A Little Help Getting Unstuck

Experiencing anguish is a part of living life but what does it mean when we continue to feel the pain at an overwhelming intensity level, even after many months or even years have passed?  If this is you, you might be stuck.  Today, I would like to offer you hope.  With a little help, you can get unstuck and begin living a joyful life again.

 

Before we begin, I would like to clarify that I am not suggesting that there is an appropriate amount of time to grieve.  Grief is as individual as we are.  There is a point, where we each intuitively know that our grieving is no longer healthy.  At this point, we must find a pathway to moving forward with our life.  Essentially grieving is healthy until it isn’t.  Are you emotionally paralyzed?  Is your physical health beginning to suffer?  Do you no longer believe that you can or should be happy again?  Have you lost and not regained motivation to do the things that need to be done, or that you previously enjoyed?  Can you see little or no progress from when you first experienced the grief causing event?  Don’t despair, there is help available.  Make an appointment with a trained and qualified counselor, and go to your first appointment prepared to be transparent and looking forward to getting better.

 

I’m writing from experience.  This past year was a tough one – a full year of experiencing one relationship failure after another.  Each situation was unique and caused a different level of anguish but when combined together, I was overwhelmed.  I did my very best to work through the process of grieving, as well as making difficult decisions, but I finally realized that it was time to get some assistance.  Vanity is powerful.  I had been able to tolerate the minor panic attacks and a relapse into adrenal fatigue, but realizing that my hair was falling out in great amounts and that I was eating my grief and gaining weight, moved me into action.  I located a qualified counselor and began sessions.

 

How does a counselor help?  A counselor is unbiased.  They won’t allow you to continue to reinforce incorrect thinking.  They will help you to arrive at the vital acceptance of circumstances that you cannot change.  They will help you to see that you have a bright future ahead of you.  Essentially, you have been on an oval race car track.  Your car only turns left and goes around and around but never moves forward.  With the counselors help, you can get off of that track and begin to move forward again.

 

Sharing this with my readers is difficult for me to do but I believe that God has asked me to be authentic with you.  I’m hoping that there is at least one person out there, that might be helped by this post.  I do want to caution you – be aware that not all counselors are helpful and some will interject very non-biblical ideas.  Have your discernment sharpened and look at things through a biblical lens.  I’m happy to report that I am doing much better – I am a stronger woman and full of spunk according to my counselor.  Best of all, I am looking forward to a bright future.  I am learning new things to better myself, have taken on a new writing opportunity for my church, I’m looking forward to my children’s next phase of life and the next season in my marriage.  You can look forward to a bright future too.  I’m hoping that this year will be a blessed one for you.

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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?

The Soothing Balm of Listening

There is an art to listening.  Most of us believe that we are reasonably good listeners but the truth is, we could all improve our skills to effectively listen and show empathy to other human beings.

 

I believe that listening well makes you a far better communicator than speaking well.  Simply put, listening well demonstrates that you put others first.  It is a selfless action to listen rather than being heard.  When a person needs someone to listen to them, essentially they need someone to relieve them of their burdens.  When we listen well, we unlock their mind and allow the burdens to release.  Have you ever been overwhelmed and confused by the challenges in your life?  If you were given the opportunity to unload, you felt better, right?  Since this is so important, let’s look at a few of the most important ways that we can develop good listening technique.

 

>Concentrate.  Focus on what is being said instead of how you will respond.  Most of us tend to hear while we are actively thinking about how we will respond or how we can relate to what is being said.  You must completely focus on what they need to say.

 

>Let the other person speak without interruption.  When you interrupt with your questions or your thoughts, the person doesn’t feel a sense of getting to complete their story.  You have interrupted their train of thought and even though you may understand the situation, they may perceive that they were not listened to.  If you are concerned that you will forget your questions or the points that you would like to make, try taking notes.

 

>When they are done speaking, then you may ask questions.  If the person is looking for advice, here is where you may offer it.  If they are not looking for advice but are instead trying to problem solve, try drawing them out with open-ended questions.  Asking questions is also a great non-confrontational way to help someone see truth or error in their thinking.  They are more likely to come to conclusions without feeling judged.

