12.15.2011

Live31...


On November 11 of this year, 5 male students from Baylor University, committed to making a change in American Society in its view toward beauty, posted this status update:

“I’d rather have a Proverbs 31 woman than a Victoria’s Secret model.”

Throughout that night, this status was reposted numerous times and as it spread, they saw there was need for more action. They started with a Facebook page saying the same thing as their status updates and they also decided to post a video. In 3 days, they received over 120,000 views on youtube, and their Facebook page grew to over 7,000 likes (now close to 12k).

Naturally, they've received a lot of mixed reactions to their statement. Up front, it seems a bit refreshing given our societies (churched and non) obsession with physical appearance and it puts me in remembrance of a Bath & Body Works ad campaign that was out over 10 years ago in which all of the models were size 12 and above and I remember thinking, "at last! a real depiction of what many look like!" Not a svelte size 2 with boobs 'til Tuesday but rounded thighs and bellies and arms and cheeks, slightly stetch-marked and not as smooth and perky as once before but warm and lusty (oooops...did I just say that?) and welcoming. I am Venus At A Mirror, thank you very much, and live with the reality of that every day and let me tell you, it's a love/hate relationship at best because every woman ~ Victoria Secret model or not, has image issues. Oh yes, she does. Just watch, How To Look Good Naked, sometime and you'll see.

But, more than that, what immediately hit me when I read this little yet powerful statement was this: have all 5 of these university gentleman ever self gratified? Ever looked at porn? Ever shopped at Vicky's Secret store (double entendre intended). Cause I'm thinkin' that would make their statement pretty meaningless if they had and this is why: in the almost 5 years that we've been involved in Christian marriage ministry, we've yet to talk with one man who hasn't participated in any of the aforementioned activities; married or not.

Not one.

Not one.

Not one.

This isn't a judgement; it's a sad reality. And I totally get how childhood wounding and family of origin abuse and abandonment and emotional arrestedness can play a part in why we do what we do; but when one regularly comes in contact with men who are married to Godly women who genuinely strive to be so ~ whether she be a Prov 31 woman or a Victoria's Secret model (both are children of God) ~ and sees that these same men are turning towards indiscriminate sex to be fulfilled instead of towards the woman they're married to, then the statement made by these 5 men is nothing more than a cock and bull story to me.

Let thy fountain be blessed: and rejoice with the wife of thy youth.
Let her be as the loving hind and pleasant roe;
let her breasts satisfy thee at all times;

and be thou ravished always with her love. ~ Proverbs 5:18-19

And....hello....it doesn't even matter what she looks like! We've met men married to drop-dead-gorgeous inside and out women and they still look at porn, self gratify or leave their wife for a pole dancer!

Guess I'm a little jaded.

A few days ago, Michael and I were watching a Christmas movie and towards the end, the main couple got married in a simple ceremony. The mayor ~ who officiated ~ asked who was giving the bride away (Santa, naturally), then for the rings, then pronounced the couple husband and wife. I laughed a bit and jokingly said to Michael, "What kind of wedding was that? No vows." to which he drolly replied, "What's the point of vows? Most people don't keep them anyway."

Ouch.

And hey, I know that there's a lot of good men out there; men who honor their wives and their vows, who genuinely forsake all others ~ including themselves ~ for love of God and their wife, who want to leave a legacy for their children that will protect their hearts and minds and future spouse. I also know that the porn industry brings in more money annually than major league sports and that men aren't the only participants in supplying that revenue. It's a tangled web we weave, people. Has been from the beginning and it doesn't matter if a man is with a Proverbs 31 woman or a Victoria's Secret model; if he has a proclivity to act out....he will because as long as a person continues in the belief that God is holding out on them somehow; that He doesn't want to give them what they really need and as long as people continue to let that be the story of their lives then that's how they'll show up.

So, what do you feel when you read the statement from the guys at Baylor? Does any part of it resonate with you or do you have a different take? We'd love to read your thoughts in the comment section of this post.

11.10.2011

This One Is For You Baby....



"Push"

Every time I look at you the world just melts away
All my troubles all my fears dissolve in your affections
You've seen me at my weakest but you take me as I am
And when I fall you offer me a softer place to land

You stay the course you hold the line you keep it all together
You're the one true thing I know I can believe in
You're all the things that I desire, you save me, you complete me
You're the one true thing I know I can believe

I get mad so easy but you give me room to breathe
No matter what I say or do 'cause you're to good to fight about it
Even when I have to push just to see how far you'll go
You wont stoop down to battle but you never turn to go

You stay the course you hold the line you keep it all together
You're the one true thing I know I can believe in
You're all the things that I desire, you save me, you complete me
You're the one true thing I know I can believe

Your love is just the antidote when nothing else will cure me
There are times I cant decide when I cant tell up from down
You make me feel less crazy when otherwise I'd drown
But you pick me up and brush me off and tell me I'm OK
Sometimes that's just what we need to get us through the day

You stay the course you hold the line you keep it all together
You're the one true thing I know I can believe in
You're all the things that I desire, you save me, you complete me
You're the one true thing I know I can believe

11.09.2011

Cheating Death...


I'm afraid to die.

Afraid of what it will look like, when it will happen, how it will feel, how those I leave behind will manage. I know that death is a part of life and that, as a believer, it isn't the end so much as a transition of going from this life to standing in front of Jesus as quickly as my next breath. Still...it scares me and every day I run from it; fill my life with things and tasks and people and words to try to keep the reaching claw of it at bay.

A couple of days ago I was reading this blog post and I was struck by the author's words:

But we all cheat death every day, don’t we? We cheat it by crafting beauty, or loving someone, or making new life; sometimes we cheat it just by leaving the gun in the drawer, the liquor in the cabinet, the hateful word in our bellies.

We are all of us cheating death, right up to the very end, and then, by the grace of God, beyond that end. The first Adam was the death-bringer, the second Adam is the death-cheater, and now here are you and me, each of us faced every moment with the choice about which we will be, who we will be.

