Want a Better Marriage? Be a Better Spouse.


I know that I have neglected my blog lately, but we are in the process of leaving the mission field and moving back to the States. Hopefully, I can get back to updating the blog soon.

For now, I’ll share an article that I wrote for www.startmarriageright.com.

If you don’t feel that your relationship is as great as you would like it to be, then here are a few suggestions that may help. However, this is not a list for “fixing” your spouse or tips on how to make your husband/wife a better mate. No, this list is all about “you”, because the first step to a better marriage relationship is to first be a better spouse. Read more at http://www.startmarriageright.com/2013/02/want-a-better-marriage-be-a-better-spouse/#.

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Damaged by divorce: Restored by grace


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Christian marriages are not immune from divorce. It happens much too often. Marriage is an institution established and ordained by God. The marriage union between man and woman mirrors the relationship between Christ and His bride, which is the Church. (Ephesians 5)

My husband and I have both been through divorce in the past, but by the grace of God we were forgiven for the mistakes we made in past relationships. God brought us together and He has have given us an opportunity to serve Him as missionaries. We also try to use our past experiences to minister to others with similar experiences.

Read more about this in the article, “Damaged by Divorce & Restored by Grace“. I wrote this article for startmarriageright.com.

His Little Girl


I love the song; You’re My Little Girl by the band, Go Fish. Jason, one of the band members wrote this song for his wife. While they were still dating, she told him about her parent’s divorce and how much that had hurt her. Jason wanted her to know that no matter what she was going through or how others may hurt her, God is always there and He loves and protects her because she is His child — His little girl.

The first time I heard this song, I didn’t know the history behind it but it ministered to me for the same reason that he wrote the song. My parents divorced when I was sixteen. The pain and confusion over that event affected me for many years. Life changed dramatically at the moment that they announced their plans to divorce. My world seemed to turn upside down and for many years it just seemed to spiral out of control and way off course. I don’t blame my parent’s divorce for my world being out of control for so many years. The divorce was not my choice and it did change the course of  life… at least as I had thought it would be, but it was my own bad choices after that point that caused me pain.

I love the message of this song because it reminds me that I am a child of God. I’m His little girl, so no matter what this life hits me with, I can run to Him because that’s what little girls do when they are hurt, or scared, or confused, or sad. Daddy is always there to pick them up and wipe away their tears and daddy can protect his little girl from anything.

Throughout my life, I tried to use relationships to fill a void. In the end, these relationships caused more pain because of emotional and even some physical abuse. During these difficult years in my life, I didn’t fully understand that I had a heavenly Father waiting with open arms to comfort and protect His little girl. By the time I did run to Him, I was a frightened, emotionally damaged little girl who had lost what little self-worth I ever had. It has taken me years to learn that God sees me as His child, His little girl… the apple of His eye.

“For this is what the Lord Almighty says: “After the Glorious One has sent me against the nations that have plundered you—for whoever touches you touches the apple of his eye—”  Zachariah 2:8

Do you understand the message of this scripture? God is saying, “anyone who dares to touch my little girl is hurting my most precious possession”. Even an earthly dad would not allow someone to hurt their little girl, so how great is it to know that we are a child of God.

Have you been hurt by someone else? Perhaps someone you love has abandoned you in some way. Perhaps you felt the fear and pain of abuse. Maybe your spouse has betrayed you in some way. Maybe you are like me and your lack of self-worth prevents you from understanding that God sees you as the beautiful child that you truly are. If your self-worth depends on the approval of others such as your parents, your friends, or your spouse… you will only find disappointment. Only God can heal the hurt that someone else has caused and only He can love you the way that you need to be loved. He will protect you and never abandon you… because You’re His Little Girl.

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.” Isaiah 43:2

Have you Kissed a lot of Frogs but Still no Prince?


frog.princeI don’t know how many frogs the fairy tale princess kissed before she found her prince, but I have to admit that I kissed a lot of frogs before finding my prince.

We want to believe in the fairytale.

Most of us want to believe that our “prince” is out there somewhere among all the frogs that we encounter. We want to believe that “soul-mates” do exist because we don’t want to choose the wrong mate and end up as part of the 50% of married couples who eventually divorce.  READ MORE

Above is an except from an article I wrote for startmarriageright.com.

