Can you stand the Rain?

 

When I was a teenager one of my favorite songs, I had many by the way, was Can you stand the rain originally by New Edition, and the remake by Boyz II Men (on their 1997 album with the black background). I was a teenager in the nineties, the best time to be a teenager in my opinion!  I played that song, I sang along, but I never fully understood what it was truly about. It was about relationships and how sometimes things are going to be great and other times things will be really hard. I feel like one of the biggest shockers for me was that every day would not be perfect! That’s why I’m so passionate about being more transparent about marriage and what it means to have a strong relationship.  At the same time, I acknowledge that I myself don’t know everything about marriage and relationships. I am clearly not a professional, I’m just a woman who wants young single women, engaged couples, newlyweds, and seasoned married couples to stay together and create strong relationships that stand the test of time.

Just a short twenty or thirty years ago divorce carried a certain amount of shame and distain with it, even the word alone would cause concern and fear. Divorce was serious because it meant that homes and families would be broken up, children would be separated from their fathers and Mothers would be left to carry the weight of the whole family on her shoulders. There was a time when Marriage was a sacred thing and men and women entered into unions that were meant to last forever and not be separated by anyone. Why can’t we go back to those days? Why don’t we talk about the rain that comes in life, and how it only last for a moment? One of my favorite scriptures says, “weeping may endure for night, but joy comes in the morning.” Psalms 30:5b

One of the verses in the song says; “I need somebody who will stand by me, when it’s tough she won’t run, she will always be right there for me. Storms will come. This we know for sure, but tell me can you stand the rain?” That’s what I thought marriage was, thanks to my examples of marriage and a healthy dose of nineties R&B, I thought marriage was about finding the one person who would stand by you no matter what storms came your way. However,  I notice a trend these days, especially with celebrities; two people get married and appear all over town happy and gorgeous together, basically perfect. Then if their really in love they get divorced after the five year mark, if not they’re divorced a few months later! Okay that may be factually incorrect but you catch my drift. I probably should have told you all this earlier, but I’m one of those people who thinks that the world was way better when I was growing up! Okay, now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, I really believe that our society has lost that desire to stay committed through thick and thin, through good times and bad. I always refer to this generation as the microwave generation, because everyone wants instant gratification, immediate results or it’s over, their done! I often wonder what triggers these break ups, like does one person leave the toilet seat up and the other fall in and get up and immediately ask for a divorce? This is to be expected in the world, but the problem comes in when we see this disease infiltrate the church/Christians.

We may never admit this, but we do watch what the world is doing and that plays a role in how we as Christians see ourselves. For good or bad, that’s a harsh truth, we want to fit in with the world, but we still want to be accepted by God. That is one of many factors, unfortunately, that leave a filthy mark on our society. We seem to be in love with the wedding day and not the marriage. I’m not sure if it’s actually true, but I’ve heard that the average wedding today cost about $30,000.00!!! I won’t bore you right now with my wedding day story but here’s two things to keep in mind, it was more drama than any t.v. show, and it was definitely not $30,000.00!  When my Husband and I got engaged I was very focused on all the wedding stuff and the perfect dress, that I was totally not thinking about the marriage. I had dress fittings, makeup consultations, hair appointments, shoe shopping excursions, etc..  I was over the top about my undergarment that I would be wearing and don’t get me started on how crazy I was over having a big engagement ring!!! The thing that I learned very quickly was being concerned about those things was pointless and…well dumb. I was missing the point, a wedding only last for a few hors of one day! The marriage last forever and your wedding dress won’t help you push your baby out, buy your first house, or clean the toilet in your children’s bathroom! Friends after the ceremony is over the dress goes in box, bag or closet!  I do remember people trying to tell me what I’m telling you, but I was floating on cloud nine because I was getting married!

Now that I’ve diagnosed the problem let me talk a little bit about the cure. I believe that we have to start with the obvious, change what’s influencing us. Change our perspectives and what we see as exemplary. We need to hide the word of God in our hearts, so that we can confess it over our marriages and our families when times get tough. One thing I’ve learned is that the devil hates marriage. How do I know this, well look what he attacked first, Adam and Eve, the married couple.  Paul wrote quite a lot to the husbands and wives and one thing He instructed was to give no place to the devil (Eph 4:27). We have to love our husbands and stand for our relationships in prayer and intercession. We can’t allow our lives and relationship to look like the world, celebrities, what we read in magazines or even romance novels. Marriage is a reflection of the love that Jesus has with his bride, which is the church (Eph 5:22-32) Jesus never gives up on his bride, he’s always there to love her and take her back. He makes sure she is without spot or wrinkle, he washes her clean, leads her and rescues her. He loved his bride so much that he took her place and died for her. Those are our examples of how we should be loving our spouse.  We have to remember that in any relationship we’ll have to make allowances for one another, and we’ll have to forgive and forget many times. That’s the secret ingredient, we have to love like Jesus loves. There are no perfect people. No one gets it right all the time, and we don’t need perfection. We need to find the perfect person for us, the one person that God designed with you in mind.

