Time Off

This year we have shared our story, the good, the bad, and some of the ugly. Hubby and I are in a new season of our lives, changes we never saw coming, and we are going to take a break from writing. Our story is so beautiful and we want to share what God is doing right now, but I know that it will be better to sit in this season with Him not sharing until He has us to a new place.

Hubby and I both were so excited to start TheChallenge, this blog, and that season of our lives and marriage but now, we are at a different place. God is so good to us and always gives us exactly what we need and right now, I need a break from sharing. I didn’t understand why people didn’t connect to our story, but I am starting to understand. We had a lot of viewers, but no conversation. For a site to be helping others, the conversation is the biggest part, at least to me. We are going to keep this site, and on occasion, as God leads, I will catch you up on the life of the Ford’s.

Until I write again, I pray for each of you and that God would bring more when the story resumes on here. I know that God is working in and through this blog too, because the biggest thing I know is that He is in the details. For anyone that has gotten some healing from this or help, or anything, for that, I praise God. You are always welcome to PM us on Facebook with questions or comments, and I will always pray with you. God bless all who read, and your family!

“And I know that my God will make good of all things for those who love Him, for those called according to His purpose for them” Romans 8:28

I’m Struggling with What’s Next

I never said I wasn’t a goal oriented person, lol. I’m not struggling with “what’s next” that I can head toward necessarily, more of what’s the next season going to look like? In this challenge, we have learned so many things about one another that some, frankly, have been a bit of a surprise to each other. Just because you live with someone for 25 years does not mean you know everything there is to know about them. Sometimes I find myself assuming I know what he thinks or feels about something and then, then it comes up for real and we begin to talk. Wouldn’t it be easier if we didn’t have those conversations?

This week has been a week of change for us, we are still very active in the bedroom, but we have a business to build. That being said, our season is changing and with it will come new obstacles conversations that we will get to work through. For anyone that has ever worked with your spouse, I salute you. It is tough. When we were focusing on having to end the day with sex, it was easier to stay somewhat focused on each other. Now, we both have so many things to do, and they are good things like homework from bible studies or working on things for the office, that we aren’t working too hard on us. Yes, it has only been a few days, but the truth is, it was hard to focus on making TheChallenge happen! The season upon us is going to require a lot of time and a lot of conversation, much of it about our business, and that can come between intimacy, especially for a woman.
At the office, I am a different woman, I know my role and I do it well. I have received a call from two past bosses, long after a job was finished to ask me to come back to work for them. When I work, I can get pulled into a habit I watched as a kid growing up, where it becomes about the job and everything else is put aside, including marriage. When I worked before I got sick, I was quickly the top producer at whatever I sold, and I could recruit like nobody else I know, I was driven. That drive led me to a hospital ICU room and a tube keeping me alive. That drive nearly cost me my life. I think I have a little fear of that drive returning in a harmful way. Two years ago we started growing in the office and bought a house and started remodeling and again, I got sick. It may be an irrational fear, but it’s one of mine. Will I start to push myself too much, too soon, and get myself back to that place again? It is hard to not have a mom to talk to about so many of the things that she and I used to talk about. I miss her constantly when I need her to encourage and support me, love me right where I am and expect nothing in return. That was my mom.

God is walking through this with me. I hate to say that I don’t really even have a community to pray with about many things right now. I know I have so many people praying for me, but I am eagerly anticipating who God is bringing into our world to do life with us.  We are true babies in our prayer lives and I know that God is bringing in our team to train us and train with us to be warriors at it!

Tonight was a little about where I am now that we are done. I don’t like not making love every day, I grew to love it. I always knew where we stood when we went to sleep. Tonight, we have been seeing things differently, we don’t have a solution, and hubby is asleep. It truly amazes me that he can pull out what he calls “his nothing box” and put anything aside and go to sleep. I don’t know if it is a man thing or a Matt thing, but it is truly amazing and highly annoying. I am blogging and now I am going to pray, then I will go curl up in his arms like I do every night and I will thank Daddy that hubby is mine. We will figure out where we stand on the topic in the morning. Good night!

 

 

How Much Attention is Enough?

Hubby and I were having a conversation yesterday about something and he started using his yardstick to compare himself to other men. It is rather humorous to me when he does this, but this time he was convinced it’s true (he’s convinced most times, lol). He says that he pays more attention to me than any man he knows pays to their wife. I started with my return comment that he should be grateful that I am better in bed than any woman I know because he reaps that benefit (it wasn’t nice I know), the truth being, that we don’t live in a house with anyone but us so therefore we can’t know who is doing what. From the outside looking in, he is probably rather accurate on his belief, there are few men that I see after 25 years of marriage, still holding hands with their wives. Not only holding hands, but gazing upon them in public with a kind eye and genuine desire for, as hubby does with me. I am blessed and we have worked at it as you know.

