It’s like we were two ships passing in the night. Something was out of sync, and my husband and I just weren’t connecting in the everyday.
I think he thought everything was fine but I was frustrated by how little we communicated.
He got home after I put our son to bed which left only a few brief hours together before sleep. My husband was tired from working all day and teaching jiu-jitsu after work.
When he came home, he showered and sat on the couch to catch up on his favorite TV shows. I felt undervalued and overlooked. It seemed like I was only receiving the leftover scraps from his day.
When he was finally interested in connecting on a physical level my love tank was low, and I was half asleep. How could I be in the mood or right frame of mind?
Studying my spouse
As an engaged couple, we attended a marriage retreat in which we learned the value of studying your spouse. Something about studying my husband stuck with me.
My husband is a creature of habit. I started paying attention to see how I could interject myself into his daily routine.
Every night when he got home from jiu-jitsu he showered. One night I asked if I could join him in the shower. He was surprised by my new gesture and welcomed my company.
While under the spray of water, he told me about his day. In fact, he didn’t stop talking. I was floored!
So the next night when he got in the shower, I jumped in too. Once again he talked my ear off, then he asked me about my day.
After a week of this, I knew I was onto something. We were communicating and connecting on a deeper level. It was amazing!
Had I never joined him in the shower, he would have gone about his normal routine, and I would have felt deflated. Instead, our “shower talks,” became our new favorite time of day.
His schedule changed, and he no longer teaches after work, but our “shower talks” are still a part of our daily routine.
One Small Win: Through studying my husband, I discovered an opportunity to make more meaningful connections. I helped foster a safe place where we both could share freely, resulting in both our emotional and physical needs being met. We found a true connection in an unlikely place.
What About You?
Is your husband a creature of habit? What are his routines? I encourage you to study him and discover where you can interject yourself into his life. Finding unconventional ways to meet your husband in his daily habits will do wonders for your marriage.
Julie Landreth has a passion for healthy and thriving relationships – especially in marriage and friendship. She is a speaker and a “wife coach” who loves sharing with women her passion for prayer and ways to actively cultivate a thriving marriage.
She leads a growing number of women in San Jose, CA through her curriculum: Consistency and Persistency: The Art of Praying for your Husband. Having been married 12 years, she and her husband cultivated a marriage filled with intentional love, effective communication, sustainable fun, and a date night every Friday night for the last nine years. She also finds deliberate ways to spend quality time with her nine-year-old son who shares many of her artistic talents.
I had failed.
My failure felt huge, as if someone had come into our backyard with a backhoe and dug a hole as large as our house. And now I was sitting by the hole—broken, beaten down, discouraged—trying to fill this huge hole back up with one teaspoon of dirt at a time.
For me, this feeling of having failed big time—so big that I couldn’t imagine any hope of repair—happened in my coaching business.
Have you felt failure?
Maybe you’ve felt this way, too.
- Maybe you felt defeated in a relationship with someone you loved. Now you are no longer speaking.
- Maybe you’re blaming yourself for your child’s poor choices.
- Maybe you tried something new at work only to have it backfire.
The exact details of my failure aren’t important. Let’s just say they involve regretting a large financial investment, hurting from many misunderstandings, and feeling totally discarded. As if all of a sudden, my work and I didn’t matter any more.
A failure too big?
As I processed the pain and loss, I began to change my thoughts about this event, which originally felt like a failure “too big to fix.”
Changing my perspective on “success” and “failure” actually helped me to gain more momentum than if the “failure” had never happened.
For years, I wrongly believed success in business meant I would reach a point when I no longer “failed”.
Do you feel this way about parenting, work or relationships? Are you just waiting for the day when you make your last mistake?
Here are a few new ways I’ve learned to look at failure from studying high achievers.
- They accept making mistakes is a natural part of succeeding.
- They learn from their mistakes.
- They do not allow the fear of failure to hold them back.
God never stopped working in my failure
If you’re anything like me, you’re probably way too hard on yourself when you make a mistake.
Maybe you feel like you’re sitting by a huge hole. A failure of your own that feels too big to fix! Trying to fill it back up with a teaspoon.
