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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.

Day 32- Love meets sexual needs

25 May
**WARNING- Once again, this blog contains information that is likely to induce blushing and make you feel uncomfortable… Proceed with caution**

The husband must fulfill his duty to his wife, and likewise also the wife to her husband. –1 Corinthians 7:3

Today’s Dare-

If at all possible, try to initiate sex with you husband or wife today. Do this in a way that honors what your spouse has told you (or implied to you) about what they need from you sexually. Ask God to make this enjoyable for both of you as well as a path to greater intimacy.

Was this a satisfying experience for you? If it didn’t turn out the way you’d hoped, what doyou think is complicating matters? Have you committed this to prayer? If it was a true blessing for both of you, what can you learn from this for the future?

This chapter struck a chord for me. In the chapter, it said “If you let your mate know- by words, actions, or inactions- that sex needn’t be any more than you want it to be, you rob from them a sense of honor and endearment that has been set in place by biblical mandate. You violate the “one flesh” unity of marriage.” This hit me like a ton of bricks. I have been so selfish, and to be totally honest- I have used the lack of sex as a punishment. I’m sure I make myself out to be the worst wife ever… and maybe I have been. At the time, I told myself- why am I going to have sex with him after he has made me so mad today? I hope that I’m not the only person thinking that way.

The chapter goes on to say “now it is your turn to pay the loving price to win the heart of your mate. When you do, you will enjoy the pure delight that flows when sex is done for all the right reasons.” How beautiful.

Initiating sex is really hard for me. I think it makes me feel really vulnerable, and I absolutely HATE feeling that way. But, I really wanted to complete this dare. In fact, I know that this is one of my husband’s strongest desires is for me to initiate sex. He has often asked me why I don’t and has asked me if I am not attracted to him. I had a few days to pray about it and ask for courage.

So anyway… Mission Accomplished! It was satisfying, but all of this just makes me realize that the self-esteem/insecurity stuff has got to be dealt with. I just don’t know how you really fix it. If you have any suggestions, I am absolutely open!

Day 31- Love and Marriage

21 May
A man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh. –Genesis 2:24

Today’s Dare-

Is there a “leaving” issue you haven’t been brave enough to conquer yet? Confess it to your spouse today, and resolve to make it right. The oneness of your marriage is dependent upon it. Follow this with a commitment to your spouse and to God to make your marriage the top priority over every other human relationship.

Has this been a hard thing for you to deal with? How has it affected your relationship? If the worse offender in this area is your spouse (with your in-laws), how can you lovingly move this toward a better solution?

Fortunately, this is one issue that we don’t really have in our marriage. This chapter is all about breaking the ties of our families and putting our spouse first. Our relationships with our family have to change when we get married because we have to find our own path as a couple. They give an example that your parents should step into the role of counselors to be respected, but can no longer tell you what to do.

I actually know a number of friends who struggle with this. They never really “left” home in that their parents still have more weight in their life than their partner. They haven’t found a path as a couple and all of their decisions are made by their parents or family members.

We have both felt pulled by our families at one time or another. We’ve felt the need to please them and comply with their wishes, but we have somehow found a way to come together and make the choice that was best for us. I know that at times, those choices have left his family thinking that I make the decision for him. Havie changed ALOT once we decided to get married. All of his priorities changed. So, I can understand that it might look like I’m the one controlling everything because they can’t imagine him making that choice.

I would like to make it clear though, we never make a decision alone. Period. I truly honor his opinion and I don’t do anything that he disagrees with. We work hard to find a win-win solution. Sometimes we have to compromise, but we can live with that. At the end of the day, we know that we did what we had to do for us. And that’s all that matters.

Day 30- Love Brings Unity

20 May
Father, keep them in Your name, the name which You have given Me, that they may be one even as We are. –John 17:11

Today’s Dare-

Isolate one area of division in your marriage, and look on today as a fresh opportunity to pray about it. Ask the Lord to reveal anything in your own heart that is threatening oneness with your spouse. Pray that He would do the same for them. And if appropriate, discuss this matter openly, seeking God for unity.

Did the Lord open your eyes to anything new that might be giving fuel to this point of disagreement? How do you intend to respond? What do you hope to see God do in your spouse as well?

I would have to say that unity is the one marital quality that I’ve desperately wanted and have been unable to sustain for any length of time. We’ve seen spurts of it here and there, but for the most part- the marriage has (at least for me) often felt more like a battleground and we’re on opposite sides of the field. So it’s not actually one area of division, but rather “the” division in our marriage that prayed about.

God has been revealing an issue that is threatening our unity throughout this process. It’s a number of things that all really boil down to my self-esteem. I don’t believe that anyone could truly love me, and so I’m always looking for confirmation of that fact. My insecurity rears it’s ugly head and has even led me to bully my husband. I’ve tried to convince him that he is the issue. I am so ashamed of the way I have behaved. I nearly ruined this gift that was given to us.

It occurs to me that God loves me unconditionally- flaws and all. I believe that with every fiber of my being. If He can love me, maybe my husband can too. I don’t have to be perfect to be lovable. I will keep praying that I will receive God’s love and share it with my husband. Maybe I will then be able to accept and receive my husband’s love.

I pray that God will help Havie receive my love. That he will be able to let go of what I’ve done and see that it is different now. I will continue to try regardless.

Day 29- Love’s Motivation

19 May
Render service with a good attitude, as to the Lord and not to men. –Ephesians 6:7 HCSB

Today’s Dare-

Before you see your spouse again today, pray for them by name and for their needs. Whether it comes easy for you or not, say “I love you,” then express love to them in some tangible way. Go to God in prayer again, thanking Him for giving you the privilege of loving this one special person– unconditionally, the way He loves both of you.

How will this change of motivation affect your relationship and reactions? What does this inspire you to do? What does it inspire you to stop doing?

This was a pretty simple dare to complete, but I can see it’s effectiveness immediately. It is going to be a few more days before I see my spouse again, but I pray for him and his needs everyday. I am grateful that we are not in a place where we are reluctant to tell each other “I love you.” There are many couples at this stage in the game who are so low down that they refuse to say it. I thank God we never made it to that point.

I chose to express my love by having dinner delivered to Havie yesterday. I was able to surprise him with pizza and pasta. I wanted him to be able to relax instead of cooking before he went in to work. He seemed really happy about it.

When I finally made it to my bed last night (long story, sick puppy…) I remembered to thank God for providing Havie for me to love. I thanked God for creating such an amazing man. I am truly a lucky girl and I need to remember that.

This morning, when Havie called and woke me up at 5:30am, he asked me if I have been taking our dogs on walks. This brought up an anger in me. I just said yes I have and that was that, but I was angry. Didn’t he know that I would take care of them? Why did he want to know? etc.

But a voice in my heart said, “Let it go.” It doesn’t matter. You are walking the dogs and now he knows that too. I felt the anger subside and I was truly grateful. I would have called him back, asked him why he asked me that, and it would have turned into an argument. It has happened so many times before.

I wasn’t thinking at that moment- oh, I should be motivated by God’s love… I reacted by instict because I am filled with God’s love. I’ve been waiting for this to happen. For my response to be guided by love instead of frustration. I am just amazed and blessed and grateful.