 

>Exhibit pleasant facial expressions while listening.   Natural eye contact with a relaxed smile will make the other person feel cherished.  If appropriate, nod your head but be careful here – you can give the impression that you are agreeing and that may not be the impression that you want to communicate.

 

>Summarize what you have heard in conversational style.  This is your opportunity to make clarifications and prove that you have been actively listening and that they have been heard.

 

>Finally, make sure to follow up with the person at a later time.  Following up demonstrates your sincerity and it shows that you care about and value this person.

 

Let’s look at another type of listening.  Listening to someone who is upset with us.  Too often, we feel the need to defend ourselves.  God’s word gives us much help in this area.  James 1:19 says “so then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath”.  Proverbs 15:1 says “a gentle answer turns away wrath, a harsh word stirs up anger”.  As difficult as it is, a confrontational situation can be defused by following these very simple words.

 

Listening is so much more than using our hearing sense.  When we really listen, we are fully engaging many of our senses.  We not only hear but we see the other person’s emotional state and we feel compassion and empathy.  One of the most powerful ways to minister to another human being, is listening to them.  Most people don’t need someone to solve their problems – they need someone to listen.  When we give our time, and make the effort to really listen, we lighten the burdens of another human being.  Most of us won’t get this completely right every time but try putting a few of these tips into practice every time that you have the opportunity.

Comedy Over Adversity – Interview with Bob Smiley

He’s the picture of a successful man.  As a working comedian, he has a hilarious, clever, self-deprecating style and a never-ending supply of gigs and opportunities to work alone and with some of the comedic greats.  His family is beautiful, he has no mortgage and writes a five-digit check when he buys a new car.  From the outsider’s point of view, his life looked perfect but what happened when the man returned home from a weekend of shows to discover that his wife had left him?  Stunned, grieved and angry, Bob Smiley began the journey of healing his heart and raising his sons.  He is now using this experience of flying solo to help others.  Now, let’s meet this inspiring man – Bob Smiley.

Madeline:  Welcome Bob, thank you for joining us.

Bob: Thanks for using the word ‘working’ in my introduction.  I’m going to show this to my Dad, to remind him that I do actually work.

Madeline:  Once you learned that your wife had left and was pursuing a divorce, did you immediately begin seeking support or did you hide?  What did you learn from this and what advice would you give to others?

Bob:  It was such a shock.  I mean…look at me.  Who would throw that away?  I’m totally kidding obviously.  In fact, that was my first response.  When she told me the news, she also told me that she didn’t want to discuss it.  So I started trying to fix anything that I thought may have been the problem.  I started working out for 2 to 3 hours a day and not eating.  I dropped 36 pounds in just a few months.  I got to where I could use ChapStick as deodorant.  I kept asking what I could change to fix this, which I now realize made me look desperate and unattractive.  I also didn’t tell anyone.  She didn’t want to tell the church elders and I didn’t want to tell our friends.  I was embarrassed and felt like a failure.  I also didn’t want our kids to know that there was a problem.  We’d always been a close, fun family and I didn’t want our kids to think that we were entering a rough patch in our lives.  I had no idea what lay ahead for us all.  So I sort of hid, which leads to my advice.  Seek counsel from your church the second you think there’s a problem.  Satan loves to use isolation to wreck our lives.  This goes for any problem.  God made us for community and we need to lean on and help each other.  So don’t hide.  Don’t give Satan a foothold by hiding your shame.  Bring your problems into the light and let God do His thing.  And don’t spend two hours on the treadmill a day.  No one needs to be so skinny that they look like they went to a blood bank and forgot to say “when”.

Madeline:  I’m certain that you must have received good advice and bad advice.  What were some of the wisest things said to you?

Bob:  The best advice came from my friend, comedian Tim Hawkins, (You should check him out.  I promise he is the second best comedian out there.)  I waited about three months before reaching out to my friends.  Once I knew my wife had flipped a switch, and there was no hope or desire to let God fix our marriage, I knew I had to start telling people to prepare for the new life that I was being forced into.  I called Tim and told him what had been going on.  He’d known my wife and me for many years, so he was shocked as well, but quickly said, “Don’t go through this on your own.  Depression can generate some crazy and dangerous ideas.  So be in constant contact with your friends and be as open as you can.  Now, lose this number.  Good luck.”

