Friday, August 31, 2012

by Dottie Parish

These red words in Scripture challenge many Christians - as well they should. This is a command! Jesus says:

Matthew 5:48 
Be perfect as your heavenly father is perfect. NIV

Matthew 5:48 
What I’m saying is, grow up. You’re kingdom subjects. Now live out of your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you. The Message

I’ve been trying to “be perfect” all my life. I know I have to give up my wish for perfection as that’s not possible and not what you mean by “be perfect.”  Rather you mean be loving - as You are loving. Perfect means being whole, complete, or mature in the faith.

I have mixed feelings about The Message’s injunction to grow up! I like its directness and the fact that we must grow, but I don’t think this means we should “stuff” our feelings and never have a meltdown. This leads to denial of issues we need to face. Facing our issues keeps us growing.

On the other hand it’s hard to let go of childish things (such as a “pity party” or self-centeredness) and move on to the solid maturity of an adult believer. You said, “My food is to do the will of my father.” (John 4:34 NIV) We must chew on the Word and let it mature us. Then we will do Your will. Help me make Your Word and Your will my food also. Help me be humble and loving in all I do and say. 

Blessings, Dottie

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Are There Control Issues in Your Marriage?

Who’s In Control?
By Dottie Parish
Control issues are evident in many marriages. Looking at who decides things or who has the final say often reveals a very skewed picture. Ideally control should be shared and there should be room for each person to express their individuality and "get their own way" some of the time.

Control Issues
Control issues are not the same as power issues. Power has to do with competition and winning. Couples who disagree, argue or fight are often in a power struggle. Control struggles, in contrast, are about autonomy - the need to have your own individuality. Ask your self who controls me and who do I control? A controlling person does not respect the uniqueness of the other person. They know best what, when and how things should be done.
A marriage in which one person is highly controlling of the other may begin that way because of a wide age difference. For example, an 18 year old woman may welcome the dominance of her 28 year old husband. As she grows and develops, however, this arrangement becomes less and less satisfying. Similarly, someone with little self-esteem may welcome the protective control of the other. 

Security Needs
The dominated person is fearful of asserting their needs and rights. Security is so important to them that they opt for peace at any price. Often the controlling partner has little awareness of the controlled partners’ unhappiness or of how disrespectful they are to their partner. 

The Need to Control
The driving force behind a need to control is fear. The more fearful the person is the more they attempt to control every aspect of their life. Things are in order, predictable, scheduled. Since fear is at the root of this problem the solution lies in overcoming fear. Both partners need to overcome fear.

The controlled person must overcome fear and find the courage to express their needs. This can be done in a non-threatening way. Talk with your spouse about what you want and need. Then take small gradual steps toward making some independent decisions and some shared decisions. As you become more independent, reassure your controlling spouse that you love him and you have no intention of leaving. Remember, he is fearful under the surface or he wouldn’t have such a need to control. 

The controlling person needs to recognize the fear behind their need to control and set a goal to reduce their controlling behavior.  Letting go will feel scary but will help you and your spouse grow.  Faith in God can help overcome fear. We are not in control, but he is. Trust God and let go.

For God has not given you a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love and self-discipline.” 2 Timothy 1:7 NLT

Blessings, Dottie

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Love Your Enemies

I'm back to blogging on the commands of Jesus - the red words in the Bible. Those who missed previous posts on this  can look back to April 17, 22, 30, and May 8, 14, 21, 28 and June 4 and 11.  

Matt. 5:43-47 Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.  He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get?  Are not even the tax collectors doing that?  And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others?  Do not even pagans do that?

Luke 6:27 Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.

Luke 6:35 Love your enemies, do good to them and lend them without expecting to get anything back.

Father, Teach me to love as Jesus’ loved. While I don’t have any major enemies there have been some people in my life who I didn’t like and who I avoided. We judge too quickly by appearances without getting to know people. I worked with a few people who were difficult, who misunderstood me. I liked them, but our relationship was not good, but did I pray for them? Others who annoyed me have been people who seemed like Pharisees - pretentious, condescending. Did Jesus love the Pharisees and Sadducees? This is very hard to do. Leanne Payne, a speaker I’ve heard, talks about “my beloved enemy,” those close to us who we love, but are unloving toward. Ouch! Those closest include my husband, my sisters, and my children. Help me, in all my relationships, demonstrate love. I’ve learned this year that my need to control can make me seem to be unloving and even an enemy. I give all these issues to you, Lord. Change me!

