Integration

This has been a great day!  After a little intimate time this morning ūüėČ (day 91 for those that are wondering) I set off for a day alone with my God. Never before would I have had the courage to ask for a day alone when Chandra and I are on a vacation just the two of us.  But I have discovered that as a part of my healing I need this!  If I am constantly around the noise of people who need me and look to me for leadership, or even just the constant noise of society, I tend to ignore my own needs. And I, too, need time to meditate and grow and receive love from God, which only happens when I get alone with Him.  

And the enemy wants me to believe that if I take time for myself, I am being selfish, or, even worse, that the world will fall apart without me there to control it. 

Right now, my struggle is with INTEGRATION.  Everything I read, every conference I go to, all my conversations seem to be centered around integration – integration of my inner child, my poser and my TRUE self – who God wants me to be.

I have discovered in this challenge, in my healing, that I can’t be someone different than who I believe I am.  I have men that admire me, even my wife admires me (most days) – but living from my poser makes me present a different “Matt” to each one.  I am afraid of the rejection I will feel if I present my true self that God created me to be so I have built this elaborate facade of who I think they want me to be!  My wife is constantly saying how men in my life don’t really KNOW me. And she is probably right.  I have built this mask that makes me look really good, but functions as a wall so I don’t get hurt.  Now as a result, very few people really know me.  Heck I’ve been living behind that mask for so long that some days I don’t even know myself!

But God is in the process of breaking me (the old me – the false me) and integrating all those broken parts of me into the man he wants me to be in this world.  And everyone in my life will be a benefactor in the process.  I will be a better husband, a better father, a better chiropractor, and a better friend as a result of this painful season.  

Today, in my time alone, God came for me.  He sent Jesus to sit beside me on the shore of this small lake outside of town, and showed me where he has come to set me free from my old life so I could live a new life, dead to sin and alive to God! And it’s available to anyone who asks. My challenge to you is to ask for that healing so you can offer your true self to your wife, and see what he will do to your marriage in the process. 

We will post more about our weekend when we rejoin civilization next week!  For now I wish you a great holiday weekend.

“So you also should consider yourselves to be dead to the power of sin and alive to God through Christ Jesus.”

Romans 6:11

Time Alone with God on Vacation

This is a special day for hubby and I, a first.  When we discussed this weekend away, hubby had recently read about us needing to CHOOSE time apart and time with God.  He brought his discovery to me, with hesitation I could tell, and asked if I would be okay with it.  I first thought, how brave and sexy he was by simply asking, and then I thought, “how cool”. Choosing a day apart, some in nature and some doing things like this, is something I don’t know if I would have asked for because of me being so extroverted and yet I knew would be so blessed.  I agreed and today is the day!  My thoughts are wandering all over the place and Dad and I are getting aligned with worship music and sharing some of those thoughts so I can move forward.

The sexual wanderings of my mind are getting into deep communion with Dad, so I wandered back to the shift in our sex lives.  Years ago, the year the surgeries began (2004), hubby and I found a book called The Long Erotic Weekend.  We found the CD’s of groups in discussion between assignments and took those along for our weekend.  We gathered our tools and planned a long weekend of the two of us exploring, learning and growing in our sex life together.  We headed to Eureka Springs, AR (ironically, where we are this weekend) and rented a house on Holiday Island and started our home made workshop.  One really cool thing about my hubby is, if he isn’t good at something that is important to him, me or us, and he is eager to get better and will research and act!  We’ve done many marriage seminars and sought counseling all the way through our marriage because we love better when we understand the other person.

I haven’t been back to the book in years so I’m not sure of the specifics but these are the things I was thinking about this morning.  The night we got there, Wednesday, we set up our little house and shopped for groceries, I remember it being the first vacation I didn’t stockpile junk food because we decided to eat healthy.  Day 1, we “met” with the other couples and started OUR long erotic weekend, that day I believe, was a day to reconnect with each other.  We went shopping a bit (for the girl), we spent time in discussion and answering questions group brought up for us, we cooked together, and we got mentally together.  Day 2, I believe, was my day to discover hubby and get to HIS heart.  We met with the group a few times and read some things but everything that day was about HIM! ( I should add, we weren’t allowed to have intercourse that day or the next, we saved that part of sex for the last day!)  The weekend was about finding our way to the heart and deep desire for each other and it isn’t always the final act that brings life to your sex life.  I have attempted to recall what I did outside of the house with hubby but I do believe I took him to do something he enjoys.

