12.31.2009

Merry Christmas from Our Family to Yours!

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Everybody's Got A Hungry Heart


Before I was born the Lord called me; from my birth he has made mention of my name. Isaiah 49:1

Last night Michael and I were driving to Target (one of my favortie places...smile) and I asked him this, "Do you think that we were in heaven before we were born? You know how it says in the bible that He called us by name even before we were born? To me that kind of sounds like we may have been in heaven before we were here and because of that, we've had a taste of what heaven is. Being here on earth and away from such a place, we all walk around with an emptiness....a hunger...in our hearts that can only be filled by God and because we long to be with Him we keep searching through other means to try to fill the void; something that will bring, if only for a moment, a feeling of wholeness and completeness; love and acceptance."

He absolutely understood what I was getting at though he doesn't think we were in heaven before we were here. He said that because God breathed life into Adam - His spirit - there's a part of Him that is always with us. One of those things you know that you don't know or a feeling that's only a vapor yet deep to the point of an eternal ache that we all long to ease.

I think many of us (myself included) walk around with an emptiness in our hearts that we try to fill with things other than God; things like food, alcohol, sex, drugs, money....and the thing is ~ all of those are temporary and will never fully satisfy. How do we know? Because once the effect wears off we're still empty.

Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare. Give ear and come to me, that your soul may live. Isaiah 55:2-3

I don't know about you but this verse really speaks to me and is one that I've been meditating on a lot lately. I'd never even heard it until recently as I've been participating in a course from Setting Captives Free called The Lord's Table. It's powerful isn't it? And as I continue on and learn how to be satisfied by the bread and the wine that's my Savior ~ the richest of fare ~ I'm beginning to feel the first flutterings of life within my soul and am shaken by the knowledge that my heart no longer needs to go hungry or be empty.

12.28.2009

Make Her Smile


Anyone who knows me knows that I love to make things...I believe "crafting" is the popular term these days and I do enjoy it immensely. I don't partake of every craft that's out there though I'm an avid knitter and have tried my hand at sewing, jewelry making, embelishing, scrapbooking and a few others. My dream is to one day have my own room in the house dedicated just for this very thing. Sigh.....


Of course, there's a whole world out there for people who like to craft and I love to check out various blogs and websites of others who share my passion and let me tell you...there are some amazingly gifted people out there! One of the really fun things I came across not long ago was a site that allows crafters to set up swaps for various hand made items which others of a like mind can participate in. It's super fun and not limited to a single type of craft. One of the most fun swaps that comes up from time to time is a "Smile Package" swap. Basically, one goes to the profile of the person who's been assigned to them and picks a variety of items from this, wraps them up and sends them out. Thus, the receiver "smiles" when she opens the package finding it filled with fun things that she absolutely loves!


I'm telling you it's so fun to get something like this in the mail! And...I think it's a great way for a husband to gain ideas from his wife of those little specialty items that she really wants but doesn't necessarily get for herself. So, listen up guys, I've come up with a list of ideas which you can give to your wife and ask her to add to. Tell her there's no right or wrong, no limit, nothing too silly or too serious. When she gives it back to you, refer to it each week and bless your wife with something from her list. You can mail it to her or give it to her personally. You can put 3-5 things together and give her a bigger "Smile Package" once a month (still remembering to give her a weekly gift, of course that does or does not come from this list) or give her something from it each week.


So, here are the ideas I came up with. Feel free to add another item as you think of it and then present it to your wife to fill out. And be sure to give it to her in a pretty way...nice paper, nice writing, as a scroll, in a card....you get the idea.


Favorite Music/Musician(s)


Favorite Books/Magazines (include favorite kinds too, i.e., cookbooks, craft books, design, etc.)


Favorite Television Programs


Favorite Stores


Gold/Silver/Both


Favorite Accessories


Favorite Scents/Perfume


Favorite Makeup


Favorite Movies


Favorite Crafts


Favorite Snacks


Coffee/Tea/Both (flavors?/blends?/brands?)


Likes


Dislikes


I would absolutely love to see what the answers are for our readers. In fact, if you send your answers to us in the comments section, I will chose someone by January 25th to send a "Smile Package" to by the end of the month.


You'll love it!


And guys, your wife will love it too so hop to it!

12.22.2009

A Husband's Journey To His Wife's Heart



Today we want to share a post with you which was written on Joel and Kathy's marriage forum to a man who's working to win his wife's (who left him about three weeks ago) heart back. It's a great lesson on what the process looks like for a husband as he walks this out.


Get out your pen and paper guys and take notes!


You have your work cut out for you. Making a safe place for a woman who has been lied to, unsafe from your anger and your defensiveness is a long process. Give your effort to becoming the man of God that pursues not only his wife with a passion, but pursues the Lord and becoming Christlike in word and in deed. She is your best hope. She loved you enough to give you Joel and Kathy's book and she loved you enough to give you the opportunity to change.


Now it is time to work as hard as you have worked at anything in your life to take advantage of that love that remains in her heart. There is a lot of hope in this situation. She was unwilling to go forward doing marriage in the former sick dance. She tried for years to get you to hear her heart, which was always God's way of working through your wife to shave off those areas in your life which didn't line up with a loving, Christlike model. But your unwillingness to embrace her as the "the gift" kept you from the happy, hope filled life that all people want, and that comes to those who walk in obedience to the Lord and in the power and strength of relationship with Christ. Be consistent. Be patient with the process, but work your butt off. You can accomplish so much now that you are finally teachable and willing to hear the truth that you rejected for so long.


Are you on the conference calls yet? Those are very beneficial for learning from others questions and the helpers replies. You also will hear other men, behaving badly sometimes on the calls: being defensive, selfish, arrogant. Be careful not to judge them, but instead recognize your own face in their voices. Journal your thoughts in these times, so that when you are able to have conversations with your wife, when she is willing to begin talking to you again, you will be able to recall and share specifics about how you have injured her with your behavior and your attitudes. There are layers and layers of injury. Some quite apparent, and some are more subtle and therefore insidious. Turn over every rock and begin to identify these, because you will be asked to right a list of all the ways you have been a hurtful, uncaring, selfish husband and thereby injured your precious, loving bride.


In the beginning, your words are not to be trusted by her. She needs to see your behavior lining up with your words. Being here on the boards and signing up for an intensive are a very good demonstration of your intentions to work hard and a good faith effort that she can see. Consistent hard work. That is what she needs to see. She will decide when you are safe. You do not get to tell her that you are safe. You just become a safe man. She will know in her spirit, and will make the choice to reengage in dialogue when she is convinced that it will be a positive outcome and not just another opportunity for shallow words, broken promises, deception, and the abusive blaming of her for all your problems.


This is an awesome new journey for you. God is gracious and is the giver of second and third chances. But God does not protect us from the consequences of our previous choices. You need to experience the pain of the cost of the loss of relationship with a loving, good woman. Let that pain sit with you and inform you of all the damage that caused it. Let that information be the beginning of your understanding of what not to do. Let your wife's words and requests be the beginning of your understanding of what to do to become the man that God always intended for you to be. The husband you were always meant to be. The father your children need you to be. She is your help meet. She is the gift of God specifically for you. Thank God for his awesome grace and understanding of just what you needed to become God's man in your journey on this earth.


Isn't it great not to have to hide anymore? You are coming out hiding and out of the deception and lies you had embraced because of your fear and pride and are being willing to embrace your own brokenness and your need of our Lord and the power of the Holy Spirit in your life. Hold on, brother. It is going to be a wild ride, with ups and downs and a lot of twists and turns. Get used to not being in control of the outcome of your efforts. You just do what you know is right for you to do and let the seed of your efforts be watered by your consistency and let God bring forth the fruit In His Time, not yours.


This is great counsel and direction from a wife who's husband has been working to win her heart. As you can see, it's not an easy process though walking the narrow path to Christ isn't without it's difficulties. Still, the reward far outshines those difficulties.


