Especially to MEN: Marriage after 20+ years

I feel loved! Fully, completely, extravagantly.

What does a wife need to feel completely loved?

Not only do I feel loved by God, which is the most fundamental love, without which we cannot feel whole. But I also feel my whole person is loved by another person – which gives me a sense of warmth and safety I have rarely experienced.

I have composed this post out of a sense of delight. But also, I share it with the public and target men in particular, because I think that many husbands and wives find it difficult to connect on an emotional level. I write this message hoping it will enable a deeper understanding of what a wife needs from her husband if she is to feel completely loved.

After over 20 years of marriage, I feel I am not alone in the deepest part of myself. I feel understood, accepted, embraced,  respected by my husband. After 21 years of marriage, I feel like we are finally ‘one flesh’. In both the physical sense and the spiritual, this ‘one flesh’ was established years ago. But today my husband and I are connected, more-so than ever before, on a deep emotional level too.

It has taken a long time, and has been a river filled with challenge, perseverance, misunderstanding and endless effort for both of us.

Today, all our efforts have culminated in a deep connectedness. The result for me is that I feel like I can cope with anything, and with a joyful assurance that I don’t have to cope on my own. Oh, I am still my own person, alone with my hopes and dreams, and the mundane responsibilities of life. But I am experiencing something new. My emotions and thoughts are completely appreciated, and that is heart-warming.

Life is a journey. The Christian life is a challenge. The married life is like riding in a boat over immense and varied seas.

For the first time in my marriage, I really feel as though we’re in the same boat, my husband and I… It is a small yacht that navigates the strong gales and drifts in the stillness, even as the tide and wind affect the movement of the waves.

This is because I am ‘seen’ now. He sees me, I do not hide, and I am not ashamed. Perhaps this is my new definition of marriage: to be seen by another and not to be ashamed of anything.

As man and wife, isn’t it total intimacy – without fear or shame – that we long for in our union, each of us transparent and vulnerable to the other, totally understood and accepted. Today, I believe I have experienced this intimacy. It is God’s perfect marriage plan.

Likewise, we who are the Bride of Christ are meant to experience this intimacy and freedom with God. As sons of Adam, that is who we would have been had he not sinned and learned shame.

So, to those who are married: well done. May we keep striving for the best that’s meant to be, because marriage is worth navigating even through the rough seas.

And also a note to the singles, be you single still or once again: may you be encouraged. God knows the best way for us to discover Him.

All of life requires effort, and the reward of intimacy is not easily achieved. Love is found in Father God. For some, it is also experienced through life with a spouse. But God’s plan for our lives is to draw us close to Him, as His bride. He knows the perfect navigation for each of his children to reach this intimacy. We can all find rest and His perfect peace that passes all understanding, knowing He leads us where we need to deepen our discovery of Him.

His love will never let us go.

What a lovely way to start the New Year.

Best to all for 2015.

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Endings: Accepting Transitions and Change

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” (C Dickens A Tale of Two Cities)

Psalms“For everything there is a season, And time for every purpose under heaven.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1)

Everything has its time: there are times in life when things are new, and there are times when some things must end.

I’ve just moved to Spain and have been writing about “New Beginnings” on my blog: http://sarahtunexaminelife.blogspot.com

But with new beginnings there are, inevitably, endings too.

How do you come to terms with the discovery that the way you’ve thought or interacted for years needs to change? When your dearest friends are far away, and you’ve few new folks in whom to confide, how do you pray, live, love through that?

The seed is faith. No matter what you may think or feel, it is the Spirit and our spirit, working in harmony, that is the reality. When everything seems in flux, faith is our bedrock.

Recently, I felt pretty low. I didn’t even feel like praying! But faithfully, I took out a Psalm each day for a week and read through it, allowing myself to reflect a bit at a time on what the psalmist was saying.

“In You, O LORD, I put my trust…” (Psalm 7, 11, 31, 71 – verse 1) empty chair

And do you know: even when you can’t see in front or behind, when everything is new and nothing familiar, when excitement wanes and you want someone close to say, ‘Here I am, for you’ and no one is there, do you know you don’t have to drum up positive feelings? Nor do you have to wallow in misery. Simply, allow yourself to be right where you are – physically, emotionally and spiritually – and wait. You might want to make only a few decisions – none other than what to wear or what to make for dinner – and wait. Tell the LORD what’s on your heart and mind- and wait. Ask Him for your deepest need, even if you don’t believe He’ll fulfill it – and wait.

