Monthly Archives: May 2017

Romance After the Wedding: Are We Expecting Too Much?

We all long for the passion and romance of when we first fell in love. In the early days of a budding love story, romantic moments are all over the place. But what should our expectation be, though, after we’ve been married one year, 10 years or 30 years?

Does romance have to die out and be replaced with apathy and boredom?

Maybe it’s time to redefine romance, particularly romance in marriage. It’s more than roses and romantic words!

What Is Romance, Really?

Romance is about doing something for your loved one that is special, unexpected or exciting. But over time, what we’ve come to view as romance now comes from what Hollywood and big business is selling to us: the extravagant fine dining experience with waiters hovering by, exquisite French chocolates and dozens of roses, and even the huge engagement ring with extra size bling.

While there is nothing wrong with fine dining, French chocolates or giving a beautiful diamond ring, these extravagant experiences and gifts in the earlier stages of a relationship can later lead to unrealistic expectations for Romance in marriage.

In Scripture, there are no romantic scenes in the way we’ve come to define romance. But there are examples of romantic, passionate love; like the way Jacob worked for his prospective father-in-law for seven years to win the hand of his bride. The Bible tells us those seven years “seemed like only a few days to him because his love for her was so great.”(Genesis 29:20) From Jacob, we learn that true Romance is unexpected, utter devotion that perseveres.

Or, take the story of the young widow Ruth and the noble land owner Boaz. The tenderness with which he treats her and protects her honor shows that romance is about the highest good and special care we offer our loved one.

A Different Kind Of Romance

In my case, one of my favorite romantic moments occurred when I was pregnant with our first child. I was in my first trimester and very ill. I couldn’t keep anything down. I was reduced to bed rest and became somewhat depressed. Several days went by and I hadn’t even showered or done my hair, that’s how despondent I was feeling.

My husband called the doctor and told them he was bringing me in against my wishes to just be left in my bed. Then, he carefully lifted me up in his strong arms and carried me to the bathroom where he had a tub of hot, sudsy water waiting for me. Against my weak protests, he placed me in the tub and then kneeled by it and began to shampoo my hair. The hot water was soothing and so was my husband’s tenderness toward me. He knew how depressed I was feeling, and to lighten the mood, he pretended to be a French hair dresser and spoke in this ridiculous accent. I began to weakly smile for the first time in weeks.

He won my heart all over again that day, and it definitely wasn’t with chocolates or roses. While it would never classify as a romantic moment in the eyes of Hollywood or Hallmark, it is one of my cherished memories of feeling such love for my husband because of the way he cared for me – and isn’t that the goal of true romance?

Next To My Heart

Many times we get sloppy in marriage or in heated arguments over the lack of fun or who is not trying enough. Especially if you are looking for the quintessential displays of romance, you might miss the subtle romantic signs that you are being cherished.

Recently I watched the new BBC series, Victoria, about the real life marriage of Queen Victoria and her beloved Prince Albert. There’s a scene from their courtship where the two are dancing together and she gives him the corsage she is wearing.

He mentions he has no place to put the corsage, but then suddenly takes a knife out of his boot and calmly cuts open his shirt and places the flower in the hole “next to my heart.” Viewers have been all in a tizzy over the passionate and historically accurate scene. And it was borne out of something that Albert unexpectedly did for her because of what he felt for her, in that very moment.

Ignite the Romance Again

So part of igniting romance is expressing our deep feelings, as transparently as possible. We have no problem doing that when we first fall in love, but then 10 or 20 years later, we somehow forget the essence of romance. And it starts when we open our mouths and speak the tender thoughts that run through our head, or take the action that will show our spouse that we care deeply for them.

It can be a fragrant burning candle at dinner time and a note left under your husband’s dinner plate, telling him how much you admire him and appreciate him. Or romance can ignite in a crowded room, when you suddenly lean over and whisper in your wife’s ear the reason why you choose her over all the women there.

Because Romance is more than chocolates and roses. It’s about the special, unexpected, or exciting moments when your heart is full and you put that love into action or words. It’s about recognizing the beauty and lasting nature of your love for each other. And then, in that moment, choosing to show that you’ve seen your spouse for who they are: the love of your life.

 

(Read this article of mine and more Relationship articles at Believe )

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The Holy “No”: Setting Yourself Free From the Fear of Saying No!

It’s natural that we look forward to the big “yes” moments in our lives, like saying yes to a wedding proposal or a great job offer. The day we say yes to God and allow Him to be the Lord of our lives is a significant turning point.

