Detached Emotions

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I had a long drive yesterday to pick up tile to finish the fellowship hall. Flipping through radio stations, I stopped at the Oprah Channel and listened to a show with Dr. Laura Berman. The topic interested me because she was going to interview 20 something women on issues of sexuality.

It wasn’t long into the show before I was very saddened by what I was hearing. In modern-day sexuality of friends with benefits and one night stands, where does that leave a young women? I heard these young women make comments like, “All my other sexual partners…”, “How do I tell him that I find (fill in the blank) strange?”. It wasn’t that I was thinking they’d had so many partners, it was that I saw the discomfort. On the one hand, they are having sex, the most intimate thing you can do with a man, and they can’t talk about their feelings. One woman said she was able to have multiple partners because she was able to emotionally detach.

Yet, the thing the that blew me away was that sex wasn’t about pleasure for them. In the group only one woman had achieved an orgasm. Dr. Berman said this is typical and meets the studies. Although it wasn’t spoken, it sounded to me that it was more about expectation than it was about anything else.

While there are some who read this site that will think this isn’t a topic for Christian site, I disagree. I don’t think the women in the church do much better in this area, but if we keep quiet it will never get better. Teaching why something is the way it is makes it understandable. If we keep pointing to scripture without explanation it will never get better. I believe we have to explain why.

Sex sells, no doubt about it, from perfume to hamburgers we are inundated with sexual images in the media. When sex becomes casual and not profound then you begin to detach. When you unlock doors prematurely, with images brought on too early, desires awakening before they are understood, pressures from society that tell you sex is no big deal and love that awakens before it so desires, Song 2:7, 3:5, 8:4, through consent or through pain, then you begin to shut off emotionally. This is how we are able to emotionally detach. I don’t think these women were bad, I think these women are asking questions and trying to figure out where they fit in. I don’t think they understand the why of things any better than most.

God put sex in the confines of marriage because it is emotional. Sex is intimate, pleasurable, or should be, sacred and profound. It is not just for having babies, it’s for relationship with your spouse. I know that sounds old-fashioned but the purpose is to save us heartache. God didn’t put sex in marriage to punish us but to protect us. He made woman the last thing he put on earth because she was to be the crown of creation. She was the one who brought peace to man who had discovered there was no mate suitable for him. She was brought on the scene to be the finishing touch, the answer to his longing. Had she been brought on earlier she would have been abused by a man who didn’t understand her purpose, not because men are abusive but because he would not have known better. God brought woman to a man who understood her worth. I can’t imagine not being able to look at my husband in the eye and tell him my desires because we have intimacy and a bond that makes comfort possible.

Sex is a big deal. It’s leaving a part of you with someone else. God isn’t being punitive, he protecting his children from the misunderstandings of a great gift opened too early.

Etiquette Part Deux

If you’re tuning in late, click here for the first part of this blog.

Today I want to talk about dropping by for a visit.

Don’t drop by for a visit without calling first.

Yes, I know that you’re my cousin, but I might be in my pajamas and I’m too old to answer the door like that. I might be reading a book and want some quiet time. I might be studying as I have a limited amount of time to do that. I might be outside in the backyard with the dogs. I’m not doing anything bad, but I may just want some notice before you stop by.

If you’re in the neighborhood, just call. I can throw on a pair of jeans and a t-shirt in a heartbeat. If I’m cooking dinner, I can probably whip something up for you as well without much effort. If I’m taking a nap, I may ask if we can postpone. I promise to always do the same for you and I promise that I will never be offended if you have other plans. The key is respect.

Whatever you do, don’t ring and ring and ring and ring and ring the doorbell thinking you will force the person to answer. It’s just plain rude. If you find that you have to drop by, and let’s say the family is sitting at the dinner table, please excuse yourself and come back later. Don’t hover asking them what they are eating or suggest you will wait in the living room until they are finished. In most families with kids, the dinner hour is when the conversations occur. It’s important to a family to have this time, not all the time but often. If you don’t excuse yourself this will cause them to rush, to hush their family conversations and it’s just impolite. One quick phone call makes it all work for everyone!

When Love Is Not Enough

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This part two in our series for stepmoms. Click here for part 1-Our Measure.

I once heard Dr. Laura Schlessinger say love is about 30% of a marriage. Being a romantic I thought surely it was more than that, but when you look at a marriage realistically, you find that Dr. Laura and the song by Patty Smyth are right, “Baby, sometimes love just ain’t enough”. You would think that in a second marriage we’d be a little wiser with our hearts but that really isn’t the case. The heart falls in love the same way it always does and the head needs to be the voice of reason. There are some good reasons to postpone or walk away from a potential partner even when you love them.

Look for the warning signals and listen to your gut. Are either of you too involved with ex’s? Be real here, where there are children involved, there are going to be conversations, I’m talking about being too involved. Does the ex have keys to the place? Are family dinners still taking place and are holidays still spent together? Having you come into the scene might be a really confusing thing to a child whose parent has moved out but everything else looks like a family to them. That will create a war with you and the child and it will not be pretty. Is the ex couple still at war? There are no wars when it’s not personal anymore.

