Monday, December 23, 2013

When Your Marriage is Falling Apart

I heard a statistic (I think it was on the news) a few months ago that most marriages end after twenty years of marriage. I was surprised and saddened. Why invest so much of your life into a relationship and then give up? I discussed it with my husband, who I believe to very wise. He said, "Think about it. Women invest most of their time and energy into the kids while their husbands invest most of their energy into their jobs." Now don't get me wrong. I know most moms are also hard-working employees, but this means they are pulled two ways: they invest almost as much time and energy into their jobs as they do their children. It's draining and frustrating. So when the kids grow up and leave the nest, a big part of that energy that was invested in the kids is left in limbo.

We women are emotional creatures, designed that way by God. If we neglect our husbands while focusing on our kids, we've created a gap in the marriage. Suddenly we have "empty nest" syndrome and don't know where to focus our energy. We try to get husband's attention but he's still focused on his job. We often find that what were once mutual interests have changed. We're no longer running to athletic practices and events, pediatricians, musical try-outs, kids' birthday parties, etc. What did we used to enjoy doing with our husbands before kids? We don't have the energy for those things any more, and anyway the job is too demanding. Husband wants to start doing things together again but our schedules don't co-inside. What to do? Is the marriage doomed to fail?

It would be nice to be able to save every marriage. I am not able to save any marriage. I don't have all the answers. What I have are suggestions that I hope will help.
1) Make your marriage your priority. If your spouse doesn't seem to be interested, open a dialogue. What would your spouse like to see happen with the marriage?
2) Talk about things you'd like to do.
3) Plan a surprise weekend getaway.
4) Be willing to change your traditions to accommodate your spouse. Compromise is good and healthy.
5) Snuggle on the couch and hold hands while watching a movie or a football game.
6) Talk about things you can do together to build this new chapter of your lives. Decide where the kids will fit in now that they are out of the nest. Will you keep a house for them to come home to, or will you downsize your living arrangements and go visit them?

Add your own suggestions to this site if you'd like. If the site won't let you, leave me a message with your name, initials, or anonymously, and I will post it for you. God bless.
'Tis the season to be joyful. While holidays can be stressful, and even painful, for some people, there are a few things I'd like to suggest to help you make it through. If you're grieving over the loss of a loved one and it's hard to even have the energy to get through the day, take time for yourself. When you're feeling down you need to do something to bolster your spirits. Call a friend you haven't been in contact with for a while. Treat yourself and/or a friend to a dessert you really like that you haven't indulged in for months or more. Watch a funny movie or cartoon. Make something or do something you've put off, something that you can take pleasure in. Visit someone who is shut in and cheer them up. Go caroling with a group to a nursing home or assisted living facility. Maybe treat yourself to a day at a spa. Most of all, don't push yourself so hard that you wear yourself out. Give yourself time to grieve. Grieving is natural and necessary. There is no time limit. I know a sweet older gentleman (92 years old) who lost his wife six years ago. He keeps himself busy but he still misses her every day. God bless you. Let God help you through this difficult time. He understands grief.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

When Despair Strikes

I sit here weeping this morning over those precious people in Moore, OK who have got to be suffering beyond what most of us can comprehend. I cannot begin to imagine the grief and despair that they must be feeling as they look around and see nothing but rubble, their lives in shambles, multiplied by countless numbers over the loss of a child or children in those schools. Many people get mad at God when tragedy strikes, and this is certainly a normal human reaction.

I don't claim to have any of the answers, but here's what I do know about my God, my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. He continually tries to work in our hearts and draw us to Him in good times. But many people don't want to hear about God these days. Still others claim to know Him but ignore Him. Christians, in general, have become complacent. We take God's goodness for granted. Just as He did with the Jews throughout history, He sometimes has to allow (not cause) tragedy to happen in ...order for us to realize that we can't make it on our own. We need Him to help us get through these situations.

He is waiting with open arms to comfort and heal. He promises blessings to those who obey Him and destruction to those who don't. Christians are not immune to tragedy, but we know who will help us through when it does strike. But all of this tragedy is nothing compared to an eternity in hell. And if those precious children are in heaven, and their surviving parents don't turn to God, in sincerity seeking a relationship with Him, they will never see that child again for they will spend eternity separated from them in a devil's hell.

