I have a problem. I pour myself a delicious cup of hot coffee straight out of the pot, fresh and just done. Then I carry this cup around half the morning, sometimes into the early afternoon. I set it down. I pick it back up again. It’s cold. So it’s off to the microwave I go to reheat it… about five or six times. It’s not really fresh anymore, but I’ve deluded myself into thinking it still tastes good because I’m busy and I don’t have time to notice the quality has slipped.
We live our lives in perpetual motion. We glorify busy. We feel the need to be busy for the sake of being busy. This November, I invite you to take a step back, slow down, and breathe.
That’s right. Breathe.
Take a deep breath in. And exhale.
Genesis 2:7 says, “The Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living being.”
A life lived at 100 miles per hour isn’t really a life now is it?
You have been given a precious gift – the gift of life. A breath for every moment of the day.
I’m going to tell you a secret.
Sometimes I forget I’m breathing.
Well, of course, I’m breathing, because I wouldn’t be alive otherwise. That’s the beauty of God sustaining me. However, I get so busy that breathing becomes something I don’t pay any attention to – I take it for granted. What happens when we forget to breathe?
We confuse efficiency with fruitfulness. We use multitasking to get more done in the day. We think busyness is the mark of a successful woman, but it’s not.
You can’t live a microwaved life.
Don’t buy the lie. Don’t be sucked in by the endless to-do list and the multitude of things we must buy to make us happy and the ridiculous promise of more – more money, more time, more information, more stuff, more security, more love, and more power. Moving at top speed will not get you more. In fact, it’ll get you less… in terms of eternity, in terms of things that have value, in terms of things that matter most.
Jesus said, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10
Replace the “they” with “you.” Insert your name here. Imagine Jesus is speaking directly to you. Read it again.
Don’t let busyness steal, kill, and destroy your spirit, your life, your breath. Lean into Jesus and accept the life He has for you, a life that is full and abundant and beautiful.
The 30 Dates in November Challenge isn’t about doing more. It isn’t about doing everything every day. It isn’t meant to be a burdensome task. I’ve bought that lie before. I’ve struggled and overwhelmed myself with the amount of content needed. I’ve struggled with keeping up with everything. This year, I want to do things differently.
The 30 Dates in November Challenge isn’t about “being busy.” It’s about finding rest, taking time for the things that matter most, spending time on things of value – your relationship with God and your marriage.
This November, I invite you to fall into a rhythm – a pendulum of work and rest.
Allow God to renew your spirit.
Allow God to restore your soul.
Press the pause button on busy.
Take a moment.
You can learn more about and sign up for the 30 Dates in November Challenge here.
I encourage you as you prep for the challenge take some moments of quiet each day to pray, meditate, and breathe. I’m sharing one of my favorite songs ‘Breathe’ for you to listen to and meditate upon as you quiet your heart. Listen to the words and allow God to speak His truth to you. Don’t pay attention to the pictures. Don’t read the words. Just close your eyes and listen.
I am pleased to announce the 5th annual 30 Dates in November Challenge! Are you ready?
This year’s theme is: Strategic Work and Strategic Rest.
This year’s theme passage is: Ecclesiastes 3:1-14
Each date (day) of the month is an opportunity to grow in your love for the Lord and your husband. My goal is to provide:
- do-able daily projects for busy wives
- a springboard for creatively and purposefully loving your man
- daily Bible passage
- extra encouraging content and additional resources via a private forum
Each day on the forums, there will be a new thread for participation corresponding to the day.
These threads will include…
- additional content related to the blog post of the day
- an opportunity to share something we are grateful for
- discussion questions
- the daily challenge
I highly encourage you to pray and read/meditate on the Bible verse of the day. Don’t feel that you need to read or do all the additional content. The purpose is to intentionally do something every single day to bless your husband.
Challenge projects will be available via private forum discussion only this year.
Only registered and approved members will be able to see the boards.
Last year, I did the challenge via Facebook, but this limited us to people who had Facebook accounts. I’ve previously done mass emails and then straight-up put the challenge on the blog.
This year, I want to make it comfortable, convenient, and safe for you to receive challenge content and participate in discussions, and anonymously if you wish, to allow for more open, honest discussion. This will also allow you to work and participate at your own pace. Also, I don’t have to resend challenge content. It will already be posted.
Make your commitment official.
Click here to read more and to sign-up.
I love autumn. It’s my favorite season, but it is also a season of change and growth and challenge for me. It’s a time of year when my anxiety and depression flare, and I feel stressed out for absolutely no good reason. In Colorado, sometimes it feels like we have an extra long summer and then skip right over fall and go straight into winter.
I need my fall, people!
I need the time to transition to the long winter ahead.
I need the time to slow down and reflect and get “me” time.
I need the time to appreciate the beauty of the world around me before it’s too cold to walk outside.
However, this autumn, I feel like I’m moving at breakneck speed, trying to keep up with graduate school, marriage, writing, friends, my new job, and life in general. I started out autumn with the best of intentions. I sat down to write content for my upcoming challenge, and nothing came. Well, snippets came. I have 7 books on my personal reading list and I haven’t started one of them (and 3 of them are due back to the library next week). I planned to have awesome autumn dates with my husband (and since he’s started a new project and I’ve started a new job, we haven’t had as much time for one another).
On Sunday, it all came to head when I broke down during an argument with my husband. I was feeling overwhelmed and stressed and I vented. I felt pathetic and worthless and unloved (all of which is untrue). It was cathartic to get it all out. It was cathartic to tell my husband how I was really feeling and to let the weight of the world lift off my shoulders. I was in line at Safeway that same afternoon and when the checkout lady asked how I was feeling and I responded “tired,” her response was “welcome to life as a woman in America.”
Is that what it’s come to?
I have to accept that I will be exhausted…
…stretched to the limit…
rushing 16 hours a day…
stressed out and overwhelmed…
… with no end in sight?
I don’t want to be that kind-of woman!
I have to be the ultimate career woman…
…the sexiest wife,
…raise wonderful little ones,
…hang out with friends,
…be cultured and educated and well-traveled,
…make a mean casserole,
…be a super volunteer and serve in church ministry,
…write a fantastic blog,
…and still have time for myself?
There’s no way I can keep up with that! It’s impossible!
I don’t want that kind-of life.
I need my rest. I need my sleep. I need my slower speeds. I need my de-stress techniques. I need my support from my husband and my family and my friends. I need my down-time. I need my relaxation. I need my Sabbath.
Ladies, don’t buy into the myth that you MUST live your life “tired.”
We’re going through a sermon series at church about “messy spirituality.” Two weeks ago, I was incredibly blessed when my pastor spoke about the pendulum between work and rest. This is how God designed life for us.
We live in a world that has been warped and broken by sin. We live in a world that swings between chaos and laziness. This is out of whack. No wonder we’re exhausted. It’s okay to busy. It’s okay to rest. It’s not okay to live at either extreme.
