter is God. And we just pray that God would be your peace right now, and that he'd be comforting you. But if you have gone through that and you're here listening today, we welcome you. And we're excited to encourage you today and share a little bit of our life with you. And we're excited to get back into the podcast with you. So, yeah, but we just wanted to start with that.
[Jennifer] Yeah, and now we're here starting a new season of the podcast. And we're jumping into a new year. Hopefully, all looking forward to a better year, but maybe we're just all a little bit more prepared to embrace whatever this year has for us and accept, you know, what is to come, whatever that is.
[Aaron] And just a word we wanted to give, and not to whimsically throw this word around, but for the believer, this word is everything for us. And the New Testament over and over again reminds us of this word for good reason. And so we wanna remind you, also, fellow Christians, of the word hope. And it's an important aspect of the Christian faith that sometimes gets overlooked, because when the world goes the way it's going, it might overshadow, it might make us feel like, "Wait, is there hope?" Like, "What's going on?"
[Jennifer] But, for us, I mean, when hard times hit, it's that hope that gets us through, really, to persevere, to endure. Because we're not just looking for the hope of a better day or a hope of things, circumstances to change. What are we looking for?
[Aaron] Yeah, our hope isn't an earthly, temporary, imperfect thing. Our hope is in something eternal, something sure and everlasting. So, you know, our hope isn't in the things that are perishing. The Bible tells us and cautions to keep our eyes above where Jesus sit on the throne, right? Keep our eyes on heavenly things. So I just wanted to read a section from Hebrews 6 that explains what this hope is for us and where it comes from. It starts in verse 13. It says, "For when God made a promise to Abraham, since he had no one greater by whom to swear, he swore by himself saying, 'Surely I will bless you and multiply you.'" So this was God's promise to Abraham. "And thus, Abraham having patiently waited, obtained the promise, for people swear by something greater than themselves. And in all their disputes and oath is final for confirmation." So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise, so the heirs of the promise, that's us, brothers and sisters, that we're the heirs of this promise. So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath. So that by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf having become a high priest forever. So our hope is eternal. It's sure, it's an anchor, it's steadfast. But what is that hope in? It's in Jesus Christ, it's in his complete work. It's in the fact that he is sitting on the throne next to God in heaven, interceding for us believers. That's what the Bible tells us. He's praying for us. He's encouraging us through his spirit. And at the end of all of this, we get eternity with him because of him. So our hope is not in, you know, the government figuring things out and fixing all the problems. Our hope is not in a cure for things. Our hope is in Christ and his work and what he's done. And that's a sure thing, and it's certain, and it's perfect. And so, brothers and sisters, we just wanna encourage you, regardless of what happened in 2020, no matter what 2021 has for us, we have hope in the perfect and complete work of Jesus.
[Jennifer] That was really good, Aaron. And it was super encouraging just to hear you share that with us. And I just want to just affirm our listeners that one of the biggest motivations of why we do what we do and our reasoning for getting into season five of the podcast is because Aaron and I feel very strongly that our purpose, God's purpose for us, is to be an encouragement to the believer.
[Aaron] To the church, yeah.
[Jennifer] I just really look forward to this next season and the episodes that we have coming out because I truly believe that they are gonna be a source of inspiration and encouragement, and just reminding the believers to have that steadfast hope, no matter what we face, no matter what we endure through. And like we mentioned earlier, from family to family, it will look different, but I guess we're all in this together.
[Aaron] As believers, yeah.
[Jennifer] Yeah, and Aaron and I just wanna be here for you, wanna be a voice of encouragement for you.
[Aaron] So with everyone experiencing so much change, we've experienced change, we actually talked about change in the very last episode of season four, it's explaining why we were taking a hiatus and just taking a break. And the changes we made coming into season five, we've made a little bit of changes. You've probably noticed the new theme song in the beginning of this episode.
[Jennifer] Yeah, it kind of just go straight to the music and our intro. And then you just shared the title of the song that we chose. Do you wanna share it?
Yeah, this song with the whistling which we really like is called "Can't Be Bothered." And so it's kind of like a theme for this year that, as believers, we're just like, we're not gonna be bothered by what's going on in the world. We're gonna keep our eyes on Jesus.
[Jennifer] Actually, when we were gearing up to just start this episode, we heard the whistling and Aaron goes, "It's like we're holding hands frolicking on the hills of green." I don't remember what you said.
That's what it sounds like.
But it was so picturesque. So I just have that vision running around in my mind.
[Aaron] So when you hear the song, we pray that it encourages that idea of frolicking with your spouse.
[Jennifer] No, Aaron prays that it gets stuck in your head and you think about our podcast.
[Aaron] That too. That's the marketing in me. Yeah. So we have a new intro to the podcast. And what we'll do is, instead of starting with us talking and then going into the intro, it's gonna be intro. And then we're just gonna jump into saying hi to you guys and talking about what God has put on our hearts and what's going on in our lives. And so, yeah, that's a little bit of the change for this new season. There's another change that we were doing for this season, and we'll share that at the end of the episode, but it's a little fun thing to encourage new habits and new ways of thinking. And I'll leave that as a secret until the end.
[Jennifer] Oh, they're gonna be just wanting to know more.
[Aaron] Yeah, so as usual, we do wanna invite you, if you haven't done so yet, to leave a star rating. At the end of this episode, if you want, just scroll to the bottom of the podcast app and just tap on one of those stars. And it helps us get into the algorithms so that other people can find the podcast. And if you have time, leaving us a written review is just a huge blessing. It helps others know what the podcast is about. It helps others hear your testimony of what you might've been encouraged by or blessed by from the podcast.
[Jennifer] And it encourages us.
