Staying Focus

I don’t know about you, but personally, I am, and have been, having a hard time for the past few months in the discipline of staying focus.  There are so many times when I’ve been sorely tempted to stray off onto tangents, and even when these tangents are supposedly “good things,” it became obvious that in saying “Yes” to entertaining them, I was saying “No” to what I actually needed to be doing instead.

With every choice we make, we are saying “yes” to something, and then also “no” to something else.

When I choose to say “Yes” to reading something ugly or passive aggressive, I’m saying “No” to something that is positive or uplifting, something righteous and from God that could have helped me on my path.  When I travel down that road of entertaining things that stem from other people’s unrighteousness, I’m straying off the course that I’m supposed to be on, that God desires me to stay on.

When I was finally convicted of this constant temptation to stray off the path of being focused on the purpose of my life, God’s Will for my life, it came after a long, wonderful evening with my parents when I was driving home on a long stretch of open highway as the sun was setting and dusk was appearing.  The wonder of the peaceful silence, the lack of cars around me, and the speed of the highway suddenly propelled my thoughts as God pricked my conscience that this was what He wanted me to do at this time.  To stay focus.

There were many exits I was passing that could lead me to places other than my purposed destination, but they would only distract me from getting to my goal (home), and finding rest and sleep – renewal and rejuvenation.  These off-roads would delay me in my journey, and pro-long my eventual arrival.  And so it is with distractions and temptations to stray off onto tangents in our spiritual journey, or to go down roads we were never meant to travel.

When I got home, I drew out the picture I saw in my head of a road going straight that was my purpose and God’s Will for my life, and little roads that led off of it in different directions.  I named each of these little roads that led me down unrighteous paths, and each one, as I drew it out and named it, suddenly became so convicting to me how wrong it actually was, and how much of a sinful distraction it was to living a righteous, purposeful, and productive life!  The beauty of it’s clarity was breathtaking, and this picture has been burned into my mind ever since.

*

Staying focus is not only a discipline of physically obeying by doing the right things, it is a mental obedience to adhere our thought-life to the right things.  Our thoughts eventually determine our actions.  If I am constantly (or even sometimes) thinking about things I shouldn’t be, wandering into places to look for contention with people I know I have friction with already, I will eventually end up following through on these thoughts with actions that take me off course.  I have to be mentally on course, staying focus, if I ever want to achieve and keep my physical obedience on course and staying focus.

Here are some verses that I’ve been dwelling on for the past few months regarding Staying Focus, from the Amplified Bible, because I love it and am a complete nerd who actually talks this way (with parenthesis because I’m awkward lol).  If you’ve never read the Amplified version, I encourage you to take a look at these scriptures with a fresh eye and mind attentive to hearing them explained in depth based on the actual language used in the text:

“Set your mind and keep focused habitually on the things above (the heavenly things), not things that are on the earth (which have only temporal value).”  Colossians 3:2 (AMP)

“Blessed [fortunate, prosperous, and favored by God] is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked [following their advice and example],

Nor stand in the path of sinners,
Nor sit [down to rest] in the seat of [b]scoffers (ridiculers).

But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
And on His law [His precepts and teachings] he [habitually] meditates day and night.
 
And he will be like a tree firmly planted [and fed] by streams of water,
Which yields its fruit in its season;
Its leaf does not wither;
And in whatever he does, he prospers [and comes to maturity].

 
The wicked [those who live in disobedience to God’s law] are not so,
But they are like the chaff [worthless and without substance] which the wind blows away.
 
Therefore the wicked will not stand [unpunished] in the judgment,
Nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.
 
For the Lord knows and fully approves the way of the righteous,
But the way of the wicked shall perish.”  Psalm 1:1-5 (AMP)

Let your eyes look directly ahead [toward the path of moral courage]
And let your gaze be fixed straight in front of you [toward the path of integrity].”  Proverbs 4:25 (AMP)

“For those who are living according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh [which gratify the body], but those who are living according to the Spirit, [set their minds on] the things of the Spirit [His will and purpose].”  Romans 8:5 (AMP)

“Finally, believers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable and worthy of respect, whatever is right and confirmed by God’s word, whatever is pure and wholesome, whatever is lovely and brings peace, whatever is admirable and of good repute; if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think continually on these things [center your mind on them, and implant them in your heart].”  Philippians 4:8 (AMP)

“You will keep in perfect and constant peace the one whose mind is steadfast [that is, committed and focused on You—in both inclination and character],

Because he trusts and takes refuge in You [with hope and confident expectation].”  Isaiah 26:3 (AMP)

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
I will counsel you [who are willing to learn] with My eye upon you.”  Psalm 32:8 (AMP)

The [intrinsically] good woman ( text says man) produces what is good and honorable and moral out of the good treasure [stored] in his heart; and the [intrinsically] evil woman (man) produces what is wicked and depraved out of the evil [in his heart]; for her mouth speaks from the overflow of her heart.”  Luke 6:45 (AMP)

How blessed and favored by God are those whose way is blameless [those with personal integrity, the upright, the guileless],
Who walk in the law [and who are guided by the precepts and revealed will] of the Lord.”  Psalm 119:1 (AMP)

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Women Are Scary!

I was wondering through a bookstore a couple of weeks ago, looking for a new book to celebrate my birthday, when I found it… it was out of place, sitting there on the shelf with it’s front cover exposed, and it caught my attention right away with it’s hilarious and ironic title,

Women Are Scary

I laughed out loud, “You BET!”  Picked it up and leafed through it to see if it would be any good.  Two little cake pops on the cover with female heads looked like they were fighting; one had bitten off part of the other’s head!

This book… is the one!  

It’s been a funny read, cataloging the author’s awkward journey to understanding female friendships, especially other mom friendships.  She’s socially a little awkward (who isn’t?), she’s got her own weirdness, and she’s had a lot of disappointment and heartache in trying to have women friends over the course of her life.  Her journey is an interesting one to read, I laughed, I underlined in the book, and I even cried when it came to the stories of betrayal or loss of friendships the women in the book had gone through.