That is NEVER God's choice (2Peter 3:9  The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.).
God leaves the choice up to us. Please seek Him today. Seek His comfort and peace. Job lost everything except his wife in one day. He was the richest man on earth at that time, and he lost everything including his health in one day. He wept and mourned, and questioned God, but he never turned his back on God. In the end, God gave him back double everything he lost (except his children--he lost ten and had ten more). God bless. I'm praying for everyone in that city. I hope all of my friends will join me in that prayer.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

God Lite Or God Light?

            Several years ago I heard my brother preach a sermon to a group of children. He called them to the front of the church and they all sat on the carpet, gathered around him. He asked how many of them were afraid of the dark. A few hands were raised and he pulled a night light out of a paper bag. He held it up for the entire congregation to see.
            "This is a night light," he said. "It helps us see where we are going in the dark so we don't stub our toes or trip over something. It helps us, doesn't it? This is one kind of light. Our grocery stores and advertisements are filled with lite products: lite ice cream, lite milk, lite cream cheese, etcetera. The lite products are called lite because something has been removed. It doesn't have the same ingredients as the whole product. Something is missing. That may be good for people who are trying to be healthy, but…
            "When you lose a loved one, or your marriage is in trouble, or your bills are more than your income, or your child is rebelling, or there's a monster under your bed, or someone is being mean to you, what kind of God do you want? Do you want a God who will light your path, show you how to solve the problem, or help you through it? Or do you want a weak, wishy-washy God lite?
            "Our God is all powerful, all knowing, and everywhere present. He created the universe. His two hands can hold all the oceans and rivers of the world and not spill a drop. He created you, knows everything about you, and loves you no matter what. He calmed storms, healed the sick, made the lame to walk again. He caused the children of Israel to cross a raging sea on dry ground, then drowned Pharaoh's army in that same sea. God was with them even when they rebelled against Him. That's the God who wants to be your best friend. That's the God who wants to help you and heal you. That's the God who wants to deliver you from your fears and help you get through your troubles. He can teach you how to manage your finances, mend your broken heart, teach you how to handle your rebellious children. The choice is up to you. What kind of God do you want?"


Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Does Your Baby Make You Frustrated?

Many young mothers experience great frustration when their babies cry for no apparent reason. When I was a young mother, I too, got frustrated because I didn't know what to do. I didn't want to hurt my baby so I would close the door to his room, go downstairs and turn up the stereo so I couldn't hear him. That may sound cruel to some people, but it protected my child from harm.
            As a newborn, I thought you feed them, bathe them, change them, and put them to bed. I eventually learned that even newborns need to held some because they are in a whole new environment and they feel insecure. They need mommy's arm to hold them and make them feel secure. Holding your baby will not spoil him as long as you don't pick him up every time he cries.
            However, it is vital that you spend time playing with your child, no matter what age. It helps them feel loved. Think about it. If no one ever paid attention to you, how would you feel? Children magnify their feelings. To a child, no emotion is trivial. It is up to us as parents to help them understand their feelings, and to teach them not to take themselves too seriously.
            Children are only spoiled when their every whim is given in to. Love with boundaries will never spoil a child. One of the best experts I know regarding children is Dr. James Dobson (Focus on the Family). He has written many books on the subject of child-rearing.
            If you feel depressed after you've had your baby, don't be too hard on yourself. Your hormones change drastically when you get pregnant, and again when the baby is born. This is normal and natural, but you need to seek medical attention if you are depressed. It is not a shame to be depressed. It is only a shame if you don't seek help. God bless.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Happy Mother's Day

