Tag Archives: marriage

When Opposites Attract and Marry – 7 Tips for Making Your Marriage Great

My husband Dan and I are two very different people.  He likes to tell people, “She is like the movie Seven Brides for Seven Brothers and I am more like Full Metal Jacket.”   I like Antiques Roadshow and he prefers The Walking Dead.  He is very social and needs to connect with people to feel energized.  I am more introverted.  I need quiet, alone time to recharge my batteries.  So how do such opposites make a marriage work?  Glad you asked.  I have a few tips for you garnered through our 37 years of marriage.  I am writing this post to wives, but the same tips apply to husbands.

wedding dag On our wedding day, October 29, 1978.

#1.  When those moments come that cause you to look at your spouse and wonder why you ever married, make a list (write it down!) of all the qualities that attracted you to them in the first place.  They must have many great attributes because you chose to marry them, right?  Sometimes in the busyness of life, we forget to appreciate our spouse.  I have been guilty of this many times, especially as a young mom.  

#2.  Think of at least one thing each day that you appreciate about your spouse and TELL THEM.   Write a note and put it in their lunch or briefcase.  Send them a text or email.  Praise them in front of your children or others.  BUILD THEM UP!  Men especially eat this up.  They crave the love and respect of their wives.  That is the way God made them.

#3.  Encourage your spouse in their hobbies.  My husband loves guns and going to the shooting range.  I was not raised around guns and I did not feel comfortable around them when we first married.   I have gone to the range with him several times through the years (kicking and screaming) because he wanted me to learn to handle a gun.  It is not for me.  The last time we went I told him, “This is a man’s sport.  It is loud and dirty and no one picks up after themselves.”  We laughed.  Now, while I don’t enjoy shooting, I want my husband to be able to enjoy his hobby.  I encourage him to go to the range and have fun.  I even introduced him to a co-worker of mine who has since become a good friend and shooting buddy.   You have to, at least, try your spouse’s hobby a few times, then if you don’t enjoy it, you can still encourage them to pursue it on their own or with a friend.  The good news is that once your spouse sees how you encourage their hobbies, they will begin to encourage yours, too.

#4.  Accept that there is more than one way to do things, and your way (or your mom and dad’s way) is not always right.  This one tip will save you so much heartache in life.  I grew up with a dad who could fix or build anything.  When I married, I just expected that Dan would have that same ability.  It took many years for me to realize that growing up without a dad around meant Dan didn’t have the opportunity to learn those skills.  It was unfair of me to expect him to be something he was not.  I have learned that it is better to pay someone to do the things that Dan cannot do rather than impose impossible expectations on him.  My husband is happier and knows that I respect him for his many other fine qualities.

#5.  Learn to embrace imperfection.  Learn to laugh at yourself and your silly expectations.  I wish I had learned this long ago.  I’ll never forget a Christmas dinner with my husband and young children sitting around the table.  I put on some beautiful Christmas music, Nat King Cole singing, “Chestnuts roasting on an open fire…”  It was going to be the perfect Christmas dinner, just like my mom used to make.  But Dan, with his silly sense of humor, started singing, “Rudolph roasting on an open fire…”   I was so angry!  Of course, the kids loved it, but at the time, I thought he had ruined our special holiday dinner.   In truth, the only thing that ruined it was my bad attitude and silly sensibilities.  Ugh.  Sure wish I could go back and change that.

#6.  Recognize that God brought you together for a reason.  Your spouse has strengths that you don’t have.  You have strengths your spouse doesn’t have.  God brought you together for this very reason, to compliment one another.  It is a very good thing my husband and I are not alike.  I have often thought how blessed my kids are to have Dan for a dad.  His gentle, loving presence soothed many stressful moments.  He taught them (and me!) many lessons on forgiveness and grace.  He truly is a gentle giant of a man and one of God’s greatest blessings to me.

#7.  Learn to laugh at yourself.  Don’t be so sensitive and easily hurt.  One of the joys of a long shared history is that we can look back and laugh at some of the silly things we have done, or mistakes we have made.   We are secure enough in our love for one another, that we can laugh at ourselves.  Sometimes all it takes is a word to make us crack up laughing, or a song on the radio to bring us to tears.