[Aaron] And it encourages us. So we just wanna invite you to do that at the end of this episode, or at any time, really, to help spread the word about this podcast.
[Jennifer] So we already mentioned that this is season five of the "Marriage After God Podcast." And we just wanted to note here that if you are new and you haven't had a chance to listen to previous episodes, or if maybe you've missed any, just to take a look at some of those past episodes, you know, your next commute or laundry day, be sure to catch up. Also, subscribe so you don't miss any future episodes.
[Aaron] Yeah. There's a lot of episodes, over 100. So you have plenty of time to go and listen to all of that. And we'd love to hear from you, to know what your favorite episode is, but yeah. Hey, what's happening in two days?
[Jennifer] It's our anniversary. 14 years. I can't believe it!
14? Are you sure it's not like six or seven?
Mm-mm, definitely 14.
No, it's 14 years. Man, it's been a long time.
[Jennifer] Happy Anniversary!
[Aaron] Yeah, Happy Anniversary to us!
[Jennifer] You know, it's funny, as, usually, we're so good about wrapping up the end of the year with talking about goals and visions and dreams and things we desire for the coming year. And I think just because 2020 was such a whirlwind, we did it a little bit in November, just because we were itching for some like-
Yeah, normal and new. But we never really had that conversation. So I think come-
[Aaron] I'm a little satisfied, too. I'm okay, like, I don't have any huge goals. I'm sure we'll come up with some, but right now I'm just like, "Okay, cool. 2021, let's see what's going on."
[Jennifer] We usually go out to dinner on our anniversary to celebrate. And so I'm excited to see how that will play out. And I'm just excited.
In the coming weeks. But yeah, 14 years. I'm proud to be your husband. It's been a roller coaster. Roller coasters are fun.
Yeah. In a good way. But they're also scary.
[Jennifer] Yeah, I was gonna say terrifying.
[Aaron] And I think that's a good definition of marriage. But man, it's been good. I wouldn't trade the last 14 years. And it's actually been more than 14 years. We knew each other for quite a few years before we were married. So we've been knowing each other for a long time.
[Jennifer] Still love you. Okay, so let's take it way back. What was your favorite memory from our first year of marriage?
Ooh, it was a long time ago.
I know. I know.
[Aaron] 14 years. Okay, so we were gonna be planning on going to Africa.
[Jennifer] We did go.
[Aaron] I know, but in the first year, we were planning. And we moved up to Washington for a short while to spend time with friends, to raise some funds. And that time we were in Washington, actually, was really cool.
[Jennifer] Yeah, do you remember the drive we took and it was just like no agenda type of drive out in like farmland and we saw a bald Eagle.
[Aaron] Eating something on the ground.
[Jennifer] Yeah, that was pretty cool.
[Aaron] That was cool. So that was cool, that was a long time ago. We were like kids back then. But no, that was cool. We stayed in a little tiny apartment above, what was the shop? It was like a print shop.
Print shop or something.
[Aaron] That's what it was, downtown in Washington.
It was interesting and cool. But that was a fun time.
It just feels like a whole lifetime ago.
[Aaron] That was almost a whole lifetime ago, yeah. So, yeah, that was one of my fond memories of year one.
What was yours?
[Jennifer] Well, it's a hard memory, but it's a good memory.
[Aaron] This is your favorite memory, is a hard one?
[Jennifer] I'll tell you why.
[Aaron] Okay, just do it. Pull the bandaid off, just tell me.
Maybe I shouldn't. I think I even wrote about it in one of our books, but do you remember staying in the airport, and we had just flew back from Africa and we're in like Miami or something like that?
We had a transition.
[Jennifer] And we were gonna El Salvador.
[Aaron] Like right from there.
[Jennifer] Yeah, and we're trying to not miss our plane, and I just stop in the middle of the airport and I'm just falling.
You dropped your bags.
[Jennifer] I'm just crying. And you turn around. And I'm a newlywed still, right?
[Aaron] You're a good, like 20 yards behind me, just sitting there crying. And I'm like-
I don't know what I'm doing.
'Cause we're like gonna miss our plane.
[Jennifer] And you turn around, and you come rushing back. And you're like, "What could possibly be wrong right now? We've got a plane to catch." And I just said, "I think you married the wrong girl." Like, what we were doing, the ministry and the missions, everything was just so hard. And you grabbed my hand so hard and you said, "Okay, we can talk about it later." And you pulled me along with you.
[Aaron] Which is like the theme of our marriage. I just, yeah, you got this, let's go. We'll talk about it later.
[Jennifer] Yeah, but it is just a really good feeling to know that no matter what I'm going through, ups, downs, you've always been that hand of encouragement and someone to tug me along and say, "You got this." And even throughout this last year, 2020, you did that for me so many times. But instead of saying, "We'll talk about it later," we talked about it right in the moment. And I just really appreciate that about you, that you are willing to remind me who I am, remind me who we are together, and what are our purpose is, you know, for God's kingdom. And so, like I said, it's kind of one of those twisted, weird, hard memories, but I am so grateful for it.
[Aaron] And that was fun.
[Jennifer] It was so fun.
[Aaron] It was like, yes, there was a lot of hardness in it, but there was a lot of fun in it too. So encouragement for those husbands out there. It's one of your ministries, grabbing your wife's hand and dragging her. Oh, encouraging her.
No grabbing your wife's hand and encouraging her.
Along the way. And telling her you love her and that you wanna listen to everything she's struggling with.
And reminding her that you're there for her. That's what I meant. Thank her.
Okay. Let's move on. Happy anniversary. I love you. And let's move on.
