Thursday, December 13, 2012

Thank God for the washing machine

With Christmas season being upon us, I always have the mixed feelings.  I had to learn a hard lesson - being thankful for my washing machine - instead of wishing for things to be better in certain areas of my life.

A few years ago, I took my daughters shopping for a few things.  I planned on getting them both a couple pieces of clothing, but gave them my usual rule, "Don't ask, let me offer" because nothing takes away my love for blessing them faster than when they bring half the store to me with those "puppy dog eyes". It started well with them honoring my request, but then before I knew it, bit by bit they brought more to me - and I was totally overwhelmed with their desire to bring the whole clothing section home.

I sadden at the thought of times God gives us gifts - from His heart, and we don't accept them with gratitude, but rather want more. a parent, that's a heartbreaking thought that I've done that to my Best friend/Creator of the universe.

I made them put it all back, headed home - told them it would benefit their health to give me a moment by myself.  As I took a deep breath, I heard The Lord talk to me about PERSPECTIVE. The Haiti earthquake JUST happened, so I pulled my computer out, opened it to pictures of the tent city those precious people were living in, and called my girls in.  They were quiet as I explained that was all the Haitian people now owned, and lived in.  I asked if they thought frilly cute-sy panties were at the top of their wishlist?

I too had to learn the hard lesson of perspective - from times of feeling sad because the beautiful Christmas decor or gifts were out of my budget, and yet TRULY finding it in myself to be thankful I'm able to go grocery shopping for my family - and no matter what kind of roof I have, I HAVE one.  I see more and more people in the road with "hungry" signs, and see the natural disaster rate increase (like those poor people affected right now trying to rebuild from Sandy).

Now I'm NOT against beautiful Christmases, but I know God brings us through seasons where that may not happen THIS year and no matter where we are, or what we have, we need to have a heart of thankfulness, JOY, and knowing God is ALWAYS working on our behalf - even if it's to strip us for a season.

We've had some unsettling years of moving so much (and coming from a background of living in 2 homes my whole life, that was difficult), uncertain financial state, much stripping from God, and instability.  I had times of being soo depressed, and pleading with God - but He had to bring me to a place that no matter how small, I needed to be thankful for what I do have.  Right down to:
  • Thank you God for the washing machine, and soap to clean my family's clothes - because there are people all over don't even have THAT privilege.  
  • Thank you God for our home - even if will be a different one next week - because there are people all over who don't even have one to warm their heads.  
  • Thank you God for my family & the love we have for each other - because there are people all over don't even have THAT privilege. 

I know this is such a simple concept, but one that was very difficult for me to learn - but when we have a thankful heart, we are more full of JOY & peace...REALLY!!!!! When our eyes are no longer on our "wishlist", but rather "have" list, we appreciate what's around us more, laugh more, smile more, and find the little things that tickle us more.

So even if it's just the washer, be thankful for it every time you put in a load - I do!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Hubba Hubba with the Hubby Part 2

Wow, I guess when you talk about - you know - it draws quite the crowd. I wrote on this topic because it was a personal battle for many years, and from the response I received, I see I'm not alone.

If you want to read my first more-than-open post on (you know what), click here...

Maybe you're one of those always ready for some "hubba-hubba with the hubby" kinda gals - I sure wish I could say I was, but it's just not true.

After being married for a number of years (with growing regular irritations towards my husband), life & financial stress, throw a couple kids in there, mix with a few pounds of extra hips & thigh weight, and a pinch of wrinkles...literally that became the recipe for "Don't touch me."  

I'm not at all claiming to be perfect - especially during those tough times...I'm just sharing my heart & perspective on this topic...I just wanted to put out that disclosure ;)

The more time passed in our relationship, sex sadly became a duty/chore - and it was one I rarely brought myself to fulfill.  I needed our relationship to be closer, and was willing to do just about anything...but THAT.

There was distance between my husband and I - and me being a problem solver by nature, I wanted to fix the rift between us.

