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Entries in Dianne Barker (10)

Thursday
Oct052017

Getting Needs Met ... or Not

Dianne Barker has a knack for pinpointing issues we all struggle with, and the biblical truth that helps. In this Perspective UPGRADE, she examines a question we may ask in the middle of stressful circumstances.

     

"Overwhelmed, I cried out to the Lord," Dianne said. 'What about my needs?'”

I (Dawn) believe the Lord understands our struggle. Humanly, Jesus had physical needs during His time on earth, and He looked to scriptures for strength. That's exactly where we need to go.

Dianne continues . . .

I went into marriage expecting my wonderful husband to meet all my needs and make me sublimely happy.

Our first few years were pretty much carefree. When I left a successful journalism career to be a stay-at-home mom, I had no regrets. Making a nest for my husband and our two young children brought me great joy. Meeting their needs had highest priority, although I carved out some time to continue writing.

Life has a way of piling stress upon stress.

As our children grew, we enjoyed the normal progression of family life: music lessons and recitals ... Little League and Scouts ... choral concerts and competitions.

We enjoyed our hectic life and managed the good stress.

Then heartbreaking stress caught up with us as our aging parents declined in health. I gladly poured out my life caring for them.

Increasing, daily challenges drained my time and energy, taking an emotional toll, and weariness sent me to the Lord.

“What about my needs? Doesn’t anybody care about my needs?”

He surprised me with an answer.

“And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19).

I’d always viewed that familiar promise as assurance he would meet my physical, financial, and spiritual needs. A gentle voice in my spirit said, “I will supply your emotional needs. That frees you to meet the needs of your family.”

It was a jaw-dropping moment.

The Lord continued encouraging my heart with these words: “…as your days, so shall your strength be” (Deuteronomy 33:25).

My circumstances didn’t change, only my perspective.

When you’re weary and feeling your needs aren’t getting met, consider having a conversation with yourself.

  • God placed me here—in this family, in these circumstances—on purpose. He thought I had something to contribute. He surely has a lot of confidence to entrust me with such a complicated assignment.
  • I feel inadequate, but I’ll never be stronger than I am right now because God is my strength. And he won’t be stronger tomorrow.
  • The One who engraved me on the palms of his hands (Isaiah 49:16) is fully able to supply all my needs. Knowing that, I needn’t depend on anyone else for this impossible provision.

Many years have passed since the Lord interrupted my pity party with an amazing promise. He met my needs and renewed my strength day by day, enabling me to pour out my life with joy, serving my precious family.

Circumstances are temporary. Our parents are in heaven and our children have left the nest. I look back on those challenging times with gratitude for the faithfulness of God.

“Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint” (Isaiah 40:28-31).

I’ve never regretted the decision to trust him to supply my needs. He’s surpassed my expectations. 

Who are you depending on to meet your needs?

Dianne Barker is a speaker, radio host and author of 11 books, including the best-selling Twice Pardoned. This post is adapted from I Don’t Chase the Garbage Truck Down the Street in My Bathrobe Anymore! Organizing for the Maximum Life. She’s a member of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, Christian Authors Network, and Christian Women in Media Association. Visit www.diannebarker.com.)

Graphic adapted, courtesy of Engin_Akyurt, Pixabay.

Thursday
Jan192017

Have You Been Skimpy with Gratitude?

Dianne Barker is a super-practical woman of God who cares about relationships. In this Marriage UPGRADE, she offers practical wisdom for better spousal interaction (but the basic premise of expressing gratitude is true for all relationships).

"Marriage can bring out the worst in us," Dianne says.

I (Dawn) don't think anyone will dispute that. While marriage has the potential to grow and bless us, it certainly does point out all the rough spots in our character. Dianne's post today is a good way to deal with some of those "worst in us" days.

Dianne continues . . . 

In younger days, when things didn’t go my way, I’d “have it out” with my husband—in my thoughts. I didn’t dare put my annoyance into words, but in my mind I gave him a hearty tongue-lashing. He had no idea.

And then I’d silently settle my ruffled feelings and sulk a while.

One day the Lord caught me sulking over a disappointed expectation and interrupted my pity party.

You could be praying about bigger things.

I’ve heard the stories.

  • Husband leaves a devoted wife for someone else.
  • Another wife struggles to stay with a husband addicted to pornography.
  • Huge challenges overwhelm the grieving widow.

Yes. I could be praying about bigger things.

