Rubenesque Rocks

I just saw a height and weight chart with guidelines for women.  It’s a bunch of bunk!  If I weighed what that chart said that I should weigh, I would be at death’s door.

 

Women usually become rounder as we have children and age.   We become more womanly.  Unfortunately, a lack of confidence usually accompanies this change.  Often, we compare ourselves with other more “perfect” women – airbrushed and real.  Womanly woman, I would like to congratulate you because you have earned every stretch mark, fleshly curve and wrinkle and if you are married to an emotionally stable and healthy man, he loves every bit of you.

 

Now, I would like to speak to the husbands of these luscious women.  Please realize that she might be feeling insecure about her more ample body and changing face.  Reassure her that you love her and that you think that she is beautiful, gorgeous and sexy.  Reassure her that these changes do not interfere with your attraction to her or your sexual satisfaction.  Never lie to your wife by tearing down other women in order to make your wife feel better.  Instead, build your wife up by highlighting her attributes.

 

I’m not advocating unhealthy weight.  If you have a spare tire around your middle, it is lethal fat and every four pounds of extra weight, acts like twenty pounds on your joints.  I realize that losing weight is very difficult but you can do it.  A lot of the battle is in our minds.  I myself struggled with post-pregnancy weight because I refused to be honest with myself and admit that I was simply taking in more calories than I was burning.  Once I got real with myself and got busy, even during the hormonal rollercoaster perimenopause years, I was able to lose a considerable amount of poundage and achieve a healthy weight for my frame.

 

Most women have body issues – even those girls that you think are perfect.   You may need the lights off – but don’t keep them off forever.  Enjoy the body that you have right now and enjoy that your husband enjoys it too.  Your confidence is a huge turn on and plays a big role in his attraction for you.  Trust and believe him when he tells you that he thinks that you’re beautiful.  Husbands don’t want to hear their wives reject a complement.  Say thank you and I’m glad that you are turned on be me.

 

Whether you are voluptuous or overweight – please don’t stop living your life.  Relax and live right now both inside the bedroom and outside of the bedroom.

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Femininity Defined

Most women, who are living today, have only known the teachings and attitudes of the women’s liberation movement.  Even those of us in the Church have been influenced more than we realize.  The words feminine and femininity makes us writhe and bristle as though the thought of living this way is deeply offensive.   Somehow, we believe that we are entitled to live differently than the way that we were designed to live.  Somehow, we believe that we know better than the Designer.   Somehow we believe that we or other women are victimized by living this way.   I write this blog because I believe that women will find true and lasting fulfillment when they begin living the way that the Creator designed them to be.

 

Femininity is not a foul word.  Femininity is what makes us different from men.  How does a feminine woman really look and behave?  Well, her appearance, movements, demeanor and behaviors are like that of a woman, not a man.  The following is a non-exhaustive list of feminine traits.

 

>She demonstrates respect, appreciation and admiration for the men in her life, especially her husband.

>She is charming and lovely.

>She is not dismissive or critical of others, especially her husband.

>She is available to her husband in ways that he needs her.

>She touches her husband in both casual and sexual ways.

>She allows all men to be men and respects their differences.

>She gives the men in her life time to decompress.

>She understands that he does not communicate in the same way that she does or as much as she does.

>She finds out how he wants to be served and does it.

>She understands her husbands need for sexual intimacy and makes that a priority.

>She enjoys that her husband is aroused by her and she allows him to touch and enjoy her.

>She appreciates her husband sexually and allows herself to enjoy this part of their life.

>She takes time to take care of herself so that her husband will be proud of her.

>She is soft, comforting, encouraging and agreeable.  She is relational.

 

The first step to living this way is recognizing the need to live biblically.  The second step is asking God to change your heart.   It is worth repeating that true fulfillment comes out of living the way that our Creator intended us to live.  If you find yourself repelled by this post, would you at least consider it with an open heart and mind before you cast it aside?

