Deb’s “Just 18 Summers” Featured Post

Cup of latte coffee

 

Do you know the story of  “Just 18 Summers?” If you are a parent or planning to become one, you need to know about this great resource. In a nutshell, here’s their story in founder Michelle Cox’s words:

During a Sunday church service, my pastor prayed with a couple who were dedicating their infant son to God. As they turned to walk off the platform, Rev. Sexton said these words, “Don’t forget—you have just 18 summers. Take time to make some memories.”  

Moms and dads, you have just 18 summers with your child. Please don’t miss the moments! Take it from a mom who would give a million dollars if she could walk down the hall and tuck her little boys into bed just one more time.

How many summers do YOU have left? What you do with your children now will determine whether you look back someday with regrets or sweet memories.

That chance encounter at Sunday service has become a novel, a movie, and a wonderful resource for parents: Just18Summers.com

Michelle recently invited me to guest on the site in honor of Valentine’s Day and my three sons. Find it here: Deb@18Summers

I hope you’ll take a moment to read the article, but don’t stop there. Look around at the great resources and be sure you subscribe so you don’t miss a thing!

 

I Choose You Today Challenge

300x250FaithHappenings copy2015 could be a changing year in your marriage!

Come join us on a journey to take your marriage to the next level – regardless of where it is today. Good marriages can become great, broken marriages can become whole.  We’ll be exploring the power of choice and discover the ability to transform relationships with four little words: “I Choose You Today.”

My newest book, I Choose You Today: 31 Choices to Make Love Last will provide us a roadmap to highlight intentional, purposeful choices that will benefit every marriage relationship. “I choose to respect you. I choose to romance you, and I choose to laugh with you” are just a few of the chapters we will explore. The book is a quick read that would serve well as a devotional for couples or individuals, as well as those engaged to be married. Filled with anecdotal stories, tips, tools, and insights that provide a practical approach to enhancing the life you are building together.

Here’s what others are saying about the book:

  • “It’s often been said that our choices define us.  That’s true personally, but it’s also a key to our relationships. Deb DeArmond has provided a practical and insightful book detailing 31 choices we can make as husbands and wives that have the potential to transform even a good marriage – and make it a great one.”  —Greg Smalley, Vice President of Family Ministry, Focus on the Family
  • There is no deeper joy in life than great love. Fortunately for us, I Choose You Today gives us a clear roadmap to achieving it with our spouse. Every couple- married or not- will benefit from reading Ms. DeArmond’s book.         -Meg Meeker, M.D., best-selling author of Strong Fathers,Strong Daughters and Co-host of Dr. James Dobson’s Family Talk radio broadcast

While we’re learning together, we’re going to have some fun! Prizes, giveaways, and lots of other surprises.

So sign up today Here’s the link: IChooseYouChallenge

And remember -with all this 50 shades of crazy… it is refreshing to hear God’s perspective on a healthy marriage. Happily ever after is not a fairy tale, it’s a choice!

Do We Love? Or Do We Love Well?

0036_Miller 9780891124504Today we have a special treat: a guest post from Kathy Collard Miller and her husband, Larry Miller.  This article is excerpted from their newly released book, Never Ever Be the Same (Leafwood Publishers) which offers Christians hope that they can change their ungodly reactions through identifying their self-protective strategies and trusting God instead. The book includes biblical principles, insightful stories, and helpful instruction, and it  has individual and group discussion questions. I hope you enjoy!

 

Do we love our family members or do we love them well? All of us love others imperfectly. But loving “well” means we love them for their benefit rather than what it does for us or how it makes us look. We’re not talking about perfection but we are talking about desiring another’s good. We’ve all been around someone who is supposedly expressing love for us but it is disingenuous because it is really about them looking good or getting what they want. We don’t really feel encouraged or cared for.

