Little Hope

Crystal had come to the end of her ropes. She was crying frequently and expressed little hope that she could overcome her depression. She had become extremely disillusioned because her fairy tale marriage of sixteen years hadn’t turned out happily ever after. Rod wasn’t abusive or unloving, but he also wasn’t the nurturing, attentive husband she fell in love with.

It was four years after Crystal received a promotion at work and they bought a house. Both of the new changes required extra work and longer hours at the office for Crystal. She assumed Rod would understand and step up to help carry the load with household chores, after all, they discussed the extra responsibilities it would require before signing the papers. She quickly became disappointed and frustrated by his selfishness and insensitivity. He wasn’t able to understand but focused on the things that were important to him.

One night, going to bed exhausted and alone, while Rod stayed up watching his sci-fi movie, Crystal cried her tears in the pillow, talking to God, “I hate my life.” “Ever since I was a girl, I struggled competing for love, trying to prove myself worthy. I’ve learned not to expect anything God because I will only set myself up for disappointment and pain.”

As a child, a teenager, a young mother, Crystal had experienced terror. Her emotions ran the roller coaster of hate, fear, confusion, anxiety. The abusive trauma became so emotionally overwhelming that she learned the secret of disassociating and for her defense, she would zone out; get small and run. To survive on earth in the world of cruelty and hypocrites, she learned to wear a mask. Crystal couldn’t ‘fake it’ forever so instead she became increasingly reclusive, and took no chances, becoming paralyzed, losing hope, feeling despair, and suicidal.

Being raised in a Catholic home where Crystal attended church weekly, she learned to fear God instead of understanding His love. If she was in trouble, her mother would say, “Pray harder, work harder because you did something wrong to deserve the punishment.”

Have you ever been depressed? If you’re human, of course you have. Have you ever been in despair and lost hope? We’ve all fallen short, doubted our faith and wondered in darkness. Maybe not as deep as Crystal, but we can relate to her losing hope in some form.

In times of despair, a great source of strength is our friends and family staying near us, giving us those gentle touches and looks that communicate their sorrow and care. When we face troubled times, we should never forget that God remains close by, ready to supply us with his love and comfort. This can give me the courage to go on. It takes courage to live on earth and pursue the treasure of eternity with My Father in heaven. Courage comes from faith in God. Our relationship to Him is forever. I know this in my heart, but honestly, sometimes I just want my husband’s strong arms to hold me close with a warm sincere heart, saying nothing, just comforting me like Jesus would. Let me know you’re on my side, protecting me in the darkness.

Fear of the unknown is like fear of the darkness, I am afraid because I can’t see what is ahead. God does throw light on my distant future. Psalm 27: 1 “The Lord is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The Lord is the defense of my life; Whom shall I dread?” God’s face is not always visible to me when I’m in the dark path, but I’m still in His care and He is guiding my final destination with a light onto my path.

God promises help in time of need. This should give me boldness to face the hard times. In 1 Corinthian 16:13 we’re told, “Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong.” Rely on God, our despair will turn to hope, and our hope will be courageous.

What Motivates You to Give Thanks?

Scripture: “In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18  

Thought: Thanksgiving is “a prayer expressing gratitude.” One of the beautiful things about the Thanksgiving holiday is that it motivates us to give a specific time to reflect on the wonderful blessings we all enjoy. While we may not have as many things as other people have, we can all be thankful for friends and family who love us and the life God has given us. As I look back and gratefully recount His faithfulness in my life, my confidence in Him grows. God provided what I needed, guided me through confusing situations, and delivered me from difficulty, hopelessness and temptation. As in Job, I didn’t always understand the tribulation, but I trusted His promise, He wouldn’t abandon me and He knew what He was doing. In all things, it is good to give thanks to the Lord. Thanksgiving is the perfect time to show your gratitude to your loved ones as well as thank God for the divine blessings He has showered upon you.

