Not Only One Day to Remember

Many Americans are off from work today.  Their employer might have even let them off of work early on Friday to start the holiday weekend.  The stores post their ads with items tailored for the day – chips, burgers and watermelon.  The shoppers jam the stores all weekend purchasing all of the needed items for their fun time on Monday – a barbecue with friends and family.

 

Is it a fun holiday for those who have paid the highest price to preserve our freedoms?  What about for their loved ones who wake up every day and grieve and miss the one that they lost?  Many parents, spouses and children who have lost a loved one while serving in our military feel that they and their loved one have been forgotten.

 

This post is not meant to heap guilt onto you.  They died for the freedom that you have to enjoy all of the things that are available in our wonderful, capitalistic society.  So enjoy but please be mindful to honor their memory and acknowledge the loss that their loved ones are experiencing.

 

Remember them on this Memorial Day, and every day, by honoring them and the sacrifices that have been made.

 

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Image courtesy of Gualberto107 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

 

 

 

 

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Rolling Waves

One overwhelming thought runs through my mind.  “God, I feel like you are asking too much of me – I am not strong enough.”

 

As I sat in church this morning, I was definitely encouraged to hear that King David remained faithful throughout various trials and storms that must have seemed never ending.  The preacher pointed out that although many of us are experiencing difficult times, our difficulties probably don’t compare to what David went through in his lifetime.  I should be encouraged by that – if David experienced great sorrow and remained faithful then I can as well.  After all, we do serve the same God.

 

I truly wish that it felt that easy.   For months now, the rolling waves of hurt, rejection and grief keep crashing in.  They knock me under and I struggle to gasp for a breath of air in between each piece of heartbreaking news that comes.  Is this the abundant life?

 

Jesus didn’t promise us ease did He?  Actually, He laid it out pretty clearly.  If we follow Him, we will experience sorrow.  If you love others, life does get messy and you will get hurt and your motives could be wrongly judged and you might be unfairly treated.   If you strive to raise your children to be excellent for Christ, you are counter-cultural and you will receive opposition.  If you are serving God, the enemy wants to destroy you.  So what then?

 

Well, simply put – when you’re not feeling the resurrection power of Christ in your life, you must tell yourself truths – continually.  God will never leave me or forsake me.  God has a plan for me for a future with hope.  God fully understands my sorrow and grief.  God never stops loving me even when I blow it.  God’s power is made known through my sufferings.  God has a never ending supply of grace for me.

 

I know many of you that read this post today are hurting.  Some of you are being crushed and suffocated under an elephant weight burden.  There is hope and yes in writing this, I am self-talking too.  If you haven’t yet put your trust in Jesus’ sacrificial payment of your sins – you need to start there because outside of Jesus, there is no hope.  If you have already placed your trust in Jesus’ work on the cross, lay these sorrows at His feet.  Take a deep breath and tell yourself all about who God is and that He never changes.

 

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.  Jeremiah 29:11

 

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Is it a Gift or a Curse?

For years I felt bad about some of my personality traits – really bad.  People around me criticized the fact that I felt too deeply, thought too much and was overly sensitive.  I grew to be ashamed of these aspects of my personality.

 

I tried everything.  I tried to not let myself care about others.  I tried to not let people in.  I tried to not think too deeply and I tried to ignore the needs and hurts that were all around me.  None of this worked – I began to stop having joy and my smile left me.  People began to ask me questions like “are you alright?” or make statements like “you don’t look like a happy woman”.   Then through a series of circumstance changes in my life, God began to show me that I was allowing others to put a lid on my gifts and I was quenching the Holy Spirit’s work in my life.  These people really didn’t mean harm – well, most of them didn’t.  They just didn’t and still don’t understand that these are gifts not curses because it is so different from anything that they feel or experience.

 

Now, I freely give my gifts.  Do I get hurt?  Yes, absolutely!  Do others judge my motives?  Probably.  Is this a lonely place?  Yes, it is.  Just a few nights ago, I was on a bike ride with someone who is very significant in my life.  I was sharing a burden that I’m feeling for another family and they explained that they just don’t understand or relate to that kind of compassion.   They don’t view this as a positive thing but I am learning that if Jesus is pleased with the way that I love and give of myself then what others think really just doesn’t matter.  It really is that simple.

 

Have I ever turned these gifts into a curse?  Oh yes, most certainly I have.  These very same gifts can lead me to become overly self-focused and to get my feelings hurt too easily.  They can also lead me to the temptation of being resentful when others don’t reciprocate.  The point is, beware because as human beings we are sinful by nature.  We have the tendency to turn good to evil.

