This is a big issue with a lot of wives. They say it makes them feel distant from their husband and leaves them feeling like they can’t connect. Major strife is triggered by this frustration. Whether it is due to societal pressure in their upbringing or just a fact of their personality, many men find it hard or impossible to share their feelings, especially verbally. They don’t want to talk about it even with their buddies. They don’t feel better when they do. They tend to be uncomfortable with the pressure to do it.
Many women feel relieved, unburdened even more loved when they are able to cry or talk out their emotions with someone. It makes us feel closer to the person who shares these moments with us and reciprocates the honesty and vulnerability in these moments. For many men, this positive result is not the case. They just feel messy, almost like bringing it out and exposing it makes it worse.
So if you are married to one of these strong, silent, stoic types, you may feel as if true intimacy is out of reach. It might lead you to feelings of being shut out, or neglected, or walled-off. It can hurt you. Let me propose an alternative to this; a door to seeing his inner heart without unsettling his willingness to open up his soul. This is a way to know him intimately without forcing him to pull back.
What if I told you this was possible even with out him spilling his guts and feeling cornered. Sometimes he is sharing his heart without words…at least not in your language. If you learn to listen, you can learn to interpret for him. I want you to think about the fact that there are many different ways for men to express what is going on in their heart and minds other than with tears and long talks. Here are just a few. He’s probably been shouting them to you all along but you have missed them:
1. Physical activities: Many men get their emotions out through DOING. They work out. They run. They build things. They hunt and fish. They golf. They wrestle in the floor with their kids. If you will take a moment to observe their non-verbals before, during and after these times you will see the release in their muscles and facial expressions. They are sharing at least this part of life with you. Make it easy for them to justify and take advantage of these escapes. Let him pursue adventure, even risk. Be available when they get home to listen and revisit these moments of clarity for them. As they share about the specifics of their run, for example, you will gain insight into their day, what’s bugging them, or where their head is at in relation to their world.
2. Creativity: Music, art, writing, cooking and even movies and shows can be a way for men to express themselves. Notice what songs he has on his playlist, What acting roles he identifies with or dislikes, take interest in what he is attempting in his art. If he takes out his guitar from high school and starts strumming, be his audience or listen at the door. You will see a piece of his heart. If he turns on the radio in the car, let him choose the songs and see what he sings along with and where the music takes him emotionally. Let him choose a movie and watch his responses to the characters and their lives. Who does he empathize with, who does he get mad at? How does he pour himself into his work? Ask him questions like what did you think about _________. Listen and analyze his thoughts. Men often express what they feel by explaining what they think.
3. Spirituality: You will never see more of his heart than when you listen to him pray. Ask him to pray aloud, over you. If this is too intense or embarrassing for him don’t push. But if he does, affirm him in it. Ask him to share what God is teaching him in the word. Ask him how you can pray for him. Worship together. Share moments of confession without judgement. Be respectful of his vulnerability in these moments. If he speaks up in a group bible study, affirm him. Observe him in worship. For a man, lifting his hands in surrender or bowing down are emotional expressions he may not be comfortable with. But if he shows you his heart in these moments, count it as a loving, trusting, act.
4. Sexuality: Women tend to shut down sexually when we feel like there is no intimacy there on the level of the soul. This is pretty counterproductive. Sex is a major way men release emotion. Being cold-shouldered in the bedroom takes away this important outlet and makes them pull back even more. He may be able to show you in bed without words what he feels, easier than by chatting on the sofa. Be a responsive and communicative partner. Study his love making for clues about what he’s feeling. Sexual intimacy is the moment of oneness that builds up every other area of closeness in your marriage. Don’t use sex as a way to manipulate him into sharing in a way he is not comfortable. When you know a man in this way, you can feel him communicate if he’s afraid, lacks confidence, is frustrated, is insecure, is angry about something, or is hurting. You can also share in his expressions of joy, contentment, gratitude, spiritual revival, relief from a stressful situation, or victory, When he loves you physically he is talking to you, you just have to learn his language.
Learning to understand your husband in the dialect he speaks is your job. Don’t expect him to learn yours if you won’t try to learn to interpret his. Stop trying to domesticate your man. Crying out your tears in a candlelit bubble bath might be exactly what you need to express your emotions and feel better. But that probably isn’t going to help him deal with his. Males and females are different this way. And seeing that as a good thing instead of a handicap is the key to a trusting, open, intimate, spiritually satisfying love relationship with a man. Living with your feelings bottled up to explosive levels is never healthy. You just need to help him find that outlet and let you have a window into his world. Before you know it, he feels safe and confident and you feel close to him and love him all the more.
“A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh, but envy makes the bones rot.”
I read a ton of Christian blogs. But on my reading feed this week I’ve seen about 10 posts shaming Christian women for wearing yoga pants in public. Don’t even get me started on this modern trend, the shaming not the pants! While I agree that Christian modesty is required as we grow in sanctification, I don’t agree that shaming is the way to accomplish this. Modesty is highly subjective and personal. So I’m not gonna get into it in this post. But it did get me thinking about what in the world women are supposed to wear to work out in, if compression and stretchability are needed.
