Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Order me water, lemonade or tea

Several people wanted to know after reading yesterday's "Power to Overcome" devotion what drink I switched to when I decided to stop drinking diet soda. Evidently I'm not the only one that finds that stuff addictive and wants free of its merciless, sweet, bubbly grip!

I switched to tea, yall. All kinds of tea. Green tea, rooibos tea, herbal tea, and black tea (only if decaf). Tea has health benefits that soda does not - it is made from a natural plant and water after all.

This also helped me transition off caffeine. Did you know decaf black tea has about 3 mg of caffeine per cup whereas soda has about 37 per cup? Herbal teas have none. I was tired (sorry for the pun) of my energy level being tied to caffeine.

Honestly, I didn't feel real great for several days during my diet cola/caffeine detox but it wasn't that bad. (Just pray for help and take Tylenol or naps as needed.) I'm really glad I did it.

How this started for me was I saw a book at the start of the year called "The Ultimate Tea Diet." I flipped through it for an hour or so. I learned a lot about tea there and decided to make the switch from cola (I didn't do the tea diet plan). I bought a pretty glass pitcher at World Market and started keeping it in the fridge filled with decaf cold-brewed Lipton tea, lightly sweetened. I got diet cola out of the house.

At restaurants I ordered water with lemon or iced tea instead of cola. I asked for decaf tea if possible and unsweetened if possible. Here in the south they put lots of sugar in tea!! It tastes yum but I knew all that sugar would make me want more sugar. And I wanted to get use to drinking something less sweet than my diet cola.

From there I branched out and tried different teas and sweeteners. Some I've liked, others I didn't - I send those boxes to work with my husband to put in the break room for anyone who wants them. Since you asked, here are some that I like:

If I want a healthy tasting brew, I make Celestial Seasoning's Decaf Green Tea. I like it best with no sweetener, which is a fact that still amazes me.

When I want a more dessert-tasting cup, I brew Celestial Seasoning's Bengal Spice. It's cinnamony good. I put the natural sweeter stevia in it.

Else I make Harvest Herb Company's Chocolate Chai rooibos or Caramel Apple rooibos. By the way, my husband makes caramel apple pancakes using some of this tea and thinly sliced apples.

If I need help unwinding at night, I brew Celestial Seasoning's Sleepy Time herbal tea. I put the natural sweetener Xylitol in it.

At our local tea room I discovered I love organic Kyoto Rose Cherry Festival green tea, and I can buy it there or order it online. It smells terrific and tastes a bit fruity. Meanwhile, I discovered I do not like blueberry or blackberry flavored teas.

Most Sundays at the coffee bar at my church I get a cup of hot water and brew China Mist's Simply Mint tea they have there, which I adore. It's good iced too. Fresh tasting, like gum.

Now I carry a tea bag packet and a sweetener packet in my purse - but not because tea rules me the way diet cola did. :) And when I want a change from teas, I opt for lemonade (I make it fresh with Splenda). I tried making fresh limeade but didn't care for that much.

I've since made additional changes in my diet for the better but I started with breaking my addiction to Diet Coke earlier this year. Oh, and I didn't gain weight as I'd feared. I actually lost a couple lbs. I now pretty much avoid colas and stuff with aspartame. The other day at a picnic I picked up a filled glass with what I thought was water and took a sip. It was actually Sprite and I couldn't believe how (overly) sweet it tasted. After a second sip I didn't want any more.

You might not like any of these tea flavors at all. I assure you, none of them taste like diet soda! But for me it was worth it to keep trying things until I found some I liked. And the best part is I no longer crave cola. Let me know if you try ditching the fizzy stuff and we can encourage each other in the comment section here. Also let me know if you've got any good tea recs for me!

Monday, June 22, 2009

A Surpassing Love

God's love is passionate and strong. Not lukewarm. Not indifferent. Not even tame - it's tender, yet fierce. It burns strong and bright ... fervently and intimately for you. It will follow you to the ends of the earth, and your time upon it.

It goes to the cross for you - to free you from sin.
“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us.”
1 John 3:16a

This is the love your God has for you. Grab a hold of it today. It has the power to overcome. In fact, it is the most transformational force in the universe.

Listen to what He'd say to you today:

"I have loved you, my people, with an everlasting love.
With unfailing love I have drawn you to myself."
~ Jeremiah 31:3

Insert your name in place of "my people" and memorize this verse this week. When you grab hold of this Love, it changes you. Just like it did the psalmists:

Psalm 42:6-8

When my soul is in the dumps, I rehearse everything I know of you,

From Jordan depths to Hermon heights, including Mount Mizar.

Chaos calls to chaos, to the tune of whitewater rapids.

Your breaking surf, your thundering breakers crash and crush me.

