Sunday, August 31, 2014

An Ounce of Prevention: 'Tired of Waiting'

"All around us we observe a pregnant creation. The difficult times of pain throughout the world are simply birth pangs. But it’s not only around us; it’s within us. The Spirit of God is arousing us within. We’re also feeling the birth pangs. These sterile and barren bodies of ours are yearning for full deliverance. That is why waiting does not diminish us, any more than waiting diminishes a pregnant mother. We are enlarged in the waiting. We, of course, don’t see what is enlarging us. But the longer we wait, the larger we become, and the more joyful our expectancy."---Romans 8:22-25(Message)


The title basically says it all. Here's a "warm fuzzy" S-C-A-P:

Why does the line at the grocery store drive you crazy? Why does the traffic jam result in you pounding the dashboard? Why does your spouse feel your irritation when they've made you late? What is it about waiting that makes you mad?

Waiting is hard, I get that. We live in a fallen world and that makes life difficult. But our biggest waiting problem is found inside of us, not outside of us.

There are three heart issues that make waiting a struggle for us:

1. Meaning

Waiting, for us, seems meaningless. There's something at the end of the wait, and all we're concerned about is reaching that something. We're rarely concerned about the process of waiting; we just want the result.

If waiting results in a better result - for example, slow cooking a meal to enhance the taste - then the wait doesn't bother us. But think about it: we're still only concerned about the result, in this case, a better tasting meal! We're results-oriented people, so "unnecessary waiting" is a meaningless hassle.

2. Control

Waiting immediately announces that we're not in control. If we were in control, we wouldn't have to wait! Traffic would move, people would obey our commands, and things would be accomplished immediately.

Imagine how enjoyable life would be if you were in control...actually, life would be very dangerous. But we like to trick ourselves into thinking that we would make a better sovereign than the Sovereign.


We're self-focused and self-absorbed people. We want a comfortable life, free of any pain, obstacles, and delays. If we could have life our way, everything would be predictable, efficient, and practical. But life in a fallen world is far from predictable, and we often have to wait.

The biggest reason we hate to wait is because we love ourselves. Waiting often strips us of something we want, and we respond with anger, irritation, depression, and so on. Like I said before, our waiting problem is always a heart problem before it's ever a fallen world problem.


You're not the only person who has had to wait. In fact, the entire Bible is a story of waiting. It's a major theme coursing through the Scriptures. Think about all the waiting that was done:

Abraham and Sarah waited 75 years for the birth of their promised son.
Israel waited 40 years to get into the Promised Land.
Israel waited (again) in Babylon for their return to rebuild the temple.
The Old Testament prophets waited for the coming of the Messiah.
Billions of Christians around the world now wait in anticipation for the Second Coming of Christ.

You see, everywhere in the Bible, God's children are waiting. You can't read Scripture and conclude that waiting is mistake. For some reason, God has ordained waiting as part of the plan.

What's The Point?
Why do we wait? Here's my thesis: "Waiting, by God's definition, is not an interruption of the plan; waiting is part of the plan."

I've found that there are 6 helpful words that you should associate with waiting:

1. Inescapable

Waiting is inescapable. This side of eternity, you'll never be able to escape waiting. Sure, for a moment, you might have some control over your circumstances, but by and large, God will call you to wait. Don't try to fight it - it's going to happen.

2. Mercy

Waiting is not a punishment; it's mercy. If God wasn't merciful, there would be no waiting. He would meet out His justice immediately and all of us would be condemned. Waiting is a sign of God's mercy (2 Peter 3:9), so be thankful instead of irritated.

3. Productive

Remember how I said yesterday that we hate to wait because it seems meaningless? Well, waiting is far from meaningless to the Lord - it's productive. Waiting is not about what you get at the end of the wait; it's about what you become as you wait.

In a word, this is sanctification. Sometimes I wish I was zapped into Heaven immediately following my conversion. But God has kept me here, waiting for His return. This is not a mistake; God has a productive purpose for my heart during the wait.

4. Active

God doesn't want you to be waiting with passive frustration; He wants you to actively seek the meaning of the wait. You might not find an immediate and direct answer, but you will find God (Jeremiah 29:13). If waiting is productive, and it is, God encourages you to be an active and joyful participant.

5. Good

Waiting means that something good is coming. The good things that result may seem invisible or a long way off, but God is good (Mark 10:18) and His plan is good (Jeremiah 29:11). You can wait with hope, even in pain, because you know that something good is coming.

6. Limited

One day, waiting will end (Revelation 21:4). Jesus will return and the ultimate purpose of waiting will be accomplished. You can rest today, even in a fallen world, because you know that waiting doesn't exist Forever.

How Are You Doing?

