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Creating that Long-Lasting Relationship

“What does it take to create an enduring, long-lasting  relationship?” That question was asked of me several times during our recent 50th anniversary cruise.

So what was my answer? “That’s an easy one,” I replied.

Having God as the center of any marriage for one. No one can sustain a perfect relationship without a strong anchor. For the marital-bliss-winds can shift direction at any time and chaos, tribulations and uncertainty follow.  No one can sustain happiness forever for that depends on emotional up and down days; but if God is your anchor, you’ll find true JOY and remain grounded.

Communication ranks right up there as well. Spouses aren’t mind-readers! When one asks, “What’s wrong?” and the other sarcastically replies nothing,” how is that helping? Don’t stubbornly resist, talk it over. Don’t let one’s hard-headedness dictate what Satan gleefully desires.

God created the first marriage and Satan promptly went about messing things up. Not only did they not communicate, they failed to seek God’s Will: His Word! Whenever a couple is uncertain, asking, “What should we do about . . . (whatever) ?” Don’t make decisions harder than they should be. You’ll find the answer anchored in Scripture and that should end the discussion.

Laughter! The devil hates to hear Christians joyful and God loves it! Life is too short to not enjoy it! Don’t settle for second best and don’t sweat the small stuff. Enjoy each other’s company, marry your best friend and seek to be a team even after you have children. (I’ve seen so many marriages break up because one loves their children more than their spouse.)

No matter how busy you are, spend as much time together as you can. In my book “Life’s Too Short to Eat Bad Cheese!” I wrote about marriage being a three-ring-circus. A circus has one large ring in-between two smaller rings. The large representing together time. Sometimes, for a number of reasons, those rings get lopsided . Too many spouses lose themselves in the other’s relationship, giving up their interests for the sake of the other. What happens then? They become boring. Never lose your identity – it’s what made you unique and why they fell in love with you in the first place.

Don’t become stagnant. Continually grow and change. You’ll never get bored with each other. I’ve been very fortunate to have two and my husband three diverse careers. We’ve moved twenty times in our lives as well as lived in a motorhome fulltime for six years, traveling around the States. We’ve met wonderful people and seen sites many only dream about. Our life’s been blessed!

“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”  (Ephesians 4:2-3)

Has any reader picked up on the fact that the same attributes which create a successful marriage, contribute to a close relationship with our Lord?

What is your relationship to Christ? Cultivate a beneficial and meaningful relationship with Jesus in the same way:

Communicate: the more you read your Bible, the more you’ll understand how to please him and the closer you’ll get to a stronger, richer relationship.

Use your Spiritual Gifts, don’t allow them to become stagnant. Make your relationship with Christ your largest center ring. Grow and Blossom together. Those gifts can help others in need, but one must practice them.

Become JOYFUL. Even amidst trials and hardships, consider how God has blessed you. Praise Him for the home He’s provided, family you have, for the food on your table and the friendships you enjoy.

Love Richly!

Personal River of Change

Thank you to all of my followers who didn’t quit on me during my long sabbatical. It’s hard to return after being away from blogging. One reason is because it’s difficult to come up with a first post! It’s not as easy as: “Hi, I’m Back!!! Gotta love me!”

Recently I saw a poster entitled “Life is like a River.” How often have you heard that saying? Poems are written about it, Facebook posts share it and Garth Brooks beautifully sang about it. Wouldn’t a river analogy be the perfect segue after a life-changing sabbatical?

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.” (Isaiah 43:2)

 

Rivers are molded by their environment.

Rivers are amazing and beautiful. They can gently bring life back to a community or can flood it with a vengeance, if influenced by outside sources. Rivers can gently round off rocks, creating their beautiful smoothness or mold them into craggy, sharp, dangerous edges.

During my teenage years, our farm bordered part of the Susquehanna River. Since we weren’t far from its source in Cooperstown, NY, it wasn’t very wide. A stone could have easily been thrown across it. That is until the rains came and the river overflowed onto our fields. This could have been a good or bad event. It could destroy crops or enrich the soil.

Events happen in our lives that we have no control over. When downpours come into our lives, do we rant and rave? Sure, but even if justified, do we allow it to destroy our happiness? Do we accept life’s challenges, make the best of it and move on or have a pity party, mope and complain? How we react to a crisis is a personal choice. Choose Joy!

