Barriers to effective communication in Marriage.

A few days ago, I was thinking of “barriers to effective communication within marriages. I started brainstorming, looking at my marriage and thinking of the experience of others. I must say my biblical knowledge quickly influenced the direction of my thoughts. I decided to introduce the discussion on my Facebook page and the responses sent me to a deeper place and I had to put put letters to screen :).

As a result of my deep thinking and some of my friends on Facebook sharing their heart on the matter, I decided to share four possible barriers to communication within the Marriage Relationship.

  1. Pride – Pride literally cripples you. It has nothing good to offer. I am speaking of the pride that hinders us from doing what is right. The Pride that is more concerned about how we look on the outside and how people perceive us. The Pride that distorts reality trapping us in a world where our identity is defined by how we dress, the type of vehicle we drive, who our friends are, where we work and our achievements. We are therefore seeking to keep up appearances. We may get away with keeping up appearances on the outside but at home it can really hurt us and destroy the relationships that really matter to us. May I suggest that instead of keeping up appearances at home, we seek to practice accepting accountability for our wrongs, even those that make us ashamed and disappointed in ourselves. Accept that you have flaws, weaknesses and nasty habits to work on. Do not pretend to be who you are not, do not be afraid to face your sins head-on. Many times our Spouses are a blessing to us because they are one of the few persons who would tell us the truth about ourselves. I suggest you listen! Don’t let pride rob you from building a closer relationship with your spouse.
  2. Distractions – Mobile phones and all it affords – We are in an age of technology at our finger tips. It is like an itch that we think we need to keep scratching. It is a well established and accepted distraction and I believe many couples are struggling with it. Let each man examine himself and pursue change where applicable. Avoid using your phones when your spouse is around and available to chat or to be engaged in doing something with you. Whether it is an opportunity to eat together, or watch the news together or just to be silly together, grab that opportunity to engage each other.
  3. Passing judgement before hearing the story – Oh how we love to jump to conclusions before hearing the whole story. “He is always coming home late because he doesn’t like being around me!” So you responded to what you think is the reason for him arriving home late, by keeping to yourself and being extra quiet. He is trying to speak to you and you have gone ice cold. Here is another scenario; “She ended the call because I came into the room.” On that evening you had planned together to work on a family project but instead you started to lecture your wife about “Trust”, she get’s upset as she feels judged and storms out the room. One more scenario, “He told his mom what I told him last night, that is why she did not call me today.” We often act on these hunches, assumptions and wrong perceptions. It is important that we act on facts, ask questions if you need to know what really transpired, but don’t draw conclusions from what seems to be the truth.
  4. This is the final one and it is a big one; failure to forgive. One’s failure to forgive their spouse would certainly be a barrier. Failure to forgive means one spouse is holding something against the other, something they did or did not do, that the husband or wife really disapproved of. Unforgiveness leads one to hate and playing the blame game. It is like a big wall that hinders your relationship from blossoming, from prospering, from moving on. It can lead to behaviours that can cause the relationship to deteriorate further, all because he/she chooses not to let go. Communication between both parties becomes complicated and painful. Solution? Get on your knees and ask God to help you to forgive your spouse. Seek help. Be vulnerable enough to tell your spouse how you feel, let them know that you want to but it is proving difficult. Act against your feelings, love your spouse even when it is hard to forgive and try not to allow your past experiences to negatively influence your communication with your spouse.

The 13th chapter of 1 Corinthians is a lovely chapter to read and reflect on as couples. Read verses 4 to 7. Love is patient, kind, does not envy, is not proud, avoids questionable behaviours, does not think evil of others and more.

I am often amazed how we communicate to our loved ones with such disrespect at times and we make such effort to communicate respectfully to strangers. May you be inspired today to love your spouse enough to take the time to practice the behaviours that would enrich the quality of your communication daily.

Start off by greeting your spouse in the kindest, loving, sweetest way and mean it from the heart. Don’t send mixed messages, don’t be silent when you should be speaking and please be careful what comes out of your mouth. Let your words uplift and inspire your spouse.

A safe place for children

I am often saddened when I hear stories of dysfunctional homes, abandoned children, children who are neglected and exposed to danger by their parents and children who are simply lost all because they have not known unconditional love and acceptance.

You see, as parents our role is to provide a safe place for our children to exist, to discover themselves and to develop into independent, sober adults who can make sound decisions that would lead to great quality lives.

What is a “safe place”?

