Archive for the Hope Category

UNLEASHING THE K.I.S.S. MARRIAGE-“When Commitment becomes a Stark Reality”

Posted in aneurysm, Beauty from the Inside Out, Commitment, Encouragement, Faith, Friendship, Good Marriage, Hope, Life of Jesus, Making Wise Choices, Overcoming Struggles with tags , , , , , , , on April 4, 2013 by hmclaughlin

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This blog post is written by my friend Larry Dieno. I met Larry when I was facilitating a study called a “Life of No Regrets.” Little did our group know that one day Larry would be faced with decisions that would change the course of his family’s life. Larry’s words in this article ring true, because he has walked every step of this journey of faith and commitment.

April 19, 2003. Janet and I stood before God, family and friends to declare our love and commitment to each other for the rest of our lives. Little did we know how one day that commitment would be tested.

Our first nine years together were a whirlwind. We started out with five of our combined seven kids living with us, all of them active in a variety of sports and community activities. Rarely did we have time to just be with each other and grow our relationship, as our focus was mostly on the “crisis and kid of the day”. Without commitment to each other, our marriage may not have survived that hectic period in our marriage.

Gradually, not suddenly as we feared, each child found their way to some sort of independence. This new independence gave us the gift of time, but before we fully knew what to do with it…everything changed.

May 15, 2012, Janet suffered a ruptured brain aneurysm. This left her in a coma for a month and now began the long slow road to recovery, the end result of still remains unknown. Some would call this a tragedy and they would be correct, but that’s not how I choose to look at it. To me it is simply a life changing moment that required me to remember that day nine years ago and I spoke the words: “For better or worse, in sickness and in health, till death do us part.” We are all familiar with those words; we’ve all half listened to them as they were spoken at other people’s weddings. But when I got a call from my panic stricken son after he found his mom lying on the floor, those words resonated loud and clear and soon became a harsh reality. God spoke loud and clear to me that day, “Now it is now time to start living those words of commitment. “

So what does commitment look like? I had to remember that those wedding vows which were spoken in front of God, family and friends; were not just between the two of us. From the very beginning friends stepped up to help me by providing rides, comforting me and helping me to remember things that I had forgotten because of the distractions in the hospital. Commitment.

Our family is spread out all over this great land of Canada, and thankfully we have the means to move about it. All of Janet’s children were in Vancouver during the most critical days. Previously it had been hard to get them all together at one time but there they were… taking bedside shifts, comforting each other and supporting me during a roller coaster period of time. They remember it as one of the “best” times they have spent together. Thanks to technology, our family was able to keep in touch during this difficult time, and offer prayers and encouragement to each other. We still do this today, except now Janet can participate as well. We had family in Kelowna looking after our house and dog while we were away, and other people who don’t routinely engage in our family life made contact and offered support. Commitment.

I have been blessed with being part of a strong faith community and the relationships that we have built were definitely God’s way of preparing me for the changes to come in our lives. Without my faith and the network of people God placed in my life I would not have been able to live out my commitment to Janet. I would have felt fear, anger, despair and lacking in confidence to make key decisions. God’s commitment to me has enabled me to love Janet more than ever. God has taught me to trust that He is at work through this and He will do good things through it. Janet has progressed to the point where she recognizes the commitment so many people have made to help with recovery. This knowledge and awareness motivates her to keep working hard.

Commitment is a two way street. If you were reading carefully at the beginning of this article you would have picked up on the fact this is marriage number two for both Janet and I. We each spoke words of commitment to another person before. Did we fail previously? Yes. Were we uncommitted previously? No. You cannot truly commit to another person without them committing to you as well. God is committed to all of us and will never leave us. I am committed to Janet and will never leave her. Commitment seems to be lacking in the world today and I pray that our story is a testament to how true commitment has the power to overcome any adversity.

