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1. Why did you write Messy Beautiful Love and what do you hope it accomplishes?

I wrote it to encourage women in their marriages, and to remind them that they’re not alone on this journey. We all struggle in this life, and if we haven’t yet it’s inevitable that we will. That’s why it’s imperative that we equip ourselves by studying the gospel and keeping our marriage in prayer. Love is a beautiful thing, but the reality is that life is messy at times. When we live out our roles in marriage as God ordained them to be we discover joy and peace unlike anything else.

2. How is Messy Beautiful Love different from other books on marriage and relationships?

Because I’ve been through a lot in my own marriage, I understand the importance of grace and forgiveness. I offer hope to women where hope would be otherwise lost. Can a broken marriage be repaired? Can a stale relationship be revived? Messy Beautiful Love answers those questions with a resounding “Yes!”

3. Why is this book important and relevant in today’s culture?

What we’re seeing too often is a society that’s tossing marriage aside. This world is cynical when it comes to marriage, believing most won’t last. And those that do last? Well, surely one spouse or the other must be a miserable soul. That’s what we tend to see when we look at the standard this world has to offer.

God’s standard, on the other hand, is rich. He offers abundant life to those who are exercised by faith. We serve a God who’s the same yesterday, today and forever. The beauty of the marriage covenant hasn’t changed over time—our view of it has. Those who give up too soon are missing out on the blessings that come with staying the course.

4. What do you believe is the largest contributor to today’s increasing divorce rates?

People often say that they’re unhappy because they’ve grown apart. I believe that couples will grow apart if they do  not love each other daily and deliberately. True love doesn’t happen by accident. It’s deliberate, it’s intentional, it’s purposeful, and in the end it’s always worth it. Some days love is messy and all we want to do is give up, but those who work through love together reap the benefits of beautiful long-lasting love.

5. Why do you think it’s important for women and men to “remove the idea of divorce” from their minds?

First and foremost, we’re told in Malachi 2:16 that God hates divorce. It’s no surprise when we see the ripple effect that this division can bring. Families are deeply affected by the choices we make.

In some cases it’s necessary (and biblically acceptable) for a woman to leave her husband, but in many cases it’s not. It’s a choice to take the easiest road and the one most travelled.

The difficult road is paved with forgiveness and grace. It’s exercising patience with a difficult husband. It’s being kind to the unkind. It’s walking in humility for the good of your marriage.

A self-centered life offers a temporal high, but those who walk in humility discover a sense of joy and peace unlike anything else.

6. What is the main piece of advice you would give women in today’s world, who want to approach their marriage differently?

Women in today’s world are exposed to temptation on a constant basis. The Internet is a way of life for most people.

Our ancestors never experienced anything remotely close to what we are living with today. The outside world—along with its opinions, temptations, and distractions—has made its way into our homes.

I can’t tell you the number of times that women have confided in me about the struggles they’re facing online. It can mess with your mind when a seemingly perfect man (and I do mean seemingly) is paying attention to you, or waiting to chat.

We need to be on guard more than ever before, protecting our thoughts, our children, our faith, and our marriages.

7. In Chapter 4, you say that marriage isn’t 50/50. Can you explain what you mean by that?

It’s a beautiful thing when two people love as they should love. When each person is putting into the marriage more than they’re hoping to gain. But we all have days, weeks–and for some it’s been years–when we feel that we’re not being loved as we should be. What then? The truth of the matter is that the return on our investment doesn’t always come from our husband, but it always comes from the Lord. We have that promise. When we put our hope in Him we have a guarantee that He rewards those who are faithful.

Love is a gift, not a swap of emotions. If we hand over a gift with one hand open while the other is closed, the gift is lost in exchange, therefore the best thing we can do for our marriage is offer each other 100%.

8. You mention that financial struggles are becoming a prominent issue in families. Why do you think that is, and what do you think is the best approach to handling these problems?

There is so much information out there to help couples who want to sit down together and create a budget. I think that one of the most important steps in doing this is to accept the fact that there will be sacrifices to make, but to also remember that good things come to those who choose wisely today.

