Has 2016 been a difficult and challenging year?  I encourage you to take the quiet reflective time, to look back and realize everything that you have learned this year.  Now, put those lessons into action and have a rockin’ 2017.  I sincerely thank you for reading Madeline Eatenton this year and for all of the encouragement that you have sent my way.  Happy New Year!

My New Year’s Wish

God says “I have loved you with an everlasting love” – Jeremiah 31:3. Do we believe this?  Can our human minds really grasp the great depth of God’s love for us?

 

I’m fascinated that God uses the imagery of the sheep and the shepherd to paint a picture of our relationship with Him.  People are actually a lot like sheep.  Sheep are stubborn, unwise and sometimes stupid.  They don’t understand the dangers that surround them.  Some sheep are prone to wander.  If left to themselves, with no one to watch, they’d be destroyed by wolves or other predators.  They get themselves stuck in thorny situations and bleat until their shepherd comes to rescue them.  There is one really amazing thing about sheep – they respond only to the unique voice of their own shepherd.   Speaking of the shepherd – he watches his own sheep and he sleeps in the opening of the fold, keeping them in and the predators out.  When a sheep is prone to wander, the shepherd breaks its legs and carries the sheep around his neck, until it heals.  This sheep will now no longer wander away from the safety of their shepherd.

 

In John chapter 10, Jesus describes himself as the Good Shepherd.  If you have placed your trust in Him, you are one of His sheep.  He says that “I am His and He is mine”.  He knows His sheep and they know His voice.  If you are prone to wander, He might have to “break” your legs but He will faithfully carry you while you heal.  The Lord has broken my legs a few times.  Even though He does this, it is crucial to understand that you can never out-sin the cross of Jesus.  His love and forgiveness out-weighs any sin that you have committed or will ever commit.  His love and His sacrifice on the cross covers every sin throughout time.  His free gift is offered to every person.  You can be a really good person and you still need Him and you can be a really bad person and you need Him.  We all need the Savior.

 

Jesus fought the greatest spiritual battle of all time when He was crucified.  He made the costliest transaction in history.  He took on the punishment for all sins and He offers you salvation as a free gift.  Did you know that when someone accepts this gift, God then sees them under the cover of His Son – Holy and blameless?  This is amazing grace and it is for all kinds of people.  Whether a good person, a hurting person, an addicted person or a religious self-righteous person, I hope that you will come to Him, just as you are.  Come with the realization that you need Him and the salvation that only He can provide.  Jesus said “I am the way, the truth and the life.  No man comes to the Father except by Me” John 14:6.

 

We all follow some kind of shepherd – philosophy, religion, career, relationships, stuff or substances.  How about a new start this new year?  My New Year’s wish? – That you follow the Good Shepherd, the One who loves you with an everlasting love, and let Him give you eternal life and abundant life which empowers you to live a life full of hope, love, joy and peace even amidst the difficult circumstances that you face.

Santa’s Little Helper

Good news ladies!  The best Christmas present that you can give to your husband, is absolutely free.

 

He probably doesn’t want another tie and he most likely doesn’t need another tool or electronic device, but there is one thing that he can never get enough of – sexual enticement from his wife, leading to mind blowing sex with her.  No matter how long you’ve been married, you can climb onto his lap, look him in the eye as you confidently unbuckle his belt, and let him know that there is only one thing on your mind.  If it’s physically impossible for you to do this, I’m sure that you can use your feminine imagination and come up with something just as fun.

 

Here are some ideas for the perfect gift from Santa’s Little Helper:

 

>Look him in the eyes and say something a little naughty.

>Let him undress you.

>When the kids are out of sight and he’s sitting down relaxing, climb onto his lap and make out.

>Let him enjoy the view as you walk up the stairs in front of him.

>When you’re sitting next to him or even across the room, make sure that he can catch a glimpse of something – your shapely leg, pretty feet in sexy shoes or a little lace.

>Pay attention and take note of what seems to turn him on.   It might be as simple as letting him watch you lick honey off of a spoon.  Have fun teasing him a little with it.

 

Enticement with the promise of the real thing is like energizing juice and within the confines and commitment of marriage, it is a beautiful blessing.  Wouldn’t you love to hear “wow, sex just keeps getting better and better with you”?

I Think We’re Missing It

Yesterday after church, my son and I braved the inclement weather and the crowds, to get his Christmas shopping done. He’s 15 now and learning to drive. As he drove the 20 miles of snow covered highway, we talked about a smorgasbord of topics. I silently pondered “this is what Christmas is about – relationship”. You see, that morning at church, I had the opportunity to talk to several people. Many are suffering from feelings of depression, or the stress of everything that has to be accomplished this week. It got worse. Once I arrived at the mega store, I noticed empty eyes, frowns and scowls. I kept feeling as though we’re missing it. That morning at church, we sang beautiful songs about the Savior that came as a babe and for a brief moment, we became focused on relationship. We are His and He is mine – that relationship. The relationship where the King of kings left the glory of heaven to humble Himself and serve us by dying and paying for our sins. He paid the ultimate price so that we could be reconciled with God. The most important relationship that we will ever have.