16 Hours – An Interview with the Playwright

16 HoursTravis W. Inman, Author and Playwright – his life story is like an epic movie portraying the challenges and triumphs of living the American dream.  As a young man, he begins his life as a cowboy in West Texas on his parent’s ranch and follows a long road complete with the harrowing hairpin turns of two broken hips during military service and a life threatening illness.  He survives and walks again and then becomes a published author and now a produced playwright and there is much that happened in between.  Travis W. Inman’s first produced play, entitled 16 Hours was a huge hit with sold out shows.  It was produced by American Laboratory Theatre and directed by international director and creative genius Jesús Quintero.  16 Hours which was originally entitled Decision Maker and then Forbidden Rose, is a deeply moving story of survival, hope, and retribution.

Let’s say hello to author and playwright, Travis W. Inman.

Madeline:Welcome and thank you for visiting with us again Travis.  Please tell us about your play 16 Hours.

Travis:Hello! I deeply appreciate you taking time to chat with me today!  Isaac Jacobs is a man who survived the Holocaust and WWII but lost his family to the Nazis. He dedicated his entire life to tracking down the men who murdered his wife and kids. He finally traps them in a bank and takes them hostage, along with everyone else in the bank at the time. He intends to execute the Nazis in a very public setting. However, nothing goes according to plan. The other hostages are more complicated than he anticipated, and he has trouble executing his plan. All of his life he hoped for justice, never did he expect justice would bring him hope.

Madeline:I have had the honor of reading your original script for 16 Hours and I was privileged to attend two showings.   The director Jesús Quintero, colored your story beautifully.  What was the most difficult aspect of letting go of your writings and allowing the creative process to work?  What was the most enjoyable aspect?

Travis:Jesús creatively interpreted the script and added many theatrical elements to the play that I did not envision. He asked permission to interpret the play, and I freely surrendered the script to him, knowing that whatever he did was going to be incredible. Nothing he did was difficult for me to embrace. In fact, there are many aspects of his direction that I will incorporate into the actual script. As far as letting go? I had no trouble with this at all. I learned long ago that when I create something in writing, and then surrender it to someone else, they are now the master and commander of the story. I’m honored that they loved my work enough to focus it to fit their needs. I was flattered, not horrified. And I would do it all again! Many writers can be very guarded with their work, and desperate to maintain control over their words. I went through that as well when I first started publishing. But, a good editor (or director) will see a broader picture that I can’t see. I’ve learned to trust that process and allow it to happen. IT WAS A BLAST, TOO!

Madeline:What was the most surprising creative touch added by director, Jesús Quintero?

Travis:Well. He added a whole new character, which shocked me. The death_ncharacter’s name? Death! I know, right? DEATH is now a character in the play. I was so taken aback by the new character; it took me a while to process that. But, once I saw where Jesús was going with it, I was amazed. And then I was jealous. I dearly wish I’d thought of it myself! Death as a character in a story about the holocaust was a stroke of genius, and it worked incredibly well. I already know how I’m going to rewrite the play to have Death as a background character, who is able to influence the characters from near and far, and it would have never happened had Jesús not contributed that change. BRAVO to him!

Madeline:The director, Jesús Quintero placed deep meaning throughout the play using images, objects and music.  I found after seeing a second showing, that many of my questions were answered.  How did that experience “play” out for you?

Travis:Well, some of his meanings and imagery didn’t make sense to me at first and I had to sit and ask him, “What does this mean?” And when he explained to me, “This reflects humanity’s reluctance to stand up against evil”, or, “This is characteristic of human reaction to pain”, I was in awe. Really, there was much of the play I didn’t understand because I was preconditioned to see it from my own point of view. But, once I heard Jesús declare, “This is a dream, a nightmare really, and this is how a dream works” it all clicked for me.

Madeline:Was there anything that you found especially touching or moving about seeing your writing coming to life in this play?

Travis:What a profound experience. It was both exhilarating and humbling at the same time. And terrifying. I felt very exposed and vulnerable at first, but once I saw that people embraced the play, I was at peace. It was quite a ride!

Madeline:As part of an innovative approach to theatre, you were asked to write two endings and the audience participated by voting for which ending that they would like to see.  How did you determine which two endings that you would write?

Travis:The overall connecting theme is the sanctity of life. In the original play, Isaac is torn between doing what he is driven to do and what he knows would violate his conscience. Despite all of the death he has embraced in his life, he discovers that actually pulling the trigger is harder than he imagined. Jesús took that idea and expanded it so the audience would have a chance to experience that conflict on their own. He told me to “come up with an alternate ending.” So, I thought about it. What if the audience voted for justice rather than mercy? How would that look? Well, I concluded that when we, mortals, try to execute our own brand of justice, things can be overlooked. Important things. Such as consequences. So, I wrote each part of the alternate endings to have unique consequences.

