Archive for September 2010

Enslaved to an outward appearance

I have talked with a few people this week about Satan can use what people think about us to rule our actions. These conversations stemmed from childrens’ clothing; as banal as it sounds, we fear what other people think about us because of what our children wear. This fear is an idol that keeps us enslaved to this life. Pastor Mike Smith taught last week about idols we make to rule our life. (It’s a great teaching that you can download at the Vista website).

How do the clothes our children wear become an idol? When we get our identity from it. When we desire that they are known for it and get attention from it. Maybe if we can present a picture of total confidence on the outside, people will think our families have it all together. This false identity can take two forms: fashion and thrift.

Fashion identity desires the newest shoes, clothes and backpacks in order to bring a acceptance and awe from those around us. It is even better when we can scrapbook those outfits or post them all over facebook.  The need to shop “to make themselves feel better ” is an escape. What we choose to spend our money on is observed by those around us and by our kids. We put our money into what we value.

Thrifty identity desires superiority by flaunting used and reused apparel in hopes that people will see how green or disciplined we are. So much time is spent talking about how much we saved or did not spend in hopes that people will think highly of our morals and values.

Neither shopping at the mall nor thrift store is wrong. When our identity comes from these things, we start heading off track of who we are in Christ. We then pass those values or habits on to our children. I have one friend who can fall into the fashion identity trap because her family flaunted “homemade clothes” when she was younger. I myself can easily fall into the self-righteous thrift trap. Intentionally searching our hearts to determine where we get our identity reveals the idols in our lives. Confessing these idols before God allows us to become a new creation in Him. Freedom from identity fear comes from our trust in His love for us. Can we see ourselves as His beloved children and set our hearts to match His vision?

Family Connection: Do you give your old clothes away to someone who needs them? Drop them off at the thrift store together or better yet, look for someone in your circle who would be blessed by them. The value of reuse with in reason is a good value to practice. Have your kids pick out clothes and toys to give to younger friends to make sharing real to them. Take them with you when you donate, recycle or give away and make it a family life lesson. It teaches them we do not always have to get something for what we give.

Personal Connection: Are you willing to help others or take help from others in the form of clothes? What hinders this in your heart? Do you have a selfish attitude or a wasteful attitude toward this idea? Just because we have the money does not mean we need to spend it. Just because we are willing to receive used things does not make us morally superior.

Sexual intimacy and parenting

My children are all in school now. Tim and I have been blessed to prosper in our former stage of parenting with our sexual intimacy still intact. For this to happen, we had to act intentionally. I have been asking anyone I can find with teenagers how to make physical intimacy a priority through the next stage when kids are more aware and up much later at night. Someone asked me to share what worked for us in the last stage of life. So here it is.

I have been struggling with what to say in this blog about the Biblical tie to intentional physical intimacy in marriage. We don’t want to try to fit a Bible reference here to cover our bases. I don’t want to push ideas into scripture; rather, pull truth from them. The Bible should always be our starting place. What have you learned about sexual intimacy from the Bible? Through all of my marriage, I have prayed Psalm 37:4. My desires are usually wrong because they are impaired by sin. The things my sinful heart desires are not for my over-all benefit without God’s mercy and grace. I am naturally selfish and ungrateful in how or where to spend my time and effort. I have been joined with Tim in this life. God knew we needed each other to fulfill His plan for us on earth. Are we always filled with “desire” for one another emotionally, sexually, mentally and spiritually? No, but we are joined in perfect love through the death of Jesus; therefore, the Holy Spirit gives us new desires through His perfect love. I find it helpful to pray for desire for Tim in all these areas and have found that prayer to be blessed by God.

The hardest part of intimacy for me was having little kids needing my physical touch and a husband who has physical touch as his love language. I didn’t want to be touched by the time the kids were in bed after holding a baby or having kids sit on my lap needing hugs and kisses all day. Tim says the hardest thing for him was quality and quantity of time to be physically and emotionally intimate.

Parenting young kids was physically  exhausting for us. We did not feel great about our bodies a lot of time. We did not get enough sleep. We did not eat well all the time. Sometimes the expectation of perfect timing, perfect bodies, perfect outfit or conversation can destroy the priority of  physical intimacy.

We developed a couple of plans to help us make it a priority. Every couple has different needs, but every couple can intentionally talk about their needs and make their own plans. Here are some things that worked for us. Feel free to share any ideas you may have to add to the effectiveness of this blog.

Dinner in: we would skip afternoon nap for the kids and put them to bed early. We would then have late candlelight dinner at home while they were sleeping to encourage emotional connection and romance.

Thermometer: we kept a printout on our bathroom mirror of a sexual intimacy thermometer with arrows to show each other our sexual mood on a sliding scale. Everything from “don’t want to be touched tonight” to “ready, willing and able” to effectively communicate each others needs and desires.

Sexual intimacy qualifiers: We developed a system of intimacy code words. We use “fast food” or “gourmet” to inform each other of what we are willing to make time for and how to adjust it to each others needs.

Physical intimacy seems like a lot of work when you are covered in spit up, changing diapers, managing tantrums and competing with work schedules. Any intentional conversations and plans help couples prioritize this important part of a healthy marriage. It is important for us as parents to model positive, loving, exciting, appropriate physical love in marriage to our children.

Cindy’s Personal research: I have heard parents of elementary and high school children use date night terminology. They stay in and have each child stay in their rooms for a couple hours. Other friends send their kids out for a couple hours once a week to friends houses in a date night co-op situation. I am collecting other ideas if you know of any.

Cindy’s Book Resources: I found Intimate Issues by Linda Dillow to be life changing. We found people at Vista have recommended His Needs, Her Needs by Willard F. Harley Jr. and our own Marla Taviano writes about this in her book Is It all He Thinks About?

Website for Men: Ignite her passion=This has been recommended to KC by some Vista men as a godly approach to sexual intimacy in marriage. As a woman I have not viewed it. Would like to know what some of you guys think.

Website for Couples that Cindy likes: Marriage intimacy=has great links to various sites. I can vouch for the articles that I have read, but I cannot vouch for the whole site archives personally. I have found most of the  information on The Intimate Couple to be theological and practical on how to practice intimacy in marriage. I personally am not a fan of most of what I have read on Christianmarriage.com.