I’m kidding about the last part, but the first part of what he said was absolutely true and was what got me through the darkest part of all of this.  Talking about everything with my closest friends helped me to process everything, and get a game plan together of how to move on after the floor fell out from under me.

So I cannot stress enough, that God created us for community and good friends will help you through the hard times.  I seriously hope Tim reads this, or that someone will text me what his new number is, so I can tell him myself.

Madeline:  What have been some of the hardest aspects of grief for you and how did you get through them?

Bob:  When someone leaves you, you instantly think that you’re a failure.  You think you’re a loser with no redeeming qualities.  And again, that’s Satan trying to get you to give up on trying to be the person God created you to be.  And I have to admit, Satan was winning that game against me for a long time.  I was angry and depressed and hurt.  However, the more I relied on my friends and the more I dove into the Bible, I was reminded that God can use the most messed up people in life.  The Bible is full of losers that God used to do great things, therefore making them winners.  I knew that I had to get up every day and face the shattered life that I had worked so hard to create, and start allowing God to shape and build a new life for me, with new adventures and opportunities.  And He has.  You know, God saved Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego IN the fire.  He didn’t save them FROM the fire.  That story really hit home.  I was in the fire … but God was right there with me.

Madeline:  How has humor helped you and your sons to grieve and get to where you are today?

Bob:  I’ve always heard that laughter is the best medicine but after the year I’ve had, I can honestly say that it’s Vicodin.  I’m kidding!  Laughter has so much healing power and I went months without that power.  I remember being on stage two weeks after my wife had moved out.  I was telling a joke and watching a room full of people laughing uncontrollably while I was thinking in my mind, “why are you laughing – don’t you know how much pain there is in the world?”  Then I thought, “maybe that’s why they’re laughing.”

So I started looking for humor and laughter more in my personal life.  I remember one of the first things that I laughed at.  I was in the shower and I thought how nice it was that now, I don’t have to read 18 different bottles of stuff so that I don’t accidentally wash my hair with Shea Butter Foot Scrub … which is something that I’ve done in the past.  In fact, I’ve washed my hair with so much foot scrub, I’m surprised I don’t have a toe growing out of my head.  But now I have one bottle in the shower.  It says Holiday Inn on it.

My kids and I then started playing more silly games together like Tele-strations or charades and watching funny videos together.  We tried to make each other laugh more and more and really started seeing some healing happening.  It got to a point where we realized that we were going to be ok.  It wasn’t the life we chose, but it was going to be ok.  You see, God can use joy to remind us that no matter what tragedy you’re facing at the time, there is still good times ahead of you, if you will continue to rely on Him.

Madeline:  How can church leadership and people in the Church be an effective help to someone going through an unwanted divorce?

Bob: Reach out to them.  Especially in the beginning, a daily or weekly phone call from the leaders in the church can make a huge difference.  An unwanted divorce is a terrible thing.  You are suddenly forced to sit back and watch everything that you’ve worked so hard to build just crumble away and you can’t do anything about it.  It usually involves lies and justification from the other side, which angers you even more.  So a simple phone call, just to let you know that you have friends on your side can make all the difference in the world.  And prayer is obviously a huge tool to get through any pain.  Going back to what Hawkins said about not going through this alone, I would tell the church not to let their wounded go through anything alone.

Madeline:  Will you use your comedy act as a platform to talk about divorce?  If so, how?

Bob:  I’m so surprised by this answer, but yes.  One of my biggest fears was that the divorce was going to also end my career.  I didn’t know if churches would even allow a divorced Christian onto their stages.  I wasn’t going to hide my divorce if people asked me directly but I definitely wasn’t planning on talking about it.  However, I was going back to Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas for a second time to do their marriage date night event.  It had been a huge success the year before and I had, as always, talked a lot on stage about how amazing my wife was and how great marriage could be.  I was now returning a year later, a broken wounded warrior.  So I called them and explained my situation expecting them to find another comic.  I’ll never forget what the guy said.  He said, “Do you have Tim Hawkins’ cell number?”