My Hubby and I have had to face a few storms in life and I’m sure they don’t compare to what else we may see, but I know that I would much rather face trials and troubles with him by my side than without him. My mother use to tell me and my sister when we would argue that, “teeth and tongue fall out sometimes but their still together.” That simply means that yes, you may not always see eye to eye on everything, but you stay together. You don’t end the relationship because you disagree or you hit a rough patch, you may have to get wet, but you weather the storm. Trust me, it’s worth it! Let us never think that a successful marriage is one that does not include adversity or trails. Test and trials come to make us stronger, but we are more than conquerors through Christ Jesus and we truly can stand on the words that what God has joined together no man, or woman, can separate!

Let’s get a real conversation going in the comments! Let me know what you think is a major secret ingredient to a happy marriage? Do you think we waste too much time on the wedding and too little time on the marriage? I want to hear from you! Leave a comment and tell me what you think?

Comfort Zones

I recently joined Facebook late last year, yes I know I was one of only a hand full of people in the whole modern world, not already on Facebook. The other four people are still holding out. I only joined because I wanted to make some changes and finally pursue some of the lifelong dreams I have and that meant I needed to have a social media presence. It truly surprised me how many people I was able to reconnect with and,”see,” again. The thing that people found out qickly, if they didn’t already know, is that I am in no way the same person that they knew just ten years ago! I have changed in many ways, but the fact that I became a Mother has changed me the most. In my opinion, I use to be so much fun, I would try new things, go to new places and above all I loved to have a good time!  While I still like to have a good time, I am by no stretch of the imagination as fun as I once was. You know the main reason why I am not the same fun loving girl I once was; I had children! If you know anything that will change you faster than having a child, humor me.  My point is certain things in life have the power to change us into totally different people and that’s not always a bad thing.

I have a bad habit of wanting to be comfortable. I mean who doesn’t want to be comfortable? Whether it’s financial security or a comfortable marriage, it’s something that many of us want for our lives and our children’s lives.  However, the thing that I am ever learning about God is that He calls us out of our comfort zones. Time and time again in the word, we see God calling people away from their homes, families and all that they have ever known so they can grow and inherit what he had for them.  Let’s take Joesph for example, he was a young boy when his brothers sold him to the Midianites(Gen.37:28) He was then taken down to Egypt and sold into slavery, we all know the rest. For many years, he was a slave and then a prisoner until God chose to elevate him. The thing that I find so amazing is the fact that Joesph had gone through so much pain, and faced so many challenges but he wasn’t bitter. When he saw his brothers again and he had an opportunity to really punish them for what they had done to him, he took them in and showed love and kindness to them. He basically said don’t worry about all that evil stuff you guys caused, it was God’s will that I be here so I could save our family.  I believe that he was saying no harm, no foul guys, now let’s all hg and make up!(Gen45:5-8)

I can confidently tell you that I would not react like that! Nevertheless, when I look at the trials that he went through compared to how God used him and promoted him, the trials don’t compare. He was practically the Vice President of Egypt! I want to bring out the point that while we read a little about what life was like for Joseph while he was a slave and a prisoner; we know very little about what his life was like from day to day. To say that it must have been hard for him is a total understatement. He went from living very comfortably as the favorite child of his father’s favorite wife, to being a slave in Egypt. Talk about being stretched and challenged!

God was obviously cultivating the character and integrity in Joseph for the calling that he had on his life. Who knows what kind of leader Joseph would have become, had he not been shaped by hardship and challenged by the struggle of a harsh environment. The funny thing is, He was actually told exactly where to find his brothers before they sold him, (Gen37:15-17). I asked myself why would God make sure that he found his brothers that day, knowing that they would do harm to him? It’s clear though because Joseph said that what the devil meant for evil, God meant it for his Good, to save much people alive.(Gen50:20)  I can’t tell you that everything we go through is going to have an amazing outcome like what happen for Joseph, but I can tell you that everything that we experience adds to our purpose. I can say with absolute surety that ultimately everything can work together for our good. (Rom.8:28)

Looking back to the days after my Mother died, I can’t believe that I made it out of those dark days. When I think back to being in college and working so hard to graduate, or when I look back and think about how difficult it was having two children in two years. I know that it was God who kept me strong and brought me out better than I was before! When we first moved out West, we had to face a lot of new things. Change can be hard for me because I can get stuck and not realize it sometimes. I remember my husband and I just questioning did we make the right choices because things were just so different than what we were use to, but I’m so glad that we stayed the course and kept going. Throw in a big dose of being homesick too for good measure!

I have found that you can’t grow if you aren’t willing to change. In order to grow everything has to change no matter what it is: plants, babies, hair; it doesn’t matter what it is it must go through a metamorphosis  to improve. A lot of time change includes pain, or discomfort ;however, without that part of the process we may not change. Wisdom sometimes involves failure and often time making bad decisions that lead you to the better way to do things.

I know that in this instant, microwave generation we only want the benefits of the process without going through any trials and tribulations! I know this is not a feel good type of blog, but we can still get something out of this. Think about it like this, when you want to lose weight there are a series of things that you must do if you want to reach your goal. You’ll need to make some changes to your diet, establish and stick to a workout routine, and implement certain lifestyle changes to ensure success at maintaining your weight loss. That process will take self-discipline which may involve some discomfort at first, but the pain of self denial will be worth the joy of reaching your goal weight.

If we’re willing to go through it to look better, than we should be willing to apply that same amount of commitment and dedication to following God, even if He leads us out of our comfort zones. What do you all think about comfort zones and suffering? Are you willing to go through the pain of change to have the blessing that’s on the other side? Let me know what you think about this in the comments.