I get so worried about the pain of physical death that I forget how quickly my heart can die too; with a word, a look, an act. Death-bringers, indeed. And that every time I move in love towards Michael or my children; every time I create something with my hands or speak life into someone ~ every time I receive the same from another ~ I cheat death and my heart shines a little brighter.

In her book, One Thousand Gifts, Ann Voskamp says, "Out of the dark, tender life unfurled. Out of my own inner pitch, six human beings emerged, new life, wet and fresh. All new life labors out of the very bowels of darkness. Darkness transfigures into light, bad transfigures into good, grief transfigures into grace, empty transfigures into full. God wastes nothing."

Did you see that? Nothing wasted. No thing. And I realize, in my saner moments when I'm not freaking out about the inevitable, that I've cheated death many many times; sexual abuse, abandonment, illness, death, marriage...each experience moving from a place of complete, throat-clogging darkness to a redemption so sweet I'd swear He had it fixed all along. He's like that, you know?

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. ~ Jeramiah 29:11

10.26.2011

Living Beyond...


If you follow me on facebook, you probably noticed that I've shared some comments about juicing and eating mostly raw lately. This isn't really anything new for me because it's something I've done off and on for the last couple of years but I stepped up my game a few weeks ago after watching, "Fat Sick and Nearly Dead" with our son Jack who looked at me when it was over and said, "Mom. For the rest of the day I only want you to eat fruits and vegetables," which I agreed to do and have pretty much continued since that day. I've lost 7 pounds since then and have been feeling pretty good. Along with this, I've cut out processed food by about 90% and dairy altogether.

It hasn't really been that difficult and I've noticed a marked decrease in cravings for sweets and junk food. I have no problem getting up early in the morning and find that a big glass of fresh green juice gives me more of a lift than coffee ever did (and...without the negative side effects).

I've been making juices for Michael too and next week, we're going on a 10 day juice fast which I'm really looking forward to. Him? Well....he'll do it because he loves me, smile; he's a meat and potato guy at heart but with a willing and teachable spirit thanks to the last 4.5 years.

Something else that's been a big influence for me right now is that my cousin who's just three years older than me was diagnosed with leukemia earlier this month and next month will be the 10 year anniversary of Jeff passing away from cancer. Ugh! Sometimes I just feel like I'm surrounded by all of it and while I know that God is in control of my life, I also know that I can control what I do and don't put into my body; and with an amazing husband and five incredible kids to live for and love on, I want to be sure that I'm as healthy as I can be on the inside.




All that being said I have a really good friend who's been eating a paleo diet (pretty popular right now - just google it) and has been loving it and has lost over 40 pounds in 3 months and so we get together and talk shop about food and diets and organic and grass fed and raw and blogs and recipes and all that good stuff and she told me something about a company called Beyond Organic which was founded by Jordan Rubin who has an amazing health transformation story of his own and is the author of The Maker’s Diet, which you may know of, as well as several other books. I know of his book but have never read it so I really can't comment one way or another about it. All this to say that clearly, God had a hand in the restoration of Mr. Rubin's health and you know us....we're all about restoring; marriages, families, health...even furniture if I try my hand at that some day (which, who are kidding, I probably will. hello craft blog).

So, I'm going with my friend tonight to learn more about what this company stands for and I went on their website today to get directions for where I need to be and as I'm looking around on the site I notice that they had a gathering last month and one of their keynote speakers was a woman named Dr. Caroline Leaf who's written an amazing book called Who Switched Off My Brain which we have and always recommend during our Intensives and have mentioned on our weekly conference calls several times as it's one of the best resources out there explaining how and why the synapse in our brain function the way they do while completely bringing in the correlation to scripture. Yep. Not only is Dr. Leaf a scientist specializing in brain research, she's also a believer. Needless to say, my interest here is high.

I love finding out about how to take care of my body in healthy and delicious ways; and it has to be delicious or what's the point right? And on that note, I wanted to share a little blog site with you that I recently found that is full of great information on alkalizing foods (super important to have your internal environment be more alkalized than acidic) with great recipes and seriously mouth-watering pics. It was started by two sisters. You'll love it.


Completely gorgeous right?!? And if you have a way to stream movies, I definitely want to recommend Fat Sick and Nearly Dead as well as Forks Over Knives; both will definitely get you pausing before you drive through for favorite fast food restaurant.

Sorry. It's just cause I love ya!

8.26.2011

The Woman In The Room...


Michael often has dreams of a spiritual nature; me....not too many. The few I have had, however, have always packed a very powerful punch and the one I had just a few hours ago was definitely one of those. So, at 6:30 in the morning here, with windows and doors thrown open to the light, because light is needed right now, and with coffee brewing in the kitchen I'll share it with you before the details ~ and the message ~ become fuzzy edged and too difficult to relate to another.

I was in the home of a family that I've known my entire life whom I deeply love. We're all sitting around talking and into our midst walks a young woman completely naked except for a long sweatery vest, open in the front, and high heeled shoes. Her hair and makeup are done and she's very pretty; not in a slutty film star sort of way though which gives me pause the first time I see her. And, it's obvious from everyone's reaction that they know her and she's clearly a welcome guest despite the immediate and very obvious discomfort of everyone there.

She sits in the only available space which is, of course, next to me and the further I scoot myself away from her the closer she moves toward me. No one seems to give her much notice and when I can't move away any further I jump up and very vehemently ask who the hell she is and what she's doing here. My question is first met with disdainful looks from the others in the way of, "hey. don't say anything. you don't want to offend her. and, that's not very christian of you." One man jumps up and loudly exclaims, "FINALLY!!! Someone's saying something!"

I look to the elders in the family and ask what they could possibly be thinking by allowing this woman into their home, don't they know that every man here wants to have sex with her; probably even some of the women? And if the latter aren't thinking of her that way they're at the very least comparing themselves to her and telling themselves where they don't measure up.

The man who spoke up agrees that he'd been thinking of her that way and now his wife who's sitting next to him is upset but he's like, come on...what did you think?

It becomes evident that the elder woman allowed her to be there in the hope that her own husband would have sex with her (the whole Abraham, Sarah, Hagar thing and we know how that went down - still feeling the effects today). I, very heatedly, start talking about how seeing this woman in this way is a stumbling block for everyone there, myself included.

