3 Simple Things to Pray Over Sex in Your Marriage and Why

new blog picI am super excited about this post. I have long admired Sheila Gregoire and her site To Love Honor and Vacuum. I think the issue of sex and intimacy in Christian marriage is not talked about enough, but Sheila has been changing that for 9 years. I had the privilege of writing and sharing 3 things that I pray over sex in my marriage and she has published it today her on her blog.

Here is a sneak peak at it and you can click the link to read the rest:

For most who will be honest, if you have a rocky marriage, sex is the last thing on your mind. Therefore, whether your marital problems started with sex or not, it becomes a big issue or rather the “not having it” becomes the issue adding to marital turmoil.

In my past, I was mistreated and told that a true woman pleases her man sexually no matter how depraved his request may be. There have also been times when I was that woman that used sex as punishment or reward. I’ve also been through the deep pain of divorce. I am happily remarried now. I want to learn from my past and not make the same mistakes. I want to change unhealthy attitudes I have had about intimacy. I also have a very strong belief in the absolute power of prayer. I thought I would share three simple things that I pray over sex in my marriage.

To find out the 3 things I pray over sex in my marriage and why, visit 3 Key Things to Pray Over Your Sex Life.

 

4 Things to Curb Worry When the Kids are With the Other Parent

I remember years ago, sitting in my car at a neutral location, waiting for the visitation exchange with my daughter. I came to realize with time that we were not the only ones to use this particular parking lot. I saw others waiting in their cars. Oh we never acknowledged each other but still I felt connected to them. It was as if we were all proverbial ghosts drifting along at the same place but in our own little world, seeing yet not seeing each other.

Some of you reading this will know exactly what I’m talking about. Still other parents go and pick up their kids for their parenting time and drop them back off when it’s over like my husband does with my stepson. Or maybe you are the parent who gets your son or daughter ready and packed up to go when the other parent arrives like I do with my son.

No matter how you do it, this time, this situation seems to stir up worry. We sometimes worry about issues that may come back with our child. Or we worry if they will have a good time? Will they be upset? How long will it take for them to decompress and settle?

Let’s face it, honestly it is natural to worry when your children aren’t with you. Don’t beat yourself up. For me, the worrying went to another level after my son’s brain surgery, and even now my anxiety creeps up because of it. However, several months ago, during my prayer time, God spoke to me on 4 simple things that have helped me in overcoming my worry and anxiety when my children aren’t with me.

1. Remember the ultimate goal. The ultimate goal should be to make sure the children in the middle get time to cultivate a lasting healthy loving relationship by spending quality time with their other parent. When you keep your eyes focused on that end goal it makes it a little easier to not sweat the small stuff such as how they don’t do the same things you do in your home the way you think they should be done.

2. Focus on the positives and focus on you. Instead of letting your mind obsess over what might be going wrong, try to focus on memories they are making with their dad or mom. Also, this is a time you can be completely selfish. This is a time to go shopping and buy something just for you, or put your feet up and enjoy an UNINTERRUPTED movie (cause you know that don’t happen when the kids are there). If you are dipping your toes back in the dating pool, this time is a great time to go out on a date and get to know someone new.

3. Pray. It is simple but “the prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective”. We pray over so many things in our lives. Why not pray for our children and their dad that God will bless that relationship, give their mom wisdom, and a hedge of protection around them. Prayer is a wonderful thing because it isn’t a menial task or list of wishes. The attitude shouldn’t be well all I can do is pray. It should be an attitude of gratefulness that we have such a powerful tool, to go before the Creator of the universe on behalf of our children in the face of our worry.

4. Remember that they are never alone. This one truth is the most important and has brought so much comfort to me when I just could not shake the worry. God is always there and goes where you cannot! You never send them to the other house alone. There is nothing going on over there that God doesn’t know about.

Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account. Hebrews 4:13

And let’s just go there for a minute. You may be reading this and saying how he or she treats the kids when they are there or how they bad mouth you or all the bad stuff that I honestly know goes on in some homes sometimes. GOD. SEES. THAT. TOO.

Is there any place I can go to avoid your Spirit? to be out of your sight?
If I climb to the sky, you’re there! If I go underground, you’re there!
If I flew on morning’s wings to the far western horizon, You’d find me in a minute—you’re already there waiting! Then I said to myself, “Oh, he even sees me in the dark! At night I’m immersed in the light!” It’s a fact: darkness isn’t dark to you; night and day, darkness and light, they’re all the same to you. Psalm 139:7-12 (MSG)

Being divorced with kids is very hard and yes we are going to worry like crazy sometimes. But it’s important to remember that just because you are no longer together you still have the same end in mind as when you first had children and that is they grow up to be happy, healthy, productive individuals. So do what you can and let God handle the rest.