Today, rather than criticizing and making ladies feel like “Jezebels” for not wanting to wear a gray sweatsuit and look like Rocky Balboa in the gym, I’m gonna just offer some ideas for practical, feminine, modest, and on-trend options. Brothers, we’ve got your backs! But not like Rocky…K? K.
Here are some great options:
On the bottom- Yoga pants, biking shorts, and running tights are helpful in that they give compression and stretch. They cover the skin as well as provide warmth. All good. But they don’t have to be worn alone. Also, think about purchasing semi-fitted as opposed to fitted. And they don’t have to be so tight that a pimple could show through. Right? I found these great options…
On the top- A traditional walking around t-shirt would suffice but they are not made to wick away perspiration and are not practical for things that invert the body and could cause the shirt to go up. My advice is to keep them long over tights and yoga pants to cover the bottom. You should probably avoid the fitted tank top and for sure…the workout bra worn alone. These tops are cute and keep you covered…
It is absolutely possible to look like a female without being a stumbling block. And men can appreciate a woman’s beauty without lusting. I’m 47, and definitely do NOT turn any heads. But I want to be an example. I do however, do a lot of living in my yoga pants. So, I try to keep it longer and looser on the top. Like a long half-zip or sweatshirt. In summer, I wear skorts or shorts with the built-in longer bike tights. I love the modest tanks from Cross-Training Couture. They are loose, with modest necklines. They’re details are feminine and the shoulders and arm-holes do not show your bra. They are in fun, feminine colors and have a scriptural message on them. I sure hope this was helpful. I never want to just point out a problem but offer no solutions. Have fun working out, guilt-free!
I Began using Young Living essentials oils this summer. I know, I’m late to the table on this incredible trend! Please check out my Essential Oils Board on Pinterest too! http://www.pinterest.com/lori_frank/young-living-oils/ Today I wanted to share with you my most loved and used oils and products for Fall:
1. Diffusing- I love my diffuser! Actually I have Two! The air this time of year is SO dry. So I keep one going in our kitchen/family room area as well as one beside our bed. The added moisture protects our airways and skin from drying out and the fragrances are heavenly. I always keep “Peace and Calming” in our beside one. During the day, I love to diffuse “Lemongrass” to wake us up and give us energy and mental clarity. These are some more of our favorite oils to use in our diffuser…
Autumn scents- 3 drops each of “Cinnamon bark, Nutmeg, cloves, Idaho Blue spruce”, and 5 drops of “Orange”.
Romantic moments- 8 drops of “Sensation”
End of Day- “Joy” I get this started diffusing right before Hubby comes home from work. It is a cozy and welcoming homey fragrance.
2. Health: I make my own hand sanitizer spray with the famous “Theives” blend. I also gargle with a mixture of 2T water and 2 drops each of thieves and purification twice a day. It kills all those dangerous bugs and keeps us from getting sick. If there is sickness in the house, I diffuse these two as well. I rub my thyroid gland with “Myrrh” to support its function since I have problems in this area. I massage “Lavender” oil into lymph glands on the neck when we get congested.
3. Beauty: I apply “Frankincense” and “Myrrh” directly to my face, neck and décolletage after I wash my face at bedtime. It is a great moisturizer and fades dark spots and fine lines. They are also great to fade scars and stretch marks. In the morning, I put “rose” oil on my face for moisture before my makeup. I use a little spray bottle with water and a couple drops of “Lavender” oil to set my makeup each day. This takes away the powdery look of mineral makeup and keeps it in place all day. (hint: I keep it in the fridge to mist my face in the hot months.)
4. Hydration: I never have trouble getting all my water in because I add a drop or two of “lemon” or “lime” in every glass. I also love to drink hot water or decaf tea with a drop or two of “peppermint” to soothe my throat and settle my stomach.
5. Perfume: I love using my oils as perfume. I have used “cinnamon, ginger, and cloves” together and been stopped by men asking what it was. They loved it! It smells like pumpkin pie! “Joy” is great. And so is “Lavender and Lime” together. And if you like that earthy smell, “Patchouli”.
There is so much information on the various ways to use The Young Living Essential oils on the website too. I urge you to check it out and see all the reasons these precious gifts from the Earth that God made are good for us and useful for everyday living. The claims I’m making are just from my personal experience. I’ve heard of them being used successfully for ADHA, chronic pain, teething, and insomnia too. I do not sell the oils myself. But, If you are interested in bringing these powerful oils into your life I would love for you to order them through my mother or my friend Sarah Devore. I suggest you start with the Premium starter kit because it comes with a large variety of oils as well as a diffuser and some samples. It is the best value. They also are perfect for Christmas! Here is what you get for $160:
Fill your Young Living journey with the priceless benefits of essential oil aromatherapy! This brand-new kit features our stylish Aroma Diffuser™, which uses cutting-edge ultrasonic technology to create a healthy, fragrant environment through essential oils. An extraordinary value, this kit is the perfect starting point for those who are serious about making essential oils a transformative—and elegant—addition to their lives!
