Archive for the Prayer Category

UNLEASHING THE K.I.S.S. MARRIAGE- A Simple but Radical Prayer

Posted in Acceptance, Beauty from the Inside Out, Commitment, companionship, Conflict, Encouragement, Faith, God' Love, Good Marriage, Intimacy, Listening, Ocean of Love, Overcoming Struggles, Pleasure, Prayer, Understanding each other, Valued with tags , , , , , , , on November 11, 2013 by hmclaughlin

heart in hand
Gary Chapman’s book on the 5 Love Languages hit the bull’s eye, but I think we need to go deeper. I specifically remember the time and place when I discovered how we truly learn to love each other.

After being married about 15 years to my first husband, I hit the brick wall thinking that nothing was ever going to change. My husband was never going to love me the way I needed to be loved. I needed the kind of “action love” where I knew my words were being heard and that I was accepted for who I was; junk and all. I wondered if there would ever be a life beyond Monday night football and the next basketball event. I thought: If he would just do all those things that I need, then I would be happy and our marriage would be perfect.

It was 1982 when God nudged me in my spirit and these words came to me: In order for you to feel loved, why not find out how Dick needs to be loved.

I remember that moment in time because that is when I started praying this prayer, “Lord, show me how Dick needs to be loved, and show me how to love him.” I thought it was kind of a strange prayer and I wondered what would happen. For the next 12 years I prayed this prayer faithfully. Over time, albeit slowly, this is what transpired:

1. The most important thing this prayer taught me was to STOP trying to change my husband so that he would meet all MY needs.
2. I started observing what my husband needed. For instance, he needed to watch football and play basketball. Those were things he loved and I finally relented and stopped nagging him.
3. Miraculous things began to happen. Over time as I stopped trying to “get him to do things” he took more notice of my needs.
4. I re-learned how to love him in a deeper level…not for what he could bring into our relationship but to ACCEPT him for who God made him to be.

When my husband died 12 years later, I can tell you from the depth of my heart that this simple but radical prayer taught me how to love in a way I never thought was possible.

I have discovered that loving people is not easy. I need God’s love to fill me and cover me so that I feel like I am in the middle of an ocean of God’s love. Over time the people around me will feel the splash of this love on them and they won’t be able to help themselves but love us back. Over time that is what this radical prayer will do. The bible puts it this way: “The fervent prayer of a righteous person has great power and wonderful results” (James 5:16).

If you want to put joy, vibrancy and intimacy back into your marriage, I dare you to start praying this radical prayer. Persist, don’t give up. Wait for the results. They will come.

UNLEASHING THE K.I.S.S. MARRIAGE – Breaking Bad

Posted in Communication, companionship, Conflict, counsellor, God' Love, Good Marriage, love, Making Wise Choices, messes, Pain Pleasure, Pleasure, pornography, Prayer, secrets, SEX, technology, Valued with tags , , , , , , , , , , on September 28, 2013 by hmclaughlin

Hidden HeartWe all have a dark side. Sexual scandals are rampant. Anthony Weiner, a former U.S representative and candidate for the mayoral race in New York is now called a “Sexter”. This was the second time he was caught in a sex scandal and it has probably ruined his reputation and career. Bob Filner, the 35th mayor of San Diego just stepped down, in disgrace, from his office after eleven women came forward and alleged he was a “serial sexual harasser.” Jerry Sandusky, the retired football coach who was an idol to thousands of young boys and men, is now in jail for being a “convicted serial child molester”. What a tragedy. Lives ruined forever.

These men were exposed for their dark side. Many people are still seeped in their secret, destructive, addictive lives. If this is part of your story in your marriage…run for help.

None of us can be self-righteous and judge. Every one of us is probably just a movement, sentence or step away from something that could potentially destroy any one of our lives. We need to have the eyes and heart of compassion of Jesus to help each other, especially the spouses, who are caught in the chains of their own prison.

