ALWAYS

“ALWAYS”

Girl you are to me
All that a woman should be
And I dedicate my life
To you always

A love like yours is rare
It must have been sent from up above
And I know you’ll stay this way
For always

And we both know, that our love will grow
And forever it will be, you and me
Ooh you’re like the sun, chasing all of the rain away
When you come around you bring brighter days
You’re the perfect one, for me and you forever will be
And I will love you so, for always

Come with me my sweet, let’s go make a family.
They will bring us joy, for always.
Ooh boy I love you so, I can’t find enough ways
To let you know, but you can be sure I’m yours for always.

29 Years ago today, my wife and I, sang these words to each other. We were so young and so in love, but we meant every word that we said and sang that day. The song was arranged, so that I would sing some by myself, and then Alonna would also, but the beautiful part of the song, is when both of our voices began to blend in harmony. That means we sing together, but on different parts. Little did we know, that the arrangement for that song, would be the secret for us staying together, until death do we part.

Our lives are truly like a song, not just in the melody and lyrics, but understanding how our song is arranged. There are times when each of us have our solo parts, but we both realize, the beauty and power of what God has joined together, is when we sing in harmony. If you’re a singer, then you understand that it’s not always easy to sing harmony. Before you can harmonize, the lead part has to be established. Once there is a lead note, then a harmony note can be found. That is exactly how our marriage has been for 29 years. Sometimes I lead the song and then other times, Alonna will lead. The harmony note is the supporting part of the song. It’s truly different than lead, but it’s there to enhance melody.

When my wife and I sing live, we try our best to blend with matching each other’s volume and enunciating our words together. Then, when one of us has a solo part, the other one stands and smile, showing support until it’s time to harmonize again. You see, that’s exactly how we have made it together all of these years. We give it all we have, when we’re working together, but when one of us is featured in a solo part, the other one stands and smiles to show complete support and pride. We are teammates, not competitors. We’re not trying to out sing the other one, we are just giving the song everything we’ve got.

One of the things that has made us both so proud, is the privilege of now singing with our daughter Brittany. As many of you know, we have just released a new album and when I first heard the addition of Brittany’s voice, joined with ours in the studio, it was a feeling like I’ve never had before. Maybe that’s how my mother and dad felt the first time I sang harmony with them, when I was just a kid. You see, that’s not just any voice…Alonna and I made that voice!!! I’ve had the honor of singing with so many wonderful people, but I’ve never been happier or more proud, singing on stage with my wife and daughter. The song continues and the harmony is getting bigger.

One of the reasons I’m writing this blog today, is to tell my wife how much I love her and how blessed I am to have her in my life. She is not only beautiful and incredibly talented, but she is the kindest person I know. Even after being hurt by so many people the last few years, she still maintains a Godly attitude and has a wonderful and positive outlook. I love her more today than I did 29 years ago, when I pledged my life to her.

Another reason I wanted to share this, is because I hope it encourages other married families to stay together. Perhaps the analogy of the song and how it is arranged will inspire a spouse to become more supportive. Maybe there is a couple who will read this and realize, they are both trying to sing lead and no one is producing harmony. I challenge a husband and wife today, to know when to lead and when to harmonize. God didn’t join you together for you to only have a solo career. If you want to make it for “ALWAYS” don’t just learn the song…learn your part in the song.

ARE YOU FOCUSED?

This morning I couldn’t help but think about how important it is to stay focused on God as we face very challenging times. We must keep our eyes on Him so we can continue to grow in our relationship with Him. He is our refuge from the storm and we are safe as long as we are focused.

Not only do we know this, but our enemy knows it too. That’s why he will do whatever he can to distract us. His plan is to cause us to look away long enough to pull us away completely. Distraction is his strategy and we must be aware of the potential dangers that are placed in our lives that could hinder our focus.

If something is causing you to take your eyes off the things of God, it is a distraction. I am not going to make a list because the enemy uses different things to distract us. I’ll let you make your own list of things you know are causing you to look away. I will say this, if a relationship you are in is hindering your relationship with God, then you are distracted. If you’re more focused on someone or something, then it could be a distraction.

