Category Archives: relationships

Because Everyone Loves Marriage Advice, Right?

Because Everyone Loves Marriage Advice, Right?
Because Everyone Loves Marriage Advice, Right?

Two of my sons got married recently… three and a half months apart. Barely time for this mama’s head to stop spinning! Our family has added 2 new daughters as well as 3 new grandchildren and 1 on the way!I do

My boys married very well. Both brides are from years past, and have grown up, drifted apart and reconnected with our family. Both women bring out the absolute best in my sons, and I can see the love they have for each other, as it is as obvious as the grey in my hair! (even with Loreal it’s pretty obvious)

marry meI will admit that this has all been a little overwhelming – in an amazing, fabulous, OH MY GOSH kind of way. To me, getting married is the biggest deal next to accepting Christ as your Savior.  So choosing a life partner has been the focus of many prayers for them, and my prayers have been answered.

So, why write a post about it? A common theme at weddings and showers that I’ve attended, is to offer some marriage advice… Ya know, write it down on a piece ofdate night and advice paper and put it in the jar… or a date night idea. I’m not as good with the creative date night stuff, but advice? I’ve got plenty of that after a couple of failed marriages, years of counseling and a pretty AH-Mazing marriage for the past 18 years. I was also thinking, if I did it in my blog, then I won’t seem like a meddling mother-in-law either… right?

So here’s my top 10 list of advice I would offer any married couple;

1. Never go to bed mad, or in a argument. Agree to disagree if you must, but always kiss good night. (Eph 4:26)
2. Love covers a multitude of sins – it’s a verse for a reason. Remember that you chose and love each other first. Love is verb. (1 Peter 4:8)
3. Your spouse isn’t supposed to complete you, no matter what the movies say. Only Christ gets that job. The sooner you stop putting that expectation on each other, the sooner you can get on to really appreciating what you each bring to the marriage. (Col 2:10)
4. Assuming all of your past relationships have failed, then your experiences haven’t been successful… so remember that. Neither one of you is perfect, or really even know how to have a good marriage. Accepting that in yourself and in your spouse will alleviate some unmet exceptions and keep you humble. You are both on the learning curve – together.
5. Accepting #4 should naturally bring you both to a place of learning – God’s Word says a lot about marriage! Study it together. Look to seemingly happy marriages around you – ask for help – ask for advice. Go to counseling if you feel lost. Just try. There’s no shame in that game! (as my man says, “Never Give Up!”)
6. Even though you are still individuals, you are now joined together. The marriage is a life of it’s own, with 100% of each of you. Dying to self for the marriage covenant is where you really live out the “love is verb” thing. Treat it as the sacred gift that it is.
7. Get in community that’s doing life where you are – and more importantly, where you want to be. If you want a godly marriage, get in a group of people that are working on that same goal.
8. Your spouse should come second only to God. Your marriage should come before your kids. They will grow up and leave, and cleave, and you will be left with each other. If you don’t invest and keep your relationship at the helm, the empty nest will be a very lonely place. Plus, a happy marriage is the best place for nurturing your children.
9. Date! Even if it’s just a walk around the block. Connect weekly if you can’t daily! Have a party and set out a jar and little pieces of paper and ask folks to give you ideas if you’re lost… or just google some great ideas… Whatever you do, just do it!
10. Pray. Pray together even when you’re tired. Pray when you start and end your day, and especially if you’re mad at each other. It’s really hard to hold onto your anger when you are holding on to each other at the throne of God.

wedding funSo, that’s my top 10. There’s many more I could list, but these are the ones that have come to mind for a short post… These are the things that I pray for my children’s marriages. If you would like more advice, feel free to ask. I’m practicing being quiet unless asked these days. I’m a mother-in-law after all. Really.

What would you add to this list?

A Letter to the 22 year old me.

A Letter to the 22 year old me.