Then God promises to love me all day, sing songs all through the night!

My life is God's prayer.
Psalm 89:1-2

Your love, God, is my song, and I'll sing it! I'm forever telling everyone how faithful you are.

I'll never quit telling the story of your love—how you built the cosmos and guaranteed everything in it.

Your love has always been our lives' foundation, your fidelity has been the roof over our world.

Are you looking for someone to sing over you? To unfailingly love you 24/7? To be your solid foundation? To faithfully protect you? Here He is. Your Prince. Your Deliverer.
Your God.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

A Couple Questions

1) If we were all sitting in the same room together and I asked you if your appearance - how you physically look - was important to you, would you nod your head yes or no? Does how you look affect how you feel about yourself, or even your mood in general?

2) Now let me ask this, do you ever get frustrated with how your husband looks? Does his hair, toenails or fashion sense disturb you? When he looks sloppier than you think he should - like for a holiday or a important family event - do you feel like it reflects on you somehow? Ever feel like if you were more important to him he would make more effort to clean up a little nicer?

I'm preparing the next post in the Why Men Cheat series but I wanted to get some feedback from women on these questions first. So fire away in the comments section, and hit anonymous if you want. As always, thanks for being so honest with me here.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Take that Woman Some Flowers

Love this comment left on the last post:

“I am a bald, pudgy middle aged guy whose wife somehow makes me believe after nearly 30 years that I am the only man in the world. I had never thought of it before, but a great deal of my confidence and the success it has driven in my professional career is the desire and respect I get from her. I think you are on to something."

I hope he brings his wife some flowers next week, or surprises her with a nice dinner out this weekend!

Notice he mentioned his physical appearance, and the fact that he is no Paul Newman, or Brad Pitt, or Zac Effron (depending on your age). Yet that doesn’t ultimately matter to her. He wasn’t always bald or middle-aged, he was her beloved - the one who chose her from among the others to be his. And after nearly 30 years of life together, I image she chooses to still see that guy when she looks at him.

I think it's really important to remember why you said, "I do."

This week we'll be talking here about what the men in the research had to say about their wives' appearance. I know you're interested ...

Monday, June 8, 2009

Why Men Cheat - pt 2

Ever wonder why exactly husbands cheat? I offer the following statistics from M. Gary Neuman's research with a diverse population of 25,000 men from 48 states. You can learn more in his book "The Truth About Cheating."

If you missed part one of this series, check it out here or scroll down.

Again I want to start with this quote: "Of the men who cheated, 69% never thought it was even a possibility they would cheat on their wives." In other words, most of these men were in love with the woman they married and never planned to stray.

Let me also begin with the caveat that cheating is a sin - their sin, not their wives' sin. Nonetheless, I think it is helpful to hear what they had to say about going from a guy who never expected to cheat, to one who did.

Forty percent of the men cited sexual dissatisfaction as a reason for their infidelity - though only 8% said that was the main reason they cheated. When asked about the sexual dissatisfaction within their marriage that contributed to their choice to go elsewhere, they're responded like this:

  • 48% said Sex with my wife was too infrequent.

  • 26% said Sex with my wife was unsatisfying.

  • 15% said My wife had significantly neglected her appearance.

  • 11% said Other.

Maybe you looked at that "too infrequent" answer topping the list, and thought, "Uh huh, just as I suspected. He is insatiable!" But hang on Bessie, we'll get to that topic for sure. Let's start off looking at the other responses first.

26% said sex with their wife was unsatisfying - which is kinda brutal to read, right? Are you wondering if your husband would describe sex with you as "unsatisfying?"

Now, I imagine some of these men may have developed unrealistic ideas about sex -from the media, bragging/lying friends, pornography, etc. That kind of thing can taint a perfectly good sex life. And I would not recommend a wife engage in deviant sexual behavior to please her husband.

But for others, I imagine their frustration was while their wives were tolerant about participating in sex, they weren't really interested. Continual lack of interest - even though it may just be that you are tired - weighs on him. He (like you I suspect) wants to feel desired.

In fact, Shauti Feldman's research with 1000 men revealed that when a husband feels rejected sexually, he not only feels his wife is rejecting him physically, but that she is somehow also rejecting him as a whole - a husband, provider and man. Illogical? Yes! However, as a woman, you know all too well that emotions and insecurities feel real whether they are logical or not.

The flip side of this, according to Jim Burns, is "when men feel their wives desire them sexually, it has a profound effect on the rest of their lives. It gives them an increasing sense of confidence and well-being that carries over into every other area of his life." As I read this I thought, "Wow, that is quite a gift a wife can give - and it benefits her ultimately too." ... not really something we should be totally indifferent about when we've pledged our life before God to be his help-meet. I'm just saying.

