Change your mind not your spouse!

A big welcome to Summer – Finally!

This has been the first week of THE real heat for us in Nagoya. The past few weeks have been hot but thankfully were lacking the humidity that typifies our area of Japan. Actually, I love the humidity! I know I am weird. I just look at it as a free sauna experience – my skin never looks better than this time of year and I love the feeling of walking out the door and into a wall of humidity. Sorry I just do!

We organized a beach BBQ event with our friends from work, great people, tons of fun – not Christians. This generally does not get in the way of having a great time, or enjoying each others company though. They respect our lifestyle and choices and we enjoy their friendship. It is all good!

However, every now and then the topics or content can show strong differences between our views and ideals.

The topic of marriage came up and most of the couples we were with are married, one divorced,  one couple are common-law and the other couple is just newly dating.  This leaves room for a lot of comments, advice and opinions. Mostly Sweets and I just listen and it was yesterday that I noticed just how vastly different married life can be with Christ involved.

Of course everyone is talking about how we can’t change the other person (thankfully they have all gotten to learn that!) but more of it was about how to put up with your partners annoying things, how to ignore or what tactics one may use to cause about a change. Most of it was negative and I know marriage isn’t perfect, its hard and it takes sacrifice but more negative things were being said about marriage and spouses than good. And these are happily married couples speaking! (for the most part.)

It was during that conversation that I learned a few things:

1) Marriage is meant to make us Holy not happy (I had read that millions of times but it sunk in yesterday) when I realized that things about Sweets that make me want him to change is always an opportunity God uses to bring a change IN ME/ MY attitude and my perspective on myself. Anytime I think a negative thing about my husband I am immediately reminded of how much he has to put up with me and it makes me so thankful for our marriage instead of annoyed. No one ever admitted during that conversation that maybe THEY were also in need of changing.

2) Only with Christ is change a real hope. This is not about dirty laundry on the floor or petty things like that. But some of these people are dealing with things that really should be changing with maturity – but it is clear that no one believes those personality flaws can be changed – ever. I know that there is hope for me and my man to become more and more Godly and so change for the better is inevitable as a christian. He gets the Glory!

3) People do not think that these ideals are possible or even natural after the first couple of years of marriage. This will have to be proven in the coming years, as it is true Cullen and I are still in our first year only and maybe my perspective will change – but faith will not allow me to change my mind that God can not change people and make us more like His Perfect Son. That is what we are living for!

It’s true we cannot change our spouse, but we can change how we view them and the situation – and how we view ourselves. We are equally not the perfect catch for them – and they are equally putting up with a lot from our end as well.

Christ is ever ready to change us though and praise to His name it is not only possible but POSITIVE!!

 

 

 

 

 

Marriage advice from a newlywed?!

Last post I shared a bit of my thoughts on respect for my husband. Today I was thinking about my wonderful man and reflecting on the week, thinking back to times I may have shown respect to him and ways I may not have. I try to do this every night before we go to bed, just to be sure that he knows that I am aware of times I failed him and that I am working on making them far and fewer, and also so that he knows how much I respect him in my heart and mind even if at times my actions or words do not demonstrate that so well.

I don’t know a whole lot about marriage, its only been 11 months! But I can say that one thing that I am compelled to do at least once a day (sometimes more!) – is to thank Sweets for marrying me. The first couple of times I said this to him, I saw him light up and shine like never before, I know that I touched a place in his heart though he didn’t seem to know what to do with that!

He was surprised by my words and I think he took it negatively, as if I thought he had pity on me, or was doing me a favour in which I needed to thank him. In some ways maybe I feel this. Not for the same negative reasons, but my man is pretty amazing!   I dreamed my whole life of marrying a great guy, I had standards after all – but I never thought I would marry someone THIS awesome. I am still shocked he felt we were well fitted. On top of that, I come from a kinda wild, dysfunctional, emotional/vocal family and he comes from the most traditional, stable and reserved family. When I was young I dreamed of family life just like the kind in which he grew up, but with my personality coming out of my upbringing, I never imagined I could be yoked with someone from the complete opposite spectrum. I wasn’t expecting to marry poorly, or anything but I did expect to marry someone with a more similar upbringing, and a bit more chaos in their life.

