Friday, July 25, 2014

Is Setting Boundaries On Others Biblical?

There are many people writing and talking about boundaries they set for their spouses, friends, and relatives. This, for some reason, never seemed right to me. I think it is fine to set boundaries for yourself; boundaries for purity, for protection, etc. We are also to train and teach our children by setting boundaries for them; teaching them right from wrong.

Setting boundaries for anyone but yourself or your children seems wrong to me since we can't control anybody else's behavior. It seems like it is another way of saying you are trying to control someone else. Then comes in the problem of NEVER becoming a "doormat," since doormat is a dirty word today.

You see, the problem I have with the word boundary and doormat is that neither of these words are in the Bible. Yes, Jesus went away from the crowds at times for prayer and to be alone, but is that a boundary? It may be a boundary for Him, but not for others and He ALWAYS allowed interruptions to His "boundaries." He was mocked, beaten, and crucified on a cross. Was he not being a doormat for the world? Aren't we called to be like Him?

What about being called to be a "living sacrifice?" What about denying ourselves and giving ourselves to others? What about generosity and a servant being called the greatest of all? All these just don't seem to fit in with the so called "boundaries" people are setting up for others in their lives or the fear of being a doormat. However, we are never called to participate in sin for we must obey God rather than man, and if there is any type of abuse, call the authorities.

Shouldn't we be willing to be inconvenienced for others? Shouldn't we think of these times as golden opportunities to serve others? When we sacrifice our desires and wants for others, aren't we sacrificing our time and energy for Christ? When we give a child a cup of water, aren't we told we are giving Christ a cup of water?

Setting boundaries for others seems like psycho babble to me and not biblical at all. All this stuff about not being a doormat seems the same. If we insist on setting boundaries for others and not being a doormat, we will ALWAYS be unhappy when we are inconvenienced, interrupted, or asked to do things we don't feel like doing.

I  have just found in my own life, that the more I give myself and my desires away and serve others, the better my life becomes. When I don't need things to go my way and get things my way, the more joy I have. We are called to give our lives away and boundaries and not being a doormat just don't seem to fit into the biblical definition of being a godly servant for Christ.

But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant.
Matthew 23:11

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Dancing Through Life Together

Ali is my sister's daughter. I have watched Ali from the time she was born, grow up into a godly, young woman. She has had her ups and downs in life like everyone but she isn't afraid to try new things and experience life to the fullest. Well, the Lord has blessed her with her match. This picture was taken at Cassi's wedding in January. David, Ali's fiance, posted this picture along with these words under the picture ~

The last four months have gone by like the blink of an eye and yet I feel like I've known this beautiful girl forever. She shines like Jesus and loves and serves others in such a powerful way. I look at this photo all the time and am so thankful this moment was captured because it's more than a moment. It's our lives. I love you, Ali. Thanks for dancing through life with me!

Of course I had to ask Ali to write her love story for me since we all love a good love story and theirs is a true, God-ordained love story. Here it is in her very own words ~

I was always that girl {for the most part} who enjoyed being single and didn't have a deep desire to get married. Contentment in my current circumstances was a lesson that my parents taught us kids, as well as exemplified throughout our growing up years. So, last summer, moving up to Santa Barbara, CA at the ripe age of 25, I was content. The Lord was moving and working in my life, revealing beautiful truths of His in new, wonderful ways. I was excited about my career as a chef, growing my catering business, and enjoying my incredible church community up here. I even dated quite a few guys {Shh! Don't tell my Aunt Lori ;).} The last thing on my mind was falling in love with one and getting married a year later...Well, let's just say, the Lord has quite the sense of humor...Here's my very 'unorthodox' love story in a {long} nutshell.

A friend of mine, Josh Newton, from Westmont mentioned to me one day last summer that he has a friend named David or DJ, who has a company with quite a few men employees. For some reason, and knowing I'm a chef, Josh thought it'd be a great idea to 'surprise' DJ and the guys with a home cooked meal. Josh wanted to bless DJ for all his generosity over the year and didn't think DJ would argue. He didn't! Yet, Josh had schemed up another plan that he hadn't told DJ; he thought I could make lunch for the crew and perhaps DJ would want to hire me to cook for the guys everyday! At first, it sounded like a great, fun idea; however, I knew better than to get my hopes up. Nevertheless, we arranged a date for me to go into the office and cook a meal on September 10, 2013. A few days prior, I had met DJ for a 30 second conversation at a party, coincidentally!

I was so nervous to cook for the guys and was so shy I hardly said a word, but all went well. They ate their fill and enjoyed the meal. DJ hired me on the spot! Was I dreaming?! What was going on?! I was shocked {and still shocked to this day, haha!} I began cooking for the company a few days a week, which quickly turned into every single day, breakfast and lunch! I loved it! Over the next few weeks, DJ was in and out of town, so I saw him on occasion. Though I didn't know him too well, I was so intrigued by him. His genuine smile, kind heart, and gentle spirit, humble attitude and listening ears were all attributes that I noticed right away, on top of his ability to run an incredible company with such grace and poise.