I, Larry, may be wrong but I sensed a lack of loving well when I received an e-mail from a man who was considering buying one of our marriage books for his wife. He wrote, “I choose to love my unsaved wife as I love myself. She has a lot of issues and it’s my hope, prayer and confidence that my example, the light that I allow to shine in our home, and the love that I extend to her, just as God has done for me, will be a part of what God uses to save her.”

I didn’t have any kind of relationship with this man to be able to inquire into his motives. But I could sense that he might easily come across to his wife as thinking himself better than her. I wondered if he communicated a belief that he never needed to repent of anything and that she should be grateful for the way he puts up with her.

And I also wondered, “What is his motive for needing to explain?” Does he speak to others with this same kind of superior attitude? If his wife shares with him the superior attitudes she senses, how would he respond? I had a deep sense that he wasn’t loving her well. Unfortunately, he had concluded he loved her so well that he was amazed his sparkling and pristine example of Christ’s love hadn’t compelled her to become a Christian.

Here are other common ways we do not love well:

  • A husband buys his wife for their anniversary (or birthday or Christmas) what he wants for himself, not what she values. He looks forward to the admiring looks from his friends when he uses the item himself.
  • A wife plans an elaborate surprise birthday party for her husband, but he would rather enjoy a weekend away with her. But the accolades the wife gets at the party motivates her to throw another party the next year.

We’ve all been guilty at one time or another, but we may be able to avoid this error by focusing on how God loves us well. He always responds to us for our greatest good and desires our greatest benefit. Let’s make a commitment to do the same for those we love.

How has God shown you that kind of loving “well”?

 

 

Kathy Collard Miller and Larry Miller are speakers and authors. They have been married 44 years and Larry is a retired police lieutenant. The Millers live in Southern California, and have two grown children and one grandson. Visit them at www.LarryAndKathy.com. Kathy blogs at www.KathyCollardMiller.com.

Find their book at your local Christian bookstore and in both print and digital versions at:

Never Ever Be the Same is available at your local Christian bookstore and in both print and digital versions at:  Amazon: http://amzn.to/1ITmLfy,  CBD: http://bit.ly/1AuJZSX, Barnes and Noble: http://bit.ly/1BJz3lC,

 

 

 

Early Warning System

By Deb DeArmond

This Or That Way Directions On A SignpostThe lock on the high-rise restroom door seemed a little loose. I wasn’t sure I could trust it. So when I heard another woman enter, I cleared my throat, putting her on notice: this stall is not available.

She clearly understood the signal, passed by and entered the stall two beyond mine. The system worked. It got me to thinking about the unspoken language we all seem to understand. . .

Sitting in church when my sons were teens often produced another of those trust is thin moments. I could see them from my vantage point. They routinely sat with the youth group across the aisle, toward the front. On occasion I would see notes passed back and forth, or what looked like it might be the beginning of “sermon inattention.” A quick clearing of my throat carried the message: I see you. Knock it off.

It was usually met with a stiffening of the spine and a slight look over the left shoulder. Eye contact finished the job. Nailed it.

I’ve only recently connected trust with the universal sign of throat clearing. But once considered, I marvel at its power.

Marriage is the ultimate opportunity to throw the sign. How many times have we been in a social situation when the conversation began to travel a path one or the other didn’t trust would end well and the soft guttural clearing of the throat performed its magic, steering the interaction onto the safety of the shoulder? More times than I can recall.

Of course there are times when it’s ignored completely (a failure to yield), or mistaken for a hay fever itch. The resulting crash and burn is never pleasant. Sometimes we simply misinterpret the message. It’s an error. But the failure to yield is a conscious choice to rush on, despite the opportunity to pause and consider.

Initially, it didn’t seem like a godly principle. But I’m wondering, have you ever experienced the equivalent of a Holy Ghost throat clearing? I’m sure  you have. Involved in a heated discussion, you are poised and ready to hurl an angry retort when suddenly . . .you hear it. This is your moment. You are reminded. Can you trust yourself to respond in love?