Then I woke up. Lay in bed in the dawn light trying to put all the pieces together. Thinking more on each detail and listening to what He was telling me and I've come away with this:

1. often times people who've been sexually abused as children (hand raised) have also experienced same-sex touching at some point in their life (hand raised) and have sometimes struggled with same-sex attraction (hand raised).

2. when something has you in it's grip, it's best to run hell-bent for leather in the opposite direction whenever it comes toward you; commands you to give it your full attention. like joseph running from potipher's wife - he ran right out of his robes in order to get away and stop himself from doing the wrong thing. and a person's struggle doesn't have to be sexual in nature. it could be spending money, drinking, or that glorious chocolate cake on the counter, ooozing sweet buttery frosting .

3. as much as i want to be able to say that i don't struggle with certain things in my life and as much healing as michael has brought healing to me and as often as i've asked God to deliver me from them, i can completely relate to paul's words ~ I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 2 Cor 12:7-9

When I was younger and had less understanding of the Word, I used to believe that the 'thorn in his side' was an actual thorn or some sort of physical ailment. Now...not so much. Since he describes it as, 'a messenger of Satan to torment', I think it's a struggle of the flesh and will; something he had victory over most of the time and something he defaulted to in his darkest moments. Torment of the most insidious kind.

Last night, making love in tears, confessing my struggles to Michael. I felt his complete love for me and mine for him - our acceptance of one another and I wish that was enough . To apologize and really mean it. To ask for and receive forgiveness. To run away from my thorns to the point of nakedness. To accept His grace; sufficient for all. Yet I know those struggles still live within me and I know they'll raise their ugly heads again.

That I would grow wings to carry me away when that happens. Fast and far.




8.12.2011

I Pledge Allegiance...To My Marriage...


As Americans, most of us take a lot of pride in the flag of our country; we place our hand over our heart and pledge allegiance to it, have ceremonial raisings and lowerings of it, fold it in a precise manner....even go so far as to never let it touch the ground lest it and our country be dishonored.

Interesting how many of us don't hold our marriage in such high regard; no protecting one another, very little honoring, and allegiance....what's that? Allegiance to self is more like it. Holding one another with fingers widely splayed so that our spouse can slip through and other things can slip in causing both to slip up.

No standing up for the covenant we made.

We say, "one nation, under God, indivisible..." How about, "one marriage, under God, indivisible..."? Isn't that what we have? One marriage under God? And shouldn't it be indivisible? After all, almost all wedding ceremonies have some variation of, "what God has joined together let no man tear asunder". I daresay that often times that "man" is...us.

So. Where does your allegiance lie?

7.05.2011

Our fourth 4th And Other Observations...


Last week marked the fourth 4th of July we've spent together since our marriage restoration began and when we talk about what our marriage is like now compared to those tenuous first days, well....there is no comparison. Absolutely everything is different: how we think, feel, talk, love, struggle, parent, laugh, cry, listen, trust, surrender, share...everything.

That said, I believe there's one specific area that, more than anything, we continue to be aware of - our own woundedness and the woundedness of others.

For ourselves, our personal wounding ~ what we experienced as children and how it's shown up in our lives as adults ~ is something that we can safely talk about to each other without fear or condemnation. It's something we can continue to let go of and give to God knowing that it only defines us if we allow it to. Either way, it's something that's recognizable when it shows up; something glaringly obvious that we can look at and ~ with grace and truth ~ say "no" to.

6.29.2011

Keeping Your Joy...

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I'm the first one up today. A rarity in our house. Not because I'm not a morning person - I am; it's just that I usually wake to the sounds of cereal scavenging and cartoon network. But this morning....peace. Which is good because I really needed the solitude today; a slice of quiet carved out for a few moments to process the thoughts in my head. I thought about calling a couple of friends who would totally get where I am right now and I know they'd be there for me but I wanted to just sit here and type before I get muddled down in the intricacies of conversation.

Several years ago, shortly after Michael and I were married, we found ourselves in the middle of a full blown crisis involving accusations, detectives, mistrust, lie detector tests...it wasn't pretty. The pastor we sat under at that time counseled me to, "keep my joy" which was not the advice I was hoping for. I sat there with the phone to my ear and listened in disbelief. Pissed off. Was that seriously the best he could do? Hadn't he just heard what I'd told him? deTECtive! LIE detector! YELLing! Where the F does keeping my joy fit in? He had no idea what I'd been living with.

It reminded me of my best friend telling me not to lose hope when Jeff was dying of cancer. I'd never been more angry with her. What did she know? She didn't have to see him fall and never get up again or feel new tumors under his skin practically every day or receive test results that mocked everyone's best efforts.

Last night, I found out that the husband of a dear family friend was diagnosed with a rare malignant abdominal tumor. He starts chemo today. They're both young with two small children...like we were. She said it's going to be a difficult time and she's right. Difficult and scary and precious and happy and uncertain and lonely and incredible and fucked up and surreal and hollow and beautiful. They will feel small and enormous at the same time; pulled and stretched in ways they never dreamed of; tested and refined over and over and over again.

I totally understand what they're getting ready to face and while I may not know a lot I do know this....when someone is living in an abusive marriage, or facing the uncertainty of health issues, or staring at the lid of the coffin that contains a child, or wondering how they're going to feed their family of five with their last $10...hope and joy are barely a blip on the radar and it's easy to stay in the darkest and blackest of places.

This is life. This is marriage. Messy. At times it sucks and you just want to get in your car and start driving in the opposite direction and still....it's always amazing. If Michael and I hadn't been on the brink of divorce we may never have gotten involved in marriage ministry and if Jeff hadn't gotten sick he (and others) may never have accepted Christ. Jeramiah 29:11 says that God has a plan and a purpose in our lives; to prosper us and not to harm us. Were these things part of God's plan? I believe so - not at the time I didn't...I so didn't. Now I know that hope and joy are part and parcel with hurt and sorrow. You can separate the two but will never feel the fullness of either without them being together.

It's a paradox, a conundrum, an oxymoron.

