Chambersburg, PA

Side by Side

side by side photo with words

“The woman was made of a rib out of the side of Adam; not made out of his head to rule over him, nor out of his feet to be trampled upon by him, but out of his side to be equal with him, under his arm to be protected, and near his heart to be beloved.” ~ Matthew Henry

When the Lord created the heavens and the earth, He spoke everything into existence . . . except for Adam and Eve.

Adam He formed from the dust of the ground, and breathed the breathe of life into him. While Eve was fashioned from the rib of Adam, and made to be forever at his side.

I have read the story of creation time and time again and yet it wasn’t until this week did I see the significance in how she was formed. She was neither made to be in front of her husband nor behind him. Not created to be above him or below, but to be his equal . . . at his side.

It was while we were driving and I sat next to my husband in our car, did the truth of this scripture finally unveil itself to me. We had recently in effort to improve our relationship, made a commitment to do what may seem like a very crazy thing . . . date each other.

Ok, maybe that doesn’t seem very crazy.

As a counselor, for years I have recommended couples regularly engage in date night on a weekly basis, and yet in my own marriage we had never followed this wonderful and wise advice . . . until six weeks ago.

Every Saturday for the past six weeks, we have gone out on a date. We have intentionally spent time focusing only on each other, laughing and creating memories, listening and encouraging each other in love.

As each week past we started to notice a difference. We became more patient with each other. Offered one another more grace. Felt more peace and joy. And ultimately noticed the power struggle that would at times creep up and cause friction in our marriage . . . begin to fade away.

It was when I sat in the car, next to him, at his side, that I noticed it’s absence. I no longer felt the need to control him and boss him around, nor did I feel the weight of his agenda and desires pressing down on me.

I just felt equal.

I felt cared for under his loving arm, and also longed to be the protector of his heart.

I felt like a rib on his side. A part of him, and I loved it!

It amazes me how God weaves His truths into such small details. From the creation of man and woman, He has made it known that the two are to be side by side.

For me it took six weeks of dating to recognize this truth, and feel the tightly squeezing grasp of the power struggle begin to loosen and fall away. If only I would have taken my own advice all those years ago.

Maybe you too are like me. Finding yourself frequently in a power struggle with your groom. Fighting feelings of controlling him, or irritated by the weight of his desires.

Then I have a challenge for you . . .

I challenge you to date your husband.

Make the commitment. Give it highest priority. Choose to invest in this weekly time together, and allow the Lord to reveal this truth directly to you.  Let’s pray:

Dear Heavenly Father,

Thank you for weaving significance and truth into everything you have made.  As your creation I long to reflect you and discover the fullness of your ways in my life, and in the role you have blessed me with as a wife.  Please help me to remember to remain at my husband’s side.  Help me to love him and receive his love, that together our union may bring you glory.  Assist us in making each other a priority, and allow us time to grow our love.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

diane square Diane Swan is a Professional Christian Counselor, Speaker and Blogger who is passionate about using her God given gifts to assist ladies in living victorious lives in Christ. She enjoys sharing true life messages that relate to the complex lives of every day women and leaves them feeling equipped to be more than conquerors in all their battles. Diane and her husband Todd are the founders of Seven Swans Ministries, an organization devoted to living out the gifts of the Spirit by offering a unique array of services to encourage, edify and expand God’s kingdom. Connect with Diane anytime: Facebook Pinterest – Twitter – Website

The Runaway Bride

runaway bride with words

Photo: “Runaway Bride” by Leah Makin, edited

For years my girlfriends called me the runaway bride.

I’d be in a relationship. It would get serious. We’d talk marriage. I’d get close to taking the plunge, and then inevitably instead . . . I’d run.

I’d runaway. End the relationship. Often breaking their hearts.

At the time I wasn’t sure why I did this. I wanted to be married. I wanted to be loved. But whenever the topic came up in a relationship, and the conversation and action steps started to move in that direction, I’d completely freak out!

Maybe I was afraid I’d mess things up again. Maybe I felt like it was impossible for someone to love me over the long haul. Whatever the reason was, it was a horrible habit to have.

It persisted even after my salvation. The subconscious source of this tendency was obviously grasping tightly onto me, refusing to let go.

At one point I decided it would be best to remain single for awhile. I had no intentions of dating anyone, and so it was a complete surprise when I found myself starting to have feelings for an old friend.

Over the four years of our friendship his feelings and desire to date me was unconcealable. Anytime he came within ten feet of me his face would redden right up. And although I thought it was adorable, and I was very fond of him as a friend, I would have never in a million years suspect I’d ever fall for him . . . and yet that is exactly what I did.

I fell hard and fast! And for the first time in my life I just knew . . . I knew he was the one.

It wasn’t very long before he popped the big question and proposed. On one beautiful Spring evening in the park, lights blew out for blocks around, stars flew across the sky, and in a moment of all God’s beauty and majesty . . . I said “YES!”

But unfortunately old tendencies don’t disappear so easily, and although I loved him very much, and knew in my heart he was the one . . . I still completely freaked out!

In the past when this happened, it tended to get ugly pretty quick. Their harsh words mixed with guilt trips just gave me more fuel to run faster from them. But this time, I was not prepared for his response.

Instead of lashing out at me, he very sweetly told me to take all the time I needed, and that he wasn’t going anywhere. He said he had been in love with me and waited four years to date me, and that he would wait however long it takes to make me his bride.

And with those simple loved soaked words, it broke. The stronghold that grasped onto me so tightly finally broke loose. I realized in that moment not only did he love me, he had loved me long before I ever returned the affection. He loved me when I had no interest in him. He loved me at my worst and most broken. He loved me when I pushed him away. He had loved me first, and somehow with that realization I knew he would love me always.

To put it very plainly, he loved me like Christ loves the church.

Because that is exactly what Jesus does. He loves us long before we ever return His affection. He loves us when we have no interest in Him. He loves us at our worst and when we are most broken. He loves us when we reject Him and push Him away. He loved us first, and He will wait as long as it takes to make us His bride.

We can continue to try all we want to run away, but there is no place we can run His love won’t find us.

“Where can I flee from your spirit? Or where will I run from your presence?”
Psalm 139:7

How about you? Are you being a runaway bride? Are you running from the Bridegroom who is the genuine lover of your soul? Has fear, hurt, or confusion caused you to attempt to flee from His great love?

