The REAL life of Mr and Mrs ‘Right’

Don’t we all dream of meeting that perfect prince charming who respects and understands us, and sends us flowers every other week? Hmmm… of course. But what do we do when we’re married to him, and start to realise he does the darndest things sometimes? Much as you love him, sometimes you have to wonder WHY is Mr. Right doing that WRONG thing – again? And to be honest he’s probably thinking the exact same thing about you too – I know my husband is at least!

For example, there’s a special look of horror I reserve for times when my husband uses my dish washing sponge to deal with a smear of *something* on his shoe… or when he tells me the potatoes he cooked, recently on my plate and now in my stomach, were partly rotten BUT not to worry, they were PROBABLY still edible. It looks something like the expression in the photo above.

Another time I’m tempted to wear that look is when we have the Anita VS Computer duel. No matter whether I’m holding out chocolate and biscuits as bait, or if I’ve put on a cocktail dress and turned the Mr and Mrs Rightlights down low, emails seem to have a mysterious pull on my man. Don’t get me wrong, I usually win in the end – but often only after a fight involving pink nails flashing in front of a stubbly face (ahem thanks for that snapshot of our marriage last week my darling!)

Like all good things in life, relationships take time and work to become truly great. Over the four years that we have been together, two things have helped us navigate the different atmospheres of Mars and Venus, and fall more in love despite our differences.

#1. learn to have a good fight: Bottling things up is a recipe for disaster. The longer things fester, the more permanent the damage, so keep a short tab with your spouse. In other words, talk over the problem rather than letting your anger brew. The Bible is right that if you don’t resolve your fight TODAY, you give the devil a foothold in your marriage – then what could have been a good fight becomes a bad war.

Having a good fight also means listening to the other person, not just hearing them speak. Listening means laying aside your agenda long enough to put yourself in their shoes, and being willing to change the way you have always done things, so that your home is big enough to fit two personalities in under one Neets Chris Mr right_IGroof. And practice saying sorry – that little word can save your marriage.

#2. Spend time together: According to a recent Relevant article, regular date nights reduce divorce rates. It’s not rocket science really – one or two nights a week to have fun and relax with your special someone keeps that fickle flame of love burning. But all too often, we let ‘urgent’ things get in the way, when really, marriage is more important. Urgent things will always remain, but sadly not all marriages. So stay spontaneous – put little notes in your man’s jacket pocket, take a dance class, and go to the movies even if the bank account complains. Your marriage is worth the time and money – it’s your most important investment after a relationship with God. After all, isn’t it worth fighting for a truly great marriage?

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How to find a dream girl…

IMG_20131031_164801 Guest post by Chris Goldswain

Hey dudes, listen up. So you’re single and wanting to find that special lady you’re going to be with for the rest of your life? Yes I know, guys – even hardcore “boy’s club” jocks – are looking for real love. Well, some of them at least. If that’s you, I’ve got some tips on how to find that special lady friend …

#1: Be realistic. She’s not going to be a “dream girl”. Perfect skin, perfect you-know-what-else, always agrees with you and likes everything you like? Not gonna happen. Your dream girl is most likely going to love a bunch of stuff you don’t even understand and have emotions you will never wrap your head around. She probably won’t look like Scarlett Johansson, she’ll have bad hair days, bad skin days … and yes, she will even fart every once in a while. So come down from cloud Hollywood and open your eyes.

There are amazing women all around you every day, and I’m talking about the human ones, not the ones on the posters. All women are beautiful. I know it sounds cliché, but just trust me on this. We’ve gotten caught up in such a narrow view of beauty (excuse the pun), that we miss out on the beauty that’s right in front of us, in all its unique and wonderful forms. So guys, please, start living in the real world, because it’s actually got some pretty awesome ladies in it.

#2: It’s the heart that counts. Ok, enough with the clichés already! But I’m serious. Real love is about two souls (not just two bodies) coming together. On some days, it’s truly awesome, but on other days it’s a little less so. And again, this is where guys get too fussy. Souls don’t always connect like Lego blocks. Or iPod docks. Sometimes it’s more like … your face connecting with some sharp pink fingernails. On your bad days, you’re going to fight, argue, and maybe even wrestle. And you might get bored with each other from time to time. But hey, that’s real life. Swings and roundabouts.

