In this Issue

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Feature Article: Finding the Secrets to Contentment in Every Season of Life

Suzanne Recommends:

Inspirational Women's Garden Club

  • Resolving Conflict & Unhealthy Patterns from the Past, Wed, Sept 12, 7 pm EST

Special Event for Pastors and Women

  • Dr. Emerson Eggerichs - Mon, October 8, at 8 pm EST on "Cracking the Communication Code between Men and Women"


Finding the Secrets to Contentment in Every Season of Life

One of the realities of our lives is that we all experience a series of seasons. We go through childhood, anxious to be adolescents, we go through adolescence, anxious to become adults, we go through singleness, anxious to be married, we go through marriage without children, anxious to have children, and on it goes. Without recognizing the seasons of our lives, we can live in a state of chronic discontent, always wishing that we were already in the next season, rather than enjoying the current place we are in our lives.

I first gave this talk 9 years ago to a group of singles at Frontline, McLean Bible Church's 20s-30s singles' ministry. McLean Bible Church is situated just outside of Washington, DC, and part of the DC culture is that people arrive here to further their careers, often delaying marriage until well into their 30s or early 40s. Having children is often delayed as well, resulting in a rise in adopted children or multiples conceived through assisted reproductive technologies.

As you can imagine in a large church like McLean, there were many who were single and who were anxious to find the "right" person to marry so they could "get on" with their lives. This chronic longing many experienced left them in a place of ongoing frustration and discontent.

I shared with them principles that are keys to understanding our struggle with contentment. Later in the article, we'll look at "Keys to Victory" - secrets to finding contentment in every season.

  1. Focus on the advantages of the season we're in and recognize the tradeoffs that are also part of the season.

    Ecc. 3:1 tells us, " There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven." And verse 11a adds: He has made everything beautiful in its time. There are advantages to every season - freedom is the hallmark of the single life, and the great tradeoff when we marry. The missing love and companionship of one committed person for life is the tradeoff of being single. Even more freedom is lost when we have children that we we don't have children, yet there is tremendous joy we experience during the time of raising children.

    Gil and I are preparing for our son's birth in a month, and everyone keeps telling us, "Your life will never be the same." And of course it won't. We're now entering a new season as parents with new challenges, new joys, and new responsibilities. Yet we'll lose the freedom and mobility we've had as a couple without children. Yet we're excited about this new season! Please pray for us.

  2. Recognize contentment is learned, is a process and requires God's grace.

    Contentment is something we have to learn, and it's counter-cultural. Every day, we are bombarded with marketing messages, trying to persuade us that if we own this thing, or have this new car, or wear this new outfit, that we will be more significant, or more attractive.

    Yet Scripture teaches us that our contentment need not rest on the events and circumstances of our lives. Paul writes from Roman prison, which was not a fun place to be - "For I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well-fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all things through him who gives me strength (Phil. 4:11b-13)

    It is God's grace that enables us to learn contentment and endure the disappointment we experience in our lives. Paul wrote in 2 Cor. 9:8 regarding God's grace in giving that "God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work."

  3. Contentment wherever we are requires that we deeply trust God.

    For us to really experience contentment means that we have to trust God even in the midst of our deepest disappointments. It requires that we believe He knows what is best for us, and that we trust He will not withhold good from us. As God deepens our trust in Him through difficulties, it becomes easier to trust Him with greater areas.

    Psalm 84:11 was one of my favorite passages during my single years and a wonderful reminder during marriage and ministry that God's will was best and would unfold in time.

    "For the Lord God is a sun and a shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor, no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless."

  4. Understand contentment is God's will for us, along with thankfulness and gratitude, and is a choice we can choose for ourselves.

  5. We've all heard the phrase, "She's a glass half-full sort of person," or "he sees the glass as half-empty." Depending on which perspective we choose, we can feel happy and blessed or frustrated and miserable. Drs. Minirth and Meier wrote some books many years back called "Happiness is a Choice, Love is a Choice, and others." These highlighted the power we have to choose and positively effect outcomes in our lives.

