5 Heart-Softening Words

Couple holding hands

Little Josiah, from my recent book, Josiah’s Fire: Autism Stole His Words, God Gave Him a Voice, inspires thousands with his great wisdom.

I especially love one of the things Josiah shared with his mom, my coauthor, Tahni: “If you love the child you have, you’ll have the child you love.” The more I considered it, the more I realized this same truth truth could also apply to marriage.

If you love the spouse you have, you’ll have the spouse you love.

Dwight and I recently had an opportunity to give marriage counseling to a guy on the phone who was at the end of his rope.

It still amazes me that God would lead us to help others at a time when we were enduring the most difficult test of our married life. In September I was diagnosed with spasmodic torticollis (cervical dystonia), which is why you haven’t heard from me in awhile. Well, that and the fact I was finishing Josiah’s Fire and a devotional called The Good Gift Giver (which will be offered across the globe when Tahni speaks on Sid Roth’s March broadcast of It’s Supernatural.)

Dwight and I talked with the hurting man late into the night. After we talked about how years ago God brought resurrection life into our own suffocating marriage, we told him a story we heard somewhere along the way:

Matt thought his marriage was over until someone presented him with a simple idea that might help. “Every day I want you to ask Tina, ‘how can I serve you?’”

Feeling like he had nothing to lose, Matt decided to give it a try. When he asked his wife the question, it took a minute for her to get over the shock. Finally she piped up, “Ok… how about doing the laundry?”

He did it without complaint, and the next morning when he asked his still-surprised wife the same question, she answered, “how about clean the garage?” It took him two hours but he did it.

This went on for several days with him asking, her answering, and him lovingly stepping up to the plate in a way he’d never done in the past. Finally she couldn’t take it anymore; and the next time Matt asked his new favorite question, she shook her head. “No, no, it’s my turn. How can I serve you?”

Change had already begun. What had started as words on his lips moved to her heart, softening it while breathing puffs of hope.

Not to sound overly simplistic in light of all the extremely difficult marriages out there (we understand that things don’t always turn out the way we hope); but the truth is, when we exercise selfless love, powerful things do happen, and we undoubtedly make room for God to move in amazing ways.

By any chance does this remind you of anything? How about when Papa God first demonstrated his love by reaching out to us? He wooed us in, eagerly determined we would one day respond to his love and let ourselves be progressively shaped into that same image of love.

We love him, because He first loved us. 1 John 4:19

Take the relationship challenge: Who could you love and serve more deeply today?

I encourage you to pick someone who might not even deserve it (because who does?). Love on that person in an unprecedented way and thank God in advance for imparting change in that person’s hearts and yours.

Thoughts, questions, prayer requests, stories? Hey, I’d love to hear about it when you drop me a line in the comment section. And stay thankful, ok? Even if your head is on crooked (like mine at the moment), remember God is still on the throne and he inhabits the praises of his people.

He’ll never waste your pain, and when you give it to him, he’ll shine love beams through you in unexpected ways and places.


  1. That’s a beautiful Popcorn Miracles. Thanks for sharing. Might need this story for the 2nd Popcorn Miracles book. Will be in touch.

  2. Thanks for sharing this, Cheryl….encouraging and convicting.

    We met at Strawberry Lake.

    Are you on FB?

    Ginni Busche

  3. Excellent. I have been thinking along these lines myself lately, wondering how I can be a better wife, mother, daughter, etc… Just ask, “How can I serve you today?” Thanks for the reminder.

    • Hey Lauren! It’s great that you’ve been asking yourself how you can grow in those areas of loving your family members like that. Thanks for your comment. God is smiling at the desires of your heart!

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