Madeline:Did you secretly hope that the audience would choose one ending over the other?

Travis:I very selfishly wanted to see both endings. I was even flirting with the idea of forcing the vote (I was the emcee who tallied the votes during the play), but each night the audience votes were unpredictable. Over the course of five performances, they voted for mercy three times, and for justice twice. Both endings were quite startling, I must say.

Madeline:16 Hours has an overtly pro-life message.  How has the public reacted to this?

Travis:I understand that on our first weekend, we had a few people walk out, but we don’t know why. We deal with really dark material in the play, but it is with the purpose of declaring how precious life is. I was expecting a backlash for being so overtly pro-life, but the audience seemed to embrace it without hesitation.

Madeline:OK, let’s lighten up with lightening round.

Madeline:  Sunny or cloudy?  Travis: Cloudy

Madeline:  Hotel or camping?  Travis: Hotel. I really enjoy lounging.

Madeline:  Surf or Turf?  Travis: Turf

Madeline:  Novel or TV sitcom?  Travis: Depends on how cloudy it is.

Madeline:  Bacon or sausage?  Travis: BACON. Duh!

Madeline:Do you have other plays already written?

Travis:I have a stack on my desk. I have more than I could possibly hope to see produced!

Madeline:Would you enjoy having another play brought to production?

Travis:We will be producing more plays. Sadly, we can only do one a year with our current resources. But, I will continue my relationship with American Laboratory Theatre for many years.

Madeline: Travis, please tell the readers where they can find you.
Travis: http://www.traviswinman.com
http://traviswinman.blogspot.com
https://www.facebook.com/travis.w.inman
https://twitter.com/traviswinman

Madeline:Travis, thank you for joining us again and sharing your journey with the readers.

Travis:I absolutely love the work you do, and I think it has helped heal and motivate many more people than we could ever imagine. Being allowed to participate in that process is an honor for me, and I humbly thank you for considering me.

Please be sure to check out Travis’ other works on Amazon.com.  He has two excellent choices for you.   For a sweet love story, read When Love Called and for a gripping tale, read Shadows – One Choice a Future Makes.

Ripe for the Pickin’

It’s an epidemic – marital infidelity.  Studies show that as many as 65 percent of men and 55 percent of women will have an extramarital affair.  These are alarming statistics.  Why do so many people betray their spouse?  Obviously, the spouse who had the affair was not forced into such a grievous sin but many times there is a background reason why this spouse was susceptible to begin with.  Something was missing from the marriage and they were weak.  Most people that become involved in an affair are malnourished in their marriage.  I’m not defending the offending spouse as a victim but I am hoping that by looking at the other side of affairs – we can do some preventative maintenance on these vulnerable marriages.  Prevention is so much better than attempting to pick up the pieces after an affair – don’t you think?

 

Many especially in the Church believe that affairs can be prevented by simply keeping your spouse away from members of the opposite sex.  This is unrealistic and doesn’t deal with the root cause of affairs which is usually a starving spouse.  Your spouse will always be exposed to other people through work, ministry, friendships and even in-laws.  Some of them will be of the opposite sex and many of them will be more gifted, talented, attractive, successful or interesting than you.  This may bring out insecure feelings in you.  The other person is not the issue – the reason for your insecurities is the issue.  Take an honest look at yourself.  Are you actively working on your marriage or have you left it open to attack?

 

If your spouse is vulnerable – you probably already know it.  Are you ignoring your spouse by investing all of your energies into work or the children?  Have you stopped taking care of your physical appearance?  Do you neglect your health and therefore are unable to be active and fun?  Do you not share in the emotional and physical burdens of your life together?  Do you not encourage your spouse and their efforts?  Do you treat your spouse unkindly?  Are you spoiled, demanding and difficult?  Do you attempt to manipulate and control your spouse?  Do you manipulate using passive aggressive methods?  Are you emotionally unavailable?  Are you sexually unavailable?  Are you unsupportive of your spouse’s parenting and their desires for your children?

