Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on April 12, 2012.
Today is dubbed as Remember Childhood Day. Think about some of the things you enjoyed as a kid. Make a list with your husband and then do some of the things on that list today.
Pull out the old photo albums and leaf through the photos of the two of you when you were kids (if you have access to them).
Pull out the paints and splash some color on a page. Pick up coloring books at your local dollar store, set the timer, and have a coloring war. Don’t worry about staying inside the lines!
Draw with sidewalk chalk in your driveway.
Play a lively game of tag in the yard or hide-and-seek around your house.
Read a children’s book together before bed with a cup of hot tea.
Go swinging at the park. Chase each other down the sides. Challenge each other the monkey bars.
Eat a fudgesicle or some other childhood treat.
Shoot each other with silly string or spray each other with squirt guns.
The point is to allow yourselves to be free and embrace your inner child!
Lately, I’ve been moody. Very unlike me. Moodiness generally leads to indecisiveness, and indecisiveness to boredom, and boredom back to moodiness for me. It’s a vicious cycle.
I couldn’t figure out why. Things are going well at work. Adam and I’ve been spending lots of quality time together and enjoying ourselves. I’ve been connecting with friends. I’ve clocked hours of writing time for my novel. It is finally feeling like spring. I’ve been more active. So why the blahs?
When I’m moody, I’m like an over-filled trash can. All the junk comes spilling out and I can’t focus on anything else until the mess is cleaned up – until I go to God on my knees.
Lie #2 Your relationship with God has nothing to do with your marriage.
My pastor recently preached a sermon about filling the void. What void? I asked myself as I tuned into listen. He quoted Blaise Pascal who said, “There is a God shaped vacuum in the heart of every man which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God, the Creator, made known through Jesus.”
A little voice inside me said, “that void.” In my busyness, I’ve been neglecting the number one relationship in my life – Jesus. I find sometimes I get this “moodiness” when I haven’t been spending time with God, almost as if God starts taking away my contentment, satisfaction, and joy in all other things but Him so I come to a point where there’s no other option but Him.
When I start filling my life with activities without putting God first, my marriage suffers. The Holy Spirit kept prompting me to ‘seek God,’ but I kept putting it off saying, “I’ll have time tomorrow.”
Satan wants to convince you that your relationship with God and your relationship with your spouse have nothing to do with each other. But believe the truth, my friend, everything is worthless without love. Your marriage is nothing without the Source of true love – Jesus.
Lack of Spiritual Intimacy, over time, can lead to…
- Unfair expectations
Buckle what is TRUE around your Waist
Your relationship with God has everything to do with your marriage! Just as music can create the atmosphere of a room, your walk with the Lord sets the tone for your marriage.
Proverbs 4:23 warns you to guard your heart, “for everything you do flows from it.” If your heart isn’t centered on God, but rather is centered on your relationships, work, or your stuff, everything you do will motivated by that centering.
T… Teaches Accountability
God has placed an intimate partner in my spiritual walk. When I share my struggles with my spiritual walk with Adam, I feel a burden lifting. The closer I am to God, the more heightened conscience I have. I am aware of my faults and flaws more readily, and my need for God’s (and my husband’s) grace. I am quicker to confess, apologize, and/or ask for help. I relay my doubts, worries, and concerns with my husband, ask for guidance, wisdom, or clarification, and experience love, compassion, and mercy on a deeper level than I can with any other human.
James 5:16 says, “Confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.”
R… Regulates Emotions
I’m all out of whack without God in the center of my day. I get frustrated and angry more quickly. My decisions are more self-centered. I grow moody, listless, indecisive, and bored. These emotions have a disastrous effect on my marriage, leading to tension, miscommunication, frustration, anger, and arguments.
When I’m centered on God,
- I invite the Holy Spirit to enter my mess, and listen to my husband tell me about his bad day without dumping all my complaints on him first.
- I breathe to calm myself before explaining why I am so upset.
- I let go of my frustrated feelings, recognizing getting angry isn’t going to fix the situation or change anything at the moment, and focus on what I can do right now in love for my husband.
U… Unifies Us
All your decisions, big or small, should begin in prayer, seeking direction from God. Be united in your efforts to work toward what’s best for your marriage and one another. Sometimes this means sacrificing what you really want for the good of your marriage. This could mean something like I want to eat out one more time, but I respect Adam’s decision to cook at home because we’re over budget, or something bigger like Adam quitting his night job and taking a different job so we can be together more.
Romans 14:9 ” Let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding…”
E… Encourages Thanksgiving
When you recognize you can’t do anything on your own, you are more aware of the work of the Father in your life. Recognizing God’s presence is the first step in gratitude – being grateful for the gifts He has given you and being grateful for your spouse. When you forget what God has done for you and what He has given you, you begin to take the people and the things in your life for granted. This leads to lower respect, weaker communication, lower passion, and lesser love in marriage. When you allow the Holy Spirit to permeate your heart, you will grow in gratitude, allowing this joy to outflow into your marriage and to affect your daily decisions.
