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Ready

10 Sep
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Back in early 2009, a little over 2 years into my marriage, we were headed for disaster.  In an effort to save my marriage, I completed The Love Dare and blogged the whole thing.  It was a life-changing experience for me even though it didn’t do much for my marriage.  I gained a testimony of Jesus Christ through that experience.  I learned about the pure love of Christ through that experience.  And I eventually learned that I cannot control someones choices, only my own.  I don’t think it’s a coincidence that a few months later, I met missionaries and became a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

Two years ago, I had the opportunity to attend a special stake fireside in Amarillo.  The topic that night was Christ-like relationships.  The speaker was a church-employed counselor for that area, and I appreciated his honesty and frankness.  At the time, I hadn’t dated in a little over 6 months.  I had decided to focus solely on my spiritual health for a time.

I went by myself, having only been in town for a week.  I took fervent notes and hung onto every word.  That night, I was looking through the lens of a recently-divorced woman who felt very confused about how my marriage had gone so wrong.

I was looking for answers, for understanding.  For peace, but also for hope that I could keep from repeating the past in future relationships.  As I listened with an eager and open heart, I was humbled to realize mistakes that I had made and just how unloving I had been at times…  Just how selfish I had been at times.  How demanding.  Yes, I felt sorrow, but more than that, I felt resolve to change.

To truly have a Christ-like relationship, you have to be able to be selfless.  You have to be willing to love unconditionally and sacrifice for your family.  You have to be willing to trust that your partner will do the same.

This has been my greatest concern…  Was it possible for me?  Could I be that trusting?  Could I be that selfless?  Could I love unconditionally?

As I mentioned the other day, I’ve been working on overcoming my issues.  When you don’t have your needs met as a young child, you learn how to meet your own needs.  You learn how to protect yourself from harm.  In some ways, these are really good things.  In some ways, they can hurt our relationships with other people.  For instance, it can lead you to be a pretty selfish person.  You are more concerned about protecting yourself and taking care of yourself than you are others.  It’s a survival skill that helped you when you were young, but you don’t need it anymore.

It isn’t something you can just turn off, but with work and faith it can be changed.  With the help of our Heavenly Father, we can access the gift of the atonement.  We can overcome the sins that have been made against us.

Recently, I’ve wondered, am I ready?  (Which really means, am I capable of creating and maintaining a Christ-like relationship)  Honestly, I haven’t been sure.

This weekend, I was able to visit the San Antonio Temple and took the opportunity to pray in the Celestial room.  When I asked if I was ready to be married, I received an answer that was full of love and promise.  “You will be.”  Then this lesson from The Love Dare came to mind.

It’s amazing how some things in our lives come full-circle.

I realized that I’m ready to make the choice to love. I’m ready because I’ve made peace with the past.  I’m ready because I understand that Christ-like love is not something that comes very naturally or easily to us.  It takes humility and prayer and effort, but it is possible.  I’m ready because I know there will be tough times, no matter how righteous I am.  I’m ready because I have faith in His plan for my life.

I can do this.

No More Faking It

6 Dec

Random picture of my little Christmas tree!

Yesterday was quite a day.  I woke up to snow which was cool.  I had to head into Lubbock early because I had to get set up for a temp job I was going to work Tuesday and Wednesday and I also had an interview later in the afternoon.  I had all of these glorious plans to get so many things done.  The streets didn’t look bad at all, so I made no adjustments before I headed out around 6:30am.

This is where I have to stop and give a little geography lesson.  Lubbock, TX sits on top of a caprock which is why it’s so flat, but you get  a little ways out of town and you head down into canyons where it’s anything BUT flat.  Post, TX is just down off of the caprock.  As soon as I got up that hill and onto the caprock, I knew I was in trouble.  ICE.  EVERYWHERE.  But I pressed forward.  There was a path worn in the road already and I was just going to take it slow and steady.  I traveled about 10 miles when I guess I got a little too confident.

The car in front of me kept slowing down for no apparent reason, so I decided to gently pass her.  I guess I forgot that my tires are nearly bald and need to be replaced.  As I was merging back in front of her, I started to skid.

I grew up in this weather!  I know how to handle a skid…  I took my foot off the gas like I was supposed to but it felt like the car accelerated anyway which made me panic.  I started overcorrecting and when I started spinning I hit the brakes flinging me off the road and down into a plowed cotton field.  I basically did everything I shouldn’t have done.  AND I felt like an idiot.  All of it was totally my own dang fault.