Action: No matter our situation we can be thankful for what God has done with us this past year and for what He promises to do for us this coming year. Glorify Him in everything. What is your thanksgiving blessing? Restoration, family, health, job, relationships, unconditional love, freedom, forgiveness, second chance, recovery? Celebrate this festive occasion by giving thanks to everyone who’s been there for you, and express your gratitude to Our Almighty God with Thanksgiving prayers.

Prayer: Lord, in everything I give you thanks. I lift my hands in praise for all that you have done for me. Thank you for the splendor of your whole creation, for the beauty of this world, for the wonder of life, and for the mystery of your love. Thank you for the blessing of my family and friends, and for the loving care which surrounds me every day. I also thank you for those disappointments and failures that led me to acknowledge my dependence upon Your mercies alone. Thank you for the men and women who have sacrificed their lives to serve and make this country strong, they are models and an inspiration of your sacrificial love. Give me strength to live another day serving you and not to turn coward when difficulties transpire. Help me not to lose faith in other people but strengthen me and keep me sweet and sound of heart, in spite of ingratitude and meanness. Help me to keep my heart clean, and to live honestly and fearlessly that no outward failure can dishearten me or take away my joy and gladness with You. Open wide the eyes of my heart that I may see good in all things and all people. Bless me with new vision of Your truth and give me the cup of strength to those that are hurting. May I see where you are calling me to share random acts of kindness, Your love to give away. Above all Father, thank you for your Son Jesus Christ, for the truth of his Word and the example of his life, for his steadfast obedience, which he overcame temptation, for his suffering and dying on the cross, through which he overcame death; and for his rising to life again, in which we are raised to the life of your kingdom. Thank you for the free gift of your Spirit, for my salvation. In the name of Our Strong Deliverer, Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, I pray with thanksgiving. Amen.

When Anger Separates Family Members

Here’s How to Reconnect

Do you have a family member you no longer see or talk to? It could be a brother, sister, grown child, cousin, parent, in-law, aunt or uncle. Maybe it was something he/she said or something you did, but no matter the cause, there is a sense of loss.  Read more

The Good, Bad & Ugly of Marriage Counselors

Three Dangers in Marriage Counseling

#2   The Counselor is not Confident 

Why is this important?  Because you need someone who is not only competent but also someone who is confident.

1.  Confident in Themselves

Obviously, you don’t want to seek a counselor that is filled with conceit, but confident enough to speak directly to each of the participants and call people out when necessary.  Some counselors agree with everything to pacify or not upset the couple.  You sit there for fifty-five minutes and  basically the counselor listens and ask questions,  but they don’t give advice. Really? Clients are paying counselors to help them identify and resolve conflict.

I’ve heard couples repeatedly tell me, they tried counseling but their counselor would make impractical statements, “Well, I see your point” or “Hmmmm, that’s a good idea.”  I have several couples whom have tremendous issues with  borderline personality disorder. Understanding this illness takes certified medical professionals and a trained, certified counselor who is confident and specializes in identifying the root cause that has manifested into the personality disorder.

For example, in my practice, I see men that may be extremely manipulative, and the women may react with an explosive behavior.  In other cases,  a husband could be passive and let his wife do whatever she wants, even if he doesn’t approve, he agrees to keep the peace in the family. I have a few women that are extremely frustrated with their husbands apathetic approach and lack of leadership, because of their narcissistic behavior and the need for everything to be all about them. Once, I had a client that played and wrestled with his wife when they were first married, to his surprise, she would turn into “Mr. Hyde” and became someone he didn’t recognize. After much mental abuse, years later they learned of her mental illness and the dual personalities that surfaced when she felt threatened. It took medical doctors, prescriptions and professional counseling to help the two of them identify the origin of her pain and help them heal from the past wounds. Without confidence in my specialty of counseling, I could have caused more harm and empty the bank book.

