Monday, September 29, 2008

Finding Fault

It is better to dwell in a corner of the housetop [on the flat oriental roof, exposed to all kinds of weather] than in a house shared with a nagging, quarrelsome, and faultfinding woman.” (Prov 21:9 AMP)

It is better to dwell in the corner of the housetop than to share a house with a disagreeing, quarrelsome, and scolding woman.”  (Prov 25:24 AMP)

When we were first married, after a nice evening out I got into the car, and the first thing I told Gary about was a negative statement someone had made to me (and about me!).  Quickly I was convicted that after an entire evening, complete with an amazing dinner and wonderful people, the FIRST thing I mentioned was a negative thing.  I didn't see this flaw on the part of the person who said the comment to me; rather, it was quite obvious the flaw was in ME for choosing to concentrate on that one negative part of the evening and choose to think about THAT instead of the many other nice things...

At that moment, I pledged to myself and asked Gary to hold me accountable so that I would NEVER focus on the bad, but continually find the good and rehearse the best...  Over the years, it has sometimes been harder than others, but with the Lord's help I have chosen to concentrate on the good things rather than the negative.

We all need to do this in our homes, with our husbands, and with others.  Don't be so critical!  Some people are so critical of everything, you don't even want to be around them.  They're so busy telling you what's wrong, that when they're around, it feels like there really isn't much right.  I really think if you allow yourself to find fault with yourself and others, it becomes a habit and you do it more and more.  Soon you will find that people avoid you, because no one wants to be around someone who is finding fault all the time!

You then become a MIRROR to show people what's missing, lacking, off, or just not your taste... not a winsome personality that attracts others!

Challenge:  DO NOT CRITICIZE yourself, your husband or others!  Find the good!  Rehearse the good things!  "Build up" rather than "tear down" people and relationships!  If you have a critical HABIT, BREAK it!  Start looking for, finding, and concentrating on the good things today!

Quality Time

Although we always hear a big hype about "quality" time, I have come to find that "quality" time is best found in "quantity" time!  It is so important to do little things together where in the "quantity" of time "quality" is found.

My husband's parents always run all their errands together, so my husband was accustomed to seeing them together wherever they went.  I love it when my husband will go with me to the grocery store, or just to run errands with me.   Because I love it so much, I will go with him to run his errands when I can too.

We also love to play tennis together, bike, or run.  When our children were little, after dinner, he would take the kids out for a walk while I cleaned up, or, better yet, we would all go for a walk together after cleaning up.

Challenge:  Run a few errands with your husband this week!  Or do something fun together -- take a walk, play a game, or sit and talk.  Try to make it something that could become a tradition...

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Giving Your Husband the "Inside Scoop"

He made known his ways unto Moses, his acts unto the children of Israel.”  (Psa 103:7 KJVS)
He let Moses know his ways. He let the Israelites know the things he had done.”  (Psa 103:7 GWORD)

These portions of Scripture taught me a valuable lesson about what I wanted to make known to my husband.  God allowed Moses the "inside scoop" and let Moses know His ways, what went behind His actions, although the children of Israel just knew the things He did, His acts.

With my husband so busy at work, I always made great efforts to communicate my "ways" and our children's "ways," so when he came home he didn't just see what was going on at the moment, but knew the heart, mind, struggles, and inside scoop to why things were happening as they were.

This went a long way when it came to him being more tolerant with someone in the house that was going through something, and it made him much more sensitive to what was going on behind the scenes so he could communicate, parent, and lead more effectively.  

Often, I'll tell him, let's talk about our hopes and dreams! I make sure we talk about "inside" things that don't often come up in conversation, but things I want to be sure that he knows, and I want to know about him.   We'll go over "wish lists," things we want to do for others, and things we want to do together in the house and in our childrens' lives.   We then are able to move toward our goals together, and adapt ourselves to helping the other achieve their hopes, dreams and things important to them.

Challenge:  Does your husband know the "inside scoop" of what is happening in each of the lives in your home?  Does he know the "whys" and the feelings and attitudes behind the actions that are going on in your home?  Has he been made aware of different frustrations and trials people are going through, even emotionally, so he is able to be a better leader?  Take time to keep him well acquainted with what is going on "behind the scenes."
Also, make time to talk about your hopes and dreams and plans with your husband. Know HIS too!  Work together to help him accomplish the things most important to him!  