Stop running my dear, sweet sisters. He is a groom you can trust. He will never leave you nor forsake you. He has loved you with an everlasting love that knows no end, never tires or grows weary, never lessens or fades away.

It’s a love that breaks strongholds and sets you free.

 

diane square Diane Swan is a Professional Christian Counselor, Speaker and Blogger who is passionate about using her God given gifts to assist ladies in living victorious lives in Christ. She enjoys sharing true life messages that relate to the complex lives of every day women and leaves them feeling equipped to be more than conquerors in all their battles. Diane and her husband Todd are the founders of Seven Swans Ministries, an organization devoted to living out the gifts of the Spirit by offering a unique array of services to encourage, edify and expand God’s kingdom. Connect with Diane anytime: Facebook Pinterest – Twitter – Website

Can You Hear Me Now?

woman shoes with words

God keeps speaking to me this year about marriage . . . I keep ignoring the message.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to be a total heathen, and completely disregard God’s voice and direction. If you were to peak into my life, it would look more like the mom that is going 100 miles per hour with children constantly chattering in her ear, and her response is, “uh-huh, uh-huh, uh-huh, that’s great, that’s great, that’s great” without really paying any attention to what was being said.

That’s what my ignoring looks like.

But much like children, the longer you hurry along your way without truly acknowledging God, the louder He gets.

So let’s just say God got REALLY LOUD this week.

I first noticed God’s volume staring to rise when my husband asked me to go to the dreaded bible study class on marriage. Now you must understand that a few years ago we already went through this same bible study called iMarriage by Andy Stanley, and because I love you and you all are hopefully my sweet sisters in Christ that won’t judge me, I’m going to be real with you . . . I totally hated that study!!!!

After sitting through it for a few weeks I just couldn’t take it any more and I completely dropped out. Yes, that’s right . . . I am a marriage bible study drop out. I was the lady that suddenly disappeared from the group, leaving everyone puzzled and thinking, “I wonder why she’s not coming back?”

I’ll tell you why . . . because I hated it!!

It was painful! And why was it so painful? Two reasons, first because I completely disagreed with Andy Stanley’s main point (basically that we are not to have expectations of our spouse, that we are to be servants and love sacrificially), and second I hated it because I knew I wasn’t doing the first thing!

I felt this awful mixture of conviction and frustration every time I went to the class, that then carried over into our home, so I just stopped going. I couldn’t stand dealing with the frustration of why it was so wrong to think that in a marriage we have expectations and should fulfill them for each other. To me that made perfect sense, and yet simultaneously I would feel conviction deep inside because I knew I was called to love and serve sacrificially, regardless of my spouse’s ability to maintain the level of my expectations.

The power struggle between these two conflicting emotions was enough for me to finally call it quits, but the Lord has a funny way of bringing things back to our attention, and this time He had a fool proof plan.

For the first time in our marriage something happened that has never happened before. My husband’s unsaved brother and his fiancee accepted an invitation to come to church with us and go to this marriage bible study. They had been struggling in their relationship and were contemplating marriage and thought maybe this study would help. The opportunity that we had been praying for for over a decade finally arrived, but it all hinged on whether or not I would go and do a second round of iMarriage . . . ugh!

I have to tell you that if it wasn’t for the fact that their salvations were on the line, I would have said no. And God knew this. He knew it would be the only way to get me back into that class and finish the work that He started. Because at the end of last year God was already bringing all these things about how I was acting in my marriage to the surface.

Matter a fact if you read my blog posts from January and February of this year they were all about learning to be a spirit led, sacrificial wife. I had made it my New Year’s resolution to focus on that, and yet over the busy months of the year it started to take a back burner.

But during this past week God’s voice started to get louder and louder, slowly trying to remind me of my previous focus for the year. First I heard his voice prompt me with the study. Next I opened my online ministerial course work I am finishing and the lesson was on marriage. Even while I was working out at the gym I looked over at the announcement board and read the quote, “Fitness is like marriage, you can’t cheat on it and expect it to work.”

Now, don’t misinterpret what I am saying with that quotation. I am not cheating on my husband in an immoral way, but I am cheating him out of what he deserves as my husband . . . to be unconditionally and sacrificially loved by his wife without expectations and regardless of his actions.

Finally, with this revelation, God’s voice got loud enough to fully grab my attention. It was like He was saying through each of these prompts . . . “Can you hear me now? Can you hear me now? Can you hear me now?”

Yes.     Yes Lord.     Yes I can.

And with the opening up of my ears to the Lord I hear the truth of His ways. He tells me that there is no other relationship were I will have a greater opportunity to love and reflect Him like I can in marriage. That’s why Jesus’s relationship with the church is referred to as a marriage, and we are His bride, that He sacrificially gave up His own life for, and that He unconditionally loves.

However, for a moment, I couldn’t help but feel a bit discouraged when I thought about how easy it was for me to lose my focus, and fail at this call of reflecting Him . . . until I heard Him speak again. This time directly from the word in Phillipians 1:6

“And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you,

will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.”

 

And with those words I suddenly have hope for tomorrow, that some day the mighty work He is doing in me will finally be complete.

 

Until then if you are like me, finding yourself needing some encouragement and tips in this area, click on the links below to read posts on being a sacrificial, spirit led wife.  Lord knows I needed to go back and reread them for myself!

The New Years Challenge

The Curse

Make Me New

5 Resources for the Spirit Led Wife

Practice Real Love

Sacrificial Love – What it’s Really All About

Sacrificial Love – More of You and Less of Me

 

diane square Diane Swan is a Professional Christian Counselor, Speaker and Blogger who is passionate about using her God given gifts to assist ladies in living victorious lives in Christ. She enjoys sharing true life messages that relate to the complex lives of every day women and leaves them feeling equipped to be more than conquerors in all their battles. Diane and her husband Todd are the founders of Seven Swans Ministries, an organization devoted to living out the gifts of the Spirit by offering a unique array of services to encourage, edify and expand God’s kingdom. Connect with Diane anytime: Facebook Pinterest – Twitter – Website

Sacrificial Love – More of You and Less of Me

Hilltop Dreams by Benjamin Random, edited

Hilltop Dreams by Benjamin Random, edited

Loving sacrificially is the ultimate goal I aspire to achieve in all that I do, however  . . . one thing continues to creep in and hinder this holy objective . . . “ME!”

