Sunday, March 30, 2014

An Ounce of Prevention: 'Are You Dating a Glider or a 747?'

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Yeah...

I oftentimes wonder if women are dating to marry or simply dating to not be lonely.

There is indeed a difference and this article expresses that very fact:

About a year before I met my husband, a visiting minister prayed over me and said, “God is going to clear the runway of your life of all the gliders so that there’s room for the 747.” Now, here’s the thing about gliders: They have no engine. They’re just carried by the wind. A 747, on the other hand, not only has an engine, but that engine has to be big enough to carry a lot of people 30,000 feet up in the air.

In this case, the engine represents the heart.

Up until then, the guys I dated liked me enough to ask me out but then quickly changed. One day they called, and the next they didn’t. One day they seemed super interested, the next indifferent. They were carried by the wind of emotion and lacked a heart conviction about our relationship. It was a recipe for insecurity, self-doubt and turmoil.

And over the course of a year, God did exactly what that minister said. He cleared those gliders away from the runway of my life. I became convinced those men were not right for me, and I no longer mourned the loss of their attention.

And then Marvin came along. Shortly after we met, he knew he wanted to marry me, and his actions and attitudes were honorable, steadfast and single-minded. There were no double messages. I never wondered if he still liked me, and I never questioned his motives. While we dated, I was secure, happy and grounded. And I still am.

When God awakens love in the heart of a man, that man sets his face like flint and pursues the woman he loves. He gives, waits, listens and learns. He does what it takes to get the girl. And if he’s a good man, this won’t change after the honeymoon. He may relax the pursuit, but the love doesn’t diminish; rather, it grows, matures and solidifies. Largess continues to mark the relationship, and there is joy.

When mere emotion or physical attraction awakens love, the man shifts like the wind. He likes you; he doesn’t like you. You’re the one; you’re not the one. He has eyes only for you; his eyes wander over every cute figure that passes by. And there’s nothing you can do about it. You can’t be pretty enough, funny enough, spiritual enough or flexible enough. You’ll never be good enough. Nope, he’s just not that into you, and the fruit in your life is misery.

This is what your friends see and sense while you’re still blindly hoping.

You don’t want a relationship built on fickle emotion; you want one grounded on the rock of God-breathed conviction. You don’t want to get aboard a glider, which can never carry you to great heights or bear the weight of life’s challenges and will surely crash given a strong enough gale. You want a jumbo jet that can climb above the storm and lead your family through the exigencies of life. —Nicole Doyley


We've all been "taken for a ride" before.

Make sure your (next) relationship is actually headed somewhere.

Purposeful and good.

Right and real.

Loving and lasting.

Luxuriant,

SRW

An Ounce of Prevention: 'How to Wait on God's Promises'

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"Wait on the Lord; Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the Lord!"---Psalm 27:14(NKJV)

So...

Praying for the "On Fire" women today led me to this. Drink it in, ladies:

God’s promises are yes and amen, but they’re often far from instant. What do you do while waiting? And how do you know if He actually promised something? Bible teacher Iris Delgado explains the art of diligently handling a divine vow.

I learned a secret a long time ago from my mother. We lived in a hell-hole of a home while I was growing up, where it was normal to feel fear and intimidation. Child abuse was a secret, and promises were seldom kept. Through those years, Mother often used a phrase that went over my head: “I am trusting God and His promises. Thank you, Father, for Your promises are yes and amen.”

I had no clue at the time what she meant by this “yes” and “amen” about God’s promises, but it was an oft-quoted, familiar phrase in our home.

One day, my father came home in an unusually quiet and pensive mood. A demonic entity had clouded his mind. He glared at my mother and said, “Tomorrow, get ready because I am going to massacre the entire family. If your God is able, you better tell Him to save you!”

That was it. He didn’t say another word that entire evening. But Mother believed him. I’m sure she prayed all night.

The next morning, Dad left early. The moment he was gone to work, Mother called her prayer team of intercessors. I was too young to understand the warfare that was really going on, but two warriors united with my mother and bombarded heaven, reminding God of His promises as they pleaded for mercy.

Mother had prayed for years for my father’s salvation. But it seemed like the more she prayed, the worse he got. This never stopped her from making that daily declaration: “Father, I am trusting You. Your promises are yes and amen.”

Around noon that day, while Mother and her prayer warriors were prostrated before God, praying in agreement and claiming His promises, the phone rang. The voice on the other end told her that Dad was in the hospital in intensive care. The wind had been blowing on this wintry overcast day, and Dad had been wearing a trench coat when he left work for lunch. While crossing the street, a car sped by him, catching the hem of his coat. Once the driver realized he was dragging something, he stopped his car to find my father lying on the pavement.

Dad suffered a broken spine, which rendered him a quadriplegic, paralyzed from the neck down.

It was an unusual answer to prayer. I’m sure Mother never imagined that standing upon God’s promises for help and deliverance would result in such a dramatic outcome. But it did bring deliverance from the danger facing our family that day. The enemy caused my father’s defeat, but God allowed that defeat because my father refused to turn from his sin and disobedience.

I learned a great truth from my mother’s example that day: God is able to rescue us when we remain anchored and unmovable upon His Word. When you become God’s possession, a citizen of the kingdom of God, and you learn to walk in obedience to His Word, His mighty warrior angels are always on the lookout, ready to help and protect you.

But how do you know if God actually promised something that allows you to claim that “yes” and “amen”? Or what if you believe in a promise and then it doesn’t happen? What’s more, how do you get through the waiting, especially when the waiting gets long?

Perhaps, like my mother, you’ve been standing on God’s promises for a loved one’s salvation or the fulfillment of a great need or desire for a very long time. Maybe you’ve reached a point of desperation and your energy’s starting to flag. Maybe you’ve started to wonder if you heard God’s promises right from the beginning. Should you just keep muddling through?

The truth is, God is never oblivious to your needs and desperate prayers, but there are certainly lessons to be learned in the waiting. Here’s what you can do as you wait and watch and pray.

Develop an Awareness of Presence

In your mother’s presence, if the relationship is a good one, you find a listening ear, an embrace and words of comfort. In your doctor’s presence, you gain advice on how to get better. In the presence of a counselor, you receive counsel for making wise changes. In a friend’s presence, you find a caring response when you unload your feelings.

And in the Father’s presence, you find an inner healing and restoration you won’t find anywhere else. During this time of waiting, enter into the Father’s presence on a daily basis. Establish your home as a house of prayer where the Spirit of God dwells richly and freely.

But also know there is more to cultivating an awareness of presence than being aware of the Father. Presence may be defined as a spirit, a manifestation, a supernatural spirit that is felt to be nearby, somebody who is notably present or the physical existence of something. And so we must learn to discern when evil spirits enter our presence or atmosphere as well.

As we stand on God’s promises and wait for His answers to our prayers, His divine intervention, a miracle or a specific word of encouragement, we must be aware of the presence of evil and the visitation of evil spirits on assignment—especially because they always know the precise moment to invade a weak person’s life. As the Scriptures teach, the enemy will stay on your territory unless you forcefully drive him out with God’s Word (see Luke 10:19), and the only power Satan has over you is the power that you willfully surrender to him (see 1 John 3:8).

When you feel irritable, moody, bothered, angry, annoyed or dismayed, invite the Holy Spirit into your presence. Become aware of your position in Christ Jesus. Surrender into the arms of Jesus. Put on your praise music. Use this time of waiting to renew your mind with God’s Word—it will protect you and help you overcome discouragement and the fiery darts of the enemy in his advance upon your life.

Remain Steadfast in His Promises
One of the greatest problems I notice as I minister throughout this country and abroad is an epidemic of lukewarm hearts among Christians. Impatience, discouragement, doubt, fear and hectic lifestyles trap countless believers in desperate situations in which they are unable to trust God with their whole hearts. Yet that trust is the most important thing we can give God—and the most important muscle we can exercise while we’re waiting on God’s promises to be fulfilled. I can give you a list of other things to do—writing down God’s promises, declaring them every day, meditation, warfare prayer, etc.—all of which are good. But we can’t turn God’s hand by following a list. All together, these practices only work when we do them with sincere hearts.