I wasted a lot of life pouting over small irritations—wishing I could change this husband of mine. The Lord has a way of putting things in perspective.

Instead of letting marriage bring out the worst in me, I decided to let it bring out the best.

Two choices changed me from the inside out: prayer and praise. I learned to pray about what my husband isn’t, and praise him for what he is.

Grumbling about everything he does wrong isn’t beneficial. Praying—taking concerns to my Father—is a positive use of emotional energy wasted on anger and pouting, which never bring change.

I looked for reasons to praise my husband, express appreciation, and compliment him. I wasn’t sure he noticed until I overheard him say to a friend, “My wife has a gift of encouragement. She brags about everything I do!”

Why not thank him for carrying out the garbage, mowing the lawn, filling my gas tank, and changing the oil?

A heart overflowing with praise and gratitude to the Lord can’t help expressing gratefulness in other relationships.

Listen to this.

“Just as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so go on living in him—in simple faith. Yes, be rooted in him and founded upon him, continually strengthened by the faith as you were taught it and your lives will overflow with joy and thankfulness” (Colossians 2:6-7, Phillips).

Marriage needs constant nourishment. Does your relationship suffer the tatters of neglect?

Like a soothing ointment on a raw wound, gratitude promotes healing.

Begin here:

  • List seven qualities about your spouse to praise God for daily (character qualities, talents, good deeds, spiritual commitment, love for the children, sacrificial work, financial contribution to the family).
  • Pray, thanking the Lord daily for each of those qualities.
  • Verbalize to your spouse at least one genuine compliment every day. “Honey, I really appreciate…” (a deed performed, wisdom shown, patience extended).
  • Express affection every day through words and touch. Say “I love you” and hug each morning before leaving for work. Say “I missed you” and hug each evening after work.
  • Find time to cuddle. If you’ve been ignoring each other, this may feel awkward. Do it anyway. God intended for us to enjoy marriage, not merely endure it.

Going overboard with gratitude will bring out the best in you!

Have you been skimpy with gratitude? If you're married, why not try these five steps to "overboard gratitude" today?

Dianne Barker is a speaker, radio host and author of 11 books, including the best-selling Twice Pardoned and award-winning I Don’t Chase the Garbage TruckDown the Street in My Bathrobe Anymore! Organizing for the Maximum Life. She’s a member of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, Christian Authors Network, and Christian Women in Media. (Post adapted from Help! I’m Stuck and I Can’t Get Out! The Maximum Marriage Maintenance and Repair Kit, available soon at www.diannebarker.com.)

Graphic adapted, courtesy of Ben White, Morguefile.

Thursday
Apr142016

Thugs Are Trying to Kill Your Marriage

Dianne Barker INVESTS her live in women, encouraging them in their lives and families and teaching them how to live an abundant life. In this Marriage UPGRADE, she points out some nasty "thugs" trying to destroy our marriages!

"Watch out!" she says. "Snares, Tares, and Tumbleweeds are out to kill your marriage!"

Snares, tares and tumbleweeds? I (Dawn) wonder what she means? She certainly got my attention.

Dianne continues . . .

Who ARE those thugs?

Stress ... wearing many disguises.

And if you’re not careful, they’ll bludgeon your marriage to death.

Let’s remove the masks and see who’s there.

1. SNARES

Snares are things that entangle us or impede our progress—daily-living stuff that keeps us distracted.

(1) Job pressures.

When both husband and wife have high-stress careers, the pressure doubles—project overload and deadlines, continued training, personality conflicts in the office, irresponsibility or jealousy of co-workers, irritability when overlooked for promotion, indecision about changing jobs, hassles of a job search and moving to a new location. And don’t forget the stress of getting fired or laid off due to downsizing.

Physical and mental exhaustion come home from work with you, sit at your dinner table, and accompany you to bed.

(2) Financial pressure.

Living within our means may be an out-of-date concept. We don’t have to do that anymore, thanks to the availability of credit cards.

Overspending catapults us into deep water before we can say “credit score.”

When that bulging budget cannot be balanced, distress and dissension cast a permeating gloom over your home and family.

(3) Outside relationships.

Relationships with other people affect the marriage. When we’re angry or distracted over a disagreement or misunderstanding with someone else—boss, co-worker, neighbor, relative, child’s teacher, friend—we become preoccupied and irritable. And if your mother-in-law provokes you, those feelings of annoyance can spill over to your husband. He’s just like his mother!

