Welcome to Charlotte's Readers. Sacred Passion is God's Idea,

Romance is vital in marriage. I married in 1962 and began to mentor Mothers of Preschoolers in 1994.. Every year since I began, my groups insist I do my "sex talk," but it is more than that. Being in right relationship with God, attending a vibrant and growing community of believers, choosing to forgive, to respect, and understanding submission is not surrender of self, all goes into the package that makes up a healthy marriage. I want to share it with you.

The blogs and mentor’s moments from those years are free. You are welcome to use them, share them, but they are copyrighted, and I would appreciate it if you cited charlottesreaders.com. God bless you. 

Mentor's Moments


Devotionals


Books


Newest Post

Love in Marriage--A Disclaimer
Thursday, August 27, 2015
Charlotte S. Snead

Love Disclaimer

Or: Fifty years ago

Or: Love is a Choice

Nothing has done more disservice to the institution of marriage than the Hollywood image of love:

Love makes you happy . . .

Love is constant great sex . . .

Love is warm and cozy . . .

Love is great fun . . .

At the end of the year after spending months demonstrating fifty years of marriage, I don’t want to give the idea that we never went through rough patches—sometimes for days, sometimes for months, and a couple of times for years.

I recently told the story of the time we’d been married probably less than a year when I asked Joe why he never told me he loved me anymore. His response was: “I married you didn’t I? Of course I love you. If I ever don’t, I’ll let you know.” Through the years, he has learned the women need words, and not a day goes by that he doesn’t say those magic words that make a woman’s heart soar: “I love you,” at least once, usually twice (morning an night) and often more.

One of our longer struggles—before we had children—was the period of time when we were both in graduate school. He was in medical school and I was in social work. You couldn’t have two fields farther apart. He focused on cold, scientifically provable fact. I focused on intuitive, nebulous emotion that can never be put in a test tube. I felt like we were going in opposite directions, and to a large extent, we were. He rarely went to church, and I was in a period of deep seeking and spiritual hunger, digging into God’s Word and growing by leaps and bounds. I remember sitting on the front porch of our little rented home one day and asking God if I had to stay married to this man the rest of my life. He said yes, and that I’d better work on making our marriage better.

When we both had our degrees, we discussed his choices for residency programs. To be a good doctor, he believed experience was the best teacher, and the more experience he had, the better doctor he would be, so he chose to go to Tulane University because their residents practiced at Charity Hospital, a facility for charity patients that housed a vast number of patients. Although supervised by university professors, the bulk of the hands-on care was provided by residents. He also planned to do an internship, and volunteer to go into the military—it was the Viet Nam era, and doctors were drafted out of training. By going this route, he’d get his service obligations out of the way, avoid the draft, and we’d have GI benefits during his residency. I knew an internship at Charity meant he would be working most of the time, and then he’d be gone to Viet Nam a year. The University where I received my Masters offered me a teaching position while I worked toward my PhD. Heck, we wouldn’t see much of each other anyway, would we? It sounded good to me, but when I prayed, God wouldn’t let me. I was already struggling with our different approaches to life—cold, hard facts versus intuitive feeling—and God made it clear to me if I chose to remain in North Carolina when he went to Louisiana, I would sign a death warrant to our marriage. Constant association with others would undermine our relationship. He would be among nurses and female doctors, and I would be among social scientists. We would both be tempted. I refused the fellowship. We didn’t discuss it. We didn’t pray together back then. I didn’t even tell him. I just followed him across country in my little VW bug.

That was the year I was first introduced to the charismatic movement, and began to seek an even closer relationship with God. When he left for Viet Nam, I was pregnant with our first child. I had prayed to learn to love him more and better and he was at war. I prayed desperately for him to come home to see the baby he had planted in my belly. Be careful how you pray!

I had another difficult season when one of our sons was acting out during his middle school years. Joe had plunged into building a practice in West Virginia, our boy was strong-willed and resented the hours his dad worked. Joe was terrified of losing everything in a lawsuit, and very judgmental of this struggling kid. I finally told him if I had to leave him to get our boy through this period of his life, I would. At told him I’d be back, but I’m not sure I meant it. I was worn out: worn out with worrying about both of them, worn out with the constant conflict, worn out of his long hours, worn out with his incessant fears. At that time our house was constantly full of boys. We had three teenage sons, and I was the stay-home mom, so their friends gravitated to our house for after-school snacks: cookies and lemonade in summer, potato soup in winter. After the laughing boys separated one afternoon, I stood at the sink and realized many of them were from broken homes, and our home was not. Clearly, God told me that afternoon we were those kids last, best hope, and I had made a covenant, not just with Joe, but also before this assembled company, and with God Himself. Marriage is God’s idea and God hates divorce.

