I grew up in a church that was focused on following the Ten Commandments and being a good person to get to Heaven. I think my “works based” up-bringing spilled over into the way I approached life for many years. I was on a pursuit to do as many good things as I possibly could. I was a total “Yes girl” and I did a lot of great things to prop myself up to feel important and on the right path.
In College, I learned about having a personal relationship with Christ and discovered that I didn’t need to measure up to go to Heaven. I remember feeling so free from having to perform that I honestly didn’t know what to do with myself. I had worked hard for so long, it was kind of ingrained in the way I lived life and those habits took time to die away. I still to this day have a tendency to want to whip the world for Christ! I mean, I really long to do great things for Him, but over time I have come to realize that He wants a relationship with me more than He wants me to strive in doing good. He simply wants me to rest in His loving arms! This is such a tough concept to grasp when you have lived your life in such a different way for so long.
A couple of years ago, I had the opportunity to seek God’s plan through a Life Coaching experience. It was a phenomenal adventure and time where God gave me a clear vision for my calling in this life. The vision statement that I sensed Him putting on my heart was this…
“I am a woman of God who is LOVING, LEADING, and LIFE-GIVING who desires to ENCOURAGE, EQUIP, and ENGAGE people (especially women) to pursue God’s plans and purposes for their life.”
I thank God for the opportunity to catch His vision for my life. It gave me a renewed sense of purpose and it has given me permission to clearly know what I should say “Yes” to and when I should clearly say “No” to an opportunity that is presented before me. I also thank God for this clear calling on my life because it has helped me to embrace the new season that I am in, the one has my teens leaving for college in a couple of years.
Prior to Life Coaching, I was holding on to the past, uncertain of the future ahead of me. I thought that all that was left for me was menopause and mammograms. Now I know that God has great things in store for me. I don’t necessarily know what my future holds, but I do know who holds my future. I am confident that God isn’t done with me yet, that there are still things that I can and will do to make His name famous. I am excited to see what God has around the bend and I am claiming His promise in Jeremiah 29:11 that says, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a future and a HOPE.” I praying this promise for your life, too!
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Once a month, I get to write about living life with intention. In light of the fact that we are celebrating our 22nd Anniversary today, it seemed rather appropriate to talk about being intentional in marriage.
I can hardly believe that I have been married to Rob for 22 years! It seems like just yesterday a handsome, outgoing man caught my eye in a little country church. It was a snowy, December Saturday and I had traveled from Kansas City to be the guestbook attendant in Dona (Rob’s sister, my friend) and Chris’ wedding. It’s literally a miracle that I even made it to the wedding. The roads were treacherous and it was snowing to beat the band. I don’t like to drive on slick, snowy roads, but my loyalty to make it to my friend’s wedding trumped my fears of getting stuck in a snowstorm. I am confident God knew that day I would be meeting my future husband and He made sure I arrived there safely.
I had met everyone in Rob’s family while serving as Activities Chairman in our sorority house. I had planned Brother/Sister Weekend, Dad’s Weekend, and Mom’s Weekend. Dona had always talked about her older brother, but I had never met him because he was 4 years older and already in the corporate world. From the moment I saw him, I could tell that he was Dona’s big brother. For some reason, I was immediately drawn to his outgoing personality, as I watched him do what he still does to this day. He was working the room and making sure everyone was doing well. Eventually we had the chance to meet and I could tell he was a good guy, the kind you want to know. Not much happened that night and I didn’t think it would be appropriate to tell my friend, “Hey, I’m kind of digging on your brother,” so I headed back to Kansas City to continue life there with Rob in the back of my mind. Dona and I would talk on occasion and we had the opportunity to catch up several months later. She asked me how I was doing and I told her that I was dating around, but I hadn’t met anyone that I could spend the rest of my life with, that I was looking for a good, Christian man, but it just hadn’t happened yet. Dona was the one who brought it up. I think her exact words were, “I think you and Rob would really hit it off.” I agreed and the rest is really history. We could both tell that God was bringing our lives together. In hindsight, it all happened really fast. I can’t even believe that I was somewhat carefree about the second most important decision of my life, the first being my decision to accept Jesus into my heart and my life. My parents always told me that I would just know and the funny thing is they were so right. I have never been so confident about something in my life!