Don't forget to dial in to our marriage ministry call this evening at 7pm (just look to sidebar at the right for the dial in information) to get some help for your marriage or just listen in to discover what it's all about.


Remember, if we can do it...You Can Do It Too!


We pray that your Christmas is blessed and merry and that God would be at the center of your celebration! Merry Christmas!



12.15.2009

Turn That Frown Upside Down













I've often been asked by co-workers, friends and family (namely, Michael) if I'm angry when I'm not angry in the slightest. When I respond with, "Not at all, why do you ask?" I'm told that I look angry and so it's assumed that I am.

I haven't given much thought to this except that usually when I'm asked this it's when I'm busy and am concentrating on whatever it is I'm doing. I guess I get into a kind of zone which shows up as a scowl on my face. And, I've observed over the years, my mom does the same thing and it's something that I find somewhat annoying and the fact that I'm showing up in a similar way is disconcerting, to say the least.

I seriously have no idea why I do this. Apparently, I was doing it last night because Michael brought it to my attention when he asked if I was angry with him. Now, let me just say that I have a cold and I'm pms-ing which ~ ladies, I'm sure you'll agree ~ may constitute a scowl now and then. Nevertheless, wanting to genuinely be about Michael and hear what he had to say (without getting defensive or explaining myself) I asked him to be more specific.

Three years of him listening to my heart hasn't made it much easier for me to not "feel" defensive or the need to explain myself and I know this is my issue as I have a choice not to feel that way. Yet, there it was...rearing it's ugly head. I didn't get crazy or storm off. I did receive what he was saying and took it to heart. He's been blessing me so much and I want him to be happy and blessed with me as well.

Not scowling doesn't mean that I have to wear a plastic smile on my face all the time and change my name to Susie Cream Cheese. It's just an awareness to have a pleasant and welcoming countenance when I'm with people; especially people whom I love and who love me in return. Part of dying to self and being about another even when I don't feel well or am wrapped up in a project.

In a nutshell: More of you Lord...less of me.
















Michael and I sure hope you'll join us tonight on our couples marriage ministry call. It's super easy to participate ~ just dial 512-716-6531 access code is 981128# We begin at 7pm (pst) and go anywhere from 3-5 hours depending on how much help people need. If you'd prefer to just listen in and not speak that's fine, just be sure to mute out your phone to eliminate any background noise.
If you're considering coming to one of our Marriage Victory Intensives, just give us a call at 562-438-7248. Our next one will be held in Anaheim, CA February 18-21, 2010. Space is limited to six couples so be sure to get registered soon.
Remember, if Michael and Annalea can do....You Can Do It To!

12.08.2009

Priceless


Every time you turn around these days, you hear of another person, couple or family who's struggling financially. I can't think of one person we know who hasn't felt the hit of the recent economic upheaval that's affected our country. We're all looking for ways to cut back so that there's enough for the basics and with the holidays upon us well....it may be time to rethink the Wii and replace it with a board game that the whole family can enjoy (I still think homemade gifts are the best and have every intention of making sure that each recipient on my list gets something I've made but that's another post for another time...maybe even another blog). I digress.

I recently spoke with a pastor to whom we'd sent information with regard to our ministry and Intensive information. One of the things he'd noted was the cost of our Intensive and felt that it was a bit high given the current state of affairs. He also mentioned that their church offers many free forms of marriage ministry and yet they still have a shortage of married couples signing up for and attending these venues. In fact, their participating married couples has dropped from 200 active couples to 60.

That's huge.

And I have some thoughts on this. First, they may need to review the material that they're presenting to the couples; a 70% decrease in attendance begs to be reckoned with. Many couples don't want their pastors or other members of the congregation to know that they're having problems (especially if they're in any type of leadership role) and oftentimes, by the time they come in to see their pastor (if they've chosen to do so) they're already so far gone that it's practically impossible to pull them back from the brink.

These same couples may also say that they don't have the money for counceling, marriage workshops and the like. Yet we all know, whether from personal experience or the experience of a friend or family member, the high cost involved in divorce, both monitarily and emotionally.

Can I just tell you, Michael and I spent thousands of dollars towards saving our marriage when we were in crisis and the thing is, it wasn't the money...it was the message which, for us, happened to come from the help that cost the least. That was the message and teaching we received from Joel and Kathy Davisson of God Save My Marriage and it's their teaching that we present at our Marriage Intensives - the same we received two and a half years ago.

In fact, the following information comes from Joel and Kathy's website and, with their permission, I'm presenting it here to you. Now, I've no idea what the teaching and message is of these weekend intensives. What I do know is that they're a lot more expensive then our intensives and it would be interesting to see how their past attendees are doing in their own marraiges (note that the prices also do not include accomodations).

Example #1 Shared Small Group Retreat
You and your partner join one to three other couples to share a retreat together. A maximum of four couples participate. The duration of the retreat is about 14 hours spread over two days, plus about four hours of pre-work and homework. This type of retreat is usually offered on weekends. The cost is $1,300 per couple. Travel, meals and accommodations are not included. (Price Comparison - Our Weekend is $490 per couple.)

Example #2 The Marriage Boot Camp
This Day Program is for couples only. Our Marriage Boot Camp program is run in conjunction with Life Enrichment Boot Camp. Couples will attend both the day and evening program. Marriage Boot Camp times are usually Wednesday - Friday 10:00 A.M. - 11:00 P. M. And Saturday 10:00 A.M. - 10:00 P.M. Marriage Boot Camp attendees will have a one hour lunch break and an hour and a half dinner break each day. The price for attending Marriage Boot Camp is $1,200.00 per couple. (Note: Can be up to 50 people at a bootcamp) (Price Comparison - Our Weekend is $490 per couple.)

Example #3 Weekend Intensive for couples.
All seminars are from Thursday through Sunday and follow the following schedule:
Thurs: 10 am – 9 pm
Fri: 10 am – 9 pm
Sat: 10 am – 8 pm
Sun: 10 am – 5 pm
Cost: $1,998 per couple – (price includes 32 hours of training, 5 meals, COREMap Personality Profile, portofolio and a 10 week follow-up series) (Price Comparison - Our Weekend is $490 per couple.) . Held in a Dallas hotel environment, our four day event begins on Thursday at 10:00 AM and goes through the end of the day on Sunday. You and your spouse are welcome to book a room in the workshop hotel each night, however, you are only required to stay overnight on Friday and Saturday nights.


Example #4 - 3 Day Marriage Intensives
Most couples choose a 3 day Marriage Intensive even when there are serious, complex issues. Most couples struggling with infidelity issues find a 3 Day appropriate. The cost of a 3 day Marriage Intensive is $2795. (Price Comparison - Our Weekend is $490 per couple.)
4 and 5 Day Marriage Intensives: 4 and 5 Day Marriage Intensives are most appropriate for couples who have an uneven commitment level in the relationship. When there are complex step-family issues, a 4 or 5 Day Intensive can be the most helpful. 4 Day Intensives are scheduled throughout the month. 5 Day Intensives are offered only once a month. The cost of a 4 Day Marriage Intensive is $3695. The cost of a 5 Day Intensive is $4595. (Price Comparison - Our Weekend is $490 per couple.)

Of course, Michael and I would love for couples to come see us on the west coast and experience one of our Marriage Victory Intensives. We also realize that there will be couples who only want to see the originators of God Save My Marriage - Joel and Kathy Davisson - and we totally get that! Hey, we saw them when we went to our Intensive and they're amazing! The cost of Joel's and Kathy's Intensive is $590 which is still an incredible value.

If you find that your marriage is in crisis, we urge you to seek help, even if it's not with us. And while we understand that it may still happen, the cost if divorce is great indeed.

The cost of a restored marriage?

Priceless.

12.01.2009

How 'Bout A Quickie?


