Category Archives: Advice

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 )

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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!)

Recovering From Rejection After A Big Breakup

Rejection is one of the hardest things to handle and the most insidious in the way it does damage to our self esteem. Things can appear to be going so well in a budding relationship, when all of a sudden you get a text or a phone call saying, “We need to talk.” When the phone call ends and so does the relationship, we can be left broken hearted and questioning our self worth. But it’s really not the Rejection itself that does the damage– it’s often what we believe about ourselves when we’ve been rejected.

Lost And Found

After a painful experience of rejection, we need a time of recuperation. Recuperation isn’t just about recovering from something; it’s also about regaining something. Often when we’ve been rejected, we lose our confidence, and our self esteem plummets.

In order to recuperate when you’ve been rejected, you’ve got to re-interpret that message of rejection and replace it with one that more accurately reflects the work of your ongoing personal growth and your hope of a lasting future relationship.

Here are 4 ways to replace the message of Rejection with the appropriate message of Hope:

(Read the rest of my Article at BELIEVE– “Dating. Marriage. Relationships the Christian Way.”)

Depression: How To Let the Light Into Your Darkness

Many Christians have battled depression, but few feel comfortable talking about this all too common problem. It’s often too deep for words, the darkness and sadness we feel. It can be caused by a clinical disorder that requires medical intervention. For many of us, though, depression is a complicated experience often having to do with our delayed response to a season of stress, grief or an earlier trauma in our lives that we never dealt with.

These dark places in our past leave memories we often don’t want to deal with or speak of, and that’s understandable. Unexpressed grief and sorrow, though, will only resurface in one way or another, often ushering in waves of depression. But there’s much healing and freedom when we bring these past painful experiences to the light.

Turn the Light On

Scripture tells us that in bringing our sorrows and grief to Christ, we can be comforted in knowing He understands our pain as he was “a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief” (Is 53:3). There’s no judgment when we come to God in prayer about our weakness or pain. God has a way to bring light into our dark situation, and it begins with a simple but powerful word—Confession.

Confession isn’t just about the admission of sin or mistakes we’ve made. It’s also about an admission of our own need, our own pain, and the truth of our painful experiences.

Confession is part of the labor of love that is necessary for proper self love or self care. It’s also part of the work we must do of grappling with grief—not ignoring it, not stuffing it, not denying it. It’s got to be done. And when you do, you turn the lights on inside you, and find that there is nothing hidden there that God can’t heal.

Here are 3 aspects of confession that we can incorporate into our lives that will help us when we are experiencing a season of depression…

(Read the rest of this post at  Believe)

What Do You Have To Give Up For Love??

Before I met my husband, I had an active dating life. Going out on dates was exciting and fun … until it wasn’t anymore! I found out there was an aspect of my personality that my dates couldn’t seem to deal with. Inevitably, as the guy would be driving me home at the end of the first or second date, he would turn to me and say, “You know, you think too much!”

When that would happen, I knew the relationship was over before it had begun. How my mind worked, my creative, overly analytical self, wasn’t something I could change. But I often wondered if I should in order to make that relationship work.

We all know we have to make compromises in a healthy relationship. There’s no such thing as instant and complete compatibility. But there’s a difference between healthy compromises that are necessary, and having to change fundamental aspects of your personality just to make a relationship work! So, what exactly do you have to give up for love??

Step Out Of Your Comfort Zone

Compromise is about reaching an agreement by each person making a type of concession or adjustment. In other words, we don’t get to have our own way all the time – and that’s actually good for us and for our growth as Christians. Ephesians 4:2 reminds us: “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” That’s good relationship advice.

The areas where we generally should compromise on are usually in the area of our need for always being in control or always being right. In learning to compromise in our dating relationships, we learn how to get out of our comfort zone and grow up. As the Apostle Paul said in 1 Corinthians 13:11, “When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things.”

When It Doesn’t Work

But sometimes, compromise is not the right approach to take. There may come a point in your relationship where you both hit a wall of differences too great to overcome. Beyond differences even, it may have to do with who you are, at your very core.

Here are some important areas you should not compromise on:…

(…Read the rest of my article at Believe !!)

