A Realistic Guide To Love (Part 7.. The Big D)

Good evening readers! Today was another beautiful day here in Oklahoma City. I got some much-needed rest and I am ready to write!

This evening I am going to touch on a subject that I have lived through, and really don’t like to talk about. Divorce. My mom has been married once, and my dad now has been married once as well. I come from what they call a blended family. My dad I call dad adopted me when I was 8. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

We are almost done with this blog series, which is from an article in the January/February 2011 issue of Relevant Magazine. To start with Part 1, click here.

Enjoy Part 7!

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The Big D

“I hate divorce,” says God in Malachi 2:16. Who wouldn’t Divorce is a messy, miserable experience. And yet it happens. A lot.

When you see persistent problems creeping into your relationship, get help early. Lose any stigma you have about asking a pastor, a mentor couple or a professional counselor for help. There are many happy couples today because they found a good counselor (or several). Divorce is not a possibility any couple should try to face on their own. Divorce can arise from the most painful experiences you can imagine: affairs, addictions, pornography, infertility, mental illness, changes in faith. You may lose the job you always wanted, you may hit a quarter-life crisis, you may feel every ounce of attraction you felt for your spouse has rusted away. Imagine these now, talk about them, pray about them and plan against them. It won’t stop everything, but it will help. Be ready to forgive each other; make it easy to confess to each other.

When life takes terribly hard turns, our tendency is to blame someone. You’ll likely blame someone nearby : either your spouse or God. If you blame your spouse, you load him or her with unreasonable expectations, shame, nagging, hate and a load of unproductive guilt that serves only to drive you apart. So here’s some radical advice: blame God. He can take it. Cry on God’s shoulder, tell Him what hurts and let Him have it–literally. He’s big enough. That phrase “God hates divorce” does not mean “God hates you.” God loves you, no matter what.

If you live past your 20s and step outside your house, you will meet people going through divorce. Divorce can feel like having a limb torn off, like wanting to commit murder, like losing a best friend or like failing. It can also feel like you put on a goblin mask and none of your friends-especially the church ones–will talk to you. A friend facing divorce needs your listening ears more than your advice-blabbing mouth. Be available to listen and learn to listen well. Try stating the obvious rather than ignoring it: “You must be going through a really tough time. Let me know if there’s any way I can help you out.”

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Only two more sections left.. Stay tuned!

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A Realistic Guide To Love (Part 6.. Little People)

Good evening everyone! I hope your Wednesday has been good so far! I am really exhausted, but I wanted to write this out for you first.

We are almost done with this blog series, which is from an article in the January/February 2011 issue of Relevant Magazine. To start with Part 1, click here.

Enjoy Part 6!

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Little People

Many non-parents believe life ends with parenting. Not end like die, just end like the You who had purpose, direction, career, style, humor, friends and romance will dissolve into an unrecognizable smear in the parking lot of Babies “R” Us. Meanwhile, two characters from a movie you never chose to watch will enter your home. These intruders (“Mommy and Daddy”) will hold your life and self hostage.

As if through the slats of the closet where the real You is tied up, you watch Mommy sit around telling friends about stroller  brands, bowel movements, childbirth and Winnie the Pooh. Mommy goes to Mommy Groups. She worries about diaper rash and teething and school districts. She has nothing to say to single men. She shops for little plastic cups of chopped peaches and SpongeBob fruit gummy snacks and calls it enough of an outing for a day. When she climbs into bed she squirms to the far edge of the bed and shrieks: ” Don’t touch me! I’ve been touched all day. All I want is a little sleep!” Mommy definitely, assuredly, is not any fun.

Meanwhile, Daddy goes off, tired, to his nine-to-five job, stopping on the way home to buy diapers, frozen dinners and butt-rash cream. He comes in to find Mommy crying in baggy sweats, a bucket of board books overturned on his favorite chair, baby wipes strewn down the hallway, a Johnny Jump Up blocking his escape to the bathroom. He picks up Howling Baby, who wails louder, poops and is promptly snatched from his hands by teary Mommy. He just wants to leave, even if for an extended research project in the Sahara. Daddy and Mommy rarely look at each other’s faces. When they do, the talk about Baby. It becomes hard to do anything that might lead to another baby.

Parenting doesn’t have to be this way. Yo, your free and joyful life, and your romance can live on, and even thrive, if you know what to expect and how to tackle it.

You will talk about your offspring. A lot. It’s inevitable.  Embrace this, and let it bind you and your spouse together. Parenting has a steep learning curve, but it’s one of the best classrooms about God and life you will ever encounter. Your spouse is there to help you process the day’s lessons.

It is also inevitable that your child will be with you, often right in the middle of you. Get used to it. Don’t wait for the baby to be out of the room to show your love.  Demonstrate love to your spouse through any and all means available to you–repeating baby babble to elicit giggles, carrying out the trash, folding laundry. These can take on a surprisingly romantic glow amidst the mayhem.

Take your life in your own hands. Don’t allow parenting to consume you. Keep those dates coming. Swap babysitting with someone–your child really will survive without you for an hour, an evening and even a week as time passes. Or take baby with. Children travel. Newborns, especially, are remarkably like purses–they don’t care at all about culture shock, new languages or different homes as long as they’ve got you holding them. Starting young will get you trained to continue family adventures as they grow.

And don’t scrap your friendships–with other parents, with your small group, with single and childless friends. A child really is so much better off when raised by  a village. One reason parenting feels like a frightening black hole before we become parents ourselves is that our culture does a rotten job of facilitating relationships outside our own life stage. We all need people besides just our own spouses for processing doubts, fears, questions, hopes and all that. Don’t become an island–let other people watch your children; host small group at your house and let the kids be part of it; don’t feel like you have to leave for bedtime, but let your kids fall asleep at a friends’ house while you stay up talking and laughing together–just like you used to.

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Until next time readers, God Bless!

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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 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 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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