Ever Asked Yourself What is God’s Purpose for Me?

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How often have you pondered over the question What is God’s will or purpose for my life? or What does God want me to be? I have spent much time pouring over the same questions and honestly the answer seems to change often. I have all sorts of ideas that pop into my head that I want to do or accomplish for the sake of His glory.

I will wake up and have something on my heart and think to myself, yes that’s a great idea God. I’m going to do that! However, the next day my feelings have totally changed or I have an even better idea or plan.Or I feel that maybe my idea from yesterday is just not possible.

During my prayer time the other day, I ran across a verse that has opened my eyes and given me insight to God’s plan and will for me.

The instructions of the Lord are perfect, reviving the soul. The decrees of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise, the simple.   ~Psalm 19:7

There are 3 very important truths in this verse about God’s plan for us

What God wants of me is good and perfect for me.

Doubt can be one of my biggest enemies. But this verse reassures us that God made me with a plan that is uplifting to my soul and refreshing to my spirit. It’s not going to make me feel weighted down and burdened. Jesus says My yoke is easy and my burden light.

I can trust Him.

I can have complete faith knowing that God loves me. He is for me. And His plans are best for me.

God’s plan is simple, wise and uncomplicated.

It’s me who make it complicated. If you are trying to do something that is very complicated and you continually are running into closed doors and road blocks, then that may not be what God wants you to do or maybe it’s not something He wants you to do right now. I’m not saying that some things we are called to do are not hard but God opens doors and makes the way for us.

In the book, Design for Discipleship, Dwight Pentecost says “The word of God claims absolute authority over your life.” And the bible tells us everything we need to know about who God is and who we are in Christ. He wants whats best for you. You can trust Him. It’s just that simple. Look around and think what is the most simple, easy thing I can do where I’m at in life right now. He has placed you there….on purpose.

 

 

Crazy Blended Family Holidays: What’s a Stepmom to Do?

huff-po-christmaIn nuclear families, Christmas can be very hectic. There’s grandparents and extended family to visit and gatherings galore. If you have a blended family, let’s face it. Holidays can all out suck. The delicate schedule gets out of whack. The kids get shuffled and shuttled back and forth more than normal. Even parents can become selfish and accusing. Can you say cray cray?

Often times, stepmoms can get caught up in the middle of the whirlwind. But, hey, relax. The good news is there are still some things you can focus on to keep the season merry and bright without losing your jingle bells.

Focus on the season rather than the day. So much emphasis is placed upon the magical December 24th and 25th. However, if you’re like us, our Christmas is celebrated every other year on December 26th and the world does not end. The season of the holidays is a whole month so get out and enjoy it with the kids whenever you get the chance.

Don’t obsess with when but focus more on how. How to make it memorable. How to make it special for your family. With social media, it is easier than ever to find cool events and seasonal happenings. Last year, we took the boys to a woodworking toy making shop where we learned the entire process of how a limb off of a tree becomes a toy.

Focus on giving to others. For several years, my daughter and I have gotten involved with our local church to assist families in need. Gifts are donated through angel trees and we help them shop, wrap and load up their gifts to take home to their family on a designated night.

Last year, I took the money we set aside for my gifts and donated it to a soldier and his family through Vet Tix. “Vet Tix provides tickets to events which reduce stress, strengthen family bonds, build life-long memories and encourage service members and veterans to stay engaged with local communities and American life.” My husband wrapped the receipt as my gift, placed it under the tree and when we opened presents, I shared the story of the soldier we were helping. There is nothing better to take the focus off of the stress and ourselves like giving to others.

Focus on making new traditions unique to your family. Since we’ve moved into our neighborhood, we’ve tried to make little gifts for our close neighbors and friends and we give them out as a family every year.

For instance, one year I wrapped a can of soda and bag of microwave popcorn in a gift bag and attached a little message card to it that said Pop pop fizz fizz oh what a good neighbor you is. Last year, we decided to make homemade healthy baked dog treats and give them to our neighborhood dog owners.

Instead of having to decorate the tree on a specific day, we always wait and decorate the tree together. Each of our kids has special ornaments that they love to hang on the tree themselves. That way, now matter how the schedule falls, they still feel a part of the celebration of the season.