Anger and resentment, like a contagious disease, ­­infect all who come in contact with you.

(4) Special circumstances.

Care-giving is inevitable in the later years of marriage. Elderly parents decline in health. Couples are stretched to the limit, trying to maintain normal life with added responsibility, possibly while dealing with health issues themselves. Many also find themselves rearing grandchildren.

There isn’t enough energy to go around…and the marriage becomes the sacrifice.

2. TARES

Tares are the work of our unseen Enemy whose goal is to destroy us, using every tactic he can come up with.

His favorite tools include misunderstanding, weariness, and negative thinking.  

3. TUMBLEWEEDS

Tumbleweeds are children, rooted in our family briefly then whisked by the wind to distant places. With immeasurable love, we pour out our lives for them.

Stress during their young years—teaching obedience and refereeing sibling spats—doesn’t compare with the stress of parenting teenagers. Be aware of the power of peer influence.

Stand firm, parents, or the kids will divide you.

Are snares, tares, and tumbleweeds weakening your marriage foundation and boosting your stress load to infinity-plus?

Don’t give up on the marriage. Evaluate. Eliminate the stress you can eliminate. Simplify. Do less. Say no.

Begin paring down your stress to what seems a manageable level. And then hand it to Jesus because you’re not able to manage it at any level.

He said, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for our souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).

He can handle those thugs!

A final question: How are you dealing with stress in all its disguises?

Dianne Barker is a speaker, radio host and author of 11 books, including the best-selling Twice Pardoned and award-winning I Don’t Chase the Garbage TruckDown the Street in My Bathrobe Anymore! Organizing for the Maximum Life. She’s a member of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, Christian Authors Network, and Christian Women in Media. 

(Post adapted from Help! I’m Stuck and I Can’t Get Out! The Maximum Marriage Maintenance and Repair Kit, available soon at www.diannebarker.com.)

Graphic adapted, courtesy of Pixabay.com.

Thursday
Oct012015

The Marriage Marathon: Finishing Well

In this Marriage UPGRADE, Dianne Barker shares some practical ways to face the things that bother us in our marriages.

“Here’s the big irritation in marriage,” Dianne says. “I don’t like you and I can’t change you.”

That would make me laugh, but I (Dawn) remember a few painful days in my own marriage when I thought that same thing. Haven’t you?

Dianne continues:

Why would anyone marry a person they don’t like?

During our two-year courtship, love, youth and ignorance hid the “red flags.” Both of us projected our best to impress and please each other. We managed to conceal major flaws all the way to the altar.

Marriage—living together 24/7—exposed our major personality differences, and I noticed James had a few characteristics I didn’t like. I got the impression he didn’t like me so much either.

We grabbed our tools and started to work, thinking we could actually change each other.

I can smile now, sorting through the attic of fifty years of spouse-improvement projects covered with dust. None of my attempts to change my husband worked, nor did his attempts to change me—although both of us had good intentions and determination.

Change came in my life, my marriage and my husband when I set my own heart to seek the Lord and obey Him.

Concentrating on my responsibility—to accept my husband, love and pray for him, and leave the results to God—brought astonishing change … in me. It began with one verse. “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer” (Psalm 19:14).

My seeking the Lord has nothing to do with any other person or circumstance. As I learned to apply His Word to my daily walk, I discovered my obedience took care of many issues. My anger is my issue with the Lord. My critical spirit is my issue with the Lord. My stinkin’ attitude is my issue with the Lord.

If my husband has an anger problem, a critical spirit, a stinkin’ attitude, his issues are with the Lord, not me. I can do nothing about that except pray and respond to him in a Christ-like way.

When I became concerned with my individual, personal walk of obedience, I discovered doing what God says not only made me happy but also blessed my marriage. My sole responsibility is pleasing my Father’s heart.

Is your spouse all you desire? You cannot make your husband be kind, ambitious, or skinny. If you’re waiting for him to become all you desire before obeying the Lord, I have bad news. That won’t happen. God calls us to follow him with our whole heart…then He will work.

But you can do something! Pray your spouse into “better.” The Prayer of Jabez is a good place to start: “Bless him a lot today, enlarge his territory, keep your hand on his life, and keep him from evil” (see 1 Chronicles 4:10).

If you really want to change your husband, try these tools. 

Marriage is a marathon. Finish well!