 

Wealth Wednesday

I want what she’s having

If you’re a Mom, which you probably are if you’re reading this, then you’re sure to be familiar with the argument that starts because child A took what child B was playing with. When you ask child A why they took what sweet little child B had, they will simply say, “because I wanted to play with it.” This my friends is the argument that I hear way too often at my house, especially between my two younger boys. It never seems to mater that I always buy them each a toy that they claim to need and can’t live without, because they always, always, always, fight over toys! I can not understand it, I feel like they must enjoy it because they do it so often. Like any good parents, we try to talk to them and explain why we can’t take things from other people that do not belong to us, and we tell them how when you want something that’s not yours you must ask for it and wait until it’s your turn.  However, the strange thing is, when they finally get the toy that they had been clamoring for, they play with it for five minutes and then they’re done with it. Why is that?

What is it that causes us to see what someone else has or what someone else is doing and decide that we want what they have? Paul said that without the law telling us thou shall not covet, we would not know what lust was.(Romans7:7) Jealousy, Envy and covetousness, has been around for such a long time, it’s nothing new. I’m sure we all know what it’s like to experience looking over at another woman, thinking she’s got everything that I wish I had, or I wish I could be more like her. Some might even say that this is normal and it happens a lot, but is it okay? The Bible tell us (2Cor:10-12) not to compare ourselves to one another, but  I catch myself doing it all the time. I compare myself to someone who I think is thinner than me, or prettier than me.

Maybe that’s not your problem, perhaps you compare the way your children behave to the way your neighbors children behave in public. It could be that you compare your husband to your friends husband. Whatever it is, it’s self destructive and we shouldn’t do it to ourselves. Why is it so hard for us to be satisfied with what we have and who we are? We know that God made us special and beautiful ,and that this world needs what we have to offer. We get the fact that there is no one else exactly like us on the planet, and yet we still strggle with wanting to be someone else.

I believe we have to understand first that no matter who it is, they have problems too. Their human and everything doesn’t go their way all the time. The more we can realize that we’re not lacking in any area; moreover, that the things we have fit perfectly with the life we live, maybe we could be more satisfied with who we are. Sometimes my bestie and I are trading Mommy war stories and I often tell her, “your the perfect Mom for your children,” because I want to make sure she hears it from someone. Truth be told we all need to hear it every now and then. We Moms, all need to hear that we’re beautiful, we look like we lost weight, our house is clean, our food taste great and that our laundry is immaculately clean! Did I forget to mention that we also need to hear how well behaved our children are?

I know we’ve all heard the expression, the grass isn’t always greener on the other side of the fence. While that may be true, what if the grass is greener? How did your neighbor get it that way? They probably did more than just water it, and we have to ask ourselves are we willing to do what they’re doing to have what we think they’ve got. Blessings and Burdens go hand in hand. I was talking to someone who I just adored! I thought of her as my Fit Mommy Hero. I wanted to work out hard and look just like her! At the time we both had the same amount of kids, and we’re very similar in body shape and build. I was telling her how frustrated I was that I didn’t currently look just like her and she smiled sadly, and began to tell me why she looked like that. She’d had a terrible medical emergency that led to several surgeries and the removal of some vital organs. Well you can imagine how terrible I felt for, number one,  coveting her body type and number two, when she told me why she look like that I felt silly and superficial. All that time I had spent thinking she was on some strict diet, with a crazy hard work out routine, she wasn’t. She was recovering from a few major surgeries and trying to take care of three small children.

We just never know what people are going through, or what problems their dealing with in their life. After she told me about what she had been going through, I was sad for her experiences, but I was also grateful to God for my health. Suddenly I didn’t feel the same way about carrying around these extra pounds. I started to think, “you know I can always lose this weight.”  I began to realize that there were people out there with real problems that couldn’t be solved so easily. To her the weight that she lost was a symptom of her illness and the battle that she was having with her health. For all I know she could have been looking at me thinking that I had it all and wanting to look like me. Okay I realize that might be stretching it, but you get the point!

From now on, knowing what we know about coveting and being envious, whenever we’re tempted to want what the next woman has let’s stop for a minute. Take a few minutes to thank God for what we do have instead of coveting what someone else has. If we can start being more consistent about having a grateful heart and honoring God for the more important things in life, than perhaps we can free ourselves from being so materialistic. It’s dangerously easy to get sucked into thinking earthly treasures are more important than our souls prosperity. If this has ever happened to yo share how you overcame those feelings. Let’s talk about it in the comments!

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Peace of Mind

John 14:27 says, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let it be afraid” This is one of the verses that I find myself saying all the time now. I think the older I get the more I watch the news! You may laugh, but when I was little I always thought watching the news was something old people did well recently, I found myself paying way too much attention to the news, and social media. I realized that it was having a negative effect on me, constantly being bombarded with all those negative images all day long. I was talking to myself about this and I asked me how much time I was spending reading God’s word? I was like, oh well I read the Bible at this time and that time, and then I said are you hiding it in your heart? You know what, I think that I had lost sight of the fact that God is the Author and the Finisher of our faith, He knows the end from the beginning. He is not surprised by the state of this world, or an unexpected death in the family. No, our God is all knowing, omnipresent, all sufficient one, we don’t have to fear what tomorrow may bring.