Ask yourself this question: "How are you doing in the middle of the wait?" Are you angry? Are you frustrated? Are you irritated? Are you discouraged?

God is calling you to wait because He is doing things in you, through you, and around you that are very good. He has not forgotten you; He calls you to wait precisely because He loves you.

Waiting is changing you and helping you to be a tool of change in others who are waiting too. Find joy in the wait.

Love is patient. (I Corinthians 13:4-NCV)

Love God *and yourself* and in the context of this message, your future husband enough...




Thursday, August 28, 2014

An Ounce of Prevention: 'The Benefits Of Getting Married Later In Life'

'Cause I know some women over 40 could use a "personal narrative hug"...

Here's a nice (S-C-A-P) piece on the benefits of---not just waiting to get married later in life but, more importantly, trusting in God and his timing. Which is never late (Ecclesiastes 3:11, Acts 1:7-Message):

There are advantages to waiting out your twenties and thirties. 

 "Marriage is more than finding the right person. It is being the right person." — Josh D. McDowell 

I used to wonder if I would ever find true love. When I was in college, I thought I'd be married by the time I was 25. When 27 rolled around, I thought I would get married in my early 30s. Then I thought I'd be married by the time I was 35 years old. In hindsight, it's easy to see why it took so long for "the one" to find me and me to find "the one." I wasn't being the person I needed to be in order to have the love I desired.

I focused on my career for so long, assuming that my love life would fall into place. When I was in my late 30s, I began to understand that having a successful love life required conscious effort and focus. This was the beginning of many firsts: focusing more on my love life than my professional life, understanding the unhealthy relationship patterns I was repeating, learning to love myself and accepting my self-worth.

When I reflect back on my life, I realize I wasn't meant to take the traditional path. Mine was more of a winding path with many forks in the road. Although it hasn't been as direct as many other people's paths, it's been just as rewarding.

I'm 46 and was married on June 8th, this past summer. One of the benefits of being an older bride is that with age comes a different perspective. I know if I had gotten married at a young age, I would have missed out on becoming my own person. Marrying at a later age has given me the benefit of knowing who I am and experiencing life as my own complete person.

If you've experienced many forks in the road, rest assured that these forks are for your greater good. Know that everything is working out in your best interest. Your difficult life and love lessons are opportunities to learn and grow from. Take the time to focus on your love life. Learn to love yourself and know your self-worth.

Keep walking your path and stay open to what the universe has in store for you. Remain hopeful — believe and know that you will have the love you desire. You'll find that love will be even better than you expected.

There is something to be said about being mature enough for such a mature relationship as marriage (Matthew 19:11-12-Message). Being older doesn't mean you won't be married. It can actually mean that you're simply more prepared for the responsibility of it. And that's a good thing.



Monday, August 25, 2014

An Ounce of Prevention: 'Why My Husband Doesn't Need Another Mom'

It's pretty simple: No healthy-sane-godly man wants to sleep with his mother. Therefore, don't act like you're her. Here's a great (S-C-A-P) article to illustrate just how that happens---far more often than it ever should:

“Shall I keep the tickets?” I ask my husband.

He looks at me like I’m a dog that won’t stop jumping up on him.

Okay, I get it, he’s got the tickets... but should I maybe keep the passports?
I open my mouth to ask him and then clamp it shut. I remind myself I’m not his mother, and my husband frequently flies on his own without my help, and he hasn’t lost a passport yet. I, on the other hand, have.

A few days before this airport exchange I read a tweet that said something along the lines of, “At the airport people-watching, amazed how many women think their partners need another mother.” My first reaction was to think, well isn’t my husband lucky he gets to fly with me? But standing in the airport listening to myself mother my husband I realized I am one of those women. I hang on to the passports because I think he will lose them. I spend my time saying things like, "Have you got the luggage?" and “I think we must eat now.” Instead of treating my husband like an adult, I treat him like someone who needs me to look after them.

Acting like my husband’s mother was something I never thought I’d struggle with. I decided at the airport to start treating my husband like the grown up he is, to be aware of my own behavior, and see in what other situations I’ve crossed the line between ‘mother’ and spouse.

These were some of the key warning signs for me:

*If my husband replied with, “Yes, mom” then I knew I’d probably been speaking down to him or demanding he do something my way.

*If I felt like my way was the right or only way and I wasn’t open to his thoughts on how something should be done.

*If I felt the need to take over a task my husband began because I thought I could do it better.

*If I found myself telling my husband what to do because I thought he wouldn’t remember on his own. Also known as nagging.

Identifying my mothering instincts was one thing; figuring out how to behave differently was another. The first thing I realized was the need for me to take responsibility for my own behavior. Ironically, I had been frustrated that he acted like a child without owning up to how my own immature behavior contributed. It is always easier to pray, “Lord, change him” but I realized I needed to start praying, “Lord, change me.”

