Love that never fails…

IMG_7378

In a deep, dark wood

a wild rose blooms

unseen,

unfurling skyward

as petals fall

softly, softly

to a bed of needles

piercing.

Fragile in its fullness

fading it is

simply

made to be

what it is.

A rose

no matter the name

for its heartbeat

synchs and rises

with the sun.

And beauty rises

from ashes

blown by wind

as morning star

breathes life

again and again

with no end.

Until it becomes

what is yet unknown

though known

and seen as

ancient of days

summons

beauty forth.

Every rose dearly beloved

through the thorns,

Perfect

making imperfect

perfect in love

that never fails

though petals like teardrops

spill into the river flowing…

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Be your husband’s cheerleader not his critic…13 tips to help you change and grow

CAMPUS

Chances are that sometimes you’re not real happy with your husband.

Husbands — and wives — are highly imperfect beings that are prone to disappoint those they love over the course of a lifetime together. Yet these same imperfect dusty humans are amazingly wonderful men and women desperately in need of unconditional love and acceptance .

And marriage is supposed to be a safe place
where partners find solace from the harsh realities of life.

While there is a place for respectful, loving correction when it is truly needed — not just when you think you know what your husband should do or be — don’t jump on him with critical comments that display your impatience or displeasure when he drags in at the end of a long day, weary from the world’s battlefield where he may already feel attacked or deficient.

No man wants to keep coming home to that night after dreary night.  In a long ago far away lifetime, I was a wife on the road to becoming an ex-wife who often complained and sought perfection more readily than offering praise for jobs well done, with acceptance, love, grace, gratitude and prayers to the Heart that changes hearts.

And I learned the hard way — through the devastating loss of divorce with all its consequences that reach decades into the future — that being a husband’s critic is not the way to win his heart or secure a lasting, happy marriage.

But God.

And other chances.

So humbly I share what I have learned in my brokenness hoping these words touch a needy, willful heart with wisdom, healing, guidance and a warning: change your negative wifely behaviors now because your husband just might decide one day that he’s done with your grumbling and moaning and seek a new life with another woman.

CROSS

  • Commit to change beginning with your own heart. Mine was sorely hurting from an origin littered with alcoholism, violence and fear. And those wounds left big holes in my woman’s heart that translated into pain so deep I tried to fill the void with demands of perfectionism from another human being who was wounded in his own way. Foolishly I thought that I was the only one who could keep me safe and well cared for. When your grow up shattered you learn how to survive which is not the same as learning how to live a life of love.
  • Tell someone your story. Don’t keep secrets. Stop hiding behind a pretty mask that makes it look like you have it all together. You don’t. Your control camouflages your deep seated fear. And fear is a powerful motivator very often in the wrong way. So let go. Open up. Share your heart and your hurts. You don’t have to pretend that you are strong and know everything.
  • Forgive those who have hurt you. Easier said than done, yet very doable by relying on God’s grace and love and forgiveness of you. It is humbling to accurately access our own heart in light of God’s word and realize you need Him in order to be whole and to carve out a life, a marriage, a family, a calling worth having.
  • Ask your husband to forgive you. And you may have a list a mile long of all his infractions, and many of them may be real, but you can only change you. Be the one to go first. It won’t kill you, I promise. But it is a step to slaying your selfish pride. As honestly and humbly as you can, go to your precious husband who is a gift from God and repent. Tell him you are sorry for being so constantly critical. Let him know you purpose to do all in your ability to change from his harshest critic into his sweetest cheerleader! {AND PLEASE don’t be confused or feel condemned by my words if you are in an ABUSIVE MARRIAGE. If you are, GET OUT NOW and seek help. Read my experiences within an abusive relationship here.}
  • Find a supportive group of women who seek to improve their marriages, maybe at your church or online. Or perhaps share your struggles with a trusted mentor who has been where you are. {Sheila Kimball Mentoring offers a free mini-mentoring session. Click now for details.} And don’t discount the need and value of speaking with a professional counselor.
  • Pray to God who loves you best of all. Whose plans for you are Yes and Amen! Ask Him to forgive you. Ask Him for help. Believe He loves you like crazy. Read through the Gospels of Christ and follow the example of Jesus in learning to love and obey God, and love and be kind to others, most importantly your husband. Read through the Psalms to soothe your soul. Remember that God will never let you go. He may allow you to suffer the consequences of your lesser choices, but even when you do, please trust that the lessons come from His heart of love for you. Your are absolutely precious in God’s sight and of great worth.

