Monthly Archives: February 2016

Stages of Marriage

 

The day after Valentine’s I got reflecting on nearly 40 years of marriage, sitting in our local Starbuck’s. I was reminded that marriage goes through many stages, but three stand out to me. I have been through the first two, and on occasion slip back, but strive for stage 3.

Thanks to some old sermon notes from Rick Warren, these were the ‘high points’.

The happy honeymoon stage–characterized by intensity, idealism, indulgence, infatuation, and yes, ignorance😁

The party’s over stage is characterized by dullness, disagreements, defensiveness, disapproval, and alas disappointment

The maturing love stage is beautifully characterized by tenderness, respect and responsibility, understanding, security, trust and raw honesty, and of course lots of fun.

Oh for more of 3 and less of 1 and 2 stages.

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“This is what love is”

I woke up this morning thinking about one of my favourite romantic love stories called Captain Corelli’s Mandolin (2001), starring Nicolas Cage and Penelope Cruz.  Although Cage plays a lousy Italian, the story is still well told.  And the scenery is breathtaking and the people so winsome.

There’s a beautiful scene in the movie when Pelagia’s (Cruz) is being ‘coached’ by her physician father Iannis about what love really is. She is torn between two loves, a local greek fellow who has gone off to war, and now this mandolin playing and singing Italian soldier, Corelli.

Here’s the dialogue that I think so well sums up the potency of real love by her father.

Iannis: When you fall in love, it is a temporary madness. It erupts like an earthquake, and then it subsides. And when it subsides, you have to make a decision. You have to work out whether your roots are become so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part. Because this is what love is. Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement, it is not the desire to mate every second of the day. It is not lying awake at night imagining that he is kissing every part of your body. No… don’t blush. I am telling you some truths. For that is just being in love; which any of us can convince ourselves we are. Love itself is what is left over, when being in love has burned away. Doesn’t sound very exciting, does it? But it is!

After I posted this a friend of mine, Josette Pappadakis, who is actually married to a Greek fellow, wrote the following about ‘what love really is’.

So between Corelli and Josette’s hubby, we have a great example of practical love.

Over to Josette, who a couple of weeks ago broke a bone and disabled her for a few weeks.

Being married 50 years I can attest to all of the above. True test of love come when you fall and break a bone and you have your husband helping uncomplainingly to shower and dress you. Even putting your socks on and serving me breakfast, lunch and dinner. Tucking me in bed at night with a smile and a kiss. That is true love! I am so blessed. Thank God this is a temporary situation and I am beginning to do more little things for myself each day. 

 

Dealing With Temptation to Settle in 2016

 

Just over one month into the New Year….with all the energy and hype well past us, I want to ask you, with some help from Steve Carter of Willow Creek, a big question–

“Are you moving or have you settled in to the familiar rut that has plagued you for months, maybe even years”?

“Many people are in a rut and a rut is nothing but a grave – with both ends kicked out.” Vance Havner

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We’ve all had moments where we have ‘settled’……and not because we feel we are in God’s sweet spot for us…. but more because we have become comfortable. We know we are not living inspired lives, or living up to our God given potential.

If you are feeling that way, you are not alone.

The Old Testament recounts the story of the Israelites going on an 11 day journey that lasted 40 years after having left the enslavement of Egypt. By year 40 they arrive at a mountain called Horeb. They are camped out there for a year. It became a place that was safe and comfortable for them. They knew where to find water. They knew where to trade and get food. They knew how to deal with their issues. They created a “comfortable” lifestyle while camped out at the mountain. Life was good at Horeb.

Or was it?

In Deuteronomy 1:6 the Israelites got a ‘word from God’ via their ‘Coach’ Moses.

“ The Lord our God said to us at Horeb, “You have stayed long enough at this mountain.”

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In many ways we are so very similar. If not careful we will find ourselves “managing life” in such a way that keeps us comfortable. We “camp out” on our own “mountains”, and stay too long.

Consider these questions:

Can you name your mountain where you sense you have stayed too long?
Can you name where you have found yourself stuck? There is no growth. It’s just more of the same.
Your mountain feels familiar. It feels comfortable. Even though it may be spiralling you into bad habits or patterns, you try to manage it and control it. It’s not working and it is definitely not exciting.

I refer to this as the “Mountain To Get Over”. These are places and or attitudes where you have stayed too long.

I am indebted to Steve Carter of Willow Creek Church for this list of “mountains’ you and I may need to move on from in 2016–

9 Mountains To Consider:

Mountain of Overstaying. Have you have stayed in your role too long. Is it time to move?
Mountain of Overtime. Are you are working too much? Are you always accessible to your phone?
Mountain of Over-spending.

Are you consistently living outside of your means? Are you over stressed because you have little to no margin? How do you spell relief for your time and money – B U D G E T!
Mountain of Over-commitment. Are you unable to say “NO”? Do you have so many plates spinning that you are unable to offer your very best?
Mountain of Over-eating. Perhaps you have an unhealthy relationship to food and eating. And perhaps in moments of stress and feeling alone and sadness, you turn to food.
Mountain of being Over-revved. Perhaps your RPM’s are out of control and you are amped up and on high alert all the time. Are you driving yourself and the people around you a bit “crazy”? What it’s like being ‘on the other side of your ‘reved-upness’?
Mountain of Over-reacting. Do you have irrational responses to things that don’t meet your expectations? Are people tip toeing around the chaos you create, walking on egg shells, afraid that you might lash out at them?
Mountain of Overwhelm. Are you a person who constantly feels overwhelmed? To be overwhelmed can look like this: Stressed + Lack of Resources (perceived or otherwise) + Feeling pressure+ Not enough time.
Mountain of Left Overs. Are you living off of what God has done in years past but there’s nothing new. You haven’t been connected to Jesus in years. Has your connection to Him gone stale, almost non-existent? Does it feel like you are just going through the motions? Is your most boring hour of the week at church.
If you want to make 2016 something remarkable, it begins with naming your mountain where you have stayed too long.

Here are some helpful words that God tells the people through Coach Moses.

“Break camp and advance into the hill country…. See, I have given you this land. Go in and take possession of the land….” Deuteronomy 1:7-8

Football coach Jim Harbaugh offers this advice for ‘breaking camp and advancing’,

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‘Attack each day with an enthusiasm unknown to mankind!”

One of my mountains for 2016 is my compulsion to Over Commit. I am discovering that this mountain, is in part, driven by my need to be ‘liked’, to receive the approval of others. I am currently working on this.

So let’s get off the mountain and move out!! Are you with me?

A Maverick Application:

Take a few minutes to go through the list of ‘overs’. Which ones can you name for yourself? Are there any ‘overs’ missing here that you still feel you are stuck at?
What mountain needs your attention right now? What ideas are coming to mind about how you can step into this ‘over’ in your life?
Moses had Aaron and Joshua and a few others to support him. Who are the ‘Aarons and Joshuas’ that you can enlist to support you, as you look to tackle those mountains in 2016?