When you live your life in the pendulum between strategic work and rest, your life becomes about worship, not worries or wastefulness.
Ecclesiastes 3 talks about “a time” and “a season” for everything. Ecclesiastes 3:12-13 is one of my favorite Bible verses, and I literally have to come back and remind myself of the truth of these words over and over again.
I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God.
When you live in the balance and the rhythm, you can live as a whole woman God created you to be instead of fragmented into the endless to-do-list of your life.
Share with Us: What parts of your life are fragmented right now? What are some of the ways you find a healthy rhythm in your life?
30 Dates in November – This November, join me on my 5th annual 30 Dates in November challenge! This year’s theme is “Strategic Work. Strategic Rest” and our theme passage will be Ecclesiastes 3. We will be focusing on cultivating a heart of gratitude in our marriages and lives and stepping into the rhythms God intends for us as women. Sign-ups begin November 15th.
I am still here.
Busyness is the reason, but not an excuse. Between graduate school, adjusting to my new part-time job, continued job hunting, creative writing, friends, vacations, and family, August and September got away from me. I would love to ask for prayer as I prep for another busy season of my life, including the upcoming blog challenge, and also my continued schooling/work/job hunt.
A few quick updates:
- I will be continuing my Tips for Dry Spell series in December and January.
- I will be doing 30 Dates in November a little differently this year. I plan to release more details soon, but my theme is inspired by the Positivity and Thanksgiving challenges going around social media.
Thanks for your patience and understanding.
Assumptions got me into trouble early in my marriage. They still do, except they happen less frequently now. I remember, on more than one occasion in the first few months of our marriage, thinking that because my husband spent time doing things independently, he didn’t care about me or want to spend time with me. Because of my assumption, I stopped initiating and I stopped telling him what I needed and wanted.
Some of this was our adjustment to marriage and learning how to manage our time and hobbies and also learning to appreciate and understand our personalities. After many, many conversations, I asked my husband to show me why he loved certain hobbies, and I know I can just ask my husband when I need and want his attention.
It sounds silly. I could’ve just said something and I would’ve had what I needed, but instead, I allowed myself to wallow in my self-pity and self-deception and kept on assuming. It took me awhile to understand that assumptions are disrespectful and detrimental and counterproductive.
Let’s first look at the definition of assume. Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary defines assume as “to think something is true or probably true without knowing it is true.”
Immediately, I see two problems here.
Assuming is just laziness. When you assume, you aren’t taking the time to really know the truth, to seek answers, and you can easily brush aside the idea of “fixing” a problem, or not even realize there is a problem. In the context of the article, when you assume your partner isn’t interested in sex, you take a backseat to your marriage by passively allowing a concern to persist. This is a slippery slope to denial.
Assuming can build resentment. When you assume, you aren’t giving your spouse the benefit of the doubt. You aren’t allowing your spouse to defend him/herself. You let a supposed truth become “the” truth. This is dangerous because you might just follow the slippery slope to making a problem bigger than it is. When you do that, you might just start building up resentment in your heart.
In both of these circumstances, you are robbing your spouse of an opportunity to connect with you and for you to connect with your spouse. There are no simple solutions, and I don’t think the article is stating this, but I do think there is some nuggets of truth in here. Jumping to conclusions without consulting your spouse is dangerous because you begin to fashion in your mind a not-so-accurate picture of your spouse.
The second and greatest commandment is to love your neighbor as yourself. Luke 6:31 reminds us to treat others as we would like to be treated. You would want the opportunity to be loved and heard and respected. You would want your spouse to listen to you and talk to you and avoid assumptions about you. You should desire to do the same for your spouse.
I have 3 suggestions. These are not, by any means, an end-all, be-all solution to all your problems during a sexless period in your marriage. I am not a licensed therapist or counselor. I am not a pastor. I do not have professional experience. However, these are the things I have found to be proven true, helpful, and solid during dry spells in my sexual intimacy with my husband.
First, talk to God. Take your concerns to the Lord first. Pour out your heart before Him. Ask Him for a gentle heart when speaking to your spouse. Ask Him for peace and protection over your conversations and your marriage bed. Ask Him for humility and a willingness to listen. Ask Him to help you both through any hurts, doubts, or barriers that may be prohibiting you from being intimate with one another. Ask God to give your spouse an open, willing heart and ears to listen. Ask God to show you an appropriate time to speak with your spouse. Ask Him for the courage to be honest, yet respectful with your spouse. Ask God to help you cast aside any assumptions and listen for and to know the truth.
Second, talk to God with your spouse. Pray together before you talk about difficult subjects. Ask the Lord for His protection and to surround you both with His holy army of angels. Ask Him to place a wall of protection around your hearts, minds, spirits, and bodies – to keep any forces of evil and distractions out. Ask Him to place a wall of protection around your marriage bed, your bedroom, and your house. Don’t be afraid to be very specific with your requests. God wants to hear everything. It’s not like God doesn’t already know, but this act of praying is powerful, and prayer demonstrates you are actively participating in communion with God and you seek Him with humble hearts. Ask God to cast out any spirit of laziness or denial within you both, to cast aside any assumptions, and to give you a naked vulnerability with one another spiritually, emotionally, and physically.
Third, talk to your spouse. Let your spouse know how you are feeling. Be honest and vulnerable. Don’t be afraid to talk about pain and frustrations, but be sure to keep the focus on your feelings and experiences and less on your spouse’s failure to initiate or have sex. Try not to talk too long so your spouse has time to process and respond.
Ask your spouse to explain what is hindering you two from sharing in intimacy. If they don’t know, pray about it or give them time to think it over and agree to come back and speak about it later. Ask your spouse if there’s anything you are doing or not doing that isn’t helping the situation. Try not to be defensive here, but listen respectfully.
When it’s your turn to speak again, briefly recap what he/she said to make sure you understand and ask for clarification where you don’t. Spend time brainstorming together about solutions to your struggles (and this can be done separately after the conversation also). Schedule a time to come back together to check in and talk more.
James 1:19-20 says, “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.”
Give your spouse the opportunity to talk and explain. Genuinely listen. Try to avoid defensiveness, but instead take a moment to breathe and think about your words if you’re feeling attacked or you are misunderstanding. Be slow to become angry – and don’t become angry based on assumptions. Why do all this? Because God desires righteousness from you. Ultimately, the purpose of marriage is to become holy and united, not to be happy and problem-free. Work through the pain and the struggles and open up your hearts to one another to talk, not assume.
Be hopeful and humble. While you have conversations, try for physical contact like holding hands or hugging while praying. Recognize this may not be fixed in one conversation session. It may take many, many more. If the conversations appear not to be helping after a certain amount of time (and there’s no right or wrong amount here… this is really just personal preference and after asking God for discernment), you may need to consider speaking with a physician or seek counseling together.
Author’s Note: This is Post 1 in Tips for the Dry Spell Series. It’s been a few weeks since I addressed the issue of dissent and a particular article about sex on my social media and the blog. I thank you for your patience as I’m in a busy season of my life.