Day 3 was hubby’s day to discover the way to my heart.  He says he isn’t very good at romance, I would disagree with that statement or alter it a bit…He IS good at romancing me when he takes time to plan things, it isn’t a lot, therefore, I cherish each one!  I recall that day he took me to a local spa and treated me to a mud, a massage, and a jacuzzi for 2! He thought about, treated, and pleased me all day that day and, as the night before, we went to bed sexually frustrated and in eager anticipation of Day 4!

Day 4 was all about US.  We spent most of that day in bed which, prior to that trip, wasn’t a typical day for us.  Since that early time of exploration, those days have definitely increased.  You can only imagine what day 4 looks like but for us, it was a glorious day in the Kingdom.  It was a day that God, hubby, and I became a new creation, a day that we sought after one another first with intention and God has blessed us for that commitment many times over.  I challenge married readers to seek out teaching for ANY AND ALL areas in your marriage you want healing or want to be good doing.  The book I mentioned isn’t Biblically based, it may be new age things even, but God looks at the heart so it was a Biblically based weekend in our world because God used it for our good.  Isn’t that what the bible says, “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good” Genesis 50:20, my translation, God gave us the act of sexual intercourse as a means to be ONE with our spouse, Satan stole it and made it an evil thing, God is restoring all that was lost in our marriage through sex.  The undertones of the world are in that weekend material, but God used the world’s approach to sex to enhance and teach those that aren’t talking about it and putting God in the middle.  Maybe one day hubby and I will design a weekend experience for married couples and make God the center of the entire thing, hmmm, something to wander to today… Have a great weekend and I will check back in after this long erotic weekend!

Mornings

This morning, I’m a happy and eager wife. Hubby is gone to work and our challenge won’t be completed until tonight, so I will wait with patience, but my hubby is good! ¬†Most mornings, 99%, hubby and I start the day in prayer, actually, he prays over me. ¬†This has to be one of the most special things in our marriage to me and it only began because of this challenge. ¬†Before our challenge, some days hubby would slip out of the house quiet as possible so he didn’t wake me. ¬†I loved that he was so sweet to let me sleep but when we began our challenge, we set up a morning routine that assures us to connect in the morning and I haven’t missed sleeping in, even though it was rare.

What does your morning routine look like? ¬†I would imagine that in most homes it looks like ours used to when we both worked, you wake up and wish you could go back to sleep. In years past, we awoke and started running. ¬†Now, before hubby leaves for work, I get up and remove my clothes (there is something so sexy about being naked when hubby is dressed in his suit), he prays with me, and we do a mini make-out session. ¬†Yes, I get undressed! ¬†This is our new “normal” and I love it! ¬†I don’t remember a day that I was disappointed in our new normal, actually I am not sure what I would do if it went away! ¬† ¬†When we started this challenge, we knew that our desire for one another had to start at the beginning of the day and this is what we established, together.

I love getting undressed in the morning for him, unless I spent the night undressed;). ¬†When I get up and undress, I do it so that hubby can admire my body first thing and from that, he makes me feel like the most gorgeous creature God ever created and that is the biggest turn on! ¬†Sometimes he makes a noise while I’m undressing, a little sound of “wow, I love that and I love her!”, oh how I love that sound! The process creates an intimacy that we are both seeking and I only dreamed could happen.

I don’t know if our routine will change when the challenge ends but I do know that I hope praying together before he leaves never changes. ¬†Connecting with one another in body, soul, and Spirit is the best gift I offer to hubby and he offers to me and it is good. ¬†I challenge everyone reading this to ask God and your spouse what kind of morning routine you can set up to connect before you go out to face the world, it will be worth whatever sacrifice you have to make!

Hubby, I’m eagerly anticipating tonight!

