My Marriage is “meh”: 3 Thoughts to Bring You Out of “meh”

Many couples hit a season of “meh.” It’s a natural part of marriage and something we all must navigate through. But I can hear some of the thoughts already: What is “meh”?

Whenever I talk to couples about the word “meh,” I get looks as if they’ve never heard the word. That is, until I use it in a sentence. Then couples realize they hear it all the time.

What do you want for dinner? Meh.
Do you want to go out? Meh.
Would you mind if my parents visited? Meh
Are you in the in “the mood”? Meh 😒

“Meh” can get the best of us. It’s the state of indifference. It’s that place where you feel a lack of interest or enthusiasm.

Guess what? We’ve all been there. All marriages face those times where you are going through the motions and things seem “meh.” Whether the season lasts a week, a month, or longer, every marriage hits that place of needing to break out of the rut you’ve been in. But please note: The feeling of “meh”is a sensation you are feeling and not the sentence your marriage is doomed to live out.

Recently, I’ve bought a new record player for my office. There’s nothing like the sound of Benny Goodman or Myles Davis playing on vinyl in the afternoon. But lately, this has become my favorite metaphor to point marriages to.  When I put the needle down on the vinyl, it follows a groove (rut) to play a set of songs. If I want to change the song being played, I have to lift the needle of the groove.

I feel getting out of the “meh” is just that simple: you need to purposely do something to lift your marriage out of the “song” that has been playing. But, as I say so often at Kfirst, “Simple doesn’t mean it’s easy.”

Jog your memory
Of the 234 times the word “remember” is used in scripture, no book expresses it more than Psalms. From requests for God to remember His promises to moments of recalling who God is, our memories can be places where we can be recollect moments that provide hope and give us joy.

One of the greatest gifts God has given you is your memory. From remembering who God is to fantastic moments in your relationship, we need to rehearse what we know and the good we’ve experienced. Like any gift given, the devil would love to abuse it by reminding you of negative thoughts. This is where you need to “lift the needle” out of the negativity and place it in those moments of joy and victory. Those are the tracks you need to replay.

Push through the mood
As a very moody person, I tend to shy away from things I don’t “feel” like doing. One of them is running. Running is an activity I both love and loth (or love to loth). I can think of more reasons to NOT run even though I know there’s huge benefits to doing it. More often than not, Anne will tell me to “Suck it up and run. You’ll be fine once you get going.”

For the first mile, I’m complaining to myself about what else I could be doing and how I’m not going to do a “long run” that day. But around mile marker #1, my body is warmed up and I’m in a “mode.” Four miles later, I’m feeling good and glad that I got out there.

My actions produced the proper mood. As I said last Sunday, our emotions are not dictators but the indicators of what is going on in our soul. Your feelings are real and should be recognized. BUT I find that feelings follow actions. If you feel “meh,” then push though the feelings and take some healthy action steps to take.

Look at your rhythms
I think the great theologian Gloria Estefan said it best. “Eventually the rhythm is going to get you.” The patterns (habits) you live by become the rhythm of your marriage. Sometimes we get lulled by what we are just used to doing. And because “we’ve always done it that way,” “meh” sets in. Quite literally, the rhythm has gotten you.

I’ve seen it happen to churches. I see singles suffering from it. Far too many people are just in a rhythm of life that has been produced by the daily/weekly patterns they’ve developed. Someone once told me, “you can’t expect what you don’t inspect.” And until you step back to examine the patterns or habits you have, you’ll never understand what got you into “meh” or how to get out of it.

Where do you go from here? I’ve got two challenges for you:

  1. What is ONE rhythm to STOP?
    • From negativity to fixating on unhealthy things, what is one pattern to stop? Where do you need to “lift the needle out of one track” so that you can begin another?
  2. What is ONE rhythm to START?
    • Look for ways to appreciate your spouse.
    • Get a daily 10-minute reconnect time.
    • Plan a weekly date.
    • Set daily timers on your phone to send an encouraging text to your spouse.
    • Plan a weekend away.
    • Once a month, find something new to do/experience together.
    • Find a place in your local church to serve together.
    • Find a book that you can go through together.

In so many couples I encounter, people tend to think there needs to be some massive shift to rescue them out. And because of that, there is this overwhelming feeling of hopelessness because of everything that needs to change. But often, when a marriage feels stuck, it’s not a huge change that brings the new season of refreshing. Often it comes in a subtle shift.

And the subtle shift, the new pattern/habit, can cause the Titanic to miss the iceberg.

