Can You Relate?


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Moving our life forward means navigating relationships.

This week someone introduced me to a website with tests and tools for discovering our style of relating in relationships based on our past experiences.

“Your childhood relational experiences are wired into your behaviors and beliefs, creating imprints called “love styles.”

The couple, Milan and Kay Yerkovich, who created the site were frustrated by their inability to relate well during the first fourteen years of their marriage. When they examined their lives, they discovered some interesting insights.

After years of struggling and research, they developed their quiz and passed on the information they learned. I took the test and learned some valuable things about myself.

I believe this is worth exploring.

Check out howwelove.com and take the quiz. I’d love to read about your results in the comments below!

Playing With Fire


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My heart held a weakness for being led astray by entertaining suitors who flirted and made me feel desirable.”   from The Miracle of Us: Confessions of an Online Dater

Can you relate?

When we seek relationships, we want to be careful about motives – other people’s as well as ours.

Whether online or in person, the dating journey reveals the good and messed up places in our hearts and minds. Find out more of the lessons I learned during my journey. You can also read my entire story in my book, The Miracle of Us: Confessions of an Online Dater.

Is This Your Year of Freedom?


We’re continuing our series on becoming free…

I recognize women who have tried to protect themselves by denying the truth of their past sexual abuse, domestic violence or a spouse’s sexual addiction. Denying the lie they are living and the part they play. It’s excruciatingly painful to face the truth head on. To acknowledge the depth of dysfunction, and the stuck place we can’t seem to get out of. But the cost down the road, if we don’t, is so much greater than our current pain. Europe 228

I wish I could tell them.

These women see the consequences of their broken lives in themselves and in their children and are in despair, but they are afraid to look at the truth. How they got there and why they stay. They are lost in a hurting, hopeless world. I know.

I was one of them.

I believe the woman in the Bible, the one at the well, was one too. But when Jesus sought her out and spoke truth to her, she glimpsed a glimmer of hope.

‘Sir,’ the woman said, ‘I can see that you are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.’” (John 4:19-20)

She believed he was a prophet. Maybe he could untangle the mess that was her life.

Was she ready for that?

I wonder if she was trying to change the subject, or if she was trying to prove how “good” she was by telling him what she knew about religion. Often, when the Lord whispers some truth about our lives that we aren’t sure we want to deal with, we focus on a past or future circumstance – well, it was like this… – or another person’s issues instead. Maybe we bring up someone else as a comparison to alleviate our shame, or to evaluate how good we are based on how bad they are.

And how many times do we respond based on what we think God (or someone else) expects?

Or maybe this woman wished she could have a relationship with God, but because someone told her there was only one way and one place, she felt excluded. Besides, the shame she felt was enough to make her exclude herself from any kind of worship. Don’t we often deny ourselves from connecting with God?

How could he want someone like me?

Jesus declared, ‘Believe me, woman…true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.’”

The truth is, Jesus is happy to have us come to him any time, place and way, if our hearts are sincerely directed towards him.

The woman said, ‘I know that Messiah (called Christ) is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.’” (verse 25)

This woman clung to what she knew. Someday Jesus was going to come and explain everything. That was her hope. I can imagine her wistfully looking towards the mountain, picturing how Jesus would make everything in her life right again.

Someday.

Can you imagine her astonishment when Jesus said,

‘I who speak to you am he.’?”

The same shame-filled woman, who had earlier avoided the crowd, now went eagerly to find them. She couldn’t wait DSC_0020 (2)to share how simply being in the presence of Jesus had transformed her life.

And God has the same for us.

When we worship, when we take in his words spoken to us through the Bible, when we engage with Jesus, he transforms our life. No matter what it looks like. No matter what we’ve done or what’s been done to us.

So, what if this is the year we face our life? What if this year we let him transform us?

More Than Words on a Page


I recently marked my third year anniversary of blogging.

Originally I began blogging to build a platform as recommended by agents and publishers in order to help facilitate an audience for the book I had been writing. And yes, I published the book, finished another and have more in progress. But the best part of blogging has been the people I’ve “met.”

Relationships make life worth living.

From the deeply intimate ones I enjoy with Jesus, my husband and children to the casual liked-your-post types, they all add so much to my life. Every week I’m challenged, encouraged, or uplifted by laughter not only because of my dear family and friends, but also through you, my readers and fellow writers.

I thought I’d take a jaunt down my blogging memory lane and provide some of my newer friends with the links of my fondest posts and those readers found helpful.

Mostly, I pray that whatever I write will point people to Jesus.

 Here’s the Top Ten:

 Did You REALLY Meet Online? About Us

A Shout Out

Is Online Dating Gaining Popularity?