I encourage you to start this day by checking what you’re focused on. What are you most concerned about right now? What have you been thinking about since you woke up. Maybe you got up worried or even depressed…turn your eyes back to Jesus and watch what happens when you remain focused on Him.

SOMETHING WORTH FIGHTING FOR (ROUND 3)

For the last couple of weeks, I’ve been writing about struggles that all married couples face. I have stated repeatedly, that for a marriage to be successful, you have to fight for it. I believe, next to our relationship with Jesus, there is no relationship more important than marriage. That’s why this blog series is called, “SOMETHING WORTH FIGHTING FOR”!!! With that being said, let’s get ready for round 3.

I had the privilege of going to an Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC ) event this past week. They refer to it as Mixed Martial Arts (MMA). It is a full-contact combat sport that allows the use of both striking and grappling techniques, both standing and on the ground, from a variety of other combat sports and martial arts. Because of the variety of different fighting styles, it’s a very exciting and high energy sport. We were sitting very close to the ring and could hear every punch and kick. We could see the intensity on the faces of the fighters when they were on the mat fighting to win. We also witnessed different ones getting cut and bleeding. I wasn’t crazy about that part…lol. Nevertheless, it was an incredible night and one I’ll never forget.

As I was writing today, I couldn’t help but think about that night. Since my blog series is about fighting, I began to notice some interesting comparisons in what I saw then and what I see in some marriages today. I watched several fights for over six hours and honestly, the fighters that stood out to me, were the ones that had the strength to come back and win after being knocked down. It was the ones that were pinned against the cage or pressed against the mat in a hold that seemed impossible to get out of. In the UFC, when a fighter can’t get loose, he will do what’s called, “Tapping Out”. That’s when he takes one of his hands and starts tapping. That signals the referee and says, I’m out and can’t take anymore. The referee can also call the fight if he feels like one fighter isn’t able to fight back.

When you see a fighter down and everyone thinks it’s over, but then he or she somehow gathers enough strength to slip out of a hold and turn around and win…my friend, that’s someone that believes they have something worth fighting for. It doesn’t matter how many punches you can throw, the true test is how many you can take. How well a fighter can recover after making a mistake, says so much about their ability and character. Even the most talented make errors, but what makes them great is their desire to not give up. When a fighter refuses to surrender, they call that, “HAVING HEART”. The great ones have heart. They don’t sit out because of a set back, they actually stand out when it would be easier to give out.

It’s the same in a marriage. You don’t gage it by not making mistakes, but rather by how well you recover after an error is made. It doesn’t matter who you are, you are going to make a mistake. You are not perfect and the day will come when you will make a mistake. Your marriage will be pinned against the cage or pressed against the mat and it will be hard to see your way because of the hold your in. It’s in times like this that will determine if you have a good marriage or a great one. Sure, you could tap out and say I’m done. However, the real fighters don’t quit that easy. The ones with heart assess their situation and figure a way out, not a way to surrender. They’ve saved enough strength for a comeback. They combine strength and will, then make their move. All of a sudden, what seemed impossible starts to change. The one on the mat is now the one in control of the fight. Just seconds ago, what looked to be hopeless is now victorious. All because somebody realized they had “SOMETHING WORTH FIGHTING FOR”!!!

So what about you? Is your marriage on the ropes? Has a mistake been made? Are the financial struggles causing you and your spouse to want to give up? Are you facing something that you thought you would never have to deal with? If you’re not going through a difficult time, then the blog ended at the last paragraph, but if your marriage is in some incredible hold and you can’t seem to get free, you are who I want to encourage. Instead of surrendering and becoming another divorce statistic, why don’t you prepare for a comeback? I’m sure everyone watching thinks it’s about over, so why don’t you shock the crowd and show them how much heart you really have. I think you’ve got enough strength to turn this fight around. I’m not saying it’s going to be easy, but I am saying that great ones find a way to recover.

Here are some tips for preparing your comeback.