My car was perpendicular to traffic and I was facing an embankment that was super steep and about as tall as my vehicle.  I’ll spare all the details but a very nice gentleman tried to help me but was unsuccessful.  I tried using my emergency roadside assistance with Geico but they couldn’t get any tow trucks out in the snowstorm.  Eventually, a State Trooper came to my rescue and spent quite a bit of time getting me back on the highway.  He then scolded me for the condition of my tires and sent me back to Post.

I was going to try to salvage the day by working on Christmas gifts so I checked me bank acct only to find a mystery charge on my acct from Blockbuster.  I knew that my card was associated with the Blockbuster acct that we always used back in Corpus Christi, so this required a call to him.

I hate having to call him.  I hate the fact that I want to talk to him as much as I do.  I hate the fact that it makes me feel better to hear his voice.  I hate the fact that it is also excrutiatingly painful- like opening newly scabbed wounds.  We took care of the business at hand but then I just couldn’t get off the phone yet.  We ended up having a long conversation and I felt a little better when it was over.

In my Thanksgiving post, I mentioned that I was going to “fake it til I make it” when it came to being grateful for my marriage and him.  He and I had previously talked about how I honestly didn’t know what I had gained from the 7+ years that we were together because even memories are tainted now with questions.  But I admitted to him last night that I know for certain one blessing that came from our time together.  My relationship with Jesus Christ.

It was through my desparation that I began looking for answers, resolutions to our problems.  It was in that state that I discovered The Love Dare.  It was through that book and the work it had me do, that I gained my first testimony of Jesus Christ.  It’s not that I didn’t believe before, I just didn’t understand.  I now have a personal relationship and it is everything.  I think it took the humbling experiences and struggles in my marriage to make me able to accept the gospel and appreciate the gift of love.

My trials have been numerous.  Some have been solely the result of others choices and some have been of my own doing.  I continue to be humbled by my circumstances.  I believe that this life is meant to be difficult, that we are meant to struggle to endure.  But we also have to find ways to be grateful.

I’m thankful that I wasn’t injured or anyone else for that matter yesterday.  I’m lucky that my vehicle seems to be fine as well.  I’m grateful for my Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ.  I get to experience all of the joy and pain of this life because of His sacrifice.

Day 40- Love is a covenant

17 Jul
Where you go, I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God. –Ruth 1:16

Today’s Dare-

Write out a renewal of your vows and place them in your home. Perhaps, if appropriate, you could make arrangements to formally renew your vows before a minister and with family present. Make it a living testament to the value of marriage in God’s eyes and the high honor of being one with your mate.

What has God revealed to you during the Love Dare? How have your views of your marriage changed? How committed are you to God and to your spouse? Who can you share this with as a testimony?

“The time is now, man or woman of God, to renew your covenant of love in all sincerity and surrender. Love is too holy a treasure to trade in for another, and too powerful a bond to be broken without dire consequences. Fasten your love afresh on this one the Lord has given you to cherish, prize, and honor. Your life together is before you. Dare to take hold of it and never let go. We dare you.”

What a ride.

I am a crier with any emotion, but today the tears are flowing from a deep sense of gratitude, relief, and love. I am afraid that this may all sound contrite, but my entire life has changed forever. Just since the beginning of the year, I have gone from the darkest days to a spiritual awakening, and now having the most light and hope I’ve ever had in my life.

Some of you reading this know the darkness that has filled my life- abuse, molestation, abandonment, depression, and attempts at suicide. Even with all of these terrible events in my life, I’ve had a strong and loving family to hold me together. I’ve had enough inner strength and a desperate need to protect myself. That’s why not many people know about these things, and even my very best friends didn’t know how deeply depressed I was at one point.

I say all of this because even in the darkest days, when I was angry with God and denied His existence, I knew in my heart that He was there. And now I know without a shadow of a doubt that God loves me beyond anything that I will ever be able to understand. I have had the kind of spiritual awakening that I’ve hoped and dreamed of. I can’t begin to describe it beyond saying that I am full with the spirit.

So, my question would be- What hasn’t God revealed to me during the Love Dare?

My view on marriage haven’t changed. I’ve always thought of marriage this way, but I have changed my views on love. I now know how to love my husband in the way that was intended for marriage to work. I choose to love him unconditionally. I am completely committed to God and my husband. I will sacrifice and give my all to both. I will be a vessel to carry God’s love to my husband. Until my death.