    Yet, despite our choices, there will always be unfulfilled desires in our lives as we live in an imperfect world. However, the healthier choice is always to focus on what we have been given, rather than on what has not been given to us. This was the first and most ancient temptation - where Satan tempted Adam and Eve to focus on and desire that which was not given, rather than being thankful for the abundance with which God had blessed their lives.

    Psalm 16:5 tells us, "Lord, you have assigned me my portion and my cup; you have made my lot secure." We can choose to focus on our portion for this time and be grateful for it.

  6. Contentment involves recognizing and accepting that God's will is being worked out in our lives.

  7. One of the most difficult aspects of learning contentment is that part of God's will for us is the suffering and the pain we experience. Yet we probably all recognize that our greatest times of growth have come, not from the easy times when all was well in our lives, but from the difficult, often painful times.

    My long years as a single and many years of stretching leadership situations were challenging, yet I knew that God was working Christlikeness into my character that would be of far greater worth in his eyes than any accomplishments I achieved by His grace.

    Because of this, I am able to thank God for the difficulties as they helped me grow in grace and have given me insight to help others through similar struggles.

    Perhaps you've felt as you read this article that this issue doesn't apply to you. But for those of us who have struggled at times in these areas, here are some principles from God's Word to help us live victoriously and find the secrets of contentment in every season of life.

Keys to Victory along the Journey

  • Focus on the advantages of your current season and know those won't come again. Make the most of every day! It is a blessing that won't return to you again.

  • Recognize that becoming content is something you learn and that God will help you. Lean on His grace for the ability to bear what is difficult for you at this season of your life. It will eventually pass, and God may have a special purpose in allowing this difficulty in your life's journey for this season.

  • Study Scripture on God's character, pray to Him, and journal to build your relationship with Him. It's tough to trust anyone you don't know, and to be able to more deeply trust God, you need to grow to know Him at a deeper level.

  • Pray and keep a positive attitude, focusing on what God has given you and how He has blessed you, rather than on what is missing in your life right now.

  • Accept that God's will may include some difficult times in your life to produce the growth He desires in you. Submit to His process, so that your character will come forth like gold.

Joy and Strength has a wonderful devotional that reminds us of the tremendous sovereignty and love of God for us that is at work as He leads our lives. I pray this passage encourages you as it has done for me over the years.

    He knoweth what is in the darkness, and the light dwelleth with him (Dan. 2:22).

    God is too wise not to know all about us, and what is really best for us to be, and to have. And he is too good, not to desire our highest good; and too powerful, desiring, not to effect it. If, then, what he has appointed does not seem to us the best, or even to be good, our true course is to remember that He sees further than we do, and that we shall understand Him in time, when His plans have unfolded themselves; meanwhile casting all our cares upon Him, since He careth for us.
    (Henry Parry Liddon)

    If you would like to hear more topics like these, please join us for the September "Inspirational Women's Garden Club" event this Wednesday, September 12, at 7 p.m. EST. For more information, contact Suzanne at suzanne@suzannemartinez.com. We'd love to have you join us and bring a friend, too!


September Coaching Special

With enrollment this month in either the Inspirational Women's Garden Club or the Pastors' Inspired Leadership Forum, you’ll receive a complimentary 30-minute personal or church coaching consult. Just contact my office at suzanne@suzannemartinez.com. I'd love to help you.

Please let me know what issues you would like to hear about in the next newsletter. I'll do my best to address your concerns! I look forward to speaking with you all next month.

Many prayers and blessings to you all,



Relationship Tips is a monthly e-zine written and published by Suzanne Martinez, founder of SFM Consulting & Associates, LLC. Our purpose is to help leaders develop healthy leadership cultures and healthy relationships - cultures that promote growth and maximize personal and organizational performance.

You may copy, forward or distribute this e-zine if this copyright notice and contact information for Suzanne Martinez is included.