I understand, I’ve been there, too.  I’m lucky to have found my niche so to speak with getting to love women and mommy friends who are in our weekly life, but I haven’t always had this, quite the opposite at times!  I’ve been the enthusiastic, extroverted, crazy girlfriend, and I’ve been the socially awkward, weird one out because I couldn’t find anything to connect to someone with.  I’m sure all of us have had experiences like that – where you just click with some people, become immediate friends, or where the friendship never even gets off the ground because you’re too different.

In high school and college, I was a social butterfly.  I had friends that were gothics, friends that lived in mansions (we lived in a rich area), friends that lived in trailer parks, male friends that played video games and listened to Marilyn Manson, and a close female friend that was the Co-Captain of the Cheerleading squad.  I was always just a little bit weird though, and even I thought it was odd that I could connect with so many different kinds of people… like a sign of my weirdness.

With mom friends, anything goes now!  I have never had so much fun connecting to women of all sorts!  We all have our pasts of what we were in college, and it really doesn’t matter.  The only thing that matters is how willing you are to open up, be yourself, and be extroverted at least in the moment it takes to find someone new to talk to that could end up being a great friend!

Here is an excerpt from the book that I thought was especially cute.  For all you mommies out there looking for a sweet, easy read or for ideas on how to expand your inner circle:

“So for you, who are your people?  If you’re looking for moms with whom you can go running, let’s get you out on trails chatting up girls about their jogging strollers.  Do you love baking brownies?  Let’s find you a friend who loves eating brownies.  Do you struggle with confidence?  You need a friend who excels at encouragement.

Finding friends also means learning how to be a good friend, so we’re also working on our own stuff too.  As we seek to encourage and support the moms around us, we become exactly the kind of friend we want to have.

Where are you going to find your people?  The library for story time, a “mommy and me” class, the preschool pickup line, a young moms’ group at a church, or the sidelines at a soccer game.  Moms are everywhere, and most of us are a little bit lonely and starved for adult conversation. If you work outside of the home, you may spend time with other adults professionally, but yu stil need other moms to talk to.  Stay-at-home moms just need people to talk to, period.

My favorite relationships are the ones that start out bonding over our kids but transition to talking about books we’re reading, our thoughts on different issues, or just straight up laughter about something absurd.  I love coming together with other women over coffee to solve the world’s problems while a few feet away, our children learn how to share.  My girlfriends make me a better mom, a better friend, better wife, just… better.

I’d met Martha through another friend and really liked her. She was pregnant with her fourth child and looked like a supermodel.  No, seriously.  Picture the hottest pregnant chick you’ve ever seen.  She was always draped in something fabulous, and her third trimester looked better than my six months postpartum.

One day I was crying about my dog, and I needed a friend.  I should mention that at this point Martha was a cat person.  But something made me call her and invite myself over.  She is gracious and kind and makes hospitality look effortless, so I rang her doorbell.

I quickly learned that even though she had four kids, Martha was a voracious reader who had delightful opinions about everything and was going to change the world.  As I got to know her, the phrase, “just a mom” catapulted out of my head never to return.

I drove back to her house again and again, and she helped me decorate my messy new place.  We talked of books and writing and faith and events and ideas.  She showed me that as a mom I can still take interest in other things besides my kids.  Isn’t that a relief.

We have different friends for different aspects of our personalities.  I have my sci-fi-loving friends for movie watcing.  These are my “get my references” friends.  And I have the friends I call when I’m cracking down the center and need someone to pray for my brain.

So figure our who your people are, then start trolling (for moms).”

(Quoted excerpt from Women Are Scary by Melanie Dale)

Think Pink Boys!!!!!

My son has started Kindergarten this year, it is our first experience with having a child in the school system in America, and it has definitely been an interesting journey.  Although we’ve opted for a different kind of school than normal, one by several of our friends’ admissions, is more “boy-orientated,” as opposed to structured to favor more feminine behavior, my husband has been particularly upset by the still prevalent, undeniably female emasculation of boys.

To put more bluntly, our American schools seem like they’re doing everything they can to get our boys to become less masculine.  We are faced with the task of parenting boys (we have 2 now) who at every turn it seems, are being constantly told that they need to be less male.  To embrace the feminine.  That there’s nothing wrong with them misunderstanding their gender.  That they can in fact, undergo surgery to become a woman, and will be lauded as a hero.

So let me explain… we picked a school based on it’s prestige of focusing on science and technology.  Our friends who have or have had their boys in this school are extremely happy with it.  The school provides smaller classes and teachers that are more able to bend the “rules” to “allow” for the typical boy behavior (and documented scientific need) to move around in order to be able to actually learn what they need to. When the boys get older, they have the option of entering exciting things like Robotics Club, Lego Club, and even are able to experiment at such a young age at learning how to build real amazing rockets!  This school is great, and yes, my husband wanted more than anything for me to do all I could (turn in all the papers on time, fill out the online applications, etc) last year to be able to get him into it.

It started with my husband and I seeing that our son would receive a color to represent his behavior in school each day.  This is the color chart below… take a look and try to tell me that our schools (even schools geared towards boys!) aren’t trying undeniably to feminize our boys:

  • PINK = Outstanding
  • PURPLE = Great Choices
  • BLUE = Good Choices
  • GREEN = Ready to Learn
  • YELLOW = Warning
  • ORANGE = Consequence
  • RED = Parent Contact

The first day, and for the first month or so, our son hovered on Blue or Green, with one Yellow in the entire month.  Every day it became a discussion of him telling me that he really really wanted to get Pink… that he wanted to receive their treat at the end of the year for getting into their Pink & Purple Club Party.  He stressed about it, and each day when he saw he had Blue or Green, he was disappointed in himself.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m all for rating behavior to some degree, schools need to give kids feedback on where they’re at.  At my elementary school, you know in the 90’s (holla!), we had a simple traffic light model that was used in class.  Red, Yellow, and Green, with Green being the best behavior.  My husband and I were angry and frustrated that the top two colors were Pink & Purple.  He wanted to know who came up with that “idiotic idea,” and even the teacher doesn’t exactly know.  It might seem silly to be upset or frustrated at such a small thing, but for our son, this is a major objective (and frustration) in his little life right now.  The goal of getting into that ever flippant Pink zone of outstanding behavior, and the lure, as well as the terror that is not being invited to the Teacher’s Pink & Purple Party.