In my opinion, making love is one of the privileges of marriage. You both can partake of one another whenever and wherever you wish. It's a wonderful way to stay connected and bonded to each other and, I daresay, it keeps the enemy at bay. In fact, I made sure that Michael and I made love before and during (when we got home, of course) our recent Marriage Intensive; the enemy not being a fan of restoration or us teaching about it.

If you've read any of the material from God Save My Marriage or been on any of the weekly calls, (especially Joel and Kathy Davisson's), you'll have heard much talk on a wife blessing her husband with a "quickie" if she's tired or not quite in the mood yet having been blessed by him throughout the day. This is perfectly acceptable and we've been there ourselves on many occasions.

Recently however, at our last Intensive, one of the female participants and I had a bit of a light bulb moment. How about indulging in a "quickie" that, shall we say, favors the wife? I mean, there's no written rule that it has to be just for the two or just the husband, right? And...this would be a wonderful lesson in dying to self for a husband! After all, he's not going to melt if he's not the one who's concentrated on (you know what I mean - just trying to be tactful here)! So, give it go guys and gals. Husbands, bless your wife in this way and bless her often and just see if she doesn't bless you in return! And ladies, don't be afraid or hold back from asking for this.

Michael often says that we're just beginning to scratch the surface on many levels as our marriage is getting restored and I couldn't agree with him more.

In fact, I'm feelin' kinda itchy right now...

Where IS he?!?

11.26.2009

Thankfully Amazed

I've been reading lots of posts today from other blogs where the writer lists the many things he or she is thankful for. And I know that many of you will sit around the dinner table today and tell everyone there what your thankful for as you partake in the tradition of the Thanksgiving Day meal.

I could list a bunch of things as well...the Lord has blessed me and mine in more ways than I can number. But today, to piggyback a bit on my latest Testimony Tuesday post, I'm THANKFUL and AMAZED at the way I love Michael and I thought to share this song with you so that you'd really get my heart in this.

Enjoy!

And....Happy Thanksgiving!!!!




Maybe I'm Amazed At The Way You Love Me All The Time
Maybe I'm Afraid Of The Way I Love You
Maybe I'm Amazed At The Way You Pulled Me Out Of Time
And Hung Me On A Line
Maybe I'm Amazed At The Way I Really Need You

Maybe I'm A Man And Maybe I'm A Lonely Man
Who's In The Middle Of Something
That He Doesn't Really Understand

Maybe I'm A Man And Maybe You're The Only Woman
Who Could Ever Help Me
Baby Won't You Help Me Understand

Maybe I'm Amazed At The Way You're With Me All The Time
Maybe I'm Afraid Of The Way I Leave You
Maybe I'm Amazed At The Way You Help Me Sing My Song
Right Me When I'm Wrong
Maybe I'm Amazed At The Way I Really Need You

Maybe I'm A Man And Maybe I'm A Lonely Man
Who's In The Middle Of Something
That He Doesn't Really Understand

Maybe I'm A Man And Maybe You're The Only Woman
Who Could Ever Help Me
Baby Won't You Help Me Understand

Maybe I'm Amazed At The Way You're With Me All The Time
Maybe I'm Afraid Of The Way I Leave You
Maybe I'm Amazed At The Way You Help Me Sing My Song
Right Me When I'm Wrong
Maybe I'm Amazed At The Way I Really Need You

11.24.2009

Thank God for the Fleas


I once heard a story that Corrie Ten Boom told about the amount of fleas and lice being so thick - literally, swarms - in the bunkroom of the concentration camp where they were that the guards refused to come in which gave Corrie and the others some relief of being beaten and abused by them. Instead of complaining of being continuously bitten and bothered by these pests, they began to thank God for the fleas! In the midst of such deplorable conditions, the women in their bunkhouse drew close to God through His word read by Corrie and her sister Betsie which never would have happened if the guards would have been there. These ladies would have been immediately executed just for having a bible.

Last week, Michael and I conducted our first Marriage Intensive and all we can say is that it was AWESOME! The Holy Spirit showed up in a huge way each day we met with the participants and we were humbled and amazed that He used us to minister to them. One of the cool things about teaching is that in the process, one also learns. During the Intensive Michael and I learned more about each other, we experienced more healing in our marriage, and some memories came up that were still painful and needed fleshing out. It was a precious time.

It's crazy to think that we had to go through all of the pain and difficulties we did in our bad days to get to this place of being closer to the Lord and closer to one another: divorce, death, accusations, restraining orders, foreclosure, abuse, separation, police, mistrust....yet, there it is.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:2-4

And so here we are, in a place of actually thanking God for what we've been through because if not for those times - if not for those bloodsucking, disease-ridden, relentless fleas - we wouldn't be here today, ministering to you and others in your time of difficulty.

That's just SO God!

Our next Marriage Intensive will take place in January 2010 in Anaheim, CA (date TBA). We have room for six couples and would be blessed to have you with us. Until then, here is some of the feedback we received from the participants who attended last weekend. May it reassure you if you're considering coming. Remember to join us tonight at 7pm (pst) for our Couples Call 512.716.6531 access code 981128# and don't forget....

if Michael and Annalea can do it.....You Can Do It Too!


Michael & Annalea, Both of you are great. I am so glad that we got to meet you both. Thanks for teaching me a different way to love Jill; the way she deserves to be loved. You are so knowledgeable about the bible and down to earth. It is not easy to get my attention but you did - thank you! I think you did fix me. You are a blessing in what you are doing. May God continue to bless you both. Tony

Michael & Annalea, WOW! We'd read the books over a year ago and not a big difference in our marriage but in the Marriage Intensive sessions, I feel and am extremely hopeful that it finally clicked and "he got it" and is "getting it"! Thank you both for your warm gentle yet firm and real way of communicating through this Intensive. I'm so thankful for your obedience to our Lord, in your personal lives and in this ministry. Thank you for your humility and vulnerability to share with us your testimonies. May God continue to bless and grow you, your marriage, your ministry and your family and business. Love in Christ, Jill.

Dear Joel & Kathy, Thank you for encouraging Michael and Annalea to step into leading an Intensive. Having been a part of their lives and met often in prior marriage programs and retreats, I can vouch for the transformation that has occurred in their lives. I am so thankful for Michael's call to invite me to this Intensive. Unfortunately, things with my wife have deteriorated to the point that she was unwilling to attend and is seeking a separation. There is no question this is a clue to the extreme abuse I have subjected her to. I have lost her heart and am encouraged to have found a ministry that truly has the answer. My hope and belief is that living it out and following the principles taught this weekend will lead me to healing my wife's heart, becoming the man of her dreams and being the man God has called me to be. D.M.

This weekend Marriage Intensive was amazing. To hear truth spoken through God's word about His design for His children in marriage was life breathing. I feel so refreshed and empowered to march forward in obedience as a daughter of the Most High. Thank you so much Michael and Annalea - it is beyond humbling to be a part of your first Marriage Intensive. Your testimony, realness and authentic love for one another gives so much hope. I am forever grateful that God delivered you to us just in time. Love Laurie.

Michael & Annalea, Your connection and calling is clear and present. You have given hope where there was none and I would say that your 1st Intensive was a Grand Slam Out of the Park! I now have "tools" that I never even knew existed before. I fully expect to continue to struggle with some of the new paradigms taught here though the overall message is quite simple. It's walking it out consistently (in the beginning) that is where the battle front lines are. My commission to "die to self" is all up to me (with grace from the Holy Spirit) to walk out. I cannot thank you enough for breathing new life into a nearly dead 33 year long relationship. Don.

11.17.2009

Bring The Rain

You all may know that Michael and I will be conducting our first Marriage Intensive this coming Thursday. I'll be honest...I'm a bit nervous about it. I want every detail to be perfect. Michael says, "Baby, it's not going to be perfect but it will be perfect for everyone who comes." It sounds like a bit of an oxymoron though I know he's right. God knows what every couple who will be there needs and He'll make sure they get it; it seriously has nothing to do with us. We're just the messengers...as it were. That alone blows us away and any of you reading this who knew us "back in the day" know exactly what I'm talking about.

