Don’t take the Wind out of their Sails- Communicating God’s Way

 

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Dad warned me in my single years, “You take the wind out of their sails.” Whether I asked for his advice or not—like father, like daughter. “You talk too much. You don’t always have to have the last word.”

This week I found a journal entry, Rolling, written those years. Timely in light of my recent daily prayer …for humility.

Rolling—

I’m so controlling,

I’m a ball that’s rolling

Over my man, again,

Taking the wind out of his sail.

My mouth,

A forceful gale.

God I need help…to stop myself,

I must lose

for us

to win

I don’t know what spurred this poem in those days, but we all know words have the power to build up or tear down. I’ve been working on my heart-mouth sync since I accepted Jesus Christ as Lord at 17. Then it was sarcasm and gossip. My delivery can take a twisted turn pretty quick.

Nowadays, I have a husband who picks up on the tiniest attitude, my sacred mirror. Bummer for me. I have to speak from a heart of respect and a thoughtful mind for a gracious delivery if I’m feeling at all tweaked.(impatient, judgmental, sarcastic,petty). Many times, silence is golden.

Pastor Greg Laurie gave a sermon at a harbor in Crete, Greece. Pointing to docked sailboats he explained in Ephesians 5:18 when Paul spoke of us being filled with the Spirit—it had the  meaning of these sails filled with the gusts of wind and ready for the journey.

James 3:4 says “although ships are large and driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go…”the tongue is like a little rudder that steers a great ship—

If any of you have struggled for a lifetime with mouth problems, I have found practicing spiritual disciplines really helps.

Start the day asking for humility and to be filled with the Holy Spirit. When we’re emptied of pride and selfish ways (impatience, judgment) we can be filled with His Spirit and gentleness—strength under control.

Jesus loves to be walking with us on this journey. He helped Peter, the impetuous apostle. He can help any of us who have the uncanny ability some will never know….to speak before thinking. Did I say that?

 “May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.”    Psalm 19:14

 

How does Your Garden Grow?

crabgrass plot

That nasty grass is back? Wow.

Yesterday I hunkered in the little patch across from the sliding glass door where our rose tree fell in the dirt midweek. Steve propped it up with a stake. Once again, I stood in the plot where I’d spent hours alone removing stones and crabgrass. It felt sweet to have a husband beside me now to tend our garden.

Spring a decade past I wrote my single’s book to the daily mantra, weeding and writing, as I tackled the backyard of my newly acquired fixer-upper. When someone suggested, “You have a garden with every person in your life,” I became more thoughtful while I weeded. How was I doing maintaining the garden with various friends and family?

I first practiced weeding sessions when I dated. We would share observations, disgruntled and negative emotions evident through body language—words and actions. Hidden grudges, like crabgrass roots, strangled our potential for growth. Once exposed and removed, seeds could be sown. Loving thoughts, kind words and acts could once again, nourish our heart.

Desire, time and commitment are necessary to create a fragrant garden.

Is there a child we are at odds with? An estranged sibling? Difficult parent or spouse? Every relationship requires maintenance. Critical thoughts as weeds, will be resistant. God counsels us through His Word to forgive misunderstandings or insults, wounds caused from ill-spoken words or apathetic responses.

Forgiveness yanks the weeds out immediately. If we clip the top and leave the root, though unseen, it will prevent our garden from flourishing.

 People are fragile. Handle with care. Hearts tended by affirmations and prayers will respond. We must move beyond the doubt of negative memories to the hope of belief for new tomorrows so we plant new experiences and rebuild damaged relationships. Cleared soil once dominated by weeds can blossom.

As we process our feelings and rehearse our thoughts with prayer, we become more skilled at speaking the truth with love. Words framed with respect and gentleness diffuse anger. Christ will teach us humility if we ask Him. He will show us the beam in our own eye before we confront the beam in someone else’s. When  stubs of pride are uncovered, the stranglehold of judgment, like stubborn deep roots—release. When judgment dies, mercy lives—mercy that triumphs over judgement. (James 2:13 KJV)

Gardening in the rain is so messy, I wait for better weather conditions.

Likewise, I am learning to observe the sunshine or dampness on my husband’s face. It’s like God saying When. Wait means more time to pray we are each receptive to the other. To be diplomatic goes beyond an agreement to discuss an issue. It is the intention to understand the other’s viewpoint, as well as to be heard. I love to weed after a good rain. When the ground is soft, the weeds come out so easy.

How do we live without grace? Not only offering grace to someone else but to ourselves? Each situation is different, even if it’s the same person. New information is needed. If we avoid conflict resolution or have not pursued building a relationship garden for awhile—our tools will be rusty.