The Emptiness of Sexual Encounters

What I’m Learning From My Illness

Miracles Do Happen

What is Intimacy?

Getting Well Series – How Do You Rebuild Your Life?

Online Dating…An Obsession?

IT’S FINALLY HERE!

Hope you enjoy!

Who ARE You?


How many of us really know who we are?

Most of us have been shaped by words spoken to us in anger or impatience or from another person’s broken perspective. Who of us didn’t have some kid or kids at school tell us we were stupid, lame, ugly, fat or unwanted for some reason. I know I did. Repeatedly. Statistics show that most children have also suffered from the criticisms, insults and abusive words flung at by overwhelmed, scared or generally messed up parents (aren’t we all?). Many of us have felt the abandonment or rejection divorce brings. Four out of five have been exposed to some type of sexual abuse.

Is is any wonder we struggle to understand who we are?

God created us with a specific design and plan for our life. (Yes, even you.) He delights in the unique personality that makes us, well – us. He knows every nuance, every tilt of our head, all the abilities we possess and what makes us smile. And he loves it when we exhibit those traits. No wonder Satan, the enemy of God and us, whispers lies, uses the wounds others have pressed on us, and creates circumstances to distort the beautiful creation of God that we each are.

But how do we find out who we are and become ourselves again?becomingmyselfbookcover

In her most recent book, Becoming Myself: Embracing God’s Dream of You, Stasi Eldredge shows us how. Becoming Myself takes us straight to the throne of Jesus where we are loved, delighted in and encouraged. As we read, we are transformed by the renewing of our thoughts about ourselves, our God, our relationships and our world. With intimately honest stories that come from the depths of her heart, Stasi reveals how we can see ours more  clearly. While her primary audience is women, every person needs what God shares through Stasi in this book. It tops my “must read” list of books. It’s not only enjoyable and entertaining, it is a life-changing read.

 

In what ways have you lost yourself? How have you learned who you were truly meant to be?

 

What is Intimacy?


41RBRdyNsuL._SY344_PJlook-inside-v2,TopRight,1,0_SH20_BO1,204,203,200_Closeness. Familiarity. Seeing into the depth of someone. Allowing ourselves to be seen.

Vulnerability.

Who are you intimate with?  A significant other? Your best friend? How intimate are you? Do you willingly share your heart, your secrets, your hopes and dreams? How are you at recognizing the intonations of their voice or mannerisms? Like me, do you find yourself saying “You sure know me, don’t you?”

Now think about God. Jesus. The Holy Spirit.

If you believe in God, how close are you? Or perhaps you’ve only thought of him as a distant deity.  Maybe you’ve never thought much about God other than to use the word as an explicative. So if I told you that he is intimately acquainted with you, what would you think?

My blogging friend, Rivera Douthit, answers all these questions and more in her new book entitled Intimacy : into me You see. Her presentation of the God who knows and loves us reveals a depth of intimacy that may come as a surprise. I loved the way she examined various areas of life and the corresponding ways God makes himself known to us. Rivera’s use of scripture and fabulous storytelling draws the reader in and offers a glimpse into the heart of God.

He’s not going to deny us the ability to recognize Him if we’re sincerely seeking. He knows our hearts and will reveal Himself in ways best suited  for us and our personalities.

That’s good news for folks who wonder how to find God.

Rivera’s book assures us of God’s love and desire for us. It also points us to ways for us to grow in intimacy in our other relationships as well. In addition, she offers thought provoking questions at the end of every chapter which guide us into considering how intimacy with God and others in our lives currently looks, and how it can become more.

I thoroughly enjoyed Rivera’s stories, and her heart for the Lord. Through Intimacy she offers us a peek into both. A very worthwhile read.

Order Here

 

 

What is Forgiveness?


Whether we are trapped in addiction or in a relationship with someone who is, God can shed light on the places of darkness and has a DSC_0035plan to rescue us from disaster. It is His delight to do so.

His rescue comes through forgiveness.

Jesus offers it to us. He asks us to extend it to others. But, we have to be willing to give up what we hold onto: our sin and/or the sin of others against us.

Without forgiveness, there can never be restoration for us.

God wants to bestow on us every good thing He can imagine for us. That comes with forgiveness—His forgiveness for us, and ours for others and ourselves.

God’s forgiveness is immediate, but ours can be a process.

Jesus died on the cross to forgive every sin we could ever commit. Because He has already forgiven us, He simply waits for us to acknowledge where we’re off and accept His offer. That forgiveness is immediate, but when it comes to us forgiving others and ourselves, it can take time to work through.

Thank goodness, God is patient and leads us.

