What Tables Need To Be Overturned in Your House?

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And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and He overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.” Matt 21:12,13

This past week during our staff devotion we spent time in Matthew 21:12-17.  The above verses struck me personally. Pastor Larry asked us, “Why did Jesus react the way He did?”  Great discussion ensued and we all agreed that His house became a house of selfish gain and no longer was it a house of prayer. It was no longer a house of worship. It was a temple that defiled God and dismissed the worship He deserved. God’s house, His temple was purposely dishonored.

As the discussion continued, God began to speak to me. He took me back to a book in His word that I have been in the past few months, 1 Corinthians. I was instructed to land on verses 19 and 20 in chapter 6. “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.”  The Holy Spirit clearly told me, “You are My temple. I dwell in you and you have now become My house of Worship. Don’t ever forget that you are no longer your own. You were bought with a price and everything you do you must glorify Me in your body.”

So here is where the spiritual re-molding began. I asked God to begin to “overturn the tables” in this temple. Begin to clear away that which is selfish and self-centered.  Turn over the tables which defile Him and dishonor His Name. What in my life, in my body, in His Temple, is an abomination to Him?

Think about what those tables look like.  Not just my tables, yours too. We have tables of apathy, of jealousy. We have tables that are beautifully adorned and wonderful to look at; however, they are those of arrogance and pride.  We also have tables of unforgiveness, of rage and anger.  We have tables of sexual sin and lust.  How about the tables that are covered in linens of lace but hold gossip and condemnation towards other followers of Christ who are hurting?  I think we all get the picture.

So as I ask God to begin to “overturn the tables” in my life, to cleanse His temple, I must also be willing to open those doors and be obedient to what He reveals and removes.  I must never forget, as a follower of Jesus Christ, that my body is not my own and it was bought by the precious life of Him.  My body is now His Temple and I must daily glorify Him through it. It is spiritually painful, yet spiritually refreshing.

Now, are you willing to ask Jesus to “overturn tables” in you?

Ladies, Here Is The Perfect Body! by Kerry Vivian

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Ladies, I need to confess something to each of you.  I have struggled with body image issues most of my adult life.

I am or have been at one point – too tall, too thin, too fat, too young, too old.  My nose isn’t right, my smile is all wrong, my breasts are not perky enough (and now gravity is having its way with them), and on and on and on and on.  The sad thing is that I could pick myself to death over appearance and the miserable reality is that I have allowed that attitude to set the standard of my life at times.  I would avoid certain people or situations because I wasn’t good/pretty enough and, to be embarrassingly honest, it effected how I relate to Joe in many ways, including sexually. Ladies, early on in our marriage I believed my culture’s standard of beauty when it told me that I’m not sexy and desirable, that I didn’t have as much worth as those who have perfectly straight teeth and a low BMI.

You know what I finally figured out?  Basically I’ve been whining because I’ve failed at my culture’s standard of beauty.  Isn’t that sad, I placed the bar of beauty to the worlds mark instead of God’s perfect standard.  When that was realized, I had a new focus, a new vision. It was so simple yet took strength that only God Himself could give:  My new missions in life is just to get over it. This was the start of such an amazing journey. The weight of “magazine stand” beauty and perfection was lifting off my shoulders and replaced by His love and direction.

I look the way I look.  That’s the complete truth of the matter and I know for a fact that God doesn’t make mistakes.  God seems pretty happy about how I am made (He acts like I’m a piece of artwork He has fashioned and, honestly, it’s not good to argue with the Creator of the Universe) and Joe definitely likes to look and touch.  He always is so captivated by me and always makes me feel like not only the most beautiful woman in the room but the only woman in the room. His eyes are all on me!

Ladies, take this one truth home with you please. We need to receive with gratitude the gift of the body God has given so graciously to us and value God’s standard of beauty. Remember, He does not make mistakes and you are not a mistake.  What it comes down to is your choice.  Who will you believe?  What will you believe?  You should daily long to want to live your life in a way that honors God and blesses your spouse.

Ya know what ladies, I think I’m going to look at my reflection in Joe’s eyes for awhile. I love to see them light up!

How beautiful you are, my darling!  Oh, how beautiful!   Song of Songs 1:15a

In His Grip~  Kerry

“Dollar Lane…Memory Lane” Date Night

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Here is a quick but fun date that won’t break the piggy bank. It’s in 2 parts.

Part 1:

Each of you start off with $10.  Head out to your closest Dollar Tree, really find the one where everything is a dollar.  Now head on in and know that you each have 15 minutes.