That safe place I am referring to is the HOME. Most children return to a home and the ideal scenario is that they should be very happy to return home.

As a parent myself, I often have to remind myself that I cannot control what takes place outside of our home, whether it is unfair teachers, unreasonable adults who judge all children the same, immature Christians who play holy but take pleasure in destroying the character of others, men and women who prey on innocent children, or advertisements and activities that encourage the use of alcohol, nakedness and irresponsible behaviour.

I have come to terms with the reality of this life. I have also recognised that I have the power to influence my kids positively and I must use the advantage of the Home, the fact that we all live in the same space.

I feel it for parents who are struggling. There are those of us who may not describe ourselves as struggling but our experiences can be described more as challenges. Everyone has to face the struggle/challenge of creating that “safe place” and keeping it safe. There are many negative influences out there, seeking to snatch the opportunity for greatness from our children. I wish to share a few tips with us on how we can create that “safe place” at home so that our children can pursue a meaningful life now and in the future.

  1. As a parent, be present at home as much as possible. Try to cut down the unsupervised times spent at home by your children, even as teenagers. When it is totally necessary for you to be out, provide a structure for them while they are at home, give them tasks to accomplish. It is also necessary to follow-up and monitor them with a phone call or two.
  2. Know your children’s friends. You can get to know them by visiting their school, attending school activities, sending little goodies for them at school, and inviting them out with your children.
  3. Practice self-control as a parent, avoid shouting, yelling, the cold treatment and other immature behaviours. In other words grow up, get help if you need it. These kind of behaviours push children away, creating a dangerous distance. If your children are not ready to chat with you everyday about their experiences at school, check yourself first. Maybe you are to harsh, jumping to conclusions before listening. Remember you were once young and they are not yet grown.
  4. Work-out any problems you may have with your spouse privately, do not allow your children to be negatively affected by any disagreements between yourself and your spouse (for those who are married of course).
  5. Do not leave your children home with strangers or anyone you are uncomfortable with, they are better of home alone, if it is really necessary.
  6. Try as much as possible to serve home-cooked meals. Give them the experience of good, tasty food that is safe and healthy to eat.
  7. Speak only words that are uplifting to your children. Be their biggest Cheer-Leader! Even when they need to be disciplined, let them know that you love them deeply and desire the best for them, that is why discipline is necessary.
  8. Give them a sound spiritual education. Point them to the Scriptures and to beginning a relationship with God, not to religion and a life of pretense and religious formalities. Let them know that there are standards for right and wrong and God is the absolute authority. Introduce them to a God of love who can be trusted with their future because he knows all things. Talk about the Word of God at home and apply it to daily living.
  9. As parents, seek to be good examples, so that your children would not suffer the consequences of your sins. Give them that chance to start life without baggage, they would create their own anyhow.
  10. Finally, build great memories at home, have fun! plan lots of family activities and get the children to contribute their ideas as well.

There is so much more that can be said but, I prefer to keep it short. As short as it may be, let it inspire you to grow as a parent and work towards building a safer place for your children.

Finding strength in the Joy of the Lord!

It was Sunday morning and from the comfort of my bed, I looked outside and observed ‘What a beautiful day it is!”. There was absolutely no need for me to hustle that morning, it was a day for taking it slow, to refresh my soul and to receive inspiration from God’s word.

I decided to look-up verses on “the joy of the Lord” and this exercise did wonders for me.

My hope in God’s promises were renewed, I felt energised and excited to continue pursuing His plan for my life, I became filled with great expectations. Even my countenance changed from gloomy, to bright.

What really happened? Were those verses magical? Well, they are embedded in truth, power and hope, so I guess they are more than magical, they are majestic, like the Author himself.

Phillipians 4:4 was the first verse I read:

Rejoice in the Lord alway; and again I say rejoice – KJV

Rejoice in the Lord always; I say it again. Rejoice! – NIV

Oh, this little verse lifted my spirit and reminded me that despite my circumstances and how much I really don’t feel like focusing on God’s joy, I need to try anyhow, because it always works. It reminded me that my joy is not a product of my possessions or my achievements but knowing that God loves me, has a plan for me and I can trust him. It is understanding that pleasing God first keeps me joyful.

Another verse that lifted my spirit was Psalm 5:11 -KJV “But let those that put their trust in thee rejoice: let them ever shout for joy, because thou defendest them: let them also that love thy name be joyful in thee.

Here is the NIV : “But let all who take refuge in you be glad, let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you”

We cannot ignore that there is a condition for experiencing God’s joy. We must make that choice to love His name, to find contentment and pleasure in His character, in His mission and in what He has written in the Bible for our benefit.

I am convinced that if some people could only experience the joy of the Lord, they would not give up on their marriage, they would not consider suicide, the would not abuse others and the list goes on and on.

There are so many verses that talk about the joy of the Lord, I am just getting started.

I inspire you to pursue the Joy of the Lord.

Am I scornful? Do I take the things of God lightly? Part I

Please enjoy this journey with me as I scan through the Psalms and share snippets of the well written poetic pieces inspired by God himself. Because I love photography so much, I would crown each post with a lovely picture of my homeland, Grenada.

The goal here is to remind us that the Word of God is beautiful, exciting and still true, still relevant and necessary for good success. We all have great dreams but what are great dreams without the purest of knowledge and wisdom?

So let’s begin chroming the Psalms. Today, when I woke up I felt a spark of excitement as I reached for my big black bible. Yes, It was another heavenly idea strolling my way: “I am going to scan through the book of Psalms and look for truths that would remind me of how precious this Book is!”
I reached for my B.I.B.L.E and started at the start, the very beginning! Psalm Chapter 1. It has been a while since I read Psalm Chapter one; such a great Psalm. Thinking about it, it is quite poetic!

Psalm Chapter 1:
God’s word says I am blessed just because I decide to discipline myself by rejecting ungodly advice; advice that is questionable, advice that is contrary to God’s instructions, advice that would lead me outside of God’s plan for my life. I am blessed just trying to be wise! Here is verse 1:

“Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.”

I researched the word “scornful” before, but my memory needed to be refreshed so I checked it out again. Then I realised, I didn’t want to stop researching the word, but I needed to get ready for work.

Nevertheless the scornful represents someone who rejects God’s authority, scoffs at godly truths, practices and principles. The Scorner makes light of the things of God and the people of God. If we associate too much with the scornful or the scorner, we can be negatively influenced and begin to take God and his principles lightly as well. Imagine you claim to love God and you are sitting with your “friends” sharing demeaning jokes about his servants, about his church and about his work? Scary, right? But it can be easily done.
Sometimes we think we are so liberated and educated that we become puffed up and begin to look down on the faithful, the upright and the man or woman who is still willing to talk about Jesus!
So here is the question? Are you walking or listening to wise counsel, drawing your boundary lines so that you are not influenced by the Scornful?

Featured picture: True Blue Bay Resort – overlooking the St. George’s University, True Blue, St. George.

Happy New Year!

My new year started off with me chilling with family, Mom, Dad, one of my brothers, my dear husband and my kids. I am amazed how the company of my family can give me so much energy, so much comfort, so much refreshing. Happy New Year to my family!

I slept in late and probably awoke some time after 8:00 a.m.; two hours after I was in the kitchen cooking up a storm. I am always excited about cooking for family; there is nothing so fulfilling as when food is served and there are rich discussions, and hearty laughter all fitting together perfectly with the choice dishes of the day. You later glance at their plates and you are pleased to see that the food you prepared, with such passion, was devoured. Good food, good times.

I love cooking for my family! ūüôā

Among the many dishes I prepared, with the help of my kids, was a Lasagna dish. This time I did a few things differently and I really loved the outcome. Usually, I would place a layer of shells first before adding a layer of meat, then cheese. This time, I placed minced meat with the sauce at the bottom, as the first layer. I then applied the first layer of shells followed by a second layer of meat & sauce and another layer of cheese. Another thing I did differently, was to mix chopped celery leaves with the cheese. In all I had three layers of cheese and 4 layers of meat with sauce.

My family really enjoyed my Lasagne!

Later in the evening, I was sitting on my porch in the company of my family and I started to think of how important food is to a family affair. The reality is the big family moments were big because good food was a part of the occasion; it is important that we understand the connection between food and great family moments. Food can make or break the occasion; food makes it better. Or let me correct this statement by saying tasty, attractive, well prepared food, makes it better.

I am sure many of you are right this moment cherishing great moments enjoyed during the Christmas Season and on New Years Day. Cherish those memories and treasure family and friends.

The next time you are having guests over, plan your menu well, cook with heart, passion and love. Be sure to prepare more than enough, honour your guest with good food.

As the New Year unfolds, go all out and do your best for the upcoming birthdays, anniversaries and all those special occasions to come.