That's just SO the Lord! as my cousin often says (Hi Roshi!).

That being said, Michael and I appreciate your prayers as we minister to these couples who will soon be with us and ask that you keep them in prayer also. And please join us in asking Jesus to Bring The Rain...


11.09.2009

For Such A Time As This



November is always a difficult month for me. My first husband had his last family gathering on the 22nd (which happened to be Thanksgiving Day in 2001 and he was quite ill), my birthday is on the 24th and the anniversary of his death is the 28th. And even though its been almost eight years since he passed away, all of those dates kind of converge upon one another and that week can still take my breath away.

We never now why God allows trials in our lives except that His word says:

For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jer 29:11

Chances are that we'll never know this side of heaven why sad and tragic events take place in our lives and yet....Do you remember the movie Dances With Wolves? One of my favorite scenes is when the character Wind In His Hair is helping Dances With Wolves get ready to marry Stands With A Fist. Here's what Wind In His Hair says:

You know, the man she mourned for...he was my best friend.

He was a good man.

It has been hard for me to like you. I am not the thinker Kicking Bird is. I always feel anger first.

There were no answers to my questions. But now I think he went away
because you were coming.

That is how I see it.


If Jeffrey and I were still married, I know that we wouldn't be involved in marriage ministry the way Michael and I are; it's not what we were about. If he hadn't passed away I suspect our lives would have continued on much as they did when we were married; in love yet oblivious to so many things. This is a sad truth that I think of often.

I believe that God allowed the difficulties in my and Michael's relationship to break our hearts and draw us near to Him. I think God took Jeffrey away because He knew that Michael and I would further His Kingdom through helping other marriages. I think He took Jeffrey away because He wanted Michael and I here for such a time as this.

That is how I see it.

So, I leave you with this video of one of my favorite songs by Nichole Nordeman. It really doesn't tie in to what I wrote about though it is a recognition of how God is always with us in every situation and that our circumstances don't determine His sovereignty.

11.03.2009

Fear Of Intimacy ~ Part 3



Part 3 of the Testimony Tuesday series we’ve been doing on the Fear of Intimacy picks up where we left off last week: there’s nothing inherently wrong with things such as tasks, hobbies, television programs, etc. The problems arise when those things take the place of and become more important than the people in our lives ~ our spouse and children ~ who need us and our hearts.

C: I really need to look at that. A lot of the times I get stuck in the mode of thinking that whatever task I’m doing is going to benefit my family. I try to press on and get it done but leave my family in the dust when I’m doing it. Even when we first heard of Joel and Kathy’s ministry ~ God Save My Marriage ~ and about mutual submission and husbands serving their wives I would go crazy cleaning the house thinking that was all that was needed. When I’m at work, I’m about my work to get it done and maybe that’s the wrong attitude but I recognize that I’m going about it to get it finished, not to be emotional about it. My family takes that as being distant, mean, violent with my actions, quick. They see me as a mad man rushing around the house trying to get everything done and they think they’re not good enough. I can see where trying to be a blessing can serve my own emotional detachment.

Michael: I can also shift and become the task master in the home and there’s a couple things that Joel suggested I do. He suggested that I allow myself to enjoy doing things with Annalea rather than apart from her. For example, if she’s in the kitchen making dinner I can start doing dishes to help her or just be with her and talk and share a glass of wine and every now and then lean over and kiss or touch her. So, instead of going some other place in the house to get a task done, you can enjoy your wife and still pick up the house. Even with the kids, just sit down and spend time with them while picking up at the same time. So rather than it being a dividing moment, it becomes one of relation.

B (another wife involved in the ministry): I tend to be the same way. I like to do things with my hands and be busy and I add to that perfectionism. A long time ago I heard something and incorporated into my heart a little phrase that I say over and over which is, “People are always more important than things." So if the choice is between someone I love and things, I try to choose people. It’s harder because I can make things perfect, but not people.

Annalea: That’s so right Barbara; people are more important than things and for me the struggle is that things don’t require any emotion of me and so that’s where I’ve had to shift. If nothing emotional is required then it’s all right if I leave it alone for a while. My yarn and needles are going to stand up and say, “Hey! I want you to finish this project now, not it two months!”

And even if you say to yourself, “Well…I’m doing this for my family. I’m working on my car for my family isn’t that important?” While it’s a perk, it’s not as important as your heart and time with them. It’s not such a bad thing that your wife needs you, you know C. And as passionate as you can be about things, you need to become that passionate about your wife.

I once saw a movie in which the husband was complaining about the worst thing in his marriage: that his wife wanted to spend time with him! His friend was telling him how stupid he was for thinking this: reminding him how great the guy’s wife was ~ she’s beautiful, funny, she smells good….and she loves you man! She LOVES you!

Now, in this changing process, it’s totally normal for a wife to feel doubts that her husband even wants to feel passionate about her especially when for most of the marriage he’s been more passionate about things than he’s been about her. I’d encourage her that when she notices it to bring it to his attention. C, you must give L a safe place to do this; it’s not as if what she’s telling you is going to bring you physical harm. Now, we know that dying to self can be painful and at our core we’re all self-centered to some degree and don’t want to do it but it’s for growth and maturity and our betterment. And how wonderful that we have spouses in our life who love us enough to steer us in the right direction. When she does it, don’t take it as criticism or that your failing at something or develop a ‘poor me’ attitude. Just receive it and put a positive spin on it, “I’m so glad you pointed that out to me, Honey. I was really stuck on this one thing with the car and I just need to walk away from it. I’m glad you pulled me away, besides, I’d much rather be spending time with you!” And then, brother, give her a big hug and a kiss so that she knows you mean it!

----------------

Michael and I sure hope you've enjoyed this series on the Fear of Intimacy. Of course, we recognize that there's a lot more to it and have just given our experience insofaras it relates to us personally and our marriage.

Just a reminder to join us both this evening for our weekly marriage ministry call starting at 7pm (pst). Just dial 512.716.6531 and enter access code 981128#. As always it's completely fine to just mute out your phone and listen in though we encourage everyone to speak up and ask questions to get help for their marriage. Please note that Michael and I (nor any of the other people who help out on the calls) aren't licensed councelors or coaches or anything of the like. We've just been where you and your spouse may currently be in your marriage and we want to share with you the knowledge that helped us to get on the other side.

Our November 19-22 Marriage Intensive is filling up! Yay!!! We have two openings still available and would be thrilled if you're one of the couples who signs up for one of these spots. Our Intensive isn't just an 'out patient' procedure for marriages...it's more like open heart surgery because we found that that's what it took to get to the real issues that were at the heart of our crisis days. You can register by clicking the Marriage Intensive tab at the top of our blog, by emailing us at yourmarriagerestored@gmail.com or by contacting us directly at 562.438.7248

Remember: if we can do it....You Both Can Do It Too!

10.26.2009

Fear Of Intimacy ~ Part 2



This week we continue to speak about the fear of intimacy and this comes from my (Annalea's) point of view as it's somehting I struggle with myself. Today we share more of the conversation that took place on our Tuesday night call a couple of weeks ago when we spoke with "C" (the husband) and "L" (the wife) who struggle with this in their own marriage.


Part 2


C (said to Annalea): A lot of what you were just talking about makes sense to me. As a kid, I grew up on the computer or reading books or lost in my drawing pad because I had a hard time connecting with people. The first time I did have a connection, when I was dating L, I didn’t know how it was supposed to play out. I wanted to be friends with her and get to know her and open up my heart to hear. After we got married though, I wanted to play video games for 4-5 hours like I used to do when I was a kid. I could connect to that like you said earlier about knitting or scrapbooking. When I’m done with it I put it down and when I want it I pick it right back up.

