The Amends Process

Previously, my wife and I both shared about my struggles and past addiction.  Many men may find it difficult to prove that they are not wrapped up in sin any longer.  It’s hard to “prove” that you’re no longer doing the things that lead you into sin and that you’re no longer involved in the sin.  Men that have changed  look for their wives’ recognition.  However, it is virtually impossible to prove that you’ve turned from that sin and are no longer participating in it.  It is much easier to let your actions speak for themselves after you’ve turned from the addiction.  If you are, indeed, a changed man, she will notice!

The following steps in the amends process will help give you insight:  (It’s kind of like a tool to help your wife see your behavior has changed for the better.)

Trace The Touch Point

This is where you identify and connect what is taking place now in the present that has a connection point with her to the past.  It can be a trigger of pain in experiences, emotions, hurt, shame, disappointment, mistrust, or just plain fear.  Also, If YOU offer to bring it up it also takes the burden off of her shoulders.  Women and men are so beautifully designed to be different.  Men tend to have different compartments of events and feelings and women are more wired together with all parts interconnected.

Tap Into The Past

Although this is, at times, very difficult for men, this is where you try to open your mouth about how you caused harm in the relationship in any way.  All EGO must not be present, and you can’t think of it as rehashing the past as in a woman’s eyes it is NOT in the past if it still bothers her.  It sits just below the surface and is very much in the present.  There is an opportunity for healing here.

Learn The Why Behind The What

This step involves you being a MAN!  You need to try to explain the reasons why you messed up with meaningful explanations.  At this point there can NOT be any blaming or fault finding directed at your wife.  If you feel this way, you cannot achieve any level of amends in your heart or hers.  Men generally compartmentalize.  So, this may even mean that you men need to dump those compartments out of your cave all onto the floor to see how your feelings all had pieces in different boxes.  This will allow you to see it more clearly as MEN, just as women see it.

Presence In The Pain

With this step, you need to learn first what empathy is and how to use it to be present in the pain.   In establishing any level of trust in a relationship you need to develop this.  If you have ever said, “I know how you feel” … that is just imagining what YOU would do or how you would feel if YOU were in their situation.   Empathy is much deeper and involves seeing HER world through HER eyes and experiences.   You need to take into account all the context, what made up that pain, and how it effected HER.   Walk a mile in HER shoes.

How Do You Want Her To Feel Now?

For this step, you can cast a positive vision as to what you want the future to look like for you both.  You can discuss or explain how you both wish or desire a cherished, loving relationship  with honor, dignity, and respect.

It is possible to make amends!

 

Note from Shirley:  While you do have to begin to trust your partner again, trust is earned.  It is not to be demanded.  Due to actions of the past, the trust was lost.  It is a gradual process to earning it back.  But, if you turn from the sin in your life that was taking the focus off of your wife and the intimacy in your marriage, she will notice.  There will be a vast improvement in communication between you both, as well as a new found admiration for the other.  She will feel that you’ve turned away from the sin because you will focus on her like you’ve never done before.  She will be amazed at the attention that you give her now and the affections that you display openly with her and for her.  There will be deeper intimacy than ever before in your marriage, and I’m not just talking about sexual intimacy; emotionally and even spiritually as you grow together in your faith now.  I am thankful that Dusty has turned from his sin and is making amends.  I see it, feel it, and know he is a changed man!  Oh how I thank God for equipping and strengthening Dusty to make a lasting change, for restoring our marriage, and saving our family!

 

 

Be A Slave No More

 

We are all sinners.  Yep, that’s right.  Even those that line the pews each and every time the doors are open at their local churches.  Not a single one that enters the doors of the church are without sin.  Sure, they may have a different kind of sin in their life than you and I do, but we are all human and therefore, we all sin.

That is why we need Jesus!

The enemy lurks in the darkness, in the corners, right around the bend looking for his chance.  He’s waiting for his opportunity to trap you with temptation, to fill you full of doubt as you try to resist yet give in once more, and finally to shame you for your wrong doings when he has succeeded with his attack.

As you try to do the right thing, he will tempt you and throw all kinds of stumbling blocks in your way.  He knows your weakness, and he preys upon it every chance that he gets.

Just when you think you’ve resisted temptation, he’ll place something seemly so irresistible in your path.  He throws his nasty head back and laughs the biggest, most evil filled laughter there ever was as he sees you there about to give into temptation yet again.

At that moment, though, be strong and turn your focus on GOD! 