To really love someone, you’re going to have to win her heart, and her trust. Again and again. It’s going to take work, and you’ll both get hurt, lots of times. But I can tell you this: It will be one of the most rewarding things you do with your life. Hands down.

Which brings me to my final word of advice …

#3: Show some commitment bro. Too many guys are afraid. Afraid of rejection, afraid of commitment. To be fair, many of our dads didn’t do the greatest job with us, and many of their marriages don’t exactly fill us with confidence for finding true happiness. But we’ve got to deal with that, and not just sit passively by while our wounds ruin our chances at finding real love. I would encourage you to begin a process of inner healing. Find out the real reasons behind your fears. And allow the love of God the Father to make you strong on the inside. If you’ll go to those deep places with God, He’ll turn you into a man who can overcome his fears and properly commit to a lady.

And guys, trust me, that’s the kind of man that every woman is looking for.

All the single ladies put your hands up…

Chris2_IGGuest post by Chris Goldswain

All the single ladies (put your hands up), haven’t you always wanted to know what’s going on in a man’s head? Or better yet, in that man’s head? You know who I’m talking about. That certain someone all your girlfriends already know about, the guy you linger around after church or subtly slip into place next to in the group photo. If you’ve been wondering how you can get him to like you, and I know you have, then today’s your lucky day, because I’d like to give you some pearls of wisdom from “the other team”.

The biggest tip I can share is this: BE SECURE. Be confident in who you are, and know your own worth. You’re a daughter of God, so don’t sell yourself short, and whatever you do, don’t throw yourself on him like some cheap suit from the 90’s.

The truth about good guys is, they like insecure girls about as much as they like visiting a nail salon. They run a mile from both. Now, guys who are dogs are a different story. That kind of guy loves insecure girls, because insecure girls put out. So he’s happy to exploit that insecurity to take as much as he wants from her before moving on to his next object of prey.

But a good guy, someone who’s actually interested in a meaningful relationship, he wants to engage with a confident, self-assured person who doesn’t need him to validate her existence. So if you want to win over a good guy, don’t behave like a doormat around him. If you’re having a disagreement, stick to your guns and risk his disapproval. At a party, talk to other people in the room. Show him that he doesn’t define you, but God does. A good guy won’t like it if you hang on his every word like a love-sick poodle. And you probably wouldn’t either if the shoe were on the other foot.

Chris1_IGThe second pearl of wisdom is, if a guy is saying one thing but doing another, listen to his words and not his actions. If you just had that chat where he told you he sees you as no more than a friend, but afterwards you start picking up “signals “ from him, the truth is he probably has no idea that he’s sending you any kind of signals at all. I know – men are from Mars, so things can get confusing. But in all likelihood he’s just trying to be friendly after having had a difficult conversation with you.

Now I know some guys take this too far and think that having the just-friends-chat means they can safely flirt with you afterwards without backing it up with any real intentions. Ladies, I’m working on those guys. But in the meantime, if he’s flirting with you and not saying anything, take your cue from his silence. In other words, watch his mouth, not his eyebrows.

So ladies, if you can get these two things right then he won’t define you and you won’t be over-analysing every word he says. Which means, your heart is going to be in a safe place. No paranoia, no jealousy, and ultimately, the freedom to be yourself. Now isn’t that what every girl wants? 

3F’s: Friends, Faith and Fruit

3Fs DshipWhat do you think are the most important lessons to teach our daughters, sisters, and other important women in our lives? My friend Vierle from Belgium sent me an awesome link to Every Nation leader Steve Murrell’s 6 W’s of discipling Men – the 6 most important values to invest in guys on their journey of getting to know Jesus. Vierle’s challenge was to post a sticky Note on the 6 W’s of discipling women! Well I don’t have 6 W’s but I did come up with 3 F’s. (Personally I struggle to remember more than 3 points, and W’s just weren’t working for women, but F proved full of potential!). So presenting the 3 F’s of discipling women:

#1. Friendship: God is ALL about relationship – and this is the most important thing for us ladies to know about him. Without a strong friendship with Jesus, the things we do can become tiring and even meaningless! God wants us to experience his love daily and then express it to others (1 Cor 13). To do so we need to stay connected to the the person of Love – Jesus – by praying and reading his Word regularly. That will keep our friendship with him burning, and then help us build strong friendships with people that are full of life, love and truth. Every woman needs a friendship with God and with sisters who can encourage her, help her stay humble, and keep her laughing! This also means that we need to keep our eyes open for women who are isolated or outside the church who we can draw into our friendship circles.