Do you believe God’s Word is infallible truth? If you do, then you have the inward capacity to understand that God doesn’t play favorites and that His promises are for all of His children. He doesn’t withhold anything from us without a specific purpose—some of which we will never know.

And so, if you have a need and find a promise related to that need, consider it an actual promise from God. That’s how I see it and believe it.

I stood for my healing of an incurable, debilitating disease of lupus with lung involvement for 18 years. I found the promise in Isaiah 53:5 that “by His stripes we are healed.” I stood, believing that promise every day. I also confessed the promise in Proverbs 4:20-22: “My son, give attention to my words; incline your ear to my sayings. Do not let them depart from your eyes; keep them in the midst of your heart; for they are life to those who find them, and health to all their flesh.”

I never gave up. For 18 years, I stood on those promises. And not too long ago, as I wrote the book Satan, You Can’t Have My Miracle, I was totally healed from the disease.

Why did it take so long? I have no idea. Sometimes I think my faith and tenacity in the midst of adversity was a testimony to my family and all the many people I have ministered to during the years. I simply refused to question God. I just waited on Him. My husband and two daughters never heard me complaining or lamenting of pain or weakness or questioning God’s timing. I’ve left a legacy of endurance and trust in God. Today, I’m able to see my example of endurance expressed through the lives of my family.

The bottom line is, you either believe the Word of God and that His promises are true, or you don’t. The choice is yours, and it must be made. Every day we make choices, whether we want to or not. We decide to be happy or sad, to be angry or self-controlled, to accept fear or God’s peace, to be moved by feelings or God’s promises. We choose. And in this place of waiting, you must choose to trust God with His promises.

Trust God with the Outcome


One of the most frequently asked questions among God’s people is, “What if God doesn’t come through?”

I remember listening to the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego as a child in my Sunday school class. I was enthralled, appalled and relieved as I listened to the details of their daring adventure of facing the fiery furnace.

It wasn’t until many years later that I understood the great love and reverence those three Hebrew young men had for their God. They decided they would not bow down and worship a golden image, even if they were doomed to die in a fiery furnace! They knew the consequences—everybody in the kingdom did. But they made a clear, unyielding decision that if the God they served wanted to deliver them out of the fiery burning furnace, He would—but even if He did not, they still would not bow and worship another god. Their commitment was unwavering and non-negotiable.

Their story has a good ending. God showed up and kept His promise. However, God showed up inside the furnace! They had to walk into the furnace that was meant for their demise. Can you just imagine it? Those moments of standing before the guards, being bound by hand and foot with rope, wondering if God would save them before they stepped inside the fire?

God didn’t save them before they stepped inside the fire. He saved them inside the fire. And yet even though their salvation didn’t look the way they expected it to look, they remained unwavering in their commitment to God. They trusted in His promises to them, no matter the outcome.

In the same way, you and I may go through many trials and tribulations, and the outcome of those troubles may look nothing like we hoped. When we make a quality decision to trust Almighty God no matter what may come—no matter how many days, months or years we wait for His arrival or the way He chooses to arrive—God will always deliver us out of the hand of the enemy. The secret is in the declaration: I will not bow down, no matter what!

Consider Other Possibilities

If you have been standing on God’s promises for a long time and have taken to heart each of the admonitions outlined above, you may want to consider other possibilities at work in your situation that may be hindering God’s response and activity in your life. Keep in mind that unanswered prayer may be the result of some of these additional factors:
 

Prayers not aligned with God’s Word. Are your supplications supported by Scripture? Are you asking after the heart of God?
    

A curse that hasn’t been broken. These can be curses placed upon you or curses dating back generations. Gather your prayer warriors and have them pray for the breaking of any curse still at work in your life.
    

Secret sins that need repentance. Are you hiding a part of your life from the light? Are you hoping it won’t be seen? Trust in God’s mercy toward you, and turn away from it in repentance. Unrepentant sin can block the Father’s activity and blessing in your life.
    

Unforgiveness that creates a hindrance. An unforgiving heart, just like secret sins and unbroken curses, can block the work of God in our lives. Are you harboring unforgiveness toward another? Confess your unforgiveness and ask for God’s grace to forgive the offending party.

Continue to Show Up

While you are waiting, you cannot stay passive. Your involvement here is necessary. Your faith must remain active. Believe through faith that you will inherit the promises, just as the saints of old “subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle [and] turned to flight the armies of the aliens” (Heb. 11:33-34).

While you wait, stay vigilant, keep your armor on and enlist prayer warriors’ help—just as my mother did on the day she prayed for our family’s deliverance from my father’s evil intent. We serve the same Almighty God, who is the same yesterday, today and forever. He is a God who is mighty to save.


Luxuriant,

SRW

Thursday, March 27, 2014

An Ounce of Prevention: 'Waiting Works: Couples Who Wait Report 22% Happier Marriages (and Better Sex!)'

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I mean...

Do you think that fornication would be so prevalent if Satan didn't realize all of the *damage* that it does (John 8:44 & 10:10)? I often say, "Things will be totally different once we choose to acknowledge the power of sex as much as he does."

Anyway...

Here's just one more reason to wait:

Brigham Young University recently conducted a large study of 2,035 married individuals, aiming to determine which factors contribute to a “happy” marriage. One of the questions on the survey was “When did you become sexual in this relationship?”. Interestingly, the study found that the longer the couple waited to have sex, the better their marriage was. Those couples who had waited all the way until marriage to have sex exhibited the highest advantages.

According to the study findings, couples who waited till marriage to have sex had the following advantages…

    22% higher relationship stability
    20% higher relationship satisfaction
    15% better sex (“higher sexual quality of the relationship”)
    12% better communication.

These are hugely significant findings to the waiting-till-marriage community. I don’t know about you, dear reader, but as somebody who’s waited for a long time hoping that it would lead to a great marriage…I’m pretty f’ing psyched about the above statistics. And you should be too.


Quotes from the Study Author

Professor Dean Busby, who conducted the research, naturally had a few things to say about these findings…


Regardless of religiosity, waiting helps the relationship form better communication processes, and these help improve long-term stability and relationship satisfaction.

There’s more to a relationship than sex, but we did find that those who waited longer were happier with the sexual aspect of their relationship.
 

I think [people who wait have better marriages] because they’ve learned to talk and have the skills to work with issues that come up.

Other Cool Facts about the Study
 

The study controlled for religion. As in, even in non-religious people, waiting on sex produced the same benefits regardless of religion (or lacked their of).
    

The benefits are about half of the above numbers if the couples waited on sex for a little while, but not all the way until marriage.

What this Means for Those who Wait

Look, you’ve been told your whole life that you’re making a noble decision by waiting till marriage. People say “oh, good for you”. But secretly you’ve had to wonder: “Is it? Is it good for me? Will it really make me happier in the end?” Well, now you know: According to the results of this study, there’s a good chance that you aren’t crazy after all. So congrats, dear reader. You made the right decision. Rest a little easier tonight that the future holds good fruit for the seeds you’ve planted by waiting.



Luxuriant,

SRW

An Ounce of Prevention: '10 Things Happy Couples Avoid'

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Talk about an ounce of prevention...

Happiness in a relationship takes a daily conscious effort and healthy habits. Avoid these negative behaviors and attitudes and see how you can bring more love and joy into your own marriage.

1. They don’t complain about their spouse to their friends or family. Happy couples know that it’s best not to involve others in their marriage. They talk directly to their spouse if they have an issue instead of consulting others who often may provide negative feedback that could hurt the relationship. There is nothing wrong with healthy ‘girl’ or ‘guy’ time but don’t use it as an opportunity to complain about your spouse.
 

2. They don’t compare their spouse to others. Happy couples accept and love their spouse as is. They know that comparing their spouse to others is unrealistic and unfair and will leave them feeling insecure about their marriage. The grass isn’t always greener on the other side, even if it looks like it is.
 

