Don’t Be the Twitter Queen

This is a guest post by my friend, Arlene Pellicane.  I think you’ll enjoy it!

His comment caught me off-guard.

Since I was speaking at a youth conference about teens and technology, I figured the dad waiting to speak with me wanted to talk about his crazy texting teenager.

But he didn’t come to talk about his daughter. He came to talk about his wife.

You see, this man was a father of three who had a wonderful wife except for one little area. She was addicted to Twitter.

It began innocently enough. His wife was involved in women’s ministry. She would notice someone in need and send them an encouraging tweet during the week. The recipient of the tweet was so touched that Nancy began sending messages to more women in the church to encourage them. Before she knew it, she was constantly communicating with friends on social media.

Being digitally connected became a part of her life and she didn’t know how to stop.

On date nights, she would sit with her husband at dinner, phone in hand. She would reply to tweets and send tweets about the restaurant. During commutes, at home, at play – one thing was constant. Her connection to her phone at all times.

The man’s friends started calling his wife the “Twitter Queen” and that wasn’t meant as a compliment as you can imagine.

Don't Be a Social Media Queen

This husband and wife aren’t the only ones struggling with the intrusion of technology into our relationships. Parents are glued to their phones while they walk their kids from the parking lot to the school yard. At home, moms or dads constantly face screens, whether it’s a computer, tablet, television, or phone.

We’re busy checking emails, social media, stock prices, daily news, and text messages. Headlines grab our attention while our kids or spouses go unnoticed.

No child wants to compete with screens for their parents’ attention nor should they have to. Yet adults are becoming increasingly dependent on their devices, causing communication to erode with their children. Kids don’t need constant attention from their parents, but they do need the assurance that they rank above the noise of the screen world.

Here’s a great video from Gary Chapman on the issue of raising relational kids in a screen-driven world.

So before you scroll through posts on social media, ask yourself a few questions:

Am I wasting time on social media?

Do the people in my family have my full attention or am I distracted by social media?

Is there anything I need to change to make sure I don’t end up like the “Twitter Queen?”

Arlene PellicaneArlene Pellicane is a speaker and author of Growing Up Social: Raising Relational Kids in a Screen-Driven World (co-authored with Gary Chapman), 31 Days to a Happy Husband, and 31 Days to Becoming a Happy Wife.

Arlene has been featured on the Today Show, Fox & Friends, Family Life Today, K-LOVE, The Better Show, The 700 Club, Turning Point with Dr. David Jeremiah, and TLC’s Home Made Simple.

Arlene earned her BA from Biola University and her Masters in Journalism from Regent University. She lives in San Diego with her husband James and three children.

Visit Arlene at ArlenePellicane.com for free family resources including a monthly Happy Home podcast.

Not Who I Want to Be

I took a communication style inventory in a meeting at work last week, and I walked away feeling the results were eerily accurate. It was one of those quizzes where you read a prompt and try to quickly follow your first instinct for selecting an answer, rather than over-thinking and attempting to choose the “right” response. Because I spent many of my early teen years taking quizzes in magazines, I can often notice a pattern in my answer choices and begin to predict the results before I calculate my final scores. However, this test was different.

My answers were literally all over the place. In one question, I indicated I wanted recognition. Then I said I wanted to be in the background organizing things. Next I admitted that I can be too blunt. After that I checked that I worry about what others think of me. When I began to score it, I confirmed my fear that my answers were not falling neatly into one category. It was like I had figured out the one way to fail a subjective test – to end up with no dominant characteristics at all.

When we had to raise our hands to show our highest scoring profile, I clung to the 7 that showed I was a “Green Beaver,” but I knew that the 5’s under “Beige Lion” and “Red Dolphin” really weren’t much lower. (Weird names. I have no idea…)

I truly identified with the Green Beaver characteristics. I love order, accountability, competence, responsibility… Calling me thorough and logical can sometimes feel like the best compliments.

Some of the adjectives describing the Beige Lion and Red Dolphin felt like they fit too… Control, decisiveness, too blunt, action, excitement…

Then I realized something.