Now once in there, you two separate. The goal of this part of the date is for each of you to find 10 items that tell the story of your courtship/wedding/marriage/family…whatever it may be, but you are limited to only 10 items to tell this story.  Try not to cross paths or peek into each other’s baskets. Instead, be creative and think outside of the box.

Try to check out without seeing what the other person has purchased.

 Part 2:

Head back home, spread out a blanket in the middle of the living room/den and take time to tell your story.  The person who starts is the one who checked out of the Dollar Tree last. During this time, take time to reminisce and explain why you chose what you did.  Remember why you had a tenacious pursuit of each other.  This is the time to not judge or cast sarcasm, but listen to the heart of your spouse as they reflect back on your life together.

Now I said this was a two part date night…however, it’s up to you both if this becomes a three part night!

3 Ways To Improve Communication With Your Spouse

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“Communication is key.” How many times have we either heard or said that sentence.  When we truly think about that sentence, it is not only a true statement but everything we do hinges on communication. Whether it be verbal or non-verbal, we all communicate with one another on a daily basis. The sad reality is that most of us do a lousy job of it. We communicate in our own “language” and we use a “dialect” that is too often misunderstood.

This is never more evident than in marriage.  Kerry and I witness this communication lapse, not only in our marriage, but in those we counsel.  It seems that this is one of the top triggers for conflict in a marriage.

So with that fact, we would like to share 3 paths towards better communication in your marriage, as well as any relationship.

It’s Not What You Say, It’s HOW You Say It:  Your tone will set the path for the conversation. You heard us say it before, and we will say it again. Sarcasm can be detrimental to your marriage. If your tone is demeaning, condescending or rude, this will also tear down any attempt at reconciliation. Kerry and I truly believe that rudeness is the weak person’s imitation of strength. If you aren’t sure or even aware if your communication with your spouse is either rude, condescending or sarcastic…maybe even all three, then ask your spouse during a time that you are willing to not only listen to their answer but to receive and correct it for the better.  When you speak to your spouse, remember, you are speaking to God’s daughter/son. He ordained your spouse to you and they should be treated as what they are-a gift from God.  Ask God to control your tone and inflection as you speak to them.

It’s Not What You Say, It’s WHEN You Say It:  Timing is everything. Kerry and I handle and process conflict differently. I am quick to deal with a situation. I am wanting to fully discuss the situation at hand right then and there. Kerry will take time to reflect and digest the events that have unfolded. She is initially few of words and I will share exactly what I am thinking as I am thinking it.  Neither handling is wrong, nor is either right.  They are who we are and with that understanding, we both need to then control when we speak to the conflict at hand.  I need to understand that if Kerry has had a long day or is dealing with personal issues, my seeking open dialogue and communication on an issue may not yield the response I desire. In fact, even though I am seeking resolution, I may be increasing the conflict due to my selfish timing. In other words…My timing stinks.  On the flip side, Kerry will need to realize that if I am distracted with another issue or project and she feels it necessary to pursue a reconciling conversation during that time, I will more than likely become agitated due to my nature to resolve conflict immediately. My spirit is not prepared to discuss the situation and I will begin to force my thoughts when I am not emotionally prepared.  Again, know your spouse and know when timing is the best.  One possible solution.  Schedule an argument. That’s right, schedule a time within 36 hours of your argument to solve it then. That should allow timing to be good for both of you.

It’s Not What You Say, It’s How It’s RECIEVED:  Here is the last path and in most cases the most vital. Yes, your tone and timing is important; however, what you hear or comprehend your spouse is saying is the crucible of resolving conflict.  One HUGE rule Kerry and I share with every couple we sit with is this: Conflict resolution is NEVER to be done via text, e-mail, IM, or even on the phone.  Communication during a conflict should ALWAYS be done face to face, eye to eye.  You both must be able to see each other’s body language and see the whites of each other’s eyes as you speak to one another. Once you are together, then you need to take time to listen and understand what your spouse is saying. One of the best ways to accomplish this is to do the “Pen Talk” with each other.  Take one pen, or pencil, and sit down together. The one with the pen is the only one to speak. Seriously, as hard as it may be, you may not speak unless you hold the pen. Once the person with the pen shares the “why” they are hurting or feeling the conflict, they pass it to their spouse.  Now here is the KEY…once you are passed the pen, you must re-state what your spouse just shared but in your own words. In other words, do you understand what they are expressing?  If you did, then respond to that comment.  If not, then the pen is passed back for them to state it another way. This will continue back and forth during the resolution of the conflict at hand.  Remember this, one cannot address nor comment on any statement until it is fully understood or received properly. Also realize that you may see that your communication towards your spouse is cloudy and without a clear definition.  Take time to see that and ask God to help you clarify your thoughts.  God’s word teaches us clearly that we are to be one with our spouse: in flesh, mind and spirit. Also, there are times that frustration will increase. If this be the case. Stop and reschedule another time in the next 36 hours to sit down and try again.  A marriage will grow as both husband and wife continue to show the sacrificial love of listening and receiving communication from each other.