Did God send us His Spirit because He didn’t believe we could (or would) make the right choices without some assistance? That seems to be the case; He knew we’d need guidance.

John is clear about the work of God’s spirit as he recounts Christ’s reassurance before His ascension:  “The Spirit shows what is true and will come and guide you into the full truth. The Spirit doesn’t speak on His own. He will tell you only what He has heard from me, and He will let you know what is going to happen,” John 16:13 (CEV).

Isn’t that the same message we send in the stall, in the pew, or in conversations alongside our spouse? Consider it an early warning system from God: don’t stop here, straighten up, or change the subject, sweetheart. God’s rerouting our path, setting us straight, or sending us to safer territory. It comes softly, never outing us, the Spirit flying under the radar to redirect us. Amazingly gentle.

We all have those moments we need someone who loves us to say, “I see you. Knock it off.”

And you don’t want to miss that. Powerful stuff.

Release Day! I Choose You Today!

Cover I choose you today JPG

My new book, I Choose You Today: 31 Choices to Make Love Last, officially releases today! It’s now available in both paperback or electronic book at Amazon, ChristianBooks.com and even online at Target!

I invite you to join us for our upcoming 31 Week Challenge. It’s going to be great fun with free tools and resources, drawing for prizes and opportunities to share your story and hear that of others. You will be automatically enrolled for the challenge and eligible for the freebies by subscribing to this website.

I hope you will take a moment to read about the book here. I genuinely believe that whether you are engaged and hoping to start strong, a newlywed finding your way, or a long time married seeking to refresh or sustain your relationship, this book can help. It’s worked for my husband, Ron, and I for nearly 40 years.

What if you could hang on to the happily-ever-after feelings from the day you said, “I do?”  It could be as simple as four little words: I Choose You Today.

Words have the power to create. They also have the power to destroy. Everyday you have the power to choose which it will be for your marriage.

The spoken word carries extra weight. God spoke the world and life into existence. We enter into new life in Christ, by the confession of our mouth. We will overcome by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony. Faith, spoken moves mountains. Our words can bless or curse. Words count.

What if we could enrich and preserve our marriages, breathing life into them through a daily profession of commitment to our relationship—one that aligns with the Word of God? Regardless of how we feel in the moment, choosing to bless, not curse our union?

I Choose You Today is based on the principle that marriage and love is always a choice—one that benefits from a daily-renewal of our commitment. Christ followers are charged to live in God’s truth. Feelings are not the basis for truth; feelings are subject to change. God’s Word is the basis for truth. The title of the book is built on the line included in the wedding ceremony: “I choose you to be my lawfully wedded husband to have and to hold….” Choice is a gift from God. We must choose marriage, choose our spouse, and choose to live in a way that pleases God. The book’s chapters contain thirty scriptural principles – or choices – that support marriage and help develop behaviors that support healthy relationships. Inspirational stories, conventional wisdom and thought-provoking questions help you explore your choices and commitment to each other . . . every day of your marriage.

Greg Smalley, Vice President of Family Ministry at Focus on the Family says this about I Choose You Today: 

  • “It’s often been said that our choices define us. That’s true personally, but it’s also a key to our relationships. Deb DeArmond has provided a practical and insightful book detailing 31 choices we can make as husbands and wives that have the potential to transform even a good marriage—and make it a great one.”

Dr. Meg Meeker, bestselling author and co-host of Dr. James Dobson’s Family Talk radio broadcast offered her review of the book:

  • I Choose You Today gives us a clear roadmap to achieve great love with our spouse. Every couple—married or not—will benefit from reading this book.”

James tells us: A word out of your mouth may seem of no account, but it can accomplish nearly anything – or destroy it!” (James 3:5 MSG).

What will you choose today?

Where There’s a Will, He Makes the Way!

Real People: Head Shoulders Caucasian Little Girl Arms Crossed“Debbie has a tendency toward willfulness.”