My next step was to start trusting that my husband is competent. Instead of stepping in and trying to “fix” a project, I’m learning to stand back and watch him solve problems on his own. His way of approaching something often isn’t my way, but the end result is usually the same. It’s not that his way of doing things is the wrong way; it is just a different way.

I’m also learning that communicating is key in this area. Before, I would often intervene when I saw a different way of doing things. Now I’m trying instead to ask, “Could I help you try figure that out?” and to be respectful and back off if he says he has everything under control.

In all of this I’ve been watching my tone of voice. Is it harsh or demanding? Am I telling my husband what to do instead of asking him? I hate it when I hear the “you’re stupid” tone of voice creep in. I would feel disrespected if someone spoke to me like that. So why do I use it to communicate with the man I love? I haven’t figured out yet why I act this way, so I’m praying and asking God to show me where this desire to talk down to my husband stems from, and in the mean time I’m trying to hear myself when I speak and apologize quickly when I hear a nasty tone.

Finally, I’ve been working on better communicating my needs to my husband. If I need help with supper, I ask him if he can help. If I want the bed made in the mornings I tell him why it is important to me to come home to room that feels ordered. Just because I'm communicating more clearly doesn’t always mean that I get the results I want, but I’m learning that a kind request in my time of need has more effect than a frustrated complaint hours after the fact.

If you’re struggling with this, like I am, then Ephesians 4:21-24 might help:

“If you have heard Jesus and have been taught by him according to the truth that is in him, then you know to take off your former way of life, your crumpled old self—that dark blot of a soul corrupted by deceitful desire and lust—to take a fresh breath and to let God renew your attitude and spirit. Then you are ready to put on your new self, modeled after the very likeness of God: truthful, righteous, and holy.”

I love this passage because it reminds me that it is never too late to change my behavior, to take a deep breath and take on an entirely new way of living.

Ask any husband if this is something that *every woman should learn* before marriage and what he'll give you is a resounding "yes"! Better to learn this beforehand.




An Ounce of Prevention: '50 Conversations to Have Before You Get Married' (Part 1)

Extensive wise counsel (Proverbs 24:6) is *always* recommended before marriage...

Yet in seeing why it's so vital, here's a (S-C-A-P) list of 50 conversations to have with your significant other *before* marriage per a married individual. If it seems extensive, good. If you don't have the time to thoroughly prepare, you're not ready to get married. Simple as that.
I would like to preface this post by saying that this list started out very small, and grew very, very quickly. As it turns out, there are quite a few things that I think would be really helpful to talk about before you get married!

I began thinking of things that I wish my husband and I had talked with each other about before we got married. We dated for two and a half years before marrying, but most of these conversations were not on our radar until much later- usually when a problem arose, and we had to fix it. How many fights we could have saved ourselves if we had talked about these things ahead of time!

Not to say that we don't still fight- of course we do. I don't think you could ever live with another person without some sort of misunderstanding or miscommunication coming up from time to time. But now that we understand these basic things about each other, we aren't starting from ground zero every time we get into an argument. I'm happy that we have made that kind of progress in the short time we have been married; I hope to say, fifty years down the road, that we have made much, much more.

I encourage you to do a few things with this list.

First, go through each question and reflect on your own answers. It's tough to understand someone else if you do not understand yourself. If nothing else, these are just some good questions to help you have a deeper sense of self-awareness and understanding.

Second, take one or two questions to your girlfriend/boyfriend or fiancé(e) (or to your spouse- most of them are still awesome conversations to have after marriage). Spark up a conversation and see where it goes. Tell them that you want to understand them more and explain why, and see if you can expand your relationship. I don't recommend trying to talk about all fifty in one sitting. I love to talk about these things, and even I would find that tedious. :)

And third, be conscious of the vulnerability that a lot of these questions bring. Some of them might be a little too heavy to start off with. Some people aren't comfortable rattling off such sensitive details, even to their significant other. Be understanding if your partner isn't ready to open up quite yet, and encourage them to meet you there when he or she is ready.

I hope you find these conversations to be helpful in developing and deepening your relationship. :)

1. What are the most important/memorable parts of your childhood?

What are your first, favorite or most painful memories?  Things you remember most vividly? Times you don't like to remember?

[The more you know about your partner’s past, the more you can understand how he or she developed into the person you know today.]

2. How do you feel about your relationship with your mom?

Are you happy with it? What would you change about it? What do you love about it?

3. How do you feel about your relationship with your dad?

[Same as above- knowing how your partner relates to his or her parents is crucial to  empathizing and understanding him or her on a deeper level. It can help reveal some wounds or issues that may have come from either parent.]

4. How did your parents argue or fight?

Did they yell? Did they leave? Did they fight fair? Did they resolve it? Did they never let you see them fight?