3. They don’t blame each other. Happy couples take responsibility for their feelings and their role in the relationship. They ask for what they need instead of wallowing in self-pity or blaming their spouse for their situation.
 

4. They aren’t too serious. Happy couples know how to experience joy and have fun. They “date” regularly and laugh. Even when life throws you a curve ball and things are extremely stressful, they work at keeping things light and fun.
 

5. They don’t criticize. They look for the good in their spouse and when they are upset, they learn how to ask for their needs in a sensitive way. Happy couples know that criticism only tears the other down and creates a rupture in their relationship. If your spouse is doing something you don’t like, pay attention to why it’s bothering you and learn how to talk about it in a safe way.
 

6. They don’t ignore their finances. Happy couples know that financial stress puts pressure on a marriage. They’re in communication about their financial goals so that they can make responsible decisions for their future together. If money is a topic you would rather not discuss, know that avoiding it will make money matters worse.
 

7. They avoid mind reading. Happy couples know how to communicate so that they both are aware of each other’s needs and feelings. No matter how connected they feel, they don’t expect their spouse to know what they want or how they are feeling. They spell it out clearly. If you are not getting the attention you need, tell your partner.
 

8. They don’t nag. Happy couples encourage each other instead of pressuring. They find ways to support each other which serves as a natural motivator, as opposed to nagging which often backfires. If your husband is out of work, instead of nagging him to go on job interviews, try to raise his morale with your love and support, even if it seems scary. Your genuine encouragement and trust in him will motivate him to move forward.

9. They don't withhold or forget about intimacy. Happy couples are intimate physically and realize that it is an essential part of a healthy marriage. They increase their bond by focusing on each other's needs. Even if life gets busy don't neglect this important aspect of your relationship.
 

10. They don't have one foot out the door. Happy couples are committed to each other, even when the going gets tough. They don't enter the relationship with an exit strategy in case it doesn't work out. If you're committed to your relationship, you will be present enough to put in the work that it takes to create a great relationship.

Luxuriant,

SRW

An Ounce of Prevention: 'Being Single Is Hard for Those Who Wait. Let’s Fix That.'

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So...

I checked this out on a website WaitingTilMarriage.org. There are some good points in here; just sharing for those who may be able to relate to the title.

If you’re waiting until marriage to have sex, being single is a special kind of torture. It’s tempting to think “oh it’s extra hard because I’m single AND still a virgin” but that’s not where most of the pain comes from. The pain comes from the powerful dream that seems to recede from you every day that you’re still alone.

You decided to wait until marriage to have sex because you cared a ton about love, commitment, and having a great marriage one day. Marriage is a major issue to you, and you’ve got a lot riding on it emotionally (and physically).

You have all these normal single person pains…
 

I’m never going to find somebody.
    

Is there something wrong with me? Am I defective?
    

This is getting harder and more pathetic as I get older.
    

Maybe I need to reexamine my entire life philosophy and everything I’m doing and have ever done.
    

Since I have time, I might as well obsesses on all of those past relationships that maybe I took for granted.
    

I wonder what my ex is up to. Probably something happy and better than me.

Plus these special waiting-specific pains…


It’s because you’re waiting till marriage. That’s why you’re still single.
    

Maybe it would have worked out with your ex if you weren’t WTM.
    

The older you get, the more stigmatized you feel by society for still having your V-Card and pursuing childishly-optimistic dreams like waiting until marriage to have sex.
    

The older you get, the less chance there is of finding somebody else who’s waiting.
    

The older you get, the less chance there is of finding somebody else who can accept your desire to wait.

Most of these beliefs are irrational because they’re too generalized. When you’re feeling down on yourself, you start to catastrophize (you overgeneralize in the negative direction). To fix this, habitually pull your spiraling, catastrophic thoughts back down to the ground, break them up into specifics, then attack the specifics. Let’s try that with these catastrophic beliefs about waiting…
 

Irrational Belief #1: You’re single because you’re waiting till marriage.

If you gave up on waiting till marriage, how would you act differently? Would you go out and date fearlessly? Would you join all the dating websites, go to all the singles groups, flirt unabashedly at your next social gathering? Would you be confident in the knowledge that you could meet someone, and not have to worry about them rejecting you over waiting? Does that sound about right?

Waiting itself isn’t holding you back; it’s the inaction that you allow waiting to produce in you, driven by your fear of other people’s reaction to waiting. You could join all those dating sites right now, flirt unabashedly right now, and you’d probably find somebody, even though you’re waiting.

The fear of rejection over waiting that most of us have is a paper tiger (something that looks scary, but is actually weak and easily defeated). There are so many people out there, waiters and non-waiters, guys and girls, who are ready to accept you with your decision to wait (especially if you’re willing to strike a compromise on physical stuff). Find them.

Finally, your WTM status shouldn’t even come up until the dates are going well anyway, so there’s nothing stopping you from getting that far. Don’t pre-reject yourself on their behalf.
 

Irrational Belief #2: It would have worked with your ex if you weren’t waiting.

If you dated for more than a month, waiting itself wasn’t the only reason the relationship ended. If you’re going to get rejected for waiting, it will happen quickly, within the first month of dating. If your relationship actually gets off the ground and then ends, something else killed it, because by then they’ve already committed to a relationship with you despite waiting. Don’t underestimate the power of simple incompatibility, bad timing, and short-sightedness, and don’t overestimate the power of waiting.

Waiting is a convenient scapegoat to blame your failed relationships on. Don’t use it that way. Think deeply about your past relationships; see beyond the “it was the waiting thing” obstruction. Think about your attitude towards the relationship, about your ex’s attitude towards the relationship. Think about the ways that you were naturally diverging from each other in life course (if that’s the case). Think about how you’d wish you’d handled it differently. And then, most importantly, try to imagine encountering those same difficulties in the future, with a different person. How will you handle them better next time?

Even if it had worked, would you still want to be with that person? Really? No other issues? Then call them (if they’re single).
 

Irrational Belief #3: The older you get, the more stigmatized you feel by society for still having your V-Card and pursuing childishly-optimistic dreams like waiting until marriage to have sex.

If everybody accepted you for waiting, how would you feel? Sometimes, the hardest part of waiting is other people (or, what you think other people expect). Usually, if you take that pressure away (mentally) for a moment, and picture the whole world accepting your decision to wait, you’ll remember how much waiting means to you, and how much you still want to wait.

Also, getting older and being single carries it’s own, giant stigma. Don’t allow the normal pressure of being XX-years-old single mix with the pressure of being XX-years-old and waiting. If you removed the former, the latter would fall almost completely to zero. Waiting multiplies normal romantic pressures. Attack the normal pressure, not the waiting.
 

Irrational Belief #4: The older you get, the less chance there is of finding somebody else who can accept your desire to wait.

False. You are forgetting three things:

1. The older you get, the more marriage-minded your dates are. When you’re 18 and waiting, you’re asking somebody to potentially wait 5 years or longer to have sex. When you’re 28, and you’re both evaluating marriage potential. Marriage feels more like a looming occurrence, so you’re not asking them to wait forever.

2. The idea of waiting can become appealing to non-waiters after years of failed relationships. By your late 20s, every single person — waiting or not — carries a twinge of desperation about being single. They’re likely not happy about being single either, and maybe they feel that sex has lost some of its specialness during all their years of searching. So here you come: a super awesome person, with the ability restore specialness to sex. Some people will find that package appealing.

3. Mature evaluation of partners goes both ways. Again, will likely become more accepting of non-waiters as you get older because you learn to prioritize other values. In the same way, non-waiters get more accepting of waiters, for the same reason.
 

Irrational Belief #5: The older you get, the less chance there is of finding somebody else who’s waiting.

Good news! The older you get, the less you’ll care about finding somebody who’s waiting. I know that might sound like a depressing and revolting compromise, but it’s not. As you age, you’ll find values and qualities that are as important (or even moreso) to you as waiting. Also, the benefits of waiting (on your marriage) apply even if both partners weren’t waiting to begin with (it’s the waiting process itself that strengthens the relationship).