Who doesn’t enjoy sweet treats and dates that don’t break the bank? We’re always looking for inexpensive date night ideas. Today I bring you 3 sweet date night ideas.
Gather your favorite ice cream toppings – i.e. whipped cream, chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, Oreo bits, brownie bites, gummy bears, hot fudge, coconut flakes, chocolate syrup, caramel syrup, strawberry syrup, nuts, sprinkles, m&m’s, honey, cherries, berries, bananas, dark chocolate shavings, etc. Pick up your favorite ice cream (personally I like vanilla if I’m adding a lot of toppings). Set out two dishes and two spoons. Take turns feeding each other scoops of sweet goodness. :o)
Pick up a lollipop bouquet or make your own with a bag of lollipops and a pretty ribbon (in your spouse’s favorite color). Attach a little note “My heart goes lolli-pop for you!” or “How sweet it is to be loved by you!” Top off the sweetness with a big kiss! :o)
Pick up a package of fortune cookies. If you’re feeling ambitious, you can make your own with the recipe here. Take turns reading the fortunes or write your own including sexy and sweet thoughts for your spouse, words of encouragement, or Bible verses. Include a note saying “I’m so fortunate to have you in my life.” :0)
Last Monday, I shared thoughts on the benefits and disadvantages of utilizing secular content as a tool for improving your marriage. Today I want to discuss using discernment.
I don’t want to give you a checklist to approaching secular content because I don’t want to counter the point I have already made. However, I am a kinesthetic learner and for those of you who don’t know what that means, it means I learn by doing. I like to have practical steps to try in order to live out what I am learning.
This goes back to what I said earlier – “walk in the way of love.” Walking is active. Faith is active. I hope that you don’t just hear my words and dismiss them, but that is a personal choice. It is my hope that you hear God’s Words and His truth spoken into your life and that God was able to utilize me as His servant in the process. To walk in the way, to live out your faith, to live out what you are learning, requires active participation.
So without further adieu or caveats, I leave you with a few humble suggestions to navigate secular content (and even Christian content, as everything should be filtered through prayer, Scriptures, and the Holy Spirit).
Begin with a heart of respectfulness and harmony.
- Make the time to pray (seek God’s truth together).
- Make the time to discuss (invite each other into respectful conversation and share your concerns, frustrations, needs, and desires in a loving way).
- Make the time to plan (figure out appropriate and beneficial action steps for overcoming the problems).
When you begin with a heart of respectfulness and a desire for harmony and unity, you will be better able to achieve your purposes and goals. These three steps are also a good way (though by no means is it the only way) to clarify your intentions and expectations when you start and to set the tone for your conversations and actions.
Decide what your purpose and end goal is.
In the context of the article, if you and your spouse are experiencing a dry period in your marriage bed, together, you might decide your end goal is to overcome the dry period and to rejuvenate your sexual intimacy. If it helps, write this goal down as you pray and look for resources. The purpose is a bit more specific to guide you through the process. You might decide your purpose is to grow closer to one another, to honor one another and God through your goals and action steps toward your end goal.
Decide what tools you will utilize.
As stated above, there are some benefits to utilize secular tools as long as you view these tools through discerning eyes and prayer. Allow prayer, God’s Word, and the Holy Spirit to guide you in finding resources (i.e. Internet research, reading an article or blog post, seeking counsel with a physician, pastor, or counselor, finding a book, etc) to aid you in your process.
Humbly remember your source of strength is Christ.
Read an article, book, blog post, etc through the eyes of faith. Listen to counsel and advice through the ears of discretion. Ask God to give you discernment and wisdom as you make decisions and create action steps based on something you have learned. Ask Him to give you the strength and to help you recognize you cannot fix problems or overcome brokenness on your own.
Recognize there may be value even in earthly things.
I often find well-intended, positive secular content helps to get me thinking about things in a new way. Perhaps I am not experiencing the same problem as the content suggests and I might not use the same tools or steps to work through the problem, but the content might open my eyes to something I have not otherwise seen or recognized. Ask God to show you what nuggets of truth He might have for you through an article, secular or Christian.
Acknowledge the root of the problem.
Ask God to reveal the root of the problem rather than just the symptoms.
For example, a couple might be having a dry spell in their marriage. He might be working longer hours than normal and she might be busy with church and social activities and they are both “too tired” when they get home at night. Perhaps one of them had a sinus cold recently.
The root of the problem isn’t the longer hours or the activities or the sinus cold. Those are surface problems. The secondary level of problems is prioritizing or things outside your control. The root of the problem is selfishness. While that may sound harsh, “too tired” and “too busy” shouldn’t be an excuse. Personally, I don’t want to be “so selfish” that I use “too busy” and “too tired” as excuses all the time because I don’t want to make the effort to make love and show love to my husband.
Perhaps the couple needs to examine what in their lives is necessary and what can be let go in order to make more time for sexual intimacy. Perhaps the couple needs to re-frame their concept of sex and stop limiting themselves to the act of intercourse itself. Perhaps the couple needs to start thinking creatively about their time to include opportunities for intimacy more regularly.
There are many possible solutions to the problem and I only named a few, but the point is – ask God to help you see the truth of the matter – to acknowledge the root issues – because without acknowledgement and understanding of the root issues, you can’t make any progress and you only slap a bandaid on the problem, or worse, ignore a deeper issue.
Take the focus of “me” and put the focus on “us.”
Remember you and your spouse are a team. Self-help and self-guide and self-evaluation and self-reflection may all have good intentions, but in order to fix a problem in your marriage, you need to focus first on God and what He’s saying and then on the “us” – you and your spouse.
Don’t misunderstand me – take the time to reflect and evaluate in your personal quiet time. Spend time in prayer alone, praying for your spouse, your marriage, and your marriage bed. Take the time to search Scriptures and find the truths God is speaking directly to your heart. Confess sins that are causing you to stumble in your marriage.
However, don’t get caught up in the worldly lie that YOU can fix your marriage problems if only YOU try harder, do better, or follow the guidelines illustrated in an article, book, seminar, blog post, etc. News flash! YOU can’t fix your problems alone. YOU can’t fix your spouse’s problems alone. YOU BOTH cannot fix your marriage problems alone.
YOU CAN, however, recognize you and your spouse are partners in this life in the context of God’s grace, love, and redemptive purposes. Fixing the problem is not a one-way street. It’s a three-way street – or better description – problem-solving requires the Cross of Jesus Christ – up, in, and out.
- an upward focus on God (acknowledging His strength, truth, and purposes),
- an inward focus (asking God to cleanse your heart from sin),
- and an outward focus (inviting your spouse into the creative problem-solving process and ultimately modeling Christlike love in your marriage to the world around you).
On Friday, I mentioned the article I shared on BHE’s Facebook page that received a bit of feedback and flak alike. I felt like I should and could better address some of the concerns raised via the blog rather than a lengthy social media post. You may read Monday’s post here.