Attention

I tend to need a lot of attention I think. ¬†I don’t know if it’s because I didn’t get any from my dad growing up (or now), not that I really wanted his attention. ¬†Maybe it’s because my mom passed away in 2007 and I shared everything with her? ¬†When your mom is gone and you are best friends, there isn’t a safe place to take it anymore. ¬†Hubby is my best friend, but he is also a guy and can only handle so much conversation. ¬†I will give him kudos here, he listens to all of my talking and responds to at least half, for a guy, he’s exceptional.

This morning started out differently for a Sunday, I woke up extra early and couldn’t go back to sleep. ¬†Hubby handed me my phone to read my bible plans and decided to stay awake and read too. ¬†We read a lot of the Word in the mornings, it is our ritual, usually hubby gets up and goes to his den and I stay in our bed (it’s too cold to get out of bed when you don’t wear much). ¬†This morning, he stayed in bed next to me, we read for about 45 minutes, it takes me longer, and by the time I was done he was snoring. ¬†I hoped he’d wake up and we could pray together instead of separately, no such luck. ¬†I sneaked off to my war room to write a few thoughts and just as I was starting paragraph two, hubby walked in dressed in shorts, shirt and hat. ¬†He didn’t say anything other than responding to my curious look, “I’m going outside to get the stuff done to get the tiller back before church”. My thoughts went so many places at that, and none of them were clear in that moment but I felt a twinge of pain in my heart. ¬†He then responded to my next look of confusion with, “are you okay?”.

I responded to his question with, “yea”, but I knew I wasn’t okay. ¬†I didn’t really know what was happening but it wasn’t okay. ¬†He left to head outside and I stopped writing to think through my feelings and figure out what they were about. ¬†Quickly I discovered that I was hurt because there was nothing in him coming in my room about me. ¬†Is that selfish? Doesn’t he tell other men that you start the romance at the beginning of the day? ¬†Is he being hypocritical? ¬†I’d say no to that, but will add a thought, he is a highly blessed man. ¬†I don’t require as much as the average woman in romance, but I have been high maintenance most of our marriage (not as much so now) and he has taken care of me well. I think today, I really needed some of his gentleness and he got in a hurry to take care of things that had to be done.

I did respond to my feelings with finding him and attempting to explain how I felt. Unfortunately for me right now, he isn’t listening with his gentle ears and isn’t yet in hubby mode. ¬†I know he will get there, today even, because that is the kind of man he is. I think I may need more attention than a lot of women but please keep in mind that this year, we’re having sex every day, it takes a lot of attention! ¬†Today we will have sex and it will be filled with passion, very few days haven’t been. ¬†We will get there, he will switch gears and put us first because he always does eventually. ¬†I married the perfectly right man for me,. one that gives me so much attention that I agreed to 224 days of sex in a row!

More on cell phones…

I agree with Chandra that cell phones (and other technology/distractions…it’s not limited to just cell phones) are one of the methods that the enemy steals from marriages.  Can we really not just put down our phones when we walk through the door and pick them up on the way to work the next morning?  Is anything more important than time with our spouse or children?

I believe I know the answers to those questions – and for many of you out there reading this, and me, the answer to both of those questions is NO.  No, nothing is more important to me than time with Chandra, or my kids when they are home.  AND.  No, I can’t leave the stupid phone alone!  If it rings, or buzzes, or beeps, my heart starts racing and I have to know who is trying to reach me.  It feels as if, IN THE MOMENT, nothing is more important than what is happening on my phone.  

But in reality – my phone can probably wait!

So, HOW CAN I PUT DOWN THE PHONE and show Chandra that it is true, No one is more important?  That, friends, is what we are trying to figure out, negotiate, and in all ways come to agreement on so that we don’t keep hurting each other by the distraction of today’s technology. 

And when we can get rid of the distraction of phones, I believe we will have more time for each other and the things that matter, like The Challenge –  I mean, what else are we going to do with our time?!

15 So be careful how you live. Don’t live like ignorant people, but like wise people. 16 Make good use of every opportunity you have, because these are evil days.