Back to the disagreement, I decided to ask him how he could possibly know that and that led to a discussion about that very topic. I wanted to share some of it with our readers today. So, how much attention do we need to offer our spouses? Hubby and I work together, attend groups together, attend church and functions for church together, we eat lunches together, we go on date, of course together, we spend the weekend with each other, but with all of that, how much attention do we pay to one another? We are carving out our time for God and friends, but it seems we are always together and yet at times with him, I feel alone. That is something we have worked diligently on this year, distractions can consume us, kids being around can pull our hearts and attention, and simply needing space in our own minds sometimes keeps us from connecting. We are better at managing the distractions and have committed to work on our shortcomings with that and I absolutely see growth in us both. I am sure because of the end of TheChallenge, I am a bit sensitive to my feelings. I certainly don’t want to be everything to hubby, nor him be everything to me, we’ve actually tried that and it isn’t a successful scenario, so I am leaning in to God to find that balance in our new season.

I will be the first to admit that I have an incredible hubby. He was given to me from God as my Knight in this world. He is faithful, integrous, loyal, kind, serving, and loving. I stopped there because I don’t want anyone to throw up. He really is the kind of guy that a lot of women would be blessed by, I am grateful I got to be that woman. I pray he sees value in me as his wife, I pray he never regrets the choice to start and build a family with me. I pray I never be so self-involved (again) that his heart and feelings don’t matter, I don’t want him to give up more than he already has for me due to illness. I ask God to fill in the gaps where hubby isn’t supposed to fill and only HE can offer that anyway. I definitely need attention in this world, sometimes hubby is great at it and sometimes he really stinks, my lesson is this: God gives me abundantly all I need, so hubby is the icing on the cake.

Hubby, I may be asking for too much attention in this matter, I free you to do what you need to do and pray God leads us in it all. I love you and pray our conversations will help others as they read.

“Then I told them how the gracious hand of God had been on me…” Nehemiah 2:18

What I Have Learned

Being married is hard.  And attempting a challenge like Chandra and I just finished made it even harder! But nothing worth doing is ever easy.  We attacked TheChallenge head-on, and after 224 days of discovering what works for us, and what doesn’t, we emerged on the other side victorious – and stronger.  

Jesus said, “So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate,” (Matthew 19:6). Our goal is to see more marriages survive the hard times – that was our purpose in sharing this journey with others.  If Chandra and I, two flawed 40-somethings who have been married 25 years, can complete a 224-day sex challenge, I often wonder what can God could have done if we had discovered this earlier?

Little did I know that pressing into God and pressing into my marriage through sex would bring up issues that were long overdue:

I had a habit of sweeping stuff under the rug and not dealing with it.  That doesn’t work during a challenge that requires INTIMACY and SEXUAL HEALING before bed EVERY NIGHT!

My wife also enjoys sex. . . a lot. . . so there was not ALWAYS a lot of romancing required of me, and that eventually led to Chandra feeling like I took her for granted.  I had to take responsibility for at least an occasional seduction, and make sure she ALWAYS knew how much I adored her body and making love to her – and even spending time with her.

And here is a biggie:  my wife’s top love language is affirmation. . . and I am terrible at giving her affirmation that she needs.  I’m getting better, but I am far from good at it.  I want my wife to know how much I appreciate and love her, and the best way for me to do that is to TELL HER – MANY TIMES A DAY.

I know that TheChallenge has made me a better man, a better husband, and brought me closer to my God.  And both of us are looking forward to this next season in our life.  We will be continuing this blog to share how God blesses our marriage through SEX.

Readers, if you are curious, we encourage you to ask us anything!  We are not ashamed!

He answered, “Haven’t you read in your Bible that the Creator originally made man and woman for each other, male and female? And because of this, a man leaves father and mother and is firmly bonded to his wife, becoming one flesh—no longer two bodies but one. Because God created this organic union of the two sexes, no one should desecrate his art by cutting them apart.” (Matthew 19:4-6 MSG)

“The two of them, the Man and his Wife, were naked, but they felt no shame.” (Genesis 2:25 MSG)

 

 

 

 

THE LAST DAY!!

I was on the phone this morning with mom’s best friend, my mom has been gone for nine years this last month, and she and I talk way too seldom. She was such a good friend to my mom, all of her friends were precious to her, and to me. She has been following our blog since we first began 224 days ago and when she realized we were doing this she called me. She was so kind, at the end of that conversation eight months ago she said to me, “I don’t know how your mom would feel about you doing this, but I want you to know she loved you dearly”. Today, she said to me more than once, “Your mom would be proud of you Chandra”, that was a gift.