Which tool will you begin using today to change your marriage?

Dianne Barker is a speaker, radio host and author of 11 books, including the best-selling Twice Pardoned and award-winning I Don’t Chase the Garbage Truck Down the Street in My Bathrobe Anymore! Organizing for the Maximum Life. She’s a member of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, Christian Authors Network, and Christian Women in Media. (Post adapted from Help! I’m Stuck and I Can’t Get Out! The Maximum Marriage Maintenance and Repair Kit, available soon at www.diannebarker.com)

Graphic adapted, Image courtesy of photostock at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Tuesday
Jun232015

Differences Keep Marriage Interesting

In this Marriage UPGRADE, Dianne Barker opens up about her own marriage and what she and her husband learned about their “differences.”

“I tiptoed through the marriage minefield,” Dianne said, “until an epiphany changed everything.”

I (Dawn) think every marriage has a minefield, something that can explode into anger and bitterness, so I was eager to hear about Dianne’s “epiphany.”

Dianne continues . . .

Marriage is hard—for everybody. It’s that opposites attract thing.

My husband and I are as different as two people can be. He’s a perfectionist and totally focused while I tend to be disorganized and forgetful.

After checking the oil in my car, he said, “Next time you’re out, stop at the gas station and have one of the guys add a quart of oil.” A few days later he asked about the oil.

“I forgot—but I’ll get it when I’m out.” The thought never crossed my mind again.

The next week I stopped by his parents’ house, where he was working on their lawnmower. As I started to leave, he said, “Go to the gas station and get a quart of 10-W-30 oil.”

“Sure!” I said cheerily and went on my way. Two hours later he came home, agitated and snappy.

“What happened to the oil?”

“I had it put in the car.”

Given the preceding events, who would’ve thought the oil was for the lawnmower! Scowling his disapproval, he stomped out the door to take my car for a complete oil change—perfectionists don’t mix brands and weights.

Personality differences caused contention in our marriage from the beginning.

We had different perspectives about almost everything, and decision-making often ended in deadlock. To solve the matter, I’d agree to James’ decision, but struggle with lingering bitterness, feeling my opinion had received little respect.

Adding two children to the mix increased the frustration. We had to agree, even on small matters, concerning our kids. I couldn’t walk away and pout. Like a soldier in battle, I tried to dodge the minefield—issues that could prove explosive—until an epiphany changed our marriage:

Our conflicts mostly resulted from temperament differences, not malicious intent.

It’s as hard for my spouse to accept my differences as it is for me to accept his.

Although James and I had no training in conflict resolution, we had two factors in our favor. We loved the Lord and we wanted to please Him.

The epiphany led us to four choices that transformed our relationship.

1. Acceptance.

We determined to accept each other AS IS. Marriage requires living with another person’s strengths and weaknesses. Because I need God’s transforming touch, I can be patient with my husband’s imperfections. Acceptance reduces tension and builds friendship.

2. Appreciation.

Learning to appreciate our differences, we noticed the strengths of our opposite personalities actually balance and enrich our relationship. One personality isn’t superior.

God designed us with differences and brought us together to accomplish more for His kingdom than we could do alone. Verbalizing appreciation minimizes irritations and builds respect.

3. Application.

Applying Scripture to our daily walk, we practiced biblical relationship principles.

“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32).

“Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8).

Extending unlimited forgiveness and unconditional love brings healing and restoration.

4. Acknowledgment.

Recognizing our contribution to the conflict or misunderstanding, we learned to humble ourselves and ask for forgiveness. Christ said if we go to worship and remember someone holds an offense against us, we should go and be reconciled (Matthew 5:23-24). He didn’t mention who’s at fault.

Assuming responsibility and seeking forgiveness can nip bitterness before it takes root.

Pleasing our Lord has top priority. That takes care of many smaller issues.

What has top priority in your marriage?

Dianne Barker is a conference speaker, freelance journalist, radio host, and author of eleven books, including the 1986 best-seller Twice Pardoned. Her 2014 book, I Don’t Chase the Garbage Truck Down the Street in My Bathrobe Anymore! Organizing for the Maximum Life, won the Christian Authors Network Golden Scroll third-place award for non-fiction book of the year.

This post is adapted from Help! I’m Stuck and I Can’t Get Out! The Maximum Marriage Maintenance and Repair Kit, available soon at www.diannebarker.com.

T-shirts in adapted graphic designed by daleos.net.