You know you feel it.  There is a sinking feeling right in the middle of your chest because you KNOW you are about to do wrong.  That feeling, that is God convicting you and letting you know that what you’re contemplating is against His will for your life.

Beware of the traps that the devil puts out before you to ensnarl you once more into the sin that you’re trying so hard to be freed from.

The devil whispers lies such as, “Everyone is doing it …”  or “No one will ever know …” and even, “It’s just this one time …” as he urges you to partake of the forbidden fruit, just as he did with Eve in the Garden of Eden.  While your forbidden fruit isn’t that of actual fruit from a forbidden tree, it could be lust in your life, leading you into an affair, teasing you with images of pornography, or even things we think aren’t as bad such as gossiping, overeating, drunkenness, or lying to cover something up that you knew you shouldn’t have done in the first place … the list goes on and on.   But you know what?  They are ALL sins in the eyes of the Lord!   And the devil will do all within his power to bring you down, he’ll launch it at you and fill your mind with images of these things to entice you.

Just know the devil cannot be trusted!  The one that leads you to sin will be the very one that will reveal your sin, too!

Yes, you read that correctly.

The devil will lead you straight to sin and laugh the entire time because you lost the battle once again.  He will laugh as you give in and then laugh once more as he fills you with guilt and shame because you failed.  You FAILED because you gave into that temptation and you sinned!  And then, he will reveal what you’ve done.

NOTHING you do in the darkness will remain in the darkness, unseen, undiscovered, or unknown.

The enemy will reveal your sin.  He waits for the perfect opportunity to rat on you, to sell you out, to shine a spotlight on your sin.

Oh yes, God already knows.  He sees all, hears all, knows all … but the devil cannot wait for the sparks to fly when your sin is revealed to your family.   He celebrates.  He has the biggest party.  He dances a little jig each time your sin is revealed to your family as he watches as hearts are shattered, lives are torn apart, and people are left drowning in a sea of tears … all because of the sin that you just could not stay away from.

Is it worth it?

NO!  NEVER!

When you’re all alone with just your sin to cling to, when you’re so close to taking your own life due to the sin that you feel you cannot overcome … ask yourself if it was all worth it.

This is why we should pack our hearts and minds so full of the word of God and get as close to God as we possibly can so that we can draw the strength we need directly from Him!

Cry out to God,

“Oh Lord, lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”

And He will! 

He will reach His strong and mighty hand right down in the mist of the situation and do just that.  He will deliver your from the sin, from the temptation you’re faced with, from the evil one.

What I want you to realize is that the devil seeks to steal, kill, and destroy.

He wants nothing more than to steal the joy, happiness, and peace in your life; to zap it all from you in an instant.  He delights in killing you slowly, and he celebrates the greatest victory when he destroys you and your family in the process.

He is NOT your friend.  He is the one that seeks to turn your heart black, hard as stone and cold as ice, as you continue to roll around in your sin and dance with the devil.  That is what you are doing each time you entertain the idea of “just one more time …” or “no one will ever know …”

You do not have to live in sin.  You CAN be a better person.  And God will forgive you from your sin if you ask Him to deliver you, but you have to honestly turn from your sin.  Turn away from it!  Give it up!

You have to get to a point where you hate the sin so much, and what it has done to your life and that of your family, that you never, ever, EVER want to go back there!

Have you reached that point?  Are you seeking freedom from your sin?

Be a slave no more!

Right here, today, right where you are sitting … have that much needed talk with Jesus.  Tell him all about your struggles, confess your sins and your weaknesses to Him.  He will set you free from the bondage.  Walk closely with Him, and cling to Him now.  He will give you strength.  He will give you courage.  He will help you overcome so that this sin does not leave devastation in its path any longer.  He will free you, if you only ask … sincerely and with an open heart … accept Jesus today and let Him deal with the devil.  The evil one, the enemy, is NO match for our Lord and Savior.  He will get stomped each and every time and cast down into the pit of hell once more, where he belongs.

You are an overcomer!

You are equipped with God’s love, and He has extended grace to you.

He has set you free!

Now go and sin no more!

 

Know Your Worth And Value

*The theme lately has been that of choosing joy!  It is so important to hold on to that joy and happiness in your heart.  I realize that it is sometimes hard to do, especially when people are pushing your buttons.

What I’d like you to accept is that your worth and value does not and will not come from the approval of others.  If that is how you have been functioning in life, is it any wonder that you often times feel defeated, depressed, and as if you can do nothing right?!