So that being said, I am just so thankful for my marriage. I am thankful for so much about Sweets, our relationship, and our lives. But more than all of that I am so thankful that he chose me to be his one.  So everyday I cant help but tell him how thankful I am that he married me! Every day I see that same shine come into his eyes and smile as he assures me that he is equally thankful that I said “yes”.

I can not think of a better habit to have started in our marriage than open, vocal, love and appreciation for each other and this relationship.

So there’s my marriage advice of 11 months!  Appreciate your spouse verbally and let me know if they don’t light up and shine like never before!

Honour you God, Honour your marriage,

-Bree

Too shy to pray

A short time ago I posted about the book “power of a praying wife.” I can not tell you how much this has helped me to help focus on my marriage as whole and to not take our life or love for granted. It also helps me keep God in the center. Remembering that the only thing that can keep us strong is Christ Himself.

I continue to pray for my husband daily, and as things come up I apply more time and effort in the more urgent areas. However, one thing I have recently noticed is that Sweets and I do not pray together as we used to when we were courting. When we started our relationship, he began coming to Sunday night prayer service with me. This is a time of worship and prayer only. We are asked to not speak to one another during this time and to focus on the Lord.

Of course praying for and with each other is expected and encouraged (just not conversation, and it is not the time for counseling.)  Sweets and I prayed together every Sunday during those months of courtship and now on Sunday nights we still pray together the same. But when we were dating, we would pray before each of our dates many times, and at the end to really ask the Lord to make a way for us, or make clear the path we should take  and protection going home ect..

Once the Lord gave us Blessing for our marriage, I suddenly became too shy to pray in front of Sweets! I am not sure why this is! And now that we live together, we pray every meal but that’s it (as far as together  I mean – he still prayers on his own on the balcony every morning and I still pray on my own after he leaves for the gym.) But aside from meals or Sunday nights we just don’t seem to make it a priority together.

I am hoping to make a change in this though. First I have to get over my shyness and pray out loud for my husband! Does anyone else struggle with this?!

I want him to know what I am praying so that he can agree and I know that this will be an intimate act between us as well. I always felt that connection and closeness when we were dating. Now more than ever we need to keep this a priority I think, maybe it will help even greater in our communication (which is still in need of adjustment in many respects!) Thank goodness for unconditional love, and the grace to acknowledge this early on. I truly have a wonderful man, friend, lover and companion!

Now that I am bursting with thanksgiving to the Lord for my husband, I will take this opportunity to share with him how much I love, appreciate and respect him….and pray together – for many more years to come!

Blessings to you!

Meal Menu Monday

To start off the week, I have to admit that I slacked a bit. I was CRAZY busy this Monday. Sweets and I got back from Church camp on Sunday night and I had a ton of errands to run Monday morning, as well as starting a new Bible study group early Monday afternoon (11:40-2). in addition I go to language lessons from 4-6pm Monday evenings and then to top it all off this Monday I was also meeting a couple of friends for dinner from 7pm.

So I felt totally insane and on the run the entire day!

Now that you can get a grasp of how I was feeling this week, please cut me some slack with this weeks menu hehe

I also want to note that I do not usually have a breakfast menu, this is because Sweets goes to the gym every morning at 7am, so he gets up before me and always has the exact same thing for breakfast (three eggs, a banana, a smoothie and granola)band I tend to also eat the same thing morning after morning (Honey nut cheerios or raisin toast with butter) So our meals are for lunch and dinner  -only 4 nights a week. (We also eat an ice-cream cup for dessert every night after dinner) Also keep in mind we live in Japan. I prefer to home-cook more western style food but at times it may sound a bit different. I tend not to use  recipes and just throw the things together, but if there is a recipe you would like please ask and Id be happy to send it your way.

