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Why Marriage Matters: Embracing New Seasons as Couples

Embrace this new seasonThis week is going to be an emotional, yet exciting week for our family. Our youngest leaves on Thursday for college, which pushes Hubby and me into a new season of life—empty nesters.

After we came home from school shopping last Saturday, I posted a comment on Facebook stating I wasn’t ready for Thursday to come, and I asked my Facebook friends if the empty nesters had any advice to share.

I loved reading through all of the comments, which suggested tissues, enjoy it while we can since kids seem to come back home, etc, but one comment by my Ponderer sister Jennifer Annderson really struck my heart. She said,

“Embrace this new season to date your husband,

take on new challenges and focus some time on yourself.

Give the time and energy you so easily give to others

on your hubby and yourself.”

When Hubby and I started dating over 25 years ago, we had an unusual courtship. He was stationed 6 hours from me, so our relationship blossomed through letters, phone calls and weekend visits. We learned to make the most of the time we had together. Then after we got married and started a family, our couple time was pretty non-existent as we juggled family, work, church, school activities, etc.

Now that both of our boys will be in college, our evenings will be very quiet. So much of our relationship has been centered on our boys and their needs.

Now it’s our time.

Our time to reconnect.

Our time to rediscover the passion for one another that brought us together in the first place.

Our time for ourselves.

As I put on makeup before church on Sunday, I had to dry my eyes several times in order to apply mascara. I kept thinking it was the last worship service with my son before he left for college.

As a mom, I highlighted many firsts during my boys’ developing years. But as new “firsts” emerge, my mama’s heart wants to cling to some of those “lasts.”

My son has been in church since he was a young toddler. Sunday morning, I had a discussion with God as I unburdened my aching heart. God cradled me and reminded me He had to let his Son go too, so He understood my pain. But, He also reminded me our son has a rooted faith, and he wouldn’t be along as he embarked on this new adventure in his life.

I breathed in the knowledge that God’s got this. God understands my struggle to let go and let my boys live their lives, but He reminds me He has a plan and purpose for their lives. I need to allow Him to do a good work in them.

And He also reminded me of Jennifer’s words of wisdom to embrace our new season to date each other, to take on new challenges and to give the time and energy we poured into others and pour it back into our marriage. After all, God’s got that too.

 

Lisa Jordan
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Guest Blogger Angie Arndt: Lemon Chess Relationships

Several years before she died, my mother-in-law asked me to name my favorite Bible story. I told her it was the story of Ruth. Not too many moments before we’d been having a heated argument about something insignificant – not a unique experience. My answer, the Bible story chronicling the love between a daughter-in-law and mother-in-law, left her speechless – definitely a unique experience!

By the time I’d married her youngest son, she’d been a widow for more than a decade. Her husband, a handsome Naval officer, died at age 54 after a series of heart attacks that began when he was just 32-years-old. So, as her friends were making travel plans with their retired spouses, my mother-in-law was learning to live alone for the first time in her life. In the eyes of those around her, she grew stubborn and hard-to-please. She was just as Naomi must have been to have changed her name to Mara … bitter. 

My mother-in-law was a typical Southern woman, accustomed to a rigidly-structured, matriarchal society. There were strict rules: “when ironing a dress shirt start with the sleeves first” or “homemade pie crusts are best.” As a newlywed and her next-door neighbor, at first I would quietly listen and then do whatever I pleased. (Someone had to keep the dry cleaners and grocery stores in business!) But later, I grew more confident. If she had a strong opinion on a topic, I had an equally-strong-but-opposite opinion. We argued about everything from careers to wall colors. (My poor husband!) 

When she developed cancer, I was given “the opportunity” to help care for her. I took that opportunity with much fear and trembling. As I watched her valiantly win that long battle against cancer, my attitudes changed. What I thought was stubbornness was actually courage and tenacity. What I took for offensiveness really meant she trusted me enough to be candid. Five years later, when she lost her battle to congestive heart failure, I realized that being able to care for her had been a gift from God. She had become my friend. 

I still miss her. I even miss our arguments. As I write this, I wonder, could Ruth have been strong enough to make it in a foreign land without Naomi? I don’t think so.

Here is my mother-in-law’s recipe for lemon chess pie. A little sour, a little bitter, but oh-so-sweet and worth the trouble!

