February 28, 2013

7 Secrets of a Long and Satisfying Marriage


This article was made by Rebecca Barlow Jordan and I found it inspires a lot in knowing the key of successful marriage. Learn before you do. I am a believer that marriage is a lifetime learning journey. But if we don't realise it as it actually is, we will face so many difficulties ahead. So, enjoy the article and grow together :)


After four decades of marriage, my husband and I could probably sum up the secret of a long and satisfying marriage in three words: God’s amazing grace. Regardless of how long you’ve been married, I’ve listed some additional secrets below that might be helpful. No, these secrets are not necessarily our secrets, though we’ve tried to incorporate them into our marriage relationship. Like you, we’re still learning. But as marriage enrichment leaders through the years we’ve had the privilege of working with many couples. And in his ministry position, my husband has had the opportunity to counsel and help numerous couples.

What makes a marriage flourish? This list is not exhaustive, but here are seven secrets of a long and satisfying marriage that we’ve observed through the years: (If you’ve been married over 20 years, I’d love to hear your thoughts on what makes a marriage last. You can do so at the end of this blog).

1. Build your marriage on the right spiritual foundation, with Christ as the center.


This includes a respect for each other and submission to God. Couples with mutual faith and spiritual goals who pray together do tend to stay together (Ephesians 5:21, NASB). But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you (Matthew 6:33, NKJV).

2. Seek to understand and appreciate the God-given differences and uniqueness of your spouse.

Couples can spend a lifetime of fruitless, unhappy years trying to change each other to mirror their own personalities instead of celebrating and being grateful for their differences. Men and women aredifferent. In addition, your spouse’s strengths (that you might call irritations) may be the very tool God wants to use to compliment your weakness in that areaYou made all the delicate inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex(Psalm 139:12-14, NLT). Love does cover a multitude of flaws! (I Peter 4:8, NASB).

3. Draw the right conclusions about the things that happen to you and your marriage.

Recognize the lies, “It will always be this way;” “Things will never change;” or “I married the wrong person,” and make a mutual commitment to work on difficult issues that may arise. Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life (Psalm 139:23-24, NLT). Romans 8:28 is another great principle to help you keep the right perspective.

4. Continually practice communication that includes talking–and listening–with a genuine effort to understand.

Practicing “fast-food” communication helps. Think about talking with your spouse like the cashiers do on the microphone when you’re in line at a fast-food restaurant. They repeat your order back to you until they (hopefully) get it right. James 1:19 is a great rule of thumb. Taking the time to truly understand your mate by “drawing out” their thoughts takes it a step further: Counsel in the heart of man [woman] is like deep water, But a man [woman] of understanding will draw it out (Proverbs 20:5, NKJV).

5. Become a life-long a student of your spouse, including learning and “speaking” their love language.

In Gary Chapman’s book, The Five Love Languages, he shares five ways that all of us best “receive” love: words of affirmation, acts of service, physical touch, quality time, and gifts. It’s a fascinating, but rewarding task to discover what your spouse’s love language really is. Chapman’s book is now available in paperback, and if you are interested, you can find it here. I have a few other helpful marriage books listed on my resource page, but there are tons more available. Keep in mind that relationships are hurt, not helped, if you base this “love language” on an “I-will-if-you-will” or an “I won’t if you don’t,” basis. Love chooses to give, even when the giving may seem one-sided at times.

6. Be willing to get help should your marriage “hit the wall.”

Most couples will occasionally “hit the wall.” That happened to us fifteen years into our marriage. This often happens to a runner about halfway through his race. That’s the point where his body is feeling the pressure of the race, and he must make a decision: to quit or to get a second wind and keep on going to finish. Same thing in a marriage. At that point, don’t hesitate to get help from a trusted counselor. We all come into marriage with baggage. Sometimes we need help “unpacking” it. Determine that the benefits are worth the work. Marriage is built on commitment, through the good times–and the bad. It’s not based on feelings or emotions. Love is patient…love never fails (I Corinthians 13:4, 8, NIV). And forgiveness—and grace—are essentials to a growing relationship.