Monday Lunch: rice, ginger pork, lightly steamed broccoli, carrots and beans, yogurt, 2 chocolate chip cookies, handful of walnuts.

Dinner: Meeting friends, Had Chicken breast with BBQ sauce and mixed veggies ready for sweets to steam when he got home from work.

Tuesday Lunch: Tuna pasta, pineapple chunks, soybeans, handful of almonds, walnuts and some chocolate covered raisins, yogurt,  granola bar

Dinner: Sauteed thinly sliced steak, green peppers and bamboo in soy sauce mixture with a side of rice and miso soup

Wednesday Lunch: beef, salad, yogurt, rice, granola bar, tangerines

Dinner: (Sweets and I do not eat dinner together this night! No cooking!)

Thursday Lunch: Cream Gratin with chicken and macaroni, soybeans, pineapple, mixed nuts, yogurt and cookie.

Dinner:  Lemon baked Salmon, Avocado and tomato salad, baked potato with salsa

Friday Lunch: Beef Stew with chunky bread, steamed veggies, apple slices, yogurt, granola bar

Dinner: No cooking day!

Saturday Lunch: Left over Beef stew, yogurt, cookie, raw sliced carrots and soy beans

Dinner: Lemon pepper chicken, tossed salad, vegetable soup

Sunday: No Cooking

“Find out who you are, and Do It On Purpose”

A famous quote from a famous country singer. I loved it from the fist time I heard it  ( in A Walk to Remember). I am often reminded of it from day to day and week to week. Not because it was so profound or even that life changing of a quote for me at the time, but because it has a meaning now that I have decided with all my heart to live ON PURPOSE!.

One of the common ideas that seems to permeate most people’s lives these days is happenstance, or in other words allowing life to happen and dealing with it as it comes.

Now, generally this doesn’t seem like a bad way to live. In fact, in some cases it is the best idea! Life will happen! I know it, you know it! We have all been affected by “life” and many things we can’t choose, prevent or even prepare for. In these cases it is of course best to take it one day at a time, and deal with it as is fitting.

However, this is not the case with everything. Nor should it be. Specifically in our marriages. This is a dangerous belief and it is (in my opinion) destroying marriages all around me.

Why would I have this opinion? Because ALL of the stuff I have been reading about for marriage and listening to people talk about, seems to point to this idea. Those marriages in which the couples are so in love and they think they always will be and they are just living on love… tend to me miserable a few yrs down the line. They  think love will take them through anything and everything but they actually are not making any purposeful effort to keep the passionate love alive.

These are the people I hear that think how it is in the first few months or year of marriage is how it will always be. They mistakenly believe as long as you love it will all work out. BUT I don’t hear these people talk about how to KEEP the love alive, how to serve their spouse and how to make sure they are a blessing and not an annoyance or burden to their lover’s life.

These are the people I hear complain that their husband or wife “used to ____”. or they are the ones who say things like “enjoy it while it lasts”. It’s sickening, because so many people assume and live with a reality where the best days and years of their marriages are behind them and “somehow” it all just ended, stopped and is no longer like this anymore.

It made me wonder (and worry!) Why? What makes things change so drastically. Why are people who were once madly in love now resentful and apathetic? It really made me have to look at the big picture of what was going on and the common thing I note is that most of these people let life happen and do not choose to do anything on purpose…especially anything to stop allowing life to suck the love out of their marriages.

So, that brings me back to my theme for the month (maybe year!) Live on purpose. Love on purpose and above everything else choose your attitude on purpose.

Once you (and your significant other)  are making choices, planning for certain expectations and doing things on purpose to demonstrate love, appreciation and service to the other then it is easy to see that life has no chance to creep up and steal the passion out of these relationships. It is easy to see the contrast in people, who are happily married for 10, 20, 30+ years. These people love to talk about marriage! They are worth listening to, and their example is worth following.

I am ever the student, learning as much as I can about my life as a Christian women and now a wife as well. I see lessons in every relationship I come across and take the chance to talk about this with all of them who give me a few minutes to observe and ask.