For years, and when I say years I mean my whole marriage, I have lived with the mindset that a husband and wife should make their expectations clear and commit to fulfilling them. As long as both agree to do this, both will continue to have those expectations met, and “feel” happy and loved. (Just so you know, this is NOT an example of sacrificial love! This is some crazy concept that I conjured up in my controlling mind.)

At the time this sounded reasonable in theory, and yet over ten years of marriage it somehow failed at being properly executed. “Feelings” of happiness and love frequently eluded us, and instead frustrations and resentment became familiar fixtures in our home.

Day to day, life generally played on very nicely . . . that is until we would bump into one of these rigid fixtures. It typically looked something like this:

“I made the dinner, so you should do the laundry.”

“I filled the trash, so you should empty it.”

“I put the kids to bed last night, so tonight is your turn.”

I kept trying to work under this theory that everything should be equal.  That all things should be done to what my standards and expectations dictated.

Whenever that didn’t happen, whenever “I felt” I was fulfilling my half of the unspoken arrangement more than he was . . .  I would go on strike.

I would refuse to make dinner, I would let the trash overflow onto the floor, and the kids could just go to bed when they got tired. (Totally pathetic. I know!)

As if that wasn’t enough to express my deep displeasure, I would also withhold my love. I made it very clear that he was not to talk to me, shouldn’t dare look at me, and if he wanted to continue to live  . . . he best not try to touch me until he met all of my expectations!

This cycle repeated for years.

Then one day after displaying these behaviors, I felt the Lord speaking to me and He asked, “Is that how I treated you? Did I wait till you did everything my way, and then I loved you and meet your needs?”

My answer was a resounding “No”.  That “no” began to echo off the hardened interior walls of my heart, loosening the calloused layers as the fullness of my first, sweet encounter with Christ replayed in my mind . . . afresh and anew.

No . . .  no . . .  that was not at all the way Jesus treated me.  In fact it was the complete opposite.

He pursued me, even as a sinner that was violating His ways.

He helped me, even though I gave Him no thanks.

He accepted me, even when I rejected Him.

He loved me. Right were I was.  Just as I was.

When I was a disobedient mess.  A hopeless cause.  A shame filled, broken nothing . . . He loved me.  And that love is a transforming power that set me free . . . and forever amended me.

That love, in the bible, is referred to as “agape love”. It is an unconditional love, a sacrificial love, that is always giving. It devotes total commitment to seek the highest best for another person, no matter how they may respond. This form of love is totally selfless and does not change whether the love given is returned or not, merited or not, requested or not.

From this a familiar verse took on a fresh meaning to me. “A new command I give you: Love one another.  As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” John 13:34

This command includes me loving my husband. I am to love him, as Christ has loved me . . . sacrificially.

That means with out expectations, regardless of his responses, and even on days I don’t think he deserves it . . . I am to love him regardless of how “I feel”.

As I began to listen to Christ, and place this command into action, something changed.

Within me.

Within my husband.

A brand-new level of freeness was born into each of us. I saw how that same sacrificial love that first transformed me all those years ago, was now flowing through me again, refashioning me more into His image, while remolding my marriage as well.

This type of love, this sacrificial love has to be the most powerful force in the world. It took Jesus to the cross. It sets sinners free. It restores broken souls, and even broken marriages.

But we must first be willing to deny our own wants at times, set our needs aside, and live as Christ.

We have to get the “ME” out of the way.

Whether this is something you are struggling with in your marriage, with a family member, or even a coworker, the bottom-line is all the same.  We must be willing to lay down the “ME” and be filled up with the “JESUS!” Only then will we be able to love sacrificially, and see the true powers of our Great Lord!  His ways will always be exceedingly better than any crazy concept we conjure up in our minds.

I want to see His amazing powers alive in our lives and relationships, and if you do too, let’s pray for this together.

Dear Lord Jesus,

The prayer of my heart is to be filled with more of you and less of me. Help me everyday to live as you have commanded me. Help me to see and understand your love on a deeper level, and fully receive your love, just as I am. Help me to let go of my ways, my hurts, and my frustrations so I can fully walk in Your ways, Your love, and Your peace. Lord Jesus, I bring my broken life, my broken pieces to you, and ask to be a vessel that you pour your love through onto other people. May your powers and ways be alive in my life.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

This is the seventh post in a series on becoming “Spirit Led Wives”. If you have been following these posts we have dove deeper into understanding more about our role as wives, and how to actively live and love as Christ.  These past seven weeks have led us right to Valentine’s Day.  In honor of this day that we celebrate love, here is a chance to receive some love from me in the form of a giveaway.

couples giveaway(Kit includes: Super soft throw blanket, two coffee cups, scented candle, “The Five Love Languages” book, and some yummy dark chocolates)

To enroll to win this “Coffee Cuddle Kit” all you have to do is first leave a comment below about someone you love (it can be anything about anyone you love) and second share this post on your Facebook page. (For easy access go to Seven Swans Ministries Facebook Page and click share under this post.)

Wednesday I will randomly select someone to win and message you through Facebook.

Praying all you Ladies feel the love of Christ this week and show His love to others!

 

diane square Diane Swan is a Professional Christian Counselor, Speaker and Blogger who is passionate about using her God given gifts to assist ladies in living victorious lives in Christ. She enjoys sharing true life messages that relate to the complex lives of every day women and leaves them feeling equipped to be more than conquerors in all their battles. Diane and her husband Todd are the founders of Seven Swans Ministries, an organization devoted to living out the gifts of the Spirit by offering a unique array of services to encourage, edify and expand God’s kingdom. Connect with Diane anytime: [btn text=”Facebook” tcolor=#008000 bcolor=#FFF link=”https://www.facebook.com/sevenswansministries.org?pnref=lhc”] – [btn text=”Twitter” tcolor=#008000 bcolor=#FFF link=”https://twitter.com/sevenswansmins”] – [btn text=”Pintrist” tcolor=#008000 bcolor=#FFF link=”http://www.pinterest.com/sevenswansmins/”] – [btn text=”Website” tcolor=#008000 bcolor=#FFF link=”http://sevenswansministries.org”]

Sacrificial Love – what it’s really all about!

sacrificial love

Love Never Stops by Vinoth Chander, edited

Years ago, there was this one time, that I had what I believed to be a GREAT idea (I’m gonna spoil the ending here a little bit and tell you upfront . . . I WAS WRONG!).