Still, this is true. Your pool of available waiter partners shrinks every year older you get. If that’s a big concern for you, start going to church singles events, and/or join our community and start meeting some fellow waiters. We’ve had 2 engagements and several couples already, and we haven’t even added formal dating features yet.


Luxuriant,

SRW

"On Fire": ARE YOU STAYING OPEN?

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"Open up before God, keep nothing back; he’ll do whatever needs to be done: He’ll validate your life in the clear light of day and stamp you with approval at high noon."---Psalm 37:5-6(Message)

Recently...

I ran into someone who said that she used to follow the blog. She told me how much she enjoyed it back in the day. In response, I simply said "Get back on there, girl so that we can get your married."

Her response was classic: "I'm going to let God do that for me."

My response was casual: "God may be using the blog."

She shook her head in let's say, "hesitant disagreement": "I'm not interested in people trying to put me with someone. I'm gonna let God do it." She admitted that she had a wall up and honestly, God didn't lead me to try and climb it but what she said does serve as inspiration for this message today.

For Isaac to be joined to Rebekah, a servant was used. (Isaac was 40 at the time, by the way.-Genesis 24 & 25:20)

For Boaz to be joined to Ruth, Naomi was used. (The Book of Ruth)

For King Xerses to be joined to Esther, Mordecai was used. (The Book of Esther)

These are just a few examples that come to mind. So what's my point?

One of the biggest challenges that we have as being children of the Most High (Psalm 82:6) is making sure that we *reflect God* rather than deciding to *be God*. By that I mean that Isaiah 55:8-11 clearly tells us that God's ways are not our own. Therefore, it's never in our best interest to determine how God will be God in our lives. Or when he will choose to do it. Or what method he will use to do it.

Yes, one of the biggest hindrances in our lives is not being OPEN.

Open: not closed or barred at the time, as a doorway by a door, a window by a sash, or a gateway by a gate; (of a door, gate, window sash, or the like) set so as to permit passage through the opening it can be used to close; having no means of closing or barring;
having the interior immediately accessible, as a box with the lid raised or a drawer that is pulled out; relatively free of obstructions to sight, movement, or internal arrangement

I remember watching an episode of Sex & the City back in the day and following Charlotte's divorce, she was at a seminar and she shared that she was afraid (one of the main reasons why people stay closed off, by the way-2 Timothy 1:7) that her failed marriage had taken away her openness to love; her ability to do it. I've been there before and I'll say this about it: Being that God is love (I John 4:8&16) and marriage is a manifestation of God's love (Genesis 2:18-25, Matthew 19:1-12), I see how the thief comes in to steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10) when it comes to embracing all of the possibilities that love has to offer.

Sometimes it's through low self-esteem. (Psalm 139:14)

Sometimes it's through heartbreak. (Psalm 147:3)

Sometimes it's through fear. (I John 4:18)

Sometimes it's through pride. (Proverbs 16:18)

And yes, sometimes it's simply through not being open...

Open-minded and open-hearted.

So, am I saying that you shouldn't guard your heart (Proverbs 4:23)? *Of course you should*. It's Scriptural after all. Yet what we are to guard it from are the avenues that will not add to the quality of our lives. So, if you are using "guarding your heart" as your reason for being closed-off, my recommendation would be to test your motive (Proverbs 21:2&8-Message). If it's based on any of the reasons just provided, that's probably not *guarding*. More than likely, it is *running* and to that, the Word simply says "Be still and know that I am God." (Psalm 46:10)

I have been saying, pretty much all of this year, that I discern and believe that some really BIG THINGS are going to happen to some of you. Yes, *as it specifically relates to the purpose of this blog* and as the picture quote says, if you want a man who is open to love, you are going to have to "step out on faith" (Hebrews 11) and be open as well. Even if preparation comes through some atypical means.

Love is too great...

Too big...

And too necessary...to be closed off to it.

God is a gentleman. He forces himself upon no one.

Therefore, don't tell him how he should move.

STAY OPEN. After all...

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Luxuriant,

SRW

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

An Ounce of Prevention: '23 Things to Know About Dating and 27 Things to Know About Courting'

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Yeah...

That quote up top tickled me...

On to the matter at hand. I sometimes find myself in discussions about the differences between dating and courting. Quentin McCall has broken it down pretty well. First, I'm going to share his article "The Difference between Dating and Courting" followed by the 23 dating points and 27 courting points that he provided:

Dating and courting can be beautiful, rich, learning, and growing experiences.   These experiences are a path to helping us find the person we will choose to love.  Love is a selfless, unconditional action; not based on anything unstable.  So, since dating and courting may lead to love, we must be responsible and handle both situations with care.

If approached correctly, you will never have to wonder whether you are dating or courting anyone.  You see, we should not haphazardly fall into dating or courtship.  “Dating” and “courtship” are not just words used to casually describe our relationships and interactions with people.  They should both be experiences we manage in healthy ways.


Dating and courting in healthy ways will eliminate 85% of our pain, drama, or problems in dealing with men or women.  So, let’s go a little deeper in defining some things that distinguish dating and courtship.

1. The Goal – The goal of dating is to get to know people (and even learn some things about you in the process).  The goal of courtship is marriage.  The transition from dating to courtship comes after two people have gotten to know one another really well.  After this, they can talk openly and decide they both want to move towards marriage.  The two people should both be able to say, with confidence, “We are courting to get married.”

2. The Relationship – When dating, you get to know people as acquaintances.  You learn about their likes, dislikes, interests, etc…  When courting, you become best friends.  This is where you begin to share more about the reasons for who you are, why you like the things you like, the source of your interests, etc… This is where you spend time together experiencing one another’s interests for the purpose of supporting them and helping them move towards their goals.

3. The Status – Dating is a temporary place and should be a safe place for getting to know someone. Courting is for a loving and secure relationship.

4. The Communication – You should be honest, no matter what.  That speaks to good character.  However, during the dating phase, you share in order to learn about one another.  During the courtship phase, you learn to actively listen and work together to lay a strong foundation for marriage.

5. The Intimacy – Sex is not for dating or courting.  It should be reserved for marriage.  During the dating phase, you may find yourself attracted to a person.  However, this is the time for you to establish boundaries and ensure you do not place yourself in situations where you will be tempted.  During a courtship, you should have open and honest communication with your partner and work together to establish boundaries.

6. The Family – The dating phase is not the time to “meet the family”.  Remember, when dating, you are developing acquaintance-level friendships.  Once you have had a chance to get to know a person without a lot of outside influences, had a chance to evaluate them for yourself, and you know they are someone you would considering marrying… then you can start to integrate them with the family.  Now, let me add, I am not saying you must be secretive about everyone you are dating.  Apply wisdom and definitely let someone know who you are spending time with.  However, I am saying to have some discretion about who you start to integrate with your family.  Courtship is when you should meet and spend time with each other’s family.

7. The Preparation – Being happy alone is the prerequisite to having a happy relationship and marriage. No man or woman can do what God is supposed to be doing in your life and there is no way around it.  Once you are happy alone, you may choose to enter the dating phase.  During this phase, you should do things to help you continue to grow as an individual (prayer, reading, studying, counseling, etc…).  In a courtship, you should seek resources that help you learn how to grow together as one in preparation for marriage (e.g. marriage counseling, reading, open discussions, etc…).

8. The Commitment -  Whether dating or courting, either party can decide the relationship is not for them and choose to walk away.  When dating with boundaries, ending a relationship is not devastating because you have an acquaintance-level friendship and you both respect the other’s decision to walk away.  When in a courtship, there may be hurt involved from ending the relationship.  However, the honesty and security in the relationship allow you to walk away with mutual respect.


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In dating, the motives are not always clear. If we place a premium on friendship, and not having sex or companionship, the motives will be made clear overtime. The problem we have is when people see dating as a recreational sport of sex, fun, variety, companionship and using people until someone else comes along.

Here are 23 things you need to know about dating:

1. Dating is not for having sex, using people, numbing your pain or dealing with aloneness.

2. Dating is not for having multiple sex partners or test driving sex to determine if the sex is good enough before we marry someone.

