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Entries in Identity in Christ (3)

Thursday
Jun142018

The ABCs to Curing Marital Complacency

I have grown to greatly respect Cindi McMenamin for her biblical foundation and practical expressions of help for women in the body of Christ. Though this article runs in June—when so many are focused on new love and weddings—in this Marriage UPGRADE, Cindi encourages women who have been married for a while and might need some encouragement.

Cindi asks, "Would you describe your marriage as fresh, passionate, and continuing to grow? Or could it be described as stale, stunted, and maybe even a bit moldy?"

I (Dawn) don't think I've ever heard a marriage described as "moldy" before, but it sure got my attention! Who wants a moldy marriage?

Cindi continues . . .

You don’t have to be newly married to experience a healthy, vibrant marriage. In fact, yours can improve with a few adjustments to curb the complacency and keep the home fires burning. 

I know what you might be thinking:

But, so much has changed since we first married.

Or maybe you’re thinking:

I don’t feel attractive around him anymore. In fact, I feel that he barely even notices me.

Those thoughts you have not only have been mine at one time, but they’ve belonged to hundreds of other wives who have written to me over the past 15 years about their frustrations and complaints. And as I sorted through them, I related to many of them, as well.

There were nights I would lie awake next to my husband, who was sleeping in sweet oblivion, and wonder how to turn back the clock and make him see me the way he once did – as the captivating woman he fell in love with.

So many times I wished I could have back that man I married—have him treat me the same way he used to.

And then I realized there was only one way to have that back.

BE the woman I was, and do the things I did when I first captured his heart.

In Revelation 2, The Apostle John records a vision of Christ saying to a First Century church:

You have forsaken the love you had at first. Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first” (verses 4-5).

While that was written in the context of early Christians and their complacency toward Christ, it can be applied to our marriages today.

God is not the only One who recognizes when our enthusiasm for Him has waned.

Our husbands recognize it, too.

They once received our admiration, our smiles from across the room, and our unwavering attention. Then life happened.

Children came.
Work called.
We gained a few pounds.
And a million distractions.

And before we knew it, complacency set in.

In my book, 12 Ways to Experience More with Your Husband, I show wives how to BE and REMAIN the woman their husbands fell in love with so they can experience more in their marriage.

  • More trust.
  • More passion.
  • More communication.
  • More understanding.
  • More forgiveness.

And more of what you didn’t realize your marriage was capable of.

Every relationship needs do-overs or fresh starts.

Here’s yours.

Go back to the basics by following these ABCs.

They will help you curb the complacency in your marriage and start down the road toward removing the baggage and rebuilding love with your husband.

A – ACCEPT the fact that your husband cannot meet all your emotional needs.

Your husband was not meant to fulfill you in every way. 

You must find your acceptance, security, sense of worth, and identity in who God says you are.

As you begin to take that tremendous expectation off of your husband and see who you are in the eyes of your Creator and heavenly Father, you will gain the kind of confidence that exudes beauty and elicits pursuit.

[But if your man doesn’t follow suit, you have done what you need to do to be more able and stable to deal with whatever comes (or doesn’t come) your way—*see note below.]

B – BE the helper he needs you to be.

In Genesis 2:18, we see that God designed woman to be man’s “helper.”

When our focus shifts to “how can my husband help ME?”—and we insist on being needed, appreciated, encouraged and affirmed—we are no longer helping. We are clinging to—and in some ways crippling—our husbands.

Personally, I have found that I am far more fulfilled when I am focusing on being my husband’s helper and companion, than when I’m accidentally being his complainer and crippler.

C – CULTIVATE a “new bride” attitude.

Remember when you were a brand new bride?

  • You couldn’t wait until you and your new husband got off work so the two of you could be together again.
  • You constantly checked your voice mail messages to see if he had called during the day.
  • You had a special sparkle in your eyes when you talked of him and a spring in your step when you walked alongside him.

There isn’t a woman on earth who doesn’t want her husband to continue to treat her like he did when they first married.

But what if we returned to the “new wife” syndrome and starting treating and responding to our husbands the way we once did?

Remember what it was about him that made you fall in love with him, and then ask God to give you back that loving feeling for him.