7. Have fun together.

Divert daily; withdraw weekly; abandon annually–these were the challenges we heard from a pastor friend early on in our marriage. Take time to get away and nurture the relationship God gave you. No money? Cheap dates with your spouse are plentiful. Be creative, and make it a priority to have fun. Laughter is not only a great healer. It’s also great way to nourish a growing marriage. A merry heart does good, like medicine (Proverbs 17:22, NKJV).

Would You Share Your Secrets for a Long and Satisfying Marriage?
These seven secrets are not exhaustive. God’s Word offers many practical principles and blueprints for this most sacred relationship. How about sharing the secrets of your marriage? I know others would benefit by your comments. If you’ve been married at least 20 years, what are some secrets you can share with us? What are the things that have helped make your marriage strong?

February 17, 2013

The Winter Time



I am living in country where it has no four seasons. There are no spring, summer, autumn, nor winter. In my country (Indonesia), we have only two seasons: dry season and rainy season. Most of Indonesians dislike the peak of dry season where the weather gets very hot (around 33 degrees of Celcius). Okay, I know that means "nothing" to those who lives in four seasons country, because on summer their average temperature can be between 41-57 degrees of Celcius. But for Indonesians, 33 degrees is hot. Especially living in busy city like Jakarta with its traffic jam, walking under the sun is the least favorable option for the citizens. We desperately long for a cooler weather and get addicted with air conditioner in every room. That is why Indonesians also has greater interest to travel to cooler country or perhaps certain country during the winter time. We long to see SNOW! For us, it is exciting! But as I have observed, the people who live in four seasons country may not see winter season as an enjoyable one. In contrast to Indonesians, they may much prefer summer than winter. Winter is dreary, the sun sets earlier, the city gets more quiet because people prefer to stay within their warm home, the road gets more slippery so that people have to be more careful in driving, and many more. Isn't that interesting? For some, winter is fun, while for some others winter is dreary!


Isn't our life's approach similar to the seasons that happen in where we live to? Although each of us may have different preference regarding our favourite season, I would like to share  my illustration from the general point of view. Let us assume that summer is associated when things in our life are running well. Then winter is associated when things are not as smooth as we planned it to or even bad things are really happening in our life such as disaster, "big" problems that seem impossible to solve, etc. Most of people love when summer season is happening. Life seems so free from its problems, they can do what they want to do, have fun, and "enjoy" life. But as certain as the season changes, so does the season of our lives will change. Your summer time perhaps was in your childhood. As you grow up as teenager you started to face that your parents have to divorce, your school friends dislike you, and life seems so "dark". No dream, no hope. Or maybe your summer is your single life back then. The season changed as you entered marriage life with "wrong" man. You cannot stop wishing how you would make a better decision back then which is not choosing him as your life partner. The point is, either it is because of your mistake or others' decision in your life, your season of life will change. Summer is not for forever, neither winter is for the end of time. Joy does not last forever, neither sorrow is meant for the end of time. Knowing this seasons of life and anticipating its changes is a wisdom. If you embrace this wisdom, you may be better prepared to face the winter time. Just because the winter is cold doesn't mean you have to become a cold person too. I know that the heaviness of problems you are facing offer many chances to let you become one. But again, I want to encourage you to embrace the wisdom and anticipate the change in your life well.