Our youngest children were just turning four.  We were finally past the intense stages of the terrible twos, and what I call the triple traumatic threes (far worse then the twos for certain), and our family was finally settling into a calmer, easier season.

That is until the urge happened. Now come on mamas, you know the urge, it’s the one that happens once your youngest baby starts to go off to preschool . . . the “I want another baby urge”.

Well, in prior posts, I may have made mention to the fact that my husband is a very wise man.  So after we had the twins, which were numbers four and five in our rank of children, my husband and I both COMPLETELY agreed that we should take any medical/surgerical assistance necessary to ensure that the numeric ranking in our home did not continue to rise. (Ladies, once you start spitting out two at a time, and you are already maxed out at five . . .  you fix that horse. Trust me you just do.)

So when the baby urge crept up, it did not take long before I realized that that just wasn’t gonna happen. That ship had sailed, those gates were closed. This is when I really started to grasp the understanding that my husband was wiser than I had previously assumed, because he knew I would be all too quick to agree on stopping at four and five, right after giving birth to four and five! He wasn’t going to wait a few years, he just knew me all too well.

With no “conceivable” ability to carry out and satisfy the “I want another baby urge”, I quickly moved to an alternative plan that would hopefully appease my desire, and that was the . . . “I want a puppy plan”. This was that “GREAT” idea I was talking about.

Surprisingly, however, my husband was NOT in favor of this “GREAT” idea. It was about to be summertime, and as a teacher my hubby was looking forward to a fun and less stressful summer at home with his newly manageable children. Training and attending to a puppy was not on his list of things he wanted to enjoy that summer.

After multiple conversations, and numerous attempts of him trying to explain his thoughts and feelings on this, he finally got so tired and frustrated with me he said, “Diane, just do whatever you think is best.” In my mind, I decided that this meant I had his approval . . . “WRONG AGAIN!”

I proceeded without his blessing, and with complete disregard for his feelings, and purchased the puppy.  I am fairly confident that I can say he had never felt more disrespected and wounded by me in our whole marriage. 

For two weeks I went to work and he stayed home and took care of the puppy, that by the way, acted exactly like a puppy (he cried all night, peed everywhere, and put everything in his mouth that wasn’t suppose to be there). It was like having a baby without the fun! And to top it off my husband that is typically a very open, affectionate, and talkative man, shared few words with me over those days and wore the constant look of hurt and betrayal in his eyes.

Never had I felt so convicted by my selfish actions as a wife.  I had put my wants and desires above my husband.  I had foolishly tried to enforce my agenda, and not once did I take into consideration how that would affect our marriage.  Nor did I ever consult with the Lord about what I should do prior to purchasing the puppy.

After fourteen days of living in this sin and feeling so disconnected from my husband, I couldn’t bare it any longer.  The price I paid for that puppy, to appease that silly urge, was far too great. And I was left wondering, “how do I fix this mess?” (Have you ever been there? It’s a dark place.)

I’m glad to say that the Lord was patiently waiting for me to turn to Him, and once I did, I started to feel the burden release and steps of restoration appear. I realized that my unwillingness to submit to my husband and to God, only left me with a lonely, tired heart and a half chewed up, messy house.

My husband was also patiently waiting to receive me, silently praying for the day I would reconsider my choices, my poor behaviors, and sincerely ask for forgiveness. When that day came he was gracious to forgive me, and even refused my offer to return the dog. After all, it really was never about the dog, it was all about whether or not I was willing to love my husband as God has called me, sacrificially and submissively. 

He just wanted to know that he was a priority, that his feelings mattered to me, and that as a wife I would respect his wishes, even if that meant at times I set mine aside.  Turns out he was doing a much better job at sacrificially loving me than I ever deserved.

Although this was a painful experience, I am still thankful for the “TRULY GREAT” lesson I learned through this lapse in my character.  The Word says “Do nothing from selfish or empty conceit, but with humility of mind, regard one another as more important than yourself.” Philippians 2:3

This is what sacrificial love is. It’s the love that Jesus has for us, the love that took him to the cross to lay His life down for us, even while we were insensitive, selfish, and ungrateful.

In marriage and life we have to ability to act as Christ and love sacrificially. Come back next week as we learn more about this “GREAT TRUTH”, and until then may His love abound in you and your marriages, carrying and directing you over all the days.

 

If you are wondering how things played out with that puppy . . . it’s almost six years later.  He is truly “man’s best friend”, and to date he continues to only chew my personal belongings, and has complete respect and reverence for every item my husband owns. Figures! 🙂

Here is a pic of the best buddies with the twins:

daddy and jj and twins

 

 

diane square   Diane Swan is a Professional Christian Counselor, Speaker and Blogger who is passionate about using her God given gifts to assist ladies in living victorious lives in Christ. She enjoys sharing true life messages that relate to the complex lives of every day women and leaves them feeling equipped to be more than conquerors in all their battles. Diane and her husband Todd are the founders of Seven Swans Ministries, an organization devoted to living out the gifts of the Spirit by offering a unique array of services to encourage, edify and expand God’s kingdom. Connect with Diane anytime: [btn text=”Facebook” tcolor=#008000 bcolor=#FFF link=”https://www.facebook.com/sevenswansministries.org?pnref=lhc”] – [btn text=”Twitter” tcolor=#008000 bcolor=#FFF link=”https://twitter.com/sevenswansmins”] – [btn text=”Pintrist” tcolor=#008000 bcolor=#FFF link=”http://www.pinterest.com/sevenswansmins/”] – [btn text=”Website” tcolor=#008000 bcolor=#FFF link=”http://sevenswansministries.org”]

Practice Real Love

Happy Feet by Ang Sherpa, edited

Happy Feet by Ang Sherpa, edited

Love. Simply stated it is that beautiful, euphoric sensation that originally drew most of us to the alter that day. We finally met our match!  The bond was firmly intact and every action and word spoken during those newly wed days only confirmed in our hearts that we would be in love forever.

But then it happened . . . life. Life jumped in and started to bump love off the front burner.  Things like busyness, babies, jobs, and agendas began to steal our attention.  Next, unmet needs that had been heating up to a simmer on the back burner now reached to a rolling boil of resentment, leaving love left to the side, cooling off quickly.

It happens to the best of couples, and leaves them feeling heavy hearted and wondering, “Where did the love go?”