#8.  Pray, pray and pray some more.  Make your spouse your prayer partner.  It is hard to be angry when you are praying together.  Keep God at the center of your marriage and make it your goal to serve and honor Him.  God will bless your marriage!

If you are married to your opposite, don’t give up on your marriage!  Learn to recognize and appreciate each other’s strengths and build on them.  God brought you together for a reason.

Dan and Anita 2014   Are you married to your opposite?  Let me know how you are doing.  What lessons have you learned along the way to help you in your relationship?  I look forward to  hearing from you.

5 Truths About the Cost of Divorce

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Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

You are in a hard place in your marriage. Time and again you have tried to work things out with your spouse. You are so tired of it all. Wouldn’t divorce be an easy solution? Wouldn’t it be better for the kids if my spouse and I weren’t arguing all the time? The kids would be better off if we divorced, since mom and dad would be happier, right?  Hmm. Let’s take a look at some facts about divorce.

1) The truth is divorce will cost you much more than the dollars you pay your attorney or the fees to file your paperwork in court.

The income of the custodial parent drops drastically and long term research has found that children in divorced homes are almost five times more likely to live in poverty.

If you were married for a long time, your ex-spouse may qualify for spousal support and a percentage of your retirement and social security.

2) The truth is children suffer tremendous emotional trauma when their parents divorce. This trauma can effect them far into adulthood.

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Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I know this from experience. Oh, not mine. My dear, sweet, gentle husband still struggles at times with anger over his father’s abandonment of the family and the resulting physical and emotional abuse he suffered at the hands of his mother.

His parents are both gone now, and with God’s help he has forgiven them and let the anger go. However, at times he is ambushed by overwhelming anger, triggered by a memory or some minor event, and he suffers greatly. This type of emotional pain is common with children of divorce.

“Children never get over divorce. It is a great loss that is in their lives forever. It is like a grief that is never over. All special events, such as holidays, plays, sports, graduations, marriages, births of children, etc., bring up the loss created by divorce as well as the family relationship conflicts that result from the ‘extended family’ celebrating any event.” Stephen Earrl

3) The truth is that children of divorce are forced to grow up before they should. The most important core relationship in their life has been rent asunder, and many times the children of divorce are left to sort things out for themselves. They often blame themselves for the divorce.

My husband says, “A divorce involving children is analogous to throwing a stone into the middle of a pond…those concentric rings, the ramifications of that one decision, reach out years and even decades.”

4) The truth is that children of divorce often have difficulties in gaining and maintaining close relationships.

Many adult children of divorce make poor choices in relationships, or give up quickly when problems arises. Some are reluctant to spend emotional capital and risk being hurt again. The victims of divorce grow exponentially through the years from family member to family member.

5) The truth is that once the diminished paychecks and standard of living become the norm, and the loneliness and difficulty of parenting children alone sets in, many wish they had tried harder in their marriage.

Some divorced couples eventually remarry one another. For those that marry the second time to a different spouse, they often find they have the same issues in their second marriage that they had in the first. The divorce rate for second marriages is higher than for first marriages.

“Scientific literature suggests that a good three quarters of people who divorce regret it.” Dr. Laura

The great news is that there are so many marriage resources available to help you.

Put God at the center of your marriage. Ask Him to help you love your spouse. Try to find and praise the good qualities your see in your mate. Your local church and pastor are great resources and eager to help you. Many local churches host Bible Studies on marriage and family life or Couple Retreats. Several wonderful organizations that promote and foster marriage are: Focus on the Family, National Institute of Marriage, Marriage Today with Pastor Jimmy Evans and Family Life Today with Dennis Rainey. These are just a few I respect and admire. Check with your health care insurance or your employer as they may provide for much needed counseling.

Remember, many people have stood where you stand today. It is difficult, but with God’s help your marriage can be saved and become a marriage that lasts a lifetime.

This post is not intended as a condemnation for anyone who is divorced. It is solely intended to present the truth about divorce and the lifelong effects on the children of divorce as a cautionary warning to those considering divorce.