God honors the smallest thing we do. It’s as if He comes in behind us and throws in shovelfuls of dirt when we aren’t even looking. Over time, the hole fills back up.
One Small Win: Today, let go of putting so much pressure on yourself by expecting a “failure-free” life. Instead, accept when you make mistakes or even fail, God still works.
Success isn’t all “up to you.”
Watch and be astounded at what I will do. For I am doing something in your own day, something you wouldn’t believe even if someone told you about it.” Habakkuk 1:5
How does it change things for you to realize that failure is a necessary part of success?
Mary Lou Caskey trains Christian coaches and communicators to influence hearts through the power of story. If you want to become a transformative story-teller, click here to connect with Mary Lou and get her free quiz, “Is It the Best Time to Share a Personal Story?”
I struggle with bitterness.
It’s not something I love to admit, but it’s my reality.
Struggling with the same issue over and over is like being drawn into the warm glow of a campfire only to realize you’ve actually stepped into a raging inferno – again. It’s ugly. It’s exhausting. And it’s overwhelming.
Holding my bitterness captive
When God brought my struggle with bitterness to light in my early 20s, I took hold of a simple, yet powerful way to combat it: a notecard with a Bible verse written on it.
I know, I know, this seems too simple to have any type of impact. But let me share with you how it helped me hold my bitterness captive.
In my mid-20s, several of my friends married. They found their Prince Charming’s and set off into the sunset. I sludged away at work and the single life. It wasn’t where I wanted to be.
I had yet another friend get engaged, and I was asked to be an honorary bridesmaid (yes, not a real bridesmaid, but a JV bridesmaid). I was still honored to have been asked, so I agreed. One of my other single girlfriends and I fulfilled our bridesmaid responsibilities together for our mutual friend. However, over the course of our friend’s engagement, I noticed my friend’s snide remarks and expressing her desire for the wedding to be over. She was cold, calloused, and angry. In other words, she was bitter.
And it made me sad.
The ravaging of bitterness
I had an up-close-and-personal view of bitterness and how it ravaged her. And I knew I didn’t want that to be me.
It was after this I claimed scripture over this sin in my life.
Enter the notecard with a verse written on it.
When faced with circumstances that caused my bitterness to rear its ugly head, I took a notecard and wrote a scripture on the notecard that specifically pertained to my struggle. Then I carried it on me. Literally. I folded the card and kept it in my back pocket. And whenever those ugly feelings of bitterness seeped up, I whipped out my notecard and read the verse over and over.
And you know what happened?
As those words permeated my heart and mind, bitterness began to erode. Suddenly, my bitter heart was now one defined by joy and peace because of the transforming power of scripture.
One Small Win: If you’re stuck in the overwhelm of bitterness – or any other sin that seems impossible to overcome – get your pen and notecard, then find the Bible verse that will be your battle cry. When those moments of temptation arise, divert your eyes and heart to the notecard with truth written on it. Soak up the truth and walk in it!
So, what’s your struggle? Grab a pen, notecard and your Bible and take your first step toward claiming victory!
Here are a few scripture recommendations if you need to let go, move forward or live boldly!
Kate Hollimon delights in helping women learn their God-given purpose while growing in Christ through the study of scripture. Kate is a speaker and blogger who designed the Live Your Purpose Workshop to help women discover their purpose to glorify God. Kate is married to her husband Matthew of seven years and together they have two kiddos – a boy and a girl – and are in the thick of sippy cups, potty training, temper tantrums and peanut butter and jellies. Connect with Kate at www.katehollimon.com.
by Shaunti Feldhahn
You know that colleague or family member who drives you nuts? The one who second-guesses everything you do, is super-sensitive, and doesn’t return urgent emails for help?
No, wait, that would be my colleague! You probably have a different relationship that drives you nuts. Your grumpy step-father or passive-aggressive sister. A daughter with an Olympic level skill in eye-rolling. Or perhaps it is your spouse, as your marriage has slid from happy to hurting.
Or maybe it isn’t a bad relationship, but a good one … and you want it to be great.
Well, I’ve got great news. I’m a social researcher; and after years of study on what we call the 30-Day Kindness Challenge, we found three actions anyone can do to transform any relationship. Because targeted kindness is a superpower that will soften any heart.
