Tag Archive: strong marriage

apart from having one of the greatest full names known to personkind [say Lara Harler Lahr out loud or sing it to the tune of ‘Deck the Halls’] Lara and her husband Chris and their daughters Alexa, Moriah and India are good friends of ours that we met in Philly in our previous season of life…

having made some very similiar decisions to Nigel and his family in the previous post and demonstrating some true inspiration of what incarnation is really about and how perhaps more of us are called to live like this, here is Lara Harler Lahr…

from left: Moriah, Lara Harler, India, Chris, Alexa

from left: Moriah, Lara Harler, India, Chris, Alexa

We started raising our kids to be world changers before they were even conceived. The day we returned from our life changing summer in  India in 1997, we decided to live differently. It was that experience that led us to name our first daughter Alexa, which means defender of mankind. Soon after, we moved from Wilmore Kentucky to Philadelphia PA. We sold everything except what we could load into our van and bought a house in one of the poorest neighborhoods of Philadelphia 13 years ago. I knew that bringing an almost 1 year old to the ghetto of Philadelphia made no logical sense to our family or much of our friends…and there were days that I thought we were crazy as well!

Our next door neighbors fought a lot. I remember fearing for the woman next door and for those sweet boys of hers. As the screaming went on for hours on end, all we could do was pray…or so we thought…. We started talking to our neighbors a little here and there and eventually decided to take down the little gate between our two back “yards.”  We went in halfsies and bought a baby pool.  I never had any deep conversations with them during that first year, and never pried into their problems. One day Chris was on the front porch hanging out when he saw our neighbor talking to other neighbors. Afterwards she came to Chris and said “Did you see that?! I just talked to a neighbor!! I never talk to neighbors, but I have been noticing you and Lara talking to neighbors and I decided I shouldn’t be the neighborhood bitch anymore!” Then she went on to say that she had noticed our relationship and it really brought hope for a healthy marriage!!

We realized at that point that having a healthy marriage and a healthy relationship with our kids does change the world!  Especially in the area where we live…where hardly and kids have a two parent home!!

Fast forward 13 years to today. We have three daughters who go to a local charter school. We have been part of a local church in the heart of the “Badlands” of Philly.  They witness the reality of poverty, drug addiction, prostitution, incarceration, shootings, and other violence. We have had to listen to our girls share heart breaking stories that they have heard from friends at school. My younger ones love to play homeless like most kids like to play house! This is just the world they know. Because my girls are exposed to such difficult and seemingly unchangeable circumstances, we put a lot of energy into teaching them to pray.  We have had morning devotions every morning for several years now and we are teaching them to pray and believe.

Two years ago we were able to travel to India to visit with our friend and her 48 kids and the child that we have been sponsoring for years. I had been in a car accident that left me with a settlement that covered our trip, and I wanted to go there more than do anything else so that my kids could witness and be a part of the faith of these kids in India. I could go on and on with stories of how much faith these children have and how God answers their prayers. I want my girls to know that closeness with God and to have that kind of faith. My girls hearts were changed. They are being molded more and more every day by their experiences which give them love for people and a deeper reliance on the power of prayer that does change the world.

[For another exciting story on raising children as world affecting people, click here for the story of Lisa Scandrette and her family]



I still have about a week’s worth of marriage-enhancing tips/advice to share as it is such an important topic it needs great attention and also because people are so different, every marriage will be different and so different advice or thoughts or ideas will relate to different people – so trust you will find something that impacts you and your marriage [or future marriage] strongly. This collection of thoughts really struck me as powerful and effective from an old friend and playing-cards-into-the-early-hours-of-the-morning buddy, Carolyn Hugo Misdorp:

Hi Brett,

I have a couple as 1 thing is too hard.

1. Make sure that you spend time on your own relationship with God – if you’re not continually receiving God’s unconditional love and seeing things from His perspective it is really hard to love your spouse unconditionally.

2. Keep short accounts and resolve things properly. We pray together every night before we go to bed, which forces us not to let issues last for long without being resolved, as it is impossible to pray together if we’re angry with each other or hurt.

