Hello! I love you!! This One’s for the Girls

Screen Shot 2014-01-15 at 4.34.31 PMThis post is for the girls.

Often in our Marriage and Relationship Life Coaching sessions we meet with couples who have been married only a few years.  However, from time to time we have couples who have been together for many years.  For these couples, they often report they feel like they are living with their sibling.  It isn’t usually anything huge that derailed their marriage rather a lack of demonstrations of love each day.  As you know I often say, “If the grass looks greener in your neighbors yard, water your own grass.”  Often times after years of living with someone you get so accustomed to their ways and thoughts that life can become routine.  This is often the downfall of many marriages.

What to do????  The best answer truly comes from the past.  When you first met your husband, what did you do?  When you first started pursuing him, my guess is you left no stone unturned in your effort to get his attention and demonstrate your love for him.  Well, sometimes going back to the basics is the best idea.  To revive the romance in your marriage, why not try some of the wonderful things you did in the early days.  Here are few suggestions that might be helpful in jogging your memory.

  • Leave sweet notes of love for him to find in his car in the morning.
  • Send him off in the morning with a PASSIONATE kiss.  (This is two-fold, it starts his day of right and reminds him why he wants to come home at night)
  • Meet him for a surprise lunch.
  • Send him sexy text messages during the work day.
  • Make sure your hair and clothes look as good today as they did when you were dating  him.
  • Put chocolates on his pillow in the evening with a love note.
  • Flirt with him from across the room.
  • Surprise him by greeting him while wearing his favorite color of lipstick and perfume.
  • Plan a date to somewhere you went when you were dating.
  • Recreate your favorite things to do when you were dating.
  • If he played sports take him to the ball field or court where he played and remind him how much you loved watching him play.  Talk about that big play or shot he made.  Let him know you still remember.

Be creative,  you will find wonderful ways to spice up the romance in your marriage, no matter how many years it’s been since you first met.

For those of you who are newly married, never stop doing the things that won his heart to start with.  Years from now you will be so glad you did.

~Melisa~

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Bucket List VS Vision Lists ~ Do You Have One?

Screen Shot 2013-12-17 at 4.43.00 PMAn amazing thing has started in our family.  I am happy to report I was the source of it.  Does that sound prideful?  Well, maybe but when something I did starts to make an impression on people in my circle I get pretty excited.

A few months ago, I read a blog by one of the pastors I work with at Victory Church.  Pastor Ryan Latham has a blog that I enjoy reading.  He and his amazing familyScreen Shot 2013-12-17 at 4.34.53 PMScreen Shot 2013-12-17 at 4.35.12 PM are truly an inspiration to me.  When I think about marriages that are true and solid and lived totally for Christ, theirs is one that comes to mind.  They truly are a great example of a Godly marriage and family.  Back to the blog that is the inspiration for the transformation in my family.  He wrote a blog about his Bucket List.  Now I know that probably brings to mind the movie with the same title and truthfully I have never been a big fan of bucket lists.  They seem sort of morbid to me.  However, when I read Ryan’s blog post, I was struck at how much more it sounded like a vision list to me.  This is something that I am very fond of.  Well, after reading his post I was inspired to write my own vision list.

In our breakfast nook at home we have a GIANT post it note pad that my husband and I use for diagraming book chapters and scheduling ideas for marriage conferences, this, I thought would be the perfect thing to write my vision list on. After all, it was big enough, and what isn’t cool about a giant post it note.  After much thought I began.  Ryan inspired me to dream big.  So I started with the books I want to write, followed by seeing some family members come to know Christ, and then added a pretty large donation I would like to make to help my son’s new church.  There are several other things on the list but you get the idea.  After completing the list I thought about moving it to the bedroom but truthfully, I forgot to.  Then I began to notice that as people would come to the house they would gravitate to the walls with all the paper stuck on them.  My vision list was a favorite place for many people to pause.  You could see the wheels turning as they stopped and thought.  Many made comments and some even said they were going to make their own.  I liked this a lot.

