Archive for the Freedom Category

UNLEASHING THE K.I.S.S. MARRIAGE – “It all Goes Back in the Box”

Posted in Balancing life, Beauty from the Inside Out, Commitment, Communication, Encouragement, Expectations, Freedom, Freedom from Busyness, Friendship, fUN, God' Love, Good Marriage, Harmony, Intimacy, Laughter, love, Making Wise Choices, pornography, Understanding each other with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on December 22, 2013 by hmclaughlin

Board games“Beyond our greatest fear and struggles lies our greatest power.” That is a Heidi-ism I have expounded on in my presentation to audiences for many years. Through each of my struggles God has unleashed greater power in me to help me embrace more freedom and greater clarity to focus on what is good and has meaningful value. Hence the reason for my blog being silent for several weeks. Two weeks ago I buried my sweet mother who loved God with all her heart soul and mind. During the time of your final days on earth I gave myself permission to withdraw from all social media and focus on that which I believed to be the most important event in my life; being at the beside of my mother.

During her final days on earth as I sat and held my mother’s hand, I experienced many long silent hours that gave me time to reflect all that is good and important in my life. Also during her last 6 weeks in Hospice House, our family had to box up all her belongings and empty her beautiful living accommodations because she would never return to all that was familiar and meaningful to her. Why am I telling you all this on a marriage blog? “We have to realize that all our material wealth, accomplishments, successes and stuff all end up in a box. In our families and marriages, we must have discernment as to what is really important in our lives.”

With Christmas just around the corner we are consumed with trying to find the right present so that we can see the expressions of joy and exultation on our loved ones faces. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. God created us for pleasure and the bible tells us that God wants us to enjoy the abundant life. But not when it costs us our soul and our marriages.
• Not when we work too many hours and are away from our families so that we can afford those things that are beyond our income and budget.
• In Canada the average person has expenses that exceed 64% of their income.
• Not when the credit cards are all maxed out and we lay awake at night wondering how we will make the next payment.
• Not when we impose expectations on our spouses to provide us with those expensive things that we think will bring us happiness.
• Not when we buy stuff because of a sense of entitlement or simply that we think we want it.
• Not when we demand things that we cannot afford and we end up in ugly arguments that leave us feeling diminished and angry.
• Not when it causes power struggles and destroys the harmony in our marriages.
The fact remains that one day everything we have will go back into a box.

When my children were growing up we loved to play the board game of LIFE. It was fun to throw the dice and eventually buy a house, car and fill it all up with a wife, children and lots of great stuff. Of course there is always a winner, but whether you won or lost, the game was folded up and it all went back into the box. That’s the reality of LIFE.

We boxed up all of my mother’s precious well cared for clothes, furniture and some simple jewelry. Today they are sitting in boxes in my basement. But what really mattered in my mother’s life was not the stuff left in the boxes; it was the time and experiences we enjoyed as a family, the laughter, the stories, meals and wisdom and love shared graciously and abundantly.

This Christmas season, and throughout the year, what will it take for you to be able to find your greatest power to help you embrace freedom and joy in the events and experiences that will have lasting value? My husband Jack and I do not give each other Christmas presents. Instead we focus on providing experiences throughout the year that will give us lasting memories that will give us joy and continue to reside in our hearts. Let’s help each other to be diligent and intentionally focus on those things in our marriages and families that will bring us joy beyond the Christmas season and not end up in a meaningless box.

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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-“Falling in Love All Over Again”

Posted in Balancing life, Beauty from the Inside Out, Beauty Unleashed, Communication, Control, Encouragement, Finding Truth, Freedom, Freedom from Busyness, Friendship, Good Marriage, Hope, Intimacy, Kindness, Life of Jesus, Listening, Making Wise Choices, Pain Pleasure, Pleasure, Resentment, Respect, Self-Control, Tension, Valued on June 12, 2012 by hmclaughlin

“Whenever you were in a crowded room, your eyes would lock into an almost shameful, blushing, intimate exchange. You laughed at everything. The hours couldn’t move fast enough before you could see each other again. He listened to every word you said and you felt beautiful, treasured and safe. Then he asked you to marry him and you couldn’t believe you would spend the rest of your life with this tender, loving, brilliant and caring man.”

