May 17, 2011

Marriage Made Stonger with Friendships

Our church's sermon this Sunday was on marriage, the vows we took and what that means to us now. So last night our Bible study group met and discussed. We all brought our wedding albums to look at and discussed who had changed the most, where we got married, the weddings themselves, etc. We shared a lot of fun laughs before discussing more serious matters like the vows we took and what we are doing to make sure we are strengthening our marriage now. Here is a picture of Tone and I. I think I have changed more than he has. I definitely look baby-faced compared to now. But that was nine years ago...
Let me just say that friendships like the ones we have fostered together in this group are vital to a growing marriage. Tone and I are stronger in all ways (spiritually, emotionally, mentally) because we get challenged and loved by our friends every Monday night. Our marriage and personal lives have gone through a monumental change because of regularly doing life with these other families.
There are five families and 11 kids. Only one (Hunter) is in school and we all eat dinner together first so that should describe the madness that occurs on Monday nights, week in and week out. It is in this madness, this doing of life together, that strengthens our bond. I know it's crazy and chaotic. I know my house gets upended on Mondays....and I know it's the best fun and the best way to grow friendships. We could just meet, but sharing a meal together really brings us closer. None of us can afford or have a regular sitter, so all the kids come too and play while we discuss the sermon from the day before. So yeah, there can be a lot of noise and interruptions. We roll with it and amazingly, we are able to have some pretty good discussions that can run fairly deep. It's been two and a half years and countless meals, holidays, vacations, births of children, impromptu BBQ's, birthday parties, day trips, play dates, craft days, serving the community days, babysitting for each other nights, family emergencies, prayers for each other during hard times, and countless meaningful conversations shared that have forged a very strong bond between all of us. In fact, one family went with us to Hawaii last month and we had the best fun. We have also gone camping together and had many other fun adventures with the other families in our group. We can't wait for our whole group camping trip in June. We missed church while we were gone in Hawaii and one morning we sat on the front porch, drank coffee, and had some deep theological and life discussions. I was challenged in my thinking and honestly, sometimes "church" can be just as meaningful in a casual setting, say having a good discussion with friends on the front porch on a tropical island, than spacing out in a pew on Sunday (though my church is awesome and generally does a great job of challenging and keeping my attention).
We all like to chat after church. We are the families that are the last to leave as they are locking up the building. Our kids will be so annoyed with this as they grow older, haha!

We often do holidays together. With one couple, we have done Christmas Eve and Easter and joined their family at their house. Here we are on Easter with the three families who didn't have any other family Easter plans. We did an egg hunt and a yummy ham dinner.
I understand that this is not everyone's experience with a Bible study group and often it's just the opposite. We have been incredibly blessed by these other families and their friendship in our lives. It's wonderful to have friends you can call at a moments notice and to do life with. They know us (even the ugly parts) and continue to do life with us. Nothing is better. So if you have a bad experience with a group in the past or the current group you are meeting with is just not "working" for you, may I challenge you to not give up and to try again? I've heard from a large church survey done that it takes a average of FIVE tries before you find a group that works. Many get too discouraged and give up after the first. Maybe that would have been me, so I am SO glad our group gelled from the start. I would like to say that our group is full of grace and truth. We are hardly perfect, nor are our members all similar to each other (we come from some very differing backgrounds), and thus the need for both.

Anyhow, I have to close this up because I have to get a couple things done before we go hang out with one of them for pizza tonight. Yeah, I know we just met last night but we just like to hang out together. You know, just for fun.

4 comments:

  1. We just can't get enough of you guys!!!

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  2. Very encouraging post, Jenny! So glad you have a wonderful, supportive small group and a positive church. May God continue to bless your group in amazing ways!

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  3. How fun! We still need to join a small group. We've been so involved with our high school students and I often feel like the other leaders are kind of our small group, but maybe one day we'll actually get around to it. You're a good advocate for a small group!

    Okay, Hunter looks like a little ladies man in that picture. He's just grinning from ear-to-ear! You're in trouble ;)

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  4. What a blessing!!!

    Jesse and I are so blessed and encouraged by the 5 couples in our young adult Bible study at church. It's so refreshing to meet with others in the same spot in life, to encourage each other in the Word, and to uphold each other through life's struggles.

    We are all in periods of transition right now, and by next year, I don't think any of us will be living near each other any more. Reading your post makes me sad that we'll miss out on furthering our friendships as our families grow, but I'm hopeful that God has an amazing group of young families for us to join wherever He leads us next.

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