The first person to come around to the idea of a vision list was our daughter’s amazing boyfriend Matthew Myers.  Screen Shot 2013-12-17 at 12.01.50 PMAs you can tell by the picture, he is adorable and I am so glad he is part of our family.  Truthfully, Matthew started his vision list because, well, I made him.  Currently it has only one thing on it, but hey it’s a start.  The next people to get on the vision list train are our son and daughter-in-law, Mark and Brianna.  They are the community pastors for Faith Church in Hinton, Oklahoma.  I just received a picture of their vision list.  So excited!!!!!!!!

So now, what is on your vision list.  What big things do you want to do or where would you like to go?  What would you like to see happen in your family and your marriage?  With the end of 2013 here, now is a great time to spend some time making your vision list for 2014.  Habakkuk 2:2 says:

2 And the Lord answered me:  “Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it.

So whether you call it a “bucket list” or a “vision list,” take some time and do one today.  You will be amazed how when you see it on paper, it quickly becomes reality in your life.

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.

A Life Redeemed

It’s with incredible gratitude to God for the redemption of my son, Levon that I am sharing his testimony video.  He is a clear demonstration of a life that was damaged was completely restored by the power of God.  

 To hear him talk about how God restored his life is such a blessing.  I remember all to clearly the years of pain as we prayed for God to intervene in his life.  It was in those years that God continued to show me that He had a plan for Levon and that by not giving up and by standing in faith, I would see that plan come to pass.

I want to share our story.  I know that there are many people out there who are in the same place I found myself, with children who are struggling with addiction and I want to provide hope that God can and will reach out to your children.  God reminds us in Acts 10:34 that He is not a respecter of persons.  He can and will do the same for you.  Continue to stand and continue to believe.  God is faithful.

I do have to admit to hear that my divorce many years ago was the start of Levon’s drug addiction was very hard to hear.  Just as I heard him say that, God reminded me of the passage of scripture in Romans 8:1 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.  I choose to celebrate the redemption of my son and I choose to help end the devastation that divorce causes by teaching as many people who will listen about God’s plan for marriage.  I believe that if we are able to help people understand and live out God’s plan for marriage we can not only change the lives of husbands and wives but we can change the destiny of generations to come.  Divorce truly is a generational destroyer of lives.

If you are in a place where you are unhappily married find someone to help you learn how to do marriage God’s way and watch your marriage succeed.  You can contact me at melisa@bridgebuildermm.org for information about marriage and relationship coaching.  We can change the world as we work to restore marriages.  

If you are struggling with addiction there is help at Teen Challenge.  You do not have to be a teen to find help here.

Respectful Women in the Workplace

Have you ever had a day at work where you just lost it?  Have you found yourself in tears in the middle of a meeting with men that you work with?  I have for sure.  Let me tell you about a wonderful display of disrespect I made last year at work.  As many of you know, I work at Victory Church in Oklahoma City.  I must admit this is a great job and I love the people I get to work with everyday.  I am fortunate to work with some of the most gifted people on the planet.  Many of them are men.  Having said that working at a mega church can be stressful at times.  Contrary to popular beliefs we do not float around on clouds in a prayerful state all day.  It is probably the hardest job I have ever had as the Director of Small Groups.  At any rate, last year I had the opportunity to go to the Bahamas on a vacation.  I was frantically working to get all of my work done so everything would be covered before I left.  Two days before I was scheduled to leave I found out about a change that was going to be made that would really affect some of the groups that meet at my church.  Let me go on record as saying the fact that I got left out of the loop on something that affect my department was completely an oversight and not anything that was intentional AT ALL.  However, because of the amount of stress I felt I was under to get everything done at work and at home and getting my family ready to travel for a week and making arrangements for a house sitter for our dogs, you know the usual mom/wife/travel agent role we women play, I was not as aware of my emotions as I should have been.  To say that I didn’t handle this situation well is quite the understatement.  I lost my cool and added an unnecessary amount of emotion to every conversation I had all the way up the food chain.  (Never ever ever ever a good idea)  I was wrong wrong wrong.  I will say that the men I worked with did extend a great deal of grace to me but I really believe I could have gotten much better results had I taken a few minutes and collected my thoughts and used a much more professional approach.  Lesson learned.  I have been much more diligent from then on to stay on top of my feelings in the office.  I admit I am not perfect but I am improving.

