Monday, August 31, 2009

Taken By The Wind

The cottonwood trees outside my door
Have blown their dust upon the ground.
As I rake them more and more
The leaves continue to fall down
In colors of deep red and brown.

I try as though it is a quest
To clear the yard of autumn's mess,
But find my will to be useless
Against the season's foe.
I turn inside to go.

The Journey

If someone had told me a few years ago
where I would journey,
down which path I would go -
I would have just laughed with a sarcastic glee
and boldly professed
"that would never be me!"

Yet, now here I am on this pathway of fate
as a woman renewed,
with a purified slate -
I can't help but smile, inside, to myself
as I look at past trials
and heartaches I've felt -
with the vision of hindsight and its clarity
I know my toughest fight
was the one against me.

So absorbed in myself I could not see the signs,
when I did in crept doubt,
said it's all in my mind -
I clung to a faith that was never my own...
but it's hard to escape
when it's all that you've known.

I rejected "religion" and all that it taught,
deep inside I could see
all their words were for naught -
though I felt no elation in spiritual form
on that quicksand foundation I stood... 'til the storm -

Then, as God spoke to Noah and said build an ark,
so enlightened was I on my quest to embark -
to acquire a knowing of Him called "Most High"
to begin inner growing, stop living this lie.

As the waters of knowledge poured into my soul
I was drowning in past things I had to let go -
through the floods of His cleansing
I took hold His hand
and He faithfully led me onto the dry land.

By unlocking the door to the wisdom He gave
I found peace, and much more -
I'm no longer a slave
to the world's obligations, the "have to's" and "shoulds"
I've rebuilt my foundation
this time with God's wood.

The path was not paved, there were times when I fell,
and I ranted and raved
thought He'd damn me to hell -
but the wonderful part, the most precious of all
is I learned in my heart that He'd not let me fall...
any further than into His open embrace
where the love gave me strength to get back in life's race.

Your Love Came

So many times in life
I've done what isn't right
Through selfishness
In hopelessness I've cried.
I lashed out all around me
And it ached in my soul
all the hate that found me
I couldn't let it go

Til Your love came
Like a summer rain
Washed away my pain
Cleansing me again
Your love came.

Oh, the heartache deep inside
Was more than I could hide
through stubbornness
Forgiveness in me died.
I blamed everyone around me
'Til it ached in my soul
All the pride that found me
I couldn't let it go

Til Your love came
Like a summer rain
Washed away my pain
Cleansing me again
Your love came.

Even now, there are times
I walk a crooked line
Through fraility
Humility I can't find

Then it rains
Loving drops of rain
Wash away my pain
Cleansing me again and again
Your love came
Like a summer rain
Washed away my pain
Made me whole again
Your love came

I Know What It's Like

I know what it's like to feel hollow.
When words cut like a knife
it's hard to swallow.

I know what it's like to curl up and weep,
and pray with all your might
that you'll fall asleep.

I know what it's like to stand behind the scenes
and watch in agony
while someone else lives your dream.

I know what it's like to read God's truth
and want to live by faith
but still need proof.

I know what it's like to fail in everything,
to despise what you've become
to writhe in pain and scream.

I know what it's like to face rejection,
to look in the mirror
and hate your own reflection.

I know what it's like to be torn open,
to find nothing worldly worth
putting your hope in.

I know what it's like to feel weak...
I know of these things I speak...
for the only strength I own is God's and His alone.

Let The Bridges Burn

When the one you love is loving someone new
Tell me then, what is a heart to do?
When it's clear your feelings will not be returned
You gotta turn around and let those bridges burn.

Let the bridges burn
In a blaze of flame
Light the torch
Don't look back
Let it scorch love's pain.
It's not easy this way
But one day you'll learn
To move on you've gotta
Let the bridges burn.

A broken heart never mends too soon
Holding on is like salt in an open wound
You've got to face the fact, it wasn't your turn
Love will be reborn when you let the bridges burn

Let the bridges burn
In a blaze of flame
Light the torch
Don't look back
Let it scorch love's pain.
It's not easy this way
But one day you'll learn
To move on you've gotta
Let the bridges burn.

Let the bridges burn in a fiery rage
Set a match to the past and turn the page


From The Fire

When I’m hollow
When I’m void of every thought
Tears I swallow
But pain pulls me down like a rock
When I’m broken
And I can’t find any peace
I keep hoping
The rain will pour down and bring me sweet release

From the fire that burns in my soul tonight
I need to escape.
From the fire that’s eating me alive
With its flames of rage.
From the fire I bleed
And drop to my knees
Begging please – set me free
From the fire…

I’m suffocating
From the hate that’s in the air
Where I’ve been and how the hell I got here
Every mistake
Was a chance I didn’t take
All the memories
Scorch my spirit, God set me free