I wanted to first discuss the benefits and disadvantages to utilizing secular tools before I address specific points from the article itself.
Benefits and Disadvantages of Utilizing Secular Tools
What is a Tool?
Let me first define tool – Dictionary.com defines tool as “anything used as a means of accomplishing a task or a purpose.” Merriam-Webster Dictionary Online defines tool as “a means to an end.”
With any tool, you should first approach and ask what your end goal or purpose is. Then you can ask if the particular tool is useful and helpful for reaching your goal or purpose.
A tool is not… a mandatory means to an end or the end or purpose itself. It is merely a handy device or something to be utilized in achieving your goal/purpose.
Certain tools are not for everyone. I don’t think any author, myself included, when they set about writing advice, intends their advice, their method, their way, or their tool(s) to be the only way to accomplish a task, reach a goal, or fulfill a purpose. Most often, advice-style counsel (in the form of a blog post, article, book, workshop, or session) is merely an offering of tools, an exchange of ideas, a conversation piece to help the average person, and therefore is not intended to be specifically applicable to everyone’s life in every time, way, and place.
Benefits of Utilizing Secular Materials
There are good intentions.
I personally will not share something I believe deliberately and willfully promotes an ungodly lifestyle or actions. However, I might share something that I don’t wholeheartedly agree with at times because it is the author’s intent to promote positive, healthy relationships and to encourage growth and the overcoming of obstacles. The author intends good to come from reading the article. In this particular article, I believe the author was hoping to help couples achieve better intimacy, which is not a goal limited to a Christian audience.
There are useful principles, even in secular material and advice.
The content might introduce a new angle or way of thinking about things or considering things that you may not have previously considered. God may or may not choose to speak to you directly or indirectly through the articles I share, but I do not doubt God can use worldly advice and secular content or tools to reveal truths about Himself, His purposes, you, and your marriage. The articles and content are a “means” to an “end,” but they are not the only means nor are they the end themselves. They are a tool, but there are other tools in the toolbox that may be better for achieving the end. That doesn’t mean we should never utilize certain tools.
The Internet, for example, is a secular tool for all intents and purposes. Many evil things can happen on and through and over this tool called the Internet. And yet, many good, godly things can happen over the Internet. As Christians, we can utilize the Internet to share the gospel, promote God’s truth, edify believers, give testimony to the power of God in their lives, pray for one another, read Scriptures, and serve God. This blog is an example. My social media sites are an example. My emails are an example. I can connect with people I couldn’t otherwise connect with, and reach farther than I am physically capable to at this time because of this tool called the World Wide Web. Is this the only means of connection? Absolutely not. I could continue my BHE ministry offline, but for now, I utilize the tool called the Internet.
I am not trying to compare my blog ministry to the article I shared, but I am trying to illustrate how we, as Christians, can utilize secular tools for godly purposes. A secular tool that causes us to think critically, examine our motives, intentions, and actions, and that promotes positive solutions to problems can be useful.
Disadvantages of Utilizing Secular Material
Not everything is beneficial.
By its very nature, secular articles and content tends to be human-centric. The problem is that you can’t fix things on your own merit, strength, or willpower. There is no self-help article or book or material that can magically fix and solve all your problems. There is no magic formula or step-by-step guide to achieving fantastic marital intimacy.
That’s why I think the title of the particular article I shared could be better called “7 Suggestions for Helping Married Couples Through a Dry Period in Sexual Intimacy.” Okay, perhaps it needs a better title since that is rather long, but my point stands.
These are merely suggestions because ultimately that’s all they are. They are not the end all, be all solution to every problem regarding intimacy in marriage.
The word “save” in the the original title is misleading (and therefore not beneficial) because it implies solid solution and definite rescue from the “dry spell.” You are already “saved,” but through the blood of Jesus Christ, not an article, book, or blog post. You need to depend on Christ to empower you and strengthen you and your spouse to work through a dry spell, a problem in your marriage, or an area of struggle in your life.
You avoid the root of the problem.
Step-by-step guides are helpful to a point, but they don’t address the root of the problem – sin. While you are “Saved” through Christ Jesus, you still live within a sinful, broken world. It is important to remember that while this is no longer your identity – sinful and broken – you are still impacted by the brokenness and the sin in the world around you and you are still apart of the brokenness and the sin.
If you assume or think or try to solve every problem through a list of things you ought to do, you are taking matters into our own hands and assuming control of the situation.
When you ignore the root of the problem or condition of your life, faith walk, marriage, and subsequently, sexual intimacy with your spouse, you will never see the brokenness for what it truly is, and if you refuse to see the true condition, you cannot fix things and things will never get better.
Acknowledging the root of the problem requires you to be in a place that starts with you recognizing the problem for what is is and seeking God’s guidance, strength, and purposes for renewal, hope, and restoration. In other words, you need to see things the way God sees things in order for there to be change.
You place the emphasis on self.
Most of the time, secular content focuses on helping you as it should. However, there is a danger in only focusing on self. While the article I shared did mention talking with your partner, the overall tone was directed to an individual, not a partnership. There is an inherent danger with focusing on yourself and forgetting the other in the relationship.
Marriage is a partnership, a weaving together of two lives, two hearts, two bodies, two minds, and two spirits. A husband and wife are intertwined quite literally. God created Adam, and then He created Eve from Adam’s rib. Eve was created as Adam’s ezer kenegdo – “his sustainer beside him.” God designed Adam and Eve (husbands and wives) to be of one flesh. Sexual intimacy is a crucial, critical part of marriage, designed for pleasure, comfort, and satisfaction.
However, Scriptures don’t stop there. 1 Corinthians 7:3-4 tells us that our bodies are not our own. The husband should “fulfill his martial duty to his wife” and he “does not have authority over his body but yields it to his wife.” Similarly, the wife should “fulfill her marital duty to her husband” and “she does not have authority over her body but yields it to her husband.” Sex is ultimately about fulfilling and satisfying your spouse. Therefore, you cannot solve the problems of your marriage or your sexual intimacy merely by reading one article and following a list.
Over and over again in Scriptures, God talks about putting others above yourself. This doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy sex or that you shouldn’t experience pleasure or if something is painful or uncomfortable you shouldn’t stop. I never, ever want to encourage anyone to do something that makes them feel uncomfortable and this is a conversation that should happen between you and your spouse.
However, the danger of following the “steps” of an article, book, or some other form of content is to get too focused on self to the point where you won’t even try, you won’t talk about it, or you can only think about your pleasure, desires, and needs. You need to think about your partner’s pleasure, desires, and needs also.
Ephesians 5 tells us to “walk in the way of love just as Christ loved us” (vs. 2). Loving as Christ is sacrificial in nature. This again doesn’t mean you can’t ever feel pleasure or have your physical needs met, but it does mean you should consciously make an effort to please your spouse and ask God to root out any selfishness or sin that may be hindering you from loving your spouse fully and completely.