God hears. God restores. God fulfills.

pic onlyI’m in a different place than I was a week ago. God answered my prayer, it’s true. But it isn’t in the answering of the prayer that help comes – but so much more in the waiting.

God bless you. Have a merry Christmas month and see you in 2015!

In the meantime, I welcome comments, thoughts, sharing.

 

 

Parenting an Intelligent but Willful Child

Do you always feel confident as a parent? Or, have you ever had the feeling that your child is smarter than you are? Do you find yourself arguing with him and he is running mental circles around you?

Have you asked yourself the question: How do I parent my intelligent but willful child?

Well, there is no need for fear, shame or self-doubt. Your child, no matter how bright he may be, or thinks she is, has less wisdom, less maturity, and less experience than you have.

If you are ever tempted to doubt yourself as a parent, remember: God has selected you for this child and he needs your guidance.

Children will manipulate if they can.

Take note: No matter how clever your bright child argues, you have the wisdom of the God who is the Creator of the Universe, you have the maturity that life’s responsibilities has given you, and you have years of life experience, all of which trump your child’s abilities. And lest there be any arrogance attached to his/her abilities, remember: these are God-given gifts for God’s purposes.

My nine-year-old son, who is bright, tends towards seeking control. This is his primary weakness and he regrets arguing, manipulating and dictating. Although he is changing slowly, his attempts at tyranny continue.

If I argue with him, we get nowhere. My authority comes, not from winning debate, but from my confidence and my role. Direct confrontation does not work.

Remaining detached from my emotions – ignoring how he can wind me up, for example – weakens his attempts to draw me into argument. And teaching him right from wrong and fearlessly drawing from God’s Word convicts him, provokes him to think, and removes authority from his debate. We have discussed the first commandment with a promise: “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you.” (Exodus 20:12)

Does your child seem to have somehow, in her intelligent mind, come to believe she who wins the argument is right? Instead, when I keep a sunny face, don’t get riled, and stand firm on consequences, I seem to be keeping me sane and to be helping her to learn her place.

In my case, perhaps because he’s growing up as an only child, it’s easier for him to remain self-centred. As his parents, my husband and I have sometimes substituted ourselves as the siblings he needs to play with and negotiate with during game playing. Maybe this good intention has blurred the boundaries for him. Or perhaps he’s just predisposed to being a dictator.

The key is, he’s loved, he knows it and is gradually learning that growing up means giving love as well as receiving it, and that intelligence is a responsibility, not a mechanism for winning and getting one’s own way. It mustn’t be easy being 9 in a world of adults!

But neither is it easy being the parent of a quick and determined child.

A lot of prayer goes into raising a child. And the child God gives you will be a challenge, especially as you want her to grow into the person God has created her to be.

God has given you this child, and you are the ideal parent for him. God chose you, just as he chose Moses to lead His people into the Promised Land. Moses had doubts about himself and so might you. But as you stand fast, avoid head-butting competition, and trust that God has provided you with the gifts and abilities needed to raise a God-loving, God-fearing, respectful child, you will prepare your son or daughter for all life brings.

“Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he grows up he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6

For I have told him [Ely] that I will judge his house forever for the iniquity which he knows, because his sons made themselves vile, and he did not restrain them. 14 And therefore I have sworn to the house of Eli that the iniquity of Eli’s house shall not be atoned for by sacrifice or offering forever.” 1 Samuel 3:13-14 (bold = mine)

There is plenty of scripture that will help your child to feel the conviction of the Holy Spirit, and will teach her the path she should go. Age appropriate theological input is one component that God provides for us as parents to use, to help our children learn and draw closer to God, and stay close to family. See in particular, Colossians 3:12: Clothe yourselves therefore, as God’s own chosen ones (His own picked representatives), [who are] purified and holy and well-beloved [by God Himself, by putting on behavior marked by] tenderhearted pity and mercy, kind feeling, a lowly opinion of yourselves, gentle ways, [and] patience [which is tireless and long-suffering, and has the power to endure whatever comes, with good temper]”

Here is input from SENG (supporting emotional needs of the gifted).

See you next month, 1st December. In the meantime, if you found this helpful, would you consider sharing it with a friend? I’d like to expand the readership network for Life from the Lighthouse.