We were walking in a mall recently, looking around at the shops and spotted a girl’s clothing boutique.  Guess what the name was?  I’ll give you two guesses…

Pink. &. Purple.

No kidding?

You don’ t say?

Well my my… I guess girls really DO hands down almost always love and prefer those two specific colors. But what about boys?  Do you ever see a boys’ clothing store named “Pink & Purple?

Unless there’s some strange attempt at a popular homosexual clothing line that I’ve somehow missed up until now, I believe no such thing exists.

It’s been documented before, many times, that the schools at least here in America are desiring boys to be more feminine in behavior… and not just because girls are easier to manage for the teachers, but as you can clearly see with this color chart even, the feminine behavior is now deemed The Ideal.

The problem with teaching boys that their behavior, their innate, God-given masculine behavior, is undesirable, is that it creates a horrible dilemma inside our boys that wants to reject everything they deem masculine now and in their future.  

If the feminine is held up as the golden standard of perfection, then the masculine is automatically falling short.

This self-rejection (or even self-hatred) of their masculinity lasts far beyond their elementary education, and the damaging effects to our society as we produce more and more effeminate men, paired with our girls being pushed to be more aggressive, controlling, pushy, bossy, spoiled, and sexually promiscuous, we end up having an extremely tumultuous society.

I’ve written before about the “crisis” boys are facing in our culture and especially the school system, our church did a sermon on it that you can find here.

Oh… and my son finally got that elusive Pink.  We were happy that he had such great behavior, but again, what on earth is this teaching him?

A Sexless 40 Year Marriage

I received a comment from a man named Nathan a couple of nights ago on my post, The Ignorant Sexless Wife.  In the comment, he brings up many issues that can come from a wife rejecting her husband repeatedly and forcing him to live in a technical sexless marriage.

Any thoughts on his suggestions of what this kind of marriage creates (or may create) is welcome, especially regarding his thoughts on “Mama’s Girls.”

From commenter Nathan,

“Having lived in a marriage for over 40 years like the one the writer describes I can attest to the damage it will do not only to him but most likely to his kids as well. If this woman continues treating him this way he will almost certainly find himself taking some of his resentment and frustration out on the kids rather than her.

He could easily find himself locked in a battle with the kids for control and respect. Since she obviously has little or no respect for him she will most likely undermine his authority with the kids and he will almost certainly loose that battle as well.

Waiting for the kids to get older all the while hoping things will get better will prove to be more wasted time.

A woman like this will almost never change because she will never allow herself to see or believe anything she does is wrong. The reality is that his best bet would be to find a really good Divorce Attorney and cut his losses while he is still young enough to heal and have a chance at a decent life. Looking back, it is advice I wish I had followed 40 years ago when my wife gave me the cold shoulder on our wedding night claiming it was too late and she was too tired!

Dragonfly, you are definitely right about men more accurately reporting their sex life of lack there of. You cited “Spreadsheet Guy” in your example. I began a similar thing within a few years of our marriage to counter my wife’s insistence that I was “wrong”, “making it up” and we had sex more than I claimed. When I began “keeping score” what I found was that things were much worse that even I thought. I used one of those little bank calendars and a series of small symbols to indicate what happened on a particular day.

What I found was that I got 17 to 30 outright rejections before she would “allow” anything. Keep in mind this was within the first 5 years of marriage! Time hasn’t changed a thing. Today is 9/3/2015, the last time I got so much as even a kiss from this woman was on 7/25/2015. The last time before that was on 6/25/2015.

See a pattern here?

Here is another topic you may want to explore in another blog; Mama’s Girls. I have read many articles over the years about “Mama’s Boys” and how destructive that twisted, codependent relationship can be to a marriage. I can’t recall ever seeing an article discussing how equally destructive it can be when it’s the wife that’s tied to her manipulative, controlling, domineering, mothers apron strings. I wonder how many of the women like the one in this article also fit the bill for being a “Mama’s Girl” and “Her” husband was just a convenient father and ATM card for “Her” kids, “Her” house and “Her” perfect, planned life?””

Flirty Sexy Fun Vacations

Couple on the beach of sea

We’re about to leave in a couple days for a week long vacation – a much needed family vacation – our first since having our Babymoon over 5 years ago.  We’ll be staying for 7 days on an island, the same one we were at when we were celebrating/mourning the last days of being without kids.  Aside form all the tidying up and packing we’re doing in preparation, it’s hard to contain the excitement we all feel!!!!  This has been a lonnng time coming, and we are so ready.

Planning and packing really got me thinking how we probably approach vacations a little differently than most people.  We go purely to have fun, sightsee, eat weird or new foods, and this is considered “relaxing” for us.  Before we had kids, we tried to have a vacation by staying with family, and it was nice, I loved being able to visit with them, but they were constantly trying to interject what they thought we should be doing – particularly, that we should be actually doing nothing and just “relaxing” there at their house watching TV.  We wanted to go out, we loved participating in the night life of their city – even finding a Salsa bar to dance at, and exploring it’s uniqueness during the day.  They thought we were doing too much LOL.