I know exactly that winter time can really be awful. Your car can be all covered by snow and ice which takes a lot of effort to remove it. You can get flu. Even waking up in the morning requires high level of determination. But try to imagine this.. In the midst of the coldness that your body is difficult to bear, you start to sip and holding on your hot chocolate. Hmm.. I bet that the hot chocolate will taste so much better than when you drink it in summer. What I want to show you is, yes problems in your life can really make your life seems bad. It can even make you feel helpless, desperate, tired, worry, angry, and so on. Yes, it can also make you sick, either mentally or physically. But realise that only in this "winter" season, you can allow some works God has to do inside of you. It is the only season where the smallest act of kindness such as a simple smile given to you can mean the world to you. Just a feeling that someone cares for you will influence your soul so much. It is the season  where you can see who your friends really are. And as odd as it seems, it is a season where your friends can turn to strangers, and strangers turn to friends. It is a fragile moment where if you open your heart enough, you can allow some "strangers" to be the extension hands of God and touch your heart. There is still a beauty in winter time. It depends on how you choose to see it.

Believe that God will not allow winter time in your life for no reason. If He allows you to face difficult circumstances, He has a purpose for you. You may be bored with these words. But I cannot tell other truth besides this. There once a girl who has just went home after serving the Lord in the church. She was practicing choir until late at night. When she had almost arrived at her home, some guys approached her and almost rape her. She wasn't being raped at that night. But she could feel the disgust brim over her mind knowing that she has been sexually abused. After that happened, she took a bath again and again. The water from the shower washed her crying face. In her heart she kept screaming, "Why Lord? Why Lord?" She didn't do anything bad. She had just SERVING the Lord. Why would God allow such thing to happen? She didn't find the answer until 20 years later her ministry came to reach the women who became victims of rape. At first she started to reach one woman, the woman lashed out her saying, "You don't know how it feels!" Now she realise why would God allow that horrible night 20 years ago to happen. She confidently said to the victim, "I do. I know how it feels. Although I wasn't being raped fully but all the condemnation and disgust feeling was the same as yours." I will never forget the lesson here. God will make you so strong at the broken places in your life so that you should minister to others out of that hidden strength. God may allow you have a background of alcoholic and drug users so that one day you can reach those who are just the same as you used to be. I am not saying if you never be in their position God can never use you. I am saying that God can use all things that happen in your life (including bad things) to serve a greater purpose in others' life. 

"You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people." -Genesis 50:20

"And we know that in ALL things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." -Romans 8:28

"He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart, yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end." -Ecclesiastes 3:11





Winter is not always bad. The thick ice can be used for ice skating. You can spend more time with your family at home or read your untouched books so far. You can make snowballs, ski, etc. There is a beauty in every winter. It may be hidden, so you need to use your eyes of faith to see it. In the midst of the plants that run dry during winter, there is one type of flower grows in it. It is snowdrop flower. Snowdrops symbolize new beginnings and hope because they typically bloom at the end of winter and announce the approach to spring. Growing close to the ground, they also represent death. In winter time, your character is being purified. That will require the death of "self". No more selfishness, no more "I" in everything. You try to see things as God sees it, treat people as God wants them to be treated, and even consider them more important than your needs (not being a martyr of course). And out of the death of "self" is actually the beginning of hope. Snowdrops are beautiful not just physically but because of the message they bring. There is a hope in the midst of your heavy problems. Do not let the light of hope diminish in your life. Pray to God, ask Him what He wants to teach you in this season. Keep believing that this winter time won't last forever. And as you keep trusting in the goodness of the Lord, keep praising and giving thanks to Him, the spring is approaching you. The hope will announce its coming. And you may no longer realise that the season of your life has changed simply because you are embracing the beauty of your winter time. Don't wait for things to be better first to be thankful, start with today and your life will change! Life is not about waiting the storm out there to pass, but to get out and dancing in the rain :)

"God grant me the courage not to give up what I think is right even though I think it is hopeless" -Chester W. Nimitz

"A little more persistence, a little more effort and what seems hopeless failure may turn to glorious success" -Elbert Hubbard


Blessings,
Leticia Seviraneta

February 16, 2013

Faith Based Relationship



In my previous post titled "Healthy Soul" I have discussed how we often some sort of expectations on people. We much likely desire people to change things that we dislike on them. Now I want to discuss how can we see them differently? You may say, "It is easy to speak but hard to do." But I would like to share some truth that can help you to shift your perspective ;) 

In God's eyes, everybody is a 10. Do you believe it? If you believe that everybody is sinner, then saying "Everybody is a 10" will equal to "Every sinner, too, is a 10" Yes, your score in God's eyes are not depend on your performance. It's not about how righteous you are. God is your own creator. He knows you inside out. He knows whether you will sin or not, He knows all of your motives. Nothing that you choose in life surprises Him. 