From the fire that burns in my soul tonight
I need to escape.
From the fire that’s eating me alive
With its flames of rage.
From the fire I bleed
And drop to my knees
Begging please – set me free
From the fire…

It was cold and dark
When I saw a light
It filled my heart
And felt so right
I fanned the flames
How could I see
Once I stroked the fire, I could never leave

From the fire that burns in my soul tonight
I need to escape.
From the fire that’s eating me alive
With its flames of rage.
From the fire I bleed
And drop to my knees
Begging please – set me free
From the fire…

Take This Cup From Me

Have you ever felt so lost
That no matter what the cost
You’d pay it just to find your way back home;
When all your hopes and dreams
Unravel at the seams
And the fabric of your life becomes un-sown ~

You hit your knees
Begging please
Take this cup from me
I’m terrified
I'm all alone
All I want is to
go back home.
I know God has a plan
That I can’t clearly see
But if there’s any other way, I pray
Take this cup from me.

When you know you don’t belong
What felt right now feels wrong
And you can’t control the tears or hide the pain;
It’s the empty solitude,
The sleepless nights imprison you
Knowing every day the cycle starts again ~

You hit your knees
Begging please
Take this cup from me
I’m terrified
I'm all alone
I just want to
go back home.
I know God has a plan
that I can’t clearly see
But if there’s any other way, I pray
Take this cup from me.

When you’re in the wilderness
And friends are far and few
There’s only one that you can trust
‘Cuz He’s walked in your shoes

He hit his knees
Begging please
Take this cup from me
He was terrified
He was all alone
All He wanted was
to go home.
He knew God had a plan
Humanity couldn’t see
He prayed if there's any other way
Take this cup from Me.

Sleepless Nights

What do you do when you find yourself lost
unsure if you’re able to count the cost;
When you’ve gone too far
without a plan,
when time like sand slips thru your hand;
With your mind and heart on puppet strings
and your body choosing its own thing…
what’s real and what is truly fact
carries little clout;
It comes down to how well you act
and mask each blinding doubt.
Although we point, and try to blame
we’re victims to no one.
Each person willing for the game
Has greater shame to come.
For even if in others eyes
you’re pure as morning light,
the mirror reflects unspoken lies
that taunt your sleepless nights.

An Affair That Never Happened

An Affair That Never Happened
© 2009 Susan Renee’

You entered my mind today
No reason and no rhyme,
I tried to push the thoughts away
But they came back each time.
I’m trying to forget you
I’m trying to pretend
You never crossed the line between my lover and my friend.

It’s an affair that never happened.
A love we never made.
A chapter never written.
A game we never played.
A song without a melody.
It isn't hard to see,
A story with no ending
is the tale of you and me.

If only it were easy
to turn and walk away
If only there was nothing
left for us to say
but like unfinished business
the tension of one night
keeps building ever stronger and closure’s not in sight.

It’s an affair that never happened.
A love we never made.
A chapter never written.
A game we never played.
A song without a melody.
It isn't hard to see,
A story with no ending
is the tale of you and me.
We never let ourselves connect completely
The unknown holds our hearts at bay,
I wonder if we made love discretely
Would it be easier to walk away?
From an affair that never happened.
A love we never made.
A chapter never written.
A game we never played.
A song without a melody.
I wonder can they see?
This story with no ending...
the tale of you and me.

An affair that never happened... at least not physically.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

A Kiss From Heaven

It was a beautiful morning in the Mayan Riviera Mexico and I walked the beach … well after breakfast, and well after all the serious shell collectors had come and gone. I was searching for small shells to take home and string into a necklace for my daughter, but there were no shells to be found… at least none worthy of keeping. As I walked, I started talking to God. I didn't know what to pray or whom to pray for. I tried praying my usual, "Thank you for this day…. Please protect my family … blah, blah, blah.." the words sounded as empty as I felt.

I was feeling frustrated, as I have most of my life, because I never seem to "fit" anywhere. I've never been certain that I was doing what I was meant to do, or living the life I was supposed to live. No matter how close I am to people or circumstances, I somehow still feel disconnected, like there is a plug somewhere that hasn't found the proper outlet. As I walked the beach that morning I began to pray, "God, where do You want me? What am I supposed to be doing? I know You are Lord and Savior of my life and my soul and my heart, and I know I am nothing without You, BUT why do I feel so lost? I don't want to test you, God, because I believe You are the all-powerful, Almighty God, but I want to feel you, and touch you, and I need to see you."

Staring out at the ocean, I told God that I loved Him, but that I didn't even know how to pray. "Take my life, my soul, my heart, God. Take it all for Your cause, just please show me that You're here and You're hearing me." I reminded Him that people in Old Testament times saw physical evidence of His power, and that I wanted to see that same evidence. I thought about Moses and the burning bush, and all those who witnessed the parting of the Red Sea, and ate manna from Heaven every morning in the wilderness. I knew I shouldn't NEED proof, as faith is believing in the unseen, but I desperately needed to see God.