Keeping my joy and not losing hope? I get it now. I really do.

6.01.2011

Do This With Us Today....

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5.26.2011

Are You Thinking About Coming To Our Marriage Intensive? Here's Why You Should Go...

Can you believe we're actually posting a video?!? We know...we know...it's been a while, it's just that we haven't had access to a video camera for a loooong time and our son has graciously let us use his for a bit so we're taping like crazy over here!

A lot of couples We wanted to talk with people about why they should go to one of our Marriage Intensives; you know...things they may be struggling with, how their marriage may look (or not look) right now, the kind of help they may or may not be getting and how that plays into their relationship. Then we talk about what they'll receive at our workshop, the biggest plus ~ in our opinion ~ is being taught by a couple who's actually living out what they teach.





We recently read that about 75% of couples who go to marriage counseling end up worse than when they started or divorced. That's a troubling statistic and one that we can attest to being a part of. Nothing at all against counseling, though the reason this often happens is because counselors treat the couples as individuals instead of as a couple. Interesting.

We hope you'll watch and be blessed by what we have to say and that to know that you can experience change in your marriage. Oh! And please be sure to click the Facebook "Like" button at the end of this post to share this with all of your friends.

Blessings!

5.23.2011

Why Go To A Marriage Intensive...


We recently heard a surprising statistic; that 75% of marriages get worse or end in divorce in spite of marriage counseling. We can definitely say that we fell into that category despite two years of secular and non-secular counseling. We literally spent thousands of dollars trying to get help for our marriage only to watch it free fall towards hopelessness. What we needed was a biblically-based alternative to counseling that didn't address us individually but as a couple and we found it at a Marriage Intensive.

Couples who attend have relationships that suffer from many of the following reasons:
  • they're engaged and experiencing problems with their fiance
  • there's a lack of affection
  • they have issues that always seem to resurface without any resoltuion
  • they're secretly miserable
  • they've become roommates without benefits
  • their needs are ignored
  • they're hardly ever have sex
  • there's been physical or emotional adultery
  • they're feeling controlled and manipulated
  • they resent one another
  • they have discussion that escalate into arguments or screaming sessions
  • they're struggling with addictions
  • they're experiencing verbal, emotional, physical or spiritual abuse
  • they're bored
  • they're staying together because of their family, social pressure, the church, financial reasons, etc.
  • a lack of appreciation
In our bad days, we could lay claim to just about every one of these issues and we were completely battle scared when we stepped into our Intensive on that first day. By the end...we both went home with a sense of hope we hadn't felt in years!

Marriage Restoration Intensives aren't large counseling sessions. You won't be asked to participate in small groups, break-out sessions or have to take homework back to your room each night. Instead, you will receive marriage-transforming principles, based on God's word, that you can take home and apply to your daily lives that will strengthen and renew your marriage.

If you're feeling drained and frustrated or are dangling on the edge of divorce, we urge you to consider attending our next Intensive....it's time to learn how to transform your marriage.

Join us for the next Marriage Restoration Intensive which takes place June 9-12 in Anaheim, CA. Just connect with us to find out more information and to sign up.

It's time...

5.18.2011

Coconut Oil Deodorant...


I absolutely love handmade spa and beauty products; making my own face masks and body scrubs....it's fun, wonderfully economical and I love the herbal smells that fill my bathroom and shower when I use them. There's also the added benefit of actually knowing what the ingredients are that I'm putting onto my skin and since I've heard a lot about the aluminum salts used in many deodorants (to block the pores so you don't perspire) can get into breast tissue and has a potential link with breast cancer. This, in my opinion, makes the use of a natural deodorant even more appealing.

Knowing this, I've tried several over the counter natural deodorants (won't name any names here) that haven't worked for me at all ~ not as far as odor is concerned anyway and who wants to be dry but still smell? "Not I," said the Little Red Hen.

Okay, segue into my journey with raw foods and using coconut oil in my diet for it's many health benefits and I find that it's also used as a beauty product and.....as an ingredient in natural deodorant which you can easily make yourself.


There are recipes all over the net for making this but the recipe is generally the same all around:

4-5 tablespoons of melted virgin coconut oil
1/4 cup baking soda
1/4 cup cornstarch or arrowroot powder (I use cornstarch)
10 drops of your favorite essential oil (I like lavender, tangerine and lemongrass)


Mix everything together (it will have the consistency of thin pancake batter) and pour it into a re-purposed deodorant container or into a small lidded jar. That's all there is to it! Just be sure to keep your deodorant in the refrigerator as coconut oil liquifies in warm temps. When I'm going to need it, after I shower for example, I simply take it out before I get in so that it softens up a bit and goes on easily (be sure to put it back into the refrigerator when you're done). You could also just keep it in a jar in your bathroom, scoop out a small amount when you want to use it and rub it on.

A couple of things to note:

* you may need to rub it in a bit before you get dressed
* a bit of white may get on your clothes if you don't rub it in
* this deodorant works so wonderfully that you can easily go longer than a day without using more. I know this may gross you out but it's totally true.
* it smells WONDERFUL! I remember having my husband smell me several times throughout the day when I first started using it - I was SO amazed by it!


Add a pretty label to your container and make some for yourself to feel pretty and healthy and make some for your friends who will be just as amazed as you are by how well it works!

p.s. a little side note. i've been using this for about two years now and i'll never, ever, go back to store bought - even store bought natural deodorant. they just don't work as well as this. serious!

When He's Not Responding The Way You're Told He Will...


I was visiting Sheila Gregoire's blog today ~ To Love, Honor and Vacuum ~ because every Wednesday she does a little something special with regards to marriage called "Wifey Wednesday" (kinda like our Wellness Wednesday posts) and while I was checking out the responses to what she'd written, I stumbled upon a comment left on another blog that made me prick up my ears....or...er...I guess that would be my eyes.

Anyway, it was this part of a specific comment really resonated with me and I wanted to address it today.

"Stating that it’s a wife’s job to make clear (as in understood by the man) that he IS valuable and safe with her can place a tremendous amount of stress when she’s following all the prescribed rules of wifely behavior and he still doesn’t respond the way she’s told he will."