 

There is good news though.  Jesus died so that your sins can be placed on Him.   The book of Romans tells us that there is now no condemnation for those that have put their trust in Jesus’ payment of their sins.  If you haven’t already, go to Jesus’ cross and let him put your sins on His account and then use what He gives you to glorify Him.

 

James 1:17 Every good and perfect gift is from God above.

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Newlyweds

We’re here – wedding season.  Every time I watch newlyweds I think of that song by The Beach Boys “Wouldn’t It Be Nice”.  You know the one – Wouldn’t it be nice if we could wake up, in the morning when the day is new, and after having spent the day together, hold each other close the whole night through.  Is it stuck in your head?  Good – me too.

 

There are a few things that newlyweds can learn so that they can ride that perfect wave together for many years to come.

 

>Learn to cook and find out which dishes he likes and dislikes.  Don’t take it personally when he isn’t crazy about a certain dish.  Keep challenging yourself to add new dishes to your repertoire.

>Find out what little act of service she likes and do it.  Some ideas:  bring her a cup of coffee in bed, a foot rub, have her go sit down while you clean up the kitchen after dinner.

>Learn how to keep your home reasonably orderly and decently clean.

>Realize that he married you thinking that he was going to have a lot of sex.  He is not a sex crazed weirdo.  He is a man and men need a lot of really good sex with their wife.  Also, they are preoccupied with certain body parts.  Don’t worry, it is normal.

>Listen – really listen to your wife.  Just listen without attempting to solve her problems.

>Cuddle with your wife expecting nothing in return.

>Don’t treat her like your buddy.  She needs to be treated like the delicate woman that she is.

>Take your time to make love to her entire body.  Find out what gives her pleasure.

>Stop acting like a free agent dude.  You are a partner now.

>Remember to communicate information to her and then keep talking to her about the deeper stuff.

>Last but probably most important, leave and cleave – leave mama and daddy behind and do not let them attempt to have input into your marriage.  Your allegiance is now to your spouse.  This is a common cause of marital discord and if you don’t set ground rules early on, I boldly tell you that it will cause bitterness and eventually split your marriage.  Was that direct enough for you?

 

Build your life together.  Nourish each other every day with respect, encouragement and love.  Set boundaries with parents and other extended family – they are not part of your marriage.  Akaw!  (A surfer term for a huge perfect wave – I’m attempting to continue my Beach Boys theme).  I wish you sweet newlywed bliss.

We Became One

Are you a man that has married a woman or a woman who has married a man?  God says that you are now one.  This is weird isn’t it?  We don’t physically become one person but we do become one in a spiritual sense.

 

This doesn’t come easy or natural to us does it?  As human beings we all think and behave differently.  After all, we are created individuals with different personalities, strengths, weaknesses and upbringings.  Then how can we possibly become one?   This comes down to a very simple but not easy concept.  Will we each behave selflessly, putting the other first?  Will we put our selfish desires aside and row in the same direction as our spouse?  Simply put, we must die to self?

 

In most marriages, there is a dominant spouse and a submissive spouse.  By nature, usually the dominant personality is a controller and the submissive personality is a peace lover.  When these traits are not kept in check, this can create an environment where one spouse constantly comes out the winner, so to speak.   Over time, as the controlling behavior is reinforced, the controlling spouse becomes more powerful.  Let’s look at this.

 

A controlling husband may abuse his leadership role by ignoring the counsel of his wife.  He believes that as the leader, he possesses more knowledge and wisdom and after all, he does have the final say.  She will have to trust that God will deal with it and at the same time, protect her and the children.  A wife may exploit her husband’s guilt from a previous mistake or indiscretion and use it to control him.  If he has repented, he will need to come to a place where he no longer allows himself to live under this condemnation.  There are many other scenarios but if you are in this type of marriage, you are well aware of that.

 

At this point, I would like to speak directly to the controlling spouse.  Have you ever planted an idea into the mind of your spouse and then carefully watered it with manipulation until it sprouted and it grew to be their idea?  Have you ever pressured your spouse into doing something that they didn’t want to do?  Have you ever forced your spouse to make a decision even though they weren’t ready?  Have you ever ignored the concern, worry or unhappiness of your spouse because you were so elated that you were getting your own way?  Have you ever pouted or acted depressed to motivate your spouse to do anything to make you happy again?  Now, go back in your mind – how did it turn out?