I have shared this with all of you as a testimony. I pray that you have been blessed. I will continue to share this message with anyone I can. If you know someone who is struggling in marriage, please refer them to this blog. Maybe they will be inspired to take the dare.

I hope that Havie and I will renew our vows. We were not originally married in the church, and now that we are members, I think it would be wonderful to re-commit ourselves to the marriage. I guess we will see!

I am going to pass on the book to Havie now. I don’t know if he will read it or not. I am not going to worry about that. I hope that he does, not for my benefit, but because I know that it has changed my life. I pray that it would do the same for him.

This is not the last of the dare for me. I will continue to do the dare forever. I plan to continue writing a blog once a week about it. Please continue reading!

Day 39- Love endures

16 Jul
Love never fails. — 1 Corinthians 13:8

Today’s Dare-

Spend time in personal prayer, then write a letter of commitment and resolve to your spouse. Include why you are committing to this marriage until death, and that you have purposed to love them no matter what. Leave it in a place that your mate with find it.

What were some of the hesitations you had in writing this letter? How do you expect your spouse to respond to it? How did God help you in writing it, and what did the process teach you about yourself?

The chapter begins like this: Of all the things love dares to do, this is the ultimate. Though threatened, it keeps pursuing. Though challenged, it keeps moving forward. Though mistreated and rejected, it refuses to give up. Love never fails… Woah, that’s powerful.

I didn’t initially have any hesitations in writing the letter. I was actually really excited about it because I knew it was the perfect opportunity to communicate some things that I needed and wanted to say, but didn’t want to just come out and say.

Communication is one of our greatest weaknesses because we are pretty much polar opposites in that area and we are both so stubborn that we think each other should change. Thanks to a conversation with my mentor, I realized that we are both going to have to come half way to make it work. So, I am doing my part.

Anyway, I did have some moments of hesitation while writing the letter. I could feel myself holding back, and I think that God helped me through those moments of fear. I asked him to help me make sure I said everything I needed to say and put it in a way that he would understand clearly.

My husband usually surprises me with his reactions. I pray that the letter will touch his heart and give him faith in me. I know that he may not respond in that manner. I told him in the letter that he may no believe what he is reading, but that was okay. I knew that I needed to prove myself to him. I just asked me to keep his eyes and heart open to receive my love.

I pray that this is the beginning of a new phase in our relationship.

Day 38- Love fulfills dreams

15 Jul
Delight yourself in the Lord; and He will give you the desires of your heart. –Psalm 37:4

Today’s Dare-

Ask yourself what your mate would want if it was obtainable. Commit this to prayer, and start mapping out a plan for meeting some (if not all) of their desires, to whatever level you possibly can.

What has made you resistant to fulfilling your mate’s desires in the past? How would it change your relationship if they knew their dreams were a priority to you? What desires are you attempting to meet?

Havie is a man of simple desires. He wants a family, a career he can excel at and be proud of, and he wants to be well respected in his home and community. Of course there are other things that he desires, but nothing extravagant or unattainable. I am committed to doing everything I can to see those desires met.

I’ve always wanted my husband to have everything he desired, but there have been some desires I have refused to help him obtain. It is totally selfishness on my part. I am willing to admit it. I’ve watched a particular family member of mine give everything she has in her marriage of over 50 years- and still be totally unappreciated. I am so fearful of finding myself in a similar situation.

I know that he will be surprised to see me trying to make some of his desires come to fruition. He will probably be a little wary at first, but I imagine that it will make us closer. I hope he will see that I care and I am willing to do anything for his happiness.

Besides some of the things I’ve already talked about like putting him through college and starting a family- I am going to do a better job of showing him respect in our home. That is going to take on several different forms, but at the end of the day- just being a better wife.

Day 37- Love agrees in prayer

14 Jul
If two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father. –Matthew 18:19

Today’s Dare-

Ask your spouse if you can begin praying together. Talk about the best time to do this, whether it’s in the morning, your lunch hour, or before bedtime. Use this time to commit your concerns, disagreements, and needs before the Lord. Don’t forget to thank Him for His provision and blessing. Even if your spouse refuses to do this, resolve to spend this daily time in prayer yourself.

What can you do to help your mate be willing for the two of you to begin praying together? If you agreed to pray together, what was it like? What did you learn from it?