If you’re waiting for your husband to do something different to win back your heart, I guarantee he will when YOU start responding to him like you once did when you were a brand new bride. 

Which of these ABCs will you focus on this week so you can curb the complacency in your marriage?

Cindi McMenamin is a national speaker, certified Writing Coach, and author of 16 books including When Couples Walk Together (which she co-authored with Hugh, her husband of 30 years), Drama Free, and  12 Ways to Experience More with Your Husband, upon which this article is based. For more on her resources to strengthen your walk with God, your marriage, or your parenting, see her website: www.StrengthForTheSoul.com.

* For more on how to draw closer to God and see Him as your spiritual Husband who can meet all your needs—thereby freeing up your spouse from your emotional expectations—see Cindi's book, Letting God Meet Your Emotional Needs.

 

Thursday
Sep282017

Your Position in the Family

Kolleen Lucariello is a gifted writer who greatly desires to help Christians understand their identity in Christ. In this Spiritual Growth UPGRADE, she encourages us to "live loved."

"When I was seven-years-old my parents adopted a little girl from Korea who bore the name of Park Sun Duk," Kolleen says. "I remember scanning over the pictures of children provided by the adoption agency until the face of a little girl captured our attention. It was love at first sight!"

I (Dawn) always wanted to adopt a child; the Lord didn't have that in His plans for me. But adoption has always been dear to my heart, and I love the picture of God adopting us into His family. So I appreciate this powerful encouragement.

Kolleen continues…

In early April, after months of waiting, our family of five piled into our borrowed grandfather’s car and took off for the eight-hour-trip to the Chicago airport soon to become a family of six.

I only remember bits and pieces of the trip, but one thing I recall is how extremely excited we were to meet our new sister.

When she finally appeared, I could not take my eyes off of her. She was the cutest baby I had ever seen, and boy, did we show her off.

Once she was placed in my mother’s arms, a new name, as well as a new life, awaited her. She was now Kara Louise, a member of the Okerlund family. I loved her instantly.

Of course, like most families—I won’t say all, as there actually may be some families who never experience sibling stuff—but like most, we had our sibling squabbles. As the baby of the family, she could drive me crazy; as cute as she was, she was also just as stubborn. But I loved her. 

Throughout the years, we’ve clashed and had our share of disagreements, but I never stopped loving her. We’ve had moments of contention and seasons of silence, but through every emotion and every moment, I’ve continuously loved her.

The funny thing is, regardless of how loved she was, she never fully believed or accepted the love of her adoptive family.

It didn't matter how much we spoke it, tried to show it, or showered love upon her, she just had a very hard time living life loved by us. Simply because she was adopted.

She had moved in, but continually struggled to fully accept that our parents’ love for her was the same regardless of the origin of her birth.

Because of this struggle, she never completely felt secure in her identity as an Okerlund.

I imagine Father God’s heart breaks for His own adopted children who fail to experience the fullness of His love.

Many move in, but continue to live in doubt, wondering how God could love them. We refuse to accept His perfect love based on our simple understanding of love, not His.

Through faith we've been adopted into His family, yet, for some reason, we struggle to feel secure in our new identity as a believer in Jesus.

What a tragedy to reject this kind of love.

In June my sister slipped from her earthly home into her heavenly one, and I believe her struggle to live loved finally ended.

Now, in the presence of Jesus, she is fully aware of the extent of what real love is.

While my heart always broke for her battle here, it now rejoices for her as she finds rest in the fullness of God’s love.

But, why wait? Trust His love is for you, now.

You UPGRADE your life when you:

1. ACCEPT your new identity in Christ!

“Anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun” (2 Corinthians 5:17, NLT)!

Your new identity awaits you. Change your name. You are now a child of God!

2. BELIEVE the celebration is for you!

Jesus said there’s great rejoicing in heaven over the lost sinner who returns home (Luke 15:7).

Share in the excitement. Rejoice in your salvation! Let Him show you off!

3. CLAIM your position in the family!

“God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure” (Ephesians 1:5, NLT).

It doesn’t matter where you’ve come from, when you move in with Christ, you are home.