IMHO, this is the very reason why the word 'submission' imparts an immediate (proverbial) punch to the stomach for so many woman. for so long, the church and books and women's bible studies, etc. have taught wives to have a quiet and gentle spirit towards their husbands, submit to their authority over her, and be sure you have sex with him whenever he wants because 'your body is not your own'.

If this worked, then I daresay the divorce rate within the church would be a lot lower.

In the context of marriage, there's no where in the bible that a wife is called to unconditionally love (agape) her husband or to lay down her life for him; that's a husband's role towards his wife. A husband is called to be many things for his wife and then she's called to respect him and with respect comes submission. And when a husband is fully submitted to God and to his wife, it's an organic response for his wife to be submitted to him and God as well. He needs to go first, though - not the wife. He is a source of life for her just as Adam was a source of life (literally) for Eve.

We once heard someone ask this question: "What would make a bigger difference in the furthering of God's kingdom - 10,000 evangelical events or 10,000 husbands loving their wives with a Christ-like love?"

Powerful!

And this is why: Michael loves me whether I deserve to be loved or not. Unconditionally. I don't always have to be on my game for him or only talk with him about an issue when he's in a good mood; he lives with me in understanding. I'm a proverbs 31 wife because I have a proverbs 31 husband (yep, he's there and I encourage you to reread that proverb with fresh eyes). I respect Michael and am submitted to God and him because he lives his life respectably and in submission to God and me. He pursues me every day as a groom pursues his bride and we are completely safe places for one another.

5.05.2011

Back Rubs & Baked Goods...



Let me tell you a bit about my husband.

He's totally low maintenance
He's an incredible father ~ very caring
He eats everything I cook, even the experiments, and raves about it
He tells me I'm gorgeous every day
He's a really good friend
He does most of the housework and he does it really well
He's sexy as hell
He totally knows me
He takes time out for me whenever I need/want him to
He's great at his job
He once bought me a horse
He never turns me down when I want to make love and doesn't pressure me when I don't
He washes my hair
He's not the least bit pretentious
He's as happy with little as he is with a lot
He loves me like crazy
He knows how to sail
He can get you organized faster than you can say 'rip van winkle'
He'll change poopy diapers and clean up vomit at 3am
He knows how I take my coffee
He can never remember the date of my birthday (for paperwork and such) but never forgets the actual day
He's equally capable wearing a white collar or a blue one; whichever is required to get the job done
He kisses and hugs me in public and admires my cleavage whenever he gets the chance (even in public) sighs heavily when he glances away; knowing my gifts are his and his alone
He drinks milk at every meal, even at a restaurant when we've also ordered a fancy bottle of wine
If I wake up anxious in the middle of the night, he wakes up with me and holds me and prays over me
He rubs my hair every night before bed. Serious. EVERY night.
He knows that I prefer to eat with a salad fork instead of a dinner fork
He washes, folds AND puts away the laundry

Yeah...he's alright (she says with a small smile).

Today is his birthday. He's 45. And he doesn't mind me telling you so it's all good. When I asked him what he wanted to do he said, "just stay in bed all day". I so get that. It's what I did for most of my birthday too and super nice when you're on the go all the time.

I made him a killer breakfast this morning with homemade blueberry, lemon and ginger scones. Heart-shaped.






And when I asked if he wanted a German chocolate cake or red velvet cream cheese brownies, he chose...



Actually, he does want a back rub which will happen later tonight. He wants to fall asleep while getting it. Hey. I aim to please.

5.04.2011

Natural Is Best...


OMG...two Wellness Wednesday posts back-to-back. That's just crazy people! I will relate it to marriage restoration in that Michael absolutely listens to my heart by completely indulging my craftiness in all it's many forms and praising everything I make - my Proverbs 31 husband!!!

So, I love trying homemade skin care recipes and this is my most recent find and since our skin is porous and what we put on it get's absorbed into our bloodstream, I think what goes on our bodies is just as important as what we put into them. Just like the natural deodorant that I make and use. Have I mentioned that yet? It's awesome!

But today, I have a handmade lotion for you so let's get right to it. I don't remember exactly where I found the recipe but the ingredients go like this:
  • 1 cup filtered water
  • 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tbsp grated beeswax
  • essential oil (optional)
As always, I changed it up. I replaced 1/3 of the water with rose water (you can use rose water, orange flower water or brewed tea like peppermint, chamomile or hibiscus - the latter will give a delicate pink color). Instead of evoo, I used a mixture of organic coconut oil and organic avocado oil and I added about 6 drops of tangerine essential oil.

Heat the oil, sans essential oil, in a double boiler using a glass bowl. Add the grated beeswax to the oil and mix until completely melted. Carefully remove the glass bowl from the double boiler and let cool for about 5 minutes.

Put the water into your blender and turn it on. While it's whirling, take the plastic center from the top of the blender lid and slowly pour in the oil and beeswax mixture. It will immediately begin to emulsify. Blend about 30 seconds more then add any essential oil you may be using. You may have to stop and stir/loosen your lotion a couple of times but that's normal and it mostly depends on the strength of your blender.





This lotion is wonderfully creamy and smells soooo good. I use it everyday, even on my face as a mask to moisturize my skin and it's also a great makeup remover!

If you have a local farmer's market that you go to and there's a honey vender there, they probably sell the beeswax. That's how I got mine. This is a whole food product and should last about 3 months at room temp. I don't expect ours to last that long but if you make it and aren't going to use it right away just be sure to refrigerate it.

Tomorrow is Michael's birthday and he's asked for an hour-long back rub. Guess what I'll be using?

5.03.2011

Beach Day...


One of the greatest blessings in our lives is that Michael and I both work from home and we highly recommend it to all who want to try rearranging their lives so that this can be your everyday. I can honestly tell you that we didn't always like working together; it used to be heartbreakingly painful for us both. Our lives are so different now though and we've really come to treasure the time we spend together. We're able to see our boys off to school and be home when they are, we can go for coffee together in the morning, spend a few hours at Disneyland, make love in the afternoon, see a movie, nap, minister to couples, read. Of course, we don't do all of these things every day (someone needs to make money after all) but often enough to enjoy.