Ok.  That’s not true but this is the longest I’ve gone without making a joke.  What he said was, “There’s an attack on marriages so, if you feel comfortable, you should talk about it on stage.  I think it could really help people.”  So I started thinking about what to say on stage that would be positive and uplifting, and I realized that God had given me an amazing platform to remind people of two things.  If your marriage isn’t good, don’t just walk away.  Satan would love nothing more than to rip apart your marriage.  Satan has so much to gain by ending your marriage.  It causes so much pain.  It will damage your kids and most likely lay the ground work for them to have failed marriages.  It will make you feel like giving up and not feeling worthy enough for God to use you.  It’s no wonder Satan is attacking marriages.

So stay and fight.  Let God create a new marriage for the two of you.  That’s the first message that I gave that night.  The second one is: if someone that has pledged to be committed to you for the rest of your life, just up and walks out of your life … you have to know that God will never do that.  Back to the Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego story.  God will walk you through the fire.  He will get you through the hurt, the pain, the anger and He will continue to use you, if you will let Him.

I walked off the stage that night not really knowing what to expect.  The crowd had laughed at several of my stories about how my kids and I had adapted to our new lives.  However, I had no idea how the serious part of my show had been received … until I got to my merchandise table.

There was a huge line of people waiting, not for my autograph and unfortunately not to buy anything (I have a lot of debt now so merch sales are all of a sudden very important) … people were lining up to tell me what they were going through.  I was surprised at the brutal honesty of couples coming up saying that their marriage wasn’t good, but that they just weren’t doing anything about it.  They didn’t see it as an attack from Satan, they just thought they’d grown tired of each other.

So after that night, I decided to start talking about it on stage.  I was starting to realize that God was continuing to use me…just in a different way now.

The fourth time I talked about it on stage was in Michigan.  As I walked off the stage, I was met by a guy who told me that his wife had left him yesterday.  He said that he didn’t want to come to the show but his buddy had dragged him to it (again, community and friendship is key to getting through tragedy!).  He and I talked for a while and he was reminded that God wasn’t through with him.  He just had to get through the fire.  So, I know you asked a simple question and I’m giving you a lot but the answer is yes.  I’m using comedy to remind the broken that God is the ultimate healer.

Madeline:  Incredible.  How else has God brought good out of your experience?

Bob:  I have a lot more room in my closet now.

Madeline:  What is the most significant thing that God has taught you so far?

Bob:  He is faithful and He is freeing.  I now know that anyone is capable of disappointing you.  I’m capable of disappointing you.  We are flawed.  We are sinful.  We can be persuaded by Satan into thinking that the grass is greener somewhere else.  However, God’s love is never ending.  He will never walk away.  His vow is unbreakable.  So as I continue to see His love, it sets me free to forgive easier, to love easier, to seek opportunities to spread God’s love.  It gives me purpose and the armor to fight any battle.

John 8:36 “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”

Madeline:  Grieving can take a toll on your physical health.  How did all of this affect your strength and vitality?

Bob:  At first, it crippled me.  I wasn’t eating and if I did, it wasn’t healthy.  And after she moved out, I just didn’t care about myself.  I was very destructive.  I didn’t care what happened to me because I felt like no one cared what happened to me.  Again, Satan loves to use divorce to wreck people’s lives … and it does.  It wrecked mine for a while.  What pulled me out of that, was the realization that I had 3 amazing kids that needed me.  I knew that I had to pull myself out of the pity party that I had created, and just go on with life.  My kids’ worlds were crashing in as well and they needed me more than ever.

Now I’m eating healthy and working out properly.  In fact, this month I’m training for a 1K!

Madeline:  What advice would you give about dating when children are still in the home?

Bob:  That’s a tough question that I think needs to be answered on an individual basis.  I didn’t want to be lonely but I also didn’t want to expose my kids to anything that might be confusing or frustrating to them.  They were already being taught through example that divorce is completely ok.  I didn’t want to do anything else that would damage them even more.  However, each of them brought the subject up to me over our Thanksgiving holiday.  They all had different questions for me but all 3 of them were of the opinion that I should start dating again.  So I did and it has gone well and by that I mean, “AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!”