Contrary to Hollywood, gals, Love is a Choice. Sometimes a tough one, but with God’s help, always a good one, in the absence of abuse—no woman should live with abuse, no children should either, and seeing a man abuse a woman gives both sons and daughters the wrong image of God’s plan for marriage.

That said, most of the time the tough choice to love pays off. After fifty years Joe and I both know and accept each other’s shortcomings and quirks. We share children and grandchildren. We walked the Duke Garden this month remembering where we first fell in love. We chose to fall in love over and over again. I want you to see the end of the choices, but know you will face tough times, too. By God’s grace, you can do this.

If I can help, I want to be there for you.

 

Recent Posts

Contentment--A Thanksgiving Devotion
Wednesday, August 26, 2015
Charlotte S. Snead

November is the season of Thanksgiving--my favorite holiday. Without the commercial fervor of Christmas, Thanksgiving stands alone as a day when America has followed the tradition of being grateful for the many varied and wonderful blessings of this unique nation. Paul writes his young disciple Timothy that “. . . godliness with contentment is great gain,” (I cannot help but wonder if discontent and ungodliness can be somehow linked—discontentment leads to greed and covetousness, which leads to whining and complaining, which leads to strife . . hmm, is there a link here?)In his letter to the Philippian church, he shares that he has learned to be content in whatever state he is in—pretty good since he was jailed, shipwrecked, beaten and left to die, full, and hungry more than once in his travels! In that same letter he urges us to “rejoice always.”

Contentment by current standards is at best an illusion—we are “content” sitting by a roaring fire with a cup of hot chocolate and a good book, the kids all tucked and sleeping in their beds. (When does that happen?!) How can Paul be content in jail/ or hungry? What great mystery does he have? A couple: the first is that God showed him the great secret of the ages, the puzzle that the prophets longed to unravel: one day God would live in us. We would not have to travel to a temple in Jerusalem to meet with Him. We would not have to touch the Holy Mountain. After the final sacrifice had been paid, after Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection, God would make Man His dwelling place. If we but allow Him to come in, He comes in and sits down to supper with us. Wow!

And the second mystery Paul knew is that, like all the benefits of God, contentment is received by faith. Are you tired of hearing me say you must choose love?—that love is not a feeling, it is a choice, to will and to do the best for another—your husband, your children? I know you don’t feel like stumbling around in the middle of the night, creaming your shin on the dresser drawer or stubbing your toe on the door. You choose to get up and soothe a baby’s hunger and fear. Once you are a little more awake, you may feel contentment as you look into that precious face, watching those eager lips tugging at your breast, but in the getting up, there is only Choice.

Likewise contentment. Contentment is:

  • choosing to count your blessings.
  • Choosing to remember that this life is but a fleeting shadow.
  • Choosing to look for a heavenly reward that is more real than this life.
  • Choosing to defer gratification—those children will grow up, one day you will be able to afford something if you save and wait.

When Joe was in residency, we chose to live on what he made—and it wasn’t much, believe me! We had two toddlers and a baby, and I would go to the discount grocery store in New Orleans, where the line extended back all the way through the store to the meat counter. I had one little girl in one cart, another in another cart, and Tom on my back. We took in three foster daughters and God sent a man from our church with a side of beef for our freezer! I was living with Goodwill furniture, while other resident’s wives had maids, fancy houses, and gorgeous furniture. Those women who were not content with where they were in life and bankrupted their husbands with heavy loads of debt are divorced. Their children grew up visiting their fathers. My children lived with both parents, and my husband praises me in the gates. [Proverbs 31]

Contentment, like love, is a Choice. I hate to play a broken record, but if I could take you to El Salvador, if you could walk the steep path down to the filthy water and dip it out of the river for your babies to drink—and often die—you would be content, for even the poorest of us in the United Sates are blessed by the standards of 95% of the earth’s population.

So go home, be grateful for warmth, for clothes, for food, for shelter, and be content.