Did you know today is Lips Appreciation Day?
Mmm… sounds like my kind-of holiday.
Stop whatever you’re doing right now and text this to your spouse:
I like your lips! ;o)
Try one of these flirty messages (I googled ‘kissing quotes’ and these are some of my favorites):
- Kissing burns 6.4 calories a minute. Wanna workout? (I’m thinking that maybe I might amp up the calories burned if kissing turns into a passionate makeout session.)
- I seriously wouldn’t mind if you just grabbed my face and kissed me. That’d be great.
- I hope you kiss me really hard when you see me.
- Can I borrow a kiss? I promise I’ll give it back.
- If kisses were snowflakes, I’d send you a blizzard.
- I believe in kissing… a lot!
Why Kissing is Good For You*
- Kissing lowers your blood pressure. (I’m happy to oblige my husband in this department.)
- Kissing helps eliminate headaches and cramps. (Ladies, zero in on this one! For me, kissing + sex is a great way to get rid of the ‘I have a headache’ excuse because of the endorphins released. Speaking of endorphins…
- Kissing (and lovemaking) releases ‘happy hormones’ – serotonin, dopamine, and oxytocin. (Everyone wants to feel happy!)
- Kissing fights cavities. (And makes you want to smile and share those pearly-whites.)
- Kissing boosts self-esteem. (Who doesn’t want to be kissed by a man who loves you and what wonders that does to your confidence!)
- Kissing burns a decent amount of calories. (I can’t think of a more pleasurable workout.)
- Kissing boosts your immunity. (Strengthening the body’s defenses with a little lip love sounds like a great idea!)
- Kissing reduces stress and helps naturally relax you. (Yes! I need more of this!)
- Talk about it. Tell your spouse what you like and don’t like. Tell him/her when and where you like kissed. Talk about your most memorable kisses and reenact some of those if you can.
- Be creative. Explore and experiment with kisses and different places on the body. See more below.
- Leave your lover wanting more. Make your kisses memorable.
- Start slow and sweet and work it up. Dragging the kissing experience out will make the magic last longer.
- Avoid being too aggressive. Nothing wrong with passion, but be sensitive to your partner.
- Pull your spouse close to you. A quick peck is passionless. Pull him/her into your arms, squeeze them firmly, move your hands over the body or run them through his/her hair, and build the passion.
Explore and Experiment
Lips aren’t the only body part that want in on the kissing action.
- the top of the head
- the forehead
- the eyelids
- the ears
- the nose
- the cheeks
- the neck
- the shoulders
- down the arms
- the hands
- the breasts/chest
- the abdomen
- the erogenous zones
- the inner thighs
- the legs
- the tops of feet
Figure out where you like kisses, and spend extra time focusing on those parts.
Or try one of my favorite ideas – progressive kissing. It’s like a progressive dinner where you eat the appetizers, the soup and salad, the main course, and the dessert at different restaurants.
- Pick memorable spots from your hometown or places you both enjoy. Drive around town. Get out of your car. Wrap your spouse in your arms and kiss for at least a few minutes at each location.
- Can’t leave the house? Start kissing in the car in the driveway/garage, move to the kitchen, the living room couch, the laundry room atop the washer and dryer, down the hallway/stairs, on the bed, and finish in the shower/bathtub. Rearrange in any order you like.
Last minute advice?
A weekly make-out session is an absolute minimum suggestion for marriage, I believe, regardless of how long you’ve been married, and especially the longer we’ve been married. Kissing just for the sake of kissing and enjoying each other’s lips. Of course, if a steamy kiss leads to something-something if you know what I mean… enjoy!
In honor of this lovely holiday, celebrate kissing your spouse today!
Share With Us: Did I miss any kisses? Tell us your favorite type of kiss with your husband, or give us a flirty lip-locking text idea.
This Week on Social Media:
- Facebook – Posts from the BHE archive to give you kissing ideas & weekly wrap-up
- Twitter – #flirttip #kissmore, #quickprayer, and more
- Pinterest – Featured Board: Sex & Intimacy
*Thanks to CNN Health, Mercola Health, Reader’s Digest Health, and WebMD for the kissing facts.
The first rule of social media? Consistency.
The first rule of blogging? Consistency.
My reality? Inconsistent.
Do I want to be consistent? Absolutely.
Is that a reality in my life? No.
5 Reasons I Struggle with Inconsistency… and Why That’s Okay
1. I have a life.
Correction: I have a [full] life. I’m a full-time housewife. I’m a full time lover to an awesome husband. I’m a full-time graduate student. I’m a full-time writer. I’m a full-time blogger. I’m a full-time [sister, daughter, daughter-in-law, friend, woman of faith, insert-whatever-else-here.]
Someone once told me “busyness is a lazy man’s excuse not to get anything done.” I’d argue that busyness makes me more productive in many areas, and makes me neglect other areas completely. I’d argue that my life is very full right now, but that doesn’t mean I’m lazy. It just means I have a life.
I’m pretty sure the Bible doesn’t say that I’m to bend over backwards and accomplish absolutely everything. Thanks God.
Why am I inconsistent? We live in a culture that glorifies “busy.” I’m choosing to slow down and realistically focus on a few aspects of my life at a time.
2. I’m a creative.
I could just say “respect my creative process” and leave it at that, but I will invite you into my creative process instead. You’ve been warned. Welcome aboard!
- I get some of my best ideas in the shower.
- I get some of the best inspiration at 2 A.M.
- Mid-day is the best time for me to work on analytical writing.
- Mid-afternoon is the best time for me to work on blogging.
- Mid-evening/overnight is the best time for me to work on creative writing.
- If I followed this schedule, I’d never sleep/eat/use-the-restroom/see-my-husband/see-my-friends/see-the-light-of-day-ever! This is why I “go with the flow.”
- Some days I can split my schedule in two – work on one thing in the morning and work on another thing in the afternoon.
- Some days I completely work on homework, other days I completely focus on blogging, and still other days I write creatively. And sometimes these days turn into several days or even weeks.
- I always carry a notebook with me.
- I have OneNote on every technological device so I can immediately access notes anytime anywhere.
- I have sticky notes completely covering my wall behind my desktop with random lines of dialogue, inspiration, blogging themes, story/chapter/blog post titles, bits of outlines, off-the-wall ideas, character names, to-do lists, to-buy lists, to-remember lists, date ideas, and the list goes on.
- If I pull out my phone in the middle of a conversation or my notebook, I’m not ignoring you – I swear. I just don’t want to forget the bit-of-awesomeness I was just struck with, and I totally respect you and your time, and I want to devote my full attention to you so give me just 30 seconds to jot this down.
- I sometimes forget to stop to eat, sleep, shower… (I know, yuck!)… exercise, get out of the house, etc.