3. Dating is for getting to know people and establishing an acquaintance-level friendship with the possibility of deeper friendship.

4. If you remove the sex and do not rush into physical and emotional relationships you will get to know people in healthy ways.

5. Dating may or may not lead to marriage or courtship.

6. Dating is usually a result of physical attraction and not spiritual attributes.

7. In dating, people usually seek out people without seeking God for direction or an answer about the person they are considering.

8. If you don’t take your time with your dating approach, you increase your chances of being hurt and becoming bitter because of your pain.

9. Dating is often motivated by lust, aloneness, and emotional decision making. We need more people who approach dating in healthy ways and not from the standpoint of numbing pain or selfish reasons.

10. Dating is often a selfish activity where two people are not sure about who they are. We have to learn to love ourselves and become whole alone with God. Being happy alone is the prerequisite to having a happy relationship and marriage. No man or woman can do what God is supposed to be doing in your life and there is no way around it.

11. Dating can cause a lot of hurt. Thus, we must place a premium on becoming friends, prayer, and not having sex. We can’t allow our emotions to rule our decision making or allow selfishness to cause us to rush into relationships we are not ready for.

12.After dating for a while and establishing a true friendship based on common values and character, you can move into a deeper relationship known as “courtship.”

13. Courtship has the goal of marriage. Dating may or may not have marriage as the goal.

14. Dating is not the problem. The people doing the dating are the problem.

15. Dating will not hurt you if you do it the right way.

16. Don’t date if you can’t be happy alone or are seeking dating to numb deeper emotional wounds.

17. Dating will have you thinking the sex you are having is love when it’s really lust. This is caused by how you date, lack of maturity, and how you approach dating.

18. God has given us principles to live by and these principles can be applied in healthy dating.

19. Dating with selfish goals is wrong and will lead to you being hurt, disappointed, bitter and delusional about love.

20. Dating should be seen as something safe, not something that is risky. However, if we don’t apply boundaries it can become unsafe for our hearts. Please focus on safe and pure friendships during the dating process.

21. Even when dating does not lead to marriage, we should leave the situation knowing more about ourselves and who we are. It should not be just another disappointment or sex partner added to the belt.

22. Dating can help develop and improve your relationship skills.

23. God can use any relationship to teach, heal, and develop you for who is for you.


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When courtship is the goal, your main intent is to get married.

Here are 27 things you need to know about courtship:
 

1. Courtship is not about playing, doubt, or uncertainty. In this stage, you are about getting married. Only enter courtship when you are ready to marry.

2. A courtship doesn’t have to develop into marriage because a couple can decide they are not for each other and simply remain friends, which is perfectly OK.

3. In courtship, you are both praying together and seeking God to lead the relationship in the right direction.

4. Courtship will not happen many times in your life, assuming you are approaching relationships from a healthy perspective. Remember, courtship is where you are exploring a deeper relationship with marriage being the goal. So, you will not be doing this often if you are approaching the dating stage with healthy boundaries. 23 Things You Need To Know About Dating

5. Dating is a temporary place and should be a safe place for getting to know someone. Courting is for a loving and secure relationship.

6. Courtship is not for the spiritually and emotionally immature.

7. Sex is not for courtship. Sex should be a gift of marriage.

8. Courtship is for positive intentions.

9. Courtship is done with the goal of having a future spouse.

10. You should not enter into a courtship until you can be happy alone and not attempting to heal emotional wounds through a relationship.

11. Courtship is a selfless relationship. If you are a selfish person, you should not even have a serious relationship until you are mature enough to share life with someone without seeking to gain something for yourself.

12. Selfishness should not drive a marriage, nor should it be the driver of your courtship. (Philippians 2:3)

13. For the men who are reading this, your focus should be on becoming an Ephesians 5 man. (Ephesians 5:25)

14. You should treat the man or woman you are in a courtship with as your brother or sister. (1 Timothy 5:1-2)

15. If you can’t see yourself marrying the person you are dating, delay the courtship. Only enter into courtship with someone you would consider marrying.

16. Courtship is when you should meet and spend time with each other’s family.

17. Courtship requires the couple to be honest and transparent so both can make a choice about life together.

18. A successful courtship requires love, prayer, patience, and oneness.

19. You should avoid hiding your feelings during courtship.

20. The habits you form during your courtship will bleed over into your marriage.

21. A healthy courtship should bring the best out of you.

22. A healthy courtship has strong communication.

23. Courtship is where you can become best friends. We all know the best relationships or marriages happen when couples are best friends.

24. Pray for discernment concerning your courtship and the potential for marriage.

25. When in courtship take time to discern God’s will. No rushing…..

26. Courtship will help a couple determine if they should get married.

27.  Only enter courtship with someone you would consider marrying.


I'll say this. In a part of the dating piece that I did not include, Quentin says that the Bible does not make a clear stance on dating. Technically, he is right. However, one thing that is a *distinct pattern* is the fact that men and woman tended to be *intentional* when it came to spending quality time with one another.

That said, whatever it is that you do with a man, make sure that you do it, mutually so (Amos 3:3), with intention. You are God's daughter. This means that you deserve to be treated as far more than a casual (without definite or serious intention; careless or offhand; passing)...pastime.

Luxuriant,

SRW

An Ounce of Prevention: '25 Reasons Why Married Sex Is Better'

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Uh-huh...

Aside from the fact that married sex is better (eh hem) *because it's not a sin* (Hebrews 13:4-LOL), I'm all for providing other reasons that will help us all to "stay the course". And personally, I was happy to see this in a "secular" publication. Unfortunately, there are far too many people who praise sexual sin rather than true sexual oneness. Here we go:

1. Morning sex. Morning sex anytime you want it — you share the same bed! You might have to set your alarm a little earlier, but it'll be worth it.

2. You can initiate. You know that he wants you — he married you, after all! 

3. You don't have to look perfect. He's seen you when you're exhausted and after you've gotten out of the shower when you forgot to take off your eye makeup — and he still loves you. Sex is stress-free when you don't have to worry about having the perfect makeup, the perfect lingerie, or even being perfectly groomed.

4. Be the boss (I'm assuming they mean in the bedroom; avoid that elsewhere, please). You can be vocal or bossy without fear of rejection. Fear of rejection is so mid-20s.

5. The daylong foreplay. The touch in the kitchen, the look during carpool, the accidental innuendo that thankfully goes above your kids' heads, the flirty emails — it all makes it so much hotter when you finally can get each other alone.

6. Show and tell. You can ask for what you want without worrying about being too forward. He'll call you in the morning — scratch that, you'll be in the same bed together when you wake up in the morning!

7. Sneaking is sexy. Stolen moments feel illicit and sexy, especially if you're sneaking around while the kids are (briefly) napping.

8. You can experiment more. You know each other so well that you can be open about your fantasies, desires, and curiosities. You can try your hand at dirty talk and not feel ridiculous.

9. The beauty of quickies. Some sex is better than no sex. You can make up a quickie signal with your live-in mate and go at it during any time of the day or night, whenever the mood strikes.

10. Sayonara STDs. You've both been tested and you're in a monogamous love nest, so now the nerve-wracking risk is gone!

11. The birth control plague. In college you were consumed with fear about getting pregnant, but now you and your husband can plan when to try to have a baby, which means less birth control concerns.

12. 24/7. Booty calls are never far away — in fact, one is probably down the hall from you right now!

13. Laughing while lovin'. Before you really know someone, a bedroom snafu can be embarrassing. With your husband, you can try something and if it fails, laugh instead of feeling self-conscious.

14. He knows...how to turn you on. You've had a lot of practice together, after all.

15. Sexual healing (no, we're not kidding). Sex in a marriage can help you both get past ruts. Getting cozy in between the sheets will foster a sense of intimacy even if things aren't perfect in other aspects of your marriage.

16. No weird surprises. You've met your husband; in fact, you know him quite well. He won't all of a sudden ask you to call him King whatever (thank God) or play out a strange fantasy without giving you a heads up first.