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Unattractive Adornment

Another substitute, which used to be mainly directed toward women, but I can actually see men falling prey to as well now, is the strong temptation to substitute external appeal for internal beauty.  1 Peter 3.3-4 says:

Let not yours be the [merely] external adorning with [elaborate] interweaving and knotting of the hair, the wearing of jewelry, or changes of clothes; But let it be the inward adorning and beauty of the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible and unfading charm of a gentle and peaceful spirit, which [is not anxious or wrought up, but] is very precious in the sight of God.”  (1Pet 3:3-4 AMP)

Remember now, Scripture is not saying externals are totally unimportant... but that externals are not as important as internals.   Physical appearance is indeed significant.  The warning here is that it not be your primary focus or emphasis.  Being subjected to the relentless bombardment of the media, you will have difficultly keeping this proper scale of priorities.  Such pressure will strong tempt you to substitute a beautiful body, attractive clothing and exquisite accessories for lack of quality within.  God says:  "DON'T DO IT!!!"

Cecil Osborne refers to a person who possesses this over-emphasis on the externals as a "narcissistic woman."  She is one who...

...has an inordinate self-love.  She is unduly preoccupied with her face, her body, and often with her own interests, which she perceives as an extension of herself...
A man married to a narcissistic woman is in for trouble.  If the world does not continue to priase her and if he does not cater to her infantile whims, she may develop any number of physical or emotional symptoms...
A narcissistic woman constantly seeks to be the center of attention.  She seeks flattery and is engaged in constnt battle for popularity.  She is sometimes a 'psychic scalp collector,' flirting with men in order to prove to herself that she has not lost her attractiveness...

For the woman who genuinely wants to be a godly wife, my advice is to give greater attention to your inner person - those "imperishable qualities" - than to your physical attractiveness.  In the long run, believe me, your husband will be much more satisfied and stimulated over your inner beauty!

Really, I can't say enough  about the dangers of focusing on decking yourself out with the latest fashion and labels.  First of all, there are WAY too many other things to spend our ever-shrinking dollar on.  Secondly, although it's nice to have a certain nice thing or two, it is important to realize that a $500 purse or pair of earrings does NOT make you ANY happier than a $25 purse or pair of earrings!  So be wise and keep your focus!   Be BEAUTIFUL INSIDE and you won't need to focus disproportionately on the externals!

Challenge:  This week concentrate on how much TIME you spend on your "external" beauty, and how much TIME you spend developing and demonstrating character by helping others less fortunate, spending time in the Word, in Church ministry, etc.  Balance out the getting and giving; the "inner" beauty and the "outer"!
Recommended reading and where this excerpt is from:
Strike the Original Match, Chuck Swindoll

Friday, September 26, 2008

ICE Woman Can't Melt His Heart!

IN LIKE manner, you married women, be submissive to your own husbands [subordinate yourselves as being secondary to and dependent on them, and adapt yourselves to them], so that even if any do not obey the Word [of God], they may be won over not by discussion but by the [godly] lives of their wives, When they observe the pure and modest way in which you conduct yourselves, together with your reverence [for your husband; you are to feel for him all that reverence includes: to respect, defer to, revere him—to honor, esteem, appreciate, prize, and, in the human sense, to adore him, that is, to admire, praise, be devoted to, deeply love, and enjoy your husband].”  (1Pet 3:1-2 AMP)

We women, even we high spirited women!, are commanded in Scripture to subordinate ourselves, be secondary to and dependent on our husbands, and adapt our lives to theirs, living godly lives in a pure and modest way, revering, respecting, deferring, honoring, esteeming, appreciating, prizing, and adoring him!  Admiring, praising, devoted to, deeply loving and enjoying him!  WHEW -- 

Remember, TWO HEADS make a MONSTER.  God has commanded that our husbands be the head of our home.    When I truly learned that re-modeling my husband was NOT my job, and started following God's commands to do what these scriptures command, my marriage took on incredible meaning, and depth of relationship!

We are to LET OUR HUSBANDS in and ALLOW them to meet our needs.  Remember an Independent Capable Efficient woman is just what the initials spell:  ICE woman!  And no man feels revered, respected, deferred to, honored, esteemed, appreciated, prized and adored by such a woman.

Challenge:  LET your husband meet some of your needs!  Appreciate him!  Adapt your life to his!  Revere, respect, defer to, honor, esteem, appreciate, prize, and adore him! Admire, praise, devote yourself to, deeply love and ENJOY this guy!   And JUST MARVEL as the stars twinkle in BOTH of your eyes!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Husbands are to "Know" their Wives!

In the same way you married men should live considerately with [your wives], with an intelligent recognition [of the marriage relation], honoring the woman as [physically] the weaker, but [realizing that you] are joint heirs of the grace (God’s unmerited favor) of life, in order that your prayers may not be hindered and cut off. [Otherwise you cannot pray effectively.]”  (1Pet 3:7 AMP)

The Greek word "live" suggests being "at home with."  Many a wife is lonely for her husband to sense and minister to her inner spirit.  To give her his attention and personal presence. Women wait to be noticed, to be appreciated, to be given TIME to share and, in return, to hear her husband respond.  

With the computer off.

With the blackberry silenced.

With some available time.

The cheap substitute is providing a living instead of sharing your life. 

Challenge:  Not just to husbands but to wives also:  set aside a block of time every day, and at least one evening every week, for each other.  You cannot imagine the benefits until you actually START this habit~!

Recommended reading and where this excerpt is from: 
Strike the Original Match, Chuck Swindoll

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Cheap Substitutes

We are living in a dayof synthetics. Imitations, counterfeits, and artificial abound. Unfortunately, it fits in our plastic world. Let's face it, we've grown accustomed to cheap substitutes. Synthetic materials have become so perfected they are often actually preferred by many! The phone appears so real you have to examine closely or you're fooled. But when the bottom line is drawn, the genuine is always more valuable than any substitute.

We're going to look at a set of substitutes that are damaging to marriages. Things that are put on the outside to cover up what's missing on the inside. Cheap substitutes that wives and husbands are tempted to use instead of genuine qualities thatmake a marriage strong and stable.

Substitutes Wives Often Use (we'll go over in detail in the future):

Manipulation - to control or play upon by unfair or insidious means, especially to one's own advantage or to serve one's own purpose.

Unattractive adornment - substituting external appeal for internal beauty.

Learning rather than doing - learning more truth is a poor and cheap substitute for stopping and putting into action the truth already learned.

Substitutes Men Often Use (we'll go over in detail in the future):

Enter provider... exit lover - providing a living instead of sharing a life.

The intimidator - demanding instead of managing.

The great smother-up - smothering instead of honoring.

A checklist - how can you tell if you're using substitutes?

To sum up, let all be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit, not returning evil for evil, or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing. (1 Peter 3)

That's an inspired checklist from God. Substitutes disrupt harmony. if there is irritation and disharmony, you are probably substituting. Substituting stops the flow of sympathy, resentment builds up in its place. Kindness ceases and hurts begin. Humility is replaced with selfishness. Insults occur as arguments increase. Ultimately instead of building up each other, an erosion in the marriage transpires as cheap substitutes finally take their toll...

Challenge: Look at any cheap substitutes you may have bought into or fallen into and get back to the things that really matter. Take an honest inventory of where you need to sacrificially invest into your partner's life or talk about things even if they're unpleasant to move forward and make your marriage the awesome marriage God wants it to be!

Recommended reading and where this excerpt is from:
Strike the Original Match, Chuck Swindoll

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Key Words I Learned REALLY Fast...

When we first got married, I realized that it was going to be very interesting to say the least for two very different people to really become "one"! There were so many things we had different opinions on, and my husband and I are both VERY STRONG personalities.

There were several key phrases I learned that helped me through this time. I practiced them over and over again in my mind until they spilled out every time I needed them.

Lay it down
Let it go
Give it up
Forget about it

As issues were discussed, opinions were exchanged, concessions were mandatory, and as I felt I had to "give up" just about everything I was used to, I just kept on saying: "lay it down, Karen, let it go, give it up! - forget about it!" Over and over again, those decisions carried me through years of self-sacrifice for the better of our marriage.