"O LORD, you have examined my heart and know everything about me. You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts even when I'm far away. You see me when I travel and when I rest at home. You know everything I do. You know what I am going to say even before I say it, LORD. You go before me and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to understand!" -Psalm 139:1-6

"You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed." -Psalm 139:15-16



When God created you, He put all the potentials hidden inside of you. Sin causes His image on you to be distorted and that potentials cannot be found and grown. That's what makes you feel hard to see everybody as a 10 with your physical eyes. They are all the "10" who don't realise themselves as "10". They may live without knowing who they are, why they are here on earth, what is their purpose of life, how suppose they treat people, and so on. There are times when I,too, don't realise myself as a 10. We have been grown by thinking that, "When I sin, I hit the lower score than before." "I used to be so close to God, but now it is gone." Right now, let us stop thinking of those things and start to embrace the way God sees us.

Paul knew exactly how God saw the church in Corinth. You may be able to recall the most famous scripture about love is located on 1 Corinthians 13. But the citizens of Corinthians at that time were far from the image of love. The practice of immorality and wickedness. The culture of the city also influenced the church. The church at Corinth continued to struggle for a very long time with basic issues concerning unity and moral living. But look closely at how Paul addressed them. 

"To the church of God is at Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all who in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours:" -1 Corinthians 1:2


Paul called them as saints! Sinners are seen by the eyes of God as saints by the blood of Jesus Christ :) So how are we going to apply this truth to our relationship with fellow human? I learn that each time I am disturbed by certain characters and what they do to me, I learn to pray for them. Instead of trying to change people with my own way, either by nagging or criticise them, I learn to surrender it to the Lord and let God works to convict and change their hearts. Do you realise that it takes more faith to pray your problems to the Lord than to try solving it by your own? You may not realise it, but when you correct people in inappropriate way, it does not build them up but tear them down. Instead of helping them to see themselves as a 10, you are convincing them that they are "3" or "5". Of course there are times when we have to speak up our advices, but God gives a specific guidance regarding correcting people. 

"Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church." -Ephesians 4:15

If we point out others' weakness out of our own frustration or anger, for sure our tone, our choice of words and our body language will be less likely express love to them. We are more likely to have tendency to say "truth" because we are the one who dislike it and try to change it. This habit destroys so many relationships. People who are constantly receiving that behavior can be depressed and have a low-self esteem. Everyone loves to be accepted. And even their behavior is unacceptable for you, there is a way to communicate it. And again for me, a faith based relationship will mean that you surrender it to God and trusting that God is the one who will work in their hearts. Sometimes you really don't have to say anything to particular person. Say it to God, and God will deliver it in His time. Sounds weird? I am a speak up person. When I apply it into my life, I feel helpless. How can you use a "mediator" to convey your message when you can speak to them directly? But this "mediator" is not a merely "mediator". He is GOD. He is the ONLY one who can change people's heart and your situation. I always remember what Kay Warren said, "Christianity is about SURRENDER." I have tried this and I have experience how God delivered my message to some people (both believers and unbelievers). Will you surrender that person and your relationship to God? 