Love you all. Praying for ya as you start ONE new rhythm today.

Encourage Effort.
Celebrate Progress.
Feed Hope.

 

Thanks for letting me ramble…

BTW: My new book of my blogs came out. Click on the image to order yours!!

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“Peace out” 4 Thoughts on Leaving a Church Community

Of all of the topics pastors have asked me to write on, this one has come up a lot lately. Now let me say: I write this blog from a very full heart and a very good place.

This month, Anne and I celebrated completing 8 years at Kfirst. We are in a great season in our church community. I’m a pastor who LOVES my job. So, in essence, this blog is not the ranting of a wounded leader but the ramblings of a pastor who loves the Church (not just Kfirst). My heart is for the Kingdom of God. I serve Christ and desire for people to find and follow Him.

But I often find myself fielding calls from a pastors about those who have left the church community they lead. A vast majority of the time, it’s a humble voice on the other end. He/she isn’t spewing hate or rage. The pastor is simple looking for introspective answers to what may have caused the disconnect and/or what personal changes may need to take place. Honestly, I love that type of heart. As the scriptures say,

“God opposes the proud but favors the humble.” – James 4:6

As I say so often to them and to those who have left a church: Sometimes there isn’t a “fit” and I’m okay with that.

It’s not a generational thing nor it is always that a bad event occurred to drive someone away. Sometimes it happens when there is a change in the church community (leadership, vision, atmosphere/style, etc).  I’m okay with all of that. It happens. We’ve experienced that here at Kfirst. I was warned by countless pastors that my transition into leadership, over the course of a few years, would solidify people in the community as well as help people feel a release. I was forewarned that it’s a part of church life as the church, as well as myself, continues to grow and gel together.

Again, leaving doesn’t have to be a terrible event. There are a number of those whom have left that I remain friends with and have even hung out with. I interact on social media with quite a few people who see that there is more the “Church” than your “church.” If your version of the body of Christ only includes those you attend a weekly gathering with, you’ve got a shallow and incorrect understanding of the Church.

Don’t get me wrong, challenging things happen. From misunderstandings and offenses to personality conflicts and burnout.  And unfortunately, sinful decisions by either leadership or attendees (or both) can drive people to deciding to leave their present church. If you expected the Church to be perfect and to act perfect, you are always going to find someone or something to be disappointed in.  But every time you leave, you can take steps of healing or perpetuate the hurt. I’m not trying to justify any hurtful action. I just want to see the Church get healthier. And I think that we ALL can do better with church transitions.

A few months back, I dealt with this from the pastoral perspective as I challenged pastors on how to respond to those leaving the church in the blog, “How Do You Deal With People Leaving the Church?” So I thought I’d approach it from the other perspective: How to leave a church and find another.

Depart in a Christ-glorifying way. 
Leaving a church doesn’t have to be dramatic and malicious.  You don’t need a “mic drop” moment to make a splash on your way out. Don’t rally people together through texts, phone calls, or small group meetings. There’s no need to blast people, pastors, or churches on social media. Every time I see this happen, my heart breaks. A thread of hate on social media feeds our own self-righteousness and prevents anyone toward moving forward in healing.

If you see the need to leave where you are at, I can understand that, but make sure you leave in the most Christ-glorifying way. You may “feel” justified in some of the above actions, but no glory goes to God from purposely leaving emotional shrapnel stuck in the hearts of those you used to worship with. I love the words of Christ, in regards to those who may have hurt or mistreated you: Love, do good, bless, and pray for them.

Don’t look for or demand “exit interviews.” Stepping away is fine. Maybe if you have “membership” at a church then I think it’s very appropriate to give the pastor a “heads up” on the new direction you are taking. Over the past 8 years, I’ve appreciated simple connections where hugs and prayers were exchanged instead of opinions and preferences; blessing and goodness was given over frustration and offense.

You bring forward what you took away.
While writing this blog, my mind went to how Israel left Egypt. It says in Exodus 12:36, that they “stripped Egypt of their wealth.” 20 chapters later, when they were tired of waiting on their leader, they took what they left Egypt with and made gods to serve.  These slaves were set free with a wealth they had never lived with. And they needed to choose how to harness it.