- If I seem to want to cut a conversation short, I’m probably doing something or thinking of something creative and I really don’t want to be rude and tune you out so can we talk later? You may need to remind me later two, three, or four times, but I promise I’ll get to you. I promise. Hold me to that. Please?
Why am I inconsistent? My creative process is chaotic at best, a total time-sucking tornado at worst. Don’t ask me to change. Just accept me as is flaws and all.
3) I have a love-hate relationship with schedules.
- I love ‘em because they keep me on track.
- I hate ‘em because they stress me out, overwhelm me, and seem like a ridiculous stretch sometimes.
- Some weeks it’s easy to get a post out on Wednesday, a tweet out every day, and a Facebook message mid-week.
- Some weeks it’s next to impossible.
- I try to post weekly on the blog, daily on Twitter, daily-ish on Facebook, etcetera. The emphasis is on try.
- Sometimes I’ll publish a post like this on Saturday instead of Wednesday.
- Sometimes I’ll skip a week and forget to tell you. Or two. It’s not because I’ve totally forgotten the blog, the social media sites, our friendship, my commitments, etc.
Why am I inconsistent? My schedule is out-of-sorts and I need time to reconfigure it.
4) I want to give you quality content.
Honest to God, this is truth.
- Sometimes my best quality content comes out under pressure (like this post, for example).
- Sometimes inspiration happens last minute [See #2].
- Sometimes I need an extra day, or week, or month to perfect a piece.
Now here’s where I can say, “respect my creative process” because it’s in your best interest.
Why am I inconsistent? Because I don’t want to give you some half-hearted piece of junk just to “keep up with the schedule.” I really do want you to receive my absolute best work. Is this it? No, not really, but it’s my long-winded way of saying “I’m sorry” and “Give me grace.”
5) I want to be authentic.
That’s why I’m sharing all of this with you. This is me behind closed doors. This is my reality right now.
Will it change someday? Maybe.
Do I want it to change? I kind-of like the inconsistently consistent creative process of mine.
Why am I inconsistent? This is who God made me to be, and I accept, value, and love myself despite wanting to pull out my hair sometimes or wonder what in the world is going on in my brain. It’s in these moments of inconsistency that I grow, learn, and develop more into who God created me to be. I choose to embrace my wild, beautiful, raw, weird and wacky self.
What does all this mean for you?
Welcome to my world. :0)
The first/best/most important thing you can do for me is pray. Pray for my inconsistently consistent creative process. Pray for my sanity. Pray for my husband’s sanity.
If you want to pitch in and ease the load, great! Call/email/text/message me and I’ll tell you how you can help. If I can’t find something for you to do, then just be patient and give me space.
I’m still here. If you need me, leave a comment. Shoot me an email or a text. Send a shout-out on Facebook or Twitter. Pick up the phone and call me. I can’t drop everything any minute of the day, but I’ll make time for you because you are important to me. You might need to drag me away from my keyboard, but trust me, I really do want to see you… and the sun… sometime.
Share With Us: Can you relate to this? For those of you creatives, what’s your process like?
This Week on Social Media:
This has been an especially busy week for me. Honestly, it has been hard to find the “quiet time” with God like I need. 1 Thessalonians 5:17 is hard to do when my brain and my schedule is all over the place. “Pray without ceasing.”
I think sometimes we miss the point. 1 Thessalonians 5:16 says, “Rejoice always,” and 1 Thessalonians 5:18 says, “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” Context, my friends.
The Attitude and Habit of Prayer
- Take joy in prayer. God doesn’t want prayer to be a drudgery or something we’re forced to do. He wants to hear from you. He delights in you. Zephaniah 3:17 says, “The LORD your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.” Be filled with joy that the God of the Universe wants you to talk to Him. He’s excited when you check in. Prayer should flow from your heart as a natural response to the goodness, grace, and glory of God.
- Prayer is a dialogue with God. There’s no right or wrong way to pray. God does see all, but He wants us to connect with Him throughout the day. Prayer is about speaking what’s on your heart. It can be a word, 3 words, 10 sentences, an hour long rant in the daily commute, or pages in a journal. The point is to start speaking and be open to the Spirit throughout the day.
- Get in the habit of giving thanks immediately in the moment. On Monday, I was making a pasta sauce and I nearly set the kitchen on fire. Immediately, once the flames died on the stove, and I knew I was safe, I sent a quick prayer of relief and thanksgiving heavenward that I was okay and the house didn’t burn down. Prayer doesn’t just have to be after a scary situation. You can pray and praise God when that your teeth feel nice and clean after brushing, or you had a lovely kiss with your husband, or you woke up this morning. As my pastor says, God is the God of the marvelous and mundane.
6 Ways to Pray
There’s no specific right or wrong way to pray when you approach God with a humble, reverent heart. Sometimes rituals can help you concentrate. I encourage you to try something new on this list to stretch yourself. You can work through each type on a specific day of the week and re-do one you particularly enjoyed on Sunday (or whatever your 7th day is). You can also just mix and match as you desire. Or pick one that works and do it consistently. Keep in mind the aforementioned principles: joy in prayer, dialogue in prayer (just start talking), and thanksgiving in prayer.
- Find a quiet place (Pray internally). Find a place where you won’t be distracted. Try your bedroom, a park bench, a desk at the library, your kitchen sink, etc. Close your eyes, bow your head, and let the words flow from your heart.
- Dialogue with God (Pray aloud). Pick a spot where you won’t be overheard (Showers and cars are great places!). Speak your words aloud. This is a great way to “be real” with God in a stream-of-consciousness way.
- Journal (Write down your prayers). Shut off your inner editor and write your prayers. The great thing about this option is you have a record of what you prayed. You can go back later and see where you’ve grown, where God answered, what you’re still waiting on, and perhaps areas you still need to work on.
- Take a prayer walk (Pray in nature). Hike up the mountain. Walk through a park. Walk around a local nature preserve. Walk around your neighborhood. As you walk, begin praising God for His beautiful creation. Start praying about whatever comes to mind.
- Listen to music (Pray through song and dance). Meditate on the words of a song. I recommend downloading the K-LOVE app for positive, encouraging Christian music. Although, you don’t have to pick a Christian song. This (past) summer, I experimented with listening to various instrumental songs and danced around (like no one was watching) as the Holy Spirit led.
- Use Scripture (Pray through His Word). Read a particular Scripture passage (Psalm 121 is a great place to start). Pray through the passage for your life and marriage.
I realize 3 things: 1) Lent has already begun, 2) Lent is 40 days long, and 3) many of you have already prayed through these 30 Prayers during the 30 Dates in November Challenge 2015.
I encourage you to spend the next 30 days of Lent (a season of reflection and for new holy habits) praying for your heart, husband, and marriage. Even if you’ve prayed these prayers before, consider doing this again with fresh eyes.
What rituals do you use to pray? Which of these ways appeals to you the most? How do you get into the habit of praying regularly and keep a good attitude?