3Fs 2#2. Fierce faith: The next thing we ladies need to clutch onto like expensive rocks is faith. And not just faith but fierce faith. God has called each of us on an important mission – whether changing your workplace, school or home for Jesus. That’s why God wants his people to rise up like lions and lionesses (Num 23:24) – full of strength and victorious vision. We have battles to fight and win for God’s kingdom, both individually and with others – and that’s why we REALLY need our shield of faith (Eph 5:16) to make sure we don’t end up a spiritual casualty, but advance and stand firm for truth. Remember that our faith is based on God’s character – his love, faithfulness and strength – NOT on circumstances. So don’t let what you see or feel in your surroundings inject doubt and steal your confidence in God! It is a infinitely valuable treasure.

#3. Fruitfulness: Jesus is all about fruit, and he’s appointed us to bear fruit that will last (John 15:16). Jesus wants us to grow and harvest fruit, which doesn’t mean he’s a vegan but he wants us to tell others about him and invite them to start a journey with God! It also means that he wants us to ‘birth’ heavenly values like joy, faith and peace wherever we live, especially through prayer. And I believe women have a special calling in this! Look at Esther in the bible – after a LOT of prayer with other women, she summons all her courage to speak to her husband (the then international ruler) and prevents a large-scale genocide planned agianst her people. With God at her side she birthed peace through prayer and wisdom, where others had planned destruction.

What tips do you have for teaching women more about their walk with God? All letters of the alphabet are welcome!

Confessions of a recovering people pleaser

Ruth2_IGGuest post by Ruth Muller

“How on earth am I supposed to get all I know about God right before Jesus comes back?” I remember complaining to my dad when I was about 16 years old, as any religious insecure person would. For most of my life, except as a little girl, my relationship with God was more me living to fill people’s expectations of me, than a love relationship – so here are the confessions of a recovering people-pleaser. Over the years I had lost most of my personality because I learned to read people and become whatever I thought they expected of me. I hardly said what I wanted to say, or felt the way I wanted to feel. My relationship with God looked pretty much the same, there was no freedom to just be, it was all about what I did and (God forbid) didn’t do.

I remember the day God showed me how he saw me; I was broken and weeping on my living-room floor. (Bear with me – this is very melancholic I know, but it gets better, I promise!). Broken, because I felt like Ruth1_IGGod had taken away everything that I’d been basing my identity on: success, my good name, what people thought of me, how well I did my job. I’d work like a slave for a nod of approval from God, and serve those things that gave me my worth – the very things God had been working to destroy.

But back to my living-room floor: the things that gave me my worth were gone and I was ashamed to lift my head, afraid of what I would see in God’s eyes. Scientist say that children have a part of their brain called the ‘joy center’ that is activated only by the facial expressions of their parents. If we look into God’s face and find that he is happy to see us, it activates joy! It’s really hard to celebrate God’s goodness if you don’t know that you’re accepted.

I was surprised to find that God was happy to see me, which made my heart burst with joy, which created the momentum to change the way I saw Him as my Dad, and the way I saw myself as Daddy’s little girl: as a little girl twirling in her tutu with dad, excited to be all He saw in me. In his love fear of failure and fear of rejection lost their grip and I was free to play, laugh and be; my doing became being with a purpose!

Do you sometimes feel that you care too much what people think of you? How can you glorify God by being all who he made you to be? Leave us your comments!

Pics: Top right – Ruth Muller; Bottom right Ruth and her mom Anne 🙂

Newsflash: Women aren’t Men

Last week I read a very interesting article posted by a bride-to-be where Mark Driscoll gave guys at a conference an ear-clipping for not honouring their wives. It was a great read on sooo many levels, and one insightful sentence really got me thinking about the difference between talking to men and talking to women. He writes, “Were this a women’s conference, I would not call you all idiots and imbeciles and fools, that you’re a joke, okay? But you men, this is where it needs to go…. And the real men in the room know it and they see it.”