Kit includes: Everyday Oils™ collection, the all-new Aroma Diffuser, Welcome to Young Living booklet, Essential Oils at a Glance user’s guide, Member Resource Guide, S.E.E.D. Sharing for Success booklet, Citrus Fresh 5-ml, AromaGlide™ Roller Fitment, two sample sachets each of: Lavender, Peppermint, Peace & Calming®, Lemon, and Thieves®, two NingXia Red® 2-oz. samples, Business cards sample pack, Member Agreement, Product Guide
The Website you need is http://www.youngliving.org
To order through my Mom, Barbara Masters, in Oklahoma you can go to the Young Living Website http://www.youngliving.org and enter Member #1677098, Password: Barlar6465 Then click on “products”. If you would like her to walk you through it or answer any questions her email is email@example.com
Or feel free to leave a comment on this post and I will help you walk through the order process.
You may love the gym, but I admit it, I hate going to the gym. A serious problem for this introvert, here. My imagination runs wild at the thought of all the germs lurking on those machines. I despise the smell. I like to be alone, but I can’t just not talk to people. My insecurity whispers to me that all those really fit people are judging me for being out of breath, red faced, and sweating like a wart hog. I never know where to avert my eyes when ladies walk around buck naked in the locker room. My vanity makes me feel like I need to wear makeup and my clothes need to match which makes no sense. So I finally came to the conclusion that I’m not going to stick with something I hate… so what now?
I’m no size 2, but I’m convicted that even though THAT is not my goal, I need to care for the “temple” God gave me. And I need some way to dissipate the stress I hold in my neck, back…and brain. Many of my fellow gym-haters enjoy working out to videos. They seem to work great because you can do it at home alone and fit it in whenever your kids are napping or at school and you can do it in your pajamas if you want to. But for me, I need to be outdoors. The fresh air and vitamin D are calling my name. So, I hit the trail, at our local park, in my neighborhood, or even on the sidewalks around other neighborhoods. I mix it up so I’m never board. On my non-running days, I do lunges, pushups, planks, and stretching in front of my favorite TV show. I am able to get it done 5-6 days a week in around 40 minutes or less. It leaves me no excuses for not being able to make my actions match my convictions.
Here are some tips that help me get out there:
1. Plan it into the day from the beginning: Make an appointment with yourself, and protect that time.
2. Dress for it: I put on my workout clothes when I first get up. That way I can either get my work out and just stay in them, or shower and get fixed up later. I hate working out after I’ve done my hair and makeup and dressed in real clothes. It seems like a waste.
3. Make a playlist: I could never survive a workout without a killer tune to move to. I update my running playlist often to prevent boredom. There are even apps like “PaceDJ” or “Rockmyrun” that will select songs from your library that match a certain pace in beats per minute to keep you stepping to the tempo. Also, books on tape (even the Bible) work good if you prefer. I have good Sony ear buds too that have a hook that fits over the back of my ear so they don’t fall out.
4. Walking is good too: Maybe you are not a runner… Walking is a great workout too. Especially where I live, the hills will give you plenty of challenge to get your heart rate up. Just remember to be safe- stick to public areas and go during the daylight and never post where you are on social media. Be sure to check with your doctor before beginning any workout plan.
5. Work up to running: If you want to, go for more. I have used the C25K app to work up to running. Seriously, I’m 47, non-athletic, and overweight. It helps you start slow and helps prevent over doing it, leading to injury. It is an 8 week program that takes you, as the name suggests, from the couch to a 5K. It starts you off with intervals of running spaced between walks, beginning with only 60 seconds runs. As the weeks progress you begin to walk less and run more as your fitness improves. It works with your own music and a voice in your ear tells you when to start running/walking and encourages you along the way. Great app!
6. Good shoes: Find a pair of shoes that work with your feet and your stride. Many running apparel stores will watch you run and recommend the right shoe for you and your regimen. I’m currently using the Ascis Gel Kayano-21 and they are perfect for me.
7. The right gear: A bad weather day doesn’t have to end your streak. Investing in base layers, hats that let your ponytail out through a hole, gloves with a special pad on the finger tips to let you work your phone with them on are great tools to own. I also love the workout clothes at Target, Cross Training Couture, and Athleta.
8. A Good Bra: Nothing is more miserable than no support. If you are “blessed”, you will need to spend a little more money on this item. Look for one rated for high impact and sized like a real bra, not S M L XL. I use the Va Va sports bra from Athleta.
9. A partner ?: For me, I prefer to workout alone… But if you need companionship and accountability, find a friend with a similar fitness level and meet up. A neighbor, a spouse, a friend… You won’t skip it if someone is waiting for you at the park! When I go with a friend, we get to talking and before we blink, we’re done.
10. Chewing Gum: I get such a fresh burst of energy from a new stick of gum. I love Extra Sugar Free gum in Peppermint. Plus it keep your mouth from drying out when you are breathing deep (or huffing and puffing like me). And I tend to clench my teeth when it gets hard so this relaxes my jaw. Oh, and I never run without my sweat proof sunscreen and Burt’s Bees lip balm on. A big bottle of water waiting in the car is a good incentive to finish strong too.