This Upcoming Week in Social Media
Twitter – Quick prayers to pray & share
Facebook – Thoughts & encouragement on the different ways to pray and Wednesday weekly wrap-up
Pinterest – Check out my Spiritual Growth board for Prayer and Spiritual Intimacy encouragement, thoughts, and ideas
I am a newlywed wife and I’ve been struggling with something. How do you flirt with your husband after marriage? It was easy when we were dating, but now with real life it just isn’t effortless anymore. Do you have any suggestions?
This is a fantastic question, dear reader!
Great timing too with Valentine’s Day coming up this weekend.
This question applies to all wives, whether you’re newly married or approaching a 25th wedding anniversary. You’re right, sweet sister, that it does take real effort to be playful and flirty. Here’s something we can all repeat to ourselves:
Commit to never letting the spark go out in your marriage. [Tweet this]
Some things to remember:
- Flirting should be natural. What works for me may not work for you and your husband and vice versa. Find something that you feel comfortable with and go for it.
- Flirting should be freeing. You may be feeling shy, but remember confidence is sexy. Give flirting an honest effort.
- Flirting should be fun. Enjoy yourselves. Laugh a little. It’s okay to be silly.
5 Ways to Flirt
F – Favorites – What are a few of your favorite things about your husband? Think about your five senses. What do you like to see, hear, taste, smell, and touch? For example: I love my husband’s cologne. When I catch a whiff of his spicy scent, I like to pull him in for a passionate kiss when he’s not expecting it.
L – Laugh – Remember when you were dating and you playfully teased each other? Well, why stop now that you’re married. For example: I remember “borrowing” a hoodie from my then-boyfriend, now-husband and making him chase me around campus until I’d give it back. Now we like to occasionally do this around our house. It usually results in lots of laughing and he has to “pay the ransom” a.k.a. kiss me. Let him hear you laugh and giggle. Trust me. He’ll enjoy it.
I – Ignite the passion early. Start with a good morning kiss. Join him in the shower for a little hands-on action. Let him know how you’ll miss him during the day when he leaves. Send him a check-in text or email during the day For example: I’m thinking of you and all the wonderful ‘things’ you do… See you tonight, lover! ;o) Set the stage for when he arrives home and toss out some flirty compliments as you greet him.
R – Read for ideas. Use the resources below for other great ideas on flirting. Make a folder or document on your computer to drop flirting, dating, and romance ideas.
T – Technology – Your smartphones are a great resource.
- Create fun “code words” for sex or intimacy. This is a great option if you’re texting or emailing your husband and you don’t want to risk something “too risque” being seen by other eyes. Adam and I’ve been doing this since our early days and it’s a fun way to let him know you’re interested.
- Shoot him a photo while he’s away. For example, I could share a photo of myself with a sign that reads ‘Can’t wait to see you at home tonight, sexy!’
- Share a calendar with each other? Adam and I recently synced our Google Calendars so we have a better sense of each others’ schedules. I’ve purposely slipped in a few “dates” like: Makeout Session with Adam. Wednesday. 9 P.M. or Breakfast in Bed with Adam. Saturday 8 A.M. Clothing Optional.
- Use a messenger app. Sit across a room or a table from each other and send “flirty” messages. Make a rule that you have to carry on a conversation for a set amount of time before “touching.” You can start with playing footsie to leaning across and kissing his hand to… well… use your imagination.
- Play a romantic song or your first dance song from your wedding from Pandora or another music app to get you both in the mood.
- Check out some great romance ideas on my Pinterest page.
- 10 Fun Ways to Flirt with Your Husband (Becoming His Eve)
- Go Ahead! Be That Couple! 14 Things to Do In and Out of Bed with Your Husband (Becoming His Eve)
- 6 Ways to Increase the Sexual Energy in Your Marriage (Calm.Healthy.Sexy.)
- The Fun Theory: Bedroom Edition (Do Not Disturb)
- Flirt (The Generous Wife)
- Playful Anticipation (The Generous Wife)
- Stirring the Embers (The Romantic Vineyard)
- 16 Ways to Flirt with Your Husband (To Love, Honor, and Vacuum)
Share with Us: What’s your favorite way to flirt with your spouse?
This Upcoming Week in Social Media
Twitter – fun flirty text message ideas to send to your husband
Facebook – more resources for flirting ideas & the first ever Weekly Wrap-Up
Pinterest – check back on my Love Your Honey board for featured flirting tips
Greetings from sunny and snowy Colorado!
For those of you wondering where I’ve been, I’m here to assure you I haven’t forgotten the BHE community. There have been some significant changes in my life since I last posted in November. Let me bring you up to the present:
- I quit my job. If you weren’t aware, I left my child-care job back in mid-October to pursue my dreams and to be in a better environment.
- I am job hunting… and soul searching and figuring-out-life. Sometimes it’s whimsy. Sometimes it’s exhilarating. Sometimes it’s terrifying.
- I started grad school. I am pursuing a Masters in Nonprofit Management.
- Adam is job hunting also. He is unable to move up any further in the place where he is at, and we are looking to move toward financial independence (a.k.a. move out from the in-laws).
- Updates on the homepage and mission statement
- Updates on the social media page
- My photo across all platforms has been updated
- If you didn’t notice before, my “for men” page and “policies” page is nested under Guide to the Garden and “what I believe” is nested under Meet Me.
What to Expect
- Updated look and layout of the blog
- Updated social media sites
- Once a week posts on BHE (probably Wednesday)
- Coming Soon! Additional content from 2015’s 30 Dates in November Challenge will be available on the blog for everyone
- More frequent social media posts
- Weekly wrap-up on Facebook every Saturday.
- Monthly update – the 3rd week of the month on Mondays
- Coming Soon! “Now What?” page as a followup to 30 Dates in November Challenge, including all previous years’ challenges in one convenient location and thoughts about this year’s 2016 challenge.
- Coming Soon! Resources “For Women” page including other helpful, encouraging and relevant blogs, ministries, books, and resources
- “Leadership is not about being in charge. Leadership is about taking care of those in your charge.” ~Simon Sinek
Next Post Preview
Come back Wednesday to read more about renewal vs. resolutions on the blog.
Last week, I was stressing big time last night over silly stuff and I went to bed thinking, “it’s only Monday.” The following morning, while I had trouble getting up, I thought, “oh, it’s already Tuesday!” What a difference perspective make! We can choose to let stress go or hold onto it. Letting go of worries and stress is a big part of living fearlessly.
Back in the spring, I read this on my Facebook feed from Ann Voskamp (who writes a fabulous blog at A Holy Experience):
Hey Soul? So here’s the thing: you get multiple choice today:
Busy is a choice.
Stress is a choice.