Today I found an amazing podcast from Focus on the Family by Shaunti Feldhahn.  I have loved her book For Women Only for many years.  When I was busy learning about respect and submission in my marriage, her book gave me great practical insight.  It wasn’t that I didn’t want to be respectful, I just didn’t know what it looked like.  Her book gave me real, practical ideas about some changes that I needed to make to be more respectful.  It was really the beginning of the journey for me that led me to where I am today.  If you haven’t read For Women Only, buy a copy and read it soon.  So back to this post, the podcast I ran across was about how men perceive disrespect in the workplace.  Even more the concept of how we as women unknowingly hinder ourselves by being disrespectful with the men that we work with.  This was a great extension to the idea of being a respectful wife.  So I am sharing the podcast with the hopes that it will give other women some insight that will help them as much as it has me.  If after listening to the podcast if you are interested in finding out more you can pick up Shaunti’s new book For Women Only in the Workplace.  Becoming a a respectful employ will be beneficial to women everywhere.

Women, I would love to hear your feedback on how you handle emotional situations at your workplace or trials that you have encountered working with men. I would also love to have feedback from men who have experienced women who are emotional at work.  You opinion matters, please share it.

Handling Conflict Respectfully ~ Forgiveness

Screen Shot 2012-12-05 at 5.25.39 PMHopefully you have been following this series and you have seen some great ways to handle conflict.  In a marriage conflict is inevitable.  If you have been married more than a week you have no doubt run into conflict.  Truly no matter how much you love someone being in relationship and living with them is always much harder than it seems.  Be encouraged, while conflict is bound to happen, having good tools to work through it is the key to making life together much better.  The more you use and practice these techniques the better you will be at resolving conflict quickly and with as little damage as possible.

In this final post of this series we will look at what can be perhaps the hardest part of handling conflict successfully as well as something that if you don’t do will likely cause the eventual breakdown of the relationship altogether.  Forgiveness is the biggest gift you can give to both yourself and to your spouse.  However, it can also be the hardest technique to employ in handling conflict.  Especially if you feel that your spouse has intentionally harmed you.  Wounds inflicted in marriage by someone who is supposed to love your more than anyone else are the deepest.  They take the longest to heal and they are often times the hardest to forgive.  I have found that the hurts caused by my husband, my children, my parents are wounds that have to be intentionally worked through.  I find that many of the people I have worked with also have the same experiences.

What is forgiveness?  Many people think that forgiveness means no longer holding someone responsible for their actions.  Many people think that it is a feeling and can only be true forgiveness if you can enjoy a happy relationship with the very person who hurt you.  While these can be parts of forgiveness, I find that it rarely starts there.  First of all, forgiveness is not about a feeling it is about a choice.  We CHOOSE to forgive.  It is a conscious decision we make.  It is an act of our will.  Secondly, when we choose to forgive it doesn’t necessarily mean the person we forgive is absolved of their part in the hurt.  It does me that we choose to release ourselves from the hurt that continuing to hold the injustice or perceived wrong is causing in our hearts.  Forgiveness is something that we often times have to do choose to do more than once as the pain of the wound resurfaces.  No doubt you have heard the saying, “unforgiveness is like me drinking Draino and expecting the other person to die.”  Unfortunately, that is the very effect that unforgiveness has in our lives.  It is the contamination of our very hearts.  When we choose to nurse and rehearse the wrong done to us, the wound will continue to grow.  However, when we begin to release ourselves from the hurt by bringing it to God and allowing Him to heal us we find that healing begins.  Jesus is the ultimate example of forgiveness.  He chose to forgive us and then he chose to love us and allow us to be who we were and accept us.  We have the same opportunity to apply the Christ kind of forgiveness.  One of the ways that is very helpful when finding a place of forgiveness is to take time to consider all other possibilities for what caused the hurt.  Did your spouse really mean what was said the way your heard it?  What is the intent of your spouse’s heart?  Were there other factors that could have caused this response from your spouse such as fatigue, feelings of failure, your own criticism of them, words you had spoken that might have been better left unsaid?  When you look at an area of conflict from a calm perspective you are often able to see things that may have escalated the situation to a hurtful place.  When you look at it from these perspectives it is often easier to walk in forgiveness.