And why not send in a comment or anecdote of your own particular experience, so that others can benefit from your insight and experience. For, ‘How good and pleasant it is when brethren dwell together in unity.’ Psalm 133

 

In the Tunnel – Part 2

From Present to Past:

I’d like to begin this in-depth look at Brokenness by saying I’m feeling elated, after coming through a soul-wrenching time. God works like that, doesn’t He? He brings us through trials in order to prune, shape, enrich us – And He sets us free from situations we create or think we must bear. Saying that, I choose to reflect on the past lessons of my recent Tunnel Experience to share them so that others whom God may lead through the Tunnel will be better prepared.. I like also to exchange experiences and lessons with others. For each of us, the learning curve never ends. That’s part of the excitement and challenge of our Christian journey…. But for now, I’ll talk about the Tunnel.

How I Entered the Tunnel: The issue of Time Management…

Or rather time unmanageable.

Do you ever feel overwhelmed by your “to do” list? Well, I had an Ah Ha moment about my “to do” list that initiated my Tunnel experience.

I entered a spiritual Tunnel last autumn, when I realized I could NEVER keep up with the amount of work I believed I had to do. I’d started a publishing business, based on God’s leading; my hubby asked me to work on a healthy vending business . I’m a wife and mother and follower of Jesus, all of which take commitment and time. I’d developed the tendency to stay up late, or wake up early (or sometimes both) in order to try to keep up with everything. Then, in one moment, I suddenly admitted: I have no time for myself, no time to relax, no quality time at all, to live, breathe, move.

At the time, I was physically healthy (ah, typically feeling a bit overweight, and as well, a little bit tired), but I crashed – in my mind and heart – realizing I just had more that I wanted to do than I could possibly do. That ‘crash’ was a blessing in that it would eventually release me into a different perspective, but of course initially, I didn’t feel released or relief. Initially, I felt despair and disappointment. Though my “Ah Ha” moment would eventually free me to give myself permission to stop trying so hard to do everything on my “to do” list, at first I felt the pain of lost hope, a lost dream, and I had to wrestle briefly with a bit of bitterness too.

Have you ever felt God lead you to something, or ask you to do something, and then you felt you couldn’t do it and He’d left you to flail about on your own?  I felt a bit like that at the crisis moment, when I first realized I could not do all I thought I had to do. Then, I admitted He hadn’t really mandated everything I was trying to do, and that there was quite a bit of My Will mixed onto the “to do” list. Though I felt disappointed and alone, I confessed to myself that God had not abandoned me and that somehow I’d burdened myself.

Honesty with ourselves and with God is so important in our journey, isn’t it? Sometimes it’s hard to face our mistakes, but thankfully, we serve a God who is kind, compassionate and full of love. He actually brings us to moments of realization so that he can free us from unnecessary burdens. Jesus’ words ring in my mind often,

“My yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:30 NKJV from Bible Gateway)

I admitted that, in order to have a good quality of life with my family, I’d have to let go of a part of my work that I loved. At first I felt a deep sense of loss and sadness. But that gave way to relief over only a few days. I had told myself it was God’s work but really it wasn’t. Being honest with myself, rather than being resentful toward God, proved to be a good choice.

Have you been through God’s refining fire? Perhaps you’re still there. Or maybe you made a huge discovery through it that has transformed your thinking and deepened your relationship with Him. Will you consider sharing so that others can be encouraged too?

Fire is hot – and burns can hurt. But fire also offers a means for warmth, food and protection. How has God’s refining fire affected you or a loved one, demonstrating His grace, release and love?

Fire offers Intimacy

Fire offers Intimacy

Surrender, Release, Abundant Blessing

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surrender and releasefrom FREE TO BE cover

What is the benefit of surrender? If I surrender, doesn’t that mean I lose my identity? Or worse, won’t my identity be squashed or crushed in order to ensure I ‘fit’ into a preconceived notion of what it is to be part of ‘the group’?

In a word, “No”. That is, not if you are surrendering to the One who created you in the first place.

It is often said that no one knows you quite like your family. Actually, I’d take exception to that and clarify by saying, your family has the greatest potential to have the most entrenched concept of who you are, based on who you were at age 2, or 5 or 8, and which may not be relevant to who you are today.

But when you surrender to the God who created you, and me, and the universe, you are surrendering to the One who truly does know your innermost being. Psalm 139 says it all: “You formed my inmost parts”.

I’ll witness by way of a personal story, how one particular act of surrender has brought me the greatest joy I could ever know… a joy I most definitely would not have experienced had I put my will before the LORD’s in my life. The joy I speak of is my eight year old son. The act of surrender was accepting God’s call to have a child.