This chapter basically says that praying together can guarantee with near 100 percent assurance that our life together would significantly improve. It may be the “one thing” that can save a marriage. And I believe that it’s true. If two people can come together in earnest prayer together it can move mountains.

The problem comes in when the two people can’t seem to come together…

He just isn’t there yet. He half-heartedly agreed to do it, but not because he wanted to. Because he thought that he had to. I am not going to push him to join me, but I am committed to praying every morning and evening. I am going to read my bible in the evening. I will always invite him to join me. Hopefully he will see something in me that speaks to his heart.

He will come around in his time. I have faith.

Day 36- Love is God’s Word

13 Jul
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. –Psalm 119:105

Today’s Dare:

Commit to reading the Bible every day. Find a devotional book or other resource that will give you some guidance. If your spouse is open to it, see if they will commit to daily Bible reading with you. Begin submitting each area of your life to its guidance and start building on the rock.

What parts of your life are in the greatest need of God’s counsel? Where do you feel the most susceptible to failure? What are you asking God to show you through His Word?

What a difference a weekend can make.

Last week, I was sharing with a friend that I was going to have to find a new church. We didn’t think we would feel comfortable going back after we thought we had been judged by the Pastor. By Friday, after speaking to another person from the church about it, I had decided that 1. I had overreacted, 2. It wasn’t right for me to be so unforgiving and ready to quit.

I had been talking to God all weekend and trying to figure out what I really wanted and needed. I am thirsting knowledge. Right now, my house is built on the sand of my own logic, my best guesses, and my latest reasoning. I know that if I don’t seek to understand God’s will, that my house will eventually fall. I have a real need to study His word and to understand the fundamentals. What I want is to grow my spirituality. I want to cultivate and deepen what I already have just based on my limited experiences so far.

So, I went to church Sunday with these things weighing on my heart. And through my Pastor’s sermon, I got a very clear message from God. What I needed and wanted were right here. I was being called to put everything I had into not only seeking these things that I need and want, but into building this church. I knew that with or without my husband, this is what “I” had to do. I’ve never been so sure about something in all my life.

I am committing to reading the Bible everyday. If you have any devotionals or guides to recommend, they would be greatly appreciated. Additionally, if you have a Bible to recommend, I need some help in that area. I have a student bible that I am going to start with. I hope that Havie will want to read the Bible with my every day, but I am not going to push it on him. I know that he will need to come to the Lord in his way and his time, just as I have. I will continue to pray for him and his relationship with God everyday. I hope that I can be a role model for him.

I have so much to work on and to tell you the truth, I don’t even know where to begin. My number one concern is to ask Him to help me let go of the many masks that I’ve used my entire life for protection. I have much forgiving to do. I have even more loving to do. With God’s guidance, I’m sure I will find my way.

Day 34- Love celebrates godliness

10 Jul
[Love] does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth. –1 Corinthians 13:6

Today’s Dare:

Find a specific, recent example when your spouse demonstrated Christian character in a noticeable way. Verbally commend them for this at some point today.

What example did you choose to recognize? How many other ways could you celebrate their growth in godliness? How could you encourage them to persevere in it?

I actually completed this dare back in May. I’m not sure how I managed to think that I had posted this blog without ever actually posting it… LOL

My husband is one of the most giving people that I know. He is very generous, almost to a fault at times. Even when he has nothing to give monetarily, he is the guy that you can rely on. He is constantly pulling over to help people on the side of the road. He gives rides, helps people find work, and is just an all around go-to guy. I absolutely love this about him. I have to admit that I’ve been protective when I feel someone is taking advantage of him, but I’ve learned to let him do what he feels is right.

I am always proud of him, but I realized that I had never actually told him. I had never told him that I admired his Christian characteristic of giving. It didn’t take me long to have the opportunity to praise him. On his way home that day, he helped a lady and her teenage daughter take care of a blow-out. When they offered him cash, he refused. And he does stuff like this all the time…

So, I told him that I was so proud of him. I told him that I thought it was an amazingly Christian characteristic and that I’ve always been proud of him. I told him that I was sorry I had never told him so before. He talked about how it was important to him to help people who truly needed it and that he sometimes didn’t think helping certain people was the right thing to do if he knew or could tell that they weren’t doing the right thing. I could tell that he was touched.

I think the praise alone will be enough for him to persevere… He has persevered all this time without it, but I know it makes him feel good to be recognized. I am going to do a better job of praising him when I see him doing something good. I know that I would like the same!

If you have any ideas, I am open to suggestions!

