personal growth

5 Steps to De-Stress Your Holidays

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Are you done with feeling stuck like a 12 year-old when you go ‘home’ for the holidays?

All those family expectations, and roles we fall into, are draining. Somtimes it happens when we aren’t even aware of it. What if you didn’t have to get drawn into everyone else’s emotional chaos and you could choose how you wanted your family time to go?

You can.

De-Stress the Holidays

Here are 5 practical ways to maintain your peace and reclaim who you want to be.

  1. Practice daily self-care and check-in with your feelings.

    This could look like a five-minute step outside to get a deep breath and release tension. You have to be intentional and continue to validate what’s important to you. It’s okay to meet your own needs.

  2. Bust relationship triggers before they occur so they can’t derail you.

    This means you need to antiicpate Aunt Beth’s caring, but overly inquisitive interest in your love life. (See one-liners below.)

  3. Empower healthy boundaries for your time and energy.

    You don’t have to attend 3 dinners in one day. Even if your family doesn’t understand your new choices, you’re only responsible for you.

  4. Personalize ‘one-liner redirects’ to take the pressure off.

    Responses like, “Thanks for sharing.” “I’ll get back to you.” “What do you think I think about that?” will politely acknowledge the interaction but provide a way for you to not reveal any more than you are comfortable with.

  5. Create your own traditions that support your sense of happiness.

    The holidays (even if you’re going through a big transition) can still be a special time. Find little ways to capture meaningful moments.

Remember, being the authentic you is the best gift you can give yourself. And when you are at peace and fulfilled, that is the best gift you can give eveyone else.

Happy Holidays!

What if You Read ONE New Thing that Changed Your Life Forever?

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Have you ever read or heard something at ‘just the right time’ and it changed your life? 

This audio book did it for me and I hope the idea it sparked will change the lives of hundreds of thousands of women.  Want to hear more? 

My 24/7 mission is to make it easier for women to come forward for healing from sexual wounds.  I pray about this all the time and keep trying new ways to make the first step not so scary. I want women to see beyond the ache, the shame, the stuck lifestyle, and the loss of hope. I want them to know the ultimate healing and restoration that comes from being made new, and  fresh and beautiful through Father God’s love.  

And as I stood at my book table at last Saturday’s conference I saw how difficult it was for women to talk to me because I’m, you know, the ‘sex lady’. If they talk to me it means they have something to say to me. That’s a ‘duh’, but being associated with sex is a definite black/white issue with no gray.

So, that first step is a big one and they’re either ready or NOT ready. 

Usually, I have a couple of interactive boards for them to participate in. There are big questions like: “What brings you the most joy in your relationship?” “If you could put one fear about your relationship behind you, what is it?” These are great starters. Women use little sticky notes and post their answers all over the boards. But my table space was shared, so I wasn’t able to do that. That limited my display to my books.   

All around me vendors were engaging the crowd. Body butter, exchangeable-cover purses, exotic jewelry, flowy dresses… you name it. I was happy for them, of course, but still pondered…

what I could do.  

Then, Monday came and I was in the car for a four-hour road trip. Armed with a selection of snacks and audio books, I started my journey. Well, it didn’t take long to get into Joy Mangano’s story. I saw the movie “Joy” a couple of years ago and knew this book would be the real story.   

She emphasized two things about how she got to where she is today. First of all, from childhood up, she firmly believed- “My Voice Matters.”  Secondly, she was driven to “Make Lives Better”.

These points are foundational. 

As her story of triumph over so many “No’s” and scary obstacles continued, I felt a ROAR rising up within me. New purpose and determination surged inside of me. “Why Not Me?” “Why Can’t I also Come Up with an Amazing Idea?” 

So while rolling down the green landscape of the very-much-still-summer Florida highway, things began to click for me.

My Amazing Idea

A. I want to make it easier for women to take that first step.

B. What if there was something beautiful and intriguing they could do or buy, as evidence of a commitment to themselves to make the journey?   

Hmmm…. And then it happened. 

I have another friend who represents artisans all over the world who are survivors of human trafficking. She buys their products, resells them, and puts the money back into their lives. It’s an amazing! https://thescarletthreadstore.com/    

I had previously talked to her and knew she had artisans who made pieces that were similar to my logo- the infinity hearts. But now I’m thinking… wait a minute, what if… that double heart had a unique and specific meaning? What if it meant… “I value my heart and choose to stand up for myself AND I choose to receive Father God’s love (honor, beauty and wholeness).”  

The two hearts mean- “Love Your Heart. Receive God’s Heart.” 

It’s still in the brainstorming stage, but I’m super pumped. I’ll need to get the exact phrase and marketing piece together, but this could be such a beautiful gift. An inspiring way to give life to yourself.  

When a woman chooses to love her heart (by standing up even through the pain of a sexual wound)  and partner with ALL of Father God’s restoration and transformation… she has her identity, dignity and destiny back. She’s now among the living again.

That, says, “My Voice Matters. My Life is Better.” 

Please stay with me and follow this story to see how many captives we can set free and doors we can open.  It’s time for NO women to remain in her place of sexual wounds.

It’s time for #FreedomNow!

Frustrated Wife Disease and the 3 Mindset Shifts You Need to Overcome it and Get Powerful in Loving You

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If you’re breathing and alive on this planet, frustrations are a given, but sometimes there is a situation where they escalate and need immediate attention. Could that be you in your marriage?

 

What is Frustrated Wife Disease?

1. Not receiving the personalized love and attention you want (includes romance)

2. Being uncomfortable with sexual expectations (in marriage) because of lack of emotional connection

3. Giving up hope he will change or ever do anything different than what you’ve always known

 

Does that ring a bell?

 

Sure, these are legit bummers. As wives, we do have dreams, images of beautiful marriages, and expectations for certain behaviors. But do you know what I noticed? All of those frustrations are about him, his actions (or lack of), and his perceived mindset. Hmmm…

 

Can you control him or his actions… like even one little thing?