When we pull unused tools out of the shed, we must trust God to begin.

He has equipped us with two patient ears to listen, one mouth to say less and a heart that beats to love as God designed. God, our Master Gardener. He knows how to prune anything and how to grow every flower and fragrance we can imagine—or can’t.

Pursue (think plant!)  righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience and gentleness of heart.

  1 Timothy 6:11 

copyright 2016  Dee Aspin

Dealbreakers, Unity and Minoring in the Minors

I wrote this as a single woman 3 years ago and now as a married woman..it still rings true. So I decided to repost it.

Dealbreakers. A counselor stated the Biggies, the ones difficult to overcome Anytime are the three A’s: Addiction. Adultery. Abuse.  But what are smaller ones that can tip the tea for two?

Do we know what we need to find peace and maintain stability before God and man on a daily basis?

What lifestyle choices  do we live out weekly, seasonally, annually that defines much of our activity in life—affecting those around us?  In relationships where we learn of one another and begin to grow together, we process more what our majors and minors are. Our dealbreakers. For any relationship to move forward we must major in the majors and minor in the minors.

For example, some people see their homes as a private place, their sanctuary from people. One of my first roommates was like this; she didn’t like visitors to come to the home. She would meet them somewhere. It floored me at the time. Some see their home as a place of comfort for friends and family and treat those who visit as extended family. They like lots of interaction outside and inside the home.

Are we active, outdoors people or homebody, gardener types? Homebodies enjoy their home on their time off. They don’t want to be running around busy on the weekends. They want to relax. Active people can feel trapped by walls. Which leads to the definition of relaxing. What is calming to one person is not calming to another.

Consider sound. Hard rock, jazz, country, quiet classical- tastes in music . HOw and when we listen to music can cause strife. Is it all day constant or just at mealtimes? I knew a man who waited for the days he had off and  his wife was at work so he “didn’t have to listen to his wife’s music.”

Is the television on all the time or never? Do we use the television like white noise to sleep or relax? Or does the sound of the television set drive us crazy?

How do we spend money to relax? Rented movies, big toy shopping trips… How do we spend money, period. Saver, spender, bargain hunter, tightwad? Do we view money as ours or see ourselves as stewards of the finances God gives us?

So many areas of a relationship can rock the boat of contentment and harmony and ultimately end the time a couple spends together. If they decide it is not something they can live out on a permanent basis.

Once I dated a man who had such a conviction about alcohol he did not want me to cook with it. Being Italian and cooking with garlic, onions, and wine felt natural. It was a difficult decision for me coming to terms with the extent of his addiction and my small sacrifice, which at the time, I resented. God changed me. This was a minor. He convicted me to stop trying to change his mind about the effects of cooking on alcohol. Instead I wrote a poem, which is what writers do with their feelings. Love demands of us a series of small commitments and sacrifices of time and effort to demonstrate love in action and shows God is working in us to create unity.

Accepting you, accepting me,

Discovering Places we agree,

Allowing differences to be.

Not trying to change, the path you have lived,

The convictions that give

You the power to walk,

In your faith….dearly sought

At peace in God’s sight as before Him you stand

I need not be right, for I do see His hand

Upon you, upon me,

Creating

Unity.

“If your brother is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love….for the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” Romans 14:15,17

Our Love Story- Ring Connection

When I started this blog 5 years ago, I wanted to include a category titled Ring Connection. Nothing encouraged me more as a single than to hear how God brought people together in marriage! What did it look like? How was this one so different than others they had dated? How did God speak to each of them that they knew this time it was special and could last? 

The next two weeks you will read our story in two parts. Yes, no longer ringless, God brought my husby (the blend of husband and hubby)  in His perfect time. Our hope is you be encouraged. God answers prayer usually outside of our time frame and beyond our understanding.        


The Friendship  spawned in 2008. Steve became Dee’s audiobook engineer for Lord of the Ringless. It was comfortable from the beginning. She lived a single active life surrounded by nephews. Steve had married at 20, for twenty-plus years and raised three sons.

Their Awakening  began in September 2011 when Steve was the only one of 10 invitees to show at the Auburn open- air Strauss symphony. Dee discovered the man with 7 guitars, enjoyed classical music. In late October after the Lord of the Rings Munich Symphony they discovered a mutual love of sports too, in particular, basketball and football.

Steve’s  SPARK  ignited in December attending an Inspired Writer’s Christmas party together. “I had one of those brief moments where Denise was the only person in the room- an Oh no, I’m think I’m falling in love moment.” Steve feared losing the friendship—but risked sharing his feelings Dec 30th. Unsure, of her feelings but enjoying the friendship, Dee suggested they continue doing things together and readdress the relationship later.