People can view vacations so differently… but again, for us, we are highly active, crazy people – sure we love down time or laying out at the beach or pool at the condo, and there will be A LOT of that, but we are also going to be boating and having an adventure on an undeveloped island as well.  Maybe we’ve just got ants in our pants, but our vacations are going to be pretty action packed.

Another element that took me by surprise, or rather, took my husband by surprise, was the packing – he temporarily forgot I was a girl, and thought we would be able to somehow share one suitcase.  Um.. yeah.

I tried… I really did.  But a whole 7 days worth of clothes for me, just would not fill up only half a suitcase, I successfully took over the entire thing on my own.  He came back from work, and was shocked then laughed – teased me mercilessly about how much I was bringing, comparing it to those women who have like 7 suitcases for one week.  HELLO!  Unfair!!  Woman here!  I’m not a guy….

He loved giving me a hard time about what clothes I was packing 😉  Until I proved to him how great they look by wearing one of the feminine dresses to show him how it completely changed my everyday look – he loved the feminine snark, his jaw dropped, and I laughed as he was forced to admit he loved seeing me like that.  What better time to pick to look flirty and sexy than on vacation?

Since Summer is coming to an end, this post will be great for next year or even winter vacations… but here are some thoughts on some ideas to really do vacation right.

Here are some things I think are great attitudes for vacation:

1) Make sure you have fun – whether that means staying with family, or going as your own family, vacations are supposed to be about what you both want to do as a couple.  The only problem with staying with family is that it can put a damper on vacation sex.  For some people, it can be hard to lose your inhibition and have fun in bed when your parents or partner’s parents are literally… down the hall form your bedroom.

2) Don’t let your vacation be dictated by your kids’ desires.  Disney world and other kid-destination vacations are great, but you want to make sure there’s enough adult time in order for it not to be all about the kids.  Standing in lines all day, melting in the heat, dealing with tantrumy children, more than likely means you’re gonna need a cold one after being out all day riding rides (ie: standing in lines).  Those kinds of vacations often tend to be super stressful for parents of young children, we’ve even heard a couple we know complain that it was like going to hell for a week.

Vacations should be about joy and having a carefree attitude, so if you are going somewhere predominantly for the kids, try to have a couple of nights where you all go out to eat and dress up nice.  Bring at least one fancy dress and some jewelry to counter the super hot days of sweaty mommyness.  Have one night of relishing looking like a dream, and get pictures together to remember it by!  Appreciate being able to let your kids enjoy a magical vacation, and fall even deeper in love during the down times where you’re able to appreciate having each other as well.  It will help counter the stress of standing in the sweltering heat for hours.

3) Romance your husband on vacation.  No matter where you are, romancing your husband comes from an attitude of loving and enjoying your life together.  Be sure to relax in the hotel pool in the evening, cuddle up in the hot tub together, or enjoy cuddling on the beach at night around the fire while the kids are tucked in. Simply relax and enjoy the closeness of having your soul mate with you on your vacation paradise.  Not many people are lucky to be in a good marriage or relationship like this… appreciate it, with all your heart.

3) Make sure to bring some cute, feminine dresses or tops – whatever makes you feel beautiful.  Accessories during vacation can make it even more fun for women to enjoy and revel in their femininity!  Look your best as much as is possible depending on where and what you’re doing.  Sure there will more than likely be activities where looking your best is downright impossible, hiking, exploring outdoors, swimming, etc., these are situations where a bare face and beachy wavy hair look earthy and sexy.  Having a carefree attitude is key, but in general, making sure you look good has a mysterious way of making you feel really good… leading to even more enjoyment of even simply activities like exploring the city or area you’re in!

4) Be sure to pack your best lingerie, vacations are about having lots of fun, engaging in wild or uninhibited behaviors!  No matter how long you’ve been married, make the most of this time away – time that only happens usually once a year for most couples, and use it to fulfill all your deepest fantasies about having sex far away.  Lingerie adds an element of purposeful passion and shows that you’ve got seduction on your mind.  Vacation sex is usually adrenaline-fueled.

5) Go with an open, carefree mind and attitude.  My husband is extremely adventurous and particularly in the area of food, he is always eating or trying new things, whereas I’m predictable in that I will order the same thing, at the same restaurant, for years.  There is one meal that I’ve ordered consistently at the same restaurant for 11 years straight.  So for this vacation, we’ve decided to order for each other for every meal… making our eating out a kind of fun, unpredictable game to play with each other.

If you haven’t left already, or are thinking about a Winter vacay, try out these suggestions and let me know what you think!  If you have anything you’ve done in the past to add to making a vacation fun, please comment!

**Note: Blog will be Inactive 08/05 – 08/12.**

Giving in to Anger, is Gambling with Your Mental Health

“Anger is a distraction,” my mom said, “it’s a person’s way of distracting themselves from the real problems (or pain) in their lives instead of dealing with them.  And you pay a price for it.”

Yesterday, I had a conversation with my mom about why people, especially women (myself included), will often fly into irrational anger – even if they seem responsible, calm, and kind in everyday interactions.  Yes, it’s irrational anger.  To be furious at something that is true, and then to feel the superior prerogative to attack someone out of anger, is irrational behavior.  It is one thing to be angry, it is quite another to lash out at others in your anger.

“And you pay a price for it.”

This is what ultimately is the key to avoiding giving in to unhealthy actions that come from feeling angry.  When my mom was in her 20’s-30’s, she had to learn to deal with her anger, and she admitted to me that she had a lot of it back then.  It was easy to fly into it, to express her anger, and she gave little thought to what expressing it cost her.  In the 1970’s, it was popular psychology to feel confident in expressing your anger or rage.  Now, from recent science on this subject, we actually know that when you express it, your anger doesn’t get better, in fact, it actually gets worse and grows into more and more… anger.  In extreme cases, giving in to your anger can cause abuse or even murder.  Indeed, even Jesus described an angry tongue as being capable of “murdering” someone, how much more so when one is giving in to their feelings of anger in a truly violent way.

