From Spectator to Participant – Tips to Grow Your Marriage with Hubby

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How would you rate the health of your marriage? Now check with your husband for his perspective.  My husband’s cup is always overflowing and mine tends to be half full.  Today I’m continuing with the series Life is too valuable to merely be a spectator, shape up and become a participant. We’re looking at the H in SHAPE.

 

Husband – Growing in the Relationship with your Husband.

  • Keep romance alive – Couples should not just date to get married rather they should get married to date. Make dating each other a priority.  Do you want to know WHY?   Never stop having fun together.
  • Communicate Daily – Set aside a daily time to talk so as not to become isolated. Communication means both talking and active listening.  Listen with the intent to understand and not just to reply. When our girls were young, Jon would call to let me know he was headed home which was a “cue” to get the girls settled so we can have time to catch up.  The girls and I would pick up toys and find a video to watch or books to read.  They excitedly would run out to greet daddy and then would watch a 30-minute video so Jon and I could catch up face to face.  We would also call or email each other during the day. Even when Jon travels, which was over 100 days last year, we will talk daily. Are you struggling with good communication? Last night I watched a brilliant Ted Talk 10 ways to have a better conversation.
  • Ladies, respect your husband as our love is not enough – Men would rather be alone and unloved than feel inadequate and disrespected according to research by Shaunti Feldhahn in For Women Only.  Emerson Eggerichs wrote Love & Respect: The Love She Most Desires; The Respect He Desperately Needs  which I highly encourage couples to read.  I’d been married for 20 years to a wonderful man that I thought I was respecting. I never realized, however, how many little things I said and did that made him feel so belittled. (And he certainly didn’t know how to share that with me!) It wasn’t until we were at a counseling session and had to share ways we thought we had offended each other, yikes!!!  I remember praying that God would reveal the many ways I had hurt or offended Jon. I was shocked when the word disrespect came to mind so I asked God how I had disrespected Jon and, let’s just say, it wasn’t a short list.  I can vividly see myself asking Jon to forgive me for being disrespectful. He sat shocked but then as I shared how I felt I had disrespected him, he began to weep.  I share this only because it was a turning point in our marriage. Are you questioning if you truly respect your husband? Ask him what respect looks like and be ready to listen.
  • Be covenant keepers, AKA committed – Eliminate the word DIVORCE from your vocabulary as it plants seeds for potential marriage failure as well as causing stress, anxiety, worry, and fear that the other person may just pack up and leave. Marriage only survives the difficult times when divorce is not an option. Have the attitude that FAILURE IS NOT AN OPTION.
  • Invest in your marriage – A good marriage is worth the investment of time and money. Don’t be naïve thinking a few weeks of pre-marital counseling prior to marriage is all you need; continue to be teachable. Need ideas on investing in your marriage? (otherwise known as  fireproofing your marriage)  I’ve been married 30 years and I still have much to learn.  Jon and I attend a marriage conference every 2-3 years such as A Weekend to Remember, Art of Marriage, or a seminar like Love and Respect, or do a book study, or bible study with a community group. Find an older couple whose marriage you admire and ask if they would meet with you. How about a marriage cruise?  Family Life Today will be hosting their 5th year of Love Like You Mean It, Marriage Cruise  You will hear some of the best speakers and experts  on marriage. Jon and I went three years ago and truly recommend it.  A good marriage is worth the investment of time & $$$. Seek professional help when needed. The Center for Relational Care, in Austin, Texas, has great counselors and incredible marriage intensives which are costly but not nearly as costly as a failed marriage and attorney fees. Jon and I use CRC occasionally for a tune up like we did 10 years ago when we unexpectantly went through many changes (turning 40, loss of a job, selling our dream home to start a company, Jon working 60+ hour work weeks, a new baby and home schooling, insurmountable debt, etc.).

unified marriage

  • Hard times will come – So be prepared & unified. Persevering through the struggles can bring you closer together than you were before. I often tell others that when you are in the midst of a storm you are so busy trying to stay afloat that you don’t remember the calmness of where you came from and often you can’t see the rainbow just on the other side.  Keeping a gratitude journal will help your remember God’s previous faithfulness to you.
  • Appreciate your man – It’s a hard world out there and our husbands need to know that we believe in their abilities.  Show and tell your husband how much you love and appreciate all he does.
  • Have sex!!! – Men spell love S-E-X. Plus, intimacy brings couples together better than anything.

 Go out and enjoy your man.  Does any one idea resonate with you? How will you grow your marriage?

From Spectator to Participate, Spiritually Let’s Grow

How would you rate your spiritual health?  Today, I’m continuing the series, Life is too valuable to merely be a spectator, shape up and become a participant. We’re looking at the S in SHAPE.  I’m certain I will not be sharing anything new. However, maybe a new context will somehow inspire and motivate.