Are you still looking for your prince or princess? You might enjoy this article and reading about what God says about choosing a mate.

Dear Hot Flash: a Dear John letter


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Dear Hot Flash:

The time has come for us to part ways. I wanted to let you down easy but it’s best that I just get to the point. I’m struggling to find words to make this easier for you. I want to say something good, but it’s difficult to find anything positive about this relationship. Honestly, I just want out. I wish we had never met. This relationship has just become too painful for me.

I remember listening to other women speak of you. They talked about their involvement with you and how you affected them in such intense ways. They described your flashy personality and your spontaneity. They told stories about all the sleep they lost because you liked to visit them at night. So many women described how HOT you were. Back then I thought that all the talk about this mysterious Hot Flash was just an exaggeration. I laughed at all the stories, just as many others do…. Then, you walked into my life. How old was I… 45, 46? I’m not sure. At first I didn’t even recognize you. You would show up for brief moments and then disappear for long periods of time. Oh, of course I noticed you; because there is no doubt… you’re HOT!

As the years have passed, you have started coming around more often and staying much longer. I’m 50 years old now, so this has gone on long enough. This relationship has just become way too intense. You have become much too intrusive. You demand too much time with me. You’re smothering me and it’s causing me to feel sick. I break out in a sweat and I get headaches. I’m losing too much sleep because of you. I’m sorry, but this is not a healthy relationship. It’s time for you to move on.

I wish I could say “it’s been fun”, but I can’t seem to recall any fond memories. Let’s just say good-bye and depart as… well, I’d be lying if I said, “friends”… so, let’s just go our separate ways. Please do not call or write and DO NOT visit me again. Good-bye Hot Flash.

Sincerely,

Darlene

“Hey, it’s me”


Have you ever received a phone call that went something like this?phone-hand

“Hello”

“Hey, how are you?”

“I’m good, how are you?”

“Great, did you watch the game last night?”

“Yes, great game”

“Well, all of us need to get together to watch a game soon.”

“Sure, we need to do that.”

“What about this weekend?”

“Uh… who is this?”

I don’t always recognize every voice that comes over the phone. That’s why I have Caller ID. However, there are some voices that I always recognize. I know my husband’s voice and he recognizes my voice without me having to introduce myself on the phone. I can pick his voice out of crowd. Actually, that’s not very difficult because he’s usually the loudest one in the group… sorry honey, but it’s true. He has a very nice voice by the way (I hope that smoothed things over with him).

I also can easily recognize the voice of my children. I don’t have to ask who is calling when I hear a voice over the phone. Although, I do have to confess that many times when I’m talking about one of my three children, I will run through all three names and even add in the names of the grandchildren before saying the correct one (everyone does that… right?).

What I love most is that there are people in my life that know the sound of my voice and all I have to say is, “hey, it’s me” and they know exactly who’s calling. Before my mom passed away, I could call her and just simply say, “hey Momma”, and even though she has three daughters, she always knew that it was me, it was Darlene, her oldest daughter calling. Not only did she know my voice but the sound of her voice let me know that she was happy to hear from me.

My ramblings here do have a purpose, so I’ll get to the point that I want to make.

I am thankful that God also knows my voice. At times when I cry out, “Jesus”; my heart can feel him answer, “Hello Darlene, I’m glad you called”. When I fall on my knees and pray, “Father God”, I can almost hear Him say, “Yes, Baby Girl, I’m right here”. When life gets busy and the world gets so loud that I don’t think anyone can hear me, it’s comforting to know that my Heavenly Father always hears me and He knows my voice. I love to talk to Him, especially at times when I know that no one else could understand my ramblings. I love that I can call Him and just say, “Hey, it’s me”.

The other side of this coin is that God wants us to recognize His voice as well. This is where I fall short. I tend to be more like Samuel. A voice called to him three times before Eli finally explained to him that the voice he was hearing was God (1 Samuel 3). I talk often to my Heavenly Father, but I need more practice at listening well enough to be able to recognize His voice. We were created to commune with God. That means he wants a relationship with us. Most will agree that to have a good relationship with someone else, such as a spouse or a friend, we need to communicate. Communication should not be “one-way”. I love to share my thoughts with my husband and tell him about my day but sometimes, I also have to allow him to talk and I have to practice my listening skills.