Michael and I had some crazy tough years where we struggled just to make ends meet. I even remember freezing our charge cards for a year. I literally froze them in a Tupperware container. It stopped us from impulse shopping. If we really needed them, we’d have to wait for the thaw. And as it turns out we did just fine without them. 

9. In marriage, it’s normal for each partner to have certain expectations– whether or not you’ll have kids, where you’ll live, who will contribute to the bills, etc. But over time, things change: jobs are lost, kids grow up, moves are necessary – and sometimes, it’s hard to adjust. Why do you think it’s important for people to go into marriage with an open mind about change?

I went into marriage with a long list of expectations of who Michael should be and what our future should look like.

Things took a different road when Michael started running his own company. I was home with four kids while he worked long hours. Rather than exercising patience and kindness the way that God calls me to love, I let bitterness creep in and it grew over time to the point where it took over my thoughts and led me to sin.

The thing is that we all change. We grow up, we face hardships, we enjoy good times, and we mature from experience. Love is beautiful, but it can be messy at times when you’re facing a change you never expected.

If we look at the definition of love as found in 1 Corinthians 13 however, we see that it “Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.” (verse 7)

That’s a life lesson that we should all take to heart!

10. Our lives are so full of distractions… careers, children, reality TV! What are some ways couples can prioritize each other, and keep their love alive over the years? 

We all have seasons, which require more from us than others. Raising a family, starting a business, planting a church, moving across country, or taking care of aging parents are just a few of the things that can distract us and pull us apart. The important thing is to communicate with each other during these times, and to assure each other that each season will pass.

Depending on just how busy you are, intimacy may slow down a bit. But keep in mind, slowing down and eliminating that part of your relationship are two different things. Never ignore the marriage bed, and don’t place it on the back shelf where you forget about it. Just like anything else that’s a priority in your life, you may need to examine your schedule to see what you can cut and what you must keep.

11. Who do you think will benefit most from Messy Beautiful Love, and why?

Women who are seeking more for their marriage will benefit most from my book. More than a story or simply feel-good information, Messy Beautiful Love challenges women to grow in love by putting Christ at the center of marriage.

I’m a cracked vessel held together by grace, whose deepest desire is to encourage you in your marriage. I don’t have it all figured out, and I doubt that I ever will, but I’m learning to lean on the One who does. I’m learning that when I follow His wisdom in lieu of my own, I’m walking in peace, and that peace floods into my marriage. 

12. Your book is called, Messy Beautiful Love. Can you tell us why you chose that name?

We all have expectations when we’re stepping into marriage. And if you’re like most women, those expectations are high, but the reality is that life gets messy. Whether it’s financial problems, sickness, aging parents, or an unhappy spouse, sooner or later we’ll have a mess to clean up.

But when we surrender our relationship to God in obedience to His will, we experience the blessings of marriage as He intended.  That’s a beautiful thing.

13. The book starts and ends with prayer. Why is that important to you?

Have you ever heard the saying, “All we can do now is pray?” Unfortunately that’s an attitude that’s common in our society—if everything else fails, let’s turn to God, it’s worth a try.

What we fail to remember time and again is this,

“[God] is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us.”
We serve a God who created the moon and the countless number of stars. We are intimately connected with Him, and He is intimately connected with our lives. He knows the situation (and is at work in our lives) before we breath the first word in prayer.  He loves us more than we’ll ever know and He wants the best for our marriage.

There is power in prayer because there is power in the One who loves us.

14. In chapter one you talk about being called into ministry and not feeling good enough. What advice can you give to other women who don’t feel worthy of God’s calling?

I’d remind her that none of us are.  Not one.

We definitely need to be walking in faith according to God’s will. That’s a must. But our righteousness must be found in God alone.

For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. – Philippians 2:13

God uses those who are broken to display His grace. When we are weak, He is strong. The entire church was built by many who “shouldn’t be in ministry” by the standards of this world.

A wise friend recently said, “Low seasons give us new perspectives, keep climbing lower.”

Humility is an important part of ministry as our goal is to be nothing but the message of the gospel Christ within us.

15. We’ve all heard the saying, “It takes two to make a marriage work.”  What would you say to the woman (or in many cases the man) who feels like they are doing all of the work in the marriage?