 

If you are the spouse that has been left vulnerable, have you given up?  Maybe you have been honest and have discussed your unmet needs all along but they just don’t seem to listen and take action.  Please, I’m begging you – don’t give up.  Level with your spouse and tell them that you are ripe for the pickin’.  Communicate this in a non-threatening way by stressing that you are committed to the marriage but that you are in desperate need of nourishment from them.  Get counseling even if your spouse won’t go with you.  Acknowledge your own vulnerability and be on guard.  Accept that you will not be able to change your spouse but that you can make a commitment to always remain faithful – no matter what.  You may be deeply unhappy in your marriage right now but having an affair will only add more unhappiness to your life and to all involved.  Try focusing your thoughts and energies on serving your spouse – it is very possible that they will respond by serving you.

 

If you have become accustom to chasing people away or forcing your spouse to choose between others and you, it is essential that you understand that this isn’t a solution and that you are misusing your energies.  There will always be new people to chase away – instead pour those energies into your marriage.  If you are feeding your spouse and your spouse has taken steps to reassure you, relax because your spouse having other people in their life is not a negative mark against you.   When we hold on too tight, we suffocate our relationships.  Your spouse having other people in their life does not mean that they don’t love or value you or that they will betray you.  It simply means that they have a need for connections with other people.  Some people are more social than others and need meaningful relationships with others outside of their immediate family.

 

My hope is that you will begin to take steps in the right direction to protect your marriage.  Feed your husband or wife and be free of your insecurities.  Be free to enjoy your spouse and let them enjoy you and the rest of their life too.

You’re His Wife Not His Mommy

Nine years ago today, my husband experienced a life threatening health crisis.  As he began to recover in the hospital, his physician pulled me aside and told me “I want this guy skinny and as close to vegetarian as possible”.  Ok, doc, so basically you saved his life so that you could slowly kill both of us?  You see, my husband is a proud carnivore and becomes quite difficult to be around when he doesn’t get his regular dose of meat.

 

Once released from the hospital, the real crisis began.  My mother who came to help with the kids actually flew back home early because the tension in our home was so great.  I now believed that I had three children to take care of instead of two.  I began to systematically remove every crumb of foodie pleasure from my husband’s diet and replace it with the food recommended by the physician and hospital nutritionist.  My husband grew angry and bitter.  His sulking was peace shattering.  Tensions grew as we stayed on this health journey for some time.

 

Something changed suddenly.  God used my exhaustion to wake me up and recognize that my attempts to be helpful were hurting all involved.  I made a choice to just stop running his foodie life.  The most amazing things happened.  The tension in our home lifted as he began making choices for himself and at first he went a little crazy with food but after his first revealing blood test, he began to moderate himself.  He is now accountable for his choices and I don’t worry.

 

In looking back on this, I can now see that my motivation was fear.  Once I began to let go of my fear and stop treating him like a little boy, he no longer felt the need to push back.  He didn’t need me to be his mommy.  He needed his wife, friend and lover.

 

For some, the crisis comes in the form of a massive heart attack and for other people it is a diagnosis of cancer or organs that are failing.  As humans, we launch into fear mode and that often manifests outwardly in controlling behavior.  Men need to be men.  They need to make their own decisions and live their own consequences, even if that means a shorter lifespan.  Relax and ease off of these wonderful testosterone driven creatures.  However many days that God gives you together, it will be sweeter for both of you.

My Worship is So Ordinary

Tomorrow morning at church, I would like you to try something.  When the worship leader takes the stage and asks you to stand and worship the Lord, I want you to let out your loudest whine or growl if that is more like your style.  Then begin to mumble and complain under your breath “I’m so sick and tired of doing this” or better yet get the person standing next to you involved.  I know, this is completely outrageous but most of us do this every single day as we do life.  You see, we are to be standing up in worship of the Lord in everything that we do – even the ordinary.

 

The Bible is clear.  Colossians 3:17 whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus.  Colossians 3:23 whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.  Ephesians 6:7 serve with good as to the Lord and not to man.  Let’s us look at ways that we can worship our Lord during the moments of our ordinary day.

 

>A husband that daily goes to work sometimes in a difficult environment to provide for his wife and children.

>A spouse that chooses to be kind and overlooking when their spouse is difficult.

>A wife who without end, cooks, cleans and launders for her family.

>A mother who cares for the endless needs of the sick members of her family.