Here are a few things to improve communication

With Others:

  • Sit face to face and make eye contact – we spend a lot of time communicating through text, emails, and social networks but to build a good relationship, we need to get face to face.
  • Minimize distractions; both external and internal – life is filled with distractions. It may take some effort but reduce the noise, turn off the TV, the computer, the cell phone, etc. Focus your thoughts on the conversation and guard against letting your mind wander to other things.
  • Focus all your attention on the one speaking – we want others to pay attention to us when we are talking, so we should do the same for them. Remember the “Golden Rule”.

With God

  • Face to Face: we can’t do this literally but we can find a quiet place where we can have an intimate conversation with God.
  • Minimize distractions: shut out external distractions by turning the noise of the world off; spending time in prayer, reading God’s Word, or worshiping Him in song can help clear your thoughts of worldly distractions.
  • Focus all your attention on Him: God gives us His full attention and He doesn’t want to compete for our attention.

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Listen, you heavens, and I will speak; hear, you earth, the words of my mouth. Let my teaching fall like rain and my words descend like dew, like showers on new grass, like abundant rain on tender plants.  Deuteronomy 32:1-2

 The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.  When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.   John 10: 2-5

My son, if you accept my words
and store up my commands within you,
 turning your ear to wisdom
and applying your heart to understanding—
 indeed, if you call out for insight
and cry aloud for understanding,
 and if you look for it as for silver
and search for it as for hidden treasure,
 then you will understand the fear of the Lord
and find the knowledge of God

                                    Proverbs 2: 1-5

Reprinted at faithwriters.com

Introvert: Over-exposure to stimulation may require a nap to recharge


Extroverts may at times wish that their Introvert spouses or friends came with a set of instructions. If you haven’t had a crash course on “how to understand an Introvert” then it can be confusing when your friend appears exhausted after a simple trip to the shopping mall or when your spouse, who is very talkative at home, barely speaks to anyone at your office party.

Extraversion and Introversion are personality traits. An individual who is said to be extroverted is typically more outgoing, more talkative and seems to have a high level of energy. An introverted individual typically talks less, may avoid large social gatherings, and seems to live life at a slower pace.

It’s all about “energy”. All living things require energy (source of fuel) to function. Some living things require large stores of energy and others not so much. Some burn through their energy sources quickly so they have to refuel often and others reserve energy.

Let’s imagine people as battery operated toys for a moment. A toy that has many functions, such as one that moves in many directions, plays music, and lights up in some way will require a larger supply of batteries than a simple toy that may just play a sound or give off a soft glow of light. What if that toy moves, plays music, and lights up every time someone walks past it? In that case, it may require large batteries that may need to be recharged often. The other toy only operates at the push of a button so the energy source is being used slowly.

Are you beginning to get the picture? Extroverts burn a lot of energy because they are usually more active and outgoing. They tend to jump from one activity to another like the toy that moves, plays music and lights up. Unlike the toy, their battery is actually recharged when they interact with others or when they receive stimulation from their environment.

Ok, now it’s time to help those Extroverts understand their Introvert friends. Introverts are like the toy that reacts only when the button is pushed. They may sit quietly until someone draws them into the conversation by “pushing their button”.  Unlike the extrovert who welcomes stimulation, because it recharges their battery, the introvert avoids over stimulation because it has the opposite effect. Too much stimulation will quickly drain the battery of an introvert. Stimulation may come in many forms. It can be interaction with other people, either by being in a crowd at a gathering or among the crowd while out shopping. It can come in the form of multiple activities, such as household chores, caring for children, running errands, etc. Jumping from one activity to another can be exhausting for an introvert. Stimulation also comes from the noise of the environment. Introverts are sensitive to what they consider “noise”. Having the TV playing while people are trying to carry on a conversation is too much stimulation for many introverts. If you add in the sound of children playing and barking dogs then you will find that your introvert friend may soon need to retreat to the bedroom for a nap.

I have a strong introverted personality and I’m married to an extrovert…. so the source for this blog is mostly personal experience.

I’ll leave you with this.  Introverts are like Glow-Worms. Extroverts need to get out into the sun, but we carry our sunshine inside.

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If you are unsure about where you fall on the “introversion/extraversion” scale, take this quiz.