A Realistic Guide To Love (Part 5.. You Got Something To Say To Me?)

Good evening everyone! I hope everyone’s Valentine’s Day was a success. Even though I know it is over, I want to continue the blog series I am sharing.

To start on Part 1, click here.

Just like the last posts, I am taking this information from the January/February issue of Relevant Magazine. It just had some really good stuff that I couldn’t help to share. So, enjoy Part 5!

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You Got Something To Say To Me? (How To Fight Well)

1. Remember You Are On The Same Team

In the middle of a fight, it’s easy to forget that not only do you love this person, you also ultimately want the same things. Remind yourself that you’re in this thing together, and try to figure out how you can help each other get what you both need and want.

2. You Can Stop– Really!

You don’t have to fight and fight until you come to a resolution(or one of you gives up). Take a timeout–especially if one or both of you are internal processors. Write down your thoughts, pray for one another separately and then come back together to talk it out.

3. Avoid Reliving the Same Fights Again and Again

If you’re not satisfied with where the fight ends, you’re going to have it again in a few days. If you hit an impasse, don’t just give up. Set a time to talk later, then come to a conclusion you can point back to. If you can’t agree, bring in a mentor or counselor to help.

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Now I know readers, that sometimes it isn’t that easy. Maybe it could be. The next time you get into a fight with a loved one, think of those three little ideas, and maybe the outcome will be different from what you think.

Until next time readers, God Bless!

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A Realistic Guide To Love (Part 4..Slumps & Ruts)

Good afternoon readers! What a beautiful day it is here in Oklahoma City. The weather is awesome today! I hope that those of you celebrating Valentine’s tomorrow are prepared and ready to go.. I know I am!

Anyway, today we are going to continue the series about love. To start at the beginning click here.

Today we are going to touch on the subject of the slumps and ruts of marriage. Life isn’t perfect. Humans aren’t perfect. So why do we expect them to be?

As I have been doing, this blog series is coming from the January/February 2011 issue of Relevant Magazine. Enjoy!

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Slumps & Ruts

This is where the “marriage is work” stuff really ramps up–everybody has rough patches in their marriage. You get tired. You see their mistakes. There are low-grade, grinding annoyances for both of you.

“Date your mate.” These words have come to us from a bunch of you, wise, well-married folks. Another pithy saying explains why it’s so important: “Familiarity breeds contempt.” It’s easy to start to forget one another, to lose sight of what brought you together. That’s a problem, as it’s often what keeps you together. You must be disciplined in having fun. Make sure it happens, and make sure it’s really fun.

Money causes tons of marital strife. Commit to viewing money as the Bible does. That means no greed, no coveting, no hoarding, no waste and no selfishness. But rather give, save, steward, enjoy, share and use money. When you take the Bible seriously on money, it sets some pretty significant parameters for how you can think about and relate to resources. Talk openly about your spending choices, consider your money yours together (not owned by the one whose name is on the paycheck), and when there is a discord about finances, err on the side of loving your spouse (after explaining your perspective) rather than squeezing the life out of your principles.

Talk about your life, even when it seems boring. Verbally processing lets your spouse know he or she is valuable enough to be in on the decisions and emotions you face during the day.

And listen to your spouse talking about his or her life, even when it seems boring. They’ve trusted you with the emotional energy of telling you about  what happened today, so listen. Learn to ask good questions . Learn to repeat back what they’ve said in ways that say you heard between the lines and you care.

Talk about temptations, and don’t put yourself in temptation’s way. Have  close same-sex friends who you can talk to about temptations and challenges. Watch your attitudes and subtle cues in any relationships with the opposite sex, and give particular attention to ones your spouse doesn’t share.

In the same way you aim to stay faithful to one another, stay connected to church and to a community that supports your faith and your commitment to one another. Find a couple who has walked the walk a few more years or stages than you. Soak in wisdom and perspective by osmosis, then ask questions of those who share your worldview and priorities and are happily married. There’s no shame in finding a small group not just to be a perfect Christian, but because you’re really needy.