PLEASE STOP AND CHECK OUT LARRY AND JANET’S INCREDIBLE, INSPIRING MESSAGE OF HOPE

Here’s the link. http://vimeo.com/62907312

If you wish to learn more about commitment, Pastor Craig Groeschel taught a series entitled From This Day Forward that really hit home for me. You can watch it here.
http://www.lifechurch.tv/watch/from-this-day-forward/1

If you wish to follow our story more closely I invite you to our blog, http://www.houdieno.wordpress.com

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UNLEASHING THE K.I.S.S. MARRIAGE – 8 THINGS WOMEN DISLIKE WHAT MEN DO.

Posted in Beauty through Boldness, Communication, Control, Encouragement, Expectations, Finding Truth, Friendship, Good Marriage, Hope, Intimacy, Kindness, Life of Jesus, Listening, Making Wise Choices, Overcoming Struggles, Pleasure, Power of the Tongue, Tension, Uncategorized, Understanding each other, Valued with tags , , , , , , on February 16, 2013 by hmclaughlin

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No wonder there is conflict in marriages. After conducting these surveys I am convinced that men and women come from two different planets. But we are all magnificently and wonderfully made and it is up to us to unleash the mystery of our polarities. I believe with all my heart that God puts two people together to “sandpaper them into the glorious creations He designed them to become.” Let’s not sabotage that process due to our ignorance. OK men, are you ready to hear what women dislike what you do or don’t do?
PLEASE READ TO THE END OF THE BLOG FOR A POWERFUL AND PRACTICAL CHALLENGE.
1. Clam-up Charlie-This one spoke so loud I almost had to cover my ears. Women dislike it that men dismiss the value of honest and forthright communication.
• When they clam up and not say anything because they feel that what they say “won’t matter anyway.”
• When they want you to dismiss the details and get to the bottom line summary.
• When they keep things to themselves and then blow up when it gets to be too much.
• When they hear only what they want to hear.
• Lack of admission when something is bothering them.
2. Eddie the Egomaniac-Many women understand that men find fulfillment in their occupations and providing for their families. But women dislike it when men make their occupation their identity; always talking about how important they are in their line of work. We dislike it when men draw attention to themselves by loudly proving their bravado through exaggerated stories of their conquests.
3. Put-Down Paul-It is extremely hurtful and disrespectful when men put down their spouses in the presence of other people. When men are sarcastic, or make a joke about something their spouses did, it is embarrassing for everyone.
4. Sexist Sam-We dislike the feeling that we have to earn credibility to speak intelligently with men. Sexist and disrespectful comments are not acceptable anymore. We no longer want you to behave superior toward us. We no longer want to feel as though are you are saying: “Oh brother, what could she have to say that could possibly be worthwhile.”
5. Crude Dude Dan-Women do not appreciate men with poor hygiene, who swear, use foul language, make dirty jokes, and display poor manners publicly and privately. Women don’t like it when men “ogle” other women and make suggestive sexist comments.
6. Big Boy Bobbie-This is a man all grown up and still living in a little boy body. He is the one who does not help out in the kitchen but is first in line when the food shows up. He assumes his wife will treat him like his mother did, and allow him to continue to play with big boy toys and focus his leisure time toward fulfilling his own selfish desires.
7. Lack Luster Larry-Lack of initiating romance. His idea of romance is to take his wife to Tool Time Depot and then stop off for a beer on the way home. That romance is all for him, and does not even come close to meeting the needs of a woman.
8. Insecure Ivan-Women know when men are insecure-they can’t hide it behind their bravado. Confidence is one of the most attractive traits in men and women have. Women love a confident man who will treat her as an equal and show her the respect she deserves. Don’t assume women need money or wealth to satisfy them, women need a confident man to make a woman feel loved, safe and cared for.
Other comments:
• Dressed to “kill” and then become sloppy once they “have their girl.”
• Not finishing projects around the house. (Guys this was a huge pet peeve for many women).
• Answering the phone in the middle of a conversation.
• Leaving “stuff” laying around all over the house and not picking up after yourself.
• Generalizing. “You women always….”
• Leaving dirty dishes BESIDE the dishwasher.
• Not changing the toilet paper roll.
• Leaving cupboard doors open.
We’ve gleaned some valuable information over the last few weeks. Let’s use these comments to strengthen our understanding. What became glaringly obvious is that we need to learn to communicate better. To strengthen our communication, I invite you to enter into a powerful challenge with your husband or significant other. This will sum up all that we’ve learned and will revolutionize your relationship. Ask each other this question and then act on it.
“What are your top 3 needs?” Once you take the time to unleash this question, you will arrive at your greatest understanding of each other. Once we all make that this focal point of our relationships, we will all be amazed at what God can do to make our marriages “very good.”
Then act on this verse: “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (Eph. 4:32).
May God enrich your marriages beyond what you can comprehend.