Including our own!
Here’s what you do. Pick the person with whom you want a better relationship. For 30 days, you will:
- Say nothing negative about your person—either to them or about them to someone else. If you must provide negative feedback (for example, to discipline a child or correct a subordinate’s mistake), be constructive and encouraging without a negative tone.
- Every day, find one thing you can sincerely praise or affirm about your person and tell them, and tell someone else.
- Every day, do one small act of kindness or generosity for them.
That’s it! So simple. And yet in our research for The Kindness Challenge, 89% of relationships improved!
What does this look like in practice? Well, suppose you and your husband have been irritated with one another for months. Now every parenting decision is a battle, and your feelings are regularly hurt.
During the 30-Day Kindness Challenge, you resist the urge to ask “Why did you let the kids stay up so late!?” And you completely stop yourself from venting about it with your girlfriends at work. (This is just for thirty days, remember!) Instead, you’re looking for things to praise. So you notice it was really nice of him to come home early to get the boys to football practice. You thank him for it – and then you tell your girlfriends at work about that nice thing he did.
You’re also looking for that little act of generosity to do each day. So when he’s super tired after work, instead of getting annoyed that he’s not helping with dinner preparation you sincerely say, “I’ve got this. You go watch the game for a few minutes.”
Trust me: Starting this process will show us a whole lot about what needs to change. Not just in the other person: but in us. You will see just how negative you have been, in ways you never realized before. (In The Kindness Challenge, I outline the seven distinct types of negativity we found in the research, ranging from exasperation to overt criticism to suspicion. I strongly recommend you find out your negativity patterns, so you can watch for them!)
One Small Win: But as you go, you will also see something amazing: you will see your feelings changing. You’ll start appreciating the other person more. You’ll see their defenses lowering. And you may see enjoyment and positivity in the relationship you haven’t seen in years. An effort toward kindness won’t solve every problem – especially the big ones like addiction – but it will make them easier to solve.
I hope you will sign up for the 30-Day Kindness Challenge! Get a group of friends to do it together. Be a part of a movement of kindness in our culture – and in yourself!
Shaunti Feldhahn is a social researcher, speaker and best-selling author of books such as For Women Only. She thinks Kathi Lipp – and anyone who loves Kathi – rocks the world. She hopes all of you will go rock the world with kindness.
I was sick when I was pregnant and not just a little bit. Doctors diagnosed me with hyperemesis, which I loosely translate into “throwing your guts up day and night.”
When I got pregnant the second time, people assured me every pregnancy is different. And they were right. The second time was worse.
I sank into despair
For a woman who had led a largely sheltered and happy life, the sickness and helplessness overwhelmed me. Even though I knew the suffering would end with a blessing, my baby boys, I drifted from discouragement to despair. And then I sank. I also followed a harmful pattern that made everything worse. For the first time since I had fallen madly in love with Jesus, I didn’t pray. I didn’t read my Bible. Instead, I withdrew from God.
Just a month after my second son was born, I developed a close friendship with a woman named Linda whose sons were the same age as mine. We were both sick during our second pregnancy, but her nausea had a different source. It was caused by the chemo she was receiving for a rare and aggressive form of breast cancer.
Faced with a terminal illness, a new baby, and a grieving family, my friend didn’t react to overwhelmed by pushing God away. She drew close to Him.
In her truly overwhelming circumstances, she administered David’s remedy given in Psalm 62:8, “Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.” (NIV, emphasis added)
What my friend taught me about seeking God
Instead of withdrawing from God like I did, Linda’s secret was that she withdrew each day with God. Linda brought all her emotions to God and let Him help her. She didn’t try to fake cheerfulness in His presence or avoid Him completely. Instead, she trusted Him with her feelings and found Him to be her refuge.
If you’ve made my mistake and developed a pattern of withdrawing from God instead drawing close, I have an action step for us to take. Let’s set a reminder on our phone or a write a note on our calendar each day at a specific time that says, “Pour out your heart to Him.” When our daily time arrives, let’s take the next five minutes to bring our honest feelings to God and ask Him to help us with them.