My mother spent much of my third grade year in the hospital. She suffered from terrible headaches that often sent her to bed. There were no MRI’s in 1963, and there were few treatments for what we now call migraines. A brain tumor was suspected as she went from hospital to hospital.

I spent those weeks sitting in white-walled waiting rooms, with the bitter smell of antiseptic, fearing my mom would die. At eight, it seemed like a reasonable fear.

What was not reasonable was the fear that struck once she was released. I would find any reason to avoid being away from Mom. Every morning a new malady appeared: my head hurt, I was sick to my stomach, the teacher didn’t like me, or the kids were mean to me. Each excuse had the same motive: I wanted to stay home to make sure my mother wouldn’t disappear again.

Reassurance didn’t work, nor did stern conversations, pleading or promising a treat if I’d just get dressed and go to school. When those efforts failed, the school psychologist became my new “friend” and Mom and I began a series of conversations and testing.

I recall it clearly: a very nice older man who seemed interested in me and what I thought and how I felt. Very pleasant. And eventually, either his conversations with us did help or I outgrew it, although I’m not sure which. But life returned to normal.

Thirty-seven years later, while sorting through Mom’s paperwork after her death, I found the report prepared by that school psychologist.

“Debbie has a tendency toward willfulness.”

It was not a compliment. It was not in the plus column.

And while it was true, it was never over the top, overt, throw a tantrum till I get my way willfulness. My folks were a couple of smart cookies who would never stand for that behavior. It was subtle. Skillful.  Understated.

The report went on to suggest, “When fearful, Debbie may try to control the situation, which must not be allowed. As her parents, you must assert your authority.”

This weekend I heard a gifted teacher at church speak about willfulness. “When obedience to God’s Word occurs it’s always an act of our will. A choice. Willful obedience.”

Hearing those words reminded me of the assessment of my character by that nice man in 1963. Is it possible I can use my powers for good, not for evil?

“For it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose,” (Phil. 2:13) NIV.

Willful obedience. Willful mercy. Willful love, grace, forgiveness. An act of my choice, fueled not by fear, but by my loving Abba father, who desires to see me act in order to fulfill His good purpose, and who delights over me when I do. It’s the redemption of something the enemy once twisted to torment me, and Jesus has reclaimed it. I can see it now. The eight-year old me, who refuted authority, trying to run the table, is grown up.

Most days, at least.

Holidays bring family gatherings and occasionally, old hurts, fears, and resentments come along for the ride. The baggage of our past has the ability to turn even the most mature adult into a willful eight-year old.

This season can be different, by a simple act of our will, drawing on God’s strength, not our own. Choose peace. Refuse to pick up the offense. Willful grace, willful patience. Radical, willful obedience to love. This is my personal prayer, to fulfill His purpose and celebrate the birth of the One who makes it all possible.

Yup, using my powers for good!

Interview: Holidays are Coming – How “Bout the In-Laws?

Screen Shot 2014-11-25 at 6.56.34 PMI was honored to be Jeanne Dennis’ guest on her show “Heritage of Truth.” This interview was filmed in June at the International Christian Retail Show. The timing is perfect as the holiday season approaches, it often means time with the in-laws. Those interactions can be great if the relationship is good. If it’s not, those can be really long days.

You will find the interview here: Deb DeArmond / Heritage of  Truth

 

Different’s Not Wrong, It’s Just Different!

Thanksgiving 2014This will be a different kind of Thanksgiving holiday. Many of our family members (and some oft-included friends) will be traveling this year to see family in other places. Instead of our usual table for 35 or so, we will be fourteen for turkey. Different.

Especially since the chief turkey briner/cook will not be present. No worries, our matriarch will step in to baste that bird into glorified goodness. I don’t need to double or triple the side dishes, and we will cut the recipe for pumpkin cheesecake in half. I’ve included it here if you’d like to give it a try. It’s from my son’s mama-in-law, Dru. A legendary cook in her own right, but alas, about 1000 miles from my home in North Texas.