UNLEASHING THE K.I.S.S. MARRIAGE – 8 THINGS MEN DISLIKE WHAT WOMEN DO. (Part 1)

Posted in Anticipation, Communication, Control, Encouragement, Expectations, Finding Truth, Forgiveness, Friendship, Hope, Intimacy, Listening, Making Wise Choices, Overcoming Struggles, Power of the Tongue, Resentment, Respect, SEX, Tension, Understanding each other with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 25, 2013 by hmclaughlin

Man woman discussing.1
To unravel the mystery of a man’s mind, we women need practical and useful information. That’s what I set out to discover. I conducted a survey amongst some of my favorite men, and asked them to provide me with a list of things they “dislike what women do.” Here are their top responses.
I give credit to my friend Darrell who provided some names for women’s actions:
1. Diva-This was by far the strongest “dislike” amongst the men. This is when women use drama to get their way. This drama can include guilt, exaggeration, tears and acting cute and coy. Women we have to remember that we like to use our emotions; but men are fixers. When we use this drama to get our way, it will either push men away because they don’t know how to handle our emotions, OR they will try to “fix us” as quickly as possible.
2. The Zealot-This woman is a “keeper of the list and rules”, she knows every policy, procedure, collective agreement and statue by heart. She will use her lists and rules to throw the book at you if you have not done your job or broken a rule.
3. Grenade Thrower-This lady will collect the details of all her unmet expectations, each time you looked at her the wrong way or gave a wrong answer, and store them in a box. This box is called “The Resentment Box”. One day you may ask as simple question like: “Honey did you take your car into the dealership for that oil change?” She did not like the question so she opened her box, took out the grenade and watched the shrapnel destroy your manhood.
4. Jail Keeper-Using sex to hold men hostage. You know what I’m talking about.
5. Gossiping Gertie-Sharing private marriage matters with girlfriends. Difficulties in a marriage relationship should be dealt within the context of the marriage, with counselors or mutual close and trusted friends. Men feel disrespected when private matters are hung out like dirty laundry.
6. Assuming Angie-No, men cannot read the assumptions in your head, nor do they understand your facial expressions or body language. If you want a man to do something, ASK HIM…use your words succinctly and kindly.
7. Late Night Fixer-Wanting to “talk about the relationship” at 11:00 p.m. Women we have to find the right time and place to discuss things that will have emotional implications. It’s hard enough for men to deal with emotional, relational issues…let alone when they are being ambushed late at night.
8. 50/50-These ladies expect their spouses (or significant others) to shoulder half of the household chores, child rearing despite having a cleaning lady. However, they do not help with any of the chores around the outside of house. Most husbands to not have a gardener, pool company, handyman or mechanic on site.

Other little pet peeves included:
a. Being asked to pick up their socks.
b. Starting to talk the minute the door is opened at home. Give your husband a few minutes to get settled and anchored.
c. Women who lounge in front of the T.V. in Lulu lemon pants.
d. Comparing your husband to your father.

I am personally grateful for this valuable information because I am on a constant learning curve to have a great marriage. When God designed marriage, He said “marriage was planned for us and that it was meant to be VERY GOOD!” We can all have that great marriage if we take the time to communicate our differences and seek to understand each other. Love is not just a nice fuzzy feeling. It is about learning to accept each other’s quirks and differences. Once we grasp that concept, we can use our differences to make us stronger and better.

Next week I will uncover 8 more great concepts for you to chew on.