CHERRY TREE

As you take baby steps towards becoming the wife of your husband’s dreams, keep surrendering even though you stumble. Get up and try again. Add positive practices into your marriage to brighten your husband’s life, perhaps open his heart to you and/or God, and hopefully make your marriage better.

  • Smile. Not only may smiling physiologically make your brain happier, it represents a loving, open, accepting attitude. A smile is inviting. A frown makes a husband, who is very likely battling his own inner demons, want to move away from you.
  • Let your tone of voice be soft and endearing.  Choose to ditch the critical speak and think and find a way to say the same thing in a gentle, uplifting way. Even when you need to say something uncomfortable to your man there is a way to approach the topic that is less threatening to his masculine mindset. Serve him up a good sandwich.
  • Be interested in his work and his hobbies. Don’t pooh-pooh his efforts on the work front or deride what gives him pleasure in his off hours. Make it your intent to see the value in what he values.  And your husband will be a happier camper, more open to meeting and fulfilling your needs, when he feels accepted by you. So bring him blessings everyday, not curses.
  • Love his family. You don’t have to like all of them, but they are his blood and that means something. Respect his relationships that were formed before you came into his life. Be kind, be gracious, be hospitable. Don’t try to isolate him from the people he loves. His heart is big enough for you and them.
  • Be his affectionate, loving playmate. Recognize that lovemaking is not a curse, but a gift that a husband and wife share freely, joyfully. Invite God into your marriage bed. Seek help if you have difficulty in this area because it is vital to a strong, healthy marriage.
  • Pray, pray, pray for your husband. Pray all the time, in every way, and know that Father is listening and is at work in your husband.
  • Let your husband know he’s your heroOften! No matter the circumstances your lives may be experiencing.

Then breathe. You are woman, but you don’t have to roar. 

Be kind! Be his wife and helper, not his fixer. Be a valiant prayer warrior who knows that wedded bliss will not materialize by warring against your man with criticisms and complaints.

Be his number one fan and cheer him on to the greatness locked inside him…

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Your negativity and fear is killing your happy marriage…

OLD HOUSE

Have you ever considered that the way you think, feel and speak may be draining the life from your marriage?

Perhaps not because you persist in a destructive cycle, refusing to acknowledge the damage you inflict on your spouse with nearly every word you utter, choices you make and fear-filled control that you exert to the very detriment of your mate’s life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. And to your’s, too, for if you are honest with yourself, how happy are you, really?

However, there is hope for you to change if you want to. And therein lies the pivotal question for you to ponder as you think about your life, your marriage, and the future.

Do you want to change?

  • And let go of the past that keeps you bound, staying stuck in your own brand of misery?
  • Continue going round in cycles getting nowhere, repeating the mistakes of your past or unhealthy ways of relating that you learned as a child from parents whose habits, shortcomings, and pain adversely impacted you?
  • Or will you choose to live your life differently, beginning even now as you read these words, and reap the amazing, abundant gifts that God has for you and your marriage?

Please know that God is on your side in all of this.

He is not condemning you for your negativity and fear, or unforgiveness towards those who hurt you in your past. He will not punish you. Rather He is encouraging you to step out of your self-imposed darkness, stop hurting others, and come into the light where you will find love and healing for your wounded soul as you recognize, possibly for the first time, your incredible worth and beauty in God’s eyes.

BRIDGE

You are amazingly made and wonderful.

Endowed with certain gifts and talents with which to fulfill your purpose and give back to humanity, making your corner of the world a better, safer, more loving place. Yet it begins with you and then your nearest neighbor, which for married folk is that man or women you have vowed your life to.

You promised to love and comfort him, honor and keep her, and forsaking all others, remain faithful to him all your days.

You vowed to have and to hold, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health so long as you both shall live.