Ephesians 5:15-16

I Mess Up, Cell Phones Steal

Yesterday morning, hubby and I planned to stay in bed together for the morning.  We woke up around 7am and began doing our Treasure Time while we laid next to each other.  After we finished reading and praying our daily prayer, I turned to hubby and asked if I could have 10 minutes to finish my morning stuff.  He said yes, but I do know he really wanted to say no, next time I hope he does.  That 10 minutes cost us a lot of the morning and hurt feelings on both sides as the enemy came in and stole a couple of hours of our time.

Let me explain. ¬†I have a word game that I play on my phone two or three times a day and I typically have played by 9am or so. ¬†I play with the same people and they look for me to get them a round by mid-morning and I didn’t know how long our time would be otherwise occupied. ¬†Before I asked for that, hubby and I were laying naked, bodies touching, while we read the Word of God and for us, that is stimulating. ¬†I don’t know why I needed that time, I can only assume the enemy knew he might get me side-tracked. ¬†I fell for it! ¬†He left the room and by the time the 10 minutes were through, I was worked up over not receiving a text the day before from someone that committed to text me. ¬†The text was important because it led to me getting our anniversary pictures and as you may know, that was held on March 26. ¬†I had a commitment to 3 weeks, then 4, then 5 and by yesterday, I was in a flood of tears because my mind started playing with me and saying to me that I would never get them. ¬†Within the next 5 minutes, we were on to other subjects that fit in to the topic and were both having feelings of disappointment and pain. ¬†I stormed off to my war room and he to his den, following words thrown out that never needed to be said from both sides. ¬†I maintained calmness when we got to the root, but hubby didn’t even know how we got to the subject we did and was so upset by then that he couldn’t hear well. ¬†When he spoke up about it and felt unable to get back to intimacy, I truly listened to him.

Hubby pointed out to me where it began and what stole our time and here’s the truth…I messed up! ¬†We were ¬†at a place of intimacy and planned to fulfill our challenge in the morning and I…ME…I did it…I jumped out of intimacy with him to seek the world for 10 minutes. ¬†I heard him loud and clear and he was so right, I let the outside world steal me for 10 minutes and it turned out to be 2 hours! ¬†Once our intimacy is broken, it is tough for either one of us to desire making love. ¬†As I heard him share his feelings through beautiful emotion and words, I realized how wrong I was to seek the outside world when it is his time.

“There is not greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” Jn 15:13

Hubby is my BEST FRIEND! ¬†I don’t know about your marriage, but mine is sacred and what I did yesterday for our marriage was damaging, I wanted to use my phone. ¬†I most assuredly wasn’t laying myself down. ¬†We have talked a lot recently about cell phones and the distraction of pain they cause in our home. ¬†Not that it is bad stuff we are doing on there, a lot of time we are reading the bible, but the distraction isn’t good for us and we’ve decided we will negotiate and make agreements on usage at home. ¬†Look at your life and see where the enemy is stealing your intimacy, then make a commitment to make it look different because it is so worth it!

Challenge: ¬†Sit down with your spouse and negotiate at least one hour (more if you are brave) each evening for a week, where you don’t use ANY technology, not even TVs. ¬†Invest in each other for that hour, talk or dance or make love or tell jokes, anything to invest in your life together. ¬†My favorite thing to do with hubby is bible study at this point. ¬†Discover your favorite things to do and then, repeat them often!

Hidden Issues

I was listening to a Steven Furtick message this morning called Hidden Issues.  If you haven’t ever heard him before, he’s an incredible teacher.  This morning he was speaking on Jacob and all of his herds (watered way down – his herds are what he “hides behind”, or his “poser”, as Hubby will get to explain as John Eldredge has taught him), and how he finally crossed the Jabbock.

I was talking to my best friend yesterday and some things were happening that had my mind wander to “what goes on behind closed doors”.  I will be the first person to tell you that I don’t believe much about what people present to me, I am constantly listening for the truth behind the closed doors.  That being said, I am also attempting to be as transparent and authentic as God has me to be with the general public, the masses.  In the Spirit of that, hubby and I have issues.  We got past the biggest one and now, we are on to number 2 and 3 and 4 and, you get it.  We’ve been married for 25 years, we have laundry lists like everyone else does.  We know for sure that we are not uncommon in that our “brothers and sisters everywhere are facing the same trials” as it says in the bible.