Focus on the reason for the season. The holidays can mean different things to different families. Christmas for us is a time to reflect on what we value and what we hold most dear and a time to remember the love born on Christmas. What ever makes this season special for your family is what’s important.

We have a special snow white stocking that hangs over the fireplace in front of the rest. All during the season, we write down special things and place it inside its soft shimmery folds. We write things that we are thankful for in each other or maybe something we have seen the other do and we are proud of them, or something that has touched our heart. When we celebrate our Christmas, we read them and try to guess who wrote it or who it’s about. It is one of my favorite times we have together!

I’ve shared about some of our holiday fun and ideas on how to keep the crazy to a minimum. However, there is one thing that should not be the focus. Don’t focus on the negative.  It’s toxic and unhealthy. The holidays with stepfamilies are already complicated so don’t poison it by focusing on the Grinches who would love to steal your Christmas. Reflect on what you value and what you hold most dear, the love that you have for each other.

A Devotional Thought for the Stepmom Dealing With Some Difficult Feelings

a-new-heartAre you a stepmom that is having a hard time right now because of some difficulties you are facing? We have all been there. I wrote this short devotional post three years ago but feel it is still a hot topic for struggling stepmoms.

And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart. ~Ezekiel 36:26

During my engagement to my husband, I scoured the internet reading posts, forums, articles, etc….about blended families and being a stepmom. The relationship with my little 6 year old stepson was very important to me and I wanted to do things right. I remember reading forums, posts and articles about stepfamilies and stepmoms.

I was surprised at how many stepmoms are struggling. There were numerous posts about how the stepmom can’t stand the stepkids, or how the stepchild tries to manipulate to get more attention from their father, or that the husband doesn’t understand.

The thing is, the father and his kids are a package deal.

Maybe you are one of those moms. You may feel hopeless in your family situation but prayer changes things. Maybe it’s not the stepchildren, but your relationship with your husband that needs mending. God doesn’t want your family to fail. God wants your family to be strong, compassionate, and loving. And I truly believe it starts inside our own heart first.

I encourage you to pray for your husband and your children no matter how you “feel”. Ask Him to help you see them through His eyes and ask Him to change your heart. Ezekiel 36:26 is a promise that God will change your heart if you are willing and open. Don’t think for one second that because your family was a product of divorce or brokenness that God thinks less of you or doesn’t want your family to succeed! Remember that Jesus lived in a blended family…

Let God work healing in your marriage and family. Let Him start by giving you a new heart and renewed spirit.

A Special Place-Teen Room Makeovers For Our Kids

When my husband and I got married back in 2008, we were living in the house I had been in since 1998. It was a small 1000 sq ft home with one bathroom and when we combined our families, the five of us were a bit crowded. We both wanted to move and start fresh and after a lot of hard work and nearly a year of searching and trying to sell my house, we moved into what we hope will be our forever home in July of 2010.

I love our house! Growing up as a preacher’s kid, we moved a lot to plant or rebuild churches. I never got to put down roots, so it was my dream to give my children what I didn’t have, raising them in a nice suburban country neighborhood where they could ride their bikes and have other kids to play with and we have been so blessed. In fact, our yard has typically become the gathering place for the neighborhood boys.

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We have slowly made our house a home. Over the summer, we decided to surprise and redo all of our children’s bedrooms while they were gone on summer vacation with their other parent! Keep in mind, I am not one of those brilliant decorating bloggers whose home looks like the completed project at the end of a HGTV episode. However, I wanted to share what we did.

merediths-room

Our daughter, Meredith, was the first to go on vacation with her dad and his family. She is starting her senior year and is also duel enrolled in college. She spends a lot of time doing homework and studying in her room. Her walls were already a pale aqua and comforter set was yellow and gray.

I got my inspiration and ideas for the canopy from Cottage Instincts. We took the bed that I had since childhood and painted it black to match her tall dresser. I found a black TV stand on Craigslist for $10 and made a cushion for it. We turned her desk in to a dressing table (she never used it, preferring to study on her bed), added a little wall art and a lamp and we were done (at least for now).

 

Our youngest son was next to go on summer vacation with his dad. I have written about Luke often and his brain condition, Chiari Malformation. Because of his condition as well as the fact that I homeschool him, he spends a lot of time in his room. He is really into college basketball and his favorite team is NC State, so we decided to give him a red, black and white Wolfpack room.