I scored fairly evenly across three out of four categories. 7, 5, and 5.

I got a 1 under “Blue Panda.” Hmm… That’s interesting.

Love and kindness, understanding, support, affection, harmony… All the things that I’m not. Or at least the things that don’t tend to be my natural instinct.

Yeah, so here’s the thing.

I’m not sure how many people who truly know me would ever describe me as sweet or gentle or loving.

I know I’m female, and it’s supposed to be hardwired into my DNA. I know that as a wife, daughter, friend, sister, and hopefully future mother, I am supposed to be sensitive and nurturing. Particularly in my church culture, I have spent recent years feeling pressure to dress a little like a hippy and sit in coffee shops writing poetry and love notes to Jesus in my organic journal. (Note: Sarcasm and exaggeration are sometimes my love languages.)

I’ve wanted to be that girl. I’ve tried to be that girl.

I’m not that girl.

I’ve struggled for years with this piece of Scripture:

“Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.” 1 Peter 3:3-4

Gentle and quiet? Oh boy.

You know what I realized recently that has stirred this struggle in me in a fresh way? This verse is placed in a context of teaching about marriage. (Yes, I know. Captain Obvious. However, I spent more than a decade processing it through the lens of a single young woman… Now that I’m married, I’m encountering these ideas in a new way.)

“Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to adorn themselves. They submitted themselves to their own husbands, like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her lord. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear.” 1 Peter 3:1-6

Well, great. Now not only am I not easily gentle or quiet, but I am also not very good at being respectful or submissive.

See that part about winning our husbands over “without words”? Yeah. I tend to have a lot of words.

At one point a few months ago, I turned to many of my married friends and mentors to seek out their advice related to this. They all know me well, so they know that I love to be quick-witted and funny. One of my deepest desires is to be sincere and genuine everywhere I go. On a few occasions, this has caused my husband to feel a little embarrassed in public as I expressed my opinions or spoke and acted with dramatic expression (read: strong facial expressions and gestures. Perhaps dancing in the middle of Walmart… Hypothetically.). I so badly wanted my mentors to tell me that I wasn’t hurting anyone by just being myself with my strong and vibrant personality and that he just needed to get over it.

They didn’t.

MANY related with me and had experienced this before. It led to good conversations about being BOTH a strong woman and a respectful wife.

One close friend saw straight through my struggles and spoke to my heart. When we talked about becoming quieter, gentler, more loving, and more respectful, she said, “You will not lose yourself in this process. You will be made better.”

You will be made better in marriage.

WOW. Instant tears. (See??? I can be sensitive!)

I was feeling so confused about my identity. Why would God make me vocal and expressive and then tell me to be quiet? Why would my husband tell me when we were dating he loved that I was so genuine, and now he wanted me to change? Why can’t I just be myself?

I’m learning that I can… I just have to be the WISE version of myself.

It is a good thing to carefully choose my tone and timing when I approach my husband with concerns. It is good to honor him in front of others. It is good to continue to be myself and to use my strengths and gifts while allowing the Holy Spirit to simultaneously make me better.

I’ve already seen the Lord work through my developing gentleness. He has used it to soften me and to soften my husband at times. I’ve got such a long way to go. The other day, my temper was really flaring up and I started praying, “Lord I am so ready for the day when You will change my heart so I won’t feel and react this way anymore!” I felt Him softly correct me and tell me that He is teaching me to choose love and self-control in the midst of my strong emotions of frustration or selfishness.

I will never write on this blog or on my own to claim that I have everything figured out. I feel this is just a bit of humble and open (and hopefully genuine) reflection on my life, my faith, and our marriage. I know that my strong personality equips me in many ways to stand firm when I need to and to communicate honestly when confrontation is hard. One of my best friends even tells me she is jealous of the ways that I confront frustrations in marriage. She is on the opposite end – so full of gentleness and love that she often avoids confrontation and rarely addresses her concerns with her husband or with others. I know things like this are never just black or white – all good or all bad… I’m just thinking and discussing and hopefully growing.

And that communication-style inventory? I hope my husband will take it soon. I would be willing to bet money that he is a sensitive and loving Blue Panda.

