Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Go First - But Don't Put Yourself First

No one gives us a manual on marriage and no human has all the answers. It's detrimental to our relationships that we, as a society, put more emphasis on self rather than our spouses. When we buy in to the romance that Hollywood portrays, we miss out on something so much better. But when we step out beyond ourselves, we are able to experience the love God meant for us. The hardest thing for us to get, as humans, is that it just isn't about us.

Someone has to be willing to go first. Someone has to be willing to be changed for the sake of the other. Maybe in an ideal world do you hear of both people going at the same time but obviously we don't live in one. What was so hard for me to accept is this:
People have to want to change, we cannot make them. If we try and manipulate the change ourselves, they'll resent us for it later. They have to be in the position of seeking change with all their hearts before they can hear or even consider. Chances are you need changes at least as much as they do, so why not go first?
The person who wants change the most has to be willing to meet the others person's needs as much as necessary without asking for anything in return.  That person has to want change badly enough that they're willing to overlook "petty" things in order to see some changes take place beyond themselves.

That person has to be willing to forgive and give the benefit of the doubt, because forgiveness is key in relationships between flawed people - and we all are flawed. I have realized that my husband has had trouble forgiving himself of certain things. My forgiveness seems to set forgiveness in motion full circle. Last week, I asked him to share with me what I do that makes him feel loved the most. His response was an unexpected but pleasant surprise, " You show me kindness when I mess up."

Go first, be willing to be transformed by the One who knows what He is doing. Give up what you want because that's the best way to show love. Don't wait on Him to change someone else's heart when you could be missing out on a bigger blessing. Sometimes we don't know the why's, how's or what if's but we don't really have to know - we just need to trust that it's always His desire to heal relationships.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Handle with Care

Emotions are at the wheel and our world is out of control. In just 35 years, I can't help but notice that we as a society are becoming increasingly emotionally driven. It's commonplace to hear things like, "If it feels good, do it." Nearly everything we do is driven by how we feel, directly opposite of discipline and self control. I've been convicted of it quite often and it's taken me this long to realize that being a Christian means I must put my feelings aside in order to experience the life He meant for me.

Here are my observations. Self esteem and faith are intertwined all for the sake of feelings because we all think we have to feel good about our self to the extent that we miss out on experiencing true joy. Marriages are falling apart because people decide they don't feel "in love" anymore. And parents are more permissive than ever, making their main goal to make their kids to "feel good" even if it means discarding all the right things to teach them. You see it in the news constantly - someone is out of control, making decisions that they won't be happy with later all because they followed their feelings.

I get hung up on my feelings as much as anyone, and I'm not pointing any fingers here. Nonetheless, we shouldn't let our feelings boss us around, and the proof is in the Word. Times when I have chosen  to be a slave to my feelings, my life has been a huge mess. I have found that you have to actively check your feelings against God's guidelines or you'll just be tossed around like a small boat in a hurricane.
Keeping my feelings in check provides for accountability. When someone hurts my feelings, it's up to me to get over it and to forgive. And even if they do apologize, I have to make a choice here to move on past how I feel. When an unhealthy thought crosses my mind, it's up to me to decide whether to continue pondering on it and if I don't my feelings will get too big for their britches and try to rule me again. When I feel emotional, it's up to me to maintain control of myself. I often have to remind myself, "Just because I can doesn't mean I should."

Feelings change but God never does. Feelings are fickle, and we never know what we'll get if we count on them to guide us. However, feelings do have a valuable role. Feelings often steer us from danger. They can serve as a compass when used properly, but never on their own. God's word has to be our check and balance point for thoughts and feelings alike in order to avoid misery.

We are called to be the salt and the light. Salt isn't easily manipulated - it changes everything it touches. With salt, you always know what you're getting and you can't miss it. Light can't be hidden no matter what, even if you bury it and it would still shine on something. If we're to be light and salt, we can only be those things from the faith we have in Him - not in ourselves and surely not in our feelings.
Some valuable resources I have found on feelings are:
Bible verses about our Feelings
Attitudes and Emotions
Please feel free to share any resources you have as well.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Pressure Points

I tend to worry, I tend to over think things - a lot. My parents are both worriers and I have struggled with worrying my whole life, even as a child. Because I expect a lot out of myself, I tend to put a lot of pressure on myself to get it right and frankly I fail more times than I care to count. Somehow I have the thought in my head that it's up to me to get it right and I struggle with that lie more often than any other.

I put all this pressure on myself to accomplish things that at the end of the day aren't really all that important. I find myself having panic attacks from the needless stress that I put myself through. I get so tired of the pressure and the sinking feeling in my stomach that it causes. It affects my moods, my relationships and my spiritual life. Are you starting to see the pattern here?