 

I know that in my own marriage, when one of us coerced or manipulated, things did not turn out well for us.  Now, after 33 years of marriage, we are finally learning that if we are not in agreement as a couple – do not proceed.  If you find that you want something too much – die to self.  Proceeding even though the red flag of disagreement is up, will most likely produce difficult circumstances up ahead.  I’m not saying that any of this is easy but I would like to encourage you that there is great peace and blessing when you learn to not take things into your own hands.  There is harmony when we are not controlling our spouse.

 

James 4:2-3 You want what you don’t have, so you scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous of what others have, but you can’t get it, so you fight and wage war to take it away from them. Yet you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it.  And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong—you want only what will give you pleasure.

 1 Corinthians 13 Love does not demand its own way.

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Tim Hawkins – Interview With a Creative Genius

This ordinary woman has again been blessed with an extraordinary opportunity.  I have the pleasure of interviewing one of my favorite people in the world – Tim Hawkins.  He is a creative genius – making wonderful things out of nothing with his original music, clever musical parodies, relatable jokes, hilarious impersonations and now he’s an author with the recent release of his first book entitled Diary of a Jackwagon. Still, with all of Tim’s success, he 20160313_191449 (2)exudes a humility and genuineness that is rare in the entertainment industry.  This humility and genuineness makes him powerfully credible as he slows down his show for a few moments and effectively shares the message of abundant life, joy, freedom and hope that comes through Jesus Christ and the victory that we can have through placing our trust in His completed work on the cross and His powerful resurrection.  Tim calls his fans Jackwagons and they absolutely adore him for it.  If for some reason, that I personally cannot fathom, you are unaware of who Tim Hawkins is, buckle up because you are about to find out and go on a truly joyful ride.

 

Now let’s meet the man behind the incredibly funny comedian and masterful musician –

 

Madeline:  Welcome Tim. Your comedy career requires that you be on the road touring most weekends out of the year.  What are a few of the practical things that you do in order to capitalize on your time at home with your family during the week?

Tim:  I’ve become a lot better about balancing my time. When I’m on the road, I’m on the road. When home, I’m home. I don’t write as much at home anymore. I focus on the act more when I’m on the road. I had a couple months off recently and I was encouraged that I wasn’t anxious about getting back out on the road. Some comics don’t take care of themselves that way. You have to let the cup be empty so you can fill it back up again.

 

Madeline:  You and your wife, Heather, will be celebrating 23 years of marriage soon – congratulations!  What, in your opinion, has been the secret to successfully navigating the ups and downs of marriage?

Tim:  Love isn’t a feeling. It’s a choice. It’s also not a competition. It’s a place you have to allow yourself to be vulnerable. That’s not easy, because when you’re vulnerable it exposes the weaknesses of your character. Love is about allowing someone in and trusting them with the most needy parts of yourself. We choose to love one another, and it’s much easier when you really like the other person.

 

Madeline:  Would you agree that marriages are under attack both inside and outside of the Church?  What would you like to say to the reader that is struggling in their marriage or even considering divorce?

Tim:  Absolutely. I believe (from my own experience) that most relationships suffer because of pride, self-importance and envy. We have these feelings like we’re not getting all out of life that we deserve. The 80’s wasn’t the “me” decade. Every decade is the “me” decade. Because that’s what people do. They think happiness comes from getting things for themselves. Not just material, but social and psychological and spiritual things. Jesus said to gain life you have to lose it. You want happiness in this life? Then die. Die to yourself. Better yet, commit yourself to others. In marriage, commit to die for the other person. What better love is this than to lay down your life for someone?

 

Madeline:  As the father of your 4 children, what do you want to instill in each of your children, before they leave the provision of your home?

Tim:  I want to instill in them confidence and peace and love and generosity and hard work and no whining and honor. And whatever it takes for them to be able to afford one of those nice motorized scooters for me when I get older.

 

Madeline:  Assuming that you and the other men that tour with you face daily temptations and struggles, what methods do you use to help each other and hold each other accountable?

Tim:  I have a great friend who I can tell anything to. Isolation is what will kill you on the road. If you have someone you can include in your life, share your battles with, that takes a lot of power away from the enemy. It doesn’t mean the temptations go away, but it does mean you have a great weapon against it when it rears its ugly head. There’s a reason Jesus sent his disciples out in twos. Also there’s some great accountability software out there that works wonderfully.

 

Madeline:  Which personality trait or quirk inherited from one of your parents, surprised or alarmed you the most?

Tim:  I obsess about car keys. If I don’t know where they are at all times, I can’t function. Like my dad.

 

OK, lightening round:

Madeline:  New gadget or time spent?  Tim: Angry Birds 2

Madeline:  Soda pop or sweet tea?  Tim: Neither, sugar is the devil.