What I didn’t know at the time was how incredibly hard marriage can be. Love and romance are so much fun, but the tough stuff like finances, career choices, relocations, miscarriages, infertility, and parenting are kind of difficult to navigate at times. It wasn’t even 52 days after we were married that Rob was in a really bad accident, spent 19 days in the hospital, and almost died at one point in his hospital stay. Here I was a brand new wife signing papers to let the doctors go in for exploratory surgery, all the way on the west coast, miles away from Kansas. My vows of being there, “in sickness and in health” became a reality right before my eyes. The hopes and dreams we had together were almost immediately tested in our marriage, honestly, we made it with God’s help. He has always been with us every step of the way, guiding and directing our steps, and even saving us from ourselves at times.
Marrying Rob was one of the best decisions I have made in my life and it hasn’t always been easy, but it is so worth it. There is no one else I would rather do life with, even with the ups and downs and the twists and turns that we have experienced in this thing we call life. The truth is, as long as God is in your marriage, you can make it through anything that happens and I’m not just saying that to sound good, I have experienced this truth first hand. Time passes by in a blink of an eye, I used to hear people say they had been married to someone for 20+ years and I would think to myself, that’s a long time, but it goes by so fast, so be intentional in loving well. That’s my plan and I am convinced that it’s God, too.
Top 10 Take Home Lessons I’ve learned in my 22 years of Marriage… (These are in no order of priority except #1 & #2)
Marry a man that loves God, even more than he loves you. (Yes, I just said that, more than he loves you because if he loves God 1st, he will love you well.)
Pray together, especially when you can’t figure out what to do. If you can’t pray together then still pray. It always helps to take things to God in prayer. He’s in control of it all anyway, so talk to Him about it.
Learn NOT to be selfish. If you choose to be selfish, you will be miserable. Marriage takes two people choosing to be selfless.
Celebrate & Have Fun! Don’t get so caught up in the daily grind of life that that you stop having fun together.
Take time to be together just the two of you. It will help you remember why you fell in love in the first place. Time away almost always brings things back into the proper perspective.
Savor the moments, every one of them because it’s the moments that mean the most when you look back on your life.
Forgive, Forgive, and Forgive again.
Talk about your day, talk about what is going on in your life, & share your deepest secrets and desires with one another. Communication will keep misunderstandings at bay.
Stay close in body, mind, and spirit. Be soul mates and lovers for life. Intimacy is a cool thing to be shared by the one your heart desires, so be intimate often.
Always tell them him love him, give him lots of hugs, and kisses, too.
**Bonus (This has been the difference maker in our marriage) It takes Loyalty, perseverance, dogged persistence, and a never give up attitude. These are qualities that are deeply underestimated in a marriage. Remember it isn’t always easy, but it is so worth it.
For Singles: If you want to be married someday, focus on #1. Pray that God will bring a man that loves God into your life and in the meantime focus on loving God 1st and becoming the woman that a man who loves God will want to be with. Seek God and serve Him. Your life doesn’t need to be on hold until you meet the one. God has great plans and purposes for you right now, so get about figuring out what that is and do it!
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The world will tell you that you can be anything you want to be and that you can do anything you want to do, but that’s not really the attitude God wants you to have about life! When you’re sitting in the driver’s seat, you tend to think you have life under control because you’re driving; and what you’re really saying to God is, “I’ve got this, just come along on the ride with me and bless me where I want to go.” You’re either in the driver’s seat because you don’t think you need God or maybe it’s because you don’t even believe in God.
“Many are the plan’s in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” – Proverbs 19:21
I’m here to tell you that there will come a day when you realize that you need to slide over and take a seat on the passenger side. It will be a “Jesus take the Wheel” kind of moment in your life and that’s just what happened to me a little over 5 years ago. You see I have always been the type of person that knows where I’m going and how I’m going to get there. I was set on a course that I had planned for my life! Did you notice there are a lot of “I’s” in the previous sentence.? I was still in the driver’s seat, thinking I had life all figured out.
I happened to be sitting in church listening to our pastor share a message on a particular Sunday. To this day, I can’t even tell you specifically what he was talking about, but I sensed God tap me on the shoulder. It seemed for some reason that I was on the wrong path and that I was actually supposed to be headed down a completely different road. Now I had never intended to purposely head down the wrong path in life. In fact, it was a noble road. I was educating future leaders in America, by golly, what was so wrong with that? Absolutely nothing, but what I had never done was to ask God where He wanted me to make a difference in this life for Him. When I finally did, the answer to that question led me to a very different place.
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