>A spouse who gives themselves and serves their spouse with a gratifying sex life.

>A child willingly serving in their family.

>Patiently listening to an aging parent who is experiencing the frustrations of getting older.

>Cheerfully welcoming the interruption that comes in the form of a friend or neighbor needing assistance.

 

Worship can be done in everything from washing the same frying pan for the third time today to serving your spouse with a fulfilling sex life.  Each breath that we take is a gift from God and everything in our life is an opportunity to worship the Lord.   When we have worshipping hearts, ordinary becomes extraordinary.

The Devotion of My Heart

Have you ever felt judged by another Christian regarding your spiritual disciplines?  More importantly, have you ever been guilty of judging another brother or sister for the way that they do devotions or prayer?

 

For many years, I have been a late riser.  For many years, I have felt ashamed of this.  Throughout my years as a Christian, many well-meaning brothers and sisters in Christ have told me that I should be up early with the Lord.  This is how they did it and they believed that this is the only way to have a fulfilling time with the Lord.  Some implied that my methods of spiritual discipline were ineffective.  I have to confess to you that this has been a struggle for me in a few different ways.  First, it caused division between me and another Christian.  Second, it caused me to question in an unhealthy way, my own relationship with the Lord and third, it caused me to believe that I must not be as spiritually mature as these other believers.  I have done a devo, scripture reading and prayer sometime in the morning and I converse with my Lord throughout the day but somehow I have struggled with believing that this was a correct method.

 

Recently, my life became very chaotic.  My quiet time alone with the Lord really suffered.  I began to realize that something needed to change and it needed urgent attention.  Remembering that others believe that the early morning pre-sunrise method is best, I made a decision that I would begin rising early before the rest of my family.  Surely this was the answer.  Blurry eyed and exhausted, I began to pray and read.  My mind drifted easily.  As the days of my new early morning discipline wore on, I began to see dark circles appear under my eyes.  The normal green color of my eyes turned to a dull gray and I started feeling flu-ish.  I stuck with it though because like they say – 21 days a habit makes.  I was enjoying the quiet in the morning and I was starting to get a lot out of my reading but physically I was feeling horrible.  Confession – I forgot to set my alarm last night and yes, you guessed it – I woke up at my old normal time.  I looked in the mirror and I looked like myself again.  I hopped down the stairs, bright eyed and bushy tailed – ready for my day.  Now I ask – which woman is more useful for the Lord?

 

Why do I share this?  Simply put, we must stop imposing our own standards onto other people.  We must only judge using biblical standards.  Anything else is enslaving legalism.  When we wrongly judge, we can be responsible for stunting the growth in another.  I was talking to a brother about my attempt at early morning devos.  His response was shaking his head and saying “nooooo, I can’t do that!  I do mine at night before I go to bed”.  Thanks for that – it helped me to come to my conclusions.  I am by no means a new believer.  In fact, I have been a Christian for way more than half of my life.  My story proves that damage can still be done to a mature believer so I am begging all of us to consider these things before we heap our opinions onto other people.

 

What do you think?  Does the time of day determine the effectiveness, sincerity or the devotion of our hearts?  I hope that this post offers hope and encouragement to you.  I would love to hear your thoughts.

His Famous Last Words

“Let’s just get up and have a relaxing morning.  We’ll be on the road by 9 a.m. or so.  That’ll get us there in plenty of time.”

 

Our family was taking a short trip over to Seattle for a little bit of fun together.  No real deadlines on this trip – no airline flights to catch.  It seemed like it was going to be a fun mini-vacation especially when my husband was so relaxed about not needing to get on the road at some insane hour like we usually do.  This was going to be great!  I would have my normal morning routine highlighted by my fantastic cup of coffee from my Jura Capresso espresso machine.  You know – the coffee with the delicious crema on top.  So sorry, I digress – this happens easily to me when I begin to think about my first cup of coffee.

 

Everything was going great.  Even with two teens, we were on our way at 9:05 a.m.  We ventured down the hill of our bumpy country road in our almost new sedan and out onto the highway we went.  It was raining heavily – not uncommon for late winter in this area of the country.  Suddenly our relaxing morning took a turn toward the competitive.  My husband sped up to get right behind the truck which was now blinding us with a torrential flow of residual rainwater.  We must get close to the truck because we must pass him.  Pass him we did – phew, that was exciting but we’re still alive.

