God changes your marriage as He changes your heart…First Things First, Part 3

While it’s yet dark I throw back the covers, sit in silence for a few moments letting the new day sink in. Hush of pre-dawn hours and His ever-nearness enveloping me like a warm shawl on a cold morning. My mind stilled, my heart reaches heavenward. This time is just for me and Him.

And my Michael, he’s got his own personal meeting going on with the Lord.

Daily we choose to enter the secret place before entering our day and it sets the tone for the hours that follow, impacting decision-making, our willingness to obey, stress levels, and by extension, our marriage. So we guard our time with Him.

When you or I neglect our time with God we make it easier for the enemy to sneak past our boundaries, wrecking havoc and harm, crushing in ways small and big — sometimes severely damaging marriages, with families breaking and how the babies cry.

But we are smarter than that because we are Daddy’s devoted daughters and Father’s faithful sons, aren’t we?

We hear His voice — when we are listening. We learn from the Bible (especially the words and life and Christ) — when we read it. We grow closer to God through prayer — when we make the effort. Choices. And in these things, and as we practice other spiritual disciplines, we are victorious when the challenges of life and marriage overwhelm.

So how’s your love affair with God these days?

Do you know Him? Really? Or do you wear the mask and go through the motions? Something to seriously consider regardless of how life and marriage are currently faring.

And an absolute necessity if your marriage is a mess today — with gaping chasms of pain, fear, sin, hurt and loss from the uglies satan uses to destroy us — all the weaknesses we yield to, the wounds from childhood, the hardness of heart. Your union seems doomed and you’re thinking about throwing in the towel: I’m done, I’m calling a lawyer, or one of satan’s favorite lines: I’m not in love with him/her anymore.

You may think that packing your bags, divorcing your spouse, and moving on is all it will take to make your heart happy. Wrong! You will still be there. With all your own inner stuff that needs healing. Not to mention the terrible fall-out that follows divorce — emotional, physical and financial devastation. And your babies wailing even 20 years later.

For divorce doesn’t just split a couple apart it wrecks families, destroying the stability and security every child needs. Little boys and girls, and even bigger ones, want mommy and daddy together, loving each other for a lifetime. Role models for the next generation. Every successful marriage making society stronger. And if you’re thinking that a new marriage with someone else will magically be all better, please think again.

And don’t give up before turning to God who is the repairer of the breech, the salvation of our souls and the mender of marriages.

But it needs to begin with you, the plank in your eye. Focusing on your spouse’s faults is God’s business. Of course he or she needs to change too, but only God can do it. And I doubt He looks at our bad as much as we do. He sees us as He intends us to be. Made right as we become like His son.

The journey of discipleship begins with your choice — not just to believe in Jesus — but to be like Jesus. Moment by moment with every choice made in line with God’s will. And when both husband and wife commit to follow God like this, as true disciples, hearts and marriages change for the better.

Because God really loves you and me.

He thinks about us all. the. time. Knowing all the good and the bad and loving us still. And He always will. God’s no runner when things get down and dirty. He rolls up His sleeves, lifts us out of our slime, and kisses our sins away.

So what do you say we love Father back like never before?

Spending more real time with Him, not just showing up at small group. Knowing Him, not just knowing about Him. Believing Him like your life depends on it. Doing and saying what He does no matter how much your soul screams in opposition.

Discipleship, it’s not just getting saved, it’s coming and following each day, all the way.

And it’s hard when we first turn whole heartedly to God. Discipleship takes you to the edge of yourself and as you peer into your abyss beware the unpleasantness. Yet don’t hide from God or wallow in recrimination and guilt. If you are sorry, truly, then you are forgiven. And God is ready to move you forward. You don’t need to constantly replay mistakes. Choose not to think on them, just like God says He does. Forgetting.

Is right this minute the time to stop whatever your doing?

And open your heart. Bend your knee. Ask for help. Choose to cling. With baby steps preceding leaps of faith, you’ll learn Him and live Him and fall madly in love with Him.

Just like He desires.

A thousand times each day your choices transform your character. Over time right God-choices change your life and marriage, His promised abundance reaped in unimaginable ways.

And God never makes an empty promise…

Please come back for future posts in the First Things First series with practical helps for deepening discipleship and by extension improving your marriage. So you don’t miss out, subscribe now by clicking on the box.