UNLEASHING THE K.I.S.S. MARRIAGE – The Brilliance and Power of Seeds

Posted in Beauty from the Inside Out, Beauty Unleashed, Communication, Encouragement, Forgiveness, Friendship, Good Marriage, Hope, Intimacy, Making Wise Choices, Pain Pleasure, Power of the Tongue, power of words, Prayer, Respect, Understanding each other with tags , , , , , , , , on January 5, 2013 by hmclaughlin

Girl Holding Plant

 

Every time I open my mouth I plant a seed.  There are days I wish this was not true, but there is no escape from this spiritual law. Surely those subtle, sarcastic remarks when I am standing in a tedious, long line-up can’t have much power. After all, I will probably never again encounter the people who heard them. But I have come to realize that you and I hold an astonishing power that can be absolutely brilliant or beastly.  It’s the words that come out of our mouths.

My son-in-law Tim runs a huge farming operation in Southern Alberta. I love to drive by his fields and see the yellow canola, the rich beans, barley or the thirty other seeds he may have planted that year.  Whatever seeds he plants…that is what will grow and be produced. When he plants flax he does not get peas. When he plants canola he does not get barley. There is no getting around this.

Imagine the influence and brilliance of the words I speak in my home to my children or my husband.  I have the staggering power to bring hope, joy and peace into my home simply by opening my mouth. But unfortunately that same concept works with my ugly words. When I blame and accuse; blame and accusations will come back on me. When I criticize; criticism will come back on me. This may occur in the next hour, day, month or year. We may think we got away with our ugly words-but we do not.

None of us can get around this spiritual law no matter how hard we try. The bible says it this way: “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction, the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life” (Galatians 5:7, 8 NIV).

Life is too short to play around with this kind of dynamite. I am serious about planting great seeds in 2013. I choose to have my words give life whenever I open my mouth.  The bible puts it this way: “Words kill, words give life; they’re either poison or fruit—you choose” (Proverbs 18:21 MSG).

How will I do that?

1.         Be fully aware that every time I open my mouth I have the power to evoke  life or death.

2.         Stay immersed in God’s word (the Bible) so that the Spirit of God can have full access to every part of me…every day.

3.         Our minds can only have one thought at a time. I must STOP and pray and ask God to      help me control the ugly words before they escape my mouth. By the time my prayer is     finished, God will have helped me to overcome that momentary feeling.

4.         God has given me this space of time in the history to do something significant with my    life. I don’t want to miss this glorious moment.  

My dear friends, in our homes are the most important people in our lives. We literally have the brilliant power to make them feel respected, valuable and cherished. Or, we can destroy their spirits by crushing them with our words. The choice is always ours.

 

UNLEASHING THE K.I.S.S. MARRIAGE – Skipping Christmas-Saving Tension

Posted in Balancing life, Beauty from the Inside Out, Communication, Encouragement, Expectations, Finding Truth, Freedom from Busyness, Friendship, Hope, Intimacy, Kindness, Life of Jesus, Making Wise Choices, Overcoming Struggles, Pleasure, Respect, Tension, Understanding each other with tags , , , , on December 1, 2012 by hmclaughlin

*temp*Five years ago my husband Jack and I “skipped Christmas”.  Quite simply, we wanted to know what it felt like to let go of all the Christmas expectations and self imposed tension.  What would a Christmas season be like without waiting in lines, looking for parking spots, finding the perfect gift and feeling exhausted from fulfilling all the traditions and obligations that are supposedly inflicted on us? 

 Just last week I was in a Christmas decoration aisle in a huge department store, buying ribbon for our office party. A young couple was pushing a shopping cart down the aisle and in the middle of an argument. I could see the tension and frustration on her face and the anger in her voice: “This is not just for me you know; this is for OUR Christmas. I am just trying to make it a nice Christmas for OUR family.” Sadly I saw the vacant look in the man’s eyes and I could see he just didn’t get this “Christmas thing.”