Like you were saying, there’s no emotional connection when I work on the car; it’s not requiring anything of me and I get to feel good about fixing something that wouldn’t have fixed itself. I understand a lot of what you were saying and it’s easy to say DIE TO SELF but at the same time how does that play out? How does it click and just happen?


Honestly we can read the words DIE TO SELF in big bold letters and we know that, as believers, that we are all called to do it; it becomes a conscious choice that we make. You have to force yourself at times ~ I have to force myself at times. I’m not kidding. Michael and I both work out of home and Michael is amazing. As far as I’m concerned, I have the best husband in the universe and he serves me and he serves our children and he’s incredible and we tell husbands to be this way with their wife and she’s just going to bless your socks off and there are so many times when I’ll be sitting there doing something I'm totally into and enjoying (knitting, scrapbooking, etc.) and Michael will say, “I’m getting hungry” which is legitimate because it will be close to lunch time and I’m thinking, “…oh crap! This means I need to get up and go into the kitchen and make him something. Can’t he just make himself and sandwich or a damn bowl of cereal? I mean come on can't he see that I'm in the middle of something?” I’m not going to lie to you, these are the thoughts that go through my head sometimes and I catch myself and I think Oh my God, what is wrong with me? That is so selfish! And so what do I do? I die to self and I get up and go to the kitchen and make him something to eat.

Having thoughts like these isn’t wrong. When we get into trouble is when those thoughts turn into how we do life instead of recognizing the thoughts for what they are and making a choice not to live them out. What’s needed is to take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ (2Cor 10:5): I’m not going to be selfish with my husband or selfish with my wife. I’m going to go and make him something to eat or I’m going to go and make her a bubble bath and light candles and I’m going to take her to The Olive Garden and we’re going to enjoy it because that’s what SHE wants. I don’t care that I want to be home working on the car because you know what? The car’s going to be there tomorrow but there’s a very real possibility that your wife (or you) won’t be because we’re not promised tomorrow. This is where dying to self becomes a choice that you make. God, more of You less of me. L is in a position to guide you towards Christlikeness ~ where you allow her, in a safe way, to say to you, “C, you’re in that 'me' mode.” And you reply, “Baby I’m so sorry, you’re right. I’m going to wash up and take you out to dinner,” and you do it and let yourself enjoy her.

Kathy Davisson would tell me all the time, Annalea, you need to give yourself permission to enjoy Michael and your children. It’s okay. I have to remind myself of that a lot. Michael and I will be in bed getting ready to make love and my mind is all over the place and I get so frustrated that all I want to do is turn on the television and zone out. And I say, “No enjoy your husband…enjoy him.” I’ve already lost one husband to death. I don’t want to lose Michael. I want to enjoy him. God’s blessed me with him, God’s blessed you with L. Enjoy her. You might actually have fun in the process. What a concept!

I so recognize this in myself, C. The bottom line is that disengaging and not being emotionally available doesn’t serve you, your family, your marriage or even your children. Is there anything wrong with knitting or playing video games? Not at all. It becomes a problem though when it takes the place of others who need us when, in actuality, we need them too.

10.24.2009

A Burden Lifted, A Heart Healed, A Husband Loved



I really should wait and save this for a Testimony Tuesday post because it's definitely a testimony of the journey that Michael and I are on. I can't though. It's so precious to my heart that I need to share it with you right now.

If you're familiar with our story, you'll know that, in our bad days, Michael would constantly accuse me of infidelity. It didn't matter who, what, where or when. One of the people he accused me of this with was someone very dear to my heart and who, along with his wife, had played a pivotal role in my life after Jeff died. During my third separation from Michael, I shared this with this person and his wife; we were all broken hearted about it. Since then, I've never felt able to partake of the closeness of heart that we all used to share.

It's been a heavy burden on my heart for a long time.

Fast forward to today. Michael and I have a completely different relationship and marriage than we did three years ago and much healing has taken place. And it still is. We're going to be holding our first Marriage Intensive next month and something we decided to do to get the word out was to send out a letter of introduction letting people know about our ministry and our desire to help out other couples.

One of the people we contacted was my friend that I mentioned above. I'll tell you, I was very apprehensive about this. In addition to sending a letter, Michael sent him and his wife an email. In it, he owned what he'd done in the past, sincerely apologized and asked their forgiveness. When I read it, I broke and started crying. I hugged him and thanked him and kissed him and told him that I'd been carrying this burden around for so long. He hugged me and apologized and cried with me. It meant so much to me.

I feel so much lighter now. Safer too. I continue to be amazed at how our marriage has evolved over the last few years; that we've come from a place of utter despair to one of ministering to others and asking them to take a look at hope....try it on for size....to be willing to let it out or take it in as the case may be. I love Michael deeply. I'm blessed that Michael continues to bring healing to my heart and I love God for knowing what I've always wanted to be....

A woman at rest.

10.22.2009

We May Never Pass This Way Again













Today Michael and I went to visit the two facilities we're considering for our upcoming Marriage Intensive next month. We're super excited about the place we've chosen and know that our participants will love it.

But that's not the exciting part...at least not to us.

During the course of our second meeting, we ended up having an opportunity to sit down with the event coordinator and talk with him about this ministry and what the Intensives are all about. Turns out, he's currently separated from his wife and they're both feeling hopeless. Nothing they've tried so far has been working and they're not sure which way to go.

Now isn't that just SO God? I absolutely love how He knows what we need and orchestrates all the particulars. He knew this man needed to hear some hope for the future of his marriage and God used us to give it to him.

We may never see or hear from him again, he and his wife may or may not come to one of our Intensives, visit our blog or get on our calls. That's okay with us though. If we were able to help in just a small way....then we're good!

10.20.2009

Fear Of Intimacy ~ Part 1


This week we’re talking about an issue that comes up a lot on our weekly calls ~ the fear of intimacy. Usually, it seems men are more afflicted with this than women, though I definitely fall into this category myself. Last Tuesday night, we had a great conversation with a couple who we’ll refer to as “C” (the husband) and “L” (the wife). Since it’s a rather long post in its entirety, we’ll be splitting it up over the next few weeks.

C: One of the symptoms of a passive aggressive man is a fear of intimacy; he feels like he can’t share his life and feelings and doesn’t want to get close. He’ll tell you he does but his actions and words say otherwise. I guess I don’t really understand why that would be the case. I want to be with my wife and I love spending time with her and I do love sharing life with her. She says I sabotage any chance we have at that. I don’t intentionally do that. My mind is always there. The whole focus is supposed to be on my wife and I understand that. I want to help myself understand

I asked L to give us an example of a time when C sabotaged the relationship and she shared the following example:

L: On Valentines Day we received a gift card to The Olive Garden. Since there are only 3 of them in our state it would be a bit of a drive to get there and so we would need to leave early to get there at a reasonable hour. C wanted to work on his car that day and had been doing so for most of it. He knew what time we’d have to leave and I would remind but by the time he stopped working on his car it was too late.

Last week was our anniversary and though C made plans they fell through so I helped him out. I gave him an idea and he called to make reservations and get things ready. Sadly, there were no emotional connections or romance at all during the weekend. It’s not as if he doesn’t know what I like either. Even trying to be intimate over the weekend was very very forced – no connection going on. He didn’t initiate any intimacy throughout the day so at night there was nothing there which put a damper on the whole evening and therefore the whole weekend. Instead of initiating things that would make it better, he sat there licking his wounds and feeling bad for himself.

At this point, I muted out our phone and asked Michael if he thought I struggled with a fear of intimacy and he said yes and I said do you think I’m getting better and he said, oh definitely. I think so too though I know it still lives within me so I shared the following with both C and L.

