11.11.2016: What Is It All About???

 

If you saw my earlier blog, you realized that something special was on its way for unmarried people in or near New Jersey. Here it is!!!

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Come and join us for honest, open conversation (you can ask questions), with a Mix & Mingle segment on Friday, November 11, 2016 at First Baptist Church of Hillside NJ! The Mix & Mingle starts at 6:45pm with free refreshments, followed by the main event at 8pm. We will open with Praise & Worship from Seth Nix & Genuine Praise (videosFacebook). The conversations will be real……our guests keep it real when they share.

Our guest panelists will be:

Pastor Jerry & Tanisha Flowers of Redefined TV (videos & Facebook)

Kenyon & Taccara Martin of Empowered Couples (videos & Facebook)

Edward & Debbie Smith of MEET THE SMITHS (videos & Facebook)

All the speakers are focused on helping us who want marriage to be better prepared.

Click HERE to register. The entire event is only $20!!! I’d love to see you there!

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My Surprise Discovery in Relationships

I’ve been single (again) for a while; in fact, I’m approaching 10 years of separation and almost 9 years of being divorced. This journey has been by far the most rewarding aspect of my life, because the level of personal growth has amazed me. I must emphasize though that it isn’t “fun” being a divorcee or being the participant in a failed marriage. That feeling intensifies when I look at my now towering son, wishing things were otherwise. (Thankfully, he and his dad have a good relationship.)

So, I’ve recently made a startling discovery as I begin the journey to “not be single” – and that discovery is buried pain. Because I came from an emotionally abusive situation, I realized I needed to have a way (or two) to let the pain out and to begin the journey to heal. I signed up for counseling and went religiously for a few years. I started to blog (which is why this blog exists). I started sharing some of my lessons learned in convos with family members and friends.

As time went on, I had the strength to get back out and become active again; I started singing in the choir, teaching Sunday School, volunteering on the dental van for the company I used to work for, traveling, and so on. I even signed up the lil guy for sports. I felt I was doing well.

Now, as I’ve opened up my heart to someone new, some of the pain that I thought was resolved started rearing its ugly head. Things that I thought I’d never see again, reappeared. I was not ready for that, and wondered what happened to all the time of counseling, journaling, praying, crying, fasting and so on.

I think I know what happened: I am still on a journey towards healing, but without being in that situation, you won’t know how complete the healing is.

Think of someone playing a sport and spraining or breaking an ankle. They are carried off the field or court and to the ER. X-rays find the extent of the damage; they receive a cast or a wrap, and they are given instructions on how to manage the injury. They may also receive pain meds to take the edge off. In about 6 weeks they return to remove the cast. X-rays show that the bone or ligament is mended. The X-rays may show this fact (the healing), but the true test occurs when that athlete goes back out there and attempts to run, jump, kick or whatever they need to do. Pain may occur. Does it mean that the X-rays were telling lies? Was the machine faulty in what it displayed to the doctor or X-ray technician? No! Healing did take place, but now the ankle needs to be strengthened and conditioned to get it back to where it was (or stronger)! So the next step needs to be some type of physical therapy, and strengthening exercises. Once the athlete has completed required conditioning for their ankle, they will be able to run, kick, jump and do whatever else they need to do, and probably even better than before.

So here’s my heart; I have gone through the process of healing. My spirit is no longer hostile towards my ex-spouse. I can honestly say that I care what happens to him as the father of our son. So these feelings that resurfaced may just mean that my heart needs some conditioning and possibly more therapy as I adjust to changes.

I can also say this: anyone who has been through a traumatic situation must consider the importance of continued counseling. Get things off your mind, heart and spirit so that you can grow and become all that you need to be. Also, if you are dating seriously, talk through your fears or issues with that person so they can begin to understand your response to things. Here is another important point: Do not neglect or ignore pre-marital counseling. In fact, I highly recommend pre-engagement counseling as well so you are assured that you are heading in the right direction with your intended. This is highly recommended for people who want to marry again.

So that’s all, until next time!

Why Should I Wait Until I Get Married?

I’ve been reading, studying, reflecting and observing thoughts on sex outside vs. within marriage. This is a HUGE controversial topic even among Christians, so I want to share some of my thoughts on this subject.