First Things First series, Part 1

Part 2 — Annual Marriage Checkup

And for a free 20 minute mentoring session to kick start your new year, click on the image below.

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Exquisite ache…reflecting with gratitude, anticipating with joy

RT Trees

With Thanksgiving past and my heart flooded with gratitude for all our sweet and special blessings, as Christmas draws closer day by day, an expectant hopefulness rises within me bringing a desire to reflect deeper still.

On life, love and all things God.

And with the season of darkness and bitter cold descended at least in New York, I feel the urgent pull to be warmed by His embrace. Aligning my heart in sync with the heavenly heartbeat.

Breathing. Waiting. Opening.

RT Stairs

For there are certain somethings that touch me with the deepest ache.

Sunset. A full moon. Late afternoon sun sliding into a room like golden honey. Twinkly lights flashing like pinpoint stars. Melodies calling to the soul from somewhere long ago and faraway. And always, always the wanting for more time to spend with those I most love.

Brian Crain’s Summer in Italy transports me in this way and I invite you to listen.

Yet the ache is not sad, bittersweet perhaps, more a yearning so exquisite that I can barely breathe. 

A divine heart-call in whispers often unheard. And in the longing for what seems just beyond my grasp, behind the veil, comes again the realization that all my longings end in His heart of Love. 

For is there not unique and redeeming beauty in our ache when it urges us closer to God?

Drawing us with an intimate promise of all that was ever meant to be. And after years of wandering and wondering, attempting to assuage the ache to belong, to know and be known, to love and be loved as never before, comes the discovery both ancient and newly-born.

There.

Is.

Only.

One.

Him who obliterates darkness, fills the void, expands the heart, pours the grace. Holiness healing the deepest hurts and worst habits. And on those silent nights as we look up, when divinely-implanted loneliness is most acutely felt, our hearts will crescendo in hallelujahs for darkness brightens with the Morning Star.

RT Light

During the next few weeks as life speeds up, crowding out quiet contentment, make room at the inn of your heart to welcome Him simply. No frills or fuss, no pretense or striving. Come as you are and just be with Him in all the fullness of each present moment. Then linger with longing and fill even more.

Him the gift to us and us through Him becoming the gift He intends.

May Christmas come softly this year, helping us hear as He beckons us to rise from the ash heap of mortal existence to kiss His face, pursuing Him with passion the way He pursues us.

Our ache leading us home at Christmas. And then we will know. For certain sure.

We are His. We belong. We are loved. And the tattered remnants of our orphan hearts will tear away like discarded gift wrap as we emerge more fully grown.

At once and still becoming, a true-er daughter or son of the best dad ever…

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Stuck in a rut? Break free into the life God dreams for you…

SNOW CHURCH

Is your heart all tangled up today? Maybe with too many good things or not-so-good things? How’s your relationship with God? Your marriage? Your calling?

Is God telling you to stop?

Stop what you are doing so that I can show you what “becoming new” things I have in mind for you.

SNOW POND

Season of hibernation, when much of the world lies buried under the white stuff, is a good time to be still and silent to better hear Deep calling to the ever-growing-deeper. A time to look inward where God speaks in the secret places in order to BREAKOUT of all that holds you — and me — back.

BREAKOUT

Receive my BREAKOUT Manifesto, a free eBook about breaking free from all that holds you back in this one, wonderful life that God has gifted to you, when you subscribe today by clicking this box.

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SNOW TREE

Then exhale. Regroup. Grow stronger. Better. More in line with God’s will for your life.

At regular intervals we need to step back to better hear how to go forward. That said, during February SheilaKimball.com will be fasting from blogging for such a time as this.

Thank you for grace, my friends.

New posts will begin appearing next month, but during the interim I’m leaving you with a list of links to your favorite posts.

The one thing that can turn your negative thoughts to good…Plus 8 tips for cultivating a positive frame of mind

FIELD

COURSE

So my Michael and I are walking down a country lane, determined to boost our endorphins by getting some exercise in the bright sunshine.

“We’re also making Vitamin D,” he says with a grin.

“I’m not so sure,” I say, noting that nearly every square inch of me is bundled against the chill. {O Summer, wherefore art thou?}

BUNDLED

I have slept VERY little in the last two nights and I am sluggish in body and soul. With every step my thoughts spin further down, all negative and fearful.

“I’ve been worrying too much lately,” I confess.

“Yes you have,” he says.