The world and social media makes it to easy and accessible to receive free drugs. The next pleasure is just a click away. Violent games and gambling are at everyone’s fingertips. Any addiction is destructive but there is help and new hope for everyone. Every one of us is God’s creation and He will help us if only we turn to Him.

My heart aches for husbands and wives who are living the secret lives of a spouse who is battling a secret addiction…whatever it is. Please don’t despair. But you can’t do it on your own.

The bible tells us over and over again that we are to “help each other.” The first thing you need to do is break the darkness of the secret and seek help.

1. Tell someone. There is no shame in this, we are all broken people.
2. Get help. I read just recently that there is now a Rehab home for people with computer game addictions. There are programs, counselors and people who are willing to help.
3. Pray and ask God to direct you to someone who will help you, walk with you and cover your back.
4. Something happened in your past that triggered this addictive need inside of you. Find out what this is and ask God to heal you.
5. God is in the “heart transformation business.” You cannot change yourself. Only God can heal your broken heart and restore your health.
6. Don’t condemn our spouse. Help him/her. But also don’t enable them in their addictive patterns.
7. This will take time…don’t despair.

Yes, there are horrific stories of addictive behavior that has destroyed lives. But there are also stories of victories, of families restored and lives healed. I pray that you will have a story of new hope and victory.

UNLEASHING THE K.I.S.S. MARRIAGE-“A Home Called Harmony”

Posted in Balancing life, Beauty from the Inside Out, Commitment, Communication, Encouragement, Expectations, Friendship, Good Marriage, Harmony, Intimacy, Kindness, Life of Jesus, Making Wise Choices, Pleasure, power of words, Prayer, Respect, Uncategorized, Understanding each other, Valued with tags , , , , , , , on June 14, 2013 by hmclaughlin

100_2633Through 48 years consisting of 2 marriages, I have learned the significant parts that husbands have in alleviating family stress and tension and promoting peace and harmony.It simply requires that a man step up to be proactive, rather than withdrawing and isolating himself from what goes on in the home.
I experienced a very positive example of this several years when my wife Heidi and I were invited to spend a weekend with a couple and their three children. We looked forward to the visit with keen anticipation of skiing on one of our British Columbia, Canada’s most outstanding mountains.It is to be understood that preparation for a family ski trip can be fairly chaotic with the amount of equipment that walks away and the socks that are eaten by the clothes dryer. However, in this case, the preparation for the departure was a thing of beauty.
We woke up to the smell of coffee and quickly encountered a fresh and tantalizing breakfast set out on the kitchen table. We soon discovered that this did not happen by accident. It was the husband who had been up early and had already packed all the skies and poles for the entire family into a Van roof top container. Gloves, socks and goggles had been inserted into each person’s boots and all the boots and helmets were assembled and lined up in categories at the back door. All we had to do at this point was was pick up our belongings, our prepared bagged lunch and head out the back door.
I attribute our peaceful getaway to the willingness of the dad to anticipate and defuse the possibility of confusion and tension. I might add that the children are now grown up, and through their father’s example, are completely adept of taking care of their own gear.
Husbands can facilitate harmony in the home through their actions for which we use the term “Greasing the Skids”, which means: “wanting something to go smoothly”. The origin of the phrase comes from the practice of constructing ships on a set of rails, also known as skids. When the ship was ready to be launched, the skids were covered in grease to reduce the friction and the supporting blocks were knocked loose, so that the ship could slip easily, into the water and then to the sea.
With the many forms of pressure that families face inside and outside the home, I believe that there are many things that husbands can do to create a harmonious atmosphere and release each member of the family to achieve their God given potential:

1. I have found that it is helpful to anticipate times when there is potential for added family stress. Those would include such times as meals, trips, guest visits to say nothing of preparation for Sunday church. Working with your wife, assisting in anything from peeling potatoes or carrots to cleaning up after her as she prepares the meals, goes a long way to enhance team like harmony.
2. I have learned the importance of praying with my wife; particularly when she is faced with challenging situations.Those who are tech savvy may wish to text a prayer and declaration of love and support. This is also true of our sons and daughters. A verbal or written blessing is extremely important.
3. I have learned how to make sure that my wife is spiritually and intellectually fed, particularly during periods of her life when her primary responsibility is the home. Share with her interesting ideas and books that you are reading. Encourage her to pursue interests in learning new skills through offering to take care of the house and providing creative financial support. I might add that I have also learned that facilitating a wife’s shopping and spending time with her friends is also very important.
While I could offer scores of suggestions, I have learned that it all begins with my personal desire to do whatever is necessary to achieve “God given harmony” in my home.