I say this as nicely as possible but there are some crazy people out there.  So my advice on dating, especially when kids are involved, is proceed with caution.  I wouldn’t let your kids meet anyone until you’ve dated them for a year.  I have gone out with a few women that have seemed amazing at first, but after a few months I have been so grateful that I hadn’t allowed them to meet my kids.  I won’t name names on here, because I don’t know if the restraining order includes getting 50 feet from any of my online interviews, but proceed with caution.  Take the time to truly get to know who you are inviting into your life and more importantly into your kid’s lives.  Keep your kids first in your life which includes your dating life.  That being said…Ladies, I’m single and can be reached at 555…..  🙂

Madeline:  What would you like to say to the person who is struggling in their marriage or even considering divorce?

Bob: First, tell your spouse how you’re feeling.  Make sure your spouse knows that there is a problem at the beginning and keep a constant line of communication open.  Don’t wait until you’ve decided that it’s over before you say anything.  Again, Satan loves using isolation to wreck lives.  Communication is key.  If that doesn’t fix things, go to the church right away.  Seek counsel.  Each of you should find an older person and submit to them for mentoring.  Seeking wise advice and mentoring can sometimes help break bad habits or cycles and start the renewing process.   And lastly, be willing to fight for the vow you made to God.  Divorce sometimes looks like an easy out but it’s a horrible tough road full of pain and suffering.  Creating a Godly marriage is worth the fight.

Madeline:  Bob, I have no doubts that there is someone who is reading this interview and is going through a very similar event in their own life.  If you could sit with them, is there anything else that you would you say to them?

Bob:  Would you please buy my DVD?  I have a lot of stuff to replace.  🙂

Actually, I would say everything that they’ve just read.  God won’t leave you, so don’t give up on Him.

Let’s lighten up with lightening round.

Madeline:  Kombucha or sweet tea?

Bob: Sweet Tea mostly because kombucha sounds like a foot disease.

Madeline:  Exercise or napping?

Bob: Napping on the treadmill.

Madeline:  Hunting or playing sports?

Bob: Hunting.  Kids got to eat!

Madeline:  Flying or road-trip?

Bob: Road trip…because then I’m in control.  American Airlines won’t sit me in my truck next to a stranger that smells like if a foot could fart, all while delaying me pulling out of the driveway for no reason at all.  Not that I’m bitter about flying.

Madeline:  Sleek sports car or crew cab pick-up?

Bob:  I’m a huge hunter from Texas…so…..

Madeline:  Please tell the readers where they can follow you.

Bob:       http://www.bobsmiley.com

Twitter: @bobsmileycomic

Facebook: bobsmileycomedy

Instagram: bobsmileycomic

Snapchat: bobsnapperchat

email: bob@bobsmiley.com

Madeline:  Bob, thank you for joining us and sharing your story.  I’m very sure that you will reach someone out there that needs to hear your message of hope.  My best wishes to you and your sons.

Bob:  Thanks Madeline!  Hey … you aren’t single are you?  🙂  Actually, I’ll throw in one last thing about dating after divorce.  I understand why a divorced person would think that any relationship is better than nothing at all.  What I don’t understand, is that person thinking that they have nothing at all.  You’re God’s child and really, that’s all that matters.

Thank you for reading.  If you have enjoyed this post, please leave your feedback.  You can follow Madeline on Facebook and WordPress.

Duty or Sport?

Women can easily view sexual intimacy with their husband, as another task to be completed on a very long to-do list.  Too many men believe that women rarely enjoy sex and therefore the act of sex becomes a means to completing a biological need.  Unfortunately, many believe that incredible sex only happens outside of marriage?  God created sex as a blessing to be enjoyed within the commitment of marriage, so why did sex within marriage get such a bad rap?