I started really meditating on what Jesus said to them and I asked myself, “Why would he tell them to not be afraid when he knew all the evil things that they would have to face. Truthfully, I can think of several possible answers. However, I do know that the book of 1John 3:2 says, “…it does not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that when he shall appear we shall be like him.” That encourages me so much! I started saying this scripture to myself whenever I begin to feel overwhelmed and downtrodden, I speak life to my heart and to my Spirit.

The main thing that I have tried, is to do a better job guarding my ear gates and my eye gates! I have to keep myself free of the things pump negativity into my ears that goes straight into my heart. I seriously can’t watch certain movies or t.v. programs because they affect the way I feel after I watch them. I decided to set images before me that were like Php4:8, “whatsoever is true, noble, right, lovely, of good report, if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”  This would include t.v. shows, and music! I have made it my daily mission to seek out things that are of good report, instead of a bad report. I feel so much better when I don’t participate in every little problem that is going on in the world. I know some people might say that I’m hiding or that I need to know what’s happening in the world, but I don’t think so. I think this is why Jesus told the disciples to not let their heart be troubled, and to fear not. The enemy wants to steal our peace and cause us to fear. Not focusing on those things helps me to have peace of mind.

I feel confident that by not taking in all of the negative information out there and focusing on the positive I can be happier. I think that because the word of God has the ability to wash us and make us clean, we need to constantly be renewing our minds with the word of God. I am by no means saying that we need to run from reality or deny the truth, but I am suggesting that everything you can see in this natural world is temporary. We should not allow the negative, fear mongers to cause us to be afraid and not live an abundant life. I learned that if I really want peace and if I really want to live unafraid, I have to let God’s word be true and everything else is irrelevant. Nothing else matters as much as the word of God. I have to remind myself what He said about me and what He said about my husband, and my children. Not allowing ourselves to think on negativity all day is not limited to the news, sometimes it’s about our own self-image or our family life. We have to remember to focus on the good and think on the pure and the lovely. Remember to be encouraged and let the world hear the good news from you! Don’t just pass on more of the same thing, point people to the better way!

Leave a comment and let me know how you’re coping with all the bad news! What tips can you share that might change someone’s perception of corrupt conversation and conversations that lead to life everlasting.

Fix-It Friday

Choosing Love

I was the tender age of twenty-two when I got married and I was soooo in love. I think we both just had such high expectations of love and marriage that even though some tried to warn us of the pitfalls of marriage we literally couldn’t see the forest for the trees, as my dad would say. We did do some marriage counseling sessions before we said, “I do,” but we were just so excited about our future that I believe we were a bit unrealistic. However, what we both learned is that the new car smell does eventually wear off, and pretty soon you have to do some preventative maintenance or you’re going to ruin a perfectly good vehicle. I feel like so many times we pray for God to bless us and we don’t consider that the blessing will create new burdens! A burden isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it does mean that you have to care for something and keep it operating smoothly. Marriage is a lot like a car or a house, in that it has to be maintained. It may be routine maintenance, sometimes it may be a repair, or you may find that you have to make changes because of your growth.

Typically, people don’t like to take marital advice from newlyweds because they think they lack experience and that could be true; however, recently I heard some newlyweds give some fantastic advice. They were asked the question about how they keep their love strong, and they said, “Well we had good examples in our parents and we realize that Love is not just a feeling. You may not like your spouse all the time, but you can choose to love them no matter what.” That grabbed my attention and I was no longer casually listening! Those words immediately touched my heart. We have to choose to love our husbands every day, through the diaper changes, sleepless nights, school stuff, weight gain, weight loss, etc. I truly felt so convicted by that because I am easily caught up in wanting to “feel” something all the time. I have plenty of days where I’m just not, “feeling it.” There are times when we, my husband and I, drive each other crazy or we get on each other’s nerves; and yet,  that should never affect the love that we have for one another. We should be loving deeper than emotions that can change in the blink of an eye. Marriage should not be based on the emotional or the superficial temporary things like looks, or how much money I make, because those things can change in a moment. You have to convince your mind that you are committed to being with this Man, your husband,  forever. No matter how you might be feeling from day to day you must remain committed to your commitment. Mature women know that it will rain sometimes and sometimes the sun will shine, but you need the rain because it helps the flowers grow.

If I could go back to that wedding day, which was quite the day to say the least, and give my younger self some advice…oh the things I would say! I would want her to know that rings and wedding cakes don’t mean anything in the grand scheme of things. I would tell her that life was about to take off so buckle up and hang on tight! I would want her to know that potty training is not to be attempted until the child is ready and not a minute sooner. I would tell her that she is beautiful no matter what the scale says and I would also tell her to trust her instincts about things more often. Finally, I would tell her to decide this day to love her husband forever, not just with her emotions but with a made up mind! Every day will not be a honeymoon and sometimes you may be tempted to look back and wonder, but don’t ever allow any temporary situation make you doubt your love.

Which speaks to the very first thing they said, they had good examples to learn from. My parents were together for nineteen years, my mother died when I was seventeen, and my Hubby’s parents have been together a lifetime now as well. In my family getting a divorce or leaving your spouse was just not an option! I mean people did it, but it was either an extreme circumstance or frowned upon! You would become like a black sheep if you left your spouse without a life threatening reason! Couples just stayed together through thick and thin no matter what! However, sometimes you could clearly tell they were not happy, just together. I don’t want to be that kind of example to my children. I want them to know that Mommy and Daddy love each other and that we are happy together! I feel like it makes an imprint on their little hearts. Now realistically, I know that not everyone experiences the fairy tale and that sometimes things fall apart. I don’t believe that any one wants that for their relationship so of course that’s not the goal. I just want to be more deliberate about choosing to show love to my husband even when I don’t feel like it. Love is and action word and I want to be constantly demonstrating that for my children and my husband.

