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Friday, August 24, 2007

Stop, Drop, and Kiss!!

Stop, Drop, and Kiss
One small gesture sparked romantic evenings.
by Mandy Houk
A typical evening at five o'clock in our house would find me cooking dinner, my two small daughters desperately in need of a bath, and my ears perked, awaiting a magical sound—the garage door opener. This was the blessed signal that my husband, Pete, had arrived home from work. Yes! I'd think, mentally pumping my fist. Reinforcements!

As he came through the door, I'd give Pete a choice: "You want to make sure the rice doesn't boil over or get the girls in the tub?" And that was on a good day, when he walked in smiling.

If he dared to come home dragging and tired. … Well, game on, buddy. Get ready for the Exhaustion Olympics. "Oh, you would not believe the day I've had," I'd groan. "I did 14 loads of laundry, went to the grocery store, the post office, and the bank—not the ATM, mind you, the actual inside of the bank, standing for 45 minutes in that roped-off line." (Cue the dramatic sigh.) "You've got to help me with dinner; I'm about to keel over." So there.

Then our pastor began a series of messages on marriage. The first three focused on the husband's role. As I diligently took notes, I was struck by my great fortune in being married to Pete. He's tender, patient, tolerant of my insanity, generous, steadfast, loyal, and loving. By the third Sunday, I couldn't get all his wonderful qualities out of my mind. All day Monday I was preoccupied with the kind of thoughts I'd had when we were first falling in love. So when Pete arrived home that night, things weren't all that typical.

I was still cooking, and the girls were still filthy. But when I heard that garage door open, I didn't think, Reinforcements! I thought, Pete! As he rounded the corner into the kitchen, I dropped the spatula, turned, and gave him a hug and a kiss. Then I asked him to get the girls in the tub.

Later that evening, Pete told me he appreciated the way I'd greeted him. I was taken aback. Was the difference really dramatic enough to mention? I started to think, How do I normally treat him? As I mulled over my previous behavior, I realized I generally treated him like a roommate. Or on the Exhaustion Olympics days, like an adversary.

I didn't marry Pete to be my roommate. I chose him to be the love of my life. But I sure wasn't acting like it.

So the next day, I pulled out all the stops. Not only did I drop the spatula, I walked down the hall to greet him at the door. Pete isn't normally a big grinner. But his whole face crinkled into this amazing, toothy smile. For the rest of the evening, we were flirty and giggly. We even had a conversation over dinner, as opposed to simply refereeing our kids.

This was such a remarkable turn of events, Pete called our pastor the next day and reported me. My pastor then called me that afternoon and asked me to share my experience the following Sunday.

What was so significant about the spatula-dropping that inspired Pete not only to mention it to me, but to make a phone call to our clergyman? It had only been two days. When medicine works that quickly, they call it a wonder drug.
I asked Pete about it. After consideration, he said, "For those few moments, I was the top priority. There wasn't anything else going on, it was just you and me."

I pressed for more, but that really was it. His heart yearns for significance, attention, and acknowledgment, and my brazen act of dropping the spatula filled that need.

Apparently, Pete isn't alone. The Sunday after I told my story, the men were all abuzz. I was surrounded by smiling husbands, all slapping me on the back, shaking my hand, and thanking me for what I'd shared.

I'm not the only half of this couple who's changed her behavior. That's part of the magic of marriage: I reap the benefits of treating Pete better. Pete comes in the door much more quickly at the end of each day, and if I'm distracted and don't immediately acknowledge him, he gently interrupts me with a kiss and a smile. These tone-setting behaviors have had a ripple effect on our whole relationship. We remember that we chose each other all those years ago, which translates into habitual hand-holding, more frequent glances and hugs, and more attentiveness to each other. All of which remind us that we'd choose each other all over again.

Of course, these first two incidents of spatula-dropping happened when I was in a good mood. What about when I'm grumpy or genuinely tired? Do I still have to drop the spatula? Umm … yes. I chose Pete to be the love of my life, not the love of my good days. Sure, some days I can't work up a toothy grin. But as the honest-to-goodness love of my life, Pete deserves my eye contact, my attention, my smile. And that's a lot easier to accomplish without a spatula in my hand.

Mandy Houk, a freelance writer, has been married 14 years.Copyright © 2007 by the author or Christianity Today International/Marriage Partnership magazine.

Monday, August 20, 2007

The Last Leg of My Journey....Almost Complete!