Hey friend, get moving, at the gym (if you like that) pop in a DVD, or just lace up your shoes and step out your door. Find what works for you and commit. Consistency is what really matters and where the health benefits kick in. You will be surprised how clear your head is, how relaxed your shoulders are and how easy climbing those stairs becomes. Don’t do it out of guilt. Do it out of a desire to be at your best:) Helpful links below:
It’s funny how certain songs can trigger a memory of a special moment. Is it me or has the grocery store started playing really good music? I must be getting old. Ha! But one thing even more powerful than a tune in your head is a fragrance. It can hit you out of the blue. It can take you back, make you hungry, bring a tear to your eyes. Today, I don’t have much to say, just feeling pensive. But I wanted to share with you my top 20 aromas that get me feeling my emotions and tear away the buzzing in my head. They just clear away the cobwebs and evoke a response that is visceral, primal, and rooted deep into my bones:
1. Mesquite smoked brisket
2. Yeast rolls baking, 3 minutes from being done
3. A campfire of oak and hot chocolate steam
4. Years of wax and varnish in the hardwood pews of an old church
5. Paper in an old book
6. The hair of a baby fresh from the bath
7. Puppy Breath
8. Tobacco in a pouch
9. Coffee brewing
10. White Shoulders and Youth Dew perfume my Grandmothers wore
11. Musty sweat on a little boy just come in from outside
12. The leather on my husband’s bible
13. Tractor fuel and fresh cut hay
14. Rich soil just tilled
15. Bacon frying in the morning
16. Ivory dish-soap suds
17. Chimney smoke on a cold night
18. Sheets drying in the sun
19. Summer rain in the distance
20. Barbasol Shave Cream lingering on the face with a morning kiss
Simple woman, simple times I know. But a breath of each of these smells like contentment and happiness to me. I brings of feelings of gratitude and warmth, morning sun and being loved. Thank you, Lord, for our senses and all the memories stored up to bring us joy. What are your favorite memory-making scents? Share them in the comments and remember the good times today. Take a deep breath and smile:)
As an unremarkable woman who successfully league jumped her way to a gorgeous hunk, and has been happily married for 25+ years, let me say that the very idea of “leagues” is insulting. I’m grateful to this day that God brought me a man who saw my raw potential and loved me into the fullest expression of my beauty. It’s as if there is a pervasive collective cultural consciousness of who is “good enough” for who. And, I think this is even common knowledge in the male community too. I recently overheard one young male telling another young male not to approach a beautiful woman, stating, “You gotta know your league, bro. Only rich guys and rock stars can jump up a league.” What?!?
This makes me wonder why we are shocked that marriage rates are plummeting in this country. Is a pretty face your ticket to happiness? Is a supermodel perfect body the equivalent of a substantial dowery? How many stunningly beautiful ladies are left lonely as well, due to no good men being bold enough to approach her, leaving her left to choose from the arrogant jerks who think they are God’s gift to the top 1%? And, how many men miss out on the love of a “Normal” woman because all they could consider was Hollywood’s version of what makes a woman lovely. This is messed up!
Guys, with this in mind, I’d like to make a case for the “average” looking girl. She is the most overlooked and underrated commodity on earth. I would like to put forth that average girls are the wives and life partners you are looking for but can’t see because in your immaturity you are trying to go from AAA to the Majors. Instead, how about looking right there in the grandstands. So here are some qualities you are missing if you are overlooking the girl next door types:
1. She is a good friend: She is not burdened by stardom or obsession with being “hot”. She, like you, just wants companionship. She would be happy to go to the gym with you, or on a hike, or to the ballgame. She would love to grab some wings and see a movie. She will listen when you talk and try to understand you. She will be fun and casual and full of adventure because she doesn’t have to worry about keeping her hair perfect.
2. She will be an encourager: She is not fixated on using you as a trophy. She will assume the best in you and provoke you to achieving success by believing you can do it. She will laugh at your jokes and carry her half of the conversation. She will be grateful when you do things for her and make her a priority.
3. She is humble: After all, she’s heard all her life that she is out of her league! She will not make you jump through hoops or do all the work. She is motivated to pour into your life on a deeper level because she doesn’t have to be the center of attention. She wants to be a partner not a princess.
4. She is low maintenance: She won’t feel like she’s doing you a favor by allowing you to pursue her. She won’t be too needy or too smothering but she will let you know she enjoys you. There won’t be crazy head games. She will be honest and straight forward. She won’t expect you to rob a bank to afford her.
5. She will celebrate your manhood: She is not a man-eater. She is delighted by your manliness, rough edges and all. She is kind and other’s oriented. She doesn’t have her head in the clouds and is not full of expectations of glory. She is content and interested in long-haul everyday life. These are the everyday women who work hard, are family oriented and respect others. She won’t pout when you go hunting or go out with the guys. She has lots of friends of her own and a life of her own. She is not about conquest.