Now that you know how I feel about choosing to love my Husband share with me what you do to be more vigilant about your relationship? How can we as busy Mommas and Wives fight for our marriages and relationships to keep them strong and ensure that they last forever? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

Wealth Wednesday

Mommy to the Rescue

Lately I’ve been trying to get in shape for a 5k that I want to run in May, so I’ve been walking a lot more consistently. However, when you have five children ages ten and under you’re going to look like a small caravan and I accept that!   My kids all want to ride on something, a scooter, roller skates, a bike, they insist!  I’m pushing the stroller bringing up the rear and keeping everyone in line. Now again, I’m use to this so it’s nothing new, the problem comes in when one of my children, it never fails, says, “Mommy I’m tired of riding my, fill in the blank, I don’t want to ride anymore.” Now mind you, before we leave the house each time I ask them, “are you sure you can ride this for the whole walk?” My sweet little Child then replies with, “Yes Mam” Well what happens only twenty minutes after we leave the house, they start to whine, slow down, and fall behind. Next thing you know, even though I said I wouldn’t, I’m carrying their scooter, bike, roller skates or pushing them, the castoff bike, scooter ,or roller skates, in my stroller.

This morning we tried walking to school with everyone doing their own thing again and it wasn’t that bad, until we were on our way home. My four-year-old was on his scooter and I could see that he was getting tired, but I was holding on to the hope that he would make it just a little longer. He was being really tough though, but you know what I did? I stopped and asked him, “Do you want to walk with Mom for a while and we can put your scooter in the stroller?” He was so relieved, he was so sweet about giving me his helmet and his scooter. It just made me feel so good that I was able to rescue him when he really needed me to have compassion on him and help even though it’s not the first time, and even though he thought he could handle it all by himself.

All the way back home he was skipping and talking to me about transformers and dinosaurs. I felt like super mom in that moment. I felt like if God was watching me at that moment I could totally get into Heaven! Come on…you know we all have those moments when we know we’re winning at parenting and we need our face on a t-shirt!! Seriously though, this all got me to thinking about how many times I do that same thing to God. I take on way too much, way too soon and then I get tired of all the burdens and the weights. I start out with good intentions, but then the road gets long and I start to hate the items  that I chose to carry on this path that I’m on, and I just need God to rescue me.  I have to admit that I sometimes struggle with letting grace and compassion be my first response to someone in need, and yet I always want it immediately from God when I call.

I can’t even begin to tell you all the times that I volunteered for one to many things, or started too many projects that I couldn’t possibly finish on time. Not to mention having two children in the first two years of marriage caused me to catapult to a whole new level of being overwhelmed!  When I get really busy with parenting, homework, laundry, meal planning, and everything else I feel just like my little boy. I start out with a lot of energy and high expectations, thinking I’m going to get tons of stuff done and then half way through, I just burn out and slow down. I realized that I am exactly like my children, I want to be rescued from carrying such heavy burdens too. I run to God with my problems and fears because He is a good father and I trust that He can carry me and my burdens.  I think becoming a parent caused me to have a completely new understanding on what it means to have compassion and mercy!

It’s easy to be overwhelmed, but not so easy to relax and decompress. I’ve tried to get massages, go for walks/runs even!  It can also be a struggle to give up and let go of the things that may be stressing us out and weighing us down. That may seem like a silly thing, why would someone want to hold on to something that stresses them out you might be thinking? The thing that I found funny was that My son didn’t want to ask me for help. That could be because he knew that I would be irritated if I had to carry his scooter, or maybe he really wanted to make it all the way home. You should have seen the look on his face, such determination, but he was grunting and puffing down the street! Who wouldn’t offer to help the little guy? I am the exact same way, I will go much too long and way too far before I stop and ask for help. I always tell people if I ask for help, you better believe that I need it!! I guess what I wanted to point out the most is how much our children can teach us about God and how he wants to love us.

I’ve mentioned before how it can be hard for me to receive good gifts for some reason and I’m working on that. I feel like what helps me to stop negating my blessings is just realizing the joy that I feel when I help someone. I don’t want to deny anyone that opportunity just to make me feel like I didn’t need help. truthfully my little guy, PJ, could have probably made it home without me jumping in and saving the day, but I didn’t want that for him. Plus, it made me feel like an awesome mom! I think things would be much better if we just learned how to give all of our griefs and burdens to the Lord in prayer.

Okay, I know you ladies have something to share so tell me down in the comments! Do you ever have an ah-ha moment that helps you to see the hand of God in your life clearly? Do you ever feel like giving up or letting go of things that are too heavy for you to carry? I’m curious to know how you pick the things that you’re willing to give up or lay down? Let’s start a conversation!

