Prayer Stones: How Do You Pray For Your Spouse?

 

If you are ever in my office you will find a small clear container holding polished, iridescent, glass stones. My wife, Kerry, began leaving me these small stones daily, in different locations. They were to be a simple way to tell me that she was praying for me and loving on me. I in turn began praying for her and our daughters each time I would discover a ‘prayer stone.’
This time of prayer has begun a wonderful journey between me and God. As I began to pray for Kerry, Sam and Baylee, the Lord then began to lay other individuals on my heart to pray for. I sought God on a very intimate level. I realized that this prayer time was more than supplication and worship; it was an opportunity for developing a repentant and regenerative heart toward Him.
I need to be right with God before I pray. I have to ask for His forgiveness and ask that He would create in me a new heart, a new attitude. May I say that this is a very humbling experience for me.
Not that I am all there, come on, you all know me and know that I am a work in progress; however, I am progressing toward Him.
During this journey, I meditated on the 51st Psalm. What a beautiful and direct way God has us look at our sinful heart. “The sacrifice you want is a broken spirit. A broken and repentant heart, O God, you will not despise.” verse 17 David is a broken man, seeking forgiveness and taking ownership of his sinful actions. It again revealed to me that that is the first step we should all take before coming before the throne of God with our supplications and requests. We must worship Him with a pure heart and clean hands.
Kerry’s ‘prayer stones’ became so much more than precious reminders of our love for each other. They became a way for me to see the power, strength, and humility that prayer and communication with my God can be!
Let us shed that proud exterior and be truly transparent to Him. By asking for forgiveness from our sins and repenting, we will then be that much closer in our relationship with the King.

Pride Destroys Marriages


There is nothing more annoying in a marriage relationship than a proud spouse. Pity the one who is married to a proud husband or a haughty wife. 

A proud spouse does not see the need to apologize. 
A proud spouse thinks they are always right, even when they are dead wrong. Even when it is so obvious that he or she is wrong, a proud spouse will find it hard to admit that they are wrong. A proud spouse would rather persist on the wrong way than admit their wrong and apologize. 

Pride keeps the marriage relationship at a stand still. 
Pride paralyzes communication between spouses. Admitting your offenses and apologizing doesn’t make you less human. Nobody knows everything. Nobody is without reproach. It is human to make mistakes. It is human to error. It is human to fail. Embrace your humanity and discard the marriage killing spirit of pride. 

Humility will keep your marriage relationship moving. “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” Proverbs 16:18

So take time today to humble yourself in your marriage. Serve your spouse first and place your selfish needs last. Trust me, it’s a great place to be!