On the other hand, we generally don’t enjoy having to say no to people.

We often struggle in declining an invitation to an event or denying someone’s request for help because we don’t want to appear harsh or unloving.

We obviously can’t say yes to every request that comes our way without overextending ourselves. But learning to say no to people doesn’t have to be a negative, stressful experience.

Open Doors

Every one of us is a steward of our time; the question is, how good of a steward are we? Stewardship involves the ability to manage our time, and that involves learning to saying no. This is especially important when we are working long hours, busy at home with children, newly married and trying to get time with our spouse, or dating and talking to people online. In these and other situations, saying no can be quite challenging.

But saying no to something doesn’t necessarily mean we are closing a door; it may just mean that we are indirectly saying a resounding yes to something else, like yes to time with our family or periods of much needed rest. It also means you’re saying yes to allowing others to come into the picture who may more adequately help the person in need.

Learning How To Say No

If you struggle to turn down all those invitations or requests for help, it’s time to practice saying no. Here’s how:

  1. Begin graciously. You can still show empathy for someone’s needs while declining to be involved. Your tone of voice can reveal kindness even when you have to deny someone what they are asking for. “I’m so sorry that you’re experiencing that, but I won’t be able to assist you at this time.”
  2. …..                                                                                                                                            (Read the rest of my article at Believe )

The “T” Word: How to Build Trust When Dating Someone New

In relationships, we often hear “I trusted him, but he broke my heart!” Getting to know someone does involve a degree of vulnerability and openness, but we can let our hearts get emotionally attached to someone and place too much trust in them without knowing their feelings and intentions toward us.

Many times, we think we are falling in love with someone when really we are just naively and prematurely placing our trust in someone – and we haven’t yet defined whether the relationship warrants our full trust in the person.

Misplaced trust leads to broken hearts, and is one of the most painful experiences we go through. But it also turns our eyes back to God, the One who is worthy of our trust.

Love And Trust

Trust and love may go hand in hand, but they certainly aren’t the same thing. We often incorrectly define Love as the feelings and emotions of passionate attraction to someone; however, it’s a deeper, intentional perspective and commitment than that.

In addition, we mistakenly think we should automatically trust a person with our heart because of what we feel for them. But you could be setting yourself up for a broken heart by associating your feelings for them as a reason for opening up your heart completely, but prematurely, to them.

In Scripture, we are admonished to love one another as Christ loves us, serve one another, bear with one another – but never does it say, “Trust one another.” Trust must be cultivated. It has to be earned. Aside from emotionally falling in love with someone, you need to also see if they are trustworthy. This involves an evaluation of their intentions and their character – specifically, if they have Christ-like character.

How, When And Who To Trust

Not sure where to start with trusting someone you’re dating? Use these guidelines for when you begin a new relationship:

  • Trust shouldn’t be given on command. Trust has to be cultivated and build. It should never be commanded from someone. Abusive and unhealthy relationships specialize in this. Credible, mature people will expect that trust has to be earned and built over time – and they will comply with this relational process in a spirit of grace and patience.
  • Misplaced trust puts too much pressure on the relationship. Fully trusting someone early on in a relationship puts too much pressure on that relationship. It’s like looking at wedding rings on your first date. Relationships crack under that pressure. Refrain from premature reassurances of, “I trust you, it’s okay.” Communicate about the concerns you have instead of just deferring to the word “trust” as a crutch. Consult with God, who you can fully trust to guide you. (Prov 3:5-6)
  • Establish trust one step at a time. It’s not wise to open up and share the deepest scars of your past on the first couple of dates. You need to discern whether the person you are dating is sincerely interested in you as a person and whether they have the maturity and grace to accept your past experiences. Eventually, it will be appropriate for you to be more vulnerable as the relationship becomes ……

(Read the rest of my article at Believe: Dating. Marriage. Relationships the Christian Way

Daily Devotions or Despair?

God desires to speak into our hearts and radically change our lives, our dysfunctional patterns and our mindsets.

Daily time spent in God’s Word brings refreshment and perspective. Scripture tells us that “The revelation of Your words brings light and gives understanding to the inexperienced.” (Psalm 119:130) When it comes to  improving our relationships, we greatly need this understanding and discernment found in studying God’s Word.

Boxes Of Journals

I know in my case that trying to have a daily quiet time with God has been quite the journey. I’ve tried many approaches. I have boxes of journals that I’ve written in, pouring out my hurts, my concerns, my questions for God. I’ve tried disciplined reading plans and systematic study, as well as a free flow approach: open the Bible and point to a verse!