How Thinking Differently Can Improve Your Marriage

Thinking

 

I remember clearly the day my thoughts about my husband changed.   And I remember how those new thoughts improved my marriage and gave me the man I had always wanted.

Jim and I had been married for 20 years.  Throughout that time we’d struggled with one thing in particular: Jim’s financial irresponsibility.  He had made some poor choices in the early years of our marriage that set the stage for ongoing problems, and I didn’t handle the situation well at all.  I constantly nagged and questioned him about how he managed our money.  My words met with either stony silence, or a brusque “I’ll take care of it.”

I regularly prayed and asked God to change Jim, but my prayers went unanswered.  We were so happy together in every other way; I just couldn’t understand why God didn’t correct this major flaw in my husband.

One day as I was studying the Bible, Philippians 4:8 jumped out at me: “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”  At that moment I understood why God hadn’t answered my prayers regarding my husband’s behavior.  I wasn’t following God’s instructions.  Instead of focusing on the good things about Jim – thinking about what was lovely and admirable about him – I was fixated on the one thing about him that I didn’t like.  In that moment I asked God to forgive me for my bitter spirit, and change my heart.  I wanted to build up my husband, not tear him down.  And I wanted to leave the matter of how he handled our finances to God.  I realized that Jim’s maturity was in the Lord’s hands, not mine.  By trying to transform Jim with my pestering and complaining, I was only making matters worse.

Immediately I made a mental list of all the things about Jim that were excellent or praiseworthy.   Here are just a few that I came up with:

  1. He was a loving, attentive husband.  A day never went by that he didn’t say “I love you.”  Whenever we were walking together,  he held my hand.  He often complimented me, and extolled my virtues.
  2. He was a great dad.  Never too busy to play catch with our son, or share in his other interests.
  3. He was a true family man.  Home every night; not one to go out with the boys.
  4. He had a great sense of humor and made life fun.

My new thinking didn’t change Jim.  It changed me.   It freed my mind so I could live peacefully, and put me in a better position to really hear the Lord and pray properly for my husband.  Instead of asking God to work on Jim, I asked God to continue to work on me.

I can’t tell you when I noticed Jim was different, but I know that he did change.  He became financially responsible and more conservative with our money.   When the Lord called Jim home 18 years later, we were out of debt.   He had arranged for extra life insurance coverage through his employer, which helped carry me financially while I adjusted to living on my single income.

Four years ago I remarried.  What I learned in my first marriage has helped me adjust to my second union.  Whatever is excellent and praiseworthy about my husband, that’s what I think on.

Could changing how you think about your husband improve your marriage?

 

 

Changes and Challenges

My husband and I celebrated our first year anniversary in the air. We spent the majority of our day traveling from Southern California, where we used to live, to Northern Idaho, where we now live. Halfway through our 4o minute drive home from the airport, I asked Tim what had surprised him the most about our first year of marriage. I had a feeling we would have similar answers, and my hunch was confirmed when he paused for a moment then said, “that we live here!” His point was punctuated by the large Welcome To Idaho sign we passed a couple minutes later as we crossed the state line.

A year ago, neither of us would have guessed what our first year of marriage would entail. When the year started we were squatting in my grandparents’ vacant house while Tim looked for a full-time ministry job. God certainly surprised us when He opened the doors for a youth pastor position in Coeur d’Alene, sending two California natives to the Inland Northwest mere months after saying, “I do.”

With that move came changes in seemingly every area of our lives. As we adjusted to married life, we were also adjusting to new jobs, a new location, new church, and a new pace of life. Adapting was not always a smooth process. Despite the fact that those changes came with a fair amount of challenges, I’m realizing that both change and challenges are necessary to thrive – both in marriage and in life.

Changes and Challenges

Change keeps us from becoming too comfortable in our routine. Challenges force us to depend on others, and more importantly, rely on God to overcome our struggles. Tim and I had an established community and jobs we had been doing for years in California. Moving was the catalyst for us to reevaluate our priorities and check our motivation for the we we spend our time. We had the opportunity to start our new season in life with a blank slate that only change could provide.