  • Make sure God is first in your life. (You cannot do this without Him).
  • Be faithful to church.
  • Seek council from someone that understands what is trying to defeat you.
  • Prepare for patience. (This problem didn’t happen overnight and it won’t end that soon either).
  • If someone made a mistake, understand that your spouse will need healing even after an apology.
  • Commit to not using words that cause a setback. (Make a list of digressive words and progressive words).
  • If you have children, make them aware that you are fighting for your family. (Don’t think they don’t feel the tension).
  • Make time for each other. (Hiding under a work load will not help the situation).
  • Remind each other daily that you believe your marriage is SOMETHING WORTH FIGHTING FOR!!!

If you have a comeback story, I would love for you to share it with me.

If your marriage is in need of prayer, I would love to hear from you too, so I could help pray for your marriage.

Email me at: denny@dennylivingston.com

SOMETHING WORTH FIGHTING FOR (ROUND 2)

I wrote a blog last week entitled, “SOMETHING WORTH FIGHTING FOR”. It was about marriage and family and how the only way it’s going to last is if we fight for what we have. I received a lot of response from that blog, so I decided to use the same title and continue to write some more things on this subject. Since last week I’ve heard stories of victory, but I’ve also heard the stories of defeat. Some are fighting, while others have decided to throw in the towel. Hopefully what I’m writing will help someone stand up and fight. Your marriage and family are worth fighting for.

When God created the first man and then made the woman for that man, He referred to her as Adam’s help meet. In other words, God gave that man talents and abilities to do many things, but he wouldn’t be able to do everything, so God gave him someone that would help him. It was important for them to know who they were individually, which in turn, would help them discover who they were together. Their united strength would come from their separate talents and abilities.

They were certainly opposite from each other, but that didn’t mean they looked at each other as opposition. God didn’t want them to be the same or look the same. The Creator designed them to be different. Their differences however, was not to make either one of them feel superior or more important than the other one. They were to recognize the contrast, but combine who they were to make one great marriage and family. That was the only way the two of them could become one.

As I council marriages and families, many times I find couples that see each others talents as competition. Instead of recognizing the importance of putting their abilities together, they choose to compete with one another for who is better at certain things. I’ve even seen husbands that were jealous of their wive’s talents as well as wives feeling the same way about their husbands. Instead of promoting and combining, they choose to compete and sometimes even intimidate each other with abilities. Each has be given specific gifts and also the potential of progressing and the enemy is using this to bring separation among so many marriages.

Your individual strengths are designed to make you better. It doesn’t make you less of a man or woman when you acknowledge that your spouse has certain talents that you do not have. In fact, I believe it will make you a much wiser man or woman. You cannot do everything and you’re not suppose to, the plan is for you to help each other become better together. However, you’ll never get there as long as you view one another as competition instead of completion.

Instead of me making a list of the different talents and gifts that men and women have, I want to issue a challenge. You spend some time writing down your spouse’s strengths and talents. What is it about them that makes them unique in what they do. Think of how you two are alike in many ways, but also how you are different in others. You see, I believe it is in the contrast where we discover incredible ability. You have to know who you are individually in order to develop an amazing combination. It’s important that you work on fusion, not confusion.

We weren’t made to compete with each other, we were made to complete each other. Our fight must be to work together, not fight every time we do work together. Know when it’s time for each one to take the lead. Recognize who should take care of the checkbook and who should make certain phone calls. Learn to compliment your differences. You’ll actually become better at what you do individually when you encourage one another’s talents. What God has joined together, don’t let competition pull apart.

Ok couples…let the fighting for your marriage begin!!!

SOMETHING WORTH FIGHTING FOR (ROUND 1)

I woke up this morning with several thoughts racing through my mind. One of the things that kept coming to me was, there are some things in life that are worth fighting for. In fact, there are some things that will require a fight if you’re going to keep it. I can name a few, but I would like to focus on one very important subject that demands our attention and action. I’m talking about marriage and the fight to keep families together.

We have been told that love is a verb, which means it shows action. For a marriage to last, husbands and wives must fight to keep their marriage active. Too many times, in a marriage, couples get busy with making a living and fail to see that their marriage is struggling to survive. You may not feel like talking when you get home from work, but that’s when you have to fight for your marriage and talk anyway. Life will drain you and leave you exhausted, but that’s when the true warriors show up and fight for what matters most.