Creating a new pattern of withdrawing to Jesus in overwhelmed times instead of hiding from Him means we access His power, strength and peace to face the day. We’ll not only build deeper trust in God, but just like my friend Linda, we’ll strengthen and inspire others.
One Small Win: In the past, have I responded to overwhelmed by withdrawing from God or with Him? What steps can I take to either change or strengthen that pattern?
Amy Carroll is a speaker and writer for Proverbs 31 Ministries. She’s the author of Breaking Up with Perfect as well as the director and coach of Next Step Speaker Services. Amy and her husband live in lovely Holly Springs, NC with a bossy miniature dachshund. You can find her on any given day texting her two sons at college, typing at her computer, reading a book, or trying to figure out one more alternative to cooking dinner. Share life with Amy at www.amycarroll.org and on Facebook.
by Amberly Neese
Don’t get me wrong I appreciate the freedoms and opportunities money can afford, but the lack of it is draining.
My husband and I have been in full-time ministry for most of our lives. Budgeting has been a necessary reality since the beginning of our union. Dental bills, unexpected car repairs, medical issues, and the cost of everyday life created stress for us in various seasons but nothing could have prepared us for nine months of unemployment.
The cost of unemployment
We had just moved so I could accept my dream job at a Christian camp in the mountains of Arizona. I left teaching, took a pay cut, and trusted God’s call. Everything was awesome until my husband started looking for a job. He has a Master’s Degree from USC (on a full ride), decades of experience, and, frankly, he is a good guy. Nothing. No one seemed to have a need for that which he had to offer. It was arduous.
The tension in our home with our teenagers and between my husband and I became palpable. An increase in raised voices and shed tears precipitated a change. That change came in the form of a trip to the dollar store (God bless the dollar store).
We bought polished rocks, a candle, and a Sharpie. I pulled out an old glass hurricane lamp and charger plate from the garage and got to work. I put the candle in the middle of the charger plate, placed the hurricane over the candle and spread the rocks all around the outside of the glass. Then I called a family meeting where I told everyone anytime we felt overwhelmed or frustrated, we needed to contribute to our family’s ebenezer.
A family ebenezer
Ebenezer is more than the name of the lead character in that old Christmas story. It comes from the name of a stone raised by Samuel to commemorate a victory over the Philistines at Mizpeh (I Sam.12). The word itself comes from the Hebrew (ebhen “stone” + ezer “help”). God often asked His people to remember His goodness by building an ebenezer to remember His faithfulness. God didn’t do it to feed His ego, but instead, He knew we’d need the reminders.
We have very short memories in times of trouble!
Each person in my family was given a few rocks and asked to write something God had done to show His love in the past week. We used the permanent marker to scribble our ideas on the rocks. Anytime we saw the hand of God provide for our family, we wrote on a rock and placed it on the inside of the hurricane glass.
They served as our reminders
By the end of the unemployment drought, we had gone back to the dollar store three times to buy more rocks. Even on days when our financial situation looked bleak, it was very difficult to feel sorry for ourselves. Written on every rock we saw His faithfulness evidenced on a daily basis through others, circumstances, and His church. The arguments dissipated and the joy quotient vastly increased.
Someday when my kids leave the house to start families of their own, the first thing I will send with them is the makings of an ebenezer. I pray when they face the tumult of difficulty, such a visual reminder will commemorate God’s faithfulness, and the “joy of the Lord (will be their) strength.” (Nehemiah 8:10)
One Small Win: As we built an ebenezer, He built in us a solid trust in His provision. When we removed some of the rocks, we were reminded of all that had happened. We were flabbergasted at the creative ways God provided for our family.
Amberly Neese is a national speaker, author, and humorist with a passion for pointing others to the joy found in Christ. She has won hearts (and funny bones) of people all over the country at hundreds of conventions, camps, seminars, retreats, and chapels. She also serves as the program director at UCYC and an adjunct professor at Grand Canyon University. Amberly received her Master’s degree from Biola University.
Amberly has been married to Scott Neese since 1992. They have two kids, Judah and Josiah. They live in beautiful Prescott, AZ and love the Food Network and all things Star Wars. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram.