Staying Together Chapter Eleven: Going Under Cover(s)

25 09 2017

Note: This thirteen-week blog series will share a snippet from each chapter of our new book, Staying Together, Marriage: A Lifelong Affair by Steve & Mary Prokopchak. This book is now available through House to House Publications.

We seemed to have reached a desperate part of our meeting with a middle-aged couple pastoring a small church in New York. In tears, the wife declared, “We’re not intimate!” We asked what she meant by that statement. She said without hesitancy, “We don’t do fun things together; we don’t hold hands; we don’t sit close any longer; we rarely have sex; and our conversations have become predictable, boring, and too infrequent. It’s like we’ve taken a break from closeness, from our friendship…from intimacy.”

During the dating and engagement seasons, intimacy seems almost too easy. We are fooled into believing it will always be this way—easy and natural, without having to try very hard. But that’s simply not true. After we say “I do,” we sometimes stop pursuing or actively admiring our partner as we settle into a routine together. But it’s crucial that we continue to desire and affirm one another and continue to pursue deeper and deeper intimacy.

How does a couple stay sexually active when there are jobs, a family, household responsibilities, and civic commitments, along with children’s sports and school, and then local church involvement? All of these good things can rob us of intimacy as married couples and can even become priority over our sexual thoughts and desires. Sometimes life gets a hold of us, and all too often we’re too exhausted to take a hold of one other.

In this chapter of Staying Together you’ll discover different aspects of sexual intimacy, e.g., what inhibits sexual intimacy? We also look at what builds intimacy along with the benefits of a healthy sex life.

Other ordering options:

B&N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/staying-together-steve-mary-prokopchak/1125534926?ean=9780768414905

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Staying-Together-Marriage-Life-Affair/dp/0768414903/ref=sr_1_2?s=beauty&ie=UTF8&qid=1499959168&sr=8-2&keywords=steve+prokopchak

CBD (Christianbooks.com): https://www.christianbook.com/staying-together-marriage-a-lifelong-affair/steve-prokopchak/9780768414905/pd/414905?event=ESRCG

 

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Staying Together Chapter Ten: Staying True

18 09 2017

Note: This thirteen-week blog series will share a snippet from each chapter of our new book, Staying Together, Marriage: A Lifelong Affair by Steve & Mary Prokopchak. This book is now available through House to House Publications.

On your wedding day, you spoke something called vows that probably sounded something like this: For better or for worse; for richer or for poorer; in sickness and in health; ’til death do us part. Rarely do we imagine having to face such issues. But truth be told, we will face some of these things and, perhaps, already have. If you think about it, these vows prepare us for reality long before reality sets in; they help prepare us for inevitable disappointments in marriage.

An affair occurs when one person in a marriage takes the most sacred expressions of that marriage and gives them to another. Most people assume that there’s only one type of affair—a physical, sexual encounter with someone who is not your spouse. But sex is not the only sacred expression of marriage, and you can have an affair without having sex. By giving away the emotional intimacy that should belong only to your spouse, you can have an emotional affair.

Today, emotional affairs are happening near, such as between coworkers, and far, oceans apart, through the Internet. Social media has become a huge source of marital failure as people rediscover “first loves” or feelings they once felt. In this way, you can have an affair and never meet the person face to face.

Infidelity can affect all of our marriages because we can all be tempted. We are all potential vow-breakers. If we think it can’t happen to us, we can become sloppy and less guarded, not alert to the enemy’s schemes. In this chapter, read about an actual emotional affair up close and personal and how the couple confronted this issue in their marriage.

Other ordering options:

B&N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/staying-together-steve-mary-prokopchak/1125534926?ean=9780768414905

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Staying-Together-Marriage-Life-Affair/dp/0768414903/ref=sr_1_2?s=beauty&ie=UTF8&qid=1499959168&sr=8-2&keywords=steve+prokopchak

CBD (Christianbooks.com): https://www.christianbook.com/staying-together-marriage-a-lifelong-affair/steve-prokopchak/9780768414905/pd/414905?event=ESRCG

 





Staying Together Chapter Nine: Rebuilding After Loss

11 09 2017

Note: This thirteen-week blog series will share a snippet from each chapter of our new book, Staying Together, Marriage: A Lifelong Affair by Steve & Mary Prokopchak. This book is now available through House to House Publications.

We sat down to interview Jon and Amy (names have been changed), a couple we have encountered who have a pain-filled story. With their permission, we are about to share with you their loss, brokenness, hope, and redemption.

Jon was sexually molested as a child. In his teen years, he succumbed to pornography and masturbation for comfort and intimacy. It was the beginning of a lifelong pattern of turning to pornography for the relief of pain, anxiety, and fear. He was addicted to the images on the screen. Eventually the addiction became more and more powerful in his life and he began to act out his fantasies. When he had extra cash available, Jon would visit a local prostitute, all the while hiding his dark and tortured secret life from his wife Amy.

One day, Amy received some pornographic pictures on her phone. She called the phone company and asked how that could happen if she never visited such websites. They told her someone most likely used her phone to access pornographic material. She questioned her sons, and then she questioned her husband. No one confessed. She prayed and asked God for wisdom.

She knew her husband had a “past issue” with pornography but had no idea of how current and active it presently was. She pressed in once again with Jon and he denied any involvement. “I felt so horrible,” Jon said, “but lying seemed like my only alternative.” He just couldn’t believe he was at this point; he had been telling himself it would never get out of his control. That thought was now a past hope, not a present truth.

For more of Jon and Amy’s story and the redemption that followed, see chapter nine in Staying Together.

Other ordering options:

B&N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/staying-together-steve-mary-prokopchak/1125534926?ean=9780768414905

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Staying-Together-Marriage-Life-Affair/dp/0768414903/ref=sr_1_2?s=beauty&ie=UTF8&qid=1499959168&sr=8-2&keywords=steve+prokopchak

CBD (Christianbooks.com): https://www.christianbook.com/staying-together-marriage-a-lifelong-affair/steve-prokopchak/9780768414905/pd/414905?event=ESRCG





Staying Together Chapter Eight: Putting Your Money Where Your Value Is

4 09 2017

Note: This thirteen-week blog series will share a snippet from each chapter of our new book, Staying Together, Marriage: A Lifelong Affair by Steve & Mary Prokopchak. This book is now available through House to House Publications.

If your goal was to tear apart your marriage, money arguments would certainly help. But marriage is not about me and mine; it’s about us and ours.

Mary and I already confessed to you that our biggest disagreements early on in our marriage had to do with money. We talked about our differences in how we valued and viewed finances. But what we didn’t discuss was how to make those distinct differences a point of strength rather than a point of weakness within our relationship. Often, right down to the demise of a marriage relationship, we can experience deeply heated and contested issues over money and co-owned possessions.

If God provides for us and shares this wealth with us, then our position before Him is that it is all His, and we simply steward that which He shares with us.

“Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine” (Prov. 3:9-10). This is the first step in our own financial discipline. It is a step that says Jesus is Lord of our finances.

We will ask you to complete a budget in this chapter so that you can “see” what’s coming in and what’s going out, along with many other financial values questions to consider as a couple.

Other ordering options:

B&N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/staying-together-steve-mary-prokopchak/1125534926?ean=9780768414905

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Staying-Together-Marriage-Life-Affair/dp/0768414903/ref=sr_1_2?s=beauty&ie=UTF8&qid=1499959168&sr=8-2&keywords=steve+prokopchak

CBD (Christianbooks.com): https://www.christianbook.com/staying-together-marriage-a-lifelong-affair/steve-prokopchak/9780768414905/pd/414905?event=ESRCG





Staying Together Chapter Six: Marriage Has A Mission

21 08 2017

Note: This thirteen-week blog series will share a snippet from each chapter of our new book, Staying Together, Marriage: A Lifelong Affair by Steve & Mary Prokopchak. This, our latest book, is now available through House to House Publications.

It astounds us to discover how many couples do not know why they are married. This is the question this chapter will probe—what is your mission together as a couple? For what reason(s) has God called you together into this union? Those who once were two have been called to move as one.

Businesses, civic organizations, churches, and the military all have mission statements. If they understand this statement and what goals are to be accomplished, all of the members or employees of these organizations know why they belong. Mission statements are composed of descriptive terms like “to serve the homeless of our city,” “to build a better and more efficient home,” or “to protect our nation’s borders.” When God created man, He also created a mission for man. God gave Adam and Eve an assignment from heaven—to tend the Garden of Eden and to rule over creation.

Life can get busy and pass us by rather quickly. Before we know it, we’ve been married for five or even ten years. We can begin to myopically focus on the stuff of life that has no real or eternal value or lasting effect upon our lives and the lives of others. It’s important to remember why God called you together in matrimony, and writing your mission statement as a couple can help to refocus your marriage on the things that truly matter.

Chapter six of Staying Together will guide you through writing this all-important marriage mission statement and provide you with the qualities of a successful marriage.

Other ordering options:

B&N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/staying-together-steve-mary-prokopchak/1125534926?ean=9780768414905

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Staying-Together-Marriage-Life-Affair/dp/0768414903/ref=sr_1_2?s=beauty&ie=UTF8&qid=1499959168&sr=8-2&keywords=steve+prokopchak

CBD (Christianbooks.com): https://www.christianbook.com/staying-together-marriage-a-lifelong-affair/steve-prokopchak/9780768414905/pd/414905?event=ESRCG





Ten Ideas to Help Your Son or Daughter Pay for College

10 07 2017

My wife and I helped three children through college and we learned a lot from that experience. There are some things we would do over if given the opportunity, but more so we wanted to pass on to you some ideas about paying for college. It can seem impossible, but we do not believe that your son or daughter has to leave college with huge debt that inhibits them for their future. So here are our recommendations for those children who may be college bound.

  1. Take as many college courses as possible while still in high school. This can start while your student is still a junior in high school and it’s cheap. These courses are typically affiliated with a local college campus and they love starting students in their educational programs early.  Also, high school AP courses are often accepted for college credit.
  2. Start looking for scholarships while still in high school. Have them talk to their high school counselors about local scholarships. Money is out there; you have to make it your job (and your student’s job) to find the resources. We even found interest free loans from agencies in our local area that helped our children. Some schools, in conjunction with local rotary clubs and the like, have loan funds available to students.
  3. Attend a school in your state. Often there are heavy discounts for attending a school in your home state. (Obviously these are state schools only and not private schools.) Sometimes scholarships are available just for staying in state.
  4. Take your general education courses (normally the first two years) at a local community college. Community colleges are so much less expensive than universities offering the same courses. Live at home and go to community college and then attend your last two years on the campus of your choice to complete your education. It doesn’t sound as exotic, but it dramatically lowers the debt load.  As well, take advantage of on-line courses. Nine out of ten colleges now offer on-line courses at a far less expense.
  5. Take a year off to work after high school – a “gap” year. There definitely is a gap year advantage as most students do not know what they desire to study. Enter the work force and learn about labor, serving, hourly wages, taxes and saving for college. Perhaps you can locate a job that will continue even as you enter college. Two of our children were waiters at local restaurants and made good incomes in the field.
  6. Do you have a grandparent that would like to sow into their grandchildren’s education? Ask…perhaps they are waiting to help in any way possible. Start 529 Education Savings accounts into which parents and grandparents can contribute and those contributions may be state income tax-deductible.
  7. Be very aware of which loans you sign up for. When parents co-sign for loans they become responsible for those loans. You cannot predict what might happen in the future. Know that federally “subsidized” loans have deferred interest until six months after graduation. Complete your FAFSA forms as early as possible for possible state grant money.
  8. Keep working to lower your borrowed dollars. Your student should work full-time during the summer and at least part-time during the school year. There are jobs on campus and off. It all adds up and helps tremendously.
  9. Keep a close eye on all your loans, the accrual and the interest rates. A good rule of thumb is that your child would graduate from a four-year college program with no more than one year of tuition debt.  (For example: if tuition is $28K per year, your student would graduate with no more than $28K in debt.)
  10. Finally, consider a career assessment test for your son or daughter that helps them to narrow down and/or identify possible majors to study. When your child knows what they desire to study according to their gifts, wasting money on subjects that will not relate to his or her field of study will decrease.

Bonus: Teach your son or daughter to utilize a budgeting tool so they learn how to budget their money and help control their spending and saving while on campus. It might help them to not visit Starbucks daily, purchasing five-dollar drinks. Train them to use cash or debit cards and not credit cards for common purchases. Finally, check out this blog on 7 Ways To Go To College For Free.





Twenty-Five Years After a Rwandan Genocide and Genocide of Another Kind

23 06 2017

The Rwandan government is speaking and teaching there is only one people group in the nation of Rwanda. There are no longer tribes and factions. On paper and in speech this sounds fine, but there’s a deep wound in Rwanda that is still not healed.

To speak “one nation” without major heart transformation, forgiveness and blessing rather than cursing would seem like empty and hollow words. Words that mean well, spoken to move the country forward, but words, nonetheless. Unity cannot be legislated while a process of healing cannot be forfeited.

I just returned from this beautiful, clean and prosperous nation in Africa. The Rwandans from the churches that I was part of are dealing afresh with trauma as many of those persons who were incarcerated for their crimes against humanity are now being released from their prison cells. These persons are once again walking the streets and it is causing a response of fear and unrest.

There was so much blood spilled on this soil, but it seems the best answer the world or a government has is to put it out of your mind and move on. How does one reach forgiveness of those who now walk free while their fathers and close family members are in the grave? How does one obey the law of the land while at the same time find freedom from some of the deepest pain a human can endure? Genesis three and verse seventeen records God’s response to Adam concerning the ground he was working. Due to his disobedience God told him, “Cursed is the ground because of you…”

Does the blood of thousands of innocent Rwandans soaking this ground bring life or a curse to this soil?

Thank God that His Son became a curse for us (Galatians 3:13). The Son of God died on a Roman cross and was placed into the cursed ground only to be miraculously resurrected. Our King became victorious over death, hell and the grave. The soil could not hold Him. The blood He shed would break the curses of generations.

I was seated at a local church in Kigali, Rwanda waiting for my time to speak thinking about the entirety of the above and actually thanking God that my home nation has not experienced such horrific pain and suffering, at least in my lifetime.

Almost immediately I had this thought, “Not true of America, your home.” And then my next thought was concerning the present holocaust: abortion. Everyday my nation is killing babies in the womb, spilling innocent blood and everyday we walk through life as though it is a normal occurrence to be accepted. My government protects this practice and calls it “a choice.” There is no choice for the baby found living in the womb.  

According to the World Health Organization, every year in the world there are an estimated 40-50 million abortions. This corresponds to approximately 125,000 abortions per day. In America there are 1.3 million abortions a year, that’s 3,562 per day!

The definition of genocide is: The deliberate and systematic extermination of a national, racial, political, or cultural group. Between April and June of 1994, an estimated 800,000 Rwandans were killed in the space of 100 days. Since Roe vs. Wade we, America,  have realized almost 60 million killings!

Can you imagine that we have politician after politician, governors, presidents and Supreme Court members who work tirelessly to keep this crime of abortion alive? Can you imagine that people vote for these politicians dedicated to keep babies torn to pieces by the thousands per day? Rwanda’s genocide is over and has been for many years while ours continues on and on and on, day after day after day and year after year.

Governments will never find the solution for the broken human heart. Legislation cannot change our blood-saturated soil. Even our national leaders would call those leaders who kill their own people uncivilized barbaric murderers. And yet, they themselves are doing similar.

Judas, after betraying his Master, Jesus, said that he had “betrayed innocent blood.” (Matthew 27:4) The Psalmist describes this sin of shedding the innocent blood of children when he writes, “They shed innocence blood, the blood of their sons and their daughters, whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan, and the land was desecrated by their blood.” (Psalm 106:38)

Their blood desecrated the land and themselves (v.39); do we get that?

I am extremely grateful that the tide is turning and the younger generation is far more pro-life today, but I also hear the present generation say to me that they are not one-issue voters. Could this aberration, this abnormality called abortion be normal now in the mind of a believer in Jesus? Could this injustice and lack of mercy toward the unborn be a curse in our land as this innocent blood is shed daily?

In Rwanda there was a tribe dedicated to killing another tribe. And in America there is a demonic tribe dedicated to eradicating the lives of the unborn. If it’s murder to kill a child outside the womb, is it not murder to kill a child inside the womb? I agree that abortion is not the only important issue, but it is foundational to values that we hold dear. It is foundational to what we call life and it is foundational to how we respond at every other level of life.

It was Mother Teresa who said that if we do not respect life in the womb, we would not respect life at any stage of life. We experienced the first school shooting in our nation right after she spoke these words while in Washington, D.C.

The blood of the innocent cries out in Rwanda for sure, but the blood of the innocent child cries out in America too. Are we listening? Are we speaking up for them? Are we a voice for those who have no voice?

Endnote: In the time that it took you to read this there were approximately 80 abortions performed in America.








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