[Aaron] Hey, real quick, we always want to offer something for free for you, for our listeners. We've made quite a few resources, and one of our most popular ones is our marriage prayer challenge. And you can go to marriageprayerchallenge.com, all one word, marriageprayerchallenge.com, all one word, it's completely free. You can join up, and we're gonna send you a prayer prompt every day for the next 31 days for you to pray for your husband or for your wife. And it's not to replace your prayer life. It's to inspire it.
[Aaron] Yeah, it's like a fun challenge to be like, "Hey, I'm gonna get this email, and like, Oh, here's a new thing. I'm gonna pray for this today for my wife. I'm gonna pray for this today for my husband." And over 100,000 husbands and wives have taken this challenge already.
Will you join them? If you haven't yet. Marriage prayerchallenge.com. It's completely free. It's 31 days. It's an email. It's simple. Sign your spouse up with you with their permission, yeah.
With their permission.
[Aaron] Yeah, but get that free thing. We wanna offer something every single episode for you guys to either download or get involved with for free.
[Jennifer] This is also made possible in part by our faithful prayer team patrons. And we just wanted to do a shout out to them and say thank you, thank you, thank you. Thank you.
[Aaron] Yeah, those patrons help these emails stay free. And so, thank you.
[Jennifer] Okay, can I just say that it feels really good to be broadcasting with you again?
[Aaron] Does it?
[Jennifer] This is way more natural to Aaron. And he could just jump on a microphone and start talking. And for me, it's a little bit more challenging, but he's patient with me. But I really am excited to be here. And like we said earlier, we took a break starting in the summertime after season four, which was actually cut short a little bit. And we just felt like-
We needed a break.
[Jennifer] For ourselves and for our family, we just needed a break. And it was so nice and refreshing. Guys, we've been doing this ministry for 10 years, and podcasting for, what, almost four?
[Aaron] Yeah, we were going pretty nonstop in the podcast for a couple of years.
[Jennifer] Yeah, and it just takes a lot of, you know, mental capacity to dive into these. And we want to do them for you guys, but it was one of those, just-
[Aaron] Well, and we also, we were about to or just had, I don't remember at what point we had our fifth child.
[Jennifer] Yep. We had Edith. And so I was still in postpartum.
[Aaron] And a hiatus was like, totally warranted. We were like, "Let's do this. Let's take a break."
[Jennifer] But what was so encouraging was you guys. You guys would reach out to us and say, "Hey, we miss the podcast. We miss you guys. What's going on?" And we'd say, "Yeah, we're taking a break, and we're enjoying it." And they would say, "Oh, good." Be like that's-
[Aaron] Yeah, but, "Don't take too long."
[Jennifer] Actually, there was a handful of you that are like, "Well, we're really excited for when you come back." So just thank you guys so much for all of your messages. We really appreciate that.
[Aaron] So although 2020 was a really odd year and incredibly difficult for some and lonely for others, for us, we had our own stuff going on. I mean, everyone has their stuff. We had our own stuff. We had some deep, deep lows. We had some really awesome highs.
[Jennifer] Oh, I wanna share a little-
Is it a story? I don't have any illustration.
Good illustration, yeah.
A good thing. A few days ago, I went through about six boxes of Legos trying to help my son look for a particular mini-fig, if you're familiar with those. His was Heartbreaker.
[Aaron] It's an Iron Man figure.
[Jennifer] The irony of his name. My son's been heartbroken over losing this particular Iron Man. And so I was showing him how to sift through the Lego bricks. And I even said that word, "I'm helping you sift." And he looks up at me and he goes, "What's that?" So I showed him that I would take a big handful of Legos and shake them through my hands, and did this one at a time going through these boxes. And so I was just thinking about this last year and thinking about this situation that I had with my son, and I feel like this last year was the kind of year that makes you sift through your soul. It makes you sift through your marriage. It makes you sift through every inch of your life, but in a really good way.
[Aaron] I would even adjust that to say, God has been sifting us. Like through his hands.
Through his hands.
Oh, that's really good. Yeah, we got to do that. And I think sometimes we even got down to the gritty bottom and looked down and said, "What's that? What's that doing there?" And then we got to encourage each other, you know, back up from that place. And so I don't know why that illustration just really stood out to me. But I also wanna just take a minute, Aaron, and just say that you were an anchor for me this last year, someone who grounded me when my mind kind of spun out of control, just with everything that we endured personally, but also on a grand scale of like the chaos in the world and the confusion, you know, in the places that we live.
[Aaron] And becoming a mother of five.
All of it.
There were legit things.
[Jennifer] There was so much. There was so much. But you were so compassionate with me, patient with me, slow with me. You were my reason when things didn't make sense, and iron when God needed to sharpen me. And this year just showed me how much God has used you in my life, in my everyday life, in that refining process that I take for granted. Like, 'cause I know it's been happening over the 14 years. I know it's been happening every day since we've been married. But I think along the way, I just kind of like, I became used to it. But this last year I undersaw the value, the importance of it.
God turned up the heat. To get all that dross, bring it to the top.
[Jennifer] Yeah. So thank you.
[Aaron] Well, thank you, that was encouraging. Well, speaking of that year and how God might've been sifting us and just some things that we experienced in winter, let's just give a quick rundown of some of the things that happened in 2020 for us. One pretty big thing I think is, you know, for those that don't know, we are part of a small home church, and they appointed me an elder in 2020, which is pretty cool. And if you're hearing that word for the first time, I'm just using the word the way that the Bible uses it. I teach and I try and make sure that false doctrine is not in the church and I try and abide by the standards that the Bible gives for an elder. But that was a cool thing. So I've been growing and learning a lot in my gifts of teaching.
[Jennifer] Which you really are gifted in that.
Just being able to explain God's word, you know, and teach it. It's just really beautiful.