UNLEASHING THE K.I.S.S. MARRIAGE – “IF YOU HAD ONE WISH”

Posted in Anticipation, Beauty through Boldness, Commitment, Expectations, Friendship, Good Marriage, Intimacy, Life of Jesus, Making Wise Choices, Overcoming Struggles, Pleasure, Prayer, Resentment, Uncategorized, Understanding each other with tags , , , , , , , on April 13, 2013 by hmclaughlin

Girl Dressed as a Fairy for a Birthday Party
If I had one wish that would get answered with the snap of a finger, it would be “to help restore marriages so that everyone can enjoy the pleasure and intimacy in the way God designed marriages to be.” It breaks my heart to see spouses angry, unhappy, resentful and turning to the searing pain of divorce.

If you had one wish for YOUR marriage to make it the way you envisioned it to be, what would that be? But let’s take it one step further, because marriages need more than a wish and a swish of a magical wand. A wish can sometimes look like this: Wishing you spouse would stop leaving socks on the floor, start putting down the toilet seat, stop playing so much golf, stop working so much, start helping with the children at bath time. Wishing something supernaturally would fall from the sky to change the dynamics and picture.

Let’s change that “wishing” to an “expectation.”
They look the same but there is a difference. “Expectations” put action (legs) to the word “wish”. We EXPECT something to happen or change. We no longer TOLERATE the status quo and we work towards helping to make that change. We open our hearts to embrace the change that needs to happen and we will assist, co-operate, make plans and partner with our spouses to bring about the needed change. Here are some examples:
1. My friend Larry’s wife had an aneurysm and he wrote about it on my previous blog. He did not just “wish” his wife Janet to heal and recover; he expected it to happen. He made a commitment to his wife to live up to his marriage vows. Every day he prays and asks God for help, he expects his friends and neighbors to jump in and help when necessary, and he actually puts words to his requests so that he knows this will happen.
2. In my first marriage I always wished that my husband would know when I was tired and needed help in the kitchen. I wished he would take his eyes off the Monday night football TV screen and rush into the kitchen or laundry room to help me. It never happened. I was no longer satisfied with the present status quo and realized my “wishing” was getting me nowhere. I then used words to express my “expectations” that I needed help and clearly explained what that help looked like. It perpetuated the desired change.
3. In my present marriage I expect my husband to help me with my income tax, advise me on my car repairs, speak to me kindly and to take out the garbage each Monday. I don’t just “wish” for this to happen, I have put words to those expectations and we have a mutual understanding that this will transpire. It does.

Because of my husband’s and my mutual desire to have a loving, strong and intimate marriage, we don’t silently wish for something to happen, we use words to express our expectations and then EXPECT them to happen. When they don’t happen, we talk about it.

Turning a wish into an expectation can turn resentment into appreciation and love. But we can’t successfully do this on our own, we need God’s help to guide us through this process. The Bible puts it this way: “In the morning, O Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation” (Psalm 5:3 NIV).

We pray to God with clear words of expectation for Him to help us in our marriage. Marriage can be hard and we need a supernatural power to guide us through the complicated maze of turning wishes into fulfilling expectations. This is much bigger than ourselves; God created marriage to be good and He is the One who can help make this happen.
What is one wish…no expectation…that you have for your marriage? Ask God help you and then expect it to happen.