Now for sure, there needed to be communication and all that, but as I started a journey of putting sex back near the top of the list, this is what I discovered.
  • First of all, it CATAPULTED our relationship into instant union - and not just physical, but emotional as well (when it became a regular priority).  It showed that my husband's needs were important to me, no matter how I felt.
  • It infused him with the "can do" attitude.  When we see our husbands tired both physically & emotionally, it's like infusing them with instant stamina for leading the family.
  • It caused him to want to serve me more with the things that are important to me.  He'd look for ways to bless me.
  • When MEN are treated as MEN, they become even more manly.  Even if you have a man who needs to "step up and be a man" in some areas, treat him as THE MAN you believe he can be, and watch him rise up and grow into THE MAN.
  • The more I made an effort, the more effortless it became, and even discovered it can be MORE fun (can it really be more exciting than it was when I first discovered the fun of sex?! YEP!!)
Wedding Day!!!!
There are most definitely days when I DIDN'T WANT TO pursue my husband physically, but we as moms don't want to touch blown-out diapers, dirty dishes, listen to whinny kids, or clean our toilets - but we do it anyways.  

A wise friend/pastor's wife once told me,  "As my husband once said to me, "If I told you I wasn't "in the mood" or was "too tired" for a nice long chat about life, the kids, and our day - every day for a couple of weeks, you would feel totally alone, angry, hurt, and like I didn't really care. Why do wives tell their husbands, over and over, that they're "not in the mood" or "too tired" for sex, when women know that sex is a primary way that men feel loved?"

So ESPECIALLY if your relationship is not great, or stress is overtaking - put "hubba-hubba" time on the priority list, take the initiative to show your husband you care about what's important to him as a man, and watch your relationship start to re-bloom.

I'm not saying it's the "fix-all" but it's sure a big piece.

We absolutely CAN NOT serve the body of Christ, other people groups, or mission fields around us if we ourselves are not unified.  Christ even said a house divided against itself can not stand (Mark 3:25)

Monday, November 19, 2012

Deposit or Withdrawl

How we treat people:
the principal of Deposits & Withdrawals

Deposit - to put good into a relationship, to invest, to bless.

Withdrawal -  Asking something of the other person - or even to remove something unnecessary, harmful - to take out.

Little People Deposits

With our kids - if we want their ear, heart, loyalty, and respect we need to make deposits before we can earn the right to make a withdrawal.  For example: Imagine if all we do is nag, discipline, or dictate - without depositing/establishing a love connection and meeting their emotional need.  Making a withdrawal or bringing correction to them will not be well received.  All it may do is cause a power struggle - an unearned right to correct, and cause serious resentment.

But when we deposit love & quality time listening to their heart, we've earned their trust, respect and the right to make a withdrawal.

The Biggest Deposit

Let me put this in the perspective of Jesus - He deposits LOVE and offers relationship FIRST (Salvation) and offers mercy & grace.  He continually makes deposits as relationship builds, and as we learn to trust Him, THEN He brings us to a place of discipline and correction - and withdraws/removes harmful habits from our lives.  He forgives and loves us through our faults, and as we learn to trust Him, we're more ready to receive His direction and correction. 

Marriage Deposits

This for sure is true in marriages - I know in times my marriage was struggling and there were things I was trying to force into change (make withdrawals) - but when I look back upon those times, the change and peace actually came when I started making unexpected and sometimes sacrificial deposits into my husband - even when I didn't FEEL like it. Once there were enough deposits, withdrawals could be easily made.

Difficult People Deposits

Of course, you can put this principal into pretty much any relationship we have - but there's one more type that most don't want to think of...and that's the difficult relationships we have - with the person we don't see eye to eye with

It's so easy to be quick to go toe to toe with someone you feel is so wrong in their thinking - and maybe they are.  But how are you handling those people?  Are you trying to withdraw - correct, change, or ask something of - and let's be honest - (in an eye rolling moment) respond dripping with irritation?

Anyone who has made positive change of direction in life (most of the time) don't do it because someone harshly judged and strong-armed them (withdrawal), but instead believed in them and walked with compassion alongside them (deposit).

Try making a deposit - like Jesus putting aside the "sin" and spending time believing in and investing in the person...depositing.