I believe that many of the issues we face in our relationships today stem from how we handle them from the start. We may see someone we “like” and we get curious and strike up a conversation with them. We may like their car, their clothes, their personality, the fact that they are educated and/or earn tons of money, they are well-known or some other outstanding feature. But do we spend the time in getting to know the REAL person before we move any further with the relationship?

  • Do we know how they handle setbacks or disappointments?
  • Are they responsible?
  • How are they under stress?
  • Do they love children?
  • Are they kind to people whom they don’t need to be kind to?
  • If they manage people, do their direct reports cringe when they speak to them?
  • Are they up to their eyeballs in debt (without a good reason)?
  • Are they STILL married (or are they separated)?

Sometimes we bypass a lot of these important points so we can get to the “good part”: SEX. Isn’t that the purpose for hooking up with someone else, anyway? Right? Well, yes and no.

Those of us who are Christians believe that God created us on purpose, with purpose, and for a purpose. We are not randomly roaming the earth to see what we can get our hands on and what we can do to occupy our time and attention until we die.  There is a reason for our existence. There is also a purpose (or several purposes) for marriage.

  • Definitely one purpose for marriage is being fruitful and multiplying and replenishing the earth (aka having children).
  • Another purpose for marriage is to demonstrate the unselfish love that God has for us, as shown by the biblical analogy of Christ and His bride, the Church that He will return to take with Him to heaven (spotless, without wrinkle or any other tarnish).  As couples live out this real-life example, they learn to love unconditionally, to forgive each other every day and to be merciful, patient and kind in various scenarios and settings. One person may feel like walking away from it all because of daily challenges and stressors, but like our relationship with Jesus Christ, we are to remain loving, consistent and faithful regardless of the circumstances.
  • Then there is the purpose of social responsibility, where the man is leading and teaching a family to become more beneficial to society. Education, the value of hard work, and the daily walk of commitment to loving one woman and raising their children into productive adults keep the wheels of society turning for generations to come.

If we race past the cautionary moments (see the examples listed earlier) or ignore the purposes that marriage serves, how will we be able to keep a marriage going? Unmarried sex does not guarantee that a relationship will last.  I will hasten to say neither does married sex. What keeps relationships together is the foundation on which everything is built.

If a relationship is built on surface things (such as prestige, power & “toys”) then it cannot last. Even if both people manage to get married, life happens and over time the relationship will crack under pressure and eventually crumble.  Life happening can include the loss of loved ones, or birthing children with disabilities, or the loss of a lucrative position at a global corporation, or just plain ol’ LIFE! Some of these situations will knock even the most solid person off his/her feet.

So what is the tie to sex and all of this? The context of sex in a relationship is what matters here. If sex is the only thing that ties two people together, then the relationship is doomed from the start. If a lasting relationship is what is desired,  then getting to know the other person in various contexts is what is needed and should be pursued FIRST. Many of my friends are stating “friends first”, and I totally agree. Get to know the person first without the pressure of sex or romance. Who is this other individual? Let’s get to know them first.

God gave us the gift of self-control, but many of us will not acknowledge it or use it. We can control how we approach sex. Because sex drives are SUPER-strong, it’s best to know how to handle it before it goes beyond our control. Spending a lot of time alone with someone we are just getting to know is certainly not a great idea. We can have discussions but let’s be wise about where we meet, what time of day, etc. so we are only having discussions and spending time to get to know the person – and nothing else.  It really is possible, even in 2012, to get to know someone without getting naked. In fact, sex clouds our objectivity about a person, so we may tend to rationalize red flags and forge ahead with a doomed relationship anyway because of the bond we created through sex.

Being accountable to others who have our best interest in mind is another fantastic way to keep things in the right perspective. When we know that the person will ask us the hard questions, we will want to be able to tell them the truth as they ask. Having a discerning person (one who can see ahead) as a mentor is a definite plus. They can help us remain aware of potential issues that can take us off-course.

Having strong self-esteem means I won’t need to indulge in sexual intercourse so I will feel loved.  And testing the waters ahead of time to see if we are sexually compatible also means that we do not trust the God who made us (and who knows us intimately).  He knows how to meet every need that we have, so why would He not know what He is doing when He provides us with a spouse for life?

Relationships that are founded on building a strong foundation first will be able to withstand the tests of time. This strong foundation is especially important when sex cannot happen between partners (e.g. illness, childbearing, times of prayer that both parties agreed to, or travel).

There is so much more that can be said on this subject but I think I will end here for now.

I will post again soon.