Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Creating Security in Your Marriage

I've been reading some books about marriage recently, specifically some Gary Smalley books, and the main concept of these books on marriage is the idea of "security" within a marriage.

"The foundational component of an excellent marriage is a truly secure environment-one that is secure physically, intellectually, spiritually and emotionally."

He states in his books that this is the key components to a happy fulfilling marriage.
The concept is that a deep, emotionally-based, intimate, best friend type of relationship can only happen when you feel safe and secure in the presence of the other person.

Many times in marriage we try so hard to create intimacy through, learning each others love language, emotional needs, being romantic, date nights, even attending church and conferences but still none of these methods will work if you do not have the foundation of safety and security in your marriage.

I do have the opportunity to work with couples in couples and marriage counseling often and I have found this to be true. All these methods are great at enhancing your marriage relationship but if you do not feel emotionally safe with that other person these methods will fail to bring true emotional intimacy into your marriage.

So what is “security” in a relationship? I define this as the level of comfort both people feel with each other. These are some aspects in which to assess the safe place in a relationship. They are:
  • respect
  • feeling heard
  • understanding
  • validation
  • empathy
  • love
  • commitment
In your marriage do you feel safe enough to open up and share who you really are, your deepest thoughts, hopes, and dreams without feeling you will be criticized, blamed, condemned, or judged? Do you feel you have to hide and protect your innermost self because your mate will not give you the safety of being open? Do you feel completely secure in your spouses love?

Well, because this is " A Seed of Hope" Blog we are going to take a few weeks to look at what it takes to build security into your marriage and create 'HOPE" that your marriage can achieve a greater level of "security" even if it's all up to you.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Butterfly Garden

The Butterfly Garden
Continuing to post about Spring things at our home, last post was about the play set we put up for the grand kids and today will be about my "Butterfly Garden"

Now, if you have followed my past posts for any length of time you know I AM NOT a gardener. In fact, I don't enjoy digging in the mud and getting my hands and feet all dirty and I hate the heat. I am surrounded in life by friends and family who LOVE gardening and planting stuff, I am constantly amazed at how they talk about how relaxing it is, peaceful and something they can do all day. I just don't get it, but then most of them don't get how I can spend hours on my computer either so..... :-)

So you may ask, why do you have any kind of garden? Well, I have found I do like to have very simple type gardens that take very little effort and have some sort of quick reward. I have discovered two of those kinds of gardens.

One, is an herb garden - a couple years ago my friend Cindy (also known as meems) at Hoe and Shovel went to Home Depot to help me create an herb garden and it is still growing and producing wonderful herbs to this day. This is truly a miracle. Link to that post

So, my sweet daughter Debbie, was doing some volunteer work at her daughters school and it entailed creating a butterfly garden. So she enjoyed it so much she decided to created on in her yard. She went to the store and bought milkweed plants and they had Monark Butterfly caterpillars on them and cocoons. The next day one of the cocoons opened up for a beautiful butterfly to emerge.

Well, I love butterflies and all they represent (change, transformation and freedom) so of course I was inspired to start my own butterfly garden. So here are a few pictures of it and my wonderful daughter also bought me a couple milkweeds with caterpillars on them. I have already lost a couple caterpillars to the birds but I have 3 more that I hope will make it.
The Baby Butterfly - Isn't it cute!!

The sibling

what used to be a failed veggie garden now is full of butterfly friendly plants
So to all my gardener friends and family I do now understand just a "little" bit of why you are so enthralled with gardening but I really like the end result much more than the process! :-)

Friday, March 25, 2011

Spring Things!

We have just completed some pretty deep and heavy posts so today being the Sanquine I am.... I must take a break from serious stuff and talk about some FUN stuff! I am going to start a series on marriage relationships after this but for now.......

Spring is here! And although my favorite of all seasons in fall - I am also very fond of spring. The weather is still cool and everyone and everything starts getting out and being active again after hibernating for the winter. It's not so much like that here in Florida but this was a pretty cold winter even for us, so I think there was some of that even here.

So as spring starts at our house we had two projects that we wanted to complete. One was to build a playset for the grandkids and the other was to start a butterfly garden.