There are the couples I learn from because it brings fear and worry that I do NOT want to end up like that. and others who are such great examples and it make me look at them and say THAT’S how I imagined marriage to be!

Blessings

Direction over Intention

I am sure that I am not alone when it comes to feeling like a failure as wife, a friend and more importantly as a Christian women.

I frequently do and say things that I am regretful of nearly the second they come out of my mouth. I am constantly ashamed and even surprised by my behaviour or words, even though really I shouldn’t be all that surprised since I did nearly the same thing earlier this week!

I continuously feel frustrated that I am not able to live up to a higher standard and even more frustrated that I am not the women I want to be, let alone hoped to be by this point in my life.

This week Sweets and I had to have some necessary (and some unnecessary) chats about future things, money, and expectations ect..) I know that most of this is due to us living abroad and we constantly need to evaluate and stay on the same page for future hopes, dreams, plans and expectations. Contract discussions are coming up in the next 2-3 months and we both need to be sure and secure in what we agree to with out current companies. (We really want to try our very best to live by “yes be yes” and ” no be no”, we would both hate to agree to a contract only to find that a move to North America was on the radar a few months later.)

I admit that I do not always handle these conversations very gracefully. I am  outspoken and I grew up in a rather harsh, tension filled home much of the time (though not all of the time as I have many great memories, and miss my family  while I’m here) However, our family communication consisted of screaming, yelling and hollering at each other – this was what would be normal conversation in most other peoples homes. So I still have that natural reaction/response in conversations that dig a bit deeper than “whats for dinner?” or talking about our day at work.

I despise this part of me and desperately want to change for both my husband and the Lord especially. A gentle and quiet spirit. I cant even imagine that could be me, but that is the goal! A gentle and quiet spirit, maybe if I say it enough I will start to associate with it! haha

I know that just identifying the problem is not enough, we also need to dig deeper to the root of the issue, and also come up with specific steps and a plan to change and get from where we are to where we want to be.

I am currently reflecting on my own habits, responses and reactions to various parts of life that really disappoint me as a Christian women wanting to serve the Lord and be more and more like Him.

I am realizing that (at least for me) just knowing what is wrong in my personality is not the same as becoming what is right. So my current project is underway. (ME!)

I have decided to start with What/ Who I want to be, and who I think I am. Working backwards to determine steps I can take that would bring me to this desired destination. The problem is that often times the person I think I am is actually not at all what others may experience. They may not see my good intentions through failures if I am consistently offending, raising my voice or any other poor response I likely have. Even though deep within my intention is nice, if my actions do not more often reflect my intention then it doesn’t matter what I intended! The best thing I ever learned (and I may end up posting more about this book later at some point)  is that direction NOT intention determines the destination. (Andy Stanley Principal of the Path)

I can intend as many things as I want but if I am not actively heading in that direction I will never end up there. I actually do not know what my plan of action will look like as of this second. I just know God wrote the end from the beginning and so it may be a good place for me to start. I want to be the kind of wife my husband will not only be proud of but that he can be very thankful for. I want to be the  gift from God to his life. Proverbs 18:22, 19:14, 31:10.

Please pray for me, that I will remember to seek the Lord for strength and help and humble myself before Him frequently instead of trying all the things on my own!

Thank you so much!

 

 

 

The Power of Prayer

I love the book The Power of a Praying Wife!

I got it right before Sweets and I were married. I read it through as a whole during our engagement. At that time I started to pray through some of the areas that Stormie Omartian highlights as important areas to pray specifically for.

Now I have been married for just under 2 months and I have read this through another 3-4 times. I make an effort to pray for at least a couple of each of these areas for my husband on a regular basis.

I looked quite a bit for a blog, or commentary on this book before I bought it, just to be sure it would be useful for me and my life before spending the money. But sadly I did not find too, too much that was helpful. I am thankful that int he end  I purchased the book. I would recommend it to any women who is married, engaged or one day plan to be.