[The way your partner’s parents fought can give you valuable insight into habits he or she may fall into when you fight.]

5. How did your parents raise you?

How connected did you feel to them? How were you disciplined? What kind of rules did your parents have? How strict were they? How do you feel about it now?

[Knowing how your partner was raised will give you an idea of how he or she might parent children someday- or possibly how he or she does not want to parent them.]

6. How do you want to parent your children? (if applicable)

Do you want to raise children like you were raised? What would you keep? What would you change?

[Not everyone has the same idea of how to parent a child; do your ideas coincide with your partner's? Can you compromise with your differences?]

7. What do you prioritize?

Work? God? Spouse? Kids? Other family? Write a list of your priorities and put them in order. What would win out against another? What is at the top of the list?

[Knowing your partner's priorities is very important. Do those priorities match up with yours?]

8. Do you want kids?

If yes, how many? How long do you want to wait? How sure are you that you do or do not want kids? 

[This is extremely important to know before you get married. Remember that you may not be able to change your spouses mind. Can you live with their decision? Can you compromise?]

9. What is your relationship history?

What previous relationships have you had? How serious were they? How intimate were you emotionally and physically? Why did they end? How do you feel about them now?

[You should be aware of whatever significant relationships happened in your partner's past so that you can better understand any underlying ideas, expectations or wounds he or she may bring into your relationship.]

10. What are your religious beliefs/views on spirituality?


What do you believe? How important are those beliefs to who you are? Do you believe the same things that I do?  Do you expect me to believe what you believe?

[Again, don’t assume that you will change your spouse. Can you live with their belief system?]

11. What are your important political views?

What issues are you passionate about? What issues are a trigger for you?

[While political issues may not be a big deal to some people, to others, they are very important. It's good to have the conversation and discuss any areas you may disagree on.]

12. What traditions do you value?

Social/cultural traditions? Religious traditions? Family traditions? Personal traditions? How important are they to you? Why? 

[Knowing what traditions your partner values will give you insight into what he or she will value. This may come up, for instance, when you plan to work on Christmas Eve, and your partner expected to spend it with you. Or it could come up when you want to sleep in on Sunday, and your partner expects to go to an early church service. These kinds of things are fixed earlier if you understand what the other person values and why.]

13. Where do you want to live? (or where won’t you live?)


Why or why not?

[It’s good to know, for instance, if you want to live abroad someday and your partner absolutely will not!]

14. What are your career plans?

What are your ambitions? Where do you want to go, eventually? How do you plan to get there?

[Do your partner's plans match up with your future plans?]

15. What are your long term goals?

Where do you see yourself 5 years in the future? 10? 20? What do you want to accomplish in life?

[Can you mesh your partner's plans with yours?]

16. How do you handle money?

Do you tend to spend it? Save it? Do you have any bad habits with it? Do you spend when you are emotional? Are you responsible? What is your history with money?

[The way your partner deals with money will be very important when he or she begins dealing with your money as a couple. If there are any problems, better to deal with them earlier than after the fact!]

17. Who has a lot of influence on you?

Your mom? Your best friend? Your sister? Who has the ability to change your mind? Who influences the way you think?

[It’s important to know who your partner listens to and respects; it's especially important to know what kind of advice your partner will be receiving from those people, as one day he or she may be going to them for advice about your marriage.]

18. What are your expectations of sex?

How often do you expect to have it? Who should initiate it? What if one of you doesn’t want to and the other does? 

[The more in depth you understand your partner’s expectation of sex, the better off your marriage- and your sex life- will be.]

19. What are your expectations of marital roles?

Who is responsible for what in the home? Who is responsible for what in your marriage? 

Who do you expect to fulfill certain relationship roles?

[Do those expectations match up with yours?]

20. What are your expectations of housework?

Who is expected to do what chores? Who takes out the trash? Who cooks dinner? Who cleans the toilets? Who does dishes? Who does laundry?

[This was a very important question a mentor of ours asked us before my husband and I got married. Don't underestimate the power of hidden expectations! Knowing your partner’s preconceived expectations of roles in housework will save you many misunderstandings and fights later on!]

21. What are your "non-negotiables" in marriage?

What is unacceptable, no matter what? What do you see as an "unforgivable" offense? 

What would be your response to it?

[It's crucial to know what things your partner will not tolerate in a relationship so that you can avoid problems before they happen.]

22. What are your views on divorce or separation?

Do you think it’s acceptable? In what situations?

[Talking about your expectations for the longevity of your marriage is also extremely important. If one partner thinks that divorce should never happen, and the other thinks that marriage should end if the love is gone, they are coming into the marriage with two entirely different expectations.]