The outcome of counseling is having a professional that will name the action for what it is and spell it out. Someone who will provide advice and tell you when your behavior is right or wrong.  You are entrusting them to provide a safe place for the two of you to talk and be expose your vulnerability.  Your looking for a professional that is confident and willing to step in when one is hurting. It’s like a football game. How long would it last if the five “officials” simply nodded their heads and said, “Well that was a good play.” Couples need to be flagged from time to time and a counselor who is confident will do this.

2.  Confident in God’s Spirit

Find a counselor that is confident in God’s Spirit.  Jesus gave us another Comforter just like Himself.  This Spirit is described as a Wonderful Counselor.  In my practice, I pray with my couples as we begin so that God may send His Spirit to lead us into Truth and again as we close so His Spirit will give them Freedom.

Confidence in the Spirit means to place my trust in Him and rely on Him. As a confident counselor, I will show you keys to God’s principles and give you tools and scripture to keep you accountable as you walk daily with Him every day.  I ask for you to journal daily because every single person indwelt by God’s Spirit, will begin to hear what the Spirit of the Lord is saying to them. This helps us both see where you’re at in your walk, what progress or back steps are taking place.  I can see what you need and when you need it. Every week, I experience the amazing miracle of Father’s Heart being poured out in someone’s life in a way that causes me to be in awe of Father’s Grace. I had one experience with a women who was struggling with several trials all at once. I had been praying for her during the week. At our next session, I asked her to open in prayer, and she cried her heart out with the exact prayers God had laid on my heart that week. What makes prayer and God’s Spirit in our lives so special is when we begin to hear on their own from the Shepherd Who loves us deeply.

3.  Confident in Your Future

When I meet couples, I see them through the eyes of Father’s Heart.  I see them as they can and will be.  It was Michael Angelo who quoted when asked, “How did you create David?” He simply replied, “I waited till I saw David in the rock and then cut away everything that wasn’t David.”

What a superb answer!  I know with great confidence where a couple can go.  I have walked many trails with many hurting couples.  I have seen the hazards and the shadows, the valley’s, the mountains and the still waters.  I KNOW where Jesus will lead us if the couple will allow God’s Spirit to take control and entrust their pain in my confidence. I have sat opposite ends with marriage couples who proclaim, “We can’t make it one more week, you’re our last shot.”

So confidently, we trust the Lord, run the race with endurance and go to work cutting away everything that doesn’t look like David. Working on the differences that separate your marriage and keep you from living in unity like God designed you to be.  Communication, conflict, temperaments, languages all become tools to chisel away. Horizontal living is not of Christ, but plugging into Christ we get charged and learn to live a future life Vertically with Him.

I am confidence in Him and in those that are willing to walk through the rough days ahead. In my practice, couples will look to me with my hand on the tiller of their boat and hear my voice, “We can do this,” “We will make it,” “We will work it out,” “Be patient, God’s not finished.”

Get a good coach.  Someone who is Competent, and Confident.

Winners use Coaches

Dr.J

 

Good & Bad Marriage Counselors #1

Three Dangers of Marriage Counseling

#1 The Counselor is not trained 

IT wasn’t long ago that a very credentialed professor from the University of Minnesota wrote an article on “Why Therapy can be Hazardous to your Marital Health”. Being a marriage therapist and mentor his title jerked my attention. He was sounding an alarm to couples about bad counselors. He states, “You’d be interested to know that, according to a national survey, 80 percent of all private practice therapists in the United States say they do marital therapy and only 12 percent of them are in a profession that requires only one course or any supervised experience. Only marriage and family therapy as a profession requires any coursework or supervised clinical experience in marital or couples therapy. So most people who say they’re doing this work picked it up on the side or not at all.”

I frequently experience this in my own practice. I’ll hear opening comments as, “Well, we’ve been to see four counselors and you’re number five.” It’s  a ‘buyer beware’ market, as is the choice of any coach. You can’t use a successful NFL coach to teach intricacies for a successful girls Olympic gymnastics. In the same way, we need to be watchful as to who we choose as a counselor.

