Friendship Is Forever

One day this year I met a new friend, I’ll refer to her as J, it was early in the summer and she doesn’t live in our home town. We became friends on Facebook early in 2015, I don’t know if she requested my friendship or I requested hers, but when one of us hit YES on the request, our friendship began.  She began seeing my posts on occasion last year when I was struggling with my illness and surgeries, and she began praying for me. That is intercession prayer and thank God that as I faithfully ask Him daily to send out His Spirit to raise up prayer and intercession for me, He has been faithful!

What is so interesting about the friendship to begin with is this, we were both in MANY schools growing up and she says she tends to be careful with who is on her account. She typically will not accept or request friendships of anyone that wasn’t in one of her schools or churches but she thought she knew me from one of those places. A year or so after she first began praying for me, she sensed the Holy Spirit telling her to contact me. Little did she know that her timing would be perfect! I had just had a falling out with my best friend, the one I asked God to make my best friend, I’ll call her D. D’s life was in a flux of change and the pressures of life caused her to do something unloving and my heart got really hurt. Although we are still friends and I love her dearly, I felt alone and without a woman to connect with (which every woman needs, more than we are even aware), and hubby was trying to fill in there and that does not work well in a marriage or relationship. We need other women ladies! We must have that so that we don’t lean too heavily on our husbands.

Back to J, she contacted me via messenger and simply said this, “Hi! How are you feeling? I know you have had a difficult time over the past months and wanted to reach out to you. (heart, smile). I thought it was another woman by the same name that was in a bible study I attended last year, so I answered her thinking that. She didn’t seem confused by my exchange but I did fill her in on my story. The following day she responded and I realized that she wasn’t who I thought at all. A few days later I accidentally sent a post to her thinking I was sending it to hubby, and I sent a correction text shortly after. After that, she sent me another text saying what an encouragement I have been and that she saw me fighting the good fight. That was all a few months ago, and since that time, she asked if she could drive to OKC to meet me. She also said she would like it if I would some day speak to the women in the ministry that God birthed in her heart in Tulsa. So, she drove over and we had coffee.

We shared pieces of our stories with one another that day, and I can tell you that she has fought the good fight and she is winning. God is alive and vibrant in her. She loves Jesus like I love Jesus, without restraint! She has been a blessing and encouragement in my life since that day and although we have very little time to visit (once or twice a week), she has become a beautiful part of my journey here. When we visit, it is hard to remember that we haven’t known each other long and definitely have not had time to know much story about one another. One day she said that we have the rest of our lives to get to know each other’s stories, because we know that God ordained this friendship. It is rare to find a woman like J, she is full of life and love and has many friends that she has known for many years. For some reason, God chose to add me to her life and for that I am grateful. She sees my uniqueness and I see hers. We are both living life for the Lord among all the trials and giving Him the glory for all that is good, that kind of friendship is rare and precious. It is so interesting to me, I asked for D and she was gone in a time of need. I didn’t know J existed and God gave her to me at just the right time, isn’t He good?

Friendships are so important, over and over in the Bible it says that we are to “do life” in community. Throughout our marriage, hubby and I have had a difficult time fitting into that. We got married at 19 and 21, then had our first child at 21 and 23 while our friends were playing and getting to know their spouses, we were raising kids. Then throughout our parenting years, we never quite fit. Our kids were older or younger and we had to figure child care to go out. Then when our kids were able to be home alone, our “community” friends were dealing with babies and toddlers. Now, we are the rare mid forties couple who have all grown children so we don’t fit with others that are closer to retirement but who’s kids are all out on their own. It has been an interesting life with friends, one that hasn’t been easy and in fact has been filled with a lot of loss. I know that God will make up that loss with a double portion in this season of our lives, He has already begun!