Personally, I believe that we stop feeling love, because we stop doing the things that first produced love. Remember back to those early days in the beginning when you and your groom would constantly show each other love and affection? Hugging, kissing, holding hands, smiling, laughing  . . . all those things that came so easy at the time, produced so much love.

What you might not know is that each time you did one of those things a chemical reaction was occurring in your body.  A hormone called Oxytocin was being released and playing an important role in assisting you to bond with your groom.

This little hormone is frequently referred to as the “love hormone” or the “bonding hormone”.  Most often it is referenced when a woman is giving birth, and when she is nursing her child.  The woman’s body secretes this hormone and assist her in developing a maternal bond with her sweet, little, newborn baby.

But what many do not know is that this hormone is also responsible for assisting us to feel in love and attached to our mates.  Whenever we did those things like hug, kiss, and hold hands, our body repeatedly released the “love hormone” and continued to assist us in feeling in love and attached to that man we married. It continued to allow the bond of love to grow.

But once life stepped in, and hurt and resentment took over, the acts of love dwindled away, becoming fewer and farther between.  Simply stated, “less acts of love = less feelings of love”.

I find it so incredible that the great and almighty God designed our bodies to work this way! I also find it amazing that He shares these truths in His word.  1 John 3:18 says “Let’s not just talk about love, let’s practice real love.”

God knows that if we practice real love, and show our husbands love and affection that a chemical reaction will occur and the results will be beautiful. And this doesn’t just happen to wives, it happens to husbands too. The same hormone floods their bodies with each gentle and loving touch they receive from their wife.

The problem more often then not is are we willing to practice?  Are we willing to take our unmet needs and pot of resentment off the burner, give it to Jesus, and start to make cooking love a priority again?

If you feel the Spirit leading you to take this step and practice real love, here are ten “love producing action steps” to get you started.  Each one is scientifically proven to assist both husband and wife in releasing the “love hormone”:

  1. Hugging – Give your hubby at least one 20 second or longer hug a day while simultaneously praying love into his spirit.
  2. Touching  – A sweet, tender touch especially before getting out of bed in the morning, and prior to going to sleep at night. Let each day start and end with a physical and emotional connection between you and your groom.
  3. Kissing – Share at least one 5-10 second kiss per day, and look warmly into his eyes before and after the kiss.
  4. Smile – Offer your husband a warm smile, and whenever possible laugh with him!
  5. Massage – Giving your husband a foot massage is a beautiful way to show love, and release his stress in a non-sexual manner.  A body massage will also be typically well received, but be warned that the desire for number 10 will often be created.
  6. Hand Holding – Embrace one hand over the other while looking into each others eyes.
  7. Dancing – One of my favorites, no need for fancy moves, just two loving bodies in a sweet embrace, swaying to the sound of a favorite song.  (My children will have many memories of their parents enjoying a slow dance in several of the rooms in our home.)
  8. Walking – Go on a walk with your hubby, and to boost hormone release smile at him and hold his hand.
  9. Compliment – More specifically tell your husband what you love about his physical appearance.
  10. Love Making – This one tends to be a favorite for most husbands 😉 But to make it even better  . . . initiate, show your husband that you still desire him sexually, he needs to know these things.

I believe that if we as wives commit to doing these acts of love, along with our previous actions steps  (living by the Spirit and not by the flesh, surrendering it all into Jesus’ hands, and allowing God to give you a new, tender heart) we will begin to see forward movement in our marriages and feel God’s hand upon us, guiding us into a fulfilling spirit of joy.

Blessings to all of you lovely brides! May God’s words and ways be alive in your lives!

 

diane square   Diane Swan is a Professional Christian Counselor, Speaker and Blogger who is passionate about using her God given gifts to assist ladies in living victorious lives in Christ. She enjoys sharing true life messages that relate to the complex lives of every day women and leaves them feeling equipped to be more than conquerors in all their battles. Diane and her husband Todd are the founders of Seven Swans Ministries, an organization devoted to living out the gifts of the Spirit by offering a unique array of services to encourage, edify and expand God’s kingdom. Connect with Diane anytime: [btn text=”Facebook” tcolor=#008000 bcolor=#FFF link=”https://www.facebook.com/sevenswansministries.org?pnref=lhc”] – [btn text=”Twitter” tcolor=#008000 bcolor=#FFF link=”https://twitter.com/sevenswansmins”] – [btn text=”Pintrist” tcolor=#008000 bcolor=#FFF link=”http://www.pinterest.com/sevenswansmins/”] – [btn text=”Website” tcolor=#008000 bcolor=#FFF link=”http://sevenswansministries.org”] 

5 Resources for the Spirit Led Wife

Agape by Marcelino Rapayla Jr., edited

Agape by Marcelino Rapayla Jr., edited

Learning to become a spirit led wife is definitely tricky business.  Over the years of being a wife and counselor, I have read and reviewed many books on marriage. (Mostly because I have been desperately trying to figure out how to do this wife thing right!) Out of all the publications I have gone through, I came up with a list of my top five resources that greatly assist the spirit led wife:

(For a quick link to any of the resources listed below, simply click on the image and you will be directed to their website.)

5 love languages 1. The Five Love Langauges by New York Times bestselling author Dr. Gary Chapman: This book is a must read for all married couples! I have utilized this resource both professionally and personally  for years and continue to be blessed by its easy references and suggestions.

“The foundation of this book guides couples in identifying, understanding, and speaking their spouse’s primary love language—quality time, words of affirmation, gifts, acts of service, or physical touch.  By learning the five love languages, you and your spouse will discover your unique love languages and learn practical steps in truly loving each other. Chapters are categorized by love language for easy reference, and each one ends with specific, simple steps to express a specific language to your spouse and guide your marriage in the right direction.”

Check out the love languages assessment tool at http://www.5lovelanguages.com/profile/couples Click on “download pdf version” for easy access and begin to learn more about how you and your mate desire to be loved. (WARNING: in my professional experience approximately 9 out of 10 guys score physical touch as their number one love language, and 9 out of 10 women don’t! As if that is a surprise to any women 😉 )

116279_1 2.The Power of a Praying Wife by Stormie O’Martian: If you struggle with knowing how and what to pray about for your husband, this is the book for you!