First, God makes us aware of what needs forgiving. When Jesus reveals our waywardness, we should feel sorrow (not shame) for what we’ve done to hurt ourselves and others. When we hurt, God is also grieved. The Bible says that

Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.”

2 Corinthians 7:10

This means when we are willing to look at what we have done that is different from what God intended for our good, we’ll be brokenhearted. The full weight of our actions will be a revelation to us in a way that makes us grieve for the pain we’ve caused ourselves, others and God. Our heart fills with a sincere willingness to accept any consequences. We experience gratitude for the forgiveness offered.

That is godly sorrow leading to repentance.

That kind of sorrow brings us to our knees in front of our Lord, who then reaches down and lifts us up in love, saving us from what has trapped us. We are then able to move on in life with no more regret, knowing that Jesus has seen, forgiven and restored us. Then He’s able to lead us into the good things He originally planned for us.

Worldly sorrow, on the other hand, is when we promise to be good to avoid trouble—sorry we’re caught, but more concerned about not getting caught in the future or dodging consequences. That kind of “sorrow” only leads to more destruction and shame, never to a place of freedom.

God is thorough. Forgiveness is specific, not general.

God points out details of situations in order to free us entirely of sin. It is the same if we ask for and accept forgiveness, or when we forgive someone else. Forgiveness doesn’t come with a careless blanket statement of “whatever I’ve ever done.” We must be willing to honestly and specifically admit what we have done.

When God showed me what I did to become stuck in unhealthy relationships, as well as what others had done to me, each denied, ignored, hidden, minimized, or never dealt with incident needed forgiveness. As long as there was denial, minimizing or excuses, I not DSC_0047able to receive or grant the forgiveness that would restore me. But I knew if I asked God to show me the truth about myself and my past, He would free me from the pain that enslaved me.

There were many such situations, and it took a few years to process them, ask for forgiveness and forgive those who had hurt me. It was worth the struggle.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll share more of what that process looked like for me.

What have you experienced regarding forgiveness?

Ready for an Enjoyable Read?


Newest Release

Author, Sherry Kyle, has written a delightful novel that weaves a thread of forgiveness and redemption throughout the lives of four very real and loveable characters.

“When the alcoholic father of Jessica MacAllister’s son reappers in their lives, Jessica and her son go to her Uncle George for advice and refuge.

Following a year of grief, Evelyn Sweeney is finally ready to move on. Pondering her new path in life, her mind drifts to her first love, George MacAllister.

When the lives of these two women cross, they discover that one heart-shaped ring binds their stories together. But will the results be a rekindled faith and new hope, or will it lead them both back into the darkness they’ve fought for so long?”

The Heart Stone was hard to put down.

The romantic possibility and tension as well as intriguing suspense kept me engaged and guessing. Jacob, the 6 year old son, had me smiling and even brought an outright laugh. By the end, I felt as if these characters were my friends who had overcome obstacles and grown emotionally and spiritually. I wished the book didn’t have to end.

Sherry Kyle’s gift as a connector of people shines in her novels which rekindle and reconcile relationships. I believe Sherry’s ability as a writer grows with each new release. I can’t wait for the next one.

Well done, Sherry.

The Heart Stone, Published by Abingdon Press released on April 1, 2013 and is available from these retailers:

Cokesbury

Christian Book Distributors

Barnes and Noble

Amazon

What are books you’ve enjoyed reading lately?

Do I Take Responsibility for Others?


Last week we talked about our compulsion to step in and take responsibility for others. We do this out of an unhealthy feeling that something bad will happen if we don’t. Most likely, we developed this sense from living in unsafe situations, especially as children. As we identify these patterns, God can free us from those places where we feel stuck.

What happens to others when I take over?158

We may not realize the severity of the patterns we’re choosing; we may feel sorry for another person; we may feel an unrealistic burden of guilt or we may be afraid that their actions will hurt us. Whatever the reason, even if they all apply, the outcome is not good for either us or them.

When people are relieved of consequences, their hearts grow hard, and they feel entitled.

God uses consequences to help us. No one likes to deal with tough consequences, but the reality is that laws exist. A cause has an effect. We don’t ignore natural laws, like gravity. No one would consider jumping off a ten story building without expecting to die. The law of gravity makes us fully aware of the result of that choice and keeps us from making it! In the same way, God’s laws help turn us around so we can know good instead of harm.

Why then do people expect there to be no consequences for choices they make?

Shunning responsibility, many count it the teacher’s fault for a bad grade; the police officer’s fault for a speeding ticket; the bartender’s fault for a drunken car crash; or the spouse’s fault for their partner’s affair. As long as people avoid responsibility, and we alleviate the consequences of their actions, we get in the way of the good God wants to bring to them.