It wasn’t until my mom came across a book by Abraham Low, Mental Health Through Will-Training, first published in 1950, that she learned that giving in to anger, is “gambling with your mental health.”

When you feel those feelings of anger or “temper” as Low describes it, your peace and inner solitude are disrupted… you’re rendered ineffective and distracted from accomplishing the tasks of your daily life well.

“You can pay the price of that for days,” said my mom.  It tangles you up, wastes your precious energy, and robs you of your mental strength and health.

***

A large part of being mentally healthy, is to understand how to remain calm, responsible, and how to deal with your own anger.

Dealing with your anger means simply not acting out in it.  It means having self-control.  Humility instead of “intellectual snobbishness” (the desire to show superiority).  To have enough character to behave courteously, friendly… in order to create good will with people you are required to do everyday life with, and strangers you may not know.  Being a mentally healthy person means you take all these things into account, and ACT accordingly.

Yes, being mentally healthy means having wisdom and discernment to know you are obligated to control your actions and behavior.

Being mentally healthy means you do not give yourself permission to lose your temper and lash out in anger against others.  To lose your self-control and pay the price of your peace, the embarrassment, the destructive temper feelings, and the shame that comes when you’re finished giving in to your emotions and realize the damage you caused.

I talk about my mom often on my blog, she was instrumental to a lot of the knowledge I have, and who I’ve become as a woman, wife, and mother to my children.  She really was amazing growing up, always giving advice and beautiful instruction on life.  It is wonderful to still have her here, and yes, she does know about & read my blog.  One of the things she did when we were young was to read a Proverbs chapter a day, based on the days of the month.  I’ll never forget the way she’d read the Bible to my brother and I as we were curled up next to her, and I’ll never forget hearing those words of wisdom as they are still with me.

Here are some of the great verses to remind us what God says about anger and losing our temper:

The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life, but the mouth of the wicked conceals violence.  Hatred stirs up conflicts, but love covers all offenses.

Wisdom is found on the lips of the discerning, but a rod is for the back of the one who lacks sense.”  Proverbs 10:11-13

***

The lips of the righteous feed many with their instructions….  The mouth of the righteous produces wisdom…. The lips of the righteous know what is appropriate….” Proverbs 10:21a, 30a, 32a

“An evil person is trapped by their rebellious speech, but the righteous escapes from trouble.

A man will be satisfied with good because of the words he chooses to speak....”  Proverbs 12:13-14a

***

“With the words of their mouth, the ungodly destroys their neighbor, but through knowledge the righteous are rescued.

Whoever shows contempt for their neighbor lacks good sense, but a person with understanding keeps silent.

“A gracious woman gains honor….  A kind person benefits their own self, but a cruel person brings disaster on themselves.”  Proverbs 11:9, 12, 16a, 17

***

“The thoughts of the righteous are just, but guidance from the wicked leads to deceit.

The words of the wicked are a deadly ambush, but the speech of the upright rescues them.

A fool’s displeasure is known at once, but whoever ignores an insult is sensible.  

Whoever speaks the truth declares what is right….

There is one who speaks rashly, like a piercing sword; but the tongue of the wise brings healing.

Truthful lips endure forever….

Those who promote peace have joy.

A righteous person is careful in how they deal with their neighbor….”

Proverbs 12:5-6, 16, 17a, 18, 19a, 20b

***

A patient person shows great understanding, but a quick-tempered one promotes foolishness.

A tranquil heart is life to the body, but jealousy is rottenness to the bones. ” Proverbs 14:29-30

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A gentle answer turns away anger, but a harsh word stirs up wrath.

The tongue of the wise makes knowledge attractive, but the mouth of fools blurts out (without self-control) folly.

The tongue that heals is a tree of life, but a devious tongue breaks the spirit.

The lips of the wise broadcast knowledge….

A hot-tempered man stirs up conflict, but a man slow to anger calms strife.

The mind of the righteous thinks before answering, but the mouth of the wicked blurts out evil things.”

Proverbs 15:1-2,4, 7a, 18

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When a man’s ways please the Lord, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.

Patience is better than power,

and controlling one’s temper, than capturing an entire city.”

Proverbs 16:7, 32

Single Men: Your Girlfriend Should Not Want to Change You

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This should be common knowledge, but apparently, many single guys (and girls) get involved with people that are not quite all that they would want their future spouse to be.  And so they embark on some strange journey of trying to “help” them, or change them into their fantasy person.

I’ve seen girls accept guys for boyfriends they aren’t truly attracted to, at a very base sexual level.  Women are definitely more attracted to qualities other than simply a man’s physical appearance, that is undeniably true.  A husky man that has confidence and humor can attract a woman perceived as “out of his league” with a sexiness that exudes from his behavior and general confidence with women.  But even most women have a physical standard for men that is more stringent than they ever usually feel comfortable admitting.  It’s why you find so many women who are overweight themselves, pining after hot firefighters, or celebrities… meanwhile their husbands (who aren’t as attractive as these hot men) are lucky if they are having a sex life of once a month!

In fact, you’d be hard pressed to find a woman in the real world who would ever have the guts to admit that she is more turned on by a hot, handsome guy, than a nice guy that still looks like the nerds she knew in high school.  It might not be a body builder type, but it’s not exactly the new “Dad Bod” either.

Guys, your physical appearance matters, and if you are interested in being more than Just Friends, you’d be smart to capitalize on your youth, health, and fitness in order to attract the kind of high quality girl you want.

But that would be a whole other topic, this post is explicitly for single men, who somehow find themselves in the very awkward position of dating or being with a girl (or woman) who is just not happy with who they are at that moment in time.  This is the kind of girl who tries to get you to join a gym membership – you know… “for your health,” (snark) not because she’s trying to force you into some kind of role to be her perfect person.  The point is, a woman who is doing this to you, usually does not care (or have any conscious knowledge sometimes) how critical or cruel she is being, she is not worried about your feelings of self-worth or self-confidence because she’s so focused on how you should be.