Joe & Kerry

Top 10 Items for Your Bedroom

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We received some very interesting comments from last Monday’s blog post-Sleep Naked with Your Spouse.  As an overall response, most felt that sleeping naked was too awkward and uncomfortable. O.K, Kerry and I agree that initially it can be uncomfortable and maybe, even make matters worse in your marriage. So, instead, we decided to invest this time into a Top 10 list for your bedroom.
Through the past 2 ½ decades as husband and wife, Kerry and I have attempted to make our bedroom our personal, private oasis of intimacy.This not only includes physical intimacy, but emotional and spiritual too. We have experienced some amazing times of sexual encounters as well as times of deepened purposeful communication and growth in our bedroom. We also have shared on many occasions how God is working in our lives and what we are doing to apply it into our marriage and family. So once again, your bedroom should be well taken care of and as husband and wife, there are some items you should invest in to keep and use in your bedroom.  Kerry and I would at least like to share with you our Top 10 list of the items in our bedroom that we feel increases the Intimacy in our marriage. Also note, this is a broking list and for all we know, item can change by next week, but at least this is a start.
  1. Black Dry Erase Marker: We use this to write messages of encouragement, scripture that God spoke to us directly or that we are applying in our lives, as well as flirty messages on our bedroom dresser mirror and our bathroom mirror. Again, make sure it is Dry Erase and Black.
  2. Essential Oil Diffuser and Oils: This is a great addition to the bedroom. We will run Peppermint Oil or Eucalyptus in the mornings we are getting ready for work. In the evening either a Lavender or Sandalwood Oil as we are going to bed. The aroma and atmosphere is very relaxing and just helps to enhance the special oasis you are trying to create.
  3. Ecotones Sound +Sleep Machine: We have always had a sound machine since the girls were born. It helps to create a background noise that will block out other noises and allow us to sleep without distractions. However, this sound machine has a unique feature that we find invaluable. The louder the room gets the louder the sound machine volume will increase. In other words, for those of you that may be inhibited in having sex because the kids may hear, this is your sound machine. It works like a charm,it will drown out the bedroom intimacy noise and the anxiety you may feel will reduce greatly.  Great investment!
  4. Rock Salt Bowl Lamp with Wood Base: This simple lamp not only supposedly “purifies” the air, it creates a romantic glow throughout the bedroom.
  5. Q & A Book:  This great 3 year journal will ask a simple question for every day of the year that you both will give either a one word or one sentence answer.  During the next three years, you will gain insight and share experiences as a couple. It gets fun when you begin to loop around into the next year and read the previous year’s answers.
  6. Liberator Pillow/Wedge:  If you are not aware of what this is, click on the link to find out. Yes, it is a sex pillow but for most couples that struggle to experience a vaginal orgasm, this pillow is so helpful. You may not think the investment is worth it; however, it is. Just adjusting the angle by those few inches can make all the difference in the world for her.
  7. Set of Soft, Luxurious Bed Sheets:  If you think you need silk bed sheets to be romantic, you’ve been watching too many B-Class movies. Instead, take time to get a good set of soft, cotton bed sheets. They do not need to be expensive or made from Hand Woven Egyptian Cotton. Instead, make sure your bed sheets are comfortable and breathable.
  8.  Love Talk Devotional:  We each have our own copy and will share with each other how that day’s devotion spoke to us individually and into our marriage. We may not hit each day, every day, but we do try to be as consistent as possible with our time together to share where God is taking us in our marriage.
  9.  Lubricant with Applicator:  Seriously, this is so essential as well towards sexual intimacy.  Most women, especially as they get older, suffer with vaginal dryness. This will inhibit physical intimacy due to the pain and friction that can occur. Having a good water based lubricant and also investing in an applicator, can make sex more pleasurable for both wife and husband.
  10.  An Adult Toy/A Vibrator: This may be a taboo or uncomfortable last item for some of you. A vibrator may mean that it is now a focus of self and takes away the intimacy between a husband and wife. That will only occur if the vibrator becomes the only focus of intimacy.  It is a tool for the husband and wife to explore and understand each other’s bodies. The husband will have the opportunity to learn from his wife as she shares with him the places to touch and massage, both vaginally and with her breasts.  The woman can use it to stimulate her husbands penis and increase his arousal as well.  Many women struggle with a vaginal orgasm, so with a vibrator, the husband can bring her to an initial orgasm, then enter her while she uses it to build to multiple ones during intercourse, or she may not need it at all.  Again, it is a tool to learn and have fun with as a husband and wife.  It will bring a sense of oneness.
Finally, there is one item that is not on the list but it is the priority of the intimacy in your bedroom. It’s a question that should be asked everyday before you leave your bedroom as husband and wife. Either right before bed or as you are getting up and getting ready for the day. Daily ask each other, “How can I pray for you ?”  That’s it. Once you do, listen, share and do it for each other. That one question will tie up the three facets of Intimacy: Physical-Emotional-Spiritual.
You may have another list or feel that you could add to this list. So please share. We would love to hear from you!
Joe & Kerry

Paying Attention to Detail

“Be careful to obey all My commands, so that all will go well with you and your children after you, because you will be doing what is good and pleasing to the Lord your God.”  Deut 12:28


So I am still in the book of Deuteronomy. For those of you that know me well know that I have been in this book for the past 6 months and I am now finishing up chapter 12! Just have 22 chapters to go…

In the past two chapters, 11 & 12, I noticed that the phrase “Be careful to obey…” is stated 11 times.  The Holy Spirit had me to reflect and meditate deeper on that word-“Careful.” As I began to ponder the personal application He had for me, I also took time to look up the definition of careful. 

Careful: To pay close attention to detail. It implies attentiveness and cautiousness in avoiding mistakes. Making sure to avoid potential danger, mishap or harm. 