I walked a little further, all the while telling God what a weak, unworthy, stupid sinner I am. "I'm just stupid, " I said, mentally comparing myself to my mother and sister, who outwardly have unshakable faith. "I want THAT faith!," I told Him.

Finally I gave up my search for shells and realized I was almost back to where I had begun, so I stopped to pray one last time. Facing the ocean I said, "God, I'm not testing you, but I'm asking you to give me a sign, one that is without a doubt from You, and one that I will never forget. "Lord", I continued "if you will send me the "perfect" shell, right here on this beach in the midst of these thousands of broken shell fragments, then I will know that you've heard me and it's from You and only You."

I stood for a few moments letting the water splash around my ankles as each new wave rolled in and made its way out again. Then as I turned to take a step, I saw it. Laying near my right foot was a PERFECT SHELL! It wasn't chipped, it wasn't dirty, and it was so large that it filled my entire hand as I lifted it from the sand. I knew that it could never have been missed by the anyone else walking that beach before me. It was exactly as I imagined it would be.

The wave of emotion that rushed over me was so tender that I cried. I felt Jesus' love gently enveloping me, assuring me that I belong to Him, that I'm okay and right where I'm supposed to be. I had asked Him for a sign that I could never forget and I know that someday I will be telling my grandchildren about the unforgettable day when Jesus blew me a kiss from heaven in the form of a "perfect shell".

If you've ever felt like God isn't listening or doesn't care... He does and He is... and all you have to do is ask Him.

The Soil of A Heart

Ending a relationship is always painful for at least one person involved. I think the best you can do is be tactfully honest and gentle with your words. The other person deserves the truth and they deserve to hear that truth from you. So, muster up the courage to be honest...

but always tread lightly when walking on the soil of someone's heart. You may not want to plant something there, but you need to leave it well-nourished ... someday someone else will want to plant a seed there.

Piss Me Off, But Don't Piss ON Me!

I know all too well about losing your temper, behaving irrationally, exploding, ranting, raving, the head-spinning kind of anger that leaves you physically, mentally and emotionally exhausted. When you feel this anger it almost starts as agitation way down in your toes and works it's way up until your face is flushed and steam pours from each ear! The mind whirls with a thousand things it wants to say but the jaw tightens, eyes narrow, pressure mounts and only grunting utterances spew forth. You can't get the words out so your body takes over the communication thru eye rolls, pursed lips, stomping feet, and crossed arms. For me, it's pacing. I pace back and forth and back and forth like a lion searching for prey. Finally, the explosion of verbal lashings ignites and the tongue is inflamed! It twists, it turns, it dances, offering up an oral flogging of dynamic proportion! You stand there with puffed up pride, for you have spoken your mind, and you are right!

When you finally exhale and see the damage your tirade caused, you deflate. You look at the person who became the object of your anger and realize you just locked, loaded and fired all weapons with no mercy. Whether what you said was right or wrong, fact or fiction, suddenly becomes irrelevant. Only the pain matters now as you're swept away by a wave or remorse.

We all get angry … sometimes it's justified and sometimes it's just an over-reaction. While in the throes of anger, it is important to try to control your tongue. Some of my most regrettable moments in life are when I blurted something in anger that I wished I could later take back. Whoever coined the phrase, "sticks and stones will break my bones but words will never hurt me," was a moron in my book. I'll take a stick or a stone any day over a harsh word that lingers in my heart for the rest of my life.

As I age I'm learning to bite my tongue a little more, to breathe before I speak. I have a long way to go on this one… but I'm trying… trying to realize that just because someone pisses me off, it doesn't give me the right to piss on them with my words... and vice versa.

How to Say "I'm Sorry" Like You Mean It

The phrase "I'm Sorry" is thrown around casually. Someone says they're having a bad day, we answer with "I'm sorry." Someone isn't feeling well, we say "I'm Sorry." I'm constantly hounding my children to learn to say, "I'm Sorry" after a confrontation with another child... even though their body language indicates it is rarely a heartfelt apology. There are defensive sorries, "Well, I'm Sorry then!" Argumentative sorries, "I'm sorry, you're sorry that I'm sorry!" So how do we utter these words with meaning?

I have found the best way to apologize when you are at fault is to go to the person face-to-face, look them in the eyes and ask their forgiveness. Most people in this world are good-hearted individuals. When they see you have mustered up the courage to come to them in person it already speaks volumes as to your sincerity. People who don't care don't take the time to go there. So sometimes just showing up has already softened their heart enough for your sincere apology to be heard. I've learned for most people an apology doesn't have to be elaborate, just heartfelt and spoken in truth. No accusations mixed in, no under the radar digs at the other person, no defenses... just a gesture of love that says, "I hurt you and I wish I hadn't."

Let those words sink in and pray for God to give them the strength to forgive you, and even the hardest of hearts can melt.