17. No pretending. You don't have to pretend to be into that weird acrobatic move or that tiring role-play narrative if you're just not feeling it.

18. Practice makes perfect. You have no reason to hold back. By now you've become one another's gifted sex god and sex goddess.

19. Memory eraser. A well-timed seduction will take his mind off the fact that you forgot to pick up his favorite beer when he asked you twice or that you're all about to go camping with your parents for the weekend.

20. Work hard, play harder. He'll do any chore you ask if he knows nookie is coming right after.

21. Sincerity — aww. He's your husband, so he'll say sweet and sincere things, and actually mean them. You think your butt has seen better days? He thinks otherwise!

22. The post-coital cuddle. It never gets old.

23. Sex is transporting. Dinner, daycare and dry cleaning can lose their luster fast. Sex with your hot husband can break up your day and keep you glowing well into the night.

24. Relive your favorite romp. By now, you've had a lot of sex together. Part of the fun of having such a long history is that you can talk about your favorite times and do your best to recreate the heat!

25. Love tops all. Sex is always better and more passionate when you're in love.

God knows what he's doing, right? Indeed married sex is truly *worth the wait*.

If you'd like some other reasons, check this book out.


Luxuriant,

SRW

An Ounce of Prevention: '7 Signs Divorced Couples Say They Missed'

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Later today (or some time tomorrow)...

I'm going to be penning a devotional that's based on this quote: “Some people are so busy mopping the floor that they forget to turn off the faucet.” I thought about that as I read the following article:

Every relationship has its own special dynamic, but experts say these signals suggest that you or your partner have stopped dealing with stuff that you probably need to address.

"My husband stopped going places with me--family functions, work events, dinner parties." - Meredith T., Philadelphia
 

"If your spouse skips out when you want him by your side, it's easy to feel like he doesn't care about your needs or interests," says Terri Orbuch, Ph.D., author of Finding Love Again. But don't assume the slight was intentional. "Couples often have different expectations about what they should and shouldn't do together," she says. So if attending family parties as a duo is important to you, make that clear, and if he'd rather stay behind, find out why. It may be that your uncle hits him up for cash, or your weeknight work events leave him exhausted the next day, meaning his desire to stay home has to do with the people or the situation--not you or your relationship, Orbuch explains. Then, figure out ways to make things work for both of you, like promising to speak with your uncle in advance or ducking out of work events by 9 p.m.

"Whenever I walked in the door, my husband greeted me by yelling-about the phone bill, disorganized cabinets, anything and everything!" - Judy L., Pittsburgh
 

Fighting does not mean you're heading for Splitsville. In fact, the number-one predictor of divorce is just the opposite-habitually avoiding conflict, according to The Coalition for Marriage, Family and Couples Education. However, constant squabbles are no good, either, so it's important to break the cycle of negativity, says Marriage Meetings for Lasting Love author Marcia Naomi Berger. To make any fight less heated, take a sanity break when things start to get tense. "When we're angry, our brain loses its ability to problem-solve. It takes 30 minutes to return to rational thinking," Orbuch says. If you feel your heart beating in your chest or you start coming up with hurtful things to say--or sense your partner is--suggest taking a breather. You'll come back better able to tackle the issue from a levelheaded place.

"She invited my in-laws on every vacation instead of having us spend time alone together." - Nate S., Charlotte, NC

 

In some big families, a the-more-the-merrier mentality is par for the course, but it needn't be the case every time. "Spending too much time with others dilutes the connection between partners," says Jamie Turndorf, Ph.D., author of Kiss Your Fights Goodbye. Think about it: You didn't fall in love by spending time with an audience, and doing fun, relationship-building activities is what will help you continue to grow and bond. Rather than blaming your partner, tell him why alone time is important to you--and how you feel when you don't get it. Then, come up with a new activity you'd like to try together, ask him to the same, and commit to spending a certain amount of time together--10 minutes a day to chat, a weekly date, or a long weekend away every six months--to give you a reason to fall in love again and stay that way. 

 "He always spent money on things without telling me-on tools, electronics, etc. The tipping point was when he bought his mom a car and didn't understand why I felt angry and betrayed when I found out." - Sonya S., Palo Alto, CA
 

Fighting about money? Welcome to the club. It's the number-one reason why couples argue, according to a survey by the American Institute of CPAs. "But for most couples, money fights are about something deeper," says Deborah Price, author of The Heart of Money. For example, if your husband spends on his needs rather than on the relationship--maybe you both need a new car or a vacation--you'll likely feel hurt and unvalued. "Talking openly about your issues, fears, and hopes about money is key to preventing misunderstandings," Price says. Set aside a time beyond your monthly budget meeting (yes, you should be having those, too) to discuss those things, and promise to listen without judgment or anger. It'll help you stay on the same page, financially and otherwise, and ensure that money issues don't become a source of resentment.

"I started confiding in friends and family about our relationship issues instead of dealing with them directly with my husband." - Tracie T., San Francisco
 

Though it's totally reasonable to want to unload on close friends or family, doing so can backfire, big time. First, your confidantes almost always take your side because they want you to be happy, says Divorce Busting founder and marriage therapist Michele Weiner-Davis. While that vindicates your feelings, it does nothing to help your relationship. Since talking to your spouse is always best, try asking yourself, How would I approach my husband differently if I truly believed he was going to get it? Weiner-Davis suggests. Our expectations of how a conversation will go often drive results--hence why we talk to proven-to-be supportive friends. "Placing that same confidence in your spouse makes you more open to his perspective and less likely get defensive or angry," she says.

"Whenever I gave her a suggestion--about a problem she was having at work, about a new restaurant we should try---she would get defensive or brush it off. But when someone else offered the same input, she thought they were so smart and helpful." - Paul G. Chicago

 

The issue here is respect. When people don't get it, they lash out or get defensive, says Pepper Schwartz, Ph.D., author of The Normal Bar: The Surprising Secrets of Happy Couples. In this situation, the wife might feel like her husband doesn't respect her choices, leaving her battling her sense of self-worth and the validity of his suggestions. And since she responds by not respecting her husband, the cycle continues. If respect is becoming an issue in your relationship, you need to focus on getting back on the same team. Make it your joint goal to focus on solving problems rather than fixating on who is right or wrong. Then, before you make a decision, as yourself, Is this good for both of us? "Once you agree to be teammates, not adversaries, respect will naturally follow," Schwartz says.

"We started going to bed at different times to avoid having sex." - Tracy T., New York City
 

If you have to be up at 6 a.m. and your husband's alarm doesn't go off until 9, it's natural that your sleep schedules are different. The question here is one of intent--and the whole thing is further complicated by the paradox that men need sex to feel connected, whereas women need to feel connected to desire sex, says Scott Haltzman, M.D., author of The Secrets of Surviving Infidelity. To get that sexy bond back, start by changing your mind-set. "Shift the focus from What do I want? to What does the relationship need?" Haltzman says. Then, instead of thinking of it as giving sex, look at it as getting sex. "That will help you feel turned on by the prospect, rather than having it feel like another chore."

If any divorced "On Fire" women would like to contribute to this, hit me up at missnosipho@gmail.com and I'll compromise a second half of this article. The more single women know on the front end, the better prepared that they can be to make their marriage work (and last) on the back end.

Luxuriant,

SRW

"On Fire": QUOTES OF THE DAY

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Monday, March 24, 2014

"On Fire": 'Help Your Husband BUT Don't Help God in Getting to Him'



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"Relax, everything’s going to be all right; rest, everything’s coming together; open your hearts, love is on the way!"---Jude 1:2(Message)


As I was doing some praying today...

I smiled when I saw that picture quote. Especially the part that says that God is *perfectly able* to bring *the right person* into our lives (of course, he is!-Deuteronomy 32:4). The key, the key that far too many people miss, is the fact that in order to get to God's absolute best person for you, you must let him do things in his own time and in his own way.

Rinse and repeat: IN GOD'S TIME. IN GOD'S WAY.

And more times than not, that is going to be a way that is not our own (Isaiah 55:8-11).