I loved one line in The Family Man movie: Nicholas Cage decides he wants to give up a home in the country to move to the city. Tia Leone is incredulous, because they had planned on staying in the country. I love when in exasperation Tia Leone throws up her hands and says "OK Jack, OK -- I choose YOU."

So many times, when we "lay it down, let it go, give it up, and forget about it," what we are actually doing is "choosing YOU" to our spouse. Submitting in love to the other person. Sacrificially laying down our own desires for someone else.

To me the most amazing thing about love is when we truly LOVE someone enough to die to our own self for them. It makes me feel so God-empowered when I truly love my husband so sacrificially and without demanding anything in return. These are some of the characteristics of that kind of love:

1Corinthians 13:4-8 Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.
Love never dies.

Challenge: Don't concern yourself so much about being LOVED as in LOVING!
Don't concern yourself so much about being LOVED as in being LOVEABLE!
And when the need arises (don't worry, it will soon!), lay it down, let it go, give it up and forget about it! And look over the verses above and see where you need to work on loving, and start there!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Magnetic Love

Do you love and respect your significant other for who he or she IS; and not have an eye to find out or concentrate on who he or she ISN’T. Have you loved your girl or guy enough? Do you appreciate what he or she DOES for you, or are you always harping on the things he or she doesn’t do?

Think of someone in your life who love you the most: they usually think the best of you. You WANT to be around them! Now think of someone who is very critical of you or you know they just don’t like you. You try to avoid them at all costs! Without even realizing it, if we are someone who delights in our mate and who thinks the best of them, they will WANT to be around us more! If we are critical, they will avoid us! Same works true with your children!

If you really love someone, you are interested in the things he is interested in. Nancy Reagan said, “I was, I suppose, a woman of the old school: If you wanted to make your life with a man, you took on whatever his interests were and they became your interests too.” Old school or not, the principle rings true. The happiest married couples are the ones who are genuinely interested in what the other person does.

Dana Reeve, an actress, was a great example. She married a famous movie star, and was a movie star herself. She was a constant companion of Christopher Reeves (superman). After her husband became a quadriplegic, Dana told Chris: “I still love you no matter what. You are still you,” and she became her chief supporter during his 9-1/2 year ordeal and his work for a cure for spinal cord injuries. She then became chairwoman of the Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation, which funded research on paralysis, until she died of lung cancer. She never returned to her own acting, having taken on what was important to her husband.
"I miss his companionship," said Reeve's widow, who wore his wedding band around her neck. "I would really like him here. It's very disorienting to be one person instead of this team we always were."

Nancy Reagan: When they first got married… “I had of course no idea what the future would hold for us. I only knew that I loved Ronald Reagan, and being his wife was then, as it is today, the most important thing in the world for me.”

“In the climate of today, I think it would be good for all of us to focus on the positive, the true, the things that really last, on character, humor, commitment, and love, and on the happy memories of a wonderful man and his life.”

“We were parents now – but we were also careful to never forget our marriage. We were always vigilant to not be ‘careless,’ as Ronnie put it in one letter, “with the treasure that is ours – namely what we are to each other.”

Do you realize the TREASURE you have in your spouse?  Do you appreciate the companionship?  Do you think the best of your mate and admire them, magnetizing your attraction to them as well as how attractive they appeal to you?

Challenge:  Develop the companionship you have with your spouse.  Do a few errands together this week:  even if its picking up the dry cleaning!  Look for ways they are a TREASURE to you and vocalize it!  Make being a husband or wife the most important thing in the world to you.  And STOP CRITICIZING your spouse -- even if you're just critical in your spirit -- stop!   Start appreciating each and every thing your spouse is to you:  and watch how much more your time together means!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

What do you EXPECT?!

One thing we need to say more often is  “It is enough.” Way too many people feel that if they only had one thing or another, THEN they could be content. After the Hurricane struck, people weren’t longing for their THINGS; they were longing for their husbands, wives, sons, daughters, friends and family!!! The sooner you learn that THINGS DO NOT MAKE YOU HAPPY: PEOPLE DO!!!, the better off you’ll be!