In my grade school, back in the days when God was allowed in schools, we used to sing:

Come, ye thankful people, come, raise the song of harvest home.
All is safely gathered in, ere the winter storms begin.
God our Maker doth provide for our wants to be supplied;
Come to God’s own temple, come, raise the song of harvest home.

All the world is God’s own field, fruit unto His praise to yield;
Wheat and tares together sown unto joy or sorrow grown.
First the blade and then the ear, then the full corn shall appear;
Lord of harvest, grant that we wholesome grain and pure may be.

For the Lord our God shall come, and shall take His harvest home;
From His field shall in that day all offenses purge away,
Giving angels charge at last in the fire the tares to cast;
But the fruitful ears to store in His garner evermore.

Even so, Lord, quickly come, bring Thy final harvest home;
Gather Thou Thy people in, free from sorrow, free from sin,
There, forever purified, in Thy garner to abide;
Come, with all Thine angels come, raise the glorious harvest home.

Intimacy-It's More than you Think
Wednesday, August 26, 2015
Charlotte S. Snead

We are working our way through the nine needs in every woman’s life, and this month we consider: Intimacy:

 

Of the 8 definitions in Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary, only one is explicitly sexual, although that is what immediately jumps into our minds at the term. Those who know me well know that I like the thought of closing the bedroom door and jumping into bed naked, but the word does have a much richer meaning.

 

Recently, at the ripe age of 65, my husband told me that when he was a teenager he sought to do heroic exploits to turn the attention of the girls, but he has come to realize that what women really want is just someone who will listen to them. Do I hear an Amen? (It takes them a while to get it—do I hear another Amen? Why do you think so many young women fall for older men?)

 

One definition reads:   A close, familiar and usually affectionate or loving personal relationship with another person or group.

Another:  The quality of affecting someone in a comfortable, friendly or personally pleasing way –the intimacy of the room was enhanced by the warm colors.

And yet another: Privacy conducive to sharing a secret.

 

I have had hospitality coordinators who thought their job was to provide plates, napkins, and silverware. Jackie recognizes it is far more because she warms up the place, doesn’t she? She creates an atmosphere that is relaxing and comfortable, turning a big room into a cozy, friendly place. And I pray that our discussion groups can provide you with safe relationships so that you feel like someone listens, someone cares, and no one will betray your confidences.

 

Listen, being a wife and mother is a struggle. We don’t always feel loving—or even like we give a flip—about our husbands and children. Sometimes they ignore us or hurt us. Sometimes we don’t feel we can handle the job that has been thrust upon us. At your stage in life, usually your husbands feel the protector-provider instinct dominate them as they build their careers. They no longer seek to woo you with attentiveness, they are seeking to put a roof over your head and send your kids to college. They are terribly afraid of being laid off and not making it to the next advancement. You, on the other hand, are trapped in the house with sick kids who make incessant demands, whine, and do anything but listen to you. Kids don’t care about you, they demand for their needs to be met—and you are the meter out of food, protection, entertainment, safety, and love in endless supply.

So MOPS seeks to meet that intimacy need. Here someone else listens, cares, and responds; your secrets, your frustrations, your failures are safe—what happens in MOPS stays in MOPS. WOW

Now, those more explicit parts of intimacy must be met at home—we can’t do that for you here! But, if you are not so needy that you provoke him, hopefully you will be empowered to create that warm atmosphere at home, and be more responsive and understanding of your husband’s needs. When I do the talk on sexual fulfillment, I remind women that Paul specifically tells us in I Corinthians 7: do not deny our husbands, our bodies belong to them. (Sorry, I know that does not meet 21st Century feminist dogma—and I do not have time to go into the much harder command to husbands to love their wives as Christ loved the Church, laying His life down for it.)  God promises to deliver us, husbands and wives, from temptation, if we meet one another’s needs. You will often have to take his love by faith, not feeling the flush of excitement, not basking in the wooing attentiveness we women want—after all, a toddler could barge in at any time! But usually, if you walk in forgiveness, choosing to love and understand, you will be rewarded with great joy—and maybe once in awhile you can sneak in a whole night for yourselves.

Maximize the opportunity you have at MOPS, open up and share your hearts—you are not so different from any one of us here except perhaps if you do not know the Most Intimate One Who will all your burdens daily bear. If you need a Daily Confidant Who will always listen, love, forgive and accept you, any member of the team would be happy to introduce you to Him, He is waiting for you to open the door.