"Praying for those who love you, that is sincerity. Praying for those who hurt you, that is maturity." -Leticia Seviraneta

This faith based relationship can be applied in every kind of relationship in your life. If you are a wife who desperately wants your husband to change in some areas (the one that you know exactly God will like to change them too), pray it to the Lord. Don't constantly criticising him. One prayer full of faith in God is more efficient than hundreds of sentences to convince him to change. What a truth! You may see prayer as the last effort or somewhat a passive one. Yet Oswald Chambers described prayer so beautifully. "Prayer does not fit us for the greater work; prayer is the greater work." If you ever want God change and heal your "hopeless" relationship, the first thing to do is to pray. Surrender them to the Lord completely. Remember that faith is believing before it is seen and believing that God can change the situation. You may find it very very difficult to see people as a 10, but with your eyes of faith, you can! You may not see how things can turn around, but with the big God you serve and TRUST, you can. Your relationship will be transformed so greatly when you apply your faith in it. Those people whom you hardly like, is one of God's precious 10. He wants them to realise it. Don't tear them down with your own words, build them up. There is always something to be praised and appreciated. When you can shift your focus from their weakness to their strength, it can help you a lot. In the end, as we are on the journey on this faith based relationship process, we will find that we are the one who is being transformed! Our faith is growing stronger. People may not change, but your attitude to them will. Put your faith in each of your relationship. God works the most when we surrender all to Him.


"Go home, and let all your relatives off the potter's wheel. You are not the potter!" -Joyce Meyer

Blessings,
Leticia Seviraneta

February 04, 2013

Healthy Soul


"A relationship will only be as healthy as the individuals in it"


Nowadays, many people become more aware for their health by doing more exercises in the gym, take rpm or even yoga classes, and many more. Some men are very dedicated to restrict their foods and drink high protein milk to build up their muscles. We are more easily motivated to maintain what our eyes can see, rather than what our eyes cannot see. Not many people realise that just like our bodies need exercise to maintain its health, so does our souls too. As what you eat determines your future health, so does what we feed into our souls will determine how healthy our souls will be and how rich our relationship can be. 

How is the condition of relationship in your life? Is it  satisfying or frustrating? You may feel that having a successful relationship is definitely not easy. You face lots of people with background, emotional baggage, character, habits that entirely different from yours. The situation gets more complicated as each people brings some sets of unspoken expectation in relationship with you. I feel you! Are you tired for all the conflicts arise and wondering how could you make the relationships in your life run well? If yes, then this article is for you :)

The Unmet Expectations

People tend to have expectations based on who they are and what they usually do. For example, if you are a typical of person who is always come "in time" which means you come early before the scheduled time, then you will be more likely to expect people to behave the same as you. Even "on time" would be regarded as "late" for you. Of course few people will expect differently depending on their degree of tolerance. For those who is very strict in time, people who always come late will frustrate them. Some may respond it with disappointment, anger, or just keep the negative emotion sealed in their hearts. The case will be more often found in relationship with people you live with whether your parents, siblings, or spouse. Your behaviour and character will have greater possibility to clash with theirs. You may wish that your parents will compliment your achievement, but they simply don't express love in words. You may wish that your spouse will give you surprises, flowers, or just simply be romantic; but he is completely not a romantic guy. You may wish your children do exactly as you instruct them to do because you know it is the best way, but they want to have their way. As the unmet expectations pile up, disappointment grows. At last, all we have is our hearts are full of resentment and bitterness. No body wants to be bitter, but if we don't exercise our soul to stay away from it, it will be hard for not having bitterness dwell in us. The right way to look at disappointment is always remember that disappointment lasts for a season, but relationship is for a lifetime. Which one is more important to you?


"We need to learn to have a realistic expectations and let people off the hook. By giving people room to be human, we can avoid a lot of heartache." -Victoria Osteen

One thing we need to remember and apply it in our daily lives is that knowing that every person we meet in this life is never and will never be perfect. Your parents, your children, your friends, and your spouse are just imperfect human. You may choose your own spouse because he/she fulfills your criteria's list. But there will always a time when he/she cannot fulfill all of your expectations (moreover when they are unspoken expectation). Why? Because they are not you. Your ways of thinking and their ways of thinking are different. What you think is good, may not be good for them (at least at the first time you say it). Because we all are imperfect human, if you depend your happiness on the suitability of each of your expectations with the reality you get, you will always get disappointed. And disappointed person is never be a happy person. 