This is something I’ve noticed about myself and the reasoning behind it for me is that if I’m going to be in an intimate situation with someone (not necessarily sexual intimacy) where there’s emotion required of me, I have a difficult time going there; wherever “there” happens to be. If I’m going to allow myself to have an emotional connection with my husband or even with my children, it’s going to require me to step out of my comfort zone. And if I’m going to do that I have to be prepared for whatever shows up; anger, tears, anxiety, correction, worry …anything which is uncomfortable for me and so I’d rather not engage that person on a deep emotional level. It’s very easy for me to be surfacey and say something like, “I just cooked you this incredible meal, isn’t that enough? Why do you have to sit down next to me on the couch and be super close to me and want to talk with me?” That probably sounds really weird coming from a woman but I get like that.

I know this stems from my own arrested development; of being a child who was taught to be seen and not heard so that waves weren’t made between my mom and I or anybody because, I thought, if I became emotional and voiced what I was really feeling than I risked someone getting upset with me. So, rather than risk that I would just be quiet, keep stuff inside and amuse myself or be unobtrusive.

How that shows up now looks like this: me spending an entire day knitting or scrapbooking or being on the computer or making something and feeling frustrated when I have to stop what I’m doing, get up and attend to the needs of my children and even Michael.

Knitting or crafting….they don’t require anything of me. They’re made up of inanimate objects that I work with. They don’t care if I pick them up for a few days and then set them down for two months. They don’t care that I haven’t taken them anywhere or sat down with them for a visit or made love or asked them how they’re doing. Just like with a car. The car doesn’t car whether or not it’s going to The Olive Garden. It doesn’t care if it gets worked on or washed; it doesn’t have any feelings and won’t require anything of C. It’s the same with another couple in the ministry. He loves to be in his garage. He doesn’t come home and connect with his wife ~ he comes home and hangs out in the garage. She goes out there and tries to connect with him and he barely looks at her.

I assert that passive aggressive people have a real fear of intimacy because intimacy requires emotion which can require a level of discomfort and that, I believe (and speaking from my own experience), is what holds us back. I know it holds me back. I’m getting better at it because of the way Michael is being with me now. This is one of those things that Joel and Kathy mean when they teach that as a husband brings healing to his wife her issues will go away and whatever’s left over she’ll work on with the Lord and a lot of this is happening now in our marriage.

Michael and I are over two years into the process and I’m beginning to see a lot of this in myself. Is it still uncomfortable to be emotional? Yes, it is. But I do it. I press in because it’s not about me and that’s the concept that people who struggle with this have to get. It’s not about them; there are others around us who require pieces of our heart for love, for validation, for help, for understanding. To share in life with. And that’s just something that requires constant death to self because it’s a very selfish way to be.

10.19.2009

Southern California Marriage Intensives Now Here



You would have been able to knock us over with a feather if you'd ever told us we'd be involved in marriage ministry just two-and-a-half years after being separated for the third time with divorce papers still hot off the press (or wherever they come from)! Yet, here we are doing just that and being continually amazed at how God is using our story and what we've learned since then to touch other couples and give them hope for their marriage.

You may already know that Michael and I facilitate a conference call each week on Tuesday nights as part of helping to share what we've leaned through Joel & Kathy Davisson's ministry and today we have some fantastic news to announce!

Next month (November 19-22) we will be holding our first Marriage Intensive Weekend out here in southern California! We're so excited to be able to offer this to all of you west-coasters who can't quite make it to Flordia but want to learn how to move your marriage from crisis mode into being Outrageously Happy!

Remember, if we can do it....You Can Do It Too!

Just give us a call at 562.438.7248 or send an email to yourmarriagerestored@gmail.com to reserve your space for this life-changing event during which you'll learn how to Rebuild Your Marriage, Recover From Adultery and Abuse, and Enhance Your Marriage Using the Life Changing Principles that God Taught us.

Michael and I are not licenced councelors in any way. We're a married Christian couple who've been where you may be ~ in complete crisis. Our hearts are to see your marriage restored as ours has been by giving you the tools to do so and sharing with you how we got there.

10.18.2009

Jesus Ate Dates


Tradition is a funny thing.
Last night, Michael and I went to the wedding of a family friend (on my side). She's more than a friend, really. More like a cousin though we're not related by blood...or by marriage for that matter. Her aunt and my mom and been best friends since the 7th grade. Aunt Susie, as they call my mom, has made all of our wedding cakes; the bride's for this wedding, the bride's sister for hers, the bride's cousin (her real cousin, Nicole, the daughter of my mom's best friend) and mine for both of my weddings.

We've all been serenaded by Nicole's father with the same song ~ My Girl ~ and we've all used the same D.J. (as far back as this bride's Bat Mitzvah!) which, I must tell you is something of a joke because he's totally stuck in the 80's which isn't such a bad thing if (like me) you happen to like that era for music. It's just that what he plays isn't the good stuff. With him you get the Chicken Dance, the Electric Slide, Night Fever and the theme from Ice Castles (which he played twice at our wedding despite being told ~ quite vehemently by me ~ not to do and my apologies to any of you who look forward to the Chicken Dance). Now, however, it's just how we roll, to coin a phrase, and our celebrations wouldn't be quite the same without all of these....traditions.

The wedding we went to yesterday was a Jewish one and it was lovely. Not that I've ever been to a wedding that wasn't lovely (and believe me, I've been to a lot because my mom used to decorate cakes for a living) but something struck me this time. It was the tradition of it all....the timelessness, symbolism, the history.

I love to eat dates!

What? How did we go from traditons and wedding to dates? Stay with me here, I promise I'll tie it all together.

Whenever I eat dates I always say to my boys, "You know....Jesus ate dates," to which I get resounding moans of, "Maahhhmmmm....you always say that!" It's true though! I don't just eat dates because I enjoy their shockingly sweet chewiness; I love eating them because I know that my Lord ate them too. I'm sure that each wedding Jesus attended was a Jewish wedding and that He saw and partook in many of the traditions that we did last night. I just LOVE that! I'm sure that Jesus said "Amen!" after each of the Seven Blessings were read by the rabbi over the bride and groom; that He shouted, "Mazel Tov!" when the groom broke the glass and that He held hands with the wedding guests and danced the Hora around the bride and groom with much joy and merriment!

I felt close to the Lord last night.
Just like I do when I eat dates.
Just like I do when Michael prays over me.
Just like I do when I know that the sun I see everday is the same one that Jesus created....the same sun He saw when He walked the earth.
So...go eat some dates.


10.13.2009

The Answer Is Right Before Your Eyes


Passion

Sharing

Love

Loneliness

Companionship

Faith

Vulnerability

Hope

All reasons Michael and I began a relationship with one another 7 years ago. Were they the right reasons? It seemed so at the time. Looking back, however, we see now that while well intentioned, those reasons backfired almost from the get-go because they weren't centered around what God desired for our relationship; they were centerend around our own desires of we thought we needed.

Early in my life I (Michael) reconized my need for a Savior. This came about mainly because of the instability in the home I grew up in; my father and step-father were prime examples of how not to do marriage and fatherhood. I made a childhood vow that I would learn how to love and be a good husband and father from Jesus. After all, He is the author of love and so becoming like Him became my life's passion. When I started dating Annalea, my desire was to pursue her passionately, only I wasn't aware of how to do so in a way that would touch her heart in a positive way. I simply thought that passion in and of it self was more than enough to win her over.

Let me back track a bit. Before I met Annalea I did a lot of self work to prepare myself for the possibility of marriage. During that time I asked God to heal me of all my junk; I read numerous books on relationships and marriage; I went to and volunteered in small groups that promoted Christian maturity and manhood. When it was over I believed I was ready and so when I met Annalea and started dating her I wrote long love letters proclaiming that I would do anything for her. I would buy random gifts that would represent some aspect of our relationship. I would take her on romantic dates.

With me doing all this I thought we would be passionately in love but it didn't work the way I thought it should. Why? Because I was loving her under my terms, even if on the surface it appeared to be good there were always underlying conditions and when she didn't respond the way I wanted her to or thought she should my insecurity would raise it's ugly head and Annalea's heart, along with our relationship, would suffer the consequences.

