Friday, September 20, 2013

#263 - Why You WON'T MISS IT?

Jeremiah 29:13 - Then you will seek Me, inquire for, and require Me [as a vital necessity] and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.
Mark 1:35 (ESV) - And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed. 
Proverbs 31:15 - She rises while it is yet night and gets [spiritual] food for her household... 
Have you ever thought, "I just don't want to miss it. I don't want to miss God."

I know that there have definitely been points along my life where I thought the very same thing. This morning as I was journaling and taking some time to listen to the Voice of the Holy Spirit, I felt very reassured by what I heard.

If you get this next thing down, I believe you will have won 95% of the battle!!

What is that? First things first: Daily time with the Lord. Once we have committed and have established a DISCIPLINE in devoting time EACH DAY with the Lord, I believe a large portion of any upcoming battle is won. I believe we will "WIN" the day! I believe we will "WIN" in our relationships. I believe we will "WIN" with our dreams and goals!

I attended a business class last night, and the gentleman was talking about a mentorship relationship and what it looks like, what proper communication looks like and doesn't look like. He said something to this effect, "I recently had a conversation with a guy that I am mentoring. Consistently, when we would get together, he would talk the whole time. It may be an hour long of him talking, the guy barely came up for air. He established a habit of monopolizing the conversation. I'm OK with that, but I finally told him. 'You don't need me. If all I am is just a wall for you to talk to, you don't need me.'"

A true mentoring relationship sometimes means you need to be quiet! A true mentoring relationship means that both parties talk and both parties listen.

What does your time with the Lord look like? What does your "quiet time" with Him look like? Like the protege in the above relationship, are you doing ALL THE TALKING when you spend time with the Lord? Do you pray and pray and pray, then get up to leave while the Lord is still just sitting there. He never had a chance to get a word in. He didn't have a chance to offer HIS advice, HIS answer to the situation or problem.

WHY can we be assured we will not miss it? This is what I heard this morning...
Why won't you miss it? Because of this! Because of this daily time spent with Me! When you spend daily time with Me & even open up yourself to LISTEN, I will SPEAK because you are seeking Me!! You won't miss it! Business, marriage, money, kids. You won't miss it.
So friend, I ask, are you spending time listening? Sitting in silence, pen & journal in hand, ready to hear from that still, small Voice? Ready to record His thoughts about the very situation you are seeking Him about?

I encourage you to take some time today, to get in a quiet place and in that silence ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -    LISTEN. 

Sunday, September 15, 2013

#262 - Part 2: Fueling A Marriage That Will Last

Proverbs 31:12 -  She comforts, encourages, and does him only good as long as there is life within her.
Ephesians 4:26-27 (MSG) -  Go ahead and be angry. You do well to be angry—but don’t use your anger as fuel for revenge. And don’t stay angry. Don’t go to bed angry. Don’t give the Devil that kind of foothold in your life.
Going on 13 years of marriage (January 6th!), Tyler and I got to talking the other day about our marriage. It was a good conversation. We discussed why we felt it had been so good up to this point, how to improve it going forward, and one specific building block came out of our conversation that I thought would be valuable to share.

As a newlywed couple in our early marriage, we decided that we would implement a monthly marriage evaluation. Each month, we spent time filling out an evaluation with questions that we had pre-determined. We had seen patterns good and bad modeled by our parents and other people, some that we wanted to follow, some that we wanted to avoid. Our marriage evaluation may have took 30-45 minutes for each of us to fill out separately before coming together and discussing each question. The questions covered every possible aspect that could bring turmoil into a marriage if not dealt with, such as: How is the meal preparation going? How are household chores being done? Is this effective? How is money being managed? How is our sex life? Have you felt romanced in the last month? How is fitness working within marriage? How are relationships/friendships outside of marriage? How has our relationship with the Lord been, our time alone with God? And the list goes on.