She often doesn’t realize that criticizing your weight, job, clothes, or any of that IS undermining your self-confidence and feelings of self-worth.  She’d rather you go through the painful process of accepting her criticisms and changing yourself (for her comfort level), than her do the difficult work of finding (or catching) someone that already meets her physical, educational, or financial standards for a good relationship.

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Educational

Financial

These are probably the three biggest areas I’ve seen where women try to provoke through constant bitching change men.  There are other areas as well, like his friendships, but generally, these are the areas where women seem to give men the most grief in a relationship.

Does it come from Low Self Esteem?

Yes.  Yes, I believe it does.  The fact that she would pick someone who was not enough in her estimation to begin with is very telling here.  Why else would any woman settle on a man that is less than she thinks she (at least at some level) deserves?  Here me out single guys!  If a woman is putting you through this kind of unnecessary drama, you will be better off doing one of these three things:

1) Change, but make these improvements only for yourself. There is nothing wrong with getting a better degree, going after a better job or career, losing some weight or getting a gym membership to bulk up a little – all these things are positive, but they are only positive if they are done for the right reasons.

2) Leave her critical spirit in the dust, and then change (follow number 1).  This is hands down your best option here.  As a single, young guy, with more than likely your good health on your side… why put yourself into a relationship (or God-forbid future marriage) with someone who is more than happy to criticize you in any perceived short-coming of yours, to make herself feel better?

3) Don’t change, maybe you are genuinely happy with life as it is – maybe she was pressuring you to go after loftier goals than you desire for yourself, or to work yourself to the bone so that she can have a future of mass credit card bills or a mountain of debt to sate her happiness.  I knew a man that married young to a beautiful sorority girl, his college sweetheart.  He was pre-med at the time, but after their marriage found out that no matter how hard he seemed to try, he just couldn’t make the test scores to actually get in to medical school.  His wife then started to treat him like dirt, criticizing everything about him, his job (where he actually made pretty good), her inability to quit her job to be home with their new baby (she thought he’d be a doctor remember?), made fun of his research achievements (meanwhile he was receiving actual awards for his research), and denying him sexual access.  All because she married someone she didn’t really accept for who he was, but who she imagined he could be in their future together.  She’d rather ruin their marriage, than accept and make the best of the man he has become (a good man who works extremely hard to provide for their family, loves her and his baby, and puts up with her condemning and soul-crushing spirit).  The major drawback of choosing this option is that you will most likely lose the relationship if you don’t change.  For a single man, this is great in my opinion, you have very little to lose as you aren’t invested in her beyond maybe the physical or emotional.  If you do find it hard to move on, perhaps you need to remind yourself that she does not accept you (or possibly even feel sexually attracted to you) at a very very deep level for her.  To stay in that kind of relationship suggests you don’t value yourself enough in the first place, this is something you’d want to explore for yourself… why would you glue yourself to a woman who at her deepest level, isn’t crazy about you?

For a married man, you have my sympathy & a lot more to lose, but keep in mind that bending to her control will only make you even more repulsive in her eyes for your future.  Your best route is to go with number 1, but have the emotional attitude of number 2 in protecting or insulation yourself from her destructive spirit.  You don’t have to divorce her, but keeping a safe emotional distance so that she isn’t constantly cutting you down, while you work on yourself, for yourself, is wise in this kind of situation.

Your Future with a Critical Girlfriend

You have to understand, single guys reading this, the psychological aspect of a woman desiring control over you is bad enough, but to allow her to control you can lead to a future battle of wills when it comes to decisions later on down the road.  A future marriage with this kind of woman is going to be rife with unhappy conflict, why picture having children in this kind of environment?  A critical spirit is very hard for a woman (or a man) to overcome without significant amounts of therapy, and you will be playing into her hand from the beginning by 1) agreeing with her that you aren’t enough as is, and 2) that she is right to control or impose her will of what’s best for you.

Life is already hard guys, why make it harder by picking, or staying with someone who is merely settling on you?

Healing From Emotional Wounds: Why Does It Take So Long for Some to Heal

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I’ve often wondered why some people are more capable of going through a crisis, or even a series of crises, and are simply able to heal faster, or are more open to accepting the necessary truths that lead to their healing, than other people?  What makes the difference between a person who heals faster through therapy or their own self-reflective journey, and the person who has been in therapy for years and still deals with feelings of hopelessness?

I have felt depression, isolation, anxiety, and devastated feelings of self-worth at only a couple of times in my life after family rejection or intense family problems, but when I did, I knew somehow that I needed help to get back to my old self. The first step is admitting their is a problem in your life that is causing you to feel a certain way, the second is motivating yourself enough to do something about it so that you can come to a solution for that problem, and consequently find sustainable healing.  I’ve been very quick to seek counseling from an adviser, mentors, or psychiatrist, and it’s always resulted in healing for me – very deep, profound healing, and within a short time frame compared to someone who needs to spend years in psychotherapy.

I actually enjoy sharing my soul with a mentor or a wonderfully skilled psychiatrist who can pick apart my brain with their objective lens to see or validate my feelings in crisis situations, or to help me see myself or others in the correct (true) light.  I embrace their honesty with me because when I go, I am earnestly searching for truth and healing.  Having that validation, especially from a skilled psychiatrist, that objective perspective of a stranger who understands people and behavior, is extremely reaffirming and rewarding.  I value learning the truth, gaining peace about the events that have happened in my life, and I’m sure people who take longer to heal crave this as well.  But why do they take so long?

It isn’t fair (but then again, life isn’t fair).  But why do some people heal from emotional wounds so easily, while others take so much time… or never do?  Why do some reject truth or solutions to their problems, continue to live in depression or denial, or keep high-walled barriers around their anxiety or loss of purpose?