Some people are so laid back and tend to go with the flow much more easily than I do. They rarely, if ever, seem stressed and never seem as disappointed as I tend to get. So many times I catch myself envying that personality trait and wishing I were more like that, but I'm not and I can't make myself be someone I'm just not. But then again every personality has it's flaws and we all struggle with something.

The Holy Spirit recently led me to see that the pressure I feel is pressure I put on myself and it isn't about what I can do, who I can be or whether I get it right - it's about less of me and more of Him. It's not even about whether I get anything right. It's about whether I'm willing to surrender what I want, who I am and the life I live to Jesus Christ no matter what feelings I might battle in any given moment. No matter what I feel, being a Christian by Christ's standards means I surrender it all - both the things I can and cannot do.

The pressure to get it right is gone when I realize that all I have to do is surrender. Surrendering isn't giving up, it's giving our life to Him. But if we look as surrendering as a loss, we miss out on the love and the mercy He is offering us. If we overlook the importance of surrendering everything, we miss out on opportunities to grow our faith and to grow closer to Him. Lack of surrender equals lack of faith. Lack of faith equals loads of pressure, loneliness, useless striving and an unrewarding life in general. We greatly underestimate how crucial surrendering is in our society.

We can each believe in ourselves and our abilities for so long, but eventually we all have to come to see that we just can't do as much or as well on our own as we originally thought...then what? Then we're supposed to surrender to Him, who can.

Ah ha! It took me 35 years to get that...but it took so long not because of Him, but because I am so hellbent on doing it my way so much of the time. Please pray for me on this matter. And if you struggle with this too, please leave me a note or send an email to me at and I'll do the same for you.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Starving for Information

I like to write, but I also love to read. I especially love to read in order to learn from the experiences and ideas of others. I never, ever want to discredit the Bible, but I'm a big believer that one of God's gifts to us is each other and I think we take it for granted when we don't want to learn from the things He has shown others. Even though none of us see things the exact same way, being teachable through our willingness to learn from others helps us to think outside of our own boxes. I am so guilty of being stuck in my own box and not being able to see outside of it at times makes me nuts, so I seek to understand more than I am naturally able to by reading. He has used others so many times to help me to see things another way and It's time I share with you some of my favorite sites on various topics. However, we should never underestimate that the Bible, above all things, is our BEST resource.

I hope you'll find some you like and, most importantly, that God will help you to learn something new. I invite you to leave a comment and share some of your favorite articles and blogs with me as well. I might even share them on my blog in a future post.
Thanks and God Bless.

Love, Marriage & Relationship Blogs
Marriage Works - I love this sites articles on how to apply godly principles in marriage.
To Love, Honor and Vacuum - Sheila Gregoire talks about various marriage topics and has recently written a book for the ladies. She also has a contest going right now where you can win money towards a 2nd honeymoon.
The Romantic Vineyard - is a husband and wife site that focuses on offering Christian guidance for all stages of marriage.
The Generous Wife - a blog written for the woman's point of view that draws a great picture of the perfect Christian marriage.
The Generous Husband - the companion blog to the Generous Wife blog, written especially for men.
Love and Respect - a blog surrounding Ephesians 5:33, written by a known author and speaker, about the importance of love and respect in marriage.
365 Acts of Love - written by a man who is using his blog to help him focus on showing love to his wife daily. I have genuinely enjoyed this short read everyday.
Happy Wives Club - a blog by a woman who truly loves being married and encourages others to do the same. She has grown quite a large network of women she calls "The Happy Wives Club".
Journey to Surrender - a marriage blog with wonderful tidbits of marriage truths and advice.
One Flesh Marriage - a blog written by a couple, who through their own struggles, are compelled to share what they've learned about a godly marriage.
Marriage Gems - offers research-based marriage tips and advice.
Encourage your Spouse - offers great advice to husbands and wives, encouraging married people to have meaningful marriages.
"Husband", a User's Guide - is a site obviously for husbands who want to have a godly marriage, helping them to relate to we complicated women. However, I have read many of his articles and they have helped me to understand a lot.

Other Blogs / Sites
Michael Hyatt - has many great articles full of encouraging and godly information to help us to live more intentionally.
The Dobber Times - is a site by a local preacher, John Dobbs, that is full articles about Biblical topics.
The Thriving Family- is a Focus on the Family's site and has many great articles related to family topics.
The Handwritten - is a site where the author writes handwritten summaries about Bible verses, making you see the verses in a whole new light in many cases.