I wrote this a few years back, and while revisiting it this morning, I tried to think of what I would add… I have a 22 year old daughter right now, so it makes it even more of a reality than just a post of reflection.  I think I will add just a couple; 🙂

 

I’ve seen some blog posts lately that were the letters from the authors to themselves at a much younger age… The, “if I knew then, what I know now” wisdom posts.  So, to be a “follower”, and to impart some learned lessons, I thought I would have a go at it too…

At this ripe old age of 44, I can look back at myself at 22, and see a completely different person.  I’m actually amazed at the work God has done in my life thus far! If I could write a letter to myself at 22, I would say;

Dear Jennifer;

I know you feel like you have the world on your shoulders, and you can handle it.  I know that you think perfection is expected in this life of ours, and I see how you strive for it in almost everything you do. You worry too much, and care too much about things that aren’t going to last…  You clean too much, and expect too much from everyone around you.  The time spent trying to earn approval and love is in vain my friend.  So, to save you a few wrinkles, and a couple of prescriptions, I have some advice…

God loves you. Period.  He created you, and cares for you like no other.  He really is all you need – I know that sounds silly, but when you spend time with Him, you will see… All peace, comfort and joy – as well as acceptance, can be found in Him… So, open that Bible more, and get on those knees… heck, start talking to Him all the time!  HE hears you all the time and He cares… Don’t be too shocked when He answers you either – expect it.

Humans were never meant to be “your everything”… No man, woman, friend, parent or even your children were designed to fulfill you completely.  The only person that will complete you is Jesus Christ.  The sooner you grasp that, the easier the let downs and heart breaks will be.  No one is perfect, and don’t expect them to be.

Marriage isn’t about warm fuzzies and romance all the time.  It’s about commitment. It’s about remembering that the word love is a verb, not a feeling.  Your marriage can be more than warm fuzzies and romance, if you have Christ in the middle of it.  Seriously.  When you can pray with and for your spouse, it takes the marriage to a new level.  When you share the spiritual, as well as everything else – everything rocks…  When conflicts arise – and they will – take it to Christ – It’s pretty difficult to harbour resentment and anger when you hold hands before the Lord together… Really.

The Bible is relevant! Anything and everything is in there!  It really has instructions for life, from the Creator of life!  Don’t ever think you know more than the one who created you… His ways may seem restrictive sometimes, but it’s really for your own protection! You’re greatest blessings will come out of obedience… I promise.

The grass is never greener.  Just water yours and plant some flowers… Then yours will not only be greener, but it will be prettier and smell good too.

Pets are a full time commitment.  Dogs are even a bigger one…if you can’t feed them well, afford the vet or have time to walk them, don’t get one… It’s not fair to them or to you.

Don’t wait till you can afford kids to have kids.  That will NEVER happen.  When you finally have the kids, your priorities will change, and you will be amazed at how you will spend your money.

Enjoy your children when they are little! Don’t rush the walking and talking thing!  (Potty training – you can rush) Don’t hurry your babies through, and wish for them to grow up fast… I know it’s hard in the middle of the night, but try to relax and just ENJOY it.  This all will be gone in a flash – and parenting young adults is WAY harder…

You really don’t know it all.  I promise, you will be embarrassed when you get older and see how much you really didn’t know, but thought you did… Really.

Don’t drink too much.  It’s really a waste of good money and brain cells.  It doesn’t make you cooler or more popular, and it can be pretty dangerous for you, and for others.  Money is better spent on clothes, books, coffee… missions…

Life is short and no one makes it out alive … Try to think ETERNALLY.  What kind of legacy are you going to leave behind? Stop thinking you have plenty of time to do those “grown up” things… NO one is promised tomorrow.

Cherish Every Day.  Every single morning is new shot. A do over. A brand new shiny opportunity to try again.  Actually, every minute is new too.  We never get one back – time is the one fleeting thing that can’t be bought, borrowed or stored.  You have been giving this minute right now…

Everything matters.  People matter most – more than jobs, houses, entertainment, technology, sports and even shoes… When the stranger in the coffee isle starts telling you her life story, listen, because she matters.

Self control, patience and humbleness are a few of the greatest qualities you can have, so strive for those… It will bless your life, and be a blessing to others.

Wear sun block.  Just do it. Trust me.

Communication.  This is the key to all relationships. Knowing when to be quiet, or share the truth… Don’t assume someone knows your intent.  They rarely ever do, even those closest to you.  Be clear or be quiet – always.  This issue has never been more prominent than in this age of texting.  A text message doesn’t convey emotion, no matter how may emoji’s you use.