For every one person that is picking you apart, I wish there were four more that would come alongside you to encourage you.  While that will not always happen, it is important to know your worth and value so that these people and these situations do not tear you down and leave you in a pit of despair.

If you’ve gotten into “people pleasing,” that is the fastest way to make yourself unhappy.  In all of my years, I have learned that it is simply impossible to make everyone happy.  There will be those that LOVE your decisions and the way you’re living your life, and there will be those that can’t wait to voice their opinion or look down their noses at you as if they are better than you.   You know what?  They aren’t!

This is when you really need to look to scripture and let it all soak into every fiber of your being.  When in doubt, here are just a few verses to refer to:

 Psalm 139:13-14 For you formed my inward parts;

you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.

I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.

Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.

~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~

Song of Solomon 4:1 Behold, you are beautiful, my love, behold, you are beautiful!

Your eyes are doves behind your veil.

Your hair is like a flock of goats leaping down the slopes of Gilead.

~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~

Proverbs 31:10  A wife of noble character who can find?

She is worth far more than rubies.

~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~

Luke 12:6-7 Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies?

And not one of them is forgotten before God.

Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered.

Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.

~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~

As if that wasn’t enough to convince you, think of how God sent His one and only son to die on the cross for you and I.  Jesus bore all of our sins so that we may have eternal life if we only believe in Him and ask Him into our hearts.  Now THAT, my friend, is how much you were worth to our Lord and Savior that He would lay down His life for you.

Be discouraged no more.  Instead, be reassured of your worth and value, especially in the eyes of God.

 

Miss Grumpy Pants

Yep, that’s what I’ll call her.

Miss Grumpy Pants.

If I based my self worth on what she says to me on a daily basis, I would have none.  Zero. Zilch.  Nada.

The things she says to me are quite often laced with a condescending tone and accusatory in nature.

It’s like, at the end of the day, she thinks there will be an award given to the one that grumps the most.

My point in this post is NOT to pick her apart.  Instead, I wish to point out how people of this world will say harsh things to you, and, often times, about you as well.  Yet, it is up to you as to how you will allow this to affect you.  In the past, I would immediately take offense to this.  Now, though, I feel I have grown due to all I’ve been through and can choose whether to take offense or not.

Yes, it is a choice.

Sure, I could fly off the handle and let my anger get the best of me as I yelled at her “always accusing me … always nagging.”  OR, I can keep my composure, look her directly in the eyes, and nicely state my case.

The best part is next!

It’s where I let it go right after I’ve said what I needed to say about why I did this or that the way that I chose to do it.  And in letting go, I hold on to the happiness that was already in my heart to begin with.

You see, I did NOT let her steal my joy!

Yea me!!!!

Most days, this is how I conduct business now.

And there is such freedom in letting the small stuff go.

Find your freedom today!

 Proverbs 19:11

Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.

God’s Mercies Are New Every Day

The birds were singing such a beautiful song this morning, and the sky was a mixture of pastels as the sun rose over the tree tops in my backyard.  There is no denying that He who created the world designed such a sunrise this morning.  Yet another of His masterpieces was on display for all the world to see.  I paused for a moment at the back door as I gazed out and smiled.  Not just any smile, but a deep down in my soul smile.  God did that.  He started my morning off right, despite the restless night I had with a cramp in my shoulder that woke me early in the morning hours.  God displayed His majesty as He painted the sky right before my very eyes.

Just as God gives us a new sunrise every morning to greet us, He provides new mercies for the course of our day.  He knows what we will encounter long before we ever encounter it.  Know that He’s right there standing beside you no matter what you have to face today.

No matter what happened yesterday, shrug it off as you begin today!  Realize that God’s mercies are new every day!

If something happened yesterday that threatened to steal your joy and your peace of mind, consider that God gave you grace while you were dealing with that situation at the time.  Do not take the negatives of yesterday into today.

Here’s to a great day!  Now get out there and live life to the fullest!

God's Masterpiece

 

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

Today is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day!  The state offices are closed, and students are happy as they do not have school today.  However, this day is not just about getting to hang out around the house for an extra day or having an extra long weekend.  This is a day set aside to honor his birthday as he was the chief spokesman for nonviolent activism in the civil rights movement.  This movement successfully protested racial discrimination in federal and state law.

I would like to take a moment for us to reflect on a quote by Martin Luther King, Jr. as follows:

Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Just what are you doing for others?

Do you sit by silently when you see an injustice taking place, or do you speak up?  Do you find your voice and fight for what is right?