What a precious thing it is to be a mother, to hold a newborn baby, to nurture that child, watch it grow, to be the teacher. What an awesome responsibility to raise a child to adulthood, to be able to instill in that child a character that will help him (or her) grow into wisdom and integrity.
There are some women mentioned in the Bible who were very wise in raising their children, or at least in making sure that their children would grow into Godly people. Moses's mother, Jochebed, knew that the only way to save her son was to give him up. Pharaoh had declared that all baby boys born to the Hebrews should  be put to death. So Jochebed made a basket of bulrushes, complete with a covering, and her daughter, Miriam, put the basket with her baby brother inside, and put it in the river just as the Pharaoh's daughter and her maids were going to bathe. Pharaoh's daughter heard an unusual sound, found the basket and opened it. She immediately fell in love with the child and wanted to raise it as her own, but she was not able to nurse it. So Miriam stepped forward from her hiding place and asked if the young woman would like her to find a nursemaid for the baby. Naturally, she took the baby home to her own mother who cared for him until he was old enough to live in the palace. Moses grew up as an Egyptian prince and was well cared for and educated, but he never forgot that he was a Hebrew. At the age of forty something, God used him to deliver the Hebrew people from the bondage of Egypt.
Hannah and her husband had prayed for a child for years and she remained barren and desolate. After many years of praying, God finally answered her prayer and gave her a son. She had promised God that if He would give her a child, she would give the child back to Him. So when her little boy Samuel was weaned, she took him to the priest (Levi) to be raised in the temple as an apprentice. She would go visit him but he would be raised to serve God.
Most of us would rather die than give up our children, but these women loved and served God and knew that He is the supreme parent. They were unselfish in their love for their children, and they grew up to be great. Their names have survived through thousands of years as renowned men of God because of the selflessness of their mothers. What do you want your children to be known for? How will you raise them? What kind of mother do you want to be? The Bible is filled with instruction and wisdom. Have a wonderful, love filled Mother's Day.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Who Is Responsible?

I have a dear friend I'll call Jennifer (I have no friends by that name) who has struggled most of her life with alcohol and drug addiction. She's been married several times and has raised four children. The youngest, her son, I'll call Darren.

Jennifer's life has been tumultuous from birth. She was the only daughter with four older brothers, who used to beat her and molest her. Her father also beat her while her mother stood by and did nothing. At some point Jennifer learned to fight back. She learned to use whatever was at hand and she learned she couldn't trust men. They lived in the country and at that time the law would not have interfered.

I don't know at what age she began smoking, drinking, and doing drugs, but it continued through her marriages. At least one daughter, now grown, will have nothing to do with her. She has been through rehab, had kicked it, given her heart and life to the Lord Jesus, and fallen back time and again. She has been in and out of prison, as has her son, Darren.

Darren has been on his own since about age 15, also, drinking and taking drugs. He hates himself and blames his mother for all of his problems. He loves and hates her at the same time. Both of them have so much anger and hurt inside. They play it off of each other. When Jennifer gets out of prison and tries to get her life straight, Darren calls her, screaming at her, accusing her of not caring, because as long as he is still doing drugs she can't be around him. It's too much temptation for her, and it could land her back in prison. So he curses at her, tells her he will commit suicide if she doesn't help him. He rips her heart to shreds, throws it at her feet, and tells her it's all her fault. What is a mother to do? She gives in. He's her flesh and blood, and she thinks he's at least partly right: it is her fault for not being a better role model and parent when he was small.

But Darren is an adult now, making his own decisions. As an adult he needs to take responsibility for his own decisions. He has not allowed her to be his parent for about 12 years. It's time to face reality, face his own consequences, man up and stop blaming mom for the decisions he's making now. He needs to set his mother free from the guilt he is piling on her.

If your situation is similar to this, remember that no matter how many mistakes you've made, redemption is still possible and available through Jesus Christ. He wants to take your burdens. He wants to take your pain and sorrow and replace them with His love, joy, and peace. He wants to make you whole. Why don't you invite Him into your heart and life? He loves you and has great plans for you. What have you got to lose? Just tell Him you're sorry for your sins, ask Him to forgive you, and ask Him to take control of your life. It won't be easy, but it will be better than what you have now. If you fall back into your sin, just keep going to Him, apologize, ask His forgiveness, and ask Him to help you overcome. Seek professional help if you feel you need it. There are a few good, Godly counselors out there. There is no shame in trying to make your life better. God bless.