Pay attention to what makes your spouse feel loved, and  do it, even if it seems trite or unromantic. Ask what he or she likes– don’t assume you’ve got this all figured out. Those roses you’ve been pouring your savings into might mean far less to her than a foot rub, an evening snuggle in front of a movie or taking her turn washing dishes. And he might really desire more or different sex, or he might be happier if you played tennis together, read to each other, cooked more nice meals or kept a cleaner car.

Two Paths Diverged In A Wood…

Laying our dreams down for another is contrary to most messages we hear today. But if you can’t make sacrifices for your loved one–if you can’t say, “My spouse is more important to me that my dream” — your love will get slammed as you face the tough questions of life.

Questions like who will pay the bills if you both want to go back to school? What if babies come when you have fulfilling jobs but also want someone to stay home?  How will you balance a job offer in Seattle with family in Kentucky? What if you dreamed of moving to Europe, but the years are ticking onward in any direction but there?

Make your dreams and plans together early. Be honest now, so you’re not surprised  later by warring wishes. Talk about how many kinds you want, how far you want to live from home and how important your career is. Then expect these to change. As they do, keep talking to see how things fit, and say how you feel about it. Be honest with your desires, but also willing to give.

When two paths diverge in a wood, you need to take just one. Together.

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Well I hope all of you gained something from that. Have a great day tomorrow!

Until next time readers, God Bless!

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A Realistic Guide To Love (Part 3.. Newlyweds)

Hello again readers! Well we are at part 3 of this series! Isn’t this good stuff? If you wanna start on Part 1, click here.

As I stated in the previous posts, I am taking this article from the January/February issue of Relevant Magazine. This was such a good article, I had to split it up into sections. So… Enjoy Newlyweds no matter what stage you are in.

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Marriage is a funny little ceremony with a lot of special archaic words and rituals and costumes, but at the end of it, your life is different. Dramatically. You have committed to live with someone, love them and serve them for the rest of your living days. This changes your responsibilities and roles not just with this person, but toward the world and God.

So do the deed, have the party, dance a little dance and then what? The honeymoon. Make your honeymoon a significant time to reflect on who you are together. An eight-day honeymoon may not be sufficient time, and maybe a super-luxurious hotel isn’t the best location. You can mentally rope off the first three months of your life, wherever you live, as time to adjust. It can be weird and hard to try to adjust when surrounded by all the same people expecting you to be just the same, especially if you’re on the young side. But don’t escape altogether from community–you will want people you can be honest with and encouraged by. We had the chance to spend our first married months at an intentional Christian community, so we still had healthy community around us, and worked with refugees for three months– a perfect way to start a life of giving.

The sermon at our wedding was all about how love is work, how it takes a lot of sweat equity to build a good, strong marriage. It seemed a bit odd, counter to all the expectations of syrupy sweet gushing that often comes through before the vows. But nothing is more appropriate and more needed at such a time. There was a lot of crying during our first year of marriage. There’s so much to assimilate mentally, so much to adjust to socially, so much to experience physically, that it can be very trying as you get going.

Expect to lose some friends and gain others, but work to not drift from your single friends. They don’t know what you’re going through unless you explain it; they haven’t lived it yet. Don’t blame them for what they haven’t experienced. You haven’t experienced being single at their point in life either. Listen to each other. Keep doing much of the same stuff together, and figure out what looks different between you now that there’s an elephant in the room. (But don’t call your new spouse an elephant.)

Sex. This paragraph will be read at a significantly higher rate than all the others because we all want to know more about sex. It is all of us, naked, vulnerable, excited, scared, longing, worried and more. It is beautiful but hidden and private but shared. Perhaps the grandest theme in our culture today, it is both more complicated and more simple than we’re often led to believe. You might blow each other’s minds all the time, right from the  start. Or it may start off very badly (which is much more likely). But that’s part of the beauty of sex–the co-discovery, the knitting together, the already-and-not-yet of “one flesh.” So enjoy the  goofy ride that it is, whatever route you take together.

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Again, these are some amazing words aren’t they?

Tomorrow we will talk about struggle. Stay tuned!

