Who’s Destiny Are You Stopping?

Screen Shot 2014-07-29 at 8.51.41 PMI have talked to many people lately who are struggling to make serious changes in their lives.  These changes have included such things as; taking a step out to start their own business, giving up their job to launch out into full-time ministry and reaching out to a loved one to heal a broken relationship.  By anyone’s standard, these are all hard decisions and worthy of contemplation and planning.  However, when contemplating and excessive planning coupled with fear, doubters, and basically a faith deficit, prevent you from moving forward to follow closely something God has called you to do, your have possibly entered into sin.

My Pastor, Adam Starling, once said “The time between when God tells you to do something and time you actually do it is the greatest problem for most people’s obedience to God.”  One thing I have learned is that often times, God is waiting on you to obey what He has called you to do, so that someone can fulfill what He has called them to do.  Maybe, someone is believing God for a job and he wants them to take the one you need to give up in order to start your own business.  Perhaps, people’s eternal destiny is waiting on you to completely embrace the ministry call on your life.  Even still, generations coming after you may be forever changed by your willingness to risk being hurt and moving forward to restore that relationship with your family.

I wonder how many people’s lives your decision to quickly obey God will impact?  If you are having trouble making these decisions and taking that step of faith, get some accountability, get some life-coaching, and do the things that put yourself in a place to quickly obey.

Now is the time to shorten the gap between when God speaks and you act.  Faith leaps, while not always easy alway pay BIG.  In the words of NIKE, “Just do it!”

The Best Start and a Fabulous Finish

Screen Shot 2014-06-29 at 7.21.34 AMThere is nothing better than living a life of joy.  If you combine this with having a marriage that brings you great joy, your life is so much better.  We work with couples every week who struggle in marriages that just don’t meet the standard of joy and peace they would like to have.  There is a simple start to this process.  First of all, there is one thing to always remember.  YOU and you alone are responsible for your joy.  When you truly begin to acknowledge that your spouse is not the source of your joy then you are well on your way to having the best start and the fabulous finish.

Even though it is true that you are responsible for your own joy, there is a secret that will ensure that you are able to have a joy filled day every day.  The best start comes when every morning you begin by spending time with God.  Just spending those precious first moments of your day remembering God, embracing His presence and verbalizing your gratitude to Him for all He has done for you, starts your day off right.  There may be struggles in your day but they are nothing that you and God together cannot handle.  I love Psalm 5:1-3 from the Message Bible:

1-2 O Lord, hear me praying; listen to my plea, O God my King, for I will never pray to anyone but you. 3 Each morning I will look to you in heaven and lay my requests before you, praying earnestly.

This simple concept of praying in the morning helps refocus your day.  Taking time with your spouse every morning to refocus together will give your the best start at having a great day and a joy filled marriage.  Psalm 5:4-5 gives advice for your thoughts throughout your day:

4 I will bless you as long as I live, lifting up my hands to you in prayer. 5 At last I shall be fully satisfied; I will praise you with great joy.

Taking this simple posture of remembering God in the middle of your day, continues to keep you focused on what is most important.  Use phone calls and texting to encourage your spouse to remember that God is with him at every moment.  I love getting texts from my husband sharing the ways God has reminded him that he is with him all the time.  That simple act increases my joy so much.

Now for the fabulous finish, we look at Psalm 63:6-8:

6 I lie awake at night thinking of you— 7 of how much you have helped me—and how I rejoice through the night beneath the protecting shadow of your wings. 8 I follow close behind you, protected by your strong right arm.

Ending your day talking to and thinking about God and how much He has done for you, that He is protecting you, reminds you that you are never alone.

We are never fighting our way through life without the very help we need to succeed.  God is with us every day at every moment.  Try utilizing these steps to finding your “Best Start and Fabulous Finish” every day.

Sex is a BIG Deal in ALL Marriages

Screen Shot 2013-04-02 at 8.57.56 AMMost women when asked, would respond that the most important need of a man is sex.  While respect/honor is actually the primary need of man, sex is a very close second.  Yet sex is one of the biggest areas in many marriages that cause a lot of conflict.  For many women I work with, this very conflict causes a great deal of pain.  Finding ways to navigate the balance of desire for sex between husbands and wives can be very complex.  However, by have some very open conversations with your spouse about where they are both coming from can help this area of your life come into balance.  Beginning that conversation often means wading through unmet expectations, hurts, feelings of failure on both sides, and even the releasing of using sex as a punishment or reward.  While this is can be a path least taken, it is a path that can lead to a more satisfying marriage then you have ever dreamed of.  I encourage all couples to have open, honest, and loving conversations about where there marriage stands in relationship to their sexual intimacy.