We put issue 2 on the back burner for a couple of weeks so that we could sit in our restoration, we are headed to Eureka Springs for a holiday soon and I am eagerly anticipating what God will do with that trip!  Yesterday was a challenge for us.  THE CHALLENGE looked bleak for sure.  Hubby left the house in a fit of anger around 8pm and I finished dinner, cleaned the kitchen, prayed…A LOT! and held to may faith in him and our marriage.  We both yelled at each other, his passion for his feelings was ablaze, and interestingly, back to my first point, no one would guess the heated debates we have here. I’m not advocating the way we do things, I am saying that because of our own brokenness, we hurt each other and make asses of ourselves to each other.  It’s so interesting to me now that my eyes are opening, he and I started this journey into adulthood together.  God gave me to him and him to me to learn about the opposite sex.  We are kindred and we have so much to offer the other one if we can lay down our issues and our pride.

Beautifully, God restored quicker than I even thought it would be.  We began talking by text and for us, in these situations, it helps us hear one another better some times.  The last thing he sent me was a text that read, “Can I please come home and give you a massage and make love to you?”.  As I read it, I didn’t even need the massage, I was grateful he had seen something that God was showing him and he was ready to love again. During the massage I asked him, “why the massage?”, he answered with, “I’ve been wanting to do it for awhile, and I thought tonight it would be a way to connect without a lot of communication”.  I know we have issues, they are ours and they are no different than every married couples that we know.  When transparency about what is happening behind closed doors is revealed to those that can help, be grateful and grab ahold.  These issues grow the longer we ignore them and patch them.

Last night, after my massage, hubby made love to me and as we were coming to the climax, we looked in one another’s eyes and God said to me, “it is all for My glory and it will all be good”.  I don’t know everyone’s story of their heart but I do know we all have the same heart when we love Jesus and as brothers and sisters in Christ, we help one another heal.

Sex: Sacred and Fun

I was reading in a bible plan called Your Best Sex Life in 5 Days, today was the last day. ¬†I was telling hubby what I was reading in it and he said that he started it too. ¬†I haven’t seen it show up that he was reading it and asked about that, he said that he put it on private just seeing what it said. ¬†I told him that if others saw both of us reading it, they may question the excitement of sex in our marriage. ¬†It brought a chuckle. ūüėČ

I hope we all know that it takes more than five days to get to your BEST sex life and you may wonder why we would read it at all?  I am consistently doing research of biblical principles when it comes to sex.  Reading in Song of Solomon, my eyes were opened a few years ago, I realized that God really is an advocate for our sex lives and the reason to me is because IT IS an act of worship and God wants us to be ONE with our spouse.

“The husband should fulfill his wife’s sexual needs, and the wife should fulfill her husband’s needs. ¬†The wife give authority over her body to her husband, and the husband give authority over his body to his wife” 1 Corinthians 7:3-4

This is rather self explanatory, don’t you think? ¬†What is doesn’t say is that one of us should get our needs met and not the other, or that only the guy gets an orgasm. ¬†It is simple for a man to orgasm, it’s a matter of friction. ¬†I realize that isn’t always true, very little is anything always true in this world. ¬†But, for the most part, God made men to get up quickly and get to their end just as quickly. ¬†It takes relationship to make sex work for both partners and a lot of effort, most of the time.

Hubby and I have been working on our sex life for 25 years and although super incredible, there is always room for improvement on both sides! ¬†Working on it for us looks like this: ¬†LOTS of conversation, transparency about fantasies, more conversation, fear of exposure to each other and the judgment, more conversation, trying things on for size to see if it works for one or both, more conversation, reading things to learn questions to ask, more conversation….

Is it starting to sink in? ¬†Conversation is KEY!! Also, having an open mind to the possibilities helps a lot. ¬†Keep in mind, especially women, we all grow up with ideas of what sex looks like and think of things or see things that we might like to try. ¬†Talking to your spouse about those things is risky, we both get that, but the risk is worth the reward! One spouse has to be willing to start by sharing, it may not work out the first conversation so that the rest is easy or you don’t feel judged. ¬†That is part of it. ¬†Start by telling your spouse what you want your bedroom life to look like after the work has been invested and see if they have a similar view. ¬†I think most married couples want a blessed sex life but risk is involved and courage runs low in our society.