“And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise” (Galatians 3:29, NKJV).

You’ve captured the attention of God. Now it’s time to move into His plans for your life.

What thinking must you overcome to accept, believe and claim your position in the family of Christ and live loved?

Kolleen Lucariello, #TheABCGirl, is the author of the devotional book, The ABC’s of Who God Says I Am. Kolleen and her high school sweetheart, Pat, reside in Central New York. She’s a mother of three married children and Mimi to four incredible grandkids. She desires to help others find their identity in Christ, one letter at a time. Read more from Kolleen on her website.

Family photos from Kolleen.

Thursday
Feb162017

Are You Really Addiction-free?

Surviving and thriving after numerous trials, Yvonne Ortega speaks words of wisdom to women who hurt and struggle. In this "Choices" UPGRADE, she encourages women to break free from their addictions.

Yvonne asks, “When you think about addiction, do you imagine a drunk person, who slurs his words, stumbles, and smells of alcohol? Perhaps you visualize a drug addict in a questionable neighborhood selling family possessions to buy illegal drugs."

Because I (Dawn) have faced few "addictions" of my own—like obsession with food—I know addictions can overwhelm anyone. But I also know from experience: we can break free!

There truly is hope!

Yvonne continues . . .

You may think that if you don’t drink or smoke, you are addiction-free.

  • However, you may be addicted to food, such as sugar.

Can you make a meal out of candy, cookies or cake? Do you stop at the store, buy a half-gallon of ice cream, and eat it in one sitting? You may be obese. You eat when you worry, get bored, or can’t cope with grief or some other pain. Rather than talk with a trusted friend, mentor, or counselor, you eat.

Philippians 3:19 addresses this problem and says, “Their god is their stomach” (NIV).

  • Perhaps you go shopping to cope.

Your father verbally, physically or sexually abused you as a child. You held in the anger and pain of that abuse, but turned to shopping to cope. Now if someone hurts you, you go shopping.

Until you face that pain, you will stay addicted to shopping. 

  • Maybe you’re a slave to perfectionism.

If you invite guests to your home, your house will be in perfect order inside and out. You’ll probably clean the windows too. You’ll serve a homemade meal and wear the perfect outfit and have every hair in place.

Your addiction to perfectionism won’t allow you to relax, enjoy your guests, or life for that matter.

  • If you choose unhealthy relationships, you might date an alcoholic, a batterer, or a gambler.

As one woman said, “My boyfriend doesn’t have a job, but he has a motorcycle. He’s exciting.” As she talked about the different men she dated, she said, “My parents never liked any of them, but they were fun—even the one who ruined my credit.”

She was addicted to unhealthy men and wanted to help them. She needed help to improve her self-confidence.

How can you BREAK FREE from addiction?

1. Admit that you use an escape mechanism to avoid reality.

James 5:16 says, “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”

It’s not enough to admit the addiction to yourself.

Do so to a pastor, a Christian counselor, or to a Christian recovery group. Confession and prayer will help you. 

2. Establish accountability.

The devil wants you crippled with guilt, shame, and secrecy.

Psalm 34:5 says, “Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame” (NIV).

When you meet weekly with your pastor or counselor, you set up accountability. This is comparable to a sponsor in a 12-step group. 

3. Know who you are in Christ.

Find Bible verses about your identity in Christ, such as Ephesians 2:10 (NIV):

“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

Each day repeat those verses often.

Once you believe with your heart and soul who you are, the relief from addiction won’t entice you.

What will you do this week to break free from addiction?

Yvonne Ortega is a licensed professional counselor, a bilingual professional speaker, and the author of Moving from Broken to Beautiful® through Forgiveness, Moving from Broken to Beautiful: 9 Life Lessons to Help You Move Forward (both in paperback, Kindle) and Finding Hope for Your Journey through Breast Cancer (Kindle), all available at amazon.com/books. She not only survived but thrived after a domestic violence marriage, breast cancer, and the loss of her only child. With honesty and humor, Yvonne uses personal examples and truths of the Bible to help women move from broken to beautiful. Learn more about Yvonne at her website.

Graphic adapted, courtesty of TeeTasse, Pixabay.