I recently read a blog Holy Hot and Humorous which addresses one of the big issues in marital sex.  Just Because He Stopped Asking Doesn’t Mean He’s Stopped Wanting.  This blog poses some great ideas.  These ideas could be used to initiate a conversation that would help wives begin to discover exactly where their husband is in relationship to sex in their marriage.  I encourage you to do a check up on your intimate relationship with your husband.  It will be one of the most life giving things you will ever do.

Not Now I’m Busy

Screen Shot 2013-02-05 at 10.14.19 PMWhen it comes to time, we all have 24 hours in a day, 7 days in a week, and 365 days in a year.  However, I frequently hear many people saying I just need a few more hours to get everything done.  Does this sound like you?  I am the Small Groups Director for Victory Church in Oklahoma City.  At my church, I lead 4 small groups as well as all the ministry required for the Small Groups department.   My husband, Steven and I are the founders of Bridge Builder Marriage Ministry.  We are Marriage and Relationship Life Coaches.  We are authors.    We have three children, 2 daughters-in-law and 3 amazing grandchildren.  Our life is to say the least, very full.  That is both good and bad.  Having many things in your life to be thankful for and having many ways to invest in the lives of others is a great way to impact the world for the Kingdom of God.  However, at the same time, it is important that we don’t get so busy that we don’t have time for the really important people in our lives.

Many times in the past I have worn busyness as a badge of honor.  I am all about accomplishing things.  In fact, my husband knows the best way to speak my love language is to take note and compliment my completion of tasks.  I’m just a “get er done” kind of girl.  In fact, for many years, he referred to me as the “White Tornado.”  This same nickname was also adopted by the girls I worked with prior to coming to work at Victory Church.  I am great at getting things done, the problem is many times I would plow people over and not even recognize it until the wounded and dead were lying all around.  This is an area where I have to be very aware all the time.  We all remember the Biblical story of Mary and Martha.  In Luke 10:38-42 we see Jesus taught Martha that busyness can prevent you from the most important things in your life.

38As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 40But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” 41“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42but only one thing is needed.f Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

Have you found yourself in a place where you are beginning to feel like you haven’t had any time alone with your husband that didn’t include snoring.  If you are doing nothing more than sleeping in the same bed together you are in a dangerous place.  If your life is so incredibly busy that you don’t have time to spend with the people your truly love.  It is time to re-evaluate your life.  At the end of the day, what we accomplish pales in comparison to the relationships we build and honor.  I want to encourage you to take some time and evaluate your life.  Eliminate anything that really is not important, be intentional about making time for God and for the people who are the most important in your life.  These choices will be worth more than you know.

Handling Conflict Respectfully ~ Selfishness

Continuing in the series “Handling Conflict Respectfully” we will start with selfishness.  If you have read my blog recently you find that I talk a lot about releasing yourself from expectations.  One great reason to do that is because holding onto expectations is a relationship killer.  It kills relationships from a multi-directional attack.  From unmet expectations, to hurt, to unforgiveness born out of unmet expectations these attacks come frequently and often times without warning.  Compile more than these attack approaches and you have recipe for a conflict.  Releasing yourself from expectations eliminates one area of conflict in your relationships.  I would ask you again begin to let go of expectations of yourself and other people.  Why talk about expectations in a post about selfishness you might ask.  Well, the truth is that all expectations of other people are based in selfishness.  “I expect” starts with “I” and therein lies the problem.  By allowing other people to be who they are, seeing them as the amazing creatures God designed them to be and not imposing our expectations on them, we free ourselves and them for what is sure to be disappointment.  So start by being diligent to release yourself from expectations.   In the words of my Mr. Marvelous, “that is much harder to do than it sounds.”  I respond to that by saying, you can do it.  It will take a conscious effort at first but as you practice you will get better and it will become who you are.

Selfishness also often takes the form of manipulation:  Because we want things our way and we want people to do what we want, we often find ourselves trying to manipulate others to get them to meet our needs and desires.  The problem with changing this behavior is it is often subconscious and we aren’t even aware that we are using manipulation.  I will say however, there are many people who overtly use manipulation to control other people.  If you are one of these people then you should be able to identify when you use manipulation in your relationship with others.  However, if this comes through you subconsciously then you will have to be diligent to look for and identify when you are trying to manipulate others.  This would be a great time to enlist the help of your spouse or someone you are in a relationship with in helping you see the signs of manipulation you might be missing.  People who aren’t confrontational by nature have a higher tendency for manipulation.  So if this describes you, begin to look at all the areas in your life where manipulation could manifest.  Pouting, yelling, intimidating, withdrawing, fault finding, and belittling are all forms of manipulation that are not only hurtful but can be relationship killers.