Are you looking for a trophy to feed your ego and bring you personal glory or do you want a potential mate who will be your partner and friend? Stop looking around for Angelina Jolie or Scarlett Johansen to fall at your feet. Find a cute girl who you might have otherwise overlooked and see if there is a spark there. Then pursue her. Give her a chance to steal your heart. Let her substance and authenticity take your breath away. Give her a chance to show you the depth, intelligence, and strength in her character. Give her a chance to show you the powerful attraction of a pure and radiant countenance. Let her awaken your heart to the profound beauty in how she was fearfully and wonderfully made. In the hidden spirit of an average christian girl is the passion, fun, and potential for the life changing love you are looking for. Look around, she’s right there.
Over the weekend I read a hilarious and brilliant article written by a mom in the Huffington Post. You can read it at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/m-blazoned/the-default-parent_b_6031128.html. This lady is obviously a wonderful and loving mom. She writes respectfully of her husband and their partnership in parenting with different roles is a great example to us all. But I think she is missing a very important point. There is no award for most exhausted or most depended upon mom. Motherhood is not about martyrdom it’s about shaping character and instilling values.
I think it is important to remember, as moms, that our job is to nurture these tiny humans into being self-sufficient, boundary respecting, organized, self-controlled human beings who accept personal responsibility for their own things, their own schedules, their own bodies. I am noticing a trend in parenting that leans toward a child-centered, hovering style. We are fostering unhealthy dependence and wearing our exhaustion as a badge of honor. Yes there are things only a parent can do for our kids, like signing legal documents, driving, and giving out medications. But as our kids move into the late toddler years, they need to be encouraged to take over some things for themselves. They need to learn to respect boundaries and put others (including the parents) first. Sometimes we don’t need to rescue our kids from the consequences of their choices… we do this so they can learn.
1. You can train your child as young as two or three to play quietly in your home while you shower. You don’t need to lock the door if your children have been taught that they must wait for you to shower and get ready privately. Learning to wait is a good skill to have in life. They need to know what constitutes an emergency situation that requires them to interrupt you and what can wait. They need to learn what bedtime is and how to sleep through the night in their own bed. You have needs too and so does your husband. You need to win this battle for your own health and for your marriage.
2. By about grade 4-5 your child can fill out their own forms for you to approve and sign. Don’t allow them to spring the field-trip forms on you 5 minutes before you are loading your car for school. Let them suffer the consequences. They won’t forget next time.
3. Let your kids begin to learn to keep up with their own things. If you lose your shoes, you will need to wear another pair. If you are out of shampoo, you need to write it on the family grocery list. If you can’t find something, look for it yourself. If you can’t find it, you will need to do without it. Next time, your child will put it away so they will be able to enjoy it when they want. If you forget your lunch, once, I’ll bring it to you. If you forget it twice you can have the PBJ the cafeteria lady provides you.
4. Train your child to be comfortable receiving care from others. If you don’t do this, you will never be able to go to church because your child will have a meltdown when you drop them off for Sunday School. You will always be their go-to when they need something. They will never be able to approach another adult with a concern by themselves. You will never be able to leave them with a grandparent or some other trust-worthy adult so you can have a break or a vacation or a night out.
5. Limit their schedules or make them responsible for it. If you have 3 kids all involved in multiple activities apart from school or church, they need to know that their choice to be involved in it requires them to be responsible for their supplies, transportation, communication, and equipment. If all you do for them is manage the logistics of their lives, when will you have time for shaping their character. Never let them say yes (or sign them up for) to something without previously bringing the schedule to both parents to be sure that one of them will be able to conveniently transport them. This includes their social lives too.
6. Don’t do their work for them. Let them complete their school work, college applications, projects, and ideas independently. Be there as a guide or a resource, not as their staff. Teach them to communicate to you what they need. Don’t redo their efforts. You won’t be there to do it for them when they are on their own. Give them ownership. Teach them to do their own laundry, clean up their own messes, and pack their own lunches. They need to develop confidence in their own ability to problem solve, create, and communicate.
7. Don’t compete. There is such a trap in this. My son took the SAT next to a child whose parents had bought Aderal on the street to give their child an advantage during the test. Crazy! Your world will never actually look like a pinterest board. Your child will probably not be a prima ballerina in NYC or starting pitcher for the Yankees. Let them learn to wrap the birthday present for their own friend. Heck, even make them pay for it! Let them make their own Halloween Costume. Let them help with the cupcakes even if it means they are imperfect and simplistic. There is no hall of fame for most harried and exhausted helicopter mom.
I could go on forever on this subject. We need to stop feeding our own dysfunctional need to be needed at the expense of our children’s future. Successful parenting means being confident when we drop them off at college that they have learned to function as a blooming adult. We can do this, knowing they will be hurt, they will fail and that they will be better off for it because of what they’ve learned. They will have the self-confidence to spread their wings because mom has not always done everything for them. They can depend on their own know-how. My husband tells me of his senior year, having to apply to colleges, wrangle his own financial aid and negotiate scholarship offers all by himself. He remembers loading all his mismatched and hand-me-down dorm stuff into his car and at age 17 hugging his mom goodbye in his driveway and heading off 250 miles away to college alone. Was he neglected or unloved? No, he was being launched into a manhood he was ready for. This is such a contrast to stories I hear of moms going on job interviews with their 22-year-old sons, moms calling teachers to complain about a grade, and moms writing college entrance essays for their kids. Don’t be the default parent. Teach your kids to be their own default to depend on. It will be messy. It will be scary. It will sometimes be like watching a car accident in slow motion. But your kids will be better off for it. If we don’t stop this, our society will continue to be “Me” centered and entitled instead of enabled and others-oriented. The goal of your parenting should be your child’s autonomy. It’s harder work than you think to prepare a child for this. Even harder than doing everything yourself. Success has to be earned, it’s best they learn this now. If you run their universe now, they will never learn to explore a new one.