Played Out and Laid Out

Years ago I was on a sales call with a company I had sought after for several months. I was in a one-on-one meeting with the vice president of operations, hoping to close the deal, when out of nowhere he said, "I have a condo in Vail. Why don't you join me this weekend and we'll work out all the details."
I almost fell out of my chair. My first thought was that I had not heard him correctly, so I asked, "what?" He repeated the invite word for word. I know my face showed the shock I felt as I stammered, "I'm married."
He smiled and said, "me too."
I felt like one of those cartoon characters with steam pouring out my ears! I jumped to my feet and announced that this meeting was finished. As I gathered my things he said, "it's a shame, this would be a million dollar account for you."
I slammed my folder down on his desk and seethed, "I wouldn't screw you for a million dollars even if I were single!" Needless to say, I didn't get the account.

I don't know what makes some people think they can ignore the wedding band on another person's hand. Is it ego? Do these tactics have a high rate of success to encourage people to continue to behave this way, particularly in the workplace?

No matter where you work, there is a chance you will encounter men or women of this caliber. I think it's important not to let their advances be any reflection on how you view yourself. Stick to your high moral standards, decline their offers and walk away with your integrity in tact.

Rule of thumb: don't lay with a player or play with a layer…lest your career ends up played out and you end up laid out.

A Chance to Dance

How do you know when you're in love?

To quote a line from the box office flop, Meet Dave…. "when you're in love you don't have to ask that question." This is true to some degree, but I do think there are deeper signs of being in love than the fleeting feeling of butterflies in your belly and chills down your spine. For example: does he make you feel good about yourself? When you are with him does he lift your spirits even in troublesome times? Does he make you desire to be a better person? Do you long to be with him and talk with him? Do you desire intimacy with him because you feel sometimes you just can't get close enough? Do you see yourself growing old with him, and is it a picture that brings joy in your heart? Does he make you laugh often and hard?

Only you know if you're in love…and if you are, the rest of the world will see it in your eyes. Being in love is magical and ridiculously illogical… so bask in it…soak up every ounce of the feeling… for there is nothing on earth like it.

Let your heart out into the fresh air and give it the chance to dance.

Call Your Bluff

Have you ever jumped off a bluff into a river? Or off of a pier into the ocean below? The split second before you jump you inhale and hold your breath all the way down until you feel the water crashing around you. Then you scramble to the top of the water and gulp in a huge breath…panting with the excitement of the adrenalin rush! It's an awesome feeling! But before the jump, standing there looking down at the water, you feel nervous tension building. Fear tells you it's a long way down and you come face-to-face with the possibility of getting injured. You know you could hit a rock in the water. You know you could have a bad landing and break a bone. Anything could happen. Yet, you're drawn to the challenge, knowing victory lies with the one who jumps.

Aren't relationships the same? Don't we stand at the threshold of the unknown and jump, hoping the other person will be there to catch us? Aren't friendships the same? Don't we come to a point where we must decide whether to stand on the bluff and look down at a person's life, or jump in and tread water with them? How easy it is to stand on the pier…how comfortable it must feel when you don't have to be the one to face the fear of drowning or injury.

Jimmy Buffet sings a line I love: "I'd rather die while I'm living than live while I'm dead." In regards to relationships with other people, whether they are friends or lovers, do you really want to be on the sidelines? Do you really want to be a dead entity in someone's world when you could be sharing life with them? Why sit on the bluff alone? Don't let fear hold you back. It's time to "Call your Bluff." Inhale and jump. The water feels good.

A Yellow Tennis Ball

It was an Autumn morning in 1989 and I was late for class. My roommate and I were also late on paying rent and promised the landlord we would render it first thing that morning. The rental office sat next to the swimming pool, which was still covered with a plastic tarp for winter. Stressed because I was running late, I ran to the office door only to see a sign that said they would be back in fifteen minutes. The office door was locked and there was no place for me to leave our rent check. I was frustrated and plopped down in one of the lawn chairs next to the pool. On two different occasions I started to get up and leave, feeling torn between the urgency to make it to class and the agreement to pay the rent. Each time I felt compelled to stay and sat back down. I was agitated and growing evermore impatient. Yet something tugged at me to stay put. A few minutes later a little blonde headed boy wandered into the pool area. He was about four years old and was bouncing a yellow tennis ball on the ground and chasing after it. I nodded a brief hello as he passed by my chair. The next sound was a splash, as the yellow ball had bounced off the pavement and onto the top of the tarp, which was covered in dirty rain water and leaves. I saw the little boy bend over, trying to reach the ball. Before I could offer to help he slid onto the top of the tarp, face down in the water. His arms and legs flailed as he tried to lift his body up…but the tarp was too slimy and slippery. I ran to where he was and lay on my stomach, inching my way out as far as I could. I was just barely able to reach the heel of his left shoe. I pulled him to the edge and lifted him up off the tarp. His eyes were wide with fear and he coughed and spit all over both of us. The tennis ball was still gripped in his white-knuckled fist. I told him he was okay and asked where his mommy was. He pointed to the apartment building behind the pool. I told him to go straight home and tell his mommy what happened. Then I watched as he ran as fast as he could across the grass and into the building.