23. What is your view on marriage counseling or couples' therapy?


Are you willing to go to it? Under what circumstances? Do you think it’s helpful? Who would you go to? 

[Even if your marriage never gets to a breaking point, you may find yourself in need of a third party to help you work through some relationship problems. Do you and your partner see eye-to-eye about how those issues should be addressed?]

24. What are your expectations of my relationships with others?

How often do you expect me to see my friends? How close do you expect me to be with friends of the opposite sex? How much information about our relationship do you expect me to divulge to others? What are your limits on my emotional or physical closeness with others?

[Whether it's with your coworkers, friends or family members, your partner will have some ideas of how close you should be to the people around you. It's important to discuss what his or her expectations are, and to assess if you are willing to respect those wishes.]

25. How do you tend to try to hurt others when you feel hurt?


[When we feel cornered, we tend to aim to hurt others in the way that we would be most hurt by. Those who are most hurt by harsh criticism will be highly critical of others. Those who are most hurt by abandonment will try to make others feel abandoned. Those who are most threatened by being controlled will become very controlling. It's helpful to know what your partner's tendency is in this area so that you can recognize it when it arises, thus giving you more understanding into their mindset and giving you the opportunity to address their hurt. This is a habit your partner may not recognize in themselves offhand; you might find this out by observation, later.]

Part 2 to follow...



An Ounce of Prevention: '50 Conversations to Have Before You Get Married' (Part 2)

And here's Part 2...

25. How do you tend to try to hurt others when you feel hurt?

[When we feel cornered, we tend to aim to hurt others in the way that we would be most hurt by. Those who are most hurt by harsh criticism will be highly critical of others. Those who are most hurt by abandonment will try to make others feel abandoned. Those who are most threatened by being controlled will become very controlling. It's helpful to know what your partner's tendency is in this area so that you can recognize it when it arises, thus giving you more understanding into their mindset and giving you the opportunity to address their hurt. This is a habit your partner may not recognize in themselves offhand; you might find this out by observation, later.] 

26. How do you deal with boundaries?

Do you have trouble saying “no” to certain (or all) people? Are you passive aggressive instead of direct? How do you react when people try to control you? Do you try to control others? Do you manipulate others? Do you let others say “no” to you without guilt or intimidation?

[Whether your partner lets others cross his or her boundaries, or he or she crosses others' boundaries, you should be aware of how they relate to boundaries in general. The boundaries they set for others and accept from others will give you a look at how they will set and accept them in your relationship. Again, this may something your partner is unaware of, unless they have already reflected on it.]

27. What do you admire in other people?

What traits do you respect? What do you think are good traits to have?

[The things we admire in others shed light on our values. If you admire honesty in someone, it's likely that you aim to have integrity in your own life. Likewise, if you admire less-than-desireable traits (such as respecting a person for "telling someone off"), it raises a red flag on values that may be misplaced.]

28. What can you not tolerate in other people?

What bothers you about people? What puts you past your limit? What do you think are bad traits to have?

[Just as it's important to know what your partner admires, it's also important to know what traits he or she disapproves of, so that you can again see where their values lie.]

29. How do you relate with people I care about?

Do you like them? Can you get along with them? What do you think about them?

[If your partner has issues getting along with people whose opinion you highly value, you must decide whether you value your relationship with your partner or the other person more; because there will likely be a time where you may have to choose between them. Are you willing to choose your partner?]

30. How do you react when other people are hurting?

Do you naturally notice it? Does it scare you? Does it make you uncomfortable? Do you feel hurt to see them hurting? Do you jump to help them?

[Knowing how your partner responds to others' pain will give you insight into how he or she will respond when you are in pain.]

31. How do you respond to stress?

Do you become angry? Perfectionistic? Withdrawn? Impulsive? Critical? Irresponsible? 

What kinds of things do you do or say? 

[It's important to be able to recognize when your partner is acting under stress, so that you can be helpful and not hurtful to them.]

32. How do you respond to conflict?

Do you like to argue? Does it bother you? Are you willing to face conflict? Do you avoid it? 

Does it intimidate you? Do you fight fair? Do you yell? Do you intimidate? Do you withdraw?

[Knowing how your partner fights will be very important as you navigate arguments and disagreements throughout your relationship. If there are inherent issues with how he or she deals with conflict, it is much better to work with them ahead of time, rather than waiting until the problem arises.]

33. How do you respond to grief?

Do you cry? Do you need to be alone? Do you need to talk about it? Do you become angry? 

Are you hard to talk to? Do you open up about how you feel? Do you let yourself feel negative emotions? What do you do to make yourself cope?

[Unfortunately, every relationship is bound to cross a bridge where one or both of you will face tragedy of some sort. It's important to know how your partner will respond in these situations so that you can anticipate the reaction and be able to work with it.]