But some people seem to keep hanging on to those “if onlys:” If they only could lose five more pounds, they could be happy. If they only had a few hundred more dollars… A bigger house… A better spouse… A better job… Living in the “if only” will only breed discontentment for where you are living in the present.

We have seen more marriages ruined because of foolish people who wanted more and more and more. One exercise we have found to be effective is to make a list of your needs, make sure they are “needs” and not “greeds,” and then ask God to fill those needs. Once you are looking for those needs to be filled, you may be surprised where the answers can come from.

The best benefit of this exercise is that you set your spouse free from being the “prisoner” of your expectations. Say, for example, you expect your husband to give you a “break” when he comes home from work. One day it could be that your husband comes home from work and is able to meet that expectation. However, since it was what you expected you are not grateful; he only met the expectation. Then, one day your husband has an extraordinarily rough day at work and needs a break himself. He comes in the door, exhausted, with the intent of staring blankly at Monday night football. He does manage to clear the table, but then sits down to watch tv. Instead of being grateful he cleared the table, you are upset because you expected him to do so much more. Since he did less than what you expected, you are not only ungrateful for any of his efforts, but you are furious at how little he did when you expected so much.

This cycle happens in many different ways, and cycles repeatedly. I learned many years ago to expect NOTHING in order to become grateful for anything your spouse does for you. Instead of being angry and agitated that they did far less than you expected, expect NOTHING AT ALL! If you learn to expect nothing, you will become a more grateful person. This is simplistic, and I know there are some situations where there are abuses that need to be addressed, but all in all this is one of the principles that made my marriage and even my other relationships better.

One of the best bonuses is that your expectations will be put on God, Who is much better equipped to supply your list of needs than one mere person is. We need to set our spousesfree from being the one totally responsible for filling our needs. No one person can provide all the needs any one complex person has!  

Challenge:  What ARE your "expectations"?  List them and give them to the Lord and let Him fulfill ALL your needs according to HIS riches.  Then be grateful for ANYTHING your spouse does for you!  (And also work on giving them things to be grateful to YOU for too!)

Saturday, September 20, 2008

How You Look...

My sister has a sign hanging in front of the mirror in her bathroom saying, You are looking at the person responsible for your happiness. You will tend to look at your world from the glasses you choose to wear. I had a pair of pink colored glasses on my counter for quite some time to teach my kids and to remind myself to look at their world “through rose-colored glasses” on purpose. And what glasses do you look at your world through? Usually the glasses you are looking at the world through are colored with the STRONGEST character trait you have.

For example, if you are loyal and trustworthy, you will look at other people that way. If you have a negative, complaining spirit, when you leave a party, you will be looking at the party negatively. If you have a grateful spirit, like the women I help when I volunteer at Gilda’s Club, you will be looking at every day to find things to be grateful for.

That explains why several people can live in the same household, and later, when talking about it, they will all see it through the “glasses” they have on. 

What are YOU looking for when you get going with your day? You will see people, circumstances and situations from the glasses you put on each morning. That is why I have always found it is of utmost importance for me to begin each day by reading the Bible and concentrating on good things.

Did you ever walk along and not notice the little glittery pieces in certain parts of sidewalks? If you look carefully, and on purpose, you can spot little “diamonds in the dust.” But if you are rushing along, you will not see the little glittery pieces sprayed amongst the gray.

Stop to call attention to the leaves swirling in circles; to snow covered evergreens, to a flock of geese overhead. Train yourself to find the best in each day! Make it a point to appreciate the good parts of each day, and of each person in your life. Again, it needs to be a concentrated effort!   Retrain your vision!

Challenge:  LOOK for wonderful little "glittery" "diamonds in the dust," you may have otherwise rushed by this week.  Soak in the preciousness of each day, and of the one who loves you and has pledged their life to you.  CLEAN the glasses you look through:  are you NEGATIVE?  -by choice PUT ON a more positive outlook!  are you a COMPLAINER?  -by choice PUT ON a more grateful outlook!  And fill your home and life with JOY!

Friday, September 19, 2008

What do you SEE in each other? Being a person of VIRTUE.