What you left with from the last church, you WILL bring it with you (both good and bad). It’s not a mind-blowing concept but an extremely underestimated fact. In college, the church I attended starting going into a direction that didn’t sit well with me. My dread of going to church far outweighed my passion for church. I tried getting involved, but the more the church shifted, the more I discovered that it wasn’t a “fit.” When I settled at a new church, it shocked me what I carried with me.  I realized that, when I left, I brought more with me than I realized. And I could use that to grow, or I can respond like Israel, use what I took to form an idea to follow.

When you leave a church, you leave with the good and the bad. And your decision is simple: Will you grow forward with and properly utilize experiences you received or will you serve the hurt that you walked away with? Nobody else can make that decision but you.

Don’t develop atrophy.
Sitting may feel profitable, but it’s an easy place to get stuck. Even for those who are “burnt out” on volunteering, I recommend rest, but serving is some the best therapy for a burnt out soul.

Before you react, here me out. I’m not asking for a massive commitment to leading or launching a new program. I am speaking out of positioning yourself in a place where you rest can turn to a place of atrophy.

When I went through rotator cuff surgery, I didn’t go back into massive commitments to activities. I went to physical therapy. The trauma I incurred prevented me from doing ANYTHING I did before the injury. But in PT, I did small, subtle movements.  And because of my amazing PT and the appropriate amount of time, my shoulder was restored and stronger than ever.

If anyone has faced some hurt and/or burn out, step into a simple place of serving. For example, here at Kfirst we have “First Impressions” ministry. It’s as simple as greeting at a door once a month (or ever two months). Not a huge commitment but vital ministry. And that level of serving mixed with the appropriate amount of time, can restored and strengthen a wounded soul to be stronger than ever.

Root where you land.
Fruit doesn’t come from a plant that doesn’t take root (I’m sure I’ll get a note from a botanist on that one). When you find a church community, go all in and make connections. It may take a few tries and attempts, but take the responsibility to put your roots down.

Far too often we place our “rooting” on the pastor or the congregation. While I’m not relinquishing responsibilities from the leadership and the people, the “reaching” and “connecting” must go both ways. And while the “rooting” is happening, you’ll discover ministry and relational sweet spots. For me, my volunteering and involvement didn’t come without bumps or bruises. I remember wanting to get involved in a few ministries that I loved but were overcrowded with volunteers. But you bloom where you are planted. So I planted myself with some areas of need in that church and, through serving, I found greater connection. Don’t make leaders or people chase you. Go after them and begin developing roots in your new church community.

Leaving a church is more than deciding to attend a different gathering during the week. There is a transition of heart, background, and a positioning for future Kingdom growth. And my challenge to anyone reading this would be to consider the full gambit of what this type of change brings so that you, and those around you, can see the Church become a healthier entity.

If you’re a pastor reading this, I highly recommend “How Do You Deal With People Leaving the Church?” as there proper way for YOU to deal with this.

None of this is easy. But I believe that, together, we can create a stronger Church.

Love you all.

Encourage Effort.
Celebrate Progress.
Feed Hope.

 

Thanks for letting me ramble…

 

 

Monday Kfirst Kickstart: “Take the Transformational Turn” #CatchingFoxes

Today I want to give you a place to start your week. It’s Monday and in the wake of a great weekend and a workweek ahead, sometimes you just need a “kickstart” to get focused.  So grab some coffee let’s start a great week together.

We kicked off a series with our Kfirst community that focuses on how God wants to connect and use our emotions.  (Click here for yesterday’s notes.)

We kicked off a series from Song of Solomon 2:15, which says,

Catch the foxes for us, the little foxes that spoil the vineyards, for our vineyards are in blossom.

In scripture, wine was a metaphor of the blessing and the power of God. So when we see a “vineyard” mentioned, it’s very easy to see a deeper narrative being spoken of. The little foxes were known to nibble off the blossoms off of the vine. So to lose the blossoms means the fruit can’t grow. If the fruit can grow, then the wine cannot be made. So, in essence, the writer is calling for a caution about the little “moments” that come in to spoil what God is beginning to grow in your life.

Of all of the facets of humanity, emotions may rank up as the highest in terms of the most misunderstood and misused. And if we do not manage them well, they can come in as “little foxes” and spoil the things that God wants to begin to grow in and through your life.

 Psalm 139:13-14 tells us,

For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.”

From this we realize that first, our feelings are a loving divine gift. We are not cursed with emotions but bless by them. Second, our emotions are the outward expressions of the internal realities of your innermost being. They become a window to what his happening in our soul.

Our challenge this week: Take the transformation turn.  How?