 

That would be a “NO!” He is responsible for himself. You are responsible for you. So what can you do?

 

Here’s what you have control over. Here’s what you can do:

1. Act on your choice.

Your choice is either being power-ful or power-less. That’s right. You either choose to control yourself or choose to let others control you. It’s a head-scratcher, I know, but hang with me.

2. Know what you want and how to ask for it.

Does this seem like a ‘no brainer’? “Of course I know what I want!!” But sometimes we let our emotions get in the driver’s seat and take control, to the point that the issue is clouded and we don’t know what the problem really is or what we want to be different. And even after all of that we need to know how to put into words he will get… to stop an argument even before it happens. Yesindeedy, the plot thickens. There is more depth to this idea than meets the eye.

3. Face the problem.

When you gain truth about where your relationship really is (not just where you are hurt, or think he is wrong, or the what ‘always’ happens) then, and only then, can you find a specific solution. That will build trust and vulnerability, which leads to intimacy- both emotional and sexual.

 

Look at that!! You are so powerful! You can truly impact your marriage right where you are, regardless on ‘him’. Now, I’m not saying husbands should do nothing, but if you are only waiting on him to make the difference in your marriage, well, you have given away your power.

 

When is it ever a good idea to give away your power?

 

Exactly! The answer is… NEVER.

 

So, if you are on board for becoming more powerful in who you are, then I have the most perfect program for you. It’s called “Healed and Happy Intimacy in Marriage”. I will help you to-

~Heal your heart from past sexual wounds and lies

~See your identity in God (loving yourself through His eyes)

~Create a plan to share ‘you’ and grow the understanding in your marriage

 

Wowser! That’s amazing! But there’s more.

 

I’m offering this at an Introductory price- 50% OFF- the regular price of $497.

For a spectacular $247 you get:

~4-weeks Healed & Happy Intimacy in Marriage program

~ (4) 1-hour private sessions

~4 weeks of communication and relationship skills, specific to where you are RIGHT NOW

~4 weeks of unlimited email access, for those urgent “Yikes!” moments when you want to keep your new skills fresh in the midst of… you guessed it, Frustration

 

So, what are you waiting for? Sign-Ups begin on Oct 4. There are only 5 spots.

Let’s set-up a call so you find out how this will meet what you want now. Plus, as a bonus, I’ll give you a Self-Value & Peace Growing Tool to help you TODAY!

And… I have Payment Plans.

Sign up for a call here:    https://calendly.com/mary-19/relationship-breakthrough-session       

  

#metoo Discovery on a Bike Ride

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Can You See the Light at the End of the Tunnel?

That question took on new meaning for me last week. I was up in the mountains of Montana on the Hiawatha Bike Trail. The views were spectacular. The weather conditions, perfect.  I’d been on the trail before, a few years ago, so I gave hardly a thought to the preparations, plus, I was going with a large and well-equipped group.

But, there were several things I had not taken into consideration.

My helmet didn’t fit well. I had not gotten used to the gears on this rental bike. I’d experienced a broken ankle and 5 months of not walking since my last bike trip here.

Why do I bring this up and how does it fit into a ‘sex and intimacy’ themed coaching? Stay with me to find out.

The first of the 9 tunnels, on the 15-mile trail, was 1.6 miles long. Pretty impressive. The idea of it certainly charged me up. (I’ve been known to do a few challenging things in my career, like direct a ropes course 40 feet in the air, in both KY and CO.) But for the most part, I was motivated by the opportunity of a change of pace and scenery to gain a fresh perspective on what God was speaking to my heart.

Shortly into the tunnel, things were going okay. I was with a small group of riders. I could hear their cheerful voices and see the overshot light of their headlamps. I acclimated to the darkness. It felt cool with the drips of condensation falling on my arms, and a bit thrilling to ride into the ‘unknown’.

But minutes later something different happened.

The group pulled ahead of me. I realized my own headlamp was not pointed directly in front. My vision became obstructed by the dimness. Then, I noticed the road not only had potholes in the gravel but also, it wasn’t flat. The center was a bit mounded. It sloped down on both sides to an edge with an 18” concrete drop off, to collect the dripping water and rain flow if it occurred.

Are you getting the picture of where I might be going with this now?

As I rode on, the nagging thoughts about my limited vision, uneven pedaling (due to the poorly adjusted gears), and realization of no place to pull over to realign, finally got to me. I began to lose my balance, drift down the sloping side, then overcorrect with the handlebars, which made everything worse. I picked up speed, zigzagged towards the side and thought, “Oh, my gosh! I’m gonna crash right here in the worst possible place for me AND everybody else behind me still riding this way.”  This went on for a short eternity. Back and forth, jiggling and bumping over the gravel, in the dimness.  At the last possible second, I put my foot down and caught myself before skidding into the concrete drop off.  I was relieved to not crash, but I was still in the tunnel, still in the darkness, and now my adrenaline was soaring. I felt even more encumbered.

How on earth was I gonna make it all the way through?

My plan of action was to slow down and just do what I could do. Thankfully, the next small group of riders came up and one of the guys went in front of me and shone their light. Whew! There was another wave of relief, but I still could not see the light at the end of the tunnel, figuratively or literally.

I began to pray silently and try to relax.

I knew my tension was not making anything any easier. And, I kept pedaling. As much as I wanted it all to stop immediately, as much as I was slightly embarrassed and still slightly afraid, I had to keep on going. In my head, the tunnel had to end at some point, if I could just keep going.

And then it happened.

Way in the distance, the light began to appear. I was instantly encouraged. Truly, I could see the tiniest bit of daylight peeking through. I couldn’t take my eyes off the dimly lit gravel path in front of me, but I was aware the light was there. It was such an encouragement.

What followed next though, caught me by surprise the most.

As the light grew, and the outline of other riders began to be more noticeable I thought it would all be over ASAP. With every rotation of the pedal, I thought surely we are there now, but it wasn’t so at all. One of the riders nearby called out, “Halfway mark!” and my heart sank. I was not out of the dark yet. Even though I could see the light, even though I had people around me, and even though I knew daylight and safety awaited me, I still had more work to do… mostly in my head, but also compelling my body forward, to ride that final stretch.  

And, so I did.

I came out the other side. Took some pictures, got a drink of water, adjusted my helmet and my gears and began the rest of the ride, enjoying the stunning evergreen vistas and waterfalls.

But there’s one more part to my story, which will explain the whole reason I share this experience.

After dinner that night, we met with friends to recap the day. Everyone was telling their best stories and the mood was light. I didn’t want to be a downer for the scene, but I did want to lightly reflect on my thoughts. I described that first tunnel (I had to ride through 8 more, but none of the subsequent tunnels were as long or precarious). I spoke of my surprise about traversing the mounded gravel road, in the dark with poorly adjusted gears and helmet, and how it had been more of a challenge than I wanted or expected.

And here’s where the beautiful ‘ah-ha’ moment took place.

My friend, who had also been on the trail with me, said, “I didn’t know you were experiencing that, too. I thought it was just me.”  And right then and there, each one of us was validated and supported. Our thoughts and feelings were honored and affirmed. She knew she wasn’t the only one.

This was the best kind of #metoo.

Here’s my point- the paths we take in life are sometimes not what we wanted or expected. Especially in regards to sex and intimacy, there can be slippery slopes, and long patches of darkness, plus the feeling of not being able to do anything but KEEP ON GOING. And though we know in our head that it’s just a season, there will be light at the end somehow, still,

...we have to keep on going.

So, for any woman who reads this, you don’t have to stay in that scary and uncertain place of darkness, sexually.

~If you’ve experienced belittling, manipulation, or distorted views about intimacy (even through the church) this is your light at the end of the tunnel.  

~If you’ve never been comfortable sharing what’s going on in your marriage, even though you know it’s just not right, this is your light at the end of the tunnel.

~If you’ve had sexual abuse or trauma in your past and it feels like you just can’t get over it, but you want to, this is your light at the end of the tunnel.

That’s my story, too.

God restored my heart and brought me to a place of happy and healthy relational intimacy. HE can do that for you, as well. I can ‘ride’ with you, shine the light, and help you through to a safe place to receive His acceptance, to love yourself with His love, and to create a future, full of confidence to be YOU.

Wow! Just how much would that impact your intimacy in your relationship?!!  

If this is you, and I know it’s many of you, let’s talk. You never have to feel trapped, in the dark, and unable to make the realignment and adjustments you want and need.  Email me and we’ll explore just how I can help you. hello@marywhitmanortiz.com

I dedicate my harrowing tale to you and declare a NEW trail is in your future.

Assertiveness Tips that Bring Clarity and Kick Fear OUT of the Picture.

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When delicate issues arise, that you REALLY want to talk about, it helps to have a clear plan. Part of that is settling some vulnerable areas in yourself, first. Fear maybe lurking around (disguised as anxiety, hurt or even resentment) and it will skew all of your attempts to clarify. No one likes to be on a ‘runaway feeling train’ so let’s see how tapping into God’s limitless love will bring peace, direction, and favor.

The Assertiveness Journey Helps You Know and Love Yourself.

1. Know What You Want

Although this may seem like a silly point, it is a great starting place. Step outside of the emotional turmoil caused by the tension in the relationship, and ask yourself what you’d love to see happen. Picture it vividly. Get in touch with the great feelings that come from this positive place. Journal the idea to keep it fresh, as a focal point.

2. Give Yourself Permission to Want It

This is where the confusion may lie. Have you put your desires at the bottom of the list, after everyone else… but you still want MORE from your relationship? That’s when resentment creeps in and you can feel justified to stay there. Let your self-awareness rise-up to pinpoint what mixed messages you’ve internalized about ‘you’ receiving what’s good for you. By the way, this is not a selfish practice or goal.

3. Settle the Fear Issue

When questions arise, when control is gone, when doubts get loud, we are walking in fear. It’s not all ‘bad’, but we want to get on the healthy side. Here’are a few reminders: You’re only responsible for you. You’re not a mind reader, and neither is he. Quit playing both sides of the conversation in your head. That closes the door and creates distance and more fear before you even start.

4. Establish Your Self-Value and Identity  

You have a choice about how you see yourself. It can either be God’s way or the way of the world, filled with junk. That may seem blunt, but if you want transformation, that’s the truth. It takes a little digging to discern what messages are building you up and what you need to let go of, but it’s worth the work. Restoring your self-value frees you to love courageously, to see the best in everyone, including you.

5. Ask for Your Wants (with Understanding as the Goal)

Growing closeness in the relationship means you want to share what’s going on inside of you, bringing some missing information to the communication. Find the best setting for you both. Use a supportive tone. Select nonjudgmental words, preferring more “I feel…” statements to open up vulnerability, empathy, and intimacy. Ask for him to listen. Be ready to really hear him in return.

Women Who Take Action Change Their Relationships.

If you’re a woman who ‘has it ALL’, but your relationships are more disconnected than close, you’d trade everything just to recreate the magic, especially in your marriage. Thankfully, there are powerful communication tools that will bring clarity, kick out fear, and revitalize true connection. Let’s talk more and see how Relationship Coaching will open the door to ‘Limitless Intimacy’ and  courageously loving in your marriage.

I'd Give Up Everything if He'd Hold My Hand

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According to everybody else, she's living the dream life (fabulous jewelry, resort vacations, and country club lifestyle). On the surface, it looks amazing, even enviable, but she knows the truth. He'd rather give her money to spend than his time to cuddle and talk. She doesn't have his heart. She's aching for intimacy.

It's an empty life to feel distance and not love.

There are 3 struggles she faces all the time.

1. She's conflicted by her Christain views. (I'm supposed to be happy and not complain, right? I should just be grateful and keep looking for the good in life.)

2. She battles with self-doubt. (What's wrong with me? What did I do? Why am I not good enough for him?)

3. She's suppressed her dream for real intimacy. (I guess this is all I get. That real love and closeness, where he actually wants me, just isn't possible.) 

But the truth is... You are justified to want MORE than the surface dream life. 

God's design is for real closeness and connection in your marriage. HE wants your heart to feel cherished and cared for. HE wants attention, attraction, and affection to be mutual between you.

Although there is a lot involved to create intimacy, you can begin this process by seeking ALL God says about your value. HE sees you as His precious daughter, beautiful and chosen. Let those words communicate your true value and we'll continue to find ways to bring real intimacy to your marriage.  

Remember, God's design for "Limtless Intimacy" is courageously loving wide open.

 

When Your Normal is 'Off' How is Your Relationship Impacted?

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Let's say you have a new influence on your every day life. Maybe your in-laws are visiting, your husband is out of town, or your child is sick. Those can all be stressors. You love the people in your life and want to be there for them, but if your ‘normal’ is off, you need to something about it. Something healthy and good.

First, identify that you don’t feel like yourself.

You need to separate your feelings from the actual events that are taking place. Are you sad about being ‘left out’ of a fun trip (even if it's for his work)? Are you irritated about having to give up your plans to provide the extra comfort your child needs? Are you frustrated that your husband slips back into ‘son’ role when his parents are in town and he minimizes his interaction with you?

Next, determine what you want to do about the situation.

Do you want your husband to listen and validate your feelings? Do you want him to brainstorm with you for some ‘us’ time even during this 'off' season? Do you want him to hear your heart while you repent for some selfishness or insecurity?

Last, find a way to include him in your journey.

Should you dump your rambling thoughts while the emotion is still intense? Should you tell him you need to ‘talk’ knowing that might make him ill at ease in anticipation? Should you diffuse yourself, share a snippet, and set-up an agreed upon time to share?

Relationships are living entities, forever changing, adjusting and providing opportunities for vulnerability and trust.

The process starts with getting your 100% value and identity from God. Then, you have to know and love yourself. After that, if mutual respect and understanding is the goal, you can find a healthy choice that keeps your emotional intimacy close.

Choosing to learn, while you’re in the middle of an ‘off normal’ season, is the hope that pulls you through to the next better place in ‘us’.

Be Brave!

The Magnolia Girl Story

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Years ago, during a very vulnerable season in my life, a young woman had a word for me about being like a Magnolia. She described how strong the blooms were, with leathery blossoms. At the time it was encouraging, but I was in such a place of hurt that I couldn’t process it all.

Fast-forward to 2016 and what God had placed on my heart to minister to women recovering from sexual abuse and dysfunction. (These are also Christian women who can’t quite bring themselves to come forward because some of their very issues revolve around mixed messages from the church.)

I didn't know how to frame my message.

I had the calling, the understanding, the personal and professional experience, but I’d been praying for the right image and words to connect with other women. It finally came to me, while visiting a state park.

The Magnolia is a beautiful flowering tree with a sweet scent.

What most people don't know, though, is it has an ancient existence, even before bees. It required pollination by beetles. That's one of the reasons the blooms are so tough, to allow the beetle to walk on the flower. But the beetle’s method was unorthodox by human standards and altogether repugnant. The beetle ate its way through the flower while defecating and rolling in it… relishing in the pollen. Even so, the Magnolia stood regal and continued to not just survive, but receive acclaim as the symbol of grace and strength.

Women are like Magnolias.

Some women have been walked on, robbed of their life-giving essence, and then defiled by filthy disgusting treatment. And yet… their divinely designed beauty and strength continue to flourish.

I combined my idea of supporting women with the history of the Magnolia.

‘Magnolia Girls’ is for women who have experienced the devastation of being used (trashed by other’s harmful and selfish sexual pursuits) and yet retained their strength as their true beauty. It's for women who have struggled with intimacy in their Christian marriage and the taboo of being able to talk about their concerns. 'Magnolia Girls' is for women seeking restoration from God for their delicate battles regarding sexual intimacy. Identifying as a ‘Magnolia Girl’ gives privacy for healing as the image is so positive (beauty, strength, and grace) to the public.

At this time support is available through small group sessions and private coaching with individual prayer ministry. For more details see http://www.marywhitmanortiz.com/magnolia

Support is also available for Christian leaders who want training to minister hope, truth, and grace to women with sexual intimacy struggles. Joint sessions are open to men and women who both desire more information. Personal ministry training is designed for women to minister to women. For more details see http://www.marywhitmanortiz.com/church  

 

What Happens When You Lose Hope?

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Her relationship was strained at best. There was a lot missing from their connection. It used to exist but had drifted away. Logical reasons were at play- job crisis, health concerns, and family schedule demands. But even with knowing WHY, it still hurt. She confessed it felt more ‘sad than helpful’ to pursue learning new ways to make it work.

THAT is lost hope.

The feelings of disappointment and hurt came in waves. She told herself to STOP thinking those thoughts and keep on going. But just stuffing it didn’t free her from the pain.

When our coaching call started she gave me some specific examples of what their communication looked like. She said, if a topic was too personal, her husband either didn’t listen, changed the subject or walked away. It was a complete shutdown and shut out.

Maybe you’ve known that pain, too. 

Without the tools or support to take care of yourself and make a difference, it seems overwhelming. Why bother? But with individualized communication tips, empathy, and God-inspired encouragement, all of that can turn around.

By the end of our appointment, we had discussed *10* possible communication ideas. *10*, not 3, 5, or 8, but *10*! That’s like going from a weekend athlete to an Olympic-trained super star. With that kind of personalized support, she knew she was not alone, that someone cared, and she was equipped with techniques that matched her situation and her timing. It was an empowering coaching session.

Her perspective changed by the end of our call.

(This is from a subsequent message.) “…You have encouraged me by talking with such conviction about the end goal; how our relationship can look like. So you have encouraged me to not give up, but to be intentional about doing what I can in a positive and loving way to make our relationship great!”  

I love what I do!!

Helping women to build their own confidence and to create amazing possibilities for their relationships is such a blessing. The strategies and support you need to transform your marriage are just a phone call away.  Let’s connect today for the relationship encouragement and empowerment that is custom-designed for where you are right NOW!

https://calendly.com/mary-19/2017-relationship-clarity

 

   

Christian Women Face Additional Obstacles to Sexual Intimacy

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If God says sex in marriage, between a husband and wife, is good, then why aren’t we celebrating it? Yes, sexual intimacy has been perverted by the world, so we know to abstain from some of those practices. But even sadder than that, it’s been shamed by the church, the very institution that could best represent God’s view.  No wonder Christian women, in church circles, find themselves struggling with even more obstacles because we as the church aren’t embracing God’s design.

 

What obstacles do women face?

 

1.       “How do I say, “Yes”, after saying “No” for so long?”

Thankfully, we are raising some kids who are keeping their purity until marriage. That is truly a blessing and helpful in so many ways. But, we don’t always prepare them with a healthy mindset about Godly sexuality. They get the ’No! No! No!’ message, and not the ‘Save Your Gift for Your Spouse to Express in a Free and Honoring Way!’ message. 

So, they reach their wedding night and don’t know how to transition to a new way of managing their sexuality. Awkwardness aside, who are they going to tell about their dilemma? They feel embarrassed with thoughts like, “I’m supposed to know what to do. This is supposed to be okay, but it doesn’t feel that way. Is something wrong with me?” And they don’t open up. Instead, they create a very unhealthy pattern of sexual activity without vulnerability, emotional intimacy, and transparency with their spouse. It’s the start of something very damaging.

2.       “Can a Christian woman be ‘Hot’ and Holy?”

Women typically connect everything in their life together. They’re more intuitive, so knowing about the kids’ school projects, the church fellowship dinner, and their husband’s big problem at work get intermingled, all the time. But when it comes to combining their Christian walk and their sexual being… not so much.

They keep these ideas very separate. Yes, they can embrace their love for God with as much commitment and passion as possible. But honoring their sexuality (in beautiful, Godly ways within marriage) still feels very OFF LIMITS, like they’re not supposed to even think about sex… and they’re married!!  

They almost have to disassociate with who they are at their core to even participate in sexual intimacy with their husband. It breaks down their identity as a woman and wife. They don’t know that they can be free to express themselves with the Father’s blessing.  And, again, who are they going to tell? This is the very reason they are having the problem!! There’s no safe space to have this talk. A healthy, whole view of mutual respect and pleasure (in marital intimacy) seems to be missing.

3.       “But, doesn’t the scripture say… ‘your body is not your own’?”

Scripture is often twisted. Whether intentionally communicated with a slant, for selfish motives or authoritarian control, or unintentionally perceived through a negative filter. Certain passages are highlighted that limit one’s freedom of thought and expression. This is sad for any topic it affects, but particularly harmful when it comes to the marriage bed. There are wives who feel like they have no say in their marital relations. Even though many scriptures highlight mutual respect and submission, those are not the passages they’re hearing the loudest.

These wives sense that if they displease their husband in this manner that they are displeasing God. So they are earning their place of acceptance in God by performing sexually for their husband.  It’s as if their value and Christian identity hinge on measuring up to a certain sexual standard.  If this pattern continues women feel if they choose to stand up for themselves and honor their bodies that means they have chosen to ‘leave God’. Why should they ever feel they have to choose between self-protection and being obedient to God? That is never how the Father wants healthy sexuality to be viewed.

4.      “Everybody watches porn, right?”

Pornography is wrong in every possible way. We know that it’s not a real representation of love-making. The people are actors and often there through sexual exploitation. We know repeated pornography usage reduces one's ability to interact easily with their spouse. It also breaks down neurological connections that can cause misfiring and permanent damage.  These facts are known in the secular understanding as dangers of pornography.

For a Christian wife (and/or husband) there are additional pitfalls. The Christian couple stood before God on their wedding day and made commitments to shared values. These values established heart choices towards each other and God. When a spouse chooses pornography as a lifestyle they betray their partner. Some consider this to be on par with adultery. This pornographic habit is also a choice to participate in a vulgar sin unto God. They bring that sin to their marriage bed. They have sinned against their own body and their spouse’s body as well. Shame sets in even if the activity is hidden. It not only destroys the individual but also their partner and family.     

5.       “I asked the church for help and now I feel worse.”

In the world, there are support groups for everything imaginable. Although the advice given isn’t always Godly or healthy, there are still open ears and kind hearts to listen and embrace. In the church, there has been some success for groups like Celebrate Recovery and a few others, but in general, there is limited support for women who want guidance for healing in regards to sexual intimacy issues.

So when she gathers her courage and seeks help through the church, but is pushed away or made to feel 'bad' about herself, she is crushed. It may cause her to shut down permanently and never get the help she needs. It’s as if her issues are doubled. The original pain has now been compiled with rejection. It’s so much hurt that she may choose to never become that vulnerable and trusting again. Once more, the very institution that could best communicate God’s message of hope has been a vehicle for darkness.

Now to their defense, I realize that we all have previous experiences and filters that shape our view. These church leaders are only operating out of their own understanding. They don’t know what they don’t know. It’s not a malicious oversight, but still, one for which they are responsible.     

 My prayer is for more truth to be available for the church at large so that more opportunities exist for freedom.

 

 What can we do about It?

Let’s grow a church culture that partners with God’s view on healthy sexuality and celebrates His goodness. Let’s identify and encourage female leaders with a propensity to minister grace and truth in this delicate topic. Let’s create a safe space for talks about intimacy.