 

 

 

Marriage Monday

That Loving Feeling

I have officially celebrated my fifteenth Valentine’s Day with my husband! I have only been his wife for ten of those years, but those first five years were probably some of our best Valentine Days because we were dating. I know that marriage is supposed to be wonderful and amazing and better than anything else and it certainly can be. However, if I can just drop my rose colored glasses for a moment and tell the truth…everything is better when you’re dating!  I mean think about how much time and effort you use to put into getting ready to meet your sweetheart, how you only put your best foot forward, your sweetest, nicest, best self representative. I recall a time when I would rather faint than have a bodily function in front of my husband, I also remember the day I decided,” He’s going to find out anyway!”

So my question to you is what happens between the time we have our first date to the time we celebrate our tenth year anniversary? Maybe this is why when you talk to older more experienced couples they tell you things like, “never stop dating each other, or the same things you did to win his/her heart is the same things that you’ll have to do to keep their heart.” The thing that they don’t tell you is how to keep the spark alive, or how to continue acting like teenagers in love when you have kids, and a job, bills!! I believe what I’m saying is when the newness of being in love starts to fade and you have actual adult things to do in life that need to get done and you don’t have time to hold hands and stare into each other’s eyes. When you have to help your kids with homework, do loads and loads of laundry, make school lunches, and cook dinner there is very little time for romance.

I remember my husband coming home six months after we got married with a dozen roses  and a card that said something sweet and touching. I thought he was just the most amazing man! He actually still buys me roses and birthday cards, but things are very different now. Sometimes we celebrate our birthdays, most times we don’t. Instead of getting super amazing gifts for Christmas we get each other practical gifts instead. Flowers are typically purchased for a reason and our anniversary celebrations often depend on the ability to get a sitter for our most important assets. As a result of all our administrative roles that keep us so busy, we decided to put more effort into our relationship, and to make our love and romance a priority.

Something that we’re slowly discovering as our children get older is that when the kids grow up and leave home we’ll still be here with each other and if we don’t work at maintain our love we won’t have love when their gone. It’s actually a little scary when you think about it, at some point when you and your hubby enter the empty nest phase of life and you can do things together again you actually don’t like the person. Relationships are a lot of work and commitment, but they’re worth it for sure. My husband and  were talking about the fact that when you first get married no one ever tells you how much work it is! I think if someone did try to tell you all about the perils of marriage we probably wouldn’t believe them!

I know that Valentine’s Day isn’t  the only day of the year that we show love, or appreciation for our husbands, but it is important to reconnect. Plan to spend time together with no children or work things. It’s so vital that we make time for love and what’s important because love doesn’t just disappear one day, it fades slowly after years of being neglected and ignored. I’m sure we’ve all heard these scary statistics about how many Christian marriages end in divorce. The reason why I say that number is scary is because I hate feeling like that’s an option or an outcome of not giving your marriage exactly what it needed to thrive. You know when you buy a plant that you have to care for it properly or else it will die.

I realized that I love my husband, and more importantly I love being married to him. I especially like the thought of going on dates with him and acting like newly weds again. I feel like we had children right away so we kind of missed the no kid newly wed years, so we have to wait a while to have that back. Don’t get me wrong I love that we started our family early because now we’re done with those very challenging first years. I also love that we’ll still be young enough to enjoy our teenagers and our relationship when our children all leave home.

Finally, I think that while we celebrate this Valentine’s Day we should keep in mind that God was in the business of love and marriage way before cupid was. He created marriage to last forever and to be a perfect reflection of his love for us. The hard part of being married is putting someone else’s needs before your own, loving them unconditionally, being patient, long suffering and slow to anger. It means that you have to be willing to submit yourself to someone else, allow someone else to be the leader and have control over the ship. I would never advocate following someone into destruction or being subservient to a tyrant, but following a great leader is worth the difficulty of letting go of your desire to be in control. Jesus is the perfect example of true love because he laid down his life for a friend.

Okay ladies this one was hard for me, so let me know what you think! Give me your thoughts and let’s talk about what you all do to keep your love alive and you marriage strong. I know every relationship has it’s own set of challenges because no one is perfect. They’ll always be something, kids, bills, careers, illness, you can’t escape trouble. Leave a comment and let’s talk about it this! Have a great week!

Fix-it Friday

What about your friends

I heard a person say, “Show me your friends and I’ll tell you all about yourself.” When I was growing up if my Mom didn’t like something about one of my friends, anything at all, their parents, siblings, dogs, neighbors, I couldn’t be friends with them. I thought she was just being mean. I insisted that just because my friends did something or said something that she didn’t like didn’t mean that I would do it. To which, my mom would always reply, “Birds of a feather flock together!”  I had no clue what that phrase actually meant until I was much older!

What my Mom was trying to say to me is that the people who you hang around and become friends with influence you the most. Those friends that you make and share your life with and get advice from, feed your Spirit. They can encourage you to do something good or bad. When I was in school I heard it referred to as peer pressure, but for some reason I thought that this was just a teenage thing. However, it’s not adults can still deal with peer pressure.  I’m sure if you really sit down and think about it you have at least one friend who can always convince you to try something that you would probably never try on your own. I know you have at least on person in your life who always inspires you to be the best version of yourself, or reach higher goals. Perhaps you have a friend who you can always go to for sound advice when you need some.  I hope we all have at least one old friend who whenever we talk to them it feels like old times and we just laugh and talk for hours.  My point is, we all have different kinds of friends and they each influence us in different ways; however, we must choose wisely because those people get to have a special place in our lives and they can help us to be better, healthier people or add to our destruction.