I hope that you will press the pause button on your week and really consider this. It isn’t the gift, the perfect meal or decorations that will be remembered. They will remember the relationships that were built, strengthened and restored. With all of my heart and a smile on my face, I wish you and yours a very blessed Christmas and a new year filled with beautiful memories.

Thank you so much for reading and I love your feedback too!

Do You Love a Stuffer?

I live with and love three of them.  By stuffer, I mean a person that tends to suppress their emotions.  My stuffers sometimes frustrate me and make me feel helpless.  I’m a reasonably good listener and definitely make myself available but sometimes, they just don’t want to talk about it.  If you have a stuffer in your life, it is no accident.  They need you – really they do.  How do you minister to a stuffer?

 

>First, be prepared to spend time waiting.  A stuffer must know that you will wait as long as it takes.  They will release little puffs of information as they are ready.

>Second, you must be in full listening mode.  Don’t worry – you will have plenty of time between puffs to formulate your response.

>Third, you must not interrupt them once they are ready to talk.  They must be able to complete their thought all of the way through.

>Fourth, you must never respond with unhealthy criticism or judgment.  A stuffer will clam up if they sense this.  Before you speak, ask yourself whether or not it is helpful or even necessary.  Often, we verbalize what is our opinion and it should really be kept to ourselves.

>Fifth, once they have completely finished – ask open ended questions to encourage more dialogue which will also round out your understanding.  Don’t require them to answer.  It might be helping them to roll your question around in their mind.

>Sixth, you must be trustworthy.  Your stuffer must be confident that you will not tell others.

>Finally, you have to accept that they may never open up.  Sometimes, they can’t or won’t.  Just pray for them.

 

Stuffing down emotions and feelings can be an inherited trait but it can also be a learned behavior.  Some stuffers have learned to keep it inside because they have felt emotionally unsafe.  Other stuffers feel that it is a waste of time and energy to hash things out verbally.   They prefer to work things out in their head and then be done with it.  Either way, you can be a key to getting a stuffer to open up and realize the benefits of sharing their burdens and lightening up their load.  A problem can seem huge in our head and much smaller once we have shared it with a trusted person.

 

I’m a work in progress and I’m much better at this now but I definitely can improve.  Would you join me in putting these techniques into action and be the trusted person who is willing to wait as long as it takes?

Contentment in All Things

We didn’t allow a lot of television consumption in our home, but on my daughter’s first birthday, we went out and bought several episodes of VeggieTales.  My children grew up on those moral teaching, silly song singing vegetables.  Many times, I sat with them and enjoyed the clever ways that the creators brought their messages to life.  One episode has always been my favorite – Madame Blueberry, A Lesson in Thankfulness.

 

Although Madame Blueberry was struggling with discontentment in the area of “stuff”, the lesson taught me that discontentment is a toxin that can get into the bloodstream of our life and poison every aspect.  The writers of this episode boiled it down – the cure for discontentment is having a thankful heart.  Eighteen years later, I still remember this lesson and try to apply it regularly.  Today, we will address contentment in our marriages.   The apostle Paul teaches us some very important ideas that can be carried into our marriages.  He said that we can be content in all things and that we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us.  I would surmise that this includes being content in our marriage.  He taught us that God might not take away all difficult things but God’s grace is sufficient to get us through and that God’s power will be shown through this.  These principles can be utilized in our marriages to bring us greater happiness, peace and longevity.

 

There are marriages that survive and even thrive throughout all of the ups and downs.  Have you ever wondered why some marriages break apart and end in divorce while other marriages last until death do us part?  It isn’t because one marriage was easy and the other was hard.  One major reason is contentment – either a lack of contentment or a thankful heart.  A thankful heart chooses thankfulness – it chooses to focus on the good rather than the bad.  Whether you’ve been married for thirty years or one year, you are on a path together and you will have beautiful times and at other times, you may seriously question why you chose this person.  Remember, love is not a feeling but it is a choice.  When you are choosing to love in the way that God intended, you are living out the Gospel in your home and choosing to extend grace and mercy to each other.  This is a journey and any couple that makes it to the successful end, will tell you that it was not always easy but it was always worth it.  In every marriage, there is a daily opportunity to overlook each other’s weaknesses and flaws and deal lovingly with your spouse’s sin.  How in the world do we do this when our spouse is creating tension, angst or pain in our life?

 

We must realize and remind ourselves that we are imperfect too.  Each of us has the human condition – sin.  We have a tendency to look out for our own interests and we don’t like being wronged, inconvenienced, embarrassed or uncomfortable.  Also, we all have traits that even if they are not wrong, they still annoy the people that know us the best.  Once we realize this, overlooking our spouse’s faults becomes much easier.