Ephesians 5:17, 20-21 “…be filled with the Spirit… giving thanks always and for everything in to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for the Lord.”
Fill your life with God first, allowing God to fill your marriage with true good things – accountability, balanced emotions, unity, and thanksgiving.
For more on spiritual intimacy, click here.
April showers bring May flowers… or so the saying goes. Beat the rainy day blues with some awesome date night ideas.
- Go bowling. Grab a slice and a brew and send the ball down the lane a few times.
- Visit a local art gallery or museum. Stroll arm-in-arm indoors out of the weather and enjoy a little culture.
- Clean out the attic or your basement together. Doing a meaningful project as a couple can build your relationship, improve your communication skills, and make you feel good when it’s done. Choreplay can make excellent foreplay.
- Cook comfort foods. Mmm… grilled cheese, tomato soup, chocolate chip cookies, or whatever else you two think are comfort foods.
- Good ole-fashioned movie night. Pick a favorite flick, curl up with popcorn, and enjoy snuggling in each other’s arms.
- Dance the night away… in the rain together or on your porch or in your living room. The latest thing to do is to find video lessons on YouTube. Find a music genre that fits your fancy, search for a video, and learn something new together.
- Story time. Curl up on the couch and read together… not necessarily from the same book. Just enjoy being near your spouse and the comfort of their presence even if you’re silent. OR Pick 5 different random objects from your house, stick them in a paper bag, and ask your spouse to pull out each object and tell a story using these objects. (My family did this as kids or during the holidays for fun).
- Play time. Pull out a puzzle, play a board game, try a game of Hangman or charades, or if you’re ambitious, pull out Twister for your living room floor. You can also add a strip element if you like.
- Hands on. No, not what you’re thinking… although… ;o) see #11 Pick a fun science project and do it together. Scholastic.com offers 40 great ideas to get you started.
- Challenge of the arcade. Nothing like a little car racing that defies physics or a fast-paced game of air hockey.
- Experiment. Try a new sexual position or a new way at foreplay. My latest favorite? Progressive foreplay.
- Bubbles! Draw a bubble bath for a relaxing time. Add candles, your favorite munchies, and some ‘hands-on’ fun to make it more intimate.
- Check out the local scene. Find a poetry reading at a local bookstore, a concert at a nearby bar, or a comedy show in a basement theater.
- Walk in the rain. Or run if you’re more ambitious… and then come back for a steamy shower together.
- Dress up without the price tag. Head to the local mall and find crazy and whacky or sophisticated and glamorous (out of your price range, right?) clothes for each other to try on. Take pictures.
- Dress up at home. Order take-out and then set the ambiance at home. Pizza? Red-and-white checkered tablecloth, Pillsbury breadsticks, and and some Andrea Bocelli. Chinese? Paper lanterns, jasmine tea, and the Kung Fu Panda soundtrack. Tacos? Sombreros, pinatas, and mariachi music. Burgers? Ketchup, mustard, and a little 1950s jukebox.
- Local rec center. Our rec center offers full access for $4 for residents and $6 for non-residents, giving us access to the lap pool, lazy river, slides, kiddy pool, hot tub, steam room, basketball court, weight room, and even a climbing wall.
- Progressive dinner. Start at one restaurant for drinks and appetizers. Head to another for soup and salad. Eat the main course at yet another restaurant. Finish the evening at your local coffee shop, ice cream parlor, or even at home for dessert. My suggestion? Eat small portions.
- Couples night. Invite some friends over for dinner and a movie or a card game. Hospitality tips? Set the table before the guests arrive even if you aren’t ready with dinner. Set out an appetizer (chips & salsa, breadsticks, veggie platter, crackers and cheese). Offer a beverage (with ice water always on hand). If you’re not ready with dinner, it’s okay to invite your guests into the kitchen to help (or this is when Adam gets to entertain). Create (ahead of time) a playlist of relaxing instrumental music for background ambiance.
- Artistically inclined. Pull out the paintbrushes, cover the table or floor with newspaper, and paint. You can grab inexpensive canvases on sale at Michael’s or another craft store, or grab a painting kit. You can also pull out crayons and pick up coloring books from your local dollar store.
I apologize for the late notice. My sister is visiting this week so I’m taking an unplanned week off from writing on the blog to prepare for her arrival and to enjoy our time together while she’s here.