Ask yourself when faced with a difficult person or situation, have you made a deposit before you're about to withdraw?  If not, I'm sure you can imagine the reaction you'll receive if the relational bank is empty.  If it IS empty, maybe it's not your place to withdraw in this situation.

Just imagine the potential peace around all families, communities & other relationships (good & difficult) if we made a habit of ONLY depositing before making a withdrawal.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Lessons from the Tortoise

I know in scripture God has used a donkey to get a message through to His people...well in my case He used our baby redfoot tortoise named Strawberry.

I've been pondering lately - the notion of not being too busy, but I'm realizing it's something we have to actively fight against.  We seem to wear it as a badge of honor...regularly, conversations start, "How are you?", and the standard reply, "Oh, we're busy!"

On my way home from church yesterday morning, I was mulling over all the things I needed to do to be ready for the week - straighten the house from Saturday's bridal shower, get ready for a lunch meeting on Monday, finish a project I committed to, get school stuff prepared for the week...oh yes, and there was moms know where I'm coming from!

Because the weather had been SOO hot, and is now finally "play outside" weather, the girls eagerly asked if they can go ride their bikes.  Well of course I allowed off they went!

When I got in the house, I realized our baby tortoise needed her daily dose of sunshine, but I didn't want to make the girls stop their bike ride, so I decided to take her outside to toodle in the yard. 

I grabbed a beach towel, put her in the grass and just sat there - cross legged with the sunshine & gentle breeze hitting my face.  I even left my phone inside.  I just sat there.  And just sat there.  And just sat there. 

I watched the trees sway in the wind, I noticed a bird circle the area, I even saw a peculiar fuzzy looking bug land on the grass - and I just watched it.  No music, no book, no to-do list, just sat there.

We got a hydroponic garden that works as a waterfall and I even told my husband how excited I was about just sitting on the patio and listening to the waterfall...that was over a month ago, yet I've not taken the time to just sit there.
In that moment - sitting with little Strawberry, I was reminded that God speaks in the stillness.  God fills our tanks in the stillness.  God blows healing into our beings in the stillness.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Our job is NOT just to "Train up..."

I know well, and LOVE the scripture...

Train up a child in the way he should go,
Even when he is old he will not depart from it.
Proverbs 22:6 

Now I don't want to get myself in trouble here - so bear with me.

God created us to not just be “moms” but also Disciples. I hear over and over moms say when they just isolate themselves to the job of chief cook & nose blower, that there is something missing. 
That "restlessness" is God asking us to be more than the caretakers of our square-footage & it's inhabitants.

I’ve struggled with those feelings of guilt for not being perfectly happy putting my 100% time and energy into my house & daughters – now don’t get me wrong, I love them more than can be described, but I’m not just a mom, but also a Disciple of Christ. 

“Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—when they see the love you have for each other.”  John 13:34-35

May I "sheepishly" point out - it didn't say only to love our children...
I need for both the Kingdom's sake, my sake, AND the sake of being an example to my daughters that doing other things is very healthy.  I love my kitchen, BELIEVE ME...just to prove it, here's one of my latest creations (email me if you want the recipe YUMMM!)...

But, we also need to put on our "check list" being Christ to people around us.  The beautiful thing is you can INVOLVE your children as well.

I have a check-list of my "dailies" that I need to get done both for kids & house, and I always add "To be a blessing to" and pray for The Lord to drop an idea my way...I  will confess I don't always accomplish everything on it - but I give it an honest effort!

Challenge yourself weekly (or start monthly) to be a blessing, here are some small starter ideas...
  • Write and send care packages to your church's missionaries.
  • Phone or send card in the mail to encourage someone.
  • Serve at a local food pantry or soup kitchen.
  • Find someone in need and serve them.
  • Encourage your leaders (pastors, staff, boss).
  • Find someone in your church you don't know and offer to pray for them that week.
  • Visit a local care home and spend time with it's residents.
Of course everyone's life is different - so you may have more creative things on your list of ways to be Christ's disciple.