The following question begs to be asked: If I'm loving my wife who decides if it's in a way that she needs? If I decide then it's conditional and on my terms. If she decides and I recieve what she thinks and feels then she can freely live out her thoughts and feelings in our marriage...with me. Self work aside, my woundedness still showed up in our marriage. Initially, I thought my marriage created problems; what was really happening was that problems within me were being revealed.

Here's the amazing thing though ~ the answer to my pursuit of becoming more Christlike, to being a great husband and father, was right before my eyes. It was my wife!

Guys...the same answer is before your eyes too. The shift in your heart will come when you realize that you're not loving your wife with a Christlike love. Christ doesn't love half-heartedly or blame shift or demand a response or any of this craziness. Make a decision today to truly win your wife's heart and to allow any negative stuff in your belief system and heart to die off.

Remember, if I can do it...You Can Do It Too!

10.09.2009

How Could A Girl Say "No" To This?


Michael and I live in southern California and we grew up going to Disneyland pretty regularly. We love it! The sights, the sounds, the smells....and now to see our kids experiencing it as we did makes it an even more special experience whenever we go. When I came across this video on Youtube I absolutely had to share it with you. It proves to me once again that Disneyland really can be The Happiest Place On Earth!

I doubt that this is the first proposal ever to take place there but I'll bet it's the first one of it's kind. Seriously, how could a girl say "no" to this? I just hope he keeps that kind of excitement alive for his bride beyond "I Do."

Enjoy!




10.08.2009

Never Give Up!

As husbands, you need to be single-minded and passionate about winning your wife's heart; as single-minded as this young man. As passionate, as dedicated, as willing.

How are you going to show up when THE Coach calls your number?


10.06.2009

My Mr. Darcy


Michael and I love period films and one of our favorites is the most recent rendition of Pride & Predjudice by Jane Austen (the one with Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen). Seriously, we can watch it over and over. In fact, on the forum of the marriage ministry we're involved in, our usernames are Miss Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy; names I chose mainly based on the scene towards the end in which Mr. Darcy walks out of the mist with the single-minded determination of declaring his love for Miss Elizabeth.


Over the last two years, Michael has become that "mist"-tical Mr. Darcy for me. A man who tells me each day by word and deed that, "you have bewitched me body and soul and I love...I love... I love you. I never wish to be parted from you from this day on." Let me give you an example.

In my first marriage, there was very little physical intimacy between me and my husband. He felt that our frequencey was normal and the same for most couples. He knew that I wanted more and at one time proposed divorce because he didn't think he'd ever be able to meet my needs in that part of our relationship (just so we're all on the up and up, my first husband and I were very sexually active for the two years before we were married and that all but ended on our wedding night). Being too afraid that he'd leave me if I pressed him, I suffered silently inside because he was great in many other ways and wasn't that enough? F.Y.I. settling is never good enough.

Now, let's talk about emotional arrestedness for a moment. Mine occured when I was 5 and sexually molested by my paternal grandfather. I grew up, believing the lie of the enemy that my worth as a person and as a woman was tied to whether or not a boy or man had sex with me. Each time my first husband refused me it sent me into a tailspin of undesirability, unfulfilled need and worthlessness that I eventually accepted a way of life.

Fast forward to the present. One night last week, Michael and I had made love and were lying next to each other kissing. All of a sudden, emotion swept through me and I began to cry. When Michael noticed, he began to wipe my tears away and asked what was coming up for me. I told him that I'd had a memory of how, when I would be lying in bed with my first husband wanting to make love and would begin to kiss him, he would immediately change the kiss from one of passion to one of 'good night' effectively shutting me down. I hadn't thought of that particular part of our relationship in years.

God's been doing this lately, bringing up memories for me that need healing and He's using Michael to bring that healing to me. My husband held me, kissed me over and over, told me how much he loved and wanted me and made love to me again to solidify the healing he'd so effectively brought to my heart in that moment.

Michael didn't shut me down. He didn't turn away from my tears or become frustrated & jealous by the fact that I brought up my first husband (something he did in our bad days). Instead he made me feel completely safe, heard and loved. He put me above himself. He freed me up to draw closer to him, to release my first husband in forgiveness, to draw closer to the Lord and to share in the mystery of us both becoming one in body and soul.

This is what it looks like when a husband becomes the man that God called him to be. He becomes the husband that his wife needs him to be and the father that his children need him to be. His marriage flourishes and he matures in his relationship with the Lord. I see this in Michael more and more each day and it's precious to behold.

My Mr. Darcy.

If he can do it guys....You Can Do It Too!

Remember to join us tonight for our free weekly marriage ministry call. The fun begins at 7pm (pst) 512.716.6531 access code is 981128# We'd be blessed to have you join us!

In Him!
Michael & Annalea

9.28.2009

Demolishing Arguments ~ Part 2



First off, our apologies for their being no video to accompany this post. Our newer, faster computer decided to succumb to a deadly virus and this one that I'm typing on can't seem to find our web cam so....you'll just have to imagine our faces as you read (smile).


Continuing on with how to demolish arguments in your marriage, I (Annalea) want to tell you of something I experienced with Michael a couple of weeks ago. Let me preface this by saying that in the two and a half years that we've been living this out, Michael has brought A LOT of healing to my heart and our marriage is worlds different than it was and SO much better. There are times, though, when old wounds surface and adjustments need to be made.


So it was that this very thing happened twice in the same day. In a nutshell, Michael made repeated assertions about things he thought I knew (someone's name) and experienced (a particular diet) when, in reality, I didn't and hadn't. What this did for me was to bring up old wounds from our bad days when he thought I was in adultery and would repeatedly claim that I was despite my answers to the contrary. Wow, I can't tell you how quickly I went there.

I (Michael) remember that day. I was asked by my lovely wife if I had noticed a neighbor's weight loss. I replied by saying "You mean George?", to which Annalea replied, "Oh, is that his name?". I pressed a few more times. "You know his name. George". Again she asserted each time that she didn't. At this point I could see in her expression that I hit a nerve so I dropped it. Later that same day I was speaking with my daughter on the phone and the subject of the South Beach Diet came up and I had a memory of Annalea trying that diet so I asked her about it and she told me that she had never tried it. Again I asked if she was sure about that and again she asserted that she hadn't; repeat of our earlier discussion.

Now, the old me would have had to be right and press the point that my memory was correct and Annlea's wasn't. During our bad years this would turn into a full blown argument with me raising my voice and pressing my point until Annalea, tearful and emotionally beaten down, gave up trying to convice me or gave in to my demands.

The difference a few weeks ago was that I was able to recognize that I had hurt Annalea's heart when I questioned her memory and integrity. Instead of arguing with her, I mentioned that I'd noticed how upset she'd become at those two times during the day. I apologized for hurting her and asked if it would bless her if I asked her about something in her life rather than assume it.

Michael has grown tremendously in the last couple of years as a man, a husband and a son of God and I (Annalea) am ever amazed when I experience something from him that personifies this growth. Because of the initiative he took to bring resolution to a situation that could have caused further wounding in both of us, I was validated as his wife and as a woman. He was my hero and our marriage was further restored.

This is how arguments get demolished; a husband goes first by laying down his life (ego, pride, self, etc.) for his wife and loving (ministering, blessing, serving) her as Christ loved the church. He puts her needs and her heart above his own.

Remember, if we can do it....You Can Do It Too!

It doesn't matter what your background is, what your childhood was like, if your marriage is okay or if it's in complete breakdown. It CAN BE Outrageously Happy!

We'd love to welcome you on our weekly marriage ministry calls. Join us tonight at 7pm (pst) to get some help for your marriage, get strengthend and validated. 512-716-6531 access code 981128# If you don't feel comfortable speaking up, it's perfectly fine to just mute out your phone (just press *6 or the mute button on your phone) and listen in. Remember, we're not licensed counselors, we just have hearts for marriages and it's our prayer that our experience will, in some way, bless yours.