Maybe you're protesting, "But he doesn't make it fun for me, and it's hard to get real interested in it. There is no romance to it." I once heard a comedienne comment that she liked to talk during sex. She said she mostly said things like, "Beige ... I think I'll paint the ceiling beige." It was funny, and yet sad.

Chances are, he wants to help you with upping your interest but isn't sure how. Jim and Shaunti both reveal that most men want to romance you and sweep you off your feet but they feel inadequate to do so (they hate to feel inadequate by the way). Jim writes, "Men want to be romantic, but they just doubt their ability to pull it off. They are plagued by internal hesitations, perceiving the risk of humiliation and failure as too high." So maybe we can convince them that their risk of failure is not as high as they think?

And for a percentage of the 26%, I imagine their wives are just uncomfortable sexually. Maybe they really are "bad in bed" as the saying goes. They may feel uneasy, tentative, awkward, unsure of themselves or how to do this. But this is something that can be changed if she is willing to work on it - it's a learning curve. This is something the two can work on together even. There are many helpful books on the subject- look here to find some highly rated ones from Christian authors.

Or, some of these wives may be struggling after experiencing prior sexual abuse - which breaks my heart. The good news is there are churches and counselors available to help a gal sort this awful experience out.

Let me once again put this in perspective, the vast majority of these cheating husbands did not stray because sex with their wives wasn't thrilling. (Only 26% of the 40% of men who cited sexual dissatisfaction said this.) So I do NOT want you to read this and feel you must transform yourself into a Victoria's Secret vixen to keep your man (more on that later this week).

If you're up for discussing this - which means either you are brave, or know how to use the anonymous comment option :) - feel free to post a comment or question.

PS. If you're at the magazine rack, check out the article called "Vanilla Sex" in Best You magazine this month.
PSS. Is that not the coolest looking bed in the photo?!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Happy girl

Decided to hold off until the start of the week on the topic of physical intimacy in marriage - it's a big topic. Plus, readers are still finding my Soul Mates devo from this week and responding to it ... glad I'm not the only one who has trouble getting to all their emails on a given day. Or maybe people are just forwarding it to friends. I'm praying it reaches everyone who needs it.

Tonight darling daughter was invited to an end-of-school-year party from 4:00 - 8:00 pm and then, surprisingly, a neighbor offered to have our son over and take him to the movies during that time. Which meant a 4 hour window for a spontaneous Saturday night date night! Rick and I were ecstatic.

We stopped in at a gourmet shop we go in from time to time and the owners there recommended a fabu French restaurant to us. Yes, it was a bit pricey. More expensive than we would have gone to on our own had we planned this date night, but we felt obligated to try the place they raved about. Oh, wow. I'm telling you, the food was soooo good I'm considering sending them a thank-you card.

Instead I thanked Rick for the yummy meal and the great conversations we had. Date night + French restaurant + laughter with Rick = super happy girl.

Off to tuck the kids in bed ~ catch y'all a little later.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The Male Psyche (& heart)

Before I move on with the survey results with the 25,000 men and what they had to say about physical intimacy, I want to linger a moment on the emotional intimacy topic.

Christian writer Shaunti Feldhahn did some research of her own. She interviewed 1,000 men to find out what they wished their wives knew. Check out three of her findings:

1) Men would rather feel unloved than inadequate or disrespected. Husbands need to know that their wives respect them both privately and publicly. Men thrive when they know that their wives admire them, trust them and believe in them. In fact, most men would rather sense the loss of loving feelings from their wives than to be disrespected by them according to this research. Note, this can't be empty flattery but must be honest respect - find something you can genuinely praise and thank him for.

2) A man's anger is often a response to feeling disrespected by his wife. When a husband becomes angry with his wife, he may not come out and say, "You're disrespecting me and that upsets me!" But, there is a good chance he is feeling stung by something his wife has said or done which he considers humiliating. Gals, this is frequently the source of those marital spats that seem to us to "come out of nowhere." His "disrespected meter" can be so sensitive that we frequently have no idea we are tripping it with what we say.

Notice I used the words "often" and "feeling" in this one. I'm not looking to make us feel guilty, or to blame his anger issues on us. However, the Bible does tell us specifically to respect our husbands - clearly God knows this is big for men.

3) Men are more insecure than they let on. Men can fear they aren't cutting it in life ... as a man, a provider, a husband, a lover, a father, a leader, a Christian, etc. Again, they may never vocalize this, but they feel it and revealed it in this research. The antidote to their insecurity? Plugging into God, of course. But also, affirmation from you - which makes them feel secure and confident in all areas of their life. When men don't receive affirmation from their wives, they will often seek it elsewhere, or become vulnerable to the affirmation other women may offer them.