Interpreting Martian
Wednesday, August 26, 2015
Charlotte S. Snead

Many, many years ago in the dark corridors of history before even there were children in the Snead house, I asked my young husband: “Why don’t you tell me you love me anymore?”

His response was: “I do, every time I bring the paycheck home.” Wasn’t that romantic?

Now, about four decades later, he has learned a woman needs to hear “I love you,” every day, and he even says it more often than that, but do you know how he learned? We didn’t have Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus books back then, nor did we have articles in Readers Digest, or Gary Smalley’s book on the five love languages—I recommend it, by the way, it’s great! I told him, over and over: “Honey, women are different, we need reassurance, we need to hear it.” Then, when he did say the words every woman so longs to hear, I made it worth his while J

Sex is the same way—we women think men are mind readers, that they somehow should know what we want/like/need and just do it. So we pout and say: “If he loved me he would . . .” Now, come on, gals, let’s give them a break! Can you just say:  “Wow, when we watch a romantic movie together after you have let me soak in a hot tub while you got the kids to bed, it really is a turn-on.” Guess what? Even a man can understand that! And when he touches you, you need to tell him if it is a good touch or an uncomfortable one—he doesn’t know unless you do. This is a little foretaste of when I bring the sex-lex presentation later in MOPS: please tell the poor guy: “Wow, that makes me feel good,” or: “Oops, that’s a little uncomfortable.” (or even: “that hurts!”) They really do want to make it feel good, it’s better for them.

Now, have you ever had your husband walk around the car, kicking the tires? And they do that little thumb thing, where they stick their thumb in the tread and see how deep it is. Then they say, “We need to get you some new tires.” I want to interpret the Martian language for you, here it is: “I love you so much and if anything happened to you I would be devastated. I want to protect you because I just love you so much. I am going to get you new tires by the sweat of my brow so you will be safe and I can rest easily about you and the kids on the road.”

How about an oil change? Isn’t that romantic?

You see, God made men the protectors, and their way of showing love is by doing. We women are the communicators—that’s why God made us the primary keepers of the home—kids might never learn to talk if they stayed around men all the time!

Now my husband was raised by a father who was brought up by an abusive grandfather—his mother couldn’t tolerate the free-spirited, strong-willed boy that his dad was, so she sent him away from the farm and hunting dogs he loved to go into town and live with a stern old man who tried to beat him into obedience. Naturally, he never learned to communicate love. His mother lost her first son, a precocious child that she poured all of herself into for seven years, and suddenly a neighbor’s car snuffed out his life in a day. She had surgery to have Joe and his brother, but she seemed to have invested all her maternal instincts into the first son, or perhaps she was so afraid of losing them that she didn’t let herself love as deeply. At any rate, you can imagine with this background that Joe was very crippled when he came to expressing love. For many years I didn’t hear his expressions of love, I didn’t interpret the hard work to provide, those physical efforts to care for us. But through the years God showed me how truly deep and committed this faithful, loving man is. Awkward though his words might be, no woman was ever loved better than this gal right here!

And as the mom in the house, it is up to us to interpret Martian to our children. When stern Daddy disciplines, we must tell the children: “Daddy is afraid you will get hurt, that’s why he was so stern with you. Daddy wants his little girl to be safe.” For years especially our middle child resented his dad’s long hours—a combination of a drive to provide well for his family and the demands of his job as an orthopedic surgeon who must respond to trauma calls from 5 or 6 ERs in feeder counties around the town where he worked. One day I said to him: “David, Pop had a mom and a dad who never told him they loved him, and he

 doesn’t know how to express himself, so you know what he does? He buys you a Dodge pick-up. He gets you the best skis. He gives you a $20 bill when you go to the movies.”

When we were all in Panama, going in different directions one afternoon—the guys heading out to get their tuxes, the gals to shop, we made arrangements when and where we would meet, and he reached into his back pocket and pulled out his wallet. “Now,” he said: “who needs money?”

In unison the boys replied: “We love you, too, Pop,” and I knew I had succeeded. Not only did I understand his love language, they did, too. Now, go out there and listen with more than your ears, listen with your heart, because they say I love you every time they bring the paycheck home.

 

 

Making Friends
Wednesday, August 26, 2015
Charlotte S. Snead

On Wednesday nights here at this church, I work with the older elementary girls in our kids program. Each month, they can earn badges, similar to scouts. Last month our badge was “Friendship,” and we learned what it takes to be a good friend.