I stayed on my knees for a few moments, trembling and thanking God for keeping me at the pool, and using me to pull that little boy to safety. I often wonder if I was there for the purpose of rescuing the little boy or he was there for the purpose of rescuing me from a dried up faith? Perhaps we were there in that precise moment to rescue each other. I don't know. But I do know that God kept me in that lawn chair for the purpose of having that encounter with the little boy… and I know it wasn't because I had some special ability to help him… but rather I had availability. Sometimes I think God doesn't expect a lot from us…sometimes all we have to do is just show up and trust Him.

"Weight" It Out

I am 5'6", though I wear heels all the time so most of my friends actually think I'm taller than I am. When I delivered my daughter I out-weighed my 6'2" husband. I gained 84 pounds during pregnancy! That's a lot of weight to add to one body in a short period of time. It was devastating. I felt embarrassed to go out in public and never prompted love-making with my husband because I was too ashamed of my own body. I looked like the Michelin Man, and I felt like him too. It took me a year to lose those 84 pounds, but they came off. There were many tearful nights of failure and many crabby dieting days, but I eventually got my body into shape. I hate exercising, but I love to dance and so I literally danced my butt off. My husband was key to my success as he encouraged me when I felt down, he motivated me to keep going when I wanted to quit and he committed himself to becoming healthier as well, so it felt like a team effort. It was our "battle of the bulge" and we came out victorious.... because we did it together.

If you're tackling a bulging belly or a back end that doesn't end, don't give up... and remember the weight game is a "wait" game... it doesn't happen overnight...but it can happen!

The Sorrow of Divorce

When a marriage ends it is the ripping apart of two lives. Even in the most amicable separations, hearts are torn wide open, never sliced evenly and tenderly. It causes bleeding, scarring and wounds that will not be forgotten. It is a major life stressor and touches every area of their world. To describe divorce as heartbreaking is an understatement. Even those who put on an outward façade of strength crumble beneath the pressure. They mourn for the loss of the relationship and grieve for the dream of a life together. People don't stop loving each other just because they sign a paper marked "irreconcilable differences." Those feelings take a long time to melt away.

In the Bible in Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 God talks about there being a time for everything in this life, and this "time" refers to the changes of our life. A time to weep, to laugh, to mourn, to dance, to embrace, to refrain, to tear, to mend, etc. The key is to allow yourself this time to hurt because the fact is, divorce hurts. Everyone's needs are different and one person may bounce back from a divorce in a matter of months while another may take years. It's a deeply personal journey of healing and only you will know when your heart is ready to love again.

Unfortunately people walk this path, but fortunately you don't have to walk it alone. God understands your heartache and He hears your cries of pain. He has written what I call little love notes all throughout the Bible to remind us that He is here. I'll share some of my favorites with you. These are the ones that I cling to with white knuckled fists and teary eyes in some of life's most painful times:

§ When I feel all alone … God says in Hebrews 13:5 "I will never leave you nor forsake you." This is my favorite because people will come in and out of our worlds, but God stays forever. Humans are flawed and will break our hearts, but God brings healing and comfort.

§ When I feel frustrated, scared, upset and worried… God says in I Peter 5:7 "Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you." We don't have to carry the burden alone.

§ When I feel like I can't get thru something, I can't overcome the heartache or remove the depression… God says in Philippians 4:13 "I can do all things through Him who gives me strength." I don't have the strength to face the painful things this world brings, but God does and when I take His hand and walk with Him I know I'm going to come out all right.

Only God's peace, comfort and healing can restore you to a place where you will be ready to fall in love again. God knows your heart better than anyone and in Psalm 37:4 He promises that if you delight in Him, seek Him and trust Him, "He will give you the desires of your heart."

Psalm 27:14: "Wait on the Lord, be strong and take heart, and wait on the Lord." Human beings fail relationships... but God never fails.

Egos & Assholes

I listened to a woman complain about a man she is dating, and his inflated ego. It made me laugh out loud and brought back memories of a guy I dated in college. He thought he was God's gift to this universe. His arrogance was not completely unjustified, as he was very good looking and a sharp dresser…however, the buck stopped there. On the personality meter he scored below zero, though he thought he was quite witty. One night we were going to a military ball and I was wearing a red strapless evening gown. He came to pick me up and said, "is THAT the gown you're wearing tonight?" I joked, saying, "no, this is the evening gown I usually wear to answer the door, my other gown is upstairs." He was annoyed by my sarcastic quip and went on to tell me that red was too cliché and I should be wearing a black gown. An argument ensued wherein I told him to find another date for the ball. He stormed out, but before leaving he turned around and said, "I'm the best thing that ever happened to you and you just threw me away." I stared at him wondering how an ego that large could lurk in one human body. Then I shut the door and never looked back.