Life without friends, at times, has been a heavy burden on our marriage. Hubby has a difficult time opening up with people (of course, I kind of do it enough for both of us, lol), and that has made things difficult too. And, I had a difficult time not offending others when I felt justice wasn’t being served to me (yes, that was a joke, gratefully God has gotten that junk out of my life for the most part), God has worked on us so much and he is opening up like I never imagined, for that I am grateful! Now in this season, we are seeing God step up like never before and He is adding to our territory and it is incredible. I cannot put the burden on hubby to be my best friend, my best girl friend, my mom, my dad, and any other person I might be missing, and he can’t put that burden on me. As we navigate this new season, I know that God is placing us right where He wants us and He is bringing our brothers and sisters in Christ to surround us. I thank God for His faithfulness to process!

“And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue His work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns” Phil 1:6

 

Submission is Hard

During this year, one goal/dream of mine was to become more submissive to hubby. All I can say is #massivefail! I have such a desire to be obedient to God in that area of my life and yet, I do not succeed well at all. What is it about this world that says “just because I am a woman DOES NOT mean that I should submit!”, and how do I win out with doing it the way God says will bring the best results?

Hubby and I do things so differently, as a young couple when company was coming, I would tell him we needed to pick the house up. When I couldn’t find him shortly after that, I searched in our closet, YES, he was actually cleaning our master bedroom closet. Over the years I have figured out that when he gets in “work mode”, he finally wants to accomplish the things that are making him the most nuts. Interestingly, he couldn’t see anything wrong with it (I wish I was typing this on my phone and could add the big eyes emoji!)! Things have improved in that area over the past 25 years, but there are so many things we think so differently about. I’m amazed, the closer we get and more intimate we become, the more I realize we don’t “get” each other as much as allow the other to be. That being said, I am not as good at it as he is. That is where the submission thing comes into play.


Submission is something that most women hear and their insides begin to scream, “hell no!”. I’ve been witness to these reactions and frankly, I remember a time when it felt that way to me and I probably said the same thing. This year has been a learning one in this area mostly. God asked me to get good at it, well He didn’t actually say that but He did say this…

“Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting for those who belong to the Lord” Colossians 3:18

and…

“As the church submits to Christ, so you wives should submit to your husbands in everything.” Ephesians 5:24

Those are not my words, those are God’s words.  I’ve decided that He knows a bit more about this life and world than I do, so it must be a great thing to do. My problem is, I don’t know how to stop the constant habits I’ve allowed my flesh to create that is not submissive at all. I recall, not so fondly, the days when I ran the show completely. It nearly put me 6 feet under and the repercussions have not been easy to live with at times. I don’t know when this overwhelming desire I have to be obedient in this area started, but I know it has and that hubby has definitely earned a wife that gives that to him. Still, habits take hold at times and my mouth can run amok!

I’m so grateful that he is leading in our home, more each day. As God calls him into that role and brings situations to let him practice, he is growing so much. It is really awesome to watch the guy I picked, way back in college, becoming the warrior that God created him to be. I daily thank God that He was so good to give me someone like Matt Ford, I know the enemy really wanted to draw me into a different world and life. I know that hubby picked me for a lot of really good reasons, but the ones I might have focused on if roles were reversed would not be why he chose me. He is good to me and his patience has grown volumes this year. Hopefully, as we both continue our search for “life to the fullest” (John 10:10) with Jesus, we will both continue to offer each other our best, more of His original design.

TheChallenge is winding down and there are still bumps in the road from time to time, but I believe hubby and I are in the same book, so to speak, and I am seeing us both headed to the same page. This year has been a learning, growing, and hope filled year. The Jewish New Year is just around the corner and God has been showing Himself in preparation for this special year. He is showing Himself in weather patterns that don’t make sense as satan is showing himself in the senseless killings and violence. It is a year of change and I know He is teaching me to lay it all down and live in obedience to His will. But, isn’t there always a but?, I am not succeeding like I thought I would by this time this year. I’m grateful that hubby is the kind of man that really does give new grace each day, I am learning that from him too! Thank you hubby for being my rock, you are the best husband God could have given me, I know I am a mess…a beautiful mess.

Home Stretch

We are in the home stretch, on day 210 of TheChallenge.  That is 30 weeks of sex – for those who are counting. I was impressed when we made it to 100 days, even more so now!