Madeline:  Football or hockey?  Tim: Footkey

Madeline:  French fries or onion rings?  Tim: Yes please.

Madeline:  Spiders.  Relocated or squished?  Tim: Squished – then relocated.

Madeline:  Chocolate.  Milk or dark?  Tim: Dark as night – with almond butter.

 

Madeline:  Tim, what’s something funny about yourself that we don’t already know?

Tim:  Diana Ross makes me cry.

 

Snapshot_47 (2)Madeline:  Road travel can really take a toll on our well-being.  How do you manage to stay fit and strong?

Tim:  I’ve been eating the Whole30 lifestyle. It’s similar to paleo eating. I also stopped eating breakfast. I have more energy that way. Also I try to work out every day. I’ll take a kettle bell and some TRX bands when there’s not a gym available. I’ve learned that most of staying healthy is what I’m eating.

 

Madeline:  What’s your least favorite aspect of touring?

Tim:  I don’t like it that Heather has to deal with the day to day a lot by herself. Sure, I’m just a phone call away, but there’s something about being physically present as a father that makes a difference. I don’t have a lot of great wisdom to give to my children. I don’t think that’s my main job. My main job is to be present. I feel closer to them when I’m literally closer to them.

 

Madeline:  Tim, please tell the readers where they can follow you.

Tim:       Twitter – @timhawkinscomic

Facebook – Tim Hawkins

Instagram – timhawkinscomic

Also, Highway 70 usually

 

Thank you so much for spending time with us Tim.  This has been a real treat for me and the readers.  Special thanks to Tim’s incredible Road Manager, Chris “Freight” Mabrey for coordinating this interview.

 

So there you have it – Tim Hawkins.  Are you still wondering why 20150530_220041_pp2Tim is someone that I greatly admire or do you now understand?  Many refer to him as “funny man” but he is so much more to me.  Truth be told, God used Tim Hawkins and his very unique set of gifts to restore my joy after one of the darkest periods in my life.  God created laughter.  Thank you Tim, for delivering it to me and to so many others!  Proverbs 17:22 says a joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.

 

Please check out Tim’s website timhawkins.net where you will find fantastic Timhawkinspoddybreakmerchandise including his hilarious collection of DVDs, touring schedule and tickets to shows and the link to his new free podcast entitled Poddy Break.  Go to diaryofajackwagon.com for Tim’s debut book.

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A Letter From a Reader – Thirty Second Slice of Heaven

The following scenario entitled Thirty Second Slice of Heaven was submitted by a reader.  It shines a light onto a difficulty that can exist in marriage – sexual dysfunction.  Sexual dysfunction can manifest itself in many different forms and it has the potential to dissolve the glue that binds husband and wife therefore stealing the joy and closeness that should exist in marriage.  Since Madeline Eatenton’s mission is to strengthen marriages, let’s talk about it.

 

Your boss called and woke you up from a dead sleep. A work emergency! You have to get up two hours early and get started on an urgent deadline. It’s going to be a long day. In fact, you will have to work straight through lunch. You could use a cup of coffee, and you cringe when offered a cup by a co-worker. You have a hang-up about using artificial stimulants, which stems from something that you were told when you were young. No matter how much you desire to enjoy coffee, you just aren’t comfortable doing it. So, you swallow hard and decline. Five o’clock comes and goes, and you are still working hard to meet that deadline. Finally, at eight o’clock you press the send button. Your boss smiles and pats you on the back. “Job well done – you deserve a reward!” Your head aches from your low blood sugar and you are weary to the point that your bones ache too. You have just enough time to stop at the local pizza joint for a well-earned and highly desired treat. You order your pizza and sit at the table, waiting for that precious treat. You can smell it, causing your mind to spin with desire. You sip your lemon water, anticipation lifting you to a much better mood. The pizza comes out of the oven and is sliced. The waiter then shows you the pie, and removes a solitary pepperoni, places it on your plate and smiles warmly, “bon appetit.” You eat your single slice of pepperoni and silently begin to crumble. This is all you get. The whole pizza is staring at you from a sizzling hot pan, but all you get is enough to whet your appetite for more. Talk about disappointment.  So, let’s cut to the chase. You’re a man who has a 30 second fuse when it comes to making love to your wife. You are super attracted to her but you can only last 30 seconds before you arrive. Your wife is hungry. Moreover, she is disappointed, disillusioned, and dejected. What should a man like this do?

 

This story describes the most common sexual dysfunction that men deal with but there are others and woman deal with their own areas of dysfunction too.  Sexuality can be affected by our emotional, physical and spiritual health.  Depression, trauma, hormonal imbalances, medications or guilt can kill the libido.  Dysfunction in other areas of the marital relationship can prevent a spouse from desiring intimacy.  Maybe as a woman, you have never enjoyed sex because you haven’t discovered what feels good to you.  There is hope.