34. What helps you de-stress?

What do you do when you need to blow off steam? What activities help you feel better? 

What gives you relief from stress?

[There will be times where your partner needs to calm down and do something to relieve tension. Knowing what helps your partner can not only give you more understanding into the things he or she will do at these times, but can also give you the opportunity to be helpful if need be.]

35. What makes you feel loved by others?


What things do people do that make you feel most appreciated or loved? What is the most loving thing someone has ever done for you? How do you know someone cares about you?

[Understanding your partner's "love language" will not only help you to keep your connection strong and help them feel loved, but it will also help you solve problems down the road when you may not be "speaking their language."] 

36. How do you show others love?

When you want someone to feel loved, how do you show them? What meaningful things do you do to convey your feelings for others?

[Usually we show love in the same way we receive it, but sometimes it can differ a little. Keep in mind how your partner shows love; someday, when you are feeling neglected, remember to look for the ways that he or she shows love- not just the ways you naturally receive it.] 

37. How do you learn things best?

What is the quickest or best way for you to learn something? Do you need to talk it through? Hear it out loud? Try it yourself? 

[Understanding how your partner learns best can help immensely when you are trying to work together on something.]

38.What makes an apology feel genuine to you?

How do you know when someone is really sorry? Do they need to be regretful? Do they need to say they were wrong? Do they need to do something to make it better? What makes you feel like the issue is put to rest?

[It’s really important to know your partner’s “apology language.” People value different things in apologies; so you may apologize to your partner genuinely, but if it lacks what he or she values in an apology, he or she may think you are insincere. Understanding your differences in this area will help you to resolve and avoid many fights in the future!] 

39. How do you see yourself?

What is your “identity?” How would you describe yourself, in a nutshell? What is your personality like? What do you think about your appearance?

[Does your partner's idea of who they are match up with how you see them? Why or why not?]

40. What do you dislike most about yourself?

What traits do you wish you didn’t have? What traits do you try to get rid of? Physical traits? Personality traits? 

[Understanding what your partner dislikes in themselves can give you a heads-up for sensitive areas you should know about. You may not agree with the things they dislike, but it will help you understand how they feel about themselves.]

41. What do you most value in yourself?

What traits are you proud of? Physical traits? Personality traits?

[Just as it's important to know what your partner dislikes about themselves, it's also important to know what they like about themselves. These are the things they will likely value most and will keep around.]

42. What emotionally recharges you?

When you are mentally exhausted, what gives you energy again? Brainstorming new ideas? Making lists? Going to coffee with a friend? Doing something physical? What makes you feel like “yourself” again?

[It's so helpful to know how to help your partner recharge- especially if their way of recharging does not match up with yours]

43. What emotionally drains you?


What wears you out fastest? Social events? Too many plans? Dealing with someone else’s emotions? Being alone for too long?

[If you know what will drain your partner, you can be sensitive to those situations and anticipate them needing some time to recharge afterwards.]

44. Are you more comfortable sticking to structure or leaving room for plans to change?

Do you like predictability or spontaneity? What makes you feel more at ease? What makes you feel frustrated?

[If your partner's answer is different than yours, understand that you will need to compromise at times to be sure that both of your needs are met.]

45. Does it come more naturally to you to make decisions based off of what is fair and logical or based off of what you feel?

Do you find yourself thinking in terms of logic or feelings? Do you tend to be more of a “thinker” or a “feeler”? 

[So many misunderstandings in communication root out of a basic difference in how we make decisions! If your answer differs from your partners, understand that there will be times that you will not see eye to eye about how things should be done. Mutual respect and lots of patience and communication will be necessary to get things done in these situations.]

46. What triggers your anger?

[It’s good to know where these emotional bombs lie, so you can avoid them when you should, and approach them sensitively if you need to.]

47. What embarrasses you?


[Sometimes people are embarrassed by things that we never would guess. In order to avoid humiliating your partner unintentionally, it’s important to know what kinds of things embarrass them.]

48. What are your biggest temptations?

What do you struggle with most? What do you have a hard time saying “no” to? Are you able to say no? What do you do to deal with the temptation?

[Understanding where your partner is weak is crucial to helping support them. Knowing what they struggle with can also shed light on areas where you may not have seen a problem before.]

49. What is your deepest desire?

[Every person has something that they deeply need. Some desire to be good and have integrity, others to be loved and needed. Some desire to be unique and true to themselves, others to be valuable and successful. Some need to feel secure, others to be happy, others to be competent. Some desire to protect themselves, and some to find inner peace. What is the thing that your partner searches for above all else? This will give you a very important insight into his or her motivations, feelings and actions. This is a very deep and vulnerable thing to ask someone, and it is something that not everyone will have an understanding of. Don’t expect your partner to know right away, but aim to understand it if you can.] 