In the life of my ministry to women, I get asked some pretty open and honest questions about sexuality. Whether we are single or married, young or old, I think we are all confused at times about certain aspects of living out our sex lives in a godly way. Here are the five most frequently asked questions regarding this subject:
1. Is self-gratification a sin: Short answer- mostly. The sin trap aspect of masturbation is rooted in the sin of lust. It is a sin of the thought life when it involves lust. Lust is never OK. For a woman, this lust is often fed by images and written scenes played out in our mind. These scenes don’t even need to be classified as porn. Many women’s books, magazines, movies and TV shows feed an unrealistic and lustful thought process that drives us to satisfy our needs ourselves. For a married woman this comes against the oneness that physical intimacy brings to a marriage. It can also become a lazy substitute for the communication and mutuality needed for a fulfilling sex life in marriage. Often it is a stress relieving crutch that become an addiction. It would take a very disciplined mind to only think of your husband while engaging in this act but I suppose it could be done without sin, particularly if a couple was unable to come together or if there was a medical concern preventing actual intercourse. Sex was never designed by God to be a one person operation. The only other specific example I can think of where it seemed to pass the “no lust” test was when a couple was separated due to an over-seas military deployment and the married couple engaged in sex of this nature together privately over Skype.
1 Thessalonians 4:3-5 “For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust…”
2. What types of sex are “OK”: The basic rule is one woman and one man in the bounds of marriage. The more complex question most women are asking is, in my marriage, what types of sexual acts are OK. In marriage, I believe ALL sex is good as long as certain guardrails are established. Sex is meant to promote intimacy and bring pleasure. So the “rules” need to be more about BOTH husband and wife finding it enjoyable, comfortable and safe. It also needs to be private. It needs to be limited to just the two of you…no third parties whether in person or in the form of pornographic material. It needs to be loving, not violent or dominating. It needs to be oriented toward mutual gratification. Are you single and wondering how far is too far? The answer is any activity that invokes lust in one or both of you. A kiss is probably ok depending on the passion level. But much else is going to take the natural course of wanting more and wanting it before the marriage.
“I am my beloved’s, and his desire is for me. Come, my beloved, let us go forth into the fields and lodge in the villages; let us go out early to the vineyards . . . There I will give you my love” (Song of Songs 7:10-12).
3. What if I don’t enjoy it: Again, to grow in intimacy and fulfillment in your sex life you must communicate in an encouraging, respectful way what you enjoy. Your husband wants to bless you sexually. Help him study you and your body to bring you the responses you want. But, most commonly I find that women who are struggling to desire and enjoy sex are challenged in one or several ways. Are you saving energy for your husband or do you fall into bed exhausted and irritable? Are you worried about pregnancy? Are you struggling with poor body image? Are you harboring unforgiveness? Have you come to resent your husband due to being hurt? Are you withholding sex as a punishment? Are you feeling unloved? Do you have scars from past trauma that need professional counselling? Do you have scars from past sins? Have you gotten lazy or distracted by things such as child-centered parenting? Are you experiencing hormonal imbalances? Do not write this off. You will damage your marriage by not practicing oneness. Don’t give living parallel lives a foothold. Communicate and fight for God’s best in your sex life. Make it a matter of urgency in your prayers and your behavior.
“The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. . . . Do not refuse one another except perhaps by agreement for a season . . . lest Satan tempt you through lack of self-control” (1 Cor 7:3,5).
4. How often is normal: There is no such thing as normal. The national average for married couples married more than 10 years is weekly. You are two individuals though. There will be seasons of challenge with physical needs, health needs, new babies, and schedules. There will be seasons of feasting like new marriage, vacations, and date nights when the kids are at grandma’s. Try to find a rhythm that is fulfilling to you both. Be a giver. Again, communication is essential.
“Go, eat your bread with enjoyment, and drink your wine with a merry heart; for God has already approved what you do. Let your garments be always white; let not oil be lacking on your head. Enjoy life with the wife whom you love,all the days of your life which He has given you under the sun, because that is your portion in life and in your toil at which you toil under the sun” (Eccl 9:7-9).
5. We are in a rut, what should I do: First of all, don’t panic or assign blame. It happens. We feel frumpy. We get bored. We get lazy. The powerful glory given to God in marital sex is the target of your enemy. Talk about it. Work on the relationship. Remember to put him first. Bring back the fun. If the relationship is clicking, the sex will follow. Cultivate intimacy on the spiritual, emotional, and communicational level. Let your mind dwell on the reasons you fell in love and the desirable things about your spouse. Take care of yourself. Don’t get sloppy. Don’t use the kids and the pace of your life as an excuse to accept less than fulfilling intimacy. Eat right, exercise, manage your stress, practice Sabbath. Be intentional. Try something new. Strive to adorn yourself if a way that attracts your man and makes you feel confident and beautiful. Make time for togetherness. Make the first move. Flirt with your husband. All these things are acts of love. But accept that in the long hall of life, there will be slumps. Just never stop developing and purposefully nurturing oneness. Pour on respect and encouragement. Fan the flames and saturate your marriage with surrender and prayer.