The point is, be the best mom, by being an example of love to people.  You don't have to be a pastor (or pastor's wife) to minister to needy in or out of your church.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Listening 101

Like most moms, I get about 3,872 requests from EACH child PER day.  I have found myself recently just saying "no" often because I feel like my brain is already full of things I'm trouble-shooting.

A couple weeks ago, my youngest found a turtle in our yard.  She was SOOOO excited, brought it in the house, and PLEADED to keep it (in her bargaining she even offered to sell her sister off...HAHA).  In the midst of trying to do the "normal" things, now I was trying to figure out this turtle thing...can we keep it?  What kind of work would that produce?  How much would that cost? My instant reaction was NO WAY!

When I took a deep breath from the chaos I was feeling, I sat her down to "talk" and had every intention to do ALL the talking, but as we started, I decided instead, to take a moment and listen.  My daughter respectfully shared that the ONE thing she's wanted was to have a pet of her own - since pretty much FOREVER.  She would bring in the house lizards,  lady bugs...and now this little turtle.  I really had to take a moment and receive what she was telling me.  My baby is growing up!!!

After talking with the hubbs about this idea - we investigated and found that little wild turtle was NOT a good idea - but took to heart what she shared.  We were both so inspired by her heart, respect, and maturity - I was feeling a bit sad that I didn't see this deep this desire was in her heart.

Once we made the decision & researched the best pet for her - we crossed many off the list for various reasons...

Turtle = too much work, dirty, not interactive, and carry salmonella
Rodent = if it got out, would provide our Jack Russel a fun chase, and eventually snack
Snakes or other creepy crawly = UMMM...NOT A CHANCE IN THIS WORLD!
Cat = again back to the dog wanting to torment it

So, land tortoise it was.  Since making this decision to get one, I've seen such a respect from her, maturity, and responsibility.  These are attributes we expect from our girls, but lately our daughter has been going through a "testing of the boundaries" time...and it's been a bit challenging - so the LAST thing we felt we should do was reward her this big. But when we listened and acknowledged her heart, her attitude and countenance lifted almost instantly.  I realized a lot of it has come from us having a simple listening ear towards her heart, and believing in her as a growing young lady.

So without further adu,
introducing...Lady Strawberry
Micah's baby Red Footed Tortoise. 

Micah and her daddy painting Strawberry's habitat
I share MY desk with Strawberry 

Eating dinner - Strawberries, her favorite

Saturday, September 8, 2012

#1 key to COMMUNITY

What is community?  Where do you find one?  We've moved a lot, but I’m pretty social so I fairly easily surround myself with a community.  I know there are those people who are more withdrawn, not the “outgoing” type – or even those who have been wounded by people, so they build a wall around themselves (but then are bitter because they feel so alone). I get asked all the time HOW do they find a community of friends, help, coffee talk?!?!

I could give all my tips, and tools, but I have a MUCH simpler answer.  JESUS.  He was the friend, servant, and encouragement to all He came across. He GAVE, PERIOD.

When we come in contact with people in our lives, we need to ask Jesus, and ourselves, “What’s MY part in blessing, serving, or bettering their lives?” And when we approach relationships THIS way, communities happen.   Think about it – who are you drawn to? Is it complaining, needy, negative people - or positive, helpful, servant-type people???  

Sometimes  we’d be surprised WHO the treasures God is asking us to find by befriending the most unsuspecting people – but that’s the beauty of doing things HIS WAY, and not creating our own boundaries, or keeping our walls or hurts up.

Then the benefit is; people who have BEEN blessed, encouraged & built up naturally overflow with the desire to return the blessing (and isolating walls come down). Really think about it - if someone has been a friend, encouragement, or come to your aide during a rough time, don’t you look for ways to return the favor – and VOILA – Community is born.  People loving each other.

My favorite picture of community...

43-45Everyone around was in awe—all those wonders and signs done through the apostles! And all the believers lived in a wonderful harmony, holding everything in common. They sold whatever they owned and pooled their resources so that each person's need was met.
 46-47They followed a daily discipline of worship in the Temple followed by meals at home, every meal a celebration, exuberant and joyful, as they praised God. People in general liked what they saw. Every day their number grew as God added those who were saved.   Acts 2:43-47
I'm not suggesting we all sell everything, but I absolutely love the heart that they all pooled their resources so that each person's need was met, and that they lived in wonderful harmony, exuberant & joyful.  Is that too big of a goal?