We have had our ups and down, but now that we are in the last month of TheChallenge things seem to be coasting downhill. Sex has become a normal part of our daily routine.  Notice I didn’t say it had become routine.  Anything but!  We have discovered (and rediscovered) lots of ways to keep sex exciting and new.  

Even though we are looking forward to the occasional evening of rest, I don’t think either of us are ready to give up the intimacy we found through sex.  I go to bed each night with the confidence of knowing my wife loves me enough to offer her body to me, and I do not have to wonder how long it will be until we have sex again!

In the earlier years of our marriage (when we had young kids, and my wife had body confidence issues – partially my fault!) we usually had sex 1-2 times per week, but it might be a week or more between sessions. But in the last few years since our sexual reawakening, I have been able to count on sex at least 3 times per week (sometimes more), and throughout TheChallenge I have known each day that my wife loved me enough to offer herself to me – and our sex life, and the woman I get to share it with, have both become more than I could have ever dreamed.

Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth—
    for your love is more delightful than wine.”

Song of Solomon 1:2

 

 

Day 206, New Seasons

I can hardly believe we’re nearing the end of TheChallenge! In some ways it seems like it’s been so long, in other ways it seems like it just began. I find myself wondering what our sex life will look like when we don’t have a commitment to keep, and I find it difficult to recall it from before. Were we making love every other day or every third? It’s hard to recall. 

When we began, I was so excited to see what God had in store for us. I saw pictures of beauty springing from it in my mind, but I can say it hasn’t all been beautiful. I’ll sum it up when we’re done but for today, I’m going to try and remain in today and let God work because it ain’t over until it’s over! Today we are in such a good place, and life has returned to being a bit busier than I’d like. Today my schedule is full and all over the place. I know one thing, I do not want to return to the place I was before, busy ALL the time. That is not in God’s plan for me, I don’t believe. I hear people talk about how busy they are and they can’t find time for God, must less friends. I don’t want to be that person. 

Throughout this challenge and the last year and a half, I consistently made time to be with friends. I don’t get to do a lot with close friends, we are all rather busy, but I add new friends,  I love consistently adding new friends to my pack or rekindling old ones. If I meet women I enjoy, I invite them to lunch or coffee to find out more about their story. I’ve learned that we all have a story and we can learn from everyone we meet. And, I never know who might turn out to be my next best friend for the season, hopefully for life. God is continually bringing new people into my life and I don’t ever want to miss what He has for me in their story. 

Tuesday morning has been our “stay in bed” morning rather consistently and today was no exception. We’ve completed today’s challenge and though it wasn’t one of our best ones, it was still a good and needed one. Hubby and I connect through sex. We are super different, he is a nerd, and I am a free spirit. He likes order, and I am walking chaos. (I heard Beth Moore recently describe herself somewhat like that and definitely relate.) Hubby is on time, and I am continually late. But, somehow we work to fill in the gaps for each other and I am grateful for that. With all of our differences it could be easy for me to find others that are more like me, to have fun with, but hubby knows how to do that too. The longer we live together, the more I see each of us moving toward the center in so many ways and that has been a blessing!

With this season of change and busyness coming in, I pray we will always reconnect at the end of the day, in some form. It doesn’t always have to end up in sex, but the intimacy was what we longed to recapture, and that has been accomplished. We are finally speaking the same language. If we stay fervent to our marriage and inviting God in daily, I know His plans will prevail. I pray we never get too busy to reconnect but I sure see how it can happen. Several years ago hubby and I did a weekend trip and followed a book called The Long Erotic Weekend, and the biggest thing we brought home was to plan sex. Yes, we thought it impersonal at first too, but realizing how easy it is to lose sight of that connection is way more impersonal! So, we were willing to learn to plan sex. I assume as we finish TheChallenge, we will return to scheduling two days a week and know there is typically a bonus. I sure hope there’s a bonus because I’ve grown rather find of making love to hubby. 

Time is a tough thing to navigate. Many of us, especially free spirits, can lose track of time. Community is important. And adding to community is important. Mostly though, making time for each other has to come first. I pray God navigates this for me as we move into the new season!