For me it is astounding that groups of guys respond well to these Alpha Male challenges, but my husband loved it, and I’m told it works for guys generally! They respect a leader who talks straight. Here’s the newsflash though: as Driscoll says, this is not normally the same for women. If you want to get the best out of a woman in your team, you can’t forget that she’s – well – a woman. But very often leaders do forget this.

#1. It’s important to remember that women are sensitive, and that’s ok! Being sensitive doesn’t make us weak or unprofessional, it’s part of our feminine strength. Even A-Type ‘strong’ women struggle to feel feminine when their leaders use the same language on them that they use when giving their male colleagues negative feedback. So, rather than shutting this side of a woman down and asking her to take a tongue-lashing ‘like a man’, leaders can make the whole workplace friendlier and happier by learning to criticise constructively…not just criticise. This way girls are way more likely to make the necessary changes with a smile, than spend their lunch break in tears and overanalysing.

#2. The other thing one can never forget when leading women is that they are relational creatures. We want to know that our relationships are strong and safe – but we also know that work can put a strain things! You may not be able to fulfill all your employees’ expectations, just as they may not fulfill yours, and this in turn can lead to pressure and frustration on either side. If you value a female team member and want to make sure your relationship goes the distance, make investment like remembering her birthday, asking about her family, or checking how she’s doing. That way she’ll know you care about her and not just her function at the office, even when the project isn’t running as smoothly as hoped.

It may be a man’s world out there, but we leaders get to make the choices whether to carry that culture into our teams or not. What ‘tools’ have you found work when leading women?

When to do Everything, Something, or Nothing

Jen_IGGuest post by blogger Jen Mguni

When I was a tiny tot I went for piano lessons once a week. Perched on the piano stool, I loved looking down and seeing my chubby little fingers thumping out staccato sounds. The short, crisp notes had a special place in my soul and I think that’s one of the reasons that I now love packaging life-lessons into punchy phrases.

The great thing about mini maxims is that they form well-worn paths in the brain, making them easy to fish out of the pocket of our souls at the very moment that we need to stand on some truth. And today I’ve got three for you that interlock beautifully together.

1. Do everything: Start writing down the things that you want to get right in life and I bet you’ll end up with quite a list! We want to eat healthily, exercise more, be compassionate, work creatively, be that all-encompassing ideal of a good friend/wife/mother, read more, write inspirationally, lead effectively, love unconditionally, labour tirelessly and live righteously. Proverbs 31 talks about a woman who is capable and I’d love to say that we’re born that way, but the reality is that we need to continually grow in our capacity so that we can live the full life that God intended us to live. My “do everything” phrase pushes me to be the best woman that I can be (woman, not super-woman) and also reminds me that everything isn’t anything at all if it’s done without love.

2. Do something: Sometimes I drag the whole weight of our broken beautiful world onto my shoulders. I climb right under all the ugliness and my knees buckle under the burden because I was never built to carry it. My “do something” phrase is what I call to mind when I realise that I’m in this particular place again. It reminds me to get out from under the ugliness by crawling through the tunnel of prayer, asking that God would help me to trust that his love can sink deep into all the cracks like healing balm. My “do something” phrase also reminds me that instead of feeling overwhelmed by all the hurt and evil, I can do something. Whether that something is paying for one child’s school fees, or writing an encouraging letter, or buying someone a meal, or praying a heartfelt prayer strung together with stumbling sentences, something is possible and small things can make a big difference.

3. Do nothing: My husband has known me for a long time now and during all those years he’s been telling me that I need to learn how to rest. It isn’t something that I excel at and I should probably read the whole Mary and Martha story at least once a week, so “do nothing” is the phrase that I pull out of the pocket of my soul when I know there are a million things that I could do but it’s clear that what I should do is just be still. When I walk down the “do nothing” path in my mind, I remind myself that sometimes doing nothing is the best possible use of my time and that living a full life sometimes means fully enjoying an afternoon nap on a Saturday or switching the laptop off in the evening in favour of an earlier night.

So friends, do everything…do something… do nothing.

Do you need to do more of ‘everything’, ‘something’ or nothing right now? What does that look like in your life?