The Sound of a Healthy Relationship

Nothing really shocks me when it comes to the reality of relationship problems many of us experience. So over the years, I’ve had the privilege of couples asking me to help spiritually counsel them in their troubled relationships. I’ve listened to women weeping, and men with averted eyes of pain, sharing their stories of relational breakdown. And the sound of weeping, angry words, and anguished questioning breaks my heart. It breaks God’s heart too.

But there is another sound that is literally music to my ears. It’s a secret, almost indiscernible sound that occurs in healthy relationships. And when I hear it, I get excited for that couple and their future. It’s not romantic music playing in the background or the sound of someone whispering sweet nothings in their partner’s ears.

Let me tell you about the sound of a couple on their way to growth, wholeness, and lasting love. Listen in as they talk to each other and deal with their baggage and their pain. Here’s what you’ll hear with your spiritual ears, if you listen carefully:

It’s the sound of chains falling. Bondages being broken.

When I see a couple that knows how to not only care for one another, forgive each other– yes, all that– but actually knows how to powerfully and prayerfully counsel each other, then I know that couple will make it. They will go the distance. They can overcome any obstacle, trial, or challenge in their relationship.

I Didn’t Sign Up for That!

You might say, “Lauren, I’m not a trained counselor! I didn’t sign up to do counseling when I got married.”

But you don’t have to have a Master’s degree to counsel your loved one. You don’t have to have thick psychology textbooks on hand to speak to your spouse the words that will break that despair they’re battling, that bondage they’re under. You just have to lovingly listen, and know the Bondage Breaker Himself, Jesus Christ. He will break every chain of deception and despair that’s on you. His Word speaks with authority.

And it’s not that you have to be a theologian and understand every nuance in every verse. The basic principles are there for even a child to understand: He is for us, not against us. He gave His life for us so that we can have abundant life. It’s His will that we forgive each other, bear with each other, love each other. And it’s not His will that we are in bondage to any secret sin, addiction, or pattern of defeat.

So here’s how you start: agree that you won’t ever lie to each other about what you’re personally battling. Agree that you both may have negative patterns developed from your past that need to be changed. And agree that in your relationship, you will pray for and fight for healing, wholeness and personal growth. Pray for that repeatedly.

And I’ll Be There…Always

Be committed to being each other’s counselor in the best sense of that word–because the Holy Spirit is our Counselor.

John 14:15-17 …I will ask the Father to give you another Helper, to be with you always. He is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor recognizes him. But you recognize him, because he lives with you and will be in you.

The Holy Spirit comforts and helps us. He counsels and convicts us when we’re going off course. And while we don’t have the perfection of soul to convict someone of sin (leave that to God) there is something powerfully important about His ultimate function on earth: He is always with us. Ask God to help you function the same way, with your fiance or spouse. Commit to being there for them, always, in that same attitude.

Unstoppable

In our 33 years of marriage, Bill and I have counseled and comforted each other countless times. We have often joked about sending each other a bill for our counseling services rendered to each other. We’ve logged thousands and thousands of hours of prayerfully listening to each other unburden ourselves of hurts, fears, and painful memories from our past. And because of that trust built, the healing received, and the comfort of counsel given, we’ve become unstoppable as a married couple.

So reassure your spouse of your commitment to them. Tell your loved one, “I want to see you well. I want to see you whole. I want to see you walking in everything God has destined for you. And I’m not going to stop listening to you and praying and declaring that over you.

Let them hear you say that. Say it with conviction. And live it out.

Then get ready to hear that wonderful sound that lets the two of you know–you will make it: It’s the sound of Chains Falling.

Falling Like Rain: BREAK UPS

I love old maxims and proverbs, things like “Into every life a little rain must fall.” But I have a new saying of my own for all my single, dating friends out there, experiencing hope and heart ache–

Into every life, a little Relationship must fall.

Little Relationships are Relationships that are puny in perspective,  and powerless to go the distance. They’re short-legged because they run out of steam from rushing ahead with emotion only to find there’s no substance after just one week of dating or after just one major disagreement. The first major fight you have, he’s all shaken up. She thinks the sky is falling.

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