Friday, September 7, 2012

The Power of PIZZA!

In the midst of getting back into school routine - and all the balancing that goes with it, I realized how easy it is to forget FAMILY SILLY TIME.  I grabbed my daughter, gave her a hug & held her tight.  In that moment, I had to think way too hard about when we last just sat together and concentrated on our relationship with each other. I mean it hadn't been months - but it sure wasn't in the last few days...too long for me.

SOOO - IT WAS ON, like white on rice, like cheese on macaroni, we did SAUCE ON PIZZA.

I found a great little secret at Sam's can purchase a box of their deli pizza dough - 20 individually wrapped frozen dough balls for $15!!  1 ball actually does 2 pizzas very nicely, but it depends on how floofy you like your crust.  This is wonderful because we have people over A LOT, so it's a fun event for family or FAMILIES to make yummy pizzas together for really inexpensive.

All you do is thaw one out (or how many you want) for about 5-6 hours, roll it out on a pan, pre-bake it at 350 for 7-9 minutes, add the sauce of choice, dress it, and bake (for about 15 minutes depending on the oven)!

Back to Family Time...

It's amazing how much you can giggle over pizza

The FUNNIEST part of the process was finding THIS...


Happy Family Time to you all!!!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Healing of "Hubba-Hubba" with the Hubby

I have experienced first-hand being at war with my husband.  

The state of war tends to be magnified when you are in a place of personal dryness.  When there’s not enough finances, when you have little people, when there is so much demand on you, your time, your energy...  

When we as wives feel the pressure, we tend to lean that pressure into our husbands - and this creates a serious rift between a couple.

 When feeling empty, usually the LAST place you want to wring out your final ounce of energy is on the hubby.  

The first lesson I learned after many years of trying to light a firecracker under my husband to CHANGE our circumstances, and "fix things" is…

YOU can’t change your husband, only God can change your circumstances.  YOUR job is to pray (seek God's Kingdom), and encourage your husband/leader with action & words.

"...People who don't know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don't worry about missing out. You'll find all your everyday human concerns will be met."  Matthew 6:33 - The Message

Love vs The Frying Pan
Once we were arguing over some issue, and I knew I was right (I know I'm not always, but this time I was). I  put the heat on my hubby like trying to “brand” him with a hot iron of truth, but the more I pressed him, the more he’d resist and the bigger the explosion got.  We just needed to go to our separate corners of the ring for a cool off.  

That evening, I heard the Lord prompt my heart to serve him “in the bedroom”.  “NO WAY, GOD – DO YOU NOT SEE HOW WRONG HE IS?!?!?! “  is what I yelled at the creator of the universe (like that ever works - but I had to try).   

After wrestling with my feelings…and boy, I had plenty of them, and NONE were "warm fuzzy, let me cuddle up to my husband" ones.  They were more like "hit him over the head with a frying pan" ones.

As I wrestled, and wrestled with what I wanted...which was for my hubby to admit he was WRONG before I took a step closer to physically loving him, The Lord was oh so gentle to remind me to TRUST Him, and serve my hubby.  God has not let me down before, right?   

So, after some time sifting through my thoughts of using my frying pan for evil, and not scrambled eggs, I knew I could hesitate no longer.  I just needed to be obedient to serve him intimately.  I initiated some "hubba-hubba" time.  Mind you, words were different – I wasn't oozing with wanting to TELL him what a champion he was...I was still working through the fact that he was WRONG, but I knew I needed to encourage union.  In a sense, say to him with my actions that I was behind him, loving & supporting him.  

After some giggling, play, and cuddles, I no longer needed to hear (him say) how wrong he was - God had melted the anger in my heart, and filled it with love for the man I married many years ago.

But then...after our time together, the first words that came from his mouth were, “Chris, I’m such a jerk, I’m not worthy of your love, and I’m sorry.”

             OBEDIENCE. UNION. LOVE.