[Aaron] Well, and this has been a sifting thing for me to realize the responsibility I have, that I can't just say my opinions and just, you know, "Oh, I'm gonna just say what I think this means." I actually have to study. I actually I have to make sure that I'm teaching, as the word says, "Rightly dividing the word of God." Because it says not many of you should be teachers because you'll be held to a stricter judgment, a stricter accountability. Like there's a level of responsibility there. Which is neat, difficult, encouraging. But I've been doing that for the last year now. And so that's been something that's been, you know, an element to 2020 of, with everything going on of, you know, how do I walk and lead in a church?
[Jennifer] Yeah, and I would say this, having that responsibility, which you were already walking in that responsibility, but seeing you really flourish in that place grew your love for people. I mean, you always loved them, but had so much more care and concern and stepping into those relationships, and, you know.
[Aaron] Well, and I would use that word love. That that is absolutely something that God's teaching me. Which is funny, 'cause like we're Christians, we should love, that's like our word, realizing how not good at loving I am. And so growing in that. And again, God's showing me, like, "Hey, no, I want you to love my way." Like, "This is what love looks like." And I'm like, "Okay." So I'm growing in that. He's pointing out all those rough edges on me.
[Jennifer] So after that we had Edith, which we-
Numero, what, cinco?
Five. Yeah, we had her right in the beginning of, you know, all the COVID stuff changing.
All the COVID stuff.
[Jennifer] But we launched season four with her birth story. So if you guys haven't had time to go hear that and you want to, that's available. But we dive into that story a little bit more, which is a really cool story, actually.
[Aaron] It was our first home birth.
[Jennifer] Our first home birth. Yeah.
[Aaron] We've had the first four in hospitals.
The first four at hospitals. And it was beautiful and it was perfect. And God just, he just really gifted us with baby Edith.
[Aaron] I'm sold on home births. That was like a cool thing. I know not everyone can do it, but that was awesome.
[Jennifer] It was amazing. She's been an incredible joy to our family and our children. They'll walk by her and just go, "I love her so much." And it's just been an incredible distraction from what's going on in the world. I was just thinking like, having a baby during this time-
[Aaron] She has no idea what's going on. She's just always smiling.
The innocence, shes blessed. Her name actually means blessed, which is cool. But for me, it was like looking at the world and everything that was going on gives you that zoom out perspective of like, you know, just you're looking at everything all at once. But then when you have a baby in the midst of it, it zooms you so far in to something as simple as the smile on her face.
[Aaron] Yeah, and the thing that she's trying to grab on the carpet. Yeah, or like cheering her on and she's trying to stand up. It's like nothing else in the world matters. So for me, that was a huge, just tender spot in my heart that I just praise God for it.
[Aaron] And the lesson from this is have children to distract yourself from. Honestly, there's not enough time to think about all of that other stuff because we're trying to raise our kids.
[Jennifer] Okay. Our house has been a lot of fun. It's been super busy, just, our time is consumed. But, yeah, having five kids is a lot, and we're learning.
[Aaron] Also just overall, and I'm sure everyone's gonna have levels of this, this year has been refining for us. God, using the downtime, using the hiatus, using all of the things to draw things out of us and put more of himself into us. And that's been really awesome. Like me realizing how fickle my self-routine is. We've done episodes on talking about just consistency and routine, which is really powerful and really good. But the moment little things messed up my routine, it all went out the window.
[Jennifer] Well, and how much your routine's actually impacted the rest of our daily life.
Oh, gosh, yeah.
[Jennifer] And all of that. I think everybody's probably looking back at 2020 going, "What happened to all of routines?"
[Aaron] Yeah, no one's talking about New Year's resolutions from 2020. Those were like long gone.
[Jennifer] Yeah. That's okay. We've got another chance. We've got another year coming.
[Aaron] Yeah, and you know, what's good about it is it's just showing where, like, is it the strength in me or is in God and like learning discipline on another level.
[Jennifer] Also learning How to be flexible when things are interrupted.
[Aaron] Which is super frustrating, but it's like, "Hey, are we allowed to be interrupted?"
[Jennifer] Yeah, are you still gonna work in the spirit?
Yeah, I know. Some other things that-
Speaking of spirit.
[Jennifer] I know, I know. Some other things that we felt refined in this last year is just, well, for me particularly, but feeling selfish in my relationships and in my friendships, in my view of people and the way that I interact with them. And just had a handful of moments that God opened my eyes and said, "Jen, you need to repent."
Be more selfless.
[Jennifer] You know, "You need to change in this area, because these people love you. And I want you to love them more and love them like I love them."
[Aaron] You have a word here on the notes, inconvenienced. That's something that God pointed out to you a lot this year was when you're inconvenienced is when these things, that's one of the triggers of when certain ways of being shows up in God's... That's just why you brought up the whole, are we allowed to be inconvenienced? Because when you walk in love, when you walk in the spirit, those inconveniences will be opportunities to love.
[Jennifer] 'Cause with your words, I might say, "Yeah, I wanna serve them during this time right now."
As long as it's done this way.
[Jennifer] Yeah, and then for whatever reason, the circumstances are hard or like inconveniencing. And then I go, "Okay, well, how else can I fit this in? Because this is," you know, I'm thinking about myself, which goes into the next one I was gonna say is idolatry and putting yourself up on that pedestal and saying, "I'm more important," or, "I have all these things that I'm worrying about. So I can't possibly worry about someone else."
[Aaron] Or, "I deserve this."
[Jennifer] Yeah. So, what else?
[Aaron] That's a big word, but that's something that God has been showing you in your life. And so the selfishness infringed on things for both of us, like we're both have been confronted this year on certain ways that we are. Not in every circumstance, but like, God, definitely, God's not interested in a little bit of this stuff in us. Like, he's not like, "Oh, that's just so-and-so. that's how they are." No, he's like, God wants holiness. He's refining us. And so he's been sharpening us, pulling some things out, pruning and disciplining. And we're like, "Oh, okay." Showing stuff to us that we haven't seen before, highlighting those things in us. Another thing that God's been showing us this year is helping us realize our insufficiencies as parents.