If you or your children are in physical danger in your marriage, your must remove them and yourself to a safe place immediately!  Call the Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-7233 or contact your local police department.  Your first priority if you are a parent is your children’s safety.  First, get yourself and your children to a safe place.  Then, if you choose to work on your marriage you can do so with help and support from advocates who are familiar with your problems.  NEVER allow your child or yourself to be physically abused.

Treasure in the Dust

My hubby and I spent some time working around the house yesterday.  We each had a few things we wanted to accomplish.  I worked on my container garden and he worked on cleaning up his man cave (aka the garage).  Dan plowed through lots of boxes and disposed of old papers and junk.  Then, he came across this dusty treasure.

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We hadn’t seen it in years.  An old 45 recording of Ed Ames singing, “My Cup Runneth Over”.  Now, this was an old song back when I first heard it in 1978, so many of you have probably never heard it before.  You can listen to it here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xvaQisHV8jw.

As a young bride, I woke almost every morning to the sound of this song being played on the stereo by my husband.  We lived in a tiny apartment thousands of miles from family and home.  I was insecure and lonely.  Dan didn’t know it at the time, but this song was ministering to my heart.

One of the benefits of remaining committed to your spouse for a lifetime, is the joy of shared memories…a shared history.   I think the message of love in this song has been a constant thread through our lives.  Oh, it hasn’t all been wonderful.  Blending the lives of two flawed human beings in difficult. We have had our tough times, financial difficulties, sickness, and moments when we felt like we didn’t even like one another very much.  But, looking back we can see that through all those times God has been working in our lives and knitting our hearts together for eternity.

No matter how long you have been married, you can commit to having a lifetime marriage.  Choose to love and honor God, and then do all in your power to show God’s love and grace to your spouse.  Allow God to work in and through you as you minister to your spouse.  You will never regret it.  Soon, you will say with the psalmist, “My cup runneth over”.

How about you?  Do you have a special song that speaks to your heart?

5 Resources for True Intimacy in Marriage

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If you want true intimacy and lasting fulfillment in your marriage, don’t look to books like Fifty Shades of Grey or sexually explicit novels.  They only work to distort and destroy God’s plan for sexual fulfillment in marriage.  Here is a resource list of books to help you find the lifelong love and fulfillment God designed for your marriage.

Intended for Pleasure by Ed Wheat, M.D.  –  “This book has helped more than a million people understand and enjoy the gift God intended for pleasure.”

Lifelong LOVE AFFAIR, How to Have a Passionate and Deeply Rewarding Marriage by Jimmy Evans – “God didn’t create marriage to frustrate men and women or make them feel inadequate. He created this covenant relationship to meet our deepest needs and desires. He created marriage to be filled with passion, purpose and excitement. Even better, God created marriage to last a lifetime…learn how to embrace God’s dream for your marriage, how to cultivate romance and fun, and how to fulfill your spouse’s spiritual, emotional, and sexual needs. Transform your marriage into a lifelong love affair!”

the key to sexual fulfillment in marriage, creating an atmosphere of sexual pleasure in your marriage  by Jimmy Evans – “God intends for married couples to enjoy sex! In fact, He designed this experience to bring tremendous pleasure and fulfillment to marriage…Jimmy Evans shatters the lies of the media where sex is concerned. And he reveals the powerful truths of God’s perfect plan for sex within marriage. Your sex life will dramatically improve as you and your spouse: Understand the Sexual Differences Between Men and Women; Eliminate the Common Enemies of Sexual Fulfillment; and Work to Create an Atmosphere of Sexual Pleasure.”

Sexual Intimacy in Marriage by Sandra Glahn, ThM and William Cutrer, M.D. – “Every couple has those questions they don’t know how or whom to ask! Sexual Intimacy in Marriagediscusses the basics, like the definition of marriage, and the not-so-basic topics, such as achieving sexual pleasure and biblically “OK” sexual activity. This highly acclaimed, medically and biblically accurate book covers all the bases about sex in marriage with a sensitivity and frankness that every couple will appreciate.”

God on Sex: The Creator’s Idea About Love by Daniel Akin –  ” Having lead over 300 marriage seminars across the United States, he is in touch with the distorted contemporary perceptions of sex. But the Bible is not silent on this subject. As a matter of fact it has much to say. As the creator of sex, God makes clear the conditions for sex at its best . Akin sets the many and varied misconceptions about sex alongside God’s design to reveal His intention and blessing for this vital dimension of life.”