Day 35- Love is accountable

10 Jul
Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed. –Proverbs 15:22 NIV

Today’s Dare-

Find a marriage mentor– someone who is a strong Christian and who will be honest and loving with you. If you feel that counseling is needed, then take the first step to set up an appointment. During this process, ask God to direct your decisions and discernment.

Who did you choose? Why did you select this person? What do you hope to learn from them?

Wow, it’s taken me a while to complete this dare… Not so much because of the dare itself, but because life happened. I could have haphazardly finished up the dare, but I truly wanted to be intentional and focused. So, I waited until I could give it my all. I can’t believe I’m almost done!

The chapter illustrated the need for support outside of the marriage with a great analogy. It talked about how might sequoia trees can withstand lightning, wind and forest fires because unlike many trees, they interlock their roots with other sequoia trees around them.

I know that this is of special importance to me because I don’t like to open up to more than a select few. I know that seems strange because I have opened up a bunch in this blog, but it feels like I’m talking to myself when I’m writing. I am very introverted and tend to isolate when I need to reach out the most.

I knew that I needed to pick someone that I was already comfortable with in order to make sure that I could actually open up. It was pretty easy for me to determine that my marriage mentor should be a good friend of mine, Brandy. I knew that she would be completely and lovingly honest with me. I don’t want anyone to get their feelings hurt because I didn’t ask them. I thought about everyone, I promise, but God told me this was the person who had helped lay the way for my first spiritual awakening, and she was the right person for the job.

I hope that I am going to learn the truth from her, and I know that if anyone can do it- she will.

Counseling may be the next step, but not necessarily for us as a couple to begin with. We were in marriage counseling a few years ago, but it wasn’t very successful because we both have so much to deal with personally. I am waiting for my new insurance to get settled before I jump into anything.

As I’m closing up this blog, I want to take the time to thank my friends. You know who you are and you are truly precious to me. The few people that are close to me, are amazing. I love the fact that no matter where life has taken us or how much time has passed, we can always pick right up. You mean the world to me even if I don’t manage to show it like I should/want to. I love you and I thank you!

(I just realized that eventhough I completed day 34 a long time ago, somehow I never posted the blog! So, stay tuned!)

Day 33- Love completes each other

28 May
If two lie together they keep warm, but how can one be warm alone? –Ecclesiastes 4:11

Today’s Dare-

Recognize that your spouse is integral to your future success. Let them know today that you desire to include them in your upcoming decisions, and that you need their perspective and counsel. If you have ignored their input in the past, admit your oversight and ask them to forgive you.

What are some upcoming decisions you can make together? What did you learn today about the role of your mate?

I am just in awe at how the right dares seem to come along at the right time… We are currently apartment hunting in an effort to reduce our budget so Havie can go back to school. I have been working on it for weeks and I found what I felt like what the best deal for an apartment that we would still be comfortable in. I made it a point to schedule an appointment while he was in town because even though he was saying that he didn’t care- I wanted his input.

My husband doesn’t like to make decisions. He doesn’t typically like to share his opinions. I honestly refuse to make decisions completely on my own, so it has been a big source of trouble for us. I’ve been telling myself that it was just his personality, but I have come to the realization that he doesn’t think I value his opinions, so he just keeps them to himself.

I am a very intrapersonal communicator. I am constantly talking to myself in my head. Running through things, contemplating things, analyzing things. I’ve always looked at an issue from all angles before I even bring it to anyone else. So many times he gives an opinon and I immediately give my rebuttal. It’s not that I’m trying to argue, I’ve just already thought of that and decided that it’s not a good idea. He takes it very personally, and I can see why. It looks like I don’t value him.

So, yesterday I found out about another apartment that would only be $15/month more than the one I’ve already picked out, but it is a two bedroom with a garage and shared fenced yard. The drawback of the two bedroom is that it is much older and is in a not as nice neighborhood. After I explained all of this to Havie, I asked him what he thought. At first he said that he didn’t care. I told him that I valued his opinion and didn’t want to make this decision alone.

He started to give his opinion, and I caught myself about to shoot down something he said. I stopped and really listened to what he had to say. I realized that (shocker!) I don’t know everything. If I am doing all of this analysis on my end- it is all based on my opinion of what is most important. The book says, “don’t try doing all the analysis yourself.” I have always wanted our decisions to be mutual (and I think that many of them are), but I have discredited many of his opinions and that has to stop.