 I wish I could l have grabbed them by the shoulders and told them what my I, as a woman, learned about simplifying and enjoying the Christmas season. Here is what I learned the year we “skipped Christmas”:

1.         We have to realize we cram a year’s worth of shopping, baking, wrapping, decorating and entertaining into about 30 days. Realize how impossible this is to do is without tension.

2.         Many women, including myself, feel guilt ridden and responsible for creating the perfect story book Christmas.  The kind we see on magazine covers, TV commercials and then pulling it together like it happened in “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Do whatever it takes to get rid of that guilt and those expectations.

3.         We don’t HAVE to send out Christmas cards. Our family now sends out a “Happy New Year” letter toward the end of January when life has settled into a more relaxed and manageable routine.

4.         We don’t HAVE to spend a lot of money on the perfect gift. As a matter of fact, most of us don’t need another new thing that might end up in a cupboard or drawer. We decided as a family to give to organizations that really need our support. The greatest gift we can give each other in this crazy busy life is the “gift of time.” The grandchildren still get presents but make it simple and not exorbitantly priced. Send the extra money to children who really need it.

 5.        Sit down and ask your husband what type of things he would like to do to make Christmas meaningful for him. If he’s not interested in doing all “that stuff”, don’t load yourself with all the self-imposed expectations of creating the story book Christmas. The tension is not worth it.

6.         Simplify the baking. Instead of 10-12 different items, chose 1 or 2 items your family really likes and get the children involved in the baking. Make it fun not stressful.

7.         Pack your Christmas decorations away each year so that the following year it is easy to set them up. For example, I label my containers “kitchen-foyer-dining room table” etc. When I bring the container up from the basement, I open it and plunk these items exactly where they belong. If you need to buy new decorations; buy them AFTER Christmas when they are 70% off the last sale price and there are no long line ups.

8.         It is more important to have harmony and love in our marriage and homes, than to buy into this new marketing scheme called “The Holidays.”

It has been a harsh reality for me to see that Christmas is about celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ; yet we don’t invite Jesus to His own birthday party. When I see the Christmas season through this perspective, it hurts my heart to see what I am doing to commercialize this Holy Christmas Season. I need to do whatever I can to stop this insanity.

UNLEASHING THE K.I.S.S. MARRIAGE-“What My 2 Husbands Taught Me” (Part 2)

Posted in Beauty from the Inside Out, Communication, Expectations, Finding Truth, Forgiveness, Freedom, Friendship, Good Marriage, Hope, Intimacy, Kindness, Life of Jesus, Listening, Making Wise Choices, messes, Overcoming Struggles, Power of the Tongue, Resentment, Respect, SEX, Tension, Understanding each other, Valued with tags , , , , , on November 23, 2012 by hmclaughlin

 We don’t “fall in and out of love.”  Love is not just a feeling, because our feelings are very fickle and play tricks on our minds. We have a tendency to think that when we lose that glow of pleasure and excitement in our marriage, that we have “fallen out of love.” Not so. We may, temporarily, have fallen out of “like” for each other, but the love is still there. God places that love within us and it needs to nurtured. In the same way that we fertilize our flowers, water them and prune them, in the same way we need to nurture the love in our marriage relationship.

When we fight FOR the values, intimacy and love in our marriages, and do no fight WITH each other, we will begin to experience a deeper level of that strange word called “love”.

Here are 6 more things that my two husbands have taught me about nurturing a deeper love in my marriages.

1.         RESPECT: Our husbands need our respect, respect, respect. They need this more than sex, words or gifts. The biggest issue here is that many women feel their husbands don’t deserve their respect. Obviously it must have been there when you met and dated, or you might not have gotten married. Go back to that original place in your relationship where you had that respect and deliberately find ways to nurture it. This may mean some gut level honesty with your spouse about why you have lost respect for them and something needs to change. For further information about respect, please read my other blogs in the archives, one of them being: UNLEASHING THE K.I.S.S. MARRIAGE-“Cutting down the Male Species”

2.         ASK… for help. Most men cannot read our expressions, body language or minds. Perhaps we assume that “if they really loved us they would know when we feel overwhelmed, tired or unhappy”. But most men don’t have that gut level, inner intuition that you and I have. We need to clearly identify our needs and desires with words that they can grasp.