Suicide is the culmination of hopelessness.  When a person loses their will to live, their sense of any purpose in life or feel that their presence here is worthless, that terrifying concept of suicide starts to enter their brains.  Having known people who have had these thoughts or acted on them, I feel completely at a loss as to how to rationalize the decision a person comes to when they try to take their own life.  I simply cannot comprehend it… perhaps I’m selfish, I greatly enjoy and value my life.  But I realize I have a great sense of purpose… I’m not simply living for myself, I have two beautiful children who depend on me.

And who would be devastated if I selfishly took my own life.

But even if I had no one, if by God’s purpose everything I love was ripped away from me, I would hope that I would continue on my journey of living a life of worth.  I would hope I would still find life worth living, search for someone to help, and create something to live for.

I read a passage while we were out at a lake yesterday that both brought up and answered all these questions.  From The Search for Significance, by Robert McGee,

If we were computers, solutions to our problems would be produced in microseconds.  People, however, don’t change that quickly.  The agrarian metaphors in the Scriptures depict seasons of planting, weeding, watering, growth, and harvesting.  Farmers don’t expect to plant seeds in the morning and harvest their crops that afternoon.  Seeds must go through a complete growth cycle, receiving plenty of attention in the process, before they mature.  In this age of instant coffee, microwave dinners, and instant banking, we tend to assume that spiritual, emotional, and relational health will be instantaneous.  These unrealistic expectations only cause discouragement and disappointment.

I have witnessed people become discouraged or disappointed that their results of peace or healing didn’t come as fast as they expected they would.  I’ve also felt the pain of discouragement and disappointment that comes when you are waiting for someone to go through the necessary growth they need in order to be healthy and mature.  I’ve desired reconciled relationships that just don’t happen, and have watched as people choose denial and falsehoods to mask their unhealthy behaviors so that they can continue living in a life void of growth.  They reject having a real, healthy relationship because ultimately, they reject the stretching or stress they’d need to undergo in order to change their behavior.

Growth is painful, because it has to be, in order to work towards any solution, one has to be willing to do the hard, dirty work of growing, anything less won’t result in true healing.

Our growth will be stunted and superficial if we don’t give proper emphasis to honesty about our emotions, affirming relationships, right thinking promoted through biblical study and application, the ministry of the Holy Spirit, and time.

Some of us seem to respond to this environment of growth very quickly; others, after a few weeks or months; and still others, never at all.  Why the difference?  Why are some of us able to apply principles of growth so much more readily than others? …

Those who respond quickly may not be as wounded as others, or they may already be in an environment which has prepared them for relatively rapid growth.

Some of us are in situations where one of more elements of growth are in some way missing or lacking.  We may be trying to deal with our difficulties alone.  We may be depending on a rigid structure of discipline for positive change, instead of blending a healthy combination of our responsibility of the Holy Spirit’s enabling power.  We may be expecting too much too soon, and may be experiencing disappointment with our slow results.  Some of us may, in fact, be ready to quit the growth process entirely.

One thing I truly appreciate about my childhood and adolescence was the way my parents went about their parenting.  They were (and are) such wonderful people.  They were always kind, loving, generous, supportive, and were always available to talk to through any and every situation or question I had.  They were both open books, and gave me a world of knowledge by sharing with me openly and honestly, what they understood.  They both loved science and research, and had knowledge of the world outside of our small town that they frequently made sure I was aware of.  In many ways, they were almost liberal for being Christians, and yet their convictions were firm and deeply, beautifully grounded.

They both had their imperfections, but they gave me so much wisdom and knowledge through their honesty, openness, and love displayed when I was in their household.  This is more than likely the reason I have no problem at all finding deep healing in being honest with an objective adviser of any kind.  But what about the many who didn’t have great parents?  So many people have lived through abuse or neglect of some kind… does it affect the way they heal or their unique receptiveness to healing?

Those of us who can’t seem to get the light turned on have the greatest difficulty in beginning this process.  We can’t see our problems.  We may recognize that something is wrong, but can’t pinpoint exactly what.  Or our defense mechanisms of denial may be so strong that we’re unable to see any needs in our lives at all.

Those from stable, loving families are usually better able to determine what their difficulties are, and be honest about them, than those who are shackled by the defense mechanisms that are often developed in dysfunctional families.

Those from abusive, manipulative, or neglectful families have far more to overcome than those from a healthier home environment.  Alcoholism, divorce, sexual abuse, physical abuse, workaholism, drug abuse, and other major family disorders leave deep wounds.  Many people from backgrounds like these have suppressed their intense hurt and anger for so long that they are simply out of touch with the reality in their lives.  Therefore, just as a broken arm requires more time, attention, and therapy for healing than does a small abrasion, people suffering from deep emotional, spiritual, and relational injuries need more time, attention, love, and encouragement than those with more minor wounds.

“Why doesn’t just understanding these issues work?  Why isn’t knowledge enough to produce change?”

(Author,) “Man is a relational, physical, emotional, and spiritual being.  We develop and learn and grow best in an environment of honestly, love, and affirmation, where all aspects of our nature are given the encouragement to heal.”

A woman asked me, “What do I need to do to begin seeing some results?”

“Put yourself in an environment of growth, which includes all the elements of honesty, affirming relationships, right thinking, the ministry of the Holy Spirit, and time.  I can’t tell you how or when growth will come – but I know that it will come if you are patient and persistent.”

Living in such a way as to be healthy isn’t so much a destination anymore, but a constant ebb and flow of life’s journey of ups and downs that come to us, in my opinion.  Life will always have problems or pain, there will always be something right now or in the future that we are going to have to work or grow through.  I love the McGee’s symbolism of the seasons of planting, weeding, watering, growth, and harvesting.