Today we took a few hours out of our day to take Daniel to the bay and just relax and play.






We had so much fun and just look at Daniel! He loved being pulled on the boogie board by Michael. I can remember Kathy telling me a while back to give myself permission to enjoy Michael and our kids and I really struggled with that. I know that sounds silly but I needed to hear her say that because I was holding myself back.

Sometimes I still do.

Not that often anymore, though. Definitely not today!

Hope you'll be joining us on the call tonight - we'd love to say hello!

4.27.2011

Kick Butt Smoothie...

It's been a while since I've put up a 'Wellness Wednesday' post. Not because I haven't been trying to eat better or eat raw but because I'm easily side tracked. Just ask my husband. He will agree in the most unconditionally loving way.

We both really liked this though. A tall glass of carrot-y, orange-y, pineapple-y yum.







Isn't she a beauty? No dairy and no added sweetener.

about 2 cups of fresh carrot juice
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
frozen chunks of banana, pineapple and mango (to your liking)

That's it. Bee pollen and flax oil would be good, healthy additions but I was fresh out. Oooo...coconut butter or fresh ginger, or raw macadamia nut butter or fresh papaya. Maybe some mint.

See what I mean?

4.25.2011

A Pattern Set Down...


Most of us can look back over our childhoods and pick out one defining moment ~ intentional or not ~ when we were wounded by our parents or a parental figure. An excuse instead of an apology, absence from an important event, the threat of abandonment, divorce, abuse...name your poison.

Mine was being sexually abused by my grandfather.

Michael's was watching his dad beat his mom.

Yours may not be as overt as ours. We recently spoke with a man whose eldest son is getting ready to graduate from college and, up until now, he wasn't going to go to the graduation. There are lots of reasons that all sound good but deepthat his dad hadn't ever shown up for him; and not just for his own graduation er discussion revealed either. He hadn't shown up for anything. Ever. He was there but not there.

In the same way of most of us, this man (husband, father) had relegated his own hurt to happenstance; a characteristic of his father that just was. Yet here he is repeating the history of a pattern set down by his own father; leaving his wife to make excuses, his son with an open wound and his two other children wondering if dad will show up for them.

Old man, look at my life. I'm a lot like you were...

The more we talk with people and the more we look at our own lives, Michael and I become more firmly entrenched in a belief that the enemy only trifles with us now. His most vicious and damaging work was done when we were children. It was easier for him then; no checks and balances necessary with innocence. no history for kids to compare to. only blind trust.

This is where the sins of the father (or mother) take root and get passed down.





Old man look at my life,
I'm a lot like you were.
Old man look at my life,
I'm a lot like you were.

Old man look at my life,
Twenty four
and there's so much more
Live alone in a paradise
That makes me think of two.

Love lost, such a cost,
Give me things
that don't get lost.
Like a coin that won't get tossed
Rolling home to you.

Old man take a look at my life
I'm a lot like you
I need someone to love me
the whole day through
Ah, one look in my eyes
and you can tell that's true.

Lullabies, look in your eyes,
Run around the same old town.
Doesn't mean that much to me
To mean that much to you.

I've been first and last
Look at how the time goes past.
But I'm all alone at last.
Rolling home to you.

Old man take a look at my life
I'm a lot like you
I need someone to love me
the whole day through
Ah, one look in my eyes
and you can tell that's true.

Old man look at my life,
I'm a lot like you were.
Old man look at my life,
I'm a lot like you were.

4.10.2011

Words With God...

I think that many of us could look back over our lives thus far and find some reasons to not trust God and, probably, there's one really big reason somewhere in there. I know there is for me and it wasn't what I thought it was; at least, not exactly. It was deep though. Buried beneath so many years of guilt and shame and the whole 'honor thy father and mother' commandment that I dared not think it let alone speak it.

Just a few pages into a new book this evening (Women Food God) and a brief conversation with Michael and I was in tears...wailing...over a hurt that runs so deep I've done nothing but run from it since the day it was inflicted. I thought I'd dealt with it and to some extent that's true. Mostly though I've molded myself into someone I'm not sure that I was ever meant to be or, at the very least, someone that I had to be so that I could just...survive. You know how you can remember an event and there's what actually happened and what you believed happened? And Satan is such an exquisite liar that what you believe begins to make sense...to become your truth.

I just lay there crying in Michael's lap while I had words with God about it all. No holds barred words. I don't trust You words. You did leave me. You did forsake me. How could You have let this happen? Where were You? Is this seriously the good plan You had for me? You knew this would happen!!! Why didn't You stop it???

As a rule, this isn't the way I speak to God. I'm mostly gracious and careful, sometimes distracted, always polite. Tonight I didn't care. Tonight my heart was in my throat and I had to speak or choke on my own words. And I didn't get wrath or the cold shoulder or condemnation. I got...comfort. Not in words. I didn't want words. I didn't need words; I'd said enough of my own. It came in the touch of Michael's hand rubbing my back and smoothing the hair from my face. And with his touch the realization that God was using him to comfort me, to sooth me, to ease my pain and reassure me of His love for me. Insert deep wobbly breath here.

I know that there's still more to process and that there will still be more conversations and tears and ups and downs and while all that makes me feel unsteady on my feet, of these three things I'm absolutely sure: that resisting the pain hurts more than the pain itself, that I have an incredible husband who doesn't run away when I'm hurting and that God hears all of my words and He sees me.

He sees me.

4.05.2011

Exciting News...


It has long been the dream of Joel and Kathy Davisson to provide help to hurting marriages throughout the world. When we first found their ministry, there were their two books, one weekly ministry call, a monthly email and the Marriage Intensive in Palm Coast, FL as resources for couples to receive help and support in their marriage restoration. Four years later, there are now six weekly calls for couples, three weekly calls for husbands, two weekly calls for wives, Marriage Intensives in Palm Coast, FL and Anaheim, CA (the latter facilitated by us), MP3 downloads of the books, DVD's of an Intensive, bi-monthly newsletter from J&K, teaching videos on Youtube from J&K and us, our blog, and a 24/7 marriage forum. That's a lot of help!!!