At the age of forty-two, having been married for about ten years and having agreed from the outset we’d not have children (my husband already had a wonderful daughter from a previous marriage, and I’d never been the broody sort), one particular Sunday morning, during worship at our regular Sunday church service, I felt the LORD speak to me personally, by pressing right into my belly. I ‘heard’ impressed upon me: “I want you to have a baby.”

That threw me for a loop!
While I had grown accustomed to hearing God’s still small voice for a number of years, I’d never heard that message before!

The next Sunday, almost at the same moment on the clock (again it was during the worship portion of the morning church service) the prompting came, “His name will be Jordan.”

I immediately shot up to Him, “Well, LORD, do you think you could tell Alan (my husband)?

From that time, my husband and I began to pray to seek God’s will and not our own, and decided we’d neither force the LORD’s hand nor block it.

A few months later, when we were overseas visiting Hong Kong where we had friends, I was at a prayer meeting with two people I knew quiet well and a couple more who were strangers to me. At the end of our intercession, one of the women who was new to me turned to me. She was young in years, and fairly new to the LORD. Nervously, she said in a quiet voice that she had to tell me something. “You are going to have a baby,” she said.

About fifteen months after that word was given to me, I was pregnant. A good friend who was a believer and a gynecologist warned that, at my age, I might miscarry. That was okay I thought, as this was the LORD’s child.

At my age I had to have a test done for Downs syndrome. I should interject here to say that I have a large contingent in my family that is very bright. One fear I’d had for years was that if I ever had a child I might fail to bring one into the world that was ‘up to the mark’, and in fact, I might have a child that was a Downs baby; that was a private, deep-seated fear. Well, I had to have a medical test that measures something in the fetus’ neck; the larger the measurement the more chance the baby will be Downs. Lying on the bed in the hospital for the test, I watched as the numbers were crunching and they were off-the-scale high. I was scared at first, but then I remembered, ‘this is the LORD’s baby and He will create the baby He wants’. Immediately, I watched as the numbers dropped significantly and then settled. The test revealed that, factoring in my age, the calculations could not have given a better indication that the child was not going to be Downs. My point is, my greatest fear, when released to the LORD, was relieved. If the baby were Downs, I was ready to receive him. The child was God’s beautiful creation and I the blessed for having him. God was preparing me to accept His child, and continuing to teach me to surrender my will to His.

There are a number of other blessings that have come from surrendering my will about having or not having a child. Some readers will have experienced joy, challenge, pain or all of the above as they’ve learned to surrender on this issue; each of us has a unique calling to walk out. But it is when we surrender that we become able to walk out the journey set for us. For my husband and I, the surrender of our wills meant allowing God to change our lifestyle and future forever by choosing to make us parents. That joy we would have missed if we’d not let him do His will. That joy has been the greatest joy of my life.

What benefit is there in surrender? If we surrender our will to the Creator of the Universe, He can lead our lives to be more rewarding and fulfilling than we could ever imagine. I highly recommend the practice.

And I’d love to hear stories from others who have surrendered.

Until next time, God bless.

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FOCUS ON THE FAMILY

The image of the lighthouse conveys guardian, watchman over those adrift at sea.

But Focus on the Family ministries is far more than that.

Check their website for info on seminars, lectures and more:

http://www.focusonthefamily.ca/

Allow the LIGHT to radiate throughout your marriage and your family.

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ON DIVORCE – more concrete info

Over in A Life Examined, another blog of mine, a comment from Persis came in on the subject of divorce. She commented to me, “Something isn’t right when our desire to maintain a principle is willing to sacrifice the well-being of people.”

This is the heart of what I’m exploring on the issue of divorce between Christians.

I recently had a conversation with my hubby about this issue of divorce between Believers too. Apart from being married to me, he is a lawyer (fussy about words!) with a God-given gift for Biblical teaching. He told me that the word ‘adultery’ used in the English translation of the Bible comes from a Greek word with the root ‘porno’ – we get the word pornography from this root. The word actually means much more than sexual ‘adultery’ as we understand it, or pornography. It refers to the fact that husbands are meant to love, care for and protect of their wives and if they do not they are practicing this ‘porno…’ which means they are adulterers in their marriage.

Learning this has been helpful to my ‘sense’ that Jesus would not condone abuse and insist a marriage is kept in tact in such circumstances. While this may not end the accusations hurled at some in the church seeking divorce from abusers, from others in the church who are seeking to exhort, it helps me to minister.
I’d love to receive further comments and share dialogue about this substantial issue in the Church today.