Lemon Chess Pie

1 cup of sugar
½ stick of margarine or butter
2 eggs
Juice and grated rind of 1 lemon
Pinch of salt
Unbaked pie crust

Cream butter and sugar in mixer. Add unbeaten eggs, one at a time. Then, add juice and rind together with salt. Pour into pie crust and bake slowly for 20 – 30 minutes at 300 degrees. Makes one pie.

Your Turn: What about you? Do you have any Lemon Chess Relationships?

 

Lisa Jordan
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Guest Blogger Jessica Patch: Nothing Says I Love You Like Dog Poo

I met Jessica R. Patch online through her hilarious, yet spiritually moving blog, What Are You Doing Here. She’s one whom I can’t wait to meet in person. Her posts make me LOL and nearly bring me to tears. And I always leave with some nugget of wisdom. 

Jessica R. Patch writes inspirational contemporary romance with plenty of mystery and suspense. A passion to draw women into intimacy with God keeps her motivated, along with heaping cups of caffeine in the form of coffee. When she’s not hunched over her laptop or speaking to a women’s group, you can find her sneaking off to movies with her husband, embarrassing her daughter in unique ways, beating her son at board games and contemplating how to get rid of her irksome dog (she hasn’t attempted any of them…yet). She is represented by Rachel Kent of Books & Such Literary Agency.

~*~

I woke up early, on purpose. Bible study, coffee, and reading a few blogs before Zumba and work. My husband was ten minutes to giving me my morning kiss and heading off to his job.

Naturally, my dog gets up when I do. I don’t know why. I’m an animal tolerate. I want to be an animal person. I’m just not.

I let her out to do her morning biz and proceeded to the brewed heaven. Before I had the chance to take a sip, Sarah (my dog) is at the door, nose to the glass ready to come in. But I notice something about my little Schnauzer/terrier mix. Something is clinging to her backside. A lot of something.

Oh. My. Gosh. I can’t let her in! But…

I go into the bathroom, hubby is standing at the sink–khakis, bare chest, a smidge of shaving cream still lingering behind his ear. “The dog has poop stuck to her butt.”

He looked at me through the mirror. “Ok.”

He makes no mention to help me out. I go back to the kitchen grab a wad of paper towels, roll up the sleeves to my picked, but favorite robe and step outside. “I hate you,” I muttered. I tried to pull it off, but it smeared into her fur. I gagged. Wiped.

Then puked all over my patio.

I came inside, turned on the water, rinsed my mouth and hubby came in and saw me. He was already running late. I fell against the wall, pulled a perfect Lucille Ball….waaaaaah! “I didn’t sign up for this!”

He went outside, got the dog and brought her in. Then he washed away the filth, cut off some funky hair and said, “I didn’t either. But I love you… Throw the scissors away.”

I sniffed, wiped my eyes and kissed my husband good bye.

And I realized the honeymoon is over, but my husband is still deeply in love with me. What else could it be?

And then I thought about God. Isn’t that the kind of love He has for us? When no one else wants to let us in because we’re full of filth and stankiness, He does. He loves us enough to not puke on the patio. To cut wash us clean, and to cut away funky “hair.”

When the poo hits the fan, that’s when love it tested. Or in my case, when the poo hits my dog’s butt.

Your Turn: What has your spouse or loved one done for you to show real love?

Lisa Jordan
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Guest Blogger Matthew Sheehy: Changing Your Expectations

I met Matthew Sheehy through My Book Therapy. He’s one of the nicest (and funniest) guys I know. We work together on the Voices e-zine where he writes A Manly Mindset–a column for female writers from a man’s point of view. When I started blogging about romance and marriage, I thought it would be great to have a guy share every now and then. Matthew gives us a wonderful perspective from a happily married husband and father. 

Matthew is a 2012 Genesis finalist in the Mystery/Suspense/Thriller category. He writes from Northwest Indiana, just outside of Chicago. He is a graduate of the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry at Syracuse University, Duke University, and Hyles-Anderson Seminary. When he’s not working on his stories, he’s working a full-time job in the environmental field or writing and editing Sunday school material for the First Baptist Church of Hammond, Indiana.

~*~

My enthusiasm for my sixth birthday party butted with my mom’s sanity as she cleaned and baked and stuffed party bags. To get me out of her hair, my dad took me to the store where I used birthday cash to buy my first four Star Wars figures.