For many marriages those feelings and memories seem like sepia prints of an old, long forgotten movie. Your marriage has become more of a business arrangement scheduling the next meeting, family gathering or appointment. “Who will pick up the children at day care?” “Can you stop and pick up some milk and eggs after work?” “When are you going golfing this week?” “Don’t forget we need to be at the Browns on Friday night at 6:00…try to be on time.” Now it’s all about requests, schedule and demands.  The lingering, intimate conversations have turned into impersonal staccato sentences.

 

We don’t just “fall out of love.” We have to understand that Love is not a feeling…it is an action. I don’t believe you fell out of love, I believe you fell out of “like.”  God is love, when we love, it is the essence of God in our life. It doesn’t come and go…it just IS.  Through our deliberate actions we can determinedly learn to love each other again. I know this for an absolute fact.

 I’m not going to give you 10 – 12 steps on how to fall in love again, but I will ask you some thought provoking and probing questions about both of you. But you have to remember that: you can’t change him, but you can change yourself so that he will again see you as the person he fell in love with. Bring the fun and excitement back into your relationship.

1.         What were your motives for marrying this man? Was it because you were afraid to grow old alone, or because you wanted to prove to your family and the world that you were worthy to be married? Or: did you choose to love him for the rest of your life?

2.         Now that you have him, are you still the fun, interesting and attractive person you were when you were dating?  Is he?  What happened?

3.         Have you become more like comfortable room-mates; letting the routine of life make you boring?

4.         Do you still have the kind of home that both of you enjoy coming “home” to? Or, is it filled with tension, anger and endless “to do lists?”

5.         Are you “not in the mood” too often?

6.         Now that you “have him”…are you still interested in his sports teams and the sports equipment lying all over the garage floor?

7.         Do you pursue YOUR passions?

8.         Does he not give you the attention you need and make you feel beautiful anymore? Don’t wait for him to unleash your beauty; YOU take the time to exercise and make yourself attractive so that you will feel beautiful again? When you exude beauty, you will feel better about yourself and he will start to pay attention to you again.

9.         When was the last time you asked him, “Are we happy? What can we do to make our marriage more meaningful, fulfilling and fun?”

10.       What are the things that used to make you both laugh?

11.       Do you pay more attention to the children than you do to him?

12.       Have you become the “macho wife” that controls everything because things “just weren’t going your way?

13.       Have you shut your husband out of your activities and conversations?

14.       When you first met, what were the values and goals that you both shared? What has happened to them?

You see, we don’t just “fall out of love”.  We get disappointed in the way things have turned out, we feel rejected or abandoned and start to nurture resentment. Then we build walls, start to carve out our own existence and perhaps become lonely.  It’s time to break down the walls, pick up the broken pieces and begin to rebuild and restore something that at one time was obviously quite beautiful. God is love, and when we ask HIM to help us love again, I know He will give you the wisdom and desire to help you “fall in love all over again.”

 

 

 

UNLEASHING THE K.I.S.S. MARRIAGE – “Un-Complicate Your Marriage”

Posted in Balancing life, Beauty from the Inside Out, Communication, Control, Finding Truth, Freedom, Freedom from Busyness, Friendship, Good Marriage, Hope, Intimacy, Kindness, Life of Jesus, Making Wise Choices, Overcoming Struggles, Patience, Pleasure, Respect, Self-Control, Tension on May 3, 2012 by hmclaughlin

When life is complicated we get irritated and frustrated. When I drive down our highway I am saturated with billboards that tell me how unsatisfying my life is. But I am told that it will be better when I move into the new million dollar subdivision, listen to THIS radio station, have laser surgery, and find freedom by going to THIS restaurant and never again having to do dishes. For the life of me I cannot figure out our 5 remote controls at home and I almost panic when I get a new piece of technology or kitchen appliance because that means I will have to read 77 pages of instructions. The last thing we need is a complicated marriage. Our marriage is supposed to be a haven of peace and joy…a reprieve from the onslaught of our crazy whirlwind, complicated life.