Are you lending a helping hand to those in need?  Or do you walk on by as if you never saw their outstretched hand?

Another quote that resonated with me is as follows:

I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Are you carrying hate inside of your heart?  Or, have you decided to let go of hatred that you once held on to?  Have you let resentment fall from your grasp?  Or have you yet to realize that hatred is too great a burden to carry around with you.  Why bear it any longer?  Let it go so you can be happier.

Love thy neighbor as you are told to do in the Bible!

No matter where you stand and what side you may be on, we are all a part of the human race.  I would like to see harmony on both sides with no discrimination from whites against blacks NOR blacks against whites!   God formed us all with His great and mighty hands.  We are the color He chose for us to be, and He commanded that we are to love one another.

Think on that as you go about your day.

Are You Happy?

Here’s a loaded question, but … are you happy?

Take a moment before answering to think on this.  Don’t just give an off the cuff answer.  I want to know if, in the quiet moments before everyone awakens in the mornings and with the stillness of the late nights, are you truly happy?  I’m not talking about an on-the-surface plastered kind of happy with a fake smile for everyone you see in your day.  I’m referring to being content deep down in your heart and soul.  That kind of happy.

There will be things that happen in our days that threaten to steal our joy.  People will make sarcastic comments to us or will be hateful in general just because they are having a bad day.  There will also be those that pick us apart no matter how hard we try or after a great accomplishment.  Will we let those people affect us when in all honesty their opinions should matter very little?

If you are happy deep within, to the very core of your being, these things will not be able to steal your joy or strip away the happiness you feel inside.

For me, I can honestly say that I am happy.  I have a beautiful family that God has brought back together.  We’re working on strengthening our marriage so it will be better than ever before.  I have two beautiful children who are growing into gorgeous young women.  They have a lot going for them in their faith, how intelligent they both are, and the love and compassion that they have in their hearts for their fellow man.  We are surrounded by God’s love, and we feel it – we know it is there.  We can rest in the assurance that God will never leave us nor forsake us.  IF HE is for us – and He most certainly is – who could be against us?  And if there are people against us in this world – why would it matter when we have the King of King and Lord of Lord on our side?

My happiness does not come from material possessions or money in the bank.  I could care less about how big someone’s house is or how new their cars are.  I live in a very comfortable house in the country with several acres surrounding me for my horses to roam free.  I don’t need a million dollar home on the beach to be happy.  This is my happy.  Thank God I’m a country girl!

As I sit here pondering all that I have to be thankful for and all of the things that make me happy in life, I stop for a moment to consider those that only find happiness in material things.  How sad is it that the only happiness some people can find in this life is by reviewing their bank statements or reflecting on their material possessions?  There are some people that don’t have families, with children running and playing in the backyards, to enrich their lives, and that saddens my heart.

Some people find happiness only in their job titles or how high they have climbed up the corporate ladder, no matter who they stepped on along the way.  That is yet another thing that is hard for me to grasp.  A nice job is wonderful as it pays the bills and enables you to take trips with your family, but if that is the only thing that you focus on, you are really missing out in life.  That company could go out of business, close their doors, or … they could decide one day to replace you.  Then what would you do?  IF your happiness is wrapped up in your job, you’re in trouble.

Focus on what really matters most, and you will find overwhelming happiness when you look into the eyes of your children as they are smiling from ear to ear.  Or when you see the soft smile form across your husband’s lips as he says, “I love you,” and you know without a shadow of a doubt that he means it now, he truly means it … because you can feel it!

Just this morning, we had our five horses out roaming the yard for free grazing.  My youngest daughter, all of ten years old, ran around with the biggest smile on her face as she walked up beside each horse and began to pet them.  Then she would run around with her little goat chasing after her, bucking and kicking due to the happiness she felt by having such freedom today.  Moments like these make me happy!

Enjoy the rest of your day, and take time to reflect on things that truly matter that make you happy.  IF you can’t find anything, then you need to do a little soul searching and have a long talk with the Man Upstairs who can restore happiness in your life if you ask.

 

 

How To Be A Modern Day Gentleman (Part II)

Today we are continuing with some additional tips.  We’re so glad you joined us for How To Be A Modern Day Gentleman (Part II).  These suggestions can also be used as some resolution ideas for 2015:

‘ Mind your manners and your mouth (not just around women and children).

‘ Use self control and keep your composure.

‘ Admit when you are wrong! (There is NO room for ego – Ego means to Edge God Out.)