Denise’s April shower moment came on a book tour. At a Washington state rest stop, I opened my moonroof and gentle rain fell just as Steve’s eyelashes brushed my cheek—my first butterfly kiss. Wondrously, the verse from my morning quiet time with God danced in my head,

“The seed will grow well, the vine will yield it’s fruit…and the heavens will drop their dew.” Zechariah 8:12

DEWDROPS  have taken on a new meaning for Steve and Dee . They are gifts God drops from heaven to show His blessings and provision in seasons of sunshine and rain. Trusting God, believing Him for His promises remains significant, especially during this time of spotty employment for Steve.

And HUMOR . When Steve broke his clavicle, he became Bam Bam because he bounced twice on the concrete floor. Dee became Pebbles, his sidekick with the topknot. Words of affirmation lighten our daily adventure. Dee is POB , Princess of Buckingham and Steven, POW , the Prince of Wales, reflecting their English heritage. (Her “all” will transition to his “ell”)

Steve’s planned PROPOSAL unfolded a Dewdrop Saturday. He posed the M question on bended knees on the Pacific CrestTrail during a 10 minute interlude from a spring blizzard. God cleared the white out long enough to display gorgeous Sierra Crested white tops, sky blue Donner Lake and open heavens. Then the snow fell again—and a brilliant rainbow appeared. “The future is as bright as the promises of God,” Steve recited. Miracle Week followed…

( to be continued next Friday)

Is Dating like Climbing a Mountain?

“For every 3 climbers who reached her summit, 1 died trying.”

What does climbing one of the most dangerous mountains in the world, Annapurna, and dating have in common? If we think of the arduous trek to a summit and liken it to the adventure and emotional hazards of dating to find marriage, I think we’ve found something.

The hiker’s journal chronicled his slow ascent daily moving closer, “scary and safe.” Even in the best times I have felt that mix. Have you?

Yesterday an old friend told me about a childhood friend, still unmarried—who hasn’t dated in years. “He fell in love with a woman in another country while living there years ago. Her parents said no—it messed him up,”  Recently, I heard of another man who dated and fell in love early in life only to be scorned. His broken heart never healed. He hasn’t dated for years. Both these men have hearts that have not stopped beating. They are not dead, yet.

So what if they decide to try again? Besides praying for courage and starting conversation, some polling statistics gathered by a dating service It’s Just Lunch, are good guidelines for the starting phase of “getting to know you.”

Don’t’s on the First Date: 

  • 40% Talking about ex
  • 35% Using cell phone, texting, etc.
  • 19%  Not making eye contact
  •   3%  Talking business, money, career
  •   3%  Name dropping

Best Topics for Conversation First Date:

  • 52% Hobbies, interests
  • 24% Travel
  • 10% Family
  • 8% Movies
  • 6% Food

The Annapura climber shared, “as a teenager I avidly devoured mountaineering and polar narratives.” He is writing about his passion in Southwest Air magazine. The wives of the climbing team hid goodies in their packs. Their shared passion and support extended to giving their husbands great distance and weeks of separation .

Although faith isn’t mentioned, we never need fear sharing our passion if it is our faith, anytime on a date. (Considering some of us are more verbal than others, over time we will discover what truly fuels eachother) Because if it is in our spirit, we need a person who’s intent on climbing the narrow path Jesus spoke of, and packing for heaven.

And even if we prepare, pack well, give time and use all our experience to date a person and head toward a lasting relationship, sometimes the obstacles are just too much. Dating involves risk and energy.  The experienced climbers, Annapurna hopefuls, felt defeated by the avalanche. But they are still alive, because they abandoned camp after much study and thousands of miles. “Nothing felt right…I’ve learned by now to accept defeat. The mountain always calls the shots.”

But that doesn’t mean this is their last trip. Nor is it ours who are single and studying.

 

6 Signs of a Healthy Marriage

The president of Focus on the Family, Jim Daly, shared the six signs of a healthy marriage in a recent newsletter.  It is important for singles to know these signs also…especially in that process of meeting, dating and marriage. The research is from Dr John Gottman, professor emeritus of psychology at University of Washington and founder of Gottman Relationship Institute.

1. There are high levels of friendship, respect, affection and humor.

2. There is a ratio of 5:1 or better of positive to negative interactions during conflict. During normal conversation the ratio is 20:1.

3. There are successful responses to "bids for connection", ie. spouses respond to each other's attempt to connect and interact.

4. There are softened start-ups for conversation about disagreements.

5 The husband accepts influence from his wife.

6. The spouses are aware of and respect the other's needs, likes and dislikes.

Focus on the Family has a counseling line at 800-A-FAMILY  or visit the website at  FocusOnTheFamily.com