This year has been a roller coaster, I had no idea what God was thinking when He asked us to do TheChallenge, I honestly had many questions rise in my heart, when i felt judged by others when they didn’t agree that GOD would ask anyone to have sex that many days in a row, must less ask me to invite people in to my sex life. I never had anyone say this to me but my dad, but I got looks. It felt like, “is she really a Christian woman? What right does she have to speak His name if she is going to talk about her sex life?! I am in a group on Facebook that started because of a book called Scandalous, written by one of my girlfriends’ friends from Muskogee where I grew up. (Sidebar, I was talking to Dad yesterday, thinking about Christy Nockels, the Christian Worship singer with the voice of an angel, that I got to befriend as a child. Our conversation wandered to women from Muskogee that He is raising up to speak His name and this book may not be the exception. He is bringing up women with voices for Him from our little town, and it makes me think about the moms that raised us. What a testament to the little town my mom and her mom grew up in. I divert.)  It is a safe place for women of all walks of life, Christian or not, where we can talk about sex. The author has a theology degree and loves Jesus, I have now had the opportunity to get to know her on a personal level. I know the enemy has closed down this conversation and I know I, for one, feel alone sometimes, not understanding myself or my husband physically or intimately. Each time I heard those questions in my head, knowing I hurt family by honoring Dad in it, losing family even, I had to keep my eyes on Him. I always pray that I honor God and my mother with anything I write in our blog. I hate how the enemy has taken what God meant for good and made it into something that is costing this world marriages, good marriages. It is so pushed under the rug so far, that women don’t know how to please their husbands in bed and neither does he, because frankly, it’s scary to talk about. When we began, we were in a good place because my health issues were once again at bay, and we both were so grateful that maybe, just maybe, this year would be easier than 2015. Physically it has been tough as God and I are rebuilding my body, losing 35 pounds last year left me a shell. As I continue to daily see my strength return, I continue to thank Him for faithfulness.  I think at this point I have decided that “easier” isn’t necessarily “better”. 2016 has definitely not been one of my “easy” years, but it has been one of my best. Hubby and I are connected in a way that I only dreamed about as a young woman, so full of hope for marriage and what it offers. That connection, that is what God was doing, and so much more!

Today is day 224, can you believe it??? We missed seven days in the course of TheChallenge, making them all up and then some, I assure you! We have prayed, laughed, cried, and prayed some more. Hubby and I pressed in to God this year and He has blessed our obedience, something I know I am not great at. At the beginning of the year, we might have prayed together, other than before meals, once a week, if that. Today, we pray together daily, typically more than once! We are battling this world together and that is what God was doing!! The connection that hubby and I have gotten to this year is worth it all. There were days that I truly “hated” hubby, not him really, but things he did or said, only it wasn’t him that I hated at all, it was me. It’s interesting how God shows you things in yourself that you dislike about others and don’t even realize you do those things too. Life is funny that way. We are reading in Ecclesiastes right now in our “bible in a year” plan, it was written by Solomon, the wisest man (king) to ever live. He wrote  many of the Proverbs earlier in life, then as his life was nearer to the end he summed things up (I didn’t know that earlier this year, wow what a difference a year makes!)  He talks about everything having seasons and life not adding up to much in the scheme of things, our lives are a puff of wind in the course of our world and eternity. Everything seems so big to us, our sadness seems like it will never end when we are in middle of it. Our joy promises to last forever when we are in the middle of it, then disaster strikes and it is gone in a breath. You know, that phone call that comes, at the least expected time, and you find out your sister in law has been killed in an auto accident. Life changes in a breath and we have no idea where we will be in a month, much less a year.

I look back to the beginning of TheChallenge, where we were personally and with one another. Where I was with my extended family, and where I am today is completely different, I am an orphan in this world though my family is still among us. That is one thing that God brought me through this year that, if hubby and I hadn’t been as connected as we were, could have been something that would send me into depression as it had so many times before. But, God said, “not this time!”! He has been so faithful to us, to me, this year as we were obedient to Him. I want to share with all of you that have been following us this year, I have, and will continue to, pray for you and this has not been easy. Two years ago if someone would have told me God told them to do this, I would have judged it better than anyone! My critical, judgmental self would have jumped without asking God about it, I promise. I definitely have wondered why God would ask us to do a sex challenge and share it! I have been embarrassed to share it at our new church only for the reason that, they don’t know us at all. God opened the door last week for me to share with one member of our new congregation and I heard how she might need a friend to talk to in the covenant of Sisterhood about this very subject, ONEness. I know God will open the door for more sharing as this year wraps up and we continue to pursue His heart as He pursues ours. I know He asked us to do this and I know He is blessing our obedience, and for that, I am grateful.

