What can this actually look like? How can we be more present to God (who is always, ever present with us)? How can we, in general, be present to our lives—to our experiences, to our loved ones, to our work and our world?
Here’s a list of 22 ideas, but a big, giant caveat on such lists: No one person can do all of these things at once! And I’m not suggesting that you do – because I certainly don’t (and can’t). Peruse a list like this with your soul listening to the Holy Spirit. What one thing might you want to focus on? Or what new idea springs to your mind as you consider this? Go with it.
Live a little more.
• Make it a goal to laugh more today! Laugh and smile with someone you love.
• Pause from busyness to enjoy beauty: nature, music, art, ideas. Just 5 minutes can transform your mindset for the rest of the day.
• Immerse yourself in a creative endeavor: Cook a meal with gusto, write a letter to a friend (on actual paper), scrawl out a drawing, sing your heart out in the shower.
• Enjoy your work. Value the tasks or employment God has put on your plate today, be it housework, office work, or whatever. Find meaning it in – sacredness – and find joy in utilizing your skills and efforts to get a job well done.
• Move a little more. Get that heart pumping. Use that body God has given you. Exercise (and try to enjoy it).
• Pause to be grateful for your life. Say thank you. Say it again. And again.
Love a little more. Continue reading
Posted in Cultivating a Vibrant Faith, Resources & Links
Tagged Bible, Creation, faith, family, fasting, Flourishing Faith, hope, joy, Love, marriage, meditation, prayer, sex, worship
Enrich Your Marriage inevitably had to include an intimidating topic for me as a writer: SEX. I’m a private person and that, ahem, is the most private of topics. But I pushed past the nerves to discuss it in my book because it is so important.
Sexual intimacy in marriage can be the source of bonding and joy; it can also be an area of life that’s profoundly painful as couples deal with issues of neglect, low self-worth, lack of interest, pornography, unforgiveness, miscommunication, and so much more. It’s a difficult topic for a private person like me to write about, but it absolutely cannot be ignored in an honest discussion of marriage.
Common misconceptions and cultural lies about sexual intimacy in marriage only add to the difficulties many couples face in this area. Consider these 3 common misconceptions that I believe we need to eradicate from our mindset as we celebrate this God-created part of marriage:
Misconception #1: It’s like the movies. Hot steamy scenes in movies, TV shows, and even advertisements portray an appealing yet unrealistic brand of sexuality. Pastor and author (and my creative writing professor) Walter Wangerin Jr. exhorts us: “Society has no right into your bedroom. Its vision of sex is no more valuable to you than, say, its vision of love (which is always self-serving) or its vision of God (which is always blinded by human pride). . . . Your homage to it gives it power.” We can kick Hollywood to the curb here: No more homage to a false version of intimacy! Continue reading
This month we’re surrounded by hearts and pink and teddy bears. February — and Valentine’s Day — draws our focus to romantic love. So this month we’ll zero in on marriage.
And I want to start, not with cutesy or romantic or sexy thoughts (though we’ll get to those!) but instead with what I see (and have experienced!) as a really dangerous threat to marriage pervading Christian culture. What is that danger? Read and pray through this excerpt from my Flourishing Faith book Enrich Your Marriage:
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This book is just one of hundreds, thousands, maybe even bizillions of Christian marriage books out there. Some of the books are amazing and helpful, some are so-so, but I believe some of them are dangerous.
Because they feed two little monsters that can destroy homes and hearts. The monsters’ names? The Myth-of-the-Ideal-Christian-Marriage and its cute little sidekick the Myth-of-the-Ideal-Christian-Husband.
These little myth-monsters told us that in marriage we’d have an amazing sense of spiritual union with our outstandingly Christ-like husband. We’d have regular, passionate, exciting sex in which he’d always be deeply romantic. We’d be listened to, cared for, treasured, cherished, and prized every moment. Our intimacy with God would fuel our never fading sense of profound intimacy with each other. Our “in-love-ness” would last forever.
(I’m only slightly exaggerating here!)
Hopes, dreams, and excitement about marriage are good things. But when those hopes are built upon completely unrealistic expectations, they can only lead to trouble. The ideal of the perfect Christian marriage is false advertising—and, frankly, it’s not what the Bible tells us to expect. Continue reading
Posted in Cultivating a Vibrant Faith, Nurturing a Thriving Family
Tagged communication, family, gratitude, husband, ideal, journal, Love, marriage, myth, pray, romance, sex, Valentine's Day, wife