We are indeed amateurs, coming in and actually preventing God’s will and saying ‘This person should not have to experience this difficulty’    Oswald Chambers

Perhaps we’ve learned from living in an abusive situation to minimize adverse conditions.

Maybe we believe (erroneously as I did) that if we are truly being loving toward someone, we should ignore their hurtful behavior.

If you are the kid we talked about last week, who’s been hurt by a parent’s actions you probably dismissed their actions because your innocent heart could not make sense of someone you loved and depended on hurting you. The very contradiction of that reality and what a child knows in their heart is too much to comprehend. But, those patterns follow us into adulthood whether we realize it or not.

That same child who transfers guilt to themselves rather than those parents may grow up subconsciously believing that everything is their fault and shoulder the responsibility.

It seems ridiculous that we could live with the belief that another shouldn’t be allowed to endure pain or hardship of any kind, but without realizing it, because of deeply ingrained misconceptions, we attempt to fix situations, bear the weight of their consequences and feel guilty if they suffer.

Unfortunately, when we live this way, we can allow people to become dependent on us instead of God. Their reliance on us as a buffer can keep them from turning to God for direction or in trouble. In addition, they may avoid making choices or think they are immune to consequences for bad choices. Fear of their consequences landing on us will keep us running to bail them out which in turn denies them from experiencing the loving discipline of the Lord.

In the end, we benefit ourselves and others if we can learn to confront them, gently speaking the truth in love whenever we feel that little nudge from the Lord telling us that something is not right. Determining what is our responsibility as God leads us and leaving others to live experiencing a greater depth of life will make us refreshed and free just as God intends.

Have you found yourself trying to fix or feeling responsible for others?

Getting Well Part 4 – Can You Ask for Help?


We were never intended to figure out life on our own.IMG_3524

I had been one to isolate myself, but this wasn’t God’s plan. When Jesus asks us if we want to get well and offers to instruct us in the ways to healing, he doesn’t say,

Great! Good for you. Have fun figuring that out.

His intention is for other people to be part of our life. Relationships help us in and through our struggles. He wants us to seek people who truly want our best and are willing to tell us the truth even when it may feel painful to us. Only those who are willing to walk alongside us without their own interests, judgments and conclusions will benefit us in healing. Jesus is patient, kind and merciful so we will find the most help through those who treat us like he does.

I had a terrible time asking people for help.

When I was young, a prevailing sentiment in our home was that no one needed to know what went on there. Granted, no one wants to announce to the entire world the intimate workings of their home life. But when secrets are kept due to their inappropriate nature, we may learn to gloss over the truth or simply keep quiet. To tell someone about what happens in our home may feel betraying to us. For me, some things were too shameful to talk about. Other situations were not taken seriously by those whose protection I needed. As a result, later in life, it felt wrong or ineffective for me to ask for help. Even from someone I knew I could trust.

Wasn’t I burdening someone if I asked for their help?

I assumed that people would be too busy to have me bother them. But that wasn’t true. Naturally there is a boundary for inconsiderately calling someone anytime about everything, but choosing to take help that is offered shows wisdom and humility. I had to learn the difference and be willing to seek advice from those who offered to give it.

There are great benefits from getting help!

Trusted friends were able to:

  • Pray on my behalf—especially when I was too overwhelmed or weary.
  • Keep me accountable in the areas I wanted to change.
  • Share their stories of healing that encouraged me.
  • Give me different perspectives so I could think in better ways.
  • Cry with me when I was suffering.
  • Remind me of God’s greatness and ability to do what seemed impossible to me.
  • Celebrate with me when God did great things and led me in new freedom.

Some people may think they have all the answers for us.

They base their advice on what they expect or want for themselves rather than what is best for us. When we’re used to unhealthy relationships, it may be difficult to discern those situations. But someone who truly loves us will put us first; ask how they can serve us; offer suggestions while allowing us the freedom to accept it only if it fits for us; support us in every choice whether they feel it’s good or bad; listen much and talk less; and tell us the truth about who we are not who they want us to be for them.

Learning to get the right help will enable us to get well sooner. Having genuine support makes the journey more bearable. I’m so thankful to those who gave of their lives to make mine a better one.

What about you? Is there someone who truly helps you? Are you still learning to ask for help? Can I help you?
While nothing can replace spending time with an actual person, I still have found these resources to be a great source of help in my journey of healing:

The Bondage Breaker by Neil Anderson

When the Woman You Love Was Abused by Dawn Scott Jones

Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers (fiction)

The Bible – nothing is as powerful as God’s word 🙂