And your marriage was designed as a gift,
not a jail sentence, yet your negativity holds your spouse prisoner!

In the beginning, when the stars in your eyes were shining brilliantly they obliterated the flaws of humanity in your dearly beloved, making  it easier to dream, hope, trust, be positive, have faith in him or her and the marriage.

But then life started bearing down hard with too many demands — both external and self-imposed expectations. And your frustrations, unfulfilled dreams, stress, physical exhaustion, left little time for nourishing your marriage, draining it of joy. Maybe then your old companion Negativity — first cousin to fear whose twin is control — reared up ugly, lashing out at length with heated diatribes against the one person in all the world who loves you most of all, and the person you promised to love.

THIS IS LOVE

And this is love…

Love is patient and kind. It looks for a way of being constructive. It is not possessive, neither anxious to impress nor cherishing inflated ideas of its own importance.

Love has good manners and does not pursue selfish advantage. It is not touchy. It does not keep account of evil or gloat over the wickedness of other people. Love shares the joy of those who live by the truth.

Love never fails.

Yet perhaps you cannot love because
you do not realize how much you are loved.

I have loved you with an everlasting love;
Therefore I have drawn you with lovingkindness.
Again I will build you and you will be rebuilt…
Jeremiah 31:3-4

Are you willing to drop the hard shield
you have erected around your heart because of all your hurts?

  • Will you choose to begin retraining your brain to think hope-filled positive thoughts that you can learn to believe and thereby alter your behaviors?
  • Can you reach out of your darkness and humbly share the truth about your struggles?
  • Will you ask for help before it is too late?

KIDS

For if you refuse, then you will continue down a dark road that can kill your marriage and strangle your spouse’s very soul, not to mention your children, grandchildren, and others watching you.

Take courage and find hope as you turn towards all that is love and light and life…

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Saturday’s Word…Your past does not dictate your heritage…Psalm 16

DAFFODILS

Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge.
I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord;
    I have no good apart from you.”

As for the saints in the land, they are the excellent ones,
    in whom is all my delight.

The sorrows of those who run after another god shall multiply;
    their drink offerings of blood I will not pour out
    or take their names on my lips.

The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup;
    you hold my lot.
The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
    indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.

I bless the Lord who gives me counsel;
    in the night also my heart instructs me.
I have set the Lord always before me;
    because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.

Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices;
    my flesh also dwells secure.
For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol,
    or let your holy one see corruption.

You make known to me the path of life;
    in your presence there is fullness of joy;
    at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

I like to peruse different translations because it adds depth and texture to the meaning of scripture. While I’ve shared the English Standard Version above, I was captivated by the New American Standard’s verse six:

Indeed, my heritage is beautiful to me.

And I asked myself if mine — all that which I have acquired from my predecessors — is beautiful to me with its alcoholism, abuse of various kinds, adulteries, divorce and loss?

In and of themselves these things are ugly, horrifying, destructive. But when we take our broken past and surrender the rubble and the shards to the Artist a transformation occurs, a redesign of the awful into something lovely, worth being grateful for and passing on.

A new legacy scripted in love, awash in light.

Wherever we have come from, no matter the pain of our past or how un-pretty our choices have been, we can find assurance in God who makes all things not only possible, but new.

Jesus gifts us with a sparkling heritage once we open our heart to Him.

So take courage, and I will too, in knowing that all our sharp and tarnished pieces that we secret away in the attic of our mind, those awful things stuffed into dusty boxes marked Do Not Open, those nasty unspeakable memories that resurface as nightmares, negativity and negligent and destructive behaviors in marriage and relationships, can and must be revealed and released.

Into light bathed golden by love where our great Tekton crafts all of it into something resonant with newborn glory and freedom…

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Do you want to be happy in your marriage?

MKS NIA

Marriage. Is. A. Gift.

Yet if yours is unhappy there may be moments when you think of returning it. But wait.

In any lifelong marriage good times and bad abound with problems ranging from your mental outlook — those pesky negative thoughts, to resentment and bitterness, stress, too much to do with too little time, all work and no play, lack of intimacy — both physical and emotional.