Our blank slate wasn’t easy. Winter was difficult for this sunny SoCal native, as was building friendships from scratch and getting used to a new job. Had we not been faced with those hardships, we would not have witnessed God’s faithfulness in those situations. Tim and I learned the importance of good communication and the necessity of establishing ourselves as a couple in this new environment. We acknowledged God’s sovereignty as He supplied our most basic physical, emotional, and spiritual needs.

Our changes and challenges generally weren’t fun, but they were instrumental to the intimacy and growth we experienced during our first year of marriage. Now that we are a month into our second year, I am praying that the unavoidable changes and challenges to come will be equally productive as they were in our first year of marriage.

To Have and To Hold

To Have and To Hold

As I sprayed the front porch with my water hose, dirt and bugs poured down the side of my house. Blasting those things was exhilarating.

Everything came off under the pressure of that water. Everything except one big spider web.

So I got a stool to stand on, edged in even closer, and blasted that web again. The silken threads thrashed to and fro with each gust of water. But the spider, the web, and her eggs stayed intact.

They weren’t going anywhere.

Flabbergasted, I thought to myself, “Spiders must have an inborn instinct to have and to hold. Under the greatest pressure, they don’t let go.

It reminded me of a time several years ago, when a friend came to me in devastation. Her husband told her he didn’t love her—in fact, he said, he had never loved her.

“It’s over,” she told me.

We talked and I then asked, “Can you hold on to the marriage for just a while longer? You have nothing to lose. You’ve already lost him.”

I told her to become his greatest admirer. Find the good in him. She did. It didn’t work.

I told her to make his favorite dinners and desserts. She did. It didn’t work.

I told her to make love to him as never before. She did. It didn’t work.

I told her to do the things she knows he likes done. She did. It didn’t work.

I told her to pray non-stop for him. She did. It didn’t work.

I told her to tell him, “I vowed to you that I would hold on no matter what.” She told him. But he didn’t care.

After a month she came to me with tears in her eyes and said, “It’s not working Sharon.”

“He’s not gone yet is he?” I said. “I know it’s hard, but keep doing it … because love always protects, always hopes, and always perseveres.”

She took a deep breath.

She chose to keep doing it. And very gradually things started shifting.

He started enjoying the dinners at the table and all the other things she was doing for him—even intimacy.

A year later they found themselves passionately in love with one another. For the first time.

Now, I know the story is not going to turn out the same for everyone. I’ve given the same advice to others without the same results. But I can give you this advice with confidence: when the storms come—and they will—hold on tight, just like the spiders on my porch.

God calls us to have a love that perseveres and hopes. We can’t choose what kind of love the other party will give in return, but there is power in God’s kind of love—a holding-on kind of love.

To have and to hold means you’ve got to hold on when the storm rages. And even if it knocks you off kilter, ask the Lord to give you strength to get back up and hold on some more.

I finally got all the spiders and their webs off my porch. It looked beautiful.

As I was gathering my cleaning supplies and enjoying the clean porch, I saw spiders crawling back up the wall.

I smiled. If I can’t get rid of them, at least I can learn a lesson from them!

Sharon Glasgow is hosting a marriage conference call on May 30,2013 from 8:00PM-9:15 PM EST. If you sign up for the call, you get access to the recording. You can listen to it anytime. Sign up today, it could change your marriage!

Dear Lord, help me to have a love that perseveres through hard times. Help me to love the way You’ve called me to love. Give me hope, strength and wisdom as only You can do. You know I need it. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Sharon Glasgow is an international Christian speaker and author. She is on the  Proverbs 31 Ministries speaking team and has been for 10 years.   She is a contributing author for; NIV Real Life Devotional Bible for Women, The Reason We Speak, God’s Purpose for Every Woman and has been featured in P31 Woman magazine. Sharon and her husband have five daughters, three son-in-laws and two grandchildren. They live on a working farm, milking goats, gathering eggs, gardening and living healthy. She blogs weekly about living The Empowered Life at www.sharonglasgow.com.