 

I’m not suggesting that you never voice your concerns.  Some things do need to be voiced out of serious concern for the health of your marriage or even the mental, physical or spiritual health of your spouse or children.  How you go about voicing these concerns is crucial – check your motives.  You will never change your spouse and your love should never be conditional.  Only God and your spouse can do the actual work necessary for change.  So, once you have discussed your concerns, you must only very sparingly bring this up again.  For example, you may have concerns about the way that your spouse parents your children.  If it is not an issue of physical endangerment, emotional or spiritual abuse, you can voice concerns for your children’s sake but you cannot force change.  Your spouse may be abusing their body with food, alcohol or tobacco.  It is appropriate to express your concern for their long-term health and even your worry about losing them to an early death but once you have let them know how you are feeling, you have to let it go.  Policing them and harping on them will only drive them further into the abuse.  Another issue in marriage can be the lack of emotional support and encouragement.  Again, I think that it is important to help your spouse understand the deficiency and how it affects you but don’t bludgeon them.   An important part of being content in this area is being intentional about noticing the times that your spouse does support and encourage you.

 

There are areas where contentment is not appropriate.  First, if there is physical endangerment, being aware and vigilant is crucial, especially to protect children who cannot protect themselves.  If your spouse has abused or endangered you or the children, don’t justify this behavior.  Getting yourself and the children to safety is the first priority and then attempt to get your spouse the help that they need.  Second, you shouldn’t allow or enable controlling and manipulative behavior.  Instead, acknowledge it.  Once you’ve learned to recognize it, you cannot be controlled or manipulated unless you allow yourself to be.  Also, controlling and manipulative behavior has probably impaired your ability to trust your own judgement or decision making skills.  If this is you, seek wise counsel to help you make sense of the situation.  If enabled to continue, controlling and manipulative behavior will negatively impact the development your children.

 

If you remember only one thing from this post, remember that you are not responsible for changing your spouse – you are responsible for loving them.  Sometimes loving them means keeping your mouth shut.  Sometimes loving them means holding them accountable.  Sometimes loving them means not allowing them to control and manipulate you or the children.  Sometimes loving them means getting them to professional help.  Don’t exaggerate behavior that can be overlooked and don’t throw the safety net under someone who needs consequences.  May God richly bless you and your marriage with the peace of a thankful contented heart.

A Heart That Sings

Here we are again. That time of the year, when we are reminded to acknowledge our blessings, encouraged to be thankful and we celebrate the birth of our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.   A time where slowing down would be helpful to our ability to reflect, contemplate and enjoy.  Instead, many will get caught up in the self-imposed stress of serving the perfect meal, spread out on the perfect Pinterest worthy table.  The pressure will build for weeks, as the quest for finding the perfect gift, is a perceived race against the calendar.  Retailers will lure us in and tug at our hearts with their deals, their great ideas and they’ll sprinkle in some sappy sentiment.  A clear message is sent – show others that you value them by impressing them with this item.  Never mind that they don’t need it or even want it.  Resources are spent without thought of the consequences to come.  In about thirty days, reality and depression sets in.  Either having spent too much savings or deep in debt, the next months will be labored with digging out of the hole.

 

Is it the table setting, the meal or even the gift what we remember, or is it the feeling?  The feeling is what brings the joy and it comes from the human relationship.  It comes from knowing that someone cared enough for you to show that they love you.  This doesn’t have to come through spending money.  Thought, effort and time is what it takes to make people feel special and loved.  Demonstrating that we value other human beings can come in many forms.  I have compiled a brief list that offers ideas that will hopefully push you out of the norm.

>Visit and spend time with someone that enjoys your presence.

>Spend time catching up on the telephone.

> Reach into the life of someone who is lonely, home-bound or isolated.

>Write or speak sincere words of encouragement.

>If you’ve heard someone mention a trinket or an act of service that they would enjoy, provide it if you can.

>Cook something for someone that you know they’ll enjoy.

>Be generous with a smile or a kind word.

>Invite others to share a meal.

>Tell someone what they mean to you or what you admire about them.

I adore this season.   I love reflecting on what God has done for me during the past year. I love thinking about the people in my life, or the ones that are no longer in my life but live in my heart. I love the smell of a roasting turkey and baking pie. I love watching the twinkling lights. I do not like being manipulated into purchasing items and I do not like that some people are sad and lonely during this season.  A true gift is not about the money spent or just merely getting that person checked off of your list. A gift is a representation of thoughtfulness. It says that I think about you and you are important to me and I value your presence in my life. It says that I have been paying attention to you and have noticed what makes your heart sing.

 

If you truly enjoy picking out and purchasing the perfect gift, then do it and have fun.  You are expressing real love and value of another human being by doing so.  If this is not you, don’t get caught up in the manufactured pressures of this season.  Find other ways to express your appreciation for others and enjoy the season and the precious people that are part of your life.