When I got home, the party was awesome. When my best friend’s mom picked him up and said, “See you later, Dotty,” to my mom, the gears of my young brain cranked as I assumed she meant later that day. I thought, “Why will she see my mom later today?”

She said it because I was having a second birthday party! At least, that’s what I figured.

For the rest of the afternoon and evening I dropped hints that I knew something big was going to happen that night. However, I cried as my mom tucked me into bed. She was frustrated and asked, “Why are you crying? You’ve had a great party and got lots of presents!”

Through my water-logged eyes, I whimpered, “I didn’t get my second birthday party.”

Mom was right. It had been a great day, but my expectations didn’t allow me to savor its quality.

You evaluate the quality of your relationships based on the standards of your expectations. Someone could treat you like royalty and throw you a party every day, but if you’re expecting two parties out of them, they disappoint you and you question the relationship.

Have you ever considered if your relationship problems stem from unrealistic and selfish expectations?

My wife and I were married ten years before we had a little girl. When we got married we planned to have our first at three years and to have four total kids. After a few tests the doctors determined that my wife had fertility issues. For the next few years I wrestled with the thought, “Maybe I made a mistake marrying her.”

I felt cheated.

Sometimes seeing moms with their kids triggered a smothering grief.

I eventually had an epiphany: I didn’t love my wife like I should.

My struggles stemmed from my expectations. I made new expectations, putting aside how many kids I should have, how much money I planned to make, what type of car I’d drive, or how big of a house I’d live in. I expected myself to love her as is, without expecting anything from her. I expected to struggle, to not get my way, to see what good God would do with the hurts.

Don’t aim for nothing. Expect yourself to reach for the stars. However when it comes to relationships, maybe you need to change your expectations and treasure whatever others give you instead of demanding something from them.

Give yourself without expecting reciprocation.

If you did, you might realize that your life is a fun party. It might even be like two birthday parties…in the same day.

Your turn: Share a time when you felt cheated because of your expectations. How did you overcome those expectations?  

Lisa Jordan
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Guest Blogger Reba J. Hoffman: Loving Life in a Single’s Heart

Sometimes you meet a certain person who ends up changing your life for the better. Reba J. Hoffman is such a person. I met Reba through My Book Therapy–during the chats, at first, then in person at the premiere My Book Therapy Storycrafters Retreat. It was like we had known each other our whole lives. 

Reba is a natural encourager with a passion to help individuals live the life they desire. She has dedicated her life to others and finds no greater fulfillment than to watch those she coaches succeed. She lives a simple life by design and to show others how to as well. She takes the complicated and makes it simple, not the other way around. She found her true north and does everything within her power to not only stay there, but to show others the way to their own true north. To learn more about Reba, or how to find your own true north, visit her at Magellan Life Coaching

~*~ 

I’ve been single all my life. Oh, I’ve had relationships with some wonderful men. Some ended with a friendly parting of ways. Others in tragedy, yet all were experiences of the heart I would not trade for anything.

Singles are often misunderstood, misinterpreted and misinformed by those who have never walked in our shoes. I’m commonly asked questions like, “What’s wrong with you? Don’t you like men?” Or, “So why did you choose to never get married?” Oh, and I love this one, “How long have you been a nun?”

The world draws the most interesting conclusions about singles, especially single women. But I have to tell you, I find single women to have a unique balance of self-reliance and fairytale wonder. Our hearts are turned to the hope of what knight in shining armor might be waiting around the next bend, while our practicality made sure we have enough gas and food for the journey.

Most single women I know feel complete in themselves. They don’t feel like only half a person because they haven’t snagged their man. Yet, they also feel strangely left out of parts of life that include family, children and married couples.

Once I was asked to read a romance novel. I have to admit, that’s not necessarily the type of book I would pick up on my own but I read it. When I gave my critique I was asked if I was married. That shocked me but I answered truthfully. The lady patted me on the arm and asked, “Well then, how would you know, dear?”

Singles have a deep and abiding love. It’s how we’re wired. Perhaps we don’t have one person we can bestow all that affection towards. That’s true enough but the love is still there. Those with love in their hearts will find someone or something to give it to. It’s natural and in God’s design.

We’re normal and we have human emotions. We are capable of love. We’re not all going to go to the convent or pledge a life of singlehood. We’re not broken or defective. We’re singles… with loving hearts and a zest for the greatest things… Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Your Turn: Are you single or know someone who is? What experiences have you had? Why not share those with us?

Lisa Jordan
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