Now for three resources that warn of the dangers of seeking sexual fulfillment outside of God’s design for marriage.

The Fantasy Fallacy – Exposing the Deeper Meaning Behind Sexual Thoughts by Shannon Ethridge –   “Many are looking to sexual and emotional fantasies as avenues to fulfillment.  Our fantasies, however, are not reliable guides into the future—they are actually rocky road maps from our past. Best-selling author Shannon Ethridge theorizes, “Fantasies are simply the brain’s way of trying to heal itself from unresolved tragedies and traumas. We mentally compartmentalize our pain to make room for pleasure.”

Every Man’s Battle: Winning the War on Sexual Temptation One Victory at a Time by Stephen Arterburn – “Shattering the perception that men are unable to control their thought lives and roving eyes, Every Man’s Battle shares the stories of dozens who have escaped the trap of sexual immorality and presents a practical, detailed plan for any man who desires sexual purity-perfect for men who have fallen in the past, those who want to remain strong today, and all who want to overcome temptation in the future.”

Every Woman’s Battle: Discovering God’s Plan for Sexual and Emotional Fulfillment by Shannon Ethridge and Stephen Arterburn  “When does an affair begin? Not with the first forbidden touch…but with the first forbidden thought. Unexpectedly, you find yourself enjoying a powerful emotional bond with another man. You feel like you matter to someone again. And the door you thought was locked so firmly–the door to sexual infidelity–is suddenly ajar.  The only way women can survive the intense struggle for sexual integrity is by guarding not just your body, but your mind and heart as well.”

Why Fifty Shades of Grey Destroys True Intimacy

Every day at my job I see the destructive influence of pornography and violence on women and children.  I see it in the police reports and protection orders that come across my desk daily.  Real people.  Real faces.  Real lives destroyed by someone else’s desire for sexual gratification through violence and intimidation.

I am here to tell you that true intimacy does not bring pain.

True intimacy does not bring shame or guilt.

True intimacy is not selfish, but places the well-being and pleasure of your partner above your own.

God designed sexual pleasure and intimacy to be fulfilled in marriage between one man and one woman.  It is a picture of the spiritual intimacy and oneness that God wants to have with each one of us.  This intimacy is tender and imparts great value on the other person, never degradation or unworthiness.

Sexual violence in any form destroys women and will destroy your marriage and family.

Sexual fantasy and pornography lead to lust.  There is a huge difference between lust and true intimacy.

Pornography and sexual fantasy are like heroin.  You start using a small amount and tell yourself you have your habit under control.  This is a lie from hell.  Like an addict your brain needs more and more erotic stimulation, degradation and violence to be satisfied.   This destructive cycle leads to heartbreak and ruined lives.

You may have been told that Fifty Shades of Grey is harmless and will spice up your love life.  I caution you that in reality you are exposing your mind and heart to destructive fantasy that is degrading to women and will destroy the intimacy of your marriage.

Please do not bring this book or movie into your home.  As with any book or movie, ask yourself, “Would I want my son or daughter to have access to this material?”  More importantly, would you want your daughter to experience this kind of sexual violence?  Would you want your son to inflict pain and violence on his partner?

God’s design for sexual intimacy in marriage is a beautiful thing.  It is designed for pleasure and oneness.  In my next post I will provide a list of books that will help you find true intimacy and fulfillment in your marriage.

11 Tips For Making Your Marriage Last a Lifetime

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Image courtesy of Boykung at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The ring is on…the ceremony is over…the guests have left. Now what?

11 Tips For Making Your Marriage Last a Lifetime:

1) Choose to forgive. Holding grudges is TOXIC to a relationship. Be the first to ask forgiveness. A strong person is not afraid to admit when they are wrong.

2) Choose love. Don’t let small irritations cause you to forget all the wonderful qualities your spouse has that made you fall in love with them in the first place. Make a list of their good qualities and focus on those.

3) Be a servant to one another. Treat your spouse with the same kindness and graciousness that you would treat a guest in your home. Let your home be a haven of peace for you and your spouse.