Again, I said "often." Please realize these are factually-based generalizations that are helpful to know, but cannot be applied or used to explain every case. Nonetheless, it is great food for thought - and action - for us wives.

You can find more in Feldhahn's book For Women Only: What You Need to Know About the Inner Lives of Men. Also, other good resources have been mentioned in the comments of the Why Mean Cheat post below, so check that out if you haven't.
Hang on, girls, the discussion of physical intimacy is coming.
(um ... how did I get myself into this?) :)

Soul Mates reaction

Wow, what an big response to yesterday's devotion Soul Mates about affairs. Many of you shared your story at my Another Touchy Topic post, or at the P31 devo blog, or in a private email to me.

Thank you for opening up about your experiences, and offering your heart-felt advice.

It was truly moving to read. And it made we want to forget my pet peeves, get over my irritations and drop my demanding expectations of them and just throw my arms around my husband and family and hold them close.

I want you to know that I got on my knees in the floor of my office yesterday and prayed for every single marriage represented in those comments and emails. Oh how I wish I could send every one of you the devotional book His Princess Bride: Love Letters from Your Prince. I'll respond to your emails as I can this week - there are a lot of them, and I don't have all the answers, but I will respond.

And I'll be back later with more of the research results from the survey of 25,000 men.
Hugs ~ Rachel

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Why Men Cheat

Ever wonder what drives a married man to stray? You might be surprised.

The following info comes from M. Gary Neuman's research with a diverse population of 25,000 men from 48 states. You can learn more in his book The Truth About Cheating.

Let me start with this quote: "Of the men who cheated, 69% never thought it was even a possibility they would cheat on their wives." In other words, most of these men are not "players," but decent men who were deeply in love with the woman they married ... until something changed.

Let's start looking into that part of the research.

Perhaps you are already assuming frequency of sex changed after the honeymoon period and that was his reason for cheating. Well, let's look at what they said when asked the following question:

What sort of marital dissatisfaction contributed to your infidelity?

  • 48% said Mostly Emotional Dissatisfaction.

  • 32% said Equally Emotional and Sexual Dissatisfaction.

  • 8% said Primarily Sexual Dissatisfaction.

  • 12% said "other" or that there was no marital dissatisfaction of any type.

    • So, only 8% of the men strayed just for the sex. Meanwhile, a whopping 80% of cheating husbands said a lack of emotional fulfillment within their relationship with their wife contributed to their decision to stray. Don't miss this - they weren't just looking for sex or excitement elsewhere, they were looking for love ... admiration ... companionship ... appreciation.

      Are you surprised?

      The cheating men lamented that over time, their wives stopped showing them love with simple gestures like a heart-felt compliment, a quick shoulder rub after a hard day at work, or taking the time to cook his favorite meal. They said touching decreased both inside and outside of the bedroom. They reported they no longer felt appreciated by their spouse, and felt no matter what they did, their wives weren't satisfied. In short, their wives were making them feel like a disappointment.

      Work harder; earn more money. - Spend more time with the kids.

      Help out more with the housework. - You aren't doing that correctly.

      Later this week we will look at what these men had to say about physical intimacy, but I don't want us to miss this huge lesson about men and emotional intimacy. We tend to think of women as the emotional ones, but it is a grave mistake to assume that a husband doesn't have a tender part of his heart that craves nurture and appreciation from the woman he loves.

      You'd probably be amazed at how much your touch, and your opinion of him means to him.

      So wives, your challenge for today is to make sure your husband unmistakably feels your appreciation. Think for just a minute, I bet you can come up with one or two ways you can connect with your husband emotionally and show him you care. Feel free to leave your plans or ideas in the comments so we can all be inspired.

      I'll be back with more from this research by Thursday. Meanwhile, I'm looking forward to your reactions!

      Monday, June 1, 2009

      Old Wives Tell Lies

      Chicken soup is good for a cold, right? It seems to have done nothing for my cold this weekend - where are all those old wives that tell this tale? I have a chicken bone to pick with them.

      I spent my weekend moaning, trying to breathe, sleeping and blowing my nose. My nose is so sore ... I've literally rubbed the top layer of skin off my nostrils with Vick's scented tissues. Don't you hate it when that happens? Don't you hate it even more when people talk about it on their blog? Eww.

      Then there was the moment on Saturday when I thought I had swine flu because I read there were 2 confirmed cases of it in my county. And I thought, "Surely chicken soup cannot help with pig flu, maybe I need to be eating bacon?" I was under the influence of decongestants you understand.

      Anyway, shutting up now ... going to finalize a batch of devotions for P31. (If you notice any typos in the coming weeks' devotions, you can blame it on swine flu and Sudafed.) Perhaps I'll take yet another nap when I'm done with that. But I'll be back tomorrow with a post you seriously don't want to miss.