When I was engaged to be married I feel like God placed some of the most amazing women in my life for me to learn from and emulate. The ladies were Godly and full of integrity and wisdom.  I literally gleaned from them as often as I could as much as I could. I’m still close to those ladies to this day, in particular my Bible study teacher’s wife.  One thing that I learned from her, among many, was how to be a good host. She is always so gracious and giving, she makes sure her guest feel welcomed and appreciated. I still don’t know how she does it! I am certainly not a fitness buff, but a few years ago I met and befriended the most amazing woman and she sweetly convinced me to run my first 5K. I would have never ever dreamed that I could do anything like that had I not met her. The funny thing is I didn’t just run a 5K with her, I started working out more regularly, watching what I ate and I began to really like exercising.   I wasn’t the only one to notice the positive changes in my life. I found myself striving to be more like these positive examples in my life. In every season of life you will be challenged and tested and sometimes the secret weapon can be having a strong support system around you. Being in the midst of Godly counselors and having the right people pouring into your life can make a huge difference in the outcome.

For example if you have an argument with your Husband and you call a good friend, chances are she’s going to hear you out, but not encourage your negative fleshly, hasty, emotional reactions. Your good friend will probably help you to diffuse the negative feelings and start to look at the situation more reasonably. By the time you finish venting your frustrations to her you will be ready to admit, to you friend at least, that you might have had a small role in the disagreement and you’ll likely be in a much better mode. I would guess that you might even be laughing; all your anger will have dissipated by then.  I have a particular friend that I call when I’m upset about something and she can always help me to see the situation much more objectively and be less selfish. I love her easy going attitude, because she is slow to anger I feel like she makes me that way too.

We must fiercely guard our friendships with people who have so much influence over our hearts.  I don’t know what kind of women I would be if I had negative voices speaking into my heart whenever things got bumpy. I thank God for the ladies who He sent in to my life at just the right time. Think how happy Ruth must have been to have Naomi giving her advice and guiding her in the right direction. I can only imagine how satisfied Esther was that she followed the wisdom of her uncle and spoke to the King. Her obedience and bravery saved a whole nation, and my favorite non-female example would have to be Daniel and his three friends.  I just have two words people, Lions Den! Every one needs a friend like Daniel in their circle!  I wanted to highlight the positive aspects of good friends and how they can add to our life, but on Monday I plan to talk about how negative friendships can subtract from who God intended us to be.

Add your two cents to the conversation ladies.  How have your best gal pals added to your life? In what ways do you try and emulate their positive behavior. Do you ever find yourself doing something that must have rubbed off on you from your friends? If you take a serious look at your circle of close friends can you honestly say that they make you want to be better, help you to be grounded and feed you with Godly wisdom in times of trouble and triumph?  Leave a comment and let me hear from you!

Cleanliness is next to Godliness

Growing  up we cleaned the house every Saturday morning. No, matter how we murmured and complained. If we asked why we had to clean up, my mom would always say the same thing “Someone might drop by,” my Mother always said. I grew up thinking that you needed to have a clean house because you couldn’t have guest over if your house was dirty. If someone wanted to come over to our house and play the first thing my Mom would say is, “Is your room clean?”  For my Mother, a true neat freak, cleanliness was next to Godliness.  I dreaded cleaning and putting things away as a young girl, because all I wanted to do was play, have fun, hang out with my friends, anything but clean! I was constantly saying, “When I grow up, I’m going to be rich and hire a maid to do all my cleaning for me!” Of course my Mom and Aunts use to have a good laugh at my expense! My Aunts still tease me about what I said as a young girl. As I grew into a Woman and went away to college the thing was, I couldn’t study if my room was dirty. I noticed that I felt calmer, more relaxed, and that I could think much clearer when my room nice and was clean.

I see the connection now; I understand now why it was so important to my mother to have a clean space. In a lot of ways I believe our physical houses represent our spiritual house. I feel that we can learn so much about ourselves and how we function if we just look around our environment.  I am a bit of a clutter bug, but only when it comes to my night stand! It just drives my husband crazy, because he likes neat, clutter free spaces, where everything is put away. Well that’s how his personality is too, He is a clear thinker who makes sound decisions because he doesn’t have a lot of junk filling up his mind and his spirit. He is one of the most intentional and disciplined people I know;however I am his wife so I could be biased(haha).  I always seem to have little piles around me no matter what! The funny thing is my brain works like that too! When I get all cluttered up with all the cares of this life, all the little things that I have let pile up I start to feel a bit scatter brained. I notice that I feel like I can’t get anything done, or I struggle to focus on what I really need to accomplish.

Those are the times when I have to start cleaning out my Spirit. Those are the days when I have to unplug from social media, the news, gossip, television, and any other thing that just clogs me up with worry, negativity, and fear.  I don’t like to admit it, but I really do let too many things bother me.  I’ll watch the news and then be super upset about a new disease or a terrorist attack, or an earthquake, anything!

All these things can make deposits into our Spirit and at some point we have to close the door to all those things because their just weights that bind us an weigh us down. We have to clean our spiritual house and we have to do it regularly! How do I do this you may ask, I get alone with God and I pray about my fears, and my worries. I read the word of God and let it wash me, and make me clean. I always feel so much better when I pray and spend the time seeking God. I sometimes talk to seasoned, trustworthy people who love God and who I know will give me sound advice. For me, that is the best way to clean my spiritual house, it truly makes me feel closer to God and helps me to refocus.