Throughout all the attempts to study the Bible, deep down I knew that I should do it, no matter how daunting a task it seemed at times. But in failing to get to a disciplined daily plan, I experienced guilt and often dreaded having a daily devotion.

Many of us often struggle with guilt if we have not been consistent in reading our Bible or we lack the desire to even start a disciplined plan of reading and devotions.

But discipline, in and of itself, is not the goal when it comes to having daily devotions; it’s all about the connection with God.

God desires to speak into our hearts and radically change our lives, our dysfunctional patterns and our mindsets.

Longing For God’s Word

I believe it’s God’s desire that we learn to approach our time in His Word with anticipation, not anxiety. So how do we do that?

Here are three tips to help you look forward to your daily devotion…

(Finish reading this post at Believe )

Complaining About Your Marriage Might Just Save Someone Else’s

Marriage isn’t for cowards. It isn’t for idealists, either.

Perhaps one reason why marriages are failing at an alarming rate is that people idealize what marriage will be like. They marry and find themselves in a world mixed with joy and pain, commitment and contention. They look around and see other married couples smiling and holding hands, and they wonder what they are doing wrong.

What they don’t realize is that every married couple out there has gone through difficult times and struggled in some area of their marriage. They just haven’t heard anyone complaining about these tough times … yet.

The Truth About Happily Ever After

The prevailing fairy tale is that as soon as you find your prince, you live happily ever after. But the reality looks a little different when you’re married. You now have someone who is committed to you and who loves you enough to be amused and also annoyed by you at times, someone who will see you at your best and at your worst. Even though it isn’t always easy, your spouse is there with you through it all.

That’s the good news we need to share with each other. But we also need to share about our disagreements and hurts (without betraying our spouse in a complete tell-all).

I’m not suggesting we throw our mate under a bus and blurt out every embarrassing or sad detail of our marital disharmony. But a little healthy complaining about the realities of your marriage may just encourage your married friends who are comparing themselves to an impossibly perfect picture of what marriage should be.

The more we see and hear of friction and squabbles in the lives of other couples, the more we realize what a normal marriage is like. We won’t freak out when we’ve had a season of intense irritability with each other, a week of stormy silences or a day where we just could not stand to be in the same room with our spouse for one second longer.

We’ll start to accept the ebb and flow of marriage and relax into those tough times with an attitude of “this too shall pass.”

When we smilingly “complain” about our marriage and open up about the journey we’re on, we teach other couples these 3 key truths about Marriage: …

 

(READ the rest of my article at Believe )
*(Feel free to click on “Leave a Reply” at the beginning of this post and comment!)

Breaking the Stronghold of Fear

See these women here? They’re about to change their world for good.

Because the way to bring positive change to the world at large is to first bring change  and healing to our personal world, our troubled souls, our deep hidden chambers of the heart. It’s the toughest work we’ll ever do, dealing with our past, our fears, our hurts and pain.

But nothing says  “Womens Liberation” better than to be freed up from the things that hold us back.

So at this Retreat, we first started with my workshop on Breaking the Stronghold of Fear. We talked about our First Fear– our first memory of trauma or loss, and the  resulting broken trust. Broken Trust causes a knee jerk reaction in us and in our subsequent relationships.

Many of us are still frozen back in that painful experience of trauma, and all other fears we later experience are layered over that initial experience where trust was broken and Fear entered in.

These layers of fear over fear can occur overtime until we are bound up by compulsions and unhealthy ways of coping–all resulting from the first fear that’s swallowing us up.

And then there’s the convoluted convictions we develop, that affect our relationships. These are the skewed negative “beliefs” that we have become convinced of, due to the trauma, that now dictate how we approach relationships and handle the ups and downs of learning to love and appropriately trust key people in our lives.

But we don’t do too well in these horizontal realtionships if we are reacting out of our past and having a hard time trusting the most Trustworthy person of all to help us–and that’s God.

Don’t believe the lies that God is out to get you, is angry at you, or is ready to catch you…when you’re doing something the least bit wrong. No, that’s not the God I know. Understanding God’s motive, his heart, and His plan for you will change everything.

It will change your world. It’ll change you. And then you will go out and change the world… for good.

It’s a journey. It involves the uncomfortable work of looking at your past and acknowledging the truth of any past trauma.  But the terror of your greatest nightmare, your worst fear, can not compare to the magnitude of God’s great, healing Love for you. So get ready.

It’s time to Break the Stronghold of Fear.