Until next time readers, God Bless!

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A Realistic Guide to Love (Part 2..Dating)

Good morning readers! I hope everyone enjoyed  Part 1 of this series yesterday. If you missed it, click here.

Again, I am taking this time to give Relevant Magazine’s January/February 2011 issue the credit for the following material. Today we will take a look at the section entitled Dating.

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Call it “courting” for the Victorian allure. Call it “chronically hanging out.” Call it “mate-hunting.” Or just call it dating. Christmas is over, and romance is in the ir as the Big Day of Red, White and Roses approaches. Throughout the years, some have kissed dating goodbye, while others have kissed marriage goodbye. But dating does give you a chance to check people out, see whether you might be a match or if you find each other annoying. On the other hand, chronic short-term dating holds its own challenges and risks, including an unhealthy and unhelpful consumer attitude to relationships, less regard for the needs of the other person and more temptation to touch where you shouldn’t. If you do decide to date, keep a few things in mind.

First off, don’t be Seinfeld. Over the course of that old sitcom, Jerry, George and even Kramer dropped more than a hundred girlfriends, most for little things like shushing or napkin-doodling. Get over these. Realize you will annoy one another. Whatever–love isn’t about finding someone who meets your laundry list of a thousand perfect details.

Next, learn the Mars and Venus stuff– men and women are different. These aren’t straightjackets for how you will (or should) always behave. But you might as well get familiar with the basics and then apply them (with discernment and in addition to other fillers, such as personality profiles and love languages) to help you better understand each other.

That brings us to communication. Do it. Talk about everything. Talk about little things, like the first time you hold hands. Talk about past relationships, current needs and future hopes. Talk about what relationships you saw growing up. It feels weird, but starting with the end in mind helps you start off right. And as you read on, date on and love on, you’ll see that all this is key.

The longer you are in a relationship, the more likely it is you will hurt each other badly. You and the one you love most will probably cause more pain in each other’s lives than in the lives of the other 6 billion people on the planet. Ask forgiveness often, and forgive even more. Because you’re a jerk too.

Oh, and on purity– it’s very difficult to put hard and fast, works-for-everyone rules on this. But waiting until marriage to have sex isn’t about following some outmoded legalistic rule so the virgin bride gets to wear a white dress. It’s about following the caring advice of a God who knows what’s in our own best interest. Having sex feels like a secret and momentary thing at the time, but it’s like getting a 12-inch tattoo across your heart–it will affect you and anyone you’re intimate with for your lifetime. That said, if you have already joined the ranks of the non-virgins, it’s not too late to have an honest talk with God–and then your loved one–about the baggage you’re carrying. Wherever you’re at, give sex the due diligence of commitment it deserves.

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Wow! Powerful words here. They speak a lot don’t they? Hopefully they spoke to you, even if you aren’t in the dating scene anymore. Stay tuned tomorrow for more.

Until next time readers, God Bless!

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A Realistic Guide To Love (Part 1)

Good morning everyone! I pray that each and every one of you will have a great day today.

As I stated in my last blog post, I am sharing with you some articles that I found in the January/February 2011 of Relevant Magazine. The following article I will be breaking up into sections, because it is longer than I want to put in just one post. So sit back and enjoy!

A Realistic Guide To Love (What True Intimacy Looks Like At Every Stage) by Adam and Chrissy Jeske

Love. It’s a word that brings out the sappy in some, the shivers in others and a steely-eyed determination in still others. For everything it is (and everything it isn’t), love is rarely portrayed very realistically. Most of our pop culture–which, really, is where many of us have learned what love”is”–depicts love either at the beginning, during that stage of all-consuming romance, or at the end, in the final throes of soul-crushing monogamy. But we don’t live every day in the extremes; like so many things, love is simultaneously more complicated and simpler than we think. Love is mostly about the mundane, everyday, pragmatic details. This realistic guide to love offers tips and advice on the nitty-gritty in every period of romance, from those early dates, through the “I’do’s,” then on to the first child and the inevitably challenging long haul. We don’t want you to give into rom-com fantasies–but we also don’t want to crush your spirits. Our credentials? We’ve been married for more than 10 years. We have two kids. And we still love each other.