This took me back to my time as a Hot Air Balloon pilot. Before every flight, starting with the initial weather briefing through the process of flight to landing, I was to be careful in every step of my checklist. I was cautious and meticulous each and every flight. The responsibility as the pilot was to be taken seriously, regardless of the hours of flight I had. Each flight I was to make sure that the potential for danger, mishap, or harm was addressed and the decision to fly or not was taken seriously. I was careful every time.  

So now I looked at these past two chapters in Deuteronomy. “Be careful to obey…”   I had to be clear and transparent with myself, God already knows my heart, to see if i approached His Word as carefully as I did as a pilot. 

Am I cautious to really apply what He speaks to me through His Word? Do I pay close attention to detail or do I just try to pick out the “easy” stuff to obey? Do I approach His teaching as one that will keep me from danger or harm? Or do I read, think good thoughts, maybe even post an image verse but never allow the obedience through application to take root? 

Look at the second part of verse 28: “Be careful to obey all My commands, so that all will go well with you and your children after you, because you will be doing what is good and pleasing to the Lord your God.”

When I take time to truly apply God’s word into my life, life will be joyful, God’s attribute. I will be doing what God deems holy and righteous. And considering who God is, that’s a great place to be.

So how careful are you to obey God’s Word?

Joe

Social Media or Your Spouse? Which Do You Choose?

Yup, Social Media Can Erode Your Emotional Bond With Your Spouse
Cellphones, Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter and other forms of Social Media can either bless or break a marriage. When we learn to use these tools within the parameters of our marriage covenant, they can then greatly enhance communication between a husband and wife. However, that is not always the case. Many marriages have failed and collapsed around the selfish, misuse of cellphones, Twitter, Snapchat and other Social Media Apps. 

Here are three priniciples to apply in your marriage so as to avoid losing the trust and bond you share with your spouse while using these communication tools.

1. Avoid Secret Communications
    There is never any reason you should be having secret conversations or private chats with members of the opposite sex. These may start off as harmless text messages or IM’s that are just friendly in nature; however, those will soon grow into intimate conversations that will draw you away from your spouse. Instead, choose to protect your marriage, respect your spouse and don’t allow yourself to be led into temptation. Psalm 24:4-5

2. Be Accountable to One Another
     Have an open cellphone policy with your spouse. If you must have a password on your phone, tablet, computer or apps, then let your spouse know about it. Your spouse should have every right to read every text and every email you receive and send. Be so completely transparent that the issue is not “what are you hiding” but instead it should be “what happened today.” Ephesians 4:29

3. Put Down Your Phone!!
     If you and your spouse are together, there is nothing on Facebook, Instagram, or any other social media that requires your attention to be drawn away from your spouse. No nothing… I see it as rude and disrespectful to continue surfing or following posts and tweets when your spouse is right there next to you. Matthew 19:6
I’m sure that you may think of others, but this is a good start. Please realize that your marriage is ordained by the hand of God and both of you should be daily pursuing to be one in flesh, mind, and spirit.  

Joe & Kerry

Sleep Naked with Your Spouse!

Ya know another plus of being married…you get to have a slumber party with your best friend…EVERY NIGHT!!

Sometimes it is the simplest things that can really amp up your marriage, sleeping naked is one of those simple things you can do to improve your marriage.

Before you start throwing up objections and protests, read chapter 4 in Song of Solomon. Trust me, this is a beautiful expression of physical, sexual love between a husband and his wife.  How about these verses from Proverbs.

“Let your fountain be blessed,

And rejoice in the wife of your youth.

As a loving hind and a graceful doe,

Let her breasts satisfy you at all times;

Be exhilarated always with her love.”

Proverbs 5:18-19

Do you get where we are going here? Sleeping Naked is ok and very beneficial as well. Let me expand…
For the first 8 years of our marriage we rarely slept naked except for the occasional time when we, or me, was wanting to initiate sex. Yes, we had little ones and many a late night child excursion to attempt. Because of that, naked sleeping was not viable.

However, in the past 15 years Kerry and I have made it a point to come to bed naked every night. The exception is when we are at a Youth or Children Camp or Mission Trip, or if we are at a relatives home on vacation. Other than that, we crawl into bed sans clothing. 