3.         KINDNESS…is the greatest gift we can give each other. Small acts of kindness cover a multitude of mistakes and oversights. I have learned that “stopping and showing kindness” literally changes the course of conversations, obstacles…life.

4.         LAUGH.  Laughter is like medicine that can cover awkwardness, mistakes and even mends a broken heart. Seek out opportunities to stop and laugh. Sometimes that means going to a funny movie or talking about a hilarious situation that happened in the past. Just last night I sent my husband a funny U-tube and we watched it together and laughed hilariously.

5.         EAT MY WORDS. That means, to chew on my thoughts, play them backwards and forward then eat the bad ones before they escape my mouth.

6.         FORGIVE. Forgive very quickly. Building up resentment not only poisons my soul, but builds barriers. The number one reason for marriage break-ups is “resentment.” Forgiveness is never a last resort, but must always be a first response. We must remember that forgiveness is very hard because it is not a natural transaction. Forgiveness is a supernatural transaction between you, your spouse and God’s Holy Spirit.

The bible tells us very clearly that when we obey His commands, “our joy may be complete” (John 15:11 NIV). In order to have a thriving, intimate loving marriage relationship we must obey God’s command. The bible puts it this way: “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity” (Colossians 3:13, 14 NIV).

I know from personal experience that if we are willing, with God’s help, to “fight for our marriage”, beyond our present struggles we will experience our greatest power, freedom and joy. What is one area you will work on today?

UNLEASHING THE K.I.S.S. MARRIAGE-“What my 2 Husbands Taught Me” (Part 1)

Posted in Beauty from the Inside Out, Beauty Unleashed, Communication, Encouragement, Expectations, Finding Truth, Forgiveness, Friendship, Hope, Intimacy, Kindness, Making Wise Choices, Overcoming Struggles, Pain Pleasure, Pleasure, Respect, Uncategorized, Understanding each other, Valued on October 22, 2012 by hmclaughlin

Intimacy unleashes unexpected and strange gifts. At this juncture in life I consider myself mature enough to be able to look back in my marriages and realize how these sacred unions have made me a better person. But, this learning curve was not without some excruciating, self inflicted pain. Fact is, when we take the time for some self examination of our weaknesses and ugliness, it is never pretty. Marriage can be like the sandpaper that rubs off all our pretenses to reveal our true self.

After 28 years of marriage with my first husband, before he tragically died on the basketball floor 2 weeks before Christmas, and now 16 years into my new marriage, I believe I have gained some crucial insight into who I am and what will make me a better, nicer and more loving person. Here is what I have learned:

  1. Cut the drama. Men can’t handle a lot of tears, blabbering, emotions and too many dramatic words. They will try to stop the drama by coming up with a quick fix. On the other hand, I just need to talk, vent and explain everything in great detail. I have learned that I need to find the right time and place to discuss a problem with simple, logical words and sentences that are clear and make sense.
  2. Tolerance of other people’s irritating habits. It’s hard to believe that I do things to annoy other people…but I do. Being fully aware of this has taught me tolerance for other people’s quirks.
  3. Carefully pick the mountain I’m willing to die on. After experiencing tragedies and painful obstacles in my life, I realize most of our difficulties are “small stuff” that will someday fade away and become meaningless. I need to know my values, purpose, situations, and people I am willing to lay down my life for. Everything else is wasted energy and time. 
  4. Be authentic at all times in all places. Marriage has knocked the pretense right out of me. Who better to keep me accountable than the person who knows all the good and bad in me? Men, being the born “fixers”, will quickly remind us when we start to exaggerate, twist the truth and make situations look better than they really are. Being “me” at all times and in all places has in fact, given me the gift of incredible freedom.
  5. Stay interesting . Stay current in sports, politics and world affairs so that I can carry on an intelligent conversation. 

I believe with all my heart that God puts two unusual people together so they will allow themselves to be “sandpapered” into more beautiful creations. I continue to be on a learning curve…I hope you are too.