With our technology today, there is no reason you can’t be reminded to text something kind to one another throughout the day. Tell Siri this morning, “Siri, remind me at 1:00 to text me wife that I love her”. She will say, “Ok, I’ll remind you” and your wife will say, “Awe, I love you too”. Come on guys, how difficult is that? I’m talking about fighting for the most important relationship on earth, next to serving Jesus Christ. You’d be amazed at the small things that can make such a big difference in your marriage.

Fighting for our love also means we find what makes each other happy. One of my favorite books on marriage is “The 5 Love Languages” by Dr Gary Chapman. In this book, Dr Chapman explains that there are five major things that make all of us feel loved. We don’t all speak the same love language. It’s important that we learn each others language, so we can make each other feel loved. When a spouse doesn’t feel loved, after a while, it becomes very difficult to show love. When love becomes inactive and the relationship is treated more like a job, it doesn’t take long for things to start falling apart. I wish I had time to talk more about this, but just know it’s imperative that you love each other and also fight to make sure both of you feel loved.

You have to fight temptation. This is for men and women. I looked up some statistics this morning to find out who is more likely to cheat in a marriage. Is it men? Is it women? I found the results very interesting. It’s pretty well even, although in the past, it’s been mainly men. However, with women climbing the corporate ladder and being so successful, they are not as dependent on a man, so the numbers are more even now. This means both are going to have to fight against temptation, because you are equally a target.

You’re not fighting when your flirting with someone other than your spouse.
You’re not fighting when you’re visiting pornographic websites.
You’re not fighting when you’re responding to inappropriate texts.
You’re not fighting when you’re dressing immodest…intentionally.
You’re not fighting when you’re looking at the backside of the opposite sex as they walk by.

There are a lot more things I could say, but I think you understand what I’m talking about. It’s not easy and you are both going to be targeted by the enemy constantly. We live in a wicked world and things are getting worse daily. Adultery has now become something very common. The world looks at it as something that is just going to happen. I’ve even heard some people say that it was healthy for their marriage. Let me make this perfectly clear. An affair only happens when someone stops fighting for their marriage. Real men love their wives and fight with everything in them to stand and stay by their side. Strong women love their husbands and remain true to them and the vows they spoke to each other on their wedding day.

Don’t get me wrong, I know that mistakes happen and sometimes good people mess up. None of us are perfect, but I’m sure, the marriages that have survived these kind of setbacks will admit, someone was weak and gave in to temptation. If you’re reading this and your marriage has gone through a trying time, let me say this to you, “FORGIVE, FORGET AND FIGHT”. If you decide to stay together and work on your marriage, those three things are essential. It’s hard to fight for the future if your spouse keeps throwing up your past. You can’t move forward focusing on the mistakes of the past. I wish I had time to dwell more on this subject.

I don’t have time to cover them all, but one more way of fighting for your marriage is in self-evaluation. Have you looked at yourself to see if you need to make any improvements? We tend to play the blame game, but the truth is, fighting sometimes requires taking a good look at yourself. You might ask, how do I evaluate my self as a husband or wife? One of the ways you can do this is read more books on the subject of marriage. Since men and women are nothing alike, it’s important that we learn more about the sexy, strange creature we married and now are suppose to live with until the day we die.

As you learn more about your spouse, you may actually discover more about how you need to improve. I would suggest creating a check-list for yourself. Ask yourself the difficult questions. Are you meeting the needs of your spouse? If you’re going to fight for your marriage, are you willing to become a better husband or wife? What does she need that I’m not giving her right now? What is he wanting that I’ve not been providing? The list goes on and on, but I promise that self-evaluation and honesty will make a major difference in your marriage.

I’m not able to write everything that I want to say about this subject in one blog, but I’m going to come back to it from time to time. I just feel so strongly about making couples aware of how important it is for them to fight for their marriage. For starters, after you read this blog, schedule a date night with your spouse. Go somewhere nice and dress for the occasion. Guys, make sure you wow her like you did when you first got together. Ladies, you know we are pretty simple, so it won’t take much to make his mouth water. Enjoy the night and reschedule another date night asap.

Alright couples, let the fighting for your marriage begin!!!