One of the greatest ways to un-complicate your marriage is by letting go a lot of unnecessary stuff. Like:

  1. Quit arguing over unnecessary, non life threatening, energy wasting stuff.
  2. Think about this:  What will it benefit you to be right? Give up the power struggles in your marriage; at the end of the day most wins or loses probably won’t matter a hill of beans.
  3. How about re-wording and ending a disagreement by saying: “You’re probably right.”
  4. Re-think and re- frame your expectations. I said expectations not standards. Everything does not have to be done perfectly or right now. Breathe…let it go….
  5. Ask yourself this question: “Will it matter 10 years from now?”  That question eliminates a lot of clutter.
  6. Instead of getting mad, say something nice. Kindness defuses offenses.
  7. Change the wording in your conversations and re-think your responses when someone asks you to do something, be somewhere or get involved in something. When someone suggests “You should do something”, rephrase it in your mind to, “Yes I COULD do this…I am quite capable, but how will this affect my marriage and family?”
  8. Eliminate the small stuff. Yes you’ve heard this before but now go and do it.
  9. Spend more time finding things to laugh about and do projects that give you pleasure.

10. Stop taking yourself so seriously; nobody else does.

11. Leave past garbage out of your conversations.

12. Make intentional choices to regain the freedom you were created to enjoy. Find the clutter that is hiding your freedom and reclaim it.

Most of us had a longing in our hearts to be married because we believed that “it is good to be married.” God also designed the concept of marriages to “be good.” One way to make them “good again” is to start with some of the basics in life by getting rid of all the unnecessary clutter and noise, and get back to that place of joy and freedom that we were created to enjoy.

The bible tells us in John 8:36 Amp. Version:  “So if the Son liberates you (makes you free men), then you are really and unquestionably free.”

I crave freedom; I believe we all do, but it’s not going to come looking for us, we have to pursue it.

UNLEASHING THE K.I.S.S. MARRIAGE – Emotionally Vacant

Posted in Beauty from the Inside Out, Beauty Unleashed, Communication, Encouragement, Finding Truth, Freedom, Friendship, Good Marriage, Hope, Intimacy, Making Wise Choices, Overcoming Struggles, Pain Pleasure, Prayer, Respect, Tension, Uncategorized, Understanding each other, Valued on February 24, 2012 by hmclaughlin

I could see it on his face. The uninterested, bored, glaringly unavailable demeanor that said, “Leave me alone.” I kept glancing over at this man looking for signs of interest; but also to observe to see how his wife was handling this evident, dead space.

My husband Jack and I were out for an intimate, beautiful dinner at one of those restaurants where the linens are crisp, the goblets are gleaming and the service is impeccable.  This was a place for cozy, friendly and loving conversation. I was hoping the couple beside us would also capture the essence of this gift, but the vacant space between them was tangibly strained. I was sensitive to this emotional vacancy because I had occasionally felt it in my first marriage. It’s a horribly, lonely and unloving atmosphere to be in; but it doesn’t have to be that way.

Here’s the crazy part. It is that emotionally unavailable man that has the potential to attract an outgoing, energetic, vibrant woman.  The man’s calm, easy going nature is like a warm balm to a woman’s soul. But once they marry, and over time, the relationship boundaries become blurred. The emotional unavailability becomes a destructive force that makes the woman feel rejected, unloved, overlooked and even abandoned.  At times it actually feels like emotional abuse. The more the woman tries to love the man, threaten him, bicker him to death with demands for change, the more he will pull away. No one will change until they decide they want to change.

 Here is something we have to understand; both men and women can be unavailable emotionally. But your spouse did not stand up in his crib when he /she was a little child and declare, “When I grow up, I want to become emotionally vacant.” Something happened.

