I’ve Got the Marriage I’ve Always Wanted

My husband, Wade and I, were blessed to attend a marriage conference last weekend with our daughter Keshia and son-in-law Calvin. It was the Marriage You’ve Always Wanted with Gary Chapman. He is still a dynamic speaker and storyteller and passionate about the subject of love and marriage at the age of 76 and with over 45 years of marriage. His key concept as an author is about the 5 Love Languages. If you aren’t familiar with this concept, Dr. Chapman proposes that there are 5 main ways in which we express and in turn receive love. These are: Words of Affirmation, Gifts, Acts of Service, Spending Quality Time and Physical Touch. You can go to http://www.5lovelanguages.com/profile/ to discover your language if you do not know it. Dr. Chapman says that we usually have one primary language and almost never does a husband and wife have the same one.

We discovered early in our marriage and family what our love languages were and it has helped us significantly to show each other how we love and know that we are loved. The love language tool was just one of many that Dr. Chapman spoke of at the conference. Communication skills are given more clarity when this tool is used. He said in relationships to begin with a fundamental decision to treat each other as humans and allow the other to feel their own feelings and think their own thoughts as we are all different.

He suggested that no conflict is without resolution and we each can do something to move toward this. He says often we think it is a financial issue or a sex issue or parenting style that causes the problems but really it is how we approach these issues that determines the outcome. “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble, but take heart for I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 Jesus didn’t say we wouldn’t ever have any problems but if we can approach each issue in  a loving and respectful way with our spouse, or in any relationship for that matter, we can work toward resolution.

Dr. Chapman suggested that serving needs to start at home, often we go into our workplace, at church, with friends or on missions giving our best service but we need to do what we can to change and serve those at home. This starts with our spouse if we are married. Two selfish people cannot have a good marriage. This conference was rich with great ideas from improving communication to mutual joy in sex, to initiating positive changes and giving constructive criticism. He reminded us that we need to submit to the Holy Spirit working in us and that lasting changes don’t happen without God doing the work.

One of our greatest takeaways from the conference was affirmation that Wade and I are doing a lot of the right things. Believe me, this was not intuitive for us as a couple but is a complete display of God’s grace and restoration of broken lives. It is a miracle that we are together to begin with (ask me about the story sometime) and between my failed marriage and Wade waiting to marry in his 30’s after failed relationships, we had a good idea what didn’t work well and where we needed healing.

We chose to be deliberate about our relationship right from the beginning and have practiced learning and growing together with Christ in the centre. We know without God it would not be this sweet. One other standard was that divorce is never mentioned. There is no escape clause in this covenant made with God, till death do us part is not an addendum.

86% of people say that deficient communication was the cause of their marriage failing. Relationships don’t evolve on their own and nobody told me how difficult they were but I hope that someone hears that it takes work to make it work. There is no lack of teaching on communication and marriage out there. I will list some of the resources that have been helpful to us at the end of this blog.

A number of things have kept our marriage vibrant and perhaps I need to write more on this subject as it is close to my heart and exciting to be able to share with people how to do things differently or have another perspective anyway. I believe that strong marriages create a solid foundation for so many things in this world besides healthy families. As Dr. Chapman said, you both win when you serve each other God’s way, the way He created marriage to be. You can start with asking God how you can be a better spouse and what there is in you that you can improve.

Only we know ourselves, so what is it that you can do to tear down the wall on your side to make even a slight improvement in your marriage?

To be continued…

Resources

The Bible – https://www.youversion.com/ You can download the bible onto your mobile device

Love and Respect by Emerson Eggerichs http://loveandrespect.com/

The Sexually Confident Wife & The Passion Principles by Shannon Ethridge http://www.shannonethridge.com/

5 Love Languages & The Marriage You’ve Always Wanted by Gary Chapman http://www.5lovelanguages.com/

The Marriage Course by Alpha http://www.relationshipcentral.ca/

From This Day Forward – 5 part series from Lifechurch http://www.lifechurch.tv/watch/from-this-day-forward/

Imarriage by Andy Stanley

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Writer with a capital ‘W’

I recently attended a workshop at the Festival of Words in Moose Jaw. The workshop was facilitated by Cassie Stocks who is a Saskatchewan fiction writer and the author of Dance, Gladys, Dance. The workshop was called P.I.P.P., Passion, Intention, Practicality and Perseverance. God has been talking to me lately about the first and last words so my curiosity was ignited.

My son Owen came along so we tied this into one of our summer adventures after his friend cancelled. I said I would only stay for the first half and he was a good sport saying he would hang out in the library (thankfully he loves words and books as much as I do). Unbeknownst to me through our miscommunication he wandered the streets of M.J. for a time, but that is a story for another day.