In Him,
Michael and Annalea

9.15.2009

The Power Of Words To Hurt Or Heal


"Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body." James 3:5-6

Michael and I have been going through James and last night we read chapter 3 on taming the tongue. Neither of us realized how this would relate to what we read about on AOL this morning with regard to last nights MTV Music Awards show.

Our hearts ached when we saw this. Miss Swift was left speechless and humiliated by the words that Mr. West spoke during her acceptance speech. His words and actions were beyond rude and insensitive; he not only embarassed Miss Swift, but also himself and Beyonce.

In our time within the marriage ministry we've heard a lot of words full of hurt and, I daresay, hate said between husbands and wives. And I'd be lying if I said that Michael and I never said those kinds of words to one another in our bad days. I can remember telling Michael that he was just like his father (a horribly abusive man in every way) and Michael telling me that he wasn't even sure if our baby was his.

I (Michael) remember telling Annalea that I was beginning to get how much I hurt her and that I was fully committed to changing into the man that God has called me to be and the man that Annalea needed me to be. This was a huge promise and declaration on my part and required me to right a lot wrongs. I needed to recognize how I was hurting her and begin to apologize to her with a genuine commitment to changing for the better.

A bit later in the awards show, Beyonce recognized how Miss Swift was hurt and graciously, with words and deed, took action to make it right. With Annalea, whenever I saw there was an opportunity for me to apologize to her I would do it whether in private or in public and at times have been prompted by a scene in a movie we watch together or the words to a song I hear on the radio. I still do this. My whole goal is to bring healing to her heart with words and deeds that uplift her, validate her and bless her.

Whether we speak them or hear them, words mean things and it's our desire that the words we speak on our Tuesday night ministry calls will help and bless you and your marriage. Michael and I hope you'll join us tonight (and every Tuesday night) at 7pm (pst) to say hello and let us know if there's any way we can help. Just dial 512-716-6531 access code 981128#

Remember, if we can do it....You Can Do It Too!

9.09.2009

I Am Married Unto You




When I (Michael) first married Annalea I thought I knew what love looked like and that I was ready to love her with a Christ-like love. I'm discovering that I am just scratching the surface of what this truely looks like. In my journey of being a beliver, nothing in my life has shown me the heart of God more than my learning how to love Annalea in a way that is real to her. I love how Charles Spugeon discribes Christ's marriage to us His bride.

Christ Jesus is joined unto His people in marriage-union. In love He espoused His Church as a chaste virgin, long before she fell under the yoke of bondage. Full of burning affection He toiled, like Jacob for Rachel, until the whole of her purchase-money had been paid, and now, having sought her by His Spirit, and brought her to know and love Him, He awaits the glorious hour when their mutual bliss shall be consummated at the marriage-supper of the Lamb. Not yet hath the glorious Bridegroom presented His betrothed, perfected and complete, before the Majesty of heaven; not yet hath she actually entered upon the enjoyment of her dignities as His wife and queen: she is as yet a wanderer in a world of woe, a dweller in the tents of Kedar; but she is even now the bride, the spouse of Jesus, dear to His heart, precious in His sight, written on His hands, and united with His person. On earth He exercises towards her all the affectionate offices of Husband. He makes rich provision for her wants, pays all her debts, allows her to assume His name, and to share in all His wealth. Nor will He ever act otherwise to her. The word divorce He will never mention, for 'He hateth putting away.' Death must sever the conjugal tie between the most loving mortals, but it cannot divide the links of this immortal marriage. In heaven they marry not, but are as the angels of God; yet there is this one marvellous exception to the rule, for in Heaven Christ and His Church shall celebrate their joyous nuptials. This affinity as it is more lasting, so is it more near than earthly wedlock. Let the love of husband be never so pure and fervent, it is but a faint picture of the flame which burns in the heart of Jesus. Passing all human union is that mystical cleaving unto the Church, for which Christ left His Father, and became one flesh with her.

9.08.2009

Demolishing Arguments Part 1



Husbands don't realize how much power they have to either make or break their marriage and demolishing arguments may seem like an impossible dream. It's possible, however, when they begin to change the thoughts and beliefs they hold towards their wives and embrace the abilities that God has given them as a husband.

God has put into every woman's heart how she should be treated by her husband; the way God calls him to treat her (Ephesians 5:25) and she will reflect back to him whatever it is that he's initiating into the marriage. The quickest way to demolish the arguments that keep arising is to recognize his wife for what she truly is: God's blessing in his life to help him become more Christlike.


video

9.06.2009

Things You Don't Say To Your Wife

Every now and then Michael and I come across something that's just too funny not to share with our readers and this is one of those times.

We were introduced to the comedy of Tim Hawkins this morning and looked him up on Youtube this afternoon where we spent about half an hour laughing like crazy watching and listening to his material.

So have fun and let this be a lesson to you guys; there are just some things you don't say to your wife!

9.04.2009

Getting Help Initiating


In the course of starting this blog, I've had the pleasure of meeting some wonderful people. Today I want to introduce you to Shula of Sensuous Wife. She has a huge heart for helping married couples fully enjoy their physical relationship in, of course, a very sensuous way. In fact, she has a tastefully done online store selling sensual products and her tag line is "Pleasure for wives and the husbands who love them." Of course, we're all for a husband treating his wife like a queen in EVERY way so we urge you to visit her blog and her store.

The following is her response to me based on a question I asked about initiating love making. I wanted to share it because physical intimacy issues come up a lot in our marriage ministry and I want to remind wives how important it is for us to let ourselves enjoy our husbands.

A wife asks: How do I initiate more?

Beloved Annalea asked this great question:

"I'm not the greatest at initiating sex with my husband. I never turn him down and I do make the occassional offer on my own. Though he never fusses at me about it, I know he'd love it if I initiated more. Any ideas?"

Well darlin, my answer is counterintuitive. If you want to really bless him, think about yourself more. I’d encourage you to initiate the things that are likely to arouse you and go for it when you find the sparks fly.

For example:
In the evening, when you step out of the shower and your honey is watching TV, take a hairbrush or comb from the bathroom and walk to the bed still nekkid*, hand him the brush, and say “Baby, brush my hair” and smile. He is very likely to say yes. You’re the only smiling nekkid woman in the room.

Now, this is the most important part: Enjoy it. I mean really enjoy it. Turn your whole focus and attention on your skin and scalp and hair. Lean your naked back against your husband’s chest. Notice how good this simple skin to skin contact feels. Feel the delightful pull of the brush going through your hair. Do not be afraid to sigh and say Ahhhh. Make whatever happy sounds you feel like making.

Now this is the part where your thoughts are so important. Do not allow any other thoughts to enter your head besides “he loves me” and “this feels good” and “I love him”. If any other thoughts enter your mind, let them go, by focusing on your skin and drinking in the sensations.
Imagine your spirit melting into his. Imagine his spirit melting into yours. Pretty soon, you’ll be wanting the rest of you to be touched and petted and fondled.

Move your body to expose whatever you want to be touched. Touch him back. Let yourself drink in the sensation and love you crave. Give your husband the gift of knowing his wife is totally savoring his every touch.

There are some more overt, hot ways to initiate sex and we’ll talk about those in a future post. But first, I want to encourage this more “self-focused” approach. Get very used to the idea of going to your husband for touch that is loving and feels good. Get accustomed to receiving from him and receiving well. Get in the habit of letting yourself become aroused and following it up by seeking an orgasm with your husband. Train your body and your heart to anticipate pleasure with him and you will automatically find yourself initiating more.

* according to beloved Southern humorist Lewis Grizzard, Naked is having no clothes on, Nekkid is having no clothes on when you're up to sumthin'. (grin)

Sensuous...Alive to pleasure received through the senses_+_Wife...Woman committed to enjoying her man and being enjoyed by him...for life