I have a confession to make. I am not the most disciplined person. I struggle with late night munchies, keeping the house clean, and staying on top of my devotionals. This Lent season, I want to be more disciplined. Today is the start of the Lent season, Ash Wednesday. Here’s some facts to help you better understand Lent.
What is Lent?
Lent is the period of 40 days leading up to Easter. Beginning on Ash Wednesday, Lent ends on Holy Saturday (the day before Easter Sunday). There are 3 main focuses of the season:
1) to reflect upon your sins and your need for a Savior (Romans 6:23),
2) to renew your commitment to Christ, dying to self daily, often done through prayer, self-examination, and fasting (Luke 9:23), and
3) to remember that Christ conquered sin and death (Romans 8:1-4).*
Who should celebrate Lent?
Traditionally associated with the Roman Catholic Church, Lent is a season worth following or at least understanding in the Protestant denominations. Scripture doesn’t mandate or mention either of these terms, but the practice of regular prayer, repentance, mourning in ashes, and fasting is mentioned.
How can we celebrate Lent?
Lent is celebrated or observed in a variety of different ways from “fasting” from a specific item, to placing ashes on one’s forehead as a reminder of your sinful state and your need for a Savior, to devoting oneself to prayer or meditation in an effort to grow closer to God. Lent is also the perfect season to practice discipline.
Why is discipline important for self-care?
- Discipline allows you to build your character. You can’t expect to learn how to play the piano, to break a bad habit, or to transform into the likeness of Christ in a day. These things takes time, patience, and effort. When you are disciplined, you are equipped with the tools to begin your journey toward achieving your goals. Hebrews 12:11 says, “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained.“
- Discipline equips you to withstand temptation. Jesus gives us the tools to be disciplined in Matthew 26:41: “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Watch – be aware, look out, plan ahead. Pray – dialogue with God.
- Discipline instills in you greater self-awareness. Discipline makes you aware of your weaknesses and strengths, and this awareness makes the process of setting and reaching goals easier. When you know what will trip you up, you can plan ahead by setting up boundaries, accountability, and rewards to greater motivate you. You also avoid disappointment due to unrealistic expectations.
- Discipline offers better time management. Discipline allows you to increase productivity, to avoid hang-ups and hiccups along the way, and to better achieve your goals in a timely manner.
- Discipline unveils God’s character. To exercise godly discipline, you must first know the Gospel, believe its message, and live out its truth. Psalm 119:105 says, “Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” Staying deep in God’s Word will equip you with better understanding of who God is, what God has done, who He has created you to be, and how to grow into His likeness.
This Week’s Lent Exercise: Discipline Yourself
Pick one of the following ideas to incorporate into your Lent season.
- 40 Days of Prayer - Pick 40 people in your life whom you can pray for over the next 40 days. Some suggestions include your spouse, kids, family, friends, co-workers, church, school, government, neighbors, and those who serve you (i.e. medical professionals, restaurant workers, hairdressers, store clerks, babysitters, teachers, etc).
- 40 Days Unplugged - Unplug from your computers, smart phones, televisions, etc for 40 days. I understand that modern technology is sometimes required for work or basic essentials (i.e. calling your spouse to say you’ll be home late or creating a PowerPoint presentation for your boss). Set specific guidelines for yourself only using technology for absolute essentials. If you can’t completely cut technology out of your life, try eliminating excess use (i.e. avoiding watching TV with your spouse in the evenings in favor of talking or connecting through an activity or fasting from social media in favor of connecting with people off the Web). Here are some tips to get you started.
- 40 Days of Encouragement – Write a note of encouragement every day for a different person in your life.
- 40 Days of Organization - Purge clutter from your life by spending each day in a different part of your home getting rid of things. See this idea and this one on Pinterest for ideas on where to organize. Here are some great tips to get you started.
- 40 Days of Confession - Use this practical model of daily confessing to become more aware of your “problem areas” in your walk with God and to practically tackle sin in your life.
- 40 Days of Water- Fast from juice, tea, coffee, milk, and soda. Choose water as your only beverage. Reflect on the symbolism of water in the Bible. Do a word study on water.
- 40 Acts of Kindness - Do a random act of kindness each day for someone in your life. You can focus solely on one person (like your spouse) or pick 40 different people.
- 40 Days of Thanksgiving - Keep a gratitude journal. Each day make a list of things you are grateful for, and watch the list grow throughout Lent.
- 40 Days of Meditation - Pick a different Bible verse each day to meditate on – reflect on the meaning, write the verse in your own words, pray the verse for your life, and ask the Lord to show you a way to act on the verse.
- 40 Days of Praise - Spend five minutes a day in prayer just praising God. Use the three-fold method: Praise God in adoration (love Him), praise God for who He is (His character), and praise God for what He’s done (His work).
This is Whole Woman Wednesday #1. For more Lent ideas, see my Pinterest board.