Then I give voice to my negative thoughts in an effort to diminish their grip on me, and in hearing myself speak them out loud I recognize them for what they are.

Fear-fueled lies.

“What would you say to a woman you were mentoring if she said what you just said?” he wisely asks me. He often poses this question which makes me dig a little deeper and think harder, helping me sort things through and find my way out of the dark place.

“I would tell her that she can change her negative thinking. Right now. Right in the midst of the downward spiral,” I say, “by making a choice to change and think more positively on other, better things.”

Choosing this repeatedly until it becomes your new groove, even though it can seem impossible to begin, helps banish negative thinking for good.

Regardless of how you or I may feel we still have the power to choose what we think. And since we readily believe what our brains tell us, choosing carefully is not only prudent, but obedient.

Here is a last piece of advice. If you believe in goodness and if you value the approval of God, fix your minds on the things which are holy and right and pure and beautiful and good. Model your conduct on what you have learned from me, on what I have told you and shown you, and you will find the God of peace will be with you.
Philippians 4:8 J. B. Phillips

CHIMNEY

Simply put, the one thing you can do to get rid of your negative thoughts for good is to begin by making a choice.

I don’t know about you, but my struggle with negative thinking intensifies in the winter.

Too much dark, and I’m not talking chocolate. And too much cold. It throws my circadian rhythms off and disturbs my sleep. And that sets me up to more easily entertain the wild beasts that come running at me from the cages in my mind as soon as my eyes open, or maybe have been dancing along my neural pathways through the wee hours of wakefulness. 

{And of course, if your negative thoughts are significantly more than mild SAD-induced variety, please seek out a mental health professional today. This can help!}

In addition to choosing to think more positively, here are action steps that help me ascend from the pit. They can get you to the brighter side, too.

  1. Keep your brain and heart flooded with God’s truth each day. Even if you only have five minutes to spare in the morning, make reading the Bible a ritual. A great site when you’re on the go is BibleGateway.
  2. Take a news fast. While I’m not advocating that you completely ignore world events, you don’t need to gorge your mind all the time with graphic images. Set some limits for yourself.
  3. Conduct a self-inventory. Ask the Holy Spirit, who is your best counselor, to show you the areas of unrest in your soul. Dig a little deeper to discover the roots of your unrest that contribute to your negative thinking. Perhaps you bear a grudge against your husband, mother or former friend? Confess to God what is revealed as sinful and then choose to fill your heart and mind with truth that will keep you free.
  4. Remember! Humans are by nature forgetful. You make a decision to turn yourself around but your hurts, habits and hang-ups are so deeply ingrained that you can’t seem to stay out of your rut for more than short periods of time. When you fall back into negative patterns you berate yourself, lose hope that change is possible, and perpetuate the cycle that gets you nowhere. One thing that helps me remember is neon bright Post-its. I make tiny cue cards for myself and post them where I can’t ignore them like the edge of my computer screen or my bathroom cabinet. Plus, all those jots of color makes me happy, too.
  5. Hear your thoughts. When you find your thinking going in the wrong direction tell yourself to STOP! Say it out loud. Speak out your silly thoughts either to yourself or someone else, like I did on my walk with Michael. Hearing what you are thinking helps you realize the negative thoughts are not rational.
  6. Feed your brain. Eating healthy improves overall health and that includes your gray matter. Brains benefit from a diet rich in omega 3s, Vitamin D and B vitamins. Foods like salmon, walnuts, avocados, blueberries, green tea and yes, dark chocolate (85% organic and fair traded) are all great choices. Reducing Candida in your digestive system can also improve your mood and thinking. There’s a reason your gut is referred to as your “second brain.”
  7. Hug and hug some more. Hugging a loved one not only strengthens your immune system, but boosts oxytocin and serotonin levels, making you feel less lonely and angry and increasing your happiness quotient. If no one is around hug the family pet or give yourself a hug! Close your eyes, use your God-given imagination and feel His arms encircling you. Hugs, like laughter, help you let go, relax and feel more upbeat. Virginia Satir, the late family therapist and author, said: “We need four hugs a day for survival. We need eight hugs a day for maintenance. We need twelve hugs a day for growth.”
  8. Sleep. This can be tricky, especially for women, especially during the months of increased darkness. But quality sleep is vital to good health, both physical and mental, because body and mind restoration and detoxification happens during deep sleep. Some ways to achieve this include: setting a positive intention that sleep will come, staying calm and relaxed especially later in the day, getting off the computer at least two hours before bed, being consistent with a bedtime routine that relaxes you, keeping your bedroom calm, clutter free and cool; not eating heavily before bedtime, exercising earlier in the day, getting enough light by braving the outdoors or using this type of lamp.