As I mentioned, I prayed through many of these areas before my wedding and it was a good habit to start. Another unexpected benefit is that it opened my eyes to areas in my husband’s life that a) I didn’t even consider he may be struggling with, b) I hadn’t  realized existed, or that I never thought would affect myself or our marriage.

Over the next few weeks and maybe months (depending on how much time i can find!) I do want to expand on these thoughts and areas to include some of the things that totally were new to me but also the changes I have seen take place in the course of just two months!

Why not try to pray in one of these areas everyday for a month. Note the changes not just in your husband but also in yourself, the way you relate to your husband and most importantly your relationship with the Lord.

1. Wife – prayer for yourself to be a Godly Wife.

2. Work – to be balanced and fulfilling.

3. Finances – not praying for more money, but using the money to Glorify God be giving, saving and wise.

4. Sexuality – sexual fulfillment and satisfaction for both partners.

5. Affection – Forming emotional bonds, and meeting needs for affection.

6. Temptations – those you may know about, suspect and ones you are not aware of.

7. Mind – clarity, unity, a sound mind at peace.

8. Fears – those you know about and those that you do not. Many men fear not being able to take care of their family, not having work, or illness that leaves them unable.

9. Purpose –  as a man, a husband, and a servant to his Creator.

10. Choices – In all areas of life, that he will be wise and led by the Lord.

11. Health –  Protection and prevention as well as healing and wholeness.

12. Protection – From immediate and possible threats, danger and accidents.

13. Trials – to keep strong and faithful through character building struggles that he may need to go through in order to be a greater husband, man or Christian.

14. Integrity – doing what is right because it is right in ALL situations, to stand against opposition and being mediocre .

15. Reputation – to not be spoiled, or tarnished by such things as gossip, jealousy, misunderstandings or mistakes.

16. Priorities – to be in the right order, balanced and that he gives strong attention to those areas that are eternally significant.

17. Relationships – with everyone around him. In and out of the house. Especially for trustworthy, Godly men friends to help him, encourage him and guide him when needed.

18. Fatherhood – that he be confident, strong and sensitive, as well as present and attentive.

19. Past – anything that might be cause of concern, habits, learned behavior and things that hold him back, bring him down and cause ill thoughts or feelings to haunt him in any way.

20. Attitude – To be Spirit filled and not fleshly, that he would be thankful and grateful and not critical or negative.

21. Marriage – Pray against divorce, adultery or distrust. This is important no matter how perfect the marriage is now. Pray for joy and peace and unity as well.

22. Emotions – namely that he will not be guided by them but by the Lord only. That he will not act on his emotions but be stable, self-controlled and able to discern.

23. Walk – That he will walk in all the ways of the BIble. That he will be guided by the Lord and directed by Him on his paths each day. To walk in righteousness and holiness ect.

24. Talk – That he may bridle his tongue, speak wisdom and truth and that he will not be foolish with the power of his words.

25. Repentance – That he would be sensitive to the Lords ways, and have an honest and humble heart to easily repent for his sins and seek the Lords strength for making him a better man.

26.  Deliverance – From anything that may have a hold on his life, thoughts, heart and behaviour. These may be known, or a hidden struggle deep within him. Only God can heal and bring wholeness.

27.  Obedience – To the Lord of course. That he would be still and know God, accept whatever works God has planned for him to walk in and that he would easily obey no matter what he feels or thinks about the situation.

28.  Self-Image – identity in Christ and viewing himself as God sees him. Poor self Images can lead to missed opportunities, fears and other hindrances to growing in the Lord and being a strong husband capable of leading  as well.

29.  Faith – To carry him through all things, to be unwavering and to be placed in the right source.

30.  Future – Vision and direction for the future as well as hope and ambition to motivate decisions. Men need goals to work towards and Gods vision for the future is a great driving force for a husband and his family.

I learned SO much from praying these little things and adding my own concerns, thoughts and personal aspects of Sweets personality to each prayer.

Prayer really can change the course and path a man is walking on. Only when God is invited into the midst can there be any hope for an alternate destination.