‘ Stand up for positive beliefs and values.  Make your voice heard!  Take initiative!

‘Get the bread and milk, or whatever household items are needed.  Volunteer to do these things or to run errands.

‘Dress for the occasion.  You do clean up nicely.  Show her that side more often.

‘Dance or at least try.  She won’t mind if you have two left feet.  She just wants to dance like a princess with her prince charming.

‘Learn to cook – not just on the grill – and do the dishes so she doesn’t have to.  Pitch in around the house instead of letting her carry all of the load.

‘Cry on her shoulder.  She likes when you are not afraid to show your emotions around her.

‘Live in the present.  Don’t worry about what is on your “to do” list tomorrow or next week.  Focus on her, your children, and the time you are spending with them now – today – in this moment!

`No matter if you’re in a room full of a thousand people, turn your full attention to her.  She will notice.

`Lavish your love and affections on her.  Hold her hand, put your arm around her, kiss her softly … all with no expectations whatsoever.  Just “because.”

If you do all of these things, along with any positives you can come up with, she will surely think that you hung the moon.

Happiness Is An Inside Job

As I sat at my desk Tuesday morning chatting with a friend, we talked of the warmer weather coming this weekend in which I’ll be able to enjoy being back in the saddle again after several days of wet weather in our area.

“And then you’ll be happy,” they said.

To which I replied, “I’m pretty much happy in general these days … by choice … it’s what’s inside and trying hard not to let outside forces influence.”

Wow.  That conversation took a serious turn, didn’t it?  When we were just having a light conversation about the weather, I took it deeper … a whole lot deeper … with what I said in return.

I sat there for a few minutes after the conversation was over and just thought on that for a second.  Then, I took to Twitter where I tweeted, “Happiness is an inside job; a choice not to let outside influences steal the joy down in your heart.”

Have you ever really thought about it?

It is soooo easy to let outside influences steal our joy, isn’t it?  I know at one point I was a negative person, and I have tried so hard to change that.  Stress was coming at me from all angles it seemed, and I caved under the pressure.  I became negative, filled with anxiety, and someone, I’m sure, that wasn’t a pleasure to be around.

Don’t get me wrong.  There are times when you have to put your foot down, and that should not be lumped into the same category as being a negative person when you use your authority as a mother to say to your children that they need to pick up their messes that they continuously make in the house.  If they were toddlers, then of course I’d expect you to just suck it up Mom and clean up after them.  That’s your job.  That’s what you do.  BUT, when your children are 18 and 10, they are perfectly capable of picking up their clothes instead of leaving them on the bathroom floor, slung down the hallway or on the floor in their bedroom.  Telling them to clean up their mess is not being negative in nature.

Now that I got that off of my chest, I’ll move back to my original point in this post.

When once I did let the outside stresses steal my joy, I have worked really hard to not allow that to happen at this stage of the game.  If it does have the potential of ruining my mood, I may only stew in it for a few minutes now whereas in the past I would let it haunt me and torment me.

Put both of your hands together with the sides touching pinky to pinky.  You hold your hands there close to your body for a few minutes as if they are filling up with every single thing that is causing you stress.  Now take those cupped hands and extend it out in front of you.  Lift it up high, and imagine that God is taking ALL of your stresses, worries, and anxieties away right in that instant … because He can, and He will … if you ask Him and if you cast ALL of them onto Him.  Don’t give them to Him for a second or two and then snatch them back out of His strong and mighty hands.  Let God take all of them, every single one.  All you need to do at this point is rest in the assurance that God’s got this … and He’s got YOU, sweet child.

Take a deep breath in, and blow it out.

You can carry on in your day with happiness in your heart once more.

If someone cuts you off in traffic, you may not like it but it isn’t worth losing your joy over.  Yes, you are allowed to verbalize it, but soon after, let it go.

If someone said something really harsh and ugly to you or about you, let it roll off of you like water on a duck’s back.  Don’t marinate in the wrongdoings of others!  It isn’t worth sacrificing your sanity and your happiness.  Instead, give it to God and try praying for that individual that said those things to you.

Happiness is an inside job.  Plain and simple.  You can choose to walk around with a chip on your shoulder, but you can also choose to lift your head up to the heavens and praise God Almighty for LIFE!   Which would you rather do?  Complain, moan and groan, or praise God and thank Him for the many blessings in your life?  If you focus on the latter of the two, your entire outlook will improve, and you will be able to reflect the happiness in your heart on your face for everyone around you to see.

Choose to be happy no matter what comes your way.