"I realize that I can't make people change. I can't force someone to be a certain way. I can only be a model for change. When I treat people the way I want them to be, that's the seed God uses to bring about change. " -Victoria Osteen

So what should we do with all of our expectations? Should we stop expecting from others? Not really. The problems here are not a matter of the existence of expectation but more about what we do when we don't get what we expect :) Children may whine when they don't get what they want. Are we doing the same? Maybe we don't whine physically but whine in our hearts? So here is my point.. If you want to improve your relationship, then the first step toward it is being a healthy person. Even people you relate with are unhealthy or have some heart issues, as long as you are healthy, your relationship will not be as problematic as the way it is now. We cannot change people, but we can change ourselves. And here are some rules in order to have a healthy soul ;)

1. Your happiness is your own responsibility

It is true that what people say or do to you can really affect the condition of your heart naturally. But I want to shift the natural to be supernatural. Happiness is not a product of circumstances. Happiness is a choice you make on your own regardless of the circumstances. Surely it is not always easy. It is like you try to swim against the current. But if you consistently exercise your ability to choose your own happiness, it can happen. Rather than being driven by other people's negative emotion toward you, be a driver to your own emotion. 

2. Don't let offenses hang around

A pearl is formed when a single grain of sand or a tiny foreign particle is lodged inside an oyster. If left alone, that tiny particle will cause damage to the tender mollusk. The interesting part is the oyster will immediately secrets nacre (lacquer-like substance) as a means of protecting itself. It seals away the irritation and at last forming gorgeous pearl. It doesn't take longer time pass before it begins to cover the grain of sand with nacre. If we let offenses to hang around they will cause damage which will be harder to recover. Some people save offenses in deposits of their memory and hearts. They may not speak to the offender for quite some time. They think that it is better not to speak to each other rather than to fight. They do not realise that by not speaking to each other means they are making more holes of misunderstanding and hinder the relationship to grow. Whenever people say words or do things that hurt you, be quick to seal your heart.Don't let it get into your heart and irritate your inside. Be quick to let go forgiveness. 

3. Words and actions are equally important

Some people say that it is more important our actions rather than our words. No need to say, "I love you". "I wash the dishes, that's how I express love." But meanwhile, you find him always criticise you. There seems to be always something wrong in what you do or what you wear. I have to disagree with opinion which states actions are more important than words. Words are important too. Words can either bring life or death. "The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who live it will eat its fruit." (Proverbs 18:21) Your words can either build up or tear down someone. I also learn to think before speak. If we don't do so, we are more likely to say things we will regret, moreover when we are offended. Words are your treasure. It must be handled carefully. I am a typical of person which is affected by words spoken to me so much. I am mentally drained when I relate with people who only point my mistake constantly. They think they are good and care for me. But that kind of relationship is only make me more broken. Every people needs a space to be allowed to be on their own. If we start "fixing" everyone around us, we miss the true riches we were meant to gain from those relationships. Again, words are meant to build up and not to tear down. You can give your 'inputs' at the right time, but be willing to let your listener to choose their own choice without making them losing their ability and right to decide.

If you cannot be happy on your own, other people also cannot bring that happiness to you. I've seen so many people suffer simply because they depend so much on others to make them happy. If you want to enjoy a rich and satisfying relationship, be the change you want. Be the healthy individual within that relationship. Release all your past hurts and unforgiveness. That's what make us different from children who are basically immature. Instead of demanding from others to give to us, give what we want to others. If you want to have a good communication with your partner, don't be the one who talk. Be the listener. Learn to see things from others' point of view. I always believe that a healthy person will seek opportunity to give rather than to receive. They focus on others more on themselves. Of course.. it takes an exercise :D As we practice it daily, one day we will master it! A healthy relationship is a product of hard work! Let's make it happen!




Blessings, 
Leticia Seviraneta