Stormie shares from her heart her own personal struggles and victories in this area of her life. “She joyfully inspires you to develop a deeper relationship with your husband by utilizing the amazing power of prayer. This uplifting resource is packed with practical advice on praying for specific areas of your husband’s life, including his decision-making, fears, spiritual strength, role as father/leader, and faith and future.”

To date Stormie has sold over 28 million copies of her “The Power of Praying Series”. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed with this resource, because Ladies . . . transformation of you and your husband all starts with prayer!  For more information on The Power of a Praying Wife, and other resources Stormie has available, visit her website at http://www.stormieomartian.com

his needs her needs 3. His Needs, Her Needs by Dr. Willard F. Harley, Jr.: A colleague turned me on to this author years ago and I have thoroughly enjoyed his insight into the specific needs of husbands and wives.

This book helps couples identify each other’s most common needs and encourages them to invest in developing their relationship by committing to fulfill one another’s needs daily. By following some of his simple yet profound strategies, couples have the tools needed to avoid common problems that could gradually over time tear their marriage relationship apart. After reading, couples will come to realize that it is each other’s responsibility to ensure that their spouse does not lack in areas of their need.”

For a list of Dr. Willard’s needs for husbands and needs for wives visit his website at http://www.hisneedsherneeds.com/his-needs-her-needs-list.html (You may have already guessed . . . our needs are completely different!)

the unveiled wife 4. The Unveiled Wife at http://unveiledwife.com: Jennifer Smith has created a website, blog and several books designed to uplift and encourage wives. Her testimony of the disappointment, difficulties and pain she experienced in her marriage shines brightly with the healing and redeeming power of Christ. Jennifer openly discloses the distresses she battled through related to devastating obstacles that affected the intimacy in her relationship with her husband.

If you have ever gone through problems with intimacy in your marriage I highly recommend visiting Jennifer’s website, you will quickly find out that you are not alone in your battle.

Jennifer also offers an array of resources, daily devotionals, and you can sign up for email encouragement and receive specific prayers to pray over your husband and marriage. Also like her on facebook at www.facebook.com/unveiledwife and enjoy beautiful reminders and scriptural truths in your newsfeed.

51itXcQmFsL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_ 5. The Respect Dare by Nina Roesner: This 40 day devotional/dare is designed to assist wives in developing a deeper connection with God and their husbands. Nina helps wives understand the power behind “unconditional respect” and how through this biblical concept marriages are transformed and wives are able to joyfully glorify God in their role as spirit led wives.

I love the truths that Nina has woven into this book and how our ultimate goal is to “live as Christ” which means to constantly be “dying to self”. Watch this short clip and get a sneak peak at what you can expect from participating in The Respect Dare:

Personally in my life, at this time, I have chosen to work through The Respect Dare.  I have come to recognize that the under current of the majority of the hurts I have inflicted on my husband have been because of my unwillingness to show him unconditional respect.  I may have constantly told my husband the sweet words of “I love you”, but my actions repeatedly told him “you don’t do anything right because you are not doing it my way”.

I know this is where the Lord wants  to do a mighty work in me . . . how about you? Do you find yourself constantly correcting and directing your husband? Are you frequently feeling frustrated because your husband is not living up to your expectations and therefore you withhold respect from him? Do you feel the Lord prompting you to pick up this book and begin to learn how to overcome these tendencies and fully represent Christ in your role as wife?

Well if your answer is yes, I would love to get you started. I have a copy of The Respect Dare that I am glad to bless one of you lovely Ladies with. If you would like a chance to win the book, just simply share this post on your Facebook page (for easy access go to Seven Swans Ministries Facebook Page and click share on this post). At the end of the week I will randomly select a winner and message you through Facebook.

My prayer for you Ladies is that you will utilize the wisdom from these resources, and that they will be a blessing to you that leads to a beautiful testimony of God’s awesome power in your lives!

 

“Wisdom is the principal thing; Therefore get wisdom. And in all your getting, get understanding.” Proverbs 4: 7 

 

This is the fourth post in a series on being spirit led wives. Please come back and continue this journey with us as we learn and understand more of what God has for his beautiful brides.

 

diane square Diane Swan is a Professional Christian Counselor, Speaker and Blogger who is passionate about using her God given gifts to assist ladies in living victorious lives in Christ. She enjoys sharing true life messages that relate to the complex lives of every day women and leaves them feeling equipped to be more than conquerors in all their battles. Diane and her husband Todd are the founders of Seven Swans Ministries, an organization devoted to living out the gifts of the Spirit by offering a unique array of services to encourage, edify and expand God’s kingdom. Connect with Diane anytime: [btn text=”Facebook” tcolor=#008000 bcolor=#FFF link=”https://www.facebook.com/sevenswansministries.org?pnref=lhc”] – [btn text=”Twitter” tcolor=#008000 bcolor=#FFF link=”https://twitter.com/sevenswansmins”] – [btn text=”Pintrist” tcolor=#008000 bcolor=#FFF link=”http://www.pinterest.com/sevenswansmins/”] – [btn text=”Website” tcolor=#008000 bcolor=#FFF link=”http://sevenswansministries.org”]

Make Me New

A New Heart by Jubileelewis

A New Heart by Jubileelewis

As the days in January start to roll by I revel at how God has once again made another new year. I hear a prayer begin to emerge from a cry in my heart, “Lord, this year . . . make me new too.”  

Through this “wife’s new year’s challenge” I have began to realize my desperate need for God to make me new. Somehow over the many years of being married, I went from being a beautiful new bride with a sweet and tender heart, to transforming into a bossy and bothersome wife.

All that newness, all that freshness I felt as a bride, so alive with love and eager to please and pamper my husband, seemed to fade away with the passing years. A gentle heart that once felt overflowing with adoration for my husband, morphed into a hardened and stubborn heart that sought to enforce my own agenda.

For years I have been insisting on “doing it my way”.  Today I stare at the realization of where that has brought me . . . and how that has disfigured my once new and tender heart.  Truth is . . . my ways don’t work!

I feel the Lord lovingly embrace me and I sense His Spirit direct me in the next step.  I must surrender . . . surrender it all. My ways. My fears. My frustrations. My hurts. My heart. I must surrender it . . . and place it in His life giving hands.  

Ladies, when we surrender we are saying to the Lord, “I trust you. I believe your ways are true and better than my own, and even though I don’t know how you are going to make it all beautiful and new, I will choose to rest in the assurance that you will.”