At the end of each marriage evaluation, we had TWO of the MOST IMPORTANT questions. I'll start with the last question.
  • On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate your marriage and why? Where could it improve? 
That was a great question! For one month, I may have scored our marriage as an 7 with the reason "why" as, "I feel like I wasn't romanced at all. Our schedules just got too busy, and there was little of the spark." The following month, I would notice Tyler working on keeping the spark in our marriage. Maybe bring me flowers, or scheduling a romantic date with a walk on the beach. It was RARE, if ever, for two months in a row that we felt the "weak" spot was in the same area.


For me, and probably for most young married couples, I did not know how to communicate in the beginning. I definitely did not like confrontation. If my feelings got hurt, if not for this most important question, I would have pushed my hurt feelings under the carpet, only for hurt to build upon hurt. They may have been small hurts, but hurts nonetheless. Over time, those hurts would have most likely created scars over and around my heart. For some marriages, those small scars undealt with are what has led to the "D" word down the road. What was that question? 
  • List 2 positive withholds and 1 negative withhold that happened in the last month. 
"What in the world is a withhold?" you may ask. First of all, a "withhold" comes with rules. The recipient could only respond with TWO WORDS. "Thank You." A positive withhold was something that Tyler did that month that made me feel good. Maybe I didn't have time to comment or say something to him at the moment it happened, but it was something that made me feel good. A negative withhold was the opposite. It was something that he did or said that month that hurt my feelings or made me upset. We may have been in a public environment, not allowing me to comment immediately on it, and then maybe it was forgotten..... until I had to pull together 3 things for "Withholds" on our marriage evaluation. Then we would sandwich the withholds when we told the other person: one positive, one negative and wrap up with the final positive withhold.

What this taught me? As a newlywed, this was CRUCIAL to me in learning how to communicate. I knew that ALL Tyler could say in response was, "Thank you." That was the rule. He couldn't get defensive and try to defend his position, but could only say, "Thank you." Whether my feelings were right or wrong, had no bearings on the fact that they were my feelings, and my feelings had been hurt. Same with Tyler. When he would give me his "Withholds," I could not defend myself, but could only thank him for telling me. 

It was WONDERFUL! It allowed a "green," "newlywed couple" to voice our feelings, even the hard ones. Some months it may have been about something sexual, that would have been embarrassing for one of us to bring up otherwise. Other months, it may have been something I said to undermine Tyler in front of people he respected. 

Ultimately, our first year of marriage we LEARNED how to communicate. We learned how to talk about topics, despite how difficult the subject may be. When most of the time, newly married couples may take years to learn how to communicate and talk about the tough issues, some never talk about them, we learned during year one. 

We no longer do a monthly marriage evaluation, although we did discuss re-implementing it a few times a year when we go on our "husband/wife" weekend recharge retreats. Why reimplement it after so many years? Communicating and keeping our marriage fresh is worth it! 

What about you? How do you keep your marriage fresh? How do you keep the communication lines open with a busy life, jobs, kids, and everything else that goes on?

Friday, September 13, 2013

#261 - Part 1: Fueling a Marriage That Will LAST!

Proverbs 31:12 - She comforts, encourages, and does him only good as long as there is life within her.
Proverbs 31:17 - She girds herself with strength [spiritual, mental, and physical fitness for her God-given task] and makes her arms strong and firm. 
In a recent conversation, my husband was telling me about a minister he was listening to. This minister said, "I love God more than I love my wife. But....... she also loves God more than she loves me!"

It is the key ingredient to a long & successful marriage. How would you respond if I posed the question to you? "Do you love God more than you love your spouse? Your children?"

Why is it so important to love God first? When you love God first and foremost, you will love your spouse how God would want you to love them, even on those days when they may be unbecoming, unattractive, frustrating. When you love God first and foremost, you will find ways to show love to your spouse, to make them feel special, to meet their needs.