For more information on services I offer to church and ministry leaders, and for individual women check out:

http://marywhitmanortiz.com/church 

   

The Best Way to Rebuild Your Identity

You look in the mirror and try to block out the crushing words you just heard, from your loved one. But the same ole thoughts rise up anyway, “I can’t believe they just said that… again! What’s wrong with them? Don’t they know that hurts my feelings?” But in conjunction with that, however, a deeper, less conscious message is replaying. “I guess I deserve that. What’s wrong with me? I’m such a failure.”

 

This cycle of negative messages received and then internalized, limits how you see yourself and how you enjoy life. You may only have brief moments of happiness and feeling free to be yourself. The rest of the time you’re squashed under the weight of someone else’s expectations. And you never seem to be… ENOUGH.

 

What if there was a way to release all of those harmful and degrading messages? What if you could see yourself differently and get back to the dreams you once held for your life?

 

It’s possible.

 

Acknowledging your feelings and facing your fears by yourself is overwhelming at the least, and even if you do allow those honest moments to happen… then what? It can be draining and more frustrating if there’s no idea how to get past it.

 

But if it’s done with a professional coach, who can guide you to a place of strength and restoration, you are NOT alone or without a PLAN.

 

To release the lies and replace them with God’s truth about who you really are is transforming and completely empowering. It realigns your heart and identity. Out of the ashes, your restored being (spirit, soul, and body) rises to embrace the gifts in your life that you previously may not have had the energy or motivation to pursue. You have what it takes to finally love freely, give freely, and enjoy true connection.   

 

Self-Value Transformation Empowerment Day

 

This all happens during an ALL day coaching session- “Self-Value Transformation Empowerment Day”.  It’s held at a relaxing, beachside setting in Jacksonville Beach, FL or virtually, at your convenience, via SKYPE. And, there is a pre-call to set up the day, plus 3 follow-up calls and 3 months of unlimited email access to support you as you apply your new understanding and self-value mindset.

 

Also, for clients who are interested, Inner Healing Prayer Ministry can be incorporated into your program, to invite Jesus into your healing process.

 

There’s even more to consider, so please go to http://www.marywhitmanortiz.com/self-value for all the details. Let’s book your day and bring transformation, healing and freedom to your heart and relationships.      

What Happens When We Know What We Want, What We Really, Really Want? (Part 4)

Knowing how to ask for what you want can be separated into 4 categories: People, Place, Time, Words

People

Ask yourself, “What people have I invited into my inner circle because they have shown me (by their behavior) that I am valued and safe?” If you TRUST them (you feel respected and believe in their integrity), then you can consider if they are someone with whom you want to build a deeper relationship. Sharing ‘what you want’ with them has the potential to grow your relationship.

 

Place

Once you’ve determined who you want to share with, you can consider an ideal location. This needs to be free from extra distractions (like kids in-and-out and sports on the TV) and full of options for comfort that would put you both at ease (like refreshments and pleasant seating). It can happen most anywhere, on which you both agree.

 

Time

The time focuses on when and how long you share. Picking a mutually agreeable time (usually not first thing in the morning or last thing in the evening) and committing to a limited amount of time (maybe 30 minutes max) will make the process easier. As you build on these kinds of experiences you can say more in less time and almost spontaneously go to a deeper level of communication.

 

Words

“I” statements are the least threatening way to reflect on your concerns. This relieves the other person of feeling judged or blamed. If you have an idea about a common issue, you could use phrases like, “I’m puzzled when you ________” or “I have a concern about _____and a request to change it to____”. Concentrate on your perspective, because the goal is to bring understanding.

 

Assertiveness will grow with you as you put it into practice more and more. As long as the goal is bringing your whole self to the situation (and not being bossy or sassy) then it’s actually very respectful and freeing for the both of you.

 

If this still seems to be a bit much to manage because of a backlog of negative messages that affect your self-esteem and confidence, I have another service to offer.

 

Build Your Self-Esteem

 

“Self-Value Transformation Empowerment Day” is a one-to-one ALL day coaching session. There is time to identify your feelings and fears, release the lies that have limited you and replace them with God’s truth about your identity. This is led in a relaxing, beachside setting at Jacksonville Beach, FL or virtually, at your convenience, through SKYPE.

For all the details go to: http://www.marywhitmanortiz.com/self-value

 

Let’s book your day and bring transformation, healing and freedom to your heart and relationships.      

Do You Know What You Want (What You Really, Really Want?)

girl kicking water at sunset

If you knew what you wanted… what you really, really wanted… how would that help you?

 

Is it all about getting your way? Is it to control other people and make your life easier, even happier? Is that the connotation we have sometimes when it comes to people freely expressing themselves and their requests?

 

Unfortunately, knowing what you want AND how to ask for it can be seen as a negative characteristic. But, when used in the best possible way, it’s a win-win-win. It actually produces self-confidence which makes everyone involved not only more comfortable but also more productive!

 

Let’s dive into that a bit more.

 

Being assertive means-

 

  •  I know what’s going on inside of me.

 

  • I’ve identified my feelings.

 

  • If I have a need, I can ask for it intentionally.

 

Just think about how much peace is created when we take responsibility for our needs (either by fulfilling them ourselves or with others). No more wondering what’s bothering you, how to get past a yucky feeling, or shutting down due to being overwhelmed.

 

And in personal relationships- how welcoming would it be to squelch the drama and just have meaningful conversations with reduced fear and a common goal of respecting and supporting one another?!!  Wow! Such a tremendous goal!

 

Knowing what you want… what you really, really want…  transforms your communication into something filled with PEACE, CLARITY, and RESPECT.

Stay tuned to find out ‘why we don’t usually choose assertiveness’, and the ‘step by step process to develop a healthy assertiveness lifestyle”.  And, a boundaries and love languages combo to bring it all together. Parts II, III and IV to follow.

When is a Secret NOT a Good Thing?