50. What is your deepest fear?

[Just as everyone desires something, everyone fears something too. What fear is most terrifying to you? Do you fear that something is wrong with you or that you lack inherent value? Do you fear that you are unworthy of love? Do you fear that you do not have an identity or that you are incompetent? Do you fear being trapped in pain? Losing support? Losing connection? Do you fear being controlled? Like the previous question, this is very sensitive ground to tread on and should be treated as such. Be respectful if your partner is not able or willing to reveal such a vulnerable part of his or herself to you yet, but encourage them to share it with you when they are ready! This is something that will help your relationship grow so deeply, if you are willing to be understanding of the other’s fears. When we know what people fear, we know why they act the way they do. We can understand them and empathize with them on a much deeper level, and our relationship becomes much stronger.] 

You can't cover all of this ground in a few weeks.

What was it that Mariah Carey once sang? *Love takes time*, right? Right!

Married couples should be friends and in order to be friends, you need to really *know* each other. Hopefully this list will assist you in getting to know your significant other a little better.



Friday, August 22, 2014

An Ounce of Prevention: 'A Parable (in TV Form) About Why You Should Wait for Marriage'

"There’s more to sex than mere skin on skin. Sex is as much spiritual mystery as physical fact. As written in Scripture, 'The two become one.' Since we want to become spiritually one with the Master, we must not pursue the kind of sex that avoids commitment and intimacy, leaving us more lonely than ever—the kind of sex that can never “become one.” There is a sense in which sexual sins are different from all others. In sexual sin we violate the sacredness of our own bodies, these bodies that were made for God-given and God-modeled love, for 'becoming one' with another. Or didn’t you realize that your body is a sacred place, the place of the Holy Spirit? Don’t you see that you can’t live however you please, squandering what God paid such a high price for? The physical part of you is not some piece of property belonging to the spiritual part of you. God owns the whole works. So let people see God in and through your body."---I Corinthians 6:16-20(Message)

Over the course of my life...

I have met women who have slept with the same guys I have.
I have befriended women who have married guys I've had sex with.
I have walked into rooms and shared the space with more-than-one guy I've slept with.
I have slept with guys who know one another.
I have even slept with cousins before. (Not at the same time but...still.)

And you know what? All of these instances remind me of one of the billions of reasons why sex before marriage is *so not a good idea*. It can make things awkward at best and devastating at worst.

That's what I appreciate about this episode of Girlfriends. It is a "parable version" (Matthew 13:13) of what fornication can do to affect intimacy and trust and so much more.

It ends up all good on here because it's a television show. However, trust me when I say that I sit with couples in the real world where things aren't quite so...rosy.

Just another head's up to wait for your husband. It's best.



"On Fire": When God Puts a DEAD END SIGN on Your Relationship


I got an unexpected phone call. It wasn't the person that made it unexpected; it was the information that they had to share. After asking me if I had watched the news earlier that day, they sent me a news link. It was about a huge crime situation that broke and as I read on, I saw one of my exes names in it.

A few things crossed my mind.

One was that he could be looking at spending the rest of his days locked up. And while it's easy to assume that all people who do criminal activity are "bad people", a lot of them simply were not shown other options. There's a reason why God has a formula: Have a relationship with him. Don't have sex outside of marriage. Marry a disciple (John 8:31-32). *Then* have children (Malachi 2:15). There are a lot of people who's parents didn't follow this plan and as a result, it made things harder for them. My ex? I've known him, off and on, or many ways. He's brilliant---and broken. Brokenness presents itself in so many ways.

Another thing I thought about was the fact that when I dated him, he was in a less-than-level of what his life has apparently now become. And so, I had no business being in a relationship with someone like that. *Some people, we meet to witness to; not be in a relationship with*. No matter how fine or sweet or much we want it to be about something else.

Still another thought was that in spite of knowing all of this, for many years, I still held on to the dream that he would get himself together and someday we would we work out. And so when we reconnected several years ago, there was a part of me that was upset with God and him when my ex was like "I'm always going to love you. We don't need to be together though."

Yes, all of this ran through my mind as I read the story...and looked at his mug shot. Many years ago, I penned a devotional entitled "There's a Blessin' in Rejection" and as I told a girlfriend of mine last night, "I was so busy being upset with God in 2005 and he was like 'Girl, you're going to thank me in 2014.'" Indeed, we have to keep in mind that God's "yes-es" are meant to last---*and so are his "nos"*.

In other words...

When God says "Let him go."


"He's not the one for you."


"Your relationship is compromising and toxic."


"Why are you doing the very things I told you not to do in your relationship?'


"Move on, I have something better."