I teach people to interview their counselor.

  • What training have you had? Get an idea of what they have done to learn, train, and improve themselves.
  • What strategy will you use? See if they even have a strategy, a plan, a format they follow because it tells you they are prepared.
  • What courses have you taught? Many of us teach seminars and it is a good way to check areas of competency.
  • What Biblical principles will you hold to?
  • What is your view on accountability?
  • What is your success rate with couples? Ask others about their experience with a certain counselor. Get recommendations
  • What do you do on a daily basis to walk with God?

Actually the first questions are great and they tell me much, but if you are a Christian and you believe in Biblical Guidance, then that last question is the deal breaker. If they don’t have a walk with God then what and how will they teach you?

I see so much of this in counselors. They think if they understand one concept they are experts in multiple areas. I have a lot of training and experience in Dysfunctional Family Origin, Attachment, Early Teen Development and Marriage Counseling, but when it comes to Drug and Alcohol or Addiction therapy, I’m in the back seat. I listen attentively to what they say and marvel at their expertise, but I wouldn’t coach in their specialty field.

For myself, I live, eat, and sleep in the areas God has called me to. If you are going to undergo heart surgery would you want someone who can’t stop thinking about your surgery or someone who can’t wait to get on the golf course?

I remember seeing Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Indiana Jones, famed adventurer and archaeologist acquires a diary that holds clues and a map to find the mysterious Holy Grail. Upon retrieving his father in Nazi territory, the rescue mission turns into a race to find the Holy Grail before the Nazis. It boils down to a final moment. They have passed the tests and found the cave where a 900 year old knight guards the water of eternal life. Before them is a table of cups, the guardians asks, “Which cup will you choose?” The Nazi runs forward to grab the most beautiful gold challis. Drinking the fountain water, he steps back in a grin…. Then changes from a smile, screams, his face melts, and he explodes. It’s pretty graphic. In the quiet that follows the shock of this man being reduced to a pile of dust, the guardian knight says matter of factly (which makes it ever more hilarious) “He chose poorly.”

Well duh… what do you think?

But bottom line life can be full of poor decisions, so do your homework and choose wisely; the choice is yours. Winners use Winning Coaches.

She shall be called “Eve”

Recently God has been speaking to my spirit, wrestling with me, deep in my heart.  It began with the review of a new book called Eve.  I am very suspicious of the author because though he writes with such flowing emotion the reader passes by the stop signs of his deception.  I have read some of the trusted reviewers such as Tim Challies.  His review of Eve is not a good one.  (http://www.challies.com/book-reviews/eve)  Challies frankly dis-recommends the book, as a net loss.  It’s intellectual integrity is that poor.

However in the course of review Challies writes:

“…God, in his creative work, assigned separate roles to men and women. In God’s world no role is better or greater or higher than another, but each is critical to the story he is telling.   God tells us that God created men to take positions of leadership within the church and family, and for women to joyfully submit themselves to this leadership. In this way God provides a much fuller display of who he is and what he is like. His image is shown not in uniformity but in complementarity. After all, the relationships within the Trinity display this very same pattern of leadership and submission. What is ultimately at stake here is not the relationship of man to woman, but our understanding of God as he displays himself in our relationships.

This phrase struck me.  Hard, loud, unexpected.   With the cross reference of Ephesians 5.33 ringing in my marriage counseling heart.

“FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER AND SHALL BE JOINED TO HIS WIFE, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH.  This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church.  Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband.”

For some time I have been fascinated by the history of Adam and Eve.  Their Hebrew names are actually Ish and Ishaw.  I have been so deeply impressed with this knowledge that in creation Ishaw was pulled from Ish.  She was not created from mud, she was shaped from flesh.  Negev Ezer, Father calls her.  A completing rescuer.  Yes Jerry MaGuire you were right, “You complete me.”  A woman is given a sense of beauty by Father’s Hands, a sense of beauty that draws the heart and the eyes of man to her.  One flesh refers to their unity, sexually, emotionally, physically.  Father created them to be one.