I also feel like when I’m less cluttered spiritually I can be a better Wife and Mother to my family. I feel like when I am thinking clearer I make better decisions for my family and myself. It’s the same concept in the natural, when you have a nice clean house you can function more efficiently because you find things faster, you can breathe easier when you don’t feel the pressures that come along with a dirty house.  Being organized and putting everything in it’s place is the backbone of a large family! Trust me, if you want to start a total melt down in a household of seven, all you have to do is not clean up; or do laundry for a few days!

This is just one of the things that work for me when I’m feeling overwhelmed, but for you ladies it may be something different. Let me hear from you, how do you exchange your burdens for lighter ones?  Do you like to work out, read a book, or maybe knit a sweater? Share some of your stress relievers, or the things that get your Spiritual House clean in the comment section. Maybe I can learn something new to try!

Make-it Right Monday

Forgive and Forget

I have heard so many times that forgiveness is not for the other person, it’s for you!  Well I think that’s easier said than done.  When I was a little girl my sister and I were very close, we played together and we fought together too.  We never physically fought so much as we verbally fought with one another back and forth all day long. We use to drive our parents crazy bickering about everything. We argued over clothes, shoes, whose turn it was to wash the dishes, the bathroom and the list goes on for miles. My mother, who was from a family with nineteen children, would always lecture us about the importance of forgiving one another and make us hug and apologize to one another.  As a kid, I did not understand why I needed to forgive her, I wanted to be right and get an apology from my sister before I was willing to apologize, but my mom would not have it! You simply had to apologize and accept the other person’s apology whether they were sorry or not, right or wrong.  The funny thing is now, I can barely even remember some of the things that little Sis did to me or that I did to her. I asked myself why that is and I just know it’s because I have truly forgiven her, to the point where I threw it away and forgot all about it.

Now some may say, even me once upon a time, that you can forgive someone but just don’t forget.  I guess the problem with that is you’re still holding on to all the negative feelings caused by their betrayal. If you’re still holding on to what someone has done to you and how it made you feel then how can you say you have forgiven them and moved on, if you still remember the hurt? I struggle with letting go and forgiving people who have really hurt me or offended me if I keep remembering what they did to me that caused me to be hurt in the first place. I know that God wants us to forgive those that offend us and hurt us, because that’s what He models for us. However, I still have the same problem as a woman that I had as a child, I want an apology. My Mother knew something that I didn’t at the time and that was, you may not get an apology, and you have to be okay with that. You still have to let go of how you feel about the past offense and move on to be truly healed from the pain of that betrayal.

Something that I find interesting is that when  Peter asked Jesus how many times should we forgive someone who offends us (Mat18:21-22) Jesus says not seven times but seventy times seven! Whoa, that’s a lot in one day, but what really grabbed my attention is that Peter wanted a number placed on forgiveness. It was almost like what He wanted to know was, “How much do I have to put up with from a person?” I think we all feel that way to a some degree when it comes to being around negative, rude people. We all want to know exactly how many times we should have to forgive someone or endure someone else’s rude behavior before we can lawfully get rid of them out of our life.  Eph 4:2 tells us that we must be longsuffering , forbearing one another in love, in fact Longsuffering is a fruit of the Spirit. It’s something that as Christians we should all desire and strive to demonstrate in our everyday lives.

Have you ever found it difficult to just let go of a feeling of offense and move on knowing you would never get an apology? (Hands in the air, hanging head in shame) I admit that I have to work really hard at letting go and forcing myself to forget what was done to me or against me and put it out of my head and my heart. One of my closest friends teases me all the time about holding grudges, because she knows that I have to really fight against my flesh or my nature and let stuff go! I use to not care to let anything go and I was fine with that, my motto use to be, “Don’t get on my bad side; because once you do you’re never coming off!” However, what God showed me one day while I was studying my Bible is that’s a root of bitterness (Heb.12:15) and it was defiling my heart. I had this concept of if you cross me you’re out of my circle and I’ll never trust you again.  What God revealed to me is that when I offend Him, or break his heart with my short comings and my sins He never cuts me out of His life. When I fall short of the Glory of God the one thing that I want most is for Him to forgive me and not hold my sins against me. How would we feel if God threw all of our past sins in our face when messed up and didn’t keep our vows to him? I can tell you we would feel awful! We want forgiveness and grace when we fail, but we don’t want to give it to others when they sin against us. I am an awesome Lawyer when I have to defend my faults, but I prosecute others when they do something that I perceive as wrong.

It’s very clear to see now why it was so important that I change my view of how important it is to forgive those who hurt me and offend me. I urge you if you can relate to me and how I have to really work to forgive and let go of things and people hurt me, let it go. I once read that not forgiving someone was like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. Even though it was one of the hardest things for me to do, it was one of the best decisions’ that I have ever made. Deciding to let people go so that I could be free of the past has been very worth it for my Spiritual Health.

 

So I want to know do you struggle with releasing people too, or do you find forgiveness and letting go easy? If you can forgive people quickly tell us you secret!!! What are some things that you guys do when you need to get over something without an apology? Do you have to talk to move on? Do you have to apologize to someone about all the things you did before you can move? Let me hear you in the comment section!