THIS IS CRUCIAL! Sure, we can only control our own love for the Lord... we cannot control our spouse, and their commitment and time they spend with the Lord. BUT we can CONTROL ourself! When we LOVE the Lord first, it WILL spill off into all other relationships in our life. His love will overflow into our relationship with our spouse, our co-workers, our children. When we love God first, HE will give us wisdom HOW TO love! Maybe it's loving in a way that we would not have thought of on our own. Maybe, unbeknownst to us, our spouse is really feeling like he/she needs a break. He/she would feel loved just by having a weekend getaway to recoup. Fishing. Chilling. Sleeping. In a mountain cabin. Alone or with you. SO... because we love the LORD first, the Holy Spirit leads us to send them on a little 1, 2, 3 day getaway to refresh (no kids allowed!). Maybe it's something as simple as, our spouse would feel loved by having some of their favorite fresh baked cookies when they get home from a long day at work. Maybe it's the new "technology" piece they were eye-balling at BestBuy, or a new shirt? Maybe it's just walking in the house to a wife with make-up on, her hair done & in clothes other than sweatpants & a T-shirt?

FUELING your marriage is IMPORTANT! You cannot get a return on investment if you do not invest!! That could mean a regular weekly, or monthly date night. A husband/wife retreat to getaway without kids... once or twice a year. It doesn't have to be too fancy, but investing in the babysitter, the lodging, the meals could REAP GREAT DIVIDENDS into a long, healthy and happy marriage!!!

Some days it's about the little things. The little things DO matter. Saving the curly chips for them, because those are their favorites. Pulling the covers up and tucking them in when it's time for bed, because they like their covers tight. Filling up their coffee cup for a refill so they don't have to get out of their comfy seat. Peeling their tomato that you put on their sandwich, because it shows you went the extra step - and it's just how grandma did for them! Loving them. Saying kind words. Not nagging. Serving their favorite foods. Showing love how THEY receive love the best! If you need help in this area, a great book to read and RE-read is, "The Five Love Languages." ----- And friend, let me remind you of the principle of sowing and reaping. When you SOW these good seeds into your spouse, you WILL REAP a harvest in return! Don't fret! If you feel like you are doing all the giving and sowing, continue sowing with a good attitude, GOD SEE'S! Your good deeds will not go unnoticed!

Finally, the Proverbs 31 woman girds herself with spiritual strength. FRIEND, YOU need to be renewed and refreshed! YOU need to have YOUR batteries recharged too. This may mean TAKING SOME THINGS OFF YOUR PLATE, OFF YOUR CALENDAR! Her physical fitness strength gives her the extra energy she needs to keep up, to keep her metabolism high and give her those endorphins (the happy chemical her body makes!)! Her mental strength keeps her sharp, because she invests time into reading books to help her grow mentally versus wasting countless hours watching TV, on Facebook or playing mindless games on her iPhone. She finds ways to STAY SHARP, stay mentally strong, to be an iron-sharpener to her husband.

It's OUR job to get OURSELF right. Let's begin today. What are some ways we can FUEL our marriage today??? I'd love to hear ONE way that YOU fuel your marriage? Feel free to share! :)

Have a blessed day!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

#260 - How to Recognize the Noise!

DID YOU KNOW: You wondering why there are "#'s" in front of some blog posts and not others? Well... here's your answer. Today's blog, #260, will somewhat have reference back to the Proverbs 31 Woman. Any blog posts that do not have a number at the beginning of the title will just be a general devotion, not referring to a passage in Proverbs 31. Also, unless specified differently, the Amplified Version of the Bible is typically used. 