The Three S’S of Intimacy Without Sex…

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Three things to do naked that need not end in sex. That’s right husbands and wives, Kerry and I are going to share three things to do naked and that do not need to end in sex. Some wives are cheering while many husbands are trying to delete this article before it can be shared.

Since you are still reading, it is evident that you are interested in the path we are on. First remember this, physical intimacy in marriage should be a daily lifestyle in your marriage, a wide array of activates from full on love making all the way to loving play with just a touch of sexuality on the edge. Here we offer three actives that can be part of your “less than full sex” intimacy.

First, let’s have a working definition of “less than full sex”, and that definition will differ between men and women.  Ladies, this is Kerry, I truly feel that for most women it’s something that does not cause a much needed arousal to cause her to even think of going further. It’s fun, but it’s not foreplay, and she is happy to do it and move on. Men, this is Joe, our definition of sex-play that does not end in sex is more of a choice because anything done in the nude with one’s wife is going to get him thinking about doing it more. God made men to respond to the naked female body, and we respond even when sex is not our goal. True statement…  So:

WIVES

(Kerry) Ladies, please don’t let physical signs of arousal make you feel that something was done “just to get sex.” I truly believe and speak from experience, that if the two of you have full sex regularly, your husband can and will enjoy sex play for what it is, and not be upset that it goes no further; however he is going to get turned on none-the-less. As Joe said earlier, “True Statement.”

HUSBANDS

(Joe) Men, please understand that women are not as visual as we are, and nudity alone does not make something a sex act in her mind. Our bodies are more of piece of “construction equipment” in their eyes then a sexual object. Just saying… It’s okay (and uncontrollable) to be aroused by your less than fully clothed wife (even after all these years, but if you ALWAYS act out on those feelings you will not be blessing her. Men, I speak from experience on this, don’t go there, it’s not a pretty place. Instead, learn to enjoy touch and nudity for its own pleasures – and for the freedom it will help her to feel about her nude body. 

It’s vital you all understand the importance of touch both for physical and mental health, as well as relational and sexual health, but why make a point of being naked? First because nudity is (or is supposed to be) something we only do with our spouse. Naked activities therefore create a sense of bonding by setting them apart from clothed activities we do with others. Second, if the goal is skin contact, then the more skin available, the more contact we can have. We have chosen these as the three naked S’s:  sleeping, showering, and snuggling.

 

SHOWERING

Okay, be honest, when’s the last time you showered together? When’s the last time that showering together wasn’t foreplay?! Ever shared a long hug in the shower? Washed each other? Washed each other’s hair? Shared a long soak in a bubble bath (if your tub is large enough)? Next time you’re going out together, try a joint shower when you’re getting ready. Next time your spouse is in the shower, join him or her… or invite them to join you.

  • Men: This one is tough but you can do it. Wash more than her breasts, and don’t expect her to kneel!
  • Women: If you don’t want him to expect sex, stay clear of his penis.

SLEEPING

Sleeping together is, in our minds, extremely important. Part of sleeping together is falling asleep together and waking up together.  We even stated that one of the cool things about being married is that you get to have a slumber party with your best friend, every night!  It’s not just about being in the same place; bedtime small talk and half asleep hugs create a deep sense of closeness. Let’s be honest, when we are in a fight or a lack of sexual intimacy, quality sleep seems to elude us. Research on pheromones (we call them “airborne hormones”) suggests that prolonged exposure to each other’s pheromones has profound effects on us. While the details aren’t all proven, it seems likely that the pheromones we get while sleeping together actually make us feel closer, more secure, and more loved; they may even contribute to better physical and mental health, and may sync our bodies in many ways – including sex drive!