Almost Home, as in...I'm in the home stretch and nearing completion of my responsibility for my upcoming novel, The Other Daughter.
I'm doing the final proof read this week and will have the corrected copy on my editor's desk by Wednesday. It should be heading off to get the print shop the first week of Sept., and will come back to Kregel's warehouse around October 15th, more or less. At that time, my author copies will ship to me, and Kregel will start shipping boxes to retailers and online suppliers. So if you've ordered a book online, assume you will probably get it toward the end of October.
I'm hoping to start nudging my sales numbers up on over the next few weeks. It's going to take all my friends help to do it, but I'd LOVE to hit in the top 50 titles on women's contemporary fiction. I'll need you lovely people to send out emails, post links from my blog to yours and point people to my web site:
And of course, it certainly won't hurt my feelings if you decide to order a copy for yourself and maybe one for a Christmas gift!
Leave a comment on this blog, or at my web site, to put your name in for another free book drawing.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Making Time For Love --- Part Two

Making Time For Love---Part Two
Coming into Your Own God's Way
We're starting to understand what we need to do. But it's much easier said than done. Changing our attitudes is not a simple, clear-cut process. In fact, it can get downright messy.
But God promises that when we seek Him first, everything else will be given to us as well. When we pray, "Change my heart—don't worry about him," everything else will fall into place.
Instead of asking, "What will bring me happiness and fulfillment?" ask, "How can I satisfy and complete my husband?" Instead of looking at sex through the lens of our own perceptions, let's try to look at sex through our husbands' eyes. And even beyond that, we need to look at sex from God's perspective. Instead of demanding our own way, saying, "I deserve to be loved the way I want to be loved," realize that sex is a gift. One that we sinful humans don't deserve to receive from a holy God.
At this point we could ask, "Who's going to look out for me if I don't? I don't want to lose my identity by constantly serving someone else. I am my own person, after all.
Well, Paul seems to think that we can't truly come into our own until we die to ourselves and find our identity somewhere else—namely in Christ. Galatians 2 makes this crystal-clear.
It's inexplicable, but who we are becomes even more individual, real, and beautiful when we deny our own desires and serve others. The world has it backward putting someone else's needs before your own means you're strong, not weak.
We can't do this on our own, however. As Paul says in Romans 7, "I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out." You'll hear me chanting this refrain throughout the pages of this book. We desperately need God's help.
Surrender to Him and let His Spirit work in your heart. Ask Him to give you the strength, energy, determination, and desire to begin meeting your husband's physical needs more often and more willingly.
Sometimes our feelings will get hurt, and our sex drive will shut down. We won't want sex until everything is right. When things aren't perfect, though, we desperately need God yet again. He promises He'll be there to help us.If you're anything like me, there have been plenty of times when you prayed halfheartedly for something, not believing that God would actually come through for you or even bother listening to your prayer.
We're told in James chapter 1 that we will face trials. But if we ask in faith--if we believe and not doubt God will give us wisdom generously. (I'm sure the trials James speaks of include those of marriage.) But when we ask for something and don't really believe God can accomplish it, we're like "a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind."
Praying for a renewed sexual relationship with your husband will always be in line with God's wisdom and His perfect will for your life. And when you pray in complete faith, He promises to answer, as Jesus indicates in Matthew 21.
Ask your God for a complete sexual relationship makeover. He will give you sexual desire even when it seems like an impossible request. But you have to ask. And believe with all your heart even if you can't see or understand how it will all play out that the results will be amazing.
Taken from Is That All He Thinks About?: How to Enjoy Great Sex with Your Husband by Marla Taviano. Published by Harvest House Copyright © 2007 Marla Taviano. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

New Parenting Book!!

Hey folks, this is in keeping with marriage, family and parenting, and is a book I think you'll enjoy.
It's by Mary DeMuth, a wonderful Christian author who excells in both ficion and Non-fiction. I'm posting an interview with Mary below, as well as a picture of both Mary and her new book. I'll post the ordering info as well as a link to Mary's web site in a couple of days, so be sure you check back.