If we have the patience of the farmer as he waits for the seeds to germinate, the persistence of his dedication in tending to his garden by pulling weeds or pruning older plants of their dead or useless limbs, we will in time, harvest the fruit and beauty we’re working towards.

The Art of Travel

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Bali

I have a friend that is incredibly and amazingly the most adventurous girl I know.  Her love, her passion?  Travel.  I came across an essay in the book, The Art of Living, that drew images in my head of her and her journeys around the world.  She doesn’t just take time off a busy schedule to go on some two-week vacation, this girl orchestrates complex legs of her journey of life where she is working in a different country as a nurse (Nepal), or on an extended stay in Bali, Indonesia.  She’s been to several places in Europe, Asia, and America, while she grew up and lives in the arctic circle.  Allow me to present my friend, a beautiful woman who inspires me, challenges me with her capacity for bravery, and truly embodies the poetic essay, The Art of Travel.  I adore her… enjoy her pictures of her journeys!

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When you pack your bags to explore the beauties of your own country or to travel around the world, consider these keys to a happy journey.

Travel lightly.  You are not traveling for people to see you!

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Travel slowly. Jet planes are for getting places not seeing places; take time to absorb the beauty and inspiration of a mountain or a cathedral.

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Travel expectantly.  Every place you visit is like a surprise package to be opened.  Untie the strings with an expectation of adventure.

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Travel hopefully.  “To travel hopefully,” wrote Robert Louis Stevenson, “is better than to arrive.”

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Travel humbly.  Visit people and places with reverence and respect for their traditions and ways of life.

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Travel courteously.  Consideration for your fellow travelers and your hosts will smooth the way through the most difficult days.

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Travel gratefully.  Show appreciation for the many things that are being done by others for your enjoyment and comfort.

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Travel with an open mind.  Leave your prejudices at home.

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Travel with curiosity.  It is not how far you go, but how deeply you go that mines the gold of experience.  Thoreau wrote a big book about tiny Walden Pond.

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Travel with imagination.  As the Old Spanish proverb puts it:  “He who would bring home the wealth of the Indies must carry the wealth of the Indies with him.”

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Travel fearlessly.  Banish worry and timidity; the world and its people belong to you just as you belong to the world.

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Travel relaxed.  Make up your mind to have a good time.  Let go and let God.

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Travel patiently.  It takes time to understand others, especially when there are barriers of language and custom; keep flexible and adaptable to all situations.

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Travel with the spirit of a world citizen.  You’ll discover that people are basically much the same the world around.  Be an ambassador of good will to all people.  ❤

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Single Women, You Want a Mature Guy

My husband just turned 30 a few months ago, and he teased me mercilessly about me only having 2 years left to really milk the “I’m having sex with a man in his 30’s while I”m in my 20’s,” silliness.  We tease each other constantly – he teases me constantly, and it adds to our marriage so much happiness!

I grew up understanding that men only get sexier and more desirable as they get older, whereas women tend to peak in their early to mid-20’s and then slowly (or not so slowly depending on how well they take care of their bodies) start to decline in sexual value.  This is totally distinct from personal value, people are definitely valuable – no matter what they look like, however, SMV (sexual market value) is based solely on how much desire they would obtain from the opposite sex at their current state.  It is in a woman’s best interest to capitalize on her peak SMV, to find a man while she is in her 20’s that she can lock down into marriage.  I’m reminded of watching My Big Fat Greek Wedding, where the main character’s father has his double standard for his daughter and son when it comes to marrying.  To the daughter, he keeps reminding in his adorable Greek accent, “You look so old!!!”  But when it comes to his playboy son, he says, “Oh you have plenty of time!”  However fair or unfair this may seem, it is simply the way God’s designed our sexes.  It is no accident that a woman’s fertility levels are also at the peak during her highest SMV time-frame, while men can produce healthy sperm well into their 40’s.

Since we’ve been married almost 8 years, and have known each other for coming up on 10 years, I’ve watched my husband’s sexual market value rise… and its continuing to rise as he attains more and more career success and monetary assets.  😉  It doesn’t bother me, although a couple of years ago, when I posted a picture of him with our son on FB with the caption, “I love this man – so sexy!” another FB friend whom I hadn’t even seen in years, and who hadn’t even met my husband in real life, commented, “I do, too!!”

The awkwardness of other women finding your husband insanely attractive… lol.

He’s always been about 7 years older than me in maturity, at least, that is how I figured it when comparing him to his fraternity-roommate and his friends, who were at a normal level of maturity for 23 year old guys at the time.  My husband was at about the age of 27 or 28, in my mind, because of his choices, personality, attitude about life in general, and readiness to find a serious relationship with someone who wouldn’t sabotage a marriage.  I was still at 20… and although I may have been “ready,” that readiness sure had a lot of naivety in it!  I’ve learned so much from him through all these years, he is the most incredible man I’ve known, even surpassing my father in my admiration.  Alhough we’ve grown so much through these years together, he still, in my mind, is at the same maturity level difference, which puts him at 35, and me at 28.  It’s a good “maturity-gap” in my opinion, I’ve always found it easy to be able to look up to him, to respect his opinions, and desire to hear what he thinks about any issue in the world, or in our life.  The maturity-gap has created a dynamic where he is the default leader of our family, and I let him lead without doubting his capability to.  There is a trust there, because I know his maturity level, that probably wouldn’t have been there had I entered into a marriage where I thought myself the more mature partner.  The more rational partner.

I’ve seen marriages like that, it is not pretty.  The wife usually decides that she is more capable of being the leader, and intentionally makes decisions that go against biblical principals of submitting to her husband, and letting him lead in his rightful place in the family.  A woman who considers herself more mature risks fulfilling the ugly process of emasculating her husband.

So single women, look for traits that mark maturity.  They may not be very obvious, but a man that knows who he is, isn’t swayed easily by nonsense whims or peer pressure, has a firm grip on the correct attitude about life, and is confident and at ease with women in general is a good start.