A few “issues” we would like to discuss about sleeping together: (These are Kerry’s thoughts)

  • Snoring: As I’m on the receiving end of some serious snoring (my dear husband can scare off Sasquatch with his snoring) I think I have the right to say find a way to stay in the same bed!! I am willing to let him fall asleep holding me until he begins to snore in my ear; however, at that time I ask him to roll over and put on his CPAP. He then will fall asleep while placing a hand on my hip or holding my hand while he lays on his back.  Realize, as we have, snoring can be a serious medical condition, and there are medical procedures to deal with it, so a visit to the doctor may be in order.
  • We don’t do that!: Sleeping in the nude seems to violate some unwritten rule in the Bible and some other countries may outlaw it as well. It may be good for the folks who make pajamas, but why do we “dress” for bed? Not that Joe’s opposed to lingerie, but we see that as something which is put on to be taken off. If we can’t be “naked and unashamed” in bed with our own spouse, then something is wrong.  Both Joe and I always kept a robe or t-shirt handy if we ever needed to jump up for the kids.
  • Temperature differences: This could be a huge conflict due to our differences. I am always cold and Joe is always hot. This is typical of most men:  Usually men run a lot warmer than women, resulting in him lying on top of the blanket sweating while she lies under it shivering. There are exceptions, but the result is always the same. Then ladies, comes menopause, and that’s when we are throwing off the covers while our husbands are trying to stay under them. Make the room just cool enough for the person who is warmer, and add blankets on the other person’s side. An electric blanket or mattress cover with duel controls is a great investment if temperature differences are a real problem in your bed. That’s the one investment that was so worth it. I can turn on my side to heat it up, while Joe’s side usually remains unplugged.  The one “exception” that at times is enforced  to the sleep nude “rule” at our house is socks … it’s amazing how much warmth socks can provide. It also protects Joe from the dreaded wandering toes of ice!  However, he would prefer the absence of socks as well.

 

SNUGGLING

Both Kerry and I figure fewer than one couple in a hundred is getting their daily allotment of snuggle, so there is a real good chance your marriage could use more. Lazy naked snuggling is so easy when you sleep together…IF you don’t go to bed exhausted and IF you wake up more than 30 seconds before you have to jump out of bed. Just wrap yourselves around each other and enjoy the contact; no movement or talking is required.
One reason many women avoid this is they fear that it will “always lead to sex,” while men often avoid it out of fear that “it won’t lead to sex.” The problem here is one of priorities; women tend to place higher importance on the non-sexual touching, while men tend to place more importance on sexual contact. As Kerry stated before, when each is having their first priority met, it’s easy for them to engage in both activities, and neither is overly concerned about the order. On the other hand, when either of them feels their top priority is being “neglected,” things don’t flow too well. Again…True Statement.

  • Men: Realize that your wife needs non-sexual touch in order to be physically and emotionally healthy. A lack of touch makes it impossible for her to desire or enjoy sex; she might say yes, and she might climax, but she will not truly enjoy it. Her negative responses in these cases are not manipulation, rather you are seeing the result of the way the lack of touch and intimacy affects her brain.
  • Women: Realize that your husband has a strong sex drive, and while he can and should control what he does, he cannot control what he feels. When he has insufficient sexual release, his brain is affected much as yours is when you don’t receive enough touch; just as your hormones drive you to seek touch and intimacy, his drive him to seek sex. His feelings in these cases are not a sign of his selfishness, but rather a response to the way the lack of sex has affected his brain. Even if the two of you are having sex often, snuggling is going to turn him on. Ignore that most of the time, and occasionally grab him and give him a quick something. Again, I speak on experience on this one ladies.
  • Both: The answer is to be giving. Sacrificial love is what we are speaking to. Understand your spouse’s needs and make it your goal to meet them even when you feel your needs are unmet. Unselfish giving will bless your spouse, and meeting their need will make it much easier for them to meet your needs.

Don’t reserve nudity for times when you are going to be sexual. Becoming comfortable with each other’s bodies will have benefits both in and out of bed. Within the walls of your bedroom you can have your own private nudist colony! 

We both speak on experience to that!! 

Bookstore Date Challenge: Date Night Idea

It’s now 2015 and we need to pick up where we left off in Mid-December…Date Night Ideas!!

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I came across this idea and I can’t wait to try it with Kerry this upcoming week. It’s called Bookstore Date Challenge. You don’t have to be a bookworm or a literary scholar for this date, you just need to be ready to share your dreams, hobbies, and passions with your spouse.  So here is the idea…

Decide on a location, a local bookstore or library will do. It helps if there is an area with couches or tables to sit on during this date.

There are sets of challenges in which each of you will have a certain amount of time to find books, magazines, etc. which provide the information you are looking for. I would set the time at 10 minutes for each set. The sets break it up so you don’t have a gazillion books in hand when you finally meet to share what you found with your date. This way, you get to do a set of challenges, meet up to share, return those books, then go back out for the next set of challenges.

After each set, meet up in the comfy couch area or table for two where you will take turns sharing what you found for your challenges. Try to learn something new about that person (even if you’ve been married for 20+ years!) Talk about each challenge and why you picked what you did (tell memories of it if applicable). Try to choose the least-busy night at that store so you will have free reign of the lounge area.

Make sure if you see each other on the hunt for your challenges that you shoot each other a wink and brush up against each other flirtatiously (once initiated, it will continue…)

Here are some challenge sets for you to accomplish during this challenge:

Set One:

  1. Find a new recipe that you would like to try.
  2. Find a new date idea to do on a future date.
  3. Find a funny joke to share with your spouse.

Set Two:

  1. Find a picture or map of a place you’d like to visit.
  2. Find a children’s book you enjoyed as a child.
  3. Find a book you think your spouse might enjoy.

Set Three:

  1. Find a book that you once read in school. 
  2. Find a book that has the following words in it: sacrifice and love.
  3. Find a book on your favorite hobby.

Set Four:

  1. Find a book that you have always wanted to read.
  2. Find a magazine that best describes you.
  3. Get some hot cocoa or coffee and share what you learned about each other and plan your next date night.

Do You Encourage or Discourage With Your Words?

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Happy New Year Ladies!  Now that 2014 is in the rearview mirror and we are on the road of 2015, I thought I would share with each of you a great way to kick off this New Year. Joe and I have personally noticed a change in direction of speech among married folks that we agree with completely. Instead of the “ol’ ball and chain” stereotype that used to define matrimony, men and women are treating marriage like a gift (because it is), and their spouses like a prize (because they are). Nowadays, wives aren’t belittling their husbands for laughs. I mean, some may try, but if they’re lucky, a true friend pulls them to the side real quick and sets them real straight. Sitcoms showing the long-suffering wife tolerating their bumbling husbands can sometimes trick women into thinking that disrespect is funny, and, that men are just species that you can’t live with and you can’t live without. We live in the real world, though. While one of those television husband’s reaction to intentional sarcasm and eye-rolling might be flowers and trying harder, your husband probably won’t respond in the same way. Let’s remember what Paul wrote to the church at Ephesus: “Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.” Eph 4:29

Now, I know none of you would dare treat your husband with anything less than total respect. I also know that despite the general feeling of reverence that you have for your man, life might prevent you from actually SAYING the things to let him know how much you care about him. We have been married for almost 25 years, and I am still growing and learning on how words of affirmation affect the entire day, let alone the week at times. I realize that Joe needs words of affirmation and encouragement to feel connected and loved. It’s not that without it, our love will diminish, it’s so that we can grow closer; one flesh, mind and spirit. So, I’ve been working to give him that. Once I started making the effort it turned out to not be that difficult.

  1. I love you.
  2. Thank you.
  3. Have a good day.
  4. How are you feeling?
  5. I’m proud of you.
  6. You look great.
  7. I appreciate you.
  8. You turn me on.
  9. How was your day?
  10. Do you need anything from me?

Of course, the way that you say these things to your husband do not have to be exact. This list is just a place to start.  What this truly is is a blueprint or a jumpstart for some. Words of encouragement for some do not come easy. And before you go off saying, “Why should I use words of encouragement to him, he never speaks them to me!” Humble yourself and realize that God had ordained your marriage and your husband. When you speak words of encouragement to him, you are truly speaking words of praise to God for the gift He has given you. It’s not about how much you get from your husband, it’s all about how much you give back to God through praise of the husband He has given you.

Again, it’s ten simple phrases every single day. There’s 24 hours in the day, so that shouldn’t be a problem at all. Just get ready, though. Committing to affirming your husband every single day sows into your relationship, and you’ll reap the benefits. I feel like we’re communicating really clearly with each other because we’re both making an effort to acknowledge and recognize what each other is doing each day. The payoff for this tiny deposit into our relationship is incredible and truly priceless.

In His Grip~                                                                                                                       Kerry

How do you affirm your husband? Did it come easily to you, or did you have to work at it?