Why did you write this book? Aren’t there already a bazillion parenting books out there?
Yes, I do believe there are a bazillion. I always struggle when I write a parenting book because I feel so darned small and weak. I don’t parent perfectly. But, we did live through two and half years in France, the hotbed of hyper-postmodernity. We had to learn how to parent our kids in that culture. It occurred to me that the things we learned would be helpful to American parents too.
What does postmodern mean? And why should it matter to parents?Postmodernism is the waiting room between what used to be a modern worldview and what will be. According to several postmodern scholars, we’re in a shift right now, leaving modern ideas behind, but what we are shifting to is not yet fully defined.
Postmoderns believe that rationalism and/or more education doesn’t necessarily create a better society. They typically don’t embrace the notion of absolute truth, though they reach for the transcendent. They are skeptical, and often question whether science is something to be embraced or feared.
The question for parents is how will we mine the current worldview, even as it shifts? What in it can we embrace as biblical? What is not biblical? What I’ve seen in the church is a fearful adherence to what is familiar. So we cling to modern ideas, even though they may not be biblical and shun postmodern ideas even when they might be biblical. Our children will meet this shifting worldview no matter what our opinion of it is.
How can a parent help their children prepare for the world outside their door?Become a conversational parent.
Talk to your kids. Listen. Share your story.Dare to believe that God has much to teach you through your kids. Be humble enough to learn from them.
Create a haven for your kids, an oasis in your home that protects, supports, and gives kids space to be themselves. Take seriously the mandate that you are responsible for the soul-nurturing of your children.
Teach your children to joyfully engage their world, while holding tightly to Jesus’ hand. Teaching this comes primarily from modeling it in your own life. Do you engage your neighbors? Are you more interested in God’s kingdom than your own? Admit your failures openly with your children, showing how much you need Jesus to live your daily life.
You are the first to admit that being authentic might require a parent to apologize after an angry outburst. Are you saying that authentic parents don’t always have it all together as some would like to think?
Yep! We are all frail, needy humans. If we present ourselves as perfect parents, never failing, always doing this correctly, we show our children we have no need of Jesus. We also set up a standard of perfection—that to be a Christian, one has to be perfect. This can lead to our children creating elaborate facades or hiding behind masks. I’d rather have my children see that even mommies make mistakes. Even mommies need Jesus every single day.
You talk about the twin values of engagement and purity. What does that mean?
Many parents subconsciously believe that true parenting means protection at any cost. We received a lot of flak for putting our children in French schools because the atmosphere there wasn’t exactly nurturing. Believe me, the decision was excruciating. But through it all, I realized that Jesus calls us all to be engaged in the culture we live in, yet not to be stained by it. That’s the beauty of engagement and purity.
Abraham understood this. After God told him to leave everything and venture to a new place, he obeyed: “From there he went on toward the hills east of Bethel and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east. There he built an altar to the LORD and called on the name of the LORD” (Genesis 12:8). Oswald Chambers elaborates: “Bethel is the symbol of communion with God; Ai is the symbol of the world. Abraham pitched his tent between the two.” As parents journeying alongside our children through a postmodern world, this concept of pitching our tent between communion with God and engagement in the world should encourage us.
What bugs you about postmodernism?
I happen to believe in absolute truth, so that’s a problem! But more than that, I worry that all our rambling about it, trying to discern what it is, has caused us to rely more heavily on our own intellectual pursuit of God than our heart. When I get caught up in that, I remind myself of my friend Jeanne’s son Jacob, whose heart after Jesus takes my breath away. Living with a brain injury, Jacob throws off pretense as he worships God, arms vaulted to the sky in unashamed heart worship. That’s the kind of believer I want to be. That’s the kind of heart I want. I love this verse: “But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:3). For me, for my children, that’s my prayer, that we’d be simply and purely devoted to Jesus no matter what worldview we find ourselves in.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Making Time For Love

Making Time for Making Love

By Marla Taviano

I'm a list-maker, a go-getter, a type A, a Martha, a busybody. Call me what you will. So much to do, so little time.Sure, sex is on my to-do list. Somewhere, I think. It's just not close enough to the top to make it into my day most of the time.

If we're honest with ourselves, we'll admit we can always make time for the things we really want to do. It's all about choices. What do I choose to do with the 24 hours I'm given each day?

Picture this: On my desk I have two piles. One is a stack of bills to pay and papers to file. The other "pile" has just one item in it—the latest Christian chick-lit novel by my favorite author.I have one hour available. If I pick up the book and say, "I just don't have time to pay the bills today," am I being truthful?

And when I say, "I'd love to have sex more often, but I'm just too busy," am I being truthful? Making time for sex doesn't depend so much on my schedule and circumstances as it does on my attitude.

Now, of course you don't have the time (especially if you have kids), and you probably won't find the time to do it either. You have to make time for sex.

What things are robbing you of time that could be spent with your husband? Television? Novels and magazines? Your cell phone? The computer? Your writing career? (Ahem.) When these choices interfere with intimacy with our spouse, we're being selfish and foolish, plain and simple.

I have come to realize something amazing. So amazing, in fact, that there's not a chance you'll believe me until you try it. Sex takes time, yes, but when I'm having it regularly, I actually get more done. Life runs more smoothly. I have a calming sense of peace and happiness. Honestly and truly—I am not making this up.

That's not an accident. It's the way God works. It's like the object lesson with the Mason jar, the golf balls and the gravel. If I put the gravel in first, the golf balls won't fit. But if I put the golf balls in the jar first, then the gravel fits nicely all around it. Same with sex. When I make time to make love like God commands me to do, He'll take care of all the other stuff. He really will. I just have to trust Him enough to put everything aside and have intimate time with my spouse.

The bottom line is, we can always make time for the things (and people) that are most important to us. Make it your goal to show your husband you love him by giving him nice-sized chunks of your valuable time.

Part Two Next Time!

Taken from Is That All He Thinks About?: How to Enjoy Great Sex with Your Husband by Marla Taviano. Published by Harvest House Copyright © 2007 Marla Taviano. All rights reserved. Used by permission


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