Do you agree with parenting styles? This will be the number 1 debate in a second marriage. Do you agree with his parenting style? Does he agree with yours? Is he constantly in court fighting over custody? Ask yourself, do you want to be a part of that? Are you financially equipped to handle that? Does the amount of money it costs to raise the children going to be an issue for you? Will there be things one set of kids will be able to afford to do, say summer camps or luxury gifts, that the other set of kids will not be afforded the opportunity to do? How will this affect your household? Be honest!

Now look at the blame game. Is his divorce all his ex’s fault? Has he claimed to have no control over his life whatsoever? Did everything just happen to him without his participation? This is the mind of a victim thinker and you walk into this relationship knowing that fact. Then ask yourself if you have accepted your responsibility in the demise of your marriage as well? Are you playing the victim?

Often when we see someone who we feel is a victim we tend to think we can fix it for them. We think we can make it all better and they will love us forever for making it all go away. We neglect to think about what happens to the relationship, and the changes it will go through, once one or both of you become whole again.

A second marriage is different in that it brings on added stresses and realizations. This isn’t just about the usual questions of money, career and how many children you want to have. No, the issues in second marriages are even greater than that. I believe that most often we ignore all the other issues that go with a second marriage and we neglect that we are bringing with us baggage that just doesn’t exist in a first marriage.

In my honest opinion I don’t think anyone should go into a first marriage with someone who is on their second marriage, if there are children involved. It’s way too complicated and best left alone. The heartache I’ve experienced in these situations just are too much to bear.

What happens if you are reading this but you are already married and living out a nightmare? Can it be repaired? The great news is it can. It will require serious work. You’ll both have to get some therapy and go through a lot of self-examination, letting some dreams go, letting some control go and have a lot of patience and grace, as you wade through this. Are you willing to do the work? Are you willing to do some changing? I’m praying that you are.

What’s For Dinner 2

Oasis making meals for others

In the previous post we ask what you are serving. The disciples begin to pass out the inadequate amount of food to the groups of 50. My perfectionist mind would have been in freak-out mode. Think for a second that it wouldn’t have even fed one group of 50 in the natural realm, but remember as well that it was blessed food. So as they are serving the multitude, the principle of multiplication comes forth and the food stretches to feed everyone, so much so. that the scripture said everyone was satisfied and then the disciples went to pick up the crumbs.

When we put this process in today terms, do you consume everything that is blessed by God or do you take advantage of the multiplicity principle? If we are hoarding the things in our hands then although it’s blessed, it isn’t multiplying is it? If our portion has already been determined then what is the purpose of not serving up a good meal to the millions of people who need what we have in our hands? Why not allow the blessing to flow past us to others? Either we believe our God is one of more than enough or we cling to what we’ve been given.

The other thing I want you to notice is that they went and picked up all of the leftovers. This makes me think that the leftovers were of value as well. So take a look at your life, what do you do with the leftovers? How much money is actually going out that you aren’t even aware of, because to you, they are leftovers and of no value. Ask yourself could someone benefit, even you, from them?

What about your food leftovers? Could you warm them up and take it to the train tracks (for us, that’s where our homeless, drug addicted people gather)? Could you invite a lonely widow to your house to come and share a meal? What about the leftovers in your closet? What outfit would bless someone?

In other words, what is in your hand that you can serve? That was the point Jesus was making in his illustrated sermon. Don’t think your little bit can’t help someone. God has provided what you need, not just for you and your house, but for others as well.

I love, love, love the fact that Jesus said, “You give them something to eat.” I love that he handed the food back, broken and blessed but exactly what was given to him to be served by the ones who had given it him in the first place.

As followers of Christ who profess His name and profess to be sold out to him, I ask what are you serving? Have you consumed all that you’ve been blessed with or have you applied the principle of multiplication to your possessions? Have you had the faith of the impossibility of the moment or have you waffled in fear? It shows me that there is a big difference between success and excess. Just because I have the money for something doesn’t mean I am supposed to spend it there. No, I’m not saying we shouldn’t have nice things, we do, and we can, but what about excess? God provided the food that day for the disciples and there was more than enough but they didn’t throw the leftovers away. They gathered them.

My prayer is that He satisfies you too and that if you aren’t already doing it you will take a step out in faith to serve someone else.

What’s For Dinner?

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Luke 9:12 Late in the afternoon the Twelve came to him and said, “Send the crowd away so they can go to the surrounding villages and countryside and find food and lodging, because we are in a remote place here.” He replied, “You give them something to eat.” They answered, “We have only five loaves of bread and two fish–unless we go and buy food for all this crowd.” (About five thousand men were there.) But he said to his disciples, “Have them sit down in groups of about fifty each.” The disciples did so, and everybody sat down. 16 Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke them. Then he gave them to the disciples to set before the people. 17 They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over.

Church had been going on all day and the people were getting tired and hungry. The disciples went to Jesus and asked him to dismiss service. Only Jesus had an illustrated sermon still planned so he told the disciples, “You give them something to eat.”