The Lord says in Ezekiel 36:26, “And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart.” 

The Lord delights in making old things new. In transforming the broken into the beautiful. In these short few days of this new year, I am already seeing this occur. Fresh, new growth is sprouting out from within me, and to my delightful surprise, it is spreading into my husband’s heart as well.

So tell me Ladies, has your heart been broken? Have you allowed layers of hurt and disappointment to cover your sweet and tender heart? Do you feel a cry from within rising up and saying, “make me new too?”   Then let’s take our hearts to Jesus and pray  . . .

 

Dear Lord Jesus,

I realize that I have continued to do things my way, to get my needs met. And I recognize that it has not worked, but instead it has corroded my heart.  Please forgive me Jesus. Forgive me for not doing things as you have called me to. Forgive me for my actions, my thoughts, and the hardening of my heart.  Today I ask you to come into my heart and make me new. Peel the layers of past hurts and disappointments away, and reveal a new tender heart. I surrender it all to you Lord Jesus. Help me have a heart of a beautiful new bride, and help me to remember that in everything I do . . . I do it to glorify you. In your precious name, Amen.

 

This is the third post in a new year’s challenge series on becoming spirit lead wives. Our action steps thus far are:

  1. Live by the Spirit and not by the flesh
  2. Surrender it all into Jesus’ hands
  3. Allow God to give you a new, tender heart

Remember Ladies, a new heart doesn’t act in old ways, instead it pauses and prays!

 

Please come back and continue on this new year’s challenge with your group of Besties, as we join together and glorify God!  Love you Ladies!

 

 

diane square   Diane Swan is a Professional Christian Counselor, Speaker and Blogger who is passionate about using her God given gifts to assist ladies in living victorious lives in Christ. She enjoys sharing true life messages that relate to the complex lives of every day women and leaves them feeling equipped to be more than conquerors in all their battles. Diane and her husband Todd are the founders of Seven Swans Ministries, an organization devoted to living out the gifts of the Spirit by offering a unique array of services to encourage, edify and expand God’s kingdom. Connect with Diane anytime: [btn text=”Facebook” tcolor=#008000 bcolor=#FFF link=”https://www.facebook.com/sevenswansministries.org?pnref=lhc”] – [btn text=”Twitter” tcolor=#008000 bcolor=#FFF link=”https://twitter.com/sevenswansmins”] – [btn text=”Pintrist” tcolor=#008000 bcolor=#FFF link=”http://www.pinterest.com/sevenswansmins/”] – [btn text=”Website” tcolor=#008000 bcolor=#FFF link=”http://sevenswansministries.org”] 

The Curse

the curse

Humanoids Arguing by Vic, edited

In all honesty and complete transparency, I am recognizing that this is going to be one of the most difficult challenges I have ever done IN MY LIFE! I am only a few days into the new year and I am already finding myself coming up against my bossy, controlling flesh and my nagging, critical tongue.

I can’t help but scream out in my head, “Why is this so difficult Lord? Why can’t I just be a sweet, submissive, spirit lead wife? Why?? Why?? Why??”

I know this is what the Lord has called me to be, the scriptures repeat these truths . . . and yet I constantly feel defeated in this area . . . like some sort of defective wife. It just feels so much like a curse to me!

And then suddenly I remember,  it feels like a curse because it is one.

Way back in the beginning, the very beginning, back when it was just Adam and Eve, the two new lovebirds tasted the forbidden fruit and committed the original sin.  From that sin a curse was born, a multi-faceted curse, and a segment of that curse speaks directly to wives:

“To the woman he said, I will make your pains in childbearing very severe; with painful labor you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.”   Genesis 3:16

Being a mother of multiple children I can tell you the first part of that curse is in full effect. When I initially read that scripture and came to those words I was like, “Ok, check on that one! Definitely got that part of the curse.” (To completely understand I must tell you that I have given birth to twins and one of them got confused as to the appropriate exit plan and decided to come out backwards! Let me tell ya, I got the double potion on the pains of that curse during those deliveries : )

But when I read the second part of the curse I was a little perplexed by the verse, “Your desire will be for your husband”.  I thought to myself (in my sarcastic voice), “Well isn’t that just so special, the wife will desire her husband.”  I just wasn’t feeling the intensity of that part of the curse as I was the first part. The latter sounded sweet and endearing, and it did not resinate with me at all like the intensity of the pervious segment of the curse.

Then I looked at that verse in a different translation, and finally got my ah-ha moment. “I will sharpen the pain of your pregnancy and in pain you will give birth, and you will desire to control your husband but he will rule over you.”

And there it is, the second “check”. With that translation brought the intensity of that curse into full view, and all I could do was say, “Yup, I can check that one off too, got it, feel it, controlling flesh o’ mine in full effect!”

Ladies, this is where it all started . . . our control freak tendencies (that is if you are anything like me), our desire to want to be the boss in our marriages and of our husbands . . . it all started right here with this nasty little curse.

But don’t be completely discouraged, there is still good news.  Since the Holy Spirit comes and dwells inside of every believer, we are able, through His spirit, to overcome all things in this world.  “In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” Romans 8:37

This means that we are able to break free from the curse, and rise up to live out our lives as spirit filled wives. How do we exactly do that? Good question, and I’ll be honest, I’m still obviously in the early learning stages of that one, but what I have been noticing in just these few short days is that I have been doing two things almost nonstop . . .  pausing and praying.

My natural tendency is to constantly be in action, to be quick with my words and responses, to immediately enforce MY agenda. The problem with this is that this is NOT the way of the Spirit . . . this is the way of the flesh.

The flesh is what is cursed, if I continue to respond out of my flesh I will only perpetuate the cycle of the curse. But if I pause and pray, then I connect to His Spirit, and allow Him to work through me in the moment, so that His agenda may be achieved. And trust me, His agenda is always better than ours, it always leads to blessings.

So that is the start of our challenge. We are to live by the Spirit, not by the curse of the flesh. We are to continually, throughout our day and interactions with our husbands, press pause and pray. Let’s start right now, and pray this prayer together:

Dear Lord Jesus,

My heart’s desire is to glorify you in all I do, and in all that I am. I realize that I can not do this without your help and guidance. Please assist me everyday, during every moment to first turn to you, and respond out of your Spirit. Help me to be a wife that is radiant with your love, and grace, and joy, and peace. Give me a heart like yours to love and honor my husband as you have called me to do, and may your agenda be achieved and you be glorified. In Jesus Name, Amen.