So it’s different. And I have to remember that different’s not wrong. It’s just . . .different. It’s good to experience change on occasion and get out of the rut we can find ourselves in. Someone once told me that a rut is just a grave open at both ends. No thanks!

So instead of feeling blue over the crowd that won’t gather, I’ve decided to treasure the pleasure that will come with a smaller assembly. No scrambling for the white meat. No gravy shortage.  Fewer dishes and less time in the kitchen. But that’s the low hanging fruit. What about something a bit meatier? Here are three differences I’m looking forward to this year.

  • Less focus on food and more on family. When you’re cooking for 35, it can be all about coordinating the timing so the turkey is ready to carve at the same time the sweet potatoes are bubbly hot. It can be stressful and I’ve been known to snap at my loved ones who wander out to the kitchen and ask, “Isn’t it ready yet?” It’s an aggravation I’m still learning to manage. So I’m grateful there will be fewer folks to watch the clock as their stomach growls. I plan to hold a few babies, visit with my sweet mother-in-law, and hold my hubby’s hand while we watch some football. If the schedule gets off a bit, I’ll add microwaves to my gratitude list for the day.
  • The opportunity for meaningful conversation. With 30+ folks milling around, sometimes the discussions are more small talk and catching up. I’m looking forward to a hearty discussion or two on the recent election results, hearing about a new job for one family member, and debating with my brother-in-law, someone I love dearly, but with whom I rarely agree. And asking my 7-year old great-niece, “what’s new in first grade?” always yields a great discovery, along with a smile over just how grown up she is these days.
  • Time to reflect on the immeasurable goodness of God. The name “Thanksgiving” implies we should be focused on the gifts and blessings in our lives. Gratitude is the attitude that helps us keep the little things from becoming the big things. An awareness of the goodness in our life calibrates our thinking and balances out the occasional icky stuff without catastrophizing it. And with a smaller crowd, we can take a few minutes around the table to share our greatest blessing of the year. The food would be cold if we tried to do that with our usual crowd, so I’m hoping we can include it in this different kind of year. I love to hear how God’s working in the lives of those I treasure.

Colossians 3:15 encourages us: “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.” I pray your holiday brings you a refreshed awareness of God’s presence in your life – no matter what your circumstances. He sees you. He loves you. So while this Thanksgiving might be different – He remains the same, yesterday, today and forever. Happy Thanksgiving.

 

Dru’s Fabulous Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecake

Filling:

3 – 8oz blocks cream cheese, softened

1 cup sugar, divided

1 tsp. vanilla

3 eggs

1 cup canned pumpkin

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

dash ground cloves

 

Crust:

2 cups finely crushed ginger snaps (you can sub graham crackers)

½ cup finely chopped pecans

6 Tbsp. butter, melted

 

Beat cream cheese, ¾ cup of the sugar and vanilla with electric mixer until well blended. Add eggs one at a time mixing on low speed after each addition just until blended. Reserve 1-½ cups of the plain batter. Stir remaining ¼ cup sugar, pumpkin, and spices into remaining batter. Spoon ½ of the pumpkin batter over the crust, top with spoonfuls of ½ of the reserved plain butter. Repeat layers. Cut through batters with knife several times for a marble effect. Pour into a lightly greased spring form pan.

 

Bake at 325 degrees for 55 minutes or until center is almost set. Loosen cake from side of the pan and cool before removing. Refrigerate 4 hours or overnight. 12 servings.

 

Book Cover Reveal: I Choose You Today

The cover for my new book, I Choose You Today: 31 Choices to Make Love Last, has been visible on all the online bookseller sites for months. So I thought it was time to share it with all of you, here at Family Matters. The publisher, Abingdon Press, did a beautiful job and I couldn’t be more pleased. I hope  you like it too! Look for it beginning January 6, 2015.
Cover I choose you today JPG