When your significant other talks about you to others, or others talk to them about you, what are they saying about you? Is your guy/girl proud to tell his friends and associates about the things you are doing and the things you are involved in? There are many young couples I know who work longer hours just to stay away from their wives, and they have been married less than a year! These young men talk together about how hard it is to go home to their nagging, unhappy, discontented wives. I would NOT want my husband feeling that way about me!

I think it is important for each one of us to be involved in something that contributes to building our society in some way. Whether it’s volunteering at a hospital, or at a cancer support group or nursing home, whether it’s being in charge of the Brownie troop or some other non-profit organization, it is important that we take the time to give back something to the society of which we are a part. When you take the time to be involved in helping others less fortunate than yourself, many things come about as a result:

*Once you have children, they will see that it is important to take time for others, even while you’re still trying to “get it together” yourself.
*Your family is aware of those less fortunate and less apt to complain about petty things.
*Your family will have an enhanced appreciation of the “gift” of the “present.”

Are you a “virtuous" person?  Some virtues to consider are prudence, temperance, courage, justice; love, hope, faith, humility, kindness, abstinence, chastity, patience, liberality, diligence, faith, hope, charity, fortitude, justice. How are these virtues demonstrated in your daily life? Every person has at least one “gift” – one area where they are strong in. Take your gift and use it to make your world a better place!

A virtuous person can be trusted. Can your significant other trust YOU? In Proverbs 31, it says that the virtuous woman’s husband safely trusts in her, so that he needs nothing.  He needs NOTHING! This woman can be COUNTED ON!

A virtuous person is a hard worker; they cannot be lazy!  They take care of themself. They learn about things they need to know about.  They invest in others' lives.  They are productive!  They WORK at it!    The virtuous person has really got it together!  And when they don’t they're WORKING  towards getting it together!

Challenge:  Assess the virtues you demonstrate in your daily life and work on several areas you want to improve upon.  Find an area you can help out or volunteer in on a regular basis, even if it's only once a month for a few hours:  INVEST in others outside your family.   And be sure that YOUR spouse has need of NOTHING because he/she can safely trust in you!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

"Art's Trudy"

My Mom was telling me of a beautiful woman who loved her husband so much that she often signed her name as "Art's Trudy."  Her husband has died and she is now in a nursing home.  

"Art's Trudy."  Put your significant other's name and your name in their place:  for example, "Gary's Karen."  Can you identify with your significant other that way?  How wonderful to be so aware that you belong to someone like that.

I love the Stephen Curtis Chapman song that says "What I really want to say to you is what the sun would say to the sky for giving it a place to come alive."  Do we provide such a place - for our spouse to "come alive."  Look for ways you can make the space to allow THEM to excel and experience life to the fullest.  Don't be a hindrance to anything they've wanted to do in their lives OR in the week, OR in their day:  allow them to be the best they can be.  Give them space to SHINE.  Provide what they need to SHINE.  

Challenge:  Do you even KNOW what your significant other would love to do to be fully alive?  Are you aware of their dreams, hopes, hobbies, desires?  Provide the SPACE and help your significant other reach their goals.  Get lost in it!  And identify SO closely with your spouse that you walk in the realization that YOU are THEIRS!  And you will BOTH SHINE!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Power of your Words

When one child was asked the meaning of "love" they answered, When you love someone, their name is safe in your mouth.

It should be a constant decision that you NEVER EVER NEVER speak badly about your significant other.  Faith comes by hearing, (Rom 10.17), and when you speak negatively about your guy/girl, you hear it and you believe it all the more.   Your words are either like kindling wood piling up and encouraging the raging fire, or like a fire extinguisher.

James 3:5 A word out of your mouth may seem of no account, but it can accomplish nearly anything—or destroy it!   It only takes a spark, remember, to set off a forest fire.

Proverbs 26:20    When you run out of wood, the fire goes out; when the gossip ends, the quarrel dies down.

Is the name of your guy/girl safe in YOUR mouth?  Have you spoken badly of them? Remember, what you feed GROWS, what you starve DIES.  It starts from what you ALLOW yourself to THINK of the other person.  What you THINK WILL eventually come out of your mouth!  Change the way you THINK FIRST.  Then be sure to ONLY speak well ALWAYS of your spouse, whether they are present or absent.   And you WILL eat the fruit of the words you say about them.