Date Intentionally.  Whether it’s intentional for marriage or for just friendship… those are the only 2 acceptable reasons.  Know someone’s spiritual identity, friends, family, temperament and goals before you even kiss… saves you from kissing too many Mr. Wrongs.  Sounds near impossible in todays culture right? Well, you were made to stand out, not blend in…

Last, but not least, Pray. Pray as often as you can.  The more comfortable you are talking to God, the easier it will be for you to hear Him answer you.

Growing up isn’t that bad.  You’re going to like it. Really.

 

What would say to the 22 year old you?

 

 

 

 

Friends

Friends

I’ve been thinking about my friends lately, and how blessed I am to have them.  I then began to ponder each relationship I have, and I gleaned a new appreciation for the diversity and intensity of the cast of characters I call friends.

I think many of us have close friends and the rest fall in the category of “friend”, just at varying levels.  Then we have the “just Facebook” friends and acquaintances.  I do consider most of my Facebook friends, friends though.  I’ve tried to stay away from the acquaintances on Facebook, but there are a few…There’s only a small group of folks that I haven’t really communicated with in decades, but have fond memories of from my youth.  It is interesting to see how they grew up.  Some of those old friends still look the same, and some I wouldn’t know if I walked into them at the mall.  Either way, I am glad to have reconnected.

My “friends”, are those that I really do enjoy, but I don’t get to see very often.  I think about them every now and then, and will offer up a prayer on their behalf .  They are on my Facebook and I may actually comment on their posts… I always realize how much I miss them when I do get to see them.

I spend most time with my close friends.  I have a group of ladies, that are not all friends with each other, but all mean the world to me. They are a very diverse group, which is kinda funny to me when I think about it.  My girls range between 3 decades in ages, they are all different shapes and sizes and occupations.  Some are married, and some are single.  Most of my BFF’s have kids, but not exclusively.  I have friends that pray for me, and with me, and some that just send me good vibes and happy thoughts.  I even have friends that are on both sides of the political fence and we can always meet in the middle and agree to disagree without hard feelings. Really.

Several years ago, I heard a pastor say to look around at your friends.  If they are all exactly like you, there is a problem.  If we are truly trying to be like Christ, we should have friends that cover a broad range of life.  At the time, all of my close confidents, could have been my twin.  Now, I can truly testify to the blessings that abound in diversity in friendships.  I have been challenged, and confronted.  I have been forced to step outside of my comfort zone at times, and truly see people from the inside out.  I have had the opportunity to share my faith, and pray for them and I have given them lots of opportunities to pray for me!  I have served in love and have been served in love. I have even changed my mind on more than one occasion and I have definitely grown more as a person because of my friends.

My husband is my best friend, (really) but after him, the Lord has brought some fabulous women into my life. Women need girlfriends and my friends rock.

How about you? Have you told your friends how much you appreciate them lately?

Serious Sunday…Accountability

Serious Sunday…Accountability

I’ve been thinking about accountability a lot lately.  I’ve been thinking that it’s probably something most people don’t think that much about, but it’s something everyone needs.

When you’re growing up, you have your parents, who, in their best efforts, keep you accountable.  Then, throughout life, we have teachers, coaches, employers and maybe even co-workers that will hold us accountable, at least to the responsibilities we hold in their presence.  If we marry, we have our spouse to hold us accountable, and that’s always fun… So fun, that many marriages end in divorce.

Any recovery or improvement program worth its weight, has an accountability plan.  Everyone knows that to overcome something, you have to have someone you trust, that you can be completely transparent with.  Someone who knows your weaknesses and will speak truth to you, even when you don’t want to hear it.  Better yet, someone who will commit to pray for you.

So, why don’t more people have accountability partners?  I think it’s because most of us don’t like to admit that we have issues.  Fear and pride are pretty big obstacles.  It’s hard to tell someone that you over eat, and the reasons why, or that you look forward to a glass a wine too much, or you loose your temper on your kids, or you like your computer screen more than your spouse.  It’s the same reasons most folks think they don’t need a Savior.  It’s the ultimate deception.

If you are serious about your personal growth and justification, you need to get transparent with someone.  We were created for relationship, and that includes accountability.  It’s not always fun, but it’s real…and worth it.