Probably one of my greatest take aways from this workshop was that Cassie talked about how we think that as writers we all have to be the capital W writer. You know the one that sits down and spews out a best-selling novel in one sitting. Although this may have happened before, Cassie has discovered that is not all the norm. All writers start at the same place and we don’t have to be the capital W ones to make our writing valid or important.

I walked away believing deeply in me for probably the first time that I am a writer!!! Oh I have talked about wanting to be one and taking courses and workshops with that as my heart desire, but never really believing or trusting this is my path. God validated those thoughts in my spirit and I felt another piece of my identity click into place.

During the Perseverance section, (I had convinced Owen to hang in until the end and Cassie had invited him in) she asked, What do I love about writing? Why should I keep writing? We had a few minutes to write our answers and this is how I responded, ” Writing is a practical way of putting my thoughts together. I love the results of sitting down and having ideas come together to form a story. (It is so much easier for me to write something than to speak it on the spot) I love being able to inspire others and to give different perspectives on things. I should keep writing so that God can use my words to affect hearts. I should keep writing because it is an integral part of who I am. I give myself permission to be the writer that God made me to be. I should keep writing to finish what has been started. I can give voice to others’ emotional life through my writing (or so I’ve been told).

Sometimes ‘shoulding’ on ourselves has a negative connotation but I feel in this instance that writing is my tool to tell God’s stories and help others’ to see his heart. I have been blessed with a season to stay at home and pursue this further and I hope not to waste it. This verse came to mind, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart as working for the Lord, not for human masters.’ Colossians 3:23 I want to be as fully persuaded as Abraham was of who God is and to be able to share that.  Abraham was told he would be the Father of all nations through a child when he was almost 100 years old. This tells of his response, “Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had the power to do what he had promised.” Romans 4:20,21

Lord, help me to be fully persuaded of who you are and this path you have me on.  Help me to humbly remember that it is not about me and  I just need to be obedient to the things that you download to me to share with others!

These are the coles notes for each section of the workshop: (Thank you Cassie Stocks for your wisdom)

Passion – is what drives the need to write. This will keep us going through the long haul. Find ways to keep it going for your project and rekindle it if it is lost.

Intention – clarify the purpose of your work and remember your ideas are worth the work that needs to go into them. Ask, what is your intention for the piece and for the reader.

Practicality – is the craft of writing, the hammer and nails of the fabulous castles we all want to build. It completes the work after imagination gives ideas. List areas of strength and areas to improve and do these.

Perseverance – is what keeps writers going after five rejections in a row. Besides the questions about why I love writing, here we must also ask what stops me from writing and to explore that.

So if you are a writer, what stops you from writing? Why? What can you do to persevere through that? If your passion is not writing, what is it? What stops you from doing that? Take some time and explore these questions with God, you may be surprised at what comes out 🙂

Embracing the Teacher

I LOVE learning. I love learning about God, myself, and in general how people tick. We are a fascinating bunch that God has created. The world is never boring with all the mishmash of personalities, gifts and abilities God has lavished on us. I heard once that what stirs in your heart as a child is probably something you were meant to be. Every since I was a little girl, I wanted to be a teacher. It is a possibility had I not gotten cold feet that I would have been a school teacher for over 25 years already.I believe God had a different path in mind, even though I seem to have been doing hopscotch for a long time on it and not landing right in the square. I do believe this year is the revealing of my destiny and it will be evident that all I have done up until now has been the exact squares that God wanted me on. Oh I know sometimes I didn’t listen well or even know Him to hear but as I learned long ago, often the path we come around to is the one where we began and nothing has been wasted, even my backwards hops.

This path of thinking began as I searched for a teaching for my son and I looked through my boxes of journals and courses and bible studies and personality tests. There was a plethora of books, manuals and paper and my first thought was I should really get it together and decide what I want to be when I grow up. I didn’t like that thought so I went to the next one which I felt was God speaking to my spirit and He said you are what I made you to be, a teacher, one who has had to learn to do what I am calling you to do. In that one moment, the hole created by years of anguish over my lack of direction, was filled instead with reassurance and excitement.

I definitely don’t think this is a teacher in the common understanding of the word but what God has put in me to further His Kingdom, the way He wants me to be an ambassador of reconciling hearts to His. To help show people that the way is open to discover life and God, there is no obstacle in the way because Jesus took care of that. Lately I have been doing some studying on the 7 redemptive gifts of God. Romans 12:6-8 ” We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your[a] faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead,[b] do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.”