 

Open up the lines of communication between the two of you and talk about what is happening or not happening.  The two of you may be able to solve the problem together or you may need to consult with a professional.  Either way, your marriage is worth any embarrassment that you may feel.   Start by getting this out in the open between the two of you and search for answers.  There are many books and articles written and there are trained professionals available.  Speak to your physician – they are trained and if they don’t have the answers, seek a physician that can direct you to the help that you need.

 

God designed us to enjoy our sexuality within the confines of a faithful marriage between one man and one woman.  If you are not enjoying this aspect of your marriage, I’m telling you that you can.  Don’t avoid the issue – it probably will not go away on its own and don’t avoid sex together as an attempt to avoid failure.  As a couple, you can work together with the goal being a mutual satisfying sex life.  There is hope – together you can find the solutions.  When this aspect of your marriage is whole, all other aspects will be so much better.

Nurturer of Mankind

God made you.  He made you unique and wonderful.  You can do things better than anyone else.  You have that special crook in your arm and special nooks and crannies in your heart.  You make it better with a kiss or a word.  You rock Daddy’s world.  God made you to nurture His creation.  God is the master nurturer and you are His hands on this earth.

 

Who are you?  You are a Mother.

 

You would give up everything that you ever wanted or desired if it was better for us.  Often, you have put yourself last.  You protect us and defend us from the hurts that come from others.  Each step of the way, you prepare me to eventually leave your nest.  You fight fear every moment of every day as you watch me grow and venture out into the world.  You pushed me out of the nest even though you didn’t want to.  You have faith that moves mountains.  You never stop hoping and praying for me.  You cry tears behind closed doors because I broke your heart.  You see things in me that I can’t even see in myself.  You are my biggest cheerleader and my most trusted confidant.  I cannot do anything to make you stop loving me.  You never give up on me.  I remember your skin – the softest that I have ever felt.  I remember your flirty smile – the loveliest smile that I have ever seen.  You are the most influential person that will ever touch my life.

 

I know that you worry that you are messing things up and I know that you think that I will only remember the times that you were harsh but I think that you are magical and I remember that you loved me, were gentle and patient with me and that you always did your very best for me.  You are the most perfect mother for me.

 

I sincerely wish a Happy Mother’s Day to all of you that have been called to the highest calling – Motherhood.

What Can We Be?

Women are powerful creatures.  We can be the wind beneath the wings of another woman or the most brutal destroyer.  What kind of woman are you and what kind of woman do you want to be?

 

Many years ago, probably close to twenty, I read a tiny little book that packed a huge punch entitled Balcony People by Joyce Landorf  Heatherley.  The main idea is that we have balcony people (people who encourage others) and we have basement people (people who tear others down).  Like all good books should – this book really caused me to look at myself and consider which person did I most resemble and was that acceptable to my Lord?  I am not claiming to have arrived at balcony status but I am striving to live this way.  I regularly catch myself in the basement and I really don’t like her so I repent and climb back up those stairs.

 

So, which woman are you?  It is important to note that if you are a balcony person to someone’s face but basement person behind their back, you have a heart issue that you must deal with.  Think about it – how do you talk about others when you are with your husband or other people that are in your close circle?  Do you enjoy finding the chinks in the armor of another woman or are you able to see her good and emphasize it to yourself and others?  Are you compassionate toward that woman’s flaws and weaknesses or do you pick at her?  Do you pray for other women with pure motives?  Actually, these are three key areas that can bring about big changes in your heart.  Look for her good points, have compassion toward her flaws or weaknesses and pray for her – it is that simple.

 

There is another area that is essential in the development of a cheerleader attitude and heart of compassion toward other women.  When you spend time with women, you must spend the majority of your time with balcony types.  Seek out women who encourage others and love biblically.  Beware of the women that huddle up in the basement.  You must be fueled up with quality fuel by the women who lift you and others up.  You will want to strive to mimic their attitudes toward other women and pray earnestly for yourself that God will give you victory in this area.

 

If you have been the victim of a basement woman, please remember that her attitudes and words are a reflection of her heart and they really have nothing to do with you.  Most people that struggle with a poor self-image tend to tear others down to build themselves up.  Pray for her.  She needs to be delivered from the prison that she is living in.

 

Being a woman is a difficult assignment and every woman is in need of encouragement in some area of her life – even that woman that appears to have it all together.  Go out and be her biggest fan – be a cheerleader for other women.