Proverbs 18:21    Words kill, words give life;
they’re either poison or fruit—you choose.

Challenge:  Make sure ALL your words are LIFE.  Check your innermost THOUGHTS about your significant other and do NOT make excuses or allow yourself to think badly about him/her.  Speak as many words that give life as you can!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The "WOW" Factor...

Through the years, there have been many trying times when Gary really tested my nerves...  BUT at those times, the "WOW" FACTOR (or the "whatta guy/girl" factor) came through...

What is the WOW factor?  It's those times when you do something WAY out of the way or out of your comfort zone for the other person.  It's learning to play euchre because the other person loves it.  Playing tennis when it's your LEAST FAVORITE game because it's the other person's MOST FAVORITE.  It's learning to love football because they love it (this pays off over MANY football seasons and MANY years!).  It's doing something unexpected and amazingly special for the other person at a great personal sacrifice.  (Here Jesse gave up the big hills to hang out with Amber while she learned to ski at Boyne!)

WOW factors should be done frequently.  When is the last time you REALLY WOWED your guy/girl?  Can you list the last THREE times?  You are NEVER too busy to WOW the other person!   Then when those special times are recounted, your significant other can keep saying as they shake their head in amazement:  "WOW:  WHATTA GUY(GIRL)!!!!!"  

Challenge:  REALLY look for opportunities to WOW your significant other.  Even make a little list of ways you can continually WOW them.  Be that "WHATTA GUY!" or "WHATTA GIRL" that makes your spouse AMAZED continually!  You will NOT be sorry!

Ephesians 5:16 Make the most of every chance you get. These are desperate times!

Monday, September 15, 2008

You Find What You're Looking For...

I always knew that I would "write my own love story," based on my perspective.  

When I taught Christa's class this concept, I took a HUGE bunch of gorgeous irises, my favorite flower.  I had half the class come up to the irises and tell me everything good about them.  They listed a bunch of things.  THEN I had the other half of the class come up and tell me everything WRONG with the irises.  They had no problem listing things wrong.

What I always told my kids was that if they wanted to find ways I was a wonderful mom, they'd have plenty to list; but if they wanted to find things wrong they'd be able to do that as well.  You WILL FIND what you are looking for.

Same with your honey:  What are you concentrating on; what are you looking for?  Look for the good things and you will find them.  Purpose to NOT FIND FAULT or things wrong.   Appreciate all the wonderful things about your significant other and CELEBRATE THEM.  

Challenge:  For one week, purpose to be grateful and appreciative of everything your sweetheart is to you.  Focus ONLY on the good things; REFUSE to focus on what you feel is "lacking" in your opinion.  WRITE YOUR LOVE STORY:  make it FUN.  Verbalize everything you appreciate.  Flirt and SAY the things you love about him/her OUT LOUD.  And see how much FUN you can have writing an amazing love story!  It may become a HABIT!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

What is Marriage?


These blogs are intended to be a work out for your relationships. We will begin by looking at God’s original blueprint for marriage. We need to put behind us all preconceived ideas as we look at God’s Word to see what God intended when He instituted the mystery and ministry of marriage! Let’s open our hearts and minds to see, realize, and live out the blessings God intended to give us through marriage.

God desires us to understand marriage from His point of view. Looking at our Guidebook for life, the Bible, we see that most of the references to marriage, the bride, and the bridegroom, pertain to the union of Christ and His Church. Christ is the Bridegroom and His Church is the Bride!

What is marriage? It is given to us to be a reflection of the TRUE marriage relationship of Christ and His Bride, the Church!