If you need help transforming your mind from negative to positive, click on my picture below for further information.

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Why I’m opting out this New Year’s…Maybe you should too?

TREE

Baby New Year is four days old and I’m considering the annual traditions that I have in the past embraced:

 

  • Resolutions
  • One Words
  • 31 Day Series
  • Read through the Bible in a Year plans
  • New health regimen
  • Promises to self to make this the Best. Year. Yet!

An opting out of all of them.

No, I’m not throwing away my Bible, or deciding to stop moving my life forward in the best possible way, but I am ditching what I find to be encumbrances and routine contrivances.

Instead by God’s grace and with every breath I take may I be the change I would like to see in the world. That I just do it instead of talking or writing about it! That every step — every thought, word, and action of mine — moves me closer to my ultimate objective in life.

To live and love like Jesus Christ.

Simple. Real. True. And earth-shattering once finally achieved.

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Because the way I see it if I focus on this One then everything else falls in line. My utter abandonment and obedience to God is key to good living that fulfills the plans He has for me, makes Him smile, blesses those around me and gives me peace, hope and happiness.

If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.
John 14:15

Jesus’ succinct sentence is more loaded than we realize having read it year after year, yet perhaps not doing it?

Keeping my focus straightforward and simple alleviates the self-imposed stress I have in the past experienced as my resolutions fell far short by year’s end — or maybe at the end of January?

I grew discouraged over my lack of stick-to-it-tiveness, feeling defeated.

But by putting first things first everyday, as a way of life, by choosing to follow God more closely than I did yesterday or last year, the objectives that elude my best laid plans and resolutions come true. Believing, trusting and obeying God whole-heartedly brings blessings that last, making my life better one day at a time: stronger marriage, better relationships, balanced finances, increased peace, pure joy. And even improved health.

My heartfelt prayer for you, my very dear friend, is that you may be as healthy and prosperous in every way are you are in soul. I was delighted when the brothers arrived and spoke so highly of the sincerity of your life—obviously you are living in the truth. Nothing brings me greater joy nowadays than hearing that “my children” are living “in the truth”.
3 John 2, J.B. Phillips New Testament

BENCH

My soul is my will, my mind, my emotions. I can faithfully hike, do yoga daily and eat a Paleo diet, but if my soul is sick my life, and the lives of my loved ones, suffers. So I start by choosing to obey especially when. it. is. hard! Not just when everything is going well. And my mind is a major battlefield where obedience is first won or lost. My waking thoughts setting the tone of my day.

We use our powerful God-tools for smashing warped philosophies, tearing down barriers erected against the truth of God, fitting every loose thought and emotion and impulse into the structure of life shaped by Christ. Our tools are ready at hand for clearing the ground of every obstruction and building lives of obedience into maturity.
2 Corinthians 10:5 The Message

So may I choose thoughts carefully, rejecting all the fear-filled negative notions and reframing situations as much as possible in a more positive light.

From now on, brothers and sisters, if anything is excellent and if anything is admirable, focus your thoughts on these things: all that is true, all that is holy, all that is just, all that is pure, all that is lovely, and all that is worthy of praise.
Philippians 4:8

And from here following all the other Commands of Christ. Each morning, as part of our couple devotions, my Michael reads us one of the page-long selections from this invaluable book in addition to scripture from our current reading of William Barclay’s Gospel of Mark. Both brother-authors encourage our obedience as they bring fresh insights to time-worn truths.

US

So whether it is January 4 or July 18 or December 31 we stay the course. Day in. Day out. In big and little matters no matter that we may stumble a time or two, or the news keeps me up all night, or the enemy employs lies that for a moment set me on edge.

There is One truth that never changes from January 1 to December 31 each and every year. Year after year after year…

Jesus Christ is always the same, yesterday, today and for ever. Do not be swept off your feet by various peculiar teachings. Spiritual stability depends on the grace of God, and not on rules of diet—which after all have not spiritually benefited those who have made a speciality of that kind of thing. God sent Jesus to show us Himself and forgives and takes away our sins making new life possible.
Hebrews 13:8, J. B. Phillips

One True North Light to the good life…

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