*Joy is a choice.*
You get to choose. Choose well. Deciding first thing: “My choice is You, God, first and only.” Ps.16:5MSG
I hope in these last 30 days you’ve had a change of perspective, a change of heart, and you’ve seen a change in your marriage for the better. I hope you’ve learned to better love the Lord your God and to better love your closest, most intimate neighbor (your husband). As you continue on past the month of November, past the end of the challenge, I encourage you to keep this perspective:
I choose to let go of busyness. I choose to let go of stress. I choose joy. Today I will put God first. Today I choose to make my marriage a priority. I choose to love my God and my husband today with all of my heart, soul, mind, and strength.
Today’s Challenge: What have you learned and where have you grown? Rejoice in the Lord today. Choose one way to be joyful and loving toward your spouse today. You can pick one of your favorite challenges from the past 30 days to re-do or come up with something new.
Bible Passage: Psalm 103
Additional Content: Visit the private Facebook page for 31 Ways to Add Joy to Your Marriage this Holiday Season. Just because the challenge is over doesn’t mean you still can’t sign up and access the additional content. Click here to sign-up-up.
When I go to Taco Bell, my favorite thing to do isn’t to order Frito burritos or taco supremes off the menu. My favorite thing to do is to pick up the sauce packets and read the sayings. Some of them are silly and some of them have some genuine advice. In early spring, I found this packet:
Do it with passion or not at all. You only have one life to live on this earth. Yes, we live eternally and we’ll live on with Jesus in the next life. But you only have one opportunity to make a difference in this world.
What kind of legacy do you and your husband want to leave? What do you want to be remembered for? I don’t know about you but I want to live a life knowing that I’ve loved deeply and with abandon for my husband, I’ve cared deeply for those around me who are hurting, lost, and broken, and I’ve lived a life that is a testimony to the grace of God in my life. I want to live my life with passion.
You’ve been given beautiful priceless gifts in this life – your life, your salvation, and your husband. Don’t waste any of it. I’ve spent the better part of this year waiting for life to get better. The problem is God didn’t create me to sit and do nothing. He created me to be active, to serve Him in the waiting, to make the most of every opportunity He places me in. I’ve been putting off doing things that I love because I bought the lie that I can’t do what I love as a career because I’d get burnt out otherwise. But my wise husband told me this: “When you do something you love and you’re passionate about, that’s what drives you on the days you’re feeling burnt out. That’s what keeps you going so you don’t give up.”
Since quitting my job with the school, I’ve been actively pursuing things I love – spending time with my husband, spending time with family, writing, cooking, and singing. My whole outlook on life has changed because I’m doing things I love with the people I love. I know it’s not the new year yet, but my goal for 2016 is to “do it with passion or not at all.” God doesn’t want your sort-of, your halfway, your undecided, your half-hearted. He wants your all.
I’ve been guilty of walking through the motions of marriage – doing what we need to get by. I saw this infographic on Facebook back in the spring: I want a marriage so great that it becomes dangerous to the Devil. Marriage is a picture of Christ and the Church, of the ultimate sacrificial, unconditional love. When you love your husband the way God loves you, you become dangerous to the Devil because you counteract his lies about settling for less than what’s best, about just plugging along, trying to do it on your own, and squeezing by. You were created for more than that. God didn’t create you to be satisfied with a mediocre marriage. Your marriage also doesn’t need just halfway half-hearted. Your marriage, if it’s going to thrive, needs your all. What will you do with your one life to live?
Today’s Challenge: What one thing can you commit to today, to live your life more passionately? What one thing can you do today that tells the Devil you don’t buy his lies of “halfway is okay?” What small step of change can you take today to take your marriage from mediocre to great?
Bible Passage: John 10:1-18
Additional Content: Visit the private Facebook page for 7 Ways to Fear Less and Live More Passionately. Click here to sign-up.
In February 2014, a wolf was discovered in the hallway of the hotel where Olympian Kate Hansen was staying during the Sochi Winter Olympics. The whole thing was revealed to be an elaborate prank, but it got me thinking about protecting my marriage from the “wolves in the hall.” However, wolves don’t just wander around outside and around my marriage. Sometimes I am my own worst enemy.
In May 2015, I came across this story as an infographic on my Facebook feed:
One evening a grandfather old his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people.
He said, “My son, the battle is between two wolves inside us all.
“One is Evil – It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority.
“The other is Good – It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.”
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather: “Which wolf wins?”
The grandfather simply replied, “The one you feed.”
Sometimes the most dangerous “wolf” is what I let myself believe. I have admitted to you before how I’ve struggled with depression and anxiety this year. I desperately wanted to blame someone else or offer excuses for something else. While there were many things that happened outside my control this year, I was my own worst enemy. I was allowing myself to be imprisoned by my own negative thoughts. I was feeding the anger and arrogance. I was dwelling on the sorrow and self-pity. I was burying myself under the weight of resentment and regret. I was believing myself to be inferior. You can imagine this wreaked havoc on my inner thought life, my self-worth, my identity, my relationships, and my marriage.
I don’t think I was the only one at fault though. Ephesians 6:12 says, “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” 1 Peter 5:8 warns, “…our enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” There is a spiritual darkness in this world, an enemy of your heart and marriage – the Devil – and he stalks the earth looking for his prey. I was an easy target because I was wallowing in depression and entrapped in my own anxieties.
The Bible doesn’t just leave us with these warnings. The Bible gives us hope, a plan, and a purpose. Ephesians 6:11 says, “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” The MSG version of 1 Peter 5:8-9 says, “Keep a cool head. Be alert… Keep your guard up. You’re not the only ones plunged into these hard times. It’s the same with Christians all over the world. So keep a firm grip on the faith. The suffering won’t last forever.” Philippians 4:8 tells us what to think about: things that are “true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, praiseworthy…”
When you only feed your mind with the “good things,” with the truth, with God’s Word, you can tune out all the other messages of the world because everything else is junk compared to Christ. Paul writes in Philippians 3:8 “everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For His sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ.” When you know Christ, when you feed your mind with only the goodness of His truth, you will be transformed and the way you treat your husband will change as you begin to see him more the way God sees him.
Today’s Challenge: Ask yourself these questions: What am I letting myself believe? What do I feed my mind with? Do I listen to the truth of who God says I am? Write down the first three adjectives you can think of to describe yourself. Now do the same for your husband and your marriage. Look at your word choice. Are they positive? If so, keep these words someplace you can refer to when you’re feeling down, discouraged, or overwhelmed. Are they negative? Ask yourself why these words. Do these words accurately describe you, your husband, and your marriage? If not, then replace those words with truth. If yes, then think about why these words accurately describe and what you can do to change the way you look at things. If you don’t know or if this is a bigger, long-term problem, ask God to give you the insight to make the changes needed in your own heart, and then the courage to talk about these things with your husband.
Be encouraged, dear lady friend. Changes in your marriage will not happen overnight, and it takes two to make a marriage work. If your husband isn’t open to change or discussion at this point, rest assured that God knows the cries of your heart. He sees your pain. He knows your weaknesses. He cares about your battle. Don’t give up. Keep clinging to Christ for your hope and strength. Keep praying. Your marriage is worth fighting for.
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