  1. Name your emotion. 
    • Bring into the light what has been happening in your soul. We believe that each emotion is our invitation from God to pay attention to my soul.
  2. Invite God into your emotion.
    • Whatever you’re feeling, invite God into that place. Every emotion you feel is an invitation for connection with God.

This week, pay attention to the God-given emotions that you are experiencing. And instead of suppressing them or expressing them, first invite God into them. Ask for the Holy Spirit to meet you in that place and allow His presence to help you through them.

Love you all.  This Sunday, we’ll continue “Chasing Foxes” as we ask God to refine our vision about these divine gifts of our feelings.

BTW: Here’s a song for your week!

Monday Kfirst Kickstart: #EasterAtKfirst “Your Move”

Today I want to give you a place to start your week. It’s Monday and in the wake of a great weekend and a workweek ahead, sometimes you just need a “kickstart” to get focused.  So grab some coffee let’s start a great week together.

We celebrated Easter with our Kfirst community and focused on the account in Luke 24 where the ladies, who were desiring to care for the body of Christ, discovered that he had risen.  (Click here for yesterday’s notes.)

Our challenge on Sunday was to “run to the tomb.” Why? Because the tomb changed everything. The empty tomb…

  1. Reframed everything.
    • Jesus Christ and his Resurrection it is how we survey every situation we find ourselves in. When Jesus walked out of the tomb, the word, ‘impossible’ was deleted from our vocabulary. So when we face our pain, brokenness, and emptiness, we can reframe them with the hope we find in a living Savior. All things are possible because the tomb is empty.
  2. Gave us a point of reference. 
    • The empty tomb gives us a place to live from. Because He lives, we can live. Because Jesus was victorious, we can be victorious.

Christ made His move toward us, now it’s up to us to make our move toward Him. And this isn’t a one-time decision, it’s a daily decision. Why? Because we will perpetually revisit the source of our validation. The place we frequent the most is usually the place where we find our acceptance. And if we “visit the tomb” daily to REFRAME our lives, it’ll give us that point of REFERENCE to live from.

Every day this week, when you begin your day, revisit the empty tomb. What I mean by that is bring yourself to a place where you look at and respond to life through the lens of the living hope you have in Jesus.

Love you all.  See you on this Sunday as we kick off a new series on dealing with our emotions called “Chasing Foxes.”

BTW: Here’s a song for your week!

My New Book “Mosaic Marriage” Available in 3 Formats!

In Mosaic Marriage, I offer a collection of memoirs and thoughts about marriage and relationships, some of them printed from my blog. I share my ideas about building a strong marriage using personal anecdotes and many Biblical examples to provide a guide for those seeking insight and wisdom about their marital relationship. Each chapter provides a thought for a day and a challenge to work on.

There is nothing perfect about marriage; it is full of flaws and issues. But when it’s put together in a covenant with God, a beautiful picture comes into focus. Mosaic Marriage serves to assist, encourage, and build up marriages and soon-to-be marriages. It’s the guide to help bring broken pieces into one complete marriage.

For your copy in soft, hard, or “e” format, click on the image link below:

Monday Kfirst Kickstart: #Empowered week 6 “Equipped for Expectations”

Today I want to give you a place to start your week. It’s Monday and in the wake of a great weekend and a workweek ahead, sometimes you just need a “kickstart” to get focused.  So grab some coffee let’s start a great week together.

We wrapped up our current series in our Kfirst community that focuses on the empowerment of the Holy Spirit. And our focus turned to the issue of the in-filling of the Holy Spirit. In Acts 4, we see a council of men who were astonished at Peter and John who operated in the empowerment of the Holy Spirit.  (Click here for yesterday’s notes.)

https://twitter.com/DawnHause/status/851086830401462272

At Kfirst, we are a church that embraces the deep work of the Holy Spirit as He baptizes believers in His presence. The word “baptize” is a work in an ancient language that is derived from piece of cloth that was dipped in dye so that the cloth is:

  • IMMERSED in the color.
  • SOAKED in the color.
  • CARRIES the transformation.

Ephesians 5:18 has the challenge to both “be filled” and to “continued to be filled.” And that empowerment is there to IMMERSE us, SOAK into us, for the sake of us CARRYING the transformation the Holy Spirit brings.

Every day this week, invite a fresh inflow of His presence into your life, not to make you feel full, but to empower you to use you. In the words of Charles Spurgeon, “Let your heart commune with Jesus while your hands are busy with the world.”

Love you all.  See you on Friday at 7pm for Good Friday and Sunday for Easter.