Our memory verse was from Ecclesiastes:  “Two are better than one, for they have a better return for their work. If one falls down, the other can help him up.” The girls related to that—you remember when you were a kid and Mom said, “You can’t go out to play until your room is clean!” Your friend wanted you to come outside and play, so she pitched in and helped. The work went fast, you even had a giggle or two, and in no time you were done, dashing out of the house, calling back: “All clean, Mom, see you later.”

We looked at a story everyone knows. Someone was trying to trick Jesus—they were always trying to trap him because the religious crowd was determined to put a stop to this threat to their turf. They wanted to get evidence he was a blasphemer and a fraud so they could kill him. This lawyer (some things never change) wanted to trap Jesus, so he asked him a religious question: “Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”  Jesus trumped the guy by asking him what the Law, the Old Testament Scriptures He came to earth to fulfill, said. Do you know the story? The lawyer replied: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind and your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus commended him on his Scriptural response, but the guy felt so showed up that he followed with another question: “Who is my neighbor?”

Now we get to “the rest of the story,” as Paul Harvey says. Jesus, as he was wont to do, told a teaching story, a parable, like Aesop’s Fables. In this story a man was traveling a desolate road—he must have gotten a late start, because robbers fell upon him, beat him horribly and took all he had, leaving him to die. Do you remember? A priest hurried by, and then a seminary professor, but they were too busy, too preoccupied, too fearful to stop and help the poor man. Then this guy came by, poured wine in his wounds—which was the antibiotic treatment of choice, the alcohol content in the wine cleansed the wound—and bandaged him up. He put him on his own donkey and probably walked himself to the nearest town. He got him a room in an inn, and paid the innkeeper to look in on him, bring him food and whatever he needed. Well the kicker was that this man who rescued him was of an outcast race, a group of people who had gotten their doctrine wrong, who were not pure Jews, a lowly Samaritan. Then Jesus simply asked: Who was the man’s neighbor? The lawyer who came to trap him must have choked on Jesus’ trap, because he had to admit that the outcast who had done righteousness, who had obeyed Scripture by showing mercy, had to be the neighbor, and not the self-righteous, hypocritical church folks. The Master simply stated the obvious: “Go, and do likewise.”

My dad was in the military, and I know it is hard to make friends when you move. The Master provides us with a vital key to being a neighbor in this popular story. Who was the neighbor? What did he do? So often when we have to disrupt our lives and follow our husbands or our jobs and move to a new place, we wait for others to be friendly to us, and we complain when they are not. But the Good Samaritan went out of his way to show mercy, to help another. He got involved in someone else’s life.

MOPS is whatever you make it to be. You can come twice a month, have free childcare and some instruction or some fun, and that is OK. But if you want to have friends, you need to be involved in other people’s lives. That doesn’t mean give them your donkey—although it might mean offering them a ride—but it does mean you have to extend yourself a bit. We can share in our discussion groups—our goal is that MOPS is a Safe Place where you can be real, admit your failings and find strength and comfort in the companionship of others who have also failed. But you can sit in your discussion groups, be a phony perfect person and never get the forgiveness and comfort we all crave when we have blown it.

MOPS is a ready-made Friendship Center, but to get the most out of MOPS, you need to participate. Go to as many play-dates as you can; your kids will develop friendships that will change their lives while you get out of the house. The kids learn how to cooperate with other kids—yes, you will have to intervene: Johnny will be bopped on the head and Suzie will have her dolly ripped out of her arms—that is part of learning how to be a friend. But for the most part the children will amuse each other while moms get out of the house, and enjoy a cup of coffee and some adult conversation.  Also, if you can find child-care, go to Moms nights out, have fun with adult friends and get to know them better.(If child care is a problem for enough of you, we can find an adult and teens who want to earn some money and open up the church nursery for a collection among you.)

When my grandson made the huge leap from a small private school to the public middle school, and he was terrified. I told him: “Look, you are a neat guy. You are funny and attractive; you are a guy everyone will want to have as a friend. Just go to school and be yourself, be nice to people and they will want to be your friend.”  Before it was even October, as we drove away from the school, he had the window down and his arm and head out, responding to kids hollering: “Bye, KJ, see you tomorrow.”

A wise man (Solomon) once said: “To have a friend, you must be a friend.” Go, and do likewise.