[Jennifer] Uh-huh, having really rely on him.
[Aaron] Yeah, and just running to prayer, you know, weeping over our of thinking and just saying, "God, change us, transform us. Help us to walk in love, to walk in patience.
[Jennifer] Patience was a big one this year for us, especially with parenting. And I feel like we both came to the conclusion, there was this moment where we looked at each other and we're like, "Wait, we have five kids under eight. This is hard." You know what I mean?
[Aaron] I think we all do this to some level of like, "No, they're ours. We got it, we can do this." And we kind of just neglect the realization that it actually is a difficult thing. It's actually hard.
Yeah, like we are in the trenches with parenting.
[Aaron] We have five children under eight.
Learning and figuring it out.
Or eight and younger. So that was actually helpful to realize like, "Oh, it's okay that it's hard. And it's okay to recognize that it's hard. We should be more patient."
[Jennifer] Yeah, and walking in grace for ourselves with that learning curve, and walking in grace with each other and for our marriage.
And with our kids.
[Jennifer] Walking in grace with others and just, gosh, yeah there was so much that God did that was good. And it reminds me of that song "Miracle Worker," which everybody loves.
[Aaron] "Way Maker"?
[Jennifer] Yeah. What did I say?
[Aaron] Well, it's "Way Maker" or "Miracle."
[Jennifer] Yeah. Olive always calls it that. Anyways, even when we don't see it, he's working.
[Aaron] Yeah, he has. And though some of these seasons in the last year were very difficult, just spiritually, emotionally, and physically, I want God to keep doing it. I'm loving the fruit that I'm seeing. Like, God is actually changing us. He's growing us. He's making us more like his son. And that's what I want. God's growing me and changing me. And I wanna receive what he has for me.
[Jennifer] Oh, receive, that was another thing that this year really impacted me was receiving from the Lord and accepting from him everything and anything that came our way. You know, I don't know why that was hard for me to realize in the past, but when easy things come and it changes you, like an encouragement, you're like.
Yeah, I'll receive that. "Oh, yeah, I can receive that. And I'll change."
[Aaron] And a blessing? I'll receive that, yeah.
[Jennifer] Yeah, you move forward. But I didn't realize how much resistance was in my heart when it came to hard circumstances, hard situations, being confronted, even you coming to me saying, "Hey, I see this happening, and you need to stop." It's like, "Ouch." But receiving that from the Lord and going "Okay." Or things we don't understand, "Okay, Lord."
[Aaron] Well, I remember there was a moment you actually verbalize it. You said, "Okay, I'm gonna receive it." I'm like, "What?" And you're like, "Just the things."
All of it.
"I'm gonna receive these things that I don't want. I'm gonna receive them, and I'm gonna say, 'Okay, thank you, Lord.'"
[Jennifer] But there was like instant peace. And then my heart was just okay. And it was like, "Oh, okay, God, I can trust you." So that was just a handful of things that we wanted to share with you guys briefly.
[Aaron] Just a note on that, it makes me think of Job, when he said, "Shall we not receive the good things from the Lord," or "Shall we receive the good things from the Lord, but not the bad?" Meaning like both things come in life. Like the Bible says that rain, God sends the rain on the good and the bad, the wicked and the righteous. So bad things are going to come into our lives, hard things are gonna come into our lives, and God will bring some of those things in our lives. And so are we gonna be like, "No, I reject that. And I'm only gonna receive all this good stuff over here"? No, we receive both, because God's good, and he has a reason why he's bringing certain things in our lives, good or bad.
[Jennifer] So, yeah, that's really good. Thank you for sharing that. What are some other things that happened last year that we can kind of celebrate?
[Aaron] Something that it didn't necessarily start last year, it started, I believe the year before, but we have five books in Hobby Lobby.
[Jennifer] Oh, that was such a blessing.
[Aaron] And that's been a blessing to us.
[Jennifer] It's been so awesome.
[Aaron] Not just in our lives personally, but the fact that it's like, people can go, it's the cheapest place you can get our books. They have them like 40% off.
[Jennifer] And we just had a friend send us a picture, and all five are in one row right there at the checkout kiosk. But how cool that we've got a row in Hobby Lobby. I just think that's so great.
It's pretty awesome. So thank you, Hobby Lobby, if you're listening.
[Jennifer] Oh, and we didn't really share too much about this, but for our listeners, if you are at Hobby Lobby or online, wherever, you might notice that "Marriage After God"-
The book had a revamp of cover, the inside's still the same. But do you wanna talk about the cover?
[Aaron] Yeah, the content is exactly the same. But what they did is, Zondervan took it from a hard cover and made it a soft cover and changed the image on the cover. It's cheaper.
Which is good.
[Aaron] And it's really pretty. And it's got this nice matte cover, and it's really awesome. And that's also at Hobby Lobby or Amazon or iTunes, wherever you wanna get it.
[Jennifer] Just Wanted to make that note so it doesn't seem like we have another extra book somewhere.
It's not a new book. It's they totally revamped the whole look and everything.
[Jennifer] Yeah. Very cool.
[Aaron] So another note on that, pretty much the only place to get a hard copy of it, the hard cover, is from our store. So shop.marriageaftergod.com. If you're looking for some of the last copies.
[Jennifer] I was gonna say they're a limited supply.
[Aaron] Yeah, 'cause they're not gonna print the hard covers anymore, they're only gonna be in soft cover. Which they're wonderful. They're beautiful. They're awesome. They're more affordable, which I love. But if you want a limited edition hardcover, they're at shop.marriageaftergod.com It's the only place to get them right now.