 

Now, please understand that we live in the country and we have a two–lane highway and one traffic signal in our town.  A trip like this one presents a plethora of opportunities to a man.  We continued on down our two-lane highway and approached the interstate.  Now, there is a rule book:  Rule #1 – never and I repeat never be behind a semi-truck.  This meant that we could not be behind the semi-truck that was getting ready to enter the interstate.  This meant that we must pull up to the light and stomp on it to get in front of him.  That is what it meant and that is what happened.  The bonus was the awesome sound that came from our studded tires.

 

What is the point of this post?  I’ve been married for 33 years and we’ve had plenty of arguments in the car over his driving but not once did me getting angry or frustrated change anything except maybe the tension level inside of the vehicle.  Do I like it when he does things that I or the children might deem as chancy?  No, but his response of “I’m driving” says it all.  Alas, another opportunity to trust God.  This is one more area where a man is very different than a woman.  Can I accept him here as well as the other areas or do I try to impose my will on him and violate the principals of biblical femininity?

It was unanimous in the back seat.  “Mom, you have to write a blog post about this.”  I’m a pretty good mom, so that is exactly what I did.  My husband is a pretty good sport and he chuckled.

Motherhood – It’s a Series of Growth Spurts

It has happened.  That day that I swore I would never be able to handle.  She turned 18.  My first-born is an adult.  All of those years ago, they handed her to me and I vividly remember telling her that I would never let her go.  I would never let her ride in someone else’s car or go to summer camp.  I couldn’t imagine myself having the courage or the faith to let this human being be dependent on another – not even dependent on God over me.

 

I am so thankful that God didn’t leave me there as the younger woman in that birthing room.  He has faithfully held my hand and prepared me to let go little by little during each stage of growth and maturity.  He has given me growth spurts and yes sometimes they do hurt.  I have lived my season as a mother, striving to not have regrets.  Do I believe that I always get it all right as a mother?  No, but I do think that I did some things right.  When asked, both of my teenagers have told me that my parenting was ruled by grace and not by justice.  There is a balance though and I thought that I would like to share some of the highlights with you.

 

I was a little older when my first was born – 34 to be exact.  One of the ideas that drove my mothering style was that I never wanted to have a child run home.  For this reason, I worked to get my children into their own crib as soon as possible and then sleeping through the night.  I disciplined myself to wake them up each morning at the same time, put them down for naps (always at home) at the same time and they had a regular bedtime routine and bedtime.  They had regular meal times as well.  I minimized dragging them around to do errands.  Now, on the surface, this may look like a child run home to you but a schedule benefited our family in many ways.  My husband and I did not have cranky children when we did have them out in public and therefore enjoyed our time together.  We regularly received positive comments in public on our children’s behavior.  We still do by the way.  Probably, most beneficial has been the alone time that this schedule granted to our marriage which helped us weather the storms.  This “littles” schedule laid the groundwork for two self-disciplined high achieving young adults.

 

Another area that I believe that I got it right was in keeping my younger children off of the intense fantasy movies, books and video games.  Believe me, we have been criticized and mocked.  My personal conviction was to limit their exposure until they had the maturity in their minds to handle it and understand that this is not reality.  Now they are free to watch, read and play these and enjoy them but they don’t have nightmares and they understand the difference between fantasy and reality.

 

Finally and this is the most difficult and important.  Follow through with discipline.  Don’t issue threats without the intentions or backbone to follow through.  Yes, it does hurt us more than it hurts them but if you don’t follow through now, you and your child will pay the price later and it will be monumental.

 

This post would not be complete without my confessions of where I believe that I got it wrong.  First, I didn’t always make feeding my soul a priority.  Many days, I chose to or was forced to jump right in on my day and I neglected my spiritual hunger.  Second, I went years without eating right, exercising and sleeping enough.  Thirdly, I did not “stop to smell the roses” enough.  Live life while you are raising children.  Enjoy them and all of the other people and aspects of your life.

 

Motherhood can sometimes feel like you’re on a hamster wheel but we really do have control.  It is a season and you and your children do not have to accomplish everything at the same time.  Cut back and slow down and enjoy these wonderful human beings because that 18th birthday comes awfully fast.