It’s interesting, hubby has been reading a book called No More Mr. Nice Guy and it said that Mr. Nice Guys don’t usually have fulfilling sex lives with their wives. ¬†When he read that to me, he stopped, looked up and said, “At least I don’t have to worry about that!”. ¬†I thought to myself, “thank you God that we have made that part of our marriage work for both of us and hubby getting the confidence that comes from that”. ¬†Maybe I am extra needy in the bedroom and so that wouldn’t have worked for me, either way, we are grateful for where God has us and that we haven’t been afraid of giving ourselves to the sexual part of our marriage. ¬†I pray each person reading this will start conversation with Dad about finding fulfillment for yourself and your spouse sexually!

Challenge:  Begin a list, ask God to awaken the areas that have gone to sleep for you sexually.  After starting that list, go to your spouse and ask if you can share some of your fantasies and if they would be willing to help you fulfill them.  Ask your spouse to make a list too and share with you.  (If there is concern about this religiously, please see inserted scripture above.)

What does spiritual leadership look like?

Here is my current thought process:

As a husband I am called to lead my wife.

As a father I am called to lead my children.

As a Christian I am called to lead others.

Whether I am intentional about it or not, I am still leading by my example in this world- that means, whether I acknowledge it or not, I am ALWAYS a leader. It is my choice whether to be a good one or a bad one!

Knowing that to be true, it makes since to me to have a model of leadership to follow.¬†Jesus said he came to SERVE, not BE SERVED. ¬†In Ephesians 5 Paul writes,¬†“25¬†For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her. .¬†. 28¬†In the same way, husbands ought to love their wives as they love their own bodies. For a man who loves his wife actually shows love for himself.”

(And I think this is how we model for our kids how to be good spouses when they grow up!)

And then in John 15 Jesus says this:

“12¬†This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. 13¬†There is no greater love than to lay down one‚Äôs life for one‚Äôs friends.”

So many times my HUMAN nature wants me to be selfish. But I have found that by¬†laying down my SELF, and serving I find the most JOY. (I haven’t always done this well, but today this is what I am striving for.)¬† I want to leave¬†a legacy of GIVING, not taking.

Am I always good at it?  Uh, no.  But freedom comes when I can admit my shortcomings, and then apologize for them.  And it makes it easier on others in my life to admit their shortcomings, too.  And guilt and shame no longer have power over me, or my wife, or my kids because transparency leads to repentance and forgiveness. In Scary Close, Donald Miller says that we have to trust that our flaws are the way through which we receive grace. Grace only sticks to our imperfections.

And here is a bonus:

By laying myself down and putting my WIFE¬†first, and her needs, and GIVING of myself, I actually RECEIVE more in our relationship. God’s economy doesn’t always make sense! –¬†

16¬†So the last shall be first, and the first last.‚ÄĚ Matthew 20:16 (NASB)

Discovered

Through this challenge here is what I have discovered about myself:  I have found that by laying down my SELF, and serving my wife, I will find the most JOY.   I want to leave a legacy of GIVING, not taking.

And here is a bonus:  By laying myself down and putting my WIFE first, and her needs, and GIVING of myself, I actually RECEIVE more in our relationship.

God’s economy doesn’t always make sense! –¬†

16¬†So the last shall be first, and the first last.‚ÄĚ ¬†Matthew 20:16 (NASB)

 

All of that is true, BUT I have also discovered something else about myself.  The truth is, I am really bad at laying myself down most of the time. My pride and my selfishness gets me in all kinds of trouble! 

I WANT to put¬†Chandra first, but many times it just doesn’t happen. ¬†I want to GIVE. ¬†I want to SERVE. But occasionally my pride steps in and I focus on what I am getting (or not getting) instead of what I am¬†giving.¬†So on those days that I screw¬†up and act selfish, I have to repent, ask God to help me, and try to make each tomorrow a little better. Thank you, Jesus, for being faithful to help me grow a little every day.

“Great is his faithfulness;
¬†¬†¬†¬†his mercies begin afresh each morning.” ¬†Lamentations 3:23 (NLT)