Proverbs 31:16 -  She considers a [new] field before she buys or accepts it [expanding prudently and not courting neglect of her present duties by assuming other duties]; with her savings [of time and strength] she plants fruitful vines in her vineyard.
In referring to the Proverbs 31 woman, she is obviously an accomplished woman. She has done much, and is greatly to be modeled after. Though, most people have NO strength left, mental or physical because their productive time has been spent on things done in vain, activities that they should not have been doing in the first place. We can find ourselves not moving on to bearing fruit and having fruitful vines because our lack of strength never gets us to planting the vines! THE VINES ARE NEVER PLANTED BECAUSE WE ARE TOO BUSY WITH THE NOISE!!! We remain UNFRUITFUL in the areas God has called us to because of the noise.

Have you ever thought this: "There is so much noise, I cannot even hear myself think!" Noise around you. Noise in your head. Noise in your thoughts. Noise on your calendar, your phone, your computer. Noise. Noise. Noise! So much noise, you cannot hear.

Noise comes in many different formats. This morning while having my quiet time and thinking about a bit of a rushed morning schedule once we get started, I found myself asking the Lord this question. "Father, will you please guide me today? Teach me how to listen and obey even amongst the hustle and bustle, in all the noise. Help me Father. Shutting out noise. I know you knew noise would come. And I know they had their own kind of noise when Proverbs 31 was written."

The phrase, "Handling Noise in order to Hear" came to mind. With all of that said, I'd like to share with you some of the insights on noise that I received. EVALUATE YOURSELF. Are there any areas in the below noise categories that you need to eliminate, evaluate, tweak or even potentially focus on more?

Noise can be boiled down to two main categories. External Noise & Internal Noise. Let's look at the following list, not all is bad noise, but can be noise nonetheless.

External Noise
  1. Having the TV on - needing noise in the background, often does not allow us to think, pray or hear from the Holy Spirit
  2. Cell Phone - Can be an obvious distraction. Be it games, email, texting, etc. In the Roman times they entertained people to keep them from THINKING and revolting.  Hum.... could cell phones be a point of distraction to keep us from thinking?
  3. Apps on your cell phone - Each app adds an additional element of noise...just one more thing to look at or do.
  4. Music or audios - While your driving, do you ever have time to think? Or is there always noise in the background?
  5. Children - Let's be honest, from the time they wake up, if they are toddler the idea of thinking quietly may be a far fetch from reality.
  6. Activities - How many activities do you choose to be involved in and are they the right activities?
  7. Schedules - What's on your schedule? Your husbands schedule? Your kids schedule? 
  8. What you allow to GO on your schedule? - Like the Proverbs 31 woman in verse 16, do you expand prudently? Do you really evaluate and consider whether your time should be going to this area?
  9. Facebook, twitter, Social Media - Need I say more? At the end of the day, minutes can easily turn into hours if we are not careful. 
  10. Pictures - Constantly having to "capture the moment". (Often this causes us to miss the real "moments" because we are trying to capture them.)
  11. Overcommitting
  12. Disorganization - A mess. 
  13. Lack of Systems in place - Constantly have to think, "Where am I going to put this?" because it doesn't have a place. 
  14. Excessive Entertainment - Always a movie, Netflix, a show, a book. 
  15. Work
  16. The WRONG Work 
Internal Noise
  1. Comparing - Allowing your mind to compare yourself to others
  2. Busyness - No downtime to sit quietly and think or pray. 
  3. Guilt - Guilt is a condemnation tool that takes your listening focus onto the negative.
  4. Self-Talk - What do you SAY to yourself? What are you speaking into existence about your life? Family? Children? Your day? Your future?
  5. Belief or Lack of Belief - Believing the wrong way. How or what are you believing from the Lord? Often our own belief is too low not allowing GOD to do His part. I heard the words, "BELIEVE ME WILDLY!"
  6. Wandering thoughts - Thinking about nothing and meaningless things. That is noise and wasted time. 