“Let your fountain be blessed, And rejoice in the wife of your youth. As a loving hind and a graceful doe, Let her breasts satisfy you at all times; Be exhilarated always with her love.” Proverbs 5: 18-19
Sex is a gift from God to us. It is an expression of Himself. But the world the flesh and the devil want to corrupt it. There is always grace for that. There is the power of the Holy Spirit. Relish in this gift and protect it with purity, love, self-denial and self-sacrifice. It’s good to talk about these things when we look to the scripture to establish the standards. I pray your marriage and your heart are blessed today.
I’ve been thinking lately about those summer evenings in my childhood at Nannie’s house. It was a white frame two bedroom under towering pecan trees. It was a day spent playing outside with crisp white sheets and blue collar uniforms smelling fresh as they dried in the sun and swished on the line. My daytime job was to sit in the shade, on top of a folded homemade quilt draped over the crank case of the old Ice cream maker ,while Papa slowly turned the handle. I sat with the smell of cream and vanilla and fresh peaches dancing in my head.
It would finally thicken up “til he couldn’t turn it any more and he would take out his “Red Man” chewing tobacco and his pocket knife and whittle on a stick while we played. Nannie would send me to the storm cellar to bring up home canned green beans and fresh corn from the garden to shuck. And if we got too rowdy, they would sit us down in the grass and tell us to search the clover for that illusive four leaved ticket to good luck and riches. (They also told me that if I could put salt on a bird’s tail, it would let me hold it. I wasted hours with the salt shaker trying to get close to those birds).
I didn’t know then what these two had accomplished to be in this quaint little house at the end of the street. With only a 6th grade education, survivors of the dust bowl, they had picked cotton and worked from dawn to dusk their whole lives. After they moved to town, they had purchased this place. My Papa got a job at the gas company as a meter reader. Nannie cooked lunch at the high school cafeteria.
And boy could she cook! I can still taste the fried chicken, and yeast rolls, Green beans with a slick of bacon grease on top, corn on the cob and mashed potatoes, the juiciest sliced tomatoes ripe in the sun simply served with salt and pepper. My job in the evening was always the same too. “Lori Lynn, wash your hands and get the ice in the glasses.” I remember, no matter how hard I tried to get them dry, my fingers would always stick to cold metal ice trays. You remember the kind. Silver aluminum trays with a divided insert and lever on top to had to lift up to crack it? Do you remember how hard it was to get the trays from the sink back to the icebox without spilling the water?
The women would be in the kitchen tending to the meal, cooling the chess pie and slicing the cold “Black Diamond” watermelon. The men preferred the front room, mostly I guessed because it had a window unit air conditioner. Nannie hated it and rarely ran it because she thought it was too noisy. As a kid, I never took notice of the heat. But I do still have the scars on my knees from being shredded by falling on the old grate of the floor furnace in the hall. That hall contained the door to the only bathroom and a nook where the old black rotary-dial phone hung on the wall.
Papa only had one suit and he wore it every sunday to church where he faithfully stood at the double doors to welcome the congregation and hand them a bulletin with their handshake. He also mowed the lawn of the church every Saturday to keep the Lord’s house looking dapper. Nannie had a couple of dresses and a church purse where she kept her cotton gloves, a handkerchief and a lipstick. She wore cat-eye glasses. She always had a brooch pinned on and always wore a scarf tied under her chin to keep the Oklahoma wind from ruffling her hair, fresh from the beauty shop. She always smelled like soap and Auqua-net hairspray. They had one car and Nannie never learned to drive. They always voted democrat because “He cares about folks like us”.
It’s funny how memories like these of a simple summer evening spent with plenty of food and lots of love can spring up in my mind, even today. It seems so far removed from computers and cell phones, drive-thru hamburgers, terrorism and Ebola. It all seems in direct contrast to the image of this American couple pouring percolator black coffee into their saucer so they could blow on it and sip it up. Anyone still crumble corn bread into their ice cold buttermilk? Would anyone today miss the ten dollar check Nanny mailed in to Billy Graham?
We are in this modern world now, there’s no going back. But I think it would do us all some good to bow our heads, remove our hats in respect and thank God for this, the greatest generation. Nannie never had a microwave or a dishwasher. But she did have an impact on me. She did have a legacy. Someday my grandkids will be remembering my kitchen and my house…and my smell. And I want them to remember me as grateful, content, wise, graceful, strong, and full of love.
We can’t slow down time, but we can slow down. We can savor the simple pleasures of life and family. The next time I remember Papa “pinching the sugar” off my neck, I’m gonna whisper a prayer for our country and the liberties, advantages and faith it was founded on. And I’m gonna Thank God for where I came from, and ask Him to be patient with our generation. We can still get this right.