And it just keeps growing. This Thursday, April 7 (at 9am, 6pm and 10pm PST), Joel and Kathy will be appearing on the Daystar Network show Celebration, hosted by Marcus & Joni Lamb. All of us are super excited about this opportunity that God has given to J&K to spread the message of this ministry to an even larger audience so we encourage you to check your local cable listing or go to the site and stream the show live from your computer. Also, you can call in to the ministry line (512.716.6531 access code 981128#) during those times to ask questions of the facilitators and learn more about this ministry.

We're SO excited at the possibility of even more marriages getting RESTORED!!!

3.23.2011

A Prayer Of Wrestling...


I didn't write this though I can really relate to it....a prayer for times when I've wondered if I could walk in faith for one more day; times when I've needed to wrestle with God like Jacob did, or groan to Him like David because of the struggles within my heart.

I'll bet you've been there a time or two yourself...especially if you're married.

When loving means to grapple,
When kindness is a fight, against the self that gives,
And him who takes, when heartache is the payment,
For proffered grace
Lord , hear my prayer

When fury is my bread, and grief the the vim that animates my bones,
When those I love are my foes,
When hate and mercy grapple for my soul,
When I the turncoat am,
The soldier who won’t stand to bear the battle
Lord hear my prayer

When living is a breaking of heart and hope and bone,
When rash, I rave at heaven,

And strike out blindly against the cold,

When I am Jacob, wrestling against the Lord

And lamed by grace, I fall

Lord hold me close,
and be my prayer.

~ Sarah, Thoroughly Alive

3.16.2011

A Devastating Loss...

If you've been following us for a while or have ever heard us on any of our ministry calls, you may know that my first marriage ended because my husband passed away and as heartbreaking as it is to lose a spouse, I can't begin to imagine how devastating it would be to lose a child. If you have, I'm deeply sorry....more sorry than I can say.

A couple of weeks ago, we got a call at 5 in the morning letting us know that the home of our friends, the Hogans, was on fire and two of their daughters were trapped inside. Despite every effort, the firefighters - while eventually getting them out - were unable to revive them and they passed away.

Not only has this family suffered the loss of their children, the home they lived in was lost as well ~ they'll be rebuilding their lives in many ways.

Unbelievably, Extreme Home Makeover is currently looking for a deserving family in Maine - which is where our friends live - to bless with a home and a Facebook campaign has been started to nominate this family. This article in the Sun Journal (their local paper) contains links to the specific facebook page as well as an email address to send your nomination to.

I have no idea what the criteria is for EHM when going through their decision process and, of course, a new home will never bring their girls back, but it could help them begin to rebuild their lives as they walk through this season of healing. Won't you take a moment and nominate them along with us and if you have a facebook page will you please post the link above in your status bar so that your fb friends can join the campaign? Thanks.

3.15.2011

Should Sex Be The Solution...


I’ve been hearing a lot lately about conferences for women wherein the speaker(s) exhorts married women to entice their husbands by actively participate in ‘sexing up’ the relationship between the two of them. You know, things like wearing sexy lingerie, giving their bedroom a romantic makeover, giving their husband a lap dance, incorporating adult toys into lovemaking, pole dancing…you get the idea. All exciting options for a husband and wife to enjoy together and I’m sure Michael would love there to be a pole in our bedroom or to have me on his lap dressed in some diaphanous scrap of nothing (which would quickly be off of me in any case). For us, there’s a deep level of safety and trust that allows for this kind of….expansion… in our sex life which is largely due to the fact that Michael has been proactive in being a godly husband by living with me in understanding, initiating life into our marriage and pursuing me in a loving way.

For a lot of wives, seeking to turn her husband’s heart towards her via sex has been nothing but an unsuccessful attempt to bring emotional closeness and intimacy to the relationship and for them, it's felt like one-sided trampy, slutty sex instead of fun, erotic sex enjoyed by the two of them. And it’s not because she’s not beautiful or sexy or willing.

Recently, I was set to interview a woman who puts together conferences like the one mentioned above; here’s a snippet of an email I sent her:

I'm very much looking forward to interviewing you and learning more about you, your conference and talking about the importance of sex and romance within marriage.

The sexual relationship between a husband and wife is an area where a lot of the couples we minister to struggle; be it from neglect, complacency, abuse, adultery, etc., and this would be something that I would like to get your perspective on, along with a husband's role in helping his wife feel safe enough with him that she'd be willing to deepen her intimate relationship with him and with God as she begins to explore the godliness of being a sexy wife.
In truth, most of the Christian wives we talk with have gone down the "try to be more sexy" road in order to win over their husbands and they've had a very negative experience.

This may be a bit of a different spin on things for you with regard to your ministry; we really talk a lot on a husband's role in the marriage insofar as him being a source of life and strength to his wife, living in understanding with her, laying his life down for her and loving her unconditionally and him being an initiator with her instead of a responder.


I haven’t heard back from her since I sent this over a week ago which I find kind of telling and sort of sad, really. Sex is an important, precious and integral part of a marriage and we teach couples that when a husband is being with his wife the way God calls him to and the way her heart needs, she’ll naturally respond positively; mirroring back the love she receives. As a result, the couple experiences an incredible, organic flow of giving and receiving between them that flows into every aspect of their marriage and makes it better…including the sex. This is what it looks like for Michael and me as we've moved forward in our restoration ~ rather than sex being the solution for keeping us together (which never works), it's become a part of the answer that draws us ever towards one another.

3.12.2011

My Cherie Amour...


I had to get out of the house this morning. Like....immediately. You know those days. I'm sure you've had them. It wasn't because anyone was doing any one particular thing it's just that all of their 'particular things' were driving me crazy and I knew if I stayed I'd quickly become a terrible mother which would then be followed by me quickly becoming a terrible wife so I grabbed my computer and the car keys and drove myself to Starbucks and here I comfortably sit. Except that the music they're playing this morning are all old R&B songs which makes me feel like Jeff is sitting down right next to me so......shit.