He's not just taking into account what is going on in the present. Remember, Revelation 21:8 tells us that God *is* the beginning and the end. Therefore, God's right here with you as you're reading this blog yet at the same time, he's 1, 5 and 25 years into your future simultaneously. And so, all of what he's telling you now, even when you don't like it, even when you can't see why he's saying it, he's looking ahead and basically saying "Trust me, you'll be glad that you listened."

Yeah, after reading that news story, I can certainly vouch for that.

I'm going to pray for my ex and his family---one that includes children. I still stand on the fact that the core of him is good. Hurting people do hurting things.

However, at the same time, I'm going to praise God that he didn't allow Psalm 106:15 to manifest in my life. He didn't "give me what I wanted while bringing leanness to my soul". This time, thanks to him and my ex, the answer was a firm "no". And it's a blessing.

Indeed, when we're coasting down Lover's Lane and God puts up a dead-end sign, we need to stop trying to forge (or is it force?) a path. We need to accept it for what it is, reroute and move on.

On that note, I read an article this morning entitled "6 Signs He May Never Propose". I'm sharing it in conjunction with my narrative---eh hem, testimony (I Timothy 4:14-16-AMP)---because since this is a blog about preparing for marital covenant and signs of being in a dead-end relationship can present itself in so many different ways, I believe this might provide some soul food for thought. Read it. Do some praying. Seek some wise counsel (Proverbs 24:6). Be honest with yourself. Heed the signs. HEED. THE. SIGNS:

So you've been in a relationship for a while and are more than ready to walk down the aisle but does he feel the same way? You may be in a great relationship but what's the point if it's not going anywhere? If you have your doubts, these signs he may never propose, will come in handy. There's nothing worse than being in a dead end relationship where you're in it for the long haul but where he may never propose. If you have been noticing these signs he may never propose, maybe it's time for serious action!

1. Negative Thoughts about Marriage. While you may be the sorts who has always been dreaming about a dazzling rock on your finger, the most romantic marriage proposal, the perfect wedding dress and happily ever after, he may detest the very idea of marriage. Does he hate going to weddings? Does he often talk about marriage as the "end" of a guy's life and wonder out loud why people even get hitched? Maybe he doesn't believe in the institution of marriage, maybe he's just commitment phobic or maybe he believes that all marriages are meant to fail. Either way, if the two of you are on opposite ends when it comes to the very idea of marriage, chances are you may never get him to change his mind.

2. He Plays Hot and Cold. Some days he's extra attentive and romantic, buying you flowers and taking you out on lovely dates, while on other days he's just a jerk and won't call you for days on end without a reason. If he's inconsistent in the relationship, it's probably because he's indecisive and doesn't know what he wants from you. And until he figures out what he wants, chances are he's not going to propose.

3. You're Not Close to His Friends and/or Family. An important sign he will never propose is if he doesn't make an effort to integrate you with his friends and family. Sure, you've met them a couple of times on a couple of occasions, but if he sees you as his potential wife, he will make sure that they know you as more than some girl he's dating. He will ensure that you're as much a part of their lives as he is, if not more.

4. You Only Have Short Term Plans. When it comes to making plans for next weekend, he's all in and excited but talk about going away on vacation together next year and he chokes up and mutters something like "We'll talk when the time comes". If he sees you as a part of his future, he'd have no qualms making plans or at least considering them and that's that. If he can't commit to a long term plan, he's probably not in it for the long haul.

5. Avoids Talking about the Future. Nothing says "sign he may never propose" like avoiding talks about the future. Does he shy away from conversations about long term commitment? Do you end up fighting every time you talk about the future or kids? Does he freak out when you bring up the "M" word? Does he always change the subject when it comes to your future with him? If he won't even discuss it, how is he ever going to pop the question?

6. All Talk, No Action. Maybe the two of you have had a serious discussion about marriage a while back, where you told him how you felt and he seemed very eager to take things forward but that's it... nothing has happened since. There has been no house hunting, no ring shopping, no proposal signs, no hint whatsoever and when you bring it up, all you get are excuses and more excuses. Unless these seem like legitimate reasons, chances are he's just buying time, till he's cornered into absolutely having to make a decision.

Dead-end signs can be painful. And helpful. Life-saving, in fact.

Watch out for them.



Tuesday, August 19, 2014

An Ounce of Prevention: 'These Are What a Groom in Love Looks Like"

While reading an article on Huffington Post tonight...

I "happened upon" (Proverbs 16:33-AMP) some pictures of grooms on their wedding day. They say a picture is worth a thousand and some of these are...let's say "standard setting". Don't settle for a man who cannot look at you or act like this:

And this...

And this...

And this...

And this...

And this...

And this...

And this...

And this...

And this...

And this...

And this...

And this...

And this...

And this...

And this...

 Ooh...and this.

Sweet. Vulnerable. Priceless.