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I want to give a BIG shout out to my amazing husband. He made the trophy case, painted Luke’s old desk, and the stripes on the walls. The inspiration for the trophy case came from Shanty 2 Chic. We changed out the antique brass handles for modern ones on his long dresser and framed his posters and certificates/awards.

lukes-room

Our oldest son was the last to go on vacation with his mom. He will be turning 14 soon and loves duck camo. The boys once shared a room and we hung their beds from the ceiling to give them more floor space and he wanted to keep his bed that way. We painted three of his walls a camo khaki color and the 4th wall, a deep burnt orange.

We took my old dresser that went with the bed frame from Meredith’s room, gave it a fresh coat of black paint and added new drawer pulls. We covered his bed and corner shelf with duck blind netting. We framed some awards and photos that were special to him. I found this poem, tweaked it and took one of his favorite photos from our trip to the mountains, had it printed and framed.

 

ethans-room

lb-graphicsHowever, the biggest highlight of his room was totally inspired by this awesome blog post on Make Them Wonder. Our wonderful neighbors, Brande and Lee, have a fantastic vinyl decal business L & B Graphic and can make anything! (In fact they made this scripture Joshua 24:15 that has been on the wall in our family room since 2010.) I sent her a picture of the shadow duck hunter and they turned out perfectly. We added reed fencing and LED lights.

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I have read so much about making room in your heart and life for your blended family but I believe it is equally important to make a special place for them in the home. A place, inspired by who they are, where they can relax and be themselves. My husband and I felt that there have been some major changes going on in each of their lives for the past couple of years. We wanted to make a space for them that was stable, comfortable no matter what was going on outside of our home in their lives, a true haven.

It doesn’t have to be a complete makeover like we did. Not everyone has enough space to give each of their kids their own room but you can make a special area for them with pillows, special bedding, pictures, etc… The most special, most wonderful part was the look on their precious faces when they got back and walked into their new rooms for the first time. PRICELESS!!

God Sees The Heart

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I have been going through some difficult times lately. The decisions I am facing do not just impact myself but deeply impact my family. Sometimes, when I am overwhelmed with such trials, I find it hard to write. The emotions are too strong and as I fight to stay in control of them, I clamp down. I’m left with all the struggles, worry, and stress trapped in my head but not allowing them to show. This only increases this weight of the burdens I am carrying.

Adding to it is I can be my own worst critic. Because I am overwhelmed and worried, I beat myself up for being,well, overwhelmed and worried. This leaves me feeling weak and even inferior comparing myself to others that either seem so confident and strong or supremely happy.

A few weeks ago, as I was having my morning coffee and prayer time, I came across some verses and a prayer I had written back in January and it really spoke to my heart. I felt God nudging me to share it, however I have been reluctant to do so.

Sharing that I am struggling requires me to feel vulnerable and although I have a wonderful supportive husband and family, sadly no matter how hard I try to give, share, and love others, there are still those that glory in my struggle. But, maybe I am not alone. My prayer is that in sharing, that it will encourage someone who needs it.

January 5, 2016

  • James 1:5 Ask God for His wisdom and He will give it to you.
  • James 1:16-18 God does not change like a shifting shadow-He gives the good stuff!
  • James 1:22-24 Follow through with what God’s word tells you to do. Don’t forget the new creation you are in Christ. Don’t forget who you are!

Heavenly Father,

I’m asking for Your wisdom to see the situation through Your eyes, so that my heart and my will are aligned with Yours. You do not change. You give the good stuff. I know that with acceptance of Your will, I will find peace. Help me to realize the creation I am in Your image. Father, help me realize my place in Your kingdom. Bind satan from the oppression and inferiority placed in my heart that I seem to wrestle with daily.

It never ceases to amaze me the goodness of God and the perfection of His timing. When I finally decided to share this post, I went back to my prayer journal and found these two verses at the bottom of my entry for that January day.

Proverbs 16:2 The Lord sees your motives. 1Thessalonians 2:4Seek to please God not people for God judges the heart.

Reminding me that it does not matter what others think and even if some revel in my pain, there is nothing He does not see. God sees the heart!

 

What I Can and Can’t Imagine about Melissa Graves, The Mom Who Lost Her Toddler Son, Lane

As I am packing and preparing for our family to go on vacation in a few weeks, I can’t stop thinking about Melissa Graves, the mom whose little boy was snatched by an alligator while vacationing at Disney. I can imagine she was preparing much the same as I am now for her family’s vacation last week.

I can just imagine her, excited with anticipation of the fun, memories and adventures that were coming, as she washed and lovingly folded size 2T socks, pajamas, and everything in between. Moving so methodically, casually from room to room, drawer to drawer.