 

Sometime after Adam & Eve, a mother of the bride told her daughter that she must be prepared do her wifely duty.  Women began to believe that sexual pleasure was only for men, and that a lady always behaves ladylike in the bedroom.  Look, if a wife’s participation consists of just lying there until it’s over, a husband is going to view the act of marital sex as nothing more than a physical release, which exists solely for his benefit.  He needs the physical release but technically, he can take care of that himself.  What he really wants, is a wife that is fully engaged in sex, confident and enjoying the process.  That is sexy and beautiful to him.    Simply put, he wants a lover.  This is why some men stray – frigid wife at home and lover elsewhere.  There is never justification for a husband to cheat, but a wife needs to understand that she is putting her marriage at risk by refusing to be her husband’s lover.  He needs and craves the experience of being skin to skin with his wife while knowing that he is pleasing her.  He is a man and he wants to be good at stuff and hearing and viewing “positive feedback” thrills him.

 

If you are a woman who isn’t enjoying sex, find out why.  Do you view sex as being dirty?  Do you experience pain during sex?  Have you never or rarely felt pleasure during sex with your husband?  Were you sexually abused sometime in your life?  Let’s take a look at each of these.  If you were raised in a home where sex was viewed as shameful, you may be carrying these attitudes into your marriage.  I would encourage you to read what God says about sex between a husband and wife.  He created this to be a beautiful and pleasurable expression of love for both man and woman.  If you experience pain during intercourse, share this information with your husband, and together find ways to slow down and enjoy each other.  Commonly referred to as foreplay, slowing down will help your body get ready for the main event.  If you still have pain, there are many products available and if necessary discuss this with your gynecologist.  If you have difficulty experiencing pleasure, realize that only 25% of women can reach climax during intercourse alone.  Ask your husband to help you with exploring your body – every woman is unique – find out what feels good to you.  Once you have begun to experience regular pleasure, you will actually crave more sex.  A win-win, don’t you think?  Finally, if you were sexually abused, remember that this is not your husband’s fault, and you may need to seek professional help to work through this and heal.  There is no shame.  Plenty of woman struggle with these issues and the professionals are trained to help.

 

Sex with your husband, doesn’t have to be just one more task to check off on your to-do list.  Although, I will share a little secret – my husband has been known to write it on mine.  It’s just a little fun between the two of us.  With a shift in her mindset, every wife can make sex a very special sport that the two of you enjoy playing together.

 

Thank you for reading.  If you have enjoyed this post, please follow Madeline on WordPress or if you are a Facebook reader, go back to Facebook to leave me your feedback and be sure to click on my picture and hit Like Page if you would like to see my weekly posts on your Facebook feed.  Madeline enjoys reading your comments too.

 

Image courtesy of tiramisustudio at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

 

The Cares of a Caregiver

It is one of the most challenging times in a person’s life.  They are the principal caregiver for a loved one.  It’s an exhausting, stressful, lonely and guilt ridden season.  I know a few caregivers and the overwhelming impression that I get from them is that they just want others to know what they go through.

 

Most people who are caregivers don’t even expect help – they simple need someone to listen to them – really listen – without trying to offer solutions.  They need compassion and empathy.  It is a monumental task that they have undertaken and they just want to be understood.  With the input of those in my life who caregive, I have compiled a list of the biggest areas of frustration.

 

>They worry about whether or not they are doing the right thing for their loved one.

>They worry that they are neglecting their spouse and children.

>They regularly feel overwhelmed by stress.

>They forget to take care of their own needs.

>If they have the help of skilled staff, the interruptions can cause even more chaos and disruption.

>They are trying to keep up with their own finances along with the complications of taking care of their loved one’s finances.

>They feel tied down and very lonely.

>For a caregiver who is dealing with a form of dementia in their loved one, being asked the same thing over and over is exhausting and can provoke frustration and anger.  Also, dementia is an evolving disease and requires the caregiver to be constantly learning new ways to handle their loved one’s challenges.

>They lose their patience and then feel guilty.

>They have really high expectations of themselves and often feel like they are failing their loved one.

 

If you are available to assist, make a sincere offer but caregiving is a lonely ministry and often they really just need someone to listen.  To all of the caregivers out there – I admire you – you are amazing and my hope is that you will one day hear the words “well done, good and faithful servant”.

 

Image courtesy of khunaspix at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

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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.

 If you’ve enjoyed this post from Madeline Eatenton, please take a moment to Like her Facebook Page so that you can see her future weekly posts.

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.

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.