 I have talked about this in the past that the main fear for a man is to be controlled by a woman in a relationship setting; especially when the woman demands something from him that he is not able to give.  Somewhere in the person’s growing up years, one of two things happened:

1.         Your spouse was hurt, rejected or did not receive the love that they needed from another family member. The way to protect ourselves when this happens is to close ourselves off from getting hurt again. Protecting ourselves is a behavior that evolves over time in a sub-conscious manner.

2.         Your spouse grew up in a home where one, or both of the parents were unavailable emotionally. This was observed behavior that is now being transferred into his/her own marriage.

The sad part is that emotionally vacant people crave relationships the most but don’t know how to establish them.   

There is incredible hope.

As is the case in all wounds, “revealing is the beginning of healing.”  Each spouse needs to be able to declare their feelings without feeling judged or controlled. The best way to do this is in a counseling session where each spouse is able to make the other person see how painful it is to feel unloved and worthless. Both spouses have to be assured that they are loved and they have to find tools and constructive ways to show that love without feeling threatened.

It is absolutely crucial that you learn to trust each other with your love.  Emotional vacancy is a behavior that is picked up by your children and they, in their growing up years, will also begin to suffer with their own issues of lack of intimacy.

Remember, we are ALL wounded, but God can heal all our wounds and restore us for glorious living and loving.  I’m not just saying these words, I have lived them. I know them to be true.

UNLEASHING THE K.I.S.S. MARRIAGE- Football and Tim Tebow OR: Say “YES” to the Dress

Posted in Beauty from the Inside Out, Beauty Unleashed, Communication, Encouragement, Expectations, Finding Truth, Forgiveness, Freedom, Friendship, Good Marriage, Intimacy, Kindness, Life of Jesus, Making Wise Choices, Overcoming Struggles, Pain Pleasure, Respect, Tension, Understanding each other on January 20, 2012 by hmclaughlin

There must be a bit of Cinderella syndrome in us. I confess that every once in a while I love to curl up with my duvet and watch several episodes of Say “yes” to the Dress. I know it’s corny; but there is something magical about watching a woman emerge from a dressing room in a vision of sequence, pearls, silk and layers of beading and stitched elegance. It’s what we envisioned, talked about, practiced from the time we were little girls. Even though we may have already experienced our own enchanted, glorious wedding day, we can still live vicariously through a T.V. show.

Unfortunately getting our husbands to watch a show with endless wedding dresses was not part of his wedding vows when we exchanged promises to honor, cherish and obey. Neither did we agree to sign up for watching football three days a week. Don’t get me wrong; I really do love football, but I must confess that after about 3 hours I am not that interested in how many yards Tim Tebow rushed and the interpretation of each penalty. I want to ask, “So is it true that so and so bought his wife a 2 million dollar diamond ring?” I know that men just don’t get that. There really should be other covenants in the marriage vows for our husbands to sign off on. Such as:

1.         That you will go Christmas shopping with me.

2.         That you will listen to me blabber endlessly about my job when I get home at night.

3.         That you know how to pitch socks into a clothes hamper at 15 feet.

4.         That you know how to change a light bulb in a clothes dryer.

5.         That you will know when I am tired and need help around the house.

6.         That you can interpret my “no’s when I mean “yes.”

There are some things worth fighting for, and some we need to let go. By now we realize we are different people, and God has put us together in a marriage to learn from each other, to grow stronger, and to sandpaper each other so that we can become better people.  

There are some things that give women pleasure that men simply won’t understand. That’s OK, because for those things we have our girlfriends. Nobody understands us better than girlfriends. We just have to talk, and nobody can laugh or cry over nothing like girlfriends. If we spent 4 hours with a girlfriend watching a football game, we would probably re-design their uniforms, try to imagine what their wives and lives are like, and laugh about…well anything. Our husbands will probably never understand how we can talk for hours and not come up with any solutions or fix anything. We are women; we need to talk and watch sitcoms with lots of wedding dresses.  Men don’t need to talk, they want to watch football and fix things.

I am so grateful that my husband will sit with me through at least one episode of “Say YES to the Dress”, but soon he slips away and next I know he’s watching football. That’s OK-we let each other have freedom to enjoy those things our brains are wired for. 