 

diane square Diane Swan is a Professional Christian Counselor, Speaker and Blogger who is passionate about using her God given gifts to assist ladies in living victorious lives in Christ. She enjoys sharing true life messages that relate to the complex lives of every day women and leaves them feeling equipped to be more than conquerors in all their battles. Diane and her husband Todd are the founders of Seven Swans Ministries, an organization devoted to living out the gifts of the Spirit by offering a unique array of services to encourage, edify and expand God’s kingdom. Connect with Diane anytime: [btn text=”Facebook” tcolor=#008000 bcolor=#FFF link=”https://www.facebook.com/sevenswansministries.org?pnref=lhc”] – [btn text=”Twitter” tcolor=#008000 bcolor=#FFF link=”https://twitter.com/sevenswansmins”] – [btn text=”Pintrist” tcolor=#008000 bcolor=#FFF link=”http://www.pinterest.com/sevenswansmins/”] – [btn text=”Website” tcolor=#008000 bcolor=#FFF link=”http://sevenswansministries.org”]

The New Year’s Challenge

a wife's new years challenge

Heart Ring Light by Alex, edited

I see the New Year fastly approaching. With the close of 2014, I take a moment to sit and reflect on the year that has gone by. I reminisce about the many blessings and beautiful times celebrated during those last 365 days.

I do a self assessment. Reflecting on the obstacles I have overcome, the areas of growth that occurred, and the victories that came into sight.  I begin to thank the Lord for His hand upon my life over the past year, and I start to anticipate new events the future may bring . . . when I hear the Lord say, “Whoa, whoa, whoa my little one, share with me of things that you have not done.”

Tell me Ladies, do you remember the days of listening to records? Sitting alone in a favorite room and enjoying a sweet melody, when someone comes in and abruptly scratches the needle across the top? You go from “mmm that’s my jam” . . . to “awww man put my song back on!” Yeah  . . . that’s exactly how I was feeling when God interrupted my utopian walk down memory lane.

I was feeling that way because I knew EXACTLY what He was talking about. I didn’t have to “reminisce or reflect” on that one.  I was all too aware of my dirty little secret I spent little time allowing the Lord to transform during the previous four seasons.

Truth be told, I much more enjoyed recalling my shining moments than asking the Lord to reveal the hidden sins of my heart.  Now Ladies, please understand me, I felt no condemnation when the Lord brought this to my attention, because there is no condemnation in Christ (Romans 8:1). Period. End of story on that one.

However, I did feel conviction by the Holy Spirit.  It’s a loving conviction that says “open your eyes to see your sin, open your heart  to receive my grace, and open you life for me to transform.”  It’s really a beautiful thing. It’s because He loves us that He convicts us, He merely wants us to have the best, and let go of the junk.

So I am sure you are all dying to know what my junk is . . . let me put it to you this way, if I were to describe myself as a wife I would not be using many of the scriptures out of Proverbs 31. This is the passage that starts out “Who can find a virtuous and capable wife? She is worth more than precious rubies. Her husband can trust her, and she will greatly enrich his life.  She will not hinder him but help him all her life.”

So you ask, “who can find a virtuous and capable wife?”  Well some days, because of my horrible behaviors, I would want to answer, “probably NOT my husband.” (Please tell me I’m not the only wife that feels this way at times.)

Now if you were to ask my husband he would never say that, but you must know I married a very wise man . . . who is also extremely gracious!

But he does not have to confess these hidden unpleasant truths for me to know that I have not been the wife that God has called me to be.  Instead of being virtuous and capable, I have been critical and controlling.  I have seen over the years how I have hindered him instead of helped him, and on this day of reflection I felt the Lord lovingly challenge me once again to step into His Spirit and out of my flesh.

So what does this challenge look like? Well since it is the time of new year’s resolutions, first I’m going to choose to make this a year long priority. I’m going to move this to the front burner and turn it on highI know that this challenge is going to take a lot of attention and stirring in my spirit or Lord knows I will burn this thing to a crisp!

Like any good recipe this will require the right ingredients, and because I personally prefer to cook with others it will be open to all of my Besties out there that feel the Lord tugging at their apron to cook something new in their marriage.

In an attempt to kick off this year long challenge I will be devoting most of the posts in the month of January to becoming a Spirit lead wife. We will study what the scriptures have to say about this role, I’ll share practical tips from my counseling profession (I know I am a licensed professional that assists other couples in their marriage and yet I am still struggling with being a controlling, crazy wife . . .  sad but true!), and we will share and support each other because trust me there are going to be days we just don’t feel like cooking!

So there it is, my New Year’s Challenge to you Ladies . . .  are you ready? Maybe you are not sure, maybe you are thinking where is the “Make My Husband Better Challenge” . . . truth is Ladies, if that’s what you are thinking . . . the answer is that it’s right here . . . it starts with you.

I have heard this truth time and time again in my life, and I am ready to see it’s fullness . . . Come on, let’s give it a try and behold what the Lord can do with some broken women.  I’m ready to see new life in our marriages, I’m ready to glorify God in my role as a wife, and I’m ready to witness God’s truth come alive.  Get ready Ladies . . . it’s coming!

Who’s with me????

 

diane square  Diane Swan is a Professional Christian Counselor, Speaker and Blogger who is passionate about using her God given gifts to assist ladies in living victorious lives in Christ. She enjoys sharing true life messages that relate to the complex lives of every day women and leaves them feeling equipped to be more than conquerors in all their battles. Diane and her husband Todd are the founders of Seven Swans Ministries, an organization devoted to living out the gifts of the Spirit by offering a unique array of services to encourage, edify and expand God’s kingdom. Connect with Diane anytime: [btn text=”Facebook” tcolor=#008000 bcolor=#FFF link=”https://www.facebook.com/sevenswansministries.org?pnref=lhc”] – [btn text=”Twitter” tcolor=#008000 bcolor=#FFF link=”https://twitter.com/sevenswansmins”] – [btn text=”Pintrist” tcolor=#008000 bcolor=#FFF link=”http://www.pinterest.com/sevenswansmins/”] – [btn text=”Website” tcolor=#008000 bcolor=#FFF link=”http://sevenswansministries.org”]