3. Be grateful for the big and little things – a simple thank you communicates a huge amount to your spouse and shows them that you are aware of the effort they are making for you and your family.

4. Pray for each other often.

I think that’s all

(Married 11 years)

to continue with this series click here…

i have purposefully tried to get different voices as i ask friends of mine who are married well for their opinions on what can help to make a marriage strong and while a lot of my friends have only been married for under ten years, it is clearly an advantage to hear from those who have walked longer and gone through much more, and so it is a privilege for me to share some words from a good friend who has been married for 31 years [longer than my wife has been alive!] so pay careful attention:

So one word of advice – oh my gosh after 30 years that is quite a question. I think my word of advice would be for those who marry someone younger than them e.g. ME MYSELF AND I!!!! If i had to go back and start again I would show my husband a lot more respect, having been independent for so long i was used to getting the job done so if it was his job and he didn’t get it done – i did it – and that’s not good. Let them do it – don’t mother them – it takes a long time to rebuild something when you don’t do it right at the beginning.

Always be a united front in front of the children – especially if there are more girls in the family and only one Dad – it’s very easy to ‘gang’ up against Dad without even realising it.

Lastly make sure when you go into marriage that if you have no clue how to budget that you get someone who is good at it to teach you and try not to start off in debt – it’s a bugger to get out of. Make sure your wife has pocket money – that she can spend how she likes – no matter how small the amount is. Like wise for the husband.

Brett hope these will be of some use – and hope we are staying nameless wherever you may or may not use this!!

[heading for 31 years]

for more thoughts on growing a strong marriage, click here…

great words of marriage wisdom from my good friend Debbie [who once taught me how to play 30 Seconds, for the second time]

Realize that in the difficult stuff you are NOT against each other. Together, as a Team, face the issue. Don’t put it in between you. LISTEN to each others NEEDS. Actively love, in words, in actions, in selflessness, in putting their needs above your own. Can I just throw in there that Theran is awesome. Husband punt done. X

[Debbie Knighton-Fitt, married for 5 years]

to continue to the part with x in the number…

And one more short yet profound look at what my best friend Rob Lloyd had to say when I asked him about what makes a strong marriage stronger?

“If you love them in the little ways, you’ll love them in the big ones too. Don’t ever stop working at it – who wants a marriage that is just “fine”?”

Rob Lloyd [married for six years]

to continue to part 8 click this clicking part.

so blah blah blah botswana trip…

we went up with our friends dreadlock mike (dreads) and nancy the twin (twin) and two of their friend couples and i could possibly blog a lot about living with all three for the week…

but the one i want to briefly write about is a couple who were mike and nancy’s groomsman and bridesmaid respectively… a physio for the sharks and a high level manager type product control person for a cement company (and quite possibly not the way around you would expect them to be but both are doing brilliantly at their jobs)

brent and zeldy. married for three years. but together for eleven as they dated for 8 before that. but what a couple. i commented to val the one night that brent is just such a model of a servant in a marriage as i constantly would see him getting drinks or food or a chair or whatever it was for his wife, and not that it was a one sided thing at all (i think i just happened to more notice when he did it cos sadly it doesn’t seem to be like such a normal thing with guys, at least to the extent that i noticed it that week) cos zeldy definitely appears to be an amazing servanthood wife as well, but it was just such an incredible thing to witness

in galatians paul writes that ‘the only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love’ and i think that describes what we saw of their relationship – both what we saw and what we heard about how they invest in other peoples relationships and make an effort spoke strongly of an active faith and reflection of God’s love to each other…

i really want to just honour them as a couple – we asked them if they fight and they said not really – they have disagreements and moments when one or both gets a little hard headed about stuff but “we worked out that stuff long ago”

in an age when strong marriages appear on the wane, it is exciting and worth honouring and uplifting and drawing attention to when we see those that are strong and worth learning from and so brent and zeldy, thank you for showing us what can and is being lived out.

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