River intensity changes frequently

Our personal “life river” became a white water rafting trip last year when we traveled over some rocky shoals of life. Sadly, we were betrayed by beloved trusted friends, accosted and blindsided by an angry mob of “Pharisees.” Other innocent friends were hurt simply for being our acquaintances. Yet still their and our Faith never wavered.

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10)

Yes, God is Faithful. He almost miraculously moved us out of a toxic environment and provided a way of escape. (1 Corinthians 10:13) Over the past five months, life has become incredibly rewarding and joyful once again, living in paradise. We are coasting on smooth waters and our faith not only endured but flourished.

Rivers are always moving forward, therefore no two days are ever the same: 

Several years ago, after my husband accepted his previous position, he was asked to join the staff of a wonderful Christian college. Having integrity, he declined, faithfully serving his congregation. It was evident that God’s River moves at its own pace, patiently instilling life experience. God eventually provided abundant blessings; moving us to that new teaching position and true Christian friendships.

Rivers are so diverse, no two are alike. Just like people 

I’m here to implore you to not focus on fragile, fallible Christians. God alone is perfect. Our past is a training field, learn from it. If you don’t like your circumstances, change them. If you trust in God, rely on His Will, He will never forsake you!

It’s good to be back, my friends.

 

Where Have All the Relationships Gone?

I came across a cute cartoon on Facebook which was created entirely of emoji’s and icons. (not this one, wasn’t sure if other had a copyright) It professed that after more than 3,00o years we’ve returned to speaking through modern day hieroglyphics. How true!

Real one-on-one communication today seems to be disintegrating as quickly as paper books. Twitter, Texting and Facebook have emerged as conversations without actual voices. A happy face icon is replacing actual laughter and a physical hug and in this extremely mobile modern world, even close friendships can dissolve quickly.

A study conducted by the University of North Carolina indicated that stress levels were lowered when participants hugged each other. Hugging releases chemical feel-good endorphins such as oxytocin, described as a hormone of love and the neurotransmitter, serotonin. This allows us emotionally to feel safe, secure and in trusted hands. No amount of x’s, o’s or happy face icons attached as an internet hug can replace a physical one!

God, time, communication and laughter in my opinion, is the glue that holds friendship together. Your spouse should also be your friend.

GOD is the Anchor. He instills a moral compass as well as the Golden Rule. There is no coincidence with God. He brought you together for a reason. Do you care? That which you treasure, you take care of. Protect each other’s feelings through a lifetime commitment of respect, courtesy and love.

LAUGHTER keeps a relationship young-at-heart. What seems like a crisis  in a relationship can often be a learning experience which over time is usually laughed about when relating that story to family and friends years later. Don’t sweat the small stuff, as the saying goes. In perspective, it’s all small stuff. Only what we do for our Lord matters.

TIME. In a strong, loving, balanced relationship, a couple should continually allocate more time together than apart. Never stop supporting, learning and growing together! God created us as complex creatures. It’s exciting to discover new interests that add to a couple’s extensive memory portfolio in marriage!

Communicate! Don’t let your relationships become complacent! Complacency leads to boredom. Sadly, many marriages are disposable in today’s throw-away society. How many times while counseling did I heard the phrase: “We used to talk for hours, but he doesn’t communicate with me anymore!” Wouldn’t most women prefer good communication from the heart than a gift from the store?

I can’t believe in life you can’t find something to talk about:  vacation plans, politics, sports, travel, world events, work, music, television shows, a joke you heard, a Bible study point of view . . . there’s literally a world of items to discuss!

We surround ourselves with such busyness and noise and yet more and more, as humans, we are so lonely. Then we reach for anything that temporarily satisfies, food, drugs, alcohol, shopping. We find ourselves in a void, falling further and further away from God’s love. Get back to the Word!

Surround yourself with godly people who encourage, build you up and believe you are worth speaking to. It takes commitment, patience and the Lord as the center of any relationship to ensure longevity. Reach out!

 “Whether it is pleasant or unpleasant, we will listen to the voice of the LORD our God to whom we are sending you, so that it may go well with us when we listen to the voice of the LORD our God.”  (Jeremiah 42:6)