[Jennifer] Cool. Speaking of books, we've mentioned this to you guys before, but we've been working on some children's books.
[Aaron] That's a new thing, yeah.
[Jennifer] Well, the part that's new is that we've been working with a local artist for the illustration.
So they're getting illustrated, yep. And thy look really good.
So, that's been going. Super excited about that. So we're hoping that that comes out this next year. Do you wanna talk about social media?
Do we wanna talk about it?
Do we? So do you guys remember when we talked about being on a hiatus from the podcast? Well, we kind of-
[Aaron] To guide us from social media as well.
[Jennifer] Like not intentionally, but I just found myself posting less and less and less and less. And then I started to enjoy it, the fact that I wasn't on it so much. But not really, you guys, just looking at our life, like I'll speak for me personally, and then you can share, Aaron, but being on Instagram and Facebook and all the places, you know, I love it. I love being able to receive your guys' messages and, you know, have that engagement there or comment, being able to share pictures of our family and, you know, encouraging memes or whatever it is. I've always loved that. But after having Edith, there was just less time. And I found it very difficult to be on social media as much.
[Aaron] I don't remember what book it was from, but there was this idea of brain calories. Like, you know how you have food calories, like you eat them and you're like, "Oh, I have 2000 calories. I have that much energy. I can use it to run and do whatever I want." But they gave this idea of brain calories of like, how many calories do you have and what are those gonna be spent on in your mind? So I think that taking the break from posting to social media as much as we used to, man, we used to post a lot.
A lot, yeah.
[Aaron] 'Cause over the years, we've lessened that, but it's been nice to put our brain calories to other things.
[Jennifer] Well, I was gonna say, as my jurisdiction at home grew, my time and my ability to be more connected, I guess I'll say, it just flip-flopped. Which has been happening over the last few years, but yeah, I just wanted to make a note because I have had people ask me like through Instagram, "Hey, have I just been missing your posts or have you not been on?" And so I, again, just wanted to make a note that I've been enjoying the time off. You'll probably see me post from time to time, but it's not gonna be like it was, only because I'm in a season where I'm homeschooling too right now, not including preschool stuff.
You're homeschooling all of them.
Yeah, I'm homeschooling all of them, but to me, the preschool stuff comes way easier. But Elliot's in second, Olive's in kindergarten, and we just have busy days.
[Aaron] Yeah, and another thing, you mentioned that people weren't seeing stuff, we actually started, I don't know if we were shadow banned, like, I don't know if anyone knows these things, but there was a season where people were having a hard time seeing our content. It wasn't showing to anyone. So what's happening is just with the way the algorithms, the way all these big tech giants are going, it has been harder for Christian voices, conservative voices to be seen. And so the amount of energy into those things, we'd rather put it into something like this.
[Jennifer] Yeah, the podcasts.
[Aaron] And our emails that we send. So if you wanna keep up with our content, just like subscribe to our podcast, get on our email list, and you'll get our prayer encouragements daily and you'll get this content weekly. Just one little thing that we're trying, it's an experiment, so I don't know how long we're gonna do it, but we deleted our Facebook and Instagram apps off our phone. We still have our accounts. So we can hop online on our computers in the browser and go check messages.
[Jennifer] It doesn't quite feel the same.
[Aaron] It's not the same.
[Jennifer] I'll say this, the first day that we did this, I kept checking my phone and then I'd find myself going, "What am I doing? What am I doing? What am I doing?" And it actually showed me how often I was picking up my phone and just scrolling or just being a part of that.
[Aaron] Well, the same is happening with me. I'm picking it up and I'm flipping back and forth through my screens.
Looking for something.
I'm like "What am I doing?" So maybe this year 2021, we'll be less addicted to our phones by getting rid of a couple of apps. And if you're listening to this, maybe you can take the challenge with us. We didn't get it from anyone else. I mean, we heard other people doing this, but we just, we're trying it. We're removing those apps, and we'll try and engage through the podcast and through our emails and we'll try and hop onto our social media occasionally when we can. Yeah. It's just something we're doing.
[Jennifer] Okay, so we also want, in this first episode, we just wanted to share our hope and mission for this next year with you guys, with the ministry.
[Aaron] Just with our life.
[Jennifer] Our life, everything that we're doing. So yeah, let's just jump into some of these. First and foremost, we wanna preach the gospel way more. We wanna preach it here, online, wherever we can.
[Aaron] I'd say the last season and the season before that, we started getting more, like teaching the word and preaching the gospel more. And so we just wanna continue that and then grow that, because there's nothing more powerful than the gospel.
[Jennifer] And nothing more important, really.
[Aaron] Yeah, especially, let me just look at the world. We need the gospel.
[Jennifer] Yeah, we've also, in this last year, have been preaching the gospel way more to each other and to ourselves. And I think that's really important. So we're just gonna preach more.
[Aaron] Yeah, and gospel, it means the good news of Jesus Christ. And without Jesus Christ, there is no good news. Think about that. So the gospel, it's what we're gonna, we're gonna be preaching that.
[Jennifer] I love that. We're also gonna be growing in our faith. I mean, this is just the Christian walk, right? But we just wanna be intentional with allowing God to continue to grow us.
Prune us, increase our faith and our knowledge of him.
[Aaron] We also wanna grow in love. I mean, we mentioned this a little bit before, but another thing we wanna continue to grow in is in our parenting, like we're raising five children. We don't wanna just raise them to be functional in society. We wanna raise them to know the Lord, we wanna raise them to love the Lord, and we wanna raise them to be bold, bolder than us, more knowledgeable in the word, but also like lovers, gentle, kind, generous. So we wanna grow in that this year. And I know that sounded like a lot. We have a whole like decade, or several decades where we get to walk with our kids. But that's, we just wanna grow in our parenting.