Accusations and proclamations are also forms of selfishness.  When we use accusations, we are conveying to the other person their shortcomings are unacceptable.  I find it interesting when you look at the Bible, that in Revelation 12:10 Satan is referred to as the “accuser of the brethren”.   Accusations are not only hurtful and often times mean they are inconsistent with who God is and His power in our lives.  I encourage you to ruthlessly eliminate accusations from your conversations and interactions with others.   Proclamations are also born out of selfishness.  “I always do this or that,” again this starts with that giant little word, “I”.  When you begin to compare your best with someone else’s worst you are sure to create conflict.  Our best deeds matched up to God’s goodness will pale in comparison every time.  When we begin to examine our life in light of what the Bible says we should do and be, we find little validation for our right to make these truly lame proclamations.

There are many other ways that selfishness sneaks into our relationship, begin today to be very diligent to look for them.  Begin to truly become who Christ has called you to be by becoming selfless.  Selflessness is a great indicator that we are living lives that bring glory to God.  Make a difference today, eradicate selfishness from your life, become a servant.  When you are busy serving others, there is little room for selfishness.  I want to leave you with this one scripture that talks about how to be great in the Kingdom of God.

It is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant.        Matthew 20:26

R.E.S.P.E.C.T More Than Just a Song!

This seems to be the resounding theme I have been hearing recently when talking to women, when working on the sermon for our upcoming Marriage Conference and in my personal time with God.  I have met so many women lately who have strong personalities and are really disrespectful and don’t even know it.  I recognize it so much better than I used to.  If you read my last post you will know the reason I recognize it so easily is because it was a HUGE problem for me.  It has been something that for the last 7 years or so I have been working on.  I still have days I feel like “Ned in the first reader” when it comes to becoming less disrespectful.  Every once in a while in a effort to check on my progress I ask my gorgeous hubby how I’m doing.  I did this just last night.  He gave a great analogy that I wanted to share.  He said that going from really bad to good is not as hard as going from good to great.  I was happy to hear him applaud my progress in this department.  (Excuse me while I take a moment and enjoy the success I have had to date.)  After his comment I was struck with the similarity of becoming more respectful and dieting.  Okay so I know that this may seem like a stretch but this is how it connects.  When you start a diet the more weight you have to lose the faster you lose.  All girls know the last 5-10 pounds are torturous to lose, well it’s that way with becoming a respectful wife.  If you are blatantly disrespectful then it is easier to notice and change some of your ways.  However, the more subtle ways of being disrespectful are harder to see and harder to correct.  At least that has been my experience.  So I just want to start by sharing some of the biggies and we will work towards the subtle ways of disrespect.  Let’s face it until you become aware of the big ones, you will struggle to find the more subtle ones.  Also, when you change the big ones your hubby will be so happy you will find you have more grace of the subtle ones.

The first “biggie” I will tackle is what I call, “You’re a Failure.”  Feeling like a failure is one thing that many people, especially men struggle with.  Men are created with a strong desire to succeed, to conquer, to win the war.  However, many guys struggle, feeling like they are not able to do this.  As wives, we are there to be their supporter, encourager, and believe in them and what they do.  Often in my past I would feel it was my duty as a “good” wife to point out the shortcomings of my husband.  This of course, was all in an effort to help him get better.  Here’s the truth about that.  Not only did he not need my help in identifying his shortcomings, by doing that I just made him feel worse about what he already saw in himself.  I learned that trading in the magnifying glass for some pom poms was much more effective in helping him be the man he and I both wanted him to be.  Have  you ever heard yourself say to your husband, “Can you do anything right?”  Perhaps you have said, “Just get out of my way and let me do it.”  Maybe this all time favorite, “I guess I’ll just have to do it myself.”  These are frequent comments I hear wives saying to their husbands.  These are among the most damaging words you can say if you want your husband to be successful.  Instead of those responses why not try some of these, “I love that you can do anything you set your mind too.” “I know that you always give your best effort to make sure you get the job done and I respect that about you.”  “Wow, what a great job, I love watching you be so successful.”  Truly by changing the way you speak to your husband in the area of success, you find that you will begin to see him be more and more successful.

Again, I encourage you to begin to listen to yourself.  Begin working to become more aware of what you are saying and doing in regards to your husband’s success.  You can help him become everything you and he want him to be by making some changes in the way you speak and respond to him.  You can become a truly respectful wife, it just takes effort.  I promise the benefit you see from this change will not only make a difference with your husband it will also be life changing for you.  YOU CAN DO IT!!!!!