I will start with the playset. We found one for a great price at Walmart - it had to have a glider as that is Anna's favorite thing to play on. :-) We went down to pick it up and it was in two boxes. I asked my hubby how they fit everything in those boxes and he replied, "In many small pieces that I have to put together." : -) Fortunately my sweet and wonderful Son-in-law, Abel, volunteered his Saturday to help put it together. The two of them worked all day on it but the end result was lots fun and laughter for the grands and that is always the goal we have in mind!!

Here are a few pics of the workers, the playset and the kid's having fun!
Abel hard at work and a bit tired I think. :)
Finally getting to the bottom of the box!!
Kaitlyn and Anna finally on the glider!!
Even the big kids wanted to play
Matthew came to join us
A seat for everyone!
Many years of fun to come!!!
Next post I will tell you about the "Butterfly Garden" then back to the serious stuff!!

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Maintanance Program

So we have come to the place of completing our detox. We have:
  • Detoxed our Thoughts
  • Detoxed our Words
  • Detoxed our Emotions
Just as with recovering from substance abuse, the process of recovering from toxic thinking, toxic emotions and words is sometimes easier than "staying" in recovery. We have to replace of all those things we got rid of. So today we will look at what do we need to do to maintain our new healthy, positive way of living.

Whether you "feel" like it or not, in order to maintain your new healthy way of thinking you must consciously begin to think in a different way. Here are some areas to work on:
  • Think of all the blessings in your life
  • Being grateful all the time..constantly noticing and thinking about the things you are thankful for
  • Focusing on all the things in your life that bring you joy and happiness
  • Focusing on happy memories and anticipating happy events that are coming
  • Not allowing fear to enter into your thinking
  • Make a commitment to walk in love (1 Corinthians 13)
How do you do this? Practice, practice and practice.

Some other areas to work on in recovery:
1. Your relationship with God - growing in the time spent with Him, in His Word and in worship and prayer. Listening to uplifting teaching tapes and music.
2. Have Fun: laughing and having a sense of humor even about the hard things in life
3. Exercise: most of us know that exercise will release endorphins into your system which make you feel happy and calm. The most important thing with exercise is finding something you really enjoy
4. Diet: Think about why and what you are eating. Much of our eating is for comfort so think about whether you are really hungry or just needed something to make you feel better. Drink lots of water!
5. Learn to balance your work and rest times. Fatigue leads to negativity and depression. We must take time to take care of ourselves.

This Detox and Maintenance program is an ongoing process. Sometimes we have to go back to the beginning and start again if we begin to slip. About every 6 months you need to take a pause from life and evaluate how your thought life is, how your emotions are doing. Have you slipped back into old habits? Are your emotions becoming toxic again? Are you harboring any unforgiveness? Are you keeping up with your maintenance program? This is a battle but it is a battle that we are not alone in. God is there every step of the way but we do have to do our part. When you make the decision and commitment to be a healthier person you will find your life is a wonderful adventure and you will be a role model for all those around you!

Make a commitment to walk in love, that is, the intentional choice to love others not matter what. And remember the biblical teaching that love is patient and kind, not jealous, proud, boastful or rude; it is not selfish, does not keep a track of wrongs, is quick to believe the best, wants justice and never fails!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Detoxing our Emotions - I Choose to Forgive __________________

As we review what forgiveness is and is not and as we ponder what forgiveness will look like as far as feelings are concerned we then can process to the next step.  To choose to forgive.  Remember we talked about forgiveness is a choice.  So when we are ready to finally let go of that person or persons who have keep us bound to unforgiveness and bitterness and all the spiritual, emotional and physical hurt that brings us...... this is a method that is very successful.

  1. On a sheet of paper, list the names of people past and present that come to your mind as those you may need to forgive.  Even if they come to mind and your not sure write them down.  
  2. Sometimes we hold things against ourselves as well, write "myself" on your list if that is the case. (forgiving yourself is accepting the truth that God has already forgiven you)
  3. You can also write, thoughts against God" at the bottom of the list. Obviously, God has never done anything wrong so we don't have to forgive him - this is more about us releasing our feelings of hurt and resentment toward God if that is an issue, which it is for many people.  Those feelings of anger or resentment toward God can become a wall between us and Him, so this is a way to let them go. 
  4. Go over the post again about "What forgiveness is and is not."
The next step is to circle those of your list that have created the most hurt, pain or bitterness in your heart.  With the ones you have circled you may consider writing a letter (NOT TO BE GIVEN OR SENT) to those people - in this letter you should pour out all the hurt, pain and anger toward them.  This exercise "empties" out your spirit and soul of all the "stuff" that you have been carrying around for sometimes years.