I ran into him years later at a restaurant. He sauntered up to me and said, "you probably don't remember me." I answered, "sure I do… you were the best thing that ever happened to me." He blushed. I smiled and added, "and I threw you away." Then I left and never looked back again.

There are enough good-hearted, down-to-earth men out there, leaving no need for any woman to tolerate such egotism. Egos are like assholes, full of hot putrid air!

Long Live the Queen

I don't know why it is, but for some reason women think we should feel overwhelmed with joy upon our husband's reappearance into the home after a lengthy business trip. We should feel a desire to run to him and blissfully embrace him with wholehearted thankfulness upon his homecoming. We should leap passionately into his arms, smothering him with kisses! We should beg him never to leave again for we can scarcely scrape by without him!

Keep THAT dream alive!

Unless you are a Stepford Wife or live in Beaver Cleaver Land this is not reality. The real picture is more like this… He leaves on a business trip, leaving you to run the household, tend to the children, do all the carpooling, cook, clean, help with homework, bathe the kids, read to the kids, play with the kids, and handle any unforeseen malfunction which occurs while he's away. Then, if you work you scramble to get yourself ready and go to your own job. Let's face it…you do most of this when he's in town… so doing it when he's gone isn't a big change. The subtle difference is when he is out of town you lose your buffer zone. You don't get to take a breath. You have no back-up in the home. The kids know it. You know it. So everything functions like a military base on heightened alert. Everyone in the home knows the schedule and operates accordingly. It runs as a well-oiled machine…as a well-behaved kingdom and you are Queen!

Now, the King returns. From the moment he steps one foot in the door, your kingdom enters a realm of chaos. Daddy's home and Daddy doesn't know the rules in the kingdom. Daddy doesn't adhere to the schedule. Daddy tries to over-rule the Queen! Is it no wonder thoughts of mutiny enter your royal mind? You grit your teeth, forcing a smile. He obliviously smiles back, with no idea what's in your head. Tension mounts. He does things like take the kids outside to play after you just bathed them! He doesn't enforce bedtime because their "favorite" show is on… even though every mom knows the show right before bedtime is always the "favorite!" The children work him like a charm and you watch as he creates little beasts out of your once noble subjects. You get angry. He is confused. For, in his mind, the King has returned…there should be great celebration with banquet tables of food and wine! You crawl into bed his first night back and he wraps his arms around you. For a brief moment you exhale and think, it's nice to have him home, to hold you. Then his hand moves from your waist to your breast…you roll your eyes and utter, "you've got to be kidding me."

He's excited, he's missed you. You're tired, frustrated by the chaos he caused. He wants you. You want sleep.

Feeling agitated when your husband returns from a trip is normal. He brings with him extra laundry and you now have to alter your cooking to fit his taste, which is usually substantially more work than feeding yourself and the kids. Feeling frustrated upon his return is no reflection of your love for him. It just takes a couple days to adjust to the King being home. Cut yourself some slack in the guilt department and remember: Long Live The Queen!

Dancing by the Firelight

A long time ago a friend of mine wrote me a letter. In this letter they warned me not to "dance with the devil and expect to spin away untainted." Truer words could not have fallen on deafer ears at that particular moment in my life. Still, I kept this letter. Twenty years passed. My youthful outlook has faded. My untouchable attitude has been squashed. I read this letter again, but this time through the eyes of a woman who has danced with the devil and possesses the scars to prove it. A woman who has laid at the feet of the seducer and pleaded for mercy or death, caring not which one was extended. A woman with a longer list of sins then most, if not all of you, reading this blog. A woman who looks back and sees the girl who could not show love because of her own self-hatred. A woman who sees the mirror image of a life that could have been if only she hadn't allowed the girl to hide in shame. A woman repulsed by the choices of the past. And who wishes the girl would have taken that letter to heart... listened when she had the chance and had the courage to speak truth when it needed to be spoken.

We all have regrets about our past. We all wonder "what if' or ponder what could have been. I hear people say, "I don't regret the past because it shaped who I am today." I admire the peace in these people, though I cannot relate to them. I can't get my head around this statement. I regret the sins of my past. Period. I regret things I did wrong as well as wrong things that were done to me. I am who I am today solely by the mercy of God and by His hand on my life. I am grateful for this more than words can express. Even so, I cannot help but wonder how much did I miss out on while I was dancing with the devil? How could God have been using me for the purpose of good while I was being beaten down by wrong choices and embittered emotions?