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Well readers, I am excited about sharing another part of this article with you tomorrow. For the record, I have been married a little over a year and a half, and don’t have any kids. I just thought this article would be something that everyone can get something out of.

Until next time readers, God Bless!

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The Saint Behind The Valentine

Good evening readers! Well, it is getting cold here in Oklahoma again. Snow is on its way, so I thought I would sit down and do some writing. This post and some of a few future posts will be mentioning content from the January/February 2011 issue of Relevant Magazine. There are several great articles in there, I just had to share them.

The article I wanted to feature tonight was the article entitled The Saint Behind The Valentine. Enjoy!

The Saint Behind The Valentine

(St.) Valentine’s Day is almost here. But who was the person this Hallmark cash cow is named after?

First things first: No one is totally sure which Valentine is the “real” saint. There were several martyrs who all died around the same time and all claim the day of Feb. 14 as their day of observance.

Here’s what we do know: There was definitely a St. Valentine. And he was probably a priest of some sort in the ancient church in Rome. According to most sources, he performed weddings and helped Christians who were undergoing persecutions under Emperor Claudius II (who was emperor during a long stretch where Christianity was illegal and emperor worship was commanded). He was arrested and imprisoned. According to legend, Claudius II liked Valentine… until Valentine tried to convert him. Then it was off with Valentine’s head (literally).

So what does that have to do with nude, arrow-wielding cherubs and awkward love notes? Well, that’s where the legend part really becomes legend. Apparently, on the eve of his execution, he left a farewell note for his jailer’s daughter and signed it, “From your Valentine.” And, because of his role as marriage-performer, he was made patron saint of happy marriages and romantic love.

Apart from all of the nonsense the holiday has come to summarize, St. Valentine’s story does serve as an example of a radical commitment to Christ. And it’s a powerful testament to the sacred covenant Christian marriage  can be–if Valentine really died for performing weddings, it seems appropriate that the day would, in the end, remember him.

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So readers, what do you think? What are you doing for Valentine’s Day?

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Should Churches Be More Like Starbucks?

Good evening readers! I have been reading things on the internet for the last half hour or so, and came across this article I really had to share with you.

Some of you may have heard recently that Starbucks is coming out with a new size of cup called the Trenta. This cup is around 32oz and will start rolling out on Feb. 1st in select markets.

After I read about this, I posed the question to myself.. Is Starbucks a Christian company? I really wasn’t able to find anything, but I did find the following article that I would like to share.

Enjoy!

Should churches be more like Starbucks?

Oct 21, 2010 by Adam J. Copeland

My local Starbucks—and probably yours too—has a large sign on each door that proclaims, “Take comfort in rituals.” When I’m being cynical, I read it as a multinational company preying on our cultural longing for meaning by suggesting we can buy happiness with a $4 cup of coffee.

But when you know at least six local Starbucks employees, it’s harder to be cynical once you’re through the door, especially when they greet you by name, ask how your day is going and even give you free drinks from time to time just because. . .well, just because. As Beau Weston observes, these Starbucks employees are at least acquaintances if not on the way to being friends.

So maybe we in the church could move on from our cynical first reactions and take Starbucks’s advice and run with it.

Starbucks seeks to be a welcoming place where community can thrive. A Friday business meeting or sermon-writing time can be especially enjoyable at a coffee shop. Book groups meet at our local coffee shop, as does a knitting group, bicycle club and countless university study groups.

There are plenty of rituals in our congregations too, but many of them fail to welcome as well as some coffee shops. Do our churches judge visitors before they walk in the door? Do our congregations offer rituals that feed and connect to the present day or ones that merely echo past significance?

Are we seeking to make new rituals in our sacred places of worship, welcoming folks by name, hosting groups, sharing free meals? Or are we selling God short?

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What are you thoughts? What would happen if our church would get more connected with the people who attend there?

Until next time readers, God Bless!

*** STILL LOOKING FOR GUEST WRITERS!! ***

*** Original blog post found here ***

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