There's a bright spot though....a small one but I'll take it. Since I'll be here for a couple of hours I asked the barista to put my latte in a ceramic cup and when I went to the bar to pick it up, he'd made a little heart in the foam. Sweet. Thank you Mr. barista; and thank you God for little love notes. He, the barista, was so happy to do it - gave him a chance to be creative - which I totally get - and he confessed how happy he got when people ordered their coffee in a real cup so that he could give their drink a bit of flair. This was followed by a brief conversation of appreciation of the real vs. imitation, specifically....a book you can hold with pages you can turn and library mustiness you can smell vs. reading on a kindle; putting oil in a pot and filling it popcorn and smelling the steam and shaking the pan over the burner and putting all that white fluffy stuff in a bowl and saturating it with real butter and salt vs. microwave popcorn. You get the idea.

I'm just feeling overwhelmed. So much to do and so much going on. Be still and know seems a vague instruction; something easily brushed aside in the presence of being pulled in so many different directions.

All this to say that I'm not feeling like anyone's "dear love" today...not yet anyway. Perhaps another latte?

3.03.2011

Reaping and Sowing....


"Whatever you give a woman, she will make greater. If you give her sperm, she'll give you a baby. If you give her a house, she'll give you a home. If you give her groceries, she'll give you a meal. If you give her a smile, she'll give you her heart. She multiplies and enlarges what is given to her. So, if you give her any crap, be ready to receive a ton of shit."

While this is definitely comical, there's a ton of truth in it. Just ask any woman you know or, better yet, think of your wife and what she gives you as a result of what you give her. A woman will respond to what her husband initiates so guys, if you don't like the way your wife is being with you at a particular moment, stop and take stock of what you're initiating. If there's something coming up for her you can either bring healing to her heart or break it further.

Reaping and sowing indeed.

3.02.2011

Birdsong...

Today Michael was talking to a husband who is working through the restoration process with his wife and towards the end of the conversation, he told the man, "A woman is like a little bird. If you hold her too tight, you'll crush her. But if she feels safe with you she'll perch on your shoulder and sing a sweet song."

Isn't my man the greatest? Anyway, it reminded me of this little video I found a while back...enjoy!

3.01.2011

A Matter of Lack...


(from Annalea) Michael and I were talking about Christian marriages over the weekend and there's something we've been noticing lately that's becoming really apparent when we talk to other couples and hear their stories. Not surprisingly enough, it's pretty much across the board in these marriages ~ it certainly was in ours ~ and is linked to lack...within the church. Namely:

no lack of the church expecting a wife to be Christlike toward her husband

and a complete lack in the church of expecting a husband to be Christlike toward his wife

Why is this? When did it become acceptable for the bride to pursue the groom? I certainly never heard the story where Cinderella searches out Prince Charming to see if the slipper fits. Doesn't make sense does it? It shouldn't; yet this is the underlying message that gets told over and over again. The result? A lack of husbands who are mature godly men because they don't have a church calling them into accountability when it comes to loving their wives as the Lord calls them to.

(from Michael) This seems to be fueled by an unspoken belief among Christian men that they can't love their wives as Christ loves us, so why even bother? And if a husband's trying isn't that good enough and shouldn't she be meeting him half way? These begin to become excuses for a husband not to obey God or to justify his disobedience. It's practically considered scandalous for someone to point to Eph 5:25 and suggest that a Christian husband actually behave like a Christian husband.

Hard to do? At times, yes. But Jesus doesn't ask us to do anything to make us suffer; that's a narrow-minded view of Christianity. Any suffering in our walk with Christ is only temporary and is part and parcel of the sanctification process that always leads to blessings and glory in Christ. Anyway, most of our suffering is either a consequence of the choices we make or a result of something in our lives that needs to be whittled away.

There should never be a lack in the church when it comes to Christian marriage. Just revisit all the verses in the bible pertaining to marriage, the emphasis is on a Christian husband and Christian wife being mutually submitted to God and to one another; there's no 50/50. There's simply an "all in" relationship between the two which leaves neither one of them lacking. Isn't that what Jesus gives to us? Remember, He wants us to be one with Him as He is with the Father and Christian marriage has always been designed by God to reflect His nature...which never lacks.

2.23.2011

Casting Call...

This might be interesting. We received an email today from a casting producer with Shed Media US, producers of ABC'S "Supernanny", Bravo's "Bethenny Getting Married?", and Animal Planet's "It's Me Or The Dog". They're currently casting a new relationship docu-series for married couples who want to reconnect and rekindle their love lives. The series will involve a 7 day challenge that will include romantic homework assignments and a romantic getaway to recapture the passion that brought them together. They're looking for local Los Angeles couples and there is compensation. By 'local', they mean they'll consider couples within a 30 mile radius of Los Angeles.

If this sounds like something you'd like to find out more about, contact Annette Ivy immediately at aivy@shedmediaus.com or call her at 323-904-4680 x1061

Michael and I spoke with her for about 20 minutes today. There is a sort of selection process and if chosen, there will be filming involved not just of the couple but also of what goes on in their daily lives that contributes to the emotional/physical disconnect they're experiencing with one another; i.e., kids, work, interactions, etc.

2.14.2011

Be Mine....

Believe it or not, Michael and I haven't had an extended period of time together, alone, since before our youngest was born. So when we were planning our trip to Washington for the marriage seminar, we decided to stay over a few extra days and hang out in Seattle.

Today couldn't have been a better Valentine's Day! We spent the entire day together just meandering through the city, going to the Pike Market, nibbling tasty treats, shopping, going to the movies, out for coffee, out for dinner....sigh....so much fun!

We wanted to share some of what today has looked like so here's some pics we took while out today. You'll see the foodie side of me surfacing here and Michael indulges me. He loves it! (he better, smile!).


sweet meringues


my valentine




delicious fresh fish



lovely lobster



our lunch...fresh crab cocktail



vibrant veggies



luscious fresh fruit



the greatest cooking store ever



michael's favorite



like a kid in a candy store



flower loveliness



love this! look at these 'last minute' guys



gorgeous cheeses



we just wanted to taste all of these!



evoo...one of our faves



salty yumminess




Happy Valentine's Day!!!