**The rest of this process is best done with another trusted friend in your life.  There is something about sharing with another person that is very healing to our spirit and soul.  But you can do this on your own also. 

Read the letters "out loud."   Then you can sent them aside and take your original list and pray this prayer over each name:

Lord, I choose to forgive (say name of person)_____________for_________________(what they did or did not do, which made me feel____________________________(list the painful feelings).

After you have gone through this prayer naming each person on your list you can conclude with this prayer saying it aloud:

I choose today not to hold on to any resentment or bitterness for those I have named.  I thank you for setting me free from the bondage of my bitterness.  I let go of my right to seek revenge and ask You to heal my damaged emotions.  I now ask You to bless those who have hurt me.  In Jesus name.

After praying these prayers you can then take the letters you wrote and burn or shred them.  As they shred or burn imagine the pain and hurt being gone just as the words on the paper are gone.

The last step of this process is to write down the date you chose to  forgive.  Now anytime those feelings, or thoughts begin to surface you remind yourself that on 00/00/00 I chose to forgive this person and I will not pick up that offense again,  you can also pray and tell God that you chose to forgive_________ on 00/00/00 so you need Him to take away the thoughts and the feelings. 

This gives you a time and a place that you made the choice to forgive and you can always refer back to it when the feelings and thoughts try to come back and they will!.... for awhile... but stay strong and just like the bell over time they will become less and less until one day you realize they are gone.

Any time you find you have picked up an offense or allowed unforgiveness back into your heart repeat this process. 

Next post: Tuning in to the feelings of appreciation, love, care and compassion.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Detoxing our Emotions - The PROCESS of forgiveness.

As stated in my last post one of the most Toxic emotions we can have is unforgiveness - We have discussed what forgiveness is and is not. Today I want to give one of the best illustrations I have ever seen of forgiveness and what it looks like long term. My next post will actually walk through the process of forgiving someone and keeping that forgiveness even when feelings and new hurts appear.

But today I want to give you an illustration that I use with all my clients. It is one of the best visuals I have found and it is someone who truly had a reason not to forgive.

The true and healing kind of forgiveness is a rare gift we give others and ourselves. it is a giving up of our rights, our defenses and our hurts. It is a promise to ourselves and to others not to bring up the offense again to them, to others about them, or even to our own thoughts. True forgiveness is a true letting go of the past.

Many of my clients say to me, "I have forgiven, but the pain is still there and the resentments come back. Didn't you say that forgiveness is a choice."

Well, here is an story of why after you have chosen to forgive, those feelings still rise up from time to time:

Corrie Ten Boom was a prisoner of war in a German concentration camp during WWII. She suffered horrible trauma and saw her father and sister painfully abused. Walking down a city street in postwar Germany, she encountered the familiar face of a German guard from her concentration camp on the other side of the street. Her heart sped up and anger rose inside of her. As she walked down the street away from him the emotion began to subside. She wondered why she was still angry. Had she not forgiven? She had prayed to forgive, she had made a choice to forgive.

She went immediately to her pastor and shared her experience with him. He asked her to come to the church bell tower with him. As they stood by the bell her pastor told her to grab the bell rope and pull. The bells rang a loud ding-dong, ding-dong, ding-dong. He then told her to let go of the rope. The bells continued to ring until they slowed into silence.

Corrie's pastor explained that her decision to forgive was a releasing of the bell rope of resentment that she had pulled on for so long. The sound of the bells continuing to ring even after letting go of the rope are the feelings she still will have even after she has chosen to forgive.As she moves along in the forgiveness "process" there would still be a few feelings (ding-dongs) that will come into her emotions even after the decision to forgive was made.

This is the way it will work for most of us who have been deeply hurt and wounded by others. We need to fully face the wrongdoing against us, to make a decision to forgive and continue to hold fast to the decision until the day the residual ringing stops.