My wish for you is that “2019” will be a year when you would invest more into seeing great family moments happen. It may require you to up your game or improve your cooking skills. My desire for you is that you would cherish your family and your friends even more in “2019”.

Happy New Year All!

Work towards creating fulfillment in your marriage! Believe it can happen and it will!

When you believe that your marriage could be better, you are willing to exercise patience with your spouse and you are willing to invest time and money towards seeing your faith come to life.

In my own experience, I have been the victim of boring cycles which are created by life’s rat race; sleep, wake, prepare for work and school, go to work and school, return home and if there is any energy left, prepare for the next day.   If no energy left , well…….we’ll figure it out right?  Something or someone is neglected.

However, the sad truth is that we do get comfortable with those cycles and getting comfortable is not really good or healthy for our marriage or our family.    But the glowing truth is that, deep down, we never stop loving each other and we really desire more.  What happens is that many of us don’t try hard enough or make the effort to ensure that the quality of our marriage improves. We succumb to the pressures of life and rather than see it as an opportunity to become more disciplined, we throw our hands up thinking “I can’t do any better”. “I am so beat”, “He/She understands”.

In this article my aim is to encourage you to constantly work towards a richer, fuller marriage, amidst the rat race.    Take control of your day, your activities and your time and don’t forget that it is ok to have limits.   Decide, when you have put in enough extra hours at work and it is time to head home. Constantly keep in mind, the need for balance and the need to give attention to your spouse. Yes, your spouse needs attention to.

Let’s look at a few practical ways to enrich our marriage even when there are crazy schedules coming at us:

  1. Regularly update your spouse: Every moment, whether you are just calling to say hi or to remind your spouse of an errand, or you are at home in the kitchen fixing something  to eat, update. Maybe the gardener had to postpone his appointment to clean the yard this week-end, update.  Maybe, your sister said she would pass by tomorrow, update.   Maybe your Pastor invited you to attend a meeting at the church on short notice, update.  If you both have a habit of updating each other or mentioning “stuff” through-out the day, you would most likely know the same thing, most times, and it is less likely that either of you would feel left out, or get upset as a result of not being in the know.   This can avoid conflict and clashes of events and activities.   If you practice updating regularly you are actually helping to strengthen bonds and trust between you and your spouse.   Tell him what’s on, all the time; tell her what’s on, all the time. Leave no room for your spouse to wonder “What is she not telling me?” Do you remember when we were younger and we were excited about sharing everything with our best friend? It’s the same thing actually!
  2. Do not alienate your spouse; make him or her part of your work-life as much as possible.    For example, if your Employer is having a staff party and you are allowed to invite your spouse, do not hesitate to do so.   Many employers today are beginning to understand the value of recognising  and showing an interest in the families of their employees.  This would allow you and your spouse to share work-related experiences together, while he or she is allowed to get to meet your co-workers and build an appreciation for the caliber of persons you work with.
  3. You must sacrifice your own personal time for time together.  Put off the beauty regime or the lime with the guys, ignore the phone, the television, the personal projects and just do nothing but chill with your spouse.   If he or she is eating, chill on the chair close by, if he or she is enjoying their favourite TV show, get comfy next to them and enjoy it too.   If he or she decides to read, grab a book and read too.  :).   It does make sense, try it.   Just being in each other’s company is enriching and provides companionship. Companionship in Marriage is always a need to be filled.
  4. Create life and memories around your spouse’s favourite things and people; for example, if your husband loves barbecue, plan a barbecue and invite a few of his close friends, if you wife loves popcorn and movies, select a good movie and get that corn popping. Maybe your husband enjoys walking the dog, join him. There is so much we can do to enrich our lives and our marriage; many of them are also simple activities that cost nothing or very little. Each one of us have the responsibility of creating life, fun, happiness and adventure. Here are some other ideas: prepare a tania-log pot under the moonlight, play table games, go bowling together, go driving, or on a road trip and visit family and shared friends, go to the grocery together, attend events together, yes, get all dressed up and go out. Volunteer to manage the Sunday School Ministry together, or the outreach programme, or the Youth Ministry. The list is endless; I am sure you may have ideas of your own.
  5. Finally, seek to understand where you spouse is at in their development and support efforts to grow, develop or rise to a higher level. The worse thing we could do as married individuals is to discourage our spouses from starting that new project, whether it is to pursue higher education or to learn a new sport or to start a bible study group or reach out to someone in need; whatever it is, if it is pure and healthy, support, support, support.