“For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven.” Ecclesiastes‬ ‭3:1‬ ‭

Covenant

What does a “covenant” look like?

I was reading a new Bible Study this morning, and it had a great, real world explanation of what a covenant really looks like:

First, an explanation of what a covenant IS NOT:

“I probably looked at thousands of houses and signed purchase offers on hundreds of them. . . I learned to always use a contingency clause that would allow us to back out of our agreement if we discovered something about the property we didn’t like.  Using contingency clauses gave me the freedom to make offers, sign agreements, and even fall in “love” with houses knowing it wasn’t permanent. It’s a great clause for real estate transactions, but a terrible one for marriage.”

So what is a covenant:

“A commitment in marriage is more than an agreement contingent upon one or both persons doing certain things.  It’s a covenant with UNCONDITIONAL PROMISES (caps mine).”

Unconditional promises.  Now there is something most people do not understand.  But that is what a covenant is.  I promise to love you, for better or worse, in sickness and in health, for richer or for poorer, til death do us part – EVEN IF YOU DO NOT DO THOSE THINGS FOR ME.  No place do the vows say “if you do the same for me.”  That is a covenant.  

I promised my wife, in front of my parents, her parents and our friends to love and cherish her forever, no matter what she does to/for me.  And I still believe that – I am committed to THE COVENANT OF OUR MARRIAGE.  Nothing is more important to me than our marriage, except my relationship with God our Father. 

And I know my wife has the same commitment to me. And we both live in the security of knowing there is nothing in this world that is going to come before our marriage. 

By having that security, we can share how God uses sex, intimacy, and even struggles in our marriage to grow us closer to each other and to Him. God is using TheChallenge to deepen our commitment, solidify our covenant, and develop a bond that will withstand any storm. I am grateful for our covenant. 

https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/2239-the-7-rings-of-marriage-5-day-devotional?id=2239-the-7-rings-of-marriage-5-day-devotional

So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.”  – Matthew 19:6

I Offer Him Sex

Kind of a weird title since this is a sex challenge blog.  I’m aware it’s strange. A few years ago, 2013 to be precise, I heard God tell me to offer my beauty to hubby. What does that mean really?? 

My first year at Captivating, I heard that statement, “offer him your beauty”, and for me, I didn’t see beauty to offer! I was like “God, what do I have to offer?” He continued to say, “your beauty”. I felt defeated. So defeated. “What beauty?” I asked constantly!  What do I have to offer him?? I’m out of control and I’m consistently messing up! How is that beautiful, Dad?? I’m overweight, have tons of flesh that used to have something filling it, and oh yea, I’m not that pretty either. He continued to say, “offer him your beauty”. By the end of that first retreat I had an idea of my beauty and I don’t think I’ve doubted it since, very much that is. 

No, I do not look in the mirror and see perfection. What exactly is perfection anyway? I don’t believe it has anything to do with the exterior of us, God made each of us different. I’m not attempting to look like anyone other than me anymore because I’ve realized I have to fill the role God created me to fill. For me, that role includes being hubby’s fulfillment and I know he loves what he picked in his youth. To fulfill that role as God designed me to, I have to be vulnerable with hubby and offer him my beauty. Since I made that decision, to offer me to him without reserve, we have grown closer than I ever imagined. Our physical intimacy is definitely deeper than your average or typical marriage, based on conversation I’ve had with many women. It’s so difficult to offer that intimacy when I look in the mirror and only see the flaws, actually it’s impossible! When my focus was on me, and all that I was lacking, I couldn’t give myself to hubby fully. Today, during our time in TheChallenge, we have gone deeper into our relationship with God and with one another. This has definitely been a tough year but so worth everything we have gone through. 

As we continue this journey, we are down to our last month and it seems unreal we’ve made it! God has done an incredible work in our hearts, minds, and bodies, all of which has blessed our marriage profoundly and taken us to depths I never unknown. As we continue, I know God will continue to bless us. Thank you for your prayers and support. Keep watching what God is doing. I’ll share more this weekend!