  She wanted to get away from it all for a little while.    She needed some time to think when ‘he’ wasn’t on her case or in her face. But even when she left the busyness and noise behind, his words were still ringing loud and strong in her thoughts. His actions were still fresh in her memories. How could she make it stop?      It wasn’t always like this.    When they were first together she felt like a princess. He was so attentive. He brought her gifts. He couldn’t get enough of being with her. But gradually things began to shift. It’s like she didn’t have total ownership of her thoughts or feelings anymore. Everything had to be shared with him and run through his perspective.  And, if that wasn’t bad enough, it all got weirdly connected to sex, too.     Yes, she wanted to please him, but at the same time, it was everything she could do to be intimate with him. She felt exposed, too vulnerable, and if she really faced it… she felt violated. It was like he didn’t want to be with her. He didn’t want to know her. He didn’t want to bond, to be close, or to be one. He wanted her, for her body, for what he could take for his enjoyment.     It made her cry. Often.      She loved him, but felt used by him.    She wanted to be with him, to make love to him, but it didn’t feel special like love. It felt cold and wrong.  There was no personal connection. There was only a physical act with a physiological response. To participate she had to separate who she was in her heart, from who she was in that moment... kidnapped by his agenda.     There was nothing godly or healthy in this scene, and now she felt stuck. Trapped in a twisted cycle of fooling everyone on the outside with a smile, while on the inside not admitting what was really happening. What could she do? How could she ever get past this? Out of this? Free from this?      Sexual trauma and dysfunction are all too common.    We’re devastated when it happens and disappointed to know it’s alive and well, even in the bedrooms of community and church leaders, alike. The worst part is… the more upstanding your position is in the community, the more likely you are to keep it a secret.     Secrets are only good for Christmas and surprise birthday parties.     If you are miserable and feel compromised in your sex life and intimacy, don’t keep it a secret. Find a dear trusted friend, a female Christian leader you know and respect, or seek professional help. It doesn’t have to stay that way.      Stay tuned for Parts Two and Three on why this is happening and how you can bring the hope, change and freedom you want. Remember, you are not alone. Even if life seems scary at this moment there are more options for you to choose.  Your heavenly Father calls you His beautiful and chosen daughter. That is the vision for your future. You can “Be Known & Loved.”

She wanted to get away from it all for a little while.

She needed some time to think when ‘he’ wasn’t on her case or in her face. But even when she left the busyness and noise behind, his words were still ringing loud and strong in her thoughts. His actions were still fresh in her memories. How could she make it stop?

 

It wasn’t always like this.

When they were first together she felt like a princess. He was so attentive. He brought her gifts. He couldn’t get enough of being with her. But gradually things began to shift. It’s like she didn’t have total ownership of her thoughts or feelings anymore. Everything had to be shared with him and run through his perspective.  And, if that wasn’t bad enough, it all got weirdly connected to sex, too.

 

Yes, she wanted to please him, but at the same time, it was everything she could do to be intimate with him. She felt exposed, too vulnerable, and if she really faced it… she felt violated. It was like he didn’t want to be with her. He didn’t want to know her. He didn’t want to bond, to be close, or to be one. He wanted her, for her body, for what he could take for his enjoyment.

 

It made her cry. Often.

 

She loved him, but felt used by him.

She wanted to be with him, to make love to him, but it didn’t feel special like love. It felt cold and wrong.  There was no personal connection. There was only a physical act with a physiological response. To participate she had to separate who she was in her heart, from who she was in that moment... kidnapped by his agenda.

 

There was nothing godly or healthy in this scene, and now she felt stuck. Trapped in a twisted cycle of fooling everyone on the outside with a smile, while on the inside not admitting what was really happening. What could she do? How could she ever get past this? Out of this? Free from this?

 

Sexual trauma and dysfunction are all too common.

We’re devastated when it happens and disappointed to know it’s alive and well, even in the bedrooms of community and church leaders, alike. The worst part is… the more upstanding your position is in the community, the more likely you are to keep it a secret.

 

Secrets are only good for Christmas and surprise birthday parties.

 

If you are miserable and feel compromised in your sex life and intimacy, don’t keep it a secret. Find a dear trusted friend, a female Christian leader you know and respect, or seek professional help. It doesn’t have to stay that way. 

 

Stay tuned for Parts Two and Three on why this is happening and how you can bring the hope, change and freedom you want. Remember, you are not alone. Even if life seems scary at this moment there are more options for you to choose.  Your heavenly Father calls you His beautiful and chosen daughter. That is the vision for your future. You can “Be Known & Loved.”

I am NOT an Expert on Trauma, but...

I may not be a trauma expert, but I know we’ve all been impacted by Hurricane Matthew.

My weekend had an unusual twist. I was out-of-town on a previously scheduled trip. As a matter of fact, this weekend had been in the making for 30 years, as it was my husband’s college reunion.

So we scrambled around on Wednesday, like everyone else, to get extra water, tuna fish, peanut butter and batteries. I even have an empty bread aisle photo from Publix to document my errands.

But we were also packing to head north (think first cool spell) and for me, I was prepping to make a good first impression on his important friends.

Our flight, thankfully, was set for Thursday, before the worst of the weather reached our area, but it was a super strange to leave with such mixed emotions. I was torn to not stay with my home, so the excitement of our upcoming plans stayed just out-of-reach in my heart.

And then we waited, like everyone local, but we were out-of-state.

Being long distance meant we only caught bits and pieces of the news, and looked like ‘unsocial’ friends with faces buried in the limited feed on our phones. Arrgh! It was frustrating and sad and a bit scary at times.

I don’t do ‘pretend’ (hide things) well, so I had to be real.

I opened up to these new friends about my concerns and instantly bonded, connecting at a deeper level. That helped so much.

Finally we got the word that the worse had passed and we personally had been spared from most of the damage. That was a huge relief. My feelings were still tugged at by everyone else’s experiences, but after that I could give myself a little more to all the fun and reminiscing.

And then we arrived home last night.

My heart was in my gut as we drove away from the airport. What would I see? How would I handle the damage first hand? Seeing it via the TV or through friend’s Facebook posts was one thing, but now I was having my own experience with it.