First off, sleeping naked is quite freeing: Physically, Emotionally and Spiritually. It really is. Baring yourself while you sleep with your spouse builds trust physically. Think of it this way, your body will produce higher levels of oxytocin. This hormone is also dubbed the “Love Hormone.” The more it is produced while with your spouse, the closer you will become physically. Next, baring all between the sheets will draw you together emotionally. Be presenting yourself naked on a daily basis will allow you to not be ashamed of your body, as well as your spouse’s body, and instead you will be drawn closer together. Finally, this will draw you both together spiritually. Your marriage is the shadow of what’s to come in heaven. This includes oneness physically. God intends you to be joined to your spouse physically and no one else. I already shared scripture that supports this as well.

Now let’s be truly honest with one another…The act of sleeping naked is simply sexy and appealing to your husband and/or wife! That skin to skin feeling also makes you feel sexy. Like I stated before, skin on skin contact releases the hormone oxytocin which increases the feelings of comfort, oneness and intimacy. Oxytocin has other benefits as well like making you feel more aroused, increasing feelings of trust, lowers heart rate, reduces blood pressure and simply makes you more ready for sexual interaction. 

So, sleeping naked may just even put you in the mood for SEX. Yes, I finally went there…this will possibly lead to sex.  
So here are three advantages, or better yet, three benefits to sleeping naked!

Health Benefits 

Of course healthy spouses are happy spouses. Sleeping naked has been scientifically proven to improve health. 

Being close to your spouse and cuddling with your spouse is actually beneficial your health. 

Your skin can absorb more nutrients. 

Your metabolism will also improve because your body will have to work while you sleep to maintain that healthy body temperature of 98.6. 

For both men and women sleeping naked allows their genitals to “air out”. Your genitals are covered up all day, everyday which makes it an ideal environment for the overgrowth of yeast and bacteria which can lead to infection and discomfort. 

Sleep Benefits

More sound sleep equals less overall stress. 

Feeling less stressed means less arguing and nit picking in marriages. 

You may not believe it, but having a lower body temperature while you sleep actually helps you to rest better.

This is also an ideal environment for the anti-aging hormones to do their job. 

Sexual Benefits

Sleeping naked is also fun. What better way to end the day than to be skin to skin with your spouse.

It is an intimate way to sleep and will make you feel closer to your spouse. 

The skin to skin contact is a great way to get that intimate alone time that you cannot get anywhere else.

There have been nights when we go to bed exhausted and yet we are naked. Through out the night we are touching a feeling each other.

As a new day arrives and the house is quiet we find the perfect time to enjoy one another sexual and start our day off on the right track.

So here is our “Encouragement” for all you husbands and wives out there…

Free yourself from wearing clothes at night! Sleeping naked is a empowering situation for both of you!

Joe & Kerry

“MY CHILDREN WON’T LISTEN!” 9 STRATEGIES FOR A BETTER PARENTING JOURNEY 

“MY CHILDREN WON’T LISTEN TO ME!”

As a Children’s and Families Pastor I’ve seen a lot of different personalities and temperaments over the years. I’ve seen kids who have faced significant life challenges and show incredible resiliency. On the other hand, I have witnessed children burst into tears because they didn’t catch the ball in gym because they’ve rarely been allowed the opportunity to try and to fail in life. I’ve witnessed so many parenting styles that look good on paper but fail miserably in the long run.

When we as parents try to make things “comfortable” for our children, when we focus on “fighting” their battles for them, when we “shelter” them to the point of emotional stagnation…we begin to set up our children towards failure as they approach adulthood.

Instead, we as parents need to take time to invest into our children and guide and facilitate them in a positive and loving strategy towards emotional, physical and spiritual maturity. This takes sacrifice or our time and of our agenda. This means that we will place a priority on allowing our children to shape our souls as we in turn parent them as God guides us.

1. LEAD BY EXAMPLE:

Your actions are the biggest influence in your child’s life. They are looking to you to see how you interact with the world and respond to life situations. If you tell them to be kind but they see you demeaning the waiter when your order is wrong, they are more likely to follow your example than heed your advice. If you tell them that God is a priority in your life, yet they see you make excuses for lack of Bible study or not going to church as a family. “But we have an important tournament for you to compete in…” Know that little eyes are watching and YOU set the example of what your children will grow into. 