4) Live within your means. Debt brings anxiety and kills marriages. Sit down together and make a budget. Vow to live within the constraints of your budget.

5) Make time for one another. Keep your relationship fresh and alive by having date nights once a week or once a month. Set your cell phone aside, or better yet, turn it off and focus all your attention on your spouse.

6) Be supportive and encouraging. The world is full of people who want to tear us down. If your spouse works outside the home, they probably deal with negative people all day long. Let them know that you will always be there for them with words of encouragement and love.

7) Commit to one another for life. Determine never to consider divorce as an option.

8) Share similar goals. Talk about your dreams for the future. Work on them together. You can’t reach those goals if you are pulling in opposite directions.

9) Share a hobby. Shared memories are the best. Find something you both enjoy doing and make time to do it.

10) Pray together. I can’t think of anything else that has meant more to keeping our marriage strong. It is hard to be angry at someone when you are praying together.

11) Put God first in your marriage. Faith is the glue that has held us together. When our love for one another has waned, our love for God has commanded us to love one another. God has never failed us.

Truth be told, my husband, Dan Morrison, has taught me these lessons over the 35 years of our marriage. Growing up I was blessed to learn love, self-sacrifice and devotion watching my mother care for my disabled sibling. I knew love. My parents were married for over 64 years. I understood faithfulness and commitment. What I didn’t understand was unconditional love and forgiveness. My father (a wonderful, but flawed human being) was a perfectionist for whom my siblings and I could never do anything right. He had trouble admitting when he was wrong and asking forgiveness. His standards were so high, none of us could ever hope to attain them, and neither could he. He was harder on himself than anyone else. Critical words do much damage to tender spirits. It took many years of God working on my heart and mind, and Dan continually speaking love and encouragement in my heart, to crack my shell. I am here to attest that God can change hearts and minds. We have a strong marriage today because God has worked on both our hearts and given us more love for one another every day. Don’t give up!

10 Inexpensive Date Night Ideas

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Keeping your love alive, especially after you begin having children, takes a lot of work. In your quest to be the best parent, don’t forget to take time as a couple to nurture your love and appreciation for one another.

The first thing you have to do is line up another couple with children and swap childcare once a month (or more often) so each couple can go on a date without babysitter fees.

Here are ten inexpensive date night ideas to get you started:

1) Visit a museum. In the area where I live, the Seattle Art Museum, the Museum of Flight, Burke Museum, the Asian Art Museum and many others have one free admission day every month. Take advantage of this awesome opportunity to soak up the arts.

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2) Visit local farmers market. Pike Place Market in Seattle is the ultimate farmers market, but many cities have great ones, some all year round.

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3) Check out a local waterfront park. Find one that allows beach fires, like Alki Beach or Golden Gardens Park in Seattle. Come early in the day and bring a picnic lunch. Fly kites. Sit and watch the sunset and toast marshmallows over the fire.

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4) Take a hike. Explore your local parks and hikes. Wallace Falls in Gold Bar, WA was a family favorite for us. There is beauty in every area of the country. Most of us never explore the parks we fund with our taxes.

5) Attend a free concert. The newspaper frequently lists free concerts in the park, or other venues. We have attended free Youth Symphony concerts (excellent!), the US Marine Band, the US Navy Band and many others of high quality. Keep your eyes open for free events.

6) Tour local landmarks. The Ballard Locks is a favorite destination in our area. Many places offer free tours. Bring a picnic lunch and spend the day.

7) Attend an author book reading/signing at a local book store. Sit in the coffee shop and people watch.

8) Learn to dance. Many local dance organizations offer a free one hour class before the dance. Watch your local newspaper in the events section. Every style of dance is represented.

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9) Go stargazing. You can do this in your own backyard on a clear night. If you are lucky enough to live in Seattle, you can go to the University of Washington Jacobsen Observatory for free public shows on the first and third Wednesdays of the month. How cool is that?

10) Volunteer together. Find an organization you both believe in and volunteer some time together. Helping others forces you to take your eyes off your own troubles and focus on someone else. What a great way to build unity in your marriage while making a positive difference in your world.