Toward the end of September, DJ invited some friend and me to Lake Arrowhead, where he did a house swap with some friends of his. My dear friend, Kristi, and I joined the group and had a blast in the mountains. It was a sweet time with wonderful people. And, it was there that I first learned that DJ was interested in me. He put his arm around me one evening, and we had an 'accidental cuddle sesh' {again, don't tell my Aunt Lori! ;)} I thought it was a joke at first or an accident, but I learned that it wasn't. DJ, my boss, was interested in me! Is that legal?! Are employees allowed to date their boss?! I eventually learned that I was in the clear!

After Arrowhead, DJ and I started getting to know each other. I didn't want anything too serious {I was the girl who wasn't looking for a ring by spring! Or a husband at all...}, yet I was definitely open to allowing him to pursue me. And, pursue me, he did! What an incredible man DJ is! If it weren't for his initiative and beautiful pursuit of my heart, we wouldn't be together. He took me on a few fabulous, fun, special dates, yet we mostly spent time with each other in group settings. We essentially have the same community here in town, since we both went to the same college and now the same church. So, it didn't take much effort at all to get to know him. We enjoyed the process and still do!

End of October of last year, we had our first kiss and became official! And, yes, in that order. {Again, don't tell my Aunt that we kissed before we were officially boyfriend and girlfriend, just by one day though ;)} Beginning of November, we went on a work/mission/community trip to London, Amsterdam, and Kiev {Ukraine}. God did some incredible things on that trip, and I have to say, that's when I started falling in love with DJ. God was changing my heart! Apart from being attracted to each other and connecting emotionally, we were learning that our life-long goals, visions, and vocations were aligning. I never expected to find that in the man I was going to marry!

On Thanksgiving day, we spent a lovely morning reading the Word together, praying, and talking about what the Lord is doing in our lives. It was a precious time together. DJ then told me he loves me. Wow. I was not expecting that! Tears flooded my eyes as I received those simple yet powerful words. The moment I heard him tell me, I knew in my heart that I love this man as well! What an unforgettable moment.

David and I got engaged on Easter {David washed her feet and while washing her feet, told her he wanted to spend his life washing her feet, then asked her to marry him.}, which was my birthday and we are getting married the end of this October, our one year anniversary from when we 'became official.' This past year has been the most incredible and wonderful year of my life! It has been a crazy whirlwind filled with adventure, excitement, highs and lows, challenges, tears and laughter, growth, revelation, love and joy. While there have been many doubt and uncertainties this past year, I have never lacked in peace when it comes to my relationship with David. The Lord has been SO present all throughout our relationship. And, for that, I am grateful.

So, while I did enjoy my singledom and independence, I could not be more thrilled to marry the man of my dreams and beyond! He is the sweetest, kindest, most thoughtful, generous, and handsome {inside and out!} man I have every met in my life. His love for the Lord amazed me. His humility, sacrificial selfless attitude, and quiet confidence are so evident. He loves so well: strangers, his clients, his employees, his community, his church, his family, his friends, me, and our God. David has a gift for focusing on the positive and encouraging everyone he comes in contact with. He is a gift to SO many people. And, he's a gift to me. Lord, thank You for choosing David Jay to be my best friend, my husband, and the one with whom I get to go through life with. While I enjoyed my single years, I could not imagine my life without this man. He is the perfect fit for me. I cannot thank You enough. I am content. Very content.

Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth ~
for your love is more delightful than wine.
Song of Solomon 1:2

P.S. I forgive you, Ali! ;)

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Your Children Want YOU!

Robin has been reading my blog for awhile. Her life isn't easy, however, she is doing everything in her power along with God's power working mightily within her to raise her children in the nurture and the admonition of the Lord and be a godly, submissive help meet to her husband. She commented a few days after Eating Out And Taking Vacations was posted. Her words were wise words and I wanted to share them with all of you ~

If I may weigh in here: I am a full-time wife and mother now, but I spent over twenty years taking care of other people's children in my home and theirs. I share Lori's Christian world view and also her exegesis of the scriptures pertaining to wives and especially mothers, working outside of the home for pay without their children present {You cannot convince me that Mrs. Proverbs 31 hired a sitter so she could sell pretty fabric.} 

I can say with all honesty that not a single child that I cared for over those twenty years PREFERRED to be with me. They ALL wailed, cried, lay on the floor, pouted and moped in the morning when their mommies left. They ALL cried too much during the day - especially the infants. They ALL misbehaved right before their mother or father came home - having a sort of emotional crisis, if you will, at the time of transition from my care to that of their parents. 

If I could say one thing to working mothers {who are working by choice, and not force}, it would be this: count the cost. Know that your Nanny is NOT going to tell you that your child cried for five out of eight hours, screaming, "Mommy! I want Mommy!" because she knows it will break your heart in half. Your children want YOU. Not the Nanny. They want YOU. You are teaching them that anyone can do your job. You are the only Mama God gave them. You're missing their lives. Find a way - any way - to put your career on hold and GO HOME to your children. Please. 

Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you.
Isaiah 49:15

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

How Women Destroy Intimacy in Marriage

As I wrote about yesterday, a woman's battle is with her trying to control her husband. Ken commented on my post from last week the following about this issue when asked how I tried controlling him in regards to eating ~

Lori was raised to eat organic, eat lots of fruits and vegies, and avoid all preservatives. Then she married a junk food junkie who would have been happy with a salad a week, steak and potatoes, pizza and a Big Mac for all dinners. So the clash over food was inevitable, but it went from many discussions to an attempt to control after we got marriage. 

I now eat a steady diet of a huge organic salad with chicken on top almost every day when at home and have given up 90% of the sugary foods I once loved eating since I found organic cocoa protein shakes with banana and stevia. To me, it tastes like ice cream. If Lori had her way, I would be eating 50% less shakes and more "real food" but we no longer clash over it, and I no longer feel guilty. Health is important and one has to find balance to live life well. 

The main issue I got from Lori's desire to control is that I rarely was able to feel good in my own skin, or my own home. I could always read her disappointment with me on her face and lips. I am sure it is subconscious for most men and women that when their spouse does not act or do what they think is right they consciously or subconsciously punish them with their mood. It doesn't have to be a mean mood to punish. Just not smiling or as joyful as much, or a frown, or a stare in the other direction and your spouse gets the point. 

"I am not happy with you right now, so I can't be warm and joyful around you. Look what you do to me when you behave in a way that I do not like. You make me feel badly and it hurts our relationship." 

I am sure this is how many spouses feel when they put on their moods or give out snide remarks. "It's your fault that YOU are making me feel this way and I'm no longer in a good mood. How do you expect me to give you great sex if you keep doing this to me?" 

What most people do not know until they grow up, {and yes, most men and women have still not grown up}, is that the only person you can control is yourself. Not only can't you control another person, it almost always backfires in ways that you might never suspect. Even if you get your way you do not win the husband over, because he may capitulate to your ways, but his spirit is not in communion with you. You have won the battle but are losing the relationship you really want to have. You keep asking, as Lori did for many years, "Why can't we have an intimate relationship!?!" 

I have always been 100% committed to our marriage with a strong desire for true heartfelt intimacy with my wife. But what I have discovered is that the more I would move her way in doing things, the more the target would move to a higher level of needs, desires, feelings and control. It got to a point where I realized I cannot please this women by living life her way. It was not until I threw off the shackles of trying to please my wife, and instead began to tell her "no" I am going to go play golf now... or "no" I am going to eat this burger now, that I began to feel good about my life and stop walking on eggshells in my own home. To realize that I cannot control her, and if she wants to be upset over a burger, then so be it. Let it not rob my joy. 

The interesting thing I have seen is that true intimacy cannot flourish apart from vulnerability, and vulnerably is the opposite of control. It is when we give up control to our heavenly Father and rest on His desires in our life that we draw near to him, and trust Him, and walk by faith in the Spirit. When we try to control our own lives and the people around us what we are really doing is say I lack faith in you, both your spouse and God. 

Don't get me wrong, I am not saying never have any boundaries, or set any boundaries with your spouse as one big blog is advocating today. No, there are times, but should be very few in a Christian marriage, when a spouse can and should set boundaries, but almost all of these should be related to abuse or sin, not ordinary life. If your spouse is involved in something abusive, only then should protections go up, and a realization that with every boundary comes less of a chance of winning your spouse back, or finding true intimacy.  

Just remember that control always requires more control to stay in control, and the one you are controlling may behave more like you want them to, but will give less and less of their heart away to you. Why? Because love is a choice and if I do something for my wife because of her mood and control, we both lose out on the opportunity toward true intimacy. I know how she feels and thinks after the second or third time she has said it. To go beyond that is to try to get her way, to manipulate, to control.

What most wives do not understand is what they long for most is intimacy, and yet they go about the opposite way with control instead of vulnerability. Giving yourself over to your spouse to allow him to lead you places the responsibility where it belongs, takes the burden off his shoulders that he always has to please or he is going to pay for it with an unhappy wife, and puts the responsibility of love on his shoulders to realize that this joyful, smiling, content, vulnerable wife of his is his responsibility to both lead and love as Christ loves the church. 

The sins of the garden are many in the one act of eating the apple and these sins play themselves out over and over again in far too many Christian marriages. The main sin was selfishness and wanting to be in control over what God had clearly spoken. Eve usurps Adam's authority, Adam usurps God's authority, and all of mankind is plunged into a vicious cycle of sin, wanting to be in control. True faith and intimacy go hand in hand for both your relationship with your spouse and our God. The more you try to control either one of them the further intimacy is pushed away, all because of a lack of trust. 

If you don't love me enough to trust me and to let me live my own life, then do you really love me? Or do you simply love yourself more and want to protect that love of self by using control? Selfishness is self seeking and love seeks the best interest of another in good times and in bad, and until death do us part.

Love...does not behave itself unseemly, seeks not her own,
 is not easily provoked, thinks no evil.
I Corinthians 13:5