2. FRAME REQUESTS IN THE POSITIVE: 

Instead of saying, “Don’t hit!” say, “We use gentle hands” or “Hands are for high fives.” Current research states that when we frame our requests in the negative, most kids will only actually hear “hit” and disregard the “don’t.” When we frame requests in the positive we are not only telling them what NOT to do, we are telling them what TO do as an alternative. Your tone will also go a long way in making sure the request is not only heard but applied. Remember to Interact not Overreact.

 3. FOLLOW THROUGH:

In the heat of the moment, we’ve all threatened consequences we have zero intention of actually following through with. When you start a sentence with, “If you do that one more time…” whatever comes next must be practical, reasonable, and connected to the offense. When we don’t follow through, our children see no reason to stop what they are doing. If our follow through is unreasonable they lose their trust in us. Our response must be proportionate to the situation and act as a firm boundary to encourage positive choices in the future.

4. GET DOWN ON THEIR LEVEL:

Yelling across the room will rarely generate the result you desire. Kids are often so wrapped up in their activities, they’re often not intentionally ignoring you – they really don’t hear you. If you want their attention, turn off any competing electronics, crouch down, look them in the eye, and make your request.

5. CALL OFF THE RESCUE MISSION!:

Let natural consequences play out. Not doing their homework has a natural consequence of low grades. Not putting their toys away in time to go to a playdate has a natural consequence of not being able to attend. Constantly bailing your children out of difficult situations creates a false sense that someone will always be there to clean up their mess when they make poor choices. More importantly, it inhibits their ability to cope with bigger life challenges. As parents we never want to see our children suffer, but allowing them to solve their own problems will equip them with the self-confidence necessary to manage difficult situations in the future.

6. PROVIDE CHOICE WHENEVER POSSIBLE:

When we demand compliance, kids are more likely to rebel. Engaging in a power struggle is rarely effective and often damages your relationship. Instead of demanding they wear the outfit you picked out, give them a choice between two. Instead of demanding they clean up their room this minute, set a reasonable amount of time in which to clean it up. I’m not inferring that you should always give choices in every situation, there will be times that there is only one option and that’s the one they need to follow. What I’m trying to convey is that by seeing what situations: menu selections, clothing, play/activity options-These are great times to strengthen your child’s ability to make good decisions. Remember this, don’t Lord over your children…Love over your children instead.

7. MANAGE YOUR EXPECTATIONS:

Kids are not little adults. It’s unreasonable to expect that they will never make a mistake or be anything other than the perfect child you had envisioned from their inception. It’s up to you as their parent to recognize that they will mess up, and love them through it anyway. Practice unconditional love on your children and recognize their current emotional and physical abilities.

8. ESTABLISH BOUNDARIES:

When children don’t know what the rules are, they will continue to push up against the boundaries until you tell them what’s okay and what’s not. They were born to do this. Expect it. Plan for it. Kids feel safe and secure when they know where the line is and exactly what will happen if they cross it. I use the picture of a highway and guardrails. Initially, our children need to be on a one way road with super high guardrails. Then as they get older, the road becomes a two lane road then in time becomes a 3 lane to then even a four lane highway, all the while maintaining the guardrails so they will not go over the edge. Establish those boundaries, those lanes and guardrails for your children today.

9. FORGIVE OFTEN:

Kids make unadvisable choices every day. By extending grace and forgiveness you are teaching them empathy. It doesn’t mean there aren’t still consequences. It just means that you’re not going to define them by the mistakes they make. Kids need to know that you’re not going to hold their poor choices over the their heads for the rest of their natural life. Learn to let it go, and let them move forward. And likewise, if you need to ask forgiveness from your children, and you will-I promise you that, then seek forgiveness from them. You will be reflecting Christ in such a genuine and loving way.

Parenting is about the journey. It’s not a straight road, and you’ll have to take several detours along the way. If we as parents do our job right, seeking God at every turn and twist, allowing His Spirit to speak to us during those scary times where we feel we are traveling next to a cliff, then our kids will enter and engage this world just a little bit better than the day before.

Joe & Kerry