The Eagles sing a song entitled "Get Over It." My favorite line in this song is: "you bitch about the present and blame it on the past, I'd like to find your inner child and kick it's little ass. Get over it!" I feel empowered by that line! Yes, I regret the past, but I refuse to wallow in that regret. Yes, I wish I had been a better person, but I use this feeling to motivate me to be a better person today. I remember the past only as a reminder that I don't want to dance with the devil again. I want to burn the pages from the book of past and dance by the firelight beneath the moon and the stars… all the while thanking God for bringing that which is most precious and amazing into my life in His perfect timing.

Wipe, Flush, Walk Away

A friend recently emailed about a topic that has weighted down my heart. I empathize with her frustration and hurt. She shared a story about a relationship that ended badly and how she felt more affected by this man's lies than the fact that their romance was over. Whether we are talking about a romantic relationship or a platonic friendship, whether it is someone of the opposite sex or the same sex, words can tear your heart out. As little kids on a playground we holler, "you take that back," when someone insults us. In real life, in the adult world, there are no "take backs." Words wound deep. They don't just stab one time, but lie dormant in your heart and fester. They rot self-confidence, eat away self-esteem and gnaw at the very fabric of self-worth. Words literally destroy people from the inside out. We can all think of a time in our life when we said something we wish we could take back. We all have skeletons tucked away, things we wish we hadn't done. It hurts when someone drags them out and shoves them in our face. It hurts when they twist the past to fit a present motive and manipulate the perspective of your heart's intent. It hurts when someone believes something about you that isn't true… or that hasn't been true for a very long time. When someone hurts us with words we begin to build walls around our heart. We begin to suspect that others in our life will hurt us in this same fashion. We begin to fear that those we have entrusted with our secrets, our past sins, the essence of our shattered humanity will one day turn on us as well. We fear their judgment and ultimately their rejection. It is no wonder, after our heart has been stomped on, that we briefly take a step back from everyone in our world. It is natural to withdraw, to want to hide and run away.

Bitter words bring deep-rooted sorrow. Sorrow that causes intermittent tears and a broken spirit. There is no logical answer as to why people callously strike out at others with a viperous tongue. There is no explanation for such hatefulness. There is no vaccine to remove the sting when you are bitten by their words. I understand your urge to defend yourself, but to what avail? Cling to the truth in your heart with white-knuckled determination. Don't allow one man's bitter words to annihilate you. He has no right to be your judge and jury. We all have a past worth running from. We all have something to hide. God is the only judge. The reason God is the only judge is because He is the only one who is able to look at the heart, not merely at words and actions. God sees intent. God knows motive. God understands desire. I encourage you to cling to this truth and let other people's judgments on your life fall where they belong… then wipe, flush and walk away.

Marital Sex Should Be a Mission, Not Merely MIsSioNary!

It may surprise you how many married couples rarely have sex or describe their sex life as mundane, predictable and even boring. The General Social Society reported that married men and women, on average, have sex with their spouse 58 times per year. Even more alarming is the report by Newsweek noting 15% to 20% of couples have sex less than 10 times a year, which is defined as a "sexless" marriage. There are many reasons and many more excuses. This book is designed to highlight the distraction, belay the excuse, remove the guilt, forego the pressure, and rekindle the spark of passion you once felt between the sheets.
We all know the sexual craving of our teenage, hormone-raging years subsides. Time has a way of diminishing desire. Adulthood brings responsibilities that distract sexual interests. Careers and parenting take exhaustion to new defining levels. These are facts of life but should not be used as excuses for prevailing lethargy. When sex drive fades from a raging bonfire to a flickering flame, it’s time to take action, to fan that flame, to get on your knees and blow on it until it gets bigger! Yeah, I went there. When women begin to view sex as a chore and men only get it when they beg for it, there is chink in the marital armor. When both partners complain that sex has become mundane, there’s a kink in the marital hose. The same position. The same movement. The same touch. The same thrust. The same moan. I’m getting bored just writing about it! No wonder a recent survey by Durex showed that people around the world (men and women alike) reported a greater desire to go out with friends than have sex with their spouse. If missionary is as good as it ever gets, I’d certainly be prone to choose dinner and movie instead. Marriage, though comfortable, too often becomes the burial ground for expressed sexuality, when by all rights it should be the birthing arena of sexual creativity.
Sex should not always be missionary but it must always be a mission in your marriage. We were created as sexual beings and marriage was designed to be the playground on which our sexuality romps.