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 – Blended Family Reunions

Posted in Anticipation, Beauty from the Inside Out, Communication, Encouragement, Expectations, Friendship, Good Marriage, Hope, Intimacy, Kindness, Life of Jesus, Making Wise Choices, Pleasure, Prayer, Understanding each other, Valued on August 11, 2012 by hmclaughlin

Many months ago my husband Jack and I announced: “It’s time for a Family Reunion!” It makes we wonder if some of our children secretly shuddered when they heard that we wanted everyone to come home for 3 days of blended bliss. Let’s be realistic, it’s not always easy blending two families! When you have a mixture of 19 people, all with different personalities, career paths and opinions, and who live spread across Canada and the United States, you have a potpourri of blended surprise.

 

This blog is to pay a tribute to my wonderful family, because I am so proud of each and every one of them. Some of our children and grandchildren had not seen each other for a long time, and yet I observed intentional acceptance and love. Here are some tips as to what I believe made our “Blended Family Reunion” a tremendous time of fun and blessing. I hope some of these ideas will help you.

1.         For many months, my husband Jack and I prayed for each of our children and grandchildren; that our home would be a place of love and acceptance.

2.         For weeks leading up to the reunion, I sent regular e-mails and videos of what everyone could expect, along with information of upcoming surprises.

3.         I asked different children to become involved and “host” different aspects of the event.  Here are some of their tremendous ideas that were incorporated.

            i. A “Whacky Putting Competition”.

            ii. A “Back to the Future 80’s Night”.  This was an astounding success! We asked everyone to come prepared to engage in the fun by dressing in the 80’s theme. My son-in-law Tim set up a projector and huge screen in our back yard. Sprawled out on duvets, blankets and munching popcorn under the stars, we watched the movie “Back to the Future”. What a blast.

            iii. I arranged an afternoon of “The Amazing Race.” This was a 3-1/2 hour adventure of teams of 4 people that had to accomplish certain tasks around the City of Kelowna. The incredible stories we heard of their whacky adventures had us laughing late into the night.

            iii. “An Italian Grill Night.” This was hosted by my son Donovan who astounded us with a feast of delights that put smiles on all our faces.

            iv.  Thanksgiving Prayers. I had asked everyone to bring a sample of something that depicted the city and country where they lived. We had seeds from Alberta, sea shells and driftwood from Vancouver Island, fruit and an American top hat in the middle of our dining room table. We stood in a circle around the table, holding hands and giving thanks to God for all the different and wonderful places we live, and all our unique lives. It was a visible display that when we take the different aspects of our lives and when they are gathered together; they are all breathtakingly beautiful. There was so much to be thankful for. Before each meal, we always stood in a circle, holding hands and praying a blessing over the meal and over each other.

            v. A Blessing Night. Jack and I wrote a blessing for each of our grandchildren, together with a bible verse and prayer. We also had special lanyards engraved that said “Conley-McLaughlin Reunion 2012”.  As each child received their blessing and lanyard, they were told that they are a family star. 

4.         The most important, visual evidence I saw all weekend was the word “acceptance.”  Let’s face it, we are all a bit quirky and we all see the world through a different set of lenses. Yet I believe that every child that walked through our front door at the beginning of the reunion came with this intention written on their hearts: “Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God” (Romans 15:7 NIV).

We can be as creative as humanly possible, have good intentions for getting along-but if we do not ACCEPT EACH OTHER, in the same way that Christ has accepted us with all our sins and junk, then we cannot have those loving and intimate relationships. So I believe in order to have a successful Family Reunion, it has to begin by accepting each other. Then throw in a lot of fun and laughter and good food, and you have the ingredients for a Family Reunion that will imprint all out hearts for years to come.