 I have been studying this concept according to Arthur Burk. He believes the 7 gifts are prophet, servant, teacher, exhorter, giver, ruler and mercy. He teaches that one of these is a defining template of our soul but in our spirit we are a blend of all seven gifts. He says our gifts are shaped by birth order, family dynamics and culture among other influences and that our gift is either muted or exaggerated by these things. Regardless of the influences, our original software stays in tact, it may just take some peeling to find and operate in it. As I have discovered my redemptive gift is teacher. I fought that truth for a while which is common for ones with that gift apparently ( I still have yet to discover why that is so, although I am thinking it has to do with the responsibility).  It makes a lot of sense though as I learn more about this part of my identity.

This is part of a description from a website about the gifts – ‘This temperament presents truth in a logical, systematic manner, enjoying word studies and reading. They are concerned that truth be established in every situation. They have strong convictions of facts, and can tend to neglect the practical applications.’ It was like that was part of my biography or they were in my head or something haha. My daughters have been known to say, if you want to know the truth about something, just ask Mom! And I think well yes! haha

As always, there are positive and negative aspects to most everything and so it is no different with redemptive gifts. One of the biggest areas of caution for me is to be careful not to let my love of knowledge and learning take the place of intimacy in my relationship with God. I remember Joyce Meyer saying, ‘We are educated way beyond our level of obedience.” I need to let the things I learn flow through me and not just store them up thinking it is a buffer for relationship with God. Our redemptive gifts are given to us so that we may glorify God, not for our own use. God gave me this verse at the beginning of the year when He showed me that my word for this year was to be present.  2 Timothy 2:15 ” Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.” This is my prayer as a teacher in whatever capacity He will have me be, that I will not misalign Him or His word.

What is your love danger? What can or does take the place of you having relationship with God? How can you turn that to show the majesty of God and seek Him instead?

The following websites are the ones that I  studied from for this blog. I encourage you to check them out and find out what your redemptive gift is for your place in this world to help reconcile hearts to God. Send your discoveries in a comment below.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wbhclJfW1_U&list=PL9CD6CF7C5BBF5F63&index=2

http://www.totalchange.org/Seven%20Redemptive%20Gifts.htm

http://storage.cloversites.com/crossroadscommunitychurch9/documents/Redemptive%20Gifts%20Outline%20(filled%20in).pdf

Be Present

At the beginning of 2014, we were challenged by our church to ask God for a word for the year. I know for some of those that participated, their word was usually an area that needed some fine tuning, an area that God had put His finger on to press deeper into trusting Him. Be Present was the ‘word’ I felt that God impressed upon me and ironically (or not) this has been an area of challenge this year more than ever before.

Present – being, existing or occurring at this time or now, current.

It seems like a simple concept doesn’t it? Be present, stay in the moment, enjoy what is happening now. I feel that I have tried so hard to engage in the present moments that I am missing them.  The late author,  Louis L’Amour described my dilemma well, “Few of us ever live in the present. We are forever anticipating what is to come or remembering what has gone.”

I often joke that I have the spiritual gifts of organizing and filling in where help is needed. Being a scheduler makes it difficult for me not to always look ahead. I realized recently that my anal retentive desire to plan stems from a lack of trusting in God. Initially in my early adult life, not trusting God was because I did not know Him or that I could. Once I did know Him I didn’t learn how to steward my gift and it kept me more independent and not totally present to letting the Spirit lead me. I was leaning on my own strength instead of trusting God to guide me.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways submit to him and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5,6

Wait, wait, ALL your heart and ALL your ways? Lean not on my own understanding, But Lord, I understand my understanding…And then I read it again and thankfully it does not say, Trust in Deanna with all your heart.  And He reminds me, “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:9.

I don’t think that Peter was trusting in himself when he said to Jesus in the middle of the night, in the middle of the lake, in the middle of the storm, “Lord if it is you, tell me to come to you on the water.” and Jesus, despite his foreknowledge that Peter would take his eyes off of him and sink, said, “Come.” Matthew 14:28,29. Jesus met Him in the present moment, Peter was so desperate to go where Jesus was that He was willing to jump off the boat for Him. At that moment, Peter was trusting in the Lord with All of his heart.

It is in the moments that we learn to trust. Perhaps being present is acknowledging Him in all that we do, all we encounter, in all situations good or bad. A synonym for present is to be available, my scheduling, planning and structure is the boat that keeps me from not stepping out and allowing Him to work. I say this with understanding that some scheduling is crucial sometimes to keep a little order in the chaos of life. When I overschedule though, it allows no room to be stepping out of the boat and being available to the present things God would have me do.

What is your boat?  Is your heart so desperate for Jesus that you will jump out of the boat? If not, what is keeping you there? Take some time and ask Him if He wants you to come.  Are you being present to the fleeting moments of your life in your own strength or God’s?

The song Oceans by Hillsong United was inspired by Peter’s story, perhaps it will encourage you to step out of your boat. It certainly is challenging me to be present in the presence of my Saviour.