In their origin they were complementary.  They functioned as a team, together, with precision synchronicity, decisions were made, actions were undertaken, goals were achieved.  There was no conflict.  They were like Father and Son and Spirit.  It must have been just magic to watch them caring for each other’s needs, helping each others tasks.  She was his rescuer, his compliment.  He was strength and agility.  She was beauty and feeling.

The discussions they may have had,  “Oh I didn’t see that Ishaw, thank you”.  “I couldn’t have done that my Ish”.  So they named the animals, they tended Father’s Garden.  And they walk and talked with Father’s Presence.

Until it happened.  Yes we know about the fall, the sin.  But what has begun to shout so loudly at me is not the obvious consequences of this fall.

  • For the first time they knew fear.  “I heard you and I was afraid”
  • For the first time they knew shame.  “for I was naked”
  • For the first time they saw an animal killed in front of them.  “The Lord God clothed them in skins”
  • For the first time they played the blame game.  “The woman… YOU gave me”  “The serpent deceived…”
  • For the first time they were now at war.  “I will place an enimity between…”

But a deeper look.  A more tearing injury, not just in skin, but in the flesh of the relationship.  Man carried the curse of the decision as God said the ground was cursed.  No matter what a man may do, for most of us anyway, it just never really works out all that well.  The labor of our hands is cursed.

But the woman.  “I will greatly multiply, your pain in childbirth, in pain you will bring forth children; yet your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.”  She is the key to the relational magnet.  She was from the beginning and she still is.  But now there is desire.  She always wants relationship.  She knows deep inside relationships are important.  They are eternal.  Man is busy trying to figure out thorns and weeds and ground.  She gives LIFE.

But before the complimentary hearts working synchronically is gone,  she deceives him and he blames her.  For the first time in this God reflecting unity there is something never felt before.  Betrayal.

Ish and Ishaw.  That’s what they used to be called.  Then something happens.  We skip right over it.  We are so accustomed to it.  The Man changes her name.  “you shall be called Eve because you are the mother of all living”.  Really?  We see it as a simple name but it is not.  For this man has reduced this woman to an animal.  HE NAMES HER.  I couldn’t believe it.  There it was.  What arrogance.

Two huge lessons here.  1) Ish was called to love and serve and protect and nurture and present her in beauty as the holy and blameless gift she was, back to God.  She was his precious gift.  Now she is just another thing.  Man now leads by power and control, by strength, by overpowering.  Yeah, it’s called abuse.  Men, allow God to call you back to Eden.  See the truth in the original blueprint.  Walk that out with your wife.  It doesn’t matter if you are angry, irritated, frustrated…. yes here is the word: resentment.

Ladies.  Become Ishaw again.  Now in this world you are taught to dis-regard, dis-respect, dis-approve.  “I’m gonna kick him to the curb”.  “I’m tired of trying”, “I can’t put up with this any longer”.  You aren’t called to that.  You are his negev ezer.  You complete him and you rescue him.

Why is it important?  “Because the mystery is great, I am speaking of Christ and the Church”   What is ultimately at stake here is not the relationship of man to woman, but our understanding of God as he displays himself in our relationships.

God is seen in our marriages.  point blank.  But as a counselor, I just see such a sadness.  Father’s Great Sadness.  That which was created in beauty has been reduced to chaos.

So here’s the lesson.  Do it different.  Do it according to design.  YOU BE DIFFERENT.  Make your marriage different.  Live like Ish or Ishaw.  Stop pointing fingers.

  1. PRAY for each other.
  2. PLAY your positions, find value in your role.
  3. PAY the price of success.  It isn’t easy.  Reject the Chaos and pay the price of success.  It’ll cost you…your ego.  Ask Father for help.  Get a mentor.  Work together.  Let Father show you your self agenda.  Become the complimentary team you were meant to be.  Get rid of the hardened heart.  Embrace hope.  You may be two people in wheel chairs emotionally but learn to help each other from the chair.