The best thing is that this list could be endless. All you have to do is google “free activities in (your city)”.

Do you have a favorite inexpensive date night idea? I’d love to hear your ideas.

15 Ways to Affair Proof your Marriage

An affair means death to a marriage. Here are some easy ways for you to affair proof your marriage.

1. Respect your spouse and speak highly of them to others.

2. Compliment your spouse in front of your children and other adults. Children learn how to treat others by watching how their parents interact. Show them love, mercy and forgiveness.

3. Make a decision that you are committed to your spouse no matter what. Make the decision to love them every day. Find something about them to appreciate and admire. Compliment them on it.

4. Let go of offenses. Don’t keep a record of wrongs. Someone once said, “A good marriage is the union of two good forgivers.”

5. Be available to meet the physical needs of your spouse. This can be difficult in the years when small children or careers sap your strength. Make it a priority to be sure you are meeting the needs of your spouse for intimacy.

6. Arrange to have a date night without kids at least once a month. Date night does not have to be expensive. Arrange to swap child care with another couple and then take a walk, go to the beach, or buy an ice cream cone and sit at the park and talk.

7. Write love notes and leave them where your spouse can find them. Send your spouse a text or email during the day letting them know you are thinking of them and praying for their day.

8. Pray together. Make this a priority.

9. Put God first in your marriage. Ask God to help you find ways to honor and love your spouse.

10. Don’t make your children the priority in your marriage. Children are important, but your relationship with your spouse is more important.

11. Say “no” to porn. This is toxic to your relationship and to your sexual intimacy. Stand firm and do not allow this in your home or to be accessed on your computers or television.

12. Pay attention to warning signs in your marriage.

13. Don’t spend private time with people of the opposite sex. Don’t put yourself in a place of temptation.

14. No flirting with someone of the opposite sex. There is no such thing as innocent flirting.

15. Take care of yourself and your appearance. Show them you care enough about them that you want to look nice just for them.

Marriage takes a lot of work, but it is worth it. Commit yourself to building a strong and lasting marriage. Your children will thank you for it.

Give Yourself Some Grace – letting go of the guilt

Notice-No-Fishing-Allowed-Sign-K-7896 Even though my children are grown now, I still suffer moments of guilt and sorrow over things I wish I had done differently as a parent. It is easy to look back with hindsight and see all the mistakes we made or choices that we regret. My husband and I had the best intentions as parents, but as fallible human beings we made mistakes. Every parent does.

But what do you do with the guilt?

When our children were growing up, if my husband or I blew it with them, we took the time to apologize right away. Whether it was losing our temper, or saying or doing something hurtful, once we realized we had been wrong, we asked forgiveness for our behavior. We did it sincerely and honestly. Deal with the sin right away and confess it to God and your children. Pray together and ask God help you be the parent He wants you to be. Like our Heavenly Father, children are always ready to forgive and give you another chance.

1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

I have had people tell me that you should NEVER ask forgiveness of your children. I could not disagree more. Asking forgiveness from your children does not make you weak. You are setting an example for them that when you offend someone you ask forgiveness. This is a life lesson that will serve them well. Your children will respect you for your honesty, as long as your apology is heartfelt and they see that you really do try to change your behavior.

But what if after confessing your sin the guilt comes back? These thoughts are not from God. The Bible tells us that God not only forgives our sin, but He forgets our sin! In Jeremiah 31:34 it says, “…For I will forgive their iniquity and their sin I will remember no more.”

Corrie ten Boom had this to say about the subject, “When we confess our sins, God casts them into the deepest ocean, gone forever … Then God places a sign out there that says No Fishing Allowed!'”

When thoughts of guilt assail you for something that you long ago confessed, remember that these thoughts do not come from God. Instead of dwelling on past regrets and mistakes, thank God for forgiving you of your sin. Ask Him to help you to continue to grow more Christ-like. Thank Him for His grace and learn to extend that same grace to those around you, especially your spouse and your children.

God does not want you to live in guilt over past sins. Jesus came to set us free from sin and guilt. You can joyfully press on in life secure in the knowledge of God’s forgiveness and grace. Phil 3:13, “…this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before.”