Waiting For Our New Typical

I have been spending so much time with people, I am sort of losing it.  I have never identified as an introvert, that seemed almost crazy to me. Within the last three years I took a test that said I was 100% extrovert, I believed it that day. Today, I would say I am much more of an introvert so I guess God isolated me enough to lead me into need for time alone with Him.  I need that today like I need the air I breathe!

This summer has been a whirlwind occurring on a roller coaster.  My emotions have been all over the place with our daughter graduating from college and heading to Florida, and now our son has returned to American soil but is headed to a state close to our oldest.  He will now be a short flight away and I plan to visit whenever I can.  It has been so many emotions with knowing empty nest is near, it is exciting for sure, but I can’t help but have some anxiousness about it.  Our twin daughter will move out in January and that will be the end of raising our kids and the new chapter will begin.

I guess that is why this year has been so important in our marriage.  It has been a year of rediscovering each other knowing that we will be alone soon.  Many marriage hit a hard place around 25 years, based I am sure on kids growing up and leaving husband and wife alone.  There it is, you and him or you and her, and do you really know one another? Did the kids come first while you were raising them? I know so many marriages that hit hard times around that time and at least 50% end. I think that thought has always been in the back of my mind knowing that my parents’ marriage ended at 25 years.  I didn’t realize, since hubby and I put our marriage first in so many ways, that we would face this place in our home and yet, we did.  Things are getting so good and I know the enemy is wanting to destroy us, it makes sense, we really are a great team!

Today as we fulfilled the challenge, I saw my hands.  It is so funny, at this age my mom started looking at her hands a lot and saying how much they looked like her mom’s and now I can see her hands at the end of my arms.  They are aged and I can tell I am the age my mom was when she and dad divorced, my hands look like that.  Then my thoughts went to how young I felt like I was in the midst of making love to hubby, I don’t feel old in any way so it is strange to see my hands look like they do.  When we make love, it’s like we are the college students that got married at 19 and 21.  I don’t know if I will ever feel my age when hubby and I are body to body and vulnerable in ways that we have been since we first married.  I think I will seek another’s perspective on this, someone that has had more years to find out.

Life is returning to typical in a few short days.  Our daughter will return to her side of the house, Connor will be gone to his new home, and hubby and I will find our new typical.  I am so excited for that day but I know that saying good-bye to our son will be hard yet again.  It is a fun stage of life, and my health is so good!  I am finally returning to pre-surgery stage and better and I am working hard for it.  Life is good today and God is great!

“He fills my life with good things.  My youth is renewed like the eagle’s!” Psalms 103:5

Want or need?

Here it is Monday night (well Tuesday morning, technically), and this post was supposed to happen on Sunday!  I have a real problem with following through right now!  I am letting what I think my wife and my family WANTS from me, in the moment, disrupt my life, and in the long run letting them down by not giving them what they NEED.

This weekend I heard several times how my wife NEEDS me to ask for help instead of trying to do everything myself.  And yet I got up and fixed coffee, ran to the store for things we forgot on our trip, fixed breakfast, tried to keep everyone organized, and never once asked for any of their help.  Maybe it’s self-reliance.  Maybe it is fear of rejection.  Maybe it’s just that I’ve done it for so long I think they all expect it.

I don’t know but tonight I am tired.  I didn’t hold up my commitment to blog by the end of the weekend so I’m doing it now.  I didn’t do it earlier tonight because I was trying to finish something I committed to finish this weekend while we were gone. But we didn’t finish that thing because I thought that I would upset them if I told them no when they wanted to rent a boat all day Sunday.  When what we NEEDED to do was stay at the cabin and finish the thing we agreed to finish this weekend.  

My leadership in my family is suffering.  My expectations and my family’s expectations are not matching up, and I think it is affecting our relationships, and we are not communicating very well.  Maybe it’s just me who is not communicating.  I don’t know.  Pray that God will give me the strength and the answers I need.

15 Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise,16 making the most of your time, because the days are evil. 17 So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.”               – Ephesians 5:15-17 (NASB)