BTW: Here’s a song for your week!

Fix the Disconnect: 7 Simple Steps to Re-establishing a Date Night

It’s Friday, and for Dave and Anne, it’s “date day.”

It wasn’t always that way. Almost 19 years ago, Anne married a workaholic who felt the urgency (and still does) to get work done 7 days a week. I can use that as an excuse and chalk that up to the nature of my work ethic. Or like anything God has given me, I can be a steward (manager) of it instead of a victim of it. Excuses are just that: excuses. The Apostle Paul said it best,

“…I must not become a slave to anything.” 1 Corinthians 6:12

“Date day” is something we wish we would’ve established years ago. It’s been healing to us and has reestablished the connection we needed. It’s amazing how a consistent intimate connection like a “date” can, over time, bring health to every area of your marriage. I mean, it’s how we connected back in 1995 which lead to a long relationship. And that long relationship, through this type of connection, brought us to engagement and marriage. But for some reason, the template for connection (dating) is abandoned once the wedding is over.

I’ve heard all of the excuses. From time to money to the agreeing on what to do, it seems like we look for reasons to NOT date our spouse instead finding and making opportunities to be with them.  It happened to us and we believe it can happen to anyone. No money for a date? We understand. Having no funds for a baby sitter? We get it. Packed schedule? Yep. But the love within you must overcome the obstacles facing you. If we are to be honest about it all, most of the obstacles we’re facing are more mental, emotional, and spiritual than physical. You may see something keeping you from dating your spouse, but deep down, the struggle is more internal than external.

I’m very thankful for the words of John,

“…the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world.” 1 John 4:4

Someone told me a great piece of advice a while ago. “If you don’t date your spouse, the devil will find someone else who will.” It sound so overly dramatic and intense, but it’s the truth. When we pull away from connection with our spouse, the devil looks at that as prime opportunity for temptation.

So I thought I’d share some dating “tips” to help you stay connected and/or re-establish that dating pattern that you exercises before you said “I do.”

  1. Have the conversation.
    • This is where it all begins. To me, it’s not just about admitting that dates are not happening. It’s about a resolve to make it happen.
  2. Pick a time.  
    • This is the most simple part of a date that so many people don’t get past. I deal with couples all the time who are so wrapped up in “what are we going to do.” Start by agreeing on a time/day and let that begin the momentum.
  3. Guard the time. 
    • It’s not just about establishing a day or time. Guard it. For us, if we are doing our scheduling, we guard our time as to show each other how much we value that time.
    • Establish some “rules.” Some people will have rules like “no phones during the date” to “no double-dates” (as some just need some “couple time”).
  4. Create a date pattern. 
    • Dates don’t have to be massive undertakings. Sometimes quality time can be experienced in simplicity.
      • Anne and I take consistent walks together (literally no cost) and Sunday evenings is a consistent “walk time” for us. It gives us a connection to develop the week’s expectations as far as our schedule.  We love our neighborhood but have walked Celery Flats or Al Sabo. Being on the west side of Michigan, we love walking out on a pier out on Lake Michigan.
      • Fridays are the “go out” date days. We chose the afternoon to go out and enjoy time together.
  5. Get creative. 
    • Find things you both like to do.
    • Rotate between the two of you on who choses the date activity.
    • Mix up what you are doing so that you don’t get in a dating rut.
  6. Make alliances. (Forgive me, but I’m re-watching Survivor on Hulu so this is fresh on my mind.)
    • Find a few families and make a “dating alliance.” This is where you can rotate watching each other’s children as to eliminate the cost of childcare.
    • Link up with other couples to double-date or group-date. Don’t have all of your dates be with other people but you need to get out with other couples. The more we hang out with others, the more normal you’ll feel.
  7. Don’t get frustrated. 
    • You may pick a day that, in the long run, wasn’t the best day. Congratulations, you just discovered something you may need to change or push through. Instead of feeling terrible about something you may call a “failure,” see it as “fine-tuning” your dating pattern.

 

I love the words in the book of Revelation that Jesus gives to the church in Ephesus,

“You don’t love me or each other as you did at first!…Turn back to me and do the works you did at first.” Revelation 2:4-5

Jesus connected a pattern of their life to the disconnect of their heart. And if that simple concept can transform us in our closeness to Christ, imagine the impact it could have in our marriage.

Love you all.  Praying for you.

Encourage effort.
Celebrate progress.
Feed hope.

 

Thanks for letting me ramble…