Absolutely. And if you are praying for your marriage than you can be certain without a doubt that you aren’t the only one doing the work. God plus you equals two. You’re not in this alone.

I’m not saying that it’s a good place to be. Absolutely not. But the reality is that some marriages are that way. Some people keep giving and giving without getting anything from their spouse in return, which is why it’s so important that while we’re down on our knees praying, our hope is steadfast on the Lord.

All good things come through Him and by Him. He is the one who rewards our faith.

God doesn’t expect us to do all of the work. He just wants us to be there beside Him while He’s doing His.

16. In your book you say, “Love starts with the preparation of a graceful heart.” Can you expand on that?

I’ve come to learn that grace is a big part of marriage. As much as we love our husbands they will let us down and in turn we’ll let them down.

The Bible reminds us that love keeps no record of wrongs.

[Love] does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. – 1 Corinthians 13:5

In reading that, you realize that this attitude closes the door on resentment, and opens another for grace. If I were to pinpoint the one thing that led me to almost destroy my marriage, it would be that I was keeping a record of wrongs. And the very thing that transformed my marriage to the place it is now is that Michael didn’t keep a record of wrongs. While I was at my very worst, he gave me his best.

That’s the power of grace.

17. There are some that will say, “Love has to go both ways. I’m giving and giving, and I’m not getting anything back.” What encouragement could you offer someone who’s feeling this way?

The unfortunate truth is that some marriages are tougher than others. It can be so discouraging to watch other marriages enjoying the mutual love and respect you don’t have. But the one thing that we all must remember is this: the best rewards don’t come from the ones that we love–they come from our Father in Heaven.

Sometimes it doesn’t go both ways which can make life challenging. Jesus washed the feet of the man who would betray him, just hours before His death. He broke bread with one who would deny him that very night.

He didn’t die because we were righteous or deserving, He died to please His Father in Heaven who rewards those who seek him.

And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him. – Hebrews 11:6

18. A reoccurring thought in your book is how marriage should reflect the covenant of Jesus Christ and the church. Why is that important?

In Ephesians 5:22-27, we find this direction for both husbands and wives:
Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.23 For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.24 Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.

And so we see that marriage is a union that reflects this covenant. By living our lives in accordance with God’s plan for marriage we have the opportunity to be a testimony to others of God’s love. We have the opportunity to bring glory to God through the way that we live.

19. In chapter seven you say “Dig into God and if you’re feeling let down and discouraged, dig deeper yet.” I agree. Do you have any practical suggestions for personal Bible study?

The Internet offers us so many tools for Bible study that it easier than ever to dig deep. I remember the old days when I would lug a giant concordance to the table and spend hours flipping through it to find the Greek meaning behind the words. Today we literally have this information at our fingertips.

One of my favorite ways to study is to read through a book like Romans. I pull out all of the key words while I’m reading and I look them up in the Strong’s Concordance. I’ll also flip over to Matthew Henry’s commentary every once in a while to get his take on things.

I’m currently using Logos Bible software which makes all of this easy for me since it’s all in one program. I can read my Bible with these resources side by side.

For someone who is looking for something a little lighter, I’d suggest trying the SOAP method. I first learned about it through Good Morning Girls, although I’m not sure if my version is exactly the same. It calls for a little journaling as you record the following:

S – Scripture: Highlight the scripture that you want to meditate on.
O – Observation: Journal your thoughts. What are some personal observations?
A – Application: How can you apply this to your life? Are there changes you’d like to make? Is God prompting you to focus on something?
P – Prayer: Pray before you start reading and again at the end.

20. In the book you point out that a relationship with God is more than a “Get out of Hell Free Card.” Why do you think it’s important to have a personal relationship with God here and now?

God wants to indwell in us here and now. This isn’t our best life by any stretch of the imagination, but there are blessings in abundance for those who walk according to the Spirit of God.

Learning to lean is a life-long process, but it’s the best thing we’ll ever do. God is walking beside us through each trial  we face.

He says, “For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matt. 11:30), but if we don’t hand Him that burden we’ll continue to carry the weight.