It was like my beloved city, and especially my friend the beach, had been ‘violated’ while I was away. That may sound strange, but all of these other emotions got stirred up. I felt at a loss for not being here, and equally disturbed by the end of innocence of my safe haven.  

Though very grateful for my personal situation of minimal clean-up, I could sense some grief creeping into my feelings.

Life as we knew it had come to an end.   

That’s when I realized, whether your loss of property was big or small, there is another loss to consider. Our normal was gone. Our peace had been significantly disrupted. Our lives would never be the same.

So, if the raking, cleaning and sorting through damaged mess seems to really be getting to you, let me offer these words…

Give yourself some grace.

 

  • Although this extra care and work load requires new adjustments, inconveniences and stressful hassles, take some time for you.

 

  • It’s okay to feel sad (or whatever you are feeling). That’s ‘normal’ and healthy for you to acknowledge.

 

  • Look for opportunities to be with other people. This can include providing physical help or just being there. Giving to others keeps your perspective balanced and removes the heaviness of isolation.

 

  • Be aware that waves of sadness, frustration, and overwhelm could be around for a while. Once again, it’s uncomfortable and not something you may choose, but ignoring or suppressing it will not help.

 

  • Know that you are cared for and valued, and your heavenly Father is always available to provide you with peace and strength.

“I have set the Lord continually before me; because He is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.” Psalm 16: 8   

As with all storms and trials, courage and character await you on the other side.

May the impact of Hurricane Matthew also bring you to a place of grace.

Jacksonville, we have another day.     

I have a Confession

Confession Time. I have CCD.

You may not have heard of it before. It’s Creative Compulsion Disorder.

The symptoms include having a notebook or recording device on my person at all times to CAPTURE the ideas that pop up in my head and won’t leave me alone until I put them in a SAFE place.

It also means when I go from one room to the next I’m super INSPIRED to start a new project.

Case in point:

I walk to the kitchen to get a glass of water. I want to add some lemon or peppermint oil to my glass.

 My oils are stored under my bathroom sink. When I pull out the container I see some other baskets with hair products that are DISLODGED. I know there’s a better way to store them, so I start to REARRANGE them immediately. But, why stop there?

There are several bottles way too low and should be PITCHED. My bathroom waste basket needs to be emptied before I start filling it up with new trash. I think I’ll take it straight to the can outside.

Beside me always is my Miniature Schnauzer, Niki. He wants to go outside as well.

On the way back from DUMPING my wastebasket in the large can near the garage, I notice my landscaping. There are a few strands of monkey grass that have yellowed. I reach down to POP them out at the root.

Looking up to see where Niki has WANDERED to, I notice some twigs that have fallen in the yard as well. I SCOOP them up as I call him to go inside.

Back in the house I realize I’m THIRSTY. I go to the kitchen for a drink and remember I’d already poured myself a glass.   I look at the time and realize I have an appointment coming up SOONER than I thought.

I quickly sort the bathroom items, maybe not as ROBUSTLY as I originally planned, and tidy up the bathroom.

Then I put some peppermint in my glass. By this time, my mind has deliciously WANDERED as I’ve loosely MEDITATED on a Proverb I read earlier to ‘guard your heart’.

I JUMP up to write about something very deep.

As a child I never knew I was RESPONSIBLE for my heart, my whole person. My heart was not my own, in that others in my family DOMINATED the atmosphere with their emotions and I always felt PREY to their whims.

Only in the last 7 years have I begun to see and UNDERSTAND how that affected me.

By now I’m caught up in deep awe and APPRECIATION of being rescued from that system and mindset.

 I marvel at God’s goodness. I’m so thrilled for the FREEDOM I know. I want to share this. It moves me in a POWERFUL way.

 I return to my computer to expound from this soft place of REFLECTION and contemplation. All is well with my soul. I feel His PLEASURE as I write, creating a path for others to know freedom.

***My second confession is I thought I created this ‘disorder’.***

But I googled it after I wrote the above scenario. It turns out others have used it. I read their stories and was INSPIRED again to celebrate the Father’s design on my life, which led to more writing. And, now I need more water.

Time for the truth.

My Masters degree is in Gifted Education. I went back to school later in life when I had to re-establish my IDENTITY. I learned about myself, life and how to TRUST God at new places, out of desperation and dependence.

It was a GODSEND how I even ended up in Tuscaloosa, at The University of Alabama, was able to pass the MAT, and survive a TORNADO in only two months. But that’s another story.    

My point:

Celebrate YOU! Your uniqueness is a GIFT to you and the world. We need you to be you.

---And if you get thirsty… bring a notebook.  

So, What do you do?

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“So, what is it you do?”

I get asked this fairly often and I take it as a great compliment. I have a BIG heart for seeing women FREE, fulfilled, and loving themselves, as God does.

At the core of every relationship status- married and struggling, divorced and starting over, single and wondering, committed, yet wanting more- the key foundation is: are you KNOWN and LOVED?

We crave emotional connection.

Our very DNA was divinely wired for being loved.

If we sense that someone has invested their time, intention and care into our lives… we can do ANYTHING. That SUPPORT, personal VULNERABILITY, and COMMITMENT communicates:

 

---I matter.

 

---My thoughts, feelings and needs count.

 

---My life is valuable.

 

But, being KNOWN and LOVED by others, only happens when you first know and love… YOU!

***That’s what I do.***

 

I help women joyfully navigate the intricacies of being KNOWN and LOVED, so you can create relationships full of meaning and closeness.

My Relationship Coaching is open to ALL women, wherever they are in in their relationship status, who want:

  1. Freedom to accept, LOVE, and be themselves

  2. Super practical insight to COMMUNICATE clearly, even in conflict

  3. Healthy boundaries to HEAR, honor, and protect your heart

Through my Intrapersonal Realignment process you RELEASE the lies that limited you and REPLACE them with the truth of how your heavenly Father sees you.

Personal transformation is yours today, when you Know and Love yourself.