Next Post: This day I choose to forgive___________________.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Detoxing our Emotions - What Forgiveness is and is not!

 Before we move on to "How do I really forgive someone and make it stick"  we need to talk about what forgiveness is and is not.  We have to understand this so we can forgive and STAY in the place of forgiveness.  Many times the hardest part is not deciding to forgive someone, but the act of continuing to forgive when they continue to hurt us or the feelings and reminders of past hurts continue to affect our lives.  You will be more successful if you have a good understanding of these points. 

So... Forgiveness is NOT:

  • Forgetting - but it is healing from the hurt. Healing can not come until you forgive
  • Minimizing the hurt - It did hurt, it was and sometimes still is painful. 
  • Watering down the offense - forgiveness calls the violation what it is. 
  • For the benefit of the person who forgives; it brings healing and wholeness
  • Does not always mean reconciliation
  • IS NOT A FEELING - If you wait until you "feel" like forgiving you will probably never do it. Forgiveness is a choice and the "feelings' will still be there even after you "choose" to forgive, but if you continue to choose to forgive the feelings will begin to lessen over time.
Forgiveness IS:
  • A Choice - a Decision of your will - You can't turn back the clock and change the past but you can be free from it - but it's your decision.  As long as you harbor anger and unforgiveness toward someone you are allowing the person to still hurt you and control you.  The only way to be free from the pain is to forgive them. 
  • Agreeing to live with the consequences of anothers sin or behaviorr - The fact of the matter is you are going to live with those consequences whether you like it or not, so the only choice is whether you will do so in the bondage of bitterness or the freedom of forgiveness.
  • Is choosing not to hold someones sin or behavior against them anymore - It is common for people filled with unforgiveness to bring up past issues with those who have hurt them.  When you have truly forgiven someone you let go of the past and focus on the present and future.
The Story of Joseph is a wonderful story of forgiveness.  He had every reason to hate and be bitter and unforgiving.  He even had an opportunity to “pay back” and chose not to.  Read Genesis to learn more about Joseph.  Realize that Joseph was only 17 when all this happened. Joseph went through betrayal, hurt, lies and many other unjust circumstances that were not of his own doing for the next 17 years, yet his statement after it all came to light and he was restored to a place of honor was:

 You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people.
Genesis 50:20 (New Living Translation)

What perspective did Joseph display that enabled him to more easily forgive?  Think about why this perspective is so important.

True forgiveness is seldom easy.  It can be quite costly but it’s a powerful weapon for tearing down strongholds in our lives and hearts. The enemy will use unforgiveness and anger to keep us in bondage.  When we surrender our unforgiveness and anger we set our own heart free so God can take us place we never dreamed possible.
Colossians 3:12-15  12 Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves; you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. 13 Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. 14 Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.

Next Post:  The process of forgiving

Friday, March 4, 2011

Detoxing our Emotions - Letting go of Unforgiveness

As we stated in our last post it is so important to release our negative emotions in a healthy way and we discussed many different ways to do that.  But many of the people I work with will tell me "I'm doing all that but the feelings and emotions toward some people are so strong I need some other outlet." 

When I see that much toxic, negative emotion and feeling coming out about a particular person, it is usually a good possibility that there is a some unforgiveness or bitterness involved. 

How do we know that we have not forgiven someone?  How do we know that bitterness is creeping into our spirit and soul?  We all have momentary moment of hurt or anger toward another person.  We all have situational feelings toward a particular person.  But when you find you are either thinking or speaking about past issues and bringing up past hurts or pain that a particular person brought into your life, you are probably holding some unforgiveness toward that person. 

This is so important because that kind of emotion or feeling will not go away with simply journaling or talking it out.  That type of emotion has taken root.   Sometimes for years.  So the process to get it out of your system and completely detox from that emotion is more intensive. 

Dr. Don Colbert says, "Forgiveness is like taking an emotional shower; it cleanses and frees the entrapped soul" 

God says, "Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you"  Ephesians 4:31-32 (New Living Translation)

Scientific research proves that love is good for your health.  There was a study done by the University of Wisconsin and they found that " Those who develop an ability to forgive, have greater control over their emotions and are significantly less angry, upset and hurt, and much healthier emotionally and physically.

Next post:  What Forgiveness is and is not