Over the last quarter century of ministry together, Bruce and I have had the privilege of seeing many young preacher boys mature and become prepared for a life of service. We have also taken great joy in watching their lives unfold for God’s glory. An added joy has also been to watch God send them a beautiful, ready and able wife to join them in their calling. We’ve even had the precious joy of seeing God provide the perfect wife for our son, a pastor in Apex, NC.
If I could sit down and chat with any young lady who was being pursued by a pastor or pastor-to-be here is the advice I would give her:
1. If you marry this man, you are headed for the most fulfilling and FUN life imaginable-
You will be honored to join the front lines of kingdom work. You will be among the few and the proud who line up behind the purposes of God and join Him in His work in your community and in your church. There is nothing like the thrill of knowing He is moving through you. You will get to meet and come to love others who share this divine privilege and it will be a fast, exciting, and adventurous life.
2. Being on the front lines of a battle is dangerous-
Ministry life is not for cowards. You will be scrutinized, gossiped about, second guessed, criticized, and under-appreciated. You will never be rich. You will be called upon to sacrifice, love the unlovable, endure exhaustion, and fight spiritual warfare greater than you have ever know. You most likely will not be able to live close to your family or choose where you are sent. You will need to be incredibly tough, but gentle as a lamb. You will need to be low maintenance. Your heart will break a thousand times over as you bear these burdens but even more as you carry the endless burdens of pain in the lives of your people, privately in prayer.
3. You will need to get comfortable with leading-
You will never hold an office or official title, but you will be looked at to set the pace. You will be constantly observed and so will your children. You will need to learn to feed yourself spiritually and continue to grow, all while feeding and nurturing and carrying others. You will be called upon to wear many hats and be proficient even when you know you are in over your head, even when you are tired, or hurt or scared.
4. You will need to be a committed forgiver-
With all this pressure and possibility for pain, you must be able to forgive. Otherwise, you will come to resent the very sheep your husband was called to tend. You will have to be silent. You will have to be stable. You will have to be gracious to the ungracious.
5. You will be lonely sometimes-
You will have very few sisters you can be transparent with. You will have to keep many confidences. You will have to be careful who you trust. Your husband will be gone a lot. You will need to learn to do things by your self, especially on Sunday morning. You will not be able to be as close as you want with the other pastors’ wives whose husbands your husband manages.
6. You will be called to live a selfless life-
If you are called to be the wife of a pastor, you are called to be his helper. His unofficial co-worker. His confidant. His nest-maker. His partner in ministry. You will need to make his success your first priority, not your own. This will mean you need to run the home, be primary daily caregiver for the children, and a visible credible representative of what a christian wife should look like.
7. You will not be wise to compete with the church for his attention-
If you do this, you will make him miserable. Trust him to do right by you. Ministry can be all-consuming to your husband. He will be on call 24/7. He will not be able to turn his brain off easily when he gets home. Sunday is ALWAYS coming, ready or not, day off or not, teething baby or not. He needs your eyes and your arms to be his benediction each night. Nagging or pouting will hurt your cause. We love to use Paul’s words in Ephesians 5 to brow beat our husbands about not loving us the way Christ loved the church (sacrificially). But we often forget that Paul also said, “What I mean, brothers and sisters, is that the time is short. From now on those who have wives should live as if they do not…” 1 Cor. 7:29 What he is saying is that the work of the gospel is so urgent and so costly to those who are perishing, that the wives of those in ministry will need to take up some slack, and cut some slack too. After all, you are partners. Your role is to make it work in the seasons that require your husband to red-line it in ministry. He loves you. He loves your kids. He will be given supernatural power to love you the way you need, even when pulled in a million directions, but your lifestyle will probably not be like Mayberry or the Brady Bunch. He has enough burdens. Don’t add guilt to the pile. He may be late to the soccer game, but he will be there. He may have to take a call during dinner, but he will be there. He might miss dinner all together, but he will end his day tucking the kids in after a romp session and spend his night holding you. If you resent his commitment, you cease to be his partner and become his opposition. His brothers will remind him to be there for you, they will hold him accountable not to neglect you. As he grows, he will realize Jesus will care for His Bride, and he needs to take care of his.
8. He needs you-
If your yes in on the table and you are willing to deny yourself daily and take up your cross in this way, know that you are a mighty force for the gospel. You will be a fountain of provision for his needs. You will be his most trusted ally and confidant. You will be the prayer warrior he depends on most. You will be cherished by the people you serve because they will know you have sacrificed much for their well-being. And most importantly your life will be a showcase for the glory of God. Your legacy will outlive you and many will see heaven’s gates as a result.
If you’re in, the two of you will change the world. To love and be loved by one of God’s soldiers is like being strapped to a rocket ship. The fuel is God’s grace and power. It’s scary and it’s risky, but the ride and the view will be such a thrill you’ll thing your heart will explode. So strap yourself in. And enjoy the ride of your life, with the company of a man who God chose…For you, and for the kingdom…May God use you and may your love be a light in a dark and cruel world.