TO DO: Make a "THINK LIST" - When you have the down time, what are some things you need to think on? Have a list ready & THINK on these things. It may be an organized prayer time, it may be thinking on ways to organize and streamline your life, it may be thinking on your next steps towards accomplishing your dream, being productive, parenting, being healthy, preparing healthy meals, developing a schedule for YOURSELF, cleaning, etc. Develop a THINK LIST. When your mind is tempted to wander about nothing or spend countless hours drifting into Facebook, INSTEAD with a THINK LIST in place, you may find yourself creating valuable systems to put into place in your home that will help you have more peace and be more productive, and ultimately accomplish what GOD would have you accomplish on a daily basis! 

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

#259 - THREE Power Tips of Encouragement

Romans 15:1, 2, 4, 5 - We who are strong [in our convictions and of robust faith] ... (2)Let each one of us make it a practice to please (make happy) his neighbor for his good and for his true welfare, to edify him [to strengthen him and build him up spiritually]....(4)the encouragement [drawn] from the Scriptures we might hold fast to and cherish hope. (5)...the God Who gives the power of patient endurance (steadfastness) and Who supplies encouragement
Proverbs 31:12 - She comforts, encouragesand does him only good as long as there is life within her.
Encouragement and strength come from God and from His Word. His Word was brought for this purpose, to strengthen, guide and direct the believer. To give us a roadmap when we need direction, comfort when we need help, peace when we need calmed in our spirit and answers when we choose to look. Let's look at the 3 power tips of encouragement.

  1. GIVE IT - Encouragement, as we see in Romans 15:2, is for YOU and I, We who are strong in our convictions and of robust faith, "encouragement" is for us to GIVE. When? As often as possible! To who? Our neighbor, the person next to us, friends, believers, and even the non-believer. That we should be concerned about his/her TRUE WELFARE. It may just be our encouragement that gets them through the day. It could be as simple as complimenting the cashier at the grocery store for her friendly smile or pretty skin. She may just get home that night with that as the highlight of her day. Encouragement. Give it freely and give it often!
  2. RECEIVE IT from the Word - Do you need encouragement? The WORD is a giver of encouragement. The WORD was put into place for you and I to be able to come and RECEIVE the much needed encouragement that we will need often as believers. The Word is designed to fill you with hope, to encourage and build you up. The Word is designed to be your sword, your strength, so that you do not have to go ONE DAY without hope and direction! Believers SHOULD BE the most hopeful, expectant, excited people alive. When we know Who is on the inside of us, what is to come and that God is on our side, we have a LOT to be excited about. Today, receive YOUR encouragement from making sure you spend some time in the Word. 
  3. RECEIVE IT from God - According to Romans 15:5, GOD supplies us with encouragement. Maybe you are out and about, you don't have access to pulling out your Bible, maybe you don't have access to just sitting down to dive into the Word, you can still receive encouragement from God, the Holy Spirit Himself!! Begin to pray. If you are in your car, begin to thank God outloud. Thank Him for encouraging you. Thank Him for helping you in your situation (in advance). Thank Him for giving you the words to speak in your upcoming meeting. Thank Him for guiding you. Thank Him IN ADVANCE for what it is you need. Praise Him. Sing to Him. Allow your spirit to be encouraged by the very Holy Spirit that is with you 24/7! The Holy Spirit lives inside of you, as as part of the Trinity, part of God, the Holy Spirit is there to ENCOURAGE YOU! Take advantage of it and RECEIVE! 
We see that our Proverbs 31 friend practices the art of encouraging her husband. As long as their is life within her, she makes sure that she puts Romans 15:2 into action! He is the man that God had placed in her life to be her partner and completer. Her encouragement to him only helps him to lead their family better. Sister, encourage your husband today. Build him up. Think of three kind things to say to him that would encourage him. Maybe it's simply, "Hey honey, I just want to let you know that I appreciate you going to work to provide for our family. I don't see or know what you go through every day, but I know it can take a toll on you at times. Thank you so much for providing for our family, even when your job may throw some hard things at you. I want you to know I SEE and I appreciate you. I love you." 

Give and receive encouragement today. 

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