Jesus spoke to us in parables because He told His disciples it is given unto us to know mysteries of the kingdom of heaven. To those of the world it is not given. (Matt 13.11) Scripture shows us that marriage is a “parable” of what our relationship to Christ is supposed to be! In Ephesians chapter 5 we see a description of the relationship between husbands and wives, then it is stated this is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the Church… (Eph 5.32)

Through marriage we are to understand the mystery of Christ in us, the hope of glory, that lifts us up to heavenly places. Marriage helps us know the wisdom of God so we can be presented perfect in Christ! (1 Cor 4.1, Col 1.27-28, Eph 3.9-11)

It is clear in Scripture that our marriages were given to us as a gift from God so that we could see and understand even more deeply the relationship between Christ and His Church, which our marriage relationships are made to reflect. Our marriages should be a reflection, an image, of Christ’s relationship to His Church, and our relationship to Him!

Why isn’t our marriage a reflection of the beautiful relationship Christ has with His Church? Because if our relationship with Jesus is not what it should be, we don’t have the true standard God gave us to line up our marriage with!

So we need to realize that the only way to get marriage in the proper perspective is to get our eyes back on our relationship with Jesus. The best way to understand what God intends for our earthly union with our mate is to get our eyes on what He intends for our relationship to be with His Son Jesus.

We are going to look at God’s original blueprint for our marriage as we look at the parallels of Christ’s original blueprint for His union with His Church! We will line up our relationship with the Lord, and in so doing we will make our marriages be the amazing reflection of that relationship that it was meant to be.

All we need is to realize the fullness of one relationship to see the potential for fullness in the other. For example, if we need total commitment to God to the point of forsaking all others, we can easily see that the same commitment is needed for our mate: commitment to the forsaking of all others! We can see that we have to work at our marriage constantly to keep it growing and going forward, and how much more we need to work on our relationship with Jesus so that it goes from glory to glory!

Remember, our marriage is just a shadow of the glory of the marriage between Christ and the Church. A reflection is nothing compared with the reality. Consider the moon that reflects the glory of the sun. Although the moon is magnificent, its real beauty lies in the fact that it is reflecting the glory of the sun, an element so much larger that we overwhelmed with its power and glory. In the same way, nothing can be as beautiful as our union with our Lord. But how exciting that He gave us something to reflect even part of the glory of His relationship to His Church!

Let us now look at marriage the way God intended us to: as a mirror to see and realize His love for us, as a shadow of His union with us. To know on earth what it takes to be one spirit with another, commit to a relationship, to prepare and work at a oneness that is accountable to another, that will stand through tests and trials and yet continue to grow into the perfect fullness of what a relationship should be. Let us look at the freedom of losing our life in another to find what life is (Luke 9.24), of decreasing in a relationship for One to increase (John 3.30). Let us look at marriage as a constant reminder of our relationship to the Lord, as we look to Him to give us the power to fulfill His plan for our marriage and reflect His glory through it!

Six parallels:

1. Preparation
2. Total commitment
3. One spirit
4. Stands through tests and trials
5. Grows into perfect fullness
6. Singleness of focus

There are so many parallels to learn about marriage when we look at it from the perspective of it being a reflection of the relationship Christ wants us to have with Him! We are only going to address six parallels, but the Holy Spirit will show you more as you meditate on the Word of God. The Holy Spirit will give you the analogy He wants you to apply to your marriage relationship: both as Christ’s Bride and as a mate to your spouse!

As we look at the exciting possibilities for our marriage, don’t get discouraged; rather be encouraged. We are going forward and working out to bring our marriages up to where God intended them to be. In this lesson we will look at what kind of relationship is possible to have with our spouse; and the rest of the lessons we will look at and apply God’s Word to different areas to bring our marriages to where they should be.


*Where is my relationship with the Lord lacking where I can clearly see negative results?
(ideas: have I neglected spending time in His Word; talking to Him; hearing from
Him; putting Him first; considering His desires; giving Him top priority; am I
distracted with less important things or things that aren’t eternal – or even with
things He has blessed me with?...)

*Where is my relationship with my spouse/significant other lacking where I can clearly see negative results?
(ideas: same as above!)

*From the LORD’S perspective, what do I sacrificially do to invest in our relationship?

*From my SPOUSE’S/SIGNIFICANT OTHER’S perspective, what do I sacrificially do to invest in our relationship?

*What can I do to improve both relationships (with the Lord and then with my spouse/significant other)?

*What are some other ways that my relationship with the Lord as His Bride parallel my marriage or relationship with a significant other?