[Jennifer] I would say this: feel more confident in our parenting, and just like-
[Aaron] That's a good word. Grow in our confidence in parenting.
[Jennifer] Naturally, I just think that there's a lot of insecurities, at least in my heart for parenting. And I just, yeah.
[Aaron] I think that's natural, because-
[Jennifer] We just love our kids so much.
[Aaron] Every phase, we have no idea what the new phases have in store for us.
[Jennifer] Even just with homeschooling, I look at it and I go, you know, I get intimidated a bit, because I don't know third grade, but I'm not there yet. Like he's second grade, second and a half. And so finding those insecurities and then trusting the Lord and letting him build my confidence up so that I can step into that next grade with him. But anyways, off tangent. Another thing we wanna grow in this next year is our love, our love for each other, our love for children, our church, others. When when I was thinking about this, I thought about how life has just changed for a lot of us this last year with like wearing masks and stuff. And the times that we go out in public, out into the stores, I was realizing that I'm not making as much eye contact, almost like just shuffling through. And I see the edge of my mask, and it's like it's hard for me to get past, but I think this next year, in order to show love to others we'll have to utilize our eyes a lot more and be more intentional to make those conversations happen. And I think people's hearts are yearning for that connection. They might not know it, but I think they're yearning for it.
[Aaron] We have a desire to see a revival in hearts, in the hearts of husbands and wives.
[Aaron] Like, not just revival in their marriages, but like revival in their relationship with God. But like we always say, our heart for "Marriage After God," the whole theme behind "Marriage After God," the idea, the intention is not just healthy marriages for the sake of good marriages. God's got gifts that he's given to each one of us as his children, and a healthy marriage is a powerful marriage for God. When you're walking with God, when you're walking in unity, you can be used, and God wants to use us. He doesn't need to use us. He wants to use us in his kingdom. That's why he has distributed, through his spirit, gifts to all of us. And so we want a revival in the hearts of husbands and wives, because we'll see children be discipled, we'll see neighbors be preached to, we'll see churches thrive. These are things that come when husbands and wives have their hearts yielded to the father.
[Jennifer] Yeah, you said the word unity. And I don't know why my mind automatically went to the word division. And I think we all got a healthy dose, whether through social media.
What are you talking about?
Or the news or whatever last year.
We're so unified in this country.
[Jennifer] All of that stuff does affect us. Like normal things are hard to navigate, normal relationship stuff, normal marriage stuff, normal whether it's finances or parenting or jobs.
All of it.
[Jennifer] You know, seeking out jobs or whatever, things used to be-
[Aaron] Normal difficult.
[Jennifer] Normal difficult in our lives. And now we have a lot more layers to it all. And so I just wanna encourage you guys, those listening right now, we have to be what is unified in our marriages. Like, we have to be the ones initiating love, encouraging each other.
[Aaron] Being on the same team.
[Jennifer] Being on the same team, being words of affirmation and encouragement, like, that is so vital to our relationships and our marriages.
[Aaron] And it's gonna be even more visible now than ever when we do it. So, just as we come to a close, what can our listeners expect over the next two to three seasons?
[Jennifer] Yeah, well, this next year, that is our aim, to do season five and six, possibly seven. And we'll have a handful of episodes per season. Some of this season's topics, you wanna go through some of those?
[Aaron] Yeah, we're gonna talk about sin. Yeah, that's a good one.
Nobody wants to talk about that, Aaron.
[Aaron] No, just God confronting us with things. We mentioned a few of them. We're gonna try and talk about some of those things.
[Jennifer] We're gonna kind of look at the purification process, the sanctification process.
[Aaron] Yeah, that gold refinement. What is the dross?
[Jennifer] It's gonna be good. Which, we're also gonna be talking about walking in the flesh versus walking in-
Versus the spirit. Yeah, we have a note on this topic. There was this, when we were discussing this, we'll get into it in the episode, but there was this image I got of standing in a river, and the river is flowing pretty hard, and you will go with the river and it's easy. You go against the river, and it's dangerous. And this idea of like, when you're walking in the spirit, the Bible says, walk in the spirit and keep, "If you're gonna walk in the spirit, also keep in step with the spirit.
Keep in step, yeah.
[Aaron] So it's this idea of, you're not guiding the spirit, you're following the spirit. And so that's gonna be one thing. We're gonna talk about, we're gonna do an episode probably on sabbath, and this comes with a lot of connotations.
[Jennifer] Yeah. The word rest just rings a bell for me. And I think that learning how to just accept slowness.
[Aaron] We came up with this topic just of probably how not restful 2020 has felt.
[Jennifer] And yet at the same time, we found ourselves in lots of moments of rest at home.
Of rest, yeah. Because we have a Sabbath and his name is Jesus.
[Jennifer] Yeah, we have another episode talking about are you really loving? And Aaron actually has a really cool-
[Aaron] Thing that I wanna talk about with that. It's gonna be a decision matrix, I think that's what they call them, to find out if we're actually loving or not.
That'll be good.
So that'll be fun.
[Jennifer] We're also gonna be talking about dealing with stressors and recognizing when things are hard, but also giving yourself grace. We've kind of touched on that. These are obviously all coming from what Aaron and I have been experiencing.
[Aaron] And some of these might change too, but this is our preliminary list that we came up with of things that we thought we should talk about.
[Jennifer] How to comfort each other during hard situations. One of my favorite ones that we're gonna focus on is end time prophecy and how to keep alert, how to how to keep watch, because the Bible tells us to.