 

 

UNLEASHING THE K.I.S.S. MARRIAGE- “What I’ve learned So Far-Part 2″

Posted in Balancing life, Beauty from the Inside Out, Encouragement, Finding Truth, Good Marriage, Intimacy, Kindness, Making Wise Choices, Overcoming Struggles, Pain Pleasure, Prayer, Resentment, Respect, SEX, Understanding each other, Valued on July 2, 2012 by hmclaughlin

I went into my first marriage as a young, insecure nineteen-year-old expecting my husband to love me, fulfill all my desires and complete me as a woman. I was in for a painful discovery that he expected the same from me. I am now in my second marriage and I learned some powerful life changing concepts from my first marriage.

When the policeman stood at my door 2 weeks before Christmas in 1994 to tell me my husband died suddenly while he was playing basketball; I felt like my life had also ended. My future seemed endless and meaningless and when I read in the bible that: “I will turn their mourning into laughter and their sadness into joy” (Jeremiah 31:3), it almost irked me. Well, that’s fine for somebody else, I thought, but I can’t ever imagine feeling joy again.

Looking back I also realize that through our deepest pain, we learn how to have a different happiness…called “Joy”. You see there is a difference. In my first marriage my happiness depended on how my husband treated me. But through the pain that I have experienced, and now that I am in my second marriage, I have learned one of life’s greatest lessons: “Only God can fulfill me and make me joyful.” Happiness depends on my circumstances, but joy comes from the spirit of God. So now that I am in my second marriage, here are some of powerful and life changing lessons I have learned:

1.         I can’t “expect” my husband to make me happy. None of us are wise or strong enough to meet each other’s needs. Most of us are broken people looking for each other to completely love us and fulfill those empty places in our soul. Only God can provide that kind of love. Our spouses cannot possibly be all things to we need for our personal development, and emotional and spiritual health. Our spouses are not the “savior of our soul”. If you and I are not a happy person, nothing in this world will make us happy. We are all responsible for our own happiness.

2.         Let go of resentment…immediately.  We become resentful when we have “unfulfilled expectations” of things we want our spouses to do to make us feel loved, validated, accepted and beautiful. It’s quite easy to keep smiling and let the toxic bile of resentment build in our soul. Yet we have to be aware that resentment is the #1 destroyer of relationships. Immediately we have to confront our own heart with the situation and decide if we are going to let the hurt go, or if we are going to confront it. More detail on how to handle this complicated and painful emotion, is found in my book SAND TO PEARLS: Making Bold Choices to Enrich Your Life (Chapter 5 – Resentment or Sweet Reasonableness).

3.         Men need respect. This is a huge part of being in a loving and successful marriage. I have written about this before in many of my blogs because it is so important. Yet I know it is controversial because many women feel that their husbands don’t deserve respect. But, for men, knowing they are receiving your respect is even more meaningful and powerful than sex, or knowing they are loved. When we know it is so crucial; we have to orchestrate our actions to give our husbands the respect they need. Women need to feel loved, and it is the man’s responsibility to do that for his wife.

4.            Create Story. (This is explained in detail on my blog “Create a Story”). Our marriage is like a book, if the book becomes boring, we put it down. We must create adventure, fun, laughter and stories in our marriage to keep it fresh, and interesting enough to want to be a part of it. We also need to keep ourselves interesting by staying fit, healthy, reading and personal growth. That doesn’t mean when life gets tough and uninteresting we walk away. Absolutely NO! It just means that we all want to enjoy life, and what better place to enjoy it than in the most beautiful union on this earth: marriage.

5.         Praying together. This may be an awkward suggestion for many of you, but my second marriage has remained authentic, interesting, powerful and loving because of the power of prayer in our lives. There are so many struggles, pain and challenges in this life that we simply don’t know what to do with.  So we go to a higher power: God. For the past fourteen Jack and I get up each morning to meet for time of reading the bible together and the spending time in prayer. I personally believe this has been the most beautiful and powerful aspect of our marriage.

Jack and I both believe that everything God makes is very good. “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good” (Genesis 1:31 NIV). We both believe that, when we allow God to teach us how to have a good marriage, we will find the JOY we are looking for.

You will find more information on second marriages in Chapter 6 in my book SAND TO PEARLS: Making Bold Choices to Enrich Your Life.