CHAPTER ONE - Constant Craving

She pushed him down in the chair and climbed across his lap to straddle him. Pressing her body firmly against his, she kissed him deeply while moving her hips in slow circular motion. She welcomed his caress with a quiet sigh, and arched her back to allow his tongue to find its way to her breasts. Grinding passionately against him she could feel the fortitude of his unspoken response. Chills of satisfaction ran through her as he looked in her eyes with a wanting she hadn’t seen in years. ~

Now that I have your attention, let me pose this question, how long has it been since you felt desired by your spouse? How long has it been since your spouse has felt this wanting from you? Can you remember the last time you felt such intensity of passion that you couldn’t rip each other’s clothes off fast enough? There is no greater feeling than being wanted. There is no greater craving than the constancy of wanting to be wanted. It is a need that is built into the fabric of our nature. God designed human beings to require touch and intimacy. We were not created for loneliness; thus marriage struggles to survive when there is lack of affection.
Sexual intimacy is the main artery to marital communication and bonding. And communication is the key to sexual intimacy. It is difficult, if not impossible, to regularly engage in sex with your spouse and remain emotionally, mentally or spiritually disconnected. Sex causes all channels to tune in, static free. We no longer live in the simplicity of an adjust-the-rabbit-ear world. We have satellite and cable, with hundreds of viewing options and remote control. Technologically we have evolved and sexually we must do the same. Twin beds and once a week sex doesn’t cut it in today’s marriage. Our relationships demand more because our environment offers more; thus we have grown to need more. Sexual stimulation in marriage is directly tied to overall communication in marriage so you cannot unplug one without it negatively affecting the output of the other. You must have something to Input in order to expect Output. It’s basic wiring. When you stop having sex the communication conduit becomes clogged and marriage begins to suffer from shrinkage. It shrivels up like a penis in a cold pool! Seinfeld fans know what I’m talking about. Marriage requires the warmth of physical touch to survive and the constancy of sexual intimacy to thrive.
Human beings are uniquely designed to be creatures of habit. We get into a routine and soon that routine becomes our normal pattern of existence. We get up at a particular time and go to bed around a particular time. We have night time rituals like washing our face and brushing our teeth. We like to eat at certain times during the day and find ourselves adapting to feeling hungry when the noshing hour nears. It is no different with sex. Once you begin to make sexual activity a normal pattern in your life, the craving for sex will increase to meet the output. Sexual bonding is designed to reinforce itself, thereby providing stability within the marriage. You crave more as you get more which in turn drives you to pursue it more frequently.
This constant craving is innate, inborn, and instinctive. Sex was designed for the purpose of procreation but that is far from its only purpose. Research has shown there are numerous health benefits to frequent sex. These include improvement in self-esteem, deeper emotional attachment, better posture, lower incidence of illness, lowered stress and less anxiety, youthfulness, more energy, muscular contraction and better bladder control, increased circulation, greater levels of the hormones dopamine and oxytocin, proven to be natural anti-depressants, promotes cardiovascular health, reducing the risk of heart attack or stroke, helps people sleep better, not to mention the overall joy of physical satisfaction. Wow! We should be committing ourselves to frequent sex for the physical benefits alone, not to mention the relational rewards. Sex should be part of our physical exercise routine. Go run a mile then come home and ride in style! In the words of a Big & Rich song, we should all “save a horse, ride a cowboy.” Yee Haw! ~

The Failure of Feeling Forty

Audrey sat, wiping tears as they bypassed her cheeks and dripped straight to her lap. Their fight had been one of the worst in a long time. Not to mention it happened while she was still reeling from an argument two nights prior. Admittedly she was edgier than usual. Everything seemed to be causing tension to heighten inside. She wasn’t sure why. Other than to say she felt empty, there was no explanation. He seemed less patient with her as well. And why shouldn’t he be, this wasn’t the first time she’d gone off on him for seemingly no reason. Audrey’s shoulders drooped further as her heart felt weighted down by remorse. She’d slammed a door that knocked a picture off the wall and broke the glass. She knocked over chairs and even slapped him at one point during their fight. But the very worst part was his response when she yelled that he should just divorce her. For the first time ever, he seethed back, “you might get the divorce you’re asking for!” His words instantly broke her. She fell into a heap of uncontrollable sobs which lasted throughout the night. Even today she sat, unable to think about his comment without her eyes welling with tears and that sickening feeling rising up in the pit of her stomach.
The truth is she loves him. There is no one else nor does she want anyone else. Still, she can’t help but feel unattractive and at times unwanted. Something deep down feels unsettled and unfulfilled. Everything she does feels futile. Everything she enjoys to do is considered a frivolous time consumer, providing no monetary value to their lives. She feels like a failure. Approaching the age of forty she reflects on her life and there is little accomplishment and no achievement worthy of mention. Life is half over and she has done nothing. Nothing. Audrey has tried to explain this to her husband. She’s cried in his arms but her heart has not been seen nor the agony of her soul heard. Last night the frustration of being unable to make him understand came to a head, and she exploded in rage and heartache. She feels let down and unnoticed. She feels everything in their life revolves around his schedule, his work, his desires. “I make the money,” he has said matter-of-factly at times when she has complained about his work schedule. “And what do I make,” she has wondered so many times. Dinner. Carpool. Runs to the grocery store. Nothing of consequence. Nothing of meaning. Nothing worthy of recognition. It all feels like nothing. The failure engulfs her and she falls to her knees weeping again.