There can be wounds and baggage from the past, selfishness and pride, lack of love and respect, differing values, objectives or dreams; mounting debt, pressure from caring for a mate or child with special needs, lack of sleep, health problems, money, religion, politics, sex. The list is endless and some marriage are harder than others.

And we know how hard marriage can be, how much it hurts. Both Michael and I have experienced the death of marriages in the past and the devastating pain involved. We understand how a gravely difficult marriage puts a constant drain on your soul, robs your body of vitality and health, can plummet you into depression or acedia, and make you want to give up. And while some marriages must be let go of, other troubled marriages just need to make some changes:

  • In the short term focus first on your own traits as a spouse, both the good and bad you bring to the union.
  • With God’s help let go of your bad and actively seek to grow the good.
  • Think deep and long and ask yourself questions that lend insight about where and how you get off track with your mate.
  • Pray for your spouse and marriage.
  • And finally choose to put into practice right ways of relating, believing that God is for you and your spouse and that grace is sufficient.

WALL

Now if you and your spouse are deep in serious marital issues you need professional intervention. Such things as verbal or physical abuse, addictions, adultery or pornography require assistance both in terms of counseling to heal and rebuild, or in protection and finding a safe haven while waiting to see if your wife or husband will realize the degree of their problem.

To redirect your marriage to higher ground, marriage mentoring can help. But if you and your mate fall into a less serious pattern of unhappiness, here’s what Michael and I have learned works best.

Since it is love that sets the followers, the true disciples of Jesus, apart from the rest of the world, making the world sit up and take notice when it is practiced the way God who is love intends, how are you doing?

Perhaps you could do a little better? Dare I say we can all always be learning to love better!

Begin by coming on bended knee seeking Love who loves like no other. You truly cannot love your spouse until you understand how much God loves and values you and this is where you find your worth. So does your mate. You both need to honor God first and then the other.

Will you allow God’s love that never leaves or forsakes to fill you?

And bring you the joy and contentment you desire so that you can love your husband or wife in a healthy way?

We show God our love for Him as we choose to live according to His principles and values. But to do this we must abdicate allegiance to self and surrender to His waiting, loving arms. Humbly, without fear or resentment.

Will you?

Michael and I have known a few times in our nearly five years of marriage when we have been deeply at odds with one another, desperately unhappy. Yet during those harder times we have stood on our vows and gotten up after stumbling, always choosing to keep growing up and being more and more good for Goodness sake.

And this is the way that we have transformed our rough, rocky patches into lovely green oases that refresh our hearts, rekindle our love and bring us closer to the ideal God had in mind when He first established marriage. As a blessing, a covenant of companionship where husband and wife both love and honor, help and serve as wedded equals deliciously distinct.

This is the Promised Land in marriage where milk and honey flow and dreams materialize and we drown in God’s delights. So we keep coming to Father asking Him to give us strength to live the ways of love, not just think or talk about them. Because it doesn’t matter how many scripture verses we know by heart if we are not living love.

TUNNEL

And this is the secret to marital success: Love and obey God and love and serve your spouse more than you do yourself.

This love of which I speak is slow to lose patience—it looks for a way of being constructive. It is not possessive: it is neither anxious to impress nor does it cherish inflated ideas of its own importance.

Love has good manners and does not pursue selfish advantage. It is not touchy. It does not keep account of evil or gloat over the wickedness of other people. On the contrary, it is glad when truth prevails.

Love knows no limit to its endurance, no end to its trust, no fading of its hope; it can outlast anything. It is, in fact, the one thing that still stands when all else has fallen.
1 Corinthians 13:4-8

VIEW of WATER Rocks

So let’s love one another not just on the good days, but the bad ones, too. Not just when we feel well, but when our bodies, hearts or minds ache. Let’s put more than mental ascent into the commands. Let’s give them our blood, sweat and tears.

And aren’t there sometimes tears and tantrums when self must abdicate and lay down its prideful will for the good of the Almighty and the good of the marriage?

Yet when married lovers come together, shielded by faith and humility, love wields a sword that slays the little foxes before they grow into ravenous, destructive wolves.

And that makes for happier marriages everywhere…

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