 

S SPIRITUALLY Growing in Your Relationship with God

I am a rule follower and enjoy having accountability.  The drawback to this is that as a young mom of little ones, I was placing unrealistic expectations on myself.  Well meaning gals would share how they felt a quiet time should look like and I tried to emulate them unsuccessfully. I sought the perfect place and time to have time alone with God, which if you have toddlers running around you know how you are often in survival mode. So dear friend,  be gentle and realistic. Evaluate which season of life you are currently in as it will impact your spiritual depth and reach. Learn to be creative and how to best connect with God. Remember how much time you had when you were single or newly married compared to now with toddlers demanding your attention? I have a lot more time in my new season of life as I no longer am homeschooling, and my youngest is in high school for eight or more hours a day.  Your goal is to figure out how best to consistently connect with God BECAUSE as my friend Sally Clarkson said….

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Intimate relationships require dedicated time spent together.  There are many voices daily competing for our attention.  Peace, direction and hope come when we live for an audience of one. Making God’s Word your authority in every area is vital for defending against the many spiritual attacks we will experience as Christians.

 Ways to Shape Up Spiritually and Grow Your Relationship with God

  • Spend time with God. READ and LISTEN to His word. It can be a verse, a chapter, a book of the Bible, or a topical reading plan. My reading plans change almost yearly as I enjoy trying different approaches. Do you have a Bible? Some of you reading might be asking how do I choose the right bible?  I understand, and my friend Elisa Pulliam has a wonderful resource to help you discern  how to choose a Bible.
    • Have you discovered YouVersion? I am not recommending you replace your faithful Bible with a Bible app. However, there is a convenience to having your bible on your phone since we never leave home without it. Numerous times when I find myself waiting, I pull out my phone and begin to reading the Bible or one of various plans or to listen while driving as I always seem to be in the car these days.  I was convicted recently by my friend Elisa who once was asked, “When are you going to get God off your to-do list and start having a real relationship with Him?” After all, I don’t think to myself, “I need to spend time today with my husband or children.” We spend time with those who are a priority.  I want God to be my priority.  Last month while going through a book study with a group of women someone shared that she does not allow herself to get on Facebook until she has had time reading God’s word.  How have you made reading God’s word a priority?  Any tidbits to share with other readers?
  • Journal the insights gleaned while studying your Bible.  I’ve used the R.E.A.P. wmethod which was introduced by Matt Carter, the teaching pastor at Austin Stone Community Chuch.  Other methods include S.O.A.P. , S.O.A.K., and Inductive Bible Study  figure out which method works best for your learning style and go for it.  Do you already have a favorite study method that inspires you?
  •  Listen to worship music, podcasts, and more.  We are instructed in Philippians 4:8 to focus on whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if any excellence and if  any worthy of praise–think on these things. While driving, walking, working around the house, or when going to sleep I listen to anything that exudes peace and goodness.
  • Meditate on what you read or the truth you hear. Quite your mind and ask Holy Spirit for His perspective and direction. Write down and memorize scriptures by placing them around your home or car on post-it notes.
  • Keep a gratitude journal. Practicing gratitude is the easiest, fastest way to becoming happier and thus more spiritual. I have started the practice of writing down several things nightly I am grateful for. Someone said, “It is not happy people who are thankful, it is thankful people who are happy.” and Brice Wilkinson said, “A moment of gratitude makes a difference in your attitude.”
  • Implement family devotions.  As a young mom I relished family devotions as they were a way to refuel spiritually and make spiritual deposits into my children’s lives.  Ten of my family’s favorites include:
  • Find accountability. Personally, I thrive with accountability as I’ve realized that I am not alone in my struggles.   Thus far this year I have read five books because I have others holding me accountable whether in person or on-line (Meet the New You, The Lifegiving Home,  Daring Greatly, The Root of Rejection and Anxious to Please).   So may I suggest finding someone to hold you accountable?  Maybe a friend, a church bible study, an on-line course, or consider hosting a group study in your home.  It’s been said that accountability is actions towards or involving others that reflect the integrity of the person you want to be. So who do you want to be like?
  • Pray “Lord, teach us to pray.” –Luke 11:1  Prayer is the inspiring experience of conversing with, and praising God as our loving, gracious heavenly Father. It doesn’t matter how we pray but that we pray.

I hope this has been helpful.  Remember it’s not merely the method used, rather you are looking for the consistency and what best works for your current season of life.  It’s drawing closer to Papa who dearly loves you and has created you.

The Life Giving Home: Creating a Place of Belonging and Becoming

The Life Giving Home: Creating a Place of Belonging and Becoming is a book that has been in the making for 20+ years.  It is written by Sally Clarkson and her eldest child, Sarah Clarkson, offering a balanced perspective on how to have a life giving home.  I pre-ordered several copies to give as gifts as I knew I would not be disappointed once I received them.  Visiting Sally’s home numerous times has allowed me to experience first hand some of what she shares in the book and gleaned over the years. Below is a collage of photos from the September 2012 Mom Heart Intensive, where Sally fed, encouraged, and breathed life into over 30 women. Sally and Sarah have bona fide credentials to write a book about how to have a life giving home as that is truly what the Clarkson home is.  It is a welcoming respite.