I heard a sermon this year where the pastor told me that God loves us all, but that He has a reward system that follows obedience. One scripture that I am continually reminded of is this one…

“Seek first God’s Kingdom, and His righteousness; and all these things will be given to you as well” Matt 6:33

I was not seeking Him in 2013, I was sick and had gone through nearly dying and could not see any way out. The Bible tells me in two place that He will always give me “a way out” of every bad habit, venomous thought, straight into His arms, Jesus came for me. He came for me, a broken vessel of sin, doubt, and unbelief. He came for me. I doubted, I was afraid, and I didn’t know if His way was better than living however I wanted to live. In 2016, I began to ask Him to make my heart desire the things He wanted for me more than the things that I thought made me happy. I can say today, He has definitely made the things of this world grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.

TheChallenge isn’t completed today, it really has only begun. My mom’s friend said she thought it would be nice for us to be able to make love when we felt like it and not everyday because we have to. Yes, not “having” to make love every day will be a good thing, we are in our mid-forties, we are tired some nights, lol. I can say that it definitely isn’t a bad thing to have daily sex. We are good at it, we have only done “quickies” a hand full of times this year. Typically, it is a full session of ONEness that impacts our day and lives, that leaves us in Unity with one another. I am so grateful for hubby and his dedication to our marriage.

Our blog isn’t going to end just because TheChallenge comes to an end. God has been speaking to couples through this blog and I have heard so many stories this year about marriages that have very little to no intimacy. My heart goes out to them and any of you that are reading, I cannot imagine “no intimacy” in our marriage. I pray for you today and continually, Jesus will come for you too. He truly would have died only for you, only for me, He loves us that much. I definitely do not have all the answers, only God does, but I know how to be obedient (I’m not great at it, but I am definitely growing in it, right hubby?), and I pray I continue to give that obedience to my Dad, and that He continues to give me all I need.

Young Adults & Children

My young adult children are incredibly important to me. God gave each of them to us to love, nurture, raise, train, protect, love, train, teach, and lead to their own lives in this world.  Never abandoning them or their hearts, but letting them learn to grow on their own and depend on God for themselves.

We have three grown children/young adults given to us do these things with and when we started our family, we were barely adults ourselves. I was 23, hubby 21, when our first was born, our youngest two are now 21 and after raising them the best we could with our own story’s and God, and I want them to live their lives. Two of our kids left home at 18, one headed to college and one headed to the military, both ready to make a life for themselves. When our first daughter left, I started her out in the dorms at college, attempting to set up some parameters for her as she was on her own for the first time. She stayed in the dorms her first year, and I learned there isn’t much supervision or structure even there. Our son was ready to be independent, earning his own living, making his own way, and finding his own answers, he did that by doing the hardest thing a mom can watch her child do, agreeing to work for the American government. He was always independent, a lot like his mom, and he has proven that life isn’t going to outdo his God or what He created him to be. Our youngest daughter is still at home with us, at least for another minute. She is 21 and hasn’t proven to be great at managing money, resisting playing, or deciding that it is too tough at mom and dad’s house to move out. And, the time has come that she do just that.

So, what do I do when I don’t feel as if she is ready for what this world has to offer? What if I don’t get her settled into life and on her way by doing it for her if she isn’t going to? What do I do if I begin to resent that she thinks I am too hard on her at home by making her pay a small rent amount that we save for her, so that when she moves out, she has money saved up for a rainy day? What do I do when all of her friends in their 20’s, and their families, tell her that she should enjoy rent free, chore free, living without any consideration for her parents and the fact that it is their home? What do I do? All of those questions asked, I will clarify that she is a joy and has my heart, but she is still very young in her idea of what this world is like. My mom heart is concerned.

I have spent all the years of their lives attempting to give them a good life financially, tending to their hearts and nurturing them emotionally, and letting them live in our home on in to adulthood. When did our adult kids become so dependent on us? Hubby has been the silent partner all these years. When I was sick all those years, he didn’t ask the kids questions, and he couldn’t nurture them as a mom can, he did his best but some things slipped through the cracks. I know we failed them in so many ways, and I personally have spent the last several years apologizing and owning the areas where I know I failed them. I am the age my mom was when she and dad were divorcing and think back to how she must have felt when I thought I knew everything but still was dependent on her financially. She asked me to leave her house at 18, I was such a pain to live with, and today I felt what she must have been feeling all those years ago. She gave and gave, only to constantly be reminded of how much more I thought she “should” give. It was an awful feeling to face about myself and about my kids. They are all adults now, we raised them the best we knew how and we love them more than they will know before they have kids of their own. Now, it is time for them to find their own way and their own ability to trust God.