I want to encourage you today.  Begin to let go of unforgiveness in your marriage and relationships.  Begin to ask God to heal your heart and to allow you to see the other person as He sees them.  Release yourself from the pain that your have been carrying.  You will find that it is the best gift you will ever give yourself.

Expectations in Relationships Are Killers

Expectations have been something that have caused enormous problems for me in the past as well as for many people I meet nearly every day.  We live in a world where we are taught that we have a right to expect people to do the right thing, to say the right thing, and to behave the right way.  We are entitled to these expectations and they are completely appropriate, right?????  Well, now that I have said that, what do you think?  Are we entitled to this or not?

Entitlement as defined in thefreedictionary.com is “To furnish with a right or claim to something.”  This sounds like something that is right in marriage.  After all marriage is a covenant between two people and therefore, we should have the “right or claim” to expect certain behaviors.  Well, that sounds really good in theory, however, I have found that in reality many things don’t work like theory.  When I was in nursing school they taught us their theory of nursing. I soon found out in the real world theory was not reality.  Patients rarely responded exactly like the text book said, medicine rarely came from the pharmacy at the exact moment it was ordered, and the number of patients your were hired to care for frequently was exceeded by the number of patients you were actually assigned to.  You see, expectations can set you up for a lot of disappointment and frustrations.  In marriage your expectations can and frequently do the same thing.  Many times we enter a relationship with fairy tale expectations.  Prince Charming is coming in and to rescue me from this life I have.  He will make me his queen and we will live happily ever after in a land far far away.  Hey it happened to Cinderella, Snow White, and Bell, so it could happen to me right?  We even get some additional encouragement about how these expectations are going to play out while we are dating.  During dating, everyone is on their best behavior, most of the time.  Even if someone isn’t, there is a ton of grace for them because we are busy looking at our dream life through rose colored glasses.  All this sets up up for high expectations and the potential for some incredible disappointments.

So where do we go from here.  First, begin to take a real look at your expectations.  What are they?  Then realize that you need to begin to release yourself from them.  God gave me a great visual of what this looks like.  Expectations are like the handcuffs that keep us bound to frequent disappointments and hurt.  When you choose to release yourself from expectations, it is like unhand-cuffing yourself from those disappointments and hurt.  That sounds great and many people want to do just that, but that can be very hard to do.  It takes practice and a daily dedication to review your motives and thoughts.  When you release yourself and allow people to be who they are without the idea that you want them to change or that you have the ability to change them, then you find a place of peace that you probably haven’t experienced in a long time.  I speak from personal experience when I say finding this place in my life has probably been one of the biggest life change I have experienced.

I just wanted to remind you that truly the only person you can is yourself.  While you can influence change in others, the best way to do that is to change yourself.  When you change yourself and the way you interact with others, this will in turn change how others interact with you.

How does this work in marriage.  Well, I will climb on my soap box yet again.  Start by becoming the husband or wife that the Bible tells you to be because you love God and and want to bring Him great joy.  Change your focus to pleasing God not changing your spouse and I promise you will begin to see amazing changes in your marriage.  When you do what you do to please God then He will make things work out for you.

So today, begin to eliminate expectations in your life.  Begin to live a life free from the pain and frustrations they bring.  Begin to see the beauty that kind of life can hold for you.