 Blessings, Dottie

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Can Shift Work Cause a Rift in a Marriage?

Differing Schedules Are a Problem
Marriages in today’s face paced world are often characterized by too much distance and a lack of communication. This is especially true of two career couples working different shifts. Couples with different schedules have some very real obstacles to overcome. They must find unique ways to make frequent and meaningful contact with each other.
The Problems with Shift Work
Shift work, itself is a problem. One in four employees work irregular or rotating shifts. Many of these suffer from fatigue, lack of sleep, difficulty in concentrating on the job and even depression. Research indicates that shift workers have a higher than normal incidence of heart disease, digestive ailments, emotional problems and sleep disorders.  They also have a 25% higher divorce rate. 
According to sleep experts, those who work at night average one or two hours less sleep each day during the week and three or four hours less sleep on the weekend. They try to get the sleep they need while other family members are up and about. Even in the most considerate of households this is difficult. Young children cannot be kept quiet all day Saturday and Sunday. A day time sleeper may be awakened by the telephone, a neighbor’s lawn mower, nearby construction, and so forth.
Shift workers who sleep during the day feel left out of many normal activities. Yet if they try to participate in social and family events they give up needed sleep. Those who work second shift have the problem of missing many evening social affairs and have little time with their children and their friends. 
Wives of shift workers are left to handle many of the day-to-day affairs of the family, and they must spend many evening, night and weekend hours alone. The comfort of sleeping together is also missing for both partners. 
Finding Solutions
Recognizing the problem is the first step to solving it. Just being aware of the issues will help both partners figure out their unique solutions. It’s essential you make your relationship a priority during the time you’re both off work. The spouse who works days might nap during the evening in order to spend some time with the second shift partner when he or she comes home. Similarly, the person who works nights might occasionally stay up for an hour or so in the morning in order to be with his or her partner. Welcome home hugs and good-bye kisses will help. Phone calls, emails and thoughtful notes to each other can also bridge the communication and affection gap.

Enjoy life with your wife, whom you love.” Ecclesiastes 9:9

Blessings, Dottie

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

What Causes Parent and In-law Problems?

What causes family problems? 
When we visit our parents as adults we may revert to our childhood role in the  family. Whether we act like children or are treated as though we are still a child, old issues often rear their heads. This can be confusing to our partner. All of a sudden a strong, capable husband or wife is acting like a mama’s boy or girl. Our partner also may not understand why our feelings are hurt because they did not have the history of slights or hurts leading up to the current problem.
The spouse may also feel excluded. We may be back in the family nest, all cozy and comfortable, having intense, meaningful or even hilarious times with our parents and siblings and they feel left out. They don’t know the inside jokes. They don’t share the history of our past.
Our parents may be threatened because it’s obvious they are no longer as important to us as they once were. Depending on the style and maturity of the parents they may demand more time or attention, find fault with you or your spouse, or accept things as they are. We, ourselves, may be dismayed at our own reactions to our families. We may become upset by even minor changes our parents have made. Your former room may now be in use as a study, for example.
Solutions for parent or in-law problems
There are a number of things you can do to prepare for visiting parents or in-laws. 
1.  Talk over in detail with your spouse any problems you expect. Listen carefully and get a clear understanding of the issues for each of you. Then brainstorm about how to handle these problems.

2.  Set up signals to use while visiting to let each other know when something is upsetting either one of you. Plan to talk alone each day about how things are going. Couples need some privacy even during visits.

3.  Remind yourself that your first loyalty now is to your spouse, not to your parents or siblings. This is what marriage is all about. When family conflicts occur you must side with your spouse no matter what.

4.  Talk with your own parents ahead of time if there are specific problems that need to be addressed. Make clear to them the time you will arrive and when you will leave. Let them know also about any other plans. You may want to take a day to visit friends nearby. This will give them time to adjust to your expectations.

5. Show love and appreciation to your parents and your in-laws. In spite of their flaws they do love you and they will put time, effort and money into entertaining you when you visit. Be respectful and understanding toward them.
If parent or in-law problems are extreme or chronic, counseling can help.

Honor your father and mother.” Exodus 20:12

Blessings, Dottie