[Aaron] Yeah, one thing that, if you didn't know it about my wife, is she loves all things Israel and she loves all things prophecy. She just loves learning about prophecy. I wouldn't say she's, we're not prophecy scholars, but we just love that.
[Aaron] I mean, we should, as Christians, we should love prophecy. I mean, Jesus fulfilled hundreds of prophecies in his own life because he was the Messiah. And then there's prophecies that aren't even fulfilled yet that we're watching happen before our eyes. It's so amazing.
[Jennifer] So we'll talk about that a little bit, and the power of lies, and the the mental game that goes on with what we hear and where it comes from and how we can combat it.
[Aaron] Yeah, a note on this is, like, are they our thoughts, or is it just something we're hearing? 'Cause sometimes we can be like, "Man, I have these thoughts." And so we're gonna talk about that.
[Jennifer] Dig into that a bit. And then we're gonna end with Jesus is the Passover. And that aligns with Passover, which I think is cool. So we'll get to share a whole episode on that.
Speaking of Israel.
[Aaron] Yeah, we hope you're excited. And we're gonna try and be, you know, just on here regularly, you know, weekly. Oh, so we talked about one of the new things that we're adding to the episodes. So, as usual, we will and in prayer, as we always do. But before that, let me share this new thing for this season, yeah.
I had an idea. I had an idea, I told Aaron, you know, a big way to combat complaint or grumbling is thankfulness and being grateful, being grateful-
It is the way.
[Jennifer] It is the way. Being grateful for the things that we do have or have experienced, or just, it's that recognition of God, what God is doing in your life. And so I told him, I said, "If we're gonna start the podcast back up, we are absolutely adding this piece to the puzzle." And that's just, at the end of every episode, we are going to say something that we're grateful for. And our hope is that this spreads joy and thankfulness and inspires you guys to do the same.
[Aaron] You know, the challenge would be that, when the episode is over, you consider what you're grateful for.
[Jennifer] And then share it with someone.
And then share it, yeah.
Share with the Lord, share it with your spouse, share it with a stranger share it with whoever you want. But getting that out of our hearts and into praise, I think is so important.
[Aaron] So we're gonna spend the first tithe of the year in Thanksgiving, like being grateful for God's goodness, for anything that God's blessed us with. You know, there's a verse that says this, this is actually God's will for us, being thankful. In First Thessalonians 5:18 , it says, "Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." It's actually his will for us. Have you ever saying like, "What's God's will for my life?"
[Jennifer] You're doing it by listening to our podcast.
[Aaron] To be thankful.
[Jennifer] Being thankful.
[Aaron] Yeah, and listening to our podcast. That's God's will.
[Jennifer] No, he's just kidding.
[Aaron] We're not gonna step outside scripture. No, his will is that you're thankful, right? So if you're ever wondering, "What's God's will for my life?" Thankfulness. And to be honest, the mere fact that sinners like us are saved by grace through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone-
Right. It is incredible, miraculous, and worthy of all thanks.
[Jennifer] Our perspective matters, it really does. All right, Aaron, why don't you kick us off with what you're grateful for.
[Aaron] I am grateful for a new year to pursue God and grow in my knowledge of him, because of what I just said about him.
[Jennifer] Awesome, mine's a little bit longer, if that's okay.
[Aaron] You didn't give it a length. It can be as long as you want.
I know, I know. As long or short as you want. I am grateful for the downtime we had this last year, just between having Edith and postpartum and everything else that went on. I'm just really grateful for my family and being able to spend that time with you guys. It was a lot slower than what we are used to, but I really enjoyed it.
[Aaron] Yeah. And God is good.
[Jennifer] God is so good. All right, so now you guys get to consider what you're grateful for. And be sure to share it with the Lord and with your spouse and with your friends and anyone else you can think of. And encourage them to spread the message of gratefulness.
[Aaron] And a PS gratefulness, we are grateful for you.
[Jennifer] So grateful, and it feels so good to be back. This was our kickoff episode, and we just wanted to recap, you know, what kind of took place and moving into the new year. Our encouragement was that beginning portion of that. We have hope as believers, we have hope in Jesus Christ, and we're gonna carry that hope into this next year, whatever it has for us. And we're really excited about the season and the episodes that we just shared and what's to come.
[Aaron] So we're gonna end in prayer, as we usually do. Dear Lord, thank you for this last year. Although it was difficult and different, in many ways, we know you were working. We trust you, and we hope for all that is to come, all that your word says will come. We are excited for this new year and the many opportunities we'll have by your grace to share your gospel with others. We pray for boldness and great faith. We pray for the right words when the time is right. We pray for the receptive hearts, and we pray for revival. May you draw hearts closer to yourself. We pray marriages would be stronger this year. We pray our eyes and our hearts would be focused on you, what you are doing and how we can participate. We pray for truth to prevail. We pray gratefulness will overwhelm our hearts and our minds. May your peace guard us, and may your Holy Spirit lead us into this next year. In Jesus's name, amen. And we love you all. And thank you for joining us for the beginning of season five. We look forward to many more episodes with you. And I didn't note this earlier, but because we're not doing social media as much, what we wanted to encourage our listeners is that you would be the one that spreads the word about the podcast. And so if you were blessed by this, and if you want to, would you just share this, somehow, some way, either on one of your social media networks-
[Jennifer] Or just word of mouth.
[Aaron] Tell someone about it, send it in an email, text it to someone. I think it'd be awesome if this podcast grew this year purely by our listeners. And so if that's something you wanna do, we'd love to invite you to do that.
[Jennifer] Also, don't forget to get your free thing that we have for you guys, and that's just the 31 prayer challenge. You can go to marriageprayerchallenge.com to sign up and get started on that.
[Aaron] We love you all, and we'll see you next week.