5 Languages that Communicate “I Love You”

Scripture: “Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another without complaint. As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.” 1 Peter 4:8-10

Thought: Dr. Gary Chapman wrote a famous book on The Five Love Languages. Based on his book, here are the five languages that communicate love, actions, and things to avoid.
1. Words of Affirmation: Communicate with encouragement, affirm actions, appreciate efforts, empathize with compassion, and listen responsively. Actions to take: Send an unexpected note, text, or card, and encourage often with sincerity. Avoid non-constructive criticism, not recognizing and appreciating.
2. Physical Touch: Communicate through body language and touch to emphasize love; hug, kiss, hold hands, show physical affection regularly, make intimacy a thoughtful priority. Avoid physical neglect and long periods without intimacy. Avoid receiving love coldly.
3. Receiving Gifts: Communicate with thoughtfulness, kindness, patience, make your spouse a priority, and speak intentionally. Actions to take: Give thoughtful gifts and gestures, small things matter in a big way; flowers, dinner out, favorite candy or meal, video game or DVD movie, and express gratitude when receiving gift. Avoid forgetting special occasions, avoid being un-enthusiastic about receiving gift.
4. Quality Time: Communicate without interruptions and focus on conversation. Spend one-on-one time by way of date nights, quiet time after kids have gone to bed, sitting outside and observing the stars, take a walk together. Create those special moments and do small things together. Avoid distractions when spending time together; avoid long interludes without alone, quiet time together.
5. Acts of Service: Communicate that you are united with them as a partner and you want them to know that your are present to help serve; use action phrases, like, “I’ll help do this….” Do chores together or some other project improvement, make breakfast in bed, water plants, wash the car, fill the gas tank, go shopping for groceries or kids school supplies. Act anyway to alleviate the daily load. Avoid making the request of others a higher priority, avoid not following through or completing the task to the end, whether big or small tasks.

Action: Take this languages of love quiz together. Then re-center in Fathers Love and begin your date night with one another’s love language. For quiz go to http://www.proprofs.com/quiz-school/story.php?title=whats-your-love-langugae

Prayer: Lord, apart from you I desire nothing. I know that when I love you and use the special gift You have bestowed upon me that I can fill my spouse’s love tank. My desire is to do Your Will and I know and believe that you will fill my love tank in return. Teach me to communicate in the same way you so lovingly communicate with you. Please give me the motivation and commitment to take action and not just speak it or think about it. I need You, I want You, and I desire to center my love around You. Amen.

It’s Not Be Right, But Find Right – Criticism

Scripture: “Let those who have never sinned, throw the first stones!” John 8:7; “Stop judging others, and you will not be judged.” Matthew 7:1; “If you serve Christ with this attitude, you will please God, and other people will approve of you too.” Romans 14:18

Thought: Infamy, there was a time I use to belittle my husband and children with disapproval. Criticism I felt it was “my job” to draw to their attention the mistake they were making because it wasn’t the choice I would make or think it would be God’s way. I learned that I was only hurting myself and pushing them away because they didn’t feel they could measure up. There is a time and place for healthy criticism, when another person is living in open sin or engaging in a life style that is not right. It is then that criticism can be healing or redemptive, if it is truly constructive criticism. But for the most part, criticism demeans, degrades or humiliates another, often to make the other critical person look better. Depreciating another to make a point or make ourselves look better is sinful, particularly when the devaluing robs the other of a sense of self worth. Constructive criticism should always be a welcome and wholesome gift if given in a spirit of love. But we have no right to give hurting criticism of another, because this is trying to be a judge over that person, and God alone is our judge. Remember you are not God and should not try to do His work for Him. It’s not about being right, its about finding what’s right, good and uplifting for Father God. Believe God for the great answers to prayer.