In fact, one huge mistake a lot of women make is thinking that since they were created to be a helper for a man (Genesis 2:18) then that "training" should begin by helping God in getting to their husband when the reality (Ecclesiastes 7:18-Message) is that God doesn't really need our *help*. What he actually needs is our *obedience*.

And when it comes to obeying the Lord, the first thing that we need to do is what the Jude 1:2 says: RELAX. And by relax, more specifically, "to release or bring relief from the effects of tension, anxiety, etc.". When you're tense, you're "stretched or stressed tightly; taut or rigid" and "producing mental or emotional strain". When you're anxious, you're "full of mental distress or uneasiness because of fear of danger or misfortune; greatly worried; solicitous". To be solicitous is to be eager and to be eager is to be "impatiently longing".

Yeah, there are a lot of issues with all of that...

For one thing, I Corinthians 13:4 tells us that "Love IS patient."

How can we possibly be ready to love anyone if we can't even love God enough to wait on him?

The Word is quite clear on how to handle anxiety too...

"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."---Philippians 4:6-7(AMP)

Did you peep how it said to be anxious...*for nothing*? A husband is not excluded from that list and honestly, something that I had to accept when it comes to my own journey (James 5:16), something that I had to check myself on and accept is the fact that if/when I find myself getting anxious about my marital future, being that the Word (John 1:1) says that prayer is the remedy, then my issue is not really so much about wondering what is going on with my future (or the man who is in it), but rather it's about not spending enough time in prayer. In other words...

OUR ANXIETY LEVELS REVEAL HOW MUCH PRAYING WE HAVE DONE. NEED TO DO. OR HAVEN'T DONE. WE KNOW THIS BECAUSE THE WORD TELLS US THAT PRAYER AND HAVING A HEART OF GRATITUDE PROVIDES US PEACE WHICH WILL GUARD OUR HEARTS AND MINDS.

And when our hearts are guarded (Proverbs 4:23), we can really rest in God and relax in him knowing that he he really knows what's best and that he really and truly is working out everything for our good. (Romans 8:28) Again, in his way and in his time. Not our own. That's a big part of what having faith in God (and pleasing him with it-Hebrews 11) is all about.

Besides, how much good can you be on your quest to get to your beloved if your mental and emotional state is all stressed out? No one is at their pique condition when they are that way and if you poll most of the men you know, being an anxious woman is not even close to appealing. God doesn't find it attractive so why should someone who is made in his image (Genesis 1:26-28)? Shoot, even Ruth was told that there was a time when she needed to *chill out*; that there were simply some things that she couldn't do: "Naomi said, 'Sit back and relax, my dear daughter, until we find out how things turn out; that man isn’t going to fool around. Mark my words, he’s going to get everything wrapped up today.'" (Ruth 3:18-Message)

So, are you created/designed/called to be a divine helper for your husband? If you are called to be married, indeed you are. But nowhere in the Word are we told to "help God out" with the process.

So, if that's what you've been doing...*please stop*.

And relax.

*And obey*.

And then watch what being in that kind of spiritual space does for you...

Before, during and after being brought (Genesis 2:22)...to "him".

Luxuriant,

SRW

Sunday, March 23, 2014

An Ounce of Prevention: 'Seven Things I Wish I Had Known Before Getting Married'

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Yep...

There's some good stuff right here. Oh, and while I (and God---not necessarily in that order-LOL) are not in support for "playing house", I still appreciate what this author said about it. The Message Version of Ecclesiastes 7:18 tells us that a man who fears God deals with *all of reality* and not just a part of it. That said, this article is basically like a "marriage reality check":

This month, my husband and I celebrated our twelfth wedding anniversary. A dozen years is both a long and a short time to be married, depending on how you look at it, but over the years I've learned a few things I didn't quite expect life after the wedding to be like. Here are the things I think every single person should consider before they get married.  

Most of the things I've learned (below) apply to both cohabitation and marriage, except this one: Getting married really is different than living together unmarried even for many years (maybe only Goldie and Kurt are the exception). It's not just the many legal and financial benefits of marriage, though. There's a psychological difference.

My husband and I lived together for several years before getting engaged, and dated several years before that, so it's not like there was much to adjust to after getting married. But maybe it's the months of preparing for a wedding (and investing thousands in it) or the knowledge of how difficult (and also expensive) divorce can be that makes the commitment more ironclad, for both you and those around you. This is it. As soon as the wedding vows are exchanged, you're on a different, accelerated life path. Before, you were being nagged about when you were going to get married. Now friends and family will be asking when you're going to have a baby (a relationship- and life-changer on its own). Once you have that baby, you'll be asked when you're going to give the kid a brother or sister. Everyone's in such a hurry.


Even if you're really ready for marriage and can picture the entire rest of your lives together, it's normal to wake up some days and think, "Holy s---, I'm married forever and ever??" Everyone knows marriage is a big commitment, of course. But even when getting married is a natural step in your happy relationship, years later when you're more appreciative of the decades you have ahead of yourselves, you can be floored by how extraordinary it is to commit the remainder of your life to one person.

You're Not Just Marrying Your Partner, You're Marrying His or Her Family Too

You know the saying "We're not losing a daughter, we're gaining a son-in-law"? Well, it works in the reverse too: You're inheriting the obligations, stresses, and, yes, benefits, of a whole new family. You might get along superbly with your significant other's family now, but once you're married, they could transform into the in-laws from hell, because now you're cemented to your partner and they claim you as one of their own.

I'm the quiet sort of person who needs her space, but my husband's family is full of extroverts who don't really understand that perspective. That's caused a lot more grief over the years than it should have (I wish we had this article back then), but I'm lucky that my husband understands me and mediates when necessary. Others aren't so lucky. I've seen couples on the brink of divorce over in-law issues rather than problems specifically between the couples themselves. So my advice would be for both sides to imagine each other's family at their worst and how you two might handle any issues before they got bigger than the both of you. And, to be fair, know that bonding with your partner's family at a deeper level and becoming the daughter/son/sister/brother they always wanted is another surprising perk of marriage. 

Say Goodbye to Taboos

There's a scene in This Is 40 where Paul Rudd's character forces his onscreen wife Leslie Mann to inspect his naked bottom for hemorrhoids. It might not be as extreme as that for all couples, but after being married for some time, the raw and crude things are no longer, well, raw or crude. In fact, they're like curiosities and, sometimes, obligations.

You might ask or be asked to evaluate nose hair or pull off a blackened fingernail—things you would never do or ask while dating—because now you two are one and almost nothing is embarrassing anymore. It's nice to always have someone there to tell you if you have broccoli between your teeth and not feel judged by it.


The Little Things Matter a Whole Lot More

I used to think that the best test of whether you could live with someone else forever is to ask yourself if you could put up with his or her biggest flaw—or the worst version of this person—for the rest of your life. I still think that's a good exercise, since people become more themselves as they age—their desires, strengths, and flaws get sharper. If your partner is somewhat of a curmudgeon now, he or she will probably only become crankier and more stubborn as the years go by. Conversely, the best things you love about a person could hold you steady through the inevitable tough times.

But now I think that it's the little things you have to look for, because in the day-in/day-out of marriage, the little things add up. Little annoyances like a nail biting habit or leaving filled water glasses everywhere are really easy to overlook during a relationship when the bigger things—the way your partner makes you laugh or how beautiful you feel around him or her—attract your attention more. When we're "in love" we tend not to notice the small things that could drive you crazy months later, like hanging the toilet paper the wrong way.

On the flip side, it's also the small acts of everyday kindness, respect, and love that keep a marriage going. Romantic gestures like buying flowers or a surprise date out are great, but they don't hold a candle to mundane things like unclogging a drain or taking over child-bathing duty. Doing chores becomes sexy in a way you would never imagine.

You Both Have to Change to Make the Marriage Work

The old adage that you can't change someone by marrying them still holds true. You shouldn't fall prey to "fixer-upper bias," and you probably don't want anyone to change you either. The truth is, though, you're probably both going to have to change or adapt, as a choice, to keep the energy and love alive.