Many that read this may not agree with me at all, and I am okay with that. I am watching a generation of young adults that are not leaving the nest or they are ricocheting in and out of their parents homes as if the parents owe them something and I say NO! This is kind of a rant that I needed to post today.  I love our young adults, I will never abandon them. I will assist in any way that I can, but I will not do it for them anymore. I think they get it. My mom was an incredible woman of God and she made many mistakes, but I look back at our life together and I know who she was now. I had a front row seat to her pain and suffering when my dad left, to what she faced with a son that chose a life of play that has cost him dearly, and this daughter that didn’t appreciate what she had until mom kicked her out and made her do it with God. I am grateful that she chose that for me, it made me tougher and definitely caused me to depend on God. And because I would never want to shed negative light on her, she helped me any way that I asked for except moving back into her home, her safe haven where she needed her peace.

So, what does this have to do with TheChallenge? Everything! This year has been one of ins and outs with our adult children, and the end of our season of parenting our beautiful brood. I am grateful for each one of them, and have a great idea what each is offering me in my life, even today. I also am in need of a season of my safe haven, alone, with hubby. We need to rediscover our own adventure that we started 25 years ago and didn’t have near long enough to develop before they joined us in our journey. I know our children, each one of them is a light to this dark world, and God has them. As they are journeying in this world, the best thing I can do is pray, and not having to always catch them when they fall. That is the tough one. I know my role now is to send them out to discover with God what He will do with their lives and I will cheer them on as they go. If they don’t cling to Jesus as hubby and I have, what then? I will continue to pray that they know and love the heart of Jesus as I do today.

Today my prayer is this,

“God, please help me to love my kids well. Please give me the courage to give them to You Lord and know that You have them. Remind me that You loved them and knew them before they were even a thought in my head. Comfort my heart, and theirs, when they must pay for choices they make without seeking Your will for their lives. Hold us all close as we transition into this new place and season. Love each of us as only You know how to Dad! In Jesus’ name I ask these things, bringing all glory and honor to Your name!”

In order to submit, she has to be led!

Tonight I wanted to respond to my wife’s post from last weekend about submission. I know that submission has to be hard for her.  During a difficult time near the beginning of TheChallenge, one of our counselors had us take a personality test – and it had a scale for dominant/submissive. She scored herself over 90% dominant, and I scored over 90% submissive.  That is our “go to” behavior, crafted out of our brokenness, which ultimately fails as God brings us back to Him.

Chandra was so good at leading when we were younger that I just sat back and let her lead. And she ended up almost working herself to death. . . literally.  She couldn’t (wouldn’t?) take enough time off work to heal after several surgeries, and in 2009 ended up in the ICU on a ventilator for a week.  She had to learn to stand, walk, write, text, and use a computer all over again. Her immune system was compromised, and her health has never been the same.

It’s amazing what happened to me when I was forced to support my family after years of leaving it to my wife to do.  When she could no longer work, I had to pick up the slack.  Thank you, Jesus, for the strength and courage to just take over!

I know I have the ability, and I might even be gifted at leading. But the enemy had me convinced I was terrible at it.  I constantly second-guess myself.  At times I have even been frozen with fear and indecision.  I’m sure that’s why Chandra stepped up to lead when we were younger, and my passivity allowed it. But as the leader that God expects me to be now, I can no longer just stand by and let her lead.  We have both learned that she was not made to lead, emotionally or physically, and when she tries it has terrible effects on her health and on our relationship.

So God calls me to lead, and her to follow, both of us with His help! My wife shared this verse last week:

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

I have heard many sermons on this verse by pastors who meant well, I’m sure.

But what about the verse that follows:

For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her. . .” Ephesians 5:25

How can we ask our wives to submit to us if we don’t submit to Christ?  When I am allowing Jesus to live through me, submitting to His will for my life, my wife lines up right beside me, under my arm, to live in submission to God’s will for our lives.  So I ask God every morning to help me lead my wife and my family.  I ask Jesus to live through me and love others through me.  And day by day, by practicing courage and compassion I am becoming a leader, submitted to the One who leads me.

And Chandra, you are way better at submission than you give yourself credit for!  I love the woman you have become through submission and your relationship with Jesus.