Action: Before criticizing your spouse, take an inventory of your own sins and shortcomings so that you can approach each other with understanding and humility. And likewise, if you listen to constructive criticism, you will be at home with the wise. Take time to pray before you speak.

Prayer: Lord, I will ask, seek and knock. I ask for Your help to be constructive with love if You are calling me to act for your glory. I seek Your wisdom when I speak so I may choose Your words, and I knock on your door to show me what is rightfully Your will. Show me Father if my motives are pure before I speak. Amen

A Parents Job

Scripture: “You must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commandments I am giving you. Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home, and when you are away on a journey, when you are lying down, and when you are getting up again.” Deuteronomy 6:6-7

Thought: I took my job seriously as a mom and I taught basic spiritual principles to my children. I wanted them to learn that their actions revealed their value system and God’s commandments. What they do will show what they really believe. “A good person produces good deeds from a good heart, and an evil person produces evil deeds from an evil heart. Whatever is in your heart determines what you say.” Luke 6:45. It was my job to parent my children in the way God commanded me to when he entrusted His children to be mine to raise. A couple of stories that my adult children recently shared with me as a memory that left a legacy in their life was one day we were grocery shopping and my son found $20 on the floor. We really could have used that money and easily walked away without drawing attention. BUT, my children were observing with thoughts of intent questions. After explaining our choices, we did the right thing and took the money to customer service. Shortly after we got home, we received a call from the lady that dropped the money, thanking us for being honest people. That was her grocery money for the week from social security. I felt proud; it’s my job to set an example for my children. “Don’t let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you teach, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, your purity.” 1 Timothy 4:12. Another rule in our house was, no sibling fights and “tattle tails”. When it happened they knew right away that they would both be disciplined; sit next to each other until one was ready to make the first move to apologize, but first they had to wear the “Get Along” t-shirt.

Action: Don’t tell your children, “Do as I say, not as I do”. Instead, teach your children to do what you do. Are you setting a good example for your children and grand-children? It is impossible to give away what you don’t have. Live by spiritual principles and leave a legacy of your life for your children that will honor God. Put God First, it’s about our children. “Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from Him.” Psalm 127:3

Prayer: Lord, it’s not about me, it’s about being obedient to you. Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path. (Ps. 119:105) Please help me to be disciplined as a role model to your children that you’ve entrusted to me. Amen

Encourage with a Smile

Scripture: “When they were discouraged, I smiled at them. My look of approval was precious to them.” Job 29:24 (NLT)

Thought: I like to catch my husband’s attention and then give him a BIG smile for many reasons. This is my way of showing him encouragement, approval, and a love message. Recently, he received “not so happy” news from his doctor; he needed to change his eating habits or else…. He quickly became quite discouraged when he realized how much he had to give up. There were no words of comfort during this time; we both knew what steps needed to be taken. I threw him one of my zzzsmiles that everything was going to be okay and I was in the race with him.

When strength fails and we grow weary and discouraged, we need someone to come alongside us, show understanding, cheer us up, and inspire us to have hope and the strength and commitment to move on. Encouragers bring a beautiful gift and often a spiritual gift when they bring renewal through encouragement.

Action: God created every human to need and seek encouragement. Lori Ferguson from Encourage your Spouse shares that an Encourager Inspires with HOPE, Fortifies with FAITH, Fosters with LOVE, Uplifts with PRAYER, and Supports with ACTION. Marriage is preserved by God’s grace and we need to learn to pass it on. Prayer is the best encouragement tool and actions build encouragement. If you could ask your spouse to encourage you in any area of your life, what would it be?

Prayer: Lord, I ask, for encouragement to seek and believe in YOU for great things. I stand and knock at your door and ask for help to daily encourage my spouse, build him/her up, and stand strong beside him/her in good times and bad. Grant me the courage to act, even if with just “service with a smile”.