If you think you don’t have any reason for an accountability relationship, you’re in denial. Really.

Tough Tuesday…Dating

Tough Tuesday…Dating

Yep. I said it, and I’m pulling out my soapbox to blog about it… Don’t say I didn’t warn you…

I have this dating thing on my mind because it is a hot topic around my house, and has been for some time. With 4 kids, aging from puberty to adult, we have had many conversations on this topic, as well as survived all kinds of situations, either personally, or through close friends…

I dated a lot in my day… I never really saw anything wrong with it either, until I really started noticing how many broken families and broken hearts there are in this world. The stats for divorce, unwanted pregnancies, and STD’s are staggering, and could be blog postings on their own…It’s hard to NOT notice how much the sexual revolution has progressed. Dating has changed, and it’s not for the better…The almighty “me” is reigning and it’s leaving devastation in it’s wake.

What is dating anyway? Webster says, An engagement to go out socially with another person, often out of romantic interest. Most folks would agree with that, although, the definition of “interest” can be defined many different ways. It used to mean that you would be looking towards a possible marriage partner, but most of the dating today doesn’t seem to have that goal in mind. It’s become more and more about satisfying our own lusts and desires, without the thought of consequences or the future.

Our society has lowered the bar to the acceptable dating age, and many parents seem to be OK with it.. Some parents even think it’s harmless and cute. Some can argue that it helps kids in deciding what type of person they like, and, that they need to experience those differences to be well rounded. Quite frankly, I think that is ridiculous. A child in middle school, or younger, does not know what kind of spouse they want. They don’t even know what kind of person they are going to be! Jumping from relationship to relationship is not going to help them figure any of that out.

So what do kids learn from dating? All this “practice” teaches them that people are replaceable. If things get hard, it’s time to quit. If something better comes along, well, it’s time to move on. It’s all about how “I” feel. If I’m not satisfied, then it’s over. How many little pieces of a heart can be passed out before all that’s left is so incomplete that it doesn’t work right anymore. By the time they do get married, they have already learned how to walk away. Broken hearts are the norm, almost a “right of passage”, not the exception. Where is the training in unconditional love and commitments, or better yet, covenants?

As a family with Christian values, I have told my kids time and again, that if God is sovereign over everything, that includes your future spouse. You do not need to “try” out relationships with several different people to see if they are the one. You need to be praying for your future spouse now, and have faith that God will bring you together at the perfect time, and you will know it. Of course, our kids haven’t always listened to us.  The world is constantly screaming just the opposite, through music, television, and the movies. Even Disney thinks kids should be focused on relationships… Poor Zack and Cody were even scripted in elementary school to chase girls.

Teach your kids to just be friends. Teach them to pray for their futures and to seek God’s will for their lives. When those hormones rear their ugly heads, affirm them, and help them take control of it… and not let those hormones take control of them. Communicate.  Healthy relations start with God, then families, and friends. Romance will then have a runway that’s paved accurately.

If you are a parent that has encouraged young dating, STOP IT. Culture is wrong on this one. Look around and see what this out of control sexual desire has gotten us. It all starts somewhere. (1 Thes 4:3-5)

If your kids are older, and are already out in the dating world, or, if you yourself are in it, let me offer some advice. One of the things we had our kids do as they got older, was to prayerfully make a list of the qualities they would want in a spouse. We then told them to strive to BE the person, that person would desire as well… Anyone who fell short to that list, should simply remain a “friend”. God will not only satisfy your list, but he will bless you with someone who has qualities you never even thought of…

The hardest part is waiting. Patience in the world of relationships is almost unheard of. But think about this, it only takes a minute to recall your heartbreaks, no matter how long ago they were. Don’t we want better for our kids? Who they marry is one of the most important decisions they will make in their life.  Shouldn’t we be preparing them for it?  Be pro-active and teach self control. It will be worth it.

If your reading this, and your heart is still in pieces, and you feel you don’t have much left to give, don’t give up! God is a full restorer of hearts. It’s His speciality. Give it all to Him and let your healing begin… (2 Cor.5:17)

There are many resources available for your kids and for you on this topic. One of my favorites is, Love, Sex and Lasting Relationships, by Chip Ingram. You can find this at www.livingontheedge.org