The two biggest things are learning how to fight more productively and how to communicate in ways that might not be natural to you but make more sense to the other person. Gary Chapman, who literally wrote the book on what people should know before they get married, says that people have different "love languages" or ways they express and receive love best. I'm not naturally a "toucher" but am learning how significant just holding hands can be. It can take a long time to learn what your partner's silences mean (and don't mean), that grudges can kill a relationship, and how to adapt to the ups and downs that life is going to throw at you both.

I think every couple should go through at least one really tough time together before they get married, just to see how the other person handles such things. 

There's No Just You Anymore

Paul Reiser in Couplehood explains it pretty well

The problem is, when two people live together, there is no more Business of Your Own. Your Own Business is closed. You've merged and gone public. You have to run everything by the partners. And if there are too many conflicts of interest, the business may go under, freeing the partners to once again open up smaller concerns by themselves.

Like all businesses, couples engage in endless meetings to discuss areas of management concern and division of labor.

"You know, we really should call the post office and tell them to hold our mail while we're away."

"We? You mean me, don't you?"

"No, I mean we. I didn't say 'you.' I said 'we.' You or me."

"Oh really? Are you ever going to call the post office?"

A moment to think. "No."

"Then you mean 'me,' don't you?"

"Yeah."


Being part of a permanent team has its benefits. You come to rely on the other person to remember and take care of certain information (Psychologists call this transactive memory). I don't have to worry about making plans with our friends or not getting lost when driving, and he doesn't have to worry about the bills or after-school activities. (Also, I wish I had known at the start that there were some things he'll willingly do that I just assumed he hated, because I hate them: things like grocery shopping and getting rid of telemarketers. I would've had him do those things sooner.)

On the other hand, now you have to put the marriage above everything else, and might even forget what you were like when you were single and "free." It's not a bad thing, necessarily. It's just a lot of responsibility, being responsible to someone else.

It's a Constant Work in Progress

You might think once you've finally settled down you can relax and live happily ever after, but nothing can be farther from the truth. The years jumble together, and if you're not careful you'll easily take the marriage for granted. I didn't know it over the years, but I think the thing that's made the most difference for my marriage is our regular vacations and other traditions—things that force us to take stock again in our relationship and reconnect on a deep level. Just "being in love" isn't enough to make a marriage work.

Even after decades of living together, you'll be learning things about your partner, bit by bit, that might surprise you—or they'll suddenly change or have different priorities and needs ("Really, you want to become a scuba diver now?" and "How come you never told me you don't like olives?"). It's like a dance, and you both have to keep up with each other. But what a beautiful dance it can be.


Take note and heed. Please.

Luxuriant,

SRW

An Ounce of Prevention: 'But... How Did You KNOW?'

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So...

I was reading an article this morning entitled 'What I Gave Up the Day I Got Married'. Here are some things that the author shared:

I gave up my heart. The moment I said "I do," my love was no longer my own. I gave another imperfect human being the ability to take me higher than I've ever been, but also the power too crush me to a million little pieces.

I gave up my privacy. I went home on June 8th in someone else's car, to sleep in someone else's bed and to breathe someone else's air. It would never, from that moment on, be just "me" anymore. It was now me and him and him and me. It was now our family, our home and our decisions. It's funny though, because the moment "I" became a "we," I realized what it really meant to be happy.

I gave up my name. The name I was known for my whole life, didn't define me anymore. I would be known by his name now. I was his to cherish, love, hold, laugh with, cry with, provide for and protect.

I gave up my secrets, my weaknesses, my thoughts, my mistakes and the things I hid from the world. Someone now would know. But, someone would also know exactly how to help me, love me and comfort me. Someone would know me so well that they would know what I needed without me ever asking. I would lose all the hidden parts of me, and gain a perfect understanding and love from someone else.

I gave up my agenda. I would have to cancel plans, rearrange my schedule, work longer hours, go to the grocery store when the car was available and cook dinner instead of taking a nap. And as the clock was ticking I would come to understand the reason I was given time in the first place.

I would give up dating different people. I no longer was available for anyone to take out. I was done meeting potential spouses because I had found mine. Yes, I could have dated more. Yes, there are lots of great people out there that I didn't meet, but no, there's no one else as perfect for me as my Ash. And yes, I can know that even though I dated less years than most people and yes I did know that when I picked him, which was WHY I picked him.

I gave up awkward dinner conversations and replaced them with evenings laying in my hubby's arms, with a round belly and no make up, sporting his sweats and an oversized T-shirt I won at some jazz game, eating microwave popcorn and watching Netflix and feeling more beautiful than a celebrity on the red carpet. 


I like this because oftentimes people need to see that shifting from singleness to living the married life does require some real transitioning. You're going to gain a lot (if it's with the right individual, that is) but you're also going to lose some things as well.

Anyway, I peeped in the byline that her blog is entitled "Confessions of a Teenage Bride" and that definitely caught my attention. Although it is not advised, by most marriage counselors, to get married before the age of 25 (for *numerous reasons*), there are some exceptions to the rule. This young woman is obviously one of them; therefore, I thought some of you would enjoy/appreciate reading another post on her blog...because just as Adam and Eve had a different kind of love story than Isaac and Rebekah or Boaz and Ruth or Hosea and Gomer or even Joseph and Mary, *each love story comes with its own distinct fingerprint*---including your own. Some people know they met "the one" the moment they see the person. Some people do not realize it until years later. And some...some are like this young lady. Bottom line, stay open:

I still remember how pressing the look she gave me was. It was almost as if all the deep feelings of her heart were piercing me through her eyes.

It really was a good question, I thought, looking back at her.

"After all was said and done... After you went home and the chemistry and laugher was turned off... When you sat in your bed, by yourself and thought of him... How did you really truly know he was the one?"

Again, good question.

How did I know? How does anyone really know? Is that even possible, to know something so firmly in your heart, that nothing can dissuade you from believing it?

I believe you can.

In fact I KNOW you can, because I knew it with him.

As a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, I was always taught that if you desired to know something, you could pray and recieve personal revelation for your life. And I've always felt like God has led me in every decision I've made.

I've often heard people of many faiths and backgrounds describe having a single moment in which they knew and felt so strongly that the person they were dating, seeing, or even just met was the one. The type of moment where the heavens part and light shines down, or their whole body is overcome with warmth, or they have a dream that they know didn't happen by chance letting them know.

I am a firm believer that these things do happen.

But that didn't happen to me.

And that's okay.

I still know that the man I married was meant for me, as completely as if one of those things had happened.

I know, I know... "But how?"

For me, it was a bunch of small moments that when looked at through a birds eye view just made sense.

He had a bunch of little things that when combined made my heart happy and I just knew.

I just knew that I had been led to the person who would make me feel complete. He always had, and he always would.

Like the time he held me close, as we walked down the busy city street after our first date. He didn't think anything of it... But me, I felt safe and shielded from the cars that briskly passed, and the people who walked quickly by, obviously on a schedule, pushing past everyone in their path.

Or the time I caught him smiling at me when he thought I wasn't looking, and in that second I saw how much he loved me.

Then there was the time he brought me up the mountain blindfolded to surprise me with an evening staring down at the city lights, and he played my favorite band the whole way up. It was the sweetest thing to know that a few weeks before when I told him about the music I loved during a casual conversation, he was really listening to me.

And I'll never forget the time I wondered if he believed as strongly as I did in our faith, so we could always share in the same conviction. The very next day he shared his beliefs with me, and I knew he loved God as deeply as me.

He always has had a way of making me feel beautiful without even trying, and I knew he would continue to do that the rest of my life.

He was easy to talk to, when sharing my thoughts verbally never came easy to me.

He accepted me for who I was: the many quirks I had, and the silly way I did things... like how I ate pizza and watermelon with my fork instead of my hands.

I always felt peace when I was with him, I felt alive when I was with him and I felt whole when I was with him.

I never had a moment where the heavens opened and light shown down.

I never had any type of vision.

I never was overcome while going about my day with an overwhelmingly strong feeling that I was to marry him.

And that's okay.

Because I knew.


Luxuriant,

SRW