#LifeGIvingHomeBook #Sally Clarkson

Mom Heart Intensive 2012 at Sally’s home.

Nearly 20 years ago, I was blessed to attend a conference where I heard a breakout session by Clay and Sally Clarkson on “Educating the Wholehearted Child.” Their talk and book redirected my path as a mom. They shared how to use real books and real life to make your home a vibrant place of living and learning. I greatly appreciated how they emphasized the importance of having a solid biblical foundation for nurturing your children’s hearts, minds, and souls. Throughout the book, “Educating the Wholehearted Child”, they share snippets titled “IN OUR HOME” offering a glimpse of their family life. As a young mom, I desperately desired to create a home firmly grounded in discipleship and a home of belonging. So I did what any desperate mom would do, I made Sally my mentor. Over the decades, I’ve read her books and attended numerous WHM conferences all because I sought to cultivate a close relationship with my children. Imitating another person whom you admire or treat as a role model is the fastest way to learn anything 😉  Through Sally’s vulnerable sharing via books, conferences, and blogs, she has inspired, equipped, and directed my path as a mother and homemaker.  

I’ve watched the Clarkson children grow into ambitious young adults making this book more credible given the closeness of their family and the implementation of values by the children.  Sally and Sarah share many of their families’ monthly rhythms, traditions, favorite books, recipes, and much more to inspire women how to consider creating their very own life giving homes.  

My daughters are now 27, 25 and 15 and because of the wisdom I’ve gleaned from my mentor and dear friend (Sally), my family too has created a place of belonging, growing, and flourishing. Our home is a place of peace – full of life and lots of love. More importantly, our home became a launching pad for our daughters as they went into a hurting world taking God’s light and love. Our home serves as a welcoming respite for my older daughters and husband when they return weary and in need of rest, restoration, and rejuvenation.  Below is one of my favorite quotes from the book as this is how we viewed our role as parents.

#LifeGivingHomeBook #SallyClarkson

#LifeGivingHomeBook #SallyClarkson

Below is another favorite quote from the book that not only spoke to me but was also convicting. It’s my desire to view every arrival at my door as a divine appointment, however, I struggle at times with wanting everything to be perfect. I am challenged by a question Sally asked, “What if there was an army of light bearers spread all over the world at outposts where people could come to feel the touch of God, understand the truth of God, experience the beauty of God, witness the joy of God in the place called Home where the reality of God was celebrated every day?” That is exactly the place I desire our home to be.  It’s my prayer that those who enter my door would feel God’s peace, love and joy by us within the four walls of our home.  This picture of our home serves as a reminder of God’s love towards me.  Do you see the rainbow? It was truly breathtaking. Rainbows are such a beautiful part of creation. After a rainstorm, it’s wonderful to see the big, colorful arc appear in the sky.  

Divine appointments by CDW

#LifeGivingHomeBook #SallyClarkson

I am thrilled that Sally and Sarah have taken time in their busy schedules to write this book as it will truly bless others.  Throughout the book, they end each chapter with the section, “IN OUR HOME”, offering a glimpse into their home and family life for each month of the year. There are so many wonderful ideas and practical suggestions for building a life giving home of your own. Sally shares some of their memories, celebrations and rich traditions. 

I now have a lovely gift to share with the young moms I mentor, to inspire and guide them in creating their own place of belonging that is not lost to the busyness, distraction and brokenness of our culture.

The Vision of home

#LifeGivingHomeBook #SallyClarkson

Here is another collage from the 2015 Mom Heart Intensive hosted at Sally’s life giving home. I am always amazed at how graciously Sally cooks and feeds 30-50  women with simplicity. Tables are beautifully decorated with her china and candles throughout the house. Their home reflects the reality of the living God which is so inviting. Sally is a woman who practices what she teaches which is why I can whole heartily recommend this book.

#LifeGivingHomeBook #SallyClarkson

2015 Mom Heart Intensive. Hosted by the lifegiving Sally Clarkson.

For those living in the Austin, TX  I hope you can join me at my home for Sally’s web party on Tuesday night (2/9/16). Bring a friend and celebrate a sweet time of fellowship and be encouraged by my friend and mentor. I have a few giveaways of my own that are sure to please.  

Gifts, recipes, printable posters, The 24 Family Ways poster, lovely offerings and a grand prize will be given away during the evening of festivities. Register HERE  

Be sure to order your copy.

The Life Giving Home: Creating a Place of Belonging and Becoming by Sally Clarkson and Sarah

The Life Giving Home Experience: A 12-Month Guided Journey by Sally Clarkson and Joel.