I can imagine her checking to make sure her little guy had his special blankie or stuffed toy, knowing as mommies do that no one would sleep if it were left behind.

I can imagine her packing sippy cups, Cheerios, and Gold Fish into a smaller bag that would be close at hand in case little Lane let his mommy know he was hungry for a snack. I can imagine her adding a few beeping, button-laden toys to the front pouch of that bag to try and keep him busy or still for about thirty seconds, knowing that her toddler had boundless energy and never seemed to stop moving.

I can imagine her posting on Facebook and social media about her family’s upcoming trip to Florida, maybe even counting down the days or “sleeps” until Disney.

I can imagine her taking one last glance around the house, making sure nothing was forgotten, checking the thermostat to make sure it was set just right and reminding her husband to make sure all the doors were locked and their home was secured.

I can imagine the pleasant exhaustion that she felt as she tucked her children in at the end of each fun-filled, miles of walking, stroller pushing days they had so far.

I can imagine her watching Lane happily splashing in the water, finally occupied for a few moments and in those few moments feeling peace, happiness, and contentment.

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Photo credit: StephanieByrdPhotography.com

What I can’t imagine is the sheer heart-stopping, horrifying fear she felt when realizing he was there one minute and gone the next, like being caught in a nightmare where everything is in slow motion and you can’t run fast enough.

I can’t imagine the agony that she must feel, not being able to scream because it’s so deep inside her with its choking grip making it hard for her to even breathe, much less utter a sound.

I can’t imagine the sickening nausea as she packs away the sippy cups, snacks and toys knowing the round chubby little hands of their owner will never again reach for them. Can’t imagine her folding and packing away soft little pajamas with their sweet baby smell that she had dressed him in the night before.

There are many facets of this unspeakable tragedy that I cannot possibly imagine but sadly it doesn’t make this any less real. The reality is the unimaginable happened and this mom is going home with aching empty arms and a gaping bleeding hole cut through her chest that nothing or no one on earth can fix.

However, although we can’t imagine ever being in the living nightmare that she is going through, we can honor the memory of her son by hugging our children a little more tightly and drinking up every precious moment we have with them whether they are adventure-filled or ordinary. We can honor him by sending our prayers and sincerity, instead of blame and judgement about something we cannot possibly imagine.

As for me, I will be continuing to think and pray for Melissa and her family, thoughts and prayers that she probably never imagined she would desperately need.

How a Coke Revealed to Me What Was Important in my Marriage

Scarcely had I left them when I found him whom my soul loves; I held on to him and would not let him go. ~Song of Solomon 3:4a

My husband and I just celebrated our 8th wedding anniversary. I found a clean white envelope on the kitchen counter simply addressed to my angel. Later, as I placed the sweet card on my desk that he had given me, I noticed a Coke can sitting there. I remembered the day he gave that to me as well.

It had been one of those days. I had come home from work unusually stressed and tired. Trying to scramble to get dinner ready while snapping at my husband who was trying to help me, as he often did. As I was getting the plates and silverware, he gingerly came up to me holding a can of soda. I looked up and it was one of the new “share a Coke” cans and on the side it had the word Soulmate. Eagerly he said, “I want to share this with you over dinner.” Immediately I felt all the tension of the day leave my spirit. Isn’t it amazing how one act, one word can change everything?
Later, my heart felt heavy with guilt as I lovingly rinsed out that soda can and placed it among my special treasures on my desk. How often does my husband get the back seat in our life or after our children for that matter? How often does he get my leftovers? I would never treat others, such as my boss with such disrespect. I know the answer is because at home, I am most comfortable. I feel safe among my precious loved ones enough to let my guard down. But does that make it more excusable?

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Scarcely had I left them when I found him whom my soul loves; i held on to him and would not let him go. ~Song of Solomon 3:4a

It has been a long and difficult journey thru heartbreak and divorce to finding my way to my husband and the same for him. Our dynamic is different because we each have children that we must prioritize. We may not have the luxury for just the two of us to go off on an exotic getaway. The children’s medical bills, braces, college and family vacations come first. However, I can show him he means so much to me, not in the elaborate but in the every day. I can give him my best, my encouragement and support. Set aside a small part of my day just for him.

I want to be my husband’s true mate, a real partner in life and I was reminded of that by a soda can. I pray that I will always be continually reminded. Reminded that showing my husband everyday in some small way that he truly is the one that my soul loves.

This post originally appeared in the Huffington Post and South Africa’s All4Women