But the wedding vows did say to “cherish”; and that’s what we should do. The Greek word for cheris is “Thalpo”… to soften by heat, as of birds covering their young with their feathers. To foster tender care as of Christ and the Church.”  It is the “heat” in our marriage that has the potential help us understand soften our thoughts and actions toward our husbands. It is to cherish all the wonderful things they do in our marriage-and there are so many. When we take the time to write down all the things we are grateful for in our marriage, we will realize we really do have wonderful husbands. For those things they don’t enjoy doing with us; well thank goodness for our girlfriends.

UNLEASHING THE K.I.S.S. MARRIAGE- “Change the Picture”

Posted in Communication, Control, Encouragement, Expectations, Finding Truth, Freedom, Friendship, Good Marriage, Hope, Intimacy, Kindness, Life of Jesus, Making Wise Choices, Overcoming Struggles, Pain Pleasure, Patience, Respect, Understanding each other, Valued on January 14, 2012 by hmclaughlin

When you get together with your girlfriends, what kind of picture do you paint of your husband? I ask this question because the answer to this may determine the type of authority and leadership your husband exercises in your marriage and home.  I am saddened and horrified that I see an escalating movement on television commercials and sitcoms depicting men as stupid, lazy, and dumb. And we wonder why many men are relinquishing their God given authority of leadership in our homes and even churches and workplaces. We wonder why men are withdrawing and finding pleasure not in the marriages and families, but behind their toys, sports programs and recreational activities. 

 The pictures we paint of our husband will have a unique and powerful effect on the way they respond to us. I realize I have opened a can of worms because this is a catch 22 situation. You, the reader may be thinking right now that your husband is all those things I listed above, and he does not deserve to have a great picture painted of him. You can’t wait to get together with your girlfriends to unleash all the things he is NOT doing for you. But I continue to say that the picture we paint of them will determine who they eventually will become.

Last night (January 13th, 2012) I was fascinated by the interview Piers Morgan conducted with Mark Wahlberg. Mark is an actor, film producer, former rapper, former prisoner, Oscar winner and husband and father of 4 children. Mark was very open about his faith and he probably shocked the whole nation when he openly declared that he goes to “church every morning and prays for fifteen to twenty minutes. He shared that this gives him the strength and power to make good choices throughout the day. He also painted a gorgeous picture of his wife and children. Through his words he upheld her with love, beauty and respect.  I will guarantee that any woman that hears that kind of picture painted of her, will do everything in her power to be that woman.  So how we do that in our homes?

Which comes first, the chicken or the egg? Did we start painting weak pictures of men because they are weak; or did we emasculate them through the way we treat and depict them?  Whatever the answer is; TODAY is the date we can do something about it. Be assured; if you have painted a bad picture of your husband with your friends, family or even your home, this communication will come back to him. This picture will be absorbed into his brain and, over time, he will eventually become who you painted him to be. “If that’s what she thinks of me; why even bother?”

If you want your husband to take authority and leadership in your home, stop making him feel inadequate and stop controlling all his authority. There are two (2) things that your husband feared when he married you.

1.         That he would be inadequate.

2.         That he would be controlled by you.

I fully believe that you and I both want a husband who will take care of us, treat us with love and beauty. You and God have the ability and power to make him into that man by the pictures you paint of him.

In my first marriage, my husband did not exercise the kind of leadership that I needed and I believe that over time I emasculated him and his authority. Once I realized that I had done that, I began to pray. Almost every day I prayed that:

1.         First of all God would teach me “how to love him the way he needed to be loved.”

2.         That I would treat him with respect.

3.         That I would not take over his authority; but to let him reap his own consequences of his             mistakes.

4.         That I would not control him.

5.         That would not paint a bad picture of him and make him feel inadequate.

What is the visual picture you have of your husband right now? If it’s not the picture you want or need; then repaint it into which you need him to be.  With your prayers, love and support and repainting the picture, OVER TIME, I believe he will become “your man!”