Part 4: By Nikki

andy & Nik 3 photo

1997 – Visiting Chicago, Illinois

andy & Nik 2 photo

1999 – Cannon Beach, Oregon

andy & Nik photo

2001 – Andy turns 30 and Nikki is pregnant with Nathaniel

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 [This is a continuation of our marriage and family testimony. If you would like to read the first three parts, click here: Part One, Part Two, Part Three.]

Part 4: Being on the Same Page – Peace is Possible! (by Nikki)

I have to be honest with you – each time Andy and I have come together to write the next part of this testimony, we have tension over how to communicate things that are so personal and close to our hearts. The tension materializes because we have such different personalities, and therefore different ways of telling our story! This whole process has given us yet another opportunity to practice one of our most defining habits in our marriage!

We call it – “Being on the same page”.

This important routine came about because the first years of our marriage were filled with disappointments and unmet expectations that we simply didn’t know how to talk about. By God’s grace we pulled together, instead of drifting apart, and came up with a plan – let’s talk, let’s listen, and let’s do what we BOTH have peace about. With finances, parenting, ministry, work, and basically every aspect of life. God brought us together to be a team, and we discovered how we could work together like one!

This wasn’t easy! You see, in our early years of marriage we tried to talk and listen, over and over again. But we would usually end up disagreeing in some way, and ending our “talks” with a lack of peace. These early themes of conversations centered on our overall direction and life purpose, and how to take steps forward to achieve goals. We didn’t understand that God wanted us to be on the same page, that His plan – and gift – was for us to have peace. Every time. Not necessarily automatically, but at some point before moving forward, we were to be on the same page and at peace with one another. He knew that this peace would bring about the closeness and deep friendship we both desired.

As Christians, we find this peace first in knowing Jesus, and then in following Him in all that we do. Jesus Christ is the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6) and His gift to us is His peace (John 14:27) – especially in this world where we face many challenges! We came to understand that God gives us this peace not just with Him, but also for our marriage relationship. Now that we have kids, it is a gift to our family too. When having peace became the standard we strove for, we began to seek “same-page-ness” in all things.

“Make every effort to do what leads to peace and mutual edification.” (Romans 14:19)

“For he Himself [Jesus] is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility.” (Ephesians 2:14)

“How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity!” Psalm 133:1

“May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Romans 15:5-6

“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace.” Colossians 3:15

Here is how it works for us. Every single day there are many decisions to be made as a family. These decisions have to do with timing of events and commitments, when to eat, responsibilities of work, school, friendships and life. And there are five of us now, so these decisions have to blend and operate for everyone together. It’s a fundamental conviction and mutual commitment we’ve made: we agree on what, when and how we are “doing” our life each day. Being on the same page requires a plethora of communicating, as you can imagine! It requires patience to wait for peace. This may sound cumbersome and inconvenient, but it is like second nature to us now. Inhale, exhale. We don’t even consider it is something we are doing – it’s breathing! Likewise, we don’t even consider that we are getting on the same page. It now happens so fluidly.

This habit brings incredible joy to us! In big decisions, such as Andy going to back to graduate school, and smaller decisions, like how are we going to spend our Saturday, we know we are on the same page and are rarely surprised and hurt by life’s events. We eliminate the place for blame, since we agree on decisions together.

Recently, with our rather important decision to return to Niger as long-term missionaries, our family “same-page-ness” was crucial, so we waited for His peace. It took an entire year for us to be on the same page! But the waiting and seeking are always worth it. We are thankful to God for giving us this conviction, and we count it as one of the most important ways He has kept us growing together.

Of course, this marriage habit is in process and growing along with us as we journey through life together. I hope we don’t sound as if we have it all figured out! But we have found some ways to stick together and love each other more deeply, and that is definitely worth sharing!

Part five, our final “chapter”, coming soon.

 

Back to Niger Progress Report:

Monthly Financial Support: 27%
(Goal $7,500/month) Current: 31 monthly partners = $2,000 /month

One-time Financial Support: 28%
(Goal $80,000) Current: $22,100

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Part Three: By Andrew

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(This is a continuation of our personal marriage and family testimony. If you would like to read Part One, written by Andrew, Click here, or Part Two, written by Nikki, Click here.)

Part 3: By Andrew

A Marriage Essential: Forgiveness

In our first years of marriage, Nikki and I were learning how to work together as a team. The process continues to this day. We each had high expectations for ourselves and each other. I had my desires and expectations and Nikki had hers. Our motives were good in that we essentially wanted to do the right thing. But somehow we would fail each other. Then would come our explanations, excuses, tension, silence, and withdrawal.

Being offended by one another was common and we voiced our hurt with comments like:

“I feel like I have to be perfect”

“Why are you being so sensitive?”

“Why did you say it that way?”

“You don’t understand me”

How we handled those moments would either bring us closer together or push us apart. Would we hold on to our excuses and good intentions or would we apologize and ask for forgiveness? And then we had to live-out the challenge: would we actually forgive?

 The truth in our story is that Jesus Christ has been the force behind our ability to ask for and receive forgiveness. Without Him in our lives, and in our marriage, we wouldn’t naturally choose to humble ourselves. We would hold grudges, pretend nothing happened, cover up hurts, and slowly drift apart.

Colossians 3:13 reads, “Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” We had to consider God’s standard. If He has forgiven us in all our failures with Him, shouldn’t we do the same for each other?

I’m not saying that it always comes easily! The decision can be costly. But when forgiveness takes place, there is a closeness that is indescribable. Somehow we find ourselves in a better place being stronger and having more understanding of each other.

God’s power is made perfect in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9).

Financial Progress Report:

Monthly Support: 24%
(Goal $7,500/month)
Current: 28 monthly partners = $1,800 /month

One-time Support: 25%
(Goal $80,000)
Current: $19,975