I hope these few thoughts encourage you to take steps to ensure your marriage exerts life, energy and a healthy positive spirit that would be contagious, giving hope to other married couples, who are desperately in need of it. It takes commitment, discipline and sacrifice but it is doable. Aim for better, richer and for greater. Don’t settle for mediocrity and boredom in your marriage! Be honest and admit that your marriage is not at its best and desire better always.

I love aiming for better, I love aiming for “best”. It is also part of God’s purpose for our lives; he wants us to reflect his character in how we live with our spouse daily. God is an awesome God of life, beauty and joy!

Featured picture taken from Google images.

Worship Expressions

Psalm 145 verses 1 & 2:

“I will extol thee, my God, O King; and I will bless thy name for ever and ever. Every day will I bless thee; and I will praise thy name for ever and ever.”

I think of you every day, I think of you when I awake, as I am engaged in my daily duties, in those moments when I feel overwhelmed and in those moments when I am soberly in control of my thoughts.

Daily, my hand reaches out to you, desiring your attention, your blessings, your wisdom.

My desire, like the Psalmist David, is to bless you everyday. I want to know, without a doubt, that my heart is pursuing you as a Deer pursue’s water in a dry land.

Sometimes, I think life is so unfair, corrupt and complicated, but then I remember you and there is that safe place, there is that safe place when I lay down my burdens and I look up to your face.

“Everyday” speaks of discipline, loyalty, commitment and true adoration. That’s what you deserve, all the Glory, all the Honour, all the WORSHIP, DAILY!

Faith in the “Vision”

Recently, I held a Christian Writers’ Meet-up and from the responses I have received thus far, I would say it was a success.¬† The success realised is due to God being allowed to have his way, sponsors who were willing to support and¬† most importantly Participants who trusted “The Vision”.

I have given some serious thought to the word “Vision”.¬† I have no doubt that the Vision for this Event descended from God himself.¬† ¬†Here is why:

  1.  The Vision came out of spiritual growth after personally experiencing a spiritual drought, failure and discouragement.  In other words, it represented a revival in my heart following days, weeks and months of searching the mind of God as it relates to what he thinks of me and desires of me in terms of service to humanity.
  2. The Vision was timely; It came after I was inspired to start writing in a big way, right after I started my blog and added to that, when other writers were contacted and the vision was shared with them, they were ready to jump in.¬† The discussion was not about “if” but “when”.
  3. The Vision did not die, even when I placed it on pause for a while because I wanted to be sure, it did not die; it expanded, added extensions and branches as it took root.  I had no choice but to add water to the roots and embrace the green leaves.
  4. The Vision became reality and has the potential to bear lasting fruit. When God gives us a vision, he uses our experiences to create it, marrying it with his word and his plan for us and for others.  When he gives us a vision, our finite minds are not able to grasp the full extent of it and so we must trust Him that our efforts, sacrifice and risk-taking will be worth it; fruit will come.

Be mindful that we must be first concerned about connecting with God and allowing him to feed us through his word, to build us up and to equip us to the task ahead.  He cannot give us a vision to carry out if we are distracted and unstable in our devotion towards him.   Pursuing purpose is really about pursuing God.

Everyone should be chasing after God’s peace!

Have you ever noticed how many verses in the Bible speak about Peace?

You see, in order to pursue God’s purpose in your life, you need stability, confidence, a sound mind and a clear vision and healthy relationships.¬† ¬†God’s Peace allows us to have all these and more.

Tap into God’s peace daily by reading and meditating on God’s word and talking to him through-out the day about everything that concerns you.

Here are some verses to get you hooked on God’s peace:

Proverbs 16:7

“When a man’s ways please the Lord, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him.”

Psalm 37:11

“But the meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.”

Psalm 119:165

“Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.”

Romans 5: 1-5

“Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ”

Philippians  4: 6&7

“Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God.¬†¬†And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

These are just some of the verses that would wake you up and help you realise that choosing a healthy relationship with God has awesome benefits.

Real, lasting, peace can be yours today, but you must be willing to let go of the unhealthy practices, habits and relationships that are feeding you conflict, torment and fear.¬† Instead embrace God’s word daily and allow him to guide you towards a life of true peace that even when storms arise, you would confidently walk through it, knowing that the Master of the sea is by your side.

You can’t pursue God’s purpose for your life if you do not know his Peace!.

Know God, Know Peace!