 

Suzanne Martinez
SFM Consulting & Associates, LLC
P.O. Box 9172
Reston, VA 20195-9172
703.282.2325
suzanne@suzannemartinez.com
www.suzannemartinez.com


Copyright ©SFM Consulting & Associates, LLC, 2006-2007.


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Relationship Tips
September 2007
Vol. I, Issue 10


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Upcoming Garden Club Teleseminars

Interested in joining the Inspirational Women's Garden Club?

It's a monthly get-together via telephone of women to network, build relationships with one another, and to discuss the Relationship Tips monthly topic.

Our next Inspirational Women's Garden Club event is:

Wed, September 12, 7 pm EST.

Our topic will be Resolving Conflict and Dealing with Unhealthy Patterns from the Past that Plague Your Relationships Today.

Other upcoming Garden Clubs:

Mon, October 8, 8 pm, EST

If you'd like more information about the Garden Club or to enroll, please go to Inspirational Women's Garden Club. You may hear a sample audio class at FREE Gift and FREE Handout. Hope you'll join us!


Becoming a Woman of Godly Character

Our words reflect our hearts and character. In the CD, "Becoming a Woman of Godly Character," Suzanne provides answers to common questions women ask and encourages you in your walk with Christ.

She'll also teach you qualities of a godly woman and the process whereby God changes you throughout your life to make you more like Christ.

Click here to order your copy...

Reversing the Curse: Rediscovering Joy and Fulfillment in Relationships

Reversing the Curse: Rediscovering Joy and Fulfillment in Relationships

In this four-week study guide, Suzanne leads you to simple, but powerful, tools to reverse the effects of the curse and transform your relationships in amazing ways.

As you learn and incorporate these three simple "power tools" into your relationships, you'll find you rediscover joy and fulfillment in your relationships in a new and fresh way.

Click here to order your copy!

Reversing the Curse: Rediscovering Joy and Fulfillment in Relationships


Would you Like to Hear Recent Garden Club Messages?

Developing Patience through Your Difficulties (April 2007)

Celebrating the Goodness of God in your Life (May 2007)

Dealing with Stress and Anxiety (June 2007)

Finding Rest for Your Soul (July 2007)

Conquering Bitterness through the Power of Forgiveness (August 2007)

If you'd like to hear recent messages on audio CD or to give copies as gifts to friends, contact Suzanne at (703) 282-2325 to order your copies. Copies will also be available in the shop very soon!

Inspiring Devotionals

Has your relationship with Christ lost its fervor? Have you gotten caught up in the stresses of life? Is your time with the Lord placed on the back burner?

These two devotionals will help renew your focus on Christ, gain strength for the trials you face, and enable you to give praise to God amidst whatever difficulties you encounter.

For a sample of Joy and Strength, see the final paragraphs of "Finding the Secrets to Contentment in Every Season of Life" at the left.

 

Devotionals

Shop here to obtain your own copy.


Men need respect!

In so many ways, society has focused on your need for love, while ignoring your husband's tremendous need for respect. Most women don't understand how men view certain things they say and do as disrespectful.

Dr. Emerson Eggerich's groundbreaking book, Love and Respect, helps you crack that code, enabling you to communicate with your husband in ways he will hear and understand. These make great gifts, too. Order yours today at www.suzannemartinez.com/shop

Love and Respect


Preview of September's Issue:

In October's issue of Relationship Tips, we'll focus on "Cracking the Communication Code between Men and Women."

Stay tuned for the next Relationship Tips!


About Suzanne

Suzanne France Martinez
Founder & Principal

During the last 20 years as Suzanne served in the marketplace and in ministry, she learned to excel amidst the pressing demands and challenges of leadership in each setting.

Suzanne's passion is to help leaders develop healthy leadership and healthy relationships - cultures that promote growth and maximize personal and organizational performance.

Suzanne desires to help leaders renew and refresh their vision, attain new levels of leadership excellence, and build healthy and strong leadership organizations.


Copyright © 2006-2007 SFM Consulting & Associates, LLC.