Learning to “let go and let God” isn’t easy. It’s an act of faith that we have to put into practice each and every day.

21. Chapter 11 is called, “Seize the Day and Capture the Joy.” Some people look at “choosing joy” as faking a smile, or pretending you’re happy when you’re really not. How is it different, or is it?

Being thankful when you’re not feeling it is a way of showing God that you trust Him to handle the situation. It’s a way of showing Him that you’re willing to let go of your anger and frustration and turn the wheel over to Him. It’s also a way to exercise patience by trading instant gratification for long-term fulfillment.

The problem with most marriages today is that couples aren’t willing to trust God for their future or walk the sacrificial path that leads to a deeper commitment.

People want happiness and they want it now!

The sad thing about happiness is that it’s fleeting. Things make us happy, people make us happy, and easy relationships make us happy.

For a time.

The moment our circumstances change, people disappoint us, or the relationship gets tough, we’re right back where we started—unhappy.

Joy and peace are quite different.

Consider the life of Mother Theresa. She was a missionary for over 45 years with a vow to give wholeheartedly to poor. Rather than opt for a comfy life, she chose a life of poverty saying, “As to my calling, I belong to the world. As to my heart, I belong entirely to the Heart of Jesus.”

I love that, don’t you?

This same woman who suffered much for the people collaborated on the book titled, “The Joy in Loving: A Guide to Daily Living.”

The reason why she found joy in the midst of poverty and pain is because joy isn’t something that’s dependent upon our surroundings. It springs up from within and moves its way out.

22. You say, “Loving our husbands through the hard times, through the valleys, and when they are most unlovable, reveals the gospel in our lives.’ Can you expand on that for us?

The Bible tells us, “Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives.” – 1 Peter 3:1, NIV

We’ve read the scriptures that tell us to submit to our husbands, but here Peter is instructing women to be submissive to unbelieving husbands in particular. It’s important to note this because being submissive to someone who is gentle and kind is easy, but being submissive to someone who frustrates you requires patience and sacrifice on your part.

Let me interject here before I expand on this: I’m not talking about abuse. In some situations it’s vital that we get help before we get hurt. If someone is in an abusive situation, they should speak to a wise counselor who can offer them sound biblical advice, and guide them safely.

What we are talking about here are difficult, unloving, people. Whether it’s in our home or our workplace, Peter addresses this very issue saying that it is commendable when we bear suffering for the sake of our faith. Why? Because true love is not only patient and kind, it doesn’t get angry when others do it wrong. It bears all things, always hopes and always perseveres (paraphrased from 1 Corinthians 13).

When we love, the way God loves, we walk by the Spirit in obedience to our faith. That obedience is a gift that we offer our Lord.

For it is commendable if someone bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because they are conscious of God. ~ 1 Peter 2:19, NIV

23. Final thoughts?

Matthew wrote that our Savior is “meek and lowly in heart,” and His “yoke is easy” and His “burden is light” (11:29–30).

I’m a cracked vessel held together by grace, whose deepest desire is to encourage you in your marriage. I don’t have it all figured out, and I doubt that I ever will, but I’m learning to lean on the One who does. I’m learning that when I follow His wisdom in lieu of my own, I’m walking in peace, and that peace floods into my marriage.

 

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Author Bio

Darlene Schacht is the well-known Time Warp Wife whose purpose in ministry is to encourage wives to put God first in their lives. She inspires us to love our husbands and children, and to be good homemakers. In doing so, we bring glory to God. God has created each one of us with a purpose, which is first and foremost to glorify Him. When we live as Jesus lived in obedience to the Bible, we bring glory to God, bring peace to our home, and draw closer to our husbands in the process. 

Darlene is an Evangelical Christian who has been married to her husband Michael for over twenty-five years. They have four children and two adorable pugs. Their lives are basically surrounded by three things: faith, family, and books. 

Her newest book, Messy Beautiful Love: Hope and Redemption for Real-Life Marriages (Thomas Nelson), is an invitation to experience the blessings of marriage as God designed them to be. 

Visit Darlene’s website at: www.TimeWarpWife.com

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