So today’s question is what are you serving those people around you? The disciples were freaked out at the proposition. I would be too! Talk about not having enough food. So the disciples let Jesus know that they only have 5 loaves of bread and two fish. Jesus doesn’t seem perturbed by this because with God there is no lack, but the disciples aren’t there yet mentally, and honestly are we? Jesus answers for them to group the people in 50’s. That doesn’t even seem like any sort of answer to the problem at hand.

At this point if I were one of the disciples I would have been expecting Jesus to just multiply the loaves and fishes. I mean he could have. Like an abracadrabra sort of things 5 loaves becomes thousands and 2 fish become many and the people are served. Only Jesus doesn’t do that. He takes the food, looks to heaven, gives thanks and breaks them. Okay, now if you are a disciple you now have 10 half loaves and 4 half fishes. Can you imagine? Then he hands the food back to them!

Jesus believes we can use what we have in our hands.

Two things here have to stick out at you. One, he says, YOU give them something to eat. YOU not ME. YOU! Then Jesus returns to the disciples what seems like exactly what they gave him. Only it wasn’t exactly as they gave it to them, it’s now blessed.

See if we are truly sold out to Christ, then we hand him everything in our lives. If we hand him everything in our lives, he takes it, looks up to heaven, give thanks and breaks it and gives it back to us. What do we do with those things then? How do we serve God with them? His commandment says we love God with all of our heart, mind and soul and we love each other. We serve others.

One of two things could have happened. I mean, let’s face it, the disciples were in church all day too and just as tired and hungry. They could have just said forget it, there’s no way we are going to be able to feed these people, so let’s just eat it ourselves or they could have served the people. One act, is just selfish like the wicked, evil servant in the talents story and the other is about faith in the midst of the impossibility.

Which would you have done?

Love At The RMA Store!

Christopher proposed to Jeannie at the RMA Store! We are so blessed to be a part of these two lives. Two really great people, one really great store and love is the banner over our lives right now! I’m smiling as I write this! I could not be prouder of Jeannie in this moment, I love this girl!

By the way, they asked me to perform the ceremony! Honored and blessed beyond measure!

Our Measure

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This is an article I wrote for Role Models Of America http://www.rolemodelsofamerica.com

You probably don’t even know her name. You’ve probably just heard of her reputation. She is the one by whom we are all measured. We take the story on as fact, never wondering if there was a back-story, and as all tales of evil women go, the man is always missing or is the one being fought over.

Her name was Lady Tremaine. It sounds respectable doesn’t it? It sounds like someone you’d want to meet. Lady Tremaine, the name has an air about it, as if, at some point, it was aristocracy.

Only if it was, when we meet her in the story she has nothing relating to aristocracy besides the fact that she gets an invitation to the ball. By now, if you haven’t figured it out I’m talking about Cinderella’s stepmother. Yes, we all know her as evil and mean and angry. She has a name and like most stories of angst, it seems unimportant.

Only we know that there was progress because the Brother’s Grimm wrote a story about a woodcutter’s wife and she didn’t get a name at all, she is merely known as the evil stepmother. Her stepchildren, Hansel and Gretel were given a loaf of bread and sent out to the witch’s house to be eaten. Now that’s an angry woman!

Unfortunately, those are the characters by which we are measured. Stepmother’s have gotten a bad rap for centuries. Now in 2010, the majority of families in America are stepfamilies and even though we are the majority, there still isn’t a lot of help out there for us stepmoms. Further, there is very little help in the church for us.

I believe that those in the church don’t want to contend with the fact that many marriages are broken and in need of help. We don’t want to acknowledge divorce and death and remarriage, or maybe it’s that the church leaders have never experienced these things and therefore aren’t really sure how to handle it. So most of the advice from the church has been from the perspective of a marriage, but not a second marriage and that, my friends, is a completely different ballgame altogether. Only we must handle it, because there simply is too great a need for some resources and help.

I often wondered why God selected me to become a stepmother and a Pastor’s wife? I believe it was because in this place, not only could I experience the heartache of blending a family, but also write some things down to help others and a platform in which to access the church.

These messages are not popular. We prefer our lives to be of the fairy-tale variety, omitting the ugly part and focusing only on the fact that Cinderella lived happily ever-after. Unfortunately, it doesn’t take much life experience to realize that it’s not always the plan God has for us. Sometimes, he needs to send someone to walk it out so that they can teach it. He does promise to work it out for us in the end, and the great part is that I sit here as living proof that it does work out, but he never promised that it wouldn’t be painful and life changing. (Jeremiah 29:11, Romans 8:28)

So over the course of time, I will unfold these lessons before you and give you strategy to make it work. After all, 75% of second marriages end in divorce before the 5-year mark. The problem is that statistics also show that it takes about 7 years to blend a family or about 1 year for every age of the child. Can you see the dilemma we have? It’s a big one because statistics are saying we are blowing out a marriage just before we get some relief. If we don’t address it, teach on it, and help you stepmoms, then these numbers can’t get better.